Albion Monitor

+ For its consistent effort to sidestep anything that suggests the innocence of Bear Lincoln, including evidence and jury acquittal, the Monitor is happy to present the Santa Rosa Press Democrat with its first annual Denial of Reality award (also known as "The Bob Dornan"). Congratulations, guys; I'm sure the trophy will really perk up that bunker.

The latest example appeared on December 27th -- a Saturday between the holidays, with probably the year's smallest readership -- and reported that almost all members of the Lincoln jury had sent a letter to the editor opposing retrial. But instead of printing the short letter itself, they chose to have Mike Geniella write a story about it.

While the article conceded that the jurors wrote, "none of the evidence pointed to murder," omitted was the following line: "Ten of twelve of us agreed that, on the night of April 14, 1995, Lincoln acted solely in self defense and should have been acquitted of all charges. This majority feels that, if you examine the evidence carefully and follow the law, no other conclusion is possible."

In a short summary of the case, Geniella also made a significant mistake, writing that, "[Bear Lincoln] claimed he didn't know he had killed Davis until after fleeing the scene." Lincoln has never said he killed Davis, and doesn't admit that to this day. This particular error reportedly has made a juror furious, and planning to demand a retraction from the Press Democrat. Any bets that they'll print it?

You can read the uncensored letter from the jury in the current Monitor commentary section. (December 30, 1997)

+ Labor activists have it tough -- just ask television celebrity Kathie Lee Gifford, who tearfully told reporters last year that she had no idea that her clothing line, sold by Wal-Mart, was made by sweatshop workers in Honduras and New York City. In a press conference with the New York Governor, newly-minted activist Gifford announced, "I am proud to stand with Governor Pataki if it can advance efforts to end substandard working conditions." It's now a year later; how goes the good fight, Kathie Lee?

Um, well, it looks like a few teensy problems have come up. On December 4, three other Manhattan sweatshops making her clothing were raided. State Attorney General Dennis Vacco told the Associated Press that working conditions "resembled something out of a Charles Dickens novel." The Chinese immigrants were sometimes forced to work around the clock and not paid for months. A spokesperson for Gifford conceded to AP that she was informed by monitors in August that there seemed to be "irregularities" in her factories.

Gifford also promised last year that Wal-Mart would hire independent human rights monitors at the Honduran plant. Are conditions better now? According to the National Labor Committee, Wal-Mart's solution was to close the factory in Honduras and moved to Nicaragua.

A recent article in the Cleveland Free Times reports an investigation found Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney and Kmart operating in Nicaragua, where workers were paid a base wage of 15 cents an hour, compared to the base rate of 31 cents an hour at Gifford's production line in Honduras. Documented were workers' exposure to toxics. "Bleaches, solvents and dyes are washed into outdoor, open pits. Workers also complain that they burn their hands with the bleach and chemicals used to make stone-washed jeans."

The S.F. Chronicle also reported this morning that Gifford is planning to record an all-blues album -- apparently in reference to her marital problems, not the misery of those who make her bluejeans. (December 31, 1997)

+ During the holidays, it's the thought that counts -- just ask Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council. As reported in Freedom Writer, an ad in the November 17 issue of Christianity Today states, "Many decorations Americans buy to celebrate the Christmas season are made in China, many by slave laborers imprisoned by living out their Christian beliefs." For $17, readers who want to "send a special message of hope and remembrance to our fellow Christians in China," can receive a six-inch "limited-edition hand-crafted brass ornament" commissioned by the Family Research Council.

In the full-page ad, the ornament appears considerably smaller than six inches, so Freedom Writer called the Family Research Council's toll-free number , where a spokeswoman explained that the six inches included the string that the ornament hangs from.

Bauer's ornament may not be a big deal, but his message of "christian persecution" is enormously popular among evangelical sorts, according to a feature in the December 21 New York Times Magazine. In less than a year, Bauer and others have turned it into the hottest topic in churches nationwide; unlike the sticky issue of abortion, there's no controversy about it -- nobody's for torture and murder.

Christian persecution was the excuse for the Crusades, of course, and many evangelists are apparently embracing Bauer's cause with Holy War enthusiasm. Their first battle will probably come in February, as Congress votes on the "Freedom From Religious Persecution Act" (H.R. 1685/S. 772). The bills would create a new White House office with broad powers to impose harsh sanctions on countries with persecution (or even a nation that "fails to take serious and sustained efforts" to stop persecution between its citizens). As the vote nears, expect nationwide prayer vigils and jammed phones at every congressional office.

The movement is causing a schism within the GOP, dividing the folks who want to "remoralize" U.S. foreign policy from free-trade business interests -- if the Act becomes law, nations such as China would probably be off-limits, much like Cuba or Iraq is today. Also watching anxiously are Republican moderates, who see that Bauer may be able to use the movement to achieve a long-sought goal of the Christian Right: complete control of the Republican Party. Expect the vote on the religious persecution bill to be the new litmus test for the 1998 elections. (December 31, 1997)

+ One of our most intriguing stories, "Looking For Missing Gold of Nazi Victims? Try the U.S. Treasury," almost didn't appear in the Monitor at all. It seemed farfetched; the U.S. covertly melting the personal possessions of Holocaust victims? Doubtful. But there were other intriguing aspects of the story that could be proven without doubt, and with an unusual disclaimer, we ran the story last May.

New evidence suggests that the story has proved even more bizarre than we reported. According to the December 1 New York Times, there appears to be several scandals involving the missing gold.

Yes, Americans melted 17 boxes worth of gold buttons, coins, and pipe ornaments from victims of the Holocaust -- although the Federal Reserve says only, "Our records do not provide any further information as to the nature or origin" of the items. Because the Federal Reserve was custodian for the Tripartite Gold Commission (TGC), the forty gold bars presumably joined the approximately $60 million in bullion that still remains in bank accounts controlled by the secretive Commission.

For the first time, the Treasury says records show that some of the metal that it smelted was not "monetary gold" -- which presumably means gold taken from dental fillings of civilians in occupied countries, concentration camp victims or others killed before they even reached the camps.

The Federal Reserve also revealed that it laundered Nazi gold to benefit American businesses. According to the Times, "the Treasury melted down bars of gold -- stamped with the swastika of the Prussian mint -- that had previously belonged to Spain so the gold could be reissued as American-produced gold and used in a transaction in which Spain purchased American-made telephone equipment." (December 31, 1997)

PREVIOUS 404 Report

Albion Monitor issue 40 (

All Rights Reserved.

Front Page