Friday, August 03, 2007


It's time for today's OD story that no one cares about except some average Joes and Janes somewhere out there in the good ole US of A.

White Township is a township in Warren County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the township population was 4,245. It is part of the eastern most region of the Lehigh Valley.

Within the boundaries of the township lies Country View Village. A trailer park (or as we like to say a development of "factory built homes") which caters to people 55 and over in their retirement and pre-retirement years and offers recreation, socializing and someone else to do the outside maintenance.

A place where old folks with not a lot of money and who aren't ready to be warehoused somewhere go to try and live out their lives independently and with some dignity.

The place has 236 two bedroom homes along Route 516. Base prices for the factory-built homes, with 900 to 1,700 square feet of space, are $84,900 to $119,000 (or they were back when most of the residents purchased them ten years ago).

For a number of years the township had gotten $25 bucks a month from these folks as a service charge until they stood up and put a stop to it. No one else in the township was paying any such fee. In fact, a number of residents have had the gall to file a suit to get their money back. It means something to them.

The township decided recently they wanted these folks to hand over ten bucks a month as a service fee. They said it was only fair since they'd passed a measure requiring a five cent municipal tax.

Now ten dollars probably doesn't sound like all that much to you, but its a $120 a year residents, most living on fixed incomes, don't feel they can afford or should have to fork out.

And it's $120 for services they aren't getting.

Township leaders, I'd bet, never gave a thought to tacking a service charge on these people.

Americans living in parks like this across our great land don't exactly have a trailer park/factory home lobby looking out for them and their interests.

But in this case, the township ought to have known the people who fought with them before weren't going to just put the check in the mail without trying, at least, to raise a stink.

The following story comes from the Express-Times out of New Jersey

Fee-on-homes proposal protested
Country view Village residents out in force against $10-a-month fee.
Friday, July 27, 2007

Country View Village residents came out in force to Thursday's township committee meeting to protest a proposed $10-a-month service fee on their homes.

After residents spoke for more than an hour, the committee voted to table the fee proposal to its Aug. 9 meeting. The fee would apply to only residents of Country View Village, a 236-home age-restricted mobile home park.

Committeeman Jim Ashe suggested a $7-per-month charge would be more in line with municipal taxes township homeowners pay. Committeeman Sam Race said he would like to see information on what the park owner pays in property taxes to the township. Country View Village residents said they pay the owner's property taxes through their maintenance fees.

"I think they're being double-dipped," said Victor "Bud" Allen, a former committee candidate.

From 1991 to 2001, Country View Village residents were charged a $25-per-month service fee. The fee was dropped after park residents said the fee was unfair since township homeowners did not pay any municipal taxes.

Several park residents have filed a lawsuit against the township to seek reimbursement for the 11 years they paid the fees under those circumstances.

Now that the township committee authorized a 5-cent municipal tax this year, the committee again proposed the fee to be fair to all residents, members said.

Some park residents said it would be difficult for them to pay the fee as nonworking senior citizens.

"It's a lot to ask of a small community on fixed incomes," Ellen Infante said. "I think you should search your conscience and find a different way."

Resident Ernie Maso said the state statute allowing the fee says it should be imposed to pay for municipal services property taxes don't cover. Residents said the township does not provide any services for them since their roads are privately maintained.

"I don't think we owe you guys anything," Maso said.


Earlier this week, Chinese President Hu Jintao praised the great role and monumental contribution of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in safeguarding China's national sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and security.

The Shanghai Daily reported Hu paid respects to all "old comrades" who have made enormous contribution to China's revolution, development, reform drive and army-building.

"We are in profound memory of" the older-generation proletarian revolutionaries and militarists and numerous revolutionary martyrs whose "historic contribution will stay with mountains and rivers, and shine with the sun and the moon," the president said speaking at a workshop sponsored by the Central Military Commission for army veterans to mark the 80th anniversary of the PLA's founding.

The problem is like many other things in China today (and something most American's don't understand), what central government and Party leaders proclaim and what happens at the local level are simply not the same.

It seems that old PLA veterans are getting the shaft by local officials.

Although Hu has actually been trying to help out veterans and has often called out local leaders for their poor treatment of veterans, it seems he has little power to actually do anything about it.
Far be it from me to suggest such a thing, but maybe its time the President remind those local leaders what often happens to corrupt officials who screw the people, if you know what I mean.

The following is from Asia Net News.

No partying for veterans as Communist army turns 80

Discontent is growing among Chinese ex-soldiers. They accuse local governments of leaving them without work after dismantling war units, and of not paying them pensions as decreed by the central government, which fears the veterans’ protests.

On the occasion of festivities to mark the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Liberation Army, Chinese veterans say they have “little to celebrate” because “no one listens to their grievances or helps them to emerge from a tragic situation” of unemployment and poverty.

The government has demobilised 1.7 million soldiers in more than two decades. Between 1997 and 2000 alone, 500,000 troops were rendered redundant to aid the nation's “modernisation” drive. However, no alternative form of employment or social security has so far been found for these demobbed soldiers.

A veteran of the Navy, Mrs Chen, told the South China Morning Post about her odyssey: “I gave service for many years but when I was dismissed from active service I no longer received anything. What’s more, I have serious kidney problems now because I used to work with toxic substances. The government has never cared about this so I have tried to kill myself twice.”

After years of legal battles, Chen managed to get a council pension but not a military one: “Now I want to live, to be close to my only daughter. The only thing I ask is to be able to buy food, and medicines for treatment.”

Ex-soldiers put the blame most of all on provincial governments which, after having demobilized armed units in the wake of economic openings and subsequent industrial privatization, did not manage to supply new places of work to soldiers and also refuses to pay them the service insurance stipulated by the central government.

The matter has been taken up by President Hu Jintao himself, who since 2003 has been asking for the “highest commitment” to supply soldiers with an alternative job. He has also reminded local governments of their duty towards “protectors of the Homeland”.

But his call appears to have fallen on deaf ears. A group of veterans said: “It is the autonomous municipality of Beijing that ignores us most of all. They don’t seem to hear what the central government is saying.” This statement was confirmed by an AsiaNews source in the capital who said: “Here it is said that there is no communication between Zhongnanhai [the headquarters of the central government, a few metres away from the entrance to the Forbidden City] and the rest of the city. The two ignore each other.”

Beijing fears the veterans’ discontent. The Community Party has always seen the armed forces as an indispensable tool to keep its monopoly over the government, which has lasted for more than 50 years now. Thanks to the army, the revolt of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989 was suppressed. The army played a fundamental role in bringing about the end of the Cultural Revolution and the arrest of the Gang of Four.

In April, 1,500 retired officers and soldiers from 20 provinces wearing their old uniforms staged silent sit-down protests in front of the General Political Department of Beijing, a branch of the PLA which oversees personnel, propaganda dissemination, song and dance troupes and athletes.

The protest started on Monday 11 and ended on Wednesday 13 police and officials dispersed the protest by forcibly putting the petitioners on rented buses and sending them back to their hometowns. On the Wednesday, however, more than 400 retired soldiers gathered on the steps of the office of the department to protest.

