Saturday, December 04, 2004




1380 Valencia Street
(Between 24th & 25th Streets, S.F.)

Help build Jan. 20th and March 19/20 Global Days of Action


San Francisco's Prop N calling on the US Gov to
Bring Our Troops Home from Iraq won by over 63%.
To find out how you can pass a similar proposition in
your town go to:


Bay Area United Against War Presents
a film screening of:

"WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception"

Meet film director Danny Schechter "The News Dissector."
Danny will be available for a question and answer period
right after the movie.

Saturday, Dec. 11th, 2004
(Check the newspaper for showtime and ticket price.)
Embarcadero Center Cinema
One Embarcadero Center, Promenade Level
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 267-4893

" 'WMD' paints a meticulous and damning portrait of the media's
coverage of the Iraq war. In sobering detail, Danny Schechter
shows us how the TV networks now prefer the role of cheerleader,
to that of objective journalist," says Mike Nisholson

"Schechter tackles his subject like a cross between Errol
Morris and a Dashiell Hammet detective, following close
on the tail of big media reporters as they in turn track the
march toward war, embed themselves in the military industrial
complex and then get out when the fighting gets tough and
leave the cleanup work to stringers, " writes Shandon Fowler
of film's Hamptons International Film Festival appearance,
Oct. 20-24.

To learn more about the film visit:

(Distributed by Cinema Libre Studio,


1) Trophy Hunting?
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
December 04, 2004
link of the week at **

2) Jan. Elections Remain Misunderstood in U.S., Tenuous in Iraq
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** -
link of the week at **
December 04, 2004
The NewStandard
By Lisa Ashkenaz Croke, The NewStandard
Dahr Jamail in Baghdad contributed to this piece.
*With politicians and the media distorting news of the
upcoming Iraqi elections, most Americans have no idea how
the process will work. Meanwhile, informed skeptics look at
recent history and wonder if it will work at all.*

3) **Army Gears Up to Punish Soldiers Who Refused Mission
** Please forward far and wide **
From: "Justice Freedom"
Fri, 3 Dec 2004 22:46:10 -0800
[Original Message]
From: Robert D. Hammie <
**Defend the 343rd! Sign the petition in support of
the 343rd Quartermaster soldiers who refused to follow
dangerous orders at:

4) Building Unity in the Global Antiwar Movement
Become an endorser and supporter for March 19/20
Update: January 20 Counter-Inaugural Protest

A Community Labor News E-Zine
From: Douglas MacDonald
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 18:00:25 -0800 (PST)
Subject: From the Million Worker March: Forging the Fightback

6) Lessons Of The November 2004 Elections
& Perpectives For The Future
Sunday December 12, 2004 7:00 PM
522 Valencia St./16th St. San Francisco
Donation Requested $3.00

7) In this message:
· Weekly ANSWER Activist Meeting
· Shutdown the PG Hunters Point Power Plant
· ANSWER Film Series: “North Korea: Beyond the DMZ”
For more information on the following events, call 415-821-6545.

8) Smoking While Iraq Burns
Its idolisation of 'the face of Falluja' shows how numb the
US is to everyone's pain but its own
Naomi Klein
The Guardian
Friday November 26, 2004,5673,1360284,00.html

9) Ugly the War: Iraq Watch Specials
From Peace No War Network
December 3, 2004
Navy probes new Iraq prisoner photos: AP
China Daily (China)
Updated: 2004-12-04 09:16

10) Suicide Bomber Kills 8 Iraqi Police Officers
December 5, 2004

11) Introducing a new Policy Report from Foreign Policy In Focus
The Landmine Web
By Colonel Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.)
Peace and Justice News from FPIF

December 3, 2004

12) Experts Fear Medicare Won't Work for Nursing Home Patients
December 5, 2004

13) Rulings in Texas Capital Cases Try Supreme Court's Patience
December 5, 2004

14) Don't Let Banks Turn Their Backs on the Poor
December 4, 2004


1) Trophy Hunting?
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
December 04, 2004
link of the week at **

Yesterday, before the usual morning gunfire in the streets which has
become my morning alarm clock, Abu Talat phones me. There is very heavy
fighting over in al-Adhamiya. Two giant explosions occurred around
6:15am, followed by mortar blasts, then constant, heavy gun battles that
went on into late morning.

The Hamid al-Alwan mosque, a small Shia mosque in the predominantly
Sunni area of Adhamiya had been hit with a car bomb.

Witnesses reported that the car had been left there at 6am, and
detonated remotely.

After the first blast, people in nearby homes, hearing the screaming of
the wounded, ran outside to help. As a group formed around the wreckage,
a secondary, much larger explosion went off. In the end, 14 were killed,
19 wounded.

Smoldering vehicles, including a destroyed minibus
lay about the street in front of the damaged mosque
Pools of blood
and body parts lay strewn about the scene. Nearby homes were damaged
from the blast as well.

took it upon themselves to evacuate most of the bodies and wounded to
nearby al-Numan hospital, because ambulances failed to arrive until 45
minutes after the blast.

The interesting detail is that while US military are usually some of the
first to arrive on the scene at bombings, they never showed up for this
one. The Iraqi National Guard, who have a base in the ex-presidential
palace less than one kilometer from the bombing, never showed up either.

The Iraqi Police, however, did show up at the scene. Most of them
wearing facemasks to protect their identity (this is Adhamiya)...but one
man, a muscular, arrogant, loudspoken policeman, unmasked, was yelling,
"Of course this happened because this is a Shia mosque! The Sunni hate
the Shia!"

Members of the crowd perceived his actions as deliberately provocative
and inflammatory.

Aisha Dulaimy, a resident of al-Adhamiya said, "The reason for this car
bomb is the Americans want to cause a split between the Shia and Sunni.
But there has never been fighting between the Shia and Sunni in the
history of Iraq. They want to make a struggle between us, but it will
never work. They tried this before and people responded by making
demonstrations together against the occupiers. So they will never make
it. We are living as brothers-Shia and Sunni. There is no difference
because we all live in the same home, which is Iraq."

She references an attack last winter in the large Shia mosque across the
river in the Khadamiya district, which was followed nearly immediately
by an attack on a Sunni mosque in Adhamiya. The attacks were perceived
by both residents and religious leaders as attempts to divide the
religious sects, so they held mass demonstrations together, Shia and
Sunni, in a show of solidarity. They also prayed in one another's mosques.

The nearly immediate reaction from the bombing yesterday was an intense
mortar barrage on the nearby US military base followed by fierce clashes
in Adhamiya.

Military helicopters and fighter jets roared overhead, scaring many
people who feared they would be bombed.

A 16 year-old resident of al-Adhamiya, Ahmed al-Dulaimey, said, "The US
jets are so loud, only flying 50 meters above our homes. They dropped
three groups of many flares. When I saw them I ran to my house because I
was afraid they would bomb us."

In other news, Thursday the director of Fallujah General Hospital was
shot and wounded by soldiers while he and two other doctors attempted to
enter Fallujah in an ambulance in order to provide aid to families
trapped there. They had gone into the city after having been granted
permission by the military and Ministry of Health.

A friend of mine here who is a doctor told me that recently the Ministry
of Health issued a directive instructing doctors not to talk to any
media, particularly about patients who are wounded by the military.

Salam stayed the night last night since we worked late...hence we slept
late today. Until 9:30 anyhow, when a huge blast nearby shook the hotel
and rattled windows. I sat up quickly in bed, looked at him over on the
couch and he said, "Good morning Dahr."

I said, "Morning man, who needs coffee," as I dressed and grabbed my
camera and ran to the roof of a nearby hotel to locate the blast. A
building blocked the exact locale, but the plume of black smoke
rose above it-just over near the "green zone." Interesting to have the
photo then 10 minutes later in my hotel see it replicated on the TV

It was a police station which was bombed. 6 Police dead, at least 60
cops and civilians wounded.

Photos dated from May, 2003 have been shown all over Jazeera
today-showing Navy Seals torturing Iraqis. Up close shots of men with
bloodied mouths with guns held to their heads, etc. You know the drill
by now.

They were put on the net by the wife of a soldier who'd returned from Iraq.

John Hutson, a retired rear admiral who served as the Navy's Judge
Advocate General from 1997 to 2000, said the photos suggested possible
Geneva Convention violations, as international law prohibits souvenir
photos of prisoners of war.

Hutson said, "It's pretty obvious that these pictures were taken largely
as war trophies."

Not too surprising, however, because there are also eyewitness reports
now from refugees that some soldiers in Fallujah were tying the dead
bodies of resistance fighters to tanks and driving around with their

More writing, photos and commentary at

Or, you can unsubscribe by sending an email to and write unsubscribe in the
or the body of the email.

(c)2004 Dahr Jamail.
All images and text are protected by United States and international
copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the
web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent link
to the website. Any other use of images and text
including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another website,
copying and printing requires the permission of Dahr Jamail.
Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

Iraq_Dispatches mailing list


2) Jan. Elections Remain Misunderstood in U.S., Tenuous in Iraq
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** -
link of the week at **
December 04, 2004
The NewStandard
By Lisa Ashkenaz Croke, The NewStandard
Dahr Jamail in Baghdad contributed to this piece.
*With politicians and the media distorting news of the
upcoming Iraqi elections, most Americans have no idea how
the process will work. Meanwhile, informed skeptics look at
recent history and wonder if it will work at all.*

December 3 - Asked last week if Sunni participation was needed to make
Iraq's national elections "free and fair," President Bush told reporters
that he was "confident [that] when people realize that there's a chance
to vote on a President, they will participate."

Continue reading "Jan. Elections Remain Misunderstood in U.S., Tenuous
in Iraq"

* I would like to take a moment to bring your attention to an important
news website.

