Saturday, October 18, 2008



"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

Thomas Jefferson 1802



Justices Clear Way for Execution in Georgia
October 15, 2008

Amnesty International is still collecting signatures to send a message to Georgia's Parole Board, which has the power to let him live. Save Troy Davis. Troy is innocent.



Where we are at. An appeal for support
Jeff Paterson
Courage to Resist Project Director
October 15, 2008

I'm proud to report that we have more than doubled the number of military objectors advised or directly supported since last year. To do this, our organizing collective has stepped up to the challenge in major ways, and we increased our staffing as well.

We're now attempting to do this work in the context of an unprecedented economic meltdown that financially affects every one of us in some way. Even prior to that, we were competing with a historic presidential election campaign for your donation. Of course we hold out hope for a new foreign policy not based on brutal occupations, but we're not holding our breath. If change does happen, it will take time for any new foreign policy to trickle down to the courageous men and women who are refusing to fight today.

Quick facts about our budget:

--86 percent of our entire budget has come directly from folks such as you.
--We currently rely on approximately 2,000 contributors across the U.S.
--The average donation we receive is just over $40.
--About half of our budget goes directly to supporting individual resisters.
--The remaining 14 percent of our budget comes from small grants made by progressive foundations.

Recently, we brought on board Sarah Lazare as Project Coordinator who has hit the ground running working with resisters, publishing articles, and collaborating with our allies in the justice and peace movement. Sarah is a former union organizer, Democracy Now! intern, and volunteer at a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Also new to our staff is our Office Manager Adam Seibert, who like me is a former Marine. Adam served in Somalia prior to going UA / AWOL under threat of another combat deployment.

I've never felt better about our staff and organizing collective. We're undertaking urgent and unique work that directly contributes to ending war. However, we are currently running a $4,000 monthly deficit. Whether we can move forward with our work to support the troops who refuse to fight is in large part based on your shared commitment to this project.

For a review of our current work with resisters Tony Anderson, Blake Ivy, Robin Long, and our women and men fighting to remain in Canada, please check our homepage. We have also posted an organizational timeline of action that details our work since 2003.

Today I'm asking that you consider a contribution of $100 or more, or become a sustainer at $20 or more a month. With your direct assistance, I'm confident we'll be able to move forward together in challenging our government's policies of empire. Together we have the power to end the war.

Jeff Paterson
Courage to Resist Project Director
First U.S. military serviceperson to refuse to fight in Iraq


A Joint Statement from United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and the ANSWER Coalition


“We’re watching the San Francisco situation very closely,” said Curtis Gillroy, an official in the Defense Department’s office for personnel and military readiness, according to a recent Associated Press report.

The peace and justice movement in San Francisco is engaged in an historic struggle that demands the attention of antiwar activists everywhere.

In 2006, the San Francisco Unified School District became the first major school district in the country to eliminate an existing Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program from its high schools. JROTC is one of the military’s primary recruitment tools, aimed at students as young as 14 and 15.

The Pentagon and its allies immediately launched their counterattack. Now they have placed Proposition V on the November ballot, asking San Franciscans to support the military program. In 2005, nearly 60% of San Franciscans voted to eliminate military recruiters from their schools. But the proponents of Proposition V are telling the Big Lie, denying that JROTC is a military recruitment program—and they have already collected over $85,000 for their campaign of lies from the likes of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the San Francisco Police Officers Association, and various military organizations around the country.

The peace and justice movement cannot let the JROTC military recruiters back into our schools. If we do, then our movement will be set back immeasurably—not just in San Francisco, but throughout the country.

This is not a mere symbolic battle. If we can keep JROTC out of our schools, it will materially affect the ability of the warmakers to conduct their ongoing wars of aggression, and save the lives of many young men and women.

Many people in the LGBT community are in this fight as well because we know that the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is just one facet of the homophobia rampant in the military.

You can help us today. We need to raise thousands more dollars to pay for our campaign coordinator, for literature, for window signs, and, if possible, for mail to San Francisco voters.

Donations can be made on-line, right now, at,
or by mail to: No on V, 2467 28th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94116.

In addition, if you live in the Bay Area, and can put in some volunteer time to hold a sign, staff a table, or to distribute our literature, please immediately contact our campaign coordinator, Marko Matillano, at, or at (415) 565-0201, ext. 14.

In gratitude and peace,
Siri Margerin, United for Peace and Justice, Bay Area
Richard Becker, ANSWER Coalition—Act Now to Stop War & End Racism, Bay Area

P.S. Time is of the essence, so please consider how you can support the No on V campaign NOW.


Reminder: March & Rally for Social & Economic Justice This Sunday!

Sunday, October 19
Assemble at 16th St. and Mission at 11:00 A.M.
March down Mission Street at 12:00 NOON
Rally, 24th St. and Mission at 1:00 P.M.

March and Rally for Social and Economic Justice for All
Regardless of Race or Immigration Status

-Living Wage Jobs
-Universal Health Care
-Affordable Housing
-Quality Public Education
-Progressive Taxation of Corporations and the Wealthy

Sponsors: American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, California Nurses Association, California State University Employees Union Local 2579 SEIU, Church Women United, Cindy Sheehan for Congress, Communication Workers of America Local 9404, Instituto Laboral De La Raza, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Northern California District Council, Ironworkers Local 377, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement--SF chapt., Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 3, Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21, Robert Guter, Roofers Union Local 40, San Francisco Labor Council, San Francisco Living Wage Coalition, Service Employees International Union Local 1021, Transport Worker Union Local 250A, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 648, UFCW Local 101
Endorsers: Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), Bay Area Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, Colectiva de Mujeres, Marc Norton, Mitzi Raas, People Organized to Win Employment Rights, Poor Magazine, Rodger Scott, Tom Brown

For more information or to volunteer or donate,
call (415) 863-1225; fax (415) 863-1927;


Protest at mortgage bankers associates annual conference in SF

No foreclosures - No evictions
No bank bailouts - Housing is a right!

Sun. Oct. 19, 3pm Protest at opening ceremony of conference, Moscone West, 4th St. and Howard, SF

Mon. Oct. 20, 8am - Protest during Opening General Session, Moscone West, 4th St. and Howard, SF

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Chairmen headline Opening General Session and Annual Business Meeting from 8:30am-10:30am.

Initiated by ANSWER Coalition. To co-sponsor, please reply to this email or call 415-821-6545.

By George Harrison

Have you seen the little piggies
Crawling in the dirt?
And for all the little piggies
Life is getting worse,
Always having dirt
To play around in.

Have you seen the bigger piggies
In their starched white shirts?
You will find the bigger piggies
Stirring up the dirt,
Always have clean shirts
To play around in.

In their sties, with all their backing,
They don't care what goes on around.
In their eyes, there's something lacking;
What they need's a damn good whacking!

Everywhere there's lots of piggies,
Living piggy lives.
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives,
Clutching forks and knives
To eat their bacon.


The Howard Thurman Convocation presents:
Chaplain James Yee, Former U.S. Army Chaplain, Guantanamo Bay
Sunday, October 19, 2008, 3:00 PM
The Church for The Fellowship of All Peoples
2041 Larkin Street/Broadway, SF 94109, (415) 776-4910

“The movement of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men often call them to act against the spirit of their times or causes them to anticipate the spirit which is yet in the making. In a moment of dedication, they are given wisdom and courage to dare a deed that challenges and to kindle a hope that inspires.”

~ Howard Thurman, Footprints of a Dream, 1959

Captain James J. Yee is a former US Army Chaplain and graduate of West Point who served as the Muslim Chaplain for the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that became controversial for its treatment of detainees designated as "enemy combatants" by the U.S. government. While ministering to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Captain Yee objected to the cruel and degrading abuses to which the prisoners were subjected. This outspokenness led to his arrest and imprisonment, while being falsely accused of spying and espionage. After months of government investigation, all criminal charges were dropped. With his record wiped clean, Chaplain Yee resigned from the U.S. Army receiving an Honorable Discharge and was later awarded a second Army Commendation Medal for "exceptionally meritorious service."

Chaplain Yee's gripping account of his Guantanamo experience and struggle for justice has been recently published and is entitled For God And Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire. The Washington Post called it "required reading for all U.S. officials waging war on Islamic terrorists." Chaplain Yee will deliver the keynote address, “Faith in a time of Crisis.”

For faithful courage in pursuit of justice, Chaplain James J. Yee will receive the 2008 Howard Thurman Award.

A reception and book signing will immediately follow the 3pm program, downstairs in Thurman Hall. This is a free event and donations are greatly appreciated. Persons with special needs should contact the church office in advance, at (415) 776-4910. Public transportation is advised as street parking is quite limited.

To learn more about Dr. Howard Thurman, The Howard Thurman Center and the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, please visit our website at

joyce umamoto



SATURDAY OCT 25, 12 NOON - 4:30 PM
CIVIC CENTER PARK (Provo Park), MLK Jr. Way & Allston
near Berkeley BART & Farmers' Market.
local candidates invited.
Music: Annie and the Vets, Brazen Squirrels,
Stephanie Hendricks, Carole Denny, Hali Hammer & others.
Info:, 510-841-4824 Or 510-495-5132.
Sponsored by Social Justice Committee, Berkeley Fellowshp UU's.


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

UPDATED: September 26, 2008

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 July13, 2008. We urge antiwar organizations around the country to endorse the letter. Please send notice of endorsements to

Open Letter to the U.S. Antiwar Movement

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; Thea Paneth, Arlington/Lexington United for Justice with Peace; Andy Pollack, Adalah/NY; Adam Ritscher, United Steelworkers Local 9460*; Vince Scarich, Los Altos Voices for Peace; 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; Duluth Area Green Party; 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; Donna Howard, Co-Chair, Nonviolent Peaceforce; 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*; Ronald Miller, Progressive Action; 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; Arielle Schnur, Students for Peace; 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


The NO on Proposition V website:


San Francisco Proposition U is on the November ballot.

Shall it be City policy to advocate that its elected representatives in the
United States Senate and House of Representatives vote against any further
funding for the deployment of United States Armed Forces in Iraq, with the
exception of funds specifically earmarked to provide for their safe and
orderly withdrawal.

If you'd like to help us out please contact me. Donations would be wonderful, we need them for signs and buttons. Please see the link on our web site.

Thank you.

Rick Hauptman
Prop U Steering Commiittee

tel 415-861-7425



The Battle Of Sadr City

Weaponry so advanced that it spots the enemy and destroys it from nearly two miles above the battlefield made the difference in the fight for Sadr City last spring. Lesley Stahl's report shows rare footage of the weaponry in action.

October 13, 2008


"Meditating on the current U.S. public debt—$10,266 trillions—that President Bush is laying on the shoulders of the new generations in that country, I took to calculating how long it would take a man to count the debt that he has doubled in eight years.

"A man working eight hours a day, without missing a second, and counting one hundred one-dollar bills per minute, during 300 days in the year, would need 710 billion years to count that amount of money." —Fidel Castro Ruz, October 11, 2008


Check out this video of the Oct. 11 protest in Boston:

Video: Peace Rally in Providence
October 11th, 2008
Rhode Island Community Coalition for Peace held an anti-war and pro immigration rally at Dexter Training Grounds, beside the Cranston Armory, followed by a march that ended up at Burnside Park around 4:30 p.m. There were 200 people at the rally and more joined the march along the way. Providence Journal video by Kathy Borchers




1) Let’s Get Fiscal
Op-Ed Columnist
October 17, 2008

2) A ‘Dose of Nature’ for Attention Problems
Tara Parker-Pope
October 17, 2008, 12:09 pm

3) Killing in a small town raises hate crime fears
By Howard Witt
Tribune correspondent
October 5, 2008,0,977683.story

4) New Obstacle to Parole Hearings for Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim
NYS letter denies request
www.freethesf8. org/donate. html
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR)
PO Box 90221
Pasadena, CA 91109
(415) 226-1120
FreetheSF8@riseup. net
www.freethesf8. org

5) Climbing Down the Ladder
Op-Ed Columnist
October 18, 2008

6) Last-Minute Mischief
October 18, 2008

7) From Door to Door, Foreclosure Knocks Here
October 19, 2008

8) Iraqis March in Baghdad to Protest Security Pact
October 19, 2008

9) U.S. Strike Is Said to Kill Qaeda Figure in Pakistan
October 18, 2008

10) Easing of Mine Dumping Rules Proposed
October 19, 2008

11) Off the Charts
How Voters See the Bailout
"One question in the poll asked if the beneficiaries would be 'mostly just a few big investors and people who work on Wall Street' or whether it would help 'homeowners and people throughout the country as well.' A large majority of those polled--63 percent--thought the bailout would benefit only Wall Street..."
October 18, 2008

12) Arizona Sheriff Conducts Immigration Raid at City Hall, Angering Officials
October 18, 2008

13) Judge Says No to Teachers’ Campaign Buttons, but Yes to Certain Politicking
October 18, 2008


1) Let’s Get Fiscal
Op-Ed Columnist
October 17, 2008

The Dow is surging! No, it’s plunging! No, it’s surging! No, it’s ...

Nevermind. While the manic-depressive stock market is dominating the headlines, the more important story is the grim news coming in about the real economy. It’s now clear that rescuing the banks is just the beginning: the nonfinancial economy is also in desperate need of help.

And to provide that help, we’re going to have to put some prejudices aside. It’s politically fashionable to rant against government spending and demand fiscal responsibility. But right now, increased government spending is just what the doctor ordered, and concerns about the budget deficit should be put on hold.

Before I get there, let’s talk about the economic situation.

Just this week, we learned that retail sales have fallen off a cliff, and so has industrial production. Unemployment claims are at steep-recession levels, and the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index is falling at the fastest pace in almost 20 years. All signs point to an economic slump that will be nasty, brutish — and long.

How nasty? The unemployment rate is already above 6 percent (and broader measures of underemployment are in double digits). It’s now virtually certain that the unemployment rate will go above 7 percent, and quite possibly above 8 percent, making this the worst recession in a quarter-century.

And how long? It could be very long indeed.

Think about what happened in the last recession, which followed the bursting of the late-1990s technology bubble. On the surface, the policy response to that recession looks like a success story. Although there were widespread fears that the United States would experience a Japanese-style “lost decade,” that didn’t happen: the Federal Reserve was able to engineer a recovery from that recession by cutting interest rates.

But the truth is that we were looking Japanese for quite a while: the Fed had a hard time getting traction. Despite repeated interest rate cuts, which eventually brought the federal funds rate down to just 1 percent, the unemployment rate just kept on rising; it was more than two years before the job picture started to improve. And when a convincing recovery finally did come, it was only because Alan Greenspan had managed to replace the technology bubble with a housing bubble.

Now the housing bubble has burst in turn, leaving the financial landscape strewn with wreckage. Even if the ongoing efforts to rescue the banking system and unfreeze the credit markets work — and while it’s early days yet, the initial results have been disappointing — it’s hard to see housing making a comeback any time soon. And if there’s another bubble waiting to happen, it’s not obvious. So the Fed will find it even harder to get traction this time.

In other words, there’s not much Ben Bernanke can do for the economy. He can and should cut interest rates even more — but nobody expects this to do more than provide a slight economic boost.

On the other hand, there’s a lot the federal government can do for the economy. It can provide extended benefits to the unemployed, which will both help distressed families cope and put money in the hands of people likely to spend it. It can provide emergency aid to state and local governments, so that they aren’t forced into steep spending cuts that both degrade public services and destroy jobs. It can buy up mortgages (but not at face value, as John McCain has proposed) and restructure the terms to help families stay in their homes.

And this is also a good time to engage in some serious infrastructure spending, which the country badly needs in any case. The usual argument against public works as economic stimulus is that they take too long: by the time you get around to repairing that bridge and upgrading that rail line, the slump is over and the stimulus isn’t needed. Well, that argument has no force now, since the chances that this slump will be over anytime soon are virtually nil. So let’s get those projects rolling.

Will the next administration do what’s needed to deal with the economic slump? Not if Mr. McCain pulls off an upset. What we need right now is more government spending — but when Mr. McCain was asked in one of the debates how he would deal with the economic crisis, he answered: “Well, the first thing we have to do is get spending under control.”

If Barack Obama becomes president, he won’t have the same knee-jerk opposition to spending. But he will face a chorus of inside-the-Beltway types telling him that he has to be responsible, that the big deficits the government will run next year if it does the right thing are unacceptable.

He should ignore that chorus. The responsible thing, right now, is to give the economy the help it needs. Now is not the time to worry about the deficit.


2) A ‘Dose of Nature’ for Attention Problems
Tara Parker-Pope
October 17, 2008, 12:09 pm

Parents of children with attention deficit problems are always looking for new strategies to help their children cope. An interesting new study suggests that spending time in nature may help.

A small study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign looked at how the environment influenced a child’s concentration skills. The researchers evaluated 17 children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, who all took part in three 20-minute walks in a park, a residential neighborhood and a downtown area.

After each walk, the children were given a standard test called Digit Span Backwards, in which a series of numbers are said aloud and the child recites them backwards. The test is a useful measure of attention and concentration because practice doesn’t improve the score. The order of the walks varied for all the children, and the tester wasn’t aware of which walk the child had just taken.

The study, published in the August issue of The Journal of Attention Disorders, found that children were able to focus better after the “green” walks compared to walks in other settings.

Although the study is small, the data support several earlier studies suggesting that natural settings influence psychological health. In 2004, a survey of parents of 450 children found that “green” outdoor activities reduced A.D.H.D. symptoms more than activities in other settings.

“What this particular study tells us is that the physical environment matters,” said Frances E. Kuo, director of the university’s Landscape and Human Health Laboratory. “We don’t know what it is about the park, exactly — the greenness or lack of buildings — that seems to improve attention.”

Dr. Kuo noted that the study used tight controls to make sure that the walks were identical except for the environment. Who the child was with, noise levels, the length of time, the time of day and whether the child was on medication stayed constant.

“If we kept everything else the same, and we just changed the environment, we still saw a measurable difference in children’s symptoms,” Dr. Kuo said. “And that’s completely new. No one has done a study looking at a child in different environments, in a controlled comparison where everything else is the same.”

Dr. Kuo said more children were initially involved in the study, but logistical problems like weather changes, late arrivals or changes in medication made it difficult to maintain tight control, leaving the study with just 17 children from which to draw conclusions.

Despite the small size, the study is important because it involves an objective test of attention and doesn’t rely on children’s or parents’ impressions. During the walks, all of the children were unmedicated — participants who normally took medications to control their A.D.H.D. symptoms stayed off the drugs on the days of the walks.

The researchers found that a “dose of nature” worked as well or better than a dose of medication on the child’s ability to concentrate. What’s not clear is how long the nature effect can last.

Dr. Kuo said that while there are “hints” exposure to green outdoor settings offers a benefit, the science isn’t advanced enough to give parents a strict formula.

“We can’t say for sure, ‘two hours of outdoor play will get you this many days of good behavior,’ but we can say it’s worth trying,” she said. “We can say that as little as 20 minutes of outdoor exposure could potentially buy you an afternoon or a couple of hours to get homework done.”

Dr. Kuo said it’s notable that parents themselves consistently report benefits for their children from green settings.

“One reason we believe this is that if the effect were short-lived, we don’t think that parents would have so consistently observed it,” she said. “But they do. They report it over and over.”


3) Killing in a small town raises hate crime fears
By Howard Witt
Tribune correspondent
October 5, 2008,0,977683.story

PARIS, Texas - When the mutilated and partially dismembered body of Brandon McClelland, a 24-year-old black man, turned up lying in the middle of a rural east Texas road one morning last month, the police immediately pronounced the case a hit-and-run by an unknown driver.

Within a few days, however, suspicions turned toward two white friends who had picked up McClelland in their truck a few hours before he was found dead early on Sept. 16. Despite signs that the truck had been washed, authorities discovered blood and other physical evidence on the undercarriage and arrested the two men, both with long criminal histories, for murder.

Now this small, racially divided town--already seared with a racist label by civil rights groups last year over differences in how blacks and whites were treated by the local justice system--is on edge yet again, wondering if it's got a horrific new hate crime on its hands.

The district attorney insists race had nothing to do with McClelland's death and police investigators are portraying the case as an apparent falling-out among friends.

But McClelland's relatives and Paris civil rights leaders are less certain. Citing the violence done to McClelland's body and reports that one of the alleged assailants, Shannon Finley, had white supremacist ties, they are demanding that Paris authorities investigate the case as a possible hate crime akin to the infamous 1998 lynching of James Byrd Jr., in Jasper, Texas, 250 miles south of here.

Byrd was dragged to his death behind a pickup truck by three white supremacists who were later convicted of murder. McClelland was walking in front of the pickup when Finley, 27, and a friend, Charles Ryan Crostley, 27, who was also arrested, allegedly ran him down and then dragged him 40 feet along the road until his mutilated body popped out from beneath the chassis, according to a police affidavit accompanying the warrant for Finley's arrest.

"If you take somebody out to the country like that in the middle of the night and do that to him in that way, that's how they do black people around here," said Brenda Cherry, a local activist working with McClelland's family. "To me, it smells like Jasper."

Paris' race relations came under withering national scrutiny last year after the Tribune reported the case of Shaquanda Cotton, a 14-year-old African-American youth who was sentenced by a local judge to up to seven years in a youth prison for shoving a hall monitor at her high school. Just three months earlier, the same judge had sentenced a 14-year-old white girl to probation after convicting her of the more serious crime of arson for burning down her family's house.

The discrepancy in the treatment of the two teenagers provoked protests from national civil rights groups and led to Cotton's early release from prison. Now McClelland's family fears that Paris officials, eager to protect their city of 26,000 from another round of negative publicity over race relations, are purposefully downplaying potential racial overtones in McClelland's murder.

"At the crime scene, it looked like these boys went back and poured beer on my son's body," said Jacqueline McClelland, Brandon's mother. "Two beer cans were lying out there, but the police didn't even pick them up, they just left evidence out there. They won't even consider the racial issues. That's the way it is in Paris."

Even the editor of the local newspaper, normally an impassioned defender of Paris' reputation, has cautioned law enforcement officials to be thorough and "leave no stone unturned" in their investigation.

"Hopefully, this community has learned from its past," Mary Madewell wrote in the Paris News. "... Even if our worst fears prove to be true, let us realize that the actions of single individuals should in no way bring condemnation to an entire community."

Family members and other critics are also concerned about the impartiality of Lamar County District Atty. Gary Young, who five years ago, before he was elected prosecutor, served as Finley's court-appointed defense attorney when Finley pleaded guilty to manslaughter for shooting a friend to death.

Young has declined to state whether he will recuse himself and other prosecutors in his office from handling the McClelland case.

Although the victim in Finley's 2003 manslaughter case was white, race played a role in the incident. Finley told police he was sitting in a pickup with his friend in a park when two gun-wielding black men supposedly walked up alongside and tried to rob them. Finley said he grabbed his friend's handgun and fired at the robbers, but instead shot his friend.

An autopsy determined that the victim suffered three gunshot wounds to the head, but the district attorney at the time accepted Finley's contention that the shooting was an accident and offered him a plea bargain on a reduced manslaughter charge. Finley served three years of a 4-year prison sentence. The alleged robbers were never found.

That manslaughter case also tied Finley and McClelland closely together. McClelland furnished a false alibi for Finley, testifying before a grand jury that Finley was with him at the time the shooting occurred. That lie under oath earned McClelland a conviction for aggravated perjury, for which he served two years in prison.

Largely because of that connection between McClelland and Finley, police discount the possibility that race played a part in McClelland's death. "I don't see how it was racial, being as how they were good friends," said Stacy McNeal, the Texas Ranger who is the lead investigator on the case.

But McClelland's relatives say they have heard that Finley fell in with white supremacists while in prison and that he had grown upset over Brandon's overtures to a white girl--factors they say the police ought to investigate.

"I always told Brandon that Finley was bad news and he should stay away from him," said Ervin Barry, a friend of McClelland's. "But Brandon thought they were good friends."

Race relations in Paris, Texas: An update

SHAQUANDA COTTON: The black high school freshman whose sentence of up to seven years in prison for shoving a school hall monitor drew national scrutiny to the town's justice system was released from prison in March 2007. Now 17, she is studying for her GED certificate and hopes to attend junior college.

TASK FORCE: Citizens concerned about racial fissures in town exposed by the Cotton case convened a local Diversity Task Force, which has held several meetings and last month hosted a community-wide block party attended by several hundred residents.

INVESTIGATION: The U.S. Department of Education last month concluded a two-year investigation of allegedly discriminatory disciplinary policies in the Paris public schools. The agency said it found "insufficient evidence to support a conclusion" that black students were being disciplined more harshly than whites.


4) New Obstacle to Parole Hearings for Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim
NYS letter denies request
www.freethesf8. org/donate. html
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR)
PO Box 90221
Pasadena, CA 91109
(415) 226-1120
FreetheSF8@riseup. net
www.freethesf8. org

The transfer of SF8 defend ants Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim from the San Francisco County Jail back to New York State for their rightful parole hearings has been blocked by both state governors for weeks and NYS now wants to deny this right for good. This comes despite previous agreements in the courtroom between the California State prosecutors, the presiding judge and, of course, the brothers and their attorneys.
In a new – but not surprising – development, a letter from Steve Krantz, Assistant Counsel to the Governor of New York to Peter Smith, Deputy Attorney General of California dated October 10, 2008 states:

Procedures in this area are designed to balance a variety of considerations, including the needs of the judicial system and executive concerns such as security and administration. Even assuming that the amendments sought would be consistent with California law, in the absence of a demonstrated need to depart from usual procedures as reflected in the Executive Agreements, the Governor of New York does not plan to seek amendments to those agreements.

Stuart Hanlon, who represents Herman Bell, responded "If the government wanted to move an in-custody snitch, they would do it in a second…none of the government extradition rules would stop them. It is for the punitive impact that the government is hiding behind bureaucratic language in preventing them from being in New York for their rightful parole hearings – to avoid doing what is fair and right. This is bureaucratic b******t."

Judge Philip Moscone signed an order in May allowing Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim to return to New York State for their parole hearings. All parties agreed at that time that the move would be temporary; Herman and Jalil waived their rights to fight extradition back to California.

This vindictive and mean-spirited procedural obstacle was immediately challenged by defense attorneys. Strong arguments were made to guarantee Herman and Jalil's right to "pursue their liberty interests" and have parole hearings. Both have served over 35 years in prison as model prisoners. Both were targeted originally by COINTELPRO as members of the Black Panther Party.

New York Attorney Bob Boyle argued in a declaration to the San Francisco Court that if the men remain in California, "they would be denied their parole hearing for years." In a subsequent interview, he also said:

The state waited 35 years to bring these spurious criminal charges. Now these charges are being used to deny these men parole hearings to which they are entitled. Whatever concerns the government has can be overcome by a simple modification of the extradition order. All Herman and Jalil are asking for is an opportunity to attend their hearings.

Please contact the Governors of New York and California by phone, letter, fax, or email:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160
Email: gov/interact# email
David A. Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Email: http://161.11. 121.121/govemail

Urge them to sign the amended Executive Agreements which will allow Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) to return to New York State to attend their rightful parole hearings.

Please support these brothers by sending a donation. Make checks payable to CDHR/Agape and mail to the address below or donate on line:

www.freethesf8. org/donate. html
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR)
PO Box 90221
Pasadena, CA 91109
(415) 226-1120
FreetheSF8@riseup. net
www.freethesf8. org


5) Climbing Down the Ladder
Op-Ed Columnist
October 18, 2008

I asked Kim Richardson, who is 59 and lives in a modest ranch house in Rocky Mount, N.C., what she would do if a hearing next month goes against her and she loses her home to foreclosure.

After a long pause, she said, in a voice faint from worry, “I don’t know. I’ll be out on the street, I guess. I don’t have anywhere to go.”

Ms. Richardson, who lives on a pair of monthly disability checks, lies awake night after night, unable to fend off the frightening homeless scenarios that dominate her thoughts. “I never believed that anything like this could ever, ever happen to me,” she said.

If you believe Ms. Richardson’s account, and I do, she was fast-talked into a mortgage that would have been impossible to pay off with her fixed income. Foreclosure would have seemed inevitable. But Ms. Richardson and her current lawyer, Carlene McNulty of Raleigh, N.C., said the figures that would have made it obvious to Ms. Richardson that she couldn’t afford the mortgage were deliberately concealed.

While the news media have been focusing on the banks, brokerage houses and mega-millionaires being buffeted by the ill winds of the financial crisis, the millions of lower- and middle-income Americans sinking toward the protracted hell of destitution are getting very little attention.

Older Americans are taking a particularly wicked hit. Analysts at AARP have found that “Americans age 50 and over represent about 28 percent of all delinquencies and foreclosures in the current crisis.”

Losing a home to foreclosure is a disaster for anyone. It’s a catastrophe for older people. The AARP Public Policy Institute, in a recent report, poignantly explained: “For Americans age 50 and over, losing a house represents a loss from which there is limited time to recover, and for some, a recovery may be impossible given their age and limited incomes.”

When Ms. Richardson bought her house in December 2005, she tried to make it clear that she could not afford monthly payments much higher than $500. Fine, she was told. She closed the deal with the understanding that she had a fixed-rate mortgage with monthly payments of $537. Prudent and skeptical, she tried to find out if there were any economic bombs hidden in the confusing mass of paperwork that she was confronted with.

“I had all these stacks of papers at the closing,” she told me, “and they were just passing papers back and forth to me, back and forth, telling me to sign. And I kept saying, ‘Wait a minute. Wait a minute.’ ”

She was assured that nothing untoward was going on.

Ms. Richardson did not have a fixed-rate mortgage. Her monthly payment rose, and rose again, eventually passing $800, which she could not pay. There was also a balloon payment provision hidden in the welter of documents, along with other obligations that would not emerge until Ms. Richardson was waist-high in economic quicksand.

Ms. McNulty, the lawyer, is trying to forestall the foreclosure, while at the same time trying to locate those who, in her view, defrauded her client. Her attempt to hold anyone accountable has been maddeningly difficult. As she explained, the original deal “was securitized into one of these now infamous trusts.”

The distress calls from despondent men and women who believed until very recently that they were living the American dream are coming from all over the country. Tova Navarra of Atlantic Highlands, N.J., was waylaid by illness. “I will end up bankrupt, disabled and bereft of a career,” she told me. “I’m wondering if this will become a bankrupt society.”

After a series of medical setbacks forced her to stop working, Ms. Navarra, 60, watched her standard of living deteriorate step by agonizing step to the point where she was forced to leave her condominium and move into a senior citizens’ residence that she currently cannot afford. The condo is in foreclosure, and she is staring at a future with no upside.

“The first time you realize that you can’t pay the mortgage — that’s the beginning of a very keen panic,” said Ms. Navarra. “The medical bills pile up and that’s when people start deliberately skipping doses to try to make the medicine stretch out a little more.

“You find yourself gradually climbing down the economic ladder, and you start thinking, ‘How am I going to survive, and where am I going to go?’ I said to myself, ‘Oh, my God. I’m going to end up sleeping in my car.’ ”

Real people. Real suffering. We may be fascinated by Wall Street, and bogus yarns like Joe the Plumber’s. But the real story in this country right now is the increasingly dire plight of those heading toward the bottom of that ladder that Ms. Navarra was talking about.


6) Last-Minute Mischief
October 18, 2008

All presidents indulge in end-of-the-term environmental rule-making, partly to tie up bureaucratic loose ends but mainly to lock in policies that their successor will be hard pressed to reverse.

President Bill Clinton’s midnight regulations were mostly good, including a rule protecting 60 million acres of national forests from road-building and most commercial development. Not surprisingly, most of President Bush’s proposals are not.

Exhibit A is a set of six resource management plans covering 11 million acres of federal land in Utah. They would open millions of acres to oil and gas drilling and off-road vehicles, risking priceless cultural artifacts and some of the most breathtaking open spaces in America. The plans, each more than 1,000 pages, were dumped on an unsuspecting public in the last few weeks by the Bureau of Land Management.

The bureau claims that it wasn’t trying to pull a fast one and that drafts were available months ago. But the final documents are what count. The public now has only a few short weeks to register objections before the secretary of the interior makes them final.

Why the rush? The agency says it had to wrap things up before it ran out of planning money. What we are really seeing, though, is the last gasp of the Cheney drill-now, drill-everywhere energy strategy; one last favor to the oil and gas drillers and the off-road vehicle enthusiasts before a more conservation-minded president (both Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have far better records than Mr. Bush) comes to town.

Environmentalists are also suspicious of the Interior Department’s recent proposal to revoke a longstanding if rarely used regulation that gives Congress and the interior secretary emergency powers to protect public lands when commercial development seems to pose immediate environmental dangers.

Dirk Kempthorne, the interior secretary, decided that the rule was unnecessary after Representative Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and about 20 other members of the House Natural Resources Committee ordered him to withdraw about 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining claims to give officials time to assess potential damage to the air and water.

Arguing that the committee did not have a quorum and that he had other means of guarding against damage, Mr. Kempthorne not only refused to obey the committee’s order but proposed to rescind the departmental rule requiring him to obey it. The public has been given 15 days to comment, after which Mr. Kempthorne will be free to jettison the rule.

Mr. Kempthorne is also pressing ahead with plans to scale back important protections required by the Endangered Species Act by eliminating some mandatory scientific reviews by the Fish and Wildlife Service of federal projects that could threaten imperiled animals and plants.

The new rule — which could be made final at any moment — would allow projects likes roads, bridges and dams to proceed without review if the agency in charge decides they would cause no environmental harm. The National Audubon Society and other groups have compiled an extensive list of cases in which the agencies misjudged the threat and Fish and Wildlife Service scientists had to intervene to protect the species.

Some of the administration’s recent regulations have been helpful — one tightening pollution controls on small engines like lawnmowers, another tightening lead emissions. But others could cause serious and lasting damage. And there are still three nerve-racking months to go before Mr. Bush leaves office.


7) From Door to Door, Foreclosure Knocks Here
October 19, 2008

At times, this stretch of 118th Avenue in South Jamaica, Queens, feels not so much like a neighborhood but a memory of one.

A red-brick house with overgrown weeds in the yard is boarded shut. A house with a dirty awning has a thick chain looping out from a hole in the door where a deadbolt once was. On the front window of a vacant property around the corner, someone has taped a sign warning that the water supply has been shut off and antifreeze added to the sinks and toilets.

Newton and Ronda Whyte have gotten used to living next door to no one. “Every two or three houses it’s empty,” said Ms. Whyte, 36, a nurse assistant. “It’s not a good feeling. You see the weeds growing tall and the junk mail piling up.”

This area at 118th Avenue and 153rd Street is at the center of New York’s foreclosure crisis. Roughly one in four homes in this working-class neighborhood just north of Kennedy Airport have been in some phase of foreclosure since 2004, and its census tract leads the city in foreclosure filings.

More than two years ago, most homes here were occupied and the neighborhood was making strides against the drugs, violence and abandonment that had plagued it in the past, residents and merchants said. But today they mostly talk about decreasing property values, increasing crime, struggling small businesses and fraying community bonds. They talk of leaving, and wonder whose house is next.

“It’s not even worth getting to know anybody because nobody is going to stay around anyway,” said Fernando Espinal, 23, who grew up on 118th Avenue.

The gates are down for good at the Mega Deli Grocery at one end of the avenue. Pansy Johnson, who owns Yaad Food, a nearby Caribbean restaurant, said she often has to ask for a rent extension because her sales have decreased by nearly a third. And there have been two burglaries of empty homes in foreclosure this year in the area of 118th Avenue and 153rd Street, the police said.

The telltale signs that a house is empty come not from a bank or real estate agent, but pizzerias and Chinese takeout restaurants: The length of time a house has been abandoned can be measured by the number of old menus, fliers and junk mail that collects on doors and stoops.

“It’s like a depression,” said Ms. Johnson, who is from Jamaica, and whose restaurant is near 118th Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard. “I’ve never seen so much houses boarded up in all my life in this country. It’s so desolated. It hurts the heart.”

This corner of South Jamaica is much like neighborhoods in other cities around the country where foreclosure has spread like an epidemic. In many of those places, a spate of subprime lending made it easy for people with modest incomes and poor credit histories to buy homes — even as they increased their risk of foreclosure with adjustable interest rates and other types of complicated and costly loans.

This census tract — No. 288 in southeast Queens — had 226 foreclosure filings on one- to four-family homes in the past five years, the highest in the city, according to an analysis of housing data prepared for The New York Times by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University. In 2005, 69 percent of the homes purchased in the tract were bought with subprime mortgages.

“What you see in that community is incredibly high rates of high-cost and subprime lending,” said Vicki Been, director of the Furman Center.

Within Tract 288, four blocks — encompassing 118th Avenue between 155th Street and Sutphin Boulevard, and 153rd Street between 118th and 119th Avenues — are some of the hardest hit by foreclosures.

Thirty-nine of the roughly 140 properties on those blocks have been in various stages of foreclosure since 2004, according to data on, a real estate site. Once a foreclosure petition is filed, the owner and lender can work out a settlement. But if they do not, the home can be repossessed and sold at auction.

The disposition of the foreclosure filings and scheduled foreclosure auctions of the 39 homes is unclear. About a dozen are vacant, blending in with other empty properties on those blocks. Two homes have eviction notices posted on them and others are undergoing renovations.

People here seem not to have moved out so much as vanished.

The unlocked screen doors of unoccupied homes sway in the breeze. At a red-brick home at 152-09 118th Avenue, the front door and the living room window are boarded up, but the DirecTV satellite dish remains, as does the message that a former occupant traced into the top step’s wet concrete long ago: three hearts and the words “Dez-n-Duke.” A foreclosure auction on the property is scheduled for Friday.

Despite the tightness that comes from living side by side in mostly narrow two-story homes, people largely keep to themselves. Few ever know for certain that neighbors are at risk of losing their homes. Departures happen quickly, mysteriously.

Newton and Ronda Whyte remember the man who lived next to them for years in the yellow house at 152-37 118th Avenue. Mr. Whyte called him Trini, because he was from Trinidad, but he never learned the man’s full name. The house the man left behind a few months ago, like the other foreclosed houses on these four blocks, quickly developed the feel of an abandoned property.

On the grass of their former neighbor’s small yard, next to the “For Sale” sign, someone stuck a placard advertising the “New York Foreclosure Showcase” at the Long Island Marriott Hotel in Uniondale. The sign is so big and so close to the Whytes’ house that some of Mr. Whyte’s visiting relatives thought that he was the one at risk of foreclosure.

“It’s a reminder of what’s staring us in the face,” said Ms. Whyte, who has lived on 118th Avenue with her husband and two children for 12 years.

Many of the homes on these four blocks are squeezed onto narrow lots no bigger than 1,350 square feet. At one end of 118th Avenue is Baisley Pond, a swath of lush greenery that gives the area a serene suburban feel. Joggers circle the pond, dodging squirrels.

In 2000, the median household income in Tract 288 was $44,348. Residents, many of them African-American, or of Guyanese or Jamaican descent, take pride in sweeping their stretch of sidewalk. Their ranks include custodians, nurses, civil servants and retirees.

Adeline Marshall, 66, broom in hand one recent afternoon, said the neighborhood had come far since 1991, when she bought a two-bedroom house on 153rd Street for $75,000.

Back then, there were no sidewalks, just dirt. One of the lots at the corner was trash-strewn and vacant. In July 1995, gunfire erupted during a basketball tournament at Baisley Pond Park, killing two spectators. Seven years earlier, also at the park, a high school basketball coach volunteering as a referee was beaten to death after drug gangs bet thousands of dollars on the game and the referee made a call someone did not like.

Ms. Marshall, a retired practical nurse, said things had started to turn around in more recent years. The city installed sidewalks and pavement. A new residence went up on the once-empty corner lot. The population in Tract 288 grew to 4,300 in 2000 from 3,400 in 1990.

But now, Ms. Marshall and other residents said, the foreclosures have stalled the neighborhood’s progress.

William Knight’s 15-year-old son found a drug user’s syringe in the yard of the empty house next door to them on 118th Avenue in June. “In the one year being here, I’ve watched it just kind of spiral down,” said Mr. Knight, a civil engineer. “There’s definitely less people, and due to less people it brings the negative element.”

On a recent Tuesday afternoon on 153rd Street, the smell of marijuana lingered in the air. A group of men sat at a table on the street near Ms. Marshall’s house playing a boisterous game of dominoes. They said they were “just visiting.”

A few months ago, Ms. Marshall’s glass storm door was shattered by a gunshot. “Look at the sign,” Ms. Marshall said, pointing to the Foreclosure Showcase notice in the yard of the empty yellow house. “What am I going to do? You think I want to stay here? I want to sell, too.”


8) Iraqis March in Baghdad to Protest Security Pact
October 19, 2008

BAGHDAD — Followers of the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr took to the streets on Saturday in a demonstration against the proposed security agreement between the American and Iraqi government, now being reviewed by Iraqi political leaders.

In a message to the assembled marchers, one of Mr. Sadr’s senior clerics read a statement from him warning that “whoever tells you that this pact gives us sovereignty is lying.”

A leading Sadrist cleric at the rally, Hazim al-Arraji, said: “This is the voice of the Iraqi people from all over Iraq: we need the invaders to leave our country, no one wants them to stay. ‘No invasion! Get out invaders!’ That will be our slogan.”

Mr. Sadr, a Shiite cleric whose Mahdi Army militia conducted two major uprisings against the American occupation, has consistently called for an immediate American withdrawal and has opposed negotiations that cede any authority at all to the Americans.

But there were signs on Saturday that the Iraqi unease with the security negotiations still stretch beyond Mr. Sadr’s faction. Quietly, some parliamentary leaders suggested that they, too, were not comfortable with the measure even though some of them were involved in negotiating it.

At a Friday night meeting with the leaders of the political blocs in Parliament, there were no clear statements of support except from the Kurds, who strongly backed the pact.

“Most of the political leaders asked for time to review the draft and then present their suggestions,” said Haider al-Abbadi, a senior member of Dawa, the party of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

He said that Mr. Maliki had reviewed the positive and negative aspects of the draft with the group, and several other people who were there said they thought it would take several more days before there was a clear sense of whether the pact could win approval.

Even leaders from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, one of the country’s main Shiite parties and a major player in negotiating the security agreement, appeared to be having second thoughts on Saturday. Historically, the Council has had close ties to Iran, and the Iranians are wary of the agreement because it would maintain a large American military presence near Iran’s borders.

“We warn the Iraqi Government not to submit to pressure to accept this agreement,” said Latif al-Amidi, spokesman for the Council in Najaf, where the party dominates local politics.

The agreement sets the end of 2011 as a concrete date for American withdrawal from Iraq, based on the performance and increasing capacity of the Iraqi security forces, and sets several specific dates for troop withdrawals from specific cities. But the draft also states that those “date goals” for city withdrawals could be changed by mutual agreement.

The agreement would also make private American security companies and other contractors subject to Iraqi justice in criminal cases, which was a major demand from Iraqi officials. But another central Iraqi point, to make American military personnel subject to Iraqi law, did not go through — American military personnel would still be guaranteed immunity except in cases of serious or premeditated felonies committed outside their official duties.

Iraqis frequently express mixed feelings, torn between a genuine loathing of being occupied by American troops who have often seemed oblivious to Iraqis’ feelings and a recognition of the country’s vulnerabilities.

That difficulty was summed up by an Iraqi soldier on patrol at the Sadr demonstration Saturday. The soldier, Sgt. Ali Bandar Gomer al-Qaisi, 23, said with a shy smile, “If only they would leave before tomorrow.”

But then he added softly, as he adjusted the Iraqi flag that he had thrown around his shoulders to show his sympathy with the marchers, many of whom wore similarly tied flags: “They have to stay until 2012 according to the capability of the Iraqi army.”

South of Baghdad an Awakening leader was killed on Saturday when gunmen attacked his car as he drove home from the Karbala area. His death was one in a string of recent killings of Sunni leaders who have worked with the Americans to fight Islamic extremists.

Suadad al-Salhy, Tareq Maher and Riyadh Mohammed contributed reporting.


9) U.S. Strike Is Said to Kill Qaeda Figure in Pakistan
October 18, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A missile attack from a remotely piloted American aircraft is believed to have killed a senior member of Al Qaeda in South Waziristan on Thursday, a former member of a militant group in the region said in an interview.

The operative, Khalid Habib, an Egyptian who was chief of operations in Pakistan’s tribal region, is described by the Central Intelligence Agency as the fourth-ranking person in the Qaeda hierarchy.

The attack, on the village of Taparghai, killed four people, some of them Arabs, according to initial reports on Thursday.

A Pakistani intelligence official declined Friday to confirm the death of Mr. Habib. An American official involved in the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas said he could not confirm the report that Mr. Habib had died. It often takes American officials some time to determine the success or failure of attacks by remotely piloted aircraft in the rugged and remote terrain of the tribal areas.

Mr. Habib recently moved to Taparghai from Wana, the capital of South Waziristan, which is in an area that the Americans have been attacking with increasing frequency. Their primary goal is to break the militant network there related to Sirajuddin Haqqani, a Taliban leader closely allied to Al Qaeda, the former member of the militant group said.

Mr. Habib had relocated to Taparghai expressly to avoid missile strikes, the former militant said. The area around Taparghai is near Makin, a base of Baitullah Mehsud, the chief of the Pakistani Taliban.

Mr. Habib was in a parked Toyota station wagon, a favored vehicle of the militants in the tribal area, when he was hit by the missile, the former member of the militant group said.

A resident of the village said in a telephone interview that the man killed in the attack seemed to be “important.” He was known in the village as Zalfay, the resident said. The name means “long hair” in Pashto, the language spoken in the area.

The number of American missile strikes aimed at Qaeda operatives in North Waziristan and South Waziristan has risen sharply in the last six weeks — there have been 11 since early September, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Bush administration is trying to stop the militants from crossing the border and carrying out raids against American soldiers in southern Afghanistan. Officials in Washington have also said they are concerned that Taliban and Qaeda operatives are plotting new attacks against the United States and Europe from their sanctuaries in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The missile strikes are conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency but are for the most part coordinated with Pakistan’s government, according to American officials. But that cooperation does not extend to ground operations.

In September, a raid by American Special Forces in South Waziristan against what the Americans said were Qaeda forces set off a storm of protest. After that raid, Pakistan’s military threatened to resist any such incursions by force.

There have been few protests by people in the tribal region against the airstrikes, apparently because those killed have mostly been Arab and Uzbek members of Al Qaeda, not Pakistanis.

It had been nearly two years since the last missile attack in the area where Mr. Habib was killed. That attack, on Jan. 16, 2007, killed about 10 militants, most of them Arabs, in a Qaeda training camp in Zamazola. Mr. Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban chief, vowed to avenge the death by directing a number of suicide bomb attacks against Pakistani military installations.

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.


10) Easing of Mine Dumping Rules Proposed
October 19, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department has advanced a proposal that would ease restrictions on dumping mountaintop mining waste near rivers and streams, modifying protections that have been in place — though often circumvented by mining companies — for a quarter-century.

The department’s Office of Surface Mining issued a final environmental impact analysis Friday on the proposed rule change, which has been under consideration for four years. It has been a top priority of the surface mining industry.

It sets the stage for a final regulation, one of the last major environmental initiatives of the Bush administration, after 30 days of additional public comment and interagency review.

The proposed rule would rewrite a regulation enacted in 1983 by the Reagan administration that bars mining companies from dumping huge waste piles — known as “valley fills” — from surface mining within 100 feet of any intermittent or perennial stream if the disposal adversely affects water quality or quantity.

The revisions would require mining companies to minimize the debris they dump as much as possible, but would also let them skirt the 100-foot protective buffer requirement if compliance is determined to be impossible.

“The new rule will allow coal companies to dump massive waste piles directly into streams, permanently burying them,” warned Joan Mulhern of Earthjustice, one of the environmental groups that have fought the practice known as mountaintop removal mining widely used in Appalachia, especially in West Virginia, Kentucky and parts of Virginia and Tennessee.

Mining companies remove vast mountaintop areas to expose the coal. While they are required to restore much of the land, the removal includes many tons of rocks, debris and other waste that are trucked away and then dumped into valley areas, including stream beds.

Despite the 100-foot buffer requirement, environmentalists estimate hundreds of miles of streams have been affected, some of them obliterated, because of lax enforcement of the 1983 restrictions or different interpretations of the federal rule.

This proposed rule “legitimizes mountaintop removal and its most damaging effect, which is putting valley fill and sludge into streams,” Ms. Mulhern said.

Jason Bostic, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said the group was disappointed about the proposal to require companies to minimize waste. But he said of the 100-foot stream buffer revision, “We’re relieved that the rule clearly enunciates Congressional intent that valley fill construction and coal refuse construction can take place in intermittent and perennial streams.”

The Office of Surface Mining maintains that the 1983 rule “has never been applied as an absolute prohibition of mining activities near a stream,” according to a fact sheet included in the rulemaking. The mining agency, in a statement issued Friday, said the proposed changes reflected a “slightly positive” improvement in environmental protection because they would require coal companies to minimize the impact of the dumping by reducing the amount of wastes and the disposal areas.

Ms. Mulhern called that “a sham” and said the agency “did not even study, among available alternatives,” the option of strictly enforcing the stream buffer rule that has been on the books since 1983.

“Instead they pretended that the existing stream buffer law does not apply,” she said, adding, “They claim their rule is better for the environment when the exact opposite is true.”


11) Off the Charts
How Voters See the Bailout
"One question in the poll asked if the beneficiaries would be 'mostly just a few big investors and people who work on Wall Street' or whether it would help 'homeowners and people throughout the country as well.' A large majority of those polled--63 percent--thought the bailout would benefit only Wall Street..."
October 18, 2008

THE most important legislation passed by the current Congress almost certainly was the bank bailout bill. Whether it will do much good is still unclear, but there is little doubt that most Americans were not impressed, even though the bill was backed by Congressional leaders, the president and both major presidential candidates.

Passage of the bill appears to have pushed the approval rating for Congress to a record low, leaving Congress far less popular than President Bush, whose standing with voters is close to historic lows. It may affect several legislative races next month, in which senators and members of Congress who backed the legislation have slipped in polls.

But the bailout seems to be having no impact at all on the presidential race. Both Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama voted for it, and neither man chose to mention it in this week’s final presidential debate.

There is virtually no difference between Obama backers and McCain supporters in terms of supporting the bailout, as is shown in the accompanying chart based on the New York Times/CBS poll taken from Oct. 10 to 13.

Among those who thought the bailout was a good idea, the split in favor of Senator Obama was 55 percent to 37 percent. Among those who opposed the bailout, the split was 53 percent to 37 percent.

That raises the question of what might have happened if one major candidate had risked going against the unified political establishment in Washington and had voted against the bill. Would that move have appealed to the majority of Americans who say they dislike the bailout, or would it have backfired by making that candidate seem irresponsible?

The debate on Wednesday might have been more entertaining — and perhaps more illuminating — if the two most prominent third-party candidates, the independent, Ralph Nader, and Bob Barr, a Libertarian, had been included. They represent the two major strains of opposition: Mr. Nader thinks it is homeowners, not banks, who deserve help, while Mr. Barr sees the bailout as a violation of free enterprise principles.

If the split between the Republicans and Democrats cannot be seen in the overall support for the bailout, it can be seen in expectations of what will happen now.

One question in the poll asked if the beneficiaries would be “mostly just a few big investors and people who work on Wall Street” or whether it would help “homeowners and people throughout the country as well.”

A large majority of those polled — 63 percent — thought the bailout would benefit only Wall Street, and those voters were overwhelmingly for Senator Obama, by a 59 percent to 31 percent margin.

If there were more people who thought the bailout would help everyone, perhaps Mr. McCain would be doing better in the polls. Among the 28 percent of Americans who thought everyone would benefit, the Obama lead is a statistically insignificant one point, 44 to 43.

Among the Senate races that could be affected are two seats held by Republicans, in Minnesota and Georgia. The incumbents, Norm Coleman and Saxby Chambliss, were ahead in the polls before their vote for the bailout, but the latest polls give Mr. Coleman’s opponent, the former comedian Al Franken, a narrow lead. In Georgia, Mr. Chambliss has seen his substantial lead narrow, although he is still ahead of Jim Martin, a former state legislator. Both Democrats have made the votes a central issue in their campaigns.

In the House, Jim Marshall, Democrat of Georgia, and Paul Kanjorski, Democrat of Pennsylvania, are fighting tough races in which their Republican opponents are criticizing them for backing the bailout.

Floyd Norris comments on finance and economics in his blog at


12) Arizona Sheriff Conducts Immigration Raid at City Hall, Angering Officials
October 18, 2008

MESA, Ariz. — A late-night raid of City Hall and the Main Library here by 60 heavily armed sheriff’s deputies and posse members searching for illegal immigrants has escalated tensions between city officials and the county sheriff, who ordered the raid.

The operation took place at 2 a.m. on Thursday, timed to catch suspected illegal immigrants working as janitors on the overnight shift. Deputies did not find any suspects at City Hall, but arrested three people at the library whom they suspected of using forged identification to gain employment at a cleaning company.

The raid angered city officials who have been at odds with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County over his efforts to fight illegal immigration.

Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa criticized Sheriff Arpaio for sending the SWAT team into his city without properly advising the Mesa police, who learned about raid when an officer discovered sheriff’s deputies assembling in a residential park about 12:30 a.m.

“Law enforcement should never put the public at risk,” Mr. Smith said.

The sheriff’s office has jurisdiction across the county, but the Mesa police chief, George Gascón, had requested 48 hours’ notice before immigration enforcement operations in his city.

Sheriff Arpaio questioned the value of giving city officials prior notices, when in the past, he said, the Mesa police have interfered with immigration sweeps.

“There is a little lack of trust between our office and Mesa police,” Sheriff Arpaio said. “They want to use the safety issue to put the blame on us on safety, when we are out there doing things that they won’t do.”

Deputies arrested 13 other people suspected of being illegal immigrants at their homes and are seeking nine others in connection to the case, Sheriff Arpaio said.

The raid followed an investigation lasting many months that began with a tip from a former Mesa city employee, Sheriff Arpaio said. The tipster had approached the Mesa police with his information but was turned away, the sheriff said.

Sheriff Arpaio, a Republican, is facing re-election in November. Protesters have criticized his agency on issues that include slow response times to emergency calls, and major crimes going uninvestigated.


13) Judge Says No to Teachers’ Campaign Buttons, but Yes to Certain Politicking
October 18, 2008

A federal judge on Friday upheld New York City’s policy prohibiting public school teachers from wearing political buttons in the classroom, but said the teachers could place campaign material into colleagues’ mailboxes and hang posters on bulletin boards maintained by their union, as long as they were in areas off-limits to students.

The split decision came after the union, the United Federation of Teachers, sued over a city rule that requires teachers to remain neutral about politics while on duty to avoid any sense of pressure among students to echo their views. The union, which has endorsed Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for president, argued that the longstanding regulation had never been enforced and that it curtailed teachers’ right of free speech.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan said that it should be up to individual school districts to determine whether buttons in the classroom interfered with learning. He cautioned, however, that “school officials may not take a sledgehammer to freedom of expression and then avoid all scrutiny by invoking alleged professional judgment.”

The judge said that while a majority of students would probably understand that a button represented a teacher’s personal view, there would be “inevitable misperceptions on the part of a minority.”

Ann Forte, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said, “We won on the issue that was most paramount to us,” and she called the mailbox and bulletin board rulings “secondary issues.”

Norman Siegel, the civil liberties lawyer representing the teachers’ union, said that the union was pleased about Judge Kaplan’s recognition of some First Amendment rights for teachers and that it would continue to push for the right to wear buttons.

There have been conflicting court rulings over how far the government can go in regulating what teachers say in the classroom ever since the Supreme Court’s Tinker case, four decades ago, which proclaimed that neither teachers nor students “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

A New York court in 1972 sided with a teacher who was suspended for wearing an armband in protest against the Vietnam war, saying that the band did not interfere with educational interests. In California, a court upheld a ban on buttons in San Diego schools in 1996.

Schoolchildren have historically been recognized as a distinctly vulnerable group, and schools have enjoyed such paternalistic powers as requiring school uniforms. Courts generally see teachers as role models given extraordinary trust and holding a special influence over their students.

The government, like any business, has the authority to tell its employees what to do so that it can continue to operate effectively. A teacher cannot spend each English period talking about baseball, or each physics class teaching false scientific theories.

The city argued that when a teacher wears a political button in the classroom, it creates an environment of intimidation and hostility toward students who do not share that view. The union, by contrast, argued that students would be able to distinguish between personal and institutional views.

Samuel Issacharoff, a professor of law at New York University, said: “The line we seek to draw is that individuals who are public employees retain the rights of full citizenship in society and do not lose them as a result of being state employees. On the other hand, they can’t use their state employment to accentuate the power of their political views. That’s the tension.”

That tension has been the subject of court cases in several states. The University of Illinois recently came under fire for urging its employees to refrain from attending political rallies and from displaying campaign bumper stickers on campus. It has since reversed course.

Part of the trouble in arriving at clear legal conclusions is the inevitable gray area that emerges when considering teachers’ roles as instructor and individual. Should teachers be allowed to write letters to the editor and publicly back a candidate? Should they be able to wear buttons while walking from their classroom to the car?

Last week, the unresolved nuances were on display at Middle School 61 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where an oversize portrait of Mr. Obama that had been hanging near the entrance of the school was taken down under pressure from the Department of Education. The banner showed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other black luminaries looking down on the man who could become the nation’s first black president.

“It only gave images of hope,” said Asher Rison, a teacher at the school. “It wasn’t about politics.”

The Department of Education disagreed, saying that whatever the intent, the banner amounted to political favoritism prohibited under the department’s rules.

At schools across the city this week, the fuzzy free-speech questions were reflected in conversations with students, parents and teachers.

At Community School 134 in the Bronx, Ken Chanko, a teacher of writing who wore a small Obama button on his jacket as he left school on Thursday, said that such miniature adornments seemed acceptable, but that large posters should not be permitted. “I think there is a fine line,” he said. “I think you can overreact from either perspective.”

Keyshawn Baker, 11, who graduated from the school in June and now attends Bronx Latin School, said that a teacher’s views displayed on clothing would not affect him. “I have my personal opinion about who I should support,” he said.

At Middle School 61, where the Obama banner was hung, David Rampersad, a Verizon field technician whose 11-year-old daughter attends the school, said that students “should be exposed to politics” but that “they might feel pressure to swing a certain way.”

“They’re too young for this pressure,” he added. “They need to be focused on whatever they are learning in school.”

Ann Farmer and Jason Grant contributed reporting.




Wider Disparity in Life Expectancy Is Found Between Rich and Poor
World Briefing
The gap in life expectancy between rich and poor has increased to as much as 40 years within some countries, according to a new report by the World Health Organization. The disparity can be found not just within and between nations, but even within cities. In measurements of infant mortality, for example, the number of children who died in the wealthiest area of Nairobi, Kenya, was less than 15 per 1,000. On the other hand, in a poor neighborhood the death rate was 254 per 1,000, according to the report, which was released on Tuesday. Worldwide, average life expectancy was 81 years for people in the richest 10 percent of the population, while it was 46 years for people in the poorest 10 percent.
October 17, 2008

Zimbabwe: Inflation Rate Spirals Higher Still
World Briefing | Africa
Zimbabwe’s inflation rate, already one of the highest in world history, rose from an annual rate of 11 million percent in June to 231 million percent in July, according to official statistics reported by the state media. Rising prices for staple foods are driving the price increases, making it increasingly difficult for people to afford food. Talks on details of a power-sharing deal involving the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai that might halt the economic decline are deadlocked, Mr. Tsvangirai said.
October 10, 2008

Germany Seeks Wider Role for Army
BERLIN - The German government said Monday that it would seek to change the Constitution to give a larger domestic role to the army in the fight against terrorism, including powers to shoot down hijacked passenger planes as a last resort.
Two years ago, the nation’s top court threw out a law that permitted the shooting down of hijacked planes, and the issue has set off a heated debate within the governing coalition over the role of the military in defending Germany against terrorism.
The government is proposing a constitutional change that would allow the German Army to be deployed at home “if police measures do not suffice for protection against very serious disasters,” a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry said.
Asked whether such circumstances could also imply that the army would have to fend off an attack from the air, the spokeswoman said, “That’s what this is about.”
October 7, 2008

Louisiana: FEMA Not Immune From Trailer Suits
National Briefing | South
A federal judge in New Orleans says the government is not immune from lawsuits claiming that many Gulf Coast hurricane victims were exposed to potentially dangerous fumes while living in trailers it had provided. The ruling says there is evidence that the Federal Emergency Management Agency delayed its response to concerns about formaldehyde levels in its trailers because of liability concerns.
October 4, 2008

Army Unit to Deploy in October for Domestic Operations
Beginning in October, the Army plans to station an active unit inside the United States for the first time to serve as an on-call federal response in times of emergency. The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent thirty-five of the last sixty months in Iraq, but now the unit is training for domestic operations. The unit will soon be under the day-to-day control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The Army Times reports this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command. The paper says the Army unit may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control. The soldiers are learning to use so-called nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds.

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




"These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel."

– Abraham Lincoln, speech to Illinois legislature, January 1837


Subprime crisis explanation by The Long Johns

Wanda Sykes on Jay Leno: Bailout and Palin


Stop the Carnage, Ban the Cluster Bomb!

Only 20 percent of the hundreds of thousands of unexploded cluster munitions that Israel launched into Lebanon in the summer of 2006 have been cleared. You can help!

1. See the list of more than thirty organizations that have signed a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling for Israel to release the list of cluster bomb target sites to the UN team in charge of clearing the sites in Lebanon:

2. You can Learn more about the American Task Force for Lebanon at their website:

3. Send a message to President Bush, the Secretary of State, and your Members of Congress to stop the carnage and ban the cluster bomb by clicking on the link below:

Take action now at:



U.S. Supreme Court stays Georgia execution
"The U.S. Supreme Court granted a last-minute reprieve to a Georgia man fewer than two hours before he was to be executed for the 1989 slaying of an off-duty police officer.
"Troy Anthony Davis learned that his execution had been stayed when he saw it on television, he told CNN via telephone in his first interview after the stay was announced."
September 23, 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 continue keep you posted.

The Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
Amnesty International, USA

Read NYT Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert's plea on behalf of Troy Davis:

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


New on the Taking Aim Program Archive:

"9/11: Blueprint for Truth: The Architecture of Destruction" part 2 is
available on the Taking Aim Program Archive at


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