Friday, September 12, 2008


Two doctors who are deeply involved in HIV prevention and treatment still being detained in Iran. Dr. Arash Alaei and his brother, Dr. Kamiar Alaei (both of whom are pictured here), are known internationally for their efforts to raise the profile of HIV/AIDS issues with the Iranian government, and for their roles in creating harm reduction programs for prisoners and young people.

The brothers were arrested more than two months ago. It is feared that they are being tortured in Tehran's notorious Ervin Prison.

Both doctors have travelled internationally for professional reasons and Dr Kamiar Alaei is a doctoral candidate at the State University of New York (SUNY) Albany School of Public Health. He holds a Masters degree in International Health from Harvard University and is due to resume his studies in Albany later in 2008. Earlier this year, the Asia Society recognized him as a 2008 Asia Fellow, "one of 23 new fellows identified as being among the most promising trendsetters and emerging leaders in the Asia-Pacific region." Dr Arash Alaei is the former Director of the International Education and Research Cooperation of the Iranian National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease

Drug Policy News reports Arash Alaei was slated to speak at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City earlier this summer. But on June 22, he was arrested by Iranian police. The following day they took his brother Kamiar, seizing documents from both brothers.

Since President Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, he has withdrawn support for Iran’s highly respected (and surprising to many) syringe exchange projects promoted by Arash and Kamair, initiatives hailed by the United Nations as "courageous" and "visionary." Iran has a serious drug use problem, particularly with heroin use, that has fueled the epidemic.

At that International AIDS Conference in Mexico City Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman,chair of the steering committee for amfAR’s TREAT Asia initiative, who established the Infectious Diseases Unit at the University of Malaya Medical Centre spoke about the brothers:.

"At this point I would like to take a minute of my presentation to appeal to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Arash and Kamiar Alaei from custody and the charges that have been brought upon them."

I have met the brothers on many occasions and had the opportunity to visit your beautiful country as a Faculty member of the HIV/TB training course for the region that they organized."

It was through the inspiration that was gained by the visit to your country that the Malaysian Prison Department has implemented opiate substitution therapy in the Malaysian prison system."

As a fellow Muslim I appeal to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the name of Allah the Most Merciful and Compassionate to release these brothers immediately."

It seems apparent that the brother's deep ties to the US medical community and to international nonprofit organizations have clearly touched a nerve with the Iranian regime and is the sole casue for their arrest.

The Alaei brothers, who helped found a series of cutting-edge AIDS clinics in Iran, participated in the first-ever US-funded people-to-people exchange with post-revolutionary Iran in 2006, visiting Tufts-New England Medical Center and other medical-related sites with a group of other Iranian doctors.

Deputy Tehran prosecutor Hassan Haddad told Iran's semiofficial ISNA news agency that two brothers used AIDS conferences to "recruit individuals" to overthrow the Iranian government, according to The Associated Press. They have been charged with violating national security.

Clinton Henry Trout, a former classmate of Kamiar's, told the Boston Globe, "In all my time with Kamiar and Arash, they never criticized the [Iranian] government," adding that the brothers believed they had the support of their country. However, Bahari said that Arash had been "harassed by different parts of the Iranian intelligence apparatus for the past two years."

Maziar Bahari, a London-based Iranian filmmaker who made a BBC documentary in 2004 featuring the brothers' work against HIV/AIDS said, "The Iranian government is paranoid about any contract with foreigners." Bahari added that the paranoia was sometimes understandable considering the U.S. government's stance on Iran but that "these brothers should not be in prison. They were not trying to overthrow the government."

The following is from the Iranian Political Prisoners Association.

Kamyar and Arash Alaii under torture in Iran

Both Kamyar and Arash Alaii were arrested on 23 June 2008 by security forces, and are still in detention after 2 months under going interrogation and torture.

The Alaii brothers have been vanguards in combating Aids in Iran.

According to reports by the Student Committee of the Human Rights Reporters, the two Doctors have been separated in solitary confinement and are undergoing immense pressure. Apparently security officials have managed to compel them to fake confessions suggesting their involvement in a plot to overthrow the government. They have been threatened not to ask for lawyers.

The Islamic Republic had previously charged the Alaii brothers of "acting to overthrow the Islamic Republic", through establishing an NGO, affiliated to the USA.

This has been the case during last year in which civil activists have been targeted with charges such as "acting to overthrow the government", in order to pave the way for security forces to carry out widespread arrests.

Dr.Kamyar Alaii has been a researcher in Harvard University and the founder of triangular clinics, specialist in World Health planning, and an activist in preventing the spread of Aids in Iran.

Before his arrest, in an interview with the Farsi speaking Radio Zamaneh, he had expressed concern over the spread of Aids indicating the rising statistics of those infected by Aids to have reached 100 000 so far. In the same interview he had re iterated that the spread could be contained.

Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is obligated to pertain to the obligations of this Covenant.

These include: refraining from arbitrary arrests and detention, announcing reasons of arrest with no delay, announcing charges under which the victims are detained, allowing the right to defense and to have a legal defense, and also allowing the victim to be present when charges are ruled.


The following good read for the weekend is from my old (and I mean really old) friend Bill Berkowitz (that's him in the picture). Just kiddin' Bill, its just that you have always been older than me...nothing you can do about that...and you're a whole lot younger then John McCain or his mother. Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer and longtime observer of the conservative movement.

These and other comments from Bill can be found at Religion Dispatches.

RD News Round-Up — September 11, 2008
Bill Berkowitz

It's the Platform stupid... and Sarah Palin didn't hurt....

For those who have repeatedly composed obituaries for the Religious Right in the hope that, to paraphrase President Gerald Ford's comment after President Richard Nixon resigned and he had taken the oath of office, our "long national nightmare" of the Right's political project is over, Tom Minnery has news for you.

Minnery, the senior vice president of Focus Action, a project of Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family, is more convinced than ever that the Religious Right is now, and will continue to be, a major force in American politics.

What has rejuvenated Minnery, and many others on the Religious Right, is the rock solid conservative bona fides of the Republican Party's political platform, which was then followed by the proverbial icing on the cake; the selection of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain's vice-presidential running mate.

In a recent special commentary titled "Palin Adds to Euphoria over Strength of GOP Platform," Minnery wrote:
"The platform stakes a claim to one-man, one-woman marriage, and to the right to life for all preborn children without exception. It calls for the nomination of federal judges who are pro-life, and it even upholds the suitability of the public display of religious symbols like the Ten Commandments."

