Human-rights activist offers another spin on terrorism
While politicians are on the offensive against terrorism, a speaker with a different message found an audience in Chico this week.

On Feb. 23, Trinity United Methodist Church hosted a lecture by the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, founder of the School of the Americas Watch. The 100-plus-member audience included some Chico residents who had joined Bourgeois in protesting the Georgia-based school, which has been criticized as a terrorist training camp.

“Some people are addicted to alcohol, some to cigarettes, some to cocaine. Our country, the U.S., is addicted to power and petroleum,” Bourgeois told the crowd. He said he believes the purpose of the School of the Americas is to feed this addiction.

The school was founded in 1946 in Panama as a base for the U.S. military to train Latin American soldiers to fight communism. Panamanian citizens objected so strongly to what they termed a “school of assassins” on their soil that the facility eventually moved to Fort Benning, Ga. Among its better-known graduates are former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega and the El Salvadoran assassins of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

“This school provides the muscle for U.S. foreign policy,” Bourgeois charged. The school defines itself as a counter-insurgency combat training facility, but Bourgeois said it’s just a place where terrorists learn to bully the poor.

“We want the school closed,” he said, “but what we are after is to change U.S. foreign policy.”

Aanestad makes committee’s mercury rise
State Senate candidate Sam Aanestad’s political motives have been under fire through a series of timely press conferences staged in Sacramento and Chico by the California Citizens for Health Freedom Committee.

Locally led by President Frank Cuny, the committee charges that Aanestad’s political campaign is funded by and geared toward helping the American Dental Association’s agendas. Cuny says the ADA is attempting to use Aanestad as “another mouthpiece in the Senate.” Specifically, the committee targeted the use of “amalgam” (i.e., silver) fillings and the health concerns surrounding them.

Aanestad is an oral surgeon and has lobbied to prevent a ban on amalgam fillings. Anti-amalgam advocates say that, because the fillings are more than 50 percent mercury, there’s a risk of toxicity, especially in children and pregnant or nursing mothers.

The ADA contends that, although amalgam fillings have been proven to emit mercury vapors, the amount of mercury is not enough to be harmful. Mercury toxicity is suspected by many professional journals to contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and autism. Aanestad did not return calls for comment by press time.

Longtime CSUC women’s basketball coach dies
Chico State University’s basketball program lost a good friend last week with the passing of head women’s coach Mary Ann Lazzarini, who died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 49.

Colleagues called Lazzarini “a real special person,” one who brought a caring and compassionate approach to coaching.

“Everybody who came in contact with her came away with something special,” said CSUC Assistant Athletic Director Anita Barker. “She was awesome as a coach because her team came first. She cared for her players as people and as students.”

Lazzarini had coached the Wildcats since 1989, when she took over the head coaching position from longtime friend Fran Coslet. Prior to that, she had been assistant coach for the women’s basketball team for 14 years, and also coached women’s field hockey until that program was ended.

After taking a leave of absence to battle the disease during the 2000-2001 season, Lazzarini returned to the team last fall. But after leading it to win its first seven games of the season, a relapse in January took her out of the game for good.

Aside from working for the college, Lazzarini also studied there, earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees there. She also played for the Wildcats for two years before becoming assistant coach in 1974. Though she was born in Martinez, she lived in Chico for close to 24 years.