30 April 2005

French Court Bans DRM for DVDs

Well, at least the French got it right...


Dutch Plans for iPod Tax...

What in the bloody hell have the Dutch been smoking?

24 April 2005

Montana DOL Injures Buffalo

This is sinful! Tatanka, the Buffalo, is a gift from the Creator and should treated with Respect...


Support the Buffalo

Montana Department of Livestock Severely Injures Pregnant Buffalo
During Capture Operation

Video footage available upon request
For Immediate Release, April 20, 2005
Contact: Justine Sanchez, 406-646-0070

West Yellowstone, MT: At approximately 1:15 PM yesterday, Montana Department of Livestock agents, Yellowstone National Park rangers, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game wardens, and US Forest Service officers repeatedly hazed a pregnant female buffalo along with her yearling and calf into high tension wire and barbed wire fencing causing severe injury to all three for over thirty minutes.  The buffalo had evaded capture by the agencies at the Duck Creek buffalo trap after over seven miles of grueling and intense hazing that began on National Forest land on the Horse Butte Peninsula.  The three buffalo eventually made their way across the boundary into the relative safety of the Park. 

37 other buffalo that were part of the same hazing operation from Horse Butte were captured at the Duck Creek trap.  Those buffalo will now go through the torturous process of testing for brucellosis exposure, sorting and shipping either to the slaughterhouse, the quarantine facility, or possible release back to Horse Butte where they were peacefully grazing for the past few days after last week's operations.

All three of the buffalo that were hazed into the fencing were visibly bleeding from open wounds.  The pregnant mother buffalo was especially torn up and was bleeding profusely from the chest as she retreated into the Park.  BFC volunteers documenting the abuse witnessed the agents chase the buffalo into the various fences at least ten times before finally allowing them to return to the Park. 

"The cruelty demonstrated by the Department of Livestock toward the buffalo is truly without equal and unfortunately expected after so many years of abuse.  However, the participation of Park rangers and Montana game wardens is absolutely reprehensible.  The American people should be able to expect a certain level of decency and concern for the well being of our only continuously wild buffalo from the civil servants we pay to protect them." remarked Josh Osher of the Buffalo Field Campaign.

The 37 buffalo captured yesterday bring the total captured since March 21, 2005 to 168.  63 buffalo have been sent to slaughter by the livestock agency since then with an additional 14 calves being shipped to a quarantine facility near Gardiner, Montana.  Three other buffalo were also killed by the agencies this past fall.  At least half of the quarantined calves will also be slaughtered after a year of confinement and experimentation.  Current plans call for the capture and quarantine of up to 100 calves for each of the next two years with at least half going to slaughter as part of the experiment. 

Hazing and capture operations by the Dept. of Livestock and cooperating agencies will continue over the next two months and throughout the buffalo calving season.  Over 150 buffalo remain on Horse Butte after today's haze and capture and more will likely return to their traditional calving grounds in the coming weeks.  If current trends continue, the Dept. of Livestock will slaughter over 300 wild buffalo before June when the migratory buffalo will naturally return to the interior of Yellowstone National Park.  Domestic cattle will not be present in the West Yellowstone area until June 15 at the earliest. 

Thanks, Dubya!

Bush Lies, America Cries
By Mark Morford
The San Francisco Chronicle
Friday 22 April 2005

This just in: Global terrorism rates are higher than any time since 1985. Thanks, Dubya!

Oh my God I feel so much safer. Don't you?

I mean, don't you feel so much more secure in your all-American gun-totin' oil-happy lifestyle now that we have wasted upward of $300 billion worth of your child's future education budget, along with 1,600 disposable young American lives and over 20,000 innocent Iraqi lives and about 10,000 severed American limbs and untold wads of our spiritual and moral currency, all to protect America from terrorism that is, by every account, only getting worse? Nastier? More nebulous? More anti-American?

Here's something funny, in a rip-your-patriotic-heart-out-and-spit-on-it sort of way: Just last week, BushCo's State Department decided to kill the publication of an annual report on international terrorism. Why? Well, because the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985. Isn't that hilarious? Isn't that heartwarming? Your tax dollars at work, sweetheart.

Lest you forget, this is what they do. They trim. They edit. They censor. BushCo kills what they do not like and fudges negative data where they see fit and completely rewrites whatever the hell they want, and that includes bogus WMD reports and CIA investigations and dire environmental studies and scientific proofs about everything from evolution to abortion and pollution and clean air, right along with miserable unemployment data and all manner of research pointing up the ill health of the nation, the spirit, the world.

In other words, if BushCo doesn't like what comes out of their own hobbled agencies and their own funded studies, they do what any good dictatorship does: They annihilate it. Now that's good gummint!
Let's be clear: The obliteration of the National Counterterrorism Center report merely goes to prove what so many of us already know - that BushCo's brutish and borderline traitorous actions since they leveraged 9/11 to blatantly screw the nation have done exactly nothing to stem the tide of terrorism - and, in fact, have, by most every measure, apparently increased the threat of terrorism. In other words, the world is a more dangerous place because of George W. Bush. Is that clear enough?

Let's put it another way: Under Bush, in the past five years, the US has made zero new friends. But we have made a huge number of new and increasingly venomous enemies. And no, they don't hate us because of our malls, Dubya. They don't hate us because of our freedoms. They don't hate us because of our low-cut jeans and our moronic 8 mpg Ford Expeditions or our corrupt Diebold voting system that snuck you into office.

They hate us, George, because of our policies. Anti-Muslim. Pro-Israel. Oil-uber-alles. Anti-UN Anti-Kyoto. Anti-planet. Pro-war. Pro-insularity. Pseudo-swagger. Bogus staged "town hall" meetings stocked with prescreened monosyllabic Bush sycophants. Ego. Empire.

But here's the truly sad part, the hideous and depressing and soul-shredding part about all those young kids in the US military right now, all those mostly undereducated, lower-middle-class kids, most of whom aren't even old enough to buy beer and many of whom have barely had sex and many who got sucked into the military vortex in an honest attempt to help pay for a college education so they could go out and not find a decent job in this miserable economy. The sad part is all those kids in the military who've been trained/brainwashed to believe they are serving in Iraq to protect America's freedom, to protect us from, well, something dark, and sinister, and deadly. When in fact, they're not. Not even close.

The truth is, we were never under threat from Iraq. There were never any WMDs, and Bush knew it. Our military is protecting nothing so much as our access to future stores of petroleum, nothing so much as helping set up a giant police station in Iraq to ensure surrounding nations don't get all uppity about just who controls the rights to those oil fields.

So let's get honest and just ask it outright: Is this a worthy use of the massive bloated machine that is the US military? Of the largest and most advanced fighting force in the world? To protect the flow of oil to the most gluttonous and wasteful and least accountable developed nation on the planet? Is this worth so many young American lives?
You already know the answer. Ask any oil exec. Any government economist. Any BushCo war hawk or auto manufacturer or the leaders of any major manufacturing industry. Ask the president himself. They all say the same thing: You're goddamn right it is.

Here, then, is the warped, convoluted irony: We went to war under the lie of a Saddam-fueled terrorism threat that never existed. We are at war, instead, to protect our oil and to establish regional control, an act that, in turn, has destabilized the Middle East even further and is actually inciting much of the very terrorism we were ostensibly there to battle in the first place, thus producing a level of anti-US hatred not even a (still alive and apparently very chipper) Osama bin Laden could have wet dreamed. Isn't democracy fun?

We are not "spreading democracy" by invading Iraq. We are not giving a gift of a more peaceable Iraq to a grateful world. That is merely insidious Republican PR spin. Right now, the US military is, in short, protecting your right to a $3 gallon of gas, which will soon be $4 and then maybe $5 and $6 as we are running out of the stuff faster than anyone thought and the fight for that which remains will only turn uglier and more violent and so I have to ask again, do you feel safer?
Because if you say yes, you are, quite simply, lying. Or delusional. Or you have had your brain edited by BushCo. Or those are some mighty powerful drugs you are obviously taking and you might wish to consider switching to aspirin and wine and Fleshbot.com.

They say that violence is the last refuge of a desperate nation. And violence under the guise of secrecy and outright lie such as BushCo has foisted upon the nation is the last refuge of a nation of thugs. Yes, I'm looking at you, Rummy. I'm looking at you, Cheney. I'm not looking at you, Karl Rove, because looking at you makes my colon clench and looking at you makes birds die and looking at you makes small children feel hopeless and lost, like the world is full of black venomous hate and bilious condescension that is aimed squarely at their heads, like a gun.
It's true. We are living in a nation run by over-privileged alcoholic frat boys and power-mad thugs. This much we know. This much we need to be reminded of, over and over again, until we finally wake up.

Ah, but there is good news. There is always good news. The good news is, they are now confiscating all cigarette lighters at the airport. In the name of safety. In the name of homeland security. In the name of America, apple pie, babies, puppies, Jesus and guns. Lighters are now forbidden on all air travel. I mean, thank God. I feel safer already.

We're Still Here!

After Half-Century Fight, Indian Culture Is Going Strong, Author Says

For nearly 500 years, American Indians have survived every excruciating challenge white society has delivered, including in more recent centuries, forced assimilation and blatant efforts to terminate Indian reservations.

