Tuesday, April 08, 2008

BAUAW NEWSLETTER - TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2008

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Community Meeting to Save St. Lukes Hospital!
Please Attend this meeting!!!
And have your voice heard
ST. LUKE'S COMMUNITY MEETING FOR DISTRICT 11
Thursday, April 10, 6:30 - 8 pm
Corpus Christi Church Hall, Alemany at Santa Rosa

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Film: "La Revolucion Communicativa: the rise of community radio and tv in Venezuela"

Sunday, April 13, 2008, 7 pm

Brava Theater
2781 24th Street
San Francisco, CA

$5 suggested donation ($3 students & seniors) no one turned away for lack of funds.

San Francisco premiere of documentary hosted by filmmakers Greg Miller and Sean Kriletich. Film explores how Venezuelans are taking to the airwaves to reclaim their culture, communities and democracy from corporate media. www.unearthproductions.com Showing followed by discussion led by filmmakers.

Showing celebrates the defeat of a military coup on April 11, 2002, and the restoration of the Venezuelan Constitution and President Hugo Chavez. Potluck will follow. Benefit for the Emergency Response Network sponsored by the Venezuelan Solidarity Network and Hands Off Venezuela! Information will be provided on a Symposium to be held in Washington D.C., April 18-20th. www.vensolidarity.net

For info: (510) 465-9914

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Help Save Troy Davis

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

The message:

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your kind consideration."

Messages will be sent to:

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

Telephone: (404) 657-9350
Fax: (404) 651-8502
Clemency_Information@pap.state.ga.us

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

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1265/t/5820/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=23774

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A CALL TO THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT:

* 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

ENDORSE -
http://www.stopforeclosuresandevictions.org/stopforeclosuresendorse.shtml

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

DONATE -
http://www.stopforeclosuresandevictions.org/donate.shtml

DOWNLOAD FLYER -
http://www.stopforeclosuresandevictions.org/april16.pdf

CONTACT US -
http://www.stopforeclosuresandevictions.org/cmnt.shtml

Contact:
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

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DEFEND FREE SPEECH RIGHTS ON THE NATIONAL MALL!

~ Please circulate this urgent update widely ~

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

For those who already signed the Statement in Defense of Free Speech, Please take 30 seconds to let us know if we can publicize your name as a signer along with 15,000 others. If you signed up before, it is crucial that you take the next step by clicking this link.

http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=5CuaxCCJ405-xswGEWYIyw..

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OPPOSE THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S ASSAULT ON FREE SPEECH
Save the National Mall as a place of protest!

The struggle to preserve Free Speech in Washington D.C. has entered a new phase. We are writing to you so that you can help in the next step of this critical struggle. If he gets his way, Bush will leave office having shredded fundamental rights to redress grievances and engage in dissent on the National Mall in the nation's capital. But we can stop this plan.

Because of the participation of you and so many other people around the country, the Bush Administration has been pushed on the defensive. Due to immense public pressure that has been mobilized in the last months the government is now resorting to a smoke and mirror campaign to derail those who are fighting to preserve cherished rights. The people can stop them.

We need you to take action right now:

We are planning on sending the Statement in Defense of Free Speech Rights on the National Mall -- with a list of its thousands of signers -- to the National Park Service and want to further publish the statement. Showing just how many people have already taken action will be an important part of the campaign to defend the National Mall and the First Amendment.

Before we send or publish the statement and signers, we want to confirm with you that we can include you as a signer. We value your privacy. Please take 30 seconds to fill out the form here if you have already signed the statement.

http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=l_L7UqoDP7L0x6bNveV0Iw..

Please take a moment and help this Free Speech movement take the next step. If you signed the Statement in Defense of Free Speech on the National Mall before it is crucial that you take the next step by clicking this link. You can also let us know on this same link if you do not want your name included publicly. Initial signers include, Howard Zinn, Cindy Sheehan, Ed Asner, Malik Rahim, Ramsey Clark, Kathy Kelly, Ron Kovic, Dennis Banks and many others.

http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=ej-8ZNv_oo8dsQWt_QHuzg..

Here is the situation: More than 15,000 letters flooded the National Park Service (NPS) supporting the centrality of free speech rights on the National Mall. The Bush Administration was shocked by the overwhelming response. They thought that they could essentially privatize the National Mall in Washington DC and quietly eliminate essential Free Speech activities. The plan is to go into effect the last month that Bush is in office in January 2009.

This insidious goal hasn't changed one bit but they have now quickly shifted their tactics to blunt the massive new movement that has arisen to defend Free Speech on the National Mall.

Bush's NPS has quickly revamped the web site. The phrase "First Amendment" now appears all over the site. You would think that they are re-organizing the National Mall in order to have more demonstrations, protests and rallies rather than try to banish or limit them. It is all smoke and mirrors. More untruths from the Bush Administration working in partnership with Corporate America.

This is a coordinated effort that we are seeing across the country - the privatization of our public spaces to make them off-limits for us to gather for free speech and assembly. While we have just been victorious in the fight for the Great Lawn of Central Park all eyes are now turning to the National Mall. This is the battle of most significance with repercussions that will be felt coast-to-coast.

Here is how you can help. It will take only a moment of your time but it will make a huge difference.

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

http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=8_RVxCikVreKjAjXZlb49Q..

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

http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=PKScBmTUgEZOZ_cxmhZbAg..

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

http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=6kKl3z44MGnkeYbNr_pA_w..

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

http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=XoId_W834FDPRKYz6DjgfA..

Sincerely,

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

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More links

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

http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=wuIJnWmxqhcuEOXlEiwung..

Washington Post article: The Battle to Remold the Mall
http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=EWmH5pSb477zqvLc8c8WDw..

Alternet article: National Mall Redesign Could Seriously Restrict Free Speech
http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=jdbtCB0LDdDpdEAvIgwtqg..

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

If this message was forwared to you and you'd like to receive future ANSWER updates, click here:
http://www.pephost.org/site/R?i=Iq3nMIRe0R1mNhdk6PQ6_g..

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Inspiring!
Student Walkout Portland Oregon 3/20/08
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBrxBQa8udw
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1uS58RzyhY&feature=related

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The Sand Creek Massacre (6 MINUTES)
http://moviehatch.com/jackson/movie/71

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Hello-
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.

Best-
Lincoln Cushing
www.docspopuli.org

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A CALL TO ACTION MAY 1
ALL OUT ON MAYDAY TO STOP THE WAR!

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

Don't work on May 1st! MAKE MAYDAY A "NO PEACE, NO WORK HOLIDAY"!

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

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

MAKE MAYDAY A "NO PEACE, NO WORK HOLIDAY"!

Port Workers' May Day Organizing Committee
http://maydayilwu.googlepages.com

ILWU MAY DAY PROTEST OF WAR: Big news below!

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
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/03/01/18482849.php

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.

N.Y. METRO APWU RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF LABOR ACTIONS TO STOP THE WAR
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

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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]

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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

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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.

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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
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

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.

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For Immediate Release
UPDATE: SIXTH AL-AWDA CONVENTION TO MARK 60 YEARS OF PALESTINIAN NAKBA
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.

BACKGROUND

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.

INVITATION

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.

MASS RALLY FOR THE RETURN TO PALESTINE

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.

DON'T DELAY! REGISTER TODAY!

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.

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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
http://natassembly.org/thecall/

List of Endorsers (below call):
http://natassembly.org/thecall/

Endorse the conference:
http://natassembly.org/endorse/

THE PURPOSE OF 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
http://natassembly.org/thecall/

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

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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

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"ANGOLA 3"

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?

http://www.colorofchange.org/angola3/?id=1798-532528

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.

http://www.colorofchange.org/angola3/?id=1798-532528

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SAVE RENT CONTROL! NO ON PROP. 98!
http://leftinsf.com/blog/index.php/archives/2492

[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.

"...SECTION 6. EFFECTIVE DATE
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."

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Gaza's lost childhood - 23 March 08
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCjEvet8s7g

Mike Prysner (Part 1 and Part 2 -- please watch both parts. Wow! This is powerful testimony. Thank you, Mike Prysner! ...bw)
Winter Soldier Testimonies
http://answer.pephost.org/site/News2?abbr=ANS_&page=NewsArticle&id=8795#video
or try:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iTdxBECos8

Winter Soldier Mike Prysner testimony, Pt1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i5ZUfpxnV0&feature=related
Winter Soldier Mike Prysner testimony Pt2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iTdxBECos8&feature=related

Tent Cities, USA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnnOOo6tRs8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmeHiFZUWtE&NR=1

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ARTICLES IN FULL:

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1) Executive Pay: A Special Report
A Brighter Spotlight, Yet the Pay Rises
By CLAUDIA H. DEUTSCH
April 6, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/business/06comp.html

2) Wall Street undergoes big mood change
Apr 5, 6:13 AM EDT
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/W/WALL__MAIN?SITE=TXSAE&SECTION=BUSINESS&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

3) Illnesses blamed on spraying in Santa Cruz
Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer
Monday, April 7, 2008
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2008/04/07/MNROVV23E.DTL&o=0

4) Grains Gone Wild
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Op-Ed Columnist
April 7, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/opinion/07krugman.html?hp

5) U.S. and Iraqis Battle Militias to End Attacks
By ERICA GOODE and MICHAEL R. GORDON
April 7, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/world/middleeast/07iraq.html?ref=world

6) Pork Barrel Remains Hidden in U.S. Budget
By RON NIXON
April 7, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/washington/07earmarks.html?ref=us

7) In Remote Eskimo Villages, Pockets of Third-World Problems
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Global Update
April 8, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/health/08glob.html?ref=health

8) Asian Inflation Begins to Sting U.S. Shoppers
By KEITH BRADSHER
April 8, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/business/worldbusiness/08inflate.html?ref=world

9) Haiti: Thousands Protest Food Prices
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
World Briefing | The Americas
April 8, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/world/americas/08briefs-THOUSANDSPRO_BRF.html?ref=world

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1) Executive Pay: A Special Report
A Brighter Spotlight, Yet the Pay Rises
By CLAUDIA H. DEUTSCH
April 6, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/business/06comp.html

WASN’T 2008 supposed to be the year of shareholder victory on the executive compensation front?

After all, tighter disclosure rules kicked in last year, and — the theory went — once companies had to shine a spotlight on their compensation practices, they were bound to make them better. Politicians, never loath to acknowledge the national mood — particularly in an election year — held several hearings about excessive pay.

But signs of sweeping change remain few. Once again, many — perhaps most — companies filled their proxies with a blizzard of words and numbers that did more to obscure their processes than to illuminate them. And most irksome of all, true links between pay and performance remained scarce.

Shareholders were mad about excessive compensation last year, when the economy was booming. This year, governance experts say, they are livid. “They are furious about the dichotomy of experiences — their shares fall, yet C.E.O. pay still rises,” said Paul Hodgson, a senior research associate at the Corporate Library, a governance research group.

The compensation research firm Equilar recently compiled data about chief executive pay at 200 companies that filed their proxies by March 28 and had revenues of at least $6.5 billion. And the data illustrates Mr. Hodgson’s point. It shows that average compensation for chief executives who had held the job at least two years rose 5 percent in 2007, to $11.2 million (If new C.E.O.’s are counted, that number is $11.7 million). Even though performance-based bonuses were down last year, the value and prevalence of discretionary bonuses — ones not linked to performance — were up. A result is that C.E.O.’s who have held their jobs for two years received an average total bonus payout of $2.8 million, up 1.1 percent from 2006.

“We’re not against pay,” said Dennis Johnson, a senior portfolio manager who is responsible for corporate governance for Calpers, the California pension fund. “But we are certainly against pay for failure, or for just showing up.”

Certainly, some of the highest-paid chiefs — including Lawrence J. Ellison of Oracle, Alan G. Lafley of Procter & Gamble and Lloyd C. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs — presided over companies that did very well. But in other cases, it was hard to see a connection between high pay and savvy management.

Soaring oil prices, not stellar strategy, brought huge profits to many oil companies last year, yet Ray R. Irani, chief of Occidental Petroleum, saw his compensation rise 21 percent, to $33.6 million making him the sixth-highest-paid executive in the group of 200 in the survey.

Conversely, the aftermath of the subprime mortgage debacle wreaked havoc at Merrill Lynch, causing the ouster of E. Stanley O’Neal last fall. It is too soon to know whether John A. Thain, who now has the top spot, can restore Merrill’s former glory. But thanks in large part to a hefty sign-on bonus, he was the highest-paid executive in the survey, with a compensation package that totaled almost $83.8 million.

Then again, the financial services industry traditionally pays well. The heads of four financial companies — Mr. Thain, Mr. Blankfein, Kenneth I. Chenault of American Express and John J. Mack of Morgan Stanley — were among the 10 highest-paid chief executives in the survey.

Even when the credit crisis cost financial chiefs their jobs, it did not hurt their paychecks. Mr. O’Neal at Merrill and Charles Prince at Citigroup both walked away with fortunes.

Washington Mutual, meanwhile, decided that write-offs would not count when it calculated performance-based bonuses, a decision that one compensation expert referred to as calculating batting averages without counting strikes.

“Boards are just too willing to change the goal posts in bad times,” said Scott A. Fenn, managing director of policy for the proxy advisory firm Proxy Governance.

A result, said Charles M. Elson, a corporate governance expert at the University of Delaware, is that “we’re paying executives like successful entrepreneurs, without asking them to take entrepreneurial risks.”

THAT seemed particularly apparent among real estate companies that are coping with a housing downturn. Jeffrey Mezger, the new chief at KB Home, received a discretionary bonus of $6 million even though the company is suffering. Robert Toll, the chief at Toll Brothers, received no bonus in 2007 — but the company has rewritten the compensation plan so that he will probably get one this year even if home building does not recover.

“Directors have to look at C.E.O. pay in terms of return on investment, just like they judge any other dollar they allocate,” said Nell Minow, editor and co-founder of the Corporate Library. “They have to ask, ‘What are we getting back for this money?’ ”

In many cases, the answer would be “not much.” According to Equilar, the chiefs of the 10 largest financial services firms in the survey were awarded a combined total of $320 million last year, even though the firms reported mortgage-related losses that totaled $55 billion and that wiped out more than $200 billion in shareholder value.

Still, even the angriest shareholders acknowledge that some companies are trying to take inequities — and the mystique — out of their compensation plans. The chief executives of Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns did forfeit their bonuses after the subprime mortgage debacle decimated company profits. And Morgan Stanley said it would introduce performance-related stock options.

At the 200 companies that Equilar studied this year, the average value of performance-based bonuses granted to chief executives who had been in their jobs for at least two years was $1.8 million, a drop of 2.5 percent from 2006. Moreover, only 73 percent of the chiefs got performance bonuses, down from 78.6 percent in 2006.

Equilar also said that 14.7 percent of the stock options and shares awarded to executives in the fourth quarter of 2007 had performance-based vesting criteria — a small percentage, but a big increase from 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006.

More companies adopted clawback provisions, in which executives are required to return bonuses or stock options that were based on faulty numbers. The Arkansas Best Corporation even established one for outside directors if any “misconduct” on their part ever contributed to the need to restate finances. (Wal-Mart Stores adopted a similar clause two years ago.)

And a handful of chief executives and directors led the charge against excessive pay themselves.

Four years ago, when David P. Steiner was promoted to chief of Waste Management, he took what he calls a “surgical look” at the compensation system. It rewarded executives, including the chief, for bringing in new customers and orders, even unprofitable ones. “It sent the wrong message, that we wanted growth for growth’s sake,” he said.

Gradually the board, at Mr. Steiner’s prodding, changed the formula. Last year, 75 percent of Mr. Steiner’s long-term incentive plan was tied to specific targets for earnings growth and return on invested capital. And for the first time, the plan included a clawback provision, saying he must return any payments if they were based on numbers that had to be restated.

And next year’s proxy will reflect even more changes. Mr. Steiner’s pay is now linked entirely to achieving those targets. And some perks he used to get — about $35,000 worth of items like car allowances and country club dues — are gone, though their value will be added to his base salary or bonus.

RiskMetrics just went public this year, and M. Ethan Berman, its chief executive, insisted on getting it right from the start. Last year, RiskMetrics bought Institutional Shareholder Services, the high-profile proxy watchdog organization, so Mr. Berman knew that, as he put it, “Ours will be one of the world’s most well-read proxies.” He also buys into the concept, he said, that an excessive pay package can indicate a board that is too beholden to top management.

Thus, his incentive compensation will be based on attaining a mix of financial growth and client and employee retention objectives that are clearly spelled out in the proxy. Mr. Berman said he already owns 10 to 15 percent of the company — “more than enough to align my interests with shareholders,” he said — so he receives no stock grants or options. And he does not have a severance package. “I get the same four weeks vacation as any other employee, and if I leave, I’ll get the same severance,” he said.

Some companies that have been castigated for compensation fiascos in the past are emerging in the best light now. In 2007, shareholders howled when they discovered that Robert L. Nardelli’s contract as chief of Home Depot enabled him to command a severance package totaling $210 million when he was ousted.

The Home Depot board did not make the same mistake when it wrote the contract for Frank Blake, Mr. Nardelli’s successor. “Frank Blake’s package is so tied to performance that it is almost the mirror image of Nardelli’s,” said Ms. Minow of the Corporate Library. “Home Depot went from the worst pay package imaginable to one that is close to exemplary.”

Still, shareholders say praiseworthy packages remain in the minority. And they have plenty of compensation issues they continue to attack.

A group of investors, led by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is asking companies to limit or bar “gross-ups,” in which companies pay the taxes the C.E.O.’s incur from their pay packages.

The timing is not surprising. Many shareholders were aghast last year when Angelo R. Mozilo, who earned $100 million at Countrywide Financial in 2006, successfully argued that Countrywide should pay the taxes that were incurred that year when his wife accompanied him to business functions on the corporate jet.

And gross-ups certainly have not disappeared this year. R. Chad Dreier, the chief of Ryland Homes, earned almost $8.2 million last year. Only $1 million of his pay was salary, and a bit over $2 million was bonus. More than $4 million was gross-ups to cover taxes incurred by vesting of restricted stock that was granted in previous years.

The Corporate Library has just released data showing that 20 percent of chief executives received a tax gross-up on part of their income in 2006. The median gross-up amount was just $13,000, but the concept — that any corporate chief should receive tax assistance on top of multimillion-dollar payouts — stuck in shareholders’ craws.

“We’re putting this research out early enough so that shareholders can wave it at directors,” Mr. Hodgson said.

Shareholders are also concerned about pay packages that can encourage executives to sacrifice the future for a present-day payout. Mr. Hodgson points to Sprint Nextel as a prime example. In a recent filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it had redesigned its compensation plans so that incentive pay for progress toward goals would kick in every quarter.

“If you put a carrot in front of a donkey’s nose, it simply chases that carrot,” Mr. Hodgson said. “Better you add the carrots to the feedbag, but you don’t let the donkey eat any of them until it’s accomplished what’s needed for long-term success.”

And a growing cadre of investors are asking that companies reward only superior performance — for example, if the company was more profitable than its peers. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters has filed pay-for-superior-performance proposals at 33 companies, including Best Buy, Honeywell International, WellPoint and Northern Trust, according to RiskMetrics records.

Disclosure — or lack thereof — remains a huge issue for shareholders.

“We don’t want to see boilerplate,” said Hye-Won Choi, head of governance for TIAA-Cref, which has made compensation the cornerstone of its governance campaign this year. (Last year it was majority voting for directors.) “We want to see how the compensation plan is integrated into the business plan and strategic goals and how it is tied to the performance of the individual and the company. And we want companies to clearly articulate targets for payout.”

So does the S.E.C. The agency has contacted 350 companies to insist that they specify performance targets and couch their disclosures in understandable English.

It has also revamped its own Web site, to make it the go-to spot for companies seeking guidance on plain-English disclosure.

“It’s our aim to break down all the legalese and the jargon, and the dense cover-your-assets boilerplate that reads more like the insurance policy it is than the helpful guide to investors that it’s meant to be,” Christopher Cox, the agency’s chairman, said in a speech last year.

But excess, incomprehensible verbiage was not the only problem with disclosure this year. Many companies — most citing a reluctance to disclose competitive information — couched the criteria by which they measured performance in the vaguest of terms. According to the Corporate Library, two-thirds of companies listed fuzzy performance targets — and of those, no more than 30 percent were really competitively sensitive.

“Sure, we understand if you don’t want competitors to know that your chief executive’s bonus is tied to opening 10 stores in Delaware,” said John Nestor, director of the S.E.C.’s office of public affairs. “But you could at least say the bonus is dependent on successfully expanding.”

Shareholders, for the most part, say they accept that companies cannot divulge sensitive information. But they do not accept that stock price appreciation or profit growth goals belong in that category.

“Companies are still failing to disclose the performance hurdles that trigger pay for performance, and that remains a hugely contentious issue for shareholders,” said Patrick McGurn, special counsel to the RiskMetrics Group, the new name for Institutional Shareholder Services.

Perhaps surprisingly, not all governance experts buy into the idea of forced transparency on targets. Some worry that if shareholders win on this issue, it might be a pyrrhic victory.

“We worry about unintended consequences,” said Rebecca K. Darr, a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute, which convenes forums at which executives and shareholders discuss governance issues. “If companies have to say how they measure individual performance, they might simply revert to easily quantifiable numbers like earnings per share, rather than complex long-term goals.”

In fact, some compensation consultants say the S.E.C. disclosure rules went too far. Pearl Meyer, a senior managing director at Steven Hall & Partners, suggests that executives who missed performance targets might still deserve hefty bonuses, if they managed to stem losses even as economic factors beyond their control — say, soaring oil prices or a housing slowdown — decimated their industry. But, she said, it would be hard to lay out a cogent formula for that. Thus, she concludes, making directors spell out the details of their compensation plans could force them toward rewarding conventional short-term performance.

OF course, some governance experts are suggesting the quintessentially simple fix: Have directors sit down with shareholders and ask what they really want to know.

“When it comes to disclosure, last year was a dud,” said Stephen M. Davis, project director at the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance at Yale. “So you’d think that, since the proxy statements are supposed to communicate to the investor community, the boards would ask shareholders what should or should not go into them.”

Pfizer, for one, seems to be doing just that. Shareholders were outraged last year when Hank McKinnell, the company’s former chief, walked away with nearly $200 million when he was ousted. So last October, the Pfizer directors invited representatives of large shareholder groups to sit down and air any governance issues that troubled them. About a third of the discussion revolved around compensation.

“They billed it as a listening session, but it was interactive and seemed productive,” said Ms. Choi at TIAA-Cref, who said one of her colleagues attended. But she quickly added: “Of course, we don’t yet know if it will result in any action.”

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2) Wall Street undergoes big mood change
Apr 5, 6:13 AM EDT
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/W/WALL__MAIN?SITE=TXSAE&SECTION=BUSINESS&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

NEW YORK (AP) -- With the start of a new quarter, Wall Street seems to have
found something it badly needed: a major shift in sentiment.

Stocks punished during months of sharp losses were scooped up this past week
as big investors like hedge funds returned to the market. And there's a
sense that individual investors - who yanked their money from the stock
market out of fear - might be on the verge of a comeback as well.

Certainly, worries about the economy and further calamities striking the
world's investment banks haven't evaporated. What has changed is the way
investors are looking at the market - simply, that stocks are more likely to
go up than continue their precipitous declines - and that allowed the stocks
to hold on to most of their gains this past week. After the Dow Jones
industrials rose 391 points on Tuesday alone, the stock market's best-known
indicator ended the week up 393 points.

"Sentiment is the whole story, and what we're seeing is an improvement in
sentiment," said Alfred Goldman, chief market strategist at Wachovia
Securities. "I believe the market has bottomed, and eventually all the
problems are baked into stocks and we can start looking beyond the valley to
the peaks ahead."

He believes the best example of this was seen in the just the past five
trading days. Tuesday's big rally came on the first day of the second
quarter. Then came three days of disappointing economic readings that stoked
more fears of a recession, including a surge in jobless benefits claims and
Friday's news that employers slashed 80,000 positions in March.

The data are clear signs that the economy is shrinking, and may well be in a
recession. But, unlike previous weeks when the news would have sent the
major stock averages skidding, investors barely flinched.

"The selling has been overdone," Goldman said.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett might have had it right when he told
shareholders a few years ago: "If they insist on trying to time their
participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are
greedy and greedy only when others are fearful."

Another sign of the shift in sentiment: the Chicago Board Option Exchange's
volatility index, often referred to as the "fear index," which fell to 23 on
Friday. The lower the index, the less anxiety there is on the Street, and
Friday made it four straight days in which the reading was below 24, a feat
not seen since the end of February.

The index reached its highest point in a year on March 17, when it crossed
35. That was the day after news that JPMorgan Chase & Co. was buying Bear
Stearns Cos. to save the investment bank from collapse.

What has brought the index down, and helped lift the market's spirits, is a
growing sense that the Federal Reserve is managing the credit crisis, using
more than just interest rate cuts. Investment banks are using a new program
to borrow money from the central bank to boost liquidity, and Fed Chairman
Ben Bernanke said he doesn't expect a repeat of what happened to Bear
Stearns.

Analysts believe the performance of financial companies - widely believed to
be the group that leads markets higher - will be a key to whether investors
can hold on to their optimism. Their billions of dollars in write-downs from
failed mortgages fed Wall Street's decline.

"I think the market is still very fragile, especially because people feel
there are hidden depth charges on the books of financials," said Stephen
Massocca, co-Chief Executive of Pacific Growth Equities, a San
Francisco-based investment bank. "Right now, people are relieved that the
crisis appears to be over, and at the minimum, we stopped draining."

He and others might get an answer once some of the nation's biggest
financial companies begin to report earnings later this month - and, more
important, provide outlooks for the rest of the year. That starts April 16,
when JPMorgan reports first-quarter results, followed by Merrill Lynch & Co.
the following day and Citigroup Inc. the next.

"Further collapse of the market could depend on them," Massocca said.

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3) Illnesses blamed on spraying in Santa Cruz
Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer
Monday, April 7, 2008
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2008/04/07/MNROVV23E.DTL&o=0

Day after day in Santa Cruz, the aerial spraying was delayed by the thickness of the November fog.

At the Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center, the staff hired a handyman to pull in playground equipment and tables and chairs, and put tarps over lawns and sandboxes. In the morning, he'd put it all back outside and remove the tarps.

"We did it for five nights," said Nora Caruso, program director of the 30-year-old nonprofit center. She read the advice from the state agriculture department directing residents to bring in pets and clothes from the line and lay down tarps.

None of the 24 toddlers in her care seemed to have any ill effects after the spraying. But she did. The day after the spray, Caruso had tightness in her chest and shortness of breath.

"I'm a healthy, active 40-year-old. In the last few years, I've had asthma twice only due to a severe respiratory illness," Caruso said.

Her doctor found no infection, no signs of a cold, and submitted a pesticide illness report to the state.

Caruso has been working with a citizens group, California Alliance to Stop the Spray, and has had dozens of talks with people who couldn't afford to go to physicians for follow-up or didn't bother because they weren't certain their health problems were serious enough to mention or even connected to the spray. But she's collected stories of a range of problems from rashes and sore throats to sick pets.

After the spraying, it rained in Santa Cruz, leaving pools of contaminated water, residents say.

Sheryl Kern-Jones said she got sick when she tried to clean up the mess in her backyard. First it was only burning eyes. When she went back to finish pouring the rainwater into bags, she started feeling pain when she'd release a breath. The pain lasted six days.

Hope Morales, who lives in downtown Santa Cruz and is partially blind, said she stayed inside, but the pesticides sprayed from the planes invaded her Victorian home. It left her with burning eyes, and she came down with a deep cough, she said.

Lucette Spitzer lives in the hills behind Aptos. Her neighborhood wasn't being sprayed, but she went to Santa Cruz to meet a friend for dinner. The spraying date had been uncertain because the planes were delayed waiting for clear skies. Residents were told to check online every day at 5 p.m.

"When I left the restaurant to go to my car at 8 p.m., they were spraying. It's a time when people are out and about," Spitzer said.

After the spraying, Spitzer said she felt like she was getting the flu, and ended up with a migraine that lasted a week. "I'm not a hypochondriac," she said. "I don't go into a flap and make myself sick by thinking about things."

In Santa Cruz County, Dr. Poki Stewart Namkung, the county's health officer, said she has concerns regarding the spraying. There have been no long-term animal studies on the products, she said. "I don't think anyone knows what the long-term health effects will be."

Namkung has conferred with San Francisco's director of environmental health, Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, who is also an epidemiologist, and submitted comments to the environmental review now being prepared by the state agricultural department.

In a letter, Namkung asked for a complete review that includes a comprehensive human health assessment before it launches any more spraying forays. The assessment should include effects of the products, the active and inert ingredients, alone and in mixture; effects related to the microcapsule carrier of the product, including toxicity and impact of inhalation; atmospheric behavior of the product; persistence in the environment; potential routes of exposure; and identification of sensitive populations.

Namkung also recommended that the state examine alternatives to aerial applications in urban areas. "Proposing to spray an urban population every month for nine months of the year for the next two to three years is unprecedented," she said.

E-mail Jane Kay at jkay@sfchronicle.com .

This article appeared on page A - 18 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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4) Grains Gone Wild
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Op-Ed Columnist
April 7, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/opinion/07krugman.html?hp

These days you hear a lot about the world financial crisis. But there’s another world crisis under way — and it’s hurting a lot more people.

I’m talking about the food crisis. Over the past few years the prices of wheat, corn, rice and other basic foodstuffs have doubled or tripled, with much of the increase taking place just in the last few months. High food prices dismay even relatively well-off Americans — but they’re truly devastating in poor countries, where food often accounts for more than half a family’s spending.

There have already been food riots around the world. Food-supplying countries, from Ukraine to Argentina, have been limiting exports in an attempt to protect domestic consumers, leading to angry protests from farmers — and making things even worse in countries that need to import food.

How did this happen? The answer is a combination of long-term trends, bad luck — and bad policy.

Let’s start with the things that aren’t anyone’s fault.

First, there’s the march of the meat-eating Chinese — that is, the growing number of people in emerging economies who are, for the first time, rich enough to start eating like Westerners. Since it takes about 700 calories’ worth of animal feed to produce a 100-calorie piece of beef, this change in diet increases the overall demand for grains.

Second, there’s the price of oil. Modern farming is highly energy-intensive: a lot of B.T.U.’s go into producing fertilizer, running tractors and, not least, transporting farm products to consumers. With oil persistently above $100 per barrel, energy costs have become a major factor driving up agricultural costs.

High oil prices, by the way, also have a lot to do with the growth of China and other emerging economies. Directly and indirectly, these rising economic powers are competing with the rest of us for scarce resources, including oil and farmland, driving up prices for raw materials of all sorts.

Third, there has been a run of bad weather in key growing areas. In particular, Australia, normally the world’s second-largest wheat exporter, has been suffering from an epic drought.

O.K., I said that these factors behind the food crisis aren’t anyone’s fault, but that’s not quite true. The rise of China and other emerging economies is the main force driving oil prices, but the invasion of Iraq — which proponents promised would lead to cheap oil — has also reduced oil supplies below what they would have been otherwise.

And bad weather, especially the Australian drought, is probably related to climate change. So politicians and governments that have stood in the way of action on greenhouse gases bear some responsibility for food shortages.

Where the effects of bad policy are clearest, however, is in the rise of demon ethanol and other biofuels.

The subsidized conversion of crops into fuel was supposed to promote energy independence and help limit global warming. But this promise was, as Time magazine bluntly put it, a “scam.”

This is especially true of corn ethanol: even on optimistic estimates, producing a gallon of ethanol from corn uses most of the energy the gallon contains. But it turns out that even seemingly “good” biofuel policies, like Brazil’s use of ethanol from sugar cane, accelerate the pace of climate change by promoting deforestation.

And meanwhile, land used to grow biofuel feedstock is land not available to grow food, so subsidies to biofuels are a major factor in the food crisis. You might put it this way: people are starving in Africa so that American politicians can court votes in farm states.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: all the remaining presidential contenders are terrible on this issue.

One more thing: one reason the food crisis has gotten so severe, so fast, is that major players in the grain market grew complacent.

Governments and private grain dealers used to hold large inventories in normal times, just in case a bad harvest created a sudden shortage. Over the years, however, these precautionary inventories were allowed to shrink, mainly because everyone came to believe that countries suffering crop failures could always import the food they needed.

This left the world food balance highly vulnerable to a crisis affecting many countries at once — in much the same way that the marketing of complex financial securities, which was supposed to diversify away risk, left world financial markets highly vulnerable to a systemwide shock.

What should be done? The most immediate need is more aid to people in distress: the U.N.’s World Food Program put out a desperate appeal for more funds.

We also need a pushback against biofuels, which turn out to have been a terrible mistake.

But it’s not clear how much can be done. Cheap food, like cheap oil, may be a thing of the past.

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5) U.S. and Iraqis Battle Militias to End Attacks
By ERICA GOODE and MICHAEL R. GORDON
April 7, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/world/middleeast/07iraq.html?ref=world

BAGHDAD — Sharp fighting broke out in the Sadr City district of Baghdad on Sunday as American and Iraqi troops sought to control neighborhoods used by Shiite militias to fire rockets and mortars into the nearby Green Zone.

But the operation failed to stop the attacks on the heavily fortified zone, headquarters for Iraq’s central government and the American Embassy here. By day’s end, at least two American soldiers had been killed and 17 wounded in the zone, one of the worst daily tolls for the American military in the most heavily protected part of Baghdad. Altogether, at least three American soldiers were killed and 31 wounded in attacks in Baghdad on Sunday, and at least 20 Iraqis were killed, mostly in Sadr City.

The heightened violence came on the eve of Congressional testimony in Washington by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, and Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador here, to defend their strategy for political reconciliation and improved security in the country.

The Green Zone attacks were, symbolically at least, a sign that forces hostile to the United States are still able to strike at the American nerve center and seat of government power in the capital of Iraq.

The attacks were sure to feature prominently in the scheduled hearings, giving ammunition to Democratic critics who argue that Iraq is not making progress, as well as Republicans who say it would be foolish to reduce the American troop presence in Iraq quickly.

The attacks also came as Iraq’s national security council intensified pressure on the Mahdi Army, the armed wing of the political group led by Moktada Al-Sadr, the powerful anti-American Shiite cleric, to disarm. In a statement, the council declared that all political parties must immediately dissolve their militias and surrender their weapons if they wish to take part in elections.

The timing of the statement was seen as a message in particular for Mr. Sadr, who represents the biggest political threat to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and his associates, and who derives much of his support from Sadr City, which has been encircled by American and Iraqi troops for more than a week.

Violence in Sadr City first flared more than a week ago after Mr. Maliki began a poorly coordinated military campaign to retake the southern port city of Basra from Shiite militias.

The fighting in Baghdad had calmed considerably in recent days. On Sunday morning, though, Iraqi troops backed by an American Stryker squadron moved through a southern section of Sadr City, and were met by militia fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons.

After the Iraqi soldiers came under attack, American forces in Abrams tanks, Stryker and Bradley fighting vehicles rumbled to the scene. An American helicopter fired at least two Hellfire missiles at militia fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades, and blasted one of their vehicles. Later at least one militia-fired rocket hit the Jamilla market, a heavily frequented part of Sadr City, where clashes left at least 20 people dead, Iraqi officials said.

A large whoosh from a rocket disrupted a briefing in Sadr City for a small group of reporters, prompting correspondents and soldiers to duck. The news conference at the lone American Army and Iraqi combat outpost in Sadr City was given by Gen. Abud Qanbar Hashim, the Iraqi commander for Baghdad, and Maj. Gen. Jeffrey W. Hammond, who leads the American division charged with securing the capital, and began as bursts of gunfire rattled nearby streets.

General Hammond explained later that the projectile was probably an errant 107-millimeter rocket aimed at the Green Zone and launched from north Sadr City.

Mr. Maliki has issued a series of seemingly inconsistent decrees in recent days about his willingness to take on militias. General Abud said the Iraqi operations in Sadr City were not aimed at any specific political movement. The statement seemed intended to reassure Mr. Sadr’s followers, but General Abud insisted that Iraqi security forces would take action against any militia brandishing arms.

“The main thing is that arms should be in the hands of the state,” he said. “And we will never allow any armed group to carry arms as an alternative to the state to provide security to the citizens.”

The immediate concern of the American forces was more tactical: trying to shut down the mortar and rocket attacks that have become a daily problem for the Green Zone.

Moving into Sadr City’s streets and alleys, American soldiers have taken up positions in abandoned houses, living in primitive conditions and trying to fend off counterattacks from a enemy fighters who appeared to have a well-organized system of command and control.

Sgt. Maj. Michael Boom of the First Squadron, Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment, said more than 1,000 American and Iraqi troops were operating in his sector. He said the recent fighting began March 25 when the Americans heard that Iraqi checkpoints were being overrun.

“My soldiers pushed out to help the Iraqi security forces re-establish the checkpoints. In some cases, we actually took over the checkpoints until they could get forces back there,” he said. “My companies have been taking direct fire every day.”

On March 28, the Americans moved to take control of the militia rocket sites to try to blunt the attacks on the Green Zone. The militias responded with a heavy counterattack the next day.

“They obviously wanted to retain that ground and maintain their ability to shoot rockets with impunity,” said Lt. Col. Dan Barnett, the squadron’s commander. “They have a command and control structure. They have a plan in place.”

The fighting increased as Iraqi forces began to clear a neighborhood to the east of the outpost, with American support.

Over the past week, Mr. Maliki has also been trying to recoup the political damage he sustained when his American-supported military assault in Basra met with intense resistance from militias. After a six-day stalemate, high-level negotiations resulted in Mr. Sadr’s issuing a statement on March 30 ordering his followers to stop fighting.

The security council — whose members include Mr. Maliki; President Jalal Talabani; Mahmoud al-Mashidani, the speaker of Parliament; and representatives of the major political parties — demanded that the militias be disbanded. The council’s 15-point statement also called for all parties to “appreciate the role of the army in imposing security and order in Basra and the rest of the provinces.”

Mahmood Uthman, an independent member of Parliament who is part of the Kurdish Alliance, said he doubted that the Sadr group would go along. Mr. Sadr and his followers, he said, are likely to insist that any call for disarmament be applied to other political parties with militias, including the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, whose armed wing is the Badr militia.

Luway Smessem, the head of the Sadr party’s political committee, said that though the group agreed with much of the statement, party officials had “reservations” about some points, including the demands that militias disband and that Mr. Maliki’s Basra campaign be supported.

“The Mahdi Army is not a militia,” he said. “We don’t have masked fighters and everyone knows who we are and who our commanders are.”

Until Sunday, an American soldier had not died from attacks on the Green Zone since last July.

In addition to the deaths in the Green Zone, a rocket fired at a military base in the Rustimiya neighborhood of Baghdad killed one American soldier and wounded 14.

A third rocket landed just outside a checkpoint at the entry of the Green Zone, shearing off the corner of a building and wounding five Iraqi civilians. The rocket landed 50 yards in front of vehicles driven by employees of The New York Times.

The force of the rocket, one employee said, ripped a four-inch-deep hole in the road’s tarmac surface.

“All the cars started speeding toward us, like cockroaches out of a drain, trying to get away from there as quickly as possible,” the employee said.

Mohammed Razak, 16, who works at a bakery on the first floor of the building that was hit, went back to work soon afterward.

“The souls are given to us by God and he is the one who decides to take them,” Mr. Razak said. “It’s our living and we have to keep working.”

Ahmed Fadam, Stephen Farrell, Qais Mizher and employees of The New York Times contributed reporting.

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6) Pork Barrel Remains Hidden in U.S. Budget
By RON NIXON
April 7, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/washington/07earmarks.html?ref=us

WASHINGTON — Sometimes on Capitol Hill, lawmakers find that it pays to ask nicely instead of just ordering the bureaucrats around.

With great fanfare, Congress adopted strict ethics rules last year requiring members to disclose when they steered federal money to pet projects. But it turns out lawmakers can still secretly direct billions of dollars to favored organizations by making vague requests rather than issuing explicit instructions to government agencies in committee reports and spending bills. That seeming courtesy is the difference between “soft earmarks” and the more insistent “hard earmarks.”

How much money is requested for any specific project? It is difficult to say, since price tags are not included with soft earmarks. Who is the sponsor? Unclear, unless the lawmaker later acknowledges it. Purpose of the spending? Usually not provided.

How to spot a soft earmark? Easy. The language is that of a respectful suggestion: A committee “endorses” or notes it “is aware” of deserving programs and “urges” or “recommends” that agencies finance them.

That was how taxpayer money was requested last year for a Christian broadcasting group to build a shortwave radio station in Madagascar, a program to save hawks in Haiti, efforts to fight agriculture pests in Maryland and an “international fertilizer” center in Alabama that assists farmers overseas.

After hard earmarks figured into several Congressional scandals and prompted criticism of wasteful spending from government agencies and watchdog groups, Congress cut back on their number last year and required disclosure of most of them. (There were more than 10,000, costing nearly $20 billion last year, according to the Congressional Research Service.)

But soft earmarks, while not a new phenomenon, have drawn virtually no attention and were not included in the ethics changes — and current ones under consideration — because Congress does not view them as true earmarks.

Their total cost is not known. But the research service found that they amounted to more than $3 billion in one spending bill alone in 2006, out of 13 annual appropriations bills. And the committee that handles the bill, which involves foreign operations, has increasingly converted hard earmarks to soft ones.

“This shows that even though lawmakers now have to disclose their pet projects, we’re not getting a full accounting of earmarks,” said Ryan Alexander, director of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group in Washington that tracks earmarks. “We may just be looking at the tip of the iceberg.”

Representative Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, said he did not believe gentler language changed anything when it came to pork-barrel spending.

“No matter what you want to call it, an earmark is an earmark,” said Mr. Flake, a longtime foe of earmarks. “If Congressional leaders don’t believe that soft earmarks are earmarks, then I think that makes the case as to why we need tougher reforms in place.”

Soft earmarks are included in a number of spending measures, but they tend to occur more frequently in spending bills that give money to the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development and other foreign aid programs.

Federal agencies are not required to finance soft earmarks. However, officials have traditionally felt obliged to comply with such requests.

“Soft earmarks, while not legally binding, frequently come with an implicit threat: If you don’t take our suggestions, we will give you a hard earmark next,” said Andrew Natsios, former administrator of A.I.D. in the Bush administration.

In its report, the Congressional Research Service said agencies also could face budget cuts if they did not finance soft earmarks.

Mr. Natsios said two lawmakers once threatened to cut his budget if he did not pay for one of their requests. He declined to identify them.

Congressional leaders say soft earmarks are merely suggestions and not really earmarks. They argue that money is awarded at the discretion of the agency, largely through a competitive process.

“Recognizing organizations with a record of relevant work is part of Congress’s budgetary role,” Representative Nita M. Lowey, Democrat of New York, said in an e-mail message.

“It broadens the competitive grant process beyond administration priorities and encourages current recipients to maintain high performance standards,” said Ms. Lowey, who is the chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations.

Mr. Natsios agreed that some soft earmarks in the bill could result in a competitive bidding process. But that is not the case if the report names a specific organization, which routinely happens.

In considering lawmakers’ spending requests, some committees in recent years have switched hard earmarks to soft ones, saying it gives agencies more flexibility. Critics, including Mr. Flake, suggest it is being done to avoid scrutiny.

“With the efforts to shine more light on the earmarking process,” he said, “I am concerned that we might see increasingly creative ways to steer funding to recipients of funding that members of Congress want to see it go to.”

Financing for the shortwave radio station, called the Madagascar World Voice, for example, began as a hard earmark request by Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas.

Mr. Sessions originally sought $2.5 million for World Christian Broadcasting, a group based in Nashville that broadcasts in several countries and promotes abstinence to prevent AIDS. The House Appropriations Committee converted it to a soft earmark.

A spokesman for World Christian Broadcasting said the organization had been in discussions with A.I.D. about the financing.

Another soft earmark was included for the International Fertilizer Development Center, in Muscle Shoals, Ala. The group has been criticized as wasteful by watchdog groups and Senator John McCain of Arizona, a critic of earmarks who is the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

John H. Allgood, director of finance and administration for the group, which teaches third world farmers about soil fertility management and other agricultural practices, confirmed that his organization received financing from A.I.D. but did not know whether it was through an earmark.

Mr. Allgood would not say how much money the group received, and the aid agency did not respond to requests for the information. The fertilizer center previously received a $4 million hard earmark requested by Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama.

A soft earmark, of course, does not guarantee financing. For example, the Sesame Workshop, home of Big Bird and the rest of the Sesame Street gang, said it did not receive any money despite such a request.

Still, organizations spend millions each year lobbying Congress for them. Lobbyists say getting a client’s organization into language in committee reports, which accompany spending bills and contain more detailed instructions to agencies, can have an impact.

“I certainly wouldn’t call them earmarks, but it does say to the agency that this is something that Congress is serious about,” said Fredrick Baird, known as Tripp, a lobbyist with J. C. Companies, a lobbying firm headed by former Representative J. C. Watts, an Oklahoma Republican.

Other than the amendment that Mr. Flake offered last year to shed more light on the process, no efforts to curb soft earmarks have been proposed.

President Bush signed an executive order in January that directed agencies to ignore all earmarks in committee reports.

But legal opinions by the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office found that Congress could get around the order by simply inserting them in the text of spending bills or including language in the bills that directed agencies to treat earmarks listed in committee reports as if they were written into the law. That frustrates groups seeking openness in government.

“Soft earmarks are even more insidious than hard earmarks,” said Keith Ashdown, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “With hard earmarks, at least you know something about the amounts and recipients. With soft earmarks, everything is done in secret.”

Tom Torok contributed reporting from New York.

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7) In Remote Eskimo Villages, Pockets of Third-World Problems
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Global Update
April 8, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/health/08glob.html?ref=health

Even in the United States, there are pockets with health problems echoing those of the third world.

Alaskan villagers without running water have high rates of lung and skin infections, according to a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Remote Alaska includes about 170 Eskimo villages, mostly along coasts and rivers and reachable only by boat, snowmobile or airplane. Typical houses are of plywood or prefabricated siding.

Although most have electricity and heat, many lack running water and sewage, because permafrost means that pipes have to be run on stilts.

Plumbing each house can cost $50,000. Instead, villagers use bucket toilets and haul water in jerrycans from a central reservoir.

In the United States, 99.4 percent of homes have plumbing; in these villages, about a third do not.

“Living conditions are like those in the developing world,” said Dr. Thomas Hennessy, director of the Arctic Investigation Programs at the disease centers. “What’s different is that they’re connected to a health care system that’s the envy of the rest of the world.”

Villagers receive free primary care and can be taken to Indian Health Service hospitals.

In villages where plumbing was rare, infants were hospitalized for pneumonia 11 times as often as typical American infants, but not much more often for diarrhea, Dr. Hennessy said.

He surmised that clean drinking water prevented intestinal infections but that the lack of running water meant unwashed hands spread the germs that caused colds, pneumonia and boils.

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8) Asian Inflation Begins to Sting U.S. Shoppers
By KEITH BRADSHER
April 8, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/business/worldbusiness/08inflate.html?ref=world

BAT TRANG, Vietnam — The free ride for American consumers is ending. For two generations, Americans have imported goods produced ever more cheaply from a succession of low-wage countries — first Japan and Korea, then China, and now increasingly places like Vietnam and India.

But mounting inflation in the developing world, especially Asia, is threatening that arrangement, and not just in China, where rising energy and labor costs have already made exports to the United States more expensive, but in the lower-cost alternatives to China, too.

“Inflation is the major threat to Asian countries,” said Jong-Wha Lee, the head of the Asian Development Bank’s office of regional economic integration.

It is also a threat to Western consumers because Asian exporters, even in very poor countries, are passing their rising costs on to customers.

Developing countries have had bouts of inflation before. Indeed, some are famous for them, like Brazil, which experienced triple-digit inflation in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But two things make this time different, and together promise to send prices higher at Wal-Mart and supermarkets alike in the United States, just as the possibility of recession looms.

First, developing countries now produce nearly half of all American imports. Second, inflation in these countries is coming at the same time that many of their currencies are rising against the dollar.

That puts American consumers in a double bind, paying at least some of producers’ higher costs for making their goods, and higher prices on top of that because the dollar buys less in those countries.

Asian businessmen say they do not have a choice about charging more. “This is a tough time to do business,” said Le Hoai Vu, the sales manager for the Quang Vinh Ceramic Company here in northern Vietnam.

The company just increased by up to 10 percent the prices it charges Pier 1 Imports in the United States for hand-painted vases because labor costs are rising 30 percent a year.

Over all, in Vietnam, one of the fastest-growing destinations for manufacturing investments and one of the fastest-growing sources of American imports, prices rose 19.4 percent from March 2007 to March 2008.

In China, Foshan Shunde Augustus Bathroom Equipment Ltd. in Foshan City is about to raise prices by 10 percent for a range of bathroom fixtures exported to North America.

“Rising inflation is a way of life in China these days, you see it everywhere,” said Faye Kong, the company’s international business supervisor.

The cost of American imports from less industrialized countries as a group is rising. A Bureau of Labor Statistics index of average prices for imports of manufactured goods from such countries fell gradually through early 2004, but is now rising briskly and was up 5.6 percent in February from the same month last year.

That contributes to rising inflation in the United States; in the 12 months through February 2008, the prices of goods for sale in the United States increased by 4 percent, according to the government’s Consumer Price Index.

But so far, Asian exporters have passed along only a portion of their costs. In China, for instance, prices are now rising almost 9 percent a year, triple the pace of a year ago.

Workers in the developing world facing higher prices have been increasingly vocal in demanding higher wages, with protests erupting in recent days in Vietnam, Cambodia and Egypt.

At the same time, inflation keeps rising: the Philippines announced that its inflation at the consumer level had doubled in the last five months, showing a 6.4 percent increase in March over the same month a year ago. And weekly inflation at the wholesale level has accelerated in India, reaching an annual rate of 7 percent in the week ended March 22, up from 3.1 percent as recently as last October.

Not long ago, it would have been unlikely for a poor country with high inflation to see its money strengthen in value against the mighty dollar. But the dollar is not quite as mighty as it once was. Large American trade deficits and other problems have weakened its appeal.

And there are signs that the dollar could fall further if developing countries’ central banks stopped supporting it, particularly in Asia.

Vietnam’s central bank even had to order the country’s commercial banks late last month to resume buying dollars within the tight range of exchange rates set by the government. Many banks had started betting on dollar depreciation and refusing to accept large sums in dollars, to the point that multinationals and exporters had trouble wiring money into the country to pay their employees’ salaries.

Additionally, the dollar’s weakness is itself a cause of inflation in developing countries, particularly those that have barely let their currencies rise against the dollar in an effort to hold on to export markets.

In a street market around the corner from the 270-year-old Lungshan Temple in Taipei, Taiwan, Teresa Gau, a fishmonger, is charging up to a third more for fish and crabs than she did a year ago. That is because fishing boat owners are charging her more as they struggle to cover higher costs for diesel fuel, which is priced in dollars.

“They have to raise the price to compensate,” Ms. Gau said.

Inflation in Taiwan has started to creep up partly because the government waited until this year to allow the currency, the New Taiwan dollar, to appreciate. Taiwan imports all its oil, and only now is the slightly strengthening New Taiwan dollar starting to hold down the cost for consumers in filling up their gas tanks.

Here in Bat Trang, an ancient ceramics center near Hanoi, Quang Vinh Ceramic’s fastest-rising expense is for vivid blue ink for painting vases and other pottery. Imported from Belgium, the ink is priced in euros and has soared 80 percent over the last year in Vietnamese dong.

Keeping the dong inexpensive in dollar terms helped Vietnam increase its exports by 24.1 percent last year, but also lured a flood of investment. Bank loans rose more than 50 percent last year, feeding a real estate frenzy that has not yet abated.

Brick kiln owners like Le Thi Hop here in Bat Trang have responded by tripling prices in the last year.

“Most of the people who buy my bricks say the price is crazy, but I say, ‘This is the market,’ ” Ms. Hop said cheerily.

High costs for construction materials are making it more expensive for the many multinationals like Samsung of South Korea and Hanes and Emerson Electric of the United States that are now building factories in Vietnam, partly in response to rising costs in China.

In addition to the weak dollar, economists say that countries like Vietnam, Egypt, China and Brazil are inherently more vulnerable to inflation when, as now, rising prices are led by increasingly expensive commodities.

Soaring food and energy costs have a far greater effect on developing countries like Vietnam, because of their large agricultural and energy-hungry manufacturing sectors, than on industrialized countries, which tend to have larger service sectors than manufacturing sectors.

Quang Vinh, which was founded by a 15th-generation pottery maker, has raised wages by 30 percent over the past year to keep up with food prices, which have also risen. Food is the biggest expense for the company’s workers, who earn $75 a month working eight hours a day, six days a week.

“Before, I used to go out with friends regularly,” said Nguyen Xuan Tu, a 29-year-old Quang Vinh worker who rides a motor scooter, like many Vietnamese. “But now, with the high cost of gasoline, I don’t go out too much.”

Two opposing trends have made it hard to gauge the true extent of inflation in the developing world.

Very heavy investment in new factories, especially in China but increasingly in emerging countries like India and Vietnam as well, has created a lot of extra industrial capacity. That could drag down prices somewhat if the American economic slowdown causes a global slump in demand.

But many developing countries, led by China and India, have blunted the full impact of inflation so far through a combination of price controls and subsidies, and more countries are joining them — Vietnam has imposed price controls on transportation and gasoline over the past week, for instance.

As businesses figure out ways around price controls, like charging the same while shrinking the quantities in each package, and as the cost of subsidies may become unsustainably high, inflation may worsen.

Mery Galanternick contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

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9) Haiti: Thousands Protest Food Prices
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
World Briefing | The Americas
April 8, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/world/americas/08briefs-THOUSANDSPRO_BRF.html?ref=world

Protesters angered by food prices flooded the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, forcing businesses and schools to close as unrest spread from the countryside. Witnesses said at least one person had been killed by hotel security guards during a protest in the southern city of Les Cayes, where four people died last week in food riots and clashes with United Nations peacekeepers. Thousands of people marched mostly peacefully past the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. “We’re hungry!” some called out. Haitians are particularly affected by food prices that are rising worldwide. Eighty percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. The cost of staples like rice, beans, fruit and condensed milk has gone up 50 percent in the past year.

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LINKS AND VERY SHORT STORIES

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Coal Company Verdict in West Virginia Is Thrown Out
By ADAM LIPTAK
April 4, 2008
National Briefing | Mid-Atlantic
The State Supreme Court for a second time threw out a $50 million verdict against the coal company Massey Energy. The court decided to rehear the case after the publication of photographs of its chief justice on vacation in Monte Carlo with the company’s chief executive, Don L. Blankenship. The chief justice, Elliott E. Maynard, and a second justice disqualified themselves from the rehearing and were replaced by appeals court judges, but the vote was again 3-to-2 in favor of Massey. A third justice, Brent D. Benjamin, who was elected to the court with the help of more than $3 million from Mr. Blankenship, refused to recuse himself.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/04/us/04brfs-COALCOMPANYV_BRF.html?ref=us

Utah: Miners’ Families File Lawsuit
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
National Briefing | Rockies
April 3, 2008
A lawsuit by the families of six men killed in August in a mine cave-in claims the collapse occurred because the mine’s owners were harvesting coal unsafely. The suit, filed in Salt Lake City, says the Murray Energy Corporation performed risky retreat mining last summer. It seeks unspecified damages. Three men trying to reach the miners died 10 days after the collapse in another cave-in at the Crandall Canyon Mine.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/us/03brfs-MINERSFAMILI_BRF.html?ref=us

Regimens: Drug Samples Found to Affect Spending
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
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
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/01/health/policy/01regi.html?ref=health

Rhode Island: Order to Combat Illegal Immigration
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/29/us/29brfs-002.html?ref=us

North Carolina: Ministers Say Police Destroyed Records
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/us/27brfs-MINISTERSSAY_BRF.html?ref=us

Gaza: Israeli Army Clears Itself in 21 Deaths
By ISABEL KERSHNER
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
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/world/middleeast/27briefs-israelistrike.html?ref=world

World Briefing | Asia
Taiwan: Tons of Fish Wash Up on Beaches
By REUTERS
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
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/23/world/asia/23briefs-TONSOFFISHWA_BRF.html?ref=world

Zimbabwe: Inflation Breaks the Six-Figure Mark
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/world/africa/21briefs-INFLATIONBRE_BRF.html?ref=world

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GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS AND INFORMATION

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Russell Means Speaking at the Transform Columbus Day Rally
"If voting could do anything it would be illegal!"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8Lri1-6aoY

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Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation
http://groups.msn.com/BayAreaIndianCalendar/activismissues.msnw?action=get_message&mview=1&ID_Message=5580

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We Didn't Start the Fire
http://yeli.us/Flash/Fire.html

I Can't Take it No More
http://lefti.blogspot.com/2007_11_01_archive.html#9214483115237950361

The Art of Mental Warfare
http://artofmentalwarfare.com/pog/artofmentalwarfarecom-the-warning/

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

UNCONSTITUTIONAL
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6582099850410121223&pr=goog-sl

IRAQ FOR SALE
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6621486727392146155

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Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOkn2Fg7R8w

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"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
http://www.accuracy.org/newsrelease.php?articleId=987

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A little gem:
Michael Moore Faces Off With Stephen Colbert [VIDEO]
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/57492/

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LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/qws/ff/qr?term=lapd&Submit=S&Go.x=0&Go.y=0&Go=Search&st=s

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Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007
http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeo9ewi/proudtobeblack2/

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"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]
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1936/12/nor.htm

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Wealth Inequality Charts
http://www.faireconomy.org/research/wealth_charts.html

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MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dmzaaf-9aHQ

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

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YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtATT8GXkWg&mode=related&search

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The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/ref/business/20070715_GILDED_GRAPHIC.html

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New Orleans After the Flood -- A Photo Gallery
http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=795
This email was sent to you as a service, by Roland Sheppard.
Visit my website at: http://web.mac.com/rolandgarret

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[For some levity...Hans Groiner plays Monk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51bsCRv6kI0
...bw]

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Which country should we invade next?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3g_zqz3VjY

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My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup
http://www.myspace.com/thecoupmusic

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Michael Moore- The Awful Truth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeOaTpYl8mE

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Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_LsGoDWC0o

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Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfCjfod8yuw

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'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
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,2042968,00.html

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Introducing...................the Apple iRack
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-KWYYIY4jQ

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"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]

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"200 million children in the world sleep in the streets today.
Not one of them is Cuban."
(A sign in Havana)
Venceremos
View sign at bottom of page at:
http://www.cubasolidarity.net/index.html
[Thanks to Norma Harrison for sending this...bw]

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FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein
http://www.walterlippmann.com/sylvia-weinstein-fightback-intro.html

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

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Sand Creek Massacre
"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FEATURED AT NATIVE AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL:
http://www.aberdeennews.com/mld/aberdeennews/news/local/16035305.htm
(scroll down when you get there])
"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING
WRITER/FILMMAKER DONALD L. VASICEK REPORT:
http://www.digitalcinemareport.com/sandcreekmassacre.html
"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FINALIST IN DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL COMPETITION (VIEW HERE):
http://www.docupyx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=41
VIEW "THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FILM MOVIE OF THE WEEK FOR FREE HERE:
http://twymancreative.com/twymanc.html

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.

You can help. The 22-MINUTE SAND CREEK MASSACRE
DOCUMENTARY PRESENTATION/EDUCATIONAL DVD IS
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
http://us.imdb.com/Name?Vasicek,+Don
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net
303-903-2103

"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FEATURED AT NATIVE AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL:
http://www.aberdeennews.com/mld/aberdeennews/news/local/16035305.htm
(scroll down when you get there])
"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING
WRITER/FILMMAKER DONALD L. VASICEK REPORT:
http://www.digitalcinemareport.com/sandcreekmassacre.html
"THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FINALIST IN DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL COMPETITION (VIEW HERE):
http://www.docupyx.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=41
VIEW "THE SAND CREEK MASSACRE" AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY
SHORT FILM MOVIE OF THE WEEK FOR FREE HERE:
http://twymancreative.com/twymanc.html

SHOP:
http://www.manataka.org/page633.html
BuyIndies.com
donvasicek.com.Peace Articles at Libraryofpeace.org">

2 comments:

ouvrierscdapparel said...

WE, THE EMPLOYEES OF CD APPAREL IN HAITI AT SONAPI INDUSTRIAL PARC # 31 LET SHOW TO ALL OVER IN THE WORLD : THE LOGO, CARTON , MOON WORKMACHINES AND MORE THAN 480.000 PIECES OF T-SHIRTS GOOD STOPPED BY THE HAITIAN LAW TO FORCE HANESBRANDS[HBI] AND FRANTZ PILORGEWE, THE EMPLOYEES OF CD APPAREL IN HAITI AT SONAPI INDUSTRIAL PARC # 31 LET SHOW TO ALL OVER IN THE WORLD : THE LOGO, CARTON , MOON W THE OWNER OF CD APPAREL TO DAMAGE THE WORKERS AFTER 4 YEARS OF EXCELLENT JOB FOR THEM . THEY REFUSE TO REPAIR US AS THE COMPANY HAS BEEN ALREADY DOING IT FOR ANY PLANT THAT SHE CLOSES IN ANY COUNTRY.SINCE 4 MAI 2007 , FRANTZ PILORGE USED THE WORKERS VERY BADLY WITHOUT MONEY AND SAYS TO HANES THAT HE GET PAID FULL COMPENSATION HE LIES ! HE LIES ! HE LIES ! IT'S FOR SO THAT WE INVITE THE RESPONSIBLES OF HUMAN RIGHTS TO COME IN HAITI TO DO THE LIGHT ON THIS CRISIS !!! AS PILORGE SAYS THAT HE IS WILLING TO FORGE THE RESPONSIBLES OF HANES TO DAMAGE THE WORKERS BECAUSE THE WAY FROM HANES TO CLOSE CD APPAREL [HG] HAS BEEN BRUTAL AND ILLEGAL BUT THEY REFUSE TO DO IT AS RICHARD NOLL AND GERALD EVANS GET DONE IT FOR EACH PLANT CLOSED IN ANY COUNTRY . FOR THAT PILORGE FRANTZ PUSH THE WORKERS TO FIGHT HANES UNTIL THE VICTORY CAUSE THE ACT OF HANES IS A DISCRIMATION AND CRIMINAL !!! GOD BLESSES THE WORKERS IN THE WORLD !

... WE KEEP SINCE 4 MAI 2007 : 6 CONTENERS OF FINISHED GOOD, LOGO OF HANES, 2 CONTENERS CARTONS, 480.000 PIECES T- SHIRTS, MACHINES WITHOUT FORGETING MOON WORK LOTS IN DEVIATION FOR SARALEE !!!
YOU HAVE TO KNOW THAT FRANTZ PILORGE LET US UNDERSTAND WHAT ALL OF YOU ARE MERCHANT CRIMINAL MAKING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST HAITI'S WORKERS SO, HE GET WILLING TO DEMAND YOU PAYING THE WORKERS BUT YOU REFUSE .BY THIS ACT HE CONSIDER ALL OF YOU LIKE A SATAN AND BEN LADEN !!!
DO NOT FORGET THE BRANDS AND STYLE OF T-SHIRTS THAT WE KEEP[BY HAITIAN LAW] FOR HANES [HBI] ARE : PRINTABLES, CASUAL WEAR, 5250, 5280, SM80, 5170. UNTIL WE GET DAMAGE AND REPAIRS ON HANESBRANDS !!! GOD BLESSES THE WORKERS IN THE WORLD !

ouvrierscdapparel said...

ALL THE HAITIAN PEOPLE STAND WITH THE WORKERS AT CD APPAREL[HG] FOR DAMAGE AND REPAIR ON HANES AND FRANTZ PILORGE [OWNER OF CD APPAREL IN HAITI] AFTER 4 YEARS OF EXCELLENT SERVICES FOR THEM WHERE MORE THAN 500 WORKERS ARE UNDER THE BRIDGE WITHOUT DAMAGE CAUSE PILORGE AND HANES MAKE-ONE TO BLOW THE WORKERS IN THEIR BAD SITUATION !!!