Can Obama End Veteran Homelessness?

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If you think homelessness among veterans is unacceptable, you’re not alone. Obama has pledged to establish a national “zero tolerance policy” for homelessness among veterans. In his proposed budget, he took a bold step towards that goal by proposing a 10 percent increase for Veterans Affairs. But will increasing government spending to match our “support our troops” rhetoric ultimately end veteran homelessness?

It’s no mystery that veterans are disproportionately represented among the homeless population. During good economic times, one in four people without a roof wore the uniform (thanks to the recession, that number is probably a bit lower today). While many of these homeless vets served in Vietnam, a growing number of vets from Iraq and Afghanistan are winding up in shelters and on the streets.

Why, you ask? The answer, of course, is where our government chooses to direct funding (or not direct funding, as is the case here). During the Bush years, Veterans Affairs (VA) was wholly undersupported by the Bush administration. Suffering through astronomical budget shortfalls and lowball estimates that failed to take into account the costs of treating vets returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.


Mexican Company Denies Suffering Caused by Mines

Mexican Company Denies Suffering Caused by Mines

Mexican Company Denies Suffering Caused by Mines hidalgo-128x96

The Mexican mining company Autlán claims there is no evidence to prove that manganese causes harm to human health.

In the Mexican state of Hidalgo, the company has been extracting the mineral since the 1960s.

Adults in a group of towns near the company’s operation live their daily lives trembling as if they have Parkinson’s disease, and the mental development of children has been found to be noticeably lesser than normal.

“The company takes a sceptical position (about studies that show the effects of manganese poisoning); it does not believe that it is causing the problems or that it is to blame,” says Horacio Riojas, from the government’s National Public Health Institute (INSP). But the evidence is irrefutable, says Riojas.

Over the past ten years, INSP has carried out a series of health and environment studies in the nearby towns of Molango, Lolotla, Xochicoatlán and Tlanchinol, which together hold a combined population of about 60,000.

The region is one of the world’s main sources of manganese, a gray-white mineral that’s essential for the production of steel — as well as batteries, unleaded gasoline and various medications, fertilizers and other chemical products.

Writing for Tierramérica, Diego Cevallos describes what the INSP studies revealed:

In 2002 and 2003, blood and hair samples were taken from 300 adults and subjected to a variety of medical tests. In 2007, the same studies were carried out for 300 children between the ages of seven and 11. One part of the samples came from residents of areas near the mines, and the rest from residents of places similar in terms of social and economic development, but not near manganese mines.

Riojas said the findings are alarming. Sixty percent of the adults who live near the mines present neurological problems and trembling similar to the effects of Parkinson’s disease. In the case of the children near the mines, it was found that their intellectual and learning abilities are 20 percent lower than the comparable group that does not live near any mines.

There is no doubt that the exposure to manganese is the cause of the problems, he said.

It is well known that high-level manganese toxicity causes lethargy, increased muscle tonus (muscle twitches, like what we see with sleeping dogs), tremors, and mental disturbances like schizophreni. Long term toxicity causes permanent damage.

“We’ve had reports about problems, but my understanding was that the mining company had already assumed some commitments with the residents and that everything was fine now,” says Alejandro Dionisio, municipal secretary of Molango.

These commitments include… employment opportunities, a couple sports fields, and free roofing materials.

It’s shocking, to say the least. Afterall, we’re not simply talking about a few minor headaches here. We’re talking about the gradual physical and mental destruction of people — something that, in the very least, warrants a moratorium on mining until the issue can be properly addressed.

Riojas says there’s no interest in shutting down the mining operations, however. Local residents and the INSP just want “production to be clean and safe.”

If nothing is done to address the problem in the first few months of 2009, he adds, the issue will be taken to the National Health Council, which formulates health policies in Mexico.


Shenandoah dedicates inaugural song to Western Shoshone

This was originally posted by Brenda Norrell at

Shenandoah dedicates inaugural song to Western Shoshone

By Western Shoshone Defense Project
Censored News
Joanne Shenandoah and Michael Bucher, multiple award winning artists, will be performing at the Inauguration on Jan. 20th at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, VA. They will be performing “Riding Free,” a new song written and performed by Joanne Shenandoah and dedicated to the Western Shoshone struggle and the lives of Mary and Carrie Dann. The song first appeared in the newly released film, “American Outrage” produced by Beth and George Gage. If you would like more information, or an mpeg of the song, please let us know.
Thank you Joanne for your support!
Western Shoshone Defense Project

