Bulletin N°238


17 June 2006
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
With the end of this interrupted semester at Grenoble University come a couple of small errors from CEIMSA. The Bulletin I sent out yesterday on "BILINGUAL SUPPORT GROWS FOR THE RETURN OF CEIMSA'S FULL STATUS AS A RESEARCH CENTER AT STENDHAL UNIVERSITY-GRENOBLE 3" contained several typographical errors, some of which might appear down-right Freudian. Anyway, they were unintended, and if you would like to read the corrected copy of this Bulletin, concerning the "Return of CEIMSA to Stendhal University", the entire corrected copy of this mailout is now available in the CEIMSA Archives, at the following link : Bulletin N°237.

Also, for access to the entire bilingual dossier on the "CEIMSA Affaire" at Stendhal University, you are invited to click on the link to : Scandal at Stendhal, which is also located on the CEIMSA-IN-Exile site presently housed at The University of California.

Meanwhile, we invite you to read the four communications we have recently received which include discussions of the policies of 3 modern American institutions --The U.S. Department of Defense, The American Methodist Church, and U.S. corporations-- and an update on the anti-racist social movement on the West Coast.

In item A. Edward Herman has forwarded to us an audio essay on the pillage of irreplaceable historical sites in Babylon by the U.S. military.
Item B. is an article forwarded to us by Dr. Elisabeth Chamorand on the brave position of a Methodist Church congregation in Washington State who have voted to offer sanctuary to war resisters in the military, who refuse to go to Iraq.
Item C. by Michael Parenti is an update on Corporate crime and the close collaboration within the U.S. Justice Department to protect white collar criminals.
Finally, item D. is an article from Truthout sent to us by Dr. James Cohen, covering the militant social movement around the South Central Farm crisis in Los Angeles County.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université Stendhal
Grenoble, France

From: "Ed Herman" <hermane@wharton.upenn.edu>
Subject: 'The Americans destroy antiquity' - vandalising Babylon
Date: 12 Jun 2006

Monitoring bias and misinformation in the media
by John Meed

On Sunday June 11 BBC Radio 4 ran a programme (presented by Jonathan Charles) about what has happened to the archaeological site of Babylon since the occupation of Iraq.  The programme's main points:

- The US military have used the site for a military base - among 
other things they have build a helipad over a particularly sensitive 
part of the site
- The movement of heavy plant during construction work has caused 
extensive destruction of invaluable archaeological material
- The military made sandbags out of archaeologically important material
- There has been considerable contamination of the site as material 
from other archaeological sites in other parts of Iraq has been used 
in additional sandbags - this will make future interpretation of the 
site even more difficult as pottery from different periods or areas 
will be muddled together
- It is now impossible for foreign archaeologists to access the site 
- Charles was himself unable to get anywhere near it

You can listen to the programme on the web at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml.

from Elisabeth Chamorand :
Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2006
SUBJECT: Troops Refusing Iraq Duty Get a Haven
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Thursday 15 June 2006

