Archive for August, 2010

Judge Refuses to Block Tax on Indian Cigarettes; Tribes Warn of Violence

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Posted: Monday, 30 August 2010 5:12PM

Buffalo, NY (WBEN/AP) — A State Supreme Court judge has refused to block the state from collecting taxes on cigarettes sold to non-Indians by Native American retailers.

The Seneca Nation of Indians had been trying to delay the taxation of reservation cigarette sales by challenging the way that New York adopted the regulations it intends to use to enforce the tax, beginning this Wednesday, September 1.

A lawyer for the Senecas argued in court Monday that state officials circumvented proper procedures by adopting emergency rules adopting emergency rules, outlining how the $4.35-per-pack tax would be imposed.

For that reason, the Senecas said, a 2009 court order blocking the state from taxing cigarette sales to non-Indian customers should remain in place. The state argued that the new regulations make that order moot, and it should be lifted.

A separate Seneca challenge to the tax is pending in federal court. U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara said last week he was going to wait to hear the State Supreme Court judge’s decision, before making his own.

Meanwhile, a Seneca Tribal Councilor is warning that if the state is allowed to proceed with its plan to levy the taxes starting on Wednesday, “some people could resort to violence.”

Listen to the full hour of Sugar Montour and Sandy Beach’s conversation.

WBEN Extra: Cigarettes, Sovereignty and Taxes

Sugar Montour told WBEN’s Sandy Beach on Monday, “In 1997, we had this issue with Governor Pataki. Governor Pataki took a position that, he was going to enforce the tax laws on the Seneca territory, and on other Native territories. We fought that vehemently. We fought it in court, and unfortunately, we ended up where we had a physical confrontation with New York State authorities.”

“Where we are today, we’ve learned a lot from that,” Montour said. He explained to Sandy Beach that one of the major changes that the Senecas and other tribes have made over the last 13 years is slowly phasing many national brands out of their inventories, and selling mostly cigarette brands that are manufactured on the reservations – brands including Seneca, Heron, Buffalo and others.

Montour noted that under the Indian nations’ treaties with the federal government, they are obligated to pay federal excise taxes on their tobacco products. But the state taxes, he says, only apply to national brands that Native Americans acquire from wholesalers. Native brands, he argued, should not be subject to state taxes. He also rejected the claim that not enforcing state taxes gives Native American tobacco retailers an unfair competitive advantage.

“When you hear the [New York State] Association of Convenience Stores and other different people saying yes, the taxes should be applicable, we can see where they’re coming from as New York State residents and citizens,” Montour said. “One of the things we also want people to understand is, in our jurisdiction, fees are paid. They’re paid to the Seneca nation. Eighty to 90 percent of [the cigarettes sold on reservations] are products that are made by Native people, mostly Senecas, and are distributed here on our territories and exclusively sold in Native stores. The argument that there’s an unlevel playing field; we feel that that has gone away. You can’t go into a local store and buy the Seneca brand.”

“We have come a long way in the last 13 years, and I think the legal system and the State Legislature have not been brought up-to-date on the changes in Indian country,” Montour remarked. We are paying the federal excise tax. We’re just alking about state taxes. People say, ‘Well, why should they not be taxed?’ All of our treaties are with the federal government. We pay our federal taxes.”

Montour summed his point up by saying, “Our argument is, we’ve made our agreements, we’ve made our treaties, we are following through on our side of that by paying our taxes.”

But the state doesn’t see it that way, and Montour has the sense that New York and its Native American population are on the fast-track to another confrontation like the one that happened in 1997.

“Unfortunately, should these things move forward the way they’re going… in two more days, I fear that there will be violence. I fear for my family, and I fear also for the people who are going to be sent here… maybe on our territories, maybe on the front lines… Natives fighting the State Police, fighting the Taxation and Finance Department. There is not a single instance where someone can say, ‘This is worth going to battle over.'”

The Seneca Nation issued this statement following the State Supreme Court’s decision:

“We are disappointed State Supreme Court Justice Siwek did not keep the tax impositions injunction in place, however,  our legal efforts are far from over. We will be filing an expedited appeal motion with the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court and we remain hopeful Judge Arcara will grant our request a Temporary Restraining Order in the separate Federal case. We will return to federal court tomorrow afternoon to renew our motion for the TRO. It is our intention to block the New York State from ever collecting a penny of tax on sales of tobacco by the Seneca Nation or any other Native American nation under this ill-conceived taxing scheme.”

