Monday, December 31, 2007



Next Antiwar Coalition meeting Sunday, January 6, 1:00 P.M.
474 Valencia St., Second Floor, rear.


Here is the call that was put out by the Stop the War Coalition in the UK:

Stop the War Coalition

World Against War Conference, Dec 2007
A call for international demonstrations on 15-22 March, 2008

Over 1,200 delegates from the anti war movement across the globe came to London for the World Against War International Peace Conference in London.

Delegates from 26 countries addressed the conference, reported on developments in their regions and discussed strategy for the movement. The conference issued a declaration which is included below. There was unanimous agreement to organise demonstrations for Troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and against an attack on Iran in every country around the fifth anniversary of the attack on Iraq between 15 and 22 March.

Delgates attended from Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Egypt, Iceland, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Somalia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.

Declaration of World Against War conference

This conference of delegates from peace, anti-war, anti-imperialist and liberation movements across the world declares its opposition to the “endless war” prosecuted by the US government against states, peoples and movements in all parts of our planet.

We oppose the interference of the US and its allies in sovereign states, and assert the right of all peoples to self-determination. We support all people fighting for peace and against imperialism.

In particular, we demand:

* An immediate end to the illegal military occupation of Iraq, which has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and displaced millions of people, a withdrawal of all foreign troops and the full transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people and their representatives.
* A halt to all preparations for an attack against Iran, and a commitment to solve any issues through exclusively diplomatic means.
* A withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, allowing the Afghan people to determine their own future.
* Justice for the Palestinian people, and an end to Israeli aggression throughout the Middle East.
* An end to plans for US missile defence, and that all states actively pursue nuclear disarmament.

We affirm the solidarity of all those fighting for peace, social justice and self-determination worldwide, and commit ourselves to strengthening our unity and developing new forms of co-operation.

We therefore designate the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq as a worldwide day of action in support of the demands NO ATTACK on IRAN and TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ/AFGHANISTAN and call on all national anti-war movements to hold mass protests and demonstrations on that day.


Help Make History on the 5th Anniversary of the War
Iraq Occupation 5th Anniversary U.S. Mobilization Committee (Member Groups Listed Below)

Join us on Saturday, March 15th for a massive demonstration in Washington, D.C., at which we will exercise our rights to assemble and speak on behalf of the majority of Americans, the majority of Iraqis, the majority of U.S. troops, and the majority of people around the world who all say: U.S. Out of Iraq! This gathering will support the Iraq Veterans Against The War Winter Soldier Testimonial.

We call on people from throughout the United States, in solidarity with those planning similar events around the world, to come together in massive numbers on March 15th and 19th, 2008, to demand an immediate end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. To endorse this event, click here.

The events we create will mark the end of the fifth year and the start of the sixth year of this criminal, unprovoked invasion and occupation. Over a million Iraqis have been killed, and tens of thousands of U.S. service members have been killed or wounded. The occupation must end, and together we can end it!

Join us on Wednesday, March 19th, the anniversary of the invasion, for massive civil disobedience in Washington, D.C., and at the local level all around the United States. On this day, members of Congress will be in their districts. We will provide you with the resources you need to engage in effective nonviolent actions at locations of your choosing, including congressional district offices. On the same day the permanent military-industrial complex will be at work in Washington, and we intend to bring to bear on it the most massive, most creative, and most disciplined nonviolent resistance it has ever seen. Training sessions will be provided from the 15th to 18th. Toward these ends we have formed a short-term committee.

Organizations participating are listed below (Initial list),
In Solidarity for Peace and Justice,
Gold Star Families for Peace
Camp Casey Peace Institute
ANSWER Coalition
CODEPINK Women For Peace
Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation
National Council of Arab Americans
Malik Rahim, Co-founder, Common Ground Collective New Orleans
Hip Hop Caucus
World Can’t Wait Drive Out The Bush Regime!
Cindy Sheehan and Cindy For Congress
Grassroots America
Democracy Rising
Voters for Peace

To endorse this event go to:

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311



The regional antiwar demonstrations on October 27th were a great success.. The Boston mobilization organized by New England United (NEU) drew about 10,000 people, including many new activists and young people. Nationally, tens of thousands demanded an end to war and occupation now.

The NEU-sponsored action on October 27 was endorsed by a broad range of over 200 organizations. At a follow-up meeting, many members of NEU believed that we should build on this momentum by bringing together the antiwar movement in unified national protest in the spring for the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war.

Reasons given included: 1) March will be the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and the antiwar movement must come together to demand an end to this war now; 2) The war plans against Iran are intensifying, and we have to fight now to stop a war on Iran before it's too late. At the same time, it was recognized that successful national action in the spring would require a broad base of support from antiwar organizations around the country. Therefore, NEU decided to create a working group to assess the level of support for such an action, and report back to our next general meeting in December with both an assessment of support, and a detailed proposal for a unified national mobilization in the spring. As an indication of growing interest in national action, Cindy Sheehan is convening a peace summit in San Francisco in January to help develop a unified strategy for the peace movement and to develop a plan for a unified national mobilization in DC during the March anniversary of the Iraq war.

A strong base of support from the grass-roots organizations around the country will be necessary to make unified national action a reality. If your organization is interested in planning for unified national action in March, please contact us as soon as possible at the following email address: . Thank you. Spring Mobilization working group New England United


Board approves year extension for high schools' JROTC program
Classes allowed to count for physical education credit
Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 12, 2007


474 VALENCIA STREET, FIRST FLOOR, Room 145 (To the left as you come in, and all the way to the back of the long hallway, then, to the right.)

School Board Cowers Behind Phony JROTC "Task Force"
by Marc Norton
Dec. 12‚ 2007





A ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on Mumia's case, based on the hearing in Philadelphia on May 17th 2007, is expected momentarily. Freeing Mumia immediately is what is needed, but that is not an option before this court. The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal calls on everyone who supports Mumia‚s case for freedom, to rally the day after a decision comes down. Here are Bay Area day-after details:


14th and Broadway, near the Federal Building
4:30 to 6:30 PM the day after a ruling is announced,
or on Monday if the ruling comes down on a Friday.

Oakland demonstration called by the Partisan Defense Committee and Labor Black Leagues, to be held if the Court upholds the death sentence, or denies Mumia's appeals for a new trial or a new hearing. info at (510) 839-0852 or


Federal Courthouse, 7th & Mission
5 PM the day after a ruling is announced,
or Monday if the decision comes down on a Friday

San Francisco demo called by the Mobilization To Free Mumia,
info at (415) 255-1085 or

Day-after demonstrations are also planned in:

Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver
and other cities internationally.

A National Demonstration is to be held in Philadelphia, 3rd Saturday after the decision

For more information, contact: International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal,;
Partisan Defense Committee,;
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC),;


World-renowned journalist, death-row inmate and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is completely innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. Mountains of evidence--unheard or ignored by the courts--shows this. He is a victim, like thousands of others, of the racist, corrupt criminal justice system in the US; only in his case, there is an added measure of political persecution. Jamal is a former member of the Black Panther Party, and is still an outspoken and active critic of the on-going racism and imperialism of the US. They want to silence him more than they want to kill him.

Anyone who has ever been victimized by, protested or been concerned about the racist travesties of justice meted out to blacks in the US, as well as attacks on immigrants, workers and revolutionary critics of the system, needs to take a close look at the frame-up of Mumia. He is innocent, and he needs to be free.




In 1995, mass mobilizations helped save Mumia from death.

In 1999, longshore workers shut West Coast ports to free Mumia, and teachers in Oakland and Rio de Janeiro held teach-ins and stop-works.

Mumia needs powerful support again now. Come out to free Mumia!

- The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222, Oakland CA 94610


Help end the war by supporting the troops who have refused to fight it.
Please sign the appeal online:


"I am writing from the United States to ask you to make a provision for sanctuary for the scores of U.S. military servicemembers currently in Canada, most of whom have traveled to your country in order to resist fighting in the Iraq War. Please let them stay in Canada..."

To sign the appeal or for more information:

Courage to Resist volunteers will send this letter on your behalf to three key Canadian officials--Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley, and Stéphane Dion, Liberal Party--via international first class mail.

In collaboration with War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada), this effort comes at a critical juncture in the international campaign for asylum for U.S. war resisters in Canada.


We, the Undersigned, endorse the following petition:
FedEx Ground: Your Drivers Deserve to be Treated Fairly!
Target: Dave Rebholz, President and CEO of FedEx Ground
Sponsor: American Rights at Work

More than 15,000 FedEx Ground drivers don't have a voice at work, or the ability to stand up to the company. These men and women work long hours, often without benefits, are frequently harassed and even fired for supporting a union.

What's more, FedEx makes the drivers lease their own trucks (which cost around $40,000) so quitting can mean losing a major personal investment. Unions are often their only recourse.

FedEx Ground advertises efficiency and professionalism, but their anti-union posters and the distribution of anti-union videos show they're more about pushing their own agenda.

A new report shows that when anti-union persuasion fails, there's outright bullying. High-level management arrive on the scene to harass, isolate, retaliate against and even fire union supporters!

Resorting to nasty labor tactics to increase company profits is just not right.
Demand that FedEx Ground give benefits and respect to the people who make the company so successful!



Harvard chaplain says communism comes closer than the established church
to following the radical gospel of Jesus.




1) At 60% of Total, Texas is Bucking Execution Trend
December 26, 2007

2) Both Sides Cite Science to Address Altered Corn
December 26, 2007

3) The For-Profit Side of Cancer Treatment
December 26, 2007

4) State Without Pity
December 27, 2007

5) The Long Run
Under Attack, Drug Maker Turned to Giuliani for Help
December 28, 2007

6) Albuquerque Has Renewal of Attacks on Abortion
December 28, 2007

7) The Power of Black Music
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
December 19, 2007

8) Cash-Strapped Consumers
December 29, 2007

9) Detroit Considers Sale of City’s Small Parks
December 29, 2007

10) In Japan, Inflation Surges and Job Market Sags
December 29, 2007

11) Bloomberg Seeks New Way to Decide Who Is Poor
December 30, 2007

12) Open Statement to the Green Party
By Elaine Brown
Elaine Brown On Line
December 28, 2007

13) Looking at America
December 31, 2007

14) Still the Politics of Fear
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
December 23, 2007

15) In Prison, Toddlers Serve Time With Mom
Mexico City Journal
December 31, 2007

16) Divorce Is Easy in Cuba, but a Housing Shortage Makes Breaking Up Hard to Do
December 31, 2007

17) Infection Hits a California Prison Hard
December 30, 2007


1) At 60% of Total, Texas is Bucking Execution Trend
December 26, 2007

This year’s death penalty bombshells — a de facto national moratorium, a state abolition and the smallest number of executions in more than a decade — have masked what may be the most significant and lasting development. For the first time in the modern history of the death penalty, more than 60 percent of all American executions took place in Texas.

Over the past three decades, the proportion of executions nationwide performed in Texas has held relatively steady, averaging 37 percent. Only once before, in 1986, has the state accounted for even a slight majority of the executions, and that was in a year with 18 executions nationwide.

But enthusiasm for executions outside of Texas has dropped sharply. Of the 42 executions in the last year, 26 were in Texas. The remaining 16 were spread across nine other states, none of which executed more than three people. Many legal experts say the trend will probably continue.

Indeed, said David R. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston who has represented death-row inmates, the day is not far off when essentially all executions in the United States will take place in Texas.

“The reason that Texas will end up monopolizing executions,” he said, “is because every other state will eliminate it de jure, as New Jersey did, or de facto, as other states have.”

Charles A. Rosenthal Jr., the district attorney of Harris County, Tex., which includes Houston and has accounted for 100 executions since 1976, said the Texas capital justice system was working properly. The pace of executions in Texas, he said, “has to do with how many people are in the pipeline when certain rulings come down.”

The rate at which Texas sentences people to death is not especially high given its murder rate. But once a death sentence is imposed there, said Richard C. Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, prosecutors, state and federal courts, the pardon board and the governor are united in moving the process along. “There’s almost an aggressiveness about carrying out executions,” said Mr. Dieter, whose organization opposes capital punishment.

