July 28, 2010

Document Reveals Military Was Concerned About Gulf War Vets' Exposure to Depleted Uranium

by: Mike Ludwig, t r u t h o u t | Report, Wednesday 28 July 2010

For years, the government has denied that depleted uranium (DU), a radioactive toxic waste left over from nuclear fission and added to munitions used in the Persian Gulf and Iraq wars, poisoned Iraqi civilians and veterans.

But a previously undisclosed 1993 Defense Department document written by then-Brigadier Gen. Eric Shinseki, now the secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), shows that the Pentagon was concerned about DU contamination and the agency had ordered medical testing on all personnel that were exposed to the toxic substance.

The VA, however, never conducted the medical tests, which may have deprived hundreds of thousands of veterans from receiving medical care to treat cancer and other diseases that result from exposure to DU.

The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center recently reported that ten years of data confirm that service members tend to have higher rates of certain cancers compared to civilians, according to the Army Times. While researchers suspected that service members are diagnosed with cancer more often and at a younger age because they have guaranteed access to health care and mandatory exams, the data does not explain the disparities in diagnosis among branches of the military. For example, the rate of lung cancer among sailors is twice that of other branches, while Marines have much lower cancer rates across the board.

On Tuesday, the VA's ongoing failure to treat and diagnose Gulf War related illnesses came up during a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee hearing where a veterans advocacy group urged Shinseki to undertake comprehensive research on the correlation between chronic illness and exposure to DU in munitions during the Gulf War.

Armed with Shinseki's 1993 memo, Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), said the VA, and Shinseki in particular, have "a rare opportunity for a second chance."

"In military terms, VCS asks VA for a ceasefire," said Paul Sullivan, the executive director for VCS. "VCS urges VA leadership to stop and listen to our veterans before time runs out, as VA is killing veterans slowly with bureaucratic delays and mismanaged research that prevent us from receiving treatments or benefits in a timely manner."

Sullivan, himself a Gulf War veteran, told the subcommittee that the VA has refused to listen to scientists and veterans who are concerned about DU, leaving thousands of veterans suffering from chronic illnesses related to the conflict unsure if they will ever receive a solid diagnosis to justify the benefits and treatment they need.

Of the 697,000 men and woman who served in Gulf War operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield between 1990 and 1991, about 250,000 suffer from symptoms collectively known as "Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses." The symptoms include fatigue, weakness, gastrointestinal problems, cognitive dysfunction, sleep disturbances, persistent headaches, skin rashes, respiratory conditions and mood changes, according to the VA.

The VCS also petitioned Shinseki to investigate the 2009 termination of a $75 million research project on Gulf War illnesses at the University of Texas medical center. Last year the VCS filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records of the "internal sabotage" of Gulf War Veterans Illnesses research and the intentional delaying of research and treatment, according to Sullivan. The VA has yet to release any documents about the impeded research, and VCS filed a FOIA appeal on June 29.

Sullivan said the VCS simply wants the government to support independent testing on veterans exposed to DU, but the Department of Defense prefers a "don't look, don't find policy."

"As a Gulf War veteran, I have watched too many of my friends die without answers, without treatment, and without benefits," Sullivan said. "In a few cases, veterans completed suicide due to Gulf War illness and the frustration of dealing with VA."

Sullivan testified as disturbing reports have emerged in recent months from Fallujah, Iraq, about the skyrocketing rates of birth defects and cancer, which are being blamed on DU-laced bombs and munitions used by US and British forces during a brutal coalition assault on the city in 2004. Iraqi human rights officials are reportedly planning to file a lawsuit.

DU is a dense metal added to munitions and bombs to pierce tanks and armor, and the military seems to chose unrestricted use of the radioactive substance over its soldiers' safety. Sullivan told Truthout that original medical tests ordered in a 1993 memo, which also called for personnel to be trained in dealing with contaminated equipment, were canceled after a training video scared soldiers.

"It was pulled after [the training video] was seen by some soldiers who became upset when they saw soldiers in moon suits holding Geiger counters, and the military realized that the training could present a problem in the battlefield where soldiers need to disregard exposure issues while trying to kill the enemy," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said that the DU "follow-up" program the VA consistently references was inadequate as it consisted of sporadic studies on only a small fraction of estimated 400,000 veterans exposed to the radioactive heavy metal.

"The VA does not listen to expert scientists. The VA does not even listen to Congress," Sullivan said in his testimony. "Two decades of inaction have already passed. Gulf War veterans urgently want to avoid the four decades of endless suffering endured by our Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange."

Sullivan said it took 40 years and an act of Congress to fund and sanction independent studies that proved the VA was responsible for providing benefits to soldier suffering from Agent Orange-related diseases.

The VA now recognizes that exposure to Agent Orange, an herbicide sprayed across Vietnam to kill foliage and expose guerrilla fighters, has plagued veterans with several deadly diseases and disorders.

VCS also advocated for the research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that became the foundation of new PTSD rules, making it easier for veterans to receive benefits.

Last week, the VA announced $2.8 million worth of research on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, a sum Sullivan called "paltry." A VA press release announcing the research does not mention DU. The release references a recent Institute of Medicine report that identified the quarter million veterans affected by various symptoms associated with Gulf War illness, which "cannot be ascribed to any psychiatric disorder and likely result from genetic and environmental factors, although the data are not strong enough to draw conclusions about specific causes."

Popular medical science holds that kidney damage is the primary health problem associated with exposure to high amounts of DU. The heavy metal is 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium, and is also linked to lung cancer in some cases and leukemia in even fewer cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Some critics have claimed that the WHO and governments have suppressed links between DU and cancer.

The debate over the use of DU in conventional warfare will rage on as the Fallujah fallout continues, but according to Sullivan, there is only one way for thousands of Gulf War veterans at home to know the truth and receive the relief they deserve.

"After 20 years of waiting, we refuse to wait on more empty promises from VA. The first step is for Secretary Shinseki and Chief of Staff Gingrich to immediately clean house of VA bureaucrats who have so utterly and miserably failed our veterans for too long," said Sullivan, vowing to petition Congress if the VA refuses to respond. "Our waiting must end now."
-thanks to Truthout

Veterans For Peace statement on the release of the WikiLeaks documents

Wikileaks revelations will spark massive resistance to Afghanistan War
Today the war in Afghanistan begins to crumble under the weight of government lies at home and criminal behavior on the battlefield.

Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan nine years ago, Veterans For Peace has been waiting for the day when internal documents would reveal what we have known all along -- this war is illegal, immoral and we must add, it is bankrupting our nation at a time when millions of Americans have been thrown out of work and thrown out of their homes.

Neither Wikileaks nor the soldier or soldiers who divulged the documents should be prosecuted for revealing this information. We should give them a medal.

Now that the rotten truth of the war has been dug out of government vaults and brought to light - the murder of civilians, the inexcusable deaths and injuries of our troops, the knife to the heart of every soldier's family member, the fact that "winning" in Afghanistan is meaningless, the outrage of our jobless and homeless as trillions are spent on war and bank bailouts - the most important question is, "what will we do about it?"

We can be sidetracked by watching the 24-hour news cycle regurgitate Obama administration denials and "expert" opinions. Or every single one of us can look in the mirror tomorrow morning and see the person responsible for bringing this war to an end. It really is as simple as that. We know this war is wrong. Now we have official proof. When will we do something?

If we have complained, we must write a letter. If we've written a letter, we must get into the streets. If we've marched in the streets we must sit down in them. If we've been to our representatives' district offices, we must return and not leave until they stop funding the war. If we've talked to our co-workers we must call in sick, slow down production, urge our union to call a strike.

Government can only function with the consent of the governed. We must withdraw our consent at every opportunity until this war is ended, the troops are brought home and we start to rebuild our nation. That is our responsibility and our mission.

As of today, no American can say, "I didn't know what was happening." Now each and every citizen knows. Now we must act like citizens and stop this war.

July 27, 2010

Help Bradley Manning / Because true heroism merits no punishment

Legal Fund Established to Fight Imprisonment of Accused WikiLeaks Whistleblower

Washington D.C., July 27, 2010 – At 4PM EST on July 27, the Bradley Manning Support Network (www.bradleymanning.org) will begin accepting online donations for the legal defense of Private First Class Bradley Manning.

The Network, a grassroots initiative formed to defend and support accused whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning, has partnered with Courage to Resist, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting military objectors.

Manning, a 22 year old intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq, stands accused of disclosing a classified video depicting American troops shooting civilians from an Apache helicopter in 2007. Eleven adults are killed in the video, including two Reuters employees, and two children critically injured. The video, available at www.collateralmurder.com, was published by WikiLeaks on April 5, 2010. No charges have been filed against the soldiers in the video.
Bradley Manning faces up to 52 years in prison if convicted of the charges against him.
While news sources have speculated about Manning’s involvement in a new leak of over 90,000 secret documents (collectively known as the Afghanistan “war logs”) made public by WikiLeaks on Sunday, no charges regarding this recent breach have been filed.

As of this writing, Manning has not yet chosen a civilian attorney to defend him in the expected trial. While several news sources had previously indicated that funding for Manning’s legal counsel was already arranged, the Bradley Manning Support Network states that there is an immediate need for donations to his legal defense.

Legal defense in this case will be particularly expensive because any legal team will most likely need a background in military law and the flexibility to travel overseas for the trial as well as secret security clearance.

“We have heard from the family and the military lawyers assigned to Bradley that the cost of his defense will be significant,” said Mike Gogulski, an online activist and founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network.
“We are also concerned that Bradley may choose his legal counsel based on his available funds. If he fears his family will absorb the cost of the trial, he might choose a less experienced, less expensive attorney. We’re very concerned about the ramifications of such a decision.”
The Bradley Manning Support Network passed a resolution on July 12, 2010 to begin fundraising for Manning’s legal defense. At this time, the Network estimates between $50,000 and $200,000 in legal fees and expenses will be needed to mount a vigorous defense on behalf of Manning. They have also indicated that WikiLeaks, who published and promoted the Collateral Murder video, has promised a significant donation to Manning’s defense.
“If Manning is the source of the video, then he did what he had to do to expose a possible war crime. So regardless, he’s wrongly imprisoned and we want to do everything possible to support him,”
said Jeff Paterson, Project Director of Courage to Resist.
“I know from past experience working with military objectors that public support and the right civilian defense team can be the difference between an administrative separation and years in the stockade.”
-thanks to the Bradley Manning Support Network

July 26, 2010

The New Pentagon Papers: WikiLeaks Releases 90,000+ Secret Military Documents Painting Devastating Picture of Afghanistan War

Democracy Now:

AMY GOODMAN: It’s one the biggest leaks in US military history. More than 90,000 internal records from US military actions in Afghanistan over the past six years have been published by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The documents provide a devastating portrait of the war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, how a secret black ops special forces unit hunts down targets for assassination or detention without trial, how Taliban attacks have soared, and how Pakistan is fueling the insurgency. WikiLeaks made the files available this week to the New York Times, The Guardian of London and the German weekly Der Spiegel, who agreed simultaneously to publish their reports on Sunday.
The documents, most of them classified as secret, give a blow-by-blow account of the war in Afghanistan between January 2004 and December of 2009. The findings include detailed reports on 144 attacks on civilians by coalition forces, ranging from the shootings of individuals to massive air strikes, resulting in hundreds of casualties; how a secret black ops special forces unit named Task Force 373 hunts down targets for assassination or detention without trial. The so-called "kill or capture" list of senior Taliban and al-Qaeda figures includes more than 2,000 names and is known as JPEL, the Joint Prioritized Effects List. The files also reveal how coalition forces are increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada.
The records reveal there has a been a steep rise in Taliban attacks on coalition troops and that the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles. In addition, the Taliban have caused growing carnage with a massive escalation on their roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians to date.
And the files reveal NATO commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fueling the insurgency. According to the New York Times, the records suggest Pakistan allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.

Watch or read the Democracy Now! program about the release of 90,000+secret documents about the War in Afghanistan.

Noam Chomsky's recorded address to the United National Peace Conference, 7/24/2010

Noam Chomsky was unable to attend the conference so he pre-recorded this message for the participants:
thanks to the Sanctuary for Independent Media

July 23, 2010

Genocide is: Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."

Monday, July 19, 2010
A Couple Weeks of Declarations; Celebrated, Reconsidered and Forced
"Although the mainstream media has danced around the subject, the main conflict over all the travel documents is centered on the insistence that we declare citizenship to a nation that is not our own. This is not just assimilation, it is by definition; genocide. The third act that constitutes genocide according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is: Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."
So a couple of days after Americans celebrated their Declaration of Independence from tyranny I travelled to Washington D.C. to observe and participate in the U.S. State Department's "Smart Partnership Dialogue" events. The events are to assist the State Department in their review of the U.S. position on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that position being a complete rejection of the entire document back in 2007.

The first day, July 7th, was the "Tribal Consultation", described as the "government-to-government tribal consultations between U.S. government agencies and federally recognized tribes". The State Department, which actually hosted the meeting at their facility, rolled out a few of its big guns for the event (don't get excited, Hillary was no where close) and rustled up some White House Indians, some Interior Department underlings and various other government agency staffers. The event was well attended; in fact the room was full to capacity. Sitting to the immediate left of the U.S. panel was the Haudenosaunee representatives; I single them out specifically because of the events that would unfold later in the week. A good portion of the discussion focused around religious rights, sacred sites, federal recognition and the general poverty of Indian Country. No one mentioned economic development, trade, passports or any issues related to Native sovereignty as it relates to the international community or the United Nations.

The second day was an opportunity for the NGO's to be heard; that's U.N. speak for non government organizations. In other words, the federally recognized tribal leaders had their day, now it was time for the people. This event was held at the Smithsonian's Museum of the Native Americans on the Capitol Mall. I went to listen for the Seneca Free Trade Association but to speak as a free thinking Kanienkehaka. And speak I did.

I began by expressing my cynicism for the whole process, especially with the agency's constant reference to the domestication of indigenous/tribal issues and the foreboding of potential conflicts should our issues no longer be held as domestic issues. I suggested that we take a look at how well we have fared with their domestication of us. I also expressed skepticism on the integrity and conscience of the international community as well. I actually brought up many of their domestic laws and policies including the passport issue as well as their Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative IDs that attempt to force our declaration of U.S. or Canadian citizenship. I brought up the citizenship act of 1924, the Homestead Act, the Dawes Act, income tax, draft registration for military service, BIA recognition, the conflict between state's rights and federal authority, jurisdiction, land loss, land use, land title and land claims. I brought up federal Indian law and the practice of establishing precedence against weaker tribes to apply force of law against others. I brought up trade and commerce as well as the role the United States plays in preventing our private sector development. I spoke of the tobacco trade and couldn't help but mention that tobacco was prominently displayed in full growth as part of the landscaping for the museum (and not traditional Indian tobacco but full broad leaf commercial grade tobacco). I brought up the overtures made by the President and the photo ops and of course the White House Indians. I brought up the PACT Act and called out Jodie Gillette in front of the whole auditorium for not giving us the time of day to discuss the damage that her boss signed into law. What I didn't know was what was about to transpire over the next couple of days.

A few days after the State Department finished courting us in D.C., the Iroquois National lacrosse team was held hostage by them in New York City. Bound for England to play in the World Lacrosse Championship Tournament in Manchester, the Haudenosaunee passport carriers ran into a brick wall. The United Kingdom refused to issue travel visas for the team without assurances from the State Department that the travellers would be allowed back home on their Haudenosaunee passports. In the eleventh hour Hillary Clinton intervened and ordered that the department issue a "one time" waiver to allow the use of the substandard travel documents for reentry into the U.S.. Feeling as if they were off the hook without really giving into the obstinate Indians, the State Department stepped out of the role as villain. The problem was that the Brits weren't satisfied. The U.S. had shoved the hi-tech travel documents down every one's throats in the name of 9-11 and Hillary's discretionary use of "one time" waivers was not cutting it for them, so now they insisted that the athletes either produce U.S. or Canadian passports, in other words fully recognized passports, to receive their visas. So a little more than a week after Americans celebrated their independence from their tyrant, the very people who lost more in and after the war that was fought for that independence were kicked around like illegal immigrants. The media had a frenzy with the issue but stayed cautiously close to the main story line: Iroquois Nationals banned from competition for insisting on using their own passports. There was never any connection made to the discussion over the U.N. Declaration. The Haudenosaunee representatives never broached the subject in Washington and the entire coverage of the issue as it developed never strayed beyond the lacrosse players. Only I mentioned the travel document issue in this "Smart Partnership Dialogue". If I had any idea these guys were heading to Europe I would have jumped all over the issue rather than just mentioning it. Our people face travel restrictions every day. With half of our Haudenosaunee communities north of the imaginary line and half south of it, as well as one Mohawk community straddling it, we can't even visit family without a fight over travel documents. Even without their international borders to cross, goods are seized even as we travel from one community to another in the commission of legal trade. As you read this, a prominent Seneca is on trial because his product was purchased by a Native retailer in the state of Washington without reporting the transaction to the state. Two Mohawk boys were permanently disabled when a U.S. Coast Guard vessel rammed their boat as a result of their refusal to yield to them as they travelled across the river from one part of Akwesasne to another. U.S. and Canadian officials blocked bridge access to part of Akwesasne simply because the people refused to allow Canadian Border Service Agents to be armed on Mohawk land. Vehicles that drive from one part of Akwesasne to another that don't first drive into the city of Cornwall to report are seized if they later enter Canada. Invitations to many countries are declined simply because of travel restrictions for those that refuse to declare themselves as U.S. or Canadian citizens and this is the real issue. Although the mainstream media has danced around the subject, the main conflict over all the travel documents is centered on the insistence that we declare citizenship to a nation that is not our own. This is not just assimilation, it is by definition; genocide. The third act that constitutes genocide according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is: Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

So where does this leave reconsideration of the U.N. Declaration? What is the point of open discussions if there is no transparency to what happens off stage? My skepticism of the international community could not have been more justified when one of the nations that has already signed attempts to force our people to declare subjugation to the only two countries on the planet that have refused to become signatory nations. Much of the debate about this U.N. document has been over its potential legal ramifications. We know from past experiences that the first time this is used as a legal document against the U.S. someone will challenge it and have the federal courts declare it unconstitutional as a legally binding agreement. Man-made law will not solve our issues; U.S., U.N. nor any other. Fair and honest diplomacy that can withstand international scrutiny is the only solution and it is long overdue, I do declare.

Posted by Ohnkwe Ohnwe at Native Pride

July 22, 2010

Camp Peaceprints continues Sister Karen Klimczak’s crusade

Vicky Ross joined forces with the Sister Karen Center to put on this year's Camp Peaceprints. If you drive around Buffalo you will see the signs of Sister Karen's legacy of struggling against violence in the community. The signs are on the front lawns, in the windows of homes, on bumperstickers and on peoples clothing. Year after year, long after she died working to make a difference, they continue to pop up everywhere. Here's the coverage of the camp on YNN:

By: Nicki Mayo / YNN
A summer camp strives for non-violence in the memory of Sister Karen Klimczak, a Buffalo nun killed while caring for ex-cons. YNN’s Nicki Mayo has details on Camp “Peace Prints.”

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Thirty summer campers are living peaceprints in memory of Sister Karen Klimczak.

“Sister Karen is known pretty well in Buffalo as someone who worked pretty hard for peace and ended up dying for peace,” said Camp Peaceprints' counselor Vicki Ross.

Sister Karen Klimczak was a St. Joseph’s nun. She was killed by a parolee at the Bissonette House on Good Friday 2006. Four years later these children are celebrating Sister Karen’s peaceful crusade at Camp Peaceprints.

“If you grow up being a violent person, you won’t get anywhere in your life,” said 10 year old camper Darnell Bell.

“They don’t do the right thing and they can get in trouble and go to jail,” added nine year old camper Elizabeth Mahanay.

The two week camp brings together youths ages eight to 13 from all over the Queen City.

They visit historic landmarks like the Colored Musicians Club and question Buffalo leaders, like Mayor Byron Brown, about what’s being done to improve safety in the streets.

From practicing peace to training tomorrow’s leaders. Camp Peaceprints wraps up Friday, but many of the campers will continue on to the Tomorrow’s Leaders Camp at St. Lawrence.”

This is 12year old Naja White’s second year with Camp Peaceprints. She says you’re never too young to promote peace in the streets.

“A lot of us lost family members to shootings so we just come together and ask everybody to just be friends for once,” said White.

“When you see the peaceprints all over Buffalo, we’re trying to leave peaceprints individually and collectively,” said Vicki Ross.

July 17, 2010

Sports Illustrated: Pride of a Nation, Iroquois Lacrosse featured in current issue (July 19th)

Saturday, July 17, 2010
Sports Illustrated: Pride of a Nation
Iroquois Lacrosse featured in current issue

The July 19 issue of Sports Illustrated hits newstands this week. Included in the magazine is a feature story by S.L. Price detailing the relationship between the game of lacrosse and Iroquois culture entitled "Pride of a Nation."

Price talked to several current and former Syracuse players and coaches for the story and visited the Onondaga reservation last month. Among those Price interviewed were rising senior midfielder Jeremy Thompson, Orange head coach John Desko, Brett and Freeman Bucktooth, Oren Lyons, Sid Smith, Roy Simmons III and Roy Simmons Jr.

UPDATE: Iroquois Nationals have not withdrawn from championships

July 17, 2010 Statement

Iroquois Nationals have not withdrawn from championships
The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team has not withdrawn from the 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships, currently underway in Manchester, England. Today we will forfeit the 2nd game through no fault of our own. The team stands ready to travel if the United Kingdom issues us clearance to travel.

The Board and Management of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team working with our legal advisor and board member Tonya Gonnella Frichner attempted to deliver to the U.K. Consulate in New York the documentation for visa applications on Tuesday, June 28th, but was turned away at the door without discussion – 19 days ago. A team from Jackson Lewis LLP, Washington, D.C. region, working pro bono; Joseph Heath, Esq., General Counsel for the Onondaga Nation, Syracuse, New York; Alex Page Esq., an attorney for the Haudenosaunee, Washington, D.C, and Bob Liff of M + R Strategic Services worked in concert to deliver to the U.K. Border Agency the proposal for review of our documentation that Tonya Gonnella Frichner attempted to deliver to the U.K. Consulate in New York on June 28th.

In fairness to the United Kingdom, and to the Iroquois Nationals, we believe all documents should be seen and considered by the United Kingdom for a more complete and comprehensive study of our request for entry.

photo : Native Pride
On the morning of July 17th, we received confirmation that the request for the review of documents had been received by the U.K. Border Agency, and that we would receive a response later in the day on July 17th. If we receive clearance to travel, we stand ready to go. If we do not get clearance to travel, we will return the Iroquois Nationals team members to their respective Six Nations, with the respect and honor they have brought to the citizens of the Haudenosaunee, to the Indigenous peoples of North America, and to the indigenous peoples of the world.

The 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse Championships continue on in Manchester. The FIL World Indoor Box Lacrosse Championships are scheduled for the Czech Republic in 2011. We stand second in the world in that competition. The Under-19 Men’s Field Lacrosse Championships are scheduled for Finland in 2012, and we intend to be there as well, as we hold the bronze medal in the 2008 games.
“We are not going away, we are an ancient people – we have seen a lot, been through a lot and yet we are still here. Seven Generations ago our people were looking out for us. Now it is our duty, and honor, and our privilege to look after the next seven generations coming.”
Joagquisho - Oren R. Lyons
Honorary Chairman
Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse

contact: Valerie Taliman 505.899.9110
Nassau, New York valerietaliman@gmail.com

-thanks to Lindsay Speer

July 14, 2010

Defend Bradley Manning! Facing 52 years for sharing military's video of US war crimes

By Courage to Resist. July 14, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower:
“From what I’ve heard of (Pfc. Bradley) Manning, he is a new hero of mine.”
In April, the Wikileaks website released a video depicting a US helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed eleven unarmed Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters employees, and seriously wounded two children. Titled “Collateral Murder”, the video was widely posted and reported on.

Last week, the Army charged 22-year-old intelligence analyst Pfc. Bradley Manning with providing the video after he allegedly took credit for doing so online. For the past month, he has been held in isolation from supporters and civilian legal assistance in a US military confinement facility in Kuwait.

The Potomac, Maryland native was charged with two counts of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The first encompasses eight alleged criminal offenses, and a second covers four noncriminal violations of Army regulations governing the handling of classified information and computers. According to the Army, the “classified video of a military operation in Iraq was transmitted to a third party, in violation of a section of the Espionage Act, 18 USC 793(e),” which involves passing classified information to an uncleared party, but not a foreign government. He allegedly also provided Wikileaks with 50 classified diplomatic cables that are thought to contain embarrassing insights into the state of the US occupation of Iraq.

News articles initially reported that the Iceland-based Wikileaks website intended to provide Bradley Manning with a legal defense team. However, the Army has so far blocked all communications with the soldier. Meanwhile, Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Eric Bloom has gone on record to deny that the isolation even exists.

It is possible that the Army prosecutors, in collaboration with an appointed military JAG “defense” lawyer, are using this time to pressure Bradley into accepting a plea bargain that will send him to prison for many years—but less than the threatened 52 years.

Courage to Resist, along with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Veterans for Peace, is launching an effort to support Bradley Manning. We know other concerned organizations and individuals around the world who are also in the process of finding ways to support Bradley Manning, and we expect to collaborate when possible. These include advocates for whistle-blowers and supporters of the freedom of information.

Writing a letter to Bradley is one step in attempting to break his isolation. Mail to: Inmate Bradley Manning; TFCF (Theater Field Confinement Facility); APO AE 09366; USA

A public letter of support, including initial signatures, will soon be available at couragetoresist.org. You’ll be able to add your name, and we’ll send the message by postal mail on your behalf to President Obama and the Department of the Army.

Since it is unknown if the unidentified Wikileaks lawyers plan any further efforts on Pfc. Manning’s behalf, it is possible that we may need to take responsibility for providing Bradley Manning with qualified civilian legal representation with military court martial experience who are willing to travel to Kuwait to do so. If so, the legal expenses would also include the need for expert witnesses. We may need to recruit a lawyer to travel to Kuwait to simply speak with Bradley to inform him of the support available to him. If it comes to that, Courage to Resist will ask supporters to donate funds earmarked for that purpose.

On July 11, in order to kick off this effort, nearly 100 participants at the 6th annual IVAW national convention in Austin, Texas—including retired Army Colonel Ann Wright—issued a call for Pfc. Bradley Manning to be allowed communication with civilian lawyers, and that he be released from confinement.

There is plenty of intrigue swirling around Bradley’s case, from Lady Gaga to the role of international hackers. However, in the middle of all that stands a young man who made a heroic choice to expose the crimes being committed in our names. We’ll do whatever possible to support him.

Collateral Murder Video

-thanks to Courage To Resist and Bradley Manning

Quoting Patraeus on the possibility of success in Afghanistan

click on graphic to enlarge

July 13, 2010

Oriana Bolden's video: "Community response to US systemic racism as evidenced by the murder of Oscar Grant, then reinforced by the Mehserle verdict."

Honor the treaties. Oppose the US blocking tactics. Allow the Iroquois Nationals to travel!

The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team is being prevented from traveling on Haudenosaunee passports to the Lacrosse World Championship for the first time since they joined the league in 1983. Please see below for a letter explaining the situation by Oren Lyons.
-according to Lindsay Speer this morning:
I've got the board of directors for the Iroquois Nationals on speed-dial. THIS is where you'll hear most directly what needs to be done. As of late last night, the word from Denise Waterman was that there was no change in the official stance of Homeland Security and the State Department, but that so many people had called and emailed that a difference was being made. "There are a lot of ears open and hearts opening within key places trying to find common ground. It's not a done deal either way. The more people who call, the better.
Please email the U.S. White House to ensure the team can travel ASAP. If this decision is not changed TODAY, the Iroquois Nationals will not be able to participate in the 2010 Lacrosse World Championship.

You can call the White House at 202-456-4771 to express your support for their clearance to leave and return to participate in the World LaCrosse Championships in Manchester, England, Today.

Let them know you did it by emailing tsadeyohdi@gmail.com
Suggested email (please feel free to personalize):
I am writing in support of the Iroquois Nationals' right to travel on their Haudenosaunee passports. The Haudenosaunee passport has been in use since 1977, when Haudenosaunee leaders traveled to Geneva to address the United Nations. The Iroquois Nationals have been traveling on the Haudenosaunee passport since 1983.
If not rectified today, the United States' delay in guaranteeing that the Iroquois Nationals will be allowed to return to their homelands while traveling on the Haudenosaunee passport will prevent the Iroquois Nationals from playing in the championship. I urge you to do everything you can to allow this team to compete. It is only right that they be allowed to travel on the passport of the nation they represent at this international championship.
Your name here

Dear Friends,
The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team's travel documents were declared unacceptable for travel by the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security at 4 pm, July 8, 2010. This is traumatic to the Iroquois Nationals' travel schedule and budget. The Board of Directors, Travel Committee, Coaches, Staff and Team of almost 50 people are struggling to convince the Department of State and Homeland Security to accept our travel documents so that our All-American team can compete as a nation against team Canada, team USA, team England, team Australia and team Japan in the premiere Blue Division of the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) at the FIL World Lacrosse Championships hosted by England at Manchester from July 15 to 24, 2010.
The game of De-hon-tshi-gwa' ehs (Lacrosse) has become an inspiration to a third of the world's youth – 109 countries in all. The long-stick game is a gift to the world from the Haudenosaunee, the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. It would be strange – beyond strange, indeed – if the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team, the national team of the Haudenosaunee were denied participation in the World Lacrosse Championships by agencies of the United States. We are perplexed by this position taken by the Obama Administration.

Brett Bucktooth of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team
Since the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team's admittance to the Federation of International Lacrosse in 1983, the team has participated in every world competition as a member nation, flying our own colors, singing our own anthem and traveling on our own Haudenosaunee passports to England (1985, 1994), Australia and Japan. As citizens we have traveled internationally on our own passports since 1977. We do not take this issue of passports lightly. We have traversed our request with the utmost respect for the sovereignty of the nations involved. As Indigenous Peoples of North America, we have over 200 years of treaties and international relations with our brother, the United States.

We need your support to help convince the U.S. to accommodate our travel to Manchester, England. The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team and Team England are scheduled to open the World Lacrosse Championships at 7:00 pm Thursday July 15th.

This is a call for support. We want to ensure that Native Peoples should not be told they cannot leave or cannot return to their homelands.
Please contact the White House at 202.456.4771 to express your support for our clearance to leave and return to participate in the World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester, England, as soon as possible. Let us know you did so by emailing tsadeyohdi@gmail.com
Please also email White House Indian Affairs senior staff Kimberly TeeHee at Kimberly_K._TeeHee@who.eop.gov and two State Department officials, Kathleen Milton at miltonkm@state.gov and Lynn Sicade at sicadelm@state.gov.
Thank you for your support. When we win, you win.
Day na to,
Joagquisho, Oren R. Lyons
Honorary Chairman
Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team
News Coverage:
Syracuse Post-Standard: Passport dispute halts Iroquois lacrosse team's trip to world competition in England
Indian Country Today: Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse team delayed for World Games by Homeland Security passport fiasco & The Haudenosaunee ‘right of return’
AP: US rule could keep Iroquois from lacrosse tourney

-thanks to the Syracuse Peace Council

July 10, 2010

Reacting to the 2nd Oscar Grant miscarriage of justice

These 2 articles are from the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Dellums is “Proud” of How Oakland Responded to Mehserle Verdict
By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN) Friday July 09, 2010
OAKLAND (BCN)— Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums said today that he's "incredibly, extraordinarily, unwaveringly proud" of the way city residents responded to the involuntary manslaughter conviction for former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle for the death of Oscar Grant III.

Dellums said "people came out with pain and anger" at a rally in downtown Oakland Thursday night shortly after the verdict was announced, but he believes most Oakland residents protested peacefully.
photo: Jesse Strauss / Berkeley Daily Planet
Speaking at a new conference at the city's emergency services office, Dellums said, "We saw acts of courage and great dignity last night" at the rally, which was attended by nearly 1,000 people.

The mayor also praised his city's Police Department for "showing great restraint and respect for civil rights" in responding to protesters.

Many downtown business suffered property damage, such as broken windows, and there was looting at some stores, such as the Foot Locker shoe store at 1430 Broadway.

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said three-fourths of the 78 people who were arrested when the protest turned violent were from outside Oakland and appeared to be anarchists who were intent on creating havoc.

"People are coming from outside Oakland to cause problems and that needs to stop," Batts said.

He displayed various items that police seized while making arrests, such as gas containers used in making Molotov cocktails, tennis shoes from the Foot Locker store, baseball bats and spray paint that was used to spray graffiti on downtown buildings.

Batts said his officers "stood tall last night in the midst of people spitting at them, throwing rocks at them" and shouting racial slurs at them.

"I apologize to the businesses that were impacted" by property damage, Batts said.

He said, "We moved as quickly as possible to limit the damage."

A large group of Oakland police officers stood by and didn't respond initially when a group of people broke into the Foot Locker store and stole shoes and other items.
Batts said, "You can't just run into a crowd" and noted that officers had been overrun by protesters earlier in the evening when they tried to remove two men who were trying to block an AC Transit bus that was traveling on Broadway.

He said, "The crowd reacted to us and you can't just have police squads go right in" because they might get surrounded.

Dellums said protesters had "a legitimate constitutional right to assemble" and he didn't want police to respond in an "oppressive and militaristic" manner.

But he admitted that some people took advantage of their freedom to assemble and "exploited the openness."

Batts said his department, which was assisted by 15 other law enforcement agencies Thursday night, is preparing for possible additional protests tonight and over the weekend.

However, he said his department hasn't heard of any more protests so far.

First Person: Searching for Justice as Oakland Streets Turn Lawless
By Jesse Strauss Friday July 09, 2010
As the Oakland community begins to understand the meaning of Johannes Mehserle’s involuntary manslaughter verdict, the streets exploded angrily last night.

Mehserle is the former BART cop who killed Oscar Grant on New Year’s morning, 2009. As Grant was lying face down on a BART platform, Mehserle stood up, grabbed his firearm, aimed down, and shot Grant. Mehserle’s next action was to handcuff the wounded 22 year old father before calling for any kind of medical assistance. Oscar Grant was killed that morning, but the Oakland community will never forget his name.

Yesterday at 4pm, an LA courthouse announced the jury’s verdict, that Mehserle killed Grant with “criminal negligence”, receiving the charge of involuntary manslaughter. From what I understand at the time of this writing, the verdict could mean that Oscar Grant’s killer will serve anywhere from two to fourteen years in jail.

It’s clear, though, that the Oakland community does not consider the conviction strong enough. Speaker after speaker at the 6pm rally in downtown Oakland told the crowd of at least a thousand that they were disappointed with the verdict. Many folks spoke out about their feelings in different ways, but no one seemed comfortable with what had happened. At the same time, no one seemed uncomfortable by the huge amount of support given by the larger Bay Area. What many sources have called “outside agitators”, many people in the streets last night recognized as community support.

While we think about the mainstream narrative of “outsiders”, it seems important to keep in mind that Oscar Grant himself lived in Hayward, and Mehserle was not an Oakland cop, but a BART officer, which meant his jurisdiction spanned across a range of cities throughout the Bay Area. Oakland simply and justifiably is at the center of this action.

The “inside agitators”, who are mostly Oaklanders (although I did see some people from Berkeley, Hayward and Vallejo), clearly played a strong role in the community response to the verdict. As the formal rally came to a close at 8pm when organizers were ordered to shut it down by the city, it became clear that the police forces, whether Oakland cops, California Highway Patrol, or others from nearby cities, were excited and ready to use their new training and equipment on the people who came out to voice their opinions

. Once the rally ended, at least two people had already been arrested, but it was not clear to any of us witnessing the events what prompted those arrests. Only a few minutes later, I was told that a block away a Footlocker’s windows were broken and its contents ransacked by community members. When I arrived there, I watched some young people grab shoes in the store and run out before two others blocked the entrance, telling others that justice for Oscar Grant does not look like what we were seeing.

But what does justice look like?

photo: Jesse Strauss / Berkeley Daily Planet
As I walked away from Footlocker, I saw freshly sprayed graffiti covering windows and businesses with statements like “Justice 4 Oscar Grant” and “Off The Pigs”. Continuing down the street, I saw protesters running in any direction they could find to avoid confrontations with police, who were slowly marching up Broadway Avenue in Downtown Oakland.

Then the shattering started. Much of the next few hours became a blur. I watched numerous windows at the downtown Oakland Sears fall to the ground as someone lit small fireworks nearby. Sirens echoed in every direction and police announced that the gatherings were illegal and we would be arrested and possibly “removed by force which could cause serious bodily injury”. Minutes later, the wind carried a draft of pepper spray toward me as I walked by three large flaming dumpsters in the middle of Telegraph Avenue.

In the midst of all the action I searched for some kind of organization—some kind of unified goal or idea of justice. The community is angry, and there is no correct platform to address that anger. For those who are sure that Mehserle should be charged with a crime stronger than involuntary manslaughter, the legal approach did not work.

While leadership and organization seemed to have flown out the window, it did seem that the rebellions were much more calculated than those just after Grant’s murder, as most of the broken windows were concentrated at corporate giants like Footlocker and Starbucks. The strongest organization I witnessed in Oakland’s streets last night was the groups of people preventing attacks on local businesses.

The police came in as a close second. They didn’t seem to know how to deal with what was going on, but they would march in formation down a street, only to watch new trash cans light up and windows shatter another block down. While they may have been organized within their small army, officers had no idea how to deal with the realities of last night. In fact, it became clear to me that they made Oakland’s streets very unsafe.

As I walked from Telegraph to Broadway on Grand Avenue, first watching a Starbucks window broken and then that of a sushi restaurant, I realized the night was getting out of hand for everyone. Trying to stay connected with some sort of normality and step away from the crazy streets, I called a friend. As soon as my conversation was over I looked down at my phone to hang up. Then a hand came out of nowhere, perhaps over my shoulder, and grabbed the phone. I tried to hold onto it until I was startled and disoriented by a fist slamming into my eye and I let the phone disappear as blood began dripping from just above my left eyelid.

But where were the police to respond to a robbery and assault in the middle of a major intersection in downtown Oakland? They were clearly not making it safe for me to be in that space, and it is still unclear who or what they made it safe for. The person or people who have the phone and gave me a black eye and some possible medical bills were not crazy and violent Oaklanders that need to be policed to help or save people like me. These were people who took advantage of a lawless space that our law enforcement officers created themselves.

The night started with people moving and becoming angry (or angrier) because police declared a peaceful gathering in the street to be illegal. Windows were broken because people were angry and moving quickly down the streets with nowhere to voice their anger safely.

Hours later, I’m lying in bed with a black eye and a gash above my eyelid. I can only imagine how my night would have ended if the police hadn’t declared the peaceful gathering illegal and created a sense of lawlessness in Oakland’s streets.

This is not justice for Oscar Grant. But what is? From Grant’s murder to those of us who were endangered by police last night, law enforcement needs to be held accountable to the communities they serve. That at least seems like a good starting point.

Born and raised in Oakland, Jesse Strauss is a producer for Flashpoints (www.flashpoints.net) on Pacifica Radio. His articles have been published on Truthout, Common Dreams, CounterPunch, Consortium News, and other sources. Reach him at jstrauss (at) riseup.net

July 8, 2010

VFP's "How is The War Economy Working for you?" banner drop.

peacsign | June 27, 2010
Members of Veterans For Peace (VFP), attending the U.S. Social Forum, a gathering of over 8,000 activists from across the U.S., created and erected the 10 x 15-foot sign that reads, "HOW IS THE WAR ECONOMY WORKING FOR YOU?" Detroit has an unemployment rate of 15 percent and 10,000 abandoned homes on the mayor's demolition list.

Taxpayers in Detroit have sent a total of nearly two billion dollars to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The city's 2011 general fund budget of 1.3 billion dollars contains an estimated deficit of 300 million dollars, even after years of cutbacks in services once assumed to be part of urban life. The budget for Detroit schools has a deficit in the same range.

"Detroit, like so many of our cities, is in crisis," said Mike Ferner, National President of VFP. "This crisis is no different than a five-alarm fire and we should respond the same way. Instead, we watch America's cities literally crumble while we pour thousands of lives and trillions of dollars into wars abroad."

John Amidon, President of VFP Chapter 10, added, "It's absolutely criminal that the people who built the U.S. auto industry have to watch their city collapse around them while they send $2,000,000,000 to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is indeed the purest form of madness and it's coming to a city near you."

Excellent Toronto Star editorial: "Win for war resisters"

Published On July 08, 2010
Last line in editorial: [A new private member’s bill put forward by Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy comes up for a vote in September. It would allow foreign military deserters to stay if their action is based on “sincere moral, political or religious objection.” The bill deserves support.]

Parliament has voted twice to let Iraq war resisters from the United States stay in Canada. Now the Federal Court of Appeal has added its voice to the debate.

On Tuesday, the court ruled that Jeremy Hinzman, an asylum-seeking American paratrooper and conscientious objector, should have another chance at remaining in Toronto, where he has settled with his wife, son and baby daughter. The court found that an immigration officer’s 2008 decision to deny Hinzman’s application for permanent residence in Canada was “unreasonable” and “significantly flawed” because it didn’t take into account his pacifist religious beliefs.

The latest decision gives Hinzman and his family new hope, but it shouldn’t have come to this. And it wouldn’t have, but for the Harper government’s ideological stand that those who refuse U.S. war duty are bogus refugee claimants. “Our government remains convinced that U.S. military deserters are not genuine refugees and do not fall under internationally accepted definitions of people in need of protection,” said a statement issued Wednesday by the government.

The government earlier dismissed Parliament’s two motions to grant war resisters permanent resident status as “non-binding.” So two other resisters were subsequently deported and sentenced to U.S. jail time on charges of desertion.

Hinzman should avoid that fate. The Georgia-born soldier deserted in 2004 after Washington rejected his application for conscientious objector status. He fled to Canada in the belief we would welcome him, as we did those who avoided duty in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.

A new private member’s bill put forward by Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy comes up for a vote in September. It would allow foreign military deserters to stay if their action is based on “sincere moral, political or religious objection.” The bill deserves support.

-see Laura's post at We Move To Canada

July 7, 2010

Federal Court of Appeal rules in favour of Iraq War resister Jeremy Hinzman and family

Press release from WAR RESISTERS SUPPORT CAMPAIGN Tuesday, July 6, 2010:

Federal Court of Appeal rules in favour of Iraq War resister Jeremy Hinzman and family
Immigration Minister must act as directed by Parliament and let resisters stay in Canada

TORONTO — This afternoon the Federal Court of Appeal issued its unanimous judgment that an immigration officer's decision rejecting Jeremy Hinzman's application for permanent residence in Canada was "significantly flawed" and "unreasonable".

The Federal Court of Appeal decided that the Federal Court erred in a June 2, 2009 ruling by dismissing the application by U.S. Iraq war resister Jeremy Hinzman for judicial review of a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) Officer's humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds decision. The PRRA Officer had rejected the application by Hinzman and his family, from within Canada, for permanent residence.

Jeremy Hinzman was the first U.S. Iraq War resister to seek refuge in Canada. He, along with his wife Nga Nguyen and their son Liam arrived in Canada on January 3, 2004. Their daughter Meghan was born in Toronto on July 21, 2008.
"This decision is important for all Iraq War resisters in Canada," said Michelle Robidoux, spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign. "The Federal Court of Appeal has clearly said that immigration officers can no longer ignore the sincerely held beliefs of these soldiers. Canadians understand and support the decision these soldiers made in rejecting the Iraq War. It's time for the Harper government to stop deporting them and to let them stay in Canada."
The Hinzman-Nguyen family's Federal Court of Appeal hearing took place on May 25, 2010, the same day that a private member's bill in support of Iraq War resisters – Bill C-440 – was debated in Parliament at Second Reading. The vote on Second Reading is expected to take place shortly after the House of Commons resumes sitting in September.
"The House of Commons has twice voted to let Iraq War resisters stay in Canada," said Bill Siksay, MP (Burnaby—Douglas). "Canadians support Parliament's demand that the Conservative minority government stop deporting these veterans. When will Immigration Minister Jason Kenney act as directed by Parliament and use his ministerial authority to give Iraq War resisters permanent resident status?"
Bill C-440, brought forward by Liberal Gerard Kennedy, MP (Parkdale—High Park) on September 17, 2009 and seconded by New Democrat Bill Siksay, will compel the government to respect direction that has already been given twice by Parliament through motions that were adopted on June 3, 2008 and March 30, 2009. The Conservative government has ignored the motions, calling them "non-binding," and refused to grant Permanent Resident status to Iraq War resisters. Since the first motion was adopted, Iraq War resisters Robin Long and Cliff Cornell have been forced back to the U.S. where they were court martialed, convicted of desertion and jailed. Iraq War veteran and resister Rodney Watson remains in sanctuary in the First United Church in Vancouver where he sought refuge after being ordered deported by the Harper government.

A public opinion poll conducted by Angus Reid Strategies in June 2008 found that 64 per cent of Canadians supported Parliament's vote directing the minority Harper government to immediately stop deporting Iraq War resisters and create a program to facilitate the resisters' requests for permanent resident status.


Excerpts from the Federal Court of Appeal ruling – July 6, 2010:
The beliefs and motivations of Mr. Hinzman were of important significance to the ultimate decision, given the context of an H&C application. The appellants had also provided some evidence that the right to conscientious objection "is an emerging part of international human rights law" (Zoljagharkhani v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1993] 3 F.C. 540 (FCA), at paragraph 15). The Officer had given some weight in her PRRA decision to the views of Amnesty International. Still, there is no assessment of these factors in her H&C decision. ...

The H&C Officer had the duty to look at all of the appellants' personal circumstances, including Mr. Hinzman's beliefs and motivations, before determining if there were sufficient reasons to make a positive H&C decision (ibidem, Chapter 5, section 11.3). She did not. Had the Applications Judge addressed the appellants' ground of complaint, as stated at paragraph 57 of his Reasons, I am convinced that he would have concluded as I do and found that the H&C decision was significantly flawed and therefore unreasonable.
Posted by redsock at 7/06/2010 11:51:00 PM
-thanks to the War Resister Support Campaign for this press release and all the legal work they do for the Resisters
-and thanks to Redsock for his post on We Move To Canada

July 6, 2010

Thorold, Ontario Amputee Has His Artificial Leg Ripped Off By Police And Is Slammed In Makeshift Cell During G20 Summit

John and Susan Pruyn at home and away form the G20 summit in Thorold, Ontario. Photo by Doug Draper

By Doug Draper, July 5, 2010
John Pruyn wasn’t much in the mood for celebrating Canada Day this year.

John and Susan Pruyn at home and away form the G20 summit in Thorold, Ontario. Photo by Doug Draper

How could he be after the way he was treated a few days earlier in Toronto by figures of authority most of us were brought up to respect, our publicly paid-for police forces who are supposed to be there to serve and protect peaceful, law-abiding citizens like him.

The 57-year-old Thorold, Ontario resident – an employee with Revenue Canada and a part-time farmer who lost a leg above his knee following a farming accident 17 years ago – was sitting on the grass at Queen’s Park with his daughter Sarah and two other young people this June 26, during the G20 summit, where he assumed it would be safe.

As it turned out, it was a bad assumption because in came a line of armoured police, into an area the city had promised would be safe for peaceful demonstrations during the summit. They closed right in on John and his daughter and the two others and ordered them to move. Pruyn tried getting up and he fell, and it was all too slow for the police.

As Sarah began pleading with them to give her father a little time and space to get up because he is an amputee, they began kicking and hitting him. One of the police officers used his knee to press Pruyn’s head down so hard on the ground, said Pruyn in an interview this July 4 with Niagara At Large, that his head was still hurting a week later.

Accusing him of resisting arrest, they pulled his walking sticks away from him, tied his hands behind his back and ripped off his prosthetic leg. Then they told him to get up and hop, and when he said he couldn’t, they dragged him across the pavement, tearing skin off his elbows , with his hands still tied behind his back. His glasses were knocked off as they continued to accuse him of resisting arrest and of being a “spitter,” something he said he did not do. They took him to a warehouse and locked him in a steel-mesh cage where his nightmare continued for another 27 hours.

“John’s story is one of the most shocking of the whole (G20 summit) weekend,” said the Ontario New Democratic Party’s justice critic and Niagara area representative Peter Kormos, who has called for a public inquiry into the conduct of security forces during the summit. “He is not a young man and he is an amputee. …. John is not a troublemaker. He is a peacemaker and like most of the people who were arrested, he was never charged with anything , which raises questions about why they were arrested in the first place.”

Pruyn told Niagara At Large that he never was given a reason for his arrest . When he was being kicked and hand-tied, police yelled at him that he was resisting arrest. Then a court officer approached him two hours before his release on Sunday evening, June 27, and told him he should not still be there in that steel -mesh cage. So why were Pruyn and his daughter Sarah, a University of Guelph student, who was locked up somewhere else, detained in a makeshift jails for more than 24 hours, along with many other mostly young people who, so far as he could hear and see, had nothing to do with the smashing of windows and torching of a few police cars by a few hundred so-called ‘Black Bloc’ hooligans that weekend?

Why was Pruyn slammed in a cell without his glasses and artificial limb, with no water to drink in the heat for five hours and only a cement floor to sit and sleep on before his captors finally gave him a wheelchair? Why was he never read his rights or even granted the opportunity to make one phone call to a lawyer or his family – the same rights that would be granted to a notorious criminal like Clifford Olsen or Paul Bernardo?

He never received an answer to these questions and, he said, “I was never told I was charged with anything.” Neither were many of the others who were penned up in that warehouse with him, including one person who was bound to a wheelchair because was paralyzed on one side and begging, over and over again, to go to the washroom before finally wetting his pants.

Pruyn said others in the warehouse begged for a drink of water and younger people made futile pleas to call their parents to at least let them know where they were. In the meantime, Pruyn’s wife, Susan, was frantically trying to find out from the police and others what happened to her husband and daughter. She found out nothing until they were finally released 27 hours after she was supposed to meet back with them at a subway station near Queen’s Park.

So what was this all about and why were John and Sue Pruyn arrested if they were part of the gathering of peaceful demonstrators in the Queen’s Park area? Was their crime to dare to come to Toronto in the first place and join with those who express concerns about the G20 and whether it has any concern at all for the environment, for people living in poverty, for fair access to health care and other issues important to people around the world who fall into the category of ‘have nots’?

Pruyn wonders if the idea of the crackdown was to send a message to the public at large that gatherings of opposition to government policies won’t be tolerated. “That is (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper’s attitude,” he said. “He doesn’t like dissent in his own (party) ranks.”

Kormos said some might respond to the crackdown against the G20 summit demonstrators by saying that they should have stayed home or they should not have been there, or that if they were swept up by the police, they should have nothing to worry about if they did nothing wrong. But that misses the point, he said. It misses the possibility that this was another example of the province and country sliding down a path of clamping down on citizens’ right to gather together and express views that may not be popular with the government of the day.

Kormos stressed again that a public inquiry is needed, not only for those demonstrators arrested and roughed up during the summit, but for those shop owners in Toronto that had their stores vandalized by a horde of hooligans with little apparent presence of police officers to prevent it.

Asked if there was any possibility a few hundred black-clad vandals were allowed to run wild to make the thousands of people there to demonstrate peacefully look badly, Kormos responded; “That’s why we need a public inquiry.”

Susan Pruyn agreed. “ We need a public inquiry for all of the people who went (to Toronto) with good intentions and who ended up suffering that weekend,” she said.
-article from Niagara At Large
and thanks to Alex Lisman for pointing us here.

37 people arrested after protests at Y-12 nuclear weapons plant

Blocking the road to the Bomb plant. / photo: Clare Hanrahan

Tom Palumbo posted the following earlier today:
As of tonight 3 women remain in the Anderson County lockup, and 14 (including Steve Baggarly from the Norfolk Catholic worker) are behind bars in Maryville TN facing up to 1 year federal time. As for me I am out sleeping on the floor of a church, with a notice to appear next Tuesday.
More than three dozen people were arrested after a protest at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge around 10 am Monday morning.

According to Oak Ridge Chief of Police David Beams, his department arrested 23 people for blocking a roadway at the Y-12 plant. All of those people were taken to the AndersonCounty Detention Facility for processing and were released with state misdemeanor citations.

Beams says an additional 14 people were arrested by U.S. Marshal's on federal trespassing charges, for scaling the fences at Y-12 to get on the property. Those people were taken to Blount County's Detention Facility.

photo from Tom's facebook album

The protesters were commemorating the 30th anniversary of the initial "Plowshares" anti-nuclear weapons protest that took place in 1980

At the Resistance for a Nuclear Free Future convergence, Maryville, Tennessee
July 2010 / photo: Clare Hanrahan

Another man, described as an "anti-protestor protestor," was charged with disorderly conduct after driving his truck into a crowd of protestors, honking his horn repeatedly and getting rowdy with police. He may also face additional charges.

Beams says there were no injuries reported and that all the protestors were arrested peacefully.