Saturday, September 20, 2008




Dear friend,

Please check out and sign this petition to stay the illegal 9-23-08 execution of innocent Brother Mr. Troy Davis.

Thanks again, we'll keep you posted on how things turn out.

The Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
Amnesty International, USA

See Below:

10) What’s the Rush?
Op-Ed Columnist
September 20, 2008


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; ABCs 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.


Keep Military Recruiters OUT of our Schools!

The NO on Proposition V website is now up and running, at


It was on October 11, 2002 that a bi-partisan Congress approved the “Iraq War Resolution” granting the Bush administration authorization to invade Iraq. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2008--exactly six years after Congress unleashed the dogs of war on Iraq--we will be launching a campaign to label San Francisco an antiwar city again this November, 2008.

In 2004 we voted Yes on N to bring the troops home from Iraq Now; in 2005 we voted Yes on I, College Not Combat, to get military recruiters out of our schools; this year we will vote Yes on U to demand that congress vote NO on war spending--a proposition put on the ballot by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors; and No on V, to get the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) military recruitment program out of our schools.

Proposition V, is a pro-JROTC, pro-military recruitment program that is currently being phased our of our schools. Proposition V--to keep the program in the schools--has been put on the ballot with the financial contributions of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Party among many other pro-war contributors with big bucks.

We will assemble at 11:00 A.M. At 24th and Mission Street where flyers and posters for a Yes vote on Prop. U and a No vote on Prop. V will be available for city-wide distribution. We will fan out across the city to distribute the material and talk with our fellow neighbors in the streets about how important it is for these antiwar votes--YES on U; NO on V--to carry. And we hope to keep this campaign going until election day.

While Proposition U--to put an end to war funding--is self-explanatory, the issues surrounding Proposition V have been made less clear by the lies their campaign is telling about the program, i.e., that JROTC does not recruit students to the military, that it teaches leadership skills, that it keeps children from gang activity and that students should have a "choice" to enroll in JROTC at their school.

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

JROTC is a military recruitment program that has already been scheduled for phase-out by June 2009 by the San Francisco Board of Education.

JROTC doesn’t teach students the realities of war: that they are likely to kill civilians, or that they are more likely to die or return from war with devastating mental and physical disabilities than earn college degrees.

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

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

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

We will be outside in the streets October 11 to encourage a resounding NO vote on Proposition V and to join with 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!

Join us in community outreach against the war Saturday, October 11, 11:00-3:00 P.M., 24th and Mission Streets, San Francisco

For information on other actions taking place around the country against the war go to:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


National Assembly

Open Letter to the Anti-War 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

National Assembly’s Continuations Body (in formation):
Beth Adams, Connecticut River Valley Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Zaineb Alani, Author of The Words of an Iraqi War Survivor & More; Alexis Baden-Mayer, Grassroots Netroots Alliance; Steve Bloom, Solidarity; Michael Carano, Progressive Democrats of America/Ohio Branch; Jim Ciocia, AFSCME Staff Representative; Colia Clark, Chair, Richard Wright Centennial Committee; Grandmothers for Mumia Abu-Jamal; Greg Coleridge, Coordinator, Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC) and Economic Justice and Empowerment Program Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (AFSC); Victor Crews, Wasatach Coalition for Peace and Justice (of Northern Utah); Alan Dale, Iraq Peace Action Coalition (MN); Donna Dewitt, President, South Carolina AFL-CIO*, Representing U.S. Labor Against the War on the Continuations Body; Jamilla El-Shafei, Founder, Kennebunks Peace Department; Co-Founder and Organizer, Stop-Loss Congress; Mike Ferner, Secretary, Veterans for Peace; Paul George, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center; Jerry Gordon, Former National Co-Coordinator of the Vietnam-era National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC) and Member, U.S. Labor Against the War Steering Committee; John Harris, Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition; Jonathan Hutto, Navy Petty Officer; Author of Anti-War Soldier; Co-Founder of Appeal for Redress; Tom Lacey, California Peace and Freedom Party; Marilyn Levin, Coordinating Committee, Greater Boston United for Justice with Peace, Middle East Crisis Coalition; Joe Lombardo, Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, Northeast Peace and Justice Coalition; Jeff Mackler, Founder, San Francisco Mobilization for Peace, Jobs and Justice; Christine Marie, Socialist Action; Logan Martinez, Green party of Ohio; Fred Mason, President, Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO and Co-Convenor, U.S. Labor Against the War; Atlee McFellin, Students for a Democratic Society, New School University Chapter, New York; Mary Nichols-Rhodes, Progressive Democrats of America/Ohio Branch; Northland Anti-War Coalition; Bill Onasch, Kansas City Labor Against the War; John Peterson, National Secretary, Workers International League; Dan Piper, CT United for Peace; Millie Phillips, Socialist Organizer; Andy Pollack, Adalah/NY; Adam Ritscher, United Steelworkers Local 9460*; Carole Seligman, Active in Campaign to Get Junior ROTC Out of San Francisco Schools; Peter Shell, Thomas Merton Center Antiwar Committee, Pittsburgh; Mark Stahl, Rhode Island Mobilization Committee to Stop War and Occupation; Lynne Stewart, Lynne Stewart Organization/Long Time Attorney and Defender of Constitutional Rights; Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War

Other endorsers (list in formation):
Haidar Abushaqra, Palestine American Congress,* CT; Adalah-NY; Campus Antiwar Network; Andy Anderson, Veterans for Peace, Duluth, MN; Jeff Anderson, Duluth, MN City Councilor; Kathy Anderson, Cuba Solidarity Committee, Duluth, MN; Arlington/Lexington (MA) United for Justice with Peace; Bay Area United Against War; Prof. Hal Bertilson, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Network of Spiritual Progressives; Scott Bol, Northeast Minnesota Citizens Federation; Heather Bradford, Co-Founder, College of St. Scholastica Students Against War, Superior, WI; Chicago Labor against the War; Coalition for Justice in the Middle East; Connecticut Coalition for Peace and Justice; CT River Valley Chapter, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; CT United for Peace; Every Church a Church of Peace; Sharla Gardner, Duluth, MN City Councilor; Sam Goodall, Positively 3rd Street Bakery, Duluth, MN; Grandmothers for Peace, Duluth, MN; Greater Boston Stop the War Coalition; Sadie Green, Teamsters Local 391, Duluth, MN; Jeannie Gugliermino, Middletown Alliance for Peace,* Middletown, CT; Rose Helin, Founder, University of Wisconsin-Superior Students Against War; Melissa Helman, former School of the Americas (SOA) protest prisoner of conscience, Ashland, WI; Iraq Peace Action Coalition (MN); Jeni Johnson, former news editor, Promethean newspaper, Superior, WI; Laurie Johnson, AFSCME Council 5 Business Representative, Duluth, MN; Kansas City Labor Against War; Lake Superior Greens, Superior, WI; Joan Linski, UNITE HERE Local 99; Loaves and Fishes, Catholic Worker Community; Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO; Dorotea Manuela -- Chair, New Mission High School Governing Board*, Co-Chair Boston Rosa Parks Human Rights Committee*; Co-Coordinator Rapid Response Network/Boston May Day Coalition*; Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal/Northern California; Tess Moren, University of Wisconsin -Superior International Peace Studies Student Association; Michelle Naar-Obed, Christian Peacemakers Team; Network of Spiritual Progressives, Duluth, MN Chapter; Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC); Northland Anti-War Coalition, Duluth, MN; Frank O'Gorman, People of Faith,* Hartford, CT; Ohio State Labor Party; Cheryl Olson, Grandmothers for Peace, Superior, WI; Lyn Clark Pegg, Witness for Peace, Duluth, MN; Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Palo Alto, CA.; June Pinken, Manchester Peace Coalition,* Manchester, CT; Helen Raisz, Womens' International League for Peace and Freedom,* Hartford, CT; Rhode Island Committee to Stop War and Occupation; Lorena Rodriguez, International Partnership Coordinator of the Student Trade Justice Campaign, Chicago, IL; Mike Rogge, Co-Founder, College of St. Scholastica Students Against War, Superior, WI; Lucy Rosenblatt, We Refuse to Be Enemies,* Hartford, CT; Ahlam Shalhout, author, Recovering Stolen Memories, New London, CT; Socialist Organizer; Socialist Party of Connecticut; Solidarity; Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC); U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW); Veterans for Peace, Chapter 80, Duluth, MN; Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice of Northern Utah; Steve Wick, President, University of Minnesota- Duluth Students for Peace; Mike Winterfield, We Refuse to Be Enemies,* Hartford, CT; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom/Pittsburgh; Workers International League

* indicates for identification only

National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations




1) Capitol Strives to Define ‘Homeless’
September 16, 2008

2) Selling Ice Cream, With Sprinkles of Anarchism
By Corey Kilgannon
September 16, 2008, 1:01 pm

3) Fed’s $85 Billion Loan Rescues Insurer
September 17, 2008

4) Gates Apologizes for Afghan Deaths
September 18, 2008

5) Pakistanis Tell of New U.S. Missile Strike
September 18, 2008

6) Abroad, Bailout Is Seen as a Detour From Capitalism
September 18, 2008

By: Allan Acevedo, Staff Columnist
Posted: 9/11/08

8) Worst Crisis Since '30s, With No End Yet in Sight
* SEPTEMBER 18, 2008

9)The Market and the Terminator Machines
America's Own Kleptocracy
Weekend Edition, September 20 / 21, 2008

10) What’s the Rush?
Op-Ed Columnist
September 20, 2008

11) Hard Truths About the Bailout
September 20, 2008

12) Crisis Endgame
Op-Ed Columnist
September 19, 2008

13) But Will It Work?
News Analysis
September 21, 2008

14) Iraqis Protest Deadly Raid by U.S. on Village
September 20, 2008

15) Behind Closed Doors, Warnings of Calamity
September 20, 2008

16) Despite New Law, Subsidized Tenants Find Doors Closed
September 20, 2008


1) Capitol Strives to Define ‘Homeless’
September 16, 2008

WASHINGTON — With unemployment and foreclosures rising and growing numbers of families struggling to find affordable housing, lawmakers in Congress are debating who should be considered homeless.

For more than 20 years, federal housing law has counted as homeless only people living on the streets or in shelters. But now the House and the Senate are considering an expansion of the definition to include people precariously housed: those doubled up with friends or relatives or living day to day in motels, with money and options running out.

In the House, which is expected to vote on the issue this month, lawmakers are discussing whether to expand the definition to include about a million additional people — a subset within the group of children and their families in desperate need of stable housing — or to add a much smaller group that would include only people fleeing their homes because of domestic violence and those who can prove they will lose their housing within 14 days.

The Senate is considering a still narrower expansion that would include only those forced to move three times in one year or twice in 21 days. Congressional aides say senators are willing to expand the definition further in consultations with the House that are now under way, but the Senate legislation is not expected to pass before lawmakers recess this month.

The outcome of the discussions will most likely broaden the categories of people eligible for emergency shelter, housing and other services provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s $1.7 billion budget for the homeless, which accounts for most federal spending on homelessness. Bush administration officials support the narrow expansion under consideration in the House.

But none of the bills come with any additional financing. And with too few shelter beds and services available to help the homeless who are already living on the streets, the debate over whether to expand significantly the pool of people eligible for such limited aid has sharply divided advocates for the homeless and upended political alliances.

In the House, Democratic leaders who pride themselves on their commitment to the poor find themselves arguing that there is simply too little money available to accommodate a broad expansion of the definition, and too little time left in the current Congress to accommodate any realistic expectation that new money can be added.

Some House Republicans, meanwhile, accuse the Democrats of turning their backs on hundreds of thousands of struggling families who are forced to move from couch to couch and from house to house to keep a roof over their heads.

Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the House Financial Services Committee, said, “It’s one of the saddest things that we deal with, and it’s entirely the result of inadequate funding.”

“When there’s not enough money to cover ‘all of the above,’ you have to do priorities,” Mr. Frank said. “The question is, Which category of people are you going to leave unhelped?”

He and other Democrats blame President Bush and Republicans in Congress, saying they have directed critical resources toward tax cuts and the war in Iraq instead of making programs for the poor a priority.

Still, Mr. Frank has promised to keep negotiating with Republicans to reach agreement on a definition before the bill goes to a vote. And to help ease the strain where strict definition intersects with limited federal money, the bill would also give communities some flexibility in spending those dollars on people who do not meet the definition.

The issue is particularly complicated because HUD’s narrow definition of homelessness is not the only one used by the government. The Education Department, for instance, which assists homeless students, counts as homeless those children who live doubled up with other families or in motels.

In the 2006-7 school year, the Education Department categorized 688,174 children as homeless. But only 32 percent of those children lived in shelters or outdoors. The rest failed to meet HUD’s criteria for homelessness and so were ineligible to receive emergency shelter or priority on waiting lists for public or subsidized housing.

