Friday, September 30, 2005

Senator Demands Bennett Apology for Remark

Filed at 9:21 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats on Thursday demanded that former Education Secretary William Bennett apologize for remarks on his radio program linking the crime rate and the abortion of black babies.

Bennett responded that the comments, made Wednesday on his ''Morning in America'' show, had been mischaracterized and that his point was that the idea of supporting abortion to reduce crime was ''morally reprehensible.''

The author of ''The Book of Virtues,'' answering a caller's question, took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up.

''But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down,'' Bennett said. He went on to call that ''an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.''

On his show Thursday, the anti-abortion Bennett said he was ''pointing out that abortion should not be opposed for economic reasons any more than racism ... should be supported or opposed for economic reasons. Immoral policies are wrong because they are wrong, not because of an economic calculation.'' Reid, D-Nev., said he was ''appalled by Mr. Bennett's remarks'' and called on him ''to issue an immediate apology not only to African Americans but to the nation.''

Rep. Raum Emanuel, D-Ill., said in a statement, ''At the very time our country yearns for national unity in the wake of hurricane Katrina, these comments reflect a spirit of hate and division.''
Civil Rights Lawyer Baker Motley Dies

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 11:37 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- When she was 15, Constance Baker Motley was turned away from a public beach because she was black. It was only then -- even though her mother was active in the NAACP -- that the teenager really became interested in civil rights.

She went to law school and found herself fighting racism in landmark segregation cases including Brown v. Board of Education, the Central High School case in Arkansas and the case that let James Meredith enroll at the University of Mississippi. Motley also broke barriers herself: She was the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, as well the first one elected to the New York state Senate.

Motley, who would have celebrated her 40th anniversary on the bench next year, died Wednesday of congestive heart failure at NYU Downtown Hospital, said her son, Joel Motley III. She was 84. ''She is a person of a kind and stature the likes of which they're not making anymore,'' said Chief Judge Michael Mukasey in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where Motley served.

From 1961 to 1964, Motley won nine of 10 civil rights cases she argued before the Supreme Court. ''Judge Motley had the strength of a self-made star,'' federal Judge Kimba Wood said. ''As she grew, she was unfailingly optimistic and positive -- she never let herself be diverted from her goal of achieving civil rights, even though, as she developed as a lawyer, she faced almost constant condescension from our profession due to her being an African-American woman.''

Motley, who spent two decades with the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund, started out there in 1945 as a law clerk to Thurgood Marshall, then its chief counsel and later a Supreme Court justice. In 1950, she prepared the draft complaint for what would become Brown v. Board of Education.

In her autobiography, ''Equal Justice Under Law,'' Motley said defeat never entered her mind. ''We all believed that our time had come and that we had to go forward.'' The Supreme Court ruled in her and her colleagues' favor in 1954 in a decision credited with toppling public school segregation in America while touching off resistance across the country and leading to some of the racial clashes of the 1960s. In the early 1960s, she personally argued the Meredith case as well as the suit that resulted in the enrollment of two black students at the University of Georgia.

''Mrs. Motley's style could be deceptive, often allowing a witness to get away with one lie after another without challenging him,'' one of the students, journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, wrote in her 1992 book, ''In My Place.'' But she would ''suddenly threw a curve ball with so much skill and power that she would knock them off their chair.'' Motley also argued the 1957 case in Little Rock, Ark., that led President Eisenhower to call in federal troops to protect nine black students at Central High.

Also in the early 1960s, she successfully argued for 1,000 school children to be reinstated in Birmingham, Ala., after the local school board expelled them for demonstrating. She represented ''Freedom Riders'' who rode buses to test the Supreme Court's 1960 ruling prohibiting segregation in interstate transportation.

During this time, she represented the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as well, defending his right to march in Birmingham and Albany, Ga. Motley and the Legal Defense and Education Fund, committed to a careful strategy of dismantling segregation through the courts, were amazed by the emergence of more militant tactics such as lunch-counter sit-ins, but she came to believe that litigation was not the only road to equality. Recalling a 1963 visit to King in jail, she remarked, ''It was then I realized that we did indeed have a new civil rights leader -- a man willing to die for our freedom.''

Motley was born in New Haven, Conn., the ninth of 12 children. Her mother, Rachel Baker, was a founder of the New Haven chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Her father, Willoughby Alva Baker, worked as a chef for student organizations at Yale University. It was the beach incident that solidified the course her life would take.

Though her parents could not afford to send her to college, a local philanthropist, Clarence W. Blakeslee, offered to pay for her education after hearing her speak at a community meeting. Motley earned a degree in economics in 1943 from New York University, and three years later, got her law degree from Columbia Law School.

In the late 1950s, Motley took an interest in politics and by 1964 had left the NAACP to become the first black woman to serve in the New York Senate. In 1965, she became the first woman president of the borough of Manhattan, where she worked to promote integration in public schools. The following year, President Johnson nominated her to the federal bench in Manhattan. She was confirmed nine months later, though her appointment was opposed by conservative federal judges and Southern politicians.

Over the next four decades, Motley handled a number of civil rights cases, including her decision in 1978 allowing a female reporter to be admitted to the New York Yankees' locker room. Motley is survived by her husband and son, three sisters and a brother. Associated Press writer Karen Matthews contributed to this report.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Havana September 26, 2005

FBI let Puerto Rican independence fighter bleed to death

SAN JUAN, September 25.—The leader of the underground Puerto Rican People’s Army (EPB-Macheteros), Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, bled to death –virtually killed – due to lack of medical attention after being hit by a bullet in his right clavicle, it was confirmed today in this capital. Dr. Héctor Pesquera told Prensa Latina that "the FBI let him bleed to death," after being shot by a sniper brought in from the United States.

Pesquera, spokesperson for the Hostosiano National Independence Movement (MINH), took part in the autopsy last night in the capital’s Forensic Science Institute, during which it was confirmed that the body of the EPB-Macheteros leader only revealed one bullet wound.

Pesquera assured PL that evidently, the FBI tactic was not to intervene so that "Comandante Ojeda Ríos would bleed to death through lack of medical attention." "The bullet penetrated the top part of the right clavicle, crossed his lung and exited from his back, where it lodged in the bullet-proof vest that he was wearing," stated the doctor.

The death of Ojeda Ríos happened last Friday in the western municipality of Hormigueros, after he was surrounded by a contingent of 300-plus agents, including 20 snipers brought in from Virginia (United States). The 72-year-old leader, who used a pacemaker, was in Hormigueros to celebrate the Grito de Lares, when the independence movement recalls the proclamation of the first Republic of Puerto Rico on September 23, 1868.

Assassination in Puerto Rico

The FBI Murders a Legend


On September 23, 2005, hundreds of separatists gathered in a small town of Puerto Rico called Lares to conmemorate the 137- years old-failed revolutionary attempt against Spaniard colonial rule, known as Grito de Lares. At about 3:00 PM on that day, the crowd was listening to a recorded message from Filiberto Ojeda Rios, leader of the Boricua Popular Army, Los Macheteros (the Machete Wielders). Ojeda's recorded message had already become a staple of the Lares celebration for a number of years, as he could not speak in person to the public.

Filiberto Ojeda Rios has been in the FBI's most wanted list since 1990, when he jumped bail while awaiting prosecution for the 1983 Wells Fargo robbery in Hartford, Connecticut. During the fifteen years Ojeda Rios was a fugitive from the FBI, he had managed to stay active underground as an independentista leader, periodically giving interviews to the press and sending messages of unity to the sadly divided anti- imperialist forces in Puerto Rico. He was considered a Puerto Rican version of Che Guevara.

For years, the FBI offered a reward of one million dollars, for information leading to his arrest. According to Luis Fraticelli, head of the local FBI in San Juan, on September 20, 2005, they discovered Ojeda's hiding place in the mountains of Hormigueros, Puerto Rico. Fraticelli claims that twenty FBI agents surrounded the small shack where Filiberto Ojeda was hiding with his wife, Elma Beatriz Rosado, and decided to begin a stakeout.

The FBI also claims that three days later, on September 23, 2005 at about 3:00 PM, Ojeda suddenly opened the door of the shack and began firing at them, injuring one of the FBI agents in the stomach. They then returned the fire; so they say. Although the FBI had no further gun exchange with Ojeda after 3:00 PM, they decided to call Washington, D.C. and ask for instructions as to what to do.

Fraticelly says that they were instructed by Washington not to do anything. The town locals, suspecting that something was happening, gathered around the entrance of the farm where the events were happening and began yelling at the FBI agents, accusing them of having murdered someone (no reasonable person trusts the FBI in Puerto Rico). But the locals knew Filiberto as oldman Luis, a 72 years old and peaceful fellow, who lived in the small shack and used most of his time to plant tropical flowers. They had no idea that el viejo Luis was the famous Filiberto Ojeda Rios, el Comandante Machetero.

Meanwhile, hundreds of independentitas were now gathering in San Juan in front of the FBI's offices to denounce the assassination of Ojeda by FBI agents. They had a tip, as Filiberto had contacted a yet unknown person by use of a cell phone, and already by 4:00 PM on September 23, 2005 everybody in Puerto Rico knew what the FBI was doing something suspicious. The local media traveled to the Hormigueros region to obtain first hand information about the alleged confrontation between the FBI and the Machetero's leader.