The NewStandard, which I have worked for as a correspondent and continue
to write for today, is a progressive news organization that has the aim
of reaching into the mainstream. This goal, which we all know is
imperative in order to get the truth about Iraq out to a wider audience,
is one that is attainable by a news source like The Newstandard. They
consistently produce the highest quality news stories, and you can help
them in their cause of pushing them onto a broadening stage by
supporting them at this time.

Already their work has appeared on thousands of websites and has been
cited as reliable reporting by numerous mainstream outlets, including
the NY Times, Wall Street Journal and others. Also, their reporting has
been cited in civil rights-related motions in court cases, including
those of torture victims of Abu Ghraib.

With their devoted and tireless work they supported me magnificently as
their correspondent during my last trip in Iraq. This support continues
today, even while I am no longer their correspondent. They adhere to
their policy of putting the journalist first so that she/he can be
supported fully in their work, in order to produce the most accurate,
fact-checked stories possible.

Supporting The NewStandard means supporting independent reporters like
me. So few outlets are willing to pay journalists for telling the truth
these days, it is vital that we support the few that strive to do just

You can visit their site now by following this link:

To learn more, go to:

They have made it really simple and secure to support them.

Sign-up Page:

More writing, photos and commentary at

You can visit to subscribe
or unsubscribe to the email list.

Or, you can unsubscribe by sending an email to and write unsubscribe in the
subject or the body of the email.

(c)2004 Dahr Jamail.
All images and text are protected by United States and international
copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the
web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent
link to the website. Any other use of images
and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on
another website, copying and printing requires the permission
of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches
via email.

Iraq_Dispatches mailing list


3) **Army Gears Up to Punish Soldiers Who Refused Mission
** Please forward far and wide **
From: "Justice Freedom"
Fri, 3 Dec 2004 22:46:10 -0800
[Original Message]
From: Robert D. Hammie <
**Defend the 343rd! Sign the petition in support of
the 343rd Quartermaster soldiers who refused to follow
dangerous orders at:

Statement in Support of the 343rd Soldiers Who Refused
Iraq Mission

Issued by the Campus Antiwar Network Coordinating
Committee - 21 November 2004

"The Army doesn't want the information to get out."
-Beverly Dobbs, mother of Spec. Joseph Dobbs

Well, we want the information to get out. We want
everyone to know what the military is trying to do to
these soldiers who stood up against unsafe orders.
They were right to refuse, and no charges should be
brought against them.

The Army has recommended punishment for 24 members of
the South Carolina-based 343rd quartermaster company
who refused orders to drive a fuel convoy on a route
hundreds of miles long without armor, air or ground
support, and carrying helicopter fuel they believed to
be contaminated, and therefore dangerous to other

The military is trying to keep the situation as quiet
as possible. Without the soldier's families bravely
speaking out on the situation, much less would be
known about their fight.

Families say the punishment being considered ranges
from a letter of reprimand, fines, reduction in rank
and pay, to possible court marshal and prison time.

The military has tried to portray this as an isolated
incident, and not part of a larger breakdown in
discipline or a symptom of a widespread shortage of
proper equipment for troops.

They obviously fear the soldiers' refusal will find
popular support among civilians, and more importantly,
those in the military who can sympathize with the
343rd's plight--and who might consider following their


The widespread discontent in the military can be seen
in the numbers of reservists who are fighting calls to
return to active duty.

Over the last few months, the Army has called 4,000
former soldiers to report for active duty, and 1,800
have requested exemptions or delays. Of the 2,500 that
were supposed to report for duty by Nov. 7, 733
haven't shown up. Some soldiers have sued the military
and won their cases.

In Vietnam, widespread combat refusal paralyzed the
military and was crucial to ending the war. That's why
the military is trying hard to keep people from seeing
the actions of the 343rd as a symbol of resistance.

"I'll say it over and over, I do not understand why
they're having to go through this", said Beverly
Dobbs. "They joined because that was a dream for all
of them. It can be ruined because they're not willing
to listen to what they're trying to say. To my mind
they saved lives by not going out."

The military disillusioned many soldiers in Vietnam,
and is doing the same today. We will see more
incidents like the 343rd's. In fact, another, largely
unreported, protest occurred when three National Guard
members at Camp Shelby, refused to conduct training
exercises after their anger at poor pay and conditions
at the base spilled over.

When these soldiers stand up and resist, we have to be
ready to do the same.

In solidarity,
The Campus Antiwar Network

For background visit:

Platoon Refuses Orders in Iraq
Mississippi Guards Rebel, Refuse to Conduct Training
Soldiers Flee Training Camp
Strains Felt By Guard Unit on Eve Of War Duty,
Entire National Guard Batallion Put on Lockdown
Army encounters resistance from 2,000 former soldiers
ordered back to military work
"Fight to Survive," Antiwar Soldiers' Web Blog
Visit us on the web at Yahoo! Groups Links


4) Building Unity in the Global Antiwar Movement
Become an endorser and supporter for March 19/20
Update: January 20 Counter-Inaugural Protest

The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition in the United States issued a call in
early October to mobilize for the March 19/20 Global Day of mass
action. This is the second anniversary of Bush's criminal aggression
against the people of Iraq. More than 100,000 Iraqis have died and
yet the resistance to occupation by the Iraqi people has not been stifled
through the resort to high tech massacres. U.S. soldiers are being killed
and maimed in a war for conquest. In these ways Iraq parallels the U.S.
war against Vietnam. At the same time the U.S. government is spending
billions to kill in Iraq, Palestine and Haiti, it is destroying social
programs and working peoples' security in the U.S.

Antiwar actions in Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles and in
other cities around the country and around the world will take place
on March 19/20.

On the first anniversary of the "Shock and Awe" invasion, March 20,
2004, the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition and others in a larger March 20 National
Coalition promoted the building of a united front under the slogan:
Bring the Troops Home Now, End Occupation from Iraq to Palestine
to Haiti and Everywhere. The demonstration also highlighted the call
for Money for Jobs, Education and Healthcare, Not for War and in
defense of civil rights and civil liberties. More than 100,000 marched
in New York City refuting the notion that the antiwar movement must
turn its back on the just struggle of the Palestinian people in order to
build so-called broad support. In fact, the large turnout on March 20
of the Arab-American, Muslim, Haitian and other targeted communities
helped the demonstration reflect the broad multi-national and multi-
ethnic reality of the global people's movement for justice. This true
united front organizing was a major step forward for the antiwar
movement in the United States.

Rather than excluding the Arab-American and Muslim community,
it is imperative that the antiwar movement deepen its solidarity.
Struggling against all vestiges of national chauvinism and racism is
essential if the new global movement is to realize its full potential.
Bush and the ultra-right are using divide and conquer tactics as they
target everyone's rights. The antiwar movement can defeat the tactics
of Bush and the right-wing by demonstrating in practice that the
people can build unity and solidarity among all peoples and all

The demonstration comes at a particularly crucial time. The crimes
against humanity inflicted on the people of Fallujah have become
a metaphor for the entire criminal enterprise. Destroying a city and
its people in the name of "democracy" barely masks Bush and Wall
Street's real agenda.

As the Bush administration attempts to redraw the geo-political
map of the Middle East, a corresponding parallel policy targeting
the Arab-American and Muslim communities is being rapidly imposed
in the United States. The ramification of this policy is in fact alarming.
For example, Palestinian professors from Columbia to UC Berkeley,
student groups from San Francisco State to Duke University,
humanitarian and community organizations from New York to
California and from Illinois to Texas, are being systematically targeted
in the most vicious manner in an avalanching variety of methods.

Clearly, the Bush administration, aided by its allies and ideological
neo-conservative underpinning, is attempting to silence dissent
using the likes of the Patriot Act, criminalize criticism of Israeli
policies (as in the case of House Resolution 3077), and fully
marginalize Arab-Americans and Muslims.

Hate speech has been so normalized that hate mongers from Daniel
Pipes to Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh are filling all sorts of
media outlets with outright racism and bigotry with impunity. In
the face of this multi-faceted assault, the clear linkages made thus
far within the antiwar movement between the defense of civil liberties
at home and the opposition to colonial occupations and conquest,
from Palestine, Haiti, to Iraq and beyond, should be not only dearly
protected but also expanded and strengthened.

We urge all antiwar and people's rights organizations to join together
in this important day of action and global solidarity.

To become an endorser of the March 19/20 Global Day of Mass
Action click here.

Update: January 20 Counter-Inaugural Protest

More than 6,000 people have now endorsed the January 20
Counter-Inaugural demonstration which will line the Bush parade
route in Washington DC. This is a permitted demonstration.
As Bush travels by limousine up Pennsylvania Avenue he will
be greeted by thousands demanding an immediate end to the
criminal war in Iraq. The country and the world must see that
the people of the United States are in the streets from the very
first day of Bush's second term.

Pledge now to support the January 20 demonstration against
the war. Click here to endorse and say Bring the Troops Home Now!

If you are planning to organize buses, vans or car caravans to
be in Washington DC, San Francisco or Los Angeles on January 20,
fill out the Transportation Form to help spread the word.

Help spread the word about January 20. Click here for new,
updated downloadable flyers.

We hope you will join us in Washington DC on January 20 or if
you can't come help us cover the many expenses for this huge
undertaking including transportation to bring people to DC. Funds
are urgently needed for this effort. You can make an urgently needed
contribution for the January 20 mobilization through a secure server
by clicking here. Credit card donations made online are not tax
deductible. To make a tax deductible credit card donation, call
202-544-3389. You can also make a tax deductible donation by
writing a check to A.N.S.W.E.R./AGJ and sending it to A.N.S.W.E.R.,
1247 E St. SE, Washington DC 20003.