Several advocacy groups, including the National Coalition for the Homeless, argue that the HUD definition should more closely mirror the Education Department’s. Their efforts have been championed by two House Republicans, Representatives Judy Biggert of Illinois and Geoff Davis of Kentucky, who would like those children identified as homeless by the Education Department or other federal agencies to be eligible for HUD’s homelessness services.

These advocates note that many families live in communities where shelters are full or nonexistent. In other places, some say, shelters sometimes bar large families, families with two parents or those with boys older than 10.

“I think we have to take care of our most vulnerable,” Ms. Biggert said. “Shouldn’t children as well as the others be a priority?”

Barbara Duffield, policy director at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, echoed those concerns. “This is really about our nation acknowledging the extent of the housing crisis and the devastation it wreaks on children, youth and family,” she said. “The housing crisis is bigger than the emergency system put in place to address it 20 years ago.”

Opponents of a broad expansion of the definition counter that demand for shelter beds already exceeds supply. About 700,000 people live in shelters or on the streets on any given day, housing officials say. But federal dollars finance only 170,000 beds.

Some advocates also fear that communities would shift resources from single, mentally ill or addicted people to doubled-up families who were newly classified as homeless. Such families are typically easier to serve and politically more appealing.

“Nobody thinks that these families are having an easy time of it,” said Steve Berg, vice president for programs and policy at the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “But when push comes to shove, when you’ve got people in apartments and people in shelters and on the streets, the people in the latter group need the help more.”

No one knows precisely how many additional families would be helped by the modest expansion proposals under consideration in Congress, particularly since in practice, HUD already allows for a bit more than the current definition: it permits families who are doubled up to be considered homeless if they can show that they will be losing their housing within seven days.

Whatever the number, “we need to deal with the most desperate the best that we can and keep working” toward greater expansion, said Representative Maxine Waters, the California Democrat who heads the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity. “We don’t want to create competition and have people at each other’s throats for limited space.”


2) Selling Ice Cream, With Sprinkles of Anarchism
By Corey Kilgannon
September 16, 2008, 1:01 pm

There was something odd about the ice cream truck that pulled up to the curb on Park Avenue near 67th Street on Friday, with its proletarian color scheme and its overdressed driver with the subversive grin.

He was offering free ice cream in the middle of a rainstorm. The ice cream flavors were fudge, cherry, grape and tropical. But the right side of the menu offered flavors like Know Your Rights, Anarchy, Protest Tips, Black Panthers and Graffiti Liberation. There were also fact sheets on Halliburton and the Patriot Act.

Inside, the ice cream shared freezer space with emergency gas masks, and the condiment shelves held equipment for protesters at demonstrations to use when confronted by the police. The ice cream inventory is limited, because cabinets are used to store rolls of film for documenting police action, Ibuprofen for billy-club headaches and rain ponchos in case of fire hoses and water cannons. There were pepper spray treatment kits and the counter-weapon of choice: water balloons. There is an ample supply of work gloves.

“These are for throwing tear-gas canisters back at police so you don’t burn your hands,” explained the driver, Aaron Gach, 34, who wore a skinny bow tie and black-and-white wing tips, and a uniform with “Art” on the name tag and the words “Tactical Ice Cream Unit” on his white captain’s hat. He was not wearing his usual big fake mustache.

Mr. Gach calls the Anarchist Ice Cream Truck “the alter ego of a police mobile command unit.” Mr. Gach is a co-founder of the Center for Tactical Magic, an arts group based in Oakland, Calif., that advocates “positive social transformation” and “actively addressing power on individual, communal and transnational fronts.” The group says it uses tactics taken from “the ways of the artist, the magician, the ninja, and the private investigator.”

The truck distributes literature developed by neighborhood progressive groups and works to “confront the rhetoric of ‘Big Brother’” and “provoke thought about political engagement,” according to Mr. Gach. It is appearing this week around New York City and will be on display next week at the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, as part of a weeklong exhibition called Democracy in America: The National Campaign, featuring dozens of artists’ works. It is produced by the armory and the arts group Creative Time.

The truck is the perfect tool for monitoring police action at a demonstration, and protecting and replenishing protesters, Mr. Gach said. The ice cream attracts protesters and even some police. Often the police wave them through blockades, fooled by the truck.

There is a police scanner on the dashboard, and there is a GPS unit, and the cameras are digitally recorded and can broadcast the video to media outlets, in case of a newsworthy demonstration, or police action, Mr. Gach said.

Since it first took to the streets in 2005, the truck has been across the country (never before to New York), stopping a various events. Sometimes it is on the perimeter of demonstrations, and sometimes helping conduct them. Mr. Gach said he has never been arrested, but has had many standoffs with the police. Customs officials have searched the freezers at borders, and at one demonstration, undercover officers asked him if he was distributing weapons and explosives to demonstrators.

In Vancouver, he said, he was pulled over by Canadian Mounties who wanted to search the vehicle but finally relented after Mr. Gach insisted on his rights to privacy.

“They got no ice cream,” he said, smiling.

In Riverside, Calif., he said, the police threw a man to the ground, but stopped roughing him up after a member of the Tactical Ice Cream Unit ran out with a video camera and informed the officers that he and the truck were filming them.

Mr. Gach said, “At a demonstration in Chicago, the police told us, ‘You can’t sell ice cream here — it’s a protest.’”

Inside, the truck is done in sleek red upholstery, and there is a repeating loop of dance tunes and musical samples with ice cream themes. There is a poster on the truck condemning war. The freezer bears the socialist-looking insignia showing a fist thrust in front of a red star, holding an ice cream cone with a cherry and a lighted fuse.

Tacked above it was a flier — “Free the San Francisco 8” and “Resist the police state” — and a lyric sheet for protesters. Mr. Gach sat in front of a bank of screens and a laptop showing a radar sweep of the area. The truck has 16 surveillance cameras and ultrasensitive microphones monitoring the exterior.

Somehow, all of these surveillance tools managed to miss the parking agent that slapped a ticket on the truck almost as soon as it arrived. Another blow in the fight against “The Man” — a $115 penalty for parking in a No Standing zone.

Elizabeth Winn, 31, a counselor at a neighborhood homeless shelter, walked up to the truck seeking ice cream, but became interested in the literature. Asked about her political activism, she said she was interested in sweat shop conditions and keeping “Wal-Mart out of New York.” She suggested to Mr. Gach that he would get more interest in places like Williamsburg, Brooklyn, than the Upper East Side.

Then Gregory Belton, 26, a construction worker from East New York, Brooklyn, ordered a tropical-flavored ice pop and three pieces of propaganda: Know Your Rights, the Patriot Act, and Black Panthers.

“I want to learn about this stuff because I hate being stopped by cops,” he said. “I got a ticket for being in the park late one night playing chess. I get stopped and searched by cops just walking down the street.”

Two electricians walked up and ordered ice cream. The men, Ralph Camoia, 35, and Matt Schulz, 32, were unaware of the truck’s political function, and ordered Protest Tips from the propaganda menu, thinking they were some exotic type of sprinkles. Mr. Shulz laughed and said, “Ah, give me the stuff on Halliburton.”

Mr. Gach said: “My first customer was a little old lady who got an ice cream, and I asked if she wanted a piece of propaganda. She said: ‘Only one? I’ll take Anarchy, Black Panthers and Earth First.’ I was like, ‘Right on.’”


3) Fed’s $85 Billion Loan Rescues Insurer
September 17, 2008

This article was reported by Edmund L. Andrews, Michael J. de la Merced and Mary Williams Walsh and written by Mr. Andrews.

WASHINGTON — Fearing a financial crisis worldwide, the Federal Reserve reversed course on Tuesday and agreed to an $85 billion bailout that would give the government control of the troubled insurance giant American International Group.

The decision, only two weeks after the Treasury took over the federally chartered mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is the most radical intervention in private business in the central bank’s history.

With time running out after A.I.G. failed to get a bank loan to avoid bankruptcy, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, convened a meeting with House and Senate leaders on Capitol Hill about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to explain the rescue plan. They emerged just after 7:30 p.m. with Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke looking grim, but with top lawmakers initially expressing support for the plan. But the bailout is likely to prove controversial, because it effectively puts taxpayer money at risk while protecting bad investments made by A.I.G. and other institutions it does business with.

What frightened Fed and Treasury officials was not simply the prospect of another giant corporate bankruptcy, but A.I.G.’s role as an enormous provider of esoteric financial insurance contracts to investors who bought complex debt securities. They effectively required A.I.G. to cover losses suffered by the buyers in the event the securities defaulted. It meant A.I.G. was potentially on the hook for billions of dollars’ worth of risky securities that were once considered safe.

If A.I.G. had collapsed — and been unable to pay all of its insurance claims — institutional investors around the world would have been instantly forced to reappraise the value of those securities, and that in turn would have reduced their own capital and the value of their own debt. Small investors, including anyone who owned money market funds with A.I.G. securities, could have been hurt, too. And some insurance policy holders were worried, even though they have some protections.

“It would have been a chain reaction,” said Uwe Reinhardt, a professor of economics at Princeton University. “The spillover effects could have been incredible.”

Financial markets, which on Monday had plunged over worries about A.I.G.’s possible collapse and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, reacted with relief to the news of the bailout. In anticipation of a deal, stocks rose about 1 percent in the United States on Tuesday. Asian stock markets opened with strong gains on Wednesday morning, but the rally lost steam as worries returned about the extent of harm to the global financial system.

Still, the move will likely start an intense political debate during the presidential election campaign over who is to blame for the financial crisis that prompted the rescue.

Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke had not requested any new legislative authority for the bailout at Tuesday night’s meeting. “The secretary and the chairman of the Fed, two Bush appointees, came down here and said, ‘We’re from the government, we’re here to help them,’ ” Mr. Frank said. “I mean this is one more affirmation that the lack of regulation has caused serious problems. That the private market screwed itself up and they need the government to come help them unscrew it.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly criticized the rescue, calling the $85 billion a "staggering sum." Ms. Pelosi said the bailout was "just too enormous for the American people to guarantee." Her comments suggested that the Bush administration and the Fed would face sharp questioning in Congressional hearings. President Bush was briefed earlier in the afternoon.

A major concern is that the A.I.G. rescue won’t be the last. At Tuesday night’s meeting. lawmakers asked if there was any way of knowing if this would be the final major government intervention. Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson said there was not. Indeed, the markets remain worried about the financial condition of major regional banks as well as that of Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest thrift.

The decision was a remarkable turnaround by the Bush administration and Mr. Paulson, who had flatly refused over the weekend to risk taxpayer money to prevent the collapse of Lehman Brothers or the distressed sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America. Earlier this year, the government bailed out another investment bank, Bear Stearns, by engineering a sale to JPMorgan Chase that left taxpayers on the hook for up to $29 billion of bad investments by Bear Stearns. The government hoped at the time that this unusual step would both calm markets and lead to a recovery by the financial system. But critics warned at the time that it would only encourage others to seek bailouts, and the eventual costs to the government would be staggering.

The decision to rescue A.I.G. came on the same day that the Fed decided to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2 percent, turning aside hopes by many on Wall Street that the Fed would try to shore up confidence by cutting rates once again.

Fed and Treasury officials initially turned a cold shoulder to A.I.G. when company executives pleaded on Sunday night for the Fed to provide a $40 billion bridge loan to stave off a crippling downgrade of its credit ratings as a result of investment losses that totaled tens of billions of dollars.

But government officials reluctantly backed away from their tough-minded approach after a failed attempt to line up private financing with help from JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, which told federal officials they simply could not raise the money given both the general turmoil in credit markets and the specific fears of problems with A.I.G. The complexity of A.I.G.’s business, and the fact that it does business with thousands of companies around the globe, make its survival crucial at a time when there is stress throughout the financial system worldwide.

“It’s the interconnectedness and the fear of the unknown,” said Roger Altman, a former Treasury official under President Bill Clinton. “The prospect of the world’s largest insurer failing, together with the interconnectedness and the uncertainty about the collateral damage — that’s why it’s scaring people so much.”

Under the plan, the Fed will make a two-year loan to A.I.G. of up to $85 billion and, in return, will receive warrants that can be converted into common stock giving the government nearly 80 percent ownership of the insurer, if the existing shareholders approve. All of the company’s assets are being pledged to secure the loan. Existing stockholders have already seen the value of their stock drop more than 90 percent in the last year. Now they will suffer even more, although they will not be totally wiped out. The Fed was advised by Morgan Stanley, and A.I.G. by the Blackstone Group.

Fed staffers said that they expected A.I.G. would repay the loan before it comes due in two years, either through the sales of assets or through operations.

