Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reminder: Feb. 4 Deadline for Peltier Scholarship



Just a reminder that the dealine for the Honorary Leonard Peltier Scholarship is coming up this week, February 4th at 4:00 pm. Download an application off our website or pick one up at the Oglala Lakota College financial aid office.

http://www.oglalacommemoration.com/scholarship.html

Best of luck...

Oglala Commemoration Committee
www.oglalacommemoration.com

Storm Takes Steep Toll on Destitute Tribe


Storm Takes Steep Toll on Destitute Tribe
Thousands of Downed Power Poles Leave South Dakota Sioux Reservation Without Heat, Water; Melting Snow to Use in Toilets.
By JOEL MILLMAN, Wall Street Journal
28 Jan 2010


A tiny tribe of Lakota Sioux has been battling wind, rain and subzero temperatures this week as ice storms lash one of the U.S.'s poorest communities and leave thousands without electricity, heat or drinking water.

"There's been winters this bad before, but not with rain so bad it freezes the power lines and snaps the poles," said Joseph Brings Plenty, the 38-year old chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, whose reservation lies about 200 miles northeast of Rapid City, S.D. The tribal chairman said 500 power lines were brought down in a blizzard in November, and that between 2,000 and 3,000 more have been lost since Friday from ice storms.

The Cheyenne River tribe is made up of four of the seven bands of Lakota Sioux Indians in the Dakotas, whose reservations also include the Pine Ridge, Standing Rock and Rosebud bands. Power-line damage across all reservations may exceed 5,000 downed poles, which tribal authorities said may take weeks or months for utility companies to repair.

"These events are showing just how painfully inadequate our emergency response capabilities are. Because of one ice storm, we had over 3,000 downed electrical lines and mass power outages," said Tracey Fischer, chief executive and president of First Nations Oweesta Corporation, a national nonprofit working on economic development in Indian country.

"There has been looting of homes and businesses by people desperate for food and water. Schools have been out of session for a week and will likely be unable to open their doors for at least another week," said Ms. Fischer, a member of the Cheyenne River tribe.

With just 10,000 residents spread across 2.8 million acres, many Cheyenne River families depend on electricity transmitted across hundreds of empty miles to run pumps for drinking water, or to power the ignition modules on natural-gas and propane heaters.

The Cheyenne River tribe set up emergency shelters across the reservation in tiny towns with names like Eagle Butte, Cherry Creek, Swiftbird and Whitehorse.

Last year the tribe earned $175,000 leasing land to nontribal ranchers and deposited the money in an emergency fund. That fund is now exhausted, the tribal chairman said. A special Wells Fargo account established to help raise funds to evacuate tribal members with medical needs brought in just $450 in donations on its first day, said Eileen Briggs, a Cheyenne River Tribal executive.

Like most U.S. tribes, the Cheyenne River Sioux function as a sovereign nation on their reservation of 10,000 residents. An additional 8,000 Cheyenne River Sioux live off the reservation, mostly in Rapid City. The tribe manages its internal affairs and runs its own police force and court, but receives grants and subsidies from the federal U.S. government, as virtually all American Indian tribes do

Just 11 tribal police patrol an area the size of Connecticut. They have been warning residents who remained in their homes to ventilate frequently lest carbon-monoxide fumes build up from gas stoves, a potentially fatal hazard.

"We've had 20-degree-below days; some people are burning wood in their homes," said Mr. Brings Plenty.

The tribe also evacuated more than 40 elderly members to motels in Rapid City and Aberdeen, mainly so they could have access to thrice-weekly kidney dialysis treatments that had been provided on the reservation. Nearly 20 kidney patients were evacuated to the Oglala Sioux band's Pine Ridge reservation, where another dialysis station was still functioning. Those evacuees were staying at their sister tribe's Prairie Wind Casino.

"Normally family members take care of these patients, but with no gas or electricity, and blizzard conditions, we needed a caravan to get them out," said Ms. Briggs. The first van caravan traveled on icy roads, finally reaching Rapid City last Thursday. More patients came on Sunday.

Kidney patient Lennie Granados, 59, left his home after its water supply ran out, and is now at the Super 8 motel in Rapid City. "I get reports from my family," he said. "They're out there melting snow and keeping a look out for any water they can use, you know, to flush toilets and stuff."

The Cheyenne River tribe has for years asked Congress for funds to restore its ancient water system, which Mr. Brings Plenty said was decades overdue for an upgrade. The total cost would be about $65 million, which may be hard to raise in Washington in the current budget-cutting atmosphere. Some tribal members lamented the chaos, and how hard the current generation of Sioux was finding life on their native ground.

"A long time ago there were tough Lakota people who knew how to survive. Their teepees were pretty warm, too," said Mr. Brings Plenty. "Times have changed, and the people have changed, too."


Air drops sustain residents after heavy snowstorm in Arizona


Air drops sustain residents after heavy snowstorm in Arizona
By Deb Krajnak, CNN
January 27, 2010 5:15 p.m. EST


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Food, water, medicine flown into Coconino, Apache, Navajo counties. At least four medical evacuation missions have been made, official says Largest part of affected area belongs to Navajo Nation, Hopi Reservation To get supplies, some residents used mirrors, red fabric to signal airplane.

(CNN) -- Native Americans on the rugged Navajo and Hopi reservations in northern Arizona are using mirrors and red fabric to signal aircraft that they need air drops after last week's powerful snowstorm, state agency spokesmen said Wednesday.

Drops of food, water and medicine are being made in Coconino, Apache and Navajo counties, which spread out over 20,000 square miles, Eric Neitzel with the Division of Emergency Management told CNN.

Most of the territory belongs to the Navajo Nation, which surrounds the Hopi Reservation.

The reservations make up 21 percent of the state, he said, or nearly all the land north of Interstate 40 and east of the Colorado River. The Navajo Nation also extends into New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.

Neitzel said at least four medical evacuation missions had been made by midday. Some had been for people needing dialysis treatments.

He said the missions could continue for at least another week.

Snow showers that are predicted through Thursday could severely hinder rescues and food drops, Neitzel said. Dozens of roads remain closed.

Are you in snowy Arizona? Share your images, video

Flagstaff, in Coconino County just southwest of the Navajo Nation, posted its second-highest snowfall of 54.2 inches over seven days, the National Weather Service said.

On Monday, President Obama declared a state of emergency for Arizona, allowing agencies to use federal money for rescues, supplies, transportation and crews.

The mission is being run like a wildfire response.

The emergency management division contracted with the U.S. Forest Service to use an Air Attack plane, Neitzel said. The plane, often used in firefighting, finds people who need supplies and reports back so helicopters can do air drops.

The reservations, Neitzel said, are on mostly rugged, mountainous land, and most of the people live at higher elevations. Their homes are very difficult to see from the air.

Agencies are now on a mission to provide coal for heating and firewood for cooking, as temperatures dip to single digits overnight and hover in the 20s and 30s during the day, Neitzel said. Teams began doing preliminary damage assessments Tuesday.

The Navajo Nation has a population of about 175,000, and the Hopi Reservation, nearly 7,000. Many households lack electricity and telephone service.

"It's a pretty serious situation out there," Neitzel said. "We are relying on ground intelligence [gathered by the Air Attack planes] to get us where we need to go."

Dozens of personnel from the emergency management division, the Civil Air Patrol and local governments have helped pull people out of the snow, said the division's Ethan Riley. He said the agency, aware that the snow was coming, prepositioned supplies and some National Guard troops.

The bad weather began January 18, peaked with a major storm Thursday and continued through the weekend. A pilot flying over the area reported that with the help of high winds, there was snow up to some rooftops, or more than 8 feet.


Howard Zinn: A People's History of American Empire



Saying goodbye to my friend Howard Zinn


Saying goodbye to my friend Howard Zinn
By Alice Walker, Boston Globe Correspondent
January 31, 2010

On hearing the news of his death.

Me: Howie, where did you go?

Howie: What do you mean, where did I go? As soon as I died, I went back to Boston.

I met Howard Zinn in 1961, my first year at Spelman College in Atlanta. He was the tall, rangy, good-looking professor that many of the girls at Spelman swooned over. My African roommate and I got a good look at him every day when he came for his mail in the post office just beneath our dormitory window. He was always in motion, but would stop frequently to talk to the many students and administrators and total strangers that seemed attracted to his energy of non-hesitation to engage. We met formally when some members of my class were being honored and I was among them. I don’t remember what we were being honored for, but Howard and I ended up sitting next to each other. He remembered this later; I did not. He was the first white person I’d sat next to; we talked. He claimed I was “ironic.’’ I was surprised he did not feel white.

I knew nothing of immigrants (which his parents were) or of Jews. Nothing of his father’s and his own working class background. Nothing of his awareness of poverty and slums. Nothing of why a white person could exist in America and not feel white: i.e., heavy, oppressive, threatening, and almost inevitably insensitive to the feelings of a person of color. The whole of Georgia was segregated at that time; and in coming to Spelman I had had a run-in with the Greyhound bus driver (white as described above) who had forced me to sit in the back of the bus. This moment had changed my life, though how that would play out was of course uncertain to a 17-year-old.

One way it did play out was that the very next summer I was on my way to the Soviet Union to see how white those folks were and to tell as many of them as I could, even if they were white, that I did not agree to my country’s notions of bombing them. I didn’t see a lot of generals, but children and women and men and old people of both sexes were everywhere. They were usually smiling and offering flowers or vodka. There was no “iron curtain’’ between us, as I’d been told to expect by Georgia media. I love to tell the story of how I was so ignorant at the time I didn’t have a clue who folks were queuing up to see in Lenin’s tomb; nor did I even know what the Kremlin was. I also didn’t speak a word of Russian.

Coming back to Spelman, I discovered Howard Zinn was teaching a course on Russian History and Literature and a little of the language. I signed up for it, though I was only a sophomore and the course was for juniors (as I recall). I had loved Russian Literature since I discovered Tolstoy and Dostoevsky back in the school library in Putnam County, Georgia. As for the Russian language, as with any language, I most wanted to learn to say hello, goodbye, please, and thank you.

Howard Zinn was magical as a teacher. Witty, irreverent, and wise, he loved what he was teaching and clearly wanted his students to love it also. We did. My mother, who earned $17 a week working 12-hour days as a maid, had somehow managed to buy a typewriter for me and I had learned typing in school. I said hardly a word in class (as Howie would later recall), but inspired by his warm and brilliant ability to communicate ideas and conundrums and passions of the characters and complexities of Russian life in the 19th century, I flew back to my room after class and wrote my response to what I was learning about these writers and their stories that I adored. He was proud of my paper, and, in his enthusiastic fashion, waved it about. I learned later there were those among other professors at the school who thought that I could not possibly have written it. His rejoinder: “Why, there’s nobody else in Atlanta who could have written it!’’

It would be hard not to love anyone who stood in one’s corner like this.

Under the direction of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) many students at Spelman joined the effort to desegregate Atlanta. Naturally, I joined this movement. Howie, taller than most of us, was constantly in our midst, and usually somewhere in front. Because I was at Spelman on scholarship, a scholarship that would be revoked if I were jailed, my participation caused me a good bit of anxiety. Still, knowing that Howard and others of our professors, the amazingly courageous and generous Staughton Lynd, for instance, my other history teacher, supported the students in our struggle, made it possible to carry on. But then, while he and his family were away from campus for the summer, Howard Zinn was fired. He was fired for “insubordination.’’

Yes, he would later say, with a classic Howie shrug, I was guilty.

For me, and for many poorer students in my position, students on scholarship who also worked in the Movement to free us from centuries of white supremacy and second-class citizenship, it was a disaster. I wrote a letter to the administration that was published in the school paper pointing out the error of their decision. I wrote it through tears of anger and frustration. It was these tears, which appeared unannounced whenever I thought of this injustice to Howard and his family - whom I had met and also loved - that were observed by Staughton Lynd, who realized instantly that a) there was every chance I was headed toward a breakdown; and b) the administration would quickly find a reason to expel me from school. Added to the stress, which nobody knew about, was the fact that I was working for a well-respected older man who, knowing I had to work in order to pay for everything I needed as a young woman in school, was regularly molesting me. Lucky for me he was very old, and his imagination was stronger than his grasp. As a farm girl and no stranger to manual labor, I could type his papers with one hand while holding him off with the other. What rankled so much, then as now, is how much others respected, even venerated him.

Perhaps this was one of many births of my feminism. A feminism/womanism that never seemed odd to Howard Zinn, who encouraged his Spelman students, all of them women, to name and challenge oppression of any sort. This encouragement would come in handy, when, years later, writing my second novel, “Meridian,’’ I could explore the misuse of gender-based power from the perspective of having experienced it.

With Staughton Lynd’s help, and after he had consulted with Howie (I did not know this), I was accepted to finish my college education at Sarah Lawrence College, a place of which I had never heard. I went off in the middle of winter, without a warm coat or shoes and ice and snow greeted me. But also Staughton’s mother, Helen Lynd, who immediately provided money for the coat and shoes I needed, as well as a blanket that had been her son’s.

In my solitary room, and knowing no one on campus, I hunkered down to write. Letters to the Zinns, first of all. To inform them I had been liberated from Spelman, as they had been, and had landed.

I was Howard’s student for only a semester, but in fact, I have learned from him all my life. His way with resistance: steady, persistent, impersonal, often with humor, is a teaching I cherish. Whenever I’ve been arrested, I’ve thought of him. I see policemen as victims of the very system they’re hired to defend, as I know he did. I see soldiers in the same way. In some ways, Howie was an extension of my father, whom he never met. My father was also an activist as a young man and was one of the first black men unconnected to white ancestry or power to vote in our backwoods county; he had to pass by three white men holding shotguns in order to do this. By the time I went off to college, the last of eight children, he was exhausted and broken. But these men were connected in ways clearer to me now as I’ve become older than my father was when he died. They each saw injustice as something to be acknowledged, confronted, and changed if at all possible. And they looked for signs of humanity in their opponents and spoke to that. They both possessed a sense of humor and love of a good story that made them charismatic teachers. I recently discovered, and it amuses me, that their birth dates are close, though my father was 13 years older.

Howie and I planned to rendezvous in Berkeley in March, when he came out to spend a few weeks with his grandchildren. In April we planned to be on a panel with Gloria Steinem and Bernice Reagon at an event in New Orleans for Amnesty International. I had decided not to go, but Howie said if I didn’t come he would “sorely miss’’ me. I wrote back that in that case I would certainly be there as “soreness of any sort’’ was not to be tolerated.

Over the years I’ve been in the habit of sending freshly written poems to Roz and Howie. After her death, I continued to send the occasional poem to Howie. Last week, after the Supreme Court’s decision to let corporations offer unlimited financing to electoral candidates, I wrote a poem about what I would do if I were president, called: “If I Was President: ‘Were’ For Those Who Prefer It.’ ’’ My first act as president, given that corporations may well buy all elections in America from now on, would be to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier, both men accused of murders I’ve felt they did not commit; both men in prison for sadistically long periods of time.

Howie’s response, and the last word he communicated to me, was “Wonderful.’’ I imagined him hurriedly typing it, then flying, even at 87, out the door.

The question remains: Where do our friends and loved ones go when they die?

They can’t all go back to Boston, or wherever they’ve lived their most intense life.

I fell asleep, after leaking tears for Howie most of the day: my sweetheart’s shirt was luckily absorbent and available to me, and after tossing and turning almost all night, I had the following dream: We (Someone and I) were looking for the place we go to when we die. After quite a long walk, we encountered it. What we saw was this astonishingly gigantic collection of people and creatures: birds and foxes, butterflies and dogs, cats and beings I’ve never seen awake, and they were moving toward us in total joy at our coming. We were happy too. But there was nothing to support any of us, no land, no water, nothing. We ourselves were all of it: our own earth. And I woke up knowing that this is where we go when we die. We go back to where we came from: inside all of us.

Goodbye, Howie. Beloved. Hello.

Alice Walker is known for her poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple.’’

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Indigenous people, diabetes and the burden of pollution


The Dominion February 22, 2010

Bitter Sweet or Toxic?
Indigenous people, diabetes and the burden of pollution
by John Schertow

The Dominion -
http://www.dominionpaper.ca

There may be more to diabetes than our diet, or whether or not we get enough exercise. According to several new studies, it may be the result of our exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants.
WINNIPEG—Diabetes is now widely regarded as the 21st century epidemic. With some 284 million people now diagnosed with the disease, it’s certainly no exaggeration—least of all, for Indigenous people.

According to the State of the World's Indigenous Peoples Report by the United Nations, more than 50 per cent of Indigenous adults over the age of 35 have Type 2 Diabetes, “and these numbers are predicted to rise.”

Diabetes is referred to as a "lifestyle disease," and its rampant spread is believed to be caused by obesity, or, our increased reliance on the western diet, also known as the "meat-sweet" diet, and our avoidance of regular exercise.

While these may certainly be contributing factors, there is growing evidence that diabetes is closely linked with our environment. More than a dozen studies have been published that show a connection to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); carcinogenic hydrocarbons known as Dioxins; and the "violently deadly" synthetic pesticide, DDT.

“If it is the POPs, not the obesity that causes diabetes, this is really striking if true,” says Dr. David O. Carpenter, Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany.

One out of four Indigenous adults living on reserves in Canada have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, the most common form of diabetes. The prevalence of the disease appears to be so great that the number of new cases being diagnosed in Canada may exceed the growth of the Indigenous population. It’s no longer uncommon to find children as young as three with the disease. According to government statistics, 27 per cent of all Indigenous people in Canada will have Type 2 Diabetes in the next ten years.

Sandy Lake First Nation, in the Sioux Lookout Zone of northern Ontario, has all but met the mark. A March 2009 study co-authored by Dr. Stewart Harris found that 26 per cent of the community has the disease, the highest recorded rate of diabetes in Canada. With a population of 2,500, the northern Cree community was recently described as an “epicentre” of the epidemic.

There has been little research on the levels of persistent organic pollutants in Sandy Lake; however, according to the First Nations Environmental Health Innovation Network, several neighboring communities who also have high rates of diabetes, like Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, are known to have elevated levels of PCBs in their blood.

The Mohawk community of Akwesasne has its own conflict with diabetes and exposure to POPs. Located across the New York-Ontario-Quebec borders along the St. Lawrence River, three aluminum foundries upriver from the reserve dumped PCBs into the river for decades; contaminating the water, soil, and vegetation.

For many years, Dr. Carpenter has been involved in the study of Adult Mohawks at Akwesasne. Most recently, in 2007, he took part in a study to examine the diabetes/pollution link in the community. “Our study of adult Mohawks showed a striking elevation in rates of diabetes in relation to blood levels of three persistent organic pollutants, DDE, the metabolite of DDT, hexachlorobenzene and PCBs,” Dr. Carpenter explains. “Our results are quite compatible with those of Lee et al.”

In 2006, Dr. Dae-Hee Lee and her colleagues showed that people with the highest rate of exposure to POPs were roughly 38 times more likely to have diabetes than those with the lowest rate of exposure. Further, “they showed that people who were obese but did not have high levels of POPs were not at increased risk of developing diabetes!” continues Dr. Carpenter. “Probably the reason most people get obese is that they eat too many animal fats, and this is where the POPs are.”

The dietary source of POPs was confirmed by the US Environmental Protection Agency in their Draft 1994 Dioxin Reassessment, which has never been formally released to the public. According to the Draft Reassessment, 93 per cent of our exposure to Dioxin comes from the consumption of beef, dairy, milk, chicken, pork, fish, and eggs; in other words, the western diet.

A May 2001 study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health drew similar conclusions to the EPA Reassessment. In addition, the study found that “nursing infants have a far higher intake of dioxins relative to body weight than do all older age groups,” and that human breast milk was twice as toxic dairy milk. It also found that vegans had the overall lowest rate of POPs in their bodies.

According to an October 2009 paper by the Research Centre for Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology at Masaryk University, another major source of POPs, specifically DDT, is the world’s oceans. The paper also found that despite restrictions placed on the use of DDT more than 30 years ago, concentrations of the toxin are on the rise.

Indigenous people carry an unequally high proportion of this global toxic burden. For instance, according to Environment Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) there are 212 Indigenous communities in Canada living near or downstream from pulp mills and other facilities that produce dioxins and furans. One striking example, is the old Dryden pulp mill near Grassy Narrows which, according to the Grassy Narrows and Islington Bands Mercury Disability Board, dumped tonnes of dioxin-laced mercury wastewater into the English-Wabigoon River system from 1962-70.

Fourty years later, the poisonous waste continues to pose a “serious health threat” to Grassy Narrows and the Wabaseemoong First Nations, says the Disability Board. No formal steps have been taken toward remediation by federal or provincial governments.

The Tohono O’odham Nation's experience bears a close resemblance to Grassy Narrows. The world’s highest rate of diabetes can be found in southwest Arizona, among the Tohono O’odham Nation. According to Tribal health officials, nearly 70 percent of the population of 28,000 has been diagnosed. The O’odham People make up the second largest Indigenous Nation in the United States.

Lori Riddle is a member of Aquimel O’odham Community and founder of the Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment (GRACE).

GRACE was instrumental in the 10 year struggle against a hazardous waste recycling plant that operated without full permits on O’odham land for decades. Owned by Romic Environmental Technologies Corporation, the plant continuously spewed effluents into the air until it was finally shut down in 2007.

The Romic plant was not the first contributor to the O’odham’s toxic burden, explained Lori. Looking back to her childhood, she recalled: “for nearly a year, [when] a plane would go over our heads, you could see the mist. We never thought to cover our water. The chemicals just took over and they became a part of us.”

From the early 1950s until the late 60s, cotton farmers in the Gila River watershed routinely sprayed DDT onto their crops to protect them from bollworms. According to the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), each and every year, the farmers used roughly Twenty-three pounds of DDT per acre.

In 1969, the State of Arizona banned the use of DDT, by this time the river was gravely contaminated. According to the ATSDR, farmers then switched to Toxaphene, a substitute for DDT—until it was banned by the US government in 1990.

Because of these chemicals, Lori explains, the O’odham were forced to abandon their traditional foods and adopt a western diet. Farms also went into a recession, forcing many families to leave their communities. Companies, such as Romic, began moving on to their territory, exasperating the situation. “It’s taken a toll on our quality of life,” she says. “I’ve cried myself to sleep.”

The O’odham are dealing with what Lori terms “cluster symptoms” including miscarriages, arthritis in the spine, breathing problems, unexplainable skin rashes, problems regenerating blood cells. This in addition to diabetes, which frequently leads to renal failure, blindness, heart disease, and amputations.

More and more studies are being published that show the link between diabetes and persistent organic pollutants like DDT—stemming from the landmark “Ranch Hand” study. In 1998, the study found a 166 per cent increase in diabetes (requiring insulin control) in US Air Force personnel who were sprayed with the herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The study also found that as dioxin levels increased so did the presence and severity of Type 2 diabetes, the time to onset declined following a similar trend.

However, Dr. Carpenter notes that because of the widely-endorsed belief that diabetes is a life-style disease related to diet and exercise, the link is gaining little attention by governments, news agencies like the CBC, or by any of the hundreds of non-profit diabetes foundations around the world. “[It] hasn’t even made it into the medical community at this point,” Dr. Carpenter adds. “It takes a long time to change both medical and public opinion.”

“Clearly one thing everyone can do is to eat less animal fats,” suggests Dr. Carpenter. Several Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba and British Columbia have begun to do this, planting their own gardens and building greenhouses; returning, in a traditional sense, to some of the foods that sustained them for millennia. Others are turning to exercise, which plays a vital role, if not just in the prevention of diabetes, in our overall health.

"Also, we must find ways of getting the POPs out of the animals that we eat. That is not going to be easy, given how contaminated we have made the world,” adds Dr. Carpenter. For this, Lori Riddle, who is herself a diabetic, points to the Tribal Council and the Federal Government.

John Schertow is an Indigenous rights advocate and author of the blog, Intercontinental Cry.


Oglala Commemoration: New Auction Items Available



There are now new items available at the Oglala Commemoration's auction site:
www.oglalacommemoration.com/auction.

A painting from Leonard Peliter has been posted. Special thanks goes out to the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee and Leonard.

Many other nice items are available.


Take a look at the new t-shirt page (link at the bottom of the auction page).

Please remember that this auction raises abotu 90% of all funding to keep the Oglala Commemoration a free annual event.

We thank everyone for their support.

www.oglalacommemoration.com

The Cure for Hunger is Food


Donate a SHARE of food to residents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. You can make a one time or a once a month donation. Click here.

Make a donation toward food delivery costs.

For more information about the program and how you can participate, contact:
dcapalario@nativeprogress.org.

Learn more about SHARE at their Web site:
www.sharecolorado.com.


One Spirit
PO Box 3209
Rapid City, SD 57709

Visit us on the web at
www.nativeprogress.org.


Emergency Help Desperately Needed to Heat Homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation


Emergency Help Desperately Needed to Heat Homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation
By Chris Rodda, The Huffington Post


I found out about this critical emergency situation through a filmmaker friend named Preston Randolph, who became involved in helping the Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota while working on a documentary there.

People on this reservation, particularly the elderly, are literally in danger of freezing to death this winter because they can't pay their heating bills. Some of these people not only have no heat, but can't even cook because they also rely on propane for cooking. (See below for an article written by Preston describing, firsthand, the conditions on the reservation.)

Ways you can help:

Call the Lakota Plains Propane Company at 605-867-5199 or 605-455-1188 and directly pay for someone's propane delivery. There is a $120 minimum for a propane delivery. My friend, Kean University professor Dr. Norma Bowe, who introduced me to Preston a few months ago, has paid for the propane deliveries for three people, and tells me that this was very easy to do. The people at the propane company know which customers are in need and whose bills to apply the money to, and gave Norma the names of the individuals whose bills she was paying. (I realize that a lot of us, including myself, might not be able to come up with the entire $120 minimum to get a delivery to someone, so do what I'm doing and go halfsies with someone else, or get a few people to chip in.)

An emergency assistance fund has also been set up by the tribe that will be used exclusively for heating costs -- electric, propane, fuel oil, and firewood. Donations in any amount can be sent to:

Dean Patton, Treasurer
Oglala Sioux Tribe
P.O. Box 2070
Pine Ridge, South Dakota 57770

Unfortunately, according to a press release issued by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, there have been scammers soliciting donations on the internet, claiming to be raising money for the Pine Ridge Reservation, so, if you want to help, please be sure to do it via one of the two ways above.

TRAVESTY ON THE HOME FRONT
By Preston Randolph

Recently the
world was faced with the challenge of bonding together and helping the country of Haiti fight through the terror of a natural disaster. As a result, the world has now been exposed to the extreme poverty and poor living conditions of this area. This shocking reality served as a motivation for all people to lend a helping hand.

Without the earthquake, who would have lent a hand in help to the poorest country in the world? The starving people of Haiti, in all likelihood, would have not seen a dime from the average American because people are simply not informed of the tragedies that occur every day around us. We either just don't know or maybe we just don't care. Now after a horrifying disaster people have stepped to the plate to help those in need, but it simply is too late for the thousands who perished in this freak event. We as a nation seem to realize these struggles once they come to a head. Did we care about the structure of buildings and the living conditions of the people of Haiti before the Earthquake? Did we care about the poverty stricken minorities and the height of the Levees before Katrina? We help once people die, but by then it is just too late. Furthermore, most Americans are completely oblivious to the abstract and harsh poverty right here at home. The ignorance of these issues by the American people is only proven when you start mentioning the horrors going on at Indian Reservations across the Dakotas.

I started collecting winter supplies two months ago for the Pine Ridge Reservation, which is home to the Lakota Nation. The current film I am producing exposed me to these issues, which made we want to do my part. During the winter months many of Pine Ridge's citizens freeze and starve. When I say "freeze" I do not mean chilly, but actually freezing to death. The extreme poverty on the reservation and horrendous living conditions combined with the "illegal" shutting off of power to homes sheltering elderly and children result in the actual deaths by hypothermia. Even at this point, as you are reading this, people are freezing on the Reservation.

After weeks of hard work, I had managed to gather hundreds of new coats, blankets, hats, gloves, and boots. Last Friday at 3 a.m. I loaded up a U-Haul trailer and drove the eight hours to Pine Ridge. As I entered the reservation and approached the city limits I was greeted with the sight of the poorest community in the United States. Three feet of snow covered the ground as the unplowed roads formed a muddy environment. Just outside the city I passed an eroding bar giving spirits to those who already live in an area where nine of 10 families are affected by alcoholism. It was only a mile or so back that I saw a dual-sided billboard giving face to two young Native Americans recently killed in an alcohol related accident.

I drove throughout the Reservation, passing people walking fifteen mile stretches in the cold because of high fuel prices and the lack of transportation......... Stray, hungry dogs roamed the muddy, snowy streets looking for scraps to survive. Broken windows breathed cold air into the shack-like shelters or homes of the 30,000 people
living on the Reservation.

I gave the materials to a family that I had been in contact with and was welcomed with smiles as I filled their living room with the 30 boxes of supplies. They in turn would distribute the materials throughout the Reservation. I then left and drove through the town, passing the people who have experienced hell arguably since the white man arrived in 1492, but more specifically these are the faces that experience this hell in the United States in 2010.

The smiles of the children on the streets, playing in the snow wearing torn coats, if they have one at all, brought tears to my eyes. This existence is all they know and chances are this is all they will ever know. These are the children that will go to the school that uses materials that are decades old and have a teacher turnover rate that is 800 percent that of the national average. They will be raised alongside their brothers and sisters who all survive on the $3,500 their parents bring in a year. At this point these children, if lucky, will grow into their teenage years. When I say "if lucky" I mean it. The chance of certain diseases and cancers is up to 800 percent higher on the Reservation than the rest of the United States, and the teenage suicide rate is 150 percent higher than the national average. These kids attend school in an environment where 70 percent of those before them dropped out of a system that is in the bottom 10 percent of funding by the US Department of Education. These kids then will face other adversities of trying to find work. They may grasp on to a minimum wage job, but remember the unemployment rate is 80 percent; one of the highest in the nation. This cycle continues and continues, but nothing is done. I can only ask why? Is it that the US Government could care less about the indigenous people, which has been proved the past 200 years? Maybe, it is just that the people of the United States have no idea of what is actually happening inside their country and are confused by the stereotype that America's Indigenous receive everything from the Government. Wake Up!

I was stopped on the road by two little kids playing in the snow. The little girl had snot frozen to her face below the nose. They were both in ragged, thin coats. They asked what I was pulling in my trailer and then they found out I had coats. They quickly asked for one and told me that what was on their backs was all that they owned. I was thanked by their smiles and it was the best feeling I have ever had. It was a holiday for these kids.

The day after, I returned home. I went back to work and my regular routine. That night I watched TV, ate a filling meal and took my life for granted like many of us so often do. This experience only furthered the premise that the majority of Americans talk about issues like this but wind up doing nothing. We go home and just forget. Many of us think too often about these issues without learning. Too many pray without helping their fellow man. We are facing a national crisis, yet no one knows or even cares. Right now this is a disaster, but who is helping? Let Katrina and Haiti be example to what else can happen if something is not done now. I give thanks to all those who gave to this cause and realized that this cannot be another out of sight, out of mind issue. Americans are in need and I will help, but more importantly, will you?

Amtrak passenger detained in Colorado after overheard threats says accusations unfounded


Amtrak passenger detained in Colorado after overheard threats says accusations unfounded

Man accused in Colo. train threat denies charges
By P. SOLOMON BANDA Associated Press Jan 29, 10

http://www.newser.com/article/d9dhneho1/amtrak-passenger-detained-in-colorado-after-overheard-threats-says-accusations-unfounded.html

A man pulled off an Amtrak train after passengers reported hearing him talk about al-Qaida and make threatening statements is well known among prison rights advocates after spending more than 20 years in solitary confinement.

Ojore Lutalo, 64, from Elizabeth, N.J., denies making any kind of threats while aboard an Amtrak train during an interview in Denver on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. He was arrested Tuesday in La Junta, Colo.,... (Associated Press)

Ojore Nuru Lutalo, 64, of Elizabeth, N.J., was arrested Tuesday at the La Junta train station in southeastern Colorado and faces a felony charge of endangering public transportation. He was free on $30,000 bond and faces another hearing Feb. 5 in Otero County District Court.

Lutalo, a self-described anarchist, told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that he was returning to New Jersey after speaking at a Los Angeles book fair sponsored by the Anarchist Black Cross Federation when passengers apparently overheard his cell phone conversation.

"I was talking to people about what transpired at the book fair," Lutalo said, quickly adding: "I never made a threat or a reference to Amtrak period, so I'm waiting for court so I can challenge my accuser."

Lutalo was released from a New Jersey prison in August after serving 28 years for armed robbery and weapons offenses involving a shootout with a police officer in 1975 and another shootout with a drug dealer in 1981. He served more than 20 years of that sentence confined in a cell alone for 23 hours a day because the anarchist material he was reading was a deemed a security threat, according his New Jersey attorney, Bruce Afran.

Lutalo said he had washed his clothes and had covered himself with his robe when he laid down to sleep in a coach car on the train headed to Chicago.

"The next thing I know I'm looking down the barrel of semiautomatic pistols," he said. "They didn't tell me what I had done, who was supposed to have called, what I was supposed to have done. They didn't tell me anything."

In an affidavit filed in La Junta, a small farming and ranching community about 140 miles southeast of Denver, police said passengers reported hearing Lutalo saying he hadn't killed anyone yet, and that he talked about going to jail.

"We have to work in small groups. They can hold you for 18 months. Do they have security on these trains? Are you with me or not?" passengers reported hearing Lutalo say.

One passenger said he heard Lutalo mention al-Qaida, saying, "17th century tactics won't work, we have 21st century tactics."

Lutalo was arrested at the La Junta train station. Police said he was not armed or carrying explosives. He was carrying was police described as propaganda for an anarchist group called Afrikan Liberation Army. Lutalo said the "propaganda" was literature he had picked from tables at a book fair.

La Junta Police Chief Todd Quick did not return messages.

FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright said the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Colorado Springs was notified but no federal charges were expected.

According to New Jersey Parole Board spokesman Neal Buccino, Lutalo served more than two decades behind bars for armed robbery and weapons offenses. Authorities said he tried to rob a man at gunpoint in Asbury Park, N.J., in September 1981 and shot him in the arm.

At that time, Lutalo had only been paroled from prison for nine months. He was first incarcerated in 1975 for an armed bank robbery in Trenton with two other men.

Lutalo had been denied parole in 2005 and was released after he maxed out his sentence. He is not on parole now.

Afran, who filed a lawsuit challenging Lutalo's treatment in prison, said Lutalo committed no violent infractions of any kind during his entire prison sentence.

"Whatever comments he was making on the phone may have been just a case of him not being sensitive to the world we live in now. Based on my knowledge of his life over the past 27 years, I'm quite certain he didn't make any threats of any kind."

Bonnie Kerness, with the Newark, N.J.-based American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch Program, said Lutalo's treatment in prison made him a political prisoner and groups like the Anarchist Black Cross Federation raise money to help those prisoners. She described Lutalo as mild-mannered and polite and said she had spoken with him by phone several times while he was on the train.

"It seems like so much ado about nothing," she said from the group's offices in Newark, N.J.

Lutalo said he took a train instead of flying because he was worried that his criminal record and known anarchist political views would subject him to extra screening.

"It's understandable in light of 9/11 and the Christmas Day bombing plot. People expect that," Lutalo said of tight airport security.

Lutalo said the Asbury Park robbery involved a drug dealer who had confronted him with a gun as Lutalo tried to raise awareness about the danger of drugs, and he said he was simply a better shot. He acknowledges he was involved in the Trenton robbery.

"But that's old history, now," Lutalo said.

___

Associated Press Writer Beth DeFalco in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this report.

21 February: Free 'em All! Free Mumia!


Prisoners of Conscience Committee, Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and Prison Radio Presents:

Free em All! Free Mumia!
Sunday Feb. 21st at 6:30pm
Humanist Hall
390 27th St. Oakland CA
Donations $10-$1,000 No one will be turned away due to lack of funds
415-648-4505

Speakers will include:
Pam Africa, spokeswoman for the international concerned family and friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Minister of Confrontation of the MOVE organization.

POCC Charman Fred Hampton Jr.
founder of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee, former political Pirsoner and son of the assassinated Black Panther Leader.

Ramona Africa
Survior of the 1985 Police Bomb that was dropped on the MOVE House in Philly, former political prisoner and Minister of Information of the MOVE Organization

POCC Minister of Informationm, JR
Organizer with the POCC, Founder of the Block Report Radio and Associate Editor of the SF Bay View Newspaper.

Updates from
Pierre Labossierre of the Haiti Action Committee
Jack Heyman A Labor activist and Member of Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

There will be a sneak preview of the full length new Film Operation Small Axe with the POCC Minister of information JR and Director Adimu Madyun on hand.

This event is done in honor of the lives of Freedom Fighters
Minister Huey P. Newton (Birthday Feb. 17th, 1942 and
El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Assassinated Feb. 21, 1969)

Www.blockreportradio.com
www.prisonradio.org
http://www.sfbayview.com/

Margolis, OPR Torture Memos Report: Leonard Peltier


David Margolis: Hatchet Man for Holder/Obama on OPR Torture Memos Report
By: Jeff Kaye Saturday January 30, 2010 12:49 am


Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman have scooped the press with a Newsweek article claiming to know the verdict of the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility report on the investigations into misconduct and unprofessional behavior by the Bush administration attorneys involved drafting the memos allowing the use of coercive interrogation techniques on prisoners. These techniques were largely derived from reverse-engineering torture inoculation procedures from the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, or SERE programs.

According to Isikoff and Klaidman, the original verdict of the report was changed after the report was reviewed by the attorneys accused, and then reassessed by long-time DoJ honcho, David Margolis. [Blog Editor's note: Margolis has been around since COINTELPRO days.]

The Newsweek article explains (emphasis added):

Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources….The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.

In an initial assessment by bmaz at Emptywheel, for whom I owe the H/T for the Newsweek article:

Margolis is nearly 70 years old and has a long career at DOJ and is fairly well though of. Margolis was tasked by Jim Comey to shepherd Pat Fitzgerald’s Libby investigation. In short, the man has some bona fides.

But the involvement of Margolis in defanging the OPR report, and thereby assuring that governmental agencies or bar associations will hold John Yoo, Jay Bybee and other Bush-era attorneys accountable for paving the way for legalistic torture, is perhaps not an incidental fact.

Dubious David

The role of Margolis, and the man himself, deserve a closer look. It does not take long to see that 40+ year DoJ veteran David Margolis has some skeletons in his closet, and that his track record is not unblemished.

In a July 2000 letter to the New York Review of Books by by E.L. Doctorow, Peter Matthiessen, William Styron, Rose Styron, Kurt Vonnegut, singled out Margolis as "point man" on a DoJ "vendetta" against Cointelpro victim Leonard Peltier.

"Three months ago, in March, I had a phone call from a lawyer who has never been involved in the Peltier case but was aware of my longtime concern. A friend in the Justice Department had just mentioned to him that the FBI was intensifying its anti-Peltier vendetta within the department, with Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis as the point man."


More recently, a 2008 Los Angeles Times story indicated that Margolis had changed DoJ policy and decided to withhold summaries of OPR investigations. The article noted that " the resolution of most matters investigated by the OPR remains closely guarded, even in cases where courts have found evidence of serious prosecutorial misconduct."

The LA Times continued:

Publishing the summaries "reassures the public that [the Department of Justice] takes its self-regulatory responsibilities seriously and puts prosecutors on notice that they face public embarrassment if they are caught engaging in wrongdoing," said Bruce Green, a former federal prosecutor and a professor at Fordham Law School in New York.

Associate Deputy Atty. Gen. David Margolis said it was his decision to excuse the OPR from preparing summaries of cases that might be released to the public. He said the decision reflected a lack of resources, as well as concern about balancing public interests with the privacy rights of individual attorneys facing accusations.

Margolis Covers-up Earlier Interrogation Scandal?

More speculatively, and intriguing, given the claims involved, is Margolis’s involvement in the investigation of a forgotten FBI sting operation against NASA contractors in the early 1990s. Operation Lightning Strike was, according to a Washington Post article at the time, a "20-month Justice Department sting operation focusing on NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston… [resulting] in criminal fraud and bribery charges against nine men and one contractor."

Later, in 1996, a defense committee was formed to support the "NASA-13". The committee, in a petition to the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform and Oversight Committee claimed that the men caught up in the Operation Lightning Strike, some of whom were victims of "’frame-ups’ and torture, to obtain prosecutions." David Margolis was mentioned as admitting that an OPR investigation into the case was begun in 1994 to look into "investigative and prosecutive misconduct." However, no results from that report were ever made public. The involvement of Margolis in this case deserves further scrutiny, given it involved serious allegations about coercive interrogations and torture.

A defense committee press release was more specific about the abuses conducted by the FBI:

In a report submitted to Congress today, a team of defense attorneys representing the so-called "NASA-13," requested the US. House of Representatives Government Reform and Oversight Committee to hold hearings and appoint a Special Prosecutor, not affiliated with the U.S. government, to investigate the "NASA-13" cases in the light of scientific research competed by a team of NASA industry experts, defense attorneys and behavioral scientists. This report furnishes evidence that at least one of the NASA/IG Federal agents who conducted the NASA sting operation in Houston from 1991 to 1994 was in fact a highly qualified military intelligence interrogator, who with the FBI, employed a highly dangerous form of "psycho-technology" known in the behavioral science community as "Coercive Persuasion" or "CP", a form of mind control.

The phenomenon of "CP" was first observed in the post-traumatic reactions of Korean War military and civilian POWs. Many of these prisoners had confessed to non-existent crimes and cooperated with the enemy after having been subjected to what was then called "brainwashing."

Given that these claims are coming from a pre-9/11 era, they cannot be said to be derivative of recent news reports and scandals. I am not convinced about what actually went on in this case, but it is notable that the defense committee procured a letter from well-known psychologist, and former government Margaret Thaler Singer backing the claims of the defendants:

I have reviewed the Lightning Strike Victims Questionnaires and summary provided by the NASA-13 Defense Committee, and I concur with the committee’s assessment that there is substantial data in these highly consistent statements to confirm that a program of Coercive Influence was employed in the Interrogations of the Lightning Strike Suspects . The questionnaires uniformly reveal a systematic application of psychological techniques, in an organized programmatic way, within a constructed and managed environment, which was aimed at the participants sense of self and sense of reality, producing extreme anxiety and emotional distress….

Such programs can and regularly do produce psychiatric casualties. Practitioners of these programs attempt to hold the subject at the point of maximum stress, without inducing psychosis. My experience over the past four decades and in observing over 3,000 cases since participating in the evaluation of released Korean POW’s, unfortunately reveals that practitioners of these nefarious methods frequently exceed the limits with devastating results.

According to the defense committee, Department of Defense interrogators played key roles in the interrogations of the defendants, as aspect of the case that has also never been explained.

Now this may all be a lot of smoke, but when one adds in the latest role played by Mr. Margolis in spiking the initial results of misconduct on behalf of Yoo, Bybee, Addington, et al. (if we can believe the Newsweek leak), his appearance in this role does not seem so remarkable. Margolis appears to have a long history of involvement in government frame-up and/or obfuscation of internal misconduct by the FBI or Justice Department prosecutors.

Will we see the intrepid U.S. press look more deeply into this? One could wish this were true. Every once in a while the mainstream press shows what it’s capable of, as with the exposure of torture at Bagram under Obama’s administration, or with Scott Horton’s Harper’s revelations on the 2003 killings of three Guantanamo prisoners, covered-up as supposed "suicides".

But the OPR report is shaping up to be one gigantic cover-up, assuming we ever get to see much of it, after the government censors get done with it.

The country is thick with torture and crime, and unable to free itself from thralldom to its governmental enablers. Let’s see how easily Holder, Obama, and Margolis get away with their cover-up of Yoo, Bybee, Gonzales, and Addington’s lies and alibis. Meanwhile, torture continues as official policy of the Obama administration in the guise of an appendix to the Army Field Manual. But outside of Emptywheel, some former interrogators, and a few others, no one seems to care.

And so it goes.


Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World


Wade Davis: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

In this talk, delivered at the Cowell Theatre in San Francisco, California, on January 13, 2010, the respected author and Canadian anthropologist Wade Davis takes us on a journey through the ethnosphere--and reminds us of our own cultural imperative as human beings. The Long Now Foundation's latest monthly Seminar, Davis speaks for approx. 1 [...]

You may view the latest post at
http://intercontinentalcry.org/wade-davis-why-ancient-wisdom-matters-in-the-modern-world/

This Week from Indian Country Today

Brownback offers Obama political cover on Native apology
WASHINGTON – The nation’s top legislator who is pushing for an out-loud apology to Native Americans is offering political cover to President Barack Obama during a contentious election year. Read more »

Headlines

Salmon populations continue to decline
‘Indian’ mascot underscores past and future concerns
NCAI sponsors 2010 Census art competititon
Be careful what you wish for, a court case suggests
President nominates two more tribal citizens
Indians to receive $15 million in Labor grants
California tribe steps forward
Native American watches SOTU with first lady
EPA awards Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
Eucha residents will have a place to gather
Ruling awaited in Fremont Co. voting rights case
Chairwoman guest of president and Mrs. Obama
Alaskan actress and activist Diane Benson mounts campaign for office
Stalking: Shocking crime that strikes Native American leaders
USDA funds mortgages on Indian land
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe welcomes new chief justice
Mishewal Wappo Indians sue to regain tribal status
Mashantuckets to retool electricity system
Attorney General announces significant reforms
Salazar sets April deadline for Cape Wind project decision
Strong values and collaboration credited for tribes’ success
Mummy Island returns to Eyak village
Wyoming eligible for $117 million in AML funds
In Memoriam
‘Casino Jack and the United States of Money’ premieres at Sundance

More

Northeast
Southeast
Great Lakes
Midwest
Plains
Southwest
Northwest
Alaska/Hawaii

Opinion

Gingold: Cobell settlement will provide legacy

Mr. William Martin suggests in his opinion published Jan. 26, 2010, on Indian Country Today’s Web site that the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement is unfair to 500,000 individual Indians. Unfortunately, Mr. Martin omits mention of the fact that the settlement is three times that which has been awarded in aggregate to Indian tribes and individual Indians in the history of the United States. And he omits mention of the fact that this multi-billion dollar settlement is the largest settlement involving the United States government in the history of our nation. Worse, he misconstrues material facts, ignores governing procedures, and makes no effort to discuss his concerns with Ms. Cobell or class counsel. Read more »

Related Content
Martin: Congress should study Cobell settlement before approving it

For news you can't get from Indian Country Today, see Censored News.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Eighth Circuit Declines to Release 20 Year Old Jailed For More Than Two Months On Contempt of Grand Jury


Lauren Regan, Atty & Exec. Dir., CLDC, 541-687-9180
Ben Rosenfeld, Atty & Board Member, CLDC, 415-285-8091

For Immediate Release

January 29, 2010

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit Declines to Release 20 Year Old
Carrie Feldman, Jailed For More Than Two Months On Contempt of Grand Jury

Civil Liberties Monitors Charge That Federal Prosecutor Is On Personal Crusade
Against Anarchist Ideology; Courts Do Not Rein Him In

Davenport, IA: U.S. Attorney Clifford R. Cronk III is using his office’s investigation of an alleged 2004 animal rights-related break-in at the University of Iowa to harass and punish targets whom he claims identify as anarchists, a political ideology dating back to the early 19th Century. To date, neither his superiors in the Department of Justice, nor the federal courts, have done anything to curtail his abuse of power. In behavior reminiscent of the darkest days of the McCarthy witch hunts, Cronk argues in court documents that anarchists are domestic terrorists who should be locked up for posing a threat to civil society based on nothing but the prosecutor’s unfounded political bias.

The Animal Liberation Front reportedly claimed credit for the 2004 break-in at the University of Iowa’s Psychology Department, removing lab rats and mice and vandalizing computers. There were no reported injuries. In November 2009, just days before the five year statute of limitations expired (the date after which the government could no longer bring charges), prosecutors subpoenaed Scott DeMuth, a 22-year old Dakota language student and sociology graduate student at the University of Minnesota, and 20-year old Carrie Feldman, to testify before a grand jury said to be investigating the incident. The government gave no public reason for believing the two had any information. Both appeared before the grand jury but refused on principle to testify, and each publicly denounced the process as a star chamber which utilizes secret evidence and deprives witnesses of their right to counsel and other basic constitutional protections.

Over thirty years ago, Justice William O. Douglas expressed almost the identical sentiment, writing “This great institution of the past has long ceased to be the guardian of the people for which purpose it was created at Runnymede. . .Any experienced prosecutor will admit that he can indict anybody at any time for almost anything before any grand jury.” United States v. Dionisio, 410 U.S. 19, 23 (1973 (Douglas, J., dissenting, quoting Chicago-based district judge William Campbell).

In clear retaliation for refusing to testify, U.S. Attorney Cronk had DeMuth indicted under the new Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act for conspiring to commit the lab break-in, despite the fact that the law was enacted two years after the break-in and cannot apply retroactively; despite the fact that DeMuth was a minor at the time of the alleged break-in; and despite the prosecutor’s apparent total lack of evidence. Upon reviewing the so-called “evidence,” a federal magistrate judge wrote:

The Court viewed portions of a videotape depiction of the damage inflicted at the University of Iowa during this occurrence. At least four individuals could be seen during the taping of the event. Special Agent Reinwart was of the opinion that one of these individuals had a resemblance in terms of physique and stature with Demuth. However, Special Agent Reinwart did not testify that he knew Demuth participated in the occurrence. (See Court’s Order of 11/24/09, p1-2.)

Nevertheless, U.S. Attorney Cronk is going forward with his prosecution of DeMuth. Persecution is a better word for it. After the court ordered DeMuth released from jail pending trial, the U.S. Attorney maneuvered to keep him locked up over the long Thanksgiving holiday, resorting to unethical and unconstitutional political stereotyping and guilt by association. He argued:

[T]he defendant did not deny that he is an anarchist. He did not deny involvement with ALF. . .Defendant’s writings, literature, and conduct suggest that he is an anarchist and associated with the ALF movement. Therefore, he is a domestic terrorist. As such, he poses a serious of risk of danger to those he opposes and to law enforcement as well as a risk of flight to avoid prosecution. (See Government’s Motion for Revocation of Release Order, 11-25-09, pg. 3.)

Meanwhile, on November 17, the court found Carrie Feldman in contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury, even though she never actually disobeyed the court’s order. Rather, the court presumed that she would refuse to testify based on her prior statements. “This is a plain violation of Supreme Court precedent,” said Lauren Regan, Executive Director of the Eugene Oregon-based Civil Liberties Defense Center. “The witness must be brought before the grand jury and refuse to answer questions put to her in front of them before she can be found in contempt.” In this case, after Feldman asserted a Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify, the court ordered her to accept immunity for her testimony, finding that this negated the privilege. However, the court never sent her back before the grand jury before holding her in contempt.

At the contempt hearing, Feldman’s lawyer put her father on the stand to testify that incarcerating her would be harmful to his ailing mother-in-law whom Feldman looks after. The prosecutor pounced on this opportunity to interrogate her father irrelevantly about whether his daughter is an anarchist, rather than concern himself with the legal issues at hand. (See transcript of hearing, 11-17-09.)

“If the prosecutor had substituted the word ‘capitalist’ or ‘socialist’, or ‘Christian’ or ‘Muslim’ for every utterance of the word ‘anarchist,’ correction by his superiors or the courts would have been swift,” said Attorney Ben Rosenfeld, a member of the Board of the Civil Liberties Defense Center. “Mr. Cronk appears to have forgotten, and no one in charge seems to care, that we are not supposed to condemn entire groups of people based on their beliefs.” Cronk later sought to defend his interrogation of Feldman’s father, writing:

By definition, anarchy is a “state of society without government or law” and an anarchist is “a person who seeks to overturn by violence all constituted forms and institutions of society and government, with no purpose of establishing any other system of order in the place of that destroyed.” (See Government’s Sur Reply Brief, 1-21-10, pg. 10.)

Cronk did not attribute the quotations, which appear to come from dictionary.com, and which differ starkly from those found elsewhere, including at wikipedia.com.

“He could not be more ignorant about what anarchism actually means,” Rosenfeld said. “If he had read anything by actual anarchist thinkers, he would know that anarchism is an intellectual philosophy which holds that governments everywhere are constituted to protect the rich, that they share more repressive similarities than differences, and that we should all work together at the local and grass roots levels to lift up the meek among us. In a sense, it is the best of libertarianism and democratic socialism combined.” Lauren Regan added: “Smearing all anarchists as violent criminals is like blaming all Christians for the murder of abortion doctors. The irony is that by engaging in a political witch hunt, the U.S. Attorney is underscoring the anarchist critique of our current system, as well as people’s distrust of the grand jury process.”

Mr. Cronk’s personal crusade is not without official context. On January 14, 2006, FBI spokesman David Picard told CBS affiliate Channel 13 in Sacramento: “One of our major domestic terrorism programs is the ALF, ELF, and anarchist movement, and it’s a national program for the FBI.” His statement echoes J. Edgar Hoover’s infamous description of the FBI’s ideologically-driven Counterintelligence Program (“COINTELPRO”), designed in Hoover’s words to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” undesirable political targets. Similar to Cronk’s conduct in this case, another federal prosecutor, Wallace Kleindienst, told reporters in December 2005, following animal rights activist Rod Coronado’s conviction for nonviolently disrupting a mountain lion hunt in Arizona: “I know he wasn’t tried here for being a violent anarchist. This trial wasn’t about Rod Coronado being a terrorist, but he is one.”

The government’s careless and anti-constitutional syllogism that animal rights activists equal “anarchists” equal “domestic terrorists” appears to come from the upper echelons of the Department of Justice. On January 20, 2006, in a press release announcing the first arrests in Operation Backfire, the Oregon-centered investigation into a series of politically motivated eco-arsons, FBI Director Robert Mueller vowed of the ALF and ELF: “We are committed to working with our partners to disrupt and dismantle these movements....” Since then, he has repeatedly revealed that the FBI is targeting anarchists generally. For example, addressing the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on September 10, 2007, he equated anarchists with terrorists, saying: “Single issue groups and domestic terrorists, which include white supremacists, anarchists, and eco-terrorists, continue to be a concern.”

“In light of such inflammatory remarks by the FBI’s own Director, it is clear that prosecutors like Mr. Cronk have been given the green light to ignore the Constitution and the law, and would seek to punish Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth based on nothing but his labeling of them as anarchists,” said Attorney Lauren Regan. Rosenfeld added, “Our government should not be in the business of trying to ‘dismantle’ political movements, as the FBI Director put it.”

Meanwhile, more than two months after the court found her in contempt, 20-year Carrie Feldman still sits in jail, accused of no crime. She appealed her contempt ruling, but in a 2-1 split decision issued on January 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit declined to release her. The majority gave no reason other than to say that “sealed documents [submitted by] the government ... indicate that the statute of limitations has not necessarily expired...” (emphasis added). However, the dissenting Judge – who presumably viewed the same secret evidence submitted by the government – found that the statute of limitations had expired, and therefore that the government cannot hold Feldman under subpoena, since grand juries may not be used to gather evidence for prosecution once a crime has been charged, as it has in this case. The Court did not address the allegations of prosecutorial bias, or whether the lower court erred when it found Feldman in contempt without sending her back into the grand jury room to testify. (See Appellate Order, 1-22-10.)

“Everyone thinks we’re moving toward a greater recognition of civil rights under Obama,” said Attorney Ben Rosenfeld. “Instead we’re going backward – all the way back to the sedition laws, and the political inquisitions of Joseph McCarthy.”

(For more information, see the support website for Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth at www.davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com, where a number of the documents cited in this press release are posted.)


8th annual State of Indian Nations Address


The National Congress of American Indians cordially invites you to watch the 8th annual State of Indian Nations Address

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Live webcast at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. If you missed it, you may watch it
on-demand.

Delivered by NCAI President Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.


News from Indianz.Com

Indigenous Environmental Network News


Vol. 3, No. 2 - January 2010

In this issue:


>>Carbon Markets Violate Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Threaten Cultural Survival
>>Goldtooth: Raising the bar after Copenhagen
>>Position Opening: Executive Director- Energy Action Coalition
>>INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ASSEMBLY 2010
>>Support CSTC Opposition to the Enbridge Pipeline & Joint Panel Review
>>Will You Be a Victim of Killer Coal?
>>Lawsuit to Be Filed to Stop Pollution at Proposed PolyMet Mine Site
>>US Social Forum
>>RIGHTS: U.N. Condemns Land Grabs in Native Territories
>>Coal's Assault on Human Health
>>Tar Sands-Worlds Biggest Climate Crime
>>Talking about the tar sands in Copenhagen
>>Seven Priorities for EPA’s Future
>>Lawsuit to Be Filed to Stop Pollution at Proposed PolyMet Mine Site


Read the newsletter and support the IEN.


On Tour: Blackfire

Blackfire's European tour schedule is posted at http://blackfire.net/calendar-2/. A midwest tour is also being planned for April-May. Also Blackfire will be back at the Grassroots Festival in July.




29 Jan 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

Pakistan’s Wealth Divide and Rising Militancy
A NATO convoy came under assault Thursday while carrying supplies through Pakistan to Afghanistan in a rare ambush inside Karachi. We speak with Quratulain Bakhteari, founding director of the Institute for Development Studies and Practices, about rising militancy in Pakistan.

EXCLUSIVE…Blackwater’s Youngest Victim: Father of 9 Year-Old Killed in Nisour Square Gives Most Detailed Account of Massacre to Date
Today a Democracy Now! exclusive report from Jeremy Scahill about a nine year old boy, shot in the head and killed by Blackwater in the infamous Nisour Squre massacre. His father, who is suing the private military contractor, provides the most detailed eyewitness account of the massacre to date. Scahill has conducted an in-depth investigation of the massacre and of nine-year old Ali Kinani’s death. He files an exclusive report with Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films.

“The Citizens’ Candidate”–Grassroots Effort Uses Craigslist to Find Candidate For Utah House Seat
Utah Democratic incumbent Congressmember Jim Matheson is facing a challenge from a coalition of progressives who have formed a grassroots effort called The Citizens’ Candidate to unseat him. The initiative is using Craigslist to find applicants willing to run against Matheson. A final candidate will be chosen through public interviews at the Salt Lake City Library on Saturday. We speak with The Citizens’ Candidate co-founder, Tim DeChristopher.

From Fracking to Freedom Riders, Documentaries at Sundance Take on Wide Range of Human Rights & Social Justice Issues
As we broadcast from the Sundance Film festival in Park City, we look at its documentary film program that focuses on stories of human rights, social justice, civil liberties, and freedom of expression. This year the festival includes 28 feature-length documentaries from the United States and around the world. They feature a wide range of subjects including an abortion clinic in Florida, Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard, natural gas fracking, the Freedom Riders, Chinese migrant workers, and many more.

Headlines

U.S. Submits Pledge to Reduce Emissions 4%
Divided Senate Confirms Bernanke for 2nd Term
Obama to Unveil Jobs Plan
Haitians Storm Food Sites as Hospitals Report Medicine Shortages
U.S. Cool to Karzai Overture to Taliban Leaders
Iran Executes 2 Arrested in Election Protests
Senate OKs New Iran Sanctions
California Senate Passes Single-Payer Bill
Oregon Voters Back Progressive Tax Hike


Thursday, January 28, 2010

News from Indianz.Com


Lakota woman goes for Senate confirmation hearing (1/28)

House Resources Committee website hit by hackers (1/28)

Gyasi Ross: Making excuses won't help Native people (1/28)

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe struggles after big storm (1/28)

Omaha Tribe goes two weeks under boil water order (1/28)

Bozo's Opinion: Obama pushing tribal jurisdiction bill (1/28)

Editorial: Don't negotiate taxes with New York tribes (1/28)

Blackfeet man 'was going to get beaten up' anyway (1/28)

Editorial: Alaska Native corporation's weak defense (1/28)

Institute of American Indian Arts welcomes visitors (1/28)

Formerly shunned Wampanoags running for council (1/28)

Mohegan Tribe to donate $50K to development fund (1/28)

Column: Bill goes after 'Indian' mascots in Colorado (1/28)

Tohono O'odham Nation 'more committed' to casino (1/28)

Opinion: Off-reservation casino bad deal for Mohawk (1/28)

Editorial: A historic union contract at Pequot casino (1/28)

Morongo Band continues push for Internet poker bill (1/28)

Mashantucket casino in Pennsylvania hit for delays (1/28)

More headlines...

28 Jan 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein Respond to Obama’s First State of the Union
President Obama delivered his first State of the Union address Wednesday night. A full two-thirds of the President’s seventy-minute address was devoted to the economy, the central theme of which was job creation. We get response from MIT professor Noam Chomsky and journalist and author Naomi Klein. [includes rush transcript]

Howard Zinn (1922-2010): A Tribute to the Legendary Historian with Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein and Anthony Arnove
We pay tribute to the late historian, writer and activist Howard Zinn, who died suddenly on Wednesday of a heart attack at the age of eighty-seven. Howard Zinn’s classic work A People’s History of the United States changed the way we look at history in America. It has sold over a million copies and was recently made into a television special called The People Speak. We remember Howard Zinn in his own words, and we speak with those who knew him best: Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein and Anthony Arnove. [includes rush transcript]

Headlines

Obama Stresses Job Recovery in State of Union Address
Zelaya Leaves Honduras as New President Takes Office
Report: US Military Spending in Haiti More Than Triples Assistance to Haitian Gov’t
Haiti Postpones Parliamentary Vote, Suspends Orphan Flights
Survivor Found Beneath Rubble After 15 Days
Report: Pentagon Sending More Special Ops to Yemen
Aid Groups: Militarization of Aid Endangering Afghan Civilians
Geithner Faces Congressional Outrage for AIG Bailout
Dems Seek to Undo Supreme Court Ruling on Corporate Electioneering