Saturday, June 16, 2007



Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

"JR" interviewed William Singletary on Dennis Bernstein's KPFA Flashpoints program Thursday 7 June at 5 P.M. You can listen to the audio archive of the program on the url above. The Singletary interview is about 22 minutes into the program.

William Singletary insisted that he is the "only" witness to the events that night when police officer Daniel Faulkner was shot. He states that Mumia Abu-Jamal did not arrive on the scene until about 4 or 5 minutes after Faulkner was shot.



Check it out!"


Stop the poison, heal the people: Come to the town hall meetings every Thursday, 6pm, Grace Tabernacle Church, Oakdale & Ingalls, editorial by Willie Ratcliff,



Note: Because of the importance of this call, I am keeping
it on the list as number 1 for the next couple of

1) What Should the Anti-War Movement Do Now?
A Proposal from the ANSWER Coalition
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
2489 Mission St. Rm. 24
San Francisco: 415-821-6545

2) Mumia Abu-Jamal on the Road to Freedom?

3) President or Priest?
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
June 6, 2007

4) Setback for Ill Workers at Nuclear Bomb Plant
June 13, 2007

5) The Rich Are Making the Poor Poorer
By Barbara Ehrenreich, The Nation
Posted on June 13, 2007,

6) The foul stench of Firestone
Robtel Neajai Pailey
June 2007

7) Hamas Moves Close to Full Control of Gaza
June 14, 2007

8) In Health Care, Cost Isn’t Proof of High Quality
June 14, 2007

9) Detroit Pursues Sweeping Cuts In Union Talks Big 3 Cite Wide Cost Gap With Asian Auto Rivals; Threat to Export Jobs
June 14, 2007; Page A1
Wall Street Journal

10) In Shift, Judge Eases Limits on Surveillance by the Police
June 14, 2007

11) America Comes Up Short
Op-Ed Columnist
June 15, 2007

12) U.S. to Keep Europe as Site for Missile Defense
June 15, 2007

13) White House Seems Ready to Let Hamas Seize Gaza
June 15, 2007

14) Reputed Klansman Convicted in 1964 Killings
Filed at 8:29 a.m. ET
June 15, 2007

15) Experts Advise on Combating Radicalization
June 15, 2007

16) Legislators Grapple Over How to Legalize Medical Marijuana Use
June 14, 2007

17) Palestine and the US Peace Movement – Telling it like it is!
Post June 10 DC Demonstration Update:

18) Flip Side of the Dream
Op-Ed Columnist
June 16, 2007

19) Palestinians at War
June 15, 2007

20) Fatah Seizes Public Buildings in the West Bank
June 16, 2007

21) U.S. Begins New Offensive Against Insurgents in Iraq
Filed at 9:29 a.m. ET
June 16, 2007

22) Iran Strategy Stirs Debate at White House
June 16, 2007

23) In Aftermath of Gaza Battle, Grim Realities
June 16, 2007

24) F.B.I. Investigated Politics in ’46 Lynching of 2 Georgia Couples
June 16, 2007

25) Cost of Gas and Food Rose Sharply Last Month
June 16, 2007

26) Globalization in Every Loaf
June 16, 2007


1) What Should the Anti-War Movement Do Now?
A Proposal from the ANSWER Coalition
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
2489 Mission St. Rm. 24
San Francisco: 415-821-6545

[Please note: I endorse this call wholeheartedly and
encourage everyone to sign on! --Bonnie Weinstein,]

It is an absolute responsibility of the anti-war movement
to make an honest and straightforward assessment of the
current situation and to craft a strategy that can really
make a difference. Every serious organization, and especially
those with the greatest mobilizing reach, must be asked
to avoid posturing, make an assessment and develop an
action plan that will change the political landscape
in a decisive way.

This document does not seek to address or detail the
political differences between organizations and groups.
They exist and they have been detailed often. At this
moment, there needs to be an effort at clear perspective
that focuses on one simple question: What will end the
war and occupation of Iraq and what should the US anti-
war movement do?

It is clear that the anti-war movement is not sufficiently
strong at the moment to bring this criminal and despised
war to an end. Every organization must ask why is this
so and most importantly what can be done to change the
situation immediately.

The first question to ask and answer is: Can a people's
movement in the United States overcome the commitment
of the White House, Congress and the Pentagon to authorize,
extend and finance the war and occupation in Iraq?

If you or your organization answers the question negatively
then the rest doesn’t really matter. Perhaps, individuals
can bear witness and continue to protest, but it will
be little more than an individual statement.

If the answer to the question is yes, however, we must
assess various factors and craft a strategy that will be
fundamentally different from the current path of the
anti-war movement.

Historically, wars come to an end either because one side
wins and one side loses, or the people rise in revolution
(usually as a result of a military defeat or pending defeat),
or both sides exhaust each other over a protracted period.

What is the military situation in Iraq? The US cannot
achieve military victory in Iraq. Its multiple opponents
in Iraq are not militarily strong enough to decisively
defeat the US military in the short term. If the Iraqi
population, however, were able to overcome sectarian
divisions introduced with the US occupation it is possible
that Iraq could witness a repeat of a nationwide uprising
such as the 1958 Revolution that drove the British military
out of Iraq. But the flames of division are being whipped
up every day and function as a deterrent to such a spontaneous
national uprising against the occupiers. Finally, the
US military is stretched thin but is clearly able to
continue the occupation for some time, and the anti-U.S.
opponents in Iraq are not exhausted yet by the protracted
conflict. If anything they are gathering strength and
energy as the occupation forces cannot take the strategic
initiative away from guerrilla forces.

Given this complex reality, or realities, we believe that
the U.S. antiwar movement must take strategic and bold
initiatives that change the political climate in this
country. To succeed, these initiatives must be based
on a correct assessment of where we are.

The ANSWER Coalition wants to offer its own brief assessment
of the political equation in the United States. We are
also offering a proposal to all of the major anti-war
coalitions and groups and to all of those organizations
that function on a local level

Assessment of the political situation as it regards
the Iraq war

1) The people of the country have turned decisively against
the continuation of the war. Most recognize that the war was
based on lies and most no longer believe the president and
the generals when they assure them that victory is still

2) The military situation is worsening rather than improving
in light of the so-called surge. The number of US war dead
in May 2007 spiked to the third highest month since the
initial invasion in 2003. The numbers of Iraqi dead is about
3,000 each month. Two million Iraqis have fled the country
and another two million are internal refugees.

3) The US is unable to secure its political control over
the region as is evident by what is happening in Lebanon,
Iran and Syria and its intensified destabilization campaign
towards the Palestinian people.

4) The Bush administration is increasingly isolated, at home
and abroad, because of its failure in Iraq and its inability
to regain the military initiative even with tens of thousands
of more troops. The Pentagon anticipates occupying Iraq for
decades, as it has Korea and other countries.

5) More and more U.S. soldiers, marines, veterans and the
families of service members are either disillusioned or
completely opposed to the continuation of the war and

6) The Democratic-controlled Congress voted overwhelmingly
to extend and finance the war and occupation. The calculation
of the Democratic Party leadership and the vast majority
of its elected officials in Congress is based on avoiding
at all costs taking responsibility for a pullout from Iraq
which will be perceived as a defeat for the United States
in this strategic oil-rich region. They believe that they
can secure an electoral advantage in 2008 by having the war
drag on and have the public hold the Republicans responsible
for the war. Moreover, the Democratic Party is feeding from
the same corporate financing trough as the Republicans and
they share the Bush government’s broad objective of U.S.
domination in the Middle East. Congress, under the current
circumstances, is completely committed to not ending the war
in Iraq in the next two years and probably for much longer
than that.

Assessment of the weakness and strength of the antiwar

1) There have been a growing number of anti-war protests
on the national, regional and local level during the past
six months.

2) The antiwar protests are being joined and, in some
cases, initiated by the people who have not been involved
in past demonstrations.

3) A growing sentiment of opposition and disgust to the war,
occupation (and the politicians) is building among rank and
file service members and some officers.

4) A large amount of energy and activity was directed at
Congress with the hope that the Congress would heed their
constituents' desire to end the war. When the Congress
instead voted against its constituents and with Bush
to extend the war there was a huge wave of anger, frustration
and desperation but with few available or recognized channels
for effective action.

5) Although the antiwar sentiment is growing among the
general population, the size and intensity of the
demonstrations, protests and acts of resistance does
not at all measure up to the vast magnitude of feelings
against the Iraq war among the general population.

6) The single biggest reason for this dichotomy is the
fact that the anti-war movement is badly splintered rather
than working together or in a united fashion so as to marshal,
stimulate and mobilize a truly massive outpouring of the people.

Proposal to build a truly mass outpouring of the people

If every anti-war coalition and organization came together
on a particular day, and with enough advance notice, under
the simple demand End the War Now it would be easily possible
to mobilize one million people. The political mood in the
country exists to make this happen.

So as to facilitate the greatest degree of coordination between
organizations to build a massive outpouring, the ANSWER Coalition
is not unilaterally setting a date for this potentially million-
strong march and rally. However, we recommend holding it sometime
in November of 2007, or on March 22, 2008--the fifth anniversary
of the war." In order to have such a huge demonstration, enough
time must be given to allow the organizations and coalitions
to come together and for intensive national outreach and

This period of time between now and the demonstration would
not be a period of quiet, it would be a time of intensifying
anti-war activity and education at the local and regional level
culminating in this mass action. Unfortunately, unless the
political relationship of forces changes inside the United
States or in Iraq, the war and occupation will continue
through November and beyond. We are proposing a specific
tactic that can contribute to shifting the equation.

The aim is not just one more demonstration but the largest
antiwar demonstration in US history.

A mobilization of one million people marching on Washington
DC would be the best possible trigger for an avalanche
of grassroots organizing throughout the country and among
service members and their families and veterans. It is time
for something bold and broad. Something that sends an
unmistakable message to the powers that be that the people
of the United States have entered the field of politics in
such a way as to become an irresistible force.

Each group and movement should maintain its political
independence. Each group can inscribe on its banners
a variety of slogans or ideas or demands but what will allow
us to unite for the largest mobilization of all the people
is the simple unifying demand. Whatever differences that
exist between groups, and there are many and they are important,
are not sufficient justification for preventing us from coming
together in a show of force that will change the direction
of this country. The lives of too many people, all victims
of a criminal war, are too precious for our movement to tolerate
anything that prevents us from reaching our potential
to end the war in Iraq. With determination, maturity and mutual
respect our diverse anti-war movement can unite.

We would like to hear from everyone in consideration of this
proposal. If you, your friends, or your organization support
the proposal for a unified mass demonstration aiming to bring
1 million people onto the streets of Washington DC, please
join with us and sign on, which you can do by clicking
this link or visiting
This movement has grown strong because of its grassroots
base. Let’s hear from everyone who supports this exciting

During the next week, people like you and thousands of others
can circulate this proposal, discuss it with your organization,
family and friends, and be part of the effort to make it
a reality. We look forward to hearing from you and working

Proposal by the A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism)
Coalition, May 31, 2007


2) Mumia Abu-Jamal on the Road to Freedom?

It is difficult to imagine that the systematic race
and class bias that permeate America's criminal
"justice" system could be set aside and that the
nation's most famed and innocent death row inmate and
political prisoner of 25 years, Mumia Abu-Jamal, could
win a new trial and freedom.

But that is precisely what appeared to be unfolding on
May 17 in the packed Ceremonial Courtroom of the
Federal Courthouse in Philadelphia as a three-judge
panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit, in full view of 200 riveted Mumia supporters
and others from across the country and around the
world, mercilessly queried Pennsylvania's lead
prosecutor and persecutor, Hugh Burns.

In contrast, Mumia's three-person legal team of Robert
R. Bryan, Judith Ritter, and NAACP Legal Defense Fund
amicus curiae (friend of the court) counsel Christina
Swarns appeared to have the rapt, if not sympathetic,
attention of the three judges during most the
two-and-a-half-hour proceeding. In almost every
instance Mumia's defense team responded to the panel's
questions and arguments without hesitation and with
citations buttressing their central arguments.

The day's events left little doubt that these
Judges, Chief Justice Anthony Scirica and Judge Robert
Cowen (Reagan appointees), and Judge Thomas Ambro of
the Clinton era, had carefully read the voluminous
briefs submitted by both sides and thoroughly
researched the history of the constitutional issues
involved, including the precedent-setting cases that
govern their interpretation.

Indeed, a number of the Third Circuit's previous
decisions on several critical issues that directly
pertain to Mumia's most telling arguments have marked
this court as among the few remaining "liberal"
juridical institutions in the country.

Hugh Burns was hard pressed to offer his own skewed
interpretation of Third Circuit decisions when the
judges, who had themselves authored a number of the
cases cited, were virtually staring/glaring in his
face as they peppered him with citations contradicting
his central arguments.

This appears to be the real reason why Pennsylvania's
prosecutors, looking for a more conservative panel of
judges, filed motions prior to the hearing to
literally recuse (remove) the entire Third Circuit
from hearing Mumia's appeal. The prosecutors argued
spuriously that the circuit included a judge who is
the wife of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (Rendell has
pledged to sign a third warrant for Mumia's
execution). They postulated that Marjorie Rendell's
presence, by virtue of her relation to the governor,
would constitute grounds for a future successful
appeal of the proceedings by Mumia in the event of any
decision against him.

The prosecution's effort to escape the Third Circuit's
jurisdiction was rejected, as Robert R. Byran's
response brief successfully countered that the move
was a blatant effort to circumvent the court for
political reasons. The judges also granted Bryan's
request to double the time for oral arguments,
granting each side one hour as opposed to the
traditional 30 minutes.

Frame-up trial under "hanging judge" Sabo

In a 1982 frame-up trial presided over by now deceased
"hanging judge" Albert Sabo, Mumia Abu-Jamal, an
award-winning radio journalist, was convicted of the
Dec. 9, 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer
Daniel Faulkner. The grotesque trial proceedings have
been condemned by groups ranging from Amnesty
International and the NAACP to the European Parliament
and the presidents of France and South Africa.
More than a third of the 35 Philadelphia police
officers indicted at that time on charges of
corruption, witness intimidation, falsification of
evidence, and involvement in drug peddling and
prostitution were involved in one way or another in
Mumia's case.

Judge Sabo himself was a retired member of the
death-penalty-obsessed Fraternal Order of Police and
was widely seen as "a prosecutor's best friend." Sabo
sentenced to execution a national record of 32
defendants (30 of whom were racial minorities) over
the course of his 14-year stint on the bench.

According to an affidavit filed by award-winning court
stenographer Terri Maurer Cater, she overheard Sabo
state during a Mumia trial recess period and in the
presence of another judge, "Yeah, and I'm going to
help 'em fry the n****r."

This and other evidence of racial bias was clearly
presented to the court. In one instance, said Bryan, a
Black juror with a hearing disability, who explained
that he could function perfectly well when he turned
up his hearing aid, was dismissed while a white juror
with the same disability was accepted.

The May 17 hearing began with prosecution designee
Hugh Burns presenting the state's case to reinstate the
death sentence and execute Mumia by lethal injection.
A 2001 federal district court decision by William H.
Yohn Jr. had previously voided the trial court's death
sentence based on Judge Sabo's flawed and ambiguous
oral instructions and the similar written forms
regarding mitigating circumstances sufficient to
sentence Mumia to life imprisonment rather than death.
In the face of repeated questions on this issue it
seemed apparent that Burns was losing ground with his
effort to cite cases to justify the flawed
instructions that operated to lead jurors to falsely
conclude that they had to be unanimous with regard to
each and every mitigating circumstance to find
sufficient grounds to sentence Mumia to life
imprisonment as opposed to death.

In a withering presentation of Mumia's side of this
issue, Judith Ritter detailed the flaws in Sabo's oral
and written instructions and cited chapter and verse
why similar unclear and ambiguous instructions had
been struck down by the courts.

If Mumia wins on this issue the state would be
compelled within 180 days to hold what amounts to a
new trial, except that the new jury would be barred
from finding a verdict of innocence and instead be
limited to choosing a sentence of either life in
prison or death.

Prosecutor McGill has stated that in this eventuality
the state has yet to decide if it would pursue a new
trial. Instead it might well conclude that its
interests would best be served by dropping the matter,
thereby keeping Mumia in prison for life and avoiding
having the state's frame-up further exposed with a
defense presentation to a new jury, replete with
volumes of new or suppressed evidence that prove
Mumia's innocence. Before facing such a prospect the
state has a further option, perhaps its magic weapon
in turning and defeat it might suffer into victory.
It can appeal any decision against it to that bastion
of reaction and graveyard of civil liberties, U.S.
Supreme Court.

Black jurors excluded from trial

The next critical issue in dispute was Mumia's
contention that in violation of the famous U.S.
Supreme Court decision in the 1986 case of Batson v.
Kentucky, racism guided the state's use of preemptory
challenges to exclude Black jurors. Of the 14
qualified Black jurors interviewed in Mumia's 1982
trial, prosecutor Joseph McGill eliminated 10 with
preemptory strikes, that is, removal with no stated

Of the 25 possible white jurors, McGill eliminated
only five. That left Mumia with a jury of nine whites
and three Blacks (plus four white alternate jurors) in
a city with a Black population of 40 percent. The
jury's racial composition was further altered when
Judge Sabo eliminated a Black juror already selected,
who was replaced with a white juror, for a final jury
composition of 10 whites and two Blacks.

The Black juror was dismissed after she went home in
the evening when the trial was not in session to attend
to her sick cat despite Judge Sabo's refusal to grant
her permission to do so. But permission to leave the
courtroom was not denied to a white juror for who Sabo
authorized a police escort to take a civil service exam
although it meant suspending the trial itself for a half day.

Race prejudice in jury selection by prosecutor Joseph
McGill was cited by Bryan in both Mumia's written
brief and Bryan's oral arguments. McGill, in six
murder trials, including Mumia's, had removed 74
percent of Black jurors with preemptory challenges as
compared to 25 percent of white jurors. Prior to
becoming Pennsylvania governor, District Attorney Ed
Rendell had established a two-term record of having
prosecutors use preemptory challenges to bar 58
percent of all Blacks from Philadelphia juries as
compared to 22 percent for whites.

Further, the routine exclusion of Black jurors was the
established practice of Philadelphia prosecutors, in
accord with an overtly racist 1982 State Supreme Court
decision in the case of Commonwealth v. Henderson,
which held, "The race, creed, national origin, sex or
other similar characteristics of a venireman (member
of a jury pool) may be proper considerations in
exercising peremptory challenges."

That is, a Black person in Pennsylvania could be
legally excluded from a jury panel if the prosecutor
believed that he/she would be sympathetic to a Black
defendant! Henderson was reversed at least in part by
the U.S. Supreme Court's 1986 Batson decision.
Hugh Burns' response to the data proving the exclusion
of Blacks was that it was irrelevant and technically
barred from consideration because the defense
allegedly did not present it in a timely manner, that
is, during the 1995 Post Conviction Relief Act hearing
when new evidence was supposedly open to
consideration. At that time, however, the extent of
the data was unknown and did not become known until
the case reached the federal courts.

A new twist to the issue of racist exclusion of Blacks
was added to the hearing when the presiding judges
themselves queried the defense as to the composition
of the entire venire (jury pool) from which jurors
were selected. Since no such data was available on
this matter two of the judges speculated that it was
hypothetically possible that the Black percentage of
the entire jury pool could have been so high that
McGill's peremptory elimination of 71 percent of the
Black jurors might not constitute discrimination at
all. Indeed, one judge speculated with a straight face
that it was possible that "discrimination against whites"
might be the case!

At no time during Mumia's decades of legal battles had
the prosecution itself raised such a possibility,
either in written briefs or oral arguments. The reason
is obvious. The history of jury pools in Philadelphia
had always indicated that Blacks were highly
underrepresented, as opposed to the hypothetical
scenario presented by two of the judges that the
possibility existed that Blacks could have been
over-represented. But the judges' toying with the
issue could indicate an inclination to establish a new
precedent to undermine Mumia's Batson claim.

Mumia's defense attorneys responded that even in the
absence of data on the overall jury pool, the sum
total of the evidence of discrimination they had
presented constituted a prima facie case of racial
discrimination sufficient to comply with the standards
set forth in Batson.

Should the Third Circuit affirm the state's violation
of Batson, the result could either be a new trial or
the court's sending the issue of jury discrimination
back to the previous court for an evidentiary hearing,
where the prosecution's 1982 striking of each and
every Black juror would have to be defended based on
grounds other than race. Bryan told me that such a
hearing would open the door wide to factually
demonstrate that the exclusion of Blacks was based on
racist criteria.

Perhaps the most stunning dispute of the day took
place over the defense contention that prosecutor
Joseph McGill's summation to the jury included the
statement, "If you find the defendant guilty of course
there would be appeal after appeal and perhaps there
could be a reversal of the case, or whatever, so that
may not be final."

It was here that the full force of the three-judge
panel was brought to bear. Hugh Burns was challenged
to justify why this statement did not constitute a
violation of the U.S. Constitution. The justices were
referring to the due-process clause of the 14th
Amendment of the Bill of Rights as it applies to the
Sixth Amendment's fair-trial provisions, in short, the
necessity of applying the standard that a jury must
operate with a "presumption of innocence" to be
negated only if the defendant is found to be guilty
"beyond a reasonable doubt."

The judges felt compelled to remind Burns that only
juries, bound by this standard, determine guilt or
innocence, not appeals courts, the latter being limited
to deciding issues of the common law (law made by
judicial decisions), statutory law, and associated
constitutional interpretations.

McGill's "appeal after appeal" statement to the jury
was in fact his stock in trade. In fact, a 1986
decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed a
death sentence and ordered a new trial in another case
where McGill dutifully offered the jury virtually the
same "appeal after appeal" summation.

If the present judges apply this precedent, not to
mention the constitutionally-mandated "reasonable
doubt" imperative, Mumia's guilty verdict will be
voided and he will be granted a new trial, a trial
during which all the evidence of innocence that had
been previously suppressed can be submitted to a new

Of course, should the Third Circuit take this course
of action, it is likely that the state will appeal the
decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, placing Mumia's
fate once again in the hands of the reactionary

Robert R. Bryan told this writer that "if the Third
Circuit follows the law, Mumia will be granted a new
trial," an eventuality that he believes "will result
in Mumia's freedom."

While it certainly appears that the "law" is on
Mumia's side, the conclusion that it will be applied,
as Bryan fully understands, is far from certain. "The
law, in its majestic equality," French novelist
Anatole France aptly observed, "permits the rich and
the poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the
streets, or steal bread."

A review of "the law's" record to date makes clear
that its interpretation remains in the hands of a
racist and class-biased judiciary that has to date
torn it to shreds with tortuous renditions that defy

It was Judge Sabo, whose version of "the law" was
applied nearly 100 times against defense motions
protesting his violation of Mumia's constitutional
rights, who first indicated how the system works. It
was Federal District Court Judge William H. Yohn's
interpretation of "the law" that was applied to rule
against 28 of Mumia's 29 constitutional issues
originally presented to his court. Yohn repeatedly
cited the 1996 Anti-terrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act (AEDPA), signed by President Clinton, to
justify his interpretation of "the law."

This reactionary law's central proposition for the
first time requires federal courts to grant a
"presumption of correctness" to the findings of state
courts, in this case the "legal" findings of racist
Judge Albert Sabo. It was signed by President Clinton
with his own warning that "parts of it" may be "found
to be unconstitutional." This "liberal" president was
referring to the law's abrogation of the presumption
of innocence and associated denial of the right of
habeas corpus, that is, the right to appeal injustices
to the federal courts.

The AEDPA was so named because
it was designed to make state court death penalty
sentences "effective," that is, immune from appeal to
the federal courts. Prior to its passage a full 40
percent of all state court convictions in murder cases
were reversed on appeal. Why? The record shows that
the major grounds for reversal were incompetent
counsel intimidation of witnesses and falsification of
evidence, in effect, the central issues in Mumia's

The AEDPA's new standard, applied to Mumia's appeal,
allowed Judge Yohn to eliminate from consideration the
myriad of factual and legal issues demonstrating
police/prosecution's falsification and fabrication of
evidence, intimidation of witnesses and other
atrocities under "the law" that had been buried
beneath a mountain of contrary "legal" findings over
the past 25 years.

Judge Yohn felt compelled to cite another novel
interpretation of "the law," the present doctrine that
"innocence is no defense." Authored by the U.S.
Supreme Court in the infamous Herrera case, this holds
that innocence is trumped by timeliness. If evidence
of innocence is submitted beyond a statutory deadline,
it is irrelevant. The legal process must embody
"finality," says the "law of the land" today, even if
the result is the execution of an innocent man.

Today, the truth of what happened in the fateful early
morning hours of Dec. 9, 1981, has been obliterated
from the record by a system that has reduced Mumia's
chances of freedom to the interpretations of a handful
of "constitutional issues" by three supposedly
unbiased jurists, while the vast reserve of evidence
proving Mumia's absolute innocence had been long ago
been barred from consideration.

The political stakes involved in Mumia's case are
recognized by all. The federal government itself
believed that it was necessary to inform the Third
Circuit where it stood when the House of
Representatives in the last session of the Republican
Congress passed a lying resolution condemning Mumia as
a cop killer and warning the French city of St. Denis
that its naming of a street after Mumia was
unacceptable to the U.S. government.

This is but one indication that "the law's"
interpretation extends far beyond the judiciary. All
but 31 House members approved this resolution that
pitifully stated that Mumia had exhausted all his
appeals at a time when his most important appeal was
pending before one of the nation's highest courts. So
much for the objectivity, not to mention the factual
accuracy, of the legislative branch, the same branch of
government that voted to hasten the execution of the
3500 people (mainly Blacks and other oppressed
minorities) who inhabit the death-row sections of the
profit-oriented prison industrial complex.

What really happened on the morning of Dec. 9, 1981?

The truth of that day has been largely obliterated by
countless police and prosecution manipulations and
falsifications designed to buttress a scenario that
cannot stand up to the massive accumulations of facts
that were known at the time and subsequently unearthed.
The facts are simple enough. A police officer, shortly
before 4:00 am, in a red-light district of Philadelphia,
stopped a banged-up blue Volkswagen bug with a dangling
license plate and demanded that the driver, Mumia's
brother Billy Cook, present his driver's license. Cook
did so, but gave Officer Faulkner, who had put in a call
for police back-up, a temporary license that belonged to
Arnold Howard, who had given it to Kenneth Freeman, Cook's
street-stall business partner and a passenger in the VW bug.
The license was almost immediately found by the police
in Faulkner's clothing, but only reported to the defense
12 years later.

An argument ensued and Faulkner bludgeoned Cook with his
17-inch flashlight. Mumia, parked in his taxicab a distance
away, observed the beating. He headed toward the scene and was
shot by Faulkner. Freeman then alighted from the VW and shot
Faulkner. Six witnesses say the shooter, Freeman, fled the
scene, with several describing his clothing, hair, and physical
characteristics, all vastly different from Mumia's. Mumia, near
dead, lay a few feet away from Faulkner. All the evidence
accumulated since that time proves these assertions and
disproves the prosecutions fabricated scenario (see

The 31 photographs of the crime scene taken minutes
after the shootings by photojournalist Pedro Polokoff
put the lie to the testimony of police "eyewitness"
Robert Chobert, who claimed that he viewed the murder
from his taxicab that was parked immediately behind
Faulkner's police car. There was no such taxicab

Chobert changed his testimony three times to conform
to the police scenario. The photographs recently made
public by Polokoff show conclusively that the police
manipulated the crime scene, rearranging critical
evidence and destroying fingerprint evidence on guns
found at the scene.

The critical details of the frame-up have been vividly
recounted for decades, with new evidence found just
months ago further proving their veracity. New
ballistic evidence revealed by Michael Schiffman,
a German researcher who wrote his PhD. thesis on the
case, again demonstrates the impossibility that Mumia
murdered Officer Faulkner.

What can be done today to win Mumia's freedom? In a
perfect world the solution would be in the French
tradition of 1789. Drive the corrupt modern day
monarchs of capital from their haughty palaces of
power and storm the Bastille to free the innocent,
including Mumia!

But we do yet not live in a perfect world. Our power
has proved sufficient to stay the executioner's hand
for 25 years and beat back two warrants for Mumia's
execution. It has gotten us to the point where a possible
aberration in the system has allowed the May 17 hearing
to finally expose a critical aspects of Mumia's frame-up.
But we are still far from seeing a free Mumia walk out of
his supermax death row cell at the State Correctional
Institution Greene in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.

But with the fight for one man's life, (Mumia is Everyman
and Everywoman who faces death at the hands of criminals.)
once again on the line and at center stage, we have a new
opportunity to reinvigorate our movement, broaden its base
and ensure that justice is done.

Our capacity to mobilize in unprecedented numbers and
make the political price of Mumia's murder and
continued incarceration too high to pay is central to
the work ahead. History has amply demonstrated that
all of our historic victories stem from the exercise
of our collective power. That power lies with all who
cherish freedom and despise injustice. Join the fight
for Mumia's freedom!

Jeff Mackler is the Director of the Northern California-
based Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal,; 415-255-1085.


3) President or Priest?
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
June 6, 2007

It is a year and 1/2 before elections, and already we have been treated to the spectacle of a parade of politicians, promising almost everybody everything, with promises of better, sweeter things to come.
On what passes for the left and right of acceptable U.S. politics, a plethora of candidates have proceeded to pronounce their religious beliefs, and their tacit unbelief in science - especially evolution.
Of course, in the U.S. one is free to believe or not believe in a given religious dogma. They are free to speak of it, or not.
But there is something fishy when politicians speak of their faith. They use it as an advertising tool, a campaign sign of the soul, so to speak.
What is rarely heard is how that religious belief relates to the health, education and welfare of the poorest millions who still dwell in the unseen crevices of American society.
What is rarely heard is the state and fate of those called 'the least of these'.
What is still more rare is the mention of peace.
Poverty and peace are off of the agenda. Instead, there is the muscular religion of smiting one's enemies, or jailing one's opponents, or using the power of the State to enforce their religious codes upon others, especially those who are of a different belief.
There is the aura of holy war wafting over the heads of the assembled throng, as they try to outdo each other in false piety, and the promotion of what amounts to a theocracy.
This is done not because any of the given political figures actually believes in their stated faith, but because they know that a large number of people in the U.S. do believe in faiths, and they want to capture their votes.
How could one claim to believe in a faith that preaches peace, while practicing war?
How can there be claims to justice, when there is injustice, torture, and planning for new imperial adventures?
Presidents make poor priests.
That's because the interests of priests are supposedly spiritual, while the interests of presidents are mostly temporal.
When either muddles in the other's realm, this almost inevitably leads to chaos.
In the U.S., the fastest growing religion is Islam, with adherents numbering in the millions, across a broad ethnic and racial spectrum. Although the present administration is in power, at least in part, because of a majority of their votes, can it be said that he has represented their interest?
In a nation of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Sufis, Hare Krishnas, Confucianists, Seven Day Adventists, and an almost uncountable host of others, (as well as millions who believe in no faith) whom does the president represent?


4) Setback for Ill Workers at Nuclear Bomb Plant
June 13, 2007

LAKEWOOD, Colo., June 12— A federal advisory panel recommended Tuesday that thousands of former workers at a nuclear weapons plant be denied immediate government compensation for illnesses that they say result from years of radiation exposure there.

The recommendation is a significant setback for a large number of people once employed as plutonium workers at the plant, Rocky Flats, 16 miles northwest of Denver. Their union, the United Steelworkers of America, had petitioned the Department of Health and Human Services to allow more than 3,000 of them to bypass a complex federal evaluation and compensation process established by Congress in 2000.

In that time-consuming process, sick workers from Rocky Flats and other American nuclear facilities may apply for $150,000 in compensation, plus medical benefits, if there is evidence that they suffer from any of 22 kinds of cancer linked to radiation. A worker must first file a claim with the Labor Department, a step that brings a lengthy investigation in which scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, through records, research and interviews, determine eligibility by establishing the radiation dose incurred by the worker. If the scientists are unable to determine the dose, the worker may file for “special exposure cohort” status.

It was this status that was sought by the former Rocky Flats workers. But after more than two years of hearings and debate, the panel — the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — decided on a vote of 6 to 4 Tuesday that the occupational safety scientists could accurately determine dose exposure for almost all of the plant’s former workers.

The board did recommend that a relatively small subset of the petitioning workers be allowed to receive the expedited benefits. These workers were exposed from 1959 to 1966, and the panel found that the occupational safety agency could not be expected to establish the dose for so early a period.

The board’s recommendations now go to the Department of Health and Human Services, though it is unclear when the department will rule.

“I’m stunned,” said Laura Schultz, a former plutonium worker who has suffered from cervical and kidney cancer. “We don’t have the money to keep fighting for this.”

One panel member, Dr. James Melius, a physician, called the process “grossly unfair” and said the board had had little opportunity to review the accounts of the former workers, many of whom argued that the occupational safety agency’s records were incomplete and vastly understated their illnesses.

But a member who voted with the majority, Mark Griffon, a consultant on radiation and hazardous waste, said he felt that the agency’s scientists had proved that they could accurately reconstruct the radiation dose level for most Rocky Flats workers.

“At the end of the day,” Mr. Griffon said, “I do feel like we have data.”

Rocky Flats opened in 1952 and ultimately produced more than 60,000 nuclear weapons parts. It was closed in 1989 after a raid by federal agents investigating accusations of environmental crimes on the part of its operator, Rockwell International, an Energy Department contractor. The plant was designated a Superfund hazardous waste site by the Environmental Protection Agency, and a cleanup took place from 1992 to 2005. It is now a wildlife sanctuary.

In the absence of expedited benefits, a total of 2,682 Rocky Flats workers have filed claims over their illnesses, the steelworkers union says, with 807 approved and 617 denied. The rest, 1,258, are still pending.

On Monday, more than 100 Rocky Flats workers and supporters attended a hearing of the advisory panel in this Denver suburb. Some of them — burly men with worn faces and white-haired women with slouched shoulders — told of suffering, and sometimes death, their plain-spoken narratives in sharp contrast to the data-driven discussions of board members.

Judy Padilla, who worked as a sheet metal worker at Rocky Flats for 22 years and has since had a mastectomy, told the board: “We ask neither for sympathy nor charity. All we ask for is the truth.”

Jennifer Thompson, a former Rocky Flats worker who is a spokeswoman for the petitioners, told the panel that it took an average of 742 days to process a successful claim. Sixty-seven workers have died waiting for their benefits to come through, Ms. Thompson said.

Charlie Wolf, a former project engineer at the plant who now suffers from brain and bone marrow cancer, said he had waited more than four years before his claim was approved. “It’s hard for me to even read anymore,” said Mr. Wolf, whose bald head is creased by a nine-inch scar from brain surgery related to his cancer.

Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado and all the members of the state’s Congressional delegation sent letters asking the panel to support the petition. Representative Mark Udall testified on Monday that the compensation program’s red tape left workers in a “Kafkaesque nightmare.”

Michelle Dobrovolny, 42, is one of 15 family members who worked at Rocky Flats. Four have died of cancer. Five others are sick, among them Ms. Dobrovolny herself, who has a brain tumor.

“We’re the forgotten bunch,” she said.


5) The Rich Are Making the Poor Poorer
By Barbara Ehrenreich, The Nation
Posted on June 13, 2007,

A bloated overclass can drag down a society as surely as a swelling underclass. A great deal of the wealth at the top is built on the low-wage labor of the poor.

Twenty years ago it was risky to point out the growing inequality in America. I did it in a New York Times essay and was quickly denounced, in the Washington Times, as a "Marxist." If only. I've never been able to get through more than a couple of pages of Das Kapital, even in English, and the Grundrisse functions like Rozerem.

But it no longer takes a Marxist, real or alleged, to see that America is being polarized between the super-rich and the sub-rich everyone else. In Sunday's New York Times magazine we learn that Larry Summers, the centrist Democratic economist and former Harvard president, is now obsessed with the statistic that, since 1979, the share of pretax income going to the top 1 percent of American households has risen by 7 percentage points, to 16 percent. At the same time, the share of income going to the bottom 80 percent has fallen by 7 percentage points.

As the Times puts it: "It's as if every household in that bottom 80 percent is writing a check for $7,000 every year and sending it to the top 1 percent." Summers now admits that his former cheerleading for the corporate-dominated global economy feels like "pretty thin gruel."

But the moderate-to-conservative economic thinkers who long refused to think about class polarization have a fallback position, sketched out by Roger Lowenstein in an essay in the same issue of the New York Times magazine that features Larry Summers' sobered mood.
Briefly put: As long as the middle class is still trudging along and the poor are not starving flamboyantly in the streets, what does it matter if the super-rich are absorbing an ever larger share of the national income?

In Lowenstein's view: "...whether Roger Clemens, who will get something like $10,000 for every pitch he throws, earns 100 times or 200 times what I earn is kind of irrelevant. My kids still have health care, and they go to decent schools. It's not the rich people who are pulling away at the top who are the problem..."

Well, there is a problem with the super-rich, several of them in fact. A bloated overclass can drag down a society as surely as a swelling underclass.

First, the Clemens example distracts from the reality that a great deal of the wealth at the top is built on the low-wage labor of the poor. Take Wal-Mart, our largest private employer and premiere exploiter of the working class: Every year, 4 or 5 of the people on Forbes magazine's list of the ten richest Americans carry the surname Walton, meaning they are the children, nieces, and nephews of Wal-Mart's founder.

You think it's a coincidence that this union-busting low-wage retail empire happens to have generated a $200 billion family fortune?

Second, though a lot of today's wealth is being made in the financial industry, by means that are occult to the average citizen and do not seem to involve much labor of any kind, we all pay a price, somewhere down the line. All those late fees, puffed up interest rates and exorbitant charges for low-balance checking accounts do not, as far as I can determine, go to soup kitchens.

Third, the overclass bids up the price of goods that ordinary people also need -- housing, for example. Gentrification is dispersing the urban poor into overcrowded suburban ranch houses, while billionaires' horse farms displace the rural poor and middle class. Similarly, the rich can swallow tuitions of $40,000 and up, making a college education increasingly a privilege of the upper classes.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the huge concentration of wealth at the top is routinely used to tilt the political process in favor of the wealthy. Yes, we should acknowledge the philanthropic efforts of exceptional billionaires like George Soros and Bill Gates.

But if we don't end up with universal health insurance in the next few years, it won't be because the average American isn't pining for relief from escalating medical costs. It may well turn out to be because Hillary Clinton is, as The Nation reports, "the number-one Congressional recipient of donations from the healthcare industry." And who do you think demanded those Bush tax cuts for the wealthy -- the AFLCIO.

Lowenstein notes, that "if the very upper crust were banished to a Caribbean island, the America that remained would be a lot more egalitarian."

Well, duh. The point is that it would also be more prosperous, at the individual level, and democratic. In fact, why give the upper crust an island in the Caribbean? After all they've done for us recently, I think the Aleutians should be more than adequate.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of thirteen books, including the New York Times bestseller Nickel and Dimed. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, Harpers, and the Progressive, she is a contributing writer to Time magazine. She lives in Florida.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:


6) The foul stench of Firestone
Robtel Neajai Pailey
June 2007

Slavery isn't dead, writes Robtel Neajai Pailey. Its modern-day variant is just found on a different kind of plantation

Emmanuel B is 30, a slender five foot three, and a labourer whose piercing brown eyes tell unspeakable truths. He's not the kind of slave-labourer we're familiar with from 19th-century plantations in the Deep South of the United States. Instead, Emmanuel is a modern-day plantation labourer in 21st-century, post-conflict Liberia, and the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company is his unyielding master. Like many workers on Firestone's largest rubber plantation, Emmanuel was born in Harbel, has lived in Harbel all his life, and will most likely waste away in Harbel.

As westerners drive around in their heavy-duty SUVs, propelled along on the black gold of Firestone tires, Emmanuel wakes up at the crack of dawn to tap raw latex from 800 rubber trees daily. His clothes are tattered and his shoulders covered in red puss-infected blisters from carrying buckets full of raw latex suspended from an iron pole to the Firestone processing plant two miles from his tapping site.

Emmanuel was gracious enough to demonstrate what a tapper does from sun-up to midmorning. With a pitchfork suspended in the air, he extended his long wiry arms to ease the raw latex out of the trees and into the small red cups that catch it. The drip-drip-drip of the whitecoated liquid was almost as laborious to witness as Emmanuel's daily task - another 799 trees still to go after this one. For Emmanuel and his fellow tappers, a 5am start is the only means of meeting their daily quotas; their wages are reduced by half if they fail to do so. Some have begun to use their children to complete the Herculean task.

I visited the Firestone rubber plantation for the first time in December 2006 while on a research fact-finding mission. I decided to take a break from high browed academic work, and visit the sprawling modern day encampment I had heard so many horror stories about. It's what I imagined the South to look like during the century or so of chattel slavery in the United States, with the hustle bustle activity of plantation life and the accompanying strokes of exploitation.

As my brother-in-law, Christopher Pabai, and I pulled into the one million acre - and constantly expanding - plantation, we were welcomed by an ungodly stench, a stench I can only compare to the smell of rotten cheese. Not just ordinary rotten cheese, but the kind that has been drenched in burning oil, steamrolled on a conveyor belt, and neatly packaged for nonhuman consumption. That's what raw latex smells like when it's being processed.

Rather than wearing masks to protect their noses from the assault, the plantation workers ingest the foul stench day in and day out. It took all my willpower not to retch all over Firestone's perfectly manicured lawn or lush green golf course that senior management frequents while on hiatus from their back-breaking overseeing.

But the foul stench is the least of the workers' worries.

While England celebrates its 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, plantation workers in Liberia are trapped in a time warp of monumental proportions. They exist in the parallel universe of multinational corporate checkmate, where the prize goes to the highest exploiter. Firestone has been playing the chess pieces of Liberia's rubber pawns since the company signed a concession agreement with the Liberian government in 1926 to lease one million acres of land for six cents per acre - an abominable exchange given the astronomical dividends garnered from rubber sales then and now.

In 2005, Liberia's transitional government signed another concession agreement for an extra 37 years of rubber slavery. Rubber is Liberia's largest export, and Firestone its largest international corporate exploiter, I mean employer, to date. The country and its people have paid a high price for the asymmetrical relationship.

History challenges us to stay on a forward moving dialectic of change. The Firestone example shows us that an ironic distortion of that dialectic is taking place right under our noses. Slavery isn't dead, it's manufactured in the rubber we use daily. We owe it to Emmanuel and his comrades on the Firestone Rubber Plantation to change the course of history, to make a clean break from modernday slavery and its peculiar 21stcentury manifestations. We owe it to ourselves.

For more information on the struggle against Firestone, visit the Stop Firestone Campaign website at Liberian native Robtel Neajai Pailey is a graduate student at the University of Oxford and a multi-media producer for Fahamu/ Pambazuka News (, which has published a longer version of this article

7) Hamas Moves Close to Full Control of Gaza
June 14, 2007

JERUSALEM, June 14 — The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, faced the further collapse of his power in Gaza today as fierce clashes continued and Hamas fighters took over the headquarters of Fatah’s Preventive Security forces and the military intelligence building in Gaza City.

Those two advances meant Hamas came close to full control of Gaza. Only the presidential compound of Mr. Abbas and the Suraya headquarters of the National Security Forces, the Palestinian army, remained under Fatah’s control. But Hamas had surrounded Al Suraya, calling on the occupants to surrender, and the compound was under attack today.

Mr. Abbas was holding meetings outside Gaza, in Ramallah, on the West Bank, and is expected to announce an “important decision” later today, his aides said. Mr. Abbas is under pressure from within Fatah and from some of his other allies to suspend participation in the so-called unity government with Hamas, which began in March, and to declare a state of emergency.

As Hamas tightened its grip on Gaza, the fall of the headquarters of the Fatah-dominated Preventive Security forces, in the Tal el-Hawa district of Gaza City, was especially significant.

It would have powerful resonance for both Fatah and Hamas. Preventive Security is an elite national security force that was founded by Mohammed Dahlan, a Fatah strongman, and was considered to be one of the most important Fatah forces in Gaza.

After the capture of the headquarters, witnesses said Hamas fighters dragged the vanquished Fatah gunmen outside and executed them on the street, The Associated Press reported.

As Hamas moved closer to securing full control of the Gaza Strip, the European Union suspended its humanitarian aid projects in the area, The A.P. said. The European Union also called for a “humanitarian truce” to allow the wounded to be evacuated, the A.P. said.

The powerful Hamas move to exert authority in Gaza and the poor response by the larger security forces supposedly loyal to Fatah have raised troubling questions for Mr. Abbas and Israel and have left the White House, which supports Mr. Abbas, with a dwindling menu of policy options.

Mr. Abbas now faces a putative Palestinian state divided into a West Bank run by Fatah and a Gaza run by Hamas.

Hamas forces had consolidated their control over much of Gaza during fighting on Wednesday. Hamas took command of the main north-south road and blew up a Fatah headquarters in Khan Yunis, in the south.

By Wednesday evening, in northern Gaza and Gaza City, Hamas military men, many of them in black masks, moved unchallenged through the streets as Fatah fighters ran short of arms and ammunition and abandoned their posts.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel has warned of “regional consequences” if Gaza fell under the complete control of Hamas, an Islamist movement that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Hamas control of Gaza would limit Israel’s ability to negotiate with Mr. Abbas, as Washington wants.

Hamas spokesmen said the movement had no political goal except to defend itself from a group within Fatah collaborating with Israel and the United States. They said they wanted to bring the security forces under the control of the unity government, in which Fatah agreed to play a part until the current fighting.

Some Israeli security officials say Israel wants to see the West Bank isolated from Gaza, even more so with Hamas in control there. One official suggested that Hamas’s show of strength in Gaza would make it more likely that the Israeli military would intervene there this summer to cut back Hamas’s military power. The Israeli security services say Hamas, which is able to smuggle weapons and explosives from Egypt, is developing a sophisticated army on the model of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, said Israel did not see “the implosion of the Palestinian Authority in anyone’s interest.” In Gaza, he added, “the clear strength that Hamas is demonstrating on the ground is a problem for us, and a challenge.”

“It’s a problem for the Palestinians, too,” Mr. Regev said. “Our whole policy is to work with moderate pragmatic Palestinians who believe in peace, and Hamas hegemony in Gaza is not good for Israel, for the Palestinians or for peace.”

Since the election victory of Hamas in January 2006, the United States and Israel have worked to isolate and damage Hamas and build up Fatah with recognition and weaponry. Asked whether the Hamas gains showed the failure of that policy, Mr. Regev said: “I don’t think Israel or the international community should give up on Palestinian moderates. That would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Some in Israel, however, are beginning to ask whether it might make sense to have indirect discussions with Hamas, which is clearly not going away.

In Wednesday’s clashes in Gaza City, Hamas took over the Awdah building, a tall apartment complex where many Fatah leaders lived, causing another Fatah leader, Maher Miqdad, to flee with his family, after at least eight Fatah men were killed.

Hamas also took over and burned the main police station, another symbol of Fatah power, and surrounded the main national security headquarters building, Al Suraya.

In northern Gaza, Hamas gave fighters in isolated Fatah military headquarters until Friday at 7 p.m. to surrender their weapons.

In Khan Yunis, Hamas detonated a large bomb in a tunnel under the headquarters of Fatah’s Preventive Security, killing at least one of those inside and wounding eight more.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said the movement was defending itself, not reaching for unalloyed power.

“There is no political goal behind this but to defend our movement and force these security groups to behave,” Mr. Zuhri said in an interview.

He insisted that “Hamas did not initiate these attacks, but it was pushed to do so to end crimes by the factions inside Fatah who favor a coup.”

He said Hamas “is doing the work that Fatah failed to do, to control these groups,” whom he accused of crimes, chaos and collaboration with Israel and the United States.

Mr. Zuhri said the United States should “sit with the movement at the dialogue table on the basis of mutual respect, respecting the elections.”

Mr. Miqdad accused Hamas of following an Israeli script. “This is an Israeli plan,” he said. “They want to connect the West Bank to Jordan and make Gaza a separate jail. This will be the end of an independent Palestinian state.”

Abdullah al-Aqad, 28, of Khan Yunis, said he joined the national security forces to have a job. He marveled at the speed of the Hamas advance. “We are 70,000 P.A. soldiers, and where are they all?” he asked. “And facing 10,000 Hamas soldiers.”

From Ramallah, Mr. Abbas spoke to the exiled Hamas political leader, Khaled Meshal, to try to ease the crisis. “This is madness, the madness that is going on in Gaza now,” Mr. Abbas told reporters.

At least 13 Palestinians were killed on Wednesday and 64 injured, according to Moaweya Hassanein of the Palestinian Health Ministry. He said 59 had died since Monday.

The dead included two workers with the United Nations agency that helps the 70 percent of Gazans who are refugees or their descendants. The agency announced it was curtailing its operations until the fighting stopped.

While Fatah blamed Hamas for the crisis, an Israeli analyst of Palestinian affairs, Danny Rubinstein, said the “primary reason for the break-up is the fact that Fatah has refused to fully share the Palestinian Authority’s mechanism of power with its rival Hamas, despite Hamas’s decisive victory in the January 2006 general elections.”

Fatah “was forced to overrule Palestinian voters because the entire world demanded it do so,” Mr. Rubinstein added. “Matters have come to the point where Hamas attempted to take by force what they believe they rightfully deserve.”

Steven Erlanger reported from Jerusalem, and Graham Bowley from New York. Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem, and Taghreed El-Khodary from Gaza City and Khan Yunis.


8) In Health Care, Cost Isn’t Proof of High Quality
June 14, 2007

Stark evidence that high medical payments do not necessarily buy high-quality patient care is presented in a hospital study set for release today.

In a Pennsylvania government survey of the state’s 60 hospitals that perform heart bypass surgery, the best-paid hospital received nearly $100,000, on average, for the operation while the least-paid got less than $20,000. At both, patients had comparable lengths of stay and death rates.

And among the 20 hospitals serving metropolitan Philadelphia, two of the highest paid actually had higher-than-expected death rates, the survey found.

Hospitals say there are numerous reasons for some of the high payments, including the fact that a single very expensive case can push up the averages.

Still, the Pennsylvania findings support a growing national consensus that as consumers, insurers and employers pay more for care, they are not necessarily getting better care. Expensive medicine may, in fact, be poor medicine.

“For most consumers, the fact that there is no connection between quality and cost is one of the dirty secrets of medicine,” said Peter V. Lee, the chief executive of the Pacific Business Group on Health, a California group of employers that provide health care coverage for workers.

Some Pennsylvania employers said the state’s findings, based on data from 2005, might put more pressure on insurance carriers and hospitals to start demonstrating the value of care. “It now provides us a tool to have a serious dialogue with our carriers,” said Mark Dever, a benefits consultant for Duquesne Light, a regional utility in Pittsburgh.

“We have to question,” he said. “There’s a big difference in price — why?”

The report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, a state agency, provides a rare public glimpse of detailed information about hospital payments and patient outcomes. And the seemingly random nature of the payments is striking.

Although federal Medicare payments are largely fixed, they varied somewhat among the Pennsylvania hospitals surveyed. The far greater disparity involved commercial insurers, which must negotiate their rates hospital by hospital.

And the survey found that good care can go unrewarded. One Philadelphia area hospital, Main Line Health’s Lankenau center, which performs a large number of bypass surgeries and has a high success rate, according to the survey, was paid an average of $33,549 by private insurers. That was less than half the nearly $80,000 in average payments received by the other hospitals, with poorer track records.

“It doesn’t make sense,” said Marc P. Volavka, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. “Certain payers are paying an awful lot for poor quality.”

He points to some of the experiments to change how hospitals are paid, like Geisinger Health System in central Pennsylvania, which is trying to demonstrate its commitment to high-quality care by offering a 30-day warranty on its cardiac surgery.

“The current reimbursement paradigm is fundamentally broken,” said Dr. Ronald Paulus, an executive with Geisinger, who says there is no current financial incentive for a hospital to provide the kind of care that leads to better outcomes and lower payments.

Pennsylvania is the first state to make such information, normally closely guarded by the hospitals and the insurers, available to everyone — including patients who may never see their hospital bills or be aware of how their hospitals compare with others in the state.

The council collected the payment data from the insurers and calculated averages of the payments to each hospital. So each hospital’s average includes small numbers of extraordinarily high-cost cases, where patients may have developed complications and had lengthy hospital stays.

As a result, a hospital with a relatively low number of surgeries but a high number of costly cases, could wind up with a high average payment. In the Philadelphia area, for example, Lower Bucks Hospital says its average of nearly $100,000 paid by commercial insurers for a bypass patient was skewed by a single very expensive case. Without that case, its average would be closer to $40,000, the hospital said.

But fully explaining the discrepancies in payments and quality of care is difficult.

In Philadelphia, heart patients have a choice among several academic medical centers. Two, Albert Einstein and Hahnemann University, were paid nearly $80,000, on average, for treating a bypass patient. The hospitals at the University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University, whose patients did as well or better, were paid much less.

Both Albert Einstein and Hahnemann disputed the survey’s findings, saying payments they receive are lower than the state is reporting.

Hahnemann says its calculations show the average to be significantly lower — $23, 420 — rather than the $78,312 reported in the survey.

The council conceded that the pool of Hahnemann patients it used for its calculations was different from the patients the hospital might count. The council defended its conclusions, saying it used the same methodology for all the hospitals surveyed.

As for the quality measures, Hahnemann says its higher-than-expected mortality rates might reflect the hospital’s own poor record-keeping, which it says did not give the state an accurate picture of how sick some of its patients were before their surgeries. As eye-opening as the Pennsylvania report may be to the public, insurers have already been aware that their payment practices do not necessarily encourage hospitals to provide better care. Medicare, for example, pays essentially a flat fee, which varies depending on location and type of hospital, for the same surgery, regardless of outcome. Complications tend to simply mean additional payments. And many insurers follow the government’s lead.

And so hospitals are rewarded for providing more care, not better care.

“The Medicare program pays for services,” said Leslie Norwalk, the acting administrator for the federal program, who says hospitals are reimbursed even if the care they are providing is a result of a mistake or avoidable hospital infection.

Independence Blue Cross, which is Philadelphia’s largest private insurer, says the difficulty lies in finding the right measures to use to pay for quality care.

“Philosophically, you’re not going to get an argument from us,” said Dr. Richard Snyder, a senior executive at Independence. “We believe we should pay more for high quality than poor quality.”

He says hospitals that are poor performers do risk being excluded from its network, as happened in one case with a hospital — which he would not identify — that was not allowed to deliver cardiac care to the plan’s members for a year until the hospital improved its performance.


9) Detroit Pursues Sweeping Cuts In Union Talks Big 3 Cite Wide Cost Gap With Asian Auto Rivals; Threat to Export Jobs
June 14, 2007; Page A1
Wall Street Journal

Detroit's Big Three, facing their worst crisis in decades, are seeking unprecedented concessions from the United Auto Workers union in a bid to narrow what they say is a $30-an-hour labor-cost disadvantage against Asian rivals like Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., auto executives say.

The unusually tough stance by General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group marks their latest attempt to stanch heavy losses in their North American auto operations. It also sets up a potential showdown with the UAW -- which has a 70-year history of winning progressively richer contracts for its members -- as the two sides prepare for contract talks that start this summer.

In recent years, the union has agreed to work-rule changes and benefit cuts for its retirees designed to save the auto makers billions of dollars a year. However, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, who declined to comment on the coming negotiations, has argued his workers shouldn't bear the entire cost of Detroit's restructuring.

The Big Three have talked tough before ahead of contract talks, only to agree in the end to a costly labor deal. This time around, however, people familiar with their plans say all three are united in believing they have no choice but to close the $10 billion-a-year labor-cost gap between them and their leaner Asian competitors on cars and trucks built in the U.S. The three are also resolved to move jobs abroad if they can't bring down U.S. wage-and-benefit costs, one industry executive says.

GM, Ford and Chrysler have eliminated about 70,000 UAW jobs over the past two years through buyouts and other means. The three, which currently employ about 210,000 of the UAW's 520,000 active members, say they pay union workers $70 to $75 an hour, when wage, health-care and pension expenses are factored in. By comparison, according to Big Three estimates, Toyota and other Asian auto makers, pay $40 to $45 an hour at their U.S. plants, which together employ about 62,300 nonunion workers.

"We need to eliminate most, if not 80%" of the gap, says a senior automotive executive involved in labor planning. "It has to be gone by the end of the contract, or doing business in the United States is unsustainable."

All three domestic auto makers "will move investment in plants and people outside the country" if they don't bring U.S. labor costs in line with those of Toyota and the other foreign auto makers, the executive said.

Detroit's auto makers are in a more precarious position than at any time since the early 1980s. Ford and GM are bleeding cash in North America and their debt ratings have sunk to junk status. Control of Chrysler is about to be passed from German industrial giant Daimler to private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LLC, which has profited by aggressively restructuring distressed companies.

The Big Three's competitive problems extend far beyond labor costs, a point UAW bargainers have made in the past and will likely make again. Union leaders have said the auto makers should invest more in improving the quality and design of their vehicles.

The three companies allowed quality to deteriorate in the 1980s, a stumble that still haunts them by hurting their standing with consumers. Detroit also resorted to discount-driven marketing, undermining its profits and cheapening the image of its brands.

Moreover, the auto makers have been slow to respond to shifts in consumer tastes over the past two years; a sharp rise in gasoline prices caught them with too much of their production capacity devoted to trucks and sport-utility vehicles that got relatively poor mileage.

Mr. Gettelfinger, the UAW president, has been maneuvering for two years to soften the potential blow to the union's more than 700,000 active and retired members, agreeing to mass buyouts, some cuts in retiree health-care benefits and moves to improve factory-floor efficiency.

Former and current union officials say Mr. Gettelfinger prefers to make smaller, less dramatic sacrifices that still add up to substantial savings, concessions such as changing work rules to allow for outsourcing of jobs such as janitor or materials handler or restricting the amount of time a union worker can remain unemployed but on full pay in the industry's so-called Jobs Bank. Such moves can save an auto maker tens of millions of dollars per plant.

In recent speeches, Mr. Gettelfinger has reiterated calls for the federal government to take over some or all of the auto makers' health-care burdens. "The UAW believes it would be immoral and irresponsible to abandon the hundreds of thousands of retirees who helped build GM, Ford and Chrysler. We are simply not going to do that," he said in a speech earlier this month.

Jerry Sullivan, president of UAW Local 600 at Ford's Dearborn Truck plant, says his members know this summer's talks will be all about trying to catch up with Toyota. "But closing that gap, it will be very difficult," Mr. Sullivan says. "Hopefully we can get something worked out. That's why all the big minds are getting together to talk this summer."

The Big Three argue that Toyota, Honda, Nissan Motor Co. and other foreign auto makers building cars and trucks in the U.S. -- and not the UAW -- set the industry's rate for labor. This year more vehicles are expected to be built in the U.S. by non-UAW workers than by UAW members for the first time in the union's 72-year history, according to CSM Worldwide.

UAW workers in GM, Ford and Chrysler plants earn about $27 an hour in wages, roughly the same as the nonunion workers in the U.S. plants of Toyota, Honda and Nissan. But the UAW's generous health-care plans and pensions for the hundreds of thousands of union retirees and their dependents more than double the total hourly cost. By contrast, the foreign-owned auto plants in the U.S. haven't been around long enough to accumulate significant numbers of retirees.

Detroit's labor costs are continuing to rise, mainly due to rapidly increasing health-care expenses. According to an internal Chrysler estimate, the labor-cost gap could grow to $45 an hour by 2011 if nothing is done.

Cutting total labor costs by anywhere close to $30 an hour would be an unprecedented accomplishment. For decades, the UAW has won steady improvements in job security and benefits as well as wage increases of 2% to 3% per year.

Four former and current UAW officials with knowledge of the union's thinking say Mr. Gettelfinger wants to sign a new contract that, among other things, slows or stops the rapid decline of UAW membership. The union's membership could sink below 500,000 as a result of the tens of thousands of buyouts and early retirements GM, Ford and Chrysler are now in the process of completing. It had one million members in 1987.

The UAW has made significant concessions to save jobs in other industries. The auto makers are studying a six-year deal the union reached with heavy-equipment giant Caterpillar Inc. in January 2005 which allowed the company to pay new hires between $10 and $15 an hour, compared with $20 and $22 for previous hires.

UAW-Caterpillar workers must pay some of their health-care costs for the first time and get annual bonuses but no raises over the term of their contract. "A deal like the Caterpillar contract would take out $7 to $10 an hour of that $30 gap," said one senior automotive executive familiar with plans for the UAW talks.

Detroit, especially GM, would like the three companies to merge their combined $95 billion retiree health-care obligation into a separate trust. It would be partially funded by the auto makers, but managed by the UAW.

A UAW official that has worked on national contract talks said the union is analyzing a similar trust that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. recently created for its union retirees. One of the union's lawyers, Dan Sherrick, negotiated a similar health-care plan for the UAW a few years ago with engine maker Navistar International Corp.

The Goodyear trust involved just $1.2 billion in unfunded health-care liabilities, and Goodyear's Steelworkers union had also previously agreed to inflation caps, which the UAW hasn't. By contrast, the Big Three would have to come up with billions of dollars to fund such a trust. The UAW would likely have to agree to accept just 50 cents to 60 cents on the dollar of funding for the trust to make economic sense for the auto makers, one individual familiar with the process said.


10) In Shift, Judge Eases Limits on Surveillance by the Police
June 14, 2007

In a startling legal reversal, a federal judge in Manhattan decided yesterday to vacate his own order that had greatly limited the New York police in videotaping people at public gatherings. He said the reversal was based partly on new information.

In February, the judge, Charles S. Haight Jr., issued what seemed an ironclad, somewhat scathing rebuke of the police, ruling that its surveillance teams could videotape protesters only if there was an indication that unlawful activity might be under way.

Citing two events in 2005 — an antiwar march in Harlem and a protest by homeless people in front of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s town house — the judge ruled in February that the police had broken their own guidelines for political surveillance by videotaping people who were lawfully exercising their right to free speech.

But in yesterday’s ruling, Judge Haight, of United States District Court, somewhat reluctantly set that order aside, saying he had received fresh accounts of the demonstrations from city lawyers that directly contradicted accounts provided by lawyers for the plaintiffs. The new accounts suggested that unlawful activity might indeed have been occurring, with protesters becoming unruly. “Given these conflicting accounts, the descriptions of these events in the court’s 02/07 order cannot be regarded as findings of fact by the court in areas where the facts are disputed,” he wrote.

Yesterday’s ruling came in the context of what is known as the Handschu case, a class-action lawsuit filed in 1971 that is among the most important (and certainly longest-lived) federal disputes that have sought to balance the citizenry’s right to political expression with the state’s interest in keeping public order. The case has resulted, most importantly, in the establishment of guidelines in 1985 that forbid the police to investigate political groups unless a crime is being — or is about to be — committed.

The current dispute arises from the fact that after the Sept. 11 attack, the city asked the judge to relax the guidelines and allow more leeway to conduct investigations of political groups. Judge Haight agreed to a somewhat milder set of guidelines, but gave them teeth by later ruling that his own court would hold in contempt any police official who violated the rules.

In yesterday’s ruling, however, Judge Haight reversed himself, saying that he lacked the power to enforce the guidelines alone: The police could be liable for punishment only if they violated the United States Constitution, not his order.

At a hearing in April, Gail Donoghue, special counsel for the city’s Law Department, argued that if Judge Haight remained the sole authority to enforce the guidelines, his court would soon be inundated with “minitrial after minitrial.” The judge himself agreed with this assessment, writing in yesterday’s decision, “It would be unduly burdensome for this court to police every alleged violation of the N.Y.P.D. guidelines no matter how slight.”

The judge, however, used the authority of contract law to ensure that the police did abide by the guidelines.

“In the language of contracts” he wrote, “the N.Y.P.D. promised to enact (and impliedly to follow) the N.Y.P.D. guidelines in exchange for the court’s promise to grant modifications.”

He later wrote: “If the N.Y.P.D. should break its promise to the court, I am not required to sit idly by with my hands tied.”

From the start of the recent arguments, lawyers for the plaintiffs have said that the protests in Harlem and at the mayor’s house were legal and peaceable. Until a few months ago, the city did not dispute that portrayal, for reasons, the judge wrote, that “passeth all understanding.”

When the city did file its accounts of the marches, they contradicted those of the plaintiffs in key ways: A city lawyer said the march at Mayor Bloomberg’s house, for instance, was “unruly and disobedient” with the crowd blocking traffic and forcing a woman with a baby carriage into the street.

Jethro M. Eisenstein, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said that he and his partners would return to Judge Haight’s court and prove that the marches were, in fact, calm and lawful, and seek to prove that the department engages in political surveillance against its own guidelines.

Ms. Donoghue, the city lawyer, said through a spokeswoman that the city was “continuing to study the decision’s full import.”


11) America Comes Up Short
Op-Ed Columnist
June 15, 2007

Traveling through Europe recently, I’ve been able to confirm through personal experience what statistical surveys tell us: the perceived stature of Americans is not what it was. Europeans used to look up to us; now, many of them look down on us instead.

No, I’m not talking metaphorically about our loss of moral authority in the wake of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. I’m literally talking about feet and inches.

To the casual observer, Europeans — who often seemed short, even to me (I’m 5-foot-7), when I first began traveling a lot in the 1970s — now often seem tall by American standards. And that casual observation matches what careful researchers have found.

The data show that Americans, who in the words of a recent paper by the economic historian John Komlos and Benjamin Lauderdale in Social Science Quarterly, were “tallest in the world between colonial times and the middle of the 20th century,” have now “become shorter (and fatter) than Western and Northern Europeans. In fact, the U.S. population is currently at the bottom end of the height distribution in advanced industrial countries.”

This is not a trivial matter. As the paper says, “height is indicative of how well the human organism thrives in its socioeconomic environment.” There’s a whole discipline of “anthropometric history” that uses evidence on heights to assess changes in social conditions.

For example, nothing demonstrates the harsh class distinctions of Britain in the age of Dickens better than the 9-inch height gap between 15-year-old students at Sandhurst, the elite military academy, and their counterparts at the working-class Marine School. The dismal working and living conditions of urban Americans during the Gilded Age were reflected in a 1- 1/2 inch decline in the average height of men born in 1890, compared with those born in 1830. Americans born after 1920 were the first industrial generation to regain preindustrial stature.

So what is America’s modern height lag telling us?

There is normally a strong association between per capita income and a country’s average height. By that standard, Americans should be taller than Europeans: U.S. per capita G.D.P. is higher than that of any other major economy. But since the middle of the 20th century, something has caused Americans to grow richer without growing significantly taller.

It’s not the population’s changing ethnic mix due to immigration: the stagnation of American heights is clear even if you restrict the comparison to non-Hispanic, native-born whites.

And although the Komlos-Lauderdale paper suggests that growing income and social inequality in America might be one culprit, the remarkable thing is that, as the authors themselves point out, even high-status Americans are falling short: “rich Americans are shorter than rich Western Europeans and poor white Americans are shorter than poor Western Europeans.”

We seem to be left with two main possible explanations of the height gap.

One is that America really has turned into “Fast Food Nation.”

“U.S. children,” write Mr. Komlos and Mr. Lauderdale, “consume more meals prepared outside the home, more fast food rich in fat, high in energy density and low in essential micronutrients, than do European children.” Our reliance on fast food, in turn, may reflect lack of family time because we work too much: U.S. G.D.P. per capita is high partly because employed Americans work many more hours than their European counterparts.

A broader explanation would be that contemporary America is a society that, in a variety of ways, doesn’t take very good care of its children. Recently, Unicef issued a report comparing a number of measures of child well-being in 21 rich countries, including health and safety, family and peer relationships and such things as whether children eat fruit and are physically active. The report put the Netherlands at the top; sure enough, the Dutch are now the world’s tallest people, almost 3 inches taller, on average, than non-Hispanic American whites. The U.S. ended up in 20th place, below Poland, Portugal and Hungary, but ahead of Britain.

Whatever the full explanation for America’s stature deficit, our relative shortness, like our low life expectancy, suggests that something is amiss with our way of life. A critical European might say that America is a land of harried parents and neglected children, of expensive health care that misses those who need it most, a society that for all its wealth somehow manages to be nasty, brutish — and short.


12) U.S. to Keep Europe as Site for Missile Defense
June 15, 2007

BRUSSELS, June 14 — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made clear Thursday that the United States would not alter plans to deploy parts of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, despite an unexpected proposal by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to use a radar base in Azerbaijan instead.

During a session of defense ministers here, Mr. Gates also effectively secured NATO’s endorsement for an American plan to build the missile defense bases in Central Europe, overcoming the concerns of some alliance members that the effort could rupture relations with Russia.

The radar in Azerbaijan offered by Mr. Putin at the recent Group of 8 session with President Bush in Germany could complement the sites proposed for Central Europe, Mr. Gates said, but not replace them.

“I was very explicit in the meeting that we saw the Azeri radar as an additional capability, that we intended to proceed with the radar, the X-band radar, in the Czech Republic,” Mr. Gates said at an evening news conference after meeting with his Russian counterpart, Anatoly E. Serdyukov. American military officers have said that the X-band radar proposed for the Czech Republic is designed to spot specific objects in space and to assist interceptors in locking on and destroying an adversary’s missile in the middle of its flight. The system in Azerbaijan is an early warning radar, with a wider range but also less specific tracking ability.

NATO support, described by its officials as a significant step forward for the American proposals, came in the somewhat coded language typical of the Atlantic alliance.

NATO did not issue a specific endorsement of placing the elements of the system in former Soviet states in Central Europe. But it announced an effort that in essence was an agreement that the system would be deployed: a study of how proposed shorter-range NATO missile defense systems would be incorporated in the long-range American antimissile program. That American system will include 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a network of radar defenses in the Czech Republic.

“There were no criticisms by any of the NATO allies of our missile defense proposals or of our moving forward,” Mr. Gates said. “There obviously is interest in trying to encourage the Russians to participate with us, to make the system complementary to NATO shorter-range missile defenses, and for transparency.”

These systems would be “bolted on” to the American system, which is designed to counter long-range missiles, in particular a potential threat from Iran, alliance officials said.

“The NATO road map on missile defense is now clear,” said Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the NATO secretary general. “It’s practical, and it’s agreed by all.”

A senior American official, who described the closed-door debate under standard diplomatic rules of anonymity, was even more explicit than Mr. Gates in summarizing NATO’s support. “What you see here is allies agreeing to adapt NATO’s work to the reality that there will be a long-range system, as well,” the official said.

NATO was already studying a theaterwide missile defense system, and the decision made Thursday alleviates the alliance of the financial and political costs of creating long-range missile defenses.

The NATO study is to be completed by February. Its military experts will work on blueprints for short- and medium-range missile defense systems to shield allies not under the cover of the system proposed for Central Europe, including Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey.

In an unexpected development sure to be scrutinized by the Kremlin, Mr. Gates indicated an interest in pushing cooperation on missile defenses even further into the former Soviet hemisphere of Eastern Europe by raising the prospect of future discussions with Ukraine.

Ukraine is not a NATO member, but is part of an alliance dialogue, the NATO-Ukraine Commission. Mr. Gates said that on Thursday he “indicated a willingness to share information, data with Ukraine” on the missile defense efforts in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Russian officials have complained that the proposed system is a Trojan horse designed to counter Moscow’s strategic rocket forces, although Mr. Putin shifted the debate with a proposal last week to link the American system to a radar in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

At the session of the NATO-Russia Council on Thursday, Mr. Serdyukov, the Russian defense minister, “made no threats” about the American plans, said senior American officials who had attended, speaking anonymously under diplomatic rules.

While the United States, Poland and the Czech Republic are all alliance members, the negotiations on missile defense bases are being carried out in bilateral talks outside the NATO framework.


13) White House Seems Ready to Let Hamas Seize Gaza
June 15, 2007

WASHINGTON, June 14 — Bush administration officials said Thursday that they had been discussing the idea of largely acquiescing in the takeover of Gaza by the militant Islamic group Hamas and trying instead to help the Fatah party of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, retain its stronghold in the West Bank.

The United States had quietly encouraged Mr. Abbas to dissolve the Palestinian government and dismiss Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, steps that Mr. Abbas announced Thursday, administration officials said. Before the announcement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Mr. Abbas to reiterate American support for the move, they said.

“President Abbas has exercised his lawful authority as the president of the Palestinian Authority, as the leader of the Palestinian people,” Ms. Rice said. “We fully support him and his decision to try and end this crisis of the Palestinian people and to give them an opportunity for — to return to peace and a better future.”

The state of emergency that Mr. Abbas announced has underscored the widening rift separating Gaza, where Hamas has largely routed Fatah’s forces, and the West Bank, where Mr. Abbas still has a strong base. But diplomats and Middle East experts said a “West Bank first” strategy might now be the last option for Ms. Rice to salvage something from her plans to push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The State Department insisted that the United States had no plans to abandon Palestinians living in Gaza.

Many diplomats and Middle East experts said they read Mr. Abbas’s decision as an attempt to cut his losses in Gaza and consolidate power in the West Bank. Israeli officials are promoting a proposal that the West Bank and Gaza be viewed as separate entities, and that Israel act more forcefully in Gaza to crack down on Hamas militants.

Senior Bush administration officials said no decision had been made. Some State Department officials argue that the administration could only support such a separation if Israel agreed to make political concessions to Mr. Abbas in the West Bank, with the goal of undermining Hamas in the eyes of Palestinians by improving life in the West Bank.

But it would be diplomatically perilous for the United States to be seen as turning its back on Gaza. Almost half of the Palestinian population lives on the teeming strip of land. A more desperate Gaza could become a breeding ground for Al Qaeda.

“Nobody wants to abandon the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in the Gaza Strip to the mercies of a terrorist organization,” said the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack. “We’re certainly not going to participate in extinguishing the hopes of a whole swath of the Palestinian population to live in a Palestinian state.”

The administration has led international efforts to isolate the Hamas-dominated government, demanding that it renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by existing agreements between the Palestinians and Israel.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations has been trying to advance a proposal to deploy an international peacekeeping force in Gaza, but diplomats from Europe and the United States said Thursday that they doubted that many countries would be eager to send troops to Gaza.

Among Middle East experts, the possibility of trying to establish a diplomatic separation between Gaza and the West Bank and lavishing benefits on the West Bank — an idea that seemed remote a week ago — is now being discussed. “This is as close they can come to taking a sow’s ear and trying to turn it into a silk purse,” said Martin S. Indyk, former American ambassador to Israel and director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

“The fundamental decision to be made is whether they’re going to say, ‘Gaza, we’ll cut it off and they’ll have to learn to live in utter poverty and isolation,’ ” said Robert Malley, director of the International Crisis Group’s Middle East program.

Ms. Rice now has a much tougher task if she still hopes to get a peace deal before President Bush leaves office in 2009, Middle East experts said Thursday. Several faulted the administration for not doing more to prop up Mr. Abbas two years ago, after Yasir Arafat died but before Hamas won the legislative elections.

“The solution to all this was back in 2005,” said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former adviser on Arab-Israeli relations at the State Department. “In 2005, Arafat was gone, Abbas had been freely and fairly elected, but we weren’t prepared to empower him. How are we going to take advantage of the opportunities that don’t exist now in 2007 when we wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunities when they existed in 2005?”


14) Reputed Klansman Convicted in 1964 Killings
Filed at 8:29 a.m. ET
June 15, 2007

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- After 43 years, Thomas Moore can tell his brother that his killer has been brought to justice.

''I'm going to go to that cemetery, that Mount Olive Cemetery,'' he said. ''I'm going to tell Charles Moore, `I told you that I see it to the end.'''

The end came Thursday with the conviction of reputed Klansman James Ford Seale on federal charges of kidnapping and conspiracy in the 1964 deaths of Charles Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee. Seale faces life in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 24.

The 19-year-olds disappeared from Franklin County on May 2, 1964, and their bodies were found later in the Mississippi River.

Thomas Moore, 63, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was instrumental in getting authorities to take another look at the case. He has not lived in Mississippi since he entered the Army in 1964, weeks before his brother disappeared.

''I now feel that Mississippi is my home,'' said Moore, a Vietnam veteran who spent 30 years in the military. ''Mississippi, you came a long way and I'm so proud the jury spoke.''

Seale, 71, sat stone-faced in court as the verdict was read and showed no emotion as marshals led him away. Jurors reached the verdict after two hours of deliberations.

Several relatives of the victims dabbed tears from their eyes. Among them was Thelma Collins of Springfield, La., Dee's older sister.

''I thank the Lord that we got justice,'' she said outside the courthouse.

After the verdict, a half dozen of Seale's relatives, including his wife, ran out of the courthouse to a waiting sport utility vehicle, bumping some reporters in the scramble.

''Obviously, we're very disappointed in the jury's verdict and we certainly plan to appeal,'' public defender Kathy Nester said.

The prosecution's star witness was Charles Marcus Edwards, a confessed Klansman. During closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors acknowledged they made ''a deal with the devil'' but said that offering immunity to Edwards to get his testimony against Seale was the only way to get justice.

Edwards testified that Dee and Moore were forced into the trunk of Seale's Volkswagen and driven to a farm. They were later tied up and driven across the Mississippi River into Louisiana. Edwards said Seale told him that heavy weights were attached to the two teenagers and they were then dumped alive into the river.

Seale was arrested on a state murder charge in 1964, but the charge was later dropped.

U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton told jurors that Klansman abducted and beat Dee and Moore in an attempt to find out if blacks were bringing firearms into Franklin County.

The killings of Moore and Dee are among several decades-old civil rights cases reopened by federal investigators. In February, federal officials announced they were reopening investigations into about a dozen such cases.

Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman, was convicted last June of manslaughter in the killings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964.

In Alabama, Bobby Frank Cherry was convicted in 2002 of killing four black girls in the bombing of a Birmingham church in 1963. In 2001, Thomas Blanton was convicted.


15) Experts Advise on Combating Radicalization
June 15, 2007

While the United States has expended enormous effort in fighting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has neglected the fight for the hearts and minds of young radicals in Internet chat rooms and other places where they cluster, experts on radicalization told a House panel yesterday.

“Unless we can impede radicalization and recruitment, then we are condemned to a strategy of stepping on cockroaches one at a time,” Brian M. Jenkins, a terrorism expert from the Rand Corporation, told the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment

The subcommittee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have held recent hearings on the possible threat from “homegrown” radicals. The general conclusion has been that although such a threat exists, it is small, especially when compared with Europe, because assimilation works so much better here.

Individual sessions have covered the possibility of terror cells forming in prisons, considered a ripe environment with little concrete activity, and countering the vision of extremists who use Islam to convince the young that suicide bombings are the righteous path to a better world.

“We have to stop attacking only the structure and start attacking their strategy,” the director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, Frank J. Cilluffo, said.

Terrorist organizations, for example, use the Web to glorify the people who carry out attacks as serving God. But, Mr. Cilluffo noted, there is no effort to use video from gruesome attacks like the slaughter of Russian schoolchildren or the bombing of a wedding at a Jordanian hotel to underscore that terrorists are cold-blooded murderers

The United States has had scattered arrests of bumblers who may have intended to carry out terrorist attacks, but none have had the capability to undertake the deadly violence seen on 9/11 or in London and Madrid, witnesses said. The treason indictment last year of Adam Yahiye Gadahn, a Californian who is a Qaeda spokesman, is a rarity. The United States has had about 30 treason cases.

But the Internet age can make moving from intent to capability rapid. So the goal is to block the path and undermine the desire.

“There is nothing wrong with people being recruited to become Muslims,” Representative Jane Harman, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the subcommittees, said in an interview yesterday. “What is wrong is when people who are becoming Muslims are manipulated by radical fanatics into a death cult.

“That small passage that very few of these people take is where we have to interfere. We have to understand how it happens and when it happens.”

Ms. Harman and a Republican colleague, Representative Dave Reichert of Washington, are drafting a measure that would direct Congress to form a commission to develop a strategy for preventing such radicalization. She said she hoped that a similar bill would emerge from the Senate.

Among the major recommendations of the experts at the hearing yesterday were greater involvement of Muslim-Americans in the antiradicalization effort; more aid for community policing, which is deemed most effective at nipping radicalization in the bud; and a smarter focus on countering what Al Qaeda and other groups do to win recruits.

“We need to isolate the extremists as opposed to isolating the mainstream community” of American Muslims, Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said in an interview.


16) Legislators Grapple Over How to Legalize Medical Marijuana Use
June 14, 2007

ALBANY, June 13 — Gov. Eliot Spitzer and legislative leaders said this week that the use of marijuana for medical purposes should be made legal in New York State.

But whether all involved can come to an agreement on how that should be done with one week left in the legislative session remains in significant doubt. One question they must answer: Should the state be in the business of growing and distributing marijuana to sick people? And if not, how should those people obtain it?

And even though a dozen other states have legalized marijuana use to ease the pain of a variety of diseases, buying, selling or possessing marijuana remains a federal crime. The deliberation comes on the heels of a similar bill recently passed in Connecticut that is awaiting the signature of Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

In New York, the Democratic-led Assembly passed a bill on Wednesday that would give doctors the authority to grant eligible patients a certification allowing them to legally acquire and use marijuana or to grow up to a dozen plants at a time.

“Thousands of New Yorkers with serious life-threatening conditions could get significant medical benefit from the use of marijuana,” said Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat.

But it is not clear how these plants, or the seeds to grow them, would be acquired. The Assembly’s bill says only that it would be lawful to give patients marijuana or seeds if “nothing of value is transferred in return.”

Senator Vincent N. Leibell, a Republican whose district includes Putnam County and parts of Westchester and Dutchess Counties, said he would introduce legislation that would take a different approach. He said he would prefer that the state’s Health Department be in charge of growing and dispensing marijuana.

“The key issue is control,” he said. “How do you control manufacture, and how do you control dispensement? Those are the two issues that’ll be out there.”

The Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, said that he supported the idea — he has supported efforts to legalize marijuana for medical use in the past — but that “the Assembly version doesn’t work.”

He said he believed there was enough time left in the session to work out the differences, though lawmakers are grappling with a wide variety of issues in the five remaining days of the session.

Mr. Spitzer, the former attorney general, has in the past been opposed to the idea. But he said on Tuesday that he had rethought his position.

“On many issues, hopefully you learn, you study, you evolve,” the governor said. “This is one where I had, as a prosecutor, a presumption against the use of any narcotic which wasn’t designed purely for medicinal and medical effect, and now there are ways that have persuaded me that it can be done properly.”

But the governor said he would sign the bill only if it were “properly structured”; he did not elaborate.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court upheld the federal government’s authority to prosecute people for possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes, even in states that permit it. Federal officials have not appeared to prosecute patients aggressively but have gone after some distributors.

“Marijuana is illegal,” said Rogene Waite, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, adding, “There has been no scientific determination by the federal government that there is any such thing as medical marijuana.”

State laws permitting medicinal marijuana use differ on how much of the drug can be possessed or grown and which illnesses can be treated with it. Hawaii and Vermont issue identification cards to patients who qualify, while Maine and Washington do not require registration with the state, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group that supports the legalization of medical marijuana.

In New Mexico, a new law requires the state’s Department of Health to oversee production and distribution of marijuana.

In California, the first state to legalize medical marijuana, a broadly worded law has allowed for the rapid proliferation of cannabis clubs and privately owned distribution centers.

But most other states, wary of venturing into murky legal waters, rely on a classically American business model: do-it-yourself. Approved patients are allowed to grow a limited number of plants, but must buy the seeds themselves — in violation of federal law.

“While it’s not a perfect solution, it’s the easiest one for states to implement,” said Bruce Mirken, a spokesman for the nonprofit Marijuana Policy Project, which promotes the legalization of the drug.

The talk-show host Montel Williams, who has said he uses marijuana to alleviate pain associated with multiple sclerosis, said he was encouraged by Mr. Spitzer’s “intestinal fortitude” on the issue.

“This is medication for those of us who use it,” he said, speaking from his Manhattan apartment. “We shouldn’t go to jail for it, and I shouldn’t be on the cover of a newspaper being ridiculed, because it’s my choice and my doctor’s choice.”

Mr. Williams has previously met with Mr. Bruno and former Gov. George E. Pataki to discuss the issue. He has said he has used marijuana daily, but would not say whether he had done so on Tuesday.

“I wish I could tell you that,” he said, “but then I’d have every cop in the city looking for me.”


17) Palestine and the US Peace Movement – Telling it like it is!
Post June 10 DC Demonstration Update:

The following piece was originally written prior to the June 10 demonstration in Washington DC organized by United for Peace and Justice and End the Israeli Occupation Campaign. This introductory update addresses the reality of what occurred on June 10.

The June 10 demonstration turned out to be very modest in number - all the more odd that its organizers are seeking to characterize it as an historic event; presumably something that was the first of its kind. For the Palestinian struggle to be truly supported by the US justice movement, it requires clarity and truth. In this piece, we question the claim that the June 10 demonstration was the largest and most historic; challenge the political discourse that set the colonists and the colonized at equal par; and evaluate the historical context of the Palestine movement in the US.

In terms of evaluating the June 10 demonstration in this update, we are dismayed that upon arrival to Washington , DC, our community members found themselves faced with political slogans that portray the colonized and the colonists as equal victims. Perhaps this goes unnoticed to others who might consider any demonstration opposing occupation to be a step forward. But it cannot be ignored by the Palestinian people who have felt the brutality of colonialism. Our community members were preached to from the stage, handed signs, and repeatedly told that ours is a struggle equal to that of our colonists, thus turning justice on its head. This behavior by leaders of End the Occupation and UFPJ amounts to political entrapment of a trusting community.

We ask: When have we as Palestinians colonized Israelis and instituted institutionalized racism such as Zionism? Where have we flattened their homes wholesale; and when have we stolen their culture and claimed it as our own, expelled an entire nation, erected prison camps, uprooted hundreds of thousands of trees, erased entire towns and villages from existence, assassinated, tortured, and erected Apartheid walls? How, by any stretch of imagination have we, the Palestinians, become colonists!

Those who equated between the victim and the victimizer are, at best, politically shallow. And those tiny few within our community who climbed on the suffering of our people to assume a tokenized podium on a liberal stage, and who approved these slogans and political lines, have fallen below our people's consensus. Lest it is forgotten, our struggle is not to be toyed with by opportunists seeking the limelight!

On the other hand, we are gratified by many activists who set the political discourse straight by fully asserting the political and national right of the Palestinian people, particularly the Right to Return. We are particularly appreciative of our comrades in the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition who in their strong participation introduced at least 500 placards with the slogan "Free Palestine, Support the Right of Return," all of which were voluntarily taken and carried by those in attendance who agreed with the demand, contrary to the insistence of the organizers that such demand for justice would be offensive to the "peace" movement.

On the claim of historical value of this protest, we are puzzled by the usurpation of history. Organizers claimed that the June 10 demonstration was historic because it was the largest national protest ever for Palestine in Washington DC. Given that no more than 3,000 people participated, this claim is far from the truth. The largest ever pro-Palestine protest was held on April 20, 2002, where some 100,000 rallied in the A.N.S.W.E.R organized march at the Ellipse, and about 15,000 marched with United we March, together converging in a massive unified rally on that same day (details are presented below).

We also wonder what happened to the historic national march organized by Al-Awda on September 16, 2000, where at least 4,000 from as far as California converged on Washington, DC. This occurred prior to the Palestinian Intifada that began on September 28 of that year, a fact that makes that particular protest qualitatively unique deserving its place in history as the spark that galvanized the pro-Palestine movement in the US. The following year, 2001, on April 7, at least 7,000 converged on New York in yet another massive national Al-Awda march and rally. Then it was April 20, 2002, when the historic march and rally in Washington DC took place, exceeding all expectations in every manner. In these 3 major paradigm-busting rallies, it was also the leadership and participation of the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim community that contributed to this political turning point.

How is it that efforts by our community are written off as a non-event transforming us into transparent and invisible people? Must we be led by others if we are to register a position in history or occupy place in the political space? Why the obfuscation of history? Are we not the writers of our own narrative, tellers of our own story? Writing false history does not make it right, no matter how many times it is repeated.

We also question how genuine the organizers are in terms of their outreach and intentions to mobilize or impact Congress. Where was UFPJ just last summer on August 12 in Washington, DC , when the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition in collaboration with other national organizations, such as MAS Freedom Foundation and the NCA, held a 30,000 strong rally against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the attacks on the West Bank and Gaza Strip? They were nowhere to be found.

The following is our take on the movement's position on Palestine, and our take on the inextricably of the two anniversaries of May 15 and June 5. We kindly urge you to read on.


In this statement, the Free Palestine Alliance (FPA) addresses political and organizational issues related to the Palestinian struggle in the United States as it evolved during the past 5 years. We discuss the political context of the two primary events defining the Palestinian history, the 1948 Nakba and the 1967 additional occupation; and place these events in the overall context of decolonization.

Of particular interest to the FPA is an evaluation of the role played by our community and allies in forging forward a just Palestinian discourse despite the long standing Zionist influence in the US. We reflect on the US justice movement, identify some of its key definitional events in the context of Palestine, and share first hand experiences as we focus on the leadership played primarily by the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition, the National Council of Arab Americans (NCA), Al-Awda the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation.

In the Context of the US Justice Movement:

We believe that our collective hard-fought struggle, here and in Palestine, is gradually fracturing the anti-Palestinian hold on the US justice movement. We are encouraged that liberal forces that only yesterday stood squarely against the presence of Palestine in the anti-war movement today feel compelled to organize for Palestine to be vindicated and gain credibility among grassroots activists.

From the largest ever pro Palestine mobilization in the history of the United States (held simultaneously on April 20, 2002 on both coasts) to the thousands of organizations and activists who co-signed our historic Open Letter against those attempting to mute Palestinian voices, the shear weight of the Palestinian struggle broke the walls of political segregation.

The march in Washington on the 40th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is a case in point. Despite the serious political shortcomings and erroneous read of history by its key organizers, the Washington march indicates an improvement over the days of deafening silence, rejection, and active attempts to marginalize the Palestinian Arab struggle.

Now that we have broken the political and organizational grip on the 1967 occupation portion of the political discourse, through the struggle of our people and allies; we vow to also break the wall that excludes from the same discourse the Right of Return and the racist character of Zionism and its product Israel.

Hence, moving from the old and now won struggle between those who attempted to marginalize Palestine on the one hand and those who fought for its inclusion on the other, we are now approaching a new one. It is a dichotomy between those who wish to confine the Palestinian struggle to partial rights within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip hereby creating a new segregated Bantustan, and those, like us, who believe that the struggle must and will continue until full decolonization and return.

Therefore, supporting the Right of Return should be the overarching slogan of Palestine work today. This is an imperative indicator of where a given political action stands within the spectrum ranging between partial rights and servitude on the one hand and liberation and decolonization on the other.

We recognize that victory is never handed on a silver platter. It comes as a result of a bitter struggle between opposing forces. Such is the case of the Palestinian struggle. Our victories come in small steps, winning incremental accumulations over previous gains.

We are indeed encouraged that those who only yesterday equated Palestinian symbolism with terrorism and removed the Palestinian flag from the New York stage of the 2004 anti-war mobilization are today hoisting that very same flag, albeit due to fear of castigation and unprincipled embarrassment. The fact that numerous opportunists from within our community and the justice movement are now riding the Palestinian wave is also an indication of the impact we all have made collectively.

Even racist cynics in liberal garbs who in the near past taunted the anti-war movement on the pages of the likes of the Nation magazine for having too many Arabs are today scurrying to position themselves within the fold. Ironically, those who previously made statements to the press of how happy and proud they are that Israel was not mentioned in the protests at the Republican Convention in New York are today presumably championing Palestinian rights.

In fact, in June 1982, on the 15th anniversary of the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the 34th anniversary of the Nakba, and as Israel was launching its massive onslaught on Lebanon leading to the massacres of Sabra and Shatila, the same forces who have been fighting against Palestine during the past few years also shunned Palestine then. These same elements refused to criticize Israel during the largest anti-nuclear mobilization held in New York's Central Park. They found it necessary to protest the accumulation of nuclear arms while simultaneously refusing to protest the ongoing slaughter of the Arab people that was taking place at that very moment. Those who are heading UFPJ today are the very same ones who headed the Central Park protest in 1982.

Through all the attacks, shunning, and attempts to mute our voices, our people persevered, joined principled anti-imperialist alliances and forged forward.

Like all decolonization movements, at every step the Palestinian national liberation movement has faced serious challenges. During this struggle, capturing and accumulating small victories has always been critical. This is one of those moments.

In the context of the struggle to break the chains of enslavement, we celebrate the heroic efforts to break the chains as opposed to weeping over the endless pain caused by their grip. And we recognize that the harder we push against the confining hold of colonial rule, the more profound the pain becomes. With that pain, however, liberation and return are inevitably achieved.

History Contextualized:

May 15, 1948 and June 5, 1967 are two inseparable cataclysmic events in the Palestinian Arab history. Equally, they are definitional moments for the decolonization movement and inextricable from its continuum.

In the context of the Palestinian Arab struggle for liberation, any attempt to de-link one event from the other is acquiescence to the Zionist strategy to pigeonhole Palestine into a post 1967 Bantustan. And the charade of focusing only on rescuing this Bantustan from Israeli occupation is morally and politically bankrupt. In reality, ending the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is a right owed to the Palestinian people, not an upper ceiling of their struggle. It is part of the overall decolonization struggle leading to the indivisible duality of liberation and return.

For the past 59 years, May 15 has symbolized for the Palestinian Arab people a catastrophic moment in history – Al-Nakba. It is the day the Zionist movement and Western colonialism announced the transformation of a settler colonial adventure into a state polity, right there on the ruins of the Palestinian land and people. In the continuum of Western colonialism, May 15 signifies a milestone, where a garrison entity is placed in a forward position to secure geostrategic dominance.

And for past 40 years, June 5 has become synonym with the completion of Israeli conquest of Palestine - the occupation of the areas that were not colonized in 1948 – known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Along with the remainder of Palestine, Israel also occupied in 1967 the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.

During the period leading up to the conquest of Palestine, a colonial fest of sort took place as imperial exploits reeked havoc throughout the Southern hemisphere. In fact, when in 1948 Western colonialism danced to the "Birth of Israel" on the mass graves of the Palestinian people – both literally and metaphorically, 78% of the land was robbed, 75% of the population was sent homeless, and more than 500 towns and villages were erased and depopulated. Simultaneously in 1948, the Nationalist Party in South Africa declared Apartheid as the law of the land, thus cementing racism openly into state policy – just as Zionism formed the underpinnings of the Israeli polity.

Essentially, colonial Israel is Zionism materialized. And Zionism, the quintessential birth child of the colonial era like Apartheid, is racism repackaged and disguised.

The catastrophe of 59 years ago proved to be only the beginning of a systematic onslaught. Successive massacres followed as the policy of racialized institutional violence became a norm for the Zionist polity of Israel (for details, see FPA statement on the commemoration of the Deir Yassin Massacre).

Contextually, a dichotomy between two diametrically opposed forces was galvanized into a perpetual struggle definitional of the twentieth century: the colonists attempting to fortify their subjugation by any means necessary; while the Palestinian Arab people insisting on decolonization. In the balance of power, dying Western colonialism sees this struggle as its last stronghold in the Arab East.

Attempts to reduce the Palestinian struggle for liberation to that of a border dispute are underway. This is a dangerous process. It replaces the fundamental goal of liberation with an immediate partial relief from current Israeli policies. In that context, Palestine as a whole is re-configured politically and geographically to only equal areas within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. History is re-constituted to produce an alternative narrative written for the Palestinian people and not by them. And during a time when even politics is in the business of trend-setting, re-writers of history are actually setting new trends fashioned in Washington, DC, New York and London and peddled through Riyadh, Cairo, and Amman, at the hands of parasitic despots.

Ours, therefore, is also a battle of narratives and a struggle over the ownership of history. And as we set out to tell our story, we insist on fighting for every sentence and every word of that narrative, for it is a narrative formed at every turn by our pains and triumphs.

April 20, 2002 Revisited:

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, a new paradigm began to creep onto the political lexicon of movements and political institutions worldwide, particularly in the United States. The premise was that all people and rights are dispensable in the "war against terror". This was the pretense used by US government and the Israeli polity in all of their murderous campaigns. In the United States, the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim communities were particularly victimized, as they were portrayed wholesale as terrorists.

On March 29, 2002, using that backdrop of intimidation and fear, Ariel Sharon launched a full murderous assault on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, besieging many towns and refugee camps, particularly Janine. This was Sharon's futile attempt to repeat once more Israel's campaign of wholesale terror 20 years earlier in Lebanon. The goal was to fully subjugate the Palestinian resistance movement.

At that time, two coalitions were mobilizing to protest the war on Afghanistan, the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition and the United We March Coalition (the predecessor of UFPJ). Upon formation, A.N.S.W.E.R had already adopted a clear stance in support of the Palestinian people, including their right to return. Since inception, Palestinian Arab activists played a critical role in its leadership at all levels (as the case remains today). The United We March Coalition, which included liberal peace groups, would not take a position on Palestine citing Palestine as a "divisive issue." As the two coalitions began the discussion on uniting their efforts for a unified mobilization at the White House on April 20, Palestine again became the definitional issue, indicative of the character of the US peace movement.

The A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition, which actively includes the FPA in its membership and leadership, insisted that supporting the resistance of the Palestinian people was critical without which any mobilization at that time would be unprincipled. A.N.S.W.E.R proposed having two co-chairs for the proposed unified rally, a Palestinian activist along with Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio. A.N.S.W.E.R also proposed slogans in support of Palestine, Palestinian and Arab speakers, and the prominence of Arab, Muslim and Asian peoples in the formation of the march.

Typical of liberal US groups, United We March argued that the inclusion of Palestine would dissuade many from participating, and at best, the co-chair could be symbolic ("say a few words then get off the stage"), hereby openly tokenizing Arabs. Repeatedly, we were told the movement will not turn out for Palestine, and that we would be "risking a low turnout." A.N.S.W.E.R argued the contrary; that the movement must turn the corner and come out clearly in support of the Palestinian people. We stated there was no better time to stand strong given the extreme atmosphere of fear that had besieged the Arab, Muslim and Asian peoples as a result of the events of 9/11.

The discussion between the two sides was always heated and contentious – the Palestinian Arab representation of the FPA supported by the entirety of the A.N.S.W.E.R coalition insisting on full partnership while leaders of presumed peace organizations always searching for a way to tokenize a muzzled Arab presence.

This continued for years until UFPJ (formerly, "United We March") decided to declare once and for all its permanent divorce from the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition and the issues for which it stands. Of course, only to find itself (UFPJ) obligated now (June, 2007) to hold a national rally on the very issue it always attempted to avoid, lest it loses whatever credibility is left for it in the movement.

Banking on A.N.S.W.E.R' s erroneously anticipated failure, while also succumbing to weight of the grassroots, United We March attempted to straddle the fence by accepting a final unified rally and two separate marches. United We March also accepted A.N.S.W.E.R' s non-negotiable demand for a Palestinian co-chair and keynote speakers. All the while, United We March assumed that the A.N.S.W.E.R march would be minor since it prominently featured Palestine.

To the surprise of the liberal movement and the establishment as a whole, on the day of the protest a sea of Palestinian flags joined the march, as our community, young and old, turned out in tens of thousands to an historic A.N.S.W.E.R march of 100,000 strong in Washington DC and 35,000 strong in San Francisco, by far the largest ever pro-Palestine mobilization in the history of the US. United We March announced a crowd of 15 thousand.

This was a defining moment. From then on, A.N.S.W.E.R, anchored by the FPA and in alliance with the NCA and Al-Awda, continued its organizational and political program to lead the anti-war movement on Palestine. United We March evolved into United for Peace and Justice, still to repeat the same objections on Palestine for subsequent years many times over.

Following the April 20 mobilization, writers and presumed leaders of what would become UFPJ wrote disparagingly about the number of Arab and Muslim participation in the mobilization, some stating that it was "too much," others claiming it tainted the demonstrations and made "Americans" feel uncomfortable.

Our Community's Open Letter:

In the aftermath of April 20, 2002, those "shocked" by the turnout and leadership of our community on April 20, argued that the movement in the US was not really anti-Palestinian and that what evolved to be UFPJ and other associated groups would welcome the presence of Palestine in the movement. In reality, these were only false claims made to appease the growing distrust of grassroots activists of groups and presumed leaders seeking to marginalize the Palestinian voice and struggle. These claims came to a full test leading up to the March 20 Mobilization on 2004.

Once again, Palestine became the issue, as various groups within the milieu of UFPJ fought as hard as possible to keep it out. Again, we were told the presence of Palestine would diminish the movement, that it was not the issue, and that we had to "wait our turn". We refused, and fought back full force. Our challenge was to show that the movement in the US was not as exclusionary as many presumed leaders were, and that those leaders did not in any way reflect the popular sentiment of activists. We were challenged on 3 counts: (1) that the movement would not go on the record in support of the Palestinians and their right to return, (2) that the Palestinians did not have a wide base of support outside our own community, and (3) that our presence would diminish any projected protest. We accepted the challenge knowing too well that those making these claims were distant from the hearts and consciousness of activists.

In January 2004, our community prepared an "Open Letter from the Arab-American and Muslim Community to the US Anti-War Movement." This historic letter was launched with 41 organizational signatories ( http://arab- american. net/AboutUs/ aboutusindex. html ). It stated in part:

"1. We do not accept delinking the struggle of the Palestinian people from the anti-war movement, and regard the struggle in Palestine, as it is viewed worldwide, to be central to any peace and justice mobilization.

2. We insist that the Palestinian right to return and to self-determination are the key anchors of the Palestinian struggle, and that organizations that attempt to diminish, sidetrack, or abrogate these rights, regardless of any other position they may take on Palestine, are acting contrary to the will and aspiration of the Palestinian people."

As we launched this Open Letter, the same presumed leaders argued that it would not gain any support, some even working hard to prevent groups form signing on. To their dismay and shock, our letter gained the support of hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals from the full political spectrum of the peace movement, all affirming their support. Groups held meetings to affirm their support, from coast to coast spanning Alaska and Hawaii . Thus the first two challenges were decisively settled and UFPJ had to accept the presence of Palestine, but still with great hesitation. They agreed to join in a united mobilization with us provided that during the time they occupy the stage their own banner would be set on the stage instead. The banner held by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and our community prominently supported Palestine. The banner raised by UFPJ excluded Palestine . Additionally, UFPJ set out to eliminate Palestinian symbolism from the stage area, including the Palestinian flag, because presumably it represented violence and terrorism. And lest it is forgotten, we remind all that the March 20 mobilizations were massive in every sense, hence once again disputing the broken record fallacy that Palestine divides.

Moving Forward:

Today, as some in the liberal peace camp feel the need to champion Palestine, they are doing so while constructing a colonial paradigm of sort. They feel compelled to equate the victim with the victimizer in order to receive a hall pass to carry the Palestinian flag. They still refuse to support the Palestinian Right of Return, and we are openly challenging them to do so. They refuse to question the racist and colonial nature of Zionism, and we are challenging them to do so. They refuse to unequivocally unite with our community and allies on clear anti-imperialist principles, and we call on them to do so.

We close with an excerpt from our community's Open Letter of 2004:

"In confronting war, the people of Palestine and Iraq have paid dearly. They stand against the imperial project shoulder to shoulder with communities of color and the working class in the United States, along with great many subjugated peoples around the globe - from Afghanistan to Colombia, and from the Philippines to Vieques, and on. Without a doubt, the Palestinian and Iraqi people are both welded together in an inextricable unity at the forefront of the global anti-war movement, transforming themselves as a whole as its embodiment and paying in its defense with the dearest of all - their very existence. Yet, despite every home destroyed, child murdered, acre confiscated and tree uprooted, town colonized and ethnically cleansed, wall built, refugee remaining nation-less, and incremental robbery of their self-determination, they remain the very antithetical formulation of empire and with a vision of justice for all.

In the United States, we, Arab-Americans and Muslims have been maliciously targeted, stripped of our rights, and positioned outside the constitutional framework of this country. A new COINTELPRO has been unleashed against our homes and living rooms, as our fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters are plucked away and thrown into unknown prison cells. Thus, in a continuum of history, we stand with African Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and all others in the painful struggle for justice. From them all, we take our cue, for they are our predecessors and our partners in this long march."

The Free Palestine Alliance, USA
June 2007


18) Flip Side of the Dream
Op-Ed Columnist
June 16, 2007

Camden, N.J.

Emmanuel Wayne pressed his back against the shabby, one-story building, trying unsuccessfully to escape the downpour. The blue-and-white sign overhead said Bill’s Liquors.

I was standing there with him. The water pouring down the teenager’s face created a funhouse mirror effect, making it look like he was laughing and crying at the same time. It was an absurd place to conduct an interview, but a lot of things about the inner-city are absurd.

“I been looking for a job,” he said, “but you know ... .” He shrugged. “I went to the McDonald’s. I was up to the Cherry Hill Mall. Ain’t too much out here.”

It was a gloomy late afternoon. Throughout the rundown neighborhood, young people were gathered in clusters on porches, looking out at the rain. I talked to some and they told the same story as Emmanuel. No jobs. No money.

“That’s why people go on the hustle,” said one young man. “Got to get the money somewhere.”

The summer job outlook for teenagers is beyond bleak. A modest 157,000 jobs were added to the nation’s payrolls in May. But teen employment fell for the fifth consecutive month, an ominous trend as we head into the summer months when millions of additional teenagers join in the hunt for jobs.

From January through May, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, “the national teen employment rate averaged only 33.1 percent, tying for the lowest employment rate in the past 60 years.”

For youngsters like Emmanuel Wayne and others in this distressed city just a stone’s throw from Philadelphia, the problem is much worse. Last summer, the employment rate for black teens from low-income families was an abysmal 18 percent.

This is the flip side of the American dream. Kids who grow up poor and never work at a regular job tend not to think in terms of postgraduate degrees, marriages and honeymoons, careers and the cost of educating the next generation.

A steady job could make all the difference. Along with the paycheck comes a sense of the possibilities. Kids develop a clearer understanding of the value of education and are more likely to stay in school. The heightened sense of self-worth that comes from gainful employment can be a bulwark against negative peer pressure. Contacts are made and a work history established.

“The more you work today, the more you’re going to work tomorrow,” said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies. “And the more you work while you’re in school, the easier it is to transition to the labor market when you graduate.”

It seems obvious that we should be putting as many young people to work as possible, but the opposite is happening. The youth labor market in the U.S. has all but collapsed. Teens were especially hard hit by the recession that followed the employment boom of the late 1990s, and there has been no substantial recovery in the teen job market since then.

Years ago the federal government played a major role in bolstering job opportunities for teenagers. There was substantial bipartisan support for both year-round and summer employment programs. But that important commitment vanished with the conservative onslaught of recent years.

The result was inevitable. As the center has reported, “Far fewer youth across the nation are gaining exposure to the job market and to the real world of work than in the late 1980s and 1990s.”

What you are left with are frustrated youngsters, full of energy but lacking appropriate outlets, who have trouble figuring out what to do with themselves. It’s an environment that is all but guaranteed to spawn bad choices.

I asked Emmanuel what he might do if he couldn’t find a job for the summer.

“Don’t know,” he said. “I got a buddy doing this and that. He could help me out.”

The rain had eased up and Emmanuel was off. A man named Darnell, who said he was 23, came out of the liquor store. He and I talked for awhile about the summer prospects for teens in the neighborhood.

“Well, there ain’t no jobs in Camden,” he said. “Not for teenagers. If you can’t get a job, you have to hustle. People be pushing weed. Cutting hair. Lifting stuff. The girls do their thing. It ain’t no picnic out here. It’s depressing.”


19) Palestinians at War
June 15, 2007

In two days of fierce fighting, the gunmen of Hamas have virtually taken over the Gaza Strip. This is a defeat for Palestinians, and a defeat for Israeli and American policy as well.

It may sometimes look like there’s not very much of a choice between the gunmen of Fatah and the gunmen of Hamas. But there is. Fatah accepts Israel’s existence and wants to negotiate with it over Palestinian statehood. It also accepts the authority of past agreements signed by the Palestinians, including agreements to stop terrorism. Hamas accepts none of these things, and sees no contradiction between its terrorist deeds and its demands that its governing officials be treated like those of any state.

Ever since Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections last January, President Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel have done everything they could think of to isolate Hamas and far less than they might have to help Fatah’s most important remaining leader, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Seventeen months later, Hamas is that much stronger and Fatah is that much weaker. With the pretense of joint government now shattered, the Palestinian power struggle is certain to continue, even to intensify. Yesterday, Mr. Abbas dismissed the prime minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas, and called for new elections. With Hamas victorious in Gaza, the terrain of the contest will likely shift to the West Bank.

For Washington and Jerusalem to exert constructive influence in this dangerous situation, they urgently need to adopt a new and wiser approach to Palestinian politics. That means doing more to help Mr. Abbas in the only currency that really counts, easing the lives of ordinary Palestinians.

That should include a total freeze on settlement building and expansion, a prompt easing of the onerous, humiliating and economically strangulating blockades on Palestinian movements within the West Bank, and the swift release to Mr. Abbas’s office of all tax revenues rightfully belonging to the Palestinians but still in Israeli hands.

It should also include an offer of regular, substantive talks with Mr. Abbas on issues related to a final peace settlement, like borders and provisions assuring the economic viability of an eventual Palestinian state. Obviously, there can be no final peace agreement until Hamas either changes its policies or is chased from power. But excluding Palestinian statehood from the negotiating agenda can only help Hamas.

Hamas’s future diplomatic treatment should depend strictly on its own behavior. If it is ever willing to stop engaging in terrorism and live up to the standards expected of law-abiding governments, there will be something for Israeli and American officials to discuss with it. The past few days offer little encouragement in that regard.

Taking these kind of risks to help Mr. Abbas looks a lot dicier now than it did 17 months ago, or even 17 days ago. But failing to take them invites a much more menacing specter — a replay before too long of this week’s Gaza events in the much more strategically important West Bank.


20) Fatah Seizes Public Buildings in the West Bank
June 16, 2007

JERUSALEM, June 16 — The Fatah faction, crushed in Gaza, moved to consolidate control over the West Bank today, seizing public buildings, including the Parliament, and preparing to swear in a new government that did not include its rival, Hamas.

The moves seemed to solidify the split between Palestinians, after five days of factional fighting ended on Thursday with Hamas, an Islamic group, in full control of the crowded coastal strip of Gaza. They also seemed to raise the risk of violence spreading to the occupied West Bank, where the secular and nationalist Fatah is dominant but Hamas retains pockets of strength — and some armed fighters, though the Israeli Army keeps them largely underground.

But with Hamas leaders keeping a low profile in the West Bank, there was no resistance today as Fatah gunmen took over the Parliament in Ramallah and government buildings in Hebron and Nablus. There were reports that other buildings controlled by Hamas, including charity and political offices, were seized.

Foreign governments strongly protested Hamas’s takeover of Gaza — and Palestinian leaders said today that an American official had offered concrete support for a new non-Hamas government led by an independent economist, Salam Fayyad, even if limited only to the West Bank.

The American consul general in Jerusalem, Jacob Walles, met with Fatah leaders in Ramallah, and Palestinian officials said he had indicated that the United States would remove the ban it imposed on direct financial aid after a Hamas-led government came to power in March 2006.

“There won’t be any obstacles economically and politically in terms of re-engaging with this government,” Mr. Walles was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying after the meeting. “ They will have full support.”

He added, “We certainly want to be providing significant assistance again, for economic development and also to support the legitimate security forces.”

On Thursday, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, dismissed the Hamas-led government amid the fighting that led to Fatah’s virtual expulsion from Gaza. He continued work today to assemble a new government that will largely control only the much larger West Bank, which sprawls westward from the Jordan River and contains an estimated 2.5 million Palestinians, compared to 1.5 million in Gaza.

One Palestinian official was quoted as saying that Mr. Walles’s condition for renewed aid was that no one with ties to Hamas — classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union — be included in the government, which may be announced on Sunday. Fatah seemed unlikely to do so: One aide to Mr. Abbas, Yasir Abed Rabbo, said in a speech today that “the new government will make all efforts to put an end to the terror of these certain terrorist groups that are seeking to shake the security of the place.”

Meanwhile, Ismail Haniya, who had served as the Hamas prime minister in the government Mr. Abbas dismissed, told the French newspaper Le Figaro that Hamas would not seek to set up a rival government that claims legitimacy over all Palestinians.

“Gaza belongs to all the Palestinian people and not just Hamas,” he was quoted as saying.

A day after looters sacked the official presidential compound and other Fatah buildings in Gaza, the house in Gaza of Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader who died in 2004, was also entered forcibly. But guards protected the house of Mr. Abbas, raising the green Hamas flag over it but preventing looting — leaving in place a famous photograph of Mr. Abbas with President Bill Clinton at the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993. Those agreements, now in tatters, were aimed at finding peace with Israel and an independent Palestinian state.


21) U.S. Begins New Offensive Against Insurgents in Iraq
Filed at 9:29 a.m. ET
June 16, 2007

BAGHDAD (AP) -- The U.S. military, which just days ago completed its latest troop buildup in Iraq, has launched a large offensive operation in several al-Qaida strongholds around Baghdad, the top U.S. commander said Saturday.

Gen. David Petraeus said the operation began in the last 24 hours and will put forces into key areas surrounding Baghdad that, according to intelligence, al-Qaida is using to base some of its car bomb operations.

Petraeus, who met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates at a morning breakfast, also said that he doesn't have all the American troops he might want, but he knows he's got all he's going to get.

''There's never been a military commander in history who wouldn't like to have more of something or other -- that characterizes all of us here,'' he told reporters traveling with Gates. ''The fact is frankly that we have all that our country is going to provide us in terms of combat forces. That is really it right now.''

He said the buildup of nearly 30,000 additional forces that has just been completed allowed him to launch the latest assault. The move, he said, is allowing him to send operations for the first time into ''a number of areas around Baghdad, in particular to go into areas that were sanctuaries in the past of al-Qaida.''

He said: ''Our job now, frankly, along with the job of our Iraqi counterparts ... is to do everything that we can with the additional forces that we have.''

Underscoring the challenges ahead, Gates arrival Friday night for his unannounced visit, brought him to a city all but shut down by a security lockdown. Iraqi leaders imposed a strict curfew this week after a bombing of an important shrine north of the city.

It is Gates' fourth trip to Iraq since he took over the Defense Department last December. He was meeting with military and political leaders to assess progress, and to continue to urge the Iraqi government to move more quickly toward reconciliation and stabilizing their country.

Petraeus provided few details of the new offensive, but said he believes it will help the military make some progress in Iraq, where the war is in its fifth year and U.S. casualties have surpassed 3,500.

Gates and his military leaders are under intense pressure from Congress and the American public to begin to show real progress in Iraq so that troop withdrawals can start.

There are currently about 155,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

At the same time, Gates and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker expressed continuing frustration with the lack of political progress by the Iraqis to meet a number of benchmarks set by the U.S., including oil revenue-sharing legislation and political reconciliation.

''We are pressing hard on those,'' said Crocker. ''The Iraqi government is pressing itself. Progress has ben frustratingly slow. We will see where we are by September.''

Gates also visited the al-Madain Joint Security Station Saturday morning in southeast Baghdad, traveling under tight security, and wearing body armor. His helicopter sent up a cloud of dust as it set down in the rectangular, walled station in the largely Shiite enclave of Karada, a relatively stable area of the city.

Gates heard from both Iraqi and U.S. military officials, who talked about the effort to put as many as 60 of the security outposts in the Baghdad region. There are about 27 joint security stations, which are staffed by Iraqi police and army soldiers as well as U.S. troops. And there are about the same number of smaller combat outposts.

Col. Jeffrey Bannister, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division which has forces at the station, said the facility was a model for Baghdad and ''has a very good fusion effect amongst the Iraqis.''

He added, however, that his troops have faced a lot of newer armor-piercing roadside bombs. ''We are at the tip of the spear for that,'' he told reporters who traveled to the station with Gates.

Gates thanked the Iraqi forces there for their service and expressed sympathy for those who have been wounded and killed. ''They are serving the interests of the Iraqi people,'' Gates said.

Gates is the third top U.S. official to travel to Baghdad this week to press the Iraqi government to move more quickly toward political reconciliation and other vital reforms that many see as critical to putting a cap on the violence.

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East, Adm. William Fallon carried that message to the Iraqis last weekend, and John Negroponte, the No. 2 State Department official, reinforced it in a visit midweek.

Gates also was cautious in his assessment of the progress in the war. He's to give Congress an update next month, and a full review in September, of how well the buildup ordered by President Bush has worked.

''It remains to be seen how much progress will be made over the course of the next two or three months,'' Gates said, adding ''There are some positive trends, there are some negative trends.''


22) Iran Strategy Stirs Debate at White House
June 16, 2007

WASHINGTON, June 15 — A year after President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced a new strategy toward Iran, a behind-the-scenes debate has broken out within the administration over whether the approach has any hope of reining in Iran’s nuclear program, according to senior administration officials.

The debate has pitted Ms. Rice and her deputies, who appear to be winning so far, against the few remaining hawks inside the administration, especially those in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office who, according to some people familiar with the discussions, are pressing for greater consideration of military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.

In the year since Ms. Rice announced the new strategy for the United States to join forces with Europe, Russia and China to press Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, Iran has installed more than a thousand centrifuges to enrich uranium. The International Atomic Energy Agency predicts that 8,000 or so could be spinning by the end of the year, if Iran surmounts its technical problems.

Those hard numbers are at the core of the debate within the administration over whether Mr. Bush should warn Iran’s leaders that he will not allow them to get beyond some yet-undefined milestones, leaving the implication that a military strike on the country’s facilities is still an option.

Even beyond its nuclear program, Iran is emerging as an increasing source of trouble for the Bush administration by inflaming the insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and in Gaza, where it has provided military and financial support to the militant Islamic group Hamas, which now controls the Gaza Strip.

Even so, friends and associates of Ms. Rice who have talked with her recently say she has increasingly moved toward the European position that the diplomatic path she has laid out is the only real option for Mr. Bush, even though it has so far failed to deter Iran from enriching uranium, and that a military strike would be disastrous.

The accounts were provided by officials at the State Department, White House and the Pentagon who are on both sides of the debate, as well as people who have spoken with members of Mr. Cheney’s staff and with Ms. Rice. The officials said they were willing to explain the thinking behind their positions, but would do so only on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Bush has publicly vowed that he would never “tolerate” a nuclear Iran, and the question at the core of the debate within the administration is when and whether it makes sense to shift course.

The issue was raised at a closed-door White House meeting recently when the departing deputy national security adviser, J. D. Crouch, told senior officials that President Bush needed an assessment of how the stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program was likely to play out over the next 18 months, said officials briefed on the meeting.

In response, R. Nicholas Burns, an under secretary of state who is the chief American strategist on Iran, told the group that negotiations with Tehran could still be going on when Mr. Bush leaves office in January 2009. The hawks in the room reported later that they were deeply unhappy — but not surprised — by Mr. Burns’s assessment, which they interpreted as a tacit acknowledgment that the Bush administration had no “red line” beyond which Iran would not be permitted to step.

But conservatives inside the administration have continued in private to press for a tougher line, making arguments that their allies outside government are voicing publicly. “Regime change or the use of force are the only available options to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons capability, if they want it,” said John R. Bolton, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Only a few weeks ago, one of Mr. Cheney’s top aides, David Wurmser, told conservative research groups and consulting firms in Washington that Mr. Cheney believed that Ms. Rice’s diplomatic strategy was failing, and that by next spring Mr. Bush might have to decide whether to take military action.

The vice president’s office has declined to talk about Mr. Wurmser’s statements, and says Mr. Cheney is fully on board with the president’s strategy. In a June 1 article for Commentary magazine, the neoconservative editor Norman Podhoretz laid out what a headline described as “The Case for Bombing Iran.”

“In short, the plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of military force — any more than there was an alternative to force if Hitler was to be stopped in 1938,” Mr. Podhoretz wrote.

Mr. Burns and officials from the Treasury Department have been trying to use the mounting conservative calls for a military strike to press Europe and Russia to expand economic sanctions against Iran. Just last week, Israel’s transportation minister and former defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, visited Washington and told Ms. Rice that sanctions must be strong enough to get the Iranians to stop enriching uranium by the end of 2007.

While Mr. Mofaz did not threaten a military strike, Israeli officials said he told Ms. Rice that by the end of the year, Israel “would have to reassess where we are.”

The State Department and Treasury officials are pushing for a stronger set of United Nations Security Council sanctions against members of Iran’s government, including an extensive travel ban and further moves to restrict the ability of Iran’s financial institutions to do business outside of Iran. Beyond that, American officials have been trying to get European and Asian banks to take additional steps, outside of the Security Council, against Iran.

“We’re saying to them, ‘Look, you need to help us make the diplomacy succeed, and you guys need to stop business as usual with Iran,’ ” an administration official said. “We’re not just sitting here ignoring reality.”

But the fallout from the Iraq war has severely limited the Bush administration’s ability to maneuver on the Iran nuclear issue and has left many in the administration, and certainly America’s allies and critics in Europe, firmly against military strikes on Iran. On Thursday, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the international nuclear watchdog agency, warned anew that military action against Iran would “be an act of madness.”

The debate over “red lines” is a familiar one inside the Bush White House that last arose in 2002 over North Korea. When the North Koreans threw out international inspectors on the last day of that year and soon declared that they planned to reprocess 8,000 rods of spent fuel into weapons-grade plutonium, President Bush had to decide whether to declare that if North Korea moved toward weapons, it could face a military strike on its facilities.

The Pentagon had drawn up an extensive plan for taking out those facilities, though with little enthusiasm, because it feared it could not control North Korea’s response, and the administration chose not to delivery any ultimatum. North Korea tested a nuclear weapon last October, and American intelligence officials estimate it now has the fuel for eight or more weapons.

Iran is far behind the North Koreans; it is believed to be three to eight years away from its first weapon, American intelligence officials have told Congress. Conservatives argue that if the administration fails to establish a line over which Iran must not step, the enrichment of uranium will go ahead, eventually giving the Iranians fuel that, with additional enrichment out of the sight of inspectors, it could use for weapons.

To date, however, the administration has been hesitant about saying that it will not permit Iran to produce more than a given amount of fuel, out of concern that Iran’s hard-liners would simply see that figure as a goal.

In the year since the United States made its last offer to Iran, the Iranians have gone from having a few dozen centrifuges in operation to building a facility that at last count, a month ago, had more than 1,300. “The pace of negotiations have lagged behind the pace of the Iranian nuclear program,” said Robert Joseph, the former under secretary of state for international security, who left his post partly over his opposition to the administration’s recent deal with North Korea.


23) In Aftermath of Gaza Battle, Grim Realities
June 16, 2007

GAZA, June 15 — This packed, impoverished coastal strip had a postrevolutionary feel on Friday: the green flag of Hamas, victor over Fatah in what amounted to a five-day civil war, flew over public buildings where once the multicolored Palestinian one had been.

While the violence was largely over, people worried not only about daily survival but also about how the round of deadly infighting — killing a reported 116 people — postponed hope for an independent and unified Palestinian state.

“These are the darkest days of my life,” said Ahmad Sawafiri, 47, a taxi driver. “What comes after all of this?

“We went backward 100 years.”

Mr. Sawafiri stood in a disgusted crowd in Gaza City watching looters strip the sumptuous villa of Muhammad Dahlan, a former Fatah security chief and bitter rival of Hamas, who was not in Gaza.

It was, for many Palestinians, a confusing and unaccustomed sight: black-hooded and normally disciplined Hamas fighters, seemingly driven by devotion to God, stripping away chandeliers, carpets, a bathtub — earthly goods but also symbols of what many see as Fatah’s corruption and excess. After the fighters left, poor people with donkey carts arrived, sweeping up stray bits of wood and metal and even uprooting the dapper Mr. Dahlan’s garden plants.

“I will explain it to you,” said one looter, Mazen Qasas, a vendor. “I am 34. I am married. I have six children. I am looking for a lamp, anything I can sell or use for my poor house. We are very poor. This is public property. These are corrupt people,” he said, referring to Fatah leaders. “They took everything.”

Abu Muhammad Ashor, a 33-year-old policeman who until recently supported Fatah, looked with amazement and anger at the fine beige tiles that lined Mr. Dahlan’s living room. “Look at these tiles,” he said. “With these tiles, we all could have bread every day.”

Looters also descended on the presidential compound of Mahmoud Abbas and an upscale beach compound used by leading members of Fatah. Hamas, which built its support partly on a reputation for being above corruption, condemned the looting, on television and from the pulpits on the Muslim day of prayer, as “illegitimate and against religion,” demanding that the looters return all they took.

In the West Bank, Mr. Abbas named Salam Fayyad, an independent lawmaker and former World Bank economist who is respected in the West, to be prime minister, replacing Ismail Haniya of Hamas, whom Mr. Abbas dismissed Thursday night. But Hamas spokesmen in Gaza said that Mr. Haniya remained in office.

While Mr. Abbas faced much criticism among Palestinians for not being able to keep control, the selection seemed aimed at shoring up one possible branch of strength: help from outside. Mr. Fayyad, who served as finance minister in the national unity government Mr. Abbas dismissed, had been trying to drum up support to have international aid sent through a special Palestine Liberation Organization bank account in order to avoid Hamas.

Now that may not be necessary, with Israel and the West embracing the idea of a non-Hamas government, even if its powers are limited to the West Bank.

With Israeli and Western powers highly unlikely to start giving money to Hamas, which the United States and the European Union classify as a terrorist group, the Bush administration and other Western governments made clear on Friday that they would continue to work with Mr. Abbas. Over the last day, Israel has also suggested anew it could gradually hand over the remaining Palestinian tax revenues, about $562 million, withheld since Hamas took power a year ago in March.

Hamas officials immediately dismissed Mr. Abbas’s moves to create a new government.

“No internal formula in the Palestinian territories will hold without national agreement and without respecting the legitimacy of the election,” Mr. Haniya said before Friday Prayer in Gaza City. He was referring to Hamas’s victory in parliamentary elections in January 2006, a surprising victory that underscored deep dissatisfaction with Fatah and set the two parties on a collision course.

But the prospect of an Islamic state in Gaza under Hamas control — rising amid similar worries of Islamic extremism in Iraq and Lebanon — seemed to strengthen the commitment in America and Israel to Mr. Abbas, however weakened he may be internally.

“No one wants to abandon the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in the Gaza Strip to the mercies of a terrorist organization,” a White House spokesman, Scott Stanzel, said in Washington.

The so-called quartet of Middle East peace brokers — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — held an emergency teleconference on Friday in which they pledged full support to Mr. Abbas and expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Reuters reported.

Israel has refused to negotiate with Hamas unless it fulfills several conditions, including renouncing violence and recognizing Israel’s right to exist, and on Friday Israeli officials suggested that Hamas’s takeover of Gaza had not changed that approach.

“The goal is a two-state solution, or to give the Palestinians their own possibility to fulfill their aspirations in a state of their own,” the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, said Friday in Lisbon, Reuters reported.

“We are waiting, watching the situation very closely,” she added. “But on the other hand we are going to keep this strategy of dialogue with the moderates and to send some hope for those who support their vision.”

In Israel, the crisis speeded up a key appointment in the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is traveling this weekend to Washington to meet with President Bush. At a time of deep concerns about security in Israel, Mr. Olmert, who had planned to make the appointment only after he returned, named Ehud Barak, the former prime minister recently chosen to lead the Labor Party, as defense minister.

Meantime, Israel kept the borders sealed to Gaza, a thin and densely packed strip of 1.5 million people wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. Poverty has increased markedly since Western governments virtually shut off direct aid to the Hamas government, and humanitarian groups warned of greater suffering if the borders remain shut.

Amid the confusion and some scattered violence — two revenge killings were reported Friday in Gaza — Hamas leaders suggested that their bolstered control in Gaza could help free a BBC reporter, Alan Johnston, kidnapped in Gaza in March.

“We will not allow for his continued detention,” a spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, Abu Obeidah, said in Gaza on Friday.

Mr. Johnston is believed to be held by the Dagmush clan, which has at different times been allied with Hamas and Fatah.

Taghreed El-Khodary reported from Gaza, and Ian Fisher from Jerusalem.


24) F.B.I. Investigated Politics in ’46 Lynching of 2 Georgia Couples
June 16, 2007

MONROE, Ga., June 15 (AP) — Newly released files about the lynching of two black couples more than 60 years ago show that the F.B.I. investigated suspicions that a three-term governor of Georgia sanctioned the killings to sway rural white voters in a tough election campaign.

The 3,725 pages obtained by The Associated Press do not make conclusions about the still-unsolved killings at Moore’s Ford Bridge. But they raise the possibility that the politics of the governor, Eugene Talmadge, may have been a factor.

Speaking of Mr. Talmadge, Robert Pratt, a University of Georgia history professor who has studied the case, said he was not surprised that “historians over the years have concluded the violently racist tone of his 1946 campaign may have been indirectly responsible for the violence that came at Moore’s Ford.”

Mr. Talmadge, a Democrat who died just months after his 1946 election to a fourth term, dominated Georgia politics in the 1930s and 1940s with a mix of racism and pocketbook populism.

He came under scrutiny from the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the lynchings because of a visit he made to the northern Georgia town of Monroe two days before the Democratic primary for governor and a day after a highly charged racial incident there, a fight in which a black sharecropper stabbed a white farmer. The sharecropper was one of the four people who would be lynched.

In a report sent to the F.B.I. director, J. Edgar Hoover, the agent in charge of the investigation said Mr. Talmadge met with George Hester, the brother of the stabbing victim. Citing an unconfirmed witness statement, the agent said the governor offered immunity to anyone “taking care of Negro.”

Mr. Talmadge faced a tough challenge in the Democratic primary, and Walton County, where Monroe is situated, was up for grabs.

On Election Day, Mr. Talmadge won the county by roughly 200 votes, with overwhelming support from the Blasingame District, where the Hester family lived.


25) Cost of Gas and Food Rose Sharply Last Month
June 16, 2007

Americans felt the pinch of higher gas prices and eroding wages last month, even as an important gauge of inflation drifted lower, government figures showed yesterday.

Over all, the Consumer Price Index rose 0.7 percent in May, the Labor Department reported. The core rate, which excludes food and energy, was up just 0.1 percent, a welcome development that encourages the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates steady.

The news on the core rate, which has been inching steadily downward, cheered investors, who continued a stock rally that started midweek.

But for consumers, the news was hardly reassuring. Prices for staple household purchases like gasoline and food rose to even higher levels last month, effectively causing most Americans to take a pay cut. After taking inflation into account, the average weekly earnings for workers in nonmanagement jobs — some 80 percent of the work force — fell for the second consecutive month in May.

Consumer sentiment readings are reflecting some of that unease. A closely watched survey by the University of Michigan released yesterday found that consumer confidence this month dropped to the lowest level in 10 months. Americans also now expect significantly higher inflation than they expected a few months ago, the survey said.

Wall Street viewed the diminishing core rate of inflation as something that would put central bankers at ease. Core inflation, which economists and Federal Reserve officials consider a better measure of underlying price pressures because it excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose at a slower annual pace for the third consecutive month.

What Wall Street sees as good news, however, is not always good news for the average working American.

“Everybody has to eat, and everybody has to drive to work,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist for Wachovia. “For households, the headline number truly is the more important number, and clearly the run-up in gasoline prices in the last few months has left consumers with less money to spend on everything else.”

“I guess we need to walk to work and bring a brown bag lunch,” he added.

Gas prices jumped 10.5 percent last month, compared with an increase of 4.7 percent in April. Food prices rose 0.3 percent but are up sharply so far this year.

Beef prices have risen 5.1 percent, poultry prices 4.3 percent and pork prices 3.4 percent.

But steady and falling prices for other goods held down core inflation to 2.2 percent for the last 12 months. In April, the annual rate was 2.3 percent, while the monthly rate was 0.2 percent.

Overall inflation increased 2.7 percent annualized in May, compared with 2.6 percent in April. On a monthly basis, it was 0.4 percent in April.

Much of the reason for the ebbing in core inflation is housing costs, which are heavily weighted in the core calculation. They are rising more slowly than they were a year ago.

Core inflation may be easing, but few economists think the Fed could seriously consider lowering interest rates this year. For one thing, economic growth is expected to pick up again the remainder of this year. Also, it is still unclear whether rising energy prices will seep into other prices and push inflation higher.

But at the very least, the lower inflation readings lately could help convince Fed officials that interest rates do not need to go higher. The possibility they could be pressed to increase rates sent shivers through the stock market last week.

The downward trend of core inflation could also allow the Fed to change the language in its statement after policy makers meet, typically a precursor to a rate cut. In its statements so far, the central bank has held firm to its view that inflation is the biggest threat to the economy.

Ian Shepherdson, chief United States economist with High Frequency Economics, said in a research report yesterday that the recent trajectory of inflation raises “the question of just how long the Fed can credibly continue to argue that there is upside inflation risk.”

But the Fed is known to move at a glacial pace when it comes to any shift in tenor.

“It’s too early to say that inflation isn’t an issue,” said James Knightley, senior economist with ING Wholesale Banking. Like other economists who examined the numbers yesterday, Mr. Knightley noted that the 0.1 percent core inflation figure for May was rounded down from 0.149 — a negligible difference from April’s 0.177 percent.

Because energy prices remain volatile, it is to the Fed’s benefit to keep talking tough on inflation to prevent any spillover into the rest of the economy.

“Retailers are discounting to prevent losing customers who are struggling to pay their gasoline bills,” said Christopher Low, chief economist with FTN Financial.

“When energy prices are rising, other prices tend to rise less. When energy prices fall back, other prices will sort of regain some. Because of that, there’s inevitably always something for Fed officials to worry about.”


26) Globalization in Every Loaf
June 16, 2007

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — In a glassed-off area in the headquarters of Sara Lee, a handful of specialists study computer screens and flat-screen televisions beaming the latest weather reports and commodity prices. They are sourcing ingredients from all over the world to make Sara Lee’s assortment of breads, deli meats and microwaveable desserts.

The lowering of trade barriers more than a decade ago has pushed food companies to scour the globe for more exotic — or the cheapest — ingredients to compete in a more global marketplace, not unlike automakers shipping in parts from all over. But with America’s relatively permissible food-import rules and weak inspection regime, is the trend to assemble food from so many far-flung locations heightening the risks of contamination?

“Once ingredients are incorporated into processed foods, it is hard to check whether they come from overseas or to verify if there are any unsafe contaminants in the products,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington lobby group. “This is increasing the chances that people will get unsafe food.”

The concerns of Mr. Jacobson and some in Congress are being stoked by the recent scandal involving pet food contaminated with an industrial chemical called melamine and imported from China, which has resulted in thousands of pets being sickened or killed.

Food industry executives say they understand the risks of foreign sourcing and are taking pains to mitigate them.

“Ingredients from overseas are not the issue,” said Robert Earl, senior director of nutrition policy at the Grocery Manufacturers of America, a trade group that represents many of the largest food processors. “The problem comes from incorrect practices from manufacturers that happen to be in another country.”

David L. Brown, Sara Lee’s vice president for procurement, said consumers should not be concerned. “We are going to do our homework,” he said, including vetting foreign factories and in some cases investing money to improve food-safety standards. “It is our responsibility to make sure what we are feeding people is safe. But the more variables you enter into, the more risk you have naturally. It is all about how you address those unknowns.”

The controls in place to ensure that foreign-sourced ingredients are safe “are evolving as the world changes,” Mr. Brown said.

Some people say they still have a long way to go. In the weeks since the pet food controversy broke, federal investigators have also discovered toxic toothpaste exported from China and melamine-laced ingredients for fish feed manufactured in Toledo, Ohio. The discoveries have prompted new calls by Congress to overhaul responsibility for America’s food-safety system, which is currently shared by the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture and a grab bag of other agencies.

Critics say the F.D.A., which bears the bulk of the food-safety load, is woefully underfinanced and understaffed, and they note that fewer than 1 percent of imported food shipments undergo laboratory analysis. The number of food inspectors has decreased in the last five years.

The F.D.A. is exploring ways to use risk analysis to try to pinpoint food shipments that might pose hazards, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. Under the approach, countries and private companies might be required to provide the F.D.A. with more information about imported food.

The rise in imported ingredients has been accompanied by an explosion in imported food generally: food imports more than doubled in the last decade, to $79.9 billion, according to the United States International Trade Commission. Consumers can only guess from reading most labels that individual food products today contain ingredients from a handful of continents.

Despite having the world’s most expansive and efficient agricultural sector, America is hardly the only place where large food processors like Sara Lee, Kraft and General Mills have looked to acquire the dozens of ingredients that make up their microwaveable meals, processed cheeses, baked snack foods and breakfast cereals.

What trade commission figures show is that ingredients are streaming in from more than 100 countries, including China, India, the Philippines and countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In some cases, consumer demand for more ethnic foods in the United States is pushing companies to import harder-to-find foods from exotic locales, but in other cases the phenomenon is simply a function of the way modern processed foods are assembled. The imported ingredients include caseins and caseinates (enzymes found in milk that are used as milk protein substitutes for pizza cheeses) and gums and resins that are used as binders to, for example, give chicken nuggets a certain consistency.

The scope of the global food marketplace is evident on the Web site of the Institute of Food Technologists. There, for the last six years, the Food Technology Buyer’s Guide has offered places to buy ingredients from around the world.

Looking for stabilizers or thickeners? The buyer’s guide offers more than 100 companies that sell those products, including a dozen manufacturers in China. There are 27 companies that offer “release agents,” a food additive, based everywhere from India to Illinois, and the same number of manufacturers peddling “foaming agents,” available in Canada, China and the Netherlands, to name a few.

The food industry bristles at the notion that a greater diversity of foreign ingredient suppliers could increase risks for consumers. Executives at food companies say that they willingly bear the burden of ensuring the safety of their suppliers’ plants and products.

“It’s on us,” said Mr. Brown of Sara Lee. “We can’t sit around and wait for government to iron these things out. We have a responsibility to our consumers. We are the ones that have to step up and make the assurances.”

Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, said that the discovery of melamine in pet food illustrated how standards are not being uniformly enforced in foreign plants. With the F.D.A.’s resources overtaxed and with the agency lacking much authority to regulate overseas practices, the responsibility does fall mostly to the food companies, she said. She has been pushing to establish a more powerful food safety agency separate from the F.D.A.

“We need to modernize our food safety system,” Representative DeLauro said in an interview. “The risks are only going to get greater with increased globalization.”

The demand for more imported ingredients has also been propelled by the quest of chain stores and food manufacturers to offer replicable taste. “If you are Pizza Hut, you want consumers in China to be able to taste the same exact pizza in Chicago,” said Catherine Donnelley, a microbiologist at the University of Vermont’s nutrition and food science department. “That kind of uniformity requires that you modify food. You can’t make a natural cheese and expect it to melt and brown consistently.”

Sara Lee’s push some five years ago to establish a national brand of bread helped spur the company to centralize its global ingredient purchasing. Different enzymes and protein sources, for example, are used to make the company’s popular “soft & smooth” breads, which are intended to deliver whole grain nutrition but have the taste and texture of traditional white bread.

In Sara Lee’s purchasing pit, called the “nerve center,” Mr. Brown encourages the team of 20 or so procurement specialists to engage in high-level discussions about energy prices, weather and agricultural commodity trends (like the ethanol boom) in charting purchasing strategies.

Two years ago, separate procurement operations in several cities were centralized here in Downers Grove. Today, up to a third of the hundreds of suppliers Sara Lee uses are based overseas or have foreign operations. Mr. Brown’s group focuses on about 30 countries. Cocoa comes from Africa, wheat gluten from Europe and, increasingly, China. Many of the food chemicals come from Asia, as does most of the honey.

“We could make a case for having something on every continent other than Antarctica,” he said.

Andrew Martin contributed reporting.




Meadow Birds in Precipitous Decline, Audubon Says
June 15, 2007

Strike in South Africa expands
By Geoff Hill
Published June 12, 2007

Oregon: More Than 165 Workers Are Detained After Raid
More than 165 workers were detained to be processed for possible deportation after federal agents raided the Fresh Del Monte Produce food-processing plant and two offices of a staffing company in Portland. Three people were indicted on immigration, illegal documents and identity theft charges. An official at Fresh Del Monte Produce Company headquarters in Coral Gables, Fla., said the company could not comment until federal investigators provided it with more information. Mayor Tom Potter of Portland criticized the raids. The three arrests were understandable, Mr. Potter said, but “to go after local workers who are here to support their families while filling the demands of local businesses for their labor is bad policy.”
June 13, 2007

Robert Fisk: Lies and outrages... would you believe it?
It was Israel which attacked Egypt after Nasser closed the straits of Tiran
Published: 09 June 2007

Judge Throws Out Sentence in Teen Sex Case
June 11, 2007

US Military Envisions "Post-Occupation" Force
"US military officials are increasingly envisioning a "post-occupation" troop presence in Iraq that neither maintains current levels nor leads to a complete pullout, but aims for a smaller, longer-term force that would remain in the country for years."

Lieberman Backs Limited U.S. Attacks on Iran
June 10, 2007

Biologists Make Skin Cells Work Like Stem Cells
June 7, 2007

Report Confirms CIA Secret Prisons in Europe

The Dirty Water Underground
May 31, 2007

A Hot-Selling Weapon, an Inviting Target
June 3, 2007

Surf’s Up, but the Water Is Brown
June 3, 2007
Los Angeles

When Should a Kid Start Kindergarten?
June 3, 2007

After Sanctions, Doctors Get Drug Company Pay
June 3, 2007

Somalia: The Other (Hidden) War for Oil
by Carl Bloice; Black Commentator
May 07, 2007




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


Animated Video Preview
Narrated by Peter Coyote
Is now on YouTube and Google Video

We are planning on making the ADDICTED To WAR movie.
Can you let me know what you think about this animated preview?
Do you think it would work as a full length film?
Please send your response to:
Fdorrel@sbcglobal. net or Fdorrel@Addictedtow

In Peace,

Frank Dorrel
Addicted To War
P.O. Box 3261
Culver City, CA 90231-3261
fdorrel@sbcglobal. net
www.addictedtowar. com

For copies of the book:

Frank Dorrel
P.O. BOX 3261
CULVER CITY, CALIF. 90231-3261
$10.00 per copy (Spanish or English); special bulk rates
can be found at:


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



The National Council of Arab Americans (NCA) demands the immediate
release of political prisoner, Dr. Sami Al-Arian. Although
Dr. Al-Arian is no longer on a hunger strike we must still demand
he be released by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). After an earlier
plea agreement that absolved Dr. Al-Arian from any further questioning,
he was sentenced up to 18 months in jail for refusing to testify before
a grand jury in Virginia. He has long sense served his time yet
Dr. Al-Arian is still being held. Release him now!



We ask all people of conscience to demand the immediate
release and end to Dr. Al- Arian's suffering.

Call, Email and Write:

1- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Fax Number: (202) 307-6777

2- The Honorable John Conyers, Jr
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5126
(202) 225-0072 Fax

3- Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

4- Honorable Judge Gerald Lee
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314
March 22, 2007
[No email]

National Council of Arab Americans (NCA)

Criminalizing Solidarity: Sami Al-Arian and the War of
By Charlotte Kates, The Electronic Intifada, 4 April 2007


Robert Fisk: The true story of free speech in America
This systematic censorship of Middle East reality
continues even in schools
Published: 07 April 2007
http://news. independent. fisk/article2430 125.ece


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


Excerpt of interview between Barbara Walters and Hugo Chavez


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,]




Defend the Los Angeles Eight!


George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks




Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran


Petition: Halt the Blue Angels


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])