Asked why Lehman was allowed to fail, but A.I.G. was not, a Fed staffer said the markets were more prepared for the failure of an investment bank. Robert B. Willumstad, who became A.I.G.’s chief executive in June, will be succeeded by Edward M. Liddy, the former chairman of the Allstate Corporation. Under the terms of his employment contract with A.I.G., Mr. Willumstad could receive an exit package worth as much as $8.7 million if his removal is determined to be “without cause,” according to an analysis by James F. Reda and Associates.

A.I.G. is a sprawling empire built by Maurice R. Greenberg, who acquired hundreds of businesses all over the world until he was ousted amid an accounting scandal in 2005. Many of A.I.G.’s subsidiaries wrote insurance of various types. Others made home loans and leased aircraft. The diverse array of companies were more valuable under a single corporate parent like A.I.G., because their business cycles offset each other, giving A.I.G. a relatively smooth stream of revenue and income.

After Mr. Greenberg’s departure, A.I.G. restated its books over a five-year period and instituted conservative new accounting policies. But before the company could really rebuild itself, it became embroiled in the mortgage crisis. Some of its insurance companies ended up with mortgage-backed securities on their books, but the real trouble involved the insurance that its financial products unit offered investors for complex debt securities.

Its stock tumbled faster this year as first the debt securities lost value, and then the insurance contracts, called credit default swaps, came under a cloud.

The Fed’s extraordinary rescue of A.I.G. underscores how much fear remains about the destructive potential of the complex financial instruments, like credit default swaps, that brought A.I.G. to its knees. The market for such instruments has exploded in recent years, but it is almost entirely unregulated. When A.I.G. began to teeter in the last few days, it became clear that if it defaulted on its commitments under the swaps, it could set off a devastating chain reaction through the financial system.

“We are witnessing a rather unique event in the history of the United States,” said Suresh Sundaresan, the Chase Manhattan Bank professor of economics and finance at Columbia University. He thought the near brush with catastrophe would bring about an acceleration of efforts within the Treasury and the Fed to put safety controls on the use of credit default swaps.

“They’re going to tighten the screws and say, ‘We want some safeguards on this market,’ ” he said of the Fed and the Treasury.

The swaps are not securities and are not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. And while they perform the same function as an insurance policy, they are not insurance in the conventional sense, so insurance regulators do not monitor them either.

That situation set the stage for deep losses for all the countless investors and other entities that had entered into A.I.G.’s swap contracts. Of the $441 billion in credit default swaps that A.I.G. listed at midyear, more than three-quarters were held by European banks.

“Suddenly banks would be holding a lot of bondlike instruments that were no longer insured,” Mr. Sundaresan said. “They would have to mark them down. And when they marked them down, they would require more capital. And then they would have to go out and raise capital in these markets, which is very difficult.”

Mr. Sundaresan said that for a new market arrangement to succeed, it would have to create a clearinghouse to track swaps trading, and daily requirements to post collateral, so that a huge counterparty would not suddenly find itself having to come up with billions of dollars overnight, the way A.I.G. did.

Edmund L. Andrews reported from Washington. Michael J. de la Merced and Mary Williams Walsh reported from New York. David M. Herszenhorn contributed reporting from Washington and Eric Dash from New York..


4) Gates Apologizes for Afghan Deaths
September 18, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates sought to defuse growing tensions with the Afghan government over civilian casualties, expressing his “sincere condolences and personal regrets” on Wednesday for noncombatant deaths during recent air strikes, and announcing new measures to handle such incidents even as he defended the military’s efforts to prevent them.Mr. Gates accepted a proposal from Afghan officials to establish a permanent joint investigative group to rapidly determine the facts surrounding incidents of civilian casualties. And he pledged that even before all the facts are known, the United States would apologize for civilian casualties and offer compensation to survivors.

“I think the key for us is, on those rare occasions when we do make a mistake, when there is an error, to apologize quickly, to compensate the victims quickly and then carry out the investigation,” Mr. Gates said, speaking after meeting with President Hamid Karzai here.

The new policy, coming at a time of greatly increased civilian and military casualties in Afghanistan, is a clear indication that the United States and its NATO allies fear they risk losing the support of the Afghan people, and of the world community, for the stabilization mission here.

The American-led coalition said four of its soldiers and one Afghan national were killed by a roadside bomb Wednesday in the east of the country, the highest toll in a single attack for weeks in the mounting campaign by resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda militants. The statement did not say exactly where the incident occurred, or identify the nationalities of the soldiers, but most of the troops in eastern Afghanistan are American.

Mr. Gates’s announcement came a day after the senior American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, said he had tightened the rules around when NATO troops here may use lethal force to try to reduce civilian casualties, but noted that the military effort here was still shorthanded by thousands of troops.

Mr. Gates, on his fourth visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary, acknowledged the need for more troops here. “My expectation is that we will be able to meet the requirements the commanders have here during the course of 2009,” he said.

But Mr. Gates did not give exact figures for reinforcement, nor did he say whether any additional increases would come from the American military or whether allies would be pressed to fill the short-fall in troops.

General McKiernan said Tuesday for the first time that he needs three combat brigades in addition to the one extra battalion and one extra brigade that President Bush already has ordered to arrive here by early next year.Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said the idea to create a permanent joint investigative body for incidents of civilian casualties was raised by senior Afghan officials, and that Mr. Gates, during a day of meetings here Wednesday, officially agreed to the plan.

In several recent cases of civilian casualties, separate investigations by the Afghan government, American military and international organizations have returned with conflicting assessments. In one still under investigation, in western Afghanistan, the Afghan government and the United Nations say about 90 civilians died. The United States military says only 5 to 7 civilians were killed, along with more than 30 insurgents.

Senior Pentagon officials say incidents of civilian casualties are sometimes exaggerated — or totally falsified — by the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Mr. Gates pledged that American and NATO forces would do more to spare innocent lives.

“While no military has ever done more to prevent civilian casualties, it is clear that we have to work even harder,” Mr. Gates said.

He also pledged that “we will do everything in our power to find new and better ways” to target what he described as the “common enemies of the United States and Afghanistan.”

“Our interests are the same as yours: an Afghanistan where all citizens can strive for a better and brighter future without fear of violence and terrorism,” he said.

The defense secretary gave an impassioned restatement of the American commitment to Afghanistan, which often has been described as the forgotten war as vastly more resources were committed to the conflict in Iraq.

“You have seen the face of the enemy, the ruthlessness and the determination,” he said. “Let there be no doubt that the United States and our many partners around the world are just as determined to help you win the peace and freedom you deserve.”

Abdul Waheed Wafa contributed reporting.


5) Pakistanis Tell of New U.S. Missile Strike
September 18, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Five people were killed and three wounded when a United States Predator drone fired missiles into a house in Baghar Cheena, near Angora Adda in the restive South Waziristan tribal region, local residents said Wednesday.

The residents, who brought the wounded to a hospital in the regional center of Wana, said that drones fired four missiles, two that hit a house, and the two others that landed in the mountains.

The attack occurred in the evening, as the villagers were breaking the Ramadan fast in the evening, they said.

Local militants immediately cordoned off the area, retrieved and shifted the bodies to undisclosed location. Local residents said none of the injured were from the area, but came from the Punjab.

A Pakistani military spokesman, who identified himself only as Major Murad, said only that an investigation was under way..

A senior security official confirmed the missile attack but said that identity of those killed was yet to be established.

The attack came on a day when the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, o met with Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.


6) Abroad, Bailout Is Seen as a Detour From Capitalism
September 18, 2008

PARIS — Is the United States no longer the global beacon of unfettered, free-market capitalism?

In extending a last-minute $85 billion lifeline to A.I.G., the troubled insurer, Washington has not only turned away from decades of rhetoric about the virtues of the free market and the dangers of government intervention, it has also likely undercut future American efforts to promote such policies abroad.

“I fear the government has passed the point of no return,” said Ron Chernow, a leading American financial historian. “We have the irony of a free-market administration doing things that the most liberal Democratic administration would never have been doing in its wildest dreams.”

While they acknowledge the shock of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the bailout package for A.I.G. on top of earlier government support for Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac has stunned even European policy makers accustomed to government intervention in the economy.

“For opponents of free markets in Europe and elsewhere, this is a wonderful opportunity to invoke the American example,” said Mario Monti, the former antitrust chief at the European Commission. “They will say that even the standard-bearer of the market economy, the United States negates its fundamental principles in its behavior.”

Mr. Monti noted that past financial crises in Asia, Russia, and Mexico brought government to the fore, “but this is the first time it’s in the heart of capitalism, which is enormously more damaging in terms of the credibility of the market economy.”

In France, where the government has long supported the creation of national champions and worked actively to protect select companies from the threat of foreign takeover, politicians were quick to point out the paradox of what is essentially the nationalization of the largest American insurance company.

“Today the actions of American policy makers illustrate the need for economic patriotism,” said Bernard Carayon, a lawmaker of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right governing party, UMP. “I congratulate them.”

For the “evangelists of the market this is a painful lesson,” he added.

We’re entering “an era where we have much more regulation and where the public and the private sector will mix much more.”

In Asia, the Washington-led bailouts have stirred bitter memories of the very different approach the United States government and the International Monetary Fund pushed during the economic crises there a decade ago.

When the I.M.F. pledged $20 billion to help South Korea survive the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, one of the conditions it imposed was that the Korean government allow ailing banks and other companies to collapse rather than bail them out, recalls Yung Chul Park, a professor of economics at Korea University in Seoul who was deeply involved in the negotiations with the I.M.F.

While Mr. Park says the current crisis is different — it’s global rather than restricted to one region like Asia — “Washington is following a different script this time.”

“I understand why they do it,” he added. “But they’ve lost credibility to some extent in pushing for opening up overseas markets to foreign competition and liberalizing economies.”

The ramifications of the rescue of A.I.G. will be felt for years within the United States, too, not just abroad.

That’s because it was a very different kind of company than Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, which enjoyed government sponsorship as mortgage finance providers, or Bear Stearns, which was regulated by the federal government.

“This was an insurance company that wasn’t federally regulated,” said Gary Gensler, who served as a top official in the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration. Nor did A.I.G. have access to Federal Reserve funds or deposit insurance, like a commercial bank.

“We’re in new territory,” Mr. Gensler added. “This is a paradigm shift.”

A.I.G. is also in a different league both by virtue of the breadth of its businesses and its extensive overseas operations, especially in Asia.

What’s more, it fell into something of a regulatory gap under the current rules.

While the company, based in New York, is better known for selling conventional products like insurance policies and annuities overseen by state regulators in the United States, it is also deeply involved in the risky, opaque market for derivatives and other complicated financial instruments, which operates largely outside any regulation.

Along with the threat to the plain-vanilla insurance policies held by millions of ordinary consumers, it was the looming threat posed by these arcane financial instruments that prompted Washington to act and bailout A.I.G.

Mr. Chernow, who has written extensively about the efforts of J. P. Morgan to steady the economy in 1907 before the creation of the Federal Reserve, echoed Mr. Gensler’s conclusion.

“It’s pure crisis management,” Mr. Chernow said. “It’s the Treasury and the Federal Reserve lurching from crisis to crisis without a clear statement on how financial failures will be handled in the future. They’re afraid to articulate such a policy. The safety net they are spreading seems to widen every day with no end in sight.”


By: Allan Acevedo, Staff Columnist
Posted: 9/11/08

You probably know them most by their slogans: Army Strong; The Few, the Proud; Cross into the Blue. Military branches are conducting strategic mass media marketing campaigns to entice youth to join the service. After spending the last five years fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as extending and reusing deployments, several branches of the military are having trouble with their recruitment quotas.

For many potential soldiers, it's the fear of death or injury that deters them from signing up. Our continued presence in the Middle East makes joining the military - and the resulting high possibility of entering a war zone - very unappealing. Potential recruits are also questioning the cause they are being asked to fight for. In response, the bonus packages have become greater and the recruitment rules more lax.

In 2006, the enlistment age for active-duty Army recruits was raised to 40 years old. Late in 2005, a key drug test for recent use of marijuana was softened. In fall of that same year, a high school equivalency program was put in place for high school dropouts. And later in the spring, a ban on childhood asthmatics was removed.

Congress is hoping to bring in 74,000 more recruits by 2010, using both the lowering of criteria and passing a new GI Bill - one of those rare measures backed by members on both sides of the aisle. Strongly supported by most veterans groups, the bill pays full tuition at any state school, provides a new monthly stipend tied to local housing costs and gives Army Reserve and National Guard members who already served lengthy deployments retroactive access to the same benefits.

But those of us who aren't yet soldiers remain unconvinced, and nothing proves that more starkly than the recruitment numbers.

The Army, which met its quotas consistently every year since 1990, finally fell short in 2005. Even the numbers in the Army Reserve are going down because the nature of the reserve has changed. Before 9/11, those who joined the Reserves were committing to one training weekend per month and two weeks in the summertime, though they could potentially be called into active duty in case of an emergency. But now that we've been at war for five years, there's no emergency necessary. The Reserves are providing the bulk of the logistical support for troops in combat, including transportation and helping local governments.