After World War II, Indian nations nearly succumbed to the relentless pressure; today, tribes are stronger than they have been in 150 years, a noted scholar of tribal rights said Thursday at the University of Montana.

Indian Country is vibrant because, when it was threatened most in the late 1950s and 1960s, Indian people drew strength from one another and largely refused to hand over their lands, their culture or their sovereignty, said Charles Wilkinson, a former attorney with the Native American Rights Fund.

Wilkinson spoke at UM's Tribal Leaders Institute Symposium, a two-day event celebrating and discussing the 30th anniversary of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975.

Signed by President Nixon, the historic legislation gave tribal governments the right to exercise greater control over Indian affairs, including education, health care and law enforcement.

Although the legislation was classic "top-down" lawmaking - no Indians were consulted on the language or particulars of the act - Nixon ushered in a new era for Indian people.

In the years following World War II, from the late 1950s through the 1960s, reservation life was at an all-time low, Wilkinson said. Unemployment was 50 percent or more, and except for federal Bureau of Indian Affairs offices and churches, many reservations were without electricity or running water.

Wilkinson interviewed Indians who were tribal officers during those years for his newly released book, "Blood Struggle: the Rise of Modern Indian Nations." Those officers remember a life wholly controlled by the BIA, whose federal employees bullied and manipulated the reservation community, even going so far as to open and read tribal leaders' mail.
"Paternalism isn't nearly a strong enough word for it," Wilkinson said. "It was suppression and oppression."

At the same time, federal and church officials forbade the teaching of native languages and the practice of many tribal customs, Wilkinson said. People were afraid they would be shipped off to government boarding schools, or be branded as unfit parents and have their children taken from the community.

At the time, reservations lost one-third of their children through adoption to non-Indian families; many of the children were taken away for no reason, Wilkinson said.

In 1953, Congress passed House Concurrent Resolution 108, which attempted to wipe out Indian nations altogether by demanding that all tribal lands be sold, federal support withdrawn and rigorous assimilation programs implemented.

"It was going to be the end of Indian-ness," Wilkinson said.
But across Indian Country, Indian people like Vine Deloria Jr. and Ada Deer refused to give up what they had, and led an Indian revival - a civil rights campaign as profound and as successful as the racial, feminist and environmental movements of the same era.

Tribal governments got involved and lobbied Congress to include Indian tribes in War on Poverty legislation.

The lobbyists succeeded and tribes were given access to federal grants, which helped create tribal offices and pay for trips to Washington, D.C., where Indian leaders could meet with lawmakers and champion tribal needs. In Navajo country, tribal officials built the first language school, which continues to thrive today.

When Nixon stepped forward with the Self-Determination Act, he was credited with giving Indians "independence" - a future of their own making.

However, it was essentially like "putting new wine in old bottles," Wilkinson said.

"Indian people have been self-determining for hundreds of years," he said. "There were governments, not some lawyers' legal fiction. They were governments from the beginning."

But the act did set in motion other Indian legislation, such as the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, which gave tribes more control over the adoption of Native children.

In the years that followed, Indian Country chipped away at the prejudiced federal bureaucracy and gradually became stronger.
Now, 70 tribes have 300 or more members who are tribal government employees, 70 tribes have tribal forests managed by Indians, and old customs such as the once-banned Sun Dance have been revived, Wilkinson said.

Sweat lodges, language and ancient burial ceremonies have been also been revived and are again being handed down generation to generation.

"Indian people still have many miles to walk before reservations are secure homelands," he said. "Difficult health and social problems remain."

"I don't know what forever means," Wilkinson said, but as the momentum in Indian Country builds, he strongly believes tribes can only continue to thrive.

As they once did, he said. With access "to an enduring landscape of Indian Country forever."

Reporter Betsy Cohen can be reached at 523-5253 or at bcohen@missoulian.com

The Denver Three...

From 9News.com:

DENVER - The three people from Denver who were kicked out of President Bush's town hall meeting on social security reform are threatening to sue the man who forced them out and the people who trained him.

They trio, who've become known as the "Denver Three," have asked repeatedly for the man's name, but have gotten no response. The secret service is investigating the incident.

Leslie Weise, Karen Bauer and Alex Young obtained tickets from the office of U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, R-Colo, to attend the March 21 event at the Wings of the Rockies Museum.

Shortly after they arrived, they were approached by a man, who they thought was a U.S. Secret Service agent, who escorted them out of the event. They were told they'd been identified because of the bumper sticker on the car they drove that said "No Blood for Oil," a popular anti-war slogan.

After Weise, Bauer and Young filed a complaint with the Secret Service, they were told that the person was a local volunteer.

The town hall meeting was funded by taxpayer dollars and in theory, should have been open to the public.

"Somebody violated my clients' first amendment rights and we want to know who it is so that we can sue them and the people that trained them," says Dan Recht, the attorney representing Weise, Bauer and Young.

"It would be alarming that anybody from the White House would consider anybody with a different opinion from their's a threat," says Weise.

Although both Republican and Democratic members of Colorado's Congressional delegation have since said that the three shouldn't have been removed, Weise, Bauer and Young want to find out who is was who asked them to leave.

Neither the White House nor the Secret Service is commenting about the case.

Red Crow (Lakota)

An Appreciation of Floyd Westerman
© Indian Country Today April 22, 2005. All Rights Reserved
Posted: April 22, 2005
by: Editors Report / Indian Country Today

In San Diego recently to meet with tribal leaders at the NIGA conference, we ran into Floyd Westerman. Floyd - Red Crow - is the Lakota musician, actor and all-around activist who is the true eyapaha to Indian country. Indeed, eyapaha - title of the camp crier of old who summoned the people to action - is a mantle that Floyd Westerman wears well.

Floyd is respected, loved and befriended throughout Indian country. Not long ago, when we announced to Vine Deloria Jr. that he had won our American Indian Visionary Award for 2005, he said, ''You should have given it to Floyd.''

A lot of people in Indian country put through prayers when Floyd, a longtime smoker, underwent a lung transplant operation just months ago. People far and wide invoked strength and recovery for a man who has given a great deal to Indian people.

Thus to see the great eyapaha, Red Crow, walking briskly and vigorously down the sidewalk in San Diego was a welcome and reassuring sign that the activist years - the formative, free-for-all but highly creative years of the Indian national movement for political and economic recovery - are not so far behind us. Floyd gave us a fist-to-fist salute with a wink that carried the recognition of memories of a generation or more.

A salute and appreciation is expressed here to the life and career of Floyd Westerman, Red Crow. Many people throughout Indian country have their memories and anecdotes of Floyd, who gave more selfless time and effort to Indian causes than most parents give their children.
Just to share a couple of stories:

One is Floyd showing up unexpectedly in camps along the Longest Walk to Washington in 1978, when it seemed Indians from all over the country converged into a river of humanity to protest anti-Indian legislation. No matter how out-of-the-way the place, suddenly there was Floyd with his guitar to entertain the Indian troops. He would travel and sleep in the back of pick-up trucks; he would eat what there was for the camp, no privilege expected.

There were many mishaps, victories and disappointments during that hot, long summer, but Floyd never failed to arouse good sentiments and rally the folks. His monologues between songs truly carried the Indian news and old-time wisdom of elders from across the hemisphere.

Another is when he came to Akwesasne Territory in upstate New York in the midst of a local civil war among Mohawks. That was back in 1979 and 1980, the time of the traditional Mohawk encampment at Raquette Point on the St. Regis Reservation. The whole traditional Iroquois community, including many of the activists now turned tribal leaders who don't work together anymore, came out to support the stand at Raquette Point, which saw over 20 Indian families barricaded with weapons to defend their longhouse chiefs and clan mothers from attack and arrest by New York State troopers.

That time, Floyd came through police barriers, via a clandestine river route, to be with the traditional Indians and play and sing his songs for the encamped families. Again, he came as one of the folks, no fanfare, no glitz allowed. Trailed by television actor Max Gail, who was filming a documentary on Indians, Floyd later generated support for the embattled Indian camp wherever he went.

Things today are seemingly more complex. With the increase in economic and political activity over the past 20 years, developmental inroads have widened for Indian country. Most Indian young people of talent have professional possibilities to pursue, and most everywhere there are people willing to help. Not so in Floyd's time, when boarding school beatings for speaking your own language were commonplace. Floyd, Dakota Sioux from Sisseton-Wahpeton, is as grassroots as they come and simply gave from his heart whenever his people needed him.
From his classic collaboration with Vine Deloria Jr. that brought out the protest songs ''Custer Died for Your Sins'' and ''BIA Blues,'' and the soulful ''35 More Miles,'' Floyd captured the Indian movement's pathos and ethos during its formative years. He stayed with the effort to represent and inform Indian people whether it helped his own professional career or not, and he certainly passed up many opportunities in prominent places just to be with the regular people. Floyd truly has been one of those activist philosophers who toils for the people first and foremost, always providing his best talents, his best qualities out of love and devotion to cause.

Floyd's long years of generous contribution are all the more valuable in that he was giving his talent away when he could have been immersed in the star-studded profitable life of national entertainment. What Floyd went on to prove in the late 1980s and through the 1990s was that his was a world-class talent.