Outside of Texas, even supporters of the death penalty say they detect a change in public attitudes about executions in light of the time and expense of capital litigation, the possibility of wrongful convictions and the remote chance that someone sent to death row will actually be executed.

“Any sane prosecutor who is involved in capital litigation will really be ambivalent about it,” said Joshua Marquis, the district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., and a vice president of the National District Attorneys Association. He said the families of murder victims suffered needless anguish during what could be decades of litigation and multiple retrials.

“We’re seeing fewer executions,” Mr. Marquis added. “We’re seeing fewer people sentenced to death. People really do question capital punishment. The whole idea of exoneration has really penetrated popular culture.”

As a consequence, Mr. Dieter said, “we’re simply not regularly using the death penalty as a country.”

Over the last three years, the number of executions in Texas has been relatively constant, averaging 23 per year, but the state’s share of the number of total executions nationwide has steadily increased as the national totals have dropped, from 32 percent in 2005 to 45 percent in 2006 to 62 percent in 2007.

The death penalty developments that have dominated the news in recent months are unlikely to have anything like the enduring consequences of Texas’ vigorous commitment to capital punishment.

A Supreme Court case concerns how to assess the constitutionality of lethal injection protocols. While it is possible that states may have to revise the ways they execute people, executions will almost certainly resume soon after the court’s decision, which is expected by June.

Similarly, New Jersey’s abolition of the death penalty last week and Gov. Jon Corzine’s decision to empty death row of its eight prisoners is almost entirely symbolic. New Jersey has not executed anyone since 1963.

And while the total number of executions in 2007 was low, it would have been similar to those in recent years but for the moratorium, if extrapolated to a full year.

There do seem to be slight stirrings suggesting that other states might follow New Jersey. Two state legislative bodies — the House in New Mexico and the Senate in Montana — passed bills to abolish capital punishment, and in Nebraska, the unicameral legislature came within one vote of doing so.

Texas has followed the rest of the country in one respect: the number of death sentences there has dropped sharply.

In the 10 years ending in 2004, Texas condemned an average of 34 prisoners each year — about 15 percent of the national total. In the last three years, as the number of death sentences nationwide dropped significantly, from almost 300 in 1998 to about 110 in 2007, the number in Texas has dropped along with it, to 13 — or 12 percent.

Indeed, according to a 2004 study by three professors of law and statistics at Cornell published in The Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Texas prosecutors and juries were no more apt to seek and impose death sentences than those in the rest of the country.

“Texas’ reputation as a death-prone state should rest on its many murders and on its willingness to execute death-sentenced inmates,” the authors of the study, Theodore Eisenberg, John H. Blume and Martin T. Wells, wrote. “It should not rest on the false belief that Texas has a high rate of sentencing convicted murderers to death.”

There is reason to think that the number of death sentences in the state will fall farther, given the introduction of life without the possibility of parole as a sentencing option in capital cases in Texas in 2005. While a substantial majority of the public supports the death penalty, that support drops significantly when life without parole is included as an alternative.

Once an inmate is sent to death row, however, distinctive features of the Texas justice system kick in.

“Execution dates here, uniquely, are set by individual district attorneys,” Professor Dow said. “In no other state would the fact that a district attorney strongly supports the death penalty immediately translate into more executions.”

Texas courts, moreover, speed the process along, said Jordan M. Steiker, a law professor at the University of Texas who has represented death-row inmates.

“It’s not coincidental that the debate over lethal injections had traction in other jurisdictions but not in Texas,” Professor Steiker said. “The courts in Texas have generally not been very solicitous of constitutional claims.”

Indeed, the Supreme Court has repeatedly rebuked the state and the federal courts that hear appeals in Texas capital cases, often in exasperated language suggesting that those courts are actively evading Supreme Court rulings.

The last execution before the Supreme Court imposed a de facto moratorium happened in Texas, and in emblematic fashion. The presiding judge on the state’s highest court for criminal matters, Judge Sharon Keller, closed the courthouse at its regular time of 5 p.m. and turned back an attempt to file appeal papers a few minutes later, according to a complaint in a wrongful-death suit filed in federal court last month.

The inmate, Michael Richard, was executed that evening.

Judge Keller, in a motion to dismiss the case filed this month, acknowledged that she alone had the authority to keep the court’s clerk’s office open but said that Mr. Richard’s lawyers could have tried to file their papers directly with another judge on the court.


2) Both Sides Cite Science to Address Altered Corn
December 26, 2007

BRUSSELS — A proposal that Europe’s top environment official made last month, to ban the planting of a genetically modified corn strain, sets up a bitter war within the European Union, where politicians have done their best to dance around the issue.

The environmental commissioner, Stavros Dimas, said he had based his decision squarely on scientific studies suggesting that long-term uncertainties and risks remain in planting the so-called Bt corn. But when the full European Commission takes up the matter in the next couple of months, commissioners will have to decide what mix of science, politics and trade to apply. And they will face the ambiguous limits of science when it is applied to public policy.

For a decade, the European Union has maintained itself as the last big swath of land that is mostly free of genetically modified organisms, largely by sidestepping tough questions. It kept a moratorium on the planting of crops made from genetically altered seeds while making promises of further scientific studies.

But Europe has been under increasing pressure from the World Trade Organization and the United States, which contend that there is plenty of research to show such products do not harm the environment. Therefore, they insist, normal trade rules must apply.

Science does not provide a definitive answer to the question of safety, experts say, just as science could not determine beyond a doubt how computer clocks would fare at the turn of the millennium.

“Science is being utterly abused by all sides for nonscientific purposes,” said Benedikt Haerlin, head of Save Our Seeds, an environmental group in Berlin and a former member of the European Parliament. “The illusion that science will answer this overburdens it completely.” He added, “It would be helpful if all sides could be frank about their social, political and economic agendas.”

Mr. Dimas, a lawyer and the minister from Greece, looked at the advice provided by the European Union’s scientific advisory body — which found that the corn was “unlikely” to pose a risk — but he decided there were nevertheless too many doubts to permit the modified corn.

“Commissioner Dimas has the utmost faith in science,” said Barbara Helfferich, spokeswoman for the environment department. “But there are times when diverging scientific views are on the table.” She added that Mr. Dimas was acting as a “risk manager.”

Within the European scientific community, there are passionate divisions about how to apply the growing body of research concerning genetically modified crops, and in particular Bt corn. That strain is based on the naturally occurring soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis and mimics its production of a toxin to kill pests. The vast majority of research into such crops is conducted by, or financed by, the companies that make seeds for genetically modified organisms.

“Where everything gets polarized is the interpretation of results and how they might translate into different scenarios for the future,” said Angelika Hilbeck, an ecologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, whose skeptical scientific work on Bt corn was cited by Mr. Dimas. “Is the glass half-empty or half-full?” she asked.

Ms. Hilbeck says that company-financed studies do not devote adequate attention to broad ripple effects that modified plants might cause, like changes to bird species or the effect of all farmers planting a single biotechnology crop. She said producers of modified organisms, like Syngenta and Monsanto, have rejected repeated requests to release seeds to researchers like herself to conduct independent studies on their effect on the environment.

In his decision, Mr. Dimas cited a dozen scientific papers in finding potential hazards in the Bt corn to butterflies and other insects.

But the European Federation of Biotechnology, an industry group, contends that the great majority of these papers show that Bt corn does not pose any environmental risk.

Many plant researchers say that Mr. Dimas ignored scientific conclusions, including those of several researchers who advised the European Union that the new corn was safe.

“We are seeing ‘advice-resistant’ politicians pursuing their own agendas,” said one researcher, who like others asked not to be identified because of his advisory role.

But Karen S. Oberhauser, a leading specialist on monarch butterflies at the University of Minnesota, said that debate and further study of Bt corn was appropriate, particularly for Europe.

“We don’t really know for sure if it’s having an effect” on ecosystems in the United States, she said, and it is hard to predict future problems. About 40 percent of corn in the United States is now the Bt variety, and it has been planted for about a decade.

“Whether Bt corn is a problem depends totally on the ecosystem — what plants are near the corn field and what insects feed on them,” Ms. Oberhauser said. “So it’s really, really important to have careful studies.”

Bt crops produce a toxin that kills pests but is also toxic to related insects, notably monarch butterflies and a number of water insects. The butterflies do not feed on corn itself, but they might feed nearby, on plants like milkweed. Because corn pollen is carried in the wind, such plants can become coated with Bt pollen.

Ms. Oberhauser said she had been worried about the effect of Bt corn on monarch butterflies in the United States after her studies showed that populations of the insect dipped from 2002 to 2004. But they have rebounded in the last three years, and she has concluded that, in the American Corn Belt, Bt corn has probably not hurt monarch butterflies.

Still, she said there was disagreement about that as well as broader causes for worry. Monarch butterflies may have been saved in the United States, she said, by a fluke of local farming practices. Year by year, farmers alternate Bt corn with a genetically modified soy seed that requires the use of a weed killer. That weed killer, Monsanto’s Roundup, eliminated milkweed — the monarch’s favored meal — in and around corn fields, so the butterflies went elsewhere and were no longer exposed to Bt.

“It’s a problem for milkweed, but it made the risk for monarchs very small,” she said.

Still, she said, other effects could emerge with time and in farming regions with other practices. For example, Bt toxin slows the maturation of butterfly caterpillars, which leaves them exposed to predators for longer periods.

“Sure, time will give you answers on these questions — and maybe show you mistakes that you should have thought about earlier,” she said.

For ecologists and entomologists, a major concern is that insects could quickly become resistant to the toxin built into the corn if all farmers in a region used that corn, just as microbes affecting humans become resistant to antibiotics that are prescribed often. The pests that are killed by modified corn are only a sporadic problem and could be treated by other means.

Scientists also worry about collateral damage because Bt toxin is in wind-borne pollen. Most pollens “are highly nutritious, as they are designed to attract,” Ms. Hilbeck said, wondering how a toxic pollen would affect bees, for example.

Having reviewed the science, insurance companies have been unwilling to insure Bt planting because the risks to people and the environment are too uncertain, said Duncan Currie, an international lawyer in Christchurch, New Zealand, who studies the subject.

In the United States, where almost all crops are now genetically modified, the debate is largely closed.

“I’m not saying there are no more questions to pursue, but whether it’s good or bad to plant Bt corn — I think we’re beyond that,” said Richard L. Hellmich, a plant scientist with the Agriculture Department who is based at Iowa State University. He noted that hundreds of studies had been done and that Bt corn could help “feed the world.”

But the scientific equation may look different in Europe, with its increasing green consciousness and strong agricultural traditions.

“Science doesn’t say on its own what to do,” said Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, executive director of the European Food Safety Authority. She noted that while her agency had advised Mr. Dimas that Bt corn was “unlikely” to cause harm, it was still working to improve its assessment of the long-term risk to the environment.

Part of the reason that science is central to the current debate is that European law and World Trade Organization rules make it much easier for a country or a region to exclude genetically modified seeds if new scientific evidence indicates a risk. Lacking that kind of justification, a move to bar the plants would be regarded as an unfair barrier to trade, leaving the European Union open to penalties.

But the science probably will not be clear-cut enough to let the European ministers avoid that risk.

Simon Butler at the University of Reading in Britain is using computer models to predict the long-term effect of altered crops on birds and other species. But should the ministers reject Bt and other genetically modified corn?

“My work is not to judge whether G.M. is right or wrong,” he said. “It’s just to get the data out there.”


3) The For-Profit Side of Cancer Treatment
December 26, 2007

LOS ANGELES — To doctors visiting his company’s booth at a recent medical meeting, Scott Phillips extolled the medical virtues of the company’s equipment for treating cancer with protons. But he also appealed to their financial interests.

With enough patients “it becomes a very lucrative system,” Mr. Phillips, a sales manager with Optivus Proton Therapy, said at the meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology held here in late October. Referring to one proton center that treats up to 175 patients a day, he added, “You can imagine what the return on investment is on that.”

It is also a good return for the companies that make and sell the equipment. The market leader appears to be Ion Beam Applications of Belgium. Others are Hitachi of Japan and Siemens of Germany. Varian Medical Systems acquired a proton equipment company, Accel, earlier this year.

Other companies help finance, build and operate the facilities. The most well known, ProCure Treatment Centers, is signing up community hospitals and even private medical practices. The hospitals or doctors get a small ownership stake, and therefore a small part of the profits, while directing the medical treatments.

ProCure’s first project is being built in Oklahoma City by two medical practices with a total of six radiation oncologists. Some wealthy local residents, led by Aubrey McClendon, who runs a big natural gas company in the area, invested $35 million in the $100 million project.

The company then arranged the rest of the financing through two Belgian banks that do business with Ion Beam Applications, the equipment supplier. Financing the proton centers has been a challenge even for big academic medical centers, which have taken different approaches.

While M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is part of the University of Texas, its proton center is not. To avoid endangering the university’s credit rating, the proton center is a separate, for-profit entity.

M. D. Anderson supplies staff members for the center, but owns only 15 percent. The rest is owned by various investors recruited by an investment bank in Houston.

The University of Pennsylvania’s $140 million proton operation will be part of a nonprofit medical center. It is being built with the medical center’s own money and donations.

Timothy R. Williams, former co-chairman of the radiation oncology society’s health policy committee, said in a talk at the October conference that the profession was threatening to debase itself if doctors were building centers for the money or competitive advantage.

“Plenty of programs,” Dr. Williams said, “are doing it for the wrong reasons.”


4) State Without Pity
December 27, 2007

It is a shameful distinction, but Texas is the undisputed capital of capital punishment. At a time when the rest of the country is having serious doubts about the death penalty, more than 60 percent of all American executions this year took place in Texas. That gaping disparity provides further evidence that Texas’s governor, Legislature, courts and voters should reassess their addiction to executions.

As Adam Liptak reported in The Times on Wednesday, in the last three years, Texas’s share of the nation’s executions has gone from 32 percent to 62 percent. This year, Texas executed 26 people. No other state executed more than three.

It is not that Texas sentences people to death at a much higher rate than other states. Rather, Texas has proved to be much more willing than others to carry out the sentences it has imposed.

The participants in Texas’s death penalty process, including the governor and the pardon board, are more enthusiastic about moving things along than they are in many states. Texas’s system also contains some special features, like the power of district attorneys to set execution dates. Prosecutors are likely to be more eager than judges to see an execution carried out.

While Texas has been forging ahead with capital punishment, many other states have been moving away from it. New Jersey abolished the death penalty this month, and other states have been considering doing the same thing. Illinois made headlines a few years ago when its governor, troubled about the number of innocent people who had been sent to death row, put in place a moratorium on executions.

These states have had good reasons for their doubts. The traditional objections to the death penalty remain as true as ever. It is barbaric — governments should simply not be in the business of putting people to death. It is imposed in racially discriminatory ways. And it is too subject to error, which cannot be corrected after an execution has taken place.

In recent years, two other developments have undercut the public’s faith in capital punishment.

There has been a tidal wave of DNA exonerations, in which it has been scientifically proved that the wrong people had been sentenced to death. There is also increasing awareness that even methods of execution considered relatively humane impose considerable suffering on the condemned.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments next month in a case about whether the pain caused by lethal injection is so great that it violates the Eighth Amendment injunction against cruel and unusual punishment. Those who study the death penalty say that if current trends continue, eventually almost all of the nation’s executions will occur in Texas. That is not a record any state should want. Some states, such as Illinois and New Jersey, have already had wide-ranging discussions about what role they want the death penalty to play in their criminal justice system. Texas is long overdue for such a debate.

If it is unwilling to abolish the death penalty, which all states should do, Texas should at least take a hard look at a system that still produces so many executions and is so wildly out of step with the rest of the country.


5) U.S. Ruling Backs Benefit Cut at 65 in Retiree Plans
December 27, 2007

WASHINGTON — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that employers could reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

The policy, set forth in a new regulation, allows employers to establish two classes of retirees, with more comprehensive benefits for those under 65 and more limited benefits — or none at all — for those older.

More than 10 million retirees rely on employer-sponsored health plans as a primary source of coverage or as a supplement to Medicare, and Naomi C. Earp, the commission’s chairwoman, said, “This rule will help employers continue to voluntarily provide and maintain these critically important health benefits.”

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose an average of 6.1 percent this year and have increased 78 percent since 2001, according to surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Because of the rising cost of health care and the increased life expectancy of workers, the commission said, many employers refuse to provide retiree health benefits or even to negotiate on the issue.

In general, the commission observed, employers are not required by federal law to provide health benefits to either active or retired workers.

Dianna B. Johnston, a lawyer for the commission, said many employers and labor unions had told it that “if they had to provide identical benefits for retirees under 65 and over 65, they would just drop retiree health benefits altogether for both groups.”

In a preamble to the new regulation, published Wednesday in the Federal Register, the commission said, “The final rule is not intended to encourage employers to eliminate any retiree health benefits they may currently provide.”

But AARP and other advocates for older Americans attacked the rule. “This rule gives employers free rein to use age as a basis for reducing or eliminating health care benefits for retirees 65 and older,” said Christopher G. Mackaronis, a lawyer for AARP, which represents millions of people age 50 or above and which had sued in an effort to block issuance of the final regulation. “Ten million people could be affected — adversely affected — by the rule.”

The new policy creates an explicit exemption from age-discrimination laws for employers that scale back benefits of retirees 65 and over. Mr. Mackaronis asserted that the exemption was “in direct conflict” with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

The commission, by contrast, said that under that law, it could establish “such reasonable exemptions” as it might find “necessary and proper in the public interest.” The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, upheld this claim in June, in the case filed by AARP, which has asked the Supreme Court to review the decision.

In its ruling, the appeals court said, “We recognize with some dismay that the proposed exemption may allow employers to reduce health benefits to retirees over the age of 65 while maintaining greater benefits for younger retirees.” But the court said the commission had shown that the exemption was “a reasonable, necessary and proper exercise” of its authority.

Under the new rule, employers may, if they choose, provide retiree health benefits “only to those retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare.” Likewise, the rule says, retiree health benefits can be “altered, reduced or eliminated” when a retiree becomes eligible for Medicare.

Further, employers will be able to reduce or eliminate health benefits provided to the spouse or dependents of a retired worker 65 or over, regardless of whether benefits for the retiree are changed.

Employers and some unions contend that retirees under 65 have a greater need for employer-sponsored health benefits because they are generally not Medicare-eligible. Large employers have often provided some health benefits to retirees 65 and older, to help cover costs not paid by Medicare. But employers have for years been trying to reduce retiree benefits or to shift more of the cost to retirees.

Lawyers for the commission said the new Medicare drug benefit, now nearing the end of its second year, had strengthened the case for the regulation because it guaranteed that retirees 65 and older would have access to drug coverage. Younger retirees have no such guarantee, so employers may want to provide drug coverage to them in particular, the lawyers said.

Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, which represents large employers, welcomed the rule.

“If employers could not coordinate with Medicare, they would be far less likely to provide health coverage” to retirees, Ms. Darling said. “They could not afford to.”

A study by the Government Accountability Office in 2001 estimated that one-third of large employers and fewer than one-tenth of small employers offered health benefits to retirees. Ms. Darling said newer retirees often received not comprehensive coverage but instead a fixed amount of money, based on years of service, to help them with their medical costs.

James A. Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, a lobby for large employers, said: “The new rule is a victory for common sense and for retirees. Retiree health coverage has been declining for many years. Without this rule, many more retirees, especially early retirees, could find themselves without employer-sponsored coverage.”

Gerald M. Shea, assistant to the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., also saw merit in the new rule.

“Given the enormous cost pressures on employer-sponsored health benefits,” Mr. Shea said, “we support the flexibility reflected in the rule as a way to maximize our ability to maintain comprehensive coverage for active and retired workers.”

Schoolteachers, like many other public employees, often retire early and rely on employer-provided health benefits until they become eligible for Medicare. At a Congressional hearing in 2005, the National Education Association and Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, who is now the House Republican leader, supported the proposed rule. The teachers union said it feared that employers would cut health benefits for early retirees if they had to provide identical benefits to those over 65 and those under.


5) The Long Run
Under Attack, Drug Maker Turned to Giuliani for Help
December 28, 2007

In western Virginia, far from the limelight, United States Attorney John L. Brownlee found himself on the telephone last year with a political and legal superstar, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

For years, Mr. Brownlee and his small team had been building a case that the maker of the painkiller OxyContin had misled the public when it claimed the drug was less prone to abuse than competing narcotics. The drug was believed to be a factor in hundreds of deaths involving its abuse.

Mr. Giuliani, celebrated for his stewardship of New York City after 9/11, soon told the prosecutors they were wrong.

In 2002, the drug maker, Purdue Pharma of Stamford, Conn., hired Mr. Giuliani and his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, to help stem the controversy about OxyContin. Among Mr. Giuliani’s missions was the job of convincing public officials that they could trust Purdue because they could trust him.

So it was no small success when, after the call, Mr. Brownlee did what many people might have done when confronted with such celebrity: He went out and bought a copy of Mr. Giuliani’s book, “Leadership.”

“I wanted to be prepared for my meetings with him,” Mr. Brownlee said in a recent interview.

Over the past few weeks, Mr. Giuliani’s consulting business has received increasing scrutiny, at times forcing him to defend his business as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination.

But his work for Purdue, the company’s first and longest-running client, provides a window into how he used his standing as an eminent lawyer, a Republican insider and a national celebrity to aid a controversial client and build a business fortune.

A former top federal prosecutor, Mr. Giuliani participated in two meetings between Purdue officials and the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the agency investigating the company. Giuliani Partners took on the job of monitoring security improvements at company facilities making OxyContin, an issue of concern to the D.E.A.

As a celebrity, Mr. Giuliani helped the company win several public relations battles, playing a role in an effort by Purdue to persuade an influential Pennsylvania congressman, Curt Weldon, not to blame it for OxyContin abuse.

Despite these efforts, Purdue suffered a crushing defeat in May at the hands of Mr. Brownlee when the company and three top executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

Mr. Giuliani, who declined to discuss his work for Purdue for this article, has refused to talk in detail about his firm’s clients. He has said that he is no longer involved in the day-to-day management of the firm, which still represents Purdue.

Giuliani Partners would not say how much Purdue had paid it, but one consultant to the drug maker estimated that Mr. Giuliani’s firm had, in some years, earned several million dollars from the account.

“Everything I did with Giuliani Partners has been totally legal, totally ethical,” Mr. Giuliani recently told The Associated Press. “There’s nothing for me to explain about it. We’ve acted honorably, decently.”

In the OxyContin case, Mr. Giuliani’s supporters suggest that as a cancer survivor himself, he was driven by a noble goal: to keep the company’s proven pain reliever available to the widest circle of sufferers.

“I understand the pain and distress that accompanies illness,” Mr. Giuliani said at the time. “I know that proper medications are necessary for people to treat their sickness and improve their quality of life.”

To drive OxyContin’s sales, Purdue, beginning in 1996, set in motion what D.E.A. officials described as perhaps the most aggressive promotional campaign for a high-powered narcotic ever undertaken. It promoted the drug not only to pain specialists, but to family doctors with little experience in treating serious pain or recognizing drug abuse.

As a result of the expanded access, critics charged, OxyContin wound up in the high schools and street corners of rural America where curious teenagers crushed the pill, defeating the time-release formula, and ended up addicts, or in some cases, dead.

Dennis Lee, the Virginia state prosecutor for Tazewell County, an area hard hit by OxyContin abuse, said he was stunned several years ago to learn that Mr. Giuliani was working for Purdue. He had a favorable impression of Mr. Giuliani, he said, and a poor opinion of the company, which he said had played down and dissembled about its drug’s problem.

“I was shocked,” Mr. Lee said, “that he would basically become a mouthpiece for Purdue.”

Denials and Lobbying

Giuliani Partners served clients with a range of needs. The firm helped large accounting firms fight computer hackers and promoted Nextel’s efforts to expand its access to public airwaves. But some of the 55-person firm’s clients, like Purdue Pharma, were facing more difficult legal and public relations problems.

There were, for instance, the backers of a planned natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound who were facing stiff environmental opposition. Another client was a former cocaine smuggler hoping to win federal contracts for a computer system to track down terrorists.

On the business of these clients andothers, Giuliani Partners carved out a lucrative niche in corporate consulting, crisis management and security.

In the process, Mr. Giuliani, a Brooklyn native whose legal career had largely been spent in government, became a corporate trouble-shooter with homes in the Hamptons and on the Upper East Side. According to financial disclosure forms filed in May, his net worth was more than $30 million.

The crisis that brought Purdue to Mr. Giuliani in 2002 involved OxyContin, a time-released form of the narcotic oxycodone, which had turned into a blockbuster product with annual sales of more than $1 billion.

But along the way, the pain medication had also become a popular drug for abuse. Among the company’s critics were officials at the Drug Enforcement Administration who said OxyContin had been a factor in hundreds of overdose deaths. Some D.E.A. officials and others also charged that Purdue had hyped the drug’s resistance to abuse and then failed to act swiftly when its misuse became apparent.

Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the Sacklers, a New York-area family who are known as museum benefactors, denied it had done anything wrong. But facing a growing number of investigations and lawsuits, it spent millions on public relations experts, lobbyists and top-tier law firms.

One piece, however, was missing: a highly credible and well-connected political figure to serve as its point man. Purdue Pharma executives saw Mr. Giuliani as that person, said a former company spokesman.

“He was just on the cover of Time Magazine, Man of the Year,” that former official, Robin Hogen, said. “Everyone was talking about his extraordinary leadership in 9/11.”

Giuliani Partners became involved in every aspect of the company’s problems, from the ballooning investigation by Mr. Brownlee to repairing its battered image. Mr. Giuliani personally took on some tasks, but a half-dozen members of his firm, including Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, were also involved.

Mr. Giuliani’s most important liaison to the company was Daniel S. Connolly, who had been a top lawyer in his administration. He spent so much time at Purdue that he was issued a security pass.

“His judgment was always sought on almost any topic,” said Mr. Hogen, who now works for a public relations agency in San Francisco.

Mr. Connolly regularly attended Monday morning crisis management sessions to develop programs that would shift the public spotlight away from OxyContin. The issue, the company said, was not its conduct but the larger question of prescription drug abuse.

To help draw attention to that issue, Mr. Giuliani became the public face of a program called Rx Action Alliance, a consortium of drug makers, physicians and law enforcement authorities working to curtail such abuse.

“He was America’s mayor,” Mr. Hogen said of Mr. Giuliani’s role as a catalyst for the company’s efforts. “People were drawn to him.”

One person attracted by Mr. Giuliani’s star power was Mr. Weldon, who was upset because young people in his Pennsylvania district were abusing OxyContin. Mr. Weldon, who lost his seat in 2006, said in a recent interview that he had told the company he planned to publicly speak out against it.

“This is really kind of outrageous,” Mr. Weldon recalled telling a Purdue representative. “You have got to do something more than say you are concerned about it.”

At Mr. Weldon’s urging, the company agreed to finance a program aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse. It also sent Mr. Giuliani to an inaugural press conference for the program, held at a high school in Mr. Weldon’s district. With Mr. Giuliani at his side, Mr. Weldon opted not to criticize the company.

“I am proud to be in Pennsylvania today standing with Curt Weldon — a true leader,” Mr. Giuliani said at the event. “I applaud the efforts of Congressman Weldon and of Purdue Pharma in taking this battle in the right direction.”

Credit for Damage Control

Asa Hutchinson, the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2002, hardly needed an introduction to Mr. Giuliani. So it was perhaps not surprising that Purdue chose Mr. Giuliani as the person to meet with Mr. Hutchinson at a time when the drug maker was under intense scrutiny by the D.E.A.

“You need to have somebody who has clout to get in the door to legitimately make your presentation,” said Jay P. McCloskey, a former United States attorney in Maine who until recently worked for Purdue as a consultant.

By 2002, Mr. Giuliani was already helping to raise money for a D.E.A. museum, and his firm was part of a $1 million Justice Department consulting contract to advise it on reorganizing its major drug investigations.

The D.E.A. was not only critical of how OxyContin had been marketed, its inspectors had found widespread security and record-keeping problems at the company’s manufacturing plants.

Several top D.E.A. staffers were recommending that the agency impose severe sanctions against the drug maker, including possible restrictions on how much OxyContin it could make.

At two meetings, the first at Giuliani Partners in early 2002, Mr. Giuliani and Purdue’s executives argued that they were already taking steps to eliminate any problems.

Mr. Kerik had been sent to Purdue’s manufacturing plants to revamp internal security, they assured Mr. Hutchinson. The federal investigators, they argued, should back down and give them a chance to prove they could handle the problem on their own.

After the meetings, Mr. Hutchinson, who generally did not get involved in individual investigations, asked D.E.A. officials several times to brief him on the inquiry, Laura Nagel, the official in charge of it, has said in previous interviews. She declined to comment for this article.

D.E.A. officials say Mr. Giuliani ultimately did not affect the inquiry’s course. But Purdue Pharma did succeed in favorably resolving the matter. In 2004, it paid a $2 million fine to settle the D.E.A. record-keeping charges without admitting any wrongdoing. The sum was far smaller than the amount first recommended by Ms. Nagel, which one former D.E.A. official said was $20 million.

By the time of the 2004 settlement, it appeared that Purdue, with Mr. Giuliani’s help, had averted any significant damage. As the tide was turning, the drug maker’s top lawyer, Howard R. Udell, gave credit to Mr. Giuliani.

“We believe that government officials are more comfortable knowing that Giuliani is advising Purdue Pharma,” Mr. Udell said in a promotional brochure put out by Giuliani Partners. “It is clear to us, and we hope it is clear to the government, that Giuliani would not take an assignment with a company that he felt was acting in an improper way.”

Parents Not Persuaded

The limits of stature, though, were evident in Mr. Giuliani’s dealings with Mr. Brownlee, the federal prosecutor from Virginia, whose case against Purdue had been viewed by the company more as a nuisance than a threat.

It is easy to see how lawyers for Purdue might have underestimated the prosecutor. He ran a small office with 24 lawyers to cover 52 far-flung counties. But two of those lawyers, working out of a satellite office in the tiny town of Abingdon, Va., near the Tennessee border, had been investigating Purdue since 2002.

They had issued some 600 separate subpoenas and collected millions of company documents. The case stretched the office’s resources so thin that state prosecutors had to be deputized to handle other federal cases.

By comparison, Purdue’s defense team comprised all-stars, including Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Connolly and Mary Jo White, a former United States attorney in New York.

Mr. Giuliani had been advising Purdue about how to respond to Mr. Brownlee’s inquiry since its start in 2002, including reviewing documents the company had released in response to his subpoenas. And he shared the defense team’s view that Mr. Brownlee did not have any evidence to link the company to crimes, several of those lawyers said.

Early last year, however, Mr. Brownlee told Purdue that he was prepared to indict it and three top executives, including Mr. Udell, the lawyer. The company then handed Mr. Giuliani his most crucial assignment, to talk Mr. Brownlee down.

His selection was not by chance, company representatives said. They figured Mr. Brownlee, a younger federal prosecutor, would look up to Mr. Giuliani, who became a legend as a United States attorney in New York.

Between June and October 2006, Mr. Giuliani met or spoke with the prosecutor on six occasions. During those conversations, Mr. Giuliani was cordial but pointed in arguing against what he felt were flaws in the case.

Mr. Brownlee would not change course, though, even when the Purdue legal team appealed, unsuccessfully, at the 11th hour to his superiors at the Justice Department in Washington.

In October 2006, Mr. Brownlee told Mr. Giuliani and Purdue that he expected to ask for a grand jury indictment by the end of the month. Plea discussions ensued and Mr. Brownlee ultimately agreed that the three executives would not have to do jail time.

By this time, Mr. Giuliani was actively planning his presidential bid, as well as tending to other clients. On the day the legal team completed the plea deals with Mr. Brownlee, Mr. Giuliani was in Germany, giving a talk to business leaders.

He had a conference call with prosecutors for about a minute, but there really was not much left to discuss, except the weather.

“He said that it was raining,” Mr. Brownlee recalled.

In May, Purdue and its executives, after spending tens of millions of dollars to repair the company’s image, agreed to plea deals to avoid a trial. Together, they paid $634.5 million in fines and payments.

After years of denial and a high-profile public relations campaign, the company was forced to admit that it had misled doctors and patients. But to the parents of young people who had died getting high on OxyContin, the absence of jail time was evidence of Mr. Giuliani’s influence.

They voiced that view inside and outside the packed courtroom in Abingdon where the men were sentenced in July.

Mr. Giuliani was 360 miles away at the time, campaigning in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he met with local firefighters and talked about 9/11. But his role in the case had been so substantial and sustained, the presiding judge felt compelled to address the parents’ concerns.

“It has been implied that because Mr. Giuliani is a prominent national politician, Purdue may have received a favorable deal from the government solely because of politics,” said the judge, James P. Jones of United States District Court. “I completely reject this claim.”

Even today, some of those parents are not persuaded. Ed Bisch, whose son died of an OxyContin overdose, said that he believed that Purdue got a free pass for years thanks to Mr. Giuliani.

“It was all because of Giuliani,” said Mr. Bisch. “And he got to take the money.”


6) Albuquerque Has Renewal of Attacks on Abortion
December 28, 2007

A rash of attacks on abortion and family planning clinics has struck Albuquerque this month, the first such violence there in nearly a decade.

Two attacks occurred early Tuesday at two buildings belonging to Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, according to Albuquerque police and fire officials. An arson fire damaged a surgery center the organization uses for abortions, and the windows of a Planned Parenthood family planning clinic 12 blocks away were smashed, the officials said.

Neither building sustained significant damage, and activities at both of them resumed Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.

The attacks came just weeks after the Albuquerque clinic run by a nationally known abortion provider, Dr. Curtis Boyd, was destroyed by arsonists on Dec. 6.

On Wednesday, agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with local arson investigators, arrested two suspects in the fire at Dr. Boyd’s clinic, which has provided abortions to women from throughout the region and Mexico since 1972.

The suspects, Chad Altman and Sergio Baca of Albuquerque, both 22, were arrested on arson charges after the authorities received a tip, said Jake Gonzales, the agent in charge of the firearms agency’s Albuquerque office.

Mr. Gonzales said it was not clear whether the Dec. 6 attack was related to those at the Planned Parenthood offices, which are still under investigation by federal and local authorities.

The small, tightknit group of abortion providers here reacted with a mix of shock and fear over the attacks. In 1999, the same Planned Parenthood surgical center was set ablaze. An ex-convict, Ricky Lee McDonald, who has a history of violence against New Mexico abortion clinics, was found guilty in that attack and sent to prison.

The Planned Parenthood of New Mexico spokeswoman, Martha Edmands, condemned the recent attacks, as did Dauneen Dolce, executive director of the Right to Life Committee of New Mexico.

“It makes me really angry,” Ms. Edmands said. “It’s really upsetting that anyone would attempt to put any kind of doctor out of business.”

She said the group was revamping security measures when the attacks occurred. Protesters regularly picket the surgical center, she said.

Ms. Dolce said: “We never encourage violence of any nature. After all, there’s enough violence going on in these clinics.”

Dr. Boyd, who helped found the National Abortion Federation, a professional association of abortion providers, said: “After working on the abortion reform movement for 40 years, I wake up and I still can’t believe we’re still where we are. When will it stop?”

He and his wife, Glenna Halvorson-Boyd, a past president of the National Abortion Federation who is a psychologist at the clinic, vowed to rebuild their operation. But they said it had been difficult to find a new location because landlords were wary of renting to an abortion provider.

“I’m going to have to accept the fact that I’m going to die before the rights of women are secured, and the violence against providers and staff comes to an end,” Dr. Boyd said.

A study issued last year by the Feminist Majority Foundation, which monitors attacks on abortion clinics, concluded that the most serious anti-abortion violence had declined since 1994, when federal legislation gave greater protection to providers and patients. According to the report, 18 percent of clinics experienced severe violence in 2005, compared with 52 percent in 1994.

Still, the report said, many clinics are still targets of extreme violence.


7) The Power of Black Music
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
December 19, 2007

Music is far more than a multi-million dollar business in the U.S., and around the world.

It is far more than the stuff that comes out of your radio in an unending roll.
For some people, music, the right music, can transform one's way of looking at the world, and even change lives.

By music (as you may have guessed) I'm not talking about bubble gum pop, or rap.
I'm talking about a music form that has been called classical (at least by Black listeners) for generations.

I speak of jazz.

I speak specifically, of the music of the late saxophonist John Coltrane (1928-1987), an adherent of the form that came to be called avant-garde (French for advance guard), or free form jazz. In the '50s he was a star player in the Miles Davis quintet.

Later, he would lead several groups, and when not zonked out high on heroin, would play such music as would move millions, even now, decades after his death.

In San Francisco, a church stands today, which has named the musician a Saint of the African Orthodox rite. This is the same church that was the religious branch of the Marcus Garvey Black nationalist movement of the early 20th century.

At the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church, Archbishop Franzo Wayne King presides, and his appreciation of Coltrane's music may be shown as often by his preaching as by his playing of the saxophone in tribute to the Saint. In a recent interview, Archbishop King explained that he heard Coltrane live in 1966, at a local club called the Jazz Workshop, where he and his girlfriend (soon to be wife, Marina) got front row seats. What they heard that evening almost literally blew him away.
King would later explain the experience as his "sound baptism."

So taken was he by the power and beauty of Coltrane's music that he first organized a small congregation called the Yardbird Temple, named after the nickname of another famous sax player, Charlie Parker. In this initial gathering Coltrane was worshipped as a god, and Parker was seen as a John the Baptist-type figure.

Years later, when he joined the African Orthodox Church, Coltrane was "demoted" to saint.

Today, people come from all around the world to visit the San Francisco church.
The influence of Coltrane has also had far less spectacular, but still meaningful impact, on the lives of people during the '60s.

As Black revolutionary and later scholar, Muhammad Ahmad (who worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), and other such movements) would later write in his political autobiography, We Will Return in the Worldwind: Black Radical Organizations: 1960-1975 (Chi., IL: Karr Publishing, 2007), music opened his mind to political ideas and possibilities:

“First was going to see Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln present their ‘Freedom Now’ suite at the national convention of the NAACP, which was held in Philadelphia that year. I had been raised on Jazz and had done my homework with Eddie Collier while listening to John Coltrane's ‘Giant Steps.’ I had gone to the Newport Jazz festival and was an avid fan of both Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderly. But this was the first time I had heard ‘message music’ so direct for my generation. The ‘Freedom Now’ suite immediately raised my political/cultural consciousness. It wouldn't be until a year later that I would listen to John Coltrane's ‘My Favorite Things’ and become a ‘Tranite’ until ‘Trane’ passed on in 1967.”

As Ahmad explained, music was a powerful social force that opened new ways of looking at and thinking about, and living in the world.

Music is more, much more than a commodity.

Free jazz of that period represented, quite simply, freedom, in breaking away from the restraints of the past.

This power of music must be recaptured, to become a resource for a people, who are still not free.


8) Cash-Strapped Consumers
December 29, 2007

During the holiday shopping season, Americans bought fewer gifts while paying more for necessities. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, spending rose only 3.6 percent over the same period last year, the weakest performance in at least four years, according to early tallies from MasterCard Advisors, a unit of the credit card company. One-third of that increase was for gas purchases.

That’s bad news for an economy that is dependent on free-spending shoppers for growth. When consumers pull back, the economy slows. Employers respond by delaying hiring plans, reducing work hours and, if problems persist, laying off workers. Once a downturn starts, it is always hard to reverse, and especially now, with the White House unwilling to acknowledge that six years of debt-fueled growth is proving unsustainable and with most candidates for president only beginning to talk about how they would fix the economy.

Of course, one season does not a trend make. And after-Christmas bargain hunters have yet to spend their last penny. But the preliminary results are not likely to change much. Earlier this month, the government reported that personal spending surged in November, but the boost was mostly due to higher outlays for food and gasoline. More troubling, the rise in spending far outstripped the rise in Americans’ income, with the mismatch covered, in part, by a significant drain on savings.

All of that portends economic pain for families, even if growth, over all, does not contract — the general definition of a recession. That’s because even optimistic growth forecasts — about 1.5 percent for this quarter and next — are too tepid to counter recessionlike conditions in which job growth slows, unemployment rises and paychecks shrink or disappear. If inflation continues, rising prices will only feed the pain.

To make matters worse, many Americans are ill-prepared for tougher times.

Since the end of 2001, the economy has posted positive growth every month. That is a performance much trumpeted by President Bush and his aides. There is another aspect of that performance that they don’t talk about. With the Bush-era expansion apparently bottoming out, it may well become the first in which median family income, after inflation, never makes it back up to its level at the peak of the previous business cycle.

A new study by the Economic Policy Institute uses Census data to trace the dismal trajectory. Economic growth during the Clinton administration peaked in 2000, followed by a brief recession. Growth resumed at the end of 2001, the beginning of the Bush-era expansion, but real family income continued to fall through 2004. It has turned up since then, but as of the end of 2006, it was still about $1,000 below its peak in 2000.

Even if that difference is made up this year (and it’s still too early to tell if that will happen) Americans would be merely breaking even. That would be a pathetic outcome after six years of strong labor productivity.

Dismal income growth is no accident. It is the result of misguided tax, labor and social policies — including government disregard of the downsides of globalization for many Americans — that have concentrated income in the hands of the few.

The ease of borrowing has made it possible for many people to live beyond their means. But, the end of easy money is now exposing Americans’ vulnerability. Today’s stingy shopper may be tomorrow’s angry voter. To deserve those votes, a candidate must articulate a plan not only for restoring growth, but for ensuring that in the next upswing, the benefits are shared.


9) Detroit Considers Sale of City’s Small Parks
December 29, 2007

Save for a rusty, seatless swing set, the Brinket-Hibbard Playlot resembles many vacant lots pockmarking Detroit’s hardscrabble east side.

Looking across Hibbard Street at what is left of her childhood park, Patricia Scott, whose family lives in the only home remaining on the block, recalled better days.

“There were nine of us kids, and I can remember how we used to have fun over there, when there was a sandbox and some hobbyhorses, and I think a seesaw,” said Ms. Scott, 56. “The way it is now, I think it’s pitiful.”

Detroit’s own assessment of the park is similarly grim, according to a recent report, which said, “Except for an old swing set frame, this appears to be another vacant lot in a neighborhood of many vacant lots.”

Now, some city officials are wondering, Would you like to buy it?

The Brinket-Hibbard playground is one of about 90 municipal parks — mostly small play spaces — that the city of Detroit is considering putting up for sale under a contentious proposal that seeks to condense and consolidate park space and resources in thriving areas. The city would use the money earned from any sales to maintain and possibly expand parks in parts of the city that are more densely populated than, say, areas like the one around Hibbard Street.

The Recreation Department’s master plan calls the proposal “park repositioning,” which officials promote as a clear-eyed way to look at necessary downsizing, a way to align park space with the significant demographic shifts over the last half-century in Detroit, which has lost about a million people since 1950.

But critics say it could further hurt downtrodden areas where parks are equally appreciated, and that green space is too precious to be bartered for money.

“They call some of these parks ‘surplus,’” said City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, an opponent of the plan, “but I don’t know what the heck that means because there is no such thing as a surplus of something that is necessary for the good and welfare of the community. The very concept of selling off public parkland in somebody’s hope to address a one-time money crunch is not something you do as a big city. We have to protect these parks for future generations.”

Some proponents of the parks say that eliminating a park in a declining neighborhood would make a resurgence much harder.

“It could be a case of penny wise, pound foolish,” said Abe Kadushin of Kadushin Associates, an architecture firm that does a lot of work in Detroit. “I understand the need to make money, if it’s an asset that’s valuable and the city can dispose of it. But it may not be the wisest thing in the long run.”

The proposal seems to have stalled in the City Council’s Neighborhood and Community Services Committee, whose chairwoman is Ms. Watson. But the administration of Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick plans to pursue it, possibly along with other options like neighborhood or corporate sponsorships. Though with more than 300 parks — 40 percent of which are in poor condition — sales to developers or other for-profit entities could be most beneficial.

If private buyers emerge for most of the parks in question, the city estimates it can raise $8.1 million from selling the land (about 124 acres) and more than $5 million a year in tax revenue, while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars on maintenance.

“It’s an opportunity to look at where we can put parks closer to people,” said James Canning, a city spokesman. “We’ve constantly looked for ways to make government more efficient, and we see this whole idea of possibly repositioning parks as promoting an increased quality of life for those living in our neighborhoods.”

Some experts say the idea makes sense. While many cities and states are preoccupied by figuring out how to grow, several, like Detroit and New Orleans, are grappling with how to shrink, an alternative that is rarely pleasant. Recently, a melee erupted when the New Orleans City Council voted to demolish four public housing projects (to be replaced by fewer units for poor people).

Eric Dueweke, a lecturer in urban planning at the University of Michigan who studies Detroit, said the city had lost so many people that it needed fewer parks. “When the neighborhoods were dense,” Mr. Dueweke said, “it made sense to have a pocket park in your neighborhood. When the neighborhood is not dense, it really is questionable about whether it’s a good idea.”

About 90,000 parcels, he said, or about a quarter of the lots in the city, are vacant. “It’s not like we’re this concrete jungle,” Mr. Dueweke said, “where we need every inch of green space.”

Financial pressures are forcing cities to make difficult decisions.

“When you have a city that’s really struggling with unemployment and an eroding tax base, you can’t maintain everything, you have to be strategic about what you put your money into,” Mr. Dueweke said. “And I think most people would rather see the city put resources into the major parks that most people use.”

The executive director of the National Recreation and Park Association, John Thorner, urged caution in the possible sale of parks.

“Sometimes it become a self-fulfilling prophesy, a city doesn’t take care of a park, and so it’s not used,” Mr. Thorner said. “And then they close the park down because it wasn’t used.”

Mr. Canning said Detroit made improvements to 11 parks this year, and spent $16 million to renovate a major recreation center. In 2006, he said, $18.5 million was invested in two new recreation centers, and 18 parks were improved around the city.

But park officials say the city has more park space than it can reasonably maintain.

The Sylvester-Field Playlot, also slated for possible sale, has a flagpole, some old monkey-bar-type equipment and two swing sets with dangling rusted chains and only one seat. In some places the park’s wire fence is bent to the ground. Four discarded tires sit just outside it. Next to the park is a house with bricks missing from one side. A small church is on a facing corner; an abandoned house on another.

These days few children live in the neighborhood, said Milford Eley, 60, a retired laborer who has lived near the park for seven years. Still, Mr. Eley would hate to see the park disappear.

“Parks give the neighborhood a countryside effect,” he said. “It attracts the squirrels, even a few pheasants. It’s nice. It makes the place livable. And now the city wants to sell these? My question is, To who, and for what?”

Susan Saulny reported from Chicago. Mary Chapman contributed reporting from Detroit, and Catrin Einhorn from Chicago.


10) In Japan, Inflation Surges and Job Market Sags
December 29, 2007

TOKYO (Bloomberg News) — Japan’s inflation rose at the fastest pace in more than nine years in November while industrial production and household spending declined, signaling that rising oil costs might derail the economy’s longest postwar expansion.

Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, climbed 0.4 percent from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said Friday. Factory output slid 1.6 percent from a month earlier. Households cut spending 0.6 percent, the first drop since July.

The Labor Ministry said that wages fell and employment prospects worsened as job seekers outnumbered vacancies for the first time in two years

“Japan’s economy is entering into a new phase of accelerating inflation and slowing growth,” said Susumu Kato, chief economist at Calyon Securities in Tokyo. “The bank will probably keep rates on hold in the next two to three quarters,” he said, referring to Japan’s central bank.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio fell to 0.99 in November from 1.02 in October, the Labor Ministry said. Wages slid 0.2 percent from a year earlier. Pay has risen in only one month this year.

Core consumer prices rose faster than the 0.3 percent median estimate of 36 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Gasoline and kerosene contributed three-quarters of the gain, which was the quickest since March 1998, when an increase in the country’s sales tax pushed the gauge to 1.8 percent.

Food and oil costs are fanning inflation across Asia. South Korea’s consumer prices rose to a three-year high in November, and China’s inflation was the quickest in 11 years. Singapore’s consumer prices rose the most in 25 years.

“The gain was mainly due to rising oil prices and not because of higher wages and consumer demand,” said Mari Iwashita, a strategist at the Daiwa Securities SMBC Company in Tokyo.

Japan’s last bout of inflation amid slowing job growth was during a recession a decade ago. This time it may be worse for consumers: wages have fallen an average 0.5 percent this year. In 1997, they rose 1.7 percent.

“The economic slowdown since mid-2007 is now causing, after a time lag, deterioration in the labor market,” said Naoki Murakami, an economist at Goldman Sachs Group. “With employment now starting to slow, we see little likelihood of a recovery in consumption.”


11) Bloomberg Seeks New Way to Decide Who Is Poor
December 30, 2007

The Bloomberg administration, frustrated by the federal government’s Great Society method of determining who is poor, is developing its own measure, which city officials say will offer a more modern and accurate picture of poverty.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wants to adopt the new measure in part so he can better assess whether the tens of millions of dollars the city plans to spend on new anti-poverty programs will improve poor people’s standard of living.

But officials also hope the new measure will set off a nationwide re-examination of the current federal standard, and prompt other cities and states to adopt the city’s method.

The 42-year-old federal poverty standard, which is pegged to the annual cost of buying basic groceries, is widely viewed as outdated and off-target. The city’s formula would take into account the money families must spend annually on necessities including rent, utilities and child care. But it would also factor in the value of financial assistance received, like housing vouchers or food stamps.

The city’s efforts are already attracting attention. “There is widespread dissatisfaction with the current standard,” said Jack Tweedie, the director of the children and families program at the National Conference of State Legislators, which provides research to state legislators and policy makers.

“Because it is New York City adopting it, it could be a big step forward,” he said. “As it starts generating reports and data, others will be interested and you will get more momentum.”

The politics of determining a poverty level are intense because the number largely determines eligibility for numerous federal entitlement programs. And, perhaps as important, it is used by people across the political spectrum as they debate how well this nation cares for its less fortunate.

Of course, New York City’s adoption of a new calculus, which skeptics predict is certain to conclude that there are more poor here than previously counted, could be met with opposition from other areas around the country, like rural states, especially if the city uses the new measure to argue that it deserves more federal aid.

But city officials say their efforts are driven by Mayor Bloomberg’s second-term pledge to reduce poverty.

About a year ago, the mayor announced that the city would put $150 million in public and private money toward new antipoverty programs. At a press conference marking the anniversary of that effort last week, Mr. Bloomberg announced that 31 programs were up and running, and that a dozen more would be started in the next months.

In developing the new programs, however, the city discovered a serious obstacle: the federal poverty standard was all but useless in assessing whether the efforts were having an effect. This was especially frustrating for the mayor, whose business background and Harvard M.B.A. have conditioned him to look for measurable results.

So the city began drafting a new measure, based on research done a decade ago by the National Academy of Sciences. Dozens of respected poverty researchers in the nation have been asked to weigh in as well.

For years the Census Bureau has published several alternative measures of poverty, at least one of which is based on National Academy of Sciences data. However, poverty specialists say, that measure is of little use to cities or states because it only generates national data.

Mr. Bloomberg is seeking a balanced approach in devising New York’s formula, which will be rolled out this summer.

The federal method of calculating the income of poor people does not take into account the value of the extensive benefits that governments give out, like housing vouchers. But the city method will, offering an in-depth look at the assistance provided by New York, which has perhaps the most generous safety net in the nation.

Upwards of 600,000 families in the city are in public housing or receive substantial rental assistance. Other aid that would be counted toward income includes food stamps, subsidized child care and cash that is returned to families through the earned income tax credit and other tax credits. These benefits can be worth thousands of dollars a year for each family, and if that were the only change made in the formula, the number of poor in New York would drop drastically.

But New York is also looking to establish a more realistic picture of how much money is needed to live here.

The current federal poverty threshold was developed in the 1960s by Mollie Orshansky, an economist with the Social Security Administration, who based her number on a 1955 Department of Agriculture study that said low-income Americans spent about a third of their after-tax money on food. If a family had an annual income equal to three times the annual cost of basic groceries, Ms. Orshansky reasoned, they were not poor. If they fell below that income threshold, they were.

Obviously, that formula was developed in a very different America. Yet Mollie’s Measure, as it is known in poverty circles, is still pegged to an annual grocery bill, adjusted for little more than price increases over time. The current poverty threshold for a family of four (two adults and two children) is a little under $21,000. In its new formula, the city would set its poverty threshold at about 80 percent of the median amount spent by American families on essential goods, which would include food, rent, clothing, utilities, and a little extra. Costs would be adjusted to reflect New York prices.

Though city officials insist they are approaching this undertaking without bias, it is almost impossible to separate the process from politics.

Douglas J. Besharov, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, is watching the New York experiment intently and not without some cynicism that the city will come up with a far too generous formula. "It is highly likely they will come up with a higher poverty rate," he said. "It is perfectly safe politically in New York and it certainly is a good P.R. device for the mayor who wants to be a poverty crusader.”


12) Open Statement to the Green Party
By Elaine Brown
Elaine Brown On Line
December 28, 2007

As of today, I am no longer a candidate for the Green Party nomination for president of the United States, and I hereby resign from all affiliation with the Green Party. I believe the leadership of the Green Party of the United States has been seized by neo-liberal men who entrench the Party in internecine antagonisms so as to compromise its stated principles and frustrate its electoral and other goals. They have made it impossible to advance any truly progressive ideals or objectives under the umbrella of the Green Party, and, thus, rendered it counterproductive for me to go forward as a Green Party candidate or member.

I believe this small clique that has captured control of the Party has transformed it into a repository for erstwhile, disgruntled Democrats, who would violate the Party’s own vision and sabotage the good will and genuine commitment of the general membership. Indeed, these usurpers foster a reactionary agenda, supporting partisans in and backers of the Bush wars and disavowing the Party’s more progressive tenets in favor of promoting high-profile participation in the politics of the establishment.

This became clear to me almost from the moment I announced my candidacy in February of 2007. I intended using my campaign to bring large numbers of blacks and browns into the Party, particularly from the hood and the barrio—as would come to be reflected in the lists of supporters and delegates I’ve submitted in connection with my candidacy. As I asserted I would use the respect I enjoyed as a former leader of the Black Panther Party to do so, some in the hierarchy seemed utterly fearful of the prospect of a massive influx of blacks and browns into the Green Party. Soon, there was wide circulation of false rumors that I was a one-time “government agent,” which was intended to discredit my history in the Black Panther Party so as to undermine my potential influence. And, since then, I have had to devote significant time and energy to addressing these lies.

What this effort revealed, though, was how the Green Party, while advocating “diversity,” remains dominated by whites. Indeed, the Party is able to count less blacks, browns and natives in its membership than our national population percentages and certainly less than the Democrats themselves.

In effect, the present Green Party leadership promotes a kinder, gentler capitalism, a moderated racism, an environmentally sustainable globalism, which I cannot support. They are dedicated to the underside of the Party’s platform, which falls short of repudiating the capitalist state, source of all the social ills the Party would address. They equivocate by promoting “an economic alternative to corporate capitalism and a socialist state,” advocate a “re-formulation” of the IMF, NAFTA, so forth, and advance the institution of “stakeholder capitalism.”

On the other hand, they demonstrate a willingness to override the best of the Party’s platform. My sharp criticism of high-profile Party members‚ support for the “three-strikes” crime laws—the sole basis for the inhumane mass incarceration of people in the United States, particularly blacks—the repeal of which the Party’s platform advocates has been met with outright enmity. And, to divert attention from this and other critical issues, the leadership has employed chicanery in their promulgation of defamatory lies about me, which they finally extended to character assaults on my supporters and critics of their unscrupulousness.

It is my sincere belief that the Green Party as it now exists has no intention of using the ballot to actualize real social progress, and will aggressively repel attempts to do so. To remain in the fray or in the Party, then, would require a betrayal of my lifelong and ongoing commitment to serving the interests of black and other oppressed people by advancing revolutionary change in America.


13) Looking at America
December 31, 2007

There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.

It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.

The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.

We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.

Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them.

The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.

Hundreds of men, swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, were thrown into a prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, so that the White House could claim they were beyond the reach of American laws. Prisoners are held there with no hope of real justice, only the chance to face a kangaroo court where evidence and the names of their accusers are kept secret, and where they are not permitted to talk about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of American jailers.

In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where “high-value detainees” were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that “experts” could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.

The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.

These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.


14) Still the Politics of Fear
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
December 23, 2007

We live, all of us, amidst what has become an almost permanent campaign. And
the central theme is the politics driven by fear—fear of the “Other” (the
immigrant), fear of each other, fear of the outside world, and fear of the

Few politicians have played the fear card with more deftness than President
Bush. No matter what one may think of him today, it took considerable skill
to convince folks to fight a country that had absolutely nothing to do with
9/11—to fight it, bomb it, occupy it, and then dare to try to remake it.

And while it's certainly true to call it a disastrous policy, it's also true
that, in large part, he's done it. This is not a statement of the rightness
of it, but a simple averment of fact. When the ravenous chickens of revenge
finally come home to roost, he'll be out of the White House, and safely
ensconced in some pricey think tank, his presidential library, or on the
board of an oil company, counting his pile.

And there's the payoff from the politics of fear—it works.

When you try to stoke the flames of fear, it catches on in the minds of many
Americans. And why shouldn't it? There's a long history of just this tactic
in American politics. As Russian writer, Svetlana Alexisvitch has noted, "We
are turning into a civilization of fear. Because what is a disaster? A
disaster is a high concentration of fear. The commodity that our
civilization creates in the largest quantity is fear."[i] <#_edn1>

For the English and Spanish colonizers of this land, fear of the far more
numerous Indians was a constant. That fear was met by a ubiquitous campaign
of virtual genocide against red people that lasted for generations. When
Indian populations were sufficiently reduced, and there were too few to
efficiently labor as slaves, white colonies began the infamous transatlantic
slave trade, which brought millions of Africans to these shores.

With this change of conditions came a change in the focus of the object of
the politics of fear: Black people. Anyone who has studied southern politics
from the 17th to the 20th centuries has seen masters of these politics at

Today, that same politics has considerable potency, as we utilize codes that
disguise our meaning, while still tapping into the deep American well of
fear. Post 9/11, we have seen most of that traditional fear transmuted into
a dread of brown people (as in Arabs, and occasionally, Mexicans). Today, we
are awash in political shorthand that sufficiently communicates loads in
little more than a word: illegal immigration; borders; crime; and the phrase
that has come to define our era (even as it has lost a good deal of its
juice of late), the so-called “Global War on Terror.”

The corrosive politics of fear continues, as long as politicians ply that
set of wares.

[i] <#_ednref1> Source: Pan America: A Journal for Writers and Readers. (N.
Y., Pan American Center, 2006


15) In Prison, Toddlers Serve Time With Mom
Mexico City Journal
December 31, 2007

MEXICO CITY — Beyond the high concrete walls and menacing guard towers of the Santa Martha Acatitla prison, past the barbed wire, past the iron gates, past the armed guards in black commando garb, sits a nursery school with brightly painted walls, piles of toys and a jungle gym.

