Wednesday, May 14, 2008


On May 1, the BBC website reported an attack on Somalia with the words:

“Air raid kills Somali militants.”

One might think the BBC’s headline would identify the agency responsible for the bombing, but the first few sentences also shed no light:

“The leader of the military wing of an Islamist insurgent organisation in Somalia has been killed in an overnight air strike.

“Aden Hashi Ayro, al-Shabab's military commander, died when his home in the central town of Dusamareb was bombed.

“Ten other people, including a senior militant, are also reported dead.” (

Only in the fourth sentence, was responsibility ascribed:

“A US military spokesman told the BBC that it had attacked what he called a known al-Qaeda target in Somalia.”

English teachers often illustrate use of the passive form with the sentence: ‘A man has been arrested.’ The passive is preferable, students are told, because the active form, ‘The police have arrested a man,’ contains a redundancy - the agent is already indicated by the action. There’s no need to actually mention ‘the police’.

Likewise, the BBC takes for granted that the US is the world’s policeman; no need to mention it by name. The action of bombing an impoverished Third World country already indicates the agent. This also helps explain why no mention was made of the illegality of this act of aggression.

On the rare occasions when the media mention the conflict in Somalia at all, the focus tends to fall on US attempts to hunt down al Qaeda, or on the West’s alleged humanitarian motives. Other priorities were indicated in 1992 when the US political weekly The Nation referred to Somalia as "one of the most strategically sensitive spots in the world today: astride the Horn of Africa, where oil, Islamic fundamentalism and Israeli, Iranian and Arab ambitions and arms are apt to crash and collide." (December 21, 1992)

In December 2006, the US backed the invasion of Somalia by its close Ethiopian ally to overthrow the Islamist government, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). Christian Ethiopia is a historic enemy of Somalia, which is made up entirely of Sunni Muslims.

On December 4 of that year, General John Abizaid, the commander of US forces from the Middle East through Afghanistan, travelled to Addis Ababa to meet the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi. Three weeks later, Ethiopian forces crossed into Somalia and Washington launched a series of supportive air strikes. The Guardian quoted a former intelligence officer familiar with the region:

"The meeting was just the final handshake.” (Xan Rice and Suzanne Goldenberg, 'The American connection: How US forged an alliance with Ethiopia over invasion,' The Guardian, January 13, 2007)

Political analyst James Petras commented:

Somalia... was invaded by mercenaries by Ethiopia, trained, financed, armed and directed by US military advisers.” (Petras, ‘The Imperial System: Hierarchy, Networks and Clients - The Case of Somalia,’ Dissident Voice, February 18, 2007;

USA Today reported in January 2007 that the US had “quietly poured weapons and military advisers into Ethiopia,” which had received nearly $20 million in US military aid since late 2002. The report added:

“The [Somalia] intervention is controversial in Ethiopia, where the Meles government has become increasingly repressive, said Chris Albin-Lackey, an African researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The Meles government has limited the power of the opposition in parliament and arrested thousands. A government inquiry concluded that security forces fatally shot, beat or strangled 193 people who protested election fraud in 2005.” ( world/2007-01-07-ethiopia_x.htm)

Petras noted that, having driven the last of the warlords from Mogadishu and most of the countryside, the ICU had established a government which was welcomed by the great majority of Somalis and covered over 90% of the population:

“The ICU was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion. Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs. The ICU is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians. Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation.” (Petras, op. cit)

Martin Fletcher wrote in the Times of the ICU:

“I am no apologist for the courts. Their leadership included extremists with dangerous intentions and connections. But for six months they achieved the near-impossible feat of restoring order to a country that appeared ungovernable...

"The courts were less repressive than our Saudi Arabian friends. They publicly executed two murderers (a fraction of the 24 executions in Texas last year), and discouraged Western dancing, music and films, but at least people could walk the streets without being robbed or killed. That trumps most other considerations. Ask any Iraqi.

“The Islamists have now been replaced - with Washington's connivance - by a weak, fragile Government that was created long before the courts won power, that includes the very warlords they defeated and relies for survival on Somalia's worst enemy.” (Fletcher, ‘The Islamists were the one hope for Somalia,’ The Times, January 8, 2007)

It was clear to many commentators that the Ethiopian invasion would prove disastrous. Three months later, the Daily Telegraph reported:

“A new humanitarian crisis is rapidly taking shape in the Horn of Africa where eight days of heavy fighting in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, has forced about 350,000 people to flee.

“Artillery fire has devastated large areas of the city, forcing about one third of its population to leave. Yesterday Mogadishu's main hospital was shelled.

“The plains around Mogadishu are filled with refugees enduring desperate conditions with little food or shelter. The fighting began when Somalia's internationally recognised government, supported by Ethiopian troops, launched an offensive against insurgents.” (Mike Pflanz, ‘Fighting brings fresh misery to Somalia,’ Telegraph, April 26, 2007)

The Telegraph cited a British aid worker: "They are bombing anything that moves.”

Catherine Weibel, from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees was also quoted:

"Everyone we are talking to says this is the worst situation they have seen in 16 years since the last government fell.”

