Friday, September 28, 2007



474 VALENCIA ST.(Near 16th St., one block from 16th St. BART)


The cultural revolution is coming to a venue near you.
Don't miss it because Fox won't be covering it!

September 28 (FRIDAY)
THE PEACENIKS in concert

fun songs of peace and social justice

Martin dePorres "the kitchen"
225 Portrero/16th, 7pm
(22, 33, 53 buses stop at the corner)

Hear your favorites:
"Yuppie Yuppie stole my pad"
"Don't get sick in America"
"do wopping wops"
"Redistribute the wealth,"
and many more you won't hear on the radio.



Cinema Libre Studio, Participant Productions, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation
are proud to present the Exclusive Bay Area Engagement of

The inspiring story of Marion Cloete, a clinically trained psychologist who, with her husband and two daughters, fearlessly walked away from a privileged life in a wealthy Johannesburg suburb to establish an extraordinary village and school that provide shelter, food and education to more than 550 South African children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The stories of the children are interwoven with the dramatic parallel saga of the orphaned elephants of Pilanesberg National Park . In the last few years, elder female elephants have been re-introduced into the park's population in the hopes of re-socializing the young. The experiment is working—and it offers a resonant reflection of the healing taking place for the human children being "re-parented" by Marion . Directed by Louise Hogarth (The Gift). This film is Not Rated by the MPAA. Running time 95 minutes.

"Nothing short of wondrous."
- Sara Cardace , New York Magazine

“Watching Marion Cloete's compassion, wisdom and practicality in the face of unimaginable misery will provide purpose and courage and adrenalin for everyone with their own struggles, big and small."
- Nicole V. Gagné, Film Journal International

"Audiences will be drawn by the children's irresistible spirits and by Cloete's fierce blend of goodness and outrage."
- Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times

“Cry if you must—then go to and do something. “
-Ella Taylor, Village Voice ( Read the review here)

"Louise Hogarth's moving documentary Angels in the Dust, makes Mother Teresa look like a slacker."
-Gary Goldstein, REEL.COM

Exclusive Engagement Opens Friday, September 28th
Landmark Shattuck Cinemas
2230 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley , CA 94704 - (510) 464-5980
1:20, 4:00, 6:40, 9:20
*Q&A's with producer James Egan at 4:00 and 6:40 on Sept. 29th

San Francisco
Landmark Lumiere Theatre
1572 California Street at Polk
San Francisco , CA 94109 - (415) 267-4893
4:30, 7:00* & 9:25*, plus Fri-Sun matinee 2:15
*Q&A's with producer James Egan at 7:00 and 9:25 on Sept. 28th

Buy Tickets!

Official Website



Hands Off Venezuela Campaign
PO Box 4244 St. Paul, MN 55104


What: Bay Area Premiere of "No Volveran!" A new film on the Venezuelan Revolution

When: Sunday, October 14, 7 PM

Where: Mission Cultural Center -- 2868 Mission Street (near 25th Street) San Francisco, 94110

The Hands Off Venezuela Campaign is proud to announce a new film on the Venezuelan Revolution. Filmed during an international delegation to Venezuela during last year's historic Presidential elections, the film makers take us on a journey through the fervor of those days in December 2006, traveling deep into the shanty towns (barrios), and to several factories under workers' control, to find out why there is a movement to overthrow capitalism, what Socialism of the 21st Century is, and how it is changing people's lives.

Also covering alternative community run media like CatiaTV, and Radio Negro Primero, and the social projects called misiones, the film helps explain why Venezuela has become a symbol of liberation for those in struggle around the world. With fantastic footage of the elections, demonstrations and the people and streets of Caracas, the revolution is brought to our screens in a rich tapestry of action and interview that gives us real insight into the process taking place, and the challenges that lie ahead. A must see!

Melanie McDonald, the film maker, will give a short presentation and answer questions. For more information visit

Admission: $5; For seniors and students: $3. Copies of the film and other materials will be available for purchase after the screening.

***Please distribute widely***

For more information, please call 415-821-1155 or write


The New York Times

Jena 6 Defendant Released on Bail
Filed at 7:06 p.m. ET
September 27, 2007

JENA, La. (AP) -- A black teenager whose prosecution in the beating of a white classmate prompted a massive civil rights protest here walked out of a courthouse Thursday after a judge ordered him freed.

Mychal Bell's release on $45,000 bail came hours after a prosecutor confirmed he will no longer seek an adult trial for the 17-year-old. Bell, one of the teenagers known as the Jena Six, still faces trial as a juvenile in the December beating in this small central Louisiana town.

''We still have mountains to climb, but at least this is closer to an even playing field,'' said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped organize last week's protest.

''He goes home because a lot of people left their home and stood up for him,'' Sharpton said.

District Attorney Reed Walters' decision to abandon adult charges means that Bell, who had faced a maximum of 15 years in prison on his aggravated second-degree battery conviction last month, instead could be held only until he turns 21 if he is found guilty in juvenile court.

The conviction in adult court was thrown out this month by the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, which said Bell should not have been tried as an adult on that particular charge.

Walters had said he would appeal that decision. On Thursday, he said he still believes there was legal merit to trying Bell as an adult but decided it was in the best interest of the victim, Justin Barker, and his family to let the juvenile court handle the case.

''They are on board with what I decided,'' Walters said at a news conference.

Walters said Bell faces juvenile court charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit that crime.

Bell is among six black Jena High School students arrested in December after a beating that left Barker unconscious and bloody, though the victim was able to attend a school function later the same day. Four of the defendants were 17 at the time, and legally adults under Louisiana law.

Those four and Bell, who was 16, all were initially charged with attempted murder. Walters has said he sought to have Bell tried as an adult because he already had a criminal record, and because he believed Bell instigated the attack.

The charges have been dropped to aggravated second-degree battery in four of the cases. One defendant has yet to be arraigned. The sixth defendant's case is sealed in juvenile court.

Critics accuse Walters, who is white, of prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites. They note that he filed no charges against three white teens suspended from the high school for allegedly hanging nooses in a tree on campus not long before fights between blacks and whites, including the attack on Barker.

An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 protesters marched in Jena last week in a scene that evoked the early years of the civil-rights movement.

Walters said the demonstration had no influence on the decision he announced Thursday, and ended his news conference by saying that only God kept the protest peaceful.

''The only way -- let me stress that -- the only way that I believe that me or this community has been able to endure the trauma that has been thrust upon us is through the prayers of the Christian people who have sent them up in this community,'' Walters said.

''I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened. You can quote me on that.''

When the Rev. Donald Sibley, a black Jena pastor, called it a ''shame'' that Walters credited divine intervention for the protesters acting responsibly, the prosecutor said: ''What I'm saying is, the Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people, and they responded accordingly.''

After the news conference, Sibley told CNN that Walters had insulted the protesters by making a false separation between ''his Christ and our Christ.''

''I can't diminish Christ at all. But for him to use it in the sense that because his Christ, his Jesus, because he prayed, because of his police, that everything was peaceful and was decent and in order -- that's not the truth,'' Sibley said.

Walters has said repeatedly that Barker's suffering has been lost in the furor that erupted over the case, and that what happened to the teen was much more severe than a schoolyard fight.

Walters also has defended his decision not to seek charges in the hanging of the nooses, which he said was ''abhorrent and stupid'' but not a crime.

[DEMAND ALL CHARGES BE DROPPED! THE HANGING OF NOOSES IS A THREAT OF DEATH THAT'S BEEN CARRIED OUT PLENTY OF TIMES BEFORE! What they need to do is go on a massive anti-racist campaign in the schools, on TV, Radio, Newspapers so that these things don't happen again! We need education not incarceration; treatment not jail; fund human needs not war!...BW]

Free the Jena 6! Free Mychal Bell!
Join the Protest at the New Federal Building
Tuesday, October 2 at 5:00 pm
7th St. near Mission St., San Francisco


Beating Case Will Remain in Juvenile Court
September 27, 2007

BATON ROUGE, La., Sept. 26 (AP) — Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana said Wednesday that the prosecutor has decided not to challenge a ruling sending one of the Jena Six cases to juvenile court.

The prosecutor, Reed Walters, had said he would fight a state appeals court’s decision that Mychal Bell, 17, could not be tried as an adult and that his conviction of second-degree battery be set aside.

Ms. Blanco said Mr. Walters contacted her Wednesday to say he had decided not to appeal.

Mr. Bell, who remains behind bars, was one of six black Jena High School teenagers arrested after an attack in December on a white student. Five of the six teenagers initially were charged with attempted second-degree murder, though charges for four of them have been reduced.


Toxic West Virginia: Mountaintop Removal- Episode 1


Join Active duty Soldiers from Fort Drum and people from across New York
State to demand and end to the war.
Steve Wickham and the NEPAJAC Sept 29th Caravan Coordinating Committee


Defend the ILWU Local 10 Brothers ---
Assaulted by Cops on the Sacramento Docks!
Emergency Executive Board Meeting Tuesday September 4!

On August 23, West Sacramento police and private security guards viciously
attacked, maced and arrested two Local 10 brothers, Jason Ruffin #101168 and
Aaron Harrison #101167, coming back to work on the SSA terminal after lunch.
When the guards insisted on searching their car, the longshoremen questioned
their authority to do so and called the Local 10 business agent. While one
was talking on the phone to the BA and without provocation, they were
assaulted, dragged from the car, handcuffed, jailed and charged with
"trespassing" and "obstructing a police officer". How the hell can
longshoremen be "trespassing", returning to work after lunch, having already
shown their PMA ID cards to guards at the terminal. Was it racial profiling
because the two longshoremen were black? Authorities citing a new maritime
security regulation that permits vehicle inspection doesn't mean maritime
workers can't question it. It doesn't take away a union member's right to
call his union business agent, And it certainly doesn't give authorities,
private or government, the right to assault and arrest you without
provocation. This is the ugly face of the "war on terror" on the docks. And
it'll get worse unless we come together and take action to defend these

Their court date is set for October 4 at 8:30AM in Yolo County
Superior Court; 213 Third St.; Woodland, CA.

An injury to two is an injury to all!

We, Executive Board and Local 10 members, called for an Emergency Executive
Board meeting Tuesday September 4 to resolve this urgent matter.

Melvin McKay #9268 Trent Willis #9182
Lonnie Francis #9274 Lawrence Thibeaux #7541
Jahn Overstreet #9189 Jack Heyman #8780
Erick Wright #8946


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


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:

The Sept. 18 meeting of the Oct. 27 Coalition's Outreach Committee decided that the next meeting will be held on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 10 am. I propose that we hold the meeting at the ANSWER office (2489 Mission Street).

474 VALENCIA ST.(Near 16th St., one block from 16th St. BART)

The next meeting of the October 27th Coalition Steering Committee will take place on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2 P.M. at the Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St., San Francisco. Originally the meeting had been set for 12 noon, but Centro del Pueblo is not available until 2 p.m.

This meeting was scheduled for a Saturday afternoon, in order to allow more regional participation in the meeting and the steering committee. We know that organizers from Sacramento and San Jose are planning to attend, and hope other cities where Oct. 27 organizing is taking place will be able to participate. The meeting should last about two hours, and will have reports from the various working committees, a proposal for the program and plan for the day.


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 in alphabetical order--Check out our new website at:

AFSCME Local 101, San Jose
Al Awda SF, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Alameda County Central Labor Council
Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines (AJLPP)
American Friends Service Committee
Arab American Union Members Council
Arab Resource and Organizing Center
Barrio Unidos por Amnestia
Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice
Bay Area United Against War
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee
Building & Construction Trades Council of Santa Clara & San Benito Counties
Cindy Sheehan
Coalicion Primero de Mayo, SFBA
Coalition to Free the Angola 3
CODE PINK Women for Peace
Common Ground Relief
Communications Workers of America Local 9415
Community Futures Collective
Contra Costa County Central Labor Council
East Bay Labor and Community Coalition
East Bay Coalition in Support of Self Rule for Iraqis
Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy and Laity Concerned
Episcopal Diocese of California
First Quarter Storm Network - USA
Free Palestine Alliance
Global Exchange
Greenwood Earth Alliance
International Socialist Organization
Iraq Moratorium
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma'at
Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB - Pro-People Youth)
La Raza Centro Legal
Larry Everest, author
LEF Foundation
Libertarian Party of San Francisco
Monterey Bay Labor Council
National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
National Council of Arab Americans
Not In Our Name
Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 3, Exec Board
Party for Socialism and Liberation
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
Pride at Work
Renee Saucedo
Revolutionary Workers Group
Revolution Youth
Sacramento Area Black Caucus
San Francisco Bay View Newspaper
San Francisco Day Labor Program
S.F. Green Party
San Francisco Labor Council
San Jose Peace Center
San Mateo County Central Labor Council
Scientific Socialist Collective
Senior Action Network
SF Bay View Newspaper
Socialist Action
Socialist Viewpoint
South Bay Labor Council
South Bay Mobilization
State Central Committee of the Peace and Freedom Party
Stop Funding the War Coalition
The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
The United Educators of San Francisco, (CTA/NEA and CFT/AFT - Local 61)
U.S. Labor Against the War
United for Peace & Justice Bay Area
United for Peace and Justice
Vanguard Foundation
Veterans for Peace
West County Toxics Coalition
Women for Peace
Workers International League
World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime! SF Bay Area Chapter
Youth and Student A.N.S.W.E.R.

...a partial listing! we are gathering groups faster than we
can post them!

Here's what they're doing in Boston on Oct. 27:


Join thousands for the *New England Mobilization to End the War at 12:00 *on
*Saturday, October 27th in Boston*. People will be demonstrating in
regional sites around the country in a nationally coordinated day of protest
against the war in Iraq organized by United for Peace and Justice, the
nation's largest grassroots antiwar coalition.

The New England event will start with a rally at the Boston Commons
bandstand from noon to 2:00 PM, followed by a march from 2:00 to 3:00 PM.
The rally will include both speakers and cultural performances. Speakers
confirmed so far include:

*Felix Arroyo (Member, Boston City Council)*
*Gabriel Camacho (Immigrant Rights)*
*Gold Star Parents (speaker/s to be announced)*
*Shep Gurwitz (Veterans for Peace)*
*Liam Madden (Iraq Veterans Against the War)*
*Military Families Speak Out (several members will speak)*
*Merrie Najimy (American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee)*
*Rostam Pourzal (Iranian-American specialist on human rights) *
*Dahlia Wasfi (Iraqi-American MD)*
*Howard Zinn (historian)*

The central demands for the regional event in Boston, as approved by the New
England United membership at its meeting on September 8, are:






For more information, please visit the New England United regional website
at .


Stop Government Attacks
Against the Anti-War Movement!
Take Action to Defend Free Speech




1) Dissecting universal health care:
Effects of governor's or Democrats' reform proposals would 'vary depending on a person's circumstances'
By Mike Zapler
Contra Costa Times
Article Launched:09/27/2007 03:04:39 AM PDT

2) Blackwater Tops All Firms in Iraq in Shooting Rate
September 27, 2007

3) U.S. Needs ‘Long-Term Presence’ in Iraq, Gates Says
September 27, 2007

4) Navy to Mask Swastika Look of Barracks in California
September 27, 2007
[Aerial Photo at this]

5) Judge Rules Provisions in Patriot Act to Be Illegal
September 27, 2007

6) College Dwellers Outnumber the Imprisoned
September 27, 2007

7) With U.A.W. Accord, G.M. Looks to a New Detroit
"...U.A.W. members, assured of health care benefits that were the envy of the labor movement, had little incentive to take better care of their health, since their generous coverage would pay for most any ailment."
September 27, 2007

8) The Sept. 15 March on Washington:
A New Movement is Emerging
By Brian Becker
"A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition"

9) The ‘Crazies’ and Iran
September 27, 2007

10) Senate Endorses Plan to Divide Iraq
Action Shows Rare Bipartisan Consensus
By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 26, 2007; 3:38 PM

11) U.S. students study for free at medical school in Cuba
By: Bryan Gibel
Posted: 9/28/07
by Bryan Gibel
Daily Lobo

12) Board Calls on City to Halt Hunters Point Development
School Board Notes
By Nicole Achs Freeling
September 26, 2007 Correspondent

13) An Iraq war veteran reflects on the Sept. 15 march
‘The first time I put on that uniform I hoped I would wear it with honor. On Sept. 15, I finally did.’
By Michael Prysner, Iraq war veteran who was arrested at the Capitol on Sept. 15 along with 195 others.
Story sent by:
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311

14) A matter of civil rights
Dr. John Carlos marches, speaks out on the Jena 6
Sports Illustrated
Posted: Thursday September 27, 2007 1:24PM;
Updated: Thursday September 27, 2007 4:32P

15) Hired Gun Fetish
Op-Ed Columnist
September 28, 2007

16) Runaway (Spending) Train
September 28, 2007

17) U.A.W. Chiefs Unanimously Back G.M. Accord
September 28, 2007

18) The New Affirmative Action
September 30, 2007

19) Blackwater Shooting Scene Was Chaotic
September 28, 2007

20) At Least Seven Reported Dead After U.S. Helicopter Attack
September 28, 2007

21) Testimony in Court-Martial Describes a Sniper Squad Pressed to Raise Body Count
September 28, 2007

22) Gates Favors Faster Expansion of the Army
September 28, 2007

23) Gap in Illness Rates Between Rich and Poor New Yorkers Is Widening, Study Shows
September 28, 2007


1) Dissecting universal health care:
Effects of governor's or Democrats' reform proposals would 'vary depending on a person's circumstances'
By Mike Zapler
Contra Costa Times
Article Launched:09/27/2007 03:04:39 AM PDT

SACRAMENTO -- The term universal health care is tossed around with ease by politicians looking to remake the state's medical system, but it can conjure images of major upheaval.

If Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers succeed in extending coverage to everyone, experts say the ways that people could be affected are far from universal.

People in well-paid, skilled jobs with generous health plans probably won't notice much difference at all, at least initially. Their employers offer good benefits to compete for talent, and no health reform plan is likely to change that.

But for low-wage workers in jobs such as retail and fast food, and for millions of others anxious about losing their insurance and not being able to buy it on their own, any health care plan that emerges from this fall's special legislative session could bring big change when it comes to their medical care.

In short, health reform will mean different things to different people.

"The impact will certainly vary depending on a person's circumstances," said Marian Mulkey, a senior program officer at the Oakland-based California Healthcare Foundation.

"Because both of these reform proposals build on the existing patchwork system of employer-based coverage and public programs, there are a number of different paths that people would experience."

In other words, lawmakers want to expand, not scrap, the ways people currently get insurance -- through work, government programs and on their own in the private market.

Here are a few hypothetical scenarios that help explain how the health plans could affect people in different circumstances:

Employed, but paid low wages and uninsured

Consider a waiter making $27,000 who's uninsured, either by choice or because his employer doesn't provide insurance. If the governor had his way, that person could suddenly find himself having to buy insurance on his own -- everyone would have to carry insurance under Schwarzenegger's plan -- without any government subsidy.

Only people making less than $25,525 would qualify for government help under the governor's plan, a threshold Democrats say is too low.

The Democratic health plan would put that person in a better spot: Either his employer would have to start offering insurance, or he could buy benefits through a state pool, paying no more than $1,350 per year out-of-pocket.

Highly skilled and paid high wages

At the other end of the spectrum, a Silicon Valley engineer making $90,000 with full benefits probably wouldn't experience anything fundamentally new. But if her employer has been making her pick up a bigger share of her premium because of increasing health care costs, that trend may continue.

The governor and Democrats also are considering asking voters to raise the sales tax to help pay for universal care -- which would raise the price of cars, TVs, groceries and other goods.

The muddled middle

The fates of people in neither of those camps -- in midwage jobs, working for companies that are scaling back health benefits and shifting costs to workers -- could be most in flux. Both reform plans give employers a tempting offer: Stop offering coverage and, instead, pay a percentage of payroll to the state.

Either plan could save companies money by dropping their coverage. The governor would charge them 4 percent of payroll, the Democrats 7.5 percent. Many businesses spend more than 10 percent on health coverage now.

It's tough to assess the impact on workers whose employers decide to drop coverage. Under the Democratic plan, those who make less than $30,630 -- $61,950 for a family of four -- would qualify for health insurance subsidies.

Everyone else would be able to buy insurance through a state pool but with no government help. Under Schwarzenegger's plan, fewer people would qualify for a subsidy.

How about the millions of Californians who have insurance now through work but worry about losing it and not being able to replace it because an insurance company won't take them?

Both reform plans would provide relief on this front by, in short, changing the way insurance companies do business.

Schwarzenegger would force insurers to sell policies to people with pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies could set prices based on a few factors, such as age and geographic area.

The Democratic plan also would end insurers' practice of cherry-picking the healthiest people. It would, however, allow insurers to deny plans to the "sickest" 5 percent of applicants, who could instead obtain coverage through a state "high-risk" pool.

Assuming Schwarzenegger and Democrats can reach a compromise -- as similar as their plans are, it could take billions of dollars to bridge a few key differences -- it's likely some hybrid of their proposals would be approved by lawmakers this fall.

Voters would then be asked next year to approve a slate of taxes to provide the funding -- and how they vote will almost certainly be influenced by how they're affected.

Reach Mike Zapler of the San Jose Mercury News at 916-441-4603 or


2) Blackwater Tops All Firms in Iraq in Shooting Rate
September 27, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — The American security contractor Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials.

Blackwater is now the focus of investigations in both Baghdad and Washington over a Sept. 16 shooting in which at least 11 Iraqis were killed. Beyond that episode, the company has been involved in cases in which its personnel fired weapons while guarding State Department officials in Iraq at least twice as often per convoy mission as security guards working for other American security firms, the officials said.

The disclosure came as the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had sent a team of officials to Iraq to get answers to questions about the use of American security contractors there.

The State Department keeps reports on each case in which weapons were fired by security personnel guarding American diplomats in Iraq. Officials familiar with the internal State Department reports would not provide the actual statistics, but they indicated that the records showed that Blackwater personnel were involved in dozens of episodes in which they had resorted to force.

The officials said that Blackwater’s incident rate was at least twice that recorded by employees of DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, the two other United States-based security firms that have been contracted by the State Department to provide security for diplomats and other senior civilians in Iraq.

The State Department would not comment on most matters relating to Blackwater, citing the current investigation. But Sean McCormack, the department’s spokesman, said that of 1,800 escort missions by Blackwater this year, there had been “only a very small fraction, very small fraction, that have involved any sort of use of force.”

In 2005, DynCorp reported 32 shootings during about 3,200 convoy missions, and in 2006 that company reported 10 episodes during about 1,500 convoy missions. While comparable Blackwater statistics were not available, government officials said the firm’s rate per convoy mission was about twice DynCorp’s.

The State Department’s incident reports have not been made public, and Blackwater refused to provide its own data on cases in which its personnel used their weapons while guarding American diplomats. The State Department is in the process of providing at least some of the data to Congress. The administration and industry officials who agreed to discuss the broad rate of Blackwater’s involvement in violent events would not disclose the specific numbers.

“The incident rate for Blackwater is higher, there is a distinction,” said a senior American government official who insisted on anonymity in order to discuss a delicate, continuing investigation. “The real question that is open for discussion is why.”

A Blackwater spokeswoman declined to comment.

Blackwater, based in North Carolina, has gained a reputation among Iraqis and even among American military personnel serving in Iraq as a company that flaunts an aggressive, quick-draw image that leads its security personnel to take excessively violent actions to protect the people they are paid to guard. After the latest shooting, the Iraqi government demanded that the company be banned from operating in the country.

“You can find any number of people, particularly in uniform, who will tell you that they do see Blackwater as a company that promotes a much more aggressive response to things than other main contractors do,” a senior American official said.

Today, Blackwater operates in the most violent parts of Iraq and guards the most prominent American diplomats, which some American government officials say explains why it is involved in more shootings than its competitors. The shootings included in the reports include all cases in which weapons are fired, including those meant as warning shots. Others add that Blackwater’s aggressive posture in guarding diplomats reflects the wishes of its client, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Still, other government officials say that Blackwater’s corporate culture seems to encourage excessive behavior. “Is it the operating environment or something specific about Blackwater?” asked one government official. “My best guess is that it is both.”

Blackwater was founded in 1997 by Erik Prince, a former member of the Navy Seals, and is privately owned. Most of its nearly 1,000 people in Iraq are independent contractors, rather than employees of the company, according to a spokeswoman, Anne Tyrrell. Blackwater has a total of about 550 full-time employees, the she said.

Its diplomatic security contract with the State Department is now the company’s largest, Ms. Tyrrell said, while declining to provide the dollar amount. The company also provides security for the State Department in Afghanistan, where it also has counternarcotics-related contracts.

In addition to the Sept. 16 shooting in the Nisour area of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said Blackwater employees had been involved in six other episodes under investigation. Those episodes left a total of 10 Iraqis dead and 15 wounded, they said.

Many American officials now share the view that Blackwater’s behavior is increasingly stoking resentment among Iraqis and is proving counterproductive to American efforts to gain support for its military efforts in Iraq.

“They’re repeat offenders, and yet they continue to prosper in Iraq,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who has been broadly critical of the role of contractors in Iraq. “It’s really affecting attitudes toward the United States when you have these cowboy guys out there. These guys represent the U.S. to them and there are no rules of the game for them.”

Despite the growing criticism of Blackwater and its tactics, the company still enjoys an unusually close relationship with the Bush administration, and with the State Department and Pentagon in particular. It has received government contracts worth more than $1 billion since 2002, with most coming under the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, according to the independent budget monitoring group OMB Watch.

Last year, the State Department gave Blackwater the lead role in diplomatic security in Iraq, reducing the roles of DynCorp and Triple Canopy.

The company employs about 850 workers in Iraq under its diplomatic security contract, about three-quarters of them Americans, according to the State Department and the Congressional Research Service. DynCorp has 157 security guards in Iraq; Triple Canopy has about 250. The figures compiled by the State Department track the number of shootings per convoy mission, rather than measuring against the number of employees.

Just in recent weeks, Blackwater has also been awarded another large State Department contract to provide helicopter services in Iraq.

The company’s close ties to the Bush administration have raised questions about the political clout of Mr. Prince, Blackwater’s founder and owner. He is the scion of a wealthy Michigan family that is active in Republican politics. He and the family have given more than $325,000 in political donations over the past 10 years, the vast majority to Republican candidates and party committees, according to federal campaign finance reports.

Mr. Prince has helped cement his ties to the government by hiring prominent officials. J. Cofer Black, the former counterterrorism chief at the C.I.A. and State Department, is a vice chairman at Blackwater. Mr. Black is also now a senior adviser on counterterrorism and national security issues to the Republican presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

Joseph E. Schmitz, the former inspector general at the Pentagon, now is chief operating officer and general counsel for Blackwater’s parent company, the Prince Group. Officials at other firms in the contracting industry said that Mr. Prince sometimes met with government contracting officers, which they say is an unusual step for the chief executive of a corporation.

No Blackwater employees, or any other contractors, have been charged with crimes related to the shootings in Iraq, although there are a number of American laws governing actions overseas and in wartime that could be applied, according to experts in international law. In addition, a measure enacted last year calls for the Pentagon to bring contractors in Iraq under the jurisdiction of American military law, but the Defense Department has not yet put into effect the rules needed to do so.

Separately, American officials specifically exempted all United States personnel from Iraqi law under an order signed in 2004 by L.Paul Bremer III, then the top official of the American occupation authority. The Sept. 16 shootings have so angered Iraqis, however, that the Iraqi government is proposing a measure that would overturn the American rule and subject Western private security companies to Iraqi law. The proposal requires the approval of the Iraqi Parliament.

In a sign of the Pentagon’s concern over private security contractors, Mr. Gates last Sunday sent a five-person team to Iraq to discuss with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, the rules governing contractors. “He has some real concerns about oversight of contractors in Iraq and he is looking for ways to sort of make sure we do a better job on that front,” Geoff Morrell, Mr. Gates’s spokesman, told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England sent a three-page memorandum to senior Defense Department officials and top commanders around the world ordering them to ensure that contractors in the field were operating under rules of engagement consistent with the military’s.


3) U.S. Needs ‘Long-Term Presence’ in Iraq, Gates Says
September 27, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told Congress on Wednesday that he envisioned keeping five combat brigades in Iraq as a “long-term presence.”

Mr. Gates told the Senate Appropriations Committee, “When I speak of a long-term presence, I’m thinking of a very modest U.S. presence with no permanent bases, where we can continue to go after Al Qaeda in Iraq and help the Iraqi forces.”

He added that “in my head” he envisioned a force as a quarter of the current combat brigades.

There are now 20 combat brigades in the country, a number that is scheduled to drop to 15 by next summer. Mr. Gates has previously expressed hope that if security conditions in the country continue to improve, force levels in Iraq could drop to 10 brigades by the end of 2008.

Mr. Gates gave no timetable for reaching that force level or for how long the forces would be required to stay. He added that there had been no detailed planning by the Pentagon about what level of forces would be required on a more or less permanent basis.

A combat brigade has 3,500 to 4,500 soldiers, leaving a minimum of 17,500 combat troops in Iraq under the plan Mr. Gates described. The total American force required would probably end up being at least twice that, because of the need for support troops and other related personnel.

Mr. Gates also laid out at the hearing a Bush administration request for an added $42 billion for war-related expenses in 2008. The request increases to nearly $190 billion the amount the Bush administration is seeking for 2008 to finance military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In February, the administration asked for $141.7 billion for the wars, an amount that officials said at the time was an estimate that could increase.

The Appropriations Committee chairman, Senator Robert C. Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia, responded with blistering criticism of the administration’s Iraq strategy and warned that his panel would not “rubber stamp” Mr. Bush’s requests for war financing.

“The president and his supporters claim that we’re now finally on the cusp of progress and that we must continue to stay the course,” Mr. Byrd said. “I’ve heard that before. Call me a skeptic, but we have heard this tune before. Yes, haven’t we?”

Antiwar protesters in the hearing room responded with cries of “Yes! Yes!”

Mr. Byrd later had the room cleared of protesters after they disrupted an answer by Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mr. Gates said $11 billion of the requested money was for building 15,000 heavily armored vehicles designed to better withstand the roadside bombs that cause the majority of American casualties in Iraq.

The Pentagon also seeks $9 billion to repair and refit American equipment stocks. The administration is also requesting $1 billion to train Iraqi security forces, bringing the total 2008 request for training funds to $5.7 billion.

But Mr. Gates said that American troops, “under some of the most trying conditions, have done far more than what was asked of them, and far more than what was expected.”


4) Navy to Mask Swastika Look of Barracks in California
September 27, 2007
[Aerial Photo at this]

The Navy plans to spend $600,000 for “camouflage” landscaping and rooftop adjustments so that 1960s-era barracks at the Naval Base Coronado near San Diego will no longer look like a Nazi swastika from the air.

The resemblance went unnoticed by the public for decades until it was spotted in aerial views on Google Earth.

But Navy officials said they became aware of it shortly after the 1967 groundbreaking, and had decided not to do anything.

“There was no reason to redo the buildings because they were in use,” a spokeswoman for the base, Angelic Dolan, said. She added that the buildings were in a no-fly zone that is off limits to commercial airlines, so most people would not see them from the air.

“You have to realize back in the ’60s we did not have the Internet,” Ms. Dolan said. “We don’t want to offend anyone, and we don’t want to be associated with the symbol.”

The Navy’s plans were reported Monday in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The Anti-Defamation League in San Diego has objected to the shape of the buildings.

“We told the Navy this was an incredibly inappropriate shape for a structure on a military installation,” said Morris S. Casuto, regional director of the organization. He added, however, that his group “never ascribed evil intent to the structures’ design.”

Mr. Casuto praised the Navy for recognizing the problem and “doing the right thing.”

The $600,000 for the changes is included in the Navy’s approved 2008 budget.


5) Judge Rules Provisions in Patriot Act to Be Illegal
September 27, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — A federal judge in Oregon ruled Wednesday that crucial parts of the USA Patriot Act were not constitutional because they allowed federal surveillance and searches of Americans without demonstrating probable cause.

The ruling by Judge Anne L. Aiken of Federal District Court in Portland was in the case of Brandon Mayfield, a lawyer in Portland who was arrested and jailed after the Federal Bureau of Investigation mistakenly linked him to the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.

“For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success,” Judge Aiken’s opinion said in finding violations of the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure. “A shift to a nation based on extraconstitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill advised.”

The ruling is a new chapter in a legal battle that began after the Spanish police found a plastic bag with detonator caps in a van near the bombings, which killed 191 people and left 2,000 injured in the deadliest terrorist attack in Europe since World War II.

Initially, the F.B.I. found no match for the fingerprints. But after reviewing a digitally enhanced set of the prints, the agency identified 20 possible matches, including Mr. Mayfield.

Though Spanish officials had doubts about the match, federal agents began surveillance on him and his family, using expanded powers under the Patriot Act. Mr. Mayfield was jailed for two weeks before a federal judge threw out the case.

Mr. Mayfield, 38, who was born in Oregon and brought up in a small town in Kansas, converted to Islam in 1989. He was a lawyer in a child custody case for Jeffrey Leon Battle, who had been convicted of conspiring to aid the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Mr. Mayfield said his religion and legal work had led investigators to be overzealous in connecting him to the Madrid plot.

Mr. Mayfield sued the government, which apologized and agreed to a $2 million settlement last November. The settlement included an unusual condition that freed the government from future liability with one exception. Mr. Mayfield was allowed to continue a suit seeking to overturn parts of the Patriot Act.

It was that suit on which Judge Aiken ruled Wednesday. Her opinion said the court recognized that “a difficult balance must be struck in a manner that preserves the peace and security of our nation while at the same time preserving the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Americans.”

In examining the history of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, the opinion discussed a change by Congress in October 2001, under the Patriot Act, that allows surveillance and searches if the government declares that “a significant purpose” of that activity is gathering foreign intelligence. In the past, such searches and surveillance had been allowed if “the purpose” was to obtain foreign intelligence.

Congress’s intent, the opinion said, was “to break down barriers between criminal law enforcement and intelligence gathering.” Judge Aiken said a practical effect of “a seemingly minor change in wording” was to allow the government to avoid the constitutional probable cause requirement.

“In place of the Fourth Amendment,” the judge wrote, “the people are expected to defer to the Executive Branch and its representation that it will authorize such surveillance only when appropriate.”

She said the government was “asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning.”

A spokesman for the Justice Department, Peter Carr, said it was reviewing the decision and declined to comment further.

A lawyer for Mr. Mayfield, Elden Rosenthal, issued a statement on his behalf saying that Judge Aiken “has upheld both the tradition of judicial independence and our nation’s most cherished principle of the right to be secure in one’s own home.”


6) College Dwellers Outnumber the Imprisoned
September 27, 2007

The number of inmates in adult correctional facilities in the United States has topped two million for the first time, the Census Bureau said yesterday. But in a reversal from 2000, more Americans over all now live in college dormitories than in prisons.

In a detailed look at people living in what the bureau calls group quarters, the census counted 2.3 million Americans in college and university dormitories, 2.1 million in adult correctional institutions and 1.8 million in nursing homes.

The number of state and federal prisoners in 2006 was more than double the prison population in 1990 and up slightly from nearly 2 million in 2000. Women accounted for 10 percent of the inmates in 2006, compared with 8 percent in 1990.

In 2000, the last year that the census measured people in group quarters, inmates in adult and juvenile correctional institutions slightly outnumbered dormitory dwellers at colleges and universities.

According to government figures, more than twice as many young black men are now attending college than are imprisoned.

A number of studies, including one by the Justice Policy Institute, which advocates alternatives to incarceration, have pointed out that over all, more black men are in prison than are enrolled in colleges and universities.

But among 18- to 24-year-olds, while black male prisoners outnumber black men living in college dorms, more young black men are enrolled in college (and live either on campus or elsewhere) than are incarcerated.

In 2003, according to Justice Department figures, 193,000 black college-age men were in prison. While 132,000 black college-age men were living on campus, an additional 400,000 or so were attending college but living someplace else.

Among all 18- to 24-year-old men and women, according to an analysis by Andrew A. Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College of the City University of New York, 93 percent more whites, 40 percent more Hispanics and 29 percent more blacks were living in dormitories than in prisons.

The Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey found other wide disparities on the basis of race and ethnicity.

Among people living in group quarters, whites were almost twice as likely to be living in a dormitory than a prison, while Asians were nine times more likely to be in a college dorm than in prison.

But blacks and Hispanics were about three times as likely to be imprisoned than to be living in a dormitory.

Put another way, about 46 percent of the prison population constituted whites who are not Hispanic, 41 percent were black, comprising Hispanic and non-Hispanic, and 19 percent identified themselves as Hispanic. Since 2000, the proportion of the prison population made up of whites and blacks had declined slightly; the share of Hispanics increased.

Among immigrants living in group quarters, Europeans were more likely to be in nursing homes, Asians in dormitories and Latin Americans in correctional facilities.

In contrast to the prison population, residents of nursing homes were disproportionately women (nearly 70 percent, down slightly from 2000) and white (84 percent).

Blacks accounted for 13 percent, about their share of the total population. Almost three-quarters were 75 and older; their median age was 83.2.

The New York Times
Prison vs. Dorm
The number of inmates in adult prisons was nearly as large as that of students living in housing in 2006, according to Census Bureau findings.
Adult Correctional Institutions: Total: 2,050,206; Men: 1,853,386; Women: 191,820
College/University Housing: Total: 2,269,056; Men: 1,059,649; Women: 1,209,407
More stats found at:


7) With U.A.W. Accord, G.M. Looks to a New Detroit
"...U.A.W. members, assured of health care benefits that were the envy of the labor movement, had little incentive to take better care of their health, since their generous coverage would pay for most any ailment."
September 27, 2007

For a generation, executives at the Detroit auto companies have complained that the huge cost of providing generous benefits for its unionized workers put them at a competitive disadvantage with surging foreign car companies like Toyota and Honda.

Now, with a new contract agreement with the United Automobile Workers reached before dawn yesterday, General Motors has taken a momentous step toward eliminating much of that burden, a step likely to be followed by Ford Motor and Chrysler.

The contract’s main feature — a health care trust called a voluntary employee benefit association, or VEBA — means that G.M. will no longer have to carry the debt it will owe for employee and retiree health care benefits on its books. Earlier this year, G.M.’s chief executive, Rick Wagoner, referred to those obligations as “very large and frankly formidable.”

That debt is estimated at $55 billion for the next 80 years. So G.M. will establish the trust with about 70 percent of that amount, making an upfront payment of cash, stock and other assets. The difference is expected to come from gains on investments by the trust.

In return, the union won guarantees that medical benefits for hourly workers and retirees and their families will remain in place for the next two years. G.M. will also invest money in its American plants, and will maintain its current union work force of 73,000, according to Ron Gettelfinger, the U.A.W. president.

“It’s a big step forward in dealing with this problem that’s been quite intractable,” said John Paul MacDuffie, a management professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Investors cheered the deal, bidding up G.M. shares more than 9 percent yesterday.

“This is a landmark contract,” said John A. Casesa, an auto industry analyst with the Casesa Shapiro Group.

But Detroit also faces a new challenge. The American automakers will no longer have the excuse that their health care burden is a barrier to successfully battling Japanese auto companies in the United States.

Instead, analysts say, they will have to deliver on their promises that they can create a New Detroit, with lower costs, leaner and more efficient factories and, most important, can build vehicles that more consumers want to buy.

“This agreement helps us close the fundamental competitive gaps that exist in our business,” Mr. Wagoner said in a statement.

For the union, which struck G.M. for two days after negotiations bogged down, there are victories in the new contract that go beyond the details of its terms.

Reducing G.M.’s health care burden increases the chances that the company can pull off its turnaround effort, which could lead to more job security for members, Mr. Casesa noted.

That burden, combined with G.M.’s pension expenses and wages, means its hourly rate for union workers is about $80. Toyota’s labor costs in the United States are less than $50 an hour.

It is also a wise public relations move for the union, Mr. Casesa said. “It sends the message that the union is playing ball and you can’t blame us anymore if G.M. can’t compete,” he added.

Even so, there is already opposition within the union. In an interview yesterday morning on WJR-AM radio in Detroit, Mr. Gettelfinger acknowledged the debate in the union over shifting health care obligations from G.M. to the trust, which would be independently administered.

“There will be those who will mount opposition to that,” Mr. Gettelfinger said. “I’ll be glad to stand up in front of anybody and defend that VEBA and show that they’re going to be secure with their retirement benefits. I’m not afraid of that battle at all.”

U.A.W. leaders at G.M. plants are set to get full details of the contract at a meeting in Detroit tomorrow. Once they approve it, local unions will hold informational sessions about the new contract, then conduct ratification votes. The process generally takes about two weeks, but may take longer. Mr. Gettelfinger said he wanted to make sure workers were fully informed about the complex agreement.

The health care burdens will not be lifted right away. The VEBA plan requires approval from courts as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission, a process expected to take about two years.

Despite the expense of setting up the VEBA, expected to cost more than $30 billion, G.M. can save in other ways. The change may improve G.M.’s debt rating, which is deep in junk status. Indeed, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said it was considering a possible upgrade for G.M.’s debt.

An higher grade would lower the overall cost of borrowing money, making it less expensive to develop new cars and trucks.

Investors are also wary of unknown and growing liabilities, like long-term health care costs. G.M.’s burden is one reason its stock price, more than $90 a share in 2000, has languished.

Yesterday, however, G.M.’s stock jumped $3.22, to $37.64, on word of the deal, which was reached at 3:05 a.m. Eastern time.

Ford said it was pleased that G.M. had a deal with the U.A.W., whose local leaders will learn details of the contract at a meeting tomorrow. After that, workers will begin to vote on the contract.

With a G.M. vote concluded, the union would pick either Ford or Chrysler as the next company for negotiations. If the union holds to its tradition of a pattern contract, both are likely to agree to similar health care deals.

That would mean different things to each company.

At Ford, the need to fund a health care trust to address its roughly $25 billion liability would increase the pressure on the company to sell its Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo brands quickly. An investment on a par with G.M.’s would cost Ford about $17.5 billion.

Even though Ford raised $23 billion last year, by mortgaging everything from its plants to its blue oval logo, it needs that money for product development and to pay for its reorganization plan. That would mean finding another source for the billions it would need to invest in a VEBA.

Ford is hoping to complete a list of bidders for Jaguar and Land Rover by Sunday, and to announce a winner next month. It still is assessing whether to sell Volvo, but people involved in the sale say it, too, could be sold by year’s end.

At Chrysler, now owned by the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, the health care trust would take over Chrysler’s $18 billion cost burden, meaning an investment of about $12.6 billion likely to be required.

Chrysler’s previous owner, DaimlerChrysler, took responsibility for its pension burden when the company was sold. Absent either of those burdens, Chrysler could again become one of the industry’s more nimble companies.

Beyond the bookkeeping effect of VEBAs, the health care funds could create a kind of incentive for Detroit companies and the union to modify their behavior.

Paying the high borrowing costs caused by their low debt ratings meant the Detroit companies had to keep wringing profits from big vehicles like sport utilities and pickups, rather than shifting to the smaller models with better fuel economy that consumers were demanding.

Likewise, U.A.W. members, assured of health care benefits that were the envy of the labor movement, had little incentive to take better care of their health, since their generous coverage would pay for most any ailment.

By contrast, Toyota, which pays premiums only for workers, not their families, has fitness centers at its factories and requires newly hired workers to exercise two hours a day during their training period.

Now that outsiders will administer health care when the VEBA trusts come into being, the companies may move more swiftly to transform their lineups, and, in the case of G.M. and Ford, make greater use of smaller more efficient vehicles developed overseas. Outsiders will play another pivotal role as the industry moves forward, too. Ford’s chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, who came from the Boeing Company, and the former Home Depot chief executive Robert L. Nardelli, now at Chrysler, have spent just over 13 months between them in the American industry.

The old excuse, ‘that’s how we do it here,” holds little water with either executive, both charged with reshaping their companies for Detroit’s future, not preserving its status quo.

Mr. Mulally “sees a company that was distracted” from its core business, “and his job is to get them refocused,” said Mr. MacDuffie, the Wharton professor.

“Six months ago, a VEBA would have been a very hard sell” to union members, Mr. Casesa said. “But Detroit’s problems actually have given Detroit a lot of leverage. It took a crisis to create change.”

Nick Bunkley contributed reporting.


8) The Sept. 15 March on Washington:
A New Movement is Emerging
By Brian Becker
"A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition"

The Sept. 15 March on Washington was unique.

The energy, the youth, the multitude of new people who were joining a protest for the first time; the large number of Iraq war veterans as well as active duty service members; the determination of Gold Star family members to unite together in the streets against the war that stole the lives of their children and the inspired willingness of thousands to die-in and risk arrest—these were the features that made Sept. 15 somewhat more akin to the militant marches and actions that became a characteristic feature of the movement that helped end the Vietnam War.

The people who attended knew this to be true. This was not the same crowd strolling down the street. What the people saw and felt and experienced and knew to be true could not be easily erased by the typically bad, cynical and misleading corporate media coverage.

Tens of thousands of people, led by Iraq war veterans, Gold Star families whose loved ones were killed and other veterans, marched shoulder to shoulder across eight lanes of Pennsylvania Avenue. The police suddenly locked together barricades which were taken down just as quickly as the Iraq veterans led the march straight up the broad sidewalk leading to the Congress where they were again violently blocked by platoons of riot clad police.

People marched forward towards the steps of the Capitol determined to carry their anti-war message as the heavily armed police attacked and blocked peaceful protestors. Thousands joined a Die-In and symbolic funeral for the US Servicemembers and the legions of Iraqis who have perished in this criminal endeavor. Police reinforcements with shields and helmets marched down the steps of the U.S. Capitol building with guns and sticks in hand.

Iraq war veterans and the family members of soldiers and marines, joined by thousands upon thousands of high school and college students, stood face to face with a line of armed force that prevented their forward march to redress grievances for an illegal war and occupation.

Police forced Iraq War veterans and elderly veterans of other wars face into the ground and tied their hands behind their backs. Men and women in fatigues, students, mothers of soldiers and members of the American Muslim community were taken away in handcuffs and marched or dragged up the long Capitol steps.

More than 190 were arrested in all and when they were brought to jail together it was obvious that their spirit and solidarity was a testament to their determination to resist the war machine. Throughout the demonstration, and among those who were detained too, a collective spirit was crystallizing. Almost everyone could sense that something was new.

People were held on busses, many in tight cutting handcuffs, until the early morning hours. When finally processed at the police vehicle garage where everyone was held, people were directed to a door leading to an alley uncertain where they were, what they were to do or what would happen next as the door closed behind them. But as each person stepped outside a few yards and was seen a great cheer went up and across the street they saw people on the grassy embankment waiting for them. ANSWER organized hundreds of supporters and a legal team that stayed outside the jail all night long and greeted each newly released person with coffee, food, rides to the bus station or home if they lived in the DC area.

Before the action the government undertook significant efforts to try to suppress and repress the organizing efforts. The ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) was slapped with $38,000 in fines for putting up 194 posters that were legally wheat pasted announcing the Sept. 15 action. ANSWER was told they had to be taken down immediately, and refused. Instead, we filed a suit with the Partnership for Civil Justice challenging the constitutionality of the government’s actions.

When ANSWER held a press conference in front of the White House to protest the fines, the police from the National Park Service arrested the speakers and organizers—and horse-mounted police charged into the assembled media.

Ironically, this police attack in front of the White House came hours after Laura Bush gathered the media together inside the White House to condemn the police crackdown of “pro-democracy activists” in Myanmar.

If anything, the government’s attempts to suppress these efforts not only failed but also drew additional thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands, of angry people to the streets.

A true united front

When the large crowd, with so many high school and college students in attendance, poured into the streets around 1:00pm on Sept. 15 the excitement and buzz was palpable. People knew they were part of something very special, something different from the earlier anti-war marches. It wasn’t just the large crowd, which was marching 120 abreast, and filling up all eight lanes of Pennsylvania Ave. for many blocks. The march was impressive and new at other levels as well. ANSWER initiated the action and provided hundreds of organizers and volunteers. These people were the organizational and administrative anchor of the protest. But this was not an action of one group or entity.

Sept. 15 was a genuine and broad coalition of diverse organizations. Iraq Veterans Against the War, D.C. Chapter; Grassroots America, Veterans for Peace, Camp Casey Peace Institute, Hip Hop Caucus, CodePink, National Council of Arab Americans and the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation worked together in joint planning.

The groups achieved an admirable level of cooperation and comradely working relations based on mutual respect and shared responsibility. Many other organizations also contributed. Ramsey Clark and thousands in the ImpeachBush movement mobilized as well.

As a response to the fascist mobilization of the so-called Gathering of Eagles, numerous local and national organizations joined together to offer a united security team.

Sept. 15 may be a harbinger of an even greater unity in the anti-war movement among Iraq war veterans and military families, the Arab American and Muslim communities, students and youth, the immigrant rights movement and other oppressed working-class communities—both those who are already unionized and the millions who need to be.

In our ongoing evaluation of the action, we will have to assess not only its strengths but any of its defects, weaknesses and mistakes. It is not possible to have such an energized action with many tens of thousands of people without there being a fair share of mistakes to learn from. None of the defects, however, can take away from the broader significance of the action.

At the barricades

ANSWER leaders were among the first people arrested when riot police tried to barricade the path to the Capitol building. Some also were among the first of the 197 people released from custody.

The rest of the night those released earlier and other solidarity activists had the great privilege of welcoming people as they got out of jail and shuttling individuals to the bus and train stations between 1:00am and 8:00 am the next morning.

We got a chance to meet and learn the stories of these brave souls. Many were Iraq war veterans and young students for whom this was their very first demonstration and their first arrest. They were inspired, pumped up and eager to keep mobilizing. They were proud of what they had done.

Many people told us in person, and in emails and phone calls, that Sept. 15 was an event of great importance in their life and outlook.

There is no scientific method to assess how many people fit into this broad category, but by the anecdotal feedback we believe this was a large group.

People come into the streets, risk arrest, join a movement and become activists because they have certain hopefulness that their actions can make a difference.

We have been through a period of pessimism and political apathy—hallmarks of generalized mood where the mass of people do not have the confidence that change is possible. But on September 15 it felt that this may be changing.

Building a New People’s Movement for Change

On Sept. 20, just five days after Sept. 15, tens of thousands people traveled to Jena, La. to stand with the Jena 6 and the African American community.

These two events coming within one week’s time are the first signs that we are waking to a new morning of action, resistance and militant struggle. New movements are not born in the minds of social critics and Ivory Tower observers. They are forged in the streets. Real people, volunteering their time and ignoring the armies of naysayers, are the ones who ignite new historical processes. This movement is coming together because it is needed. Its time has come.

By acting together against war and racism, and linking this movement to all the needs of society that are being sacrificed and destroyed by the power of corporate domination, we can fill the void and vacuum left by the earlier collapse of the progressive movement.

Sept. 15 in Washington, D.C. was a meaningful day and for some a life-altering day. It will be remembered as significant in a broad historical sense if it emerges as a step toward an even greater development. That is the goal and task of all those who are committed to waging a broad struggle for the radical transformation of this country.

That, and nothing less, is the order of the day.

Brian Becker is the National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition.

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9) The ‘Crazies’ and Iran
September 27, 2007

Like Mohamed ElBaradei, we want to make sure what he calls the “crazies” don’t start a war with Iran. We fear his do-it-yourself diplomacy is playing right into the crazies’ hands — in Washington and Tehran.

Last month, Mr. ElBaradei, the chief nuclear inspector for the United Nations, cut his own deal with Iran’s government, intended to answer questions about its secretive nuclear past. Unfortunately, it made no mention of Iran’s ongoing, very public refusal to stop enriching uranium — usable for nuclear fuel or potentially a nuclear weapon — in defiance of Security Council orders.

In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly this week, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wasn’t shy about explaining what a great deal he’d gotten: gloating that the dispute over his country’s nuclear program is now “closed.” That’s not true, but the deal has given Russia and China another reason to delay imposing new sanctions on Iran for its continued defiance.

We’d like to hear the answers to a lot of those outstanding questions. Among our favorites: Has Iran built more sophisticated uranium centrifuges for a clandestine program? And, what were Iran’s scientists planning to do with designs, acquired from Pakistan, to mold uranium into shapes that look remarkably like the core of a nuclear weapon?

According to the so-called work plan agreed to by Mr. ElBaradei, Iran will address one set of questions at a time, and move on to the next set only after his inspectors have closed the file on the previous set. If, true to form, the Iranians dole out just enough information to keep the inspectors asking, the process could drag on and on.

That would give Iran more time, cover and confidence to continue mastering enrichment and producing nuclear fuel. The further along the Iranians get, the greater our fear that President Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney, will decide that one more war isn’t going to do their reputation much harm.

Some critics charge that the Nobel Prize has gone to Mr. ElBaradei’s head and that he’s decided that international peacemaker (and holding off George Bush) is his true life calling — not nuclear inspector. The more charitable explanation is that he believes he’s the only one who can stop what he fears is an imminent war.

We fervently wish that Mr. Bush and the American Congress had listened to Mr. ElBaradei in 2003 when he said there was no evidence that Iraq was rebuilding its nuclear weapons program. But the key to Mr. ElBaradei’s credibility then, and what makes the International Atomic Energy Agency so indispensable, is he was offering his agency’s clear scientific judgment.

Once he started making diplomatic deals, that judgment — essential not only for ensuring that Iran, but also a half-dozen other states, don’t go nuclear — immediately becomes suspect.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice complained last week that the I.A.E.A. shouldn’t be in the business of diplomacy. Yes, that’s her job. And she’s not done nearly enough to try to get the Iranians to sit down at the table with a credible offer of comprehensive talks. Sanctions alone are unlikely to restrain Iran’s nuclear program, especially at the rate the Security Council is moving.

We can see why Mr. ElBaradei was tempted. The only way he can recoup now is by insisting that Iran do what the Security Council has ordered: Suspend enrichment and answer all the questions about its nuclear past.


10) Senate Endorses Plan to Divide Iraq
Action Shows Rare Bipartisan Consensus
By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 26, 2007; 3:38 PM

Showing rare bipartisan consensus over war policy, the Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a political settlement for Iraq that would divide the country into three semi-autonomous regions.

The plan, conceived by Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), was approved 75-23 as a non-binding resolution, with 26 Republican votes. It would not force President Bush to take any action, but it represents a significant milestone in the Iraq debate, carving out common ground in a debate that has grown increasingly polarized and focused on military strategy.

The Biden plan envisions a federal government system for Iraq, consisting of separate regions for Iraq's Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish populations. The structure is spelled out in Iraq's constitution, but Biden would initiate local and regional diplomatic efforts to hasten its evolution.

"This has genuine bipartisan support,and I think that's a very hopeful sign," Biden said.

One key Republican supporter was Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), who under strong White House pressure last week abruptly withdrew his support for a proposal to extend home leaves for U.S. troops. Numerous Republicans considered supporting the extension, but they backed off when Warner reversed his stance. The veteran GOP lawmaker called the vote on the Biden plan "the high-water mark" for bipartisan efforts on Iraq this year.

Warner said the vote represented a de facto acknowledgement of the now widely held view that Iraq's long-term problems cannot be solved militarily. "This amendment builds on that foundation," said Warner. "This amendment brings into sharp focus the need for diplomacy."

The resolution collected an unusually diverse group of co-sponsors who disagree sharply on other aspects of the war, in particular how long U.S. combat troops should remain. The list ranges from conservative Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), a GOP presidential contender, to liberal Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.).

"We can't walk away from Iraq," said Hutchison. "That would make all the sacrifices that have been made irrelevant. But we do have a potential solution that can save American lives in the future."

Boxer said: "I see here a light at the end of a very, very dark tunnel. A darkness that is impacting our nation. It's impacting the Senate. In a way, we are paralyzed."

The vote also was a political boon for Biden, one of the Democrats' most respected foreign policy voices, yet a long-shot for his party's 2008 presidential nomination. The floor debate, which started last week, provided the struggling candidate with a moment in the spotlight -- and Biden made the most of it. He spent hours on the Senate floor, held two news conferences, and placed an op-ed Monday in the State, a newspaper in Columbia, S.C., an early 2008 primary state.

Two of Biden's competitors, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), voted with him. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) missed the vote, as did Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a GOP presidential candidate and a leading war supporter.

Biden has made his Iraq plan the centerpiece of his 2008 candidacy, and he will likely herald his Senate success in a Democratic debate tonight in New Hampshire.


11) U.S. students study for free at medical school in Cuba
By: Bryan Gibel
Posted: 9/28/07
by Bryan Gibel
Daily Lobo

The average graduate from UNM's medical school in 2005 was more than $90,000 in debt, according to a study by U.S. News and World Report.

More than 100 U.S. medical students, including one UNM alumna, found an opportunity to study for free in an unlikely setting - Cuba.

The Latin American School of Medicine is an internationally certified medical school.

The program is offered by the Cuban government and the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, a Harlem, N.Y., nonprofit.

It allows students to study medicine with a full scholarship from the Cuban government.

Students who attend the school must commit to work for two years in a public health clinic in underserved communities in the United States, said Ellen Bernstein, associate director of the foundation.

"It's going to provide health and healing to communities that haven't had it before," she said. "They will come back fully trained, thanks to Cuba's help, and they'll be offering services that are badly needed."

Studying medicine in Cuba

Although it is in Cuba, the Latin American School of Medicine is not tainted by ideology or government affairs, said Tatyana Guerrero-Pezzano, a student in the program.

"This isn't a political program at all. It's just to train doctors," she said. "If you want an excellent medical education for free, this is the place to look."

Guerrero-Pezzano, who grew up in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, began her fifth year of medical school in Cuba this fall.

The first class of eight U.S. doctors graduated from the program July 24 at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana.

They will help fill a vital need for public health care in underserved communities in the United States when they begin practicing medicine, Bernstein said.

"The Cubans cover the cost of tuition, room, board, books, toiletries, and they even give a small stipend which is pocket money to take the bus and stuff," Bernstein said. "(Medical students) have the freedom to practice where communities don't have the resources to pay them a high salary, but where medical attention is sorely needed."

The program is accredited nationally and internationally, but it needs accreditation from individual states before students can practice medicine in them, said Arnold Trujillo, a recruiter with the program.

He said the program is on track to be accredited by the New Mexico Board of Medical Examiners within a year, which is before the New Mexican students are set to graduate.

How the program started

The Latin American School of Medicine opened its doors in 1998 to help Latin America countries devastated by hurricanes, said Lucius Walker, executive director of the religious


Cuba trains doctors for free from around the world because it sees universal health care as a human right, Walker said.

"The idea Fidel (Castro) had was to open a medical school to teach and train doctors who would go back to the regions devastated by hurricanes to work amongst the most affected," he said.

Walker said the medical school has 3,500 students from more than 20 countries in the Americas, the Caribbean and Africa.

The scholarship program for U.S. students began in 2000, when members of the Congressional Black Caucus visited Cuba to learn about its health care system, Walker said.

The first class of U.S. students began the six-year medical program in April 2001.

Although the U.S. Treasury Department prohibits most United States citizens from traveling to or trading with Cuba, Walker said the program is protected by a special federal license.

"Despite the Bush regime's hostility towards Cuba, the students who graduate from the program are considered the same as graduates from any other fully approved international program," Bernstein said.

A New Mexican in Havana

Growing up in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, Guerrero-Pezzano knew she wanted to be a doctor.

She said she started at UNM but became disillusioned with the corporate influence in American health care.

"It started as one of those childhood dreams," she said. "By the time I was at the age to apply for medical school, I had sort of lost my attraction with the business-oriented direction that health care was going in America."

The full scholarship from Cuba opened the door to medical school for her, Guerrero-Pezzano said.

Cuban medicine has an excellent reputation for family and preventative care, which are her areas of interest, she said.

But she said there are challenges that come with training in Cuba, such as learning in Spanish, living with basic accommodations and having less access to innovative medicines and technology available in the U.S.

She said the program has benefits that outweigh the disadvantages.

"They will practice with a certain sensitivity and skill, and they'll know the community where they're working," she said. "Plus, they'll be totally bilingual, which is worth its weight in gold in almost any U.S. hospital."

Guerrero-Pezzano said it is inspiring to work in a country with free, universal health care. She said Cuban doctors focus on patients' needs rather than the cost of quality treatment.

The doctors at the medical school emphasize working with patients rather than lab results and high-tech equipment, she said.

"The training is just awesome," she said. "Sometimes they'll tell us to pretend we're in the mountains with nothing else than our stethoscope."

Revitalizing public health in New Mexico?

New Mexico's health care is one of the worst in the United States, according a ranking by Morgan Quitno Press.

The state was 49th in the research company's 2007 Healthiest State Rankings.

The ranking compares health care according to 21 factors, including access to providers and affordability of care.

Cuba has less money and resources than the U.S., but it provides quality health care for all its citizens, Guerrero-Pezzano said.

She said Cuba's focus on preventative health care and education could benefit underserved communities in New Mexico and the United States.

"If we were to focus on health promotion and prevention instead of treating something once it's already developed into a full-blown disease, I think this country and this state would have a lot less of a bill to pay in terms of public sector health care," she said. © Copyright 2007 Daily Lobo

Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
writer - photographer - activist


12) Board Calls on City to Halt Hunters Point Development
School Board Notes
By Nicole Achs Freeling
September 26, 2007 Correspondent

Board Calls on City to Halt Hunters Point Development

The board called on the city Tuesday night to halt construction on a controversial Hunters Point residential development. Residents in the neighborhood say they have experienced nosebleeds, headaches and asthma attacks, which they blame on construction-related dust and toxins. Several schools are in the vicinity of the building project, including Malcolm X, Bret Harte and George Washington Carver elementary schools, and Drew Academy, a K–3 school.

Impassioned residents of the Bayview Hunters Point community packed the house Tuesday night, many speaking before the board to criticize the actions of the city and the developer, Lennar Corporation, in providing inadequate air quality monitoring on the site. Lennar, a Florida-based company, is building a 1,500-unit condominium complex on the former site of the Hunters Point Shipyard. The board resolution, authored by board members Eric Mar and Kim-Shree Maufus, alleged several problems with the way Lennar and regulatory agencies have monitored air quality and toxin exposure. The allegations included:

Construction crews' failure to turn on air monitors during the first four months of the project during heavy grading

-Retaliation against workers who blew the whistle on monitoring activities
-Excessive amounts of asbestos routinely allowed in the air
-Poor communication with neighbors about these incidents

San Francisco Health Director Mitchell Katz disputed the claims that the construction had posed undue health risks. The parcel being developed, he said, had been used for residential purposes in the past and did not contain the toxins found on other parts of the shipyard. He said the problems caused by the construction were limited to those associated with dust from any major construction project.

"Dust of any sort is certainly a health risk if you are asthmatic, but dust in and of itself does not cause asthma," he said. The dust also contains some naturally occurring asbestos, which, he said, is part of the serpentine rock prevalent in California. "As you move earth, you will disturb some of that rock," he said. He said the level of resulting asbestos in the air is lower that it is at some of the district's schools.

Some board members expressed concern about getting involved in an action that is essentially a non-binding. "What we're asking to have happen in this resolution is not going to happen. That's very clear to me," said Commissioner Hydra Mendoza, who also works in the mayor's office as the school district liaison. She also expressed concern about straining in any way the board's relationship with the city, "a relationship we've worked so hard to build."

But board members agreed that the district had a legitimate right to ask for health reports when its students and facilities are affected.

The resolution does not compel any action but calls upon the city to halt construction, order health assessments and communicate these reports to the district and the public. Language added by Commissioner Norman Yee also asks the city to consult with the district on any major construction projects in close proximity to schools that might pose adverse health effects.

"It's clear things the city does in proximity to schools ... (are) going to have some effect. If they agree to consult with us, that's perhaps the most meaningful action we can take with this issue," Commissioner Jill Wynns said in supporting Yee's amendment, which passed unanimously.

Maufus praised board members for reaching agreement on an issue they had started out far apart on just a few weeks ago. "By passing this resolution, we're showing we're in the action on this for real. It's not symbolic."

San Francisco Board of Education Resolution

In Opposition to Lennar Corporation's Hunters Point Naval Shipyard Development and In Support of the Community's Demand for a Temporary Stoppage and an Independent Health and Safety Assessment to Protect Our Students and Their Families

WHEREAS: Patterns of environmental racism, inequity and injustice exist within San Francisco, where schools in communities like Bayview Hunters Point bear the brunt of environmental health problems; and

WHEREAS: Since October 2006, when a young worker blew the whistle on Lennar Corporation's Hunters Point Naval Shipyard development, large numbers of students, teachers, educators, workers, and families of the Bayview Hunters Point area have been voicing their concerns about the construction-related dust at the Hunters Point Shipyard site and the dangerous health impact that the dust and toxics in it, including asbestos, heavy metals and other inorganics, are having on our SFUSD students, staff and members of the community; and

WHEREAS: Lennar Corporation is a Florida-based Fortune 500 company which reportedly had revenues of $16.3 billion in 2006 from development projects throughout the country like the 1500-unit condominium development planned for Hunters Point; and

WHEREAS: Lennar Bayview Hunters Point LLC was involved in large scale grading that reportedly caused untold amounts of toxic dust and Asbestos Structures to migrate over its boundary and into areas were children and families live, work and play; and

WHEREAS: In response to these health dangers and conners, a broad grassroots coalition of Bayview Hunters Point and social justice community organizations has been demanding a temporary stoppage in Lennar Corporation's construction so that an independent health assessment can be conducted; and

WHEREAS: There has been a history of problems with implementing the City's dust-mitigation plan since the soil grading and disposal process began that has included: an absence of air monitoring for the first four months of the project during heavy grading;
malfunctioning air monitors; a Notice of Violation from the Air Quality Management District; and when the monitors started working, routine exceedances of the agreed-upon allowance of asbestos prevalence in the air – 16,000 structures per cubic meter [SF Department of Health Regulations, Article 31] including 9 exceedances in June alone; and very poor communication of these exceedances to adjacent neighbors; and

WHEREAS: Numerous studies have documented that Bayview Hunter's Point and other communities in Southeast San Francisco are overburdened with the cumulative impacts of a multitude of environmental health threats that impact the health and well-being of children and other residents who are overwhelmingly African American and other people of color. These impacts include exposure to toxic air pollution, carcinogens, and other inorganic substances from industrial facilities, power plants, sewage treatment and solid and hazardous waste facilities and diesel particulate from trucks, trains and other vehicles. Additionally, these impacted children and residents are more vulnerable to environmental toxics due to their limited access to quality health care and healthy foods and other social and cultural factors. And, this disproportionate impact has a damaging effect on our students academic achievement and opportunities for success in school and in their lives; and

WHEREAS: San Francisco public schools such as Malcolm X Academy, George Washington Carver, Bret Harte, and Dr. Charles Drew College Prep Academy, other schools, childcare centers, and playgrounds are in the immediate vicinity of the Lennar development site; and

WHEREAS: Three African American employees of Lennar Corporation filed a whistle blower lawsuit in SF Superior Court on March 16, 2007, alleging that they suffered retaliation after reporting asbestos dust exposure and racial discrimination and that the company failed to contain asbestos dust while drilling into the Shipyard site, endangering the local community, including the school children of the neighboring Muslim University;

WHEREAS: The World Health Organization reports that there is no evidence for a threshold for the carcinogenic effect of asbestos and that increased cancer risks have been observed in populations exposed to very low levels of asbestos; However, there are tests for lead, chromium, radon, arsenic, etc., which are toxic chemicals that are present in the dirt on the affected site; and

WHEREAS: The 'Precautionary Principle' has been adopted by a growing number of cities, including San Francisco, as well as the Los Angeles Unified School District, as a proactive approach to promote the safest, lowest risk approach to protecting people's health, the environment, and property; and

WHEREAS: The Precautionary Principle as adopted by the City and County of San Francisco includes the following "essential elements:" :

Anticipatory Action: There is a duty to take anticipatory action to prevent harm. Government, business, and community groups, as well as the general public, share this responsibility.

Right to Know: The community has a right to know complete and accurate information on potential human health and environmental impacts associated with the selection of products, services, operations or plans. The burden to supply this information lies with the proponent, not with the general public.

Alternatives Assessment: An obligation exists to examine a full range of alternatives and select the alternative with the least potential impact on human health and the environment including the alternative of doing nothing.

Full Cost Accounting: When evaluating potential alternatives, there is a duty to consider all the reasonably foreseeable costs, including raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, use, cleanup, eventual disposal, and health costs even if such costs are not reflected in the initial price.

Short-and long-term benefits and time thresholds should be considered when making decisions.

Participatory Decision Process: Decisions applying the Precautionary Principle must be transparent, participatory, and informed by the best available information. (City of San Francisco, Precautionary Principle Ordinance, Section 101, August 2003,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the Board of Education of the San Francisco Unified School District believes that the Precautionary Principle as adopted by the City and County of San Francisco requires the Mayor Gavin Newsom, the Redevelopment Agency, Department of Public Health, Board of Supervisors, and other agencies accountable to our communities to take "anticipatory action" to prevent harm and through exploration and careful analysis of courses of action in order to present the least threat to the students, families and staff of the schools in the vicinity of the Hunters Point development; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the Board of Education of the San Francisco Unified School District calls on the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, Redevelopment Agency, Department of Public Health and other relevant City agencies to require an immediate halt of Lennar Corporation's development of Parcel A in the Hunter's Point Shipyard until an immediate and independent health and safety assessment can be conducted in coordination with the Superintendent and the School District's School Health Programs Office and relevant community organizations and City task forces like the SF Asthma Task Force; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the Board directs the Superintendent to coordinate with City officials to ensure the health of our students and their families in the affected area and report back to the full Board with an environmental safety action plan and timelines to ensure the safety of our students and their families no later than the Board's October 23rd meeting.


13) An Iraq war veteran reflects on the Sept. 15 march
‘The first time I put on that uniform I hoped I would wear it with honor. On Sept. 15, I finally did.’
By Michael Prysner, Iraq war veteran who was arrested at the Capitol on Sept. 15 along with 195 others.
Story sent by:
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311

On the morning of Sept. 15, I held in my hands a uniform that was issued to me nearly five years ago.

I remembered the first time I held it, wondering if I would ever wear it home, wondering if it would be stained by blood or shredded by bullets. It looks much different now than the first time I put it on—it is faded from 12 months of desert sand and sun. The elbows and knees are worn from lying in the street. The boots are tattered from kicking down doors and walking over cities of rubble. As I put it on for the first time since I returned from Iraq, I finally felt as if I was putting it on for a purpose.

For so many years, that uniform has not stood for justice and freedom. It is the uniform that the Iraqi people saw stomp through their towns. It is the uniform that drove humvees and manned machine guns. It is the uniform that dragged people from their homes and interrogated them in prison camps. But on the streets of Washington, D.C., the uniform took on new meaning.

It was no longer worn with the intention of fighting for the government, but fighting against it. For me, and for my brothers and sisters in Iraq Veterans Against the War, the uniform that once symbolized fear and destruction would now be worn in the spirit of justice and resistance.

In March of 2003, our government ordered us to put on that uniform, march into a foreign land and take it from those who lived there. On Sept. 15, we put on that same uniform to march to the Capitol and face those who sent us to war.

A significant factor in ending the war in Vietnam was the ability of protesters and GIs to strike fear in the heart of the government. Countless citizens and soldiers threw their bodies into the gears of the war machine, and made the ruling class realize that instead of fighting their war, we would fight them.

This war will end when the government begins to fear the masses—when the army they sent to spread imperialism becomes the army that marches to their offices and charges through the police barricades.

The first time I put on that uniform, I hoped I would wear it with honor. On Sept. 15, I finally did. I could finally do something right while wearing it. The nearly 200 people arrested on that day—many of whom were Iraq war veterans—showed the government that we will do more than just march.

We will defy them at every turn; we will not fade away, but only grow in numbers and intensity. The longer this war rages on, the more we will resist and the more we will sacrifice.

Wearing that uniform at the steps of the Capitol, I knew that the most important action that I could do was to advance towards the barricade, and help light the spark that will empower people to stop this government.

For the first time, that uniform was worn fighting a just war. When I emerged from jail that night, I saw hundreds of cheering supporters outside. Then, I knew that sooner or later we will win this war against imperialism. And I have never felt prouder wearing that uniform.

Forward this message.


14) A matter of civil rights
Dr. John Carlos marches, speaks out on the Jena 6
Sports Illustrated
Posted: Thursday September 27, 2007 1:24PM;
Updated: Thursday September 27, 2007 4:32P

U.S. athletes Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) extend gloved hands skyward in racial protest at the 1968 Olympics. (Go to Website for photo.)

When thousands -- many young, many poor, overwhelmingly African-American -- marched in Jena, La., last Thursday, the political impact was felt around the country. Marching on behalf of six young men known as the Jena 6, who faced prison time for a schoolyard fight, the case held an echo of past civil rights movements. At the center of it all is Dr. John Carlos.

A legend in Track and Field -- he's a former world record holder in the 100-yard dash and a member of the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame -- Dr. Carlos made history with his black-gloved fist salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics alongside Tommie Smith. As a teenager in Harlem, he used his world-class speed to bring messages to Malcolm X. As part of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, he spoke with Dr. Martin Luther King weeks before his assassination. Today Carlos, a guidance counselor in Palm Springs, Calif., looks around, and the man who has seen everything cannot believe his eyes.

"It's the old demons," he told "The old demons of race relations that perpetuate. It appears to me that not only did they not die, but that they have resurrected themselves throughout the United States."

Carlos feels a sense of frustration with "ministers" and "so-called leaders of the black community," as he puts it, who show up for the big protests in places like Jena, but aren't there when the cameras are off. "These leaders today," he said, "they remind me of tow truck drivers. A tow truck driver is the first one to show up on the scene when there is an accident sometimes. It's true they have [radios] and sometimes show up at the scene before even the police. But can they actually fix the cars? Do they have grease under the fingernails? Will they be there to help the families once the car is towed away?"

Dr. Carlos said he felt the need to speak after the marches in Jena. He feels a certain joy in seeing people respond to injustice with action, not apathy.

"I understand why we marched in Jena," he said. "Because the six are so young, because it is such a terrible double standard. The world is seeing it: When white jump on black, they didn't face attempted murder charges. When black jump on white, the world falls upon them. I was glad to see them come together. These young people, they are a new breed. A lot of people thought these young people wouldn't march like we did. But since 2005, with Katrina, there is a feeling of enough is enough."

And yet Dr. Carlos feels a sense of melancholy that there even needs to be a Civil Rights movement in the 21st century. "I can't believe we still have to be marching," he said. "I can't believe how injustice has taken root and has become normal. It appears that there is a message being sent that we can't go anywhere, aren't worth anything.
And that's not just black people. It's brown people. It's poor white people. It's the millions of our kids who go to school every day in the wealthiest country in the world and don't even have books. We are raising a generation with no knowledge, no chance. If people are products of their environment, we are in a great deal of trouble. We see no money for books but they keep building these prisons."

He also worries about the limits of protest to ensure lasting change. "Now [thousands] marched and that young man [Mychal Bell] is still in jail," Dr. Carols said. "We need to have our eyes on the prize. We need our young people also hitting them where it hurts.

Not just marching, but figuring out ways to do the unexpected. In 1968, that's what we did. You have to do what's contrary to the norm to give them something to think about. We have to give them something to think about because we had the audacity to act. I want to see people marching on the courthouse. I want them using their minds to do the unexpected, to make people in power think long and hard about the weight we are carrying."

What makes Dr. John Carlos formidable is that he refused to live his life as an icon, a museum piece to be dusted off when Olympics or anniversaries roll around. He wants to be a voice for change in the here and now. He wants to use his reputation to be heard. It's an example and a lesson for today's athletes to note. "We're not on earth to be robots," he said to me several years ago. "Whether people like it or not."

Dave Zirin is the author of Welcome to the Terrordome (Haymarket
Books). He can be contacted at


15) Hired Gun Fetish
Op-Ed Columnist
September 28, 2007

Sometimes it seems that the only way to make sense of the Bush administration is to imagine that it’s a vast experiment concocted by mad political scientists who want to see what happens if a nation systematically ignores everything we’ve learned over the past few centuries about how to make a modern government work.

Thus, the administration has abandoned the principle of a professional, nonpolitical civil service, stuffing agencies from FEMA to the Justice Department with unqualified cronies. Tax farming — giving individuals the right to collect taxes, in return for a share of the take — went out with the French Revolution; now the tax farmers are back.

And so are mercenaries, whom Machiavelli described as “useless and dangerous” more than four centuries ago.

As far as I can tell, America has never fought a war in which mercenaries made up a large part of the armed force. But in Iraq, they are so central to the effort that, as Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution points out in a new report, “the private military industry has suffered more losses in Iraq than the rest of the coalition of allied nations combined.”

And, yes, the so-called private security contractors are mercenaries. They’re heavily armed. They carry out military missions, but they’re private employees who don’t answer to military discipline. On the other hand, they don’t seem to be accountable to Iraqi or U.S. law, either. And they behave accordingly.

We may never know what really happened in a crowded Baghdad square two weeks ago. Employees of Blackwater USA claim that they were attacked by gunmen. Iraqi police and witnesses say that the contractors began firing randomly at a car that didn’t get out of their way.

What we do know is that more than 20 civilians were killed, including the couple and child in the car. And the Iraqi version of events is entirely consistent with many other documented incidents involving security contractors.

For example, Mr. Singer reminds us that in 2005 “armed contractors from the Zapata firm were detained by U.S. forces, who claimed they saw the private soldiers indiscriminately firing not only at Iraqi civilians, but also U.S. Marines.” The contractors were not charged. In 2006, employees of Aegis, another security firm, posted a “trophy video” on the Internet that showed them shooting civilians, and employees of Triple Canopy, yet another contractor, were fired after alleging that a supervisor engaged in “joy-ride shooting” of Iraqi civilians.

Yet even among the contractors, Blackwater has the worst reputation. On Christmas Eve 2006, a drunken Blackwater employee reportedly shot and killed a guard of the Iraqi vice president. (The employee was flown out of the country, and has not been charged.) In May 2007, Blackwater employees reportedly shot an employee of Iraq’s Interior Ministry, leading to an armed standoff between the firm and Iraqi police.

Iraqis aren’t the only victims of this behavior. Of the nearly 4,000 American service members who have died in Iraq, scores if not hundreds would surely still be alive if it weren’t for the hatred such incidents engender.

Which raises the question, why are Blackwater and other mercenary outfits still playing such a big role in Iraq?

Don’t tell me that they are irreplaceable. The Iraq war has now gone on for four and a half years — longer than American participation in World War II. There has been plenty of time for the Bush administration to find a way to do without mercenaries, if it wanted to.

And the danger out-of-control military contractors pose to American forces has been obvious at least since March 2004, when four armed Blackwater employees blundered into Fallujah in the middle of a delicate military operation, getting themselves killed and precipitating a crisis that probably ended any chance of an acceptable outcome in Iraq.

Yet Blackwater is still there. In fact, last year the State Department gave Blackwater the lead role in diplomatic security in Iraq.

Mr. Singer argues that reliance on private military contractors has let the administration avoid making hard political choices, such as admitting that it didn’t send enough troops in the first place. Contractors, he writes, “offered the potential backstop of additional forces, but with no one having to lose any political capital.” That’s undoubtedly part of the story.

But it’s also worth noting that the Bush administration has tried to privatize every aspect of the U.S. government it can, using taxpayers’ money to give lucrative contracts to its friends — people like Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater, who has strong Republican connections. You might think that national security would take precedence over the fetish for privatization — but remember, President Bush tried to keep airport security in private hands, even after 9/11.

So the privatization of war — no matter how badly it works — is just part of the pattern.


16) Runaway (Spending) Train
September 28, 2007

If, as he says, President Bush is going to start withdrawing troops from Iraq, why on earth does he need vastly more money from Congress to wage war? The staggering, ever escalating numbers tell the real story: As long as it’s up to Mr. Bush, the American presence in Iraq will be endless and ever more costly, diverting resources from other national priorities that are being ignored or shortchanged.

The administration showed its cards on Wednesday when it asked Congress for an additional $42.3 billion in “emergency” funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. This comes on top of the original 2008 spending request, which was made before Mr. Bush announced his so-called “new strategy” of partial withdrawal. It would bring the 2008 war bill to nearly $190 billion, the largest single-year total for the wars and an increase of 15 percent from 2007.

And here are a few more facts to put the voracious war machine in context: By year’s end, the cost for both conflicts since Sept. 11, 2001, is projected to reach more than $800 billion. Iraq alone has cost the United States more in inflation-adjusted dollars than the Gulf War and the Korean War and will probably surpass the Vietnam War by the end of next year, according to the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

For officials and politicians used to dealing with eye-popping numbers, the additional $42.3 billion may just register as a few more zeros on the bottom line of a staggeringly big bill. But it’s more than enough to cover the five-year $35 billion proposal for children’s health-care coverage that Mr. Bush has threatened to veto.

This for a war that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once said would cost under $50 billion while his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, predicted Iraqi oil revenues would largely pay for Iraq’s reconstruction.

It’s not that Americans don’t want to pay and equip the courageous men and women who defend their freedom. In fact, since 9/11, taxpayers have been remarkably stalwart in underwriting massive war-fighting increases. But the Pentagon budget has to make sense within the larger context of national security. Mr. Bush seems to be placing no financial check whatsoever on military spending, most of it devoted to a war in Iraq that is peripheral to the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, who are most active in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Americans also should ask why the Pentagon should be entrusted with more tax dollars when it can’t seem to spend what it has wisely. Military officials recently revealed that contracts worth more than $90 billion are being investigated — $6 billion for possible criminal charges, the rest for financial irregularities. According to the vague details made public, the new money would pay for the continued American troop presence in Iraq, the purchase of armored vehicles and training Iraq’s new army. But it also contains funds for longer-term goals, such as replacing outdated equipment.

Congress must dissect this request carefully, find out why Mr. Bush suddenly needed to ask for the extra money and use the chance to reshape the failed strategy in Iraq. In other words, lawmakers should join Democrat Robert C. Byrd, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in pledging there will be “no more blank checks for Iraq.”


17) U.A.W. Chiefs Unanimously Back G.M. Accord
September 28, 2007

DETROIT, Sept. 28 — United Automobile Workers leaders at General Motors unanimously approved a new four-year agreement today that calls for G.M. to invest $29.9 billion in a health care trust that would take its liability for retiree benefits off its books.

G.M. also agreed to invest in 16 American factories, in a step that the U.A.W.’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, called “unprecedented product guarantees” and “a total moratorium on outsourcing.”

The union has tried to win pledges from G.M. in the past that it would not send work outside the company, only to see G.M. close factories and cut thousands of jobs.

Still, details of the contract, contained in a brochure distributed to union leaders, showed that there were gains for both G.M. and the U.A.W. in the pact, which now goes to workers for a vote.

Informational meetings will start this weekend at union locals around the country.

Mr. Gettelfinger said he expected the rank and file to ratify the contract by Oct. 10.

The unanimous approval by local leaders “gives us a pretty good indication that the agreement will be accepted by the membership nationwide,” Mr. Gettelfinger said at a news conference this afternoon.

The centerpiece of the new contract is a voluntary employee benefit association, or VEBA, a health care trust that would assume responsibility for the benefits G.M. expects to pay its retirees. G.M. estimates its liability at more than $50 billion.

The trust requires court and regulatory approval that is expected to take about two years. Once the trust is established, G.M. will fund it with an initial investment of $24.1 billion. It told the union that it would invest $5.8 billion in following years, bringing the total to $29.9 billion.

G.M. pledged to provide more, up to an additional $1.6 billion, over 20 years, if the trust’s investments do not achieve the earnings that G.M. expects.

The VEBA would take effect Jan. 1, 2010. Until then, G.M. would pay $5.4 billion to maintain the current retiree health care plan. Retirees would receive lump-sum bonuses of up to $700 annually in the next four years.

Along with taking the liability off G.M.’s books, the trust would protect workers in the event of a bankruptcy, since its assets would not be held by G.M.

The company would pay workers a $3,000 bonus once the contract is signed. They would receive lump-sum payments in the next three years, but those would not be folded into their wages.

Over the four-year term of the contract, those bonuses and cost-of-living pay increases will be worth an estimated $13,056 more to an average worker than the previous agreement, the brochure said.

G.M. would permanently hire 3,000 temporary workers, who would then receive regular wages and benefits.

The often-criticized job-security provision known as the Jobs Bank will remain, but Mr. Gettelfinger said it will have new restrictions on the length of time a person can continue receiving pay and benefits after being laid off.

Among G.M.’s commitments to the union was a promise to build the Chevrolet Volt, a hybrid-electric car, in its Hamtramck, Mich., plant, beginning in 2010. G.M. has said production of the car could start a year later, however.

The Volt is a pet project of G.M.’s vice chairman, Robert A. Lutz, who said today that G.M. was pleased with the contract.

“Anything that improves America’s competitiveness is great, and this contract we believe very seriously does,” Mr. Lutz said in an interview. “It eliminates a lot of obstacles that were clouding the future of the automobile business.”

Local leaders attending this morning’s meeting said much of it was spent discussing the health care trust. Some union members have come out in opposition to the concept.

Many said they expect their members to ratify the deal. “It’s impressive,” said Doug Rademacher, president of U.A.W. Local 602 in Lansing, Mich.

Eldon Renaud, president of U.A.W. Local 2164, said he was “very excited” about news that G.M.’s Bowling Green, Ky., plant will add production of the Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice in 2012. The factory now builds the Cadillac XLR and Chevrolet Corvette sports cars.

“I’ve been actively trying to get those cars because we only have a one-shift operation,” Mr. Renaud said.

He said the new cars would probably bring the plant’s production up to a full two shifts, which in essence would assure its future. Car plants with just one shift of production are seen as vulnerable to shut downs.

Mr. Renaud said he expected the plant’s employment to triple from the current 960.

“I’m just elated,” he said. “My feet haven’t touched the ground.”

The U.A.W.’s previous contract with the Detroit automaker expired Sept. 14. It still must negotiate deals with the Ford Motor Company and Chrysler LLC.

Mr. Gettelfinger said the union would begin talking with those companies next week but said he had not decided whether to conduct talks simultaneously or in succession.

Micheline Maynard contributed reporting from New York, and Mary M. Chapman from Detroit.


18) The New Affirmative Action
September 30, 2007

In another time, it wouldn’t have been too hard to guess where Frances Harris would have ended up going to college. She has managed to do very well in very difficult circumstances, and she is African-American. Her high school, in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento, was shut down as an irremediable failure the spring before her freshman year, then reopened months later as a charter school. Midway through high school, her father developed heart problems and became an irritable fixture around the home. She also discovered that he was not actually her biological father. That was a man named Leroy who, when her mother took Harris to see him, simply said his name was George and waited for her to leave. In Harris’s senior year, her mother lost her job at a nursing home and the family filed for bankruptcy.

Harris somehow stayed focused on teenage life. She earned an A-minus average and she distinguished herself as a debater. Her basketball teammates sometimes teased her for using big words, but they also elected her co-captain. As she led me on a tour of her school and her neighborhood one day this summer, she introduced me around with an assured ease that most adults can’t manage, even if her sentences are peppered with “like,” “you know” and “Oh, my God.” Her bedroom in the bungalow she shares with her parents is a masterpiece of teenage energy, the walls covered with her prom-queen tiara, her purple-and-white basketball jersey (No. 3) and photos of her friends. “The hardest part of high school,” she says, “was to be smart and cool at the same time.” She decided her dream college was the University of California, Los Angeles.

Ten or 20 years ago, Frances Harris almost certainly would have been admitted. Her excellent grades might not have even been necessary, because Berkeley and U.C.L.A. — the jewels in the U.C. system — accepted almost all of the African-Americans who met the basic application requirements. To an admissions officer, Harris would have seemed like gold: diversity and achievement, wrapped up in a single kid.

But in the early 1990s, the elite campuses began to pull back from their aggressive affirmative-action policies, and in 1996, California voters passed the California Civil Rights Initiative, also known as Proposition 209. After that, race could no longer be a factor in government hiring or public-university admissions. The number of black students at both Berkeley and U.C.L.A. plummeted, and at U.C.L.A. the declines continued throughout the next decade. The reasons weren’t entirely clear, but they seemed to include some combination of the admissions office taking Proposition 209 to heart and black students falling further behind in the academic arms race. (Harris, for instance, scored a 22 on the ACT test — slightly above the national average and well below the U.C.L.A. average.) The changes on U.C.L.A.’s campus were hard to miss. In 1997, the freshman class included 221 black students; last fall it had only 100. In the region with easily the largest black population west of the Mississippi River, the top public university had a freshman class in which barely 1 in 50 students was black.

A U.C.L.A. graduate named Peter Taylor, a 49-year-old managing director at Lehman Brothers in Los Angeles, remembers picking up The Los Angeles Times outside his house on a Saturday morning in June of last year and reading that piece of news. Taylor, who is black, is a third-generation native of the city and one of U.C.L.A.’s most active alumni. Within days of reading about the latest decline in the number of black students, he began a campaign to reverse it. At a reception to honor U.C.L.A.’s new acting chancellor, a law professor named Norm Abrams, he greeted Abrams with a big smile and said, “Well, Norm, you’re stepping right into it, and you’ve got to deal with it.” Abrams soon named Taylor to lead a task force of students, faculty, alumni and outsiders from places like the Urban League and the First A.M.E. Church. It spent the next year trying to get more black students to apply, more black applicants to be admitted and more black admits to enroll. In essence, Taylor’s group was trying to figure out how to bring a student like Frances Harris to U.C.L.A. without breaking the law — or at least without getting caught. What they have achieved may well show us the future of affirmative action.

Peter Taylor’s office on the 25th floor of the MGM Building in Century City looks out over the Fox movie lot and a golf course; in the distance downtown Los Angeles rises. Taylor has lived in an artsy neighborhood of Los Angeles called Silver Lake since he was a child. In the aftermath of the Watts riots, his father, then a school administrator and one of the few black men to hold such a job, became the principal of Locke High School in South-Central Los Angeles. Taylor himself went on from U.C.L.A. to earn a master’s degree in public policy and work for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign before joining Lehman Brothers. When we were talking in his office, he apologetically interrupted our conversation and spent 10 minutes on the phone trying to persuade the person on the other end not to make any changes in a coming bond offering. There was, he kept saying, no point in doing something that might upset the market. But Taylor’s cautious, corporate style can be deceiving. He doesn’t mind a good fight. “Prop. 209 has made things more challenging,” he said. “It has created a new paradigm. But there are still things that can be done.” I asked him whether those things might include civil disobedience, and Taylor surprised me by replying: “Exactly when you cross over into civil disobedience is not always clear. And I probably come down on the side of pushing the outer limits. I’m much more of the attitude of, ‘So what if someone sues?’ If you lose, you at least define the line a little more clearly. You say, ‘Mea culpa,’ and you don’t do it anymore.”

The heart of California’s higher-education problem, according to Taylor, is that Proposition 209 created a patently impossible situation. The law says that universities can’t consider race, even though race has an enormous effect on the lives of applicants. California’s best high schools offer so many A.P. and honors classes — which confer bonus points on a student’s G.P.A. — that the average G.P.A. of white and Asian freshmen at U.C.L.A. is now 4.2. At many of the largely black high schools around Los Angeles, it is sometimes impossible to do much better than a 4.0, because of the relative lack of A.P. classes. Black students at better high schools have a much easier time, but it’s not as if they are keeping up with their peers. Even if U.C.L.A. tried to get around Proposition 209 by giving a big leg up to low-income applicants, it wouldn’t increase its black population very much. At every rung of the socioeconomic ladder, the academic record of black students is worse than that of other groups. As Taylor says: “There is a great deal of pressure to look for a proxy for race. There is no proxy for race.”

He and many other defenders of affirmative action consider this to be a self-evident fact, but there has also been a good deal of social science to support the view that the specific problems surrounding race — including discrimination — endure. One illustrative study found that résumés with typically black names are less likely to lead to job interviews than those with typically white names. Other recent studies have looked at intelligence testing. There have long been two uncomfortable facts in this area: Intelligence, indisputably, is in part genetic; and every intelligence test shows a gap between black Americans and others. For a long time, scientific research wasn’t very good at explaining this gap. But it has gotten better lately. For one thing, the gap between white and black adults has narrowed significantly since 1970, according to work by the noted researchers William Dickens and James Flynn. Four decades is too short a time period for the gene pool to change, but it’s not too short for environment to improve. Most intriguing, Roland Fryer and Steven D. Levitt, two economists (the latter is one of this magazine’s Freakonomics columnists), have found there to be essentially no gap between 1-year-old white and black children of the same socioeconomic status.

There are still vigorous debates about all this work — intelligence tests of 1-year-olds are iffy, for instance — but it points in one direction. Innate intelligence may be partly genetic, but it doesn’t seem to vary by race. So while race may not be the only source of disadvantage in today’s society, it is certainly one of them.

Since affirmative action began in the mid-1960s, it has had both an explicit role and an implicit one in American life. Explicitly, it has been about race and, to a lesser degree, sex — a policy to make up for centuries of oppression and to ensure diversity. But there has always been a broader notion to affirmative action as well. It has been the most serious effort of any kind to ensure equality of opportunity, without regard to wealth or poverty. When all else failed — the War on Poverty, welfare, public schools — affirmative action would be there to help less-fortunate Americans overcome the circumstances of their origins. “Ability is not just the product of birth,” Lyndon Johnson said when he effectively created affirmative action during a graduation speech at Howard University in 1965. “Ability is stretched or stunted by the family that you live with and the neighborhood you live in — by the school you go to and the poverty or the richness of your surroundings. It is the product of a hundred unseen forces playing upon the little infant, the child and, finally, the man.”

The more expansive idea of affirmative action as a counterweight to those “unseen forces” has become tightly linked to the self-image of American universities. Above all else, they are supposed to be meritocracies. To be truly meritocratic, a college must be diverse — or else accept that some groups in society have less merit than others and their underrepresentation can’t be helped. University administrators clearly reject this second view, and as a result the best colleges are now filled with students of both sexes and every imaginable race and religion. If you were to ask admissions officers whether they also gave special consideration to low-income applicants — whether they gave them credit for overcoming Johnson’s unseen forces — the officers would say that, absolutely, they did.

In truth, however, they did not. Three years ago, William Bowen (the former president of Princeton) and two other researchers discovered what was really going on. They persuaded 19 elite colleges — including Harvard, Middlebury and Virginia — to let them analyze their admissions records. The easiest way to understand the results is to imagine a group of students who each have the same SAT scores. Holding that equal, a recruited athlete was 30 percentage points more likely to be admitted than a nonathlete. A black, Latino or Native American student was 28 percentage points more likely to be admitted than a white or Asian student. A legacy received a 20-percentage-point boost over someone whose parents hadn’t attended that college. And low-income students? They received no advantage whatsoever. A poor white kid from upstate New York would be treated no differently from a white kid in Chappaqua. Frances Harris would get no more of a leg up than the black daughter of corporate lawyers.

Bowen says he doesn’t believe that admissions deans were lying when they said that their affirmative-action programs took social class into account. The colleges apparently put even more stock in the polish that comes with affluence — the well-edited essay, the summer trip to Guatemala, the Arabic language lessons. In any case, the poor lose.

There are some big problems with this approach to affirmative action. For one thing, it rests on a very rickety base of political support. Colleges often resort to huge preferences to create a racially diverse student body, especially if they haven’t been giving any advantage to low-income applicants, who are of course disproportionately minorities. And many of the beneficiaries of the preferences end up being upper-middle-class minority students, since they tend to have better test scores than poor minorities. The helping hand that goes to these relatively well-off nonwhite students strikes many people as unjust. It makes it seem as if affirmative action isn’t making good on its larger promise. Affirmative action becomes about mere diversity — and not even all forms of diversity — rather than fairness. Politically, that has made it weaker and weaker.

In the mid-1990s, a businessman in California named Ward Connerly began making some of these very criticisms. Connerly was born in Louisiana in 1939; his father left the family, and his mother died when he was a little boy. So he was sent West to Sacramento to be raised by his grandmother. He eventually began working for the state government, where he became friends with Pete Wilson, a young Republican legislator. After Wilson was elected governor in 1990, he named Connerly to the University of California’s board of regents, and Connerly began pressuring the university to cut back on race-based preferences. His efforts culminated in Proposition 209.

Connerly, not least because he is black, was the politically perfect face of the anti-affirmative-action movement. He argued then, as he still does, that the patchwork of diverse campuses and workplaces created by affirmative action has deluded the country into thinking that it is solving its racial problems. In truth, he says, the policy has actually made it harder for blacks to close the achievement gap with whites. “It’s not genetic, I’m convinced,” he told me this summer. “So what is it? I think it’s largely self-imposed by black people who don’t put as much emphasis on academic achievement as they once did and as other groups do now.” Connerly will tell you that he ended up going to college (at Sacramento State) because his grandmother pushed him to read books all the time.

Many people reject his argument as simplistic, if not worse. But whatever you think of his solution, it’s hard not to find some truth in his critique of traditional affirmative action. Certainly, voters seem to feel this way. Last year, Michigan passed an initiative identical to Proposition 209, and, thanks to Connerly, several other states are likely to vote on such proposals next year. Soon, more universities may find themselves in the same situation as the University of California.

There is almost an iron law of higher education: the more selective a school is, the fewer low-income students it has. At Harvard and Yale, only about 10 percent of undergraduates receive federal Pell Grants. (Typically, students from the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution are eligible for the Pell.) Even at top public universities, the share is often 15 percent or less. The colleges that are filled with poor and middle-class students almost invariably have low graduation rates. So their graduates are more likely to end up on the wrong side of the 21st century’s educational divide. A bachelor’s degree seems out of reach to a large portion of the American population, and, as a result, other countries have closed the gap in educational attainment with the United States over the last generation.

There are really only two exceptions to the rule, two universities that are both elite and economically diverse: U.C.L.A. and Berkeley. A chart on U.S. News & World Report’s Web site does a nice job of summarizing just how unusual they are. It lists the percentage of Pell Grant recipients at each university in the magazine’s famous Top 25 ranking. U.C.L.A. tops the list, at 37 percent, and Berkeley comes next, at 31 percent. In third place is Columbia, with just 15 percent.

To be fair, the main explanation for this gap is demographic happenstance. California is filled with low-income immigrant families, especially from Asia and Latin America, with high-achieving children. But a set of deliberate policies also plays an important role. The University of California accepts far more transfer students, mainly from community colleges, than most colleges. At U.C.L.A., about one-third of the admitted students arrive as transfers instead of as freshmen. When I was on campus, I met a 27-year-old Mexican immigrant named Daniel Flores, who was admitted three years ago as a junior even though, as Flores told me, “I barely graduated high school.” His first job after high school was in one of U.C.L.A.’s dining halls, where he realized that he would need more education if he ever wanted to make much more than minimum wage. He then enrolled in a community college in West Los Angeles and excelled there. When he was 18 years old — the only point in life when elite colleges usually consider candidates — no sane admissions officer would have let him in. By the time he was 23, it was clear he had mainly just lacked for good opportunities. Earlier this year, he graduated from U.C.L.A.; and there are hundreds of other students with life stories not so different from Flores’s who are walking through the Italianate buildings on the university’s lush campus.

If anything, Proposition 209 may have helped keep the U.C. campuses as economically diverse as they are. Desperate to maintain some racial diversity, university officials set up outreach programs in lower-income school districts, as James Traub described in this magazine several years ago. One of them, run by U.C. Davis, which is outside of Sacramento, visited Frances Harris’s elementary school. It was around this time that Harris first told her parents that she planned to go to college. Over the years, when things got tough, they both made a point of reminding her of her vow. “At times I got discouraged, and they said, ‘You’ve said you’re going to go to college, and you’re going to go,’ ” she recalled. A framed “reservation for college” certificate from the Davis program still hangs in her bedroom.

After the initiative passed, the U.C. campuses also put more weight on students’ socioeconomic backgrounds when they made admissions decisions. Richard Sander, a U.C.L.A. law professor who has become a critic of affirmative action, studied admissions data at Berkeley and found that, all else being equal, lower-income students had a better chance of getting in after 1997 than before. Together, these various class-based efforts have helped the share of Pell Grant students at both U.C.L.A. and Berkeley to hold steady over the last decade, even as it has declined at many similar colleges.

You can make an argument, in fact, that the single most impressive university in the country today is U.C.L.A. It receives more freshman applications than any other — 50,744 this year — and, unlike many of its peers, it can legitimately claim to be an engine of opportunity. About 90 percent of its students, whether they enter as freshmen or transfers, eventually graduate. What City College of New York was to the 20th century, U.C.L.A. is to the 21st.

And now, maybe, it is figuring out ways to solve its race problem.

One night in march of this year, Peter Taylor and three other U.C.L.A. alumni met in his office to go over a big stack of U.C.L.A. applications from students who had already been admitted. Over sandwiches, the four of them — none of whom was a university employee — helped determine how much financial aid each student would get. This was one of the “bureaucratic cover-me exercises,” as Taylor puts it, at the heart of the new diversity push at U.C.L.A.

In the previous few months, Taylor and his group had raised $1.7 million for scholarships, the plan being to offer virtually all of it, immediately, to admitted black students. The easiest thing to do would have been to hand over the money to the U.C.L.A. Foundation, which holds and invests the university’s endowment, and then allow financial-aid officers to give it away as they saw fit. But U.C.L.A.’s general counsel said that allowing the foundation to handle funds specifically set aside for black students might violate the law. And letting the financial-aid office disburse the money almost certainly would have done so, since Proposition 209 prohibited colleges from recruiting students and offering scholarships based on race. But it didn’t prevent student and alumni groups from doing so. In effect, Taylor and his task force began outsourcing work that normally would have been done by the university.

Students and alumni stepped up their recruiting efforts. They visited high schools and set up a phone bank, with the help of a sympathetic alumnus who owned a call center, to reach out to black high-school seniors. Southwest Airlines donated plane tickets, helping black students who had been admitted to visit the campus. (A survey in 2005 had shown that admitted students were far more likely to choose U.C.L.A. if they had visited it. If you’ve been to the campus, this won’t surprise you.) One program that greeted prospective black students, called Black by Popular Demand, was run by the African Student Union and the Black Alumni Association. Another program — Scholars Days — was aimed broadly at less-than-privileged students, and it was run by the university. The two were scheduled to overlap.

This outsourcing was the second part of the task force’s two-pronged strategy. The group also urged U.C.L.A.’s faculty senate last year to alter the admissions process. In the past, the admissions office divided every application between two readers: one evaluated a student’s academic record, the other looked at extracurricular activities and “life challenges.” Berkeley, by contrast, had taken a more holistic approach, with a single reader judging an entire application, and Berkeley was attracting more black students than U.C.L.A. Why? Maybe the holistic approach takes better account of the subtle obstacles that black students face — or maybe the readers, when looking at a full application, ended up practicing a little under-the-table affirmative action.

Last fall, U.C.L.A. made the switch. Two applications readers I interviewed said that they had received clear, written instructions not to consider race and that they hadn’t. (There are 150 readers in all, a mix of university employees and paid outsiders.) On the other hand, applicants seemed to understand that something had changed. Daniel Fogg, a computer programmer in the admissions office and an application reader, told me that he noticed more students mentioning race in their essays this year.

Whatever the reasons, every phase of Taylor’s campaign turned out to be a success. More than 2,400 black students applied last spring, up 13 percent from the previous year. Their admission rate rose to 16.2 percent, from 11.5 percent. Of those who were admitted, slightly more than half said yes, up from 41 percent in 2006. In all, about 200 African-American freshmen started classes last week, double the number the year before.

One of them was Frances Harris. Back at her high school in Sacramento this spring, a group of seniors decided to celebrate their school’s turnaround by photocopying their college acceptance letters and taping them to the walls. An entire hallway was filled with hundreds of letters. Until I stood in the hallway with Harris, I wasn’t sure it was possible to find any part of today’s college-application process inspiring. Eleven of the letters were hers, including ones from Pitzer College, Boston University, U.C.L.A. and U.C. Davis. (Berkeley rejected her.) She liked B.U., but it seemed too far away, especially from her mother’s perspective. So Harris’s decision came down to Pitzer, which offered her nearly a full scholarship, and U.C.L.A. In the end, a $1,000 scholarship from Taylor’s group, a campus visit (flight courtesy of Southwest) and a phone call from U.C.L.A.’s director of financial aid — a combination of official recruiting and outsourced recruiting — pulled her toward U.C.L.A. “The biggest thing was seeing so many beautiful, intellectual black young students, being cool and having discussions about calculus,” she said. “It was so pure. I was so impressed. It was amazing.”

Harris’s parents and her biological father all attended her high-school graduation. In late July, her parents drove her to Los Angeles so she could attend a six-week voluntary summer school that is officially open to incoming freshmen of all races but is dominated by black and Latino students. I saw Harris on campus in August, and she told me that she missed her friends from home but was happy to be a college student. On her first paper, in English composition, she got a B-plus, and on her second she got an A-minus. She’s thinking about becoming a pre-med student. Next summer, she plans to go to Washington to work as an intern with the new chancellor of the school system there, Michelle Rhee, whom Harris met through her high school.

A few weeks after getting to U.C.L.A., Harris wrote an e-mail message to P. K. Diffenbaugh, one of her old teachers, telling him to send some of his current students to visit her soon, so they could get excited about college. “In my comparative English class we read a book a week. It goes superfast so encourage your students not to fall off,” she wrote. “It’s like the major leagues. . . . Academia!!!!”

The big question that hangs over U.C.L.A.’s success, of course, is whether the university broke the law. Looking at the numbers, it’s hard not to conclude that race was a factor in this year’s admissions decisions. The average SAT score for admitted African-American students fell 45 points this year, to 1,738. For Asian, Latino and white students, the averages were much more stable. “I’m quite confident that U.C. factors race in, in various ways,” said Sander, the U.C.L.A. law professor and affirmative-action critic. “There is no way to explain the disparities otherwise.” He has filed a public-information request that would allow him to examine the data more closely.

In particular, U.C.L.A.’s experience suggests that some tension between race and class in the admissions process may be inevitable. Even as the number of low-income black freshmen soared this year, the overall number of low-income freshmen fell somewhat. The rise in low-income black students was accompanied by a fall in low-income Asian students — not a decline in well-off students. U.C.L.A. administrators say they don’t fully understand why.

In a way, though, the question of whether race was a factor is itself misplaced. Proposition 209 forbids universities to consider race, but it doesn’t stop them from considering disadvantage. So what if U.C.L.A. is somehow taking into account the disadvantages that black students face because of their race? Isn’t that legal? And isn’t it just? As Tom Lifka, a U.C.L.A. assistant vice chancellor who oversees admissions, said, “It’s the fallacy of 209 that you can immediately move to a system that doesn’t take account of race and that treats everybody fairly.” Lifka said he was confident that U.C.L.A.’s current system could withstand legal scrutiny.

I asked these same questions about race and fairness of Connerly, who does favor preferences based on socioeconomic status (as do almost 85 percent of Americans, according to a 2005 New York Times poll). His first objection was constitutional: he believes the Supreme Court has given colleges very narrow instructions on when and how to consider race. Beyond that, he finds it hard to imagine that colleges would be able to strike the appropriate balance. “I suppose you could craft some kind of system that says, ‘We’re going to acknowledge that there has been and continues to be discrimination in our society,’ ” he said. “But I believe it is almost impossible to decide on the acceptable range — say, from 1 to 10 — to take race into account.”

He may well be right. But it sure seems worth the effort. Somewhat accidentally, U.C.L.A. appears to have gotten much closer to the ideal answer than most American universities. Unlike those of other elite colleges, its student body isn’t dominated merely by the best and brightest of the upper middle class. U.C.L.A. has also figured out how to do a bit better by the standard diversity benchmarks than it had been doing. Despite all the political heat that still surrounds the issue in California, its universities seem to be pointing to a better version of affirmative action — one that uses a little less race and a lot more class. “What would be nice is if we could craft a social compromise that could keep the best of the program while admitting some of its flaws,” says Sander, who supports the idea of affirmative action, despite his criticisms of the current system. “It’s way beyond, ‘Mend it, don’t end it.’ Let’s fundamentally restructure this and be much more aware of class. If we did that, we’d build a much bigger consensus and take a lot of wind out of the sails of Ward Connerly.” Such a consensus might show us, finally, how to put the accomplishments of a student like Frances Harris into the right perspective.

David Leonhardt is an economics columnist for The New York Times.


19) Blackwater Shooting Scene Was Chaotic
September 28, 2007

BAGHDAD, Sept. 27 — Participants in a contentious Baghdad security operation this month have told American investigators that during the operation at least one guard continued firing on civilians while colleagues urgently called for a cease-fire. At least one guard apparently also drew a weapon on a fellow guard who did not stop shooting, an American official said.

The operation, by the private firm Blackwater USA, began as a mission to evacuate senior American officials after an explosion near where they were meeting, several officials said. Some officials have questioned the wisdom of evacuating the Americans from a secure compound, saying the area should instead have been locked down.

These new details of the episode on Sept. 16, in which at least eight Iraqis were killed, including a woman and an infant, were provided by an American official who was briefed on the American investigation by someone who helped conduct it, and by Americans who had spoken directly with two guards involved in the episode. Their accounts were broadly consistent.

A spokeswoman for Blackwater, Anne E. Tyrrell, said she could not confirm any of the details provided by the Americans.

The accounts provided the first glimpse into the official American investigation of the shooting, which has angered Iraqi officials and prompted calls by the Iraqi government to ban Blackwater from working in Iraq, and brought new scrutiny of the widespread use of private security contractors here.

The American official said that by Wednesday morning, American investigators still had not responded to multiple requests for information by Iraqi officials investigating the episode. The official also said that Blackwater had been conducting its own investigation but had been ordered by the United States to stop that work. Ms. Tyrrell confirmed that the company had done an investigation of its own, but said, “No government entity has discouraged us from doing so.”

An Iraqi investigation had concluded that the guards shot without provocation. But the official said that the guards told American investigators that they believed that they fired in response to enemy gunfire.

The Blackwater compound, rimmed by concrete blast walls and concertina wire in the Green Zone in central Baghdad, has been under tight control. Participants in the Sept. 16 security operation have been ordered not to speak about the episode. But word of the disagreement on the street has slowly made its way through the community of private security contractors.

The episode began around 11:50 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16. Diplomats with the United States Agency for International Development were meeting in a guarded compound about a mile northwest of Nisour Square, where the shooting would later take place.

A bomb exploded on the median of a road a few hundred yards away from the meeting, causing no injuries to the Americans, but prompting a fateful decision to evacuate. One American official who knew about the meeting cast doubt on the decision to move the diplomats out of a secure compound.

“It raises the first question of why didn’t they just stay in place, since they are safe in the compound,” the official said. “Usually the concept would be, if an I.E.D. detonates in the street, you would wait 15 to 30 minutes, until things calmed down,” he said, using the abbreviation for improvised explosive device.

But instead of waiting, a Blackwater convoy began carrying the diplomats south, toward the Green Zone. Because their route would pass through Nisour Square, another convoy drove there to block traffic and ensure that the diplomats would be able to pass.

At least four sport utility vehicles stopped in lanes of traffic that were entering the square from the south and west. Some of the guards got out of their vehicles and took positions on the street, according to the official familiar with the report on the American investigation.

At 12:08 p.m., at least one guard began to fire in the direction of a car, killing its driver. A traffic policeman said he walked toward the car, but more shots were fired, killing a woman holding an infant sitting in the passenger seat.

There are three versions of why the shooting started. The Blackwater guards have told investigators that they believed that they were being fired on, the official familiar with the report said. A preliminary Iraqi investigation has concluded that there was no enemy fire, but some Iraqi witnesses have said that Iraqi commandos in nearby guard towers may have been shooting as well, possibly leading Blackwater guards to believe that militants were firing at them.

After the family was shot, a type of grenade or flare was fired into the car, setting it ablaze, according to some accounts. Other Iraqis were also killed as the shooting continued. Iraqi officials have given several death counts, ranging from 8 to 20, with perhaps several dozen wounded. American officials have said that no Americans were hurt.

At some point during the shooting, one or more Blackwater guards called for a cease-fire, according to the American official.

The word cease-fire “was supposedly called out several times,” the official said. “They had an on-site difference of opinion,” he said.

In the end, a Blackwater guard “got on another one about the situation and supposedly pointed a weapon,” the official said.

“That’s what prompted this internal altercation,” the official said.

The official added that in the urgent moment of a shooting events could often become confused, and cautioned against leaping to hasty conclusions about who was to blame.


20) At Least Seven Reported Dead After U.S. Helicopter Attack
September 28, 2007

BAGHDAD, September 28 — At least seven young men were killed in an attack late Thursday that witnesses say was launched by an American military helicopter in a suburb outside Baghdad. The young men, the witnesses said, were playing a traditional Ramadan game at the time of the attack.

The American military did not comment immediately on the attack and was checking the report, and the witnesses’ statements could not immediately be verified. The residence was in a district south of Baghdad that is dominated by local militias.

Witnesses reported seeing at least one helicopter gunship in the attack, which took place in al-Saha neighborhood. It was unclear whether the attack was on a house or apartment, or whether the men were gathering outside.

“The American helicopters hovered over the area and then bombed the gathering with rockets and chased and attacked the young people with their machine gun and killed seven and injured more than 10 people,” said Ahmed Aubdulla, 37, a taxi driver.

About 30 young men were playing the game after a meal in which they broke the day’s fast during Ramadan, the witnesses said. The funeral for the men was held today, and the bodies were sent to Najaf.

Hussein Jassim, 61, a shop owner, said that the militia members in the area were no longer active. “All the world knows that the Mahdi Army has been frozen on the orders of our leader Sayyied Moktada al-Sadr, so, targeting this gathering, and saying they are Mahdi Army fighters, is all a lie,” he said.

Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York.


21) Testimony in Court-Martial Describes a Sniper Squad Pressed to Raise Body Count
September 28, 2007

CAMP LIBERTY, IRAQ, Sept. 27 — An Army sniper is taught to kill people “calmly and deliberately,” even when they pose no immediate danger to him. “A sniper,” Army Field Manual 23-10 goes on to state, “must not be susceptible to emotions such as anxiety or remorse.”

But in a crowded military courtroom seemingly stunned into silence on Thursday, Sgt. Evan Vela all but broke down as he described firing two bullets into an unarmed Iraqi man his unit arrested last May.

In anguished, eloquent sentences, Sergeant Vela, a member of an elite sniper scout platoon with the First Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, quietly described how his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley, cut off the man’s handcuffs, wrestled him to his feet and ordered Sergeant Vela, standing a few feet away, to fire the 9-millimeter service pistol into the detainee’s head.

“I heard the word ‘Shoot,’” Sergeant Vela recalled. “I don’t remember pulling the trigger,” he said. “I just came through and the guy was dead, and it just took me a second to realize the shot had come from the pistol.”

Then, Sergeant Vela said, as the man, a suspected insurgent, convulsed on the ground, Sergeant Hensley kicked him in the throat and told Sergeant Vela to shoot him again. Sergeant Vela, who is not on trial but faces murder charges in connection with the killing, said he fired a second time.

His testimony on Thursday, in the court-martial of Specialist Jorge G. Sandoval Jr., another sniper who is accused of murder, provided a glimpse into the dark moments of a platoon exhausted, emotionally and physically, by days-long missions in the region south of Baghdad that soldiers call the “triangle of death.” In their testimony, Sergeant Vela and other soldiers described how their teams were pushed beyond limits by battalion commanders eager to raise their kill ratio against a ruthless enemy.

During a separate hearing here in July, Sgt. Anthony G. Murphy said he and other First Battalion snipers felt “an underlying tone” of disappointment from field commanders seeking higher enemy body counts.

“It just kind of felt like, ‘What are you guys doing wrong out there?’” he said at the time.

That attitude among superiors changed earlier this year after Sergeant Hensley, an expert marksman, became a team leader, according to soldiers’ testimony. Though sometimes unorthodox, soldiers said, Sergeant Hensley and other snipers around him began racking up many more kills, pleasing the commanders.

Soldiers also testified that battalion commanders authorized a classified new technique that used fake explosives and detonation wires as “bait” to lure and kill suspected insurgents around Iskandariya, a hostile Sunni Arab region south of Baghdad.

As their superiors sought less restrictive rules of engagement — to legalize the combat killing of anyone who made a soldier “feel threatened,” for example, instead of showing hostile intent or actions — the baiting program, as it was known, succeeded in killing more Iraqis suspected of being terrorists, soldiers testified.

But testimony in proceedings for Sergeant Hensley and, on Thursday, for Specialist Sandoval, both of whom face murder charges in connection with separate killings of Iraqi men last spring, suggest that as the integrity of the battalion’s secret baiting program began to crack, so did Sergeant Hensley.

Only a select group of snipers in the battalion were told of the program, but many more were ordered, without explanation, to carry the baiting items on missions, creating rumors that the items were intended to be planted on victims of unjustified killings, soldiers testified.

Sergeant Hensley, according to several snipers, added to such suspicions when he told a junior member of his team to plant a roll of copper wire — clear contraband — on a suspected insurgent that Specialist Sandoval killed on April 27 after being authorized to shoot by his platoon commander.

On a separate mission two weeks earlier, Sergeant Hensley had killed another Iraqi man he said appeared to be “laying wire” near an irrigation ditch, as the man’s wife and children worked and played nearby.

Then on May 11, Sergeant Vela killed the unarmed man. Afterward, as he testified Thursday, Sergeant Hensley pulled an AK-47, a weapon favored by insurgents, out of his pack and placed it on the body, telling his team that the gun would “say” what happened.

Specialist Sandoval’s court-martial on murder charges began here on Wednesday, and is scheduled to conclude Friday. Sergeant Hensley’s court-martial on murder charges is scheduled to begin here Oct. 22.

An evidentiary hearing for Sergeant Vela, who took the stand on Thursday in the Sandoval court-martial after being granted immunity from incriminating himself in that case, is expected later this year.

Sergeant Murphy has been investigated for a killing of another Iraqi man on April 7. Prosecutors have warned two more battalion members that they are also suspected of committing possible crimes as accomplices in the murder cases.

Struggling to explain why a highly trained Army sniper unit, renowned for its lethal economy of patience and discipline, would bog down under a cloud of murder investigations, some soldiers in interviews faulted commanders for pushing units to keep their kill counts high.

Others pointed toward the outsized influence on the unit by Sergeant Hensley, who, according to other soldiers’ testimony, was dealing with two recent deaths: that of a close friend, killed in a roadside bomb, and also the suicide of his girlfriend back home.

“Staff Sgt. Hensley just continued to drive on,” said Specialist Joshua Lee Michaud, in testimony at the July hearing about the sergeant’s toughness. “Both of them didn’t even faze him.”

A trainer of snipers, Sgt. First Class Terrol Peterson, testified Thursday that the very emotions a sniper must control to do his job properly — anxiety and remorse — sometimes emerge in unexpected and painful ways. “When a sniper breaks, he breaks bad,” Sergeant Peterson said.


22) Gates Favors Faster Expansion of the Army
September 28, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — Hoping to ease the strain of two wars, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday that he was likely to approve a $3 billion plan by the Army to accelerate by a full year the expansion of its active-duty force that President Bush approved in January.

Under the proposal, the Army would expand to 547,000 troops by 2011, one year sooner than under Mr. Bush’s plan. Army Secretary Pete Geren told reporters on Thursday that he favored the faster expansion to relieve the strains of providing troops for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’m inclined to approve it,” Mr. Gates said of the Army proposal at a Pentagon news conference on Thursday. “My questions have focused principally on whether they can do it in terms of recruitment and whether they can do so without lowering standards.” Mr. Gates said that he would not allow the Army to reduce recruiting standards to get the higher force numbers. The Army has had intermittent problems this year reaching the higher recruiting targets needed to expand the overall force.

Mr. Bush approved a plan to increase the size of the Army in January when he decided to send more troops to Iraq as part of the “surge” to improve security in and around Baghdad. The plan called for increasing the active duty Army to 547,000 troops by 2012, from its authorized strength of 512,000, and for an additional 9,000 troops for the National Guard and Army Reserve.

Mr. Geren said that expediting the growth of the force would be achieved by increasing recruiting and re-enlistment. The Army has had to resort to large cash bonuses, up to $20,000 for recruits who agree to report quickly for basic training, and far higher amounts to keep soldiers in the service who do specialized jobs.

Though the Army is on track to meet its recruiting goal this year, it has had to accept modest increases in the number of recruits without high school diplomas, take more soldiers who scored low on an aptitude test and expand the use of moral waivers to recruit people with low-level criminal convictions.

Army officials said that the number accepted through such means remained low and had not exceeded limits set by Congress. The number of American combat troops in Iraq is expected to decline by about 20,000 in the first half of next year, under the plan Mr. Bush announced this month. But Mr. Geren said the number of noncombat troops there could stay the same or even rise. He said the Army was studying whether the planned reduction in combat forces would require more or fewer troops doing support functions.


23) Gap in Illness Rates Between Rich and Poor New Yorkers Is Widening, Study Shows
September 28, 2007

The gap between the health of New Yorkers living in poverty and those with higher incomes has widened since the early 1990s, according to a survey released yesterday. It found that residents of poor neighborhoods in the city are experiencing alarming rates of diabetes and steady increases in other chronic illnesses like heart disease, while other residents have seen slower increases or even declines.

Health disparities are not new, but experts say the report by the city comptroller, William C. Thompson Jr., sharply underscores a greater gulf.

It also shows a costly and dangerous trend in health care today: preventable and manageable chronic illnesses are rapidly rising among low-income uninsured residents and are often not treated until they escalate to crises.

However, the report also showed that hospitalizations for asthma, a scourge of poorer neighborhoods, have plummeted and that infant mortality rates have also declined, as a result of aggressive community health campaigns.

City health officials have also recently reported success in reducing gaps in life expectancy, heart disease deaths and access to cancer screening.

“We will continue working to reduce disparities and help all New Yorkers live longer, healthier lives,” according to a statement released by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Still, the contrast between rich and poor neighborhoods in the rate of serious and deadly diseases portrayed in Mr. Thompson’s report was stark, according to data covering a 15-year period, 1990 to 2005.

Adult-onset diabetes, known as Type 2 diabetes, has skyrocketed at all but the highest income levels, with an 82 percent increase in hospitalizations in all 42 New York areas defined by the survey over the 15-year period. But in 2005, the increase in the city’s poorest areas — Hunts Point-Mott Haven; High Bridge-Morrisania; Crotona-Tremont; East Harlem; Williamsburg-Bushwick; Central Harlem; and East New York — was 5 times the increase in the city’s wealthiest communities — Greenwich Village-SoHo; Willowbrook; South Beach-Tottenville; the Upper West Side; Lower Manhattan; and Gramercy Park-Murray Hill.

In the poorest neighborhoods in 2005, there were 686.6 hospitalizations for diabetes per 100,000 people, compared with 51.2 in the richest neighborhoods. The diabetes death rate was 125.2 per 100,000 in the poorest neighborhoods and 14.8 in the richest neighborhoods.

“You are looking at a city that needs to do a better job of providing primary care and preventive care,” Mr. Thompson said in an interview. “We can do it. It’s a question of creating the focus, but it can be done.”

He urged city and state health officials to increase public financing and reimbursement to doctors who provide primary and preventive care for poor patients. He said that although New York’s spending on Medicaid is among the highest in the nation, the state is not investing enough in primary care.

State health officials said they had already been working to address the disparities in health care, particularly as they move to expand coverage for the uninsured, especially children, and tackle the mammoth task of reforming the state’s troubled $47 billion Medicaid program.

They said they agreed that doctors, who typically receive low fees from Medicaid for routine care and wellness visits and higher fees for procedures like emergency services, should be rewarded for preventing emergencies, and that they were working on several pilot projects. However, cost is a potential hurdle, state officials said, because higher fees for each visit to a doctor could require higher total payments by the state.

“We are looking at Medicaid reimbursement reform,” said Claudia S. Hutton, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Health. “But we want to reform it in a way that is affordable.”

A state commission that last year recommended the closing of several New York hospitals — some of them in poor neighborhoods — also called for opening more community clinics, and state officials said they would be seeking proposals for grants to finance such clinics in the next year.

Mr. Thompson also said that the expansion of walk-in drugstore health clinics, which have begun to open in New York City and are on the rise and supermarket-based clinics, would go a long way toward supplementing the primary care clinics.

Many poor residents have no primary doctors and little choice but to wait at overcrowded clinics or in an emergency room.

The retail clinics can provide preventive care, including immunizations, and treatment for routine illnesses. Duane Reade, the city’s largest drugstore chain, has opened four in mid-Manhattan and on the Upper West Side, and plans to open as many as 60 more in the next 18 months, including one in Brooklyn and one in Queens next month.




Wisconsin Iraq vet returns medals to Rumsfeld
By David Solnit, Courage to Resist / Army of None Project.
"I swore an oath to protect the constitution ... not to become a pawn in your New American Century."
September 26, 2007

Madison, Wisconsin--Joshua Gaines, who served a year long tour in Iraq in 2004 to 2005 with the Army Reserve, returned his Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today by mail as dozens of supporters look on.

Verizon Reverses Itself on Abortion Messages
September 27, 2007

Manhattan: Slain Soldier to Receive Citizenship
A soldier from Washington Heights who was killed while serving with the Army’s Second Infantry Division in Iraq is to receive citizenship posthumously on Monday, immigration officials said in a statement yesterday. The soldier, Cpl. Juan Alcántara, 22, left, was one of four soldiers killed in an explosion as they searched a house in Baquba on Aug. 6. Representative Charles B. Rangel, a Harlem Democrat, will speak at a ceremony at the City University Great Hall in Manhattan and present a certificate to Corporal Alcántara’s family. The corporal was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Washington Heights, Mr. Rangel’s office said.
September 14, 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])