Saturday, September 24, 2005


Heres a good press release i put out a couple of weeks ago outlining DUP/Loyaist paramilitary links:

UVF band to attend DUP function

For Immediate Release: 6/9/2005

Ballymoney Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay has called upon DUP Cllr Mervyn Storey to use his influence to prevent bands with loyalist paramilitary links marching at an official DUP march in Rathfriland on September 16th.

Cllr McKay said:

“At the last council meeting the DUP said that they condemned all sectarian attacks and those who commit them. The DUP parade in Rathfriland will be a litmus test as to whether or not they can follow through on their words.

“It has come to my attention that many of the bands attending this official DUP function have links to both the UDA and UVF. The most clear example of this is the Freeman Memorial Band from Coleraine. This band is named after Geoffrey Freeman, a UVF member who blew himself up in 1975, and always carries the flags of the UVF when marching.

“I am calling on the DUP in Ballymoney to follow through with the commitment they made to tackle sectarianism and prevent UDA and UVF bands from participating in an official DUP function. This will be a litmus test for the DUP’s real attitude toward the loyalist paramilitaries. If they allow such bands to attend one of their own party functions then there will be no doubt whatsoever that the party has clear links with the UDA and UVF.” ENDS

* A list of the bands attending the parade can be accessed by contacting the Parades Commission.

** Geoffrey Freeman died on 2nd October 1975. I’m sure that local sources in Coleraine (or even band members) would be able to confirm that this is who the band is named after.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a national talk show host, author and columnist, says a Utah radio station has canceled his national talk show after he invited evacuees from Hurricane Katrina to settle in Utah.

Boteach, best known for his book "Kosher Sex," claims that higher ups at KUTR-AM 820 — a station owned by a subsidiary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — was unhappy over his invitation to New Oreleans evacuees because many of them are poor and black. "I guess the station decided promoting racial integration isn't what they're about," the New Jersey-based Boteach told the Forward.

"This is bigotry pure and simple. The station simply didn't want me telling black people to move to Utah. To give you an idea, this was the most popular show on the entire station by an order of magnitude, and because I called on people in Utah to welcome black people into their communities, it was immediately canceled," Boteach is quoted as saying on his website.

Station representatives deny the charge of racism.

In Salt Lake City accusations of racism hit a particularly sensitive nerve given that it is the home to American's largest population of Mormons and in light of early church teachings that spoke of black people as inferior and a ban on blacks serving in the Mormon priesthood that wasn't lifted until 1978.

While the rabbi accused the station which is owned by Bonneville International, a subsidiary of a holding company owned by the church of racism, he made clear his charges did not include rank and file Mormons. He said the September 9th broadcast in question received a record number of callers offering assistance to Katrina evacuees. The rabbi noted in an interview with the Forward that the Mormon "rank and file" were not racist: "I will not superimpose racial bigotry of Bonneville onto the Mormon laity who responded on my show."

During the show in question, Boteach said a disaster survivor speculated that perhaps Utah communities feared evacuees coming into their neighborhoods. Boteach said he asked the man if he'd like to stay in Utah, and the man responded in the affirmative and said "but how?” Suddenly the phones rang off the hook with callers who wanted to help, to put the evacuees up in their homes, give them tickets to Saturday's BYU football game," Boteach said. Boteach, who was to be in Utah a few days, decided on the air that while he was there, he wanted to bring together evacuees with his listeners to address racial intolerance and to help the evacuees find permanent housing in Utah. "I said 'Forget me, forget my speaking event (an earlier scheduled even in the state), we're changing it. We'll bring evacuees from Camp Williams to meet all you beautiful people in Utah.' It was just an outpouring of love."

It is the announcement of that event that Boteach believes got his show canned.

Boteach is hardly a leftie. According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, the politically conservative Boteach describes himself as "probably the rabbi in the United States closest to the Mormon Church." Sources: Daily Herald (Utah), Forward, NewsMax,, Salt Lake Tribune


From Belief Net comes the following explanation of the events described above by Rabbi Boteach.

Our Brother’s Keeper

Why did a Mormon-owned radio station fire me when I used my show to help poor, black Katrina survivors put down roots in Utah?

I am a white man, but I have always had a special relationship with the black community. From the time I appointed the first ever African-American president of a major Jewish organization–Oxford Rhodes scholar Cory Booker (who today is one of America’s premiere young politicians–to becoming the first white radio host on America’s oldest black radio station, I have always felt an affinity and kinship with my African-American brothers and sisters.

To be sure, I possess no bleeding heart, and with my many conservative political positions, I am certainly no liberal. Rather, my affinity with the black community stems from my being a man of faith. My foremost belief is that we are all G-d’s children, that we are all equally loved by our Father in heaven, that every human life is of infinite value, and that the best demonstration of that fact is to look at every human being as our brother and sister, however different.
Indeed, I fervently believe that most people of faith—whatever their faith tradition—affirm the infinite preciousness of all human life. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I have glimpsed reactions from self-professed people of faith that call this assumption into question.

Six weeks ago, I drove my children through the broken and crumbling African-American neighborhoods of east New Orleans in search of the Chalmette battlefield where on Jan. 8, 1815, Andrew Jackson delivered the greatest blow that the Americans ever inflicted upon the British. Seeing these communities was sobering but nothing new. I had seen similar poverty in black neighborhoods all across America. These blighted neighborhoods condemned many of their residents to a life bereft of dignity. The white response to the distress of black neighborhoods is often not one of concern, but one of fear and denial. They are simply terrified of walking or even driving through them. Or they pretend that such inequality no longer exists.

Hurricane Katrina, of course, inundated these poor, black neighborhoods and awakened many white Americans to the plight of the people who lived in them. Seeing black Americans living on freeways and struggling to survive, because many had no means by which to evacuate the city, galvanized white concern more than at any other time since the civil-rights movement. And while I do not believe that the federal government intentionally stalled rescue efforts because most of the trapped Orleanians were black, there is no question that if Beverly Hills had been hit by a similar catastrophe, the response would have been much quicker and more comprehensive.

It was for this reason that I decided to use my daily radio show on KUTR, a Mormon-owned station in Salt Lake City to try to assist African-American evacuees who had been moved to Camp Williams, in Bluffdale, Utah, in finding permanent local housing. I hosted as a guest on my show Zachary Smith, whose home was decimated by Hurricane Katrina. He and his family lived on Interstate 10 for four days before being evacuated with approximately 1,000 other, mostly African-American, survivors. Zachary indicated that although he and the other evacuees had been treated with great warmth by the Utah authorities, he was aggravated by the 10:30 p.m. curfew, and said that the curfew made the evacuees feel like they were “in prison.” Could it be that the curfew had something to do with the overwhelmingly white population of Utah feeling uncomfortable with African-American faces, roaming their streets at night, Zachary wondered? Were they truly welcome?

I assured Zachary that the mostly Mormon families of Utah were warm and charitable people, incredibly generous, without a prejudiced bone in their bodies. In an effort to find permanent accommodation for the many homeless families, I asked Zachary whether some of the African-American families might wish to stay permanently in Utah rather than return to New Orleans. He indicated that many of the families would love to exercise that option, should they be welcomed into the state.