The War On Terror... And The Real Concern

The preferred media framework for making sense of US actions closely parallels cold war mythology. We are to believe the US is passionately, even blindly, battling ideological enemies in an effort to protect itself and the West. Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland could be relied upon to paint this picture of events:

“A fortnight ago the Ethiopians entered Somalia to topple the Islamist forces who had just taken Mogadishu. Americans dislike that Islamist movement, fearing it has the makings of an African Taliban, so they backed the Ethiopians to take it out. According to Patrick Smith, the editor of Africa Confidential, the war on terror is fast becoming a cold war for the 21st century, with the US finding proxy allies to fight proxy enemies in faraway places.” (Freedland, ‘Like a deluded compulsive gambler, Bush is fuelling a new cold war,’ The Guardian, January 10, 2007)

If this sounds curiously simplistic, even childish, it is. In fact, the cold war, like the “war on terror”, was far less ideological, far more prosaic, than journalists like Freedland claim. Historian Howard Zinn has, for example, commented on the Vietnam war, which the BBC would have us believe “was America's attempt to stop Communists from toppling one country after another in South East Asia” ( documentaries/2008/04/080327_mylai_partone.shtml):

“When I read the hundreds of pages of the Pentagon Papers entrusted to me by [military analyst] Daniel Ellsberg, what jumped out at me were the secret memos from the National Security Council. Explaining the U.S. interest in Southeast Asia, they spoke bluntly of the country's motives as a quest for ‘tin, rubber, oil.’” (

Ethiopia’s invasion coincided with the Pentagon's goal of creating a new ‘Africa Command’ to deal with what the Christian Science Monitor described as: “Strife, oil, and Al Qaeda.” Richard Whittle wrote:

“The creation of the new command will be more than an exercise in shuffling bureaucratic boxes, experts say. The US government's motives include countering Al Qaeda's known presence in Africa, safeguarding future oil supplies, and competing with China, which has been courting African governments in its own quest for petroleum, they suggest.” (Richard Whittle, ‘Pentagon to train a sharper eye on Africa,’ January 5, 2007; /2007/0105/p02s01-usmi.html)

As Andy Rowell and James Marriott have noted, the key fact is that “some 30 per cent of America's oil will come from Africa in the next ten years". (Rowell and Marriott, A Game as Old as Empire - The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption, edited by Steven Hiatt, Berrett-Koehler, 2007, p.118)

The US has plans for nearly two-thirds of Somalia's oil fields to be allocated to the US oil companies Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips. The US hopes Somalia will line up as an ally alongside Ethiopia and Djibouti, where the US has a military base. This alliance would give America powerful leverage close to the major energy-producing regions.

Chatham House, a British think tank of the independent Royal Institute of International Affairs, commented on US and Ethiopian intervention last year:

"In an uncomfortably familiar pattern, genuine multilateral concern to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Somalia has been hijacked by unilateral actions of other international actors - especially Ethiopia and the United States - following their own foreign policy agendas.” (

Catastrophic Crisis

This ‘hijacking’ has had truly appalling consequences. More than one million people have been made internal refugees, and the UN food security unit warned last week that 3.5 million people, half of Somalia's population, are facing famine. Fighting has turned Mogadishu into a ghost town. About 700,000 people have fled – out of a population of up to 1.5 million. The International Committee of the Red Cross describes Somalia’s crisis as “catastrophic.” ( /5/thousands_of_somalis_protest_deadly_us)

Soaring food prices have driven thousands of protestors onto the streets of the capital, Mogadishu. On May 5, Professor Abdi Samatar, a professor of geography and global studies at the University of Minnesota, told the US website Democracy Now:

“Well, what you see in Mogadishu over the last year and a half or so, since the Ethiopian invasion, which was sanctioned by the US government, has destroyed virtually all the life-sustaining economic systems which the population have built without the government for the last fifteen, sixteen years.” ( 5/thousands_of_somalis_protest_deadly_us)

A kilo of rice, which previously sold at around seventy US cents, now costs as much as $2.50. The average day’s income for anyone fortunate enough to have a job is less than a dollar a day. The gap between incomes and the cost of food primarily imported from overseas means that millions of people cannot afford to eat.

Last week, Amnesty International reported that it had obtained scores of accounts of killings by Ethiopian troops that Somalis have described as "slaughtering [Somalis] like goats." In one case, "a young child's throat was slit by Ethiopian soldiers in front of the child's mother.” (

Amnesty reported that during sweeps through neighbourhoods, Ethiopian forces placed snipers on roofs, and civilians were unable to move about for fear of being shot:

“While some sniper fire appeared to be directed at suspected members of anti-TFG [Transitional Federal Government] armed groups, reports indicate that civilians were also frequently caught in indiscriminate fire. In many cases families were forced to carry their wounded to medical care in wheelbarrows and on donkeys because ambulance drivers would not operate their vehicles due to general insecurity, including sniper fire. As a result, it has become very difficult for civilians to access medical care.”

The British government has consistently downplayed both the gravity of the crisis and the murderous behaviour of Ethiopian forces. In the Foreign Office's latest annual human rights assessment of Somalia there was no mention of Ethiopia, let alone the conduct of its troops. No surprise - Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of UK aid in Africa and, as discussed, is an important regional ally.

