Saturday, February 23, 2008




SF Solidarity Rally For "Freightliner Five"
Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 3:00 PM
At: ILWU Local 34
801-2nd St., at Embarcadero next to the ballpark
San Francisco

Five fired union leaders of the UAW Cleveland, North Carolina Freightliner truck
plant are fighting to get their jobs back. This integrated union leadership was standing up for decent health and safety conditions and benefits.
This meeting is also inviting other workers in struggle to participate and speak
about their struggle.

"Freightliner Five" Solidarity Tour

Solidarity Rally For UAW 3520 "Freightliner Five" Fired Workers

In April 2007, UAW 3520 workers at the Cleveland, North Carolina Freightliner truck plant went on strike over health and safety and other conditions and benefits. In retaliation, the Daimler Benz owned company fired 5 strike leaders. They are known as the Freightliner Five and have been fighting for their jobs back for nearly a year. This struggle is not just about the Freightliner workers but union organizing throughout the South.

If Freightliner can get away with this illegal firing, other workers will think twice about joining a union. Allen Bradley and Franklin Torrence, two of the Freightliner fired workers will be speaking about their struggle at this meeting and will also be meeting with other workers in Northern California.

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 3:00 PM
At: ILWU Local 34
801-2nd St., at Embarcadero next to the ballpark, San Francisco

Initial Speakers For Meeting:
Jack Heyman, Executive Board ILWU Local 10*
Jack Rasmus, President UAW 1982 BA Chapter*
Gloria La Riva, Pres. NC MWU-CWA 39521*
Alan Bradley, Fired UAW Vice Chair Bargaining Committee & Skilled Trades Chair
Franklin Torrence, Fired UAW 3520 Civil Rights Chair and Executive Committee
* for identification only

Please come to this support meeting and learn directly about their struggle
This effort has been recently endorsed by Ken Riley, president of ILA 1422 in Charleston, South Carolina, Donna Dewitt, president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, Labor Video Project, Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, Labor Action Coalition, Facts For Working People, Cynthia McKinney, former congress woman, ISO, Joseph Prisco, president of AMFA Local 9*, San Francisco Peace and Freedom Party (* for identification only)

To support these fired workers, you can also send checks payable to:
Justice 4 Five Solidarity Fund, P.O. Box 5144, Statesville, N.C. 28687.

N. California Freightliner Five Support Committee
For information and if you would like your union or organization to endorse call: (415)282-1908
South Carolina AFL-CIO President Urges Labor Movement Support For Freightliner 5 - 01/30/08

By Doug Cunningham

Five UAW Local 3520 bargaining committee members fired by Freightliner in April of 2007, after a one-day strike are getting some support now from the labor movement. The UAW International isn’t supporting the workers' efforts to get their jobs back because the one-day strike was authorized only by the local and not by the International UAW. South Carolina AFL-CIO President, Donna Dewitt supports these five UAW bargaining committee members fired by Freightliner and she says they deserve some solidarity from the entire labor movement.

[Dewitt]: "They weren’t happy with the contract offer, and they were standing up for their rights. And I don’t know exactly what happened with UAW, but all I know is that there are five UAW members and officers of a local that have been out of work now going on ten months. So I would appeal to everyone to reach out to help raise funds for these folks and their efforts to be rehired. They need their jobs back."

The fired UAW Freightliner workers are visiting several cities, including Detroit, Chicago, and San Francisco,to tell their story and get support. To support these workers, you can go to to donate money to the Justice 4 Five Solidarity Fund.
Posted 01/29/2008 -


Help build the March 19th day of action!

Volunteer now to get the word out! Plug into Tues. evening and Sat. afternoon outreach teams to make sure people know about the March 19 march and rally.

Postering & Outreach every Saturday through March 19
Help with postering and outreach tabling in San Francisco and the East Bay.
SF Outreach - 12-3pm, meet at 2489 Mission St. at 21st. St. (Rm. 24)
East Bay ANSWER Activist Meeting & Outreach - 12noon, 636 - 9th Street at MLK, Oakland
Join us for political analysis and discussion of the ongoing occupation of Iraq and plans for the March 19 demonstration on the 5th anniversary of the invasion. We will go out in teams to poster after the meeting.

You can also pick up flyers and posters in San Francisco at 2489 Mission St. Rm. 24. Call us at 415-821-6545. In the East Bay, call 510-435-0844.


"What are they recruiting for?
Murder, rape, torture, war!"

2017 Mission St (@ 16th), San Francisco
For more information on how you can become involved contact:
Bonnie Weinstein, (415) 824-8730
Nancy Macias, (415) 255-7296 ext. 229

Send a letter to the Board of Education

Please expand upon or send the letter below to the members of the
San Francisco Board of Education declaring:

We/I demand that the San Francisco school board phase
out JROTC at the end of the current 2007-2008 school
year, as you voted to do in 2006.

The reasons for phasing out JROTC are laid out very
clearly in the 2006 resolution.
(see below)

"The SFUSD has restricted the activities of military
recruiters on our campuses...

"JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated
by the United States Department of Defense, whose
documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an
important recruiting arm; and...

"JROTC manifests the military's discrimination against
LGBT people..."

Given the dangerous role that the U.S. military is
playing in the world today, and given the military's
ongoing discrimination against LGBT people, it would
be legally and morally repugnant for the school
district to continue to facilitate the military's
access to our students.

Send letters to: (please send copies to Bonnie Weinstein at giobon@comcast and Riva Enteen at

Mr. Norman Yee

Hydra Mendoza

Eric Mar, Esq.

Kim-Shree Maufas

Jane Kim

Mark Sanchez

Jill Wynn

Norman Yee

Substitute Motion , As Amended
Adopted by the Board of Education at its Regular Meeting of November 14, 2006.

Subject: Resolution No. 65-23A1


- Mark Sanchez and Dan Kelly

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has banned educational partnerships with outside organizations that discriminate against any group based upon sexual orientation; and

WHEREAS: Civilian control of the military, and restriction of military involvement in civilian affairs is a fundamental characteristic of a healthy democracy; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has restricted the activities of military recruiters on our campuses; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District has adopted violence prevention and conflict resolution strategies that promote non-violent behavior; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District requires that teachers of all academic courses be fully credentialed; and

WHEREAS: JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated by the United States Department of Defense, whose documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an important recruiting arm; and

WHEREAS: No other potential employer or recruiter is given such a high profile, nor such extensive contact with students; and

WHEREAS: JROTC instructors are not certificated teachers, and may not even possess a college degree of any kind; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Unified School District share of JROTC salaries is provided from central budget, while regular PE teachers are charged against each school’s site-based budget; and

WHEREAS: JROTC manifests the military’s discrimination against LGBT people by offering non-LGBT students preferential enlistment options; and

WHEREAS: JROTC is one of the largest after school activities at some High Schools; and

WHEREAS: The Board of Education has received extensive testimony that JROTC promotes self-esteem, community service, and academic and leadership skills; and

WHEREAS: Many other student extra-curricular activities also develop self-esteem, academic and leadership skills, and a commitment to service; and

WHEREAS: The California Education Code permits, and some SFUSD schools allow, students to receive PE credit for sports participation, independent study, or other classes deemed equivalent.

Therefore Be It Resolved: The Board of Education finds that credentialing requirements for academic instructors and courses are not met by the JROTC, except where specifically allowable as a substitute for Physical Education; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that JROTC programs on campus constitute a form of military recruitment and are in violation of our policy governing fair access for recruiters on campuses; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the JROTC program violates our anti discrimination policies with regard to LGBT students and adults; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the funding mechanism of the JROTC creates inequities between High Schools in SFUSD; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education finds that the JROTC is an inappropriate extension of the nation’s military into the civilian sphere; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education hereby begins a two-year phase out of all JROTC programs in the SFUSD resulting in no JROTC classes in the 2008-2009 school year and beyond; and

Be it Further Resolved: No new JROTC units or programs may be initiated at any SFUSD schools, effective immediately; and

Be it Further Resolved: That SFUSD staff shall not direct or require that students enroll in JROTC as an alternative to PE, or for any other reason; and

Be it Further Resolved: The Board of Education will grant PE credits for sports participation, independent study, and other courses deemed appropriate, and requests staff to provide guidelines for Board approval by the first meeting in January 2007; and

Be It Further Resolved: That the Board of Education calls for the creation of a special task force to develop alternative, creative, career driven programs with the elements of the existing JROTC program that students have indicated important to them, which then will provide students with a greater sense of purpose and respect for self and humankind; and

Be It Further Resolved: That any new programs being implemented beginning academic year 2007-08 are evaluated before the end of the school year to test student satisfaction.


Please Note:

Taken up by the Curriculum and Program Committee on August 23, 2006. Substitute motion accepted by general consent of the Committee. Substitute Motion forwarded to the Board with a positive recommendation from Committee, and to be taken up for action at the September 12, 2006 Regular Board Meeting by a vote of 2 ayes (Mar and Kelly), and 1 nay (Lipson).

Taken up by the Budget and Business Services Committee on 10/18/06. Substitute motion, as amended, forwarded to the Board with a positive recommendation (2 ayes, l nay (Wynns) ). The Budget and Business Services Committee recommends to the Board that the intention of the original motion to develop an alternative program be addressed.

Substitute motion amended and adopted on 11/14/06.


International week of solidarity with Venezuela Feb 29 - March 7th
US/Exxon - Hands off Venezuela
Supported by Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network, Venezuela
Solidarity Network (USA), Venezuela Aotearoa Solidarity Network (NZ)
To add you organisation or name to the call, email
To sign a statement of protest, visit

An international week of protest to:

Support the Venezuelan government's efforts to defend and extend the
Venezuelan people's common ownership and control over Venezuela's
natural resources, and defend the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela's
right to assert its social, political and economic sovereignty.

Condemn ExxonMobil's economic blackmail against Venezuela and call for
it to immediately withdraw its legal campaign against PDVSA.

Reject as illegitimate and immoral the British, US and Dutch courts'
order to freeze PDVSA's assets. Only Venezuela, through its own courts
and in accordance with its own Constitution, has the right to decide the
ownership and control of the resources in its territory. So-called
"international arbitration" on Venezuela's resources via courts in the
First World countries is colonialism.

Stand in solidarity with the protest actions of Venezuela's people,
trade unions and social organizations against ExxonMobil and the US
government's economic and political thuggery, and commend the words of
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: "They will never rob us again, those
bandits of ExxonMobil".


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


March 19, 2008, will mark the 5th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in defiance of the U.S. government’s drive for war. Since March of 2003, many millions more people have turned against the war in Iraq. The will of the people of the United States has been represented in many anti-war demonstrations and actions throughout the last 5 years.

Yet, the warmakers in the White House and Congress—acting in direct contradiction to the interests of the people of the United States and the world—have continued to fund and expand the brutal occupation of the Iraqi people.

Just a week ago, Washington unleashed the largest bombing campaign of the war—terrorizing Iraqi people in a Baghdad suburb. More than a million Iraqis have been killed. The U.S. occupation has created a situation of extreme violence in the country. The Iraqi people are denied access to regular electricity, education, health care and many necessary services. Unemployment is rampant.

Four thousand U.S. soldiers have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded, injured or evacuated due to serious illness. The cost of the war is $450,000,000 per day, $5,000 every second. The war has been a success for military-industrial businesses like Halliburton, Bechtel, Blackwater and McDonnell-Douglas, who are making huge profits from the death and destruction. At the same time, we are told that there is no money for basic human needs housing, food, healthcare, schools and jobs.

March 19, 2008, will see many actions against the war in San Francisco and across the country, including walkouts, teach-ins and civil disobedience on a day of “No Business As Usual.” The ANSWER Coalition along with many other individuals and organizations will join those actions. The ANSWER Coalition is calling for an evening march and rally, starting at the San Francisco Civic Center at 5 p.m.

Help build the March 19th day of action!
There are many ways you can help.

1. Volunteer now to get the word out! Plug into Tues. evening and Sat. afternoon outreach teams to make sure people know about the March 19 march and rally.
This Tues. Jan. 29, 6-9pm meet at 2489 Mission St. at 21st St., (Rm. 28) SF
We will be flyering at BART stations and the Mission campus of City College, postering in different locations in SF, and banner making and alert phone calls in the office. No experience necessary.

Every Saturday, 12noon 3pm from Feb. 2 through March 19
Help with postering and outreach tabling in San Francisco and the East Bay.

SF outreach - meet 2489 Mission St. at 21st. St. (Rm. 24)
East Bay Outreach meet 636 - 9th Street at MLK, Oakland, 510-435-0844

You can also pick up flyers and posters in San Francisco at 2489 Mission St. Rm. 24. Call us at 415-821-6545. In the East Bay, call 510-435-0844

2. Organize on your campus or workplace.
The ANSWER Coalition can send you materials to poster and leaflet at your campus or workplace. Call 415-821-6545 or email to get more information about organizing on your campus or workplace.

3. Schedule a speaker for your class or organization.
Anti-war and anti-racist activists with the ANSWER coalition are available to speak about the war at home and abroad and the organizing for the Mar.19 day of action. We also have videos available on a number of different issues relating to the wars at home and abroad. Contact us to learn more about scheduling a speaker.

4. Donate to build the Mar.19 demonstration. Click here to donate now:



March 19, 2008:

* 5th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq,
* beginning of the 6th year of war and occupation,
* beginning of the 6th year of senseless death and massive destruction.

The presidential candidates, the Congress, the White House and the media all seem to be working hard to push Iraq off the agenda until after the elections this fall -- we can't let that happen! They may be willing to let hundreds more U.S. soldiers and thousands more Iraqis die between now and when the next president and Congress are sworn in, but we are not!

United for Peace and Justice is calling for and supporting a set of activities on and around the 5th anniversary that will manifest the intensifying opposition to the war and help strengthen and expand our movement. We urge you to join with us to ensure the success of these actions:

March 13-16, Winter Soldier: UFPJ member group Iraq Veterans Against the War is organizing historic hearings March 13-16 in Washington, DC. Veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Iraqis and Afghans, will tell the nation the real story of this war. UFPJ is helping local groups and individuals plan events that directly link to and amplify the Winter Soldier hearings, from which we hope to have a live video feed available so that communities around the country can gather to watch and listen. Visit for more info.

March 19, Mass Nonviolent Direct Action in Washington, DC: UFPJ is organizing for what we hope will be the largest day of nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience yet against the war in Iraq. We've marched, we've vigiled, we've lobbied -- it's time to put our bodies on the line in large numbers. We encourage anyone who can to join us in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, March 19th, to be part of the civil disobedience, or to assist in support work. We are working to have delegations from all 50 states take part in this massive day of action. Visit for more info and to register to join us in DC.

March 19, Local Actions Throughout the Country: While we are working hard to have a large turnout in DC on March 19, it is also necessary to be visible and vocal in our local communities on that day. Congress will not be in session and so our representatives and senators will be in their home districts/states. We encourage those who are not able to make it to Washington on March 19 to organize and participate in local actions. These events may vary in location or character, but they will all be tied to the actions in Washington and sending the same message to the policy makers: It is time to end this war and occupation! To find an event in your area (more are being posted daily, so keep checking back!) or to sign up to organize a local activity, visit

For further details and info on how to get involved, please visit

Help us make the 5th anniversary the last anniversary of this war! Making the 5 Years Too Many Actions as visible and powerful as they need to be will take substantial resources. Please make the most generous donation you can today to support this critical mobilization.