Update: Cuba/U.S./Mexico/Canada/Venezuela Labor Conference

A very important conference - an encounter among Cuban, U.S.,
Mexican, Canadian, Venezuelan and other trade unionists - will
take place in Tijuana, Mexico, the 10th, 11th, and 12th of
December, 2004. In response to the repeated denial of entry visas
to the U.S., on the part of the U.S. government, to five Cuban trade
union leaders, it has been necessary to hold the conference in Tijuana.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-533-0417
Los Angeles: 323-464-1636
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
For media inquiries, call 202-544-3389.


A Community Labor News E-Zine
From: Douglas MacDonald
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 2004 18:00:25 -0800 (PST)
Subject: From the Million Worker March: Forging the Fightback



December 2, 2004 (SF, CA) - The Million Worker March
Movement emerged from a historic summons to working people
by ILWU Local 10, calling upon the rank and file of the
labor movement, organized and unorganized, to mobilize in
our own name and to challenge the passivity of the AFL-CIO
leadership in the face of unrestrained class warfare waged
by the captains of capital against the mass of our people.

Working people need to have a political expression of our
own which is an alternative to the U.S. corporate sector
that both the Democrats and the Republicans represent. The
timing of the March on Washington was to prepare the
beginning of a fight-back precisely because the two
political parties, acting as one, were confining political
discourse to the corporate agenda of permanent war,
destruction of all social services, and a relentless assault
upon the union movement itself.

It was clear to us that the crisis in a labor movement whose
numbers had dwindled to under 12% of the work force in
America, was linked directly to the business unionism that
has done everything possible to stifle rank and file
leadership. It is reflected in the wholesale concessionary
bargaining that has produced setback after setback and led
to the dismantling of the trade union movement. Pension
funds go belly-up, workers' rights are eroded and, while all
this unfolds, dependence upon the Democratic Party deepens
- -- a Party whose funding, personnel, track record and
program are at the very center of the assault upon our

Behind a façade of two parties, the captains of industry
call the political shots while labor has been put in the
position of providing cover for undisguised attacks upon
working people.

Here is a political party and a candidate who supported the
war in Iraq and attacked the Republican administration from
the right for "hesitating" to carry out a Guernica-like
genocide in Fallujah. Here was a party whose leadership
called for increasing the military budget by nearly $800
billion, adding 40,000 troops in Iraq, attacking Iran
preemptively, cutting social services and reducing the
federal deficit by slashing two million public sector jobs.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, John Kerry stated that
his administration would not only protect business but
contain any challenge to its rule. He stated that the
election was about "a change in CEO," adding: "election day
will be a national shareholders' meeting."

John Kerry and the Democratic Party were unabashed in
parading Kerry's key policy- makers before Wall Street and
the financial media. His economic policy maker was Warren
Buffett, the right-wing Republican billionaire who performed
the same function for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. His
economic team included Lee Iacocca of Chrysler bail-out
fame, David Bonderman of the Texas Pacific Group, who
bankrupted Continental and American West airlines,
destroying union jobs, while profiteering; Bank of America
chairman, Charles Gifford, August A. Busch IV, President of
Anheuser-Busch, and Peter Chernin, administrative director
of the far-right Rupert Murdoch News, Corporation -- all
registered Republicans and key financiers of the 2000
Presidential campaign of George W. Bush.

John Kerry's key foreign policy-makers featured Rand Beers,
who took over FEMA from Oliver North under Ronald Reagan and
served on the National Security Council for George H. W.
Bush and George W. Bush and William Perry of the Carlyle
Group -- the 14 billion dollar arms conglomerate run by a
"Who's Who" of the Republican Party.

In handing over union funds of well over $100 million to the
Democratic Party, labor was put in the position of funding a
political campaign waged on behalf of corporate capital,

Who was to speak for working people? The Million Worker
March undertook to place front and forward the crisis facing
working people and the failure of the political parties to
address it. We spelled out a working peoples' agenda and
looked to the rank and file to mobilize in their own name.

The timeliness of the March was related to the absence of
choice at a time of election. We said that the real election
was the decision of union locals across the country to
advance our needs and to call for action concerning
universal health care, affordable housing, an end to
profiteering and the hegemony of the merchants of death with
their program of perpetual war.

John Sweeney and the AFL-CIO leadership sought to discourage
union endorsements of the March. They called upon unions and
labor council to cut off funds. They asserted that the
defeat of George Bush took precedence over a national worker
mobilization that would address the crisis facing labor.

As endorsements by major trade unions grew and the Million
Worker March built regional committees across the country,
the AFL-CIO leadership issued statements in which they
professed to support the aims of the March while objecting
to its timing.

Unfortunately, these public statements were accompanied by
stepped up efforts behind the scenes to prevent locals from
organizing buses and sending supporters of the March to
other locations.

We asked then as we assert now: Who spoke for the needs of
working Americans at a time of this election -- the
Democratic Party with its corporate agenda or the Million
Worker March movement with our demands for universal health
care, slashing the military budget, affordable housing for
all, a crash program to save our public schools, the
reconstruction of our decaying cities and a halt to the mad
race to the sweat-shop bottom that pit workers against each
other across the world?

The Million Worker Movement understood the pressures upon
people in the movement for social justice to "dump Bush" and
we reached out to all, regardless of their expectations from
the elections, to stand up for our needs, to voice our
demands and to prepare the terrain within rank and file
labor and the community for an ongoing movement for
fundamental change in America.

We know that many in USLAW supported the March and we were
gratified that Gene Bruskin spoke at the Lincoln Memorial,
even though a formal endorsement by USLAW, despite support
for it, did not occur. We regretted this at the time, but,
today,, as Fallujah is devastated and a relentless war of
subjugation is unleashed in Iraq, the applause of the
leadership of the Democratic Party and deafening silence of
the leadership of the AFL-CIO speak to us with no less
compelling urgency.

A hallmark of the Million Worker Movement has been the clear
emergence of Black working class leadership -- through ILWU
Local 10, The teamsters National Black Caucus, District
Council 1707 of AFSCME, the Transport Workers Union in New
York -- in conjunction with union activists in every sector
of the labor movement, the immigrant rights movement and
broad sectors of the anti-war movement, notably in the
International Action Center and ANSWER.

Even as the Million Worker March on October 17 was a
reflection of the real composition of rank and file working
people in America -- both in terms of rank and file activism
and the involvement of the most exploited sectors of the
work force -- the March was called to provide a vehicle for
real change and to end our political dependence upon our

Today, working people face even greater assaults. Every
indicator of the U.S. economy reveals the crisis in which
the system of private ownership of the means of production
now finds itself. The deficit financing required to sustain
imperial reach is matched by the instability of the dollar
as corporate and banking capital siphon off trillions of
dollars in profit.

The international nature of corporate rule and the
exploitation it imposes upon working people is manifested
most clearly by the outsourcing of jobs to the sweatshops of
the world. To pit workers against each other in this way
requires breaking the will of working people in every
country and, above all, to prevent a unified workers'
fight-back across national frontiers.

That is the significance of the presence at the Lincoln
Memorial of representatives and messages of support from
international trade union federations representing 47.7
million organized workers.

The Million Worker March movement is not centered in the
United States alone. It can be found in the Railway Workers
of Japan who battle privatization. It is present in the
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions as it prepares a
General Strike against the corporate attempt to end
full-time employment. It is manifested in the support from
the trade union federations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Venezuela, Brazil, Philippines and Spain .

When Dora Chiba, the Japanese Railway Workers Union,
organized demonstrations against privatization and union-
busting in Tokyo, the Million Worker March was there. We
joined a delegation to the Tokyo offices of the company that
owned the hotels locking out hotel workers in the U.S..

The Million Worker March followed up in San Francisco.
Together with the San Francisco Labor Council and Hotel
Workers Local 2, we co-sponsored a unity rally on November
20 and led rank and file members of unions across the Bay
Area to join the picket lines at five major hotels.

The lock-out was ended that day -- a strong indication that
a unified struggle of working people -- nationally and
internationally -- is the way to win strikes, beat back
scabs and regain the offensive for working people.

The international fightback initiated by the Million Worker
March Movement takes note of the weakness of the U.S..
dollar that occurs at a moment when the U.S. Government
Accountability Office has calculated a "fiscal gap" -- the
amount necessary to pay off U.S. indebtedness -- at $72
trillion. Much of the debt paper is held by overseas
investors whose incentive to remain in dollar holdings
diminishes daily.

The one percent of the population that now owns more than
the combined wealth of 95% of the population is compelled to
intensify drastically the exploitation of our labor in order
to sustain what is increasingly shown to be precarious rule.

Andrew Stern and the leadership of SEIU have called for
organizational changes within the structure of the AFL-CIO
to address the malaise afflicting the labor movement in
America. Clearly, labor is in urgent need of a new strategy
and a vision that can galvanize working people.

The Million Worker March movement poses the necessity for
labor to answer the crisis facing working people in America
through a declaration of political independence. If working
people are to confront and to redress a system in terminal
decay, we shall need to build a political vehicle and party
that fights for our program and is answerable at every level
to the rank and file, whose expression it must be.

Never has there been a more opportune moment for rank and
file working people to forge a mass movement for fundamental
change. Rarely has the importance of unity in struggle been
more compelling along an axis of class independence.

We need unity in action based upon the mobilization of the
rank and file. We have the opportunity to wage this struggle
not only in the United States but in conjunction with the
ongoing fight-back of labor in many countries.

Now is the time for the Million Worker Movement, U.S. Labor
Against the War, the Labor Party, and organizations
committed to a rank and file fightback to act in unison.

We call for organized discussion to prepare joint action
against the war in Iraq and the policies of permanent war.

We urge the opening of discussions with ANSWER, the
International Action Center, Veterans for Peace, Iraqi
Veterans Against the War, and Gulf War Veterans for common
action on March 19 in New York around a unified call for an
immediate end to the war in Iraq and withdrawal of all
occupation forces.