When the Department of Defense announced its recruiting statistics for fiscal year 2007, the Army, Marines and Navy all met or exceeded recruitment goals. However, the success of military branches came at a price in the quality of recruits. Department of Defense standards state that at least 90 percent of new recruits should have a high school diploma, but the Army's high school graduates make up only 79 percent of new recruits. The Army also approved more criminal history waivers than in years past. This year 15 percent of new recruits required waivers, and of that, 13 percent were for serious charges, including felonies.

U.S. casualties estimate 4,600 soldiers have been killed and 64,000 wounded in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It's going to take more than a catchy slogan and desperate promises of tuition to snare youth into joining the armed forces, especially as the war continues. Relaxing the rules and giving them a bigger bonus when they come out is not going to cut it.

With the war getting more unpopular by the day, the weakened U.S. dollar and economy impacting military budgets, and policies for new recruits becoming more and more lax, we're really scraping the bottom of the barrel. If the U.S. expects to keep this ill-fated war going, we may need to institute a draft.

Of course, if we need to institute a draft in order to get soldiers for a war, that says a lot about whether or not we should be going to war in the first place.


8) Worst Crisis Since '30s, With No End Yet in Sight
* SEPTEMBER 18, 2008

The financial crisis that began 13 months ago has entered a new, far more serious phase.

Lingering hopes that the damage could be contained to a handful of financial institutions that made bad bets on mortgages have evaporated. New fault lines are emerging beyond the original problem -- troubled subprime mortgages -- in areas like credit-default swaps, the credit insurance contracts sold by American International Group Inc. and others. There's also a growing sense of wariness about the health of trading partners.

The consequences for companies and chief executives who tarry -- hoping for better times in which to raise capital, sell assets or acknowledge losses -- are now clear and brutal, as falling share prices and fearful lenders send troubled companies into ever-deeper holes. This weekend, such a realization led John Thain to sell the century-old Merrill Lynch & Co. to Bank of America Corp. Each episode seems to bring government intervention that is more extensive and expensive than the previous one, and carries greater risk of unintended consequences.

Expectations for a quick end to the crisis are fading fast. "I think it's going to last a lot longer than perhaps we would have anticipated," Anne Mulcahy, chief executive of Xerox Corp., said Wednesday.

"This has been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. There is no question about it," said Mark Gertler, a New York University economist who worked with fellow academic Ben Bernanke, now the Federal Reserve chairman, to explain how financial turmoil can infect the overall economy. "But at the same time we have the policy mechanisms in place fighting it, which is something we didn't have during the Great Depression."

Spreading Disease

The U.S. financial system resembles a patient in intensive care. The body is trying to fight off a disease that is spreading, and as it does so, the body convulses, settles for a time and then convulses again. The illness seems to be overwhelming the self-healing tendencies of markets. The doctors in charge are resorting to ever-more invasive treatment, and are now experimenting with remedies that have never before been applied. Fed Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, walking into a hastily arranged meeting with congressional leaders Tuesday night to brief them on the government's unprecedented rescue of AIG, looked like exhausted surgeons delivering grim news to the family.

Fed and Treasury officials have identified the disease. It's called deleveraging, or the unwinding of debt. During the credit boom, financial institutions and American households took on too much debt. Between 2002 and 2006, household borrowing grew at an average annual rate of 11%, far outpacing overall economic growth. Borrowing by financial institutions grew by a 10% annualized rate. Now many of those borrowers can't pay back the loans, a problem that is exacerbated by the collapse in housing prices. They need to reduce their dependence on borrowed money, a painful and drawn-out process that can choke off credit and economic growth.
At least three things need to happen to bring the deleveraging process to an end, and they're hard to do at once. Financial institutions and others need to fess up to their mistakes by selling or writing down the value of distressed assets they bought with borrowed money. They need to pay off debt. Finally, they need to rebuild their capital cushions, which have been eroded by losses on those distressed assets.

But many of the distressed assets are hard to value and there are few if any buyers. Deleveraging also feeds on itself in a way that can create a downward spiral: Trying to sell assets pushes down the assets' prices, which makes them harder to sell and leads firms to try to sell more assets. That, in turn, suppresses these firms' share prices and makes it harder for them to sell new shares to raise capital. Mr. Bernanke, as an academic, dubbed this self-feeding loop a "financial accelerator."

"Many of the CEO types weren't take these losses, and say, 'I accept the fact that I'm selling these way below fundamental value,'" said Anil Kashyap, a University of Chicago Business School economics professor. "The ones that had the biggest exposure, they've all died."

Deleveraging started with securities tied to subprime mortgages, where defaults started rising rapidly in 2006. But the deleveraging process has now spread well beyond, to commercial real estate and auto loans to the short-term commitments on which investment banks rely to fund themselves. In the first quarter, financial-sector borrowing slowed to a 5.1% growth rate, about half of the average from 2002 to 2007. Household borrowing has slowed even more, to a 3.5% pace.

Not Enough

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist Jan Hatzius estimates that in the past year, financial institutions around the world have already written down $408 billion worth of assets and raised $367 billion worth of capital.

But that doesn't appear to be enough. Every time financial firms and investors suggest that they've written assets down enough and raised enough new capital, a new wave of selling triggers a reevaluation, propelling the crisis into new territory. Residential mortgage losses alone could hit $636 billion by 2012, Goldman estimates, triggering widespread retrenchment in bank lending. That could shave 1.8 percentage points a year off economic growth in 2008 and 2009 -- the equivalent of $250 billion in lost goods and services each year.

"This is a deleveraging like nothing we've ever seen before," said Robert Glauber, now a professor of Harvard's government and law schools who came to Washington in 1989 to help organize the savings and loan cleanup of the early 1990s. "The S&L losses to the government were small compared to this."

Hedge funds could be among the next problem areas. Many rely on borrowed money to amplify their returns. With banks under pressure, many hedge funds are less able to borrow this money now, pressuring returns. Meanwhile, there are growing indications that fewer investors are shifting into hedge funds while others are pulling out. Fund investors are dealing with their own problems: Many have taken out loans to make their investments and are finding it more difficult now to borrow.

That all makes it likely that more hedge funds will shutter in the months ahead, forcing them to sell their investments, further weighing on the market.

Debt-driven financial traumas have a long history, from the Great Depression to the S&L crisis to the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. Neither economists nor policymakers have easy solutions. Cutting interest rates and writing stimulus checks to families can help -- and may have prevented or delayed a deep recession. But, at least in this instance, they don't suffice.

In such circumstances, governments almost invariably experiment with solutions with varying degrees of success. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt unleashed an alphabet soup of new agencies and a host of new regulations in the aftermath of the market crash of 1929. In the 1990s, Japan embarked on a decade of often-wasteful government spending to counter the aftereffects of a bursting bubble. President George H.W. Bush and Congress created the Resolution Trust Corp. to take and sell the assets of failed thrifts. Hong Kong's free-market government went on a massive stock-buying spree in 1998, buying up shares of every company listed in the benchmark Hang Seng index. It ended up packaging them into an exchange-traded fund and making money.

Taking Out the Playbook

Today, Mr. Bernanke is taking out his playbook, said NYU economist Mr. Gertler, "and rewriting it as we go."

Merrill Lynch & Co.'s emergency sale to Bank of America Corp. last weekend was an example of the perniciousness and unpredictability of deleveraging. In the past year, Merrill had hired a new chief executive, written off $41.4 billion in assets and raised $21 billion in equity capital.

But Merrill couldn't keep up. The more it raised, the more it was forced to write off. When Merrill CEO John Thain attended a meeting with the New York Fed and other Wall Street executives last week, he saw that Merrill was the next most vulnerable brokerage firm. "We watched Bear and Lehman. We knew we could be next," said one Merrill executive. Fearful that its lenders would shut the firm off, he sold to Bank of America.

This crisis is complicated by innovative financial instruments that Wall Street created and distributed. They're making it harder for officials and Wall Street executives to know where the next set of risks is hiding and also contributing to the crisis's spreading impact.

Swaps Game

The latest trouble spot is an area called credit-default swaps, which are private contracts that let firms trade bets on whether a borrower is going to default. When a default occurs, one party pays off the other. The value of the swaps rise and fall as the market reassesses the risk that a company won't be able to honor its obligations. Firms use these instruments both as insurance -- to hedge their exposures to risk -- and to wager on the health of other companies. There are now credit-default swaps on more than $62 trillion in debt, up from about $144 billion a decade ago.

One of the big new players in the swaps game was AIG, the world's largest insurer and a major seller of credit-default swaps to financial institutions and companies. When the credit markets were booming, many firms bought these instruments from AIG, believing the insurance giant's strong credit ratings and large balance sheet could provide a shield against bond and loan defaults. AIG believed the risk of default was low on many securities it insured.

As of June 30, an AIG unit had written credit-default swaps on more than $446 billion in credit assets, including mortgage securities, corporate loans and complex structured products. Last year, when rising subprime-mortgage delinquencies damaged the value of many securities AIG had insured, the firm was forced to book large write-downs on its derivative positions. That spooked investors, who reacted by dumping its shares, making it harder for AIG to raise the capital it increasingly needed.

Credit default swaps "didn't cause the problem, but they certainly exacerbated the financial crisis," said Leslie Rahl, president of Capital Market Risk Advisors, a consulting firm in New York. The sheer volume of CDS contracts outstanding -- and the fact that they trade directly between institutions, without centralized clearing -- intertwined the fates of many large banks and brokerages.

Few financial crises have been sorted out in modern times without massive government intervention. Increasingly, officials are coming to the conclusion that even more might be needed. A big problem: The Fed can and has provided short-term money to sound, but struggling, institutions that are out of favor. It can, and has, reduced the interest rates it influences to attempt to reduce borrowing costs through the economy and encourage investment and spending.

But it is ill-equipped to provide the capital that financial institutions now desperately need to shore up their finances and expand lending.

Resolution Trust Scenario

In normal times, capital-starved companies usually can raise money on their own. In the current crisis, a number of big Wall Street firms, including Citigroup Inc., have turned to sovereign-wealth funds, the government-controlled pools of money.

But both on Wall Street and in Washington, there is increasing expectation that U.S. taxpayers will either take the bad assets off the hands of financial institutions so they can raise capital, or put taxpayer capital into the companies, as the Treasury has agreed to do with mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

One proposal was raised by Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Rep. Frank is looking at whether to create an analog to the Resolution Trust Corp., which took assets from failed banks and thrifts and found buyers over several years.

"When you have a big loss in the marketplace, there are only three people that can take the loss -- the bondholders, the shareholders and the government," said William Seidman, who led the RTC from 1989 to 1991. "That's the dance we're seeing right now. Are we going to shove this loss into the hands of the taxpayers?"

The RTC seemed controversial and ambitious at the time. Any version today would be even more complex. The RTC dispensed mostly of commercial real estate. Today's troubled assets are complex debt securities -- many of which include pieces of other instruments, which in turn include pieces of others, many steps removed from the actual mortgages or consumer loans on which they are based. Unraveling these strands will be tedious and getting at the underlying collateral, difficult.

In the early stages of this crisis, regulators saw that their rules didn't fit the rapidly changing financial system they were asked to oversee. Investment banks, at the core of the crisis, weren't as closely monitored by the Securities and Exchange Commission as commercial banks were by their regulators.

The government has a system to close failed banks, created after the Great Depression in part to avoid sudden runs by depositors. Now, runs happen in spheres regulators may not fully understand, such as the repurchase agreement, or repo, market, in which investment banks fund their day-to-day operations. And regulators have no process for handling the failure of an investment bank like Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Insurers like AIG aren't even federally regulated.

Regulators have all but promised that more banks will fail in the coming months. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is drawing up a plan to raise the premiums it charges banks so that it can rebuild the fund it uses to back deposits. Examiners are tightening their leash on banks across the country.

Pleasant Mystery

One pleasant mystery is why the crisis hasn't hit the economy harder -- at least so far. "This financial crisis hasn't yet translated into fewer...companies starting up, less research and development, less marketing," Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive of Verizon Communications, said Wednesday. "We haven't seen that yet. I'm sure every company is keeping their eyes on it."

At 6.1%, the unemployment rate remains well below the peak of 7.8% in 1992, amid the S&L crisis.

In part, that's because government has reacted aggressively. The Fed's classic mistake that led to the Great Depression was that it tightened monetary policy when it should have eased. Mr. Bernanke didn't repeat that error. And Congress moved more swiftly to approve fiscal stimulus than most Washington veterans thought possible.

In part, the broader economy has held mostly steady because exports have been so strong at just the right moment, a reminder of the global economy's importance to the U.S. And in part, it's because the U.S. economy is demonstrating impressive resilience, as information technology allows executives to react more quickly to emerging problems and -- to the discomfort of workers -- companies are quicker to adjust wages, hiring and work hours when the economy softens.

But the risk remains that Wall Street's woes will spread to Main Street, as credit tightens for consumers and business. Already, U.S. auto makers have been forced to tighten the terms on their leasing programs, or abandon writing leases themselves altogether, because of problems in their finance units. Goldman Sachs economists' optimistic scenario is a couple years of mild recession or painfully slow economy growth.

—Aaron Lucchetti, Mark Whitehouse, Gregory Zuckerman and Sudeep Reddy contributed to this article.

Write to Jon Hilsenrath at, Serena Ng at and Damian Paletta at


9)The Market and the Terminator Machines
America's Own Kleptocracy
Weekend Edition, September 20 / 21, 2008

Nobody expected industrial capitalism to end up like this. Nobody even saw it evolving in this direction. I'm afraid this failing is not unusual among futurists: The natural tendency is to think about how economies can best grow and evolve, not how it can be untracked. But an unforeseen road always seems to appear, and there goes society goes off on a tangent.

What a two weeks! On Sunday, September 7, the Treasury took on the $5.3 trillion mortgage exposure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose heads already had been removed for accounting fraud. On Monday, September 15, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, when prospective Wall Street buyers couldn't gain any sense of reality from its financial books. On Wednesday the Federal Reserve agreed to make good for at least $85 billion in the just-pretend "insured" winnings owed to financial gamblers who bet on computer-driven trades in junk mortgages and bought counter-party coverage from the A.I.G. (the American Insurance Group, whose head Maurice Greenberg already had been removed a few years back for accounting fraud). But it is Friday, September 19, that will go down as a turning point in American history. The White House committed at least half a trillion dollars more to re-inflate real estate prices in an attempt to support the market value junk mortgages—mortgages issued far beyond the ability of debtors to pay and far above the going market price of the collateral being pledged.

These billions of dollars were devoted to keeping a dream alive—the accounting fictions written down by companies that had entered an unreal world based on false accounting that nearly everyone in the financial sector knew to be fake. But they played along with buying and selling packaged mortgage junk because that was where the money was. Even after markets collapse, fund managers who steered clear were blamed for not playing the game while it was going. I have friends on Wall Street who were fired for not matching the returns that their compatriots were making. And the biggest returns were to be made in trading in the economy's largest financial asset—mortgage debt. The mortgages packaged, owned or guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie alone exceeded the entire U.S. national debt—the cumulative deficits run up by the American Government since the nation won the Revolutionary War!

This gives an idea of just how large the bailout has been—and where the government's (or at least the Republicans') priorities lie! Instead of waking up the economy to reality, the government has thrown all its resources to promote the unreal dream that debts can be paid—if not by the debtors themselves, then by the government—"taxpayers," as the euphemism goes.

Overnight, the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve have radically changed the character of American capitalism. It is nothing less than a coup d'êtat for the class that FDR called "banksters." What has happened in the past two weeks threatens to change the coming century—irreversibly, if they can get away with it. This is the largest and most inequitable transfer of wealth since the land giveaways to the railroad barons during the Civil War era.

Even so, there seems little sign that it even may end the free-market patter talk by financial insiders who have managed to avert public oversight by appointing non-regulators to the major regulatory agencies—and thus created the mess that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson now says threatens the bank deposits and jobs of all Americans. What he really means, of course, are simply the largest Republican campaign contributors (and to be fair, also the largest contributors to Democratic candidates on key financial committees).

A kleptocratic class has taken over the economy to replace industrial capitalism. Franklin Roosevelt's term "banksters" says it all in a nutshell. The economy has been captured—by an alien power, but not the usual suspects. Not socialism, workers or "big government," nor by industrial monopolists or even by the great banking families. Certainly not by Freemasons and Illuminati. (It would be wonderful if there were indeed some group operating with centuries of wisdom behind them, so at least someone at least had a plan.) Rather, the banksters have made a compact with an alien power—not Communists, Russians, Asians or Arabs. Not humans at all. The group's cadre is a new breed of machine. It may sound like the Terminator movies, but computerized Machines have indeed taken over the world—at least, the White House's world.

Here is how they did it. A.I.G. wrote insurance policies of all sorts that people and businesses need: home and property insurance, livestock insurance, even aircraft leasing. These highly profitable businesses were not the problem. (They therefore will probably be sold off to pay the company's bad gambles.) A.I.G.'s downfall came from the $450 billion—almost half a trillion—dollars it was on the hook for as a result of guaranteeing hedge-fund counterparty insurance. In other words, if two parties played the zero-sum game of betting against each other as to whether the dollar would rise or fall against sterling or the euro, or if they insured a mortgage portfolio of junk mortgages to make sure that they would get paid, they would pay a teeny tiny commission to A.I.G. for a policy promising to pay if, say, the $11 trillion U.S. mortgage market should "stumble" or if losers placing trillions of dollars in bets on foreign exchange derivatives, stock or bond derivatives should somehow find themselves in a position that so many Las Vegas patrons are in, and be unable to come up with the cash to cover their losses.

A.I.G. collected billions of dollars on such policies. And thanks to the fact that insurance companies are a Milton Friedman paradise—not regulated by the Federal Reserve or any other nation-wide agency, and hence able to get the proverbial free lunch without government oversight—writing such policies was done by computer printouts, and the company collected massive fees and commissions without putting in much capital of its own. This is what is called "self-regulation." It is how the Invisible Hand is supposed to work.

It turned out, inevitably, that some of the financial institutions that made billion-dollar gambles—usually in the form of a thousand million-dollar gambles in the course of a few minutes or so, to be precise—couldn't pay up. These gambles all occur in microseconds, at strokes of a keyboard almost without human interference. In that sense it is not unlike alien pod people taking over. But in this case they are robot-like machines, hence the analogy I drew above with the Terminators.

Their sudden rise to dominance is as unforeseen as an invasion from Mars. The nearest analogy is the invasion of the Harvard Boys, World Bank and U.S.A.I.D. to Russia and other post-Soviet economies after the Soviet Union was dissolved, pressing free-market giveaways to create national kleptocracies. It should be a worrying sign to Americans that these kleptocrats have become the Founding Fortunes of their respective countries. We should bear in mind Aristotle's observation that democracy is the political stage immediately preceding oligarchy.

The financial machines that placed the trades that bankrupted A.I.G. were programmed by financial managers to act with the speed of light in conducting electronic trades often lasting only a few seconds each, millions of times a day. Only a machine could calculate mathematical probabilities factored in regarding the squiggles up and down of interest rates, exchange rates and stock and bonds prices—and prices for packaged mortgages. And the latter packages increasingly took the form of junk mortgages, pretending to be payable debts but in reality empty flak.

The machines employed by hedge funds in particular have given a new meaning to Casino Capitalism. That was long applied to speculators playing the stock market. It meant making cross bets, lose some and win some—and getting the government to bail out the non-payers. The twist in the past two weeks' turmoil is that the winners cannot collect on their bets unless the government pays the debts that the losers are unable to cover with their own money.

One would have thought that this requires some degree of control over the government. The activity probably never should have been licensed. In fact, it never was licensed, and hence nor regulated. But there seemed to be a good reason: Investors in hedge funds had to sign a paper saying that they were rich enough to afford to lose their money on this financial gambling. Your average mom and pop investors were not permitted to participate. Despite the high rewards that millions of tiny trades generated, they were deemed too risky for the uninitiated lacking trust funds to play with.

A hedge fund does not make money by producing goods and services. It does not advance funds to buy real assets or even lend money. It borrows huge sums to leverage its bet with nearly free credit. Its managers are not industrial engineers but mathematicians who program computers to make cross-bets or "straddles" on which way interest rates, currency exchange rates, stock or bond prices may move—or the prices for packaged bank mortgages. The packaged loans may be sound or they may be junk. It doesn't matter. All that matters is making money in a marketplace where most trades last only a few seconds. What creates the gains is the price fibrillation—volatility.

This kind of transaction may make fortunes, but it is not "wealth creation" in the form that most people recognize. Before the Black-Scholes mathematical formula for calculating the value of hedge bets, this kind of put-and-call option was too costly to provide much profit to anyone except the brokerage houses. But the combination of powerful computers and the "innovation" of almost free credit and free access to the financial gambling tables has made possible a frenetic back-and-forth maneuvering.

So why has the Treasury found it necessary to enter this picture at all? Why should these gamblers be bailed out, if they had enough to lose without having to become public wards by going on welfare? Hedge fund trading was limited to the very rich, for investment banks and other institutional investors. But it became one of the easiest ways to make money, loaning funds at interest for people to pay out of their computer-driven cross-trades. And almost as fast as it was made, this revenue was paid out in commissions, salaries and annual bonuses reminiscent of America's Gilded Age in the years prior to World War I—years before the income tax was introduced in 1913. The remarkable thing about all this money was that its recipients didn't even have to pay normal income tax on it. The government let them call it "capital gains," which meant that the money was taxed at only a fraction of the rate that incomes were taxed.

The pretense, of course, is that all this frenetic trading creates real "capital." It certainly does not do so in the classical 19th-century concept of capital. The term has been decoupled from producing goods and services, hiring wage labor or from financing innovation. It is as much "capital" as the right to conduct a lottery and collect the winnings from the hopes of the losers. But then, casinos from Las Vegas to riverboats have become a major "growth industry," muddying the language of capital, growth and wealth itself.

For the gaming tables to be closed and the money paid out, the losers must be bailed out— Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, A.I.G. and who knows what to come? This is the only way to solve the problem of how companies that already have paid out their revenue to their managers and stockholders instead of putting it in reserves are to collect their winnings from insolvent debtors and insurance companies. These losers also have paid out their income to their financial managers and insiders (along with the usual patriotic contributions to the political candidates on the key committees in charge of deciding the nation's financial structuring).

This has to be orchestrated well in advance. It is necessary to buy politicians and give them a plausible cover story (or at least a well-crafted set of poll-tested euphemisms) to explain to voters just why it was in the public interest to bail out gamblers. Good rhetoric is needed to explain why the government should let them go into a casino and let them keep all their winnings while using public funds to make good on the losses of their counterparties.

What happened on September 18-19 took years of preparation, capped by a faux ideology crafted by public-relations think tanks to be broadcast under emergency conditions to panic Congress—and voters—right before the presidential election. This seems to be our September election surprise. Under staged crisis conditions, Pres. Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson are now calling for the country to come together in a War on Defaulting Homeowners. This is said to be the only hope to "save the system."(What system is this? Not industrial capitalism, or even banking, as we know it.) The largest transformation of America's financial system since the Great Depression has been compressed into just two weeks, starting with the doubling of America's national debt on September 7 with the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (My computer's spellchecker will not permit me to use the euphemism "conservatorship" that Mr. Paulson applied to bailing out the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fraudsters.)

Economic theory used to explain that profits and interest were a return for calculated risk. But today, the name of the game is capital gains and computerized gambling on the direction of interest rates, foreign currencies and stock prices—and when bad bets are made, bailouts are the calculated economic return for campaign contributions. But this is not supposed to be the time to talk of such things. "We must act now to protect our nation's economic health from serious risk," intoned Pres. Bush on September 19. What he meant was that the White House must make the Republican Party's largest group of campaign contributors whole—Wall Street, that is—by bailing out their bad gambles. "There will be ample opportunity to debate the origins of this problem. Now is the time to solve it." In other words, don't make this an election issue. "In our nation's history there have been moments that require us to come together across party lines to address major challenges. This is such a moment." Right before the presidential election! The same guff was heard earlier on Friday morning from Sec. Paulson: "Our economic health requires that we work together for prompt, bipartisan action." The broadcasters said that half a trillion dollars was discussed for this day's maneuverings.

Much of the blame should go to the Clinton Administration for leading the call to repeal Glass-Steagall in 1999, letting the banks merge with casinos. Or rather, the casinos have absorbed the banks. That is what has put the savings of Americans at risk.

But does this really mean that the only solution is to re-inflate the real estate market? The Paulson-Bernanke plan is to enable the banks to sell off the homes of five million home mortgage debtors faced with default or foreclosure this year! Homeowners with "exploding adjustable-rate mortgages" will lose their homes, but the Fed will pump enough credit into the mortgage-lending agencies to enable new buyers to go deeply enough into debt to take the junk mortgages off the hands of the gamblers who presently own them. Time for another financial and real estate bubble to bail out the junk mortgage lenders and packagers.

America has entered into a new war—a War to Save Computerized Derivative Traders. Like the Iraq war, it is based largely on fictions and entered into under seeming emergency conditions—to which the solution has little relation to the underlying cause of the problems. On financial security grounds the government is to make good on the collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)—packaged CDOs that Warren Buffett has called "weapons of mass financial destruction.”

