Saturday, August 30, 2008




Bay Area United Against War Presents a Benefit Performance of:

Howard Zinn's One-Person Play: MARX IN SOHO
Noe Valley Ministry
Saturday, August 30, 7-9:00 P.M.
1021 Sanchez Street (Near 23rd Street)

TICKETS ARE $20.00 at the door.

Or call in or email for your reserve tickets for $10.00
before 5:00 P.M. TODAY and pick up your
reserve tickets at the door when you arrive.

Call: 415-824-8730 or email:

Author of “A Peoples History Of the United States”,
Howard Zinn humanizes the man behind the ideas.
Karl Marx watches what happens to the world
for 100+ years after his death in 1883 and
then comes back to speak with a group of post-industrial
intellectuals in New York City’s trendy Soho neighborhood.
Imagine what Karl Marx would have to say after over
a century of seeing his philosophy strike a path through
history from the birth of the industrial revolution
through the end of the cold war...

Starring Veteran Actor: Jerry Levy

Charged with a mighty talent and a bottomless love of the play, Levy
has been teaching sociology at Marlboro College and has been acting
with the Actors' Theater of Brattleboro since he moved there from
Chicago in 1975

A special benefit for Bay Area United Against War's
Military counter-recruitment campaign.
P.O. Box 318021
S.F., CA 94131-8021

For more information about Jerry Levy and reviews of his performance go to:



No on V Campaign Office:

Next meeting: Tuesday, September 9, 7:15 P.M.
Friends Meeting House
65 9th St, San Francisco (between Mission and Market Sts)
To RSVP or for additional information, please contact Alan Lessik at AFSC at 565.0201, x11 or


(Please circulate)

No Military in our Schools-No on Prop. V and Marx in Soho Benefit

Dear all,

Below is Bay Area United Against War's paid ballot argument for a NO
vote on Proposition V, the pro-JROTC initiative on the ballot in San
Francisco this November. But this is only the beginning of our
campaign efforts to defeat this initiative.

We invite you to come to our benefit performance of the wonderful
Howard Zinn play, Marx in Soho. It is only one of the ways we are
trying to raise money to carry out our campaign to end military
recruitment in our schools and to defeat Proposition V.

Howard Zinn's MARX IN SOHO

Saturday, August 30, 7-9:00 P.M.
Noe Valley Ministry
1021 Sanchez Street (Near 23rd Street)


You can get advance tickets to the play for $10.00 by emailing the
following address and leaving a name and how many tickets you would
like to reserve:

If you can't come to the play, please consider making a donation to
our campaign by sending a check to:

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

We have no paid staff and rarely ask for donations but we feel this
campaign is of utmost importance not only for the children of the San
Francisco Unified School District, but what we do here will have
ramifications in school districts across the country.

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein, for Bay Area United Against War

P.S., our ballot argument cost over $600.00 and we need to get out
posters and flyers, etc.


Bay Area United Against War Paid Ballot Argument:


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

1. JROTC doesn't teach students the realities of war:

a. They are likely to kill civilians.

b. They are more likely to die or return with devastating mental
and physical disabilities than earn college degrees.

2. Proposition V argues that students should have a "choice" to take
JROTC, but if they join the military they have no choice about killing
or dying.

3. JROTC is a military recruitment program. Keep the military out of

4. JROTC is NOT the way to keep kids away from gangs. There are
peaceful ways to keeps kids safe.

5. JROTC is NOT a leadership program. It teaches unquestioning
obedience in preparation for military service.

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

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

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



Please forward and distribute widely. Thank you.

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
wishes to announce a special event:

A performance of --
Call Mr. Robeson,
a play with songs, written and performed by Tayo Aluko,
in San Francisco, on Friday September 5th, 2008, will be
A Benefit for Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Nigerian actor, Tayo Aluko, is performing his one-man play with songs, "Call Mr. Robeson," in San Francisco. Mr Aluko is accompanied on piano by Richard Thompson. "Call Mr Robeson" explores the life of Paul Robeson, one of America's great cultural icons, who was persecuted and hounded into exile during the McCarthyite repression. It features some of his famous songs and speeches, including a dramatic rendition of "Ol‚ Man River." This powerful performance should not be missed.

On Friday Sept. 5, Mr. Aluko will do a benefit performance, to support the legal expenses of world-famous political prisoner and former Black Panther, Mumia Abu-Jamal. Jamal has now been on death row in Pennsylvania for more than a quarter century. The same forces of racist reaction that persecuted Paul Robeson now keep Mumia Abu-Jamal under a Damocles-sword of death, for a crime he didn't commit.

5 pm, Friday September 5th 2008,
at the Phoenix Theater, 414 Mason St, 6th floor, San Francisco, CA
This showing only--pay what you can, $5 minimum, to benefit Mumia Abu-Jamal
- Ticket information: 1 800 838-3006
- Info on the play:

The play is a roller coaster journey through Robeson‚s remarkable and eventful life, and highlights how his radical activism caused him to be disowned and disremembered, even by the leaders and descendants of the civil rights movement.

"They say I'm meddling in the foreign affairs
of the United States Government. Now, that's too
bad, 'cause I'm going to have to continue to meddle."
- from the flyer for "Call Mr Robeson"

Paul Robeson was made a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) as an act of solidarity with him against government persecution. This is the same union that shut down all the ports on the West Coast to Free Mumia in 1999, and shut them again on May 1st 2008 to demand: US out of Iraq and Afghanistan! In the same spirit of solidarity, writer/performer Tayo Aluko is donating the September 5th performance of his play to benefit Mumia's legal defense.

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal will provide information and literature on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, including copies of the hard-hitting new book, "The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal," by Crime Magazine editor, J Patrick O'Connor. This riveting expose of the vicious police frame-up of the "Voice of the Voiceless," Mumia Abu-Jamal, is available from us at a discount price.

For more information, contact:

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222, Oakland CA 94610, 510 763-2347


9th Annual "Power-to-the-Peaceful Festival"

Annual 9/11 Rally / March from the Panhandle through Golden Gate Park to
the "Power-to-the- Peaceful Festival"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Speedway Meadows
Golden Gate Park

Following the attacks of September 11th, the first "9/11 Truth Rally and March" took place in the Panhandle, marching up Haight Street and through Golden Gate Park to the "Power-to-the-Peaceful" Concert

Our rally begins at 10:00 am @ the Panhandle (between Oak and Fell at Ashbury)
11:00 am we begin our march up Ashbury to Haight, through Golden Gate Park to Speedway Meadows and to the Concert which lasts until 5:00 pm.

To endorse, speak, volunteer --- Contact Carol Brouillet @ 650-857-0927. We welcome all who are for 9/11 Truth, Impeachment, Peace, an End to War, Repeal of the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act. Bring banners, signs, costumes, musical instruments, your humor, energy, messages. The Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance will have a booth at the Concert and pass out literature to the thousands who come to the concert and support peace.

(Go to:
Here's our 9-11 Truth Rally / March webpage with photos and reports from years ago.)


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

Open Letter to the U.S. Antiwar Movement

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

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

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

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

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

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

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

In solidarity and peace,

National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations


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

Dear Readers,

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

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War

Hi all,

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

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

In Peace and Solidarity,

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

Liam Madden
*IVAW – Boston Chapter

Suren Moodliar
Mass Global Action

Ann Glick
Newton Dialogues for Peace

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

Paul Shannon
American Friends Service Committee

John Harris
Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition

* Organization for identification purposes only


A.N.S.W.E.R.Calendar of Upcoming Anti-war Events
-- August 25-28 in Denver: Protest the Democratic National Convention
-- September 1-4 in St. Paul: Protest the Republican Convention
-- January 20, 2009: Bring the Anti-War Movement to Inauguration Day in D.C.

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

The ANSWER Coalition will be in the streets on Saturday August 16 in Los Angeles to demand an immediate withdrawal of all occupation forces from Irag and Afghanistan and end to all threats and sanctions against Iran.

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

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

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

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

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

Join us in Denver on Aug. 25-28 at the Democratic Convention, in St. Paul at the Republican Convention between Sept. 1 and Sept. 4. And help organize bus and car caravans for January 20, 2009, Inauguration Day, so that whoever is elected president will see on Pennsylvania Avenue that the people want an immediate end to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and to halt the threats against Iran.

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

Calendar of Events:

-- August 25-28 in Denver: Protest the Democratic National Convention
-- September 1-4 in St. Paul: Protest the Republican Convention
-- January 20, 2009: Bring the Anti-War Movement to Inauguration Day in D.C.

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

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


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


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

Radical Women Conference Aims to Expand and Embolden Feminist Movement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




1) U.S. Soldiers Executed Iraqis, Statements Say
August 27, 2008

2) Cities Debate Privatizing Public Infrastructure
August 27, 2008

3) More People Living Below Poverty Line
Filed at 9:49 a.m. ET
August 27, 2008

4) U.S. Killed 90, Including 60 Children, in Afghan Village, U.N. Finds
August 27, 2008

5) Nearly 600 Were Arrested in Factory Raid, Officials Say
"Officials said 475 of the immigrants were immediately taken by bus to a detention center in the central Louisiana town of Jena and would face deportation."
August 27, 2008

6) Foreclosure's hidden victims
James Temple, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, August 15, 2008

7) As Arctic Sea Ice Melts, Experts Expect New Low
August 28, 2008

8) Ex-Marine Is Cleared in Killing of Unarmed Iraqi Detainees
August 29, 2008

9) In Texas School, Teachers Carry Books and Guns
August 29, 2008

10) Proposal on Safety at Work Riles Unions
August 30, 2008

11) Get Pad and Pen: The School Supply List Is Long
August 30, 2008


1) U.S. Soldiers Executed Iraqis, Statements Say
August 27, 2008

In March or April 2007, three noncommissioned United States Army officers, including a first sergeant, a platoon sergeant and a senior medic, killed four Iraqi prisoners with pistol shots to the head as the men stood handcuffed and blindfolded beside a Baghdad canal, two of the soldiers said in sworn statements.

After the killings, the first sergeant — the senior noncommissioned officer of his Army company — told the other two to remove the men’s bloody blindfolds and plastic handcuffs, according to the statements made to Army investigators, which were obtained by The New York Times.

The statements and other court documents were provided by a person close to one of the soldiers in the unit who insisted on anonymity and who has an interest in the outcome of the legal proceedings.

After removing the blindfolds and handcuffs, the three soldiers shoved the four bodies into the canal, rejoined other members of their unit waiting in nearby vehicles and drove back to their combat outpost in southwest Baghdad, the statements said.

The soldiers, all from Company D, First Battalion, Second Infantry, 172nd Infantry Brigade, have not been charged with a crime. However, lawyers representing other members of the platoon who said they witnessed or heard the shootings, which were said to have occurred on a combat patrol west of Baghdad, said all three would probably be charged with murder.

The accounts of and confessions to the killings, by Sgt. First Class Joseph P. Mayo, the platoon sergeant, and Sgt. Michael P. Leahy Jr., Company D’s senior medic and an acting squad leader, were made in January in signed statements to Army investigators in Schweinfurt, Germany.

In their statements, Sergeants Mayo and Leahy each described killing at least one of the Iraqi detainees on instructions from First Sgt. John E. Hatley, who the soldiers said killed two of the detainees with pistol shots to the back of their heads. Sergeant Hatley’s civilian lawyer in Germany, David Court, did not respond to phone calls and e-mail messages Tuesday.

Last month, four other soldiers from Sergeant Hatley’s unit were charged with murder conspiracy for agreeing to go along with the plan to kill the four prisoners, in violation of military laws that forbid harming enemy combatants once they are disarmed and in custody.

In an Army evidentiary hearing on Tuesday in Vilseck, Germany, two of those soldiers — Specialists Steven A. Ribordy and Belmor G. Ramos — invoked their right against self-incrimination. Reached by telephone, James D. Culp, a civilian lawyer for one of the other two soldiers charged, Staff Sgt. Jess C. Cunningham, declined to comment. A lawyer for the fourth soldier, Sgt. Charles P. Quigley, could not be reached.

In their sworn statements, Sergeants Mayo and Leahy described the events that preceded the shooting of the Iraqi men, who apparently were Shiite fighters linked to the Mahdi Army militia, which controlled the West Rashid area of southwest Baghdad.

After taking small-arms fire, the patrol chased some men into a building, arresting them and finding several automatic weapons, grenades and a sniper rifle, they said. On the way to their combat outpost, Sergeant Hatley’s convoy was informed by Army superiors that the evidence to detain the Iraqis was insufficient, Sergeant Leahy said in his statement. The unit was told to release the men, according to the statement.

“First Sergeant Hatley then made the call to take the detainees to a canal and kill them,” Sergeant Leahy said, as retribution for the deaths of two soldiers from the unit: Staff Sgt. Karl O. Soto-Pinedo, who died from a sniper’s bullet, and Specialist Marieo Guerrero, killed by a roadside bomb.

“So the patrol went to the canal, and First Sergeant, Sgt. First Class Mayo and I took the detainees out of the back of the Bradley, lined them up and shot them,” Sergeant Leahy said, referring to a Bradley fighting vehicle. “We then pushed the bodies into the canal and left.”

Sergeant Mayo, in his statement, attributed his decision to kill the men to “anger,” apparently at the recent deaths of his two comrades.

Sergeant Leahy, in his statement, said, “I’m ashamed of what I’ve done,” later adding: “When I did it, I thought I was doing it for my family. Now I realize that I’m hurting my family more now than if I wouldn’t have done it.”


2) Cities Debate Privatizing Public Infrastructure
August 27, 2008

Cleaning up road kill and maintaining runways may not sound like cutting-edge investments. But banks and funds with big money seem to think so.

Reeling from more exotic investments that imploded during the credit crisis, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse are among the investors who have amassed an estimated $250 billion war chest — much of it raised in the last two years — to finance a tidal wave of infrastructure projects in the United States and overseas.

Their strategy is gaining steam in the United States as federal, state and local governments previously wary of private funds struggle under mounting deficits that have curbed their ability to improve crumbling roads, bridges and even airports with taxpayer money.

With politicians like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California warning of a national infrastructure crisis, public resistance to private financing may start to ease.

“Budget gaps are starting to increase the viability of public-private partnerships,” said Norman Y. Mineta, a former secretary of transportation who was recently hired by Credit Suisse as a senior adviser to such deals.

This fall, Midway Airport of Chicago could become the first to pass into the hands of private investors. Just outside the nation’s capital, a $1.9 billion public-private partnership will finance new high-occupancy toll lanes around Washington. This week, Florida gave the green light to six groups that included JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers and the Carlyle Group to bid for a 50- to 75 -year lease on Alligator Alley, a toll road known for sightings of sleeping alligators that stretches 78 miles down I-75 in South Florida.

