Friday, July 18, 2008


Billionaires for Coal gathered at a business conference down in Atlanta which was being held to help industry leaders find ways to make more bucks out of global climate change.

The Billionaires pointed out:

"The Climate Crisis poses a huge opportunity to boost profit and business possibilities whilst others bear the brunt of a dwindled clean energy economy. Billionaires for coal supports widening the income gap by ensuring higher energy prices based on volatile fossil fuels, and moving the country away from real climate solutions like energy efficiency, solar, and wind power."

The Billionaires in Atlanta were also celebrating a new coal plant planned for their state. They inducted CEO Dean Alford, President of Power4Georgians and a big backer of the proposed plant, into their society of fossil fuel profiteers for his efforts in making the plant a reality.

While gathering outside Merill Lynch in San Francisco last winter one of the Billionariers there, Jodie van Horn, lauded global warming and asked, "Why travel to the tropics when we can bring the tropics to us? We'll convert our winter properties to summer properties, and our summer properties to scuba properties."

"It's Darwinian: Survival of the Richest," said Billionaire Levana Saxon at that event.

Hey, who could argue with that.

The following is from the web site "It's Getting Hot in Here."

Billionaires for Coal Celebrate Dirty Energy at Industry Climate Conference
Published by sethgunning, July 18th, 2008 global

Local youth activists posing as billionaires gathered outside the “Climate Change: The Issue, Registries, Forestry Offsets & Strategies” Conference at the Wyndham Hotel in Midtown Atlanta on Friday, to celebrate the proposed construction of a new 850 MW coal-fired power plant by Power4Georgians. The group, calling itself “Billionaires for Coal”, posed as supporters and publicly inducted CEO Dean Alford, President of Power4Georgians, into their society of fossil fuel profiteers.

The conference, hosted by industry law firm King and Spalding, held a variety of ‘industry strategy’ seminars for utility industry executives looking to find business opportunity in a world concerned with climate change. During Friday’s lunch break, activists entered the conference calling for Dean Alford to accept his induction, citing Power4Georgians plans as a success for the extremely wealthy at the expense of Georgia’s middle class. Power4Georgian’s a consortium of 10 Georgia Electric Membership Cooperatives (EMC), including Cobb and Greystone EMC, recently announced plans to build the proposed Plant Washington outside of Sandersville, Georgia.

“As energy prices continue to skyrocket, CEO’s like Mr. Alford who invest in coal and oil help to ‘green’ the pockets of billionaires like ourselves, all at the expense of the average rate-payer” said Jackie Murray, a student from Valdosta State University. The group, an offshoot of the local Georgia Students for Sustainability, pointed to the rising price of fossil fuels like coal in contrast to recent utility company reports of record-breaking profits. Young activists also facetiously denied the benefits of renewable energy as a means to bolster the local economy, saying that new technologies put “people before profits”. CEO Alford’s speach was entitled “Climate Change and Corporate Oppurtunity”.

Georgia Students for Sustainability, a coalition of university and high-school environmental and social justice groups from across the state, has joined with community organizations and national environmental groups to oppose the coal-plant proposed for Sandersville, Georgia. Several community organizations have formed to oppose the plant in EMC territories around the state, including Cobb and Washington EMC, citing health, environmental, and economic issues among their concerns.

“We are truly happy that coal investment opportunities continue to be available, despite rising prices and environmental concerns that leave behind America’s lower and middle class communities,” said Natasha Fast, organizer for the Southern Energy Network, “role models like Dean Alford provide a great deal of wealth security to billionaires like us.” Dean Alford, who has acted as spokesman for the protested project, also owns Allied Energy Services, the contract company chosen by Power4Georgians to construct the proposed $2 billion dollar facility.

Georgia Students for Sustainability is supported by the Southern Energy Network, an inclusive youth based organization which works to promote environmental and social justice acorss the southeast. The group works in partnership with the Energy Action Coalition a national youth-based organization focused on creating economically sound solutions to the climate change crisis.


It's business as usual in Juarez.

The decomposing body of a teenage girl was found Thursday afternoon at the edge of an agricultural field in Juarez, Chihuahua state police said. The victim was found in the same subdivision that reported an attack last month against a 14-year-old girl inside a grocery store.

Investigators said the 16-year-old girl found dead was strangled. She is described, reports KVIA in El Paso, as being dark-skinned, with dark hair that was cut short at the forehead and was long at the rear.

The death was the second woman slain in Juárez this week.

On Wednesday morning, the Los Cruces Sun reports, another woman was found in the abandoned Casa Quiñonez retail center in a construction zone downtown . She died at a hospital about an hour after she was found.

The unidentified woman, who was about 45 years old, had multiples cuts and bruises on her body and may have been stabbed.

This brings to 17 the women killed so far this year in this city bordering the United States, and to more than 400 since 1993, authorities said Thursday.

Many say those numbers are way low.

Organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, for example, vehemently believe 400 is a conservative estimate, citing the Mexican government's necessity to undermine the actual count to avoid further scrutiny, for apprehension it will put further strain on political and economic relations with its trading partners.

Many of the murdered women, including the two latest victims, appear to have been sexually assaulted.

"Women murders are a sad reality and go unpunished," Maria Tabuenca and Julia Monarrez said in a book on the numerous homicides.

"There's no indication so far of any commitment from federal or state governments to solve these murders," they added.

The police, who have done such a wonderful job with this investigation for all these years say, however, they are on top of the case.

Less than a month ago, a Mexican judge sentenced Edgar Alvarez Cruz to 26 years in prison for allegedly murdering women in Juarez, Mexico.

Judge Flor Mireya Aguilar, who previously revoked the charges against Alvarez for lack of evidence, reversed herself today and found him guilty.

The same judge has presided over previous femicide cases with controversial findings and rulings.

