Friday, November 02, 2007



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


Monday, Nov. 5, 7:00 P.M., 474 Valencia at the Childcare Center.

San Francisco schools expected to grant JROTC a year's reprieve
Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, October 6, 2007

The controversial demise of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps in San Francisco schools scheduled for this spring will likely be put off for at least a year because the school district hasn't developed a promised replacement program.

The expected reprieve would drag out what has already been a protracted and emotional battle over the district's 90-year tie to the military program.

Still, supporters say the prospect of an extra year offers hope that JROTC could survive in San Francisco.

The school board voted last November to phase out JROTC over two years because of its connection to the military, which board members said was discriminatory, homophobic and at odds with the mission of public education. They also agreed to create a task force to develop an alternative program to begin in fall 2008.

Despite JROTC's expected demise, 1,500 students in seven city high schools enrolled in JROTC this fall, with 670 of them participating in affiliated after-school programs. That's about 200 fewer than last year, although students who thought the program no longer existed continue to transfer in, JROTC instructors say.

The school board's composition has also changed, and just two of the board members who voted to eliminate JROTC last year - Eric Mar and Mark Sanchez - are still serving.

A majority of current board members - Kim-Shree Maufas, Jill Wynns, Norman Yee and Hydra Mendoza - said they were open to keeping JROTC alive.

The seventh board member, Jane Kim, said she was also willing to support JROTC, but only if there were a way to address the military's discriminatory hiring practice involving homosexuals. She suggested a JROTC diversity curriculum or a cadet campaign against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

But bringing JROTC back to life is not something any of those board members seems willing to do right now.

"I wouldn't be leading any of it," Yee said. "I just don't want to do that battle."

Maufas agreed. "I respect what the board decided," she said. "I believe with hard work and enough time, we can provide a program that serves students' needs in terms of leadership development."

But there isn't enough time to do that before next fall.

District officials didn't even create the task force that was supposed to identify a new program until last spring - several months after their vote against JROTC.

The task force - consisting of 17 district staff members, students and community members, and including supporters and opponents of JROTC - met for the first time in April. By its third meeting in June, the group acknowledged serious flaws in the process.

"We do not have enough time, we do not have enough (task force) attendance, and we do not consistently have agreement on this committee," group members decided, according to minutes of the meeting.

In addition, the school board gave the task force little guidance, even about how much it could spend.

"We've been given no budgetary guidelines," said Meyla Ruwin, district director of school health programs and task force co-chair.

So the task force could ultimately come up with a plan that the district has no intention or ability to fund.

Task force members said they plan to ask the school board's curriculum committee Thursday to let JROTC continue until spring 2009.

Board President Mark Sanchez said he expects the extension to be approved by the board.

"We've been trying to find a program that the city could benefit from, the kids could benefit from, and would still provide that leadership training and the physical training," said board member Mendoza. "It's getting the program off the ground that's the key, and where are we going to get the funding?"

The $1.7 million JROTC program receives a $750,000 annual subsidy from the U.S. military. Students in the program, called cadets, earn up to two years of physical education or elective credits for the courses. [The rest is paid by the SFUSD!]

Board Vice President Yee, who voted against last year's resolution, said he wasn't surprised by the lack of an alternative.

"It seems like what I thought might happen is happening," he said. "There's nothing to replace it with. ... There are a lot of practical things we didn't think about."

In the meantime, JROTC students and their instructors said they are frustrated by the inaction. The instructors don't know whether they'll have their jobs next year.

"They've got mortgages," said task force member Robert Powell, a JROTC instructor at Lincoln High School and retired Army lieutenant colonel. "They've got bills. How can you tell them, 'Just hang on'?"

Junior Yvonne Ho said that she found her niche in JROTC and that without it students would be sent to play sports - an option she dreads.

"I think it's pretty unfair to cancel the program without a backup plan," said Ho, the battalion commander of Balboa High School's 280 JROTC cadets.

"We don't know where we'd go," she said. "There's just PE."

The task force said its next step will be to survey current and former cadets about what is important about the program - characteristics they hope to build into a replacement.

Students say the program develops leadership, teamwork, community service, a sense of responsibility and a sense of belonging.

Maufas, whose daughter participated in the program while in high school, said JROTC provides strong role models: Most of the program's instructors are African American men.

"Those types of relationships are so valuable," she said. "It's hard to replace it."
JROTC'S recent history in San Francisco

Feb. 22, 1994 - JROTC hazing incident occurs at Balboa High, prompting a districtwide debate about the program's merits.

June 27, 1995 - San Francisco school board votes to keep JROTC programs.

May 23, 2006 - School board introduces resolution to eliminate JROTC.

Nov. 14, 2006 - School board votes to phase out JROTC by June 2008.

April to Oct. 3, 2007 - Task force meets five times to discuss a replacement program.

Thursday - Task force scheduled to address school board curriculum committee to request one-year extension.

E-mail Jill Tucker at

This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle




474 Valencia Street, SF (Near 16th Street)

It is incumbent upon us to continue not only our cooperation with one another but to map out future plans for ongoing protests and, especially, community organizing.

I marched with the Noe Valley Community Peace group organized as a contingent to the Oct. 27 action. Around 200 community residents assembled at Castro and 24th Street and marched down 24th Street with signs and banners to Church Street where we all got on the J-Church streetcar headed for the Civic Center. As we marched down 24th Street merchants and shoppers came out of the shops and cheered and clapped. Cars honked in support as they went by. Our reception was overwhelmingly a friendly and supportive one.

This is the kind of organizing that is needed throughout the city. To do this it will take a real coordinated effort on the part of all the antiwar groups and activists--to plan it out; to organize community meetings; to set up tables at the local malls as the holiday shopping season begins. We must give out informational material and fact sheets.

We need a long term goal of a massive protest in March for the anniversary of the war and we need short-term goals of community education, organization and ongoing antiwar activity.

San Francisco's opposition to the war is very widespread and deep yet we see few signs in the windows or public expressions of that opposition. Community organization and expressions of solidarity with one another on this issue that effects every aspect of our lives will give courage to the majority opposed to the war to be more vocal and demonstrative in opposition to it; and in demanding the things families need that we can't afford because of the terrific war spending.

I know neighbors in Noe Vally were inspired by their communal expression of opposition to the war. It was a wonderful message to the community and especially to the children in the community who witnessed this spirited march.

We are approaching the fifth anniversary of this momentous and colossal crime against humanity—a violent assault on the innocent civilians of Iraq who must fight for survival under bloody occupation and torture. We are approaching the fifth anniversary of the meat-grinding machine of war eating up the duped and lied-to cannon fodder of U.S. youth captured for the purposes of the U.S. death march across the world for private profit and gain. And we are living under the threat of an ever-widening war!

Both U.S. troops and private contractors are being trained to commit heinous crimes against innocent Iraqi and Afghani civilians who are struggling for life itself. If and when they come back home to resume a normal life, they will never be the same and will bear the burden of their actions for the rest of their lives. Their families will never be the same again either.

We have so much to do. The San Francisco Board of Education is poised to reinstate JROTC even before it has been banished! Military recruiters are running rampant and desperate in our schools and anywhere youth congregate--standing ready to ply them with money and lies and promises of a way out of the poverty, jail and second-tier wages that they do stand ready to inherit--if they are even lucky enough to get a job at all!

Our only power is in our unity, solidarity and independent action in protest of these criminal and grossly unjust acts of violence and deprivation against humanity. We want schools, jobs, housing, healthcare for all and a world without war.

And if we truly want these things, we must put aside our differences and unite to achieve those goals.

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War Newsletter,

Check out these great photos of the march taken by Jeff Patterson at:

More photos of Labor Contingent taken by Noe Valley Labor Rep:


Wed., Nov. 7: The Jena 6 Are Back in Court
Drop All the Charges! Free the Jena 6!

Rally Wed., Nov. 7, 5pm
Federal Courthouse
7th and Mission
"Until the 6 Are Free, Neither Are We"
San Francisco

Contact 415-821-6545 or to get involved or for more information.
Click here for a short eyewitness video from Sept. 20:

Last week, the racist judge that originally presided over Mychal Bell's conviction sent him back to jail for 18 months for "violating probation" from an earlier conviction. The precise violation was his arrest in the Jena 6 incident. While the racist thugs who started this cycle of events continue to walk free, the Jena 6 are still facing long prison sentences.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, the growing movement to free the Jena 6 will face an important challenge. On that day, four of the Six -- Theodore Shaw, Robert Bailey, Bryan Purvis, and Mychal Bell -- are expected in court for pre-trial hearings. The ANSWER Coalition is calling on all progressive and anti-racist forces to come together for rallies in front of local courthouses across the country with the demand to free the Jena 6, and drop all the charges. Demonstrations are already confirmed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and New Haven (CT).

The case of the Jena 6 has garnered international attention, and shone a spotlight on the racist nature of this country's criminal "injustice" system. Without activists taking action across the country, however, it is certain that their case -- like so many others -- would never have received the attention that it has. Mychal Bell's original conviction never would have been overturned; instead he would have become just another statistic.

On Sept. 20, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Jena, Louisiana and in other cities around the country to demand the complete freedom of the Jena 6, and the release of Mychal Bell. A week later, after 10 months in prison, he was granted bail and released. But shortly afterwards, the Louisiana judge that originally convicted Bell struck back, ordering him back into custody.

The spirit and determination of Sept. 20 protest in Jena has to be replicated over and over across the country on November 7th. The movement is locked in a tug-of-war with the racist Louisiana justice system. Now we have to dig in our heels and until all charges against the Six are dropped, we have to keep on pulling! All out for November 7th to Free the Jena 6!

For more information email us at




1) Thousands in SF Protest Iraq War
By Dennis McMillan
Published: November 1, 2007

2) What I saw in Fallujah
By Dahr Jamail
New Statesman
November 1, 2007

3) Chrysler to Cut 11,000 Jobs and Drop Models
November 1, 2007

4) Crack Cocaine Jail Terms to Be Shorter
November 1, 2007

5) London Police Faulted in Shooting
Filed at 7:29 p.m. ET
November 1, 2007

6) Blackwater Mounts a Defense With Top Talent
November 1, 2007

7) 10-Year-Old With Matches Started a California Wildfire
November 1, 2007

8) Supermodel Naomi Campbell "Amazed" at Venezuelan Social Programs
November 1st 2007, by Chris Carlson –

9) Who Really Set the California Fires?
By Mike Davis,
Posted on November 1, 2007, Printed on November 2, 2007

10) The noose -- a symbol of hatred -- reappears
Posted on Fri, Nov. 02, 2007

11) M.T.A. Asks for Restoration of Automatic Dues Payment
November 2, 2007

11) M.T.A. Asks for Restoration of Automatic Dues Payment
"“The mayor’s right. The M.T.A. should accept nothing less than an unequivocal pledge from them as a union renouncing the strike as a weapon, period.”
November 2, 2007

12) Job Cuts at Chrysler Go Even Deeper Than Expected
November 2, 2007

13) Lessons from the New World
Success is beginning to look a lot like failure
by Gina Cassidy
Published in the September/October 2007 issue of Orion magazine


1) Thousands in SF Protest Iraq War
By Dennis McMillan
Published: November 1, 2007

Five years since Congress voted to authorize the use of United States military troops in Iraq, at the sound of a bullhorn blasting, thousands of demonstrators dropped to the pavement on Market Street and South Van Ness, participating in a symbolic “die-in” on Saturday, Oct. 27. This was the first part of a protest – one among many going on in other cities across the nation - against the war in Iraq. For several minutes the protesters lay still on the ground, in an act that organizers such as A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and United for Peace and Justice said represented over one million Iraqis and Americans killed since the war first began in 2003. The protesters then got up, after the photo shoot/ media frenzy ended, to continue their demonstration that started at the Civic Center and ended in Dolores Park.

Organizers estimated the number demonstrating was approximately 30,000 - composed of queer, straight, young, old, longtime activists, first-timers, students, workers, religious people, atheists, and even a few nude men. They carried banners stating, “Stop oil addiction” and “Queers for Peace and Justice” as well as placards – both pre-printed and homemade – saying, “Bring the troops home now!” “End the war now!” and “Impeach Bush.”

Several demonstrators held huge peace signs made of artificial flowers or crepe paper on wooden poles. Rainbow flags were interspersed throughout. Taking up blocks and blocks of Market Street, activists chanted, “No blood for oil!” “No more war!” and “Silence shows compliance.”

Protesters collected around the front of City Hall to listen to impassioned speeches admonishing and reprimanding “Commander in Thief” President George W. Bush and his hawk administration. They said Americans – including Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and others – need to rebel and insist on a timely end to “this senseless war.”

When demonstrators arrived at Dolores Park, they witnessed hundreds of black boots that had been set up in rows on the grassy hills, commemorating the nearly 4,000 American soldiers who died in Iraq. Each was tagged with the name of a soldier who had been killed. Some demonstrators put cut flowers into some of the boots.

More speeches were given, including candidate for Congress and well-known sit-in peace demonstrator, Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan. She wanted citizens to vote in the 2008 elections for her instead of her opponent, incumbent House Speaker Representative Nancy Pelosi, because she felt Pelosi wasn’t calling for an immediate end to the war. A Vietnam veteran spoke of his joy to see so many young people demonstrating, which reminded him of his days serving another senseless war, that time in the late ‘60s, when young people demonstrated and rioted until the war in Vietnam was finally called off. Another speaker chided Bush for his flat out statement a few years ago, saying, “I am a war president.”

“More than 30,000 people have marched today in San Francisco. This was a sign that the anti-war sentiment is the majority opinion,” stated Richard Becker, Western regional director of the ANSWER Coalition, who co-chaired the San Francisco demonstration.

“Coming six weeks after the National March and Die-In on September 15 in Washington, D.C., tens of thousands of people in more than a dozen cities took to the streets today to demand the end of the Iraq war now,” stated Sarah Sloan, national staff coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition. The ANSWER Coalition and other anti-war organizations initiated the call for regional and local actions in June 2007.

Regional and local demonstrations took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York City, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Boston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Chattanooga and Jonesborough (TN), Salt Lake City, Denver, South Dakota, Rochester, and elsewhere.

ANSWER organizers said that in Los Angeles, more than 10,000 people took to the streets. In Seattle, 7,000 protested. In New York City, thousands marched from Union Square to lower Manhattan in a demonstration. More than 5,000 marched in Boston.

Among the demonstrators at the San Francisco action were members from the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, QueerVision, various labor unions, Raging Grannies (older women who typically dress in dowdy clothes and wear grey wigs), and Code Pink (women who always wear the color pink and traditionally hand out pink slips for the President, indicating he needs to be fired). One lady was festively dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Both groups from Code Pink and Raging Grannies sang protest songs with their own updated anti-war lyrics. The day ended with people lounging on the grass, chatting and congratulating themselves on not being apathetic, but doing their part to protest the war.


2) What I saw in Fallujah
By Dahr Jamail
New Statesman
November 1, 2007

Dahr Jamail set out to report the truth about the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its terrible impact on daily life. Determined to remain independent of the army, he embedded himself instead with the Iraqi people

On the day martial law was declared, U.S. tanks began rolling into the outskirts of Fallujah, while war planes continued to pound the city with as many as 50,000 residents still inside. Iyad Allawi, the U.S.-installed interim prime minister, laid out the six steps for implementing his "security law". These entailed a 6:00 P.M. curfew in Fallujah, the blocking of all highways except for emergencies and for government vehicles, the closure of all city and government services, a ban on all weapons in Fallujah, the closure of Iraq's borders with Syria and Jordan (except to allow passage to food trucks and vehicles carrying other necessary goods), and the closure of Baghdad International Airport for 48 hours.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., most corporate media outlets were busy spreading the misinformation that Fallujah had fallen under the control of the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. There was no available evidence that Zarqawi had ever set foot inside the city. It was amply evident that the resistance in the city was composed primarily of people from Fallujah itself. However, that did not deter the establishment media, which portrayed the assault on the city as a hostage intervention situation.

As they had done during the April siege, the military raided and occupied Fallujah general hospital, cutting it off from the rest of the city. On November 8, 2004 the New York Times reported, "The assault against Fallujah began here Sunday night as American Special Forces and Iraqi troops burst into Fallujah General Hospital and seized it within an hour." Of course, this information was immediately followed by the usual parroting of U.S. military propaganda, "At 10:00 P.M., Iraqi troops clambered off seven-ton trucks, sprinting with American Special Forces soldiers around the side of the main building of the hospital, considered a refuge for insurgents and a centre of propaganda against allied forces, entering the complex to bewildered looks from patients and employees."

Harb al-Mukhtar, my interpreter and driver, arrived at my hotel the next morning in a somber mood. "How can we live like this, we are trapped in our own country. You know Dahr, everyone is praying for God to take revenge on the Americans. Everyone!" He said even in their private prayers people were praying for God to take vengeance on the Americans for what they were doing in Fallujah. "Everyone I've talked to the last couple of nights, 80 or 90 people, have admitted that they are doing this," he said as I collected my camera and notepad to prepare to leave. Out on the streets of Baghdad, the anxiety was palpable. The threat of being kidnapped or car bombed, or simply robbed, relentlessly played on our minds as Harb and I went about conducting interviews that had been prearranged. We tried to minimize our time on the streets by returning to my hotel immediately on completing interviews. The security situation, already horrible, was deteriorating further with each passing day.

That night, when Salam Talib arrived at my hotel to work on a radio dispatch with me, he had a wild look in his eyes and sweat beads on his forehead. "My friend has just been killed, and he was one of my best friends," he said staring out my window. Salam went on to tell me that a relative of another of his friends had been missing for six days. "This morning, his body was brought to his family by someone who found it on the road. The body had been shot twice in the chest and twice in the head. There were visible signs of torture, and the four bullet shells that were used to kill him had been placed in his trouser pockets. This news has driven me crazy, Dahr. The number of people killed here is growing so fast every day," he said, his hands raised in that familiar gesture of despair. "When I was a child, it was common to have some family member who was killed in the war with Iran. But now, it feels as though everyone is dying every day."

Not yet one full week into the latest assault on Fallujah, the flames of resistance had engulfed much of Baghdad and other areas in Iraq. In Baghdad alone, neighborhoods like Amiriyah, Abu Ghraib, Adhamiya and al-Dora had fallen mostly under the control of the resistance. In these areas, and much of the rest of Baghdad, U.S. patrols were few and far between, since they were being attacked so often. People we interviewed showed no surprise at fighting having rapidly spread across other cities. It was expected, because the general belief was that the resistance had fled Fallujah prior to the siege. Most of the fighters had melted away to other areas to choose effective methods to strike the enemy. Fighting had thus spread across much of Baghdad, Baquba, Latafiya, Ramadi, Samarra, Mosul, Khaldiya and Kirkuk just days into Operation Phantom Fury.

Media repression

Media repression during the second siege of Fallujah was intense. The "100 Orders" penned by former U.S. administrator Bremer included Order 65, passed on March 20, 2004, which established an Iraqi communications and media commission. This commission had powers to control the media because it had complete control over licensing and regulating telecommunications, broadcasting, information services, and media establishments. On June 28, when the U.S. handed over power to a "sovereign" Iraqi interim government, Bremer simply passed on his authority to Iyad Allawi, who had long-standing ties with the British intelligence service MI6 and the CIA. The media commission sent out an order just after the assault on Fallujah commenced ordering news organizations to "stick to the government line on the U.S.-led offensive in Fallujah or face legal action". The warning was circulated on Allawi's letterhead. The letter also asked the media in Iraq to "set aside space in your news coverage to make the position of the Iraqi government, which expresses the aspirations of most Iraqis, clear".

On the ground, aside from the notorious bombing and then banning of al-Jazeera, other instances of media repression were numerous. A journalist for the al-Arabiya network, who attempted to get inside Fallujah, was detained by the military, as was a French freelance photographer named Corentin Fleury, who was staying at my hotel. Fleury, a soft-spoken, wiry man, was detained by the U.S. military along with his interpreter, 28-year-old Bahktiyar Abdulla Hadad, when they were leaving Fallujah just before the siege of the city began. They had worked in the city for nine days leading up to the siege, and were held for five days in a military detention facility outside the city.

"They were very nervous and they asked us what we had seen, and looked through all my photos, asking me questions about them," he said as we talked in my room one night. He told me he had photographed homes destroyed by U.S. warplanes. Despite appeals by the French government to the U.S. military to free his translator and return Fleury's confiscated camera equipment and his photos, there had been no luck in attaining either. (When I had last seen Fleury in February 2005, Hadad was still being held by the U.S. military.)

The military was maintaining a strict cordon around most of Fallujah. As I could not enter the city, I set out to interview doctors and patients who had fled and were presently working in various hospitals around Baghdad. While visiting Yarmouk Hospital looking for more information about Fallujah, I came across several children from areas south of Baghdad. One of these was a 12-year-old girl, Fatima Harouz, from Latifiya. She lay dazed in a crowded hospital room, limply waving her bruised arm at the flies. Her shins, shattered by bullets from U.S. soldiers when they fired through the front door of her house, were both covered by casts. Small plastic drainage bags filled with red fluid sat upon her abdomen, where she took shrapnel from another bullet. Her mother told us, "They attacked our home, and there weren't even any resistance fighters in our area."

Victims' testament

Fatima's uncle was shot and killed, his wife had been wounded, and their home was ransacked by soldiers. "Before they left, they killed all our chickens." A doctor who was with us looked at me and asked, "This is the freedom. In their Disneyland are there kids just like this?"

Another young woman, Rana Obeidy, had been walking home in Baghdad with her brother two nights earlier. She assumed the soldiers had shot her and her brother because he was carrying a bottle of soda. She had a chest wound where a bullet had grazed her, but had struck her little brother and killed him. In another room, a small boy from Fallujah lay on his stomach. Shrapnel from a grenade thrown into his home by a U.S. soldier had entered his body through his back and was implanted near his kidney. An operation had successfully removed the shrapnel, but his father had been killed by what his mother described as "the haphazard shooting of the Americans". The boy, Amin, lay in his bed vacillating between crying with pain and playing with his toy car.

Later, I found myself at a small but busy supply centre in Baghdad set up to distribute goods to refugees from Fallujah. Standing in an old, one-storey building that used to be a vegetable market, I watched as people walked around wearily to obtain basic foodstuffs, blankets or information about housing. "They kicked all the journalists out of Fallujah so they could do whatever they want," said Kassem Mohammed Ahmed, who had escaped from Fallujah three days before. "The first thing they did was bomb the hospitals because that is where the wounded have to go. Now we see that wounded people are in the street and the soldiers are rolling their tanks over them. This happened so many times. What you see on the TV is nothing. That is just one camera. What you cannot see is much more."

There were also stories of soldiers not discriminating between civilians and resistance fighters. Another man, Abdul Razaq Ismail, had arrived from Fallujah one week earlier and had been helping with the distribution of supplies to other refugees, having received similar help himself. Loading a box with blankets to send to a refugee camp, he said, "There are dead bodies on the ground and nobody can bury them. The Americans are dropping some of the bodies into the Euphrates River near Fallujah. They are pulling some bodies with tanks and leaving them at the soccer stadium." Another man sat nearby nodding his head. He couldn't stop crying. After a while, he said he wanted to talk to us. "They bombed my neighborhood and we used car jacks to raise the blocks of concrete to get dead children out from under them."

Another refugee, Abu Sabah, an older man in a torn shirt and dusty pants, told of how he escaped with his family, just the day before, while soldiers shot bullets over their heads, killing his cousin. "They used these weird bombs that first put up smoke in a cloud, and then small pieces fell from the air with long tails of smoke behind them. These exploded on the ground with large fires that burned for half an hour. They used these near the train tracks. When anyone touched those fires, their body burned for hours."

This was the first time I had heard a refugee describing the use of white phosphorous incendiary weapons by the U.S. military, fired from artillery into Fallujah. Though it is not technically a banned weapon, it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions to use white phosphorous in an area where civilians may be hit. I heard similar descriptions in the coming days and weeks, both from refugees and doctors who had fled the city.

Several doctors I interviewed had told me they had been instructed by the interim government not to speak to any journalists about the patients they were receiving from Fallujah. A few of them told me they had even been instructed by the Shia-controlled Ministry of Health not to accept patients from Fallujah.

That night I interviewed a spokesman for the Iraq Red Crescent, who told me none of their relief teams had been allowed into Fallujah, and the military said it would be at least two more weeks before any refugees would be allowed back into their city. Collecting information from doctors in the city, he had estimated that at least 800 civilians had been killed so far in the siege.

The second assault on Fallujah was a monument to brutality and atrocity made in the United States of America. Like the Spanish city of Guernica during the 1930s, and Grozny in the 1990s, Fallujah is our monument of excess and overkill. It was soon to become, even for many in the U.S. military, a textbook case of the wrong way to handle a resistance movement. Another case of winning the battle and losing the war.

Conquerors' truth

I would like to say that I decided to go to Iraq for philosophical reasons, because I believe that an informed citizenry is the bedrock of any healthy democracy. But I went to Iraq for personal reasons. I was tormented by the fact that the government of my country illegally invaded and then occupied a country that it had bombed in 1991. Because the government of my country had asphyxiated Iraq with more than a decade's worth of "genocidal" sanctions (in the words of former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Denis Halliday). The government of my country then told lies, which were obediently repeated by an unquestioning media in order to justify the invasion and occupation. I felt that I had blood on my hands because the government had been left unchecked.

My going to Iraq was an act of desperation that has since transformed itself into a bond to that country and so many of her people. There were stories there that begged to be heard and told again. We are defined by story. Our history, our memory, our perceptions of the future, are all built and held within stories. As a U.S. citizen complicit in the devastation of Iraq, I was already bound up in the story of that country. I decided to go to learn what that story really was.

While the vast majority of the reporting of Iraq was provided by journalists availing themselves of the Pentagon-sponsored "embed" program, I chose to look for stories of real life and "embed" myself with the Iraqi people. The U.S. military side of the occupation is overly represented by most mainstream outlets. I consciously decided to focus on the Iraqi side of the story. The story of the many oppressed peoples of the world is rarely recorded by the few who oppress. We are taught that the truth is objective fact as written down by the conquerors.

The above is extracted from Beyond the Green Zone: Despatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, £13.99), which is available from November 8, 2007


3) Chrysler to Cut 11,000 Jobs and Drop Models
November 1, 2007

DETROIT, Nov. 1 — Chrysler LLC said today that it would cut up to 10,000 more hourly jobs, eliminate 1,000 salaried positions, and discontinue shifts at five assembly plants in the United States and Canada, in the first major steps under its new private owners.

The company also is dropping four models from its lineup, including the convertible version of its PT Cruiser sport wagon, as well as the Chrysler Pacifica, a crossover vehicle criticized as being too big and too expensive for family buyers.

Also leaving the lineup are the Dodge Magnum, a low-slung station wagon, and the Chrysler Crossfire two-seater. Both those vehicles are based on underpinnings from Mercedes-Benz, which is owned by Chrysler’s former parent, Daimler.

The job cuts, which will take effect through 2008, are in addition to a plan announced in February that would eliminate 13,000 North American positions. Altogether, they represent a 30 percent reduction in Chrysler’s 2006 work force of 80,000.

Today’s cuts, though expected, were more than twice as deep as some industry analysts anticipated.

The actions were announced less than a week after Chrysler workers narrowly approved a new contract with the automaker, which was reached following a six-hour strike.

Robert L. Nardelli, who was named Chrysler’s chief executive in August, when the company was sold to Cerberus Capital Management, said today that the cuts were needed because of shifts in buyer demand since the original plan was announced.

“The market situation has changed dramatically,” he said.

In February, industry sales were running at an annual rate of 17.2 million vehicles.

But Mr. Nardelli said sales had softened since then and the company expected the slower pace to continue into 2008. Chrysler said today that its auto sales in October dropped 12.5 percent from 2006 on an adjusted basis.

Many analysts and the auto companies expect industry sales to be in a range of 16 million vehicles this year and next.

“We have to move now to adjust the way our company looks and acts to reflect a smaller market,” added Thomas W. LaSorda, the automaker’s co-president. “That means a cost base that is right-sized and an appropriate level of plant utilization.”

Chrysler said the cuts at its factories would affect 8,500 to 10,000 workers. It said it would eliminate third shifts at plants in Belvidere, Ill., Toledo, Ohio, and Brampton, Ontario.

It also is eliminating the second shift of workers at the Jefferson North plant in Detroit and its plant in Sterling Heights, Mich.

The company also said it would reduce a shift at its Mack Avenue engine plant in Detroit, which has been working on three shifts.

As part of the announcement, Chrysler reiterated plans to add two new models to its lineup, the Dodge Journey, a crossover vehicle, and the Dodge Challenger sports car. It also said it would build hybrid-electric versions of the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango, two sport utility models.

“These actions reflect our new customer-driven philosophy and allow us to focus our resources on new, more profitable and appealing products,” added James Press, Chrysler’s other co-president. “Further, these product actions are all in response to dealer requests.”

The Canadian Auto Workers union president, Basil Hargrove, called the job cuts an “absolute disaster.”

“This is a huge hit to us,” he said during a news conference this morning in Toronto.


4) Crack Cocaine Jail Terms to Be Shorter
November 1, 2007

Filed at 1:57 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- New federal sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine offenders went into effect Thursday, lowering the recommended sentencing range for people caught with the drug.

The new U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines for those possessing 5 grams or more of crack cocaine are prison terms of 51 months to 63 months, down from the old range of 63 months to 78 months. The new range for offenders possessing at least 50 grams is 97 months to 121 months in prison, down from 121 months to 151 months. Those ranges apply for first-time crack-cocaine convictions.

In April, the commission voted for the lower recommended sentencing ranges for those caught with crack cocaine. The recommendation sent to Capitol Hill on May 1 became effective Thursday after 180 days of congressional review.

The reduction will be the focus of a Nov. 13 commission hearing to consider whether to make the lower guideline penalty retroactively available to 19,500 crack cocaine offenders who were sentenced previously.

Federal law sets a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence for trafficking in 5 grams of crack cocaine. It takes 500 grams of cocaine powder to warrant the same sentence. The crack-powder disparity has a strong racial dimension because more than four-fifths of crack cocaine offenders in federal courts last year were black.

A commission analysis estimated the change would reduce the size of the federal prison population by 3,800 in 15 years. Such a reduction would result in savings of over $87 million, according to The Sentencing Project, a private organization tracking the issue.

The sentencing commission is urging Congress to repeal the mandatory prison term for simple possession and increase the amount of crack cocaine required to trigger five-year and 10-year mandatory minimum prison terms as a way to focus on major drug traffickers.

The mandatory five-year minimum trumps the lower end of the new guideline range that went into effect Thursday, meaning that the newly available range is 60 to 63 months. The same principle applies to the 10-year mandatory minimum, making the newly available range 120 to 121 months.


5) London Police Faulted in Shooting
Filed at 7:29 p.m. ET
November 1, 2007

LONDON (AP) -- London's police force was found guilty Thursday of endangering the public during a frantic manhunt for four failed suicide bombers that led to the killing of an innocent Brazilian man on a subway train.

Police had staked out an address belonging to two of the failed bombers at dawn on July 22, 2005. It was less than 24 hours after the attackers' devices failed to ignite on three subway cars and a double-decker bus. Police feared they were set on trying to strike again.

The manhunt unfolded with the British capital already on edge after four suicide bombers killed 52 commuters two weeks earlier.

The officers watching the building trailed Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, out of the apartments, suspecting he was one of the bombers. They followed him onto two buses, into a subway station and finally into a train. There, officers, believing he was a bomber, shot him seven times at close range in front of morning commuters.

On Thursday, a jury found police guilty of breaking health and safety laws. Judge Richard Henriques ordered the Metropolitan Police to pay a total of $2.1 million for breakdowns in the operation.

''One person died and many others were placed in potential danger,'' Henriques said after the verdict.

The judge acknowledged the manhunt had been ''a unique and difficult operation.''

''This was very much an isolated breach brought about by quite extraordinary circumstances,'' he said.

The force had denied the charge, saying the killing was an error, not a crime. Outside London's Central Criminal Court, police chief Ian Blair expressed ''my deep regret'' over de Menezes' death.

''No police officer set out on that day to shoot an innocent man,'' he said. ''I am certain that this death was the culmination of actions by many hands, all of whom were doing their best to handle a terrible threat facing London on that day -- a race against time to find the failed suicide bombers of the day before.''

Blair said he had no intention of resigning after the verdict. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he had ''full confidence'' in the police chief, despite opposition calls for Blair to step down.

Blair did not rule out an appeal.

No individual officers were charged over de Menezes' death. The foreman of the jury told the court that blame should not rest with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, the officer in charge of the operation.

Prosecutors claimed ''fundamental failures'' at all levels led to the death of de Menezes.

Police thought the Brazilian might have been Hussain Osman, who dropped his gym membership card at the scene of one of the failed attacks. An officer who was meant to identify him as he came out was away ''relieving himself,'' prosecutor Clare Montgomery told the court.

The surveillance officers asked the Scotland Yard control room several times if they should arrest him, but were told to wait for a firearms team to arrive, Montgomery said.

She described the chaos at police headquarters, claiming an officer responsible for listening to messages could not hear what was being said because colleagues not involved in the case crammed into the room to listen to events unfold.

Despite officers' doubts about his identity, Dick testified she was told five times that the man police were following was Osman.

An officer called out on the radio that the man being pursued was ''our man'' and was acting ''nervous and twitchy,'' a firearms officer testified.

The marksmen could be seen running down the subway station's escalator in security video footage shown to jurors.

A surveillance officer, identified as ''Ivor,'' described following de Menezes into the subway car, grabbing him and pinning him to his seat when he realized firearms officers were there. He shouted: ''Here he is.''

The armed officers shot de Menezes five times in the head, once in the neck and once in the shoulder. The jury was shown photos of de Menezes lying dead on the car's floor.

Police lawyer Ronald Thwaites told the jury that de Menezes was shot because he had behaved suspiciously and ''because when he was challenged by police he did not comply with them but reacted precisely as they had been briefed a suicide bomber might react at the point of detonating his bomb.''


6) Blackwater Mounts a Defense With Top Talent
November 1, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 — Blackwater Worldwide, its reputation in tatters and its lucrative government contracts in jeopardy, is mounting an aggressive legal, political and public relations counterstrike.

It has hired a bipartisan stable of big-name Washington lawyers, lobbyists and press advisers, including the public relations powerhouse Burson-Marsteller, which was brought in briefly, but at a critical moment, to help Blackwater’s chairman, Erik D. Prince, prepare for his first Congressional hearing.

Blackwater for a time retained Kenneth D. Starr, the former Whitewater independent counsel, and Fred F. Fielding, who is now the White House counsel, to help handle suits filed by the families of slain Blackwater employees.

Another outside public relations specialist, Mark Corallo, former chief spokesman for Attorney General John Ashcroft, quit working for Blackwater late last year because he said he was uncomfortable with what he termed some executives’ cowboy mentality.

Blackwater is pursuing a bold legal strategy, going so far in a North Carolina case as to seek a gag order on the lawyers for the families of four Blackwater employees killed in an ambush in Falluja in 2004. The company argues that the dead men had signed contracts that prohibited them from talking to the press about Blackwater and that this restriction extended to their lawyers and their estates even after death.

One of Blackwater’s Washington lawyers is Beth Nolan, who served as White House counsel for the last two years of the Clinton administration. (Ms. Nolan is leaving private practice at the end of November to become general counsel at George Washington University.) Another is Stephen M. Ryan, a top white-collar defense lawyer and former general counsel of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

The company’s chief Washington lobbyist is Paul Behrends, who worked at the now-defunct Alexander Strategy Group, a Republican firm with close ties to the jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Mr. Behrends, who now works at C & M Capitolink, a Washington lobbying firm, declined to discuss his work for Blackwater, which has paid his company $300,000 since last year.

Anne E. Tyrrell, the company’s chief spokeswoman (and the daughter of R. Emmett Tyrrell, the longtime editor of the conservative magazine American Spectator), said that Blackwater was more comfortable operating in the shadows, but that it decided that it had to strike back publicly. She said, however, that she was not sure that the blitz was succeeding.

“It’s not as if we woke up one day and said it’s time to get out there,” she said. “We were put there. But there’s only so much you can do in one month, as opposed to 10 years of largely remaining silent.”

“There’s still a lot of misinformation out there,” she added, “but I think we have taken positive steps toward correcting the record.”

In the aftermath of the Sept. 16 shootings in Baghdad that Iraqi authorities said left 17 Iraqis dead, the formerly reclusive Mr. Prince has conducted a series of media interviews intended to polish Blackwater’s tarnished brand. The company has changed the name of its major operating division from Blackwater USA to Blackwater Worldwide and toned down its warlike logo. It has sent out a mass e-mail message to workers, suppliers and clients hoping to inspire them to send letters to members of Congress and make other public statements of support.

As reports poured out of Baghdad about the September shootings by several Blackwater guards, the company felt it could not adequately defend itself. The company operates under confidentiality agreements with the State Department, which employs 845 Blackwater guards to protect its diplomats in Iraq. But after Mr. Prince testified for more than three hours before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Oct. 2, the company said it felt free to speak out.

“It was no picnic to keep our contractual obligations not to talk,” said one person close to Blackwater, who insisted on not being named. “We wrote the book on how not to get good P.R.”

In the days leading up to the hearing before the oversight panel, which is led by Representative Henry A. Waxman, a liberal California Democrat who has no love for Blackwater, the company hired Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations firm. Blackwater said it hired the company on a temporary basis to help prepare Mr. Prince for his testimony.

Mark J. Penn, Burson-Marsteller’s chairman and a senior adviser to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, said in an e-mail message that he had no direct contact with Blackwater and that the work was landed by BKSH, a subsidiary. BKSH is a political consulting firm led by Charles R. Black Jr., an adviser to President Bush and his father, and R. Scott Pastrick, a top Democratic fund-raiser. Mr. Penn said that a BKSH associate had worked briefly in Iraq and met several Blackwater personnel, who steered the work to his firm.

In the days following the hearing, Blackwater began its media offensive. Because Mr. Prince had been required to speak publicly about his firm before Congress, Blackwater officials reasoned that they could now go to the news media.

They mounted an impressive publicity campaign, granting a series of interviews with Mr. Prince in quick succession to, among others, the CBS program “60 Minutes”; CNN; NBC; PBS; The Washington Post; and The Detroit Free Press. The central message in all of the interviews was that Blackwater was doing only what the State Department asked it to do, that it had not lost a single official under its protection while 30 Blackwater guards had been killed, and that if the company lost its $1.2 billion contract with the State Department it would find other ways to make money.

Blackwater officials clearly believe that Mr. Prince, a young, clean-cut former member of the Navy Seals, is their best asset as they try to dig out from their public relations hole. “It just got to the point where we all decided it was time to defend the company and there is no one better to do that than Mr. Prince,” Ms. Tyrrell said.

Mr. Prince’s appearances helped dispel the notion, as one Blackwater insider put it, “that he would be some guy with a peg leg and a parrot on his shoulder and an eye patch.”

The company also released two detailed reports about two of its most controversial operations, the Falluja ambush in 2004 and the crash of a Blackwater-operated military flight in Afghanistan that same year that killed six people. The papers were intended to rebut staff reports from Mr. Waxman’s committee. The company, citing current investigations, has not produced a similar report about the September shootings in Baghdad.

But the company still suffers from the image that its workers are reckless gunslingers charging around Iraq with impunity.

Mr. Corallo, the former Blackwater public relations adviser, said this image was due in part to the company’s culture and attitude.

He said he quit working for the company last year because of personality conflicts with some top executives, although he praised Mr. Prince as a “visionary.”

“They do have a few people at the upper levels of Blackwater who are a little bit unsophisticated and rather disdainful of anything that goes to oversight and due process,” he said. “The reason they get the caricature that’s been created is that they do have a few cowboys in their midst.”


7) 10-Year-Old With Matches Started a California Wildfire
November 1, 2007

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 31 — A 10-year-old boy admitted that he accidentally started one of the largest of last week’s Southern California wildfires while playing with matches, enforcement officials say.

The blaze, the Buckweed fire, started in the early afternoon of Oct. 21, in Agua Dulce, a rural community in the northern part of Los Angeles County. Fanned by high winds and hot, dry weather, it spread quickly, driving 15,000 people from their homes, destroying 21 houses and 22 other buildings, injuring three people and blackening more than 38,000 acres.

Investigators immediately began tracing the cause of the fire, and on Oct. 22 arson investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department talked with the suspect, whose name has not been released, a department spokesman, Steve Whitmore, said Wednesday. “It became known to them that they needed to speak with this young boy,” Mr. Whitmore said. “He acknowledged that he was playing with matches and accidentally, his words, set the fire.”

Mr. Whitmore would not discuss the case further before evidence was presented to the county district attorney’s office.

The youth was left in the custody of his parents, awaiting word on whether he would be prosecuted. If so, the case would be heard in the county’s juvenile justice system, said Sandi Gibbons, the public information officer for the district attorney’s office.

“We have had cases involving minors this young before” Ms. Gibbons said, recalling the case of a 10-year-old boy who was prosecuted for killing a bicycle-shop owner.

It was not clear Wednesday whether the boy’s parents could be held financially responsible for damage caused by the blaze, which has been fully contained.

Several adult arson suspects have been arrested in the seven counties affected by last week’s fires. “A 10-year-old boy is in a whole other psychic realm,” said Dr. Jeff Victoroff, associate professor of clinical neurology and psychiatry, at the University of Southern California. “At least one study suggests that if you take a population of boys between kindergarten and fourth grade, 60 percent of them have committed unsupervised fireplay, which is to say that fireplay is a common and absolutely normal part of human development.”


8) Supermodel Naomi Campbell "Amazed" at Venezuelan Social Programs
November 1st 2007, by Chris Carlson –

Mérida, November 1, 2007 ( Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez inaugurated the first stage of a new housing complex,
Commune Villa de Sol, in Caracas yesterday. The president was
accompanied by British supermodel Naomi Campbell who was in the country
to meet with Chavez and to learn about the Bolivarian Revolution.
Campbell expressed her amazement with the social programs of the Chavez

"I am amazed by what I have seen here in only 24 hours," said Campbell
after visiting the new Children's Heart Hospital in Caracas. "It's
marvelous to know and see what is being implemented here in Venezuela."

Campbell accompanied President Chavez on Wednesday as he inaugurated
housing for 120 families in a new apartment complex, Commune Villa de
Sol, in a lower-class sector of Caracas. A total of six apartment
buildings, of three-stories each, were handed over to families from the
surrounding community.

The local residents, who have been living in squalid conditions without
running water, bathrooms, or basic services for the last 25 years,
exchanged their old steel-container housing for modern apartments. Each
family will have a two year's grace period before having to begin
payments on their new homes, and will pay according to their income.

The first stage of the complex was built with a total investment of Bs.
8 billion (US$ 3.7 million) and includes telephone, gas, and electrical
service, as well as a preschool and center for "popular power" to
exercise communal government. The apartments vary between 3 and 4
bedrooms, and have 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room, and

Upon their arrival, Campbell and Chavez were greeted with applause and
cheers from the residents of the sector. The supermodel carried a tape
recorder and camera and asked many questions as Chavez's ministers
explained the project to move people out of the structurally dangerous
shanty houses and into the new complex.

Minister of Participation and Social Development David Velasquez
explained the concept of communal government that is exercised through
the Communal Councils in each community. According to Velasquez, there
are now more than 35,000 Communal Councils throughout the country, and
more than 1,500 communes that are already practicing communal power in
their communities. He explained that the Villa del Sol commune is an
example of this new political structure.

"Since the year before, and this year, we have been testing these
processes, and it has been shown that the people are capable of
efficiently managing and administrating resources and giving better
results in less time than private companies or even the very
institutions of the state," he explained.

Campbell applauded the social programs of the Chavez government and
emphasized in particular those programs directed toward the most
disadvantaged sectors of society. The British supermodel is a
representative of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and traveled to
Venezuela to discuss humanitarian topics with President Hugo Chavez, and
to see the Bolivarian Revolution first hand.

"I have been reading and listening to my friends, and I wanted to see it
for myself," she said in response to journalists. "I'm marveled, in only
24 hours here, to see all the love that is reflected in the social
programs that are extended especially to the women and children of this

Campbell interviewed Chavez in the presidential palace for four hours on
Tuesday, asking him "challenging questions," according to Chavez,
including whether Chavez believes the "empire is going to fall."
Campbell stated the possibility of organizing a future meeting between
the South African leader Nelson Mandela and the Venezuelan president.


9) Who Really Set the California Fires?
By Mike Davis,
Posted on November 1, 2007, Printed on November 2, 2007

You can't have too much of a good thing, so let me just quote Mike
Davis from 1998 to introduce Mike Davis 2007 on the California fires.
In Ecology of Fear, his 1998 book on southern California, he wrote
just about everything you'd ever need to know if you didn't want to
be surprised by the raging Santa Ana-driven wildfires of 2003 or
2007. After all, there's nothing new about the burning phenomenon on
what Davis then dubbed "the fire coast." "A great Malibu firestorm,"
he wrote, "could generate the heat of three million barrels of
burning oil at a temperature of 2,000 degrees." No wonder Cold War
era researchers used those California fires to model the behavior of
nuclear firestorms.

What remains eternally new (and yet utterly predictable, once you've
read Davis) is the increasing amount of tinder we put in the way of
such fires in "the suburban-chaparral border zone where wildfire is
king" -- and then the fierce fire-suppression campaigns that new,
wealthy homeowners in their privatized, gated communities,
McMansions, and McCastles demand, which only build further the fuel
for the fires that, even in the 1990s, were "becoming ever more
apocalyptic." Oh yes, and another thoroughly predictable thing: After
hundreds, or thousands, of houses burn, the search for villains
begins not among the politicians and developers, pushing human
habitation ever deeper into the lands of the firestorm, but for
arsonists, "although probably not more than one in eight blazes is
caused by arson." The shape of the shape-shifting arsonist has
changed over the years: more or less in historical order, according
to Davis, they have been Indians, sheepherders, tramps, Wobblies,
Okies, "Axis saboteurs," and, in our own time, environmentalists,
(indirectly) endangered and protected species, gays, and terrorists.
The search for arsonists is, of course, on again -- and one has so
far been identified, a boy, possibly only 10 years old, playing with
matches whose case is now being turned over to the district attorney
for possible prosecution.

And finally, it's predictable that "the essential land-use issue, the
rampant, uncontrolled proliferation of firebelt suburbs," is ignored;
while, in the rush to fight the ensuing fires, vast sums of taxpayer
money are functionally spent on luxury enclaves and gated hilltop
suburbs. As Davis concluded back in 1998, but might as well have
written last night, "Needless to say, there is no comparable
investment in the fire, toxic, or earthquake safety of inner-city
communities. Instead, as in so many things, we tolerate two systems
of hazard prevention, separate and unequal."

And the worst of it is that "fire itself accelerates gentrification"
in those former wildlands. Charred hillside? All the better to build,
my dear...

The fate of prophets is, of course, to be ignored. Nobody raises
statues to them. -- Tomdispatch Editor, Tom Engelhardt

San Diego Builds a Statue to an Arsonist Developers with Matches

By Mike Davis

This August, just as the first Santa Ana winds bent the boughs of the
eucalyptus trees in Balboa Park, 500 wealthy business people and
Republican Party donors raised their champagne glasses to salute "Mr.
San Diego," Pete Wilson, as he unveiled a bronze statue of himself in
downtown's Horton Plaza. Wilson, of course, was the controversial,
immigrant-baiting governor of California during the nineties; but the
statute specifically apotheosizes his role as the political catalyst
for San Diego's "downtown renaissance" during his earlier three terms
as mayor of the city (1971-1983).

The 74-year-old Wilson, whose preppy appearance leads strangers to
mistake him for an aging member of the Kingston Trio, recalled the
bad old days -- before million-dollar condos and billionaire
developers took over downtown -- when the nearby "Gaslight District"
was a "haven for saloons and tattoo parlors." He praised the memory
of his friend and crucial ally in remaking downtown, developer Ernest
Hahn, whose statue adjoins his. But it was difficult to make out his
words since, across the plaza, several hundred demonstrators, an
inspiring coalition of young Latinos and gays, were beating drums,
blowing whistles, and chanting "racist!" Some of Wilson's admirers
blistered, but Mr. San Diego was characteristically gracious about
free speech: "Horses asses," he laughed.

He was cheered by a small group of counter-protestors belonging to
one of the Minutemen sects. Although far too scruffy to be invited to
join the champagne drinkers, they nonetheless idolize the former
governor as the Paul Revere of the Brown Peril (especially for his
notorious television reelection ad: "They keep coming..."), as well
as the chief megaphone for the passage of Proposition 187 in 1994
which -- had it not been stopped in the courts -- would have expelled
immigrant kids from their kindergartens and kicked their mothers out
of maternity wards.

It is unclear, however, whether either the immigrant-rights activists
or their Minutemen opponents were aware that what they were
protesting or applauding was actually self-deification. As the San
Diego Union-Tribune (the Copley franchise that has had a total
monopoly of the city's daily newspaper market since 1938) reported
the next day: "The land under the Wilson and Horton statues is owned
by the Irvine Co., the Orange County real estate giant that bought
the property recently. Wilson is a member of the company's board of

Most of my friends dream of the day when we can give that statue the
same shove that brought down the Colonne de Vendôme in Paris in 1871
or Saddam Hussein's statue in Firdos Square in Baghdad in 2003, but I
demur. I think we should simply chisel the word "arsonist" in large
letters at the base of the Bronze Pete.

No, I am not suggesting that the ex-governor was seen lurking in the
shadow of Palomar or hiding behind an oak at Witch Creek as the fires
began to burn -- although who knows what he does with his time when
he isn't recruiting for Rudy Giuliani? But, as the protestors rightly
won't let the world forget, he deliberately ignited California's
nativist underbrush in the early 1990s and started a conflagration of
immigrants' rights that now engulfs Latino communities across the
United States.

With unctuous arrogance, he mainstreamed Mexican-bashing and opened a
Pandora 's Box of California's vigilante past. The Minutemen are one
bastard legacy of his; another is public gullibility in the face of
absurd rumors and bogus "CNN" press releases ("Mexicans with Molotov
cocktails" and the like) that are currently being blogged back and
forth across dirty cyberspace. And we should not forget that Wilson
was personal trainer, sage, and guru to Schwarzenegger in those early
days of 2003 and 2004 when Arnie was praising the Minutemen as
"heroes." (The Gubernator, of course, has since been reprogrammed to
the political center by Maria Shriver and her technicians.)

But the Wilson legacy also includes an important, if more complex,
responsibility for the pattern of urban growth in the San Diego
region that now collides so catastrophically with wildfire. As a
so-called liberal Republican, even "green" San Diego mayor during the
1970s and early 1980s, he was the chief architect of an enduring
system of trade-offs, elite alliances, and sleights of hand that has
simultaneously gentrified the downtown area at the expense of the
poor and overrun much of San Diego's countryside with pyrophiliac
gated suburbs and elite estates -- all the while winning accolades
for state-of-the-art "growth management."

In the wake of the auto-da-fé of the city's old guard in the early
1970s (including the arrest and conviction of its two most powerful
business figures), Wilson -- initially allied with wealthy Democrats
-- skillfully overhauled a geriatric City Hall and soothed the
alienation of angry neighborhood homeowners. He slowed piecemeal
growth at the urban periphery, which impressed the Sierra Club and
environmental voters, although the real logic behind these moves was
to transfer control over metropolitan growth from smaller developers
to giant companies with the financial resources to undertake the
phased construction of upscale suburbs and edge cities.

Wilson's 1976 masterstroke, however, was to horse-trade development
rights along the city's northern flanks for new investment in the
downtown's faltering redevelopment scheme. Thus, he bartered the
beautiful mesas across Interstate 5 from the University of
California, San Diego, to (fellow statue) Ernest Hahn (who promptly
constructed "University City") in exchange for the latter's agreement
to redevelop Horton Plaza downtown. A similar quid pro quo was
negotiated for the development of an adjacent "protected" open space
as the Pardee Company's "North City West."

These were not just a set of ad hoc deals but a consistent template
for an unmatched fusion of real estate and politics. The typical
American big-city pattern is chronic competition and political
friction between downtown interests and edge developers; in San
Diego, by contrast, Wilson brought the suburban builders downtown and
so created a unitary and powerful growth machine which, in turn, has
greased his wheels and those of his many protégés and successors.
(Indeed, Wilson's reputation as the "strongest mayor in San Diego
history" is attested by the continued zeal with which all white, male
Republicans, including the present mayor and his predecessor, profess
loyalty to his achievements.)

This hypertrophying of developer power, which Wilson
institutionalized and willed to future generations, has easily
survived small popular insurrections against the impact of sprawl and
congestion, just as it has surmounted unremitting scandal and
corruption in local politics. Pete Wilson's successors have
specialized in giving away one priceless city asset after another --
the former Naval Training Center, the Broadway pier, the Fairbanks
Ranch, Petco Park, among many others) to the same small elite of
billionaires. They are even discussing privatizing the management of
San Diego's incomparable Balboa Park.

The imbalance of power is greater yet at the county scale. In the
wake of the last round of firestorms in 2003, a grassroots alliance
of environmentalists and old-time rural residents tried to slow the
subdivision and trophy-home juggernaut by limiting residential
density to one home per 100 acres: an initiative inspired by the
famous precedent of Oregon's Willamette Valley. They were, however,
utterly crushed at the polls (65% to 35%) by a flood of developer
money, which disguised itself in ads on television as the voice of
embattled "small farmers."

More recently, on the very eve of the new firestorms, county
supervisors endorsed a so-called "shelter in place" strategy that
will permit developers to build in the rugged, high-fire-risk
backcountry without having to provide the secondary roads needed to
ensure safe evacuation. Instead residents would be encouraged to stay
in their "fire resistant" homes while fire-fighters defended the
perimeter of their cul-de-sac. As scores of fire experts and
survivors have pointed out in angry op-ed columns and blogs, this is
a lunatic, if not homicidal, scheme that elevates developers'
bottom-lines over human life. Those who have actually confronted
100-foot-high firestorms, driven by hurricane-velocity winds, know
that the developer slogan -- "It's not where you build, but how you
build" -- is a deadly deception.

Meanwhile, the new fire cataclysm seems to be rewarding the very
insiders most responsible for the uncontrolled building and
underfunded fire protection that helped give the Santa Ana winds
their real tinder. While conservative ideologues now celebrate San
Diego's most recent tragedy as a "triumph" of middle-class values and
suburban solidarity, the business community openly gloats over the
coming reconstruction boom and the revival of a building industry
badly shaken by the mortgage crisis. And the Union-Tribune -- like
London papers after the slaughter that was the battle of the Somme in
1915 -- eulogizes the very generalship (all Republicans, of course)
that led us into disaster. I suppose these heroes already envision
their statues in Horton Plaza.

Copyright 2007 Mike Davis

Mike Davis, who teaches urban history at U.C. Irvine, grew up in the
now incinerated backcountry of San Diego County. His other articles
about the recent Southern California fires will soon be published in
the Nation and the London Review of Books. His most recent book is In
Praise of Barbarians: Essays Against Empire (Haymarket 2007).© 2007
Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved. View this story
online at:


10) The noose -- a symbol of hatred -- reappears
Posted on Fri, Nov. 02, 2007

The man rushed over after church services one Sunday a few weeks ago to tell Pastor Carl Brooks about the noose dangling from a pole on a quiet street just outside Punta Gorda.

Needing to see it for himself, Brooks drove by. The noose hung in the yard beneath a Confederate flag, made pastel by the sun, and Brooks sat in his car recalling a lifetime of hurt. He remembered the 20-gauge shotgun pressed to the back of his head for using a whites-only toilet; the KKK flag burnings on both shoulders of a highway in North Carolina; all the slurs and taunts.

The noose, an enduring symbol of hate born more than a century ago in the Deep South, has made an ugly return, with authorities pointing to a racially hued controversy in Jena, La., as the origin of this new wave.

''Just a reminder that racism is alive and doing well,'' Brooks, a former Marine, says resignedly. ``There's no mistaking what a noose means.''

Civil rights leaders in Miami-Dade County called for an investigation Thursday of a noose found last month at a county facility.

Across the nation, nooses -- seen as coiled ropes of racial terror by blacks -- have been left at universities and offices, theaters and historic ships, fire houses and police stations and on a bronzed statue of the late rapper Tupac Shakur.

The most prominent incident happened in Jena, when the discovery of a noose hanging from a schoolyard tree escalated into a student brawl. Eventually, six black teens -- known as the Jena Six -- were charged in the beating of a white student.

Now, as federal authorities investigate individual cases, a larger question arises: What do the nooses represent? Some consider them a barometer of American race relations. Others call them misguided, childish pranks to which people have overreacted.

''The noose is replacing the burning cross in the minds of many white people as the primary symbol of the Klan,'' says Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project for the South Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.

Potok said in a typical year, about half a dozen noose cases are reported. This year, ''we know of about 50 already,'' he said. ``I think this represents a fairly broad and deep white reaction to Jena Six. They believe the events in Jena were distorted by a politically correct machine.''

Last week, national civil rights leaders lobbied Congress to add noose-related incidents to hate-crime statutes and to stiffen penalties.

''Hanging nooses or hanging people or swastikas -- these are provocative hate crimes,'' the Rev. Jesse Jackson told The Associated Press. ``Unless justice is a deterrent, this hatred will spread.''


To protest the noose cases and other injustices, a coalition of leaders, radio personalities and professionals called on blacks to show economic muscle by not shopping Friday. They also announced a Nov. 16 march on the nation's capital.

''In the history of the civil rights movements, we have often had to appeal to the federal government to intervene. That was certainly the case during my father's era of leadership,'' Martin Luther King III said in published reports.

``The march . . . is an appeal to the federal government to do something about the crimes, such as the nooses that seem to be popping up all over the nation.''

The Jena case started at the beginning of school last year when a black student asked the vice principal if he could sit under the ''white tree.'' He was told to sit wherever he chose. The next day, three nooses were hanging from the oak.

And in December, with racial tension already simmering, six black students jumped a white boy. He was taken to the hospital but was able to attend a class ring ceremony later that day. The black students were charged with attempted murder.

The case grew into a cause celebré as people across the nation questioned the stiff charges and what they believed was uneven justice delivered in the South. Others contended that the case involved teen pranks and fights unfairly blown out of proportion into a national litmus test on race.

What few would deny is that the sight of a noose still sends shivers through the black community.

Between 1882 and 1968, there were a documented 4,743 lynchings in the United States. Most of the victims were black men.

''There are people who don't understand the history and enormity of the role lynchings playing in this country,'' says Carmen Van Kerckhove, who runs New Demographic, an anti-racism training company. ``What's most shocking is when you learn lynchings were treated as celebratory. The entire community would come out and make a day of it. They would sometimes refer to them as picnics and bring food.''

She added: ``In photos, you see these charred bodies hanging from a tree, and there was a crowd, including children, smiling.''

Now the noose has returned to the nation's consciousness.

Nooses have been looped over a tree at the University of Maryland; tied around the neck of Shakur's likeness in Stone Mountain, Ga.; draped on the doorknob of a black Columbia University professor's office; hung in the locker room of a Long Island police station. They have been found in a black Coast Guard cadet's bag on a historic ship and in a Manhattan post office near Ground Zero.

Last year, nooses were discovered in the gear of two black firefighters in Jacksonville, prompting a monthslong investigation. No one was charged.


And Thursday, Miami-Dade civil rights leaders held a press conference demanding a county investigation after a noose was found hanging from the ceiling of a county water and sewer treatment plant in North Miami-Dade.

''We are outraged. We are not trying to exacerbate or create any more tension, but we feel the pain that Jews feel when they see a swastika, or a Cuban feels when Fidel Castro is celebrated. It's the same pain we feel when a noose is found,'' says Richard P. Dunn, president of P.U.L.S.E., a civil rights organization.

``We are going to the county commission to demand a zero tolerance of hate. We want an investigation and sensitivity training. Somebody needs to be charged for this.''

In Punta Gorda, Brooks led a caravan of church parishioners to see the noose hanging in the yard. It has since been taken down.

''I took them to see our history, to learn about how ugly it was,'' Brooks says.

It was a ride he wishes he didn't have to take:

``It's a shame that we are having this conversation in 2007.''


11) M.T.A. Asks for Restoration of Automatic Dues Payment
"“The mayor’s right. The M.T.A. should accept nothing less than an unequivocal pledge from them as a union renouncing the strike as a weapon, period.”
November 2, 2007

After a 60-hour strike that halted subway and bus service in 2005, a state judge penalized the Transport Workers Union by taking away its most powerful money-raising tool: automatic collection of dues from members’ paychecks.

The judge said the union could regain the automatic collection, which brings in millions, only if the union local’s leadership explicitly agreed that it did not have the right to strike again. A state statute, the Taylor Law, prohibits strikes by public employees.

However, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has now made a major concession by urging the judge to permit the union to resume the withdrawals, even though the authority said it did not think the union had made a firm promise not to strike.

In court papers made public yesterday, the authority said it was hoping to achieve labor harmony.

Its switch has so infuriated city officials that the Bloomberg administration stepped in later yesterday, asking the judge to keep the punishment in place until union leaders “once and for all time declare unequivocally that they may not, and will not, ever again engage in a strike.”

The day’s dizzying developments reflected the bitter feelings that still linger from the strike, which lasted from early morning Dec. 20 through the afternoon of Dec. 22, playing havoc with the holiday shopping season and forcing millions of people to walk, bicycle or find another way to get to work.

The president of the union’s Local 100, Roger Toussaint, lashed out yesterday at Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and authority officials, who he said were playing politics by refusing to allow the union to resume dues collection without any further restrictions.

“It’s time to put this matter behind us and not draw it out yet again,” Mr. Toussaint said in a written statement.

It was Mr. Toussaint’s words in an affidavit submitted to State Supreme Court in Brooklyn in late September that fueled yesterday’s developments.

In the affidavit, Mr. Toussaint acknowledged that the state’s Taylor Law bars strikes by government employees. And taking language directly from state statutes, he said, “The union does not assert the right to strike” against the authority or any other government agency.

The authority’s request to the judge, filed by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, said Mr. Toussaint’s acknowledgment “falls short of a commitment” not to strike again. But it said that the authority was concerned that continuing to deprive the union of dues would prevent it from adequately representing its members and would damage the authority’s efforts to repair relations with the union.

The city’s chief lawyer, Michael A. Cardozo, had no such reservations and was caustic in denouncing what he termed Mr. Toussaint’s “lip service” on the issue of future strikes.

He pointed out that the union had struck three times since 1966, more than any other public union, and had threatened strikes on two other occasions.

“In the last 40 years there have been three brutal transit strikes,” Mr. Cardozo wrote. “In each instance the injunctions prohibiting the strikes have been ignored. This cannot be allowed to continue.”

He also said that the city would not accept a statement from Mr. Toussaint and that the union’s entire executive board should approve a pledge not to strike.

Elliot G. Sander, the chief executive of the transportation authority, said the issue had been discussed with Mr. Toussaint and with city officials.

“It looks like we disagreed with both the T.W.U. and the city,” Mr. Sander said. He quickly added the qualifier, “Respectfully.”

He said the authority had decided to ask that the dues collection be restored as part of its efforts to improve labor relations, which hit a low point over the strike and have improved markedly in recent months.

“This position recognizes that the strike in 2005 was a major dislocation to the city and that the union broke the law,” Mr. Sander said. “On the other hand, it is important to the M.T.A. and to the public that we have a functional union, and the T.W.U. and the M.T.A. have taken some very good steps to rebuild our relationship.”

He said it was a “fair compromise” to ask the court to suspend the penalty under the condition that it could be reinstated swiftly if the union threatened to strike.

The city was not alone, however, in saying the union should be asked to state plainly that it would change its ways.

“Given this union’s history, it’s a huge mistake to let them off the canvas,” said Edmund J. McMahon, a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative research organization. “The mayor’s right. The M.T.A. should accept nothing less than an unequivocal pledge from them as a union renouncing the strike as a weapon, period.”

Automatic dues collection, known as dues check-off, did not halt until June this year, because the union had asked the court to allow it to continue receiving dues while it paid a $2.5 million fine assessed as an additional punishment for the strike.

Since June, the union has had to ask its members to pay their dues in other ways, like signing up to have them transferred electronically from personal bank accounts. In papers submitted to the court, the union said its collections from June through August were $1.1 million below what they would have been if the automatic collections had been allowed to continue. It said it had laid off some staff workers.

The union has also said it has halted many of its activities on behalf of its members, resulting in a backlog of grievance hearings and other matters.

The union lost its dues check-off after an 11-day strike in 1980, but it was restored four months later.


12) Job Cuts at Chrysler Go Even Deeper Than Expected
November 2, 2007

DETROIT, Nov. 1 — Over the last two years, the three American auto companies have vowed that their plans to slash nearly 80,000 jobs and close more than two dozen plants would be enough to transform them into leaner and nimbler competitors.

But the housing downturn and soaring oil prices have forced Chrysler and General Motors to make another round of surprising cuts, with no guarantees that these will be the last.

On Thursday, Chrysler announced it would eliminate 11,000 hourly and salaried jobs in the United States and Canada, and cut shifts of workers at five plants. The decision comes on top of a plan, announced in February, to eliminate 13,000 jobs and close a factory in Newark, Del.

Taken together, Chrysler will be reducing its 2006 work force of about 80,000 employees by 30 percent.

General Motors also recently said that it would eliminate shifts at three assembly plants in Michigan. The moves, announced after G.M. union workers approved their new contract, will most likely cut 3,000 jobs, though G.M. has not confirmed the total. Two years ago, G.M. announced 30,000 job cuts as part of a broad revamping.

“It does take one’s breath away to realize that the auto industry in the U.S., having gone through so much turmoil and so many rounds of cuts, is going through them yet again,” said Michael Useem, a professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The recent wave of cuts shows that the United Automobile Workers contract — passed after brief strikes at G.M. and Chrysler, and now under negotiation at Ford — has offered little protection against the sagging auto market, despite union leaders insisting they got the best deal they could for workers.

The experience at G.M. and Chrysler is bound to make Ford workers more insistent on job guarantees. They may be difficult for Ford to offer, unless the U.A.W. agrees to deeper cost cuts in other aspects of the contract.

Chrysler’s new chief executive, Robert L. Nardelli, blamed sagging auto sales for the company’s steps. Chrysler developed its earlier plan in a stronger car market, Mr. Nardelli said, while still under the wing of Daimler, its former German parent.

Now, given the economic uncertainty, auto sales this year are expected to be the weakest since 1998. And Mr. Nardelli said the soft environment is expected to continue through next year.

“The market situation has changed dramatically,” he said in a statement.

Chrysler also said Thursday that it would retire four models, including the convertible version of the PT Cruiser and two models, the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler Crossfire, that were it developed during its failed merger with Daimler. Chrysler said the eliminations were based on suggestions from dealers.

The cuts at the automaker were twice as deep as some had expected and came with little warning to the factories affected by them.

“This is a huge shock for us,” said Basil E. Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union.

The Canadian union represents workers at plants in Windsor and Brampton, Ontario, where shifts will be cut. Other factories to lose shifts are in Belvidere, Ill., Toledo, Ohio, and two plants in Detroit. Chrysler said some of the work might be restored when it introduces new models.

The U.A.W. did not comment. But one dissident union leader, Gregg Shotwell, said Chrysler’s actions threatened to create general distrust and divisiveness within the union.

Union leaders “certainly deserve to be distrusted because they misled people,” said Mr. Shotwell, whose group, Soldiers of Solidarity, campaigned against the versions of the U.A.W. contract that passed at Chrysler and G.M. “This has opened up people’s eyes.”

The cuts are an example of the new way of doing business at Chrysler, bought in August by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm. Since then, the new owners have hired Mr. Nardelli, the former Home Depot chief executive, as well as James Press, a Toyota executive who is now a Chrysler’s president.

Professor Useem said the steps showed Cerberus would not hesitate to take quick action that might take months or even years at other automakers.

“Private equity is much better equipped to take the Draconian cuts” than public companies such as G.M. and Ford, he added. “It’s in their DNA to be able to make these kinds of decisions. They don’t owe anything to anybody.”

Many industry analysts have said that Cerberus’s turnaround efforts are intended to ready it for another global alliance or possibly a sale, although Mr. Nardelli has said he intends to run Chrysler as an independent player.

Long term, however, Chrysler can only survive with low costs and respectable profits, a formula that its two Detroit rivals also are trying to carry out.

The cuts are putting the U.A.W.’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, in a difficult political position. After all, he backed Cerberus despite warning that private equity owners would “strip and flip” Chrysler.

With the cuts announced Thursday, “that’s stripping,” said Gary N. Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

Yet, Chrysler’s owners may not have much choice. On Thursday, the company said its sales in October fell 12.5 percent on an adjusted basis compared with 2006. For the year, Chrysler sales are down 3 percent, and it ranks as the country’s fourth-biggest auto company, behind G.M., Toyota and Ford.

Chrysler has long depended heavily on big pickups, sport utilities and minivans for the bulk of its sales, shifting its lineup only recently to build more small cars and small sport utilities, as well as crossover vehicles, which are S.U.V.’s based on car underpinnings.

Thursday’s announcement showed that even plants building some of its newest and more-efficient models were not immune from cuts. The Belvidere factory, for example, builds the small Dodge Caliber.

Chrysler reiterated plans to build the Dodge Journey, a crossover, as well as the Dodge Challenger sports coupe, marking the return of the muscle car. It also said it would build hybrid-electric versions of two S.U.V.’s, the Dodge Aspen and Dodge Durango.

Nick Bunkley contributed reporting from Detroit and Ian Austen from Ottawa.


13) Lessons from the New World
Success is beginning to look a lot like failure
by Gina Cassidy
Published in the September/October 2007 issue of Orion magazine

Four hundred years ago, British ships deposited 104 settlers on the shores of a richly diverse and sustaining land. Their task, and that of a later shipload, was to find wealth for their underwriters, the shareholders of the Virginia Company of London, and ship it posthaste back to the mother country.

At the end of one year, sixty-six of these men had died—many of starvation. Yet sustenance was available everywhere around them, if they had only opened their minds to the New World. There were fruit and nut trees, berries, roots, greens, fish, game, herbal medicines, rocks and minerals, clay, soil, wood, and fresh water. By all accounts the native Powhatan people were robust; the English were astonished at their strength and vitality, perfect posture, cold tolerance, and lack of disease.

Why were these Englishmen fighting for their lives in a warm, abundant land when the natives lived a sustainable life?

For the English, the New World was not a place to become a part of. They did not even try to gather food for themselves. They would not eat corn, which they considered animal food, until they were absolutely desperate. They drank brackish water because that was the closest supply. They insisted on wearing armor and layers of English clothing in the Virginia heat.

The English at Jamestown were not inherently weaker or more feeble-minded than their native neighbors. Their overwhelming problems lay in the way they thought. The English were heavily invested in one, uncompromising way of life: they considered themselves above nature, and certainly not part of this foreign land. They saw the New World as a place to exploit—to gather riches from and bring (or send) them “home” to England. The Powhatans did consider themselves part of nature. The English suffered terribly. The natives thrived, even during the Little Ice Age that coincided with the English arrival.

Our modern society is built on the Jamestown mindset. We try to change the landscape, to force the Earth to bend to our will. I do not mean “we” Americans, though Americans as a whole are perhaps the most guilty. I am speaking of Western or “developed” culture—known more appropriately by Daniel Quinn as “Taker” culture, which he compares to “undeveloped” or “Leaver” culture. The Leavers lived sustainably for two million years. They used what nature offered and allowed natural cycles to determine their fates. A Leaver culture could not cause its own extinction by its use of the Earth.

Western mythology casts the Takers as winners and the Leavers as losers. Indeed, the Jamestown settlers eventually overcame their problems to promote a culture of greater wealth than had ever been imagined. Their salvation lay in the export of tobacco—a mild recreational drug. Even today, we squander our natural resources for the production of useless, or minimally useful, disposable and addictive products. We are compelled to work in an economy of things that endanger our existence, both personally and as a society. The Jamestown settlers may have “won” wealth in the short run, but their way of life required more natural resources and energy than can be sustained. Tobacco is an addictive, health-destroying crop culpable for the enslavement of Africans in the New World. That’s not winning.

I am not idealizing the Powhatans. But until they encountered Taker culture they had mastered the earthly art of staying alive in perpetuity. The Takers have led our species down the road of extinction with nuclear war, resource depletion, and pollution. We need the wisdom and knowledge of Leaver cultures in order to survive into the indefinite future.

Gina Cassidy is a former educator with the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in Virginia.




Writers Set to Strike, Threatening Hollywood
November 2, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

—MALCOLM X, 1965


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


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


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


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


Which country should we invade next?


My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup


Michael Moore- The Awful Truth


Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments


Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


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


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


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




Defend the Los Angeles Eight!


George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks




Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran


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


Film/Song about Angola


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


You may enjoy watching these.
In struggle


FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein


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


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Complete the form at the website listed below with your information.


Sand Creek Massacre
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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

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