We call upon U.S. Labor Against the War, the Labor Party,
Black Workers For Justice to join the Million Worker March
Movement in reclaiming May Day as the day of the
international workers' movement and to call an international
action around the list of demands set forth by the Million
Worker March.

In forging a unified rank and file movement to resist the
wars of subjugation of U.S. rulers we defend the working
class at home and abroad. In acting together for independent
political action, we can emancipate working people from the
deadly embrace of a leadership that has abandoned the
struggle and forge a political expression of our own.

In identifying the class nature of the oppression afflicting
us, we can prepare the way for a workers' agenda for the
transformation of our society and for the democratic control
by the working class of the levers of governance in every

- ----- End forwarded message -----

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6) Lessons Of The November 2004 Elections
& Perpectives For The Future
Sunday December 12, 2004 7:00 PM
522 Valencia St./16th St. San Francisco
Donation Requested $3.00

What are the lessons of the election
and how do we go forward today. These
are the issues that will be addressed
at this discussion. The trade unions
which spent hundreds of millions
of dollars to support Kerry are now left
with nothing to show for it and Bush
is intent on pushing privatizaton,
more repression and expanding
the wars in the Middle East.
What should working people do
to challenge these policies and how can the
Million Worker March movement
be used as a vehicle to build an independent
working class movement.
Join us in this important debate.

Sponsored by
Peace And Freedom Labor Committee
Steve Zeltzer For Supervisor Campaign Committee

Steve Zeltzer, Candidate For SF Board Of Supervisors District 9
Tom Lacey, North State Chair Peace & Freedom
Party Central Committee

For further information contact (415)695-1369 (415)647-3868


7) In this message:
· Weekly ANSWER Activist Meeting
· Shutdown the PG Hunters Point Power Plant
· ANSWER Film Series: “North Korea: Beyond the DMZ”
For more information on the following events, call 415-821-6545.

Tues. Dec. 7, 7pm
2489 Mission St. Room 30
San Francisco

Join us for a political update and a reportback from a recent Zapatista
support delegation to Chiapas. Also, Maurice Campbell from the
Community First Coalition will give an update on the struggle to
close the PG plants that are polluting the Bayview-Hunters Point
and Potrero communities and plans for an action to shutdown the
HP plant. Get involved in mobilizing for the January 20 Counter-
Inaugural Demonstration.

Wed. Dec. 8, 12noon
Gather at the front gate, Evans and Middlepoint Rd., Bayview
Hunters Point, SF

Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell announced on Nov. 8
that a deal had been made to close the PG Hunters Point Potrero
plants. In fact, there is no deal, and there is no set date for the plant
closures. Fight the ongoing environmental racism that has created
some of the highest asthma rates in the country.

Join residents and community groups in their demand for the
immediate closure of this polluting and unnecessary fossil
fuel power plant.

Sponsored by Green Action for Health and Environmental
Justice, Huntersview Tenants Association, All Hollows
Garden Residents Association, and the Community First Coalition.

Thurs. Dec. 9, 7:30pm
ATA 992 Valencia St. at 21st, San Francisco
$5 donation

With a report and discussion of the Bush administrationÂ’s
threats against North Korea.

“Axis of evil?" While this tiny state on the divided Korean peninsula
is continually demonized in America, few have any first hand
knowledge of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. What
is it like on the other side of the 38th parallel? How do Koreans
in the north view this past decade – the fall of Soviet communism,
natural disasters that brought famine and power shortages, and
a continued, dangerously hostile relationship with the U.S.? What
are the concerns of the Korean American community – many of
whom have family in the north? This new documentary follows
a young Korean American woman to see her relatives, and through
unique footage of life in the D.P.R.K. and interviews with ordinary
people and scholars, opens a window into this nation and its
people. 2003, 56min.

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8) Smoking While Iraq Burns
Its idolisation of 'the face of Falluja' shows how numb the
US is to everyone's pain but its own
Naomi Klein
The Guardian
Friday November 26, 2004,5673,1360284,00.html

Iconic images inspire love and hate, and so it is with the photograph
of James Blake Miller, the 20-year-old marine from Appalachia, who
has been christened "the face of Falluja" by pro-war pundits, and the
"the Marlboro man" by pretty much everyone else. Reprinted in more
than a hundred newspapers, the Los Angeles Times photograph
shows Miller "after more than 12 hours of nearly non-stop, deadly
combat" in Falluja, his face coated in war paint, a bloody scratch
on his nose, and a freshly lit cigarette hanging from his lips.

Gazing lovingly at Miller, the CBS News anchor Dan Rather informed
his viewers: "For me, this one's personal. This is a warrior with his
eyes on the far horizon, scanning for danger. See it. Study it. Absorb
it. Think about it. Then take a deep breath of pride. And if your eyes
don't dampen, you're a better man or woman than I."

A few days later, the LA Times declared that its photo had "moved
into the realm of the iconic". In truth, the image just feels iconic
because it is so laughably derivative: it's a straight-up rip-off of the
most powerful icon in American advertising (the Marlboro man),
which in turn imitated the brightest star ever created by Hollywood
- John Wayne - who was himself channelling America's most powerful
founding myth, the cowboy on the rugged frontier. It's like a song
you feel you've heard a thousand times before - because you have.

But never mind that. For a country that just elected a wannabe
Marlboro man as its president, Miller is an icon and, as if to prove
it, he has ignited his very own controversy. "Lots of children,
particularly boys, play army, and like to imitate this young man.
The clear message of the photo is that the way to relax after
a battle is with a cigarette," wrote Daniel Maloney in a scolding
letter to the Houston Chronicle. Linda Ortman made the same
point to the editors of the Dallas Morning News: "Are there no
photos of non-smoking soldiers?" A reader of the New York Post
helpfully suggested more politically correct propaganda imagery:
"Maybe showing a marine in a tank, helping another GI or drinking
water would have a more positive impact on your readers."

Yes, that's right: letter writers from across the nation are united
in their outrage - not that the steely-eyed, smoking soldier makes
mass killing look cool, but that the laudable act of mass killing
makes the grave crime of smoking look cool. Better to protect
impressionable youngsters by showing soldiers taking a break
from deadly combat by drinking water or, perhaps, since there
is a severe potable water shortage in Iraq, Coke. (It reminds me
of the joke about the Hassidic rabbi who says all sexual positions
are acceptable except for one: standing up "because that could
lead to dancing".)

On second thoughts, perhaps Miller does deserve to be elevated
to the status of icon - not of the war in Iraq, but of the new era of
supercharged American impunity. Because outside US borders, it is,
of course, a different marine who has been awarded the prize as
"the face of Falluja": the soldier captured on tape executing
a wounded, unarmed prisoner in a mosque. Runners-up are
a photograph of a two-year-old Fallujan in a hospital bed with
one of his tiny legs blown off; a dead child lying in the street,
clutching the headless body of an adult; and an emergency
health clinic blasted to rubble.

Inside the US, these snapshots of a lawless occupation appeared
only briefly, if they appeared at all. Yet Miller's icon status has
endured, kept alive with human interest stories about fans
sending cartons of Marlboros to Falluja, interviews with the
marine's proud mother, and earnest discussions about whether
smoking might reduce Miller's effectiveness as a fighting machine.

Impunity - the perception of being outside the law - has long
been the hallmark of the Bush regime. What is alarming is that
it appears to have deepened since the election, ushering in what
can only be described as an orgy of impunity. In Iraq, US forces
and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal
attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone -
doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies.
At home, impunity has been made official policy with Bush's
appointment of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, the
man who personally advised the president in his infamous
"torture memo" that the Geneva conventions are "obsolete".

This kind of defiance cannot simply be explained by Bush's
win. There has to be something in how he won, in how the
election was fought, that gave this administration the distinct
impression that it had been handed a get-out-of-the-Geneva-
conventions free card. That's because the administration was
handed precisely such a gift - by John Kerry.

In the name of electability, the Kerry team gave Bush five
months on the campaign trail without ever facing serious
questions about violations of international law. Fearing that
he would be seen as soft on terror and disloyal to US troops,
Kerry stayed scandalously silent about Abu Ghraib and
Guantánamo Bay. When it became painfully clear that fury
would rain down on Falluja as soon as the polls closed, Kerry
never spoke out against the plan, or against the other illegal
bombings of civilian areas that took place throughout the
campaign. When the Lancet published its landmark study
estimating that 100,000 Iraqis had died as result of the invasion
and occupation, Kerry just repeated his outrageous (and frankly
racist) claim that Americans "are 90% of the casualties in Iraq".

There was a message sent by all of this silence, and the message
was that these deaths don't count. By buying the highly
questionable logic that Americans are incapable of caring
about anyone's lives but their own, the Kerry campaign and
its supporters became complicit in the dehumanisation of Iraqis,
reinforcing the idea that some lives are expendable, insufficiently
important to risk losing votes over. And it is this morally bankrupt
logic, more than the election of any single candidate, that allows
these crimes to continue unchecked.

The real-world result of all the "strategic" thinking is the worst of
both worlds: it didn't get Kerry elected and it sent a clear message
to the people who were elected that they will pay no political price
for committing war crimes. And this is Kerry's true gift to Bush: not
just the presidency, but impunity. You can see it perhaps best of all
in the Marlboro man in Falluja, and the surreal debates that swirl
around him. Genuine impunity breeds a kind of delusional decadence,
and this is its face: a nation bickering about smoking while Iraq burns.

·A version of this column was first published in The Nation
Guardian Unlimited (c) Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004


9) Ugly the War: Iraq Watch Specials
From Peace No War Network
December 3, 2004
Navy probes new Iraq prisoner photos: AP
China Daily (China)
Updated: 2004-12-04 09:16

The US military has launched a criminal investigation into photographs
that appear to show Navy SEALs in Iraq sitting on hooded and
handcuffed detainees, and photos of what appear to be bloodied
prisoners, one with a gun to his head.

A photo found posted on a commercial photo-sharing Web site
operated by a woman who said her husband brought the photos
from Iraq after his tour of duty appears to show prisoners in the
back of a truck with a foot atop one of the detainees. The Navy
SEALs have launched a criminal investigation into photographs
that appear to show commandos in Iraq sitting on hooded and
handcuffed detainees, and photos of what appear to be bloodied
prisoners, one with a gun to his head. [AP]

Some of the photos have date stamps suggesting they were taken
in May 2003, which could make them the earliest evidence of
possible abuse of prisoners in Iraq. The far more brutal practices
photographed in Abu Ghraib prison occurred months later.

An Associated Press reporter found more than 40 of the pictures
among hundreds in an album posted on a commercial photo-
sharing Web site by a woman who said her husband brought
them from Iraq after his tour of duty. It is unclear who took the
pictures, which the Navy said it was investigating after the AP
furnished copies to get comment for this story.

Photos that appear to show commandos in Iraq sitting on hooded
and handcuffed detainees are seen on a commercial photo-sharing
Web site operated by a woman who said her husband brought the
photos from Iraq after his tour of duty. The Navy SEALs have
launched a criminal investigation into the photographs. Date stamps
on some photos suggest they were made in May 2003, which could
make them the earliest evidence of possible abuse of prisoners
in Iraq. [AP]

These and other photos found by the AP appear to show the immediate
aftermath of raids on civilian homes. One man is lying on his back
with a boot on his chest. A mug shot shows a man with an automatic
weapon pointed at his head and a gloved thumb jabbed into his
throat. In many photos, faces have been blacked out. What appears
to be blood drips from the heads of some. A family huddles in
a room in one photo and others show debris and upturned furniture.

"These photographs raise a number of important questions
regarding the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) and detainees,"
Navy Cmdr. Jeff Bender, a spokesman for the Naval Special Warfare
Command in Coronado, said in a written response to questions.
"I can assure you that the matter will be thoroughly investigated."

The photos were turned over to the Naval Criminal Investigative
Service, which instructed the SEAL command to determine whether
they show any serious crimes, Bender said Friday. That investigation
will determine the identities of the troops and what they were doing
in the photos.

Some of the photos recall aspects of the images from Abu Ghraib,
which led to charges against seven soldiers accused of humiliating
and assaulting prisoners. In several of the photos obtained by the
AP, grinning men wearing U.S. flags on their uniforms, and one
with a tattoo of a SEAL trident, take turns sitting or lying atop
what appear to be three hooded and handcuffed men in the
bed of a pickup truck.

A reporter found the photos, which since have since been removed
from public view, while researching the prosecution of a group
of SEALs who allegedly beat prisoners and photographed one of
them in degrading positions. Those photos, taken with a SEAL's
personal camera, haven't been publicly released.

Though they have alarmed SEAL commanders, the photographs
found by the AP do not necessarily show anything illegal, according
to experts in the laws of war who reviewed photos at AP's request.

Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who
teaches at the United States Military Academy, said the images
showed "stupid" and "juvenile" behavior - but not necessarily
a crime.

John Hutson, a retired rear admiral who served as the Navy's Judge
Advocate General from 1997 to 2000, said they suggested possible
Geneva Convention violations. Those international laws prohibit
souvenir photos of prisoners of war.

"It's pretty obvious that these pictures were taken largely as war
trophies," Hutson said. "Once you start allowing that kind of behavior,
the next step is to start posing the POWs in order to get even better

At a minimum, the pictures violate Navy regulations that prohibit
photographing prisoners other than for intelligence or administrative
purposes, according to Bender, the SEALs spokesman.

All Naval Special Warfare personnel were told that prior to
deployment, he said, but "it is obvious from some of the photographs
that this policy was not adhered to."

The images were posted to the Internet site The
woman who posted them told the AP they were on the camera her
husband brought back from Iraq. She said her husband has returned
to Iraq. He does not appear in photos with prisoners.

The Navy goes to great lengths to protect the identities and
whereabouts of its 2,400 SEALs - which stands for Navy Sea, Air,
Land - many of whom have classified counterterrorist missions
around the globe.

"Some of these photos clearly depict faces and names of Naval
Special Warfare personnel, which could put them or their families
at risk," Bender said.

Out of safety concerns, the AP is not identifying the woman who
posted the photos.

The wife said she was upset that a reporter was able to view the
album, which includes family snapshots. Hundreds of other photos
depict everyday military life in Iraq, some showing commandos
standing around piles of weapons and waving wads of cash.

The images were found through the online search engine Google.
The same search today leads to the Web page, which
now prompts the user for a password. Nine scenes from the SEAL
camp remain in Google's archived version of the page.

"I think it's fair to assume that it would be very hard for most
consumers to know all the ways the search engines can discover
Web pages," said Smugmug spokesman Chris MacAskill.

Before the site was password protected, the AP purchased reprints
for 29 cents each.

Some men in the photos wear patches that identify them as members
of Seal Team Five, based in Coronado, and the unit's V-shaped insignia
decorates a July Fourth celebration cake.

The photos surfaced amid a case of prisoner abuse involving
members of another SEAL team also stationed at Coronado,
a city near San Diego.

Navy prosecutors have charged several members of SEAL Team
Seven with abusing a suspect in the bombing a Red Cross facility.
According to charge sheets and testimony during a military hearing
last month, SEALs posed in the back of a Humvee for photos that
allegedly humiliated Manadel al-Jamadi, who died hours later
at Abu Ghraib.

Testimony from that case suggest personal cameras became
increasingly common on some SEAL missions last year.

Photos of U.S. Military Torture in Abu Ghraib Prison

For more photos and Videos from Iraq, visit:
"Report from Baghdad" July, 2003

Peace, No War
War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate
Not in our Name! And another world is possible!
Information for antiwar movements, news across the World, please visit:
Please Join PeaceNoWar Listserv, send e-mail to:

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**"Report From Baghdad" CD-ROM**
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003 trip to U.S. occupied Iraq. An interactive CD-ROM with
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of Iraq, U.S. military, human rights workers, religious leaders
and more!

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10) Suicide Bomber Kills 8 Iraqi Police Officers
December 5, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 4 - A suicide bomber rammed a minibus packed
with explosives into a police station near Baghdad's protected Green
Zone on Saturday morning, killing 8 officers and wounding 38 in the
second major assault on Iraq's beleaguered security forces in two days.

The attack came as insurgents in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad,
the capital, attacked a police station with machine guns, wounding two
officers before American soldiers arrived to help fight them off, military
officials said.

The assaults, one day after at least 27 Iraqis and 22 insurgents were
killed in attacks in Baghdad and Mosul, demonstrated the insurgents'
renewed focus on crippling and intimidating the Iraqi security forces,
who are set to inherit responsibility for the country's security as the
January elections approach.

Violence continued elsewhere. Near Baquba, a roadside bomb
exploded Saturday morning as an American patrol passed, killing
one soldier, wounding another and badly damaging their vehicle,
military officials said.

In western Iraq along the Jordanian border, a suicide car bomb rammed
an American military base on Friday afternoon, killing two coalition
soldiers and wounding five, military officials in Baghdad said Saturday.
The officials did not provide the nationality of the dead and wounded
or any other details about the incident.

In Mosul, American troops engaged insurgents who were armed with
AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades Saturday morning, and
a car full of insurgents threw grenades at the main American military
base before speeding away.

No one was hurt in that attack on the base, but military officials said
an Iraqi driver was killed in an accident with the insurgents' car as
they drove away.

On the west side of the Mosul, where military officials say close to
100 insurgents staged coordinated grenade, mortar and bomb
attacks against American patrols on Friday, there was sporadic
violence, with some patrols taking sniper fire from insurgents.

In Baghdad, the suicide bomb exploded at 9:30 a.m., with a blast
so powerful it sheared the facade off the Salhiya police station and
caused the roof to collapse. Thick black smoke poured up from the
station, just north of the main entrance to the Green Zone, the
heavily protected compound that houses foreign embassies and
Iraq's interim government. Other government buildings, including
the Foreign Ministry and the Housing Ministry, are just steps from
the police station.

The blast struck as about 30 officers were gathering near the
front gate for roll call, officers said.

Husam Nagim, an officer who was standing nearby at the time,
said the bomber, a young man, drove a Kia minivan up to the
gate and accelerated through the protective wires before anyone
could stop him.

The bomber was smiling as he drove through the wires, Mr. Nagim
said, as he lay covered by a bloody blanket on a cot at Yarmouk
Hospital two hours later, an IV in his right arm and his mother
and brother standing next to him.

"We shouted to our colleagues but he was faster," Mr. Nagim said,
his voice choked with sobs.

Afterward, mangled and charred bodies lay scattered on the
ground, Mr. Nagim recalled. American and Iraqi troops quickly
cordoned off the area around the station, which was choked
with traffic.

On Friday, just after dawn, militants had struck another police
station in Baghdad, firing mortars, machine guns and rocket-
propelled grenades. After the officers inside ran out of ammunition,
the attackers stormed the police compound, freeing 50 prisoners
and following six fleeing officers to the roof, where they shot and
killed them all.

The attacks in Baghdad, Mosul and Samarra were the latest in
a growing wave of violence aimed at the country's police officers,
soldiers and national guardsmen. Last week, 12 officers were
killed in western Iraq when a suicide bomber struck a police
station there.

In Mosul, at least 90 bodies have been found over the past two
weeks, many of them Iraqi police officers and national guardsmen
murdered and mutilated by insurgents. Most of that city's 5,000-
member police force and large parts of several national guard
battalions deserted their posts during insurgent attacks last month.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks
on Saturday. But the network of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi claimed credit for the attack on the Baghdad police
station on Friday, as well as for other attacks in Mosul last week
that left 17 Iraqi national guardsmen and an American soldier dead.

Such claims are impossible to verify. But the continued vigor of
the resistance has made it clear that the American-led offensive
in Falluja last month, for all its success in killing militants there,
has not crippled the rebels' ability to mount coordinated and deadly
strikes throughout the country.

A number of prominent Sunni Arab politicians have cited the attacks
as a reason to delay the national and provincial elections scheduled
for Jan. 30, the first scheduled since the fall of Saddam Hussein. But
leaders of Iraq's majority Shiites insist that the elections take place
as scheduled, and on Thursday, President Bush firmly reiterated the
American position that the elections should not be postponed.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that it would increase
troop strength by 12,000 in Iraq by next month, to a total of
about 150,000, mainly to improve security before the elections.
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., a Delaware Democrat who visited here
with other senators over the past week and met with senior
American commanders, said his visit had confirmed his belief
that the increase was long overdue.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from Mosul for this
article, and Khalid al-Ansary from Baghdad.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times


11) Introducing a new Policy Report from Foreign Policy In Focus
The Landmine Web
By Colonel Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.)
Peace and Justice News from FPIF

December 3, 2004

With the double whammy of the four-day Thanksgiving weekend and
the start of the Christmas shopping crush, little wonder that most
people missed another very important November date: the five-year
review conference on the treaty banning anti-personnel landmines
(also known as the Ottawa Convention) that opened November 28
in Nairobi, Kenya.

As of the conferenceÂ’s opening, 144 countries had ratified the treaty
(Ethiopia being the latest), eight more had signed but not ratified,
and 42 had refused to sign. The latter two groups present interesting
country “clusters” that revolve around three major powers: China,
Russia, and the United States. And while these three are either at war
or in strained relationships, the other 47 non-ratifiers are not all
similarly encumbered. Yes, a few could be categorized as international
but many of the Pacific Island nations among these 47 are more in
danger from rising ocean levels than from the threat of invasion that
might tempt them to employ landmines.

It may seem a function of size and geography that most of those that
have not signed border on and thereby fall within the sphere of
influence of China and Russia. But in the broader view recent history,
there looms the unmistakable presence of an eminence grise - like
the unseen quasar in a dual star system - that exerts great power:
the United States.

Dan Smith is a military affairs analyst for Foreign Policy
n Focus (online at, a retired U.S. army colonel
and a senior fellow on Military Affairs at the Friends Committee on
National Legislation.

See new FPIF Policy Report online at:

With printer friendly PDF version at:

For related analysis from Foreign Policy In Focus:
Iraq and the U.S. Legacy
By Colonel Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.) (November 26, 2004)

Intelligent Intelligence Reform
By Colonel Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.) (November 26, 2004 )

Being “Over There:” Location, Location, Location
By Colonel Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.) (November 11, 2004)

Produced and distributed by FPIF:“A Think Tank Without Walls,” a
joint program of Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC) and Institute
for Policy Studies (IPS).

For more information, visit .
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12) Experts Fear Medicare Won't Work for Nursing Home Patients
December 5, 2004

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 - A wide range of experts on long-term care
express serious concern that the new Medicare law will be
unworkable for most of the 1.5 million Americans who live
in nursing homes.

Nursing home residents take large numbers of prescription drugs,
an average of eight a day. But many have physical disabilities and
brain disorders that impair their memory and judgment. So they
cannot easily shop around for insurance plans to find the best
bargains on their drugs, as other Medicare beneficiaries are
supposed to do.

Federal and state officials, pharmacists and nursing home directors
said they had no idea how these patients would obtain their medicines
under the new program, which begins in January 2006.

"Nobody knows where they're going to get their drugs from," said
Stanton G. Ades, senior vice president of NeighborCare, a company
in Baltimore that supplies drugs to more than 1,500 nursing homes
and assisted living centers in 32 states. The role of such long-term
care pharmacies under the new law is unclear.

One of the homes served by NeighborCare is at Asbury Methodist
Village in Gaithersburg, Md. NeighborCare delivers drugs to the
home two to five times a day. The drugs for 20 patients are kept
in a medication cart with six drawers.

A month's supply of each drug prescribed for each patient is kept
in a separate little box labeled with the patient's name. The cart
has 165 boxes, indicating an average of about eight prescriptions
for each resident. Since each prescription may call for 2 or 3 pills
a day, a patient may be taking 20 to 30 pills a day.

The nurses keep detailed logs that show every pill given to every
patient. NeighborCare, which supplies drugs for all 250 patients
in the home, continually reviews those records to ensure that
patients are taking the right drugs in the proper doses.

By contrast, the new law relies on private health plans to provide
drug benefits to the elderly. Each Medicare beneficiary will have
a choice of two or more government-subsidized plans. Each plan
can establish its own list of approved drugs, known as a formulary,
and its own network of retail pharmacies.

Premiums, generally expected to average $35 a month, can vary
from plan to plan. The premise of the law is that Medicare
beneficiaries will carefully compare these plans and enroll
in the ones that best meet their needs.

Aetna, for example, might offer a Medicare drug plan, dispensing
medications at discounted prices through retail pharmacies
around the country. But the network would not necessarily
include NeighborCare, the supplier at Asbury Village.

Bush administration officials said they were seeking ways to meet
the special needs of nursing home residents and recognized the
value of long-term care pharmacies. Dr. Mark B. McClellan,
administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
said the administration would insure that beneficiaries had access
to "all medically necessary drugs." Moreover, he said drug plans
cannot "discriminate against any particular type of beneficiaries."
In a preamble to the proposed Medicare rules, the government
said access to such pharmacies "should be preserved," but did
not say how.

Experts on long-term care foresee a number of problems.

"The way it's supposed to work under the new law is totally
confusing," said Joan E. DaVanzo, vice president of the Lewin
Group, which recently received a federal contract to study
pharmacy services in nursing homes. "The mandates of the
law run contrary to the practice of the industry. The law presumes
that Medicare beneficiaries are sophisticated elderly people living
en the community and using retail drugstores."

In fact, more than one-third of nursing home residents have
Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, so they cannot
easily compare the costs and benefits of different plans. At least
one-fifth of nursing home patients have difficulty swallowing.
Many receive medications and nutrition through feeding tubes,
so they require drugs in a liquid or crushable form.

Nursing homes can offer information about the new benefit. But
Ann R. Schiff, administrator of the home at Asbury Village, said
they would not counsel patients or recommend specific prescription
drug plans, in part because nursing home employees themselves
might not fully understand the intricacies of the new benefit.

Barbara B. Manard, vice president of the American Association of
Homes and Services for the Aging, which represents 4,000
nonprofit nursing homes, said: "We can hand out brochures.
We can invite speakers to come in. But we don't have the
competence to advise people on choosing an insurance plan.
That's not really our role."

About 1.5 million people live in nursing homes at any given time,
and 3.5 million spend some time in a home in the course of a year.

"We don't have a clue how the system is supposed to work under
the new law," said Laurence F. Lane, vice president of Genesis
HealthCare, which operates 192 nursing homes in 12 states.
"We don't know what will happen on Jan. 1, 2006."

The new Medicare benefit, as envisioned by Congress, will be
delivered by insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers
like Medco Health Solutions and Express Scripts, through drug stores
like Walgreens and CVS. But the typical retail drugstore or pharmacy
benefit manager has little experience with nursing home residents.

Medco manages drug benefits for 60 million people of all ages. In
an interview, its president, David B. Snow Jr., said none of them were
in nursing homes.

Walgreens operates 4,623 drugstores in 44 states, but a spokesman,
Michael Polzin, said it had no program to supply drugs to nursing homes.

Pharmacists express dismay at the prospect that nursing home
patients will be in different drug plans covering different medicines.

"If nursing homes have to deal with multiple formularies from
multiple prescription drug plans, that will result in chaos and an
increased potential for medication errors," said Thomas R. Clark,
policy director for the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists,
whose 7,000 members specialize in drug care for the elderly.

Two-thirds of nursing residents are on Medicaid, the federal-state
health insurance program for low-income people. Under the new law,
Medicaid coverage of prescription drugs ends on Jan. 1, 2006, when
Medicare drug benefits become available.

Mr. Clark and other experts said the range of drugs covered by
Medicare drug plans would, in most cases, be more limited than
what is available under Medicaid in most states. In any event, the
drugs will be different from those now covered.

Thus, the experts said, doctors will need to write new prescriptions
for hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents, switching
them from the drugs they now take to those approved by Medicare.

Dr. Richard G. Stefanacci, executive director of the Health Policy
Institute at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, said, "If
nursing home residents are faced with restrictive formularies, the
outcomes could be devastating for their health."

Dr. Lynn V. Mitchell, the Oklahoma Medicaid director, said:
"Prescription drug plans will contract with retail pharmacies
to ensure convenient access for Medicare beneficiaries. But
we don't know whether long-term care pharmacies will be
part of those networks."

Claudia Schlosberg, a health care lawyer who used to work at
the Department of Health and Human Services, said: "An entire
industry has developed expertise to meet the pharmaceutical
needs of nursing home residents. We have to find some way to
ensure that it has a role in the new program."

Under the law, Medicare patients may have to pay more when
they use a pharmacy outside the networks of their plans.
"The vast majority of nursing home residents," Ms. Schlosberg
said, "do not have the resources to pay this extra amount."

Long-term-care pharmacies often charge more than community
drugstores because they provide additional services. For example,
they are on call 24 hours a day to make unscheduled deliveries of
urgently needed medications. Without such specialized services,
nursing home executives say, they could not meet stringent
federal health and safety standards, and more patients would have
to be transferred to hospitals for treatment.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times


13) Rulings in Texas Capital Cases Try Supreme Court's Patience
December 5, 2004

In the past year, the Supreme Court has heard three appeals from
inmates on death row in Texas, and in each case the prosecutors
and the lower courts suffered stinging reversals.

In a case to be argued on Monday, the court appears poised to
deliver another rebuke.

Lawyers for a Texas death row inmate, Thomas Miller-El, will appear
before the justices for the second time in two years. To legal experts,
the Supreme Court's decision to hear his case yet again is a sign of
its growing impatience with two of the courts that handle death
penalty cases from Texas: its highest criminal court, the Court of
Criminal Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans.

Perhaps as telling is the exasperated language in decisions this
year from a Supreme Court that includes no categorical opponent
of the death penalty. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in June
that the Fifth Circuit was "paying lip service to principles" of
appellate law in issuing death penalty rulings with "no foundation
in the decisions of this court."

In an unsigned decision in another case last month, the Supreme
Court said the Court of Criminal Appeals "relied on a test we never
countenanced and now have unequivocally rejected." The decision
was made without hearing argument, a move that ordinarily signals
that the error in the decision under review was glaring.

The actions of the two appeals courts that hear capital cases from
Texas help explain why the state leads the nation in executions,
with 336 since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated, more
than the next five states combined.

In the Miller-El case, appellate lawyers and legal scholars are buzzing
over what they say is the insolence of the Fifth Circuit.

In an 8-to-1 decision last year, the Supreme Court instructed the
appeals court to rethink its "dismissive and strained interpretation"
of the proof in the case, and to consider more seriously the
substantial evidence suggesting that prosecutors had systematically
excluded blacks from Mr. Miller-El's jury. Prosecutors used
peremptory strikes to eliminate 10 out of 11 eligible black jurors,
and they twice used a local procedure called a jury shuffle to move
blacks lower on the list of potential jurors, the decision said.
The jury ultimately selected, which had one black member,
convicted Mr. Miller-El, a black man who is now 53, of killing
a clerk at a Holiday Inn in Dallas in 1985.

Instead of considering much of the evidence recited by the
Supreme Court majority, the appeals court engaged in something
akin to plagiarism. In February, it again rejected Mr. Miller-El's
claims, in a decision that reproduced, virtually verbatim and
without attribution, several paragraphs from the sole dissenting
opinion in last year's Supreme Court decision, written by Justice
Clarence Thomas.

"The Fifth Circuit just went out of its way to defy the Supreme
Court on this," said John J. Gibbons, a former chief judge of the
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia,
who joined a brief supporting Mr. Miller-El. "The idea that the
system can tolerate open defiance by an inferior court just
cannot stand."

The Supreme Court agrees to hear only about 80 cases each year.
It seldom accepts cases to correct errors in the lower courts and
concentrates instead on resolving conflicts among appeals courts
and announcing broad legal principles. But in recent years the court
has often found itself fixing problems in specific Texas death penalty
cases. Over the last decade, it has ruled against prosecutors in all
six appeals brought by inmates on death row in Texas.

The cases all involved challenges to the fairness of the procedures
used to convict and sentence the defendants rather than arguments
about their innocence.

The two appeals courts handle an enormous number of capital cases
and grant relief in very few. Between 1995 and 2000, the Court of
Criminal Appeals heard direct appeals in 270 death sentences and
reversed eight times, according to a report by the Texas Defender
Service, a nonprofit law firm that represents death row inmates. The
reversal rate - 3 percent - is the lowest of any state. California, which
has a much larger death row, at 635, has executed only 10 people
since 1976, to Texas's 336.

By contrast, a comprehensive study of almost 6,000 death
sentences across the nation over the 20 years ended in 1995
found a 68 percent chance they would be overturned by a state
or federal court.

The Fifth Circuit also reviews Texas death sentences when inmates
file writs of habeas corpus - challenges to unlawful detentions.
The court has 50 or 60 capital cases pending at any given time,
a spokesman said. But in recent years it has very seldom ruled in
favor of prisoners on death row.

The two courts have been resistant to claims involving withheld
evidence, lies told by prosecutors and problems in jury selection,
as in the Miller-El case. But legal scholars say the most intractable
issue involves unusual instructions that were given to Texas juries
from 1989 to 1991.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that those instructions were
unconstitutional. Yet the two appeals courts continued to uphold
the death sentences that resulted from the instructions. Since 1991,
more than 40 of the people in those cases have been executed,
according to Jordan Steiker, a law professor at the University of Texas.

The state appeals court, which considers only criminal cases, is
made up of elected judges, mostly former prosecutors.

The judges on the federal appeals court come from more varied
professional backgrounds and have life tenure. But legal scholars
say that court, once famous for defending civil rights, is now quite
conservative, is burdened with one of the heaviest federal appellate
dockets in the country and shows mounting hostility to death row
inmates and their lawyers.

David R. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston who
represents death row inmates, said the federal appeals court had
lost its way in capital cases.

"The Fifth Circuit does not understand that it is an inferior tribunal
to the United States Supreme Court, and it acts lawlessly," said
Professor Dow, who was a law clerk to Judge Carolyn Dineen
King of the Fifth Circuit in 1985 and 1986. Referring to the
court's critical role in several historic civil rights cases, he added,
"If it acted this lawlessly in the 1960's, black people and white
people would still be eating at separate lunch counters."

Judge King, who is now the court's chief judge and is widely
considered a political and legal moderate, said Professor Dow's
critique does not apply to all of her court's decisions.

"The only response I would make," she said in an e-mail message,
"is that a broad generalization about the Fifth Circuit's death
penalty decisions indicates to me that the speaker may not have
read all of them. One cannot fairly generalize about those decisions."

Judge Lawrence E. Meyers, a Republican first elected to the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals in 1992 and its longest-serving member,
said, "From my standpoint being on the court, I've seen it go up
and down, from way too liberal to way too far to the right." Now,
he said, "I feel like we've evened it out."

Although he has dissented in some major cases, including
Monday's 5-to-4 vote to deny a stay of execution to a Texas
woman later given a limited reprieve by the governor, Judge
Meyers said there was no intent to defy the Supreme Court.

"We feel the Supreme Court is changing the rules on us in
midstream," he said. "If they feel we're not getting it, it's
because they're not being clear, but that's just a personal view."

Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, a member since 1995 and
a former assistant district attorney in Dallas, did not respond
to several telephone messages.

A Court of Prosecutors

"The Worst Court in Texas" was the ignominious verdict on the
cover of the November issue of Texas Monthly, the state's
glossy bible of style and politics. The target: the Texas Court
of Criminal Appeals.

Texas is an anomaly - the only state with two separate and
completely equal high courts. One, the Texas Supreme Court,
handles only civil cases. The other, the Court of Criminal Appeals,
hears only criminal cases. Each has nine judges who run for
staggered six-year-terms. Only Oklahoma has a similar
bifurcated appeals court system, but its Supreme Court holds
overall administrative responsibility.

The consequence, some experts say, is a Texas criminal appeals
court largely unleavened by general practitioners and the kind of
top legal talent that fills corporate boardrooms. Indeed, seven of
its nine members are former prosecutors who tend to run on
tough-on-crime-platforms and, critics say, embody the court's
anti-defense bent.

"No one runs for the Court of Criminal Appeals on a platform of
vindicating constitutional rights," said Professor Steiker, the
University of Texas law professor.

But Judge Meyers said there was a benefit to specializing. "It
gives us a chance to be more attuned to criminal matters and
the latest rulings," he said.

The system has allowed unprepared candidates to serve on the
court. In 1994 a tax lawyer, Stephen W. Mansfield, won election
despite admitting during the campaign that he had lied about his
legal experience and biography. While a judge, he was arrested
for scalping complimentary college football tickets (he pleaded
no contest to trespassing) and was accused of animal abuse for
locking his dogs in his car while he sat on the bench. He did not
seek re-election in 2000 but ran again in 2002 and lost.

Embarrassed by that debacle, the state now requires candidates
for the court to gather at least 50 signatures from all 14 appellate

In another episode widely perceived as an embarrassment, Roy
Criner, a prison inmate serving 99 years for the rape and murder
of a 16-year-old girl that he insisted he had never committed,
successfully petitioned for a DNA test not available during his
trial. The test determined that the semen in the victim was
not his. A second test produced the same result.

The trial court asked the criminal appeals court to order a new trial,
but with Judge Keller prominently in the majority, it voted 6-3
to let the conviction stand. Gov. George W. Bush, then running
for the White House, granted Mr. Criner clemency. "It's pretty bad
when you have to go to Governor Bush for relief," said James
Marcus, executive director of the Texas Defender Service.

Maintaining that the court was not responding to such bad
publicity, another member of the court, Judge Barbara Hervey,
a former San Antonio prosecutor elected in 2000, has been
instrumental in using a $20 million legislative appropriation,
and seeking additional money, to foster a network of "innocence
clinics" at law schools around the state to investigate credible
claims of wrongful conviction. Though the article in Texas
Monthly stung, she said, "We are in the game of justice."

Robert Dawson, a University of Texas law professor working
with Judge Hervey on the innocence project, said he saw the
court "beginning to float back" to more moderate rulings.
Deducing too much from the recent Supreme Court critiques
would be a mistake, he said. "It's like driving down a road and
seeing two cars a mile apart with flats and concluding that the
tire manufacturing industry is in the toilet."

Capital Cases in Volume

A state court largely made up of former prosecutors might
be expected to be skeptical of the claims of death row inmates.
Why federal judges on the Fifth Circuit might share that attitude
is a bit of a mystery, legal scholars said, noting that the judges
are appointed for life, and are generally distinguished and
independent-minded intellectuals.

One explanation is political. Of the court's 16 judges, only
4 were appointed by Democratic presidents.

"The Fifth Circuit has been anything but a liberal court," said
Arthur D. Hellman, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh
and an expert on the federal courts. "It's probably second only
to the Fourth Circuit," in Richmond, Va., "as a conservative circuit."

"The Fifth Circuit," he added, "seems to be in tune with the
Supreme Court in the broad run of cases."

But not in all cases.

"The one exception," said Eric M. Freedman, a law professor
at Hofstra University, "is in the area of habeas corpus, especially
in death penalty cases. In that area it has been consistently over
the top in inventing rationalizations by which to defend the

"A circuit that 40 years ago was justly famous for implementing
the mandates of the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court respecting
racial fairness," he said, "is now justly notorious for its outright
refusal to apply fundamental principles of due process to the
criminal justice system."

The court, which hears appeals from Texas, Mississippi and
Louisiana, is by some measures the busiest federal appeals court.
Its judges decided an average of 862 cases each in 2003 - more
than three each business day - compared with a national average
of 459.

In a 1992 speech, Judge King, who had not yet become the court's
chief judge, said the "sheer volume" of cases in the Fifth Circuit "has
had an adverse impact on the number of decisions that we can fairly
claim have been fully considered and understood."

"We cannot devote to more than a few cases a year," she continued,
"the time required for a careful review of a record of any length, for
in-depth research and even for prolonged, thoughtful consideration."

In an e-mail message, Judge King said, "The situation has eased
somewhat since 1992 because the volume of complicated civil
appeals is declining." On the other hand, the judges on the court
in 1992 decided 640 cases each year, or some 200 fewer than they
do today, according to the administrative office of the federal courts.

Other courts make essentially all their death penalty decisions
available for formal publication; in recent years, the Fifth Circuit
has published only 18 percent of such decisions. And its decisions
were on average half the length of capital decisions from other
federal appeals courts.

Appellate lawyers who follow the court's death penalty jurisprudence
say the court is overwhelmed by the number of capital cases, which
may cause it to be hostile to the claims of death row inmates. "You
can't do death in volume," said George H. Kendall, a lawyer with
Holland & Knight in New York who represents Delma Banks Jr.,
a Texas death row inmate.

At times the federal appeals court has been unfathomable to its
critics. Last December, for instance, it considered the last-minute
appeal of Billy Frank Vickers, scheduled to die for the killing of
a grocer in 1993. With the inmate already given his last meal, the
judges deliberated until 9 p.m. and announced they were leaving,
with no decision. Bewildered state prison officials allowed the
death warrant to expire, granting Mr. Vickers a delay. He was
executed six weeks later.

In October, a Houston federal judge granted a last-minute stay
to Dominique Green, but the state appealed. The Fifth Circuit
then gave defense lawyers less than half an hour to file their
response, Professor Dow said. A rushed brief was e-mailed to
the court and turned down. The Supreme Court also rejected
a stay, and Mr. Green was executed that night.

Instructing Jurors to Lie

Much of the tension between the Supreme Court and the two
lower courts is rooted in the instructions given to juries in
Texas from 1989 to 1991.

Three Texas death penalty cases heard by the Supreme Court
in the last four years have concerned those instructions.

From 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated, until 1989,
Texas juries were generally asked only two questions at the
sentencing phase of a capital trial: Was the killing deliberate?
Does the defendant pose a danger to others? If the jurors
unanimously answered yes to both, the judge was required
to impose a death sentence.

In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that the Texas procedure
was flawed because it did not allow the jury to consider
mitigating evidence that might cause it to spare the defendant's
life. But the Texas Legislature did not revise the procedure
until 1991.

In the meantime, Texas judges adopted ad hoc instructions that
retained the two questions but also told jurors that they could
falsely answer "no" to one or both questions if they thought the
mitigating evidence was strong enough.

In 2001, the Supreme Court held that instructing a juror to lie was
unconstitutional. "It would have been both logically and ethically
impossible for a juror to follow both sets of instructions," Justice
O'Connor wrote.

But the Fifth Circuit and the Court of Criminal Appeals continued
to uphold death sentences imposed under the unconstitutional
procedure, saying that some juries considering some mitigating
evidence actually could have followed the seemingly inconsistent

Indeed, in 2003 the entire Fifth Circuit reaffirmed that approach
in a case against Mark Robertson, convicted in 1991 of murdering
a store clerk, a friend and the friend's grandmother. He was
sentenced to death for the last killing. Judge Edith H. Jones,
writing for the majority, said the Supreme Court's 2001 decision
was meant to apply only to some cases in which the instructions
had been used.

Two dissenting judges said the court was simply refusing to
follow the instructions of the Supreme Court. "I am amazed,"
wrote one, Judge Harold R. DeMoss Jr., that the majority "would
have the audacity to turn around and reach the same result the
Supreme Court just vacated."

The Supreme Court declined without comment to hear the case
again. The Court of Criminal Appeals then stayed Mr. Robertson's
execution and has not yet ruled on his case.

In June, though, the Supreme Court returned to the subject, in
even more explicit language in the case of Robert Tennard, convicted
of killing a neighbor in Houston in 1985. The Fifth Circuit's approach,
Justice O'Connor wrote in the decision for the 6-to-3 majority, "has
no foundation in the decisions of this court."

Still, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals appeared not to have
heard the message, and the Supreme Court addressed the topic
in another case in November. The criminal appeals court relied on
"precisely the same 'screening test' we held constitutionally
inadequate" in the June decision, the decision said.

In the Miller-El case, too, which will be argued for a second time
on Monday, there is reason to expect a firm response from the court.

Mr. Miller-El, who has been on death row since 1986, contends
that prosecutors violated his constitutional rights by excluding
blacks from his jury.

Writing for the majority in the Supreme Court's 8-to-1 decision
last year, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy discussed evidence that
prosecutors had acted improperly. Among other things, he noted,
prosecutors questioned black potential jurors more aggressively
about their views on the death penalty than they did white jurors.

Only Justice Thomas dissented from the decision, saying that none
of the factors cited by Justice Kennedy "presented anything remotely
resembling clear and convincing evidence of purposeful discrimination."

Mr. Miller-El, Justice Thomas wrote, "ignores the fact that of the
10 whites who expressed opposition to the death penalty, eight
were struck for cause or removed by agreement, meaning no
'manipulative' script was necessary to get them removed."

The Fifth Circuit's decision in February, which ruled against
Mr. Miller-El, echoed that and many other statements in Justice
Thomas's dissent. "Of the 10 non-black" potential jurors "who
expressed opposition to the death penalty," the decision said,
"eight were struck for cause or by agreement, meaning no
'manipulative' script was necessary to get them removed."

Judge DeMoss, the author of the Fifth Circuit decision, declined
to discuss it.

Professor Dow said he was still skeptical that the two appeals
courts would follow the directions of the Supreme Court. "We're
coming up on 25 executions this year," he said. "They get away
with it most of this time. They appear not to be chastened when
they do not get away with it."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times


14) Don't Let Banks Turn Their Backs on the Poor
December 4, 2004

FOR more than 25 years, a little known federal law has helped low-income
communities get the bank loans and services they need to rebuild their
neighborhoods. But that law, the Community Reinvestment Act, is
being threatened by proposals from two federal bank regulators.

Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977 as a
response to the practice of redlining - the refusal by banks to
extend loans or banking services in poor, and predominantly
minority, urban areas. Today, the law is equally important to
distressed rural communities. In low-income areas throughout
the United States, this law - which encourages banks to serve
low-income communities in their markets - has increased
homeownership and small-business growth, enabling the
revitalization of entire communities. Under the act, regulators
consider reinvestment performance when a bank seeks permission
to expand or merge. Since its inception, the law has prompted
banks to channel more than $1 trillion into reinvestment projects
- without requiring a single dollar of Congressional spending.

Now, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, one of four
agencies responsible for enforcing the act, is proposing to
relax enforcement of the law at almost 1,000 banks. The Federal
Office of Thrift Supervision, another overseer of the law, has
already finalized a similar proposal for savings and loans institutions.
These new rules may be the first step in an effort - long pursued
by some in Congress - to dismantle the act, piece by piece.

Under the law now, banks with assets of more than $250 million
undergo full periodic reviews of their lending, services and
investments in low-income communities. At smaller banks,
examiners limit their review to lending practices only.

The F.D.I.C. proposal would raise the asset level for this limited
scrutiny to $1 billion, making many fewer banks fully accountable.
The F.D.I.C. claims that the new rule is aimed at reducing the
regulatory burden on banks. The Federal Reserve Board and the
Comptroller of the Currency, the law's other two enforcers,
have not proposed new rules.

But there is a real question as to whether changing the rule
would result in any meaningful savings for banks. And communities
will suffer if enforcement is curtailed, because the act has been
working. A Treasury report presented in 2000 to the Congress
concludes that mortgage lending to low- and moderate-income
borrowers and areas rose substantially in the 1990's.

The capital made available under the act has helped to rebuild
entire communities - in rural Maine as well as in the South Bronx.
At the same time, banks have learned that lending, investing and
providing basic services in low-income communities can be good
business. A 2002 Harvard University study found that the law
significantly changed the way banks do business in and relate to
the communities they serve. As a result, the report stated, "The
lower-income mortgage market has become demonstrably
mainstream and more competitive over the last decade." The
Federal Reserve Board, too, has deemed this lending to be safe
and profitable.

Low-income families can be part of the mainstream economy only
if they can buy homes, start businesses and live in stable, vibrant
communities. If the United States is to compete globally, we need
everyone to contribute. In these uncertain economic times, keeping
the Community Reinvestment Act strong is in the interest of all

Robert E. Rubin,a director of Citigroup who was Treasury secretary
from 1995 to 1999, is the chairman and Michael Rubinger is the
president of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a community
development support group.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times