Saturday, April 12, 2008



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

Sunday, April 13, 2008, 7 pm

Brava Theater
2781 24th Street
San Francisco, CA

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

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

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

For info: (510) 465-9914


Help Save Troy Davis

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

The message:

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your kind consideration."

Messages will be sent to:

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

Telephone: (404) 657-9350
Fax: (404) 651-8502

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



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

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

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

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

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

View endorsers from around the country (list in formation) at:






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

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



~ Please circulate this urgent update widely ~

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

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


Save the National Mall as a place of protest!

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

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

We need you to take action right now:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


More links

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

Washington Post article: The Battle to Remold the Mall

Alternet article: National Mall Redesign Could Seriously Restrict Free Speech


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

If this message was forwared to you and you'd like to receive future ANSWER updates, click here:


Student Walkout Portland Oregon 3/20/08


The Sand Creek Massacre (6 MINUTES)


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

Lincoln Cushing



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


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

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


Port Workers' May Day Organizing Committee


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

President Sweeney,

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

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

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

In solidarity,

Robert McEllrath
ILWU International President


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Dear Comrade,

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your support!

Local Nakba Committee Coordinator

Please make your tax-deductible donation, payable to 'Palestine Right to Return Coalition' or 'PRRC/Palestine Solidarity Concert'

Mail to:

Local Nakba Committee (LNC)
PO Box #668
2425 Channing Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

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

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

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

For more information about, the Palestine Right of Return Coalition, see:

For regular concert updates see our website at:

You can donate online at the Facebook Cause 'Nakba-60, Palestine Solidarity Concert' at:

List of confirmed artists:

Dam, featuring Abeer, aka 'Sabreena da Witch'–Palestinian Hip-Hop crew from Lid (1948, Palestine).

Dead Prez

Fred Wreck–DJ/Producer, for artists Snoop Dogg, Hilary Duff,
Brittany Spears and other celebs.

Ras Ceylon –Sri Lankan Revolution Hip Hop

Arab Summit:
Narcicyst - with Iraqi-Canadian Hip Hop group Euphrates
Excentrik- Palestinian Producer/Composer/MC
Omar Offendun- with Syrian/Sudani Hip Hop group The N.o.m.a.d.s
Ragtop- with Palestinian/Filipino group The Philistines
Scribe Project – Palestinian/Mexican Hip Hop/Soul Band

Additional artists still pending confirmation.

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

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

Points of Unity for Concert Sponsorship

An end to all US political, military and economic aid to Israel.

The divestment of all public and private entities from all Israeli corporations and American corporations with subsidiaries operating within Israel.

An end to the investment of Labor Union members' pension funds in Israel.
The boycott of all Israeli products.

The right to return for all Palestinian refugees to their original towns, villages and lands with compensation for damages inflicted on their property and lives.

The right for all Palestinian refugees to full restitution of all confiscated and destroyed property.

The formation of an independent, democratic state for its citizens in all of Palestine.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


Organizational endorsements welcome. Please write to us at convention6@

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.


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:


Center for Labor Renewal Statement and Call for the Elimination of Two-Tier Workplaces

On Saturday, January 26, 2008, over 80 U.S. and Canadian auto industry worker/activists met in Flint, Michigan, birthplace of militant unionism in the Auto Industry in the late 1903s. The agenda was how to measure and respond to the crippling impact of the 2007 auto industry collective bargaining agreements. The daylong discussions led to the issuance of the following Statement and Call for a:

Campaign to oppose two-tier wages

The United States has never been an equal opportunity society. During periods of intense collective struggle workers made economic gains, but sustained progress in equity distribution has not been achieved. Capital’s effort to exploit labor is never put on hold for long. Over the past 30 years corporate America, often supported by government, has engaged in an all-out assault on working people. That relentless campaign has increased and extended social inequality to levels many had not thought possible without triggering a concerted rebellion from the ranks of labor. Such an upsurge of resistance has not yet coalesced but there are indications that worker anger and disillusionment is rising.

Corporate aggression, particularly in historically well-organized, higher wage industries is increasingly tied to capital’s global restructuring agenda, which is capitalizing on the low standard of living prevalent in impoverished countries and regions around the world. The rising demand for U.S. worker concessions in such sectors as auto, metalwork, electronics, communications, etc. is part of that restructuring process and, unchallenged, sweeps all workers into a downward spiral of wage and working conditions. Employer claims that competition necessitates wage and benefit reductions in order to save jobs has become the weapon of choice. Workers are told they have to choose between massive reductions for future generations of workers or no job at all.

That this is happening in the most heavily unionized industries reveals the effectiveness of the corporate strategy to both disarm and attract many union leaders and some portion of the base to accept the proposition that pursuing their agenda of “competitiveness” is in our mutual interest. The U.S. labor leadership has not put forward any meaningful alternatives to global corporate restructuring. Embracing the companies’ “competitiveness” agenda is a flawed, if not fatal strategy.

The corporations are demanding, and the unions are accepting, permanent two-tier wage schemes whereby new hires work side by side with workers earning substantially higher wages for the same tasks. This new, generalized wage retreat comes after years of unresolved wage inequities that have disproportionately affected women and workers of color in U.S. workplaces. The introduction of both two-tier and “permanent temporary” workers in auto plants adds more layers of blatant discrimination. We must continue to fight against all forms of discrimination in two-tier wage structures, whether directed at workers of color or women, or now “the new hire” and the defenseless temp workers.

Our acceptance makes us an accessory to corporate divide and conquer schemes

Allowing the employers to expand inequality, rather then resolve it fosters additional resentment among workers and recklessly severs solidarity between generations. Two-tier wage agreements and the use of permanent temporary workers make the union partners in the business of exploiting workers.

Big Three auto contracts institutionalize second-class workers

In the 2007 Big Three auto negotiations the UAW, a once powerful wage and benefits pacesetter, agreed to a radically reduced two-tier wage and benefit package. The Big Three auto agreement cuts wages for new workers by up to 50 percent (67 percent if you include benefits) for doing the same work as current workers. The need to help the companies be more “competitive” to insure “job security” was the advertised selling point. The 25-year history of concession bargaining in auto has not stopped the massive decline in the ranks of the Big Three from 750,000 in 1979 when the concession era began to 170,000 today. Yet contract after contract during that period were heralded as “historic job security” agreements.

In 200 the UAW negotiated a Supplemental Two-Tier Wage Agreement for new hires at Delphi Corporation, a former GM Parts division, which had been “spun-off” as an independent parts supplier in 1999. Members of one UAW-Delphi Local, Local 2151 voted to appeal the International Union’s decision not to permit the thousands of Delphi union members to vote on the Supplemental Two-Tier Agreement, which affected them. In defense of their decision to evade ratification the UAW International Executive Board argued that the “future hire group is a null class.”

The segregation of future union members into a “null class” is a ruthless act of discrimination against an entire generation, and another example of the failure of competitiveness to secure jobs. Delphi subsequently used bankruptcy as a strategy to further restructure and destroy jobs and incomes. Within four years 27,000 out of 33,000 union members were eliminated at Delphi and the remaining workers were brought down to the lower wage and benefit scale.
Wage costs are not the problem

Wages and benefits of assembly workers account for less than 10 percent of the cost of a car and differentials between companies are not significant, especially since GM, Ford, and Chrysler’s competitors are primarily building cars inside the U.S. Furthermore, productivity in the auto industry has been rising rapidly: real output per worker has more than doubled since 1987. Even the Harbour-Felax Report—which analysts consider the industry bible on productivity—has acknowledged that: the Big Three has now largely eliminated the productivity gap with Japanese manufacturers.

In a globally restructured auto industry, it was inevitable that the Big Three would not sustain their monopoly control of the domestic market. Their arrogance toward foreign producers is only matched by their greed and arrogance toward consumers. This resulted in decades of marketing second rate, unimaginative, and shoddily engineered products at the same time union workers were making concessions allegedly to help them be more competitive. Yet, coming on the heels of the Delphi bankruptcy, the 2007 negotiations were pitched as if the sacrifices of workers was the only thing that could help the domestic auto manufacturers out of the “competitiveness” hole they’d dug themselves into. Making workers pay for the bosses’ mistakes is as much a national pastime as baseball.

The new-hire wage rates in UAW contracts with the Big Three automakers are now set below the average industrial wage in the U.S. which is already below that of other major developed countries. The competitive spiral will accelerate as foreign transplants are relieved of the pressure to match union wages. The failure to protect wages, benefits, and working conditions means that it will be even more difficult for the UAW to organize new workers. Yet the real answer to the “competitiveness” question lies in organizing the workers employed by the anti-union foreign owned producers and taking wages, benefits, and working conditions out of competition through solidarity-unionism.

For Canadian Auto Workers whose collective agreements with the same Big Three companies expire in September of 2008, the reduced new worker hire rate and permanent two-tier precedents set in the U.S. will represent a huge challenge. CAW members have traditionally resisted the concession patterns of their neighbors to the South; their continued resistance in their negotiations this Fall would be reinforced by a rising tide of opposition from U.S. auto workers to slashing wages and attacks on worker dignity.

The Japanese companies have already introduced the two-tier half-wage system in Japan. The threat of unionization had, until now, blocked their trying it here. But with the implementation of two-tier in the Big Three plants, they can now do the same in this country. Net result: no shift in relative competitiveness, but a destructive further lowering of wages for all auto industry workers.

Furthermore, now that the new hire wage rate is set below the industry average for the Big Three, workers in the auto parts supply industry will be confronted with a stark choice: accept lower wages or their jobs will be outsourced, or more correctly “re-insourced,” to the big auto companies at the radically reduced new lower tier wages. Once again the net result is zero security for workers and a further collapse in living standards. As part and parcel of the concessions mentality, the auto union failed to pursue its own longstanding demand for single-payer national healthcare (for all). Instead, they agreed to relieve Big Three automakers of billions of dollars in legacy costs for retiree healthcare protection by accepting responsibility for future coverage through an under-funded Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association, or VEBA.

