Thursday, August 11, 2005

Still on a Break

Despite today's two posts directly below the Oread Daily is still on a break until the beginning of September

Cuba Five Conviction Tossed Out by Appeals Court

Complete Information on this case can be found at NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO FREE THE CUBAN FIVE

From Prensa Latina:Weinglass: Cuban Five Owed Apology
Defense council Leonard Weinglass stressed Wednesday that yesterday´s overthrow of the Miami court decision which unfairly jailed five Cubans was a major victory and that they deserve an apology.

In a telephone conversation he said from his office in New York that the 93-page ruling by a three judge panel of the Atlanta appeals court places them in the same situation before they entered the Miami courtroom, and that the gratifying verdict is so strongly in their favor no lawyer would think they should enter again.

By a unanimous vote, the judges of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned Tuesday the verdict handed down on them by a Miami court in June 2001, and also ruled that a new trial should take place, as requested by the defense, in a city other than Miami.

According to the ruling, the volatile anti-Cuban political climate and intense media coverage, both amplified in the wake of the Elián González drama, made a fair trial in Miami an impossibility.

The defense attorneys had asked Miami Judge Joan Lenard to move the trial out of Miami in January, 2000.

After a trial legal analysts considered was a frame-up, the Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, René González, and Fernando González, detained in 1998 on several spying charges, were sentenced by Judge Lenard to harsh jail terms, including double life in prison for one of the defendants.

Actually, they just were gathering information on anti-Cuban terrorist plots in Miami in an effort to thwart violent actions that would also affect US citizens.

Hernández, Labañino and Guerrero received life sentences from Lenard, who added a second life imprisonment for Hernández. René González was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Fernando González to 19 years behind bars.

The Atlanta ruling comes less than a month after a UN panel ruled that the detention of the five men was arbitrary and in violation of international law.

The judgment came from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, part of the Geneva-based UN Commission on Human Rights.

But "this is a political issue," Attorney Weinglass warned, voicing fear over a possible appeal by the US government prosecutors in an effort to delay the process, and said his team is reviewing appropriate steps for bail.

When asked if he supported Cuban Parliament Chairman Ricardo Alarcon´s demand for their immediate release, he agreed, lamenting the fact that "They´ve already done seven years."

In remarks to the media in Caracas, Venezuela, where he is attending the World Youth Festival, Alarcon hailed the ruling as "a victory against those who promote terrorism, against hypocrites who tout a supposed war on terror and in reality protect terrorists and jail young men who only acted to oppose terrorism in the United States."

Amid a flurry of calls, the defense lawyer took time to comment on the future of his famous case, saying "the next step is up to the US government. They have 21 days to decide whether or not to take the case to the full circuit court."

Massive protests on the island, deep-seated support from the international community and a considerable amount of backing from US people may have finally brought about an ethical judicial decision.

Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, was quoted on as saying, "This is a huge victory! We are ecstatic about this decision. It confirms that the five Cubans are completely innocent, as we always knew they were."

These victims of lawlessness have spent the better part of a decade languishing in US jails, two of them without seeing their families, and as Weinglass says, "instead of a retrial they deserve an apology from the US governemt and be sent home."

From Granma (Cuba): Atlanta Court overturns the Five’s convictions and sentences


ON August 9 a Federal Appeals Court unanimously revoked the convictions of guilt and life sentences imposed on the five Cubans accused of espionage, affirming that they did not have a fair trial in Miami die to the prejudices of the community and the extensive publicity around the case.

In the face of the finding of the Appeals Court and the UN Panel, Ricardo Alarcón, president of the National Assembly, informed Granma International that what the U.S. government should do now is simply, to release them.

“It is a very important decision,” Alarcón added, “because it is what we have been saying for all these years, both the accused and their defense lawyers and all the solidarity groups in the world created in recent years. The conviction and sentence have been overturned and a new trial ordered. This is what the Atlanta Court of Appeals has decided.

“It is very important because it implies an acknowledgement that it was an invalid legal process, which has violated a series of fundamental legal rulings, including perhaps, the most obvious one: that this entire judicial farce was made against five anti-terrorist combatants who were accused of fighting Miami terrorist groups and were forced to stand trial in Miami. That was an extremely grave violation on the part of the judge and moreover, supreme evidence of the way in which the government of the United States acted, because as the judges acknowledged in their finding of today, just one year later the same government stated that there could not be an impartial trial in Miami on any Cuba-related issue.

“I believe that, in essence, the decision is fundamentally in line with a basic point made by the defense. Nobody can now say that our total condemnation of the legal procedure as false, as full of prejudice, was without any foundation, that it was even outside the realm of justice, including U.S. justice and that from a strictly technical U.S. point of view, the least that they would have to do is to overturn it and organize a retrial, and that was what the judges decided. Now it is the turn of the United States to respond. The response is very simple.

“A few days ago a group of UN experts determined that the arrest of these five Cubans and the whole legal procedure had been arbitrary and contrary to the law. To be deprived of one’s freedom against the law is kidnapping. Now a U.S. court has also ruled that what the U.S. government did against those persons was not legal, and for that reason overturned it and ordered a new trial, so that justice is done. What the U.S. government should do immediately is to release them.

“If they want to charge them with something else, let them charge them, let them present evidence, let them find an impartial court to try five men who are currently kidnapped and should be released. It is very important now to ensure that the major international media discover the news. I told CNN, let the people of the United States know the truth; it was for some reason that the three judges said what they said today; it was for some reason that the five UN experts said what they are saying today; let the U.S. people know the truth, let the people know the truth, the facts, what the parties stated in that trial, to see what conclusion the people reach.

