Friday, May 16, 2008


Oops - After getting this all together I realized it is several months old news. Oh well, its worth the read anyway.

Live near the Great Lakes? You might want to read the article below (following the OD introduction) which was taken from the Center for Public Integrity Web site.

In many states, citizens and scientists are accusing the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of failing to make the connection between public health problems and industrial sources of pollution -- even in the face of scientific evidence.

But the crime being committed goes far beyond that. In some instances, including a major study involving the Great Lakes and the millions of citizens (Americans and Canadians) who live near them is simply being covered up.

That report, "Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern," had been scheduled for release in July 2007 but was withheld. Many say that was because the reports conclusion were too scary.

Oh, and by the way, a few days before the report was slated to be released and was was pulled, its lead author, Christopher De Rosa, was removed from the position he held since 1992.

The 400-plus-page study, Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern, was undertaken by a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the request of the International Joint Commission, an independent bilateral organization that advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on the use and quality of boundary waters between the two countries.

After researching the question for seven years and a "revised" report has finally been released.

However, commenting on the "revised" report the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry a few weeks back said it could not draw broad conclusions about how industrial pollution in the Great Lakes region has affected human health.

That comment was a lie.

Great Lakes: Danger Zones?

For more than seven months, the nation’s top public health agency has blocked the publication of an exhaustive federal study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states, reportedly because it contains such potentially “alarming information” as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates.

The 400-plus-page study, Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern, was undertaken by a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the request of the International Joint Commission, an independent bilateral organization that advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on the use and quality of boundary waters between the two countries. The study was originally scheduled for release in July 2007 by the IJC and the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

The Center for Public Integrity has obtained the study, which warns that more than nine million people who live in the more than two dozen “areas of concern”—including such major metropolitan areas as Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee—may face elevated health risks from being exposed to dioxin, PCBs, pesticides, lead, mercury, or six other hazardous pollutants.

In many of the geographic areas studied, researchers found low birth weights, elevated rates of infant mortality and premature births, and elevated death rates from breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.

Since 2004, dozens of experts have reviewed various drafts of the study, including senior scientists at the CDC, Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies, as well as scientists from universities and state governments, according to sources familiar with the history of the project.

“It raises very important questions,” Dr. Peter Orris, a professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health in Chicago and one of three experts who reviewed the study for ATSDR, told the Center. While Orris acknowledged that the study does not determine cause and effect—a point the study itself emphasizes—its release, he said, is crucial to pointing the way for further research. “Communities could demand that those questions be answered in a more systematic way,” he said. “Not to release it is putting your head under the sand.”

In a December 2007 letter to ATSDR in which he called for the release of the study, Orris wrote: “This report, which has taken years in production, was subjected to independent expert review by the IJC’s Health Professionals Task Force and other boards, over 20 EPA scientists, state agency scientists from New York and Minnesota, three academics (including myself), and multiple reviews within ATSDR. As such, this is perhaps the most extensively critiqued report, internally and externally, that I have heard of.”

Last July, several days before the study was to be released, ATSDR suddenly withdrew it, saying that it needed further review. In a letter to Christopher De Rosa, then the director of the agency’s division of toxicology and environmental medicine, Dr. Howard Frumkin, ATSDR’s chief, wrote that the quality of the study was “well below expectations.” When the Center contacted Frumkin’s office, a spokesman said that he was not available for comment and that the study was “still under review.”

De Rosa, who oversaw the study and has pressed for its release, referred the Center’s requests for an interview to ATSDR’s public affairs office, which, over a period of two weeks, has declined to make him available for comment. In an e-mail obtained by the Center, De Rosa wrote to Frumkin that the delay in publishing the study has had “the appearance of censorship of science and distribution of factual information regarding the health status of vulnerable communities.”

Some members of Congress seem to agree. In a February 6, 2008, letter to CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding, who’s also administrator of ATSDR, a trio of powerful congressional Democrats—including Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee, chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology—complained about the delay in releasing the report. The Center for Public Integrity obtained a copy of the letter to Gerberding, which notes that the full committee is reviewing “disturbing allegations about interference with the work of government scientists” at ATSDR. “You and Dr. Frumkin were made aware of the Committee’s concerns on this matter last December,” the letter adds, “but we have still not heard any explanation for the decision to cancel the release of the report.”

Canadian biologist Michael Gilbertson, a former IJC staffer and another of the three peer reviewers, told the Center that the study has been suppressed because it suggests that vulnerable populations have been harmed by industrial pollutants. “It’s not good because it’s inconvenient,” Gilbertson said. “The whole problem with all this kind of work is wrapped up in that word ‘injury.’ If you have injury, that implies liability. Liability, of course, implies damages, legal processes, and costs of remedial action. The governments, frankly, in both countries are so heavily aligned with, particularly, the chemical industry, that the word amongst the bureaucracies is that they really do not want any evidence of effect or injury to be allowed out there.”

The IJC requested the study in 2001. Researchers selected by the ATSDR not only reviewed data from hazardous waste sites, toxic releases, and discharges of pollutants but also, for the first time, mapped the locations of schools, hospitals, and other facilities to assess the proximity of vulnerable populations to the sources of environmental contaminants. In March 2004, an official of the IJC wrote to De Rosa to thank him for his role in the study, saying that he was “enthusiastic about sharing this information with Great Lakes Basin stakeholders and governments,” and adding, “You are to be commended for your extraordinary efforts.”

Unlike his Canadian counterpart, however, the ATSDR’s Frumkin seems anything but thankful. De Rosa, a highly respected scientist with a strong international reputation from his 15 years in charge of ATSDR’s division of toxicology and environmental medicine, was demoted after he pushed Frumkin to publish the Great Lakes report and other studies. De Rosa is seeking reinstatement to his former position, claiming that Frumkin illegally retaliated against him. Phone calls to ATSDR seeking comment about the pending personnel dispute were not returned.

“I think this is really pretty outrageous, both to Chris personally and to the report,” Dr. David Carpenter, a professor of public health at the State University of New York at Albany and another of ATSDR’s peer reviewers, told the Center for Public Integrity.

Some members of Congress have also taken De Rosa’s side. That same February 6 letter to Gerberding, which was co-signed by Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina, chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Science and Technology Committee, and Rep. Nick Lampson of Texas, chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, expressed concern that “management may have retaliated against” De Rosa for blowing the whistle on ATSDR’s conduct related to this investigation and another involving work on formaldehyde in trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “The public is well served by federal employees willing to speak up when federal agencies act improperly, and Congress depends upon whistle blowers for effective oversight,” the letter states. “We will not tolerate retaliation against any whistle blowers.”

Barry Johnson, a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service and a former assistant administrator of ATSDR, told the Center that before he left in 1999 he recommended that the agency investigate the dangers that chemical contaminants might pose to residents of the Great Lakes states.

“This research is quite important to the public health of people who reside in that area,” Johnson said of the study. “It was done with the full knowledge and support of IJC, and many local health departments went through this in various reviews. I don’t understand why this work has not been released; it should be and it must be released. In 37 years of public service, I’ve never run into a situation like this.”


Sheila Kaplan is a journalist who divides her time between Washington, D.C., and Northern California. Research support for this story was provided by the Nation Institute Investigative Fund.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Motorcycle-riding assassins shot dead the spokesperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Southern Mindanao, as he was preparing to leave for Compostela Valley Thursday, the human rights group Karapatan and police authorities said.

Celso Pojas, also chair of the Farmers Association of Davao City (FADC), was buying cigarettes near his office in Barangay Ma-a here when attacked by two gunmen around 6 a.m., Kelly Delgado, Karapatan secretary general for Southern Mindanao, said.

His colleagues at the FADC said they were preparing to leave for Compostela town in Compostela Valley to look into the plight of lumad evacuees there when Pojas excused himself to buy cigarettes.

Pojas’s colleagues inside the FADC-KMP office said they heard four gunshots. A witness said Pojas was still able to run toward the office, crying for help. He fell to the ground just before reaching the gate.

Investigators from the Talomo Police Station said Pojas was hit in his right rib and in his left arm. Police said they also recovered two caliber .45 shells in the scene.

Pedro Arnado, KMP vice chair for Southern Mindanao, said the group does not have any suspect other than the military.

“This is a case of extrajudicial killing done at the height of KMP’s campaign against militarization of farmers and lumad (indigenous) communities in Compostela Valley,” Arnado said.

Shortly before he was shot, Pojas was preparing to leave for Compostela town in Compostela Valley province to attend to peasant and lumads who had evacuated from the hinterlands due to intensifying military operations, according to the KMP. Pojas, the group said, had been receiving death threats since December last year.

A brother-in-law of Pojas added “And that he was a staunch critic of the government’s anti-people policy, on top of his recent public appearances where he lambasted the military operations in Compostela Valley as it had adversely affected the sector that is closest to his heart, could very well be the reason for his death.”

Pojas was set to go to Compostela with Delgado this morning after receiving reports that soldiers had allegedly entered last night the municipality gymnasium where some 300 evacuees had sought refuge since Tuesday.

Celso Pojas was the 14th activist killed in the Philippines this year and the 903rd since President Gloria Arroyo assumed office in 2001. Local and international groups, including the United Nations, have condemned the Arroyo regime for the series of extrajudicial killings in the country.

One sign of what is going on is the issuing of silencers to special military groups.

“The procurement of this kind of firearms is just for special ops,” says Scout Ranger officer who requested to remain anonymous.

The officer, who requested anonymity for obvious reasons, told the Phillipines Daily Inquirer his unit received the guns three years ago, along with an “order of battle” listing the names of state enemies for “neutralization.”

One active general says military officers resort to political executions because the government is apparently tolerating it. “It’s a good accomplishment for them,” he says of his colleagues.

“Apparently, these people are acting on the basis of how to please her,” the general says, referring to Ms Arroyo.

Both the active and retired generals whom the Inquirer spoke to said that all one had to do was to take note of the President’s “body language.”

The Scout Ranger officer who said he got a gun with a silencer says men in uniform are trained to follow orders. The military “discourages” political and social awareness, making it easy for some to kill an enemy, he says.