The UAW is not the only union that has bargained away equality within the workforce. This trend is the deathwatch for the labor movement in our era. Union collaboration in wage discrimination for the sake of competitiveness is the counsel of despair. The future of active and retired workers is inextricably bound with the future of new workers. The segregation of future union members into a “null class” is an invitation for “payback” at some future time. If new hires are treated as a “null class,” one day they will in turn classify senior workers and retirees as a “null class.” There is no seniority date for dignity and should be no retirement from solidarity.

The corporate blitzkrieg on working people is subsidized with tax abatements while health, education, and social programs are slashed to the bone. The parrots of the status quo insist there is no alternative to an economic system that degrades workers, deprives the unfortunate of health care, undermines the security of the elderly, and desecrates the environment. It’s a lie. The degradation of the working class is chronic and contagious. We need strategic collective action with allies here and around the world.

History suggests that UAW members would have followed the lead of a progressive leadership to militantly resist the destruction of wage parity and other hard won gains in the workplace. But nearly 30 years of concession bargaining and yielding to the “logic of the competitiveness agenda” produced an opposite result.

Workers throughout all employment sectors face this same assault on wages, benefits, and working conditions in one form or another. It is time for all workers to reject the false logic of corporate competitiveness and reinvigorate the logic of solidarity.

Today, we stand at the crossroad knowing full well where both roads lead. One road leads to division, despair, and social isolation, and the other road points to hope, solidarity, and the dignity of collective struggle.
Call for national campaign

In conjunction with the Center for Labor Renewal, participants at the Flint, January 26, 2008 meeting issue the following Call:

In the face of the continuing assault on worker wages, benefits, and the quality of work life where rising economic injustice is destroying the stability and hopes of an increasing numbers of workers and their families, here and around the world; and where inequality and income discrimination are celebrated by a protected few at the desperate expense of so many others; we call on all workers of conscience everywhere to join a campaign to bring our collective strength and renewed solidarity to the struggle against the agenda of social devaluation and despair.

Workers in the auto industry have a critical role to play in this campaign given the destructive events in that industry which now, more than ever, seeks to validate the pitting of workers against workers, and communities against communities, and the glorification of the false dog-eat-dog, workplace agenda of the corporations today. In that world its “winner-take-all,” and the winner has been pre-determined. We call on all auto workers to reject all forms of wage discrimination and renew the fight for industrial democracy through worker solidarity, and to:

• Build within our workplaces, a movement against two-tier wages, and a renewal of solidarity unionism by means of varied communications vehicles including the internet; web sites; newsletters and plant gate handbills, etc.

• Promote crosscurrents of opposition against the creation of second-class workers in all workplaces.

• Where a two-tier system is in place, concretely demonstrate to the new workers that there is a strong base of resistance against the discrimination they face, and that we all need to remember the lesson that “an injury to one, is an injury to all.”

• Within the Big Three, or any auto workplaces, target the rejection of future agreements (2011 in the Big Three ) if they do not reverse the two-tier system.

• Promote internal democracy to encourage the inclusion and participation of the second tier workers alongside the entire rank and file to change the concessionary path followed by the current leadership.

Such a campaign will need mechanisms to facilitate links, exchange information, and assist in the coordination of future actions. Coming out of a meeting organized by the Center for Labor Renewal (CLR) of 80 activists in Flint, Michigan, the CLR commits to:

• Collect and develop material for building the necessary base in the workplace and its electronic dissemination. Assist in the development and proliferation of additional vehicles of communication.

• Develop an information clearinghouse to gather and disseminate reports and updates on local struggles and developments.

• Support regional forums to assist activists in developing the arguments and organizational capacities to build the solidarity program at the base

• Facilitate national meetings through which local activists can assess the campaign and collectively strategize on further events and actions.

• Promote the development of the analytical tools required by union activists to successfully integrate this campaign with a workers’ struggle that is increasingly global in dimension.

This fight is winnable. The U.S. working class needs a victory and it needs this victory in particular. The one-sided class war against workers has gone on far too long. The defeat of the two tier system is a crucial step in the struggle to address broader inequalities in our society. It’s time to draw the line.

—Center for Labor Renewal/

—Future of the Union/

—Factory Rat/

—Soldiers of Solidarity



For 35 years, Jim Crow justice in Louisiana has kept Herman Wallace
and Albert Woodfox locked in solitary confinement for a crime
everyone knows they didn't commit.

Despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence, the "Angola 3",
spend 23 hours each day in a 6x9 cell on the site of a former
plantation. Prison officials - and the state officials who could
intervene - won't end the terrible sentence. They've locked them up
and thrown away the key because they challenged a system that deals an
uneven hand based on the color of one's skin and tortures those who
assert their humanity.

We can help turn things around by making it a political liability for
the authorities at Angola to continue the racist status quo, and by
forcing federal and state authorities to intervene. I've signed on
with to demand an investigation into this clear case
of unequal justice. Will you join us?

When spoke up about the Jena 6, it was about more
than helping six Black youth in a small town called Jena. It was about
standing up against a system of unequal justice that deals an uneven
hand based on the color of one's skin. That broken system is at work
again and is joining The Innocence Project and
Amnesty International to challenge it in the case of the Angola 3.

"Angola", sits on 18,000 acres of former plantation land in Louisiana
and is estimated to be one of the largest prisons in the United
States. Angola's history is telling: once considered one of the most
violent, racially segregated prison in America, almost a prisoner a
day was stabbed, shot or raped. Prisoners were often put in inhumane
extreme punishment camps for small infractions. The Angola 3 -
Herman, Albert and Robert - organized hunger and work strikes within
the prison in the 70's to protest continued segregation, corruption
and horrific abuse facing the largely Black prisoner population.

Shortly after they spoke out, the Angola 3 were convicted of murdering
a prison guard by an all-white jury. It is now clear that these men
were framed to silence their peaceful revolt against inhumane
treatment. Since then, they have spent every day for 35 years in 6x9
foot cells for a crime they didn't commit.

Herman and Albert are not saints. They are the first to admit they've
committed crimes. But, everyone agrees that their debts to society
for various robbery convictions were paid long ago.

NBC News/Dateline just aired a piece this week about the plight of the
Angola 3. And it's time to finally get some justice for Herman and
Albert. For far too long, court officials have stalled and refused to
review their cases. Evidence of prosecutorial misconduct and
constitutional violations have not swayed them.

It's now time for the Governor of Louisiana and the United States
Congress, which provides the funding for federal prisons like Angola,
to step in and say enough is enough. Please join us in calling for
Governor Bobby Jindal and your Congressperson to initiate an immediate
and full investigation into the case of the Angola 3.



[The catch is, that while it's true that the landlord can increase rents to whatever he or she wants once a property becomes vacant, the current rent-control law now ensures that the new tenants are still under rent-control for their, albeit higher, rent. Under the new law, there simply will be no rent control when the new tenant moves in so their much higher rent-rate can increase as much as the landlord chooses each year from then on!!! So, no more rent-control at all!!! Tricky, huh?...BW]


"- Government may not set the price at which property owners sell or lease their property.

The provisions of this Act shall become effective on the day following the election ("effective date"); except that any statute, charter provision, ordinance, or regulation by a public agency enacted prior to January 1, 2007, that limits the price a rental property owner may charge a tenant to occupy a residential rental unit ("unit") or mobile home space ("space") may remain in effect as to such unit or space after the effective date for so long as, but only so long as, at least one of the tenants of such unit or space as of the effective date ("qualified tenant") continues to live in such unit or space as his or her principal place of residence. At such time as a unit or space no longer is used by any qualified tenant as his or her principal place of residence because, as to such unit or space, he or she has: (a) voluntarily vacated; (b) assigned, sublet, sold or transferred his or her tenancy rights either voluntarily or by court order; (c) abandoned; (d) died; or he or she has (e) been evicted pursuant to paragraph (2), (3), (4) or (5) of Section 1161 of the Code of Civil Procedure or Section 798.56 of the Civil Code as in effect on January 1, 2007; then, and in such event, the provisions of this Act shall be effective immediately as to such unit or space."


Gaza's lost childhood - 23 March 08

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

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

Tent Cities, USA




1) The World Food Crisis
April 10, 2008

2) Afghans Hold Secret Trials for Men That U.S. Detained
April 10, 2008

3) In Rare Miss, G.E. Profit Falls Short
April 11, 2008

4) Israeli Incursion in Gaza Kills 5
April 12, 2008

5) Mumia Abu-Jamal Legal Update
Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
April 11, 2008

6) U.S. Lawmakers Invested in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars
By Abid Aslam
April 12, 2008

7) Losing Our Will
Op-Ed Columnist
April 12, 2008

8) Fewer Options Open to Pay for Costs of College
April 12, 2008

9) Legal Immigrants, Until They Applied for Citizenship
April 12, 2008

10) About New York
Less Crime: No Reason to Shut Prisons
April 12, 2008

11) G.E. Earnings Drop, Raising Broader Fears
April 12, 2008

12) Off The Charts
Many More Are Jobless Than Are Unemployed
April 12, 2008


1) The World Food Crisis
April 10, 2008

Most Americans take food for granted. Even the poorest fifth of households in the United States spend only 16 percent of their budget on food. In many other countries, it is less of a given. Nigerian families spend 73 percent of their budgets to eat, Vietnamese 65 percent, Indonesians half. They are in trouble.

Last year, the food import bill of developing countries rose by 25 percent as food prices rose to levels not seen in a generation. Corn doubled in price over the last two years. Wheat reached its highest price in 28 years. The increases are already sparking unrest from Haiti to Egypt. Many countries have imposed price controls on food or taxes on agricultural exports.

