Saturday, March 18, 2006


You're right. The weather IS changing. Duh.....

This from National Geographic:

Warming Oceans Are Fueling Stronger Hurricanes, Study Finds
John Roach
for National Geographic News

Rising ocean surface temperatures are the primary factor fueling a 35-year trend of stronger, more intense hurricanes, scientists report in a new study.

The finding backs up the results of two controversial papers published last year that linked increasing hurricane intensity to rising sea-surface temperatures, said Judith Curry, an atmospheric scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

"Global warming is sending sea-surface temperatures up, so we're looking at an increase in hurricane intensity globally," Curry said.

She added that in the North Atlantic Ocean basin—where hurricanes that affect the U.S. form—the number of hurricanes may also increase.

"Other ocean basins don't show an increase in [the] number [of hurricanes], but the North Atlantic does," she said.

Curry is a co-author of the new study, which appears in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science.

She also co-authored a study published last September in Science, that found the yearly number of hurricanes that reach Category Four and Five—the strongest storms on the hurricane intensity scale—has doubled since 1970.

This finding coincides with a 1°F (0.5°C) rise in global sea-surface temperature over the same time period.

Lingering Concerns

Not everyone is convinced by the new study.

For example, Christopher Landsea, a researcher with the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, is uncertain whether the global trend toward stronger hurricanes is real.

"We look at hurricanes a lot differently today than we did in the early 1970s," he said.

Storms that were recorded 30 years ago as weak may actually have been much stronger, according to Landsea.

The ocean basin with the best historical record, the North Atlantic, shows the smallest increase in stronger storms. And that increase, Landsea said, can be attributed to natural variability.

The Atlantic was stormy in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s; quieted down through the mid-1990s; and is now active again. The current study only looks at hurricane activity since 1970—a relatively quiet period.

Landsea also noted that an uptick in hurricane intensity due to warmer sea-surface temperatures does not match the predictions of scientific models.

According to those models, by the end of the 21st century sea-surface temperatures are expected to rise 3 to 4°F (1.7 to 2.2°C), corresponding with a 5 percent increase in hurricane intensity.

Today's 1°F (0.5°C) change in ocean temperatures should correspond to about a one percent increase in hurricane strength, which is too small for modern instruments to detect, according to Landsea.

"So either the theory is wrong, which is possible, or the data is poor or inaccurate, or some combination of the two," he said.

Curry said that although concerns about the data are valid, "in order for our conclusions to be wrong, 50 percent of the Category One and Two storms in the 1970s would have been misclassified and [actually] been Category Four. Nobody thinks the data is that bad."


According to Curry, the link between sea-surface temperature and increasing hurricane intensity was apparent in data from earlier studies.

But "we didn't do the nitty-gritty statistical and data analysis to really nail down the link," she said.

Some hurricane forecasters, including Landsea, questioned whether other factors, such as wind shear, might be driving the trend.

Decreased wind shear—upper-level winds that can disrupt hurricane formation—would lead to more and stronger hurricanes.

Using statistical analysis, the new study shows that even in ocean basins where reduced wind shear plays a role, warming sea-surface temperature is the dominant driver.

"This new study really nails down that link," Curry said.

But the lack of wind shear influence still troubles Landsea.

"That doesn't fit my physical concept of how these things work," he said. "If you really get that many more Category Four and Five [storms], wind shear would have to go down."

Roger Pielke, Jr., is the director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

He says the new study adds weight to findings of a link between warmer oceans and hurricane intensity.

He cautioned, however, that burning oil and coal to drive our cars and heat our homes—which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—is not to blame for an increase in the damage done by hurricanes.

"It's important to recognize that [storm] damage is going to increase going forward, no matter what happens to sea-surface temperatures or hurricanes, as more people move to vulnerable locations on the coastline," he said.

"If hurricanes do become more intense than they have in the past, then that would be an additional factor," he added.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Black Power's true power on display
'Rank and File' exhibit highlights good works, importance of Panthers

By Cecily Burt, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area

Forty years ago, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton sparked a social revolution that still resonates today.

While the revolutionary leaders of the Black Panther Party made headlines, the largely anonymous rank-and-file members and volunteers created the party's most enduring legacies, such as free school breakfast programs, community health clinics and testing for sickle cell anemia.

"What happened was we kind of embarrassed the American government because there wasn't any free breakfast program in the schools, and we had a lot of kids that were below the poverty level and they couldn't afford to purchase a lunch," said Jimmy Slater, a former party member who now works for Oakland's Public Works Department. "We felt it would help them concentrate on what they needed to, instead of finding their next meal."

"Black Panther Rank and File," an exhibit opening Saturday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, explores the 1960s Black Power movement through historical photographs, newspapers, posters and news reels. It also examines the era's lasting influence on contemporary artists working in a range of different media.

"The show considers the Black Panthers in the broader context of slavery, the Black Power movement and colonization," said Rene de Guzman, visual arts curator for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. De Guzman co-curated the show with Claude Simard of the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, who donated several pieces relating to racial politics.

"It's really (about) unpacking why the Panthers are so important, why they were necessary (as the culmination) of this painful struggle that had been occurring over centuries. It all came together in 1966," De Guzman said.

On Oct. 15, 1966, Newton and Seale wrote the first draft of a 10-point social justice program that would become the backbone and guiding principle of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, whose motto was "Serve the people body and soul."

The Panthers focused on the plight of poor black communities by demanding equal rights in education, housing and employment. It armed its members, claiming guns were needed to defend against police brutality.

People were drawn to the charismatic Seale and Newton, and their images loom from nearly every corner of the exhibit. But there are plenty of rarely and never-before-seen images showing the party's good works: children eating a free meal, low-income seniors with bulging bags of free groceries, people getting tested for sickle cell disease, young students lined up two by two on their way to the community school, black residents registering to vote.

Billy X Jennings, the party's historian and founder of It's About Time, the Black Panther reunion committee, pitched the idea for the exhibit to commemorate the party's 40th anniversary, which culminates in an October reunion.

De Guzman took the idea a step further. The collection provided by Jennings and others is interspersed with the work of contemporary artists who have interpreted the Black Power movement and other watershed moments in the struggle for civil rights.

The vast display showcases the works of more than two dozen artists. It includes extensive archives by Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones, whose photo collections document early pivotal moments in Panther history. There are walls of bold images created by Emory Douglas, whose iconic graphics and revolutionary posters graced The Black Panther newspaper and influenced a generation of artists.

Visitors can sit and reflect in contemporary artist Sam Durant's life-sized bronze reproduction of the famous "Peacock chair," in which Newton sat, spear in one hand, rifle in the other. A larger-than-life clenched fist in the Black Power salute created by Hank Willis Thomas rises from the gallery floor.

Jennings, a former member and director of the Panther's Oakland Community School, has made it his life's work to combat misconceptions about the party and highlight its good works.

"His (de Guzman) thing is art, my thing is party history," Jennings said. "I want to present the real story. ... I'm not a thug. I'm not a gangster. My whole thing was for love of the community of Oakland.

"We had 3,000 or 4,000 people, volunteers, all across the country working in each one of those little programs."

The exhibit opens Saturday and runs through July 2 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St. at Third Street, San Francisco; $6, $3 seniors, students and teachers; opening-night party today from 8 to 11 p.m. $15. Gallery hours are Sunday through Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., Thursday noon to 8 p.m. Free first Tuesday of the month. Closed Mondays. Call (415) 978-2787 or visit for more information.

On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., join former Black Panther Party members as they share their experiences in the party. Emory Douglas will speak May 4.


One of the fastest growing unions in the country, the California Nurses Association has won elections for more than 18,000 RNs at 49 hospitals the past five years, a record unequaled by any other union. CNA represents 66,000 registered nurses in 170 facilities.

One of the latest battles is at the Citrus Valley Medical Center located in West Covina, CA. It serves the San Gabril Valley community.

Nurses there held a candlelight vigil last night. The vigil was joined by Assemblyman Ed Chavez and religious and political leaders in front of the hospital. The protest was to draw public attention to the hospital administration filing frivolous legal objections to the nurses overwhelming vote to join the California Nurses Association (CNA) on January 27. The count was 358 to 247 for CNA in the secret ballot election that was supervised by federal labor board officials.

A hearing before the NLRB ended on March 10, utilizing only half of the scheduled three days. A decision is expected at the latest by the end of April.

“I think the reason why the hearing ended so soon is because Citrus administration didn’t have much of a case to begin with,” said Maria Domingo an RN who works in Labor and Delivery at Queen of the Valley and who attended both days of the hearing. “Whether you are for or against CNA, it is insulting to all nurses when they say our vote was somehow influenced by the ludicrous things they have raised during this hearing.”

“The nurses have exercised our democratic right and overwhelmingly voted in a secret ballot election for CNA because we want a real voice in decisions that effect patient care,” said Annazilta Pierre-Duncan a Citrus RN who was also present at the hearing. “Administration should respect the wishes of the nurses. The hospital is just stalling and in wasting precious time and resources that could be better spent on improving care.”

According to the CNA, the vote was the largest NLRB victory for RNs in the nation in several years, and was the second victory for CNA at major hospitals with more than 700 RNs in three months. About 800 RNs at Tri-City Medical Center in northern San Diego County affiliated with CNA in November.

One of the fastest growing unions in the country, CNA has won elections for more than 18,000 RNs at 49 hospitals the past five years, a record unequaled by any other union. CNA represents 66,000 registered nurses in 170 facilities.

The following article is from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Citrus Valley nurses defend unionizing plan

By Jason Kosareff Staff Writer
San Gabriel Valley Tribune

WEST COVINA - Registered nurses Thursday protested efforts by Citrus Valley Medical Center to allegedly block unionizing by filing legal objections.

Diane Flores, a nurse who voted in favor of going union said the hospital's legal objections are "just bogus charges." Flores gathered with dozens of co-workers on Sunset Avenue, in front of the hospital, for a candlelight vigil.

Since the Jan. 27 vote to join the California Nurses Association, Citrus Valley Health Partners, the hospital's parent company, has filed nine legal objections with the National Labor Relations Board.

The nurses voted 358-247 in favor of joining the union in a secret-ballot election supervised by federal labor officials.

Union organizer Roy Hong call the objections "frivolous."

"We obviously don't think they're frivolous," said Lisa Foust, vice president of human resources for Citrus Valley Health Partners. "We think they're responsive."

Foust said nurses opposed to unionizing were subjected to coercion by union organizers.

"The specific conduct that was described to us by our employees was not in fact free and fair," Foust said.

The hospital's objections include complaints of surveillance, harassment, coercion and use of outside influence, Foust said.

"These are not frivolous complaints," Foust said. "They are bona fide and serious concerns expressed by a large number of RNs."

Nurse Marilyn Cluff, who voted against joining the union, said some nurses crossed the line when campaigning inside the hospital. She said in many cases, union organizers were trying to campaign as nurses were working on patients. Some nurses and union organizers took photographs at nursing stations that later appeared in union literature, Cluff said.

Hong said union organizers have a right to any place in the hospital accessible to the public. Hospital administrators said union organizing at nursing stations or at patients' bedsides is unacceptable.

The protesters on Thursday were joined by Assemblyman Ed Chavez, D-Industry.

"I'm disappointed at the administration of the hospital," Chavez said. He said the 111-vote margin of victory for the union should show that most nurses did not find the union's organizing tactics objectionable.

A final ruling on the vote is expected from the National Labor Relations Board next month.



Dear Friends of the Indigenous Peoples of Big Mountain, Black Mesa, AZ.

Something critical is about to happen concerning the traditional communities on Big Mountain surrounding areas on Black Mesa. Today, more than 30 years after the passage of Public Law 93 - 531, the original Navajo-Hopi Relocation bill, a new bill is before congress that sets a new timetable for the forced relocation of a number of Navajo families on Black Mesa. Senate bill S1003 "The Navajo Hopi Land Settlement Act Amendments of 2005" is now on the senate calendar and may be passed at anytime without debate or serious consideration unless the public acts now. The last major relocation bill was approved by the Senate within a month of being placed on the Senate calendar and stayed in the House Of Representatives less than a week before becoming law. It's difficult to convey the serious nature of these new developments. The passage of this bill would effectively devastate a culture such as the Navajo, or Dineh, stripping them of their identity and way of life which is tied into the land itself.

People's lives and livelihoods are on the line!

This bill will permanently displace the indigenous families of Big Mountain and surrounding communities on Black Mesa from their ancestral lands and will relieve the federal government of any further responsibility for the relocated people. S 1003, sponsored by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), comes as Peabody Coal, the world's largest coal company, is planning to expand its strip mining of American Indian lands, drawing down a high-quality residential aquifer in the process. Only one thing stands in Peabody's way: indigenous people live on the land below which lies billions of tons of low-sulfur coal. As with their ancestors, the land is the basis for the Black Mesa people's traditions, spirituality, and livelihoods.

There is still time to act!

S 1003 may pass the Senate and the House of Representatives within the next few weeks. Senate Bill 1003 may become law anytime now once again starting the machine of forced relocation. But fortunately, a small window of opportunity exists to stop it. It must first pass the Senate so the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and your Senator must hear our voices today. The indigenous families from the Big Mountain and Black Mesa communities have not been represented in this process.

It's up to us the public and the international community to demand that Congress educate themselves before they vote. After passing an earlier relocation act, PL 93-531, in 1974, several Senators expressed misgivings about the law, but it was too late. We cannot allow this to happen again.The people of Big Mountain are asking us to jump in and shake up the political landscape. Our outcry may be their only hope. We must tell those who would once again sell out the people and the land that there will be a political price to pay. It's easy to make decisions from afar if you never risk meeting the people who will be affected. Demand that Congress listen to the people. Maybe it is possible to reach their hearts.

In an era of transnational corporate dominance, the methods of separating indigenous peoples from their land and natural resources have outstripped the ability of any agency or nongovernmental organization to monitor or regulate. The importance of building alliances cannot be stressed enough. The elders of Big Mountain such as Roberta Blackgoat have shown us the way to the survival of our planet and the danger to us all if sacred lands are destroyed warning us of what is now happening long before global warming and gaia became common words. The people of Big Mountain can not win this fight alone and need the support of all people who love justice, human rights, and the earth.

Please join us, and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Send A Letter to Congress Now! Go to for further information on how to sebd a fax to congress.
Thank you and Peace,

Black Mesa Indigenous Support

Thursday, March 16, 2006


There is indeed something new under the sun every day. It's always a good thing when someone somewhere comes up with something new in the world of protest. I mean how many times can we listen to the same old chants. Check out what they got planned in Michigan.

Bernardine, I'm sorry but I couldn't help using the picture to the left. Fortunately, I know your sense of humor.

The following is from the Ann Arbor News.

Local peace activists plan to 'turn themselves in'

A local peace group is offering a pre-emptive strike in response to domestic spying programs and, in particular, to revelations Tuesday that federal investigators targeted an organization because of its anti-war views.

Ann Arbor-based Michigan Peaceworks will be taking mug shots of willing attendees at this Sunday's protest rally and march through downtown Ann Arbor. The protest commemorates the third anniversary of the war in Iraq.

The pictures, along with placards labeled "war protester,'' will be delivered to U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials at the Ann Arbor Federal Building at a later date as part of the group's "turn yourself into the National Security Agency'' initiative.

"We want to save them the effort, and show them who we are,'' said Peaceworks Director Phillis Engelbert, adding that protesters will be encouraged to save taxpayer money and ease the workload of NSA agents by turning themselves in.

The U-M College Democrats and Veterans for Peace are also sponsoring the protest.

Ann Arbor is among more than 400 cities nationwide where anti-war actions are scheduled for Sunday, said organizers, who expect hundreds of students and community members from southeast Michigan to attend.

Engelbert said participation might increase this year due to the unveiling of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program, but she does not expect security measures or scrutiny from federal authorities to change much.

Both uniformed police and plainclothes officers have rerouted traffic and provided security at previous anti-war marches downtown, and federal authorities have historically videotaped rallies around the federal building downtown. Local FBI officials declined to say whether or not they'll be monitoring Sunday's protests.

"As far as we're concerned we have no interest in people exercising their first amendment rights,'' said Senior Special Agent Greg Stejskal.

Documents released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union show that the FBI investigated gatherings of the Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice in Pittsburgh because the organization opposed the Iraq war, both groups alleged in a written statement released Tuesday.

An FBI memo indicates the classified investigation began in November 2002 and noted that the center distributes leaflets opposing the war in downtown Pittsburgh. The FBI notes that the Merton Center "is a left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism,'' according to the statement.

The FBI said in a written statement that the agent who photographed the protesters was "acting with all appropriate investigative authorities'' as part of an ongoing terrorism probe. The photos were destroyed once the agent determined that a person under investigation was not in attendance at the event, the FBI said.

Though the government previously acknowledged retaining files on anti-war groups, the documents are the first indicating the rationale for investigating certain targets.

The ACLU has filed Freedom of Information Act requests in 20 states on behalf of more than 150 organizations and individuals.

Engelbert said the Michigan chapter filed Freedom of Information Act requests on behalf of several grass-roots organizations concerned about domestic surveillance last year, including Peaceworks. Two organizations were determined by the FBI as threats: Direct Action, a Lansing-based peace group, and the civil rights group BAMN or By Any Means Necessary. But no documents concerning Peaceworks were found.

Still, scrutiny from federal investigators has a chilling effect, Engelbert said.

"It's just luck of the draw. Because if that group (in Pittsburgh) was on their radar for being pacifists there's no reason to believe they wouldn't look at us, too,'' she said. "What it does is make people fearful of getting involved.''


The nazi movement is growing Germany.

The following article is from The Forward.

German Crackdown on Neo-Nazis Does Little To Stall the Movement
March 17, 2006

BERLIN — In part of a nationwide crackdown on the growing neo-Nazi movement, Germany's highest administrative court handed down a first-ever ruling this week classifying a neo-Nazi rock group as a criminal organization because its lyrics spread racial hatred. The decision came on the heels of a national controversy stirred up here last week, when local officials in the former eastern German town of Halberstadt bowed to pressure from extreme right groups and canceled a concert by anti-Nazi activist and political songwriter Konstantin Wecker.

The developments underscored that neo-Nazism not only persists in Germany but also appears to be growing stronger, both politically and culturally, even as the government tries to halt its momentum.

In an effort to reverse the trend, German officials have begun eyeing the music of extremist groups. This week, the country's top administrative court upheld a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for Michael Regener, the singer and songwriter whose group, Landser, was found guilty of "inciting public hatred against foreigners and minorities in Germany." It marks the first time in Germany that a collective prosecution successfully targetted a music group. "The primary goal of this band was to commit crimes," said Jürgen Lampe, spokesman for the federal prosecutor.

Such songs as "The Reich Will Be Back," featuring lyrics like "Turks and Commies and all that scum will soon be forever gone," have struck a chord with this country's under-educated, xenophobic youth. Indeed, neo-Nazi organizations, through their savvy distribution of music in schools and small cities, have become popular and freely accessible to many students.

"Democratic forces in Germany are simply at a loss to effectively counter an ideology of dumb violence that is infesting more and more young minds," said Frank Jantzen, an expert on right-wing movements, according to press reportd.

Despite police vigilance and a German public that takes the neo-fascist threat seriously, support for such groups among young, poor and unemployed men — especially in the former East — is mounting. The news weekly Focus reported last month that the number of neo-Nazi skinhead activists rose in 2005 by some 300 to more than 4,000, while the ranks of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party jumped by 700 to 6,000 registered members. Even faster growth of neo-Nazi groups is happening across the border in Poland, where a new, openly anti-gay president seems to look the other way each time skinheads strike out — as they did, without reprisal, against a gay march last year.

An example of such agitation happened March 8 in Halberstadt, when National Democratic Party members threatened to buy all the tickets and disrupt a "Nazis get out of our town" concert by the singer Wecker. The neo-Nazis claimed that the musician's criticism of their movement was an unacceptable form of political campaigning in the run-up to March 26 state elections. Local officials agreed to cancel the show.

The decision to cancel the concert was criticized by the German Jewish community and by state officials.

Klaus Jeziorsky — interior minister for the state of Saxony-Anhalt, in which Halberstadt is located — expressed dismay at the concert's cancellation. "One cannot give in to threats by right-wing extremists," he said, upbraiding local officials.

Germany's Central Council for Jews labeled the authorities' decision "politically bankrupt."

Refusing to buckle, Wecker took his concert to nearby Jena, vowing to return to Halberstadt in the summer for an open-air concert. "One shouldn't give in to the NPD," he told the online edition of Der Spiegel. "I haven't given up on Halberstadt."



Wednesday, March 15, 2006


An editorial in a local Pennsylvania newspaper recently stated, "One argument in behalf of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is that it can be done without damaging the pristine nature of this world-class nature preserve."

"That argument, never really credible, is in serious disrepute today as clean-up crews struggle to contain what, at this point, is the sixth largest oil spill ever on Alaska's North Slope. And it comes as Congress once again struggles over whether to include projected oil revenues from ANWR in the budget authorization bill."

The editorial makes reference to what is now, in fact, known to be the largest oil spill ever on the tundra of Alaska's north slope.

Richard Fineberg, a former state oil analyst makes light of the spill's impact by pointing out something that should be shocking itself, "That area is not pristine. It's industrial."

Isn't that nice?

Defenders of Wildlife said the rupture shows the devastation drilling in wildlife areas can cause. They said the spill illustrates that improved technologies for drilling do nothing to prevent pipeline ruptures down the line.

And, as the Alaska Wildnerness League points out:

Besides the actual damage from the oil itself, additional impacts could occur directly from the clean-up efforts, which require large 18-wheeler trucks to drive over the delicate tundra in order to access the spill site.

The arctic tundra of Alaska is extremely fragile and recent snow cover provides almost no buffer between the tundra and the heavy crude seen pooling to the side of the oil transit line.

The clean-up efforts also pose risks to crew members, who are having to brave temperatures dipping to 20 degrees below zero and deep snow, which is hiding much of the spill.

The caribou crossing oil spill reinforces the fact that oil development is a hazardous undertaking. Accidents like these can never be 100 percent avoided. And with oil companies continually stressing their safety records and technological advances, these spills remind us that no amount of technology so far has made oil drilling a risk-free operation. It is urgent that we do everything possible to develop safer, cleaner alternatives to satisfy our energy needs in this country.

And how is the clean up going, well the ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION - Division of Spill Prevention and Response reports:

Extreme cold weather (wind chill to as much as 63° below zero) has continued to hamper
the cleanup activities over the weekend. At times workers have been limited to a maximum of 25 minutes exposure
to the weather conditions before concern for personal safety has required that they be brought into a warm-up shelter
for an extended period of time. Vacuum recovery of free flowing fluids, oiled snow and non-oiled snow removal
from the spill site, and the continued excavation of contaminated gravel from the caribou crossing continue to be
the highest cleanup priorities of both clean-up shifts. Four ADEC oil spill response staff are on site, monitoring the
cleanup efforts, 24 hours a day and participating in the IMT.
The BPXA Incident Management Team (IMT) at the Prudhoe Bay Operations Center (PBOC) and the Business
Support Team (BST) in Anchorage continue to operate. ADEC has a staff liaison coordinating with the BST in
To date the clean-up efforts have collected a total of: 59,976 gallons (1,428 bbls) of free flowing oil, 57 yards of oil
contaminated gravel, and 1,668 yards of oil contaminated snow as of the 7:00 PM day shift change on March 12,
Over the past few days bobcats and generator systems have broken down, primarily due to the extreme cold weather
conditions. Logistics is bringing in replacements from Fairbanks. All similar local assets are assigned to the
cleanup or have been put into service elsewhere.

This from the NY Times:

Large Oil Spill in Alaska Went Undetected for Days

WASHINGTON, March 14 — The largest oil spill to occur on the tundra of Alaska's North Slope has deposited up to 267,000 gallons of thick crude oil over two acres in the sprawling Prudhoe Bay production facilities, forcing cleanup crews to work in temperatures far below zero to vacuum and dig up the thick mixture of snow and oil.

The spill went undetected for as long as five days before an oilfield worker detected the acrid scent of hydrocarbons while driving through the area on March 2, Maureen Johnson, the senior vice president and manager of the Prudhoe Bay unit for BP, said at a news conference in Anchorage on Tuesday.

At the conference, officials from BP, the company pumping the oil, and from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said they believed that the oil had escaped through a pinprick-size hole in a corroded 34-inch pipe leading to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

The pressure of the leaking oil, they said, gradually expanded the hole to a quarter- or half-inch wide. Most of the oil seeped beneath the snow without attracting the attention of workers monitoring alarm systems.

The leak occurred in a section of pipe built in the late 1970's, in the earliest days of oil production at Prudhoe Bay. The larger pipeline, which carries North Slope oil across the state, was completed in 1977.

Environmental groups were quick to point out that the spill raises doubts about the continuing reliability and durability of the infrastructure of North Slope production.

The current spill is among the worst in the pipeline's history, and the first of such a magnitude likely to be blamed on the decay of the aging system. In 1989, about 11 million gallons fouled Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground. About 700,000 gallons escaped from the pipeline after vandals blew up a section of it in 1978, and about 285,000 gallons spilled in 2001 when a hunter shot the pipeline.

Asked later on Tuesday about how company and state officials arrived at their tentative conclusions about the cause of the spill, Ms. Johnson said investigators had "looked at the leak investigation system, at all the logs and all the charts" that measure oil volume and pressure at different times and in different areas.

At the news conference, Ms. Johnson said that although routine inspections last year indicated increasing corrosion in the pipe, the severity of corrosion found since the leak pointed to a swift and sudden deterioration. "We had no reason to expect" that this pipe, which carried 100,000 barrels of oil to the Alaska pipeline a day, "was going to leak," she said.

Ms. Johnson also said the leak was "smaller than our system would detect," adding that it was "still not acceptable to BP."

The normal fluctuations of oil flow in this particular pipe could have masked warning signals, state environment officials said.


The Black GST campaign to boycott and protest at the 2006 Melbourne "Stolenwealth" Games was launched on 26th January 2005 in Melbourne. The purpose of the action is to expose the racist nature of Australian society.

The Black GST is a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who are appalled at the current state of affairs in Black Australia. The Black GST states,

We deplore:

Ongoing Genocide as demonstrated by police actions and recent events in indigenous communities - Redfern, Palm Island, Goondiwindi, Melbourne

The assimilation policies of all political parties

The perpetual denial of our Indigenous Rights

The sell-out of the national indigenous leadership

The first article is from Special Broadcasting Service (Australia). The second is from SIFY (India)


More than 500 protesters gathered outside Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building to call on the Queen to sign a treaty with aboriginal Australians.

The protest has been arranged by an indigenous rights group, the Black GST Collective.

It has been timed to coincide with the Commonwealth Games which will begin with a gala opening ceremony to be attended by the Queen.

The Queen is attending a state luncheon at the Exhibition building in the inner Melbourne suburb of Carlton.

The protesters hope to invite the Queen to talks on a treaty with aborigines but if she did not accept the invitation, protesters will march to Government House where the Queen is staying.

The demonstrators will then deliver a summons to the International Criminal Court alleging that aborigines were the subject of systematic genocide since white settlement.

One will perform a traditional smoking ceremony to purify the land and people and welcome the Queen.

"I did it for the Pope (John Paul II) when he was in Australia and I want to do it for the Queen as well," said 64 year old Uncle Max Eulo from the New South Wales town of Bourke.

Eight of the protesters, some dressed in furs performed traditional music for the crowd as a police helicopter circled overhead.

The demonstrators were monitored by a large police contingent.

Protests greet Queen Elizabeth II in Melbourne

Melbourne: Queen Elizabeth II was greeted with protests as well as pomp when she arrived in the southern Australian city of Melbourne on Wednesday to open the Commonwealth Games.

About 200 demonstrators backing claims by Aborigines that British colonisers stole the land that became Australia from its original inhabitants more than two centuries ago, were among about 500 people who gathered outside the site where the monarch was to have an official lunch.

"Make sure you tell the queen she’s standing on our land and we want it back," an Aboriginal protester shouted into a megaphone as the official motorcade approached.

The demonstrators, who stayed behind barricades set up about 15 meters (50 feet) from the venue entrance, also jeered Australian Prime Minister John Howard as he arrived to host the lunch, shouting,

"Always was, always would be, Aboriginal land."

Hundreds of police, including officers mounted on horses wearing helmets with riot visors, stood guard.

The lunch was being held in the building where the first sitting of Australia’s federal Parliament was held in 1901, an event that heralded the end of Britain’s direct colonial rule.

Protest organiser Robbie Thorpe urged the queen to sign a treaty with aboriginal Australians and said if she didn’t the demonstrators would march to Government House where the queen will stay while in Melbourne.

Hundreds of well-wishers also gathered as the queen arrived, wearing a mint green hat with white bow and a patterned skirt and top with mint green and dark green floral pattern.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Since Subcomandante Marcos' "Other Campaign" tour passed through Oaxaca, Mexico's only majority indigenous state, the social movements there have come under increased government repression. Narco News reported extensively on the siege of San Blas Atempa by hundreds of armed state police. James Daria and Dul Santamaria report from Oaxaca City that there have in fact been many other cases of police and state repression:

"The state of repression under which the people of Oaxaca are suffering is largely connected with the continued authoritarianism of the PRI. As the elections are drawing near, local caciques (political bosses) are working hard to ensure PRI dominance in their regions and to do away with any and all opposition. A driving social force of opposition is the Other Campaign. While the government did not repress the public activities of the Other Campaign during the time Marcos was here, it seems the regime is working against the social bases of the alternative that the Other Campaign represents.

The following is from Narco News:

San Blas Atempa to Defy Threats by Oaxaca State Government with a Protest on Tuesday:
A March from Prison to the Occupied City Hall on the International Day(s) of Protest Against Police Brutality

By Al Giordano
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Oaxaca
March 13, 2006

SAN BLAS ATEMPA, OAXACA; MARCH 13, 2006: A dozen days after 800 state police seized the Autonomous City Hall building of San Blas Atempa, the standoff continues. If this were a chess match the current score would be called a stalemate: the forces of civil disobedience in this town of 14,000 where the indigenous majority still speaks Zapotec are locked out of their government center, but so are the forces of political boss Agustina Acevedo Gutiérrez (a.k.a. “La Tina Guada”) that lost the building 14 months ago.

Tomorrow, the unconquered townspeople will march toward them.

In the past two weeks representatives of Oaxaca’s repressive governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz have held four negotiating sessions with the rebels of San Blas: a citizenry that has adhered, en masse, to the Zapatista Other Campaign and which received Subcomandante Marcos last month with a multitudinous nighttime rally. A fifth negotiating session is set for today but nobody expects a breakthrough because “the government engages in doubletalk,” according to one San Blaseño.

The state government has offered to free the town’s nine political prisoners and cancel arrest warrants against 72 citizens if the rebels agree to join a coalition government with the forces of the detested political boss Acevedo. Despite the imprisonments, arrest warrants, violence and occupation of their town by police forces, the San Blaseños have firmly rejected the offer.

“The people don’t accept the deal,” said Dr. Francisco Salud Bautista told the Other Journalism on Monday in San Blas. “First we want the police to leave and the political prisoners to go free. Until that happens there cannot be any agreement.”

Meanwhile, yesterday, the embattled political boss Acevedo Gutiérrez (with full page ads this week in local newspapers urging citizens of the region to support her candidacy for the federal congress, “for equality in gender”), went to nearby Tehuantepec to campaign, but was met by a one-hour blockade of 100 taxi drivers and their vehicles from that city. “Let’s make it clear,” José Martín Guzmán López, leader of a taxi drivers’ union with historic connections to Acevedo’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, in its Spanish initials) told the daily Tiempo del Sur newspaper. “This blockade is against the traitor of transportation Augustina Acevedo, and not against other candidates of the PRI.”

And last night, in the adjacent town of Huilotepec, townspeople angry with what they call a corrupt municipal government of the same PRI party took a cue from San Blas and seized their own City Hall, this time with the support of municipal police officers who have their own labor grievances with an unpopular mayor. Also last night, the Huilotepec citizens pledged to send “half” of their ranks to join the protest march set for Tuesday by the pro-democracy forces of San Blas.

An Isthmus Brushfire

In this arid dry season when forest fires are common throughout the region, another kind of brushfire is burning: one of rebellion against impositions from above. The once isolated struggle of San Blas now receives support regionally, nationally and internationally through the Zapatista Other Campaign. According to Subcomandante Marcos’ words in the central region of the country – in Querétaro last week – the situation in San Blas, together with other recent acts of police repression in the state of Oaxaca, was the catalyst for the Other Campaign to call a national “day of protest against police brutality.” (March 15 is considered to be an international date to that end; in a Zapatista communiqué last week, Marcos errantly cited March 14 as the date: suddenly, there are protests scheduled for both days – Tuesday and Wednesday – throughout the Mexican Republic.)

According to Dr. Salud (literally “Doctor Health” in Spanish), one of the negotiators for the San Blas citizenry in the negotiating roundtables, representatives of Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz read about Tuesday’s planned protest march “on the Internet” and came to him with a printed copy of the news. “They told us that if we march, as planned, to City Hall, that they will send in more police.”

Undeterred, the protest will go on as planned, beginning at 10 a.m. at the federal prison in Tehuantepec, now home to nine San Blaseños whose only “crime” was to be wounded by police (four in January 2005, and five more in March of 2006) and who were taken from the hospital to jail. From the prison, their neighbors will march to the regional offices of the federal attorney general (PGR, in its Spanish initials), then to the regional offices of the Oaxaca state government – both in Tehuantepec – and then on to their stolen City Hall, surrounded still by heavily armed riot cops.

Last week, 300 citizens of San Blas met – during the meeting they watched the video newsreel “Marcos Goes to Jail” by the Other Journalism with the Other Campaign, and listened to an audio file downloaded from the Enlace Zapatista weblog of Marcos’ words of solidarity from Querétaro; both presentations were received with standing ovations – and they vowed to struggle on.

While San Blas’ citizens in resistance are pleased with the public statements by Zapatista “Delegate Zero” and the subsequent expressions of solidarity they’ve received from around the country and the world, “it is still not enough,” said Dr. Salud. “We need all the social organizations and NGOS to unite in solidarity with this municipality of San Blas Atempa, so that justice, peace and the will of the people will be respected. San Blas Atempa feels that it stands alone, marginalized and defenseless. We ask for more media coverage as well.” (To date, three alternative media organizations in the Other Campaign have followed up on Marcos’ February 6 visit to the town: El Cortamortaja in nearby Jalapa del Marquez, Radio Totopo in Juchitán, and the Other Journalism of Narco News.)

Meanwhile, political boss Agustina Acevedo Gutiérrez, whose congressional campaign will bring her to other nearby cities of Salina Cruz, Ixtepec, Tehuantepec and Jalapa del Marques, can expect more of the kind of opposition that she found yesterday from the taxi drivers of Tehuantepec between now and the July 6 election, as the Other Campaign spreads the word – from below and to the left – of her repressive anti-democracy reign in San Blas.

“She and the governor are saying that the situation in San Blas is already fixed, that peace has been established,” noted Dr. Salud. “But that is a lie.”

Tomorrow’s protest march, in defiance of the threat by Oaxaca’s famously repressive state government to call out more cops against the people, indicates that the political “stalemate” has simply led to the next match on this strategic chess board of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (the region where a gargantuan battle is brewing over plans for a massive “energy park”): a continuing rebellion – spilling over now into other towns and cities – that police repression, bloody and ugly though it may be, is impotent to quell.


Pat Robertson just a keeps on quacking...

The following is a press release from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

Americans United Deplores TV Preacher Pat Robertson's Inflammatory Attack On Islam
Robertson Remarks 'Throw Gasoline On Fire' Of Inter-Religious Tensions, Says AU's Lynn

WASHINGTON - March 13 - Americans United for Separation of Church and State today criticized TV preacher Pat Robertson for a virulent attack on Islam.

On the live version of his “700 Club” program today, Robertson charged that Islam is not a religion of peace, that Muslims are demonic and satanic and that they are trying to take over the world.

Said Robertson, “These people are crazed fanatics and I want to say it now: I believe it’s motivated by demonic power, it is satanic and it’s time we recognize what we’re dealing with…. The goal of Islam, ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not, is world domination.” He insisted that “Islam is not a religion of peace.”

In the version of the show posted on the Internet, the offensive remarks were deleted.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said the attempt to erase the comments was too little, too late.

“At a time when inter-religious tensions around the world are at an all-time high, Robertson seems determined to throw gasoline on the fire,” said Lynn. “His comments are grossly irresponsible. Robertson seems to be wrestling with demons of his own, namely intolerance and bigotry. To condemn an entire religion because of the behavior of some is deplorable.

“It is certainly appropriate that Robertson has removed the offensive comments from the Internet version of the show,” Lynn added. “However, it is imperative that he issue an immediate and unequivocal apology, because millions of viewers have already heard the inflammatory remarks. When will Robertson ever learn to think before he speaks?”

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.


I'd like to give you some background or something, but I can find absolutely nothing else about this anywhere.

The following is from the Spanish news agency EFE.

Argentine farmers' protest leaves 32 injured

Buenos Aires, Mar 14 (EFE).- Thousands of farmers set fire to the city hall of San Vicente and attacked the police station in the northeastern Argentine town during protests that left at least 32 people, most of them police officers, injured.

Violence broke out Monday during a protest by some 3,000 people who have been demanding since last week that Mayor Luis Benitez resign, police said Tuesday.

The attack on city hall, which was reduced to rubble, could not be prevented by about 100 police officers in riot gear who fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters but could not disperse them.

Protesters kept firefighters from putting out the blaze at city hall and then attacked the police station.

The demonstrations began a week ago, when 400 farmers gathered outside city hall to demand the distribution of funds provided by the federal government for growers affected by the drought in the region.

A few days ago, some residents began gathering signatures for a petition to hold a referendum to remove Benitez, who they accuse of having taken the relief funds for his own use, from office.

Although calm appears to have returned to the town of 50,000 on Tuesday, the tobacco and citrus farmers remain in the streets of San Vicente.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Scores of women braved freezing temperatures to "reclaim" a walkway in memory of murder victim Farah Noor Adams. The Kelvin Walkway in Glasgow was the sight of the brutal rape and murder of the 34-year-old.

Organised by the Crossroads Youth and Community Association - where Farah worked - and women's community arts group the Cailleach Collective, the walk was aimed at highlighting violence against women.

The following is from The Herald.

Women march for the right to feel safe

The Kelvin Walkway winds unobtrusively through Glasgow's urban landscape. For generations it has afforded its users a welcome break from the bustling city streets nearby. A green and pleasant path popular with runners and cyclists, the nine-mile stretch links the north bank of the River Clyde with the start of the West Highland Way, in Milngavie.

However, on a grey, cold autumn morning last October the local walkway – specifically, a secluded stretch running through Maryhill – assumed national significance in the most macabre of circumstances.

At the point where lock 24 of the Forth and Clyde canal meets the River Kelvin, 34-year-old Farah Noor Adams was brutally raped and murdered by Thomas Waddell, a local teenager, while out power walking in broad daylight. The savagery of the incident – Waddell raped the single mother twice and smashed her nose with a brick before killing her – sent shockwaves through Farah's local community of Maryhill and beyond.

Almost immediately, hundreds of female users felt in grave danger – the simple act of using the pathway unaccompanied was now out of the question. If something so terrible and so random could have befallen Farah, then it could just as easily happen to one of them, the thinking went.

In recent months, women have rarely used the pathway alone, either through personal choice or at the behest of concerned relatives. It is a highly unsatisfactory situation, one reminiscent of a time where women were afraid to go out at night unaccompanied in safety.

Yesterday, as a symbol of solidarity and remembrance, a group of about 100 women, children and some male supporters gathered near the river to protest at violence against women in general, and their inability to exercise their right to use the walkway in particular. Before the heavy snowfall on Saturday night, organisers had intended to "Reclaim the Path" by marching from the Botanical Gardens to the spot where Farah's battered body was found. There, they had hoped to hear tributes from colleagues of the Citizens' Advice Bureau where she worked, and then drop flowers into the river.

Instead, those who were able to surmount the whiteout conditions had to settle for a low-key affair. The police ban on marching the walkway necessitated a stationary protest outside the Botanical Gardens, but the wintry conditions failed to dampen the collective warmth and united front of those gathered. Jude Stewart, an organiser, was delighted at the turnout. "When we saw the depth of snow we couldn't believe it, but we just wanted to carry on. It just goes to show the strength of feeling about the issues involved. We want this event to inspire confidence in women of all ages to get back out using public spaces. We enjoy the right to exercise and the right to enjoy the fine, green spaces we have in Glasgow. That's what Farah was doing that day. We need to get out there and not be afraid."

The group's brightly coloured woolly hats were only outshone by their smiles and laughter. The power in the protest was not only to be found in its sincerity but also its positivity. Susan Douglas-Scott bravely sang Reclaim the Night by Peggy Seger unaccompanied, while protesters – holding carefully-made placards and banners bearing solemn messages such as 'WE WANT JUSTICE', 'WE ARE ANGRY' and 'STOP MURDERING WOMEN' – joined in with the chorus. "We are here because we care. We are not just here to commemorate Farah, but all women who are victims of violence and to protest at the unacceptable number of women murdered annually," said Gerrie Douglas-Scott, opening the proceedings.

In so many ways, Farah Adams lives on. On witnessing yesterday's event it is clear she has become an emblem – not just for the women of Maryhill, but for all those who defend and cherish the right to venture out unaccompanied in public, whether that be first thing in the morning, as Farah did, or last thing at night.

The event's organisers from the Crossroads Youth and Community Association, where Farah worked, and the Cailleach Collective, a local arts group, say they will continue to fight for safer public spaces and greater awareness of the horrific violence suffered by thousands of women every year in Scotland.

Janet Hay, a lay worker for Maryhill community health project, was at the march. Prior to Farah's murder she often used the walkway on her way home. "It was more scenic than the main road. Walking along there gave you a chance to calm down and unwind before you got home for the evening. I think a lot of women miss using the pathway. It never crossed my mind that the walkway would be unsafe. You just assume you're safe. I think that is what has knocked so many women in the area. Farah was super-fit and streetwise, it was in the morning, she had her mobile phone with her. I still think there are many women who are struggling to know what to do in terms of getting some exercise. There is a lot of fear out there," she says.

Sue McVie, a criminologist and a senior research fellow at Edinburgh University school of law, says there is a saying in the criminal-justice fraternity. "'The fear of crime is often more of a problem than the crime itself'. The truth is, we do not really know what constitutes the fear of crime. But we do know that it inhibits people from doing what they would normally do and in this case that means fewer people using the Kelvin Walkway. Walking to reclaim the Kelvin is such a positive statement, those involved should be very proud," she adds.

"This sort of crime could have happened anywhere as these sorts of attacks are so rare and the chances of being attacked in that way are so low. By avoiding places such as the walkway for fear of a crime happening to you could actually increase the number of attacks because people [like Waddell] think they have a better chance of getting away with a certain crime because no-one else will be about. Of course, it is important that people take personal safety seriously, but if as a society we start to avoid places that have been a crime scene then we all lose out."

Although it is unclear just how women can practically and safely reclaim the Kelvin Walkway in their everyday lives, the belief exists that it can be done. "The message today is that we will not lose the walkway. In the short-term, a way forward could be to set up a buddy system between joggers and walkers in addition to increasing police patrols of the area," says Ms Hay.

Areas around the Kelvin Walkway in Maryhill are gradually being cleared and pathways widened and extended. While such measures may not ultimately deter a criminal such as Waddell, every step helps in restoring public confidence.

Superintendent Peter McLaughlin, a sub-divisional officer, concludes: "Following Farah's death we implemented high-visibility policing on and around the Kelvin Walkway and canal tow paths to reassure the public and reduce their fear of crime. I can assure members of the community that we are committed to reducing crime and the fear of crime and these patrols, with the exception of the mounted branch, are still deployed. We are continuing to work closely with Glasgow City Council and British Waterways in an effort to improve the general area and make the walkway safe."


I know that I keep harping on global warming and what it means, but there is a reason to my madness (at least, in my mind). When all is said and done global warming might simply be the ultimate "issue." For when global warming is "done" then truely all will be said and done. As in "The End."

The following is from London's The Independent-

Death of the world's rivers
Disaster warning from UN as investigation reveals half of the planet's 500 biggest rivers are seriously depleted or polluted

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor, The Independent

The world's great rivers are drying up at an alarming rate, with devastating consequences for humanity, animals and the future of the planet.

The Independent on Sunday can today reveal that more than half the world's 500 mightiest rivers have been seriously depleted. Some have been reduced to a trickle in what the United Nations will this week warn is a "disaster in the making".

From the Nile to China's Yellow River, some of the world's great water systems are now under such pressure that they often fail to deposit their water in the ocean or are interrupted in the course to the sea, with grave consequences for the planet.

Adding to the disaster, all of the 20 longer rivers are being disrupted by big dams. One-fifth of all freshwater fish species either face extinction or are already extinct.

The Nile and Pakistan's Indus are greatly reduced by the time they reach the sea. Some, such as the Colorado and China's Yellow River, now rarely reach the ocean at all. Others, such as the Jordan and the Rio Grande on the US-Mexico border, are dry for much of their length.

Even in Britain, a quarter of the country's 160 chalk rivers and steams - such as the Kennet in Wiltshire, the Darent in Kent, and the Wylye in Wiltshire - are running out of water because too much is being abstracted for homes, industry and agriculture.

This week an influential UN report will officially warn the world's governments of an "alarming deterioration" in the planet's rivers, lakes and other freshwater systems. Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, told the IoS yesterday that the state of the world's rivers is "a disaster in the making".

The UN's triennial World Water Development Report, compiled for an international conference in Mexico City which opens on Thursday, warns that "we have hugely changed the natural order of rivers worldwide", mainly through giant dams and global warming. Some 45,000 big dams now block the world's rivers, trapping 15 per cent of all the water that used to flow from the land to the sea. Reservoirs now cover almost 1 per cent of land surface.

The UN report says that demand for them "will continue to increase", but recommends that they should be barred from the world's remaining, undammed "free-flowing" rivers.

The United States has dismantled 465 dams in recent years, mainly for environmental reasons. But last week, in an abrupt U-turn, it signalled that it was about to embark on its biggest dam-building campaign in decades, when the Washington State legislature passed a bill to allow the federal government to build a series of dams on the Columbia, the West's largest river.

Global warming is endangering even the rivers that have largely escaped damming.

The relatively untamed Amazon was hit by its most serious drought on record last autumn. And salmon are dying in Alaska's Yukon River - the world's longest undammed watercourse - because its waters are getting too hot.

On Tuesday an international day of action will see demonstrations across the globe to draw attention to rivers' plight.

The world's great rivers are drying up at an alarming rate, with devastating consequences for humanity, animals and the future of the planet.

The Independent on Sunday can today reveal that more than half the world's 500 mightiest rivers have been seriously depleted. Some have been reduced to a trickle in what the United Nations will this week warn is a "disaster in the making".

From the Nile to China's Yellow River, some of the world's great water systems are now under such pressure that they often fail to deposit their water in the ocean or are interrupted in the course to the sea, with grave consequences for the planet.

Adding to the disaster, all of the 20 longer rivers are being disrupted by big dams. One-fifth of all freshwater fish species either face extinction or are already extinct.

The Nile and Pakistan's Indus are greatly reduced by the time they reach the sea. Some, such as the Colorado and China's Yellow River, now rarely reach the ocean at all. Others, such as the Jordan and the Rio Grande on the US-Mexico border, are dry for much of their length.

Even in Britain, a quarter of the country's 160 chalk rivers and steams - such as the Kennet in Wiltshire, the Darent in Kent, and the Wylye in Wiltshire - are running out of water because too much is being abstracted for homes, industry and agriculture.

This week an influential UN report will officially warn the world's governments of an "alarming deterioration" in the planet's rivers, lakes and other freshwater systems. Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, told the IoS yesterday that the state of the world's rivers is "a disaster in the making".
The UN's triennial World Water Development Report, compiled for an international conference in Mexico City which opens on Thursday, warns that "we have hugely changed the natural order of rivers worldwide", mainly through giant dams and global warming. Some 45,000 big dams now block the world's rivers, trapping 15 per cent of all the water that used to flow from the land to the sea. Reservoirs now cover almost 1 per cent of land surface.

The UN report says that demand for them "will continue to increase", but recommends that they should be barred from the world's remaining, undammed "free-flowing" rivers.

The United States has dismantled 465 dams in recent years, mainly for environmental reasons. But last week, in an abrupt U-turn, it signalled that it was about to embark on its biggest dam-building campaign in decades, when the Washington State legislature passed a bill to allow the federal government to build a series of dams on the Columbia, the West's largest river.

Global warming is endangering even the rivers that have largely escaped damming.

The relatively untamed Amazon was hit by its most serious drought on record last autumn. And salmon are dying in Alaska's Yukon River - the world's longest undammed watercourse - because its waters are getting too hot.

On Tuesday an international day of action will see demonstrations across the globe to draw attention to rivers' plight.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


During March and April the Soulforce Equality Ride is visiting 19 religious and military schools to give voice to those who can not speak up themselves because of oppressive school policies. Many of these schools expell lgbtq students who come out or are outed.

At military and religious colleges around the nation, bans on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender enrollment force students into closets of fear and self-hate. These bans devalue the life of GLBT people and they slam the door on academic freedom. The Equality Ride empowers young adults to challenge these college bans.

The Equality Ride will take 25–30 young adults on a seven-week bus tour to confront numerous religious and/or military colleges that ban the enrollment of GLBT students. At each stop along the journey the members of the Equality Ride will present a powerful case for GLBT equality.

The Equality Ride is a student-led effort that takes young adults into epicenters of intolerance and oppression to make a better tomorrow.

The goal of Soulforce is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.

The following story is from the Advocate.

Equality Riders handcuffed in Falwell's hometown

More than 20 gay rights activists were arrested on trespassing charges Friday as they tried to step onto the campus of Liberty University, the Lynchburg, Va., school founded by the Reverend Jerry Falwell. Many of the activists were part of the nationwide Equality Ride, a tour to promote gay and lesbian equality at the nation's conservative Christian universities and military academies. About 35 people, most of them college-age, are on the ride, which was organized by Soulforce, an LGBT rights group that focuses on religion-based discrimination and religious freedom.

Liberty University was the first stop on the Equality Ride, and Falwell himself had warned participants in advance that they risked arrest.

Invoking the memory of the civil rights movement, Soulforce member and Equality Ride codirector Jacob Reitan said, "We want to come to the school today to say, 'Learn from history.' We have a right to be here, because this school teaches that being gay is being sick and sinful. We have a right to question and to show how we are children of God."

Reitan and other Soulforce members said they did not intend to be arrested at the campus but just hoped to talk to Liberty students.

Some 60 people, including participants in the Equality Ride, gathered for the late morning rally on a sidewalk outside the school's main entrance. A music group played guitars and sang 1960s peace songs. Several Liberty students spoke to the Soulforce members. But the group didn't always find support.

Comparing homosexuals to drug users and adulterers, Liberty senior Tray Faulkner said the university disapproves of any alternative lifestyle. "I know you guys don't think it's a sin," he said. "We do."

Campus police charged all of those arrested with trespassing, and two faced additional charges of inciting trespassing. They were restrained in plastic handcuffs before being taken to a local magistrate.

Falwell, the university's chancellor, had warned the group that it would not be permitted on campus, saying he would not allow his school to be used for a media event aimed at raising money for gay rights. "Neither will we permit them to espouse opinions or otherwise suggest beliefs or lifestyles that are in opposition to the morals and values that this institution promotes," he said in a statement issued earlier.

Over the years, Falwell's various religious and political groups have used fear and condemnation of gay people to help raise an amount of money estimated in the tens of millions to help build his Lynchburg-based media, educational, and lobbying empire.

After Lynchburg, Equality Ride organizers Reitan and Haven Herrin told The Advocate before the ride began, they hope to visit at least 18 more religious and military campuses that bar openly gay and lesbian students.

Reitan, who is young adult coordinator at Soulforce, said that he had the idea for the ride after meeting a closeted gay student at a religious school. "Our hope is, we can have a productive day of dialogue [at each stop] about gay and lesbian issues."

Dispatches written by Reitan and other Equality Ride participants are scheduled to begin appearing in The Advocate's online edition the week of March 13.