The FBI, following instructions from Washington - they say- refused to give out any information. Pressured by the local media, the governor of Puerto Rico, Anibal Acevedo Vila, admitted that the FBI never informed local authorities that they were conducting an operation against Ojeda. Moreover, the FBI told the Puerto Rican government that no local official -including attorneys for the Commonwealth's government- could have access to the farm.

So, the FBI waited and waited, allegedly for instructions from Washington. According to Fraticelli, on September 24, 2005 at 4:00 AM, more than twelve hours after the gun exchange, a group of FBI agents arrived from Virginia to continue with the capture. They entered the farm and found Ojeda dead, with his hand on the chest, as if he had been trying to stop an hemorrhage. Thirteen hours later, at 5:00 PM, Fraticelli confirmed that Ojeda was dead and claimed that the FBI had acted in self defense. Because of other violent events against independentistas in Puerto Rico, no one believes the FBI's fishy story.

The governor of the Island -by no means a sympathizer with the independentista movement- told the press that the whole event was suspicious, that the FBI was trying to cover something. The head of the Catholic Church, archbishop Roberto González, lamented the death of Ojeda and referred to the FBI's actions as a "sinister operation." The FBI reluctantly agreed to the independentistas' demand that Filiberto's dead body be given immediately to the local authorities for an autopsy.

The autopsy was conducted the night of September 24, 2005 and revealed precisely what everybody feared the most: Filiberto slowly bled to death, while the FBI barred anyone from entering the shack to find out about his condition or to help him. According to Dr. Pio Rechany, coroner of the Institute for Forensic Medicine in San Juan, Filiberto received a single bullet wound in his shoulder that perforated one of his lungs and went out in the lower back region. It was not a wound that could kill someone instantly.

With medical care, Ojeda could have been saved. It was a slow and painful death. As with the killing of two independentistas by the Puerto Rican police in 1978 (which brought suspicions as to FBI wrongdoing), there is fortunately a civilian witness as to what happened in Hormigueros on September 23, 2005: Filiberto's own surviving wife, Elma. Perhaps the only thing that the FBI told the local media, hours and hours after the shooting, is the fact that they had arrested Ojeda's wife, and that she was in FBI's custody.

In fact, they kept her in custody until the morning of September 24, 2005, never informing her that her husband was dead. But Elma's version of the story completely refuses the FBI's tale. She says that at some point in time, a considerable number of FBI agents approached the shack firing at will. Fearing for Elma's well-being, Filiberto managed to shout at them and negotiate with the FBI the safety of his wife. She walked out of the shack, and the FBI blindfolded her, putting the now typical duct tape on her eyes.

She was immediately taken away and kept uninformed of events. Filiberto, she says, knew that the FBI was there to kill him and did not talk at any time about surrendering himself. After all, that is what happened in Cerro Maravilla, where the local police -acting allegedly in cohort with the FBI- executed two unarmed independentistas, well after they had surrendered to the authorities. The Attorney General for Puerto Rico has already corroborated Elma's story. The FBI fired more than a hundred rounds of bullets. Filiberto was able to respond only ten times.

There was no attempt to arrest him; they came to kill him with premeditation. Filiberto had a good reason to believe that the FBI was there to kill him in a deliberate fashion. In 1985, when the FBI went to arrest Ojeda in relation to the Wells Fargo robbery, he exchanged fire with them and allegedly injured an FBI agent in the face.

The FBI filed criminal charges against Ojeda, and he was prosecuted in the federal court in Puerto Rico for the alleged attempt to injure an FBI agent. In the middle of the trial, Ojeda fired his attorneys and filed a pro se appearance. He defended himself and was acquitted. The jurors believed Ojeda's version of the events, that he had reason to believe that the FBI was trying to execute him and, thus, that he acted in self-defense.

Added to this, exactly fifteen years ago, on September 23, 1990, Filiberto Ojeda got rid of an electronic ankle bracelet that was imposed on him by a federal judge in Hartford, Connecticut, as a further condition for his one million dollar bail release, after he was charged with conspiracy in the Wells Fargo seven million dollars robbery.

From 1990 to 2005, Filiberto was running loose in Puerto Rico, outsmarting the FBI on an Island that is smaller than the State of Connecticut and where everybody, through means of gossip, can easily find out what the other islanders are doing, even in their bed. So, the FBI knew for sure that Filiberto was being protected by the community at large. The FBI had a motive for their assassination.

Filiberto Ojeda was buried the afternoon of September 27, 2005, as a hero in his hometown of Naguabo, Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican Bar Association has announced that it will conduct a full investigation -together with the Government of Puerto Rico- to determine if the FBI murdered Ojeda. His wake will be tonight at the Puerto Rican Bar Association Building in Miramar, Puerto Rico. It is not strange that the killing of Filiberto Ojeda by the FBI has united Puerto Ricans in a way not seen since the struggle to stop the use of Vieques for military practices.

Most people in the Island believe that Ojeda was killed in a premeditated fashion on September 23, 2005, as a way of sending a message to the independentista movement. An almost identical thing happened on July 25, 1978 -the anniversary of the U.S. military invasion of Puerto Rico- in Cerro Maravilla, which were the basis of the film Show of Force with Robert Duval.

On that occasion, however, the FBI hid behind the local police to conduct the operation that resulted in the assassination of two independentistas. The FBI did not do the shooting, but no one doubts that they acted as co-conspirators. So, on September 23, 2005, in the town of Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, the FBI murdered a legend, but in the process, stupidly, they created a bigger one.

Rafael Rodriguez Cruz is an attorney in Hartford, Connecticut. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Rosenberg Fund for Children and one of the directors of Claridad, an independentista newspaper in Puerto Rico. In 2000 he was convicted in federal court for civil disobedience in Vieques. He lives in Springfiled, Massachussets and can be contacted at
Al Jazeera Spain Correspondent Sentenced to Prison on Charges of Collaborating with al Qaeda

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

Al Jazeera correspondent, Taysir Allouni, rose to prominence after conducting the first interview with Osama bin Laden after 9/11. A Spanish court has just sentenced him to 7 years in prison on charges he aided al Qaeda. We go to Spain to speak with journalist Lamis Andoni, who currently works as a consultant for al Jazeera. She was with Taysir Allouni one of the three times when he was arrested on charges of collaborating with al Qaeda.

A Spanish court has sentenced al Jazeera correspondent Taysir Allouni to 7 years in prison after convicting him of collaborating with al Qaeda. Allouni was convicted along with 17 other men.

Among them, a man identified by prosecutors as the leading al Qaeda figure in the country, Syrian Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah. He was accused of organizing a meeting in northern Spain in July 2001 in which final preparations for the September 11 attacks are alleged to have been made. According to the prosecution, the meeting was attended by alleged 9-11 hijacker Mohamed Atta.

The prosecutions were brought by the famed Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, famous for his indictment of Augusto Pinochet. He has been criticized widely by human rights groups for these current prosecutions, saying they are based on political motives rather than actual guilt. As for al Jazeera's Allouni, the network says it is appealing his sentence. Allouni gained fame by broadcasting the first interview with Osama bin Laden, from Afghanistan, after September 11.

Allouni has lived and worked in Spain for many years. His boss, Al Jazeera news editor Ahmed Sheikh, told his station that the conviction marked "a black day for Spanish justice."

Lamis Andoni, Longtime independent journalist covering the Middle East. She is currently a consultant for al Jazeera. She was with Taysir Allouni one of the 3 times he was arrested by Spanish authorities in connection with this case.

AMY GOODMAN: We wrap up the show on the Spanish court sentencing of the al Jazeera correspondent, Taysir Allouni, to seven years in prison after convicting him of collaborating with al Qaeda. We go now to Spain to Lamis Andoni, longtime independent reporter. Welcome to Democracy Now!


AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. We only have a minute. Can you tell us about the sentencing of this al Jazeera reporter?

LAMIS ANDONI: Yes. Three years ago, Taysir was detained and charged with first, innocently, belonging to al Qaeda and then collaboration with al-Qaeda. And when we discovered that it was [ inaudible ] evidence, mostly phone calls that they were monitoring, and they tried to reconstrue those phone calls to indict Taysir. And although the hearings proved him innocent of those – like that, the phone calls were – had proved nothing. Then they started talking about his interview with bin Laden. He had an exclusive interview with bin Laden a few weeks after 9/11, during the bombing of Afghanistan, and for obvious reasons, because he was the only TV journalist in Kabul, because al Jazeera had had an office in Kabul for two years before 9/11 or two years and a half, as well as because Allouni at the time was the [inaudible] and al Jazeera for the interview since al Jazeera had had an agreement then with – about information sharing and including the interview with CNN. So during the hearing, the prosecution came --

AMY GOODMAN: We have 20 seconds. Lamis, we have 20 seconds.

LAMIS ANDONI: Yeah. Okay. He used the interview to try to prove that Taysir [inaudible] collaborations with bin Laden. And we think at al Jazeera that these are foundless allegations. Al Jazeera stands by Taysir.

AMY GOODMAN: Lamis Andoni, we’re going to have to leave it there, but we’ll continue to follow this story. Lamis Andoni, who works with al Jazeera.

Copyright © 2005

Democracy Now!, All Rights Reserved

Taysir Alluni: A reporter behind bars

Some images from Afghanistan were too distressing to show Taysir Alluni could never have suspected that the 9/11 attacks and the US war against Afghanistan in its hunt for al- Qaida and Taliban leaders would dramatically change his life.