Last week, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, warned that 33 nations are at risk of social unrest because of the rising prices of food. “For countries where food comprises from half to three-quarters of consumption, there is no margin for survival,” he said.

Prices are unlikely to drop soon. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says world cereal stocks this year will be the lowest since 1982.

The United States and other developed countries need to step up to the plate. The rise in food prices is partly because of uncontrollable forces — including rising energy costs and the growth of the middle class in China and India. This has increased demand for animal protein, which requires large amounts of grain.

But the rich world is exacerbating these effects by supporting the production of biofuels. The International Monetary Fund estimates that corn ethanol production in the United States accounted for at least half the rise in world corn demand in each of the past three years. This elevated corn prices. Feed prices rose. So did prices of other crops — mainly soybeans — as farmers switched their fields to corn, according to the Agriculture Department.

Washington provides a subsidy of 51 cents a gallon to ethanol blenders and slaps a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on imports. In the European Union, most countries exempt biofuels from some gas taxes and slap an average tariff equal to more than 70 cents a gallon of imported ethanol. There are several reasons to put an end to these interventions. At best, corn ethanol delivers only a small reduction in greenhouse gases compared with gasoline. And it could make things far worse if it leads to more farming in forests and grasslands. Rising food prices provide an urgent argument to nix ethanol’s supports.

Over the long term, agricultural productivity must increase in the developing world. Mr. Zoellick suggested rich countries could help finance a “green revolution” to increase farm productivity and raise crop yields in Africa. But the rise in food prices calls for developed nations to provide more immediate assistance. Last month, the World Food Program said rising grain costs blew a hole of more than $500 million in its budget for helping millions of victims of hunger around the world.

Industrial nations are not generous, unfortunately. Overseas aid by rich countries fell 8.4 percent last year from 2006. Developed nations would have to increase their aid budgets by 35 percent over the next three years just to meet the commitments they made in 2005.

They must not let this target slip. Continued growth of the middle class in China and India, the push for renewable fuels and anticipated damage to agricultural production caused by global warming mean that food prices are likely to stay high. Millions of people, mainly in developing countries, could need aid to avoid malnutrition. Rich countries’ energy policies helped create the problem. Now those countries should help solve it.


2) Afghans Hold Secret Trials for Men That U.S. Detained
April 10, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — Dozens of Afghan men who were previously held by the United States at Bagram Air Base and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, are now being tried here in secretive Afghan criminal proceedings based mainly on allegations forwarded by the American military.

The prisoners are being convicted and sentenced to as much as 20 years’ confinement in trials that typically run between half an hour and an hour, said human rights investigators who have observed them. One early trial was reported to have lasted barely 10 minutes, an investigator said.

The prosecutions are based in part on a security law promulgated in 1987, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Witnesses do not appear in court and cannot be cross-examined. There are no sworn statements of their testimony.

Instead, the trials appear to be based almost entirely on terse summaries of allegations that are forwarded to the Afghan authorities by the United States military. Afghan security agents add what evidence they can, but the cases generally center on events that sometimes occurred years ago in war zones that the authorities may now be unable to reach.

“These are no-witness paper trials that deny the defendants a fundamental fair-trial right to challenge the evidence and mount a defense,” said Sahr MuhammedAlly, a lawyer for the advocacy group Human Rights First who has studied the proceedings. “So any convictions you get are fundamentally flawed.”

The head of Afghanistan’s national intelligence agency, Amrullah Saleh, said his investigators did their best to develop their own evidence. But he added that the Afghan judicial system remained crippled by problems more than six years after the fall of the Taliban.

“This is Afghanistan,” he said. Referring to the Afghan trials, he added, “I am equally critical of that procedure, but who is supposed to fix it?”

Since 2002 the Bush administration has pressed foreign governments to prosecute the Guantánamo prisoners from their countries as a condition of the men’s repatriation. But many of those governments — including such close American allies as Britain — have objected, saying the American evidence would not hold up in their courts.

Afghanistan represents perhaps the most notable exception.

Although President Hamid Karzai refused to sign a decree law drafted with American help that would have allowed Afghanistan to hold the former detainees indefinitely as “enemy combatants,” the Afghan authorities have now tried 82 of the former prisoners since last October and referred more than 120 other cases for prosecution.

Of the prisoners who have been through the makeshift Afghan court, 65 have been convicted and 17 acquitted, according to a report on the prosecutions by Human Rights First that is to be made public on Thursday. A draft copy of the report was provided to The New York Times.

United States officials defended their role in providing information for the Afghan trials as a legitimate way to try to contain the threats that some of the more dangerous detainees would pose if they were released outright.

“These are not prosecutions that are being done at the request or behest of the United States government,” said Sandra L. Hodgkinson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detention policy. “These are prosecutions that are being done by Afghans for crimes committed on their territory by their nationals.”

Ms. Hodgkinson said the United States had pressed the Afghan authorities “to conduct the trials in a fair manner,” and had insisted that lawyers be provided for the prisoners after the first 10 of them were convicted without legal representation. But she did not directly reject the criticisms raised in the Human Rights First report, adding, “These trials are much more consistent with the traditional Afghan justice process than they are with ours.”

The new court is located on the ground floor of a new high-security Afghan prison that was built by the United States at Pul-i-Charki, on the outskirts of Kabul.

Although Afghan officials say the trials there are not officially secret, they have allowed only three outside observers — two human rights investigators and a representative of a local United Nations office. The human rights investigators were permitted to see two trials in February, review some trial documents and interview judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers for the court.

Gen. Safiullah Safi, the Afghan Army officer who runs the prison where the trials are being held, told a reporter that permission to view the trials could be granted only by Mr. Karzai’s office. But that office referred the request to Abdul Jabar Sabit, the Afghan attorney general. Mr. Sabit’s office finally said he was too busy to meet with a journalist.

The human rights investigators who observed the operations of the new court described them as a perversion of the efforts by Afghanistan and the United States to rebuild and reform the Afghan judicial system after years of war, corruption and neglect.

They said that the defense lawyers, who work for a legal aid organization based in New York, typically meet their clients five days before their trials begin and have few resources to investigate the distant events on which they turn. At least some of the Afghan judges also appear to accept the American allegations at face value, they said, and routinely admit allegations that would not pass the evidentiary standards of special military tribunals at Guantánamo, much less the federal courts of the United States.

“The files provided by U.S. authorities and the information in them would never have been admissible in a U.S. court or even a military commission in Guantánamo,” said Jonathan Horowitz, an investigator for One World Research, a public-interest investigations firm in New York that also monitored the Afghan trials.

In an interview, one of the justices of the Afghan Supreme Court argued that while the trials might have some flaws, they represented a fair process.

“All of these trials have been prepared by our friends from the United States,” said the justice, who uses the single name Rashid. “They have seen it themselves. We don’t have any doubts about the trial not being fair.”

Justice Rashid added that he had complete confidence in the accuracy of the information that was being provided to Afghan investigators by the American military.

“I’m 100 percent sure that what was done by the United States was done according to the legal system of the United States,” he said. “And I am familiar with the legal system of the United States.”

But one case file that was partly reproduced in the Human Rights First report underscores questions that have been raised about the procedures of the Afghan trials and the American evidence with which they begin.

In a single paragraph, the United States “Report of Investigation” recounts that the Afghan prisoner Rais Mohammed Khan was detained by the police as he and a friend tried to cross the Afghan border in the eastern department of Khost on May 1, 2006. The report, which misidentifies Mr. Khan by a name his father used, Matelky, notes that he and his injured friend were suspected of having planned a suicide bombing that went awry.

“Their stories are conflicting, and the Khost Police Force believe they are directly tied to suicide attacks that were taking place during the Independence Day Parade in Khost,” the report reads. It notes that Mr. Khan appeared to lie on a polygraph examination when he denied involvement in suicide bombing. But it adds:

“Confessions/Admissions/Incriminating Statements: None”

“Witnesses: None”

“Physical Evidence: None”

“Photographs: None”

Also in his Afghan court file was a one-page summary of the recommendation from the United States military panel that reviewed his case at Bagram. It describes him as a low threat to American and coalition forces and him as “low prosecution value.”

He was convicted under the 1987 Afghan security law and sentenced to eight years in prison.

David Rohde reported from Kabul, and Tim Golden from New York.


3) In Rare Miss, G.E. Profit Falls Short
April 11, 2008

General Electric reported a 5.8 percent decline in first-quarter profit on Friday, falling far short of expectations and stunning investors who consider the company one of the nation’s most reliable earners.

The unexpected decline, from a company known for rarely missing its estimates, will probably further erode confidence in the economy’s ability to rebound from the current financial crisis.

Investors took the report as a sign that some of the credit problems continued to linger.

The Dow Jones industrial average, which includes G.E., fell more than 200 points in early afternoon trading. G.E. shares fell $4.44, to $32.31, but the market losses were broad-based: the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was down about 1.6 percent, and the Nasdaq composite index also lost about 2.1 percent.

Also contributing to the decline was a report showing that consumer confidence was at a 26-year low. Bond prices rose as some investors looked for safety.

G.E.’s losses came primarily from the company’s financial services division, popular with consumers and small businesses, which was buffeted by recent economic shocks.

“We failed to meet our expectations,” Jeffrey R. Immelt, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We knew the first quarter was going to be challenging, but the extraordinary disruption in the capital markets in March affected our ability to complete asset sales.”

The company reported net income of $4.3 billion for the quarter, or 43 cents a share, down from $4.57 billion, or 44 cents a share, in the period a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting about 51 cents a share in net earnings, and the company had projected earnings of 50 to 53 cents a share.

G.E. also sharply lowered its full-year earnings forecast; the company now predicts little to no growth for all of 2008.

As he fielded questions from disgruntled analysts on a conference call Friday morning, Mr. Immelt insisted that “the core business remains solid.” But he acknowledged that recent financial developments, including the collapse of Bear Stearns, took a severe toll. Earnings at the company’s financial services operation plummeted 19 percent for the quarter.