According to the blog site of Diana Washington Valdez (an investigative reporter for the El Paso Times, and pictured above), Alvarez has repeatedly denied the allegations, and witnesses testified he could not have the committed the slayings attributed to him because he was in Colorado at the time.

Chihuahua state authorities, Valdez points out, have a history of using scapegoats to solve the women's murders, and supporters of Alvarez, including criminologist Oscar Maynez, contend there was no evidence linking the Juarez man to the crimes.

George Gonzalez, a crime investigator cited by Valdez, said the U.S. embassy in Mexico had a role in this latest episode of the notorious Juarez deaths.

"Nothing seems to change," he said. "It's the same old corruption, only this time the U.S. embassy in Mexico, which pressured the Mexican authorities to develop a conviction from the tip it provided, may be to blame for an innocent man's incarceration. Everyone knows the real killers are still out there. The killers know who they are and must be laughing.

"This is the biggest irony. You've got cops that might be crooked seeking U.S. asylum and medical treatment in New Mexico and Texas. The Mexican authorities brought out the army to calm the drug violence perpetrated by drug dealers and their corrupt accomplices. Criminals like (former Juarez police chief) Saulo Reyes are getting the red carpet treatment, even if he is in jail, while families of the femicide victims get brushed aside.

"Nobody called up the army for the girls, nor was any of them ever sent to El Paso, Texas, for treatment. I sort of expected the case against Alvarez Cruz would resurface during this chaotic time at the border, and there it is."

And there it is.

The following is from Newspaper Tree.

Group issues report on violence against women in Juarez
by NPT Staff

Editor's note: The following is an e-mail update sent by Amigos de las Mujeres de Juarez, a group that tracks violence against women in Juarez. It is a sobering assessment of conditions in that city, which, although the murder rate may exceed only slightly that of a violent U.S. city (such as Detroit), has become more and more unstable due to the drug wars and the attendant breakdown in the protections taken for granted in civil society.


This year Cuidad Juarez has been engulfed in violence. Army troops patrol the streets and over 450 men have been murdered so far this year in cartel violence. In the midst of this, Casa Amiga Centro de Crisis A.C. has recorded seventeen cases of femicide from January 1, 2008 until May 5, 2008 . The victims have ranged in age from ten to forty-eight years old. One of the victims was eight and a half months pregnant and the fetus was also lost in the crime. Seventeen of the victims could not be identified. In each case where a perpetrator was suspected or found guilty the individual was male. Several of the cases included the sexual violation of female murder victims including the case in which a ten year old girl was found completely nude in her own home with a bag of condoms next to her deceased body. Many of the victims were murdered with knifes or guns. Many were stabbed multiple times in the neck, back and chest. Other victims sustained multiple bullet wounds also to the neck and head. One twenty year old victim was stabbed three times in the neck and eight times in the back. Another victim was shot to death and found with 31 bullet wounds throughout her body. Almost half of the victims left more than one child behind. While some of the female victims were killed and left in their own homes others were left in open fields surrounding Ciudad Juarez . One victim was killed in front of her own home, another was thrown out of a moving car and another was found in a bloody hotel room where 95 bullet shells were also discovered. In one case where the identity is still unknown, a female body was found in el Valle de Juarez where the victim was determined as having been dead over a month. The remains of this unknown victim were found half nude and devoured by animals. As a result of the state of the victim’s body, the cause of death has also yet to be established. Despite the high number of murders that have already taken place this year in Ciudad Juarez the government’s efforts to investigate and determine the perpetrators of these crimes remains very low. According to WALO (Washington Office on Latin America) “flaws in the police and judicial institutions compounded by gender biases, resulted in a blatant failure of Mexican authorities to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for the murders, contributing to a climate of impunity.”

Casa Amiga along with the Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres have also determined that at least two women have been reported missing this year already. Adriana Sarmiento Enriquez was last seen on Friday January 18th of this year where her friends say she waited at a bus stop after eating with them upon leaving school. Adriana is fifteen years of age and remains missing six months after her friends last saw her. Hilda Gabriela Rivas Campos, another high school student who is sixteen years of age, disappeared in a similar manner. Hilda was walking through the center of Ciudad Juarez on her way home from school when she was last seen on February 25th of this year. The families of both of these two young women continue to search for their loved ones.

Threats to Activists
Several human rights and women’s rights activists in Ciudad Juarez work diligently to continue supporting and aiding the victims’ families in their quest to find justice for their daughters. Activists include Cipriana Jurado who works with women’s rights organizations and is also the director of the Worker Research and Solidarity Center in Ciudad Juarez . Jurado is well known for her long-time support for families of female murder victims. On April 2nd of this year, Jurado was arrested by Mexican police officers and shoved into an unmarked vehicle. Jurado had just recently returned to Ciudad Juarez and was arrested exactly a day after visiting forensic offices in an effort to further investigate a young woman’s murder. The charges made against Jurado in April of this year date back to an incident that took place during a protest in 2005, three years prior to her recent arrest. After hearing of Jurado’s arrest, several activists on both sides of the US-Mexican border came together to protest the charges made against her. The group of protesters met in front of the federal court offices in Ciudad Juarez . Among those protesting Jurado’s arrest was Casa Amiga’s Esther Chavez Cano and members from the Juarez organization Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa. Marisela Ortiz, the current spokeswoman for Nuestras Hijas, reported that she had recently received death threats via telephone and email. Also well known in the Juarez activist community is Chihuahua city lawyer, Lucha Castro, who is also the director of the Women’s Human Rights Center in Chihuahua . Castro also reported having received threats in the same manner as Ortiz. All four of the women mentioned above have been active in a widespread effort to continue the efforts to seek justice for the murdered women of Juarez . What remains puzzling is why these women, after numerous years of involvement in the efforts to end the femicide, are now being targeted and by whom?