Alluni, who began his career as an Arabic translator for a news agency in Granada, Spain, is credited as being the only journalist based in Afghanistan in October 2001 to show the world what the US war machine was doing to one of the world's poorest countries. By then working for Aljazeera, Alluni was able to capture images of civilian victims in the destitute villages of Afghanistan and the miserable streets of Kabul. His coverage triggered international outrage over the US action in Afghanistan.

Alluni's work in that war-torn country came to an end when US forces bombed Aljazeera's Kabul office just hours before the Northern Alliance entered the Afghan capital. While many say the office was deliberately targeted, Aljazeera keeps an open mind, while still asking for an official investigation. Alluni left Kabul shortly before his office was bombed, following the Taliban retreat and reporting on it.

Much of what he witnessed was too distressing to show and he was himself assaulted. "Scenes that, I'm sorry, I could not describe to anybody," he said. Beaten and mugged, Alluni has not said who attacked him but described the incident as leaving him "in deep psychological shock". Back to Qatar Alluni returned to Doha, Qatar, exhausted and with mixed emotions. Although professionally satisfied at being able to report the war - reportage that earned him international recognition - the images of suffering were painful to carry.

A respected member of staff, the appreciation he received from his colleagues back in Doha helped Alluni recover from his stint in Afghanistan and surgery he underwent in the Qatari capital. To war zone once more Despite his deteriorating health, Alluni headed to Baghdad in the second week of the US war on Iraq in March 2003 on his next assignment. While reporting there, he once more narrowly escaped a US bombardment. That he survived the US bombing of the Aljazeera Baghdad bureau is little short of a miracle. Aljazeera continues to pursue an official response to this attack - an onslaught that killed his colleague, Aljazeera reporter Tariq Ayub.

Behind bars

When US President George Bush officially declared the Iraq war over, Alluni chose Spain as his destination for a holiday, thinking that his Spanish citizenship would help him avoid harassment and facilitate his movements.

His hopes proved to be unfounded. Syrian-born Alluni, a father of five, was arrested in September 2003 at his home in Granada. He is accused of being a member of a group in Spain belonging to al-Qaida. Alluni was bailed on medical grounds about a month later. He has a serious heart condition.

However, he was re-arrested in November 2003 for fear he may flee the country while awaiting trial. He remains behind bars, a situation that has sparked outrage among Arab human rights groups, journalists and colleagues, who describe this controversial prosecution of this very modern Arab icon as nothing more than an attack on the freedom of the press.

You can find this article at:

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hundreds of Thousands March Against the Iraq War in Nation's Capital

Movement for peace attacks Bush program from New Orleans to the Middle-East

By Abayomi Azikiwe,
Editor Pan-African News Wire

WASHINGTON, 24 September, 2005 (PANW)--They came from as far away as Alaska and California, from Europe to the nation's capital itself, to make a clear statement that United States military forces should withdraw immediately from Iraq. Honest crowd estimates of the demonstration ranged from 500,000- 600,000 (some even thought there were more) making it the largest demonstration in the capital since the winter of 2003.

With President Bush's approval rating falling every week, the American peace movement is expanding its focus to include the domestic crisis engendered by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and across the Gulf coast. Many marchers carried signs deploring the administration's failure to respond to a domestic disaster which had been predicted. At the opening rally near the White House, speaker after speaker blasted the foreign and domestic policies of what they described as a nefarious and out of touch political leadership.

The speakers list included: Cindy Sheehan, the military mother whose son Casey was killed in Iraq last year and the driving force behind the peace encampment established outside President Bush's vacation ranch in Crawford, Texas; Rev. Jesse Jackson, longtime civil rights activists and head of the Rainbow/Push Coalition; former Attorney General Ramsey Clark; Curtis Muhammad, veteran civil rights activists advocating on behalf of his fellow community members in New Orleans, and many more.

"If you are against the war you must be against the war against blacks, poor black uneducated people," said Curtis Muhammad.

"We want to say to you that we thank you for all the food and water and clothes that you've sent. But the time has arrived to honor those people, to honor their voices, to honor their genius, to honor their desires and their hopes for self-determination. It is your job now to find out what they are asking you. And I am going to give you the three things here today."

Muhammad continued by saying that: "One we wanna go and find our people, they are hidding them from us. They have scattered them all over the country. We have 250,000 of them in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We want to knock every one of those doors, talk to them about all this activity, see if they want the space that they left. And if they build a condo on it, its yours. And if they build a hotel on it, its yours. What ever they build on that spot of land that we had to leave, we want it." "We are asking that what ever town you are living in to find our people to put it on our web page: [check the following] . Let us know where our people are. If you are a teacher, tell us where the children come from. If you are a social worker, tell us where they come from. If you work with FEMA, Red Cross, tell us if you know where they are. They say they don't know where our people are. You know how to knock doors. We need volunteers to knock doors."

"Number 2, we want the labor movement to pay for those door knocking processes. Help us train volunteers to knock those doors. We are going to use the month of October we think to knock on every door in Baton Rouge."

"Number 3, we want the unions, the skill craft unions, to pay for and to assist in the apprenticeships of learning how to rebuild their houses and put their lives back together. But you must understand that nobody has ever respected the voices of these people. So our number one program is to hear the voices of these people. Thank you, thank you. Stop the war against black and poor people in America," Muhammad concluded.

A representative of the Iraqi-Americans for Peaceful Alternatives, Anan Shalal, spoke on the current situation. "No more war, bring the troops home now," he said.

"2,000 U.S. soldiers and over 100,000 Iraqis are dead and counting. We were told that we went into Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction which they knew there were none. We were told that we would conduct this war on the cheap. We have already spent $200 billion and there is no end in sight. We were told that it would take a handful of forces to conduct this war. We have over a 140,000 troops and more needed, many of whom are desparately needed on our own soil in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. "

"We were told that the mission was accomplished," Shalal continued, "31 months later the war rages on. This administration has not only missed the bull's eye on this one, they have missed the bull all together. But obviously this administration knows a lot about bull. How many more lives will it take before this administration stops the bull and levels with the Iraqis and American people. How many more Caseys, Sherwoods, and Joses, and Ahmeds, and Muhammads, how many more Katrinas and Ritas will it take before the administration stops the bull and lies."

"With each passing day, with each seige of an Iraqi city, the insurgency is growing, hatred towards our military is growing, anger towards Americans is growing. Iraqis are telling us that they have had enough of this bull. Why, because when you kill innocent people, when you destroy someone's home, when you create conditions that make it not worth living, like cutting off water and electricity or access to hospitals, you leave people little option but to join some kind of resistance," the Iraqi-American pointed out.

"Those of us who are gathered here today are the true patriots. We stand in solidarity with all peace loving people throughout the world. We stand together to tell this administration we are tired of their lies and we demand an end to this war and to bring the troops home now," he concluded.

Other speakers then came on from the American Friend's Service Committee and the United for Peace and Justice. The AFSC stated its policy of calling for the troops to be brought home immediately. Leslie Cagan of the UFPJ expressed her satisfaction about the huge crowds spread out across the areas surrounding Constitution avenue.

"As far as you can see the people have come to Washington and we are angry. The president, that dangerous man who pretends to be the leader of this country, he won't come to talk to us, so we come to talk to him. We are here because its not only the White House where the problem is but those people, besides a handful, aside from the Cynthia McKinneys, Lyn Woolseys and the Dennis Kucinichs, aside from them, the co-conspirators up their on Capital Hill need to hear from us."

"We come to Washington at a moment when our nation is at a crossroads", said Cagan. Will we continue to pour billions of dollars and endless lives into a war based on greed and empire building or will we turn this country around and start by rebuilding the Gulf coast? Our choice is clear. You know what needs to be done. The problem is the policy makers don't know. So we're here not only today in massive numbers but today and tomorrow and Monday in every way possible by marching and rallying and by civil disobedience on Monday at the White House and a day of lobbying on Monday on Capital Hill, we say end the war, bring the troops home now," Cagan said.

Cagan then introduced the Rev. Jesse Jackson who took the stage. He began by acknowledging the role of Cindy Sheehan in raising the profile of the anti-war movement. "Cindy Sheehan we thank you for being a witness in the great tradition of Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hammer, Helen Keller and Harriet Tubman. Thank you for being a witness without guns and bombs, armed only with integrity. Your light challenges the darkness. Your light is being seen and heat is being felt around the world. Thank you Cindy Sheehan."

Rev. Jackson continued by saying that "America, the whole world is watching. National security begins in New Orleans. Homeland security at home. Emergency preparedness was not prepared for the emergency. The Gulf states policy at home and abroad has failed. We must go another way. In our quest to make this a more perfect world, a world of peace, there is a time for war and peace. There's a time for war. Some forces of evil are so intractable and entrenched there must be wars of conscience to break down the walls to rescue the innocent. The walls of fascism, anti-semitism, racism are bounding threads of oppression."

"There is a time for war. Fighting a war to preserve the union and end slavery, a war worth fighting. Fighting World War II to fight fascism, anti-semitism, racism and religious bigotry, a war worth fighting..... Wars based on natonal interests. Invading Grenada was not such a war. Bombing Panama was not such a war. A war fought in Iraq is not such a war. An Iraq war built up on lies. A house built on sands. 2,100 Americans dead, tens of thousands of Iraqis dead.