Mr. Immelt said he regretted the poor performance. “We hate missing our numbers,” he said.


4) Israeli Incursion in Gaza Kills 5
April 12, 2008

JERUSALEM — At least five Palestinians were killed by Israeli tank and gun fire in central Gaza on Friday, two of them boys ages 12 and 13, local Palestinian hospital officials said.

Also Friday, United Nations officials said that most of the roadblocks recently removed by Israel in the West Bank, in line with promises made to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, were of minimal or no significance to Palestinians in terms of improving their ability to move around.

Israeli forces entered the area east of the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza in the early hours of Friday morning. The military said the goal of the operation was “to harm the terrorist infrastructure” and to distance Palestinian militants from the border fence.

An Israeli Army spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity under army rules, said that the soldiers came under heavy mortar and sniper fire and clashed with local gunmen. She said she had no information about the youths having been killed, but that if children were in the area of the clashes, they would have been at risk.

A medical official at the Aksa Martyrs’ Hospital in central Gaza said that 18 civilians and 2 fighters were among the wounded.

Earlier Friday, two Hamas militants were killed in a pre-dawn Israeli air strike in southern Gaza, the Islamic group said.

The Israeli incursion came after militants from Gaza broke through the fence on Wednesday and attacked the Nahal Oz fuel depot, the transfer point from which all fuel is piped from Israel into Gaza. Two Israeli civilians employed by the energy company that supplies the fuel were killed in the attack. Fuel deliveries into Gaza were temporarily halted as a result, but are expected to resume after the weekend.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for the attack, since it controls Gaza, although three smaller groups claimed joint responsibility. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a gathering of his supporters on Thursday that Hamas “will not be able to continue to act against Israel’s citizens as it acts today.” He refused to elaborate on the cryptic threat but added that, “the State of Israel will stand behind the things that I said.”

Regarding the removal of roadblocks in the West Bank, the United States government announced in late March that Israel had agreed to remove about 50 physical obstacles as Ms. Rice wound up another visit to the region as part of her attempt to spur on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which closely tracks movement and access for Palestinians, said that Israel said it had removed 61 obstacles in early April, out of more than 500 that dot the West Bank.

Of those, the United Nations agency said, 9 removals had a “minimal effect,” meaning that access had opened up for a very limited number of individuals, such as one family, to a small piece of land; 17 were earth mounds whose removal had “no significance,” either because they were in a closed military area that Palestinians were unable to enter or because an alternative route was available nearby; and 13 were removed in “questionable circumstances,” with local Palestinians saying the obstacles had been put up immediately before being removed.

The agency’s analysis was based on field work, according to information provided by the Israelis. At 11 of the sites, the agency said, there was no evidence of an earth mound or of its removal. Field workers identified only 5 obstacles from the agency’s own maps that had been removed, and 5 more that had been removed and then put back. They also identified one new obstacle in the course of their work.

The Americans and Palestinians are eager for Israel to ease restrictions on movement in the West Bank to improve Palestinian economic and living conditions. Israel is reluctant to make any dramatic changes, saying that the army roadblocks and checkpoints are essential for preventing attacks on its citizens. Ms Rice said in March that the United States wanted to be “more systematic” than in the past in monitoring and verifying improvements promised by the Israelis and Palestinians on the ground.

Asked about the United Nations findings, Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, a spokeswoman for the United States Consulate in Jerusalem, said, “The United States government is continuing to examine the situation on the ground and to consult with both parties.”

Israeli officials were not immediately available for comment.

Taghreed El-Khodary contributed reporting from Gaza.


5) Mumia Abu-Jamal Legal Update
Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
April 11, 2008

Dear Friends:

This Legal Update is made on behalf of my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who remains on Pennsylvania‚s death row. Many people have inquired as to our reaction and position concerning recent legal developments, and what will happen now. This should answer many of those questions and alleviate some of the confusion.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia As widely reported in the media, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued its long-awaited decision on March 27, 2008. (Abu-Jamal v. Horn, Nos. 01-9014, 02-9001, 2008 WL 793877 (3rd Cir. 2008).) Mumia and I had legal conferences that day, and we have been in frequent contact since including a death-row meeting earlier this week and a discussion this evening. We view the opinion of the three-judge panel as a mixed bag with some good, some very wrong, and a remarkable dissenting opinion by a judge on racism that gives us great hope for eventual victory.

A new jury trial has been ordered by the federal court on the question of whether Mumia should be sentenced to life or death, due to the trial judge‚s unconstitutional and misleading instructions to the jury. It is a positive step in any capital case when a court finds that the death penalty was wrongfully imposed. Mumia is pleased with this part of the ruling because it could help others on death rows across the U.S. The prosecution now has various options including seeking reconsideration by the federal court and petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to have the death sentence remain intact.

It was a great disappointment that the federal court rejected our quest for a reversal of the conviction and a new trial on the question of guilt and innocence. To say that Mumia and I are unhappy with this would be an understatement, for the decision flies in the face of the United States Constitution and case precedent. The facts are that the prosecutor did engage in racism during jury selection, and made a false and misleading argument to the jury which turned the concept of reasonable doubt and presumption of innocence on its head. The trial judge was biased and bigoted, even stating in reference to my client that he was „going to help'em fry the nigger.‰ Unfortunately the court used against Mumia the failings of the lawyers who represented him in state post-conviction and federal habeas corpus proceedings. Their mistakes should not serve as an excuse to rationalize away the fundamental constitutional violations that occurred in this case.

The silver lining of this ruling is that Judge Thomas L. Ambro wrote a 41-page dissent on the racism-in-jury-selection issue. This brilliant opinion began:

Excluding even a single person from a jury because of race violates the Equal Protection Clause of our Constitution. See Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 84-86, 99 n. 22, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986). This simple justice principle was reaffirmed by our Supreme Court this past week. Snyder v. Louisiana, No. 06-10119, 2008 WL 723750, at *4 (Mar. 19, 2008).

Justice Ambro concluded that everyone

is entitled to a fair and impartial trial by a jury of his or her peers. As Batson reminds us, „[t]he core guarantee of equal protection, ensuring citizens that their State will not discriminate on account of race, would be meaningless were we to approve the exclusion of jurors on the basis of . . . race.‰ Id. at 97-98. I fear today that we weaken the effect of Batson by imposing a contemporaneous objection requirement where none was previously present in our Court's jurisprudence and by raising the low bar for a prima facie case of discrimination in jury selection to a height unattainable if enough time has passed such that original jury records are not available. In so holding, we do a disservice to Batson. I respectfully dissent.

Shortly before the decision, we brought the Snyder decision to the attention of the federal court in a Notice of Supplemental Authority. I wrote on March 23, 2008:

In Snyder v. Louisiana, ___ U.S. ___, 2008 WL 723750 (Mar. 19, 2008), the judgment of the Louisiana Supreme Court was reversed with the United States Supreme Court holding that the trial court should have disallowed a peremptory challenge based upon race because it violated Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). Justice Alito, in writing for the majority, reaffirmed that evidence of discriminatory intent should be taken from a broad array of factors. Citing Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231, 239 (2005), he pointed out that „in considering a Batson objection, or in reviewing a ruling claimed to be Batson error, all of the circumstances that bear upon the issue of racial animosity must be consulted . . .‰ Snyder underscores the point made by Appellee and Cross-Appellant, Mr. Abu-Jamal, urged in oral argument on May 17, 2007, and in briefing, that the existence of a prima facie Batson claim depends upon, inter alia, the connection between race and the pattern of strikes, the nature of the case, comments made during jury selection, and the time and place of the trial. Brief of Appellee and Cross-Appellant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, July 26, 2006, at 17-46; Fourth-Step Reply Brief of Appellee and Cross-Appellant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oct. 23, 2006, at 11-58.

The high court also reiterated that „the Constitution forbids striking even a single prospective juror for a discriminatory purpose.‰ Snyder v. Louisiana, 2008 WL 723750 at *4 (quoting United States v. Vasquez-Lopez, 22 F.3d 900, 902 (C.A.9 1994)). This too was pointed out in oral argument and briefing. Brief of Appellee and Cross-Appellant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, supra, at 41-42. Finally, the case recognized that an "inference of discriminatory intent" is supported when the prosecution's proffered reasons for striking African Americans do not apply even-handedly to non-African Americans. Snyder v. Louisiana, 2008 WL 723750 at *8. Again, this point was presented in oral argument and our briefing. See, e.g., Brief of Appellee and Cross-Appellant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, supra, at 32-36.

The "Mumia Exception" The latest denial of a new trial to Mumia has been referred to as part of the „Mumia Exception.‰ David Lindorff, a noted investigative journalist and author of Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer on April 2, 2008, that the „courts have altered the rules just to keep Abu-Jamal on course for death.‰ What Professor Linn Washington earlier dubbed the „Mumia Exception‰, could not have been more on target.

Reaction of the District Attorney of Philadelphia The District Attorney appeared livid that the federal court had ordered a new penalty-phase jury trial. At a press conference on March 27, 2008, the day of the decision, she vowed that her office will continue pursuing the execution of my client. Sadly, the prosecution could not resist distorting the truth as it has from the outset over a quarter of a century ago. The DA falsely said that the court „finally decided in its wisdom . . . that Mr. Jamal was guilty.‰ That is not what the U.S. Court of Appeals found and is nonsense; there was no retrial or verdict. That is not what appellate courts do. Rather, the federal decision dealt with issues of law and procedure. The prosecution‚s suggestion that my client was found „guilty‰ of anything on appeal is absurd and patently false.