Recent Events
Recent events in Ciudad Juarez may help explain the latest threat to female activists working in the city. According to recent reports found on, the Mexican government has implemented a military coalition known as “Operation Chihuahua Together”. In a response to increased drug trafficking and increased drug cartel related homicides the government has brought the military into the city of Juarez in an effort to control the drug crisis taking place throughout the state of Chihuahua . Unfortunately, the military presence has been unable to curb the violence. Instead the city’s murder rate has already exceeded the rate for the full year of 2007. If this trend continues, the number of murders will likely double from 2007 to 2008. Increased drug cartel activity, increasing murder rates and military attempts to crack down the violence make conditions exceptionally difficult and dangerous for femicide activists. Activists like Esther Chavez Cano and organizations like Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, and Justica para Nuestras Hijas continue to organize and fight. On March 8th of this year only a few weeks prior to the arrival of military forces in Ciudad Juarez the groups mentioned above along with other activists from both sides of the US-Mexico border joined on International Women’s day to protest the violence that continues to target the women of northern Mexico. The protest held on March 8th of this year marked the 15 year anniversary of the femicide in Ciudad Juarez .

Thursday, July 17, 2008


You think those delegates to the Democratic Convention in Denver want to run into homeless people while they're in town?

You think the city even wants anyone to know there are homeless people in the mile high city?

In what some from the "Homeless Services Industry" call an educational campaign, homeless people in Denver will be getting movie tickets and the like during the convention days.


Well, these folks say they're just demonstrating to the homeless what entertainment forums are available in the Denver area?

Oh, sure.

They'll also get tickets to the zoo. Happy days are here again.

But that's not all.

Denver's homeless also will be given access to lovely shelters normally designed to house them only during the winter. And some of these shelters will have big-screen TVs which are being donated so the "patrons" can watch the convention and stay informed about the issues being discussed.

Oh, and one of the city's ministries will run bingo games at night.

Call me cynical but I'm wondering after the convention and the cameras are all gone who is going to be providing free rides, big screen TVS, bingo cards and tickets to the movies for the homeless.

But I digress.

The high minded folks who "help" the homeless also say they don't want them getting caught up in protests.

I bet they don't!

"It just sounds like another way to get rid of them," Kayne Coy, 17, who volunteers feeding the homeless twice a week, told the Denver Post.

This plan for the homeless is being developed by Denver Department of Human Services, Denver Police Department and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Conservatives are making this a big issue. This is no doubt because of their great compassion for homeless people. Hell, they'll give em tickets out of town anytime.

One conservative blogger, some Colorado yoyo named Perry Peterson summed up the conservative thought process rather well. On his
blog he commented on this "ticket" campaign:

"A more sure way to get them off the streets is to give them beer money and send them to LoDo (Lower Downtown) bars. How long would a wino agree to stay at the Zoo or Museum of Nature and Science?"

The homeless population in Denver is estimated at 5000.

Because the Oread Daily is fair and balanced I'll give you the best argument put forth by those who have come up with the "educational" idea.

Some homeless advocates wrote a commentary in the Denver Post on the controversy. Deborah Dilley, John Parvensky and Jamie Van Leeuwen wrote:

"Despite the new housing and services brought online and widespread media coverage, as the Democratic National Convention gears up each of us has been asked where we are going to hide our homeless during the convention. The short answer: We don't hide the homeless — ever. We as a community are working hard to help the more than 3,900 men, women and children obtain affordable housing and services to ensure that nobody has to live on the streets."

We are excited about the DNC and the opportunity to further educate our community and the nation about the plight of the homeless. Denver's Road Home was here two years before anyone was talking about the DNC and will be here long after it is gone."

We are inviting homeless people to participate in the political process. In the days leading up to and during the convention, you will find the Denver Rescue Mission and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, along with the Clergy Council, hosting voter-registration opportunities. The Salvation Army hosted a Fourth of July picnic for the homeless, where they learned about the convention. Outreach workers and police officers are teaming up to connect with the homeless and staff of service providers throughout the community to educate them on what to expect."

In case you think Denver isn't friendly to the homeless, you should know panhandling is legal. Of course, there are almost a dozen restrictions, including asking for money too close to a restaurant or a bar, a bus stop, or an automated teller machine.

Randle Loeb, who was homeless on Denver's streets for six years had a novel idea. Denver will have all the movers and shakers in the country talking about everything from global warming to health care to preschool, he says — so why not make a platform for homelessness? Why not get some of the people in their darkest days, those right out of jail or foster care, in on the discussion?

"We have a new generation of homeless people. . . . What are we going to do to put this front and center?" Loeb asked.

Jamie Van Leeuwen, director of Denver's Road Home — the city's homeless initiative says he is working to get an audience at the convention, but it's "been tricky," he said, "trying to confirm the logistics."

You don't say.

The following is from the Denver Channel.

Free Movie Tickets A Plan To Hide Homeless During DNC?

When thousands of delegates converge in the Mile City in August, downtown Denver won't look exactly like it does now.

Free movie tickets and passes to Denver's cultural attractions will be given out to homeless people just in time for the Democratic National Convention.

Several groups that help the homeless announced Wednesday that they are making changes during the DNC. But the plan is seen, by some, as a plan to hide the city's homeless, estimated to be roughly 3,800 the summertime.

A DNC advisory committee devoted just to handling the homeless issue has been working on a plan for the past four months with the help of Denver police, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, the Denver Rescue Mission and other shelters.

The homeless will be offered free movie passes, tickets to the Denver Zoo, museums, and other cultural facilities. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless will also hand out free bus tickets so the homeless can attend events that aren't nearby.

Some shelters will open their doors during the daytime and have more cots available at night. A spokeswoman for the Denver Rescue Mission said the shelter will almost double its overnight capacity. Some shelters will also have big-screen TVs so the homeless can watch convention activities without being out on the busy streets, caught up in the chaos.