$200 billion later we deserve peace and justice," Rev. Jackson continued. "We deserve another way and a better leadership. Cindy we thank you for your shining light in darkness. In our quest for peace I know its dark but morning cometh. Don't let them break our spirit. Keep marching its a long road, but keep marching. When we march things happen. We'll change the Congress in 2006. We'll take back the White House in 2008. Its dark but the morning cometh. So march on, fight on, forward by hope, not backwards by fear. End the war, bring the troops home now," Rev. Jackson concluded.

Cindy Sheehan was then introduced as representing the Gold Star Families for Peace and Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour. "This is amazing, you are part of history," Sheehan began. Pat yourselves on the back for being here. We need a people's movement to end this war."

"My good friends in the media are not doing there jobs. Most of our friends in Congress aren't doing there jobs. George Bush certainly isn't doing his job. So you know what, we have to do our jobs as Americans. We will do our jobs by being the checks and balances for this out of control criminal government. This government which condones torture. We don't torture, we're human beings. We don't torture other human beings. We have to reclaim our humanity. We have to show the world Americans don't torture and its not ok for anybody to torture another human being," Sheehan said.

"Americans don't invade countries and occupy countries preemptively that are no threat to our country. It is not ok for other countries to do that either. We are here in massive amounts of people to show our government, to show our media, to show America that we mean business and that we are not going home until the last one of our troops are home."

Sheehan said that she could not believe that so many people were walking up to her and "saying thank you for being here. Thank you for being here. If there were not thousands of people who came to join us in Camp Casey and the millions who supported us, I would still be sitting in that ditch. You guys got us out of that ditch and you got us to our nation's capital and we mean business George Bush. And we are going to Congress and we are going to ask them: how many more of other people's children that you are willing to sacrifice for the lies? And we are going to say shame on you."

"We are going to tell Congress that you should be a shame for allowing him to do this. Not one person should have died. Not one more should die. "

She then led the vast crowd in a chant: "Not one more, not one more. Thank you I love you," Sheehan concluded after telling the crowd.

March Around the White House

The crowds were so large at the time that all persons were not able to leave the park. In all the streets surrounding the White House inlcuding Constitution ave., 15th Street and Pennsylvania, there were people lining the streets from sidewalk to sidewalk. There were hundreds of banners and homemade signs. These banners and slogans read: "Bring the Troops Home Now", "Money for Jobs Not War", "Michigan Says No to War," etc. The march began to have people break off and head towards the Congress as well as other areas.

It took several hours for the march to wind back up at the area across from the initial rally. At three o'clock in the afternoon a concert began. It featured Joan Baez, Jello Biafra, the Coup and others.

Much emphasis was placed on the need for people to take action in their own communities. This demonstration in the capital was a clear representation of what the majority of people in the United States really feel about the war and the Bush administration in general.
Annan forced to abort visit

Zimbabwe Herald Reporter

UNITED NATIONS Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan was forced to abort his visit to assess Zimbabwe’s clean-up operation and its aftermath following the politicisation of the trip by Britain and the United States.

This emerged at a meeting between Mr Annan and President Mugabe at the UN headquarters in New York on the sidelines of the just-ended UN World Summit and the 60th Session of the General Assembly. Officials who attended the meeting said Mr Annan told the President that he deferred his visit because he wanted to make sure the parameters were right. Cde Mugabe voiced concern over the politicisation of the impending visit by Britain and the US.

"What I didn’t like was the fact of other parties coming in, the British, the Americans trying to set the agenda for your visit. "When I extended the invitation to you, it was meant to correct yourself in respect of the unbalanced and misleading report (on the clean-up operation) from (UN special envoy) Mrs (Anna) Tibaijuka," the officials quoted President Mugabe as having told Mr Annan. The officials said the UN chief agreed that his visit had been highly politicised. "It was important for us to set the limits for the visit," the officials quoted Mr Annan as saying.

The UN Secretary-General said that was why he had asked an official in his office to work out a programme for the visit. The official would work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, taking into account that Zimbabwe would be having Senate elections soon while the ruling Zanu- PF would be holding its annual National People’s Conference in December.

During the meeting, the UN made known its willingness to assist Harare in alleviating the effects of drought. But the President complained about the tendency among non- governmental organisations (NGOs) of taking advantage of channelling UN aid to promote their own agendas of political interference. "What we do not want is for the UN to give grain to NGOs so they make politics out of it," said Cde Mugabe.

He, however, said there were some upright, bona fide, non- partisan NGOs, but those with political missions had the problem of politicising food aid. President Mugabe suggested the UN could make use of the machinery Zimbabwe has used whenever it has experiences drought. This has always included chiefs who are in a position to know people in their areas of jurisdiction requiring assistance. The officials said the UN humanitarian co-ordinator, who also attended the meeting, intervened at that point and said worldwide the world body used NGOs for cost effective reasons.

"But we do not accept politicisation of food. Politicisation of food is what we do not need," the co-ordinator reportedly said. Mr Annan then offered to dispatch the co-ordinator to Zimbabwe to audit the food distribution machinery of the UN and the NGOs it works with. The co-ordinator, who is expected in the country in November, will also assess the traditional structures Government has been using to distribute food relief in times of drought.

The officials said by the co-ordinator’s own admission, the UN indicated that they did not see any difficulties with the Zimbabwean Government meeting the food requirements of the ordinary people. They saw problems coming in from December onwards because that is the time when food reserves in most households begin to diminish.
Test for blog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Democracy Now! Interview With Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

Monday, September 19th, 2005

Hugo Chavez: "If the Imperialist Government of the White House Dares to Invade Venezuela, the War of 100 Years Will be Unleashed in South America"
listen at

MARGARET PRESCOD: President Chavez, speaking of the other super power, the Bush administration via Rumsfeld referred to you as a threat to the region. Many of us translating that on a grass root level assume that means thatyou're doing something that really rattles the Bush administration and means also that you're wildly popular in the region. Which we have seen. I want you to comment on two things. In relation to women and also the relationship between the middle class and the grassroots. You're the only president who has said that to deal with poverty, you have to give power to the poor, 70% of whom are women. Why did you say this? And how are you putting it intopractice? And also in relation to the middle class and the grassroots ofthat relationship, some of us have often seen how middle class professionalswho are used to being in charge, instead of putting their skills at theservice of the grassroots, cling to power and keep the grassroots out. How are you addressing the class issue in Venezuela so that the movement here can learn from it?

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: That's a very important issue you are raising there.Because you are touching the core, the very core of any transformation process. Beat reformists, beat revolutionaries, beat an abrupt process or aggressive process, moderate or radical. In any transformation process, social transformation process, economic transformation process, political--is doomed to fail without the participation of the grassroots and the population. The people, the communities, they are like the fuel. They arethe fuel of revolution, of the processes. Without them there's norevolution. It’s like water. It's just a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. Or air, oxygen is important for this mixture to occur. That is why when you go to the plenary sessions of the U.N., I feel like oxygen is missing there. Because it is so removed from the reality of the people, of the needs of thepeople. You ask me then, in the Bolivarian revolution, the role of the grassroots communities, the women and men, as well of course. But the grassroots and communities, their role is vital, and it’s more dynamic. It's very beautiful in the roles they have to play. Just to give you an idea of some of the experiences we have had in Venezuela. I leave for Venezuela this weekend. Next week we are going to have an event in Caracas with thousands of peoplewho are part of the Urban Land Committee, the C.T.U. in Spanish.

These committees of urban land are all over the country. They are in each neighborhood, poor neighborhood. You have a committee. The members of this committee should watch the whole neighborhood. And then they draft the map of the neighborhood. They go house by house, family by family and they assess all the problems. If they lack running water or if some of the houses are unstable and they could fall down. How many children they have. The schools. The health care system in the neighborhood and so on. So these are the urban land communities. We also have the technical commissions of water. These technical commissionsof water interact with the urban land committee. They take care of the water supply and also the sewage system.

There are other technical groups to takecare of energy supply, electricity supply especially. We have also the health committee. The rural land committees in the rural areas. We also have housing cooperatives. In large networks of grassroots organizations, as youknow, in the constitution that we have drafted, in the government we foster these grassroots movements. Here we have been trying the democratic model. It is the revolutionary democracy. But it is not only a representative democracy. It is a participatory democracy and beyond that it is a fully and meaningful democracy. And Abraham Lincoln already said this: the governmentof the people, for the people and by the people. That what we say here is totransfer power to the people, especially the poorest of the poor. If you want to get rid of poverty, we need to empower the poor. Not to treat them like beggars. And this week we're going to give money, we’re going to give financial resources to these neighborhood committees, grassroots organizations, we’re going to give them technical resources, equipment, weare going to carry out the housing schemes, infrastructure schemes, wate rsupply, electricity supply schemes. So this is a beautiful task we are conducting.

Because there, we are reducing to zero, the possibility of corruption because we give the money to the population themselves. And they put it inthe bank, they help to make withdrawals and then execute the budget. They have to save some money also. And, of course, the money is to better used. They do the social oversight of the use of the moneys. Efficiency, because the work will profit them. It not a private company that is going to do the job and they take the profit and in the end the community is poorer than before. And let me tell you this. In all these committees, cooperatives, the women play a major role. Without women there would be no revolution. Artists arenever wrong when they paint revolution with the beautiful dress and with the sword. On the horse or by foot. Because revolution is a woman. A woman isthe revolution. But the poverty also is the face of the woman. And the hopesis also woman. And nature is also woman. There will be no probability ofsuccess without the creative participation and the powerful participation of women.