He carried a charisma and a voice that resounded in the national stage with a presence at once so grave and yet so reassuring and appealing that he transferred easily to the movie screen - where suddenly, larger than life, there was Floyd as Ten Bears in ''Dances With Wolves,'' a movie which, despite easy criticisms, was a breakthrough classic in lifting sympathies for Native people in a hostile era.

There would be more; much more. In the 1990s, Floyd exploded onto many productions in a highly-deserved opportunity to take his place in the major leagues of the entertainment field. His friends have grown used to seeing him turn up in featured roles in ''Northern Exposure,'' ''L.A. Law'' and many other television programs, movies and talk shows.

He has toured the world with Sting to bring attention to the problems of rainforest people. He has traveled the globe various times representing Native people, often on behalf of the International Indian Treaty Council. He has gained the celebrity and recognition he richly deserves, not only as a unique and talented artist, but more importantly as a respected traditionalist philosopher.

Said Floyd in 1984: ''Some people call us radicals or leftists, but we are not left or right. We just want the Indians to survive, to help the old Indian way survive, because it is the true and tried way. America is only 200 winters old. That's very new. Our question is: will it be around in another 200 winters? Will high-tech survive the earth or will the earth survive high-tech?'' (Indian Studies Journal, Cornell, 1984)

Again, a heartfelt appreciation to Floyd Red Crow Westerman. May you continue to contribute your wonderful talents and resourceful attitude for many years to come. Yours is a name the people will always remember fondly.

The Gift of Healing...

Mending the Sacred Hoop...


Columbine's Dream Catcher to Bring Comfort in Red Lake

By Kieran Nicholson
Denver Post Staff Writer

Jefferson County - In Red Lake, Minn., a nightmare hangs over the rural community.

Images and flashes of gunshots and death at the local high school are only weeks old, leaving residents shaken and clinging to their faith.

And praying for good dreams.

Soon, they will get a little help - good medicine from a school that knows too much about tragedy, loss and the search for new hope.

The Columbine community will be passing on the high school's dream catcher, a Native American symbol used to ward off bad dreams. The dream catcher was a gift to the Jefferson County school in 1999, when the community was still reeling from the deadly shootings that claimed 15 lives.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the Columbine tragedy.

Native American parents and Columbine students say the gift is a reminder to Red Lake residents that they are not alone.

"It hurts," said Michelle Wolf, a Native American with children in Jefferson County schools. "We are all related, and we are all part of The Nation. We have an obligation to support and help them."

The dream catcher was sent here by the Muskegon, Mich., Indian Education Program, composed mostly of Ottawa, Potawatomi and Chippewa Indians, shortly after the Columbine shootings.

Fourteen Native American students attended Columbine at the time. Deborah Esquibel Hunt, coordinator of the Jefferson County School District's Indian Education Program, recently met with Columbine students and staff to discuss giving the dream catcher to Red Lake.

The students were enthusiastic about the idea.

Soon after, Wolf called Deloris Cloud-Hammit, the Indian education coordinator of the Red Lake Nation, to discuss the appropriateness of the gift.

Cloud-Hammit was touched by the overture, Wolf said.

Dream catchers have different meanings among tribes, said Jerry Williams, a Native American who has children in Jefferson County schools.

Dream catchers are formed in a circular pattern with woven webs and are designed to ward off bad dreams. They include beads, feathers and other adornments as part of the tapestry.

The ancient spiritual symbols, which are hung over or by a bed, can demonstrate the "circle of life," Williams said.

In Red Lake, some students haven't returned to school since the March 21 shootings that left 10 dead in the town.

Classes at the high school were sparsely attended when the school reopened April 12 - only about 90 students, less than one-third, showed up.

School officials in Red Lake are hoping that interest in the prom could help bring all the students back.

This year's Red Lake prom, on April 30, will be open to all 300 students, including freshmen and sophomores.

Tribal leaders in Red Lake, which is about 240 miles northwest of the Twin Cities and one of the poorest areas in Minnesota, are seeking donations of prom items, including previously worn formal dresses, shoes, purses, costume jewelry and young men's attire.

Door prizes and cash donations also are being accepted.

Columbine High School students attended their prom this past weekend. This week, they are gathering items to ship to Red Lake next week.

"We want everyone to have the opportunity to have the great experience we had," said Jessica Allen, a junior at Columbine.

Allen's older sister, Jennifer, was among the Columbine students trapped in the science room the day of the shootings. Jessica was a fifth-grader at the time, but she remembers the outpouring of support from around the country.

Jessica is donating the dress she wore to Columbine's prom, along with shoes and jewelry.

"We realize the importance of giving support in a time of need," she said. "The letters we received from other communities and other states was very comforting."

Williams helped write a letter, about the dream catcher, that has been sent to Red Lake.

"It served to remind us that in the circle of life, we will all be together again. ... It is in this spirit we send it to you," he wrote.

And Williams wants Minnesota to be the dream catcher's last destination - that Red Lake will be the last place with such bad dreams.

"I hope this stops at Red Lake and it doesn't have to go any further," he said. "I hope that is where it ends."

Staff writer Kieran Nicholson can be reached at 303-820-1822 or knicholson@denverpost.com.

Drilling the Artic...

This is an often overlooked aspect of the whole Artic Oil Issue...


Beach: Human Rights Ignored in Arctic Refuge Decision
© Indian Country Today April 21, 2005. All Rights Reserved
Posted: April 21, 2005
by: Luci Beach / Gwich-in Steering Committee

Drilling in the Sacred Place Where Life Begins would be a violation of the human rights of the people of the Gwich'in Nation. This fact is something that is continually left out of the debate by the proponents of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

During the recent ANWR debate in Congress, senators in support of oil development disregarded the fundamental basis of our concerns about the risks of drilling and the importance we place on the area where drilling would occur.

Many of the same disrespectful statements have been repeated over the years no matter how many times the Gwich'in speak and write and try to set the record straight. This year, however, a new claim was made that is far from the truth. The most fictitious statement made is that only one tribe is opposed to development in the Refuge. This is completely wrong.

First, there are numerous federal tribes in the U.S. and many First Nations in Canada opposed to oil development in the Arctic Refuge's coastal plain. The Gwich'in have the longstanding support of those opposed to oil and gas development from the Tanana Chiefs Conference, which represents 37 federally-recognized tribes in the interior of Alaska, including the Gwich'in. We also have support from the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, which advocates on behalf of 187 tribal governments.

There are various individual resolutions from Alaska Native tribes and communities throughout the state. The senators failed to mention that a petition from Kaktovik has the signatures of 57 people and there is a resolution opposed to drilling in the Arctic Refuge and offshore in the Arctic Ocean from the traditional whaling community of Point Hope. Furthermore, outside of Alaska we have the support of numerous tribes.

This broad opposition to drilling comes from the cultural significance of the lands as well as the ethic of the sanctity of birthplace - a basic principle of many tribes. Furthermore, this is where the distinction has to be made between Alaska Native corporations and tribes.
More than likely, Sen. Daniel Inouye was referring to the Alaska Federation of Natives, which is dominated by the Alaska Native corporations. Even the corporations were not 100 percent in favor of drilling in the Refuge - when this issue was discussed in 1995, three Alaska Native corporations opposed development. The Alaska Inter-Tribal Council (AITC) was formed because tribes viewed the federation as not addressing the concerns of tribes. AITC supports the Gwich'in position to protect the calving and nursery grounds.
Now, regarding the statement that only 2,000 acres will be opened to drilling. First, the entire 1.5 million acre coastal plain, ''1002 area,'' will be opened to oil leasing, development and production. This is the last 5 percent of the North Slope that is not open to exploration or development. Recently, federal waters off shore of the Arctic Refuge were leased to Shell Oil.

We are talking about the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge. This is like our heart in comparison to the rest of our body - it is the most important part. And please do not forget that this is a place that we as Gwich'in consider The Sacred Place Where Life Begins - no less sacred to Gwich'in than Mt. Fuji to Japanese or Na Wahi Pana where Aloha 'Aina would be expected for Hawaiians.

Luci Beach, Gwichyaa Gwich'in and Vuntut Gwich'in, from Ft. Yukon, is executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee.

Grandmother Mary Dann (Shoshone)

With heavy hearts we send our Smoke And Prayers on the Wind...


