Monday, September 08, 2008



Keep Military Recruiters OUT of our Schools!

We don't want the schools used to recruit our children for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!

Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC)-is a military recruitment program scheduled to be phased-out of our schools by June 2009 by the San Francisco Board of Education. JROTC doesn't teach students the realities of war: that they are likely to kill civilians, or that they are more likely to die or return with devastating mental and physical disabilities than earn college degrees.

Proposition V argues that students should have a "choice" to enroll in JROTC, but if they join the military they have no choice about killing or dying. JROTC is a military recruitment program, and it does not belong in our schools!

JROTC is not the way to keep kids away from gangs. There are peaceful ways to keep kids safe. JROTC is not a leadership program. It teaches unquestioning obedience in preparation for military service.

The School Board's decision to end JROTC has set a precedent for communities nationwide. Let's not allow it to be reversed.

Join parents everywhere trying to save their children from being sent to fight these unjust and illegal wars!

We want funding for education, healthcare, the environment, and jobs, not war! U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan now!

Bay Area United Against War
P.O. Box 318021, San Francisco, CA 94131-8021, 415-824-8730,


A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition Film Series “Machuca”
Thurs. Sept. 11, 7:30pm
ATA (Artists’ Television Access), 992 Valencia St. at 21st, SF
$6 donation, no one turned away for lack of funds.

Call 415-821-6545 for more info.


Open Letter to the U.S. Antiwar Movement

The following “Open letter to the U.S. Antiwar Movement” was adopted by the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations on July 13, 2008. We urge antiwar organizations around the country to endorse the letter. Please send notice of endorsements to

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

In the coming months, there will be a number of major actions mobilizing opponents of U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan to demand “Bring the Troops Home Now!” These will include demonstrations at the Democratic and Republican Party conventions, pre-election mobilizations like those on October 11 in a number of cities and states, and the December 9-14 protest activities. All of these can and should be springboards for very large bi-coastal demonstrations in the spring.

Our movement faces this challenge: Will the spring actions be unified with all sections of the movement joining together to mobilize the largest possible outpouring on a given date? Or will different antiwar coalitions set different dates for actions that would be inherently competitive, the result being smaller and less powerful expressions of support for the movement’s “Out Now!” demand?

We appeal to all sections of the movement to speak up now and be heard on this critical question. We must not replicate the experience of recent years during which the divisions in the movement severely weakened it to the benefit of the warmakers and the detriment of the millions of victims of U.S. aggressions, interventions and occupations.

Send a message. Urge – the times demand it! – united action in the spring to ensure a turnout which will reflect the majority’s sentiments for peace. Ideally, all major forces in the antiwar movement would announce jointly, or at least on the same day, an agreed upon date for the spring demonstrations.

The National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations will be glad to participate in the process of selecting a date for spring actions that the entire movement can unite around. One way or another, let us make sure that comes spring we will march in the streets together, demanding that the occupations be ended, that all the troops and contractors be withdrawn immediately, and that all U.S. military bases be closed.

In solidarity and peace,

National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations


OCTOBER 11, 2008 End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Now!

Dear Readers,

The date of October 11, 2008 was designated as a day of localized national actions against the war at the National Assembly to End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this past June. Demonstrations are already being planned. Here is the call from the Greater Boston area--hopefully we can pull something together for October ll here in San Francisco.

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War

Hi all,

Below is an outreach letter that will be going out to various organizational lists
and individuals all over the Greater Boston area. Please feel free to circulate
this letter as an example of what is happening in Boston as you seek support
for October 11 in your various localities.

Adelante (forward),
John Harris
Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition

Dear Friends,

March, 2008 ushered in the sixth year of war and occupation “without end” on Iraq . In an act of arrogance and impunity, Congress in a bipartisan vote approved another
$162 billion in funding for the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan . Stepped up threats against Iran and the increased likelihood of a U.S. troop “surge” into Afghanistan point to an imperative for action and an independent voice from the peace and justice movement.

In light of these developments, grass roots forces from around the country gathered together at the end of June for the National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation in Cleveland, Ohio. At the conference an action plan for the months ahead was discussed and approved in a democratic vote. As part of this plan, over 95 percent voted in favor of supporting pre-election protests being organized in cities and localities around the country on October 11, 2008.

It was on October 11, 2002 that Congress approved the “ Iraq War Resolution” granting the Bush administration authorization to invade Iraq . The weeks ahead promise to be filled with debate as the election campaigns gear up. Instead of being spectators who watch the media pundits put their spin on the political pronouncements of the candidates, the October 11 protests present us with an opportunity to be engaged in injecting our agenda, the antiwar agenda, into the intensifying debate.

Please join us in an initial planning meeting as we prepare a Boston protest demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all occupation forces from Iraq and the closing of all military bases. All are invited. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Saturday, August 9, 3:00 PM
Encuentro 5
33 Harrison Avenue, 5th Floor
Boston (in Chinatown )

In Peace and Solidarity,

Marilyn Levin
*Arlington/Lexington United for Justice with Peace, New England United

Liam Madden
*IVAW – Boston Chapter

Suren Moodliar
Mass Global Action

Ann Glick
Newton Dialogues for Peace

Nate Goldshlag
Smedley D. Butler Brigade, Chapter 9 Veterans for Peace

Paul Shannon
American Friends Service Committee

John Harris
Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition

* Organization for identification purposes only


A.N.S.W.E.R.Calendar of Upcoming Anti-war Events

Bring the Anti-War Movement to Inauguration Day in D.C.

January 20, 2009: Join thousands to demand "Bring the troops home now!"

On January 20, 2009, when the next president proceeds up Pennsylvania Avenue he will see thousands of people carrying signs that say US Out of Iraq Now!, US Out of Afghanistan Now!, and Stop the Threats Against Iran! As in Vietnam it will be the people in the streets and not the politicians who can make the difference.

On March 20, 2008, in response to a civil rights lawsuit brought against the National Park Service by the Partnership for Civil Justice on behalf of the ANSWER Coalition, a Federal Court ruled for ANSWER and determined that the government had discriminated against those who brought an anti-war message to the 2005 Inauguration. The court barred the government from continuing its illegal practices on Inauguration Day.

The Democratic and Republican Parties have made it clear that they intend to maintain the occupation of Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and threaten a new war against Iran.

Both Parties are completely committed to fund Israel’s on-going war against the Palestinian people. Both are committed to spending $600 billion each year so that the Pentagon can maintain 700 military bases in 130 countries.

On this the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we are helping to build a nationwide movement to support working-class communities that are being devastated while the country’s resources are devoted to war and empire for for the sake of transnational banks and corporations.

Join us and help organize bus and car caravans for January 20, 2009, Inauguration Day, so that whoever is elected president will see on Pennsylvania Avenue that the people want an immediate end to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and to halt the threats against Iran.

From Iraq to New Orleans, Fund Peoples Needs Not the War Machine!

We cannot carry out these actions withour your help. Please take a moment right now to make an urgently needed donation by clicking this link:

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311


From: Radical Women, 5018 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
Contact: Anne Slater: office 206-722-6057; cell 206-708-5161; home 206-722-3812


Radical Women Conference Aims to Expand and Embolden Feminist Movement
October 2 - 6
Women's Building
3543 18th Street,in the Mission District, near the 16th Street BART stop.
Wheelchair accessible.
Registration is $15 per day; students and low income $7.50 per day.
Register at
For more information, phone 206-722-6057.

Radical Women Conference Aims to Expand and Embolden Feminist Movement

Optimistic rebels from all walks of life are invited to participate in a national Radical Women conference, „The Persistent Power of Socialist Feminism,‰ to be held at the San Francisco Women‚s Building, October 3-6, 2008. The major goal of the four-day public event is to produce a concrete education and action plan to focus and strengthen the feminist movement. Speakers include activists and scholars from Central America, China, Australia and the U.S.

Highlights on Friday, Oct. 2 include a 9:30am keynote address by Nellie Wong on „Women and revolution˜alive and inseparable.‰ Wong is an acclaimed Chinese-American poet, whose works include Stolen Moments, the Death of Long Steam Lady, and Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park. A former Senior Analyst of Affirmative Action, she is also a founding member of Unbound Feet, an Asian American writers group. Afterwards, Laura Mannen will present proposals and spearhead a discussion on how to build a strong, independent, grassroots U.S. feminist movement. Mannen is a bilingual teacher, mother of two and seasoned antiwar organizer from Portland, Oregon. The afternoon will feature a roundtable of female unionists on „Standing our ground on labor‚s frontlines.‰

At 7:30pm Friday evening Lynne Stewart will address „Radical dissent: The righteous response to an unjust system.‰ Stewart, embattled human rights attorney, was convicted in 2005 of providing support for terrorism by delivering a handwritten press release to Reuters from a client. Though prosecutors sought a 30-year prison term, Stewart was sentenced to serve 28 months. The shorter sentence, the judge said, was in recognition of her „service to the nation‰ as a representative of the poor and unpopular. The government is appealing her shorter sentence. Stewart is appealing the conviction.

„Magnificent warriors: female leadership in the global freedom struggle, ‰ a panel presentation on Saturday, October 4 at 9:00am, will include Debbie Brennan, workplace delegate for the Australian Services Union and Melbourne RW president; Dr. Raya Fidel, an Israeli-American feminist and supporter of Palestinian rights; Patricia Ramos, a Costa Rican labor lawyer and leading organizer against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA); and Wang Zheng, a University of Michigan Women‚s Studies professor and co-chair of the U.S. based Chinese Society for Women's Studies.

Christina López, Chicana-Apache advocate for reproductive justice and frontrunner in the battle for rights for undocumented workers, will present her paper „Estamos en la lucha: Immigrant women light the fires of resistance‰ at 11:30am.

Interactive workshops in the afternoon include Challenging the Minutemen; ABC‚s of Marxist feminism; Women‚s stake in the struggle for union democracy; Federally funded childcare NOW; End the war on women˜in Iraq, Afghanistan and the U.S.; On the barricades for reproductive justice; Confronting movement sexism; Free trade is a feminist issue; and Young queer radical˜what are we fighting for?

Sunday, Oct. 5 begins at 9:00am with a panel on „The galvanizing impact of multiracial organizing in a society divided by racism.‰ Sharing first-hand experiences will be author Christina López of Seattle, reproductive rights activist Toni Mendicino of San Francisco, and campus organizer Emily Woo Yamasaki of New York City.

The remainder of Sunday will be devoted to issues and skills workshops. Topics include Power to the poor!; Radical campus organizing; For affirmative action not „civil wrongs‰; Alternative feminist radio; Radical youth and rebel elders; Disabled rights activists on RX for toxic healthcare. There will also be sessions on getting media attention, confident speaking and writing, knowing your rights as a worker, and producing effective fliers and banners.

The conference concludes on Monday, Oct 6, 10:00am with a National Organizer‚s report and action plan presented by Anne Slater, veteran campaigner for queer rights, the environment and women‚s equality.

All sessions will be held at the Women‚s Building, 3543 18th St., in the Mission District, near the 16th Street BART stop. Wheelchair accessible. Registration is $15 per day; students and low income $7.50 per day. Register at For more information, phone 206-722-6057.


Iraq Union Leader Attacked, Beaten, Almost Kidnapped, Shot at and Target of Death Threats
Register Your Protest:


Take Action to Defend RNC Protesters!
Stop the Police Riot in St. Paul!
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311




1) 24/7 School Reform
The Way We Live Now
September 7, 2008

2) Fuel Prices Squeeze School Districts
Published: September 5, 2008

3) A playful Army experience at Franklin Mills
By Robert Moran
Posted on Fri, Aug. 29, 2008

4) U.S. Unveils Takeover of Two Mortgage Giants
September 8, 2008

5) Soviet Union's Fall Unraveled Enclave in Georgia
September 7, 2008

6) The Power of De
Op-Ed Columnist
September 8, 2008

7) Evidence Points to Civilian Toll in Afghan Raid
September 8, 2008

8) Few Stand to Gain on This Bailout, and Many Lose
September 8, 2008


1) 24/7 School Reform
The Way We Live Now
September 7, 2008

In an election season when Democrats find themselves unusually unified on everything from tax policy to foreign affairs, one issue still divides them: education. It is a surprising fault line, perhaps, given the party’s long dominance on the issue. Voters consistently say they trust the Democrats over the Republicans on education, by a wide margin. But the split in the party is real, deep and intense, and it shows no signs of healing any time soon.

On one side are the members of the two huge teachers’ unions and the many parents who support them. To them, the big problem in public education is No Child Left Behind, President Bush’s signature education law. Teachers have many complaints about the law: it encourages “teaching to the test” at the expense of art, music and other electives, they say; it blames teachers, especially those in inner-city schools, for the poor performance of disadvantaged children; and it demands better results without providing educators with the resources they need.

On the other side are the party’s self-defined “education reformers.” Members of this group — a loose coalition of mayors and superintendents, charter-school proponents and civil rights advocates — actually admire the accountability provisions in No Child Left Behind, although they often criticize the law’s implementation. They point instead to a bigger, more systemic crisis. These reformers describe the underperformance of the country’s schoolchildren, and especially of poor minorities, as a national crisis that demands a drastic overhaul of the way schools are run. In order to get better teachers into failing classrooms, they support performance bonuses, less protection for low-performing teachers, alternative certification programs to attract young, ambitious teachers and flexible contracts that could allow for longer school days and an extended school year. The unions see these proposals as attacks on their members’ job security — which, in many ways, they are.

As the fall campaign and a new school year begin, both the unionists and the reformers find themselves distracted by the same question: Which side is Barack Obama on? Each camp has tried to claim him as its own — and Obama, for his part, has done his best to make it easy for them. He reassures the unions by saying he will reform No Child Left Behind so teachers will no longer “be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests,” and he placates reformers by calling himself a “strong champion of charter schools.” The reformers point to his speech in July to the National Education Association, during which he was booed, briefly, for endorsing changes to teachers’ compensation structure. The unionists, in turn, emphasize his speech a week later to the American Federation of Teachers, during which he said, “I am tired of hearing you, the teachers who work so hard, blamed for our problems.” On blogs and at conferences, the two sides have continued to snipe at each other, all the while parsing Obama’s speeches and policy pronouncements, looking for new clues to his true positions.

It’s possible, though, that both camps are looking in the wrong place for answers. What is most interesting and novel about Obama’s education plans is how much they involve institutions other than schools.

The American social contract has always identified public schools as the one place where the state can and should play a role in the process of child-rearing. Outside the school’s walls (except in cases of serious abuse or neglect), society is seen to have neither a right nor a responsibility to intervene. But a new and growing movement of researchers and advocates has begun to argue that the longstanding and sharp conceptual divide between school and not-school is out of date. It ignores, they say, overwhelming evidence of the impact of family and community environments on children’s achievement. At the most basic level, it ignores the fact that poor children, on average, arrive in kindergarten far behind their middle-class peers. There is evidence that schools can do a lot to erase that divide, but the reality is that most schools do not. If we truly want to counter the effects of poverty on the achievement of children, these advocates argue, we need to start a whole lot earlier and do a whole lot more.

The three people who have done the most to propel this nascent movement are James J. Heckman, Susan B. Neuman and Geoffrey Canada — though each of them comes at the problem from a different angle, and none of them would necessarily cite the other two as close allies. Heckman, an occasional informal Obama adviser, is an economist at the University of Chicago, and in a series of recent papers and books he has developed something of a unified theory of American poverty. More than ever before, Heckman argues, the problem of persistent poverty is at its root a problem of skills — what economists often call human capital. Poor children grow into poor adults because they are never able, either at home or at school, to acquire the abilities and resources they need to compete in a high-tech service-driven economy — and Heckman emphasizes that those necessary skills are both cognitive (the ability to read and compute) and noncognitive (the ability to stick to a schedule, to delay gratification and to shake off disappointments). The good news, Heckman says, is that specific interventions in the lives of poor children can diminish that skill gap — as long as those interventions begin early (ideally in infancy) and continue throughout childhood.

What kind of interventions? Well, that’s where the work of Susan Neuman becomes relevant. In 2001, Neuman, an education scholar at the University of Michigan, was recruited to a senior position in George W. Bush’s Department of Education, helping to oversee the development and then the implementation of No Child Left Behind. She quit in 2003, disillusioned with the law, and became convinced that its central goal — to raise disadvantaged children to a high level of achievement through schools alone — was simply impossible. Her work since then can be seen as something of a vast mea culpa for her time in Washington. After leaving government, Neuman spent several years crisscrossing the nation, examining and analyzing programs intended to improve the lives of disadvantaged children. Her search has culminated in a book, “Changing the Odds for Children at Risk,” to be published in November, in which she describes nine nonschool interventions. She includes the Nurse-Family Partnership, which sends trained nurses to visit and counsel poor mothers during and after their pregnancies; Early Head Start, a federal program, considerably more ambitious than Head Start itself, that offers low-income families parental support, medical care and day-care centers during the first three years of the lives of their children; Avance, a nine-month language-enrichment program for Spanish-speaking parents, mostly immigrants from Mexico, that operates in Texas and Los Angeles; and Bright Beginnings, a pre-K program in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in North Carolina that enrolls 4-year-olds who score the lowest on a screening test of cognitive ability and manages to bring most of them up to grade level by the first day of kindergarten.

Neuman’s favorite programs share certain characteristics — they start early, focus on the families that need them the most and provide intensive support. Many of the interventions work with parents to make home environments more stimulating; others work directly with children to improve their language development (a critical factor in later school success). All of them, Neuman says, demonstrate impressive results. The problem right now is that the programs are isolated and scattered across the country, and they are usually directed at only a few years of a child’s life, which means that their positive effects tend to fade once the intervention ends.

This is where Geoffrey Canada comes in. He runs the first and so far the only organization in the country that pulls together under a single umbrella integrated social and educational services for thousands of children at once. Canada’s agency, the Harlem Children’s Zone, has a $58 million budget this year, drawn mostly from private donors; it currently serves 8,000 kids in a 97-block neighborhood of Harlem. (I’ve spent the last five years reporting on his organization’s work and its implications for the country.) Canada shares many of the views of the education reformers — he runs two intensive K-12 charter schools with extended hours and no union contract — but at the same time he offers what he calls a “conveyor belt” of social programs, beginning with Baby College, a nine-week parenting program that encourages parents to choose alternatives to corporal punishment and to read and talk more with their children. As students progress through an all-day prekindergarten and then through a charter school, they have continuous access to community supports like family counseling, after-school tutoring and a health clinic, all designed to mimic the often-invisible cocoon of support and nurturance that follows middle-class and upper-middle-class kids through their childhoods. The goal, in the end, is to produce children with the abilities and the character to survive adolescence in a high-poverty neighborhood, to make it to college and to graduate.

Though the conveyor belt is still being constructed in Harlem, early results are positive. Last year, the charter schools’ inaugural kindergarten class reached third grade and took their first New York state achievement tests: 68 percent of the students passed the reading test, which beat the New York City average and came within two percentage points of the state average, and 97 percent of them passed the math test, well above both the city and state average.

Obama has embraced, directly or indirectly, all three of these new thinkers. His campaign invited Heckman to critique its education policy, and Obama has proposed large-scale expansions of two of Neuman’s chosen interventions, the Nurse-Family Partnership and Early Head Start. Most ambitiously, Obama has pledged to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone in 20 cities across the country. “The philosophy behind the project is simple,” Obama said in a speech last year announcing his plan. “If poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence, failing schools and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community. And we have to focus on what actually works.”

Obama has proposed that these replication projects, which he has labeled Promise Neighborhoods, be run as private/public partnerships, with the federal government providing half the funds and the rest being raised by local governments and private philanthropies and businesses. It would cost the federal government “a few billion dollars a year,” he acknowledged in his speech. “But we will find the money to do this, because we can’t afford not to.”

It remains to be seen, of course, whether Obama will convince voters with this position, and whether, if elected, he will do the heavy lifting required to put such an ambitious national program in place. There are many potential obstacles. A lot of conservatives would oppose a new multibillion-dollar federal program as a Great Society-style giveaway to the poor. And many liberals are wary of any program that tries to change the behavior of inner-city parents; to them, teaching poor parents to behave more like middle-class parents can feel paternalistic. Union leaders will find it hard to support an effort that has nonunion charter schools at its heart. Education reformers often support Canada’s work, but his premise — that schools alone are not enough to make a difference in poor children’s lives — makes many of them anxious. And in contrast to the camps arrayed on either side of the school-reform debate, there is no natural constituency for the initiative: no union or interest group that stands to land new jobs or new contracts, no deep-pocketed philanthropy devoted to spreading the message.

The real challenge Obama faces is to convince voters that the underperformance of poor children is truly a national issue — that it should matter to anyone who isn’t poor. Heckman, especially, argues that we should address the problem not out of any mushy sense of moral obligation, but for hardheaded reasons of global competitiveness. At a moment when nations compete mostly through the skill level of their work force, he argues, we cannot afford to let that level decline.

Obama’s contention is that the traditional Democratic solution — more money for public schools — is no longer enough. In February, in an interview with the editorial board of The Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee, he called for “a cultural change in education in inner-city communities and low-income communities across the country — not just inner-city, but also rural.” In many low-income communities, Obama said, “there’s this sense that education is somehow a passive activity, and you tip your head over and pour education in somebody’s ear. And that’s not how it works. So we’re going to have to work with parents.”

In the end, the kind of policies that Obama is proposing will require an even broader cultural change — not just in the way poor Americans think about education but also in the way middle-class Americans think about poverty. And that won’t be easy. No matter how persuasive the statistics Heckman is able to muster or how impressive the results that Canada is able to achieve, many Americans will continue to simply blame parents or teachers for the underperformance of poor kids. Obama’s challenge — if he decides to take it on — will be to convince voters that society as a whole has a crucial role to play in the lives of disadvantaged children, not just in the classroom but outside schools as well.

Paul Tough is an editor at the magazine. His book, “Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America,” will be published next week.


2) Fuel Prices Squeeze School Districts
Published: September 5, 2008

SCHOOL budgets are the rock. Surging fuel costs are the hard place. Crushed in between are districts across the area, beginning the school year with fleets of buses that typically get six miles to the gallon.

As the cost of diesel fuel has soared well past what many districts budgeted for last spring, school officials are rethinking their transportation needs, making big-ticket spending cuts and a host of surgical trims.

Some districts are eliminating field trips and after-school buses. Many are consolidating routes, causing some students to walk farther to their stops and others to lose their buses altogether. They are holding off on new teachers, counselors and textbooks, and teaming with neighboring districts for prekindergarten, special education and private school transportation.

“It’s affecting everybody, everywhere,” said Ingrid Reitano, president of the School Transportation Supervisors of New Jersey and transportation supervisor for Monroe Township in Middlesex County. “People are going to be giving up some things.”

How much will become clearer in the first weeks of school, when ridership patterns and bus routes firm up. But with fuel prices volatile (diesel costs have begun to level nationally at about $4.26 a gallon, up from $2.92 at this time last year), administrators are preparing for a year of budget nips and tucks and long-term strategizing.

They are not alone. In a national survey of superintendents released in July by the American Association of School Administrators, 99 percent said that rising fuel costs had forced across-the-board cuts.

“Everything is on the table,” said William Clark, chief operating officer for New Haven Public Schools, which is paying $1.9 million this year for fuel to transport 20,000 students, $623,571 more than last year.

New Haven, Connecticut’s second-largest district, has focused on consolidating bus runs. “You’re finding the furthest point out and picking up as many kids as you can on the way to school,” Mr. Clark said.

New Haven is also adjusting “bell times” to better “flow the routes” among its 50-odd schools, he said, and shoehorning field trips into the hours its 268 buses are contracted for.

Such efficiencies allowed the system to add a new school this year without adding the six new buses that it would normally have been required to contract for, at a cost of $68,000 per year per bus, said Teddi Barra, New Haven’s transportation director. If costs get worse, field trips may go, Mr. Clark said, along with other expenditures not required by the state, like after-school buses.

Field trips have already taken a hit in the Middle Country school district on Long Island, where Roberta A. Gerold, the schools superintendent, faced a 45 percent increase in fuel costs. “Where we have local field trips and can hire coaches” — meaning private buses — “we’ll try to do that,” she said. Students will take more “virtual field trips,” exploring places by computer, she said.

In New Jersey, some districts plan to pare “courtesy busing” for students who live closer than the distance required by the state for free busing — two miles for elementary students and two and a half miles for high school. Steven Cea, business manager for West Milford Township schools, is making cuts as he tries to cover an expected transportation shortfall of $78,000. About 3,500 students could be affected in the district, which covers 80 square miles, Mr. Cea said.

West Milford is reorganizing bus routes and teaming with districts to transport special-needs students and athletic teams, an approach many districts have taken or are considering.

To save on fuel costs, many districts in Connecticut have joined fuel-buying consortiums. Fred Hurley, the Newtown district’s director of public works, locked in diesel at $3.07 a gallon in March with the Capitol Region Purchasing Council.

In New York and New Jersey, districts often save money by buying fuel under a state bid. But many private bus companies provide their own fuel and have contracts that allow them to impose surcharges when fuel prices rise. Some districts are hoping to gain control of costs by curtailing such contracts and expanding their own fleets.

Ms. Reitano, the transportation supervisor in Monroe, N.J., fuels her 64 in-house buses, eight of which she added this year, with diesel bought under a state contract. About 75 percent of her fleet is district-owned, she said. “We can run our own buses for less money,” she said.

The Middle Country district is seeking savings through alternative fuels. It added one compressed-natural-gas-powered bus to its 120-bus fleet this year, and won bond approval last May for 18 more, Ms. Gerold, the superintendent, said.

IN Piscataway, N.J., where transportation costs are up about 4.5 percent from last year, the district bought 22 new buses this year to supplement 107 buses run by private companies with fuel-included contracts, said Brian DeLucia, business administrator for the Piscataway Township Schools. The district also signed on to the state’s fuel-purchasing contract. “We’re projecting a solid $200,000 — a nice little chunk of change — in savings this year,” he said.

For some districts, particularly those in the middle of multiyear agreements, such arrangements may simply postpone the pain. Brad A. Cohen, vice president of B and B Transportation in Bethany, Conn., said that some of his school contracts last year left him covering diesel increases, even as his costs for tires, parts and repairs increased.

In the future, B and B will put fuel clauses in every contract to pass on costs to districts, said Mr. Cohen, whose 75 buses serve three public school districts, Woodbridge, Bethany and Amity, and seven private schools.

Some districts are already getting a preview of the higher costs: In Milford, Conn., the price for busing of private school students tutored out-of-district went up 20 to 30 percent, said Phillip Russell, deputy superintendent of operations. And when Yonkers recently put out a bid for vans to be used during the school day, “the bids came back about 80 percent higher than the previous year we’d bid them out,” said Jerrilynne Fierstein, the district’s communications director. “We decided not to get them.”

Federal relief may be coming. Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York plans to introduce bills this month calling for the Energy Department to award emergency grants to low-income districts and to expand tax credits to make hybrid school buses more affordable. Whether districts will invest in hybrids, which can cost $100,000 more than diesel buses, is far from certain.

“I don’t think in this climate you’re going to see districts going out and replacing buses that they don’t immediately need to replace,” said Lisa P. Davis, executive director of the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association. “You’re going to find districts looking at ways to improve efficiency within what they’re already doing.”
A version of this article appeared in print on September 7, 2008, on page NJ3 of the New York edition.


3) A playful Army experience at Franklin Mills
By Robert Moran
Posted on Fri, Aug. 29, 2008

Across from the skate park at Franklin Mills Mall, the Army has opened a high-tech recruiting experiment to give potential sign-ups a taste of what military life is like.

The 14,500 square-feet Army Experience Center features Disney-grade simulators that immerse visitors in missions aboard helicopters or a humvee. Visitors are re briefed on their missions at the TOC, or tactical operations center, which looks like a set from a Tom Clancy thriller.

Banks of Xbox 360s with plush chairs include speakers in the headrests. Participants can play popular "shooter" games like "Call of Duty 3" or kick back and just play "Madden 09" football.

As younger generations become increasingly tech-savvy and their habits and routines change, Army recruitment strategies are changing with them.

"You can come in here and be put in the life of a soldier," said Amy Lindstrom, who handled public relations for today's opening

Large touch-screen displays explain the more than 150 job types in the Army. One display uses Google Earth to identify Army bases around the world and has narration that explains the type of recreation and dining outside each base.

Anyone can walk in to look around, but to use or participate in anything, visitors must be at least 13, and then register and obtain a type of membership card. That means providing age and contact information.

Sgt. 1st Class Phil Cianchetti said a registrant can opt not to be contacted or receive any mail or e-mail.

"It's not, 'Hey, we got you phone number and address. We're going to send someone right over,' " Cianchetti said. "It's not that way at all."

And part of the strategy is to encourage passive recruitment. For example, the "Career Configurator" station lets people learn about jobs in the Army. They can touch the "contact a recruiter" button on the screen and a name, address, phone number and e-mail address for a recruiter pops up. If they want, they can then leave.

"Without talking to somebody, they can learn on their own," said Maj. Larry Dillard, project manager for the new center.

Since younger people are spending more time indoors playing video games or surfing the Internet, "what we did was, we got into their territory," said Cianchetti.

There are also a few things they can't get at home.

The stand-out attractions are the simulators of the UH-60 Black Hawk, the AH-64 Apache and the HMMWV, or humvee.

The Black Hawk simulator allows a visitor to sit in a gunner position as the helicopter flies above a convoy through hostile mountainous terrain. Once the mission begins, giant video screens encompass a player's vision with the battlefield. The Black Hawk vibrates and fans blow air to replicate the sensation of flying with the doors open.

It's realistic enough to be disorienting.

Players can fire a replica carbine rifle at enemy targets, and the rifle actually gives something of a kick.

It's cool, and that's the point. It's likely that not too many kids would sign up if the simulator made participants eat sand while carrying 70 pounds of gear on their backs.

The Army Experience Center is open during general mall hours.


4) U.S. Unveils Takeover of Two Mortgage Giants
September 8, 2008

WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department seized control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation’s giant quasi-public mortgage finance companies, and announced a four-part rescue plan that includes an open-ended guarantee from the Treasury Department to provide as much capital as they need to stave off insolvency.

At a news conference on Sunday morning, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. also announced that he had dismissed the chief executives of both companies and replaced them with two long-time financial executives. Herbert M. Allison, currently chairman of TIAA-CREF, the huge pension fund for teachers, will take over Fannie Mae and replace the chief executive, Daniel Mudd. David M. Moffett, currently a senior adviser at the Carlyle Group, one of the country’s biggest private equity firms, will replace Richard Syron as chief executive of Freddie Mac.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so large and so interwoven in our financial system that a failure of either of them would cause great turmoil in our financial markets here at home and around the globe,” Mr. Paulson said. “This turmoil would directly and negatively impact household wealth: from family budgets, to home values, to savings for college and retirement. A failure would affect the ability of Americans to get home loans, auto loans and other consumer credit and business finance. And a failure would be harmful to economic growth and job creation.”

Mr. Paulson refused to say how much capital the government might eventually have to provide, or what the ultimate cost to taxpayers might be.

The companies are likely to need tens of billions of dollars over the next year, but the utlimate cost to taxpayers will largely depend on how and how fast the housing and mortgage markets recover from their current crisis.

Mr. Paulson’s plan begins with a pledge to provide extra cash by buying up a new series of preferred shares that would offer dividends and be senior to both both the existing preferred shares and the common stock that investors around the world already hold.

The two companies would be allowed to “modestly increase” the size of their existing investment portfolios until the end of 2009, which means they will be allowed to use some of their new taxpayer-supplied capital to buy up and hold new mortgages in investment portfolios.

But in a strong indication of Mr. Paulson’s long-term intention to wind down the companies’ portfolios, the Treasury plan states that they must shrink their portfolios by 10 percent a year until they each total $250 billion. They now hold more than $700 billion apiece.

That covenant in the agreement responds to many in the Bush administration and in the private sector who had argued for years that Fannie and Freddie posed “systemic risks” to the entire economy because they had acquired more than $5 trillion in assets with only the thinnest of capital cushions to shield them from losses.

Treasury officials had little choice. With the credit markets still in a tailspin and investors deeply reluctant to buy up mortgages with even a hint of risk, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac currently guarantee about 70 percent of all new home loans, according to James B. Lockhart, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Mr. Paulson said the Treasury Department would provide as much money as needed to keep the companies’ capital reserves from falling below the levels that would trigger rules that automatically put them into receivership.

In addition, the Treasury Department will create a “Secured Lending Credit Facility,” a back-up source of borrowing for the companies in the event they cannot borrow enough money on the open market to finance their main business of buying mortgages and re-selling them as pools of mortgage-backed securities.

In a possibly unprecedented move into ther private markets, the Treasury Department will also buy up billions of dollars in Fannie and Freddie mortgage securities on the open market. This move is likely to make it much easier for the companies to finance somewhat riskier loans.


5) Soviet Union's Fall Unraveled Enclave in Georgia
September 7, 2008

TSKHINVALI, Georgia — It is not easy for Ireya Alborova to root
through the events that cracked this city in half, but one small
bright memory stands out from 1989, when she glanced at the building
across the street from her high school and spotted a flag.

It was a small Georgian flag, fixed in an attic window. Ms. Alborova
was an unruly 15-year-old, preoccupied with her friends and her
classes, and she took it in — a small piece of information — and kept
walking. But now she thinks of it as the first signal of what was coming.

Most of the world now knows what happened: South Ossetians and
Georgians began a drawn-out war to control this sleepy valley, where
the main feature is a road that cuts through the Caucasian ridge into
Russia. That flared into a global standoff last month, when Georgia
pounded Tskhinvali, the capital of the South Ossetian enclave, with
rocket fire and Russian troops poured across the border in response.

But for Ms. Alborova's family, which is partly Georgian but wound up
on the Ossetian side of the conflict, the crucial event took place
during the last months of the Soviet Union, when the fabric of a
multiethnic society tore apart with breathtaking speed. For the past
18 years, in a city encircled by Georgian positions, the family and
its neighbors have been reliving the rifts and betrayals of that period.

Her Aunt Fuza's neighbor, a Georgian woman, crossed ethnic lines to
pass on a warning that an attack on Ossetians was planned — and then
disappeared. A checkpoint appeared between Tskhinvali and her mother's
ancestral village, cutting the Alborovas off from their Georgian
relatives. Construction suddenly halted on a huge supermarket being
built near their apartment 18 years ago, and not a day's work has been
done since then.

Its foundation was eventually picked apart to build trenches. And the
citizens of Tskhinvali became a resistance.

"It's not a question of whether you choose to or not," said Ms.
Alborova, who is now 34 and lives in Toulouse, France. "Sometimes you
are obliged. In some situations you don't choose anything."

Tskhinvali is a city of low-slung, sand-colored buildings suspended
between urban and rural life. Roosters crow in the cool of the
morning, and almost every house has its own grape arbor, used to make
sweet pink wines that are stored in plastic soda bottles and brought
out for the slightest occasion. There were also monumental
Stalinist-era apartment buildings where the elite lived, and a grand
neoclassical theater.

Ms. Alborova practically grew up in that theater. Her mother, Medeya,
was Georgian. (Though her mother's mother had been Ossetian, children
in the Caucasus take their father's ethnicity.) Medeya met Gelim
Alborov in a state folk dancing troupe, and when they married in the
1970s, unions of Georgians and Ossetians were still unremarkable.

To a teenager's eyes, the two ethnic groups were woven together
inextricably. Children in Ms. Alborova's class were given their choice
of language for classroom use, and though most of them were Ossetian,
28 out of 32 opted to study Georgian.

"Our teacher was embarrassed, " Ms. Alborova said. "No one wanted to
learn Ossetian."

In the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, some 50 miles to the southeast,
Georgia's first post-Soviet leader was emerging. Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a
longtime anti-Soviet dissident, based his campaign for the presidency
on a vaulting Georgian nationalism — an idea powerful enough to fill
the vacuum left by Communism's collapse.

The platform, known as Georgia for the Georgians, cast ethnic
Georgians, who made up 70 percent of the population, as the country's
true masters. Mr. Gamsakhurdia derided South Ossetians as newcomers,
saying they had arrived only 600 years ago and as tools of the Soviet

On the street in Tskhinvali, small changes began to appear.

Ms. Alborova's aunt was exasperated to go to the store and see that
pasta manufactured in Russia had been put in packages labeled with
Georgian script. Her neighbor Emma Gasiyeva kept hearing slogans:
"Brush them out with a broom!" and "Who are the guests, and who are
the hosts?" a reference to the theory that Ossetians had been brought
to the area as agricultural workers.

In 1989, Ms. Alborova was 15, and she saw only shadows. She heard that
her Georgian classmates were gathering for some kind of meeting, but
she was not invited. "They stopped talking to us," she said of her
Georgian neighbors. "It was done very quickly."

Over the next three years, Tskhinvali became something like Belfast in
Northern Ireland.

The government in Tbilisi established Georgian as the country's
principal language, enraging the Ossetians, whose first two languages
were Russian and Ossetian. A few months later, more than 10,000
Georgian demonstrators were transported to Tskhinvali in buses and
encircled the city, until they were repelled by Ossetian irregulars
and Soviet troops. A true war began in 1991, when thousands of
Georgian soldiers entered Tskhinvali. The city was shelled almost
nightly from the Georgian-held highlands, and Medeya Alborova recalls
holding pillows over her teenage daughters' heads, as if that could
protect them.

When Mrs. Alborova got to Tbilisi to see her relatives, it was like
stepping into a parallel universe. She sat with them watching news on
Georgian television, as the announcer recited a litany of crimes
committed by Ossetians against Georgians. At times, she said, she was
not sure she was on the right side of the conflict.

But the years made all of them harder. Even after a cease-fire in
1992, Tskhinvali was isolated from the Georgian territory around it,
and accounts of atrocities against Ossetians — rapes and grisly
killings — circulated endlessly.

Mothers, who wield enormous power in this society, urged their sons to

But Ms. Alborova found a way to leave, through a scholarship to study
in France. She arrived in Toulouse in 2001 and took in the town with
amazement; people were so focused on pleasure. She replayed her
memories from Tskhinvali, sealed off from the bright world that
surrounded her.

"I understood that I had lost 10 years of my life," she said.

Ms. Alborova returned to Tskhinvali on Aug. 24 with butterflies in her
stomach. She had expected physical damage, and it was there: bullet
holes pockmarked virtually every building. But what surprised her were
the people. Not many of them were left, and those who remained seemed

Soon after her return, Ms. Alborova was taken aback when a friend
asked her if she could kill President Mikheil Saakashvili if he were
standing in front of her. A family friend, who greeted Ms. Alborova
affectionately on Karl Marx Street, turned icy when asked about Georgians.

"They have poison in their blood," said the woman, Katya Kharebova, 60.

Many in Tskhinvali say they would welcome the return of their Georgian
neighbors. Still, it is difficult to imagine how long it will be
before these people will live together again, much less intermarry.
When history sets down the consequences of what happened on Aug. 7,
the death of a neighborhood will not be recorded.

Indeed, in 20 years, it may be hard to find Georgians and Ossetians in
this area who can talk to each other at all. Ms. Alborova's nieces,
who live in Russia with her sister, are the first generation of her
family that does not speak Georgian. Her mother shrugged, when asked
about it.

"Who's going to teach them?" she asked.


6) The Power of De
Op-Ed Columnist
September 8, 2008

Save the home lenders, save the world? If only it were that simple.

The just-announced federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant mortgage lenders, was certainly the right thing to do — and it was done fairly well, too. The plan will sustain institutions that play a crucial role in the economy, while holding down taxpayer costs by more or less cleaning out the stockholders.

But Sunday’s action needs to be seen in a larger context — that of the attempt by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to contain the fallout from the ongoing financial crisis. And that’s a fight the feds seem to be losing.

We’ve come a long way from the days when Alan Greenspan declared a national housing bubble “most unlikely.” There was indeed a bubble, and since it popped two years ago home prices have fallen faster than they did during the Great Depression.

Falling home prices, in turn, have led to the much-feared phenomenon of “debt deflation.” Yes, deflation: prices are going up at the checkout counter, but the prices of assets, which are what matter for balance sheets, are dropping fast.

As the economist Irving Fisher observed way back in 1933, when highly indebted individuals and businesses get into financial trouble, they usually sell assets and use the proceeds to pay down their debt. What Fisher pointed out, however, was that such selloffs are self-defeating when everyone does it: if everyone tries to sell assets at the same time, the resulting plunge in market prices undermines debtors’ financial positions faster than debt can be paid off. So deflation in asset prices can turn into a vicious circle. And one consequence of what he called a “stampede to liquidate” is a severe economic slump.

That’s what’s happening now, with debt deflation made especially ugly by the fact that key financial players are highly leveraged — their assets were mainly bought with borrowed money. As Paul McCulley of Pimco, the bond investor, put it in a recent essay titled “The Paradox of Deleveraging,” lately just about every financial institution has been trying to reduce its leverage — but the plunge in asset values has nonetheless left these institutions with more debt relative to their assets than before.

And the numbers keep getting worse. In July 2007 Ben Bernanke suggested that subprime losses would be less than $100 billion. Well, last month write-downs by banks and other financial institutions passed the $500 billion mark — and the hits keep coming.

Which brings us to Fannie and Freddie. They’re the only big financial institutions that haven’t joined in the rush to deleverage, which is why they now account for about 70 percent of new mortgage loans. But their financial foundations have been undermined by debt deflation, even though their lending was more responsible than average. (A subprime borrower is basically someone whose credit wasn’t good enough to qualify for a Fannie- or Freddie-backed mortgage.)

So Fannie and Freddie had to be rescued — otherwise debt deflation would have gotten much worse. Indeed, their financial troubles have already caused problems for would-be home buyers: mortgage rates are up sharply since earlier this year. With the federal takeover, which removes the pressure on the lenders’ balance sheets, we should see mortgage rates drop again — which is definitely good news.

But is it enough? I doubt it.

The current U.S. financial crisis bears a strong resemblance to the crisis that hit Japan at the end of the 1980s, and led to a decade-long slump that worried many American economists, including both Mr. Bernanke and yours truly. We wondered whether the same thing could take place here — and economists at the Fed devised strategies that were supposed to prevent that from happening. Above all, the response to a Japan-type financial crisis was supposed to involve a very aggressive combination of interest-rate cuts and fiscal stimulus, designed to prevent the crisis from spilling over into a major slump in the real economy.

When the current crisis hit, Mr. Bernanke was indeed very aggressive about cutting interest rates and pushing funds into the private sector. But despite his cuts, credit became tighter, not easier. And the fiscal stimulus was both too small and poorly targeted, largely because the Bush administration refused to consider any measure that couldn’t be labeled a tax cut.

As a result, as I suggested, the effort to contain the financial crisis seems to be failing. Asset prices are still falling, losses are still mounting, and the unemployment rate has just hit a five-year high. With each passing month, America is looking more and more Japanese.

So yes, the Fannie-Freddie rescue was a good thing. But it takes place in the context of a broader economic struggle — a struggle we seem to be losing.


7) Evidence Points to Civilian Toll in Afghan Raid
September 8, 2008

AZIZABAD, Afghanistan — To the villagers here, there is no doubt what happened in an American airstrike on Aug. 22: more than 90 civilians, the majority of them women and children, were killed.

The Afghan government, human rights and intelligence officials, independent witnesses and a United Nations investigation back up their account, pointing to dozens of freshly dug graves, lists of the dead, and cellphone videos and other images showing bodies of women and children laid out in the village mosque.

Cellphone images seen by this reporter show at least 11 dead children, some apparently with blast and concussion injuries, among some 30 to 40 bodies laid out in the village mosque. Ten days after the airstrikes, villagers dug up the last victim from the rubble, a baby just a few months old. Their shock and grief is still palpable.

For two weeks, the United States military has insisted that only 5 to 7 civilians, and 30 to 35 militants, were killed in what it says was a successful operation against the Taliban: a Special Operations ground mission backed up by American air support. But on Sunday, Gen. David D. McKiernan, the senior American commander in Afghanistan, requested that a general be sent from Central Command to review the American military investigation in light of “emerging evidence.”

“The people of Afghanistan have our commitment to get to the truth,” he said in a statement.

The military investigation drew on what military officials called convincing technical evidence documenting a far smaller number of graves than the villagers had reported, as well as a thorough sweep of this small western hamlet, a building-by-building search a few hours after the airstrikes, and a return visit on Aug. 26, which villagers insist never occurred.

The repercussions of the airstrikes have consumed both the Afghan government and the American military, wearing the patience of Afghans at all levels after repeated cases of civilian casualties over the last six years and threatening to erode their tolerance for the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai visited Azizabad on Thursday to pay his respects to the mourners, condemning the strikes, and vowing to arrest an Afghan he says misled American forces with false intelligence.

President Bush expressed his regrets and sympathy in a call to Mr. Karzai on Wednesday. And General McKiernan has issued several statements voicing sorrow for civilian casualties.

The Afghan government is demanding changes in the accords defining the United States military engagement in Afghanistan, in particular ending American military raids on villages and halting the detention of Afghan citizens.

“People are sick of hearing there is another case of civilian casualties,” one presidential aide said.

Differing Accounts

The accounts of the airstrike’s aftermath given by Afghans and Americans could not be further apart.

A visitor to the village and to three graveyards within its limits on Aug. 31 counted 42 freshly dug graves. Thirteen of the graves were so small they could hold only children; another 13 were marked with stones in the way that Afghans identify women’s graves.

Villagers questioned separately identified relatives in the graves; their names matched the accounts given by elders of the village of those who died in each of eight bomb-damaged houses and where they were buried. They were quite specific about who was killed in the airstrikes and did not count those who died for other reasons; one of the fresh graves, they said, belonged to a man who was killed when villagers demonstrated against the Afghan Army on Aug. 23.

At the battle scene, shell craters dotted the courtyards and shrapnel had gouged holes in the walls. Rooms had collapsed and mud bricks and torn clothing lay in uneven mounds where people had been digging. In two places blood was splattered on a ceiling and a wall. An old woman pushed forward with a cauldron full of jagged metal bomb fragments, and a youth presented cellphone video he said was shot on the day of the bombing; there was no time stamp.

The smell of bodies lingered in one compound, causing villagers to start digging with spades. They found the body of a baby, caked in dust, in the corner of a bombed-out room.

Cellphone images that a villager said that he shot, and seen by this reporter, showed two lines of about 20 bodies each laid out in the mosque, with the sounds of loud sobbing and villagers’ cries in the background.

An Afghan doctor who runs a clinic in a nearby village said he counted 50 to 60 bodies of civilians, most of them women and children and some of them his own patients, laid out in the village mosque on the day of the strike. The doctor, who works for a reputable nongovernmental organization here, at first gave his name but then asked that it be withheld because he feared retribution from Afghans feeding intelligence to the Americans.

The United States military, in a series of statements about the operation, has accused the villagers of spreading Taliban propaganda. Speaking on condition that their names not be used, some military officials have suggested that the villagers fabricated such evidence as grave sites — and, by implication, that other investigators had been duped. But many villagers have connections to the Afghan police, NATO or the Americans through reconstruction projects, and they say they oppose the Taliban.

The district chief of Shindand, Lal Muhammad Umarzai, 45, said he personally counted 76 bodies that day, and he believed that more bodies were unearthed over the next two days, bringing the total to more than 90. Mr. Umarzai has been praised for bringing security to the district in the three months since his appointment and is on good terms with American and NATO forces in the region.

American military investigators said that they had interviewed him and that he had told them that he had no access to the village. But Mr. Umarzai said Taliban supporters came into the village in midmorning after the airstrikes, forcing him and the police to leave the village, but that later he was able to return and attend the burials.

The United Nations issued a statement pointing to evidence it considered conclusive that about 90 civilians were killed, some 75 of them women and children. Villagers and relatives said that the bodies were scattered in different locations; many of the victims were visiting Azizabad for a family memorial ceremony, and their relatives took their bodies back to their home villages for burial. This reporter did not visit the other villages but was given a detailed list of names and places where the remaining victims were buried.

Accounts from survivors, including three people wounded in the bombing, described repeated strikes on houses where dozens of children were sleeping, grandparents and uncles and aunts huddled inside with them. Most of the village families were asleep when the shooting broke out, some sleeping out under mosquito nets in the yards of their houses, some inside the small domed rooms of their houses, lying close together on the floor, with up to 10 or 20 people in a room.

“I woke up when I heard shooting,” Zainab, a 26-year-old woman who doctors said was wounded in the attack, said in an interview in the Herat city hospital. “The shooting was very close to our house. We just stayed where we were because it was dangerous to go out. When the bombardment started there was smoke everywhere and we lay down to protect ourselves.”

Yakhakhan, 51, one of several men in the village working for a private security firm, and who uses just one name, said he heard shooting and was just coming out of his house when he saw his neighbor’s sons running.

“They were killed right here; they were 10 and 7 years old,” he said. In the compound next to his, he said, four entire families, including those of his two brothers, were killed. “They bombard us, they hate us, they kill us,” he said of the Americans. “God will punish them.”

A policeman, Abdul Hakim, whose four children were killed and whose wife was paralyzed, said she had told him how an Afghan informer accompanying the American Special Operations forces had entered the compound after the bombardment and shot dead her brother, Reza Khan; her father; and an uncle as they were trying to help her. She said she had heard her father plead for help and ask the Afghan: “Are you a Muslim? Why are you doing this to us?” Then she heard shots, and her father did not speak after that, he said.

A United States military spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, said in an e-mail message that she was unaware of such an allegation, and that the American military did not have Afghan civilian informers accompanying its forces during the mission. Soldiers treated wounded people at the scene, which indicated that the Laws of Armed Conflict were followed, she said.

No Taliban, Villagers Say

While the American forces reported they had come under fire upon entering the village, it is not clear from whom. The villagers and the relatives of some of the people killed in the raid insisted that none of them were Taliban and that there were no Taliban present in the village. Eight of the men killed were security guards supplied by Reza Khan to a private American security company and did possess weapons, said Gul Ahmed Khan, Reza Khan’s brother. Two other security guards and three members of the local Afghan police were detained by United States forces during the raid. Four of them were released a week later.

The Khan brothers are from the most prominent family in the village and were hosting the memorial ceremony for their brother, Taimoor Shah, who was killed in a business dispute a year ago. They had cards issued by an American Special Forces officer that designated each of them as a “coordinator for the U.S.S.F.” Another brother, Haji Abdul Rashid, blamed a business rival for falsely telling the Americans that their family supported the Taliban.

American military officials in Afghanistan and Washington have stood by their much lower body count. Capt. Christian Patterson, an American military spokesman at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, said that an investigating officer, a Special Forces major, visited the village after the airstrikes. Guided by aerial photographs, he visited six burial sites within a six-mile range of the attack; only one had any freshly dug graves, about 18 to 20 in total, Captain Patterson said. The 12-page investigative report does not indicate whether they were the graves of children or women. The officer did not interview villagers, he said.

Mr. Khan, whose house is just yards from the main graveyard, which contains 24 fresh graves, said no members of the American military had entered the village since Aug. 22. Villagers living around the graveyards would have seen them, he said.

The American military also said that it had found only two wounded people, a woman and a child, at the scene, and that in a survey of clinics, doctors and hospitals of the area it had found no other wounded.

U.S. Defends Operation

In a series of statements about the operation, the American military has said that extremists who entered the village after the bombardment encouraged villagers to change their story and inflate the number of dead. Yet the Afghan government and the United Nation have stood by the victims’ families and their accounts, not least because many of the families work for the Afghan government or reconstruction projects. The villagers say they oppose the Taliban and would not let them in the village.

“You can see our I.D. cards,” said a police officer, Muhammad Alam, 35, who was accused by the Americans of being a Taliban supporter and was detained for a week after the airstrikes, then released. “If the Taliban caught me, they would slaughter me.”

Two families in the village have lost men serving in the police during recent Taliban attacks. Reza Khan, whose house was the main target of the Special Operations Forces operation, and who was shot dead in the episode, was a wealthy businessman with construction and security contracts with the nearby American base at Shindand airport, and with a cellphone business in the town of Herat. A recent photo of him shows a clean-shaven, slightly portly man in a suit and tie — far from the typical look of a Taliban militant.

His brother, Haji Rashid, said the American forces “should question the people who gave them the wrong information.”

“We want them brought to trial and punished for what they have done,” he added.

His claim was supported by the district chief, Mr. Umarzai, who said, “The victims did not fire on the Americans.” He said he suspected that an informer falsely told the American forces that Taliban fighters were in the village and also staged the firefight. The gunmen first fired on the police checkpoint on the edge of the village that night, he said. “When the Americans came, they laid down heavy gunfire and then they left the area. Then the Americans called in airstrikes,” he said.

Villagers also challenged the American military’s claims that it successfully conducted its planned operation against a Taliban commander, Mullah Sadiq, and a group of his men.

A man claiming to be Mullah Sadiq called Radio Liberty several days after the raid and declared that he was alive and well and was never in the village of Azizabad that night. Reporters at the radio station, who asked not to be identified, said they knew his voice well and double checked the recording with residents of Shindand and they were sure the caller was Mullah Sadiq.

American military officials have said that the man who called the radio program was an imposter and that they are confident they killed their target.

A senior American officer who has been briefed on the military investigation’s findings said in an e-mail message: “I will simply say that the soldiers — U.S. and Afghan — reported what they saw and found at each building site as they looked for material, weapons, bodies. I cannot explain why later the numbers are so far apart.”

Members of the Afghan government investigation commission said that the Americans were just covering up the truth. “The Americans are guilty in this incident: it is much better for them to confess the reality rather than hiding the truth,” said Abdul Salam Qazizada, a member of Parliament and the government commission from Herat Province, where the village is located.

Villagers suggested that the soldiers just counted those who died in the open and did not try to dig under the rubble. A local journalist, Reza Shir Mohammadi, said that when he visited the village on the second day after the attack, women and children were still weeping at one collapsed house, saying they still had not found their mother and siblings.

The operation in Azizabad once again raises questions for the military about whether it is worth pursuing members of the Taliban with airstrikes inside a densely populated village where civilian casualties and property damage can be so high. A similar raid in the same district by American Special Forces in April 2007, which killed 57 people, led American and NATO commanders to tighten rules on calling in airstrikes on village houses.

“This is not fair to kill 90 people for one Mullah Sadiq,” said Mr. Umarzai, the district chief. “If they continue like this, they will lose the people’s confidence in the government and the coalition forces.”

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Sangar Rahimi and Abdul Waheed Wafa from Afghanistan.


8) Few Stand to Gain on This Bailout, and Many Lose
September 8, 2008

Over the years, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac showered riches on many winners: their executives, Wall Street bankers and Washington lobbyists. Now the foundering mortgage giants are leaving some losers in their wake, notably their shareholders, rank-and-file employees and, in the worst case, American taxpayers.

But even after the government seized the mortgage finance companies on Sunday and dismissed their chief executives, the companies’ outgoing leaders could see big paydays — a prospect that angers many investors, particularly because ordinary stockholders could be virtually wiped out.

Under the terms of his employment contract, Daniel H. Mudd, the departing head of Fannie Mae, stands to collect $9.3 million in severance pay, retirement benefits and deferred compensation, provided his dismissal is deemed to be “without cause,” according to an analysis by the consulting firm James F. Reda & Associates. Mr. Mudd has already taken home $12.4 million in cash compensation and stock option gains since becoming chief executive in 2004, according to an analysis by Equilar, an executive pay research firm.

Richard F. Syron, the departing chief executive of Freddie Mac, could receive an exit package of at least $14.1 million, largely because of a clause added to his employment contract in mid-July as his company’s troubles deepened. He has taken home $17.1 million in pay and stock option gains since becoming chief executive in 2003.

Both executives stood to make millions more from restricted stock grants and options, but those awards are now worthless because of the plunge in the companies’ share prices. Even so, their past pay — and the idea that they might receive more — irks some investors.

“This is completely outrageous,” said Richard C. Ferlauto, the director of corporate governance and investment for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a large pension fund. “It is really a slap in the face to shareholders and homeowners whose loans are at risk and taxpayers footing the bill for a bailout.”

Whether Mr. Mudd and Mr. Syron will collect their severance package is unclear. A spokeswoman for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the companies’ primary regulator, declined to provide details about their exit packages. F.H.F.A. officials said the compensation of their successors, Herbert M. Allison Jr. and David M. Moffett, both longtime financial industry executives, would be “significantly lower” than that of the departing chief executives.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have enriched their top executives for years. Mr. Mudd’s predecessor at Fannie Mae, Franklin D. Raines, took home more than $52 million while he was chief executive from 1999 to 2004, according to Equilar data.

Mr. Raines later agreed to forfeit several million dollars’ worth of stock and options to resolve personal claims over allegations that Fannie Mae had inflated its earnings to raise executive bonuses. Even though Fannie Mae was forced to restate its earnings, Mr. Raines walked away with at least $25 million in pension benefits, as well as stock options he did not cash in — many of which are now worthless.

Mr. Syron’s predecessor at Freddie Mac, Leland C. Brendsel, took home more than $28.4 million from 1993 to 2003, the only part of his pay package that was publicly disclosed during his 13-year tenure as chief executive.

The shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, including many employees, will not be so lucky. The companies’ share prices have plunged about 90 percent this year, wiping out about $70 billion of shareholder value. The shares are likely to be worth little or nothing under the government’s rescue plan.

As a result, Wall Street money managers and everyday investors alike stand to lose big. Bill Miller, the star mutual fund manager at Legg Mason, increased his bet on Freddie Mac even as the company’s shares plummeted this year. Last week, when Freddie Mac stock was trading at about $5, Legg Mason disclosed that it had bought an additional 30 million shares. Other value-oriented investors, including Rich Pzena and David Dreman, also placed big bets that the mortgage companies would recover. None of these money managers returned calls for comment.

“I am just shocked how they missed this, and why, when it became completely clear that the problem was snowballing, guys like Bill Miller doubled down,” said Douglas A. Kass, head of Seabreeze Partners and an outspoken short-seller.

For years, the shares of Fannie Mae, the larger of the two companies, have ranked among the most widely held stocks in America. Many ordinary investors believed that the company’s quasi-governmental status would insulate shareholders from big losses.

“People perceived they had government support of some sort,” said Byron Wien, the chief investment strategist at Pequot Capital. “The perception was they were more secure investments than they turned out to be.”

Members of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rank-and-file were big shareholders, too. Stock and options could make up a fifth of employees’ total pay.

While those who bought the companies’ shares lost, short-sellers who bet against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won. So-called short interest in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stock soared in recent months as the companies’ troubles deepened.

Among the most vocal short-sellers betting against the companies is William A. Ackman, who runs a hedge fund called Pershing Square Capital. Mr. Ackman was among the earliest to warn of the credit crisis, and he is believed to have landed a windfall after shorting both companies, according to a person with direct knowledge of a recent investment letter.

Wall Street investment banks, meanwhile, are breathing a sigh of relief. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pay hefty fees to big Wall Street debt underwriters, and that is unlikely to change. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s business was worth $1.5 billion in fees in 2007, according to a Sanford C. Bernstein report. Through the first six months of this year, that figure sank to $600 million.

Washington lobbyists, however, may be hurting. Over the last decade, Freddie Mac paid more than $94.8 million for lobbying services, in part to fend off attempts to tighten oversight, according to the Center for Responsive Politics; Fannie Mae spent about $79.5 million. The government plan will immediately eliminate that spending.

Some commercial banks and insurance companies that hold the companies’ preferred stock could suffer, too. Auditors may force those investors to mark down the value of the holdings. Sovereign Bancorp, a regional lender near Philadelphia, holds about $588 million of the securities, about 13 percent of its tangible capital, according to a research report by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, a securities broker.

Midwest Banc Holdings, a community bank in Illinois, and Gateway Financial Holdings, which operates in Virginia and North Carolina, each have tens of millions of dollars of the preferred stock, representing more than one-third of their tangible capital, the report said. And federal banking regulators said in a joint statement that a “limited number” of smaller banks could need new financing.

The Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., urged those institutions to contact their regulator, which said it was “prepared to work with those institutions to develop capital-restoration plans” and other corrective actions.




National Briefing | Rockies
Utah: Mine Collapse Case Goes to Prosecutors
Federal mining officials have asked prosecutors to decide whether criminal charges are warranted in the deaths of nine people in last year’s collapse of the Crandall Canyon mine. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has been investigating two cave-ins at the mine in August 2007 that killed six miners and three rescuers. The safety agency has already fined the operator $1.34 million for violations that it says directly contributed to the deaths. Richard Stickler, an acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said the mine’s operator and its engineering consultants demonstrated reckless disregard for safety. Mr. Stickler said the safety agency had referred the case to the Justice Department for possible criminal charges.
September 4, 2008

National Briefing | Immigration
Rabbis Endorse Certification Plan
The organization of Reform rabbis endorsed a movement led by Conservative Jews to create an additional certification for kosher food that would show that the producer met ethical standards for the treatment of workers. In a resolution, the Central Conference of American Rabbis promised to work cooperatively with the movement known as Hekhsher Tzedek, meaning “justice certification,” to develop the new seal of approval, which would be applied only to food certified as kosher according to traditional Jewish dietary laws. It would confirm that the producer met certain standards for wages and employee safety. The resolution was evidence of a new interest in kosher practice by Reform Jews, who do not generally follow strict dietary laws. The Reform rabbis said reports of “abusive and unethical treatment of workers” at the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, were “particularly distressing.”
September 4, 2008

Illinois: School Financing Protest
National Briefing | Midwest
More than 1,000 Chicago public school students boycotted the first day of classes in a protest over school financing and instead rode buses more than 30 miles north to try to enroll in a wealthy suburban district. About 1,100 elementary students and 150 high school students from Chicago filled out enrollment applications in the New Trier district in Northfield, said the New Trier superintendent, Linda Yonke. Boycott organizers acknowledged the move was largely symbolic: Students would have to pay tuition to attend a school outside their home district. In Illinois, property taxes account for about 70 percent of school financing, meaning rural and inner-city schools generally end up with less to spend per student than suburban schools.
September 3, 2008

3 Civilians Killed at Checkpoint in Afghanistan
BERLIN (Reuters) — Three civilians were killed in Afghanistan when a group of security forces, including German soldiers, opened fire at a checkpoint, Germany’s Defense Ministry said Friday.
The shootings occurred outside the city of Kunduz on Thursday, when two cars ignored officials’ calls to stop, said a Defense Ministry spokesman, Thomas Raabe. He said the checkpoint had been staffed by Afghan police officers and German soldiers.
August 30, 2008

Mexico: City’s Abortion Law Is Upheld
World Briefing | The Americas
The Supreme Court upheld Mexico City’s abortion law by an 8-to-3 vote on Thursday, allowing unrestricted abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy. The ruling sets a legal precedent that will allow other states to liberalize their abortion laws if they choose. It was a defeat for the Roman Catholic Church and President Felipe Calderón’s conservative government, which filed the constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court. Mexico City, which passed the law in April 2007, is the only place in Latin America except for Cuba that allows unrestricted abortions in the first 12 weeks.
August 29, 2008

Texas: Militant Ordered to Stand Trial
A federal appeals court ordered a Cuban militant, Luis Posada Carriles, to stand trial in El Paso on immigration fraud charges. A three-judge panel of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled that Mr. Posada, 80, an anti-Castro militant, should stand trial on charges that he lied to federal authorities in his 2005 bid to become an American citizen. The criminal case had been dismissed last year when a federal district judge in El Paso, Kathleen Cardone, ruled that the government engaged in trickery and deceit by using a naturalization interview to build its case against Mr. Posada. Felipe Millan, one of Mr. Posada’s lawyers in El Paso, said Mr. Posada’s legal team was reviewing the decision and would decide on a course of action afterward.
August 15, 2008

Canada: Rioting in Montreal
World Briefing | The Americas
Three police officers were injured, one shot in the leg, during rioting in Montreal that erupted late Sunday in response to the killing of an 18-year-old by the police the day before. A fire station, fire trucks, cars and about 20 shops were vandalized or set ablaze. An ambulance worker was also injured. About 500 riot police officers quelled the violence.
August 12, 2008

Arizona: Court Allows Fake Snow Opposed by Tribes
National Briefing | Southwest
A federal appeals court has ruled that a ski resort’s plan to use recycled wastewater for making snow would not violate the religious freedom of Indian groups who had claimed that the practice would be blasphemous to a mountain they hold sacred. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, ruling in a lawsuit against the Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff that was filed by 13 tribes and the Sierra Club, overturned a ruling by a smaller panel of the court that said the plan would violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The 1993 act is intended to ensure that government actions do not infringe on religious freedom. Lawyers for the tribes and the Sierra Club said they expected to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
August 9, 2008

Bolivia: Tin Miners Die in Clashes
World Briefing | The Americas
At least two miners were killed and many more were injured Tuesday in clashes between the police and workers at the country’s largest tin mine, Huanuni, local radio reported. The violence erupted when police officers clashed with groups of striking miners who had blocked a road, Interior Minister Alfredo Rada said. The strike is in support of a drive by a labor federation for higher pensions and a lowering of the retirement age to 55.
August 6, 2008

Proposed Kosher Certification Rules
Conservative Jewish leaders are seeking to protect workers and the environment at kosher food plants like the one raided this spring in Iowa. They issued draft guidelines for a kosher certification program meant as a supplement to the traditional certification process that measures compliance with Jewish dietary law. The proposed “hekhsher tzedek,” or “certificate of righteousness,” would be awarded to companies that pay fair wages, ensure workplace safety, follow government environmental regulations and treat animals humanely, among other proposed criteria. Support for the idea has been fueled by controversies at Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville, Iowa, the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant. In May, immigration officials raided the plant, arresting nearly 400 workers.
August 1, 2008
National Briefing | Immigration




Labor Beat: National Assembly to End the War in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Highlights from the June 28-29, 2008 meeting in Cleveland, OH. In this 26-minute video, Labor Beat presents a sampling of the speeches and floor discussions from this important conference. Attended by over 400 people, the Assembly's main objective was to urge united and massive mobilizations in the spring to “Bring the Troops Home Now,” as well as supporting actions that build towards that date. To read the final action proposal and to learn other details, visit Produced by Labor Beat. Labor Beat is a CAN TV Community Partner. Labor Beat is affiliated with IBEW 1220. Views expressed are those of the producer, not necessarily of IBEW. For info:, 312-226-3330. For other Labor Beat videos, visit Google Video or YouTube and search "Labor Beat".


12 year old Ossetian girl tells the truth about Georgia.



Despite calling itself a "sanctuary city", S.F. politicians are permitting the harrassment of undocumented immigrants and allowing the MIGRA-ICE police to enter the jail facilities.

We will picket any store that cooperates with the MIGRA or reports undocumented brothers and sisters. We demand AMNESTY without conditions!

project of BARRIO UNIDO


Canada: American Deserter Must Leave
August 14, 2008
World Briefing | Americas
Jeremy Hinzman, a deserter from the United States Army, was ordered Wednesday to leave Canada by Sept. 23. Mr. Hinzman, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, left the Army for Canada in January 2004 and later became the first deserter to formally seek refuge there from the war in Iraq. He has been unable to obtain permanent immigrant status, and in November, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear an appeal of his case. Vanessa Barrasa, a spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency, said Mr. Hinzman, above, had been ordered to leave voluntarily. In July, another American deserter was removed from Canada by border officials after being arrested. Although the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not backed the Iraq war, it has shown little sympathy for American deserters, a significant change from the Vietnam War era.

Iraq War resister Robin Long jailed, facing three years in Army stockade

Free Robin Long now!
Support GI resistance!

Soldier Who Deserted to Canada Draws 15-Month Term
August 23, 2008

What you can do now to support Robin

1. Donate to Robin's legal defense


By mail: Make checks out to “Courage to Resist / IHC” and note “Robin Long” in the memo field. Mail to:

Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave #41
Oakland CA 94610

Courage to Resist is committed to covering Robin’s legal and related defense expenses. Thank you for helping make that possible.

Also: You are also welcome to contribute directly to Robin’s legal expenses via his civilian lawyer James Branum. Visit, select "Pay Online via PayPal" (lower left), and in the comments field note “Robin Long”. Note that this type of donation is not tax-deductible.

2. Send letters of support to Robin

Robin Long, CJC
2739 East Las Vegas
Colorado Springs CO 80906

Robin’s pre-trial confinement has been outsourced by Fort Carson military authorities to the local county jail.

Robin is allowed to receive hand-written or typed letters only. Do NOT include postage stamps, drawings, stickers, copied photos or print articles. Robin cannot receive packages of any type (with the book exception as described below).

3. Send Robin a money order for commissary items

Anything Robin gets (postage stamps, toothbrush, shirts, paper, snacks, supplements, etc.) must be ordered through the commissary. Each inmate has an account to which friends may make deposits. To do so, a money order in U.S. funds must be sent to the address above made out to "Robin Long, EPSO". The sender’s name must be written on the money order.

4. Send Robin a book

Robin is allowed to receive books which are ordered online and sent directly to him at the county jail from or Barnes and Noble. These two companies know the procedure to follow for delivering books for inmates.


Yet Another Insult: Mumia Abu-Jamal Denied Full-Court Hearing by 3rd Circuit
& Other News on Mumia

This mailing sent by the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal


1. Mumia Abu-Jamal Denied Full-Court Hearing by 3rd Circuit
2. Upcoming Events for Mumia
3. New Book on the framing of Mumia

1. MUMIA DENIED AGAIN -- Adding to its already rigged, discriminatory record with yet another insult to the world's most famous political prisoner, the federal court for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia has refused to give Mumia Abu-Jamal an en banc, or full court, hearing. This follows the rejection last March by a 3-judge panel of the court, of what is likely Mumia's last federal appeal.

The denial of an en banc hearing by the 3rd Circuit, upholding it's denial of the appeal, is just the latest episode in an incredible year of shoving the overwhelming evidence of Mumia's innocence under a rock. Earlier in the year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court also rejected Jamal's most recent state appeal. Taken together, state and federal courts in 2008 have rejected or refused to hear all the following points raised by Mumia's defense:

1. The state's key witness, Cynthia White, was pressured by police to lie on the stand in order to convict Mumia, according to her own admission to a confidant (other witnesses agreed she wasn't on the scene at all)

2. A hospital "confession" supposedly made by Mumia was manufactured by police. The false confession was another key part of the state's wholly-manufactured "case."

3. The 1995 appeals court judge, Albert Sabo--the same racist who presided at Mumia's original trial in 1982, where he said, "I'm gonna help 'em fry the n....r"--was prejudiced against him. This fact was affirmed even by Philadelphia's conservative newspapers at the time.

4. The prosecutor prejudiced the jury against inn ocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, by using a slimy tactic already rejected by the courts. But the prosecutor was upheld in Mumia's case!

5. The jury was racially skewed when the prosecution excluded most blacks from the jury, a practice banned by law, but, again, upheld against Mumia!

All of these defense claims were proven and true. But for the courts, these denials were just this year’s trampling on the evidence! Other evidence dismissed or ignored over the years include: hit-man Arnold Beverly said back in the 1990s that he, not Mumia, killed the slain police officer (Faulkner). Beverly passed a lie detector test and was willing to testify, but he got no hearing in US courts! Also, Veronica Jones, who saw two men run from the scene just after the shooting, was coerced by police to lie at the 1982 trial, helping to convict Mumia. But when she admitted this lie and told the truth on appeal in 1996, she was dismissed by prosecutor-in-robes Albert Sabo in 1996 as "not credible!" (She continues to support Mumia, and is writing a book on her experiences.) And William Singletary, the one witness who saw the whole thing and had no reason to lie, and who affirmed that someone else did the shooting, said that Mumia only arriv ed on the scene AFTER the officer was shot. His testimony has been rejected by the courts on flimsy grounds. And the list goes on.

FOR THE COURTS, INNOCENCE IS NO DEFENSE! And if you're a black revolutionary like Mumia the fix is in big-time. Illusions in Mumia getting a "new trial" out of this racist, rigged, kangaroo-court system have been dealt a harsh blow by the 3rd Circuit. We need to build a mass movement, and labor action, to free Mumia now!


SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA -- Speaking Tour by J Patrick O'Connor, the author of THE FRAMING OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL, in the first week of October 2008, sponsored by the Mobilization To Free Mumia. Contributing to this tour, the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia will hold a public meeting with O'Connor on Friday October 3rd, place to be announced. San Francisco, South Bay and other East Bay venues to be announced. Contact the Mobilization at 510 268-9429, or the LAC at 510 763-2347, for more information.


Efficiently and Methodically Framed--Mumia is innocent! That is the conclusion of THE FRAMING OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL, by J Patrick O'Connor (Lawrence Hill Books), published earlier this year. The author is a former UPI reporter who took an interest in Mumia's case. He is now the editor of Crime Magazine (

O'Connor offers a fresh perspective, and delivers a clear and convincing breakdown on perhaps the most notorious frame-up since Sacco and Vanzetti. THE FRAMING OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL is based on a thorough analysis of the 1982 trial and the 1995-97 appeals hearings, as well as previous writings on this case, and research on the MOVE organization (with which Mumia identifies), and the history of racist police brutality in Philadelphia.

While leaving some of the evidence of Mumia's innocence unconsidered or disregarded, this book nevertheless makes clear that there is a veritable mountain of evidence--most of it deliberately squashed by the courts--that shows that Mumia was blatantly and deliberately framed by corrupt cops and courts, who "fixed" this case against him from the beginning. This is a case not just of police corruption, or a racist lynching, though it is both. The courts are in this just as deep as the cops, and it reaches to the top of the equally corrupt political system.

"This book is the first to convincingly show how the Philadelphia Police Department and District Attorney's Office efficiently and methodically framed [Mumia Abu-Jamal]." (from the book jacket)

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal has a limited number of THE FRAMING ordered from the publisher at a discount. We sold our first order of this book, and are now able to offer it at a lower price. $12 covers shipping. Send payment to us at our address below:

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610 • 510.763.2347 •


Sami Al-Arian Subjected to Worst Prison Conditions since Florida
Despite grant of bail, government continues to hold him
Dr. Al-Arian handcuffed

Hanover, VA - July 27, 2008 -

More than two weeks after being granted bond by a federal judge, Sami Al-Arian is still being held in prison. In fact, Dr. Al-Arian is now being subjected to the worst treatment by prison officials since his stay in Coleman Federal Penitentiary in Florida three years ago.

On July 12th, Judge Leonie Brinkema pronounced that Dr. Al-Arian was not a danger to the community nor a flight risk, and accordingly granted him bail before his scheduled August 13th trial. Nevertheless, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) invoked the jurisdiction it has held over Dr. Al-Arian since his official sentence ended last April to keep him from leaving prison. The ICE is ostensibly holding Dr. Al-Arian to complete deportation procedures but, given that Dr. Al-Arian's trial will take place in less than three weeks, it would seem somewhat unlikely that the ICE will follow through with such procedures in the near future.

Not content to merely keep Dr. Al-Arian from enjoying even a very limited stint of freedom, the government is using all available means to try to psychologically break him. Instead of keeping him in a prison close to the Washington DC area where his two oldest children live, the ICE has moved him to Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover, VA, more than one hundred miles from the capital. Regardless, even when Dr. Al-Arian was relatively close to his children, they were repeatedly denied visitation requests.

More critically, this distance makes it extremely difficult for Dr. Al-Arian to meet with his attorneys in the final weeks before his upcoming trial. This is the same tactic employed by the government in 2005 to try to prevent Dr. Al-Arian from being able to prepare a full defense.

Pamunkey Regional Jail has imposed a 23-hour lock-down on Dr. Al-Arian and has placed him in complete isolation, despite promises from the ICE that he would be kept with the general inmate population. Furthermore, the guards who transported him were abusive, shackling and handcuffing him behind his back for the 2.5-hour drive, callously disregarding the fact that his wrist had been badly injured only a few days ago. Although he was in great pain throughout the trip, guards refused to loosen the handcuffs.

At the very moment when Dr. Al-Arian should be enjoying a brief interlude of freedom after five grueling years of imprisonment, the government has once again brazenly manipulated the justice system to deliver this cruel slap in the face of not only Dr. Al-Arian, but of all people of conscience.

Make a Difference! Call Today!

Call Now!

Last April, your calls to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail pressured prison officials to stop their abuse of Dr. Al-Arian after only a few days.
Friends, we are asking you to make a difference again by calling:

Pamunkey Regional Jail: (804) 365-6400 (press 0 then ask to speak to the Superintendent's office). Ask why Dr. Al-Arian has been put under a 23-hour lockdown, despite the fact that a federal judge has clearly and unambiguously pronounced that he is not a danger to anyone and that, on the contrary, he should be allowed bail before his trial.

- If you do not reach the superintendent personally, leave a message on the answering machine. Call back every day until you do speak to the superintendent directly.
- Be polite but firm.

- After calling, click here to let us know you called.

Don't forget: your calls DO make a difference.


Write to Dr. Al-Arian

For those of you interested in sending personal letters of support to Dr. Al-Arian:

If you would like to write to Dr. Al-Arian, his new
address is:

Dr. Sami Al-Arian
Pamunkey Regional Jail
P.O. Box 485
Hanover, VA 23069

Email Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace:


Video: The Carbon Connection -- The human impact of carbon trading

[This is an eye-opening and important video for all who are interested in our]

Two communities affected by one new global market – the trade in carbon
dioxide. In Scotland, a town has been polluted by oil and chemical
companies since the 1940s. In Brazil, local people's water and land is
being swallowed up by destructive monoculture eucalyptus tree
plantations. Both communities now share a new threat.

As part of the deal to reduce greenhouse gases that cause dangerous
climate change, major polluters can now buy carbon credits that allow
them to pay someone else to reduce emissions instead of cutting their
own pollution. What this means for those living next to the oil industry
in Scotland is the continuation of pollution caused by their toxic
neighbours. Meanwhile in Brazil, the schemes that generate carbon
credits give an injection of cash for more planting of the damaging
eucalyptus plantations.

40 minutes | PAL/NTSC | English/Spanish/Portuguese subtitles.The Carbon Connection is a Fenceline Films presentation in partnership with the Transnational Institute Environmental Justice Project and Carbon Trade Watch, the Alert Against the Green Desert Movement, FASE-ES, and the Community Training and Development Unit.

Watch at


On the Waterboard
How does it feel to be “aggressively interrogated”? Christopher Hitchens found out for himself, submitting to a brutal waterboarding session in an effort to understand the human cost of America’s use of harsh tactics at Guantánamo and elsewhere. has the footage. Related: “Believe Me, It’s Torture,” from the August 2008 issue.


Alison Bodine defense Committee
Lift the Two-year Ban

Watch the Sept 28 Video on Alison's Case!


The Girl Who Silenced the World at the UN!
Born and raised in Vancouver, Severn Suzuki has been working on environmental and social justice issues since kindergarten. At age 9, she and some friends started the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO), a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They traveled to 1992's UN Earth Summit, where 12 year-old Severn gave this powerful speech that deeply affected (and silenced) some of the most prominent world leaders. The speech had such an impact that she has become a frequent invitee to many U.N. conferences.
[Note: the text of her speech is also available at this]




"Dear Canada: Let U.S. war resisters stay!"

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


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

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




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


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

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

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

—MALCOLM X, 1965


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


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


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


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


Which country should we invade next?


My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup


Michael Moore- The Awful Truth


Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments


Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


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


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


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


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


FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein


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



"Award-Winning Writer/Filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek Launches New Sand
Creek Massacre Website"

May 21, 2008 -- CENTENNIAL, CO -- Award-winning filmmaker, Donald L.
Vasicek, has launched a new Sand Creek Massacre website. Titled,
"The Sand Creek Massacre", the site contains in depth witness
accounts of the massacre, the award-winning Sand Creek Massacre
trailer for viewing, the award-winning Sand Creek Massacre
documentary short for viewing, the story of the Sand Creek Massacre,
and a Shop to purchase Sand Creek Massacre DVD's and lesson
plans including the award-winning documentary film/educational DVD.

Vasicek, a board member of The American Indian Genocide Museum
( Houston, Texas, said, "The website was launched
to inform, to educate, and to provide educators, historians, students
and all others the accessibility to the Sand Creek Massacre story."

The link/URL to the website is

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC

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