Fifty-three children under the age of 6 live inside the prison with their mothers, who are serving sentences for crimes from drug dealing to kidnapping to homicide. Mothers dressed in prison blue, many with tattoos, carry babies on their hips around the exercise yard. Others lead toddlers and kindergartners by the hand, play with them in the dust or bounce them on their knees on prison benches.

Karina Rendón, a 23-year-old serving time for drug dealing, said her 2-year-old daughter thought of the 144-square-foot cell she shared with two other mothers and their children as home. “She doesn’t know it is a prison,” she said, smiling sadly. “She thinks it’s her house.”

While a prison may seem an unhealthy place for a child, in the early 1990s the Mexico City government decided it was better for children born in prison to stay with their mothers until they were 6 rather than to be turned over to relatives or foster parents. The children are allowed to leave on weekends and holidays to visit relatives.

A debate continues among Mexican academics over whether spending one’s early years in a jail causes mental problems later in life, but for the moment the law says babies must stay with their mothers. So the prison has a school with three teachers.

The warden, Margarita Malo, said the children had a calming effect on the rest of the inmates. The presence of children also inspires the mothers to learn skills or, in many cases, to kick drug habits that landed them in trouble in the first place.

And even though the prison is full of women capable of violence, the children usually walk safely among them, as if protected by an invisible shield. It is as though they tap the collective maternal instinct of the 1,680 women locked up here.

“The minors are highly respected by the population,” Ms. Malo said. “The fact we have children here creates a mind-set of solidarity. I have never seen aggression on the part of the inmates toward the children. Everyone acts as if they could be their children, and they don’t want anything to happen to them.”

Still, raising a child in prison presents a tough set of problems, mothers said in recent interviews. Those serving long sentences dread the day when they must be separated from their child because he or she has turned 6.

Others who lack financial help from relatives struggle to earn enough money in prison to care for a child. Several said they waged a constant struggle to keep their children from getting sick in the damp, drafty cells. They often have no money for the prescriptions the prison doctor gives them.

Yet, few want to give up their bright-eyed offspring to relatives on the outside. They say the children are like a breath of normal life inside the stuffy, deadening confines of the prison. “It’s beautiful,” said Victoria Jaramillo, as she held her 3-month-old daughter on her lap. “It keeps one busy.”

Ms. Jaramillo, who is 40, is serving a 20-year sentence on a drug-dealing conviction. She maintains that she was only ironing clothes in a house when the police burst in and discovered a cache of drugs. Whatever the truth, she faces the certainty that she will have to give up her daughter, Frida, in six years.

“The only thing that bothers me is I will have to lose her,” she said. Dressed in a pink fleece jumpsuit, the baby looked up at her mother with dark, innocent eyes.

A mother’s crime plays no role in the decision to let her keep a baby born in jail, the warden said. Cecilia Nava López, 25, has served two years of a 27 ½-year sentence after being convicted of causing her stepchild’s death, a charge she denies. She was pregnant with her fourth child when the death occurred, and she was incarcerated based on the testimony of the father of her children.

Ms. Nava López said it was hard to keep her spirits up, facing such a long sentence for a death she said was not her fault. But taking care of her son, Emmanuel, who is 20 months old, gives her life some meaning. “He motivates me to keep trying to improve myself,” she said.

Ms. Rendón, however, said she sometimes wished she could give her daughter to relatives to raise. No one gives her money, so she makes a living selling snacks to visitors. Her child is delicate and gets sick frequently with chest colds, she said. She said she considered the prison food unhealthy, so she buys food for the girl from a grocery store the prison allows to operate inside its walls.

“I think the best thing for my daughter would be for her to be outside with her grandmother,” Ms. Rendón said. “I have to take her to work with me.” She pauses. “But the truth is I need her. She is something very special.”

Cell doors clang open at 7 a.m. and the guards call the roll at 8 a.m. Most of the mothers live together on the bottom floor of Cellblock H. They take their children to the school at 8:30 a.m. and pick them up at 2:30 p.m. The children spend the rest of the day in their mothers’ cells or with their mothers in the exercise yards.

The school has barbed wire above a yellow sign reading Cendi, short for Centro de Desarrollo Infantil, the Center for Child Development. On a recent afternoon, the children and their mothers gathered for La Posada, a traditional Mexican Christmas celebration. They sang songs about Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to stay in Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus in a manger. Then the children broke a star-shaped piñata and scrambled after the candy. It was hard to believe that they were surrounded by prison walls.

Elsa Romero Martínez, a psychologist who runs the school, said the children showed no signs of overly aggressive behavior. There have been few reports of abuse, though one child, suffering bruises, was taken away from a cocaine-addicted mother two years ago.

The thorniest problem she and the teachers face is preparing the children and mothers for separations once the children reach 6. “We have to teach them to say goodbye to the mothers,” she said.

To show them that a wider world exists, the teachers try to take the children on field trips as often as possible. Their budget is limited and they rely on charity for the outings. They have managed only three this year — to a museum, an amusement park and a children’s theater.

Some of the mothers live in a state of limbo, because a third of the prisoners have yet to be convicted of a crime. Diana Merlos Espericueta, 24, was arrested in December 2004 on charges of being a member of a kidnapping ring. She maintains that she dated the gang leader, the father of her child, but knew nothing of his business dealings.

For three years, she has waited for a judge to decide her case. She gave birth to her daughter, Jaqueline, soon after being incarcerated and has watched her grow to become a sprightly toddler, not knowing what the future holds for them. She faces a long sentence, possibly 70 years, if convicted.

Watching her child play amid plastic balls at the prison’s school, she said she lived in a state of impotent fear. Sometimes, she said, she contemplates committing suicide if she is forced to spend the rest of her life in jail and to give up her child. “The confinement is very hard,” she said.


16) Divorce Is Easy in Cuba, but a Housing Shortage Makes Breaking Up Hard to Do
December 31, 2007

HAVANA (AP) — After 21 years of marriage, Pedro Llera and his wife, Maura, decided to call it quits. Their divorce took 20 minutes, but Mr. Llera compares what came next to “more than a year of open war in the house.”

Sleeping in the same bed and sharing a single room with their 14-year-old daughter, they battled in Cuba’s courts over who should stay in their second-floor, two-bedroom apartment in the Vedado district here.

Estranged Cuban couples sometimes remain under the same roof for years or even lifetimes, learning that while divorce on the island is easy, housing is not. The phenomenon is a testament not only to the Communist-run island’s severe housing shortage, but also to Cubans’ ability to stay friendly — or at least civil — under the most awkward circumstances.

“In a developed country, you get divorced and someone goes to a hotel and then to a new house,” said Mr. Llera, 60, a mechanic. “Here we had to keep living like a couple.”

By law, Cubans cannot sell their homes, and because the state controls almost all property, moves must be approved. Housing is so scarce, however, that often there is nowhere to go.

The government has long estimated an islandwide shortage of half a million homes. In 2006, officials reported construction of 110,000 houses, one of the largest single-year totals since the 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro. But similar home-building initiatives this year were slowed by the rising costs of materials and severe flooding of eastern Cuba.

Another Havana resident, 45-year-old Mirta, decided to divorce her husband of 18 years in 1997. The couple hired a lawyer and signed papers amicably.

But neither one could move out. A decade later, they still share the same two-bedroom apartment with their sons, now 18 and 20.

“He’s had other women but he always comes home to the same house,” said Mirta, who asked that her full name and profession not be published because she did not want to be identified publicly as complaining about Cuba’s housing shortage.

The shortage is exacerbated by failed marriages. In 2006, the latest figures available, Cuba reported 56,377 marriages and 35,837 divorces. That is a yearly divorce rate of nearly 64 percent, but it does not account for those married and divorced multiple times. Breakups are so common that Cubans joke that anyone whose parents stay together needs a lifetime of therapy.

Divorces cost about the same as getting married, $1.05. By law, there is no alimony unless either husband or wife is unemployed, and the Communist system usually lends itself to austere living devoid of expensive possessions to fight over.

Cuba was for decades officially atheist, and divorce does not carry the stigma it does in some countries. Many women who divorce return to their parents’ homes.

Some divorced couples keep living together but put up extra walls of plywood: One side is his, the other hers, and only the children move back and forth freely.

Given ownership restrictions, a thriving black market exists for home-swapping. Every day, men and women gather along a Havana boulevard, offering trades. Some bring cardboard signs reading “1 x 2,” meaning they want to swap one large apartment for two smaller ones — often because of divorce.

“Marriages end like everything else,” said a man named Luis, who was hoping to trade his small apartment for a larger one. “But the house where you live, that stays with you.”

Mr. Llera, the mechanic, claimed his home belonged to his 83-year-old father, who occupied the second bedroom. But his former wife said she had lived there long enough to stay put.

A court ruled in Mr. Llera’s favor, but the decision was overturned on appeal. As the legal battle dragged on, Mr. Llera demanded that his ex-wife sleep on the couch, and even called the police to make her comply. A higher court eventually sided with him, and his ex-wife moved in with relatives, leaving most of her clothes behind in protest.


17) Infection Hits a California Prison Hard
December 30, 2007

COALINGA, Calif. — When any of the 5,300 inmates at Pleasant Valley State Prison begin coughing and running a fever, doctors do not think flu, bronchitis or even the common cold.

They think valley fever; and, more often than they would like, they are right.

In the past three years, more than 900 inmates at the prison have contracted the fever, a fungal infection that has been both widespread and lethal.

At least a dozen inmates here in Central California have died from the disease, which is on the rise in other Western states, including Arizona, where the health department declared an epidemic after more than 5,500 cases were reported in 2006, including 33 deaths.

Endemic to parts of the Southwest, valley fever has been reported in recent years in a widening belt from South Texas to Northern California. The disease has infected archaeologists digging at the Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and dogs that have inhaled the spores while sniffing for illegal drugs along the Mexican border.

In most cases, the infection starts in the lungs and is usually handled by the body without permanent damage. But serious complications can arise, including meningitis; and, at Pleasant Valley, the scope of the outbreak has left some inmates permanently disabled, confined to wheelchairs and interned in expensive long-term hospital stays.

About 80 prison employees have also contracted the fever, Pleasant Valley officials say, including a corrections officer who died of the disease in 2005.

What makes the disease all the more troubling is that its cause is literally underfoot: the spores that cause the infection reside in the region’s soil. When that soil is disturbed, something that happens regularly where houses are being built, crops are being sown and a steady wind churns, those spores are inhaled. The spores can also be kicked up by Mother Nature including earthquakes and dust storms.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re custody staff, it doesn’t matter if you’re a plumber or an electrician,” said James A. Yates, the warden at Pleasant Valley. “You breathe the same air as you walk around out there.”

The epidemic at the prison has led to a clash of priorities for a correctional system that is dealing with below average medical care and chronic overcrowding.

Last fall, heeding advice from local health officials and a federal receiver charged with improving the state’s prison medical care, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation delayed plans to add 600 new beds out of concern that the construction might stir up more spores.

Officials at the prison blame the construction of a state hospital nearby for causing a spike in valley fever. The construction was under way from 2001 to 2005, and valley fever hit its peak here in 2006, when the disease was diagnosed in 514 inmates.

This year, about 300 cases have been diagnosed among inmates at the prison, which sits along a highway lined with almond groves and signs advertising new “semi-custom homes.” Felix Igbinosa, the prison’s medical director, said “the No. 1 reason” was thought to be the soil disturbance from new construction.

The delayed expansion here was part of a $7.9 billion plan signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last summer to relieve overcrowding in the state’s prisons. Pleasant Valley was built in 1994 to house 2,000 inmates.

California reported more than 3,000 cases of valley fever in 2006, the most in a decade. Explanations for the spike have included increased residential development and changes in weather patterns that have resulted in increased blooms of the fungus.

Other prisons in the Central Valley of California have had increases in the number of fever cases in recent years, but in none has the rate of infection been higher than at Pleasant Valley, where about one inmate in 10 tested positive in 2006.

Even allowing for the nearby construction, experts say they do not know why the disease is so rampant here.

“Is the soil surrounding Pleasant Valley different?” asked Dr. Demosthenes Pappagianis of the University of California, Davis.

“There’s a lot we still need to know about it,” said Dr. Pappagianis, a professor of medical microbiology and immunology who has been studying valley fever for more than 50 years.

Early symptoms of the disease, which is clinically known as coccidioidomycosis, mimic the flu, with symptoms that include a cough, lethargy and a fever. Most of those who become infected recover with little or no treatment and are subsequently immune.

In about 2 percent to 3 percent of the cases, the disease spreads from the lungs and can attack the bones, liver, spleen and skin.

For the 11,000 non-inmate residents of Coalinga, about 200 miles southeast of San Francisco, the disease has been a fact of life for generations. “We just deal,” said Trish Hill, the city’s mayor. “You don’t do stupid things like go out on windy days or dig in the dirt.”

Inmates appear to be especially susceptible to the disease, in part because they come from areas all over the state and have not developed an immunity to the disease. California corrections officials are preparing new guidelines for prison design, including ventilation and landscaping.

“Prisons tend to have a lot of bare dirt, and that has some security benefit,” said Deborah Hysen, the corrections department’s deputy secretary of facility planning. “But in the case of valley fever, you want to really contain the soil.”

At Pleasant Valley, officials say the outbreak of valley fever places a burden on the institution, requiring guards to escort inmates to local hospitals, where stays can last months and result in medical and security costs of $1 million and more, said Dr. Igbinosa, the medical director.

The disease also affects inmate morale, doctors say.

Gilbert Galaviz was convicted of murder and is serving a sentence of 25 years to life. Mr. Galaviz had been at Pleasant Valley for a week or so when he started to feel sick. “I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “My chest starting hurting, I had pain all over like somebody beat me up, and I would sweat bad at night.”

The cause was valley fever. After six months, Mr. Galaviz is still weak, having lost 30 pounds, and is barely able to complete a lap in the prison yard. Earlier this month, he was attacked and his jaw broken.

“It wouldn’t have been like that if it hadn’t been for valley fever,” Mr. Galaviz said, his jaw still wired shut. “They wouldn’t have got me. It would have been the other way around.”




United Nations: Assembly Calls for Freeze on Death Penalty
In a vote that made for unusual alliances, the General Assembly passed, 104 to 54 with 29 abstentions, a nonbinding resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. Among the countries joining the United States in opposition to the European-led measure were Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Opponents argued that the resolution undermined their national sovereignty. Two similar moves in the 1990s failed, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the new vote was “evidence of a trend toward ultimately abolishing the death penalty.”
December 19, 2007

Carbon Dioxide Threatens Reefs, Report Says
National Briefing | Science and Health
Carbon dioxide in the air is turning the oceans acidic, and without a reduction in emissions, coral reefs may die away by the end of the century, researchers warn in Friday’s issue of the journal Science. Carbon dioxide dissolves into ocean water, changes to carbonic acid, and carbonic acid dissolves the calcium carbonate in the skeletons of corals. Laboratory experiments have shown that corals possess some ability to adapt to warmer waters but no ability to adapt to the higher acidity. “Unless we reverse our actions very quickly, by the end of the century, reefs could be a thing of the past,” said Ken Caldeira, a scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s department of global ecology and an author of the Science paper.
December 14, 2007

Iraq: Marine Discharged Over Killing
World Briefing | Middle East
A Marine reservist, Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes, 22, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge and reduced in rank to private, a day after being convicted at Camp Pendleton, Calif., of negligent homicide in the 2006 stabbing death of an Iraqi soldier he stood watch with at a guard post in Falluja. He has served 10 months in a military prison and will not spend any more time in custody. The lance corporal’s lawyer has said that the killing was in self-defense. Prosecutors contended that he killed the Iraqi and then set up the scene to support his story. He was also found guilty of making a false official statement.
December 15, 2007

Canada: Mounties Urged to Restrict Taser Use
In a report, the watchdog commission that oversees the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recommended that Taser stun guns be used only on people who are “combative or posing a risk of death or grievous bodily harm,” much like a conventional firearm rather than a nightstick or pepper spray. The report was ordered by the government after a confused and angry Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, left, died at the airport in Vancouver after being stunned at least twice by Mounties. The report found that Tasers were increasingly being used against people who were merely resistant rather than dangerous.
December 13, 2007

Greece: Tens of Thousands March in Strike
A one-day strike by unions representing 2.5 million workers brought Athens to a standstill. Protesting planned government changes to the state-financed pension system, an estimated 80,000 people marched through central Athens. In Thessaloniki, 30,000 people rallied, the police said. The strike shut down hospitals, banks, schools, courts and all public services. Flights were canceled, and public transportation, including boats connecting the mainland with the islands, ground to a halt. More strikes are expected next week.
December 13, 2007




Russell Means Speaking at the Transform Columbus Day Rally
"If voting could do anything it would be illegal!"


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

http://video. videoplay? docid=-905047436 2583451279




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


"They have a new gimmick every year. They're going to take one of their boys, black boys, and put him in the cabinet so he can walk around Washington with a cigar. Fire on one end and fool on the other end. And because his immediate personal problem will have been solved he will be the one to tell our people: 'Look how much progress we're making. I'm in Washington, D.C., I can have tea in the White House. I'm your spokesman, I'm your leader.' While our people are still living in Harlem in the slums. Still receiving the worst form of education.

"But how many sitting here right now feel that they could [laughs] truly identify with a struggle that was designed to eliminate the basic causes that create the conditions that exist? Not very many. They can jive, but when it comes to identifying yourself with a struggle that is not endorsed by the power structure, that is not acceptable, that the ground rules are not laid down by the society in which you live, in which you are struggling against, you can't identify with that, you step back.

"It's easy to become a satellite today without even realizing it. This country can seduce God. Yes, it has that seductive power of economic dollarism. You can cut out colonialism, imperialism and all other kind of ism, but it's hard for you to cut that dollarism. When they drop those dollars on you, you'll fold though."

—MALCOLM X, 1965


A little gem:
Michael Moore Faces Off With Stephen Colbert [VIDEO]


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


"We are far from that stage today in our era of the absolute
lie; the complete and totalitarian lie, spread by the
monopolies of press and radio to imprison social
consciousness." December 1936, "In 'Socialist' Norway,"
by Leon Trotsky: “Leon Trotsky in Norway” was transcribed
for the Internet by Per I. Matheson [References from
original translation removed]


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


"There comes a times when silence is betrayal."
--Martin Luther King


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


New Orleans After the Flood -- A Photo Gallery
This email was sent to you as a service, by Roland Sheppard.
Visit my website at:


[For some levity...Hans Groiner plays Monk]


Which country should we invade next?


My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup


Michael Moore- The Awful Truth


Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments


Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


'My son lived a worthwhile life'
In April 2003, 21-year old Tom Hurndall was shot in the head
in Gaza by an Israeli soldier as he tried to save the lives of three
small children. Nine months later, he died, having never
recovered consciousness. Emine Saner talks to his mother
Jocelyn about her grief, her fight to make the Israeli army
accountable for his death and the book she has written
in his memory.
Monday March 26, 2007
The Guardian,,2042968,00.html


Introducing...................the Apple iRack


"A War Budget Leaves Every Child Behind."
[A T-shirt worn by some teachers at Roosevelt High School
in L.A. as part of their campaign to rid the school of military
recruiters and JROTC--see Article in Full item number 4,]




George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks




Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran


A Girl Like Me
7:08 min
Youth Documentary
Kiri Davis, Director, Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, Producer
Winner of the Diversity Award
Sponsored by Third Millennium Foundation


Film/Song about Angola


"200 million children in the world sleep in the streets today.
Not one of them is Cuban."
(A sign in Havana)
View sign at bottom of page at:
[Thanks to Norma Harrison for sending]



"Cheyenne and Arapaho oral histories hammer history's account of the
Sand Creek Massacre"

CENTENNIAL, CO -- A new documentary film based on an award-winning
documentary short film, "The Sand Creek Massacre", and driven by
Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho people who tell their version about
what happened during the Sand Creek Massacre via their oral
histories, has been released by Olympus Films+, LLC, a Centennial,
Colorado film company.

"You have done an extraordinary job" said Margie Small, Tobient
Entertainment, " on the Colorado PBS episode, the library videos for
public schools and libraries, the trailer, etc...and getting the
story told and giving honor to those ancestors who had to witness
this tragic and brutal is one of the best ways."

"The images shown in the film were selected for native awareness
value" said Donald L. Vasicek, award-winning writer/filmmaker, "we
also focused on preserving American history on film because tribal
elders are dying and taking their oral histories with them. The film
shows a non-violent solution to problem-solving and 19th century
Colorado history, so it's multi-dimensional in that sense. "

Chief Eugene Blackbear, Sr., Cheyenne, who starred as Chief Black
Kettle in "The Last of the Dogmen" also starring Tom Berenger and
Barbara Hershey and "Dr. Colorado", Tom Noel, University of Colorado
history professor, are featured.

The trailer can be viewed and the film can be ordered for $24.95 plus
$4.95 for shipping and handling at

Vasicek's web site,, provides detailed
information about the Sand Creek Massacre including various still
images particularly on the Sand Creek Massacre home page and on the
proposal page.

Olympus Films+, LLC is dedicated to writing and producing quality
products that serve to educate others about the human condition.


Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
7078 South Fairfax Street
Centennial, CO 80122,+Don


Join us in a campaign to expose and stop the use
of these illegal weapons


You may enjoy watching these.
In struggle


FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein


[The Scab
"After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad,
and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with
which he made a scab."
"A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul,
a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue.
Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten
principles." "When a scab comes down the street,
men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and
the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out."
"No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there
is a pool of water to drown his carcass in,
or a rope long enough to hang his body with.
Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab.
For betraying his master, he had character enough
to hang himself." A scab has not.
"Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.
Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver.
Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of
a commision in the british army."
The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife,
his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled
promise from his employer.
Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor
to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country;
a scab is a traitor to his God, his country,
his family and his class."
Author --- Jack London (1876-1916)...Roland Sheppard]


Stop funding Israel's war against Palestine
Complete the form at the website listed below with your information.


Sand Creek Massacre
(scroll down when you get there])

On November 29, 1864, 700 Colorado troops savagely slaughtered
over 450 Cheyenne children, disabled, elders, and women in the
southeastern Colorado Territory under its protection. This act
became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. This film project
("The Sand Creek Massacre" documentary film project) is an
examination of an open wound in the souls of the Cheyenne
people as told from their perspective. This project chronicles
that horrific 19th century event and its affect on the 21st century
struggle for respectful coexistence between white and native
plains cultures in the United States of America.

Listed below are links on which you can click to get the latest news,
products, and view, free, "THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" award-
winning documentary short. In order to create more native
awareness, particularly to save the roots of America's history,
please read the following:

Some people in America are trying to save the world. Bless
them. In the meantime, the roots of America are dying.
What happens to a plant when the roots die? The plant dies
according to my biology teacher in high school. American's
roots are its native people. Many of America's native people
are dying from drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, hunger,
and disease, which was introduced to them by the Caucasian
male. Tribal elders are dying. When they die, their oral
histories go with them. Our native's oral histories are the
essence of the roots of America, what took place before
our ancestors came over to America, what is taking place,
and what will be taking place. It is time we replenish
America's roots with native awareness, else America
continues its decaying, and ultimately, its death.

READY FOR PURCHASE! (pass the word about this powerful
educational tool to friends, family, schools, parents, teachers,
and other related people and organizations to contact
me (, 303-903-2103) for information
about how they can purchase the DVD and have me come
to their children's school to show the film and to interact
in a questions and answers discussion about the Sand
Creek Massacre.

Happy Holidays!

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC,+Don

(scroll down when you get there])

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