Shoshone Activist Dies; Sister Vows to Fight On
Staff and Wire Reports RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL

Western Shoshone Defense Project
: www.wsdp.org
American Indian activist Mary Dann, who with her sister helped represent the Shoshone Nation in its effort to reclaim millions of acres they claimed as their ancestral land, has died in an accident on her rural central Nevada ranch.
Dann apparently had an accident on an all-terrain vehicle while she was repairing fence on the Crescent Valley ranch Friday night, according to Julie Fishel of the Western Shoshone Defense Project.
Fishel said Dann was in her early 80s but had never disclosed her exact age.
Patricia Paul said her aunt "died as she would have wanted  with her boots on and hay in her pocket."
For more than a quarter century, Dann and her sister Carrie were at the forefront of efforts to reclaim a vast tract of land spreading across four states. They claimed it was their aboriginal land, which was seized by the United States under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley. Contending the treaty allowed white settlers to cross Shoshone territory but did not give the U.S. title to or authority over the land, the sisters ran livestock on the open range, ignoring federal regulations and refusing to pay grazing fees.
The BLM claimed jurisdiction over the range as public land, and said in 2003 that the Danns owed $3 million in fees and penalties.
In 2002, the BLM seized 277 head of Dann cattle. In 1992, the agency rounded up 250 Dann horses after a six-day standoff during which Mary and Carrie's brother Clifford doused himself with gasoline and threatened to light it.
"Just leave us alone," is what Mary Dann said when asked what she'd like from federal range managers in the 21st century.
The Dann sisters, who grew up on the 800-acre ranch established by their father Dewey Dann in the early 1900s, made a story good enough for movie screens.
The sisters took their case to the United Nations and attracted the attention of Hollywood celebrities such as Robert Redford.
"It's human struggle against enormous odds," said Joel Freedman, a
Connecticut-based filmmaker who shot documentaries on the Danns and the Western Shoshone. "It's a heroic struggle."
But some tribal members considered the Dann sisters adversaries because their cause and its publicity foiled years of attempts to distribute federal money to members under a land-claim award. She and her sister opposed distribution of the money and refused to pay to graze livestock on a federal allotment near their ranch.
Though "traditional" tribal members such as the Danns rejected the notion of a claim, another Shoshone band did file for settlement. In the late 1970s, the Indian Claims Commission awarded the Shoshones $26 million, deciding the tribe had lost the land by the "gradual encroachment" of white settlers.
However, the money went untouched because a majority of Shoshones could never agree to accept it. With interest, the amount of the payment has grown to more than $140 million, said Raymond Yowell, chief of the Western Shoshone Nation.
While the claims panel was one front in the battle, a pasture near the Danns' ranch became another.
In 1974, the Bureau of Land Management filed suit against the Danns, claiming they were trespassing by allowing their cattle to graze on federal land and refusing to pay grazing fees. The case went through the courts to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1985 that the tribe had lost title to the land when the $26 million was deposited as payment  even though the money was never collected.
Mary Dann usually sat quietly alongside more vocal Carrie in scores of public appearances and court hearings.
"Mary was quite a strong person. We're trying to absorb the suddenness of it happening," Yowell said on Saturday.
Carrie Dann said her sister would not want her death to interrupt the
continuing court challenges over their land.
"This was Mary's life work," she said. "All these years we've been fighting and the courts still haven't done anything. As far as we're concerned we will live up to our spiritual beliefs and nothing will change that. Mary believed that and lived by it and so do I."

18 April 2005

A Failing Grade...

We are not meeting our moral responsibilities...


'Failure' to Educate World's Poor
By Andrew Walker
BBC World Service economics correspondent, Washington

The world's richest countries are failing to provide the funds needed for education in the developing world, the Global Campaign for Education has said.

The campaign group's report was published during ministerial meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington.

The delegates are set to discus efforts to achieve universal primary education.

World leaders have agreed a target of providing primary education for all children by 2015.

It was part of the Millennium Development Goals agreed at a United Nations summit five years ago.

Bottom Grade

The Global Campaign for Education says 100 million children are still not going to school and it blames rich countries for failing to provide the funding necessary.

It grades 22 of them in what it calls a school report card.

Two countries, Norway and the Netherlands get an A grade, but the US and Austria receive the bottom F grade.

The assessment is based in part on countries' spending on development aid in total and on education programmes in particular.

The Millennium Development Goals also include an intermediate target for this year of ensuring that girls have equal access to primary and secondary education.

The Campaign for Global Education says it is scandalous that this target is likely to be missed.

The US says its aid programme does emphasise support for basic education and for ensuring improved opportunities for girls.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/17 12:22:19 GMT


In Memoriam: 19.April 1995

"Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it."
~~George Santayana

The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was a United States Government complex located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and the target of the Oklahoma City bombing.

The federal building was constructed in 1977 at a cost of $14.5 million, and was named for federal judge Alfred P. Murrah, an Oklahoma native. By the 1990s the building contained regional offices for the Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and other agencies.

On the morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a rented Ryder truck with explosives in front of the complex and, at 9:02am, a massive explosion occurred which sheared the entire north side of the building, killing 168 people.

Following an investigation and recovery of victims' bodies, the surviving structure was demolished with explosives on May 23, 1995. The Water Resources Board and Athenian Building were heavily damaged and later destroyed. The site later became home to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

"We come here to remember those who were killed,
those who survived and those changed forever.
May all who leave here know the impact of violence.
May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."
~~Oklahoma City National Memorial

The Fallen:

Lucio Aleman Jr
Teresa Alexander
Richard Allen
Ted Allen
Baylee Almon
Diane E. Althouse
Rebecca Anderson
Pamela Cleveland Argo
Saundra G. Avery
Peter Avillanoza
Calvin Battle
Peola Battle
Danielle Bell
Oleta Biddy
Shelly Bland
Andrea Y. Blanton
Olen Bloomer
Lola Bolden
James E. Boles
Mark A. Bolte
Cassandra Kay Booker
Carol Bowers
Peachlyn Bradley
Woodrow Clifford Brady
Cynthia Brown
Paul Broxterman
Gabreon Bruce
Kimberly Ruth Burgess
David Neil Burkett
Donald Earl Burns, Sr.
Karen Gist Carr
Michael Carrillo
Rona Linn Kuehner-Chafey
Zackary Chavez
Robert N. Chipman
Kimberly Kay Clark
Dr. Margaret Louise "Peggy" Clark
Antonio Ansara Cooper Jr.
Dana Cooper
Anthony Christopher Cooper II
Harley Richard Cottingham
Kim R. Cousins
Aaron and Elijah Coverdale
Jaci Rae Coyne
Katherine Louise "Kathy" Cregan
Richard Leroy Cummins
Steven Douglas Curry
Brenda Faye Daniels
Benjamin L. Davis
Diana Lynn Day
Peter L DeMaster
Castine Brooks Hearn Deveroux
Sheila R. Gigger Driver and baby
Tylor Eaves
Ashley Meagan Eckles
Susan Jane Ferrell
Carrol June "Chip" Fields
Katherine Ann Finley
Judy Fisher
Linda Louise Florence
Donald Lee and Mary Anne Fritzler
Tevin Garrett
Laura Washington Garrison
Jamie Lee Genzer
Margaret Betterton Goodson
Kevin Lee Gottshall II
Ethel Griffin
Colleen Guiles
Randy Guzman
Cheryl Bradley Hammon
Ronald Vernon Harding, Sr.
Thomas Lynn Hawthorne, Sr.
Doris Adele Higginbottom
Anita Hightower
Gene Hodges, Jr.
Peggy Louise Holland
Linda Coleen Housley
George Michael Howard
Wanda Lee Howell
Robbin Ann Huff and baby
Dr. Charles and Anna Jean Hurlburt
Paul Douglas Ice
Christi Jenkins
Norma Jean Johnson
Raymond Johnson
Larry J. Jones
Alvin Justes
Blake Ryan Kennedy
Carole Khalil
Valerie Koelsch
Carolyn Ann Kreymborg
Teresa Lea Lauderdale
Catherine Mary "Kathy" Leinen
Carrie Ann Lenz and baby
Donald Ray Leonard
LaKesha R. Levy
Dominique London
Rheta Ione (Bender) Long
Michael Loudenslager
Aurelia Donna and Robert L. Luster Jr.
Mickey Maroney
James Martin
Rev. Gilbert Martinez
James A. McCarthy
Kenneth Glenn McCullough
Betsy Janice McGonnell
Linda Gail McKinney
Cartney Jean McRaven
Claude Medearis
Claudette Meek
Frankie Ann Merrell
Derwin Miller
Eula Leigh Mitchell
John C. Moss III
Ronota Ann Newberry-Woodbridge
Patricia Nix
Jerry Lee Parker
Jill Diane Randolph
Michelle Reeder
Terry S. Rees
Mary L. Rentie
Antonio "Tony" Reyes
Kathryn Elizabeth Ridley
Trudy Rigney
Claudine Ritter
Christine Nicole Rosas
Sonja Lynn Sanders
Lanny L. Scroggins
Kathy Lynn Seidl
Leora Lee Sells
Karan Shepherd
Colton Wade Smith and Chase Dalton Smith
Victoria Lee Sohn
John T. Stewart
Dolores M. Stratton
Emilio Rangel Tapia
Victoria J. Texter
Charlotte Andrea Lewis Thomas
Michael George Thompson
Virginia Thompson
Kayla Titsworth
Rick L. Tomlin
LaRue and Luther Treanor
Larry L. Turner
Jules Valdez
John K. Van Ess
Johnny Allen Wade
David Jack Walker
Robert Walker Jr.
Wanda Watkins
Michael Don Weaver
Julie Marie Welch
Robert Westberry
Alan G. Whicher
Jo Ann Whittenberg
Frances Williams
Scott Williams
William Stephen Williams
Clarence Eugene Wilson
Sharon Louis Wood-Chestnut
Tresia Worton
John A. Youngblood

Please remember them and their Families in your thoughts and Prayers...
Please Pray for those who survived the wrath...

Please visit JohnnaRyry's Broomwagon!

Marla Ruzicka (1977-2005)

A great spirit has been lost...