My response was to appeal to my listeners’ sense of humanity and show that, far from the people of Utah harboring any bigotry, they would rise to the occasion and welcome these needy African-American families to Utah to remain permanently as their neighbors, if the evacuees so chose. I organized and invited my listeners to an event at the Salt Lake City Marriot where refugee families from Camp Williams could meet my mostly white, Mormon and Christian listeners, who could welcome the evacuees into their communities and help them find homes.

I asked my listeners to attend the gathering, to call the program to invite evacuees to their own homes, and to volunteer their time to show the displaced families local neighborhoods so that the evacuees could decide whether they would like to permanently relocate. The response was overwhelmingly positive: The station’s phones rang off the hook. Although one listener called in and said that he did not want poor, black families moving into his neighborhood because they were dirty and kept their own neighborhoods slovenly, every other caller condemned this bigotry and offered to help the families find permanent homes in Utah.

One woman invited Zachary and his family to her home for a barbeque. Another Mormon woman offered to take Zachary and his family to a Brigham Young University football game the next day, and made good on her promise. Most important, a real estate agent, who said she was an expert at getting through the red tape necessary to be domiciled in Utah, said she would volunteer her time to assist the families in the housing process.

The show generated more phone calls than any in my program’s history, and many people said they would be attending my event on Wednesday night, at which the evacuee families of Fort Williams would meet the mostly Mormon families of Utah, and for which I would be flying in to Utah.

What happened next shocked me to my core. Rod Arquette, Salt Lake Radio Group’s vice president for news and programming, sent me an e-mail message on the Jewish Sabbath (I retrieved it when the Sabbath concluded) ordering me not to come to Utah. He further left an aggressive message on my answering machine, saying that although he understood that I could not speak on the telephone on the Sabbath, he wanted me to know that under no circumstances was I to come to Utah. After the Sabbath concluded, he told me by phone that my radio show was being cancelled, saying that I had organized an event for the refugee families on Wednesday without the station’s prior approval.

I was dumbstruck. How could a station cancel its most popular show simply because the host tried to use the airwaves to help poor, black families who had lost everything in Hurricane Katrina to find a permanent home? And how could a church-owned broadcaster like Bonneville take this decision in light of how much the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had admirably done to redress its refusal to allow blacks into the priesthood until 1978?

Just a few days before, Arquette had sent a new contract to my agent saying that he considered me one of the station’s most vital assets. Two weeks earlier, after I had attempted to stop doing my program on KUTR because of a new TV show that I was to host for The Learning Channel, Arquette refused to allow me to do so, saying that I was one of the most interesting voices he had ever heard on the air. Was he now canning the show because I had tried to assist black people live in white Utah? And even if Bonneville wanted to end the show, could the company not have waited three more days so that we could do an event that helped homeless people find a home?

In the past few days, I have heard radio hosts, even in the New York area where I live, react viscerally to the suggestion that low-income African-American families fleeing from Katrina be granted permanent housing in the white, middle-class neighborhoods to which they have been evacuated. Indeed, white flight from black families moving into their neighborhoods is a well-known and unfortunate phenomenon. I therefore wanted to use my radio program to urge my listeners to rise to the moral high ground, look beyond skin color, and reach out to their fellow Americans in their hour of greatest need.

To cancel a show because the radio host used his platform to help poor and homeless African-American families relocate permanently to Utah is a tragedy for an otherwise glorious church that does so much to help so many all over the world. I shall continue to be a great admirer of Mormons and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, because I know that the big-hearted and incredibly generous Mormon laity would never support this shameful decision which I shall forever regard as a decision taken by an individual rather than an organization. To be sure, I have no argument with Rod Arquette, and mention him more to absolve the Mormon Church rather than to indict an individual. Still, I write these lines because of the need to fight bigotry and racial prejudice, even if it means sometimes having to be critical of others. The Utahns who, with their actions and their phone calls, demonstrated their belief that regardless of skin color, we are all equally G-d’s children, and are responsible for each other’s welfare, are the real Mormons who embrace the church’s message of love, generosity, and openness.

There is a happy ending to this story. Hundreds of listeners, upon hearing the radio show had been cancelled, rallied to keep the event for the evacuees on, as planned. They came with me to Camp Williams, just outside Salt Lake City, met with the many evacuees, extended a personal invitation for them to join us, and this special event is scheduled to go ahead, G-d willing, on September 14, at 7 p.m. Many of evacuees will be telling their stories, and local leaders are expected to attend.

*************Ed Note: Orthadox Jews, who do not pronounce the name of God, use G-D to in place of the word God. This always puzzled this Jew a bit, since”God” is not a Jewish name of God. Oh well…



"That's the perception," said David Ervine of the PUP commenting on the list of imagined grievances cited to justify last week's orgy of unionist violence. And it's perception that matters.

For over a week unionist politicians, commentators and the media have sought to explain away unionist violence in terms of a series of underlying grievances. This journey of the imagination has been embarked upon as a means of overcoming a number of difficulties arising out of the widely publicised scenes of sectarian unionist mobs rampaging through the streets.

Re-routing the Orange Order away from nationalist residential areas can only represent a threat to unionist culture and heritage if that culture is based solely upon supremacist anti-Catholic sectarianism, but such an analysis unionists deny.

The idea that re-routing a march 125 yards represents a real threat to unionist culture is so utterly unbelievable and the scenes of unionist violence that followed so disproportional, that it threatened to expose them to ridicule. Using this fig leaf to undermine political progress and the peace would soon wear thin so an alternative explanation for the violence was urgently needed.

UUP leader Reg Empey was one of the first to set the tone. The source of unionist violence was not just the Whiterock parade he argued, but was "much more deep-seated than many are perhaps prepared to accept". Unionist communities were suffering "more deprivation, more educational under-achievement and greater unemployment than before", said Empey.

Empey might have led the charge but there were plenty eager to follow. Not least of these was Dublin Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern. During an interview with RTÉ radio Ahern reinforced unionist claims that recent violence had been caused by economic deprivation. Ahern was prepared to go even further than Reg Empey by stating that somehow unionists were worse off than nationalists. "The further you get down to the core issues, issues of alienation, endemic unemployment in loyalist areas, which is not as clear cut as in nationalist areas where perhaps the ability to advance individuals because of education has not been the same in loyalist areas," he said.

And he went on: "I think the two governments, particularly from the economic point of view, have to work harder in order that the benefits of the Peace Process from an economic and social point of view are spread evenly over the North of Ireland."

Ahern's assertion flies in the face of a raft of recently published official British Government statistics and reports that have consistently exposed higher and more widespread levels of economic deprivation within nationalists areas across the North.

Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, the media maintained this economic justification argument. "While some republican districts suffer the highest levels of deprivation in Western Europe, Protestant areas are also increasingly deprived. Over the past decade, once thriving areas like the Lower Shankill in Belfast, have become virtual ghost towns, writes Colm Heatley of the Sunday Business Post.

No mention of years of unionist paramilitary feuding on the Shankill that forced many families to flee or the upward mobility that allowed many Protestant families to move to wealthier suburbs. But the fact that decline in the Shankill has more to do with dynamics within the unionist community is a less expedient argument for rejectionist unionism than peddling the myth that nationalists are somehow getting it all.

