Monday, March 24, 2008




[The catch is, that while it's true that the landlord can increase rents to whatever he or she wants once a property becomes vacant, the current rent-control law now ensures that the new tenants are still under rent-control for their, albeit higher, rent. Under the new law, there simply will be no rent control when the new tenant moves in so their much higher rent-rate can increase as much as the landlord chooses each year from then on!!! So, no more rent-control at all!!! Tricky, huh?...BW]


"- Government may not set the price at which property owners sell or lease their property."


Read the whole thing at:

"Proposition 98, the California Property Owner & Farmland Protection Act is simple -- it provides property rights protections for all. Right now, government has the right to take private property - our homes, family farms, mom-and-pop small businesses - to build a sports stadium, big-box chain store, or a hotel. Politically connected special interests use and abuse government's power of eminent domain to take and develop private property. The is what the initiative does:

- Private property may not be taken by eminent domain for private use under any circumstances (i.e. to build a shopping center, auto mall or industrial park).

- Property may be taken by eminent domain only for public use (i.e. freeway construction, parks, schools).

- Property may not be taken by government and used for the same purposes (i.e. residential housing cannot be used for government housing).

- Family farms and open space are protected from seizures by government for the purpose of selling the natural resources.

- If a public agency takes property under false pretenses, or abandons its plans, the property must be offered for sale to the original owner at the original price and the property tax would be assessed at the value of the property when it was originally condemned.

- If farmers or business owners are evicted by eminent domain, they would be entitled to compensation for temporary business losses, relocation expenses, business reestablishment costs and other reasonable expenses.

- Government may not set the price at which property owners sell or lease their property.

The provisions of this Act shall become effective on the day following the election ("effective date"); except that any statute, charter provision, ordinance, or regulation by a public agency enacted prior to January 1, 2007, that limits the price a rental property owner may charge a tenant to occupy a residential rental unit ("unit") or mobile home space ("space") may remain in effect as to such unit or space after the effective date for so long as, but only so long as, at least one of the tenants of such unit or space as of the effective date ("qualified tenant") continues to live in such unit or space as his or her principal place of residence. At such time as a unit or space no longer is used by any qualified tenant as his or her principal place of residence because, as to such unit or space, he or she has: (a) voluntarily vacated; (b) assigned, sublet, sold or transferred his or her tenancy rights either voluntarily or by court order; (c) abandoned; (d) died; or he or she has (e) been evicted pursuant to paragraph (2), (3), (4) or (5) of Section 1161 of the Code of Civil Procedure or Section 798.56 of the Civil Code as in effect on January 1, 2007; then, and in such event, the provisions of this Act shall be effective immediately as to such unit or space."


Mike Prysner (Part 1 and Part 2 -- please watch both parts. Wow! This is powerful testimony. Thank you, Mike Prysner!
Winter Soldier Testimonies
or try:

Winter Soldier Mike Prysner testimony, Pt1
Winter Soldier Mike Prysner testimony Pt2


Tent Cities, USA


The Paris Commune Told in Pictures


"What are they recruiting for?
Murder, rape, torture, war!"

2017 Mission St (@ 16th), San Francisco
For more information on how you can become involved contact:
Bonnie Weinstein, (415) 824-8730
Nancy Macias, (415) 255-7296 ext. 229
Contact JROTC Must Go!
(415) 575-5543

Join with parents, teachers, students, and anti-war activists who demand that schools are for teaching about life skills, not military careers. Together we must demand that the San Francisco school board end JROTC at the end of this current school year, as they originally voted to do in 2006, but then, this year, caved in to Pentagon pressure and voted to extend JROTC for another year—reversing their original, well thought-out decision.

When in 2006, San Franciscans voted overwhelmingly to get the military out of our schools, the school board followed through with a strong resolution stating in part:

"The SFUSD (San Francisco Unified School District) has restricted the activities of military recruiters on our campuses...JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated by the United States Department of Defense, whose documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an important recruiting arm; and...JROTC manifests the military's discrimination against LGBT people..."

It is legally and morally repugnant for the school district to continue to facilitate the military’s access to our students and become fixtures in our schools! As this illegal war in Iraq enters its 6th year, and a war with Iran looms ahead, JROTC must go NOW!


California Assembly Bill Number 2429.
Bill Number 2429 was introduced by Assembly member Strickland on February 21, 2008 in the California Legislature. "This bill would require that a school district that prohibits JROTC programs from being established or conducting activities on its campus or campuses, or that prohibits or hinders its pupils from participating in an off-campus JROTC program, be prohibited from expending state funds on any extracurricular activity, as defined." For more information see

California legislature—2007–08 regular session
Introduced by Assembly Member Strickland
February 21, 2008
An act to add Article 5 (commencing with Section 52760) to Chapter
11 of Part 28 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code, relating
to extracurricular activities.
Legislative counsel’s digest
AB 2429, as introduced, Strickland. Extracurricular activities: Junior
Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs.
Existing law establishes the public school system in this state, and,
among other things, provides for the establishment of school districts
throughout the state and for their provision of instruction at the public
elementary and secondary schools they operate and maintain. Existing
law establishes a public school funding system that includes, among
other elements, the provision of funding to local educational agencies
through state apportionments, the proceeds of property taxes collected
at the local level, and other sources. Existing law authorizes public
schools to sponsor various extracurricular activities for their pupils.
This bill would require that a school or school district that prohibits
Junior Reserve Officers’Training Corps (JROTC) programs from being
established or conducting activities on its campus or campuses, or that
prohibits or hinders its pupils from participating in an off-campus
JROTC program, be prohibited from expending state funds on any
extracurricular activity, as defined.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no.
State-mandated local program: no.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
SECTION 1. Article 5 (commencing with Section 52760) is
added to Chapter 11 of Part 28 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the
Education Code, to read:
Article 5. Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC)
52760. A school or school district that prohibits Junior Reserve
Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs from being
established or conducting activities on its campus or campuses, or
that prohibits or hinders its pupils from participating in an
off-campus JROTC program shall be prohibited from expending
state funds on any extracurricular activity. As used in this article,
“extracurricular activity” includes, but is not necessarily limited
to, cultural activities such as dramatic or musical performances,
field trips, and interscholastic sports events, and payments made
to school personnel who provide supervision for those activities.
— 2 — AB 2429


Send a letter to the Board of Education

Please expand upon or send the letter below to the members of the
San Francisco Board of Education declaring:

We/I demand that the San Francisco school board phase
out JROTC at the end of the current 2007-2008 school
year, as you voted to do in 2006.

The reasons for phasing out JROTC are laid out very
clearly in the 2006 resolution.
(see below)

"The SFUSD has restricted the activities of military
recruiters on our campuses...

"JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated
by the United States Department of Defense, whose
documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an
important recruiting arm; and...

"JROTC manifests the military's discrimination against
LGBT people..."

Given the dangerous role that the U.S. military is
playing in the world today, and given the military's
ongoing discrimination against LGBT people, it would
be legally and morally repugnant for the school
district to continue to facilitate the military's
access to our students.

Send letters to: (please send copies to Bonnie Weinstein at giobon@comcast and Riva Enteen at

Mr. Norman Yee

Hydra Mendoza

Eric Mar, Esq.

Kim-Shree Maufas

Jane Kim

Mark Sanchez

Jill Wynn

Substitute Motion , As Amended
Adopted by the Board of Education at its Regular Meeting of November 14, 2006.

Subject: Resolution No. 65-23A1


- Mark Sanchez and Dan Kelly

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has banned educational partnerships with outside organizations that discriminate against any group based upon sexual orientation; and

WHEREAS: Civilian control of the military, and restriction of military involvement in civilian affairs is a fundamental characteristic of a healthy democracy; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has restricted the activities of military recruiters on our campuses; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has adopted violence prevention and conflict resolution strategies that promote non-violent behavior; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District requires that teachers of all academic courses be fully credentialed; and

WHEREAS: JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated by the United States Department of Defense, whose documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an important recruiting arm; and

WHEREAS: No other potential employer or recruiter is given such a high profile, nor such extensive contact with students; and

WHEREAS: JROTC instructors are not certificated teachers, and may not even possess a college degree of any kind; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District share of JROTC salaries is provided from central budget, while regular PE teachers are charged against each school’s site-based budget; and

WHEREAS: JROTC manifests the military’s discrimination against LGBT people by offering non-LGBT students preferential enlistment options; and

WHEREAS: JROTC is one of the largest after school activities at some High Schools; and

WHEREAS: The Board of Education has received extensive testimony that JROTC promotes self-esteem, community service, and academic and leadership skills; and

WHEREAS: Many other student extra-curricular activities also develop self-esteem, academic and leadership skills, and a commitment to service; and

WHEREAS: The California Education Code permits, and some SFUSD schools allow, students to receive PE credit for sports participation, independent study, or other classes deemed equivalent.

Therefore Be It Resolved: The Board of Education finds that credentialing requirements for academic instructors and courses are not met by the JROTC, except where specifically allowable as a substitute for Physical Education; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that JROTC programs on campus constitute a form of military recruitment and are in violation of our policy governing fair access for recruiters on campuses; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the JROTC program violates our anti discrimination policies with regard to LGBT students and adults; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the funding mechanism of the JROTC creates inequities between High Schools in SFUSD; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the JROTC is an inappropriate extension of the nation’s military into the civilian sphere; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education hereby begins a two-year phase out of all JROTC programs in the SFUSD resulting in no JROTC classes in the 2008-2009 school year and beyond; and

Be it Further Resolved: No new JROTC units or programs may be initiated at any SFUSD schools, effective immediately; and

Be it Further Resolved: That SFUSD staff shall not direct or require that students enroll in JROTC as an alternative to PE, or for any other reason; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education will grant PE credits for sports participation, independent study, and other courses deemed appropriate, and requests staff to provide guidelines for Board approval by the first meeting in January 2007; and

Be It Further Resolved: That the Board of Education calls for the creation of a special task force to develop alternative, creative, career driven programs with the elements of the existing JROTC program that students have indicated important to them, which then will provide students with a greater sense of purpose and respect for self and humankind; and

Be It Further Resolved: That any new programs being implemented beginning academic year 2007-08 are evaluated before the end of the school year to test student satisfaction.


Please Note:

Taken up by the Curriculum and Program Committee on August 23, 2006. Substitute motion accepted by general consent of the Committee. Substitute Motion forwarded to the Board with a positive recommendation from Committee, and to be taken up for action at the September 12, 2006 Regular Board Meeting by a vote of 2 ayes (Mar and Kelly), and 1 nay (Lipson).

Taken up by the Budget and Business Services Committee on 10/18/06. Substitute motion, as amended, forwarded to the Board with a positive recommendation (2 ayes, l nay (Wynns) ). The Budget and Business Services Committee recommends to the Board that the intention of the original motion to develop an alternative program be addressed.

Substitute motion amended and adopted on 11/14/06.


On November 14, 2006 the San Francisco Board of Education approved phasing out JROTC in the schools over two years [see 65-23A1 - Phasing Out The JROTC Program at]. The current Board has delayed implementation. The State Superintendent of Education Jack O’Connell is entertaining an exemption from State law, which will allow JROTC to continue to count as Physical Education credit.

Myth: JROTC doesn’t recruit, it teaches citizenship and leadership.
Fact: Between 35 - 50% of JROTC students who spend three or more years in the program join the military.

Myth: JROTC does not cost the district monies.
Fact: JROTC costs SFUSD almost $ 1 million per year in S.F. taxpayers’ monies. All taxpayers kick in another $750,000 each year through the Department of Defense subsidy. And this $1.75 million goes to a handful of high schools with JROTC programs, causing a funding inequity in the District.

Myth: JROTC doesn’t discriminate; LGBT students participate in JROTC programs.
Fact: There are three tangible benefits for JROTC participation which are denied LGBT graduates of JROTC: (1) enlistment at a higher grade of E2 or E3, meaning greater pay: (2) eligibility for ROTC scholarships and ROTC credit; and (3) eligibility for nominations to the military academies. It is against the law for openly LGBT high school graduates to serve in the US military. And SFUSD is discriminating in hiring staff instructors since they are retired commissioned or non-commissioned officer (i.e., lasted 20 years before being separated from the military), none of whom could have been openly LGBT people. That is discrimination.

Myth: The military provides educational opportunities and job skills that students need.
Fact: Only 12% of male veterans and 6% of female veterans use skills learned in the military in their current jobs. Soldiers must make a $1,200 non-refundable deposit to be eligible for G.I. Bill money starting the first year of service. From 1986 – 93 the military took in $720 million more from G.I.s in non-refundable deposits than it paid out in college benefits. Only 15% of those who pay into the G.I. Bill graduate with four-year degrees.


Mr. Norman Yee

Hydra Mendoza

Eric Mar, Esq.

Kim-Shree Maufas

Jane Kim

Mark Sanchez

Jill Wynn

(916) 319-0800

JROTC Must Go! - (415) 575-5543 -


Call for an Open U.S. National Antiwar Conference
Stop the War in Iraq! Bring the Troops Home Now!
SATURDAY, APRIL 19, 11 A.M. - 2 P.M.

Join us in Cleveland on June 28-29 for the conference.
Crown Plaza Hotel
Sponsored by the National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation
P.O. Box 21008; Cleveland, OH 44121; Voice Mail: 216-736-4704; Email:

List of Endorsers (below call):

Endorse the conference:


2008 has ushered in the fifth year of the war against Iraq and an occupation "without end" of that beleaguered country. Unfortunately, the tremendous opposition in the U.S. to the war and occupation has not yet been fully reflected in united mass action.

The anniversary of the invasion has been marked in the U.S. by Iraq Veterans Against the War's (IVAW's) Winter Soldier hearings March 13-16, in Washington, DC, providing a forum for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to expose the horrors perpetrated by the U.S. wars. A nonviolent civil disobedience action against the war in Iraq was also called for March 19 in Washington and local actions around the country were slated during that month as well.

These actions help to give voice and visibility to the deeply held antiwar sentiment of this country's majority. Yet what is also urgently needed is a massive national mobilization sponsored by a united antiwar movement capable of bringing hundreds of thousands into the streets to demand "Out Now!"

Such a mobilization, in our opinion, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the war -- and held on a day agreeable to the IVAW -- could have greatly enhanced all the other activities which were part of that commemoration in the U.S. Indeed, a call was issued in London by the World Against War Conference on December 1, 2007 where 1,200 delegates from 43 nations, including Iraq, voted unanimously to call on antiwar movements in every country to mobilize mass protests against the war during the week of March 15-22 to demand that foreign troops be withdrawn immediately.

The absence of a massive united mobilization during this period in the United States -- the nation whose weapons of terrifying mass destruction have rained death and devastation on the Iraqi people -- when the whole world will mobilize in the most massive protests possible to mark this fifth year of war, should be a cause of great concern to us all.

For Mass Action to Stop the War: The independent and united mobilization of the antiwar majority in massive peaceful demonstrations in the streets against the war in Iraq is a critical element in forcing the U.S. government to immediately withdraw all U.S. military forces from that country, close all military bases, and recognize the right of the Iraqi people to determine their own destiny.

Mass actions aimed at visibly and powerfully demonstrating the will of the majority to stop the war now would dramatically show the world that despite the staunch opposition to this demand by the U.S. government, the struggle by the American people to end the slaughter goes on. And that struggle will continue until the last of the troops are withdrawn. Such actions also help bring the people of the United States onto the stage of history as active players and as makers of history itself.

Indeed, the history of every successful U.S. social movement, whether it be the elementary fight to organize trade unions to defend workers' interests, or to bring down the Jim Crow system of racial segregation, or to end the war in Vietnam, is in great part the history of independent and united mass actions aimed at engaging the vast majority to collectively fight in its own interests and therefore in the interests of all humanity.

For an Open Democratic Antiwar Conference: The most effective way to initiate and prepare united antiwar mobilizations is through convening democratic and open conferences that function transparently, with all who attend the conferences having the right to vote. It is not reasonable to expect that closed or narrow meetings of a select few, or gatherings representing only one portion of the movement, can substitute for the full participation of the extremely broad array of forces which today stand opposed to the war.

We therefore invite everyone, every organization, every coalition, everywhere in the U.S. - all who oppose the war and the occupation -- to attend an open democratic U.S. national antiwar conference and join with us in advancing and promoting the coming together of an antiwar movement in this country with the power to make a mighty contribution toward ending the war and occupation of Iraq now.

Everyone is welcome. The objective is to place on the agenda of the entire U.S. antiwar movement a proposal for the largest possible united mass mobilization(s) in the future to stop the war and end the occupation.

Join us in Cleveland on June 28-29 for the conference.

List of Endorsers

Join us in Cleveland on June 28-29 for the conference.
Sponsored by the National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation
P.O. Box 21008; Cleveland, OH 44121; Voice Mail: 216-736-4704; Email:


For Immediate Release
Embassy Suites Hotel Anaheim South, 11767 Harbor Boulevard,
Garden Grove, California, 92840
May 16-18, 2008

The 6th Annual International Al-Awda Convention will mark a devastating event in the long history of the Palestinian people. We call it our Nakba.

Confirmed speakers include Bishop Atallah Hanna, Supreme Justice Dr. Sheikh Taiseer Al Tamimi, Dr. Adel Samara, Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, Dr. Ghada Karmi, Dr. As'ad Abu Khalil, Dr. Saree Makdisi, and Ramzy Baroud. Former Prime Minister of Lebanon Salim El Hos and Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar have also been invited.

Host Organizations for the sixth international Al-Awda convention include Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Palestinian American Women Association, Free Palestine Alliance, National Council of Arab-Americans, Middle East Cultural and Information Center - San Diego, The Arab Community Center of the Inland Empire, Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid - Southern California, Palestine Aid Society, Palestinian American Congress, Bethlehem Association, Al-Mubadara - Southern California, Union of Palestinian American Women, Birzeit Society , El-Bireh Society, Arab American Friends of Nazareth, Ramallah Club, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, International Action Center , Students for Justice in Palestine at CSUSB, Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, Students for Justice in Palestine at UCR, Students for International Knowledge at CSUSB, Muslim Students Association at Palomar College, Muslim Students Association at UCSD, and Muslim Students Association at Mira Costa.


In May of 1948, with the support of the governments of the United States, Britain, and other European powers, Zionists declared the establishment of the "State of Israel" on stolen Palestinian Arab land and intensified their full-scale attack on Palestine. They occupied our land and forcibly expelled three quarters of a million of our people. This continues to be our great catastrophe, which we, as Palestinians with our supporters, have been struggling to overcome since.

The sixth international Al-Awda convention is taking place at a turning point in our struggle to return and reclaim our stolen homeland. Today, there are close to 10 million Palestinians of whom 7.5 million are living in forced exile from their homeland. While the Zionist "State of Israel" continues to besiege, sanction, deprive, isolate, discriminate against and murder our people, in addition to continually stealing more of our land, our resistance has grown. Along with our sisters and brothers at home and elsewhere in exile, Al-Awda has remained steadfast in demanding the implementation of the sacred, non-negotiable national, individual and collective right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands.

The sixth international Al-Awda convention will be a historic and unique event. The convention will aim to recapitulate Palestinian history with the help of those who have lived it, and to strengthen our ability to educate the US public about the importance and justness of implementing the unconditional right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands. With symposia and specialty workshops, the focus of the convention will be on education that lead to strategies and mechanisms for expanding the effectiveness of our advocacy for the return.


We invite all Al-Awda members, and groups and individuals who support the implementation of the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes of origin, and to reclaim their land, to join us in this landmark Sixth Annual International Convention on the 60th year of Al-Nakba.


The convention will culminate in a major demonstration to mark 60 years of Nakba and to call for The RETURN TO PALESTINE. The demonstration will be held in solidarity and coordination with our sisters and brothers who continue the struggle in our beloved homeland.


Organizational endorsements welcome. Please write to us at convention6@

For information on how to become part of the host committee, please write to convention6@

For more information, please go to http://al-awda. org/convention6 and keep revisiting that page as it is being updated regularly.

To submit speaker and panel/workshop proposals, write to
info@al-awda. org or convention6@

Until return,

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-685-3243
Fax: 360-933-3568
E-mail: info@al-awda. org
WWW: http://al-awda. org

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) is the largest network of grassroots activists and students dedicated to Palestinian human rights. We are a not for profit tax-exempt educational and charitable 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States of America. Under IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC are tax-deductible.





A ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on Mumia's case, based on the hearing in Philadelphia on May 17th 2007, is expected momentarily. Freeing Mumia immediately is what is needed, but that is not an option before this court. The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal calls on everyone who supports Mumia‚s case for freedom, to rally the day after a decision comes down. Here are Bay Area day-after details:


14th and Broadway, near the Federal Building
4:30 to 6:30 PM the day after a ruling is announced,
or on Monday if the ruling comes down on a Friday.

Oakland demonstration called by the Partisan Defense Committee and Labor Black Leagues, to be held if the Court upholds the death sentence, or denies Mumia's appeals for a new trial or a new hearing. info at (510) 839-0852 or


Federal Courthouse, 7th & Mission
5 PM the day after a ruling is announced,
or Monday if the decision comes down on a Friday

San Francisco demo called by the Mobilization To Free Mumia,
info at (415) 255-1085 or

Day-after demonstrations are also planned in:

Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver
and other cities internationally.

A National Demonstration is to be held in Philadelphia, 3rd Saturday after the decision

For more information, contact: International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal,;
Partisan Defense Committee,;
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC),;


World-renowned journalist, death-row inmate and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is completely innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. Mountains of evidence--unheard or ignored by the courts--shows this. He is a victim, like thousands of others, of the racist, corrupt criminal justice system in the US; only in his case, there is an added measure of political persecution. Jamal is a former member of the Black Panther Party, and is still an outspoken and active critic of the on-going racism and imperialism of the US. They want to silence him more than they want to kill him.

Anyone who has ever been victimized by, protested or been concerned about the racist travesties of justice meted out to blacks in the US, as well as attacks on immigrants, workers and revolutionary critics of the system, needs to take a close look at the frame-up of Mumia. He is innocent, and he needs to be free.




In 1995, mass mobilizations helped save Mumia from death.

In 1999, longshore workers shut West Coast ports to free Mumia, and teachers in Oakland and Rio de Janeiro held teach-ins and stop-works.

Mumia needs powerful support again now. Come out to free Mumia!

- The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222, Oakland CA 94610


Center for Labor Renewal Statement and Call for the Elimination of Two-Tier Workplaces

On Saturday, January 26, 2008, over 80 U.S. and Canadian auto industry worker/activists met in Flint, Michigan, birthplace of militant unionism in the Auto Industry in the late 1903s. The agenda was how to measure and respond to the crippling impact of the 2007 auto industry collective bargaining agreements. The daylong discussions led to the issuance of the following Statement and Call for a:

Campaign to oppose two-tier wages

The United States has never been an equal opportunity society. During periods of intense collective struggle workers made economic gains, but sustained progress in equity distribution has not been achieved. Capital’s effort to exploit labor is never put on hold for long. Over the past 30 years corporate America, often supported by government, has engaged in an all-out assault on working people. That relentless campaign has increased and extended social inequality to levels many had not thought possible without triggering a concerted rebellion from the ranks of labor. Such an upsurge of resistance has not yet coalesced but there are indications that worker anger and disillusionment is rising.

Corporate aggression, particularly in historically well-organized, higher wage industries is increasingly tied to capital’s global restructuring agenda, which is capitalizing on the low standard of living prevalent in impoverished countries and regions around the world. The rising demand for U.S. worker concessions in such sectors as auto, metalwork, electronics, communications, etc. is part of that restructuring process and, unchallenged, sweeps all workers into a downward spiral of wage and working conditions. Employer claims that competition necessitates wage and benefit reductions in order to save jobs has become the weapon of choice. Workers are told they have to choose between massive reductions for future generations of workers or no job at all.

That this is happening in the most heavily unionized industries reveals the effectiveness of the corporate strategy to both disarm and attract many union leaders and some portion of the base to accept the proposition that pursuing their agenda of “competitiveness” is in our mutual interest. The U.S. labor leadership has not put forward any meaningful alternatives to global corporate restructuring. Embracing the companies’ “competitiveness” agenda is a flawed, if not fatal strategy.

The corporations are demanding, and the unions are accepting, permanent two-tier wage schemes whereby new hires work side by side with workers earning substantially higher wages for the same tasks. This new, generalized wage retreat comes after years of unresolved wage inequities that have disproportionately affected women and workers of color in U.S. workplaces. The introduction of both two-tier and “permanent temporary” workers in auto plants adds more layers of blatant discrimination. We must continue to fight against all forms of discrimination in two-tier wage structures, whether directed at workers of color or women, or now “the new hire” and the defenseless temp workers.

Our acceptance makes us an accessory to corporate divide and conquer schemes

Allowing the employers to expand inequality, rather then resolve it fosters additional resentment among workers and recklessly severs solidarity between generations. Two-tier wage agreements and the use of permanent temporary workers make the union partners in the business of exploiting workers.

Big Three auto contracts institutionalize second-class workers

In the 2007 Big Three auto negotiations the UAW, a once powerful wage and benefits pacesetter, agreed to a radically reduced two-tier wage and benefit package. The Big Three auto agreement cuts wages for new workers by up to 50 percent (67 percent if you include benefits) for doing the same work as current workers. The need to help the companies be more “competitive” to insure “job security” was the advertised selling point. The 25-year history of concession bargaining in auto has not stopped the massive decline in the ranks of the Big Three from 750,000 in 1979 when the concession era began to 170,000 today. Yet contract after contract during that period were heralded as “historic job security” agreements.

In 200 the UAW negotiated a Supplemental Two-Tier Wage Agreement for new hires at Delphi Corporation, a former GM Parts division, which had been “spun-off” as an independent parts supplier in 1999. Members of one UAW-Delphi Local, Local 2151 voted to appeal the International Union’s decision not to permit the thousands of Delphi union members to vote on the Supplemental Two-Tier Agreement, which affected them. In defense of their decision to evade ratification the UAW International Executive Board argued that the “future hire group is a null class.”

The segregation of future union members into a “null class” is a ruthless act of discrimination against an entire generation, and another example of the failure of competitiveness to secure jobs. Delphi subsequently used bankruptcy as a strategy to further restructure and destroy jobs and incomes. Within four years 27,000 out of 33,000 union members were eliminated at Delphi and the remaining workers were brought down to the lower wage and benefit scale.
Wage costs are not the problem

Wages and benefits of assembly workers account for less than 10 percent of the cost of a car and differentials between companies are not significant, especially since GM, Ford, and Chrysler’s competitors are primarily building cars inside the U.S. Furthermore, productivity in the auto industry has been rising rapidly: real output per worker has more than doubled since 1987. Even the Harbour-Felax Report—which analysts consider the industry bible on productivity—has acknowledged that: the Big Three has now largely eliminated the productivity gap with Japanese manufacturers.

In a globally restructured auto industry, it was inevitable that the Big Three would not sustain their monopoly control of the domestic market. Their arrogance toward foreign producers is only matched by their greed and arrogance toward consumers. This resulted in decades of marketing second rate, unimaginative, and shoddily engineered products at the same time union workers were making concessions allegedly to help them be more competitive. Yet, coming on the heels of the Delphi bankruptcy, the 2007 negotiations were pitched as if the sacrifices of workers was the only thing that could help the domestic auto manufacturers out of the “competitiveness” hole they’d dug themselves into. Making workers pay for the bosses’ mistakes is as much a national pastime as baseball.

The new-hire wage rates in UAW contracts with the Big Three automakers are now set below the average industrial wage in the U.S. which is already below that of other major developed countries. The competitive spiral will accelerate as foreign transplants are relieved of the pressure to match union wages. The failure to protect wages, benefits, and working conditions means that it will be even more difficult for the UAW to organize new workers. Yet the real answer to the “competitiveness” question lies in organizing the workers employed by the anti-union foreign owned producers and taking wages, benefits, and working conditions out of competition through solidarity-unionism.

For Canadian Auto Workers whose collective agreements with the same Big Three companies expire in September of 2008, the reduced new worker hire rate and permanent two-tier precedents set in the U.S. will represent a huge challenge. CAW members have traditionally resisted the concession patterns of their neighbors to the South; their continued resistance in their negotiations this Fall would be reinforced by a rising tide of opposition from U.S. auto workers to slashing wages and attacks on worker dignity.

The Japanese companies have already introduced the two-tier half-wage system in Japan. The threat of unionization had, until now, blocked their trying it here. But with the implementation of two-tier in the Big Three plants, they can now do the same in this country. Net result: no shift in relative competitiveness, but a destructive further lowering of wages for all auto industry workers.

Furthermore, now that the new hire wage rate is set below the industry average for the Big Three, workers in the auto parts supply industry will be confronted with a stark choice: accept lower wages or their jobs will be outsourced, or more correctly “re-insourced,” to the big auto companies at the radically reduced new lower tier wages. Once again the net result is zero security for workers and a further collapse in living standards. As part and parcel of the concessions mentality, the auto union failed to pursue its own longstanding demand for single-payer national healthcare (for all). Instead, they agreed to relieve Big Three automakers of billions of dollars in legacy costs for retiree healthcare protection by accepting responsibility for future coverage through an under-funded Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association, or VEBA.

The UAW is not the only union that has bargained away equality within the workforce. This trend is the deathwatch for the labor movement in our era. Union collaboration in wage discrimination for the sake of competitiveness is the counsel of despair. The future of active and retired workers is inextricably bound with the future of new workers. The segregation of future union members into a “null class” is an invitation for “payback” at some future time. If new hires are treated as a “null class,” one day they will in turn classify senior workers and retirees as a “null class.” There is no seniority date for dignity and should be no retirement from solidarity.

The corporate blitzkrieg on working people is subsidized with tax abatements while health, education, and social programs are slashed to the bone. The parrots of the status quo insist there is no alternative to an economic system that degrades workers, deprives the unfortunate of health care, undermines the security of the elderly, and desecrates the environment. It’s a lie. The degradation of the working class is chronic and contagious. We need strategic collective action with allies here and around the world.

History suggests that UAW members would have followed the lead of a progressive leadership to militantly resist the destruction of wage parity and other hard won gains in the workplace. But nearly 30 years of concession bargaining and yielding to the “logic of the competitiveness agenda” produced an opposite result.

Workers throughout all employment sectors face this same assault on wages, benefits, and working conditions in one form or another. It is time for all workers to reject the false logic of corporate competitiveness and reinvigorate the logic of solidarity.

Today, we stand at the crossroad knowing full well where both roads lead. One road leads to division, despair, and social isolation, and the other road points to hope, solidarity, and the dignity of collective struggle.
Call for national campaign

In conjunction with the Center for Labor Renewal, participants at the Flint, January 26, 2008 meeting issue the following Call:

In the face of the continuing assault on worker wages, benefits, and the quality of work life where rising economic injustice is destroying the stability and hopes of an increasing numbers of workers and their families, here and around the world; and where inequality and income discrimination are celebrated by a protected few at the desperate expense of so many others; we call on all workers of conscience everywhere to join a campaign to bring our collective strength and renewed solidarity to the struggle against the agenda of social devaluation and despair.

Workers in the auto industry have a critical role to play in this campaign given the destructive events in that industry which now, more than ever, seeks to validate the pitting of workers against workers, and communities against communities, and the glorification of the false dog-eat-dog, workplace agenda of the corporations today. In that world its “winner-take-all,” and the winner has been pre-determined. We call on all auto workers to reject all forms of wage discrimination and renew the fight for industrial democracy through worker solidarity, and to:

• Build within our workplaces, a movement against two-tier wages, and a renewal of solidarity unionism by means of varied communications vehicles including the internet; web sites; newsletters and plant gate handbills, etc.

• Promote crosscurrents of opposition against the creation of second-class workers in all workplaces.

• Where a two-tier system is in place, concretely demonstrate to the new workers that there is a strong base of resistance against the discrimination they face, and that we all need to remember the lesson that “an injury to one, is an injury to all.”

• Within the Big Three, or any auto workplaces, target the rejection of future agreements (2011 in the Big Three ) if they do not reverse the two-tier system.

• Promote internal democracy to encourage the inclusion and participation of the second tier workers alongside the entire rank and file to change the concessionary path followed by the current leadership.

Such a campaign will need mechanisms to facilitate links, exchange information, and assist in the coordination of future actions. Coming out of a meeting organized by the Center for Labor Renewal (CLR) of 80 activists in Flint, Michigan, the CLR commits to:

• Collect and develop material for building the necessary base in the workplace and its electronic dissemination. Assist in the development and proliferation of additional vehicles of communication.

• Develop an information clearinghouse to gather and disseminate reports and updates on local struggles and developments.

• Support regional forums to assist activists in developing the arguments and organizational capacities to build the solidarity program at the base

• Facilitate national meetings through which local activists can assess the campaign and collectively strategize on further events and actions.

• Promote the development of the analytical tools required by union activists to successfully integrate this campaign with a workers’ struggle that is increasingly global in dimension.

This fight is winnable. The U.S. working class needs a victory and it needs this victory in particular. The one-sided class war against workers has gone on far too long. The defeat of the two tier system is a crucial step in the struggle to address broader inequalities in our society. It’s time to draw the line.

—Center for Labor Renewal/

—Future of the Union/

—Factory Rat/

—Soldiers of Solidarity



For 35 years, Jim Crow justice in Louisiana has kept Herman Wallace
and Albert Woodfox locked in solitary confinement for a crime
everyone knows they didn't commit.

Despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence, the "Angola 3",
spend 23 hours each day in a 6x9 cell on the site of a former
plantation. Prison officials - and the state officials who could
intervene - won't end the terrible sentence. They've locked them up
and thrown away the key because they challenged a system that deals an
uneven hand based on the color of one's skin and tortures those who
assert their humanity.

We can help turn things around by making it a political liability for
the authorities at Angola to continue the racist status quo, and by
forcing federal and state authorities to intervene. I've signed on
with to demand an investigation into this clear case
of unequal justice. Will you join us?

When spoke up about the Jena 6, it was about more
than helping six Black youth in a small town called Jena. It was about
standing up against a system of unequal justice that deals an uneven
hand based on the color of one's skin. That broken system is at work
again and is joining The Innocence Project and
Amnesty International to challenge it in the case of the Angola 3.

"Angola", sits on 18,000 acres of former plantation land in Louisiana
and is estimated to be one of the largest prisons in the United
States. Angola's history is telling: once considered one of the most
violent, racially segregated prison in America, almost a prisoner a
day was stabbed, shot or raped. Prisoners were often put in inhumane
extreme punishment camps for small infractions. The Angola 3 -
Herman, Albert and Robert - organized hunger and work strikes within
the prison in the 70's to protest continued segregation, corruption
and horrific abuse facing the largely Black prisoner population.

Shortly after they spoke out, the Angola 3 were convicted of murdering
a prison guard by an all-white jury. It is now clear that these men
were framed to silence their peaceful revolt against inhumane
treatment. Since then, they have spent every day for 35 years in 6x9
foot cells for a crime they didn't commit.

Herman and Albert are not saints. They are the first to admit they've
committed crimes. But, everyone agrees that their debts to society
for various robbery convictions were paid long ago.

NBC News/Dateline just aired a piece this week about the plight of the
Angola 3. And it's time to finally get some justice for Herman and
Albert. For far too long, court officials have stalled and refused to
review their cases. Evidence of prosecutorial misconduct and
constitutional violations have not swayed them.

It's now time for the Governor of Louisiana and the United States
Congress, which provides the funding for federal prisons like Angola,
to step in and say enough is enough. Please join us in calling for
Governor Bobby Jindal and your Congressperson to initiate an immediate
and full investigation into the case of the Angola 3.




1) Guantanamo, NY--USA v Hashmi
Lynne Stewart

2) Estimates of Iraq War Cost Were Not Close to Ballpark
“Five years in, the Pentagon tags the cost of the Iraq war at roughly $600 billion and counting. Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and critic of the war, pegs the long-term cost at more than $4 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office and other analysts say that $1 trillion to $2 trillion is more realistic, depending on troop levels and on how long the American occupation continues.”
March 19, 2008

3) Recession, Depression or Stagflation
of Another Kind
By the Editors
March/April 2008

4) Disposable Children, Disposable Slaves
By Bonnie Weinstein
March/April 2008

5) Mourning Baghdad, pushing peace
By David Dionisi
15:17 MECCA TIME, 12:17 GMT

6) Partying Like It’s 1929
Op-Ed Columnist
March 21, 2008

7) Socialized Compensation
March 21, 2008

8) Washington’s Grand Experiment to Rehouse the Poor
March 21, 2008

9) Slump Moves From Wall St. to Main St.
March 21, 2008

10) An Agent, a Green Card, and a Demand for Sex
March 21, 2008

11) March 22, 2008
Debt-Gorged British Start to Worry That the Party Is Ending

12) Pentagon Urges Delay in U.S. Troop Reductions in Iraq
March 22, 2008

13) Melting Pace of Glaciers Is Accelerating, Report Says
March 18, 2008

14) A War Protest Falls Short in Manhattan
March 23, 2008

15) U.S. Death Toll in Iraq War Hits 4,000
March 25, 2008

16) War Dodgers
March 23, 2008

17) The War Endures, but Where’s the Media?
March 24, 2008

18) Gap in Life Expectancy Widens for the Nation
March 23, 2008

19) 17-year-old dies after shock from police Taser gun
A 17-year-old died at Carolinas Medical Center Thursday after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shocked him with a Taser during a confrontation at a grocery store in northeast Charlotte.
"Around lunchtime, Turner had come home to eat and told his mom that he had stolen a couple of Hot Pockets from the store. A supervisor planned to get a district manager involved and he feared disciplinary action, she said.
She said she told him to go back to the store and face up to what happened."
Posted on Fri, Mar. 21, 2008

20) 17-Year-Old Killed by Taser Over Shoplifted Hot Pockets
By Pam Spaulding, Pandagon
Posted on March 23, 2008, Printed on March 24, 2008


1) Guantanamo, NY--USA v Hashmi
Lynne Stewart

ALERT; I have just become aware of the latest assault on the 6th Amendment in the case of a young Pakistani Muslim American citizen extradited from Britain and held PRE-TRIAL incommunicado by the use of SAMS at the MCC in Lower Manhattan.

Syed Hashmi was brought to my attention through the Brooklyn Greens who were contacted by his former professor at U Mass Amherst who is mounting a campaign to arouse public officials and the public to the outrageous denigration of Fair Trial the case represents. I have attached the fact sheet and the sign on letter of concern.

Contact should be to Dan Clawson, 413 545 5974; 413 586 6235(home) To sign on the letter email This should be widely publicized. Please bring to the attention of your organization. Love Struggle Lynne

Lynne Stewart
EarthLink Revolves Around You.

A Statement of Concern

Syed Hashmi is a Muslim American citizen being held in a federal jail on two counts of providing material support – and two counts of making a contribution of goods or services – to Al Qaida. As his case goes to trial, we wish to register our concern about the conditions of his detention, constraints on his right to a fair trial, and the potential threat his case poses to the First Amendment rights of others.

The conditions of Hashmi’s detention are draconian. He is in solitary confinement and subject to a regime of severe deprivation. Under special administrative measures (SAMs) imposed by the Attorney General, his communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media, and people outside the jail – as well as access to the news and other reading material – is either prohibited or highly restricted. He is subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown, has no access to fresh air, and must take his one hour of daily recreation – when it is given – inside a cage.

Hashmi’s right to a fair trial is in jeopardy. The prosecution may present new allegations against him up until the day before his trial begins. It may withhold evidence from him and/or his attorneys yet share that evidence with the judge. He may not communicate with the news media, either directly or through his attorneys. The conditions of his detention may impair his mental state and ability to testify on his own behalf.

The prosecution’s case against Hashmi, an activist within the Muslim community, threatens the First Amendment rights of others. While Hashmi’s political and religious beliefs, speech, and associations are constitutionally protected, the government may attempt to use them as evidence of his criminal intent. This could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of others, particularly in activist and Muslim communities.

We call upon the United States government to review and alleviate the conditions of Hashmi’s detention, particularly his solitary confinement and the SAMs imposed upon him; to remove or revise the constraints on his right to a fair trial; and to guarantee that his actions – rather than his constitutionally protected statements, beliefs, and associations – constitute the basis of the government’s case against him, in court and in the public arena.

The Case of Syed Hashmi

Syed Hashmi is a 27-year-old Muslim American citizen. He is currently being held in solitary confinement in a federal jail on two counts of providing material support – and two counts of making a contribution of goods or services – to Al Qaida. His trial is set for July 2008. If convicted, he faces seventy years in prison. His case raises concerns about the conditions of his detention, his ability to receive a fair trial, and threats to the First Amendment rights of others.

Hashmi came to the United States from Pakistan with his family when he was three and grew up in Flushing, Queens. He attended Brooklyn College, majored in political science, and graduated in spring 2003. He then attended the London Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom; two members of the Brooklyn College political science faculty wrote him letters of recommendation. At London Metropolitan, Hashmi studied for an MA in international relations, which he received in October 2005.

In June 2006, he was arrested by the British police at Heathrow Airport (he was about to travel to Pakistan, where he has family) on a warrant issued by the US government. In May 2007, he was extradited to the United States, where he has since been held in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

Under special administrative measures (SAMs) imposed by the Attorney General, Hashmi must be held in solitary confinement and may not communicate with anyone inside the prison other than prison officials. Family visits are limited to one person every other week for one and a half hours and cannot involve physical contact. While his correspondence to members of Congress and other government officials is not restricted, he may write only one letter (of no more than three pieces of paper) per week to one family member. He may not communicate, either directly or through his attorneys, with the news media. He may read only designated portions of newspapers – and not until thirty days after their publication – and his access to other reading material is restricted. He may not listen to or watch news-oriented radio stations and television channels. He may not participate in group prayer. He is subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown, has no access to fresh air, and must take his one hour of daily recreation – when it is given – inside a cage. While the Attorney General claims that these measures are necessary because “there is substantial risk that [Hashmi’s] communications or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury to persons,” he was held with other prisoners in a British jail for eleven months without incident.

The US government alleges that during February or March 2004, a man by the name of Junaid Babar, also a Pakistani-born US citizen, stayed with Hashmi at his London apartment for two weeks. According to the government, Babar stored luggage containing raincoats, ponchos, and waterproof socks in Hashmi’s apartment and then delivered these materials to the third-ranking member of Al Qaida in South Waziristan, Pakistan. In addition, Hashmi allegedly allowed Babar to use his cell phone to call other conspirators in terrorist plots.

The government claims that Babar’s testimony is the “centerpiece” of its case. Babar, who has pleaded guilty to five counts of material support for Al Qaida, faces up to 70 years in prison. While awaiting sentence, he has agreed to serve as a government witness in terrorism trials in Britain and Canada as well as in Hashmi’s trial. Under a plea agreement reported in the media, Babar will receive a reduced sentence in return for his cooperation.

The events described above comprise the main allegation that the government has presented to the defense. According to the rules of discovery in federal criminal cases, however, the government may present additional allegations up until the day before the trial begins. Other factors compromise Hashmi’s right to a fair trial: the government may withhold evidence from his attorneys yet share that evidence with the judge; the government may share evidence with his attorneys but not allow Hashmi to see it; Hashmi may not communicate with the news media, either directly or through his attorneys; and the conditions of Hashmi’s detention may impair his mental state and ability to testify on his own behalf.

In addition to Babar’s testimony, much of the government’s case hinges upon evidence about Hashmi’s beliefs, associations, and speech. When Hashmi was a student at Brooklyn College, he was a member of Al Muhajiroun. This group takes and advocates positions well outside the mainstream of American public opinion. The US government, however, has not designated it a terrorist organization nor deemed membership in it illegal. While Hashmi’s beliefs, speech, and associations are constitutionally protected, the government may attempt to use them as evidence of his criminal intent. This could have a chilling effect on the constitutionally protected beliefs, speech, and associations of others, particularly in activist and Muslim communities. Unlike other high-profile post-9/11 cases, in which the defendants were not particularly political, Hashmi is an activist. The government’s increasing attention to this kind of political activity further raises the specter of a chilling effect on First Amendment rights throughout the country.

Hashmi’s case thus raises three concerns: first, the draconian conditions of his detention; second, the undermining of his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial; third, the threats it poses to the First Amendment rights of others. Please help make these concerns heard by signing the attached statement.


2) Estimates of Iraq War Cost Were Not Close to Ballpark
“Five years in, the Pentagon tags the cost of the Iraq war at roughly $600 billion and counting. Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and critic of the war, pegs the long-term cost at more than $4 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office and other analysts say that $1 trillion to $2 trillion is more realistic, depending on troop levels and on how long the American occupation continues.”
March 19, 2008

WASHINGTON — At the outset of the Iraq war, the Bush administration predicted that it would cost $50 billion to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein, restore order and install a new government.

Five years in, the Pentagon tags the cost of the Iraq war at roughly $600 billion and counting. Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and critic of the war, pegs the long-term cost at more than $4 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office and other analysts say that $1 trillion to $2 trillion is more realistic, depending on troop levels and on how long the American occupation continues.

Among economists and policymakers, the question of how to tally the cost of the war is a matter of hot dispute. And the costs continue to climb.

Congressional Democrats fiercely criticize the White House over war expenditures. But it is virtually certain that the Democrats will provide tens of billions more in a military spending bill next month. Some Democrats are even arguing against attaching strings, like a deadline for withdrawal, saying the tactic will fail as it has in the past.

All of the war-price tallies include operations in the war zone, support for troops, repair or replacement of equipment, reservists’ salaries, special combat pay for regular forces and some care for wounded veterans — expenses that typically fall outside the regular Defense Department or Veterans Affairs budgets.

The highest estimates often include projections for future operations, long-term health care and disability costs for veterans, a portion of the regular, annual defense budget, and, in some cases, wider economic effects, including a percentage of higher oil prices and the impact of raising the national debt to cover increased war spending.

The debate raging on Capitol Hill, on the presidential campaign trail, in research institutes and in academia touches on such esoteric factors as the right inflation index for veterans’ health care costs; the monetary value of nearly 4,000 soldiers killed; and what role, if any, the war has had in higher oil prices.

Some economists who track the war expenses say they worry that politicians are making mistakes similar to those made in 2002, by failing to fully come to grips with the short- and long-term financial costs.

“The relevant question now is: what do we do now going forward? Because we can’t do anything about the costs that have already happened,” said Scott Wallsten, an economist and vice president of research with iGrowthGlobal, a Washington research institute. “We still don’t hear people talking about that.”

Congressional Democrats, led by Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, have sought to spotlight the rising costs and limited political progress in Iraq.

“This administration still has no clear exit strategy for our troops, no path to political reconciliation, and no accounting of the costs to our budget or economy,” Mr. Schumer said.

The White House press secretary, Dana M. Perino, acknowledged that costs had risen higher than predicted, but said the administration was committed to giving the military everything it needed for success.

“None of these calculations take into account the cost of failure in Iraq,” Ms. Perino said. “Should Al Qaeda have safe haven in Iraq, we are more likely to be attacked again on our homeland. We know the cost of that.”

On the campaign trail, the Democratic candidates, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, often say that money for the war would be better spent at home, as Mrs. Clinton did Tuesday when she pegged the war costs at “well over $1 trillion.”

“That is enough,” she continued, “to provide health care for all 47 million uninsured Americans and quality pre-kindergarten for every American child, solve the housing crisis once and for all, make college affordable for every American student and provide tax relief to tens of millions of middle-class families.”

But what the candidates often fail to note when making such points is that the full cost of the war has been added to the national debt, and that the money spent in Iraq would not necessarily be available for other programs. And, of course, anything short of an immediate withdrawal will entail billions more in continuing expenses.

Debate aside, there is general consensus that Congress will have allocated slightly more than $600 billion for Iraq operations through the 2008 fiscal year.

And some analysts say that may be half the final price.

“Under reasonable scenarios, assuming we don’t pull out rapidly, we may only be halfway through,” said Steven M. Koziak, of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, a nonpartisan research group. “Even in direct budgetary costs, it’s quite easy to get up on the order of $1 trillion for Iraq alone.”

Meanwhile, the five-year anniversary of the war has focused a spotlight on the costs so far and on future projections.

In a new book, called “The Three Trillion War,” Mr. Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate, and a co-author, Linda J. Bilmes, a professor at Harvard, say the total economic impact may be a staggering $4 trillion or more. Even some economists who call themselves fans of Mr. Stiglitz say they think that number is exaggerated; the authors insist their projections are moderate.

Lawrence B. Lindsey, who was ousted as President Bush’s first economic adviser partly because he predicted the war might cost $100 billion to $200 billion, also has a new book that serves in part as an I-told-you-so.

“Five years after the fact, I believe that one of the reasons the administration’s efforts are so unpopular is that they chose not to engage in an open public discussion of what the consequences of the war might be, including its economic cost,” Mr. Lindsey wrote in an excerpt in Fortune magazine.

Mr. Lindsey insists that his projections were partly right. “My hypothetical estimate got the annual cost about right,” he wrote. “But I misjudged an important factor: how long we would be involved.”

He was not alone.

Congressional Democrats, for instance, predicted that the Iraq war would cost roughly $93 billion, not including reconstruction.

Virtually every forecast was off in this way. “It’s clear that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone on longer and have been more expensive than the projections initially suggested,” Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said in an interview.

Only one economist, William D. Nordhaus of Yale, seems to have come close. In a paper in December 2002, he offered a worst-case estimate of $1.9 trillion, “if the war drags on, occupation is lengthy, nation-building is costly.”

Getting at the true costs is difficult though. Expenses like an overall increase in troops were paid from the base defense budget, not the war bills.


3) Recession, Depression or Stagflation
of Another Kind
By the Editors

Before the Great Depression of the 1930s, the words recession and depression were virtually synonymous. Both terms referred to the beginning of a cycle of economic contraction. However the recessions that have occurred since the end of World War II were not actual contractions. On the contrary, these post-WWII recessions were characterized by a slowing of the rate of economic expansion rather than a contraction of the overall economy.

These days, if we read between the lines of the reports appearing in the mass media, it can be seen that Washington and Wall Street’s economic experts believe that an old-fashioned recession of the worst kind is heading our way.

Thus, one of the New York Times’s most perceptive economic commentators, Floyd Norris, was among the first to recognize and comment on the critical state of the U.S. economy in his December 28, 2007 column titled, “Credit Crisis? Just Wait For a Replay.” He begins by posing the key question:

“What if it’s not just subprime?

“As 2007 ends, it seems that the financial world shakes every time a company reveals some new exposure to the disastrous world of sub-prime mortgage lending.

“But just how different was sub-prime lending from other lending in the days of easy money that prevailed until this summer? The smug confidence that nothing could go wrong, and that credit quality did not matter, could be seen in the many other markets as well.

“‘The severity of the sub-prime debacle may be only a prologue to the main act, a tragedy on the grand stage in the corporate credit markets,’ Ted Seldes, the director of investments at Protégé Partners, a hedge fund of funds, wrote in Economics and Portfolio Strategy.

“‘Over the past decade, the exponential growth of credit derivatives has created unprecedented amounts of financial leverage on corporate credit,’ he added. ‘Similar to the growth of sub-prime mortgages, the rapid rise of credit products required ideal economic conditions and disconnected the assessors of risk from those bearing it....’

“But if the credit insurers turn out to have had inadequate reserves, what are we to make of the credit default swap market? Mr. Seldes calls it ‘an insurance market with no loss reserves,’ and points out that $45 trillion in such swaps are now outstanding. That is, he notes, almost five times the United States national debt. [Emphasis added.]”

He goes on to explain that one of the most remarkable results of the sub-prime crisis is “that total losses to the financial system may be about equal to the amount of sub-prime loans that were issued.” Norris reports the hedge fund director, Seldes, as also having said in an interview “the financial leverage placed on the underlying assets was so high that the losses multiplied, as the profits did when times were good.”

Norris ends by saying that it was the “greatest credit party in history, made possible by a new financial architecture that moved much of the activities out of regulated institutions and into financial instruments that emphasized leverage over safety. The next year may be the one when we learn whether the sub-prime crisis was a relatively isolated problem in that system, or just the first indication of a systemic crisis.”

Posing the threat of a “systemic crisis” is as close as a responsible bourgeois economist like Norris can go toward suggesting that the threatening recession may turn out to be much longer and deeper than any of the post-World War II recessions. After all, one of the differences between a recession and a depression is that a depression is far deeper and much longer lasting.

Then in the January 25 edition of the British financial journal, The Economist, the editors, reflecting the fact that the American crisis is global, in a piece titled, “It’s Rough Out There,” said this:

“The financial storm that blew up in America’s subprime mortgage market last year has become a hurricane. The ill wind from reckless property lending blasted first the market in asset-backed securities, then banks’ balance sheets and, most recently, stock markets. Across the globe, more than $5 trillion has disappeared from the value of public companies in the first three weeks of January....”

A couple of days later, in an op-ed piece, “Paying the Price for the Fed’s Success,” James Grant, the influential editor of the Wall Street publication, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, rakes the “experts” over the coals for allowing the “supposedly ‘contained’ sub-prime mortgage problem [to] metastasize into a global financial panic—some days to the down side, other days to the up side.” ( New York Times, January 27)

Grant’s criticisms essentially reflect the generalized concerns over the deeply troubled U.S. economy that has the most serious economic experts in Washington and Wall Street in a tizzy of befuddlement, fear and panic. Grant sums it all up in two sentences:

“Striving so mightily to make one and one add up to three or four or five, Wall Street, Main Street and Washington collectively brought us to the impasse of 2008, in which a debt crisis is superimposed on a downturn in the economy, which is overlaid on a bear market in real estate, which is conjoined with a persistent and worrying weakness in the overseas value of the dollar. As for the crackup in complex mortgage-backed securities, now at the center of the debt predicament, the global bank, UBS, has justly called it the biggest failure of ratings and risk management ever.”

Barely a month later, the Times published a report by another of its seasoned economic commentators, David Leonhardt, titled, “Worries that the Good Times Were Mostly a Mirage.” The headline was followed by the more pointed subhead, “So how bad could it get?” Leonhardt writes:

“Until a few months ago, it was accepted wisdom that the American economy functioned far more smoothly than in the past. Economic expansions lasted longer, and recessions were both shorter and milder. Inflation had been tamed. The spreading of financial risk, across institutions and around the world, had reduced the odds of a crisis. Back in 2004, Ben Bernanke, then a Federal Reserve governor, borrowed a phrase from an academic research paper to give these happy developments a name: ‘the great moderation.’

“These days, though, the great moderation isn’t looking quite so great—or so moderate.

“The recent financial turmoil has many causes, but they are tied to a basic fear that some of the economic successes of the last generation may yet turn out to be a mirage. That helps explain why problems in the American sub-prime mortgage market could have spread so quickly through the world’s financial system. On Tuesday, Mr. Bernanke, who is now the Fed chairman, presided over the steepest one-day interest rate cut in the central bank’s history.

“The great moderation now seems to have depended—in part—on a huge speculative bubble, first in stocks and then real estate, that hid the economy’s rough edges. Everyone from first-time home buyers to Wall Street chief executives made bets they did not fully understand, and then spent money as if those bets couldn’t go bad. For the past 16 years, American consumers have increased their overall spending every single quarter, which is almost twice as long as any previous streak.

“Now, some worry, comes the payback. Martin Feldstein, the éminence grise of Republican economists, says he is concerned that the economy “could slip into a recession and that the recession could be a long, deep, severe one.” [January 23, 2008.]

Thus, it has become increasingly evident to these economic analysts that the U.S. capitalist economy is sinking ever more deeply toward one of history’s most destructive of all economic crises, combining what now appears to be a long and deep crisis of overproduction together with a jump in the rate of inflation. In a word, the demon of inflation joins the devil of recession causing more than a few economic commentators to hark back to the late 1970s when stagflation, the worst of both worlds, roiled the U.S. economy.

This is a most significant departure from the initial impact of a classic economic contraction, which had historically been accompanied by falling, not rising, prices. However, ever since the dollar replaced gold as the international, measure of value, standard of price, and medium of exchange, the value incorporated in commodities by human labor power tends to fall as science and technology produces ever-more sophisticated labor-saving machines.

That is, under normal conditions, when the cost of production falls, prices also fall. But after the global monetary system was separated from its golden base we no longer live under normal conditions. In effect, the falling value incorporated in commodities by labor-saving machines is not only hidden from view by the steadily increasing quantity of valueless paper dollars in circulation; it also explains why prices can rise while the value of commodities fall.
Stagflation, the worst of both worlds

We say the worst of both worlds advisedly. Bad as was the stagflation of the 1970s, it was not as bad as it could get. For example, one of history’s most destructive combinations of economic contraction and inflation—stagflation—sent Germany into a prolonged crisis following its defeat in World War I.

Forced to sign the Versailles Treaty along with the draconic reparations demanded of Germany by the victors of the first Great War, as WWI was known at the time, Germany, which had been one of the richest and most dynamic industrialized imperialist powers in Europe before the war, was transformed into the poorest and hungriest after its defeat.

Thus, in the few short years after it was forced to sign the “peace treaty,” a period of stagnation began that combined mass unemployment and an inflationary crisis best illustrated by the change in the value of Germany’s 1-mark note, which as late as July 1921, could buy a half-dozen eggs and a loaf of bread. The mark fell in value to such a point that by November 1923, the 1-mark note had 9 zeroes added to it, but it could still only buy what the 1-mark note could buy in 1921.

Meanwhile, unemployment had soared to levels nearly as high as during the early years of the Great Depression. The rest is history: Germany entered a period of rising revolutionary struggle that could well have ended in socialist revolution. However, because of the failure of leadership, it ended with the victory of Adolph Hitler’s fascist Brown Shirts, the smashing of the revolutionary German working class, the holocaust and World War II. 1

Though it would be premature to predict that a German-style hyperinflation, joined together with mass unemployment is in the making, it cannot be excluded. After all, the main weapon to combat the kind of economic contraction we saw in the 1930s, now in the hands of the Federal Reserve, remains what boils down to the continued pumping of valueless paper dollars into circulation—reducing the value of all dollars—to combat the threat of a recession of the pre-WWII kind.

This takes us to the source of the current crisis and why something like a German-style combination of inflation and economic contraction has already begun, creating episodes of panic among masses of investors as well as among the economic experts in Washington and Wall Street.
Once again on the debt bomb

The monetary system launched in 1944 at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, by representatives of 44 governments including most of the capitalist world’s imperialist powers was set into motion in order to prevent another Great Depression such as the one that led to World War II. That is, all the measures that attempted to bring the Depression to a halt did not work.

Today, no one knows the true size of America’s public and private debt. However, before the adoption of the Keynesian scheme separating the global monetary system from its golden base one could estimate the extent of any capitalist nation’s indebtedness by measuring the quantities of gold—the most reliable objective measure of value—backing up its outstanding currency. That not only served as a measure of a nation’s solvency but also the creditworthiness of the private sector.

Now that the world monetary system is no longer based on gold, the only measure of the value of currencies is its value relative to the purchasing power of all other currencies; thus no one knows for sure how much each of the world’s paper currencies are really worth. That means that the bottom can drop out of the monetary system suddenly and with little or no warning.
Behind Bernanke’s appointment

According to a report in the Sunday, January 20, New York Times magazine titled, “The Education of Ben Bernanke,” by Roger Lowenstein, “the current Chairman of the Federal Reserve devoted much of his career to studying the causes of the Great Depression.” Lowenstein starts off by pointing out why Bernanke was selected to replace Alan Greenspan. He writes:

“By the time President Bush nominated him to run the Federal Reserve, at the end of 2005, Bernanke knew more about central banking than any economist alive. On virtually every topic of significance—how to prevent deflationary panics, for instance, or to gauge the effect of Fed moves on stock-market prices—Bernanke wrote one of the seminal papers.... And having devoted much of his career to studying the causes of the Great Depression, Bernanke was the academic expert on how to prevent financial crises from spinning out of control and threatening the general economy.”

Thus, if we knew nothing else about the current economic crisis, we now know this much: The appointment of Ben Bernanke to head the Federal Reserve by the real U.S. decision-makers, means that they had anticipated the possibility, if not the likelihood, of an approaching breakdown of U.S. economic equilibrium. It also suggests that they had reason to believe that the next recession would be nothing like the ten previous post-WWII recessions which were all milder, of shorter duration and accompanied by longer periods of expansion than their pre-war predecessors.

In other words, those in charge of keeping the economy on an even keel knew that it was in trouble when Bernanke was chosen to head the Federal Reserve in October 2005. But they also knew that there’s nothing that the Fed can do in the upper reaches of the political, financial and monetary superstructure of the U.S. economy that can fix the source of the unfolding capitalist economic crisis—which lies deep inside the economy at the point of production. The most they can do in the superstructure of the extraordinarily complex American capitalist economic order is keep the underlying contradictions from worsening.

The real problem is, of course, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. And while it cannot be fixed once and for all time, it can be boosted temporarily by reducing wages and benefits at the point of production and by shifting the tax burden from the rich and superrich to the backs of those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.

That’s where the auto industry’s attack on the autoworkers and their union comes into the picture.
GM’s attack on the UAW was an attack on all workers

It doesn’t take a Nobel prize-winning economist to know that the relation between wages and profits is like the two ends of a seesaw; when wages go up profits go down and when wages go down profits go up.

Readers of this magazine know that for the last two years we have focused on the campaign initiated and led by General Motors to lower the wages, benefits and living standards of all members of the United Auto Workers union by more than 50 percent. As we now know, Detroit’s Big Three—GM, Chrysler and Ford—will have already gone a long way toward accomplishing their objective well before the new UAW contract expires in 2011.

We also made clear in our coverage that the attack on the UAW was only the first stage of an attack by capitalist America on the wages, benefits and living standards of all American workers.

The significance of this two-sided attack by Washington and Wall Street on both the fundamental contradictions at the point of production and in the upper reaches of the capitalist economy is a measure of capitalist America’s growing fear of another Great Depression made far more life-threatening by the growing mountain of public and private debt.
History repeats itself—but always with a difference

The “Roaring Twenties,” as it was then known for a variety of reasons, roared in more ways than one. America in the 1920s, was a decade of phenomenal economic growth while the rest of the world’s advanced industrial countries were in a slump. It gave rise to something once known as American exceptionalism, which had been born and reborn more than a few times in American history. It was also a part of the widely touted myth at the time that because the United States was prospering while the world was stagnating it was no longer subject to the laws of capitalist economics.

To be sure, America’s economic health in a stagnating world was indeed an exception to the rule, but it had nothing whatever to do with its exemption from the laws of capitalist economy as laid down by all of history’s most respected economic theoreticians ranging from Adam Smith to Karl Marx. As a matter of fact, the main difference between America in the 1920s and today, is the fact that America was then the world’s biggest creditor nation, while the rest of the world was mired in debt in the aftermath of the Great War, as World War I was known in those days.

That is, from the 1920s until the early 1960s the United States was the world’s largest creditor nation with virtually the entire world paying interest on loans made by Washington and Wall Street to both sides of World War I.
The 1930s and today

If, as the evidence suggests, the U.S. economy is heading toward a major economic crisis on the order of the 1930s, there are several important differences between then and now that must be taken into account starting with the existence of an exactly opposite financial relationship between America and the world in the 1920s and 1930s, and America and the world today.

While the U.S. was the world’s creditor nation back then, America today is the world’s major debtor nation by far. Moreover, in addition to borrowing on a grand scale in order to offset its balance of payments and budgets deficits, it must now also borrow to help pay the interest on its growing mountain of debt.

That is—like the millions of American “homeowners” with sub-prime mortgages, many of whom are already unable to so much as pay the interest on their mortgages, the government of the United States faces a similar problem but on a grander scale.

In other words, like homeowners, corporations and banks defaulting on their debts because they can no longer pay the interest, much less the principal. Capitalist America now is in the exact same position as the millions of workers who owe more than they can ever repay.

In fact, taking all its obligations into account—economic, political and military—capitalist America is locked in an inescapable debt trap of its own making. Worse yet, unlike the homeowner with a mortgage worth more than the house they live in, capitalist America cannot walk away from its mortgage and rent another house!

1 Search the Internet for Leon Trotsky’s, Germany: The Only Road, (September 1932). It provides the best analysis of Hitler’s rise to power and why the two mass workers’ parties, Social Democrat and Communist, failed to form a united front that could have easily crushed the fascist threat and overthrown German capitalism and conquered state power and carried through a socialist revolution.


4) Disposable Children, Disposable Slaves
By Bonnie Weinstein
March/April 2008

Many on the left criticize Marxists for predicting the economic collapse of capitalism. They say that Marxists have been predicting the “death struggle” of capitalism for years and it hasn’t happened yet. They say, capitalism has been able to placate and immobilize the working class. These thoughts are epitomized by the comments of Joaquin Bustelo, a contributor to the Marxism discussion list on the internet, who wrote on January 14, 2008:

“Thus quite often you can read on this list how wages have been going down for decades and so forth and so on. Yet every single material indicator of living standards in this country has been rising over the decades, the size of housing units, how they’re equipped, number of cars, radios and TV sets, energy consumed, etc. etc. etc. And whatever crisis of the moment is said to be sure to doom capitalism—the [Vietnam] War, the [1970s] energy crisis, stagflation, deindustrialization, the S&L crisis, low productivity growth, all the way down to the dot-com, stock markets and housing bubbles of the last decade—have thus far failed to produce the predicted effect.

“To me that says the left underestimates the real resources and strengths of U.S. capitalism, and above all how parasitic it is and how much wealth it siphons off from other countries. Which doesn’t mean that this ‘crisis’ won’t be ‘the’ crisis, but it does tend to make me rather skeptical.”

But Bustelo leaves out the fact that while workers can consume more stuff, the rate of exploitation of workers has increased sharply. Workers are working harder due to speed-up and the general rollback of working conditions across the board. In addition, due to technological production improvements, workers are producing a higher yield for the bosses for his or her labor time while earning a smaller portion of the extra value they now produce.

Bustelo also claims that the reason the antiwar movement has failed to produce youth activists like it did during the war in Vietnam was that there was a draft back then.
Our children live in a different world

What he and everyone seems to ignore is that there is a very different reality for youth today than that of their parents. The gutted organized-labor movement, including two- and three-tier contracts, has qualitatively changed reality for our young people.

To say there isn’t a draft is not quite true either, because there is an economic draft that leads young people to join the military if they have any hope of reaching the economic heights their parents were able to reach—to buy a house or even a new car—without plunging themselves into unmanageable debt or, indeed, being able to even qualify to get into debt. That the military is the only way out of this economic reality is certainly what the Department of Defense is trying to convince young people of. And it spends billions of dollars in advertising money to do so.
Their parents live there, too

Even once-comfortable parents are beginning to feel the pinch. They have to borrow to send their kids to college, and are unable to help them buy a house, something working-class parents in the ’60s and ’70s could afford to do for their coming-of-age kids.

Young adults are finding it much harder to leave the nest. When I was 18 years old, one lousy, unskilled weekly paycheck (in cash, by the way) could take care of my rent for a month and I had plenty left over to buy clothes and eat good food! Those days are gone!

When I struck out on my own, I wasn’t even a high school graduate and could barely type 20 words-per-minute. I hadn’t turned 18 yet and got my first job (as a waitress) in late July of 1963 at Schrafft’s restaurant on 34th Street in New York. My 18th birthday was August 10, 1963. I was working there on August 28, the day of the great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, led by Martin Luther King, and I was working there on November 22, when Kennedy got killed. Most of the waitresses were Irish and the whole restaurant came to a halt. People were crying all around me. I was fired soon after because, one, I was a lousy waitress and complained about my tips. And I also complained about hearing about Kennedy incessantly. It was driving me insane—you couldn’t escape it. But even still, as poor as my typing was, I gave it a try and was able to go out the next day and get a job in a little print shop in the Bowery that paid $72.00 a week—cash. Newly married, our rent was $75.00 a month and my husband, a union house painter, made much more than me, although his work was seasonal.

Now, young people need to be able to go into debt in order to qualify for a rental unit that will cost half their monthly income! They’d better be able to qualify for a credit card or a car loan and to withstand a credit check (which they will likely have to pay for themselves) when applying to rent an apartment! This leaves them either straitjacketed to credit before they are even out on their own, and, hence, to their low-paid multiple jobs, or out in the streets selling drugs to get the cash for what they need.

For black youth the depression is already here. Their communities are police-occupied and more go to prison than to college.
Kids, you’re on your own

Our youth have no unified voice. They must fend for themselves. Their parents can give them little help—except, perhaps, by babysitting their children. We mustn’t minimize this tremendous problem, because more than half of the children born today are born into single-parent families that have no one but the grandparents to look after them, while the parents do whatever they can to earn the money to feed them. If you have no family to help with the kids, there’s always your car in the parking lot at your jobsite: in other words, you’re on your own. Often your kids are on their own, with older siblings taking care of the younger ones.

This is the effect of multi-tiered pay-scales—whether you work for a union shop or not. All kinds of jobs have multi-tiered pay-scales, where far fewer employees fall into the higher pay-scale category. Young people today make about half what their parents made, adjusting for inflation, and are working even more hours, and fewer have any benefits at all.

Meanwhile, prices have risen. Rents and medical bills are through the roof. The higher costs of real food—fresh meats, produce and dairy products—makes the higher calorie content of fast foods the practical option for the working poor—unhealthy, but affordable. More bang for your buck.

In an interview with Michael Polan entitled, “The Cornification of Food,” broadcast December 4, 2007, by radio station KLCC in Portland, Oregon, he pointed out:

“You can get something like 1,200 calories for a dollar in the snack food aisle and only 250 in produce. You can get 875 calories of soda for $1 and only 170 calories of real fruit juice, of orange juice. So you see, our Darwinian inheritance is to get as much energy with as little expenditure as possible. This is what we’re programmed to do as a species. If you don’t have a lot of money, the way to do that is to eat badly.”

And what of the lives of little kids—today’s grandchildren? They can’t even go out and play. Their only socialization is in school, under restriction and supervision. They have no freedom. They are always being watched, and yet when they’re home from school they are completely ignored, often left alone and cooped up in their homes by parents who have to work long hours.

They live virtual lives in front of the TV or playing video games. They talk to or text-message their friends over the phones if have them. They don’t climb trees or play by the edge of a pond catching frogs, or even hang out in front of the ice cream parlor. Those things exist for them only in the virtual world. They virtually play over the telephone and on MySpace.

There’s an article in the March/April 2007 issue of Orion magazine, entitled “Leave No Child Inside,” about the reduction of attention deficit disorder (ADD) among kids who get to go out and play in nature with other kids. It turns out that letting kids have this opportunity for 30 minutes a day eliminates the need for any ADD drugs. Who’d’a thunk? But most kids rarely get this chance.

“Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience their neighborhoods and the natural world has changed radically. Even as children and teenagers become more aware of global threats to the environment, their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. As one suburban fifth grader put it to me, in what has become the signature epigram of the children-and-nature movement: ‘I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.’. . . In a typical week, only 6 percent of children ages nine to thirteen play outside on their own. Studies by the National Sporting Goods Association and by American Sports Data, a research firm, show a dramatic decline in the past decade in such outdoor activities as swimming and fishing. Even bike riding is down 31 percent since 1995. In San Diego, according to a survey by the nonprofit Aquatic Adventures, 90 percent of inner-city kids do not know how to swim; 34 percent have never been to the beach.... Studies at the University of Illinois show that time in natural settings significantly reduces symptoms of attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder in children as young as age five. The research also shows the experience helps reduce negative stress and protects psychological well-being, especially in children undergoing the most stressful life events.”

Our youth are cooped-up, criminalized, incarcerated, unemployed and underemployed, underpaid, undereducated, and neglected by parents who have to work two and three jobs just to pay the rent and bring home the Mickey D’s, and who must also neglect themselves, their health, and their well-being. Their children have become society’s disposable children! They have become disposable slaves.

They have no champions. They have no hope. To them, the world’s gone to hell in a hand-basket and their own parents haven’t been able to do a damn thing to stop it, let alone make it better even for themselves, or to show them a way to improve their lives.

According to an article that appeared in The New York Times of January 16, 2008, “Blue-Collar Jobs Disappear, Taking Families’ Way of Life Along,” by Erik Eckholm, about job loss in Jackson, Ohio,

“Throughout the state, the percentage of families living below the poverty line—just over $20,000 for a family of four last year—rose slightly from 14 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2007, one study found. But equally striking is the rise in younger working families struggling above that line. The numbers are more dismal in the southeastern Appalachian part of the state, where 32 percent of families lived below the poverty line in 2007, according to the study, and 56 percent lived with incomes less than $40,000 for a family of four.

“‘These younger workers should be the backbone of the economy,’ said Shiloh Turner, study director for the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, which conducted the surveys. But in parts of Ohio, Ms. Turner said, half or more ‘are barely making ends meet.’ . . . ‘As $15-an-hour factory jobs are replaced by $7- or $8-an-hour retail jobs, more men in their 30s and 40s are moving in with their parents or grandparents,’ said Cheryl Thiessen, the director of Jackson/Vinton Community Action, which runs medical, fuel and other aid programs in Jackson and Vinton Counties.

“‘Other unemployed or low-wage workers, some with families, find themselves staying with one relative after another,’ Ms. Thiessen said, ‘serially wearing out their welcome.’

“‘A lot of major employers have left, and the town is drying up,’ Ms. Thiessen said of Jackson. ‘We’re starting to lose small shops, too—Hallmark, the jewelry and shoe stores, the movie theater and most of the grocery stores.’

“Shari Joos, 45, a married mother of four boys in nearby Wellston, said, ‘If you don’t work at Wal-Mart, the only job you can get around here is in fast food.’

“Between her husband’s factory job and her intermittent work, they made $30,000 a year in the best of times, Mrs. Joos said. Since last fall, when her husband was laid off by the Merillat cabinet factory, which downsized to one shift a day from three, keeping anywhere near that income required Mrs. Joos to take a second job. She works at a school cafeteria each weekday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and then drives to Wal-Mart, where she relaxes in her car before starting her 2:00-to-10:00 p.m. shift at the deli counter.

“Her 20-year-old son went to college for two years, earning an associate degree in information science, but cannot find any jobs nearby. He still works at McDonald’s and lives at home as he ponders whether to move to a distant city, as most local college graduates must. Her 22-year-old son works at Burger King and lives with his grandparents—‘That was his way of moving out,’ Mrs. Joos said.”

Our youth are a giant tinderbox waiting to explode. They have very few opportunities left to them—no home loans, no credit cards, nor decent jobs that pay more than the streets. Many of our children are living in fight-or-flight mode all the time, looking for whatever they can to bolt themselves out of this bleak reality.

Those who are addicted to drugs and/or have criminal records are 75 percent likely to be unemployable. And those numbers are increasing at a phenomenal rate. Prisons are a booming business and education and rehabilitation are becoming more and more expensive and, in fact, unavailable to those who need it the most. Drastic cuts have been and still are being made to drug-rehab clinics that cater to the poor and uninsured.

The working class throughout the world is being pushed further and further toward the brink as the newer generations come of age. That’s what it means when they say the gap between the rich and poor is widening.
Will a kinder and gentler capitalism be able to save the day?

The capitalists and their puppet politicians are not even claiming that. The candidates—all of them—are saying how the American people have had it too good. That we all have to learn to tighten our belts. It’s just that none of this applies to those who have all the money. And everyone in the world knows that. It’s flaunted all over the mass media, on the movie screens, and on the TV—the wealthy draped in their diamonds and designer gowns coyly sporting $30,000 purses; the Forbes 500 moving into the billion-dollar range; the CEOs and their billion-dollar bonuses. Everyone knows about these things, even if they’re selling drugs to their friends in the streets or chatting behind bars in jail.

The question is, what politics will capture the imagination, hope, and hearts of our youth? What politics will offer them a way out of this miserable future? What politics will offer them the strength to change the world for the better for everyone? What politics will make it crystal clear to them that such change is in their own self-interest as well as in the interests of everyone and the planet itself, if they take that power into their own hands and out of the hands of the capitalist class?

Socialism—a world socialist revolution to abolish capitalism and establish a planned economy that serves human needs rather than private profit—is the answer that will secure the gift of a thriving future for all.

Everything has changed for the lives of our children except the one, most fundamental reality: capitalism and its inexorable road back to barbarism. Modern capitalism will pull itself out of the impending worldwide economic crisis of the falling rate of profit—enough to appease the working class—or it won’t. The thing is, to our young people, it sure looks like it won’t. In fact, to our youth it looks like there will be no future.

There is a way out of capitalism’s greed, chaos and inevitable degeneration to barbarism. It is clearly outlined and spelled out in the rich legacy of Marxist literature. These words by Leon Trotsky from his book, The Revolution Betrayed, illustrate the human sentiment behind the transformation of society from a for-private-profit mode of production to production for the satisfaction of the needs and wants of all. Trotsky said :

“The hypocrisy of prevailing opinion develops everywhere and always as the square, or cube, of the social conditions. Such approximately is the historic law of ideology translated into the language of mathematics. Socialism, if it is worthy of the name, means human relations without greed, friendship without envy and intrigue, love without base calculation.”

Socialism will be the evolutionary leap in human social relations that will end human slavery in every form because it is based on human solidarity and love. A worldwide socialist revolution is the gift that we, the world’s working class, can open for our children and grandchildren and the future of humankind. We have only our chains to lose and a world to gain!


5) Mourning Baghdad, pushing peace
By David Dionisi
15:17 MECCA TIME, 12:17 GMT

Anniversaries are a time for reflection.

As I reflect on the last five years, I pray for all victims of violence, especially the children.

I think about Baghdad. Baghdad was the leading metropolis of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries. Now, it is polluted with radioactive depleted uranium that will be lethal to humans for billions of years, which means suffering and death will continue long after the fighting has ended.

While many historical parallels can be drawn between the war and the Mongol invasion in the 13th century or British imperialism in the 20th century, the horror inflicted on the Iraqi people by my country is far worse.

Killing for oil

The "green light" given to Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in 1979 and invade Kuwait in 1990, given by former US presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush, respectively, provide essential context with regard to today's Iraqi body count.

In addition, Bush senior killed over a million Iraqis with the economic sanctions initiated in 1990, the 1991 war and the betrayal of promises to support Shia and Kurdish uprisings. Like his father, Bush junior, current US president, has also entered the history books as a mass murderer with the blood of over one million Iraqis on his hands.

Together, they are the only father and son in history to have each killed directly or indirectly over one million Iraqis.

Historical context

It is important to understand the past five years of occupation in a historical context because the student of history knows that the US lost the Iraq war the day it started. The only question that remains is whether the war will end before or after it bankrupts the collective soul of my country.

If my fellow Americans better understood the British 1914-1918 Mesopotamia campaign, they would not be fooled by the claim that the surge is working. Britain invaded the area we now call Iraq because in 1912 it started building warships that needed oil.

Soon after the British invasion, local resistance resulted in the creation of the League of the Islamic Awakening, the Muslim National League and the Guardians of Independence. Members of these anti-colonial secret societies, now called insurgents by the US government, have fought for independence long before the 2003 invasion.

History repeats in uncanny ways. One theme is the loss of national treasure; the Mongols destruction of Baghdad's House of Wisdom in 1258 was not dissimilar to the looting of Iraq's National Museum in 2003.

Another parallel is the defiance of the 1920 British Mandate by the grand mujahid of Karbala, Imam Shirazi, who called for war. Then, just as now, Sunnis and Shias fought to defeat a foreign occupying power that sought to exploit oil.

Unfortunately for the Iraqi people, the occupation continued by the British, although interrupted at times, until 1961 when the British Colonial Office separated a province of Iraq (what is now Kuwait) in order to exploit the oil under its sands.

Holding Bush accountable

I have spent the last five years working to end the Iraq war. I am not alone in this endeavour. As the result of the efforts of many peacemakers, the vast majority of Americans now see the war as harmful to everyone, whether in Iraq or here in the US.

Bush has depended on lies and secrecy to survive. As a result, his approval rating dropped to 19 percent in February, the lowest of any president.

Though he has repeatedly violated his oath to uphold the constitution, congress has also failed by not beginning the impeachment process. Hearings in the Judicial Committee, the first step in that process, would make Bush's crimes apparent to everyone.

The failure of lawmakers in congress to act is especially disappointing because there is overwhelming evidence of deception. For example, the Center for Public Integrity published a report in January that found Bush and seven of his top officials made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001.

Big blunder

On this fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, I see the US invasion on March 19, 2003 as the beginning of the mass murder of a proud people.

Bush, by invading Iraq, committed what may be the greatest US foreign policy blunder in history. As dreadful as this reality is, I believe the voices of the majority of Americans will ultimately be heard and the power of truth will prevail.

There are many organisations trying to get the facts out to the people. For instance, the Teach Peace Foundation delivers peace education to students and makes available over 100 free online documentaries. To learn how you can get involved so that we can end the war in 2009 instead of 2029, please visit Our motto is "the facts, calmly".

David Dionisi, a former US military intelligence officer and Fortune 500 executive, has written extensively on the failures in Iraq and campaigns against a war with Iran. Author of American Hiroshima, he also works for the Teach Peace Foundation.


6) Partying Like It’s 1929
Op-Ed Columnist
March 21, 2008

If Ben Bernanke manages to save the financial system from collapse, he will — rightly — be praised for his heroic efforts.

But what we should be asking is: How did we get here?

Why does the financial system need salvation?

Why do mild-mannered economists have to become superheroes?

The answer, at a fundamental level, is that we’re paying the price for willful amnesia. We chose to forget what happened in the 1930s — and having refused to learn from history, we’re repeating it.

Contrary to popular belief, the stock market crash of 1929 wasn’t the defining moment of the Great Depression. What turned an ordinary recession into a civilization-threatening slump was the wave of bank runs that swept across America in 1930 and 1931.

This banking crisis of the 1930s showed that unregulated, unsupervised financial markets can all too easily suffer catastrophic failure.

As the decades passed, however, that lesson was forgotten — and now we’re relearning it, the hard way.

To grasp the problem, you need to understand what banks do.

Banks exist because they help reconcile the conflicting desires of savers and borrowers. Savers want freedom — access to their money on short notice. Borrowers want commitment: they don’t want to risk facing sudden demands for repayment.

Normally, banks satisfy both desires: depositors have access to their funds whenever they want, yet most of the money placed in a bank’s care is used to make long-term loans. The reason this works is that withdrawals are usually more or less matched by new deposits, so that a bank only needs a modest cash reserve to make good on its promises.

But sometimes — often based on nothing more than a rumor — banks face runs, in which many people try to withdraw their money at the same time. And a bank that faces a run by depositors, lacking the cash to meet their demands, may go bust even if the rumor was false.

Worse yet, bank runs can be contagious. If depositors at one bank lose their money, depositors at other banks are likely to get nervous, too, setting off a chain reaction. And there can be wider economic effects: as the surviving banks try to raise cash by calling in loans, there can be a vicious circle in which bank runs cause a credit crunch, which leads to more business failures, which leads to more financial troubles at banks, and so on.

That, in brief, is what happened in 1930-1931, making the Great Depression the disaster it was. So Congress tried to make sure it would never happen again by creating a system of regulations and guarantees that provided a safety net for the financial system.

And we all lived happily for a while — but not for ever after.

Wall Street chafed at regulations that limited risk, but also limited potential profits. And little by little it wriggled free — partly by persuading politicians to relax the rules, but mainly by creating a “shadow banking system” that relied on complex financial arrangements to bypass regulations designed to ensure that banking was safe.

For example, in the old system, savers had federally insured deposits in tightly regulated savings banks, and banks used that money to make home loans. Over time, however, this was partly replaced by a system in which savers put their money in funds that bought asset-backed commercial paper from special investment vehicles that bought collateralized debt obligations created from securitized mortgages — with nary a regulator in sight.

As the years went by, the shadow banking system took over more and more of the banking business, because the unregulated players in this system seemed to offer better deals than conventional banks. Meanwhile, those who worried about the fact that this brave new world of finance lacked a safety net were dismissed as hopelessly old-fashioned.

In fact, however, we were partying like it was 1929 — and now it’s 1930.

The financial crisis currently under way is basically an updated version of the wave of bank runs that swept the nation three generations ago. People aren’t pulling cash out of banks to put it in their mattresses — but they’re doing the modern equivalent, pulling their money out of the shadow banking system and putting it into Treasury bills. And the result, now as then, is a vicious circle of financial contraction.

Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues at the Fed are doing all they can to end that vicious circle. We can only hope that they succeed. Otherwise, the next few years will be very unpleasant — not another Great Depression, hopefully, but surely the worst slump we’ve seen in decades.

Even if Mr. Bernanke pulls it off, however, this is no way to run an economy. It’s time to relearn the lessons of the 1930s, and get the financial system back under control.


7) Socialized Compensation
March 21, 2008

How can one feel sorry for James Cayne? The potential losses of the chairman and former chief executive of Bear Stearns must rank up there with the biggest in modern history. The value of his stake in Bear Stearns collapsed from about $1 billion a year ago to as little as $14 million at the price JPMorgan Chase offered for the teetering bank on Sunday.

Still, Mr. Cayne was paid some $40 million in cash between 2004 and 2006, the last year on record, as well as stocks and options. In the past few years, he has sold shares worth millions more. There should be financial accountability for the man who led Bear Stearns as it gorged on dubious subprime securities to boost its profits and share price, helping to set up one of the biggest financial collapses since the savings-and-loan crisis in the 1980s. Some might argue that he should have lost it all.

But that’s not how it works. The ongoing bailout of the financial system by the Federal Reserve underscores the extent to which financial barons socialize the costs of private bets gone bad. Not a week goes by that the Fed doesn’t inaugurate a new way to provide liquidity — meaning money — to the financial system. Bear Stearns isn’t enormous. It doesn’t take deposits from the public. Yet the Fed believed that letting it implode could unleash a domino effect among other banks, and the Fed provided a $30 billion guarantee for JPMorgan to snap it up.

Compared to the cold shoulder given to struggling homeowners, the cash and attention lavished by the government on the nation’s financial titans provides telling insight into the priorities of the Bush administration. It’s not simply a matter of fairness, though. The Fed is probably right to be doing all it can think of to avoid worse damage than the economy is already suffering. But if the objective is to encourage prudent banking and keep Wall Street’s wizards from periodically driving financial markets over the cliff, it is imperative to devise a remuneration system for bankers that puts more of their skin in the game.

Financiers, of course, dispute that they are being insufficiently penalized. “I received no bonus for 2007, no severance pay, no golden parachute,” E. Stanley O’Neal, the former chief executive of Merrill Lynch, told a House committee recently. That doesn’t seem like much of a blow to Mr. O’Neal, who was removed earlier this year following gargantuan subprime-related losses.

Indeed, the pain that is being inflicted on financial-industry executives as a result of their own actions and decisions is not proving much of an encouragement. Rather, the knuckle-rapping seems only to encourage bankers to make up for any losses they may suffer by finding another way to navigate their companies, the financial system and the economy into the next maelstrom — from Internet stocks to what the industry calls zero-down, negative amortization, no-doc, adjustable-rate mortgages.

(Translation: derivatives based on incomprehensible mortgages with unpredictable interest rates given to people who have no reasonable chance of understanding them, let alone paying them back. )

Bankers operate under a system that provides stellar rewards when the investment strategies do well yet puts a floor on their losses when they go bad. They might have to forgo a bonus if investments turn sour. They might even be fired. Their equity might become worthless — or not, if the Fed feels it must step in. But as a rule, they won’t have to return the money they made in the good days when they were making all the crazy bets that eventually took their banks down.

The costs of such a lopsided system of incentives are by now clear. Better regulation of mortgage markets would help avoid repeating current excesses. But more fundamental correctives are needed to curb financiers’ appetite for walking a tightrope. Some economists have suggested making their remuneration contingent on the performance of their investments over several years — releasing their compensation gradually.

That’s an idea worth studying. Certainly, trying to put specific limits on bankers’ salaries is a nonstarter. But until bankers face a real risk of losing their shirts, they will continue blithely ratcheting up the risks to collect the rewards while letting the rest of us carry the bag when their punts go bad.


8) Washington’s Grand Experiment to Rehouse the Poor
March 21, 2008

Correction Appended

WASHINGTON — When District of Columbia officials tore down the decrepit housing project in southeast Washington where Samantha Jackson lived with her teenage son, they promised that they would build a more attractive, mixed-income community and that former tenants like herself could come back.

“I was very happy,” recalled Ms. Jackson, 42, a school custodian. “The area was rough and scary.”

Ms. Jackson, who has been staying with a friend since the demolition in 2004, is now in line to buy, with subsidies, a new apartment in a town house in the same neighborhood, and she can hardly wait. “It looks like Hollywood to me,” Ms. Jackson said of the onetime slum where glossy buildings and the Washington Nationals stadium are also rising.

Bucking national trends and citing what they call “a moral goal,” District of Columbia officials have pledged to preserve and even expand low-income housing, replacing dangerous projects with new communities that keep both poor and “work force” residents — firefighters, teachers and laborers — in the mix.

The redevelopment of the Arthur Capper and Carrollsburg projects, where Ms. Jackson lived, is the first in the country to promise replacement of all low-income units within the same neighborhood, said Michael Kelly, director of the city Housing Authority.

“Mr. Kelly is undertaking a great experiment to see if he can turn around distressed neighborhoods and keep the original residents there to benefit,” said Sue Popkin, a housing expert at the Urban Institute. “It’s a gamble. We don’t know how to take a terrible neighborhood and make it nice while keeping the same people there.”

The federal government no longer pays to build housing projects, which in Washington, Chicago and other cities became symbols of concentrated poverty.

Since the early 1990s, it has given money under a program called Hope VI to tear down distressed projects, to be replaced by mixed communities built with private partners. In a pattern that critics disparage as “demolish and disperse,” some former tenants return but most scatter with rental vouchers, destroying community ties. District officials say they have learned from past mistakes.

The issues are in contention at the federal level now: the Bush administration proposes to eliminate Hope VI, while the House of Representatives has passed a bill that would extend it and require that all razed public housing be replaced.

The Washington venture will preserve housing, but social ties have been undermined by the stretched-out construction schedule; some former tenants will wait as long as eight years to return, in the meantime using vouchers or staying in other public housing.

Martha Queen, 72, who is raising her 17-year-old great-grandson, has been lonely and depressed since she moved to a public unit in a different neighborhood, away from her friends.

“All the things you’re familiar with, they’re gone,” she said of her former home. “It’s all rubble now.”

“I just sit upstairs and look out the window,” she added.

She has been offered a new two-bedroom at Capper-Carrollsburg, but it is smaller than the place she had before and she has resisted, fearing she would have to get rid of half of her furniture.

The Housing Authority, which controls 8,000 units, has received federal grants to tear down six projects and create mixed communities. The city says it will use bonds and private investors to redevelop more sites, but critics ask if that is financially feasible.

The current site had 707 low-income units. In the expanded community, as many low-income rentals will blend in with more than 800 homes rented or sold to working-class and more affluent people, as well as an office building, new stores and parks.

In the meantime, former tenants are offered social aid, from credit repair and job advice to drug treatment.

Ms. Jackson, who expects to buy her home in 2010, had an unpaid medical bill that tarnished her credit rating. The support program put her in touch with a legal aid center that persuaded an insurance company to pay.

Poor people will pay 30 percent of their incomes in rent. Other units are for sale, with subsidies, to the working poor, including families making as little as $25,000, while others will sell at market rates.

Many residents were suspicious. A group organized to press for a stronger role in shaping the Capper-Carrollsburg project, and fought, for example, to keep a youth center open before the final demolition.

A committee of residents, officials and neighbors decided that any returnees with a serious criminal conviction within three years of the move-in date, and anyone with seriously bad credit, would be excluded. They will keep their current vouchers or public units, officials promise.

One-for-one replacement of units will be more difficult in cities lacking high land prices, which enabled Washington to issue bonds tied to future tax revenues. Still, the drive to save public housing reflects a growing sense among urban experts of the limits of rental vouchers. Vouchers help families move out of crime-infested projects but in cities with tight housing, landlords may not accept them, driving tenants to new slums on the urban fringes.

“Vouchers sometimes have the unintended consequence of just shifting burdens around,” said Robert J. Sampson, chairman of the sociology department at Harvard.

Vouchers also depend on annual appropriations; for the coming year, the funds proposed by President Bush would reduce vouchers and aid to low-income housing, according to Barbara Sard, housing director at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington.

Dwayne Todd, 20, grew up in the Capper-Carrollsburg projects. “I was mad when I found out they were tearing down our home,” said Mr. Todd, who has a girlfriend and two babies. “All my friends are scattered.” But the case worker helped him get a job as a security officer, and he looks forward to returning to his own place.

“I want to move back there, I have so many childhood memories,” he said. “Some people didn’t really want them to change the neighborhood this way, but for me it’s a pretty decent thing. I don’t want my kids to grow up in a project.”

Correction, Friday, March 20

An article Thursday misidentified an organization is Washington that said the President's budget proposals would reduce funds for low-income housing. It is the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, not the Center on Budget and Policy Alternatives.


9) Slump Moves From Wall St. to Main St.
March 21, 2008

In Seattle, sales at a long-established hardware store, Pacific Supply, are suddenly dipping. In Oklahoma City, couples planning their weddings are demonstrating uncustomary thrift, forgoing Dungeness crab and special linens. And in many cities, the registers at department stores like Nordstrom on the higher end and J. C. Penney in the middle are ringing less often.

With Wall Street caught in a credit crisis that has captured headlines, the forces assailing the economy are now spreading beyond areas hit hardest by the boom-turned-bust in real estate like California, Florida and Nevada. Now, the downturn is seeping into new parts of the country, to communities that seemed insulated only months ago.

The broadening of the slowdown, the plunge in home prices and near-paralysis in the financial system are fueling worries that what most economists now see as an inevitable recession could end up being especially painful.

Indeed, some economists fear it will last longer and inflict more bite on workers and businesses than the last two recessions, which gripped the economy in 2001 and for eight months straddling 1990 and 1991. This time, these experts say, a recession in which economic activity falls over a sustained period and joblessness rises across the board could even persist into next year.

“It’s not hard to construct very dark scenarios, primarily because the financial system is in disarray, and it’s not clear how to get it all back together again,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s

To be sure, there are many places where talk of recession still seems as out of place as a diner trying to score a table at a trendy Los Angeles restaurant without reservations on a Saturday night. First-class cabins of airplanes are jammed. So are spas, cigar bars and children’s clothing boutiques selling upscale dresses.

Unemployment, meanwhile, still remains at a relatively low 4.8 percent.

But even after the Federal Reserve’s extraordinary efforts to prevent the collapse of Bear Stearns from spreading to other financial institutions, the danger still lurks that banks will grow even tighter with their funds and will starve the economy of capital.

“If lenders and debtors don’t trust each other, that causes a power outage,” said Michael T. Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners. “And that’s where we are now.” Until recently, Mr. Darda was among those still holding to the notion that the economy could generate enough jobs to keep the economy rolling. But the private sector has shed jobs for three consecutive months. Mr. Darda is now worried.

“We’ll be lucky to make it out of this without something that looks like a recession,” he said.

On Thursday, FedEx , whose global courier business tends to rise and fall with swings in the economy, reported that its earnings actually dropped in the United States and warned that in future months it expected to fall well short of its customary double-digit annualized profit gains.

“We just aren’t going to be able to do that,” Alan Graf, FedEx’s chief financial officer, said in a call with Wall Street analysts. “The crystal ball for everybody is very cloudy here.”

For now, there are still pockets of prosperity across the country. Farmers are enjoying record crop prices as the adoption of ethanol makes corn a way to fill gas tanks, and as rising incomes in China, India and elsewhere spell growing demand for meat. The weak dollar is helping exporters and retailers that cater to foreign tourists.

Eastern Mountain Sports, the outdoor clothing dealer, says sales increased by one-third this month compared with the year before at its store in SoHo. “A lot of that is Europeans coming over,” said Will Manzer, the company’s president.

With oil selling at approximately $100 a barrel, the Taste of Texas Steakhouse in Houston — a popular spot for events held by BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil — is reveling in days of plenty.

Even those areas suffering the downturn can bank on considerable help on the way, economists say, as the impact of lowered interest rates kicks in later this year, encouraging businesses to expand and hire. Tax rebate checks to be mailed out by the government this spring may lubricate spending as well.

Despite fears that the odds for a particularly severe recession have now increased, Mr. Zandi still subscribes to the consensus that the economy will shrink only modestly during the first half of 2008, then resume expanding as more money washes through the system. That would limit the damage to the type of relatively modest recession that hit the economy earlier this decade.

For the country as a whole, recent data shows that the economy is deteriorating at an accelerating rate. From September to January, average home prices fell 6 percent compared with a year earlier. Consumer confidence has been plummeting. The private sector shed 26,000 jobs in January and 101,000 in February, while those out of work have stayed jobless longer, according to the Labor Department.

Now, the broader discomfort is filtering into cities and towns that only recently seemed beyond reach.

Seattle’s real estate market has slowed, but prices have held relatively steady. Even so, sales at the Pacific Supply Company, a hardware store in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, have fallen by 5 to 10 percent in the last few months.

“There’s a general sense of caution,” Michael Go, the store’s general manager, said.

Ritz Sisters sells gift items like soaps and chocolates to shops and catalogs throughout the Pacific Northwest. In recent months, orders have fallen by one-fifth, said Tim Creveling, a co-owner of the business.

“People are just hunkering down,” he said.

In Oklahoma City, Aunt Pittypat’s Catering has lost one-fifth of its business in the last two months, as $25,000 weddings are scaled down to smaller affairs.

“People are just being a lot more conservative,” said Maggie Howell, a co-owner. “They want crab and seafood, but they’re settling for cheese displays.”

In Cleveland, Lincoln Electric, which makes welding gear, has also experienced a slowdown. “Our growth is relatively anemic in North America,” said Vincent Petrella, its chief financial officer.

The slowdown has proved severe enough to poke a hole in the idea that sales abroad can carry the economy even if they dip at home.

In North Carolina, Power Curbers, which makes equipment that turns concrete into curbs, has been sending more gear abroad. But domestic sales plummeted by one-fourth during the first two months of the year, Dyke Messinger, the company’s president, said. In mid-February, Power Curbers laid off 6 of the 80 workers at its factory near Charlotte.

Many economists forecast that overall consumer spending will slip 1 percent for the first three months of the year.

“That’s a wow,” said Robert Barbera, chief economist for the trading and research firm ITG. “Outright declines for real consumer purchases are unusual.”

What is shaping up as the second recession of the 2000s is the product of declines in home values, which play a far bigger role in most Americans’ personal finances than the stock market. Households have borrowed against the increased value of their property to buy cars, send their children to college and add home theater systems.

“This is the bedrock asset for the lion’s share of the population of the United States,” Mr. Barbera said. “It’s not like dot-com stocks, where I bought Webvan for 1,000 times the imaginary earnings, and now it’s worth nothing but I go and have a beer. You’re talking about the value of people’s houses.”

As economists try to assess the likely contours of the unfolding downturn, many see parallels in the recession of 1990 and 1991.

Then, as now, the dollar was weak, oil prices were high and trouble started with a sharp slide in housing prices, followed by major losses for mortgage lenders. The resulting savings and loan crisis spurred a buyout that cost taxpayers $240 billion in inflation-adjusted terms, and it brought a severe tightness of credit.

That recession lasted eight months, slightly less than the average for downturns going back to 1946, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. This one, though, could drag on longer, some economists say, because the underlying forces are more difficult to attack, even though Washington has been much more active, much earlier in lowering interest rates, sending out tax rebates and taking other measures to arrest an economic decline.

Back in the late 1980s, lending was concentrated in fewer hands. Once the government calculated the size of the problem in the saving and loan industry and assented to the bailout, confidence was restored and the wheels of finance turned anew.

This time, the size of the bad debts remains a mystery, with estimates reaching $400 billion. Markets fret that the next Bear Stearns could pop up anywhere.

The first signs of what became the mortgage crisis emerged back in August.

“Yet we’re still fighting it,” Mr. Darda said. “We’re still dealing with this paralysis.”


10) An Agent, a Green Card, and a Demand for Sex
March 21, 2008

No problems so far, the immigration agent told the American citizen and his 22-year-old Colombian wife at her green card interview in December. After he stapled one of their wedding photos to her application for legal permanent residency, he had just one more question: What was her cellphone number?

The calls from the agent started three days later. He hinted, she said, at his power to derail her life and deport her relatives, alluding to a brush she had with the law before her marriage. He summoned her to a private meeting. And at noon on Dec. 21, in a parked car on Queens Boulevard, he named his price — not realizing that she was recording everything on the cellphone in her purse.

“I want sex,” he said on the recording. “One or two times. That’s all. You get your green card. You won’t have to see me anymore.”

She reluctantly agreed to a future meeting. But when she tried to leave his car, he demanded oral sex “now,” to “know that you’re serious.” And despite her protests, she said, he got his way.

The 16-minute recording, which the woman first took to The New York Times and then to the Queens district attorney, suggests the vast power of low-level immigration law enforcers, and a growing desperation on the part of immigrants seeking legal status. The aftermath, which included the arrest of an immigration agent last week, underscores the difficulty and danger of making a complaint, even in the rare case when abuse of power may have been caught on tape.

No one knows how widespread sexual blackmail is, but the case echoes other instances of sexual coercion that have surfaced in recent years, including agents criminally charged in Atlanta, Miami and Santa Ana, Calif. And it raises broader questions about the system’s vulnerability to corruption at a time when millions of noncitizens live in a kind of legal no-man’s land, increasingly fearful of seeking the law’s protection.

The agent arrested last week, Isaac R. Baichu, 46, himself an immigrant from Guyana, handled some 8,000 green card applications during his three years as an adjudicator in the Garden City, N.Y., office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the federal Department of Homeland Security. He pleaded not guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges of coercing the young woman to perform oral sex, and of promising to help her secure immigration papers in exchange for further sexual favors. If convicted, he will face up to seven years in prison.

His agency has suspended him with pay, and the inspector general of Homeland Security is reviewing his other cases, a spokesman said Wednesday. Prosecutors, who say they recorded a meeting between Mr. Baichu and the woman on March 11 at which he made similar demands for sex, urge any other victims to come forward.

Money, not sex, is the more common currency of corruption in immigration, but according to Congressional testimony in 2006 by Michael Maxwell, former director of the agency’s internal investigations, more than 3,000 backlogged complaints of employee misconduct had gone uninvestigated for lack of staff, including 528 involving criminal allegations.

The agency says it has tripled its investigative staff since then, and counts only 165 serious complaints pending. But it stopped posting an e-mail address and phone number for such complaints last year, said Jan Lane, chief of security and integrity, because it lacks the staff to cull the thousands of mostly irrelevant messages that resulted. Immigrants, she advised, should report wrongdoing to any law enforcement agency they trust.

The young woman in Queens, whose name is being withheld because the authorities consider her the victim of a sex crime, did not even tell her husband what had happened. Two weeks after the meeting in the car, finding no way to make a confidential complaint to the immigration agency and afraid to go to the police, she and two older female relatives took the recording to The Times.

Reasons to Worry

A slim, shy woman who looks like a teenager, she said she had spent recent months baby-sitting for relatives in Queens, crying over the deaths of her two brothers back in Cali, Colombia, and longing for the right stamp in her passport — one that would let her return to the United States if she visited her family.

She came to the United States on a tourist visa in 2004 and overstayed. When she married an American citizen a year ago, the law allowed her to apply to “adjust” her illegal status. But unless her green card application was approved, she could not visit her parents or her brothers’ graves and then legally re-enter the United States. And if her application was denied, she would face deportation.

She had another reason to be fearful, and not only for herself. About 15 months ago, she said, an acquaintance hired her and two female relatives in New York to carry $12,000 in cash to the bank. The three women, all living in the country illegally, were arrested on the street by customs officers apparently acting on a tip in a money-laundering investigation. After determining that the women had no useful information, the officers released them.

But the closed investigation file had showed up in the computer when she applied for a green card, Mr. Baichu told her in December; until he obtained the file and dealt with it, her application would not be approved. If she defied him, she feared, he could summon immigration enforcement agents to take her relatives to detention.

So instead of calling the police, she turned on the video recorder in her cellphone, put the phone in her purse and walked to meet the agent. Two family members said they watched anxiously from their parked car as she disappeared behind the tinted windows of his red Lexus.

“We were worried that the guy would take off, take her away and do something to her,” the woman’s widowed sister-in-law said in Spanish.

As the recorder captured the agent’s words and a lilting Guyanese accent, he laid out his terms in an easy, almost paternal style. He would not ask too much, he said: sex “once or twice,” visits to his home in the Bronx, perhaps a link to other Colombians who needed his help with their immigration problems.

In shaky English, the woman expressed reluctance, and questioned how she could be sure he would keep his word.

“If I do it, it’s like very hard for me, because I have my husband, and I really fall in love with him,” she said.

The agent insisted that she had to trust him. “I wouldn’t ask you to do something for me if I can’t do something for you, right?” he said, and reasoned, “Nobody going to help you for nothing,” noting that she had no money.

He described himself as the single father of a 10-year-old daughter, telling her, “I need love, too,” and predicting, “You will get to like me because I’m a nice guy.”

Repeatedly, she responded “O.K.,” without conviction. At one point he thanked her for showing up, saying, “I know you feel very scared.”

Finally, she tried to leave. “Let me go because I tell my husband I come home,” she said.

His reply, the recording shows, was a blunt demand for oral sex.

“Right now? No!” she protested. “No, no, right now I can’t.”

He insisted, cajoled, even empathized. “I came from a different country, too,” he said. “I got my green card just like you.”

Then, she said, he grabbed her. During the speechless minute that follows on the recording, she said she yielded to his demand out of fear that he would use his authority against her.

How Much Corruption?

The charges against Mr. Baichu, who became a United States citizen in 1991 and earns roughly $50,000 a year, appear to be part of a larger pattern, according to government records and interviews.

Mr. Maxwell, the immigration agency’s former chief investigator, told Congress in 2006 that internal corruption was “rampant,” and that employees faced constant temptations to commit crime.

“It is only a small step from granting a discretionary waiver of an eligibility rule to asking for a favor or taking a bribe in exchange for granting that waiver,” he contended. “Once an employee learns he can get away with low-level corruption and still advance up the ranks, he or she becomes more brazen.”

Mr. Maxwell’s own deputy, Lloyd W. Miner, 49, of Hyattsville, Md., turned out to be an example. He was sentenced March 7 to a year in prison for inducing a 21-year-old Mongolian woman to stay in the country illegally, and harboring her in his house.

Other cases include that of a 60-year-old immigration adjudicator in Santa Ana, Calif., who was charged with demanding sexual favors from a 29-year-old Vietnamese woman in exchange for approving her citizenship application. The agent, Eddie Romualdo Miranda, was acquitted of a felony sexual battery charge last August, but pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and was sentenced to probation.

In Atlanta, another adjudicator, Kelvin R. Owens, was convicted in 2005 of sexually assaulting a 45-year-old woman during her citizenship interview in the federal building, and sentenced to weekends in jail for six months. And a Miami agent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement responsible for transporting a Haitian woman to detention is awaiting trial on charges that he took her to his home and raped her.

“Despite our best efforts there are always people ready to use their position for personal gain or personal pleasure,” said Chris Bentley, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Services. “Our responsibility is to ferret them out.”

When the Queens woman came to The Times with her recording on Jan. 3, she was afraid of retaliation from the agent, and uncertain about making a criminal complaint, though she had an appointment the next day at the Queens district attorney’s office.

She followed through, however, and Carmencita Gutierrez, an assistant district attorney, began monitoring phone calls between the agent and the young woman, a spokesman said. When Mr. Baichu arranged to meet the woman on March 11 at the Flagship Restaurant on Queens Boulevard, investigators were ready.

In the conversation recorded there, according to the criminal complaint, Mr. Baichu told her he expected her to do “just like the last time,” and offered to take her to a garage or the bathroom of a friend’s real estate business so she would be “more comfortable doing it” there.

Mr. Baichu was arrested as he emerged from the diner and headed to his car, wearing much gold and diamond jewelry, prosecutors said. Later released on $15,000 bail, Mr. Baichu referred calls for comment to his lawyer, Sally Attia, who said he did not have authority to grant or deny green card petitions without his supervisor’s approval.

The young woman’s ordeal is not over. Her husband overheard her speaking about it to a cousin about a month ago, and she had to tell him the whole story, she said.

“He was so mad at me, he left my house,” she said, near tears. “I don’t know if he’s going to come back.”

The green card has not come through. “I’m still hoping,” she said.

Angelica Medaglia contributed reporting.


11) March 22, 2008
Debt-Gorged British Start to Worry That the Party Is Ending

LONDON — At one point, Alexis Hall had more than 50 pairs of designer shoes and handbags. It never occurred to the 39-year-old media relations executive from Glasgow that her £31,500 in debt ($63,000) would be a problem.

“It was so easy to get the loans and the credit that you almost think the goods are a gift from the shop,” she said. “You don’t fully realize that it’s real money you are spending until you actually sit down and consolidate your bills and then it’s a shock.”

As the United States economy weakens, many Americans are being overwhelmed by personal debt, but Britons are even more profligate. For most of the last decade, consumers here went on a debt-financed spending spree that made them the most indebted rich nation in the world, racking up a record £1.4 trillion in debt ($2.8 trillion) — more than the country’s gross domestic product.

By comparison, personal debt in the United States is $13.8 trillion, including mortgage debt, slightly less than the country’s $14 trillion G.D.P.

And while the Federal Reserve in Washington has cut interest rates, in an effort to loosen lenders’ grip on credit, the Bank of England’s interest rate increases last year are trickling through to mortgages at the very time home values are dropping and banks are becoming more reluctant to lend.

Until now, debt has mostly been a good thing for Britain. In the hands of free-spending consumers, it fueled economic growth. The government borrowed heavily in recent years to invest in infrastructure, health and education, creating a virtuous cycle: government spending led to job creation, which led to greater consumer confidence and more spending, which, in turn, stimulated growth.

Economists say Britain’s relationship to debt is complex, but at its core is a phenomenon more akin to recent American history than European trends. As in the United States, a decade-long housing boom and strong economic growth bolstered consumer confidence, creating a perception of wealth almost unknown in countries like Germany and Italy.

“Culturally, maybe also because of the defeat in the war, Germans remain reluctant to borrow and banks are often state-owned, pushing less for profits from lending,” said Alistair Milne, a professor at Cass Business School in London.

Since many younger Britons have never lived through a period of slow growth, few now see the need to hold back on borrowing, not to mention saving.

“The general mantra is spend now, think later,” said Jason Butler, an adviser at Bloomsbury Financial Planning. “It’s easier to get a loan or a credit card these days than to get a savings product.”

The average British adult has 2.8 credit or debit cards, more than any other country in Europe. A growing number are borrowing to pay for vacations, furniture, even plastic surgery. As a result, Britons are spending more than they earn, racking up a household debt-to-income ratio of 1.62 compared with 1.42 in the United States and 1.09 in Germany.

To her parent’s generation, Ms. Hall said, owing money beyond a mortgage was “shameful,” an admission of living beyond one’s means. Debt was also more difficult to get.

That changed in the late 1990s when American lenders, including Citigroup and CapitalOne, pushed into the British market with a panoply of new lending products. Fierce competition among banks meant potential borrowers were suddenly bombarded with advertising and offers for low- or no-interest loans and credit cards.

While Britain’s financial regulators watched the explosion of retail lending from the sidelines, their counterparts in Germany and France were more restrictive. As a result, the British market became the largest and most sophisticated in Europe.

The growth was also fueled by soaring demand for debt on the back of rising real estate prices and relatively low interest rates in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Those who did not own a house rushed to join the homeowners watching their property triple in value.

The trend on the Continent was the opposite. Home prices in most European countries barely moved, mainly because markets were more regulated, there was more housing stock and renting was more popular.

Liz Bingham, head of restructuring at Ernst & Young in London, blames the obsession with homeownership on Britain’s “island mentality”: land is seen as a finite good and a valuable asset.

“The housing boom automatically made people feel richer than they actually were and people went on to use the equity locked up in their property almost as a bank account they can dip into every time they want to buy a new car,” Ms. Bingham said.

As the perception of wealth grew, the social stigma around debt disappeared. Borrowing became such an accepted part of life that today one in five teenagers does not consider being in debt to be a bad thing, a survey by Nationwide Building Society showed.

Debt levels increased further as it became easier to get loans, and retailers, like computer chain PC World, offered both goods and the loans to buy them. Consumers happily accepted, thinking that as long as they were deemed creditworthy, they were not in danger of defaulting.

Andy Davie is a case in point. Even after he had racked up £70,000 in personal debt trying to keep his fruit and vegetable business afloat, credit card issuers kept increasing his credit limits.

“You tend to use credit to pay for credit and as far as the banks are concerned you are fine,” said Mr. Davie, 41.

He was finally forced to declare bankruptcy. Though still painful, the process made the prospect of defaulting slightly less daunting.

“Rather than showing up at court you just fill in an online form and speak to someone on the phone,” said Mark Sands, director of personal insolvency at KPMG in London.

The ease of the bankruptcy process, the availability of debt, the property boom and strong economic growth, lulled consumers into a “false sense of security that is now coming to haunt us,” said James Falla, a debt adviser at London-based Thomas Charles.

“It’s all good as long as the economy is doing well, but if that changes people will really get caught short,” he added.

And things are changing. Growth has already started to slow this year, and the government lowered its 2008 forecast to 1.75 percent to 2.25 percent, after 3.1 percent growth last year.

Home prices are falling, despite a dearth of housing and an influx of wealthy Middle Easteners and Russians, especially in London. Last year, housing foreclosures reached the highest level since 1999 and are expected to rise still further this year.

And more than one million homeowners have adjustable-rate mortgages that are expected to reset in the next 12 months — to significantly higher rates.

The prospect of rising costs has already prompted some consumers to change their spending habits. The camera retailer Jessops and the fashion store French Connection are among retailers feeling the squeeze and reporting lower sales since the end of 2007.

But changing spending habits will not be enough to solve the problem of rising debt levels, said Mr. Butler, the debt adviser. Consumers will also have to learn to save.

According to a survey for the Office of National Statistics, less than half the population saves regularly, and more than 39 percent said they would rather enjoy a good standard of living today than save for retirement. Ms. Hall said she was among that 39 percent. She recently took out new loans, planning to repay her existing debt. But she ended up spending the money on more luxury goods instead.

This year, she published a book about her experiences. She said she did not expect the book’s proceeds to repay her debts, but it may help the growing number of people in similar positions cope with theirs.


12) Pentagon Urges Delay in U.S. Troop Reductions in Iraq
March 22, 2008

WASHINGTON — Senior military commanders have presented the Bush administration with proposals to put off any plans for further reductions of troops in Iraq at least until the end of summer. At the same time, the proposals would limit new deployments to 12 months, instead of 15 months now, military and administration officials said Friday.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met for a second day in closed sessions with the Pentagon’s top officers to outline recommendations to be presented to President Bush on Wednesday.

Mr. Bush is to discuss the proposals with the senior commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, in a videoconference on Monday and is expected to make a decision about any additional withdrawals before he leaves on April 1 for a five-day trip to Ukraine, Romania and Croatia, the officials said.

Last September, facing intense pressure from Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress, Mr. Bush announced that he would withdraw five combat brigades and two Marine battalions by July. Those reductions, not yet complete, would effectively return the number of troops in Iraq to roughly 140,000, a level slightly higher than before Mr. Bush ordered the buildup that became known as the “surge.”

Mr. Gates’s spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said four more departing brigades, each with more than 3,000 troops, had yet to leave Iraq, making it difficult to assess the effect on security in Iraq of the reduction of troops ordered last fall. There are now 155,000 American troops in Iraq, down from a peak of 170,000 last fall.

“A pause of some duration is worthwhile to figure out the impact of the rapid withdrawal of the last four surge brigades,” Mr. Morrell said. “So losing those four brigades over the course of four months is going to require some assessment of the impact that has.” He declined to discuss in detail the proposals that Mr. Gates heard in the meetings in recent days.

General Petraeus and other officials have made it clear that they want more time to assess what happens after the withdrawals are completed, leaving 15 combat brigades in Iraq. In his public remarks on Wednesday, the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the war, Mr. Bush strongly suggested that he would not hasten the reductions.

The debate over troop levels in Iraq has caused divisions among senior commanders. Adm. William J. Fallon, the leader of Central Command, which oversees operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, argued publicly for continued withdrawals in Iraq after only a brief pause. That put him at odds with General Petraeus.

Admiral Fallon resigned last week, effective the end of March, saying the perception of differences with Mr. Bush had become a distraction. His resignation prompted accusations that the White House had punished dissenting views about maintaining a large force in Iraq.

A senior administration official said a consensus had formed among senior officers at the Pentagon and in Baghdad about putting off any further discussion of reductions.

One reason for that, the official said, is that it was possible that by July the Army could shorten tours in Iraq by 3 months to 12 months. The extension of tours, which began with the surge last April, has been unpopular among soldiers and officers, and ending them has been one of Mr. Gates’s goals. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal policy deliberations ahead of Mr. Bush’s decision.

The prospect of a pause in withdrawals, especially a lengthy one, could reignite antiwar feelings on Capitol Hill, which have diminished in intensity since September, when General Petraeus last testified before Congress. Democrats have lately shifted their focus to the costs of the war, which could resonate in a time of economic turmoil at home.

Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, said it would be a mistake not to continue “a careful but deliberate” reduction in troops. “You’ve got to signal to the Army and the Marine Corps that this treadmill in and out of Iraq is going to stop,” he said in a telephone interview.

Senator Reed, a former Army infantry officer and a member of the Armed Services Committee, also said a long pause would ease pressure on Iraqi leaders to make greater strides toward improving security and governance.


13) Melting Pace of Glaciers Is Accelerating, Report Says
March 18, 2008

Most of the world’s mountain glaciers, many of which feed major rivers and water supplies, are shrinking at an accelerating pace as the climate warms, according to a new report.

The report charts changes through 2006. It was issued Monday by the World Glacier Monitoring Service, which is based at the University of Zurich and supported by the United Nations Environment Program.

“The latest figures are part of what appears to be an accelerating trend with no apparent end in sight,” said Wilfried Haeberli, the director of the glacier service.

The study included data from 30 glaciers spread around nine mountainous regions.

Several ice experts not associated with the report said year-to-year changes in the overall mass of ice locked in these moving frozen rivers did not always denote a trend. But they added that the long-term trend was clearly toward a warming world with less mountain ice — and related water troubles, including both floods and shortages, from the Andes to the Himalayas.

The global average temperature dropped from its seasonal norm in recent months, and the Northern Hemisphere has had unusually extensive snow. But many experts have said those developments are almost assuredly a short-term wiggle on the way to more warming and melting from the influence of long-lived greenhouse gases produced mainly by burning fuels and forests.

The big danger ahead, several glacier experts said, is that the loss of glaciers would take away a summertime source of river water, drinking water and hydroelectric power in populous, relatively poor places like South Asia and the cities along the western slope of the Andes.

“Millions of people depend on the runoff from mountain snow and ice in the warm seasons,” said Peter Gleick, who has studied water and climate for two decades and is the president of the Pacific Institute, a private research group in Oakland, Calif. “Climate change is going to make that runoff disappear.”


14) A War Protest Falls Short in Manhattan
March 23, 2008

The goal of the organizers of the “River to River: Join Hands for Peace” protest on Saturday was modest.

To make a statement against the war in Iraq, they needed thousands of people to stretch their arms fingertip to fingertip across most of the width of Manhattan, along 14th Street from 11th Avenue in the west to Avenue A in the east.

“We figure three feet per person, not including the intersections,” said Leslie Kielson, 44, a New York coordinator for a group called United for Peace and Justice and the lead organizer of the march. “So we need about 2,500 people.”

The protest marking the fifth anniversary of the war fell short.

There were huge gaps a block or so west of where Ms. Kielson spoke, at the south end of Union Square. Organizers asked passers-by, “Hello, would you like to join the peace line for a second?” On many blocks, there were more people waiting at bus shelters than demonstrators.

Ms. Kielson said her group was a 75-member coalition of unions, religious organizations and neighborhood groups. She said that in contrast to protests against the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the early stages of this war, large groups of students from Columbia, New York University and other institutions did not turn out Saturday.

For the most part, the demonstrators were parents with children, middle-aged people or older protesters with long white hair tucked underneath berets or bandannas with antiwar buttons.

Jonathan Fluck, 53, an actor from Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, who attended the protest, was frustrated. The war is “so under the radar, it’s like it’s not happening,” he said.

Two of the few protesters in their 20s were Jose Negroni, 26, a schoolteacher from Queens, and his fiancée, Claire Noelle Frost, 24, a professional organizer. Both carried small drums to beat on in case their voices became strained from chanting.

Mr. Negroni said the volunteer Army had removed a goad to war protests. “If there were a draft, there would be probably 150,000 people for every protester like you and me,” he said to Ms. Frost.

Farther down the human chain, Eileen Scareshefsky, a school office worker from Manhattan, said she had been to scores of protests since her first, in 1967. “This could be my 100th protest,” she said.

Her friend Sheila Zukowsky, 57, of Washington Heights, said, “We’re both children of the ’60s.” She was puzzled by the lack of college students protesting. She said, half joking, “Maybe they weren’t on the right e-mail list?”

The protest ended with a procession of two cardboard coffins to the corner of Park Avenue South and East 17th Street — one draped with an American flag, and the other with an American flag and an Iraqi flag.

Organizers said they would hold a candlelight vigil in Union Square on the day after the 4,000th United States military death in Iraq. As of Wednesday, the Department of Defense had identified 3,984 service members killed since the start of the Iraq war. On Friday and Saturday, four more soldiers were killed.

Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.


15) U.S. Death Toll in Iraq War Hits 4,000
March 25, 2008

By the time Specialist Jerry Ryen King decided to write about his experiences in Iraq, the teen-age paratrooper had more to share than most soldiers.

In two operations to clear the outskirts of the village of Turki in the deadly Diyala Province, Specialist King and the rest of the Fifth Squadron faced days of firefights, grenade attacks and land mines. Well-trained insurgents had burrowed deep into muddy canals, a throwback to the trenches of World War I. As the fighting wore on, B-1 bombers and F-16s were called in to drop a series of powerful bombs.

Once the area was clear of insurgents, the squadron, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, uncovered hidden caches with thousands of weapons.

Two months later, Specialist King, a handsome former honors student and double-sport athlete from Georgia, sat down at his computer. In informal but powerful prose, he began a journal.

After 232 long, desolate, morose, but somewhat days of tranquility into deployment, I’ve decided that I should start writing some of the things I experienced here in Iraq. I have to say that the events that I have encountered here have changed my outlook on life...

The most recent mission started out as a 24-36 hour air-assault sniper mission in a known al-Qaida stronghold just north of Baghdad. We landed a few hours before daybreak and as soon as I got off the helicopter my night vision broke, I was surrounded by the sound of artillery rounds, people screaming in Arabic, automatic weapons, and the terrain didn’t look anything like what we were briefed. I knew it was going to be a bad day and a half.

Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, March 7, 2007

A month later, Specialist King was sitting inside his combat outpost, an abandoned school in Sadah, when suicide bombers exploded two dump trucks just outside the building. The school collapsed, killing Specialist King on April 23, 2007, along with eight other soldiers, and making the blast one of the most lethal for Americans fighting in Iraq.

In that instant, Specialist King became one of 4,000 service members and Defense Department civilians to die in the Iraq war — a milestone that was reached late Sunday, five years since the war began in March 2003. The last four members of that group, like the majority of the most recent 1,000 to die, were killed by an improvised explosive device. They died at 10 p.m. Sunday on a patrol in Baghdad, military officials said; their names have not yet been released.

The next day we cleared an area that made me feel as if I were in Vietnam. Honestly, it was one of the scariest times of my life. At one point I was in water up to my waist and heard an AK fire in my direction. But all in all the day was going pretty good, no one was hurt, I got to shoot a few rounds, toss a grenade, and we were walking to where the helicopter was supposed to pick us up.

Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, March 7, 2007

The year 2007 would prove to be especially hard on American service members; more of them died last year than in any other since the war began. Many of those deaths came in the midst of the 30,000-troop buildup known as “the surge,” the linchpin of President Bush’s strategy to tamp down widespread violence between Islamic Sunnis and Shiites, much of it in the country’s capital, Baghdad. In April, May and June alone, 331 American service members died, making it the deadliest three-month period since the war began.

But by fall, the strategy, bolstered by new alliances with Sunni tribal chiefs and a decision by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr to order his militia to stop fighting, appeared to be paying off as the country entered a period of relative calm. Military casualties and Iraqi civilian deaths fell, and the October-December period produced the fewest casualties of any three months of the war. The past month, though, has seen an uptick in killings and explosions, particularly suicide bombings. Much of the violence has traveled north to Mosul, where the group calling itself Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia remains strong.

Everything changed in a matter of 15 minutes... About the time I was opening my MRE (meal ready to eat) I heard an explosion. Everyone started running towards the sound of the explosion. Apparently a suicide bomber had blown himself up killing four soldiers from my squadron and injuring another. Our 36 hour mission turned into another air- assault into a totally different city, the clearing of it, and 5 more days. We did find over 100 RPG’s, IED making materials, insurgents implacing IED’s, artillery rounds, a sniper rifle, and sort of like a terrorist training book and cd’s.

Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, March 7, 2007

Unlike the soldiers of previous wars, who were only occasionally able to send letters back home to loved ones, many of those who died left behind an extraordinary electronic testimony describing in detail the labor, the fears and the banality of serving in Iraq.

In excerpts published here from journals, blogs and e-mail messages, five soldiers who died in the most recent group of 1,000 mostly skim the alarming particulars of combat, a kindness shown their relatives and close friends. Instead, they plunge readily into the mundane, but no less important rhythms of home. They fire off comments about holiday celebrations, impending weddings, credit card bills, school antics and the creeping anxiety of family members who are coping with one deployment too many.

At other moments, the service members describe the humor of daily life down range, as they call it. Hurriedly, with little time to worry about spelling or grammar, they riff on the chaos around them and reveal moments of fear. As casualties climb and the violence intensifies, so does their urge to share their grief and foreboding.

A Last Goodbye

Hey beautiful well we were on blackout again, we lost yet some more soldiers. I cant wait to get out of this place and return to you where i belong. I dont know how much more of this place i can take. i try to be hard and brave for my guys but i dont know how long i can keep that up you know. its like everytime we go out, any little bump or sounds freaks me out. maybe im jus stressin is all. hopefully ill get over it....

you know, you never think that anything is or can happen to you, at first you feel invincible, but then little by little things start to wear on you...

well im sure well be able to save a couple of bucks if you stay with your mom....and at the same time you can help her with some of the bills for the time being. it doesnt bother me. as long as you guys are content is all that matters. I love and miss you guys like crazy. I know i miss both of you too. at times id like to even just spend 1 minute out of this nightmare just to hold and kiss you guys to make it seem a little bit easier. im sure he will like whatever you get him for xmas, and i know that as he gets older he’ll understand how things work. well things here always seem to be......uhm whats the word.....interesting i guess you can say. you never know whats gonna happen and thats the worst part. do me a favor though, when you go to my sisters or moms or wherever you see my family let them know that i love them very much..ok? well i better get going, i have a lot of stuff to do. but hopefully ill get to hear from you pretty soon.*muah* and hugs. tell mijo im proud of him too!

love always,
your other half
Juan Campos, e-mail message to his wife, Dec. 12, 2006.

When Staff Sgt. Juan Campos, 27, flew from Baghdad to Texas for two weeks last year, there was more on his mind than rest and relaxation. He visited his father’s grave, which he had never seen. He spent time with his grandparents and touched base with the rest of his rambling, extended family.

The day he was scheduled to return to war, Sergeant Campos and his wife went out dancing and drinking all evening with friends. Calm and reserved by nature, Sergeant Campos could out-salsa and out-hip-hop most anyone on the dance floor. At the airport, his wife, Jamie Campos, who had grown used to the upheaval of deployment, surprised herself.

“I cried and I have never ever cried before,” said Mrs. Campos, 26, who has a 9-year-old son, Andre. “It was just really, really weird. He knew, and I kind of knew. It felt different.”

“We both felt that it was the last goodbye,” she said.

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2006
Mood: gloomy
The life of an infantryman is never do I know, well I live it every day.

I lost a good friend of mine just two days ago to an enemy sniper. The worst feeling in the world is having lost one of your own and not being able to fight back. The more I go on patrol, the more alert I tend to be, but regardless of the situation here in Iraq is that we are never safe. No matter the countermeasures we take to prevent any attacks. They seem to seep through the cracks. Every day a soldier is lost or wounded by enemy attacks. I for one would like to make it home to my family one day. Pray for us and keep us in your thoughts...for an infantryman’s life is never safe.

Juan Campos, Myspace blog

Sergeant Campos, a member of the First Battalion, 26th Infantry, Charlie Company out of Germany, was one of thousands of infantrymen assigned to stabilize Baghdad and the surrounding areas last year during the troop buildup. Troops were sent deep into insurgent neighborhoods, where they lived in small outposts, patrolled on foot, cleared houses, mingled with Iraqis and rebuilt the infrastructure.

The extra 30,000 service members — 160,000 in all — were deployed to Iraq to help quell the runaway violence that threatened large-scale civil war. Most soldiers spent 15 months in Iraq, a length of time that military commanders have said is unsustainable. Many had fought in the war at least once. A few had been in Iraq multiple times.

My only goals are to make it out of this place alive and return you guys and make you as happy as I can.

Juan Campos, e-mail message to his wife, Dec. 15, 2006.

But to Sergeant Campos and the rest of Charlie Company in Adhamiya, a north Baghdad stronghold for Sunni insurgents, the buildup seemed oddly invisible. The men patrolled almost every day, sometimes 16 to 18 hours a day for months, often in 120-degree weather. Exhaustion was too kind a word for their fatigue.

More than 150 soldiers lived in a two-story house with portable toilets, no air-conditioning and temperamental showers. Sleep came only a few hours at a time. The fighting was vicious. Adhamiya was such a magnet for sectarian bloodletting that the military built a wall around it to contain the violence.

“They walled us in and left us there,” Staff Sgt. Robin Johnson, 28, said of the 110 men in Charlie Company. “We were a family. I would die for these guys before I die for my own blood brother.”

On patrol, sniper fire rang out so routinely that soldiers in Sergeant Campos’s platoon seldom stood still for more than four seconds. They scoured rooftops for Iraqi children who lobbed grenades at American soldiers for a handful of cash. Roadside bombs burst from inside drainage pipes, impossible to detect from the street. The bombs grew larger by the month.

Last year, these powerful improvised explosive devices, known as I.E.D.s were responsible for a majority of American fatalities, a new milestone. The bombs also killed multiple soldiers more often than in the past, a testament to their potency.

“It was the most horrible thing you could possibly imagine,” Sergeant Johnson said. “As soon as you left the gate, you could die at any second. If you went out for a day and you weren’t attacked, it was confusing.”

Charlie Company soldiers found a steady stream of Iraqis murdered by insurgents for money or revenge. Some had their faces wiped clean by acid. Others were missing their heads or limbs.

'It Could Have Been Me'

to tell the story of iraq is a hard one.

Ryan Wood, Myspace blog.

Sgt. Ryan M. Wood, 22, a gifted artist, prolific writer and a sly romantic from Oklahoma, was also one of the bluntest soldiers inside Charlie Company.

it is fighting extreme boredom with the lingering thought in the forefront of your mind that any minute on this patrol could be my last endeavour, only highlighted by times of such extreme terror and an adrenaline rush that no drug can touch. what [expletive] circumstances thinking “that should’ve been me” or “it could’ve been me”. wondering it that pile of trash will suddenly explode killing you or worse one of your beloved comrads..only backed by the past thoughts and experiences of really losing friends of yours and not feeling completely hopeless that it was all for nothing because all in all, you know the final outcome of this war. it is walking on that thin line between sanity and insanity. that feeling of total abandonment by a government and a country you used to love because politics are fighting this war......and its a losing battle....and we’re the ones ultimently paying the price.

Ryan Wood, Myspace blog, Adhamiya

For the soldiers in Iraq, reconciling Adhamiya with America was not always easy. One place was buried in garbage and gore and hopelessness. The other seemed unmoored from the war, fixated on the minutia of daily life and the hiccups of the famous. The media was content to indulge.


“What the hell happened?” any intelligent American might ask themselves throughout their day. While the ignorant, dragging themselves to thier closed off cubicle, contemplate the simple things in life such as “fast food tonight?” or “I wonder what motivated Brittany Spears to shave her unsightly, mishaped domepiece?”

To the simpleton, this news might appear “devastating.” I assume not everyone thinks this way, but from my little corner of the earth, Iraq, a spot in the world a majority of Americans could’nt point out on the map, it certainly appears so. This little piece of truly, heart-breaking news captured headlines and apparently American imaginations as FOX news did a two hour, truly enlightening piece of breaking news history. American veiwers watched intently, and impatiently as the pretty colors flashed and the media exposed the inner workings of Brittany’s obviously, deep character. I was amazed, truly dumbfounded wondering how we as Americans have sank so low. To all Americans I have but one phrase that helps me throughout my day of constant dangers and ever present death around the corner, “WHO THE [expletive] CARES!” Wow America, we have truly become a nation of self-absorbed retards. ... This world has serious problems and it’s time for America to start addressing them.

Ryan Wood, Myspace blog, May 26, 2007

The somberness of the job was hard to shake off. But, day to day, there was no more reliable antidote than Pfc. Daniel J. Agami, a South Floridian with biceps the size of cantaloupes, and Pfc. Ryan J. Hill, a self-described hellion who loved his “momma” and hailed from what he called the “felony flats” of Oregon. Funny men in the best sense of the word, the two provided a valuable and essential commodity in a war zone.

Their mother jokes — the kind that begin, “your mother is so...” — were legendary, culminating in a Myspace joke-off. It ended abruptly after an enough-is-enough phone call from Private Hill’s mother, who ranked No. 1 on his list of heroes in Myspace. Private Agami proclaimed victory.

About a month later...I went to my room and my mattress was missing and all my close were being worn by other people. I couldn’t figure it out so I knew right off the bat to go to Hill. I saw him walking down the hall wearing five of my winter jackets. He sold half my wardrobe right off his back to people in our company and my mattress was in someone else’s room. So then I had go to around and buy all my stuff back. (Now I think he won).

Daniel J. Agami, Charlie Company. Eulogy sent via e-mail message to his mother, Jan. 29, 2007

To keep their spirits up, combat soldiers learned to appreciate the incongruities of war in Iraq. Jokes scrawled inside a Port-o-Potty quickly made the rounds. Situational humor, from goofy to macabre, proved plentiful.

A really girly guy who was a cheerleader in high school, got knocked down and nearly hurt by the wind of the helicopter. Listening to Dickson recite what was in every single MRE was pretty funny. A cow charged and nearly trampled one of my friends when we were raiding a compound. And lastly, I thought that it was pretty comical that I shot at a guy a long ways out but missed and later after taking his house and using it as a patrol base he offered me Chai and rice.

Jerry Ryen King, Diyala Province

Even a trip to the dentist, with its fringe benefits, is cause for amusement in a war zone.

Last Sat. I had two of my wisdom teeth pulled. After taking double the prescribe percocot and morphine pills that the doctor gave me for the pain I decided to catch a flight back to my FOB (forward operation base). It was the coolest Blackhawk ride I’ve had, I was absolutely ripped and I talked the pilots into leaving the doors open. We had four more guys die a couple days ago. They hit an IED, it killed everyone in the humvee.. It’s starting to get a little scary. We made it our first six months with just two deaths and that was plenty. But now just in the past two and a half weeks we’ve had nine more guys get killed, and over 50 wounded. I’m just hoping that I can make it the 75 more days or so that we have left of combat operations before we start packing.

Jerry Ryen King, journal entry, April 11, 2007

Among the guys in Charlie Company, Private Agami, 25, was among the boldest and close to impossible to depress. He was the kind of guy who joined an endurance ski contest on a whim. He came in fourth. He had never skied in his life.

Private Agami had time for everyone, and everyone had time for him. Affectionately called GI Jew, he held his religion up to the light. He used it to build tolerance among the troops and shatter stereotypes; few in his unit had ever met a Jew. He flew the Israeli flag over his cot in Adhamiya. He painted the words Hebrew Hammer onto his rifle. He even managed to keep kosher, a feat that required a steady diet of protein shakes and cereal.

Commander Mom, I cant wait to come home and when I do, dont worry ill have allot to say to the congregation. Dont worry about my mental stage either, we all receive counseling and help from doctors when something like this happens. I am a strong individual physically and mentally and if there is one thing the army teaches you, it is how to deal with death. Everyday that passes it gets easier and easier. I miss you guys very much and I love you!

Daniel Agami, e-mail message to his mother, Oct. 28, 2006

It did not get easier.

I try not to cry. I have never cried this much my entire life. two great men got taken from us way too soon. i wonder why it was them in not me. I sit here right now wondering why did they go to the gates of heaven n not me. I try everynight count my blessing that I made it another day but why are we in this hell over here? why? i cant stop askin why?

Ryan Hill, Myspace blog, Nov. 1, 2006

Private Hill was riding in a Humvee on Jan. 20, 2007 when an I.E.D. buried in the middle of the road detonated under his seat, killing him instantly.

Sergeant Campos was riding in a Humvee on May 14, 2007, two weeks after returning from Texas, when it hit an I.E.D. The bomb lifted the Humvee five feet off the ground and engulfed it in flames. “That’s when we just left hope at the door,” Sergeant. Johnson said. Severely burned over 80 percent of his body, Sergeant Campos lived two weeks. He died June 1. Another soldier, Pfc. Nicholas S. Hartge, 20, of Indiana, died in the same attack.

Private Agami was driving a Bradley fighting vehicle on June 21, 2007 when it hit an I.E.D. The explosion flipped the 30-ton vehicle, which also carried Sergeant Wood. Both men were killed, along with three other soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter.

“Obviously, it came to a point, you didn’t care anymore if it got better,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy S. Rausch, 31, one of Sergeant Campos’s best friends in Charlie Company. “You didn’t care about the people because they didn’t care about themselves. We had already lost enough people that we just thought, you know, ‘why?’ ”

During their time in Adhamiya, the soldiers of Charlie Company caught more than two dozen high-value targets, found nearly 50 weapons caches, detained innumerable insurgents and won countless combat awards. They lost 14 men. Their mission was hailed a success.
Just in Case

Texan to the core, enamored of the military, Specialist Daniel E. Gomez, 21, an Army combat medic in the division’s Alpha Company, relied on his books, his iPod and an Xbox to distract him from the swirl.

strange but this place where we are at is unreal almost. I hope I come back mentally in shape. lol.

Daniel Gomez, Myspace blog, Sept. 9, 2006

He took pride in being the guy who tended to wounded soldiers under fire, patching them up to help them survive. He did not hesitate to do the same for Iraqis.

this iraqi national who I have to say was extremely lucky that he escaped with only sharpnel wounds (metal fragments that fly away from a bomb) when he was standin near a car bomb that was aimed at Iraqi police patrol. Turns out it blow up just when we were passin by soo we had to stop and help. He really was not that lucky though...He had sharpnel to the ankle (it was also broken), to the calf and in the stomach. And he lost his 2 sons in the blast. this [expletive] happens everyday here. [Expletive] insurgents. Anyhow there are more pictures.

Daniel Gomez, e-mail message to friends and family, Sept. 15, 2006

As the violence intensified, Specialist Gomez set aside thoughts of a free Iraq or a safer America and, like generations of soldiers before him, simply started fighting for the soldier next to him.

A few days ago I realized why I am here in Baghdad dealing with all the gunfire, the rocket attacks, the IEDs, the car bombs, the death. I have only been here going on a month and a half. Already I have seen what war really is... but officially its called “full spectrum operations.” No I don’t down Bush, he is my CinC, and I think he is doing an good job with what Clinton left him. I don’t debate why we are involved in Iraq. I just know why I am here. It is not for the smiling Iraqi kids, or the even the feeling of wearing the uniform ( it feels damn good though :) . I am here for the soldier on patrol with me.

But why are you there in the states. Why are you having that nice dinner, watching TV, going out on dates...

Daniel Gomez, e-mail to friends and family. Sept. 27, 2006

And then Specialist Gomez fell in love. An e-mail flirtation with Katy Broom, his sister’s close friend, gradually led to a cyber exchange of guarded promises about the future. Headed home for a rest break in May, the tentativeness lifted and they began to rely on each other to get through the day. The two joked about “the best sex we never had.”

...this R&R there is someone new in my life. Exactly what she is too me, and what I am to her is uncertain, but its not really important at the moment. Just the thought that I could spent a second of my life with her, before I have to come back here makes everything worth it.

Daniel Gomez, Myspace blog, May 9, 2007

Rest and relaxation in Georgia went better than expected. He fell in love with the love of his life all over again, this time in person. The couple shared one kiss during his leave.

“He was everything I expected and more,” said Ms. Broom, 20, who spent one week and two days with him. “It was kind of surreal when we met. It’s almost like a perfect love and war story.”

Not many soldiers leave behind a just-in-case letter. Specialist Gomez did. He handed Ms. Broom an envelope at the airport with the words, “Don’t read unless something happens to me.”

On July 18, 2007, two months after his leave, Specialist Gomez died in Adhamiya when the Bradley fighting vehicle he was in struck a roadside bomb. The explosion and flames also killed three other soldiers.

Ms. Broom waited three days after she got word to open the letter. She sat alone in the couple’s favorite spot, her apartment balcony.

“I was very thankful that he wrote it,” she said of the letter. “I have opened and closed it so many times, I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen apart.”

R+R 2007

Hey baby. If you’re reading this, then something has happen to me and I am sorry. I promised you I would come back to you, but I guess it was a promise I could not keep. You know I never believe in writing “death letters.” I knew if I left one for my folks it would scare them. Then I met you. We were supposed to meet, darling. I needed someone to make me smile, someone that was an old romantic like I was. I was going through a very rough time in Iraq and I was startin to doubt my mental state. Then one day after a patrol, I go to my facebook and there you were...

I can’t stop crying while I writing this letter, but I have to talk to you one last time, because maybe the last time I heard your voice I did not know it would be the last time I heard your voice....

I Love You. Go be happy, go raise a family. Teach your kids right from wrong, and have faith, darling. I think I knew I loved you even before I met. I love you, Katy. * Kiss * Goodbye


16) War Dodgers
March 23, 2008

Next month, the Canadian House of Commons is slated to debate a resolution that would allow conscientious objectors “who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations” to apply for residency in Canada. The phrasing is vague but the intent is not. The war in question is the Iraq war, and the resolution represents the culmination of a four-year debate about what to do with the small but steady stream of American soldiers who have fled across our northern border to avoid fighting in Iraq.

It all began in Jan. 2004, when a young American with a long, serious face walked into the Toronto law office of Jeffry House to ask for help with what was at the time a highly unusual immigration case. The American turned out to be a soldier named Jeremy Hinzman, an infantryman in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. He told House that his petition for conscientious-objector status was denied while he was stationed in Afghanistan. He crossed the border into Canada just days before his unit was to be deployed to Iraq. Of the more than 25,000 American soldiers who, according to the United States Department of Defense, have deserted since 2003, the Toronto-based War Resisters Support Campaign estimates that 225 have fled to Canada. (The D.O.D defines a deserter as anyone who has been AWOL for 30 consecutive days or who seeks asylum in a foreign country; desertion carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.)

The majority of the deserters in Canada have chosen not to make the authorities aware of their presence. Like any other illegal immigrants, they have settled for invisibility. A few dozen, though, followed Hinzman’s lead. Most found their way to Jeffry House. One young Army medic named Justin Colby read an AOL news posting about Hinzman’s case while stationed in Iraq. He telephoned House from Ramadi and showed up in his office a few months later.

House would eventually represent between 30 and 35 American deserters. Most of them, like Colby, say they joined the military in part out of patriotism. “I thought Iraq had something to do with 9/11,” Colby says, “that they were the bad guys that attacked our country.” But unlike Hinzman, most did not apply for conscientious-objector status. They tend to say they aren’t opposed to all wars in principle — just to the one they were ordered to fight. It wasn’t until Colby arrived in Iraq that he started to see the conflict as “a war of aggression, totally unprovoked,” he says. “I was, like, ‘This is what my buddies are dying for?’ ” Midway through his tour, he decided: “I’m never going to do this again.” He went AWOL the day before his unit left to train for a second deployment. House says that more than two-thirds of his clients have been deployed to Iraq at least once. “One is resisting a third deployment.”

Tens of thousands of American draft dodgers and deserters took refuge in Canada in the late 1960s and early ’70s. House was one of them. He packed up his car and left his home in Wisconsin 38 years ago to start a new life in Canada. The process was simple. “I came to the border and said: ‘I would like to immigrate to Canada. I’m refusing to serve in Vietnam,’ ” he recalls. Border officials had him type up an application for residency on the spot. “Four weeks later, I got my permanent-resident status.” But times have changed since Pierre Trudeau, then the prime minister, declared Canada “a refuge from militarism.” While Canada is still a relative haven for asylum-seekers, its immigration laws have tightened sharply, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been a faithful ally of the Bush administration. (Harper has kept 2,500 Canadian troops in Afghanistan, whose deployment the House of Commons recently extended until 2011.) As a result, the new generation of war resisters find themselves in an uncomfortable squeeze. In today’s Canada, deserters like Hinzman really have only one legal option: to apply for residency as refugees.

“There’s a very clear Canadian precedent for the idea that no soldier has to participate in an illegal war,” House says. That precedent, interestingly enough, is a case in which an Iraqi Army soldier was granted asylum in Canada after fleeing to avoid taking part in the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. But House’s first task was to prove that the Iraq war is illegal. His argument relied largely on his reading of international law. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees lays out a slender possibility for relief. Mere disagreement with the “political justification for a particular military action” is not sufficient. The action must be “condemned by the international community as contrary to basic rules of human conduct.” Only in that case can punishment for desertion or draft evasion “be regarded as persecution.”

Juridically, at least, House saw the case as straightforward. A British court had awarded asylum to a Russian deserter of the Chechen war on the same basis. (British case law often influences Canadian jurisprudence.) And there was the precedent of the Iraqi deserter. But convincing the Canadian courts to equate George W. Bush’s occupation of Iraq with Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait was a politically daunting task.

In the end, House never got the chance. He showed up at Hinzman’s first hearing armed with evidence arguing for the illegality of the Iraq war: 13 four-inch-thick binders containing everything from former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s memos on the treatment of detainees to Human Rights Watch reports to the British Army’s documentation of civilian deaths at American military checkpoints. In March 2005, the immigration board ruled against Hinzman, insisting that its “authority does not include making judgments about United States foreign policy.”

A Canadian federal court upheld that decision in 2006, interpreting the relevant international law to apply only to high-level policy makers. “The ordinary foot soldier,” the court ruled, “is not expected to make his or her personal assessment as to the legality of a conflict.” All the documents in House’s 13 binders were thus irrelevant. House objected that policy makers are rarely asked to take up arms. But an appeals court ruled against him last April on other grounds.

“The present position is basically Pontius Pilate,” House told me last fall, not long before he hit the end of the legal road. In mid-November, the Supreme Court dismissed his request for an appeal. “It’s a huge loss,” House said at the time. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s the court deciding not to be involved in the controversy.”

The deserters’ fight has since passed out of the courts and into the hazy realm of politics. On Dec. 6, the Parliament’s immigration committee passed the resolution that would give American deserters a chance at residency. The vote broke down along party lines: the four members of the Conservative Party (which is currently in power but lacks a parliamentary majority) voted against it, but they were outnumbered by the seven representatives of the three major opposition parties.

Whether such unity will survive the full House of Commons debate next month remains to be seen. The Iraq war has been immensely unpopular in Canada, and the leaders of the Bloc Quebecois and the left-leaning New Democratic Party have both come out in support of the resolution. But Canadian M.P.’s tend to vote with far more party discipline than their American counterparts, and Stéphane Dion, the head of the Liberal Party, has not yet taken a public stance on the bill. Without his support, its fate is uncertain.

In the meantime, the deserters have little to do but wait. Though the United States Army does issue arrest warrants for deserters, it does not actively track them down; even at home, deserters are most likely to be apprehended if they are picked up for an unrelated offense. According to a State Department spokeswoman, the United States has made no diplomatic efforts to bring deserters home from Canada. And despite the Canadian Supreme Court decision in November, none have yet been deported. But, as House puts it, “the machinery is grinding along.” At least eight deserters, including Hinzman, have received Preremoval Risk Assessment notices, the bureaucratic preludes to actual deportation orders. It’s very unlikely, though, that the government will make any move before the parliamentary vote in April. Even then, the deserters’ supporters say they hope, the government might prefer that this issue disappear. Given the unpopularity of the Iraq war and the Harper administration’s narrow hold on power, “the Conservatives have nothing to gain if this issue becomes very public,” says Michelle Robidoux of the War Resisters Support Campaign.

Undeterred by the Supreme Court ruling, new arrivals are still showing up. Robidoux’s group has added five to its roster in just the last three weeks. For Colby, Hinzman and others, uncertainty in Canada apparently looks better than combat in Iraq. “Every day that I’m here,” Colby says, “I’m glad I’m not in Baghdad.”

Ben Ehrenreich is the author of a novel, “The Suitors,” and has written for L.A. Weekly, Men’s Vogue and The Times Book Review.


17) The War Endures, but Where’s the Media?
March 24, 2008

Five years later, the United States remains at war in Iraq, but there are days when it would be hard to tell from a quick look at television news, newspapers and the Internet.

Media attention on Iraq began to wane after the first months of fighting, but as recently as the middle of last year, it was still the most-covered topic. Since then, Iraq coverage by major American news sources has plummeted, to about one-fifth of what it was last summer, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The drop in coverage parallels — and may be explained by — a decline in public interest. Surveys by the Pew Research Center show that more than 50 percent of Americans said they followed events in Iraq “very closely” in the months just before and after the war began, but that slid to an average of 40 percent in 2006, and has been running below 30 percent since last fall.

Experts offer many other explanations for the declining media focus, like the danger and expense in covering Iraq, and shrinking newsroom budgets. In the last year, a flagging economy and the most competitive presidential campaign in memory have diverted attention and resources.

“Vietnam held the media’s attention a lot better because it was a war with a draft that touched a lot more people; people were sent against their will, and many more Americans were killed,” said Alex S. Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard.

“In a conventional war, like World War II, there’s dramatic change, a moving front line, a compelling narrative,” he said. But after the triumphal first months, Iraq became a war of insurgents vs. counterinsurgents, harder to make sense of, “with more of the same grim news, day after day.”

The three broadcast networks’ nightly newscasts devoted more than 4,100 minutes to Iraq in 2003 and 3,000 in 2004, before leveling off at about 2,000 a year, according to Andrew Tyndall, who monitors the broadcasts and posts detailed breakdowns at And by the last months of 2007, he said, the broadcasts were spending half as much time on Iraq as earlier in the year.

Since the start of last year, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a part of the nonprofit Pew Research Center, has tracked reporting by several dozen major newspapers, cable stations, broadcast television networks, Web sites and radio programs. Iraq accounted for 18 percent of their prominent news coverage in the first nine months of 2007, but only 9 percent in the following three months, and 3 percent so far this year.

The policy debate in Washington that dominated last year’s Iraq coverage has almost disappeared from the news. And reporting on events in Iraq has fallen by more than two-thirds from a year ago.

The drop accelerated with a sharp decline in violence in Iraq that began at the end of last summer. The last six months have been safer for American troops than any comparable period since the war began, with about 33 killed each month, compared with about 91 a month over the previous year.

“The available news hole got so much smaller because election and economic news took up so much of the space,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Center.

There are no authoritative figures for most media coverage before 2007. But a check of several large and midsize newspapers’ archives shows a year-by-year decline in articles about Iraq, and an increase in the proportion supplied by wire services. Experts who follow the coverage say there is no doubt about the trend.

“I was getting on average three to five calls a day for interviews about the war” in the first years, said Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow on national security at the Brookings Institution. “Now it’s less than one a day.”

He argued that Americans who support the war might not have wanted to follow the news when it was bad, and that Americans against the war are less interested now that the news is better. And the presidential candidates, he said, have shown “surprisingly little interest in discussing it in detail.”

Many news organizations have fewer people in Iraq than they once did, though no definitive numbers are available. Coalition officials have said that although there were several hundred reporters embedded with military units early in the war, the number has been measured in tens in recent months.

Violence against journalists makes reporting on Iraq costly and difficult; executives of The New York Times have said that the newspaper is spending more than $3 million a year to cover Iraq. The risks have forced news organizations to hire private security forces and Iraqi employees who can go places that Westerners cannot safely explore.

From the start of the war through 2005, journalists and their support workers were killed in Iraq at a rate of one every 12 days, according to tallies kept by the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists. In 2006 and 2007, the rate was one every eight days. Most of those killed have been Iraqis.

“Danger and the expense are gigantic factors,” Mr. Jones said. “The news media have to constantly revisit how much money and risk to expend.”


18) Gap in Life Expectancy Widens for the Nation
March 23, 2008

WASHINGTON — New government research has found “large and growing” disparities in life expectancy for richer and poorer Americans, paralleling the growth of income inequality in the last two decades.

Life expectancy for the nation as a whole has increased, the researchers said, but affluent people have experienced greater gains, and this, in turn, has caused a widening gap.

One of the researchers, Gopal K. Singh, a demographer at the Department of Health and Human Services, said “the growing inequalities in life expectancy” mirrored trends in infant mortality and in death from heart disease and certain cancers.

The gaps have been increasing despite efforts by the federal government to reduce them. One of the top goals of “Healthy People 2010,” an official statement of national health objectives issued in 2000, is to “eliminate health disparities among different segments of the population,” including higher- and lower-income groups and people of different racial and ethnic background.

Dr. Singh said last week that federal officials had found “widening socioeconomic inequalities in life expectancy” at birth and at every age level.

He and another researcher, Mohammad Siahpush, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, developed an index to measure social and economic conditions in every county, using census data on education, income, poverty, housing and other factors. Counties were then classified into 10 groups of equal population size.

In 1980-82, Dr. Singh said, people in the most affluent group could expect to live 2.8 years longer than people in the most deprived group (75.8 versus 73 years). By 1998-2000, the difference in life expectancy had increased to 4.5 years (79.2 versus 74.7 years), and it continues to grow, he said.

After 20 years, the lowest socioeconomic group lagged further behind the most affluent, Dr. Singh said, noting that “life expectancy was higher for the most affluent in 1980 than for the most deprived group in 2000.”

“If you look at the extremes in 2000,” Dr. Singh said, “men in the most deprived counties had 10 years’ shorter life expectancy than women in the most affluent counties (71.5 years versus 81.3 years).” The difference between poor black men and affluent white women was more than 14 years (66.9 years vs. 81.1 years).

The Democratic candidates for president, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, have championed legislation to reduce such disparities, as have some Republicans, like Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said: “We have heard a lot about growing income inequality. There has been much less attention paid to growing inequality in life expectancy, which is really quite dramatic.”

Life expectancy is the average number of years of life remaining for people who have attained a given age.

While researchers do not agree on an explanation for the widening gap, they have suggested many reasons, including these:

¶Doctors can detect and treat many forms of cancer and heart disease because of advances in medical science and technology. People who are affluent and better educated are more likely to take advantage of these discoveries.

¶Smoking has declined more rapidly among people with greater education and income.

¶Lower-income people are more likely to live in unsafe neighborhoods, to engage in risky or unhealthy behavior and to eat unhealthy food.

¶Lower-income people are less likely to have health insurance, so they are less likely to receive checkups, screenings, diagnostic tests, prescription drugs and other types of care.

Even among people who have insurance, many studies have documented racial disparities.

In a recent report, the Department of Veterans Affairs found that black patients “tend to receive less aggressive medical care than whites” at its hospitals and clinics, in part because doctors provide them with less information and see them as “less appropriate candidates” for some types of surgery.

Some health economists contend that the disparities between rich and poor inevitably widen as doctors make gains in treating the major causes of death.

Nancy Krieger, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, rejected that idea. Professor Krieger investigated changes in the rate of premature mortality (dying before the age of 65) and infant death from 1960 to 2002. She found that inequities shrank from 1966 to 1980, but then widened.

“The recent trend of growing disparities in health status is not inevitable,” she said. “From 1966 to 1980, socioeconomic disparities declined in tandem with a decline in mortality rates.”

The creation of Medicaid and Medicare, community health centers, the “war on poverty” and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 all probably contributed to the earlier narrowing of health disparities, Professor Krieger said.

Robert E. Moffit, director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said one reason for the growing disparities might be “a very significant gap in health literacy” — what people know about diet, exercise and healthy lifestyles. Middle-class and upper-income people have greater access to the huge amounts of health information on the Internet, Mr. Moffit said.

Thomas P. Miller, a health economist at the American Enterprise Institute, agreed.

“People with more education tend to have a longer time horizon,” Mr. Miller said. “They are more likely to look at the long-term consequences of their health behavior. They are more assertive in seeking out treatments and more likely to adhere to treatment advice from physicians.”

A recent study by Ellen R. Meara, a health economist at Harvard Medical School, found that in the 1980s and 1990s, “virtually all gains in life expectancy occurred among highly educated groups.”

Trends in smoking explain a large part of the widening gap, she said in an article this month in the journal Health Affairs.

Under federal law, officials must publish an annual report tracking health disparities. In the fifth annual report, issued this month, the Bush administration said, “Over all, disparities in quality and access for minority groups and poor populations have not been reduced” since the first report, in 2003.

The rate of new AIDS cases is still 10 times as high among blacks as among whites, it said, and the proportion of black children hospitalized for asthma is almost four times the rate for white children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last month that heart attack survivors with higher levels of education and income were much more likely to receive cardiac rehabilitation care, which lowers the risk of future heart problems. Likewise, it said, the odds of receiving tests for colon cancer increase with a person’s education and income.


19) 17-year-old dies after shock from police Taser gun
A 17-year-old died at Carolinas Medical Center Thursday after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shocked him with a Taser during a confrontation at a grocery store in northeast Charlotte.
"Around lunchtime, Turner had come home to eat and told his mom that he had stolen a couple of Hot Pockets from the store. A supervisor planned to get a district manager involved and he feared disciplinary action, she said.
She said she told him to go back to the store and face up to what happened."
Posted on Fri, Mar. 21, 2008

An autopsy will determine how Darryl Wayne Turner died.

Turner had worked as a cashier and bagged groceries at the Food Lion at 3024 Prosperity Church Road, where the incident happened.

Officers responded to a disturbance call at the grocery store about 1:15 p.m. When they arrived, they saw Turner throwing something at a store manager, according to a CMPD news release issued Thursday night. The release does not say what the object was, and a police spokeswoman could not be reached.

According to the release, Turner appeared to be agitated, refused all commands and advanced toward the police officer. The officer then used his Taser to get Turner under control, the release said.

The release does not say whether Turner was armed.

Turner's mother, Tammy Fontenot, said she couldn't see her son throwing something at someone during an argument.

"He had manners," she said. "But he did have a temper."

A preliminary check of N.C. criminal records did not turn up any criminal convictions for the teen.

Turner graduated from Crossroads Charter High School last year, his mother said. He had wanted to go to Central Piedmont Community College and be a personal trainer. He didn't have any health problems and had never been in trouble, she said.

Except on Thursday.

Around lunchtime, Turner had come home to eat and told his mom that he had stolen a couple of Hot Pockets from the store. A supervisor planned to get a district manager involved and he feared disciplinary action, she said.

She said she told him to go back to the store and face up to what happened.

It wasn't long after lunch she got a call from one of her son's co-workers, who told her about the incident, she said.

After Turner was hit, police called the Charlotte Fire Department and paramedics, department policy anytime an officer uses a Taser gun, the release said.

Homicide detectives are investigating Turner's death and will present their findings to the district attorney, the news release said.

The Police Department also will conduct its own investigation into the incident. A review board, made up of the officer's chain of command, internal affairs and a member of the city's community relations committee, will review evidence and interview witnesses to determine whether the officer followed all the department's policies, the news release said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have used Tasers or similar weapons since 2004 and said in their release that they have had no deaths associated with their use. Last year, officers used Tasers 138 times. Officers are to use them to prevent, whenever possible, the escalation to the use of deadly force.

Victoria Cherrie: 704-358-5062

-- Staff research Sara Klemmer contributed.


20) 17-Year-Old Killed by Taser Over Shoplifted Hot Pockets
By Pam Spaulding, Pandagon
Posted on March 23, 2008, Printed on March 24, 2008

More Taser insanity. The mounting incidents of violence being perpetrated by the inappropriate use of Tasers is unnerving. The stories from readers keep flooding into my inbox.

Here’s one from my state that will turn your stomach (h/t n8nyc and Virginia F.). Darryl Wayne Turner was a cashier and bagged groceries at a local Food Lion. He lifted a couple of Hot Pocket lunches and his mother told him to do the right thing — go back to the store and fess up. Then something went horribly wrong.

A 17-year-old died at Carolinas Medical Center Thursday after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shocked him with a Taser during a confrontation at a grocery store in northeast Charlotte.

…Around lunchtime, Turner had come home to eat and told his mom that he had stolen a couple of Hot Pockets from the store. A supervisor planned to get a district manager involved and he feared disciplinary action, she said.

She said she told him to go back to the store and face up to what happened.

It wasn’t long after lunch she got a call from one of her son’s co-workers, who told her about the incident, she said.

After Turner was hit, police called the Charlotte Fire Department and paramedics, department policy anytime an officer uses a Taser gun, the release said.

Homicide detectives are investigating Turner’s death and will present their findings to the district attorney, the news release said.

Turner had no criminal record and no health problems.

Not to be topped, read what happened in the case of a Matteson, IL man, who was on the wrong end of a Taser — he has been acquitted of assaulting an officer.

Read that, and see a video about the use of Tasers in Eugene, Oregon, after the jump.

(Southtown Star):

A Matteson man cleared by a jury Wednesday of assaulting a police officer plans to sue Posen police for what he alleges was a case of racially-motivated police brutality, his attorney said.

Julius Little, 44, was pepper-sprayed, bitten repeatedly by a police dog and shot with a Taser by police outside his mother’s home near the intersection of 145th Street and Richmond Ave. on June 22, 2006.

A Markham courthouse jury took little more than an hour to clear him of aggressively approaching Cpl. Bill Alexander, clenching his fists and threatening to punch him.

“The police were just trying to cover up for what they did to him,” juror Maud Powell told the SouthtownStar after the verdict was announced, “It was obvious from what the officers said in court that they were lying.”

During the two-day trial, Little testified that he was taking out the trash at his mother’s home when he saw police questioning his son.

When he asked the officers what was going on, he was told, “get your black ass out of here,” and then attacked by three white cops and a K-9 officer, he alleged.

…Several eyewitnesses corroborated Little’s account, contradicting the officers’ claims that Little was the aggressor, and the officers’ claims not to have used racially-charged language.

Take a look at this short doc, Tazing Eugene, about the adoption of Tasers by police officers in Eugene, Oregon. Nezua of The Unapologetic Mexican has the reaction on the street.




North Carolina: Ministers Say Police Destroyed Records
National Briefing | South
Three ministers accused a Greensboro police officer of ordering officers to destroy about 50 boxes of police files related to the fatal shooting of five people at an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in 1979. The Revs. Cardes Brown, Gregory Headen and Nelson Johnson said an active-duty officer told them he and at least three other officers were told to destroy the records in 2004 or 2005, shortly after a seven-member panel that had been convened to research the shootings requested police files related to them. The ministers did not identify the officer who provided the information. On Nov. 3, 1979, a heavily armed caravan of Klansman and Nazi Party members confronted the rally. Five marchers were killed and 10 were injured. Those charged were later acquitted in state and federal trials. The city and some Klan members were found liable for the deaths in civil litigation.
February 27, 2008

Gaza: Israeli Army Clears Itself in 21 Deaths
World Briefing | Middle East
The army said no legal action would be taken against military officials over an artillery strike in Beit Hanun in 2006 in which an errant shell hit residential buildings and killed 21 Palestinian civilians. An army investigation concluded that the shell was fired based on information that militants were intending to fire rockets from the area, an army statement said. The civilian deaths, it said, were “directly due to a rare and severe failure” in the artillery control system. The army’s military advocate general concluded that there was no need for further investigation.
February 27, 2008

World Briefing | Asia
Taiwan: Tons of Fish Wash Up on Beaches
About 45 tons of fish have washed up dead along 200 miles of beach on the outlying Penghu Islands after an unusual cold snap. News reports said 10 times as many dead fish were still in the water.
February 23, 2008

Zimbabwe: Inflation Breaks the Six-Figure Mark
World Briefing | Africa
The government’s statistics office said the inflation rate surged to a new record of 100,580 percent in January, up from 66,212 percent in December. Rangarirai Mberi, news editor of the independent Financial Gazette in Harare, said the state of the economy would feature prominently in next month’s presidential and parliamentary elections. “Numbers no longer shock people,” he said. Zimbabweans have learned to live in a hyperinflationary environment, he added, “but the question is, how long can this continue?”
February 21, 2008




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


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

http://video. videoplay? docid=-905047436 2583451279




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


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

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

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

—MALCOLM X, 1965


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


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


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


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


Which country should we invade next?


My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup


Michael Moore- The Awful Truth


Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments


Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


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


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


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


"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]


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]


Sand Creek Massacre
(scroll down when you get there])

On November 29, 1864, 700 Colorado troops savagely slaughtered
over 450 Cheyenne children, disabled, elders, and women in the
southeastern Colorado Territory under its protection. This act
became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. This film project
("The Sand Creek Massacre" documentary film project) is an
examination of an open wound in the souls of the Cheyenne
people as told from their perspective. This project chronicles
that horrific 19th century event and its affect on the 21st century
struggle for respectful coexistence between white and native
plains cultures in the United States of America.

Listed below are links on which you can click to get the latest news,
products, and view, free, "THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" award-
winning documentary short. In order to create more native
awareness, particularly to save the roots of America's history,
please read the following:

Some people in America are trying to save the world. Bless
them. In the meantime, the roots of America are dying.
What happens to a plant when the roots die? The plant dies
according to my biology teacher in high school. American's
roots are its native people. Many of America's native people
are dying from drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, hunger,
and disease, which was introduced to them by the Caucasian
male. Tribal elders are dying. When they die, their oral
histories go with them. Our native's oral histories are the
essence of the roots of America, what took place before
our ancestors came over to America, what is taking place,
and what will be taking place. It is time we replenish
America's roots with native awareness, else America
continues its decaying, and ultimately, its death.

READY FOR PURCHASE! (pass the word about this powerful
educational tool to friends, family, schools, parents, teachers,
and other related people and organizations to contact
me (, 303-903-2103) for information
about how they can purchase the DVD and have me come
to their children's school to show the film and to interact
in a questions and answers discussion about the Sand
Creek Massacre.

Happy Holidays!

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC,+Don

(scroll down when you get there])

SHOP: Articles at">


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