Thousands protest in Georgia against Army's 'school of assassins'
COLUMBUS, Ga. (November 22, 1998)
Thousands of protesters gathered Sunday in the largest-ever demonstration against the U.S. Army's School of the Americas, a military training center where opponents say Latin American soldiers learn torture.
By late morning, crowds lined both sides of an entrance road and some protesters began marching onto the grounds of the U.S. Army's Fort Benning, about 85 miles southwest of Atlanta.
Many carried white crosses they said represented victims of some of the school's almost 60,000 graduates.
Actor Martin Sheen was among those who spoke to a crowd organizers estimated at about 7,000. Columbus Police spokesman Lt. M.C. Todd estimated the crowd at fewer than 2,500.
"We have nothing against the Army. The Army has a proud tradition. We're asking it to take responsibility for people it trained in Central and South America," Sheen told reporters.
Organizers said 2,319 people risked arrest by entering the base, which critics say has turned out a steady stream of Latin American dictators, torturers and rogues.
Graduates include former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, former Argentine dictator Leopoldo Galtieri, Haitian coup leader Raoul Cedras and Salvadoran death squad organizer the late Roberto D'Aubuisson.
Opponents in Congress, led by Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Joseph Kennedy, have so far failed in efforts to cut funding for the school.
Attendance at Sunday's gathering was larger than at eight previous annual protests, which mark the anniversary of the Nov. 16, 1989, killings of six Jesuit priests by a Salvadoran army unit. The school trained 19 of the 26 soldiers implicated in the deaths by a United Nations investigation.
"We gather here to honor our brothers and sisters in Latin America," protest leader the Rev. Roy Bourgeois told supporters. "We will close the School of the Americas."
About 2,000 demonstrators protested last year and more than 600 of them were arrested when they entered the military post. About three dozen people who had been arrested for previous protests were convicted of criminal trespass earlier this year and sentenced to six months in prison and fined $3,000 each.
Army officers say the school, which moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, from Panama in 1984, has helped advance democracy in Latin America and that it has reformed its curriculum to stress respect for human rights.
Opponents say it is a "school of assassins," whose graduates they say also include several Chilean officers accused along with former dictator Augusto Pinochet of genocide, terrorism and torture.
Fort Benning officials held a debate about the school Saturday, but opponents declined to participate when they were told they could not carry cardboard coffins onto the buses that would transport them to the event.
Protesters at the base on Saturday carried banners reading "Close the School of the Assassins," "La Sangre Esta en Tus Manos" (Blood is on your hands) and "Stop the Oppression of Latin American Peasants." A man wearing a skeleton costume strode through the crowd on stilts.
Protesters Demand Closing of Army's School of the Americas
COLUMBUS, Ga., Nov. 21
A thousand protesters marched today outside a Georgia military base to demand the closing of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, where opponents claim that Latin American soldiers are taught torture.
"I believe it should be shut down simply because of its history, and the history can't be denied," said Dan Anderson, of Grand Rapids, Mich., who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. "They'll all admit some of the awful things those graduates did."
The protest outside the sprawling Fort Benning military installation, about 85 miles southwest of Atlanta, has been an annual event since 1990. It has been held each year to mark the Nov. 16, 1989, massacre of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador.
The School of the Americas trained 19 of the 26 Salvadoran officials implicated in the massacre by a United Nations investigation. The school trains more than 900 U.S. and Latin American soldiers each year.
Last year, the protest group crossed the Columbus city limits onto the Fort Benning base, where the school is housed.
There were 542 arrests, among them priests, nuns and college students, last year. Thirty of them -- all repeat offenders -- were sentenced to six months in federal prison for criminal trespass.
This year, event organizers expect more than 5,000 protesters Sunday. Actor Martin Sheen has promised to lead them through Fort Benning's main gate.
The number of potential protesters was confirmed by the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, which said every hotel in the area was booked to capacity tonight.
Many of the protesters held banners reading, "Close the School of the Assassins," "Los Sangre Es en Tus Manos [the blood is on your hands]," and "Stop the Oppression of Latin American Peasants." A man wearing a skeleton costume strode through the crowd on stilts.
The protesters appeared evenly divided between members of various orders of the Catholic Church -- including Benedictines, Jesuits, Franciscans -- and college students, many of whom arrived in caravans.
Martin Sheen Goes Indie
Martin Sheen will put his luck to the test with the gambling drama Lucky Town, in which he will play a legendary poker player known as "The Red." The pic, about two teenagers who get married and skedaddle off to Las Vegas only to get mixed up with a passel of killers and prostitutes, stars newcomers Charlotte Dodds, Kai Lennox, and Phil Matuarano, as well as Cheers vet John Ratzenberger and comedian Bill Kirchenbauer. The film, which as of yet has no distributor and a microscopic budget of less than $1 million, marks the directing bow of Brendan Beseth, who also wrote the screenplay. Shooting commences this month in Los Angeles.
Hispanic honors in works
By Harvey Solomon
WASHINGTON (Variety) - Giselle Fernandez of ``Access Hollywood'' and Hector Elizondo of ``Chicago Hope'' head here next month to co-host the 12th annual Hispanic Heritage Awards.
The Sept. 21 event at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will premiere as an hour-long special on the NBC-owned TV stations on Oct. 17. Honoring Hispanic Americans for their achievements in sports, arts, literature, education and leadership, this year's awards will go to Martin Sheen, WNBA star Rebecca Lobo, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Antonia Coello Novello, author Luis Rodriguez, classical musician Abraham Chavez and Grammy-winning singer Celia Cruz.
Exchange of Heart
Malibu Times 8-28-98
I'm writing to you today about the Malibu Community Labor Exchange (MCLE), a nonprofit project that I hold close to my heart - a project worthy of your support and essential to our community. The MCLE is the only city-sanctioned hiring site in Malibu that serves both worker and hirer without charge. It is run by an all-volunteer board of directors and one salaried employee, Executive Director Oscar Mondragon, who served 20 years with Cesar Chavez to further social justice through nonviolence.
On Aug. 31, the center will celebrate its fifth birthday. On that first day, 20 workers registered and only two went to work. Today, over 60 workers sign in each day and approximately 30 go to work. In fact, five years later, the center has registered over 3,000 workers and has helped facilitate over 26,000 jobs. In addition, the center has enabled many individuals to escape the indignities of homelessness.
In 1993, when a devastating firestorm hit Malibu, a team of day workers went to the aid of local homeowners. Braving the heat, they cut brush and smothered burning debris. While Malibu was without cable, the rest of the world saw Malibu day workers on many different stations. A 70-year-old grandmother in Guatemala was shocked but thrilled to see her grandson on TV. Being hugged and honored for his bravery. Later, Villa Costera homeowners awarded the fire heroes with gifts and donated funds to purchase a trailer office for the center. That trailer has served well, but today needs to be upgraded.
In 1995, the Labor Exchange contributed a 120-rosebush garden in front of City Hall. Citizens were invited to "adopt" a bush in the name of a loved one for a tax-deductible donation. When I selected a rose bush to honor my father, Francisco Estevez, I looked for the smallest and least robust to symbolize the struggle my father and others like him faced as immigrants. Under the care of volunteer MCLE workers, that bush now produces glorious and vibrant blossoms.
The Labor Exchange receives less than 15 percent of its budget from government funding - a Community Development Block Grant (federal money earmarked for community projects to help the poor). Because these funds have decreased from $35,000 in 1993 to $9,000 in 1998, the MCLE board must raise approximately $50,000 each year from donations and private grants in order to continue operations on a subsistence level.
Please join me in continuing to encourage this remarkable win-win project by sending a tax-deductible birthday tribute to the Malibu Community Labor Exchange - "MCLE" c/o P.O. Box 2273, Malibu, CA 90265. If you have questions about the Labor Exchange or need a worker, please call Oscar any morning, Monday through Saturday at 317-4717. Thank you.
Faith, Hope, Love,
Martin Sheen Christens Drug Court
by Daniel Frankel
June 22, 1998
Perhaps inspired by the recent narcotics arrest of son Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen appeared at a Compton, California, ceremony Wednesday to mark the opening of a "drug court."
A new program for non-violent drug offenders, the court sentences its convicts to extensive one-year treatment programs in lieu of prison terms.
According to Victoria Pipkin, spokeswoman for Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti, also on hand for the event, Sheen offered his support to the drug court project after having attended a recent conference on similar facilities in Washington, D.C.
"His own personal experience with substance abuse has made him sensitive and aware to alternatives to incarceration," said Pipkin.
"Substance abuse costs our nation dearly in death, crime, incarceration, destruction of families and neighborhoods so in fear, anger and despair, with equal measure from coast to coast," Sheen told the courtroom audience Wednesday.
"Let's put a drug court in our community. Let's make sure that everybody, rich or poor, no matter where they're from, male or female, has an opportunity to be healed no matter, rather than punished."
Several months ago, Martin Sheen made news by turning in his own chemically-challenged son to Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies-- the younger Sheen had violated his probation by continuing to use drugs.
Pipkin says the activist-prone Apocalypse Now star would like to see the program extend to affluent areas, too, such as his home town of Malibu.
Babylonian Productions Creates New Series and Two New Made-For- Television Movies For TNT NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif., April 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Netter Digital Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ:NETT) (Netter) in association with J. Michael Straczynski's Synthetic Worlds, Ltd., announced today that Babylonian Productions will produce an all-new original series for Turner Network Television (TNT) called "CRUSADE" and has started production on the third Babylon 5 original full-length movie, "Babylon 5: The River of Souls," for TNT. "We've spent the last five years building one of the most complex and carefully thought-out science fiction universes in TV history," explains `CRUSADE' creator J. Michael Straczynski, and creator/executive producer of the Hugo and Emmy award-winning series Babylon 5. "For most of that time, we've been confined to the Babylon 5 station. Now, in 'CRUSADE,' we will have the unique opportunity to go out and explore that universe in considerably more detail, seeing strange new places and encountering ancient, forgotten cities which hold secrets that may mean life or death for Earth. There are million-year old vaults, opened at last; and new races making first contact with humans in addition to explorations of the dozens of worlds established in the Babylon 5 universe." In "CRUSADE," the threat of the Shadows gone, all is quiet on Earth -- too quiet. An alien race vows revenge for the loss of the Shadows and aims its wrath at humans, unleashing a deadly biogenetic plague. Only five years remain for the inhabitants of Earth unless an Alliance ship, the Excalibur, succeeds in its quest to find a cure for the mutating plague. "CRUSADE" launches with the spectacular two-hour TNT original film "A Call To Arms." In addition, an ancient vault filled with relics believed to hold the secret to eternal life is the centerpiece of the previously announced two- hour film, "Babylon 5: The River of Souls." Martin Sheen ("The American President," "Apocalypse Now"), Ian McShane and series stars Tracy Scoggins, Jerry Doyle, Richard Biggs and Jeff Conaway will headline TNT's third Babylon 5 full-length movie. "'River of Souls' and 'A Call to Arms' both help to set the tone for this new series by presenting first takes on a new form of science fiction for television: archaeological SF, in which ancient secrets have an impact on current situations, and a more action-oriented tone, with greater humor and more emphasis on characterization. These are for fun, a chance to break out and go nuts. I've been doing angst for five years now; these films are going to be a hoot," says Straczynski. Douglas Netter, Chairman, CEO and President of Netter, and series creator J. Michael Straczynski will executive-produce the new series and two-hour films, scripted by Straczynski for Babylonian Productions. Warner Bros. licensed the series and film. Netter Digital Technologies, a division of Netter, which currently provides the special effects for Babylon 5, is creating the effects for the new movies and "CRUSADE" series. John Copeland, producer of Babylon 5 and executive vice president of Netter says, "In our industry, it is rare to have the level of international success that we have been so fortunate to attain with Babylon 5. Our international audience has been nothing short of steadfast in its devotion to the characters and the stories of Babylon 5. 'CRUSADE' will continue in this vein; striving to break new ground in special effects, character, plot and ingenuity. "We are pleased once again to have TNT and Warner Bros. as our partners in moving forward in this newer millennium and to know of their plans to produce additional TNT Babylon 5 movies," says Douglas Netter. "We are equally as pleased to have our qualified and dedicated staff, working on these new exciting projects." Turner Network Television (TNT), currently seen in more than 72 million homes, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.'s 24-hour, advertiser-supported service offering original motion pictures and series; contemporary films from the worlds largest film library, the combined Turner and Warner Bros. film libraries; exciting NBA sports action; popular television series; and timeless cartoons. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., is a major producer of news and entertainment product around the world and the leading provider of programming for the basic cable industry. Netter Digital Entertainment, Inc. is engaged in the acquisition, development and production of television series, made for television movies, documentaries, theatrical motion pictures and multimedia products. The Babylon 5 television series is produced in association with J. Michael Straczynski's Synthetic Worlds, Ltd. under Babylonian Productions which Netter Digital is the majority owner. The series airs on the TNT Network. The company's wholly owned subsidiary, Videssence, Inc., provides high tech media lighting products for the entertainment, electronic news and video conferencing/distant learning markets. Netter recently entered the business of providing digital media production services to outside clients through a newly formed division, Netter Digital Technologies.
4/5/98 -- LA Times * The Ark Trust Inc. netted $105,000 at its annual Genesis Awards on March 28 at the Beverly Hilton. Guests of honor included two supporters of animal causes, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Paul Watson, founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Celebrity presenters at the dinner--appropriately vegan--included Pierce Brosnan, Alicia Silverstone, Lyle Lovett, Martin Sheen, Tippi Hedren and Frances Fisher. The money will be used to help produce the Genesis Awards television show to be aired May 5 on the Animal Planet channel with co-sponsorship from Hallmark Entertainment. The Ark Trust honors films, TV shows and articles for work that raises awareness of animal-protection issues.
Joely Fisher & Bill Maher to Co-Host Twelfth Annual Genesis Awards
LOS ANGELES--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)--March 5, 1998-- Celebrity Presenters to Include Alicia Silverstone; Lyle Lovett; Ally Walker; Frances Fisher; Martin Sheen; Leeza Gibbons; Joe Montegna; Kevin Nealon; Bonnie Hunt; Montel Williams; James Cromwell; Harry Hamlin; Tiffani Amber-Thiessen; David James Elliot; Ed Begley Jr.; Sid Caesar; Peter Scolari; Shari Belafonte; Linda Blair; Tippi Hedron; Alex D. Linz; and "Verdell," the dog from "As Good As It Gets" Joely Fisher ("Ellen") and Bill Maher ("Politically Incorrect") will co-host the Twelfth Annual Genesis Awards, The Ark Trust, Inc., Thursday announced.
The Genesis Awards recognize members of the major news and entertainment media who have spotlighted animal issues with courage, creativity and integrity. Presented by The Ark Trust, Inc., an Encino, Calif.-based nonprofit animal protection organization, Genesis Awards ceremonies will be celebrated at a taped-for-television, star- studded spectacular on Saturday evening, March 28, in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Fisher and Maher will be joined by celebrity presenters Alicia Silverstone, Lyle Lovett, Martin Sheen, Leeza Gibbons, Montel Williams, Harry Hamlin, Ed Begley Jr., Sid Caesar, Shari Belafonte, Tippi Hedron, Linda Blair, Ally Walker ("Profiler"), Frances Fisher ("Titanic"), Joe Montegna ("Up Close and Personal"), Kevin Nealon ("Hiller and Diller"), Bonnie Hunt ("Jerry McGuire"), James Cromwell.
("L.A. Confidential"), Tiffani Amber-Thiessen ("Beverly Hills 90210"), David James Elliot ("JAG"), Peter Scolari ("Disney's Honey, I Shrunk The Kids: The TV Show"), Alex D. Linz ("Home Alone 3") and Verdell the dog ("As Good As It Gets").
1997 Genesis Award recipients include, among others, Utopia Pictures' "Shiloh" (Feature Film), Paramount Pictures' "Charlotte's Web" (Film Classic, 1972), CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond" (Television Comedy Series), Fox's "Millennium" (Television Dramatic Series), ABC's "Primetime Live" (Network Newsmagazine), "Hard Copy" (Syndicated Newsmagazine), NBC's "Leeza" (Television Talk Show), Associated Press (Syndicated Newspaper Articles) and New York Times Magazine (Newspaper Feature Article).
The 1997 Doris Day Music Award Classic -- honoring musical achievement for animals -- will be a tribute to the late John Denver by honoring the song he made famous, "You Say The Battle Is Over," about the slaughter of our Earth's majestic wildlife. The award will be presented by Denver's long-time friend, Lyle Lovett.
All 1997 Genesis Awards are selected from material released in 1997. Entries are submitted by those in the industry or by "people's choice," with finalists voted upon by the 17-member Genesis Awards Committee.
Since its inception in 1986, the Genesis Awards has become the nation's premier animal issues "consciousness-raiser," and the award is the only major news and entertainment media distinction concerning animal issues. The gala awards ceremony will be taped for television before a live audience of 1,000 attendees to world premiere as a 90- minute TV special on Tuesday, May 5, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Animal Planet with additional encore broadcasts. The Twelfth Annual Genesis Awards is produced by Paul Flattery and directed by Stanley Dorfman. To purchase tickets to the Twelfth Annual Genesis Awards, call 818/501-2ARK.
Sheen Leads DreamWorks Protest
By Nick Madigan
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - A group of demonstrators led by actor Martin Sheen blocked the entrance to the Playa Vista developer's headquarters Tuesday for two hours, chaining the main doors closed and disrupting work in the building.
No one was arrested and the developer, Playa Capital Co., decided not to press charges.
The site near the coastal suburb of Marina del Rey -- where DreamWorks plans to build its studio -- has been the subject of disputes and lawsuits by environmentalists who fear the development, once built, would irreparably harm Los Angeles County's last remaining wetlands nearby.
``Today's protesters were apparently targeting the proposed building of a new DreamWorks studio at the eastern end of the project site,'' said head developer Peter Denniston. ``I want to emphasize that the area for which DreamWorks is planned is the site of the old Hughes Aircraft factory and is more than a mile from the historic wetlands.''
Opponents, however, are more concerned with a planned commercial and residential project much closer to the wetlands, as well as bulldozing that has been occurring in the wetlands themselves.
``I want to say to Martin Sheen,'' Denniston said, ``that if he would like to meet with me to discuss these issues, I would be happy to sit down with him privately and show him the true facts on how Playa Vista is improving this land for people