Saturday, September 01, 2007



September 15: A showdown march from the White House to Congress in Washington DC

North/Central California "End the War Now" March
Saturday, October 27, 2007, 11am, San Francisco Civic Center Plaza

Momentum is building for Oct. 27 and beyond.

Here is a schedule of coalition meetings coming up:

Tuesday, September 4, 7:00 P.M., 2489 Mission St.

Saturday, September 8, 10:00 A.M. - Oct. 27 Coalition Mass Meeting
474 Valencia Street, Near 16th Street in San Francisco.

Tuesday, September 11, 6:30 P.M. - Oct. 27 Coalition Steering Committee
(Location to be announced.)

Wednesday, September 12, 7:00pm - Oct. 27 Coalition Youth and Student Organizing Meeting - 2489 Mission St., Rm. 28

Help build for a massive, united march and rally in San Francisco Oct. 27 to End the War NOW.

This action is sponsored by a broad coalition of groups in the Bay Area. A list will be forthcoming—we are all united on this one and, hopefully in the future.

Funds are urgently needed for all the material—posters, flyers, stickers and buttons, etc.—to get the word out! Make your tax-deductible donation to:

Progress Unity Fund/Oct. 27

and mail to:

Oct. 27th Coalition
3288 21st Street, Number 249
San Francisco, CA 94110


In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein

To get more information call or drop into the ANSWER office:

Act Now to Stop War & End Racism

Here is a partial list of endorsers of the October 27 Coalition:
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma'at
Past National Co-Chair of National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N'COBRA)
Oakland, CA
Larry Everest, author
Barrio Unido
Socialist Viewpoint magazine
Bay Area United Against War
Iraq Moratorium
Workers International League
Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice
U.S. Labor Against the War
Alameda County Central Labor Council
Contra Costa County Central Labor Council
San Francisco Labor Council
San Mateo County Central Labor Council
South Bay Labor Council
Monterey Bay Labor Council
State Central Committee of the Peace and Freedom Party
Scientific Socialist Collective
Sacramento Area Black Caucus
Coalicion Primero de Mayo, SFBA
SF Bay View Newspaper
Party for Socialism and Liberation
National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
Youth and Student ANSWER
San Francisco Bay View Newspaper
International Socialist Organization
...a partial listing! we are gathering groups faster than we
can post them!


Bay Area United Against War Activists

Save 20% on George Bernard Shaw’s anti-war masterpiece: HEARTBREAK HOUSE
August 31—September 8

Artist, socialist, feminist, anti-war activist, vegetarian, freethinker, street-corner orator, and all-around raconteur, if there’s one man who belongs in Berkeley, it’s George Bernard Shaw. Heartbreak House—his hilarious portrayal of a civilization on the edge of decline—was his response to the actions of World War I. And Berkeley Rep is thrilled to kick off its 40th birthday celebration with a timely take on this comic masterwork.

We’re celebrating our 40th birthday all season long with reduced prices from just $27—and Supporters of Bay Area United Against War save 20% on tickets for available performances August 31—September 8. Plus, save even more when you purchase three or more plays!

Purchase tickets online and use promo code 2746.

Click to learn about “Free Speech” events at the Theatre before your show, more about the play, and details about your discount.


Labor Conference to Stop the War!

October 20, 2007

ILWU Local 10 400 North Point Street, San Francisco, California @ Fisherman's Wharf

As the war in Iraq and Afghanistan enters its seventh year, opposition to the war among working people in the United States and the world is massive and growing. The "surge" strategy of sending in more and more troops has become a -asco for the Pentagon generals, while thousands of Iraqis are killed every month. Before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, millions marched against the war in Britain, Italy and Spain as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the U.S. to oppose it. But that didn't stop the invasion. In the U.S., this "war on terror" has meant wholesale assault on civil liberties and workers' rights, like the impending imposition of the hated TWIC card for port workers. And the war keeps going on and on, as Democrats and Republicans in Congress keep on voting for it.

As historian Isaac Deutscher said during the Vietnam War, a single strike would be more e-ective than all the peace marches. French dockworkers did strike in the port of Marseilles and helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. To put a stop to this bloody colonial occupation, labor must use its power.

The International Warehouse and Longshore Union has opposed the war on Iraq since the beginning. In the Bay Area, ILWU Local 10 has repeatedly warned that the so-called "war on terror" is really a war on working people and democratic rights. Around the country, hundreds of unions and labor councils have passed motions condemning the war, but that has not stopped the war. We need to use labor's muscle to stop the war by mobilizing union power in the streets, at the plant gates and on the docks to force the immediate and total withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The clock is ticking. It's time for labor action to bring the war machine to a grinding halt and end this slaughter. During longshore contract negotiations in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Bush cited port security and imposed the slave-labor Taft-Hartley Law against the ILWU in collusion with the maritime employers group PMA and with the support of the Democrats. Yet, he did nothing when PMA shut down every port on the U.S. West Coast by locking out longshore workers just the week before!

In April 2003, when antiwar protesters picketed war cargo shippers, APL and SSA, in the Port of Oakland, police -red on picketers and longshoremen alike with their "less than lethal" ammo that left six ILWU members and many others seriously injured. We refused to let our rights be trampled on, sued the city and won. Democratic rights were reasserted a month later when antiwar protesters marched in the port and all shipping was stopped. This past May, when antiwar protesters and the Oakland Education Association again picketed war cargo shippers in Oakland, longshoremen honored the picket line. This is only the beginning.

Last year, Local 10 passed a resolution calling to "Strike Against the War ï¿∏ No Peace, No Work." The motion emphasized the ILWU's proud history in opposing wars for imperial domination, recalling how in 1978 Local 10 refused to load bombs for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. In the 1980's, Bay Area dock workers highlighted opposition to South African apartheid slavery by boycotting ("hot cargoing") the Nedlloyd Kimberly, while South African workers waged militant strikes to bring down the white supremacist regime.

Now Locals 10 and 34 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have called for a "Labor Conference to Stop the War" to hammer out a program of action. We're saying: Enough! It's high time to use union power against the bosses' war, independent of the "bipartisan" war party. The ILWU can again take the lead, but action against the war should not be limited to the docks. We urge unions in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the country to attend the conference and plan workplace rallies, labor mobilizations in the streets and strike action against the war.

For further information contact: Jack Heyman


Stop Government Attacks
Against the Anti-War Movement!
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Victory! Kenneth Foster's Death Sentence Commuted!
SF Bay View

Texas Governor Rick Perry has announced that he is commuting Foster's death sentence to life in prison without parole. This is only the 2nd time that a Texas Governor has granted clemency since 1976. (The other case was Henry Lee Lucas in 1998.)

Thank you to everyone who helped draw attention to this case and to the horrors of the entire death penalty system, and thank you to all our members who took action.

To thank Governor Perry for his decision, please contact:

Office of the Governor Main Switchboard: (512) 463-2000
[office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST]

Citizen's Assistance Telecommunications Device
If you are using a telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD), call 711 to reach Relay Texas

Office of the Governor Fax: (512) 463-1849

The tide is turning in our favor! Click here to support Death Penalty Focus:

With much appreciation,

The Staff of Death Penalty Focus
(Lance, Stefanie, Alison, Yoko and John)

Governor Perry's Statement
Aug. 30, 2007
Perry Commutes Death Sentence

AUSTIN ? Gov. Rick Perry today commuted the death sentence of Kenneth Eugene Foster of San Antonio to life imprisonment after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (TBPP) recommended such action.

On May 6, 1997, Foster was sentenced to death for his role in the 1996 capital murder of Michael LaHood. Foster sought to have his death sentence commuted to a life sentence arguing that he did not shoot the victim, but merely drove the car in which that the actual killer was riding. In addition, Foster was tried along side the actual killer, Maurecio Brown, and the jury that convicted Foster also considered punishment for both him and his co-defendant in the same proceeding.

?After carefully considering the facts of this case, along with the recommendations from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, I believe the right and just decision is to commute Foster?s sentence from the death penalty to life imprisonment,? Gov. Perry said. ?I am concerned about Texas law that allows capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously, and it is an issue I think the legislature should examine.?

The TBPP voted 6-1 to recommend commutation, and the governor signed the commutation papers Thursday morning.

The governor?s action means Foster?s sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment as soon as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can process this change.




1) 14th Annual Labor Day ‘Executive Excess’ Report
Americans Pay a Staggering Cost
for Corporate Leadership
August 29, 2007

2) The Vick Kick
By Mumia Abu-Jamal

3) Katrina All the Time
Op-Ed Columnist
August 31, 2007

4) More Realism, Less Spin
NYT Editorial
August 31, 2007

5) Brian De Palma's Anti-War Drama Stuns Audiences in Venice
By Adam Howard
Posted on August 31, 2007, Printed on September 1, 2007

6) Brian de Palma's Redacted shocks Venice
By David Gritten, at the Venice Film Festival
Last Updated: 1:57am BST 01/09/2007

7) The Way We Live Now
Not in Whose Backyard?
“‘It’s neither possible nor desirable in a free society to have all groups living equally close to everything — be it libraries or landfills,’ argues Michael Steinberg, a Washington lawyer with clients in the chemical industry. ‘Even the old Soviet Politburo would have a hard time pulling that one off.’ The mere fact of disparate impact, he says, is not evidence of intentional discrimination in the placement of polluting facilities — it’s just economics.”
September 2, 2007
Sunday Magazine

8) Anxious About Tomorrow
Op-Ed Columnist
September 1, 2007

9) At Marines’ Hearing, Testament to Violence
September 1, 2007

10) West Bank Boys Dig a Living From Trash
September 2, 2007

11) Democrats Try to Soften Bush’s Education Law
September 1, 2007

12) Insights: Racial Disparity Affirmed in Tobacco Advertising
August 28, 2007

13) U.S. Obsessed With Using Force
The Herald (Harare)
30 August 2007
Posted to the web 30 August 2007
By Reason Wafawarova

14) Resolution passed by Washington State Labor Council
From: Carole Seligman


1) 14th Annual Labor Day ‘Executive Excess’ Report
Americans Pay a Staggering Cost
for Corporate Leadership
August 29, 2007

(Washington, D.C.) With leading Presidential candidates turning up the heat on overpaid CEOs, a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy documents for the first time the extreme pay gaps that have opened up not just between U.S. business leaders and American workers, but between U.S. business leaders and leaders elsewhere in American — and European — society.

Download the complete report “Executive Excess 2007” at (PDF, 1 MB).


CEO-WORKER PAY GAP: CEOs of large U.S. companies last year averaged $10.8 million in total compensation, over 364 times the pay of the average U.S. worker, a calculation based on data from an Associated Press survey of 386 Fortune 500 companies.

The top 20 private equity and hedge fund managers, pocketed an average $657.5 million, Forbes magazine estimates. That’s 22,255 times the pay of an average U.S. worker.

Workers on the bottom rung of the economy have just received their first federal minimum wage increase in a decade. But the inflation-adjusted value of the new minimum, despite the hike, stands 7 percent below the minimum wage level a decade ago. CEO pay, in that decade, has increased over inflation by roughly 45 percent.

“The CEO-worker pay gap is finally getting some high-profile attention from Presidential candidates,” says report co-author Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies. “But lawmakers still aren’t doing nearly enough to tackle the gap.”

PENSION AND PERK GAPS: CEOs at major U.S. corporations enjoyed, on average, $1.3 million in pension gains last year. By contrast, only 58.5 percent of American households led by a 45-to-54-year-old even had a retirement account in 2004. Between 2001 and 2004, the retirement accounts of these households gained an average of only $3,775 in value per year.

CEOs of S&P 500 companies retire with an average $10.1 million in their special Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans, accounts not open to average workers. By contrast, only 36.3 percent of American households headed by an individual 65 or older held any type of retirement account in 2004. The accounts that did exist averaged only $173,552 per household.

The top 386 CEOs took in perks worth an average of $438,342 in 2006. A minimum wage worker would need to work 36 years to earn as much as CEOs obtained just in perks last year.

THE LEADERSHIP PAY GAP: Compensation for American business leaders now wildly dwarfs the pay that goes to leaders in other sectors of American society. The 20 highest-paid individuals at publicly traded corporations last year took home, on average, $36.4 million. That’s 38 times more than the 20 highest-paid leaders in the nonprofit sector and 204 times more than the 20 highest-paid generals in the U.S. military.

The 20 highest-paid figures in the private equity and hedge fund industry collected 3,315 times more in average annual compensation in 2006 than the top 20 officials of the federal government’s executive branch, a group that includes the President of the United States.

“Today’s soaring pay gap between business executives and elected leaders in government essentially makes corruption inevitable,” notes Sam Pizzigati, an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow. “With such huge windfalls at stake, business leaders have a powerful incentive to manipulate the political decisions that affect corporate earnings.”

THE US-EUROPEAN EXECUTIVE PAY GAP: In 2006, the 20 highest-paid European corporate managers made an average of $12.5 million, only one third as much as the 20 highest-earning U.S. executives took home last year. These 20 top European execs led companies that generated $19 billion more in sales revenue than the corporations led by their higher-paid American counterparts.

PROPOSALS FOR CHANGE: Executive Excess 2007 highlights six practical initiatives that can rein in runaway executive pay. Five involve eliminating perverse tax incentives for excessive pay, while one would use government contracting dollars to encourage more reasonable pay.

According to report co-author Chuck Collins, “Meaningful change could be on the horizon, as many political leaders are finally catching up to the public outcry to rein in excessive compensation.”

Authored by Sarah Anderson, John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins, Sam Pizzigati, and Mike Lapham, Executive Excess 2007 is the 14th annual CEO pay study by the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy.

The Institute for Policy Studies is an independent center for progressive research and education in Washington, D.C. United for a Fair Economy is a national organization based in Boston that spotlights growing economic inequality.

For hard copies or to set up interviews with the co-authors, call Debayani Kar (202) 246-8143,, or Bob Keener (617) 423-2148 ext 120,


2) The Vick Kick
By Mumia Abu-Jamal

NFL (National Football League) star, Michael Vick is the nation's latest bete noir (French: Black beast).

The venom and hatred directed at him for his off-field dog fighting connections is nothing short of remarkable.

Not since football great O. J. Simpson's murder trial, or perhaps Mike Tyson's rape trial, have we witnessed such an outpouring of outrage.

If you think it's got nothing to do with who he is, rather than what he is alleged to have done, then you're trippin'!

Vick signed a monster NFL contract several years ago that virtually guaranteed him a lifetime of wealth.

All of that, not to mention other product endorsement deals, is up in smoke.

Don't get it twisted. I'm not suggesting, in the least, that hurting animals is cool.

As a MOVE supporter, I recall the late Frank Africa (MOVE's Naturalist Minister) telling me about seeing guys fighting pit bulls in West Philly's Cobbs Creek Park. Frank would challenge them to fight him instead of the dogs. (He didn't find a lot of takers).

Frank was martyred by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (and the United States of America) on May 13th, 1985, along with ten other men, women and babies.

While we hear the sports world and the talk show pundits bay for Vick's blood for dog fighting, it's important to remember that if Vicks serves one day in jail that'll be one day more than the bombers, snipers and baby-killers who massacred 11 people on Osage Avenue in Philadelphia (Oh, yeah—come to think of it, several dogs were killed then, too!)

Football is the nations' weekly ritual of violence, where big guys pummel other big guys, with the intent of crushing the opponent. it was not for naught that an American president (and general!), Dwight Eisenhower once said, "Sports are perfect for preparing young men for war."

In the hyper-world of talk and sports radio, few things elicit more umbrage than the spectacle of a Black man, from an impoverished background, coming into great wealth.

That athlete (or artist, for that matter) is expected to smile, never address politics, and generally, shut up (especially regarding issues of race!)

Implicit in the sports contract is an unwritten agreement to be what one Black sportswriter called a “million dollar slave.”

Because many Black athletes come from poverty, and communities where life is cruel, brutish and short, they have acquired the tastes, modes and habits of their environs. In the South (and North as well), dog fighting is not a rarity.

If he were Mexican-American, he may have enjoyed cock fighting, or, if or another ethnicity, perhaps bull-fighting.

But, such sociological observations have no place in the hot house of media mouthpieces and hype artists.

I've seen more heat around Vick's treatment of dogs than American soldiers treatment of Iraqis!

For Michael Vicks, for now—the game is over.

*[Source: Zirin, Dave, What's My Name, Fool?: Sports and Resistance in the United States. (Chi. Haymarket Books, 2005,), p.129.)


3) Katrina All the Time
Op-Ed Columnist
August 31, 2007

Two years ago today, Americans watched in horror as a great city drowned, and wondered what had happened to their country. Where was FEMA? Where was the National Guard? Why wasn’t the government of the world’s richest, most powerful nation coming to the aid of its own citizens?

What we mostly saw on TV was the nightmarish scene at the Superdome, but things were even worse at the New Orleans convention center, where thousands were stranded without food or water. The levees were breached Monday morning — but as late as Thursday evening, The Washington Post reported, the convention center “still had no visible government presence,” while “corpses lay out in the open among wailing babies and other refugees.”

Meanwhile, federal officials were oblivious. “We are extremely pleased with the response that every element of the federal government, all of our federal partners, have made to this terrible tragedy,” declared Michael Chertoff, the secretary for Homeland Security, on Wednesday. When asked the next day about the situation at the convention center, he dismissed the reports as “a rumor” or “someone’s anecdotal version.”

Today, much of the Gulf Coast remains in ruins. Less than half the federal money set aside for rebuilding, as opposed to emergency relief, has actually been spent, in part because the Bush administration refused to waive the requirement that local governments put up matching funds for recovery projects — an impossible burden for communities whose tax bases have literally been washed away.

On the other hand, generous investment tax breaks, supposedly designed to spur recovery in the disaster area, have been used to build luxury condominiums near the University of Alabama’s football stadium in Tuscaloosa, 200 miles inland.

But why should we be surprised by any of this? The Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina — the mixture of neglect of those in need, obliviousness to their plight, and self-congratulation in the face of abject failure — has become standard operating procedure. These days, it’s Katrina all the time.

Consider the White House reaction to new Census data on income, poverty and health insurance. By any normal standard, this week’s report was a devastating indictment of the administration’s policies. After all, last year the administration insisted that the economy was booming — and whined that it wasn’t getting enough credit. What the data show, however, is that 2006, while a good year for the wealthy, brought only a slight decline in the poverty rate and a modest rise in median income, with most Americans still considerably worse off than they were before President Bush took office.

Most disturbing of all, the number of Americans without health insurance jumped. At this point, there are 47 million uninsured people in this country, 8.5 million more than there were in 2000. Mr. Bush may think that being uninsured is no big deal — “you just go to an emergency room” — but the reality is that if you’re uninsured every illness is a catastrophe, your own private Katrina.

Yet the White House press release on the report declared that President Bush was “pleased” with the new numbers. Heckuva job, economy!

Mr. Bush’s only concession that something might be amiss was to say that “challenges remain in reducing the number of uninsured Americans” — a statement reminiscent of Emperor Hirohito’s famous admission, in his surrender broadcast, that “the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage.” And Mr. Bush’s solution — more tax cuts, of course — has about as much relevance to the real needs of the uninsured as subsidies for luxury condos in Tuscaloosa have to the needs of New Orleans’s Ninth Ward.

The question is whether any of this will change when Mr. Bush leaves office.

There’s a powerful political faction in this country that’s determined to draw exactly the wrong lesson from the Katrina debacle — namely, that the government always fails when it attempts to help people in need, so it shouldn’t even try. “I don’t want the people who ran the Katrina cleanup to manage our health care system,” says Mitt Romney, as if the Bush administration’s practice of appointing incompetent cronies to key positions and refusing to hold them accountable no matter how badly they perform — did I mention that Mr. Chertoff still has his job? — were the way government always works.

And I’m not sure that faction is losing the argument. The thing about conservative governance is that it can succeed by failing: when conservative politicians mess up, they foster a cynicism about government that may actually help their cause.

Future historians will, without doubt, see Katrina as a turning point. The question is whether it will be seen as the moment when America remembered the importance of good government, or the moment when neglect and obliviousness to the needs of others became the new American way.


4) More Realism, Less Spin
NYT Editorial
August 31, 2007

A new report from Congress’s investigative arm provides a powerful fresh dose of nonpartisan realism about Iraq as President Bush tries to spin people into thinking that significant — or at least sufficient — progress is being made. With a crucial debate on Iraq set for next month, the report should be read by members of Congress who may be wavering in the fight with the White House over withdrawing American troops.

The Government Accountability Office, in a draft assessment reported yesterday, determined that Iraq has failed to meet 15 out of 18 benchmarks for political and military progress mandated by Congress. Laws on constitutional reform, oil and permitting former Baathists back into the government have not been enacted. Among other failings, there has been unsatisfactory progress toward deploying three Iraqi brigades in Baghdad and reducing the level of sectarian violence.

These conclusions are in line with a recent National Intelligence Estimate that found that violence in Iraq remained high, terrorists could still mount formidable attacks and the country’s leaders “remain unable to govern effectively.”

Mr. Bush earlier this year ordered a massive buildup of American troops in Iraq in a desperate attempt to salvage his failed strategy and stave off Congressional moves to bring the forces home. Despite the cost of more American lives, he argued that he was buying a period of relative calm for Iraqi politicians to achieve national reconciliation.

The top American officials in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, are to present their assessments on how calm things are at eagerly awaited Congressional hearings in mid-September. Their findings, and a White House report due Sept. 15, are seen as a potential trigger for a change in Iraq strategy.

Two things, however, are already clear. Iraq’s leaders have neither the intention nor the ability to take advantage of calm, relative or otherwise. And a change in strategy seems the farthest thing from Mr. Bush’s mind.

He used the August vacation — when lawmakers were largely laying low at home — to reassert his determination to stay the course. The White House also let it be known that it plans to ask Congress for more money — perhaps another $50 billion — beyond $600 billion already requested to maintain the counteroffensive in Iraq into spring 2008. Some people think the administration will get it.

The White House tried to discredit the ominous G.A.O. assessment by saying the standards set by Congressional investigators were too high. It may be unrealistic to expect that Iraq’s weak and dysfunctional government could meet all the targets by September, but a serious, conscientious effort across the board was needed, and would be apparent to all.

Mr. Bush has invoked Vietnam to argue against leaving Iraq. That argument is specious, but there is a chilling similarity between the two American foreign policy disasters. In Vietnam, as in Iraq, American presidents and military leaders went to great lengths to pretend that victory was at hand when nothing could be farther from the truth.


5) Brian De Palma's Anti-War Drama Stuns Audiences in Venice
By Adam Howard
Posted on August 31, 2007, Printed on September 1, 2007

Brian DePalma's latest film is quite a departure from the over-the-top thrillers and gangster movies for which he is best known. "Redacted" which just made its debut at the Venice film festival tells the true story of the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi schoolgirl by US soldiers, who also slaughtered her family in March of 2006.

DePalma told reporters after the movie screened that he hoped the film would help bring an end to our country's occupation of Iraq

"The pictures are what will stop the war," said De Palma.

DePalma has long been one of my favorite directors and I think one of the most underrated, overlooked and in some cases unfairly criticized filmmakerrs of all time. His dark sense of humor and politically incorrect satire has often been misunderstood. He's best known for gore filled romps like Scarface and Carrie, but he's also directed one of the little seen Vietnam War masterpiece, 1989's Casualties of War

That film also dramatized the true story of a Vietamese woman being kidnapped by American soldiers (the ringleader is played by Sean Penn), who gang rape her and murder her. One soldier (played by Michael J. Fox) refuses to participate and the second half of the film details his ordeal as a whistleblower. DePalma's gift in that film, and all of his films prior and since is his dexterity and incredible skills with the camera. His visual flair is beyond reproach and I'm excited to see him apply his talents to a film of real meaning as opposed to a generic Hollywood thriller.

"All the images we (currently) have of our war are completely constructed -- whitewashed, redacted," said De Palma, "One only hopes that these images will get the public incensed enough to get their congressmen to vote against the war," he added.

According to the AP, "Redacted" hits hard with its dramatic reenactment of the conditions, attitudes and stresses that led up to the real-life crime.

One of the soldiers involved in the crime on which the film is based, Private First Class Jesse Spielman, was sentenced to 110 years in prison this month for his role in the rape and killings.

Shown through the imaginary video lens of one of the soldiers involved in the raid on the girl's home, De Palma's dramatization is interlaced with actual news clips, documentary footage and stills from the war.

The decision to use the device of the videocam arose from De Palma's research on the Internet. "The blogs, the use of language, it's all there," he said.

He explained that legal obstacles in dealing with real people and events meant he was "forced to fictionalise things" to get the movie made.

"Redacted" will initially be distributed nationwide by Magnolia Pictures and its producer Jason Kliot says. "If the response is strong one hopes the distribution will grow the film in a big way."

Adam Howard is the editor of PEEK.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:


6) Brian de Palma's Redacted shocks Venice
By David Gritten, at the Venice Film Festival
Last Updated: 1:57am BST 01/09/2007

A wave of new American films about the Iraq war are due to arrive in cinemas over the next few months. Yet it's safe to say few could be more shocking or harrowing than the low-budget Redacted by veteran director Brian de Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables), which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival yesterday.
Shot with a cast of unknown actors on high-definition video cameras, it is about a small group of bored, restless US soldiers stationed at a checkpoint in Samarra.

They are impatient with the war's progress, distrustful of all Iraqis (even the children) and eager to go home. Two of them concoct a plot for the group to revisit a household recently raided in a search for insurgents, and to rape the family's 15-year-old daughter. In a chilling finale they do the deed, but their mission also ends in multiple murder.

Intriguingly, one of the group (who harbours ambitions to go to film school) is compiling a video diary of life at the checkpoint. He takes his camera along on the raid and simply keeps shooting during the terrible events. Only later does he realize that this implicated him in the crimes.

To tell the story, de Palma boldly uses a variety of forms: blogs, YouTube posts, videologs on the internet and the video diary the soldier is shooting. There are several references to the shortcomings of the mainstream media in reporting the real horrors of the Iraq war; de Palma makes a telling point with these alternative narrative devices.

'Redacted' means 'edited' or 'blacked out,' and the film's first image is a written disclaimer on the screen, with more and more words gradually being deleted. The director calls the film 'a fictional story inspired by true events,' and insists everything depicted has really happened.

Whatever the truth of those claims, there's no doubt Redacted packs an extraordinary emotional punch. It ends with shocking still photos of Iraqis, dead, disfigured or in extreme distress because of the war. This montage left the audience at a Venice press screening stunned, silent and in a few cases tearful. The combination of De Palma's visceral style and the horrifying subject matter left me reeling.

Controversy will clearly rage around Redacted, especially when it opens in America. But for those who have seen it, the images of that awful appointment in Samarra will linger joltingly in the memory.


7) The Way We Live Now
Not in Whose Backyard?
“‘It’s neither possible nor desirable in a free society to have all groups living equally close to everything — be it libraries or landfills,’ argues Michael Steinberg, a Washington lawyer with clients in the chemical industry. ‘Even the old Soviet Politburo would have a hard time pulling that one off.’ The mere fact of disparate impact, he says, is not evidence of intentional discrimination in the placement of polluting facilities — it’s just economics.”
September 2, 2007
Sunday Magazine

Consider this curiosity of United States environmental policy: Countless federal laws have been written to preserve far-flung wilderness that Americans rarely visit (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for instance) and endangered species that we scarcely see (from longhorn fairy shrimp to piping plovers). Yet no legislation has been tailored to protect a landscape that is perhaps the most vulnerable: the low-income communities that shelter most of America’s polluting facilities.

Later this month, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will introduce the Environmental Justice Renewal Act, which would direct additional federal funds to assisting environmentally beleaguered communities. The bill complements another proposal Clinton helped sponsor, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor and mitigate the health impacts of power plants, waste-transfer stations, truck fleets, refineries and other industrial infrastructure, which tend to be overwhelmingly concentrated in America’s poorest neighborhoods.

Both bills are expected to meet opposition in Congress. Nevertheless, their introduction suggests a coming of age for the environmental-justice movement. The movement — whose proponents hold that minority and low-income populations should not be subjected to more environmental burdens than others — has been growing at the grass-roots level for decades. Yet disproportionately high pollution levels continue to plague poor communities, and race often correlates with which populations are hit the hardest: African-Americans, for instance, are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in areas where air-pollution levels pose health risks, according to a 2005 Associated Press analysis of E.P.A. data. Lead-poisoning rates among Hispanic and black children are roughly double those among white children.

Environmental-justice advocates take pains to assert that they are neither antidevelopment nor anti-industry. “We can’t fight this battle at the expense of jobs,” says Majora Carter, a MacArthur fellow from the South Bronx, where children’s asthma rates are several times the national average. “We need to work; we also need to breathe — our goal is to find a way of doing both.” Carter and the organization she founded, Sustainable South Bronx, have fought dozens of proposals for new or expanded industrial sites, while simultaneously exhorting green businesses — like a high-tech recycling plant — to bring skilled jobs to the community. (The latter goal got a boost this summer when the House and Senate passed bills to put about $100 million toward training workers for jobs in green energy.)

But are environmental-justice goals always compatible with economic growth? There is a debate, says Daniel Doctoroff, New York City’s deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding: “On the one hand, environmental issues, versus having more jobs.” Real estate is scarce. No matter how clean and efficient industrial sites are, he says, “there will always be things that nobody wants, and we have to find places to put them.” And taxpayers will inevitably question why they should foot the bill for a sewage-treatment plant on the Upper East Side when it could be placed in a far less expensive neighborhood.

Some critics of the environmental-justice movement go further. It is not surprising, they say, that land near toxic sites is inexpensive and that the people who live there are poor. “It’s neither possible nor desirable in a free society to have all groups living equally close to everything — be it libraries or landfills,” argues Michael Steinberg, a Washington lawyer with clients in the chemical industry. “Even the old Soviet Politburo would have a hard time pulling that one off.” The mere fact of disparate impact, he says, is not evidence of intentional discrimination in the placement of polluting facilities — it’s just economics.

On the other side of the spectrum, some environmental-justice advocates say Clinton’s proposals don’t go far enough. Norris McDonald, president of the African American Environmentalist Association, calls the bills “a Band-Aid, nothing more.” He points out that they don’t give citizens the legal power to sue the industries polluting their backyards. McDonald sees Clinton’s recent efforts as a political move to secure the black vote.

Two years ago, Clinton and Barack Obama collaborated on a community-health bill. Now environmental-justice activists are waiting to see if Obama, who has been cautious on race-related issues, will respond to Clinton’s latest proposals with a countermeasure: “Okay, Barack,” McDonald taunts, “you gonna dance or let Hillary have the floor?”


8) Anxious About Tomorrow
Op-Ed Columnist
September 1, 2007

You know you’ve stepped into a different universe when you hear a major American labor leader saying matter-of-factly that employer-based health insurance and employer-based pensions are relics of a bygone industrial economy.

Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, which has 1.9 million members and is the fastest-growing union in the country, is not your ordinary union leader. With Labor Day approaching, he was reflecting on some of the challenges facing workers in a post-20th-century globalized economy.

“I just don’t think that as a country we’ve conceptualized that this is not our father’s or our grandfather’s economy,” Mr. Stern said in an interview. “We’re going through profound change and we have no plan.”

The feeling that seems to override all others for workers is anxiety. American families, already saddled with enormous debt, are trying to make it in an environment in which employment is becoming increasingly contingent and subject to worldwide competition. Health insurance, unaffordable for millions, is a huge problem. And guaranteed pensions are going the way of typewriter ribbons and carbon paper.

“We’re ending defined benefit pensions in front of our eyes,” said Mr. Stern. “I’d say today’s retirement plan for young workers is: ‘I’m going to work until I die.’ ”

The result of all of this — along with such problems as the mortgage and housing crisis, and a domestic economy that is doing nothing to improve living standards for ordinary Americans — is fear.

“Workers are incredibly, legitimately scared that the American dream, particularly the belief that their kids will do better, is ending,” said Mr. Stern. He is trying to get across the idea that in a period of such profound change, the old templates, the traditional ideas and policies of even the most progressive thinkers and officeholders, will not be sufficient to meet the new challenges.

“We can’t be the only country on earth that asks our employers to put the price of health care on its products when a lot of our competitors don’t,” he said. “And job security? Even if you want to stay with your employer, as in the old economic model, we’re seeing in many industries that your employer is not going to be around to stay with you.”

A comprehensive new approach is needed, but what should that approach be? Franklin Roosevelt always hoped to inject a measure of economic security into the lives of ordinary Americans. But the New Deal was seven decades ago. Workers are insecure now for a host of different reasons and Mr. Stern wants the labor movement to be part of a vast cooperative effort to develop the solutions appropriate to today’s environment.

He told me, “I’d like to say to the Democrats that we are as far today from the New Deal as the New Deal was from the Civil War.”

He wants more people to pay attention to the big issues that affect not just union workers but all working families: How do you bring health care to all? What do you do about retirement security? How will the jobs of the 21st century be created?

And what about schools, energy, global warming, the environment?

Mr. Stern tends to see the nation as a team and wants the team to pull together to develop a creative vision of what the U.S. should be about in the 21st century. A cornerstone of that vision, he said, should be adherence to the “primary value” of rewarding work.

“We’re a team in the 21st-century period of rapid change and competition,” he said. “And right now, we don’t have leadership, and we don’t have a plan. At the same time, a group of people are enriching themselves far beyond anything that’s reasonable.”

What he would like to see, he said, is a large group of thoughtful people from various walks of American life — business, labor, government, academia and so forth — convened to begin the serious work of cooperatively developing a real-world vision of a society that is fairer, healthier, better educated, better prepared to compete globally, and more economically secure.

“I think you’re already seeing the beginnings of odd formations of people who appreciate, issue by issue, that we have to do something different here,” he said.

The kind of effort Mr. Stern would like to see would logically be initiated at the highest levels of government, preferably the White House. But if that’s not in the cards, someone else should take up the challenge. And there should be a sense of urgency about it.

The fears of America’s workers are well founded. “There’s something wrong with the system right now,” said Mr. Stern, “and we can’t just say, ‘Well, it’s all going to work out.’ It’s not.”

[There is not a single word in here about just what Andy Stern IS for. Could it be that he supports one of the most reactionary healthcare plans:

"Executive Summary:
Comprehensive Health Care Reform for Colorado
“… All Americans need financial security and quality health care they can afford. …The time is long overdue for America to address these problems. America needs a plan for the 21st century. Not a Democratic or Republican plan, or a business or labor plan. We need an American plan; a plan to insure that the American Dream endures for our children and grandchildren.” Andy Stern President, SEIU International January 16, 2007 The nurses and working families of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Colorado Association of Public Employees (CAPE) believe that health care is the most serious economic and social concern facing Coloradans today and that comprehensive health care reform is needed now. Approximately 770,000 Colorado residents lack health insurance.1 Businesses – particularly small businesses – find it increasingly difficult to provide their employees with even the most basic of health care, jeopardizing the ability to remain competitive in the state, national and global marketplace. Many working families, unable to afford the skyrocketing cost of coverage, take a huge risk with their family’s health and financial future, hoping that they will simply not get sick – often paying for it with their savings, their homes and their lives. Those who qualify for public programs receive care that could be more cost-effective and better managed. With projections that Colorado’s elderly population will increase by a staggering 59% during the next 15 years,2 we find ourselves inadequately prepared to address what can be the most expensive care of all – long term supports and services. SEIU and CAPE believe we need health care reform that puts us on a real path to universal coverage and delivers innovative, new ways to address the health care challenges ahead. At the same time, we need a pragmatic path – one that allows us to meet these goals while taking into account the financial realities facing our state...The SEIU and CAPE proposal is a comprehensive plan that will:
—Provide a path to universal health care coverage in Colorado. 1 U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey – 3 year average. Data collected in 2004 to 2006. 2 Ari Houser, Wendy Fox-Grage and Mary Jo Gibson. “Across The States: Profiles of Long-Term Care and Independent Living. Colorado.” AARP Public Policy Institute. Dec. 2006. 1
—Extend health care to low-income uninsured with Medicaid-funded premium subsidies to purchase insurance to protect and improve health.
—Ensure improved access to medically appropriate and cost-effective quality long term care services now and in the future.—Promote greater access, choice, personal responsibility and affordability for working families through the creation of a Health Insurance Exchange.
—Help Colorado’s small businesses purchase quality, affordable health plans for their employees.
—Ensure quality care and promote accountability in Colorado’s health care facilities to protect patients.
—Create incentives for preventive care, wellness, health education, quality outcomes and consumer empowerment.
—Adopt best practices, evidence-based medicine, and pay for performance to improve health care delivery.
—Ensure stable and sustainable funding that is fair, viable and cost-effective."...BW]


9) At Marines’ Hearing, Testament to Violence
September 1, 2007

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., Aug. 31 — A Marine sergeant offered gruesome testimony on Friday against a former squad leader charged with killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Haditha nearly two years ago, suggesting that the defendant, Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, was predisposed to the violence, carried it out ruthlessly and sought to cover it up.

The prosecution witness, Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz, was ordered to testify with immunity after murder charges against him for killing five of the men were dismissed in April.

On Thursday, prosecutors dropped one charge against Sergeant Wuterich in the killing of an 18th victim, a man in the last of four homes that the sergeant and other squad members searched on Nov. 19, 2005, after a bomb hit the marines’ convoy.

At Friday’s hearing, to determine whether the charges against Sergeant Wuterich should progress to a court-martial, Sergeant Dela Cruz testified that Sergeant Wuterich shot five unarmed men as they stood behind a car, some with their hands interlocked behind their heads in a surrender posture, in the moments after the bomb exploded.

He also said Sergeant Wuterich fired more rounds into the bodies of all five men as they lay dead or dying near a car a short distance from the attack.

Sergeant Wuterich has said he shot the five men, but only after they ran away, which he believed constituted a hostile act that allowed him to use deadly force.

Sergeant Dela Cruz told prosecutors that a week before the Haditha episode, Sergeant Wuterich had reacted to an earlier roadside bombing by telling him and other marines in the unit, “If we ever get hit again, we should kill everybody in that area.”

Sergeant Dela Cruz said that after killing the five men in Haditha, Sergeant Wuterich turned to him and said, “If anyone asks, say they were running away.”

It is unclear how much weight the hearing’s presiding officer will give to the testimony of Sergeant Dela Cruz, whose credibility has been an issue in hearings for other marines charged in the Haditha killings. The presiding officer, Lt. Col. Paul J. Ware, will recommend to a Marine Corps general whether to try Sergeant Wuterich in a full court-martial.

Sergeant Dela Cruz has admitted to lying to an Army colonel who initially investigated the Haditha episode, in which Marine riflemen killed 24 Iraqis, including at least 10 women and children, after a roadside bomb killed one of their comrades.

In a sworn statement, he told the colonel that Iraqi Army soldiers traveling with his unit had killed the five men near the car, and that he had yelled at them to stop, to no avail.

Sergeant Wuterich’s lawyers took pains to point out that Sergeant Dela Cruz’s immunity deal protected him from being charged in the Haditha episode, and they have said he lied about Sergeant Wuterich’s actions to cover up his own criminal behavior in Haditha.

Another witness on Friday, Staff Sgt. Justin Laughner, a member of a Marine intelligence unit that inspected the scene of the Haditha killings, said Sergeant Wuterich had told him the men had run from the car when they were shot.

Sergeant Laughner also said squad members had been worried that the car could have been carrying a bomb.


10) West Bank Boys Dig a Living From Trash
September 2, 2007

AD DEIRAT, West Bank, Aug. 30 — As the truck unloads, the children pounce on the garbage like flies. Some swing aloft on the hydraulic pistons that open the back, then drop onto the mound of trash to grab a piece of metal, a crushed can, a soda bottle or a stinking T-shirt.

One boy slips and disappears for a moment beneath the garbage as the truck lumbers forward to dump more of its load. He scrambles up again, losing his footing on a pile of animal intestines, grabbing onto a thicket of shrubbery cut from someone’s garden.

Another boy finds a small nylon Israeli flag and tries to tear it with his teeth; yet another unearths a small lilac umbrella, which he holds over his head and shows off to his friends. Most dig diligently for metal, which they dump into the ripped nylon sacks they carry.

Nearby, on a hill of garbage 10 feet high, a boy sat alone. He had found a plastic pack of crackers; he chewed them slowly, almost thoughtfully.

The boys are part of a loose-knit colony of scavengers, nearly 250 people who scramble over fetid hills of other people’s trash to eke out a living for their families and themselves. Most are younger than 16; some sleep here during the week to maximize the hours they can hunt for goods to sell. Many are related, from a few large clans, and they have a kind of organization, with a 23-year-old bulldozer driver who settles disputes, and a code of conduct, so that every digger’s finds are respected.

For all the agonizing about nearby Hebron — how far Israel should go to resolve competing Jewish and Palestinian claims to the city — this desolate spot is a symbol of the impact of Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank and of the dire economic state of the Palestinian territories, where about a third of adults are without work. Many of the adults working the site have been unable to get jobs in Israel since 2000 and the second intifada, when Israel instituted stronger security measures to try to prevent suicide bombings.

This dump has become a lifeline, and informal workplace, for them and for the children helping to support poor families in the southern West Bank. The scene is reminiscent of the third world, of places like Manila’s notorious garbage mountain, but this desperate place is next door to a country with the highest per capita income in the Middle East: Israel.

For the moment, the diggers are disappointed — this truck carries Palestinian garbage, from Hebron. The real treasures, they say, come from the Israeli settlements in this area of the occupied West Bank. It is settler trash that keeps them alive — and, in an odd way, entertained.

Mahmoud Ibrahim, 10, found a pair of angel’s wings, apparently from a costume party or a ballet performance. He wore them upside down but happily, flitting around the dump while the other boys applauded.

His brother, Muhammad, 11, who fancies himself a model from the magazines he salvages, wore a discarded suit, several sizes too large, that appeared to have been from a bar mitzvah. If you wiped away the grime, from both the suit and the boy, he would make a mother proud.

Youssef Rabai, 18, found a bright orange ribbon, the symbol of settler resistance to the Israeli pullout from Gaza, and wound it around his forehead; the ends flopped onto the grimy kaffiyeh around his neck. Asked if he knew what the orange meant, he shrugged. When told, he laughed. “I’m a settler here,” he said.

The dump, formally run by the Hebron municipality, is set in the rocky, dusty hills near the village of Ad Deirat; it is used both by Palestinian cities like Hebron and Yatta and by the Israeli settlements that mark the area, from Kiryat Arba to Karmel and Maon.

On a good day, working here from 5 a.m. until dusk, the boys make about $4.75.

Muhammad Rabai, 23, in salvaged camouflage pants and a dirty baseball cap with the gothic “D” of the Detroit Tigers, is the unacknowledged boss of the dump. He drives the bulldozer here and gets a small city salary, but he and three relatives also salvage trash, trying to feed a family of 25. “It’s a very difficult life,” he said. “But don’t call me the boss. We try to be friends here; we try to be equals.”

Rabah Rabai, from the same large clan, used to work in Israel as a builder, making more than $650 a month, but he can no longer get an entry permit. He is 48, with a grizzly gray beard, an asthma inhaler and thickly scarred arms. He sat in an old Ford tractor, once blue, pulling a small cart.

“It’s our taxi,” he said. “It’s our Jaguar.” He comes every morning before dawn with three children from a village eight miles away. Most of the other children walk, some of them 15 miles, then sleep here in makeshift shacks or blanket tents, before walking home again for the Muslim Sabbath.

He wore a stained cap bearing the symbol of Fatah. He said he found it in the trash. Muhammad Rabai interrupted, saying: “We don’t care for any of them, for Fatah or Hamas. We’re from the party of bread.”

Muhammad al-Ammour, 42, used to work in Israel as a painter, making $35 to $50 a day. Working here with two of his children, he brings home around $12. Most of the income is from scrap metal, sold for 2.2 cents a pound.

“If we don’t work, we can’t live,” he said. “Sad to say, but our life is the garbage. Our future is the garbage.”

Asked if the Palestinian Authority helps them, he laughed. “No one from the authority comes to check on us; no one really cares,” he said. “The Palestinian nation gets aid and help from abroad, but we never see any.”

Like all the men and boys here, only a few of whom have gloves, Mr. Ammour is covered with scars, especially on his hands, arms and legs, from sharp metal and broken glass. Many wear salvaged hats against the sun and scarves to cover their mouths from the fumes and acrid smoke of the nearly nightly fires that burn the picked-over garbage. Many of the boys seem malnourished, with filmy eyes staring from filthy faces.

Last week, Hijazi Rabai, 27, married with four children, died here when his old tractor fell over and crushed him. He was a sheik of his village, and everyone said he had a beautiful voice when he made the call for evening prayer.

“Even people close to me, my relatives, mock and humiliate my family,” Mr. Ammour said. “Whoever works in the garbage is garbage himself, that’s what they think. But some of those people work as spies, collaborators and thieves, but they consider us — the honest workers — less than them.”

Mr. Ammour has eight children. But he is known as Abu Fadi, the father of Fadi, 19, his eldest son, one of triplets.

Fadi, who has the bright green eyes of his clan, is trying to go to college. He has worked here since he was little, he said, along with his father and two brothers. He started college, then quit for lack of money. Now, he is taking courses in the evening, through Al Quds Open University in Yatta, along with his brother Tamer. Everyone in this little world is proud of them.

Halima, their triplet sister, is engaged to a cousin. Their mother, Sabah, 37, said: “She will not get married soon. They need to wait and establish themselves. It will be a long time until they manage to do that.”

The Ammour home in Yatta has two rooms for the family of 10 and no windows, just holes in the walls covered with yellow fabric that does little to block the sun.

The larger room is covered in mattresses. In the smaller room, set carefully on a green, sparkly cloth, is Fadi’s prized possession: a computer, which he patched together from parts salvaged from the dump. With a small boxy screen, and wires showing through cracks in the plastic, it functions.

Fadi, scrubbed clean, set the computer to play some music; his little brother, 5, did a break dance. Then Fadi and Tamer joined in. “You see?” Fadi said, smiling large. “Good things come out of the garbage.”

Reem Makhoul contributed reporting.


11) Democrats Try to Soften Bush’s Education Law
September 1, 2007

As Congress returns next week, leading Democrats are struggling for the formula that can attract bipartisan support to extend the life of President Bush’s education law, No Child Left Behind. In doing so, they are proposing to ease the pressure on suburban schools.

A draft proposal being floated by Representative George Miller, chairman of the House education committee, would soften many of the law’s accountability provisions while maintaining its overall strategic goal: to bring every student to proficiency by 2014 by requiring states to administer standardized tests and to punish schools where scores do not rise.

The changes, circulated this week by Mr. Miller, a California Democrat, and the committee’s ranking Republican, address the most persistent complaints against the law, by suburban districts, by middle-class parents, by states with large immigrant populations and by teachers unions who are crucial to Democrats’ 2008 electoral fortunes.

For the suburbs, for example, Mr. Miller’s draft would draw a distinction between schools failing across the board and those where only some student groups failed to meet annual testing goals. It would give a nod to teachers’ concerns by allowing states to consider not just annual math and reading scores in deciding whether a school passes muster but other measures, including tests in history, science and civics; graduation rates; and Advanced Placement tests.

For states with many immigrants, it would allow students not fluent in English to be tested in their native language for five years.

But in a sign of the difficult political calculus in extending a measure that has opponents on both the right and the left, for every supporter of the proposed changes there has emerged an opponent. .

Amy Wilkins, vice president of the Education Trust, a rights group, said the authors were succumbing to pressure from “well-financed and ill-informed defenders of the status quo.”

“The heart of the law has been hollowed out,” said Ms. Wilkins, who helped draft the original in 2001.

Michael J. Petrilli, a former Department of Education official who is a vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, has nicknamed the education committee’s draft “The Suburban Schools Relief Act of 2007” because he says it is intended to appease the middle class.

Samara Yudof, a spokeswoman for the education secretary, Margaret Spellings, said, “We have serious concerns that the draft creates loopholes in accountability measures, provides fewer options for parents, increases complexity and provides less transparency.”

“We will not support measures that water down the accountability provisions,” Ms. Yudof added.

On the other hand, Edward J. McElroy, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “This draft encourages a serious discussion of reauthorization.”

The National Education Association, the other national teachers union, which has been implacably critical of the law, said it would withhold comment on the draft until it finished polling its local delegates.

The House education committee posted the proposals on its Web site this week. Among the most important changes in the draft are those to the law’s accountability system, in which states judge whether schools have made “adequate yearly progress” and can avoid sanctions.

The draft would allow states to look beyond annual test scores and says bluntly that broader criteria “may increase the number of schools that make adequate yearly progress.”

Another change would distinguish schools where only one or two student groups fail to meet annualtesting goals from those where three or more groups fall short. The latter would face more rigorous sanctions; students at the former would no longer be eligible to transfer to higher-performing schools.

That change would be popular in many suburbs, where thousands of schools with sterling local reputations have faced federal sanctions because of one or two low-performing groups, but it has already drawn opposition from the tutoring industry and the Bush administration.

The draft bill would loosen the rules governing the testing of students with limited English, which have provoked disputes between federal officials and educators in some states, by allowing states to test students in their native language for five years, instead of the law’s three years.

“You can see where they’ve tried to satisfy education groups like the teachers unions and the school boards,” said Bruce Hunter, a lobbyist for the American Association of School Administrators.

Both Mr. Miller and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the Senate education committee, have promised to draw up bills in September to rework the law. President Bush has repeatedly described the law as a major reform of American education. It passed in 2001 with overwhelming bipartisan support, but last November, dozens of Democrats who campaigned on promises to change the law were elected, and this year, there have already been significant Republican defections.

A bill allowing states to opt out of testing requirements without losing federal money, introduced this year by Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, has attracted 50 conservative Republican co-sponsors, including the minority whip, Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Several groups have complained about the complexity of the draft proposals. The measures of schools’ academic progress, for instance, would be combined with the math and reading scores under a formula that has left even Department of Education officials puzzled.

[Note to readers: Not one mention of the fact that No Child Left Behind demands that the U.S. Military -- all branches -- get to send two representatives each to schools for the purpose of recruitment every time a college, university, trade or career training school comes to the school to offer their programs to students. It also means th at every time a scholarship is offered to students the military has the right to also have two representatives from each branch--in full dress uniform or fatigues--to offer the military alternative. In San Francisco, while the antiwar movement managed to rid the schools of JROTC, they were unable to prevent a motion to abide by the No Child Left Behind military recruitment policy. So, for instance, at a Career Day at George Washington High School, two recruiters from the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, United States Air Force and United States Coast Guard--10 military recruiters--showed up almost equaling all the rest of the rest together! They were placed all together handing out thousands of dollars worth of whips and jingles--pens, binders, key chains, hats, book covers, etc. and promising only two years of service and then full college benefits, etc.
They don't do very well in San Francisco but not for the want of trying. Now they are pushing the "DREAM Act" (The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) which promises citizenship to undocumented students who serve two years in the military--without getting killed first, of]


12) Insights: Racial Disparity Affirmed in Tobacco Advertising
August 28, 2007

Correction Appended

The density of billboards advertising tobacco products is more than twice as high in black neighborhoods as in white, researchers have found in a review of studies.

The studies were selected from an original group of 131 papers if they were peer-reviewed and directly compared protobacco media messages in African-American and Caucasian markets. That left 11 studies of tobacco advertising, 7 of them involving billboards or other signs, and 4 on magazine advertising.

Five of the billboard studies reported enough data to figure out the density of tobacco advertising in different neighborhoods. Pooling this data, the researchers found that there were 4.5 tobacco billboards per 10,000 residents in white areas and 11.8 per 10,000, or 2.6 times the density, in black neighborhoods. The data also showed that a given billboard was 70 percent more likely to advertise tobacco in a black market compared with a white one. The review appears in the September/October issue of Public Health Reports.

“If these populations are more exposed, we should be thinking about making sure that we’re doing extra public health interventions to combat that exposure,” said Dr. Brian A. Primack, an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and the lead author of the review. “A specific method for that kind of intervention is the idea of media literacy — teaching people to consciously evaluate the advertising messages that are all around them.”

Correction: September 1, 2007

A brief report in Science Times on Tuesday about a review of studies of pro-tobacco media messages in black and white neighborhoods, including seven studies involving billboard advertising, omitted the dates for the studies, leaving the impression that the analysis included current outdoor advertising. The studies were conducted from 1985 to 1998; outdoor advertising was banned beginning in 1999.


13) U.S. Obsessed With Using Force
The Herald (Harare)
30 August 2007
Posted to the web 30 August 2007
By Reason Wafawarova

SINCE the United States assumed global leadership from Britain at the end of the Second World War; when it emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the war, a development that saw it declare the era of "the American century", Washington has been obsessed with using force to thwart small countries.

In fact, the US emerged as a superpower that is scared of small countries. While this statement might seem contradictory, political analyses of US behaviour over the past 62 years proves otherwise.

During this period the US, among many other invasions went into Cuba, Grenada, Panama, Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan.

It also sponsored and armed reactionary rebels in their CIA engineered proxy wars in Angola, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Congo and Nicaragua, to mention just a few countries.

The Americans also led embargo campaigns on Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea and Zimbabwe.

The US portrays more concerns and worries about the behaviour of small states than it has about its more powerful rivals like India, China or the European Union.

When Ronald Reagan was asked to justify his administration's trade embargo against Nicaragua in 1985 he said, "the policies and actions of Nicaragua constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

Does this quotation ring a bell to Zimbabweans?

It should, given that both Condoleeza Rice and George W. Bush have almost repeated it verbatim in their attempt to justify the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (2001), a sanctions law that bars multilateral lending institutions, with dealings with the US, from extending lines of credit to Zimbabwe.

It also bars American companies from trading with Zimbabwe.

In 1985, people outside the US questioned how an underdeveloped peasant nation of three million people, as was Nicaragua then, could possibly constitute an "extraordinary threat" to the security of the US, then one of the two most powerful superpowers of the world.

Today, many outside the US still wonder how a largely peasant nation of 13 million people, Zimbabwe, can possibly constitute "an unusual and extraordinary threat" to the foreign policy of the US.

This writer says many outside the US would question this kind of thinking because the mainstream US society has often believed its ruling elite whenever it speaks this way. This is precisely because the US and much of the western world; has some of the most indoctrinated and brainwashed people of this world as Noam Chomsky rightly pointed out in the book, Latin America: From Colonisation to Globalisation, 1999.

In 1982, the Reagan administration, through the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff went on air to tell the American public that Grenada was a military threat to the US.

The mere fact that this was pronounced indicates the power of indoctrination and brainwashing contained in the two most powerful agents of imperialism, namely, western politicians and their mass media.

The fact that the American public could hear their chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff publicly utter this ludicrous statement without exploding into raucous laughter, was yet another indication of the degree of indoctrination.

This "extraordinary" military threat led to the invasion of Grenada in 1983 and 6 000 American elite troops descended on 40 Cubans and a couple of hundred Grenadine military men, earning themselves a total 8 000 medals for the "valour" that led to this enormous victory. The American media went berserk, spewing euphoric pugnacious and jingoistic sentiments over the vainglorious accomplishment.

Noam Chomsky, in the fore-mentioned book, analysed why the US is so scared of small states, in particular, he evaluated the concepts of US national security and foreign policy.

He says the threat to the security of the US by these oft-quoted small nations is too ludicrous to warrant any discussion, but the threat to US foreign policy is quiet real. Chomsky argues that it is the small, weak states that actually pose the greatest threat to American foreign policy.

This, he says, is the only explanation that can be given for the extraordinary savagery the US has displayed against some of the weakest and most inconsequential countries like Laos and Grenada.

It is like this, the weaker the country, the greater the banditry and savagery. The logic behind this can only be understood in the context of the underlying basis upon which US foreign policy is formulated.

To understand this it may be necessary to revisit what George Kennan, head of the policy planning unit in the US State Department, 1948, said about American foreign policy.

Said Kennan: "We have about 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6,3 percent of its population . . . In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.

"We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction . . . We should cease to talk about vague and -- for the Far East -- unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratisation.

The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans the better."

Today, those very "unreal objectives" form the cornerstone of US foreign policy on Zimbabwe, Iraq and Afghanistan, that despite the fact that they remain nothing but "idealistic slogans".

The fundamental principles of American foreign policy and indeed that of all imperialist countries are to ensure what Kennan once called "the protection of our raw materials." One would think that he was referring to raw materials found within the United States but he was actually referring to the raw materials of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Kennan did not bother to explain from whom he intended to have those raw materials protected. The only plausible explanation he could give was that there was need to protect "our raw materials" against the Russians and other "communists". The Russians and communists were the two major factors that frightened the US and western communities the most between 1945 and 1990. Today, the major source of fear among the western communities is terrorism, ostensibly fronted by the face of Al-Quaeda and Osama bin Laden.

The real threats against whom the Americans want to protect "their" resources are indeed the indigenous people who are the bona fide owners of those raw materials. Some of these indigenous people have made the "mistake" of embarking on policies aimed at making indigenous populations use and benefit from their resources.

In the eyes of the US ruling elite, that kind of conspiracy is totally intolerable; for it poses an "unusual and extraordinary threat". It simply has to be stopped.

This kind of conspiracy is what makes little countries like Laos, Grenada, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe so significant as to warrant worldwide headlines in the western media.

The significance is derived from the fact that by embarking on social policies that are welfare based, these small countries may succeed in empowering their own populations and if this leads to successful economic and social development, it may constitute a model for others, thereby having an undesired domino effect.

This is precisely why Henry Kissinger said Salvador Allende's Chile had to be stopped as it stood a dangerously high chance of infecting other countries -- it would be a virus. In other words economic and social development for any other country other than the US and its western allies is a disease that might infect other countries to the detriment of US foreign policy. When they are not calling such development a disease they are calling it a "rotten apple", "rot", or, as they prefer these days, "a rogue state."

The thinking behind the US' savagery on smaller states is that the smaller the state the higher the chance of success for these social policies and therefore the smaller the state the greater the threat of the disease of social and economic development in poor countries. This is precisely why the US wants land reform in Zimbabwe to fail. If it succeeds in a small country like Zimbabwe, what will stop people of the much bigger South Africa from following suit?

Laos, a very small country next to Thailand became a target of US savage attacks in 1958 as the Americans overthrew its democratic government and installed its extremely brutal right-wing dictatorial regime. The small country was to later be a subject of ruthless US aerial attacks.

This was a small poor peasant country made up of isolated peasant villages, inhabited by villagers who hardly knew that there was an outside world until they began to see those bird-like metal things appearing up in the sky and dropping bombs on them.

The question is why would a sophisticated superpower controlling half of the world's wealth destroy the misery field life of a peasant society? Laos committed a grave "crime" under Pathet Lao, a mild revolutionary who led a low-level agrarian reform programme that began to yield results by expanding the health and educational sectors. In the eyes of the American ruling elite, the "stupid" peasants were using raw materials in Laos for their own purposes and such "insolence" had to be stopped.

The US would care nothing if a country like Grenada disappeared from the face of the earth today. It is so small and insignificant in terms of US material interests. Nevertheless, Grenada was invaded in 1983.

The US began to put Grenada on their hostile media radar as soon as Maurice Bishop's government came to power in 1979. The US administration began to demonstrate its extraordinary hostility by cutting off aid, carried out scaring military threats, established an embargo and finally invaded the tiny country in 1983.

Bishop's socialist government could not be allowed to succeed, lest neighbouring countries would follow suit and pose "unusual and extraordinary threats" to the foreign policy of the US.

The Nicaraguan Sandinista programmes created more sorrow than happiness for Nicaragua though they had a successful land reform programme, increased literacy, improved the health delivery system, reduced infant mortality and increased life expectancy -- even earning an award from the World Health Organisation. While WHO saw social and economic development, the US ruling elite saw "an unusual and extraordinary threat" since the Sandinistas were "stealing" America's resources for their own purposes. And that is why the US trained, armed, nurtured and partnered the Contras in fighting the Sandinistas.

Of course, eventually the Sandinistas did fall just like Bishop's government in Grenada.

The same threat the Americans saw in Nicaragua, Laos and Grenada were also perceived in Angola, Congo, Ghana and Mozambique.

In Angola, the US sponsored Jonas Savimbi's Unita rebels for more than 20 years. In Congo, they organised the overthrow and murder of Patrice Lumumba before installing a ruthless dictatorial regime led by Mobutu Sese Seko. In Ghana, they sponsored and organised the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah while in Mozambique they sponsored and trained the murderous Renamo of Afonso Dhlakama.

In all these African countries, the excuse given by the US was that the governments were communist, a development that probably stood more threatening than terrorists in the eyes of the western community during the Cold War era. They even successfully assassinated Samora Machel, the then Mozambican president, in 1986.

Of course, both the US and apartheid South Africa, on whose soil the assassination was carried out, never admitted to any wrongdoing although the US acknowledged that they viewed Machel as the communist point-man in Southern Africa.

This analysis of historical events involving the US should help put into perspective, Washington's sanctions regime against Zimbabwe, which sanctions are supported by the western alliance.

It is an analysis relevant to the course and direction of the Third Chimurenga.

It is an analysis relevant to the relationship between the MDC and its partners in the so-called civic society, and the US led western alliance.

It is also an analysis of Zimbabwe's chances of standing its ground the way Cuba has done since 1958; the way Venezuela has done since 1999, about the same time Zimbabwe embarked on the agrarian reform programme.

The reality behind the US led western alliance's relationship with the Government as well as its opposition has nothing to do with the rhetoric of human rights, rule of law, democracy or freedom -- tenets the US generally views as idealistic slogans.

In fact the US, like any other imperial power, regards rule of law as a slogan to be used for three purposes, according to Chomsky.

Firstly, it is a slogan to pacify the domestic populations in the imperialists' own backyard. Secondly, it is a slogan so effectively used to denounce official enemies of the US's ruling elite.

Thirdly, it is a last resort in dealing with problems where all other covert means have proved ineffective. This is the extent to which the US and its western allies are committed to the doctrine of the rule of law, otherwise, apart from those three concerns all imperialists are sworn to the Rule of Force. It is high time all Zimbabweans reflected on and saw the real challenge before us in its perspective and decide the best way out of the prevailing challenges.

The US acts in the knowledge that it reversed agrarian reforms and installed puppet regimes in many countries and we, Zimbabweans, act in the knowledge that we have freed ourselves from foreign domination before and some agrarian reform programmes have succeeded elsewhere.

We would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer


14) Resolution passed by Washington State Labor Council
From: Carole Seligman

Resolution #5

WHEREAS, all of us who work for a living, regardless of country or region of origin, are dependent on job opportunities; and

WHEREAS, we are all dependent on each other to make our communities safe, enjoyable places in which to live and raise our children; and

WHEREAS, it is not the fault of any worker if there is an inadequate supply of living wage jobs in a community, region or nation; and

WHEREAS, immigrant workers across the country are waging heroic organizing campaigns to demand opportunities to make a living and live in such communities; and

WHEREAS, free trade agreements like CAFTA and NAFTA have opened the borders to the unfettered movement of corporations in search of profits while simultaneously depriving workers on both sides of the border of opportunities to make a living and increasing poverty, crime, drug abuse, and social unrest; and

WHEREAS, unrealistic and restrictive immigration policies combined with the effects of U.S. foreign policy and trade policy have helped create waves of political and economic refugees and a subsequent increase in undocumented workers in the United States; and

WHEREAS, a general atmosphere of racist scapegoating is being used to blame immigrants for joblessness and low wages while corporations plunder the globe causing poverty, unemployment, ecological catastrophes and wars, which drive immigrants to flee their homelands; and

WHEREAS, the 1996 Immigration Law militarized the border, increasing the repressive power of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE, formerly known as the INS) and resulting in a rise of deaths and deportations of undocumented immigrants; and

WHEREAS, in December 2005 the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would make felons of the country‚s eleven million undocumented immigrants and anyone who assists them; and

WHEREAS, the equally racist „guest worker‰ bills in the Senate are designed to control the immigrant „threat‰ by new bracero programs that amount to indentured servitude, and by pouring millions of dollars into expanded militarization of the border; and

WHEREAS, while granting a pathway to citizenship is a necessity to protect the rights of current immigrants, only demilitarization of the border and comprehensive immigration reform will protect future immigrants from being exploited and criminalized; and

WHEREAS, in the streets and the schools across the country, immigrants and their defenders are rising up in protest movements against repressive laws, and demanding comprehensive reform, with profound potential to better the lives of all working people in the U.S.; and

WHEREAS, since the year 2000 the AFL-CIO has called for comprehensive immigration reform, which has included numerous town-hall meetings around the country, the Immigrant Workers‚ Freedom Ride, and extensive lobbying for comprehensive immigration reform; and

WHEREAS, the President of the United States and Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform this past Spring and instead got caught up in some very conservative anti-immigrant worker rhetoric, border security issues and an attempt by some to greatly expand unregulated guest worker programs (H2B programs) to the grocery, transportation, construction and service industries, which would have created real jeopardy for U.S. workers in these industries; and

WHEREAS, the Bush Administration‚s immigration policy is now devolving to one of using Social Security no-match letters to carry out mass workplace raids and deportations of immigrant workers, disrupting families, communities and local economies across the United States, furthering employment discrimination against immigrant workers and forcing more workers into the unregulated underground economy; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) work to repeal NAFTA, CAFTA, and the 1996 Immigration Law, and to defeat the regressive immigrant legislation pending before Congress, including the Hagel-Martinez bill, or any other bill which would institute guest worker programs that would displace local workers and/or put immigrant workers and their families at the mercy of employers; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the WSLC demand the billions of dollars being spent on the apprehension, detention, deportation and other immigrant enforcement activities be diverted to create living wage jobs and expand social programs in the U.S. and in other countries negatively impacted by „free trade‰ policies, thereby lessening the reasons for immigration; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, go on record supporting the four principles of comprehensive immigration reform as articulated during the Immigrant Worker Freedom Ride that calls for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrant workers, an immigration policy that upholds family reunification, equal protection of workers‚ rights regardless of immigration status, and full civil liberty protections for immigrant workers; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the WSLC demand the Bush Administration drop all charges against humanitarian workers for providing aid to immigrants; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the WSLC shall call for an end to all ICE raids and deportations, including those based on Social Security no-match letters, and take the following actions; 1) work with immigrant rights groups to expose and stop ICE raids; 2) condemn ICE raids as racist and union-busting, and help organize protests to demand that immigrants are not punished, exploited or denied labor protections as a result of their undocumented status; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the WSLC shall forward this resolution to the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) for adoption and ask that our labor halls will be a sanctuary for immigrant workers facing persecution from ICE; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, convey the above statement of principles to the President of the United States, the Governor of Washington State, and to Washington State‚s Congressional Delegation; and, be it finally

RESOLVED, that the WSLC begin networking with immigrant and community organizations to support and help build this growing workers‚ movement and to expand and initiate campaigns to organize immigrant workers into unions.




Suicide rate increases among U.S. soldiers
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A new U.S. Army report reveals the suicide rate among soldiers is on the rise, CNN reported Thursday.
The study said failed relationships, legal woes, financial problems and occupational/operational issues are the main reasons why an increasing number of soldiers are taking their own lives.
While 79 soldiers committed suicide in 2003, 88 killed themselves in 2005 and 99 died at their own hands last year.
Another two suspected suicides from 2006 are under investigation.
The only year that saw a drop was 2004, in which 67 soldiers committed suicide.
Most of the dead were members of infantry units who killed themselves with firearms.
CNN said demographic differences and varying stress factors make it difficult to compare the military suicide rate to that of civilians.
In 2006, the overall suicide rate for the United States was 13.4 per 100,000 people. It was 21.1 per 100,000 people for all men aged 17 to 45, compared to a rate of 17.8 for men in the Army.
The overall rate was 5.46 per 100,000 for women, compared to an Army rate of 11.3 women soldiers per 100,000.
August 16, 2007

Illinois: Illegal Immigrant Leaving Sanctuary
An illegal immigrant who took refuge in a Chicago church a year ago to escape deportation said she planned to leave her sanctuary soon to lobby Congress for immigration changes, even if that means risking arrest. The immigrant, Elvira Arellano, 32, has said she feared being separated from her 8-year-old son, Saul, when she asked the Adalberto United Methodist Church for help, but she said she planned to leave on Sept. 12 to travel to Washington. Ms. Arellano came to the United States illegally from Mexico in 1997, was deported, but then returned. She moved to Illinois in 2000.
August 16, 2007

Bolivia: Coca Leaves Predict Castro Recovery
A consultation of coca leaves by Aymara Indian shamans presages the recovery of Fidel Castro, according to Cuba’s ambassador to Bolivia. “The Comandante is enjoying a recovery,” Rafael Dausá, the ambassador, told Bolivia’s state news agency after attending the ceremony in El Alto, the heavily indigenous city near the capital, La Paz. Pointing to Cuba’s warming ties to Bolivia, as the leftist president, Evo Morales, settles into his second year in power, Mr. Dausá said, “Being in Bolivia today means being in the leading trench in the anti-imperialist struggle in Latin America.” Bolivia and Cuba, together with Venezuela, have forged a political and economic alliance called the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas.
August 16, 2007

Long-Studied Giant Star Displays Huge Cometlike Tail
August 16, 2007

Storm Victims Sue Over Trailers
NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 8 (AP) — More than 500 hurricane survivors living in government-issued trailers and mobile homes are taking the manufacturers of the structures to court.
In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in New Orleans, the hurricane survivors accused the makers of using inferior materials in a profit-driven rush to build the temporary homes. The lawsuit asserts that thousands of Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 were exposed to dangerous levels of formaldehyde by living in the government-issued trailers and mobile homes.
And, it accuses 14 manufacturers that supplied the Federal Emergency Management Agency with trailers of cutting corners in order to quickly fill the shortage after the storms.
Messages left with several of those companies were not immediately returned.
FEMA, which is not named as a defendant in this suit, has agreed to have the air quality tested in some of the trailers.
August 9, 2007

British Criticize U.S. Air Attacks in Afghan Region
August 9, 2007

Army Expected to Meet Recruiting Goal
After failing to meet its recruiting goal for two consecutive months, the Army is expected to announce that it met its target for July. Officials are offering a new $20,000 bonus to recruits who sign up by the end of September. A preliminary tally shows that the Army most likely met its goal of 9,750 recruits for last month, a military official said on the condition of anonymity because the numbers will not be announced for several more days. The Army expects to meet its recruiting goal of 80,000 for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, the official said.
August 8, 2007

Beach Closings and Advisories
The number of United States beaches declared unsafe for swimming reached a record last year, with more than 25,000 cases where shorelines were closed or health advisories issued, the Natural Resources Defense Council reported, using data from the Environmental Protection Agency. The group said the likely culprit was sewage and contaminated runoff from water treatment systems. “Aging and poorly designed sewage and storm water systems hold much of the blame for beach water pollution,” it said. The number of no-swim days at 3,500 beaches along the oceans, bays and Great Lakes doubled from 2005. The report is online at
August 8, 2007

Finland: 780-Year-Old Pine Tree Found
Scientists have discovered a 780-year-old Scots pine, the oldest living forest pine known in Finland, the Finnish Forest Research Institute said. The tree was found last year in Lapland during a study mission on forest fires, the institute said, and scientists analyzed a section of the trunk to determine its age. “The pine is living, but it is not in the best shape,” said Tuomo Wallenius, a researcher. “It’s quite difficult to say how long it will survive.” The tree is inside the strip of land on the eastern border with Russia where access is strictly prohibited.
August 8, 2007

The Bloody Failure of ‘The Surge’: A Special Report
by Patrick Cockburn

Sean Penn applauds as Venezuela's Chavez rails against Bush
The Associated Press
August 2, 2007

California: Gore’s Son Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges
Al Gore III, son of the former vice president, pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana and other drugs, but a judge said the plea could be withdrawn and the charges dropped if Mr. Gore, left, completed a drug program. The authorities have said they found drugs in Mr. Gore’s car after he was pulled over on July 4 for driving 100 miles an hour. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of drug possession, two misdemeanor counts of drug possession without a prescription and one misdemeanor count of marijuana possession, the district attorney’s office said. Mr. Gore, 24, has been at a live-in treatment center since his arrest, said Allan Stokke, his lawyer.
July 31, 2007

United Parcel Service Agrees to Benefits in Civil Unions
July 31, 2007

John Stewart demands the Bay View retract the truth, Editorial by Willie Ratcliff,

Minister to Supervisors: Stop Lennar, assess the people’s health by Minister Christopher Muhammad,

OPD shoots unarmed 15-year-old in the back in East Oakland by Minister of Information JR,

California: Raids on Marijuana Clinics
Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided 10 medical marijuana clinics in Los Angles County just as Los Angeles city leaders backed a measure calling for an end to the federal government’s crackdown on the dispensaries. Federal officials made five arrests and seized large quantities of marijuana and cash after serving clinics with search warrants, said a spokeswoman, Sarah Pullen. Ms. Pullen refused to disclose other details. The raid, the agency’s second largest on marijuana dispensaries, came the same day the Los Angeles City Council introduced an interim ordinance calling on federal authorities to stop singling out marijuana clinics allowed under state law.
July 26, 2007




Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


USLAW Endorses September 15 Antiwar Demonstration in Washington, DC
USLAW Leadership Urges Labor Turnout
to Demand End to Occupation in Iraq, Hands Off Iraqi Oil

By a referendum ballot of members of the Steering Committee of U.S. Labor Against the War, USLAW is now officially on record endorsing and encouraging participation in the antiwar demonstration called by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition in Washington, DC on September 15. The demonstration is timed to coincide with a Congressional vote scheduled in late September on a new Defense Department appropriation that will fund the Iraq War through the end of Bush's term in office.

U.S. Labor Against the War

Stop the Iraq Oil Law

2007 Iraq Labor Solidarity Tour



This is a modern day lynching"--Marcus Jones, father of Mychal Bell


P.O. BOX 1890
FAX: (318) 992-8701


Sign the NAACP's Online Petition to the Governor of Louisiana and Attorney General

TIME: 9:00AM
MONROE RESIDENTS: 318.801.0513
JENA RESIDENTS: 318.419.6441
Send Donations to the Jena 6 Defense Fund:
Jena 6 Defense Committee
P.O. Box 2798
Jena, Louisiana 71342


Young Black males the target of small-town racism
By Jesse Muhammad
Staff Writer
"JENA, La. ( - Marcus Jones, the father of 16-year-old Jena High School football star Mychal Bell, pulls out a box full of letters from countless major colleges and universities in America who are trying to recruit his son. Mr. Jones, with hurt in his voice, says, “He had so much going for him. My son is innocent and they have done him wrong.”

An all-White jury convicted Mr. Bell of two felonies—aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery—and faces up to 22 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 31. Five other young Black males are also awaiting their day in court for alleged attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder charges evolving from a school fight: Robert Bailey, 17; Theo Shaw, 17; Carwin Jones, 18; Bryant Purvis, 17; and Jesse Beard, 15. Together, this group has come to be known as the “Jena 6.”
Updated Jul 22, 2007

My Letter to Judge Mauffray:

P.O. BOX 1890


Dear Judge Mauffray,

I am appalled to learn of the conviction of 16-year-old Jena High School football star Mychal Bell and the arrest of five other young Black men who are awaiting their day in court for alleged attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder charges evolving from a school fight. These young men, Mychal Bell, 16; Robert Bailey, 17; Theo Shaw, 17; Carwin Jones, 18; Bryant Purvis, 17; and Jesse Beard, 15, who have come to be known as the “Jena 6” have the support of thousands of people around the country who want to see them free and back in school.

Clearly, two different standards are in place in Jena—one standard for white students who go free even though they did, indeed, make a death threat against Black students—the hanging of nooses from a tree that only white students are allowed to sit under—and another set of rules for those that defended themselves against these threats. The nooses were hung after Black students dared to sit in the shade of that “white only” tree!

If the court is sincerely interested in justice, it will drop the charges against all of these six students, reinstate them back into school and insist that the school teach the white students how wrong they were and still are for their racist attitudes and violent threats! It is the duty of the schools to uphold the constitution and the bill of rights. A hanging noose or burning cross is just like a punch in the face or worse so says the Supreme Court! Further, it is an act of vigilantism and has no place in a “democracy”.

The criminal here is white racism, not a few young men involved in a fistfight!
I am a 62-year-old white woman who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Fistfights among teenagers—as you certainly must know yourself—are a right of passage. Please don’t tell me you have never gotten into one. Even I picked a few fights with a few girls outside of school for no good reason. (We soon, in fact, became fast friends.) Children are not just smaller sized adults. They are children and go through this. The fistfight is normal and expected behavior that adults can use to educate children about the negative effect of the use of violence to solve disputes. That is what adults are supposed to do.

Hanging nooses in a tree because you hate Black people is not normal at all! It is a deep sickness that our schools and courts are responsible for unless they educate and act against it. This means you must overturn the conviction of Mychal Bell and drop the cases against Robert Bailey, Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, and Jesse Beard.

It also means you must take responsibility to educate white teachers, administrators, students and their families against racism and order them to refrain from their racist behavior from here on out—and make sure it is carried out!
You are supposed to defend the students who want to share the shade of a leafy green tree not persecute them—that is the real crime that has been committed here!


Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War


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

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

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

—MALCOLM X, 1965


Youtube interview with the DuPage County Activists Who Were Arrested for Bannering
You can watch an interview with the two DuPage County antiwar activists
who arrested after bannering over the expressway online at:

Please help spread the word about this interview, and if you haven't
already done so, please contact the DuPage County State's attorney, Joe
Birkett, to demand that the charges against Jeff Zurawski and Sarah
Heartfield be dropped. The contact information for Birkett is:

Joseph E. Birkett, State's Attorney
503 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630) 407-8000
Fax: (630) 407-8151
Please forward this information far and wide.

My Letter:

Joseph E. Birkett, State's Attorney
503 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630) 407-8000
Fax: (630) 407-8151

Dear State's Attorney Birkett,

The news of the arrest of Jeff Zurawski and Sarah Heartfield is getting out far and wide. Their arrest is outrageous! Not only should all charges be dropped against Jeff and Sarah, but a clear directive should be given to Police Departments everywhere that this kind of harassment of those who wish to practice free speech will not be tolerated.

The arrest of Jeff and Sarah was the crime. The display of their message was an act of heroism!

We demand you drop all charges against Jeff Zurawski and Sarah Heartfield NOW!


Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War,, San Francisco, California


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


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


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



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])