The Media Follow The Government Lead

Predictably, the government’s strategic silence is reflected in press reporting. In the last year, the words ‘Somalia’ and ‘famine’ have appeared in a grand total of seven British broadsheet newspaper articles discussing the topic. Of the few references to the latest US attack in the British press over the last week, only the Independent and the Sunday Times made briefs references to Somalia’s humanitarian crisis. The Independent noted that life for Somalia's nine million residents has become “unbearable”. The Guardian merely quoted Reuters:

“Western security services have long seen Somalia as a haven for militants. Warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre in 1991, casting the country into chaos.” (Reuters, ‘US airstrike kills head of al-Qaida in Somalia,’ Guardian International, May 2, 2008)

The Amnesty report was mentioned in three broadsheet newspapers. Of these, the Guardian failed to mention the US role at all. Ian Black commented:

Ethiopia sent in troops in December 2006 and ejected them. Since then, Mogadishu has been caught up in a guerrilla war between the government and its Ethiopian allies and the Islamist insurgents. Up to 1 million Somalians are internally displaced.” (Ian Black, ‘Somali refugees speak of horrific war crimes,’ The Guardian, May 7, 2008)

By contrast, a short Independent piece led with the US role:

“Amnesty International has called for the role of the United States in Somalia to be investigated, following publication of a report accusing its allies of committing war crimes.” ( /world/politics/call-for-inquiry-into-us -role-in-somalia-822166.html)

Amnesty's Dave Copeman was cited:

"There are major countries that have significant influence. The US, EU and European countries need to exert that influence to stop these attacks."

This is the sole reference to Copeman’s comments in the entire national UK press.

Professor Samatar commented on the latest US attack:

“[I]t’s quite befuddling to Somalis and many other peace-loving people around the world as to why the United States has chosen to bomb people who are desperate for assistance and food, and who have been dislocated and traumatised by an Ethiopian invasion, a country that has its own people under tyranny in itself.”

The Truth Of ‘Our Leaders‘

With our shared responsibility for the catastrophe in Somalia buried out of sight, the Telegraph reported this week:

“Gordon Brown urged the Burmese authorities to give ‘unfettered access’ to humanitarian agencies. ‘We now estimate that two million people face famine or disease as a result of the lack of co-operation of the Burmese authorities. This is completely unacceptable,’ he said.” (Alan Brown, ‘Burmese officials “are seizing emergency aid and selling it for profit”,’ Daily Telegraph, May 13, 2008)

The great lie is that we are represented by people like Gordon Brown, described as ‘our leaders’. Because they represent us and we are not monsters, we are to believe that ‘our leaders’ are seeking to resolve problems afflicting humanity in general, while working more specifically to protect us from terrorism and other threats. In other words, we are to believe that ‘our leaders’, like us, are rational, compassionate and well-intentioned.

The truth is very different. In fact we are free to chose from parties and leaders who all represent the same interests of concentrated state-corporate power - the tiny fraction of the population that owns much of the country and runs its business.

Crucially, ’our leaders’ front a political system that has an overwhelming advantage in high-tech military power. They are all too willing to use this power to convulse countries with bloodshed when doing so supports their lucrative version of economic ’order’. Iraq is the obvious example - Somalia is another.

’Our leaders’ rule in the name of democracy, but they act in the interests of a narrow, extremely violent kleptocracy.


The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Ask the following journalists why they are not doing more to expose Western responsibility for the catastrophe in Somalia.

Write to Ian Black

Write to Simon Kelner, editor of the Independent

Write to Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian

Please send a copy of your emails to us

A Hungry Planet

A Hungry Planet

The full special is available on our Latest Broadcast page starting at 10:00 p.m. EDT Wednesday. Full streaming video of this special will be available and archived on this web page on Thursday.

**Web exclusive** - More questions and answers about the food crisis from our experts available here.

Watch and comment on our question-and-answer with Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda here

Find out more about our panellists.

Read the full list of questions about the food crisis that you, our viewers, posted to our website.

Listen to the CBC podcast of Sunday Edition, where Frances Moore Lappé was recently interviewed about the food crisis.

Play the Free Rice game, and for every word you get right, they donate rice!

The World Food Programme website has lots of useful information on this topic. To donate money to Myanmar cyclone victims, go here.

You can also donate via the Humanitarian Coalition.

Food Shortage
May 14, 2008 (Wednesday)
From what's causing the price and supply problems to how to fix them, we present a special program to answer your questions about the food crisis

1 billion Asians need help in food crisis: development chief

IN DEPTH: Rice riots and empty silos: Is the world running out of food?

High-level UN task force to tackle global food crisis

Soaring food costs threaten world's political stability: UN official


Keith Boag reports for CBC-TV (Runs: 3:24)

Play: Real Media »

Play: QuickTime »

Beating the Hunger Crisis

May 12th, 2008 at 4:21 pm | posted by ONE.Partners
There is more information at the site.

You signed ONE’s petition to President Bush about the global hunger crisis—137,000 of you did, in fact. Our nation’s leaders are hearing our voices. But this crisis is still in the news. People are still going hungry.

You can keep the pressure on by taking another next step.

Join ONE partner Bread for the World’s emergency online campaign, Recipe for Hope. For six weeks, from Mother’s Day through Father’s Day, you’ll receive an email with an Ingredient for Despair—more information on the causes of this crisis—and an Ingredient for Hope—specific actions you can take to help end it. Bread will tell you something you can do and something you can say to our nation’s leaders. Then we’re all doing our part to help hungry people around the world at this perilous time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Air and Water Cars

Quiet US Confession

Weapons Were Not Made In Iran After All

CASMII Press Release

In a sharp reversal of its longstanding accusations against Iran arming militants in Iraq , the US military has made an unprecedented albeit quiet confession: the weapons they had recently found in Iraq were not made in Iran at all.