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Categories: Americas

Leaked UN report accuses Rwanda of possible genocide in Congo

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Unprecedented investigation by human rights commissioner says Hutu deaths ‘cannot be put down to margins of war’

Hutu refugees at UN’s Goma camp A UN Goma camp area in 1994. Two years later, the Rwandan army attacked the Goma camps, which were full of Hutu refugees, forcing hundreds of thousands deeper into Zaire. Photograph: Jon Jones/Sygma/CorbisThe United Nations has accused Rwanda of wholesale war crimes, including possibly genocide, during years of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An unprecedented 600-page investigation by the UN high commissioner for human rights catalogues years of murder, rape and looting in a conflict in which hundreds of thousands were slaughtered.

A draft version of the report, revealed by Le Monde and expected to be published next month, says the abuses, over a period of seven years and two invasions by Rwanda, amount to “crimes against humanity, war crimes, or even genocide” because the principal targets of the violence were Hutus, who were killed in their tens of thousands.

Among the accusations is that Rwandan forces and local allies rounded up hundreds of men, women and children at a time and butchered them with hoes and axes. On other occasions Hutu refugees were bayoneted, burned alive or killed with hammer blows in large numbers.

It is the first time the UN has published such forthright allegations against Rwanda, a close ally of Britain and the US.

The Rwandan government reacted angrily to the report today, dismissing it as “amateurish” and “outrageous” after reportedly attempting to pressure the UN not to publish it by threatening to pull out of international peacekeeping missions. Rwanda’s Tutsi leaders will be particularly discomforted by the accusation of genocide when they have long claimed the moral high ground for bringing to an end the 1994 genocide in their own country. But the report was welcomed by human rights groups, which called for the prosecution of those responsible for war crimes.

The report by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) covers two periods: Rwanda’s 1996 invasion of the country then called Zaire in pursuit of Hutu soldiers and others who fled there after carrying out the 1994 genocide of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis, and a second invasion two years later that broadened into a regional war involving eight countries.

Rwanda’s attack on Zaire in 1996 was initially aimed at clearing the vast UN refugee camps around Goma and Bukavu, which were being used as cover by Hutu armed forces to continue the war against the new Tutsi-led government in Kigali.

Hundreds of thousands of the more than 1 million Hutus in eastern Zaire were forced back to Rwanda. Many more, including men who carried out the genocide but also large numbers of women and children, fled deeper into Zaire. They were pursued and attacked by the Rwandan army and a Zairean rebel group sponsored by Kigali, the AFDL.

The UN report describes “the systematic, methodical and premeditated nature of the attacks on the Hutus [which] took place in all areas where the refugees had been tracked down”.

“The pursuit lasted months and, occasionally, humanitarian aid intended for them was deliberately blocked, notably in the eastern province, thus depriving them of things essential to their survival,” the report said.

“The extent of the crimes and the large number of victims, probably in the several tens of thousands, are demonstrated by the numerous incidents detailed in the report. The extensive use of non-firearms, particularly hammers, and the systematic massacres of survivors after camps were taken prove that the number of deaths cannot be put down to the margins of war. Among the victims were mostly children, women, old and ill people.”

The report goes on to say that “the systematic and widespread attacks have a number of damning elements which, if proved before a competent court, could be described as crimes of genocide”.

The UN also adds that while Kigali has permitted Hutus to return to Rwanda in large numbers, that did not “rule out the intention of destroying part of an ethnic group as such and thus committing a crime of genocide”.

The Zairean army collapsed in the face of the invasion and Rwanda seized the opportunity to march across the country and overthrow the longstanding dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko. Laurent Kabila was installed as president. He promptly changed the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Rwanda invaded again in 1998 after accusing the new regime of continuing to support Hutu rebels. The following five years of war drew in armies from eight nations as well as 21 rebel groups in a conflict that quickly descended in to mass plunder of the DRC’s minerals as well as a new wave of war crimes.

The UN report accuses Angolan forces of using the cover of the war to attack refugees from Angola’s conflict-plagued Cabinda province who had fled to the DRC. Angola is accused of “executing all those they suspected of colluding with their enemies”. Angolan soldiers also raped and looted, the UN investigation said.

International human rights groups welcomed the UN report and said it should be used to bring the accused to trial. “This is a very important report,” said Human Rights Watch. “We hope that it can form the basis for ending the impunity that has protected the people responsible for some of these crimes.”

The UN’s damning conclusions will prove hugely embarrassing to Rwanda, which is attempting to project itself as a rapidly modernising state that has put its brutal recent history behind it.

President Paul Kagame’s office attempted to dismiss the report. “It’s an amateurish NGO job, and it’s outrageous,” said a spokeswoman, Yolande Makolo. “Nobody reasonable believes that it’s helpful to anybody. The countries mentioned in the draft report have rejected it and will continue to reject it.”