The following reports comes from MISNA.


Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead the spokesman of the KMP (Farmers Movement of the Philippines) in Davao, in southern Mindanao. Celso Pojas, who was also chairman of the Farmers Association of Davao City (FADC), was shot three times at around 6:30 a.m this morning outside his office. “He was killed for his opposition to the militarisation of peasant and lumad communities in the southern Mindanao region”, said the KMP leader Rafael Mariano. Pojas’s colleagues say that his killing is part of a military campaign to silence all critics of a government proposal to arm farmers to fight the communist rebellion in the region. “Since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001, over 1,000 people have been victims of extra-judicial killings, 105 were KMP members”, continued Mariano. The government’s failure to take any substantial action in face of the long string of political killings, mainly targeting extreme left activists, farmer association leaders, but also many civil society representatives and journalists, is among the most controversial aspects of Arroyo’s presidency. An independent fact-finding commission headed by the former Supreme Court judge Jose Melo last year drew up a report attributing a majority of the killings to “military elements”, calling on the President to take the necessary measures.


Greek workers are noted for their militancy and they've demonstrated that again as they've pretty much closed the place down in protest over government privatisation schemes. The worker actions and strikes disrupted air transport, bank and state services on Thursday.

The partial sale of phone company OTE was just one of the privatisations that thousands of Greek workers protested against when they went on strike and took to the streets. That sale is the centerpiece in the privatization plan of the governing conservatives, who won re-election last September and now hold a small majority among the 300 seats in the Greek Parliament.

“The government’s sell-off of OTE to Deutsche Telekom, despite opposition from the majority of society, is like putting up a ‘for sale’ sign on the future of the country,” said Dimitris Stratoulis of Synaspismos Left Coalition.

The head of the phone company union Panayiotis Kourtis told EuroNews: "It's treachery, this deal, they're handing over public property. We've repeatedly protested. But unfortunately the government prefers to pander to foreign company bosses. OTE's being given away to Deutsche Telekom, without the Greek people getting any of the money."

Commented Stathis Anestis, GSEE (Greece’s largest union group) spokesman.
"We want to stop the sell-off of these companies, which will lead to job cuts, low quality of services and increased product prices. This is only the first step. We will certainly continue with more strikes in the near future.”

M and C reports ships remain anchored at the ports of Pireaus near Athens and in the northern port city of Thessaloniki and state carrier Olympic Airlines cancelled 40 flights and rescheduled another 24.

Greek private air company Aegean also cancelled 28 flights and changed departure times for another 52 as air traffic controllers held a four-hour walkout.

Dock workers have been conducting their own campaign against privatization for w while now and joined in today's actions. The strike by dock workers who fear the privatisation of the nation's ports will lead to job cuts has also been backed by workers at post offices, banks, the Hydro Company, Athens Water Company, ambulance and hospital employees, where workers also held work stoppages.

Also joining in the fun is the bank workers' union OTOE, which has called a 24-hour nationwide strike at banks that have refused to take part in negotiations for a collective labour agreement in the banking sector. Among these are National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, Probank, FBB, HSBC, BNP Paribas, Citibank, American Express, Hellenic Bank and Bank of Cyprus.

In Athens, police fired tear gas to prevent the striking bank employees from entering the headquarters of the National Bank of Greece..

In addition thousands of students staged a separate action against recent reforms in state universities.

The following is from (Australia)

Greeks march against privatisations

THOUSANDS of Greek workers walked off the job today and marched through central Athens in protest at the conservative government's privatisation plans.

Dock workers, hospital and civil aviation authority staff and workers at Greece's biggest phone company OTE walked out a day after the government agreed to sell a stake in OTE to Deutsche Telekom and share management with the German firm.

"This is how workers show their discontent with the government's sell-out policy," said Stathis Anestis, spokesman for the GSEE private sector umbrella union.

Dozens of flights were grounded and public offices were shut, as an estimated 3500 protesters marched peacefully to parliament, holding banners reading "enough of reforms" and chanting "public property is not for sale".

Private and public sector unions, representing more than 2.5 million workers, pledged more strikes against privatisation, adding to pressure on the government which is pushing through difficult reforms with a slim majority in parliament.

"Workers have agreed to escalate the fight because they believe the government was elected on a platform to strengthen the economy and not to sell it off," Mr Anestis said.

OTE labour unions have already pledged more strikes to protest against the deal with Deutsche Telekom, which is awaiting parliamentary and regulatory approval.

"We hope parliamentary deputies will resist and not ratify this disgraceful agreement," OTE's union said. "Our fight will become stronger and more determined."

The government, with only 151 deputies in the 300-seat government, hopes to privatise several other state-run concerns, including the main commercial ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, to reduce public debt and increase competitiveness.

Although faced with labour unrest for months, first over pension reforms and now privatisations, the ruling party is expected to approve the deal.

Dockers have staged repeated strikes and refused to work overtime since the beginning of the year, causing serious delays in goods processing as containers pile up. They fear any sell-off will lead to job cuts.

They were backed by three-hour work stoppages at state carrier Olympic Airways, by air traffic controllers, by post office workers, and at electricity utility PPC, the Athens Water company and banks.