Until recently, the use of private funds to build and manage large-scale American infrastructure assets was slow to take root. States and towns could raise taxes and user fees or turn to the municipal bond market.

Americans have also been wary of foreign investors, who were among the first to this market, taking over their prized roads and bridges. When Macquarie of Australia and Cintra of Spain, two foreign funds with large portfolios of international investments, snapped up leases to the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road, “people said ‘hold it, we don’t want our infrastructure owned by foreigners,’ ” Mr. Mineta said.

And then there is the odd romance between Americans and their roads: they do not want anyone other than the government owning them. The specter of investors reaping huge fees by financing assets like the Pennsylvania Turnpike also touches a raw nerve among taxpayers, who already feel they are paying top dollar for the government to maintain roads and bridges.

And with good reason: Private investors recoup their money by maximizing revenue — either making the infrastructure better to allow for more cars, for example, or by raising tolls. (Concession agreements dictate everything from toll increases to the amount of time dead animals can remain on the road before being cleared.)

Politicians have often supported the civic outcry: in the spring of 2007, James L. Oberstar of Minnesota, chairman of the House Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, warned that his panel would “work to undo” any public-private partnership deals that failed to protect the public interest.

And labor unions have been quick to point out that investment funds stand to reap handsome fees from the crisis in infrastructure. “Our concern is that some sources of financing see this as a quick opportunity to make money,” Stephen Abrecht, director of the Capital Stewardship Program at the Service Employees International Union, said.

But in a world in which governments view infrastructure as a way to manage growth and raise productivity through the efficient movement of goods and people, an eroding economy has forced politicians to take another look.

“There’s a huge opportunity that the U.S. public sector is in danger of losing,” says Markus J. Pressdee, head of infrastructure investment banking at Credit Suisse. “It thinks there is a boatload of capital and when it is politically convenient it will be able to take advantage of it. But the capital is going into infrastructure assets available today around the world, and not waiting for projects the U.S., the public sector, may sponsor in the future.”

Traditionally, the federal government played a major role in developing the nation’s transportation backbone: Thomas Jefferson built canals and roads in the 1800s, Theodore Roosevelt expanded power generation in the early 1900s. In the 1950s Dwight Eisenhower oversaw the building of the interstate highway system.

But since the early 1990s, the United States has had no comprehensive transportation development, and responsibilities were pushed off to states, municipalities and metropolitan planning organizations. “Look at the physical neglect — crumbling bridges, the issue of energy security, environmental concerns,” said Robert Puentes of the Brookings Institution. “It’s more relevant than ever and we have no vision.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the United States needs to invest at least $1.6 trillion over the next five years to maintain and expand its infrastructure. Last year, the Federal Highway Administration deemed 72,000 bridges, or more than 12 percent of the country’s total, “structurally deficient.” But the funds to fix them are shrinking: by the end of this year, the Highway Trust Fund will have a several billion dollar deficit.

“We are facing an infrastructure crisis in this country that threatens our status as an economic superpower, and threatens the health and safety of the people we serve,” New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told Congress this year. In January he joined forces with Mr. Schwarzenegger and Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania to start a nonprofit group to raise awareness about the problem.

Some American pension funds see an investment opportunity. “Our infrastructure is crumbling, from bridges in Minnesota to our airports and freeways,” said Christopher Ailman, the head of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. His board recently authorized up to about $800 million to invest in infrastructure projects. Nearby, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, with coffers totaling $234 billion, has earmarked $7 billion for infrastructure investments through 2010. The Washington State Investment Board has allocated 5 percent of its fund to such investments.

Some foreign pension funds that jumped into the game early have already reaped rewards: The $52 billion Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System saw a 12.4 percent return last year on a $5 billion infrastructure investment pool, above the benchmark 9.9 percent though down from 14 percent in 2006.

“People are creating a new asset class,” said Anne Valentine Andrews, head of portfolio strategy at Morgan Stanley Infrastructure. “You can see and understand the businesses involved — for example, ships come into the port, unload containers, reload containers and leave,” she said. “There’s no black box.”

The prospect of steady returns has drawn high-flying investors like Kohlberg Kravis and Morgan Stanley to the table. “Ten to 20 years from now infrastructure could be larger than real estate,” said Mark Weisdorf, head of infrastructure investments at JPMorgan. In 2006 and 2007, more than $500 billion worth of commercial real estate deals were done.

The pace of recent work is encouraging, says Robert Poole, director of transportation studies at the Reason Foundation, pointing to projects like the high-occupancy toll, or HOT, lanes outside Washington. “The fact that the private sector raised $1.4 billion for the Beltway project shows that even projects like HOT lanes that are considered high risk can be developed and financed privately and that has huge implications for other large metro areas,” he said .

Yet if the flow of money is fast, the return on these investments can be a waiting game. Washington’s HOT lanes project took six years to build after Fluor Enterprises, one of the two private companies financing part of the project, made an unsolicited bid in 2002. The privatization of Chicago’s Midway Airport was part of a pilot program adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1996 to allow five domestic airports to be privatized. Twelve years later only one airport has met that goal — Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y. — and it was sold back to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

For many politicians, privatization also remains a painful process. Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, faced a severe backlash when he collected $3.8 billion for a 75- year lease of the Indiana Toll Road. A popular bumper sticker in Indiana reads “Keep the toll road, lease Mitch.”

Joe Dear, executive director of the Washington State Investment Board, still wonders how quickly governments will move. “Will all public agencies think it’s worth the extra return private capital will demand?” he asked. “That’s unclear.”


3) More People Living Below Poverty Line
Filed at 9:49 a.m. ET
August 27, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank said on Tuesday more people are living in extreme poverty in developing countries than previously thought as it adjusted the recognized yardstick for measuring global poverty to $1.25 a day from $1.

The poverty-fighting institution said there were 1.4 billion people -- a quarter of the developing world -- living in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day in 2005. Last year, the World Bank said there were 1 billion people living under the previous $1 a day poverty mark.

The new figures are likely to put fresh pressure on big donor countries to move more aggressively to combat global poverty, and on countries to introduce more-effective policies to help lift the poorest.

Even so, the new estimates show how progress has been made in helping the poor over the past 25 years. In 1981, 1.9 billion people were living below the new $1.25 a day poverty line.

The new estimates are based on updated global price data, and the revision to the poverty line shows the cost of living in the developing world is higher than had been thought. The data is based on 675 household surveys in 116 countries.

"These new estimates are a major advance in poverty measurements because they are based on far better price data for assuring that the poverty lines are comparable across countries," said Martin Ravallion, director of the World Bank's Development Research Group.

While the developing world has more poor people than previously believed, the World Bank's new chief economist, Justin Lin, said the world was still on target to meet a United Nations goal of halving the number of people in poverty by 2015.

However, excluding China from overall calculations, the world fails to meet the U.N. poverty targets, Lin said.

The World Bank data shows that the number of people living below the $1.25 a day poverty line fell over nearly 25 years to 26 percent in 2005 from 52 percent in 1981, a decline on average of about 1 percent a year, he said.

Lin said the new poverty data meant there was no room for complacency and added that rich donor nations need to keep their promises of stepped-up aid to poor countries.

