Shoe-thrower asks for leniency

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Asked if al-Maliki would consider exonerating him, al-Majeed said it is too early to talk about that because the case remains with the judicial authorities.

Al-Zaidi is hailed as a hero by many Iraqis protesting his detention after he threw both of his shoes at Bush while the U.S. president and al-Maliki were holding a news conference Sunday during Bush’s unannounced visit to Baghdad. Video Watch Muntadhar al-Zaidi throw his shoes at Bush »

Neither shoe hit Bush, and the journalist was knocked to the ground, hustled out of the room and arrested by security officials.


Willie Littlechild, UN Declaration on Human Rights

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at

Willie Littlechild, UN Declaration on Human Rights

Click the link below to view Regional Chief, Willie Littlechild address the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. He was one of four civil individuals selected to speak at the 60th commemorative ceremonies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
UN Photo/Stephenie Hollyman
Video – 8 minutes 20 seconds
“Chief Wilton Littlechild, IPC – Cree Nation, UN, 12 December 2008”
[Unofficial transcription of text]

Thank you Mr. President. Respectful greetings from the […] Cree and the Assembly of First Nations in Canada to the Secretary General, her Excellency the High Commissioner, Madame Pillay, to all your Excellencies and distinguished ladies and gentlemen. It’s certainly a great honor to address this special session.

In the words of a Cree elder, who said “you must know where you came from yesterday, know where you are today, if you’re to know where you’re going tomorrow.”

Sixty years ago the United Nations General Assembly adopted the world’s most important human rights document in international law to recognize the inherent rights of all peoples. For the Cree Nation we say [words in Cree language], rights that were recognized for all peoples as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

But in 1948 Indigenous peoples were not included in the Universal Declaration. We were not considered to have equal rights as everyone else. Indeed, we were not considered as human. Nor as peoples.

Consequently there were at times gross violations of our human rights. Indigenous peoples simply did not benefit from the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration.

Your Excellencies, in my community, the leaders and elders gathered [..?..] very concerned about this. We have an international treaty with Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. It’s not being respected according to its original spirit and intent, they said, as an international agreement, nor was it being honored. So after much deliberation and spiritual ceremonies, they decided to seek recognition and justice from the international community.

We were here in 1977 when we could not gain access to inform the UN family of United Nations about our issues and concerns. We’ve been coming here ever since then. Yes, we have called attention to ongoing treaty and treaty rights violations, but we have always also recommended solutions for positive change, recognition, and inclusion.

Today, our delegation wants to take this opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous advancements we have made together over the past three decades in efforts to better the quality of life for Indigenous peoples worldwide. The United Nations has, for example, taken many steps within its system, through its various bodies to address indigenous issues. There have been several UN expert seminars and studies on a number of major areas.

If one was to highlight major achievements, they include the establishment of the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples, the establishment of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Inter-Agency Support Group, established by all major UN agencies to contribute to their mandated areas, the proclamation of two international decades and the establishment of a Special Rapporteur, the ongoing work on Indigenous children, traditional knowledge and more. The collective work of all these entities would not be possible without the co-ordination by the Indigenous Unit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and also the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum.

Today we see with the successive efforts of High Commissioners, Special Rapporteurs, and supportive preceding Secretary Generals, two pinnacles of success. First, the pronouncement by former Secretary General that the indigenous issues were now one of the top ten priorities for the UN. And secondly, his welcoming us into the UN family of nations.

While this has been tremendous work to date, many have died along this tough struggle together – and yes, we have a long way to go. As we look back one of the most satisfying was to see all these contributions leading to better understanding, better relations and respect that accumulated in a historic decision last year. With good will on all sides, the foundation was set for the General Assembly to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And the Human Rights Council to establish an Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Excellencies, one could argue that the UN now has, with the important contribution of Indigenous leaders and representatives, succeeded in ensuring that Indigenous peoples are now part of humankind with equal rights and freedoms. Indeed, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clarifies how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies for our survival, dignity, and well being. As an elder wanted me to tell you, “I am not an object. I am not a subject. I am a human being.”

Tomorrow, many challenges remain. Why is it that there is still abject poverty among our families, especially among our children? Why is it in a country of ours, the education of indigenous students is in a crisis? Why is it that we continue to be excluded from the economic mainstream, especially during this economic global crisis? Why is it that our treaties continue to be violated? Why is it that four States continue to actively oppose the recognition of our rights, in particular the UN Declaration, as recently as two days ago on the eve of this important commemoration?

For tomorrow, we must put all these good words of the past three decades, and I would dare say the past three hours, into more concrete action. What we need is implementation of the UN Declaration.

On this important occasion, let me thank the States that support us. Through you, your Excellencies, I would not do justice to those I represent, if I were not to call on the others to say “yes” to a new framework for partnership. Say “yes” to better relations among our peoples and nations. Say “yes” to honoring treaties and agreements with mutual respect. Say “yes” to our full inclusion and continued contribution to humankind.

We respectfully urge you to call on the CANZUS states [Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States] to now support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its full implementation as a solution. That will give real meaning to this celebration. And finally, when Indigenous peoples win, the whole world wins [closing words in Cree]. Thank you.


Lepchas Vow to Die for Their Community

Lepchas Vow to Die for Their Community

Lepchas Vow to Die for Their Community lepcha-123-128x96

More than 20,000 Lepchas have vowed to die for their community and to ensure that their culture survives for coming generations.

A peaceful and nomadic people in the Sikkim region of West Bengal, the Lepchas gathered this past weekend in Kalimpong to celebrate the 227th birthday of their King Gyabu Achok.

The event was organized by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (ILTA), with the help of the Darjeeling Lepcha Association, Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), the Kolkata Lepcha Association and other groups.

“The occasion emboldened the Lepcha community, which has been recognized as an indigenous tribe by Charter 309 of the United Nations and is striving to protect their ethnicity and region of Dzongu in Sikkim,” comments The Statesman.

One of three indigenous peoples in Sikkim, the Lepchas, who call themselves Rongpas (ravine dwellers), is simultaneously working to stop a series of hydro projects proposed for the Dzongu river in north Sikkim.

The dam project threaten to displace a number of Lepcha, devastate the region’s biodiversity (i.e. the Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve), and destroy what the Lepcha believe to be the birthplace of humanity.

To date the Lepcha have successfully campaigned to stop four of six hydro dams. “Two projects have not been scrapped yet and a relay hunger strike is still in progress to scrap them,” says Samden Fonning Lepcha, general secretary of the Darjeeling Lepcha Youth Association. “This is probably slated to enter the Guinness Book as the longest hunger strike in the world.”

November 2nd marked 500th day of the indefinite hunger strike.

During the birthday celebration of King Gyabu Achok, three Lepcha youths were awarded for their role in the hunger strike, lasting 86 days without any food.

ILTA president, Ren LS Tamsang Lepcha also took the opportunity to put out the call for unity, stating, “We should focus on uniting the entire Lepcha community. I take this opportunity to congratulate all the Lepcha people for preserving our culture, customs and language so that we will continue to be Lepcha in our heart and soul.”

Here’s a petition you can sign to support the Lepcha in their continued effort to protect Dzongu.


Livermore Lab Has to Pay for Safety and Security Problems: Is that Enough?

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Last Friday, Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor’s Todd Jacobson reported that that National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) reduced by 30 percent Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC’s award for the FY 2008 management of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) from a possible $53.7 million to $37.7 million.

Part of the reason NNSA cut $16 million was LLNL’s disastrous performance in an April security test by the DOE Office of Health, Safety and Security (HSS). In a fee recommendation memo, NNSA’s Principal Deputy Administrator for Military Application Brig. Gen. Jonathan George found “the Contractor’s performance in the area of protective force operations and information security to be ‘unsatisfactory’ based in large part on the Contractor’s security failures surrounding the HSS audit.”

“Unsatisfactory” is not the word POGO would use to describe LLNL’s performance when mock-terrorists successfully broke into the nuclear weapons lab, created an improvised nuclear device, and stole plutonium and highly enriched uranium. As you may recall, in March POGO had predicted that LLNL would fare poorly in a security assessment because the Lab’s location inside a residential community (with 7 million people living within a 50-mile radius) makes the site impossible to secure.

New Russian missile fails a 5th test

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s new sea-based ballistic missile has failed in a test launch for the fifth time, signaling serious trouble with the highly advertised key future component of the nation’s nuclear forces.

The Bulava “self-destroyed and exploded in the air” after a launch from the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear submarine beneath surface of the White Sea, said Navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo.

Russia has been making an aggressive effort to upgrade its missile forces after years of underfunding and a lack of testing.

Ex-employee sues Los Alamos lab

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

A former Los Alamos National Laboratory employee implicated in the presumed disappearance of two classified disks — which, in reality, never existed — said Monday he sued the lab to vindicate himself and a co-worker.

John Horne, who had been a lead technician, filed his lawsuit Dec. 12 in state district court in Los Alamos against former lab director Pete Nanos, former DX division acting director Kevin Jones and Los Alamos National Security LLC, or LANS, which took over lab management from the University of California in mid-2006. The university is a partner in LANS.

Nanos left the lab in May 2005 to join the Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Truck Carrying Radioactive Load Crashes

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

A semitrailer that was carrying a low-level radiation load jackknifed and crashed on Interstate 84 Monday afternoon.No one was hurt when the commercial semitrailer lost control, jackknifed, went off the road and collided with a rock wall, Oregon State Police said.Oregon troopers, ODOT workers and the La Grande Fire Department’s Regional Hazmat Team responded to the scene, police said.