The controllers' and Olympic's strikes forced the carrier to scrap 40 flights to and from Athens and reschedule another 16 international and domestic flights.

Aegean Airlines cancelled 28 flights, most of which were domestic.

But truckers said today they had ended a 10-day strike which had dried up fuel supplies and caused long queues at filling stations, disruptions to businesses and transport and product shortages.

"Our demands haven't been fulfilled but we are suspending the strike, because we feel a social responsibility. We will give the government time to reconsider our demands," said Angelos Falaris, general secretary of the fuel truckers' union.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


The Tigua Tribe of Texas won't be able to access a sacred site once the federal government builds a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The tribe conducts ceremonies in the Rio Grande. The planned fence, however, will block access to the river.

Opposition to fence by the Indians has run directly into the Department of Homeland Security which last month issued a waiver to ignore a slew of environmental and historic preservation laws and build that damned fence.

The Dallas Morning News reports that 28 separate federal laws were waived in order for Homeland Security to build the Texas-Mexico border fence.

By the way, the Tigua are not alone amongst Indian nations having problems with the fence.

A 75 mile stretch along the Arizona border will divide Tohono O’odham territory leaving about 1,400 tribespersons south of the fence and separated from 14,000 others as well as from medical and health services and jobs.

The Tennessean writes, in section 102c of the Real ID Act of 2005, Congress reinstituted "monarchial" power in the United States for the first time since the American Revolution.

The clause gives the Homeland Security Secretary, "...the authority to waive … all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section."

This Act means that a planned appeal about the Texas wavers may go nowhere. The Act states, "no court … shall have jurisdiction to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security" with regard to the waiver(s) he issues."

Didn't we fight a revolution or something back in the 1700s about this sort of thing?

Again from the Tennessean:

"In the Declaration of Independence, hailed as the archetypal exhibition of American spirit and pride, the signers thereof brazenly declared to the English king that a government is created to secure the rights of the people and derives its power from them. And "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it."

The following story is from the El Paso Times.

Planned border wall blocks Tiguas from sacred grounds
by Brandi Grissom

Proposed border fencing in El Paso could cut off the Tiguas' access to parts of the Rio Grande the tribe has used for centuries to conduct sacred ceremonies.

"It is an infringement on our First Amendment right of freedom of religion," Tigua War Captain Rick Quezada said this week.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is working to build 670 miles of fencing along the border by the end of this year. That plan includes about 57 miles of barrier starting at Socorro and extending east of the Fabens port of entry.

Federal officials said they were meeting with the tribe and many other communities in Texas where opposition to the fence is widespread.

The Tiguas have been conducting sacred ceremonies in the Rio Grande for more than 300 years, Quezada said. It's where the tribe starts its calendar year, inducting elected tribal officers, and where they conduct naming ceremonies.

They use a section of the river that stretches from the Ascarate area to Fabens.

The Department of Homeland Security's fence plans would cut off the tribe's access to the river.

"That's one of the biggest concerns," Quezada said, "our continuous practice of our culture and our religion."

Typically, governmental agencies are required to respect customs, traditions and ceremonies of Native Americans under the federal American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

Tigua objections to a proposed Lee Treviño extension from North Loop to the César Chávez Border Highway that would have encroached on sacred land sent El Paso city leaders looking for alternatives to solve traffic problems in that area.

Last month, though, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he would use waivers to sidestep about 30 laws and ensure the fencing could be completed this year. One of the laws Chertoff said he would ignore is the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

That announcement was one reason U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, signed onto a legal brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the waivers.

Reyes and 13 other congressmen submitted a brief in a legal challenge filed in March against Chertoff by the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife. They want the court to rule unconstitutional the law that allowed Chertoff to circumvent other laws to get the fence built.

"It is irresponsible for DHS to sidestep more than 30 federal laws, including those designed to protect Native Americans' access to sacred sites," Reyes said.

He said he has met with tribal Gov. Frank Paiz and is urging Homeland Security to respect the Tiguas' ceremonial customs.

Ramiro Cordero, a spokes man for the U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector, said federal officials were working with the tribe to find a solution to their concerns.

"We've been meeting with the Tiguas just like we've been meeting with other groups," he said.

And there are many other groups on the Texas border that have concerns over the fence and possible damage it could do to the environment, to local economies and to relationships with friends, family and neighbors in Mexico.

In El Paso, both the City Council and the County Commissioners Court have passed resolutions opposing the fence.

The manager of Rio Bosque Wetlands Park has said the fence could undo nearly a decade of work to restore habitat and wildlife in the area.

The Texas Border Coalition, a group of elected officials and business leaders from across the border, has repeatedly asked Homeland Security to work more closely with local governments and to consider alternatives to the massive barrier.

Homeland Security officials and Chertoff maintain that they have discussed the fence plans with border communities and that their concerns will be taken into account. But, they have said, the fence must be built to ensure national security and curb illegal immigration.

El Paso County Commissioner Veronica Escobar said federal officials haven't done enough talking with border residents and are plowing forward with a costly plan that will not stop the flow of undocumented workers or drug and human traffickers into the United States.

"We want to be consulted," she said. "We want to have a voice, and we want meaningful solutions."


The announcement by Washington University in St. Louis that it planned to give Phyllis Schlafly, a leader of the national conservative movement since the 1960s, an all around hate monger, and idiot, an honorary doctorate has galvanized students who take offense with her anti-women and homophobic stances to speak out.

Schlafly is an arch foe of the Equal Rights Amendment, the United Nations, Darwinism and virtually any other ideas or institutions that have emerged since the Dark Ages. She has advocated banning women from traditionally male occupations like construction, firefighting and the military; and defended men's property rights over their wives' vaginas ("by getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape").

Many of those who are asking the university to reverse their plan say their protest is not about free speech. They are simply protesting the university's honoring of her and her despicable ideas, not her right to speak them.

Many of Schlafly's views go against "some of the most fundamental principles for which the university stands" such as tolerance for people of all different backgrounds, Sally Goldman, president of the university's Association of Women Faculty said.

Dan Tilden, a graduating senior and a leader of the protest told the schools student newspaper, "She is not representative of the community we want to build here. She has made statements that go against the basic tenets of the University. I couldn't sit in commencement as a senior and do something that is recognizing her not as a politician but as a person."

Michael Murphy, a lecturer in the Women and Gender studies department, said, "Don't think that the very possibility of a disruption to the University's most solemn event (commencement) would not sway the University."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Monday that Mary Ann Dzuback, the director of the women and gender studies department, would not take part in commencement exercises, along with several other members of the department.

A Facebook group, entitled "No honorary doctorate for anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly," has gained more than 1,000 members since being formed a week ago. In comparison, a group supporting Schlafly, entitled "In Support of Phyllis Schlafly's Honorary Degree from Wash U," has approximately 25 members.

Schlafly said of those opposing her receiving an honorary degree, “They are a bunch of bitter women. It was 25 years ago that we buried the Equal Rights Amendment and they are still whining about it.”

Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton sent an e-mail to the university community this afternoon in which he apologized for the anguish that the university's decision to honor Phyllis Schlafly has caused for many people. However, he said they were still going ahead with the plan.

"Personally, I do not endorse her views or opinions, and in many instances, I strongly disagree with them," Wrighton said.

Isn't that nice?

The Post Dispatch reports about 25 students and faculty members protested outside Chancellor Wrighton's residence on Tuesday afternoon (see picture) , chanting and holding signs that said, "This school teaches evolution" and "Marital rape is still rape" in response to some of Schlafly's controversial statements on those subjects.

One of the protestors David Lawton, chairman of Washington U.'s English department, said he was particularly offended by one of Schlafly's columns in which she wrote that she was not surprised to learn that Cho Seung-Hui, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech, was an English major since she had heard that English departments are hotbeds of radicalism.

The protesters plan to return outside the chancellor's house today.

In a letter to Wrighton, 14 Washington U. law professors said they were "extremely disappointed" in the university's decision to honor Schlafly. They wrote that she has berated scientific inquiry, shown bigotry toward gays and lesbians, and led campaigns to "undermine the independence of the judiciary."

"Our objection to honoring Ms. Schlafly ... stems from the fact that she has devoted her career to demagoguery and anti-intellectualism in the pursuit of her political agenda," the letter says.

The letter adds, "An even more important reason to rescind the degree offer to Ms. Schlafly is that her repeatedly expressed views are antithetical to some of the most fundamental principles for which this University stands."

Below are a few gems from the mouth of the women the university plans to honor.

“It’s very healthy for a young girl to be deterred from promiscuity by fear of contracting a painful, incurable disease, or cervical cancer, or sterility, or the likelihood of giving birth to a dead, blind, or brain-damaged baby (even 10 years later when she may be happily married)”

“Many years ago Christian pioneers had to fight savage Indians. Today missionaries of these former cultures are being sent via the public schools to heathenize our children.”

“Men should stop treating feminists like ladies, and instead treat them like the men they say they want to be.”

“Sex education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions.”

“Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women.”

“[The] ERA mean[t] abortion funding, mean[t] homosexual privileges, mean[t] whatever else”

“When will American men learn how to stand up to the nagging by the intolerant, uncivil feminists whose sport is to humiliate men?”

You can let Chancellor Wrighton know what you think by emailing him at

The following is from the St. Louis Examiner.

Protesters demand honorary degree for Schlafly be rescinded

Protesting students and faculty are demanding that Washington University rescind the honorary degree it plans to give conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly on Friday.

They gathered Wednesday outside Chancellor Mark Wrighton's residence and his office, chanting and holding signs.

They say they're not protesting Schlafly's views, but the university's honoring those views.

The university has said the honorary degree is a recognition that the 83-year-old's life and work have had an impact on American life.

Schlafly, who holds two degrees from Washington University, does not plan to speak at Friday's commencement ceremony.

She called the protesters "a bunch of losers."


Some 400 demonstrators pushing for land reform blocked and disabled a key iron ore export railway in Brazil for several hours before moving out as police arrived on Wednesday.

The Carajas railroad run by Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), the world's biggest iron ore miner, transports 300,000 metric tons of iron ore per day from one of its main mines there.

The Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) and the mine workers invaded the tracks near the town of Parauapebas in northern Para state in the lower Amazon basin. The group has spearheaded several other actions against Vale to pressure the government to speed up its land reform program.

According to a statement issued by Vale, the protesters pulled out 1,200 track clamps, slashed fiber optic communication cables and placed burning tires on the tracks, damaging more than 300 ties. Guedes said the railway was still inoperative.

The blockade is also part of an on going campaign for nationalization of resources.

NACLA points out Brazil lags far behind her left-leaning neighbors in government initiatives that bring privatized national resources back into the public domain. In recent months, however, Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) and other groups have launched mass actions that demand similar moves toward national resource sovereignty.

The MST, which has spent the last 20 years developing a massive direct-action approach to demand agrarian reform, has now committed itself to helping Brazil rethink the control of national resources. With over 350,000 MST families living in direct-action secured agrarian reform settlements, and an additional 120,000 families currently living on occupied estates, the MST has called on its members to lead the fight for a new wave of state-led expropriations.

Established in 1942, NACLA reports CVRD was a successful and profitable state-owned company, but it was auctioned off in 1997 during a wave of privatizations encouraged by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Sold for $3.3 billion in 1997, the CVRD’s own estimates were that its market value was closer to $40 billion. To put these figures in perspective, CVRD’s market value as of June 30, 2007, was $103billion, with second- and third-quarter profits this year at $4.1 and $2.6 billion, respectively.

The MST’s demands for re-nationalizations are not beyond the scope of its central grievance of land reform, writes NACLA. Movement leader João Pedro Stédile in an interview explained, “The new model for agricultural that we are calling for entails a development project based on the defense of popular sovereignty and on a new economic model, which has at its core a strong internal market, the distribution of income, and a national industry that sustains the creation of jobs and income for the people.”

The following is from Reuters.

Brazil protesters end blockade of miner Vale's railroad

Landless Brazilian peasants ended their blockade of a railroad run by mining company Vale on Wednesday after a daylong protest that caused trade losses worth at least $22 million.

Damaged tracks still needed to be repaired, Vale said in a statement, without saying when it expected to resume iron ore shipments.

The blockade on Tuesday halted the transporting of 285,000 tonnes of iron ore along the Carajas railroad in northern Para state, which links one of Vale's main mines to ports and pelletizing plants.

Vale, the world's biggest iron ore miner, said the blockade caused daily losses of $22 million to Brazil's trade balance, as it cannot export the ore overseas. Vale is Brazil's biggest net exporter.

The leftist Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) and some wildcat miners invaded the tracks near Parauapebas on Tuesday afternoon to protest lack of help from the federal and state governments, Vale said.

Vale urged authorities to resolve the issue and said it was unfairly targeted by the protesters as it had nothing to do with their problems. It was the 11th time since March 2007 protesters had invaded Vale facilities.

Last month, landless peasants staged demonstrations across Brazil as part of their annual "Red April" campaign to demand land for about 150,000 homeless families and more public money for farm production.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Barry Bonds as Leon Trotsky...that's a comparison you don't see made everyday. If that intrigues you so be sure to read the commentary below by Dave Zirin .

Barry Bonds holds the record for most home runs ever, like ever and he's out there available for the taking and no major league team seems interested.

Sounds like the bosses are whiteballing Barry to me.

Even as an old man, just last year he lead the entire National League in walks and had 28 home runs in 132 games while hitting .276. He had a better season than one helluva lot outfielders gainfully employed.

Now we all know about the steroids investigation and all that, but since when did baseball's big shots become so righteous.

The MLB Players Association finds it odd and has stated publicly that they think collusion has taken place among all 30 MLB teams to keep Bonds from playing baseball this year and ever again. They do not understand how any team from a league known for giving players second and third chances who have shown a propensity for hitting home runs has not signed the all-time home run king.

But then Barry is black and has been indicted by the federal government for perjury.

Indicted, but why?

Mike Gimbel,former consultant on player evaluation for the Boston Red Sox and the Montreal Expos writes:
"Bonds has not been convicted of anything. He has not been accused of betting on games or throwing games. He has not been accused of assaulting anyone. Bonds has been accused of not being a nice guy by the media, but is that a crime?"

Bonds has been accused of not telling the truth to a grand jury investigating BALCO. He does not own BALCO and does not distribute steroids on behalf of BALCO. Why was the grand jury investigating Bonds? Weren’t they supposed to be investigating BALCO? How did that “investigation” of BALCO turn into a witch hunt directed against MLB players? Clearly, BALCO wasn’t the real target in the racist campaign against Bonds."

...In effect, MLB teams are willing to lose money rather than hire Bonds. Isn’t that the definition of a “blacklist”? The actors, singers, directors, etc., who were “blacklisted” during the McCarthy era witch hunt were money makers for the entertainment industry, yet no owner would hire them! Isn’t that exactly what is happening with Bonds?"

Weren’t many of these talented performers indicted and some convicted for refusing to cooperate with grand juries and dragged before government-staged hearings in front of hundreds of cameras and reporters? Years later many of those “blacklisted” were apologized to, but did that apology make up for the destruction of their livelihoods and their personal lives during the McCarthy “blacklisting”? Of course not!"

...Years from now, when MLB is forced to apologize to Bonds for their actions, that apology will never make up for the crime that it is inflicting today on him and on the many fans who admire the athletic greatness that Bonds has personified as a player. I also admire him for his unbending, “in your face” attitude, as he’s been enduring this constant attack from the big business media, especially the sports talk radio and cable channels that have to fill 24-hour-a-day air time by creating controversy and scandal where there would have been little or none before those media outlets were created."

The following is from The Edge of Sports blog.

Boss's Boycott: The Bonds Vanishes
By Dave Zirin

The Commissar Vanishes is a coffee table book for only the dourest of coffee tables. The hard-covered volume is a photographic compilation of the way that Josef Stalin systematically erased his chief political opponents, Leon Trotsky and his followers, from the history of the Russian Revolution.

Page after glossy page plainly displays the desecration of memory at the service of dictatorship. It shows before-and-after photos of people either airbrushed to invisibility or crudely vandalized, their faces blacked out with an ugly scribble.

Meet Barry Bonds, the Leon Trotsky of Major League Baseball. In 2007 Bonds broke the most hallowed record in sports, passing Henry Aaron's record for home runs. When he wasn't injured, this maestro of the batter's box packed San Francisco's ballpark, despite a team that stank like cottage cheese left on a radiator. At season's end, the Giants refused to re-sign him, with owner Peter Magowan saying, "We're going in a new direction; that would not be going in a new direction. The time has come to turn the page." That is surely his right, but the page hasn't just been turned, it's been raggedly erased.

All traces of Bonds, the greatest player in baseball history, have vanished from the Bay. The left-field wall no longer carries an image of Bonds chasing Hank Aaron for the crown. There is no marker of where Bonds hit home run number 756. There is no reminder that Bonds ever even wore a Giants uniform.

But it's not just Magowan trying to “disappear” Barry Bonds. He has been blackballed in a blatant and illegal act of Major League collusion, a bosses' boycott. Yes, Bonds' fielding has become painful to watch in recent years, as the seven time gold glover limped around the outfield on knees grinding together without cartilage. But despite the agony of movement most of us take for granted, Bonds still hit 28 home runs in 340 at bats, led the NL in walks, and had an on base percentage of .480. Since 1950, only Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Norm Cash, and Bonds himself have recorded higher OBP's. [Cash’s epic season was an anomaly in an otherwise middling career. That a player could have a brilliant year out of nowhere, used to be one of the charms of baseball. Today they would be accused of sprinkling steroids on their corn flakes.]

Maybe Bonds can no longer roam the outfield, but there are at least a dozen AL teams that could use a designated hitter with a .480 OBP, not to mention a player whose every game would sell tickets and every at-bat would provoke baited breaths and empty bathrooms.

In this case of blackballing so obvious it would shame a Dartmouth frat house, one would think the media would be raising hell. But they have largely been yipping collusion lackeys. Bill Simmons,'s Sports Guy, wrote,

"Opening Day came and went without Bonds for the first time in 22 years, and nobody seemed to notice. I didn't think about him for more than two seconds all spring. Did anyone? Can you remember being a part of a single "I wonder where Bonds is going to end up?" conversation? Did you refresh incessantly in hopes of a Bonds update?...Of course not. No one cared. The best hitter since Ted Williams is gone and forgotten. We wanted him to go away, and he did."

There is one problem. Bonds doesn't want to go gently into that good night and is pushing his union to fight back. He has asked the Players Association to file collusion charges on his behalf and the union has served Commissioner Bud Selig with papers. [There is a certain irony here as Bonds was hardly Big Bill Haywood during his career. In 2003, he became the first player in thirty years to not sign the Player's Association's group licensing agreement.]

The Player's Association's efforts on Bonds behalf have also met with high profile derision. Newsweek's Mark Starr wrote "The union approaches new heights of absurdity when it bothers to investigate whether collusion has ended the career of baseball's all-time home run king, Barry Bonds, who can't attract an offer to play anywhere this 2008 season. What the union sees as possible collusion, once an honored practice among ownership, I see as a rare display of common sense."

Bonds, according to Starr, is "widely regarded as a cancer in the clubhouse."

This is moralistic spew. The idea that baseball owners would ruin their own team's chances because they have collectively agreed to "turn the page" is a violation of Bonds' rights and the unwritten social contract they have with fans. And when one considers the absence of saints on Major League Baseball teams, even on the God Squad in Colorado, it is all the more drenched in hypocrisy.

Mike Gimbel, who is a former adviser on player trades and acquisitions to the GM's of the Boston Red Sox and the Montreal Expos, wrote it well.

"Bonds has been accused of not telling the truth to a grand jury investigating BALCO [the Bay Area Lab Company, implicated in steroid distribution]. He does not own BALCO and does not distribute steroids on behalf of BALCO. Why was the grand jury investigating Bonds? Weren't they supposed to be investigating BALCO? How did that 'investigation' of BALCO turn into a witch hunt directed against MLB players?"

Good questions. Bonds deserves far better than to be forced into retirement and have his history coarsely expunged. The overriding ethos of the sports world is that of the meritocracy. If you are good enough, then you get to play. Yet a man who can get on base 48% of the time, has been told to go home and a new generation of fans will never see the Mozart of the batting cage. This is about more than a baseball player. It's about people in power deciding on utterly unjust grounds, who gets to take the field, who gets to be heard, and even who gets to be remembered. Somewhere, Stalin smiles.


The Molalla Pioneer writes, "American comic strip artist Bil Keane once wrote, 'A hug is like a boomerang — you get it back right away.” But thanks to a rule at Molalla River Middle School, it will just get you in trouble.'"

Middle school students at Molalla River Middle School in Molalla Oregon are protesting the new rule that prevents hugging. The principal instituted the new rule after kids started showing up late to class, which has sparked protest among the students. Twelve-year-old Desha Eaves, protest leader, wrote a letter to the school board saying, "We're kids. I mean, come on, you need hugs."

I mean give me a break. I'm supposed to believe that kids are so busy hugging each other that they coming to class late?

That's a lot of hugging dude.

Principal Bob Espenel told the Molalla Pioneer newspaper, “You’d have groups of 10 to 15 kids and they all had to hug each other before they went to class. It was getting out of hand,” Espenel said. “…This is not the Love Boat.”


Phone calls to Principal Bob Espenel weren't returned to Portland's FOX. However, the Molalla Pioneer reported Espenel said he was not likely to lift the hugging ban (wouldn't be prudent).

Can you imagine having to deal with that situation.

Maybe the school needs to bring in counselors to work with these kids. I mean what kinda kids go around hugging each other?

"It's just something us kids do," said eighth-grader Elizabeth Lopez.

Would it be so bad if there were more hugs and less violence in our schools?

“Sometimes they really need a hug and I didn’t think it was fair for me to not give my friend a hug,” Eaves said.

Someone should tell this budding anarchist that "fair" isn't what makes this country great...or something.

The Pioneer reports Espenel does not have any firm data on whether the hugging ban has decreased student tardiness, but said it does give students one less excuse to be late for class.

What do you think these kids learned from their Principal's action?

The following is from KOLD News (Arizona). I wonder how the look on hugging in arizona anyway.

School Bans Hugging On Campus

Giving a hug means breaking the rules at one Oregon middle school. School leaders say they imposed the no hugging rule after students started showing up late to class because they were busy hugging each other in the halls.

But kids say the rule is hard to embrace. The school says it's designed to protect kids from feeling uncomfortable.

The rule has actually been in effect for several years, but one 12-year-old girl is protesting it.

Desha Eaves has sent a letter to the school board in an effort to change the rule.


Striking South African Municipal Workers Union members descended on proceedings at Pretoria’s Church Square today where hundreds of people were witnessing the bestowal of the Freedom of the City award on former president Nelson Mandela.

Police fired rubber bullets to disperse the workers.

The workers have been striking and protesting government privatization plans involving their jobs.

The following is from The Independent (South Africa).

Mandela warns of destructive divisiveness

Former president Nelson Mandela on Tuesday warned against "destructive divisiveness" in the country.

"Remember the horror from which we came. Never forget the greatness of a nation that has overcome its division. Let us never descend into destructive divisiveness."

Mandela was speaking shortly after receiving the Freedom of the City from Tshwane mayor Gwen Ramokgopa at a private ceremony at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.

Referring to himself as "an old man", Mandela said he had stopped receiving awards but that this award was an exception that he accepted "warmly and with humility".

"We accept this honour from the administrative capital of our nation."

The event was broadcast live to Pretoria's Church Square and the City Hall.

During the celebrations, about 100 striking members of the SA Municipal Worker's Union interrupted proceedings. They sang derogatory songs and called on Mandela to hear their call for better working conditions.

"We want Mandela to hear our call," said union member Thomas Paledi.

Union members have been on strike since last Monday, demanding that the city halt its restructuring process, employ all its workers directly and stop investigations into outsourcing the bus service.

The group also protested outside Pretoria's City Hall shortly around 1pm.

"About 150 striking workers went into the grounds of the hall to disrupt proceedings there. Tshwane Metro police as well as the SA Police Services had to shoot at them with rubber bullets after which they immediately dispersed," said metro police spokesperson Superintendent Alta Fourie.

Fourie said one woman was injured in the incident.

"But she ran away with the protesters," said Fourie, who added that calm was then restored.

The protesters, however, did not dampen the mood of those who came to witness the bestowal of the award on Mandela on a screen set up in Church Square.

A vendor at the square said that the event had increased his sales.

Those who gathered at the square to witness the event via satellite included Alida Boshoff who said the country had come a long way since reconciliation.

"We've come a long way in reconciliation. This award is important and I hope it unites the different people of Pretoria," said Boshoff.

Fourie said roads including Paul Kruger Street leading to the Square would remain closed until around 6pm.

"The celebrations are taking longer than what we anticipated. Roads leading to the Square will be closed until around 6pm but I don't think it will affect afternoon traffic," said Fourie. - Sapa