Saturday, January 26, 2008



A special afternoon to free an innocent man on Pennsylvania’s death row for 26 years…
Honoring Mumia Abu-Jamal & his Friends
Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008, 2:00 pm
ILWU Local 34 Hall, 4 Berry Street, San Francisco
(Near 2nd & King St. immediately to the left of AT&T baseball stadium)
Admission: $15-$10 sliding scale. No one turned away for lack of funds. Refreshments.
Sponsor: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal 415-255-1085 or 510-268-9429

Dennis Bernstein, Producer, KPFA’s Flashpoints
Pam Africa, International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Lynne Stewart, attorney, falsely convicted of conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism
Jonathan Richman, singer/songwriter
Jack Heyman,on behalf of Internat’l Longshore &Warehouse Union
Barbara Lubin, Director, Middle East Children’s Alliance
Aundre Herron, ACLU & comedienne, “Wonderwoman”
Robert R. Bryan, lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Carlos Villarreal, Exec. Dir., National Lawyers Guild Bay Area
Alan Benjamin, Exec. Board, SF Labor Council
Clarence Thomas, ILWU Local 10
Derrel Myers, Jo Jo White Solidarity Committee
Gloria LaRiva, International ANSWER/San Francisco
JR, POCC Block Report Radio; KPOO & KPFA Radio producer
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., Prisoners of Conscience Committee
Noelle Hanrahan, Prison Radio
Laura Herrera & Jeff Mackler, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kiilu Nyasha, Free SF 8 activist; producer, SF Live's TV weekly, "Freedom
Is A Constant Struggle"
plus: Special video showing: NBC Today Show’s incredible coverage of Mumia’s case

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist & innocent Pennsylvania 26 year death row inmate. Framed by a racist criminal “justice” system in a 1982 trial that has been repudiated by Amnesty International, the European Parliament, the California Labor Federation, SF Labor Council, AFSCME, SEIU, ILWU, NUPW, Alice Walker, E.L. Doctorow, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, Angela Davis, the past French President Jacques Chirac and the Detroit, SF, Berkeley city governments, Mumia’s case is rapidly approaching it’s legal conclusion. He has defeated repeated attempts at his execution by state authorities. After presenting to the courts and to millions around the world the irrefutable facts proving his innocence, his appeal for a new trial (that can only lead to his freedom) is pending. A decision is imminent. While the state presses for his murder by lethal injection we fight for his freedom. His struggle for fundamental human and democratic rights, for civil liberties, and freedom is the struggle of all those who cherish social justice. For additional information:
Sponsor: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal 415-255-1085 or 510-268-9429
Benefit for: Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Contributions to: P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610-0328


2017 Mission St (@ 16th), San Francisco


5th Anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq
End the War NOW!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008, March & Rally
5 p.m. S.F. Civic Center (Polk & Grove Sts.)

Click here to Endorse:

Bring All the Troops Home Now
End Colonial Occupation--Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine
Money for Jobs, Housing, Healthcare & Schools, Not War
Stop the threats against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba . . .
No to racism & immigrant bashing

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
2489 Mission St. Rm. 24
San Francisco: 415-821-6545


Bay Area United Against War Statement in Response to IVAW

"In response to the Iraq Veterans Against the War Open Letter to the antiwar movement: We oppose any demand on the movement to refrain from mobilizing against the war. This demand has hurt the struggle in the United States to end the war. We support all actions of the movement to end the U.S. war on, and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. We urge the whole movement to come together to organize unified protest actions."



For more information contact:
Robert Manning (925)787-3354

BlogFest to Memorialize Molly Ivins and Demand an End to War in Iraq

WHAT: Raise Hell for Molly Ivins BlogFest.

WHERE: Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street in San Francisco.

WHEN: Thursday, January 31st, 2008, from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM. (the one-year anniversary of Molly Ivins' passing.)

WHO: The BlogFest is being produced by The Raise Hell for Molly Ivins Campaign ( The campaign was inspired by Molly Ivins' words about the war in Iraq, in her last column before her passing. - "Raise hell...Hit the streets...We need people in the streets banging pots and pans and demanding END IT, NOW!"

PURPOSE: This special event will honor the memory of Molly Ivins and carry on her legacy of activism through the Raise Hell for Molly Ivins Campaign, which is organizing people across the United States to demand that Congress act to end the war in Iraq and stop an attack on Iran.

PROGRAM: The BlogFest will feature continuous blogging by activist bloggers and the public, the signing of an on-line petition, and a live netcast of the event. The evening's program will begin with an Interfaith Ceremony, followed by a Labyrinth Walk for Peace, the announcement of the Winner of "The Ballad of Molly Ivins" Songwriting Contest, a video presentation on Molly Ivins' life, a Memorial Pledge to Molly Ivins, by the event's participants, to work tirelessly to end the war in Iraq and stop an attack on Iran, and music and poetry performances.

HOW: People can participate in the BlogFest by adding their comments to the activist blogs during the event. They can also sign the on-line petition and participate in the "Pots and Pans Protests" on the third Friday of the month, to tell their local representatives and senators who voted for the surge and the on-going funding for the war in Iraq to change their vote or lose at the ballot box. The "Pots and Pans Protests" are held on the third Friday of the month to coincide with the monthly events of the Iraq Moratorium.

TICKETS: Tickets are $10.00 with no one turned away for lack of funds. Tickets are available at the door beginning at 5:45 PM. Advanced tickets are available by calling The Raise Hell for Molly Ivins Campaign at (925) 787-3354.





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


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

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


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

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

Day-after demonstrations are also planned in:

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

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

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


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

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




In 1995, mass mobilizations helped save Mumia from death.

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

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

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




1) Mexico Hits Drug Gangs With Full Fury of War
January 22, 2008

2) MoveOn and the Liberal War Party
No Retreat
January 19 / 20, 2008

3) The Dollar and US Hegemony:
Suspended in Air
by Ingo Schmidt
January 23, 2008

4) Rich Countries Owe Poor a Huge Environmental Debt
By The Guardian, UK
January 21, 2008

5) Palestinians Topple Gaza Wall and Cross to Egypt
January 24, 2008

6) The Fed Weighs In
January 23, 2008

7) Congo’s Death Rate Unchanged Since War Ended
January 23, 2008

8) A $200-a-Gram Tax on Cocaine
By Sewell Chan
January 23, 2008, 12:21 pm

9)It Ain’t The Voting That Counts—It’s the Counting!
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
January 17, 2008

10) U.S. to Insist Iraq Grant It Wide Mandate in Operations
January 25, 2008

11) Bloomberg Proposes Budget Cuts Across City Agencies
By Diane Cardwell
Michael R. Bloomberg
January 24, 2008, 12:18 pm

12) 10 Die in Mistaken Afghan Firefight
January 25, 2008

13) Tens of Thousands More From Gaza Enter Egypt Seeking Consumer Goods
January 25, 2008

14) JCalifornia Justices Put Limits on Medical Marijuana Law
January 25, 2008

15) Detectives in Shooting of Unarmed Man Seek to Waive Trial by Jury
January 25, 2008

16) Patriot Act Upheld in Sailor’s Terrorism Case
January 25, 2008

17) Truth as Casualty - A Response to Carol Brightman and Carl Ogelsby on the
By Ralph Schoenman, January 21, 2008
Taking Aim Bulletin - January 26, 2008 - please distribute widely
Taking Aim


1) Mexico Hits Drug Gangs With Full Fury of War
January 22, 2008

RÍO BRAVO, Mexico — These days, it is easy to form the impression that a war is going on in Mexico. Thousands of elite troops in battle gear stream toward border towns and snake through the streets in jeeps with .50-caliber machine guns mounted on top while fighter jets from the Mexican Navy fly reconnaissance missions overhead.

Gun battles between federal forces and drug-cartel members carrying rocket-propelled-grenade launchers have taken place over the past two weeks in border towns like Río Bravo and Tijuana, with deadly results.

Yet what is happening is less a war than a sustained federal intervention in states where for decades corrupt municipal police officers and drug gangs have worked together in relative peace, officials say. The federal forces are not only hunting cartel leaders, but also going after their crews of gunslingers, like Gulf Cartel guards known as the Zetas, who terrorize the towns they control.

The onslaught has broken up a longstanding system in which the local police looked the other way for a bribe and cartel leaders went about their business.

In Río Bravo, for instance, the state police station sits across the street from a walled compound that until recently was used as a safe house by Zeta gunmen. A deadly gunfight broke out when federal agents tried to arrest men carrying machine guns in a car.

As grenades exploded and gunfire ripped the air, Jesús Vasquez, 65, dived behind the dusty counter of his store. He hugged the concrete and prayed.

“It was ugly,” he recalled. “It’s the first time something like this has happened.”

President Felipe Calderón, who won office in 2006 on a promise to create jobs, has spent most of his first year in office trying to break up organized crime rings. To the consternation of some liberals here, he has mobilized the military to do it, sending 6,000 troops into Tamaulipas state alone.

As those troops, along with thousands of federal agents, have begun putting pressure on drug gangs, the midlevel mobsters and hit men have put up a surprising amount of resistance. Again and again, they have chosen to fight it out rather than surrender.

They have ambushed and killed more than 20 police officers this year. In the past two weeks, four federal agents and three Baja California police commanders have been assassinated, along with the wife and child of one of them, apparently in retaliation for arrests, law enforcement officials said.

That violence has spread to the United States. On Saturday morning, drug-smuggling suspects from Mexico killed an American border patrol agent, Luis Aguilar, 32, when he tried to stop their cars in sand dunes about 20 miles west of Yuma, Ariz., then fled back across the border. Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, said the killing demonstrated how Mexican criminal organizations had responded to the crackdown on their operations with increasing brutality.

“The Zetas are defying the state,” said Jorge Chabat, an expert on narcotics trafficking and security at CIDE, a Mexican research group. “This operation in the north of Mexico in recent days has no precedent.”

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Calderón’s strategy will work in the long run. Many of the nation’s most-wanted drug kingpins continue to elude federal forces, often with the help of local police officers.

Some federal officers admit privately that they face an uphill battle as long as local police officers continue to tip off drug gangs about their movements. The threat became clear on Saturday when federal officials arrested four local policemen in Nuevo Laredo, along with seven civilians, and charged them with feeding the Zetas information over police radio frequencies.

“You cannot count on the local police,” said a veteran federal inspector in Reynosa, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job. “The problem lies in the state police. They are completely at the service of these guys.”

In Tamaulipas state, just south of eastern Texas, the government’s focus has been on strangling the Zetas. Founded by former Mexican commandos trained in the United States, the Zetas have long been the professional assassins of the Gulf Cartel, which controls the flow of drugs along the Gulf Coast and across the Texas border. The group is believed to have scores of members, though the exact number is unknown.

The gunmen remain a formidable force, the authorities say. Federal police commanders in the state must stay on the move and keep their location secret to avoid assassination attempts. The state federal attorney general’s office has been vacant for months; officials in Mexico City say they are having trouble filling the post.

Edgar Millán, a federal police commander who is in charge of tracking down the Zetas, said a contingent of 1,200 officers in Tamaulipas searched every day for members of the group, hitting specific targets believed to be safe houses and watching for cars carrying gunmen.

The federal police also run a system of 10 checkpoints on major highways in the eastern half of the state. Most of the time, they stop cars with tinted windows that carry two or more young men, hoping to make it harder for the gunmen to move.

But the Zetas have a sophisticated spy network as well, Commander Millán said in an interview. They employ taxi drivers, store clerks, street vendors and members of the local police to keep them apprised of the movements of federal officers.

Several times in the past four months, the police have been close to capturing the leader of the cartel, Heriberto Lazcano, only to have him slip away at the last moment, Commander Millán said. Two other important reputed cartel leaders, Jorge Eduardo Costilla and Miguel Ángel Treviño, have also eluded capture.

While the Gulf Cartel leaders remain at large, the government scored a success in Sinaloa on Monday when it captured Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, one of five brothers who are high-ranking lieutenants in the Culiacan-based cartel.

Though the big bosses have slipped through the dragnet — the offensive that was started against the Zetas in late November after a prominent local politician was murdered in Río Bravo — it has paid off in many respects, officials said. The police have arrested about 40 reputed members of the gang and seized dozens of machine guns, rifles, side arms, grenades and boxes of ammunition.

The federal police have also begun to submit local police officers to a battery of tests to determine who might be linked to organized crime. Among the tests are polygraphs, drug tests and the vetting of personal finances. The goal is to weed out collaborators.

Many people here say they welcome the federal intervention, even if it means having columns of troops patrol their streets. But others voice doubt that government forces can ever stamp out the cartel, given its infiltration of the local police. All the federal forces have accomplished, they say, is unleashing more violence.

“Living in Mexico has become very difficult,” said one man who had been searched at a roadblock near Matamoros. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of drug dealers. “Even Colombia is looking better.”

Others complain that the presence of soldiers and federal agents, along with the gun battles, has scared away American tourists, an important source of income. Last year, about six million fewer people visited border towns than in 2006; hotel bookings are down and sales of package tours have fallen steeply, according to the Association of Mexican Hotels and Motels.

“A lot of people used to come over the border to eat and buy things,” said Alfredo Tantu, 40, the owner of El Cazador Restaurant near Río Bravo, as the smell of roasting baby goat wafted from his kitchen. “Now, almost no one comes because of all this police action.”

James C. McKinley Jr. reported from Río Bravo last week and added updated information from Mexico City on Sunday and Monday.


2) MoveOn and the Liberal War Party
No Retreat
January 19 / 20, 2008

"Antiwar groups retreat on funding fight" read the headlines. The story underneath describes a retreat by MoveOn and other liberal elements of the antiwar movement who, after failing to get a withdrawal deadline passed in the US Congress in 2007, are now merely trying to prevent the US and Baghdad governments from signing n agreement that would keep US forces in Iraq until 2018. This strategy, its supporters believe, can still provide a difference between Democrats and Republicans to voters in the upcoming elections.

This scenario is exactly what happens when an element of the antiwar movement ties itself to a party invested in keeping a war going. Unfortunately for the antiwar movement in general, this strategy is pervasive throughout much of the movement and has rendered the current movement against the war in Iraq completely moribund. Instead of an antiwar movement, there is a repeat of 2004, when UFPJ, MoveOn and other antiwar organizations put their money and efforts into the Anybody But Bush campaign and helped give the country four more years of George Bush.

This election year, George Bush isn't running, but the war and occupation will continue long after he's gone unless the self-appointed liberal leadership in the antiwar movement either quits tailing the Democratic Party or just shuts up. Since neither of these phenomena are likely to happen, it is up to the grassroots of the movement to wrest the mantle of leadership away from these lobbyists and put the movement back into the streets where its real power is. The lobbyists have had their chance and all they've done is spend a ton of our money on advertising, lobbying and salaries with no tangible results. This should make it clear to the people who actually make up the antiwar movement that our hopes lie in hard work, street protests and direct action, and developing strategies that are not based on the US election cycle.

This may very well require a new organization stepping up to the plate. UFPJ has struck out as a national organization, primarily because they have refused to organize or help organize any national demonstrations in a year. ANSWER, meanwhile, seems to have forfeited their place in the game because of their perceived sectarianism and a bit of red and Muslim-baiting. MoveOn and similar organizations are, on the national level, much more like spectators and concessionaires at this point than they are real players, having thrown in their lot with the democrats. The only existing national organizations that could possibly provide fresh leadership at this time are Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). However, given the rather specific constituency of both of these groups, it would seem that there would need to be some other groups either currently in existence or yet to be formed willing to coalesce and create a truly national mobilization to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring the troops home.

Let the candidates tell their lies. Let them argue about how they are against the wars while they vote for the wars. Let the national antiwar organizations that have hitched their wagons to the Democrats or Ron Paul be dragged into the dead-end ditch of electoral politics. But let those of us interested in having a vibrant and viable antiwar movement ready to hit the streets after January 2009 start trying to figure out how the hell we're going to do that. This doesn't mean your vote is meaningless. It just means that it isn't as meaningful as the candidates and the liberal elements of the antiwar movement want you to think it is. If it was, don't you think we would know when the troops would be out of Iraq?

Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at:


3) The Dollar and US Hegemony:
Suspended in Air
by Ingo Schmidt
January 23, 2008

Once again, speculation about a dollar crash abounds. The hegemonic roles of the US currency and economy have repeatedly been called into question since the 1970s. Skeptics saw each major economic downturn and depreciation of the dollar as the beginning of the end of US hegemony. In defiance of the often predicted decline, the US is still No. 1 within the capitalist world system, and the US-led cartel of imperialist world domination is still intact. That is why we have to ask whether the current weakness of the dollar and the US-triggered economic crisis are just another cyclical phenomena that will essentially reproduce US hegemony or indications of major power shifts among capitalist states and social classes.

Paul Krugman issued the catchword for the debate on the future of the dollar and the US economy, the "Wile E. Coyote Moment," comparing the dollar to Wile E. Coyote who has run off a cliff, standing on thin air. According to this analogy, the mortgage crisis is the last cliff for the dollar before its final plunge. Whether Krugman's grim prediction will come true remains to be seen.

What is noteworthy is that, at the same time as the dollar declined, the US foreign deficit reached record highs, contrary to the market logic that predicts a smaller current account deficit in the case of currency depreciation. This is a new development. In the past, depreciations and decreasing current account deficits actually went hand in hand. What does the current de-linking of dollar rates and the US current account position imply?

Irrationality of Capitalism -- Limits to Bourgeois Economics

To answer this question, we have to look at the dollar, the current account, and economic trends over the last three decades. Then, two things stand out. First, the dollar has gone through two phases of significant appreciation since the 1970s, peaking in 1985 and 2001. Second, only during the first of these two phases dollar rates and current account deficits moved, as market logic predicts, in opposite directions. Since the economic downturn of 1991, the deficit has increased constantly, showing almost no connection to dollar rates or the business cycle. If the foreign deficit depended on exchange rate developments, it would have been reined in by dollar depreciations since 2001. That did not happen.

Dollar Index

Current Account Balance

Keynesian economists dispute the relation between exchange rates and foreign trade that figures so prominently in neoclassical economics. According to their view, trade flows, which are statistically recorded in the current account balance, depend on the purchasing power of companies and households. The 2001 crisis was followed by a recovery based on credit expansion and massive inflows of foreign capital. These two factors generated additional purchasing power, parts of which were happily spent on imported goods, causing ever higher current account deficits. In the Keynesian story, capital markets are in the driver's seat, generating and allocating the finances that can later be used to buy goods and services. Plausible as this explanation may be, it is not totally convincing, because capital inflows imply higher dollar demand and, therefore, should have eventually triggered currency appreciations. That didn't happen either.

Since neither the logic of goods markets nor that of capital markets can explain the development of dollar rates and US foreign deficits convincingly, some economists, the most prominent among them Yale professor Robert Shiller, have drawn the conclusion that economic agents' irrational behavior, such as herd behavior of financial investors, must be the reason for "market-adverse" developments of currencies and current accounts. This view is shared by Krugman, who fears that badly informed investors have taken the nominal dollar rate at its face value, i.e. as proper representation of the value produced in the US economy, for too long but will be forced to give up their imagined wealth once the dollar crashes.

New Keynesian economists like Krugman and Shiller view excessive greed and lack of information as the causes of irrational exuberance, to use Shiller's terminology, which, in turn, triggers economic crises. Accordingly, crises could be avoided if investments were calculated objectively, based on complete information, instead of, to use Keynes' term, animal spirits. The recognition of ignorance in economic decision-making, Keynes' point of departure from (neo)classical economics, is missing from the New Keynesian view. The New Keynesian search for proper governance structures to complete incomplete information also disregards the fact that the right to private property entails the power of property holders to withhold information from the public and that of top managers to provide sugarcoated information to shareholders. Equally neglected is the fact that capitalist competition not only is a breeding ground for the greed for profit but makes investment driven by such greed a precondition for survival, no matter that it causes over-accumulation and crises at the same time. Thus, Keynes' "animal spirits" had better be called "capitalist spirits."

Following Marx, we can see that individual capitalists are behaving more or less rationally within an irrational system. However, their socially uncoordinated behavior produces crises that look like the result of individual misbehavior in the eyes of capitalists and economists alike. The highest form of misbehavior, of course, is political intervention because it completely runs counter to the market logic. Thus, apologists of capitalism like Milton Friedman see political intervention as misguided shackles on the market's invisible hand. However, if we see both individual capitalists' appetite for profit and political intervention as indispensable parts of the capitalist mode of production, it is possible to explain the de-linking of dollar rates, current account deficits, and business cycles without swinging wildly between theoretical assumptions of complete information and the practical retreat from reason into irrational instincts.

The First Recurrence of a Strong Dollar: the Second Cold War and Industrial Restructuring

The disintegration of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, economic crises, and an upswing of anti-imperialist and workers struggles in the 1970s challenged the capitalist world order, which largely had been shaped by the US in the aftermath of World War Two. The US bourgeoisie, after recovering from the shock of not being invincible, reacted to these challenges with a declaration of war against the Soviet Union, anti-imperialist movements, and the American working class. This war against the world's subordinated classes aimed at the expansion of world markets and a shift of income distribution from wages to profits. Propertied classes from all capitalist countries honored the strategic farsightedness and boldness with which the American bourgeoisie carried out the program for profit expansion through massive investments in the US. These capital inflows led to a rising dollar, indicating the trust that capitalists of all countries deposited in restored US hegemony.

Each increase in the dollar value from 1979 to 1985 pushed organized labor in the US further onto the defensive. Imported goods that became more competitive as a result of the rising dollar limited sales opportunities for domestic industries. US bosses eagerly used more competitive markets as a pretext to attack the incomes and working conditions of their workers.

The anti-socialist rollback (in this regard it should be remembered that American union bureaucrats and Soviet apparatchiks are nothing but varieties of the same socialist breed in the world view of US conservatives) soon started to bear fruits. Soviet interim leader Andropov already suggested, albeit vaguely, concession vis-à-vis the US-led West that would materialize under Gorbatchew. The AFL-CIO under Lane Kirkland, much more bound to class collaboration than the Soviet leaders, was at a loss in the face of the capitalist offensive right from its beginning. Under these circumstances, pushed by the US government, the American, German, and Japanese central banks heavily intervened in currency markets in 1985. Through this, the dollar was turned around, and competitive pressures were loosened, giving some relief to US industries. Increasing masses of surplus value that had been squeezed out of American workers thus could be realized through increasing market sales.

The Second Recurrence of a Strong Dollar: the New World Order and New Economy

The weak dollar from 1985 to 1995 was abandoned in the same way it was initiated, through coordinated central bank intervention. While industrial capital in the US enjoyed increasing sales and profits in the slipstream of the declining dollar, Wall Street became concerned about the future of the US as the world's financial center. In the early 1990s, the US, having just gone through recession, was manufacturing a new world order after the disintegration of the Soviet empire, so big money could persuade the government and central banks that the weak dollar was incompatible with the reputation of the last superpower. Steered by the emerging Wall Street-Treasury Complex, to use the term of liberal economist Jagdish Bhagwati, world capitalism entered a phase of multilaterally negotiated market expansion, computer-based reorganization of global supply chains, and financial explosion.

Profits were up for grabs again and the dollar was rising again, too -- until the New Economy bubble burst in 2001. After that, the military-industrial complex increasingly replaced Wall Street's threadbare capital fetish. Not the invisible hand of the markets but the iron fist of the US army was now declared the guarantor of profit. However, the US army's inability to end the insurrections in Iraq and Afghanistan has closed the circle between the crisis of US hegemony in the 1970s and the present day. Back then, the American Way of Life, having reached its limits of productivity and profit growth, also lost much of its appeal. Notably, the Vietnam debacle made the US seem a paper tiger ready to be overthrown, and the civil rights movement and labor unrest led the power elite to fear the loss of their control. Since that time, the US dollar hegemony has been restored twice, first in the name of a Second Cold War and after that under the slogans of the New World Order and New Economy. The continuation of this fragile hegemony currently depends on the absence of serious challengers, be they imperialist rivals or anti-capitalist movements. Until such challengers materialize, US hegemony, as well as the dollar, will remain suspended in mid-air.

Ingo Schmidt teaches economics at the University of Northern British Colombia in Prince George. He also works as a labor educator.


4) Rich Countries Owe Poor a Huge Environmental Debt
By The Guardian, UK
January 21, 2008

The environmental damage caused to developing nations by the world's richest countries amounts to more than the entire third world debt of $1.8 trillion, according to the first systematic global analysis of the ecological damage imposed by rich countries.

The study found that there are huge disparities in the ecological footprint inflicted by rich and poor countries on the rest of the world because of differences in consumption. The authors say that the west's high living standards are maintained in part through the huge unrecognised ecological debts it has built up with developing countries.

"At least to some extent, the rich nations have developed at the expense of the poor and, in effect, there is a debt to the poor," said Prof Richard Norgaard, an ecological economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study. "That, perhaps, is one reason that they are poor. You don't see it until you do the kind of accounting that we do here."

Using data from the World Bank and the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the researchers examined so-called "environmental externalities" or costs that are not included in the prices paid for goods but which cover ecological damage linked to their consumption. They focused on six areas: greenhouse gas emissions, ozone layer depletion, agriculture, deforestation, overfishing and converting mangrove swamps into shrimp farms.

The team calculated the costs of consumption in low, medium and high income countries, both within their borders and outside, from 1961 to 2000. The team used UN definitions for countries in different income categories. Low income countries included Pakistan, Nigeria and Vietnam, and middle income nations included Brazil and China. Rich countries in the study included the UK, US and Japan.

Striking disparities

The magnitude of effects outside the home country was different for each category of consumption. For example, deforestation and agricultural intensification primarily affect the host country, while the impacts from climate change and ozone depletion show up the disparity between rich and poor most strikingly.

Greenhouse emissions from low-income countries have imposed $740 billion of damage on rich countries, while in return rich countries have imposed $2.3 trillion of damage. This damage includes, for example, flooding from more severe storms as a result of climate change.

Likewise, CFC emissions from rich countries have inflicted between $25 billion and £57 billion of damage to the poorest countries. Increased ultraviolet levels from the ozone hole have led to higher healthcare costs from skin cancer and eye problems. The converse figure is between $0.58 and $1.3 billion.

The team publish their results today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We know already that climate change is a huge injustice inflicted on the poor," said Dr Neil Adger at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Norwich, who was not involved in the research, "This paper is actually the first systematic quantification to produce a map of that ecological debt. Not only for climate change but also for these other areas."

"This is an accounting tool that allows you to say how much the high-income world owes the low-income world for the environmental externalities we impose on them," he said.

The team confined its calculations to areas in which the costs of environmental damage, for example in terms of lost services from ecosystems, are well understood. That meant leaving out damage from excessive freshwater withdrawals, destruction of coral reefs, biodiversity loss, invasive species and war. So the researchers believe the figures represent a minimum estimate of the true cost.

"We think the measured impact is conservative. And given that it's conservative, the numbers are very striking," said co-author Dr Thara Srinivasan, who is also at Berkeley.
—, January 21, 2008


5) Palestinians Topple Gaza Wall and Cross to Egypt
January 24, 2008

RAFAH, Egypt — Thousands of Palestinians streamed from the Gaza Strip into Egypt on Wednesday after a fence at the Rafah border crossing was toppled, going on a buying spree of fuel, medicine, soap, cigarettes and many other supplies that have been cut off during days of blockade by Israel.

The scene at the border was one of a great bazaar, with Palestinians piling donkeys, carts and motorcycles high with goats, mattresses, chickens, televisions, cement and other goods they had been unable to buy in Gaza.

Israel ordered the closing of its border crossings into Gaza last week, halting all shipments except for emergency supplies, after a sustained and intense barrage of rocket fire into Israel by militant groups in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. Israel allowed in some fuel, medical supplies and food on Tuesday, as temporary relief, but has said that its closure policy remains in place.

Initial reports suggested that Hamas militants had used explosives to blow a hole in the corrugated-iron border fence at Rafah. The Rafah crossing into Egypt has been shut since Hamas took over Gaza in a short war with Fatah last summer.

Witnesses reported hearing explosions early Wednesday morning, and said that Hamas then sent bulldozers to push the fence over. Some reports said Hamas militants had blown several holes along the fence. Later television footage showed that the fence had been toppled in several sections.

People began pouring over the fence before dawn, said one witness, Fatan Hessin, 45. She had crossed into Egypt to be reunited with a childhood friend. “I am not Hamas or Fatah, but I thank Hamas for this,” she said.

Arye Mekel, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said: “I think Hamas has been planning this for a long time. Maybe they thought this would be an opportune time.” He was referring to the mounting international concerns over Israel’s blockade.

Hamas supporters held a protest in Rafah on Tuesday, when dozens of protesters, many of them women, tried to push through the crossing into Egypt in two waves and were forced back by Egyptian police officers and soldiers, sometimes using a water cannon and shooting into the air.

On Wednesday, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said he ordered his troops to allow Palestinians finally to cross because the Palestinians were starving, The Associated Press reported.

"But today a great number of them came back because the Palestinians in Gaza are starving due to the Israeli siege," he said, according to the A.P.

Gaza’s population of 1.5 million depends on imports for most basic supplies. After the border fence fell, Egyptian merchants took goods to the Egyptian side of Rafah to sell, and some Palestinians were bringing home televisions and computers.

Bags of cement were in particular demand, since building materials have been in short supply for months due to restrictions Israel imposed after the Hamas takeover of Gaza. Israel suspects Hamas of using cement to build tunnels.

Muhammed Mowab, 22, a student and barber, said he brought in 25 bags of cement to build a home so that he could get married, which he has been awaiting for a year. He said he had paid the equivalent of about $5 per bag, compared with $75 a bag of cement in Gaza.

Gas stations on the Egyptian side of the border were besieged, according to the BBC.

There were few signs of police officers directing the crowds, and Egyptian border guards stood aside to let the Palestinians cross. Riot police waited a few streets away.

The Rafah crossing has been a point of controversy between Egypt and Israel. Hamas and Egypt have opened the crossing briefly on a few occasions, most recently to permit about 2,000 Palestinians to make the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

But Israeli officials contend that Hamas exploits these occasions to bring weapons and money into Gaza from Egypt.

Mr. Mekel, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said of the latest breach: “The danger is that Hamas and other terror organizations will take advantage of the situation to smuggle in weapons and men and make a bad situation in Gaza worse.”

Aid officials had warned earlier this week that Gaza, gripped by fuel and electricity shortages, was two or three days from a health and food crisis.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides assistance to Palestinian refugees and their descendants, announced Monday that it would have to suspend its food aid to 860,000 Gaza residents by Wednesday or Thursday if the crossings from Israel into Gaza were not reopened, because the group was running out of the nylon bags it uses to measure and distribute staples, like flour.

Ms. Hessin, who used the breach of the border to meet up with her childhood friend, Inshira Hanbal, on the Egyptian side, said: “We are extremely tired of this life. The closure, the unemployment, the poverty. No one is working in my household.”

On Tuesday, Israel pumped about 750,000 liters of industrial diesel into Gaza, part of the 2.2 million liters it said it would provide for one week only to Gaza’s main power station, which had shut down after its tanks ran dry.

On Tuesday afternoon, the plant started one of its three turbines, bringing power to parts of Gaza City that had been dark or running on generators.

Steven Erlanger reported from Rafah, Egypt, and Graham Bowley from New York. Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.


6) The Fed Weighs In
January 23, 2008

Tuesday’s stock market gyrations were stomach churning. There is no doubt that without the Federal Reserve’s large emergency interest rate cuts, the market slide would have been worse. The main stock gauges in the United States all fell, but not as far or as fast as some of their global counterparts and not as much as feared.

It is too early to put the antacids away. The surprise rate cuts — like the fiscal stimulus plan President Bush announced on Friday — were mainly intended to show that the powers-that-be can act decisively. That is better than the months of ambivalence and denial that have led up to this moment. There’s still no guarantee that it will be enough to pull the economy out of the hole.

Since last September when it began cutting rates in hopes of blunting the credit crunch, the Fed and its chairman, Ben Bernanke, have left the impression that they were reacting to events rather than steering them. Until this month, President Bush was touting the strength of the economy as if the prospect of more than one million Americans losing their homes and a possible recession were mere sideshows.

Rate cuts alone — even one as deep as Tuesday’s — are unlikely to provide a powerful enough fix, especially given the severe problems in the housing market. Rate cuts cannot forestall foreclosures, turn bad loans into good ones or undo the worse effects of the housing bust on consumer spending. At best, rate cuts may buy some time for the economy to stabilize without being derailed along the way by damaging market panics.

The White House and lawmakers are right that the economy needs a broader stimulus package. Mr. Bush’s $145 billion proposal is ample, but too heavily skewed toward tax rebates that would provide no relief for tens of millions of lower-income Americans. Mr. Bush’s proposal would also spend far too much on business tax breaks, which curry favor with his political base but will have far less bang for the buck than other options.

Little wonder then that the brutal sell-off in global markets so far this week was seen, in part, as a vote of no-confidence in the Bush administration’s ability to turn the American economy around.

If there is one message above all from this week’s global market turmoil, it is that the White House and Congress need to put aside their political and ideological differences and come up with a sound stimulus plan that helps to restore both confidence and the economy. The best way to do that is with a package that will get money back into the economy as efficiently as possible: bolstered unemployment benefits, more generous food stamps, aid to states and tax rebates that also go to low-income workers who are most likely to spend their extra cash immediately.

If policy makers are smart — and lucky — rate cuts and fiscal stimulus will help the economy rebound before Americans suffer much greater pain. If policy makers do not act sensibly and swiftly, they may find themselves where they clearly don’t want to be: trying to engineer an even more expensive and politically charged taxpayer-financed bailout of the mortgage mess. If falling markets aren’t incentive enough, that should prod them to get the fiscal stimulus right the first time around.


7) Congo’s Death Rate Unchanged Since War Ended
January 23, 2008

DAKAR, Senegal — Five years after Congo’s catastrophic war officially ended, the rate at which people are dying in the country remains virtually unchanged, according to a new survey, despite the efforts of the world’s largest peacekeeping force, billions of dollars in international aid and a historic election that revived democracy after decades of violence and despotism.

The survey, released Tuesday, estimated that 45,000 people continue to die every month, about the same pace as in 2004, when the international push to rebuild the country had scarcely begun. Almost all the deaths come from hunger and disease, signs that the country is still grappling with the aftermath of a war that gutted its infrastructure, forced millions to flee and flattened its economy.

In all, more than 5.4 million people have died in Congo since the war began in 1998, according to the most recent survey’s estimate, the latest in a series completed by the International Rescue Committee, an American aid organization. Nearly half of the dead were children younger than 5 years old.

Perhaps most alarming, while the death rate has slightly decreased in eastern Congo, the last festering node of conflict, it has actually increased in some parts of central Congo, though the area has not seen combat in several years. The study’s authors and other aid organizations said the focus of aid dollars on the east and neglect of the region by government were the most likely explanations for the changes. These surprising findings demonstrate the depth and complexity of Congo’s continuing crisis, said Richard Brennan, health director for the International Rescue Committee and one of the survey’s authors.

“The Congo is still enduring a crisis of huge proportions,” Dr. Brennan said. “Protracted elevations of mortality more than four years after the end of the war demonstrates that recovery from this kind of crisis is itself a protracted process. The international engagement has to be sustained and committed for years to come.”

The survey was based on a sample of 14,000 households surveyed in 700 villages and towns across Congo from January 2006 to April 2007.

Its authors emphasized that the figures in the report are estimates, based on widely accepted statistical methods for estimating death tolls in disasters, but the cumulative figure for how many have died since the war began has a wide margin of error given the difficulty of the terrain in Congo and the lack of precision in basic demographic information, like the prewar mortality rate or even Congo’s current population.

Still, improvements in security since 2004, when the last survey was completed, meant that researchers were able to visit many areas that were off limits last time, and as a result, its authors said, the current survey provides the most complete picture yet of the toll of Congo’s slide into despair.

That picture is not encouraging. The mortality rate in Congo is 57 percent higher than the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, the survey found. Particularly hard hit were young children, who are especially susceptible to diseases like malaria, measles, dysentery and typhoid, which can kill when medicine is not available. In one village in North Kivu Province, a hot spot of continued fighting, three women of the 20 households surveyed had lost two children each in the 16 months covered by the survey period, Dr. Brennan said.

Less than half a percentage point of the deaths were caused by violence, illustrating how the aftermath of war can be more deadly than combat itself. Much of the emergency aid is focused on the eastern part of the country, where militia battles with Congolese troops have chased nearly half a million people from their homes in the last year. A peace agreement to end that conflict was reached Monday.

But the increased mortality in areas outside of the volatile east is particularly worrying because it points to longer-term problems that endure long after the bullets have stopped flying.

“Given the nature of this country, the vast differences in terrain, the broken infrastructure, I am not surprised,” said Alan Doss, the newly appointed chief of the United Nations’ vast peace operation in Congo. “This will take a long time to turn around.”

The Congolese government spends just $15 per person each year on health care, according to the World Health Organization, less than half of what is recommended to provide the most basic but lifesaving care, like immunizations, malaria-fighting mosquito nets and hydration salts.

“The past two years, we can say the health situation has not improved at all,” said Brice de le Vingne, operations coordinator for the region that includes Congo for the aid group Doctors Without Borders. “The only thing that improved a bit is mobile phone coverage. We now are in contact with more people to know that the situation is not good.”

Mortality surveys are crucial tools for aid agencies, United Nations peacekeepers and even historians, but the methods used to compile them have come under attack.

For example, a 2006 survey by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that concluded that 600,000 Iraqi civilians had died since the American invasion — far above the estimates given by the Iraqi government and other sources — was attacked as “not credible” by President Bush and the Pentagon, and criticized by other scientists as well.

For the current survey, teams of workers fanned out across Congo, a nation as big as the United States east of the Mississippi, but with rivers instead of roads, canoes and bicycles instead of airplanes and cars.

Debarati Guha-Sapir, director of the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, a research institution in Belgium, said that the Congo survey was methodologically sound. Still, extrapolating from clusters of data over an area as vast and with as many unknowns as Congo presents particular problems, she said.

“The fact is that you have a high mortality rate in Congo altogether by any standard,” Dr. Guha-Sapir said. “Of which some is the result of conflict, some is governance, some is that no heath services are available in many areas, some is just pure poverty and the horrible legacy of what colonialism and Western greed did to Congo.”

A number of variables make the survey results inevitably imprecise, particularly when trying to turn an abstract death rate into a number of actual deaths. The population of Congo, for example, is essentially unknown: the United Nations estimated it to be 56.8 million; the Congolese Ministry of Health says it is 69.9 million. If the United Nations figure is right, for example, the actual number of deaths in the most recent survey period would be 522,000, but if the government figures are right, the figure would be 1.05 million, the study found.

The number of deaths attributed to the conflict and its aftermath is based on how many people would be expected to die under normal circumstances. Because Congo’s prewar mortality rate is disputed by different sources, it is also a source of imprecision.

According to various United Nations estimates, the prewar rate was below that of sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, but the survey’s authors said they chose to use the higher rate of the continent to be conservative.

Still, even the death rate for sub-Saharan Africa could be a problematic baseline, said Dr. Guha-Sapir, because in many countries the most basic kinds of censuses are carried out rarely, and not always with precision.

Ultimately, using the most conservative and least conservative assumptions, the data show with 95 percent certainty that 3.5 to 7.8 million people have died since 1998, according to the survey’s authors.

An earlier survey by the International Rescue Committee, completed in 2004, was published in 2006 in The Lancet, a British medical journal, but the most recent survey was declined for publication by The Lancet. Other experts said such a rejection did not necessarily undercut the scientific validity of the findings.

Dr. Brennan said that despite inevitable imprecision, the data point to a vast crisis.

“Is it possible that as few as five million people died?” he said. “It’s much more likely that 5.4 million died. But the exact number isn’t as critical. These data can help us understand the scale of the problem and target our solutions to save lives.”


8) A $200-a-Gram Tax on Cocaine
By Sewell Chan
January 23, 2008, 12:21 pm

Among the hundreds of proposals contained in Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s second executive budget, which he unveiled on Tuesday in Albany, is a provision that would impose a $3.50-a-gram tax on marijuana and a $200-a-gram tax on other illegal drugs, like cocaine.

We took a look at the fine print to better understand the details of this legislative proposal — which, incidentally, is very similar to a proposal that Mayor Edward I. Koch put forward in 1988. (That proposal, to tax illegal drugs in New York City, also at a rate of $200 a gram, did not come to fruition.)

The new Spitzer proposal would require “tax stamps” on “all marihuana and controlled substances acquired or possessed by a dealer in this state,” defined as any person who makes, buys, owns, distributes or transports drugs into or within the state. (And yes, the state government spells marijuana with an H, not a J — a quirk that The Times explained last year.)

This part of the proposal, which would require approval by the State Legislature to become law, seemed particularly noteworthy:

The bill sets a tax stamp rate for marihuana of $3.50 per gram, and of a controlled substance at $200 per gram or fraction thereof, whether pure or dilute. The tax is paid by the dealer, in advance of his or her receipt of the marihuana or controlled substance, through the purchase of tax stamps from the Department of Taxation and Finance (“Department”). Upon receipt of the product, the dealer must affix enough stamps to the packages of marihuana or the controlled substance in order to show the tax has been fully paid.

Of course, drug dealers are unlikely to obtain tax stamps before selling their illegal wares. So the law would require police agencies and district attorney offices to notify the State Taxation and Finance Department about any dealer who has failed to pay the tax. “This requirement does not apply, however, if providing the information would violate a legal prohibition or would interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution,” the proposal states.

The Spitzer administration projects that the proposal would raise $13 million in the 2008-9 fiscal year and $17 million each year thereafter. According to the Spitzer administration, 29 other states have already passed laws imposing tax liability for controlled substances: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that supports legalization of marijuana and seeks to move the war on drugs from criminal justice to public health, expressed concern about the proposal in a phone interview. He said:

I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, it seems perfectly reasonable for people to pay on a tax on selling something, whether it’s legal or illegal. On the other hand, these tax stamps seem like a gratuitous piling-on in the drug war. We already in this country and this state lock up people more frequently, and for longer periods of time, on drug charges than almost any other country. We already subject them to civil and criminal asset forfeiture. We already keep them on parole and probation longer than anybody else, thereby effectively reducing their ability to earn legal income once they come out of jail or prison. And we’re already spending tens of billions of dollars locking up people for drug-law violations. If Spitzer really wants to help deal with the budget issue, he should be more aggressive in reforming the Rockefeller-era drug laws.

Mr. Spitzer has, in fact, appointed a commission to examine the Rockefeller-era drug laws, which impose harsh penalties even for nonviolent drug users, but the commission is not expected to make sweeping changes to existing law. The new Spitzer proposal would include a civil penalty for failure to pay the tax, among other enforcement provisions.

In several states where laws imposing tax stamps on drugs have been adopted, the laws have been challenged on the grounds that they violate double jeopardy. In other words, drug dealers who already have served their sentence may not then face a separate punishment in the form of taxes on their drug sales, some courts have ruled. In Tennessee, which imposed a tax on illegal drugs in 2005, the state collected $3.5 million over two years, but an appellate court has found the law to be unconstitutional.

As Mr. Nadelmann pointed out, New York State already has procedures for seizing the assets of drug dealers — the taxes would be on top of any such property seizure.

Taxes on illegal goods actually have a long history in the United States — and the stamps that authorities have printed to be affixed to illegal drugs have been often sought after by collectors and philatelists.


9)It Ain’t The Voting That Counts—It’s the Counting!
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
January 17, 2008

As the “election” of the ruling party of Kenya fades into history’s rear-view mirror, the state unleashes its own brand of legalized violence against opponents of the regime, by shooting protesters, not just with the occasional tear gas canister, but with live bullets. Making protest against a deeply flawed, rigged presidential election, a capital crime.

So much for democracy.

For generations now, the elites of the West, that is, those alleged human rights and democracy proponents from Europe, the UN, and the U.S., have given their blessings to the barest caricatures of democracy, by applauding the outward forms, such as multi party elections, voting, and all the processes of external observance.

Yet, because they and their constituencies have traditionally benefited from the savage inequalities of these post colonial arrangements, they have not cared to look too closely, for they cared little to see what lay beneath.

These quasi-democracies are often jury-rigged set pieces, the height of scene-setting, to allow the moneyed elites among various societies to shake hands, smile for an occasional photo op, and go their merry ways, while the looting, exploitation, and rape of the poor continues unabated.

Thus, we see Kenya, lauded as the jewel of East Africa, as long as its rich agricultural and mineral wealth flows out of Kenya to its traditional consumers.

As in the United States, democracy has become a cheapened coin in the realm of politics.

In Pakistan, Kenya, and in other parts of the world that we used to denote as the “Third World”, democracy is seen as something to fight for. It is so serious that people take to the streets to be beaten, shot and killed by the uniformed defenders of dictatorial “order”.

Here in the States, stolen elections are papered over, sent to robed sycophants who proclaim that “the king can do no wrong”, while democracy dies in self-imposed silence.

Should it surprise us that, among the first countries to offer congratulations for a successfully rigged election in Kenya, was the U.S.? After all, it takes one to know one.

While that initial kudos was later withdrawn, it signaled to the ruling elites that the Americans wouldn’t be much of a problem with a stolen election (as long as it’s our guys who do the stealing!)

Meanwhile, if present counts are to be trusted, at least 1,000 Kenyans have perished in this latest convulsion of conflict, with at least 100 shot to death by police.

Here, as in Rawalpindi, as in Karachi, as in Birmingham, people are literally bleeding for democracy—an on which side does the U.S. stand—the people, or the dictators? The people, or the election-stealers?

Democracy is more, much more, than a phrase to be thrown out to justify a war for profit, or an imperial project. It is far more than the presence of a ballot box. It is either democracy, or it ain’t.

In this historical hour, we see time’s echo of the now-past Cold War, where the U.S. invariably chose the most blood-drenched dictators it could find, to support in struggles against their own people.

Generations have passed in that interim, and only the labels have changed.

Generals, strongmen, princes and bullies remain America’s best “allies”, no matter what they do to their own people.


10) U.S. to Insist Iraq Grant It Wide Mandate in Operations
January 25, 2008

WASHINGTON — With its international mandate in Iraq set to expire in 11 months, the Bush administration will insist that the government in Baghdad give the United States broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors immunity from Iraqi law, according to administration and military officials.

This emerging American negotiating position faces a potential buzz saw of opposition from Iraq, with its fragmented Parliament, weak central government and deep sensitivities about being seen as a dependent state, according to these officials.

At the same time, the administration faces opposition from Democrats at home, who warn that the agreements the White House seeks would bind the next president by locking in Mr. Bush’s policies and a long-term military presence.

The American negotiating position for a formal military-to-military relationship, one that would replace the current United Nations mandate, is laid out in a draft proposal that was described by a range of White House, Pentagon, State Department and military officials on ground rules of anonymity. It also includes less-controversial demands that American troops be immune from Iraqi prosecution, and that they maintain the power to detain Iraqi prisoners.

However, the American quest for immunity for civilian contractors is expected to be particularly vexing, because in no other country are contractors working with the American military granted protection from local laws.

These officials said the negotiations with the Iraqis, expected to begin next month, also would determine whether the American authority to conduct combat operations in the future would be unilateral, as it is now, or whether it would require consultation with the Iraqis or even Iraqi approval.

“These are going to be tough negotiations,” said one senior Bush administration official preparing for negotiations with the Iraqis. “They’re not supplicants.”

Democrats in Congress, as well as the party’s two leading presidential contenders, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, have accused the White House of sponsoring negotiations that will set into law a long-term security relationship with Iraq.

But administration officials said that the American proposal specifically does not set future troop levels in Iraq or ask for permanent American bases there. Nor, they said, does it offer a mutual security guarantee defining Washington’s specific responsibilities should Iraq come under attack.

Including such long-term commitments in the agreement would turn the accord into a bilateral treaty, one that would require Senate approval. The Bush administration faces the political reality that it cannot count on the two-thirds vote that would be required to approve a treaty with Iraq setting out such a military commitment.

Administration officials are describing their draft proposal in terms of a traditional status-of-forces agreement, an accord that has historically been negotiated by the executive branch and signed by the executive branch without a Senate vote.

“I think it’s pretty clear that such an agreement would not talk about force levels,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday. “We have no interest in permanent bases. I think the way to think about the framework agreement is an approach to normalizing the relationship between the United States and Iraq.”

While the United States currently has status-of-forces agreements with 80 countries around the world, including Japan, Germany, South Korea and a number of Iraq’s neighbors, none of those countries are at war. And none has a population outraged over civilian deaths at the hands of armed American security contractors who are not answerable to Iraqi law.

Democratic critics have complained that the initial announcement about the administration’s intention to negotiate an agreement, made on Nov. 26, included an American pledge to support Iraq “in defending its democratic system against internal and external threats.”

Representative Bill Delahunt, Democrat of Massachusetts, said that what the administration was negotiating amounted to a treaty and should be subjected to Congressional oversight and ultimately ratification.

“Where have we ever had an agreement to defend a foreign country from external attack and internal attack that was not a treaty?” he said Wednesday at a hearing of a foreign affairs subcommittee held to review the matter. “This could very well implicate our military forces in a full-blown civil war in Iraq. If a commitment of this magnitude does not rise to the level of a treaty, then it is difficult to imagine what could.”

Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, who raised concerns in a letter to the White House in December, said that the negotiations were an unprecedented step toward making an agreement on status of forces without the overarching security guarantees like those provided in the NATO treaty. He added that the Democratic majority would seek to block any agreements with the Iraqis, unless the administration was clear about its ultimate intentions in Iraq.

“There’s no exit strategy, because the administration doesn’t have one,” Senator Webb said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “By entering this agreement, they avoid a debate and they validate their unspoken strategy.”

Over recent days, administration officials acknowledged that the language of the Nov. 26 announcement went too far. The officials said that they were limiting the scope of the pending negotiations to issues that could be resolved this year, before the Security Council resolution expires.

To that end, administration officials said that the draft text was narrowly written to codify what the administration regards as four essential requirements for the American armed forces to continue the mission in Iraq.

In seeking immunity for contractors, the administration is requesting protections for the 154,000 civilian contractors working for the Defense Department in Iraq; most carry out such duties as driving trucks, preparing meals and the like. The administration says it depends heavily on those contractors, including about 13,000 private security contractors working for the Pentagon.

Under an earlier agreement between the United States and Iraq, those contractors have been exempt from Iraqi law. Justice Department officials have said it is not clear whether any crimes committed by contractors in Iraq, including the role played by Blackwater employees in a September shooting in Baghdad, would be subject to American law, but the administration has taken steps intended to close any loopholes.

In seeking authority to conduct combat operations, the Bush administration is seeking something similar to the current United Nations Security Council resolution, which allows the United States and other coalition forces to operate in Iraq “in support of mutual goals,” one Bush administration official said.

The official said that the agreement sought by the United States could allow Iraq to “rescind that authority at a later date as the security environment improves and they take over the mission.”

In contrast to the contractors, the immunity being sought for American military personnel is a standard part of most recent agreements for basing American forces on foreign soil. Such agreements grant exclusive jurisdiction over American forces to American law, specifically the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

In terms of prisoners, the administration and military would like the Iraqis eventually to take control of all battlefield detainees. But they say that the United States still needs the authority to hold those prisoners, because Baghdad does not yet have the capacity — in personnel, facilities or legal structures — to manage the current detainee population of about 26,000.

Senior administration officials say concerns that the agreement would limit the decisions of the next president are not justified.

“More than 90 percent of this will be a pretty standard status-of-forces agreement,” said one senior official involved in drafting the American proposal. “It is not something that will tie the hands of the next president.”

The military-to-military aspect of the relationship is to be negotiated by July 31, well ahead of the Dec. 31 expiration date for the United Nations Security Council Resolution that has been the core legal authority for the American-led military mission in Iraq. Diplomats also will negotiate political and economic relations between the two countries.

The draft American text on military-to-military relations, now under discussion at the White House, Pentagon and State Department, is short, running less than 15 pages.

“It’s not ‘War and Peace,’ and it doesn’t have a lot of hard-to-read legal jargon,” said one military officer who participated in drafting the text.

American officials are keenly aware that any agreement must be approved by Iraq’s fractured Council of Representatives, where Sunni and Shiite factions feud and even Shiite blocs loyal to competing leaders cannot agree.

A senior Iraqi defense ministry official said his government had been studying every American status-of-forces agreement, or SOFA, to understand what is the norm, and what is not.

“We know the Iraqis will compare it to others in the region and throughout the world,” a military officer involved in the discussions said. “We do not want them to believe they are held to different SOFA standards.”


11) Bloomberg Proposes Budget Cuts Across City Agencies
By Diane Cardwell
Michael R. Bloomberg
January 24, 2008, 12:18 pm

Updated, 12:40 p.m. | With an already dim fiscal picture turning darker, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed a $58.5 billion budget today that would preserve a popular property tax cut and rebate but cut into virtually every agency, including core city services like education, police, fire, sanitation, cultural affairs and parks. Even after the budget cuts, however, total city spending would increase slightly.

The cuts, totaling nearly $1.5 billion over two years, include a $180 million reduction to the Department of Education this fiscal year and $325 million in the next, a sign of how serious the city’s economic troubles appear. Mr. Bloomberg, who won control of the school system in 2002, has staked much of his legacy on its improvement and has generally increased spending or allowed it to avoid reductions in tight times.

“No boom goes on indefinitely today,” the mayor said in a noontime news conference in the Blue Room at City Hall. “I think it’s fair to say that both the national and international economies are in a state of high volatility.”

The mayor spoke of “very troubling” fiscal deficits looming in the years ahead. Along with his proposed budget, the mayor today presented a four-year financial plan that anticipates deficits of about $4.2 billion in the 2010 fiscal year, $5.6 billion in 2011 and $5.3 billion in 2012. The mayor warned that future cuts may be needed because “we have to, by law, balance the budget.”

A City Hall statement noted the “high likelihood of recession” predicted by many economists. Last June, the city anticipated that Wall Street companies would generate $16.8 billion in profits in 2007; in fact, the real profits were just $2.8 billion.

Mr. Bloomberg lamented the “record decline in profitability” and noted that the city’s expenses tend to be fairly fixed, while its tax revenues vary depending on the state of the economy. Moreover, he said, “When things get difficult our expenses tend to go up because that’s when people tend to need services more.”

Despite the economic volatility, Mr. Bloomberg insisted that it was appropriate to continue a $400-a-year property tax rebate for homeowners and to extend, for a second year, a 7 percent reduction in the property tax rate. “When property values go up, the homeowner doesn’t really benefit unless they sell their house and don’t have to buy another house,” Mr. Bloomberg said, arguing that the huge run-up in home prices over roughly the last decade has not necessarily made it easier for property owners to meet higher tax burdens.

The mayor predicted that property tax revenues would continue to grow because assessments have risen so much in recent years. (Tax levels trail assessments usually because the growth in tax liability for any property is capped under state law.) But transaction taxes — taxes collected when properties change hands — are “coming to a screeching halt,” the mayor said, cutting off what has been a flush source of revenue for the city, the state and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Although the proposed budget, which must be negotiated with the City Council over the next several months, seeks to spread a moderate amount of pain across all agencies, Bloomberg administration officials warned that if the economy worsened, the fiscal year starting on July 1 could be much worse, including higher property taxes and more severe service cuts.

Already, the proposed reductions could affect services in ways New Yorkers would notice, like less frequent garbage pickup and fewer library hours.

But even with the cuts, spending is still up slightly, with 1 percent growth in spending that city officials say they can control, and 3.7 percent over all.

Sewell Chan contributed reporting.


12) 10 Die in Mistaken Afghan Firefight
January 25, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least nine Afghan police officers and a civilian were killed early Thursday in a firefight between American forces and the officers in Ghazni Province, just south of the capital, local officials said.

The American forces were searching houses in a village on the outskirts of Ghazni town and blew open the gates of a house, according to local Afghan officials. District police officers heard the explosion and rushed to the scene, suspecting that the Taliban were in the area, but were themselves mistaken for Taliban and shot by the American soldiers, the officials said. Aircraft supporting the operation fired on one of the police cars.

The killings set off protests in the town on Thursday afternoon, and demonstrators blocked the main highway and prevented a government delegation from reaching the town from a nearby airfield, local officials said.

“Another big cruelty was made by American forces this morning,” said Khial Muhammad Hussaini, a member of Parliament from the province who was among the elders and legislators who had traveled to the town to try to calm people and persuade them to reopen the highway.

Zemarai Bashary, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul, confirmed the shooting and called it a “misunderstanding,” but said he had information on only eight deaths.

The confrontation happened when United States forces were conducting a night raid on the compound of a man suspected of being an insurgent and of organizing suicide bombings, according to Maj. Chris Belcher, the spokesman for the United States military at Bagram Air Base. The soldiers were part of the United States-led coalition that conducts counterterrorism operations, not part of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, he said.

The American soldiers came under fire from insurgent forces and fired back, Major Belcher said. He suggested that those killed were insurgents and said that he had no information on whether they were members of the national police. “I know there were some deaths, but I don’t have a number,” he said.

The Afghan government has repeatedly requested that United States forces coordinate with local authorities and take along Afghan security forces during operations because there have been many instances in which Americans have inadvertently killed civilians or local police officers.

But Mr. Hussaini, the Parliament member, said the American forces involved had not coordinated with any government authority before or during the raid.

Hajji Zaher, an elder in Ghazni town, gave this account: “At 3 a.m., when the Americans were searching the houses and when they blew up the gates, the police rushed to the area thinking that they were Taliban. And at the same time the Americans thought that the police were Taliban and there was a firefight.”

Habib-u Rahman, deputy chief of the Ghazni provincial council, said that nine police officers, including a district police chief, and a civilian had been killed and that four other police officers and a woman had been wounded.

“After the police came under fire, the police officers got out of their vehicle, and their vehicle was shot by a rocket from the plane,” Mr. Rahman said.

Eight people were detained by American soldiers, Mr. Rahman said, but two were from the provincial Education Department.

In other violence on Thursday, a NATO soldier was killed and two were wounded in an explosion in southern Afghanistan, NATO said in a statement.


13) Tens of Thousands More From Gaza Enter Egypt Seeking Consumer Goods
January 25, 2008

RAFAH, Egypt — Tens of thousands more Palestinians flooded across the breached border crossing from Gaza into Egypt on Thursday, and Egyptian merchants greeted them with a cornucopia of consumer goods and higher prices than on Wednesday, when Hamas militants toppled large sections of the fence.

Many more Egyptian police officers were at various ruptures in the barrier at Rafah, more of them in riot gear and some using batons with small electric charges to keep the huge, pushing crowds in some form of order.

And on Thursday, more members of Hamas security forces were visible on the Gaza side, maintaining calm and doing random checks for weapons possibly being smuggled in for Fatah, the rival faction Hamas forced out of Gaza in June.

But neither group tried to stop the shoppers and businessmen restocking their wares in Egypt, nor did Hamas make any visible effort to control or tax the thousands of cigarettes coming into Gaza, let alone the televisions, generators, washing machines, milk, cheese, sheep, goats, cows, camels, diesel fuel and gasoline.

Hamas gunmen could be seen quietly taking delivery of hundreds of bags of cement. Israel has sharply restricted cement imports to Gaza, even for aid projects, because it says Hamas diverts the supply to build fortified tunnels and emplacements for use against any major Israeli military action.

Exchange rates and prices were up, as were the amounts Gazans were buying, with the clear intent to resell in Gaza. So intense was the trading that even some Palestinians worried that there would be a backlash from impoverished Egyptians in Rafah.

“This is not so good for the Palestinian people,” said Ahmed Shawa, a Gaza engineer who entered Egypt on Thursday. “Prices are becoming very high while people in Egyptian Rafah don’t have bread. If I go to your country and buy everything and you don’t have bread, you’re going to hate me.”

Hamas officials said they took action to open the Egyptian border after Israel decided last week to stop nearly all shipments into Gaza, including industrial diesel fuel needed to run Gaza’s main power plant and gasoline, in an effort to push Gazan militants to stop firing rockets at Israeli towns and farms.

Under severe international criticism, Israel relented, but only temporarily. It agreed to supply a week’s worth of fuel, but limited supplies again after the border breach.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt considered his options. But Egyptian officials made it clear on Thursday that while Egypt would not hinder Palestinians seeking food and other goods, it would not accept a lawless border, open to arms traffic and unregulated travel of gunmen and political extremists.

Israel and the United States said it was Egypt’s responsibility to bring the border situation under control.

Gen. Ahmed Abdel Hamid, the governor of northern Sinai, estimated that as many as 120,000 Palestinians were in Egypt, but he said they were not being allowed to travel beyond El Arish, which lies slightly west of Rafah. He said he thought the border might stay open for another “four or five days” and then be closed pending another agreement on what to do.

“You have to see where this problem came from,” he said. “Before the dispute between Hamas and Fatah, the border was open every day with no problem. Since the dispute, the border has been closed.”

In fact, before the fighting between the Palestinian factions over the summer the Rafah crossing was closed more often than it was open. But General Abdel Hamid emphasized that Egypt was not favoring one faction or another, saying, “Egypt is with the legitimate authority,” presumably the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.

Mr. Mubarak’s officials said Egypt would not accept responsibility for supplying Gaza and let Israel off the hook, as some Israeli officials hope.

“This is a wrong assumption,” said Hossam Zaki, the spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry. “The current situation is only an exception and for temporary reasons. The border will go back to normal.”

But the definition of normal was left unclear. When Israel pulled its settlers and troops out of Gaza in 2005, the Rafah crossing was opened with great fanfare to allow people in and out of Gaza. European Union supervisors were put in place, and Israeli video cameras monitored the traffic. But for security reasons, the crossing was often closed, and it has been shut completely since Hamas took over Gaza.

It will be difficult politically now for Mr. Mubarak to reseal the border completely, shutting off any outlet for Gaza. Egypt, with a strong opposition element from the Muslim Brotherhood, does not want to offend its Palestinian wing, Hamas. But Mr. Mubarak would prefer to work out an arrangement with the legal authority, President Abbas. In addition, Mr. Mubarak has promised Israel that Egypt will coordinate its actions on the Gaza border to preserve security interests of both countries.

In a speech on Thursday, Mr. Mubarak said that “peace efforts cannot endure any other failure, and Egypt will not allow the starving of Palestinians in Gaza or that the situation in the strip turns into a humanitarian crisis.”

He called on Palestinian factions to work together and said, “No one can outbid Egypt in its support for this silent nation and their just cause.”

Egypt, he said, “is doing its utmost in its movements and contacts to end their suffering and to lift the Israeli measures of collective punishment and to bring back the supply of fuel and electricity and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas officials want to regulate the border but reopen the crossing in coordination with Egypt. They also want to allow the import and export of goods. A Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, said in an interview that Hamas wanted to end the system under which Israel collects import duties and taxes for the Palestinians. Israel does not give those receipts to Hamas, but only to the Palestinian Authority government, based in Ramallah, in the West Bank.

He also said the Israeli economy was too expensive for Gazans, while prices of everything, including electricity, flour and gasoline, were much cheaper in Egypt.

On Thursday, the Israeli deputy defense minister, Matan Vilnai, said openly what some senior Israeli officials would only say anonymously on Wednesday — that Israel would like to hand over responsibility for Gaza to Egypt, in essence supporting the Hamas position. “We need to understand that when Gaza is open to the other side we lose responsibility for it,” Mr. Vilnai said. “So we want to disconnect from it.”

He said Israel’s effort to disengage from Gaza “continues in that we want to stop supplying electricity to them, stop supplying them with water and medicine, so that it would come from another place.” But according to his office, he acknowledged that “we are responsible for it as long as there is no alternative.”

Mr. Abbas wants to ensure that Gaza is not permanently separated politically and economically from the West Bank, while even Hamas argues that Israel continues to be responsible for the well-being of Gazans because it continues to control Gaza’s sea and airspace and the only goods crossings.

On Sunday, Israel’s Supreme Court will hear an emergency appeal by Israeli human rights groups for an injunction against Israel’s cuts in electricity and in fuel supplies to Gaza.

Although Israel promised to deliver 580,000 gallons of industrial diesel fuel this week for Gaza’s sole power plant, which supplies much of Gaza City, only 333,000 gallons had been delivered by Thursday. The power plant, which had shut down for lack of fuel and is running only one turbine, will have to shut down again on Sunday unless new supplies are delivered. Normally, Israel and Egypt supply the rest of Gaza’s power needs.

U.N. Tells Israel to Lift Blockade

GENEVA — A special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council demanded Thursday that Israel lift its blockade of Gaza and condemned its “grave” human rights violations.

The resolution, sponsored by Syria on behalf of Arab states, made no reference to Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel. As a result, the council’s proceedings drew criticism for anti-Israeli bias, and 15 of its 47 members abstained.

Human rights groups also criticized the council for devoting four of the six special sessions it had convened in the two years of its existence to the Arab-Israeli conflict, while not taking up gross violations of human rights in Sudan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and other places.

Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo.


14) JCalifornia Justices Put Limits on Medical Marijuana Law
January 25, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — In the latest setback for advocates of medical marijuana in California, the State Supreme Court ruled Thursday that employers were within their rights to fire employees who fail drug tests.

The ruling, a 5-to-2 decision that affirmed the findings of lower state courts, involved a former Air Force mechanic, Gary Ross, who injured his lower back in a fall off an airplane wing in 1983. In 1999, a doctor, acting under the state’s Compassionate Use Act, prescribed marijuana in an effort to relieve Mr. Ross’s pain.

The act, approved by voters in 1996, legalized the use and sale of marijuana to those with a chronic illness or infirmity.

Two years after he began using the drug, Mr. Ross was fired from a job as a systems administrator with a telecommunications company after failing a drug test.

Mr. Ross filed suit, contending that his dismissal violated state laws barring wrongful termination and discrimination based on disability.

But the state’s highest court firmly rejected that argument on Thursday, saying that the act deals solely with criminal prosecution, not terms of employment.

“The Compassionate Use Act does not eliminate marijuana’s potential for abuse or the employer’s legitimate interest in whether an employee uses the drug,” Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar wrote.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative, free-enterprise group, praised the decision as a victory for “safe, drug-free workplaces.”

“You don’t want employers to be trying to figure who is impaired and who is not,” said Deborah J. La Fetra, a lawyer for the group.

“They need to have a bright-line, no-drugs-in-the-workplace rule.”

Advocates of medical marijuana said Thursday that they hoped the Legislature would provide medical marijuana users some workplace protections, and Assemblyman Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, said he planned to take up the cause.

Mr. Ross, now 46 and a host at outdoor camps in the Sacramento area, said he never intended to use marijuana on the job, only to relieve pain and help him sleep. But he said he was not surprised at the judges’ ruling.

“Their mind is stuck in 1967,” he said in a telephone interview. “They just say, ‘My mind was made up in the 1960s, and that’s the way it’s going to stay.’ ”


15) Detectives in Shooting of Unarmed Man Seek to Waive Trial by Jury
January 25, 2008

The three detectives charged in the killing of Sean Bell have opted to be tried by a judge rather than a jury, prosecutors said Thursday.

A hearing on the defendants’ plan to waive their right to a jury trial — a legal strategy considered by many to be risky — before Justice Arthur J. Cooperman is set for Friday at 2 p.m. in Queens Criminal Court. Waiving a jury trial must be done in writing before the judge, though such requests are generally granted.

The announcement came one day after an appeals court denied the detectives’ request to have the trial moved out of New York City.

A bench trial promises to cool the tenor of the proceedings. Such trials generally appeal to defense lawyers who may think that jurors in a particular jurisdiction could be biased against their clients.

Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard F. Isnora and Marc Cooper, their lawyers and prosecutors are expected to attend Friday’s hearing, said Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney. The meeting follows a letter to prosecutors and the court from one of the defense lawyers, Steven R. Kartagener, stating the detectives’ wish for a bench trial, Mr. Brown said. Defense lawyers declined to discuss the hearing or the new strategy on Thursday.

On Nov. 25, 2006, Mr. Bell, 23, was leaving a strip club in Queens with two friends on the day of his wedding when the detectives and other police officers, working undercover, followed them. The officers have said they believed the group was going to retrieve a gun and shoot at another group at the club. When Mr. Bell seemed to try to flee or ram the officers with his car, the police have said, the detectives opened fire, killing him and wounding his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, in a barrage of 50 bullets. The detectives have said they believed they were being fired upon, but no gun was found in the car.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has spoken on behalf of Mr. Bell’s family and fiancée since the shooting, expressed dismay at the notion of a bench trial in a statement Thursday.

“I think that it is stunning that these officers want to do everything but be accountable to the people they serve in Queens,” Mr. Sharpton said. “Police should be accountable to the people they serve. It is interesting they would be accountable to people in another venue, but in Queens they do not want to face the people.”

Mr. Brown, the district attorney, was less inflamed. “Defendants have an absolute right under the law to have the case tried by a judge rather than before a jury,” he said. “Either way, I’m certain that they will receive a fair trial.”

It is a strategy that is quite risky, said Gerald L. Shargel, a longtime criminal defense lawyer. “There are so many complex elements in an acquittal that are absent when you try the case before a judge,” he said. “There are many opportunities that are lost.”

A recent example of a bench trial under similar circumstances was the second trial of a police officer, Bryan A. Conroy, in the fatal shooting of Ousmane Zongo, 43, an unarmed African immigrant, in a Chelsea warehouse.

On May 22, 2003, Officer Conroy was standing guard over seized counterfeit CDs in the warehouse when he encountered Mr. Zongo, who he said ignored his commands to stop. In the confrontation that followed, the officer shot Mr. Zongo four times, twice in the back. A previous trial ended in a mistrial after two jurors refused to vote with the others to convict Officer Conroy, who was charged with second-degree manslaughter.

At the bench trial in 2005, Justice Robert H. Straus convicted Officer Conroy of criminally negligent homicide, a lesser charge.

In the Bell case, Detectives Oliver and Isnora face charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter. Detective Cooper faces two misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment.

The waiver could delay the start of the trial, now scheduled for Feb. 4, as several days allotted for jury selection would no longer be necessary.

Mr. Shargel said that a defendant should try a criminal case before a judge rather than a jury only under certain circumstances.

“If they think they have a good case, and it’s not about credibility, and it’s not about sympathy,” he said, “it’s a cold question of the reasonableness of the police reaction, and the reasonableness of the police officers, and you have a judge who’s sympathetic to those arguments, I’d still be scared to death.”


16) Patriot Act Upheld in Sailor’s Terrorism Case
January 25, 2008

NEW HAVEN (AP) — A federal judge ruled Thursday that the Patriot Act is constitutional, rejecting a claim by a former sailor charged with supporting terrorism that the evidence against him was illegally obtained.

The defendant, Hassan Abu-Jihaad, 31, of Phoenix, pleaded not guilty in April to charges that he provided material support to terrorists with intent to kill American citizens and disclosed classified information relating to national defense. His trial is scheduled for Feb. 25.

The authorities say that Mr. Abu-Jihaad leaked a document describing the location and vulnerabilities of a Navy battle group to suspected terrorism supporters in London.

In challenging intercepted phone calls and searches of e-mail messages that prosecutors want to introduce at trial, Mr. Abu-Jihaad cited a ruling in September by Judge Ann L. Aiken of Federal District Court in Oregon that struck down crucial portions of the Patriot Act as unconstitutional.

Judge Aiken ruled that the act could not be used to authorize secret searches and wiretapping to gather criminal evidence instead of intelligence without violating the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The Bush administration is appealing that ruling.

In Thursday’s ruling, Judge Mark R. Kravitz of Federal District Court here said he disagreed with the Oregon ruling, citing other court decisions and safeguards in the law to protect constitutional rights.

“The balance Congress struck between an individual’s important interest in privacy and the government’s legitimate need to obtain foreign intelligence information remains reasonable and one that complies with the Fourth Amendment,” Judge Kravitz wrote in his decision.

Judge Kravitz acknowledged that the issue might go to a higher appeals court.


17) Truth as Casualty - A Response to Carol Brightman and Carl Ogelsby on the
By Ralph Schoenman, January 21, 2008
Taking Aim Bulletin - January 26, 2008 - please distribute widely
Taking Aim

[Thanks to all of you who have sent messages of support since we sent out
Ralph's recent article "Truth As Casualty - A Response to Carol Brightman
and Carl Ogelsby on the Sixties." Please distribute the article widely
(reprinted again below)

Since many of you have requested that we discuss these issues on Taking Aim,
we shall devote our upcoming program, Tuesday, January 29, to the topic and
shall include a call-in section for listener questions and comments.

As Ralph writes:
U.S. rulers and those who do their bidding have no monopoly on
self-serving falsification of historical events and of the policies, motives
and actions of those involved.

The radicalization that emerged during the 1960¹s unfolded amid uneven
consciousness and important differences in political ideas.

Many were motivated by the illusion that the powers that be could be
influenced and induced to do the right thing. Expectations from the
Democratic Party defined politics in the sixties including the attempt to
substitute dramatic individual action for an anti-capitalist movement
grounded in the working class in America.

At the same time, the enormity of the U.S. genocidal assault upon
Vietnam induced those who had no confidence in the ability of the oppressed
to fight back successfully to seek some form of concession to appease U.S.
imperialism ­ all in the name of practicality and peace.

Many who waged a committed struggle to defeat U.S. imperial war at home
and abroad sought to reclaim the socialist ideal and separate it from the
detritus of Stalinist deformation.

The politics of Stalinism include not merely a political system parallel
to that of fascism but an insistence upon a deal with imperialism, a
partnership that would abort revolutionary transformation by deflecting
movements for change into the arms of the parties of Capital.

The politics that drove the sixties and deformed them are with us as
intensely now as they were forty-five years earlier.

Many who now seek to re-write those years to suit their predilections
and to posture regarding their presumptive roles have made truth a casualty
of their petty ambition and unstated political agenda.

A current memoir on the sixties and a review article about it
encapsulate the theme of this week¹s Taking Aim: Truth As Casualty]

In an article entitled ³Carol Brightman on the Sixties² (Truth-Dig, January
6, 2008) Ms. Brightman reviews three books, including Ravens In the Storm: A
Personal History of the 1960¹s Anti-War Movement by Carl Oglesby.

The article is replete with falsehoods and disinformation concerning the
work of the International Tribunal on U.S. War Crimes in Indo-China, of
which I was Secretary-General, and of my role within it.

Ms. Brightman¹s errors, large and small, embellish the pattern of distortion
in Mr. Oglesby¹s book. The most egregious of these fabrications concerns the
views of Jean-Paul Sartre, Executive President of the Tribunal and of other
Tribunal members on the question of genocide.

Ms. Brightman¹s claims regarding her own role are instructive, not merely
for their petty misrepresentations but for what she conceals. She writes,
³Early in 1967, I had gone on the second of the tribunal¹s two fact-finding
teams to North Vietnam, the only American and only woman.²

In fact, not two but six investigative teams were sent to Cambodia and North
Vietnam, with supplemental investigative work carried out in the liberated
zones of South Vietnam. Ms. Brightman was not the sole American on the
second team, but one of three.

She omits to mention that members of these teams had been briefed about the
sensitivity of our work, notably in countries under agonizingly massive and
continuous attack by overwhelming U.S. air and ground assault.

Each potential participant had been vetted for their qualifications to
examine evidence pertaining to the issues at hand and, in particular, for
responsible discretion with respect to U.S. intelligence efforts to obtain
information about Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian logistics on the ground.

Visas for members of these teams were arranged with the authorities in these
countries based upon such assurances. To our dismay, when we boarded the
plane in Paris for Phnom Penh, accompanying Ms. Brightman was a man unknown
to us who carried an ABC television camera.

Ms. Brightman stated that this was her boyfriend, whom she had invited to
join our investigative team and participate in its work. We explained that
this was not possible, that he was unknown to us, had not been placed on the
team and had not been approved for visas by the governments of Cambodia and
the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. We advised her that he would not be
admitted to Phnom Penh unless he had a visa arranged by ABC and that,
regardless, he would have no part in our work.

On arrival, he gained entry by representing falsely that he was a late
inclusion in our investigative team. He shared quarters with Ms. Brightman,
who attempted daily to insinuate him in our work.

This was refused by the team collectively. Members of the investigative team
met to decide how to deal with this situation. The abiding sentiment was to
remove Ms. Brightman from the team and exclude her from its work; there were
concerns that we were in the presence of a provocation intended to discredit
the team itself.

It was agreed that I would consult the Cambodian and Vietnamese authorities
and describe the situation fully. We learned that Ms. Brightman¹s friend had
attempted to interview officials and individuals, presenting himself as
³Bertrand Russell¹s representative.²

He was asked by the Cambodian authorities to leave. He showed up in Saigon
where he conducted interviews with U.S. soldiers, later shown on U.S.
television. These were interviews sympathetic to U.S. policy.

The Vietnamese representatives in Phom Penh alerted Hanoi to the situation
and it was agreed that to avoid a public dispute deployed by U.S. media to
undermine the work of the Tribunal, Ms. Brightman would continue with us to
Hanoi, but that she would not be allowed access to any sensitive zone or

In her article, Ms. Brightman, describes ³drinking and swapping stories² at
the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi. ³Schoenman, it was said, had stood up at a
dinner with North Vietnamese leaders and rebuked them for thinking of peace.
He raised his glass in a victory salute; no one responded.²

The story is risible. I had been meeting with Ho Chi Minh, Pham Van Dong and
party and governmental figures over a period of four years to discuss how
most effectively to wage resistance to the U.S. war internationally,
including our preparations for the Tribunal that had been ongoing since

I was chair at the time of the Vietnamese Solidarity Campaign in Great
Britain, with sixty member organizations. Our public view, and that of
Bertrand Russell during those years, was that we must face U.S. rulers with
the demand ³Out Now,² not pressure the Vietnamese victims of onslaught to
make concessions to U.S. imperial policy in the name of ³peace.²

The occasion of these remarks by Ms. Brightman is an ostensible review of
Carl Oglesby¹s memoir. Ms. Brightman quotes extensively from ³Oglesby¹s
account² which, she states, ³gives a vivid portrait of Ralph Schoenman, the
American expatriate and Russell¹s representative.²

Mr. Oglesby writes as follows: ³Schoenman was about thirty, a tall man with
broad shoulders. He wore his black hair combed straight back and varnished
down. His skin was pale, his dark eyes nervous and darkly shadowed. He was
always in a black turtleneck sweater and dark blue blazer, always stiffly
erect with his chest out Š²

Mr. Oglesby¹s self-description to the Tribunal was as ³a playwright and
political essayist² and perhaps he thinks of himself as entitled to dramatic

My height is under 5¹ 10² and I am of slender build. My shoulders are not
broad nor does my chest protrude. My weight was in the 150¹s in 1967. It is
145 today. My hair is not black, but medium brown. I have never combed it
straight back nor plastered it to my scalp. My hair was combed loosely
forward, Beatles style.

My color now as then is pretty good. I have never been accused of suffering
from pallor. My eyes are light hazel with a touch of green, not black or
even dark. I have never owned a black turtleneck sweater nor attempted to
wear one. My standard dress was a suit or a jacket, dress shirt and necktie.
My preference in pullovers, worn occasionally in less formal settings, has
been those of light colors.

Mr. Oglesby may have someone else in mind. He writes, however, to Ms.
Brightman¹s delectation:

³In one closed meeting of the tribunal during our second session in late
November in a town called Roskilde, about twenty miles from Copenhagen,
Schoenman announced that Russell wanted the tribunal to take an affirmative
position on the genocide question, one of several questions the tribunal was

³The practical question was whether the United States was specifically
targeting Vietnamese population centers. Attacks on civilians constituted a
crime of war, technical genocide. Schoenman told us that Russell believed
such attacks were happening and that the United States was therefore guilty
of genocide.

³Sartre disagreed. He saw American attacks on population centers as a
consequence of the fact that Viet Cong and North Vietnamese combat units
often stationed themselves in cities and villages. As Sartre saw it, such
attacks were deplorable but nonetheless did not constitute genocide. In
Sartre¹s view, one could not use that term without evoking memories of
Hitler¹s assault on the Jews. Compared to the Holocaust, what the United
States was doing in Vietnam was just fighting an ugly war in an ugly way. If
the United States was in the wrong, he felt, that was because its effort to
subdue the Vietnamese resistance was in itself wrong, not because the United
States was trying to exterminate the Vietnamese people.²

The claim by Mr. Oglesby that U.S. saturation destruction of the civilian
population of Vietnam only occurred as an ancillary consequence of the
deliberate placement by the Vietnamese of their soldiers and armed forces
inside population centers is not merely a deeply reactionary and dishonest
claim. It was the lying rationale of the U.S. State Department and of the

Ms. Brightman writes that ³Oglesby was a great admirer of Jean-Paul Sartre,
who together with Simone de Beauvoir and Vlado (sic) Dedijer, a World War II
adjutant of Tito¹s and a hero of the Yugoslav anti-Nazi resistance, presided
over the tribunal. Schoenman represented Lord Russell, who remained a
ghostly figure in Wales.²

Fathering this contemptible lie upon Jean-Paul Sartre is a strange form of
admiration. Mr. Oglesby, cheered on by Ms. Brightman in her review, imputes
to Sartre a defense of U.S. imperialism against the ³baseless² charge of

He places in Sartre¹s mouth the revolting rationale of U.S. rulers
themselves that the mass death of civilians in Vietnam was really the fault
of the callous Vietnamese communists who hid their armies within population
centers to deploy massive civilian deaths (now called Œcollateral damage¹)
as cynical propaganda.

Mr. Oglesby elaborates upon these presumptive views of Sartre, which he
claims Sartre set forth in indignant opposition to my assertions that
genocidal attacks on the Vietnamese population were taking place.

³All day long Schoenman would say, on the one hand, things like, ŒLord
Russell says he expects the tribunal to find the United States guilty of
genocide,¹ where the subtext was that Russell was paying for this damned
thing and did not want to be unhappy with its findings. And then on the
other hand, when Sartre challenged him on the genocide issue, Schoenman
would say, ³ ŒDon¹t expect me to defend Lord Russell¹s positions because I
would not think of speaking for him.¹ ²

This is bizarre. I had been speaking and writing for six years on the
subject. The Student Peace Union in the United States had published Bertrand
Russell¹s writing on the genocidal war in Vietnam in 1963.

Bertrand Russell¹s book War Crimes In Vietnam, written before the Tribunal
took place, set forth evidence we had made public since 1962. The first
chapter, entitled ³The Press and Vietnam ­ March-July 1963² contains our
exchanges with the New York Times regarding our documented evidence of U.S.
saturation bombing of the civilian populace and of insidious chemical
weapons, including gases that explode the pupil of the eye.

It cites our letter to the New York Times referencing ³a year¹s study Š of
the chemicals sprayed in South Vietnam and their effect upon the health of
human beings, animals and crops.² It sets forth data concerning the use of
³white arsenic, various kinds of arsenite sodium and arsenite calcium, lead
manganese arsenates, DNP and DNC (which inflame and eat into human flesh);
and calcic cyanamide Š which has seriously affected thousands of the
inhabitants of South Vietnam; with having spread these poisonous chemicals
on large and densely populated areas of South Vietnam.

³ Š The use of these weapons,² we stated, ³napalm bombs and chemicals,
constitutes and results in atrocities and points to the fact that this is a
war of annihilation.²

This chapter describes how the New York Times published this letter, while
excising the cited evidence and then accused Russell in an editorial of
³spreading communist propaganda, as he in his heart must know.²

It is instructive to note that Mr. Oglesby imputes to Jean-Paul Sartre the
view that Bertrand Russell and I were ³following the line of North Vietnam²
on the subject of genocide.

War Crimes in Vietnam was published in 1967 by Monthly Review Press and by
George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. It included a 48 page essay of mine containing a
detailed eye-witness account of the weaponry used and the effects on the
population of North Vietnam.

It lists the members of the Tribunal. (Mr. Oglesby was not among them.) It
describes the planned convening of the Tribunal in London on November 13,
1966 ³to announce its structure, statement of aims and time table.² It
specified five areas of inquiry for which evidence would be assembled.

The fifth was ³the pursuit of genocidal policies, including forced labor
camps, mass burials and other techniques of extermination in the South.²
This issue and the evidence pertaining to it was on the agenda in Roskilde,
near Copenhagen.

As I described our work in Against The Crime of Silence, ³We proclaimed our
conviction that terrible crimes were occurring and that we were in
possession of evidence of such magnitude that it was essential to
investigate the charges of this accusation.

³Our evidence established that eight million people were placed in barbed
wire internment camps by U.S. and South Vietnamese forces. It showed the
systematic destruction of hospitals, schools, sanatoria, dams, dikes,
churches and pagodas. It demonstrated that the cultural remains of a rich
and complex civilization representing the legacy of generations had been
smashed in a terror of five million pounds of high explosives daily.

³Every nine months, this destruction is roughly equivalent to the total
bombardment of the Pacific theater in World War II. It is as if the Louvre
and the cathedrals had been doused in napalm and pulverized by 1000 pound

Mr. Oglesby does not rest at fathering upon Jean-Paul Sartre a rejection of
my presumptive dogmatic insistence, allegedly without concern for evidence,
that genocide was occurring in Vietnam. Mr. Oglesby attributes a fundamental
division on these matters to the Tribunal members at large:

³Apart from the existential problems between Sartre and Schoenman, this
split over the question of genocide was the one serious split among the
members of the tribunal. In crudest terms, Russell wanted a guilty verdict
on this question, but Sartre was determined to let the evidence speak for
itself. And as Sartre saw it, the evidence did not prove genocide. He
thought it essential that the tribunal demonstrate its independence by
voting to satisfy its own conscience. And he had let it be known that he
thought Russell in the wrong to push North Vietnam¹s line.²

Ms. Brightman, typically, cannot resist embellishing this citation. The word
³propaganda² is not Mr. Oglesby¹s but Ms. Brightman¹s, who slips it into her
citation of his text, writing ³North Vietnam¹s propaganda line.²

Mr. Oglesby resumes his breathless account of a supposed envenomed exchange
on the subject between Jean-Paul Sartre and myself:

³Schoenman didn¹t seem to care terribly about the quality of the evidence.
He had already harangued several closed sessions about this and was now
doing it again.²

Ms. Brightman picks up the theme eagerly from Mr. Oglesby:

³Lord Russell was unhappy to hear of the recent attacks upon him by certain
tribunal members,² Schoenman said, ³He is all the more distressed by these
attacks in that they are occasioned by large differences within the tribunal
on the issue of genocide.¹

³ ŒNo one has attacked Russell,¹ said Dellinger, who acted as the tribunal¹s
secretary and occasional peacemaker. We simply disagree with him on this
question. Why does he consider disagreement a personal attack?¹

³ ŒThat is for Lord Russell to say,¹ said Schoenman, ŒI would not presume to
speak for him. I am here only to say that Lord Russell believes the United
States guilty of genocide in Vietnam, and that he will be disappointed if
the tribunal continues to attack him for this view. He believes it
imperative that Š¹

³ ŒPremiere!¹ thundered Sartre. ŒOur findings will be significant only if
they are supported by facts. Deuxieme! It is you who are under attack,
Schoenman, not Lord Russell! Troisieme! You cannot both stand behind Lord
Russell and put him in your pocket!¹ ²

Ms. Brightman then writes as follows:

³Schoenman bowed his head slightly but kept his composure. ŒI will see that
Lord Russell receives a faithful account of your statement.¹ ³It was not a
Œknockout¹ as Oglesby puts it.²

Revealingly, Ms. Brightman tampers with a quotation once again. Mr. Oglesby
had written actually, ³It was not a knockout² with regard to the putative
denunciation of my views by Jean Paul Sartre.

Ms. Brightman alters Oglesby¹s text and places his ³knockout² comment after
my presumptive rejoinder!

Mr. Oglesby¹s breathless, blow-by-blow dramatization of this imputed
conflict between Jean-Paul Sartre and myself, unfolding as he recounts it in
Roskilde, near Copenhagen during the second session of the International War
Crimes Tribunal, has one fatal flaw to which your readers should be alerted.

I was never there!

The entire drama in Roskilde set forth by Mr. Oglesby never happened. Nor
was my inability to enter Denmark for the session of the Tribunal that Mr.
Oglesby purports to describe, something known only to insiders.

After my imprisonment in Bolivia immediately after the execution of Che
Guevara during October 1967, and following upon a five months sojourn in
Nuancahuazu during the time of Che Guevara¹s Bolivia campaign, I had
escaped, was recaptured and imprisoned again.

After being deported to Peru, Panama and the U.S., my passport was
nullified. The State Department refused to issue another, despite legal
intervention by Leonard Boudin, General Counsel of the Emergency Civil
Liberties Committee.

I secured an international travel document from the Democratic Republic of
Vietnam in a vain attempt to get to Copenhagen and Roskilde to resume my
duties as Secretary General of the Tribunal and to be present at the

My flight first landed in Amsterdam where I was taken into custody by
airport police. My Swedish lawyer, Hans-Joran Franck, who was an active part
of the preparatory team of the tribunal in Stockholm, arranged with the
Swedish government to allow my entry into Stockholm, whose good offices it
was assumed would be invoked to facilitate my admission into Denmark, albeit
on a North Vietnamese travel document.

Instead, the Swedish police took me off the flight and into jail where I was
roughed up, my sternum fractured. I was then placed on a plane bound for
Hamburg. Swedish supporters called in a bomb threat to the plane and it was
compelled to return to Stockholm, to much fanfare in the European press.

From there, I was placed on a flight that stopped in Helsinki, where the
police took me into custody. The name of the interrogating officer was Kafka
­ a touch, one would think, that would suit the theater of the absurd that
so tempts Mr. Oglesby.

For several days I was a ³flying Dutchman,² unable to land in any European
country, placed finally on a flight back to New York sandwiched between two
U.S. federal agents.

All of this received ongoing notice in the media, particularly in Sweden and
Denmark. I was not permitted to enter Denmark and did not attend the Danish
session of the Tribunal nor engage in dialogue with any of its members.

Mr. Oglesby is not fazed. Describing further his ³adventures² in Copenhagen,
he writes:

³Also sitting on the tribunal was the Polish historian Isaac Deutscher,
author of major biographies of Lenin, Trotsky and StalinŠ²

Unfortunately, my close friend, Isaac, died of a heart attack in Rome the
previous August 18th and, like me, was absent from the tribunal session in

The second session of the Tribunal alone examined the sixth question, on
which evidence was presented during that meeting, namely: ³Whether the
combination of the crimes imputed to the government of the United States met
the general qualification of genocide.²

This issue was discussed in Copenhagen, but without me.

What then of the actual opinions of Jean-Paul Sartre on the subject of
genocide and on the judgment appropriate to the Tribunal?

Did he espouse the views ascribed to him by Mr. Oglesby?

Fortunately, although Sartre is no longer with us, his views on the subject
are memorialized in his presentation On Genocide, published in Against The
Crime of Silence: Proceedings of the Russell International War Crimes
Tribunal ­ Stockholm and Copenhagen (Ohare Books, 1968), pages 612 to 626
and expanded upon by tribunal member Lelio Basso in his Summation on
Genocide, pages 626-643. They are entirely consonant with those of Russell
and myself.

Sartre¹s On Genocide states, ³The Americans want to show others that
guerrilla war does not pay: they want to show all the oppressed and the
exploited nations that might be tempted to shake off the American yoke by
launching a peoples¹ war, at first against their own pseudo-governments, the
compradors and the army, then against the U.S. Special Forces and finally
against the G.I.s. Š To Che Guevara, who said ŒWe need several Vietnams,¹
the American government answers ŒThey will all be crushed the way we are
crushing the first.¹²

He continues, ³They do offer an alternative: Declare you are beaten or we
will bomb you back into the stone age. The fact remains that the second term
of this alternative is genocide. They have said: ³genocide, yes, but
conditional genocide.² Is this juridically valid? Is it even conceivable?

³Š. An act of genocide, especially if it is carried out over a period of
several years, is no less genocide for being blackmail. Š And this is all
the more true when, as is the case here, a good part of the group has been
annihilated to force the rest to give in.²

Sartre is clear, specific and passionate:

³In the South, the choice is the following: villages burned, the populace
subjected to massive bombing, livestock shot, vegetation destroyed by
defoliants, crops ruined by toxic aerosols and everywhere indiscriminate
shooting, murder, rape and looting. This is genocide in the strictest sense:
massive extermination. Š What are the Vietnamese people to do to escape this
horrible death? Join the armed forces of Saigon or be enclosed in strategic
or ³New Life² hamlets, two names for the same concentration camps.²

Jean-Paul Sartre continues:

³As the armed forces of the United States entrench themselves firmly in
Vietnam, as they intensify the bombing and the massacres, as they try to
bring Laos under their control, as they plan the invasion of Cambodia, there
is less and less doubt that the government of the United States, despite its
hypocritical denials, has chosen genocide.²

Despite the claims by Ms. Brightman, pace Mr. Oglesby, that Sartre rejected
the evidence of genocide marshaled at the International Tribunal, his actual
words demonstrate where their half-truths lie.

Jean- Paul Sartre was unambiguous.

³The genocidal intent is implicit in the facts. It is necessarily
pre-meditated. Š The anti-guerrilla genocide that our times have produced
requires organization, military bases, a structure of accomplices and budget
appropriations. Therefore, its authors must meditate and plan out their

He continues as follows:

³When a peasant falls in his rice paddy, mowed down by a machine gun, every
one of us is hit. The Vietnamese fight for all men and the American forces
against all. Neither figuratively nor abstractly. And not only because
genocide would be a crime universally condemned by international law, but
because little by little the whole human race is being subjected to this
genocidal blackmail piled on top of atomic blackmail, that is, to absolute
total war.

³This crime, carried out every day before the eyes of the world, renders all
who do not denounce it accomplices of those who commit it, so that we are
degraded today for our future enslavement.²

Here is how Sartre concludes his exposition ³On Genocide²:

³In this sense, imperialist genocide can only become more complete. The
group that the United States wants to intimidate and terrorize by way of the
Vietnamese nation is the human group in its entirety.²

Mr. Oglesby and Ms. Brightman have imputed to Sartre an embrace of the
rationale of U.S. rulers for their genocidal war. In the process, they
reinvent me as a catspaw in furthering this farrago.

Late in 1968, well after the conclusion of the Tribunal sessions, the
Stalinist regime of Brezhnev invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the students
and steel workers who fought to reclaim the socialist ideal during the
Prague Spring.

I flew to Rome to meet Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir at the Hotel
Nazionale. We prepared a petition together to summon people to a defense of
socialism with democratic control and content.

Together, with Bertrand Russell, Antonin Liehm, C.L.R James and prominent
others, we prepared an international conference of socialists and
anti-imperialists to defend the Czech worker and student resistance.

That conference also took place in Stockholm ­ in early Spring 1969.

It is not the evil that is new; nor is it the crisis that has changed.

Today, forty-one years later, Ms. Brightman and Mr. Oglesby, reprise their
political role in these matters. In making truth a casualty to their
predilections and petty ambition, they evince, now as then, the dishonest
lengths to which they are prepared to go and, in the process, the limits of




National Briefing | ROCKIES
Montana: Bad News for Gray Wolves
A new federal rule would allow state game agencies to kill endangered gray wolves that prey on wildlife in the Northern Rockies. An estimated 1,545 wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are scheduled to come off the endangered species list in coming weeks, but the rule is a separate action that would give the three states more latitude to kill wolves even if their removal from the list was delayed. The rule would empower state wildlife agents to kill packs of wolves if they could prove that the animals were having a “major impact” on big-game herds.
January 25, 2008

Wolfowitz to Lead State Dept. Panel
WASHINGTON (AP) — Paul D. Wolfowitz, former president of the World Bank, will lead a high-level advisory panel on arms control and disarmament, the State Department said Thursday.
Mr. Wolfowitz, who has close ties to the White House, will become chairman of the International Security Advisory Board, which reports to the secretary of state. The panel is charged with giving independent advice on disarmament, nonproliferation and related subjects.
The portfolio includes commentary on several high-profile issues, including pending nuclear deals with India and North Korea and an offer to negotiate with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.
Mr. Wolfowitz was replaced as World Bank chief last June after a stormy two-year tenure. He is now a defense and foreign policy studies expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington research organization.
January 25, 2008

World Briefing | The Americas
Cuba: No Surprises, No Losers
Officials said that more than 95 percent of registered voters turned out at the polls on Sunday to endorse a slate of parliamentary candidates, including Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl. Of the 8.2 million voters, 3.7 percent submitted blank ballots and 1 percent voided their ballots in some way. Election officials called the results a success; critics called it a farce. As in past elections in the one-party state, nobody lost. There were 614 candidates and the same number of seats being chosen in the National Assembly.
January 22, 2008

World Briefing | Asia
India: Bird Flu Spread ‘Alarming’
India’s third outbreak of avian flu among poultry is the worst it has faced, the World Health Organization said. The chief minister of West Bengal State, which is trying to cull 400,000 birds, called the virus’s spread “alarming.” Uncooperative villagers, angry at being offered only 75 cents a chicken by the government, have been selling off their flocks and throwing dead birds into waterways, increasing the risk. New outbreaks were also reported this week in Iran and Ukraine.
January 19, 2008

National Briefing | West
California: Thermostat Plan
After an outcry of objections, the California Energy Commission withdrew its proposal to require new buildings in the state to have radio-controlled thermostats that, in a power emergency, could be used to override customers’ temperature settings. Instead of making the proposal part of new state building requirements, the commissioners will discuss the use of the “programmable communicating thermostats” when considering how to manage electrical loads — with the understanding that customers would have the right to refuse to allow the state to override their wishes.
January 16, 2008

PDC Fact Sheet
Murdered by Mumia: Big Lies in the Service of Legal Lynching
Mumia is Innocent! Free Him Now!

Britain: Lethal Bird Flu at Famed Swan Reserve
World Briefing | Europe
The deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu has reached one of England’s most famous swan breeding grounds, the Abbotsbury Swannery on the Dorset coast. Tests on three dead mute swans confirmed the virus, spread by wild birds. The manager said he was working to determine how many swans might be affected.
January 11, 2008

Utah: Cholera Suspected in Bird Deaths
National Briefing | Rockies
About 1,500 dead birds that washed up on the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake may have been killed by avian cholera, an expert said. Dead grebes, ducks and gulls were being sent to the National Wildlife Health Center of the United States Geological Survey in Madison, Wis., for examination. “If I was a betting man,” said the expert, Tom Aldrich of the State Division of Wildlife Resources, “I would bet it was cholera.” The disease, which poisons the blood, spreads when birds are overcrowded and food supplies are short. It does not affect humans. [Doesn't affect humans? How does the death of birds not affect humans?]
January 5, 2008

United Nations: Assembly Calls for Freeze on Death Penalty
In a vote that made for unusual alliances, the General Assembly passed, 104 to 54 with 29 abstentions, a nonbinding resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. Among the countries joining the United States in opposition to the European-led measure were Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Opponents argued that the resolution undermined their national sovereignty. Two similar moves in the 1990s failed, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the new vote was “evidence of a trend toward ultimately abolishing the death penalty.”
December 19, 2007

Carbon Dioxide Threatens Reefs, Report Says
National Briefing | Science and Health
Carbon dioxide in the air is turning the oceans acidic, and without a reduction in emissions, coral reefs may die away by the end of the century, researchers warn in Friday’s issue of the journal Science. Carbon dioxide dissolves into ocean water, changes to carbonic acid, and carbonic acid dissolves the calcium carbonate in the skeletons of corals. Laboratory experiments have shown that corals possess some ability to adapt to warmer waters but no ability to adapt to the higher acidity. “Unless we reverse our actions very quickly, by the end of the century, reefs could be a thing of the past,” said Ken Caldeira, a scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s department of global ecology and an author of the Science paper.
December 14, 2007

Iraq: Marine Discharged Over Killing
World Briefing | Middle East
A Marine reservist, Lance Cpl. Delano Holmes, 22, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge and reduced in rank to private, a day after being convicted at Camp Pendleton, Calif., of negligent homicide in the 2006 stabbing death of an Iraqi soldier he stood watch with at a guard post in Falluja. He has served 10 months in a military prison and will not spend any more time in custody. The lance corporal’s lawyer has said that the killing was in self-defense. Prosecutors contended that he killed the Iraqi and then set up the scene to support his story. He was also found guilty of making a false official statement.
December 15, 2007

Canada: Mounties Urged to Restrict Taser Use
In a report, the watchdog commission that oversees the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recommended that Taser stun guns be used only on people who are “combative or posing a risk of death or grievous bodily harm,” much like a conventional firearm rather than a nightstick or pepper spray. The report was ordered by the government after a confused and angry Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, left, died at the airport in Vancouver after being stunned at least twice by Mounties. The report found that Tasers were increasingly being used against people who were merely resistant rather than dangerous.
December 13, 2007

Greece: Tens of Thousands March in Strike
A one-day strike by unions representing 2.5 million workers brought Athens to a standstill. Protesting planned government changes to the state-financed pension system, an estimated 80,000 people marched through central Athens. In Thessaloniki, 30,000 people rallied, the police said. The strike shut down hospitals, banks, schools, courts and all public services. Flights were canceled, and public transportation, including boats connecting the mainland with the islands, ground to a halt. More strikes are expected next week.
December 13, 2007




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,]




George Takai responds to Tim Hardaway's homophobic remarks




Another view of the war. A link from Amer Jubran


A Girl Like Me
7:08 min
Youth Documentary
Kiri Davis, Director, Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, Producer
Winner of the Diversity Award
Sponsored by Third Millennium Foundation


Film/Song about Angola


"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]



"Cheyenne and Arapaho oral histories hammer history's account of the
Sand Creek Massacre"

CENTENNIAL, CO -- A new documentary film based on an award-winning
documentary short film, "The Sand Creek Massacre", and driven by
Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho people who tell their version about
what happened during the Sand Creek Massacre via their oral
histories, has been released by Olympus Films+, LLC, a Centennial,
Colorado film company.

"You have done an extraordinary job" said Margie Small, Tobient
Entertainment, " on the Colorado PBS episode, the library videos for
public schools and libraries, the trailer, etc...and getting the
story told and giving honor to those ancestors who had to witness
this tragic and brutal is one of the best ways."

"The images shown in the film were selected for native awareness
value" said Donald L. Vasicek, award-winning writer/filmmaker, "we
also focused on preserving American history on film because tribal
elders are dying and taking their oral histories with them. The film
shows a non-violent solution to problem-solving and 19th century
Colorado history, so it's multi-dimensional in that sense. "

Chief Eugene Blackbear, Sr., Cheyenne, who starred as Chief Black
Kettle in "The Last of the Dogmen" also starring Tom Berenger and
Barbara Hershey and "Dr. Colorado", Tom Noel, University of Colorado
history professor, are featured.

The trailer can be viewed and the film can be ordered for $24.95 plus
$4.95 for shipping and handling at

Vasicek's web site,, provides detailed
information about the Sand Creek Massacre including various still
images particularly on the Sand Creek Massacre home page and on the
proposal page.

Olympus Films+, LLC is dedicated to writing and producing quality
products that serve to educate others about the human condition.


Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
7078 South Fairfax Street
Centennial, CO 80122,+Don


Join us in a campaign to expose and stop the use
of these illegal weapons


You may enjoy watching these.
In struggle


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]


Stop funding Israel's war against Palestine
Complete the form at the website listed below with your information.


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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays!

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

(scroll down when you get there])

SHOP: Articles at">