Organizers say it's not an attempt to sweep away the homeless but it's more of an effort to educate them.

"There are no plans to relocate the homeless, to keep them out of the downtown area. If anything, we're trying to educate the homeless population on what is available, what entertainment they can go to, you know, how they can be involved as well," said Denver Rescue Mission's Greta Walker.

The committee thinks this is a way to make sure the homeless aren't harassed by police or Secret Service and aren't unknowingly caught up in the activities and protests in the area. Extremely tight security is expected around the Pepsi Center, Invesco Field at Mile High and Civic Center Park, where thousands of protesters are expected.

"It's better than them doing a police sweep. What good is that going to do? It's going to clog the jails that are already clogged," said Cecil Miller, a homeless man. "I'd love to go to a movie. I'd take my wife if we could get somebody to watch our stuff."

The homeless have already been told that aggressive panhandling and asking for money near an ATM are illegal. During the week, a voter registration drive will target homeless shelters and low-cost or free health clinics.

The Democratic National Convention will be held in downtown Denver from Aug. 25 to Aug. 28.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Mahbooba Ahadgar is a rather incredible women when you think about it. Ahadgar is the only women from Afghanistan who has been scheduled to be in this years Beijing Olympics.

Recently, she disappeared while training in Italy but has now resurfaced alive and well and afraid.

According to Spiegel International, Ahadgar phoned her parents, who live in a poor section of Kabul, and told them she is seeking political asylum in Norway due to death threats spread by extremists who disapprove of women taking part in sports.

"When I was in Kabul, I received many anonymous phone calls from people who threatened me and told me not to compete in sports. Even some of our neighbors have harassed me about it," Ahadgar said not too long ago, but before she took off.

Indeed,in her own country her activities have courted daily taunts, including death threats...even though she was proud of her Muslim religion, and determined to run in Beijing in a headscarf and a tracksuit.

Ahadgar wasn't a wild eyed commie or anything.

“Apart from running," Ahadgar told the London Times recently, "I just help out at home due to our family background, which requires me to take care of the house properly, as a woman. I need to change this concept and I presume my country will accept and adhere to it. I’m the model for my country, being a woman in a typical Muslim nation. I’m very proud to say that I will be participating in the Olympic Games. By virtue of these opportunities, many women from my country are participating in many sports, and this will help to develop a better managed sports country.”

But that wasn't to be for this young Afghani women.

Follwoing her disappearance, the head of the Afghan Olympic Federation reportedly threatened to throw her family in jail if she did not return to Afghanistan.

Let's hope it was a bluff, but in Afghanistan who can be sure?

Mahbooba Ahadgar was not likely to win any medals in Beijing. She isn't really in that class.

But so what.

"Her role," wrote Peter Popham in the Independnet (UK), "was to bring the lustre of women's athletic prowess to her war-torn country, and prove that the Olympic ideal can shine brightly even in Kabul."

That would have been enough.

But in Afghanistan today (as yesterday and the day before that and...) that was, perhaps, asking too much.

Popham writes, "She chose to train in a headscarf and tracksuit to avoid being criticised for immodesty, and timed her runs for the evening when most Kabulis are at home watching their favourite soap opera. But when foreign journalists came calling at the family home to interview her, neighbours phoned the police and reported that she was receiving men as a prostitute. Her father was briefly thrown in jail until the confusion was cleared up."

Can't imagine why she decided to hit the road.

The following is from the London Times.

Fears ease after missing Afghan athlete found

Mahbooba Ahadgar, who was the only Afghan female scheduled to be competing in the Beijing Olympic Games next month, has resurfaced after going missing in Italy last week and is en route to Norway, where she will be seeking asylum.

When Ahadgar could not be found at her training camp in Formia on Thursday, there were fears that her disappearance may have been linked to a series of death threats that she had received at home from Muslim extremists, who are opposed to the concept of a woman running in the Olympics.

However, concerns for her family's safety are not over because, since Ahadgar's mysterious disappearance, her parents have been under so much pressure from the Afghan Olympic Committee in Kabul to get their daughter back into her spikes that they have been threatened with imprisonment. Her parents, though, were also in the dark as to her whereabouts until she phoned them on Tuesday.

While her safety is a relief within Olympic circles, her decision to go into hiding a month before the Games is a galling blow because, as an Afghan woman who is proud of her athleticism and her Muslim religion, she became a poster girl for the Games. Ahadgar had been on a scholarship from the Olympic Solidarity programme, which financed training camps in Kuala Lumpur and Italy, even though her running times in her event, the 1,500 metres, meant that she would struggle to finish within a minute of the winners.

Ahadgar is not the first Olympic Solidarity scholar to seek asylum in this way. Two Bangladeshi athletes also vanished last year and a runner from Gabon did the same in 2001.


This follow up on the Robin Long (pictured here) story from yesterday comes from the blog We Move to Canada.

vigil for robin long in bellingham tonight

Robin Long is being held in the Whatcom County Jail in Bellingham, Washington, just over the border from Vancouver. We believe Robin will next be taken by US Army officials to Fort Carson, Colorado, but we don't know when.

The Sanctuary City Campaign of Bellingham will host a peace vigil tonight to show community support for Robin and opposition to his arrest. Members of the War Resisters Support Campaign from BC will join them.

311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham, in front of the county jail

6:00 to 10:00 p.m.


Some will say "whatever happened to free speech," but for me its deja vu all over again.

In a ruling that would have made Mayor Daley proud a federal court in Minneapolis decided that there were no lessons to be learned from the 1968 Democratic Convention. Judge Joan Ericksen said the government officials have security reasons to justify the restrictions on the permit for the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War.