"The sobering news that poverty is more pervasive than we thought means we must redouble our efforts, especially in sub-Saharan Africa," said Lin, a leading Chinese academic.

The new figures come ahead of an updated assessment of progress in meeting the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals, which will released late next month at a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

While most of the developing world has managed to reduce poverty, the rate in sub-Saharan Africa, the world's poorest region, has not changed in nearly 25 years, according to data using the new $1.25 a day poverty line.

Half of the people in sub-Saharan Africa were living below the poverty line in 2005, the same as in 1981. That means about 380 million people lived under the poverty line in 2005, compared with 200 million in 1981.


Elsewhere, poverty has declined.

In East Asia, which includes China, the poverty rate fell to 18 percent in 2005 from almost 80 percent in 1981, when it was the poorest region. In China, the number of people in poverty fell to 207 million from 835 million in 1981.

In South Asia, the poverty rate fell from 60 percent to 40 percent between 1981 and 2005, but that was not enough to bring down the total number of poor in the region, which stood at 600 million in 2005.

In India, the number of people below the $1.25 a day poverty line increased to 455 million in 2005 from 420 million people in 1981. But the share of the population in poverty fell to 42 percent from 60 percent.

The World Bank noted that better-off countries have higher poverty lines and said it was more appropriate in regions such as Latin America and Eastern Europe to use a $2 a day rate.

The bank has estimated that 100 million people could fall into extreme poverty due to soaring food and energy prices. But Ravallion said it will take up to two years before there is clarity on the impact that soaring costs have had on poverty.

However, he said early indications from survey data "are pretty convincing that we're going to see increases in poverty as a result of food and fuel prices."

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton. Editing by Dan Grebler)


4) U.S. Killed 90, Including 60 Children, in Afghan Village, U.N. Finds
August 27, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations human rights team has found “convincing evidence” that 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in airstrikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, according to the United Nations mission in Kabul.

If the assertion proves to be correct, this would almost certainly be the deadliest case of civilian casualties caused by any United States military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.

The United Nations statement adds pressure to the United States military, which maintains that 25 militants and 5 civilians were killed in the airstrikes, but has ordered an investigation after Afghan officials reported the higher civilian death toll.

The United Nations team visited the scene and interviewed survivors and local officials and elders, getting a name, age and gender of each person reported killed. The team reported that 15 people had been wounded in the airstrikes.

The numbers closely match those given by a government commission sent from Kabul to investigate the bombing, which put the total dead at up to 95.

Mohammad Iqbal Safi, the head of the parliamentary defense committee and a member of the government commission, said the 60 children were 3 months old to 16 years old, all killed as they slept. “It was a heartbreaking scene,” he said.

The death toll may rise higher, because heavy lifting equipment is needed to uncover all the remains, said one Western official who had seen the United Nations report.

“This is a matter of grave concern to the United Nations,” Kai Eide, the United Nations special representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement. “It is vital that the international and Afghan military forces thoroughly review the conduct of this operation in order to prevent a repeat of this tragic incident.”

The bombing occurred around midnight, the United Nations statement said. “Foreign and Afghan military personnel entered the village of Nawabad in the Azizabad area of Shindand district,” it said. “Military operations lasted several hours during which airstrikes were called in.

“The destruction from aerial bombardment was clearly evident,” the statement said, with seven or eight houses “having been totally destroyed and serious damage to many others.”

Mr. Safi, the member of Parliament, said the villagers had been preparing for a ceremony the next morning in memory of a man who died some time before. Extended families from two tribes were visiting the village, and there were lights of fires as the adults cooked food for the ceremony, he said.

How the military came to call in airstrikes on a civilian gathering is unclear. Two members of Parliament, Mr. Safi and Maulavi Gul Ahmad, who is from the area, said the villagers blamed tribal enemies for giving the military false intelligence on foreign fighters gathering in the village.

Mr. Ahmad blamed United States Special Forces, who are training the Afghan Army and were present in the joint operation. “I can’t blame the Afghan National Army for the incident, as they had no authority for leading the operation,” he said.

The government commission met with the commander of United States forces in Herat Province, but he declined to answer their questions, saying the United States military was conducting its own investigation, Afghan government officials said.

The Defense Department said it would not have a separate statement on the bombing beyond the one issued by the American military headquarters in Afghanistan. That statement said in part that the operation killed 25 militants, including a Taliban commander, Mullah Sadiq, and 5 “noncombatants.”

The report said, “Coalition forces are aware of allegations that the engagement in the Shindand district of Herat Province, Friday, may have resulted in civilian casualties apart from those already reported.”

Russia, at odds with the United States and much of the West over its recognition of two breakaway regions in Georgia, on Tuesday circulated at the United Nations a draft of a document known as a “Security Council press statement” about the airstrike and the civilian casualties that said member nations “strongly deplore the fact that this is not the first incident of this kind,” The Associated Press reported.

The draft, obtained by The A.P., notes “that killing and maiming of civilians is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law” and asks for measures to ensure protection of civilians.

The operation in Afghanistan came almost a year after a strike on a village by United States Special Forces in the same district, which caused the American commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan at the time, Gen. Dan K. McNeill, to recommend a review of American and NATO rules of engagement.

Over the next six months, there was a drop in aerial bombing and civilian casualties in Afghanistan, but the toll increased again with the rise in insurgent activity this summer, as General McNeill handed off authority to the new American commander, Gen. David McKiernan.

Abdul Waheed Wafa contributed reporting.


5) Nearly 600 Were Arrested in Factory Raid, Officials Say
"Officials said 475 of the immigrants were immediately taken by bus to a detention center in the central Louisiana town of Jena and would face deportation."
August 27, 2008

Federal officials on Tuesday revised upward to 595 the number of suspected illegal immigrants arrested this week in a raid on a Laurel, Miss., factory, making it the largest immigration crackdown on a United States workplace in recent years.

On Monday, the day of the raid, officials said at least 350 people had been arrested.

Officials said 475 of the immigrants were immediately taken by bus to a detention center in the central Louisiana town of Jena and would face deportation. At least eight appeared in federal court in Hattiesburg, Miss., on Tuesday, where they faced criminal charges of aggravated identity theft, which usually means stealing a Social Security number or using a false address.

Of the 595 arrested, 106 were temporarily released for what Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials called “humanitarian” reasons — because of illness or the need to care for children — though they still face deportation. Nine unaccompanied 17-year-olds were taken into custody by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The relatively low number of criminal cases could represent a shift in government policy, several immigration experts said, particularly in view of the hundreds who were prosecuted and sent to jail after a similar raid at a meatpacking plant at Postville, Iowa, in May.

“I’m going to hope that it is,” said Kathleen C. Walker, a past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. After Postville, “they got a lot of heat from different avenues,” Ms. Walker said, referring to the outcry from advocates over the mass, rapid-fire nature of the criminal proceedings, which took place on the grounds of the National Cattle Congress in Iowa.

But an ICE spokeswoman said some of the 475 could still face criminal charges, and she rejected the suggestion that the government’s policy had changed.

“Absolutely not,” said the spokeswoman, Barbara Gonzalez, in an e-mail message. “In fact it’s the opposite.” She added that more people were being charged with crimes by ICE every year.

A Mississippi immigrants rights group continued Tuesday to criticize the large-scale raid, in which numerous federal immigration agents descended on Howard Industries, a major employer in southern Mississippi and a manufacturer of electrical transformers, among other things. Officials with Howard did not return phone calls Tuesday.