The platform even stands its ground against an issue McCain has supported — scientific research on human embryos. Surprisingly, the McCain campaign did not object to the prohibition of this research being included in the platform."

Furthermore, the platform paints in primary colors. It boldly asserts that, "This is a platform of enduring principle, not passing convenience... we offer it to our fellow Americans in the assurance that our Republican ideals are those that unify our country."'

And neither is the document ashamed of the "G" word. It states that "Our platform is presented with enthusiasm and confidence in a vision for the future, but also with genuine humility — humility before God ..."'

According to The Hill, conservative activists led by Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of conservative leaders active on judicial matters, began pushing for the platform changes in May. Miranda writes in an e-mail that thanks to longtime Religious right leaders Paul Weyrich, David Keene, Gary Bauer, Connie Mackey and others, his group was "successful in rewriting the GOP Platform."

Miranda's organization pushed what he called "Third Branch Principles," which was aimed at shaping the judicial appointments of a McCain administration:

"Today, because of your efforts," Miranda wrote, "the Republican Party is not only the Party of Life, we are also the Party of:

"Constitutionalist" judges and judicial nominees who show fidelity to the Constitution;

No "stealth" nominees;

No guaranteed results or litmus tests, including on review of past error;

No "religious tests" or other opposition to nominees based on sex or ethnicity, as we saw with Bill Pryor, Leon Holmes, Miguel Estrada and several others.

So ecstatic is Tom Minnery's boss, James Dobson that the recent inductee into the National Radio Hall of Fame — the first religious program to be inducted — is reconsidering his oft-pronounced pledge that he wouldn't vote for McCain under any circumstances.

Minnery also pointed out that:
"For the last year, when none of the social conservatives running for president could emerge from the pack, reporters began saying — no, they began hoping — that those pesky people in the Religious Right would become a spent force in politics. That was a theme in reporters' questions to me during the primary election season. The theme only strengthened with the death of two national evangelical leaders, D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell."

Another thread in that media theme was that in 2008, the Republican Party itself was a spent force, and due for a drubbing on Election Day. But that was before the adoption of this platform, before Sarah Palin's selection, and before John McCain's encouraging performance at the Saddleback presidential forum, where he boldly asserted that "life begins at conception."'

It is clear, to paraphrase Mark Twain, regardless of the outcome of this presidential election, "reports of the death of the Religious Right are pre-mature."


Praying for McCain's demise

Some Religious Right leaders, delighted over the Palin's pick, still hold no special place in their hearts for Sen. John McCain. As reported by Talk2Action's Fred Clarkson, "The more theocratic elements of the Religious Right have a disturbing habit, (more like a practice) of invoking 'imprecatory prayer — a call for God to literally pour his wrath down on those they consider to be his enemies." Townhall columnist and radio talk show host Doug Giles has defined "imprecatory prayer" as: "a prayer asking God to crush a clear enemy of His, an enemy which is an aggressive adversary of freedom and peace loving people."

Last year, the Rev. Wiley Drake, then a Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention "called on his followers to pray for God to smite members of the staff of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Clarkson pointed out. Evidently, Drake was infuriated by the group's complaint to the IRS "for endorsing Mike Huckabee on church stationary, among other apparent abuses of his church's 501(c))(3) tax-exemption."

Now, the "imprecatory prayer" warriors have set their sites on McCain. The thinking goes like this: work to get McCain elected president and Sarah Palin vice-president; pray that McCain dies as soon after talking the oath of office as possible; and voila, Palin is installed as president.

Clarkson reported that "antiabortion militant and all-round theocratic activist Jay Rogers of Florida, whose blog is called The Forerunner, wrote: 'Pray for John McCain's salvation and speedy death.'"


Al Qaeda targets Arab-American evangelist

It is not often that I'm on the same page with Joel Rosenberg, so I'm happy to say that I agree with him when he recently wrote in his "Flash Traffic" e-news letter that "you have probably never heard of Father Zakaria Botros." I hadn't. Who is Botros? "Far and away the most-watched and most-effective Arab-American evangelist focused on reaching the Muslim world, and by far the most controversial," says Rosenberg.

Rosenberg, the (Jewish-born) Christian best-selling author of such apocalyptic political thrillers as The Copper Scroll, The Ezekiel Option, and The Last Jihad, and close friend to rightwing Israeli officials, maintained that Botros, whom he calls "the Rush Limbaugh of the Revivalists," has been targeted for assassination by al Qaeda. According to Rosenberg, Botros told him that "he had just learned that an al Qaeda website had posted his photograph and named him one of the 'most wanted' infidels in the world," possibly putting as much as a $60 million bounty on him, the Christian Broadcasting Network reported.

Rosenberg wrote:
"Using state-of-the art satellite technology to bypass the efforts of Islamic governments to keep the gospel out of their countries, Botros is directly challenging the claims of Muhammad to be a prophet, and the claims of the Qu'ran to be God's word. He systematically deconstructs Muhammad's life, story by story, pointing out character flaws and sinful behavior. He carefully deconstructs the Qu'ran, verse by verse, citing contradictions and inconsistencies. And not only does he explain without apology what he believes is wrong with Islam, he goes on to teach Muslims from the Bible why Jesus loves them and why is so ready to forgive them and adopt them into His family, no matter who they are or what they have done."

If Botros was doing this in a corner, or on some cable access channel where no one saw him or cared, that would be one thing. But his ninety-minute program — a combination of preaching, teaching and answering questions from (often irate) callers all over the world — has become "must see TV" throughout the Muslim world. It is replayed four times a week in Arabic, his native language, on a satellite television network called Al Hayat ("Life TV.") It can be seen in every country in North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, as well as all throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. And not only can it be seen in so many places, it is seen — by an estimated fifty million Muslims a day."

More on Rosenberg can be found here, and more of Rosenberg's report is here.


Americans view evangelicals, evangelicals view themselves; a Barna Group study

While Sen. Obama has devoted a serious amount of time and energy during the campaign courting evangelical voters — a portion of which were viewed as up for grabs — Sen. McCain's appointment of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential nominee might have rendered that effort moot.

According to The Barna Group, a an evangelical-based polling operation, "There remains considerable confusion about evangelicals ... both in the media and among political strategists." Barna's recent study "explore[d] what Americans think about evangelical voters, including the perceptions of non-evangelicals as well as the self-perceptions of evangelicals."