JUAN GONZALEZ: Mr. President, there's no longer any doubt that the majorityof the people in Venezuela support your government. But there are still those in Venezuela who say that you are using that majority support to stamp out the dissident views. Recently, I participated in a forum at ColumbiaUniversity with Gustavo Cisnero, the head of Venevision, where he insisted that you are not allowing a free press to continue to function in Venezuela.I asked him, well what is the press of Venezuela doing organizing political coups? But I'd like you to talk about the role of the press in your democratic revolution and the importance of the press in general in communicating ideas to the mass of the people.

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: Ignacio Ramonet recently wrote a piece called “The Media Dictatorship” because most of the media, not only in Venezuela but allover the world as well, they are in the hands of very powerful people. Very powerful economic people. For instance this person you refer to is a clear example of that. And he was one of the ones taking part in the coup in that time. And he use all his media power and all the private channels inVenezuela and all the media, the press, newspapers and private TV station seven succeeded in fooling the international public opinion for some time.They depicted me as a tyrant who massacred his people. The tyrant was defeated, was overthrown, was toppled. However, a few hours after that, the people who toppled the tyrant brought the tyrant back. So they were nakedbefore the world, of course.

So that is one of the problems the world is facing today, the media’s tyranny and that we have been denouncing around the world. However, at the same time we are very encouraged by the fact that we have excellent shows. Every day the more the truth is being revealed in the Hurricane. I waswatching CNN during the Katrina disaster, and you can see how thejournalists-- I remember a lady who was in the eye of the hurricane, Inez Fered, I think the name of this lady. I watched a lot of TV at the timeduring Katrina. Well she started to interview people and telling the truth. And then another journalist, and they started to criticize the government for the way they reacted to the tragedy. So the powers could not silence thetruth. Not even through CNN. And other media, large media. Now in Venezuela we have full freedom of the press. I doubt very much that there is any other country where freedom of the speech is so respected in Venezuela.

For instance, Luis Zapatero, the president of the Spanish government, he arrived late, and I waited for him in the palace the next day. When he saw me, hetold me, Chavez, I had many news about you and about freedom of speech. Now,this morning I saw two hours of TV shows. And I read the papers. I have no doubt in my mind that here you have full and total freedom of speech. Andthis will continue to be so.

And all these rumors and attacks against us are totally untrue. And I think here in the United States you have a journalist in jail because she did not reveal her sources. This has never, in other parts of our history, never happened. Journalists who were in jail and journalists killed or persecuted. Today, there is total freedom Venezuela.This is part of the dynamic of the revolutionary democracy. And what the capitalists of the media do not forgive us, forgive the people because wehave demonstrated that the people are fully aware of the reality defeat the media campaign. You ask about the middle class. I forgot to mention the middle classes. This is important. The same struggles -- the same reality that was discovered openly in the world is touching today the middle class. In Venezuela, middle class’s current is appearing all over the country. And they are adding up.They are joining the process. After the coup there is this movement called middle class in positive this is a movement which is growing every day.

When the medical doctors, the Cuban doctors arrived in Venezuela. The media launched a campaign against these Cuban doctors. And they succeeded inmaking the middle class to oppose the presence of the Cuban doctors inVenezuela. They succeeded in preventing Venezuelan doctors to join these health care schemes. It was insanity, total insanity. Today, however, we have thousands of Venezuelan doctors joining the Cuban doctors in these programs. We have dentists, ophthalmologists, and the “Into theNeighborhood” project, the health care program, today, two hundred millionof doctors seeing patients in poor neighborhoods. We have twenty-fivemillion people. It means that it’s four times the population. It’s like eachVenezuelan has gone to the doctor four times, and these being free of charge procedures with the medication.

The Venezuelan doctors today are joiningthis scheme. And together with Castro, we have signed an agreement to form,to train two hundred thousand doctors in ten years. To train them in SouthAmerica, Africa and the U.S., social doctors, doctors who are not charging,those who are saving lives. People who are giving a lending hand to thepoor. That’s the medical doctors we need. We have also started a projectcalled “The Miracle Project,” and we put this project today to be at the disposal of the U.S. If you know someone – tomorrow when you show this broadcast this show and you have people who have eye problems and theycannot afford an eye surgery, please, go to the Venezuelan Consulate in theU.S. Go to the U.S. Embassy in Washington. Go to CITGO.

We can guarantee the transportation of these people to Caracas and Havana free, totally free ofcharge. These people could undergo eye surgery. This year we have conducted close to 100,000 eye surgeries, cataracts. In children, when you do not operate these cataracts, they can go blind, cornea operations, estavism,myopia and many others. You wear glasses and you are writing pretty well,right? If you remove your glasses, you cannot read. It’s going to bedifficult.

The same thing. I am 51 years old. So I have problems with my eyes. I need glasses. There are people who cannot read because no one has told them that they should wear glasses. They don't have glasses to read –millions of human beings. So we have this plan with Fidel, and we haveagreed to do this in the next 10 years, and we have already started, 2005 to2015, we are going to operate to conduct eye surgery to a million people. 600,000 people per year. That's a miracle surgery. And that includes theU.S. people, especially the poorest of the poor. Help us to help these people who are suffering from eye diseases.

AMY GOODMAN: Mr. President, I know you have to go, but why are you calling for the extradition of Luis Posada to Venezuela?

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: Well, you know that this gentleman – there is ample evidence that this guy is a terrorist, clear evidence that he took part and he masterminded, among many other terrorist attacks, in the blowing the Cuban plane that was coming from Barbados to Caracas. It was blown up, and 73 people died as a result of this terrorist attack. But also in Venezuela this person occupied a senior position in the political police force, andthere are many evidences of tortures, of people missing as a result of his acts. It was in the 1960's and the 1970's. So this gentleman, Posada, was already condemned in Venezuela for the blowing of the plane. He was in jail, but he fled. He escaped with the connivance of friends in jail. So we have the duty, once we located him – and we located him here in the U.S. – well it is our duty to request that he is extradited to Venezuela because he is a murderer. He is an assassin. He's a terrorist. He's a very dangerous person. He has caused a lot of harm, and he could even cause more harm, by himself and in a network he is leading, because he is very active. If he were in jail, he would be the mastermind of the terrorist network that already took part in the coup attempt in Venezuela, like snipers for instance, they were sent to kill people. So they blame me for those deaths. So this personshould be extradited in Venezuela.

AMY GOODMAN: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in his first sit-down interview in the United States. Tomorrow we bring you the rest of the conversation, where we ask him what evidence he has for his charges that theBush administration has attempted to assassinate him. We also talked to him about the offer of cheap oil to the poor of the United States.Tuesday, September 20th, 2005Venezuela's President Chavez Offers Cheap Oil to the Poor...of the UnitedStates.

We play the rest of our conversation with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He spoke with Democracy Now! in his first interview in the United States. We ask him what evidence he has for his charges that the Bush administration has attempted to assassinate him and he reveals for the first time, details of a plan to offer of cheap oil to the poor...of the United States.

Today, the rest of our interview with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.President Chavez was in New York last week for a summit of world leaders at the United Nations. In his speech, Chavez blasted US foreign policy andaccused the Bush administration of trying to hijack the UN summit. He described the United States as a terrorist nation because it is harboring the televangelist Pat Robertson who recently called for his assassination.Chavez has long charged that the US was behind the aborted coup against himin 2002. In the interview, he reveals for the first time, details of a plan to offer of cheap oil to the poor...of the United States. Democracy Now! met with President Chavez on Friday in his first sit-down interview in the United States. I interviewed him with Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez and Margaret Prescod of Pacifica Radio station KPFK atthe Venezuelan ambassador to the UN's residence here in New York City.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

AMY GOODMAN: Welcome Mr. President to the United States. You have come to a country whose government, the U.S. government, you have accused of trying to assassinate you. What evidence do you have of this and of your other charge that it was involved with the attempted coup against you?

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: Thank you for the invitation to come to this show,Juan, Amy and Margaret and my greetings to all the people and the viewers and the listeners to these programs these well known programs. Let’s talk about life, rather than death, because we are fighting for life. However there are always threats, those who are devoted to the struggle for life and use the truth as a flag and or principles as a lifeline. There is no doubt whatsoever that the U.S. government, led by Mr. Bush, planned and participated in a coup d’etat in Venezuela in April, 2002. There’re many proofs and evidence of this.

There is a U.S. lady who wrote a book called the “Chavez’s Code,” Mrs. Eva Golinger and she was sitting here not too long ago, and she is very close and there are declassified documents that she has found thanks to an effort to investigate the situation.I have many evidences that my assassination was ordered on April the 11. More precisely on April the 12, and I was ready to die, however thank Godand thanks to the Venezuelan people and thanks to the soldiers, Venezuelan soldiers, this order was not accomplished and this order was given byWashington.

And there are many evidences and witnesses, however I would liketo talk about life and greet the U.S. people with a lot of affection, with a lot of love and with a lot of pain due to the tragedy in New Orleans and the gulf states.We’ve been accompanying these states from the very beginning, and we’ve been watching TV and receiving reports by our ambassadors and the CITGO peoplefrom the very beginning, cooperating very humbly trying to save lives and assist the homeless. We have offered assistance, up to five million dollars,a very modest sum, but I guess it would be useful. We have offered medicine,water, and electric power plants, the same way Cuba offered doctors. So far we have not being authorize to reach the area. However, we hope the best forthe poor, the poorest of these countries.

AMY GOODMAN: And televangelist Pat Robertson, his call for yourassassination. What do you demand now, what is your response to that?

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: Well as a matter of fact, Robertson is not acting alone. He’s just conveying, in a perhaps desperate manner, the thinking ofthose people closer to Mr. Bush. This is the voice of the most radical - ofthe extreme right wing in the U.S., I am totally convinced that is the situation with Mr. Robertson. And as you can see, so far there has been no reaction by the U.S. government in this regard. There’s nothing being saidabout these terrorist remarks that is in full breach of international lawand breaches the laws of the United States. But it’s not only Mr. Robertson here. For some time, for some months, people who participated in a coup attempt in Venezuela and are living here in the United States. And from TV stations in this country these people are calling for my assassination. A week ago, in another TV show, people in uniform, infatigues, like terrorists. Venezuelans and Americans and Cubans exiled inthe United States, and a former agent of the CIA, very recently said on TV that Chavez should be dead already. That Robertson is right.

So this is the desire and the voice of the ultraconservative right-wing elite of the United States. They threatened Chavez. Chavez is nothing. Who is me? I’m nothing.They are threatening the world. That is serious. They invaded Iraq. Withoutany reason whatsoever. They violated international law and are ignoring the rules of the U.N. Terrorists bombard complete cities, such as Fallujah,Baghdad, innocent women and children. Now, history is long. Hiroshima forinstance-- Nagasaki, Grenada, Haiti, Panama, Santo Domingo. No, that is not - they do not represent the people of the United States. They are part of the imperialist dictatorship that the U.S. people are suffering today.

MARGARET PRESCOD: Mr. President, on behalf of KPFK, Pacifica Radio in Southern California, welcome to the United States. We have been waiting for this moment.

Many people in the United States have been shocked at the racism they have witnessed against low income people in New Orleans and the other gulf cities and we wonder how Venezuelans view what has happened. And also you are clearly working to unite people of color throughout the world. You are the first Latin American president we know of who identifies as black and indigenous, and this breaks a long tradition of racism in the Americas. You’ve also identified with the people of Haiti who are fighting to defeat a brutal coup against their president how crucial do you think the defeat of all racism is to making the fundamental economic and socia lchanges needed to save the world from the destruction of the market?

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: When we were children, we were told that we have a motherland, and that motherland was Spain. However, we have discovered later, in our lives, that as a matter of fact, we have several motherlands. And one of the greatest motherlands of all is no doubt, Africa. We loveAfrica. And every day we are much more aware of the roots we have in Africa. Also, America is our motherland. Africa, America - and Bolivar used to say that we are a new human race in Latin America, that we are not Europeans, orAfricans, or North Americans.

That we are a mixture of all of those races, and there is no doubt that Africa resounds with a pulse like a thousand drums and happiness and joy. But, also there’s a lot of pain when you think of Africa. Yesterday, I metwith the president of Mozambique, because fully aware of these roots and these realities, we have designed an agenda for Africa in Venezuela. And we have spoken to other South American leaders. Lula for instance, is fully aware of the African roots of Brazil and South America, and I want to sharethe African agenda with other leaders in South America, but Venezuela hasalso it’s own African agenda. In the case of Mozambique. The life expectancy in Mozambique is 38 years old, and going down, because AIDS is causing havoc in the population.

It’s terrible, it’s a tragedy, it’s a million Katrina’s hitting this country. The president of Mozambique told me the number of children, orphaned children, whose parents have died as a result of AIDS. The teachers are dying, the doctors are dying. That’s a tragedy, and it’s a disgrace, and that’s why it hurts. It hurts so much to see the U.N. openingits doors to listen to speeches and speeches and more speeches, while at the same time, every year a population equivalent to Argentina today, or Columbia die of hunger, or Venezuela die of hunger, and those deaths could be avoided. Most of them are children, little girls, little boys, and most of them are in Africa. So, we need like a shaking of the world. To shake up the world. That’s why when people talk about my style-- my style - that’s why the speech I delivered yesterday before the United Nations Assembly – because it doesn’twork! It’s not working. If we reduced the military expenses in 10 percent of the world, we would have enough money to save millions of lives in thisworld.In Venezuela, with the little resources - few resources - we have initiated a program to bring food to feed the poor people in Venezuela, and we arecovering today 15 million people in Venezuela - receiving this fooddistribution and assistance. And most of them receive this food for free,and others a percentage, they have to pay only 50 percent of the total amount for the food they eat.

Of course this is possible only if the people themselves, participate and with a new awareness. Racism is very characteristic of imperialism. Racism is very characteristic of capitalism. Katrina is – indeed, has a lot to do with racism - no doub tabout it. Hate against me has a lot to do with racism. Because of my big mouth, because of my curly hair. And I’m so proud to have this mouth and this hair, because it’s African. So we need a new morality, a new ethic at this point. And from my Christian point of view, we need a revolution of the ethic. And in the political and economic fields we need to take back the flag of socialism, in my view - in order to be able to defeat - with the will of the people, with the participation of the people – to beat those ominous phenomenon such as racism.

AMY GOODMAN: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in his first interview in theUnited States.[break]

JUAN GONZALEZ: Mr. President, welcome. Bien venido a los Estados Unidos.Your democratic revolution has a different aspect to it, in that your rich in oil, and the world badly needs oil. What do you do in Latin America to use oil as a weapon to assist the poor. Can you tell us a little more aboutwhat you are offering to the communities of the United States who are also suffering from high oil prices.

PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: This is the result of our awareness, that only through integration we can advance and we can progress among Latin American countries, breaking the paradigm of capitalism, of free trade, and neo-liberalism. In the year 2000, we started a cooperation program especially with the Caribbean and Central American countries, and some of the South American countries, with the Caracas Energy Accord, and there for the first time in history we included Cuba, because Cuba is considered likea country that is not part the Americas, and we think it is part of the Americas; Jamaica, Nicaragua, Grenada, many countries. This mechanism includes the sale of oil and oil by-products with a discountof up to 25 percent. This discount becomes in the end a donation we givethese countries, however, when the price of oil, starts increases, in the year 2000 we signed the Caracas Accord and the price at that time was 20, 25 dollars a barrel.

When we realized that the prices started to increase and it goes beyond 40 and beyond 50, and I doubt very much the price is going to drop any time soon because this is part of the structural crisis, the world has to face it, it is a reality. There is a drop in the oil reserves, there is an increase in consumption and demand. The refining capacity is low.The consumerism of the world is unbearable. The world of the U.S. people must come to understand, how this country with 5 percent of the world population only, consumes 25 percent of the oil and the energy of the world. I mean that type of consumption is totally unbearable and this planet cannot stand it any more. When we realized that the price of oil went up beyond 50 dollars, we initiated another cooperation scheme.

We have created, therefore, Petrocaribe and we are going to start with small Caribbean and Caricom countries, and the larger Antillas such as Cuba, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic. So we’re now providing, first we’re ensuring the supply of oil, direct supply of oil from state to state, in order to avoid the speculation o fmultinationals and traders. They buy gasoline in Venezuela and then they goto a Caribbean country, and they charge double so we are selling the products to the states directly. We are not charging for freight, we assume the cost of freight.

But apart from that, this discount is not of 25 percent it goes to 40 percent of the total, and this money will be paid back in 25 years time, with 2 years of grace and 1 percent interest rates. So if you make all of the mathematical calculations, the donation percentage is almost 70 percent because it’s a long term adjusted 1 percent. So what Venezuela’sdoing is supplying 200,000 barrels of oil to the Caribbean and other Central American and South American countries such as Paraguay, Uruguay and smaller nations in South America. 200, 000 millions of barrels, if you apply calculations, mathematical calculations by 1.5 percent of our GDP, 1.5 percent of the GDP is devoted to this cooperation. It means we are financing these sister nations that next year will reach 1.7 billion dollars a year, in 10 years is 17 billion dollars. It’s a way for us to share, to share our resources with these countries. And what about the US population?

Well after many meetings with the U.S. citizens, we decided to propose a scheme for poor populations and low-income populations in the US. We’ve seen that poverty in the us is growing everywhere. It’s close to 11 percent poverty according to some estimates and instead of the figures you have to go deeper into it because if you see Katrina, and you saw what’s happened, 100,000 people were abandoned and they are abandoned, and they’re just surviving.So here we have CITGO, this oil company. We have the CITGO company here in the United States. This is a Venezuelan company, so let’s have a look at theU.S. map the distribution area of CITGO in the U.S. We are present in 14,000 gas stations in the U.S., and here we have a different refineries, asphalt refineries, eight refineries that we have in the U.S., the plants forfilling units, the third, refineries, terminals, and so on.

We want to use these infrastructures to help the poor populations. We have made some progress. We have given instructions to the president of CITGO, Felix Rodriguez. We want that up to 10 percent we refine here. We supply every day to the us 1.5 million barrels of oil, crude and product and we refine, here, close to 800,000 barrels a day refined here in the US. So we would like to take 10 percent of what we refine those products and to offer these products in several modalities to the poor populations. And the pilot project will be starting in Chicago we are already operating in Chicago.Well let’s hope that there’s not going to be any obstacle by the government opposed to this project being implemented, but we will be working in those poor populations.

We have some allies, local partners and we have a number of communities, and we are going to donate some heating oil, because the winter is close, and for the school transportation to school, for the Mexican neighborhood which is the largest in Chicago, La Villita, is the name of this neighborhood with close to 900,000 inhabitants, and so there are other neighborhoods with Hispanics and Latinos. October, the 14th we’re going to start with these pilot projects with small communities and schools, but there are other pilot projects that will start in November in Boston, and here in New York. So different modalities, with local authorities, mayors, organized communities, religious groups. So we are very pleased to announce this. And to help just with a drop, and a grain of contribution to help the low-income populations, Blacks or Hispanics or also White population so we’re just starting with this project.

AMY GOODMAN: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaking in his first interview in the United States.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe: Address to the United Nations General Assembly

Mugabe had just visited Cuba prior to travelling to New York for the UN General Assembly where he gave the following address. ==============================================================

United Nations Summit 2005 Statements 20050912/023823.h tml

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the United Nations 12 East 56th Street, New York, NY 10022
Tel. (212) 980-9511 - Fax. (212) 308-6705
E-mail: zimbabwe at


Your Excellency the Chairman of the High-Level Meeting of the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly,
Your Majesties,
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellency the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Mr. Chairman,
Let me begin by congratulating you and your co- Chairperson for accepting the onerous task of presiding over this epochal event, an event that we all hope will have a positive impact on the lives of many of the citizens of the world. I am confident that your able leadership will successfully carry us through this Session.

Five years ago, we met here in New York at the Millennium Summit and agreed on 8 development goals (MDGs) that we believed were realistic and achievable. We were hopeful that, all things being equal, we would be able to meet the targets we set for ourselves in order to achieve those goals.

It is now for us to review the progress we have made in implementing the Millennium Declaration. Regrettably, for many developing countries, including Zimbabwe, all things have not been equal. Our national progress report, launched recently, shows that our efforts have been seriously affected by recurrent droughts and floods, HIV and AIDS and unilateral sanctions imposed on us by countries that do not wish us well. As a result, we are lagging behind on many of our targets.

While the challenges are great, so is our commitment to achieving our MDGs even with our limited means. Our achievements in the area of universal primary education are a testimony to this resolve. We have also committed ourselves to addressing extreme poverty and hunger by redistributing land to the majority of our citizens who had been condemned to conditions of squalor by years of colonialism and its vestiges.

In reviewing the progress made towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we must have the courage to go beyond the mere posturing that is characterised by name- calling, finger-pointing and false accusations. Developing countries should be accorded policy space to develop their own strategies tailored to their developmental needs within a framework which provides for accountability, transparency and integrity in the system.

Development cannot proceed in the context of ideological rigidities and models which are not applicable to diverse conditions and circumstances as they exist in developing countries. That is why it is so important that in global economic governance and the shaping of policies affecting international economic relations, it is important to ensure the existence of an inclusive process of decisionmaking in which developing countries can play a meaningful role. The simple fact is that every government has the primary responsibility to promote and safeguard the economic and social development of its people. International efforts should only complement that of national programmes.

Mr. Chairman,
The main challenges facing the attainment of the MDGs has not been the strategies and objectives as defined but rather lies within the degree on implementation. Not enough has been done to fulfil the commitments undertaken in the various UN Conferences and Summits. We are therefore concerned about the continuous, significant and clearly calculated, decline in the Official Development Assistance (ODA) in recent years and reiterate the urgent need for a substantial increase of ODA as agreed at Monterrey, Mexico.

Mr. Chairman,
As we deliberate on the institutional reform of the United Nations, let us do so in a manner that is open, transparent and consultative, and that will deepen and consolidate multilateralism. Let us seek to secure the world by addressing the root cause of the present insecurity, which are to be found in poverty, hunger and disease on the one hand, and intolerance, double standards, xenophobia, selectivity and self-righteousness in our approach to issues on the other. A reformed United Nations should be one that plays a key role in coordinating developmental issues.

The vision that we must present for a future United Nations should not be one filled with vague concepts that provide an opportunity for those states that seek to interfere in the internal affairs of other states. Concepts such as "humanitarian intervention" and the "responsibility to protect" need careful scrutiny in order to test the motives of their proponents. The ongoing consultations on the restructuring of the United Nations are a matter of extreme importance to us and the rest of the world. The current skewed power structures in the world body cannot be condoned on any conceivable grounds of democracy.

Organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council, must be restructured to reflect the full will of nations, great or small. We need to avoid situations where few countries, by virtue of their privileged positions, dictate the agenda for everybody else. We have witnessed instances where the sovereignty and territorial integrity of small and weak countries have been violated by the mighty and powerful, in defiance of agreed rules of procedures and the provisions of the United Nations Charter.

The international community needs, as it has done now, to return to the drawing board to rediscover, reassert and pursue in a practical manner, the agenda for peace, security and development for all through fostering genuine cooperation based on respect for the sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of all states. It is within this context that we call upon the international community to remain true to the original principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter to achieve peace, security and development. This will allow us to bequeath the future generation with a far safer, prosperous and stable world. It is my hope that, as we conclude our deliberations, we will have asserted our commitment to these ideals. I thank you.

North Korea Sets Terms For Nuclear Agreement

Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:12 PM ET

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons until the United States gives it civilian atomic reactors, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday in a statement that significantly undermined a deal reached on Monday.

Six countries including the North and the United States had agreed on Monday to a set of principles on dismantling the North's nuclear programs in return for aid and recognizing

Pyongyang's right to a civilian nuclear program.

But skeptics had said the deal was long on words and short on action; the North's comments made clear just how short.

"The U.S. should not even dream of the issue of the DPRK's dismantlement of its nuclear deterrent before providing LWRs, a physical guarantee for confidence-building," said the North Korean statement, published by the official KCNA news agency.

DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. LWRs are light-water reactors, which experts regard as more proliferation-resistant than earlier nuclear plants.

The statement, issued by an unnamed North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Pyongyang would not need a single nuclear weapon if relations with Washington were normalized.

"What is most essential is, therefore, for the U.S. to provide LWRs to the DPRK as early as possible as evidence proving the former's substantial recognition of the latter's nuclear activity for a peaceful purpose," it said.

N Korea sets disarmament terms Tuesday 20 September 2005 1:06 AM GMT
North Korea says that it would not dismantle its nuclear weapons programme until the US provides it with a light-water reactor for generating electricity.

"The US should not even dream of the issue of the DPRK's dismantlement of its nuclear deterrent before providing LWRs (light-water reactors), a physical guarantee for confidence-building," a foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, one day after agreeing to disarm in return for pledges of aid and security.

"This is our just and consistent stand as solid as a deeply rooted rock," he said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. The statement followed the biggest breakthrough in two years of six-party negotiations on denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

In talks in Beijing, North Korea agreed on Monday to abandon its nuclear arms programme in return for aid and security pledges.

Arms deal

A joint statement issued by the six nations - North and South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia - said the other five countries would respect Pyongyang's demand for a light-water reactor and discuss it at a later date.

But the foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday that North Korea, a self-avowed nuclear power, would only disarm and return to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) when the US provides it with a light-water reactor. "As clarified in the joint statement, we will return to the NPT and sign the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA and comply with it immediately upon the US provision of LWRs, a basis of confidence-building, to us," he said in the statement.

"As already clarified more than once, we will feel no need to keep even a single nuclear weapon if the DPRK (North Korea)-US relations are normalised, bilateral confidence is built and we are not exposed to the US nuclear threat any longer." "What is most essential is, therefore, for the US to provide LWRs to the DPRK as early as possible as evidence proving the former's substantial recognition of the latter's nuclear activity for a peaceful purpose."

US reaction

A US official said late on Monday the North Korean demand was not in line with the deal signed in Beijing.

"This was obviously not the agreement they signed and we will see what the coming weeks bring," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

US officials declined to comment more broadly on Pyongyang's declarations, which appeared to undermine a much-feted set of principles agreed upon earlier in Beijing.

"It could just be a lot of bluster, we don't know," said an official.

Japan called Pyongyang's demand that it be given light-water nuclear reactors "unacceptable".

You can find this article at:

Monday, September 19, 2005

Africans & Cell Phone Usage

NAIROBI, Kenya 16 September 2005



Putting cell phone technology into the hands of Africans has resulted in ingenious solutions to everyday problems on the world's poorest continent - and in huge growth in the telecommunications business. Kenyan and South African researchers have used cell phones to monitor wildlife.

Fishermen and farmers can quickly gather information from several areas to help determine where and when they can get the best prices for their produce. Africans have even found a way to turn airtime into a virtual currency. All this on a continent whose people were long considered too poor to afford cell phones.

"We all misread the market," said Michael Joseph, chief executive officer of Safaricom, one of two service providers in Kenya. Joseph said the market was underestimated because entrepreneurs relied on data about the formal economy, such as GDP figures. That ignored a "very strong and informal economy, which allows Africans to live beyond the figures indicated by official statistics," said Martin de Koning, corporate communications chief for Celtel, one of Africa's leading cell phone companies.

The relatively low use of landlines may also have fooled entrepreneurs. But Africans didn't pass up land lines because they didn't want phones. The problem was that getting connected was difficult for the unemployed or informally employed, people without the cash deposit and patience to wait months for a connection. Landlines are also often out of service because of poor maintenance and theft of copper cables.

Cellular subscribers accounted for 74.6 percent of all telephone subscribers in Africa in 2004, according to the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union, which is responsible for standardization, coordination and development of international telecommunications. Africa now has the fastest growing mobile phone industry in the world -with some 100 million of its estimated 870 million people listed as subscribers, Celtel's Chairman Mo Ibrahim said. Last year, the number of subscribers in Africa south of the Sahara increased by 67 percent, compared to 10 percent in Western Europe.

There were more new mobile phone customers in Africa than in North America, Ibrahim said. The growth is being realized even as African governments seek to reap huge revenues from subscribers and service providers in the form of high license fees, customs duties, special mobile call taxes and other charges. In Africa, mobile communications have created a US$25 billion (?20.3 billion) industry that did not exist 10 years ago. Of this, some US$2 billion (?1.62 billion) from hundreds of thousands of indigenous entrepreneurs selling calling credit, Celtel's Ibrahim said. The uses to which Africans have put all those phones offer insight into life on their continent.

Cash-strapped wildlife researchers in Kenya and South Africa have put no-frills cell phones in weatherproof cases with a GPS receiver, memory card and software to operate the system. The unit, placed on a collar, is then tied around the neck of an elephant. As the elephants roam, "the GPS receives coordinates, downloads them onto the memory chip - and then every hour, the phone wakes up and sends a (short text message) of the last hour's coordinates to a central server," said Safaricom Joseph.

Then the phone goes to sleep until it's needed again, preserving battery power. The technology has enabled South Africa's researchers to save up to 60 percent in costs for tracking wildlife, said Professor Wouter van Hoven of the University of Pretoria's Center for Wildlife Management. Fisherman Omar Abdulla Saidi, standing beside a fishing boat propelled by a triangular sail in Zanzibar, an Indian Ocean archipelago off Tanzania, uses his cell phone to track markets.

The same is true for farmers, said Amina Harun, 45, who has grown and sold mangoes, oranges and other fresh fruits for 18 years in neighboring Kenya's port city of Mombasa. Harun said cell phones ended the days when she had to walk for hours, searching for a working public phone to call traders in various markets to find the best prices for produce from her six-acre (2.43-hectare) farm.

Thanks to cell phones, "we can easily link up with customers, brokers and the market," Harun said, seated between two piles of watermelons at Kenya's largest fresh fruit and vegetable trading center, the Wakulima Market. Wilson Kuria Macharia, head of the traders' association at the market, said he no longer has to spend between two weeks and a month traveling across Kenya and neighboring Tanzania in search of fresh vegetables. "A few mobile phone calls take care of what used to be the most grueling part of the business," Macharia, 61, said as workers offloaded a truckload of carrots.

Good communications have also brought stiffer competition between traders - translating to better prices for farmers, said Macharia who has been in the business for 41 years. People have opened public telephone centers linked to cell phone networks across Africa, creating much-needed employment. One service allows subscribers to transfer prepaid call credit, or airtime, from one phone to another through short text messages.

"Airtime is a currency of sorts. You can sell airtime and you can get real money. Or you can trade that airtime for something else to somebody else, who can then sell that airtime again," Safaricom's Joseph said. The ability to trade in airtime is useful in Africa, where the costs of transferring small amounts of money through banks or other financial institutions are relatively high, he said. "We are developing unique ways to use the phone, which has not been done anywhere else or is unique in Africa," Joseph said. "I always think that (cell phone technology) was designed for Africa, not for Europe - because it is such a perfect fit" for the impoverished continent.

Internet magazine on telecommunications in Africa:

International Telecommunication Union:

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hip-hop radio station accused of stoking fires between rival rappers to win listeners

Critics say violence stirred by middle-aged white men intent on increasing profits

Gary Younge in New York
Monday September 19, 2005

The soundtrack of a New York summer day wafting from windows of cars and apartments often starts its journey at one of the city's most popular radio stations, Hot 97. Its lively blend of hip-hop, R & B and raucous phone-ins has been hailed as a huge success by the industry. But with shoot-outs between guests erupting on its doorstep over the past few years, this reputation owes more to the wild west than the West Village.

"They could stage gun fights at will, and they did," said Greg Tate, an author and cultural critic for the Village Voice newspaper. "They would engineer for certain crews to arrive at the same time as certain other crews. They were trying to be more outrageous than anybody else on the block."

As rapper Kimberly "Lil' Kim" Jones, whose raunchy lyrics are rivalled only by her outfits, reports for a year-long prison sentence for perjury today, some believe Hot 97 should also be in the dock. They say the station encourages violence and inter-ethnic rivalry to attract listeners.

Lil' Kim's posse crossed paths with that of a rival rap duo, Capone-N-Noreaga, outside Hot 97 in 2001. In the resulting melee, 20 shots were fired from half a dozen guns and one man was hurt. Lil' Kim told a grand jury she had not noticed two of her close friends at the scene. CCTV showed one of the shooters opening the door for her.

On the day Lil' Kim's trial started, the rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) used Hot 97 to humiliate his former protege, The Game (Jayceon Taylor). 50 Cent, one of the hottest names in hip-hop, branded The Game an untalented, jealous wannabe whose album, The Documentary, would never have come out without 50 Cent's help. "Creatively he got stuck in the mud with it, and I came through and helped the car move. That's it," he said.

Hours later gunfire again rang out outside the station. When the police arrived they found one of The Game's entourage, Kevin Reed, 24, outside Hot 97's entrance with his shirt covered in blood and his hands in the air.

Alongside the shootings, which critics say arise from "beefs" or confrontations deliberately stoked by the station, have come accusations of promoting inter-ethnic rivalries. One presenter called Jennifer Lopez a "spic princess" and "rice-and-bean eater". A show dedicated to Puerto Ricans versus Dominicans - the two largest Hispanic groups in the city - invited listeners to weigh in.

But the station's reputation slumped to a new low after the tsunami disaster, when it aired a spoof song ridiculing victims. There was a huge outcry, including threats from McDonald's and Reebok to withdraw advertising. Eventually, Hot 97 fired two employees and gave $1m (£550,000) to tsunami victims. "The tsunami song was an unfortunate incident for which there is no defence," said Hot 97 spokesman, Alex Dudley. "We took the kind of punitive action to show our apology was sincere and serious."

But one of the sacked DJs, Todd Lynn, accused the company of encouraging him to play the song. "Management heard the song and approved it," he told the New York Daily News. "After it aired, they said keep playing it. They thought it was great until the protests started. We were all under constant pressure to push the envelope. They told me to be an antagonist, be edgy."

New York city council member John Liu agrees. "They encourage this kind of behaviour," he said. "They pay big bucks for people to do this. It's obviously a corporate environment that is hell bent on making money by exploiting hate and bigotry and inciting violence. The buck stops not with an individual but in Indianapolis."

Indianapolis is the home of Emmis Communications, which earns an estimated $40m a year from Hot 97. But Hot 97's status is increasingly under threat from Power 105.1, owned by radio giant Clear Channel Communications. The desire to shock, said its critics, is driven by its bid to keep its market share and profit margins.

Rosa Clemente, 33, who heads the activist group Reach hip-hop coalition, said: "These corporations are run by 50-year-old white men who live in Indiana. They are about making money and they are going to exploit the worst aspects of black and Latino culture."

Emmis Communications has effectively outsourced media responsibility for the station, directing journalists to a private New York-based PR company fronted by Mr Dudley. "Nobody wants that kind of violence taking place outside their place of business," he said. "But what happens on the air is just words; what happened on the streets is a criminal act."

He conceded that words could be powerful, particularly in a genre such as hip-hop. "We have to take into account what the effect of the words will be on our fans," he said.

DaveyD, a Los Angeles-based journalist who covers hip-hop and politics, said the station had to take some responsibility. "Hot 97 cranks it up," he said. "They try to get away with as much as they can. It's part of their marketing. The beef is made public and when things go wrong they say: 'We really couldn't control that.' But they are the ones who gain from it."

The hip-hop world is no stranger to violence or controversy. Rap is an adversarial genre in which artists do battle through their lyrics. The east coast/west coast wars, which claimed the lives of Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur, were the most high-profile illustrations of how these battles can get out of hand. But over the past 15 years it has also become a multi-billion dollar business.

"Hip-hop took a very dark turn during the 90s and that is what you're seeing played out with Hot 97," said Mr Tate. "First the culture came to influence the boardroom and now the boardroom's influencing the culture. There's probably more money at stake now than when the battles were for turf between the different drug gangs. 50 Cent is probably making more money than the whole crack industry on the eastern seaboard."

Meanwhile, police forces in some cities have units dedicated to monitoring the rappers and their posses. In May 2003, the New York police department conducted a three day "hip-hop training session" attended by officers from Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles.

"If black people could live in a society with nice houses and beautiful flowers, then we would be rapping about that," said Ms Clemente. "But we live in a violent country where young black and Latino people are desensitised to murder. There's no reason to encourage that."