Where we go from here The dissent of Justice Ambro is a light in the darkness, a roadmap as to where we go from here. On April 9, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals granted my 45-day Motion for Extension of Time To File Petition for Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc. The rehearing petition, now due on May 27, 2008, will be seeking review of the case by all the judges in the Third Circuit. The basis will be that „the panel decision conflicts with a decision of the United States Supreme Court or of the court to which the petition is addressed and consideration of the full court is therefore necessary to secure uniformity of the court‚s decisions,‰ and, „the proceeding involves one or more questions of exceptional importance‰. (Fed. R. App. P. 35(b)(1).) If unsuccessful, we will proceed to the Supreme Court.

Conclusion The issues in this case concern the right to a fair trial, the ongoing struggle against the death penalty, and the political repression of a courageous author and journalist. Based upon three decades of successfully litigating murder cases involving the death penalty, I am convinced that we can win an acquittal upon a new jury trial. My goal is his acquittal upon retrial. I intend to see Mumia go home to his family. I will not ret until that occurs.

Mumia is still on death row and in great danger. His life is hanging in the balance. We must remember that racism, fraud, politics, and unfairness are threads that have run through this case since the beginning. As reflected by the comments at its recent press conference, the prosecution has learned little from its shameful behavior in this case. The misconduct continues, and the prosecutorial wrongs of the past are thus visited on the present.

Finally, we are grateful for all those who do so much to bring the injustice in this case to public attention, whether it be through demonstrations, writing to newspapers, meetings, or circulating information on the Internet. This is all important. We are of one voice in this campaign for justice: Free Mumia!

Yours very truly,

Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


6) U.S. Lawmakers Invested in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars
By Abid Aslam
April 12, 2008

U.S. lawmakers have a financial interest in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a review of their accounts has revealed.

Members of Congress invested nearly 196 million dollars of their own money in companies that receive hundreds of millions of dollars a day from Pentagon contracts to provide goods and services to U.S. armed forces, say nonpartisan watchdog groups.

David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq, is to brief the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees on Tuesday and Wednesday. The latest findings are unlikely to have a significant impact on this week’s proceedings but could stoke anti-incumbent sentiment in this year of presidential and legislative elections.

Lawmakers charged with overseeing Pentagon contractors hold stock in those very firms, as do vocal critics of the war in Iraq, says the Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP).

Senator John Kerry, the Democrat from Massachusetts who staked his 2004 presidential bid in part on his opposition to the war, tops the list of investors. His holdings in firms with Pentagon contracts of at least five million dollars stood at between 28.9 million dollars and 38.2 million dollars as of Dec. 31, 2006. Kerry sits on the Senate foreign relations panel.

Members of Congress are required to report their personal finances every year but only need to state their assets in broad ranges.

Other top investors include Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican with holdings of 12.1 million—49.1 million dollars; Rep. Robin Hayes, a North Carolina Republican (9.2 million—37.1 million dollars); Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin (5.2 million—7.6 million dollars); and Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat (2.7 million—6.3 million dollars).

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Democrat and former governor of West Virginia who chairs the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, invested some 2.0 million dollars in Pentagon contractors, CRP says.

Other panel chiefs who invested in defence firms include Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut Independent who presides over the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Rep. Howard Berman, the California Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In all, 151 current members of Congress -- more than one-fourth of the total -- have invested between 78.7 million dollars and 195.5 million dollars in companies that received defence contracts of at least 5.0 million dollars, according to CRP.

These companies received more than 275.6 billion dollars from the government in 2006, or 755 million dollars per day, says budget watchdog group OMB Watch.

The investments yielded lawmakers 15.8 million—62 million dollars in dividend income, capital gains, royalties, and interest from 2004 through 2006, says CRP.

Not all the firms deal in arms or military equipment. Some make soft drinks or medical supplies and military contracts represent a small fraction of their revenues. Many are leaders in their industries and, as such, feature in the investment portfolios of millions of ordinary people who invest at least a portion of their savings in mutual funds, which in turn hold stocks in up to hundreds of companies.

“Giant corporations outside of the defence sector, such as Pepsico, IBM, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson, have received defence contracts and are all popular investments for both members of Congress and the general public,” says CRP.

“So common are these companies, both as personal investments and as defence contractors, it would appear difficult to build a diverse blue-chip stock portfolio without at least some of them,” the group acknowledges.

If some of the stocks appear innocent, aides say legislators also are. Some did not buy the stocks in question but inherited them. Many hold them in blind trusts, so called because the investments are handled by independent entities, at least theoretically without the politicians’ knowledge of how their assets are being managed.

Even so, according to CRP, owning stock in companies under contract with the Pentagon could prove “problematic for members of Congress who sit on committees that oversee defence policy and budgeting.”

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees held 3.0 million—5.1 million dollars in companies specialising in weapons and other exclusively military goods and services, it added.

Critics have assailed President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney for their ties to companies seen as benefiting from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Bush was characterised as pushing conflict in the interest of the oil fraternity whence he hailed.
Before becoming vice president, Cheney headed Halliburton, a major player in the oil services industry and the object of controversies involving political connections, government contracts, and business ethics.

Halliburton’s subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, was given multi-billion-dollar contracts to provide construction, hospitality, and other services to the U.S. military following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The contracts drew fire because of Cheney’s history and then-ongoing financial relationship with the firm, and because the company did not have to compete for the Pentagon’s business. The firm was renamed KBR Inc. after Halliburton spun it off last year.
—Inter Pres Service (IPS), April 12, 2008


7) Losing Our Will
Op-Ed Columnist
April 12, 2008

I wonder what the answers would be if each American asked himself or herself the question: “How is the war in Iraq helping me?”

While the U.S. government continues to pour precious human treasure and vast financial resources into this ugly war without end, it is all but ignoring deeply entrenched problems that are weakening the country here at home.

On the same day that President Bush was announcing an indefinite suspension of troop withdrawals from Iraq, the New York Times columnist David Leonhardt was telling us a sad story about how the middle class has fared during the Bush years.

The economic boom so highly touted by the president and his supporters “was, for most Americans,” said Mr. Leonhardt, “nothing of the sort.” Despite the sustained expansion of the past few years, the middle class — for the first time on record — failed to grow with the economy.

And now, of course, we’re sinking into a nasty recession.

The U.S., once the greatest can-do country on the planet, now can’t seem to do anything right. The great middle class has maxed out its credit cards and drained dangerous amounts of equity from family homes. No one can seem to figure out how to generate the growth in good-paying jobs that is the only legitimate way of putting strapped families back on their feet.

The nation’s infrastructure is aging and in many places decrepit. Rebuilding it would be an important source of job creation, but nothing on the scale that is needed is in sight. To get a sense of how important an issue this is, consider New Orleans.

The historian Douglas Brinkley, who lives in New Orleans, has written: “What people didn’t yet fully comprehend was that the overall disaster, the sinking of New Orleans, was a man-made debacle, resulting from poorly designed levees and floodwalls.”

We could have saved the victims of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, but we didn’t. And now, more than 2 ½ years after the tragedy, we are still unable to lift the stricken city off its knees.

Other nations can provide health care for everyone. The United States cannot. In an era in which a college degree is becoming a prerequisite for a middle-class quality of life, we are having big trouble getting our kids through high school. And despite being the wealthiest of all nations, nearly 10 percent of Americans are resorting to food stamps to maintain an adequate diet, and 4 in every 10 American children are growing up in families that are poor or near-poor.

The U.S. seems almost paralyzed, mesmerized by Iraq and unable to generate the energy or the will to handle the myriad problems festering at home. The war will eventually cost a staggering $3 trillion or more, according to the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. When he was asked on “Democracy Now!” about who is profiting from the war, he said the two big gainers were the oil companies and the defense contractors.

This is the pathetic state of affairs in the U.S. as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Whatever happened to the dynamic country that flexed its muscles after World War II and gave us the G.I. Bill, the Marshall Plan, the United Nations (in a quest for peace, not war), the interstate highway system, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the finest higher education system the world has known, and a standard of living that was the envy of all?

America’s commanding general in Iraq, David Petraeus, and our ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, went up to Capitol Hill this week but were unable to give any real answers as to when the U.S. might be able to disengage, or when a corner might be turned, or when a faint, flickering hopeful light might be glimpsed at the end of the long, horrific Iraqi tunnel.

A country that used to act like Babe Ruth now swings like a minor-leaguer. The all-American can-do philosophy has been smothered by the hapless can’t-do performances of the people who have been in charge for the past several years. It’s both tragic and embarrassing.

The war in Iraq stands like a boulder in the road, blocking progress on so many other important issues that are crucial to our viability as a society. We’ve seen this before. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, which included the war on poverty, was crippled by the war in Vietnam.

On the evening of April 4, 1967, one year to the day before he was assassinated, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went into Riverside Church in Manhattan and said of the war in Vietnam: “This madness must cease.”

Forty-one years later, we can still hear the echo of Dr. King’s call. The only sane response is: “Amen.”


8) Fewer Options Open to Pay for Costs of College
April 12, 2008

Parents will have to navigate unfamiliar and difficult terrain when it comes time to pay for college this year, with student loan companies in turmoil and banks tightening their standards and raising rates on other types of borrowing.

Lawmakers and the administration are trying to head off any crisis by making sure that “lenders of last resort” stand ready to take the place of companies that have left the federal loan program. And a growing number of colleges have applied to participate in the federal direct loan program, in which students borrow from the government.

But families often use a combination of resources to pay for college, drawing on savings, federal loans, bank loans and home loans to plug the gap between college costs and financial aid.

Even if the government wards off problems in the credit markets and federal student loans are easily accessible, other sources of financing will become less accessible as consumers find themselves stretched thin and lenders get more choosy.

Turbulence in lending has complicated the efforts of people like Dawn R. Beaton of Mill Valley, Calif., to pay for her daughters’ education. A single mother earning less than $50,000 a year, she already has run into difficulty taking out a federal parent loan for her oldest daughter, Nicole, to attend a nearby community college. Her original lender pulled out of the market, and she is still waiting, months later, to hear from a replacement lender on that $5,000 request. She anticipates having to borrow about $10,000 to send her middle daughter to a private college in Ohio later this year.

