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Monday, April 28, 1997

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  • First National Conference on Police Brutality in US

    Civil rights groups this weekend held the first national conference on police brutality organized by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and cosponsored by groups ranging from Amnesty International to the United Church of Christ.

  • Ten Year Anniversary of Ben Lender’s Death and his Legacy

    Ben Lender was a clown, a unicyclist, a political activist and a hydroelectric engineer. He was murdered ten years ago to this date in the mountains of Nicaragua. US funded Contras executed him while he was working with a group of Nicaraguan peasants to build a dam. This segment plays excerpts of a documentary about him, including a speech by former Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and an address by Ben Lender’s father, Brother and sister. They documentary is called, "They Can Cut All the Flowers, They Will Never Stop the Spring." David Lender, Ben’s father, discussed why Ben went to Nicaragua three years ago to try to improve the lives of the Nicaraguan people. He ended up working for the utilities company there. He completed a hydroelectric plant there and then began a more far-reaching project to develop hydroelectric power and bring clean water to the people. He was ambushed with two Nicaraguan helpers. Elizabeth Lender, Ben’s mother, described the day of the ambush. The Contra who were part of the ambush spoke about how they knew that Ben and his team were working on a hydroelectric project and that is why they ambushed them. According to Elizabeth, there was a CIA manual that targeted hydroelectricity projects because these projects improved the lives of people. Ben realized the danger he faced. Thousands of Nicaraguans came to eulogize Ben on the day of his funeral and Elizabeth asked one of them why they were so supportive of Ben and was told that he had the choice not to be here but he came anyway. Ben’s parents testified before Congress when they returned from Ben’s funeral. He believes that the US government is to blame for his son’s death. The committee had told Ben’s parents that they were investigating Ben’s murder. Ben’s parents also discussed the project itself, which continued after his death. They offered to raise money to fund the further development of the hydroelectric project. They collected $700,000 from small donors across the fifty states and Canada. The plant was completed. There is a Ben Lender Memorial Fund. Magda Enriquez is a representative of the Sandanistas in the United States and went to the 3 day conference in Oregon on Ben Lender’s legacy. She discussed her memories of Ben in Nicaragua and his commitment.

  • Feminist Passover Dinner

    Tomorrow the Jewish holiday of Passover ends, celebrating the liberation of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt. Five years ago, Amy Goodman went to an unusual Seder dinner in New York City begun in 1976 by Gloria Steinem and Jewish feminist writers Esther Broner, and Phyllis Chesler. The unique Passover dinner celebrated women and liberation. Broner started writing her version of the Haggadah 16 years ago, "The Women’s Haggadah". She officiated this Seder. She discusses how women and feminists deal with the concept of sacrifice. The women became the meditators and wrote their own prayers. She talked about the Exodus was involved the history of men, even though five women rescued Moses. This version of the Haggadah has become very popular. They discuss the role of women in Jewish liberation and the need for acknowledgement of this role. This year the women talked about internal and external plagues. Broner published The Women’s Haggadah this year as well as a book on the feminist Seder called, "The Telling." This year’s was the 22nd feminist Seder.

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