Makolo did not comment on reports that Kagame last month warned the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, that Rwanda would pull its troops out of peacekeeping missions in Darfur and elsewhere if the report was made public. Le Monde said that threat was reiterated in a letter to Ban by Rwanda’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights, said the leaked draft was not the final version and the report to be published next month had undergone revisions.

“It’s only a draft from about two months ago and the proper final version will come up very soon,” he said.

But if there are substantial differences, the UN is likely to stand accused of bowing to pressure from Rwanda.

Atrocities detailed in the OHCHR document seen by Le Monde

Kinigi, 7 December 1996 “Elements from the AFDL/APR killed nearly 310 civilians, many of them women and children. The troops had accused the local population, mostly Hutu, of sheltering Interahamwe [Hutu paramilitaries, who] had already left the village. At first the troops sought to reassure the civilians [whom they gathered together] in several buildings, including the adventist church and the primary school. In the afternoon, troops entered these buildings and killed the villagers with hoes or axes to the head.”

Luberizi, 29 October 1996 “Elements from the AFDL/APR/FAB [Burundi’s armed forces] killed around 200 male refugees. The victims were part of a group of refugees told by the troops to regroup so that they could be repatriated to Rwanda. The troops separated the men from the rest of the group and killed them with bayonets or bullets. The bodies were then buried in mass graves [near to] the church.”

Bwegera, 3 November 1996 “They burned alive 72 Rwandan refugees in Cotonco (cotton company) headquarters, one kilometre from the village.”

Mutiko, December 1996 “Special units from the AFDL/APR started to hunt down refugees, killing several hundred. Once they had been intercepted at barriers put up by the troops, the victims were given food and told to get into UN lorries waiting at the exit of the village. The victims were then taken out on to the road, then killed with blows to the head with canes, hammers and axes. The troops encouraged the local population to take part in the killings.”

• This article was amended on 27 August 2010. A heading in the timeline above suggested that the human rights report came from the UNHCR. This has been corrected.

RDF troops marching through a village in Congo

Video (10min 25sec), Congo: Knowing the enemy

9 Dec 2009:

Photojournalist Susan Schulman travels to Congo with the Rwandan defence force as part of a groundbreaking attempt to destroy Rwandan Hutu militia the Interahamwe, also known as the FDLR

Voters line up to cast their ballots in June 2008 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Gallery (15 pictures): My key moments in Africa

27 Mar 2009:

Chris McGreal’s key moments from his 20 years in Africa


Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Beware… A message to us all from ‘Tim’

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

by Luc Majno on Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 5:38am

…  My sister Bunny was in Alaska in ~ 1966 when Alaska had their big earthquake (she lost some dear friends in it) and she said the only thing the Red Cross did was try to take the credit for all the hard work the Salvation Army did.

When we were in Cambodia a few years ago we met a Dr. Beat Richter (?) – founder of 3 children’s hospitals.  He has no use for WHO (World Health Organization) or UNICEF.  He stated they would come and stay in Siem Reap (next to Angor Wat – World Heritage site) in hotels for $375 to $525 a night and tell him they didn’t have the funds to support his hospitals and he should expect a high mortality rate for children in his 3rd world country.  The maximum cost for saving a child’s life from most things was no more than $325!


  • Marsha J. Evans, President and CEO of the American Red Cross… salary for year ending 06/30/03 was $651,957 plus expenses.
  • Brian Gallagher, President of the United Way receives a $375,000 base salary, plus numerous expense benefits.
  • UNICEF CEO receives $1,200,000 per year plus all expenses and a ROLLS ROYCE where ever he goes and only cents of your dollar goes to the cause.
  • The Salvation Army’s Commissioner Todd Bassett receives a salary of only $13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization.


Categories: Correspondence, Environment Tags:

Sarkozy’s crackdown on Roma camps adds fuel to criticism at home and abroad

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

By Edward Cody

Washington Post Foreign Service Monday, August 30, 2010; 6:42 PM

PARIS – Much of France has returned from summer vacation in a rancorous mood, disturbed by a crackdown ordered by President Nicolas Sarkozy against illegal Roma camps and naturalized immigrant youths who attack police in troubled suburbs.

The campaign, in which 50 of about 300 Roma, or Gypsy, camps have been destroyed since July, has added to political discontent already swelling over Sarkozy’s plans to push back the retirement age from 60 to 62 and suggestions that a minister in his cabinet, Eric Woerth, used his influence to place his wife in a job helping manage the fortune of France’s wealthiest woman. But the unease over the action against illegal Roma immigrants, most from Romania and Bulgaria, has been particularly strong, with the expulsions drawing criticism at home and abroad.

Full article


Categories: World

The sheen is from the oil…

August 30, 2010 Leave a comment

    This is the Modis May 28 pic.

Also, Modis close up pics are not always available.