Remembering a Friend

By Medea Benjamin and Kevin Danaher, AlterNet
Posted on April 18, 2005, Printed on April 18, 2005

Just about every day we hear of bombs going off in Iraq, and perhaps we pause for a moment and think what a tragedy it is, and then we go back to our daily routine. But when someone close to you is killed by one of those bombs, the world stops spinning.

On Saturday April 16, our colleague and friend, Marla Ruzicka of Lakeport, Calif., was killed on the streets of Baghdad. We still don't know the exact details of her death, which makes it all that much harder to deal with the utter shock of losing this bright, shining light whose work focused on trying to bring some compassion into the middle of a war zone.

Marla was working for a humanitarian organization she founded called CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict), which documents cases of innocent civilians hurt by war. Marla and numerous other volunteers would go door-to-door interviewing families who had lost loved ones or had their property destroyed by the fighting. She would then take this information back to Washington and lobby for reparations for these families.

A case in point, taken from Marla's own journal, as published November 6, 2003:

On the 24th of October, former teacher Mohammad Kadhum Mansoor, 59, and his wife, Hamdia Radhi Kadhum, 45, were traveling with their three daughters -- Beraa, 21, Fatima, 8, and Ayat, 5 years old -- when they were tragically run over by an American tank.

A grenade was thrown at the tank, causing it to loose control and veer onto the highway, over the family's small Volkswagen. Mohammad and Hamdia were killed instantly, orphaning the three girls in the backseat. The girls survived, but with broken and fractured bodies. We are not sure of Ayat's fate; her backbone is broken.

CIVIC staff member Faiz Al Salaam monitors the girls' condition each day. Nobody in the military or the U.S. Army has visited them, nor has anyone offered to help this very poor family.

Marla first came to the Global Exchange office when she was still in high school in Lakeport. She had heard a talk by one of our staff members about Global Exchange's work building people-to-people ties around the world, and she wanted to do something to help. She was a quick study and took to the work with a passion and energy that were inspiring to us older activists. She later chose a college (Friends World College) that allowed her to travel to many countries and learn from diverse cultures. She quickly developed "big love"--love of the human race, in all its joy, frailties and exotic permutations.

Marla worked with AIDS victims in Zimbabwe, refugees in Palestine, and campesinos in Nicaragua. Following the US invasion of Afghanistan, Marla traveled to Afghanistan with a Global Exchange delegation and she was so moved by the plight of the civilian victims that she dedicated the rest of her too-short life to helping innocent victims of war. She was on a similar mission in Iraq when she met with her untimely death.

Marla was once asked by a San Francisco Chronicle reporter if she would ever consider doing work that was safer. Marla answered: "To have a job where you can make things better for people? That's a blessing. Why would I do anything else?"

We are somewhat consoled by the fact that Marla died doing what she really wanted to do: helping people less fortunate than herself. Many of us believe that character trait to be the most beautiful quality a human being can possess. And Marla had an abundance of it.

Marla seemed to have one speed: all-ahead-full. She had more courage than most people we know. She loved big challenges and she took them on with a radiant smile that could melt the coldest heart.

One of the things we can do to honor Marla Ruzicka is to carry on her heartfelt work to build a world without hunger, war and needless suffering. And every time we start to get depressed about the state of the world, we should take inspiration from Marla's boundless energy and throw ourselves back into the work of global justice with the same kind of passion that was Marla's most endearing quality.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/21778/

13 April 2005

Good Things Happen to Good People...

Let's hope that this isn't the last time that NDN families are shown in a positive light on primetime...


Piestewa Family Surprised With New Home Courtesy of ABC Television's
Extreme Home Makeover!

TUBA CITY, Ariz., April 12 /PRNewswire/

-- The Piestewa family was unable to contain their surprise and joy this morning when they heard ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington's signature "Good Morning" wake up call from outside their home in Tuba City, Ariz. Pennington and the show's designers arrived at the Piestewas' front door at 7:30 this morning to reveal that they would be the recipients of a new home, marking the first time since the show's inception that a Native American family was selected.

The Piestewa family is well known to many in Arizona and in the
Native American community as Terry and Percy Piestewa, the parents of Army Spec. Lori Piestewa. Piestewa is believed to be the first Native American woman to die in combat while defending her country during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Inspired by the Piestewas' Hopi heritage, Extreme Makeover: Home
Edition sought the help of the National Congress of American Indians
(NCAI) in their fundraising efforts to Indian Nations for support and sponsorship. It was through NCAI's outreach that the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians from Southern California first learned of the needs and stepped in to assist with the project.

"Our tribe strongly believes in the importance of community and
helping our tribal brothers and sisters, and Extreme Makeover is all
about building a better home and life for families in need," said
Chairman Deron Marquez of the San Manuel Band of Mission
Indians. "When we were approached by the show our tribe signed on
immediately to make a donation to the Piestewa family's new home,
because we have witnessed first-hand how building new homes and
fostering strong communities can vastly improve the quality of life
for Indian and non-Indian people alike."

The Hopi and Navajo tribes from Arizona are co-sponsoring the project with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; marking the first time the show also has featured Native American sponsors. In light of this unique episode, special attention will be placed on important Native American-focused cultural elements in the development of the show's storyline and in the home's design and construction.

Several Native American cultural activities unique to each of the
three tribes have been tentatively scheduled throughout the week of
production. Representatives from the San Manuel Band of Mission
Indians, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe are expected to
participate in these events.

"It is tremendously gratifying that three diverse Native American
tribes would come together to help achieve Lori Piestewa's dream to
build a home for her children and her parents," said Hopi Tribal
Chairman Wayne Taylor, Jr.

In March 2003, Lori Piestewa's convoy was ambushed in the city of An-Nasiriyah -- the same ambush that led to the capture of Pfc. Jessica Lynch who was held for nine days. While serving together in combat,Lynch and Piestewa formed a close friendship. It was during this time that Lori spoke of her desire to someday build a home where her parents could retire. Recalling this conversation, it was Lynch who nominated Piestewa's parents for the home makeover. Since Lori's death, her parents have adopted her two small children, a son age 6 and a daughter age 5.

"Lori was proud of her Hopi heritage and taught all those who knew
her about the great riches of her culture. We knew that to ignore
that culture in the show would be a great disservice to the Piestewa
family and to Lori's memory," said Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
producer Andy Lipson. "Recognizing the importance of their heritage,
ABC and the Extreme Makeover designers are working with the three
tribes to create a home that the family will love and that Lori would be proud of providing for her parents and children."

Construction on the Piestewa family home begins immediately in
Flagstaff, Ariz., while the family is away on a vacation sponsored by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

About Extreme Makeover Home Edition
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is produced by Endemol USA, a division of Endemol Holding. David Goldberg is the president of Endemol USA.

The series is executive-produced by Tom Forman. The show airs Sundays(8:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET), on the ABC Television Network.

About the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
Descendents of the Serrano Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission
Indians inhabited a territory spanning the San Bernardino Mountains,
valley and adjoining desert lands for centuries. Today, the tribe is
located on the San Manuel Reservation near Highland, Calif. Like
other tribal lands in the United States, the San Manuel Reservation
is a sovereign nation with its own system of government and tribal
laws. The tribe operates the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino and
the San Manuel Bottled Water Group, in addition to managing a variety of economic ventures. A partner in the community, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians actively contributes to a variety of projects in neighboring areas. Nearby cities and towns receive support from the tribe in the way of monetary and bottled water donations for cultural, social, and economic projects to benefit the common good of the communities in which the tribe's members live and work.
Source: San Manuel Band of Mission Indians

Quote of the Day

"Dissimilar things were fitted together to make something Beautiful and whole..."

~~Nippawanock (Arapahoe Nation)

12 April 2005

Gathering of People

April 23-24, 2005 Sat. & Sun

Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY
Host Drum: Maza Napin [Iron Necklace]
 Southern Co-host: Moccasin Trail
Invited drum: Eagle Nation
Invited drum: TBA
MC: Vernell Sitting Crow
Area Director: Mike Lucio
Head Veteran: Roger Campbell
Head Man Dancers: Sam Necklace [Yankton Sioux]; Wayne Moore [Kiowa]
Head Woman Dancers: Amanda Fox [Hidsta] ; Sonya Begay [Dine’]

------ ALL DRUMS WELCOME ------
Grand Entry: Sat 1:00pm & 7:00pm / Sunday 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Gates open: Sat & Sunday 10:00am  

Dance registration: 10:00am to 12:30pm Saturday only NO EXCEPTIONS / All dancers must be an enrolled member of a Federally or State Recognized tribe. Enrollment cards or CIB cards must be shown upon registering.  Day money available – numbers will be taken. 

Information: Contact Sonya Begay (859) 226-5081; Parnell Necklace (937) 587-7428

 Vendors: Contact Amanda Fox at (502) 955-7082 / application deadline 4/15/05; No drop-in vendors will be permitted.

 Admission: Adults $6.00 per day or $10.00 weekend pass; Seniors $3.00 or $5.00 weekend pass; Children $3.00 or $5.00 weekend pass; Students w/student ID $3.00 or $5.00 weekend pass.

 No firearms, pets, drugs, or alcohol allowed.

 Disclaimer: The Pow Wow Committee, N. KY Univeristy and Wesley Foundation are not responsible for any incidents, accidents, thefts, conflicts, and so forth, before, during and after the event. Campus security provided at all times.

11 April 2005

Tohono O'odham Defend Iolkam in Court...

How ironic that the Smithsonian would defile sacred lands at the same time they open NMAI. Somebody up there doesn't 'get it'...


Lawsuit to Halt Kitt Peak Telescopes Filed
© Indian Country Today April 11, 2005. All Rights Reserved
Posted: April 11, 2005
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today

SELLS, Ariz. - While San Carlos Apache led decades of court battles and protests to protect their sacred Dzil Nchaa Si An (Mount Graham) from massive telescope construction, many American Indians questioned whether the Tohono O'odham would battle in federal court the expansion of mammoth telescopes on Kitt Peak, the O'odham sacred mountain ''Iolkam,'' near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Kitt Peak crowns the north portion of the Baboquivari Mountains and is located in the tribe's Schuk Toak District.

Their speculation ended in March, when the Tohono O'odham Nation filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the National Science Foundation seeking an injunction to immediately halt construction of telescopes on Kitt Peak. Further, the Nation requested that the BIA cancel the Kitt Peak lease.

The suit names the Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Observatory, Kitt Peak National Observatory and NSF Astronomical Sciences Director G. Wayne Van Citters as defendants.

The Nation claimed the National Science Foundation manipulated the process for the environmental assessment and as a result, the mountain, known as ''I'itoi's Garden,'' was not declared a sacred site. U.S. cultural and tribal self-governance laws were also violated in site preparation for the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS), the Nation said.

The O'odham lawsuit states, ''Since the announcement of plans to construct a new array of telescopes and related buildings, the Nation has asserted that further building would destroy the spiritual nature of the site.''

Pressing to halt VERITAS telescope construction, the O'odham claimed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 was violated and stated that the environmental assessment and subsequent finding of ''no significant impact'' should have been sent out for review before a final document was issued. The final document alone was sent to the tribe, the Schuk Toak District, the BIA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
''This was not done. In addition, the federal official who signed the finding of no significant impact relied on a defective cultural resources report that failed to identify Kitt Peak as an Indian sacred site. Therefore the finding of no significant impact violated federal law,'' the nation said.

The United States' cultural laws were also violated. Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, a federal project's Cultural Resource Report must be sent to the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office for review. However, that report was sent neither to SHPO, the Nation nor the BIA for review.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 stipulates that a copy of the biological report for the VERITAS project must be sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for review. However, the report was not sent to the USFWS, the nation or the BIA.

Tohono O'odham Chairman Vivian Juan-Saunders said the telescope project has proceeded in defiance of tribal, state and federal laws.
''I'itoi's Garden has cultural and religious significance to our people - we have no choice but to try to halt the construction of this project,'' Juan-Saunders said in a statement.

The Tohono O'odham, entering the arena to battle a consortium of international universities and the Smithsonian Institution, took the legal action to halt telescope construction following years of pressure from O'odham spiritual leaders.

The Papago Tribal Council, whose name was changed to the Tohono O'odham Nation in 1986, rejected the plan to build telescopes on the sacred mountain three times in 1958.

''The tribe eventually agreed while voicing the cultural and spiritual significance of the mountain,'' Juan-Saunders said.

However, the Tohono O'odham Nation said the National Science Foundation failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act and the Nation's right to self-governance.

The BIA and the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office have asked NSF to comply with federal laws and regulations or halt telescope construction. In February, the BIA said VERITAS is not in ''lawful compliance'' because NSF did not comply with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

Meanwhile, Curt Suplee, director of legislative and public affairs for the NSF, said the foundation hopes to reach an out-of-court resolution that will allow the complex to be built.

The Nation has gained support from Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who has asked the NSF to address the concerns of the Tohono O'odham, BIA and other agencies.

''I am concerned about the apparent process by which the NSF has pursued and approved the construction of the VERITAS project on the Tohono O'odham Reservation, particularly in light of the Nation's express opposition and the concerns raised by federal and state agencies.''

Bush's Top 50

Don't say I never gave the man any credit...


The 50 Dumbest Things President Bush Said in His First Term

50. "I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here." —at the President's Economic Forum in Waco, Texas, Aug. 13, 2002

49. "We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." —Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001

48. "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.'' —Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001

47. "We both use Colgate toothpaste." —after a reporter asked what he had in common with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Camp David, Md., Feb. 23, 2001

46. "Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a — you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities." —Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004 (Watch video)

45. "I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves." —Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2003

44. "I'm the commander — see, I don't need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president." —as quoted in Bob Woodward's Bush at War

43. "I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport." —Washington, D.C., Oct. 3, 2001

42. "The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself." —Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 29, 2003

41. "I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America. It's pretty darn strong. I mean, the people see a better future." —Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2004

40. "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties." —discussing the Iraq war with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, as quoted by Robertson

39. "I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft." —presidential debate, St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8, 2004 (Watch video)
38. "Haven't we already given money to rich people? Why are we going to do it again?" —to economic advisers discussing a second round of tax cuts, as quoted by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil, Washington, D.C., Nov. 26, 2002

37. "We need an energy bill that encourages consumption." —Trenton, N.J., Sept. 23, 2002

36. "After standing on the stage, after the debates, I made it very plain, we will not have an all-volunteer army. And yet, this week — we will have an all-volunteer army!" —Daytona Beach, Fla., Oct. 16, 2004 (Watch video)

35. "Do you have blacks, too?" —to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001

34. "This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating." —as quoted by the New York Daily News, April 23, 2002

33. "I got to know Ken Lay when he was head of the — what they call the Governor's Business Council in Texas. He was a supporter of Ann Richards in my run in 1994. And she had named him the head of the Governor's Business Council. And I decided to leave him in place, just for the sake of continuity. And that's when I first got to know Ken and worked with Ken." —attempting to distance himself from his biggest political patron, Enron Chairman Ken Lay, whom he nicknamed "Kenny Boy," Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2002

32. "It is white." —after being asked by a child in Britain what the White House was like, July 19, 2001

31. "I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah." —at a White House menorah lighting ceremony, Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2001

30. "For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it." —Philadelphia, Penn., May 14, 2001

29. "I don't know why you're talking about Sweden. They're the neutral one. They don't have an army." —during a Dec. 2002 Oval Office meeting with Rep. Tom Lantos, as reported by the New York Times

28. "You forgot Poland." —to Sen. John Kerry during the first presidential debate, after Kerry failed to mention Poland's contributions to the Iraq war coalition, Miami, Fla., Sept. 30, 2004

27. "I'm the master of low expectations." —aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003

26. "I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things." —aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003

25. "I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe — I believe what I believe is right." —Rome, Italy, July 22, 2001

24. "We need to counter the shockwave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates." —Washington, D.C. Oct. 4, 2001

23. "People say, how can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil? You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you." —Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002

22. "I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it…I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet….I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't — you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one." —President George W. Bush, after being asked to name the biggest mistake he had made, Washington, D.C., April 3, 2004

21. "The really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway." —explaining why high taxes on the rich are a failed strategy, Annandale, Va., Aug. 9, 2004

20. "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." —radio address, Feb. 24, 2001

19. "You know, when I was one time campaigning in Chicago, a reporter said, 'Would you ever have a deficit?' I said, 'I can't imagine it, but there would be one if we had a war, or a national emergency, or a recession.' Never did I dream we'd get the trifecta." —Houston, Texas, June 14, 2002 (There is no evidence Bush ever made any such statement, despite recounting the trifecta line repeatedly in 2002. A search by the Washington Post revealed that the three caveats were brought up before the 2000 campaign — by Al Gore.)

18. "See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." —Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 3, 2003

17. "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." —State of the Union Address, Jan. 28, 2003, making a claim that administration officials knew at the time to be false

16. "In Iraq, no doubt about it, it's tough. It's hard work. It's incredibly hard." —repeating the phrases "hard work," "working hard," "hard choices," and other "hard"-based verbiage 22 times in his first debate with Sen. John Kerry

15. "The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." —Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2001

14. "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." —Washington, D.C., March 13, 2002

13. "But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me." —summing up his first year in office, three months after the 9/11 attacks, Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2001

12. "I try to go for longer runs, but it's tough around here at the White House on the outdoor track. It's sad that I can't run longer. It's one of the saddest things about the presidency." —interview with "Runners World," Aug. 2002

11. "Can we win? I don't think you can win it." —after being asked whether the war on terror was winnable, "Today" show interview, Aug. 30, 2004

10. "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace." —Washington, D.C. June 18, 2002

9. "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." —to a group of Amish he met with privately, July 9, 2004

8. "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." —speaking underneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1, 2003

7. “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories … And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." —Washington, D.C., May 30, 2003

6. "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere!" —President George W. Bush, joking about his administration's failure to find WMDs in Iraq as he narrated a comic slideshow during the Radio & TV Correspondents' Association dinner, Washington, D.C., March 24, 2004

5. "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." —Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000

4. "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." —Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002 (Watch video)

3. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." —Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004 (Watch video)

2. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004 (Watch video)

1. "My answer is bring them on." —on Iraqi insurgents attacking U.S. forces, Washington, D.C., July 3, 2003

~Compiled by Daniel Kurtzman

08 April 2005

Grief and Gratitude...

Grazie, addio...


World Mourns Pope at Rome Funeral

The funeral of Pope John Paul II has taken place in St Peter's Square.

The requiem Mass was watched by tens of thousands in the piazza, including about 200 world leaders, and many millions more around the world.

Throughout the service the Pope's wooden coffin lay in front of an altar on the steps of St Peter's Basilica.

It has now been carried inside the church, where it will be placed inside a further two coffins, before being buried in the crypts below.

Mark of respect

As the coffin was carried away from public view for the last time the bells of St Peter's tolled and the gathered pilgrims applauded, a traditional Italian mark of respect.

The three-hour ceremony was conducted by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, which will begin electing the Pope's successor on 18 April.

The service began with the Pope's wooden coffin being carried out of St Peter's and placed on the stone steps of the basilica.

The coffin, adorned with a cross and the letter 'M' for Mary, was carried out by members of the Pope's household staff and laid in front of an altar.

A book of the Gospels was opened and laid on top of the coffin.

Then one by one the attending cardinals, all dressed in red, approached the altar and bowed before taking their places.

Loyal servant

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state, blessed the body and altar with incense before Cardinal Ratzinger stepped forward to celebrate the Mass.

In his homily, or sermon, Cardinal Ratzinger traced the life of the man he called our "late beloved Pope" from his days as a labourer in Nazi-occupied Poland to supreme leader of more than one billion Roman Catholics worldwide.

He was interrupted many times by applause from the crowd.

Cardinal Ratzinger said John Paul II was a "priest to the last" who had offered his life to God and his congregation, "especially amid the sufferings of his final months".

Emotional farewell

The cardinal's voice choked with emotion as he recalled one of John Paul II's last public appearances, when he blessed the crowd gather in St Peter's Square on Easter Sunday from the window of his Vatican apartment.

"We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the father's house, that he sees us and blesses us," he said as he pointed up to the third-floor window above the square.

The Pope's body was placed in the plain cypress coffin in a private ceremony on Friday morning.

According to protocol, a white veil was draped across his face and his bishop's hat placed on his chest.

A small bag of commemorative medals from his pontificate and a brief summary of his life and papacy, sealed in a lead tube, were also placed in the coffin before it was sealed.

After the service the coffin will be placed inside two other coffins, one zinc and one oak, then buried in the crypt below St Peter's under a simple stone slab.

Polish tribute

Among those attending the funeral were US President George W Bush, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who leads the world's largest Catholic country.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei - both of them Muslims - also took part.

They joined an estimated 250,000 pilgrims packed into the piazza.

Huge crowds also gathered in the Polish city of Krakow, the city where John Paul II was cardinal before ascending to the papacy.

About one million people converged on one of the city's parks to watch the requiem Mass on a video screen

Almost every Pole has been given the day off work. Theatres, banks and supermarkets will be closed.

Pope's body is put into coffin of cypress wood and placed on altar in front of basilica
Funeral Mass includes Latin chants, psalms and readings
Cardinal Ratzinger administers communion and commends Pope's body to God
Coffin is taken to the basilica's crypt
Wooden coffin is put into a zinc coffin, which is placed in an oak casket
Casket is buried under marble slab

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/08 11:13:52 GMT


Quote of the Day

"Be not afraid..."

~~His Holiness Pope John Paul II (1920-20025)

06 April 2005

Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1923-2005)

Obituary: Prince Rainier III

Rainier III ruled a playground for the super-rich. Monaco's glamorous reputation was boosted by the staging of a Formula One Grand Prix on the capital's streets, and by the prince's marriage to the film star Grace Kelly.

Rainier was head of one of the oldest reigning dynasties in Europe and ruler of a state which, with its reputation as a gambler's paradise, Somerset Maugham once described as "a sunny place for shady people".

He had met his wife-to-be at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955. Their wedding the following year captivated the world.

Held onto power

He was the epitome of Prince Charming, she the glamorous Hollywood actress at the height of her popularity. The fairy tale lasted until her death in a car crash in 1982. He never re-married.

A descendant of the Genoese House of Grimaldi, Rainier first went to school in Britain, then Switzerland and finally attended university in France where he studied political science.

In June 1944, the now heir to the succession became second-lieutenant Grimaldi in the First Algerian Regiment of the First French Army and went through the winter campaign in Alsace.

In 1945 he received the Croix de Guerre for carrying out liaison duties under enemy fire. Two years later he was awarded the Legion of Honour with bronze star for his military service.

When he inherited the throne of Monaco in 1949, he inherited with it absolute power and was never afraid to defend the rights of his 800-year-old dynasty.

Threat from Onassis

When, in 1958, Monaco's parliament, the National Council, sought constitutional reforms to have a greater say in state affairs, he made it clear that he would tolerate no attempts to curtail his powers.

The conflict came to a head the following year over the budget. The Prince suspended the constitution, thereby dissolving the National Council.

Later he announced the appointment by decree of a national assembly chosen from among "a wide range" of Monegasque circles, who would act in the same capacity as the former National Council.

There was another attempt to curb his powers in 1962 when General de Gaulle tried to bring Monaco under French tax law. Rainier saw off the threat.

Then, in the mid-1960s, the Prince prevented an attempt by the Greek shipping owner Aristotle Onassis to buy his country's most famous institution, the casino.

The people's affection

Prince Rainier changed the law so that the casino was allowed to generate no more than 4.5% of state income.

Aware that his country had no natural resources, he used his contacts and business acumen to improve modern light industry and develop his country as a tourist resort tax-haven for the wealthy, and a fashionable centre for business conventions.

He put in place measures to put Monaco on a sound financial footing.

If the obsession of the world's gossip columns with the eventful private lives of his daughters Caroline and Stephanie hurt him, the Prince never showed it in public. His dignity did much to preserve his family's image.

Prince Rainier leaves his son, Prince Albert, a principality that may face uncertain times ahead economically, but a throne which is secure in the affections of his people.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/06 06:32:12 GMT


Saul Bellow (1915-2005)

Nobel Prize novelist Bellow dies

Novelist Saul Bellow, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976, has died in Massachusetts, aged 89.

He was brought up in Chicago, and much of his work deals with that city and the experience of Jews and immigrants in 20th Century America.

Bellow's novels included Seize The Day, Henderson The Rain King, Herzog, Mr Sammler's Planet and Humboldt's Gift.

His friend Walter Pozen said the writer had been in declining health, but was "wonderfully sharp to the end".

Bellow's wife and daughter were at his side when he died at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts, Mr Pozen told the Associated Press news agency.

'Working stiffs'

He was born Solomon Bellows near Montreal in 1915, the son of Russian immigrants, who moved to Chicago when he was nine.

He learned Hebrew at an early age, and his mother wanted him to be a Talmudic scholar, but he was always attracted to writing.

He grew up in the Depression of the 1930s, but said that he found something energising in the determination shown by people around him.

"There were people going to libraries and reading books," he said in a 1997 AP interview.

"They were going to libraries because they were trying to keep warm; they had no heat in their houses.

"There was a great deal of mental energy in those days, of very appealing sorts. Working stiffs were having ideas."


His first novel, Dangling Man, was published in 1944, and dealt with a young man's dilemma about whether to sign up for military service in World War II.

He made his name with The Adventures of Augie March in 1953, followed by Henderson the Rain King and Herzog.

In 1975, Humboldt's Gift won him a Pulitzer prize and paved the way for his Nobel award the following year.

Fellow novelist Philip Roth paid tribute to Bellow, saying he was one of two giants of the modern American fiction.

"The backbone of 20th Century American literature has been provided by two novelists - William Faulkner and Saul Bellow," Mr Roth said.

"Together they are the Melville, Hawthorne, and Twain of the 20th Century."

But Bellow himself was more cautious.

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Bellow described the modern novel as a "latter-day lean-to, a hovel in which the spirit takes shelter".

He added: "It is the best we can do just now."

Bellow was married five times, and fathered a daughter at the age of 84.

A private funeral is planned, as well as a public memorial.

Send us your tributes to Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/06 02:54:55 GMT


DeLay 'PAID family $500,000'!

Well, well, well, what the f*uck do we have here...?
Is anyone really surprised by this?


Republican 'Paid Family $500,000'

The Republican leader in the US House of Representatives reportedly paid his wife and daughter $500,000.

The payments appear in Federal Election Commission statements and separate records in Tom DeLay's home state of Texas, says the New York Times.

While other Congress members employ relatives, these payments - via political committees - are reported to be particularly generous.

Mr DeLay's aides said the women had played a valuable role.

The Times says payments to his wife, Christine, and his daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as "fund-raising fees," "campaign management" or "payroll," with no further information about how they earned the money.

'Big picture'

"Mrs DeLay provides big picture, long-term strategic guidance and helps with personnel decisions," Mr DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority committee (Armpac) said in a statement.

"Ms Ferro is a skilled and experienced professional event planner who assists Armpac in arranging and organising individual events," it added.

Mrs Ferro has run a number of Mr DeLay's re-election campaigns for his House seat.

Democratic lawmakers and watchdog groups have also alleged that Mr DeLay violated House rules on travel.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/06 18:26:55 GMT


05 April 2005

Nobel Prize Winner Gets Her Justice...

Hate, the gift that keeps on giving...


Guatemala Politicians Were Racist

Five Guatemalan politicians have been found guilty of racial discrimination against indigenous activist and Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu.