While Americans generally view evangelical voters "with a mix of skepticism and respect.... [they] are not always sure what to make of evangelicals, but they believe the voting bloc has significant influence."

The following four statements represented the most widely-held views:

"that evangelicals will have a significant influence effect on the election outcome (59% of American adults said this was either "very" or "somewhat accurate" regarding evangelical voters);

"that evangelicals will cause the political conversation to be more conservative (59%);

"that they will be spend too much time complaining and not enough time solving problems (59%);

"and that they will be misunderstood and unfairly described by news media (56%)."

"... [O]nly half of Americans (52%) felt that evangelical voters would focus primarily on homosexuality and abortion," and "[r]oughly half said that evangelicals will minimize social justice issues (47%) and another 47% felt they believe that evangelicals will vote overwhelmingly Republican. Roughly two out of every five Americans (44%) believed evangelicals will not approach the election with an open mind."

Evangelicals themselves appear to be less confused about their role in electoral politics. They maintain "that they will have a significant influence on the election (84%), yet the also firmly believe that they will be misunderstood and unfairly depicted by media (81%)."

The vast majority of evangelicals believe that "their fellow believers will vote overwhelmingly with the Republican Party (74%)."

David Kinnaman, who directed the Barna study, put these findings in context. "One 2007 study we completed showed that more than 9 out of 10 evangelicals believe abortion is a major problem - easily making it their top concern. And nearly 8 out of 10 evangelicals say that homosexuality is a major challenge facing the nation. So the fact that many evangelicals are reluctant to describe their voting as primarily focused on these issues seems to reflect their self-awareness rather than their stances on the issues. Like anyone else, many evangelicals care about their image and do not want to be pigeon-holed as one- or two-issue voters, even though these social and moral issues remain very significant for many evangelicals." (For more, see "How Americans View 'Evangelical Voters.'")


Evans pedals over the line to peddle book

In a reckless attempt to peddle books, Mike Evans, the head of the Jerusalem Prayer Team, the publisher of the online Jerusalem World News, and the author of a number of books including the New York Times bestseller "The Final Move Beyond Iraq," is claiming that he's "been told by many of the [top Iraqi and Israeli] leaders that Iran is planning a major surge in the next 30 days to kill as many American troops as possible. They believe in doing so they can undermine the success of the U.S. surge and John McCain's hopes of becoming President."

Maintaining that "Muqtada Al-Sadr's, Iran's Shi'ite subcontractor in Iraq and head of the sixty-five thousand member Mahdi army (terrorists), are going to attempt to make Iraq a living hell in the next 30 days by killing as many people as possible," Evans suggests that supporters "go to right now and purchase as many copies of The Final Move Beyond Iraq as possible. You can give them as Christmas gifts to your friends and family."
"Why? Because this is the only book that reveals Iran's plans in Iraq. More importantly if you can drive the book to Amazon's Top Ten bestseller list, the network shows will be calling and inviting me to speak to tens of millions of people. I need to wake up the American people and government so they can pray and prepare for this attack that is coming. You can save American lives by helping me get on the major networks."

For more on Evans, see "Send in the Kurds."


What Christians should do about transgender workers

Focus on the Family's recently turned its attention to transgender workers and how they should be treated in the workplace. cites a piece in The New York Times that reported that of Fortune 500 companies, 125 provide special protections based on employees' "gender identity."

"While 'transgendered' workers account for about 0.01 percent of employees nationwide," points out, "employers are going out of their way to accommodate them. Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives took up a bill that would have enshrined homosexuality and 'transgenderism' in federal law. The legislation passed only after language to include 'gender identity' was taken out. The Senate has not taken up the measure, but it is expected to resurface in Congress next year."

Jeff Johnston, gender issues analyst for Focus on the Family, stated that "Rather than focusing on the work at hand, these businesses are catering to a small minority suffering from a severe disorder — a disorder to which God can bring truth and healing.

"Usually, you think about business leaders as having to deal with hard realities — wages, taxes, profits, supply and demand. But here they are supporting the radical gay, lesbian and 'transgender' agenda."

Caleb Price, a research analyst for Focus on the Family maintains that "recent years have seen a sea-change in attitudes about cultural acceptance of homosexuality ... [so that] gay activists now believe that sufficient political gains have been won at the local, state and federal levels that they can now turn their attention to adding the 'T' — for Transgender — to the GLB (Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual) acronym that represents their community. "

To see what Christians should "do about th[e] move throughout the culture to affirm "transgenderism"?, check out Price's piece "What About "Transgenderism"?, posted as an "Issue Analysis" at Focus on the Family's website. Bill's comments can be found at Religion Dispatches.


RD Tidbits

*Jay Hein, the former director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, praises the President Bush's "very big vision" and the accomplishments of his faith-based initiative in an interview — that heats up a bit — with The Roundtable on Religion & Social Welfare Policy.

*Jedd Medefind, special assistant to the President and deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives since mid-2007, has been named acting director and will oversee operations of the Office until the end of President George W. Bush's term in January. According to The Roundtable on Religion & Social Welfare Policy, "Prior to joining the White House, Medefind was director of the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Center at the US Department of Labor, ... served as chief of staff and communications director for the California State Legislature and held communication jobs with several national and international organizations, including the C.S. Lewis Foundation and PriceWaterhouse in Moscow."

*The conservative online WorldNetDaily is keeping the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in the news with this sensationalist headline: "Rev. Wright in 'steamy' sex scandal: Woman claims: 'That's why I lost my job and why my husband divorced me'"

*Talk2Action's Bruce Wilson takes a close look at Sarah Palin's churches in a piece titled "Sarah Palin's Demon Haunted Churches — The Complete Edition." Wilson has also come up with a ten-minute video documentary

*The Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal enterprise set up in 1994 by a number of right-wing organizations — including Focus on the Family and Bill Bright's Campus Crusade for Christ — as an alternative to the American civil Liberties Union, is encouraging pastors to use their church pulpits on September 28 to endorse the presidential candidate of their choice, the Washington Post reported. According to the newspaper, the effort is aimed at defying Internal Revenue Service rules countering the "54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


An "Anti-Islamisation Congress" in Cologne, Germany being organized by a German fascist organization is still on for this month. German police who examined plans for the Anti-Islamisation Congress organised by Pro-Koeln (Pro Cologne)/Pro-NRW found no grounds to ban it. Nevertheless, they will bring in reinforcements from the whole region and are expecting around 4,000 protesters against the Congress. They have advised people to try to avoid driving in the city centre during the weekend of 19-21 September.