Spend Inauguration Day Supporting the Western Shoshone and the Freedom of Native Religions and Human Rights
Action Alert
As the Martin Luther King human rights weekend and on the Inauguration Day of President Barrick Obama, the 44th President of the United States, approach, we at the Western Shoshone Defense Project ask the support of everyone to assist us in opposing the continuing Human Rights violations of the Western Shoshone People and their lands.
Just two months ago, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the construction of a massive open pit cyanide heap leach gold mine on the face of well-known spiritual area, Mt. Tenabo. Western Shoshone communities, the Western Shoshone Defense Project and Great Basin Resource Watch are seeking an injunction to stop further destruction of Mt. Tenabo by Barrick Gold Corporation. The Federal Court in Reno has scheduled a hearing on Jan. 20th and 21st.
WHAT YOU CAN DO AS WE AWAIT THE COURT’s DECISION: We need supporters at both of the following locations:
1.Attend the Public Demonstration to Protect Native Spiritual Areas and Human Rights in front of the Courthouse on S. Virginia Street beginning at 8 am on both Jan. 20th and 21st.
2.Attend the Mt. Tenabo encampment and Arbor Vigil beginning tomorrow, Thursday Jan. 15th and lasting through the following week of hearings at the gathering area on the Southeast flank facing Grass Valley, Nevada. (Contact for directions and supplies needed).
3. We also need people to write requests to President-elect Barrack Obama and his transition team. This destruction of Indigenous spiritual areas must stop now and a commitment to good faith talks with the Western Shoshone must be made.
4. Make a donation to support our work. Make checks payable to : SGF/WSDP. Send to: PO Box 211308, Crescent Valley, NV 89812.
Addresses and talking points are attached below, please do what you can – we need all the help we can get.
Background: Barrick Gold Corporation is the world’s largest gold company and operates mainly on Indigenous lands for the extraction of gold. This company has refused to accept its social responsibility to protect Indigenous peoples’ land, sacred areas, water, and air pollution. Barrick has carried out many violations of Human Rights, and abusively opposed the struggle of Indigeous lands and people. Barrick is now beginning construction of an open pit cyanide mine directly on Mt. Tenabo – a Western Shoshone spiritual and cultural area. Shoshone opposition to this mine has been ongoing and has gained global attention. Barrick has failed to recognize these concerns and has instead attempted to divide the Shoshone people, giving money and gifts to the communities, and using its media channels to state that all the people are happy and are supportive of their operations. The time is critical now as Barrick has already received full approval from the U.S. Dept. of Interior and has begun ripping out the pinyon forest and digging the pit to create its “Cortez Hills Expansion Mine”.
This mine will cause permanent destruction of the cultural and spiritual practices of the Western Shoshone. Mt. Tenabo has been, and continues to be, used by Western Shoshone people as a central part of their religious practices and world view. Western Shoshone visit the mountain and the valley below (the location of the mine pit) for prayer ceremonies, gathering of sacred plants, fasting, and vision quests, among other uses. The Mountain also contains Western Shoshone gravesites. All of these values and uses will be destroyed by the Project. In addition, the massive pumping of groundwater will likely dry up sacred springs and streams on and around Mt. Tenabo.
No big mining project in Nevada has ever been denied by the United States. This is one must be stopped.
Again, we need your help to tell Barrick to to stop presenting false information to the media making the Shoshone people and the violations of this mine to the lands and sacred areas invisible to the public. At this time we need your support to stop mining at Mount Tenabo and to tell the U.S. there must be a full review of the human rights violations of the Shoshone people. We ask for your support in this urgent case which has common elements with indigenous peoples and mining abuses around the world. Thank you for supporting the Western Shoshone Defense Project.
Some important talking points to consider in your Request:
∗ The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Decision 1/68) has specifically raised concerns regarding the mining threat to Mt. Tenabo. The United States is in further violation of this Decision in approving this project – the Obama administration needs to understand this now before taking office.
∗ The Bush administration has strong connections to the mining industry and this decision approving the “Cortez Hills Expansion” before the new administration comes in is highly questionable.– President Obama should demonstrate the change he is committed to and respect Western Shoshone spirituality and the need to stop this destructive project and uphold the human rights and Treaty rights. Request that the Obama Team meet immediately with Western Shoshone representatives to investigate further the human rights violations.
∗ Barrick is well-aware of the concerns and the Mt. Tenabo mine proposal has been specifically criticized by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The details of the mine would:
∗ Disturb 6,792 acres of land, including a heap leach and waste rock facilities.
∗ Blast the new Cortez Hills mine Pit approximately 900 feet in length, 6,400 feet in width, and a maximum depth of 2,200 feet.
∗ Pump groundwater from around the pit with an average dewatering rate of approximately 1.8 billion gallons per year for ten years.
∗ Create a drop in the water table of 1,600 feet surrounding the pit, decreasing to 10 feet at a 3-4 mile radius of the pit.
∗ Potentially impact 50 springs and seeps in the area.
∗ Of the 11 non-Cortez Gold Mine water rights impacted, only one is expected to recover fully within 100 years after dewatering ceases
President-elect Barrack Obama – Needs to demonstrate his commitment to change and meet with traditional Western Shoshone immediately to investigate the human rights situation.
Type in your info and your request directly to the Transition Team at:

San Pasqual Tribal Feud

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VALLEY CENTER – About 50 members of the San Pasqual Indian Band were denied voting privileges because of a longstanding feud over their blood ties.

Angela Martinez-McNeal said she and her family were prevented from voting in a tribal election Sunday because tribal Chairman Allen Lawson and his supporters instructed San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies and the tribe’s own security officers to keep them out.

About 300 people belong to the Valley Center-area tribe, which runs Valley View Casino. In 2007, membership rights of every descendent of Marcus R. Alto Sr. were abruptly suspended because Alto was adopted and not biologically tied to the tribe

A new approach?

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A new approach?

President-Elect Obama on the Nuclear Weapons Free World

“This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.” — candidate Barack Obama in Berlin, July 24, 2008 Click on the headline for a survey of Barack Obama statements on nuclear weapons policy.

Sign the call for a world free from nuclear weapons.

Mother Earth and Father Sky Music Festival 2009

This was originally posted by Brenda Norrell at

Mother Earth and Father Sky Music Festival 2009

Dooda Desert Rock readies for 2009 music festival

Dear Musicians and Poets,
Photo Youth Climate Movement

If you agree that Mother Earth & Father Sky should not be desecrated, that the health of humans and the environment should not be put at risk, then please accept this invitation to join Dooda (NO) Desert Rock (DDR) and perform at the 2nd Annual Mother Earth & Father Sky Music Festival. This event is scheduled to take place at the DDR Camp in Chaco Rio, NM (35 miles SW of Farmington, NM) on April 4 & 5, 2009; however we may extend the dates to the 2nd & 3rd also, due to the many musicians that want to be a part of this festival. The sooner you let us know if you’ll be performing the better it will be for all of us. We will stop accepting entries as soon as we have a full schedule.
Dooda (NO) Desert Rock Organization is a group of indigenous residents dedicated to stopping the ill-conceived coal-burning power plant (Desert Rock Energy Project) proposed by Sithe Global, LLC corporation, Desert Rock Energy Company, LLC and Dine Power Authority. We believe economic development must not come at the expense of the health of our children, the air we breathe, our sacred land and water, and our way of life. As Navajo people, our work and dedication is centered on the Dine philosophy of Balance, Harmony, Respect and Equality. Our responsibilities are not limited to the four elements of life. We are responsible to all life that encompasses our very existence as humans. We aim to honor our fore-fathers’ teachings and wisdom against all desecrating entities, corporate intrusions, and environmental injustices.
Unfortunately, we do not have the funds to pay musicians; therefore, this is a volunteer event. We believe that our battle ground is your battle field also. We all breathe the same air, we all drink water, and we are all dependent on the precious resources of Mother Earth for our existence. Please support our mission by donating your talents to this public education event.
Please bring your own camping gear, chairs, and eating utensils. Because we will be serving food to all visitors, we appreciate any donations of food, financial contributions, or firewood for this event. All proceeds will go directly towards maintaining a strong voice against any challenge to the Dine way of life.
We thank you for your support and prayers, and we invite each and every one of you to visit our beautiful homeland to see first-hand the assault we are under and the threats we face. We look forward to meeting you at the Camp in April. Traveling together in the time of music and poetry, we will honor our ancestral home and the health of our children’s children.
May you travel in the paths of the corn pollen!
Elouise Brown, PO Box 7838, NewComb, Navajo Nation, NM, US, 87455


Indigenous activists begin rights walk

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A group of Indigenous activists and community members have begun a 17-day walk from Sydney to Canberra seeking an end to the Northern Territory intervention.

They set off from Botany Bay before 0600 (AEDT) on Friday morning and plan to arrive at the Tent Embassy in the national capital on Australia Day.

The activists will also converge on Parliament House on February 3 – the first day back for federal parliament in 2009 – to protest for Aboriginal human rights.