New York Oneidas under siege
New York, Sept. 26— Upstate New York Oneida
Nation member Danielle Shenandoah Patterson and her three children
face around-the-clock surveillance and the immediate threat
of eviction and demolition of their home at the hands of the
tribe’s illegitimate leader, Ray Halbritter.
Under the guise of health and safety violations,
says Patterson, Halbritter has forcibly inspected, condemned
and demolished the homes of 11 Oneida families since 2001. He
continues to hone in on traditionalist dissidents, such as Patterson,
who oppose his rule.
Since 1993, Halbritter has incorporated the nation
as the Oneida Indian Nation of New York, Inc., established himself
as its CEO, and built the profitable Turning Stone Casino, which
many Oneidas say violate their spiritual tradition. He has also
instituted a Men’s Council to supersede the traditional matrilineal
government and the Iroquois Grand Council of Chiefs, locked
the traditional longhouse and closed down the community food
bank that had formerly served 280 native families, according
Last Friday afternoon, Sept. 20, about 50 people
gathered outside Gov. Pataki’s mansion in Albany to voice support
and raise awareness about the plight of the eight remaining
traditionalist native families on the 32-acre territory, the
only undisputed Oneida land which remains of the original 6
million acres occupied by the nation before the influx of white
Diane Shenandoah, Danielle’s sister and faith
keeper of the Wolf Clan of the Oneida, delivered a letter to
Pataki from the families at the territory. She also spoke of
their struggle to resist the incursions of Halbritter’s self-instituted
government and protect the traditional culture established on
the territory by two Oneida women in 1961.
Halbritter’s Turning Stone Casino — the largest
in the state — is the cornerstone of an expansive business enterprise
that includes a chain of gas stations, a textile factory and
a luxury hotel. Many Oneidas, including Diane Shenandoah, say
Halbritter has violated the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee (Confederacy
of the Iroquois) by embracing gambling. “Our spiritual tradition
does not condone gaming,” she has said.
In 2001, Halbritter stepped up his assaults on
Oneida traditions and territory, honing in on traditionalist
dissidents such as Patterson (who is, incidentally, also Halbritter’s
first cousin). Already, half of the territory’s residents (estimated
at 160) had been forced to leave their homes in 1999, she said,
when Halbritter installed an industrial-size water and sewer
line on the territory.
Halbritter, a Harvard-trained businessman, was
originally selected in the mid-1980s by the Wolf Clan mother
to be one of three male spokespersons to represent the 1,100-member
Oneida nation — which consists of at least 250,000 acres of
disputed land — to the Grand Council of Chiefs, which oversees
the Six Nation Confederacy of the Iroquois. When two of the
spokespersons passed away in the early 1990s, Halbritter attempted
to assume official leadership of the tribe, and instituted a
Men’s Council to supersede the traditional matrilineal government
as well as the Iroquois Grand Council of Chiefs.
The Grand Council of Chiefs then removed Halbritter
as the Oneida representative and notified the Federal Bureau
of Indian Affairs (BIA). The decision was accepted by the BIA,
only to be reversed 24 hours later, reportedly under pressure
from local Congressperson Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), who leveraged
his vote in support of the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) for BIA recognition of Halbritter as Oneida spokesperson
Patterson argued in a recent phone interview
that the BIA’s refusal to acknowledge the Iroquois’ rejection
of Halbritter violated the Two Row Wampum Treaty, which has
existed since the 17th century and “clearly states that both
parties, the US and the Iroquois Confederacy will not interfere
in each others’ affairs.”
“What the BIA has done is unbearably unmentionable.
This American agency is supporting and enabling Halbritter,”
Activist groups working with the traditional Oneidas,
including anti-corporate globalization activists and the Ironweed
Collective, view Halbritter’s dictatorial corporate governance
in the context of corporate globalization extending beyond Boehlert’s
controversial NAFTA vote. They suspect that Halbritter’s corporation
wants the 32-acre territory for an “offshore” bank or as a new
location for the Turning Stone Casino, if environmental and
accounting irregularities challenges force Halbritter to relocate.