The entire gulf is now covered by the glinty sheen of oil
+ dispersant oil mix. Yes that is oil, not some rogue optical effect.
It is caused by dispersed oil particles and very very smooth calm water (oil on troubled waters).

How can we be sure? Simple — just look at these 50 other modis pictures – – the sheen appears nowhere else in the world – –
and you will notice that the florida coast and florida keys and yucatan and cuba have lost that beautiful blue green color they once had. (bahamas shallows are still blue green as IS THE REMAINDER OF THE TROPICAL WORLD)

Florida, Yucatan, Cuba May 28

close up is not always available– –

Near-Real-Time Level-2 Browse

Submitted by Fred Manfredi


Categories: Environment

Irish-made medicine a life-saver for heart patients

August 30, 2010 Leave a comment

By Eilish O’Regan Health Correspondent

Monday August 30 2010

A MEDICINE made in Ireland can significantly reduce the risk of death and hospitalisation in patients with serious heart disease, a major study revealed yesterday.

The largest ever global study into heart failure said the medicine ivabradine is likely to have a major new role to play in saving lives by slowing down hearts that beat too fast.

It is made by the French multinational Servier at its plant in Arklow, Co Wicklow, where 300 people are employed.

The results of the study published in ‘The Lancet’ medical journal were presented to the European Society of Cardiology in Stockholm yesterday.

Full article


Categories: Health, Medical

The Ghost of Oreo: A dead dog continues to haunt New York City and the no-kill movement.

August 30, 2010 Leave a comment

By Michael Mountain

In Hamlet, the ghost of a murdered king haunts the palace and the nation. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” mutters one of the courtiers. Blood has already been spilled, and before the end of the tragedy, more will flow in order to cleanse what is rotten and restore the balance.

Oreo was not a king. She was a pit bull dog, abused by a young hoodlum in New York City who, in June 2009, ended up throwing the dog off the roof of his apartment building. Oreo survived and was taken to the ASPCA shelter. They repaired her broken legs, looked after her for several months, and raised funds in her name before concluding that they could not deal with her aggressive tendencies. Then they killed her….

Responding to the call of conscience….

Jennifer Bowman interviews Jason Miller


Jennifer Bowman: So let’s cut right to the chase. In some of your recent writings, you’ve indicated that you’re dealing with some serious challenges in your life right now. What are they?

Jason Miller: Aside from the systemic backlash resulting from my vigorous activism, I’m dealing with a number of serious personal issues. Some of these were self-inflicted and some weren’t. Either way, I need to deal with them.

I was so absorbed in my activism for about a year that I let certain aspects of my life get away from me, in a manner of speaking. As many of you may have already read, I’m a recovering alcoholic (since 1992—hence my straightedge beliefs). However, I got away from some of my spiritual and intellectual efforts to manage my passion and set aside working the Twelve Steps, which tends to land me into trouble. Fortunately, I’m back on the path I need to follow, which still includes vegan-ism of course, and have turned to the painful task of cleaning up my messes.

JB: What do you mean by “systemic backlash resulting….

Roundabout as Conflict-avoidance versus Malcolm X’s Psychology of Liberation

by Denis Rancourt

August 25th, 2010

Simulposted with Dissident Voice

In the present essay I introduce the general notion of “roundabout” as a mechanism of conflict avoidance used by privileged social justice activists. I then contrast this pseudo-liberation activism with the needed true liberation activism of Malcolm X, which I argue to be consistent with the model of liberation of Freire.


The now familiar concept of “pacifism as pathology” was introduced by Ward Churchill as the central characteristic of First-World middleclass so-called social justice activism. Churchill argued from history that all liberations were leveraged through violence and proposed that pacifism as cowardice was pathology.1

Gandhi stated that it was better to practice armed resistance than to use pacifism as an excuse for cowardice.2 Both men (Churchill and Ghandi) saw acceptance of and self-justification for one’s ….

A gluttonous and obscene spectacle that glorified “bacon”

Journal Entry by Jason Miller


Astoundingly, the Rehabilitation Institute (Founded in 1947, the Rehabilitation Institute provides medical rehabilitation and employment placement services for children and adults who have experienced a catastrophic injury or illness or injury resulting in a significant disability. The Institute’s array of services address the most basic activities of daily living including mobility, communication and self care to more complex issues related to driving, living independently, attending school or working.) chose to raise funds by putting on a gluttonous and obscene spectacle that glorified “bacon.”

Check it out:

What a perverse irony that an entity that exists to alleviate suffering would gleefully endorse and promote the abject barbarism and misery to which pigs are subjected to produce “bacon.” Further, as a rehabilitation service which no doubt counts stroke victims amongst its clients, it is absurd and unconscionable that they would aggrandize “meat….


Categories: Animal Cruelty