Join our efforts to build the strongest actions possible in March -- actions that will not only mark the anniversary but will also help propel our movement into the critically important work that must be done throughout the year and beyond. Together, we will end this war and turn our country toward more peaceful and just priorities!

Yours, for peace and justice,

Leslie Cagan
National Coordinator, UFPJ

Help us continue to do this critical work: Make a donation to UFPJ today.

To subscribe, visit


Call for an Open U.S. National Antiwar Conference
Stop the War in Iraq! Bring the Troops Home Now!
Join us in Cleveland on June 28-29 for the conference.
Crown Plaza Hotel
Sponsored by the National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation
P.O. Box 21008; Cleveland, OH 44121; Voice Mail: 216-736-4704; Email:

List of Endorsers (below call):

Endorse the conference:


2008 has ushered in the fifth year of the war against Iraq and an occupation “without end” of that beleaguered country. Unfortunately, the tremendous opposition in the U.S. to the war and occupation has not yet been fully reflected in united mass action.

The anniversary of the invasion has been marked in the U.S. by Iraq Veterans Against the War's (IVAW's) Winter Soldier hearings March 13-16, in Washington, DC, providing a forum for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to expose the horrors perpetrated by the U.S. wars. A nonviolent civil disobedience action against the war in Iraq was also called for March 19 in Washington and local actions around the country were slated during that month as well.

These actions help to give voice and visibility to the deeply held antiwar sentiment of this country's majority. Yet what is also urgently needed is a massive national mobilization sponsored by a united antiwar movement capable of bringing hundreds of thousands into the streets to demand “Out Now!”

Such a mobilization, in our opinion, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the war -- and held on a day agreeable to the IVAW -- could have greatly enhanced all the other activities which were part of that commemoration in the U.S. Indeed, a call was issued in London by the World Against War Conference on December 1, 2007 where 1,200 delegates from 43 nations, including Iraq, voted unanimously to call on antiwar movements in every country to mobilize mass protests against the war during the week of March 15-22 to demand that foreign troops be withdrawn immediately.

The absence of a massive united mobilization during this period in the United States -- the nation whose weapons of terrifying mass destruction have rained death and devastation on the Iraqi people -- when the whole world will mobilize in the most massive protests possible to mark this fifth year of war, should be a cause of great concern to us all.

For Mass Action to Stop the War: The independent and united mobilization of the antiwar majority in massive peaceful demonstrations in the streets against the war in Iraq is a critical element in forcing the U.S. government to immediately withdraw all U.S. military forces from that country, close all military bases, and recognize the right of the Iraqi people to determine their own destiny.

Mass actions aimed at visibly and powerfully demonstrating the will of the majority to stop the war now would dramatically show the world that despite the staunch opposition to this demand by the U.S. government, the struggle by the American people to end the slaughter goes on. And that struggle will continue until the last of the troops are withdrawn. Such actions also help bring the people of the United States onto the stage of history as active players and as makers of history itself.

Indeed, the history of every successful U.S. social movement, whether it be the elementary fight to organize trade unions to defend workers' interests, or to bring down the Jim Crow system of racial segregation, or to end the war in Vietnam, is in great part the history of independent and united mass actions aimed at engaging the vast majority to collectively fight in its own interests and therefore in the interests of all humanity.

For an Open Democratic Antiwar Conference: The most effective way to initiate and prepare united antiwar mobilizations is through convening democratic and open conferences that function transparently, with all who attend the conferences having the right to vote. It is not reasonable to expect that closed or narrow meetings of a select few, or gatherings representing only one portion of the movement, can substitute for the full participation of the extremely broad array of forces which today stand opposed to the war.

We therefore invite everyone, every organization, every coalition, everywhere in the U.S. - all who oppose the war and the occupation -- to attend an open democratic U.S. national antiwar conference and join with us in advancing and promoting the coming together of an antiwar movement in this country with the power to make a mighty contribution toward ending the war and occupation of Iraq now.

Everyone is welcome. The objective is to place on the agenda of the entire U.S. antiwar movement a proposal for the largest possible united mass mobilization(s) in the future to stop the war and end the occupation.

Join us in Cleveland on June 28-29 for the conference.

List of Endorsers

Join us in Cleveland on June 28-29 for the conference.
Sponsored by the National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation
P.O. Box 21008; Cleveland, OH 44121; Voice Mail: 216-736-4704; Email:



- Spare the life of journalist Parviz Kambakhsh!
- Free him immediately!

We hold the governments of the NATO occupying troops responsible for his life.

Parviz Kambakhsh, a 23-year-old Afghani student has just been sentenced to death after three months of detention under terrible conditions in the state security's detention centre in Marzar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.

Now in his third year of a journalism course at Balkh University in Mazar-e-Sharif, Parviz Kambakhsh also works as a journalist for the newspaper Jahan-e Naw.
The young journalist was thrown into prison after being characterised as an atheist and an opponent of the regime by the NDS, the Karzai regime's security service. He is also accused of having printed atheist articles off the internet and distributed them among his classmates.

Kambakhsh was tortured continuously during his detention, both physically and mentally, and even threatened with death if he did not admit to the charges leveled against him.

He has not had access to a lawyer. He has not been allowed to see members of his family or friends.

The death sentence was delivered in his absence and in secret by Balkh Province Attorney General Hafizullah Khaliqyar and by the court in Marzar-e-Sharif.
In 2001, when the war started with the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan under the aegis of NATO, the occupying troops from the United States, France, Italy and Germany talked about re-establishing democracy and democratic rights and freedoms.

The Karzai regime that was put in place by the occupying forces has reintroduced Sharia law as the basic law of the land, with the support of all the states participating in the occupation and the war.
It is precisely in the name of the Sharia law that the young journalist Parviz Kambakhsh has been sentenced to death for circulating documents downloaded from the internet.

We, the undersigned journalists and defenders of human rights and fundamental freedoms, call on the Karzai government, NATO and the occupying forces from the United States, France, Italy and Germany, to say:

- Spare the life of journalist Parviz Kambakhsh!
- Free him immediately!
- We hold the governments of the NATO occupying troops responsible for his life.

* * *

Appeal initiated by:

Tristan MALLE General Secretary, on behalf of the General Union of Journalists, Force Ouvrière (France), and Jean Pierre BARROIS Senior Lecturer, University of Paris 12

- Spare the life of journalist Parviz Kambakhsh!
- Free him immediately!

* * * * * * * * * *


[ ] I endorse this appeal to spare the life of Parviz Kambakhsh!


ORG/UNION/TITLE (list if for id. only):




Please fill out and return to
e-mail : with a copy to
Postal Address: Syndicat Général Des journalistes Force Ouvrière, 131 rue Damrémont, 75018 Paris France


For Immediate Release
February 18, 2008
Embassy Suites Hotel Anaheim South, 11767 Harbor Boulevard,
Garden Grove, California, 92840
May 16-18, 2008

The 6th Annual International Al-Awda Convention will mark a devastating event in the long history of the Palestinian people. We call it our Nakba.

Confirmed speakers include Bishop Atallah Hanna, Supreme Justice Dr. Sheikh Taiseer Al Tamimi, Dr. Adel Samara, Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, Dr. Ghada Karmi, Dr. As'ad Abu Khalil, Dr. Saree Makdisi, and Ramzy Baroud. Former Prime Minister of Lebanon Salim El Hos and Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar have also been invited.

Host Organizations for the sixth international Al-Awda convention include Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Palestinian American Women Association, Free Palestine Alliance, National Council of Arab-Americans, Middle East Cultural and Information Center - San Diego, The Arab Community Center of the Inland Empire, Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid - Southern California, Palestine Aid Society, Palestinian American Congress, Bethlehem Association, Al-Mubadara - Southern California, Union of Palestinian American Women, Birzeit Society , El-Bireh Society, Arab American Friends of Nazareth, Ramallah Club, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, International Action Center , Students for Justice in Palestine at CSUSB, Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, Students for Justice in Palestine at UCR, Students for International Knowledge at CSUSB, Muslim Students Association at Palomar College, Muslim Students Association at UCSD, and Muslim Students Association at Mira Costa.


In May of 1948, with the support of the governments of the United States, Britain, and other European powers, Zionists declared the establishment of the "State of Israel" on stolen Palestinian Arab land and intensified their full-scale attack on Palestine. They occupied our land and forcibly expelled three quarters of a million of our people. This continues to be our great catastrophe, which we, as Palestinians with our supporters, have been struggling to overcome since.

The sixth international Al-Awda convention is taking place at a turning point in our struggle to return and reclaim our stolen homeland. Today, there are close to 10 million Palestinians of whom 7.5 million are living in forced exile from their homeland. While the Zionist "State of Israel" continues to besiege, sanction, deprive, isolate, discriminate against and murder our people, in addition to continually stealing more of our land, our resistance has grown. Along with our sisters and brothers at home and elsewhere in exile, Al-Awda has remained steadfast in demanding the implementation of the sacred, non-negotiable national, individual and collective right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands.

The sixth international Al-Awda convention will be a historic and unique event. The convention will aim to recapitulate Palestinian history with the help of those who have lived it, and to strengthen our ability to educate the US public about the importance and justness of implementing the unconditional right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands. With symposia and specialty workshops, the focus of the convention will be on education that lead to strategies and mechanisms for expanding the effectiveness of our advocacy for the return.


We invite all Al-Awda members, and groups and individuals who support the implementation of the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes of origin, and to reclaim their land, to join us in this landmark Sixth Annual International Convention on the 60th year of Al-Nakba.


The convention will culminate in a major demonstration to mark 60 years of Nakba and to call for The RETURN TO PALESTINE. The demonstration will be held in solidarity and coordination with our sisters and brothers who continue the struggle in our beloved homeland.


Host Organizations
Points of Unity

Organizational endorsements welcome. Please write to us at convention6@

For information on how to become part of the host committee, please write to convention6@

For more information, please go to http://al-awda. org/convention6 and keep revisiting that page as it is being updated regularly.

To submit speaker and panel/workshop proposals, write to
info@al-awda. org or convention6@

Until return,

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-685-3243
Fax: 360-933-3568
E-mail: info@al-awda. org
WWW: http://al-awda. org

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC) is the largest network of grassroots activists and students dedicated to Palestinian human rights. We are a not for profit tax-exempt educational and charitable 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States of America. Under IRS guidelines, your donations to PRRC are tax-deductible.


Statement in Defense of Free Speech
Rights on the National Mall
Partnership for Civil Justice

Sign the Statement:

We the undersigned are supporting the emergency mobilization of the people demanding that there be no new restrictions on free speech or protest related activities on the National Mall in Washington D.C. This is the real objective of the Bush Administration’s plans for the National Mall.

Unless we take action, the Bush Administration, as one of its final acts, will leave office having dramatically altered access of the people to public lands that have been the site of the most significant mass assembly protests in U.S. history.

The National Mall has been the historic site for the people of the United States to come together to seek equality, justice, and peace. These activities are the lifeblood of a democracy. The National Mall is not an ornamental lawn. The National Mall performs its most sacrosanct and valued function when it serves as the place of assembly for political protest, dissent and free speech.

We oppose any efforts to further restrict protest on the Mall, to relegate protest to a government-designated protest pit or zone, to stage-manage or channel free speech activity to suit the government, or to stifle or abridge our rights to expression upon the public forum that is the National Mall. We call for a moratorium on further actions by the National Park Service that would in any way channel, restrict or inhibit the people's use of the National Mall in furtherance of our First Amendment rights.

Initial signers:

Howard Zinn, professor, author of People's History of the United States
Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General
Cindy Sheehan
Dennis Banks, Co-Founder, American Indian Movement
Malik Rahim, Co-Founder, Common Ground Collective, New Orleans
John Passacantando, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
Mahdi Bray, Exec. Director, Muslim American Society, Freedom Foundation
Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Elias Rashmawi, National Coordinator, National Council of Arab Americans
Heidi Boghosian, Exec. Director of National Lawyers Guild
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Co-Founder, Partnership for Civil Justice
Carl Messineo, Co-Founder, Partnership for Civil Justice
Jim Lafferty, Exec. Director of the National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles
Tina Richards, CEO, Grassroots America
Brian Becker, National Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition
Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg, killed in Iraq
Dr. Harriet Adams, Esq.
Elliot Adams, President, Veterans for Peace
Jennifer Harbury, Human Rights Attorney
Ron Kovic, Vietnam Veteran, author, Born on the Fourth of July
Juan Jose Gutierrez, Latino Movement USA
Blase and Theresa Bonpane, Office of the Americas
Fernando Suarez Del Solar, Guerrero Azteca, father of Jesus Del Solar, soldier killed in Iraq
Chuck Kaufman, Alliance for Global Justice
Frank Dorrel, Publisher, Addicted to War
William Blum, Author
Ed Asner, Actor
Annalisa Enrile, Mariposa Alliance
Sue Udry, Director, Defending Dissent Foundation

For more info or to volunteer with the ANSWER Coalition, call 415-821-6545.

Help with a mass mailing to help spread the word about the march and rally on March 19 the 5th anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq. The mailing will continue after the ANSWER Meeting.

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


What's wrong with mine safety czar Richard Stickler?
More than 4,000 mine safety failures in six years.
Send Stickler a note now!

Many of us watched in horror last summer as miners lost their lives in the Crandall Canyon mine collapse in Utah, and before that, the disasters at Sago, Darby and Aracoma mines.

After multiple debacles, you’d think the government would make mine safety a top priority. Think again. Recent reports uncovered a huge failure at the federal agency in charge of mine safety.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) failed to fine more than 4,000 safety & health violations over the last six years for mines that broke regulations.
This is an affront to workers who put their lives at risk every day. Tell the mine safety agency to get its act together:

Richard Stickler, the man responsible for mine safety in this country, used to be a coal mining executive. The mines he managed had injury rates that were double the national average. Senators didn’t find him to be very qualified for the job, and twice rejected his nomination. President Bush twice bypassed the Senate to appoint Stickler, despite loud protests from anyone familiar with his egregiously anti-safety record.
We put together some ideas for how Mr. Stickler can actually do his job. Can you please send him a note for us?

Here are some ideas for how Mr. Stickler can improve mine safety:
--Enforce new mine safety rules as required by Congress

--Fine companies that break the law – all 4,000 incidents and counting – and prosecute those who don't pay

--Push for more and better safety and health regulations and enforcement

--Give miners a say in workplace safety by making it easier for them to form unions

--Think like a miner, not a mine executive

--Listen to miners, not the companies, when it comes to developing better safety regulations

Those are pretty reasonable demands of a man who has not done his job for almost two years. You can send your letter – and write your own demands – right here:

Thank you for standing up for workers everywhere.
Liz Cattaneo
American Rights at Work

P.S. To learn more about mine safety, visit the website of the United Mine Workers of America, and find more ways to take action.

Visit the web address below to tell your friends about American Rights at Work.





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) Officers Agree: The Military is in Trouble
By The Editorial Board
February 19, 2008, 4:17 pm

2) Reflections by Comrade Fidel
By Fidel Castro Ruz

3) Higher Education Gap May Slow Economic Mobility
February 19, 2008

4) The Biggest Beef Recall Ever
February 21, 2008

5) Stifling Online Speech
February 21, 2008

6) 98 Palestinian patients, including 17 Children, die due to the Gaza siege
by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC
Tuesday February 19, 2008

7) America's Economy Risks the Mother of All Meltdowns
By Martin Wolf
Feb 19, 1:25 PM ET

8) Protesters Attack U.S. Embassy in Belgrade
February 22, 2008

9) Pentagon Is Confident Missile Hit Satellite Tank
February 21, 2008

10) Hate Mail Sent to Blacks at Prep School Is Investigated
February 21, 2008

11) Victim’s Fiancée Struggles to Cope as Trial Approaches
February 21, 2008

12) City’s Sweeping Rezoning Plan for 125th Street Has Many in Harlem Concerned
February 21, 2008

13) U.S. Ends Protections for Wolves in 3 States
February 22, 2008
Protest this now:

14) The DNA Age
Fear of Insurance Trouble Leads Many to Shun or Hide DNA Tests
February 24, 2008

15) After the War, a New Battle to Become Citizens
February 24, 2008

16) Obama's Money Cartel
How he's fronted for the most vicious firms on Wall Street
By Pam Martens
February 23, 2008

17) America wants an Operation in Gaza
By Shmuel Rosner
February 22, 2008

18) Boy’s Killing, Labeled a Hate Crime, Stuns a Town
February 23, 2008


1) Officers Agree: The Military is in Trouble
By The Editorial Board
February 19, 2008, 4:17 pm

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking a huge toll on the American military. Who says so? The nation’s military officers, who are in as good a position as anyone to know.

Two Washington-based think tanks, the Center for a New American Security and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, through its Foreign Policy magazine, have done the nation a huge service by surveying more than 3,400 current and former military officers, one of the few comprehensive polls of this segment of the population in the last 50 years.

Here are some results from the survey, which is being released today:

* 60 percent of the officers surveyed say the military is weaker today than five years ago, largely because of Iraq, Afghanistan and the punishing rate of troop deployments.
* More than half say the military is weaker than it was 10 or 15 years ago.
* Some 88 percent say the demands of the Iraq war have stretched the military “dangerously thin.”
* The officers rate their confidence in Mr. Bush — who was hugely popular with the military in the 2000 election — at a mere 5.5 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best.

There’s more:

* More than 80 percent of the officers say it would be “unreasonable” to ask the military to wage another major war today.
* When asked how prepared the United States is to execute a military mission against Iran or North Korea, both of whose nuclear programs are a cause of great concern in Washington, officers put both below 5 on a 1 to 10 scale.
* When asked to judge the readiness of the military services to fight, the Army, which has shouldered the bulk of the Iraq war, rated the worst score — 4.7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Not all of the news was bad. Sixty-four percent of the officers felt that despite the strain of war, military morale was high. Only 2 percent believe America needs a new generation of nuclear weapons.

As Mr. Bush prepares to wrap up eight years in office, he leaves behind a legacy of failed adventurism in his war of choice – Iraq; a potential loss in the war he needed to fight and win — Afghanistan; and a proud nation — America — that has usually been a force for good in the world, but increasingly is not seen that way around the world.

Mr. Bush seems to believe that history will judge him well because of his work in protecting the nation. The survey of officers’ thinking suggest that when the story of his presidency is written, national defense will be chalked up as yet another Bush administration failure.


2) Reflections by Comrade Fidel
By Fidel Castro Ruz

Dear compatriots:

Last Friday, February 15, I promised you that in my next reflection I would deal with an issue of interest to many compatriots. Thus, this now is, rather, a message.
The moment has come to nominate and elect the State Council, its President, its Vice-Presidents and Secretary.

For many years I have occupied the honorable position of President. On February 15, 1976 the Socialist Constitution was approved with the free, direct and secret vote of over 95 percent of the people with the right to cast a vote.

The first National Assembly was established on December 2nd that same year; this elected the State Council and its presidency. Before that, I had been a Prime Minister for almost 18 years. I always had the necessary prerogatives to carry forward the revolutionary work with the support of the overwhelming majority of the people.

There were those overseas who, aware of my critical health condition, thought that my provisional resignation, on July 31, 2006, to the position of President of the State Council, which I left to First Vice-President Raul Castro Ruz, was final.

But Raul, who is also minister of the Armed Forces on account of his own personal merits, and the other comrades of the Party and State leadership were unwilling to consider me out of public life despite my unstable health condition.

It was an uncomfortable situation for me vis-à-vis an adversary, which had done everything possible to get rid of me, and I felt reluctant to comply.

Later, in my necessary retreat, I was able to recover the full command of my mind as well as the possibility for much reading and meditation. I had enough physical strength to write for many hours, which I shared with the corresponding rehabilitation and recovery programs.

Basic common sense indicated that such activity was within my reach. On the other hand, when referring to my health I was extremely careful to avoid raising expectations since I felt that an adverse ending would bring traumatic news to our people in the midst of the battle.

Thus, my first duty was to prepare our people both politically and psychologically for my absence after so many years of struggle. I kept saying that my recovery “was not without risks.”

My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath. That’s all I can offer.

To my dearest compatriots, who have recently honored me so much by electing me a member of the Parliament where so many agreements should be adopted of utmost importance to the destiny of our Revolution, I am saying that I will neither aspire to nor accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief.

In short letters addressed to Randy Alonso, Director of the Round Table National TV Program—letters which at my request were made public—I discreetly introduced elements of this message I am writing today, when not even the addressee of such letters was aware of my intention.

Following are some paragraphs chosen from the letter addressed to Randy on December 17, 2007:

“My elemental duty is not to cling to positions, much less to stand in the way of younger persons, but rather to contribute my own experience and ideas whose modest value comes from the exceptional era that I had the privilege of living in.”
Letter from January 8, 2008:

“I am a firm supporter of the united vote (a principle that preserves the unknown merits), which allowed us to avoid the tendency to copy what came to us from countries of the former socialist bloc, including the portrait of the one candidate, as singular as his solidarity towards Cuba. I deeply respect that first attempt at building socialism, thanks to which we were able to continue along the path we had chosen.”
And I reiterated in that letter that “I never forget that ‘all of the world’s glory fits in a kernel of corn.”

Therefore, it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer. This I say devoid of all drama.

Fortunately, our Revolution can still count on cadres from the old guard and others who were very young in the early stages of the process. Some were very young, almost children, when they joined the fight on the mountains and later they have given glory to the country with their heroic performance and their internationalist missions. They have the authority and the experience to guarantee the replacement.

There is also the intermediate generation, which learned together with us the basics of the complex and almost unattainable art of organizing and leading a revolution.
The path will always be difficult and require from everyone’s intelligent effort—the adversary to be defeated is extremely strong; however, we have been able to keep it at bay for half a century.

This is not my farewell to you. My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas. I shall continue to write under the heading of “Reflections by comrade Fidel.” It will be just another weapon you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I shall be careful.

Fidel Castro Ruz
Granma, February 18, 2008


3) Higher Education Gap May Slow Economic Mobility
February 19, 2008

The widening gap in higher education between rich and poor, and between whites and minorities, may lead to a downturn in economic mobility, making it harder for today’s poor to move up the income ladder, according to the authors of a major research report issued Wednesday.

The report, the most complete portrait yet of economic mobility, was prepared by scholars at the Brookings Institution in Washington and sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts. It found that mobility had not changed significantly over the last three decades — though there was some evidence it might have worsened — and that family background remains a large predictor of future income.

An increase in mobility would lessen the sting of rising inequality and reinforce the widely held belief that anyone can make it in America through talent and hard work.

But some signs point in a more ominous direction. The study warns of a widening education gap between Hispanic and black Americans on the one hand and whites and Asians on the other, which may make it all the harder for minority youths to enter the middle class or higher.

“A growing difference in education levels between income and racial groups, especially in college degrees, implies that mobility will be lower in the future than it is today,” said Ron Haskins, a former Republican official and welfare expert who wrote the education section of the new report.

There is some good news, as the study highlights the powerful role that college degrees play in helping people change their station in life. It says someone born into a family in the lowest fifth of earners who then graduates from college has a 19 percent chance — roughly one in five — of joining the highest fifth of earners in adulthood, and a 62 percent chance of joining the middle class or better.

But in recent years only 11 percent of children from the poorest families have earned college degrees, compared to 53 percent of children from the top fifth.

“The American dream of opportunity is alive, but frayed,” said Isabel Sawhill, another author of the new report, “Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Mobility in America.”

“It’s still alive for immigrants but badly tattered for African-Americans,” said Ms. Sawhill, an economist who was a budget official in the Clinton administration. “It’s more alive for people in the middle class than for people at the very bottom.”

The report, and planned further studies, constitute the most comprehensive effort yet to examine inter-generational mobility in the nation, said John E. Morton of the Pew Trusts, who is managing the project. It draws heavily on a federally supported survey run by the University of Michigan that has followed thousands of families since the late 1960’s. A chapter of the report released last fall found startling evidence that a majority of black children born to middle-class parents grew up to have lower incomes and that nearly half of middle-class black children fell, in adulthood, into the bottom fifth, compared to only 16 percent of middle-class white children.

The Pew-sponsored studies are continuing, with the involvement of a range of think tanks and scholars. Another report expected this spring, by the more conservative Heritage Foundation, will focus on explanations for the trends described in the current report.

Stuart Butler, vice president for economic studies at the Heritage Foundation, said, “It does seem in America now that for people at very bottom, it’s more difficult to move up than we might have thought or might have been true in the past.”

But he said experts are likely to disagree about the reasons why, and hence on policies to improve mobility. Conservative scholars like Mr. Butler are more apt to blame cultural norms and the breakdown of families while liberals put more stress on the changing structure of the economy and the need for government to provide safety nets and targeted aid for poor families.

“We may well have an economy that rewards certain traits that are typically passed on from parents to children — the importance of education, optimism, a propensity to work hard, entrepreneurship and so on,” Mr. Butler said. To the extent that the economy rewards those traits, he said, “you’d expect the incomes of children to track more with that of their parents.”

The small fraction of poor children who earn college degrees are likely to rise well above their parents’ status, the study showed.

But more than half of children born to upper-income parents — those in the top fifth — who finish college remain in that top group. And nearly one in four remains in the top fifth even without completing college.

Evidence from model programs shows that early childhood education can have lasting benefits, Mr. Haskins said, although the federal Head Start program is too uneven to bring wide gains.

In addition, he said, studies show that many poor but bright children do not receive good advice about how to apply for college and scholarships, or do not receive help once they start college. “If we did more to help them complete college, there’s no question it would improve mobility,” he said.

The report is available online


4) The Biggest Beef Recall Ever
February 21, 2008

A nauseating video of cows stumbling on their way to a California slaughterhouse has finally prompted action: the largest recall of meat in American history. Westland/Hallmark Meat Company has issued a full recall of more than 143 million pounds of beef produced over the last two years, including 37 million pounds that went to school-lunch programs.

A lot of that beef has already been eaten, and so far, thankfully, there have been no reports of illness. But the question Congress needs to ask is how many people need to get sick or die before it starts repairing and modernizing the nation’s food safety system?

Instead of strengthening the government’s regulatory systems, the Bush administration has spent years cutting budgets and filling top jobs with industry favorites. The evidence of their failures keep mounting: contaminated spinach, poisoned pet food, tainted fish.

At Westland/Hallmark, the latest horrors were secretly videotaped by the Humane Society of the United States, which said it had chosen the plant at random. The video showed workers kicking and using forklifts to force so-called “downer” cows to walk. The government has banned the sale of meat from most of these cows.

Officials have been busy assuring consumers that this massive recall is an “aberration.” “Whistling in the dark” — that is how Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest describes such assurances. “The fact that they have failed here so miserably makes you start to question what else is going on that we don’t know about.”

The Westland/Hallmark plant had five federal inspectors on hand, including at least one veterinarian whose job was to make sure that diseased cows did not make it into the meat supply. But where were these inspectors when workers were abusing these poor animals in order to get them to the slaughterhouse? Investigations have already begun in California and Washington.

Whatever the outcome with this particular plant, the larger point is that Congress needs to overhaul the entire food inspection program. That includes giving the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration more power to demand mandatory recalls. Food producers should be able to track their supplies in order to more quickly root out problems. And foreign suppliers would have to create and implement a workable food safety plan that can be monitored better by federal inspectors.

The present patchwork of modest fines and penalities must also be stiffened.

Senator Richard Durbin and Representative Rosa DeLauro have a more ambitious idea: creating a single, powerful agency to oversee all food safety, instead of the current bureaucratic tangle of inspectors, some for vegetables, some for beef and some for imports. Right now the Agriculture Department oversees the safety of the home-grown beef supply (while also promoting the cattle industry) and the Food and Drug Administration monitors the safety of cattle feed. With Americans increasingly — and legitimately — mistrustful of the food they eat, their proposal is worth serious consideration.


5) Stifling Online Speech
February 21, 2008

The rise of Internet journalism has opened a new front in the battle to protect free speech. A federal judge last week ordered the disabling of, a muckraking Web site. That stifles important speech and violates the First Amendment. It should be reversed, and Wikileaks should be allowed to resume operations.

Wikileaks claims to have posted more than a million corporate and government documents that, it says, expose wrongdoing. It has posted, among other things, a 2003 operations manual from the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, military prison. Julius Baer Bank and Trust, a Cayman Islands branch of a Swiss bank, sued Wikileaks charging that it had illegally posted documents stolen by a former employee. The site said the documents “allegedly reveal secret Julius Baer trust structures” for money laundering, tax evasion and other misdeeds.

Federal District Court Judge Jeffrey White ordered Wikileaks’s domain name registrar to disable its Web address. That was akin to shutting down a newspaper because of objections to one article. The First Amendment requires the government to act only in the most dire circumstances when it regulates free expression.

In a second order, the judge directed Wikileaks not to distribute the bank documents. That was a “prior restraint” on speech, something the courts almost always find violates the First Amendment. If the employee did not have a right to the documents and the bank was injured as a result, a suit against the leaker for monetary damages should be sufficient.

Much of the law governing the Internet remains unsettled. Still, the free speech burdens of closing down a journalistic Web site are just as serious as closing down a print publication, and courts should tread carefully.

For now, the lawsuit appears to have backfired, bringing worldwide publicity to the documents. Enterprising Internet users have found ways to get to the site. We hope it will also educate judges and the public about the importance of giving full protection to online speech.


6) 98 Palestinian patients, including 17 Children, die due to the Gaza siege
by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC
Tuesday February 19, 2008

Palestinian medical sources announced on Tuesday evening that one child died at a Gaza hospital after the Israeli Authorities barred his transfer to a hospital abroad for further medical treatment as the siege on Gaza continued to cripple all hospitals in the coastal region.

The child was identified as Sa’id Al Ayidy, 2, from Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. He suffered from a kidney infection. His death raised the number of Palestinian patient who died due to the siege to 98, including 17 children.

Following are the names of children who died due to the ongoing blockade;

1. Sa’id Al Ayidy, 2.

2. Fatin Majdi Al Hafnawi, 10.

3. Ibrahim Abu Nahil, 1year and four months old.

4. Sana Mohammad Al Hajj, six months.

5. Rawan Diab, 13 months.

6. Hala Zannoun, 3 months.

7. Yousef Eyad Abu Mariam, 5 years old.

8. Razan Mohammad Ata, 6 years.

9. Dua’ Hani Habeen, 5 months.

10. Ibrahim Abu Jazar, 2 years.

11. Shereen Abdullah Abu Shawarib, 10 years.

12. Hammad Maher Abu Hamda, 1.5 months.

13. Ameer Al Baziji, 9 years.

14. Nada Eyad Al Asgha, 13 years old.

15. Rawan Nassar, 15.

16. Dua’ Abed Amran, 18.

17. Mahmoud Nahedh Hussein, 14.

category gaza strip: author email:
This page can be viewed in English and Spanish


7) Gloria La Riva answers the Democratic and Republican candidates on Fidel Castro's stepping down
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
By: Gloria La Riva

The PSL stands in solidarity with the Cuban revolution and the Cuban people

Today's statements by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain on Fidel Castro's stepping down are more of the same. Each candidate would continue the same policy of the last 11 U.S. administrations: a policy of blockade, aggression and counter-revolution. Each promises to lift the blockade and normalize relations only if the sovereign government of Cuba is overthrown.

Obama remarked that Fidel's announcement "should mark the end of a dark era in Cuba's history," and praised the pro-U.S. counterrevolutionaries in Cuban prisons as "heroes." Clinton pledged that as President she would do "everything possible" to overthrow Cuban socialism and "advance America's values and interests." In thinly veiled language, McCain wrote that the United States must seize upon Fidel's stepping down to "hasten the sparking of freedom in Cuba."

The capitalist candidates speak of bringing "democracy" and "freedom" to Cuba. But what they mean is the kind of "democracy" that the U.S. government has imposed on Iraq, which so far has killed more than two million Iraqis and destroyed the country. It is freedom for the corporations, banks and militarists to exploit and to rule.

In the name of democracy and freedom, recent U.S. administrations have passed laws to punish—not help—the Cuban people for daring to to build socialism and be independent of the United States.

The 1992 Torricelli law, signed by George H.W. Bush, is officially titled "The Cuban Democracy Act." The 1996 Helms-Burton law signed by Bill Clinton, is known as the "Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Law." George W. Bush's plan, inaugurated in 2004, is called "The Plan for Assistance to a Free Cuba" of 2003.

Each of these U.S. laws—whose expressed aim is to overthrow the Cuban revolution in the name of "democracy'—has deliberately targeted the Cuban people and created suffering for millions.

In a subtle recognition of majority U.S. public opinion—which opposes the U.S. blockade—Obama and Clinton claim that democratic changes and free elections in Cuba could be the basis of renewed relations with Cuba.

No one should be fooled by such rhetoric. For the Democrats and Republicans, acting on behalf of the corporations, banks and militarists, the only Cuban "democracy" they will accept is the kind that returns the island to capitalism, as a neocolony of the United States. But in a country that is struggling to overcome centuries of underdevelopment and colonialism, it is socialism that has provided the basic rights of free quality healthcare and education, and housing for all. Here in the United States, the richest country in all of history, such rights are only a dream.

Obama, Clinton and McCain call for free elections in Cuba. How can candidates who together will spend more than $1 billion in the presidential race demand "free" elections in Cuba? In Cuba, on all levels—municipal, provincial and national—the elections are truly free, and campaign spending by candidates is prohibited.

While members of the U.S. Congress give themselves large salaries and huge payoffs from lobbyists, elected officials in Cuba maintain their regular jobs, and serve without additional compensation for their responsibilities as legislators.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation stands in solidarity with the Cuban revolution and the Cuban people. Our candidates understand that the first real democratic act in Cuba was the overthrow of the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Despite the blockade, war and terrorist attacks promoted by the U.S. government, the Cuban people and leadership have struggled to build a socialist revolution, which they will continue to develop and defend.

Fidel Castro's statement is not a retirement from the struggle. It is an honest assessment of his physical limitations to hold government office.

Fidel Castro is admired and loved in Cuba and the world over. His legendary courage and profound belief—from the earliest days—in the heroism and capacity of the Cuban people to make history, is what now enables him to retire from his official posts with confidence.

Read his complete statement here:


7) America's Economy Risks the Mother of All Meltdowns
By Martin Wolf
Feb 19, 1:25 PM ET

"I would tell audiences that we were facing not a bubble but a froth - lots
of small, local bubbles that never grew to a scale that could threaten the
health of the overall economy." Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence.

That used to be Mr Greenspan's view of the US housing bubble. He was wrong,
alas. So how bad might this downturn get? To answer this question we should
ask a true bear. My favourite one is Nouriel Roubini of New York
University's Stern School of Business, founder of RGE monitor.

Recently, Professor Roubini's scenarios have been dire enough to make the
flesh creep. But his thinking deserves to be taken seriously. He first
predicted a US recession in July 2006*. At that time, his view was extremely
controversial. It is so no longer. Now he states that there is "a rising
probability of a 'catastrophic' financial and economic outcome"**. The
characteristics of this scenario are, he argues: "A vicious circle where a
deep recession makes the financial losses more severe and where, in turn,
large and growing financial losses and a financial meltdown make the
recession even more severe."

Prof Roubini is even fonder of lists than I am. Here are his 12 - yes, 12 -
steps to financial disaster.

Step one is the worst housing recession in US history. House prices will, he
says, fall by 20 to 30 per cent from their peak, which would wipe out
between $4,000bn and $6,000bn in household wealth. Ten million households
will end up with negative equity and so with a huge incentive to put the
house keys in the post and depart for greener fields. Many more
home-builders will be bankrupted.

Step two would be further losses, beyond the $250bn-$300bn now estimated,
for subprime mortgages. About 60 per cent of all mortgage origination
between 2005 and 2007 had "reckless or toxic features", argues Prof Roubini.
Goldman Sachs estimates mortgage losses at $400bn. But if home prices fell
by more than 20 per cent, losses would be bigger. That would further impair
the banks' ability to offer credit.

Step three would be big losses on unsecured consumer debt: credit cards,
auto loans, student loans and so forth. The "credit crunch" would then
spread from mortgages to a wide range of consumer credit.

Step four would be the downgrading of the monoline insurers, which do not
deserve the AAA rating on which their business depends. A further $150bn
writedown of asset-backed securities would then ensue.

Step five would be the meltdown of the commercial property market, while
step six would be bankruptcy of a large regional or national bank.

Step seven would be big losses on reckless leveraged buy-outs. Hundreds of
billions of dollars of such loans are now stuck on the balance sheets of
financial institutions.

Step eight would be a wave of corporate defaults. On average, US companies
are in decent shape, but a "fat tail" of companies has low profitability and
heavy debt. Such defaults would spread losses in "credit default swaps",
which insure such debt. The losses could be $250bn. Some insurers might go

Step nine would be a meltdown in the "shadow financial system". Dealing with
the distress of hedge funds, special investment vehicles and so forth will
be made more difficult by the fact that they have no direct access to
lending from central banks.

Step 10 would be a further collapse in stock prices. Failures of hedge
funds, margin calls and shorting could lead to cascading falls in prices.

Step 11 would be a drying-up of liquidity in a range of financial markets,
including interbank and money markets. Behind this would be a jump in
concerns about solvency.

Step 12 would be "a vicious circle of losses, capital reduction, credit
contraction, forced liquidation and fire sales of assets at below
fundamental prices".

These, then, are 12 steps to meltdown. In all, argues Prof Roubini: "Total
losses in the financial system will add up to more than $1,000bn and the
economic recession will become deeper more protracted and severe." This, he
suggests, is the "nightmare scenario" keeping Ben Bernanke and colleagues at
the US Federal Reserve awake. It explains why, having failed to appreciate
the dangers for so long, the Fed has lowered rates by 200 basis points this
year. This is insurance against a financial meltdown.

Is this kind of scenario at least plausible? It is. Furthermore, we can be
confident that it would, if it came to pass, end all stories about
"decoupling". If it lasts six quarters, as Prof Roubini warns, offsetting
policy action in the rest of the world would be too little, too late.

Can the Fed head this danger off? In a subsequent piece, Prof Roubini gives
eight reasons why it cannot***. (He really loves lists!) These are, in
brief: US monetary easing is constrained by risks to the dollar and
inflation; aggressive easing deals only with illiquidity, not insolvency;
the monoline insurers will lose their credit ratings, with dire
consequences; overall losses will be too large for sovereign wealth funds to
deal with; public intervention is too small to stabilise housing losses; the
Fed cannot address the problems of the shadow financial system; regulators
cannot find a good middle way between transparency over losses and
regulatory forbearance, both of which are needed; and, finally, the
transactions-oriented financial system is itself in deep crisis.

The risks are indeed high and the ability of the authorities to deal with
them more limited than most people hope. This is not to suggest that there
are no ways out. Unfortunately, they are poisonous ones. In the last resort,
governments resolve financial crises. This is an iron law. Rescues can occur
via overt government assumption of bad debt, inflation, or both. Japan chose
the first, much to the distaste of its ministry of finance. But Japan is a
creditor country whose savers have complete confidence in the solvency of
their government. The US, however, is a debtor. It must keep the trust of
foreigners. Should it fail to do so, the inflationary solution becomes
probable. This is quite enough to explain why gold costs $920 an ounce.

The connection between the bursting of the housing bubble and the fragility
of the financial system has created huge dangers, for the US and the rest of
the world. The US public sector is now coming to the rescue, led by the Fed.
In the end, they will succeed. But the journey is likely to be wretchedly

*A Coming Recession in the US Economy? July 17 2006,;
**The Rising Risk of a Systemic Financial Meltdown, February 5 2008; ***Can
the Fed and Policy Makers Avoid a Systemic Financial Meltdown? Most Likely
Not, February 8 2008


8) Protesters Attack U.S. Embassy in Belgrade
February 22, 2008

BELGRADE — Demonstrators attacked the United States Embassy and set part of it ablaze Thursday as tens of thousands of angry Serbs took to the streets of Belgrade to protest Kosovo’s declaration of independence.

Witnesses said that at least 100 people broke into the Embassy and torched some of its rooms. One protester was able to rip the American flag from the facade of the building. An estimated 1,000 demonstrators cheered as the vandals, some wearing masks to concel their faces, jumped onto the building’s balcony waving a Serbian flag and chanting ‘Serbia, Serbia!” the witnesses said. A convoy of police firing tear gas was able to disperse the crowd.

The Associated Press reported that the small fires at the Embassy were quickly extinguished by firefighters.

The United States recognized Kosovo on Monday, one day after Kosovo declared its independence.

Serbian television reported that the Croatian Embassy had also been attacked and the state news agency said the Bosnian and Turkish Embassies were also targeted. Emergency services said that at least 30 people had been injured in the incidents, half of them police. Security sources estimated that 150,000 people joined the protests.

Witnesses said that a McDonald’s restaurant near the center of Belgrade was ransacked by protesters.

The United States Embassy had been closed since Sunday after it was targeted by demonstrators and employees had been told to stay home. A State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, on Thursday urged the Serbian government to protect the Embassy, the Associated Press reported. He said the ambassador was at his home and was in contact with American officials.

The violence fueled growing fears in Washington and Brussels that Serbia was turning to the virulent nationalism of the past.

But Serbian analysts predicted the country would ultimately embrace the West as it came to terms with losing its medieval heartland.

In recent days, Western leaders have looked on with growing alarm as Serbia’s hard-line Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who helped lead the revolution that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, has replicated the nationalist rhetoric of the late dictator, who used Serbs’ outrage that their ancestral heartland was dominated by Muslim Albanians to come to power in Serbia.

“As long as we live, Kosovo is Serbia,” Mr. Kostunica told the crowd in Belgrade, who thronged next to the old Yugoslav Parliament building chanting patriotic songs. “We’re not alone in our fight. President Putin is with us.”

In a sign of the divisions within Serbia’s government, the pro-Western President Boris Tadic was conspicuously absent from the rally, on a state visit to Romania.

Yet for all the hostility in a country seeming to turn inward on itself, Serbian political observers and Balkan experts predicted that the despair over the loss of Kosovo would eventually subside. They said economics would overcome emotions as a majority of Serbs came to realize that mooring Serbia to the European Union was the only way the country could prosper.

“The protests will allow Serbian nationalism and anger over the loss of Kosovo to vent itself,” said Misha Glenny, a prominent London-based Balkan expert. “Kosovo’s independence has made Serbia’s European path more difficult, but life will go on, and attaching Serbia to the European Union will remain the dominant opinion inside the country.”

Western diplomats said their hope for a moderate, outward-looking Serbia had been buttressed by the recent re-election of Mr. Tadic, who campaigned on the argument that holding on to Kosovo did not justify sacrificing Serbia’s future in Europe.

Their optimism, however, was tempered by the strong election showing for Mr. Tadic’s opponent, Tomislav Nikolic, a far-right nationalist who has exploited Serbs’ discontent over Kosovo by arguing that Serbia should reject Europe and look to Moscow and China instead.

But while Moscow has gained in popularity in Serbia by blocking Kosovo’s integration into the international community, leading Serbian intellectuals said most Serbs realized that the Kremlin’s willingness to fight for their cause was limited and driven by self-interest.

“Russia wasn’t there to help Serbs during the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, it wasn’t there to help Serbs in 1999 during the NATO bombing and most people realize it will not go that far now,” said Zoran Dogramadziev, a leading Serbian writer.

In the short term, analysts said an anti-European Union backlash would gain force following the West’s support for an independent Kosovo. But Marko Blagojevic, an analyst with the Center for Democracy and Free Elections in Belgrade and a leading pollster, stressed that recent polls showed that 65 per cent of Serbs saw their future in the European Union.

Mr. Blagojevic said he did not believe this had dramatically changed. He noted that only about 10 percent of Serbs supported going to war over Kosovo, and many were pensioners and housewives.

“With the independence declaration by Kosovo, Serbs see an imperfect international order, but once the rhetoric and emotions subside, I believe they will still want to be a part of it,” he said. “They do not want to go back to the past.”

Serbian analysts said that rather than reflecting a resurgence of dangerous nationalism, the protests over Kosovo reflected disenchantment by the “losers of the transition” — those Serbs who have not benefited from the country’s democratic transformation during the eight years since Mr. Milosevic fell.

Unemployment hovers at about 21 per cent, while the country’s annual per capita gross domestic product of about $7,400 has made Serbia one of Europe’s poorest countries.

Without European Union membership, Serbs do not enjoy the open borders of their neighbors. Many Serbs say they feel isolated and closed in.

Yet many of the younger generation, hungry for flashy cars and for the European Union visas that would help them see the world, say they would happily trade poor, landlocked Kosovo for better jobs and economic security.

“For my generation, the opportunity to have a good life is far more important than this piece of land,” said Aleksandar Obradovic, a 23-year-old political scientist from Belgrade who did not protest on Thursday and, like many Serbs, has never set foot in Kosovo.

Sociologists and historians say the difficulty for Serbs in coming to terms with Kosovo’s independence also reflected the need for Serbia to engage in a historical reckoning about the past. During the 1998-1999 conflict, when Mr. Milosevic’s repression of ethnic Albanians prompted NATO to intervene, an estimated 10,000 people were killed, many of them Albanians. Nearly 1,500 Serbs were killed in revenge killings that followed.

Svetlana Ivanovic, a 29-year-old student from Belgrade, said that until lately the events of the war had been largely glossed over in history lessons and in the media. But when she recently saw a documentary about the Balkan wars of the 1990s on Serbian television, she added, it reinforced her feelings that the Albanians had a right to self-determination. “When I saw what we had done to the Albanians, I began to cry and was very sad,” she said. “I believe that we should let Kosovo go.”

While many in the West believe that Mr. Milosevic’s cleansing of ethnic Albanians forfeited Serbia’s moral and legal right to rule Kosovo, many Serbian intellectuals and politicians counter that Mr. Milosevic’s misdeeds do not justify Kosovo’s independence.

Ljubica Gojgic, a leading Serbian commentator, noted that Mr. Milosevic had been overthrown by the Serbian people, who had recently put their faith in a newly elected moderate president, backed by the West. “If Mr. Tadic is good enough for the E.U. and Washington, why is he not acceptable to the Albanians in Kosovo?” she asked. “Milosevic is dead.”

Dan Bilefsky reported from Pristina, Kosovo..


9) Pentagon Is Confident Missile Hit Satellite Tank
February 21, 2008

WASHINGTON — Just hours after a Navy missile interceptor struck a dying spy satellite orbiting 130 miles over the Pacific Ocean, a senior military officer expressed high confidence early Thursday that a tank filled with toxic rocket fuel had been breached.

Video of the unusual operation showed the missile leaving a bright trail as it streaked toward the satellite, and then a flash, a fireball, a plume and a cloud as the interceptor, at a minimum, appeared to have found its target, a satellite that went dead shortly after being launched in 2006.

“We’re very confident that we hit the satellite,” said Gen. James E. Cartwright of the Marines, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “We also have a high degree of confidence that we got the tank.”

General Cartwright cautioned that despite visual and spectral evidence that the hydrazine rocket fuel had been dispersed, it could take 24 to 48 hours before the Pentagon could announce with full confidence that the mission was a success. Even so, he said the military had 80 to 90 percent confidence the fuel tank was breached.

The fuel tank aboard the satellite was believed strong enough to survive the fiery re-entry through the atmosphere, and officials expressed concerns that the toxic fuel could pose a hazard to populated areas.

General Cartwright said debris from the strike, with individual pieces no larger than a football, already had begun to re-enter the atmosphere. Most, he said, was predicted to fall into the ocean.

Even so, the State Department was alerting American embassies around the world so they could keep their host governments informed, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency had put out instructions to first responders across the United States about steps to take should hazardous debris fall in populated areas.

The first international reaction came from China, where the government objected on Thursday to the American missile strike, warning that the United States Navy’s action could threaten security in outer space.

Liu Jianchao, the Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesman, said at a news conference in Beijing that the United States should also share data promptly about what will become of the remaining pieces of the satellite, which are expected to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and mostly burn up in the next two days.

“China is continuously following closely the possible harm caused by the U.S. action to outer space security and relevant countries,” Mr. Liu said, according to the Associated Press. “China requests the U.S. to fulfill its international obligations in real earnest and provide to the international community necessary information and relevant data in a timely and prompt way so that relevant countries can take precautions.”

American officials were critical of China last year for using an anti-satellite weapon to destroy a satellite in a much higher orbit in January 2007 and then refusing to confirm the test for nearly two weeks. The Chinese test produced 1,600 pieces of debris that are expected to orbit the Earth for years, preventing other spacecraft from using the same or similar orbits.

During a Pentagon news conference Thursday morning, General Cartwright rebuffed those who said the mission was, at least in part, organized to showcase American missile defense or anti-satellite capabilities.

He said the missile itself had to be reconfigured from its task of tracking and hitting an adversary’s warhead to instead find a cold, tumbling satellite. “This was a one-time modification,” General Cartwright said.

Sensors from the American missile defense system were an important part of this mission, though, he said.

He stressed that “the intent here was to preserve human life,” but also acknowledged that “the technical degree of difficulty was significant” and the accomplishment earned cheers from personnel in command centers across the military, as well.

Completing a mission in which an interceptor designed for missile defense was used for the first time to attack a satellite, the Lake Erie, an Aegis-class cruiser, fired a single missile just before 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, and the missile hit the satellite as it traveled at more than 17,000 miles per hour, the Pentagon said in its official announcement.

“A network of land-, air-, sea- and spaced-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a nonfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” the statement said.

By early Wednesday, three Navy warships were in position in the Pacific Ocean to launch the interceptors and to track the mission.

Radar and other tracking equipment, both in space and on the ground, were monitored at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, and at a space command headquarters in Colorado Springs, with control of the operation managed by the Strategic Command in Omaha, Neb.

Although the satellite circled the globe every 90 minutes, analysts pinpointed a single overhead pass each day that would offer the best chance of striking the satellite and then having half of the debris fall into the atmosphere in the next three orbits over water or less-populated areas of the Earth.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who left Washington on Wednesday for a week of meetings in Asia, had been empowered by President Bush to issue the order to shoot down the satellite and gave the order several hours before the strike.

The many moving parts of a mission to shoot down a dying spy satellite with an antimissile interceptor were lined up earlier Wednesday after the space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth, officials said.

Military officials said their goal had been to carry out the mission before March 1, when the satellite was expected to start skidding against the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

That initial friction would bump the satellite into a more unpredictable Earth orbit, even before it started a fiery descent through the atmosphere.

Providing new information about how the mission would be carried out, a senior military officer on Wednesday described the vessels, weapons and command structure for the operation

The senior military officer said the mission would be launched in daylight to take advantage of radar, heat-sensor tracking and visual tracking equipment. The Navy had a window that lasted only tens of seconds as the satellite passed overhead, military officers said.

The Lake Erie has two Standard Missile 3 rockets that were adapted to track the cold satellite, as opposed to the heated enemy warheads for which it was designed. A second ship, the destroyer Decatur, had a third missile as backup. Another Navy destroyer, the Russell, sailed with the convoy for added tracking capabilities.

The 5,000-pound satellite, roughly the size of a school bus, was managed by the National Reconnaissance Office and went dead shortly after it was launched in December 2006.

The FEMA document notes, “Any debris should be considered potentially hazardous, and first responders should not attempt to pick it up or move it.”

Keith Bradsher contributed reporting from Hong Kong.


10) Hate Mail Sent to Blacks at Prep School Is Investigated
February 21, 2008

CONCORD, N.H. — A police investigation is under way at an elite prep school here after many black students received anonymous letters that the head of the school described as “threatening hate mail.”

A spokeswoman for the school, St. Paul’s, said the letters had arrived in the students’ mailboxes on Tuesday. The spokeswoman, Jana Brown, would not disclose the contents of the letters or how many students received them, but said, “Students of color do appear to be the target.”

According to several people associated with St. Paul’s, each student received a copy of his own photo from the school’s internal face book with the words “bang bang get out of here” written below. They said the letters, sent through the Postal Service, were postmarked from nearby Manchester, N.H.

Lt. Keith Mitchell of the Concord Police Department said the police had started investigating Tuesday night but could not yet discuss the case.

Bill Matthews, the rector of St. Paul’s, convened a special assembly to discuss the mailing with students on Tuesday and sent e-mail messages to their parents. About 525 students attend St. Paul’s, and, according to the school’s Web site, 8 percent, or about 40, are black. The students are in 9th through 12th grades.

“It is an outrage,” Mr. Matthews wrote to parents, “and while only some were threatened directly, we all have been wounded by this. I shared with our children this evening that, unfortunately, there is hatred in our world. Some of that hatred arrived on our doorstep today. I am confident, however, that the loving and supportive qualities of this community are stronger than that hatred, and will prevail.”

Founded in 1856 and considered one of the nation’s top prep schools, St. Paul’s is affiliated with the Episcopal Church. The school charges about $40,000 a year in tuition, fees and room and board. Its alumni include Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, the cartoonist Garry Trudeau and the actor Judd Nelson.

Several years ago, accusations of financial mismanagement at St. Paul’s prompted investigations by the Internal Revenue Service and the New Hampshire attorney general’s office. The rector at the time, Bishop Craig Anderson, retired early and reimbursed the school for inappropriate expenses he had incurred.

On Wednesday, one student told a reporter who approached her on campus that she could not discuss the hate-mail episode. A woman who identified herself as the athletic director told the reporter to leave, saying the school wanted its privacy respected and would not allow the news media to speak with students.

Several faculty members did not respond to requests for comment.

Ms. Brown said St. Paul’s had stepped up security, even requesting a police detail for the school grounds in Concord, about 70 miles north of Boston.

“If kids wanted to talk about it in classes today,” she said, “that was definitely the No. 1 priority — just supporting them and making sure they were O.K.”

Abby Goodnough reported from Boston, and Katie Zezima from Concord, N.H.


11) Victim’s Fiancée Struggles to Cope as Trial Approaches
February 21, 2008

Dozens of photographs decorate the narrow living room of Nicole Paultre Bell’s home in Far Rockaway, Queens, but one catches the eye more quickly than the rest.

It is a 16-by-20-inch picture that shows Ms. Bell, her head tilted and her grin wide, sitting on the floor while her fiancé, Sean Bell, is on the couch. She is holding Jordyn, their younger daughter, while their older child, Jada, sits with him.

The last photograph of Mr. Bell with his family, it is the emotional centerpiece of a home that features a rustic wooden coffee table, a cushy sofa and slivers of sunlight. For Ms. Bell, her home in this quiet residential neighborhood is a reprieve from the whirlwind of the last 15 months.

Early on Nov. 25, 2006, detectives fatally shot Mr. Bell, 23, near a strip club in Queens, hours before he was to marry Ms. Bell.

The officers said they believed Mr. Bell and his friends were 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 said, the officers opened fire, killing him and wounding the two friends with him in a barrage of 50 bullets. The officers said they believed they were being fired upon, but no gun was found in the car.

The shooting has drawn national attention, with people from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to the Rev. Al Sharpton questioning the police’s actions.

Ms. Bell, who took her fiancé’s name after his death, has received condolences from the famous, including Spike Lee and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has received letters from entire elementary school classes. She has appeared on “Larry King Live” and been interviewed for Essence magazine.

Now, Ms. Bell, 23, is preparing for what could be another difficult chapter.

On Monday, three of the five police officers involved in the shooting will go on trial before a judge for the death of Mr. Bell. Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard F. Isnora face charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter. Detective Marc Cooper faces two misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment.

Ms. Bell said she planned to be in the courtroom every day.

“Nothing was worse than the day I lost him,” Ms. Bell said. “So if I have to sit through court for two months, hear evidence or things I may not have known, it’s O.K. I’m willing to do that.”

Ms. Bell has performed a difficult juggling act since Mr. Bell’s death. She has had to deal with her emotions and legal proceedings (she testified in front of the grand jury that indicted the officers, and she is part of a lawsuit pending against the police, the city and the officers involved in the shooting), while raising two young girls by herself.

Jordyn, 20 months, is too young to remember her father, Ms. Bell said, but she often points to pictures of her father and says, “Daddy.”

Jada, 5, is constantly asking questions.

“Why did God just take Daddy? Why didn’t he take the whole family?” she asked once.

Ms. Bell says she sometimes has to step into another room away from her daughter to cry.

“I can’t show that to my daughter,” she said. “I want her to see me as a strong woman.”

Ms. Bell has been a stay-at-home mother since Sean’s death. She receives financial support from the National Action Network, Mr. Sharpton’s organization, and from family members. She drives Jada, who is in kindergarten, to school every morning and picks her up every afternoon.

She cannot help thinking of the things Mr. Bell has missed already — Jordyn’s learning to walk, Jada’s perfect score on a spelling test — and those he will miss in the future.

Barely a moment goes by, Ms. Bell says, when she is not thinking of her fiancé. Driving home late, she recalls his advice not to stop for gas in the dark. Deciding what to buy at the grocery, she thinks of what he would want her to get.

The most difficult time of the day, Ms. Bell said, is bedtime. She said she used to lie in his arms and they would talk.

“You don’t sleep the same anymore,” Ms. Bell said. “Any sudden noise, I’m up.”

Ms. Bell still wears her engagement ring and wedding band. She also occasionally wears a small gold pin inscribed with Mr. Bell’s name and the words, “See you later.”

“Sean always told us don’t say ‘Bye,’ ” Ms. Bell said. “ ‘Bye’ means forever.”

Memories of the night Mr. Bell died still rattle Ms. Bell. She cried as she recounted the night.

Mr. Bell was out preparing for his bachelor party, while she was having a bridal shower at her mother’s home. She said her shower ended around 9 p.m., and she fell asleep a short time later. She woke up in the middle of the night and saw that she had missed a call from Sean at 1:11 a.m.

“I think about that time all the time,” she said. “I just wish I didn’t miss that call.”

It would have been a final chance to hear his voice. Her mother woke her around 4 a.m., saying that her brother-in-law called and said there had been an accident. They rushed to the hospital.

When she arrived, Ms. Bell said, her brother-in-law told her that the police had shot Mr. Bell. She became nauseated. About an hour later, she said, a doctor told her that Mr. Bell was dead.

“No. No. Not Sean. Not him,” Ms. Bell recalled telling the doctor.

It has only been about two months, Ms. Bell said, since she accepted that the man she was to marry would not be coming home, that he was not on some long trip.

Now, repeatedly using the word “justice,” Ms. Bell said she was eager to hear from the men who shot her fiancé.

“I am looking forward to hearing from their mouth what happened,” she said.

Regardless of the judge’s decision, Ms. Bell said, “I believe that God will have the last word.”

For Father’s Day, Ms. Bell said, Jada and her classmates made presents in preschool. Some children whose fathers were not around wanted to give their presents to their mothers. Jada, who made a wooden jewelry box, wanted to give it to her father.

She cut out one of her school pictures and wrote “I love you, Daddy” and “I miss you” on the back of it. She placed it in the box and left it at her father’s grave. As she left, she waved and said, “See you later.”


12) City’s Sweeping Rezoning Plan for 125th Street Has Many in Harlem Concerned
February 21, 2008

The street may not be much to look at now, say people who grew up in Harlem during the 1950s and 1960s, but back then, 125th Street seemed like the bustling center of the world.

At Moore’s book shop, a lawyer named Thurgood Marshall was often seen browsing through volumes of African-American history, while at the corner of Lenox Avenue, Malcolm X could be heard proselytizing as a young boxer named Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, listened intently among the crowd.

Up the street, Aretha Franklin or Stevie Wonder performed periodically at the Apollo Theater, and Fidel Castro once conferred with Nikita Khrushchev over lunch at the Hotel Theresa. Blumstein’s may not have been Macy’s, but it did have black mannequins and, at Christmastime, a black Santa Claus.

The street has long been in decline, though national chain stores like Starbucks have taken an interest in it more recently. Now the Bloomberg administration has proposed the most sweeping zoning changes for the street since 1961, when there was a citywide rezoning and 125th Street was at the heart of African-American cultural life.

The rezoning, which is expected to be approved by the city’s Planning Commission in the coming weeks, is part of package of city plans that call for the thoroughfare to be transformed from a low-rise boulevard lined with businesses like hair salons and buffet-style soul food restaurants into a regional business hub with office towers as high as 29 stories and more than 2,000 new market-rate condominium apartments, as well as hotels, bookstores, art galleries and nightclubs.

The corridor between 124th and 126th Streets from Broadway to Second Avenue would be rezoned, which could ultimately force out more than 70 small businesses and their 975 workers and might lead to the razing of some of the street’s century-old buildings.

Although the city has said it will not require any residents to move out, the proposal has caused widespread fear that thousands of longtime African-American residents will eventually have to move as the area becomes more expensive. Even now, some apartments in Harlem sell for $2 million or more.

Still, even opponents of the plan agree that new development on 125th Street is necessary to reduce unemployment and to improve the area’s $17,452 median household income, which is about one-third the rest of Manhattan, according to a 1999 Planning Commission report.

What opponents say they do not want is for the street, which has been an incubator for pioneering arts and social movements, to be turned into another Manhattan cookie-cutter strip with expensive shops and shaded by skyscrapers.

“One hundred twenty-fifth Street, like everywhere in the world, must change,” said Dabney Montgomery, 84, an informal community advocate who has lived in Harlem for 52 years. “But we are interested in change that will benefit the people of Harlem. The rezoning would make 125th Street into another 86th Street. That, we don’t want.”

Amanda M. Burden, chairwoman of the Planning Commission, who since her appointment in 2002 has presided over some of the most extensive rezoning undertaken for two generations, said she was not intent on making 125th Street another generic boulevard.

Ms. Burden said she had spent more time studying the 125th Street proposal — including attending 30 to 40 meetings and walking the street on several occasions — than she had on any other project, including Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Columbia University’s expansion in western Harlem.

“It’s one of the most renowned streets in the world, and there was a great time on 125th Street when people came from all over the world to enjoy its night life and culture,” she said. “It’s not what it was.”

Last year, the American Planning Association named 125th Street one of the “10 Great Streets in America,” calling it the “Main Street of black American culture.”

The street, the group said, has “managed to maintain a strong identity through periods of tremendous population growth and infrastructural strain, disinvestment and urban renewal.”

But residents, who often call Harlem a village and refer to 125th Street as its Main Street, say they worry that its personality will not survive rezoning.

“This would be signing Harlem’s death warrant,” said Craig Schley, executive director of a group called VOTE People, which opposes the rezoning. “It is part of the continuing ‘Katrina-fication’ of Harlem, carried out with a pen instead of a hurricane. They intend to remove people in this area, plain and simple.”

Community Board 10, which represents central Harlem, voted against the 24-block rezoning last year, saying that the plan includes far too little housing that most Harlem residents could afford and that any new housing should be placed on 124th and 126th Streets because it would harm the commercial character of 125th.

The community board also said the proposed 29-story height limit was too high and would cause cultural fixtures like the Apollo Theater and the Studio Museum of Harlem to be dwarfed. There is currently no height limit on the street, but building height became an issue recently when developers unveiled proposals for skyscrapers along the street, including a 21-story building for Major League Baseball.

“Harlem is one of the few places left in the city where you can see the sky,” said Franc Perry, the community board chairman. “You’re able to get some fresh air and see the sun, and it’s not blocked by high rises.”

City Councilwoman Inez E. Dickens, who represents central Harlem, said she was concerned about portions of the plan but believed the need for change was paramount. Ms. Dickens’s position is critical to the prospects of the rezoning because most other council members would be unlikely to oppose her when the plan reaches the City Council.

“It is quite clear to me that in doing nothing, our village loses,” she said. “Keeping 125th Street as is only satisfies the status quo. If we are truly to affect the unemployment rate, especially amongst the young black and Latino males of our community, then we must pursue our involvement in inevitable change.”

The street, which in recent years has emerged from a years-long decline symbolized by boarded-up storefronts, has served as both Harlem’s Main Street and as a cultural touchstone for leading figures, including Bill Clinton, who has an office there.

During a recent weekend day, with temperatures hovering around freezing, members of the Communist Party were recruiting on a corner of 125th Street while volunteers for various presidential campaigns were handing out fliers on the other side of the street. A group of Black Hebrew Israelites was denouncing white people near the Apollo, vendors were selling books, incense and DVDs they had laid out on the sidewalk, and a man opened his coat to display watches for sale.

Rap, gospel and soul music came from speakers set outside the street’s small stores as visitors from Europe and Japan riding on red tour buses took it all in.

While only a few years ago pedestrians on the street had been almost exclusively black or Latino, there are now significant numbers of whites and Asians who have moved to Harlem to find apartments more affordable than in much of the rest of Manhattan.

Ms. Burden, the planning chairwoman, said the city’s proposals would help maintain the street’s vitality and culture by requiring large developers to set aside ground-floor space for arts and entertainment uses and by encouraging smaller developers to do the same through an incentive program.

Ms. Burden played down the notion of widespread displacement, saying that more than 90 percent of the housing in the area was “rent protected,” including the neighborhood’s several large public housing complexes.

The idea that the street needed development hit her, she said, when she attended a recent Roberta Flack concert at the Apollo with a friend who works on the street.

After the concert ended, Ms. Burden said, she asked her friend where they should eat. “Downtown,” the friend replied.

“There should be a million different eateries around there, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to frame and control growth on 125th Street,” Ms. Burden said. “The energy on the street is just remarkable, and it’s got to stay that way.”


13) U.S. Ends Protections for Wolves in 3 States
February 22, 2008
Protest this now:

DENVER — The Bush administration on Thursday announced an end to federal protection for gray wolves in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, concluding that the wolves were reproductively robust enough to survive.

“Wolves are back,” said Lynn Scarlett, the deputy secretary of the Department of the Interior, in a telephone conference call with reporters. “Gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains are thriving and no longer need protection.”

A coalition of wildlife and environmental groups dismissed the government’s claims and announced plans for a lawsuit to reverse the decision, which is to take effect next month.

Advocates for the animals said there were too few wolves to make a genetically sound population, and that state plans to manage wolf populations were underfinanced and fueled by a long-simmering animosity against wolves that could drive them back to threatened status.

“The numbers are inadequate and the state programs are, too,” said Louisa Willcox, a senior wildlife advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a conservation group that is participating in the planned lawsuit.

From a base population of 66 wolves introduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid-1990s, there are now nearly 1,300, with an additional 230 or so in Montana that have drifted down from Canada. State management plans allow for wolf hunting, or outright eradication in some places — including most of Wyoming — with a target population of 150 in each of the three states.

Biologists cited by the environmental and wildlife groups say that target population is too small, and suggest instead that 2,000 to 3,000 animals are the minimum needed.

Gray wolves were first protected in 1974, one of the first animals to be covered by the Endangered Species Act, which was passed a year earlier. But it turned out there were none left to protect across most of the West. That led to the idea of reintroduction, which began in 1995.

“We’re not at recovery yet,” said Doug Honnold, the managing attorney at the Northern Rockies office of Earthjustice, a nonprofit legal group based in Oakland, Calif. “We’re in the neighborhood, we’re close, but we’re not there.”

Removing federal protections now, Mr. Honnold said, would violate the language of the Endangered Species Act that requires decision makers to use the best possible science in determining a viable target population.

Federal officials said their science was sound.

“Wolves are resilient, and their social structure is resilient,” said Ed Bangs, the gray wolf recovery coordinator for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. Mr. Bangs said that even with federal protections in place almost one in four wolves die each year, either naturally or from human action, and yet the population has still been rising at a rate of about 24 percent a year.

The director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, H. Dale Hall, said that if the population dipped below the state’s pledged management levels, federal monitoring would be extended and other options explored as well, including a restoration of protection.

Environmentalists said those provisions were too vague to affect what the states do in the next few crucial months.

But people’s perceptions of wolves are also changing. Wealthy second-home owners, recreation enthusiasts and retirees began moving into the corridor of communities around Yellowstone about the same time as the wolves did.

Even in Wyoming, which has the harshest measures in place for controlling wolves, a majority of residents who spoke up during a public comment period on the state’s plan opposed it, according to an analysis by the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish.


14) The DNA Age
Fear of Insurance Trouble Leads Many to Shun or Hide DNA Tests
February 24, 2008

Victoria Grove wanted to find out if she was destined to develop the form of emphysema that ran in her family, but she did not want to ask her doctor for the DNA test that would tell her.

She worried that she might not be able to get health insurance, or even a job, if a genetic predisposition showed up in her medical records, especially since treatment for the condition, Alpha-1, could cost over $100,000 a year. Instead, Ms. Grove sought out a service that sent a test kit to her home and returned the results directly to her.

Nor did she tell her doctor when the test revealed that she was virtually certain to get it. Knowing that she could sustain permanent lung damage without immediate treatment for her bouts of pneumonia, she made sure to visit her clinic at the first sign of infection.

But then came the day when the nurse who listened to her lungs decided she just had a cold. Ms. Grove begged for a chest X-ray. The nurse did not think it was necessary.

“It was just an ongoing battle with myself,” recalled Ms. Grove, of Woodbury, Minn. “Should I tell them now or wait till I’m sicker?”

The first, much-anticipated benefits of personalized medicine are being lost or diluted for many Americans who are too afraid that genetic information may be used against them to take advantage of its growing availability.

In some cases, doctors say, patients who could make more informed health care decisions if they learned whether they had inherited an elevated risk of diseases like breast and colon cancer refuse to do so because of the potentially dire economic consequences.

Others enter a kind of genetic underground, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars of their own money for DNA tests that an insurer would otherwise cover, so as to avoid scrutiny. Those who do find out they are likely or certain to develop a particular genetic condition often beg doctors not to mention it in their records.

Some, like Ms. Grove, try to manage their own care without confiding in medical professionals. And even doctors who recommend DNA testing to their patients warn them that they could face genetic discrimination from employers or insurers.

Such discrimination appears to be rare; even proponents of federal legislation that would outlaw it can cite few examples of it. But thousands of people accustomed to a health insurance system in which known risks carry financial penalties are drawing their own conclusions about how a genetic predisposition to disease is likely to be regarded.

As a result, the ability to more effectively prevent and treat genetic disease is faltering even as the means to identify risks people are born with are improving.

“It’s pretty clear that the public is afraid of taking advantage of genetic testing,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health. “If that continues, the future of medicine that we would all like to see happen stands the chance of being dead on arrival.”

Caught in a Bind

For Ms. Grove, 59, keeping her genetic condition secret finally became impossible. When her symptoms worsened she was told to come back to the clinic before antibiotics would be prescribed. But there had been a snowstorm that day, and she could not summon the strength to drive.

“I have Alpha-1,” she remembers sobbing into the phone. “I need this antibiotic!”

The clinic called in the prescription.

Ms. Grove, who does freelance accounting from home and has health insurance through her husband’s employer, allowed herself to be identified here because she said she felt an obligation to others — including some in her own family — to draw attention to the bind she sees herself in.

“Something needs to be done so that you cannot be discriminated against when you know about these things,” she said. “Otherwise you are sicker, your life is shorter and you’re not doing what you need to protect yourself.”

Employers say discrimination is already prohibited in the workplace by the Americans with Disabilities Act and existing laws governing privacy of medical records. But employee rights advocates say nothing in those laws explicitly prevents employers hard-pressed to pay for mounting health care costs from trying to screen out employees they know are more likely to get sick.

Courts have yet to rule on the subject. When the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission sued the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway for secretly testing the blood of employees who had filed compensation claims for carpal-tunnel syndrome in an effort to discover a genetic cause for the symptoms, the case was settled out of court in 2002.

And in 2005 when Eddy Curry, then the center for the Chicago Bulls, refused a genetic test to learn if he was predisposed to a heart ailment, the team traded him to the New York Knicks.

Insurers say they do not ask prospective customers about genetic test results, or require testing. “It’s an anecdotal fear,” said Mohit M. Ghose, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, whose members provide benefits for 200 million Americans. “Our industry is not interested in any way, shape or form in discriminating based on a genetic marker.”

Still, a recent study by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute found otherwise. In 7 of 92 underwriting decisions, insurance providers evaluating hypothetical applicants said they would deny coverage, charge more for premiums or exclude certain conditions from coverage based on genetic test results.

The Medical Cost

Regardless of whether discrimination actually occurs, many health care professionals say the pervasive anxiety over it demands legislative action. Geneticists complain that discrimination fears prevent them from recruiting research participants, delaying cures and treatments for disease. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the same concern is a leading reason people cancel appointments for tests that detect cancer risk.

“We are dealing with potential lifesaving interventions,” said Dr. Kenneth Offit, chief of the center’s clinical genetics service. “It’s a tragedy that people are being scared off by this.”

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin last year, would prohibit insurers from using genetic information to deny benefits or raise premiums for both group and individual policies. (It is already illegal to exclude individuals from a group plan because of their genetic profile.) The bill would also bar employers from collecting genetic information or using it to make decisions about hiring, firing or compensation. But it has yet to reach the Senate floor.

Meanwhile, a $300 genetic test for prostate cancer risk announced last month immediately drew callers to a public radio station in Washington that was discussing the test, voicing fears of insurance discrimination. Dr. Karim Kader, who made the test possible with his discovery that men who carry certain DNA variants are four to five times likelier to develop prostate cancer, assured one caller that the test would be “very private.”

For some, that is not good enough.

Linda Vahdat, director of the breast cancer research program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, estimates that 20 percent of her patients choose to pay for the DNA test for inherited breast cancer risk with cash, to avoid submitting insurance claims.

And last year, hundreds of customers paid the start-up company DNA Direct for tests that range in cost from $175 to $3,456 to ensure that no third party, not even a doctor, had access to their results. Mary, a freelance camera assistant in Brooklyn, for instance, sent a swab of her cheek cells to DNA Direct to find out if her extreme fatigue was caused by hemochromatosis, a genetic condition in which the body retains too much iron.

“I would rather not lay out the $200 myself,” said Mary, who requested that her last name be withheld for the same reason she paid for her own test. “But it seemed safer.”

Treatment for hemochromatosis typically involves removing a unit of blood twice-weekly by phlebotomy. But that would mean disclosing the condition to a doctor, so Mary is planning on becoming a frequent blood donor.

Kathy, a financial analyst in Houston who would like to know if she, like her two sisters, has a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, said she was not going to take even an anonymous test. “Then,” she said, “I’m just in a position of having to lie.”

The culture of secrecy around genetic information is stronger in the United States, some experts say, than in countries where people are guaranteed health care. Among Americans at risk for Huntington’s disease, an incurable brain disorder, only 5 percent take the DNA test to determine if they will develop it, compared with 20 percent of Canadians in the same position, according to Michael R. Hayden, a professor of human genetics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Here, doctors often feel obligated to inform patients of the potential financial downside.

“I always warn them,” said Dr. Stephen Moll, director of the Thrombophilia Program at the University of North Carolina, who uses a genetic test to determine the best treatment for patients with blood clots. “Especially if they are self-employed, I don’t want it to be a surprise if their health insurance premium goes up.”

Unknown Risks

After receiving a similar warning from her doctor, Katherine Anderson’s parents did not allow her to be tested for Factor V Leiden, a genetic condition she might have inherited from her father that increases the risk of blood clots.

But last year, with nothing in Ms. Anderson’s record to indicate reason for concern, a gynecologist prescribed a birth control pill to regulate her uneven periods. Six weeks later, Ms. Anderson, then 16, developed a clot that stretched from her knee to her abdomen. The pill, combined with the gene she had indeed inherited, had increased her clotting risk by 30-fold.

Now largely recovered, her primary concern is whether she will be viewed as a health insurance liability for the future.

“I don’t want to have to work for a big business just to get insurance,” she said. “This could be determining what I can do for my whole life.”

For Judith Berman Carlisle, the price of privacy was forgoing the DNA test that would have convinced her not to have surgery. Ms. Carlisle, 48, who was setting up her own therapy practice, was afraid testing positive for the high-risk breast and ovarian cancer gene that runs in her family would prevent her from buying health insurance.

But her sister had developed ovarian cancer the year before, an aunt had died of it, and Ms. Carlisle was desperate not to get it herself. Her doctor agreed to remove her ovaries based on her family history — the way such decisions were commonly made before a genetic test was available.

Ms. Carlisle was convinced the surgery would be less damning than proof that she carried the gene, BRCA1, which also confers an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

“There’s a big difference between someone saying, ‘I have a strong family history,’ ” Ms. Carlisle said, “and saying, ‘I only have a 13 percent chance of not getting breast cancer during the time you’re insuring me.’ ”

Last fall, after the surgery to remove her ovaries, she began to consider a double mastectomy to remove any chance of breast cancer, the disease her grandmother and another aunt had died of. Having secured health insurance, she took the test for the BRCA1 mutation. It came back negative.

“The first thing they said to me,” Ms. Carlisle said, “is that I have no higher risk than anyone on the street.”


15) After the War, a New Battle to Become Citizens
February 24, 2008

Despite a 2002 promise from President Bush to put citizenship applications for immigrant members of the military on a fast track, some are finding themselves waiting months, or even years, because of bureaucratic backlogs. One, Sgt. Kendell K. Frederick of the Army, who had tried three times to file for citizenship, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq as he returned from submitting fingerprints for his application.

About 7,200 service members or people who have been recently discharged have citizenship applications pending, but neither the Department of Defense nor Citizenship and Immigration Services keeps track of how long they have been waiting. Immigration lawyers and politicians say they have received a significant number of complaints about delays because of background checks, misplaced paperwork, confusion about deployments and other problems.

“I’ve pretty much given up on finding out where my paperwork is, what’s gone wrong, what happened to it,” said Abdool Habibullah, 27, a Guyanese immigrant who first applied for citizenship in 2005 upon returning from a tour in Iraq and was honorably discharged from the Marines as a sergeant. “If what I’ve done for this country isn’t enough for me to be a citizen, then I don’t know what is.”

The long waits are part of a broader problem plaguing the immigration service, which was flooded with 2.5 million applications for citizenship and visas last summer — twice as many as the previous year — in the face of 66 percent fee increases that took effect July 30. Officials have estimated that it will take an average of 18 months to process citizenship applications from legal immigrants through 2010, up from seven months last year.

But service members and veterans are supposed to go to the head of the line. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush signed an executive order allowing noncitizens on active duty to file for citizenship right away, instead of having to first complete three years in the military. The federal government has since taken several steps to speed up the process, including training military officers to help service members fill out forms, assigning special teams to handle the paperwork, and allowing citizenship tests, interviews and ceremonies to take place overseas.

At the same time, post-9/11 security measures, including tougher guidelines for background checks that are part of the naturalization process, have slowed things down.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which checks the names of citizenship applicants against those in its more than 86 million investigative files, has been overwhelmed, handling an average of 90,000 name-check requests a week. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the F.B.I. was asked to check 4.1 million names, at least half of them for citizenship and green card applicants, a spokesman said.

“Most soldiers clear the checks within 30 to 60 days, or 60 to 90 days,” said Leslie B. Lord, the Army’s liaison to Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that processes citizenship applications. “But even the soldier with the cleanest of records, if he has a name that’s very similar to one that’s in the F.B.I. bad-boy and bad-girl list, things get delayed.”

Such explanations are why Mr. Habibullah has decided that once he does become a citizen — if he ever becomes a citizen — he will change his name.

“I figured that’s part of the reason things got delayed,” he said. “You know, that I have a Muslim name.”

Thousands of Muslim civilians have also found themselves waiting months or years for background checks, and have filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Denver. But advocates for the immigrant service members said that those with pending applications are from a variety of backgrounds and that they do not suspect a pattern of discrimination against Muslims.

Some 31,200 members of the military were sworn in as citizens between October 2002 and December 2007, according to the immigration service, but a spokeswoman, Chris Rhatigan, said she could not determine how long it took for them to be naturalized since the agency does not maintain a database tracking military cases.

Over all, 312,000 citizenship or green card applications are pending name checks, including 140,000 that have been waiting more than six months, immigration officials said. This month, immigration authorities eased background-check requirements for green cards, saying that if applicants had been waiting more than six months, they could be approved without an F.B.I. check, and approvals could be revoked later “in the unlikely event” that troubling information was found.

After hearing complaints from at least half a dozen service members over the past three months, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York has drafted a bill to create a special clearinghouse to ensure that applications from active and returning members of the military are processed quickly and smoothly. A spokesman said several other lawmakers reported hearing many similar stories.

“These are men and women who are risking their lives for us,” Mr. Schumer said in a telephone interview. “They’ve met all the requirements for citizenship, they have certainly proved their commitment to our country, and yet they could lose their lives while waiting for a bureaucratic snafu to untangle.”

In interviews, immigration lawyers and military officials said that in general, the naturalization process takes service members between six months and a year, which is about half the current average wait for civilians. But some cases drag on much longer because of background-check delays or because applications are misplaced, or notices are mailed to stateside addresses after an applicant has been deployed, causing appointments to be missed.

“You try to resolve these things amicably, reaching out to the military, reaching out to immigration officials, but you hit roadblock after roadblock,” said David E. Piver, a Pennsylvania lawyer who filed at least six petitions in federal court over the past five years on behalf of service members experiencing longer than usual delays on their citizenship applications.

“It’s usually not any substantive issue that’s causing those delays,” he said. “What it boils down to are bureaucratic snafus.”

Feyad Mohammed, an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago who lives with his parents in Richmond Hill, Queens, was naturalized last month — four years after he filed the first of four citizenship applications, and six months after his honorable discharge from the Army as a sergeant.

Mr. Mohammed first applied in 2004, after he returned from the first of his two tours in Iraq. But the application seemed to have been lost; when he checked after a few months, he said, no one at the immigration service could tell him where it was or even if it had been received. He filed again in 2005, but missed his interview several months later; it had been scheduled in Iraq, during his second combat tour, but he was home on leave on the appointed day.

After he was discharged in July 2007, Mr. Mohammed filed another application. The paperwork was returned because he had not included a check covering the processing fee, he said, ignoring a Bush administration initiative that exempts combat veterans from application fees for up to a year after discharge. It was then that Mr. Mohammed reached out to Senator Schumer’s office, which helped him file a fourth, and final, time.

When he was sworn in Jan. 25 at the federal courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, Mr. Mohammed said, he felt “relieved.”

“I was a citizen,” he said. “I could finally move on with my life.”

But Sergeant Frederick, a 21-year-old immigrant from Trinidad, would be awarded citizenship only posthumously, on the day of his burial. He is one of more than 90 immigrant service members to be naturalized after losing their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Sergeant Frederick’s mother, Michelle Murphy, said that he had filed his citizenship application a year before he was deployed to Iraq in 2005, but that his application was sent back to her Maryland home three times — once because of incomplete biographical information, again because he had left a box unchecked, and once more because he had not paid the fee.

Finally, Ms. Murphy said, Sergeant Frederick received a letter saying that the fingerprints he had included with his application could not be read and that he needed to submit new ones. She contacted immigration officials, who arranged for him to submit a new set of fingerprints on Oct. 19, 2005, near his base in Tikrit. On the way back from the appointment, his convoy hit a roadside bomb.

“If somebody is fighting for a country, if he’s deployed, if he’s in the middle of a war, it shouldn’t be that hard for them to become a citizen,” Ms. Murphy, 42, said in a telephone interview.

After his death, the immigration service began accepting enlistment fingerprints with service members’ citizenship applications, provided applicants authorized the military to share their files with immigration officials. A bill to make such sharing automatic has been passed by the House and is pending a final Senate vote.

In the meantime, Mr. Habibullah is working as an aircraft hydraulics mechanic in Connecticut, though he hopes to get a better-paying job in the federal government once he is naturalized. In October, Mr. Habibullah’s father and grandmother became citizens in separate ceremonies, though they applied fully two years after he did.

Mr. Habibullah has passed the citizenship test and been interviewed, and he said he does not know what to do to move his application through the backlog faster.

“Every time I ask about it, I get the same answer: it’s pending the background check,” Mr. Habibullah said as he looked over his military medals, which are displayed on a wall in the Mount Vernon, N.Y., apartment he shares with his wife and 1-month-old son. “I’m at the point right now that I’ve almost given up on it.”


16) Obama's Money Cartel
How he's fronted for the most vicious firms on Wall Street
By Pam Martens
February 23, 2008

Wall Street, known variously as a barren wasteland for diversity or the last plantation in America, has defied courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for decades in its failure to hire blacks as stockbrokers. Now it's marshalling its money machine to elect a black man to the highest office in the land. Why isn't the press curious about this?

Walk into any of the largest Wall Street brokerage firms today and you'll see a self-portrait of upper management racism and sexism: women sitting at secretarial desks outside fancy offices occupied by predominantly white males. According to the EEOC as well as the recent racial discrimination class actions filed against UBS and Merrill Lynch, blacks make up between one percent to 3.5 percent of stockbrokers—and this after 30 years of litigation, settlements and empty promises to do better by the largest Wall Street firms. The first clue to an entrenched white male bastion seeking a black male occupant in the oval office (having placed only five blacks in the U.S. Senate in the last two centuries) appeared this month on a chart at the Center for Responsive Politics website. It was a list of the 20 top contributors to the Barack Obama campaign, and it looked like one of those comprehension tests where you match up things that go together and eliminate those that don't. Of the 20 top contributors, I eliminated six that didn't compute. I was now looking at a sight only slightly less frightening to democracy than a Diebold voting machine. It was a Wall Street cartel of financial firms, their registered lobbyists, and go-to law firms that have a death grip on our federal government.

Why is the "yes, we can" candidate in bed with this cartel? How can we, the people, make change if Obama's money backers block our ability to be heard?

Seven of the Obama campaign's top 14 donors consist of officers and employees of the same Wall Street firms charged time and again with looting the public and newly implicated in originating and/or bundling fraudulently made mortgages. These latest frauds have left thousands of children in some of our largest minority communities coming home from school to see eviction notices and foreclosure signs nailed to their front doors. Those scars will last a lifetime.

These seven Wall Street firms are (in order of money given): Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. There is also a large hedge fund, Citadel Investment Group, which is a major source of fee income to Wall Street. There are five large corporate law firms that are also registered lobbyists; and one is a corporate law firm that is no longer a registered lobbyist but does legal work for Wall Street. The cumulative total of these 14 contributors through February 1, 2008, was $2,872,128, and we're still in the primary season.

But hasn't Senator Obama repeatedly told us in ads and speeches and debates that he wasn't taking money from registered lobbyists? Hasn't the press given him a free pass on this statement?

Barack Obama, speaking in Greenville, South Carolina, on January 22, 2008:

"Washington lobbyists haven't funded my campaign, they won't run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of working Americans when I am president."

Barack Obama, in an email to supporters on June 25, 2007, as reported by the Boston Globe:

"Candidates typically spend a week like this—right before the critical June 30th financial reporting deadline—on the phone, day and night, begging Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs to write huge checks. Not me. Our campaign has rejected the money-for-influence game and refused to accept funds from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees".

The Center for Responsive Politics' website allows one to pull up the filings made by lobbyists registering under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 with the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and secretary of the U.S. Senate. These top five contributors to the Obama campaign have filed as registered lobbyists: Sidley Austin LLP; Skadden, Arps, et al; Jenner & Block; Kirkland & Ellis; Wilmerhale, aka Wilmer Cutler Pickering.

Is it possible that Senator Obama does not know that corporate law firms are also frequently registered lobbyists? Or is he making a distinction that because these funds are coming from the employees of these firms, he's not really taking money directly from registered lobbyists? That thesis seems disingenuous when many of these individual donors own these law firms as equity partners or shareholders and share in the profits generated from lobbying.

Far from keeping his distance from lobbyists, Senator Obama and his campaign seems to be brainstorming with them.

The political publication, The Hill, reported on December 20, 2007, that three salaried aides on the Obama campaign were registered lobbyists for dozens of corporations. (The Obama campaign said they had stopped lobbying since joining the campaign.) Bob Bauer, counsel to the Obama campaign, is an attorney with Perkins Coie. That law firm is also a registered lobbyist.

What might account for this persistent (but non-reality based) theme of distancing the Obama campaign from lobbyists? Odds are it traces back to one of the largest corporate lobbyist spending sprees in the history of Washington whose details would cast an unwholesome pall on the Obama campaign, unless our cognitive abilities are regularly bombarded with abstract vacuities of hope and change and sentimental homages to Dr. King and President Kennedy.

On February 10, 2005, Senator Obama voted in favor of the passage of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. Senators Biden, Boxer, Byrd, Clinton, Corzine, Durbin, Feingold, Kerry, Leahy, Reid and 16 other Democrats voted against it. It passed the Senate 72-26 and was signed into law on February 18, 2005.

Here is an excerpt of remarks Senator Obama made on the Senate floor on February 14, 2005, concerning the passage of this legislation:

"Every American deserves their day in court. This bill, while not perfect, gives people that day while still providing the reasonable reforms necessary to safe–guard against the most blatant abuses of the system. I also hope that the federal judiciary takes seriously their expanded role in class action litigation, and upholds their responsibility to fairly certify class actions so that they may protect our civil and consumer rights…"

Three days before Senator Obama ex–pressed that fateful yea vote, 14 state attorneys general, including Lisa Madigan of Senator Obama's home state of Illinois, filed a letter with the Senate and House, pleading to stop the passage of this corporate giveaway. The AGs wrote: "State attorneys general frequently investigate and bring actions against defendants who have caused harm to our citizens... In some instances, such actions have been brought with the attorney general acting as the class representative for the consumers of the state. We are concerned that certain provisions of S.5 might be misinterpreted to impede the ability of the attorneys general to bring such actions..."

The Senate also received a desperate plea from more than 40 civil rights and labor organizations, including the NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Justice and Democracy, Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund), and Alliance for Justice. They wrote as follows:

"Under the [Class Action Fairness Act of 2005], citizens are denied the right to use their own state courts to bring class actions against corporations that violate these state wage and hour and state civil rights laws, even where that corporation has hundreds of employees in that state. Moving these state law cases into federal court will delay and likely deny justice for working men and women and victims of discrimination. The federal courts are al–ready overburdened. Additionally, federal courts are less likely to certify classes or provide relief for violations of state law."

This legislation, which dramatically impaired labor rights, consumer rights and civil rights, involved five years of pressure from 100 corporations, 475 lobbyists, tens of millions of corporate dollars buying influence in our government, and the active participation of the Wall Street firms now funding the Obama campaign. "The Civil Justice Reform Group, a business alliance comprising general counsels from Fortune 100 firms, was instrumental in drafting the class-action bill," says Public Citizen.

One of the hardest-working registered lobbyists to push this corporate giveaway was the law firm Mayer-Brown, hired by the leading business lobby group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Chamber of Commerce spent $16 million in just 2003, lobbying the government on various business issues, including class action reform.

According to a 2003 report from Public Citizen, Mayer-Brown's class-action lobbyists included, "Mark Gitenstein, former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and a leading architect of the Senate strategy in support of class-action legislation; John Schmitz, who was deputy counsel to President George H.W. Bush; David McIntosh, former Republican congressman from Indiana; and Jeffrey Lewis, who was on the staffs of both Sen. John Breaux (D-La) and Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La)."

While not on the Center for Responsive Politics list of the top 20 contributors to the Obama presidential campaign, Mayer-Brown's partners and employees are in rarefied company, giving a total of $92,817 through December 31, 2007, to the Obama campaign. (The firm is also defending Merrill Lynch in court against charges of racial discrimination.)

Senator Obama graduated Harvard Law magna cum laude and was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. Given those credentials, one assumes that he understood the ramifications to the poor and middle class in this country as he helped to gut one of the few weapons left to seek justice against giant corporations and their legions of giant law firms. The class-action vehicle confers upon each citizen one of the most powerful rights in our society: the ability to function as a private attorney general and seek redress for wrongs inflicted on ourselves as well as for those similarly injured that might not otherwise have a voice.

Those rights should have been strengthened, not restricted, at this dangerous time in our nation's history. According to a comprehensive report from the nonprofit group, United for a Fair Economy, over the past eight years the total loss of wealth for people of color is between $164 billion and $213 billion, for subprime loans which is the greatest loss of wealth for people of color in modern history:

"According to federal data, people of color are three times more likely to have subprime loans: high-cost loans account for 55 percent of loans to blacks, but only 17 percent of loans to whites."

If there had been equitable distribution of subprime loans, losses for white people would be 44.5 percent higher and losses for people of color would be about 24 percent lower. "This is evidence of systemic prejudice and institutional racism."

Before the current crisis, based on improvements in median household net worth, it would take 594 more years for blacks to achieve parity with whites. The current crisis is likely to stretch this even further.

So, how should we react when we learn that the top contributors to the Obama campaign are the very Wall Street firms whose shady mortgage lenders buried the elderly and the poor and minority under predatory loans? How should we react when we learn that on the big donor list is Citigroup, whose former employee at CitiFinancial testified to the Federal Trade Commission that it was standard practice to target people based on race and educational level, with the sales force winning bonuses called "Rocopoly Money" (like a sick board game), after "blitz" nights of soliciting loans by phone? How should we react when we learn that these very same firms, arm in arm with their corporate lawyers and registered lobbyists, have weakened our ability to fight back with the class-action vehicle?

Should there be any doubt left as to who owns our government? The very same cast of characters making the Obama hit parade of campaign loot are the clever creators of the industry solutions to the wave of foreclosures gripping this nation's poor and middle class, effectively putting the solution in the hands of the robbers. The names of these programs (that have failed to make a dent in the problem) have the same vacuous ring: Hope Now; Project Lifeline.

Senator Obama has become the inspiration and role model to millions of children and young people in this country. He has only two paths now: to be a dream maker or a dream killer.

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no securities position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article. She writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire. She can be reached at


17) America wants an Operation in Gaza
By Shmuel Rosner
February 22, 2008

WASHINGTON - As the Second Lebanon War raged, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger paid a visit to Major General Dan Harel, who was then army attaché in Washington and is now deputy chief of staff. The war had not yet been described as a failure, nor had anyone thought about setting up the Winograd Committee. But Kissinger already had things to say, and he may not have been the only one.

Some Israelis believed that this was the way for someone in the Bush administration to express dissatisfaction with Israel's conducting of the war, by criticizing through an unofficial channel. Kissinger, who is still invited to the White House to advise the president, was a natural candidate for such a task.

The Israeli operation in Lebanon had left Kissinger unimpressed, and he made this clear to Harel. Even worse: Kissinger told him that Israel's erratic progress was undermining U.S. interests.

This was also the feeling of most senior U.S. officials after the war. Vice President Dick Cheney was particularly disappointed, since he was one of the leading proponents of American patience toward Israel, calling for time to allow it to complete its military campaign. All those, including President George Bush, who were counting on Israel to teach a definitive lesson to the extremists in the Middle East, were disappointed.

The mysterious Israeli attack in Syria last September and the assassination of Imad Mughniyah in Damascus last week may improve Israel's operational image, but will not completely restore the American confidence in its ability to complete a more ambitious campaign: occupying the Gaza Strip, crushing the military power of Hamas and restoring the Strip to the trained Palestinian forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas.

This is the only realistic scenario that may bode a better future for the Gaza Strip, and which also aligns with what is relevant to Washington: it is both realistic and meets U.S. aims, namely to avoid dialogue with Hamas and not to weaken Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by rewarding the extremists.

Anyone trying to identify the path along which Israel will proceed toward an operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip must begin by studying the war in Lebanon and the mutual disappointment: The Americans were surprised by the poor operational capabilities of Israel, and the Israelis were shocked by the diplomatic ambush they ran into in the Security Council toward the end of the war. Hopefully the lesson has been learned and Israel and the U.S. will seek to coordinate the effort in Gaza in a better, more realistic fashion.

The Americans have a major complaint about Lebanon, but Israel has an even bigger complaint about Gaza: Had Bush not allowed Abbas to hold elections in the Palestinian Authority with the participation of Hamas, the situation in Gaza would have been different. Both sides will be careful not to repeat the errors of the past. If the operation in the Gaza Strip will begin according to plan and not in a sudden response to a bloody incident, it will not happen soon.

The Americans know that change must occur in the Gaza Strip. "The status quo there, I think, cannot hold," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a congressional hearing last week.

According to the American scenario, what is first required is complete Israeli readiness for a military operation, and also for political allowances. At the Pentagon they are impressed by the way the lessons of the war are being learned by the IDF, and have also began adopting some of them. These include the reinforcement of vehicles in areas where American forces are conducting guerrilla warfare.

However, the Americans will require assurances, more so than in the past, that this will not be an operation that will commence with a promise only to end with an investigation. Like Kissinger said, it undermines American interests.

The Bush administration is wary of yet another victory by the extremists; it has never had faith in the ability of the international community to prevent such victory. Only the most naive among the senior administration officials still toy with the idea of a multinational force that will take over in the Gaza Strip. The lessons from Lebanon have also been learned on this.

What they really want is the forceful takeover of the territory by a bolstered Palestinian Authority. Senior officers of the American army are going back and forth between Washington, Ramallah and Jerusalem, in an effort to draw a picture of the reality on the ground that is more accurate than the one presented by General Keith Dayton to Congress and the Bush administration, on the eve of the fall of the Strip to Hamas.

A broad Israeli operation, with American encouragement, will be able to begin only after the forces of Abbas are trained. But by then, the Americans may have a new president.


18) Boy’s Killing, Labeled a Hate Crime, Stuns a Town
February 23, 2008

OXNARD, Calif. — Hundreds of mourners gathered at a church here on Friday to remember an eighth-grade boy who was shot to death inside a junior high school computer lab by a fellow student in what prosecutors are calling a hate crime.

In recent weeks, the victim, Lawrence King, 15, had said publicly that he was gay, classmates said, enduring harassment from a group of schoolmates, including the 14-year-old boy charged in his death.

“God knit Larry together and made him wonderfully complex,” the Rev. Dan Birchfield of Westminster Presbyterian Church told the crowd as he stood in front of a large photograph of the victim. “Larry was a masterpiece.”

The shooting stunned residents of Oxnard, a laid-back middle-class beach community just north of Malibu. It also drew a strong reaction from gay and civil rights groups.

“We’ve never had school violence like this here before, never had a school shooting,” said David Keith, a spokesman for the Oxnard Police Department.

Les Winget, 44, whose daughter Nikki, 13, attends the school, called the crime “absolutely unbelievable.”

Jay Smith, executive director of the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance, where Lawrence took part in Friday night group activities for gay teenagers, said, “We’re all shocked that this would happen here.”

The gunman, identified by the police as Brandon McInerney, “is just as much a victim as Lawrence,” said Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. “He’s a victim of homophobia and hate.”

The law center is working with Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network to push for a legislative review of anti-bias policies and outreach efforts in California schools. According to the 2005 California Healthy Kids Survey, junior high school students in the state are 3 percent more likely to be harassed in school because of sexual orientation or gender identity than those in high school.

That finding is representative of schools across the country, said Stephen Russell, a University of Arizona professor who studies the issues facing lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual youth.

Mr. Davis said “more and more kids are coming out in junior high school and expressing gender different identities at younger ages.”

“Unfortunately,” he added, “society has not matured at the same rate.”

Prosecutors charged Brandon as an adult with murder as a premeditated hate crime and gun possession. If convicted, he faces a sentence of 52 years to life in prison.

A senior deputy district attorney, Maeve Fox, would not say why the authorities added the hate crime to the murder charge.

In interviews, classmates of the two boys at E. O. Green Junior High School said Lawrence had started wearing mascara, lipstick and jewelry to school, prompting a group of male students to bully him.

“They teased him because he was different,” said Marissa Moreno, 13, also in the eighth grade. “But he wasn’t afraid to show himself.”

Lawrence wore his favorite high-heeled boots most days, riding the bus to school from Casa Pacifica, a center for abused and neglected children in the foster care system, where he began living last fall. Officials would not say anything about his family background other than that his parents, Greg and Dawn King, were living and that he had four siblings. Lawrence started attending E. O. Green last winter, said Steven Elson, the center’s chief executive. “He had made connections here,” Dr. Elson said. “It’s just a huge trauma here. It’s emotionally very charged.”

Since the shooting, hundreds of people have sent messages to a memorial Web site where photographs show Lawrence as a child with a gap in his front teeth, and older, holding a caterpillar in the palm of his hand.

“He had a character that was bubbly,” Marissa said. “We would just laugh together. He would smile, then I would smile and then we couldn’t stop.”

On the morning of Feb. 12, Lawrence was in the school’s computer lab with 24 other students, said Mr. Keith, the police spokesman. Brandon walked into the room with a gun and shot Lawrence in the head, the police said, then ran from the building. Police officers caught him a few blocks away.

Unconscious when he arrived at the hospital, Lawrence was declared brain dead the next day but kept on a ventilator to preserve his organs for donation, said the Ventura County medical examiner, Armando Chavez. He was taken off life support on Feb. 14.

Brandon is being held at a juvenile facility in Ventura on $770,000 bail, said his lawyer, Brian Vogel. He will enter a plea on March 21.

At a vigil for Lawrence last week in Ventura, 200 people carried glow sticks and candles in paper cups as they walked down a boardwalk at the beach and stood under the stars. Melissa Castillo, 13, recalled the last time she had seen Lawrence. “He was walking through the lunch room, wearing these awesome boots,” she said. “I ran over to him and said, ‘Your boots are so cute!’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I know.’ ”

She raised her chin and arched an eyebrow in imitation. “ ‘If you want cute boots,’ ” Lawrence had told her, “ ‘you have to buy the expensive kind.’ ” His boots had cost $30.

“So, for Lawrence,” Melissa said to five girls holding pink and green glow sticks, “we have to go get the expensive kind.”




World Briefing | Asia
Taiwan: Tons of Fish Wash Up on Beaches
About 45 tons of fish have washed up dead along 200 miles of beach on the outlying Penghu Islands after an unusual cold snap. News reports said 10 times as many dead fish were still in the water.
February 23, 2008

Zimbabwe: Inflation Breaks the Six-Figure Mark
World Briefing | Africa
The government’s statistics office said the inflation rate surged to a new record of 100,580 percent in January, up from 66,212 percent in December. Rangarirai Mberi, news editor of the independent Financial Gazette in Harare, said the state of the economy would feature prominently in next month’s presidential and parliamentary elections. “Numbers no longer shock people,” he said. Zimbabweans have learned to live in a hyperinflationary environment, he added, “but the question is, how long can this continue?”
February 21, 2008

Tactic Called Torture
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) — Waterboarding, an interrogation technique that has been used by the United States, qualifies as torture, the United Nations human rights chief said Friday.
February 9, 2008

Halliburton Profit Rises
HOUSTON (AP) — Halliburton, the oil field services company, said Monday that its emphasis on Middle Eastern markets had contributed to a nearly 5 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit.
The company has been adding people and equipment to the Middle East and elsewhere — even moving its top executive overseas — which it says helped Eastern Hemisphere sales grow 27 percent in the fourth quarter versus a year ago.
Halliburton said results were squeezed by higher costs and lower pricing in North America, a trend that also hindered a rival, Schlumberger, and could persist.
Net income in the fourth quarter rose to $690 million, or 75 cents a share, compared with $658 million, or 64 cents a share, in the period a year ago.
January 29, 2008

Colombia: Guerrilla Leader Is Sentenced
Ricardo Palmera, a top leader of the Marxist-inspired Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was sentenced by a federal court in Washington to 60 years in prison for taking part in the kidnapping of three American military contractors in 2003. Mr. Palmera, 57, the most senior Colombian guerrilla leader extradited to the United States, had justified the abductions as a tactic of war by the FARC, Latin America’s largest rebel group. At the courtroom where he was sentenced, Mr. Palmera, known by the nom de guerre Simón Trinidad, accused the United States of improperly intervening in Colombia’s affairs and shouted, “Long live the FARC!”
January 29, 2008
World Briefing | The Americas

Mining Agency Finds Penalties Lapse
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The federal agency that regulates the nation’s mining industry says that it has failed to issue penalties for hundreds of citations issued since 2000 and that the problem could extend back beyond 1995.
Matthew Faraci, a spokesman for the agency, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, said Sunday, “We would guess it goes back far beyond 1995, but because of a lack of electronic records before that year, I can’t verify that.”
Preliminary data showed that penalties had not been assessed against companies that received about 4,000 citations issued by the agency from January 2000 to July 2006, The Sunday Gazette-Mail of Charleston reported.
The agency’s director, Richard E. Stickler, told the newspaper that a review also showed that penalties had never been assessed for a few hundred citations issued in 1996.
The agency recently discovered the problem after it checked into whether a Kentucky coal operator had been assessed a penalty after a an accident in 2005 in which a miner bled to death after not receiving proper first aid.
January 28, 2008

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!




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


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

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




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


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

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

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

—MALCOLM X, 1965


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


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


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


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


Which country should we invade next?


My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup


Michael Moore- The Awful Truth


Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments


Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


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


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


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


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


FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein


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


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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays!

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

(scroll down when you get there])

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