Local Christian Peacekeeping Team (CPT) observers have cited
the industrial pipeline as possible evidence of Halbritter’s
intention to build a large-scale facility.
Meanwhile, Patterson, her children and the other
remaining traditionalist families have been harassed by Halbritter’s
80-man non-native police force, which, Patterson says, “has
no deputation in New York State” and is “heavily armed.”
“We are a community of women, elders and children,
and a few older men. And they [the police] are heavily armed.
It’s ridiculous,” she noted.
Patterson herself was physically assaulted in
a confrontation with 22 of Halbritter’s non-native tribal police
trying to enter her home last November. The incident was caught
on videotape, prompting Halbritter to ban all media from the
territory. In response, Patterson and others launched a request
for legal observers, and together with the observers, set up
a Peace Camp outside of Patterson’s trailer where resisters
and supporters have held prayer circles and drumming vigils.
Jason Jette, of the Ironweed Collective in Albany,
participated in the Peace Camp as well as last Friday’s protest
at the Governor’s mansion. Shining a positive light on the difficult
situation, he focused on the strength cross-cultural communication
has lent to the resistance efforts. “The one thing I thought
was really wonderful,” he said, “was that natives and non-natives
were working together.”
Members of area CPTs have also worked with the
Oneidas in strategies of non-violent resistance.
Shortly after the assault, Patterson’s brother,
Jerry, enlisted the aid of an independent contractor, who said
he saw nothing to merit condemnation and made minor repairs
to Patterson’s trailer, according to a report on news site .
Nonetheless, Halbritter’s inspectors had condemned
Patterson’s mobile home and slated it for demolition on Sept.15.
However, the presence of 100 observers and activists — as well
as Patterson and her family’s continued resistance — prevented
Patterson says as many as 200 activists have participated
in the Peace Camp since her home has been targeted for demolition.
“This is a severe violation of federal and international
laws. All indigenous people have a right to be free of cruel
and inhumane treatment,” she said, citing not only international
law, but also the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibits
Indian tribal governments from enacting or enforcing laws that
violate certain individual rights.
Patterson is, moreover, outraged that, given the
national and media focus on the so-called “War on Terrorism,”
most New Yorkers and media continue to neglect the “War on Terrorism”
in their own backyard. She charges that this is a case of “racial
discrimination against the Native American people,” adding that
the many criminal reports that the Oneidas have filed against
the tribal police to the local Madison County District Attorney’s
office have “all been ignored.”
“My children have been threatened, my life has
been threatened,” added Patterson. “We are facing genocide here
— the destruction of an entire native community.”
The Pataki connection
Native tribes and local observers strongly suspect
that state officials’ support of Halbritter — including Governor
George Pataki — is driven by a scheme in which Native American
land claims settlements, desired especially by the state, are
traded for casino contracts.
Pataki’s office issued an underreported memorandum
to all State University of New York college presidents on Nov.
30, 2001, also shortly after the assault on Patterson, stating
that all “contacts with Indian people” were to be reported to
University Counsel. According to Northeast American Indian Movement,
the memorandum stipulated that all campus personnel were then
to “await further instructions before engaging in any further
contact,” an attempt the organization sees as ultimately linked
with “no less than forcible cultural genocide.”
Then, in February of this year, Pataki and Halbritter
announced a tentative agreement to settle a 27-year-old Upstate
New York land claim — without the consent of tribes of Wisconsin
Oneidas also involved in the claim.
According to a March report in the Rochester,
NY Democrat and Chronicle, the Wisconsin tribe and legal observers
say “Halbritter wants to run two of the three casinos in the
Catskills that Pataki has agreed to consider” in a deal that
would give “a 25 percent cut off the top to the state.”
Patterson, however, still faces trial in Halbritter’s
unsanctioned tribal court, and is scheduled to appear before
it tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 24. “They are trying to incarcerate
me for one year for my vocal refusal to let them [Halbritter’s
police force] enter my home,” she explained.
But Patterson is steadfast in her resistance to
Halbritter, and refuses to appear. Instead, she and supporters
will hold a Peace and Freedom Party outside her home, where
she will issue a public statement calling for an investigation
of the courts.
Tuesday’s event is meant “to celebrate our rights
as a free people,” said Western Massachusetts activist Dan Gulko,
who has been helping Patterson and her family defend her home
for three and a half weeks.
Supporters are needed and encouraged to attend
the event, he said, so that Patterson and other resisters are
able to send a party from the house to the BIA office in Syracuse.
Thus far, NYC Indymedia has been unable to obtain
a verbal statement regarding the Patterson case from Halbritter’s
Source: NYC Indymedia
Now you see, now you don’t: the Pentagon’s blinding
By Frida Berrigan
Sept. 27— US weapons manufacturers are
hard at work developing futuristic precision weapons that promise
to keep Americans even further out of harm’s way: lasers.
Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, who together had
$20.3 billion in Pentagon contracts in 2001, are collaborating
on development of “directed energy weapons” — powerful 100-kilowatt
infrared lasers for use on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
The JSF program, worth an estimated $200 billion,
is Lockheed Martin’s crowning accomplishment. If all goes well,
the Pentagon will soon order as many as 3,000 F-35s, making
it the largest acquisition program in history. This $40 million
fighter plane will be ubiquitous in the US military and throughout
the world. England, Norway, Italy, Singapore, Turkey, Israel
and others have already expressed serious interest as well.
The JSF laser system could be used to destroy
communication lines, power grids, or fuel dumps, or to zero
in on part of a vehicle, like the engine. The weapons, which
are scheduled to be ready for testing in 2010, would be covert,
powerful and untraceable. “There’s no huge explosion associated
with its employment, there are no pieces and parts left behind
that someone can analyze to say, ‘this came from the United
States,’ ” explains an unnamed Lockheed Martin official quoted
in Aviation Week and Space Technology in July. “The damage is
localized, and it is hard to tell where it came from and when
it happened. It is all pretty mysterious.”
So mysterious, in fact, that engineers are only
beginning to consider what the lasers will do to people. According
to Aviation Week and Space Technology, military planners in
Israel are not pursuing directed-energy weapons because of concerns
they “might result in new, unanticipated types of collateral
damage.” For example, the weapons could disrupt electricity
at civilian sites or affect pacemakers.
They could also blind and injure people in the
vicinity. As Gordon Hengst of the Air Force Research Laboratory
in New Mexico, where the research on the lasers is being conducted,
points out: “The reflected energy typically will cover large
amounts of real estate and space, since the energy is spreading
in many directions.”
He adds that if the target is moving, the possibility
of refraction is greater. According to New Scientist magazine,
the human eye is very vulnerable to light from lasers: “Safety
guidelines warn against staring into beams of only a few milliwatts.
… The unpredictable reflections scattered from a 100-kilowatt
laser could be devastating.”
Weapons manufacturers concede that blinding and
other injuries could occur, but say the benefits outweigh the
concerns. “As with all weapons, there is potential for inflicting
collateral damage,” says Tom Burris, a Lockheed scientist.
And surprisingly enough, despite the fact that
the United States signed the Geneva Convention’s Protocol on
Blinding Laser Weapons in 1991, these weapons are exempt. The
convention prohibits “laser weapons specifically designed, as
their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions,
to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision.” [Emphasis
added.] But a small phrase is a loophole big enough for a fighter
plane to fly through. Stephen Goose of Human Rights Watch explains,
“That protocol was purposely drafted to avoid capturing other
types of laser weapons systems.”
Laser weapons blind, whether or not they are “specifically
designed” to do so as their “sole combat function.” They are
also the wave of the future, says Mike Booen of Raytheon: “We
want to replace high explosives [like bombs and missiles] with
directed energy weapons.” The Pentagon has been investing accordingly.
Laser weapons seem like the answer to Washington’s
prayers for an antiseptic warfare that plays well on television
and will not offend the American public with civilian deaths
or US casualties. But that’s easier said than done. The Afghan
war, which is costing US taxpayers $2.5 billion a month and
relies on high-tech weapons and sophisticated communications
equipment, has produced deadly errors with macabre regularity.
With laser weapons, we can only expect more of the same.
Source: In These Times
Landmark decision for US gays
By Mark Worrall
San Francisco, California, Sept. 25— A
US appeals court ruled Tuesday that gays and lesbians may use
federal civil rights laws to sue for sexual harassment. The
ruling, by the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in
San Francisco, is the first in the United States to grant protections
for gays and lesbians in the workplace. The 7-4 ruling reverses
a March 2001 decision by three judges in the same court.
The judges, in their written decision, said a
victim’s sexual orientation was irrelevant in cases of sex harassment
brought under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The case involved Medina Rene, a gay hotel employee
at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas who said he was assaulted, mocked
and vilified by his male co-workers. “We are presented with
the tale of a man who was repeatedly grabbed in the crotch and
poked in the anus, and who was singled out from his other male
co-workers for this treatment,” the majority opinion, by Judge
William Fletcher, said.
“It is clear that the offensive conduct was sexual.
It is also clear that the offensive conduct was discriminatory.
That is, Rene has alleged that he was treated differently —
and disadvantageously — based on sex. This is precisely what
Title VII forbids,” Fletcher wrote. Rene’s lawyer praised Tuesday’s
ruling. Richard Segerblom called it an important gay civil rights
“It really gives protection to gays and lesbians
that courts have been going out of their way to deny,” said
Segerblom. Rene’s case was dismissed by a lower court, which
found that while the harassment took place it was not explicitly
illegal because it was based on his sexual orientation, not
Although some states, such as California, have
laws barring GLBT harassment on the job, most, including Nevada,
“It is good news that the courts are recognizing
our rights in the area of sexual harassment,” said Kevin Layton,
legal director at the Human Rights Campaign, the largest lesbian
and gay political organization in the country. “But blatant,
in your face discrimination is still OK. It’s a sad day in America
that you basically have to be beaten up on the job before the
law will protect you.”
Critical Mass: a decade of defiance
Compiled by Sean Marquis
Oct. 2 (AGR)— Bicyclists, stilt-walkers,
and roller-skaters claimed the normally car-dominated streets
of San Francisco, CA, on Friday, Sept. 27, to celebrate the
10-year anniversary of Critical Mass, a pedal-powered phenomenon
of civil disobedience.
The loosely organized movement, in which cyclists
clog streets to demand more space and respect from city planners
and motorists, has been copied in hundreds of cities around
the world since its birth in San Francisco in 1992.
“It’s a reclamation of public space,” said Nicole
McMorrow, a Critical Mass participant since 1995. “These are
my streets too.”
“People in this country are in a car-dependent
sleepwalk,” Rocco Pendola, 27, said from atop his red and silver
bike. “The reality is that in the near future, you won’t be
able to do that.”
Chris Carlsson, 45, and Jim Swanson, 43, came
up with Critical Mass 10 years ago as a way to promote cyclists’
needs in San Francisco.
“Everybody is there for a different reason,” said
Carlsson. Critical Mass: Bicycling’s Defiant Celebration,
a collection of remembrances that Carlsson edited, has just
This monthly guerrilla theater on wheels has inspired
a handful of bike-friendly laws and bikelanes, and changed the
bike-motorist relationship. Sometimes for the better — although
there are still a lot of motorists who hate stewing in traffic
as the Mass rolls by.
“Back (in 1986), when I first started as a bike
messenger, drivers were a lot more aggressive toward pedestrians
and bikes,” said 34-year-old Craig Traver, who has ridden in
several Masses and now works in a car rental agency. “That’s
mellowed a lot since then.”
“Critical Mass has definitely brought attention
to bicycle issues, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without
them,” said Leah Shahun, executive director of the San Francisco
What Critical Mass raises in spirit, mainstream
groups like the coalition take to city halls and statehouses.
San Francisco now has freshly striped bicycle
lanes on major streets, and signs urging drivers to share narrower
roadways. Cyclist groups lobbied successfully for a $50 million
lane for bikes and pedestrians on a new span proposed for the
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Refuse to be humble beginnings
Carlsson and Swanson had an idea to hold a mass
ride around the city as a way to show how unfriendly the roads
are for cyclists.
So they and others passed out flyers, not knowing
who would show up. A couple of dozen did. More joined the next
month. By the fourth ride, remembered Ted White, a Sebastopol
filmmaker who has chronicled Critical Mass, “there were about
100 people, and from then it just grew exponentially.”
“It’s not about disrupting traffic. It’s about
displacing traffic and becoming traffic,” said Carlsson. “It’s
basically a party. It’s about finding the life we don’t get
“There’s not many things that are anarchic in
our world,” Carlsson said. “But this is one of them.”
Ten years later, swarms of cyclists often numbering
in the thousands have become an enduring phenomenon, taking
over the streets on the last Friday of each month in hundreds
of cities around the globe where cyclists feel they’re treated
like second-class citizens.
Rolling occupations now begin at the Merkaz HaKarmel
parking lot in Haifa, Israel, at Parnell Square in Dublin, Ireland,
at Plaza del Castillo in Pamplona, Spain, and QEII Square in
Auckland, New Zealand.
White added: “It reminded people how important
it is to be a participant in our culture. One of the problems
with this country as a whole is that people feel that they don’t
count. Here, in Critical Mass, everyone riding together does
Before Critical Mass was called “Critical Mass,”
it was the “Commute Clot.”
Shortly after that first ride in September 1992,
White screened his latest documentary, The Return of the Scorcher,
about the bike culture overseas, to some Clotters at a South
of Market bike shop.
In one scene, New York bicycle advocate George
Bliss noted how cyclists in China wait to converge on an intersection
until there’s a “critical mass” of riders. The locals took to
“Thank God it stuck,” said Carlsson. “I always
hated the name ‘Commute Clot.’”
The infamous July 1997 ride, when 5,000 cyclists
rode to show up Mayor Willie Brown and mostly wandered where
they pleased, prompted plenty of ill will among those trapped
in their cars. But that event got City Hall’s attention, said
the Bicycle Coalition’s Shahun. Within a year, the coalition
had won at least three new bike lanes in San Francisco, a then-unheard-of
On Friday the armada of riders, 3,500-5,000 strong,
brought traffic to a halt along a circuitous path that led past
City Hall and up Market Street.
A throng of riders crowded into Justin Herman
Plaza at the bottom of Market — accountants and designers, bike
messengers, activists, a unicyclist in a pink hooded leotard.
They gathered with flowers in their hair or cell phones at their
ears, forming a massive group of wheels, handlebars, and helmets.
George Wesely, 35, of San Francisco, pulled his
7-year-old son on a trailer bike behind him for the youngster’s
first Critical Mass. Sarah Kaplan, 23, who came from Chicago
with six friends, passed out tiny cartoon books a pal drew.
Others wore stickers reading, “Help Prevent Death — Stop Driving,”
and some wore banners opposing military action in Iraq.
In a new event San Francisco closed four blocks
Friday for the Car-Free Day street fair, in which bike riders
and pedestrians cruised along with an eclectic combination of
The city-run Car Free Day, modeled after efforts
in other cities, was the first of its kind for San Francisco.
A few people sniffed at the timing, landing on the same day
as the Critical Mass anniversary ride.
“It’s just ‘Slick’ Willie wanting to upstage Critical
Mass, wanting to steal thunder from them,” Bob Schneeveis said.
Mayor Brown, a longtime critic of Critical Mass,
dismissed the accusation.
Police arrested about a dozen people during the
The arrests were for everything from assault to
failing to disperse, police said. Several riders suffered minor
The 10th anniversary ride also saw solidarity
rides around the country, including Washington, DC, New Haven,
CT, and Portland, OR.
The Portland event was several hundred strong
and also had several arrests but met with nowhere near the amount
of police brutality as a similar ride last month where the police
used pepper spray and a stun gun on riders.
As the Portland Mass swarmed west on West Burnside,
a TriMet bus lumbered like a whale as it tried desperately to
merge into the sea of cycles, which darted around it like a
school of minnows. The sidewalk crowds cheered and clapped.
Firefighters trapped in their rig on Northwest
23rd Avenue happily handed out high-fives to some of the passing
riders as they rode into the night.
Sources: Associated Press, Contra Costa Times,
San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian
Administration extends healthcare to “Unborn”
By Shawn Gaynor
Asheville, NC, Oct. 2 (AGR)—A change by the Bush Administration
to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) (a
federal block grant to states) will, for the first time, classify
a woman’s fetus as an “unborn” child, extending it healthcare
assistance from conception, while ignoring comprehensive pre-natal
healthcare for pregnant women.
In the administration’s now familiar unilateralism, the new
classification was passed as an amendment to a Health and Human
Services regulation, therefore bypassing a legislative process.
Legislation is simultaneously being considered by the US Senate
to extend S-CHIP coverage to pregnant women, eliminating the
need to cover the newly classified “unborn.”
The change, announced Friday, has been harshly criticized by
women’s groups and reproductive health providers across the
country, who say the administration is attempting to undermine
Roe vs Wade.
According to a statement from Planned Parenthood: “The Bush
administration is attempting to circumvent the legislative process
to define at which point life begins in law. Establishing fetuses
as persons shows that the administration’s true intent is not
to expand healthcare coverage for pregnant women, but to undermine
a women’s right to choose.”
The change was first proposed by Bush in January, but, in a
last minute surprise, coverage to the “unborn” was extended
to the fetuses of women who are illegal immigrants as well.
“They are going to become citizens in nine months or less,”
said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. Thompson
went on to deny that abortion was at issue, despite the regulations
language “unborn children” originating within pro-life groups.
“Shame on the Bush administration for using immigrant women
—a population desperately in need of real comprehensive health
coverage — to promote an anti-choice agenda,” said Judith Lichtman
of the National Partnership for Women and Families. “We urge
the administration to stop its cynical manipulation of public
The California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League
said the new regulation was a “stealth campaign to end abortion
rights, and could harm women’s health, by making them take a
back seat to the program’s ‘patients” -- the fetus.
“Under this proposal would a pregnant women with cancer be
able to get potentially life-saving radiation treatment or chemotherapy,
since such treatment could harm the fetus? This proposal shows
how the Administration sees pregnant women: as vessels for carrying
a pregnancy rather than as people with important personal healthcare
Operation Rescue, a right-wing anti-abortion group with a history
of violence against and harassment of healthcare providers,
reacted to the new regulation by stating, “Tommy Thompson accurately
redefined the term ‘health care’ and placed one more nail in
the coffin of the abortion industry.”
All previous legal and legislative challenges to label a women’s
fetus as an individual with rights and protections have failed.
The expansion to the S-CHIP program is estimated to cost $330
million for the next five years. States will be given the option
of choosing whether or not to extend coverage to fetuses. The
expansion does not provide funding for any additional healthcare
for pregnant women.
Marines practice ‘urban warfare’ in Ohio
By Sean Marquis
Oct. 2 (AGR)— In Dayton, Ohio 600 marines took part
in a two week “urban warfare” training exercise. The exercise,
entitled “Training in an Urban Environment exercise or ‘Truex’,”
ended on Sept. 26 according to Col. Andrew Frick of the 26th
Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) which conducted the exercise.
The unit’s home-base is Camp Lejeune, North Carolina but they
were stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for the duration
of the Truex training. According to Col. Frick and reports by
the Dayton Daily News, some of the exercises used live ammunition.
Other points during the training included:
- The 26th MEU conducted two nighttime assaults and one daytime
raid on abandoned buildings in Dayton, making use of two assault
helicopters and three transport helicopters to ferry marines
to and from the sites.
- The building raids included Marines lowered onto the roof
by ropes from the helicopters and room-to-room clearing of
- The drill gave pilots practice landing in densely populated
- Dayton police said a soldier had at least one finger blown-off
when a flash-bang grenade exploded in his hand during room-clearing
operations in an abandoned school building.
- As part of a PR move, two Marine helicopters landed on a
soccer field between Beavercreek High School and Ferguson
Middle School on Sept. 18 for a “show and tell” of military
life for the students. The Daily News reported that 11-year-old
Chris Rike described the helicopters’ flying over the school
as being just like a video game and then said: “This has changed
me. I want to do this. I want to join the Marines.”
Of special note was the fact that during the Truex
exercises, the Greene County Commission approved a “mutual aid”
agreement between the sheriff’s office and Wright-Patterson
Air Force Base, according to the Daily News.
“In case of civil disturbances, disasters, or
calamities that seriously endanger life and property to an extent
that local police can’t control the situation, the 88th Security
Forces Squadron [stationed at the base] agreed to provide Department
of Defense police to assist [and] both parties also agreed to
make available its jail space in case of an emergency,” according
to the Daily News.
Armey blasted for anti-Jewish remarks
Democratic leaders lashed out Sept. 24 at House
Majority Leader Dick Armey for comments he made that described
the Jewish-American community as split between those with “deeper
intellect” and those with “shallow, superficial intellect.”
Texas Rep. Martin Frost, chairman of the Democratic Caucus,
and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), released a joint statement condemning
the comments, which Armey, a Republican, made Friday during
a campaign event in Florida.
Armey, who has strong pro-Israel views, defended
his comments Tuesday at a Washington news conference, saying
that the split he described is due to the ideological differences
between liberals and conservatives. Liberals, Armey said, are
“just not very bright people,” and it was this fact, he said,
which led him to make the comments.
Art Teitelbaum, the south area director of the
Anti-Defamation League, said the comments did not reflect anti-Semitism.
However, he said some in the Jewish community would be angered
and hurt by the comments. (AP)
Few Muslims seek office post-Sept 11
The number of Muslims running for elective office
across the US has dropped by 85 percent in two years because
potential candidates fear the post-Sept. 11 anti-Muslim backlash
would doom their campaigns.
That’s the conclusion reached by the Newark-based
American Muslim Alliance, the nation’s largest Muslim political
organization, which found the number of Muslim candidates dropped
from about 700 in 2000 to about 100 this year.
Most Muslims who do run for office are inspired
to do so because of what they see as the scapegoating of their
community. Some say there is pressure for Muslim candidates
to below and change their names. Agha Saeed, founder of the
American Muslim Alliance, said the drop in the number of candidates
is disappointing because Muslims need more representation at
every level of government. He and other leaders said Muslim
politicians can fight anti-Muslim backlash and educate the general
population on issues important to the community. (Mercury
ACLU criticizes lack of protections in Homeland
The American Civil Liberties Union strongly criticized
a new version of the legislation establishing the cabinet-level
Homeland Security Department Sept. 24, saying that it is a “constitutionally
bankrupt” measure that lacks privacy of civil rights protections.
The new legislation, sponsored by Sens. Zell Miller
(D-GA) and Phil Gramm (R-TX), is designed as a substitute for
the Senate Homeland Security Department plan drafted by Sen
Joseph Leiberman (D-CT). Its supporters may try to ram through
the bill by invoking cloture, which would forestall debate and
preclude amendments. The new version closely mirrors Bush’s
wishlist Homeland Security plan, and contains virtually none
of the civil-liberties safeguards of previous versions.
The bill contains no civil rights oversight mechanisms,
the refusal to take into account broad public concern over Operation
TIPS, provisions that allow advisory committees to be secret
and a provision that would gut protections for non-citizen children
in the Lieberman bill. (ACLU)
No-fly blacklist snares political activists
A federal “No Fly” list, intended to keep terrorists
from boarding planes, is snaring peace activists at San Francisco
International and other US airports, triggering complaints that
civil liberties are being trampled. And while several federal
agencies acknowledge that they contribute names to the congressionally
mandated list, none of them, when contacted by the San Francisco
chronicle, could of would say which agency is responsible for
managing the list.
One detainment forced a group of 20 Wisconsin
anti-war activists to miss their flight, delaying their trip
to meet with congressional representatives by a day. That case
and others are raising questions about the criteria federal
authorities use to place people on the list, and whether people
who exercise their constitutional right to dissent are being
lumped together with terrorists.
Federal law enforcement officials deny targeting
dissidents. They suggested that the activists were stopped not
because their names are on the list, but because their names
resemble those of suspected criminals or terrorists. Congress
mandated the list as part of last year’s Aviation and Transportation
Security Act, after two Sept. 11 hijackers on a federal “watch
list” used their real names to board the jetliner that crashed
into the Pentagon.
At least two dozen activists who have been stopped
say they support sensible steps to bolster aviation security.
But they criticize the no-fly list and its murky system of accountability
as being, at worst, a Big Brother campaign to muzzle dissent
and, at best, a bureaucratic exercise that distracts airport
security from looking for the real bad guys. (San Francisco
Community confronts World Church of the Creator
Hundreds of people turned out Sept. 19 at the
Chesterfield, VA Public Library to oppose a meeting of the racist
organization The World Church of the Creator. The group was
attempting to meet for recruitment purposes, but was vastly
outnumbered by members of the NAACP, anarchists, activists,
and local residents. Many questioned why Chesterfield had easily
granted the WCOTC a space in the public library while other
counties in the state had denied the group permission to use
According to the group’s website, the WCOTC exists
to promote the “advancement of white people” and the “natural
superiority” of white people.
One hundred police officers sectioned off grassy
areas of the library grounds and searched individuals as they
entered the building. Outrage was the word as people gathered
with signs, sang gospel and prayed before the meeting began.
The protest was peaceful until Billy Brown, a North Carolina
recruiter for the WCOTC, arrived, unfurling a WCOTC flag and
passing out pamphlets exclusively to those he and supporters
perceived as “white.” He was confronted by activists, but was
whisked to safety by police when shoving occurred. (Richmond
Second ruling against US death penalty
A federal judge in Vermont ruled Sept. 24 that
the federal death penalty law is unconstitutional, saying the
law denies defendants’ rights to due process, allowing evidence
and procedures that could not be used at trial to be used to
sentence a convicted person to death. The judge, William K.
Sessions III of the federal District Court in Burlington, ruled
that the law, which expanded the list of federal crimes that
qualify for capital punishment, was incompatible with three
recent Supreme Court decisions, including one in June that found
juries rather than judges must make the crucial factual determinations
to support a death penalty.
Those decisions rigorously safeguard due process
in a way that the “relaxed” standards of the federal death penalty
law do not, Judge Sessions ruled.
Capital punishment legal experts said that Tuesday’s
ruling, while limited to the Vermont case, was likely to provide
new ammunition for challenging death penalty cases across the
HIV prevention groups say Bush administration
is targeting their work
The Bush administration has pulled information
about the effectiveness of condoms from a government web site
and is engaged in a “witch hunt” against those who promote condoms
in the fight against AIDS, several groups charged Sept. 29.
They argue that the administration is hostile
to HIV prevention and sex education that is not based on “abstinence-only,”
which discourages all sex before marriage and bars discussion
of the benefits of birth control or condom use.
The advocacy groups said they are particularly
concerned about federal agency audits of AIDS groups now underway,
examining their finances and programming. The administration
says it is simply making sure that tax dollars are properly
spent. Audits by the Department of Health and Human Services
include several actions that AIDS groups consider regressive.
Information explaining the effectiveness of condoms
in preventing HIV transmission has been pulled from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention web site. Also gone: a section
which focused on HIV and highlighted several proven programs
that involve condom use.
The HHS inspector general is also investigating
at least eight AIDS programs to see if their content is too
sexually explicit or promotes sexual activity. Several of those
reports are expected by the year’s end. The inspector general
has already issued one report highly critical of Stop AIDS in
San Francisco, saying their programs aimed at gay men were promoting
sex and were possibly obscene. (AP)