“It’s just horrific,” said Victoria Cintra, an organizer for the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance. “We’ve got two families where the mom and the dad were released with ankle bracelets” — electronic tracking devices — “and they have children. They’ve got bills to pay and kids to feed. We’ve got a woman who is 24, 26 weeks pregnant, and she’s got a husband, brother, father and brother-in-law who were detained.”

One of the workers who appeared in court on Tuesday, Paula Gomez, a native of Mexico who worked at Howard, was accused of using a stolen Social Security number, according to court records.

“Most of the families are not leaving their homes because they are afraid,” said the Rev. Ken Ramon-Landry of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hattiesburg, speaking of family members of those who had been taken away.

The government said it had acted on a tip from a union member, but union officials in Mississippi said they did not know the identity of the tipster. But Robert Shaffer of the Mississippi A.F.L.-C.I.O. said it was “common knowledge” that Howard and other area employers “kind of cater to the undocumented workers.”

“You ask anyone in the Laurel-Hattiesburg area,” Mr. Shaffer said.


6) Foreclosure's hidden victims
James Temple, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, August 15, 2008

(08-14) 21:38 PDT -- In early June, a handwritten note appeared on the front door of Bing Ling Zeng's San Francisco apartment, written in a language she couldn't understand.

"You will be needing to vacate this property soon," it said.

The following month, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. shut off the power. The food in the refrigerator spoiled, forcing Zeng to go out several times a day to buy groceries and milk for her three young children. Her 62-year-old mother-in-law couldn't recharge her electric wheelchair.

Zeng and the other Chinese family sharing the space hadn't fallen behind in their rent or bills. The only thing they did wrong was to lease an apartment from a landlord who fell into foreclosure, an unforeseeable mistake that hundreds are grappling with across San Francisco.

Tenants' groups around the city report a sharp rise in such cases, as lenders repossess growing numbers of local homes. Renters are being told to leave, are living in the dark or are receiving little response to their complaints as their homes fall into disrepair.

State and local laws prohibit landlords from evicting tenants or shutting off utilities in most circumstances like these, but not all renters are aware of the rules, and not all of the entities that take control of properties try to learn them.

"The basic problem is that the people who are acquiring these properties, they don't understand or want to understand that tenants have rights in San Francisco," said Tommi Avicolli Mecca, director of counseling programs at the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. "You can't just go in and tell them to leave, you can't shut off utilities, you can't call the police, you can't do any of that stuff."

He and other tenant advocates and attorneys worry that many renters who aren't aware of these rules are being pressured into handing over their keys.

The issue was virtually unheard of a year ago. The San Francisco Tenants Union had to circulate a memo to its counselors earlier this year because few had ever encountered it before.

The exact number of tenants dealing with the aftermath of a landlord foreclosure is difficult to ascertain. Three tenants groups contacted by The Chronicle reported around 130 cases this year, but most counselors believe that many more tenants aren't contacting the organizations. What is known is that lenders foreclosed on 492 homes in San Francisco during the last year and a half, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

One of those properties was on London Street, in the Excelsior district, where Daniela Medrano has lived with her daughter since 2005. Shortly after the lender repossessed the home in December, an agent with Manhattan Realty Group of South San Francisco, hired to sell the building, told Medrano she had to leave within 30 days, Medrano says.

After she refused, the agent threatened to call the police or sheriff's department, and have them forcibly removed on at least two occasions, Medrano alleges.

Medrano was "completely frustrated," she said through a translator. "I didn't know where to go or who to go to."

Sunny Bali, the owner of Manhattan Realty, said in a prepared statement that the company did approach the tenants and offered relocation expenses if they would leave voluntarily. He denied that any threats were made or notices of eviction issued. He said the tenants became uncooperative after they were asked to leave temporarily so that multiple building code violations, for which the bank was being fined, could be fixed.

"We are aware that they have approached many organizations and agencies and have tried to portray Manhattan Realty Group as this evil company," he said. "Far from true. We have done every thing correctly and diligently, as we always try to do."

Lenders who take back properties or investors who pick up foreclosed homes generally prefer the buildings empty, because that makes them easier to sell. Under San Francisco laws, however, those aren't grounds for an eviction in a rent-controlled building.

Unless tenants have stopped paying rent or otherwise have misbehaved, generally they can be forced out only when a new owner plans to demolish the property, has secured the necessary approvals to convert into it condominiums or plans to move in family members or him or herself, according to the city's rent ordinance. Even then, the owner typically must provide several months' notice and thousands of dollars in relocation costs.

In addition, new owners - a bank, a trustee or otherwise - generally become liable for the same obligations of the previous landlord, said Robert Collins, deputy director of the San Francisco Rent Board. That means that if the original lease said the landlord pays for electricity, as Zeng said was the case for her Excelsior apartment, the company that bought it is responsible now.

Nevertheless, the Zengs' power stayed off for a week. It was switched back on only after the Housing Rights Committee contacted PG&E and tracked down New Vista Asset Management, which took control of the Huron Avenue property, Avicolli Mecca said.

The note left on the door, stating that the families "would be needing to leave soon," was from a real estate agent representing New Vista.

"I left that for them because I knew the bank's ultimate wish is for them to be kicked out," said Frances Medina of Century 22 Real Estate and Mortgage. She stressed that she was "in no way involved in the eviction process."

New Vista of San Diego didn't respond to inquires from The Chronicle.

PG&E spokesman Joe Molica said the utility has a policy to help customers in this situation. Among other things, it posts notices at homes letting tenants know that they can assume utility payments without become liable for the landlord's previous bills, and can deduct that amount from their monthly rent.

"We're more than willing to help our customers who are in difficult situations with their landlords," Molica said.

Even if the law is largely on the tenants' side in these circumstances, relaying the rights of tenants and responsibilities of landlords is a challenge, said Ken Greenstein, partner at San Francisco tenant law firm Greenstein and McDonald.

In an era when mortgages are bundled and sold to investors, just figuring out who owns a property after a foreclosure - and is responsible for duties described in a lease signed years ago - can be difficult. Since investors buying homes often say, in financial documents, that they will live in the homes, , when in fact they plan to rent the properties, it can be hard for the city, new owners or PG&E to know which homes actually are occupied by tenants. And the neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosures are also areas with large immigrant populations, where language barriers and issues of legal status form yet another impediment.

To help bridge the communication gap, the city will soon begin sending letters in multiple languages to tenants in repossessed homes, advising the occupants to contact the Rent Board and housing counseling agencies, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting said. Similarly, Supervisor Tom Ammiano has asked PG&E to find ways of ensuring occupied apartments aren't unplugged after a foreclosure.

In an e-mail, Ammiano said electricity is a basic necessity that all tenants should be able to depend on.

"There has been a lot of talk about the impact of the housing crisis on property owners, however, tenants are the underreported victims," he said. "Unlike homeowners, who know that their home is at risk, renters have no warning before the power is turned off or someone is at the door telling them they need to pack up and move by the next day."

If a renter is harassed into leaving an apartment, or if he or she vacates without receiving the proper amount of notice or relocation money due under local regulations, that person could have a case to sue, Greenstein said. Likewise, when a new owner doesn't pay for or shuts off utilities, the tenant could have grounds to sue under the state civil code, he said.

But tenant protections do have their limits. While Zeng and her family probably can't be evicted by the current owner, she remains worried about what will happen when the building is sold again, as Medina says the company intends to do. The new owners may want to move in, which probably would allow them to begin legitimate eviction proceedings.

"It will be very difficult to find a place we can afford in San Francisco," Zeng said through a translator, adding that rents have increased and landlords often don't want to lease to families with children. "We're very scared that we won't be able to find a new place to live. It makes me very sad."

Help for tenants

If your landlord has been foreclosed on or for more information on tenants' rights in San Francisco, contact:

Housing Rights Committee

427 South Van Ness, S.F. 94103

(415) 703-8634

San Francisco Tenants Union

558 Capp St., S.F. 94110

(415) 282-6622

St. Peter's Housing Committee

474 Valencia St., S.F. 94103

(415) 487-9203

E-mail James Temple at

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle


7) As Arctic Sea Ice Melts, Experts Expect New Low
August 28, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Snow and Ice Data Center has reported that sea ice in the Arctic now covers about 2.03 million square miles. The lowest point since satellite measurements began in 1979 was 1.65 million square miles, last September.

With about three weeks left in the Arctic summer, this year could wind up breaking that record, scientists said.

Arctic ice always melts in summer and refreezes in winter. But over the years, more of the ice is lost to the sea with less of it recovered in winter. While ice reflects the sun’s heat, the open ocean absorbs more heat, and the melting accelerates warming in other parts of the world.

Sea ice also serves as primary habitat for threatened polar bears.

“We could very well be in that quick slide downward in terms of passing a tipping point,” said Mark Serreze, a senior scientist at the data center, in Boulder, Colo. “It’s tipping now. We’re seeing it happen now.”

Five climate scientists, four of them specialists on the Arctic, told The Associated Press that it was fair to call what was happening in the Arctic a “tipping point.”

Last year was an unusual year when wind currents and other weather conditions coincided with global warming to worsen sea ice melt, Dr. Serreze said. Scientists wondered if last year was an unusual event or the start of a new and disturbing trend.

This year’s results suggest the latter because the ice had recovered a bit more than usual thanks to a somewhat cooler winter, Dr. Serreze said. Then this month, when the melting rate usually slows, it sped up instead, he said.

The most recent ice retreat primarily reflects melt in the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska’s northwest coast, and the East Siberian Sea, off the coast of eastern Russia, according to the center.

The Chukchi Sea is home to one of two populations of Alaska polar bears.

Federal observers flying for a whale survey on Aug. 16 spotted nine polar bears swimming in open ocean in the Chukchi. The bears were 15 to 65 miles off the Alaska shore. Some were swimming north, apparently trying to reach the polar ice edge, which on that day was 400 miles away.

Polar bears are powerful swimmers and have been recorded on swims of 100 miles, but the ordeal can leave them exhausted and susceptible to drowning.

And the melt in sea ice has kicked in another effect, long predicted, called “Arctic amplification,” Dr. Serreze said.

That is when the warming up north is increased in a feedback mechanism and the effects spill southward starting in autumn, Dr. Serreze said. Over the last few years, the bigger melt has meant more warm water that releases more heat into the air during fall cooling, making the atmosphere warmer than normal.

On top of that, researchers are investigating “alarming” reports in the last few days of the release of methane from long-frozen Arctic waters, possibly from the warming of the sea, said Bill Hare, a Greenpeace climate scientist, who was attending a climate conference in Ghana. Giant burps of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas, is a long-feared effect of warming in the Arctic that would accelerate warming even more, according to scientists.

Over all, the picture of what is happening in the Arctic is getting worse, said Bob Corell, who headed a multinational scientific assessment of Arctic conditions a few years ago. “We’re moving,” he said, “beyond a point of no return.”


8) Ex-Marine Is Cleared in Killing of Unarmed Iraqi Detainees
August 29, 2008

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A former marine accused of killing unarmed Iraqi detainees was acquitted Thursday of voluntary manslaughter.

The jury took six hours to find the former marine, Jose Luis Nazario Jr., 28, not guilty of charges that he had killed or caused others to kill four unarmed detainees on Nov. 9, 2004, in Falluja, Iraq, during some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The verdict left the defendant in tears. He cried so loudly that the judge smacked his gavel to call for order.

The trial was the first in which a civilian jury had determined whether a former military service member had violated the law of war in combat.

After the verdict was read, a juror, Ingrid Wicken, hugged Mr. Nazario’s sobbing mother, Sandra Montanez, without speaking. “I watched her all week,” Ms. Wicken said later. “She was being tortured every day.”

Ms. Wicken said the panel had acquitted Mr. Nazario because there was not enough evidence against him. “I think you don’t know what goes on in combat until you are in combat,” she said.

Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Nazario had either killed or caused others to kill four unarmed Iraqi detainees in Falluja during an operation that resulted in house-to-house fighting. Other former marines testified during the five-day trial that they had not seen Mr. Nazario kill detainees, but had heard the gunshots.

The case came to light in 2006 when Sgt. Ryan Weemer, Mr. Nazario’s former squad mate, volunteered details to a Secret Service job interviewer during a lie-detector screening. That screening was not admitted at Mr. Nazario’s trial.

Sergeant Weemer and another marine, Sgt. Jermaine Nelson, face military charges of unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty in the case. They maintain their innocence, and were found in contempt of court for refusing to testify against Mr. Nazario.

Had Mr. Nazario been convicted of voluntary manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, he could have faced more than 10 years in prison.

On Wednesday, a federal prosecutor, Jerry Behnke, urged the jury to convict Mr. Nazario, saying he had violated his duty as a marine and had to be held accountable for his actions in Falluja. He said the evidence showed that the detainees had surrendered before the shooting.

Mr. Nazario’s lawyer, Kevin McDermott, told jurors they could not convict Mr. Nazario, a former sergeant, of a crime in which there were no bodies, identities or forensics. He contended that a guilty verdict would only make service members second-guess their actions in combat.

Mr. Nazario is the first former service member brought to trial under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, written in 2000 and amended in 2004 primarily to allow prosecution of civilian contractors who commit crimes while working for the United States overseas. It also allows the prosecution of military dependents and former service members accused of committing crimes outside the United States.


9) In Texas School, Teachers Carry Books and Guns
August 29, 2008

HARROLD, Tex. — Students in this tiny town of grain silos and ranch-style houses spent much of the first couple of days in school this week trying to guess which of their teachers were carrying pistols under their clothes.

“We made fun of them,” said Eric Howard, a 16-year-old high school junior. “Everybody knows everybody here. We will find out.”

The school board in this impoverished rural hamlet in North Texas has drawn national attention with its decision to let some teachers carry concealed weapons, a track no other school in the country has followed. The idea is to ward off a massacre along the lines of what happened at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.

“Our people just don’t want their children to be fish in a bowl,” said David Thweatt, the schools superintendent and driving force behind the policy. “Country people are take-care-of-yourself people. They are not under the illusion that the police are there to protect them.”

Even in Texas, with its tradition of lenient gun laws and frontier justice, the idea of teachers’ taking guns to class has rattled some people and sparked a fiery debate.

Gun-control advocates are wringing their hands, while pro-gun groups are gleeful. Leaders of the state’s major teachers unions have expressed stunned outrage, while the conservative Republican governor, Rick Perry, has endorsed the idea.

In the center of the storm is Mr. Thweatt, a man who describes himself as “a contingency planner,” who believes Americans should be less afraid of protecting themselves and who thinks signs at schools saying “gun-free zone” make them targets for armed attacks. “That’s like saying sic ’em to a dog,” he said.