Hardly by surprise, this giveaway of public money is being handled by the same group that warned the country so piously about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Pres. Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson have piously announced that this is no time for partisan disagreements over this shift of public policy to favor creditors rather than debtors. There is no time to make the biggest bailout in election history an election issue. Not an appropriate time to debate whether it is a good thing to re-inflate housing prices to a level that will continue to oblige new home buyers to go so deeply into debt that they must pay some 40 percent of their take-home pay on housing.

Remember when President Bush and Alan Greenspan informed the American people that there was no money left to pay Social Security (not to mention Medicare) because at some future date (a decade from now? 20 years? 40 years?) the system might run a deficit of what now seems to be merely a trivial trillion dollars spread over many, many years. The moral was that if we can't figure out how to pay, let's plow the program under right now.

Mr. Bush and Greenspan did have a helpful solution, of course. The Treasury could turn Social Security and medical insurance money over to Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and their brethren to invest at the "magic of compound interest.”

What would have happened to U.S. Social Security had this been done? Perhaps we should view the past two weeks' events as having assigned to Wall Street gamblers all the money that has been set aside since the Greenspan Commission in 1983 shifted the tax burden onto FICA wage withholding. It is not retirees who are being rescued, but the Wall Street investors who signed papers saying that they could afford to lose their money. The Republican slogan this November should be "Gambling insurance, not health insurance.”

This is not how the much-vaunted Road to Serfdom was mapped out to be. Frederick Hayek and his Chicago Boys insisted that serfdom would come from government planning and regulation. This view turned upside down the classical and Progressive Era reformers who depicted government as acting as society's brain, its steering mechanism to shape markets—and free them from income without playing a necessary role in production. The theory of democracy rested on the assumption that voters would act in their self-interest. Market reformers made a kindred happy assumption that consumers, savers and investors would promote economic growth by acting with full knowledge and understanding of the dynamics at work. But the Invisible Hand turned out to be accounting fraud, junk mortgage lending, insider dealing and a failure to relate the soaring debt overhead to the ability of debtors to pay—all of this mess seemingly legitimized by computerized trading models, and now blessed by the Treasury.

Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist specializing in the balance of payments and real estate at the Chase Manhattan Bank (now JPMorgan Chase & Co.), Arthur Anderson, and later at the Hudson Institute (no relation). In 1990 he helped established the world's first sovereign debt fund for Scudder Stevens & Clark. Dr. Hudson was Dennis Kucinich's Chief Economic Advisor in the recent Democratic primary presidential campaign, and has advised the U.S., Canadian, Mexican and Latvian governments, as well as the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). A Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) He can be reached via his website,


10) What’s the Rush?
Op-Ed Columnist
September 20, 2008

Troy Davis, who was convicted of shooting a police officer to death in the parking lot of a Burger King in Savannah, Ga., is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday.

There is some question as to his guilt (even the pope has weighed in on this case), but the odds of Mr. Davis escaping the death penalty are very slim. Putting someone to death whose guilt is uncertain is always perverted, but there’s an extra dose of perversion in this case.

The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to make a decision on whether to hear a last-ditch appeal by Mr. Davis on Sept. 29. That’s six days after the state of Georgia plans to kill him.

Mr. Davis’s lawyers have tried desperately to have the execution postponed for those few days, but so far to no avail. Georgia is among the most cold-blooded of states when it comes to dispatching prisoners into eternity.

So the lawyers are now trying to get the Supreme Court to issue a stay, or decide before Tuesday on whether it will consider the appeal.

No one anywhere would benefit from killing Mr. Davis on Tuesday, as opposed to waiting a week to see how the Supreme Court rules. So why the rush? The murder happened in 1989, and Mr. Davis has been on death row for 17 years. Six or seven more days will hardly matter.

Most of the time, the court declines to hear such cases.

If that’s the decision this time, Georgia can get on with the dirty business of taking a human life. If the court agrees to hear the appeal, it would have an opportunity to get a little closer to the truth of what actually happened on the terrible night of Aug. 19, 1989, when Officer Mark Allen MacPhail was murdered.

He was shot as he went to the aid of a homeless man who was being pistol-whipped in the parking lot.

Nine witnesses testified against Mr. Davis at his trial in 1991, but seven of the nine have since changed their stories. One of the recanting witnesses, Dorothy Ferrell, said she was on parole when she testified and was afraid that she’d be sent back to prison if she didn’t agree to finger Mr. Davis.

She said in an affidavit: “I told the detective that Troy Davis was the shooter, even though the truth was that I didn’t know who shot the officer.”

Another witness, Darrell Collins, a teenager at the time of the murder, said the police had “scared” him into falsely testifying by threatening to charge him as an accessory to the crime. He said they told him that he might never get out of prison.

“I didn’t want to go to jail because I didn’t do nothing wrong,” he said.

At least three witnesses who testified against Mr. Davis (and a number of others who were not part of the trial) have since said that a man named Sylvester “Redd” Coles admitted that he was the one who had killed the officer.

Mr. Coles, who was at the scene, and who, according to authorities, later ditched a gun of the same caliber as the murder weapon, is one of the two witnesses who have not recanted.

The other is a man who initially told investigators that he could not identify the killer. Nearly two years later, at the trial, he testified that the killer was Mr. Davis.

So we have here a mess that is difficult, perhaps impossible, to sort through in a way that will yield reliable answers. (The jury also convicted Mr. Davis of a nonfatal shooting earlier that same evening on testimony that was even more dubious.)

There was no physical evidence against Mr. Davis, and the murder weapon was never found. As for the witnesses, their testimony was obviously shaky in the extreme — not the sort of evidence you want to rely upon when putting someone to death.

In March, the State Supreme Court in Georgia, in a 4-to-3 decision, denied Mr. Davis’s request for a new trial. The chief justice, Leah Ward Sears, writing for the minority, said: “In this case, nearly every witness who identified Davis as the shooter at trial has now disclaimed his or her ability to do so reliably.”

Amnesty International conducted an extensive examination of the case, documenting the many recantations, inconsistencies, contradictions and unanswered questions. Its report on the case drew widespread attention, both in the U.S. and overseas.

William Sessions, a former director of the F.B.I., has said that a closer look at the case is warranted. And Pope Benedict XVI has urged authorities in Georgia to re-sentence Mr. Davis to life in prison.

Rushing to execute Mr. Davis on Tuesday makes no sense at all.


11) Hard Truths About the Bailout
September 20, 2008

The fifth major federal bailout this year — after Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the American International Group — is now in the works. Taxpayers have every right to be alarmed and angry. The latest plan is not necessarily a bad one, and officials had to move quickly to prevent credit markets from seizing up.

But make no mistake, this crisis could have been avoided if regulators had enforced rules and officials had dared to question risky lending and other dubious practices.

If done right, this bailout could succeed where the others have failed and remove the threat of a systemwide financial collapse. But the upfront cost will be enormous. So will the risk of losses in the long run — on top of the risks already incurred.

The new plan would commit taxpayer money to buy hundreds of billions of dollars of troubled loans and other mortgage-related securities from banks and Wall Street firms. It is based on the reasonable premise that as long as institutions are stuck with those assets, the flow of credit, the economy’s lifeblood, will be constrained, or as in the past week, all but frozen.

Congress, with one eye on this week’s volatile Dow and the other on November’s election, could authorize the plan as early as next week.

It is painfully clear that the financial system will not rebound on its own from the excessive lending and borrowing of the Bush years and the credit collapse in their wake. The one-bailout-at-a-time approach hasn’t worked. And modest steps are no longer an option.

Lawmakers and administration officials must be prepared to tell Americans the full, hard truths about this plan:

¶ What is this going to cost the taxpayers and who decides? It’s generally believed that many of the troubled assets that the government would buy will, in time, be worth more than they can fetch in today’s chaotic markets. That’s far from a sure thing. The assets are tied to housing, so their value will depend on how far prices fall, how many people end up defaulting and how long it takes before housing rebounds — all big unknowns.

For those reasons, it’s important for Americans to know who is going to decide what is the right purchase price for these assets. Wall Street will have a role, of course, but outside experts should be allowed to analyze the results. Americans also need to know how the process will be monitored to ensure that taxpayers’ interests are protected. If the government gets the price right, the upfront outlay could be recouped when it later sells. If it overpays, the taxpayer is stuck with the loss.

¶ How will Congress balance the bailout of Wall Street and the needs on Main Street? If financial markets stabilize, all Americans will benefit. But Congress must do more to provide direct help to struggling American families. Lawmakers should use the bailout legislation to also extend unemployment benefits, bolster food stamps and provide aid to state and local governments to provide health care and other services that are especially important during tough times.

¶ The administration and lawmakers also need to tell Americans that the era of cheap and easy money is over and that there are more tough times to come. Whose taxes will have to go up? How will the government help to create the jobs of the future? How will the most vulnerable Americans be protected? And they need to explain that the cost of the bailouts will compete with other spending.

¶ Finally, Americans need to be told a more fundamental truth: This crisis is the result of a willful and systematic failure by the government to regulate and monitor the activities of bankers, lenders, hedge funds, insurers and other market players. All were playing high-stakes poker with the financial system, but without adequate transparency, oversight or supervision.

The regulatory failure, in turn, was grounded in the Bush administration’s magical belief that the market, with its invisible hand, works best when it is left alone to self regulate and self correct. The country is now paying the price for that delusion.

If lawmakers and administration officials really want to restore confidence, the bailout must be only a first step. The hard work of establishing and enforcing the regulations that are needed for a truly trustworthy financial system, still lies ahead.


12) Crisis Endgame
Op-Ed Columnist
September 19, 2008

Correction Appended

On Sunday, Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, tried to draw a line in the sand against further bailouts of failing financial institutions; four days later, faced with a crisis spinning out of control, much of Washington appears to have decided that government isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. The unthinkable — a government buyout of much of the private sector’s bad debt — has become the inevitable.

The story so far: the real shock after the feds failed to bail out Lehman Brothers wasn’t the plunge in the Dow, it was the reaction of the credit markets. Basically, lenders went on strike: U.S. government debt, which is still perceived as the safest of all investments — if the government goes bust, what is anything else worth? — was snapped up even though it paid essentially nothing, while would-be private borrowers were frozen out.

Thus, banks are normally able to borrow from each other at rates just slightly above the interest rate on U.S. Treasury bills. But Thursday morning, the average interest rate on three-month interbank borrowing was 3.2 percent, while the interest rate on the corresponding Treasuries was 0.05 percent. No, that’s not a misprint.

This flight to safety has cut off credit to many businesses, including major players in the financial industry — and that, in turn, is setting us up for more big failures and further panic. It’s also depressing business spending, a bad thing as signs gather that the economic slump is deepening.

And the Federal Reserve, which normally takes the lead in fighting recessions, can’t do much this time because the standard tools of monetary policy have lost their grip. Usually the Fed responds to economic weakness by buying up Treasury bills, in order to drive interest rates down. But the interest rate on Treasuries is already zero, for all practical purposes; what more can the Fed do?

Well, it can lend money to the private sector — and it’s been doing that on an awesome scale. But this lending hasn’t kept the situation from deteriorating.

There’s only one bright spot in the picture: interest rates on mortgages have come down sharply since the federal government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and guaranteed their debt. And there’s a lesson there for those ready to hear it: government takeovers may be the only way to get the financial system working again.

Some people have been making that argument for some time. Most recently, Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman, and two other veterans of past financial crises published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal declaring that the only way to avoid “the mother of all credit contractions” is to create a new government agency to “buy up the troubled paper” — that is, to have taxpayers take over the bad assets created by the bursting of the housing and credit bubbles. Coming from Mr. Volcker, that proposal has serious credibility.

Influential members of Congress, including Hillary Clinton and Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, have been making similar arguments. And on Thursday, Charles Schumer, the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (and an advocate of creating a new agency to resolve the financial crisis) told reporters that “the Federal Reserve and the Treasury are realizing that we need a more comprehensive solution.” Sure enough, Thursday night Ben Bernanke and Mr. Paulson met with Congressional leaders to discuss a “comprehensive approach” to the problem.

We don’t know yet what that “comprehensive approach” will look like. There have been hopeful comparisons to the financial rescue the Swedish government carried out in the early 1990s, a rescue that involved a temporary public takeover of a large part of the country’s financial system. It’s not clear, however, whether policy makers in Washington are prepared to exert a comparable degree of control. And if they aren’t, this could turn into the wrong kind of rescue — a bailout of stockholders as well as the market, in effect rescuing the financial industry from the consequences of its own greed.

Furthermore, even a well-designed rescue would cost a lot of money. The Swedish government laid out 4 percent of G.D.P., which in our case would be a cool $600 billion — although the final burden to Swedish taxpayers was much less, because the government was eventually able to sell off the assets it had acquired, in some cases at a handsome profit.