Troops Refusing Iraq Duty Get a Haven
    By Mike Barber

Prompted by a Fort Lewis Army officer's decision to refuse to fight in Iraq, the First United Methodist Church of Tacoma has declared itself a sanctuary for servicemen and servicewomen who also don't want to go to Iraq.
The 300-member congregation's administrative council voted last weekend to open its doors beginning this Saturday after 1st Lt. Ehren Watada announced that he thinks the war in Iraq is illegal and that he has sought to resign his commission.
A statement from the church on Wednesday said that service members "who are unable to deploy to combat areas for reasons of conscience" can find protection behind its doors.
"Our initiative was because of Lieutenant Watada's gesture and a clear sense that we have, as a reconciling congregation, deeply involved in justice issues throughout the city, that any war, particularly this one, is inconsistent with Christian teachings," the Rev. Monty Smith said Wednesday night.
Smith said the church stands "in solidarity" with others who hold similar social-justice convictions. The church essentially is providing a protective space and resources to those contemplating whether to resist deployment to Iraq, he said.
Smith said the church so far has received no applications for sanctuary from members of the armed forces. It has protocols and precautions to ensure that anyone who seeks sanctuary is doing so for legal and religious reasons.
The decision marks the latest action by peace activists and war resisters in recent weeks in the Tacoma-Olympia corridor near Fort Lewis.
While troop supporters continue their vigils at a bridge near the post's main gate, Tacoma and Olympia seem to have become a new epicenter for an invigorated anti-war movement usually seen in Seattle.
Two weeks ago, demonstrations in Olympia against the movement of military vehicles from Fort Lewis to Iraq via the Port of Olympia resulted in civil disobedience and arrests.
Last week, Watada, a company-grade military officer with the Stryker Brigade about to deploy to Iraq this month, said off-post and after working hours that he does not conscientiously object to war. He would serve in Afghanistan but not in Iraq, which he considers an illegal war.
Watada, who has tried twice before to resign from the Army, continues to work and train as an artillery-targeting officer but is under investigation, his lawyer and military officials said.
Smith said he's a bit surprised that activism is taking root in the area.
"Before, the huge demonstrations and marches were in Seattle," he said.
Spokesmen for the Church Council of Greater Seattle could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The Seattle council has expressed support for Watada, and urged support for an Interfaith Network of Concern petition to the Seattle City Council for a resolution urging an exit strategy from Iraq.

On its Web site, the Seattle church group said:
"The Church Council appreciates the difficulty for Lt. Watada in making such an important decision, given his military service, and the potential consequences that he likely will face, including a court-martial. Our support and prayers go to Lt. Watada at this time. We continue to pray and call for an expedited end to the war in Iraq and for the preservation of all lives in the areas of conflict."
Smith, joined by other local clergy members, has scheduled a news conference for noon Friday to explain the church's position and to answer questions.

The church, at 423 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood, has a long history of supporting social justice since opening its doors in 1876.

From Michael Parenti :
Subject: [Clarity] Corporate Criminals
Date: 12 Jun 2006

Dear Francis,
Here is a recently published ZNet Commentary of mine (slightly revised and updated) wch you might find of interest. Feel free to post, cite and circulate.
Comments you send me are always appreciated even if not always responded to.

Still Soft on (Corporate) Crime
by Michael Parenti

A half century ago, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black reminded us in Griffin v. Illinois (1956) that there “can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has.” The corporate executive with a team of high-powered attorneys has a different legal experience than the poor person with an underpaid court-appointed lawyer. And it’s not just a few indigents who need court-appointed lawyers; some 80 percent of defendants nationwide rely on public defenders.

The recent convictions of Enron’s billionaire swindlers Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling lend hope to those of us who dream of a more equitable legal system. But before we put Justice Black’s dictum to rest, keep in mind that Lay and Skilling are out on bail, and that they still might end up with a light sentence or skip free on some technicality.

In recent years prominent firms including R. J. Reynolds, WorldCom, Time Warner, Arthur Andersen, Bristol Meyers, Global Crossing, HealthSouth, and a dozen others have been investigated for accounting and tax fraud, manipulating stock values, insider trading, and obstructing justice, criminal acts that have delivered economic ruin upon shareholders and employees. As of June 2006 only a handful of executives from these companies have seen the inside of a prison.

Think of the magnitude of their crimes, the heartless damage wreaked upon many thousands of employees who saw their jobs, retirement funds, and financial security stolen from them. So much misery for the many so that the favored few might gleefully romp and frolic in increasingly obscene wealth.

What kind of punishment awaits most corporate brigands? Martha Stewart did a grueling five months in a federal women’s camp. Dennis Koziowski, former Tyco CEO, looted some $600 million to fund his lavish lifestyle, for that he got 8 to 25 years in a minimum security prison, and is eligible for parole in about six years, unless he wins an earlier reversal or sentence reduction.

After getting a 15-year sentence for looting $100 million from Adelphia, John Rigas is free pending his appeal. So is Bernard Ebbers, former CEO of WorldCom (on a 25-year sentence), who wiped out a company worth $115 billion at its peak.

We can anticipate more cases like this: In June 2006 two Merrill Lynch bankers, Robert Furst and Daniel Bayly, convicted for fraudulently inflating Enron’s profits, spent hardly a year in prison before being released by a federal appeals court pending the completion of their entire appeals process. This ruling followed a similar release order three months earlier for another Merrill Lynch banker, William Fuhs. It was seen as a blow to the prosecution team that was gamely trying to bring the Enron perpetrators to justice.

Keep in mind that corporate crime is not a rarity but a regularity. The Justice Department found that most giant companies have committed felonies. Many are repeat offenders. Over the years, General Electric has been convicted of 282 counts of contract fraud and fined $20 million. But nobody at GE did any time. (Imagine a street criminal with 282 felony convictions who is allowed to walk free.)

Charged with 216 violations involving toxic substances, WorldCom was fined $625,000. Over a sixteen year period major oil firms cheated the government of nearly $856 million in royalties by understating the value of the oil they pumped from public lands, but nobody went to prison in any of these cases.

Honeywell ignored defects in gas heaters resulting in twenty-two deaths and seventy-seven crippling injuries, for which it was fined $800,000. Johns-Manville suppressed information about the asbestos poisoning of its workers; when ordered to pay damages in civil court it declared bankruptcy to avoid payment. Nobody ended up behind bars in either of these cases.

An executive of Eli Lilly failed to inform the government about the effects of a drug suspected of causing forty-nine deaths in the United States and several hundred abroad. He was fined $15,000. For dumping toxic chemicals into well water that was subsequently linked to eight leukemia deaths, W. R. Grace was fined $10,000. Charged with unlawfully burning toxic wastes into the atmosphere for twenty years, Potomac Electric Power Co. of Washington, D.C. was fined the crushing sum of $500. In none of these cases did anyone see the inside of a slammer.

In 2005 the Bank of New York agreed to pay $38 million in penalties and victim compensation arising from a case of money laundering and fraud, but nobody ended up having to share a conjugal cell with Big Spike.

That same year Halliburton executives failed to make payments to pension participants as legally required; instead they used some of the funds for executive pensions and bonuses. Halliburton was required to pay almost $9 million and an undisclosed tax penalty, but none of the company suits went to prison.

In 2006, Custer Battles was found guilty of defrauding the United States of millions of dollars in government contracts in Iraq. The company was slated to pay triple damages but again nobody went to prison.

That creepy fellow James Watt, Interior Secretary under the Reagan administration, helped rich clients illegally pocket millions in federal low-income housing funds. Watt was able to sidestep eighteen felony charges of perjury and plead guilty to a misdemeanor, for which he got five years probation and a $5,000 fine.

As of 2006 there was an estimated $450 billion shortfall in retirement and disability funds, as numerous companies have defaulted on their pension payments. Federal law requires companies to honor their obligations to these funds but there is no real enforcement mechanism.

When Firestone pled guilty to filing false tax returns concealing $12.6 million in income, it was fined $10,000, and no one went to jail. Over seven hundred people a year are imprisoned for tax evasion, almost all of them for sums far smaller than the amount Firestone concealed.

Even when the fine is more substantial, it usually represents a mere fraction of company profits and fails to compensate for the damage wreaked. Over several years Food Lion cheated its employees of at least $200 million by forcing them to work “off the clock,” but in a court settlement the company paid back only $13 million. Who says crime doesn’t pay?

In 2004 Halliburton paid a $7.5 million fine for false earnings reports. Halliburton was also accused of grossly overcharging the government for gasoline intended for U.S. armed forces in Iraq. Meanwhile, for work done on a government nuclear plant, Bechtel inflated its bill for labor, materials, travel, entertainment, and supplies--then gave itself a $250,000 bonus.

Nobody at Halliburton or Bechtel went to prison for these huge thefts. And as we all know, both companies are still gorging themselves on fat government contracts.