It was the biggest protest by veterans in China since the 1949 revolution. An anonymous military source said: "The government was caught unprepared . . . It is worried that veterans will continue to link up and bring chaos to society.”

The Chinese government allocated US$ 60 billion to its military budget in 2004, but pensions for retired servicemen average 300 yuan (US$ 30) per month. One of them, decorated with 15 medals for bravery, said: “This is all I have left, after a life of service to the Party.”


The West Coast Convergence for Climate Action
Wednesday, August 8th - Tuesday, August 14th

6 days of low-impact living and high-impact action near the mouth of the Columbia River in Skamokawa, Washington.

With extreme weather, massive species extinctions, and melting ice caps becoming a more dire reality each day, it is high time for us to come together to take firm actions against the root causes of climate change.

Today, with large fossil fuel development projects planned at the mouth of the Columbia River, this iconic waterway is ground zero in the global struggle against the violence of the energy industry and for a livable climate future.

The West Coast Convergence for Climate Action will be situated near a community that is fighting a proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal on the Columbia River. Currently, LNG development is being met with local, community-based resistance due to the immense safety risks, environmental destruction, local economic impact, and social injustice related to this foreign fossil fuel. We are working with and supporting many of the local residents in their campaign against LNG, as well as with activists resisting dams, highway expansions, nuclear and other forms of dirty and unjust energy.

The convergence will be a space for celebration, for kids and families, a place to socialize with friends old and new. We intend to show that less energy intensive, less "stuff-centered" living is not just more environmentally friendly, but that less can be so much more FUN!

(2)Southeast “Convergence for Climate Action” to combine low-impact living with high-impact civil disobedience
Wednesday, August 8th - Tuesday, August 14th

What: The Southeast Convergence for Climate Action will be a week of trainings, workshops, and strategy sessions focused on building a no-compromise movement against the fossil fuel industry and “false solutions” to climate change like nuclear energy, “clean coal,” and carbon trading. The convergence will culminate in a massive day of direct action against fossil fuels and for climate justice.

When: August 8-14 (The 13th is reserved for direct actions and other protests.) Media are welcome to attend the convergence on Friday the 10th for site tours and interviews.

Where: On private land near Asheville, North Carolina. Directions available on request.

Why: Climate Chaos is here. In the face of rising sea levels, melting ice caps, government inaction, and corporations profiteering from market-based “solutions” that don’t work, regular people must act. The Convergence aims to promote a just, rapid transition away from fossil fuels; support the efforts of communities that are fighting dirty energy developments in their backyards – including new coal and new nuclear power plants; encourage non-violent civil disobedience as a means for challenging dirty energy and empowering the movement to stop climate change, and increase networking and strategizing amongst the diverse social justice and environmental movements fighting climate change, its false solutions and the energy industry.

Who: The Southeast Convergence is being organized by Southern Energy Network, Rising Tide, the Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS), and Energy Justice Summer. See our website for a list of co-sponsors.

Background: With mountain top removal coal mining ravaging the mountains and communities of Appalachia, a host of new dirty coal plants proposed for the region, and the nuclear industry attempting to re-establish itself as a “solution” to climate change, the Southeast is rapidly becoming a national sacrifice zone for cheap electricity. To counter this onslaught of dirty energy projects, the Southeast convergence will bring together a wide variety of people to share skills in community organizing, direct action, indigenous support work, sustainable living skills, grassroots disaster relief, and much more.

The Southeast Convergence for Climate Action is taking place in conjunction with a West Coast convergence targeting liquefied natural gas and a Camp for Climate Action at London’s Heathrow Airport. Each convergence location has been strategically chosen to support existing local organizing efforts against the fossil fuel industry.


One of those middle eastern countries we like to hang with and who we are in the process of sending millions of dollars in arms to (if Bush gets his way) has a police force second to none - when it comes to brutal methods anyway. They get their man or they kill someone else tyring.

Once again Egyptian police have tortured a man to death. This time because they were after his brother.

It was the latest in a series of human rights abuses reported in the country.

An Egyptian official speaking anonymously said police detained the man without charges and beat him severely.

The 35-year-old carpenter died of his wounds in hospital.

An interior ministry spokesman declined to comment, saying public prosecutors were investigating the incident.

Also this week, a Bedouin youth died Tuesday of bullet wounds he received during a clash between Bedouin and those zany Egyptian cops.

Auda Mohammed Arafat, 15, died in Arish hospital from wounds after Egyptian police violently dispersed a demonstration Monday of some 2,000 Bedouins protesting over fears that their houses near the border will be destroyed and calling for the release of their imprisoned brethren.

But, hey, they are only following up on the actions of some of their friends a couple weeks back who shot and killed a Sudanese woman and seriously wounded four others on the Sinai Peninsula as they tried to sneak into Israel.

The following is from AHN Global News.

Man Beaten To Death By Egyptian Police, Again

Egyptian police officers beat a man to death in Al Mansoura, a town in the Nile Delta region this past Tuesday, Al Masry Al Youm newspaper reported. Nasr Abdulah Al Sayeedi was the brother of a wanted man. Police held him and beat him in order to get his brother to turn himself in.

The villagers were shocked and grieved by the news, which led them to attack the police station, hurling stones and breaking windows.

The town is currently under siege by over 30 security trucks, armored cars and hundreds of soldiers. Over 70 men from the protesters were arrested after clashes between citizens and police continued until early Thursday.

Reports mentioned that police employed tear gas and live bullets and tens of people were transferred to a near by hospital with injuries sustained from the police actions.

Sayeedi, 35, a father of four girls heard screams from his modest apartment so he hurried only to find his mother on the floor and the police assaulting his wife and young daughters, eye witness told the newspaper.

"The officer nor the soldiers had mercy in their hearts, they dragged him [Sayeedi] onto the stairs in front of us, swearing and beating him furiously, until he was put in the police car," Hanem Al Saied, victim's neighbor told reporters.

After the victim arrived at the police station, the officers continued assaulting him until he was unconscious.

"We went to the police station to ask about him and maybe bail him out, [but] the officers refused to tell us about his condition and when we found him laying unconscious under a table, the police officer refused to call an ambulance so we carried him out by force to the emergency room where the medics there told us he was suffering from internal bleeding in the brain and must be operated on immediately," Amr Fatahy, victim's lawyer said.

Sayeedi died in the hospital the following day.

The torturing and the killing of civilians continues despite the community out cry to end it. They have urged the Ministry of Interior to prevent such actions from occurring. Many human rights organization say that these actions are taking place under the sight and protection of the minister himself.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


A whole bunch of folks around Richton, a small Mississippi town near Hattiesburg, got sick burning woodchips supplied by Powe Timer Company. They got nowhere with their complaints so they took the matter to court and convinced the judge that their claims were true.

Sounds like a good outcome, right?


The judge dismissed the suit he said because the testimony of their expert witness didn't meet State law as to what an expert's testimony should be. Huh?

Ain't that America.

The following is from the Hattiesburg (Mississippi) American.

Judge dismisses Powe Timber Co. lawsuit

Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Richton residents who claimed that they became ill from burning woodchips supplied by Powe Timber Co.

Helfrich handed down the summary judgment in favor of the timber company because the residents could not provide expert testimony that linked their illnesses to burning the woodchips that were chemically treated by the company.

Approximately 30 Richton residents listened Monday as members of their community stood in Forrest County Circuit Court and offered Helfrich stories about how their families and the families of their friends had been affected by illness.

Residents claim they came into contact with the plant's chemicals after bringing home scrap pieces of wood from telephone poles treated with preservatives to burn in their fireplaces.

Approximately 1,400 people have filed lawsuits in Jasper, Perry and Forrest counties against the company in the past 10 years. They claim a broad array of ills from inhalation of creosote smoke to touching of creosote treated wood chips.

"I just don't think it should be thrown out," former Richton resident Yvonne Powell told the court.

Helfrich explained the procedure set forth by the Mississippi Supreme Court prevented him from relying solely on allegations and complaints.

"You need to show evidence related to problems with the woodchips showing the defendants caused this," said Helfrich. "You can't simply come in and say you have a disease."

Helfrich repeatedly told the plaintiffs he believed their illnesses were real, but without the sworn testimony of an expert who could connect the woodchips to the plaintiff's health problems, he could do nothing.

Resident Ruby Husband presented a letter addressed to the plaintiff's lawyer from Vera S. Byers, a doctor with Immunology Inc. of San Francisco. In the letter, the doctor suggests smoke from the wood chips collected from the American Wood wood-treatment plant in Richton caused a number of illnesses among the 350 clients she evaluated. The letter, however, did not constitute the sort of testimony required under state law to halt the dismissal of the case.

"I'm not judging how this should or shouldn't be, just the way it is," said Helfrich. "I am required to grant this motion. I don't have a choice in the matter."

Residents lingered in the courtroom after the decision expressing their disappointment.

"We have no choice now but to take this to the voters," said Powell, who organized a protest march near the offices of American Wood in November. "These judges are ruling in favor of businesses. Once again, the people have lost."

Husband said she and the other plaintiffs plan to organize efforts to seek the attention of Congress.


Thousands of campesinos in Paraguay have been driven from their lands in recent years relating to vast changes being undergone in the field of agriculture there. Many who resist have disappeared or been murdered.

In the past decade, Paraguay has become the fourth largest exporter of soybeans in the world. The monoculture covers 2 millions hectares and it is estimated that the expansion has caused the expulsion of 90 thousand campesino families since the mid 1990s. Soy has grown exponentially since 2003 in Caaguazu, where 72% of the land it privatized, concentrating the campesino and indigenous population on what’s left.
Today, soy covers approximately 19% of the surface of the province. Paraguay has one of the most unequal land distributions in the world: 2% of holdings (approximately 6400 farms) occupy 82% of the arable land, even though 42.3% of the population still lives in rural areas. 46.6% of the population still lives below the poverty line, and studies show that there is a direct relation between soy expansion and rural poverty.

The actions of campesino organizations in resistance are making things complicated for the expansion of agribusiness and its corrupt foundations. Since the Supreme Court confirmed the legitimacy of the land occupations in Tekojoja, soy farmers fear the possibility of a large campesino offensive to take back land throughout the Caaguazu region. The campesino struggle is based on the defense of culture and Paraguayan identity. But it is also global in scope, since confronts the interests of global agribusiness, and the domination of corporations like Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer, Cargill, ADM and others

An example of what can happen to those who don't go along with their own demise is the case of Antonio Almada.

Almada left his house one night in the end of May in the company of a "friend." He was found dead the next day at the border of Highway 10 at approximately 1000 metres of his house.

The assistant district attorney of Curuguaty concluded in his report that the cause of death was a traffic accident. Nevertheless the family members say that Antonio Almada was tortured, shot and murdered. His corpse showed marks of beatings, ripped out nails, his genital organ totally torn away, and a bullet whole in the neck.

Some people living in the area afterwards said that they heard shouting in an abandoned house. Later at the house they also found blood stains and nails.

Sound like a traffic accident to you?

Earlier this month campesino activists accused US marines of the Southern Command stationed in their country and paramilitaires (including the government sponsored Guard of Citizen Security) of involvement in the disappearances of thirty individuals in previous four weeks.

The following is from Latinamerica Press.

Rural activists at risk
Gustavo Torres. Aug 2, 2007

The politically powerful and traffickers may be behind a series of murders and disappearances of campesino leaders.

Rural poverty in Paraguay is strongly linked to large-scale agriculture and major land owners. As social protest becomes criminalized, rural workers here are facing increasing danger, and even death.

The export-oriented development model based on agriculture present in Paraguay leaves large areas of land in the hands of very few individuals or companies, which not only affects campesino communities but also indigenous ones who face the loss of their land and forced displacement.

Large plantations are also managed by illegal groups — often tied to the political class — where there are marijuana fields and clandestine runways for contraband trafficking, including the illegal logging trade.

To the thousands of campesinos who leave their rural homelands every year for the sprawling shantytowns in urban centers in Paraguay or abroad — according to some studies 30 percent of the Paraguayan population has already emigrated — they face disappearances and even murder for trying to occupy unused lands, or blocking roads to voice their problems, including the country’s massive soy monoculture. Local drug trafficking rings and illegal logging on nature reserves are also among their complaints.

A high death toll
More than 100 campesinos have been killed in the fight for access to land since the fall of the 1954-89 Alfredo Stroessner dictatorship, says Maguiorina Balbuena, one of the founders of the Paraguayan Campesino Movement in 1980 and the National Coordinating Group of Rural and Indigenous Women in 1999.

Only one of these killings has resulted in a conviction. Peasant leader Esteban Balbuena’s killer was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The rest have gone unpunished.

Maguiorina Balbuena points to the murder of 25-year-old Antonio Almada, a rural youth leader who was a member of the Paraguayan Campesino Movement in the department of Canindeyú near the border with Brazil. On May 26 of this year, he was ambushed in his hometown, and tortured to death. His body was found 1,000 meters from his home, on a nearby road. The state attorney ruled the crime a traffic accident. His relatives, however, reported that his body had been beaten.

“His nails were pulled off, his genitals were blown off and he had a bullet hole in his neck. Several neighbors said they heard screams from a nearby abandoned house that night, where they found blood,” reported the Secretariat for International Relations of the Popular Socialist Convergence Party. The victim was a departmental member.

Faced with pressure from campesina organizations demanding justice, the state prosecutor has reopened the case.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


The E.Land Group, Korea's leading group of fashion retailers, is the target of worker ire and a sit in (see photo).

The dispute began on June 30 after E-land laid off more than 900 part-time workers to bypass a law preventing discrimination of temporary workers.T he firings violate provisions of a collective agreement between E-Land and unions, which state that those employed over 18 months would not face lay-offs. Many of the 900 workers were very close to two years service employment.

The law, which went into effect on July 1 amid mounting calls for revision from the labor community, worried about misuse of the law, requires companies to turn part-time employees who have been working for more than two years into regular workers and end discrimination toward them.

Opponents have long feared companies would choose to lay off experienced irregular workers and re-hire them as outsourced workers to escape immediate punishment for breaking the law and avoiding financial burdens to improve their job security. The E-land dispute widely is seen as a test for the law's future.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), a major umbrella labor group to which the E.Land union belongs, threw its support behind the striking workers, saying that its leadership will join in the protest.

"E-land, an anti-labor and antisocial company, is no longer qualified to operate in this country," Lee Suk-haing, chairman of the KCTU, told reporters earlier this month. "We will launch a full-scale campaign to boycott E-land stores to oust the company from the market," Lee said.

“The KCTU has consistently asserted that the new bill would lead to more irregular workers because the law, which was suppose to give permanent status to irregular workers, has left the door open to evade such measures, such as outsourcing and termination of contracts,” said the labour federation.

"It is impossible to engage in fair negotiations when the unionists are threatening the companies' businesses," an E.Land official said, requesting anonymity.

Recent statistics by the South Korean government reveal the number of irregular workers is growing. A 2007 study found that a full 35.5% of Korea’s 15 million workforce is in this category.

Sound familiar?

The following is from The Hankyoreh (South Korea)

Police break up second E-Land sit-in

Unionized workers of E-Land Group were once again dispersed by police intervention yesterday, after staging their second sit-in at one of the retail chain’s discount outlets. The law enforcement’s move has prompted an outcry from protesters, who pledge to further step up the struggle until their demands are met.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency dispatched approximately 5,000 riot police into one of E-Land Group’s retail outlets, New Core’s Kim’s Club in Seocho, dispersing 197 E-Land Group unionists who had staged the three-day sit-in beginning July 29. Those on strike are unionized workers of New Core, an affiliate of E-Land Group.

Unionized workers at E-Land began striking at the end of last month, after management laid-off approximately 900 non-regular workers, most of whom are female cashiers, in advance of the new non-regular workers’ protection law, which went into effect on July 1. The law stipulates that all non-regular workers be converted to regular status after they have worked for a company for a period of two years and gives companies a two year grace period in which to accomplish this task. Before the law went into effect, several companies moved to outsource their workers, prompting an outcry from unions.

Labor union members convened a press conference immediately after police action commenced and pledged to continue their strike. “Police should not have gotten involved in the labor strikes at E-Land, as it has little effect on the nation’s industries,” the union said.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), an umbrella labor organization to which E-Land unionists belong, held an emergency meeting and decided to stage concurrent strikes at E-Land stores across the nation on August 5, August 11 and August 19 to support the E-Land workers.

It also plans to organize a 1,000-strong demonstration team made up of non E-Land unionists to spearhead a sit-in in front of the outlet until the disputes are resolved. “We will hold a meeting to deal with the E-land case on August 21 and plan to step up the protest,” said Lee Sok-haeng, head of the KCTU.

Labor and management of E-Land Group restarted talks later in the afternoon on July 31, following the police crackdown, 12 days after the first round of negotiations had broken down on July 19. But they failed to find common ground and the talks ended without any progress.


Chinese authorities joined a growing international list laying the blame for increasing bizarre and severe weather in their countries on global warming.

Such extremes are likely to get worse and more common in the future, said Song Lianchun, head of the China Meteorological Administration's Department of Forecasting Services and Disaster Mitigation.

"These kind of extremes will become more frequent, and more obvious. This has already been borne out by the facts," he said at a news conference carried live on the central government Web site. "I think the impact on our country will definitely be very large."

Some parts of China have had too much rain, and others too little this summer.

About 7.5 million people are suffering from drought in a wide swathe of the country which includes Jiangxi and Hunan in the south to Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces in the northeast, Xinhua news agency said.

In Jiangxi, Hunan and Heilongjiang, more than one third of agricultural land has been hit, the report added.

Temperatures have been topping out at about 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), which has strained power grids.

Shanghai experienced its second hottest day on record on Sunday when the mercury touched 39.6 degrees Celsius (103.3 degrees Fahrenheit), with similarly high temperatures expected this week, the Shanghai Daily said.

Sunday's heat wave caused power and water consumption for the 17 million people of China's economic hub to hit all-time highs, which posed a "grave supply threat", according to the paper.

Weather forecasters are now expecting Shanghai to swelter through at least 22 days of temperatures above 35 degrees this summer, which would make it the hottest since records first were kept, the paper said.

Less water flows down China's two biggest rivers now than 40 years ago because global warming is drying up the wetlands that feed them, a state news agency reported Monday, citing Chinese scientists.

Meanwhile, storms in the northern province of Shanxi have killed more than 20 people and destroyed more than 4,000 homes. In one county of the province, it rained for 36 hours non-stop starting from Saturday evening.

Another 26 died and 26 were missing in the neighbouring province of Shaanxi after rainstorms over the past few days, while 21 were killed and 61 were missing in central Henan, Xinhua said.

But wait, how can this jibe with those reduced water flows just mentioned. "Aha," Rush Limburger Cheese will point out. Just another example of the lie of global warming. "It just doesn't make sense folks," he'll say and rattle some papers on his desk for effect.

Limburger Cheese will ignore the following.

"The increased rainfall didn't lead to more water flow in the rivers because the evaporation was so fast as a result of global warming," Li Shijie, a researcher with the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, said. The institute is connected to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

But who could believe them. They're just a bunch of Red Chinese Commies...

By the way, limnology is the study of in land waters. Who knew?

The following article comes from Xinhua.

China blames global warming for extreme weather

BEIJING -- China's top meteorological official has blamed global warming for extreme weather in China this year, urging concerned departments to improve emergency responses to reduce possible losses.

"Extreme weather has incurred frequent natural disasters such as rainstorms, floods and droughts across the country this year," said Zheng Guoguang, chief of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA).

Fierce rainstorms swept China this summer, triggering floods, landslides and mud-rock flows. Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality in the southwest recorded the heaviest rainfall in record while a year ago they were ravaged by all time high temperatures and severe droughts.

Almost half a million people have been evacuated from the projected path of floodwaters from the Huaihe River, which is expected to see its worst flooding since 1954.

Lightning strikes have killed 282 Chinese so far this year, according to the CMA. The administration reported 193 deaths between January 1 and June 25 which means nearly 100 people have died in less than four weeks.

Chen Yu, a senior engineer with the CMA's National Climate Center, said the death toll caused by lightning in the first half of the year was 252, 109 more than last year's same period.

China's death toll from natural disasters stood at a staggering 715 with 129 people missing by July 16, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Widespread and prolonged drought, which hit the country's north, northwest and southwest in the first half, left more than 12 million people and 11 million head of livestock short of drinking water and also affected 14 million hectares of arable land, among which 3.1 million hectares are sown to crops.

Meteorologists estimated that the heat wave lingering in the southern and southeastern regions are not likely to be relieved in the short term.


It's time for the OD report about just plain folk protesting.

This time its some people around Bethel, New York who would just like to get to the lake, but can't because of a gated community of well offers.

Friends of the Toronto Reservoir is planning a short march and what organizers describe as a “speak-out” on Saturday, August 4 at 11:30 a.m. Demonstrators will gather at Route 55 and Moscoe Road and walk to the gate at Chapin Estate on Route 55. They want to be able to get to the lake along a road now cut off by private development, huge homes, and a gated community.

In June 2006, the group demonstrated at the controversial gate on Town Road 62 blocking access to Toronto Reservoir, which is hidden from public view because of its remote location. According to demonstration organizer Mary Anne Burke, the group chose the more public gate this time with the goal of reaching more members of the public, and perhaps bringing their cause to the attention of residents who reside in Chapin Estate.

The developer of the gated community has been locked in a legal battle with residents of the community for more than four years over public access to Toronto Reservoir through private property within the development. Alliance Energy Renewables, which in May purchased the reservoir, and is charged with maintaining public access to it, has not yet indicated how it intends to handle the dispute.

The new gate was erected by Woodstone Development, which is trying to keep private the road into its tony Chapin Estates development. Toronto Reservoir, however, was owned at the time by the hydroelectric company Mirant Corp. (and now Alliance Energy), is required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to provide public access.

There's an entrance from Moscoe Road in Bethel, but the Smallwood entrance from Pine Grove Road leads to the preferred beach and boat launch. Woodstone's position on the matter, as expressed in a statement from their lawyers: Their property has no public access. All roads on the Chapin Estates property are private.

This brouhaha may not seem like much to you, but to folks who for generations have been able to go down to their little lake for a picnic or to fish or to swim or whatever, it matters.

These are certainly not the poorest folks in the world (or in the country, or in New York), and this is not the biggest issue facing all of humankind. The topic of lake access is, I'm pretty sure, unlikely to come up in a Presidential debate near you.

No, it's just another one of those everyday irritants that get people's dander up and deserve someone at least paying attention.

And like most everything else in America, class plays a part.

The following story comes from the Times Herald Record (Bethel, New York)

Gated beach entrance angers Bethel residents

Bethel — Once again, Bethel developer Steve Dubrovsky is facing protests. Last summer, it was 27 people holding signs saying he was a greedy developer. This Saturday the same protestors are coming again.

The issue of access to the Toronto Reservoir won't go away quietly for The Chapin Estate developer. Residents said they are not going to stop protesting until Dubrovsky removes a gate at the end of Town Road 62, once the most popular access point to the deep waters.

On Monday as a dress rehearsal to a larger protest coming Saturday, Mary Ann Burke and other residents stood outside the gated community of million-dollar homes in the heart of western Sullivan County, holding signs. This is becoming a recurring nightmare for the man who is marketing a quiet lake club retreat to Manhattan's doctors and corporation heads.

"Dubrovsky: locks out the public from the right to use the Toronto Reservoir," one sign said.

"Dubrovsky: tear down this gate."

Nothing has changed about the issue. Town Road 62 peters out about a mile from the Reservoir, and Dubrovsky owns the private road, and he put up a gate. For nearly four years now, Burke and other residents have been fighting Dubrovsky to remove it.

Dubrovsky has won some recent rounds. Last year, state Supreme Court Judge Robert Sackett ruled in his favor, saying he had a right to stop non-Chapin residents from tramping along his private road.

"The court has ruled against them on this access issue," Dubrovsky said in a release this week in response to the protesters.

"However this is a free country, and if they want to protest the courts decision, they certainly can."

To calm waters in the past, Dubrovsky offered to build a road to another access point. He and the town couldn't reach a deal. And as he pointed out, providing access to the reservoir is not his problem.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it is the dam owner's problem.

In this case, Alliance Renewable's problem. That company, which recently purchased the dam from Mirant, must provide two public access points, as required by their FERC operating licence. With the Smallwood entrance blocked, that leaves just one access point — off Moscoe Road on the other side of the lake.

"Nothing has changed," FERC spokeswoman Celeste Miller said. "They have to comply with the terms and conditions of the license."

Alliance did what it has frequently done since taking ownership of Mirant's dams this year: to not comment.

Dubrovsky, who is viewed by many in Sullivan as something of a savior for boosting the tax base in Bethel, is looked upon differently by his neighbors.

The bottom line, said Burke, is that for 25 years, any resident rich or poor could walk down Town Road 62, lined with lush trees, and eventually reach a white sandy beach, swimming holes and a trout stream flowing nearby.

That is, she said, until Dubrovsky put an iron gate across the road and big, red no trespassing signs along their walk.

Now only rich weekenders can get through.

And that's why protesters carrying signs will be camped outside The Chapin Estate this Saturday.


The Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago has been plagued by allegations of child abuse, unsanitary conditions and patronage for years. Yesterday area teens expressed their concern with an unusual protest at the Cook County Board president's office (see article below).

An editorial in the Chicago Tribune earlier this year stated:

Children languish there like warehoused animals, while millions of dollars are wasted on do-nothing jobs filled by unqualified workers and patronage stooges. ... Kids live in filthy surroundings, with little guidance, under the supervision of workers whose behaviors cheat the residents even more than they cheat Cook County taxpayers...

Children at the center face "an alarming risk of suicide and inadequate mental health services" and "a climate of fear and violence," say attorneys who represent them. Kids are beaten by staff members and other kids. Attorneys point to "a culture of chaos and incompetence" and "a persistent failure to provide basic necessities."

In June, describing ongoing conditions at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center as "unacceptable and dangerous," Northwestern University Law Professor Thomas F. Geraghty, who serves as the court-appointed "Next Friend" representing the interests of the youths housed at the facility, asked the Court to appoint a Receiver with complete, independent authority to oversee and implement needed reform to the troubled facility.

The children at the JTDC have waited many years for reform and cannot wait another day," said Professor Geraghty, director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at the Northwestern University School of Law. "The court should act with dispatch to appoint and empower a receiver to manage the facility and implement reforms -- reforms that will ensure that abusive staff members are kept away from children or dismissed, that a comprehensive, effective system exists to track the physical and mental health care needs of children at the facility, that these children have shoes so that they can attend school, and other very basic services."

"The chaotic conditions at the JTDC are hurting children - they must change," added Geraghty.

As evidence of problems at JTDC that remain unresolved at the hands of the County, Geraghty pointed to:

-- The critical lack of leadership at the facility -- currently the top leadership at the facility consists of an Acting Superintendent, a part-time individual on loan from the Department of Public Health and an assistant who is the sister of a County Commissioner and has no experience operating a juvenile detention center;

-- On-going abuse of juveniles and lack of oversight of staff previously found to have abused children -- three youth counselors were rehired who previously had been terminated for abusing young people, others who have been accused of abuse have not received training and oversight promised in the MIP, and the County still has not filled an internal position to investigate allegations of abuse;

-- Lack of mental health care services -- staffing in the medical and mental health departments do not meet minimum standards despite that fact that a high percentage of children at JTDC face serious mental health issues;

-- The lack of basic services for children -- the County still has failed to provide children at the detention center with the bare necessities, including adequate clean clothes and shoes required to attend school; and

-- Lack of any management comprehensive management and tracking system -- the County has failed to develop a meaningful, effective management system to track critical events affecting the children and staff in the facility.

"In June, it will be eight years that we have waited for County officials to meet the basic, human needs of our clients. Unfortunately, they have proven unable to carry out even the most basic reforms," said Colby Anne Kingsbury, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Yesterday, after years of resistance, the County Board approved transferring control to an outside administrator.

Whoever is running the facility, something obviously needs to be done right now, like today.

The following is from the Chicago Sun Times.

Teens' protest demands changes at juvy center

The two girls shyly walked through the large glass doors of Todd Stroger's office carrying a box, its flaps open to reveal the contents -- bright pink and green girls' underwear decorated with butterflies and flowers. Beneath those, checkered boxers for boys.

Confused staff at the desk glanced at the box and asked if the girls were making a donation.

"It's for the kids,'' they said quietly as more staff came charging out of a side office demanding the media following the girls get out.

Back on the other side of the glass doors, Ladonna Coleman and Nyelia Long, both 14, joined 50 other teens from the South and Southwest sides who visited the Cook County Board president's office to protest treatment of kids who are locked up inside the county's juvenile detention center.

Woes at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center have been well-documented over the last eight years since a federal lawsuit was filed to demand better conditions at the West Side facility. Complaints of physically abusive guards, unclean conditions, lack of mental health access and, recently, dirty underwear, have been detailed in several reports to the court. The donated underwear was for the kids at the center.

Outside control approved
"They're dirty, they have no clean underwear ... no clean bathrooms ... rats are running around, roaches,'' Chevonne Linear, 15, said. "I care because I am a youth myself. They're children, and they need to grow. They need love and care.''

The county and the attorneys who filed the lawsuit for the residents are nearing a settlement on turning over control of the center to an outside party. A hearing is scheduled for next week.

On Tuesday, the County Board approved transferring control to an outside administrator, pending court approval.

"Improvement of those conditions continues to be a top priority for the president,'' said Ibis Antongiorgi, a Stroger spokeswoman. "These are things that are historic in nature. We are moving forward and trying to improve those conditions. We have for many months now.''

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Authorities in Brazil have long expressed concerns over Reverend Sun Myung Moon Church's purchases in recent years of large tracts of land in South America, ranging in the hundreds of thousands of acres.

Five years ago, for example, the chief of the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform in Mato Grosso do Sul state, Celso Cestari, told the Folha de Sao Paulo daily that 15 out of 16 farms owned by Moon's followers in the region are not productive and could be included in the land distribution programme.

But as of now, nothing much has actually been done.

So some landless folks took matters into their on hands late last week.

The following is from the web site of Brazil's Landless Movement.

Brazil Landless Raid Reverend Moon Cattle Ranch

At least 100 landless people have taken over a ranch in southwestern Brazil owned by South Korea religious leader Reverend Sun Myung Moon and evicted his followers, said police on Monday.

The landless workers stormed onto the ranch Friday night, changing the locks on the gates, raiding the property's headquarters and kicking out everyone except a lone South Korean man who peacefully resisted, local media reported. The man later fell ill and was taken to a hospital.

The 7,410-acre (3,000-hectare) Jamaica Ranch was used mainly for grazing cattle by a few dozen members of Rev. Moon's Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, said Luis Carlos Bonelli, an official for Brazil's agrarian land reform agency, Incra.

Incra had claimed the Jamaica Ranch and two adjacent properties for landless farm workers in 2004, but a local prosecutor blocked a license needed to settle the workers and their families, Bonelli said.

Since then, almost 300 families have been camped out at the edges of the ranch, waiting to move onto the property and begin farming.

Rev. Moon and his followers have been buying land in the area since the 1990s and today own some 173,000 acres (70,000 hectares) in Mato Grosso do Sul, the western state where the Jamaica Ranch is located, Bonelli said.

The precinct chief for the nearby town of Jardim said the police would not try to evict the farmhands without a judge's order.

"From what we could see there were about 100 of them," said precinct chief Valdemiro Arguilheira.

A spokesman for Rev. Moon's federation in Mato Grosso do Sul was not immediately available to comment.


Malaria has been a scourge of humanity since antiquity. Every year it kills more than 3 million people.

Scientists believe there are about 515 million cases of malaria per year, which puts about a third of the world's population at risk.

The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that today alone 3000 children will die because of it.

Many who survive are often left with brain disease or paralysis.

It is a global outrage that dwarfs AIDS, the Indian Ocean tsunami or any current conflict, yet we barely register its existence.

More than 80 per cent of malaria deaths take place in Sub-Saharan Africa and most are among children under five years of age. An African child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.

Malaria is killing Africa's future.

In the last decade, the prevalence of malaria has been escalating at an alarming rate, especially in Africa. An estimated 300-500 million cases each year cause 1.5 to 2.7 million deaths, more than 90% of the deaths are in children under 5 years of age in Africa.

Last year the World Health Organization stated that up to 30% of Africa's malaria deaths are in countries undergoing emergency situations in which war, civil strife, food shortages and displacement affect large civilian populations. The disease is estimated to cost Africa US$12 billion in lost GDP every year.

Nigeria Federal Government released a report the other day that said an estimated N132billion is lost annually in Nigeria, due to malaria scourge and the huge cost of treatment, prevention and loss of man hours. It said malaria has been responsible for 60 per cent of outpatient visits to health facilities, 30 per cent of childhood death, 25 per cent of death in children under one year and 11 per cent of maternal mortality, making it even more of a killer disease that the much dreaded Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). In addition, the government report points out 70 per cent of pregnant women suffer from malaria and its accompanying complications such as maternal anaemia, low birth weight, still births and abortions.

Yet this disease is both preventable and treatable. The solutions are available. For just US$10, a child can be protected against malaria by a long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed net (ITN). And an infected child can be treated with Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).

Last week came some positive news. Maybe.

European medical authorities have approved modalities for ensuring that a new, low-cost anti-malarial drug is fast-tracked and delivered to African countries. The drug, dubbed Eurartesim, belongs to the Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs), and is a combination of dihydroartemisinin (DHA) and piperaquine, a combination that has been proven to clear the malaria parasites from the body in just three days.

Dr Ambrose Talisuna, field coordinator of the African Artekin Malarial Trial said: "Any new, cheap and easy to administer antimalarial drug is indeed good news."

In addition, a partnership between the Cuban government and South African companies may see pharmaceutical products used to treat infectious diseases such as malaria being developed locally.

Cuban embassy counsellor Enrique Orta yesterday said the country sought to develop further partnerships with local companies that would result in the transfer of knowledge to benefit South African citizens.

The following is from MISNA.


Malaria holds the economy of Sub-Saharan Africa in check suggests a WHO study. It showed that the GDP of sub-Saharan states in the reference year 2000 would have been about 32% higher had the disease been eliminated 35 years before. According to the WHO representative in Senegal, Antonio Pedro Felipe Junior, the presence of malaria and the fear of its further spread might compromise investment and tourist activity in most of the endemic areas. Last Saturday in Nioro, in occasion of the opening of the national campaign for the struggle against malaria, the WHO manager said that “the heavy economic burden caused by the disease constitutes a serious obstacle to development”. Junior expressed appreciation for the “diligence” of some countries, such as Senegal, which have been pioneers in the struggle against malaria and conforming to the Abuja declaration of April 2000. In that historic meeting, the governors of 44 African countries committed to undertake an appropriate action aimed to reinforce national health systems aimed at allowing a more rapid access to cure and especially to intensify the efforts to halve the cases of malaria by 2010.