According to a report by the LA Times correspondent Tina Susman in Baghdad: "A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was cancelled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin. When U.S. explosives experts went to investigate, they discovered they were not Iranian after all."

The US, which until two weeks ago had never provided any proof for its allegations, finally handed over its "evidence" of the Iranian origin of these weapons to the Iraqi government. Last week, an Iraqi delegation to Iran presented the US "evidence" to Iranian officials. According to Al-Abadi, a parliament member from the ruling United Iraqi Alliance who was on the delegation, the Iranian officials totally refuted "training, financing and arming" militant groups in Iraq . Consequently the Iraqi government announced that there is no hard evidence against Iran.

In another extraordinary event this week, the US spokesman in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, for the first time did not blame Iran for the violence in Iraq and in fact did not make any reference to Iran at all in his introductory remarks to the world media on Wednesday when he described the large arsenal of weapons found by Iraqi forces in Karbala.

In contrast, the Pentagon in August 2007 admitted that it had lost track of a third of the weapons distributed to the Iraqi security forces in 2004/2005. The 190,000 assault rifles and pistols roam free in Iraqi streets today.

In the past year, the US leaders have been relentless in propagating their charges of Iranian meddling and fomenting violence in Iraq and since the release of the key judgments of the US National Intelligence Estimate in December that Iran does not have a nuclear weaponisation programme, these accusations have sharply intensified.

The US charges of Iranian interference in Iraq too have now collapsed. Any threat of military strike against Iran is in violation of the UN charter and the IAEA's continued supervision on Iran's uranium enrichment facilities means there is no justification for sanctions.

CASMII calls on the US to change course and enter into comprehensive and unconditional negotiations with Iran.

For more information or to contact CASMII please visit

US laying foundation for Iraq colonization

'Selling Iraq to the US' is what best describes a secret security accord between the Bush administration and the government of Iraq.

Washington drew out a draft proposal for a security deal in January 2008, a preliminary part of which was signed by officials of the two countries on March 17.

The negotiation, set to conclude in late July, will not only establish the basis for a long-term US occupation of Iraq, but will also turn the country into a US colony and yet another military base for Washington in the Middle East.

The accord with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government will replace the UN mandate and allow multinational military presence in the country.

This 'firm handshake' between the US president and the Iraqi prime minister is referred to by the Western media as the Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

While every revealed article of the agreement is tied to security and military arrangements, Western media portrays the accord as mere cooperation in the areas of politics, economics, culture and security.

All the provisions of the agreement have been introduced in a haze of ambiguity as transparency in the issue would certainly provoke an outcry among the weary people of Iraq.

One look at Article 10 of the treaty makes it apparent that the US administration hopes to quietly impose the binding contract and legitimize its indefinite military presence in the country.

"As long as Iraqi security/military forces are not well-trained, security hasn't been ensured, the neighboring states pose a threat, and terrorist attacks continue, the treaty will be officially binding and both parties are obliged to implement it."

The first article of the treaty allows the US Army to carry out military operations in Iraq at any time and any place.

Under Article 2, American and British troops can arrest suspects at any time without the consent of the Iraqi government.

Article 3 reinforces Article 10 by asserting that there are no time limits for the presence of American forces, thus annulling the 1790 UN Security Council anti-occupation Resolution.

The contents of the treaty will dissipate all hopes of a sovereign Iraq, turning the country into a medieval US colony.

According to Article 4, American servicemen and non-servicemen are not obliged to attend any court hearings in Iraq, literally granting them capitulation privileges.

Article 7 puts the Iraqi ministries of defense, interior and intelligence under the direct supervision of US officials, ensuring Iraq will be officially governed by the United States.

Article 6 allows the US to set up 41 military bases in Iraq; Article 8 provides American forces with the authority to supervise arms sales as well as train Iraqi military and law enforcement personnel.

Article 9 argues that as a member of the international community Iraq must recognize Israel and unconditionally support Washington's Middle East policies.

Which government can claim it has the right to delegate the fate of the nation that has entrusted it with executive powers?

Yet, there is but a shred of a doubt that this treaty has no objective other than handing Iraq over to the United States.

One must ask what has made al-Maliki and political leaders of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and al-Dawa party sink so low as to consider signing such a degrading and demeaning accord.

The US has clearly been successful in duping certain Iraqi officials into launching a crackdown on the resistance fighters of Mahdi Army, claiming the lives of a myriad of innocent civilians.

It is evident that Washington deliberately dragged Iraqi echelons into the battlegrounds as part of a devious plot to cause a rift between Shia parties in the hope of debilitating resistance movements.

These extortionist plots, however, considering the current situation in the war-torn country and the growing hatred toward the occupiers seem to have been in vein.

According to senior Iraqi politician Mohsen Hakim, the Iraqi government conceded to the accord only on certain conditions: US forces should not establish large-scale military bases in the country, should avoid using Iraqi territory for military purposes, and need to recognize Iraq's right to secure deals with other countries.

These conditions, although deficient, do not counter the humiliating effects of the other contractual obligations of the treaty, thus compelling Iraq to go under the yoke of the United States.

SOFA is yet another US attempt to gain tacit support of two main Shia parties al-Dawa and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council in a bid to foment discord and manipulate public opinion regarding the county's Islamic resistance movement, setting the stage for a new puppet government in the country.

What is even more astonishing is that Iraqi political leaders are falling for this political legerdemain and are willingly digging their own graves.

Of course, one should not forget that if the US conspiracy succeeds, the same people who brought the current Iraqi leaders to power will withdraw their support and entrust their future to another Islamic government.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Feds invest $1M more to combat military stress

The federal government will be adding $1 million to a program that tackles mental health issues plaguing several Canadian soldiers and their families.

The money will expand the government's Operational Stress Injury Social Support Program by adding eight peer support workers to a team of 12 support coordinators who have experienced and survived similar stress-related injuries following combat.

Capt. Dwayne Atkinson has served five tours overseas, including stints in Somalia, Bosnia and Afghanistan. He says it was experience in Afghanistan that brought him to his breaking point.

"One of the biggest problems for soldiers is continually going to areas of desolation and destruction and seeing the human dynamic of conflict and what it does to people," Atkinson told CTV Ottawa.

"Constantly seeing this time and time again has an accumulative affect on soldiers and eventually everybody finds their breaking point and gets overloaded."

After Atkinson's second combat tour in Afghanistan, he was diagnosed with an operational stress injury.

"Coming back from Afghanistan I was really messed up," Atkinson told CTV Ottawa.

After his diagnosis, he enrolled in the government's stress injury program and he says the support he received helped him get to the root of his problem.

"They helped me and my family come through this and make me able to return to active service and put my uniform back on," he said.

Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson was on hand to make the funding announcement in Kingston, Ont. Tuesday. He says the stress of serving in a theatre of combat has a great affect on soldiers and their families.

"That adjustment back to civilian life has always been difficult and will always be difficult and again that's why we're putting these teams together to make it that much easier," said Thompson.

Over the last five years, the number of soldiers who have experienced operational health injuries -- which include post-traumatic stress-disorder, anxiety disorders, depression and addiction -- more than tripled to 11,000 cases.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua

Operational Stress Injury Social Support Program

May 4 commemoration ends with arrests War protesters refuse to leave bridge in Kent

May 4 commemoration ends with arrests War protesters refuse to leave bridge in Kent


An anti-war march and protest in downtown Kent following Sunday's commemoration of the 38th anniversary of the May 4, 1970 shootings at Kent State University resulted in four arrests.Four protesters who sat down in the middle of Kent's West Main Street bridge and refused to comply with the order of Kent police officers to clear the road were arrested and charged with failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, a first-degree misdemeanor, according to a Kent Police Department press release.

The four arrested included Yvette Coil, a KSU conflict management major, organizer with the Cleveland chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and wife of a veteran of the Gulf War; Aaron Brooks, a local musician; Bill Arthrell, a former KSU student and Cleveland resident; and an unidentified woman.

The march, organized by the Kent State Anti-War Committee and the Portage Peace Coalition, began on campus and proceeded west along East Main Street, stopping at the KSU U.S. Air Force ROTC building in the Terrace Annex to post paper peace signs on the doors. It continued on city sidewalks until it reached the corner of West Main Street and Franklin Avenue.

Police clad in riot helmets and armed with pepper-ball guns attempted to re-open the bridge to vehicle traffic shortly after 4:30 p.m., approximately an hour into the downtown gathering. While early on officers stood by and allowed the protesters to chant, dance, play music and hang signs from the bridge, an officer in a police cruiser eventually used a public address system to order the protesters to vacate the road.

Only minutes before his arrest, Arthrell told a Record-Courier reporter that he had been arrested six times during the "Tent City" protests of the late 1970s, when KSU built the Memorial Gym Annex at the site of the shootings, and 12 times overall during protest actions.

"I'm pleasantly astounded by these kids today," said Arthrell, a teacher in the Cleveland City Schools. "They're really making a stand for a better world ... This is democracy's finest moment, when people take the initiative to change something on their own."
After the arrests, traffic slowly began to cross the bridge while remaining protesters continued to linger at the edge of the sidewalk and verbally harassed several drivers. Noah, a member of the Kent State Anti-War Committee who declined to give his last name, used a bullhorn to start a chant of "Let them go!" at the downtown gazebo while officers processed the four people across Main Street near Home Savings Plaza.

Noah led the remaining group of protesters to Kent police headquarters at the corner of Haymaker Parkway and South Water Street where they continued with a chant of "No justice, no peace, f*** the police."

On May 4th, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire into crowds of students at Kent State University. Some were protesting the Vietnam War, while some were merely bystanders. Four students were killed and nine were injured.

We remember the tragic loss of these students... and unite again against war and injustice in our world today.

Unfortunately, I don't really have any footage from the march. The videos shown here are of the rally we held in downtown Kent.

We probably started with 200-300 people protesting. We marched from campus to a bridge downtown. Another protest marched right through ours and congregated by the river. Our protest continued.

The cops, in riot gear, showed up and asked us to clear the road. Four of us refused, and they were arrested. The cops were so rough with one of the women that the muscle in one of her arms snapped.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Manure to Electricity

BRIDPORT, Vt. — Marie Audet's cows produce three things: milk, fertilizer and electricity.

They earn only about $13 per hundred pounds for the milk, a 25-year low, but 12 cents per kilowatt-hour for the electricity, a 4-cent premium over the market price.

That's why the Audet family and a growing number of other dairy farmers have decided there's money in manure. Power derived from manure is changing from an alternative-fuel experiment to a business, pushed by high oil costs, low milk prices and new laws restricting harmful gas emissions and requiring the use of renewable energy.

Two generators at the Audets' Blue Spruce Farm feed electricity to the local utility. They run on methane gas derived from cow manure. The farm is part of Cow Power, a program of the local electric company, Central Vermont Public Service. Cow Power gives customers the option to pay higher rates to subsidize farm-generated, poop-powered electricity. The 4-cent premium the farmers are paid helps cover the cost of installing an anaerobic digester that extracts methane from cowpies.

Now, after two years as Cow Power pioneers, the Audets are about to get company. Next month, Mark and Amanda St. Pierre, who run Pleasant Valley Farm a mile from the Canadian border, will become the second dairy farmers in Vermont to sell poop power. Four more Vermont farms are to go online in the next year. In California, six dairy farms have signed up to pump manure-derived methane into the pipelines of Pacific Gas and Electric.

Even proponents say methane digesters will never produce more than a tiny fraction of the energy consumed in the USA, even if all of the nation's 7,000 large dairy and hog farms installed them. But methane digesters can have a big effect on the economics of a dairy farm, the quality of life of its neighbors and on the pollutants a farm produces.

Unlimited quantities

As natural resources go, animal manure is abundant and endlessly renewable. Cow produces as much as 30 gallons a day, every day. "One thing for sure we can count on is a constant supply of it," Mark St. Pierre says.

Until now, the St. Pierres, like the Audets, stored manure in large open pits referred to as lagoons. Methane given off by the manure escaped into the air, contributing to the "greenhouse effect" blamed for global warming. The smell escaped, too, especially when manure was spread on fields as fertilizer.

Anaerobic digesters, also called methane digesters, solve both problems. Manure is swept from dairy barns by automated floor scrapers and goes down pipes into the digester, an insulated tank. The Vermont digesters are sunk most of the way into the ground.

The digester, which holds about three weeks' worth of manure, contains bacteria similar to those in a cow's stomach. The tank is heated and cooks the manure. The methane given off is piped away to fuel generators or flows directly to the utility's gas pipeline.

What remains is separated into liquid and a soft, odorless mulch like peat moss. The mulch is used as bedding for the cows instead of sawdust, saving the Audets, for example, $50,000 a year. The sawdust "was like gold," Audet says. With the "biosolids" from manure, she loves "having as much of that stuff as we want and making our cows comfortable." The Audets sell the extra as garden fertilizer.

The liquid is pumped into the old manure lagoons and then spread on fields as fertilizer, just as raw manure is on other farms. The thinner liquid soaks into the ground better than raw manure and minimizes runoff from fields into nearby Lake Champlain, Audet says. Perhaps the best part: It doesn't smell.

4 cents adds up

Farmers in the Cow Power program still pay for the electricity they use on the farm. But they produce more than they use, and they sell what they produce to the electric company for 95% of the wholesale price plus 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. The St. Pierres calculate that they'll gross $200,000 a year on the sales.

"Their 4 cents is what makes it go, on paper," Amanda St. Pierre says. The extra income is "definitely going to be a factor in our being here in the next 10 years."

Last month, grain giant Cargill agreed to go into business with Environmental Power, a New Hampshire company that installs methane digesters on farms, sells the gas to utilities and pays the farmers a percentage. Cargill will connect the company with the huge number of farms it does business with.

"We have folks out there running around" talking to farmers about installing methane digesters, says Albert Morales, executive vice president of Environmental Power. "But when you're a farmer and Cargill shows up and says, 'We think you should do this,' it carries more weight."

Already, Environmental Power has installed digesters at three farms in Wisconsin that sell electricity to their local utility and is building more at a feedlot in Texas that will sell methane.

Power of going 'green'

In California, Pacific Gas and Electric agreed last month to buy methane from six dairies where Environmental Power runs digesters. Pushing the utility is a new state law requiring power companies to buy 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2010. PG&E currently gets 12% of its energy from renewable sources, including wind, geothermal energy and animal waste, according to spokeswoman Darlene Chiu. California has also passed legislation requiring the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Central Vermont's Cow Power program is one of about 600 "green power" programs nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, in which consumer agree to pay a premium on their electric bills, knowing that the extra money supports renewable-energy programs like wind or solar power. It's the only one that relies entirely on cow manure.

About 2.4% of the utility's customers have signed up, well above the 1.3% average participation in green-power programs.

Vermont's open farm fields and the impressive views — Audet's cows have a view of the Adirondack Mountains and St. Pierre's can see the Green Mountains — are what Cow Power buyers want to preserve. The rural landscape "is a non-renewable resource," Audet says. "That's why people want to pay the 4 cents."

Is stress a health and safety hazard?

By Innes Bowen
BBC Radio 4, More or Less

It's widely thought that employees on lower grades suffer if they have little control over their jobs. Is this true?

A group of middle managers gathers in central London for a half-day workshop on stress. Merren Barber, an occupational health physiotherapist, delivers a stark warning: managers who put too much pressure on their workers can cause serious health problems.

"Stress isn't an illness but there's quite a bit of evidence that it increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and mental health problems. So people potentially can become ill because of chronic stress," Barber tells the group.

Is this really true?

Stress management courses are now a staple of corporate life and the claim often made that there is a link between stress and ill health has become the received wisdom.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the government body in charge of protecting people's health at work, has even made giving workers more control over their workload a legal obligation.

According to employment lawyer Gordon Turner, the HSE standards on stress are so rigorous that many employers fear details of their working practices becoming public. "It's so easy to slip up. If an employee takes a grievance as far as an employment tribunal, companies often settle rather than risk a public hearing that might attract the attention of the HSE."

Both the HSE and stress management trainers are influenced by a famous survey of the health of British civil servants known as the Whitehall II study. Led by Prof Sir Michael Marmot, an epidemiologist at University College London, Whitehall II has tracked the lives of thousands of civil servants for more than 20 years in an attempt to assess the effect of job status on health.

According to Professor Marmot, it is not stress per se that has an adverse effect on health and life expectancy. Rather it is working in a job where there are high demands accompanied by a lack of control. "People of high status tend to have high demand and that doesn't seem to cause any illness problems at all."

Some academics in this field have their doubts. Dr John MacLeod is one of a team of researchers at Bristol University who are sceptical about Professor Marmot's findings.

"We looked at these issues in a study of 6,000 working men in South West Scotland. Unusually, when these men were recruited in the early 1970s, it was the middle classes and the more advantaged who were experiencing high levels of stress. In those circumstances stress was not associated with poorer health."

Professor Marmot's response is that the Scottish study does not use good measures of stress.

Sick of work

As far as heart disease is concerned, it is not only Dr MacLeod and colleagues at Bristol University who are unconvinced there is a proven link with stress. The American Heart Association website states that "current data don't yet support specific recommendations about stress reduction as a proven therapy for cardiovascular disease".

Dr MacLeod believes that so-called psychosocial explanations of ill health are a distraction from what he believes are more likely causes of a growing health divide between richer and poorer people.

"We don't really know the causes but material disadvantage in childhood is one of the strongest predictors of health in adulthood. So the best bet would be to target and reduce childhood deprivation if we want to see reductions in health inequalities."

So are companies wasting money by sending managers on courses that might make them feel guilty about placing high demands on their workers?

Dr MacLeod doesn't go that far. "It may not reduce the risk of heart disease but creating fairer workplaces is a humane and just thing to do."

American Heart Association

Occupational stress

Occupational Stress: A Handbook

Workplace Stress – stopping the juggernaut

Reporter: Dr Jonica Newby

6 September 2007
If you think work is getting more stressful, you’re not imagining it. Since 1964, the average working week for white collar workers has gone up by 10 hours.

In scenes reminiscent of Dickensian England, we’re working harder, longer and with more job insecurity than ever before – and the cost is increasingly clear. Decades of research across hundreds of thousands of workers point to a full scale stress epidemic.

In this week’s must watch episode of Catalyst, we travel to London to meet the world experts and tackle one of the biggest issues of our time – what is rising workplace stress really doing to us?

Stress in the UK workplace has now outstripped backache as the number one cause of lost productivity due to sick leave.

But can a radical intervention in the UK show us how to stop workplace stress in its tracks? And, we ask the question on every overworked, time poor, family person’s lips – is it too late to turn this stress juggernaut around?

Jonica Newby goes undercover with the London Police Force to find out what the City of London Police Force is doing to lower the heart rate of their bobbies on the beat.


Alison Youles I remember looking in the mirror, and seeing an absolute horrendous rash that was all down this left side here. So I went to the doctors and he said this is to do with stress. I couldn’t believe it – a rash due to stress?

Narration If you think work is getting more stressful, you’re not imagining it. Since 1964, the average working week for white collar workers has gone up by 10 hours.

In scenes reminiscent of Dickensian England, we’re working harder, longer, and with more job insecurity – and the cost is clear.

Dr Jonica Newby This week, we’re looking deep into the dark heart of workplace stress – why it makes us sick, how it makes us sick. And we’ve come to Britain for one reason – to check out a pioneering and radical intervention here – which might, just might stop workplace stress in its tracks.

Narration Can we turn back the stress juggernaut?

Professor Cary Cooper We’re talking now I think about the 21st century black plague. I see stress as the main source of disease or the trigger for disease in the 21st century developed world.

Narration At first glance, Sergeant Alison Youles of the City of a London Police seems like a character straight out of The Bill.

Her easy manner and tough spirit had delivered promotions … and a role as a popular police instructor.

But in 2003, she took on a new challenge … undercover surveillance … and life started to go horribly off script.

Alison Youles Management wasn’t good. You always got criticised. The hours we were working. We worked silly hours. Also the not drinking a lot a water, a massive issue. You drink a lot of water, you’ve got to do to the toilet, you’ve got to go away from the car.

Narration As the months went by, she was beset by strange physical symptoms – a facial rash that wouldn’t go away … blinding headaches … panic attacks.

Alison Youles I remember coming home, and I walked in the house and I could not breathe, I just couldn’t breathe. I was crying, I was hysterical. And I rang my Mum, and fortunately she managed to calm me down and she told me to go and get a bag and breath slowly. And when I look back at that point I should have left, I should have left on that day. But I didn’t I just kept going and going and going.

Narration It’s a story that’s all too familiar to Professor Cary Cooper.

The first to discover workplace stress can cause illness back in the 70s – he’s since studied literally hundreds of thousands of workers.

