Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Roberto Rodriguez: Leaving Footprints; Running for Justice

Leaving Footprints; Running for Justice

By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

In Arizona, we know that the eyes of the world are upon us.

Perhaps this is why many of us hold vigils and forums, why we march, protest, rally, get arrested… and run.

In the past several years, the Sonora desert has become a super magnet for the forces of hate, bigotry, ignorance, false patriotism, censorship demagoguery and especially, scapegoatery – or the art of blaming Mexicans for everything. So too has it become a magnet for those who struggle for peace, dignity, justice and human rights.

I am a newcomer to the desert and as such, I marvel at the amount of activism all around me, especially by youths. Actually, activism is not the right word for what I have been witnessing here for the past 3 years. Commitment is a better word. The level of commitment to social justice and for the right to a relevant education has been affirming. What is daily affirmed is the belief that all human beings are created equal and all are entitled to full human rights, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, citizenship or migration status.

All this has occurred as a result of a relentless campaign against the red-brown peoples of this state – whether they have been here for many thousands of years or if they just got here today. The racial profiling that everyone fears has always existed all along the U.S.-Mexico border, so much so that Cesar Chavez used to refer to the migra or the U.S. Border Patrol as the “Gestapo of the Mexican people.”

That’s the reason for the relentless pushback against the state’s SB 1070 law. It seeks to federalize local police – giving them the “rights” that the migra has long exercised against the red-brown peoples they have always illegally and inhumanely profiled. In Tucson where I live, the pushback has been against both SB 1070, and HB 2281, the effort to ban ethnic studies.

What’s most impressive about the resistance is that it has been waged largely by K-16 students. That’s not too minimize the role of community organizers and community elders; quite the contrary. It is precisely this sector, led by groups such as Derechos Humanos, that has trained and essentially grown these young activists and organizers.

One group that rarely is recognized by the media – and the group likes it this way – is Calpolli Teoxicalli – a family of families that live Indigenous ways and who live by a sacred calendar. The Calpolli in Tucson or Tlamanalco as they refer to the Old Pueblo – has been present the past several years at virtually all the events and/or actions in regards to these assaults, albeit with a different role.

A passerby might see them as either simply those that lead the opening or closing prayers at events or those that provide the cultural expression (Aztec Dancing). But that would be to fundamentally misunderstand their role. While I am not a member of this Calpolli, I do take part in their runs – ceremonial runs and barrio runs. All the runs are spiritual and are not done in response to the actions of others, though they are indeed done with an awareness of all the negative forces – external and internal – that continually beset our communities.

We run for ourselves and those closest to us. We do the runs to help heal our communities – whether it is from diseases such as drugs and alcohol or gang and domestic violence – or from the diseases of hate and bigotry. A summer run last year included one from Tucson to Phoenix to defeat an attempt to eliminate Raza Studies statewide while another one was done as an effort to bring consciousness to our communities regarding the sky-high high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The barrio/ceremonial runs are connected to the Peace and Dignity Journeys that take place every four years from Alaska and Chile to Central America. They are part of an Indigenous prophecy that seeks to unite Pacha Mama – Abya Yalla or North and South America.

The early morning barrio runs have a powerful effect, especially upon onlookers when they see the ceremonial staffs we run with. Onlookers might think that this is how we protest in Tucson, but we run not for the media nor for or against politicians. As the youngsters say, we speak with our feet and our feet do leave huellas or footprints.

In a few months, there will be a run to bring about cancer awareness – part of a dream of one of our young leaders – Consuelo Aguilar – who passed away a year-and a half ago in the heat of battle at the age of 27. That run will mark the second anniversary of her death in February and we expect our entire community to be there. She too will be there. Presente!

Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com

Thanks & Sincerely

Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

Column of the Americas

PO BOX 3812

Tucson, AZ 85722




Tucson grassroots campaign to document law enforcement abuse and racial profiling

Contact: Kat Rodriguez, Derechos Humanos: 520.770.1373
Jason Aragon, Pan Left Productions: 520-792-9171
Lynda Cruz, Migra Patrol-Copwatch: 520-344-3270

Tucson Grassroots Organizations Launch a Community-wide Campaign to Document Law Enforcement Abuse and Racial Profiling

Press Conference
Thursday, September 2, 2010
11:00 AM
631 S. 6th Avenue, Tucson, AZ

Tucson- Local grassroots organizations join together to launch a community-wide campaign to report collaboration between local and state law enforcement and the Border Patrol. Coalición de Derechos Humanos, Pan Left Productions, and Migra Patrol-Copwatch will announce the details of the Tucson campaign to document racial profiling and abuse.

The Yo Soy Testigo (I am a Witness) campaign includes a phone number (520-261-5890) where Tucson residents can call to report incidents of racial profiling, which will be immediately transmitted to Migra Patrol- Copwatch, which will send volunteers to the scene to document the situation. The effort is focusing specifically on instances where the local and state law enforcement officers are inquiring about immigration status and calling the Border Patrol.

In the wake of the recent ruling by a Phoenix judge to grant an injunction on portions of SB 1070, which prohibits the creation of a new crime and police enforcement of federal immigration law, the Yo Soy Testigo Campaign intends to show that the reality is that the Tucson and South Tucson police departments, Pima County Sheriff, DPS, and other local agencies have been implementing such programs for years.

"We must shed the light on the fact that people have been living in fear of deportation and it's only getting worse," says Jason Michael Aragόn of Migra Patrol-Copwatch. "We are committed to resisting these injustices, and invite the community to be part of this campaign to document the oppression of our families and neighborhoods."

The Yo Soy Testigo campaign is a joint effort to encourage the active participation of the Tucson and South Tucson communities in reporting incidents of racial profiling and abuse on the part of law enforcement. The phone line will be staffed by volunteers of Derechos Humanos, who will document the reports coming into the hotline and notify members of Pan Left and Migra Patrol-Copwatch, who will be dispatched to the scene with cameras.

"We must not allow these injustices to continue to fill us with fear and silence. It is imperative, for the well-being of our communities, that we stand up and denounce these violations of human and civil rights" said Pati Moreno of Derechos Humanos. "We will expose this discrimination and racism, and move our communities toward justice and peace."

Para Su Publicación Inmediata
30 Agosto 2010
Contactos: Kat Rodriguez, Derechos Humanos: 520.770.1373
Jason Aragon, Pan Left Productions: 520-792-9171
Lynda Cruz, Migra Patrol-Copwatch: 520-344-3270

Organizaciones de Base Lanzan una Campaña Comunitaria Para Documentar Abusos de Autoridad y Perfil Racial en Tucson

Rueda de Prensa
Jueves, 2 de Septiembre del 2010
11:00 AM
631 S. 6th Avenue, Tucson, AZ

Tucson- Organizaciones de base locales se unen para lanzar una campaña comunitaria para denunciar y documentar la colaboración entre los departamentos de policía locales y la Patrulla Fronteriza. Coalición de Derechos Humanos, Pan Left Productions, y Migra Patrol-Copwatch darán a conocer los detalles de la campaña en Tucson para documentar la discriminación racial y el abuso.

La Campaña de "Yo Soy Testigo" (I am a Witness) incluye un número de teléfono (520-261-5890), donde los residentes de Tucson puedrán llamar para denunciar los casos de discriminación por perfil racial. La denuncia se transmitirá de inmediato a Migra Patrol-Copwatch, quien enviará voluntarios al lugar para documentar la situación. El esfuerzo se centrará específicamente en los casos en que los agentes de la policía pidan información acerda del estatus migratorio de las personas y llamen a la Patrulla Fronteriza.

A raíz de la decisión reciente de una jueza de Phoenix para eliminar ciertas porciones de la ley SB 1070, que prohíbe la creación de un nuevo delito y la ejecución de de las leyes federales de inmigración por parte de la policía, la campaña "Yo Soy Testigo" tiene la objetivo de mostrar cómo es que en realidad los agentes policiales han estado aplicando este tipo de programas desde hace años.

"Debemos enfatizar el hecho de que la gente ha estado viviendo con el temor de ser deportados y que esta es una situación que continúa empeorando", dice Jason Michael Aragόn de Migra Patrol-Copwatch. "Estamos comprometidos a resistir estas injusticias y a invitar a la comunidad a ser parte de esta campaña para documentar la opresión de nuestras familias y vecindarios."

La campaña Yo Soy Testigo es un esfuerzo conjunto para fomentar la participación activa de la comunidad del sur de Tucson y Tucson en la documentación y reporte de los incidentes de perfil racial y abuso por parte de los servicios policiales. La línea telefónica será atendida por voluntarios de Derechos Humanos, organización que documentará los reportes que lleguen a la línea de ayuda y notificará a los miembros de Pan Left y Migra Patrol-Copwatch, quienes serán enviados a la escena con las cámaras.

"No debemos permitir que estas injusticias sigan llenándonos de miedo y silencio. Es imprescindible, para el bienestar de nuestras comunidades, que nos pongamos de pie y denunciemos estas violaciones de los derechos humanos y civiles ", aseguró Pati Moreno de Derechos Humanos. "Vamos a exponer este tipo de discriminación y racismo, y a hacer que nuestras comunidades caminen hacia la justicia y la paz."

Yo Soy Testigo/I am a Witness
Comunidades Uniéndose a La Resistencia
Communities Uniting To Resist

Monday, August 30, 2010

Will Mohawk Splitting the Sky go to jail?


By Splitting the Sky, Mohawk
Dear Friends,

As you know I was recently given a conditional discharge sentence of 2 years prison time and a 5,000 fine for attempting to arrest George Bush Jr. for war crimes committed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Venezuela during his 8-year reign of state sponsored terror.

Along with the conditional discharge I was ordered by Justice Manfred Delong in the Calgary Supreme Court to pay a 1,000 fine and donate it to a charity of my choice, which would also have to be approved by the probation department in Alberta. If I did not comply I would be ordered to court and sent to prison for the 2-year term and made to pay the 5,000 fine.

At 11 am pacific coast time I went to report to the probation officer Nadia Haazen in Kamloops BC who I had already advised that a friend of mine in the 911 truth and justice movement John Duddy was prepared to pay the thousand dollar fine if the charity he and I agreed upon was the recipient of the contribution that of course was the Architects & Engineers for 911 Truth.

At first I was told that it was not acceptable upon which I sent a letter to our attorney Alred Webre in Vancouver and he in turn wrote her a letter requesting a reason in writing as to the denial.

The probation officer told me that they would look into granting our request but needed more information on A&E 911 Truth and reconsider their position.

Our lawyer sent them information on A7E and as of 11 am August 30th 2010 I was advised that the head office in Alberta refused the request as they say it is not a Canadian charity. Of course I argue that there are 25 Canadians dead due to the Cheney/ Bush false flag operation at the twin towers in New York City on September 11, 2001.

Cheney had the towers brought down to alleviate the asbestos suits the Bushes would have incurred to the tune of billions of dollars of Dresser Industries, which Cheney’s Haliburton bought from Bushes just prior to the falling of the Twins and WTC 7; Dresser had many offices in the towers.

Haliburton is running pipeline and poison gasses and base materials through unsurrendered Indian territories to expand their coffers as they are doing in the Caspian Sea Basin.

Conclusion I will not accept this denial and am preparing to go to jail for 2 years on November the first.

Splitting the Sky


Navajos Oppose Reopening Coal Lease with Peabody Coal

Opposes Renewal of BM & Kayenta Lease Re Opener


Dine' Be' Iina' na' hil naa (Dine’ Rebuilding Communities)

Don Yellowman Joe Klain

President Vice-President

Lucy Knorr

P.O. Box 1661
Tuba City, AZ 86045
(928) 401-1777

Navajos oppose carbon sequestration on Black Mesa

Carbon Sequestration

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tucson Peace Vigils: Raytheon, Davis-Monthan AFB and Depleted Uranium

By Nuke Resister

TUCSON -- Please join us from 7:00-8:00 a.m. on the first Thursdays of April-November at Davis-Monthan AFB, and from 6:30-7:30 a.m. on the third Thursdays, April-November at Raytheon Missile Systems plant.

Please note that now the vigils are in the morning and not the afternoon for the hot part of the year.

1) First Thursday, September 2, from 7:00 - 8:00 a.m. at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Craycroft Road entrance (at Golf Links Road).
Why protest at Davis-Monthan AFB?

Air National Guard troops at Davis-Monthan AFB are deeply involved in the rapidly developing phenomena of robotic warfare, remotely piloting UAV's (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) that are firing Hellfire missiles and killing more civilians than targeted "terrorists" in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Ground the Drones!


A-10 warplanes that train out of Davis-Monthan AFB are responsible for the vast majority of radioactive ammunition - estimated at well over 400 tons - used in Iraq since 1991.

The Guardian newspaper in Britain recently reported on an Iraqi study that confirms Iraq is littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, including depleted uranium, resulting in greater rates of cancer and birth defects near sites. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/22/iraq-nuclear-contaminated-sites

And while the Pentagon continues to deny any risk from depleted uranium weapons and thus refuses to help Iraq locate and decontaminate affected areas, the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons reported this winter that

"It has emerged that the United States is seeking alternatives to depleted uranium for the future development and production of medium calibre bullets for its armed forces..."

and that while the military procurement agency is

"not willing to single out a single reason for the policy change, [it] indicated that environmental considerations were a factor..."

See http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/307.html

Park at recreation field parking lot at N-W corner of Craycroft & Golf Links with access from Craycroft. Signs provided, or bring your own! More info: 323-8697.

2) Third Thursday, September 16, from 6:30 - 7:30 a.m. at Raytheon Missile Systems, Hermans Road entrance to the plant (3rd traffic light south of Valencia on Nogales Highway, the extension of South 6th Avenue).

Join the Raytheon Peacemakers as we demonstrate against war and those who profit from it. Survival demands better ideas, not better weapons.

Raytheon Missile Systems is the most profitable division of the war profiteer. With its headquarters and largest factory in Tucson, Raytheon Missile Systems employs about 12,000 of our Southern Arizona friends and neighbors.

For more than a decade, Raytheon has hailed Tucson as the Missile Technology Capital of the World - a center for lethal innovation and cutting-edge killing for profit. From Standard Missiles to Star Wars "kill vehicles", Mavericks and AMRAAMs, microwave crowd control beams and guided missiles & bombs for drones, cluster bombs and cruise missiles - it's all made here, some even sold to friends and foes of friends alike.

We do not oppose those working at Raytheon.

We understand the need for good paying jobs in Tucson.

We oppose the militarism that exploits this need, "developing" our own community at the expense of others around the world.

Park off Nogales Highway, between railroad tracks and highway at the Hermans Road entrance. Signs provided, or bring your own! More info: 323-8697.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Placing the Massacre of Migrants at the Feet of U.S. Immigration Control & Trade Policies

Placing the Massacre of Migrants at the Feet of US Immigration Control and Trade Policies

Censored News
Photo by Brenda Norrell: Walking in memory of migrants who died in the Sonoran Desert.

Dear NNIRR members, partners, allies and friends,

Migrant workers continue paying a heavy price as a result of the volatile mixture of the U.S. militarization of immigration control and border communities, the criminalization of migration, the expansion of NAFTA or “free” trade under the “Merida Initiative,” a war on drugs and national security.

On Tuesday, August 24, 2010, devastating news reports began trickling out about a horrific massacre of some 72 international migrants that took place in Mexico. Armed members of a drug cartel had kidnapped these Central and South America migrants. The cartel gunmen were trying to extort ransom money from them to let them continue on their dangerous journey to the U.S. with the hope of reuniting with their families and seek work to survive.

The drug traffickers had tied the migrants’ hands behind their backs and then executed them by shooting them in the back. One migrant who survived the execution, although gravely wounded, dragged himself miles when he stumbled upon a military checkpoint on a highway and alerted them. Some 200 soldiers were mobilized and went to the farmhouse where a heavy gun battle ensued, leaving one soldier and three drug cartel gunmen dead. Then the soldiers made the grisly discovery of the migrants’ bodies, 58 men and 14 women—migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Brazil—who been slaughtered inside a farmhouse close to San Fernando, a small farming community in the Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas and about a 100 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.

Epidemic of Abuse and Exploitation of Migrants
The Mexican government’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reports that more than 10,000 migrant kidnappings have been reported in the first six months of 2010 in Mexico. Yet, the CNDH and the Mexican government have not worked to effectively protect migrants, expose the abuses and prosecute the traffickers and their collaborators in the police, military and other government entities.

Drug traffickers and smugglers, as well as police and military, often hold migrants hostage and force them to pay high ransoms before they are allowed to continue usually on the last leg of their journey to the U.S. The CNDH said that in the first half of 2009, when only some 9,000 migrant kidnapping cases had been reported, corrupt government officials and police, organized crime, traffickers and other criminals extorted as much as $25 million dollars from kidnapped migrants.

When migrants make it to the U.S.-Mexico border, they fare no better. The U.S. deliberately funnels migrants into the deserts and mountains of Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Texas. Here at the border they are subjected to another layer of abuse. They are thrown into the hands of smugglers and other traffickers who have no second thoughts about abandoning individuals, who are often injured or suffering severe exhaustion, in the wilds, where migrants face a certain death either by extremes of heat or cold.

As a result of criminalization and few if any options to regularize their status or migrate with rights, U.S. and international migration control policies make migrant workers easy targets for exploitation and criminal attacks and extortions, where they live and work or whether in they are in transit or in the U.S.

Although Mexico is a signatory to the “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families,” the Mexican government’s de facto policies and treatment of migrants is a bloodied mark on the convention. The U.S. is not a signatory to the migrant workers’ human rights convention. U.S. immigration enforcement and services, bound up to the U.S. politics of national security, are rife with abuses and human rights violations.

Mexican and U.S. policies, collusion through inaction, and their own impunity have created a situation where thousands of migrants are being subjected to extremes of abuse. The massacre of migrants in Mexico shows that drug traffickers have “diversified” their wares to include humans. They act with impunity, either as a result of official corruption or collusion that turns a blind eye to the exploitation, and results in the unfortunate death of migrants “funneled” by U.S. policies through the deadly desert and mountainous areas of the border.

Migrants who survive the journey only slightly fare better. Once out of the clutches of traffickers and smugglers they face a gauntlet of unscrupulous police, elected officials and employers who prey upon them. Or they are further criminalized and are hunted down, filling the dungeons of prisons, euphemistically called “detention centers.”

What is to be done?
What is to be done? Certainly, we should call for the investigation and prosecution all the abusers and those in government who collaborated in this heinous crime. But even this will not be enough. To prevent further abuses will take historic efforts on our and the immigrant rights and justice movements’ part. It will mean organizing to make the U.S. and Mexican governments decriminalize migration and demilitarize immigration control and border communities. These demands also have to expose the root causes and push back on economic and trade policies that undermine communities and forcibly displace workers and divide families.

For now we ask everyone to take a minute to reflect on this horrendous massacre of innocents and to respect those migrants among us who have survived this odyssey – just to be with their families, to work and support their families and communities back home.

Arnoldo Garcia
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados310 8th Street Suite 303Oakland, CA 94607Tel (510) 465-1984 ext. 305Fax (510) 465-1885 http://www.nnirr.org/

READ NNIRR's latest human rights report Guilty by Immigration Status

Show your support for justice and human rights!

Follow NNIRR on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NNIRRnetwork

Bike4Peace now in Kansas!

Bike4Peace continues across America, after break in of Cynthia McKinney's home

Bike4Peace, now in Kansas!

Please offer your support with a meal or as a host: 541-829-9788 or 541-829-9034

By Cynthia McKinney
Censored News

The song that keeps going around in my head for this week is by Gil Scott Heron and it goes like this:

"This ain't really life, ain't really life, ain't really . . . nothin' but a movie." Because we went from extraordinary to surreal in just a matter of hours.

Gil Scott Heron also sings "Push come to shove--you find exactly what you're made of" and that also seems appropriate for this week.

I've spent so much time being rather graphic about my aches and pains in certain places, and so I thought I'd focus this week on the mental battle that each rider overcomes in order to, day in and day out, ride as much as 85 and 90 miles, starting out at dawn each morning. You can imagine the kind of mental fortitude that takes. In my last ride, I did only 21 miles and into the 3rd mile I felt my shoes too tight, my seat too hard, my bun too hurt, my brain on the fry as the sun's heat sizzled inside my helmet. My arms and my legs soak up the sun's rays and turn as black as my gloves. And then, turn brown again a few hours later. But, amazingly, not once on this ride have I felt my legs too sore and give out. Clearly, for the core riders who are in much better shape than me, this is a game of wits: how to stay on the case minute after minute, rotation after rotation, spin after spin, and remain alert--because the cars are unforgiving--and reach the goal of the next city.

YeYo collects plants. He's surely an expert on what is edible and what is medicinal and what we'd better stay away from. He picked something called "ephedra" and told us it was used to make "Mormon Tea." Well, I did start reading the book of Mormon, but I stayed away from the tea!

Annie listens to her iPod. Now, for me, that takes skill. Because the cars and the trucks and the SUV's and the RV's are treacherous sometimes. Too many drivers just haven't figured out yet that it's OK to be nice and share the road with bicyclists.

Scott is a serious rider, but he takes the time to appreciate the scenery. And wow! What scenery!

Vernon, Bike4Peace's co-founder, is truly an enthusiast. Having done this cross-country bicycling twice before, he now is interested in taking Bike4Peace international and has even roughed out a map to take a group of cyclists throughout the world's war-torn zones, including India-occupied Kashmir, which has been in the news recently.

I've given Yaney the title of Director of Logistics. Because she has done an incredible job of keeping us sheltered and fed on every stop along the trip.

I've canonized Vernon and Yaney; Vernon, because he is so patient with me when I'm riding and because he's the leader, he rides last. So, with me--he's waaaaaaaay last! Yaney, because she's figured out a way to split riding time with me so that I get to ride some, even though she could ride more. And when I get back, I will show them just how much I appreciate what they have done to teach me how to be a better rider!

When I get back, you say? Yes, and here's how Gil Scott Heron became the singer of the week:

Day Twenty-Five - It was mostly downhill after Monarch Pass at 11,000+ feet! So, after sleeping in a wonderful little motel in Poncha Springs, Colorado, it was time to anticipate crossing into Kansas. I was looking forward to Kansas because it was reputed to be so flat, even the bicycle maps had no elevation at all for the entire state. I figured that that was my kind of riding. I've learned to abhor hills, let alone climbing mountains on my bicycle. But then, Vernon told me that I could use a better set of gears, especially low gears. He says that nothing is wrong with the gears I have if all I'm going to do is tool around the neighborhood. But for the kind of riding out there on the byways of America, I need a bit more. So, we made our way from Poncha Springs into camping at Westcliffe.

Day Twenty-Six - We're off to see the wizard . . . Yaney rode 26 miles today! And we're headed toward Pueblo! I put in 21 miles before calling for Yaney to come and get me with the sag vehicle. Afterwards, realized I only had 5 miles more to go before arriving at our destination in Pueblo, a Mexican Restaurant, where Bob Kinsey (Green Party U.S. Senate candidate) and our host, Celestia, meet us!!! We have a host in Pueblo, a rest day, AND a potluck scheduled, so we're all very happy. After reaching Pueblo, I had real chorizo for lunch so I was especially happy. My aunt Hazel and I LOVED to make chorizo and eggs for breakfast and invite Nick and Dedon and her children over to eat with us! Celestia took us to her home where we camped in her front yard--I chose the hammock and swang under a full moon and a clear night sky.

Day Twenty-Seven - Today is our rest day and the day of the potluck. Man, it was so good to be in a real home. Celestia surprised us last night with dinner and then this morning with breakfast. Time to go to the potluck. We get dressed. Some of the bikers ride in; Scott went to visit a friend he hadn't seen in a long time and arrives just in time to accompany Celestia, Annie, and me to the potluck. We all proceed to Celestia's car, only to discover that her window has been smashed in and she doesn't have a clue who could have done such a thing. We call the police and make a report. I tell Celestia that she can always come and stay with me in Georgia--she is such a wonderful person!

Day Twenty-Eight - I think everyone is sad because we have to leave Celestia. She introduced her entire family to us. And has treated us royally. Yaney wants to spend more time at Celestia's and do some more logistics before leaving Pueblo to support the riders and search for lodging in Haswell, our last city/town in Colorado. I pack my things and get ready, wait for Yaney, and decide to go online to clear my inbox so I don't get so many bounces. Despite it being gmail, I've managed to fill my inbox! Among the first e-mails I read is a message from my neighbor, my house has been broken into--what do I want her to do. I try to respond to her but my box is full. I try to call her from my two cell phones and neither of them works, although they both worked at Celestia's home earlier. Finally, I borrow Celestia's phone and return the call. I exit my e-mail account and go into another account and send my neighbor a message: CALL THE POLICE! I finally talk to my neighbor, Daveed, and my mother. They all converge at my house and oh, what a mess. Instead of going to Haswell with the bikers, Yaney drops me at the Pueblo airport and I head back to Georgia . . .

Day Twenty-Nine - Bike4Peace makes it to a new time zone: from Pacific to Mountain to Central. Bike4Peace is now in Kansas--without me. Meanwhile, at home, I conclude that my burglars are either super stupid (leaving some items behind that one would think high on a burglar's list) or super shrewd (very selective about exactly what was taken).

"Push come to shove you find exactly what you're made of."

* Click here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZ-OMQp1bhg) to have a listen to Vic Sadot's latest: "Trouble in the Rubble" about the strange white-hot debris that burned the recovery dogs and first responders at the World Trade Center Towers in the aftermath of September 11. I'll be in NYC on 9/11/2010 to remember the First Responders that Congress and others certainly forgot. And then back to Bike4Peace in Kentucky!

* Click here to view the Josh Blakeney 7-part documentary of STS (Splitting the Sky) who tried to serve George Bush a people's warrant for torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity and who, instead, found himself being tried for the crime of obstruction of police officers doing their duty (protecting Bush from justice)! And I'm in it starting in Part 4!










Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Violations of Native Religious Freedom in Prisons: What the State Dept. doesn't want you to know

The following statement was issued for inclusion in the US Periodic Review on Human Rights to the United Nations Human Rights Council. However, the information is not included in the final report released by the US to the UN on Monday, Aug. 23, 2010.


March 16, 2010

Albuquerque, New Mexico

(Photo: Lenny Foster on Earthcycles radio at AIM West San Francisco/Photo by Brenda Norrell)

American Indian Religious and Spiritual Practices in the United States Prison System

Lenny Foster (Dine’)

Navajo Nation Corrections Project

Board of Directors

International Indian Treaty Council

My name is Lenny Foster and I am the Program Supervisor for the Navajo Nation Corrections Project in Window Rock, Arizona and I have been a volunteer traditional spiritual advisor for American Indian adults and juveniles in the respective state and federal prisons for the past thirty years.

I am also a Board Member for the International Indian Treaty Council since 1992. The International Indian Treaty Council is an organization of Indigenous Peoples from North, Central, and South Americas, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands working for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Culture and Sacred Lands.

My submission of this paper will serve to illustrate the racism, discrimination, and non-compliance with human rights obligations and ongoing human rights violations. I have come to a profound conclusion that American Indian peoples are confronted with a major crisis in family home environments and in their respective communities with the issue of traditional religious, spiritual and cultural practices and beliefs not being fully recognized and not being taught their spirituality. This lack of spiritual development, teaching and growth carries over into the prison setting.

Through my personal experience, I have observed the denial of American Indians to engage in the practice of their traditional religious, cultural and spiritual ceremonies and beliefs throughout the United States Prison System. The extreme racism and discrimination toward religious and spiritual beliefs and practices has made it very difficult for the Native inmates to practice and participate in traditional ceremonial practices in a consistent manner. I base my knowledge and experience on the visits to ninety-six (96) state and federal correctional facilities where I have provided spiritual counseling to approximately two thousand Native American male and female inmates. These facilities are classified at minimum, medium, and maximum security facilities including Death Row.

This long standing criminal justice problem which implicates federal protected rights has been documented through oversight hearings including Congressional Hearings as early as 1978 during the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and also in 1992 and 1994 before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and House Native American Affairs Committee. Oversight hearings were held in the 103rd Congress concerning the Free Exercise of Religion problems of Native prisoners. Presently, Indian country is experiencing a lack of compliance and enforcement of legal protection for the free exercise of religion as important human and civil rights issues for Native prisoners. The free exercise of religion is essential to the cultural and spiritual well being of native inmates and of the Indian Reservations to which the Native offenders will eventually return upon release from the correctional institutions.

The U.S. Department of Justice has a trust responsibility with Indian Nations/Tribes across the country that encompasses criminal justice, corrections and human rights issues, including a legal obligation to protect traditional Native religions, spiritual and cultural practices and beliefs. The protection of religious freedom and practice is a mandate to protect religious liberty and the preservation of customs and traditions. Because of its Trust Responsibility the Department of Justice was requested by the Navajo Nation, Oglala Sioux Tribe, International Indian Treaty Council, and Native American Rights Fund, Native American Church of North America, the American Indian Movement, National Congress of American Indians and others to investigate civil and human rights violations and rectify the policies to provide legal protection for the free exercise of religion and spiritual practices and beliefs of incarcerated American Indians. This has not been done and/or any efforts to bring about any resolutions.

It is a serious issue in the Indian community because our Native peoples are being incarcerated in very disproportionate numbers due to alcoholism, poverty, high unemployment rates, domestic violence and substance abuse. Ninety-nine percent of felony arrests are alcohol related and this problem is best addressed through traditional spiritual and cultural practices and beliefs. It is a known fact the Native prisoners who are allowed to participate in traditional religious and spiritual practices become model and exemplary inmates.

Recent studies show approximately 26,000 Native Americans incarcerated in twenty three states with significant Native American populations. In the thirty years I have counseled approximately two thousand American Indian prisoners by visits to various state departments of corrections; I have both witnessed and experienced the harassment, interference, indifference, intimidation and discrimination toward our Native traditional beliefs and the right to worship in a traditional manner as practiced by our ancestors. If Native prisoners are denied access to their traditional practices and beliefs, incarceration will be merely “warehousing” the Native prisoners and the emotional, psychological, and spiritual well- being will never be fully realized.

I have observed anger, rage, resentment and emotional pain exhibited by Native inmates that are the result of being reared in dysfunctional environments and exposed to and engaging in addictive behavior. The psychological and emotional pain has decimated the Indian Nations across the United States. The intergenerational trauma has had a very drastic impact on Indian communities which has resulted in many individuals lacking a strong sense of self identity and self-esteem. Many Indian communities have been completely invaded by alcohol and our spiritual values have been undermined by alcohol and substance abuse. The spiritual identity and foundation of Native peoples are deteriorating and it is imperative to make a concerted effort to reclaim our spirituality and spiritual values. The freedom to practice spiritual and religious ceremonies is the basis for restoring dignity and pride. It has been our experience that dignity can be restored and revived if we are allowed to teach our own people through traditional counseling and ancient ceremonial practices. The experience of incarceration also affects the immediate family, clan, communities, and Indian Nations/Tribes and for this reason, in particular, freedom of worship for American Indian inmates is very important because our incarcerated relatives will return home to loved ones. Those individuals who have participated in native religious and spiritual services while incarcerated are more culturally viable, respectful and responsible contributing citizens upon returning to their communities.

Denial of access to traditional religious and spiritual ceremonies and services is tantamount to a denial of opportunity for recovery and spiritual healing. American Indians deserve the same opportunities to practice their traditional religions particularly the Sweat Lodge Ceremony, Pipe Ceremony, Talking Circle and Drumming and Singing as any other inmates have to practice their respective religious beliefs.

To facilitate healing and recovery, cleansing and purification of the emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual welling-being, inmates require: (1) access to the Sweat Lodge Ceremony and all necessary herbs, items and materials; 2) access to traditional spiritual leaders who shall be afforded the same stature, respect and inmate contact as is afforded the clergy of Judeo-Christian and/or Islamic faith and who lead or instruct in ancient traditional counsel; (3) the right to wear a traditional hairstyle as dictated by religious beliefs, and cessation of the indiscriminate cutting of long hair, which produces depression and emotional imbalance, and which many regard as a form of spiritual castration; (4) access to traditional foods such as buffalo, mutton, salmon, corn, squash, melons, beans, fry bread and other traditional foods which should be allowed once or twice a year in line with solstice and equinox times; 5) and access and right to possession of sacred items as used in ceremonies such as the Pipe, mountain tobacco, drum, gourd, sage, cedar, sweet grass, medicine bundles, bags, eagle feather, corn pollen, and other items and materials such as firewood, lava rocks, willow saplings, etc.; and (6) American Indians on Death Row should be allowed regular visits with their Spiritual Leaders and those requesting that “Last Rites” be performed through the Sweat Lodge Ceremony and Pipe Ceremony should be permitted to do so.

These traditional practices and ceremonies must be respected without interference, harassment or irreverence and discrimination toward Native American religious practices and beliefs must be stopped. Ignorance and/or lack of awareness should not be an excuse for systematic or arbitrary denial of religious rights and then justification of these denials on the basis of “security concerns”. Singing with a hand drum, water drum, or big powwow drum should be allowed without prohibiting singing songs that are sometimes viewed with contempt. Corrections officials have made racist remarks, “if we allow the Indian boys to sing, they get all riled up”. Other remarks that have made toward the American Indian prisoners is “they need to speak English and we have no idea what they do in the sweat lodge, for all we know they might be plotting an escape”.

Traditional spiritual services should be held weekly for positive changes to occur and these practices should be accorded respect and included in the overall programming of the correctional institution as other religious practices. The volunteer spiritual leader or Traditional Practitioner provides and acts as a mentor for the young at risk native offenders. Many of these offenders do not speak their language, live their culture, and much less know the songs, prayers and/or ceremonial practices. It is in the correctional institutions that they have the opportunity to learn traditions, customs, and culture and begin recovery from shame, alcoholism, anger, etc. I believe from my experience that the key to spiritual healing, wellness and recovery is full participation and equal access to spiritual and religious practices and beliefs for all inmates.

My recommendations are (1) convene a Congressional Hearing to investigate these human rights violations; (2) conduct an investigation into the conditions and treatment of Native prisoners in the U.S. Prisons System; (3) implement and fund a Commission Study to identify the complete demographics of the American Indian inmates.(4) request an Executive Order to implement a uniform statute allowing American Indian Religious Practices and Beliefs in the U.S. Prison System similar to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Policy on Religious Practices; (5) implement funding for the development of culturally based pre-release programs and after-care programs that are culturally appropriate for mental, spiritual and behavioral health services; and (6) invite the leaders of those Indian Nations/Tribes that have a large number of their citizens in the U.S. Prison System such as the Navajo (Dine’) Nation, Lakota Nations, Pima, Tohono Oodham, Apaches, Cheyenne, Ute, Ojibwa and any other Indian Nations that have over representation in the prisons to schedule a meeting with the U.S. Justice Department for the purpose of identifying funding for comprehensive programs and negotiate for the provision of traditional and culturally relevant spiritual services for the American Indian prisoners.

These concerns and unresolved issues will be shared with appropriate fora in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and seek compliance with the Declaration of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Invitations will be made to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples to visit the United States Prison Systems. Thank you

What the US State Department doesn't want you to hear: Leonard Peltier

What the US State Department doesn't want you to hear: Leonard Peltier

The following statement was submitted for the US Periodic Review  to the United Nations Human Rights Council. However, the US does not include any mention of Peltier in the human rights report released on Monday.

Lenny Foster to UN and Obama: Release Peltier


March 26, 2010

San Francisco, California


Lenny Foster (Dine’)

Navajo Nation Corrections Project

Board of Directors

International Indian Treaty Council

My name is Lenny Foster (Dine’) and I am the Program Supervisor for the Navajo Nation Corrections Project in Window Rock, Arizona and I have been a volunteer traditional Spiritual Advisor for American Indian adults and juveniles in the respective state and federal prisons for the past thirty years. The Navajo Nation Corrections Project is a counseling and advocacy program for Navajo and other Native American inmates incarcerated in state and federal prisons. I also work with families of incarcerated American Indian prisoners and our major activities include spiritual services such as the Sweat Lodge Ceremonies, Pipe Ceremonies, Talking Circles, Spiritual Gatherings, ecclesiastical visits to Death Row and probation and parole advocacy.

I have been a Board Member for the International Indian Treaty Council since spring 1992. The International Indian Treaty Council is an organization of Indigenous Peoples from North, Central and South Americas, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands working for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Culture and Sacred Lands.

My submission of this paper will serve to illustrate my support and respect for Leonard Peltier #89637-132, Ojibwa-Lakota from Turtle Mountain, North Dakota who is presently detained at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He has been incarcerated for the last thirty four years. His case illustrates the discrimination and racist attitudes and human rights violations within the United States criminal justice system. His recent denial of his petition to be released on parole shows the biased and skewed decisions based on lack of compliance for the due process of his release on parole by the U.S. Parole Commission. He satisfactorily met the criteria for release on parole after thirty years of incarceration and assured by the Parole Act of 2005.

I have known Leonard Peltier since November of 1970 when we first met in Denver, Colorado when he was 26 years old and I was 22 years old. We were young and idealistic about making changes throughout Indian Country. I participated in the American Indian Movement with him and we both participated in the ancient ceremonial practices of the Lakota Sun Dance; Sweat Lodge Ceremonies and Pipe Ceremonies. He was a role model and mentor to the younger Indians and he was older brother to many of the younger men and women in the movement.

Leonard along with others was implicated in a shootout with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on June 26, 1975 in Oglala, South Dakota. These turn of events began an illegal and unjust incarceration against Leonard Peltier by the U.S. Government. He fled to Canada and was arrested in Canada on February 6, 1976 and he was extradited from Canada in December based on an affidavit signed by a Myrtle Poor Bear, Native American woman who was known to have serious mental health problems and a woman Leonard did not know.

Ms. Poor Bear claimed to have been Leonard Peltier’s girlfriend was not true or factual and yet she claimed to have been present at the time of the shooting and was witnessed to the shootings. She later confessed she had given false statements after being pressured, threaten and terrorized by the FBI agents.

Ms. Poor Bear wanted to testify about her treatment by the FBI agents and provide a full detailed report of threats by the FBI agents; however, the Federal Judge barred her testimony on the grounds of mental incompetence. She provided false testimony to convict Mr. Peltier and that fact is now considered moot. This conviction on disputed evidence led to a decision that convicted Leonard Peltier to two consecutive life terms in federal prison. This conviction was based on fabricated evidence and it ruined the confidence for a free and unbiased trial.

Leonard has been in the United State Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois; Leavenworth, Kansas; and Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and he has been an exemplary and model inmate with no incident reports. He has been a regular participant in the weekly Sweat Lodge ceremonies and Pipe Ceremonies which is a very positive spiritual experience for all those young Native prisoners who partake in the ancient cleansing and purification ceremony. I have been visiting him as his Spiritual Advisor since March 1985 at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas and I have been witness to his changes in his demeanor, spirituality and is a serene and a kind and very respectful person. He has become a very respected and revered elder. He is now sixty-six years old.

It is my opinion that Leonard Peltier is not a threat to the community nor would his release jeopardize the community much less “depreciate the seriousness of the law” or “promote disrespect for the law”. I have prayed and conducted the sweat lodge ceremony with him and he is a very genuine and exudes humanity. He has expressed remorse about the incident and prays for all who were there on that day on June 26, 1975 and I believed he has made amends and has made his prayers of forgiveness to the Creator. He has helped many and encouraged Indian prisoners to rehabilitate themselves by advocating a drug and alcohol free lifestyle while encouraging pride and learning about their culture and traditions. He is a father, grandfather, and a great grandfather. He is considered a wise elder among the younger Indian prisoners and I can attest to that fact because I have been visiting him for twenty five years and I have observed his maturity flourished. He has been experiencing severe health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, losing his eyesight due to diabetes and a jaw that needs immediate medical attention and I hope and pray this serious condition warrants immediate release from prison to serve out his remaining days with his great grandchildren and grandchildren on his home reservation in North Dakota.

While in prison, Leonard has advocated for peace and respect for the rights of others; he has numerous project he has initiated and spearheaded a pilot program with Dr. Steward Selkin on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation on health care deliver including health care delivery and hopefully implement similar programs on Indian Reservations throughout the United States; also he has worked with Professor Jeffery Timmons on a program to stimulate reservation based economics and investments in Native American business enterprises including component to teach business ownership and operation to the Native youth. Also, he helped established a scholarship at New York University for Native American students seeking a law degree. He has raised two of his grandchildren from prison and he has sponsored young children through various boards and programs. He has sponsored and organized emergency food drives and Toys for Tots on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

He has become a very accomplished and self taught painter and has donated many of his paintings to worthy causes, human rights and social welfare organizations and has worked to develop prisoner art programs whereby increasing prisoner’s self-confidence. Many of his paintings are in demand from many Art Galleries and from art collectors throughout the world. Some of the recipients have been American Civil Liberties Union, Trail of Hope, World Peace and Prayer Day, the First Nation Student Association; and the Buffalo Trust Fund along with many others including human rights activists and movie actors. His humanitarian and charitable works reaches far into the community and programs. Leonard has been widely recognized for his humanitarian works and has won several human rights award including the North Star Frederick Douglas Award; Federation of Labour in Ontario, Canada; Humanist of the Year Award; Human Rights Commission of Spain International Human Rights Prize and the 2004 Silver Arrow Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2009 Leonard Peltier was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the sixth consecutive year. He maintains his dignity and pride in spite of being incarcerated for thirty-four years.

I recommend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples seek compliance through the Declaration of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples and demand a congressional investigation into the human rights violations of Leonard Peltier. Invitations will be made to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples to visit Leonard Peltier at the United State Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. I request his petition for Executive Clemency is approved by the United States Justice Department and President Barack Obama. Thank you.

US tries flim-flam approach on endorsement of Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

US Doctrines of 'Discovery' and 'Conquest' can not supersede UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Censored News
Photo: Native children at gathering to halt uranium mining on Havasupai land in the Grand Canyon by Brenda Norrell

Statement by Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga) Regarding US House Resolution 1551 August 1, 2010

On July 22, 2010, US House of Representatives Resolution 1551.1H was submitted to Congress and referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The resolution expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should “promote respect for and full implementation of the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples consistent with US law.” As positive as this wording of the resolution may seem, the phrase “consistent with US law” is highly problematic because US law with regard to American Indian nations and peoples is premised on unacceptable doctrines such as “discovery,” “conquest,” and “plenary power,” and on a presumption of United States supremacy over Indigenous peoples.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an international human rights instrument that recognizes the individual, collective, and group rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right of self-determination, and the right of Indigenous Peoples to give or withhold their free, prior, and informed consent when it comes to the exploitation of their Indigenous lands, territories, and resources. It is incumbent upon the United States government to fully endorse and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in a manner consistent with international standards of human rights, and in keeping with the recognition of the individual, group, and collective rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga) serves as North American Regional Representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and she is the Vice Chairperson of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development

Innu call for moratorium on uranium exploration and mining

Press Release
For Immediate Release


Uashat , Nitassinan – August 17 2010 – Speaking for his nation, Chief Georges‐Ernest
Grégoire of the Innu of Uashat mak Mani‐Utenam is calling on the Government of Québec to
declare an immediate moratorium on uranium exploration and mining throughout Quebec.
The statement is being made in support of the actions being taken by the grassroots
organization Sept‐Iles Sans Uranium in Quebec City this week.
According to Chief Grégoire, “a moratorium is necessary as the long term consequences of
these activities on the environment, wildlife, and human health have not been evaluated
and are not clearly understood.”
The exploitation of uranium for the production of energy should be the subject of a serious
debate. For the Innu it is not at all clear that the Québec population wants to go down this
The Chief of the Innu of Uashat mak Mani‐Utenam noted that several uranium exploration
projects are found within their traditional territory and that all of these projects, as with all
other authorisations by the Québec Government, require the free prior and informed
consent of the Innu.
The Chief also noted that these projects have significant impacts on the Innu traditional
rights to use, occupy and control their territory. “We live in our territory, we hunt and we
fish there. What will come of our heritage and traditions if Québec promotes this kind of
development? It will be impossible for us to live from the fish and game of Nitassinan as they
will be contaminated if not completely lost forever. It’s inconceivable and totally
unacceptable to the Innu” declared Chief Grégoire.
Source :
Kateri C. Jourdain
Director of Communications ‐ITUM

Monday, August 23, 2010

Grassy Narrows Clan Mothers block MNR enforcement team

Monday August 23, 2010

Grassy Narrows Clan Mothers block MNR enforcement team
Press statement

Slant Lake, Asubpeeschoseewagong - The site of Grassy Narrows' high profile logging blockade will see action again today as grassroots women block passage for Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR ) enforcement officers interfering with back-road repair work by the northwestern Ontario First Nations community. The community was repairing washouts and beaver damage to nearby back-roads to facilitate their ongoing use and enjoyment of their traditional territory. The MNR has visited the repair work three times and have said to the workers they will be watching them closely, threatening to stop the work. This time the community has resolved not to allow that and has blocked MNR access at Slant Lake, allowing repairs to proceed.

"We the Anishinabek have never given up jurisdiction on our natural territories," said Judy Da Silva, a Grassy Narrows mother, blockader, and traditional healer. "We agreed to share the lands with the newcomers, but we will never give up our inherent right to use and protect the land, water and the forests."

The roads require repairs because the MNR has not conducted maintenance on the back road network since 2002 when grassroots women and youth put their bodies on the line to block logging machinery from further destroying the forests their community depends on. Previously the back roads had been maintained by local contractors through Provincial subsidies provided to the logging industry.

The blockade, now in its eighth year is the longest running blockade in Canadian history. Logging trucks feeding Weyerhaeuser's Trust Joist mill, and Abitibi pulp and paper mills shifted their clearcut logging operations to other parts of the territory until June 2008 when AbitibiBowater bowed to pressure and surrendered their license to log on the Whiskey Jack Forest. However, Weyerhaeuser continues to seek access to wood clearcut on Grassy Narrows Territory and the MNR has threatened to resume logging as early as September.

The back roads are used by Grassy Narrows members to access hunting, trapping, wild rice picking and berry picking areas, and for access to the Ball Lake fishing lodge. For generations the lodge has been a key source of employment for the community, but since the mercury poisoning of the English-Wabigoon River System the lodge has had minimal economic development benefits for the small indigenous community.

"The MNR attempt to stop maintenance of the roads is an attack on our community's self sufficiency," said Roberta Keesick, a Grassy Narrows grandmother, trapper, and blockader. “It is another attempt by the Province to assert unilateral control over the Territory in violation of our inherent and treaty rights."

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Cynthia McKinney: Bike4Peace: Over Monarch Pass in Colorado

Bike4Peace: Over Monarch Pass in Colorado

By Cynthia McKinney
Days Eighteen thru Twenty-Four: Common Ground Along an Uncommon Route
Photo by Scott/Bike4Peace

Along this trip, I’ve been testing a line: “We’re biking for peace. We started at the House of Common Sense in Oakland, California and we’ll end up at the White House that needs some common sense!” Everyone in every state has enthusiastically agreed!

Now, you won’t believe this! I have broken bread with militia members who voted for Obama! Now, I know that doesn’t sound possible, but I overheard the conversation of some Utah men discussing what the heck they were going to do to put this country -right and bingo—an admission that they had voted for Obama! They lamented that they certainly weren’t going to do that again, but they couldn’t vote Republican, because Bush had ruined the country, and so they just didn’t know what they were going to do. That’s when my feet began to glide uncontrollably in their direction. The idea of these men having voted for Obama just overtook me and I begged their indulgence and interjected myself into their conversation. In just a few short moments it was clear that we had similar concerns about the direction of our country. I never let on to them who I was. I just reminded them that they did have options, even in Utah, where the Green Party was on the ballot. That they didn’t have to give their most precious political asset—their vote—to a political party that didn’t deserve it. Interestingly, I left them saying to myself that I always knew that with dialogue we could find areas of commonality, just as I had done that in the first Congressional District that sent me to Washington, D.C,. and that if we worked hard enough at dialogue, that we could bring this country together. So, Bike4Peace 2010 took me into a conversation that most likely I would never have witnessed were I not here. It only reinforces my belief that we really can build bridges to each other, if only the hate-mongering, fear-proselytizing politicians would get out of the way

One last thing: Now, I think I’m beginning to understand how bikers feel when they’re on a bike. Just before leaving Gunnison, Colorado, I decided to bike into town all by myself!!!!! To buy some jewelry to go with the outfit I bought in Telluride. Even with the bike helmet on, I imagined Mel Gibson yelling, FREEDOM! I think that explains why we’ve met so many bikers, all alone on the road, from all parts of the world, criss-crossing our country. Once one gets over the “rumpus hurticus,” a term coined by our fellow traveler Paul Stutzman, biking can become quite addictive, and if not addictive, certainly fun and challenging!

Day Eighteen -- We left Hite, Utah and Glen Canyon and headed into Blanding, our last Utah stop.

Day Nineteen -- Can you believe that the core riders have ridden across California, Nevada, and Utah and are about to do the same in Colorado. We arrive in Dolores and begin the process of unloading the car and setting up the cabin to receive company!!! We are in a cabin along the Dolores River and by chance, Yaney discovers an e-mail from Marion saying that he’d like to meet us while we’re in Dolores. Marion bought dinner for us and brought along his friends to enjoy. Marion s a courageous young, Black man who sued the county for discrimination! He also has a copy of the documentary, American Blackout, for me to autograph. I knew he’d want to take a photo so I dressed up in the tie-dye dress that I bought from Marianne! All evening, he wanted to know about Obama. I was able to cut through much of the propaganda and the prejudice and give him the truth and the facts about our President. In addition, I reminded him of the reason we participate in politics and what our responsibilities are if our expectations are not met. We had a very potent political discussion.

Day Twenty – Everyone anticipated arriving in Telluride. Well, as it turns out, it was in Telluride that I posed the question for the first time—what the heck am I doing here??? But before I deal with that, let me say that the shopping was very satisfying. Between Dolores and Telluride, I made my first commitment to leave the group. My intention was not to leave the group during the entire ride. But I received an offer I could not turn down: September 11 with Luke Rudkowski (WeAreChange-NYC), Daniel Sunjata, my sister Cindy Sheehan, and former UK MP George Galloway!!!!! And since I didn’t pack anything but bicycle clothes, I needed something to wear. Telluride provided the perfect answer. Only thing, the young lady who helped me was sooo ready to talk. She was disappointed with politics. She had been excited and had even majored in political science. She wanted to explain her disappointment and how because of it, she found her way to the architecture department. She is now working to go back to school to get her masters. I commented to her that it was a shame that a bunch of bankers had to get in-between her and her education. After shopping, YeYo took me for a bike ride and we went on the gondolas, too. After that, back to City Park where we pitched tents and that’s when I had my “why am I here” moment. That next morning, Day Twenty-One, I was sooooooo cold. I now know why we have Thermarest—it does protect you from the cold ground.

Day Twenty-One – What a wonderful shop in Ridgeway, Colorado!!! Bought some street clothes since I’ve figured that walking around in the bike shorts isn’t good for me at all!!! Overnight in Montrose, Colorado. The view of the mountains is awesome. However, Utah for me is still the most beautiful!!!

Day Twenty-Two – Gunnison, Colorado.

Day Twenty-Three – Rest Day. Our hotel is outside of town so I ride the bike back into town in my first solo ride of the trip!!!

Day Twenty-Four – Monarch Pass!!! 11,300 feet today and the core bikers rode all the way up and down. Tonight we sleep in Poncha Springs with a great sense of accomplishment. We’re on the other side now of the Great Divide! Scott says we’ve done about half of the elevation and about one-third of the mileage!!! Amazing!!!

I think Nora Jones’s “Above Ground” is the great song for this week. That’s what I played on my father’s iPhone as Yaney and I crossed Monarch Pass and started our journey on the Atlantic side of the Continental Divide.

Oh beautiful for spacious skies . . . The scale of this country and all its bounty. On this day, University of Georgia scientists expose the lie that all of the oil is gone from the Gulf while the world counts the hours until Israel strikes Iran with weapons supplied by the U.S. My son awaits a storm in Georgia, that originated in the Gulf of Mexico, to see if it will rain oil in Georgia the way it has already in Louisiana. We all know what this could mean. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen. On both counts.

Oh, why can’t our country be a better partner for Mother Earth and the global community? Who will step up and make it so?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Roberto Rodriguez: We are Spirit

We are spirit
by Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Photo: Roberto Rodriguez walking and remembering migrants, Tucson to San Xavier. By Brenda Norrell.

In Arizona, we fight because we are spirit. Yet, in recent travels, I’ve gotten the distinct impression that many people think that human beings are made simply of flesh and blood and that only things material have consequence.

Human beings also have spirits. In Arizona, bigot forces are not content with simply getting rid of as many brown bodies as possible, but also ensuring that those that remain become assimilated into intolerant copies of themselves.

The world appears to be knowledgeable about the effort – via SB 1070 – to legalize hate, fear and racial profiling in Arizona. What most seem to be unaware of is that there is also an effort by state schools superintendent, Tom Horne, to brainwash the state’s school children via HB 2281 – the anti-Ethnic/Raza Studies law that unless stopped – will go into effect on Jan 1, 2011.

There is a third law in the works; the effort by state rep. Russell Pierce, chief sponsor of the state’s apartheid laws, to nullify the 14th Amendment in Arizona [guarantees U.S. birthright citizenship].

Tolteka, a renowned Los Angeles hip hop artist – inspired by a recent column – From Manifest Destiny to Manifest Insanity – has penned a rhyme called: The Trilogy of Terror. It breaks down these so-called laws that are intended to destroy our minds and spirits.

Those of us here in Arizona do not recognize these apartheid schemes as laws. At least not as moral or legitimate laws. Even the courts have already struck down the most odious parts of SB 1070.

But back to HB 2281. This is the one people are paying least attention to. While denouncing SB 1070 in May, five UN Special Rapporteurs also denounced HB 2281. They said: “Such law and attitude are at odds with the State’s responsibility to respect the right of everyone to have access to his or her own cultural and linguistic heritage and to participate in cultural life… Everyone has the right to seek and develop cultural knowledge and to know and understand his or her own culture and that of others through education and information.”

They further pointed out that controlling immigration and adhering to fundamental principles of non-discrimination are not mutually exclusive. “States are obligated to not only eradicate racial discrimination, but also to promote a social and political environment conducive to respect for ethnic and cultural diversity.”

Their report is self-evident, yet, we should pay close attention to the illogic of the bigoted forces; they claim they are not against immigration: only illegal immigration. So what does anti-bilingualism and Ethnic Studies have to do with illegal immigration?

There is an equal danger to both SB 1070 and HB 2281; one attacks our bodies, the other our minds and spirits. HB 2281 targets Tucson’s highly successful Raza Studies program. But as written, it applies to the entire state, and it can become copycat legislation – state by state – not simply targeting k-12 education, but universities as well. The authors erroneously claim Ethnic Studies result in hate, segregation, anti-americanism and advocates the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

What’s at stake with HB 2281 is not simply an attack on a program (Raza Studies), but on the right to teach/learn and the right of students to succeed as a result. As signed, HB 2281 creates a mechanism by which books and curriculums will be subject to approval by the state. The premise is that only Greco-Roman culture (“Western Civilization”) is acceptable for Arizona curriculums. Knowledge from other cultures is henceforth deemed to be “un-American.” Books such as Occupied America (Acuña) and Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire) have already been singled out.

