Monday, April 28, 2008






We All Hate that 98!

[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]

Prop 98, a statewide measure on the June 3 ballot will end rent control and just cause eviction protections for renters. San Francisco will see massive displacement and the city will change forever if 98 passes.



Stop fumigation of citizens without their consent in California
Target: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Joe Simitian, Assemblymember Loni Hancock, Assemblymember John Laird, Senator Abel Maldonado
Sponsored by: John Russo

Additional information is available at


Global Exchange
2017 Mission St (@ 16th), San Francisco


ILWU-called May Day Labor Antiwar Demo
Meet at 10:30 a.m. at Mason & Beach (Fisherman's Wharf)
March at 11:00 a.m.
Rally at Noon at Justin Herman Plaza
Clarence Thomas and Jack Heyman, Co-Chairs
Phone: 510.333.4301 * Fax: 510.215.2800


April 23, 2008

The Port Workers May Day Organizing Committee is proud to announce that Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman from Georgia; Danny Glover, renowned actor and political activist; and Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star mother whose son Casey was killed in Iraq four years ago, will be among the featured speakers at our "No Peace, No Work" Holiday mobilization in San Francisco on May 1st.

The West Coast longshore workers have voted to stop work to protest against the ongoing war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Port Workers May Day Organizing Committee and the other rank-and-file committees in ports up and down the West Coast have received pledges of support from labor councils, local unions and anti-war, anti-racist, immigrant and other social justice organizations across the country and around the globe.

The "March with Longshore Workers" will assemble at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 1st, at the Longshore (ILWU) hall at Mason & Beach, and will march down the Embarcadero for a noon rally at Justin Herman Plaza.

SF Immigrant Rights May Day Demo
Meet at Dolores Park at 2pm
March at 3:30 pm
Rally at 6:00 pm in Civic Center Plaza

Oakland Immigrant Rights May Day Demo
Meet at 3:00 pm Fruitvale Plaza (35th & International Blvd.)
March at 4:00 pm
Rally at 6:00 pm at Oakland City Hall Plaza

At the start of the Iraq War in 2003, many working people were opposed to the invasion. Now the overwhelming majority want to end the war and withdraw troops. Yet, both major political parties continue to fund the war. Marches and demonstrations have not been able to stop the war. The Longshore Union (ILWU) will stop work for 8 hours in every port on the West Coast on May 1st. This action shows that working people have the power to stop the war.


We'll march from the Longshore Union hall at the corner of Mason and Beach Streets (Fisherman's Wharf area), along the Embarcadero--where San Francisco was forged into a union town in the 1934 General Strike. A rally will be held in Justin Herman Plaza across from the Ferry Building at noon.

--Stop the war!
--Withdraw the troops now!
--No scapegoating immigrant workers for the economic crisis!
--Healthcare for all!
--Funding for schools and housing!
--Defend civil liberties and workers'rights!


Port Workers' May Day Organizing Committee


Rock for Justice-Rock for Palestine
FREE outdoor festival
May 10th, 2008
Civic Center, San Francisco

Please make your tax-deductible donation, payable to 'Palestine Right to Return Coalition' or 'PRRC/Palestine Solidarity Concert'

Mail to:

Local Nakba Committee (LNC)
PO Box #668
2425 Channing Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

For more information about, the Palestine Right of Return Coalition, see:

For regular concert updates see our website at:

You can donate online at the Facebook Cause 'Nakba-60, Palestine Solidarity Concert' at:

List of confirmed artists:

Dam, featuring Abeer, aka 'Sabreena da Witch'–Palestinian Hip-Hop crew from Lid (1948, Palestine).

Dead Prez

Fred Wreck–DJ/Producer, for artists Snoop Dogg, Hilary Duff,
Brittany Spears and other celebs.

Ras Ceylon –Sri Lankan Revolution Hip Hop

Arab Summit:
Narcicyst - with Iraqi-Canadian Hip Hop group Euphrates
Excentrik- Palestinian Producer/Composer/MC
Omar Offendun- with Syrian/Sudani Hip Hop group The N.o.m.a.d.s
Ragtop- with Palestinian/Filipino group The Philistines
Scribe Project – Palestinian/Mexican Hip Hop/Soul Band

Additional artists still pending confirmation.

Points of Unity for Concert Sponsorship

An end to all US political, military and economic aid to Israel.

The divestment of all public and private entities from all Israeli corporations and American corporations with subsidiaries operating within Israel.

An end to the investment of Labor Union members' pension funds in Israel.
The boycott of all Israeli products.

The right to return for all Palestinian refugees to their original towns, villages and lands with compensation for damages inflicted on their property and lives.

The right for all Palestinian refugees to full restitution of all confiscated and destroyed property.

The formation of an independent, democratic state for its citizens in all of Palestine.


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.

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.


Discussion of an Open U.S. National Antiwar Conference to take place in Cleveland on June 28-29 to Stop the War in Iraq! Bring the Troops Home Now!
Saturday, May 17 at 2 pm in
San Francisco at the ILWU Local 6 hall at 255 Ninth Street.

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:

Endorse the conference:

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:


Help Save Troy Davis

Troy Davis came within 24 hours of execution in July, 2007 before receiving a temporary stay of execution. Two weeks later the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to hear his extraordinary motion for a new trial. On Monday, March 17, 2008 the court denied Mr. Davis’ appeal. Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail in Georgia. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even during the trial. Since then, all but two of the state's nine non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

The message:

"I welcomed your decision to stay the execution of Troy Anthony Davis in July 2007, and thank you for taking the time to consider evidence of his innocence. When you issued this decision, you stated that the board "will not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused." Because the Georgia Supreme Court denied Troy Davis a hearing, doubts of his guilt will always remain. I appeal to you to be true to your words and commute the death sentence of Troy Davis.

"This case has generated widespread attention, which reflects serious concerns in Georgia and throughout the United States about the potential for executing an innocent man. The power of clemency exists as a safety net to prevent such an irreversible error. As you know, Mr. Davis has been on death row in Georgia for more than 15 years for the murder of a police officer he maintains that he did not commit. Davis' conviction was not based on any physical evidence, and the murder weapon was never found.

"Despite mounting evidence that Davis may in fact be innocent of the crime, appeals to courts to consider this evidence have been repeatedly denied for procedural reasons. Instead, the prosecution based its case on the testimony of purported "witnesses," many of whom allege police coercion, and most of whom have since recanted their testimony. One witness signed a police statement declaring that Davis was the assailant then later said "I did not read it because I cannot read." In another case a witness stated that the police "were telling me that I was an accessory to murder and that I would…go to jail for a long time and I would be lucky if I ever got out, especially because a police officer got killed…I was only sixteen and was so scared of going to jail." There are also several witnesses who have implicated another man in the crime but the police focused their efforts on convicting Troy.

"It is deeply troubling to me that Georgia might proceed with this execution given the strong claims of innocence in this case. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that our criminal justice system is not devoid of error and we now know that 127 individuals have been released from death rows across the United States due to wrongful conviction. We must confront the unalterable fact that the system of capital punishment is fallible, given that it is administered by fallible human beings. I respectfully urge the Board of Pardons and Paroles to demonstrate your strong commitment to fairness and justice and commute the death sentence of Troy Anthony Davis.

Thank you for your kind consideration."

Messages will be sent to:

Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909

Telephone: (404) 657-9350
Fax: (404) 651-8502

Please take a moment to help Troy Davis. On Monday, March 17, 2008, the Georgia Supreme Court decided 4-3 to deny a new trial for Troy Anthony Davis, despite significant concerns regarding his innocence. The stunning decision by the Georgia Supreme Court to let Mr. Davis' death sentence stand means that the state of Georgia might soon execute a man who well may be innocent.



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.



~ Please circulate this urgent update widely ~

The ANSWER Coalition is vigorously supporting the campaign launched by the Partnership for Civil Justice to defend free speech rights on the National Mall. We thank all the ANSWER Coalition supporters who have joined this campaign and we urge everyone to do so. What follows is an urgent message from the Partnership for Civil Justice about the campaign.

1) The Partnership for Civil Justice has set up an easy-to-use mechanism that will allow you to send a message directly to the National Park Service about their National Mall Plan. Click this link to send your message.

2) Sign the Statement in Defense of Free Speech Rights on the National Mall.

3) If you have already signed this statement, click this link right now to let us know if we can publicize you as a signer of this important statement.

4) If you are unsure whether you have already signed, you can sign the statement again, and all duplicate names will be eliminated.


Mara Verheyden-Hillard and Carl Messineo, co-founders of Partnership
for Civil Justice

Background on the NPS initiative to restrict protesting on the National Mall

Washington Post article: The Battle to Remold the Mall

Alternet article: National Mall Redesign Could Seriously Restrict Free Speech

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 323-464-1636
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311




1) Ohio State Workers Are Coping: It’s Now 8 to 5, With a 5-Day Week
April 26, 2008

2) Movable Feast Carries a Pollution Price Tag
The Food Chain
April 26, 2008

3) Confidence Falls to Lowest Level in 26 Years
April 26, 2008

4) Jail killer cops! Fill the streets! Justice for Sean Bell!
Statement from PSL's La Riva/Puryear presidential campaign
"When the police arrested a man in New York City for pickpocketing $22, Justice
Arthur Cooperman sentenced him to 15 years to life in prison."
April 25, 2008

5) Letters Give C.I.A. Tactics a Legal Rationale
April 27, 2008

6) Recession Diet Just One Way to Tighten Belt
April 27, 2008

7) Mother, four children amongst victims of Israeli Gaza strike
Human Rights
Report, Al Mezan, 28 April 2008

8) Wright Says Criticism Is Attack on Black Church
April 29, 2008

9) Legislators End Toronto Transit Strike
April 28, 2008

10) Verdict in Sean Bell Case Draws a Peaceful Protest, but Some Demand More
April 28, 2008


1) Ohio State Workers Are Coping: It’s Now 8 to 5, With a 5-Day Week
April 26, 2008

As flextime and telecommuting are becoming increasingly popular, state officials in Ohio have begun moving in the opposite direction with a plan to greatly restrict such arrangements for state workers.

In hopes of improving customer service by ensuring that agencies are fully staffed during business hours, the new personnel policy, which is backed by Gov. Ted Strickland, will require most state employees to work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with an hour for lunch, unless there is a job-related reason for a different schedule.

The plan, which according to the state workers’ union is expected to affect at least 500 people, began in early February, and all state agencies have until May 2 to comply.

State officials say the change is needed because too often departments were closed, phones went unanswered and customer service windows were left unattended, especially on Fridays, as state workers worked only four days a week.

“There are some offices downtown where on Fridays you could roll a grenade down the central aisle where the cubicles are and you would have no casualties because the place is empty,” said Ron Sylvester, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, the business arm of state government. “We’re simply trying to ensure that from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. we are appropriately staffed to take care of the public’s needs and the needs of other state agencies.”

Mr. Sylvester added that managers could still offer employees tele-work options in some agencies and flexible work hours. But he said “compressed” schedules — four-day workweeks, for example — would probably be mostly eliminated unless they could be justified for work reasons rather than personal ones.

Representatives of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, the union that represents most state employees, say the plan will unnecessarily hurt state employees, and will force families to rearrange ride-sharing, child care, after-school activities and other responsibilities.

Deirdre Wedig, a spokeswoman with the association, said a 2001 survey by the state’s Office of Personnel Management found that the benefits of flextime included increased productivity, increased morale, reduced tardiness and less use of sick leave.

Speaking of the new policy, Marsha Collins, 27, who for nearly a decade has worked for the Commerce Department, said, “This has put me in a serious bind.”

Ms. Collins, a single parent, had her schedule adjusted because of her son, Dalton Flesher, who is now 7. She works Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a half-hour for lunch, so she can get to the school bus stop to pick up Dalton, who has severe development disabilities and cannot be left alone.

As an account clerk who calls companies that owe people money for payroll or insurance, Ms. Collins said her absence from her desk by 3:30 p.m. did not adversely affect the public or her job performance, because virtually all of her calling occurred in the morning or midday.

“I still don’t understand why they are applying this so across the board without taking human lives into account,” she said, adding that for the time being she has a friend picking up her son, but that that friend is soon moving out of the neighborhood.

The current flextime policy was initiated more than 15 years ago, in part to reduce rush-hour traffic congestion in the Columbus area. The union says the new plan will worsen traffic downtown, because the state is the largest employer in central Ohio.

Mr. Sylvester said traffic was not expected to become a problem because many workers would still keep staggered schedules.

He said the state had no estimate of cost savings from the changes, nor could he say how many state workers currently used flextime, tele-work or compressed workweek scheduling.


2) Movable Feast Carries a Pollution Price Tag
The Food Chain
April 26, 2008

Cod caught off Norway is shipped to China to be turned into filets, then shipped back to Norway for sale. Argentine lemons fill supermarket shelves on the Citrus Coast of Spain, as local lemons rot on the ground. Half of Europe’s peas are grown and packaged in Kenya.

In the United States, FreshDirect proclaims kiwi season has expanded to “All year!” now that Italy has become the world’s leading supplier of New Zealand’s national fruit, taking over in the Southern Hemisphere’s winter.

Food has moved around the world since Europeans brought tea from China, but never at the speed or in the amounts it has over the last few years. Consumers in not only the richest nations but, increasingly, the developing world expect food whenever they crave it, with no concession to season or geography.

Increasingly efficient global transport networks make it practical to bring food before it spoils from distant places where labor costs are lower. And the penetration of mega-markets in nations from China to Mexico with supply and distribution chains that gird the globe — like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco — has accelerated the trend.

But the movable feast comes at a cost: pollution — especially carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas — from transporting the food.

Under longstanding trade agreements, fuel for international freight carried by sea and air is not taxed. Now, many economists, environmental advocates and politicians say it is time to make shippers and shoppers pay for the pollution, through taxes or other measures.

“We’re shifting goods around the world in a way that looks really bizarre,” said Paul Watkiss, an Oxford University economist who wrote a recent European Union report on food imports.

He noted that Britain, for example, imports — and exports — 15,000 tons of waffles a year, and similarly exchanges 20 tons of bottled water with Australia. More important, Mr. Watkiss said, “we are not paying the environmental cost of all that travel.”

Europe is poised to change that. This year the European Commission in Brussels announced that all freight-carrying flights into and out of the European Union would be included in the trading bloc’s emissions-trading program by 2012, meaning permits will have to be purchased for the pollution they generate.

The commission is negotiating with the global shipping organization, the International Maritime Organization, over various alternatives to reduce greenhouse gases. If there is no solution by year’s end, sea freight will also be included in Europe’s emissions-trading program, said Barbara Helferrich, a spokeswoman for the European Commission’s Environment Directorate. “We’re really ready to have everyone reduce — or pay in some way,” she said.

The European Union, the world’s leading food importer, has increased imports 20 percent in the last five years. The value of fresh fruit and vegetables imported by the United States, in second place, nearly doubled from 2000 to 2006.

Under a little-known international treaty called the Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed in Chicago in 1944 to help the fledgling airline industry, fuel for international travel and transport of goods, including food, is exempt from taxes, unlike trucks, cars and buses. There is also no tax on fuel used by ocean freighters.

Proponents say ending these breaks could help ensure that producers and consumers pay the environmental cost of increasingly well-traveled food.

The food and transport industries say the issue is more complicated. The debate has put some companies on the defensive, including Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket chain, known as a vocal promoter of green initiatives.

Some of those companies say that they are working to limit greenhouse gases produced by their businesses but that the question is how to do it. They oppose regulation and new taxes and, partly in an effort to head them off, are advocating consumer education instead.

Tesco, for instance, is introducing a labeling system that will let consumers assess a product’s carbon footprint.

Some foods that travel long distances may actually have an environmental advantage over local products, like flowers grown in the tropics instead of in energy-hungry European greenhouses.

“This may be as radical for environmental consuming as putting a calorie count on the side of packages to help people who want to lose weight,” a spokesman for Tesco, Trevor Datson, said.

Better transportation networks have sharply reduced the time required to ship food abroad. For instance, improved roads in Africa have helped cut the time it takes for goods to go from farms on that continent to stores in Europe to 4 days, compared with 10 days not too many years ago.

And with far cheaper labor costs in African nations, Morocco and Egypt have displaced Spain in just a few seasons as important suppliers of tomatoes and salad greens to central Europe.

“If there’s an opportunity for cheaper production in terms of logistics or supply it will be taken,” said Ed Moorehouse, a consultant to the food industry in London, adding that some of these shifts also create valuable jobs in the developing world.

The economics are compelling. For example, Norwegian cod costs a manufacturer $1.36 a pound to process in Europe, but only 23 cents a pound in Asia.

The ability to transport food cheaply has given rise to new and booming businesses.

“In the past few years there have been new plantations all over the center of Italy,” said Antonio Baglioni, export manager of Apofruit, one of Italy’s largest kiwi exporters.

Kiwis from Sanifrutta, another Italian exporter, travel by sea in refrigerated containers: 18 days to the United States, 28 to South Africa and more than a month to reach New Zealand.

Some studies have calculated that as little as 3 percent of emissions from the food sector are caused by transportation. But Mr. Watkiss, the Oxford economist, said the percentage was growing rapidly. Moreover, imported foods generate more emissions than generally acknowledged because they require layers of packaging and, in the case of perishable food, refrigeration.

Britain, with its short growing season and powerful supermarket chains, imports 95 percent of its fruit and more than half of its vegetables. Food accounts for 25 percent of truck shipments in Britain, according to the British environmental agency, DEFRA.

Mr. Datson of Tesco acknowledged that there were environmental consequences to the increased distances food travels, but he said his company was merely responding to consumer appetites. “The offer and range has been growing because our customers want things like snap peas year round,” Mr. Datson said. “We don’t see our job as consumer choice editing.”

Global supermarket chains like Tesco and Carrefour, spreading throughout Eastern Europe and Asia, cater to a market for convenience foods, like washed lettuce and cut vegetables. They also help expand the reach of global brands.

Pringles potato chips, for example, are now sold in more than 180 countries, though they are manufactured in only a handful of places, said Kay Puryear, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble, which makes Pringles.

Proponents of taxing transportation fuel say it would end such distortions by changing the economic calculus.

“Food is traveling because transport has become so cheap in a world of globalization,” said Frederic Hague, head of Norway’s environmental group Bellona. “If it was just a matter of processing fish cheaper in China, I’d be happy with it traveling there. The problem is pollution.”

The European Union has led the world in proposals to incorporate environmental costs into the price consumers pay for food.

Switzerland, which does not belong to the E.U., already taxes trucks that cross its borders.

In addition to bringing airlines under its emission-trading program, Brussels is also considering a freight charge specifically tied to the environmental toll from food shipping to shift the current calculus that “transporting freight is cheaper than producing goods locally,” the commission said.

The problem is measuring the emissions. The fact that food travels farther does not necessarily mean more energy is used. Some studies have shown that shipping fresh apples, onions and lamb from New Zealand might produce lower emissions than producing the goods in Europe, where — for example — storing apples for months would require refrigeration.

But those studies were done in New Zealand, and the food travel debate is inevitably intertwined with economic interests.

Last month, Tony Burke, the Australian minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry, said that carbon footprinting and labeling food miles — the distance food has traveled — was “nothing more than protectionism.”

Shippers have vigorously fought the idea of levying a transportation fuel tax, noting that if some countries repealed those provisions of the Chicago Convention, it would wreak havoc with global trade, creating an uneven patchwork of fuel taxes.

It would also give countries that kept the exemption a huge trade advantage.

Some European retailers hope voluntary green measures like Tesco’s labeling — set to begin later this year — will slow the momentum for new taxes and regulations.

The company will begin testing the labeling system, starting with products like orange juice and laundry detergent.

Customers may be surprised by what they discover.

Box Fresh Organics, a popular British brand, advertises that 85 percent of its vegetables come from the British Midlands. But in winter, in its standard basket, only the potatoes and carrots are from Britain. The grapes are South African, the fennel is from Spain and the squash is Italian.

Today’s retailers could not survive if they failed to offer such variety, Mr. Moorehouse, the British food consultant, said.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “we’ve educated our customers to expect cheap food, that they can go to the market to get whatever they want, whenever they want it. All year. 24/7.”

Daniele Pinto contributed reporting.


3) Confidence Falls to Lowest Level in 26 Years
April 26, 2008

American consumer confidence fell to a 26-year low in April, more than forecast, as unemployment rose and fuel prices hit records.

The Reuters/University of Michigan sentiment index decreased to 62.6, from 69.5 in March. The measure was down from a preliminary estimate of 63.2 issued on April 11.

Consumers are growing increasingly anxious because the economy has lost almost a quarter-million jobs so far this year, gasoline is up 17 percent and property values have fallen. Sales of houses and cars have declined as a result, contributing to a slowdown that may bring an end to the six-year expansion.

“Consumers are feeling the pinch, not only from the labor market, but also from prices,” Aaron Smith, an economist at Moody’s in West Chester, Pa., said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “There’s a squeeze on incomes from two sides.”

Economists had forecast the consumer sentiment gauge would fall to 63.2, from 69.5 in March, according to the median of 60 projections in a Bloomberg News survey.

The index of consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, dropped to 53.3, from 60.1 last month.

A measure of current conditions, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation and whether it is a good time to make big-ticket purchases like cars, decreased to 77, from 84.2 last month.

Consumers were also more concerned about inflation. Americans thought prices would increase 4.8 percent over the next 12 months, up from a 4.3 percent estimate in March. Longer term, inflation expectations were pegged at 3.2 percent, the highest level since August 2006. The estimated figure last month was 2.9 percent.

The economy lost 80,000 jobs in March, the most in five years, after a 76,000 drop in payrolls in each of the previous two months, according to figures from the Labor Department. The jobless rate rose to 5.1 percent, the highest level in more than two years.


4) Jail killer cops! Fill the streets! Justice for Sean Bell!
Statement from PSL's La Riva/Puryear presidential campaign
"When the police arrested a man in New York City for pickpocketing $22, Justice
Arthur Cooperman sentenced him to 15 years to life in prison."
April 25, 2008

When the police arrested a man in New York City for pickpocketing $22, Justice
Arthur Cooperman sentenced him to 15 years to life in prison.

When three New York City police murdered Sean Bell and wounded two others in an
unprovoked 50-shot assault against the unarmed men, Justice Arthur Cooperman
acquitted the police officers and let them walk free.

New York’s Black community and all who believe in justice are up in arms today.
Anger, disbelief, outrage: these words do not come close to conveying the
sentiments of millions of New Yorkers.

Once again the courts have sent out the message that police have a license to
kill young Black people. The racist NYPD is the ultimate expression of an
organized crime ring. They arrogate to themselves the role of judge, jury and

Judge Cooperman is simply their cheerleader and defender. This is not a problem
of a single bad judge. Cooperman is a symptom. The disease is institutionalized
racism and the epidemic of police brutality directed against Black and Latino
communities and especially young people.

Killer cops walk free again today just as they did when they killed Amadou
Diallo in a hail of 41 shots. Again, the armed thugs of corporate capitalism,
the defenders of the rich and mighty, walk away without even a slapped wrist,
while the prisons and jails of this country overflow with more than 2.3 million
working class young people.

The actual ethnicity or national or “racial” identity of the killer cops is
immaterial. The NYPD is an army of racism. It occupies and murders inside the
Black and Latino community. Its principal function is to defend the property of
Wall Street corporations and the property of the billionaires and
multi-millionaires who are the dominant power in NYC. Mayor Bloomberg went out
of his way to call striking transit workers “thugs,” but no similar language is
used by him to describe the cold-blooded killers in blue.

Today, in the face of this colossal injustice John McCain, Hillary Clinton and
Barack Obama as yet have not said a word to condemn this travesty. The
Democratic party seeks the vote of the Black community to win office, but turns
its back on the community in its confrontation with the forces of racist police
violence. It could not be otherwise. The Republican and Democratic parties, and
the respective candidates, vie with each other to be the voice of the status quo
and the police power which functions as its armed guarantor. The armies of
police and military power exist to protect the ultra rich and the status quo,
from the people who are suffering from unemployment, foreclosures, hunger,
galloping poverty, and union-busting. The candidates of both the Republican and
Democratic parties are ardent defenders of this system.

The VotePSL La Riva/Puryear 2008 campaign will be in the streets today and every
day to demand justice for Sean Bell. Killer cops and all those who commit acts
of brutality against our communities will be the focus of the wrath and
mobilization of the people.

Jail Killer Cops! Money for Jobs, Schools, Housing and Health care.

To become a volunteer in the La Riva/Puryear campaign, go to


5) Letters Give C.I.A. Tactics a Legal Rationale
April 27, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has told Congress that American intelligence operatives attempting to thwart terrorist attacks can legally use interrogation methods that might otherwise be prohibited under international law.

The legal interpretation, outlined in recent letters, sheds new light on the still-secret rules for interrogations by the Central Intelligence Agency. It shows that the administration is arguing that the boundaries for interrogations should be subject to some latitude, even under an executive order issued last summer that President Bush said meant that the C.I.A. would comply with international strictures against harsh treatment of detainees.

While the Geneva Conventions prohibit “outrages upon personal dignity,” a letter sent by the Justice Department to Congress on March 5 makes clear that the administration has not drawn a precise line in deciding which interrogation methods would violate that standard, and is reserving the right to make case-by-case judgments.

“The fact that an act is undertaken to prevent a threatened terrorist attack, rather than for the purpose of humiliation or abuse, would be relevant to a reasonable observer in measuring the outrageousness of the act,” said Brian A. Benczkowski, a deputy assistant attorney general, in the letter, which had not previously been made public.

Mr. Bush issued the executive order last summer to comply with restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court and Congress. The order spelled out new standards for interrogation techniques, requiring that they comply with international standards for humane treatment, but it did not identify any approved techniques.

It has been clear that the order preserved at least some of the latitude that Mr. Bush has permitted the C.I.A. in using harsher interrogation techniques than those permitted by the military or other agencies. But the new documents provide more details about how the administration intends to determine whether a specific technique would be legal, depending on the circumstances involved.

The letters from the Justice Department to Congress were provided by the staff of Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who is a member of the Intelligence Committee and had sought more information from the department.

Some legal experts critical of the Justice Department interpretation said the department seemed to be arguing that the prospect of thwarting a terror attack could be used to justify interrogation methods that would otherwise be illegal.

“What they are saying is that if my intent is to defend the United States rather than to humiliate you, than I have not committed an offense,” said Scott L. Silliman, who teaches national security law at Duke University.

But a senior Justice Department official strongly challenged this interpretation on Friday, saying that the purpose of the interrogation would be just one among many factors weighed in determining whether a specific procedure could be used.

“I certainly don’t want to suggest that if there’s a good purpose you can head off and humiliate and degrade someone,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was describing some legal judgments that remain classified.

“The fact that you are doing something for a legitimate security purpose would be relevant, but there are things that a reasonable observer would deem to be outrageous,” he said.

At the same time, the official said, “there are certainly things that can be insulting that would not raise to the level of an outrage on personal dignity.”

The humiliating and degrading treatment of prisoners is prohibited by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

Determining the legal boundaries for interrogating terrorism suspects has been a struggle for the Bush administration. Some of those captured in the first two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were subjected to particularly severe methods, including waterboarding, which induces a feeling of drowning.

But the rules for interrogations became more restrictive beginning in 2004, when the Justice Department rescinded a number of classified legal opinions, including a memorandum written in August 2002 that argued that nothing short of the pain associated with organ failure constituted illegal torture. The executive order that Mr. Bush issued in July 2007 was a further restriction, in response to a Supreme Court ruling in 2006 that holding that all prisoners in American captivity must be treated in accordance with Common Article 3.

Mr. Benczkowski’s letters were in response to questions from Mr. Wyden, whose committee had received classified briefings about the executive order.

That order specifies some conduct that it says would be prohibited in any interrogation, including forcing an individual to perform sexual acts, or threatening an individual with sexual mutilation. But it does not say which techniques could still be permitted.

Legislation that was approved this year by the House and the Senate would have imposed further on C.I.A. interrogations, by requiring that they conform to rules spelled out in the Army handbook for military interrogations that bans coercive procedures. But Mr. Bush vetoed that bill, saying that the use of harsh interrogation methods had been effective in preventing terrorist attacks.

The legal reasoning included in the latest Justice Department letters is less expansive than what department lawyers offered as recently as 2005 in defending the use of aggressive techniques. But they show that the Bush administration lawyers are citing the sometimes vague language of the Geneva Conventions to support the idea that interrogators should not be bound by ironclad rules.

In one letter written Sept. 27, 2007, Mr. Benczkowski argued that “to rise to the level of an outrage” and thus be prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, conduct “must be so deplorable that the reasonable observer would recognize it as something that should be universally condemned.”

Mr. Wyden said he was concerned that, under the new rules, the Bush administration had put Geneva Convention restrictions on a “sliding scale.”

If the United States used subjective standards in applying its interrogation rules, he said, then potential enemies might adopt different standards of treatment for American detainees based on an officer’s rank or other factors.

“The cumulative effect in my interpretation is to put American troops at risk,” Mr. Wyden said.


6) Recession Diet Just One Way to Tighten Belt
April 27, 2008

Stung by rising gasoline and food prices, Americans are finding creative ways to cut costs on routine items like groceries and clothing, forcing retailers, restaurants and manufacturers to decode the tastes of a suddenly thrifty public.

Spending data and interviews around the country show that middle- and working-class consumers are starting to switch from name brands to cheaper alternatives, to eat in instead of dining out and to fly at unusual hours to shave dollars off airfares.

Though seemingly small, the daily trade-offs they are making — more pasta and less red meat, more video rentals and fewer movie tickets — amount to an important shift in consumer behavior.

In Ohio, Holly Levitsky is replacing the Lucky Charms cereal in her kitchen with Millville Marshmallows and Stars, a less expensive store brand. In New Hampshire, George Goulet is no longer booking hotel rooms at the Hilton, favoring the lower-cost Hampton Inn. And in Michigan, Jennifer Olden is buying Gain laundry detergent instead of the full-price Tide.

Behind the belt-tightening — and brand-swapping — is the collision of several economic forces that are pinching people’s budgets or, at least, leaving them in little mood to splurge.

The price of household necessities has surged, with milk topping $4 a gallon in many stores and regular gasoline closing in on $3.60 a gallon nationwide.

Home prices are sliding, wages are stagnant, job losses are growing and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, a broad measure of stock performance, is down 6 percent in the last year. So consumers are going on a recession diet.

Burt Flickinger, a longtime retail consultant, said the last time he saw such significant changes in consumer buying patterns was the late 1970s, when runaway inflation prompted Americans to “switch from red meat to pork to poultry to pasta — then to peanut butter and jelly.”

“It hasn’t gotten to human food mixed with pet food yet,” he said, “but it is certainly headed in that direction.”

Retail sales figures and consumer surveys confirm that Americans are strategically cutting corners, whether it is at the coffee house or the airport. (In: brewing coffee at home and flying coach. Out: Starbucks and first class.)

In March, Americans spent less on women’s clothing (down 4.9 percent), furniture (3.1 percent), luxury goods (1.3 percent) and airline tickets (1.1 percent) compared with a year ago, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse, a service of the credit card company that measures spending on 300 million of its cards and estimates purchases with other cards, cash and checks.

Wal-Mart Stores reports stronger-than-usual sales of peanut butter and spaghetti, while restaurants like Domino’s Pizza and Ruby Tuesday have suffered a falloff in orders, suggesting that many Americans are sticking to low-cost home-cooked meals.

Over the last year, purchases of brand name cookies and crackers have fallen, according to Information Resources, which tracks retail sales.

Sales of Nabisco graham crackers have dropped 7.5 percent, and Keebler Fudge Shoppe cookies have slipped by 12.3 percent. Not even beer is immune. Sales of inexpensive domestic beers, like Keystone Light, are up; sales of higher-price imports, like Corona Extra, are down, the firm said.

Some are skipping drinks altogether. The number of people ordering an alcoholic drink fell to 31 percent last month from 42 percent last summer, according to a survey of 2,500 people conducted by Technomic, a restaurant industry consulting firm.

“People have started to shift spending as if we were in a recession,” said Michael McNamara, vice president for research and analysis at MasterCard.

Such trade-offs were on vivid display last week in Ohio, where layoffs have been rampant. At Save-A-Lot, a discount grocery store in Cleveland, Teresa Rutherford, 51, chided her sister-in-law, Donna Dunaway, 44, for picking up a package of Sara Lee honey ham (eight ounces for $2.49).

“We can’t afford that!” she said. “Get the cheap stuff.” They settled on a 16-ounce package of Deli Pleasures ham for $3.29, or 34 percent less an ounce.

The women said that soaring prices for food and fuel had changed what they buy and where they buy it. “We used to eat out at Bob Evans or Denny’s once a month,” said Ms. Rutherford, who works in an auto-parts factory. “Now we don’t go out at all. We eat in all the time.”

Ms. Dunaway, a homemaker, used to splurge on the ingredients for homemade lasagna, her husband’s favorite, before food prices began to surge this year.

“Now he’s lucky to get a 99-cent lasagna TV dinner, or maybe some Manwich out of a can,” she said. “I just can’t afford to be buying all that good meat and cheese like I used to.”

By no means has the economic downturn been bad for all product categories. For instance, sales of big-ticket electronics, like $1,000 flat-panel televisions and $300 video game systems, are on the rise, according to retailers and research firms.

Falling prices for such devices and a looming government deadline to convert to digital television have helped. So has the view, sensible or not, that the technology is a good investment. At a Best Buy in Southfield, Mich., James Szekely, 28, a mechanical engineer, was shopping for a big high-definition TV that he expected would cost at least $2,000, an expense he rationalized because “at least we can watch movies at home.”

(In a survey conducted this month by the NPD Group, a research firm, consumers suggested that they would sooner cut spending on clothing, furniture and eating out than on video games.)

At Home Depot, sinks and faucets are selling briskly. Managers at the chain suspect that consumers, loath to spend money on a splashy kitchen renovation or new roof, are settling for a cheaper bathroom “refresh.”

Another top seller at home improvement stores: programmable thermostats and insulation, which can cut fuel bills.

Many retailers are struggling to adjust to the new needs. Clothing sales have started to sink at department stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s and J. C. Penney. So have furniture sales at companies like Bombay and Domain, both of which have filed for bankruptcy protection.

Consumers are spurning small indulgences. Starbucks is warning of a drop-off in purchases, and sales have dipped at higher-end restaurant chains, including the steakhouses Ruth’s Chris and Morton’s.

To drum up business, Domino’s is offering a new deal: three 10-inch pizzas for $4 each. “We are not recession-proof,” said the chain’s president, J. Patrick Doyle.

But chains that emphasize low prices, like TJ Maxx and Wal-Mart, are thriving. And cut-rate supermarkets, like Save-A-Lot, are swamped.

“People are not not spending, but they are changing how they spend,” said Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at the NPD Group.

And they are often willing to sacrifice convenience or swallow their pride.

George Goulet, 52, the business traveler switching from the Hilton to the Hampton Inn, now books flights that depart in the afternoon rather than the early morning. “It’s a lot cheaper,” he said. “I can really see the difference.”

Mary Gregory, 55, a telephone company operator in Cleveland, used to eat red meat at least once a week. Now it is hardly ever on her menu. “I usually buy turkey instead,” she said. “Any recipe that calls for meat, like chili or spaghetti, I try to substitute turkey.”

Carl Hall, a retired construction worker in Detroit, wants to buy a fence for his backyard. But he decided not to buy a finished product at Lowe’s, the home improvement chain where he was shopping recently. With money tight, “I am looking to put it together myself,” he said, adding that he hoped to save $200.

As the compromises mount, people are even coming up with clever schemes to hide their cost-cutting.

Holly Levitsky, a 56-year-old supermarket cashier in Cleveland, buys a brand of steak sauce called Briargate for 85 cents and surreptitiously pours it into an A1 steak sauce bottle she keeps at home.

“My husband can’t even tell the difference,” she said.

Mary M. Chapman, Brenda Goodman and Christopher Maag contributed reporting.


7) Mother, four children amongst victims of Israeli Gaza strike
Human Rights
Report, Al Mezan, 28 April 2008

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed four children and their mother when they shelled their home in Ezbet Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip today. Another man was killed in the attack which occurred during an IOF incursion in different parts of the town of Beit Hanoun. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights' monitoring finds that the IOF stepped up their aggression on Gaza. In April 2008 alone, the IOF killed 66 Palestinians, 20 of whom were children and one was a woman. One hundred and thirty-nine others were injured, including 18 children. IOF launched 29 incursions into the Gaza Strip during the same period.

According to Al Mezan Center's field investigations, at approximately 8:15am on 28 April 2008, IOF scouting drones fired two rockets that landed in front of the house of Ahmed Eid Abu Me'teq, which is located near Abdullah Azzam mosque in Ezbet Beit Hanoun. As a result, four children and their mother were killed, and their sister was wounded. One man was also killed. Those who were killed were identified as:

* Five-year-old Saleh Abu Me'teq;
* Four-year-old Rodina Abu Me'teq;
* Three-year-old Hana' Abu Me'teq;
* One-year-old Mos'ad Abu Me'teq;
* Their mother, 40-year-old Myassar Abu Me'teq; and
* 40-year-old Ibrahim Hajouj.

Eleven other people were also injured, including four children. Five of the injured were reported to have sustained serious wounds.

Meanwhile, according to the Center's monitoring, IOF's incursion in the area continues. At approximately 6:00am on 28 April 2008, IOF ground troops, backed by 20 armored vehicles and drones, penetrated the vicinity of Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing. They took positions in the streets of al-Sultan Abdul Hamid and al-Shanti, and in the Thakanet al-Ghazalat, Talet al-Haowuz and Um al-Nasser areas. The IOF took combat positions and opened fire towards Ezbet Beit Hanoun, al-Seka and al-Sultan Streets in western Beit Hanoun.

The IOF's incursion continues at the time of issuance of this release. At approximately 9:30am today, IOF tanks fired ten shells that landed in the vicinity of al-Nada and al-Awda Towers. One of the shells hit the fourth floor of building number four in al-Nada Towers; and another shell hit the seventh floor of building number seven in al-Awda Towers. No injuries were reported; however, the shelling caused damage to apartments in the two towers. The shelling also traumatized the residents, particularly children. At approximately 10:20am, also today, IOF drones fired one missile that landed in an open area in al-Wad Street in western Beit Hanoun, but no injuries or damages were reported.

This new IOF aggression comes as the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip continues. Al Mezan emphasizes that IOF's conducts represent serious violations of the population's human rights in a gross way that infringes upon the different aspects of their life.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns strongly the IOF's brutal aggression and the escalation of arbitrary killing of civilians, especially children, in the Gaza Strip. This conduct has taken a systematic manner as IOF blatantly and indiscriminately targets residential buildings with artillery shells and guided missiles.

These conducts, in addition to the IOF's collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza through the tight blockade that seriously infringes upon Gazans' humanitarian conditions, constitute grave breaches of the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) and are acts that must be investigated and whose perpetrators must be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law.

Al Mezan calls for immediate international action to end the siege of Gaza and alleviate the risks it poses on people's lives and well-being. The siege threatens to stop hospitals and medical crews from operating at the very time when IOF escalate their acts of killing and maiming. Al Mezan also reiterates its warning about the consequences of the international community's silence while the IOF conduct such grave breaches of IHL, especially after the Israeli government's numerous statements threatening of more military attacks on Gaza.

Al Mezan calls on the international community to take urgent action to bring to an end the IOF's crimes, and to provide protection for the civilian population of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. These acts represent part of the legal and moral obligations towards the civilians who live under control and occupation.


8) Wright Says Criticism Is Attack on Black Church
April 29, 2008

Attacks on him are really attacks on the black church, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. said in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington on Monday, in which he mounted a spirited defense of views and sermons that have become an issue in the presidential campaign because Senator Barack Obama attended his church for many years.

Mr. Wright told the press club audience that the black church in America grew out of the oppression of black people, and that his sermons reflected that struggle.

Snippets from his sermons have been used in Republican commercials seeking to depict Senator Obama as unpatriotic, and the Democratic presidential candidate has given a carefully calibrated speech seeking to distance himself from Mr. Wright’s more inflammatory statements.

Speaking Monday, Mr. Wright said that political opponents of Senator Obama were exploiting the fact that the style of prayer and preaching in black churches was different from European church traditions — “Different, but not deficient,” he said.

In questions and answers after his prepared remarks, Mr. Wright bristled when it was suggested that some of his past statements seemed unpatriotic. He served six years in the military, he declared, adding a jibe at the vice president, “How many years did Cheney serve?”

He rejected suggestions that his willingness to associate with Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, meant that he was anti-Semitic. He said Mr. Farrakhan was “not my enemy” and was too important a black leader to be ignored. When Mr. Farrakhan speaks, he said, “all black America listens — whether they agree with him or not, they listen.”

Historically, he said, when black people were prohibited from meeting in groups, they did so anyway “out of the eyesight and earshot of those who defined them as less than human.”

The result was that black churches, which have existed in America since the 1600s, were “invisible to the dominant culture.” Because of slavery and racial discrimination, he said, black churches focused on the themes of liberation and transformation.

“The black church’s role in the fight for equality and justice from the 1700s to 2008 has always had as its core the non-negotiable doctrine of reconciliation, children of God repenting for past sins against each other,” he said.

As a result of this background and the unfamiliarity of many white people with black preaching, he said, some might find his sermons unsettling. He also noted that the widely circulated clips of his remarks were only short snippets lifted out of the context of much longer, closely reasoned arguments.

“We root out any teaching of superiority, inferiority, hatred or prejudice,” he said. “And we recognize that for the first time in modern history, in the West, that the other who stands before us with a different color of skin, a different texture of hair, different music, different preaching styles and different dance moves; that other is one of God’s children just as we are, no better, no worse, prone to error and in need of forgiveness just as we are.”

Asked about remarks that some critics have called unpatriotic, Rev. Wright noted that men and women from his Chicago congregation had fought in all the country’s recent wars, “while those who call me unpatriotic have used their positions of privilege to avoid military service.”


9) Legislators End Toronto Transit Strike
April 28, 2008

OTTAWA — Ontario’s legislature swiftly passed a bill on Sunday ordering 8,900 striking transit workers in Toronto back to work immediately.

The workers walked off the job without warning early Saturday after rejecting a tentative contract that had been endorsed by their union leadership.

The bill approved at Sunday’s special legislative session provides fines of 2,000 Canadian dollars (about the same in United States dollars) a day for union members who do not return to work.

An arbitrator is to be appointed to draw up a new contract for the transit workers.The transit system began to show signs of life on Sunday afternoon, and subway, streetcar and bus service was expected to be running at full strength at the Monday morning rush hour, according to The Canadian Press.


10) Verdict in Sean Bell Case Draws a Peaceful Protest, but Some Demand More
April 28, 2008

The circle of people was thin but spread wide, looping an intersection in the heart of Harlem on Sunday and blocking long lines of cars and buses in four directions. In the middle of the circle stood a cluster of angry people, and in that cluster stood a young man with a bullhorn and a question.

“Why isn’t everyone else out here with us?” the man, Robert Cuffy, 22, asked. The circle of people, roughly 150 strong, stared back. It was two days after a judge acquitted three New York City detectives in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who died on the morning of his wedding day 17 months ago after the detectives fired a total of 50 bullets at his car.

Unlike some previous verdicts in police shootings, the acquittals in the Bell case have so far been largely met with a muted response. Thousands of protesters did not fill the streets, no unrest ensued. Still, on Sunday, some protesters and advocates around the city demanded federal investigations into the case and greater oversight of the police, while others puzzled over why the verdict had not yielded a stronger response.

At a news conference at the Harlem headquarters of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Mr. Sharpton and other activists, politicians and community leaders praised the overall peaceful response that followed the verdict, and vowed to fight the judge’s decision in strategic rather than bellicose ways.

“Some in the media seemed disappointed, they wanted us to play into the hoodlum, thug stereotypes,” Mr. Sharpton said. “We can be angry without being mad.” And while many onlookers shouted their support, others admitted restlessness and a yearning for something more.

“People are hungry for leadership that’s not there,” said Calvin B. Hunt Jr., who listened to the news conference and joined the protest that followed, marching down Malcolm X Boulevard and blocking the intersection at 125th Street. He spoke longingly of prominent black activists in the 1960s and 1970s, among them Malcolm X, Angela Davis and Huey Newton. “After the Amadou Diallo verdict, we marched till we had corns on our feet, and nothing changed,” he said. “In this verdict, there was no justice. So why should there be peace?”

His sentiments were shared by some others in the crowd. A poet who gave his name as Thug Love said gang members from the Bloods and Crips should unite to “police and protect their own community” the way the Black Panthers did decades ago. A concert promoter, who goes by the name Goddess Isis, said that the news conference sounded to her like “politics as usual,” and that the community needed grass-roots leaders with concrete solutions to ongoing problems, like police harassment.

“We are on our own here,” she said.

But Nkrumah Pierre, a banker who lives on Long Island and who marched in the protest on Sunday, said: “We’ve progressed to the point where we don’t need to act out in violence. This is an intelligent protest, and a strategic protest.”

Still, others on Sunday called for changes within the system, in particular the ways in which the city’s police are monitored.

At a news conference outside Police Department headquarters in Lower Manhattan, civil rights advocates and lawmakers — including Norman Siegel, the former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union; State Senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn; and Marq Claxton of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care — called for the appointment of a permanent statewide special prosecutor, to supersede district attorneys in cases of police shootings or alleged police brutality.

Too often, the advocates said, district attorneys have close relationships with the police, muddying prosecutorial independence. The advocates also said the timing of the proposal was influenced by the ascension of David A. Paterson to governor.

“For the first time we realistically have someone in the governor’s seat that understands the need for these reforms,” Mr. Siegel said.

The proposal, Mr. Siegel said, was loosely patterned on the former Office of the Special State Prosecutor for Corruption, created under Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller in the early 1970s on the recommendation of the Knapp Commission, which uncovered corruption in the Police Department. That office was disbanded in 1990.

Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Mr. Paterson, said the governor would review the recommendation. “Like all New Yorkers, the governor takes the issue of police wrongdoing very seriously, but he also believes that the overwhelming majority of police officers perform their duties honorably and conscientiously,” Ms. Heller said.

In Harlem, one of the protesters, Melanie Brown, who is 29 and lives near the street in Queens where Mr. Bell was killed and two of his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, were wounded, said she believed that every response, no matter how seemingly small, helped.

“What happens next happens,” she said, as protesters chanted and hoisted aloft Pan-African flags, striped in red, black and green. “Right now this is a unity thing.”




Halliburton Profit Rises
HOUSTON (AP) — Increasing its global presence is paying off for the oil field services provider Halliburton, whose first-quarter income rose nearly 6 percent on growing business in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, the company said Monday.
Business in the first three months of 2008 also was better than expected in North America, where higher costs and lower pricing squeezed results at the end of 2007.
Halliburton shares closed up 3 cents, at $47.46, on the New York Stock Exchange.
Halliburton said it earned $584 million, or 64 cents a share, in the three months that ended March 31, compared with a year-earlier profit of $552 million, or 54 cents a share. Revenue rose to $4.03 billion, from $3.42 billion a year earlier.
April 22, 2008

Illegal Immigrants Who Were Arrested at Poultry Plant in Arkansas to Be Deported
Eighteen illegal immigrants arrested at a poultry plant in Batesville will be processed for deportation, but will not serve any jail time for using fake Social Security numbers and state identification cards, federal judges ruled. Magistrate Judge Beth Deere and Judge James Moody of Federal District Court accepted guilty pleas from 17 of those arrested last week at the Pilgrim’s Pride plant. Federal prosecutors dismissed the misdemeanor charges against one man, but said they planned to ask Immigration and Customs Enforcement to begin deportation proceedings against him. The guilty pleas will give the 17 people criminal records, which will allow prosecutors to pursue tougher penalties if they illegally return to the United States. They had faced up to up to two years in prison and $205,000 in fines. Jane Duke, a United States attorney, said her office had no interest in seeing those arrested serve jail time, as they were “otherwise law-abiding citizens.”
National Briefing | South
April 22, 2008

Coal Company Verdict in West Virginia Is Thrown Out
April 4, 2008
National Briefing | Mid-Atlantic
The State Supreme Court for a second time threw out a $50 million verdict against the coal company Massey Energy. The court decided to rehear the case after the publication of photographs of its chief justice on vacation in Monte Carlo with the company’s chief executive, Don L. Blankenship. The chief justice, Elliott E. Maynard, and a second justice disqualified themselves from the rehearing and were replaced by appeals court judges, but the vote was again 3-to-2 in favor of Massey. A third justice, Brent D. Benjamin, who was elected to the court with the help of more than $3 million from Mr. Blankenship, refused to recuse himself.

Utah: Miners’ Families File Lawsuit
National Briefing | Rockies
April 3, 2008
A lawsuit by the families of six men killed in August in a mine cave-in claims the collapse occurred because the mine’s owners were harvesting coal unsafely. The suit, filed in Salt Lake City, says the Murray Energy Corporation performed risky retreat mining last summer. It seeks unspecified damages. Three men trying to reach the miners died 10 days after the collapse in another cave-in at the Crandall Canyon Mine.

Regimens: Drug Samples Found to Affect Spending
Vital Signs
Having doctors distribute free samples of medicines may do exactly what drug companies hope for — encourage patients to spend more money on drugs.
A study in the April issue of Medical Care found that patients who never received free samples spent an average of $178 for six months of prescriptions. Those receiving samples spent $166 in the six months before they obtained free medicine, $244 when they received the handouts and $212 in the six months after that.
Researchers studied 5,709 patients, tracking medical histories and drug expenditures; 14 percent of the group received free samples. The study adjusted for prior and current health conditions, race, socioeconomic level and other variables.
The authors acknowledge that the study results could be partly explained by unmeasured illness in the group given samples.
The lead author, Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said although free samples might save some patients money, there were other ways to economize. “Using more generics, prescribing for three months’ supply rather than one month’s and stopping drugs that may no longer be needed can also save money,” Dr. Alexander said.
April 1, 2008

Rhode Island: Order to Combat Illegal Immigration
National Briefing | New England
Linking the presence of undocumented workers to the state’s financial woes, Gov. Donald L. Carcieri signed an executive order that includes steps to combat illegal immigration. The order requires state agencies and companies that do business with the state to verify the legal status of employees. It also directs the state police and prison and parole officials to work harder to find and deport illegal immigrants. The governor, a Republican, said that he understood illegal immigrants faced hardships, but that he did not want them in Rhode Island. Under his order, the state police will enter an agreement with federal immigration authorities permitting them access to specialized immigration databases.
March 29, 2008

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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