30 November 2004

Quote of the Day

"Let each of my subjects pray to the god of their liking and choice, for he who has Faith in his god, will have Peace in his heart..."

~~Roger II (c.1095-1154) King of Sicily

29 November 2004

Pine Ridge Coat Drive

Please help if you can or care to...


Coats for Kids on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Many people on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are living under very difficult conditions. Some are in dire need of our help to make the long and cold South Dakota winter more bearable. The Holidays are a time of warm feelings and warm clothes. Everyone deserves to share the same joy, feelings of friendship, security, and comfort!

On the Pine Ridge Reservation, the average household income is under $10,000 a year. In most cases extended family members live together in homes that are poorly built and drafty. The winds that whip across the plains are something we may not have to worry about for our own children.

Those of us who have so much can so easily make a difference in a child's life. Please buy a winter coat for one or several children! Knowing you will keep a little one warm throughout the winter will make YOU feel warm inside!

Would you like to help?

To visit and/ or join this group on the web, go to:

For more information on how to help, please contact

E-mail: winterinpineridge@yahoogroups.com

Phone: 877.256.9720

Please Spread the Word!

Military Waste...

... the "gift" that keeps on giving...
Why am I not suprised this is happening on NDN land?


Study Finds Dangerous Military Waste Near Reservations


SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - The last major campaigns by the U.S. Army against Indian tribes took place in the late 1800s. But the military is still dangerous to Indians in the West today, a new report found.

The study contends the dramatic expansion of U.S. military bases during the 20th century was largely concentrated in the same remote, arid places where Indian reservations were located.

That means Indians could be disproportionately exposed to toxic chemicals and unexploded bombs, compared to non-Indians, according to the report by Gregory Hooks of Washington State University and a former graduate student, Chad Smith, now of Texas State University-San Marcos.

Two world wars and the Cold War "pushed the United States to produce, test and deploy weapons of unprecedented toxicity," the study said. "Native Americans have been left exposed to the dangers of this toxic legacy."

The study, just published in American Sociological Review, is based on geography, not on actual data showing whether Indians are more often injured by unexploded bombs, Hooks said. Such studies remain to be conducted, he said.

Using Defense Department data on closed military bases in the Lower 48 states - including bombing ranges, weapons testing and storage sites - researchers discovered the locations deemed most hazardous "lay within close proximity to Indian reservations," the report said.

Numerous past studies have shown that minority groups often face so-called "environmental racism" from dangerous factories and other commercial facilities because poverty limits the places where they can afford to live.

But in Indian country, Indians typically did not choose the sites of their reservations, and the toxic wastes were created not by private industry but by the military.

This study is the first to show that Indian tribes in remote areas have faced the same sort of environmental discrimination as people in urban areas, Hooks said.

The study only considered closed military bases because security concerns make it impossible to learn of environmental hazards at functioning military bases, Hooks said.

As a result, military facilities like the Yakima Training Center, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and Fort Lewis, Wash., all of which are located near Indian reservations, were not considered in the study, Hooks said.

That raises the possibility that dangers to Indians are even greater than what was found in the report, he said.

The study noted the U.S. military expanded dramatically into Indian country for much of the 20th century. That's because they were looking for areas that were remote, unpopulated and already owned by the federal government.

Many Indian reservations are also located on some of the most undesirable land in the West, the study found.

The Department of Defense has acknowledged the problems, the report said, quoting a 2001 department report that said Indian lands have "hazardous materials, unexploded ordnance (UXO), abandoned equipment, unsafe buildings, and debris."

The government estimates that unexploded ordnance, which can include mines, nerve gases and explosive shells, probably contaminates 20 million to 50 million acres of land in the United States and would take centuries to clean up at current rates.

The Army Corps of Engineers has a branch specifically dedicated to dealing with such dangers at closed bases.

Jerry Vincent, who oversees cleanup of formerly used military sites in California for the Army Corps in Sacramento, said most of the bombing ranges in his region are littered with dummy bombs that do not contain high explosives.

But he agreed that remote military sites that might be near Indian reservations get a low priority for limited cleanup funds because of the low population.

"We focus on areas with the greatest risk for the largest population," Vincent said, naming sites near Los Angeles, San Diego and Palm Springs.

The counties of Imperial, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego in California and Chaves and Luna in New Mexico were singled out in the new report for having large amounts of unexploded ordnance.

The report found that those six counties averaged 10.5 dangerous sites each, compared with 0.12 dangerous sites for each of the other 3,130 counties in the lower 48 states.

Jonathan Maas of the Army Corps in Seattle said they have been searching for a cache of chemical weapons that might have been stored at a facility on the Tulalip Reservation near Marysville in the 1940s, but have not found the weapons.

The report by Hooks and Smith found that in 1916, the U.S. Army owned about 1.5 million acres of land, and expanded dramatically during World War I. By 1940, the Army owned about 2 million acres of land.

The huge buildup to World War II saw the Army acquire another 8 million acres. Most of those lands were in the vicinity or contiguous to Indian reservations, the report said.

Conventional weapons in World War II were far more lethal than weapons from previous wars, and the United States has led the world in the production of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, the report said.

For instance, the huge Nellis Range near Las Vegas was absorbed into the nuclear weapons complex. The Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah saw tests of chemical warfare weapons, the report said.

The military also seized about 342,000 acres of land on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for a bombing range to train pilots. That left many unexploded bombs on the landscape, the report said.

11/27/04 14:36 EST

27 November 2004

Thanksgiving Prayer...

Thanksgiving Prayer

We return thanks to our Mother, the Earth, which sustains us.

We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with

We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure
of our diseases.

We return thanks to the Moon and Stars, which have given to us their
light when the Sun was gone.

We return thanks to the Sun, that has looked upon the Earth with a
beneficent eye.

Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in Whom is embodied
all goodness, and Who directs all things for the good of Her

Iroquois Prayer, adapted

Stormy Windwalker

The "Best" is Yet to Come!

Oh yes! I already can smell the warm. steaming sh*t . . .


AlterNet: Saving Room for the Rotten Pie
By Molly Ivins, AlterNet
Posted on November 23, 2004, Printed on November 27, 2004

Dan Green of New York City says of the election results, "You can't be depressed now, the worst is yet to come." Following that good advice, I intended to keep my indignation dry and save the outrage for when it is really needed, kind of like saving room for the pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner. If we're going to get through the next four years, we have to pace ourselves, I concluded.

But here it is, not even three weeks into the new Bush regime, and already I'm jaw-dropped, you've-got-to-be-kidding mad. Here's the record so far:

* Republicans somehow managed to squirrel an obscure little provision into the appropriations bill that gives congressmen or their "agents" the right to look at your IRS return and make what use of it they will. This perverse item was apparently the brainchild of Rep. Ernie Istook of Oklahoma, who is such a hopeless chucklehead it's often hard to take him seriously as a menace. He's chair of the transportation subcommittee of the appropriations committee, and in that position clearly needs to see your tax return. He also voted for funding for light rail in Salt Lake City (he's Mormon), but against light rail funding for Oklahoma City.

What is it with Oklahoma? Even Istook is likely to be out-dumbed by Oklahoma's new senator, Tom Coburn, who believes "lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go the bathroom" at a time. No evidence could be found for this peculiar claim. He also described state legislators as "a bunch of crapheads." While I do not agree, I am sympathetic to the perspective.

* Sen. Ted Stevens, who as usual has larded the appropriations bill with an outsize package of goodies for Alaska, assured the Senate that Istook's amendment would be deleted before the bill was sent to the president. He begged, he pleaded. "Do I have to get on my knees?" he asked.

Quick, someone check just how much more in federal spending the 250,000 citizens of Alaska are getting than the rest of us.

* Also stashed away inside the appropriations bill was a provision imposing a domestic gag rule on abortion: no federal money to agencies that require doctors, hospitals or insurers to provide abortions, cover them OR give referrals to abortion providers. Sailed right through the House. Hey, why not put a new abortion restriction in the appropriations bill, along with the kitchen sink?

* Republican House leaders rejected the 9-11 Commission's bill on intelligence reform. Eighty percent of Americans want the intelligence reforms, and our safety is directly at stake. But hey, we're just chopped liver: The reforms would take power away from the Pentagon. And as we all know, we just can't have that.

* The Senate voted 65 to 30 to set funds aside for a special category of "priorities," including a new presidential yacht.

* It's really fascinating to watch the Republican slime machine at work on Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle. Earle is one of the longest-serving district attorneys in the entire country. His constituents have been re-electing him since 1976. He was one of the first prosecutors in Texas to create a victim assistance program and helped start the Austin Children's Advocacy Center to help abused kids.

He's pretty much a local hero around here, and no D.A. gets that way by being "soft on crime." Earle is death penalty advocate. He is also noted for going after corrupt Democratic politicians in this state, even though he's a Democrat himself. He was willing not only to take on the slam-dunk cases, but also some tough ones just to remind everybody that the law is to be obeyed.

Earle is such a careful craftsman of prosecution that Time magazine selected him as their main example for a major 2003 article to explain how DAs like Earle might bring some resolution to the death penalty debate. Earle has experienced both the good and bad of the death penalty – consequently, he has a special review procedure for cases on which his office seeks capital punishment.

He is widely admired among his peers, and his innovations are often copied. This is the guy the Republicans are blithely dismissing as a "crackpot." Since Earle has been in office almost 30 years and has a fine national reputation, it's ludicrous to dismiss him as a "runaway district attorney." Does anyone at Fox News ever do any research?

* As though things on the legislative side weren't bad enough, Bush and Cheney are moving to make the executive branch all-powerful. You can already see several of the unfortunate characteristics of the first term being intensified in the second. The emphasis on secrecy is already more pronounced, as is the selection of people for loyalty rather than competence.

But we have to save some room for when it gets worse, so I'd like wish absolutely everybody, including the Bush administration, a swell Thanksgiving.

24 November 2004

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

I want to wish everyone a Happy, Safe and Fat Thanksgiving! Please be careful out there; remember the goal of every journey is to arrive at the destination alive and intact. Also, please don't forget the less fortunate during the holidays, to share and to give is to be truely thankful.

Please lend a Prayer for our troops and their Families...

Walk in Beauty

The Other Side of the Story...

This is a most interesting development in this tragic story...


Hunter Tells Police He Was Threatened

T. PAUL, Nov. 23 - The Hmong-American man being held
in the killings of six hunters and the wounding of two
others in Wisconsin has told the police that he opened
fire after the hunters had cursed him with racial
epithets and that one of them had shot at him.

The man, Chai Soua Vang, made the statement on Monday
in an interview with police investigators. It was
filed on Tuesday as a court document in Hayward, Wis.,
and it is the first sign of a motive in the case.

Investigators have said the shootings occurred on
Sunday after the hunters came upon Mr. Vang in their
hunting platform on private property in the North
Woods, south of a small town, Meteor. They said just
one gun was found at the scene.

According to the statement, Mr. Vang said several
hunters surrounded him, swore at him and threatened
him after he had climbed down from the platform. He
said that after he had walked about 20 yards from the
hunters, he turned and saw one of them point a rifle
at him.

"Vang immediately dropped to a crouch position, and
the subject shot at Vang," the report said,
summarizing his account. "The bullet hit the ground 30
to 40 feet behind Vang."

"Vang shot two times at the man with the rifle, and
the man dropped to the ground," the report said.

It did not give an explanation why the other victims,
some of whom had raced to the scene in an all-terrain
vehicle, were shot.

The statement said that as Mr. Vang looked down the
trail and saw that a hunter was still standing he
yelled, "You're not dead yet?" and shot again.

No lawyer accompanied Mr. Vang when he made the
statements. The report says he waived his right to
have one present.

Five hunters were killed, and a sixth, Dennis Drew,
died late Monday. Two others were wounded. On Tuesday,
a judge found probable cause to hold Mr. Vang for
trial on six counts of homicide and two counts of
attempted homicide. He set bail at $2.5 million.

Mr. Vang, 36, is a Hmong refugee from Laos who came to
the United States in 1980. He was a truck driver and
lived in St. Paul, a center of the Hmong-American
community. WCCO-TV in Minneapolis reported he was
trained as a sharpshooter in the California National

After the incident, fear has surged in the Hmong
community, where police cars stood in front of some
Hmong-owned businesses on Tuesday.

"This is a bad thing for us," a Hmong shopkeeper said.
"I'm a hunter, and I'm afraid to go up there now.
There might be guys who think they should take

People walking and shopping on University Avenue and
other streets in the Hmong community were eager to
talk about the tragedy. Few, however, would give their

"You don't know what could happen, not now," a clerk
at the counter of the Wung Lee grocery store said.

The clerk, who had not heard news of Mr. Vang's
statement, said he was convinced that the whole story
behind the shootings had not been told.

"There has to be something else," he said. "Hmong
people don't go out and shoot people. That's not our
nature. We do what we're supposed to do. We don't
cause problems."

A group of prominent Hmong-Americans, eager to
distance their community from the killings and avert a
possible backlash, held a news conference here on
Tuesday. "We stand before you as representatives of
the greater law-abiding Hmong community to
unconditionally - unconditionally - condemn these
atrocities," a spokesman, Cha Vang, said. "What
happened in Wisconsin is in no way representative of
the Hmong people and what they stand for."

Cha Vang is a son of Gen. Vang Pao, probably the
best-known Hmong in the United States. General Vang
Pao commanded the Hmong "secret army" that the Central
Intelligence Agency assembled to fight Communism in
Southeast Asia in the 1960's and 70's.

St. Paul has about 25,000 Hmong, and many enjoy
hunting. By their own accounts, more than a few have
had clashes with whites whose paths they have crossed
in the North Woods.

"They treat you bad," said Ying Vang, executive
director of a Hmong community center. He said whites
hurled racial insults at Hmong-American hunters.

"You don't hear that on the streets of St. Paul," Mr.
Vang said. "But in hunting areas, it's different. It
has happened to me, and also to my father and my

"People are afraid there's going to be some kind of
revenge," said Mr. Vang, who is unrelated to the
suspect. "They're saying things like: 'My father hunts
every year. I think I have to convince him not to go
this year.' No one knows what could happen."

One Hmong-American hunter, Dan Thao, 24, a technician,
said that he would continue hunting, "but I'll be more

"This is going to put everyone more on edge," Mr. Thao

Ilean Her, executive director of the Council on
Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, an advocacy group here,
said she and members of her board had received hate
mail since Sunday.

"Hmong hunters don't know what the laws are, they
shouldn't be hunting, you don't belong in this
country, go back home, this suspect should be killed
because he's guilty," she said, summarizing the
content of messages she has received.

Ms. Her said although Hmong live peacefully in St.
Paul, they have felt tense hunting in rural areas. She
said she had heard of fights between Hmong and white

"The community would say they always knew that
something like this would happen," she said. "They're
shocked that it happened. But at the same time you're
kind of not that surprised."

The publisher of The Hmong Times, a biweekly, Cheu
Lee, said readers were calling him.

"The Hmong community is afraid that Caucasians will
think we are all shooters," Mr. Lee said. "People are
calling to tell me, 'If you write something, write
that we are not all bad.' "

Have We Been Hacked?

Methinks something smelleth quite afoul in Florida...



By Alan Waldman
Published 11/18/04
Editor's note: This is a corrected version of this story. A section on votes exceeding the number of registered voters in 47 Florida counties has been removed because it could not be substantiated.

Despite mainstream media attempts to kill the story, talk radio and the Internet are abuzz with suggestions that John Kerry was elected president on Nov. 2 – but Republican election officials made it difficult for millions of Democrats to vote while employees of four secretive, GOP-bankrolled corporations rigged electronic voting machines and then hacked central tabulating computers to steal the election for George W. Bush.

The Bush administration's "fix" of the 2000 election debacle (the Help America Vote Act) made crooked elections considerably easier, by foisting paperless electronic voting on states before the bugs had been worked out or meaningful safeguards could be installed.

Crying foul this time around isn't just the province of whiny Democrats. Consider that The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that "Verified Voting, a group formed by a Stanford University professor to assess electronic voting, has collected 31,000 reports of election fraud and other problems."

University of Pennsylvania researcher Dr. Steven Freeman, in his November 2004 paper "The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy," says that the odds that the discrepancies between predicted [exit poll] results and actual vote counts in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania could have been due to chance or random error are 250 million to 1. "Systematic fraud or mistabulation is a premature conclusion," writes Freeman, "but the election's unexplained exit poll discrepancies make it an unavoidable hypothesis, one that is the responsibility of the media, academia, polling agencies, and the public to investigate." Unlike Europe, where citizens count the ballots, in the United States employees of a highly secretive Republican-leaning company, ES&S, managed every aspect of the 2004 election. That included everything from registering voters, printing ballots and programming voting machines to tabulating votes (often with armed guards keeping the media and members of the public who wished to witness the count at bay) and reporting the results, for 60 million voters in 47 states, according to Christopher Bollyn, writing in American Free Press. Most other votes were counted by three other firms that are snugly in bed with the GOP.

This election is not the first suspicious venture into electronic voting. In Georgia, in November 2002, Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes led by 11 percent and Democratic Sen. Max Cleland was in front by 5 percent just before the election – the first ever conducted entirely on touch-screen electronic machines, and counted entirely by company employees, rather than public officials – but mysterious election-day swings of 16 percent and 12 percent defeated both of these popular incumbents. In Minnesota, Democrat Walter Mondale (replacing beloved Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash), lost in an amazing last-moment 11 percent vote swing recorded on electronic machines. Then, in 2003, what's known as "black box voting" helped Arnold Schwarzenegger – who had deeply offended female, Latino and Jewish voters – defeat a popular Latino Democrat who substantially led in polls a week before the election.


Realizing that the 2004 election results are suspect, many prominent people and groups have begun to demand action. Recently, six important Congressmen, including three on the House Judiciary Committee, asked the U.S. Comptroller General to investigate the efficacy of new electronic voting devices.

Black Box Voting – the nonprofit group which spearheaded much of the pre-election testing (and subsequent criticism) of electronic machines that found them hackable in 90 seconds – is filing the largest Freedom of Information Act inquiry in U.S. history. The organization's Bev Harris claims, "Fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines."

Florida Democratic congressional candidate Jeff Fisher charged that he has and will show the FBI evidence that Florida results were hacked; he also claims to have knowledge of who hacked it – in 2004 and in the 2002 Democratic primary (so Jeb Bush would not have to run against the popular Janet Reno). Fisher also believes that most Democratic candidates nationwide were harmed by GOP hacking and other dirty tactics – particularly in swing states.

The Green and Libertarian Parties, as well as Ralph Nader, are demanding an Ohio recount, because of voting fraud, suppression and disenfranchisement. Recounts are also being sought in New Hampshire, Nevada and Washington.

Although the Internet is full of stories of election fraud, and major media in England, Canada and elsewhere have investigated the story, you'll find almost nothing in the major U.S. media. "I have been told by sources that are fairly high up in the media – particularly TV – that there is now a lockdown on this story," says Harris. "It's officially 'Let's move on' time."

On Nov. 6, Project Censored Award-winning author Thom Hartmann said, "So far, the only national 'mainstream' media outlet to come close to this story was Keith Olbermann, when he noted that it was curious that all the voting machine irregularities so far uncovered seemed to favor Bush. In the meantime, the Washington Post and other media are now going through single-bullet-theory-like contortions to explain how the exit polls had failed."


Votes collected by electronic machines (and by optical scan equipment that reads traditional paper ballots) are sent via modem to a central tabulating computer, which counts the votes on Windows software. Therefore, anyone who knows how to operate an Excel spreadsheet and who is given access to the central tabulation machine can, in theory, change election totals.

On a CNBC cable TV program, Black Box Voting exec Harris showed guest host Howard Dean how to alter vote totals within 90 seconds, by entering a two-digit code in a hidden program on Diebold's election software. Harris declared, "This is not a 'bug' or accidental oversight; it is there on purpose."

A quartet of companies control the U.S. vote count. Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and SAIC are all hard-wired into the Bush campaign and power structure. Diebold chief Walden O'Dell is a top Bush fund-raiser. According to "online anarchist community" Infoshop.org, "At Diebold, the election division is run by Bob Urosevich. Bob's brother, Todd, is a top executive at 'rival' ES&S. The brothers were originally staked by Howard Ahmanson, a member of the Council For National Policy, a right-wing steering group stacked with Bush true believers. Ahmanson is also one of the bagmen behind the extremist Christian Reconstruction Movement, which advocates the theocratic takeover of American democracy." Sequoia is owned by a partner member of the Carlyle Group, which is believed to have dictated foreign policy in both Bush administrations and has employed former President Bush for quite a while.

All early Tuesday indicators predicted a Kerry landslide. Zogby International (which predicted the 2000 outcome more accurately than any national pollster) did exit polling which predicted a 100-electoral vote triumph for Kerry. He saw Kerry winning crucial Ohio by 4 percent.

Princeton professor Sam Wang, whose meta-analysis had shown the election to be close in the week before the election, began coming up with dramatic numbers for Kerry in the day before and day of the election. At noon EST on Monday, Nov. 1, he predicted a Kerry win by a 108-vote margin.

In the Iowa Electronic Markets, where "investors" put their money where their mouths are and wager real moolah on election outcome "contracts," Bush led consistently for months before the election – often by as much as 60 percent to 39 percent. But at 7 p.m. CST on Nov. 2, 76.6 percent of the last hour's traders had gone to Kerry, with only 20.1 percent plunking their bucks down on Bush. They knew something.

As the first election returns came in, broadcasters were shocked to see that seemingly safe Bush states like Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina were being judged as "too close to call." At 7:28 EST, networks broadcast that Ohio and Florida favored Kerry by 51 percent to 49 percent.

In his research paper, Steven Freeman reports that exit polls showed Kerry had been elected. He was leading in nearly every battleground state, in many cases by sizable margins. But later, in 10 of 11 battleground states, the tallied margins differed from the predicted margins – and in every one the shift favored Bush.

In 10 states where there were verifiable paper trails – or no electronic machines – the final results hardly differed from the initial exit polls. In non-paper-trail states, however, there were significant differences. Florida saw a shift from Kerry up by 1 percent in the exit polls to Bush up by 5 percent at close of voting. In Ohio, Kerry went from up 3 percent to down 3 percent. Exit polls also had Kerry winning the national popular vote by 3 percent.

In close Senate races, changes between the exit poll results and the final tallies cost Democrats anticipated seats in Kentucky (a 13 percent swing to the GOP), Alaska, North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, South Dakota and possibly Pennsylvania – as well as enough House seats to retake control of the chamber.

Center for Research on Globalization's Michael Keefer states, "The National Election Pool's own data – as transmitted by CNN on the evening of November 2 and the morning of November 3 – suggest very strongly that the results of the exit polls were themselves fiddled late on November 2 in order to make their numbers conform with the tabulated vote tallies."

How do we know the fix was in? Keefer says the total number of respondents at 9 p.m. was well over 13,000 and at 1:36 a.m. it had risen less than 3 percent – to 13,531 total respondents. Given the small increase in respondents, this 5 percent swing to Bush is mathematically impossible. In Florida, at 8:40 p.m., exit polls showed a near dead heat but the final exit poll update at 1:01 a.m. gave Bush a 4 percent lead. This swing was mathematically impossible, because there were only 16 more respondents in the final tally than in the earlier one.


Kathy Dopp's eye-opening examination of Florida's county-by-county record of votes cast and people registered by party affiliation (http://ustogether.org/Florida_Election.htm) suggests systematic and widespread election fraud in 47 of the state's 67 counties. This did not occur so much in the touch-screen counties, where public scrutiny would naturally be focused, but in counties where optically screened paper ballots were fed into a central tabulator PC, which is highly vulnerable to hacking. In these optical-scan counties, had GOP registrants voted Republican, Democratic registrants gone for Kerry and everyone registered showed up to vote, Bush would have received 1,337,242 votes. Instead, his reported vote total there was 1,950,213! That discrepancy (612,971) is nearly double Bush's winning margin in the state (380,952).

Colin Shea, writing on Freezer Box.com, double-checked Dopp's figures and confirmed that optical-scan counties gave Bush 16 percent more votes than he should have gotten. "This 16 percent would not be strange if it were spread across counties more or less evenly," Shea explains, but it is not. In 11 different counties, the "actual" Bush tallies were 50-100 percent higher than expected. In one county, where 88 percent of voters are registered Democrats, Bush got nearly two-thirds of the vote – three times more than predicted by his statistical model.

There were thousands of complaints about Florida voting. Broward County electronic voting machines counted up to 32,500 and then started counting backward. This glitch, which existed in the 2002 election but was never fixed, overturned the exit-poll-predicted results of a gambling referendum. In several Florida counties, early-morning voters reported ballot boxes that already had an unusually large quantity of ballots in them. In Florida and five other states, according to Canada's Globe and Mail, "the wrong candidate appeared on their touch-screen machine's checkout screen" after the person had voted.

Republicans have argued that the Florida counties with majority Democratic registration that voted overwhelmingly for Bush were all conservative "Dixiecrat" bastions in northern Florida, and that all the reported totals were accurate. But Olbermann demonstrated that many of these crossover states voted Republican for the first time. He poked another hole in the Dixiecrat theory when he noted that in Democratic counties where Bush scored big, people also supported highly Democratic measures – such as raising the state minimum wage $1 above the federal level.

Moreover, 18 switchover counties were not in the Panhandle or near the Georgia border, but were scattered throughout the state. For instance, Hardee County (between Bradenton and Sebring) registered 63.8 percent Democratic but officially gave Bush 135 percent more votes than Kerry.


Voters Unite! detailed 303 specific election problems, including 84 complaints of machine malfunctions in 22 states, 24 cases of registration fraud in 14 states, 20 abusive voter challenge situations in 10 states, U.S. voters in 18 states and Israel experiencing absentee ballot difficulties, 10 states with provisional ballot woes, 22 cases of malfeasance in 13 states, 10 charges of voter intimidation in seven states, seven states where votes were suppressed, seven states witnessing outbreaks of animosity at the polls, six states suffering from ballot printing errors and seven instances in four states where votes were changed on-screen. In addition, the Voters Unite! website cites four states with early voting troubles, three states undergoing ballot programming errors, three states demonstrating ballot secrecy violations, bogus ballot fraud in New Mexico and double-voting for Bush in Texas.

Kerry's victory was predicted by previously extremely accurate Harris and Zogby exit polls, by the formerly infallible 50 percent rule (an incumbent with less than 50 percent in the exit polls always loses; Bush had 47 percent – requiring him to capture an improbable 80 percent of the undecideds to win) and by the Incumbent Rule (undecideds break for the challenger, as exit polls showed they did by a large margin this time).

Nor is it credible that the surge in new young voters (who were witnessed standing in lines for hours, on campuses nationwide) miraculously didn't appear in the final totals; that Kerry did worse than Gore against an opponent who lost support; and that exit polls were highly accurate wherever there was a paper trail and grossly underestimated Bush's appeal wherever there was no such guarantee of accurate recounts. Statisticians point out that Bush beat 99 to 1 mathematical odds in winning the election.

Election results are not final until electors vote on Dec. 12. There is still time to find the truth.

Alan Waldman is an award-winning journalist who lives in Los Angeles. He voted for John Kerry and Barbara Boxer.

Freedom of the Press?

If you still think that we have a free press in this country, you really need to read this story...


Society of Professional Journalists Supports Journalist's Decision to Keep Source Confidential

Tue Nov 23 09:23:53 2004 Pacific Time

       INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 23 (AScribe Newswire) -- The Society of Professional Journalists supports television reporter Jim Taricani in his decision not to identify a confidential source. Taricani, a reporter at WJAR-TV in Providence, R.I., was recently convicted for refusing to name the tipster who gave him a videotape from an FBI investigation of Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr.

       "I believe Taricani did the right thing by keeping his promise to his confidential source," said Emily Sweeney, president of SPJ's New England Chapter. "In order for news organizations to maintain freedom, independence and fairness, reporters and editors, in principle, must not bow to pressures from outside groups, whether it be a private business or a government agency."

       Taricani now faces up to six months in jail, after a federal judge found him guilty of criminal contempt. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 9.

       Charles N. Davis, executive director of the Freedom of Information Center and co-chair of SPJ's Freedom of Information Committee, said the criminal charge against Taricani "flies in the face of a free press."

       "We silence confidentiality at our peril. So many stories of critical importance will never see the light of day if our legal system fails to recognize the unique role of the news media in the discovery of truth," said Davis.

       The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Radio-Television News Directors Association & Foundation also have issued statements supporting Taricani.

       "Jim Taricani is a very well-respected, experienced television reporter," said Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director of the Reporters Committee. "We know this has been a difficult decision for him, and we respect his determination to uphold a fundamental principle of journalism."

       Punishing a journalist for following a story on public corruption is an affront to the First Amendment protections that allow the news media to act as a watchdog on those who wield power, said Dalglish.

       "If journalists are not able to protect their sources, the public will ultimately suffer because fewer people will be willing to come forward with information about public affairs out of fear of retaliation," Dalglish said.

       - - - -

       CONTACT: Emily Sweeney, New England Chapter President, esweeney@globe.com, 617-967-7561

       ABOUT SPJ: The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

23 November 2004

We Have Always Been At War With...

This reminds me of Orwell's "1984"


America Has Always Been At War
By Ash Pulcifer
YellowTimes.org Columnist (US)

(YellowTimes.org) - Americans fail to realize that, for the last 50 years, their country has been at constant war. Since World War II, the American government has been pressuring countries across the globe to join the economic system of free trade capitalism. Until the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. was in constant competition with the economic system of the Russians. This competition resulted in perpetual conflict; both the U.S. and the Soviets wrestled for control of countries around the world. This often meant that the U.S., despite its outspoken belief in democracy, often orchestrated coup d'etats against democratically elected leaders only to further U.S. influence and weaken the power of the Soviet Union.
As can be seen in William Blum's Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, subsequent U.S. administrations from 1945 onward have been quite busy at shaping the world. In his book, Blum accounts for 55 cases of U.S. military or CIA involvement in only 49 years.
Each of these U.S. involvements has generated animosity toward the United States; each conflict had losing members of the society who were put into a worse position after the U.S. involvement. Many times, those who the U.S. tried to crush - either through economic strangling or brute force - developed hatred toward the often hypocritical tendencies of the United States.
While on the one hand the U.S. was proclaiming its support of democracy, it was also secretly plotting military insurrections in order to set up dictatorships that would toe the U.S. economic line. Such hypocrisy is evident when looking back through recent history - previous U.S. administrations overthrew democratically elected leaders in such countries as Iran, Chile and Guatemala, replacing them with dictators. Even in April of 2002, the Bush administration expressed approval when democratically elected Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was ousted from power in a military coup.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, many hoped that these overt interventions had come to an end. After all, was there still a need to have such a direct influence throughout the world? Now that the Soviet's economic system of communism had been discredited, there was no need to compete. Or so the thinking went.
A change of foreign policy certainly did occur; there was less emphasis on direct military intervention and more emphasis on economic pressure in order manipulate governments. Countries struggling to rise above the poverty level could no longer secure large payouts from the Soviet Union; their only hope was to look to international lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. These organizations are always ready to dole out loans to poor countries.
These loans, however, have strings attached, and poor countries have to follow strict free trade guidelines that often cause much financial harm. If they dare to stray away from this preset course, economic pressure quickly puts them back in line.
Despite what many of these market analysts thought, the days of military conflict were not over. One of these disenfranchised groups, which resisted the ever increasing U.S. influence throughout the world, were able to deal a devastating blow to the leader of this economic and military force: the United States. That took place on September 11, 2001. They chose to attack the greatest economic symbol of the "free world" along with the military might that protects the world economy.
Therefore, it is important for Americans to understand that for the past fifty years, their government has been in a state of perpetual war. Just because these wars don't involve large numbers of U.S. troops doesn't mean that they are not very real for those in the war zones. In many of these conflicts since World War II, the U.S. government directly or indirectly killed many innocents; these facts are often glossed over by the American government and the mainstream media. It is these facts to which Americans must pay attention in order to understand the harsh resentment that many people hold toward the United States.
This lack of attention toward those killed by the U.S. can be seen as recent as the Afghanistan intervention. The U.S. government has shown absolutely no interest in finding out how many Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. bombs. The American media has remained utterly uninterested in this aspect of the war. Shouldn't the American people know at least an estimate of how many innocent civilians, people who were just as innocent as those in the World Trade Center, were made "collateral damage" by the U.S. government? Such knowledge might help Americans understand why their government, along with the institutions that support it, is under attack.
[Ash Pulcifer, a lifelong activist for international human rights, lives in the United States. Ash finds it unacceptable that the world often turns its back to those less fortunate members of our species who are forced to endure poverty and civil strife.]
Ash Pulcifer encourages your comments: apulcifer@YellowTimes.org
YellowTimes.org is an international news and opinion publication. YellowTimes.org encourages its material to be reproduced, reprinted, or broadcast provided that any such reproduction identifies the original source, http://www.YellowTimes.org. Internet web links to http://www.YellowTimes.org are appreciated.


Big Brother on Your Desktop?

Makes you wonder where else (and what else) they are hiding...


Government Uses Color Laser Printer Technology to Track Documents
Practice embeds hidden, traceable data in every page printed.

Jason Tuohey, Medill News Service
Monday, November 22, 2004

WASHINGTON--Next time you make a printout from your color laser printer, shine an LED flashlight beam on it and examine it closely with a magnifying glass. You might be able to see the small, scattered yellow dots printed there that could be used to trace the document back to you.

According to experts, several printer companies quietly encode the serial number and the manufacturing code of their color laser printers and color copiers on every document those machines produce. Governments, including the United States, already use the hidden markings to track counterfeiters.

Peter Crean, a senior research fellow at Xerox, says his company's laser printers, copiers and multifunction workstations, such as its WorkCentre Pro series, put the "serial number of each machine coded in little yellow dots" in every printout. The millimeter-sized dots appear about every inch on a page, nestled within the printed words and margins.

"It's a trail back to you, like a license plate," Crean says.

The dots' minuscule size, covering less than one-thousandth of the page, along with their color combination of yellow on white, makes them invisible to the naked eye, Crean says. One way to determine if your color laser is applying this tracking process is to shine a blue LED light--say, from a keychain laser flashlight--on your page and use a magnifier.

Crime Fighting vs. Privacy

Laser-printing technology makes it incredibly easy to counterfeit money and documents, and Crean says the dots, in use in some printers for decades, allow law enforcement to identify and track down counterfeiters.

However, they could also be employed to track a document back to any person or business that printed it. Although the technology has existed for a long time, printer companies have not been required to notify customers of the feature.

Lorelei Pagano, a counterfeiting specialist with the U.S. Secret Service, stresses that the government uses the embedded serial numbers only when alerted to a forgery. "The only time any information is gained from these documents is purely in [the case of] a criminal act," she says.

John Morris, a lawyer for The Center for Democracy and Technology , says, "That type of assurance doesn't really assure me at all, unless there's some type of statute." He adds, "At a bare minimum, there needs to be a notice to consumers."

If the practice disturbs you, don't bother trying to disable the encoding mechanism--you'll probably just break your printer.

Crean describes the device as a chip located "way in the machine, right near the laser" that embeds the dots when the document "is about 20 billionths of a second" from printing.

"Standard mischief won't get you around it," Crean adds.

Neither Crean nor Pagano has an estimate of how many laser printers, copiers, and multifunction devices track documents, but they say that the practice is commonplace among major printer companies.

"The industry absolutely has been extraordinarily helpful [to law enforcement]," Pagano says.

According to Pagano, counterfeiting cases are brought to the Secret Service, which checks the documents, determines the brand and serial number of the printer, and contacts the company. Some, like Xerox, have a customer database, and they share the information with the government.

Crean says Xerox and the government have a good relationship. "The U.S. government had been on board all along--they would actually come out to our labs," Crean says.


Unlike ink jet printers, laser printers, fax machines, and copiers fire a laser through a mirror and series of lenses to embed the document or image on a page. Such devices range from a little over $100 to more than $1000, and are designed for both home and office.

Crean says Xerox pioneered this technology about 20 years ago, to assuage fears that their color copiers could easily be used to counterfeit bills.

"We developed the first (encoding mechanism) in house because several countries had expressed concern about allowing us to sell the printers in their country," Crean says.

Since then, he says, many other companies have adopted the practice.

The United States is not the only country teaming with private industry to fight counterfeiters. A recent article points to the Dutch government as using similar anticounterfeiting methods, and cites Canon as a company with encoding technology. Canon USA declined to comment.

What DID He Say?

A most interesting read indeed...


Tim Giago: What was the message of Osama bin Laden?
Notes from Indian Country
Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji) 11/22/2004

He appeared on television screens across America a few days before the presidential election of 2004.
Osama bin Laden, looking healthy, wealthy and wise, was determined to send a message to the American people. What was that message?
The initial reaction by the political pundits was one of outrage. How dare this murderer try to influence this election. How dare this terrorist try to communicate with us.
CIA and FBI analysts retired to their cubicles to dissect and interpret the message of bin Laden.
The popular interpretation is that bin Laden was attempting to influence the election by pointing out some of the more salient points of the George W. Bush administration while not disparaging his opponent, John Kerry.
Setting aside the interpretations of the government spooks and satirists, perhaps his message becomes more clear if it is seen through the eyes of a people who have lived in a country that has been occupied by a foreign power; the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere.
In a recent speech, Wilma Mankiller, the former leader of the Cherokee Nation said, "As a people, we can empathize with the people of Iraq because they are experiencing many of the things we experienced as a people." Mankiller was expressing her views of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the efforts of one nation to impose its political views upon that of another.
What bin Laden said was that it didn’t matter who was elected president, Bush or Kerry, because in the long run what happened in the relations between America and the Muslim nations was up to the people. In a democracy it is supposed to be the people who rule, not the people they elect..
Osama bin Laden attempted to explain why 9/11 happened and suggested that something akin to it can and will happen again if the people of America do not find new ways to deal with the Muslim nations.
Unbridled hate can blind great nations. We can find it in our own history. After the elite troops of the Seventh Cavalry were decimated at the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn) in 1876, there developed a seething hatred by the troopers of the Seventh Cavalry toward the people of the Great Sioux Nation. That hatred simmered for 14 years until that winter day of December 29, 1890 when unforgiving soldiers of the Seventh Cavalry unleashed their hatred upon the innocent Lakota men, woman and children at Wounded Knee.
There is an analogy here that goes far beyond the simplistic ranting of political pundits. When and how did this hatred by so many people of the Muslim faith become so overwhelming that it led to the horrific events of September 11? We now know that it was not the doings of a few fundamentalist fanatics.
The celebrations in the streets of the Muslim nations after 9/11 should have given us pause to reflect upon the foreign policies of America.
There is a perverse dichotomy in play here in that Osama bin Laden can assume the role of the hate-filled Seventh Cavalry or that of the oppressed member of an occupied nation. In the aftermath of historic occurrences, he is probably both.
I may be pilloried for suggesting that Osama bin Laden was actually offering a solution to an unsolvable problem, but I, and many other indigenous people, believe it to be so. Perhaps there was not a hidden message there, but suppose he was suggesting a solution? Was he asking the American people to communicate with the Muslim people one on one, people to people?
A war goes on in Iraq and people are dying. Saddam Hussein was a dictator of the worst order and people died needlessly under his regime. But was the United States justified in attacking a nation and killing thousands upon thousands of innocent Muslims in order to set them free? When the Shiite rebelled shortly after the first Gulf War, America had a chance to fell Saddam with the support of the majority of Muslims but did nothing to support the Shiites.
It should be noted that many of the graves discovered by the Americans after the second invasion contained the bodies of those Shiites who rebelled against Saddam. Without the support of America or the coalition forces the Shiites were slaughtered by the thousands. The rebellion was squelched.
Osama bin Laden is looked upon as that beast with the blood of 3,000 people on his hands. Any utterance from him is deemed contemptible. But I believe that all Americans are tired of living under the threat of more terror. Is this a permanent condition or one with a cure?
In the supposed civilized world of 2004 surely men and women of intelligence, compassion and forgiveness can come together with those who would threaten our very existence and find solutions. I know that you can’t negotiate with terrorists, but why is America their target?
America became a great nation by slaughtering and terrorizing its indigenous people. After more than 500 years of terrorism, the indigenous people saw their way to forgive. The first step on the road to forgiveness was communication. Without dialogue there are no solutions.
If the message from Osama bin Laden is that we must find new ways to communicate in order to prevent future acts of terrorism, should we listen to that message?
Oftentimes the solutions to the most complex of problems are found in the most simple of messages. An old Mohawk saying goes, "You cannot see the future with tears in your eyes." The same may be said of hatred.
(Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is the author of The Aboriginal Sin, published by the Indian Historian Press, Inc. in 1978. He can be reached at giagobooks@iw.net)
Reprinted under Fair Use http://nativenewsonline.org/fairuse.htm
Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)
Native News Online a Service of Barefoot Connection

22 November 2004

Can You Feel the Draft...?

Hmmm! What happened to that oft repeated campaign promise?


Government Looking at Military Draft Lists

The Monitor

McALLEN, November 15, 2004 — It's taken one year, seven months and 19 days of combat in Iraq for the Lone Star State to lose 100 of its own.

Texas is the second state, after California, to lose 100 service
members, according to The Associated Press.

With continuing war in Iraq and U.S. armed forces dispersed to so many other locations around the globe, Americans may be wondering if
compulsory military service could begin again for the first time since
the Vietnam War era.

The Selective Service System (SSS) and the U.S. Department of
Education now are gearing up to compare their computer records, to
make sure all men between the ages of 18 and 25 who are required to
register for a military draft have done so.

The SSS and the education department will begin comparing their lists
on Jan. 1, 2005, according to a memo authored by Jack Martin, acting
Selective Service director.

While similar record checks have been done periodically for the past
10 years, Martin's memo is dated Oct. 28, just a few days before the
Nov. 2 presidential election, a hard-fought campaign in which the
question of whether the nation might need to reinstate a military
draft was raised in debates and on the stump.

It took several more days, until Nov. 4, for the document to reach the
Federal Register, the official daily publication for rules and notices
of federal agencies and organizations.

The memo was also produced after the U.S. House voted 402-2 on Oct. 5,
against House Resolution 163, a bill that would have required all
young people, including women, to serve two years of military service.

Under federal law, a military draft cannot be started without
congressional support.

About 94 percent of all men are properly registered for a draft,
according to Richard Flahavan, associate director of the office of
public and intergovernmental affairs for SSS.

Martin's memo is just a routine thing, Flahavan said.

"Back in 1982 a federal law was passed that basically linked federal
grants, student loans and federal assistance to students with
Selective Service," Flahavan said. "You had to register with Selective
Service with a Social Security number (in order to receive federal
assistance), and as a consequence of the law the Department of
Education came up with an agreement on how to exchange and compare data to comply with the law.

"It just so happens that the current agreement in effect expires next
month," Flahavan said. "All we did is update the agreement slightly,
but it has no substantive changes. There is nothing new or shocking to
link this to some type of draft right around the corner because its
all been in place for almost 18 years."

Flahavan said the written agreements between SSS and the Department of Education normally run for about four or five years and suggested that a reporter search the 1999 or 2000 records of the Federal Register for the most agreement.

A search of the Federal Register by The Monitor found four such
agreements between the two agencies, with effective dates as follows: Jan. 1, 1995; July 1, 1997; Jan. 1, 2000; and July 1, 2002.

All four agreements lasted for 18 months, during which time the SSS
and the Department of Education could complete their comparisons.

The most recent agreement, which began July 1, 2002, actually expired
Jan. 1, 2004, according to federal records located by The Monitor.

"This has nothing to with current events," Flahavan said. "This is
just the periodic renewal of previous agreements — this one is 18
months but normally it runs four years and that's why we're doing it
now. I'm not quite sure why it's 18 months versus the normal number of years."

Flahavan said the agency was required to place the agreement in the
Federal Register.

"That's fine and we did," Flahavan said. "We believe the public
wouldn't stand for a draft that isn't fair and equitable.

"And the only way to be fair and equitable is if everyone who should
register is registered, because that's the pool from which the people
who would be drafted would be selected from. So you want everyone who should be in the pot in the pot," Flahavan said.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, who officially begins representing
western Hidalgo County residents in January, said Congress has voted
on record against a draft.

"It was a near unanimous vote in the House," Doggett said. "When
things are filed in the Federal Register, there will be standards, and
they are a reminder that if we cannot get more international
participation that the risk of a draft remains out there.

"And I think we do need people to remain watchful of this

Doggett said one type of "draft" was already being used by the

"I'm concerned that a very real form of the draft is there now for
those already in the service," Doggett said. "People are being forced
to stay in beyond their commitment, and that's an indication of being

"I want us to pursue policies that don't overextend us and involve
more international participation, so that Americans don't have to do
all the dying and endure all the pain for these international
activities," Doggett said.

Flahavan said the computer records check would help Selective Service
with its compliance rates.

"From 1999 to 2000, it was dropping about a percent a year," Flahavan said. "It's now inching back up about a percent a year. Last year it was 93 percent.

"At the end of 2004 we anticipate about a 94 percent compliance rate," Flahavan said. "We're pleased we've got it back on the rise and that's where we want to keep it — that's our goal."

Draft Gear Up?
Who Has To Register?
All male U.S. citizens and male aliens living in the U.S. between the
ages of 18 and 25 Dual nationals of the U.S. and another country, regardless of where they live.

Young men who are in prison or mental institutions do not have to regsiter while they are committed, but must do so if they are released and not reached age 26.

Disabled men who live at home and can move about indiependently.

Contrary to popular belief, only sons and the last son to carry a
family name must register and they can be drafted.

What Happens In A Draft
Congress would likely approve a military draft in a time of crisis, in
which the mission requires more troops than are in the volunteer
military. Selective Service procedures would treat married men or those with children the same as single men. The first men to be called up will be those whose 20th birthday falls during that year, followed by those age 21, 22, 23,24 and 25. The last men to be called are 18 and 19 years of age.

Historical Facts

The last man to be drafted was in June 1973.
Number of Drafted for WWI : 2.8 million
Number of Drafted for WWII: 10 million
Number of Drafted for the Korean War: 1.5 million
Number of Drafted for the Vietnam War: 1.8 million
Source: Selective Service System

Bloody Sunday...

Will we finally hear the Truth...?


Key Questions for Inquiry Judges

It is still unclear which soldiers shot 27 civilians on Bloody Sunday, the Saville Inquiry has heard.

Counsel to the inquiry Christopher Clarke QC said the central question was why and how civilians were killed or wounded in Londonderry in 1972.

Lord Saville is investigating the deaths of 14 civilians shot by soldiers during a civil rights march in the city in January that year.

The inquiry is now in its final phase - six years after it began.

Mr Clarke is giving a brief summary of the evidence in a closing speech expected to last two days.

He told the tribunal on Monday: "It has to be said that, even after many days of evidence, the answer to even the first question - who shot them? - is not, on the soldiers' evidence, in any way clear."

Mr Clarke said the tribunal could take one of two views on this.

"One view that the tribunal might take is that this is something that is not surprising if, as they say to be the case, soldiers came under fire from unexpected quarters and had swiftly to retaliate."

'Uncomfortable facts'

The second was that the soldiers, while claiming they hit gunmen and nail bombers, seemed unable to explain why they killed or wounded 27 people who were not involved.

"These considerations may have a cumulative effect. The tribunal may attach some significance to the fact that so much is unexplained," he said.

"It might conclude, taking that fact with all the other evidence, that so much is unexplained because no justifiable explanation could be given.

"On the other hand, it might take the view that uncomfortable facts have been airbrushed out of history and that the situation the soldiers faced was radically different to that of which the civilian evidence speaks."

Mr Clarke's speech is a brief summary of eight to 10 volumes of written material collated after more than four years of evidence-gathering.

It is intended to constitute an overview of the issues for the tribunal to decide and an indication of a range of conclusions the tribunal might reach.

The Bloody Sunday inquiry was established in 1998 by Prime Minister Tony Blair after a campaign by families of those killed and injured.

The inquiry has so far cost £130m and the final bill will be around £150m.

Hundreds of witnesses

BBC Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson said the Bloody Sunday inquiry has been "the longest inquiry in UK legal history".

He said the final report and its conclusions will not be made public until the summer of next year.

More than 900 witnesses have given evidence to the tribunal since Lord Saville of Newdigate and the Commonwealth judges accompanying him on the inquiry began their work in March 2000.

Only when Mr Clarke has finished the closing speech stage of the tribunal will the three inquiry judges sit down to write their report.

The inquiry has heard evidence from leading politicians, including the prime minister at the time, Sir Edward Heath, civilians, policemen, soldiers and IRA members.

The leader of the Official IRA on Bloody Sunday had been due to give evidence on Friday but pulled out through illness.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/11/22 11:34:25 GMT


The People of the First Light...

Ironic how so few Americans really know and understand the history of the People who made the Thanksgiving holiday possible, ennit?


The Wampanoag

The earliest contacts between the Wampanoag and Europeans occurred during the 1500s as fishing and trading vessels roamed the New England coast. Judging from the Wampanoag's later attitude towards the Pilgrims, most of these encounters were friendly. Some, however, were not. European captains were known to increase profits by capturing natives to sell as slaves. Such was the case when Thomas Hunt kidnapped several Wampanoag in 1614 and later sold them in Spain. One of his victims - a Patuxet named Squanto (Tisquantum) - was purchased by Spanish monks who attempted to "civilize" him. Eventually gaining his freedom, Squanto was able to work his way to England (apparently undeterred by his recent experience with Captain Hunt) and signed on as an interpreter for a British expedition to Newfoundland. From there Squanto went back to Massachusetts, only to discover that, in his absence, epidemics had killed everyone in his village. As the last Patuxet, he remained with the other Wampanoag as a kind of ghost.

To Squanto's tragic story must be added a second series of unlikely events. Living in Holland at the time was a small group of English religious dissenters who, because of persecution, had been forced to leave England. Concerned their children were becoming too Dutch and the possibility of a war between Holland and Spain, but still unwelcome in England, these gentle people decided to immigrate to the New World. The Virginia Company agreed to transport them to the mouth of the Hudson River, took their money, and loaded them on two ships (Speedwell and Mayflower) with other English immigrants not of their faith. The little fleet set sail in July only to have the Speedwell spring a leak 300 miles out to sea. Accompanied by the Mayflower, it barely made it back to Plymouth without sinking. Repairs failed to fix the problem, so in September everyone was crammed aboard the Mayflower, and the whole mess sent merrily on its seasick way to the New World.

Landfall occurred near Cape Cod after 65 days and a very rough passage, but strangely enough, the Mayflower's captain, who had managed to cross the Atlantic during hurricane season, suddenly was unable to sail around some shoals and take them farther south. This forced the Pilgrims to find a place to settle in Massachusetts and try to survive a New England winter with few supplies. For the Virginia Company, there was no problem, since in 1620, Great Britain claimed the boundary of Virginia reached as far north as the present border between Maine and New Brunswick. So the Pilgrims were still in Virginia (although perhaps a little farther north than originally promised), but remembering Britain's concern at the time about French settlement in Nova Scotia, the misplacement of the Pilgrims to New England may not have been entirely an accident.

Skipping past the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the first concerns of the new arrivals were finding something to eat and a place to settle. After anchoring off Cape Cod on November 11, 1620, a small party was sent ashore to explore. Pilgrims in every sense of the word, they promptly stumbled into a Nauset graveyard where they found baskets of corn which had been left as gifts for the deceased. The gathering of this unexpected bounty was interrupted by the angry Nauset warriors, and the hapless Pilgrims beat a hasty retreat back to their boat with little to show for their efforts. Shaken but undaunted by their welcome to the New World, the Pilgrims continued across Cape Cod Bay and decided to settle, of all places, at the site of the now-deserted Wampanoag village of Patuxet. There they sat for the next few months in crude shelters - cold, sick and slowly starving to death. Half did not survive that terrible first winter. The Wampanoag were aware of the English but chose to avoid contact them for the time being.

In keeping with the strange sequence of unlikely events, Samoset, a Pemaquid (Abenaki) sachem from Maine hunting in Massachusetts, came across the growing disaster at Plymouth. Having acquired some English from contact with English fishermen and the short-lived colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River in 1607, he walked into Plymouth in March and startled the Pilgrims with "Hello Englishmen." Samoset stayed the night surveying the situation and left the next morning. He soon returned with Squanto. Until he succumbed to sickness and joined his people in 1622, Squanto devoted himself to helping the Pilgrims who were now living at the site of his old village. Whatever his motivations, with great kindness and patience, he taught the English the skills they needed to survive, and in so doing, assured the destruction of his own people.

Although Samoset appears to have been more important in establishing the initial relations, Squanto also served as an intermediary between the Pilgrims and Massasoit, the Grand sachem of the Wampanoag (actual name Woosamaquin or "Yellow Feather"). For the Wampanoag, the ten years previous to the arrival of the Pilgrims had been the worst of times beyond all imagination. Micmac war parties had swept down from the north after they had defeated the Penobscot during the Tarrateen War (1607-15), while at the same time the Pequot had invaded southern New England from the northwest and occupied eastern Connecticut. By far the worst event had been the three epidemics which killed 75% of the Wampanoag. In the aftermath of this disaster, the Narragansett, who had suffered relatively little because of their isolated villages on the islands of Narragansett Bay, had emerged as the most powerful tribe in the area and forced the weakened Wampanoag to pay them tribute.

Massasoit, therefore, had good reason to hope the English could benefit his people and help them end Narragansett domination. In March (1621) Massasoit, accompanied by Samoset, visited Plymouth and signed a treaty of friendship with the English giving them permission of occupy the approximately 12,000 acres of what was to become the Plymouth plantation. However, it is very doubtful Massasoit fully understood the distinction between the European concept of owning land versus the native idea of sharing it. For the moment, this was unimportant since so many of his people had died during the epidemics that New England washalf-deserted. Besides, it must have been difficult for the Wampanoag to imagine how any people so inept could ever be a danger to them. The friendship and cooperation continued, and the Pilgrims were grateful enough that fall to invite Massasoit to celebrate their first harvest with them (The First Thanksgiving). Massasoit and 90 of his men brought five deer, and the feasting lasted for three days. The celebration was a little premature. During the winter of 1622, a second ship arrived unexpectedly from England, and with 40 new mouths to feed, the Pilgrims were once again starving. Forgiving the unfortunate incident in the graveyard the previous year, the Nauset sachem Aspinet brought food to Plymouth.

To the Narragansett all of this friendship between the Wampanoag and English had the appearance of a military alliance directed against them, and in 1621 they sent a challenge of arrows wrapped in a snakeskin to Plymouth. Although they could barely feed themselves and were too few for any war, the English replaced the arrows with gunpowder and returned it. While the Narragansett pondered the meaning of this strange response, they were attacked by the Pequot, and Plymouth narrowly avoided another disaster. The war with the Pequot no sooner ended than the Narragansett were fighting the Mohawk. By the time this ended, Plymouth was firmly established. Meanwhile, the relationship between the Wampanoag and English grew stronger. When Massasoit became dangerously ill during the winter of 1623, he was nursed back to health by the English. By 1632 the Narragansett were finally free to reassert their authority over the Wampanoag. Massasoit's village at Montaup (Sowam) was attacked, but when the colonists supported the Wampanoag, the Narragansett finally were forced to abandon the effort.

After 1630 the original 102 English colonists who founded Plymouth (less than half were actually Pilgrims) were absorbed by the massive migration of the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony near Boston. Barely tolerant of other Christians, the militant Puritans were soldiers and merchants whose basic attitude towards Native Americans was not one of friendship and cooperation. Under this new leadership, the English expanded west into the Connecticut River Valley and during 1637 destroyed the powerful Pequot confederacy which opposed them. Afterwards they entered into an alliance with the Mohegan upsetting the balance of power. By 1643 the Mohegan had defeated the Narragansett in a war, and with the full support of Massachusetts, emerged as the dominant tribe in southern New England. With the French in Canada focused to the west on the fur trade from the Great Lakes, only the alliance of the Dutch and Mohawk in New York stood in their way.

Boston traders had tried unsuccessfully to lure the Mohawk away from the Dutch in 1640 by selling firearms, but the Dutch had countered with their own weapons and in the process dramatically escalated the level of violence in the Beaver Wars which were raging along the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. The barrier fell when the English captured New York from the Dutch in 1664 and signed their own treaty with the Mohawk. Between 1640 to 1675 new waves of settlers arrived in New England and pushed west into native lands. While the Pilgrims usually had paid or asked permission, the Puritans were inclined to take. There was an especially large amount of immigration after 1660 when the Restoration ended the military dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell, and Puritans were in extreme disfavor with the new English monarchy of Charles II. At the same time there had been a fundamental change in New England's economy. After the Mohawk treaty, many of the Boston fur traders left New England and moved west to Albany near the Iroquois. No longer restrained by the possibility of war with the English, the Iroquois fell on the Algonquin in western New England and began driving them east at the same time English settlement was rapidly swallowing lands in the east.

By 1665 Native Americans in southern New England were simply in the way. The English no longer needed their wilderness skills to survive, and fishing and other commerce had largely replaced the fur and wampum trade which had been the mainstays of the colonial economy during the early years. While there was nothing to equal the devastation of 1614-20, the native population had continued to decline from continuing epidemics: 1633, 1635, 1654, 1661 and 1667. The Puritans' "humane" solution to this after 1640 was the missionary work of John Eliot and others to convert the native population. How "humane" these efforts actually were is a matter of opinion. Converts were settled in small communities of "Praying Indians" at Natick, Nonantum, Punkapog, and other locations. Natives even partially resistant to the Puritan version of Christianity were unwelcome. Attendance at church was mandatory, clothing and hair changed to proper colonial styles, and even a hint of traditional ceremony and religion was grounds for expulsion. Tribal culture and authority disintegrated in the process.

Even Massasoit fell in with the adoption of English customs and before his death in 1661, petitioned the General Court at Plymouth to give English names to his two sons. The eldest Wamsutta was renamed Alexander, and his younger brother Metacomet became Philip. Married to Queen Weetamoo of Pocasset, Alexander became grand sachem of the Wampanoag upon the death of his father. The English were not pleased with his independent attitude, and invited him to Plymouth for "talks." After eating a meal in Duxbury, Alexander became violently ill and died. The Wampanoag were told he died of a fever, but the records from the Plymouth Council at the time make note of an expense for poison "to rid ourselves of a pest." The following year Metacomet (Wewesawanit) succeeded his murdered brother as grand sachem of the Wampanoag eventually becoming known to the English as King Philip.

Philip does not appear to have been a man of hate, but under his leadership, the Wampanoag attitude towards the colonists underwent a drastic change. Realizing that the English would not stop until they had taken everything, Philip was determined to prevent further expansion of English settlement, but this was impossible for the Wampanoag by themselves since they were down to only 1,000 people by this time. Travelling from his village at Mount Hope, Philip began to slowly enlist other tribes for this purpose. Even then it was a daunting task, since the colonists in New England by this time outnumbered the natives better than two to one (35,000 versus 15,000). Philip made little attempt to disguise his purpose, and through a network of spies (Praying Indians), the English knew what he was doing. Summoned to Taunton in 1671, Philip listened to accusations and signed an agreement to give up the Wampanoag's firearms. However, he did not stay around for dinner afterwards, and the guns were never surrendered.

As English encroachment continued, Philip eventually won promises of support from the Nipmuc, Pocumtuc and Narragansett. Because the Narragansett needed time to build a supply of ammunition and guns, it appears the uprising was planned for the spring of 1676. Meanwhile, the English saw what was coming, and the tension was becoming unbearable. In January, 1675 the body of John Sassamon, a Christian Indian informer, was discovered in the ice of Assowampset Pond. Three Wampanoag warriors were arrested, tried for the murder, and hanged. After this provocation, Philip could no longer restrain his warriors, and amid rumors the English intended to arrest him, Philip held a council of war at Mount Hope. He could count on the support of most of the Wampanoag except for those on the off-shore islands. For similar reasons, the Nauset on Cape Cod would also remain neutral, but most Nipmuc and Pocumtuc were ready for war along with some of the Pennacook and Abenaki. The Narragansett, however, had not completed preparations and had been forced to sign a treaty with the English.

In late June a Wampanoag was killed near the English settlement at Swansea, and the King Philip's War (1675-76) began. The Wampanoag attacked Swansea and ambushed an English relief column. Other raids struck near Taunton, Tiverton, and Dartmouth. Despite being forewarned and their advantage in numbers, the English were in serious trouble. Well-armed with firearms (some French, but many acquired through trade with the English themselves), the Wampanoag and their allies even had their own forges and gunsmiths. Drawing from virtually every tribe in New England, Philip commanded more than 1,000 warriors, and even the tribes who chose to remain neutral were often willing to provide food and shelter. Only the Mohegan under Oneko (Uncas' son) remained loyal to the English. Particularly disturbing to the colonists was the defection of most of the "Praying Indians." When Puritan missionaries attempted to gather their converts, only 500 could be found. The others had either taken to the woods or joined Philip. Their loyalty still suspect, the Praying Indians who remained were sent to the islands of Boston Harbor and other "plantations of confinement."

The English assembled an army at Plymouth in July and marched on Philip's village at Mount Hope (near Bristol, Rhode Island) burning every Wampanoag village enroute. They trapped the Wampanoag in a swamp on Pocasset Neck, but they managed to evacuate their women and children by canoe across the bay to the Pocasset of Queen Weetamoo (Alexander's widow). Philip and his warriors then slipped away leaving the English besieging an empty swamp! Leaving his women and children under the care of the still-neutral Narragansett, Philip moved west into the Nipmuc country of central Massachusetts. Although English accounts usually credit Philip as being present at almost every battle in the war, this would have been physically impossible. Philip provided political leadership, while others like Anawon, Tuspaquin, Sagamore Sam (Nipmuc), and Sancumachu (Pocumtuc) led the actual attacks. From Philip's new location in the west, the war then resumed at an even more furious pace than before. The Nipmuc raided Brookfield and Worcester and then combined with the Pocumtuc to attack settlements in the Connecticut River Valley. After a raid at Northfield, a relief force under Captain Beers was ambushed south of town and more than half killed. Three survivors were captured and burned at the stake. In September Deerfield and Hadley were attacked forcing the colonists to abandon their homes and fort-up together in Deerfield. Facing a winter without food, 80 soldiers under Captain Thomas Lothrop were dispatched with 18 teamsters to gather the abandoned crops near Hadley. All went well until the return journey, when the expedition was ambushed by the 700 Pocumtuc at Bloody Brook south of Deerfield. Another English force with 60 Mohegan warriors arrived too late and found only seven survivors.

Having dealt with the northern settlements on the Connecticut River, Philip's warriors began to work south attacking Hatfield, Springfield, Westfield, and Northampton (three separate times). Even with the help of the Mohegan, the English in western Massachusetts were hard-pressed, and by late fall, they were on the defensive and confined to a handful of forts. By this time Philip felt confident enough to return to the Narragansett in Rhode Island and collect his women and children. Travelling west to the Connecticut River, he moved north to the vicinity of Deerfield and then west into the Berkshire Mountains where he established his winter quarters just across the border from Massachusetts at Hoosick, New York. Gaining new recruits from among the Sokoki (and even a few Mahican and Mohawk), the population of Philip's village at Hoosick grew to more than 2,000, and the winter of 1675-76 was a long, terrible battle with hunger.

For obvious reasons, the English considered neutral tribes who helped the Wampanoag as enemies, but their efforts to stop this widened the war. At the outbreak of the fighting, the Narragansett had gathered themselves in single large fort in a swamp near Kingston, Rhode Island. Although it appeared they were on the verge of annulling their treaty with the English and entering the war on the side of Philip, the only thing they had been guilty of during the first six months of the conflict was providing shelter for Wampanoag women, children, and other non-combatants. In December of 1675, Governor Josiah Winslow of Plymouth led a 1,000 man army with 150 Mohegan scouts against the Narragansett. The English demanded the Narragansett surrender of any Wampanoag who remained and join them against Philip. When this was refused, the English attacked. Known as the Great Swamp Fight (December 19, 1675), the battle almost destroyed the Narragansett. In all they lost more than 600 warriors and at least 20 of their sachems, but the English also lost heavily to and was in no condition to pursue the Narragansett who escaped. Led by their sachem, Canonchet, many of the survivors joined Philip at Hoosick.

Philip in the meantime had attempted to bring the Mohawk into the war against New England. New York's governor Edmund Andros was a royal appointee with little love for the Puritans in Massachusetts and at first kept his colony neutral. This changed when he learned of Philip's efforts to enlist the Iroquois. From long experience, the Iroquois were not comfortable with the presence of a large group of heavily-armed Algonquin on their borders (they had been at war with them for more than a century), and after several Mohawk were killed near Hoosick under questionable circumstances, refused Philip's request. Encouraged by Governor Andros, the Mohawk became hostile and forced Philip to leave New York. He relocated east to Squawkeag in the Connecticut Valley near the border of Massachusetts and Vermont. Philip did not wait for warmer weather to resume the war. In February he launched a new series of raids throughout New England using his most effective weapon ...fire. Victims included: Lancaster, Medfield, Weymouth, Groton, Warwick (Rhode Island), Marlborough, Rehoboth, Plymouth, Chelmsford, Andover, Sudbury, Brookfield, Scituate, Bridgewater, and Namasket.

As English soldiers rushed about trying to cope, they fell victim to ambushes. In March Canonchet and the Narragansett almost wiped out one command (60 killed), and in another fight shortly afterwards killed 70 more. With these successes Philip was able to gather a large number of warriors at Squawkeag, but he was unable to feed them. Although he was able to raid the English with impunity and fend off the Mohawk, Philip desperately needed to clear English settlement from the area so his people could plant corn and feed themselves. For this reason, the Narragansett and Pocumtuc joined forces in attacks on Northfield and Deerfield during the spring of 1676. Both raids were ultimately repulsed with heavy losses. Meanwhile, Philip's followers needed seed corn for spring planting. Canonchet volunteered in April for the dangerous task of returning to Rhode Island where the Narragansett had a secret cache. He succeeded, but on the return journey was captured and executed by the Mohegan.

Canonchet's death seemed to dishearten Philip and marked the turning point of the war. Philip moved his headquarters to Mount Wachusett, but the English had finally begun to utilize Praying Indians as scouts and became more effective. In May Captain William Turner attacked a fishing camp at Turner's Falls killing over 400 (including the Pocumtuc sachem Sancumachu). Before forced to retreat by superior numbers, the English also killed several gunsmiths and destroyed Philip's forges. Turner lost 43 men on his retreat to Hatfield , but the damage had been done. Philip's confederacy began to break up, and it was everyone for himself. Some Nipmuc and Pocumtuc accepted an offer of sanctuary by New York and settled with the Mahican at Schaghticook. Others joined forces with the Sokoki (western Abenaki) and moved north to Cowasuck, Missisquoi, and Odanak (St. Francois) in Quebec. Philip and the Wampanoag, however, chose to return to their homeland in southeast Massachusetts.

Throughout the summer the Wampanoag were hunted down by Captain Benjamin Church's rangers and Praying Indian scouts. Philip went into hiding near Mount Hope, but Queen Awashonks of the Sakonett surrendered and switched sides. On August 1st Philip escaped during an attack on his village, but the English captured his wife and son who were sent as prisoners to Martha's Vineyard. Five days later, the Pocasset were caught near Taunton, and Weetamoo (Alexander's widow) drowned while trying to escape. The English cut off her head and put it on display in Taunton. Philip and Anawon remained in hiding in the swamp near Mount Hope until betrayed by an informer, John Alderman. Guided by Alderman, Benjamin Church's rangers surrounded Philip on August 12th. Alderman shot and killed Philip (for which he was given one of Philip's hands as a trophy). Philip's corpse was beheaded and quartered. His head was displayed on a pole at Plymouth for 25 years. Anawon was captured on August 28th and later killed by a mob, and Tuspaquin was executed by firing squad after he surrendered. Philip's wife and son were reportedly sold as slaves to the West Indies, but it appears they were instead exiled from Massachusetts and joined the Sokoki at Odanak.

The war should have ended with Philip's death, but peace treaties were not signed for another two years. Meanwhile, the English continued to hunt down Philip's allies and those who had helped them. An expedition under Captain Richard Waldon attacked the Nashua in the midst of peace negotiations during 1676 killing 200. The prisoners were sold as slaves. Samuel Mosely followed this with an unprovoked attack on the neutral Pennacook. Other expeditions against the Androscoggin and Ossipee finally drew the Kennebec and Penobscot of the eastern Abenaki into the war. In November, 1676 an English army attacked Squawkeag and destroyed the corn needed for the coming winter. The Sokoki withdrew north to the protection of the French in Canada, but the English had provoked the Abenaki and Sokoki into at least 50 years of hostility.

With Philip and most of their leaders dead, the Wampanoag were nearly exterminated. Only 400 survived the war. The Narragansett and Nipmuc had similar losses, and although small bands continued to live along the Connecticut River until the 1800s, the Pocumtuc disappeared as an organized group. For the English, the war was also costly: 600 killed and more than half of 90 settlements attacked with 13 destroyed. Edward Randolph, an agent of the crown, estimated 3,000 natives were killed, but his estimate appears to have been very conservative. From a pre-war native population in southern New England of 15,000, only 4,000 were left in 1680, and the harsh peace terms imposed by the English placed them in total subjugation. In what has been called the Great Dispersal, the Algonquins in southern New England fled either to the Sokoki and French in Canada, or west to the Delaware and Iroquois.

Except for the villages on the off-shore islands which had remained neutral, the surviving mainland Wampanoag after the war were relocated with the Sakonnet or mixed with the Nauset in Praying Villages in western Barnstable County. The Wampanoag community on Martha's Vineyard has persisted to the present day, although the one on Nantucket was destroyed by an unknown epidemic in 1763. The mainland Wampanoag became increasingly concentrated near Mashpee, but Massachusetts withdrew recognition during the 1800s. Without benefit of a treaty with the United States, only the Wampanoag at Gay Head have been able to gain federal recognition.

Pass the Eel Please...

I think it would be really interesting (and most appropriate) to have a traditional Wampanoag feast instead of the usual fare for Thanksgiving one year...


Pilgrims More Likely Passed the Eel, Not the Potatoes
November 21, 2004

By Susan Palmer
The Register-Guard

It's almost Thanksgiving, and what says holiday more than a bucket of eels?

Honestly, it's the sort of thing that Americans newly arrived from England would have likely eaten in the autumn in Massachusetts in the 1600s.

Roast turkey and pumpkin pie may epitomize the high culinary arts of Thanksgiving now, but the written record from 1621 is pretty sketchy when it comes to the harvest celebration menu.

According to the Plimouth Plantation, a living history museum in Massachusetts, the only known record of the food eaten that day among the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags, the original Americans, puts seasonal wild fowl - including turkeys, ducks and geese - and venison brought by the Wampanoag on the table.

Other foods that were amply available at the time: Indian corn, and from the nearby ocean bay, mussels and eels.

So what about cranberries? Unlikely in a sauce, according to food historian Kathleen Curtin, although they may have been part of a Wampanoag dish.

Curtin writes that it would be 50 years before an Englishman boiled the tart berries with sugar to make a sauce.

Potatoes, a South American tuber, wouldn't be widely grown in North America for another 100 years. Sweet potatoes had barely migrated from the Caribbean to Spain, where they were considered a rare delicacy.

Pumpkins and other squashes probably were harvested in the Plymouth area, but Curtin thinks it unlikely that the colonists had the butter and flour to make pie crusts.

The food that fills our tables today came to us late in the 1800s, when educators trying to instill a sense of place in new immigrants developed the traditions we know now.

And boy, are we dedicated to them. Nobody knows exactly how many tons of turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie America will shovel down its collective gullet come Thursday.

But the U.S. Census Bureau has estimated the amount of such staples produced this past year for our consumption.

They report that turkey farms produced 263 million of the birds this year, about 46.5 million of them in Minnesota, the bulk of the rest in North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia and California.

Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey and Washington together will produce about 658 million pounds of cranberries this year.

Sweet potatoes - a couple hundred years ago, Europeans thought they were an aphrodisiac - registered on the scales at about 1.6 billion pounds, most of them grown in North Carolina, followed by Louisiana and California.

Pumpkin growers dished up 805 million pounds of the squash we make our pies from. Illinois was the most productive state, followed by California, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York.

The wheat for rolls and bread totaled 2.2 billion bushels this year, about a third of the total grown in Kansas and North Dakota.

One last little trivial detail: When it comes to Europeans giving thanks on American shores, the Pilgrims can't actually lay claim to the first such celebration.

For that, you have to go north to Canada and back in time about 43 years to 1578, when British explorer Martin Frobisher gave thanks after surviving a perilous ocean crossing and landing in what is now New Foundland.

Happy dining.