But it’s no use whining (sorry, Senator Gramm) about the prospect of a financial rescue plan. Today’s U.S. political system isn’t going to follow Andrew Mellon’s infamous advice to Herbert Hoover: “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.” The big buyout is coming; the only question is whether it will be done right.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 20, 2008
A column by Paul Krugman in Friday’s paper incorrectly identified Senator Charles Schumer as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Mr. Schumer is the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. Senator Max Baucus is the chairman of the Finance Committee.


13) But Will It Work?
News Analysis
September 21, 2008

As the federal government steps to the center of the financial crisis, devising plans to take ownership of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of bad mortgages, a pair of simple questions rise to the fore: Will this intervention finally be enough to restore order? And what will this grand rescue cost taxpayers?

The Treasury Department, as overseer of the financial system, has in recent weeks unleashed a vast array of initiatives in a bid to stave off catastrophe. It took over the country’s largest mortgage finance companies and put untold billions of taxpayer dollars on the line to prop up other lenders.

Now, although the details are still being worked out, the government is dispensing with rescuing one company at a time, and instead is taking on a vast pile of bad debt in one gulp. If it all comes to pass — if Uncle Sam becomes the repository for the radioactive leftovers of bad real estate bets — will the crisis lift? Will the fear that has kept banks clinging to their dollars, starving the economy of capital, give way to free-flowing credit?

Most broadly, what are the long-term costs of the government stepping in to restore order after so many wealthy financiers became so much wealthier through what now seem like reckless bets on housing — bets now covered with public dollars?

Some question the prudence of adding to the nation’s overall debt at a time when the Treasury relies on the largess of foreigners to cover the bills. Even so, there is wide agreement that a broad intervention like the one Treasury is proposing is necessary.

“It goes a long way. It ameliorates it very substantially,” said Alan S. Blinder, an economist at Princeton and a former vice chairman of the board of governors at the Federal Reserve, who has said for months that the government must step in forcefully to buy mortgage-linked investments.

“We’re deep into Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole,” he said.

But significant skepticism confronts the plan. Under a proposal circulating Saturday, the Treasury could spend as much as $700 billion to buy mortgage-linked investments, then sell what it can as it works out the messy details of the loans. But no one really knows what this cosmically complex web of finance will be worth, making the final price tag for the taxpayer unknowable. One may just as well try to predict the weather three years from Tuesday.

Also, what message does that send to the next investment bank caught up in the next speculative bubble and contemplating the risks of jumping in while wondering who is ultimately on the hook if things go awry?

Many economists say such questions are beside the point. The nation is gripped by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Before Thursday night, when the Treasury secretary, the Federal Reserve chairman and leaders on Capitol Hill proclaimed their intentions to take over bad debts, the prognosis for the American financial system was sliding from grim toward potentially apocalyptic.

“It looked like we might be falling into the abyss,” Mr. Blinder said.

As the details of the government’s plans are hashed out, no hallelujah chorus is wafting across Washington, down Wall Street or through the glistening condos of the nation. Too many households are having trouble paying their mortgages. Too many people are out of work. Too many banks are bloodied.

Still, the prospect that the government is preparing to wade in deep — perhaps sparing families from foreclosure and banks from insolvency — has muted talk of the most dire possibilities: a severe shortage of credit that would crimp the availability of finance for many years, effectively halting economic growth.

“The risk of ending up like Japan, with 10 years of stagnation, is now much lessened,” said Nouriel Roubini, an economist at the Stern School of Business at New York University. “The recession train has left the station, but it’s going to be 18 months instead of five years.”

If the plan works, it will attack the central cause of American economic distress — the continued plunge in housing prices. If banks resumed lending more liberally, mortgages would become more readily available. That would give more people the wherewithal to buy homes, lifting housing prices or at least preventing them from falling further. This would prevent more mortgage-linked investments from going bad, further easing the strain on banks. As a result, the current downward spiral would end and start heading up.

“It’s easy to forget amid all the fancy stuff — credit derivatives, swaps — that the root cause of all this is declining house prices,” Mr. Blinder said. “If you can reverse that, then people start coming out of their foxholes and start putting their money in places they have been too afraid to put it.”

For many Americans, the events that have transfixed and horrified Wall Street in recent days — the disintegration of supposedly impregnable institutions, government bailouts with 11-figure price tags — have been less stunning than inscrutable. The headlines proclaim that the taxpayer now owns the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with the liabilities of a mysterious colossus called the American Insurance Group, which, as it happens, insures against corporate defaults. Much like the human appendix, these were organs whose existence was only dimly evident to many until the pain began.

And yet these institutions are deeply intertwined with the American economy. When the financial system is in danger, it stops investing and lending, depriving ordinary people of financing for homes, cars and education. Businesses cannot borrow to start up and expand.

“Wall Street isn’t this island to itself,” said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute. “Even people with good credit histories are having a very hard time getting loans at terms that make sense. If that gets worse, we’re going to be stuck in the doldrums for a very long time, because that directly blocks healthy economic activity.”

The financial crisis gripping the United States is the direct outgrowth of the speculative orgy in real estate that began early this decade. Once home values began falling two years ago, the financial institutions that had poured capital into real estate confronted a very big problem.

Over the last year, one financial giant after another has written off billions of dollars worth of mortgage-linked investments. Some have succumbed to the storm. In March, the investment bank Bear Stearns nearly collapsed before JPMorgan Chase bought it at a fire-sale price. This month, the government effectively nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — government-backed mortgage companies that together guarantee $5 trillion in American mortgages.

Last week, Merrill Lynch — a name synonymous with Wall Street — found itself forced to pawn itself off to Bank of America. Lehman Brothers, an investment banking giant, collapsed into bankruptcy. Worries now hover over other banks.

“It may not be over,” said Mr. Blinder, the former Fed vice chairman.

Some say the tightening of credit is an unavoidable corrective. For a quarter-century, the American economy has gorged itself on borrowed money, from the speculative investments that created the dot-com boom to the exuberant borrowing that made houses in Las Vegas trade like technology stocks.

“Credit was too easy for too long, and now it’s a little tighter,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wachovia in Charlotte, N.C. “It’s a necessary though painful correction.”

Others say that in the last few weeks, the profligate era of easy money had swung to the opposite extreme: a widespread reluctance to lend.

“The danger is swinging from far too risk-friendly to far too risk-averse,” Mr. Bernstein said.

The economy has shed roughly 600,000 jobs since the beginning of the year. If healthy companies cannot get their hands on financing, they will not be able to expand and hire.

“What we’re looking at now is simply an amplified version of what we’ve been in since last August,” Mr. Bernstein added. “You’re witnessing a sudden death instead of a slow bleed.”

The impact of the pullback among banks was evident in the interest rates banks pay other banks to borrow money short-term. Traditionally, banks charge one another a little more than 0.2 percentage point over the rate on the safest investment, United States Treasury bills. But on Friday that spread was more than two percentage points, meaning a bank must pay an enormous premium to persuade another to part with its money.

And still no one knows the extent of the carnage. The financial system has acknowledged roughly $400 billion in losses so far, Mr. Roubini estimates, yet as much as another $1.1 trillion may be lying in wait.

As the government steps in to take over bad debts, it is aiming to clear away the detritus and lift the uncertainty, emboldening banks to lend anew.

Whether it will work in the long term is a question that awaits reaction from investors. But even the most skeptical economists say this is the path the government must take for confidence to crystallize that a genuine fix is under way.

“It’s not enough,” Mr. Roubini said. “But it’s the first time they have done something that makes a difference.”


14) Iraqis Protest Deadly Raid by U.S. on Village
September 20, 2008

BAGHDAD — Iraqis protested the deaths of at least seven people during an American raid and airstrike on Friday in the northern town where Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003.

Americans say the raid succeeded in killing its target, a senior operative of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, also known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, who had been suspected of involvement in bombing attacks along the Tigris River Valley.

But Iraqi officials said the strike had used excessive force in killing eight members of one family, who the officials said were innocent. They accused the Americans of shooting down men and women from the air as they fled. The Americans said seven people had been killed.

The deaths occurred at a delicate time for the American government, as it tries to negotiate a security agreement with Iraq, which is eager to exert tighter controls over American troops who remain in the country.

An American military statement said that allied forces went to Ad Dwar, a small Sunni town in Salahuddin Province, after receiving intelligence that the wanted man was there. Ad Dwar, 80 miles north of Baghdad, is near Tikrit, Mr. Hussein’s former stronghold.

The statement said the target was an “emir” in the bombing network of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, known to the Americans as A.Q.I.

Iraqi officials said the dead were from one family: five men in their 20s and 30s and three women from 20 to 58.

Abdul Karim Khalil Ibrahim, 51, a relative, said he watched the raid from his house.

“The American forces surrounded my cousin’s house, then they bombed it,” he said. “I was watching from my roof through a hole in the wall. The American forces lit the place with flashlights. I saw my cousin with his wife escape from the backyard, when the American helicopter shot them and killed them immediately.”

American officials said four men and three women were killed but justified the use of air power in the operation.

“After arriving at the target, forces surrounded the building and called for its occupants to surrender,” the statement said. “Despite nearly an hour of multiple calls and warnings that the force would engage them, the individuals inside refused to come out.”

The American statement continued: “An armed man appeared in the doorway, and coalition forces, perceiving hostile intent based on the man’s actions, engaged him. Later he was determined to be the suspected terrorist. During the operation, and in accordance with applicable rules, supporting aircraft engaged and killed three additional terrorist suspects. Three women were also killed.”

The officials said an Iraqi child had been rescued from the rubble by allied forces and was taken to a nearby base for treatment.

Col. Jerry O’Hara, an American military spokesman in Baghdad, said, “Sadly, this incident again shows that the A.Q.I. terrorists repeatedly risk the lives of innocent women and children to further their evil work.”

After the attack, 400 people gathered at the site, demonstrated peacefully against the raid and marched to the cemetery for the funeral.

Abdullah Hussein Jibara, the deputy governor of Salahuddin Province, said that he did not accept the initial explanations offered by the Americans to the Iraqi police in Ad Dwar and that they should have carried out more checks before the bombing.

“I condemn the random targeting of civilians and the excessive use of force against civilians,” he said. “It was better to use another method to avoid losses; this is the third incident during the past two months,” he said.

Fares Khatab, a sheik of the family’s tribe, said his relatives had fled to Ad Dwar from their home in Baghdad to escape the violence in the capital. “This family is an innocent family,” he said.

An Iraqi employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Ad Dwar, Iraq.


15) Behind Closed Doors, Warnings of Calamity
September 20, 2008

WASHINGTON — Gathered in the conference room just off House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s personal suite on the second floor of the Capitol, the Congressional leadership had just received the sobering news Thursday night that America’s economy remained in peril despite a series of sudden interventions by the Federal Reserve.

Then the other shoe dropped. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. told top members of both parties — about to leave Washington to assail one another in a bitter election season — that they had no choice but to pull together and quickly pass legislation providing billions of public dollars to take bad assets off the hands of the nation’s financial institutions.

“Do you know what you are asking me to do?” said Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader who has struggled all year against concerted Republican opposition, according to multiple participants at the Thursday night session. “It takes me 48 hours to get the Republicans to agree to flush the toilets around here.”

At that point, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader who duels constantly with Mr. Reid, reached over to assure his colleague they could work it out. “Harry,” Mr. McConnell said, “I think we need to do this, we should try to do this and we can do this.”

As Congress waited Friday for details of the plan, Congressional officials said members of both parties remained willing to move ahead despite reservations from the rank-and-file about exposing taxpayers to staggering costs that have yet to be disclosed.

In telephone briefings with lawmakers, Mr. Paulson and the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, sought to make it clear that the price of doing nothing could be calamitous.

“If we don’t get this, it will be nothing short of a disaster for our markets,” Mr. Bernanke told House Republicans in a conference call Friday, according to a detailed account of the call.

At the same time, Democrats sought to make it clear the final proposal had to take care of the general public as well as Wall Street.

Referring to a phone conversation with President Bush early Friday, Ms. Pelosi said: “As I told the president this morning, we are committed to quick, bipartisan action while ensuring that we uphold key principles — insulating Main Street from Wall Street and keeping people in their homes by reducing mortgage foreclosures, restoring market confidence and protecting American taxpayers from incurring hundreds of billions of dollars of debt.”

Yet it is evident that sentiments disclosed by the financial officials in the meeting Thursday night and in other briefings have made a strong impression on Congress. And the seriousness with which the administration is approaching the issue was evident in the fact that Mr. Bush for the first time in weeks also telephoned Mr. Reid, with whom he has had a strained relationship, to ask for his help in pushing through legislation.

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat, said that the Thursday-night session contained not a bit of levity and that the description of the financial predicament made him gulp. “When you get 20 politicians together and no one makes a joke, you know something is going on,” he said.