The congress, which culminates in a mass rally on Cologne's Haymarket square on September 20, is aimed at promoting "Western values and Christian traditions." French fascist Jean Le Pen and other European facists are expected to speak at the rally.

Searchlight Magazine says, the "No to Islamisation" meeting is being advertised through several websites, including one bearing the slogan "White Pride Worldwide,"as "the very first Anti-Islam congress the world has ever seen".

The Iranian Foreign Ministry called in the French charge d'affaires in Tehran Wednesday to demand that the European Union (EU) prevent the holding of the "anti-Islam congress." The Foreign Ministry voiced concern about what it called the "growing anti-Islam trend" in Europe, appealing to the current French presidency of the EU to act, the official news agency IRNA reported.

IRNA also reported that the French diplomat had condemned all forms of racism, pledging that the Iranian request would be followed up and Tehran would be kept informed about the congress.

Malaysia sent a letter of protest to Germany over the racist Congress meeting.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim said the congress would achieve nothing but “only incite violence and hatred, and result in adverse consequences”.

“Malaysia takes a serious view on this issue and if it is allowed to continue, then the responsibility falls on Germany,” he said at a press conference at the Parliament lobby.

Mukhriz Mahathir, a member of the Malaysian parliament, wrote:

"By disguising its racism with its right to free speech, this right wing movement intends to create a subjective platform that spitefully criticises Islam with no dissenting views. This conference which purportedly aims to discuss radical Islam is in itself a radical exercise and certainly nothing productive will emerge from it; except of course more reasons for these extremists to hate Muslims and Islam in general."

He's right.

In a press statement issued in Jedda last month, a Spokesperson for the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) said that the proposed event was intended to arouse anti-Muslim sentiments in Europe and that it would pose a threat to inter-communal peace and harmony in the society.

Anti-racists believe that tens of thousands of people will to take to the streets of the west German city of Cologne in protest of the racist get together. A wide spectrum of organizations, among them labor, student, church and anti-racist groups, are due to join the protests and mass blockades.

`Pro Koeln' (some of whose activists are pictured here) which has been the target of an investigation by Germany's domestic Verfassungsschutz intelligence agency, has invited around 1,000 right- wing extremists to the controversial meeting in Cologne, including leading far-right politicians from the US, France, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Spain and Italy. Some of the groups involved in the planned congress include Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe), the Belgian-Flemish Vlaams Belang Party, the Italian Northern League, as well as prominent French right-winger Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the Front National (FN),Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache, Germany's HC Strache, Österreichischer Oppositionsführerand, and Belgium’s Filip Dewinter.

Many officials and members of pro Cologne or Pro Koeln, "come from German neo-Nazi parties and groups such as the NPD and the German League for People and Homeland.

The group has spearheaded racist opposition to the construction of a large mosque in the city.

The following is from the September issue of Searchlight magazine.

Racists gather for Cologne anti-Islam rally
By Hans-Peter Killguss

SEVERAL HUNDRED racists from all over Europe are expected to flock to a so-called Anti-Islamisation Congress staged by the German fascist pro Köln (pK) organisation to discuss "the foreign infiltration of our cities".

The congress, in Cologne from 19 to 21 September, comes amid growing racism in Germany. According to one poll, more than 50% of the population favours a ban on mosques. Echoing this, Markus Wiener, a "scientific staff member" of pK, claims there should be "no mosques, no minarets, no muezzin" because "the native population is justifiably worried about creeping Islamisation and the danger of Islamist terror."

PK was set up in 1996 to campaign against prostitution and only really targeted Muslims after 2000. It recently protested against a new mosque in the Ehrenfeld district of Cologne, distributing tens of thousands of stickers, leaflets and posters and gathering almost 20,000 signatures on a petition.

Although many pK officers and members have been well-known activists in fascist and openly nazi parties, pK claims to be a democratic citizens' initiative. It styles itself as a "populist" party for the man-in-the-street in contrast to the other parties, which it denounces as corrupt, arrogant and "in hock to the false ideology of multiculturalism".

After pK gained seats on Cologne city council in 2004, a carbon copy called pro-Deutschland emerged in 2005 followed by pro NRW (Nordrhein Westfalen) in 2007. The primary purpose of September's Anti-Islamisation Congress is to kick-start the racist campaign for next year's regional elections in NRW.

Another aim is to improve collaboration between ultra-right groups in Europe ahead of next year's European Parliament elections. PK already has close links with the Belgian far-right Vlaams Belang whose chairman, Filip Dewinter, will speak at the gathering alongside Andreas Mölzer and Heinz-Christian Strache from the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ).

Henry Nitzsche, a former Christian Democrat from Saxony, will also appear. Nitzsche, who is still an MP, once claimed patriotism was vital to prevent Germany from being ruled by what he termed "Multi-Kulti-Schwuchteln" (multicultural poofters). He is an important figurehead because pK is now trying to appeal mainly to conservatives.

The most prominent speaker invited is Jean Marie Le Pen, president of the French Front National. Another well-known speaker will be Mario Borghezio of the Italian Lega Nord (see below).

Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, had been on the guest list but after German anti-fascists, with help from Searchlight, published his comments denying the Holocaust, his name was withdrawn just before Cologne city council and the German Interior Ministry condemned the congress.

A broad front, the Alliance for Mass Blockades, is mobilising opposition to the congress and has urged mass civil disobedience in an appeal backed by many different political groups, artists, musicians and pubs. Anti-fascists from all over Europe have pledged their support and trade unionists in Cologne will organise active protests.


A victory in court for Greenpeace activists is raising eyebrows in Britain today. The six were cleared of charges relating to their scaling and painting on the huge chimney of a coal burning plant.

The activists were accused of causing £30,000 of criminal damage to Kingsnorth smokestack from painting. The defence was that they had 'lawful excuse' - because they were acting to protect property around the world "in immediate need of protection" from the impacts of climate change, caused in part by burning coal.

Greenpeace Britain says this is the first case, by the way, where preventing property damage from climate change has been used as part of a 'lawful excuse' defence in Crown Court.)

Judge David Caddick said that the case centred on whether or not the protesters had a lawful excuse for their actions. He told the jury that for a lawful excuse to be used it must be proved that the action was due to an immediate need to protect property belonging to another.

After hearing all of the evidence, the jurors (representatives of ordinary British people) supported the right to take direct action to protect the climate from the burning of coal.

In other words, the jury found their actions justified when considering the damage to property caused around the world by CO2 emissions from the plant.

It didn't hurt that during the trial the world's leading climate scientist, James Hansen, came to court and challenged the government's plans for new coal, calling for Gordon Brown to announce a moratorium on all new coal-fired power plants without carbon capture and storage. The environmental policy adviser for the UK shadow Prime Minister said there was "a staggering mismatch between what we've heard from government and what we've seen from government in terms of policy".

Eon, the owners of the plant, are planning to replace the existing unit with two new coal-fired plants which, if built, would be the first new coal build power plants built for over 20 years. Eon say that the units would produce enough electricity to supply around 1.5million homes.

Ben Stewart, one of the defendants, told the Times: "This verdict marks a tipping point for the climate change movement.

"If jurors from the heart of Middle England say it’s legitimate for a direct action group to shut down a coal-fired power station because of the harm it does to our planet, then where does that leave government energy policy?"

The following is from the BBC.

Power station protesters cleared

Six Greenpeace activists have been cleared of causing criminal damage during a protest over coal-fired power.

The activists were charged with causing £30,000 of damage after they scaled Kingsnorth power station in Hoo, Kent.

At Maidstone Crown Court Judge David Caddick said the jury had to examine whether protesters had a lawful excuse.

The defendants said the protest was lawful because it aimed to prevent damaging emissions. Energy firm E.ON said lives had been put at risk.

Five people who scaled the chimney - Huw Williams, 41, of Nottingham; Ben Stewart, 34, of Lyminge, Kent; Kevin Drake, 44, of Westbury, Wiltshire; Will Rose, 29, of London; and Emily Hall, 34, from New Zealand - were all charged with causing criminal damage.

'Gordon, bin it'

Tim Hewke, 48, from Ulcombe, Kent, accused by the prosecution of organising the protest from the ground, also faced the same charge.

Jurors heard how protesters painted the name "Gordon" on the 200m (650ft) chimney on 8 October last year, in a political protest against the redevelopment of the plant as a coal-burning unit.

They had planned to daub the words "Gordon, bin it" on the stack in a reference to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, but were threatened with a High Court injunction and arrested.

After the hearing, E.ON spokeswoman Emily Highmore said the firm, which is planning to build a coal-fired unit at the plant, was "hugely disappointed".

She said: "We respect people's right to protest, but what Greenpeace did was hugely irresponsible. It put people's lives at risk and that is clearly completely unacceptable."

Ms Highmore called for an "open and honest debate" about the challenges of energy and climate change, but added: "That's a debate that shouldn't be taking place at the top of a chimney stack."

She added: "Our men and women who work at Kingsnorth have a right to go to work to do their lawful business and to do it safely, so we're very concerned indeed about today's outcome."

Outside the court, activist Mr Stewart said the verdict was "a tipping point for the climate change movement".

He said: "When 12 normal people say it is legitimate for a direct action group to shut down a coal-fired power station because of the harm it does to our planet then where does that leave government energy policy?"

Mr Stewart called for "clean technologies" to be used instead of coal.

And he said: "This is a huge blow for ministers and their plans for new coal-fired power stations."

There has been no government response to the verdict.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Sara Palin, the Alaska govenor, who is now running for Vice-President has touted her relationship with her husband who is part Indian. Todd Palin is 1/16th Yup'ik Eskimo from his mother's family. Sara says she's learned a lot from the guy.

You wouldn't know it from her political record however.

On the blog Rez Net Holly Miowak Stebing, a 20-year-old Inupiaq woman says while Alaskans as a whole are excited about the Palin pick, they're not jumping up and down with enthusiasm in the Native community. She criticized Palin for undermining causes she sees as beneficial to Native Alaskans, such as the governor's opposition to a legislative proposition that would have stopped certain mining operations in the state from releasing toxic pollutants into water that would harm the health of humans or salmon. Stebing said salmon is important as a food and revenue source to Native Alaskans, but Palin opposed the measure, which was defeated Aug. 26 by more than 57 percent of Alaskan voters.

Chuck Degnan, who is Inupiaq and a former Alaskan state representative, says he also was upset when he learned that Sarah Palin opposed Proposition 4, which he said was important in protecting tribal cultures in Alaska.

"It's critical we have clean water for those animals so it doesn't affect our health," he said.

Degnan also criticized Palin for failing to allow Native Alaskan representation on the Alaska Coastal Management Program — an organization that protects the state's coasts.

New American Media points out:

"In a report on the plight of Native Alaskans, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission called for massive increases in spending on job and skills training and programs to boost employment, improve education and public services. The commission called for sweeping reforms in the criminal justice and health care systems. The recommendations were made four years before Palin took office. Other than a brief mention of diversity in her gubernatorial campaign speech in 2006, there is no evidence that Palin has said or done anything about the commission’s recommendations."

Indian Country today reports:

"...Palin has drawn concern from some Alaska Natives, especially on issues surrounding an initiative to stop development of the Pebble Mine adjacent to the Bristol Bay fishing grounds, which is a prime area for both commercial and subsistence salmon fishing."

''Her public position on that issue undoubtedly had an effect on the defeat of that initiative, an initiative supported by many of the region's Inupiat and Yup'ik Alaska Natives,'' said Carl Shepro, a political science professor at the University of Alaska."

Because like Fox News "I'm Fair and Balanced" and I'm here to tell you Gov. Palin says she supports teaching traditional culture and languages in schools. ''A strong sense of identity will keep kids in school until they become strong adults equipped to thrive in today's world,'' she wrote.

I'm with her on that one.

Oh, and FYI, Walt Monegan, the state of Alaska's commissioner of public safety, was fired by Gov. Sarah Palin (R).

Monegan was the first Alaska Native to hold the job. He was appointed shortly after Palin was elected in 2006.

He said was being pressured to fire a state trooper who was married to Palin's sister before he got the axe.

Anyway, for a bit more thorough look at Sara's politics and how they have affected Alaska's indigenous population, read on...

The following is from the blog Turtle Talk.

Palin on Tribes
From Lloyd Miller & Heather Kendall Miller

Sarah Palin’s Record on Alaska Native and Tribal Issues

1. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Fishing

Perhaps no issue is of greater importance to Alaska Native peoples as the right to hunt and fish according to ancient customary and traditional practices, and to carry on the subsistence way of life for future generations.

Governor Sarah Palin has consistently opposed those rights.

Once in office, Governor Palin decided to continue litigation that seeks to overturn every subsistence fishing determination the federal government has ever made in Alaska. (State of Alaska v. Norton, 3:05-cv-0158-HRH (D. Ak).) In pressing this case, Palin decided against using the Attorney General (which usually handles State litigation) and instead continued contracting with Senator Ted Stevens’ brother-in-law’s law firm (Birch, Horton, Bittner & Cherot).

The goal of Palin’s law suit is to invalidate all the subsistence fishing regulations the federal government has issued to date to protect Native fishing, and to force the courts instead to take over the role of setting subsistence regulations. Palin’s law suit seeks to diminish subsistence fishing rights in order to expand sport and commercial fishing.

In May 2007, the federal court rejected the State’s main challenge, holding that Congress in 1980 had expressly granted the U.S. Interior and Agriculture Departments the authority to regulate and protect Native and rural subsistence fishing activities in Alaska. (Decision entered May 15, 2007 (Dkt. No. 110).)

Notwithstanding this ruling, Palin continues to argue in the litigation that the federal subsistence protections are too broad, and should be narrowed to exclude vast areas from subsistence fishing, in favor of sport and commercial fishing. Palin opposes subsistence protections in marine waters, on many of the lands that Natives selected under their 1971 land claims settlement with the state and federal governments, and in many of the rivers where Alaska Natives customarily fish. (Alaska Complaint at 15-18.) Palin also opposes subsistence fishing protections on Alaska Native federal allotments that were deeded to individuals purposely to foster Native subsistence activities. All these issues are now pending before the federal district court.

2. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Hunting

Palin has also sought to invalidate critical determinations the Federal Subsistence Board has made regarding customary and traditional uses of game, specifically to take hunting opportunities away from Native subsistence villagers and thereby enhance sport hunting.

Palin’s attack here on subsistence has focused on the Ahtna Indian people in Chistochina.

Although the federal district court has rejected Palin’s challenge, she has carried on an appeal that was argued in August 2008. (State of Alaska v. Fleagle, No. 07-35723 (9th Cir.).)

In both hunting and fishing matters, Palin has continued uninterrupted the policies initiated by the former Governor Frank Murkowski Administration, challenging hunting and fishing protections that Native people depend upon for their subsistence way of life in order to enhance sport fishing and hunting opportunities. Palin’s lawsuits are a direct attack on the core way of life of Native Tribes in rural Alaska.

3. Palin has attacked Alaska Tribal Sovereignty

Governor Palin opposes Alaska tribal sovereignty.

Given past court rulings affirming the federally recognized tribal status of Alaska Native villages, Palin does not technically challenge that status. But Palin argues that Alaska Tribes have no authority to act as sovereigns, despite their recognition.

So extreme is Palin on tribal sovereignty issues that she has sought to block tribes from exercising any authority whatsoever even over the welfare of Native children, adhering to a 2004 legal opinion issued by the former Murkowski Administration that no such jurisdiction exist (except when a state court transfers a matter to a tribal court).

Both the state courts and the federal courts have struck down Palin’s policy of refusing to recognize the sovereign authority of Alaska Tribes to address issues involving Alaska Native children. Native Village of Tanana v. State of Alaska, 3AN-04-12194 CI (judgment entered Aug. 26, 2008) (Ak. Super. Ct.); Kaltag Tribal Council v. DHHS, No. 3:06-cv-00211-TMB (D. Ak.), pending on appeal No 08-35343 (9th Cir.)). Nonetheless, Palin’s policy of refusing to recognize Alaska tribal sovereignty remains unchanged.

4. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Languages

Palin has refused to accord proper respect to Alaska Native languages and voters by refusing to provide language assistance to Yup’ik speaking Alaska Native voters. As a result, Palin was just ordered by a special three-judge panel of federal judges to provide various forms of voter assistance to Yup’ik voters residing in southwest Alaska. Nick v. Bethel, No. 3:07-cv-0098-TMB (D. Ak.) (Order entered July 30, 2008). Citing years of State neglect, Palin was ordered to provide trained poll workers who are bilingual in English and Yup’ik; sample ballots in written Yup’ik; a written Yup’ik glossary of election terms; consultation with local Tribes to ensure the accuracy of Yup’ik translations; a Yup’ik language coordinator; and pre-election and post-election reports to the court to track the State’s efforts.

In sum, measured against some the rights that are most fundamental to Alaska Native Tribes - the subsistence way of life, tribal sovereignty and voting rights – Palin’s record is a failure.


Although it has just begun, for some students at Tennessee State University (TSU), the school year is already over.

As the Black College Wire writes:

"TSU's main focus is supposed to be the students. "Students Matter Most" is plastered all over campus."

Many students have felt as if they didn't matter at all in recent weeks."

Four hundred students were sent packing this week for financial reasons. Another 900 were saved at the last minute via emergency donations of aid from alumni, faculty, staff, and a local church.

TSU is the only state-funded university in Tennessee that is a historically black school. Did I mention that?

TSU President Melvin N. Johnson a $3.2 million state budget cut, a decrease in out-of state student enrollment and an increase of out-of state student tuition had a large financial impact on the university.

Johnson also said that the number of financial concerns surrounding the university may in large part be contributed to the state wide economic woes.

Some students blamed troubled Sallie Mae.

Michael Jones, associate director of financial aid, says the university traditionally has had to purge students, but the situation is far worse this year because the university faces a $6 million shortfall, tuition has increased, many students no longer qualify for loans and lenders have been slow to release money, Jones said, noting faculty layoffs will be announced later this month.

"One of the issues we're having is loans with Sallie Mae," Jones said. "There are technical issues that we're resolving rapidly.

"The second issue is students turning documents in late," Jones said. "If they're turned in, in August, they won't be processed immediately. If they're turned in during registration, they won't be processed until after registration.

"The third issue is with the economy, people don't have the money. Students don't have the money to pay for school."

Another problem financial aid is facing is disbursing scholarships.

According to Jones, whenever a certain department offers a scholarship it is required to submit the information to financial aid in June. Financial aid, since the switch to BANNER Services this summer, is required to create a database for each scholarship before it can be applied to student accounts and appropriately disbursed.

This year, Jones said many departments failed to submit their scholarship information on time.

Rita Touzel, a senior business administration major from Nashville, told the student newspaper at TSU like the vast majority of the affected students she turned her documents in on time and still face problems.

"I turned in my independent student verification and for two weeks it's been pending," she said. "It takes two weeks to process paperwork. Did you know that?"

Financial aid workers at the university say they are understaffed and have been working long hours trying to process everything. Employees in the office have been working extended hours, some arriving as early as 6:30 a.m. and leaving sometimes as late as 10 p.m. every night since the beginning of August.

Many complaints from students claimed financial aid was showing favoritism to athletes.

"About three of the (football players) came in with their coach and went straight to the back to talk to counselors," said

Brandon Taylor, a senior business marketing major from Gary, Ind. "Then some of the cheerleaders went right to the front ahead of people who had been waiting since 8 o'clock this morning."

During worship service Sunday, Bishop Joseph Warren Walker III, senior pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church asked the congregation to give what they could to students who attended the service.

No one left the altar until every need was met.

On Monday, Walker presented a check of almost $51,000 to the university administration to cover the expenses of 11 students.

"When these students graduate, they will reach back and they will be a blessing and they will see this kind of giving and it just goes from generation to generation. That's what it's all about for us," he said.

In any event, it seems that far too many students are being punished for things over which they personally had no control.

However, let me end with this comment from Michael Jones, associate director of financial aid who told the student paper, "It probably looks bad," said Jones, "but reverse it and look at all the students who got all their money."

I guess that is one way to look at it, Mike.

The following is from WSMV (Nashville).

400 Students Forced To Leave TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Financial problems at Tennessee State University have forced hundreds of students at the school to pack their bags and leave campus.

Even though she is frustrated, Sharia Howard said she counts herself among the more fortunate. At three weeks into the school year, she and others haven't received financial aid to buy books. However, Howard said it's worse for many of her classmates, who have been told to leave school because they can't pay tuition.

"TSU's system sucks. Everything is wrong with the system," said Howard.

"You don't have any other options but to give up, and you don't want to do that," said student Tonae Ellis.

More than 1,300 students were given a deadline of last Friday to secure financial aid or be dropped. Last-minute donations from alumni and faculty saved 900, but still left 400 students are in limbo.

On Monday, the 400 students received letters letting them know they've been dropped from classes and have 48 hours to vacate the residence hall.

Michael Jones at TSU's Financial Aid Office said they've always had to purge students, but this year the situation is much worse because many can't afford increased tuition and no longer qualify for certain loans. Also, new software hasn't been working properly, and lenders have been slow to release money.

"The fact that you're telling somebody 'No,' that hurts. Whether or not we can show it, or they see it on our face, it does hurt when you have to tell a student, 'No,'" said Jones.

On Sunday, Mount Zion Baptist Church raised $30,000 for 16 students in its congregation who were dropped.

TSU officials said while the deadline has passed, they may reinstate those 16 students if they have the money soon.

The school is facing a $6 million shortfall. School officials said they'll announce plans for faculty layoffs later this week.


Workers in Nepal are facing a wave of violence including the killing of several unionists in recent days.

Katipur Report says health workers in Rautahat on Monday called an indefinite shut down of health services except emergency treatment in the district to protest against the killing of a heath worker.

Surendra Yadav, district chairman of Nepal Health Workers Union, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen Sunday night. According to the police, Yadav was shot in the head at Yaanagar-Sankhuwa road section when he was returning home from Garuda Bazaar at 9 pm. He died on the spot.

Nepal CMA Association, NHWA, Madhesi Health Workers' Forum (MHWF) and Civil Servants' Organisation (CSO) called an indefinite health strike in the district.

"Putting forward four demands, the agitating health workers struck work in all government offices," said Radheshyam Jha district chairman of CSO.

"Civil servants are feeling insecure after Yadav's murder. So we halted work in all government offices to press for security of all civil servants," he said.

"Work in government offices will not resume until Yadav was declared a martyr, the culprits were booked, the bereaved family was compensated and security of civil servants was guaranteed," he said.

The government employees in Parsa district also stopped their work today protesting against the killing. Work in all government offices in Gaur, the district headquarters of Rautahat, was halted on Tuesday.

Also, two union workers were shot dead ten days ago and dozens injured by attacked a picket line in an iron-steel company- the Narayani Rolling Mlls. It is believed that the incident was at the request of the management of company.

The following is from the International Trade Union Confederation.

Nepal: Killings and Mass Arrests of Trade Unionists

Brussels, 9 September 2008: The ITUC strongly condemns the killing of two trade union members from Narayani Rolling Mills in the Bara District in Nepal, and the excessive violence subsequently used by the Nepal police against peaceful trade union protesters on Wednesday 3 September.

Kebal Raut and Krishna Yadav were shot by the police when they tried to hand over a package of workers’ demands to their company management, Narayani Rolling Mills. Raut and Yadav were active members of the Nepali Factory Workers’ Union (NFWU), an affiliate of the ITUC-affiliated Nepal Trade Union Congress – Independent (NTUC-I) that was engaged in collective bargaining talks with the company management.

During a peaceful protest in Kathmandu, the police arrested 80 trade union leaders, including Santosh Rajyamajhi, general secretary of the United Telecom Ltd (UTL) workers’ trade union. The protest was in support of a union demand for an end to the system of temporary contracts for workers, for better working conditions and for the proper application of Nepal’s labour and trade union laws. Violence was used by the police during the arrest and many of the workers were injured, including wounded by bullets. The workers were detained at Mahendra police station and released in the evening.

In a letter sent to the authorities , the ITUC urges the government to ensure that Nepali police forces refrain from violence, that a fair compensation is provided to the family of deceased workers and to those injured and, finally, that the workers demands are met.

“Systematic repression against trade unionists must stop,” said Guy Ryder, ITUC general secretary. ”A newly established democracy like Nepal should not accept this violence, especially because Nepal is obliged to respect core labour standards, by virtue of its membership of the International Labour Organisation (ILO),” he added.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Anti-fur protesters crashed designer Donna Karan’s 20th anniversary show at New York Fashion Week on Sunday.

What a shame, I'm sure.

Two protesters were arrested after they ran onto the catwalk at the end of the show carrying signs that read “Donna: Dump Fur.” The pair were quickly grabbed by security and rushed off the runway.

Outside protesters dressed as bloodied rabbits held a noise demonstration, waving placards that read “Rabbits are friends,” “No blood for vanity” and “Real designers don’t hurt animals.”

Demonstrators had gathered over an hour before the DKNY show started on Sunday morning.

As the world's fashion press and buyers entered for the show they were bombarded with anti-fur chants.

The designer's show boasted an A-list line-up on the front row. Actresses Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci and Nicole Ritchie were sitting next to each another, while Kate Bosworth was also positioned just seats away.

After the show,CONDÉ NAST PORTFOLIO writes, the grim-faced protesters contrasted sharply with the Vuitton toting fashion flock exiting onto 6th Avenue. One protester, dressed all in black, wore an animal mask, high heels splotched with red, and a fake-blood-spattered white apron.

The protest highlighted the enduring tension between the fantasy of fashion, where fur epitomizes luxury, and real-world issues of how designers obtain the materials they use.

A comment from the designer's husband and contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Reinaldo Herrera demonstrates the idiocy of the fashion elite. His reaction to the protest: "Who cares? It's so stupid. This is a summer collection. It's ridiculous to do this now. At least do it when it has a point."

The following press release is from PETA.

Frustration Mounts Over Designer's Broken Promise on Fur
For Immediate Release:
September 7, 2008

Ashley Byrne 757-622-7382

New York -- The fur was flying at Donna Karan's fashion show in Bryant Park this morning, as PETA members leaped onto the catwalk waving signs that read, "Donna: Dump Fur," in protest of the designer's use of rabbit fur in her collection--despite having given her word that she would never use fur again. Chanting, "Shame," the protesters were dragged off the stage, ejected from the show and arrested.

PETA, which has held protests outside Karan's fashion shows, office, and apartment, has stepped up its campaign after Karan refused to watch a videotape showing rabbits being cruelly killed for their pelts. PETA has also written to Karan to explain that animals on fur factory farms spend their entire lives confined to tiny, filthy metal cages with no shelter from weather extremes. PETA also told Karan that to kill rabbits, fur farmers break the animals' necks or smash their skulls before stringing them up by their legs, cutting off their heads, and skinning them.

Many top fashion designers--including Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger--are 100 percent fur-free after discussions with PETA.

"Donna Karan is a cold and soulless woman who turns her back on animals to turn a buck," says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. "Animals killed for Donna Karan's designs either had their necks broken or were electrocuted, beaten to death, or skinned alive."


Greenpeace activists took action in Israel's Ashkelon harbor to protest against a new coal burning power plant planned there. Israeli police boarded the Rainbow Warrior and there were a number of arrests made. Among the 14 arrested Monday were activists from Israel, Germany, France and Holland.

Jo Kooper, a spokeswoman for the group, said police moved in after activists on the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior spray-painted the slogan "quit coal" on the side of a ship unloading coal at Ashkelon's harbor.

Greenpeace believes the air quality in Israel will be affected by this coal plant in Ashkelon, for the next 50 years.

Greenpeace isn't alone in this concern. For one they have the support of the mayor of Ashkelon.

In addition, doctors at Barzilai Medical Center said last May the already existing coal-fired power station in Ashkelon is impairing the health of the city's residents. It is one of the chief causes behind the increasing number of severe pulmonary and cardiac problems seen at regional clinics and hospitals, says a team of researchers at Barzilai.

The doctors believe that building a second power plant by the existing one, as the Israel Electric Corporation means to do, would badly worsen the health hazard. The doctors presented a comprehensive survey on the link between visits to the hospital and local clinics because of health and lung trouble, and fluctuations in air pollution levels.

The power station is the main source of pollution in Ashkelon, alongside vehicles. Its emissions include sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. A modest increase in smog causes a 3% to 5% increase in the number of people seeking treatment, the doctors claim.

"The study strengthens the Health Ministry position, which also opposes the establishment of another coal-fueled power station," stated Dr. Michael Gadilevich, who participated in the study. "Building another station would increase the level of pollution."

In June, Israel's Green Party sued the government and Israel Electric Corporation at the High Court of Justice, hoping the court would halt the progress on the coal-fired power plant in Ashkelon.

In the suit the party stated, "It is unconscionable that while the Health Ministry and Environmental Protection Ministry oppose the plant's construction, other ministries are simply ignoring the health of thousands of citizens.."

Greenpeace activists have said they plan to sail to another 10 countries to protest coal-fired power plants.

The following is from Arutz Sheva (Israel).

Greenpeace Activists Arrested for Trespassing, Vandalism

Police arrested fourteen activists from the Greenpeace organization at the Ashkelon harbor on Monday after their ship, the Rainbow Warrior, docked in a prohibited area and the activists proceeded to vandalize another ship at the port. Those arrested include Israelis and foreign nationals.

The Israeli Coast Guard was alerted and sped to Ashkelon, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, when the Rainbow Warrior entered a restricted area of the city's port. Police boarded the vessel and arrested the Greenpeace activists. In addition to entering an area prohibited to general civilian traffic, the activists spray-painted the words "Quit Coal" on the side of a ship that was unloading coal. The vandals also apparently planned to launch small boats or dinghies from the Rainbow Warrior towards a power station operating at the Ashkelon harbor.

The Greenpeace activists undertook Monday's actions in protest against the use of coal for energy production at the Ashkelon power plant. The Israeli government has plans to build a second electric power plant, also to be fueled by coal, alongside the existing one.

The Rainbow Warrior docked at Haifa Bay on Saturday on the open and legal leg of its visit to Israel. The crew opened the ship to Israelis and set up exhibits on board explaining their views on climate change and coal fuel. It may have been at this stage that the ship picked up Israeli Greenpeace activists for the next, illicit leg of the ship's voyage.

This is far from the first visit of the Rainbow Warrior to Israel. It is not even the first attention-grabbing "direct action" executed by Greenpeace activists in Israel this year. In May, three Greenpeace activists repelled from the roof of the National Infrastructure Ministry in Jerusalem. They draped a huge banner across the front of the building with a message in Hebrew, "In one week, Fuad will kill Ashkelon," followed by the words, "COAL KILLS!" in English. "Fuad" refers to National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who was set to approve the second coal-based power station in Ashkelon at the time.

As the banner-hangers jumped, Greenpeace activists blocked the entrance to the Ministry with ten kilograms of coal with two protruding dummy legs, "intended to represent the fact that Fuad's head is buried deep inside the coal industry," Greenpeace activists explained on an enviromentalist website.

At the May protest, Nili Grosman, Energy and Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace Mediterranean in Israel, said: "As if the Kassam bomb terror is not enough, now the citizens of Ashkelon have to suffer from an internal terror, produced by the Infrastructures Ministry but no less severe."