For those of you too young to remember, Chicago back then in '68 decided that those nasty hippie radicals should not be allowed to camp in city parks during the convention...the result was a police riot, street battles, and shame for the Windy City (see first picture above).

I'll tell you one lesson learned after the Chicago convention once and for all was that the whole notion of even bothering with the whole "permit thing" was a waste of time.

"The streets belong to the people" became a popular cry.

One group that I suspect agrees with that cry is the The RNC Welcoming Committee which states boldly:
"For those of you who abhor the rapid growth of racist militarized borders across stolen lands, the raids and deportations, destruction and commodification of our shared and living earth, police brutality and prison industry, fear propaganda and subjugation, exploitation and robbery of peoples worldwide, and all forms of injustice and oppression - we ask you to be prepared for 2008. This will require new alliances, strong networks, the awakening of those who’ve given up, as well as the mobilization of those who’ve never before taken action. Let’s use this opportunity to make the changes we thirst for manifest and take root before us, making the Republicans/Democrats (whatever you want to call them) obsolete."

The group also makes just as clear what it wants:
"1. Build Our Capacity – A new reality will not emerge by simply stopping the 4 day spectacle of the RNC. We need folks with an alternative vision to come to the Twin Cities and turn their dreams into reality. Start something new, be creative, and come ready to build sustainable alternatives worth fighting for and defending. The new skills that we teach, learn, and put into practice here will allow us to return to our communities stronger, smarter, and more empowered.

2. Crash the Convention – We didn’t get an invitation, but we’re showing up anyway. This party will be what we make of it. We don’t want to confine our potential by imposing a single vision of what success will look like. We recognize that there will be a lot of people coming with their own agendas and carefully laid plans and want to be open to the diverse tactics that will be necessary to accomplish our many goals. Together, we can derail the purely ceremonial show of this repressive system and remake it with our own hands and according to our own visions."

The following good advise comes from The Protest RNC 2008 Coalition. I'm printing it in full.

"Hey friends, comrades and community members!


As the Republican National Convention draws
closer and the number of federal agent encounters
increases, the Protest RNC 2008 Coalition reminds
you not to talk to police, FBI or any other
governmental agents. The Protest RNC 2008
Coalition is working to expose recent encounters
that have occurred in our homes, neighborhoods
and communities. The only role played by agents
in these encounters is to facilitate breakdown
of community solidarity. "

The FBI recently offered compensation to an
individual to spy on “vegan potlucks” and provide
information that would lead to arrests of

(see Moles Wanted at"

The St. Paul police department recently made phone calls and issued
letters to activist groups from their so-called
"Free Speech Liaison Team” in which they stated
they consider communication with activists
similar to hostage negotiations. "

Not only are these efforts by agents of the state
thinly-veiled attempts to gather intelligence on
our groups, they are also meant to subvert the
important solidarity we have forged through the
St. Paul Principles. Many of these attempts
involve friendly-sounding agents who try to
convince us they are "on our side" but make no
mistake--they are not. No matter what they say,
these agents are not here to assist you in any
way. Any information you provide can lead to your
arrest or the arrest of others you know. Police
are eager to find ways to counteract the
excellent organizing our community has done over
the past year. Let's not give it to them."

Here are three common types of encounters used by
the police or FBI to obtain information about activists:

Conversation: When the police are trying to get
information, but don't have enough evidence to
detain or arrest you, they'll try to get the
information from you. They may call this a
“casual encounter” or a "friendly
conversation.” Even if you think the information
is meaningless, you may unwittingly help
them. It's always better and safer to refuse to
talk to police. If approached by a cop, say
"officer am I being detained or am I free to
go?" If you aren't being detained, leave. "

Detention: Police can detain you only if they
have reasonable suspicion that you are involved
in a crime. (Reasonable suspicion is a complex
topic but generally involves specific facts that
provide some objective manifestation that the
person detained may be involved in criminal
activity.) Detention means that although you
aren't arrested, you can't leave. Detention is
supposed to last a short time and you aren't
supposed to be moved to another location. During
detention, the police can only pat down the
outside of your clothes or look into your bag or
backpack if they have probable cause to believe
you have a weapon. They aren't supposed to go
into your pockets unless they first feel a weapon
through your clothing. Always state, "I do not
consent to this search." If police ask
questions, say “I am going to remain silent. I
want a lawyer,” and nothing else. A detention can
easily turn into arrest. If the police are
detaining you and they get information that you
are involved in a crime, they will arrest you
even if it has nothing to do with your detention.
The purpose of detention to try to obtain enough
information to arrest you. "

Arrest: If you are arrested, the cops can search
you and go through any belongings. It never
hurts to say, "I do not consent to this
search." Better yet, keep any contraband or
important documents at home. Be aware that
anything you say will be picked up by the squad
camera. Therefore, DON'T SAY ANYTHING except “I
am going to remain silent. I want a lawyer.” No
matter what happens, resist the temptation to
answer questions or make statements. Once in the
jail, you will be required to give your legal
name and address. Do not discuss your case with
anyone in the jail. Assume everything you say in
jail is being recorded, including telephone
conversations and conversations with lawyers."

You or someone you know can be approached by a
cop or FBI agent in any environment at any time:
at home, in a car or on the street. They will
continuously put pressure on you to talk to them
by trying to engage you in questioning, playing
the role of a “good” cop, saying that they know
everything already, etc. Regardless of their
reassurances, threats or questions continue to
say: “I am going to remain silent. I want a
lawyer”. This is the only way to ensure safety
for yourself and the people around you. "

If you are approached by a cop or FBI agent,
document (discretely) as well as possible whether
it be through pictures, notes, or
video-taping. After the encounter is over,
contact everyone you know as soon as possible and
post your encounter anonymously to list serves,
websites and forums. It's everyone's job to keep
ourselves and our movements safe from
infiltration and spying by police
authorities. Know your rights and report any
incidents to the rest of the movement. To learn
more about what to do if approached, please visit
the National Lawyers Guild website at"

For those who are looking for up close and personal legal advice as to their rights in what will be a hot time in the city. There will be a FREE know-your-rights training presented by
Coldsnap Legal Collective.

Friday, July 25th
5 p.m., Loring Park
right before Critical Mass!

Meet up at the fountain in Loring Park right before Critical Mass to learn how to protect yourself during encounters with the police. The more you know your rights, the more you can prevent the cops from trampling them...and the better you can protect yourself in the legal system when/if they do!

And remember one of those good ole 68 chants, "THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING!"

The following is from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Federal judge rules against RNC protesters

A federal judge in Minneapolis issued a decision today, upholding the terms of a demonstration permit issued by the St. Paul police department for an antiwar march at the Republican National Convention.

U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen rejected virtually every argument made by attorneys for the protest group who had sought a march route that would have come close to encircling the Xcel Energy Center and would have continued later into the day so delegates would see the demonstrators when they arrived for an evening session on Sept. 1.

Citing past court decisions, Ericksen adopted the view of the St. Paul police department and the city of St. Paul that it was granting unprecedented access to the protesters for a convention of a major political party.

The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War applied for a permit in October 2006 to march on the convention on the first day of the four-day event. The group eventually received a permit from the police on May 16 of this year. Since then, the police have agreed to slight changes in the permit route and under the current terms of the permit, protesters will be allowed to march on the convention, starting at the State Capitol, from noon to 4 p.m., but marchers must clear a small intersection across the street from the Xcel Center by 3 p.m.

The coalition wanted the march to pass by both sides of the Xcel Center, and start later, so that activists from other cities could participate in the march and so delegates arriving at the evening session would see them.

Ericksen said in her opinion that the march would pass near media tents so journalists would see the demonstrators.

She also said that police were willing to accommodate the coalition's demonstration if there was a morning or early afternoon session.

She also noted that with the presence of high ranking officials, including the President and Vice President, and the possible security threats to the convention outlined by the Secret Service, the city of St. Paul and police department "have a substantial interest in securing the area immediately surrounding the convention site."

She also noted that police have cited the possibility that other groups were threatening to seek to shut down the convention site through blockades.

"By preventing encirclement of the convention site, the denial of the coalition's application minimizes the potential for a blockade," Ericksen wrote.

Teresa Nelson, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, said last week that it could be expected that there would be an appeal of the case to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals by whichever party lost in district court.

The protest groups are represented by attorneys for the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, and several attorneys from prominent local law firms who have donated their time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Water and the lack thereof is a big issue out west.

Joan McCarter, a researcher of Western politics writes:

"Water in the West has become like the weather, everybody talks about it but nobody does much about it. The political hot potato has become no less cool, though definitely less violent, since farmers and ranchers squared off over a century ago. "

Said Lawrence MacDonnell, co-author of "A New Western Water Agenda," a policy report from Western Progress, "More and more, we are seeing a realization across the West that the conservation and sustainability of water is essential to our future."

Denise Fort, the other co-author of the report and a professor at the University of New Mexico Law School adds, "The status quo simply won't work. We must find new ways to decrease our use of the limited water supply we face in the West."

In New Mexico, a state court recently backed a historic western tradition which holds that those who use the water first can't suddenly be denied the water later...a ruling that flies in the face of developer interests."

In North Idaho residents with questions about the controversial process of sorting out who owns what water rights are being invited to a series of town hall meetings next week. Idaho is about to embark on a massive adjudication – a court process to document who holds valid water rights and who doesn't.

The state of Washington is moving in a similar direction, as both it and Idaho are concerned about their shared drinking source, the massive underground Spokane-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

Las Vegas, just about the fastest growing places around, says it desperately needs more water. So its made plans for a 285-mile pipeline to tap the aquifer that stretches from Salt Lake City to Death Valley and take the water the resort mecca.

There is just one problem. Utah wants to build a pipeline on Lake Powell to suck up Colorado River water and send it northward to growing desert communities.

"Eventually, though," writes the Salt Lake Tribune, "...the outcome of this tale of two pipelines, begun with an agreement struck 86 years ago to share the Colorado and now groaning under rapid population growth and climate distress, could shake the foundations of Western water law.

But wait, there are these Indians who don't also want a say.

It seems they are insisting on being be heard. Fermina Stevens, spokeswoman for the Elko TeMoak Band of the Western Shoshone said the Bureau of Indian Affairs in January signed an agreement that the tribe wouldn't oppose the Snake Valley drawdown. But the BIA - part of the Interior Department, which is managing the Snake Valley environmental analyses - didn't talk to the tribes first.

"The Western Shoshone people have always asserted Nevada is ours," Stevens said. "It never has been legally ceded to the United States. Except the United States is not willing to recognize that, of course."

Ona Segundo, chairwoman of the Kaibab Band of Paiutes in Pipe Spring, Ariz., said they were surprised to learn the Lake Powell pipeline would cut through their reservation. After the tribe objected, engineers working for Utah and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission moved the alignment on the map. But that doesn't mean the tribe can't weigh in on the issue, she says.

The truth is there just isn't going to be enough water to go around to continue with the over development of our western states which has been progressing along as if nothing could stop it.

The report from Western Progress mentioned above from bluntly and simply states:

"Throughout the West it is increasingly difficult to find water sources that are not already committed to another use. Most rivers have been dammed to capture high flows and to recapture water for subsequent use. Ground water has been tapped at rates well beyond the ability of aquifers to recharge, so water levels have dropped and associated surface water has declined. Alteration of aquatic systems for water development has caused extinction of species of fish, and others are in jeopardy. The West is approaching a zero-sum game in which the benefits of developing additional water are offset by the losses."

Dan Whipple writes at the blog New West its time for a change:

"Most of the water in the West belongs to the individual states. But they simply turned it over it to the first people who showed up asking for it and have never looked back. State laws governing water allocations have been virtually unchanged since the Earps took out the Clantons."

So, speaking of change, what are the guys running for President thinking about this.

John McCain ought to have a lot to say...coming from Arizona and all. He claims to be the candidate who understands the issue.

McCain has said that he has several principles he would apply to the issue of water rights. First, existing water rights should be respected and protected. Second, any modifications to the allocation of water supply should be negotiated among the affected stakeholders to ensure just and proper outcomes. Third, to the maximum extent possible, water rights disputes should be resolved in state and local courts that can recognize and protect all legitimate claims, rights and authorities. Fourth, any necessary mediation of water rights disputes must recognize applicable law, involve all affected local communities, and ensure that water is used responsibly, sustainably, and for maximum public benefit.

I'm not sure he is saying anything, are you?

He fails to mention the actual problem of declining availability of water and what to do about it out in his neck of the woods.

Let's check out a McCain vote.

Since the early 1990s, scientists have warned that ground water pumping by the burgeoning communities near the Army's Fort Huachuca threatens to dry up the San Pedro. Yet when McCain faced a crucial vote in 2003 about whether to protect the San Pedro River or assure the long-term presence of Fort Huachuca and its high-desert boom towns, The Washington Independent notes McCain voted to save the base. At the river's expense, McCain voted to exempt the fort from a key provision of the Endangered Species Act.

And I'll bet McCain surprised his state's residents when he told a crowd in Michigan recently Great Lakes states are right to protect their water from dry regions such as his home state of Arizona.

Sen. Obama probably never gave the whole "water" issue much thought at all. This is reflected by the fact that its damn hard to find anything he has to say related to the subject.

Obama says he would create a federal level "problem solving initiative." Boy, that is getting down and dirty isn't it. He also speaks of developing "partnerships to nourish a healthy environment and sustain a vibrant economy." Does anyone have a guess as to what that might mean. Obama says he would encourage voluntary water banks, waste-water treatment, and "other market based measures."

Somehow the hope that the "market" will save the west doesn't comfort me.

The following is from the Albuquerque Journal.

Domestic Wells No Longer A Given

A state court this week threw out New Mexicans' longstanding legal right to drill a domestic water well without having to worry about whether it would leave less water for their neighbors.

The ruling is a victory for activists who say that uncontrolled domestic well drilling poses a long-term threat to New Mexico's ability to manage its dwindling water supples. But the details of how the ruling will affect developers who rely on domestic wells to supply the homes they build is unclear, experts said Friday.

The automatic right to a domestic well, Judge J.C. Robinson of the Sixth Judicial District Court in Silver City concluded, conflicts with the historic Western principle, written into the New Mexico constitution, that the first users of water in a region have the highest priority water rights.

That historic Western water right usually means that, if you want to move into an area and start using water, you need to prove that your use will not leave less water for the people who were there first.

But New Mexico law has long had what Consuela Bokum, a Santa Fe water activist, called "a big loophoole."

Under a 1950s-era state law, small wells drilled to supply water for your own home were exempt. If you wanted to drill one, you had to file an application with the Office of State Engineer, the state's water management authority. But the State Engineer was required by law to approve it, without checking to see if the well would take water away from older water users in the area.

At the time the law was passed, the impact was minimal compared to the time required for State Engineer staff to review each well permit.

Over the years, the number of domestic well permits has grown to between 7,000 and 8,000 per year, according to State Engineer John D'Antonio. As a result, the domestic well permit loophole has been a hot spot in New Mexico water politics over the last decade.

This week's ruling came in a case bought by Horace and Jo Bounds, descendants of a family that has been farming along the Mimbres River near Silver City for four generations. The Boundses and their attorney, Las Cruces lawyer Steve Hernandez, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The Boundses sued the State Engineer, arguing that the process that granted wells to be drilled to supply water to new houses in the region were reducing the water they were legally entitled to.

Under state law, if the developers had diverted water from the Mimbres River, the State Engineer would have been required to review the diversion to make sure it did not violate the Boundses' water rights. If it did, the application could be turned down. But the law also required domestic wells to be issued regardless of their effect.

Robinson's ruling does not prohibit domestic permits. But it does require the State Engineer to conduct a review before issuing a domestic well permit to make sure the well will not harm other higher-priority water rights holders. In the case of the Boundses, it does not throw out previously issued permits, but requires future permits to be reviewed for their effects on prior water rights.

That could include both nearby well users and irrigators who use water from rivers and streams. Groundwater pumping generally decreases surface water flows.

The need to conduct a full water rights review for each of the 7,000 to 8,000 well permits submitted each year would pose an enormous increase in workload that the State Engineer's staff is not prepared to handle, D'Antonio said.

The next step in the case is a decision about whether the Office of State Engineer will appeal. That decision will not happen until next week at the earliest. In interviews Friday, D'Antonio and State Engineer chief counsel D.L. Sanders said they find themselves in a delicate position on the question of an appeal because they largely agree with the judge's ruling, despite having been on the losing side.

D'Antonio said he has been trying to warn state officials for some time that the domestic well rule was probably unconstitutional, but efforts to create a legislative fix for the problem have repeatedly failed.

Bokum, director of the Water Project for 1000 Friends of New Mexico, a group concerned about the state's growth, said the decision is a welcome legal recognition of the reality of New Mexico's water future.

"We don't have unlimited water in the state, and we're at the point where we can't afford to allow people to go stick holes in the ground if there's not an adequate water supply," Bokum said.


An anti-war demonstration is happening at the Vancouver-Seattle international border crossing today to condemn Ottawa's decision to deport American army deserter Robin Long.