Footage of the accused shouting abuse at Ms Menchu was shown in what was the country's first racism trial.

The five, including the grandson of the former military ruler, were sentenced to three years' prison and fined $400 (£210) but can pay more to avoid jail.

About 60% of Guatemala's population is indigenous - most living in poverty.


The racist chants were made at a court hearing in October 2003 to decide whether former ruler Gen Jose Efrain Rios Montt could stand for president.

Ms Menchu opposed the candidacy of the general, who ruled the country during the bloodiest period of Guatemala's 36-year-long civil war when a total of 200,000 indigenous Maya were killed or disappeared.

Gen Rios Montt's supporters taunted her with comments such as "Go and sell tomatoes at the market, Indian" after the court ruled in their favour.

The five guilty are Gen Rios Montt's grandson Juan Carlos Rios, and four women - former lawmaker Enma Samayoa, a member of the Guatemala City-based Central American Parliament, Ana Lopez, and two activists from the Republican Front party founded by Gen Rios Montt, Mirna Orellana and Elvia Morales.

At the end of the month-long trial, the judges sentenced each of them to three years and two months in prison for discrimination and disturbing the peace.

They were also ordered to pay $400 in fines each but can avoid jail by paying $10 for each day of their sentence.

Ms Menchu won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize for her campaign for Indian rights.

She said: "Today we have a great experience that we can communicate to our children, that nobody should discriminate against anybody else, that nobody should offend the dignity of anybody else just because they speak another language or come from another part of the country."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/05 06:34:56 GMT


A Bumper Crop...

What wonderful and esteemed company we Americans find ourselveles among...


Death Penalty 'At Record Levels'

Nearly 4,000 people were executed worldwide in 2004 - the most in nearly a decade, Amnesty International says.

China carried out more executions than all other countries combined - at least 3,400 - the human rights group says.

The global rise in executions was "alarming", said Amnesty's UK director Kate Allen, who called the figures from China "genuinely frightening".

China says it will tighten conditions under which people can be executed, and the US has already done so.

The US came fourth in Amnesty's table of executions, with 59 in 2004.

Iran came second, with at least 159, followed by Vietnam with at least 64.

The 3,797 executions in 2004 were the second-largest annual total in the last 25 years, the organisation said.

And it noted that its numbers represented the minimum number of executions it could confirm.

"Many countries continue to execute people in secret," Ms Allen said.

Fairness debate

China's Premier Wen Jiabao said last month that Beijing would improve its justice system so the death penalty would be given "carefully and fairly", the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Sarah Green, a spokeswoman for Amnesty in London, welcomed the announcement, but said the group wanted action, not words.

"It is good to hear people talking about changing their systems. We look forward to seeing the results," she told the BBC News website.

The organisation has two objections to the death penalty, she said - it violates fundamental rights and is applied unfairly.

"There is lots of evidence to show this is not a perfect punishment," she says.

It was more likely to be applied to "people who cannot afford lawyers, who cannot get anyone to stand as a witness for them," she added.

"Discrimination soon enters the equation, for women in particular. It's very concerning."

US changes

The United States - one of the very few democracies on Amnesty's list - last month banned the death penalty for crimes committed by minors.

The number of death sentences is falling in the US, according to the New York Times.

A total of 144 death sentences were handed down in 2003, the lowest level since 1977, the newspaper reported.

Ms Green welcomed the fall in death sentences, but said the US should go further and ban the death penalty.

"We believe it's wrong. The cardinal basic human rights laws say there is a right to life and a right not to be punished in a cruel way."

She disputed surveys that show a majority of Americans support the death penalty.

Slightly more Americans opposed the death penalty than supported it - if a life sentence without the possibility of parole was the alternative, she said.

More than 100 people had left death row in the US when their convictions were overturned, she said.

"There is so much evidence that the death penalty is being applied unfairly, the very possibility of executing anybody who is innocent is reason not to have it," she said.

And she cited a question former UK Prime Minister Ted Heath asked of death penalty supporters: "The real test is, is that person willing to be the innocent one who is executed?"

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/04 23:24:45 GMT


03 April 2005

His Holiness Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

A Prayer for the Pope (from the Diné tradition):

In the house made of dawn.
In the story made of dawn.
On the trail of dawn.
O, Talking God.
His feet, my feet, restore.
His limbs, my limbs, restore.
His body, my body, restore.
His mind, my mind, restore.
His voice, my voice, restore.
His plumes, my plumes, restore.

With beauty before him, with beauty before me.
With beauty behind him, with beauty behind me.
With beauty above him, with beauty above me.
With beauty below him, with beauty below me.
With beauty around him, with beauty around me.

With pollen beautiful in his voice, with pollen beautiful in my voice.
It is finished in beauty. It is finished in beauty.
In the house of evening light.
From the story made of evening light.
On the trail of evening light...

Walk in Beauty --ryan

Obituary: Pope John Paul II

Karol Wojtyla's election as Pope in 1978 stunned the Catholic world. Not one expert had tipped the 58-year-old bishop of Krakow for the top job.

His stand against Poland's Communist regime had brought him respect. But he was not part of the Vatican "in-crowd" and, above all, he was the first non-Italian pope in more than 450 years.

He went on to become one of the most familiar faces in the world. His papal odyssey covered more than 120 countries and he earned himself the reputation of an international fighter for freedom.

But, to his critics, John Paul II was the arch-conservative - an autocrat whose pronouncements on abortion, contraception and women's rights have had an effect on millions of lives.

Theologian in hiding

The youngest pope of the 20th Century was born near Krakow, Poland, in 1920. As a young man he excelled at sports, including soccer and skiing. He also had a great love for the theatre and, at one time, seriously considered becoming an actor.

World War II and the Nazi occupation saw Karol Wojtyla working as a labourer. He studied theology from 1942 and was forced into hiding in 1944 following a crackdown on religious teaching.

Continuing his studies after the war, he was ordained a priest in 1946. Rapid promotion followed and by 1964 he was archbishop of the city. Three years later he was a cardinal.

Throughout, he had continued his theological studies and was often seen in Rome, but no more than dozens of other cardinals from distant and obscure dioceses.


"The Year of the Three Popes" came in 1978. Pope Paul VI died at the age of 80. His successor, elected in a single day, took the name John Paul in memory of his two predecessors. Thirty-three days later he, too, was dead.

Once again the College of Cardinals conducted the centuries-old ritual of a papal election in the Sistine Chapel. After two days of deliberation, Karol Wojtyla became the next successor to St Peter.

Taking the name John Paul II, the new pontiff signalled a new era in Catholic affairs. He was dynamic and approachable, an instantly recognisable leader for the world's largest Christian community.

Above all, he travelled. On an early trip to Ireland, he appealed to the men of violence to return to the ways of peace. American Catholics saw him reject all calls for a change in moral teaching.

Ecumenical services

But his insistence on getting close to crowds almost led to his death in May 1981. Leaning out of his vehicle in St Peter's Square, he was shot and seriously wounded by a Turkish fanatic. After a long recovery, he visited and forgave his would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca.

In 1982 he visited Britain. This was a historically charged trip made all the more important as it occurred during the Falklands crisis. For the first time since the Reformation, the Pope met the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Pope appealed for a peaceful end to the Falklands issue, a plea which was mirrored in a visit to Argentina days later. He participated in a number of ecumenical services with the Church of England, something unthinkable in previous eras.

Huge crowds, Catholic and Protestant, attended his every move and the talk was of union between Rome and Canterbury - a union which today seems as far away as ever, because of the issue of women priests.

Influential in eastern bloc

With the break-up of the Soviet bloc, relations between the Kremlin and the Vatican gained a new significance. In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev visited Rome, the first time a Soviet leader had crossed the threshold of St Peter's.

"The Pope," he told his wife Raisa at the time, "is the pre-eminent moral authority in the world. But he's still a Slav." The understanding between the two men undoubtedly eased the way to democracy in the eastern bloc.

The collapse of Communism coincided with increasing demands in the West for a compromise on religious teaching. By consistently rejecting these calls, John Paul effectively closed the debate before it had started.

He was a complex man. While calling for action to combat world poverty, he insisted that contraception was morally unacceptable. He said that he wanted to improve the status of women while writing that motherhood should be a woman's natural aspiration.

Reign saw great change

He frequently criticised the liberalism which he saw all around him. Homosexuals incurred both his wrath and his pity, to the dismay of campaigners for gay rights.

Although dogged by ill-health in later years, the journeys continued - to Cuba, Nigeria, former Yugoslav republics and the Holy Land, each with its own particular set of pastoral and political problems.

In 2002, the Pope made an emotional and nostalgic final visit to his homeland, flying over his birthplace in Wadowice and visiting the graves of his parents and brother in Krakow.

Once again, vast crowds turned out to see the man many Poles regarded as a living saint and who had, they believed, played a key role in liberating them from Communism.

John Paul's reign also saw other radical changes throughout the world - including the emergence of Aids.

And he had to deal with an increasing number of sex abuse scandals which have recently beset the Catholic Church.

Throughout his reign, his work to maintain the dignity of mankind against what he saw as the dangers of modern life, together with his personal magnetism, made Pope John Paul II one of the most remarkable men of his times.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/04/02 20:11:47 GMT