I'm going to try and run stories of just regular folks and what they are pissed off about and what they might be trying to do about their concerns.

Community Care Connections in Winfield, Kansas provide home and community based services to the frail elderly, the physically dependent and private clients. The company is a division of Medicalodges Inc.

It is the subject of a small town protest with allegations of, "Medicaid fraud, sexual harassment, fraternization and wrongful terminations."

Most of the time working people just put up with all this stuff because they know there is really nothing they can do about them and because retaliation can be expected.

This time maybe its a little different. Someone is determined to make their complaints public.

Will it make a difference? I'd like to say I think so, but...we'll let's see what the Kansas Attorney General, a Democrat, does?

The following story is from the Winfield Daily Courier (Kansas).

Protest staged in front of Main Street business

A Winfield woman leading an effort to expose alleged fraud at a local company picketed outside the business Monday afternoon, hoping to raise awareness of the situation.

Georgia Wilson (see picture) is a former employee of Community Care Connections, a division of Medicalodges Inc., based in Coffeyville.

Wilson, along with three other former employees of the company, stood outside the business, located at 908 Main, handing out fliers claiming she has "evidence of Medicaid fraud, sexual harassment, fraternization and wrongful terminations."

The flier also states that the evidence and information pertaining to the crimes committed have been turned over to the company's corporate office in Coffeyville.

According to Wilson, she provided evidence of fraud to local company officials on June 9 and then later to the home office.

"A month later, a chain of events happened, and I realized they were covering their tracks, and that's when I went to Coffeyville," Wilson said.

Angie Best, agency director for the Winfield office, was contacted by a Courier reporter over the telephone Monday, and stated she was told by the home office not to comment on the matter.

Garen Cox, president and CEO of Medicalodges Inc., was unable to provide details on the information given to his office by Wilson, but he stated he was aware of the matter.

"This all came about so fast and so sudden," Cox said.

"We were unaware of the allegations until recently, and we haven't had a chance to look into them yet."

According to Wilson, she contacted the home office prior to picketing Monday afternoon.

"They requested me not to do the picket and that their investigation could take anywhere from three days to three weeks to three months," Wilson said.

Evidence has been given to the Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Unit of the Kansas Attorney General's Office, Wilson said, but the office was unable to confirm an active case on the matter as of press time.

Wilson is hopeful the problems facing the company can be cleared up without closing the office.

"It's a wonderful program, and I'd like to see it there for a long time, just ran right," Wilson said.

Monday, July 30, 2007


You think it would be too much to ask the thousands of bikers who converge on Sturgis every summer to try and steer a little clear of a site exceptionally sacred to Indian people?

On the Northeastern edge of the Black Hills, just a few miles from the small town of Sturgis, off Highway 34, lies one of the most sacred mountains to the Plains Indians from the United States and Canada.

Up to 60 different tribes traveled to Bear Butte to fast and pray. Separated by about 8 miles of prairie from the greater Black Hills, which are also considered sacred by these same nations of people, Bear Butte looks like a sleeping bear lying on its side with its head pointed toward the northeast.

People praying on the mountain would be disturbed by the sound of the bikes and the music, zoning restriction advocates claim. Local residents and ranchers have joined the effort to stop growth of the mega-biker bar phenomenon in the county.

From August 1-12 a spiritual encampment will take place at the base of Bear Butte during the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Participants will pray for the protection of Bear Butte.

Bear Butte was the focus of protest marches and demonstrations during the motorcycle rally last year. Protest participants and organizers were critical of rally-related developments coming closer to Bear Butte and unsuccessfully sought restrictions on that development from Meade County officials. They also asked bikers attending the rally to avoid driving to or past Bear Butte on Highway 79 to reduce noise and activities that could disturb the tranquility of the mountain and spiritual peace of worshippers.

Some of those who took part in the protests are now organizing the prayer gathering this year, which will coincide with the rally. The well-known motorcycle gathering is scheduled from Aug. 6-12, but really begins a few days sooner.

"We kind of put our efforts together to do something a little more peaceful," Brennan said.

The prayer-camp area will be near the entrance to Bear Butte State Park. Alcohol, drugs and weapons will be banned from the camp. Tape recorders and video equipment will be allowed only when and where authorized by encampment coordinators, a release by the working groups said.

News reporters will be required to check in with authorities at the gathering, to limit disruptions of the worshippers, Brennan said.

"We're not going to allow TV camera crews to just walk around," she said. "We will designate one or two members to deal with the media when they come. We just don't want people videotaping or taking pictures when people are praying."

The Northern Cheyenne Military Society will police the camp and work with local law enforcement officials to help keep order and maintain respect for the mountain, the release said.

Bikers for Bear Butte have released the following statement:

This letter is to all those well-meaning bikers who participate in the Sturgis Bike Rally in South Dakota, in August. We believe that the majority of you are not aware of the destruction the rally is causing to one of Indian peoples' most sacred sites, Bear Butte. Very few non-Indians know that for many centuries all the Tribes of the Great Plains worshipped and conducted sacred ceremonies at Bear Butte. It is a place for quiet prayers of thanksgiving and for seeking spiritual guidance with ancient ceremonies.

Probably most of you are unaware that returning Indian veterans of wars since before World War1 have made their way to the sacred mountain to pray, fast and give thanks for their safe return. And most veterans wouldn't know that the Cheyenne Nation has conducted ceremonies on Bear Butte during WW1, WW2, Korea and Vietnam to insure the victory for American forces. Bear Butte is where our young men and women go to fast and to learn and to test themselves for adulthood. Bear Butte is where our holy men and women have gone to seek spiritual knowledge for as long as our tribal memories can see into the past. Even today in this new millennium Bear Butte continues to be central to the spiritual and ceremonial lives of over thirty Indian Nations.

In 1940 the Sturgis Bike Rally began as a small group of people who got together to ride their bikes and enjoy the Black Hills area. In the decades since it has grown steadily and now it will attract over 600,000 participants on its way to one million bikers in the near future! At first most of the bikers were concentrated in or close to the town of Sturgis a few rode the approximately 10 miles northwest of Sturgis past the sacred mountain, but our people could ignore those ones as they prayed. As the rally grew (and city ordinances became more restrictive) it became financially attractive to move out of the city into the surrounding rural areas. Because Interstate 90 runs along the south and west sides of Sturgis most of the increased development has been on the north and east sides, towards our sacred mountain.

In 1982 an almost unbearable event happened that shocked Indian people across the nation. An entrepreneur developed a huge campgrounds/concert venue he called "The Buffalo Chip" at an intersection only four miles from Bear Butte! As the "Chip" grew into a major venue of events hosting Evil and Robbie Knieval and concerts with Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top, others have quickly sought to capitalize on its success and build even larger, noisier and bigger venues with which to reap the immense profits of the "Chip". Imagine trying to pray or conduct an ancient ceremony upon the mountain when rock concerts with mega-speakers blaring, are drowning out your words to the Creator. Every word from the speakers at the "Chip" can be heard from the sacred slopes of Bear Butte and now, to the horror of traditional Indian people, many more such destructive venues are bulldozing land and bringing in toilets to open enough biker bars and party venues to satisfy a million bikers.

Indian people have explored every avenue open to them to defend and protect our sacred mountain. We have petitioned, lobbied, protested and signed treaties. We have attended county meetings of every description and we have talked to Governors, Senators and Congressmen of every party and political persuasion. For a hundred-and-fifty years and more we have sought to find a way to protect this important part of our peoples heritage. At times it seemed as if the American government understood and would accede to our requests but each time what was promised has been later denied or taken away. The treaties were broken and politician's promises turned to dust and blew away on the first wind. Money and the greed for more money have overcome all our pleadings for justice and respect. The lands surrounding Bear Butte are once again golden in the eyes of the greedy just as they were when Custer announced gold for the taking in the sacred Black Hills. A rush is on to entice bikers to camp, drink their beer and spend their money in the ever larger and noisier campgrounds edging closer and closer to the sacred mountain.

Indian people are becoming desperate to preserve even small portions of our once peaceful and remote, sacred places across America.

We are not trying to close or stop the Sturgis Bike Rally or even to interfere with all the various things that go on there. We are asking that the Federal, State and Local governments enact and enforce a five-mile buffer zone around Bear Butte, to restrict the sale of booze within the zone and make sure concerts and other extraneous noise is kept away from the Mountain. To us that seems very minimal and reasonable, but our words have fallen on deaf ears once again and the county and state are allowing more and more destruction to happen always closer to Bear Butte. It must be stopped.

It is now our hope that we can turn to the customers of the bike rally, the bikers themselves, to ask that they help us in our efforts. We ask that all bikers who become aware of our struggle to observe our five-mile buffer zone. We ask all bikers to help us make all attendees of the Sturgis Bike Rally aware of our request and to help us encourage all the booze and concert venues too close to Bear Butte to close down and move away. We are asking that all bikers boycott the "Broken Spoke Saloons" until their owner Jay Allen formally withdraws his obscene proposal to develop a biker bar called "Sacred Ground" adjacent to Bear Butte.

We are asking that all "BIKERS FOR BEAR BUTTE" come together with Indian people to help us enact a buffer zone around Bear Butte and to help us inform all your brother and sister Bikers of the issue.

For Information and to Support this Grassroots Effort with Much-Needed Donations
Please contact Members of the Bear Butte International Alliance Working Committee:
Tamra Brennan 605-347-2061
Gilbert Brady 406-477-3175
Marcella Gilbert 605-624-9288
Phillip Gullikson 605-624-9288
Jay Red Hawk 605-347-4127
Anne White Hat 605-347-4127

Please consider sending your tax deductible donations to;
Bear Butte International Alliance PO Box 4232, Sturgis, SD 57785

The following is from the Casper (Wyoming) Star Tribune.

Group plans prayer camp

An American Indian group plans to hold a spiritual encampment at the base of Bear Butte during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally next month.

Tamra Brennan of Sturgis, a member of the working committee that is organizing the encampment, said it should not be called or considered a protest action.

"We're not going to do any marches or things like that," she said. "This is not a protest at all. It's strictly a peaceful prayer camp."

They'll pray for protection of the Butte that is held sacred by many American Indian tribes, as well as the protection of indigenous nations and their sacred sites. Prayers also will be offered for U.S. military personnel, nations that are being hurt by armed conflicts, the world's hungry, and the environmental effects of global warming.

Organizers will maintain the camp Aug. 1-12 on property owned by the Northern Cheyenne Tribe along Highway 79 on the west side of the mountain. The Sturgis rally is Aug. 6-12.

Bear Butte was the focus of protest marches and demonstrations during the motorcycle rally last year.

Participants and organizers were critical of rally-related commercial developments coming closer to Bear Butte and unsuccessfully sought restrictions on that development from the county. They also asked bikers to avoid driving to or past Bear Butte on Highway 79 to reduce noise and activities that could disturb the tranquility of the mountain and spiritual peace of worshippers.


Way back when during the Vietnam War I used to comment that I could understand why the government was less than kind to someone like me. I mean that was to be expected.

What I could not then, or now, or ever understand is the lousy treatment received by those who went off to war. I mean these were the men and women who did what their leaders asked of them and more and still were treated like crap when they got home.

After, during and between wars there is always some investigation into why health care for veterans is so crummy. Lots of reports or written. Outrage is expressed. Recommendations are passed on. Changes are made.

Come the next war its business as usual.
Iraq and Afghanistan have proven this again.

While Bush gets his intestines checked out and the trusted media waits breathlessly for the doctors reports, veterans just wait and wait and wait and wait...

In Seattle, folks took their feelings to the street yesterday.

Why they weren't even more angry is beyond me.

But hey, unlike most of us, at least they were out there.

The following comes from the Seattle Times.

Protesters seek better health care for veterans
By Keith Ervin
Seattle Times staff reporter

Veterans of the Iraq war marched at the head of a protest on Beacon Hill Saturday calling for an end to the war and full funding of veterans' health-care needs.

About 200 protesters chanted, "Fund the wounded, not the war!" as they walked along South Columbian Way past the Department of Veterans Affairs medical center.

The demonstration, supported by the union that represents local VA workers, drew veterans from several earlier wars. The march placed stronger emphasis on veterans' issues than did previous local protests.

VA Secretary Jim Nicholson announced his resignation earlier this month amid complaints about his agency's treatment of veterans' health complaints. The agency also was under fire for failing to correctly estimate how many vets would seek care, a large backlog in disability payments, the theft of 26 million veterans' personal data, and bonuses paid to officials responsible for a $1.3 billion budget shortfall in 2005.

Iraq veterans sued the VA last Monday, saying the agency was providing care only for a small portion of the hundreds of thousands of returning vets at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder. Chanan Suarez Diaz, president of the Seattle chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, said Saturday that soldiers suffering from PTSD are often told by the armed forces that they actually have personality disorders.

"Post-traumatic stress disorder is a big, very real danger, and the military is trying to curb the benefits servicemen get," said Suarez Diaz, whose tour of duty as a Navy medic in a Marine unit in Ramadi was shortened by wounds suffered from a rocket-propelled grenade attack in 2005.

"This war is for oil, at the cost of Americans' lives and innocent Iraqis' lives," Suarez Diaz said.

Evan Knappenberger, an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq, said he enlisted at the start of the war when he had "no idea what was going on." He became disillusioned when he clashed with superiors who weren't happy with his reports on civilian casualties and downplaying of armed clashes.

"I used to think it was good that we went in and deposed Saddam," Knappenberger said. "I've come to realize that nothing we've done there is good."

John Metcalf, a World War II Navy veteran, said he marched to end the war and help veterans.

The demonstration was organized by the Troops Home Now Coalition, which also held marches in January and March.