Saturday, November 15, 2008



San Francisco Chapter of
Death Penalty Focus!
Monday, November 17, 2008
6:00pm - 7:30pm
Flood Building
870 Market St.
Conference Room 838 (8th Floor)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Enjoy wine and delicious food!
Learn about the great work of the chapter!
Find out how to get involved!
Please RSVP to
The closest BART station is Powell.
Parking information is available at:



Six days left to stop new SF ordinance restricting picketing, protests
Importance: High

The city of San Francisco is planning to amend their Noise Ordinance in such a way as to severely restrict protests and picketing by unions and protest groups using bullhorns. The SF Board of Supervisors approved this ordinance on first reading on Tues. Nov. 4. The vote was 9-2. Final approval of the ordinance is scheduled for Tues. Nov. 18. My understanding is that no public comment will be allowed, because it was first taken up by the Rules Committee.

This is our last chance to stop this dangerous ordinance from becoming law.

Please contact the Board of Supervisors to let them know about your opposition to Section 2909 (c) of this ordinance, and your concern that it could be used by the police to stop labor and political protests.

Here is the link to the proposed ordinance:

San Francisco law allows use of a 10-watt bullhorn without a loudspeaker permit before 10 PM. Many labor unions and protest groups use these bullhorns at their rallies.

Section 2909 (c) of the proposed ordinance will outlaw use of a bullhorn at a union picketing site or protest rally that exceeds 10 db over the ambient level 25 feet from the bullhorn. (This limit does not apply to events for which a loudspeaker permit has been issued by the Entertainment Commission.)

From my experience, almost all bullhorn use at rallies exceeds that decibel level. No warning needs to be given before a citation is written. The sound level need only exceed that decibel level for a few seconds.

Please contact the Board of Supervisors to let them know about your opposition to Section 2909 (c) of this ordinance, and your concern that it could be used by the police to stop labor and political protests.

This is our last chance to stop this dangerous bill from becoming law.
Here are the email addresses of the Board members: [(415) 554-7450], [(415) 554-7410], [(415) 554-7752], [(415) 554-5144], [(415) 554-7460], [(415) 554-7970], [(415) 554-6968], [(415) 554-6516], [(415) 554-7670], [(415) 554-7630], [(415) 554-6975]

Here is a sample letter that has been sent to the supervisors:

Dear Supervisor -----

I am 3rd generation San Franciscan and 5th generation Bay Area resident who comes into the city to protest our issues of the day and cherish the openness and liberty given to Constitutional Rights within the city. SF is among the top 10 cities in the US and as such is a vehicle for citizen concerns to be heard and to create visibility for important issues nationally.

Any curtailing of First Amendment Rights locally is troubling, and is quite frankly illegal. The anti-bullhorn ordinance before you now is another troubling manifestation of business interests attempting to circumvent citizen protest, and shut out visible disagreement with their ruthless profit objectives that enslave the working class in poverty or drive young people to die in their empirical wars.

In these modern technological times ACCESS to free speech is as important as free speech and must be considered a component of fulfilling First Amendment rights. If protest cannot be heard you are shutting it down and eliminating effective communications solely to those with deep pockets that can advertise or own media outlets editing what is seen and heard.

Please shut this initiative down. Current laws are sufficient to keep sleeping citizens protected while allowing protest to be heard during daylight hours.


Hard Times in Philadelphia
The hardships of the current financial meltdown are expected to hurt the working poor more than any other group. Here are the voices of five young job seekers who are struggling in Philadelphia.
November 9, 2008


"Justice is a word that resides in the dictionary. It occasionally makes its escape, but is promptly caught and put back where it belongs." --Jack Black


October 23, 2008
For more information please contact: or call 216-736-4704

The National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations welcomes the ANSWER Coalition's call for UNITED mass mobilizations in Washington , D.C. and other cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami, on March 21, 2009 to mark six years of war and occupation and to Bring the Troops Home Now! We also welcome UFPJ's call for a week of Washington, D.C. mobilizations during the same period to demand an end to the war in Iraq now.

These actions are necessary and need not be contradictory as long as there is unity in supporting them. However, a divided movement is a weakened movement. At this time, more than ever, the movements for peace and social justice must work in concert to bring the full force of opposition to the government's criminal and destructive policies into the streets. It would be a tragic setback if all organizations and constituencies do not come together to act in a unified show of strength and determination in March.

The National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations was formed to promote a united, democratic, independent and mass action antiwar movement to bring the troops home now. Our objective was to do all in our power to achieve this by the Spring of 2009. It now appears that this critical objective is within reach.

We strongly urge and will participate in the formation of an ad hoc national coalition to make the March 21 actions a true expression of the opposition of this country's majority to U.S. wars and occupations. The National Assembly will make every effort to bring such a coalition into fruition and to urge all Assembly supporters to actively participate in the process.


Mass Actions on the 6th Anniversary of the Iraq War -- March 21, 2009
Bring All the Troops Home Now -- End All Colonial Occupations!
Fund People's Needs, Not Militarism & Bank Bailouts!

Marking the sixth anniversary of the criminal invasion of Iraq, thousands will take to the streets of Washington D.C. and other cities across the U.S. and around the world in March 2009 to say, "Bring the Troops Home NOW!" We will also demand "End Colonial Occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Everywhere," and "Fund Peoples' Needs Not Militarism and Bank Bailouts." We also insist on an end to the war threats and economic sanctions against Iran.

The ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) is organizing for unified mass marches and rallies in Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and other cities on Saturday, March 21, 2009. Months ago we obtained permits for sixth anniversary demonstrations. ANSWER has been actively involved with other coalitions, organizations, and networks to organize unified anti-war demonstrations in the spring of 2009. ANSWER participated in the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations that was held in Cleveland, Ohio on June 28th-29th and attended by 450 people, including many national and local anti-war coalitions. The National Assembly gathering agreed to promote national, unified anti-war demonstrations in the Spring of 2009.

The war in Iraq has killed, wounded or displaced nearly a third of Iraq's 26 million people. Thousands of U.S. soldiers have been killed and hundreds of thousands more have suffered severe physical and psychological wounds. The cost of the war is now running at $700 million dollars per day, over $7,000 per second. The U.S. leaders who have initiated and conducted this criminal war should be tried and jailed for war crimes.

The war in Afghanistan is expanding, and both the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates and Congressional leaders have promised to send in more troops. Both have promised to increase the size of the U. S. military. Both have promised to increase military aid to Israel to continue its oppression of the Palestinian people, including the denial of the right of return.

While millions of families are losing their homes, jobs and healthcare, the real military budget next year will top one trillion dollars, $1,000,000,000,000. If used to meet people's needs, that amount could create 10 million new jobs at $60,000 per year, provide healthcare for everyone who does not have it now, rebuild New Orleans and repair much of the damage done in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Federal bailouts of the biggest banks and investors many of whom have also made billions in profits from militarism, are already up to an astounding $2.5 trillion this year. None of that money is earmarked for keeping millions of foreclosed and evicted families in their homes.

Coming just two months after the inauguration of the next president, March 21, 2009 will be a critical opportunity to let the new administration in Washington hear the voice of the people demanding justice.

Click this link to endorse the March 21 Actions

If you're planning a local March 21 anti-war action, let us know 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



March 19, 2009 will mark the 6th anniversary of the "Shock and Awe" campaign that launched the US war and occupation in Iraq . Six long years of a war based on lies, a war that never should have happened. Six long years of death and destruction, of human suffering and economic waste.

United For Peace and Justice calls on people throughout this nation to join us in a national mobilization against this war. On the occasion of this horrendous anniversary next March, we will gather in massive numbers in Washington , DC to say enough is enough, this war must end, it must end now and completely!

We issue this call now, before the critically important election in just a few weeks, because it is vital that the antiwar movement make it clear that our work is far from over and we are not going away. We issue this call now as a way to send a strong message to all those who seek to represent us in Washington : the people of this nation want our troops to come home now -- not in 16 months and not in 100 years!

The war in Iraq has taken too many lives - Iraqi and US - and has taken a tremendous toll on our economy. While we are glad to see some candidates saying they want the war to end, we know this will only happen because the people of this country keep raising their voices, keep taking action, keep pressuring their government to end this nightmare.

Between now and next March much will happen here at home and around the world. We will have elected a new President and a new Congress and the political landscape the antiwar movement works in will have been altered. No one knows where our economic crisis is headed or how exactly it will affect the lives of millions of people in our communities. At the same time, there is danger of escalation of military action in Afghanistan , Pakistan , Iran and other places - and the possibility of a dangerous new arms race with Russia .

As we plan for the March mobilization we will take these critically important issues into account. We know that all of the issues our nation needs to address are impacted by the continued war and occupation in Iraq , and that no real progress will be made on anything else until we end this war.

In the coming weeks and months, United For Peace and Justice will be discussing the plans for the 6th anniversary national mobilization with our partners and allies in the peace and justice movements around the country. As the details of our activities in Washington , DC come together we will get word out far and wide. Now, we ask you to take note of this call, mark your calendars for the whole week, and start making plans for your community's participation in what will surely be a timely and necessary mobilization.

From the UFPJ National Steering Committee
Issued on October 18, 2008


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




1) Report Sees New Pollution Threat
November 14, 2008

2) Former Guantánamo Captives Continue to Struggle, Report Says
November 13, 2008

3) A School Chief Takes On Tenure, Stirring a Fight
November 13, 2008

4) Depression Economics Returns
Op-Ed Columnist
November 14, 2008

5) Democratic Pressure on Obama to Restore the Rule of Law
Editorial Observer
November 14, 2008

6) When Wall Street Runs Dry
November 15, 2008

7) Saving Detroit From Itself
November 15, 2008

8) ‘Drop Dead’ Is Not an Option
Op-Ed Columnist
November 15, 2008

9) Cleric Calls for Resistance to U.S. Presence in Iraq
November 15, 2008

10) Parents’ Night With the President
November 16, 2008


1) Report Sees New Pollution Threat
November 14, 2008

BEIJING — A noxious cocktail of soot, smog and toxic chemicals is blotting out the sun, fouling the lungs of millions of people and altering weather patterns in large parts of Asia, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations.

The byproduct of automobiles, slash-and-burn agriculture, wood-burning stoves and coal-fired power plants, these plumes of carbon dust rise over southern Africa, the Amazon basin and North America. But they are most pronounced in Asia, where so-called atmospheric brown clouds are dramatically reducing sunlight in many Chinese cities and leading to decreased crop yields in swaths of rural India, say a team of more than a dozen scientists who have been studying the problem since 2002.

But the scientists who worked on the report said the blanket of haze might be mitigating the worst effects of greenhouse gases, by absorbing solar heat or reflecting it away from the earth. Greenhouse gases, by contrast, tend to trap the warmth of the sun and lead to a rise in ocean temperatures.

“All of this points to an even greater and urgent need to take on emissions across the planet,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, in Beijing, which the report identified as one of the world’s most polluted cities, and where the report was released. “The imperative to act has never been clearer.”

The brownish haze, sometimes more than a mile thick and clearly visible from airplanes, stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to the Yellow Sea. During the spring, it sweeps past North and South Korea and Japan. Sometimes the cloud drifts as far east as California.

The report identified 13 cities as brown-cloud hotspots, among them Bangkok, Cairo, New Delhi, Seoul and Tehran.

The report was issued on a day when Beijing’s own famously polluted skies were unusually clear. On Wednesday, by contrast, the capital was shrouded in a thick, throat-stinging haze that is the byproduct of heavy industry, coal-burning home heaters and the 3.5 million cars that clog the city’s roadways.

Last month, the government reintroduced some of the traffic restrictions that were imposed on Beijing during the Olympics; the rules forced private cars to stay off the road one day a week and sidelined 30 percent of government vehicles on any given day. Overall, officials say the new measures have remove 800,000 cars from the roadways.

According to the United Nations report, smog blocks from 10 percent to 25 percent of the sunlight that should be reaching the city’s streets. The report also singled out the southern city of Guangzhou, where soot and dust have dimmed natural light by 20 percent since the 1970s.

Rain can cleanse the skies, but some of the black grime that falls to earth ends up on the surface of the Himalayan glaciers that are the source of water for billions of people in China, India and Pakistan. As a result, the glaciers that feed into the Yangtze, Ganges, Indus and Yellow rivers are absorbing more sunlight and melting more rapidly, researchers say.

According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, these glaciers have shrunk by 5 percent since the 1950s and, at the current rate of retreat, could shrink by another 75 percent by 2050.

“We used to think of this brown cloud as a regional problem, but now we realize its impact is much greater,” said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, who led the United Nations scientific panel. “When we see the smog one day and not the next, it just means it’s blown somewhere else.”

Although the clouds’ overall impact is not entirely understood, Mr. Ramanathan, a professor of climate and ocean sciences at the University of California, San Diego, said they might be affecting precipitation in parts of India and Southeast Asia, where monsoon rainfall has been decreasing in recent decades, and central China, where devastating floods have become more frequent.

He said that some studies suggest that the plumes of soot that blot out the sun have led to a 5 percent decline in the growth rate of rice harvests across Asia since the 1960s.

For those who breathe the toxic mix, the impact can be deadly. Henning Rodhe, a professor of chemical meteorology at Stockholm University, estimates that 340,000 people in China and India die each year from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that can be traced to the emissions from coal-burning factories, diesel trucks and kitchen stoves fueled by firewood.

“The impacts on health alone is a reason to reduce these brown clouds,” he said, adding that in China, about 3.6 percent of the nation’s annual gross domestic product, or $82 billion, is lost to the health effects of pollution.


2) Former Guantánamo Captives Continue to Struggle, Report Says
November 13, 2008

MIAMI (Reuters) — Former Guantánamo prisoners released after years of detention without charge went home to find themselves stigmatized and shunned, viewed either as terrorists or as United States spies, according to a report released Wednesday by a human rights group and a legal organization representing detainees.

The report urged President-elect Barack Obama to form an independent, nonpartisan commission with subpoena powers to investigate the treatment of detainees held by the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and at the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

“We cannot sweep this dark chapter in our nation’s history under the rug by simply closing the Guantánamo prison camp,” said one of the study’s authors, Eric Stover, director of the Human Rights Center at the University of California at Berkeley.

The authors at the Human Rights Center and at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has coordinated detainees’ legal cases, interviewed 50 United States government officials, military experts and former guards and interrogators, as well as 62 former Guantánamo prisoners in nine nations.

Two-thirds of the former captives said they had psychological and emotional problems, which the authors called consistent with being held in extreme isolation for extended periods.

Only six had regular jobs, with many saying that employers would not hire anyone who had been held at Guantánamo.

“It doesn’t matter that they cleared my name by releasing me. We still have this big hat on our heads that we were terrorists,” a former detainee, one of eight Chinese Muslims who was settled in Albania in 2006, said in the report.

That group was still struggling to learn Albanian and had abandoned the hope of ever being reunited with family, according to the report.

The United States has released 520 men from Guantánamo since it opened the detention camp for those suspected of being part of Al Qaeda and the Taliban after the Sept. 11 attacks. About 250 detainees are now there.

The most notorious prisoners, who are accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bali nightclub bombings and attacks on United States embassies in Africa, were not taken to Guantánamo until 2006, when they were transferred from secret C.I.A. prisons.

Many of the former prisoners said that they had lost their homes and businesses or that their families had piled up debts in their absence because there was no one to support them.

One returned to find that his wife had divorced him and remarried. Another returned to learn that his father had been killed and that his estranged wife had taken their children and moved away. Others said they had received death threats.

Those who fared the best seemed to be Afghans from tightly knit villages, where several said they were greeted when they came home with celebrations that even some local police officers attended.

Of the 55 who discussed their interrogations, 31 said they were abusive and 24 said they had no problems. The majority held “distinctly negative views of the United States,” but many said that was directed at the United States government, not the American people.


3) A School Chief Takes On Tenure, Stirring a Fight
November 13, 2008

WASHINGTON — Michelle Rhee, the hard-charging chancellor of the Washington public schools, thinks teacher tenure may be great for adults, those who go into teaching to get summer vacations and great health insurance, for instance. But it hurts children, she says, by making incompetent instructors harder to fire.

So Ms. Rhee has proposed spectacular raises of as much as $40,000, financed by private foundations, for teachers willing to give up tenure.

Policy makers and educators nationwide are watching to see what happens to Ms. Rhee’s bold proposal. The 4,000-member Washington Teachers’ Union has divided over whether to embrace it, with many union members calling tenure a crucial protection against arbitrary firing.

“If Michelle Rhee were to get what she is demanding,” said Allan R. Odden, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who studies teacher compensation, “it would raise eyebrows everywhere, because that would be a gargantuan change.”

Last month, Ms. Rhee said she could no longer wait for a union response to her proposal, first outlined last summer, and announced an effort to identify and fire ineffective teachers, including those with tenure. The union is mobilizing to protect members, and the nation’s capital is bracing for what could be a wrenching labor struggle.

Ms. Rhee has not proposed abolishing tenure outright. Under her proposal, each teacher would choose between two compensation plans, one called green and the other red. Pay for teachers in the green plan would rise spectacularly, nearly doubling by 2010. But they would need to give up tenure for a year, after which they would need a principal’s recommendation or face dismissal.

Teachers who choose the red plan would also get big pay increases but would lose seniority rights that allow them to bump more-junior teachers if their school closes or undergoes an overhaul. If they were not hired by another school, their only options would be early retirement, a buyout or eventual dismissal.

In an interview, Ms. Rhee said she considered tenure outmoded.

“Tenure is the holy grail of teacher unions,” she said, “but has no educational value for kids; it only benefits adults. If we can put veteran teachers who have tenure in a position where they don’t have it, that would help us to radically increase our teacher quality. And maybe other districts would try it, too.”

Ms. Rhee has significant public backing for her efforts to improve this district of 46,000 students, one of the nation’s worst-performing. Both presidential candidates lined up behind her in their final debate last month, with Senator Barack Obama calling her Washington’s “wonderful new superintendent.”

Ms. Rhee, 38, has convinced Washington that she means business since Mayor Adrian M. Fenty plucked her out of a nonprofit organization based in New York City, the New Teacher Project, and installed her in the chancellorship 17 months ago. She has fired or forced out hundreds of central office employees, principals and paraprofessionals, as well as 216 teachers who lacked licenses, her aides said.

“Fire all incompetent teachers — that makes a good sound bite,” said George Parker, the president of the Washington Teachers’ Union. “But remember that not only teachers are to blame for the problems in this district.” Mr. Parker cited a chaotic administration that has had seven superintendents in a decade and has paid little attention to problems like truancy and student discipline. “You can’t fire your way into a successful school system,” he said.

Mr. Parker said he had kept an open mind about Ms. Rhee’s proposals, which would raise star teachers’ salaries to $130,000, with bonuses, by 2010, and the two went together before several mass gatherings of teachers in July to explain them. But an August poll commissioned by the union found that teachers opposed Ms. Rhee’s proposal by three to one.

In the interview, Ms. Rhee said the raises would be financed largely by foundations that had given her commitments of $75 million a year for five years, of which a “significant portion” would go for teacher compensation.