And the myths are rife. "The British Government has ordered the police not to touch Catholics," Jimmy Creighton a community worker in the Shankill told the media.

Hilariously, for PUP member Jim McDonald it was all a matter of parking tickets. "There is a great deal of discontent over parking tickets and a general feeling that republicans are being favoured by the PSNI traffic branch," reported Liam Clarke of the Sunday Times.

"Go and look up the Falls and the Springfield Road," says McDonald. "The cars are parked up all over the place, but the police do nothing about it." He also claims a series of local burglaries have been ignored because the culprits were not nationalists.

The DUP's Nigel Dodds pointed to political rather than economic motivations. "The sense of deep grievance at the injustice suffered by the unionist people is palpable on the streets, the catalyst for recent events has been the issue of Orange parades. But it would be highly reckless of the British Government to pretend that such issues such as the Seán Kelly release, the disbandment of the RIR Home Battalions, the obscene haste to demolish watchtowers, impending legislation on on-the-runs and other such issues were not at the heart of unionist outrage," said Dodds.

"The unionist community has no confidence in the political process," said DUP leader Ian Paisley emerging from a meeting with British Secretary of State Peter Hain. "They have seen that the approach of the [British] government has not been even handed. There will be no political progress whatsoever until the government is seen to treat unionists with equality and respect," said Paisley.

"Is it any wonder that unionists are so frustrated and angry?" asked the DUP's Willie McCrea. "It is time the government faced up to the climate of appeasement they have created. When was the last time the government attempted to address issues of discrimination, deprivation and inequality in the unionist community.

"After a summer when unionist culture has been suppressed, the destruction of security, the lack of balance in public appointments, the release of IRA murderers and the uncovering of secret plans to put terrorists into the police it is no wonder that confidence within the unionist community is at a low ebb," said McCrea.

And in a way David Ervine is correct, perception can be everything. When the ordinary person on the Shankill tells the media that republicans are getting everything and nationalists are taking their houses and jobs they're not liars. It is truly what they believe. And how could they believe otherwise when their political leaders constantly peddle such nonsense to secure their own anti-Good Friday Agreement agenda?

As Sinn Féin has repeatedly pointed out what we are witnessing is not a failure in unionist leadership but the consequences of negative leadership. Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has pointed out that the recent historic initiative by the IRA has "created an unprecedented sense of optimism and expectation that renewed progress can be made towards a lasting peace. Except that is within the leadership of unionism. Their response has been negative, cynical and backward looking. Last week this negativity manifested itself in widespread violence orchestrated by unionist paramilitaries clearly designed to undermine progress and throw the Peace Process into crisis.

"Disgracefully unionist leaders have compounded this dangerous situation with inflammatory and totally inaccurate statements. In particular they have made wholly unfounded claims that the current loyalist violence stems from inequality and growing disadvantage in loyalist areas. In fact all of the evidence shows that nationalists continue to suffer the effects of ingrained and institutionalised inequality and disadvantage.

"The reality is that the unease and instability in unionist communities stems from a political vacuum created by unionist politicians and now filled by unionist paramilitary violence", said McGuinness.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Nazi Skinheads Heading To Georgia

Nazi skinheads are heading to Georgia to a white power concert known as Hammerfest. According to One People’s Project Hammerfest 05 appears to be scheduled to take place in Temple, Georgia which is just over 43 miles from Atlanta and has a population of 5,056.

It appears the exact location will be the Georgia Peach Museum and Restaurant at 4108 Buchanan Hwy., which is run by a convicted sex offender named Patrick Lanzo. One People’s Project reports, “A number of Klan rallies have been held here in the past. One such rally was the Aryan Unity Rally on May 18, 2002. He has also held Hammerfest here before, but according to one website, Lanzo once hired a black stripper for the event, and it didn’t go over well, prompting the Hammerskins to look for other venues. This will be the first time since then Hammerfest has returned. “

The racist “concert” and conclave is scheduled for October 1 and 2 and will feature a number of nazi bands and a speech by Tom Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance.

One People’s Project points out, “In years prior, the location of Hammerfest had been kept secret in order to prevent the show from being shut down or countered by protests. In fact, Hammerfest 2005 had been promoted as being in a “secret location” in Atlanta. This is the first time the location had been announced so publicly, and it is not known if the organizers approve of the sign. Last weekend there was some trucks seen there bringing in equipment to build the stage.”

The ADL describes the Hammerskin Nation, a sponsor as, “the most violent and best-organized neo-Nazi skinhead group in the United States.”

A demonstration was already planned by the NAACP at the Georgia Peach Museum for October 1 in response to numerous racist signs found in the joint. If it is still on and you happen to be in the Atlanta area you might want to join in.

Hammerfest is one of the two major racist skinhead concerts of the year. The other, AryanFest, which is sponsored by the Volksfront, a Portland-based white supremacist group, was last held a few weeks ago in the Oregon Columbia River Gorge town of Cascade Locks. Besides music, the event featured a speech by Idaho lawyer Edgar Steele, the attorney for Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler, who died bankrupt in 2004 after losing a $6.3 million lawsuit. Sources: One People’s Project, Stormfront White Nationailt Community, News Review (Roseburg, OR), ADL

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Here we go again. My sister is coming to town for a visit and the Oread Daily will shut down until one week from today.

I may post something on the blog (for example, the article just below), but regular publication will resume next Wednesday...



British Direct Ruler Peter Hain today said unionist paramilitaries will not be allowed to terrorise their own communities. In response to rioting in unionist areas, he warned paramilitaries they faced the full force of the law if they did not abandon violence.

He said: "The choice for loyalist paramilitaries is clear: play the political role that you claim as your motive, or face the rigour of the law as the Mafia organisations into which you seem to be degenerated.

Recent rioting, "as well as wasting public money" had shaken international confidence in the North he said.

But Mr Hain seemed to suggest that unionist violence was a response to deprivation instead of sectarianism. He then announced a new plan to co-ordinate efforts in loyalist areas, involving intensive talks with elected representatives and civil leaders from the Protestant community.

Responding to Mr Hain's remarks, Sinn Féin Assembly member for South Belfast Alex Maskey said:

"Of course there is deep disadvantage across the north of Ireland, including in some loyalist communities Sinn Fein has consistently argued that discrimination and deprivation needs to be energetically tackled wherever it occurs.

"But I cannot see how deprivation can be tackled by forcing a sectarian parade along the nationalist Springfield Road. Last weeks violence was not about deprivation it was about a failure to force a sectarian Orange march through a Catholic area.

"The reality is that there is a failure of leadership within unionism. The DUP and the UUP ignore the real needs of their constituents and instead focus on out-dated expressions of sectarian triumphalism. If unionist communities are voiceless then they really need to look at the quality and performance of those they have elected to represent them.

"Sinn Fein will continue to demand action to tackle inequality and disadvantage whether it occurs on the Shankill, the Falls or elsewhere", he said.

Several days of violent rioting erupted in Belfast with unionist and Orange Order members attacked the PSNI with petrol bombs, blast bombs and other missiles. Dozens of vehicles were also hijacked and set on fire.

More than 60 PSNI and civilians were injured in the riots. Last week, unionists blockaded roads in Belfast causing severe traffic disruption during rush hour.


This from an OD reader:

Please don't use "Gitmo," a nasty, male chauvinist, colonialist slang contraction that is disrespectful of the significance of Guantanamo Bay to the Cubans (as in "Guantanamera," remember)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


The government of Swaziland today warned democracy advocates that a planned march to protest the new constitution would be met with force. Political observers feel that if the planned march to deliver a petition to King Mswati next month is successful, it could signal a resurgence of pro-democracy forces.

Swaziland Federation of Labor (SFTU) secretary general Jan Sithole said the drafting of a fresh constitution that included "all of civil society", rather than a palace-controlled process, was among the demands of the protesters.

Swazi Prime Minister, Themba Dlamini, has implored members of the police force to ‘protect’ the constitution in the event of protest. He said he has been going around telling members of the police force to make sure that they should protect the constitution. He told the Times of Swaziland that the king, himself and government were going to protect the constitution no matter what.

The “parliament” of Swaziland was told not long ago by a delegation representing civic organizations in Swaziland the new constitution produced for their country places too much power in the hands of the Swazi king and denies basic rights to the Swazi citizenry. Addressing the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, members of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organizations said that the constitutional process was flawed and undemocratic itself, as it denied submissions from political parties and interest groups. "The constitution-making process has been unilaterally governed by, not even the government, but the king," a delegate told the committee, referring to the country's King Mswati III, crowned in 1986.

Under the new constitution, said the delegation, a citizen cannot seek redress in court if the king's name is mentioned in legal proceedings, because of the legal immunity the king enjoys.

Further, the king can "withhold his assent" on bills passed in parliament, preventing them being passed into law using in what effectively amounts to a power of veto over all legislation, the portfolio committee heard.

The king is also empowered by the new constitution to disband the 104-seat (70 seats in the assembly and 30 in a senate, with four seats reserved for women) parliament, in which retains a quota of a total of 30 appointees.

The rule of law in Swaziland is also regularly flouted, said the delegation, citing the example of the resignation en masse of appeal court judges after a ruling they made was ignored.

And Swaziland's Human Rights Commission cannot investigate charges against the king or any member of the Swazi royal family, the delegation said.

BuaNews says that Bishop Meshack Mabuza of the Anglican church of Swaziland, who led the delegation, also cited the "profligate spending" of the Swazi government and/or monarchy as fiscal indiscipline, exemplified by government's intentions to purchase a private jet for the king worth hundreds of millions of rands.

This new, undemocratic constitution, according to the delegation, comes against a background where more than four people in 10 is HIV-positive, where 69 percent of the population lives on less than US$1 (R6) a day, and where unemployment is estimated at 50 percent.

The Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organizations comprises the Federation of Swaziland Employers and the Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Swaziland Business Community, the Federation of Trade Unions, the Federation of Labor, the Church, the Law Society of Swaziland,, the National Association of teachers, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Swaziland chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa as well as women's groups and non-governmental organizations. Sources: BuaNews (Tshwane), The Times of Swaziland, IRIN


Some folks, including the Humane Society of the United States, are pretty upset with the Red Lobster restaurant chain and its Orlando-based parent company Darden Restaurants. They’re saying the Canadian fishermen who provide their food club baby seals to death.

Last spring, the Canadian government allowed about 320,000 young seals to be killed on March 29 to "ensure the health" of its booming seal population. The killing, an annual event in Newfoundland, prompted the 8 million-member Humane Society of the United States, a Washington, D.C.-based group dedicated to animal protection, to call for the boycott of all Canadian seafood by U.S. companies.

The Humane Society's latest initiative centers on Darden Restaurants Inc.'s Sept. 21 shareholders meeting. It is designed to focus attention on the fact that Darden refuses to boycott Canadian seafood, even though the restaurant company says it isn't involved in the hunt, doesn't sell seal meat or products and has no plans to ever sell seal products.

While a spokesperson for Darden, Jim DeSimone says representatives of his company have met with Canadian officials to express their opposition to the hunt, animal rights groups say that is hardly enough. They contend Darden should follow the example of other companies such as Legal Sea Foods, Down East Seafood, Whole Foods Markets, Wild Oats Markets, Original Fish and Spectrum Organics and boycott all Canadian seafood. The Canadian fishing industry exports an estimated $3 billion worth of seafood to the United States each year.

Protests have occurred this week in Orlando at Red Lobster.

On Sept. 21, the day of Darden's shareholder meeting at the Gaylord Palms hotel, the Humane Society plans for a supportive Darden shareholder to speak about the issue.

Orlando-base Darden is the largest casual dining company in the world and its Red Lobster concept operates 670 restaurants in North America and employs more than 63,000 people. The chain served more than 141 million guests in fiscal 2005 (ending May 29, 2005) and enjoyed total sales of $2.4 billion.

Red Lobster's not the only target of the protest. Costco, Long John Silver, Outback, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods are also included on the list of companies.

The Humane Society provides these Fast Facts about Canada's Seal Hunt:

It's a cruel slaughter.

• Fully 95% of the harp seals killed over the past five years have been under three months of age. At the time of slaughter, many of these defenseless pups had not yet eaten their first solid food or taken their first swim—they literally had no escape from the "hunters."

• Video evidence clearly shows sealers routinely dragging conscious pups across the ice with boathooks, shooting seals and leaving them to suffer in agony, and even skinning seals alive.

• In 2001, an independent team of veterinary experts studied Canada's commercial seal hunt. Their report concluded that in 42% of the cases they examined, the seal did not show enough evidence of cranial injury to even guarantee unconsciousness at the time of skinning.

It's a reckless cull.

• Over the past three years, nearly a million seal pups have been slaughtered for their fur.

• The last time sealers killed this many seals—in the 1950s and '60s—close to two-thirds of the harp seal population was wiped out.

• Scientists around the world have condemned the Canadian government's management plan for harp seals as reckless, unsustainable, and irresponsible.

The seal hunt brings in very little money.

• Even in Newfoundland, where 90% of sealers live, income from sealing accounts for less than one-tenth of 1% of the province's economy.

• Sealers are fishermen who engage in several fisheries throughout the year, and sealing revenues account for only about one twentieth of their total incomes.

Killing seals may harm fish stocks.

• About 3% of a harp seal's diet consists of commercially fished cod. However, harp seals also consume many significant predators of cod, including squid. Removing harp seals may mean an increase in cod predators.

• The Canadian government clearly states there is no evidence that killing harp seals will help fish stocks recover, and scientists have expressed concerns that culling seals may in fact impede the recovery of ground fish stocks.

If you oppose the seal hunt, you're in good company.

• Polling shows 85% of Canadians believe seals under one year of age should be protected from hunting (Angus-Reid, 1997).

• In European Union countries where polling has been conducted—the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Netherlands—close to 80% of people who are aware of the Canadian seal hunt oppose it (MORI, 2002).

• Polling shows 79% of American voters oppose the Canadian seal hunt (Penn, Schoen & Berland, 2002).

Take Action HERE
Sources: The Humane Society of the United States, Orlando Business Journal, WKMG (Florida)


"We felt institutionalized. It's like a prison," said Anthony Stafford, 17, a senior who helped organize a demonstration yesterday at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. Students say new metal detectors and lunch lockdowns make them feel like jailbirds.

New metal detectors were put in after what school officials said was a rash of weapons related incidents last year.

Students said the detectors delayed them from getting into the school, and a new rule keeping students inside at lunch caused dangerous overcrowding in the cafeteria.

Cecily Severe, 17, a senior, told the Daily News the three metal detectors can't accommodate the crowds and students are missing part of their first morning classes because of the logjam. "We need to come a half hour early just to get to class on time," she said. The student body numbers more than 4,600.

"The line for the girls was 200 yards long," said Fernando Reyes, 17, a senior. "If you got metal in your pockets they make you go to the back of the line."

Another student, Marleesa Lee, 17, a junior, told the Times, "They're treating us like prisoners.” She complained that the school had emphasized security at the expense of academics. "They have money for metal detectors, but not for books."

Saira Asif, 15, a junior, carried a sign that read, "This is school, not a jail."

At least 1,500 students organized by the group "Sistas and Brothers United" marched two miles to the Region 1 superintendent’s office where some protestors met with officials. Administrators met for about an hour with some of the students who had organized the protest and promised to install more metal detectors to speed up the lines. The students then went back to their classes.

The three-hour protest snarled traffic on streets between the school and the department's offices in Fordham Plaza.

The leaders of the protest promised to continue if some of their demands were not met. "They're going to compromise," José David, 17, who met with administrators, told the Times. "It's a process. We'll see what happens over the next couple days."

The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy reports ironically that a recent analysis by the National Crime Victimization Survey has shown that putting police officers in schools does not stem violence. In fact, the opposite seems true: Schools using security measures such as law enforcement agents and surveillance cameras were associated with increased reports of school violence and disorder, while schools relying on more participatory efforts to educate youth on school rules and appropriate conduct were associated with less reported school crime. Sources:, New York Times, News 12 (Bronx), New York Daily News, Drum Major Institute for Public Policy


Cost of War Day
Saturday September 24, 2005
Lawrence, Kansas

Cost in American Lives - 1900 and rising
Cost in Iraqi Lives - 28,154 (at least)
U.S. wounded - 14,265
Cost in Dollars - $195,525,239,453 and rising

It's Time To Take A Stand
11:00 gather at Buford Watson Park
(7th and Kentucky)
for a March to
South Park Gazebo at noon
(12th and Massachusetts)

Rally, Music, Speeches, Art, Petitions

Please, come join us!

International Day of Solidarity with Haiti
September Thirtieth Foundation
Commemoration September 30, 2005

Let us all come together to denounce and condemn the dictatorship and
the U.S./U.N. repression against the poor in Haiti.

On September 30, 1991 a democratic experiment which had already begun to bear fruit, was drowned in blood by the traditional enemies of the Haitian people. More than 5,000 dead in 3 years. Then on February 29, 2004, they re-enacted this horror. The results are catastrophic: more than 13,000 dead in 18 months - an average of 720 killed every month, 24 every day, out of a population of 8,000,000 inhabitants.

After acts of kidnapping, the Haitian police, heavily militarized and reinforced by UN occupation forces, financed and equipped by the US, French and Canadian governments through their embassies in Haiti, are distributing machetes to death squads to continue the carnage among the poor civilian population. Those who demand the return of democracy, those who demand the return of the President voted into office by the people, are condemned to die, cut into pieces and their bodies left to be eaten by dogs - to serve as an example, as was the case with Charlemagne Peralte, assassinated by United States Marines (during the first US occupation of Haiti 1915-34), his body exposed on a door in a public square.

Ethnic cleansing in Rwanda … war against the poor or social cleansing in Haiti. To put a stop to this "Black Holocaust" the September 30th Foundation is calling out to all the citizens of the world who love freedom and justice, to do the following:

Make September 30, 2005 an international day of solidarity with the Haitian people.
Organize activities in the major cities of the world on Friday, September 30, 2005, denouncing the dictatorship and the repression in Haiti.
Denounce and condemn the dictatorship and the US/UN repression in Haiti.
Put in place an International Coalition to work for the return of democracy in Haiti, and for the return of the President elected by the people.
Establish a fund, administered by the September 30th Foundation, to support the victims of the repression in Haiti.
Sponsors: Fanmi Lavalas, Haitian Initiative for Democracy, Haiti Action Committee, Fondasyon Mapou, Haitian Lawyers Leadership, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti....Other sponsors to be added.

September 30, 1991 - September 30, 2005
Already 14 years since the coup d'etat of 1991


Phone: 347-262-1818 or 301-537-8162.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Semi-Slave Conditions for Foreign Workers in Dubai

A main thoroughfare in Dubai was blocked by hundreds of construction workers, mostly from India and Pakistan, today. Traffic at rush hour was brought to halt, by workers who were protesting over their missing salaries for the months as far back as May and the fact that they did not have clean drinking water or water in the bathrooms of the camp in which they were housed.

Yesterday dozens of hungry workers gathered outside the Labor Ministry said their employer had not paid them for five months. Thirty-seven Indian, Nepalese, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men all work for a Saudi-owned construction company.

“We ran out of money months ago,” one Nepalese worker, Bisnu Bahadur, told Gulf News, “and sometimes we borrow from friends. If they have no money, we sleep hungry.” Bahadur said the men were falling ill out of hunger and because they had no clean drinking water. “Water at the labor camp is salty. We cannot wash,” he said.

The men were unable to even file a complaint with the Labor Ministry because they didn’t have the money necessary to cover the costs.

This is not the first time that these expat workers have protested against their working conditions. Hundred of workers spontaneously rushed onto the same main Dubai street, Shaikh Zayed Road last November to protest their company's apathy after a fire ravaged their compound in the camp.

A tremendous real estate boom which is underway in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Dubai has brought in large numbers of foreign workers to do the work. Some 10 million foreign workers are employed in the country. Dozens of skyscrapers are going up thanks to the legions of workers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Men without a formal education and with little hope for employment back home come to the Gulf to earn 200 dollars US a month to feed and clothe their families. Usually, half of their salaries goes for their own meager survival—rice, tea, sugar—in cramped quarters where six live to a room.

According to AsiaNews many are held in “quasi-slave conditions.”

Unlike skilled Western expats in Dubai who live and play in comfort, Asian workers are banned from fancy stores, the new golf courses and the fashionable underwater restaurants. Instead, they have to put up working at 50 degrees Celsius, going home to see their families only once every two years, and getting injured in frequent work-related accidents.

Asian workers have no voice and no rights. Trades unions are banned. Workers who have staged protests in the past about their poor conditions have drawn swift crackdowns by police. ‘Troublemakers’ are rapidly deported.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced the forced-labor conditions in which many migrant workers find themselves throughout the UAE. Many suffer discrimination and abuse. Women, who come in huge numbers as maids and hotel workers, are at particular risk of violence and sexual assault.

In a letter to the World Bank president, HRW lamented that “workers are often afraid to demand unpaid wages, protest [against] poor conditions, or seek legal recourse for abuses.” The letter fell on deaf ears.

As to those maids, Labor ministry officials say they know that recruitment agencies are abusing foreign housemaids they bring into the country to work, but claim the ministry is powerless to oversee their activities.

Asked by Gulf News about complaints from housemaids that agencies keep them in tiny attics, beat them and give them very little to eat before delivering them to their sponsor, an official from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs said he was aware of what was happening.

“Yes, hundreds of housemaids are mistreated by the agencies, and we know that,” he said. “But we can’t inspect them and go inside to find out what is going on. Even the Interior Ministry cannot do that. The agencies are taking advantage of this.”

A Gulf News reporter visited four recruitment agencies in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman, posing as a potential employer. In one agency about 25 housemaids of different nationalities were crowded into a small room above the office. They crouched silently on the floor.

“Take one,” the woman at the agency said. Gulf News saw a lady at one agency slap one of the housemaids who had been returned by a dissatisfied client. The maid had neither done nor said anything before she was slapped in the face.

Migrant News Monitor reports an Indonesian housemaid named Hini, now working for a family in Sharjah, told them the previous housewife who employed her in Abu Dhabi forced her to wear a veil day and night in the house because she was young and pretty. When the housewife found her sleeping without a headscarf, she said, “She kicked me and woke me up, asking me to cover my hair while sleeping.

"I cried a lot and I asked them to send me back to the agency, who also mistreated me and they used to beat me until I found another sponsor who treated me well.” She said back at the agency in Dubai dozens of maids were kept in a small room.

Maria, another housemaid at another agency in Sharjah, said she and 20 other housemaids were kept in a small attic above the agency.

A woman who runs a labour recruitment agency in Sharjah told Gulf News she kept the housemaids in an attic at the agency while they were awaiting deportation or changes in their visas.

The number of foreign housemaids in the UAE is estimated at 300,000. They represent 20 per cent of the workforce. However, this number is expected to rise to 800,000 by 2010, according to figures released by Dubai Municipality two years ago.

Big companies, including many Western companies who employ these workers, defend these conditions saying that workers have come to the UAE voluntarily. Sources: Gulf News (UAE), AKI (Italy), Asia News, Migrant News Monitor

AMFA Strike


AMFA Members at NWA are now on strike and ask all working people to support their struggle. This fight is not just about AMFA members, it’s also about the labor movement in this country. If NWA is successful in breaking AMFA at NWA they will have effectively rewritten the book on how to bust a union. All other unionized groups in this country will be in danger.

See the information below for ways you can support the AMFA members on Strike against Northwest Airlines.

DO NOT Fly on Northwest Airlines
NWA Strike Committee Account

AMFA National has set up an account for the purpose of supporting the Strike efforts at NWA.

All monies donated to this account shall be disbursed at the direction of the NWA Strike Committee. The purpose of this account is to support the efforts of the NWA people on the picket lines. Any funds not disbursed prior to the end of the strike will be held in trust and used to support any future strike efforts.

Please send donations to support the strike efforts at NWA, to the following address:

AMFA National
Attn: NWA Strike Committee
67 Water Street, Suite 208A
Laconia, NH 03246


From Labor Notes (Sept.2005)

Northwest Mechanics Strike Against Deep Pay Cuts, Outsourcing

Airline unions have made wave after wave of wage, benefit, and pension concessions since September 2001—often under the gun of bankruptcy threats. Now Northwest Airlines is upping the ante, pushing for a business model that copies non-union airlines like JetBlue and demanding to lay off more than half its maintenance workforce.

So when 4,400 mechanics, cleaners, and maintenance workers struck August 20, says Northwest mechanic Eric Yubian, they had no choice. "It's union busting 101. They want to make Northwest an open shop," said Yubian, who works at New York's Laguardia Airport. "If they force this on us, you can bet the rest of the airlines will follow."

Forbes magazine wrote that Northwest (NWA) could "become a template for other big airlines to slash labor costs and move toward profitability."

The strike represents the labor movement's first test since the recent AFL-CIO split and, so far, leaders on both sides are failing spectacularly, refusing to pledge support to the strikers and even encouraging union members to cross the picket lines. Support has been strong in some cities, however, particularly at the Northwest hub in Minneapolis, and in San Francisco and Boston.

The strikers are fighting a proposed 25.7 percent pay cut, layoffs for over half the unit’s workforce, reduced sick pay, reduced vacation/holidays, increased health care costs, a pension freeze, and increased outsourcing to non-union shops.

Said Steve MacFarlane, a 25-year NWA mechanic and assistant national director of the Airline Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), “This has ramifications for the entire labor movement. If we can’t fight back under these kinds of circumstances—we’re finished.”

Yubian said, “The guys believe in what they’re standing for. There might be bad blood between the unions, but this is bigger than that.”

Though AMFA has struggled to get support nationally, strikers have received a good deal of support at the local level. Said Yubian, “Union members are supporting us, even if the union does not.”

Yubian noted that members of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), Machinists (IAM), and Teamsters all showed support for the picket lines. “Gate agents (represented by IAM) dropped off food and water to support the lines, and gave us information about flight delays and maintenance problems. Ramp personnel (also IAM) got us information as well.”

Chuck Schalk, an American Airlines mechanic in TWU Local 562 in New York, walked the line at LaGuardia. “A strike is a strike,” he said. “Corporate America is going after unions in this country, and here’s a union standing up and saying, ‘enough is enough.’ If we don’t support them, we’re just as bad as the bosses.”

TWU members walked the lines in Dallas and other cities. In Detroit, pickets included, among others, members of IAM Local 141, UAW Local 600, and Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice.


Though pickets were spirited and NWA had to cancel 25 percent of its flights on the strike’s first day, AMFA faces an uphill fight.

Since the post-9/11 airline industry meltdown, airline unions have faced a relentless management assault on their wages, benefits, and pensions. Faced with bankruptcy threats, in an increasingly hostile political climate, union after union in the industry has surrendered, taking massive concessions with little talk of fighting back.

“Nine months of negotiations and [management’s] offer hasn’t changed a dime,” said MacFarlane. “I mean, how low can we go here?”

Management planned its anti-strike moves for 14 months. As soon as the strike began, NWA outsourced the bulk of its aircraft maintenance and brought in an estimated 1,400 scabs to do the remaining work. In all, Northwest spent more than $100 million on strike preparations; it is demanding $176 million in concessions from AMFA.


Despite AMFA’s pre-strike calls for solidarity, neither the AFL-CIO nor Change to Win nor other independent unions at Northwest have committed to sympathy strikes or other support.

Questioned about AMFA’s requests for support, AFL-CIO Organizing Director Stewart Acuff attacked the union shortly before the strike as a “renegade, raiding organization” and said AMFA and its more than 10,000 members are “not in the house of labor.”

The Machinists union, which represents gate agents and other ground crew workers at Northwest, holds a grudge against AMFA, which has gained most of its members by decertifying IAM units. Northwest mechanics and cleaners left the IAM for AMFA in 1997.

IAM Vice President Robert Roach has said, “IAM members will not be duped into standing with AMFA.”

Members of the Professional Flight Attendants Association, an independent union at NWA, voted down a sympathy strike. PFAA has stated that it will defend the right of individual workers not to cross, however.

Teamsters spokespeople stated, “Members are free to honor the picket lines, depending on individual locals’ contract language. We’re respecting the Northwest workers, but this is not necessarily a show of support for AMFA.

“To our knowledge, none of our members have crossed the lines.”


Schalk called the IAM’s statements “very disturbing,” saying, “These labor leaders are acting like children. When workers are striking, you don’t cross the lines. We shouldn’t have to remind people about that.”

Some IAM members have not only been crossing the lines, but also taking on AMFA members’ work. “To cross a picket line is bad enough,” said Yubian, “but crossing a picket line to do struck work—you shouldn’t even be in a union.”

In an open letter of support for the strikers, Trent Willis, president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 in San Francisco, made reference to labor’s devastating defeat in the 1981 air traffic controllers strike.

“Have they learned nothing from the devastating defeat of the PATCO strike 24 years ago?” asked Willis. “In 1981, officers of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers’ union (PATCO) were hauled off to jail in handcuffs at the urging of President Reagan. Unions at airports crossed the PATCO picket lines…The tragic result: a union in a key transport industry was broken and all workers have suffered from that defeat since.”

Unlike with PATCO, President George W. Bush has said he will not intervene at Northwest. A White House spokesperson said Bush does not view the strike as presenting “a substantial disruption of interstate commerce.”

Northwest has stated repeatedly that if AMFA refuses concessions, bankruptcy may be unavoidable. However, it appears that, with or without concessions, NWA—which has been running $3.6 billion in operating losses since 2001— is headed for bankruptcy.

MacFarlane said that bankruptcy might not be the worst option. “We don’t think a bankruptcy judge would be any worse than what Northwest is trying to push.

“In bankruptcy court, Northwest would have to prove that they need all these givebacks and, frankly, I’m not sure if they can do it.”

Gitmo Hunger Strike Continues

More than one hundred detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reportedly are on a hunger strike, with 20 of them hospitalized on feeding tubes. So reports Big Sky News.

Others put the number of participants considerably higher.

USA Today reports that London attorney Clive Stafford Smith, who represents about 40 detainees, says 210 prisoners were on hunger strikes Aug. 15, when he last visited the camp. Stafford Smith says the detainees want to be charged or released. Smith says Omar Deghayes a Libyan who has lived in London, told him: "Look, I'm dying a slow death in this place as it is. I don't have any hope of fair treatment, so what have I got to lose?" Smith says prisoners also are protesting the quality of food and water, alleged beatings and the military's alleged mishandling of the Quran. "The military wants to downplay this," he says. "The truth is, these guys are going to die."

Last week the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) condemned the Department of Defense’s (DOD) refusal to provide the families of Guantánamo hunger strikers with information about the prisoners’ health status. To date, the DOD has only confirmed publicly that military doctors are keeping 18 hospitalized prisoners alive through extraordinary force-feeding measures, some via nasoenteric (nasal) tube feeding. The DOD has not disclosed the names of the prisoners to their families, or explained to families whether their relative is likely to suffer long-term physical or psychological injury from the hunger strike.

The CCR says that According to policy guidelines issued by the World Medical Association (WMA), of which the American Medical Association is a member, physicians treating hunger strike participants in prison facilities have a responsibility to inform a prisoner’s family that he is participating in the hunger strike unless the patient specifically prohibits the doctor from doing so.

CCR attorneys say the military doctors treating the Guantánamo hunger strikers should immediately communicate directly with families or through the International Committee of the Red Cross or home country consulate offices.

“In any other hospital context, families would be, and indeed must be, intimately involved in these medical decisions. There is no reason to deny the families of Guantánamo prisoners this right,” stated CCR Attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez. “Hundreds of families who have learned of the severity of the hunger strike are waiting anxiously for any news of their loved one. No national security interest is served by withholding a prisoners’ health status from his parents, wife, or children and making these families suffer. Military physicians should afford every patient and his family basic human dignity and respect.”

Major Jeffrey Weir, a spokesman at the base, said that the prisoners who were being fed at the hospital were generally not strapped to their beds and gurneys but were in handcuffs and leg restraints. A 21st prisoner at the hospital is voluntarily accepting liquid food. Weir said, according to the International Herald Tribune, the prisoners usually accept the nasal tubes passively because they know they will be restrained and fed forcibly if necessary. "We will not let them starve themselves to the point of causing harm to themselves," he said, describing the process as "assisted feeding" rather than force-feeding. On at least one occasion, he said, a prisoner was restrained and forcibly fed.

Weir refused to acknowledge that the detainees were protesting poor conditions or beatings and said that it is his understanding that the detainees are merely trying to call attention to their "continued detention."Sources: Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Jurist, Big News Network, USA Today, The International Herald Tribune, Daily Times (Pakistan)


In related news, The Kuwait Times says today the United States has agreed to release five of the 11 Kuwaitis imprisoned at its camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Talks between the US and Kuwaiti governments have almost been completed to release five of the prisoners," said Khalid Al-Ouda, the head of the society of families of Kuwaiti prisoners in Guantanamo. "Two of the six, Abdulaziz Al-Shimmari and Fawzi Al-Ouda, have been hospitalised after their health deteriorated for refusing to take food for five weeks," said Ouda, citing US lawyers who visited them. "The lawyers told me the two were skin and bones and Shimmari could not walk ... The remaining four are not in good health." Source: Kuwait Times

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Navajo Nation Fights Uranium Mining

Navajos fight against uranium mining

By Jerry Spangler

Deseret Morning News

WASHINGTON — It is a story familiar to Utahns: A government leader lobbies Congress to block nuclear activities but watches helplessly as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issues a license anyway.

But this time it isn't Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. fighting the losing battle with the NRC, which last week issued a license to a consortium of nuclear power utilities to store spent nuclear fuel on Goshute tribal lands in Skull Valley.

It is Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, who is fighting his own losing battle to block uranium mining on tribal lands.

"We have control of our lands, but we do not have control of the NRC, and that is the reason I am here today," Shirley said in an interview.

The Navajo Nation, which straddles the borders of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, is locked in a fierce battle with the NRC, which has issued a license to Hydro Resources Crownpoint Uranium Project to mine at four sites in New Mexico — despite a Navajo law that prohibits it.

Shirley was in the nation's capital this week, lobbying members of Congress to support the tribal government's Dine Natural Resource Protection Act, passed last April, which prohibits new uranium mining on tribal lands.

The law is rooted in a long history of Navajos who worked in uranium mines and mills in the Four Corners area during the Cold War, and who were sickened and later died of radiation-caused cancers the U.S. government hid from the uranium workers.

"Uranium has killed too many of our people, and our elderly, who knew the sacred songs and sacred stories of life, are stricken with cancer on their death beds," Shirley told the Deseret Morning News. "Our culture is dying with them. Why should we have more uranium mining and afflict ourselves with more incurable cancers?"

The Navajo opposition to uranium mining and all things nuclear stands in stark contrast to the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes, who see nuclear waste as an economic ticket out of poverty. They stand to become fabulously wealthy, even though terms of the lease with the consortium, Private Fuel Storage, have not been released.

Shirley, who won election on a campaign to stop the uranium mines, said the opposition is not negotiable, even with the lure of jobs. All things nuclear, from raw uranium to spent fuel rods, are foreign concepts to the Navajo — and they reject them in totality, he said.

"Even making money galore is a concept that is foreign to us," Shirley said. "We are not interested in the money. Life is sacred."

The Navajos are still living with the deadly legacy of uranium mining from 1948 to 1971 when thousands worked in the mines and mills. They are eligible for compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, originally sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Hatch spokesman Adam Elggren said the senator has worked to get RECA coverage for "as many deserving claimants as possible," but a problem with documentation seems to be more an administrative issue than a legislative one.

"We will certainly keep an eye on it," Elggren said.

The problem is many of the afflicted Navajos are traditionalists who do not have documents — things like birth and marriage certificates — required by the current legislation.

Shirley was hosted at a Thursday afternoon congressional briefing by Reps. Jim Matheson, D-Utah; Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Rick Renzi, R-Ariz. Shirley said he has found sympathetic ears everywhere he has turned in Washington.

"I went to sleep last night with a glad heart," he said.

But sympathy won't stop the mines. And like the state of Utah, the Navajo Nation will probably have to make its arguments in federal court, Shirley said.

Getting Congress to change RECA may be a lot easier than getting the NRC to change its mind. Shirley said the NRC has ignored the tribal government's laws and its scientific evidence.

"The NRC is not even looking at the scientific data we submitted as a nation," he said, "but the data submitted by mineral companies, well, (the NRC) listens to them. I would not be surprised if there is something in the works behind the scenes."

The NRC disputed Shirley's allegations, saying it "looks at all information provided to us during licensing reviews, including information from opponents of a proposed facility," according to NRC spokesman David McIntyre.

The Navajo Nation has made the argument — unsuccessfully, so far — that the mining proposal strikes at the heart of tribal sovereignty, threatens public health and could contaminate the regional aquifer that provides drinking water for 20,000 people.

The mining proposal is not the first time the Navajos have turned down economic development for environmental reasons.

Shirley said the same nuclear power utilities who now plan to send their waste to Goshute lands once approached the Navajo Nation about storing nuclear waste in a remote county there. The Navajos said no, and that position has never wavered.

"The Earth is sacred, and we will not introduce anything into it that is foreign," he said. "We will continue to say no."


Navajo Nation seeks to block uranium development
By: Dorothy Kosich
Posted: '29-AUG-05 04:00' GMT © Mineweb 1997-2004

RENO--( effort of the new national U.S. energy bill to revive the nuclear industry has not generated much enthusiasm among members of the Navajo Nation--which although it stands to benefit from grants and subsidies for power generation--banned uranium mining and processing last April.

Canadian junior uranium explorationist Strathmore Minerals (STM: TSX-V) and Navajo Nation officials are currently lobbying New Mexico state officials regarding Strathmore's effort to develop its Church Rock and Roco Honda uranium mines.

Kelwona, British Columbia-based Strathmore has opened a uranium development office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is now pursuing feasibility studies and permitting for its Church Rock and Roco Honda properties. Updated resource calculations are being reviewed for both New Mexico properties, which are Strathmore's first two projects to be considered for production. The properties are located within the Grant Uranium Belt, which has historically produced more than 340 million pounds of uranium. Currently, one-fifth of U.S. energy comes from nuclear power, according to President George W. Bush.

Strathmore officials announced this month that they had met with state officials, including the governor's office, prompting Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., to meet with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Shirley, who had campaigned in opposition to uranium mining on Indian lands, asked Richardson to help the Navajo Nation uphold its ban. "The Navajo Nation as a government and a people has said we're not going to have uranium mining on Navajo land or in Navajo County. We'd like to see that law stick, " Shirley told the governor. The Church Rock project is located near Navajo lands.

"Because of exposure to uranium, many of my medicine people have died, many of my elderly have died. I would sure hate to go back there. Too many of my people have died," Shirley declared in a news release. "We have been through too much. We just do not want it."

Shirley has also sought the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to help uphold the Dine Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005, which enacted the uranium ban.

Meanwhile, Strathmore had planned to meet with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) this month to discuss its projects. The company has retained subcontractors to prepare documentation for environmental, social and socioeconomic studies, which will accompany permit applications. Feasibility studies and core hold design work have commenced on the Church Rock property, which was previously studied by Kerr McGee Nuclear and Rio Algom.

Kerr McGee drilled Roco Honda from 1966 to 1977. Rio Algom then updated the results in 1995. Strathmore acquired Church Rock and Roco Honda in 2004. Historic estimates include 5.5 million pounds of contained U3O8 demonstrated resource for Church Rock and 11.3 million pounds of demonstrated resource for Roco Honda.

The new federal energy program provides billions in tax incentives in industries, including several billion dollars in incentives for nuclear power. President Bush said the program would lead to the construction of new power plants before the end of the decade. Uranium demand is expected to increase between 1% to 2% by 2010 as 30 reactors are being built internationally while another 34 are being planned. The first new nuclear U.S. power plant is scheduled to be built in the Athabascan community of Galena, Alaska, where 65% of the 700 residents are native American. The project was approved by the community as a source of electricity and is being constructed by Toshiba.

In situ leaching (ISL), also known as solution mining, is essentially a water-pumping activity, which leaves the ore in the ground, using liquids which are pumped through it to recover the minerals out of the ore by leaching. In-situ uranium plants are operating in Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming, the number one U.S. uranium producer. About a dozen small projects operate in the U.S. today. The production life of an individual ISL well is typically one to three years. Most of the uranium is recovered during the first 6 months of the operation. The most successful operations have achieved a total overall 80% recovery. ISL production is estimated at 16% of global production, according to an October 2004 paper published by analyst Jim Mustard of Haywood Securities.

Proponents assert it is environmentally benign because there is little surface disturbance and no tailings or waste rock generated. Nonetheless, the ore body needs to be permeable to the liquids used, and located so that they do not contaminate ground water away from the ore body. However, opponents of the system argue it can cause groundwater contamination, and contaminate formerly productive agricultural land.

The Navajo Nation is also opposed to a proposed in-situ uranium mining and milling project in Church Rock and Crownpoint, New Mexico to be operated by Albuquerque-based Hydro Resources (HRI). Attempts to develop Crownpoint began in 1998. Along the way environmental groups have filed legal challenges to the 1999 NRC license granted to Hydro Resources Inc. for the project. The opponents have raised various waste disposal issues concerning the proposal. However, the NRC ruled that a number of the environmental concerns stemming from conventional uranium mining will not apply to in-situ leach mining. The Interveners also raised concerns regarding HRI's ability to provide adequate financial assurance for the operation.

The battle between Hydro Resources and Mitchell and Rita Capitan, a Navajo couple who have opposed the project, has even been made into a film, "Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action."

Nevertheless, the Navajo may find themselves facing an increasingly uphill battle. Three nations--Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada--account for more than half of the world's ore reserves, according to Haywood's Mustard. Australia and Canada produce more than 50% of the world's uranium.

Mustard estimated that there are more than 100 junior companies looking for uranium. More than 15,000 new claims alone filed in the U.S. last year on properties with uranium prospects. However, the number of working uranium mines internationally remains about the same as existed prior to the current interest in nuclear power. Meanwhile, the World Nuclear Association states that demand from the world's 435 nuclear power plants is almost double the market supply. The price of uranium is trading around $30 per pound.

The Southwest Research and Information Center, which is based in New Mexico, has urged the thousands of abandoned uranium mines should be cleaned-up prior to developing new mines.