Friday, July 31, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
If you had to pick a poster-boy for American Injustice it would have to be Leonard Peltier.
He's spent the last 33 years in prison for murders that even the government now admits they don't know who committed.
In a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, actor and author Peter Coyote reviews the details of the case:
In 1973 the highest per capita murder rate in the country was the Sioux reservation at Pine Ridge.
The head of Oglalla Sioux police force, a virtual dictator named Dick Wilson and his GOON Squad (Guardians of the Oglalla Nation) were systematically picking off everyone working for electoral reform on the reservation and traditional elders---more than 60 in that year alone.
The situation got so bad, that the tribe's elder women called the American Indian Movement (AIM) for help, and they arrived and set up an encampment, with women and children, schools and kitchens.
In this tense and murderous climate, on June 26, 1975, two FBI agents in unmarked cars followed a pick-up truck onto the Jumping Bull ranch supposedly to serve a warrant on a young boy who had stolen some cowboy boots.
It also happened to be the same day that GOON Squad chief Dick Wilson was in Washington, illegally signing away the tribe's uranium rights to multinational mining corporations.
The families immediately became alarmed and feared an attack.
Shots were heard and a shoot-out erupted.
Tribal police had been readied as back-up outside the ranch, but when they heard the return fire, they abandoned the FBI men who were wounded, then eventually executed at close range.
Everyone who was there insists that Leonard was minding the children and not even involved in the gun-fight. When they searched the bodies and found the Federal ID the Native leaders dispersed far and wide, correctly anticipating that the reservation would be over-run by Federal forces.
It was, and they shot it to pieces, instituting a week long reign of terror where elders were harassed and beaten, houses burned and shot up, and the native population terrorized.
Leonard was finally captured in Canada and brought to trial where he and his cohorts were freed by an all-white jury.
The FBI was enraged and assembled a new case by fabricating evidence, suborning witnesses, breaking the chains of evidence, having witnesses perjure themselves---all errors cited by the Appeals Judge who later petitioned on Leonard's behalf, but despite numerous errors, Leonard was sentenced to life in prison...
Millions of people around the world have petitioned for Leonard Peltier's release.
Amnesty International, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Congress of American Indians, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, refer to Leonard as a political prisoner who should be immediately released.
But Uncle Sam is as irrationally stubborn on this as a two-year old having a tantrum.
If you think we should stand for something a little bit better than that, visit www.freeleonard.org
Maybe you can do something to help.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Over-discipline, as well as over-confinement, can lead to explosive, dangerous horses.
Unfortunately, when a horse starts to develop such tendencies he is usually treated with fiercer discipline, until in order to preserve his identity and his hide, he starts to fight seriously….
To deprive a horse of every quality of his life that is natural to him is strain enough on his system; to expect a spirited, energetic horse to become totally submissive at all times as well, may impose to great a strain….
Not all horses become explosive in these conditions; some become dull and listless, others sour to their work, and some become stupidly nervous. The horse’s character makes his misery take different forms, some of them more difficult to spot than others.
But when we think of the horse in his natural environment and how he behaves there, we can check to see whether the arrangements we have made for him are lacking, and do something about them.
-- Lucy Rees, The Horse’s Mind
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
We were born, both of us, into a world not of our making.
Nor much to our liking.
It’s a world that suffocates the spirit.
It’s a world of lies, and only liars feel at home in it.
It’s a world in which we are embarrassing anachronisms and expendable commodities worth so much per pound.
It’s a world driven by greed and fear, a world that demands complete submission, evidenced by absolute, unthinking obedience.
But we have the defiance gene.
We fight back, not because we hope to win, but because fighting back is, in itself, victory.
For us, every day is Thermopylae.
Against overwhelming odds we battle to live and die with heart and soul true and free.
Together, we can fight much harder for much longer than either of us could fight all alone.
He has my back and I have his.
He’s not my horse.
He’s my comrade.
Global Condemnation for Morgan's Mongol Derby
Dear Long Riders, Explorers and Friends of the Guild,
The Long Riders' Guild was initially contacted by Tom Morgan's company, the Adventurists, on 28th November, 2008 in regards to his plan to run a 1,000 kilometer horse race across Mongolia. Not only did the Guild offer the equestrian expertise of its Members, as well as the hand of friendship, our organization also warned the company that the poorly-planned event would become a lightning-rod of concern. The Adventurists did not accept the Guild's offers of assistance, nor heed our warning.
Since then, as predicted, the proposed race has created an equestrian fire-storm of protest, with editors, endurance racers, Long Riders and even mainstream explorers, all joining their voices in an unprecedented condemnation of this dubious event. Thousands of acts of individual equestrian patriotism have resulted in horse-lovers from twenty-six countries signing the petition protesting against the race, a Vet Net advisor denouncing it as being "in total disregard to the welfare of the horses," and the Barefoot saddle company withdrawing its support.
Regardless, Morgan's American charity partner, Mercy Corps not only maintains their partnership, they continue to ignore their own statement sent to irate donors who have withdrawn their financial contributions. "...if at any point Mercy Corps is not satisfied with the measures in place to ensure their (horses) welfare, we would not continue to support this trek," Mercy Corps spokeswoman, Geri Manzano said.
What needs to be fully understood is that we are not discussing common tourists.
Traditional travellers go to a country in order to interact with the people, sample the food and experience the culture. This is an experience that is customarily a slow learning process. That is not what Morgan and his race contestants are doing. They will use every possible means to rush through Mongolia, highlight any danger, mock the cuisine, and make themselves look like heroes at the expense of the land, its people and its horses.
Nor should we be persuaded that Morgan and Mercy Corps, are motivated by altruistic motives. The Adventurists will receive more than $130,000 in fees from the contestants. Likewise, the Mercy Corps charity will receive a minimum of $50,000. But when asked how much the herders, who are risking their eight hundred horses, would be getting, the evasive answer was "a fair amount." In a scene reminiscent of buying Manhattan from the Indians for $26 in beads, while Morgan and Mercy Corps get rich, naïve Mongolians are being enticed into selling their sacred equestrian heritage for pennies.
Thus, no amount of last-minute window-dressing by the Adventurists and Mercy Corps can disguise the fact that this is an act of equestrian colonialism perpetrated by cultural predators. This race represents a new type of equestrian cancer, one in which arrogance, wealth, racism and social privilege come together for a mounted holiday in an exotic land.
Meanwhile, the world's scorn for Morgan's master plan can be seen in some of the comments submitted to the international petition.
Jack, Canada: All horse-related activities in Mongolia will be damaged by this stunt. Why doesn't he stick to filling Mongolia with Europe's old clunkers instead?
Anne, Wales: Very glad to help stop this terror.
Stan, USA: This is brutal and uncalled-for.
Robert, Gibraltar: If 25 idiots want to cross Mongolia, then take a 4x4 truck; why is it that there are still people who think that animals have no purpose but to provide entertainment for them no matter what?
Abdul, Sweden: Shame on the culprits and those who refuse to act.
Gabrielle, Belgium: Adventure should never prevail over animal welfare and long-distance riding should not be turned into a contest built upon injury and loss of life.
Jean, UK: Utterly ghastly. How can people be so thoughtless and cruel?
Thomas, USA: Money ruins everything.
Carol, Canada: I feel very strongly about getting this profit-mongering idiot's activities exposed and stopped.
Alison, Scotland: This event is a disgrace to 21st century equine sport.
Neale, Australia: Cruelty such as this should be illegal.
Grit, Denmark: What monster has got this arrangement going?
Ranald, South Africa: When money and egos clash with horses, horses always lose.
Raven, USA: This is the most inhumane thing I have ever heard of. Shame on you!
Eduard, Peru: I suggest the humans do it on foot.
Lynne, USA: Sheer lunacy and certainly testosterone-driven; a total violation of man's stewardship of the animals. Let's ride the Adventurists across Mongolia instead.
Dori, USA: Shame on Mercy Corps. I'll make sure never to send them a single penny.
Harry, USA: This race should be outlawed and the promoters cast out of all horse-related projects.
Vera, Romania: Whoever takes part in this event shows a complete disregard for the life of the horses that are used in it; thus forfeiting their right to be called a horse person.
Tami, USA: This is a travesty for the poor innocent horses; there should be some form of international law prohibiting this form of animal cruelty. The contestants get to choose their idiotic level of risk, the poor Mongolian horses do not.
Christine, USA: I am an endurance rider and this race is not "endurance" - it is torture to horses.
Hans-Juergen, Switzerland: This race is nothing but a merchandised killing of friends.
Charlotte, USA: Unbelievable! Have we reverted to the Stone Age?
Odette, USA: As a veterinarian, I am appalled at the greed and cold-heartedness of the organizers and participants of the race.
Diane, Canada: Shame on Tom Morgan for exploiting these wonderful animals.
Katrina, UK: The Mongolian government should stop this event by refusing to grant visas.
Jane, Canada: I'm absolutely disgusted that Mercy Corps would be involved in this.
Janice, USA: When will Europeans stop exploiting Asians?
Talitha, USA: As a veterinarian, I find this race appalling.
Dyane, Australia: Shameful!
Angela, Australia: Unethical!
Serena, Australia: Unbelievable!
Fran, USA: Let the tourists suffer; it's their choice. But the horses deserve protection from these cruel money-hungry fools.
Lois, USA: This sounds like the biggest case of animal cruelty in the world.
Graeme, Scotland: As a veterinarian involved in endurance, I feel this is a blatant disregard for the welfare of the horse.
Jodi, New Zealand: The very thought of this race sickens me.
Michelle, Canada: This race is a disgusting exploitation of a country in poverty, and its animals, by some jerk trying to make a buck.
Stephen, Taiwan: This is an outrageous affair of a company more interested in their cheque-book than common sense.
Naomi, UK: I am ashamed that a British company has organised this ill-conceived and idiotic event to indulge bored, rich exhibitionists.
In conclusion, The Long Riders' Guild urges you to share your concerns with Tom Morgan and Mercy Corps by either emailing or telephoning them with your views.
Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent events manager at the Adventurists
firstname.lastname@example.org - + 44-(0)1779-541-515
Geri Manzano - Mercy Corps Donor Relations Representative
+1-800-292-3355, ext. 250 - email@example.com
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Maybe I’m too simple.
I have just three basic rules for myself, rules I never break.
1. Tell the truth
2. Keep your word
3. Take responsibility for your actions.
It seems to me that whenever things go REALLY wrong whether in personal relationships, business dealings or politics, it’s because somebody – sometimes everybody – failed to obey at least one of these three rules.
TELL THE TRUTH.
I’m talking about the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, to the absolute best of your knowledge and belief.
I define a "lie" as a falsehood knowingly told, with the intention to deceive, in order to either do harm to someone else, or gain some advantage for yourself.
It can be a direct lie, a lie by omission or a lie by obfuscation -- including telling a part of the “truth” in such a way as to mislead.
KEEP YOUR WORD.
First of all, be clear on what you’re giving your word on and why.
If you give your word hastily, because you didn’t think it through, or because you were persuaded, or “pressured” --- tough. You’re stuck with it. You have to keep your promises.
Here’s an example. Say you agree to paint a guy’s house for $500 bucks. But you check the price of paint and find out it’s gone up a LOT. Do you go back to the guy and say, “I have to charge you $750 for the job?”
A deal’s a deal.
You should have checked on the price of paint BEFORE you shook hands on it and it’s not the other guy’s fault you didn’t. Next time, I bet you will.
Having said that, I believe your obligation is limited to exactly what you promised, in both word and spirit, and nothing else.
Here’s an example.
An acquaintance asks me for a lift to the bank so he can cash a check,
I’m parked in the 15 minute zone out front to wait for him when he comes running out with a bag of money in one hand, a gun in the other and a security guard not far behind.
He jumps into the passenger side and yells, “Drive, Man! Drive!”
Am I obligated to be his wheelman?
Didn’t I promise…?
I agreed to help him cash a check, not rob a bank.
He can stop worrying about the cops and start worrying about me, because that pistol is about to wind up someplace real uncomfortable for him…
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS
That’s a tough one, isn’t it?
It's practically un-American!
Seems like lately, nobody’s responsible for a thing that they do. It’s all somebody else’s fault. Bubba blows a guy’s brains out and blames the gun manufacturers for making the weapon, the police for not getting there in time to stop him, his mommy and daddy who didn’t get you that new bicycle for his birthday when he was 5 years old, the guy who bumped into him on the subway last year and didn’t say “excuse me,” the school system that failed to teach him, the legal system that failed to reach him, television for dumbing him down, pornography just because sex MUST be to blame somehow --- everybody in the whole phone book is to blame for the murder Bubba did.
Sorry, Bubba. Not buying that.
Tell the truth.
Keep your word.
Three little rules.
I don’t see how you can be a person -- or nation -- of integrity without them.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Her name was LaVena Johnson.
She was an honor roll student
She played the violin.
She donated blood and volunteered for American Heart Association walks.
She elected to put off college for a while and joined the Army once out of school.
She died near Balad, Iraq, on July 19, 2005, just eight days shy of her twentieth birthday, the first female soldier from Missouri to die while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
But she wasn’t killed by the “enemy.”
She was murdered by a fellow soldier.
“She was found with a broken nose, black eye and loose teeth, acid burns on her genitals, presumably to eliminate DNA evidence of rape, a trail of blood leading away from her tent and a bullet hole in her head.” (Salon.com)
Believe it or not, that’s not the worst part.
The worst part is that the Army – despite the physical evidence – declared it a SUICIDE and closed the book on it.
Just from a moment, try to imagine this “suicide.”
She breaks her own nose, knocks her own teeth out, pours acid on her genitalia and shoots herself in the head --- and somehow leaves a trail of blood outside her tent, then comes back in and dies.
That’s one HELL of a “suicide,” my friend.
Now LaVena's parents are trying to get a real investigation of her death.
You can help.
You can call on Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to investigate the Army's cover-up of Lavena's death
This girl was willing to stand up for her country.
It’s time somebody stood up for her.
Monday, July 13, 2009
This came across my desk this morning.
Please mark your calendar and join the Animal Welfare Institute and Humane Society of the United States in Washington, DC on July 14th to meet with your legislators and show your support for America’s horses and the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503/S. 727). The last Horses on the Hill was a huge success, let’s make this one even bigger and better!
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org telling us if you plan on attending. Feel free to email if you have any questions.
Then follow these steps:
- Visit AWI’s Compassion Index to find your US Representative and two US Senators. Enter your zip code and hit go.
- Call their offices and ask to speak with their animal staffer, let them know you are a constituent. Schedule a meeting on July 14th between 11 am and 4 pm. You will be scheduling a total of three meetings (one in US House, two in US Senate). You can ask to meet with your legislator, as well, but meeting with the animal staffer is very beneficial. Questions about calling Capitol Hill? Click here.
- After you set your meetings, come back to AWI’s Compassion Index and fill out the form with your meeting information. This will help us both coordinate your meetings and follow up after you leave. We will provide specific information (brochures, fact sheets, etc…) that will help in your meetings.
- Send this email to everyone you know and ask them to join us in Washington, DC on July 14th for America’s horses.
- Make your travel plans (see below) to join us on Capitol Hill. DC is a great summer destination. There are lots of things to do.
If you have any questions please email Blair at email@example.com. We look forward to seeing you all on July 14th. Be sure to bookmark http://www.horsesonthehill.org and check back often for updates and new information.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
This came across my desk this morning via Frank Bell, and I thought I'd pass it on to all of you who care about horses.
I came across your website on natural horsemanship, http://www.horsewhisperer.com/index.html, and I thought you might be interested in signing this petition to allow bitless bridles in USEF competitions: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/allow-bitless-bridles-in-usef-rated-competitions.
It is an important step for the horse world, and this petition only has a little less than two months left to reach our goal. Then it will be sent to the USEF as supporting material to a rule change proposal. After, the petition will still be up and taking signatures, but I want to encourage supporters to spread the word so we can reach our goal of 2,000 signatures or more by the time it must be sent.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Not far from here is Auburn, New York, final resting place of the incredible Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross; c. 1822 – March 10, 1913)
She was not content merely to have escaped the brutal slavery into which she was born. Risking her freedom and her life, she made thirteen missions to rescue over seventy other slaves, and during the Civil War she led an armed expedition that liberated 700 more.
Maybe she did all this because of that wound to the head that caused periods of hypersomnia and “visions.”
Maybe it was a wound to the heart.
Either way, definitely my kind of woman.
If I could have convinced more slaves that they were slaves, I would have freed thousands more.
-- Harriet Tubman
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Where in this world can man find Nobility without Pride,
Friendship without envy,
Or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is served with muscle
And strength by gentleness confined
He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent.
There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.
~Ronald Duncan, "The Horse," 1954
photo by Tamara
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Fourth of July.
Ever wonder who picked up the tab for this annual party?
There were 56 of them.
56 men who signed the declaration of independence.
56 traitors against their lawful King.
56 terrorists, by the latest operant definition.
56 men who pledged to each other in this cause, their lives, fortunes and sacred honor.
They were young and they were old. (Ben Franklin, born in 1706, was 70; Edward Rutledge, born in 1749, was only 27).
They included scientists, physicians, ministers, a printer, a musician, a soldier.
24 were lawyers and jurists.
11 were merchants.
9 were farmers and large plantation owners.
They were men of means, wealthy and well-educated. They weren’t rebelling for security. They already had security. They decided to risk everything they had for something else.
They all knew very well that they were breaking the law.
They knew they’d be charged with treason against the Crown.
And they knew the penalty was death.
5 of them were captured and tortured to death.
12 had their homes ransacked and burned.
2 lost their sons in the war that followed, another had 2 sons captured.
9 died from wounds received in battle or from the privations of the war.
They all sacrificed something and some of them sacrificed everything.
Thomas McKean was hounded by the British and forced to move his family constantly. He served in Congress without pay and his family was kept in hiding. He lost all his possessions and was reduced to poverty.
Likewise Carter Braxton, who lost his ships, sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The British jailed his wife and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his dying wife’s bedside. His fields and gristmill were laid to waste and for a year he lived in forests and caves. When he returned home, he found his wife dead, his 13 children vanished, and a few weeks later, he died of exhaustion and a broken heart.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., found that the British had occupied Nelson’s own home as their headquarters. Nelson quietly urged General George Washington to open fire anyway, and Nelson’s home was destroyed. He died bankrupt.
No billion-dollar bailouts for these guys.
But just what was so important that these men would make such sacrifices?
What exactly were they rebelling against?
Oppressive taxes, for one thing. They didn’t much care for the King bleeding them dry to pay for his mercenaries and imperialistic foreign wars.
They didn’t like being deprived of a trail by jury, either.
They didn’t like unreasonable searches of their homes, or censoring of the press, or suppression of free speech, or cruel and unusual punishments
Not big fans of torture.
Or “indefinite detention.”
Read the list for yourself.
It’s all right there in the Bill of Rights they wrote up later.
Somebody once said that a fanatic is someone who “redoubles his efforts, having forgotten his aims.”
So when you wave the flag today – or any other day – you might do well to ask whether we’re living up to our history.
Or is that rag all that’s left?
Have we sanctified a symbol while giving up everything it was supposed to stand for?
‘Cause it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.