“The foundations want to fund things that are innovative and will have national ramifications,” she said. Ms. Rhee has declined to name the foundations, however, raising worries among some teachers about the foundations’ motives and about whether their commitments would remain solid if the nation’s financial crisis were to be prolonged.

The talks have made little progress in recent weeks.

“Students cannot wait for accountable teachers while adults argue,” Ms. Rhee said on Oct. 2, announcing that the district would seek to dismiss even tenured teachers deemed ineffective, partly by training principals to manage a little-used procedure that allows them to identify teachers for a 90-day mandatory improvement plan. Those who fail to demonstrate progress could face dismissal.

Mr. Parker responded by promising that the union would help teachers use all procedures available to protect their jobs.

“I’m willing to be flexible and to try out-of-the-box things to raise achievement,” he said, “but I’m not willing to move along this track that’s just geared to busting the union.”

Of Mr. Parker, Ms. Rhee said, “We have a very good relationship — he drives me nuts.”

The two leaders appeared together on Oct. 23 at an awards ceremony, and Ms. Rhee said they spoke briefly about the negotiations.

“You’re killing me,” Ms. Rhee said she told Mr. Parker in a joking exchange during the ceremony.

“No, you’re killing me,” Mr. Parker responded, she said.

Ms. Rhee’s relationship is less cordial with Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers in New York and, also, since July, the American Federation of Teachers, which is helping Mr. Parker’s local.

During Ms. Rhee’s decade-long tenure at the New Teacher Project, her group operated programs for the New York schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, and she helped him during negotiations with Ms. Weingarten in which Mr. Klein, too, initially attacked tenure and seniority rights.

Mr. Klein’s 2003 assault on tenure did not prosper, but those negotiations eventually changed the seniority system so that principals are no longer required to accept teachers in schools that are not a good fit for them and teachers are not required to go to those schools. Both sides say the change has improved school staffing, and Ms. Rhee has proposed it for Washington.

In May, hundreds of people at a convention of educational entrepreneurs here watched spellbound as Ms. Weingarten, a commanding presence onstage, and Ms. Rhee, challenging her from the floor, clashed over what should happen to tenured teachers whom no schools hire.

Ms. Rhee’s attitudes about teaching were forged in the 1990s in Baltimore, where she taught in an elementary school as a member of Teach for America, the nonprofit group that recruits college graduates to teach for two years in hard-to-staff schools, after which many leave for jobs in other professions.

“Michelle does not view teaching as a career,” Ms. Weingarten said in an interview. “She sees it as temporary, something a lot of newbies will work very hard at for a couple of years, and then if they leave, they leave, as opposed to professionals who get more seasoned.”

Teachers first won tenure rights across much of the United States early in the 20th century as a safeguard against patronage firings in big cities and interference by narrow-minded school boards in small towns, said Jeffrey Mirel, a professor of history and education at the University of Michigan.

“And the historical rationale remains good,” Dr. Mirel said, pointing to the case of a renowned high school biology teacher in Kansas who was forced to retire nine years ago because he refused to teach creationism.

“Without tenure,” Dr. Mirel said, “teachers can still face arbitrary firing because of religious views, or simply because of the highly politicized nature of American society.”

Ms. Rhee and Mr. Klein are hardly the first public officials to inveigh against tenure, but few have succeeded in weakening it. Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, persuaded Georgia lawmakers to repeal the state’s teacher tenure law in 2000. But two years later, angry teachers helped elect Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction, who promptly restored job protections for teachers.

Officials may have been most successful in abolishing tenure in Louisiana, where they had the help of a hurricane. Teachers in the Recovery School District, which was given control over many of New Orleans’s schools after Hurricane Katrina, serve at the will of the state superintendent, a spokeswoman for the district, Siona LaFrance, said in an e-mail message.

Maggie Slye, 31, a former teacher in Teach for America who is a literacy coach in a Washington elementary school, said she liked Ms. Rhee’s proposal because her salary would rise to $90,000 from $61,000 under the green plan.

“Isn’t it funny? I don’t even know if I have tenure,” said Ms. Slye, who taught in Boston last year. “To me, tenure is not a motivator; I motivate myself. It just doesn’t mean a lot to me.”

By contrast, Kerry Sylvia, 38, said she opposed Ms. Rhee’s proposal.

Although she is an award-winning world history teacher and works long hours to help students at her high school improve, Ms. Sylvia said that without tenure she would nevertheless feel vulnerable to arbitrary firing because she has publicly opposed some Rhee initiatives and speaks out about things like her school’s decrepit heating system.

“Don’t ask me to give up tenure, not even for a moment,” Ms. Sylvia said.


4) Depression Economics Returns
Op-Ed Columnist
November 14, 2008

The economic news, in case you haven’t noticed, keeps getting worse. Bad as it is, however, I don’t expect another Great Depression. In fact, we probably won’t see the unemployment rate match its post-Depression peak of 10.7 percent, reached in 1982 (although I wish I was sure about that).

We are already, however, well into the realm of what I call depression economics. By that I mean a state of affairs like that of the 1930s in which the usual tools of economic policy — above all, the Federal Reserve’s ability to pump up the economy by cutting interest rates — have lost all traction. When depression economics prevails, the usual rules of economic policy no longer apply: virtue becomes vice, caution is risky and prudence is folly.

To see what I’m talking about, consider the implications of the latest piece of terrible economic news: Thursday’s report on new claims for unemployment insurance, which have now passed the half-million mark. Bad as this report was, viewed in isolation it might not seem catastrophic. After all, it was in the same ballpark as numbers reached during the 2001 recession and the 1990-1991 recession, both of which ended up being relatively mild by historical standards (although in each case it took a long time before the job market recovered).

But on both of these earlier occasions the standard policy response to a weak economy — a cut in the federal funds rate, the interest rate most directly affected by Fed policy — was still available. Today, it isn’t: the effective federal funds rate (as opposed to the official target, which for technical reasons has become meaningless) has averaged less than 0.3 percent in recent days. Basically, there’s nothing left to cut.

And with no possibility of further interest rate cuts, there’s nothing to stop the economy’s downward momentum. Rising unemployment will lead to further cuts in consumer spending, which Best Buy warned this week has already suffered a “seismic” decline. Weak consumer spending will lead to cutbacks in business investment plans. And the weakening economy will lead to more job cuts, provoking a further cycle of contraction.

To pull us out of this downward spiral, the federal government will have to provide economic stimulus in the form of higher spending and greater aid to those in distress — and the stimulus plan won’t come soon enough or be strong enough unless politicians and economic officials are able to transcend several conventional prejudices.

One of these prejudices is the fear of red ink. In normal times, it’s good to worry about the budget deficit — and fiscal responsibility is a virtue we’ll need to relearn as soon as this crisis is past. When depression economics prevails, however, this virtue becomes a vice. F.D.R.’s premature attempt to balance the budget in 1937 almost destroyed the New Deal.

Another prejudice is the belief that policy should move cautiously. In normal times, this makes sense: you shouldn’t make big changes in policy until it’s clear they’re needed. Under current conditions, however, caution is risky, because big changes for the worse are already happening, and any delay in acting raises the chance of a deeper economic disaster. The policy response should be as well-crafted as possible, but time is of the essence.

Finally, in normal times modesty and prudence in policy goals are good things. Under current conditions, however, it’s much better to err on the side of doing too much than on the side of doing too little. The risk, if the stimulus plan turns out to be more than needed, is that the economy might overheat, leading to inflation — but the Federal Reserve can always head off that threat by raising interest rates. On the other hand, if the stimulus plan is too small there’s nothing the Fed can do to make up for the shortfall. So when depression economics prevails, prudence is folly.

What does all this say about economic policy in the near future? The Obama administration will almost certainly take office in the face of an economy looking even worse than it does now. Indeed, Goldman Sachs predicts that the unemployment rate, currently at 6.5 percent, will reach 8.5 percent by the end of next year.

All indications are that the new administration will offer a major stimulus package. My own back-of-the-envelope calculations say that the package should be huge, on the order of $600 billion.

So the question becomes, will the Obama people dare to propose something on that scale?

Let’s hope that the answer to that question is yes, that the new administration will indeed be that daring. For we’re now in a situation where it would be very dangerous to give in to conventional notions of prudence.


5) Democratic Pressure on Obama to Restore the Rule of Law
Editorial Observer
November 14, 2008

In a Senate hearing room in September, weeks before Barack Obama won the election, a series of law professors, lawyers and civil libertarians outlined one of the biggest challenges that will be facing the next president: bringing the United States government back under the rule of law.

Over the past eight years, they testified, American legal traditions have been degraded in areas ranging from domestic spying to government secrecy. The damage that has been done by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others is so grave that just assessing it will be an enormous task. Repairing it will be even more enormous.

This was not a new complaint. Civil liberties advocates have been sounding the alarm for years. The difference now is that a Democrat is about to assume the presidency, and one of the most ardent defenders of civil liberties in his party — Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin — is dedicated to putting the restoration of the rule of law on the agenda of the incoming government, with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.

Mr. Feingold, who is chairman the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, already has left his imprint on campaign finance, with the McCain-Feingold law, and has been a leading critic of pork-barrel spending and corporate welfare.

Now he has a new cause. Before the election, Mr. Feingold argued that whoever won should make a priority of rolling back Bush administration policies that eroded constitutional rights and disrupted the careful system of checks and balances. Now that Mr. Obama — a onetime constitutional law professor who made this issue a cause early in the campaign — has won the election, there is both reason for optimism and increased pressure on the president-elect to keep his promises.

Mr. Feingold has been compiling a list of areas for the next president to focus on, which he intends to present to Mr. Obama. It includes amending the Patriot Act, giving detainees greater legal protections and banning torture, cruelty and degrading treatment. He wants to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to restore limits on domestic spying. And he wants to roll back the Bush administration’s dedication to classifying government documents.

Many reforms could be implemented directly by the next president. Mr. Obama could renounce Mr. Bush’s extreme views of executive power, including the notion that in many areas, the president can act as he wants without restraint by Congress or the judiciary. Mr. Obama also could declare his intention not to use presidential signing statements as Mr. Bush did in record numbers to reject parts of bills signed into law.

Congress also has work to do. Many of the excesses of the last eight years have been the result of Mr. Feingold’s colleagues’ capitulation as much as presidential overreaching. He expects Congress to do more than just fix laws like the Patriot Act. He wants the Senate to question presidential nominees closely at their confirmation hearings about their commitment to the rule of law. And he hopes Congress will do its duty to impose the rigorous supervision it rarely imposed in the Bush years.

Restoring the rule of law will not be easy, Mr. Feingold concedes. Part of the problem is that it is hard to know how much damage has been done. Many programs, like domestic spying and extraordinary rendition — the secret transfer of detainees to foreign countries where they are harshly interrogated — have operated in the shadows.

And it would be a mistake to overlook Congress’s role. Members from both parties voted for laws like the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which stripped detainees of habeas corpus rights, and looked the other way while the rule of law was diminished.

Still, Mr. Feingold is convinced that this is a critical moment. If the next president does not reverse the Bush administration’s doctrines, he fears that they will no longer simply be the policies of one extremist president. The danger is that they will be the nation’s new understanding of the Constitution.


6) When Wall Street Runs Dry
November 15, 2008

Gov. David Paterson of New York spends his time these days explaining why he has to cut Medicaid and school aid, why he has asked public unions to forgo a pay raise and why he wants to raise tuition in state colleges. Wall Street has turned off the spigot. “The well has run dry,” he said as he unveiled his latest proposals to control state spending.

More proposals will come; those he presented Wednesday would fill a $1.5 billion hole in this year’s $121 billion budget if the Legislature adopts them at a special session in Albany on Tuesday. Only $8.8 billion would then have to be cut from next year’s budget, not the $12 billion now projected. Only $8.8 billion?

The reason Mr. Paterson is going after untouchables like Medicaid and school aid is that New York suddenly finds itself in a terrible fix. Anybody who won’t acknowledge this is simply hiding under the desk.

Which is just about where some Senate Republicans and union leaders can be found these days. Mr. Paterson’s cuts are unfair, they argue — or, as Senator Dean Skelos, the majority leader and a Long Island Republican, unhelpfully suggests, not very creative. But nobody has offered anything more creative. Meanwhile, the Democrats in the State Senate, on the verge of a majority, are so disorganized that they can hardly agree on anything, let alone tough budget cuts.

Instead of all this whining, what Mr. Paterson and the state need is for the rest of the state’s leadership to stand up and give him a hand — in particular to calm the restive health, civil service and teachers’ unions that are urgently campaigning to protect their own nests. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has at least conceded that the state’s economic outlook is “bleak,” could be especially helpful with these powerful groups.

Mr. Paterson is asking state workers to defer five days of pay until retirement. This should be an easy sell. Asking them to defer next year’s 3 percent raise and to adjust future medical co-payments will be harder, but their benefits are very generous and they should agree to modest rollbacks to avoid layoffs.

The Legislature also should quickly accept the governor’s proposals to close empty prisons and youth facilities upstate. Adding water and juice bottles to those requiring a nickel deposit is also an efficient way to curb littering and finance the state’s environmental efforts.

Mr. Paterson’s candor at this time is admirable. As a 20-year veteran of Albany, he knows firsthand how rapidly New York’s budgets can grow. “We will not get out of this quagmire until we stop spending,” he warned. And until the state starts cutting, it will only get deeper.


7) Saving Detroit From Itself
November 15, 2008

We have seen a lot of posturing, but we haven’t heard a lot of sense in the debate over whether the government should spend even more to bail out Detroit’s foundering automakers.

Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican of Alabama, is wrong when he says that the troubles of the Big Three are “not a national problem.” The Detroit companies support nearly 250,000 workers and more than a million retirees and dependents, as well as millions of workers at part makers and dealerships. A messy bankruptcy filing by any of the big car companies, in the midst of this recession, would likely cost the government and the economy more than trying to keep them afloat.

At the same time, Congressional Democrats and President-elect Barack Obama, who are pushing for many billions worth of emergency aid for the nation’s least-competent carmakers, must ensure that tough conditions are attached to any rescue package. If not, the money will surely be wasted.

This goes beyond firing top management, forbidding the payment of dividends to stockholders and putting limits on executive pay — all necessary steps. The government should insist on a complete restructuring of any company it pours billions of public funds into.

All three car companies have been hamstrung by the legacy costs of providing pensions and health care to hundreds of thousands of retirees. But Detroit’s problems are mostly of its own making.

The automakers hitched their fate to gas-guzzling trucks, and they obstinately refused to acknowledge that oil is a finite resource and that burning it limitlessly is harming the planet. They lobbied strenuously against tighter fuel-efficiency standards. That wrongheadedness did them in as gas prices spiked and consumers flocked to energy-efficient cars made by Toyota and Honda.

It makes no sense at all to give these companies billions just so they can struggle on for a few more months down this disastrous path.

Before it approves any bailout package, Congress must insist that any company receiving government money must commit to a specific plan to improve energy efficiency. The average fuel efficiency of the American auto fleet peaked at 25.9 miles per gallon in 1987 and then leveled off as gas prices fell and the automakers churned out more sport-utility vehicles and pickups.

Last year, Detroit managed to extract a promise of $25 billion in subsidized loans from Congress in exchange for a new target of 35 m.p.g. by 2020. But the industry can do better. If Detroit were willing to make smaller cars, as European companies do, it could probably achieve a fleet-wide average of 50 m.p.g. by 2020.

The companies also are struggling under a mountain of debt. And any restructuring would mean that creditors would have to swallow a loss or accept equity — as under a regular bankruptcy filing. Restructuring would likely require more plant closures and layoffs.

Rescued car companies would almost certainly have to re-open labor agreements on pay and benefits. These steps would be painful for many workers. But they also are necessary.

Even then, there is no guarantee that these companies will survive after years of failed management. We are sure they won’t if they don’t make sweeping changes in the way they do business. If Congress is going to take the risk and invest billions more of the taxpayers’ money in the companies, it must insist on those changes.


8) ‘Drop Dead’ Is Not an Option
Op-Ed Columnist
November 15, 2008

The famous Daily News headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” ran on Oct. 30, 1975.

New York was on the verge of bankruptcy, and President Ford (who never actually said “drop dead”) had made it clear, after listening to conservative hard-liners both inside and outside of his administration, that he planned to veto any federal rescue plan.

It was yet another case of the worshippers of abstract economic notions (let the markets run their infallible courses) ignoring the potential consequences of their smug certainties.

Felix Rohatyn, the financier who played such a large role in the city’s economic recovery, has told me many times of the economic summit near Paris in November 1975 in which President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing of France and Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany explained to Mr. Ford that allowing New York to go bankrupt might well light the fuse to an international financial crisis and would foster the idea that America itself was no longer creditworthy.

Mr. Ford was persuaded that the cascading effects of a bankruptcy were potentially catastrophic and could not be risked. He relented. Loan guarantees were made; the city went through the long ordeal of getting its financial house in order; the loans were repaid; and New York not only recovered but thrived.

The city’s fiscal crisis of the 1970s was in no way comparable in scale to the myriad crises facing the country right now. But it’s still instructive. The ideological hard-liners have now cast their collectively jaundiced eye on Detroit’s automakers. Their response to the very real danger that General Motors might crumble into bankruptcy is: C’est la vie.

Unlike President Ford, Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican of Alabama — to cite just one example — is not troubled by thoughts of cascading effects, such as the toll of domino-like business failures and swelling unemployment moving like a toxic virus through an economy that is already ill.

“The financial situation facing the Big Three is not a national problem, but their own problem,” he said.


I can agree that it’s impossible to make a positive case for the backward, self-destructive practices of the auto industry over many years. (Just as it was difficult to defend the practices that led to New York’s fiscal crisis.) But in the current environment, allowing one or more of the Big Three to go bankrupt would be like offering up your nose to Sweeney Todd to spite your face.

It’s not just General Motors or Chrysler or Ford. The U.S. auto industry is the cornerstone of American manufacturing. It supports millions of jobs, directly or indirectly, in a vast array of businesses.

Start with the thousands of parts in each vehicle. They are produced by suppliers across the country, from one coast to the other. Those supplies have to be manufactured, packaged and transported. Truck drivers, railway systems and shipping companies are involved.

And, of course, there are dealers everywhere. And the auto repair industry. And the insurance industry. And vast systems of advertising supporting every kind of job you can imagine, from messengers to accountants to filmmakers and beyond. All of that advertising funnels absolutely crucial revenues to television, magazines, newspapers — you name it.

If G.M., which is on life support, or Ford or Chrysler were to go bankrupt, the reverberations would kill the jobs of entire armies of American workers. It would undermine the standard of living of hundreds of thousands of families and shutter the entrances of untold numbers of small and intermediate businesses.

Senator Shelby might want to do some homework before embarrassing himself again with the absurd comment that the crisis facing the Big Three is not a national problem.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, a state that is already writhing in pain from the auto industry’s troubles, would tell Mr. Shelby that the industry “supports 1 in every 10 jobs in the country.”

It’s easy to demonize the American auto industry. It has behaved with the foresight of a crack addict for years. But even when people set their own houses on fire, we still dial 9-1-1, hoping to save lives, salvage what we can and protect the rest of the neighborhood.

This whole matter needs some intensive thought. At the moment, Washington has tremendous leverage over the failing auto industry. The government should craft a rescue plan that is both tough and very, very smart. That means dragging the industry (kicking and screaming, no doubt) into the 21st century by insisting on ironclad commitments to design and develop vehicles that make sense economically and that serve the nation’s long-term energy security requirements.

What I would like to see is creative thinking on both ends of the bargain. Let the smartest minds design a bailout that sparks a creative revolution in the industry. Think of it as project synergy.

Time’s wasting.


9) Cleric Calls for Resistance to U.S. Presence in Iraq
November 15, 2008

BAGHDAD — As the Iraqi cabinet prepares to vote on a security agreement for American troops, the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr called Friday for armed resistance against any agreement that allowed a continued United States presence in Iraq.

“I repeat my demand to the occupier to leave our land without keeping bases or signing agreements,” Mr. Sadr said in a statement read to thousands of supporters at Friday Prayer. “If they keep bases, then I would support honorable resistance.”

Tension is rising here over the agreement as the vote nears, even if few oppose it to the extremes of Mr. Sadr and his followers. An aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered Shiite cleric in Iraq, also indicated that he would intervene in some way if the draft did not enjoy the full support of the Iraqi people. But Ayatollah Sistani, who far outranks Mr. Sadr, has consistently advocated nonviolence.

Iraqi officials expect the coalition cabinet of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to vote Sunday on whether to send the current draft to Parliament for approval. It is unclear whether it will pass through either body, though some officials are optimistic. “Most of the blocs agree, and there is no bloc that entirely refuses the pact except for the Sadrists,” said Sami al-Askari, a Shiite lawmaker and member of Mr. Maliki’s Dawa Party.

Others are wavering. The Kurds, one of the groups supporting the agreement, have recently expressed hesitation about the current draft, worrying that the semiautonomous Kurdish region could lose power to the central government.

Several days ago, Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, called President Bush and urged him to accept more changes to the agreement, said Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish member of Parliament. “It is unfortunate that some of the leaders in the Kurdish alliance are in a hurry to support this pact,” Mr. Othman said. “The pact is not good for the Kurds.”

The United Nations Security Council resolution that allows American troops to operate in Iraq expires Dec. 31. Without an extension of the resolution or a separate agreement with the Iraqis, American troops would have to cease operations.

After eight months of negotiations, the Americans have said they regard the current draft of the agreement as final, though Mr. Askari said the Americans had recently accepted additional Iraqi demands, including the government’s authority to grant American troops permission to search houses.

The draft also sets a timeline for troop withdrawals from Iraqi cities by next June and a withdrawal of combat troops from the country by the end of 2011.

Publicly, Ayatollah Sistani has said that he will not interfere in the negotiations as long as Iraqi sovereignty is honored, though he has not specified exactly what that means. The ayatollah is enormously influential among Iraq’s majority Shiite population; in 2004, when he wanted to put pressure on the Americans to hold direct elections, he called upon his followers to march by the hundreds of thousands in a peaceful but powerful demonstration of force.

An official in the ayatollah’s office in Najaf, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, said the clerics were willing to intervene in the current negotiations “if the agreement violates sovereignty.”

Mr. Sadr has long opposed any pact that would leave American troops on Iraqi soil. This summer, he announced that he was dividing his militia, the Mahdi Army, into a social service wing called the Momahidoun and an armed wing made up of elite fighters who would attack only non-Iraqi forces. In his statement on Friday, Mr. Sadr named the armed wing publicly for the first time: Ilyoom Al Mawoud, or the Promised Day Brigade.

He also reached out to “special groups,” the armed militias that the Americans say are being trained by Iran, and urged members of the groups to abandon their leaders and join his brigade. He referred to these groups as the Asa’ib, or bands. It was unclear whether he was talking generally about special groups or about a specific group that the Americans have recently identified as the Asa’ib ahl al-Haq, or Bands of Right, a network that the Americans say is sponsored by Iran and broke off from the Sadrists.

Reporting was contributed by Stephen Farrell, Mohammed Hussein, Atheer Kakan and Riyadh Mohammed.


10) Parents’ Night With the President
November 16, 2008


IN a town abuzz about all things Barack Obama, the policy wonks and government insiders have been whispering and wondering about who will be who in his incoming cabinet. But among power parents in the nation’s capital, there is yet another burning question.

Where will the Obama girls go to school?

Michelle Obama toured at least two of Washington’s most prestigious private schools last week — Sidwell Friends School and Georgetown Day School — and touched off a frenzy of dreaming, gossiping and well-mannered jockeying among the Washington elite. Maret School, another exclusive academy, is also believed to be on the shortlist for the future first children, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

With annual tuitions that can exceed $28,000, these liberal-leaning schools have long brimmed with the scions of senators, representatives, financiers, diplomats, scholars, lawyers, journalists and even a few American presidents.

Notable parents currently include several Obama advisers. Eric H. Holder Jr., a top contender for attorney general, has children at Georgetown Day. Susan E. Rice, a foreign policy adviser, has a child at Maret. And Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the vice president-elect, has grandchildren at Sidwell.

The school competition has transfixed a city where high-profile personalities and institutions often place a premium on access to political power. But the Obamas’ decision is also being closely watched for what it might reveal about the parental sensibilities of the president-elect and his wife.

Will the Obamas choose the Quaker-run Sidwell, established in 1883 and described by some as the Harvard of the three schools? (Sidwell has already educated children of two sitting presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Bill Clinton.)

Will they pick Georgetown Day, which became Washington’s first integrated school in 1945 and is known for its informality (students call teachers by their first names) and its emphasis on diversity and social justice? Or will they select Maret, a smaller, more intimate academy founded in 1911 that would allow the first family to keep both children on one enclosed campus?

The Obamas and their aides declined to discuss the family’s inclinations, and no one knows how their choice may ultimately affect Washington’s social landscape. City officials say the Obamas have not visited any public schools here, and their daughters, who attend private school in Chicago, are not expected to switch course.

But those are only details. All across town, parents are already dreamily envisioning casual chats with the president and first lady at soccer practices and PTA meetings, while little girls are swooning over the prospect of White House sleepovers with the daughters of the nation’s first black president.

“With this particular president, there’s so much excitement,” said Natalie Wexler, a novelist whose daughter caught a glimpse of Mrs. Obama at Sidwell last Monday. “Anything or anyone connected to him is going to be exciting.”

History, of course, is not the only consideration.

Michael Kazin, a historian of American politics at Georgetown University, said some parents and administrators are focused on the prestige the Obamas would bring to any school and the students and families affiliated with it.

“No matter what the ideology of the president who is elected or what his party is, the privileged people in Washington always want to get a little more privileged,” said Mr. Kazin, who has a daughter at Maret.

“It’s clear that many parents who send their kids to these schools would want the Obamas to go there,” he said. “They want their particular niche of the community to be enhanced.”

School administrators, trustees and politically-connected parents bristle at the notion that they have done any hard-core lobbying for the Obama children, though some say they have offered the family some friendly counsel. Indeed, Mrs. Obama has already reached out to several prominent people with first-hand experience with the schools.

She called Senator Hillary Clinton the day after the election to discuss the joys and challenges of raising children in the White House, Clinton aides said.

And Beth Dozoretz, a prominent Democratic donor, said that Mrs. Obama asked her about Sidwell a couple of months ago. She said she encouraged Mrs. Obama to consider the school, but emphasized that the city has several excellent private institutions, including Georgetown Day.

Mrs. Dozoretz also passed along a note from her 10-year-old daughter, Melanne, who was thrilled about the prospect of an Obama presidency and the possibility that the girls might end up at her school. (“I love Sidwell because I learn so much there,” Melanne wrote in the note addressed to Mrs. Obama.)

“Of course, anybody would be happy to have that family in their school,” Mrs. Dozoretz said. “This is the first family. But I really feel they will do what’s right for their family. It’s a very personal decision.”

Aides to Mr. Obama and his wife declined to comment on whether Mr. Biden or any other Obama advisers linked to the three schools were quietly (or loudly) rooting for their favorites.

Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a historian who has written about first families, said that public fascination with the school decision-making process bloomed in the 1970s when President Jimmy Carter made a point of sending his daughter, Amy, to a public school in Washington. The Clintons drew enormous attention — and some criticism — when they enrolled Chelsea at Sidwell. (She was in public school before Mr. Clinton became president.)

“Those decisions are now often weighed with the thought of what kind of message they will send or what they will symbolize,” Mr. Anthony said. “But the truth of the matter is that most of the presidents’ families were from the elite ruling class. So their kids tended to go to private schools.”

The Obama girls attend the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a progressive private institution that has about 1,700 students and is larger than any of the schools under consideration here. Annual tuition runs as high as $21,480.

That has not deterred Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and his education chancellor, Michelle Rhee, from lobbying for Washington’s public schools. The officials have presented several options to the Obama family, a city spokeswoman said.

“Our goal is to have D.C. public schools be as serious an option as any charter or private schools, not just for the Obamas but for any family making the decision," Mr. Fenty said last week on MSNBC.

Mr. Fenty, however, sends his children to private school, though not to Sidwell, Georgetown Day or Maret. (Chancellor Rhee’s children attend public school.)

And while the decision between public and private can sometimes be an agonizing one for some black professionals, who worry about isolating their children, it is not known to have been an issue for the Obamas.

Washington is typically a socially segregated city, but the schools the Obamas are considering appeal to the elite across color lines. (Mr. Holder and Ms. Rice, the two Obama advisers, are African-American.)

Sidwell administrators say its student body is 13 percent black. Georgetown Day and Maret officials say their schools are 20 percent African-American. (Officials at the Laboratory Schools in Chicago say the population there is about 10 percent black.)

And for many black parents and students, the buzz has been thrilling. Dylan McAfee, an African-American girl in second grade at Georgetown Day, met Mrs. Obama last Monday and has been star-struck ever since. “I touched her hand and she smelled like cherries,” she said.

Malia and Sasha Obama are the talk of the school and the town, said Dylan’s mother, Anita LaRue-McAfee, who is a lawyer.

It’s the first time, she said, that she has seen Washington’s power people utterly agog over two black schoolgirls.

“Here are two little girls that everyone is fawning over, and they look like my kid,” Ms. LaRue-McAfee said. “That’s why I’m excited.”

Caption research was provided by Ashley Parker.




Women Gain in Education but Not Power, Study Finds
GENEVA (Reuters) — Women still lag far behind men in top political and decision-making roles, though their access to education and health care is nearly equal, the World Economic Forum said Wednesday.
In its 2008 Global Gender Gap report, the forum, a Swiss research organization, ranked Norway, Finland and Sweden as the countries that have the most equality of the sexes, and Saudi Arabia, Chad and Yemen as having the least.
Using United Nations data, the report found that girls and women around the world had generally reached near-parity with their male peers in literacy, access to education and health and survival. But in terms of economics and politics, including relative access to executive government and corporate posts, the gap between the sexes remains large.
The United States ranked 27th, above Russia (42nd), China (57th), Brazil (73rd) and India (113th). But the United States was ranked below Germany (11th), Britain (13th), France (15th), Lesotho (16th), Trinidad and Tobago (19th), South Africa (22nd), Argentina (24th) and Cuba (25th).
“The world’s women are nearly as educated and as healthy as men, but are nowhere to be found in terms of decision-making,” said Saadia Zahidi of the World Economic Forum
Middle Eastern and North African countries received the lowest ratings over all. The rankings of Syria, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia declined in 2008.
The report said the inequalities in those countries were so large as to put them at an economic disadvantage.
“A nation’s competitiveness depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its female talent. To maximize its competitiveness and development potential, each country should strive for gender equality.”
November 13, 2008

Syria: Uranium Traces Found at Bombed Site, Diplomats Say
World Briefing | Middle East
Samples taken from a Syrian site bombed by Israel last year contained traces of uranium combined with other elements that merit further investigation, diplomats said Monday. The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because their information was confidential, said the uranium was processed, suggesting some kind of nuclear link.
One diplomat said the uranium finding itself was significant only in the context of other traces found in the oil or air samples taken by International Atomic Energy Agency experts in June. Syria has a rudimentary declared nuclear program revolving around research for medical and agricultural uses, and the uranium traces might have inadvertently been carried to the bombed site.
November 11, 2008

Italy: School Reforms Draw More Protests
World Briefing | Europe
Students and teachers took to the streets of Italy on Thursday for the third consecutive day to protest reforms and cutbacks by the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that would reduce the number of classroom hours and diminish the number of elementary school teachers. Elementary, middle and high schools were closed as union members went on strike and joined public marches that paralyzed Rome and other cities.
October 31, 2008

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




"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. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."
- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)
Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin (1802)"


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


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


"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