“When I go to bed at night, I worry about it,” said Ms. Beaton, who is a financial manager for a vineyard.

“If you don’t have the money, there you are, in a serious, ulcer state. You feel inadequate.”

According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, 70 percent of parents surveyed were “very concerned” about how they would pay for college; only 6 percent were not concerned.

To ensure continued availability of federal loans, the secretary of the federal Education Department met on Friday with representatives of the state agencies and nonprofit companies that guarantee federal loans on behalf of the government. The goal was to work out how the guarantors would serve as lenders, if necessary. This emergency safety net has never been pressed into widespread use.

Though there is no major problem now, the lending industry is warning of a credit squeeze without action. “I would say there is widespread belief,” said Margaret Spellings, the education secretary, “that we will have a real problem, that the lender of last resort or some other solution will have to be used this year.”

Last year, students and their parents borrowed nearly $60 billion in federally guaranteed loans, a figure that has grown more than 6 percent annually over the last five years after taking into account inflation. In recent years, the growth rate has declined but may pick up as the economy slows and as other borrowing options fade.

“I want to make sure we are going to do our part, and that students will be able to go to college this fall,” Ms. Spelling said.

Lawmakers in Washington have proposed increasing the amounts that students can borrow through federal programs and authorizing the Education Department to purchase federal loans, thereby providing banks with cash to make more loans. The House Education Committee approved legislation this week that would allow dependent students to borrow a total of $31,000 through federal programs to pay for their undergraduate education, up from $23,000 now.

Still, it is difficult to gauge whether a financing problem will emerge later this year for students and, if so, how serious it might be. The disruption in the federal lending program so far has mostly been from borrowers shifting to another lender. Ms. Beaton, for example, expects her $5,000 loan request to eventually be granted. “By the time I get the money, school will probably be over,” she said.

Financial aid administrators say few students had been shut out. “I haven’t heard anything about any sort of unusual trends so far, not to say that it isn’t going to intensify,” said Daniel C. Walls, associate vice provost for enrollment management at Emory University in Atlanta. “I suspect there’s going to be more negotiating around financial aid this year than any other year that we’ve experienced.”

Admitted students are just now receiving financial aid awards from colleges, and the test will come when tuition payments for the fall term are due, aid administrators say.

“By mid- to late June, certainly July, will be the months that we really begin to understand the relative financial situations of families,” said Jean McDonald-Rash, director of financial aid at Rutgers in New Jersey.

Students attending several expensive and wealthy colleges will enjoy expanded financial aid, as those institutions move to replace need-based loans with grants. Harvard and Yale recently announced expansions of aid to families making as much as $150,000, displaying a degree of generosity that few institutions can match.

Some student advocates say lenders are exaggerating the obstacles they face in search of a bailout from Washington.

“Student lenders are trying to hype the current credit crunch to scare Congress into providing them additional subsidies and to discredit last years’ hard won higher education reform,” said Luke Swarthout of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group in Washington, referring to cuts lawmakers made last year to the subsidy payments to lenders of federal loans.

Kevin Bruns, executive director of America’s Student Loan Providers, dismissed such criticism as baseless. “Lenders’ only goal is to get the administration to use its existing authority to provide liquidity to the capital markets that fund federal student loans,” he said. “Lenders don’t need to overstate anything — the facts speak for themselves.”

There are clear signs of potential problems in the fall. It remains difficult for lenders to sell securities backed by student loans, in turn making it harder to raise capital. One guarantor of private loans, a nonprofit company called the Education Resources Institute, filed for bankruptcy protection this week.

“Everything that’s happened in the capital markets with this credit crunch has caused the fixed-income investor base to shrink, so there are fewer potential buyers of securities backed by the loans,” said Andrea L. Murad, senior director at Fitch Ratings in New York.

The House legislation seeks to address this situation by allowing the Education Department to buy student loans itself. At least 25 loan companies — including big lenders like the College Loan Corporation; the Student Loan Xpress unit of CIT; and NorthStar Education Finance — have stopped making federal loans, according to the Education Department. Some estimates put the number at nearly twice that.

Colleges generally say that more than 2,000 companies make student loans, and there are plenty of lenders to step into the breach.

No doubt to sidestep any related problems, more than 100 colleges and universities have applied to participate in the direct loan program since the end of February, according to the department. Ms. Spellings, the department secretary, has said the direct loan program could double the amount of new loans it makes to students, if necessary.

Some commercial education companies have already taken steps to ensure that their students can find lenders, in some instances by preparing to make loans themselves.

Problems are more likely for those seeking private loans, which do not have any government backing. The terms of private loans, like other consumer loans, vary depending on the credit histories of individual applicants and in some cases can top 20 percent.

In the last several months, rates on those loans have risen by nearly one percentage point, according to research by Mark Kantrowitz, who publishes the financial aid Web site Lenders have also tightened their standards, making it costlier for those with weak credit histories to obtain loans.

Private loans have grown sharply in popularity over the last 10 years, as families have looked for ways to pay the difference between tuition, on the one hand, and their savings and federal loan options, on the other. Last year, according to the College Board, students took out more than $17 billion in private loans, up from just $1.6 billion a decade earlier.

“If the financial aid system had kept pace with inflation, there wouldn’t be any need for private loans,” said Paul Wrubel, co-founder of and a consultant for families trying to figure out how to pay for college.

Families also have closed the gap between college costs and federal loans by borrowing against their homes — and that is another option vanishing as house prices fall and lenders clamp down. Millions of homeowners now owe more than their houses are worth, leaving no equity to borrow against.

There is no data on how many parents may have used home equity loans to pay for higher education, researchers and aid administrators said, but there is no doubt many did, to take advantage of tax breaks and lower rates.

Tapping into home equity was always part of the college finance plan for Connie and Dave Orient of Canonsburg, Pa. She is a paralegal at a law firm in Pittsburgh and he is in the family construction business. Their older son, Christopher, is a sophomore at California University of Pennsylvania, a public institution relatively inexpensive for in-state residents. The younger son, Luke, a high school junior, wants to go to Virginia Tech, which she said would cost three times as much.

“I believe that I am in an area that is not depressed or anything,” Ms. Orient said. She added that she hoped still to be able to borrow against the house she and her husband built 25 years ago, but was unsure how much equity she really has in it and how much a lender would be willing to extend. “Nothing’s selling anywhere right now.”

Alan Finder contributed reporting.


9) Legal Immigrants, Until They Applied for Citizenship
April 12, 2008

SELINSGROVE, Pa. — Dr. Pedro Servano always believed that his journey from his native Philippines to the life of a community doctor in Pennsylvania would lead to American citizenship.

But the doctor, who has tended to patients here in the Susquehanna Valley for more than a decade, is instead battling a deportation order along with his wife.

The Servanos are among a growing group of legal immigrants who reach for the prize and permanence of citizenship, only to run afoul of highly technical immigration statutes that carry the severe penalty of expulsion from the country. For the Servanos, the problem has been a legal hitch involving their marital status when they came from the Philippines some 25 years ago.

Largely overlooked in the charged debate over illegal immigration, many of these are long-term legal immigrants in the United States who were confident of success when they applied for naturalization, and would have continued to live here legally had they not sought to become citizens.

As applications for naturalization have surged, overburdened federal examiners, under pressure to make quick decisions and also weed out any security risks, prefer to err on the side of rejection, immigration lawyers and independent researchers said. In 2007, 89,683 applications for naturalization were denied, about 12 percent of those presented.

In the last 12 years, denial rates have been consistently higher than at any time since the 1920s.

Though precise figures are not available, an increasing number of these denials involve immigrants who believed they were in good legal standing, according to lawyers and researchers. Under the law, a number of grounds for naturalization denial can lead to an order of deportation, and appeals are more limited than in criminal cases.

“It’s no wonder there are so many illegal immigrants,” said Brad Darnell, an electrical engineer from Canada living in California who applied for citizenship but is also now fighting deportation. “The legal method is so intolerant and confusing.”

A legal immigrant since 1991, Mr. Darnell is married to an American and has two American-born sons. But after he presented his naturalization application last year, Mr. Darnell discovered that a 10-year-old conviction for domestic violence involving a former girlfriend, even though it had been reduced to a misdemeanor and erased from his public record, made him ineligible to become a citizen — or even to continue living in the United States.

Since 1996, when an immigration law overhaul first brought intensified scrutiny of citizenship applications, at least 85,000 naturalizations have been turned down each year.

The record year was 2000, when 399,670 applications were denied, one-third of those presented, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization. More recent denial rates remain high, but have fallen from the peak because more immigrants have prepared with civics classes and immigrant advocates before applying to become citizens, researchers said.

In three recent cases in Florida, aspiring citizens thought their green cards entitled them to vote or register to vote before they were sworn in as Americans. When the immigrants reported their elections activities on their applications, not only were their naturalizations rejected, but they were also ordered to leave the country, according to their lawyer, Jeffrey Brauwerman.

In a current Florida case, a British-born businessman saw his naturalization derailed and was detained for deportation because he forgot to update his home address with the immigration agency, Mr. Brauwerman said. He was charged with ignoring a notice in which immigration examiners mistakenly accused him of a felony he had never committed.

In a case that drew Congressional attention this year in Illinois, Marin Turcinovic, an immigrant from Croatia, was twice denied citizenship because he did not show up at the immigration office to be fingerprinted. As his lawyer explained to no avail, Mr. Turcinovic was a quadriplegic, dependent on a ventilator and unable to leave his home.

Mr. Turcinovic died in April 2004 without becoming a citizen, creating an immigration crisis for his French widow, Corina, who had taken care of him. In January Representative Daniel Lipinski, Democrat of Illinois, presented a bill that halted her deportation.

Immigration officials say denials have increased in the last decade because naturalization applications are increasing. They note that approvals are rising as well. In 1996 naturalizations soared for the first time to more than one million, and they remained above 450,000 each year through 2007.

“Whenever we see a period when large numbers decide to apply, there tend to be larger numbers of people who are not ready or might not meet the requirements,” said Chris Rhatigan, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Officials said the majority of denials went to applicants who failed a required civics and English language test or fell short of residency requirements. Those immigrants generally can try again.

But as the case of the Servano family illustrates, some denials come as a shock to both the applicants and the communities they call home.

Dr. Servano’s mother, five siblings and eight of his wife’s siblings became naturalized citizens, including one brother and two brothers-in-law who made careers in the Navy. His four children are Americans by virtue of being born here. He has been a legal immigrant in the United States for 25 years.

Following an outcry from neighbors, patients and local officials, Department of Homeland Security officials in December temporarily suspended the Servanos’ deportation. The Servanos and their supporters, including Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, are using the unusual reprieve to pursue new legal efforts to resolve the couple’s case.

For the federal government and for many Americans, naturalizations — the legal process by which legal immigrants become citizens — are a measure of immigrants’ willingness to join the society and embrace its civic values.

To become a citizen, a legal permanent resident must have lived in the United States more or less continuously for five years, or three years for the spouse of a citizen. The immigrant must demonstrate good moral character and allegiance to the Constitution, and pass a test of English ability and civics. Since 2002, citizenship applicants also undergo an extensive background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Applicants fail the moral character standard if they have been convicted of certain sex, drug or gambling charges or are “habitual drunkards.” They also can fail if they give “false testimony,” a term immigration lawyers say is subject to broad interpretation.

Dr. Servano and his wife, Salvacion, lived for years in the United States with no inkling they might have violated the law. They met in the Philippines when she was a nurse and he was a young traveling doctor. Her strict father insisted she marry, they said, but his family wanted him to wait.

In the early 1980s, their mothers came separately to the United States as legal immigrants and petitioned for residence visas, known as green cards, for Pedro and Salvacion under the category of unmarried children. But between the time the visas were requested and when they were issued in 1985, Pedro and Salvacion, hoping to escape conflicting parental demands, secretly married in the Philippines.

Unaware that their marriage could have violated the terms of their green cards, the Servanos settled in the United States. He completed a second medical residency here and began to practice in blue-collar towns where he made house calls and was known for attention to everyday ills. He and Salvacion married in New Jersey in 1987. They renewed their green cards punctually.

“My goal is to be fully functional and integrated into the society,” Dr. Servano said. They presented their 1991 naturalization applications without seeking a lawyer.

Immigration inspectors reviewing their applications discovered a record of their Philippine marriage. Accused of lying, they were ordered deported. In years of immigration court appeals, the Servanos had no opportunity to present broader evidence of their character, their lawyers said.

People in Selinsgrove and nearby Sunbury, Susquehanna Valley towns where Dr. Servano practices, were surprised to hear in October that the couple had received a final order with a November date for their deportation. Aside from his medical work, he and his wife had bought two blighted buildings on the square in Sunbury, refurbishing them with apartments and offices. Mrs. Servano opened a store, selling lottery tickets, homemade Filipino bread and DVDs in Tagalog, a Philippine language.

In November, more than 100 residents gathered in the Sunbury square for a candlelight vigil on behalf of the Servanos. Thousands of Filipinos in the United States have signed petitions supporting them.

“The fact that they want to displace and get rid of people we here feel are exceptionally good citizens quite frankly just doesn’t make any sense,” said Mayor Jesse C. Woodring of Sunbury.

The Servanos, huddled on the couch in their home in a Selinsgrove development, seemed numb at the prospect of returning to the Philippines.

“I live here, so I like America now,” Mrs. Servano said. “For 25 years we’ve been here; we didn’t even visit the Philippines. So it’s really hard.”

Their son, Peter, 16, an American, expressed his siblings’ anguish about being forced to separate either from their parents or from the only home they know.

“I want to stay here because all my friends are here, and I’ve grown up here, so it would be hard to leave,” Peter said. “But it would be hard not to go.”

Michael Gilhooly, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handles deportations, said the Servanos’ removal had been suspended based on new information from Mr. Specter about their humanitarian role. Other immigration officials said the Servanos could recover their legal status by applying for new green cards as parents of citizen children.


10) About New York
Less Crime: No Reason to Shut Prisons
April 12, 2008

For nearly a decade, one of New York City’s major exports — criminals — has been in decline, a result of less crime. In the alternative universe of state government, this is the textbook definition of catastrophe. A steady supply of criminals is the foundation of the economy of large swaths of New York State, which has 70 prisons that employ about 20,000 people as correction officers.

The prisons are also a source of political power to upstate Republicans because the inmates are counted as permanent residents when legislative districts are drawn — even though they cannot vote and their actual homes may be hundreds of miles away.

In January, the State Department of Correctional Services said that because the state had 9,000 fewer inmates than it did in 1999, it would close four prisons that had space for 1,346. Another agency said the state should close five mostly unused juvenile facilities because even empty beds cost $140,000 to $200,000 each to maintain with staff and other services.

These proposals drew roars across vast reaches of New York. Two weeks ago, the state’s leading Republicans led a rally of prison guards on the steps of the Capitol. It amounted to a declaration of their confidence that evil would endure, a faith in human weakness that is perhaps warranted and inarguably useful.

“What happens the next time — and there will be a next time — we have a crack epidemic?” asked Senator Michael F. Nozzolio of Seneca Falls, who is chairman of a committee that oversees crime and prisons, according to The Adirondack Daily Enterprise. “They’ll be double-bunked, they’ll be stuffed into the medians, and we’ll have another prison riot on our hands.”

Senator Nozzolio was joined on the steps by the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno. The guards chanted his name. He did not let them down.

This week, the Legislature and the governor agreed to keep the four unneeded prisons open at a cost of $33.5 million next year. If they are kept open much beyond that, they will need $30 million in capital repairs to keep them in shape, according to the corrections department.

The Legislature did agree to shut four of the five juvenile facilities, but kept open one, Great Valley, which is about 350 miles west of New York City. It is less than half full, but the state senator from the district, Catharine M. Young, was on the budget committee. (Pyramid in the Bronx, a sixth juvenile institution that the state wanted to close on the grounds that the facilities were inadequate, was also kept open.)

The state went on a great surge of prison building during the 1980s and 1990s, continuing even after the rate of violent crime had crested. During the administration of Gov. George E. Pataki, the penalties for certain nonviolent crimes — especially those involving drugs — were eased.

“With the reforms, there are fewer nonviolent inmates, and a greater percentage of violent inmates among those that remain,” said Erik Kriss, a spokesman for the corrections department. “That was an intentional policy under Governor Pataki.”

Since 1999, the state says, the number of prisoners has declined by 13 percent, to 62,500 from 71,600. Three governors in a row — Mr. Pataki, Eliot Spitzer and, now, David A. Paterson — tried to close adult prisons. The minimum- and medium-security prisons were simply not being used as much.

Even so, prisons in New York are like military bases in other parts of the country, and closing them is just as difficult. In prison towns, schools, churches and Little Leagues all depend on the families that have built their livelihoods on the prison economy. Year after year, the prisons survived during the legislative budget negotiations, which are always conducted under information blackouts.

Last year, Governor Spitzer proposed that the Legislature set up a commission to study which prisons were needed, to make plans to help the communities where they would be closed and then to openly vote for an entire package. The Legislature declined. The question of prison closings returned to the back room.

“It’s really a jobs programs for economically depressed upstate communities,” said Robert Gangi, the executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, a nonprofit organization that has oversight responsibilities for the prisons. “But it’s a jobs program that has a direct negative effect on people’s lives. It’s not like the manufacturer of widgets. It’s based on the warehousing of human beings that has very negative effects.”

Senator Bruno said that the decline in crime was a result of criminals being locked up — and others argue that should crime rise anew, all the prison cells will be needed once again. The state said it has an ample reserve of emergency beds in case there is a sharp increase.

For now, with tax revenues in decline and every agency being ordered to cut its budget, the prison machinery rolls on — less crime or not.

The peace dividend has been postponed until further notice.



11) G.E. Earnings Drop, Raising Broader Fears
April 12, 2008

General Electric, which is widely viewed as a bellwether for the economy because of its diverse operations, stunned Wall Street on Friday by reporting sharply disappointing results for the first quarter and creating widespread concern about the outlook for other companies.

The inability of G.E. to sidestep current market forces underscores just how broadly the credit crisis is spreading through the economy. The company, which has businesses as varied as finance and jet engines, has normally been able to manage weakness in any given sector, making its surprise all the more worrisome.

The weakening outlook for company profits and a poor consumer confidence report pushed the Dow Jones industrial average down by 256 points, about 2 percent, and the other major indexes had similar declines. G.E.’s stock fell 13 percent, its biggest one-day loss in two decades.

“G.E.’s results are telling us that we may have more bad news and worse than expected in the economy,” said Richard Tortoriello, an analyst who follows G.E. for Standard & Poor’s Equity Research. G.E. also reduced its full-year profit projections, telling investors to expect little or no earnings growth in 2008.

Investors have already seen an average profit decline of 20 percent from the 32 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index that have reported their first-quarter earnings, and they are particularly worried about more unpleasant news from the financial industry. Companies like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase will report their results next week, followed by numerous other companies.

The financial sector, which makes up nearly 20 percent of the companies in the S.& P. 500, is dragging down the overall market, analysts say, and the credit crisis now threatens other types of companies.

About 160 companies from the index are expected to report over the next two weeks, and analysts say that with the exception of the energy sector, investors should be braced for more bad news.

“If you think of all the banks that were in trouble last quarter, that’s likely to move into the real economy now,” said Tobias M. Levkovich, chief United States equity strategist at Citi Investment Research.

Financial stocks are likely to be among the biggest disappointments. Analysts are predicting they will report sharply lower first-quarter earnings, an estimated 64 percent below the same period of 2007, according to Thomson Financial Services. Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have already reported their earnings, and they all took write-downs on their investments. In total, financial institutions have written down more than $230 billion in mortgage loans and other assets since the credit crisis began.

But defaults on other sorts of consumer loans, like credit card and auto debt, have been soaring since late last year, and those loan losses may surprise investors, analysts said.

If G.E. is any guide, even the unsuspecting may be caught up in the credit crisis. G.E. was once a large subprime mortgage lender but sold that business in October.

On Friday, the company reported net income of $4.3 billion for the quarter, or 43 cents a share, down from $4.57 billion, or 44 cents a share, in the period a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting about 51 cents a share in net earnings, and the company had projected profit of 50 to 53 cents a share. Its stock finished down $4.70, at $32.05.

While the company continued to post strong results in areas like its global infrastructure business, aircraft engines and energy equipment, the performance of its financial services business pulled down profits. The company also had difficulty smoothing its results through various asset sales, including real estate, and consumers were buying fewer of its famous appliances.

“It does show how the credit turmoil extends out to very well-managed companies like G.E.,” said Deane M. Dray, an analyst with Goldman Sachs who downgraded the stock to neutral on Friday because of the sizable earnings miss.

While some of the weakness in demand was predictable, analysts say what particularly troubled them was management’s admission that it had been surprised by the severity of the credit crisis, having reassured analysts just a few weeks ago that it expected to meet earnings expectations for the quarter.

“We had planned for a difficult environment,” Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chairman and chief executive, told investors Friday morning. “We had planned for an environment that was going to be challenging, but what I would say is kind of late in the quarter, particularly after the Bear Stearns event, we experienced an extraordinary disruption in our ability to complete asset sales and incurred marks of impairments.”

Other companies, especially those with financial units that have not been in the public eye, may similarly startle investors, analysts said.

“What other companies might have the same financial issues that the market hasn’t recognized yet?” asked Timothy M. Ghriskey, who oversees investments at Solaris Asset Management, an investment management group in Bedford Hills, N.Y., that does not own shares in G.E.

Wall Street has, in general, been overly optimistic about earnings over the last two quarters, although analysts have lowered their estimates in the last three months. But there is a growing divergence between what analysts think will happen with company earnings and the more negative outlook by economists, says a recent Goldman Sachs report.

The Goldman report predicted that many companies will lower their earnings estimates for the year during their coming first-quarter earnings calls — saying this would be a “profit recession” along with an “economic recession.”

In fact, companies’ earnings typically drop more than the gross domestic product during recessions, said Robert Barbera, chief economist at ITG, an investment and research firm.

“Corporate profits exaggerate economic momentum,” Mr. Barbera said. “There’s a violence to profit performance.”

Consumer discretionary spending is already weakening. While retail companies report their earnings later than other industries, spending at discount stores like TJ Maxx and Aéropostale will be closely watched. Luxury retailers have benefited from foreign sales. At Tiffany & Company, for example, half of all sales are in stores abroad, and 14 percent of all sales within the United States come from foreign tourists, said Brian J. Tunick, a retail analyst at JPMorgan Securities.

But United States companies may not be able to count on the rest of the world for all their earnings growth. About two-thirds of the money earned abroad by American companies is made in Europe, said Mr. Levkovich, the Citi analyst, and the housing market in several European countries has started to suffer.

It is not only the consumer spending cutback that is expected to hurt profits. As companies produce fewer products, many of the goods they create will become more expensive per unit. Companies are already reducing the amount of goods they keep in inventories, which adds to expenses. And, of course, rising fuel costs harm all companies that ship goods.

While analysts say they were surprised by G.E.’s earnings announcement, some say the company’s difficulties are not all that shocking, given its range of businesses that tend to mirror the ups and downs of the economy.

“G.E. isn’t immune from that,” said Daniel Rosenblatt of Marble Harbor Investment Counsel in Boston, which owns the stock. “It’s hard to get away from the really big macrotrends.”


12) Off The Charts
Many More Are Jobless Than Are Unemployed
April 12, 2008

THE unemployment rate is low. The jobless rate is high.

Those two seemingly contradictory statements are especially true for American men in what should be the prime of their working lives. Those facts may help to explain the stark pessimism of Americans about the economy, and shed some light on the rise of illegal immigration as a political issue.

Men in the prime of their working lives are now less likely to have jobs than they were during all but one recession of the last 60 years. Most of them do not qualify as unemployed, but they are nonetheless without jobs.

The unemployment rate paints a less gloomy picture. Among men ages 25 to 54 — a range that starts after most people finish their education and ends well before most people retire — the unemployment rate is 4.1 percent. That is not especially low, but it is well below the peak rate in all but one post-World War II recession.

Only people without jobs who are actively looking for work qualify as unemployed in the computation of that rate. It does not count people who are not looking for work, whether or not they would like to have a job.

But there is another rate — called the jobless rate in this article — that counts the proportion of people without jobs. To be sure, some of them do not want to work. Some are raising families on a spouse’s income, or are disabled, retired or independently wealthy. But others may be discouraged workers, who would take jobs if they thought any desirable positions were available.

In the latest report, for March, the Labor Department reported the jobless rate — also called the “not employed rate” by some — at 13.1 percent for men in the prime age group. Only once during a post-World War II recession did the rate ever get that high. It hit 13.3 percent in June 1982, the 12th month of the brutal 1981-82 recession, and continued to rise from there.

To be sure, employment is a lagging economic indicator, and rates higher than this have prevailed after recessions ended. But this rate has arrived at a time when the government still hopes that a recession can be averted.

As can be seen in the accompanying chart, there has been a long-term decline in the proportion of prime-age men with jobs. That decline has been masked by rises in the number of older people with jobs and by a steady rise in the proportion of women working outside the home. But even among women there has been some slippage. The proportion of women ages 25 to 54 without jobs was 27.4 percent in March, a figure that is higher than it was during all but one month of the 2001 recession.

The negative trend can also be seen in the other chart, which shows the annual change in the number of working men in the 25 to 54 age range, using a three-month moving average to smooth the figures.

In the last half-century, that figure has turned negative only after recessions have been going on for at least a few months, although it has often stayed negative well after the recession officially ended. The lags have ranged from four months after the start of the 1960-61 and 2001 recessions, to 15 months after the beginning of the 1973-75 downturn, with an average lag of eight months. This year, the figure turned negative in January.

The government breaks down the figures by race, and those figures show that over the last year almost all the jobs lost by men in the 25 to 54 age group have been lost by whites, with most of those losses affecting men ages 35 to 44. There have been just a small number of losses by black men in the 25 to 54 age group, and employment for Hispanic men is still growing, albeit at a much slower pace than it was a few months ago.

The unemployment and jobless rates for white men are still lower than for black or Hispanic men, but this downturn stands in sharp contrast to the 2001 recession, when the number of black men with jobs began to fall months before the employment rate for white men dropped.

Floyd Norris comments in his blog at




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

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

Regimens: Drug Samples Found to Affect Spending
Vital Signs
Having doctors distribute free samples of medicines may do exactly what drug companies hope for — encourage patients to spend more money on drugs.
A study in the April issue of Medical Care found that patients who never received free samples spent an average of $178 for six months of prescriptions. Those receiving samples spent $166 in the six months before they obtained free medicine, $244 when they received the handouts and $212 in the six months after that.
Researchers studied 5,709 patients, tracking medical histories and drug expenditures; 14 percent of the group received free samples. The study adjusted for prior and current health conditions, race, socioeconomic level and other variables.
The authors acknowledge that the study results could be partly explained by unmeasured illness in the group given samples.
The lead author, Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said although free samples might save some patients money, there were other ways to economize. “Using more generics, prescribing for three months’ supply rather than one month’s and stopping drugs that may no longer be needed can also save money,” Dr. Alexander said.
April 1, 2008

Rhode Island: Order to Combat Illegal Immigration
National Briefing | New England
Linking the presence of undocumented workers to the state’s financial woes, Gov. Donald L. Carcieri signed an executive order that includes steps to combat illegal immigration. The order requires state agencies and companies that do business with the state to verify the legal status of employees. It also directs the state police and prison and parole officials to work harder to find and deport illegal immigrants. The governor, a Republican, said that he understood illegal immigrants faced hardships, but that he did not want them in Rhode Island. Under his order, the state police will enter an agreement with federal immigration authorities permitting them access to specialized immigration databases.
March 29, 2008

North Carolina: Ministers Say Police Destroyed Records
National Briefing | South
Three ministers accused a Greensboro police officer of ordering officers to destroy about 50 boxes of police files related to the fatal shooting of five people at an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in 1979. The Revs. Cardes Brown, Gregory Headen and Nelson Johnson said an active-duty officer told them he and at least three other officers were told to destroy the records in 2004 or 2005, shortly after a seven-member panel that had been convened to research the shootings requested police files related to them. The ministers did not identify the officer who provided the information. On Nov. 3, 1979, a heavily armed caravan of Klansman and Nazi Party members confronted the rally. Five marchers were killed and 10 were injured. Those charged were later acquitted in state and federal trials. The city and some Klan members were found liable for the deaths in civil litigation.
February 27, 2008

Gaza: Israeli Army Clears Itself in 21 Deaths
World Briefing | Middle East
The army said no legal action would be taken against military officials over an artillery strike in Beit Hanun in 2006 in which an errant shell hit residential buildings and killed 21 Palestinian civilians. An army investigation concluded that the shell was fired based on information that militants were intending to fire rockets from the area, an army statement said. The civilian deaths, it said, were “directly due to a rare and severe failure” in the artillery control system. The army’s military advocate general concluded that there was no need for further investigation.
February 27, 2008

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

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




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


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

http://video. 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])

SHOP: Articles at">