Although Mr. Schumer and others have declined to repeat precisely what they were told by Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke, they said the two men described the financial system as effectively bound in a knot that was being pulled tighter and tighter by the day.

“There was a long pause in the room,” Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, said.

In the Republican conference call Friday, Mr. Bernanke sought to remind lawmakers that voters have money at risk, not just Wall Street executives.

“Many of your constituents hold money in money markets — those funds are losing money,” he said, according to the account of the call provided by a listener. He blamed the deep problems in the housing market and said that the “critical issue is what do we do about these bad assets clogging up our credit system.”

The financial crisis comes at a delicate time for Congress. Lawmakers had been preparing to dispose of a few legislative issues and then adjourn at the end of next week for the elections. But the push for financial legislation has upended the schedule and given the two parties some incentive to work together.

Republicans warned Friday that Democrats should not try to take advantage of the situation, with Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader, saying the plan has to be kept “as simple and straightforward as possible.”

“Loading it up to score political points or fit a partisan agenda will only delay the economic stability that families, seniors and small businesses deserve,” he said.

Some conservatives who had already raised the alarm over federal intervention in the markets remained deeply skeptical of the plan.

“We are being asked to go ‘all in’ with taxpayer dollars, and once our government and the taxpayer is on the hook, there is no fallback option,” said Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “My fear is that taxpayers will be left with the mother of all debts, the federal government becomes the lender and guarantor of last resort and our nation finds itself on the slippery slope to socialism.”

Yet Republican leaders appeared determined to go along with the administration plan. “This is a very serious, very unpleasant problem to deal with,” said Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, No. 3 in the Senate Republican leadership. “But we must act next week to solve this situation.”

In their Friday conference call with Treasury and Fed officials, House Democrats, according to participants, accepted that the bailout was necessary but also faulted the administration for a reckless economic approach that combined deregulation, deficit spending and bad management.

In the closed-door Thursday night meeting, Democrats sought to make it clear to Republicans that the underlying initiative for the financial rescue was coming from the administration and that it was the White House that owned the proposal.

Participants said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, was particularly emphatic, noting that the administration was requesting unprecedented action on short notice, effectively telling Congress, “Trust us.”


16) Despite New Law, Subsidized Tenants Find Doors Closed
September 20, 2008

In March, New York City enacted a law making it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants who planned to use federal subsidies known as Section 8 vouchers to help pay their rent.

But Section 8 discrimination remains a widespread problem, housing advocates, tenant lawyers and voucher holders say. Renters are routinely turned away by landlords who refuse to accept the vouchers, and apartment listings continue to discourage Section 8 tenants from seeking advertised units with phrases like “No Section 8” and “No programs,” supporters of the law said.

Dilcia Escano tells what housing advocates assert is a common story. Ms. Escano, 34, a single mother and pharmacy worker who lives in Washington Heights with her three children, said her landlord and the landlord’s representatives refused to take her voucher before the law passed and then refused to take it afterward.

“He said, ‘No, we don’t recognize that,’” Ms. Escano said her landlord told her. “I thought, all is lost.”

The nonprofit Fair Housing Justice Center released a report this month that found that on one day in July on the Web site, there were 1,543 apartment listings posted by landlords and real estate brokers that discriminated against renters who receive government subsidies.

“If this ad said ‘No blacks allowed’ or ‘No Catholics allowed,’ there would rightfully be a huge uproar,” said City Councilman Bill de Blasio, a Brooklyn Democrat who introduced the bill that became the law. “Effectively what they’re doing is illegal, and it has to stop.”

The law prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their use of Section 8 vouchers or any other form of local, state or federal government assistance. It amended the city’s Human Rights Law by adding a person’s “lawful source of income” to the list of protected classes.

The law applies to landlords with six or more units. Owners of five or fewer units are excluded, with two exceptions. The law applies to rent-controlled tenants in buildings with five or fewer units, and to buildings with five or fewer units that are owned by a landlord who also owns a building with six or more units.

The vouchers, financed by the federal government but administered by two city agencies, had for decades virtually guaranteed landlords in struggling neighborhoods a modest profit for housing low-income New Yorkers. But as those neighborhoods have gentrified, voucher holders are finding that property owners who might have taken their vouchers in the past are now turning them away, despite the new law.

Section 8 tenants, many of whom are poor, disabled or elderly black and Hispanic residents, pay about 30 percent of their income toward rent, and the vouchers cover the rest.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg criticized the bill for prohibiting private owners from making sound business decisions about their property while turning a voluntary government program into a mandatory one. The mayor vetoed the measure, but the City Council overrode the veto on March 26, and the law took effect immediately.

Since then, housing advocates have complained that the city has not done enough to enforce the law or to notify the public about its passage. Lawyers for landlords and tenants, meanwhile, are disputing whether the law applies to both prospective and current tenants.

A recent cursory review of Craigslist found dozens of listings for New York City apartments with phrases like “No Section 8.” Some of the listings make it a point to welcome renters with pets, but state bluntly, “No programs accepted in this building.”

Mr. de Blasio has written two letters to executives at Craigslist, advising them to discontinue the listings, and said he was considering protests or legal action against the Web site if the listings continue.

The law prohibits the circulation of housing advertisements that discriminate based on a person’s source of income.

A spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio said that a lawyer for Craigslist contacted the Council’s General Welfare Committee, of which Mr. de Blasio is chairman, and said that the Web site was taking the matter seriously.

An e-mail message sent to Craigslist seeking comment did not receive a response.

One ad reading “No Section 8” for a two-bedroom apartment in a 32-unit building in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, boasted that the building “has more than 60 percent gentrified.” When asked about the law, a man listed as the “showing agent” said the landlord did not accept Section 8. “You’re asking questions I can’t answer,” he said before hanging up.

Others who placed ads barring Section 8 tenants said they were unaware of the law. “I didn’t know that,” said Veronica Dumitru, a real estate agent who posted a Craigslist ad for a Queens apartment reading, “No Section 8 or other programs please.” She said she was going to remove the language from her listings.

Diane L. Houk, executive director of the fair housing group, said the report, the advertisements and other data from their research were given to the authorities, including the state attorney general’s office. She said the report illustrated the frequency of the practice in just one month on one Web site.

“It’s not limited to any particular size apartment or to a borough or to a price range or to a kind of building or broker,” Ms. Houk said. “If you’re the tenant looking, it’s going to hit you at some point in your search.”

The city’s Commission on Human Rights opposed the bill when it was before the City Council, saying that it would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to an already successful program. Now the commission is in charge of enforcing the new law for the city.

Since March, the commission has investigated or received 77 complaints of source of income discrimination, said Cliff Mulqueen, its deputy commissioner and general counsel. Of those complaints, 15 were resolved and the tenants’ vouchers were accepted after the commission contacted the property owners. The 62 other complaints became official cases. Some of those cases have since been settled, while 33 of them remain unresolved and active, he said.

The commission has the power to fine a landlord and award the tenant compensatory damages. No landlord has received a fine, he said. “We’re actively enforcing the law,” said Mr. Mulqueen, adding that the commission also monitors and looks into “No Section 8” advertisements on Craigslist. “I guess we could always do more. We’re doing what we can do.”

The Legal Aid Society has sued about 90 landlords from around the city in three separate lawsuits, alleging that they violated the law by refusing to take the vouchers of dozens of tenants. One of the tenants they are representing is Ms. Escano in Washington Heights.

Maxwell Breed, a lawyer for Ms. Escano’s landlord, Mon-Rose Realty Corporation, said: “Our policy is not to comment on pending litigation.”

Landlords who opposed the creation of the law said their refusal to accept the vouchers had nothing to do with race or class. They said that getting involved in the city’s Section 8 program by accepting vouchers was a bureaucratic nightmare of payment delays, apartment inspections and other problems.

Mitchell Posilkin, general counsel for the Rent Stabilization Association, a trade group that represents thousands of New York City landlords and property managers, said the group does not condone violations of the source of income law.

“On the other hand,” he said, “it seems pretty evident to us that a lot of people in the industry simply don’t know that this sort of practice is illegal. At least for the last decade it’s been entirely lawful to refuse to rent to tenants with vouchers.”




Wisconsin: A Gloomy Assessment for Milwaukee Public Schools
National Briefing | Midwest
Members of the Milwaukee Public Schools board passed a resolution to explore dissolving the school system, but state education officials said the board did not have the authority to actually do so. The board’s 6-to-3 vote to research the possibility came after Superintendent William G. Andrekopoulos described the city’s school financing structure as “broken,” painting a bleak picture of steep property tax increases and deep budget cuts. But dissolving the public school system would require action in the Legislature, or else the City Council would have to change Milwaukee’s city classification, sparking other changes in governance, said Patrick Gasper of the Wisconsin Department of Education. While the full nine-member school board voted, it was a committee vote, and the proposal faces a final vote on Thursday.
September 20, 2008

California: Chief Wants Officers Fired for Misconduct
National Briefing | West
Police Chief William J. Bratton of Los Angeles has recommended that four officers be fired for misconduct when force was used to clear a park in a 2007 immigration rally. He also recommended that 11 other officers face discipline ranging from reprimands to suspensions of up to 10 days without pay. The rally ended when the police formed a skirmish line and swept through the crowd in MacArthur Park. Some officers struck peaceful rallygoers and journalists with batons and bean-bag rounds. A personnel investigation led to 80 accusations against 29 officers. The chief sustained 31 accusations against 15 officers.
September 17, 2008

Health Costs: More Burden on the Worker
The Count
Don’t cheer when you hear that health care cost increases are expected to ease slightly for employers in 2009. This is not a sign that medical costs are beginning to stabilize. Rather, it means that businesses are moving aggressively to shift the burden to their employees.
Mercer, the consulting firm, expects employers’ health benefit costs to rise 5.7 percent in 2009, based on preliminary results of a survey. Increases have hovered at about 6 percent a year since 2005.
If you are on your company’s health plan, you might want to brace yourself for higher deductibles, as well as higher co-payments, higher premiums or both. You might also end up joining a consumer-directed plan, in which, for example, you would pay a lower premium in exchange for a higher upfront deductible.
Businesses also say they intend to improve their health and wellness programs so that their employees don’t stay sick as long and — in the best-case situation — don’t become sick in the first place.
September 14, 2008

Bishops Want Immigration Raids to End
National Briefing | Immigration
Roman Catholic bishops urged the Bush administration to halt workplace immigration raids, saying the “humanitarian cost” was “unacceptable in a civilized society.” Speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, John C. Wester, the bishop of Salt Lake City said that the escalating number of worksite raids over the past year had spread fear in immigrant communities and had made it difficult for detained immigrants to obtain legal representation. Bishop Wester also called on the Department of Homeland Security to refrain from conducting raids in churches, health centers and schools.
September 12, 2008

Mississippi: Conviction Overturned
National Briefing | South
A federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned the conviction of a reputed Ku Klux Klan member serving three life sentences for his role in the 1964 abduction and killing of two black teenagers in southwest Mississippi. The man, James Ford Seale, 73, was convicted in June 2007 on kidnapping and conspiracy charges related to the abductions of the teenagers, Charles E. Moore and Henry H. Dee. A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the statute of limitations for kidnapping had expired in the decades between the crimes and the charges.
September 11, 2008

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

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

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




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


12 year old Ossetian girl tells the truth about Georgia.



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

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

project of BARRIO UNIDO


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

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

Free Robin Long now!
Support GI resistance!

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

What you can do now to support Robin

1. Donate to Robin's legal defense


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

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

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

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

2. Send letters of support to Robin

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

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

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

3. Send Robin a money order for commissary items

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

4. Send Robin a book

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Hanover, VA - July 27, 2008 -

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make a Difference! Call Today!

Call Now!

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

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

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

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

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


Write to Dr. Al-Arian

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

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

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

Email Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace:


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

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

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

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

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

Watch at


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


Alison Bodine defense Committee
Lift the Two-year Ban

Watch the Sept 28 Video on Alison's Case!


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




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

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


Stop the Termination or the Cherokee Nation


We Didn't Start the Fire

I Can't Take it No More

The Art of Mental Warfare

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




Port of Olympia Anti-Militarization Action Nov. 2007


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

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

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

—MALCOLM X, 1965


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


LAPD vs. Immigrants (Video)


Dr. Julia Hare at the SOBA 2007


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


Wealth Inequality Charts


MALCOLM X: Oxford University Debate


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


YouTube clip of Che before the UN in 1964


The Wealthiest Americans Ever
NYT Interactive chart
JULY 15, 2007


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


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


Which country should we invade next?


My Favorite Mutiny, The Coup


Michael Moore- The Awful Truth


Morse v. Frederick Supreme Court arguments


Free Speech 4 Students Rally - Media Montage


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


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


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


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


FIGHTBACK! A Collection of Socialist Essays
By Sylvia Weinstein


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



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

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

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

The link/URL to the website is

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC