Wednesday, December 12, 2007


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

(12-11) 20:09 PST San Francisco -- The Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps gets to stay in San Francisco high schools for one more year, the district's school board decided Tuesday night.

More than 100 students packed the meeting as the board voted 5 to 2 to extend the program through the 2008-2009 school year.

Board President Mark Sanchez and board member Eric Mar voted against the measure.

The board also decided to allow JROTC courses to continue to count toward up to two years of physical education courses, which is required for graduation.

The board voted a year ago to eliminate the 90-year-old program at the end of this school year, with a majority of members then saying its connection with a discriminatory and homophobic military means it has no place in public education.

At the time of the vote, the board also required a task force to identify an alternative program to replace the popular leadership program that now serves 1,200 students in seven of the district's high schools.

That task force, however, didn't meet until April. This fall, the group - consisting of district staff as well as JROTC supporters and critics - requested an extension of JROTC at all the high schools, saying there wasn't enough time to develop an alternative by this fall.

School board member Jill Wynns said she's glad the program will continue until a replacement is identified.

"I'm pleased," Wynns said. "I think it keeps trust with the students."

JROTC fosters student leadership skills using a military command structure. The curriculum includes citizenship, the U.S. Constitution, uniform care, navigation skills and physical training including marching drills.

The district splits the $1.7 million cost of JROTC with the federal government.

A recent survey of JROTC students in San Francisco schools found that 74 percent of the 835 current and former cadets felt that the program was a place where they felt "safe and appreciated in high school." At the same time, 16 percent said they were interested in pursuing a military career.

Several people spoke out against the extension, reiterating the argument made last year that JROTC is a military recruitment tool.

"I'm really disappointed," said Martha Hubert, a member of Code Pink who opposed the extension. Students "should have a choice of better things to do."

The board vote also overturned a new district policy that would have prevented students from earning physical education credit for JROTC beginning this fall.

Most JROTC students receive up to two years worth of physical education credit. Others enrolled in the program receive elective credit.

Without the ability to fulfill PE requirements, it appeared the enrollment in JROTC would have dropped dramatically.

Still, there were questions about whether new state laws would block students from earning PE credits from JROTC.

Following Tuesday's vote, district Superintendent Carlos Garcia said his staff will be checking with state education officials to determine whether the two years of PE required for graduation can be completed through JROTC.

"We're going to have to make sure it can be done legally," he said.

Many districts, including Oakland and Los Angeles, allow students to fulfill physical education graduation requirements through JROTC.
New high school OKd

Also Tuesday, the school board approved the creation of a new high school within the district.

The Bayview Essential School of Music, Art, and Social Justice will be the first school to open under the district's small schools policy, which gives approved schools more flexibility in the use of funds and curriculum as well as fewer students than a traditional high school.

Organizers initially applied to open the school as a charter school, but switched to a small schools application in recent weeks.

The new high school is expected to be located within the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood and would open next fall.

June Jordan School for Equity, an existing high school, was the first small school approved by the board.

E-mail Jill Tucker at


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.)




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 St├ęphane 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!


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

The OCT. 27 COALITION met Saturday, November 18. After a long discussion and evaluation of the Oct. 27 action, the group decided to meet again, Sunday, January 6, at 1:00 P.M. at CENTRO DEL PUEBLO, 474 Valencia Street, SF (Near 16th Street) to assess further action.

Everyone felt the demonstration was very successful and, in fact, that the San Francisco demonstration was the largest in the country and, got the most press coverage. Everyone felt the "die in" was extremely effective and the convergence added to the scope of the demonstration.

Please keep a note of the date of the next coalition meeting:
Sunday, January 6, 1:00 P.M.


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




1) Supreme Court Says Crack Sentences Can Be Reduced
Filed at 12:03 p.m. ET
December 10, 2007

2) The Neediest Cases
When Part-Time Work Isn’t Enough to Pay the Rent
December 10, 2007

3) Advertising: The ’60s as the Good Old Days
December 10, 2007

4) Pete Seeger and the ‘One Blue Sky Above Us’
By Andrew C. Revkin

5) Forest Loss in Sumatra Becomes a Global Issue
December 6, 2007

6) Medicare Cuts Payout on 2 Cancer Drugs
December 7, 2007

7) Justice in Sentencing
December 12, 2007

8) Wall Street's Bad Boys and Their Washington Enablers
Banksters Gone Wild
December 7, 2007


1) Supreme Court Says Crack Sentences Can Be Reduced
Filed at 12:03 p.m. ET
December 10, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Monday said judges may impose shorter prison terms for crack cocaine crimes, enhancing judicial discretion to reduce the disparity between sentences for crack and cocaine powder.

By a 7-2 vote, the court said that a 15-year sentence given to Derrick Kimbrough, a black veteran of the 1991 war with Iraq, was acceptable, even though federal sentencing guidelines called for Kimbrough to receive 19 to 22 years.

''In making that determination, the judge may consider the disparity between the guidelines' treatment of crack and powder cocaine offenses,'' Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her majority opinion.

The decision was announced ahead of a vote scheduled for Tuesday by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets the guidelines, that could cut prison time for up to an estimated 19,500 federal inmates convicted of crack crimes.

The Sentencing Commission recently changed the guidelines to reduce the disparity in prison time for the two crimes. New guidelines took effect Nov. 1 after Congress took no action to overturn the change. Tuesday's vote is whether to apply the guidelines retroactively.

In a separate sentencing case that did not involve crack cocaine, the court also said judges have discretion to impose more lenient sentences than federal guidelines recommend.

The cases are the result of a decision three years ago in which the justices ruled that judges need not strictly follow the sentencing guidelines. Instead, appellate courts would review sentences for reasonableness, although the court has since struggled to define what it meant by that term.

The guidelines were established by the Sentencing Commission, at Congress' direction, in the mid-1980s to help produce uniform punishments for similar crimes.

Justice Samuel Alito, who dissented with Justice Clarence Thomas in both cases, said that after Tuesday's decisions, ''Sentencing disparities will gradually increase.''

Kimbrough's case did not present the justices with the ultimate question of the fairness of the disparity in crack and powder cocaine sentences. Congress wrote the harsher treatment for crack into a law that sets a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence for trafficking in 5 grams of crack cocaine or 100 times as much cocaine powder. The law also sets maximum terms.

Seventy percent of crack defendants are given the mandatory prison terms.

Kimbrough is among the remaining 30 percent who, under the guidelines, get even more time in prison because they are convicted of trafficking in more than the amount of crack that triggers the minimum sentences.

''A reviewing court could not rationally conclude that it was an abuse of discretion'' to cut four years off the guidelines-recommended sentence for Kimbrough, Ginsburg said.

In the other case, the court, also by a 7-2 vote, upheld a sentence of probation for Brian Gall for his role in a conspiracy to sell 10,000 pills of ecstasy. U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt of Des Moines, Iowa, determined that Gall had voluntarily quit selling drugs several years before he was implicated, stopped drinking, graduated from college and built a successful business. The guidelines said Gall should have been sent to prison for 30 to 37 months.

''The sentence imposed by the experienced district judge in this case was reasonable,'' Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, David Souter, Ginsburg and Stevens formed the majority in both cases.

The cases are Kimbrough v. U.S., 06-6330, and Gall v. U.S., 06-7949.


2) The Neediest Cases
When Part-Time Work Isn’t Enough to Pay the Rent
December 10, 2007

Some days, Adelle Doulin feels as if she is on a treadmill. No matter how fast she runs, she cannot get ahead.

On a recent afternoon, Ms. Doulin left the office building where she works on lower Broadway and walked though the narrow streets of the financial district. At a coffee shop near the massive stone vaults of the Federal Reserve Bank, Ms. Doulin worried about how she would make her monthly rent of $1,500.

“If I could just catch up,” she said.

Ms. Doulin, 45, has held clerical and administrative positions at banks and financial firms for 20 years, but a series of job losses has left her behind on her rent. Ms. Doulin, a single parent with a 10-year-old daughter, fears that if she cannot make her payments, she will be evicted from her apartment in the High Bridge neighborhood in the Bronx.

“I have lived there for 17 years,” she said. “It is a nightmare.”

She took a buyout several years ago to care for her mother, who was suffering from diabetes. After her mother died, Ms. Doulin went back to work, but could not find a full-time job. Since then, she has worked for temporary agencies.

“There are not many job openings right now,” she said. “Most companies are using temps.”

Ms. Doulin says the work is fine but temporary jobs do not offer the same benefits she received as a full-time worker.

“As a temp, I don’t get holidays or sick days,” she said. “I don’t have medical benefits. If I get sick, I would have to go to the emergency room.”

Ms. Doulin has an assignment performing data entry and back-office tasks for a bank. She takes the subway to work after taking her daughter, Sekai, to school. Ms. Doulin’s brother picks up Sekai after dismissal and stays with her until Ms. Doulin returns home in the evening.

Ms. Doulin has a high school diploma and a number of credits toward her college degree, but like many single parents, she does not have a lot of time for outside interests. Money is also tight. Recently, she took Sekai skating at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.

“I work and I take her around,” Ms. Doulin said. “She is my hobby.”

After meeting with a social worker from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, one of the seven agencies supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, Ms. Doulin got money from the fund to catch up on her rent in April. But a drop in work hours over the summer caused her to fall behind again this autumn. Representing herself in housing court, Ms. Doulin won some extra time to make up the missing rent payments, but is unsure how to make the money she needs.

Ms. Doulin now holds a steady long-term assignment, so right now paying the rent is not a problem. But she owes $2,500 in back rent and fees, and is worried about getting that money.

“If I could catch up, I could keep up with it,” she said. “I can’t pay the back rent and the current rent; I just can’t.”

At a hearing in housing court the day before Thanksgiving, Ms. Doulin delivered an additional $1,000 to her landlord. She plans to make smaller payments to try to make up the amount she owes, but fears she will fall further behind when the next payment comes due.

“What I will do is: Every week when I get paid I will send them something,” she said. “But then December is going to roll around.”

Ms. Doulin paused, trying to think of a solution that had evaded her so far.

“I need some help, but I don’t really know where to go,” she said softly.

Time was up, and Ms. Doulin had to hurry back to work. Rain dripped from a sidewalk shed as she hurried along Nassau Street.

“I really like the apartment I am in now,” she said. “It is really nice, and I don’t want to leave. But if it comes down to that, it is going to happen.”


3) Advertising: The ’60s as the Good Old Days
December 10, 2007

IF you remember the ’60s, as a popular saying goes, you probably weren’t there. No matter. Madison Avenue is taking you back with a skein of campaigns celebrating sights and sounds of the decade.

The ads are filled with images like Volkswagen buses festooned with groovy graffiti, daisies and other power flowers, peace signs, psychedelic drawings in DayGlo colors and hair, long beautiful hair, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen (to quote a lyric from the era).

Music, too, is being used to invoke the 1960s. Commercials on television, radio and the Internet play tunes like “Daydream” by the Lovin’ Spoonful (1966), “Gimme Some Lovin’ ” by the Spencer Davis Group (1967) and “On the Road Again” by Canned Heat (1968).

The trend may have started in summer 2006 when Ameriprise Financial introduced a campaign with Dennis Hopper, a symbol of the counterculture for his roles in films like “Easy Rider.” It has since expanded to brands like Geico insurance, Lucky jeans, Total cereal and U. S. Trust.

What is most intriguing about the trend is that the ads present many of the contentious aspects of the ’60s — the protests, the hippies, the challenge to authority — in a positive, even romanticized light.

For instance, a trippy-looking commercial for Total, sold by General Mills, begins, “The ’60s were about change, defying convention,” and ends by proclaiming the cereal as the best breakfast “for mind and body.”

During the ’60s, mass marketers avoided such language, fearful of alienating mainstream consumers. The approach is also a far cry from the demonization of the decade that still pervades political advertising, as evidenced by recent commercials for Senator John McCain that attacked Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as a product of the ’60s culture.

“There are a lot of good things that came out of the ’60s,” said Larry Meli, president and chief operating officer at the AmericanLife TV Network in Washington. “It’s time to point them out.”

AmericanLife TV, which offers reruns of ’60s series like “Lost in Space” and “Mission: Impossible,” is changing its logo to a daisy from a star. The switch is meant to remind baby boomers of the “flower power” slogan as well as a commercial from the 1964 presidential campaign, titled “Daisy,” that portrayed Barry M. Goldwater, who ran against Lyndon B. Johnson, as a warmonger.

“Being more precisely relevant to the audience you’re trying to address is a good thing,” said Ted Ward, vice president for marketing at Geico in Washington, part of Berkshire Hathaway. “There’s a huge opportunity in the baby-boomer group for us to continue to grow our business.”

Geico is running a commercial and a print ad depicting a VW bus decorated with phrases like “right on” and “far out.” The ads are created by the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., part of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

“Having been from that era, I can relate,” Mr. Ward said, although, he joked, “I never owned that bus.” His Volkswagens of choice, he recalled, were two Beetles and a Karmann Ghia.

U. S. Trust, part of Bank of America, also displays a VW bus in a campaign by another Interpublic agency, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston. The ads depict a wealthy man today and flash back to show him decades ago, surrounded by friends, inside a bus on a beach.

“The most valuable car in his collection isn’t the Ferrari, the Cobra or the Aston Martin,” a headline declares, “but a 1968 bus.” (Actually, the owner seems to have borrowed parts from models from other years.)

For people in U. S. Trust’s intended audience, “the ’60s “was a formative time in their lives, their wonder years,” said Anne Finucane, chief marketing officer at Bank of America in Boston.

The bus is a symbol “of the values you grew up with, the values that made you successful and the values you want to pass on to your children,” she added.

Indeed, the children of the baby boomers are another reason it is suddenly the time of the season for the ’60s.

“The kids are realizing what that generation was all about and what their fathers and mothers contributed,” said George Lois, who with his son, Luke, is creating a campaign for AmericanLife TV that carries the theme “For baby boomers and their babies.”

The campaign, from an agency in New York aptly named Good Karma Creative, pairs parents and offspring, like the actress Susan Sarandon and her daughter, Eva Amurri; Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair magazine, and his son, Ash; and the artist James Rosenquist and his daughter, Lily.

Ms. Amurri, for example, praises the way her mother’s generation worked to “change the world” by supporting women’s liberation and opposing the Vietnam War. And Ash Carter describes how his father took part in the movements for racial equality and against the war.

The echo effect from an unpopular conflict that polarized a nation four decades ago has not gone unnoticed.

“I’d like to think that the recent trend of using hippie and flower-power songs and tracks is actually a subliminally subversive tactic,” said Josh Rabinowitz, senior vice president and director for music at the Grey Group in New York, part of the WPP Group, “tapping into a subtle yet palpable collective consumer dissent with the Iraq war.”

For those who may dispute such a political perspective, Mr. Rabinowitz offered another rationale for the music’s comeback: It sounds good.

The songs appeal to a younger demographic as much as they do to boomers, he said, because they are reminiscent of the “indie-inflected” songs heard on TV series like “Grey’s Anatomy” and in films like “Garden State.”

Reactions to the ads are so far predominantly positive, the executives say.

“A lot of people are noticing” the Total campaign, said Ann Hayden, worldwide creative director on the General Mills account at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, part of the Publicis Groupe.

“It gives us a starting point for getting people to rethink the brand,” she added.

At Geico, which closely tracks the response to its campaigns, Mr. Ward said the VW bus ads “are working.”

For U. S. Trust, Ms. Finucane said, there will be “more ads coming” with a ’60s vibe because “many of our customers identify with it.”

There may also be ads aimed at wealthy investors who fondly recall the ’70s. Asked if they will use symbols of that decade, like spinning disco balls, Ms. Finucane replied, “I hope not.”


4) Pete Seeger and the ‘One Blue Sky Above Us’
By Andrew C. Revkin

I went to talk to a folk singer about global warming over the weekend. There are some who would say that that’s silly, even irresponsible, given the weighty scientific and economic issues that lie at the interface between energy policy and the atmosphere.

But actually, a folk singer — in this case Pete Seeger — has just as legitimate a place at the table as a first grader, a retiree, a coal-industry lobbyist, a climate scientist or one of the diplomats negotiating in Bali over how to revive an ailing climate treaty.

That’s because the debate over next steps is as much about values as data. The consequences of various decisions over greenhouse gases are framed by science. But choices made by countries, communities and individuals are being shaped by a mix of history, geographic circumstance, money and – especially – values.

Mr. Seeger, at 88, has for many decades been writing and performing songs exploring values and rights, the interplay of people and the planet, and what one community or generation owes another. Whatever you think of his views, he’s clearly part of the national and global conversation.

At a climate rally on Saturday in his hometown, Beacon, N.Y., he sang “My Rainbow Race,” a 1967 song that has become something of an anthem for climate campaigners of late because the lyrics speak of the atmosphere (and oceans) as shared resources.

One blue sky above us,
One ocean lapping all our shores,
One Earth so green and round,
Who could ask for more?

They also, in classic Pete Seeger fashion, toss a dart at those impeding change.

Some folks want to be like an ostrich,
Bury their heads in the sand.
Some hope that plastic dreams
Can unclench all those greedy hands.

And they speak of intergenerational obligations, which I explored here not long ago in a post asking “What does the present owe the future?”

Go tell, go tell all the little children.
Tell all their mothers and fathers, too –
Now’s our last chance to learn to share
What’s been given to me and you.

It’s not just banner-waving environmentalists and banjo-plucking folkies who see values as a key to the climate question. Last week, Jerry Taylor, a scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute, chided a group of climate scientists for issuing a call in Bali for sharp cuts in greenhouse gases, saying their expertise in climate science gave them no special standing to dictate how society should respond to warming.

In the meantime, how do you personally weigh the costs of changing from unfettered burning of the fuels of convenience — coal and oil — which have created so much wealth, for the sake of limiting future risks?


5) Forest Loss in Sumatra Becomes a Global Issue
December 6, 2007

KUALA CENAKU, Indonesia, Dec. 1 — Here on the island of Sumatra, about 1,200 miles from the global climate talks under way on Bali, are some of the world’s fastest-disappearing forests.

A look at this vast wasteland of charred stumps and dried-out peat makes the fight to save Indonesia’s forests seem nearly impossible.

“What can we possibly do to stop this?” said Pak Helman, 28, a villager here in Riau Province, surveying the scene from his leaking wooden longboat. “I feel lost. I feel abandoned.”

In recent years, dozens of pulp and paper companies have descended on Riau, which is roughly the size of Switzerland, snatching up generous government concessions to log and establish palm oil plantations. The results have caused villagers to feel panic.

Only five years ago, Mr. Helman said, he earned nearly $100 a week catching shrimp. Now, he said, logging has poisoned the rivers snaking through the heart of Riau, and he is lucky to find enough shrimp to earn $5 a month.

Responding to global demand for palm oil, which is used in cooking and cosmetics and, lately, in an increasingly popular biodiesel, companies have been claiming any land they can.

Fortunately, from Mr. Helman’s point of view, the issue of Riau’s disappearing forests has become a global one. He is now a volunteer for Greenpeace, which has established a camp in his village to monitor what it calls an impending Indonesian “carbon bomb.”

Deforestation, during which carbon stored in trees is released into the atmosphere, now accounts for 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientists. And Indonesia releases more carbon dioxide through deforestation than any other country.

Within Indonesia, the situation is most critical in Riau. In the past 10 years, nearly 60 percent of the province’s forests have been logged, burned and pulped, according to Jikalahari, a local environmental group.

“This is very serious — the world needs to act now,” said Susanto Kurniawan, a coordinator for Jikalahari who regularly makes the arduous trip into the forest from the nearby city of Pekanbaru, passing long lines of trucks carting palm oil and wood. “In a few years it will be too late.”

The rate of this deforestation is rising as oil prices reach new highs, leading more industries to turn to biodiesel made from palm oil, which, in theory, is earth-friendly. But its use is causing more harm than good, environmental groups say, because companies slash and burn huge swaths of trees to make way for palm oil plantations.

Even more significant, the burning and drying of Riau’s carbon-rich peatlands, also to make way for palm oil plantations, releases about 1.8 billion tons of greenhouse gases a year, according to Greenpeace officials.

But it is also in Riau that a new global strategy for conserving forests in developing countries might begin. A small area of Riau’s remaining forest will become a test case if an international carbon-trading plan called REDD is adopted.

REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, is to be one of the central topics of discussion at the Bali conference. Essentially, it would involve payments by wealthy countries to developing countries for every hectare of forest they do not cut down.

Indonesia, caught between its own financial interest in the palm oil industry and the growing international demands for conservation, has been promoting the carbon-trading plan for months.

But there are plenty of skeptics, who doubt it will be possible to measure just how much carbon is being conserved — and who question whether the lands involved can be protected from illegal logging and corruption.

Illegal logging is commonplace in Indonesia, and though the government has prosecuted dozens of cases in recent years, it says it cannot be everywhere. Companies in this remote area are cultivating land legally sold to them by the Indonesian government, but maps of their projects obtained by Greenpeace indicate that many of them have also moved into protected areas.

Critics say corruption is their biggest concern. The most famous illegal logger in Indonesia, Adelin Lis, who operated in North Sumatra, was arrested this year, only to be acquitted by a court in Medan, the provincial capital. He then left the country.

The attorney general’s office has opened a corruption investigation into judges and the police in Medan, and says there are many similar cases. “There are a number of ongoing investigations into corruption that has allowed illegal loggers from all over Indonesia to go free,” said Thomson Siagian, a spokesman for the attorney general. “In such a lucrative industry, payoffs are common.”

At the Bali conference, the Woods Hole Research Center, an environmental group based in the United States, has presented research showing that new satellite technology can make it more feasible to track illegal logging. Reports “show that radar imagery from new sensors recently placed in orbit can solve the problem of monitoring reductions in tropical deforestation, which previously was a major obstacle because of cloud cover that optical sensors can’t see through,” said John P. Holdren, the center’s director.

Such developments are good news to Mr. Helman, the villager in Riau who, using his wooden boat, has been ferrying a steady stream of foreign environmentalists and journalists in and out of the forest in recent weeks.

“I am so thankful for the recent attention,” he said, tinkering with the sputtering engine. “At times it seems too late. But I see some hope now.”


6) Medicare Cuts Payout on 2 Cancer Drugs
December 7, 2007

New Medicare rules for a small but promising class of cancer drugs may cause thousands of lymphoma patients to lose access to the treatment, which in some cases is the only therapy available to them.

The drugs’ makers and patient advocacy groups say the changes will sharply cut reimbursement for the medicines next year, and they predict that many hospitals will stop offering the treatments. The Medicare changes come just as new data provides additional evidence that the medicines, called Bexxar and Zevalin, are effective.

The drugs are given to treat non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the fifth-most-common cancer, and are usually prescribed for patients who have not responded to other therapies and who have few remaining treatment options. Clinical trial data show that they put the disease into remission for years in many of those patients.

Under the new rules, after Jan. 1, Medicare will reimburse hospitals about $16,000 for each treatment with the drugs, which a patient needs to receive only once. GlaxoSmithKline, which markets Bexxar, says it is priced at almost $30,000 a treatment, and Biogen Idec, which sells Zevalin, says it costs nearly as much. While high, such prices are not unusual for new cancer therapies, which can cost $50,000 or more for a year of treatment.

Senior Medicare officials say they are not trying to prevent hospitals from giving Bexxar and Zevalin. They say that $16,000 is a fair price and is based on the actual prices hospitals have paid for the medicines this year.

Zevalin was introduced in 2002, and Bexxar in 2003. Until now, Medicare has reimbursed each hospital claim individually, without setting a single nationwide price for the drug. The practice has resulted in wildly varying reimbursement, Medicare says.

But the companies say Medicare’s data must be inaccurate and that no hospital will offer the drugs to Medicare patients if it is losing $10,000 or more on each treatment.

Hospitals typically do not disclose their reimbursement rates, or whether they make money on any given treatment. The American Hospital Association declined to comment on the matter.

Under federal rules, hospitals that do not offer a drug to Medicare patients are barred from offering it to other patients, even if their insurers fully cover the cost of treatment. Because Bexxar and Zevalin contain radioactive material, the drugs must be administered by specially licensed technicians and doctors. They are usually given in hospitals.

Sarah Alspach, a spokeswoman for Glaxo, said the company had voluntarily submitted its pricing data to Medicare to prove that the hospital claims data was wrong. “Our feeling is there is a flaw in the methodology,” Ms. Alspach said.

Doctors, lymphoma patients and advocacy groups say they do not understand Medicare’s decision. About 60,000 people are diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma every year, and 20,000 people die of the disease.

“The explanation that they’re giving is really flawed,” said Dr. Mark Kaminski, the co-director of the leukemia and lymphoma transplant program at the University of Michigan. Dr. Kaminski helped discover Bexxar two decades ago and receives a royalty for it.

Bexxar and Zevalin are part of a new class of drugs called radioimmunotherapies. They combine a radioactive particle with a biologically engineered molecule that attaches to cancerous white blood cells.

In clinical trials, they have proven as good as or better than standard treatments for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. In a trial of 414 patients scheduled to be discussed next Monday at a hematology conference, the combination of Zevalin and chemotherapy put lymphoma into remission for three years on average, compared with one year for chemotherapy alone.

Marion Swan, a spokeswoman for the Lymphoma Research Foundation, says the drugs are the only option for some patients. “Our No. 1 concern is that patients have access to all viable treatment options,” she said, “and it looks like this might be denying access.”

The drugs can require private cancer doctors to transfer their patients to hospitals, and the private doctors may view the hospitals as competitors. As a result, fewer than 10 percent of patients who are candidates for the drugs get them.

Advocates for the drugs had hoped that new clinical trial evidence, like the Zevalin data that will be presented next week, would persuade more doctors to prescribe them. Now they worry that Medicare’s decision will end most use of the drugs and chill the development of other radioimmunotherapies.

“If you can’t get two products that basically hit home runs into the marketplace, there’s very little incentive for further development,” Dr. Kaminski said.

Herb B. Kuhn, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency overseeing Medicare, said that the agency recognized the value of the drugs. But, he said, Medicare does not want to overpay for the medicines and believes that hospital data is the most accurate way to set reimbursement.

But most other drugs administered via injection in doctors’ offices or hospital outpatient clinics — as Bexxar and Zevalin are — are not reimbursed on the basis of what hospitals say they have paid. Instead, companies report the average price of their drugs to Medicare. Medicare then reimburses doctors and hospitals at that price, plus a 6 percent fee to cover handling costs.

GlaxoSmithKline said it had asked Medicare to switch to that system for Bexxar. So far, Medicare has refused.

Lymphoma patients, meanwhile, are anxiously watching the fight between Medicare and the companies.

Lora Beckwith, 66, first learned she had the disease in 2004. So far, her illness has progressed slowly, but last month, she was told that she would probably need treatment by February.

Because Ms. Beckwith, who lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., has Parkinson’s disease, she cannot receive standard chemotherapy for the disease, making Bexxar and Zevalin among her only alternatives. Now she fears she may not be able to get them.

“I’m not usually a vengeful or resentful person,” she said. “But I am feeling a bit resentful about having this taken away — if I can’t have access to a drug that would extend my life.”


7) Justice in Sentencing
December 12, 2007

With a pair of 7-2 rulings this week, the Supreme Court struck a blow for basic fairness and judicial independence. The court restored a vital measure of discretion to federal trial judges to impose sentences based on their assessment of a particular crime and defendant rather than being forced to adhere to overarching guidelines.

Beyond that, one of the rulings highlighted the longstanding injustice of federal guidelines and statutes imposing much longer sentences for offenses involving crack cocaine, which is most often found in impoverished communities, than for offenses involving the chemically identical powdered cocaine, which is popular among more affluent users.

The rulings provide fresh impetus for Congress to rewrite the grotesquely unfair crack cocaine laws on which the federal sentencing guidelines are partly based. Those laws are a relic of the 1980s, when it was widely but wrongly believed that the crack form of cocaine was more dangerous than the powder form. We are pleased that the United States Sentencing Commission recently called for reducing sentences for some categories of offenders and has now called for applying the change retroactively. The real work still lies with Congress, which needs to rewrite the law.

Building on a 2005 decision that held the sentencing guidelines to be advisory rather than mandatory, the new rulings affirm that the guidelines are but one factor to be considered by a trial judge in arriving at an individual sentence, and that an appeals court must have a strong reason to overturn that sentence.

In one of the cases, the justices supported a district judge in Virginia who gave a military veteran convicted of crack dealing a sentence of 15 years, rather than the 19-22 years that the guidelines recommended. The ruling described the federal crack law as “disproportionate and unjust.” Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated that it would not be an abuse of a discretion for a trial judge to conclude that the crack/powder disparity resulted in a longer-than-necessary sentence for a particular defendant.

In the other case, the court found that a trial judge was within his rights to impose a light sentence on a man briefly involved in selling the drug Ecstasy while in college. In reviewing sentences, wrote Justice John Paul Stevens for the majority, appellate courts must apply a deferential abuse-of-discretion standard to trial judges’ decisions.

There is a danger that the new procedures outlined by the court could end up making federal sentences unfairly disparate across the country, undermining one of the important objectives of having sentencing guidelines in the first place. If that happens, Congress will have to address the problem. For the moment, the Supreme Court’s latest adjustment in sentencing strikes us as a positive development, one with much potential for advancing justice.


8) Wall Street's Bad Boys and Their Washington Enablers
Banksters Gone Wild
December 7, 2007

Imagine you moved in next door to a mischievous child. Over the years, you watched the parents scold ever so lightly as the deviant behavior grew from stealing loose change to petty larceny to bank robbery. You knew for sure the child would eventually get caught and end up in prison; but you didn't count on one thing: the parents used their political clout with each ratcheting up of the crimes to avoid prosecution, effectively turning the overseers of the public interest into criminal enablers. As the enablers "fixed" the outcome of each crime, they also sealed the records from public view and historical perspective.

That scenario typifies how criminal behavior has exploded on Wall Street and why President Bush, Congress and the regulators are stumbling around in the dark looking for cures for a financial crisis that they can neither understand nor contain: they're enablers in denial.
Nothing more dramatically illustrates the criminal contagion than the fact that for the second time in 13 years, Orange County, California has found Wall Street toxic sludge threatening its public funds.

Here's what happened the first time around: a Merrill Lynch stockbroker, Michael Stamenson, sold billions of dollars of complex securities to Orange County, which ran a pooled investment fund for close to 200 cities and school districts in the county. The county lost $1.7 billion when the highly leveraged fund imploded, the county filed bankruptcy, resulting in serious job losses and cutbacks in social services to the poor. In all, Merrill made approximately $100 million in fees with Stamenson collecting $4.3 million in just the two-year period of '93 and '94.

Stamenson was immortalized in evidence produced in court as the star of a Merrill Lynch training tape for rookie brokers where he maps out the road to success on Wall Street: '' the tenacity of a rattlesnake, the heart of a black widow spider and the hide of an alligator.''

As the evidence against Stamenson and higher ups at Merrill played out in court, Merrill Lynch continued to pay annual compensation of $750,000 to Stamenson and eventually settled the case for $400 million and sealed the documents. It also paid $30 million to the county to settle and abruptly end a grand jury investigation, leading to loud cries of foul play. Once again, the documents and testimony were sealed from public view. This is what consistently happens on settlement when a customer or employee attempts to sue a Wall Street firm and is ushered instead into a Wall Street Star Chamber called mandatory arbitration.

Today, Orange County is hardly an isolated case of banksters gone wild. The same type of sludge sits in public funds for schools, cities and pensions from coast to coast.

A Local Government Investment Pool in Florida recently saw a run on its assets after it was revealed that $1.5 billion of defaulted and downgraded debt, courtesy of Wall Street, was part of this supposedly safe money market fund for hundreds of towns and school districts in Florida.

Even four small Norwegian towns near the Artic Circle have lost $64 million from complex securities created by Citigroup and sold to them by a local broker, Terra Securities. Additionally, billions of dollars of the sludge sit stealthily in Mom and Pop money market funds at some of the largest and most prestigious financial institutions in the U.S.

And if the situation were not dangerous enough, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, has misdiagnosed the problem (wittingly or unwittingly). Mr. Paulson would have you believe that if he can help enough people avoid foreclosure on their homes, by changing their teaser mortgage rate to a fixed rate on their subprime loan, he will have taken a big step forward in alleviating the financial crisis. While any constructive step to keep people in their homes is to be applauded, what is blowing up all over the globe is not just subprime mortgages. The real problem arises from Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs) and Special Purpose Entities (SPEs) which, just like Enron, hide enormous amounts of debt from public scrutiny, making companies appear more profitable and solvent than they really are.

Mainstream media has also been implanting the idea that it's all about homeowners and mortgage loans instead of banksters hiding bad debt. On December 5, 2007, the Associated Press, which is syndicated to newspapers across the country, carried this inaccurate statement: "SIVs are investment funds created by banks like Citigroup Inc. or HSBC Holdings PLC and sold to investors. The funds borrow short-term money and use it to buy mortgage debt, profiting off the difference between what they collect on the mortgage debt and what they pay to borrow." [Italicized emphasis added.]

Mortgage debt? According to Citigroup, the largest purveyor of the black hole SIVs with over $83 billion in seven SIVs as of September 30, 2007, 58% of its SIV holdings is financial institution debt, with 32% mortgage related, 5% student loans, 4% credit cards and 1% other. It goes on to say that just $70 million of this $83 billion has indirect exposure to U.S. subprime assets. On November 30, 2007, Moody's put on review for possible downgrade (as well as actual downgrades on some securities) debt totaling $64.9 billion that was issued by six Citigroup SIVs. [1]

In other words, financial institution debt, together with imploding mortgages, off balance sheet mountains of debt and the worst transparency we've had since 1929, are the full set of problems.

Why would positioning this crisis by the President or U.S. Treasury Secretary as a subprime mortgage problem be preferable to laying out the full scope of the crisis to the American people?

To state the truth would be admitting that the Bush administration and its crony capitalists failed to properly audit the largest banks in America; failed to pay attention as they stashed hundreds of billions of dollars off their balance sheets in a replay of Enronomics; failed to prosecute the banksters when they parked this toxic waste in Mom and Pop money market funds across the country; and failed to jail the banksters before they burned down the bank and became a global threat to financial stability.

Now, these very same banks don't know what's hidden off each others balance sheets, how much their largest industrial customers have hidden off balance sheet, courtesy of Citigroup's propensity to set up SPEs for others; if the bank that is a counterparty to its credit-default swaps is going to be in business when those insurance policies are most needed. Therefore, they say, we'll just stop doing business with each other since we're all guilty by association with the same corrupt enablers in Washington.

And while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Reserve Board (FRB), and Congress bear much blame for the financial crisis, the Office of the Controller of the Currency (OCC) stands out as the quintessential enabler of corruption on Wall Street.

Consider the July 25, 2007 testimony of the Consumer Federation of America on behalf of itself and other leading consumer groups to the Committee on Financial Services in the U.S. House of Representatives:

Any discussion about the quality of federal financial services regulation must begin by mentioning the “elephant in the living room....” The Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Watters vs. Wachovia Bank, N.A., upheld a regulation by the Department of Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) that permits operating subsidiaries of national banks to violate state laws with impunity. The court ruled that the bank’s operating subsidiary is subject to OCC superintendence – even if there effectively is none – and not the licensing, reporting and visitorial regimes of the states in which the subsidiary operates...The OCC has even sought to prevent state attorneys general and regulators from enforcing state laws that it concedes are not preempted. The recent court ruling encourages national banks and their subsidiaries to ignore even the most reasonable of state consumer laws.

To underscore that the overarching problem here is an interbank crisis of confidence over black holes of corruption and crony regulation, rather than the narrowly defined "subprime mortgage mess," let's look at the time line of what happened. Beginning this past July, the credit-default swaps of a British bank, Northern Rock, begin to tick higher; by August, they made an additional sharp move upward, signaling a solvency problem. In September, there's a run on the bank (the first in Britain since 1866). The bank collapses and the Bank of England has to use taxpayer money to bail it out to the tune of approximately 29 billion pounds or close to $60 billion.

What does that have to do with a U.S. financial crisis? As it turns out, this small bank of 6,000 employees has set up Channel Island-based debt structures called Granite, stuffed them with $104 billion of U.K. residential mortgages (which are now showing an increasing propensity to default). Adding further intrigue and local outrage, the offshore trust named a charity for Down's Syndrome children as part of its funding subterfuge, without the permission or knowledge of the charity. This has sparked a full scale investigation by British authorities.

Terrifying banks on this side of the Atlantic is the knowledge that (1) two of our biggest Wall Street firms, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, underwrote tens of billions of that Channel Island paper, Granite Master Issuer, and sold it here in the U.S.; (2) Citibank, the commercial banking unit of Citigroup, is the principal paying agent; (3) big chunks of that paper, as of SEC filings on September 30, 2007, is sitting in money markets and fixed income mutual funds in the U.S., raising some serious liability issues for Citigroup and Merrill; and (4) 30 percent of the mortgages have a loan to value (LTV) ratio of 90 to 100 percent while over 50 percent have a LTV of 80 to 100 percent. [2]

It smells Enronesque and Parmalatesque (the bankrupted Italian dairy firm) to a wide swath of the legal and banking community and given that Citigroup will finally face public trials in both of these earlier swindles next year, the timing could not be less propitious for confidence building.

The British Parliament is grilling all the players and regulators for answers to the financial crisis in public hearings while here in the U.S. we prefer to fashion remedies for a financial crisis we've yet to investigate or understand.

To recap: there has been the first bank run in 140 years in Britain. We've had the first run on a public money market fund here in Florida. The U.S. debt markets have been barely functioning for four months. Our largest banks don't trust each other.
Perhaps one of the presidential candidates could leave the campaign trail long enough to prove their leadership skills by calling for emergency hearings in Congress, the venue in which we the people pay them to do the people's work.

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no securities position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article. She writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire.
[1] Citigroup's 3rd Quarter 10Q filing with the SEC discussing its SIV

[2] Granite Master Issuer securitization filing with the SEC:




Senator Criticizes Genentech’s Limits on a Cheaper Drug
Genentech’s plan to restrict the availability of Avastin so doctors cannot use it instead of a more expensive medicine for eye disease will cost taxpayers $1 billion to $3 billion a year, according to Senator Herb Kohl.
Senator Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin, said in letters to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration that Genentech’s decision to limit access to the medicine by pharmacies that repackage drugs “is of great concern.”
He also sent the company a letter saying that his staff would investigate the restrictions.
The company, based in South San Francisco, wants specialists to buy its newer treatment, Lucentis, instead of Avastin.
November 29, 2007

Weak Dollar Propels Sales at Tiffany
The Jewelry and luxury goods retailer Tiffany & Company’s third-quarter earnings more than tripled on strong sales growth and a gain on the sale and leaseback of its Tokyo flagship store, the company said yesterday.
It also raised its earnings outlook for the full year. However, the company’s stock fell $2.32, or 5 percent, to $46.43 a share, after a morning rally, as analysts expressed caution that its Manhattan flagship store has become a temporarily disproportionate driver of sales, helped by a flood of foreign tourists who are taking advantage of the declining dollar.
The company, based in New York, said net income climbed to $98.9 million, or 71 cents a share, from $29.1 million, or 21 cents per share, a year earlier.
Sales increased 18 percent to $627.3 million from $531.8 million a year earlier, helped by a 9 percent rise in global sales at stores open at least one year.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected profit of 25 cents a share.
December 1, 2007

Israeli Court Upholds Gaza Fuel Cuts
World Briefing | Middle East
Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the government could continue cutting fuel supplies to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, which it has done since Oct. 28. But it ordered a delay on plans to cut electricity until new details are offered by the groups challenging the plan.
December 1, 2007

Canada: Man Dies After Shock From Taser
World Briefing | Americas
November 23, 2007
A 45-year-old man who had been arrested on assault charges died, about a day after the police in Nova Scotia used a Taser to subdue him. The man was the third person to die in Canada in just over a month after being shocked by Tasers wielded by police officers. Justice Minister Cecil Clarke ordered a review of the use of the hand-held stun guns following the man’s death, the latest in a series of government inquiries into the use of Tasers by the police. Widespread outrage in Canada followed the broadcast of a video last month that showed another man being shocked at least twice with Tasers at a Vancouver airport by officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The man, a Polish immigrant who appeared extremely confused on the video, died. A Montreal man also died last month, three days after he was subdued by the police with a Taser while being arrested for drunken driving.

California: Cards for Immigrants
Lawmakers have given final approval to a law making San Francisco the nation’s largest city to issue identification cards to illegal immigrants. The Board of Supervisors voted 10 to 1 to create a municipal ID program to help residents without driver’s licenses obtain access to services and feel secure dealing with local law enforcement. The measure is modeled after a program that started last summer in New Haven, Conn. Supporters say that along with immigrants, elderly people who no longer drive and transgender individuals whose driver’s licenses no longer reflect their appearances also would benefit from having the cards. The measure goes into effect in August.
November 21, 2007

Manhattan: Teachers Criticize Review Unit
Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, called for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his schools chancellor to apologize to the city’s 80,000 teachers yesterday, a day after the chancellor sent principals an e-mail message announcing the formation of teams of lawyers and consultants meant to help principals remove poorly performing tenured teachers. Ms. Weingarten said that the message seemed timed to the release yesterday of national reading and math test scores showing little progress among New York City students. “The first speck of bad news, all of the sudden they go after teachers,” Ms. Weingarten said. The mayor said yesterday that removing tenured teachers was “a last alternative.”
November 16, 2007
New York

Waterboarding and U.S. History
by William Loren Katz
"U.S. officers in the Philippines routinely resorted to what they called ‘the water cure.'"
November 14, 2007

Writers Set to Strike, Threatening Hollywood
November 2, 2007

Raids Traumatized Children, Report Says
Hundreds of young American children suffered hardship and psychological trauma after immigration raids in the last year in which their parents were detained or deported, according to a report by the National Council of La Raza and the Urban Institute. Of 500 children directly affected in three factory raids examined in the report in which 900 adult immigrants were arrested, a large majority were United States citizens younger than 10. With one or both parents deported, the children had reduced economic support, and many remained in the care of relatives who feared contact with the authorities, the study said. Although the children were citizens, few families sought public assistance for them, the study found.
November 1, 2007

Newark: Recalled Meat Found in Store
New Jersey consumer safety officials said yesterday that state inspectors bought recalled frozen hamburgers at a store weeks after the meat was recalled because of fears of E. coli contamination. The 19 boxes were bought in Union City on Wednesday, nearly four weeks after the manufacturer, the Topps Meat Company, issued a nationwide recall of 21.7 million pounds of frozen patties. Officials would not name the store yesterday because of the investigation, and investigators have not determined when the store received the meat, said Jeff Lamm, a spokesman for the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs.
New Jersey
October 26, 2007

Florida: Sentence for Lionel Tate Is Upheld
An appeals court has upheld a 30-year probation violation sentence for Lionel Tate, who for a time was the youngest person to be sentenced to life in an American prison. The ruling Wednesday by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach sets the stage for Mr. Tate’s trial on robbery charges that could carry another life term. Mr. Tate, 20, had sought to have the sentence thrown out based on procedural mistakes. Mr. Tate was 12 at the time of the 1999 beating death of 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick. An appeals court overturned his murder conviction in 2004, and he was released but was on probation. In May 2005, the police said, Mr. Tate robbed a pizza delivery man, and he was found to be in possession of a gun even before that, a violation of his probation.
October 26, 2007

Submarine’s Commanding Officer Is Relieved of His Duties
The commanding officer of the nuclear-powered submarine Hampton was relieved of his duty because of a loss of confidence in his leadership, the Navy said. The officer, Cmdr. Michael B. Portland, was relieved of duty after an investigation found the ship had failed to do daily safety checks on its nuclear reactor for a month and falsified records to cover up the omission. Commander Portland will be reassigned, said Lt. Alli Myrick, a public affairs officer. [Aren't you glad they are out there making the world safe for democracy?]
October 26, 2007

Britain: New Claim for Sovereignty in Antarctica
World Briefing | Europe
Britain plans to submit a claim to the United Nations to extend its Antarctic territory by 386,000 square miles, the Foreign Office said. Argentina wants some of it, and its foreign minister said his country was working on its own presentation. May 13, 2009, is the deadline for countries to stake their claims in what some experts are describing as the last big carve-up of maritime territory in history.
October 18, 2007

California: Veto of 3 Criminal Justice Bills
Bucking a national trend toward stronger safeguards against wrongful convictions, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed bills that would have explored new eyewitness identification guidelines, required electronic recordings of police interrogations and mandated corroboration of jailhouse informant testimony. Mr. Schwarzenegger cited his concern that the three bills would hamper local law enforcement authorities, a contention shared by several state police and prosecutor associations. The proposals had been recommended by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, a bipartisan body of police officials, prosecutors and defense lawyers charged by the State Senate to address the most common causes of wrongful convictions and recommend changes in criminal justice procedures.
October 16, 2007

Illinois: Chicagoans May Have to Dig Deeper
Chicagoans would have to spend 10 cents more on a bottle of water, pay higher property taxes and spend more for liquor under Mayor Richard M. Daley’s proposed budget for next year. Also financing Mr. Daley’s $5.4 billion budget are higher water and sewer fees and more expensive vehicle stickers for people driving large vehicles, $120 a vehicle sticker, up from $90. Mr. Daley announced his budget to aldermen, calling it a last resort to ask taxpayers for more money. His budget closes a $196 million deficit and avoids service cuts and layoffs. Budget hearings will be held, and a city spending plan will require a vote by aldermen.
October 11, 2007

Wisconsin Iraq vet returns medals to Rumsfeld
By David Solnit, Courage to Resist / Army of None Project.
"I swore an oath to protect the constitution ... not to become a pawn in your New American Century."
September 26, 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]


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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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