Someone who robs a liquor store is far more likely to do time than people who steal hundreds of millions of dollars from shareholders, employees, consumers, and taxpayers.

Penalties often are uncollected or suspended. Over one hundred savings and loan (S&L) plea-bargainers, who escaped long prison terms by promising to make penalty repayments of $133.8 million, repaid less than 1 percent of that amount.

Claiming it did not have enough lawyers and investigators, the government failed to pursue more than one thousand S&L fraud and embezzlement conspiracies, amounting to hundreds of billions in losses for U.S. taxpayers.

The Bush Jr. administration decreased major fines for mining safety violations and in nearly half the cases did not bother to collect the fines. No wonder miners continue to perish in preventable accidents.

Frequently corporate criminals continue to live in luxury but claim they do not have the money to make restitution to their victims. They are able to hide many assets before penalties are established.

When corporate felons actually are given prison terms, the sentence is usually light and sometimes not even served. S&L defendants, convicted of having stolen hundreds of millions of dollars, spent fewer months behind bars on average than car thieves--and at relatively comfortable minimum security prisons.

The two ringleaders of Archer Daniels Midland Co. who stole millions from their customers were sentenced to only three years. The average sentence for corporate criminals who do time is about eleven months.

Let’s go back some years to Wall Street investor Michael Milken who pled guilty to securities violations and was sentenced to ten years--reduced to twenty-two months, most of which was spent doing community service. Corporate criminals sentenced to community service seldom do but a small portion of it, if any. Milken had to pay back $1.1 billion to settle criminal and civil charges but retained a vast fortune of $1.2 billion from his dealings.

Likewise, Ivan Boesky walked off with $25 million after paying his fine for insider trading and doing a brief spell behind bars. Every major participant in these late 1980s Wall Street investment crimes emerged from the experience as a wealthy man. Again, who says crime doesn’t pay?

Opinion surveys find that a majority of the public believes that wrongdoing is widespread in the business world. Some 90 percent think that big corporations have too much influence over government. Only 2 percent consider company bosses “very trustworthy.” You’ve got to hand it to the American people. Buried alive under an avalanche of media disinformation and puffery, they still sometimes get it right.

Sure it does us good to see some corporate predators get their asses kicked in court. And we should demand that it happen more often.

But keep in mind that corporate crime is endemic to a system bound by limitless greed and pitiless theft, a system whose operational imperative is “accumulate, accumulate, accumulate,” a system faithfully serviced by reactionary plutocrats in the White House who themselves partake of the plunder.

Michael Parenti's recent books include The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press). For more information visit: www.michaelparenti.org.

from James Cohen :
Subject: exemplary struggle, ignominious episode
Date: 17 Jun 2006

   The Golden Rule in the City of Angels?
  By Jane Ayers
[Friday 16 June 2006 : South Central Farm crisis in LA. Willie Nelson, Darryl Hannah, Danny Glover, Joan Baez, Ralph Nader all speak out.]

    Surrounded by organic flowers grown on the South Central Farm, a huge Sacred Heart of Jesus altar sat at the base of the tree where protestors were tree-sitting to save the urban community farm. As of 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, the altar had been joined by forty nonviolent protestors locking themselves together around the base of the tree because Los Angeles sheriffs, firefighters, and police had converged to evict the farmers and protesters, who were now considered trespassers.

[Click here to see truthout.org video (4 minutes) of eviction and resistance to it. http://www.truthout.org/multimedia.htm ]

    Nightly, hundreds of humble farmers and their families had united for a vigil to light candles and pray for help to save the 350 small garden plots in their 14-acre organic community garden. Native American elder and actor Floyd Westerman led the vigil around the perimeter several nights; other nights it was led by the oldest woman from the community. On the recent full moon, 600 bicyclists from Critical Mass and Nightriders surprised everyone by cycling around the farm at midnight, chanting "Save the Farm." You see, this community garden has been tilled and nourished for 14 years by these family farmers. Fourteen years of hard work - sweat equity - hard work of common folks, the poor of LA. The land was granted to the LA Food Bank after the riots of 1992, has been miraculously transformed into a lush garden by the farmers, and is a shining example of the poor helping one another survive in the big city.

    With sheriffs' helicopters circling daily, the farmers and their supporters feared that at any moment they would permanently be forced out of the garden. Sheriffs met with the farmers' attorney, Dan Stormer, last week and told him they would be "enforcing the court order to evict all at the garden," and gave them a couple of days to leave the premises. In addition, the attorney alleged that the sheriffs stated their concern that "anarchists might be present inside the garden." This kind of talk brews all the ingredients for riot police to come in, and now the process has begun.

    At 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, the sheriffs, fire fighters, and LAPD all moved in to begin the eviction. Approximately 40 protesters immediately locked down in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. Most put their hands in tubes (specifically designed for civil disobedience) then dropped them into barrels of cement, forcing the evictors to bring in jackhammers and drills to dislodge them. Several locked down together around the base of the tree where Darryl Hannah and John Quigley were tree-sitting. Bulldozers moved in to clear a path to bring in cherry pickers to extract the tree-sitters. Hannah, calling local media on the phone during the raid, stated, "Ultimately, the money has been on the table. This eviction might really be about extracting blood. When will the mayor see that a farm in the city is good and sustains many families? The farmers depend on this food. I am planning to hold my position in the tree in a peaceful manner. The deal was so close. It's a shame that the taxpayers' money has to be wasted in this way. The money issues were being resolved ..." LAPD showed up in riot gear to begin removing the many protesters outside the farm who had linked arms and lain down together blocking traffic on the streets around the farm. Hours later, riot police were angrily striking some of the farmers in the stomach with their batons. Protests began outside at the LA City Council meeting within hours.

    Why would the mayor allow this eviction to go down, after giving the farmers such hope through his representatives just days before? What a heartbreak. Rumors had been circulating for weeks that people in the government - the mayor, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters - were all working "behind the scenes" to find a solution to this intensifying problem, but still no official word from the mayor's office was given. Finally, three days days ago, Larry Frank, LA Deputy Mayor, showed up at the nightly candle vigil, stating, "If there is a chance to mediate this situation, Mayor Villaraigosa will do what he can to settle this. Don't give up hope." LA City Board of Public Works Commissioner Paula Daniels also showed up, emphasizing that the mayor "cares for the farmers and wants to make this one of the greenest cities in America, including the 500 trees growing on this farm."

    Some of the nation's most authentic beacons for humanitarian issues have turned the South Central Farm into a demonstration of how to preserve a green zone in downtown LA, and also give fair treatment to the poor in the City of Angels. Organizers Darryl Hannah, Julia Butterfly-Hill, and John Quigley had attracted Martin Sheen, Ralph Nader, Farm Aid's Willie Nelson, UN representative Danny Glover, Ben Harper, Joan Baez, Leonardo diCapria, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Senator Barbara Boxer, a representative for Jane Goodall, musicians Tom Morello and Michelle Shocked over the past two weeks, drawing world attention to the possible loss of the gardens.

    The endangered 14-acre organic farm, considered the nation's largest urban farm, has also drawn to its heart local faith-based leaders, clergy, and civil rights leaders (such as Evelyn Knight of the Martin Luther King Jr. marches). All had been calling for Mayor Villaraigosa to immediately intervene to halt the looming eviction of the 350-plus farmers. They also had hoped that Brentwood developer Ralph Horowitz would be compassionate in dealing with the poor on this issue. They were all asking, "Why bulldoze a fine city model of sustainability to build a warehouse?" Yes, Horowitz has the right to maximize profits, but there are many humanitarians who were now pleading for him to reconsider and use his conscience over profits.

    But while the police roughed up the protesters and farmers outside the farm, the mayor was finally giving the press conference he should have given one week before: he was finally announcing the financial goal had been met to buy the farm! Well, low and behold, the developer later that day talked to the mayor on the phone, stating it was now worth $2-3 million dollars more. Earlier, during television coverage of the eviction, he was focused on the issue of the farmers' "ingratitude," and said he wouldn't sell it to them for "100 million" because he didn't like their "causes." Hurt feelings on both sides might have occurred in the past, but now all of LA became focused on the television footage showing the hurt feelings and hurt bodies of those farmers and protesters hit in the stomach with riot police batons.

    Los Angeles developer Ralph Horowitz has been the focus of this dilemma, one that the former Los Angeles Mayor Hahn played a part in creating when he quietly sold the garden land for $5 million to Horowitz in 2003. Many lawsuits later, it now stands that a July 12th Superior Court hearing will determine whether the original sale of the land was even legal in the first place. Horowitz also sued the farmers in February - a Slapp suit for $700,000 filed as an Abuse Process Complaint.

    What is not being reported at all in this issue is that the real heat had been turned up last week by Senator Barbara Boxer when she delivered the most direct punch to this boondoggle. Sending a letter to developer Ralph Horowitz, she stated, "I understand that efforts to raise the $16.3 million have so far fallen short and that you may be prepared to oust the approximately 350 families who farm the land." Noting that the property has a "tangled history which began when the City of Los Angeles took the property through eminent domain in the 1980s for a planned trash-to-energy incinerator, which was never built," Senator Boxer pointed to the fact that after that transaction, the "City allowed the LA Regional Food Bank to begin using the land as an urban gardening project ... Ultimately, you regained the property through court action for $5 million, slightly more than you had been paid for the property when it was taken for the incinerator." Focusing on fair treatment, she ended her letter with, "Mr. Horowitz, I sincerely hope that you will agree to negotiate with the community for a price that they can realistically afford. I am also sure that you could benefit by making part of the ownership transfer a charitable gift to the community."

    Amidst all the scurry, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) came to the rescue last week offering another solution - to buy the farm for full price. The TPL has always been generous to LA, creating the Parks for People-LA program to create 25 new park and open space projects (i.e., community gardens and athletic fields) over the next five years. Using their G1S computer modeling to pinpoint neighborhoods where parks are most urgently needed, they have determined South LA to be an area that definitely needs greenery. Recently the TLP also saved another downtown LA site, the 32-acre "Cornfield" which was also being threatened by developers.

    With eviction looming, last week the Trust put out a nationwide plea to many philanthropy organizations to immediately pledge monetary grant support to buy the South Central Farm at Horowitz's asking price of $16.3 million. The Annenberg Foundation immediately responded with a gift pledge of $10 million, and this week, the Trust for Public Lands will be presenting documents to Horowitz to purchase the land for the farmers. Bob Reid of the Trust for Public Land, states that the Trust has "drafted legal documents" to present to Horowitz to negotiate a "transaction to purchase the community farm."

    Joan Baez, who initially lit the fire on finding a compassionate solution to this crisis, showed up again over last weekend, actually sleeping in the tree overnight with tree-sitters Darryl Hannah, John Quigley, and Julia Butterfly-Hill. The four did phone interviews all night with late-night radio talk shows about the plight of the farm. Baez said she showed up in LA "to bring my little piece of heart to do something that would bring a tangible result." The next morning, she also sang an honoring anthem to Julia Butterfly-Hill while the activist concluded her 24-day hunger strike, descending from her tree-sitting post as she was replaced by another female farmer, also fasting.

    Julia Butterfly-Hill noted that her water-only fast was to show the unfairness of destroying "paradise," and that the farm garden was "priceless and irreplaceable," and a "large vision of what's possible for Los Angeles to be healthier." She had successfully taken a stand on the value of preserving nature by living in a redwood tree for over two years in Northern California to stop the impending destruction of old-growth redwood forests, which is the subject of one of her bestselling books, Luna. She noted that during her LA hunger strike, she realized that "most Americans don't know what it's like to go hungry for even 24 hours. " She urged citizens to think how the South Central Farm garden is "the food source for over 350 families and their extended families, and to place yourself in their shoes - to consider how it would feel to have a large part of your food source ripped away from you."

    Joining Julia Butterfly-Hill and Darryl Hannah in the tree was John Quigley, who is well known for a recent LA tree-sit to save a 400-year old tree, Old Glory, from being destroyed. He also just completed a project with Global Green, organizing an aerial photograph of thousands of scientists and the Innu tribe in the Artic, who with their bodies spelled out SOS on an ice cap, bringing attention to ice caps dramatically melting there due to global warming. He also recently created another art image at Venice Beach to draw attention to the plight of the quarter of a million homeless US veterans. At his request, five hundred citizens of LA formed the outline of the famous image of veterans raising the American flag at IwoJima. For Quigley to be one of the tree-sitters at the South Central Farm is natural for his way of thinking, "We hope Ralph Horowitz will negotiate a deal where everyone wins."

    Ralph Nader, who also visited with the activists, stated, "This farm is a model, a source of inspiration for people in other parts of the world. These farmers are giving life, hope and food in an unlikely place. There has to be land for people in the cities, not just family farms in rural areas. It's always the banks and developers buying up the land for skyscrapers. Our city planners need to allow farms such as this in the city. You have devastated areas in the city, like here. The wealthy keep taking the land, and this protest to save this farm is a historic event. This signifies the possibilities of working the land, and the fruits going to the people who work that land.

    "In the 1980s, Detroit wanted to build a GM plant on a similar piece of land, and at 5 a.m. fifty squad cars came in and pulled out the protestors and got away with it. But here in LA, I am saying to the authorities that it will be difficult to keep their jobs if they destroy this farm."

    Former mayor of Santa Monica Mike Feinstein, now active in urban planning with the Southern Regional Comprehensive Plan Task Force (part of SCAG, the Southern California Association of Governments), stated, "This brings up food security issues. When the mayor's office previously said they would just relocate the farm, I immediately thought that they can't relocate the spirit that has gone into the land here. Better solutions can be found. The previous city grant that built this community garden is a good model. With open space, a city can build a dream garden."

    Rev. Ignacio Castuera, pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church in Watts, stated, "My hope was that the sheriffs wouldn't move in too quickly. We are working outside the usual channels, and the people of faith are trying to bring another dialog to this conflict - heart to heart. It should not only be a money question. My hope is that Mr. Horowitz is a practicing Jewish man, and I pray that his Rabbi will remind him of the Biblical call to deal fairly with the poor."

    Christine Chavez, daughter of Cesar Chavez, who also spent the night on the farm in the tent encampment, stated, "We shared the farm workers' prayer that Cesar Chavez always prayed. Cesar also had an organic garden like these found at this farm. I saw Cesar fast for 36 days to stop the spraying of pesticides on the farmers in the fields, and it was very serious on his health, so I was at the farm to pray for Julia Butterfly-Hill while she fasted for the South Central Farm." Cesar's wife, Helen, also accompanied her daughter.

    Martin Sheen recited poetry by Rabindranath Tagore to the farmers: "Where the heart is without fear, and the head help up high ... when the clear stream of reason hasn't lost its direction, into that heaven, that freedom, let my country awake." Sheen, usually protesting the School of Americas for its training of battalions that later commit atrocities in other countries, arrived with Jesuit priest Reverend Michael Kennedy.

    Rev. Kennedy, of the Delores Mission Church in East LA, is still alive today but could have been killed in the 1980s if he had been with six fellow Jesuit priests as planned. The Jesuits were killed in El Salvador, murdered by the Atlactl Battalion which had been trained at the School of Americas. The issues over immigrants from Central America taking political asylum in the US (due to the US funding of these death squads) is close to his heart. Perhaps that is why he showed up - to protect the small number of Central American farmers who also have plots of land at the South Central Farm.

    He stated, "At this historical moment, this is a Promised Land. People of faith believe LA should come together to keep the land sacred, using it for the best use, and that is as a garden. We live in this part of the city, and we know there are not many green areas down here."

    Pete Seeger even called the farmers, saying, "Some growth is considered bulldozing. Right now we need growth in generosity, and growth in common sense for humanity and our communities."

    Mary Wright, of the Wright Resource Center in Malibu, and of the visionary Frank Lloyd Wright family, noted that the late architect developed the concept of "broad acre cities" with people "living near where they grow their food, and children being able to be in nature close to home, and to get in touch with the process of seed to harvest." She emphasized that in the case of the farmers in South Central, she is "deeply saddened that greed seems to be superceding need" in an area where there is "such a deep, important need."

    Last Sunday, country superstar Willie Nelson showed up to lend support as head of Farm Aid. He stressed, "We all need to learn to grow our own food. There is a new trend where city folks are going out into rural areas to hire family farmers to grow their organic food. This farm should be saved. It's a great example of what can be done in all cities. I would climb up in the tree with them, but I think of Keith Richards' accident, and so I'll just do a polka with one of the farmers on the ground."

    He went on: "The farmers are growing organic food here, and helping other farmers. We all have to utilize every acre to grow food. Farm Aid supports growing organically, and the farmers will grow our fuel in the future, as well as food. Biodiesel and ethanol will be positive for family farmers to pay their bills, growing soybeans and cotton for biodiesel."

    While Nelson was at the farm, the sheriffs' helicopters circled overhead many times, and he stressed, "Mayor Villagarosa should step up to the plate all the way right now. He knows what the people want. Senator Boxer and Congresswoman Waters are being very vocal. He should have been helping to settle this more actively already and being more outspoken, before the farmers have to go through unnecessary pain."

    After Darryl Hannah returned from being arrested, she stated, "As I was coming down from the tree, I looked around and what really came to me was this neighborhood is filled with liquor stores, warehouses and concrete. Every mother deserves a place to grow healthy food and a green place for children to play. Here in South Central LA, there is a dire need. I'm very sad today that Mr. Horowitz has broken his word. He said if the community of South Central could raise $16 million, he would sell us the land. We did it. It was a miracle, and that's why I raised my arm when I was coming down from the tree. We did our part. We stood up and did the impossible, a group of farmers, a few celebrities, and hundreds of people who care. Now he's broken his word ..."

    Yesterday, Danny Glover sent word to the farmers, stating, "I received the news today about what was happening at the South Central Farm, and it's a very, very sad day. In fact, it ought to be a National Day of Mourning, a national day of Shame. What we are witnessing is the wanton and wholesale destruction of a community's dream. Instead of destroying the dream, we should be embracing it."

    He went on to say, "I'm especially saddened for our children. What is the message that we are sending to them when our national priorities are such that we can spend a billion dollars a day, about $45.8 million dollars an hour, on the war in Iraq and have a few million dollars domestically be the difference between whether communities like South Central Farm have healthy and nutritious food or not. So like thousands of other people around the world today, I am saddened and at the same time I continue to admire, support and gain strength and hope from the courageous example provided by the South Central farmers. Your cause is not lost because the struggle will and must continue."

    Wednesday evening, Darryl Hannah appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live," joined via phone by Willie Nelson. Mr. King stated he knew the late Mr. Annenberg (of the Annenberg Foundation), and that he would have helped, "probably doubling the money gift." The late founder of the Annenberg Foundation was the former publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Willie Nelson reiterated that he is strongly standing "beside the farmers" on this issue.

    Whatever happens next, the Sacred Heart of Jesus candles are still around the sacred tree, but could be bulldozed within days. As of last night, more candles were being lit on the outside of the farm during a prayer vigil last night. Even though this is a big political mess, all I can think of is Jesus' saying, "Whatever you do unto the least of me, you do unto Me."

    Jane Ayers is an independent journalist who has conducted interviews for the Los Angeles Times Interview section, USA Today, The Nation. She is the author of the upcoming book Hearts of Charity, about the power of the individual to make a difference in the world. She is also a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. She is Director of the Jane Ayers Human and Environmental Rights Media, a 501(c)(3) project of SEE (Social & Environmental Entrepreneurs) part of the Earthways Foundation of Malibu. She can be reached at ladywriterjane@hotmail.com .