The deportation order was upheld Monday by Canada's Federal Court. If the order is carried out today, it is believed that Long would become the first American war resister to be sent back to the United States.

The 25-year-old Long of Boise, Idaho fled to Canada to avoid serving in Iraq. He was arrested in Nelson, B.C., last October on a Canada-wide warrant.

Long had said he tried to gain refugee status in Canada because he believes he would suffer harm if he had to return to his home country.

There are an estimated 200 American army deserters who have sought refugee status in Canada.

Alternet reports:
"...just last week, another war resister, Corey Glass, narrowly averted deportation -- for the time being -- when a federal court granted him a stay while his case makes its way through the Canadian legal system. Dozens of other cases remain in a similar state of legal limbo. Eight could result in imminent deportation."

In the ruling issued yesterday afternoon, Justice Ann Mactavish wrote that "Mr. Long has not provided clear and non-speculative evidence to support his contention that he would be singled out for harsh treatment by the Americans because of the publicity associated with this case."

In a recent Angus Reid poll, almost two-thirds of Canadians said they want U.S. Iraq War conscientious objectors to be allowed to stay in Canada. The government decision and court ruling also flies in the face of the Parliamentary motion adopted June 3 by a majority of MPs calling for the conscientious objectors to be allowed to remain in the country to apply for permanent resident status, and for deportation proceedings to cease immediately.

Lee Zaslofsky, a spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign commenting on the decision stated, "The federal government's single-minded determination to deny the legitimacy of conscientious objection to what is plainly an illegal war rife with human rights abuses is abhorrent. Robin himself has been harassed by authorities by being arrested for violating a deportation order of which neither he nor his counsel were ever advise . He's been held in jail since July 4 and treated with disrespect by our government which seems intent on imposing American military law in Canada."

The Regina Leader Post reports American war resisters in Canada have been much in the news recently. The Leader Post writes, "Last week, Canadian courts granted deserter Corey Glass a stay of removal and, in a separate case, ordered the Immigration and Refugee Board to reconsider the failed refugee claim of another resister, Joshua Key."

The following is from Peace Arch News.

Deportation protesters at border
By Laura Baziuk - Peace Arch News

About 30 people gathered at the Peace Arch Tuesday morning to protest the deportation of American war resister Robin Long.

Bearing brightly coloured signs, both American and Canadian members of the Vancouver War Resisters’ Support Campaign protested Monday’s ruling of a federal court to deny Long’s application for a stay of his deportation order, after the court also rejected refugee status.

The 25-year-old Boise, Idaho, man was ordered in March 2005 to report to Iraq for service. After two years as a tanker in the U.S. army at Fort Knox, he escaped to Eastern Canada and applied for refugee status. He has been in custody on a Canadian Border Services Agency warrant since July 4.

He has now been deported to the United States, but Long supporter Carleen Pickard said it is not known what could happen to him.

Long could be jailed, court-martialed, deployed or face the death penalty, Pickard said at the Douglas crossing.

The New Democratic Party yesterday called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to stop Long’s deportation.

“The Canadian government and the Canadian people do not support George Bush’s illegal war in Iraq,” said NDP MP Bill Siksay in the statement. “We must have the courage of those convictions and back them up by ensuring that Americans who take a stand against that war receive a welcome in Canada.”


Hotels workers around the world tend to get screwed whenever they try to organize. Few people who patronize the hotels these men and women labor in notice them or their struggles. That really needs to change.

In the last few days hotel workers from the Pacific Beach Hotel in Hawaii traveled to Japan for support in their ongoing battle with a big Hawaiian Hotel Corporation. They made presentations to the major Japan travel agencies and JATA (the Japan Association of Travel Agents).

It seems that after two NLRB-run elections, workers of Pacific Beach Hotel finally won the right to be represented by the ILWU Local 142 and began negotiations for a first contract. That was two years ago, but the workers still have no contract to protect their wages, benefits and working conditions. Worse yet, HTH Corporation, the longtime owner of the Pacific Beach Hotel and the Pagoda Hotel and Restaurant, took over management of the Waikiki property in December, laying off 32 workers and demoting others in the process. HTH subsequently said it believed that Local 142's National Labor Relations Board certification had expired and refused to negotiate with the union.

Justice at the Beach, a coalition of community groups, educators, lawmakers, churches, and unions last December asked the public to boycott HTH Corporation. Justice on the Beach is still asking the public to respect the boycott of all HTH Corporation entities, including Pacific Beach and the Pagoda Hotel and Restaurant, until Pacific Beach fully respects federal labor law and negotiates in good faith with the workers.

In August the group will take to the streets in Hawaii during Obon. Obon is an annual Buddhist event for honoring and remembering your ancestors. It is one of the three busiest travel seasons in Japan and many Japanese will be visiting Hawaii. Justice at the Beach is planning to picket the Pacific Beach Hotel and other activities during the week of August 12.

The Pacific Beach Hotel is deliberately and repeatedly violating its workers' rights - proving that hotel management does not understand the meaning of the word "aloha."

There is a petition you can check out at

Below is an appeal on behalf of another group of hotel workers, these in Indonesia, with a similar fight and a similar story.

The following appeal is from the International Union of Food workers.

Stop Repression of Workers Rights at Jakarta Hotel Gran Melia!

Major Spanish-based hotel chain Sol Melia has moved to squash workers' rights in their flagship Indonesian hotel, the Jakarta Gran Melia. In 2005 the hotel signed a collective agreement with the IUF-affiliated SPM Gran Melia, but management has systematically refused to implement what they've signed and agreed to. Management has targeted union members, officers and activists for dismissal, withheld money owed the union from the dues checkoff and service charge, barred union representatives from the premises and installed invasive and humiliating surveillance equipment in order to intimidate the union and its members. You can support the union's ongoing struggle by writing to Sol Melia CEO Gabriel Escarrer. Click here!