Mr. Thweatt maintains that having teachers carry guns is a rational response to a real threat. The county sheriff’s office is 17 miles away, he argues, and the district cannot afford to hire police officers, as urban schools in Dallas and Houston do.

The school board decided that teachers with concealed guns were a better form of security than armed peace officers, since an attacker would not know whom to shoot first, Mr. Thweatt said. Teachers have received training from a private security consultant and will use special ammunition designed to prevent ricocheting, he added.

Harrold, about 180 miles northwest of Dallas, is a far cry from the giant districts in major Texas cities, where gang violence is the main concern and most schools have their own police forces. Barely 100 students of all ages attend classes here in two brick buildings built more than 60 years ago. There are two dozen teachers, a handful of buses and a football field bordered by crops.

Yet the town is not isolated in rustic peace, supporters of the plan point out. A four-lane highway runs through town, bringing with it a river of humanity, including criminals, they say. The police recently shut down a drug-producing laboratory in a ramshackle house near school property. Drifters sometimes sleep under the overpass.

“I’m not exactly paranoid,” Mr. Thweatt said. “I like to consider myself prepared.”

Some residents and parents, however, think Mr. Thweatt may be overstating the threat. Many say they rarely lock their doors, much less worry about random drifters with pistols running amok at the school. Longtime residents were hard-pressed to recall a single violent incident there.

Others worry that introducing guns into the classroom might create more problems than it solved. A teacher tussling with a student could lose control of a weapon, or a gun might go off by accident, they said.

“I don’t think there is a place in the school whatsoever for a gun unless you have a police officer in there,” said Bobby G. Brown, a farmer and former school board chairman whose two sons were educated at the school. “I don’t care how much training they have.”

His wife, Diane Brown, added: “There are too many things that could happen. They are not trained to make life-and-death-situation judgments.”

Mr. Thweatt declined to say how many teachers were armed, or who they were, on the theory that it would tip off the bad guys. He also declined to identify the private consultant who provided teachers with about 40 hours of weapons training.

Most critics question whether teachers, even with extra training, are as qualified as police officers to take out an armed attacker.

“We are trained to teach and to educate,” said Zeph Capo, the legislative director for the Houston Association of Teachers. “We are not trained to tame the Wild West.”

Texas gun laws ban the weapons on school property. But the Legislature carved out an exception allowing school boards to permit people with concealed handgun licenses to carry their weapons. No local district had taken advantage of the exception until the Harrold school board acted.

Debbie Ratcliffe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, said the state’s hands were tied. “We have really tried not to get involved in this,” Ms. Ratcliffe said. “Frankly, it’s a matter of local control.”

Gun-control advocates say, however, that while the school district may be complying with state gun laws, it appears to be violating the education statute. That law says “security personnel” authorized to carry weapons on campuses must be “commissioned peace officers,” who undergo police training.

“It seems to us not only an unwise policy but an illegal one,” said Brian Siebel, a lawyer in Washington for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

The school district has countered that teachers are not “security personnel” and so do not need to become peace officers.

As a general rule, the seven school board members — a collection of farmers and oil workers led by an ambulance medic — have referred all questions from reporters to Mr. Thweatt. But one member, Coy Cato, gave a short interview. “In my opinion, it is the best way to protect our kids,” Mr. Cato said. Asked if others in the community shared his view, he said that he had not taken a poll, but “I think so.”

Still, several residents complained that the board made little or no effort to gather public opinion on the matter. Some said they did not hear about the plan until reporters started asking questions about it in early August.

Mr. Thweatt said the board discussed the proposal for nearly two years and considered several options — tranquilizer guns, beanbag guns, Tasers, Mace and armed security guards — but each was found lacking in some way. “We devil-advocated it to death,” Mr. Thweatt said.

That discussion went unnoticed by many parents.

Traci McKay, a 34-year-old restaurant employee, sends three children to the school, yet said she had not heard about the pistol-carrying teachers until two weeks before the start of the semester. She was stunned.

“I should have been informed,” Ms. McKay said. “If something happens, do we really want all these people shooting at each other?”

Ms. McKay said Mr. Thweatt had yet to explain why a town with such a low crime rate needed such measures. She is afraid, however, that her children might face repercussions if she takes up a petition against the idea.

“We are pretty much being told to deal with this or move,” Ms. McKay said.


10) Proposal on Safety at Work Riles Unions
August 30, 2008

The Bush administration on Friday proposed that the Labor Department be required to seek more public comment before adopting rules to protect workers from hazardous chemicals. But instead of applauding the rule, many unions and worker advocates denounced it, saying it would delay federal efforts to protect workers.

“It’s a terrible idea,” said David Michaels, a professor of workplace safety at the George Washington University School of Public Health, who called the proposal “a setback” for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s ability to protect workers from carcinogens and other toxic chemicals.

“It will lead to more delays in setting new standards, and it gives parties that oppose new regulations an opportunity to confuse the regulatory process,” Professor Michaels said.

OSHA currently has to seek public comment whenever it proposes a regulation to protect against hazardous chemicals. Under the new proposal, the agency will have to seek an additional “advance” round of comments on whether a workplace chemical poses a significant risk.

Labor Department officials defended the new rule, saying it would establish consistent procedures and ensure that those responsible for drafting regulations had the best scientific information.

“What we want to do is ensure the department relies on the best data and make sure the public has every opportunity to provide it,” said Leon R. Sequeira, assistant secretary of labor for policy.

Many union officials and Democrats have criticized the proposal as an 11th-hour effort by the Bush administration to hobble the next president in issuing regulations on toxins in the workplace. They point out that under President Bush, OSHA has issued just one major regulation with regard to toxins, and then only under court order.

“What they’re doing is introducing a whole new step to the rule-making process,” said Peg Seminario, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s director of occupational safety and health. “Now, to put out a rule for a complex hazard takes a good eight years. Without question, this will add another year or two.”

Anticipating this new rule, Representative George Miller, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Labor and Education Committee, introduced legislation last month to block the administration from enforcing it.

“In its final months in office, the Bush administration continues to attempt to sneak through significant last-minute regulatory changes at the behest of special interests,” Mr. Miller said in a statement. “For nearly eight years, this administration has consistently failed to respond to the real health and safety threats workers face while on the job. But now they will stop at nothing to rush through significant regulatory changes that are detrimental to average Americans.”

Mr. Sequeira said critics were too quick to attack and see improper motives. He denied that the new requirement would cause additional delay, and noted that OSHA already often solicited such advance comment. The new rule merely makes procedures consistent, he said.

“I’m confused why members of Congress and the self-described experts or critics are criticizing increased public input in the process,” Mr. Sequeira said.

He said the additional step of seeking advance comment — and then reviewing such comments — could be easily integrated into a lengthy rule-making process, without taking additional time.

Randel Johnson, a vice president with the United States Chamber of Commerce, applauded the proposal.

“Whether the risk measures up to the level of risk needed under the law has to be answered before the rule goes forward,” Mr. Johnson said. “You might as well take it in hand early on and seek public comments.”


11) Get Pad and Pen: The School Supply List Is Long
August 30, 2008

Among parents with school-age children, it is known simply as the List.

The one for Myung Kim’s sixth grader in Ardsley, N.Y., ran to 30 items, including three packages of clay and a protractor. In Manhattan, Ellen Schorr’s 9-year-old had hers broken into three categories: “student supplies,” “community supplies” and “materials to have at home.” Increasingly, amid the requisite three-hole punch and colored pencils are items with double-digit price tags — flash drives, scientific calculators and disposable cameras.

And the lists are heavy on hygiene: Lysol, Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, tissues and paper towels, things the custodian or school nurse used to have on hand.

“I’m assuming that 10 boxes of baby wipes is a typo,” said Ms. Schorr, a writer and class parent at Public School 163 on the Upper West Side, where her 5-year-old, Isadora, is starting kindergarten. “I’m not buying 10 boxes.”

As school districts both poor and prosperous struggle to finance such basics as teacher salaries, utilities, building maintenance and textbooks, many are asking parents to purchase more — and more particular — school supplies. Gone are the days when back-to-school shopping meant making sure each child had new shoes and a three-ring binder. Now, according to the New York State School Boards Association, supplies run an average of $100 for high school students and $60 for middle schoolers.

The trend has even touched the toddler cohort. At Eladia’s Kids Child Care Center in Brooklyn, the parents of an 18-month-old were asked to provide, among other things, a backpack, a two-pocket folder (for daily communications and periodic assignments) and special-occasion stickers (“special because they’re from you!”).

Many New York teachers extended their lists this year after the City Council cut the Teacher’s Choice fund, created two decades ago to reimburse teachers for personal spending on classroom supplies, to $13 million from $20 million. Teachers who used to receive an allotment of $240 each now can count on $150.

But opposition to the ever-growing lists has led some school districts to put on the brakes.

In the suburbs of Rochester, the Gates Chili Central School District last year capped the amount that parents were expected to spend on supplies at $10 a child, adding $100,000 to the budget to make up the difference. The sprawling Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, Ky., set a limit this fall of $120 a child for the year, including field trips. At Springhurst Elementary School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., teachers have agreed on a standard list so the parent organization can buy in bulk, handing each family a shrink-wrapped package costing $37 to $44 this week.

“I think we have an obligation to provide a free public education,” said Superintendent Rick Stein of Gates Chili, which has 5,000 students, a third of them poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. “I think a youngster needs to come to school on a level playing field, and it’s much harder for some families to accomplish that than others. Our long-term goal is to get it to zero.”

Amy Ellen Schwartz, director of the Institute for Education and Social Policy at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University, said that the shifting of responsibility for supplies from schools to families reflected two competing ideals in public education: equity and parental involvement.

While many teachers tuck things like paper towels and tissues at the bottom of their lists, under a “donations” heading, Dr. Schwartz cautioned that such optional requests could create an atmosphere of favoritism. “The parents who are most able to provide the resources might garner attention for their children,” she said. “Do we have evidence that this happens? No. Is it far-fetched that it could? No.”

David Albert, a spokesman for the New York State School Boards Association, said the cost of school supplies was “a burgeoning issue right now” because of the weak economy and high fuel and food costs, particularly among poorer families or those with many children. “You hear grumblings from different districts where parents look at these lists of supplies and ask whether they’re all necessary,” he said.

Indeed, many parents interviewed this week expressed frustration not only at the length, specificity and oddball nature of some lists, but also at the inefficiency of asking each parent in a class to buy a single ream of paper when school districts could undoubtedly get discounts for large quantities. Others cringe at seeing the things they searched for on store shelves sit unused.

“I spent $198 last year on supplies, and there are so many markers and highlighters and pencils they don’t use,” said Ms. Kim, the Ardsley mother of two who was shopping in a CVS.

“We barely touched the clay,” added her 12-year-old daughter, Grace, who is going into the seventh grade.

Lisa Deffendall, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky school district that set the $120 limit, said the school board there also banned requiring students to provide communal items like cleaning supplies and copy paper, and asked principals to review all lists. “We wanted to make a commitment to our families that the items you send in with your child are really going to be used by your child,” she said.

At a Staples in Scarsdale, N.Y., the other day, Dee Thompson, a subway conductor and single mother who lives in the Bronx, was fretting over folders for her daughter Nazaria, who won admission to the Salk School of Science, a selective middle school in Gramercy Park. “They’ll say folders, but they have plastic folders, vinyl folders, folders with three holes, and you don’t know what kind they mean,” she said.

Nazaria’s list of 24 items included 8 optional ones marked as “donations.” Among the must-haves were a flash drive, a dictionary, a thesaurus, a scientific calculator and graph-paper composition notebooks — which presented a problem, since Staples had graph-paper pads, but not notebooks. At the top of the list was an additional sticker shock: notice of a $50 lab fee. “I can’t afford a private education for her,” Ms. Thompson said, “so this is my payback.”

Maria Baez, the manager of a laundry service in Brooklyn, spent $125 the other day on supplies for her daughter, Mireya, who is about to start the seventh grade, and still needed to find a calculator — and it had to be by Texas Instruments.

“We need help because it’s a lot of stuff, especially if you have three kids,” said Ms. Baez, who also has a kindergartner and a college student, and was shopping for back-to-school clothes at Cookies in the Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn.

But Ajith Nair, the father of a first grader and a fifth grader in Dobbs Ferry, opted against the elementary school’s prepackaged supplies and headed to a nearby Staples, even though he knew it would most likely cost more. “I love to do this,” he said. “This is something I can do for my kids — to give it a personal touch.”

And Tory Perry, who lives on the Upper West Side with three school-age children, said she did not think the lists were excessive. “It would be wonderful if they were included in the budget, but the reality is that there’s no funding for supplies,” Ms. Perry said as she shopped at Staples on Broadway at 80th Street. “We’re fighting for reduction in class size and really basic things. This is a way of supporting the teacher.”

Teachers themselves say they feel caught in a bind, especially given dwindling resources for supplies from the main office. “I try to limit it,” said Cara Cashman, who teaches first graders at P.S. 280 in Norwood, in the Bronx, referring to her list. “I’ve seen lists that are ridiculous.”

Ms. Cashman, like so many other teachers, spends her own money for supplies, and keeps eyes peeled for specials and giveaways, like the free pocket folders available at most Staples locations through Saturday. (OfficeMax is offering protractors and compasses for a penny from Sunday through Sept. 6.)

Ms. Cashman clutched 28 white pocket folders, one for each of her students, at the Staples store on Central Avenue in Scarsdale. “They had free glue sticks a couple of weeks ago, so I stocked up on glue,” she said.




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

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

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

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

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

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

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




12 year old Ossetian girl tells the truth about Georgia.



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

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

project of BARRIO UNIDO


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

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

Free Robin Long now!
Support GI resistance!

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

What you can do now to support Robin

1. Donate to Robin's legal defense


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

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

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

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

2. Send letters of support to Robin

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

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

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

3. Send Robin a money order for commissary items

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

4. Send Robin a book

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Hanover, VA - July 27, 2008 -

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make a Difference! Call Today!

Call Now!

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

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

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

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

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


Write to Dr. Al-Arian

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

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

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

Email Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace:


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

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

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

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

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

Watch at


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


Alison Bodine defense Committee
Lift the Two-year Ban

Watch the Sept 28 Video on Alison's Case!


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




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

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


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

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




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


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

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

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

—MALCOLM X, 1965


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


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


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


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


Which country should we invade next?


My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup


Michael Moore- The Awful Truth


Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments


Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


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


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


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


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


FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein


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



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

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

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

The link/URL to the website is

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC