Tuesday, April 01, 2008



If I Were A Terrorist!


Breaking News: Marine Recruiting Station Leaving Berkeley: Agreement Reached with Landlord, City, and Protesters
We received this press release moments ago! CodePINK intends to BE THERE noon tomorrow with champaign, flowers & chocolate! Come celebrate with us!
For Immediate Release:
Shamszad Realty, 510-848-4100
Marine Office of Manpower Plans and Policies, 703-784-9231
CODEPINK, 415-342-6409
WHEN: Tuesday, April 1, 12 noon
WHERE: Marine Recruiting Station, 64 Shattuck Square, Berkeley
WHO: Sasha Shamszad, landlord; Marines Manpower Division representative; CODEPINK spokesperson
Sasha Shamszad, landlord for the Marine Recruiting Center in Berkeley, has reached an amicable agreement with the Marines to redeploy from Berkeley. Details of the agreement will be outlined at the press conference.
"The situation was becoming untenable," says Mr. Shamszad. "The presence of the Marines sparking daily protests have had a negative impact on local businesses. The city has been forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in police overtime. And some groups have been calling for a national boycott of our city. So I sat down with representatives of the Marines and we worked out a solution."
"We just came out with a national productivity study by office, and the Recruiting Center in Berkeley was in the bottom ten percentile," says Michael Applegate, Director of the Marine Manpower Plans and Policy Division. "It's a three-person office in a high-rent district bringing in an average of only 1.4 recruits per month. This is just not a good use of taxpayer money. So we were happy to work out an agreement with Mr. Shamszad. For us, this has nothing to do with protests outside the station, but is simply an issue of strategic redeployment."
The protest group CODEPINK was delighted to hear the news. "While we still don't know the details, we are have happy to hear that the Marines will be closing their doors and respecting the anti-war values of the residents of Berkeley," said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin.


"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

JROTC Must Go! - (415) 575-5543 - jrotcmustgo@gmail.com


Ann Garrison
(415) 285-7259
(415) 786-6839
I need some help getting 200 more signatures on petitions to get through the first
step of getting an initiative on the November ballot to cancel our local elected representatives' annual invitation to Fleet Week, the Blue Angels, and all the other shock'n death recruiting drives that come with it. I have to file these first 400 signatures in lieu of a $200 filing fee; they're called a "Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition," and, after I file them, the Department of Elections will take two weeks to digest them, then send me to City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office for instructions as to how to file all the required procedures for gathering roughly 7100 signatures by the end of June. But this weekend, March 28th and 29th, I really need help getting these last 200 signatures collected just to get past the first phase of this. Although I admire Code Pink's tenacity at shutting down the Marine Recruiting Station in Berkeley, recruiting in Berkeley is largely symbolic; the Armed Forces recruit roughly 22 recruits in Berkeley per year, largely to prove that they can recruit in Berkeley. Our Fleet Week is a massive, all forces military recruitment
drive, which recruits, conservatively, 1000 sailors for the U.S. Navy alone, amidst a massive all forces recruitment drive. All you need know, to understand this, is that the General Accounting Office orders the U.S. Armed Forces to earn maximum recruiting returns on the use of their "recruiting resources," which is what all the battleships that fly into San Francisco Bay, all the aviation demo teams, and the Golden Knights' Parachute Team are.
I can fax a petition form, or e-mail a PDF file to anyone willing to try to gather eight signatures---or more. There are only eight signatures to a page, so a number of people offering to fill one page would help a great deal. Anyone collecting signatures must be a registered San Francisco voter. And, be sure that anyone who signs includes
their address and signs as registered to sign with the Department of Elections. So, could anyone willing to help collect signatures please e-mail me, or call one of the numbers above? Thanks. --Ann Garrison



* Protest the Mortgage Bankers Association Annual Conference
* Foreclose the War, Not Peoples' Homes!
* Moratorium Now!

Attention antiwar activists--dust off your protest signs and bring them to a national demonstration against home foreclosures and evictions in Washington DC, on Wednesday, April 16.

Join the Ad Hoc National Network Against Home Foreclosures and Evictions in front of the Mortgage Bankers Association Annual Conference, the biggest assembly of mortgage bankers in the country, to demand a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions. Almost everyone hates the war in Iraq, but until now many have seemed resigned to leaving it up to politicians to end it. That¢s because most people have felt that the war didn¢t affect them personally. That mindset is coming to an end.

Mass anger over home foreclosures, rising unemployment, rising gas and food prices etc. is starting to transform passive opposition to the war into urgent and active mass anger at the war. More people are viewing the war¢s cost as one of the main reasons for economic hard times. People tend to pay a lot more attention to the money wasted on the war plus the fact that banks are being bailed out by the government when their losing their homes and jobs.

Finally, there is the potential for forging the movement that can force an end to the war. We can give meaning to the 5th anniversary of this criminal war by making it the moment that antiwar activists, at the grass roots level, employ the strategy that the war makers have always feared--merging the fight against the war abroad with the struggle of working and poor people right here. Come to D.C. on April 16, and start giving the war- makers the nightmare that they hoped they could avoid. Foreclose the war, not peoples¢ homes!

View endorsers from around the country (list in formation) at: http://www.stopforeclosuresandevictions.org/index.html#citiesandendorsers


VOLUNTEER - http://www.stopforeclosuresandevictions.org/stopforeclosuresvolunteer.shtml




The Ad Hoc National Network to
Stop Foreclosures & Evictions
A fast growing network of activists organizing in 22 states in every region of the country.
www.STOPForeclosuresAndEvictions.org 212-633-6646

Atlanta 404-622-7517 n Baltimore 410-218-4835 n Boston 617-522-6626
Buffalo 716-604-9515 n Charlotte, NC 704-492-5226
Cleveland 216-531-4004 n Detroit 313-319-0870 n Keene, NH 603-357-6855 Los Angeles 323-936-7266 n Miami 786-985-9048
New York 212-633-6646 n Philadelphia 215-724-1618
Providence 401-837-7663 n Raleigh, NC 919-264-0201
Washington, DC 202-821-3686


Student Walkout Portland Oregon 3/20/08


The Sand Creek Massacre (6 MINUTES)


Thought you might enjoy this item I've posted about a 1970 antiwar
poster folio with a name similar to yours.
Lots of good history here.

Lincoln Cushing


Call for an Open U.S. National Antiwar Conference
Stop the War in Iraq! Bring the Troops Home Now!
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: NatAssembly@aol.com

Please take note:

Cristina Gutierrez called me to make sure to announce to the lists that she never agreed and will not agree to let this meeting take place at 474 Valencia. The announcement was incorrect and the time and place of the meeting has been postponed and is to be announced.

It is hoped that there will be a meeting to build interest in this upcoming antiwar conference to take place in Cleveland, OH June 28 and 29.

The conference call is printed below, just scroll down.

Sorry about the mix-up.

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein



NY Metro APWU votes May Day action against the war--ILWU website-Stop work in W Coast ports to stop the war--ILWU letter to John Sweeney about May Day

2 minutes of silence May 1st in all postal stations -- backing ILWU & NALC May Day actions

7,000-member NY Metro Area Postal Union (APWU) votes May Day action to protest 'unjust' US war in Iraq

Scroll down for ILWU's decision to Stop Work to Stop the War on May 1st
in West Coast ports, and ILWU appeal to John Sweeney to "spread the word" on May Day labor actions

The New York Metro Area local of the American Postal Workers Union will observe a "2-minute period of silence at 1:00 AM, 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM" during all three shifts on May 1st, 2008 - International Workers Day - to show their opposition to the Iraq war and occupation and Bush's threats to attack Iran and Syria.

The resolution, "in support of labor actions to stop the war," passed without opposition at the general membership meeting March 19th. NY Metro is the largest local in the APWU, representing many thousands of clerks and other postal workers in Manhattan, the Bronx and several large mail processing facilities in New Jersey.

The vote by NY Metro is "in solidarity with the actions of our brothers and sisters in the ILWU," which plans to shut down all West Coast ports for 8 hours on May 1st, and with San Francisco Branch 214 letter carriers, who voted to have a 2-minute period of silence (at 8:15 AM) on May Day in all carrier stations, in opposition to the war.

The resolution also urged NY Metro members in all postal facilities to "wear a button, ribbon, badge or some other symbol in protest of the war on May Day." On March 22, NY Metro leaders and members marched with other unionists in the "River to River Against the War" protest on the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war. They marched on 14th Street in both directions, from the East River to the Hudson, meeting up for a rally at Union Square with wounded veterans of the war and military families.

WHEREAS New York Metro has long opposed the U.S. war against and occupation of Iraq as unnecessary and unjust; and

WHEREAS the Bush administration is threatening to expand the war to Iran and Syria; and

WHEREAS the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is planning to shut down all Pacific Coast ports on 1 May 2008---International Workers Day, or Mayday---to protest the war; and

WHEREAS National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 214 in San Francisco is requesting its members to observe a 2-minute period of silence in all stations on Mayday in solidarity with the ILWU;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that New York Metro requests that all its members in all its stations observe a 2-minute period of silence at 1AM, 9AM and 5PM on Mayday in solidarity with the actions of our brothers and sisters in the ILWU and NALC; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that New York Metro requests all its members to wear a button, ribbon, badge or some other symbol in protest of the war on Mayday. -- Adopted without opposition March 19, 2008


ILWU website on May Day Stop Work to Stop the War
protest in West Coast ports

ILWU Longshore Caucus calls for Iraq war protest at Pacific ports on May 1

Nearly one hundred Longshore Caucus delegates voted on February 8 to support a resolution calling for an eight-hour "stop-work" meeting during the day-shift on Thursday, May 1 at ports in CA, OR and WA to protest the war by calling for the immediate, safe return of U . S . troops from Iraq .

“The Caucus has spoken on this important issue and I’ve notified the employers about our plans for 'stop work' meetings on May 1,” said ILWU International President Bob McEllrath .

Caucus delegates, including several military veterans, spoke passionately about the importance of supporting the troops by bringing them home safely and ending the War in Iraq . Concerns were also raised about the growing cost of the war that has threatened funding for domestic needs, including education and healthcare . Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard economist Linda J. Bilmes recently estimated that the true cost of the War in Iraq to American taxpayers will exceed 3 trillion dollars--a figure they describe as "conservative . "
The union’s International Executive Board recently endorsed Barack Obama, citing his opposition to the War in Iraq as one of the key factors in the union's decision-making process .

Caucus delegates are democratically elected representatives from every longshore local who set policy for the Longshore Division .

ILWU International President Robert McEllrath has written letters to President John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO and President Andy Stern of the Change-to-Win Coalition, and to the presidents of the International Transport Workers Federation and the International Dockworkers Council to inform them of the ILWU's plans for May 1 . [From ILWU website]


Text of ILWU letter to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, dated February 22, 2008
ILWU President asks Sweeney's help "spreading the word" about May 1 action opposing Iraq war

President Sweeney,

"ILWU delegates recently concluded a two-week caucus where we reached agreement on our approach for bargaining a new Pacific Coast Longshore Contract that expires on July 1, 2008. We expect talks to begin sometime in March and will keep you informed of developments.

"One of the resolutions adopted by caucus delegates called on longshore workers to stop work during the day shift on May 1, 2008, to express their opposition to the war in Iraq.

"We're writing to inform you of this action, and inquire if other AFL-CIO affiliates are also planning to participate in similar events on May 1 to honor labor history and express support for the troops by bringing them home safely. We would appreciate your assistance with spreading word about this May 1 action."

In solidarity,

Robert McEllrath
ILWU International President


S.F. Labor Council backs ILWU May Day action in West Coast ports

Whereas, the San Francisco Labor Council has a longstanding position calling for an immediate end to the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq; therefore be it

Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council supports the decision of the Longshore Caucus of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) to stop work for eight hours on Thursday, May 1, 2008—International Workers Day—at all West Coast ports, to demand "an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East." The Council supports the decision of Branch 214 of the National Association of Letter Carriers to observe two minutes of silence in all carrier stations at 8:15 a.m. on May 1, in solidarity with the ILWU action and to express their opposition to the war in Iraq; and be it further

Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council encourages other unions to follow ILWUs call for a “No Peace-No Work Holiday” or other labor actions on May Day, to express their opposition to the U.S. wars and occupations in the Middle East; and be it finally

Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council send a letter of congratulations to ILWU President Bob McEllrath for his union's bold initiative to use the occasion of International Workers Day to stop work to stop the war.

—Resolution adopted by the San Francisco Labor Council March 24, 2008, by unanimous vote.


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

Dear Comrade,

I am involved in the Local Nakba Committee (LNC), which is made up of Palestinians and allies for justice in Palestine from the San Francisco/Bay Area. Our purpose for coming together is to raise awareness, unite, and mark 60 years since the ongoing Palestinian Nakba and struggle for self-determination and the right of return. We are promoting a very special day-long FREE Palestine, Peace and Solidarity Festival-with an amazing program of Palestinian, and other musicians for peace and justice. The FREE outdoor festival will be held at the Civic Center in downtown San Francisco, May 10th, 2008.

The purpose of the Solidarity Festival is to raise the voices of Palestinian and other artists who resist the domination of their communities, through music and to initiate a public discourse of our issues. Palestinians are the largest and longest displaced refugee community in the world as a result of Israel's occupation, Apartheid-wall and illegal settlements. We intend to use resistance music and issue a rallying call for those in solidarity to build a mass popular movement and support the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and right of return.

In order reach out beyond our existing allies, the event will serve as an opportunity to outreach broadly and educate youth and those who are interested in understanding the historical context of Palestine. The event is a first step to historical and political education, and for those interested, the LNC is planning youth programs and educational workshops for both the day of, and to follow the event.

I am contacting you on behalf of the Local Nakba Committee to request a demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people. To make this historic gathering possible, will require tremendous amount of labor and financial contribution. The concert will only happen with the generosity of donors such as yourself. Thank you for recognizing the urgency of this time in the Palestinian people's struggle, and helping make it possible to hear these important voices.

Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition is acting as the fiscal sponsor of the event (www.al-awda.org). Please feel free to contact me with for additional information and questions.

Thank you for your support!

Local Nakba Committee Coordinator

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

Event Sponsorship - If your organization or business wishes to sponsor the event, have a booth, and/or to be listed in all related promotional material, please see, and be in full agreement with the points of unity below.

For a detailed budget breakdown and itemization of artist & logistic expenses that your contribution will go directly towards, please email: right2return@gmail.com requesting specific sponsorship opportunities.

For more information about individuals who make up the Local Nakba Committee, please email us at the above address for a list of bio's.

For more information about, the Palestine Right of Return Coalition, see: www.al-awda.org.

For regular concert updates see our website at: http://www.araborganizing.org/concert.html

You can donate online at the Facebook Cause 'Nakba-60, Palestine Solidarity Concert' at: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/causes/19958?h=plw&recruiter_id=6060344

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.

Coalition Building: The LNC is working with a coalition of social justice groups and organizations. Our primary goal is to further reach out to natural allies and communities who are affected by the similar issues as Palestinians. We are calling on Native communities to commemorate with those who have died, or been killed by fighting for self-determination, and Hurricane Katrina Solidarity groups with their solidarity message to Palestinians of the "right to return" to New Orleans. More generally, we are calling on groups organizing youth & communities around issues of social justice, indigenous/land/human rights, and international law.

Online video streaming: The goal is to provide online video steaming technology of the concert, so that it can be watched from Palestine and anywhere in the world.

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.

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@ al-awda.org

For information on how to become part of the host committee, please write to convention6@ al-awda.org

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@ al-awda.org

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.


Call for an Open U.S. National Antiwar Conference
Stop the War in Iraq! Bring the Troops Home Now!
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: NatAssembly@aol.com

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: NatAssembly@aol.com


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 ColorOfChange.org to demand an investigation into this clear case
of unequal justice. Will you join us?


When ColorOfChange.org 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 ColorOfChange.org 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.




[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]

READ ALL OF PROP. 98 at: http://yesprop98.com/read/?_adctlid=v%7Cwynx8c5jjesxsb%7Cwziq39twoqov52

"- 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."


Gaza's lost childhood - 23 March 08

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


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

Tent Cities, USA




1) Foreclosure Machine Thrives on Woes
March 30, 2008

2) The Way We Live Now
March 30, 2008

3) The Dilbert Strategy
Op-Ed Columnist
March 31, 2008

4) Five Years In
Tracking a Marine Lost at Home
March 31, 2008

5) As Jobs Vanish and Prices Rise, Food Stamp Use Nears Record
March 31, 2008

6) Parts Strike Forces G.M. to Close Sedan Plant
March 31, 2008

7) A Nervous Wall St. Seems Unsure What’s Next
March 31, 2008

8) Fresh Ideas for a Tired Crusade
Contributing Columnist
April 1, 2008

9) Tenants Gain Right to Sue Landlords for Harassment
By Manny Fernandez
March 13, 2008, 4:14 pm

10) City Council Approves Fee to Drive Below 60th
April 1, 2008

11) Accusations of Delays in Releasing Drug Results
April 1, 2008

12) Parts Maker Talks of Strikebreakers and Labor Abroad
April 1, 2008

13) Police arrest anti-war protester, 80, at mall
March 30, 2008


1) Foreclosure Machine Thrives on Woes
March 30, 2008

NOBODY wins when a home enters foreclosure — neither the borrower, who is evicted, nor the lender, who takes a loss when the home is resold. That’s the conventional wisdom, anyway.

The reality is very different. Behind the scenes in these dramas, a small army of law firms and default servicing companies, who represent mortgage lenders, have been raking in mounting profits. These little-known firms assess legal fees and a host of other charges, calculate what the borrowers owe and draw up the documents required to remove them from their homes.

As the subprime mortgage crisis has spread, the volume of the business has soared, and firms that handle loan defaults have been the primary beneficiaries. Law firms, paid by the number of motions filed in foreclosure cases, have sometimes issued a flurry of claims without regard for the requirements of bankruptcy law, several judges say.

Much as Wall Street’s mortgage securitization machinery helped to fuel questionable lending across the United States, default, or foreclosure, servicing operations have been compounding the woes of troubled borrowers. Court documents say that some of the largest firms in the industry have repeatedly submitted erroneous affidavits when moving to seize homes and levied improper fees that make it harder for homeowners to get back on track with payments. Consumer lawyers call these operations “foreclosure mills.”
“They get paid by the volume and speed with which they process these foreclosures,” said Mal Maynard, director of the Financial Protection Law Center, a nonprofit firm in Wilmington, N.C.
John and Robin Atchley of Waleska, Ga., have experienced dubious foreclosure practices at first hand. Twice during a four-month period in 2006, the Atchleys were almost forced from their home when Countrywide Home Loans, part of Countrywide Financial, and the law firm representing it said they were delinquent on their mortgage. Countrywide’s lawyers withdrew their motions to seize the Atchleys’ home only after the couple proved them wrong in court.

The possibility that some lenders and their representatives are running roughshod over borrowers is of increasing concern to bankruptcy judges overseeing Chapter 13 cases across the country. The United States Trustee Program, a unit of the Justice Department that oversees the integrity of the nation’s bankruptcy courts, is bringing cases against lenders that it says are abusing the bankruptcy system.

Joel B. Rosenthal, a United States bankruptcy judge in the Western District of Massachusetts, wrote in a case last year involving Wells Fargo Bank that rising foreclosures were resulting in greater numbers of lenders that “in their rush to foreclose, haphazardly fail to comply with even the most basic legal requirements of the bankruptcy system.”

Law firms and default servicing operations that process large numbers of cases have made it harder for borrowers to design repayment plans, or workouts, consumer lawyers say. “As I talk to people around the country, they all unanimously state that the foreclosure mills are impediments to loan workouts,” Mr. Maynard said.

LAST month, almost 225,000 properties in the United States were in some stage of foreclosure, up nearly 60 percent from the period a year earlier, according to RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure research firm and marketplace.
These proceedings generate considerable revenue for the firms involved: eviction and appraisal charges, late fees, title search costs, recording fees, certified mailing costs, document retrieval fees, and legal fees. The borrower, already in financial distress, is billed for these often burdensome costs. While much of the revenue goes to the law firms hired by lenders, some is kept by the servicers of the loans.
Fidelity National Default Solutions, a unit of Fidelity National Information Services of Jacksonville, Fla., is one of the biggest foreclosure service companies. It assists 19 of the top 25 residential mortgage servicers and 14 of the top 25 subprime loan servicers.

Citing “accelerating demand” for foreclosure services last year, Fidelity generated operating income of $443 million in its lender processing unit, a 13.3 percent increase over 2006. By contrast, the increase from 2005 to 2006 was just 1 percent. The firm is not associated with Fidelity Investments.

Law firms representing lenders are also big beneficiaries of the foreclosure surge. These include Barrett Burke Wilson Castle Daffin & Frappier, a 38-lawyer firm in Houston; McCalla, Raymer, Padrick, Cobb, Nichols & Clark, a 37-member firm in Atlanta that is a designated counsel to Fannie Mae; and the Shapiro Attorneys Network, a nationwide group of 24 firms.
While these private firms do not disclose their revenues, Wesley W. Steen, chief bankruptcy judge for the Southern District of Texas, recently estimated that Barrett Burke generated between $9.7 million and $11.6 million a year in its practice. Another judge estimated last year that the firm generated $125,000 every two weeks — or $3.3 million a year — filing motions that start the process of seizing borrowers’ homes.

Court records from 2007 indicate that McCalla, Raymer generated $10.4 million a year on its work for Countrywide alone. In 2005, some McCalla, Raymer employees left the firm and created MR Default Services, an entity that provides foreclosure services; it is now called Prommis Solutions.
For years, consumer lawyers say, bankruptcy courts routinely approved these firms’ claims and fees. Now, as the foreclosure tsunami threatens millions of families, the firms’ practices are coming under scrutiny.

And none too soon, consumer lawyers say, because most foreclosures are uncontested by borrowers, who generally rely on what the lender or its representative says is owed, including hefty fees assessed during the foreclosure process. In Georgia, for example, a borrower can watch his home go up for auction on the courthouse steps after just 40 days in foreclosure, leaving relatively little chance to question fees that his lender has levied.

A recent analysis of 1,733 foreclosures across the country by Katherine M. Porter, associate professor of law at the University of Iowa, showed that questionable fees were added to borrowers’ bills in almost half the loans.

Specific cases inching through the courts support the notion that figures supplied by lenders are often incorrect. Lawyers representing clients who have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the program intended to help them keep their homes, say it is especially distressing when these numbers are used to evict borrowers.

“If the debtor wants accurate information in a bankruptcy case on her mortgage, she has got to work hard to find that out,” said Howard D. Rothbloom, a lawyer in Marietta, Ga., who represents borrowers. That work, usually done by a lawyer, is costly.

Mr. Rothbloom represents the Atchleys, who almost lost their home in early 2006 when legal representatives of their loan servicer, Countrywide, incorrectly told the court that the Atchleys were 60 days delinquent in Chapter 13 plan payments two times over four months. Borrowers can lose their homes if they fail to make such payments.

After the Atchleys supplied proof that they had made their payments on both occasions, Countrywide withdrew its motions to begin foreclosure. But the company also levied $2,793 in fees on the Atchleys’ loan that it did not explain, court documents said. “Every paycheck went to what they said we owed,” Robin Atchley said. “And every statement we got, the payoff was $179,000 and it never went down. I really think they took advantage of us.”

The Atchleys, who have four children, sold the house and now rent. Mrs. Atchley said they lost more than $23,000 in equity in the home because of fees levied by Countrywide.

The United States Trustee sued Countrywide last month in the Atchley case, saying its pattern of conduct was an abuse of the bankruptcy system. Countrywide said that it could not comment on pending litigation and that privacy concerns prevented it from discussing specific borrowers.

A generation ago, home foreclosures were a local business, lawyers say. If a borrower got into trouble, the lender who made the loan was often a nearby bank that held on to the mortgage. That bank would hire a local lawyer to try to work with the borrower; foreclosure proceedings were a last resort.

Now foreclosures are farmed out to third-party processors who hire local counsel to litigate. Lenders negotiate flat-fee arrangements to try to keep legal bills down.

AN unfortunate result, according to several judges, is a drive to increase revenue by filing more motions. Jeff Bohm, a bankruptcy judge in Texas who oversaw a case between William Allen Parsley, a borrower in Willis, Tex., and legal representatives for Countrywide, said the flat-fee structure “has fostered a corrosive ‘assembly line’ culture of practicing law.” Both McCalla, Raymer and Barrett Burke represented Countrywide in the matter.

Gee Aldridge, managing partner at McCalla, Raymer, called the Parsley case unique. “It is the goal of every single one of my clients to do whatever they can do to keep borrowers in their homes,” he said. Officials at Barrett Burke did not return phone calls seeking comment.

In a statement, Countrywide said it recognized the importance of the efficient functioning of the bankruptcy system. It said that servicing loans for borrowers in bankruptcy was complex, but that it had improved its procedures, hired new employees and was “aggressively exploring additional technology solutions to ensure that we are servicing loans in a manner consistent with applicable guidelines and policies.”

The September 2006 issue of The Summit, an in-house promotional publication of Fidelity National Foreclosure Solutions, another unit of Fidelity, trumpeted the efficiency of its 18-member “document execution team.” Set up “like a production line,” the publication said, the team executes 1,000 documents a day, on average.

OTHER judges are cracking down on some foreclosure practices. In 2006, Morris Stern, the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing a matter involving Jenny Rivera, a borrower in Lodi, N.J., issued a $125,000 sanction against the Shapiro & Diaz firm, which is a part of the Shapiro Attorneys Network. The judge found that Shapiro & Diaz had filed 250 motions seeking permission to seize homes using pre-signed certifications of default executed by an employee who had not worked at the firm for more than a year.

In testimony before the judge, a Shapiro & Diaz employee said that the firm used the pre-signed documents beginning in 2000 and that they were attached to “95 percent” of the firm’s motions seeking permission to seize a borrower’s home. Individuals making such filings are supposed to attest to their accuracy. Judge Stern called Shapiro & Diaz’s use of these documents “the blithe implementation of a renegade practice.”

Nelson Diaz, a partner at the firm, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Butler & Hosch, a law firm in Orlando, Fla., that is employed by Fannie Mae, has also been the subject of penalties. Last year, a judge sanctioned the firm $33,500 for filing 67 faulty motions to remove borrowers from their homes. A spokesman for the firm declined to comment.

Barrett Burke in Texas has come under intense scrutiny by bankruptcy judges. Overseeing a case last year involving James Patrick Allen, a homeowner in Victoria, Tex., Judge Steen examined the firm’s conduct in eight other foreclosure cases and found problems in all of them. In five of the matters, documents show, the firm used inaccurate information about defaults or failed to attach proper documentation when it moved to seize borrowers’ homes. Judge Steen imposed $75,000 in sanctions against Barrett Burke for a pattern of errors in the Allen case.

A former Barrett Burke lawyer, who requested anonymity to avoid possible retaliation from the firm, said, “They’re trying to find a fine line between providing efficient, less costly service to the mortgage companies” and not harming the borrower.

Both he and another former lawyer at the firm said Barrett Burke relied heavily on paralegals and other nonlawyer employees in its foreclosure and bankruptcy practices. For example, they said, paralegals prepared documents to be filed in bankruptcy court, demanding that the court authorize foreclosure on a borrower’s home. Lawyers were supposed to review the documents before they were filed. Both former Barrett lawyers said that with at least 1,000 filings a month, it was hard to keep up with the volume.

This factory-line approach to litigation was one reason he decided to leave the firm, the first lawyer said. “I had questions,” he added, “about whether doing things efficiently was worth whatever the cost was to the consumer.”

James R. and Tracy A. Edwards, who are now living in New Mexico, say they have had problems with questionable fees charged by Countrywide and actions by Barrett Burke. In one month in 2002, when the couple lived in Houston, Countrywide Home Loans withdrew three monthly mortgage payments from their bank account, Mrs. Edwards said, leaving them unable to pay other bills. The family filed for bankruptcy to try to keep their home, cars and other assets.

Filings in the bankruptcy case of the Edwards family show that on at least three occasions, Countrywide’s lawyers at Barrett Burke filed motions contending that the borrowers had fallen behind. The firm subsequently withdrew the motions.

“They kept saying we owed tons and tons of fees on the house,” Mrs. Edwards said. Tired of this battle, the family gave up the Houston house and moved to one in Rio Rancho, N.M., that they had previously rented out.

Countrywide tried to foreclose on that house, too, contending that Mr. and Mrs. Edwards were behind in their payments. Again, Mrs. Edwards said, the culprit was a raft of fees that Countrywide had never told them about — and that were related to their Texas home. Mrs. Edwards says that she and her husband plan to sue Countrywide to block foreclosure on their New Mexico home.

Pamela L. Stewart, president of the Houston Association of Debtor Attorneys, said she has become skeptical of lenders’ claims of fees owed. “I want to see documents that back up where these numbers are coming from,” Ms. Stewart said. “To me, they’re pulled out of the air.”

An inaccurate mortgage payment history supplied by Ameriquest, a mortgage lender that is now defunct, was central to a case last year in federal bankruptcy court in Massachusetts. “Ameriquest is simply unable or unwilling to conform its accounting practices to what is required under the bankruptcy code,” Judge Rosenthal wrote. He awarded the borrower $250,000 in emotional-distress damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.

Fidelity National Information Services has also been sued. A complaint filed on behalf of Ernest and Mattie Harris in federal bankruptcy court in Houston contends that Fidelity receives kickbacks from the lawyers it works with on foreclosure matters.

The case shines some light on the complex relationships between lenders and default servicers and the law firms that represent them. The Harrises’ loan servicer is Saxon Mortgage Services, a Morgan Stanley unit, which signed an agreement with Fidelity National Foreclosure Solutions. Under it, Fidelity was to provide foreclosure and bankruptcy services on loans serviced by Saxon, as well as to manage lawyers acting on Saxon’s behalf. The agreement also specified that Saxon would pay the fees of the lawyers managed by Fidelity.

But Fidelity also struck a second agreement, with an outside law firm, Mann & Stevens in Houston, which spelled out the fees Fidelity was to be paid each time the law firm made filings in a case. Mann & Stevens, which did respond to phone calls, represented Saxon in the Harrises’ bankruptcy proceedings.

According to the complaint, Mann & Stevens billed Saxon $200 for filing an objection to the borrowers’ plan to emerge from bankruptcy. Saxon paid the $200 fee, then charged that amount to the Harrises, according to the complaint. But Mann & Stevens kept only $150, paying the remaining $50 to Fidelity, the complaint said.

This arrangement constitutes improper fee-sharing, the Harrises argued. Texas rules of professional conduct bar fee-sharing between lawyers and nonlawyers because that could motivate them to raise prices — and the Harrises argue that this is why the law firm charged $200 instead of $150. And under these rules, sharing fees with someone who is not a lawyer creates a risk that the financial relationship could affect the judgment of the lawyer, whose duty is to the client. Few exceptions are permitted — like sharing court-awarded fees with a nonprofit organization or keeping a retirement plan for nonlawyer employees of a law firm.

“If it’s fee-sharing, and if it doesn’t fall into those categories, it sounds wrong,” said Michael S. Frisch, adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University. Greg Whitworth, president of loan portfolio solutions at Fidelity, defended the arrangement, saying it was not unusual for a company to have an intermediary manage outside law firms on its behalf.

The Harrises contend that the bankruptcy-related fees charged by the law firms managed by Fidelity “are inflated by 25 to 50 percent.” The agreement between Fidelity and the law firm is also hidden, according to their complaint, so a presiding judge sees only the lender and the law firm, not the middleman.

Fidelity said the money it received from the law firm was not a kickback, but payments for services, just as a law firm would pay a copying service to duplicate documents. In response to the complaint, Fidelity asserted in a court filing that the Harrises’ claims were “nothing more than scandalous, hollow rhetoric.”

But the Fidelity fee schedule shows a charge for each action taken by the law firm, not a fee per page or kilobyte. And Fidelity’s contract appears to indemnify Saxon if the arrangement between Fidelity and its law firm runs afoul of conduct rules.

Mr. Whitworth of Fidelity said that the arrangement with Mann & Stevens did not constitute fee sharing, because Fidelity was to be paid by that law firm even if the law firm itself was not paid.

He also said that by helping a servicer manage dozens or even hundreds of law firms, Fidelity lowered the cost of foreclosure or bankruptcy proceedings, to the benefit of the law firm, the servicer and the borrower. “Both parties want us to be in the middle here,” Mr. Whitworth said, referring to law firms and mortgage servicing companies.

THE Fidelity contract attached to the complaint also hints at the money each motion generates. Foreclosures earn lawyers fees of $500 or more under the contract; evictions generate about $300. Those fees aren’t enormous if they require a substantial amount of time. But a few thousand such motions a month, executed by lawyers’ employees, translates into many hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to the law firm — and the lower the firm’s costs, the greater the profits.

“Congress needs to enact a national foreclosure bill that sets a uniform procedure in every state that provides adequate notice, due process and transparency about fees and charges,” said O. Max Gardner III, a consumer lawyer in Shelby, N.C. “A lot of this stuff is such a maze of numbers and complex organizational structure most lawyers can’t get through it. For the average consumer, it is mission impossible.”


2) The Way We Live Now
March 30, 2008

Since the bank runs of the 1930s, federal protection of retail depositor institutions has been a hallmark of American capitalism. The Federal Reserve, in a sweeping extension, has now extended the privilege to gilt-edged investment firms.

Its flurry of interventions has prompted a double dose of unease. The central bank offered a lifeline to Wall Street investors who, seemingly, deserved a worse fate. And it arguably interrupted the cycle of boom, bust and renewal that leads to a durable recovery.

What is the true value of Bear Stearns? If the government-orchestrated takeover of Bear goes through as planned, we will never know. As with Bear, so with the billions of dollars of mortgage securities for which the central bank has suddenly become an eager customer. So, too, perhaps, with the nation’s stock of residential homes — the prices of which, instead of reverting to more realistic values, will get a boost from the Fed’s repeated rounds of interest rate-cutting.

Government interventions always bring disruptions, but when Washington meddles in financial markets, the potential for the sort of distortion that obscures proper incentives is especially large, due to our markets’ complexities. Even Robert Rubin, the Citigroup executive and former Treasury secretary, has admitted he had never heard of a type of contract responsible for major problems at Citi.

Bear is a far smaller company, and, it would seem, far simpler. But consider that as recently as three weeks ago, it was valued at $65 a share. Then, as it became clear that Bear faced the modern equivalent of a bank run,

JPMorgan Chase negotiated a merger with the figure of $10 a share in mind. Alas, at the 11th hour, Morgan’s bankers realized they couldn’t get a handle on what Bear owned — or owed — and got cold feet. Under heavy pressure from the Fed and the Treasury, a deal was struck at the price of a subway ride — $2 a share.

It is safe to say that neither Jamie Dimon, Morgan’s chief executive, nor Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman who pushed for the deal, know what Bear is really worth. For the record, Bear’s book value per share is $84. As Meredith Whitney, who follows Wall Street for Oppenheimer, remarked, “It’s hard to get a linear progression from 84 to 2.”

Capitalism isn’t supposed to work like this, and before the advent of modern finance, it usually didn’t. Market values fluctuate, but — in the absence of fraud — billion-dollar companies do not evaporate. Yet it’s worth noting that Lehman Brothers’ stock also fell by half and then recovered within a 24-hour span. Once, investors could get a read on financial firms’ assets and risks from their balance sheets; those days are history.

Firms now do much of their business off the balance sheet. The swashbuckling Bear Stearns was a party to $2.5 trillion — no typo — of a derivative instrument known as a credit default swap. Such swaps are off-the-books agreements with third parties to exchange sums of cash according to a motley assortment of other credit indicators. In truth, no outsider could understand what Bear (or Citi, or Lehman) was committed to. The thought that Bear’s counterparties (the firms on the other side of that $2.5 trillion) would call in their chits — and then cancel their trades with Lehman, perhaps with Merrill Lynch and so forth — sent Wall Street into panic mode. Had Bear collapsed, or so asserted a veteran employee, “it would have been the end: pandemonium and global meltdown.”

Perhaps. Or perhaps, after some bad weeks or months, Wall Street would have recovered. What is scary is the degree to which the Fed assimilated the alarmism on the Street: “These guys are so afraid of an economic cycle,” a hedge-fund manager remarked. And without public airing or debate, it stretched the implicit federal safety net under Wall Street.

To question intervention is not to dispute that markets need rules. But for nearly two decades, Washington has trimmed its regulatory sails. The repeal of Glass-Steagall, which once separated banks from securities firms, and the evolution of new instruments that circumvent disclosure rules have loosened the market’s moorings. Huge pools of capital have been permitted to operate virtually unregulated. Mortgages have been written to the flimsiest of credits. Swelling derivative books have made a mockery of disclosure.

The relaxation of oversight has implied an unholy bargain: let markets operate unfettered in good times, confident that the feds will come to the rescue in bad. In 1998, the Fed intervened to cushion the collapsing hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management; dot-com stocks immediately began their dubious ascent. Then, when the tech meltdown led to a recession and the Fed cut rates to 1 percent, adjustable-rate mortgages became as hot as the iPod. One rescue begets the next excess.

It is true that Bear’s shareholders have suffered steep losses. But the Fed went much further than in previous episodes to calm the waters. Notably, it announced it would accept mortgage securities as collateral for loans — enlarging its role as lender of last resort. (Wall Street jesters had it that the Fed would also be accepting “cereal box-tops.”) Then the Fed extended a backstop line of credit to JPMorgan to tide Bear over; finally, it agreed to absorb the ugliest $30 billion of Bear’s assets.

Government rescues are as old as private enterprise itself, but we are well beyond the days of guaranteeing loans to stodgy manufacturers à la Chrysler and Lockheed. Those cases were contained; the borders of finance are more nebulous. However pure of motive, Bernanke & Co. are underwriting overleveraged markets whose linkages, even today, are dimly understood. The formula of laissez faire in advance and intervention in the aftermath has it exactly wrong. Better that the Fed, with Congress’s help if need be, ensures that regulators and markets have the tools to know what companies are worth before the trouble hits.

Roger Lowenstein, a contributing writer, last wrote for the magazine about Ben Bernanke.


3) The Dilbert Strategy
Op-Ed Columnist
March 31, 2008

Anyone who has worked in a large organization — or, for that matter, reads the comic strip “Dilbert” — is familiar with the “org chart” strategy. To hide their lack of any actual ideas about what to do, managers sometimes make a big show of rearranging the boxes and lines that say who reports to whom.

You now understand the principle behind the Bush administration’s new proposal for financial reform, which will be formally announced today: it’s all about creating the appearance of responding to the current crisis, without actually doing anything substantive.

The financial events of the last seven months, and especially the past few weeks, have convinced all but a few diehards that the U.S. financial system needs major reform. Otherwise, we’ll lurch from crisis to crisis — and the crises will get bigger and bigger.

The rescue of Bear Stearns, in particular, was a paradigm-changing event.

Traditional, deposit-taking banks have been regulated since the 1930s, because the experience of the Great Depression showed how bank failures can threaten the whole economy. Supposedly, however, “non-depository” institutions like Bear didn’t have to be regulated, because “market discipline” would ensure that they were run responsibly.

When push came to shove, however, the Federal Reserve didn’t dare let market discipline run its course. Instead, it rushed to Bear’s rescue, risking billions of taxpayer dollars, because it feared that the collapse of a major financial institution would endanger the financial system as a whole.

And if financial players like Bear are going to receive the kind of rescue previously limited to deposit-taking banks, the implication seems obvious: they should be regulated like banks, too.

The Bush administration, however, has spent the last seven years trying to do away with government oversight of the financial industry. In fact, the new plan was originally conceived of as “promoting a competitive financial services sector leading the world and supporting continued economic innovation.” That’s banker-speak for getting rid of regulations that annoy big financial operators.

To reverse course now, and seek expanded regulation, the administration would have to back down on its free-market ideology — and it would also have to face up to the fact that it was wrong. And this administration never, ever, admits that it made a mistake.

Thus, in a draft of a speech to be delivered on Monday, Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, declares, “I do not believe it is fair or accurate to blame our regulatory structure for the current turmoil.”

And sure enough, according to the executive summary of the new administration plan, regulation will be limited to institutions that receive explicit federal guarantees — that is, institutions that are already regulated, and have not been the source of today’s problems. As for the rest, it blithely declares that “market discipline is the most effective tool to limit systemic risk.”

The administration, then, has learned nothing from the current crisis. Yet it needs, as a political matter, to pretend to be doing something.

So the Treasury has, with great fanfare, announced — you know what’s coming — its support for a rearrangement of the boxes on the org chart. OCC, OTS, and CFTC are out; PFRA and CBRA are in. Whatever.

Will rearranging these boxes make any difference? I’ve been disappointed to see some news outlets report as fact the administration’s cover story — the claim that lack of coordination among regulatory agencies was an important factor in our current problems.

The truth is that that’s not at all what happened. The various regulators actually did quite well at acting in a coordinated fashion. Unfortunately, they coordinated in the wrong direction.

For example, there was a 2003 photo-op in which officials from multiple agencies used pruning shears and chainsaws to chop up stacks of banking regulations. The occasion symbolized the shared determination of Bush appointees to suspend adult supervision just as the financial industry was starting to run wild.

Oh, and the Bush administration actively blocked state governments when they tried to protect families against predatory lending.

So, will the administration’s plan succeed? I’m not asking whether it will succeed in preventing future financial crises — that’s not its purpose. The question, instead, is whether it will succeed in confusing the issue sufficiently to stand in the way of real reform.

Let’s hope not. As I said, America’s financial crises have been getting bigger. A decade ago, the market disruption that followed the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management was considered a major, scary event; but compared with the current earthquake, the L.T.C.M. crisis was a minor tremor.

If we don’t reform the system this time, the next crisis could well be even bigger. And I, for one, really don’t want to live through a replay of the 1930s.


4) Five Years In
Tracking a Marine Lost at Home
March 31, 2008

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — A week after Eric W. Hall disappeared into the woods of Southwest Florida, his mother stood in a parking lot overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. She had asked for volunteers. Would they come?

Becky Hall’s son had experienced a flashback, fleeing a relative’s home after sensing that Iraqi insurgents had surrounded him. He was 24, a former Marine corporal from Indiana who had been medically discharged after a bomb ripped through his leg. Here, among the retirees and strip malls, he was a stranger.

And yet his absence spurred a community to action. More than 50 people stepped forward that first day in February. Others came later, young and old, contributing four-wheelers, pickup trucks, boats, horses, search-and-rescue dogs, and even a small plane.

They searched day in, day out for weeks because Mr. Hall’s story broke their hearts and, many said, because his case inspired them to look past arguments over whether the war was right or wrong. It was a mission, not a debate: A marine was missing and had to be found.

“He has these issues as a result of what we asked him to do,” said Kathryn Preston, 52, a botanist who spent time in the Army as a young woman and used her pontoon boat for the search. “It felt like we were responsible for him. People in the United States. All of us.”

Here in Southwest Florida, the Iraq war is no stranger. Tampa has both the headquarters for Central Command, responsible for Iraq and Afghanistan, and one of four hospitals that care for the nation’s most severely wounded soldiers. Since 2003, at least 34 families from Clearwater to Fort Myers have endured the chest-crushing pain of a knock on the door that leads to a funeral.

Mr. Hall’s story, to many, sounded familiar. And in the end, it connected military families from coast to coast. He was among the thousands who had been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq more than once. When he came home in 2005 after being wounded by a bomb that killed his close friend, he was forced to endure repeated surgery, post-traumatic stress and the loss of his career in the Marine Corps.

At his parents’ home in Indiana one day, he told his mother that he no longer fit in.

“Everyone is moving on,” he said. “Look at me. I’m not.”

Among marines and soldiers recently returned from Iraq — including men like Billy Huether who helped search for him — Mr. Hall’s combat horrors rang true. His failure to readjust, in a society that often seems more concerned with Britney than bombs, also made him a brother to Vietnam veterans here, like Charlie Shaughnessy, who camped out for several nights looking for Mr. Hall.

And in the struggle of Mr. Hall’s loving Midwestern family, many here and outside of Florida came to recognize a sad and unavoidable truth: that wars do not always end when the warriors come home. On the home front, they last a lifetime.

An Iraq Veteran

Mr. Huether, an outgoing father of two, worked as an Army recruiter from 1998 to 2003 in and around the town where Mr. Hall disappeared. He had served for more than a decade when he received the assignment, and the task became easier after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when scores of Americans signed up to serve their country in the fight against terrorism.

Even then, he said, the war in Iraq seemed inevitable and area residents seemed ready for its consequences.

“The American flags went up, the yellow ribbons came out,” he said. “Instead of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ flags outside their windows, they were flying the American flags.”

One in five of Port Charlotte’s 46,000 mostly middle-class residents is a veteran, above the national average of 12.7 percent, according to the 2000 Census. In neighboring Punta Gorda, a smaller community, the share of veterans is even higher, 29 percent.

But it didn’t take long for support of the Iraq war to fade. When Mr. Huether, 40, came home from a yearlong deployment to South Korea in the spring of 2004, he noticed that the community had become more skeptical, describing Iraqis as squanderers of freedom or outright killers. Even members of his family began to question whether the war could be won.

The change could be seen in the neighborhoods, where tracts of one-story homes opened onto screened-in patios. Some of the American flags had come down. A few weeks after he returned, he noticed signs on light poles and on plywood at construction sites, which appeared to be memorials for someone named Michael.

“Who’s Michael?” he asked his wife.

She had tried to keep it from him. Specialist Michael Woodliff had been one of Mr. Huether’s recruits. Only 22 and engaged to be married, he was killed in Baghdad in April 2004 by a bomb that ripped through his Humvee.

Mr. Huether immediately felt responsible.

“Emotionally, it was devastating,” Mr. Huether said. “He wasn’t just a number. He was a friend and fellow noncommissioned officer. Granted, he died doing what he loved. But I was the one that led him to it.”

The guilt, he said, had not gone away. In fact when he first heard that a local Iraq veteran was missing, he feared a replay of his experience with Specialist Woodliff.

“I was hoping I couldn’t put his name with a face,” he said. “I was just hoping — not again.”

Mr. Huether also knew he could not sit back and watch. Since retiring in August 2006 as a sergeant first class with 20 years of service, he has worked in the veterans’ service office for Charlotte County. He said it was his job and his sense of duty that prompted him to chase leads and scour the area’s waterways for a missing marine.

But he could only handle the water.

Searching the landscape of Florida, with its palm trees and sand, under hot sunny skies, felt too much like a step back in time and place to Iraq, where he served from January 2005 to February 2006. His children are now 16 and 19. He has a wife he loves and a job where he knows he can do some good for veterans. He just could not put his home life at risk.

“It wasn’t a matter of abandonment,” Mr. Huether said. “I was afraid of winding up in the same situation.”

The Vietnam Veterans

Charlie Shaughnessy; Thomas McCarthy, known as Wolf; Jerry Lutz, known as Animal; and Bob Constabile were strangers before Eric Hall disappeared. Each had been a marine. Each had fought in Vietnam and struggled with the consequences.

Animal and Wolf, who still prefer their Vietnam nicknames, struggled with homelessness. Mr. Shaughnessy spent four years living without electricity in the woods of upstate New York before rejoining society. And even then, he said, he overcame the experience only with intense therapy.

“The military has an effect on your life forever,” Mr. Shaughnessy said between cigarettes in his living room this month. “Forever.”

By the time these men reached Florida, they were busy trying to move on. Like so many here, they had come to retire, to check out — and Iraq in particular was not a war they identified with.

The military had changed, becoming an all-volunteer force in 1974. The number of troops dying in Iraq has never reached the heights of Vietnam. And as they watched Iraq war veterans coming home to parades and public sympathy, many older veterans felt no need to link arms with younger colleagues. They watched Iraq like most Americans — as spectators.

But as the conflict dragged on, it became more familiar. When an increasing number of soldiers began coming home with post-traumatic stress, veterans like Mr. Shaughnessy and Mr. Constabile started to pay closer attention.

Mr. Hall’s story capped their gradual awakening. He brought them together, they said, and inspired them to get involved.

“This is the first time I’ve had anything to do with veterans’ anything,” said Mr. Constabile, a retired painter from Kenosha, Wis., who moved to Florida seven years ago. “Now I want to know more.”

During the search, he discovered that one of his grandsons had enlisted in the Army. Iraq had come a little closer. Mr. Hall’s story and the search became a lesson he passed on.

“I want my grandkids to know life isn’t all fun and games,” he said.

Wolf and Mr. Shaughnessy in particular developed a tight and unexpected friendship. Comparing their experiences of war and its aftermath and joking about their ages (59 and 60, respectively), they often searched together in Wolf’s silver Dodge pickup or on four-wheelers.

When a tip came in about a young man with a limp, who sat on a bench next to an old woman, smelling as if he had not showered, they both “dressed homeless,” as they put it — donning old clothes and sleeping in the homeless camps that dot the undeveloped land here behind cookie-cutter homes and fast-food restaurants.

They tried to stay positive even after Mr. Hall didn’t turn up in the camps — or anywhere else. Four weeks into the search, he still hadn’t materialized.

Mr. Shaughnessy — a squat, wide-chested, quiet soul with a Purple Heart hanging in his living room — kept worrying that they had missed something. He wondered, Why hadn’t Eric used his A.T.M. card? Where could he have gone without his motorcycle?

With his new wife at home, Mr. Shaughnessy returned several times to the field by Sulstone Road near where the police found Mr. Hall’s blue Yamaha R1 racing bike on Feb. 3, the day he disappeared. It was an area of palm trees, low brush and sandy trails not unlike the Euphrates River valley that Mr. Hall got to know during his time in Falluja — the kind of place Billy Huether sought to avoid.

On the night of March 6, Mr. Shaughnessy noticed something new — a scent coming from a metal drainage pipe three feet in diameter. The next morning, he crawled in, going 25 yards before the darkness and dirt forced him to squeeze back out.

A day later, he resubmerged with a combat knife and a flashlight, pushing forward on his belly for 60 long yards. He blocked out the smell, the mud, the maggots too, and desperately hoped to discover only a dead animal.

But once he reached the source, he saw what he feared — a skull and human jaw.

“I didn’t say anything,” he said, recounting what happened during an interview near the pipe. “I didn’t want them to panic.”

When he emerged, Mrs. Hall was there.

She asked, Is it Eric?

They locked eyes. Deep down, they already knew.

The Halls

When Eric Hall’s parents talk about him before Iraq, two elements stand out: his tenaciousness and his love of the Marine Corps.

He was the skinny 12-year-old who played catcher on baseball teams with teenagers because he could always hold onto the ball when a runner slammed into home. And in the Marines, his family said he found his niche — a society where everyone was equal, without ranks on their combat uniforms.

A tour in Afghanistan from March to September 2004 introduced Mr. Hall to war. He went to Iraq next and on June 14, 2005, during a foot patrol in Anbar Province, an improvised explosive device blew up a few feet from him, changing his life forever. His parents described a brutal recovery at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., with as many as 20 operations. And when he returned home to Jeffersonville, Ind., a few months later, it was clear that his mind was wounded too.

“He didn’t really sleep,” said his mother, Becky Hall. “He woke up screaming. He kept a pistol under his pillow because he was afraid.”

After being “medically retired” in June 2006, he found himself at home without a job and with friends who were especially interested in his pain medication. He came to Florida to live with a relative, seeking a fresh start. He disappeared only a few weeks after he arrived.

Mrs. Hall, 52, a physical therapist’s assistant, immediately moved into her sister’s home to manage the search.

The community response at times overwhelmed her with emotion.

Mrs. Hall found particular comfort in the Vietnam veterans, with their stories of struggle, of war and of its aftermath. Together, they even managed to laugh, in mud on four-wheelers or when she started ad-libbing her shouts to her son while searching, scolding him as if he were still a toddler.

“We were just so exhausted, it was ‘Come out, come out wherever you are,’ ” she said. “I just wanted to wring his little neck.”

Her toughness impressed the veterans. They called her “our commander.” She in turn cherished their dedication, which she suspected brought costs especially for Mr. Shaughnessy, who later said he was suffering again with nightmares of war.

Mr. Hall’s parents said they wished their son could have learned from such men. “If he got to talk to people like these, who experienced boots on the ground, it would have been a totally different story,” said his father, Kevin Hall.

Mr. Hall, 51, a maintenance supervisor at a local courthouse, stayed home during the search in case Eric Hall appeared. He arrived in Florida only after his son’s body had been identified. And with him came waves of grief.

On a hot morning in mid-March, he and his son Justin, 27, who flew from his Navy post in Virginia, visited for the first time the site where Eric Hall had died. They were accompanied by Mrs. Hall, Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Shaughnessy, who explained what he and the authorities thought had happened.

“I think Eric came here to collect his thoughts and smoked a cigarette, and that started a fire,” Mr. Shaughnessy said. “He climbed into the pipe for cover.”

Eric Hall’s father said later that his mind landed on the consequences of so much time underground. “After five, six weeks,” he said, “his body was pretty decomposed.”

He began to cry. “He loved that marine uniform. The first thought that hit me” — his shoulders shook with tears — “was that he wouldn’t be able to wear it.”

A few hundred yards away, Mrs. Hall and Wolf were hugging. He and Mr. Shaughnessy had volunteered to bring Eric Hall’s ashes to Indiana for the funeral.

“We’re coming up,” Wolf said.

Mrs. Hall looked up at him. “Oh, God love you,” she said.

In her hand, she held a flier with her son’s picture, smiling with his dog. She gently rubbed her fingers over the photograph.

“He’s with God and the other guys in the platoon,” she said. “You’re O.K. now Eric. It didn’t have to be so hard.”

Then, putting on her large, dark sunglasses, she walked over to her last living son, comforting him as he crumpled in tears on the trunk of a sedan.

Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting.


5) As Jobs Vanish and Prices Rise, Food Stamp Use Nears Record
March 31, 2008

Driven by a painful mix of layoffs and rising food and fuel prices, the number of Americans receiving food stamps is projected to reach 28 million in the coming year, the highest level since the aid program began in the 1960s.

The number of recipients, who must have near-poverty incomes to qualify for benefits averaging $100 a month per family member, has fluctuated over the years along with economic conditions, eligibility rules, enlistment drives and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which led to a spike in the South.

But recent rises in many states appear to be resulting mainly from the economic slowdown, officials and experts say, as well as inflation in prices of basic goods that leave more families feeling pinched. Citing expected growth in unemployment, the Congressional Budget Office this month projected a continued increase in the monthly number of recipients in the next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1 — to 28 million, up from 27.8 million in 2008, and 26.5 million in 2007.

The percentage of Americans receiving food stamps was higher after a recession in the 1990s, but actual numbers are expected to be higher this year.

Federal benefit costs are projected to rise to $36 billion in the 2009 fiscal year from $34 billion this year.

“People sign up for food stamps when they lose their jobs, or their wages go down because their hours are cut,” said Stacy Dean, director of food stamp policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, who noted that 14 states saw their rolls reach record numbers by last December.

One example is Michigan, where one in eight residents now receives food stamps. “Our caseload has more than doubled since 2000, and we’re at an all-time record level,” said Maureen Sorbet, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Human Services.

The climb in food stamp recipients there has been relentless, through economic upturns and downturns, reflecting a steady loss of industrial jobs that has pushed recipient levels to new highs in Ohio and Illinois as well.

“We’ve had poverty here for a good while,” Ms. Sorbet said. Contributing to the rise, she added, Michigan, like many other states, has also worked to make more low-end workers aware of their eligibility, and a switch from coupons to electronic debit cards has reduced the stigma.

Some states have experienced more recent surges. From December 2006 to December 2007, more than 40 states saw recipient numbers rise, and in several — Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, North Dakota and Rhode Island — the one-year growth was 10 percent or more.

In Rhode Island, the number of recipients climbed by 18 percent over the last two years, to more than 84,000 as of February, or about 8.4 percent of the population. This is the highest total in the last dozen years or more, said Bob McDonough, the state’s administrator of family and adult services, and reflects both a strong enlistment effort and an upward creep in unemployment.

In New York, a program to promote enrollment increased food stamp rolls earlier in the decade, but the current climb in applications appears in part to reflect economic hardship, said Michael Hayes, spokesman for the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The additional 67,000 clients added from July 2007 to January of this year brought total recipients to 1.86 million, about one in 10 New Yorkers.

Nutrition and poverty experts praise food stamps as a vital safety net that helped eliminate the severe malnutrition seen in the country as recently as the 1960s. But they also express concern about what they called the gradual erosion of their value.

Food stamps are an entitlement program, with eligibility guidelines set by Congress and the federal government paying for benefits while states pay most administrative costs.

Eligibility is determined by a complex formula, but basically recipients must have few assets and incomes below 130 percent of the poverty line, or less than $27,560 for a family of four.

As a share of the national population, food stamp use was highest in 1994, after several years of poor economic growth, with an average of 27.5 million recipients per month from a lower total of residents. The numbers plummeted in the late 1990s as the economy grew and legal immigrants and certain others were excluded.

But access by legal immigrants has been partly restored and, in the current decade, the federal and state governments have used advertising and other measures to inform people of their eligibility and have often simplified application procedures.

Because they spend a higher share of their incomes on basic needs like food and fuel, low-income Americans have been hit hard by soaring gasoline and heating costs and jumps in the prices of staples like milk, eggs and bread.

At the same time, average family incomes among the bottom fifth of the population have been stagnant or have declined in recent years at levels around $15,500, said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

The benefit levels, which can amount to many hundreds of dollars for families with several children, are adjusted each June according to the price of a bare-bones “thrifty food plan,” as calculated by the Department of Agriculture. Because food prices have risen by about 5 percent this year, benefit levels will rise similarly in June — months after the increase in costs for consumers.

Advocates worry more about the small but steady decline in real benefits since 1996, when the “standard deduction” for living costs, which is subtracted from family income to determine eligibility and benefit levels, was frozen. If that deduction had continued to rise with inflation, the average mother with two children would be receiving an additional $37 a month, according to the private Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Both houses of Congress have passed bills that would index the deduction to the cost of living, but the measures are part of broader agriculture bills that appear unlikely to pass this year because of disagreements with the White House over farm policy.

Another important federal nutrition program known as WIC, for women, infants and children, is struggling with rising prices of milk and cheese, and growing enrollment.

The program, for households with incomes no higher than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, provides healthy food and nutrition counseling to 8.5 million pregnant women, and children through the age of 4. WIC is not an entitlement like food stamps, and for the fiscal year starting in October, Congress may have to approve a large increase over its current budget of $6 billion if states are to avoid waiting lists for needy mothers and babies.


6) Parts Strike Forces G.M. to Close Sedan Plant
March 31, 2008

DETROIT (AP) — The General Motors Corporation is closing a sedan plant in the Detroit area as a strike at supplier American Axle continues.

G.M. said Monday that the shutdown of the Hamtramck assembly plant would affect 1,849 hourly workers. It is the 29th plant to be fully or partially shut down because of the monthlong strike by the United Auto Workers.

The plant makes the Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne sedans. It will be the first car plant to be shut by the strike, which primarily has affected plants that make trucks and sport utility vehicles.

The closure of the Hamtramck plant is a sign the strike is having a deeper impact on G.M.’s operations. As of Monday, G.M. has idled just more than 39,000 workers because of the strike.

On Sunday, American Axle advertised in Sunday newspapers for potential replacement workers.

An ad published in the classified section of The Oakland Press of Pontiac read in part: “Employment offered to applicants responding to this advertisement will be to fill anticipated attrition replacement openings after negotiations or in place of employees involved in this strike.”

The U.A.W. responded by calling for a mass picket Monday outside the auto supplier’s Detroit headquarters.

Besides Detroit, the company ran similar ads in newspapers near other American Axle facilities in Three Rivers and the Buffalo area, a company spokeswoman Renee Rogers said.

“We expect that once an agreement is reached with the U.A.W. a significant number of associates will participate in buyouts and early retirements. We are currently preparing a pool of potential new associates,” she said.

About 3,600 UAW workers at five American Axle plants in Michigan and New York walked off their jobs Feb. 26 in a dispute over wages and benefits.

Although there have been discussions between top bargainers, full negotiating teams for both sides have not met since March 10.


7) A Nervous Wall St. Seems Unsure What’s Next
March 31, 2008

Most everyone on Wall Street, and on Main Street, wants to know when will the financial crisis end. So far, despite the government’s efforts, the markets are whispering an answer that no one wants to hear.

Even as the secretary of the Treasury, Henry M. Paulson Jr., prepares to lay out a blueprint on Monday to overhaul financial regulation and prevent future crises, signs of stress are evident deep inside the financial markets.

Stock prices are gyrating. The dollar hovers near low points against leading currencies. The credit markets remain unsettled. And traders keep buzzing that Bear Stearns, which was saved from the prospect of a bankruptcy filing through a takeover backed by the Federal Reserve, may not be the last Wall Street bank to run into trouble.

But the proposals from the Treasury to change financial regulation, which critics say are long overdue and do not go far enough, are aimed at the future and do not address the current turmoil.

The debate in Washington over what to do is entering a new phase, with more calls for broad help for homeowners to help prevent what some fear could be a severe recession.

On Wall Street, it has been a grim first quarter. And in the next few weeks, big banking companies like Citigroup are expected to write down the already shrunken value of mortgage-linked investments further, sapping quarterly profit.

The effort to rescue Bear Stearns has overshadowed distress in other corners of the financial industries.

Last week, for example, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures bank deposits, said that a mortgage lender, Fremont Investment and Loan, had too little capital, and it ordered the company to recapitalize within two months. Also, the CIT Group, a lender to businesses, was forced to draw on $7.3 billion of emergency credit and said it would try to sell some assets to raise cash.

And several large investment funds, including one affiliated with the Carlyle Group, a prominent buyout firm, have had large losses recently and risk collapse.

Everyday stock market investors are having a tough time, too. The average diversified stock mutual fund has fallen 10.3 percent so far this year — the worst quarterly showing in five years, according to analysts at Morningstar in Chicago. For some people, such reduced assets seem to sting even more as they confront the deepening housing slump.

Market watchers hope that the Fed will inject enough cash to instill much-needed confidence. And there are signs that some things are improving.

Since the Fed stepped in to keep Bear Stearns from collapsing two weeks ago, it has been lending money directly to big investment houses in an effort to calm the jittery markets. It is also trying to shore up wobbly mortgage securities by letting Wall Street banks use those instruments as collateral to buy Treasury debt.

But what investors fear is that financial companies’ pain will not end with the troubled mortgages, which by some estimates have already resulted in more than $200 billion of losses. Car loans, home equity loans, credit card debt, small business loans — any of that might run into trouble as the economy stalls.

“A year ago, we were told the problems were in subprime, ” said David Rosenberg, chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch, “and what is becoming increasingly apparent is that the participation in the credit bubble was far greater than just that.”

So while the Fed is easing credit, the markets are reluctant to follow suit. Banks are hoarding cash and are wary about lending money, even to one another. Part of the banks’ unwillingness to lend reflects their own weakened condition, analysts say.

As a result, mortgage rates remain higher than they might be, at around 5.9 percent for a 30-year loan. The rate at which banks borrow money from other banks in the London market, a widely used reference rate for short-term loans, rose to 4.47 percent on Friday, its highest level since December.

Bond investors, the linchpins of the credit markets, are on edge, too. Many want to buy only the safest debt. Investors are demanding a premium of about 1.8 percentage points over United States Treasuries on mortgage bonds guaranteed by Fannie Mae, the giant mortgage business.

While that spread — a measure of the risk that investors perceive in the Fannie Mae bonds — has narrowed since early in the month, it is up sharply from a year ago.

“Banks’ appetite for risk has totally disappeared,” said Peter Gumbel, a mortgage broker in Greenwich, Conn. “Regardless of how much the Fed lowers rates, banks just can’t price in enough of a premium to want to take a risk on some loans.”

Borrowers with less than stellar credit scores or those trying to finance expensive houses are still struggling to get mortgages, Mr. Gumbel added.

The Fed has reduced the benchmark short-term interest rate seven times since September, lowering it by a total of three percentage points, to 2.25 percent, and has made tens of billions of dollars available to Wall Street banks at low rates.

Yet that has not been enough to spur trading in arcane yet large arenas like collateralized debt obligations, which are pools of loans, and auction-rate securities, which are debt obligations typically issued by municipalities and nonprofit institutions on which the rates are set at regular auctions.

Nor have the Fed’s moves squashed market rumors that another Wall Street firm, Lehman Brothers, could face the kind of bank run that toppled Bear Stearns.

On Thursday, Lehman felt compelled to issue a statement calling the rumors “totally unfounded.” It blamed individuals or funds that had sold its stock short, which would result in a profit if the stock fell.

At least one Wall Street analyst argued that fears about Lehman running out of cash were overblown, pointing to the firm’s war chest of $34 billion and access to funds from the Fed.

The analyst, Prashant A. Bhatia of Citigroup, said in a research report Friday, “It’s tough to have a liquidity-driven meltdown when you’re being backed by government entities that have the ability to print money.”


8) Fresh Ideas for a Tired Crusade
Contributing Columnist
April 1, 2008


The travel writer and public television host, Rick Steves, is a certain kind of innocent abroad — benignly suburban to the core, with a bit of a paunch and the ever-quizzical look of someone who would try raw squid for breakfast and not complain about it.

At 52, he has spent a third of his adult life living out of a suitcase, ever in search of that bargain room with a view, encouraging his fellow Americans to become “temporary locals.” His influence is vast and one of the reasons our citizens aren’t more hated abroad in Bush’s final days.

I was having lunch once in Vernazza, in the Italian Cinque Terre, watching waves of people pour into the tiny village to look for their serendipitous Stevesian encounter while clutching his guidebook. A sudden outburst came from my 7-year-old son: “Rick Steves has got to be stopped!”

Steves, who lives just north of Seattle, is packing his wrinkle-free clothes for his latest expedition to Europe. One can only hope customs will let him back in, for Steves has become a most unlikely voice on behalf of ending the tragedy of the drug war.

He looks at the 800,000 Americans arrested every year on marijuana charges and wonders why the waste of time, money and lives. Year after year, nothing changes, except the faces of those in jail. He thinks marijuana should be decriminalized, and that drug use in general should be treated primarily as a health issue — as the Canadians, the British, the Swiss and others do.

His views are not novel. But it’s been fascinating to watch the reaction since Steves started speaking out on this. Sponsors of his television shows have hardly blinked. Cops and conservatives have told him how much they agree with him. And, less than a month ago, the Luther Institute gave Steves its annual Wittenberg Award, recognizing “outstanding service to church and society.” Steves is an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

If it takes a churchgoing guidebook writer who spent his college years as a member of the marching band to call for an end to a tired war, so be it. The cheerleaders and architects of harsh drug laws — from Rush Limbaugh, who promised to take random drugs tests after admitting his addiction to pain pills, to the former drug czar Bill Bennett, who had a multimillion-dollar gambling habit — have been exposed as moral frauds.

Two of the major presidential candidates are in a unique position to pivot away from the status quo.

It’s been largely forgotten, but Cindy McCain, the wife of the presumptive Republican nominee, was once so hooked on the opioid painkillers Percocet and Vicodin that she resorted to stealing from a medical charity she ran.

And Barack Obama in his 1995 memoir, told of youthful alcohol and pot use, “maybe even a little blow when I could afford it.” He wrote this cautionary note: “Junkie. Pothead. That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man.”

He is lucky, a man told him on the campaign trail not long ago, that he didn’t end up in jail — a ruined life, one of the 2.3 million Americans locked up in the world’s largest prison system.

Thus far, John McCain has said little about changing the approach to possession-only drug crimes. Obama, asked about it in January, said: “I’m not interested in legalizing drugs. What I am interested in is putting more of an emphasis on the public health approach to drugs and less on incarceration.”

When a prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton raised the issue of Obama’s experimentation as a potential Swift-boat issue, it drew more criticism of the accuser than the candidate.

That doesn’t surprise me. I was in Fresno, Calif., once with cops patrolling the mean streets of the city in armored personnel carriers — the drug war in its ultimate manifestation. These officers were almost uniformly against the folly of the battles they fought every night.

Every society has its drug addicts, dating to Babylon, if not earlier. Every American knows someone, or has a family member, with a problem. President Bush used to drink too much, and was cited for driving under the influence. But instead of using his life experience for change, he has done nothing but carry around the self-righteous tedium of the reformed drunk.

We are left, then, with people like Rick Steves to renew the republic with common sense brought home from other shores. He’s taken to heart these words: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” They come from an earlier innocent abroad, Mark Twain.

Timothy Egan, a contributing columnist for The Times, writes Outposts, a column at nytimes.com. He is filling in for Bob Herbert, who is off today.


9) Tenants Gain Right to Sue Landlords for Harassment
By Manny Fernandez
March 13, 2008, 4:14 pm

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed a bill into law this afternoon giving tenants the right for the first time to sue their landlords in Housing Court for making threats against them, disrupting essential services and using other tactics that qualify as harassment to force them out of their apartments.

The City Council approved the new law last month with overwhelming support from tenant groups, housing advocates and legal aid lawyers who said landlord harassment of tenants had increased in recent years.

Previously, the city’s housing maintenance code had not classified harassment as a violation, so tenants were restricted in taking their landlords to Housing Court for problems with services or the physical condition of units. The law signed today makes harassment a housing code violation and entitles a judge to impose civil penalties for harassment from $1,000 to $5,000. It takes effect immediately.

“While we believe that the vast majority of landlords throughout the city are responsible and do not engage in tenant harassment, we cannot turn our backs on the bad actors who participate in such behavior,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a bill signing ceremony at City Hall.

Harassment is defined in the new law as the use of force or threats, repeated interruptions of essential services, the frequent filing of baseless court proceedings and other acts that “substantially interfere with or disturb the comfort, repose, peace or quiet” of any unit’s lawful occupant, the law states.

The law was opposed by the Rent Stabilization Association, a trade group representing 25,000 New York City property owners and managers.

Mitchell Posilkin, the association’s general counsel, disputed claims by the law’s supporters that tenant harassment was a widespread problem and said there already existed at least 10 laws that addressed tenant harassment, including the city’s Illegal Eviction Law, which dates to the early 1980s and makes it a misdemeanor for a property owner to use force or intimidation to evict a tenant.

“In light of all of the existing remedies that are available to tenants and in light of the failure of any of the bill’s supporters to document or establish any patterns of harassment in the City of New York or any systematic harassment, it leads one to question what the motives behind this legislation really are,” Mr. Posilkin said.

Tenant leaders, housing activists and City Council members, including the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, gathered on the steps of City Hall shortly before the mayor signed the bill to celebrate what they described as a much-needed new layer of protections for New Yorkers living in the city’s two million renter-occupied units.

“What we are doing today is admitting, from government, that we know this type of tenant harassment happens, and we’re sick and tired of tenants not having the right to go to court and prosecute their landlords when they engage in this behavior,” Ms. Quinn, a former housing organizer, told supporters at the rally.


10) City Council Approves Fee to Drive Below 60th
April 1, 2008

The controversial proposal to charge drivers in the busiest parts of Manhattan took a major step forward on Monday, with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Speaker Christine C. Quinn wrenching approval from the City Council by an unusually slim margin.

Under intense pressure from the mayor, Ms. Quinn and their allies that continued almost until the voting began, council members approved the plan to charge most drivers $8 to enter a zone below 60th Street by a vote of 30 to 20, with no abstentions and one absence.

At a news conference after the vote, where Mr. Bloomberg made a rare appearance on the speaker’s side of City Hall, officials sought to play down the narrowness of their hard-won victory, among the closest of this administration in a body that typically votes in near unanimity.

Approving the proposal, Ms. Quinn said, would send a message to the Legislature that the “people who were elected to represent the New Yorkers who live in our five boroughs are sick and tired of our streets being clogged with traffic, we’re sick and tired of the children who live in our city literally having to fight to be able to breathe, and that we see congestion pricing as a solution to this problem.”

But the ultimate fate of the proposal now resides in Albany, where the intentions of lawmakers whose approval is needed remained unclear. Gov. David A. Paterson and the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, have expressed their support. But Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has derailed Mr. Bloomberg’s ambitions in the past, remained noncommittal, telling members of the Democratic conference on Sunday night that he would not take the issue up until the state budget was completed.

If the Assembly waits to act until after the budget, it could threaten the bill’s chances in the Senate, because it would come before the Legislature as a stand-alone item, making approval more elusive. Several council members complained as they voted that the mayor had reneged on a promise that they would not be asked to take up the measure until the State Legislature had agreed to support the proposal.

But other council members took the vote as a sign that Mr. Silver would ultimately back the plan, since Ms. Quinn had said privately that she would not call for a vote until she had an indication that it would gain approval from the state.

But Mr. Silver said that he had made no such assurance.

“I told her it’s not before us until they vote on it,” he said. “And we will deal with the issue after we pass a budget.”

Speaking to reporters with Ms. Quinn, Mr. Bloomberg seemed particularly defensive about Mr. Silver. Asked if they had any indication that leaders in Albany would approve the proposal, Ms. Quinn said that she had received calls from Mr. Paterson and Mr. Bruno urging that the Council “move as quickly as possible and do what we did today, so I thought that was a very good sign.”

In response to a question about Mr. Silver, though, Mr. Bloomberg approached the lectern, sidestepped the question and then cut off the line of inquiry, saying they could not speak for Albany leaders.

Technically, the Council approved a measure known as a home rule message, which is a request for the State Legislature to pass the plan as outlined in a bill introduced into the Senate. The Legislature has until April 7 to approve the program or risk losing roughly $350 million in federal money to help offset the costs of starting the plan. Mr. Bloomberg has said that much of that money would go toward increasing bus service in underserved areas.

Although the administration and the Council’s leadership were able to gain support with promises of programs, projects and political aid in upcoming campaigns — as well as threats of taking those things away — opposition remained strong. Several council members argued that it was unfair to essentially tax residents to move around their own city, that even after they voted to support the proposal, the Legislature could approve a different version, and that revenues would not necessarily go toward the promised transit improvements.

“This plan, while wrapped up in three incredibly important and laudable goals,” including cleaning the air, reducing traffic and paying for mass transit, said Lewis A. Fidler, a Brooklyn councilman who strongly opposed the plan, “is designed to deter people from coming into a part of the city if they can’t afford it.”

He added: “What’s next? We’re going to charge a user fee to come into Central Park because it’s crowded?”

Jeremy W. Peters contributed reporting.


11) Accusations of Delays in Releasing Drug Results
April 1, 2008

CHICAGO — The lead outside investigator on a crucial trial of two widely used heart drugs said in an e-mail message last July that Merck and Schering-Plough, the companies that make the drugs, were deliberately delaying the release of the trial results “to hide something.”

The companies did not release the preliminary results of the trial, called Enhance, until January, almost two years after the trial was finished. When they were finally released, the trial’s results showed that the drugs, Vytorin and Zetia, did not work to reduce plaque in arteries. The results led a panel of cardiologists to recommend on Sunday that the drugs be used only as a last resort.

The new information was contained in e-mail messages to executives at Schering-Plough that were released Monday by Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. The committee has been investigating the delay in the release of the Enhance trial results.

It is likely to inflame the controversy over the way that Merck and Schering-Plough handled the Enhance trial, as well as their heavy promotion of Vytorin and Zetia. The drugs are used to lower cholesterol and are among the most widely prescribed medicines in the United States, with sales of $5 billion last year. Shares of Merck and Schering plunged on Monday.

The Enhance investigator, Dr. John J. P. Kastelein, also complained last July that Merck and Schering had not consulted him on the reasons for the delay and threatened to resign as the main study investigator.

A spokeswoman for Schering-Plough said the messages had been presented out of context and that Dr. Kastelein’s complaints had been resolved months ago.

Zetia lowers cholesterol by blocking its absorption in the intestine. Vytorin combines Zetia with simvastatin, another cholesterol-lowering drug sold under the brand name Zocor.

Dr. Kastelein is a Dutch cardiologist and scientist whom Merck and Schering hired to conduct the Enhance trial, which consisted of images of the arteries of 720 patients taking either Vytorin — the combination of Zetia and Zocor — or Zocor alone. Because Vytorin lowers cholesterol more than Zocor alone, the companies expected that the trial would show that patients who took Vytorin had less growth of plaque in their arteries than those who took Zocor. Arterial plaque is closely correlated with heart attack and strokes.

The trial ended in April 2006, and its results were initially expected in late 2006 or early 2007. The companies repeatedly delayed releasing the results of the trial, however, saying publicly that many of the images of the arteries were unclear and might need to be re-examined.

By July 2007, Dr. Kastelein was privately furious with the companies for the delays, his messages show. “Is it correct that SP has decided not to present at AHA?” he said July 6 in an e-mail message to Dr. Rick Veltri, a vice president at the Schering-Plough Research Institute, referring to the American Heart Association conference in November.

“If this is the case, our collaboration is over,” he wrote, adding, “This starts smelling like extending the publication for no other [than] political reasons and I cannot live with that.”

The next day, according to the text of the messages released by Senator Grassley, Dr. Kastelein complained that the companies seemed to be trying to slow the release of the results by including data that was not relevant and would take more time to compile. By doing so, he wrote, “you will be seen as a company that tries to hide something and I will be perceived as being in bed with you!”

Dr. Kastelein did not respond to requests for comment. Rosemarie Yancosek, a spokeswoman for Schering, said, “The e-mails selectively excerpted in the letter concern an issue that Merck-Schering-Plough and — we believe, also Dr. Kastelein — consider long resolved.”

Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale, said Dr. Kastelein’s messages raised new concerns over the nearly two-year delay in the release of the Enhance results.

“What raises concerns here is the possibility that the delay was being imposed by the companies against the wishes of the principal investigator, who should be the leader of the study,” Dr. Krumholz said. “I hope that there was a good scientific explanation, endorsed by a steering committee of credible scientists at the time of the decision to delay, which explains why the public and the profession had to wait so long.”

On Sunday, Dr. Krumholz and three other cardiologists told an audience of more than 5,000 people at the annual American College of Cardiology scientific convention that Vytorin and Zetia should not be used except as a last resort.

The two major cardiology associations seconded those recommendations on Monday, leading to a plunge in shares of Merck and Schering. Merck fell $6.56, or 15 percent, to $37.95. Schering, which is smaller and even more dependent on profits from Zetia and Vytorin, fell $5.06, or 26 percent, to $14.41.

Prescriptions for the medicines have already dipped about 15 percent since January, when preliminary results from the Enhance trial were first disclosed. Still, the drugs are widely used, with about three million prescriptions written each month in the United States alone.

LDL cholesterol, the harmful kind, is known as a risk factor for heart disease, and so doctors have generally assumed that lowering LDL cholesterol by any means would reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

But proving that a drug actually cuts those risks requires an expensive, multiyear clinical trial enrolling 10,000 or more patients. Those studies, called outcomes trials, have been conducted for statins, and they have proved that patients taking those drugs do have a reduced risk of heart disease. No such outcomes trials exist for Vytorin and Zetia.

In 2006, four years after Zetia reached the market, Merck and Schering began enrolling patients in their own outcomes study, which compares people taking Vytorin with those taking Zocor alone. But the results of the trial are not likely to be available until 2012, or possibly later.


12) Parts Maker Talks of Strikebreakers and Labor Abroad
April 1, 2008

DETROIT — American Axle and Manufacturing, the auto parts maker, is trying to force an end to the industry’s longest strike in a decade by calling back laid-off employees, advertising for replacement workers and threatening to move production out of the United States.

The company is feeling increasing pressure from its largest customer, General Motors, to end the monthlong strike. G.M. temporarily closed its Detroit sedan plant on Monday and is expected to close its sedan plant in Lordstown, Ohio, later this week, when it will run out of some parts.

Until now, the strike had affected only the production of slower-selling pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, but analysts say that halting the production of cars like the compact Chevrolet Cobalt, which is built in Lordstown, could quickly hurt G.M. sales.

A total of 30 G.M. factories, including a transmission plant in Ohio that also closed Monday, have been fully or partly shut down, along with dozens of factories run by other G.M. parts suppliers, since 3,650 members of the United Automobile Workers union at American Axle walked out on Feb. 26.

Formal negotiations broke off, and officials said no new talks had been scheduled. The strike began when the U.A.W. refused to go along with American Axle’s plan to cut wages by as much as half, citing a need to remain competitive with lower-cost rivals like the Dana Corporation.

The union, in turn, says that a profitable company should not be reducing its workers’ pay. (American Axle earned $37 million in 2007.)

“If a company making profits can break the union, then any company can,” said Adrian King, the president of U.A.W. Local 235, which represents American Axle workers in Detroit. “We’re willing to be out here one day longer than the company to get a fair and equitable contract.”

On Monday morning, about 400 people who had recently been laid off by American Axle joined picket lines in Michigan and New York after the company recalled them over the weekend. The workers were given the choice of either returning to their jobs or risk losing their unemployment benefits, but there was no indication that anyone had crossed the picket lines.

Striking workers were incensed on Monday after American Axle ran help-wanted ads in newspapers near its factories in Detroit and Three Rivers, Mich., and in the Buffalo, N.Y., area. The ads describe the jobs as “anticipated attrition replacement openings after negotiations or in place of employees involved in this strike.”

The U.A.W. is assuming that the company intends to bring in nonunion replacements.

A spokeswoman for American Axle, Renee B. Rogers, said the company merely wanted to have new hires ready when current employees leave through a buyout program after the strike is settled. But Ms. Rogers left open the possibility that some striking workers could be replaced “on a temporary basis.”

“The main purpose of this is to get this pool of potential associates when people taking the buyouts and early retirements exit,” she said.

The U.A.W. was also angered last week by a regulatory filing showing that American Axle raised the salary for its chief executive, Richard E. Dauch, by 9.5 percent in 2007, to $10.2 million, and by Mr. Dauch’s statement that he would shift production to plants in Mexico, South America or other regions if the union continued to refuse his demands.

“We have the flexibility to source all of our business to other locations around the world, and we have the right to do so,” he told The Detroit Free Press. “If we cannot compete for new contracts in the U.S., there will be no work in the original plants.”

Ms. Rogers said Monday that Mr. Dauch did not want to take part in additional interviews.

Workers said threats of a closing of their plants did not change their opinion of the company’s proposed wage scale.

“If he wants to take it to Mexico, let him,” said Nate Mitchell, 41, a machine operator at the Detroit plant. “I’m not working for nothing.”

David Gregory, a professor of labor law at St. John’s University School of Law in New York, said the U.A.W.’s hard line against American Axle had as much to do with its overall future as a union as it did with workers at that particular company.

The U.A.W.’s membership fell below 500,000 in 2007, the lowest since World War II, according to a filing by the union on Friday. In the 1970s, the U.A.W. reported a membership of 1.5 million. But employment at the automakers and their suppliers has since fallen steadily, particularly in the last few years as the Detroit carmakers began a succession of sweeping corporate cutbacks.

“The U.A.W. is sending a signal that as a union they are still formidable, and can’t be underestimated,” Mr. Gregory said “It’s critically important that they send that signal, or they really could be headed for oblivion.”


13) Police arrest anti-war protester, 80, at mall
March 30, 2008

An 80-year-old church deacon was removed from the Smith Haven Mall yesterday in a wheelchair and arrested by police for refusing to remove a T-shirt protesting the Iraq War.

Police said that Don Zirkel, of Bethpage, was disturbing shoppers at the Lake Grove mall with his T-shirt, which had what they described as "graphic anti-war images." Zirkel, a deacon at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Wyandanch, said his shirt had the death tolls of American military personnel and Iraqis - 4,000 and 1 million - and the words "Dead" and "Enough." The shirt also has three blotches resembling blood splatters.

Police said in a release last night that Zirkel was handing out anti-war pamphlets to mallgoers and that mall security told him to stop and turn his shirt inside out. Zirkel refused to turn his shirt inside out and wouldn't leave, police said. Security placed him on "civilian arrest" and called police. When police arrived, Zirkel passively resisted attempts to bring him to a police car, the release said.

But Zirkel said he was sitting in the food court drinking coffee with his wife Marie, 77, and several others when police and mall security officers approached and demanded they remove their anti-war T-shirts.

The others complied, but Zirkel said he refused, and when he wouldn't stand up to be removed and arrested, authorities brought over a wheelchair. "They forcibly picked me up and put me in the wheelchair," said Zirkel, a deacon at one of the poorest Catholic parishes on Long Island, where a devastating fire recently destroyed the rectory and storage areas.

Zirkel was charged with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest. He was released on bail. A spokeswoman for mall owner Simon Property Group did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Generally speaking, a mall has the right to control what happens on its property, said John McEntee, a Uniondale commercial litigation lawyer.

Activists with dueling opinions had gathered to support and oppose America's five-year campaign.

As Zirkel was being wheeled to the police car, the crowd chanted "We shall not be moved!" Moments later, they moved; police and mall security had ordered them off the property. Many joined a larger anti-war crowd assembled by the mall's entrance, off mall property, on Veterans Memorial Highway.

They were complemented nearby by protesters saying the Iraq war is vital for security.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.




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. google.com/ videoplay? docid=-905047436 2583451279
http://www.moneyasd ebt.net/




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: http://web.mac.com/rolandgarret


[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


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, below...bw]


"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 this...bw]


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 (dvasicek@earthlink.net, 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

(scroll down when you get there])

donvasicek.com.Peace Articles at Libraryofpeace.org">

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