“I do not have the slightest doubt that any honest and honorable person who analyzes this case will reach the same conclusion. The U.S. judges have just done so. My respect to them, they are eminent jurists in the United States, with a lengthy curriculum, and they have ruled in the only way that any honorable person could do, the same as the people of the United States will do when the monopolies that exercise hegemony over the media in that country allow it, knowing the truth, enjoying the First Amendment, which is what grants the right to information.”

The panel of three judges at the Atlanta Court of Appeals ordered a new trial having accepted the defense lawyers’ arguments in terms of the guilty verdict in 2001.

None of the jury members were Cuban, but the lawyers had objected to the trial on the grounds of defects in its form and content.

Federal judges have not initially commented on the appeals court decision.

Moreover, the Atlanta judges overturned the conviction of conspiracy to commit homicide against Gerardo Hernández, who was sentenced to two life terms for also being charged with the death of four men who violated Cuban airspace in a light aircraft brought down by a Cuban Air Force MiG in 1996.

The five heroes were convicted in June 2001 having been found guilty of acting as non-registered agents of a foreign government and other charges.

The Five admitted to having been agents of the Cuban government and bravely stated that they had infiltrated terrorist groups but not agencies of the U.S. government.

Their defense lawyers also argued that the principal task of the agents was to frustrate the action of gangs backing acts of terrorism against Cuba, including a series of attacks in Havana in 1997 in which one tourist died and a further 12 people were injured.

From March 10 last year, three U.S. judges were appointed by the 11th Circuit of the Atlanta Court of Appeals to review the case of Gerardo Hernández, René González, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González.

After close to 17 months and reviewing a large volume of statements, the judges unanimously ruled to overturn the sentences of the Five – as they are known in the international campaigns for their release.

The Five were detained in September 1998, and after 17 months in solitary confinement were subjected to a trial plagued with irregularities in Miami.

In line with the sentences revoked this August 9, Gerardo was serving double life plus 15 years’ imprisonment; Ramón and Antonio, life terms plus 18 years imprisonment for the former and 10 for the latter; Fernando, 19 years’ imprisonment; and René, 15 years.

From AIN - Cuban News Agency: Cuba Reviews Atlanta Court Ruling on Cuban Five

Havana, Aug 11 (AIN) Immediate freedom for the Cuban Five is the only just and ethical recourse after they have spent nearly seven years in prison for crimes they never committed, coincided panelists on Wednesday evening's The Round Table program.

On Tuesday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of Atlanta made public its ruling that the convictions against Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez were null and void since they never received a fair and impartial trail.

Legal experts sitting in on the televised Round Table noted that the news about the unanimous court decision continues to have an impact in the international media, making Cubans and the members of 246 Free the Five groups in 82 nations very happy.

The Cuban Five were arrested by the FBI in 1998, and in 2001, after a biased and highly politicized trial in Miami, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from life in prison for three of them to 19 and 15 years for the other two defendants.

Leonard Weinglass, the defense lawyer for Antonio Guerrero, was interviewed by telephone. When asked what's next, he explained that the prosecution has 21 days to appeal the Atlanta court decision, and if they do so, and the court accepts the appeal, a decision could take many months.

Otherwise, if the prosecution feels its still has a case, a date must be set to begin a new judicial process against the five men who dedicated their lives to fighting terrorism.

However, the attorney emphasized that instead of a new trial the Cubans should be set free and that they and the people of Cuba should receive an apology for the injustice suffered.

Roberto Gonzalez, the brother of Cuban Five member Rene, and himself a lawyer, clarified several procedural aspects of US law, and highlighted that the three judges made an ethical decision. Now, he said it is necessary to make the final impulse to obtain the liberty of the Cubans.

Richard Klugh, the defense lawyer for Fernando Gonzalez, stated in a telephone interview that besides the prosecution's decision on whether to appeal or seek a new trial the court would have to decide on whether to free to Cuban Five on bail.

Dr Julio Fernandez Bulte, a well-known Cuban law professor, affirmed that the judicial elements cited and the decision of the three judges was rigorous and professional. He noted the sharp contrast to the frivolous and superficial way in which the Miami court dealt with the case involving 24 charges against the Five.

Fernandez Bulte stated that an appeal by the prosecution would not be viable since the reasons for revoking the convictions and ordering a new trial were overwhelming. He insisted though that justice is yet to be done, because the five have still not been pronounced not guilty, adding that this is the moment to intensify the struggle for their freedom.

Another distinguished Cuban legal expert, Professor Rodolfo Davalos recalled that what was really under review by the appeals court was the legitimate exercise of the constitutional rights of the defendants to a defense and a fair trial. He said the judges verified the long list of arbitrary actions against them that took place before, during and after the trial.

Jose Pertierra, a Washington based lawyer, explained that the prosecutor has the option to drop the charges and set the Cuban Five free, but he voiced the opinion that for political reasons, it is probable that they will insist on holding another trial. Pertierra added that if the case is tried in a city free of the prejudices that contaminate Miami, the prisoners will be absolved because of the weak evidence against them.

In southern Florida the reaction to the court decision from Cuban-American members of Congress and the leaders of organizations with a long standing record of terrorist activities against the island was of anger and deception.

The fact that the heavily manipulated trial against the Cuban Five cost taxpayers 20 million dollars has been highlighted by several observers, who also commented that a similar figure could be required to cover the cost of a new trial at a different venue.

Miami resident Andres Gomez, president of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, congratulated the Cuban people for the favorable court decision and he especially praised those in southern Florida who have been active in the struggle for the Five's freedom.

Gomez affirmed on the panel that when the decision of the appeals court makes reference to the hostile environment of Miami, they are not talking about the entire population of that city, but specifically the ultra rightwing segment that creates an environment of terror and falsely presents itself as representing the whole Cuban-American community.

Maria E. Guerrero, Antonio's sister, described the phone call with her imprisoned brother after the ruling, during which in a very emotional way he urged her to be patient and have faith that justice will prevail. Antonio Guerrero expressed gratitude for the work of the defense attorneys and for the solidarity
shown by the Cuban people.

At the end of The Round Table, Cuban TV broadcast excerpts from the solidarity meeting with the Cuban Five that took place Wednesday in Venezuela, where the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students is taking place.

From the Miami Herald: Court overturns spy verdicts

A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out the convictions of five accused Cuban spies, finding that the volatile mix of Miami's anti-Castro political climate and intense media coverage -- both amplified in the wake of the Elián González drama -- made a fair trial in the city an impossibility.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means that the five Miami men -- convicted in June 2001 of infiltrating Miami's exile community and trying to pass U.S. military secrets to Havana -- will have a new trial. But not in Miami.

In its 93-page opinion, the court found the six-month trial was hopelessly inundated with news coverage and public protests, while the community was already saturated with stories about the Elián case, an immigration agent charged with spying for Fidel Castro and local bans on doing business with Cuba.

The court also said prosecutors made improper comments during the trial, as did José Basulto, the founder of Brothers to the Rescue, who implied from the witness stand that one of the defense lawyers was a Cuban agent.

''A new trial was mandated by the perfect storm created when the surge of pervasive community sentiment and extensive publicity both before and during the trial merged with the improper prosecutorial references,'' the court said.

But at least one juror said she didn't feel nearly as pressured by anti-Castro sentiment as the appeals court believed.

''As far as I'm concerned, the verdict we reached had nothing to do with the community. The verdict we reached was because of the evidence presented to us,'' Omaira Garcia said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

''I felt no pressure at all, and I'm sure the other jurors didn't either,'' said Garcia, a legal assistant.

Lawyers for the defendants -- Gerardo Hernández, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero, René González and Ramón Labañino -- cheered the ruling, praising the court for taking a position that would no doubt be unpopular in Miami.

''I have new faith in the court of appeals and the system of laws,'' said Paul McKenna, who represented Hernández. ``The trial was infected with prejudice from the beginning to the end.''

The defense lawyers first asked U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard to move the trial out of Miami in January 2000 and said Fort Lauderdale would be a better venue.

At the time, the federal government was seeking to send 6-year-old rafter Elián González back to Cuba to live with his father, raising a furor in Miami's Cuban-American community.


The verdict in the spy trial was undone in part by the government's stance in a separate civil case that spun out of the Elián case: Defending an employment lawsuit brought by immigration agent Ricardo Ramirez, government lawyers said they could not get a fair trial in Miami. They said the community had become too polarized after the INS raid that sent Elián back to Cuba.

Defense lawyers for the accused spies then used the government's pleadings to persuade the appeals court that it was unfair to hold the spy trial in Miami as well.

Former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, whose office dedicated thousands of hours and millions of dollars to its pursuit of the accused spies, said the trial judge went to great lengths to make sure the trial was fair.

''I think the court is wrong,'' said Lewis, now a lawyer in private practice. ``What they are saying is that you can't get a fair trial here in South Florida.''

Federal prosecutors did not comment on Tuesday's decision, though they are certain to pursue a retrial of the five men, who were convicted of 23 spying-related charges.

After their convictions, Hernández, Labañino and Guerrero all received life sentences from Lenard. Hernández was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for his alleged role in the 1996 shooting by Cuban fighters of two Brothers to the Rescue planes over international waters. Four people died in the shooting.

René González, a pilot accused of faking his defection to insinuate himself into Brothers to the Rescue, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Fernando González, no relation, was convicted of trying to infiltrate the offices of Cuban-American politicians and shadowing prominent exiles, including one-time accused airplane bomber Orlando Bosch; González was sentenced to 19 years.

The five men were arrested in 1998 as U.S. agents dismantled a Cuban spy network called La Red Avispa, the Wasp Network. Prosecutors said the ring infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue and other Miami-area exile groups, spreading disinformation and spying for Castro. Some were also accused of trying to gather intelligence about the U.S. military; Guerrero was a laborer at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station near Key West.


The FBI seized coded computer disks containing 2,000 messages among the defendants and their handlers in Havana, prosecutors said. Federal agents also found shortwave radio messages from Cuba warning that René Gonzalez and another pilot should not fly with the Brothers around the time of the shoot-down.

Defense lawyers essentially conceded that the five were working on behalf of the Cuban government but said they were simply trying to protect their homeland from exile groups and did not try to gather military secrets.

Tuesday's court ruling dismayed many in Miami's Cuban community, especially the relatives of the pilots from Brothers to the Rescue, an organization that flew small planes across the Florida Straits in search of rafters fleeing Cuba.


''We are extremely disappointed,'' said Maggie Alejandre Khuly, whose brother, Armando Alejandre Jr., was one of those shot down on Feb. 24, 1996. ``I sat at the trial every day, and I don't think I saw any miscarriage of justice. But we firmly believe and respect the American justice system.''

Basulto said he didn't believe there was any undue influence on the jurors, none of whom were Cuban American.

''I'm very disappointed in their decision. They were convicted by a jury of their peers,'' he said. ``If they are retried, they will again be found guilty.''

But the court found that, in some cases, if the climate outside the courthouse is too hostile, ``it is unnecessary to prove that local prejudice actually entered the jury box.''

McKenna said he will try to get Hernández released on bail after seven years in custody. And the San Francisco-based National Committee to Free the Cuban Five said it would ask the Justice Department to allow the wives of Hernández and René González to travel from Cuba to the United States to visit their spouses.

Olga Salanueva, wife of prisoner René González, told Cuban broadcasters that she was overjoyed, according to the Associated Press. ''It's been many years since I've received such good news,'' she said.


In Cuba, where the five men have been portrayed as heroic patriots since their arrest in 1998, the court's decision was hailed.

''This is a victory against those who promote terrorism, against hypocrites who tout a supposed war on terror and in reality protect terrorists and jail young men who only acted to oppose terrorism in the United States,'' National Assembly speaker Ricardo Alarcon told Agence France-Presse. He called on the U.S. government to free the five men from prison.

The court's ruling comes less than a month after a U.N. panel ruled that the detention of the five men was arbitrary and in violation of international law. The judgment came from the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, part of the Geneva-based U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

It found the five were denied full access to evidence and to their lawyers, but a senior State Department official told The Herald at the time that the ruling was a ''politically motivated'' maneuver orchestrated by the Cuban government.

State Department officials did not comment on Tuesday's federal appeals ruling, calling it ``a judicial and law enforcement matter.''

Some in Miami found the federal appeals court's language condescending and insulting.

The court concluded it's ruling by praising the ''traditional values'' of the Cuban-American community and saying: ``We trust that any disappointment with our judgment in this case will be tempered and balanced by the recognition that we are a nation of laws in which every defendant, no matter how unpopular, must be treated fairly.''

''We are sensitive about Cuban issues, that's true, but this is insulting to exiles,'' said Manny Vazquez, an attorney for the Cuban American National Foundation. ``We are a peaceful community, and yes, we want a change in government in Cuba, but we want it in a peaceful way.''

From AFP: US court orders retrial of convicted Cuban spies

A US appeals court has ordered a retrial for five Cubans convicted in 2001 of spying on the United States for the communist government in Havana, their attorneys said Tuesday.

Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez, Fernando Gonzalez Llort, Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, Ramon Labanino Salazar and Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert were arrested in September 1998 in southern Florida.

They were accused of monitoring US military installations, including the US Southern Command headquarters and a Key West air base, and infiltrating Cuban-American exile groups.

The five were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences after they were found guilty of spying.

Cuba has admitted they were Cuban agents but said they were only spying on Cuban-American exiles in Miami plotting against Cuba, not on the United States.

In Havana, National Assembly speaker Ricardo Alarcon hailed Cuba's "victory" as a US appeals court ordered a retrial for the five convicted Cubans.

"This is a victory against those who promote terrorism, against hypocrites who tout a supposed war on terror and in reality protect terrorists, and jail young men who only acted to oppose terrorism in the United States," Alarcon told AFP.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that "the pervasive community prejudice against (Cuban President) Fidel Castro and the Cuban government and its agents and the publicity surrounding the trial and other community events combined to create a situation where they were unable to obtain a fair and impartial trial.

"We agree, and reverse their convictions and remand for a retrial. Our consideration of a motion for change of venue requires a review of the totality of the circumstances surrounding the trial."

The case has been one of many sources of tension between Cuba, the only communist-ruled country in the Americas, and the United States.

IMPORTANT CORRECTION - "Loyalists Continue Terror Campaign in Northern Ireland"

(Major mix up on Monday's article "Loyalists Continue Terror Campaign in Northern Ireland")

I just received the following:

A little bit of misinformation on the Cloughmills
attacks, I'm a
Sinn Féin Councillor, not an SDLP member!!

Cllr Daithí McKay
Sinn Féin

(Wow! I'm very sorry for the error. Can't say that I know how it happened.)

From the Belfast Telegraph concerning the pipe bomb attacks:

Councillor Daithi McKay said: "We have seen churches attacked, businesses attacked and homes attacked and this is the latest instalment in this ongoing campaign.

"I would appeal to nationalists and republicans to remain highly vigilant in the time ahead as it seems that unionist paramilitary gangs are intent on escalating their campaign.

"I would also once again appeal to the leadership of the DUP to get a grip on this issue.

"Instead of acting as cheer leaders for the paramilitary gangs they must, for the first time, make a stand and begin to treat nationalists in this area with equality and respect."

Some information about Daithi McKay

Councillor Daithí McKay
Sinn Féin – Bann Valley

25 Wallace Park


BT44 8QH


Elected to Council - 2005

Political advisor
Committee Membership - Health & Environmental Services Committee, Lignite Committee
Member of Rasharkin Community Association
Serves on Northern Ireland Local Government Association Executive Committee
Chairperson of Northern Ireland Local Government Association E-Government Committee

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Oread Daily Takes A Break For The Dog Days

I've decided to take the rest of August off to "enjoy" the heat, watch some baseball*, and maybe jump in a pool. So the next regularly scheduled Oread Daily with any luck will appear Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005. In the meantime, should you write or run across something which you would like to see appear on the blog, send it to me at and I'll see what I can do.

*(Of course, then comes September and October, with the final days of the pennant races, play off games, World Series, which could also have an impact on that OD schedule, but we'll worry about that some other time)

Catch y'all later...

Monday, August 08, 2005

No More Nuclear Bombs

Four coordinated anti-nuclear bomb protests occurred on Saturday. Protest sites were in Las Vegas, near the Nevada Test Site; Y-12 Production Plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Southern California; and Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico.

At Los Alamos, the birthplace of the Atomic Bomb, hundreds were on hand in protest on the 60th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Sunflowers, the international symbol for nuclear disarmament, were arranged around a pond and protesters gathered to listen to guest speakers. The Los Alamos Monitor reports banners and posters that read things such as, "You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war" and "Stop the new bomb factory" were prominently displayed throughout the day's speeches.

"We're trying to protect the planet from being destroyed," said Father John Dear of Pax Christi New Mexico, an organization that strives to create peace worldwide. "Nuclear weapons are the ultimate form of terrorism. We are New Mexico people and we're not going away. We're going to keep building a movement until the weapons are abolished.

Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, an organization that provides leadership on nuclear disarmament and related issues in New Mexico, said Los Alamos does not need a laboratory to be a successful community.

"The more waste dumped here and the more plutonium manufactured here, the more pigeon-holed and associated with pollution the community becomes, and the public doesn't like that," he said.

"If we are going to oppose militarism, then it's best we oppose our own militarism right at home because that would be most effective," Mello said.

Mello said he has spoken with hundreds of scientists at the lab and has found that only about 10 percent support the production of nuclear weapons.

"Scientists need to speak up," Mello said. "If they don't, it's assumed they support nuclear weapons. If they don't want to work on nuclear weapons, they shouldn't. These are hard choices they have to make. We have nothing against the people here, but we have to be firm about these destructive policies."

As part of the event, County Council Chair Fran Berting arrived at the U.S. Post Office to accept a letter written by the mayor of Hiroshima and a resolution passed in April by the Santa Fe City Council. David Coss, a Santa Fe city councilor, gave Berting the letter, which outlines the need to globally work together to end the production of nuclear weapons. He also gave her the Santa Fe resolution which calls upon the U.S. government to order the disarmament of nuclear weapons.

"I respectfully accept this letter and will take it to the next council meeting," Berting said. "I think we all share the same ultimate goal - world peace."

Prior to the event, about 250 New Mexico businesses signed a petition stating they were against the production of nuclear weapons, and banners set up at the rally identified each of those businesses or organizations.

The primary function of the lab today, reports the California Aggie, is stockpile stewardship — the maintenance and storage of nuclear weapons for immediate use in case of nuclear conflict. The lab’s mission is to sustain international peace through the threat of nuclear war, according to lab spokesperson Kevin Roark.

Near Livermore Labs, a place many consider the brain of the nuclear weapons complex in the United States, the Seeds of Change: No Nukes! No Wars! rally began with a pot-luck family picnic, where organizers used sharing and coming together to show their aspirations for a nuclear-free world.

“It is our hope that our voice helps stop the dangerous design of nuclear weapons,” said Tara Dorabjl of Tri-Valley CARES. “We are trying to send a clear message that having nuclear weapons anywhere makes us less secure. We are gathered in part to honor the victims that suffered from the horror of 60 years ago, and to show that we are a growing non-violent community and celebrate our resistance.”

The Livermore Lab is one of the primary nuclear weapons design labs in the world, and has been named as the sole site to develop the Robust Nuclear Earth Penerator, or RNEP, a new high-yield bomb.

Near Oak Ridge, some 1,100 demonstrators carrying signs and beating drums marched to the gates of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, where the uranium for the original bomb was supplied and warhead parts are still manufactured. Fifteen people were arrested at the Y-12 Production Plant, Oak Ridge for blocking a road outside the heavily guarded weapons factory that helped fuel the bomb during World War II.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, students and peace activists in Las Vegas gathered for seminars and speeches on eliminating nuclear weapons.

Back at Los Alamos, Masako Hashida said she was 15 and working in a Mitsubishi weapons factory making torpedoes in Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, when the second atomic bomb was dropped.

"All at once I heard a loud metallic sound," Hashida said. "I saw huge red, blue, yellow and purple light waves coming toward me. I must have fainted at that moment."

Hashida said when she regained consciousness, she was under a cliff outside the factory and she was surrounded by sooty smoke. She saw bent and torn steel frame girders from the factory.

"As I started to move to seek help, I saw a human-like creature trying to draw itself up to its full height," Hashida said. "Despite the fact that the creature's head was swollen, its eyes were red and popping out, its lips were painfully swollen, and its skin was hanging from the bones, it managed to stand. This person was just staring straight ahead without seeing, without feeling or control. I could not tell if it was a man or a woman."

The next day, Hashida's father came to Nagasaki to look for her body, and when he found her, he hugged her tight and sobbed.

Hashida said at that point she began to realize the impact of what had happened and she too began to cry.

"I have suffered all these years with survivor's guilt," Hashida said. "I even lost my ability to speak for a month or more. For a long time, until recently, I could never talk about that day."

Hashida said people are now forgetting the sorrow, pain and death caused by weapons of mass destruction. She said her memories of all the people who died, including her friends and loved ones, drove her to come to Los Alamos.

"I believe that I must raise my voice and tell as many people as possible about what I witnessed so that these weapons will never again be used," Hashida said. Sources: Los Alamos Monitor, Santa Fe New Mexican, Daily Bruin (UCLA), San Mateo County Times, California Aggie

"People Fought, Died And Bled for the Right to Vote"

SNCC Activist Ekwueme Michael Thelwell: "People Fought, Died And Bled for the Right to Vote"

Taken from Democracy Now

Former field secretary of SNCC, professor Ekwueme Michael Thelwell speaking on the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act at the Grassroots Radio Conference in Northampton, Massachusetts.

On Saturday, the 40th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Amy Goodman spoke with Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, the Jamaican-born novelist and Professor of Afro American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He was also the former field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). While working for SNCC in Washington DC, Thelwell recruited volunteers for the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign in Mississippi, which sent volunteers into the state to register African-American voters.

Thelwell's many accomplishments include his publication “Ready for Revolution,” a compilation of the memoirs of Stokely Carmichael, (Kwame Toure) chair of SNCC and honorary prime minister of the Black Panther Party. Thelwell is also the author of the novel, “The Harder They Come.” Amy Goodman interviewed Thelwell at the 10th annual Grassroots Radio Conference, attended by hundreds of media activists from across the country.

AMY GOODMAN: I had the opportunity to speak with Michael Thelwell on the day of the anniversary, August 6, just on Saturday night at a conference in Northampton, Massachusetts. The annual event was attended by hundreds of media activists from across the country, who had come together to celebrate community media. We were at the John M. Green Hall at Smith College. And I asked Ekwueme Michael Thelwell to talk about the state of the media today.

EKWUEME MICHAEL THELWELL: I want to congratulate you personally for the work you are doing because I have been observing the government and media in this country for 40 years. And I have never seen a time where the media, now a corporate monopoly, has been so compromised, so corrupt, so subservient and the general population so victimized as a consequence of that corruption. So the work that you are doing and the people in grassroots media is incrementally much, much more valuable and crucial at this particular time. Because I think that a fundamental social contract of this country , everything that makes this country an entity that you could admire and want to defend, is being challenged as I have never seen it In 40 years. So, what you do is very important.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, it’s especially significant now this weekend with the establishing of a new radio station here –


AMY GOODMAN: – in your area, low power FM and all the media activism that goes on here in Western Massachusetts. As we sit here today, in Atlanta, thousands of people marched today on this 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Could you talk a little bit -- can you go back to that time? Can you talk a little bit about your experience organizing African Americans to vote in the Mississippi Delta? And also you can bring in the experience of Kwame Toure.

EKWUEME MICHAEL THELWELL: You don’t want me to talk about all that, Miss Goodman, because we don't have time.

AMY GOODMAN: You can call me Amy.

EKWUEME MICHAEL THELWELL: Amy. But what I’ll say is this. We were very active, Carmichael, SNCC, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, in fighting for the right to vote, and I particularly worked in Mississippi. That fight took four years, cost many lives and a whole displaced population. People were turned off their land. People were run out of the state. And white American terrorism was manifest every day of our lives in that struggle, so that people fought, died and bled for the right to vote. When the Voting Rights Act was signed, I was working in Washington, D.C. A comrade of mine who was working with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party is in the audience, Alan Shipman, and we understood and the movement understood that the Voting Rights Act was signed very reluctantly and over the active protest and resistance of segments of the dominant then Democratic Party, because of its Southern wing.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that for people who weren't even born then, but are very interested in this history.

EKWUEME MICHAEL THELWELL: The Democratic Party had a very hybrid and bastard characterization. For the one hand, its Southern arm really ran the country, because in the apartheid South, where 40% of the population, black people, were not allowed to vote, they were still counted in the census. So, the South got representation, as though the black population were in fact citizens. And then only white people were allowed to vote. There was only one party, the Democratic Party, so that the Southern Democrats, the so-called Dixiecrats, had incredible longevity in the Congress, and they were totally overrepresented in the House of Representatives because the black vote was disfranchised.

When L.B.J. signed the Voting Rights Act, he is said to have said, “I have just signed the destruction of the Democratic Party,” which was something we cheered, because we thought that once black people in the South were able to vote, the progressive elements in the Democratic Party, the labor movement throughout the country, and progressives throughout would make an alliance with a more progressive liberal Democratic Party coming out of the South, and the Democratic Party would have a single characteristic. It wouldn't be divided anymore.

To our distress, what happened was the Dixiecrats, the racists, the segregationists simply migrated wholesale into the Republican Party and since that time, there have only been two Democratic presidents, and both of them from the South. You know, so that the law of unintended consequences, we won a victory by which the whole country suffered, as a consequence of the taking over of the Republican Party by these really renegade, undemocratic, reactionary, backward elements from the Southern Dixiecrats. And they have run the Republican Party ever since.

And the Republican Party has managed to establish a media network, which has really created in this country a virtual reality. I have spent the summer examining the media, and I have been appalled at what I have been seeing.But it's very clear – they used to tell us that only totalitarian countries rewrote history, and they did it for devious reasons. But I have seen the way the American media can not only rewrite history, but can completely redefine and reconstruct contemporary reality. Do you remember when the late Ronald Reagan died? Now, this -- may he rest in peace. But you see, this wasn't something four or five generations ago. We have been led to understand that you can rewrite history if everybody who experienced that history is dead. So, who can contradict you? But Ronald Reagan's administration was in the lifetime of everybody living. And yet if you looked at the way the media reported it, you could see no relationship between the administration that we had lived through and the one that they were enshrining in national memory. So, the media is rewriting history every day.

The struggle -- before Mrs. Fanny Lou Hamer died, I went to visit her. And she looked at me and tears came into her eyes. She said, “Mike, do you remember how hard we had to struggle, bled and died for the right to vote?” I said, “Yes, Mrs. Hamer, who could forget?” She says, “You know, these young people don't care anything for that.” This generation, in one generation that struggle had been forgotten almost, and forgotten largely because history isn’t taught properly, but also because there's still a concentrated effort by the very same people who resisted the broadening of the democratic practices in this country to minimize and reduce minority voting. We saw it in 2000. We saw it in 2004. Rehnquist himself did that before he went to the Supreme Court. So, those forces are still very much alive and more powerful now than they were in 1965, which is something nobody would have wanted to believe, that at the turn of the century, forces we thought were in retreat, that this country had made a turn towards a more rational, a more humane, a more decent and civilized society, could have suffered the kind of setbacks we have seen, which is why the work you do on Democracy Now! and the grassroots radio people and the activists present in this room, although you are now threatened and the values we respect are jeopardized, the work you do is much, much more important now than anything we did then, and the price of failure is inconceivable. You don't even want to think about it, because the direction that this country is being moved in.

AMY GOODMAN: In Atlanta, tying in to what you are saying, Professor Thelwell, organizers of the Keep the Vote Alive march called for Congress and the President to extend key provisions of the landmark legislation, the Voting Rights Act, and Congress member John Lewis, Georgia, said, “40 years later, we're still marching for the right to vote. Don't give up, don't give in. Keep the faith. Keep your eyes on the prize.”

EKWUEME MICHAEL THELWELL: Absolutely, but it's important to notice, you know, that what will a Republican -- and this isn’t even the same Republican Party. These people are not conservatives. They are right wing radicals. What will that Congress do when it comes time to renew the Voting Rights Act? And it would be important to note also that during the Reagan administration, when another renewal came up, some of the strongest and most cogent and most ideologically driven arguments as to why the Voting Rights Act should be constrained or not renewed came from Mr. Roberts who has been nominated to the Supreme Court now.


EKWUEME MICHAEL THELWELL: Well, he was an adviser in the Justice Department or the White House. He served both places, under Reagan, and these issues came up. And he was to write -- it was the Justice Department, and he was to write legal memos to Elliot Smith, the Attorney General, who -- I am not sure I got his name right.

AMY GOODMAN: William French Smith.

EKWUEME MICHAEL THELWELL: William French Smith. Thank you. And so, some of those memorandums have come to light. And they were all ideologically driven arguments, couched in legal terms as to why it would be appropriate, good, and in the interest of the country or maybe only the administration, to in fact constrain the Voting Rights Act, not to extend it to certain territory – not to extend it to certain areas, and to restrict it. And those were his first contributions, I guess, to the national political discourse. Whether he will be given an opportunity to make further contributions on the high court is something that we all look at with considerable interest and apprehension.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Thelwell, I wanted to ask what it was like for you to come from a predominantly black country, and also in your writing about Kwame Toure, Stokely Carmichael, the same, from the Caribbean, although his experience may have been different from yours, coming to this country, a predominantly white country, and what was it like for you in the 1960s, your experience as you were fighting here for African Americans to get the right to vote, coming from a very different place?

EKWUEME MICHAEL THELWELL: Well, what I am about to say is almost certain to be misunderstood, because my country was predominantly black and with social problems, but on the question of race, relatively civilized. I didn't really become black until I set foot in this country. In Jamaica, I was simply a promising, very smart, very articulate young man. I got off the plane at La Guardia, and I became a Negro. I went to Howard University, the best thing I ever did. It was a black school. 30% of the population was from the Caribbean, another 10% was from Anglophone Africa and the rest were from the African American community, from Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, from Detroit, from New York. So, it was an incredible enclave in Washington of young black people and an institution with a whole black legacy and heritage. So that it was a perfect place to enter into the discourse and sensibility of the black world, of a self-conscious black world, in a way that we didn't really have to do in Jamaica up until the time that I left it. I mean, I had never been refused food in a restaurant. That would happen to me in Baltimore. I had never been arrested for anything. That would happen to me in this country, though always in the civil rights movement, never for petty crime. And I have to say, my education as a black man began when I came -- I went to Howard University and met people like James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, etc., etc., especially because of activism in the movement.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, the Jamaican-born novelist and Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He was also Field Secretary for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, SNCC. He worked with them in Washington D.C., organizing recruits for the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign in Mississippi where he also spent a good amount of time organizing African American voters. Among Professor Thelwell's works are Ready for Revolution, which he wrote with Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Toure), helping Kwame Toure in his last days put together his memoir, Kwame Toure, leader of the Black Panther Party. Also his novel, Professor Thelwell's novel is called The Harder They Come. I interviewed him at the Grassroots Radio Conference, the tenth annual conference. This year it was held in Northampton, Massachusetts. We'll put the full mp3 of the entire event on our website at DemocracyNow.Org. Among those we talked to, Martín Espada, the renowned poet, Frances Crowe, long-time activist, as well as Juanita Nelson, a war tax resistor more author than a half century. Thurston Moore also performed, one of the founders of Sonic Youth. That will all be on the mp3 at

Loyalists Continue Terror Campaign in Northern Ireland

Residents of Northern Ireland’s Catholic community are cautioned to be on alert following the explosion of two pipe bombs outside homes in Cloughmills, Co Antrim and the discovery of a third hoax device left on a windowsill.

These incidents come following a series of attacks on Catholic churches and pubs all summer long across north Antrim.

Sean Farren, a Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Assembly member for North Antrim, said he was disturbed by the incidents. He said, "Loyalist gangs are flexing their muscles all over North Antrim, most recently in a series of attacks on Catholic churches, but the use of pipe bombs may mean they are moving on to a new level of activity. Pipe bombs are made for one purpose only - to do murder."

UTV reports, the first device exploded in Cypress Park early today, showering a living room with glass. Less than an hour before the attack, another bomb detonated under a van parked in nearby Rosemount.

Inspector Nick McCaw said, "We are treating the incident at the house as attempted murder. Anybody would have been badly injured, if not killed, if they had been in that room when the device exploded."

SDLP’s Daithi McKay, said both families targeted by the pipe bombers today were attacked before. "They are adamant that they are not going anywhere," he said. "They have lived there all their lives and are not going to be intimidated or forced out of the village by a group of thugs.”

"I would appeal to nationalists and republicans in north Antrim to remain highly vigilant in the time ahead as it seems that unionist paramilitary gangs are intent on escalating their campaign," he added.

At the same time, Sinn Fein says six families had been ordered out of Ahoghill, another nearby village. Daily Ireland reports, the Police Services of Northern Ireland (PSNI) informed the six Catholic families that their lives would be in danger if they did not leave the area before the weekend. Speaking of the threats, Ballymena Sinn Féin councillor Monica Digney said she was “horrified” at the news. “These are the actions of bigoted cavemen and it’s up to the political leaders of unionism to bring them to heel,” she said.

Less then two ago, Protestant extremists attacked two Roman Catholic owned pubs and a Catholic family's home in the area while defacing two Catholic churches. No injuries were reported in what police called a wave of intimidation attacks in and around Ballymena, a mostly Protestant town northwest of Belfast. Catholic leaders appealed to the area's Protestant politicians to do more to challenge the extremists, who frequently threaten Catholic homes, businesses and churches in the area.

While all this was going on Republicans from across County Derry gathered yesterday to mark the 24th anniversary of the death of hunger striker Thomas McElwee. West Tyrone Sinn Fein assembly member Barry McElduff spoke at the grave in Bellaghy, Co Derry that Thomas McElwee shares with his first cousin and fellow hunger striker Francis Hughes.

“I believe that that the strength of republicans and the popular support they enjoy is largely the result of two waves of support — the hunger strike and the peace process. Both were responsible for injecting momentum into the republican movement,” he said.

He added, “I understand that people may feel disoriented and possibly feel a sense of loss at the IRA statement of July 28.

“I urge republicans to continue to develop a questioning culture but one that is rooted in activism,” he said.

“Sinn Féin’s goal is achieve a united Ireland and an Ireland of equals, and the challenge is to deliver that as soon as possible,” he said.

The actions of Loyalist extremists, as reported above, make the achievement of that goal a difficult one. Sources: UTV, Q97.5 (London, Ontario), Daily Ireland

Free the Rossport Five

Five men, known as the Rossport Five, Micheal O'Seighin, Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin, and brothers Vincent and Philip McGrath remain jailed for their protests against the construction of a dangerous gas pipeline in County Mayo, Ireland. The five men are local farmers who have campaigned for some time about the safety aspects of the pipeline, and also the destruction of one of Ireland's last areas of pristine bogland. The five were jailed more than a month ago for refusing to abide by a High Court order preventing them from obstructing the construction of the high pressure pipeline from the Corrib gas field to an onshore refinery across their land.

Joe Higgins, Socialist Party member of the Irish Parliament, writes in Socialist World, I was in the High Court on the day that these men were imprisoned. The President of the High Court was not only threatening to jail these men but 'every landowner in Mayo' should they not obey his orders. The Rossport Five, as they have come to be known, were then bundled off to Cloverhill Prison when they were not prepared to say that they would give up their protest.”

They, of course, are not the only people concerned about Shell’s project. Last week, members of the London Irish Green Group, together with Green Party members from across London and Bedfordshire, protested outside Shell’s headquarters in London. At the protest, Noel Lynch, Chair of the London Irish Green Group, commented: ''We are here as Irish people and members of the Green Party to demonstrate our solidarity with those who are fighting for justice and fair play in Ireland and against the actions of the energy multinationals like Shell. Shell have done similar things in Nigeria, where they have used economic and political pressure to silence those whose lands are being destroyed by their actions, and now they are doing something similar in Ireland. We call upon the Irish government to support the fair and just demands of the Rossport Five, and for the onshore pipeline to be removed from County Mayo.''

Also last week, Shell E&P Ireland announced it would delay laying the pipeline until next year. The company said that the suspension would ''allow for a period of discussion and dialogue.''

Shell To Sea reports Dr Mark Garavan, spokesman for the five men in prison and the Shell to Sea campaign, called on the firm to ''use this pause to reconfigure the entire project, make it safer and better with an offshore terminal, and listen to the people of Mayo.''

Garavan also said while Shell remained committed to building the pipeline, the men (Rossport 5) could not purge their contempt. “The men are not there of their own volition: Shell got the injunction, Shell put them in prison, and it’s Shell that have got to get them out. The men are saying they feel the offshore suspension called by Shell should be seized on for a root and branch review of the whole project,” he said. “Shell should prioritize the safety issues people have over the pipeline, and Minister Dempsey should assist on this point.”

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald described Shell's announcement as "a red-herring". "What people are most concerned about is the on-shore operation and a pipeline which will pose a real danger to the local community in Rossport. In actual fact campaigners are arguing that the pipeline should be based at sea, so Shell are not facilitating local people in any way by this latest announcement.”

"Shell has said that they have suspended the work in order to allow for a period of discussion and dialogue. If they are genuine about meaningful dialogue, then they will seize the initiative and lift the injunction against the men in Clover Hill prison. These men have spent too long in prison already because of their honorable stance on this issue."

Sign a petition demanding the release of these men at
Sources: London Irish Green Group Irish Republican News, Ireland On Line, Shell To Sea, Socialist World, An Phoblacht