Professor Cary Cooper I do still get the occasional sceptic in industry who says there’s no link here – I enjoy stress. What they fail to understand by the way is the distinction between pressure and stress. Pressure is stimulating and motivating, but when pressure exceeds your ability to cope then you’re in the stress arena and that’s bad news.

We know stress is a major risk factor for a range of illness from heart disease to immune failures and more and more research is being done on cancer now.

Narration Meanwhile back at the City of London Police, unbeknownst to Alison, one of her senior executives, Carolyn Woolley, was noticing a worrying trend in absenteeism.

Carolyn Woolley In December 2003 we were running at an average of 10.3 days of sickness per police officer. That’s quite a lot of time that you’re actually losing away from front line policing.

Narration And The Bill weren’t alone. In 2004, stress for the first time replaced backache as the UK’s number one cause of lost working days due to ill health.

Professor Cary Cooper We’re talking in the order of 10 billion pounds just due to sickness absence. We’re probably talking about 30 million lost working days and we can’t even put a figure on the health service costs for repairing people damaged by stress which must be astronomical.

Narration But why would stress cause physical illness?

Dr Jonica Newby It’s a mystery that’s long baffled scientists – until, here at the Garvan Institute in Sydney, they finally nailed the perpetrator.

Dr Fabienne Mackay So Jonica, this is the culprit, this is neuropeptidey.

Dr Jonica Newby It doesn’t look very sinister, I have to say.

Dr Fabienne Mackay Well in fact it’s a very tiny molecule – very small.

Narration When we are stressed our nerves and brain cells release large amounts of neuropeptide y.

Dr Fabienne Mackay It’s going to change your mood, you are going to be grumpy, its going to change your appetite – you might overeat or stop eating, it will change your heart rate because when you’re stressed your heart beats higher.

Narration But what no one realised, until Fabienne Mackay’s team made their discovery, is that it also blocks T cells in the immune system.

That’s why the body’s police force can no longer fight off viruses and bugs.

Dr Fabienne MacKay That’s very exciting because in fact this is so powerful at shutting off immune cells.

Narration So if stress can disrupt our body’s natural defences, what is it about the workplace that produces such a powerful effect?

For Alison, the long hours culture on surveillance was a major stressor.

Alison Youles I start in the city at 6 I’d have to be up at quarter to four. So you could be doing 18, 19 hour shifts and back up the next day.

Dr Jonica Newby Alison, this doesn’t sound like a life.

Alison Youles It wasn’t. It was no life.

Professor Cary Cooper We have clear evidence that If you consistently work long hours, you will get ill. And what we’re finding in the developed world is that increasingly the hours are upping that more and more people are working longer and longer .

NarrationNearly half of all UK managers now work more than 50 hours a week.

But its not just the hours. Another proven stressor is lack of control over ones working life.

And while studies used to show only those lower down the food chain suffered, that, too, is changing.

Professor Cary Cooper Now that jobs are intrinsically more insecure for everybody – from shop floor to top floor, guess what – the illnesses – stress related illnesses are going up the hierarchy. So now nobody’s safe.

Narration For Alison, eventually, the stress boiled over – into an explosive, no returns argument with her boss.

Alison Youles And I thought what am I going to do, what am I going to do? This is it, over. Everything I’ve worked hard for I’ve just thrown away.

Narration She was out, indefinitely, on stress leave.

So is it too late to turn the juggernaut around?

Well, the City of London Police decided the human and business costs were too great.

They contacted Professor Cooper, who sent in his team. What followed was nothing short of extraordinary.

Professor Cary Cooper OK well I’ll just talk you through the process for doing the stress audit.

Narration Tired of simply shouting from the halls of academe, Cooper had formed a company with a rigorous scientific approach.

Professor Cary Cooper This instrument’s really been thoroughly scientifically looked at, tested on thousands of people …

Narration They pinpointed problems to a microlevel … what department … what issue – bullying, long hours. They then put in a precisely targeted fix – with astonishing results.

In just two years, sickness absence dropped from 10 days per officer, to 6.3.

They also went from being ranked 23rd most productive police force in the UK to nearly top.

For me, its brilliant from an HR perspective. I’m not saying it’s the only thing that’s made the difference, but clearly during a period where we’ve made a sustained effort to engage with our staff and look after our staff if performance has gone up then it must be linked, it has to be linked, I’m sorry.

The city of London police were fantastic in helping me return back to work.

I was off for three months. And since then I haven’t looked back – I’m back in training which I love. And you know what? I’m good, I eat well, I sleep well,I see my dog every night, and I have good bosses.

Narration But that’s just one enlightened workplace. Can we do more, and turn it round for all society?

Well, in an extraordinary and radical move, a UK government body is attempting exactly that.

For the first time, stress has been acknowledged as a serious workplace risk.

Dr Jonica Newby That means if an organisation does not deal with its stress problem, the power exists to shut the organisation down.

Professor Cary Cooper They have come up with management standards for stress which are world renowned now, and they are a landmark in the sand. They are saying to all of us that the way in which you manage people can be as damaging if not more damaging than faulty equipment and toxins in the work environment.

Narration And the show of teeth has had a dramatic effect.

Thousands of UK companies have since embraced these health and safety standards for stress.

In what’s shaping up to a showdown of Dickensian proportions – the world is watching and asking – is this what it will take to slow the stress juggernaut down?

Story Contacts

Professor Cary Cooper
Lancaster University Management School

Alison Youles

Carolyn Woolley
HR Manager
City of London Police