In Arizona, the state superintendent of schools has appointed himself not simply education czar (opposing local control), but also, royal cosmographer – determining that not only is maiz-based or Maya-Nahua culture and knowledge – the philosophical foundation for Raza Studies – outside of Western Civilization, but also outside of humanity. In effect, he also fancies himself head of the BIA – determining who/what is Indigenous.

While singling out people of color, these Inquisition-era “laws” in reality, are an attack against all people. The legalization of racial profiling and cultural mind-control belongs in the Dark Ages and the battle against the sanctioning of hate, censorship and forbidden curriculums is being fought right here in Arizona (This is the subject of a forthcoming conference in December at the University of Arizona). Within weeks, this battle will step into the courtroom via a lawsuit against the state. We are confident we will easily win against the forces of fear, hate and ignorance.

Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, is a member of TUSD’s Mexican American Studies Community Advisory board and can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com

Thanks; Sincerely
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Column of the Americas
PO BOX 3812
Tucson, AZ 85722


You change my way of writing, you change my way of thinking. You change my way of thinking, you change who I am.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bolvia Peoples Agreement in texts for UN negotiations on Climate Change

The proposals of “Peoples Agreement” in the texts for United Nations negotiation on Climate Change

Press statement from Bolivian Government
Photo: Manny Pino, Acoma Pueblo and Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham, cochair the Indigenous Peoples Working Group at the Cochabamba Climate Summit in April. Photo by Ben Powless, Mohawk.
BONN, Germany -- After a week of negotiations, the main conclusions of the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Right of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, April 2010) have been incorporated in the document of United Nations on Climate Change, that now have been recognized as a negotiation text for the 192 countries which has been congregated in Bonn, Germany, during the first week august of 2010.

The most important points that have been incorporated for its consideration in the next round of negotiation before Cancun, that will take place in China, are:

· 50 % reduction of greenhouse gasses emission by developed countries for second period of commitments from the Kyoto Protocol years 2013 to 2017.

· Stabilize the rise of temperature to 1 C and 300 parts for million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

· To guarantee an equitable distribution of atmospheric space, taking into account the climate debt of emissions by developed countries for developing countries.

· Full respect for the Human Rights and the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, women, children and migrants.

· Full recognition to the United Nations Declaration on of Indigenous Peoples Rights.

· Recognition and defense of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony with nature.

· Guarantee the fulfillment of the commitments from the developed countries though the building of an International Court of Climate Justice.

· Rejection to the new mechanisms of carbon markets that transfer the responsibility of the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries to developing countries.

· Promotion of measures that change the consumption patterns of the developed countries.

· Adoption of necessary measures in all relevant forums to be excluded from the protection of the intellectual property rights to technologies and ecologically sustainable useful to mitigate climate change.· Developed countries will allocate 6% of their national gross product to actions relatives to Climate Change.

· Integrated management of forest, to mitigation and adaptation, without market mechanics and ensuring the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities.

· Prohibition the conversion of natural forest for plantations, since the monoculture plantations are not forest, instead should encourage the protection and conservation of natural forests.


Las propuestas del “Acuerdo de los Pueblos” en los textos para la negociación de Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climático

Después de una semana de negociaciones, las principales conclusiones de la Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre Cambio Climático y los Derechos de la Madre Tierra (Cochabamba, abril de 2010) han sido incorporadas en el documento de Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climático, que ahora ha sido reconocido como un texto de negociación por los 192 estados que se congregaron en Bonn, Alemania, durante la primera semana de agosto de 2010.

Los puntos más relevantes que han sido incorporados para su consideración en la próxima ronda de negociación previa a Cancún, que se realizará en China, son:

+ La reducción en un 50 % de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero por parte de los países desarrollados para el segundo periodo de compromisos del Protocolo de Kioto del año 2013 al 2017.

+ Estabilizar el incremento de la temperatura a 1 C y 300 partes por millón de Dióxido de Carbono en la atmósfera.

+ Garantizar una distribución equitativa del espacio atmosférico, tomando en cuenta la deuda climática de emisiones de los países desarrollados para con los países en desarrollo.

+ Pleno respeto a los Derechos humanos y a los derechos inherentes de los pueblos indígenas, las mujeres, los niños y los migrantes.

+ Pleno reconocimiento a la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas de los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas.

+ Reconocimiento y defensa de los derechos de la Madre Tierra para alcanzar la armonía con la naturaleza.

+ Garantizar el cumplimiento de los compromisos de los países desarrollados a través de la constitución de un Tribunal Internacional de Justicia Climática.

+ Rechazo a los nuevos mecanismos de mercado de carbono, que traspasan la responsabilidad de la disminución de emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero de los países desarrollados a los países en desarrollo.

+ Promoción de medidas que cambien los patrones de consumo de los países desarrollados.

+ Adopción de las medidas necesarias en todos los foros pertinentes para que se excluya de la protección de los derechos de propiedad intelectual a las tecnologías útiles y ecológicamente sostenibles para mitigar el Cambio Climático

+ Los países desarrollados destinarán el 6 % de su producto nacional bruto para acciones relativas al Cambio Climático.

+ Manejo integral del bosque, para mitigación y adaptación, sin mecanismos de mercado y garantizando la plena participación de los pueblos indígenas y comunidades locales.

+ Prohibición de la conversión de los bosques naturales en plantaciones, puesto que las plantaciones de monocultivos no son bosques, sino se debe incentivar la protección y conservación de los bosques naturales.
Movimiento Mundial de los Pueblos por la Madre Tierra (MMPMT)

Comisión de Comunicación

Friday, August 13, 2010

Obama and Congress increase border militarization, ensuring more migrant deaths and rights abuses

Obama and Congress increase border militarization, ensuring more migrant deaths and rights abuses

By National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Censored News

Photo: Shoes left behind by migrants in the Sonoran Desert, Southside art installation. Photo Brenda Norrell

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Earlier today President Obama signed a new bill authorizing an additional $600 million to increase border security, strengthening a deadly border militarization strategy. Tragically, this move will surely increase the number of migrants who perish at the U.S.-Mexico border and the bill contributes nothing to ensuring the safety and rights of migrants and border communities.

The new bill promises to enhance controversial immigration-police collaboration and places more military technology, including surveillance drones, on the border. An additional 1,000 Border Patrol officers, 250 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and 250 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will be hired. These increments do not include Obama's recent announcement of the deployment of another 1200 National Guard troops to patrol the border in Arizona.

The Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (CDH), based in Tucson, AZ, reports that the remains of 214 migrants have been recovered as of July 31, 2010, on the Arizona stretch of the border alone, more than was recorded last year. Two months remain in this fiscal year before the final tally of migrant deaths is complete.

As many as 8,000 migrant dead have been recovered on the U.S.-Mexico border since the U.S. government's current "prevention through deterrence" strategy was implemented in 1994. Human rights groups working to prevent migrant deaths and abuses on the border believe that for every migrant dead found at least ten others are missing in the desert.

Along with a record number of migrant deaths at the border, the U.S. under the Obama Administration is achieving a record number of deportations this fiscal year. The "Southwest Border Security Bill" is a reminder of what type of "CIR," or immigration reform, is being offered: A piece-meal enforcement approach that continues gutting the rights of immigrants, with more jailings and deportations and promises of restrictive access to "legalization" and guest worker programs.

Demilitarize, Decriminalize: End Border Deaths

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) is greatly disturbed by the Administration's determination to deepen the flawed and fatal militarization of immigration control and border communities, further fueling the criminalization of immigration status.

The U.S. must end the deliberate "funneling" of migrants through the border desert, stopping the death of migrants and the criminalization of status. Instead, the U.S. must increase access to legal immigration with the protection of rights, provide more options for permanent residency and citizenship and create routine programs of legalization. But this will not be enough if the root causes are not addressed. Fair and just immigration reforms must be accompanied with fair and just trade policies and initiatives. By taking such measures and steps, the Obama Administration can make immigrant families, workers and communities less vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and create safer environments and strengthen everyone's rights.


Arnoldo Garcia (510) 465-1984 ext. 305

Catherine Tactaquin (510) 465-1984 ext. 302

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008: www.earthcycles.net/
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