Friday, November 28, 2008



The National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations:
Call for Unity

Dear Antiwar Organization/Activist,

The National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations was founded in June 2008 in Cleveland , Ohio at an open national antiwar conference attended by more than 400 activists from 26 states. Our central purpose was to foster the coming together of the broad antiwar movement in massive national demonstrations in the spring of 2009 to call for an immediate end to all U.S. wars and occupations, and money for social needs, not bloated Pentagon spending. We believe that a broad and unified antiwar movement is the best way to achieve these goals.

Last week, our Continuations Body representing some 40 organizations, hailed the recent initiatives by UFPJ and the ANSWER coalition regarding projected March 2009 antiwar actions. (See the National Assembly's October 23rd statement below.) We support both initiatives!

We urge unity in support of the mobilizations in Washington , D.C. called by UFPJ during the week of March 19, culminating in the massive united demonstrations called for by ANSWER for Saturday, March 21, in D.C., Los Angeles , San Francisco , Chicago , Miami and other cities marking the sixth year of the U.S. invasion of Iraq . There should be no conflict or competition between the two calls. ANSWER has urged formation of a broad, united, ad hoc national coalition to make the March 21 action the property of the entire movement. We believe that is the way to go and we will do everything in our power to make these actions in March a success.

Below is our "Open Letter to the U.S. Antiwar Movement" adopted on July 13, 2008 spelling out the price the movement pays for remaining divided. That letter, with the latest list of endorsing organizations and individuals, states in part:

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

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

With these national calls for action, we have the first opportunity in years to bring the entire movement together in a show of strength and determination to end these brutal military interventions.

We hope that you and your organization agree that unified national March actions are sorely needed in these times of military and economic crises. We ask that you:

1. Sign the Open Letter to the U.S. Antiwar Movement.

2. Urge all local and national organizations and coalitions to join in building the mobilizations in D.C. in March and the mass actions on March 21.

3. Support the formation of a broad, united, ad hoc national coalition to bring massive forces out on March 21, 2009.

You can sign the Open Letter by writing [if you are a group or individual. (Individual endorsers please include something about yourselves.)] or through the National Assembly website at [if you are a group endorsement only]. For more information, please email us at the above address or call 216-736-4704. We greatly appreciate all donations to help in our unity efforts. Checks should be made payable to National Assembly and mailed to P.O. Box 21008 , Cleveland , OH 44121 .

In peace and solidarity,

Greg Coleridge, Coordinator, Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC); Economic Justice and Empowerment Program Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (AFSC); Member, Administrative Body, National Assembly

Marilyn Levin, Coordinating Committee, Greater Boston United for Justice with Peace; New England United; Member, Administrative Body, National Assembly

On behalf of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations

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) Outlook Grows More Dire for Housing Market
November 26, 2008

2) Five Convicted in Terrorism Financing Trial
November 25, 2008

3) Big Jump Foreseen in Ranks of the Poor
November 25, 2008

4) Louisiana: High Anemia Rates
National Briefing | South
November 25, 2008

5) Change Is Landing in Old Hands
If They Can
November 23, 2008

6) Court Backs Warrantless Searches Abroad
November 25, 2008

7) The slow death of Gaza
The collective punishment of Gaza's civilian population is illegal. But international law was tossed aside long ago
By Andrea Becker
November 24, 2008

8) Disposable Youth in a Suspect Society: A Challenge for the Obama Administration
By Henry A. Giroux
-t r u t h o u t | Perspective
November 25, 2008

9) Holiday Shopping at a Subdued Pace
November 29, 2008

10) Lest We Forget
Op-Ed Columnist
November 28, 2008

11) About Latin America
November 28, 2008

12) Copper’s Every Dip Is Felt in Arizona
November 28, 2008

13) Adding to the City’s Coffers, One Ticket at a Time
November 28, 2008


1) Outlook Grows More Dire for Housing Market
November 26, 2008

The financial shocks of September and October appeared to dash any hopes for a quick recovery in the housing market, where the precipitous declines in sales and prices — the problems at the heart of the current credit crisis — have only worsened.

Home loans, already scarce by normal standards, dried up as the impact of the Lehman Brothers collapse spiraled through the credit market. Buyers who had begun to wade back into the market were spooked by the turmoil, reversing recent improvements in sales. And sellers were forced to lower prices again, sending home values down at a record pace.

Home prices across the United States declined 16.6 percent in the third quarter from the July-to-September period a year ago, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, a widely watched gauge released Tuesday by Standard & Poor’s.

That amounted to the biggest quarter-to-quarter decline in prices since the survey began in 1988. Prices have returned to levels not seen since 2004.

“We continue to believe that it is unlikely that we are anywhere near a bottom in nationwide home prices,” Joshua Shapiro, chief domestic economist at the research firm MFR, wrote in a message to clients.

And fewer Americans are making plans to buy. Just 1.9 percent of the 5,000 households who responded to a Conference Board survey said they planned to buy a home in the next six months, the lowest reading this year and down from 2.6 percent in November 2007. Overall consumer confidence recovered slightly from October, but remained low.

Sensing the increasingly dire housing market, the Federal Reserve announced a pair of programs on Tuesday aimed at helping Americans obtain the money needed to make large purchases, like a home.

The Fed will buy up to $600 billion in mortgage-related assets from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant government-backed mortgage buyers. “This action is being taken to reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for the purchase of houses,” the Fed said in a statement, “which in turn should support housing markets and foster improved conditions in financial markets more generally.”

Prices declined in September in all 20 cities surveyed in the Case-Shiller report, with San Francisco and Phoenix suffering the biggest drops. Compared with a year ago, prices in Phoenix have dropped 31.9 percent, followed closely by Las Vegas with a 31.3 percent decline.

Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego and San Francisco all had annual declines of more than 26 percent. Prices in New York have fallen 7.3 percent since September 2007.

“The turmoil in the financial markets is placing further downward pressure on a housing market already weakened by its own fundamentals,” David M. Blitzer, who oversees the index, wrote in a note.

The report also suggested that conditions in the housing market were worsening after several months of more positive signs. While prices have fallen all year, they had appeared to be declining at a slower pace; that is no longer the case.

“As bad as the latest Case-Shiller numbers appear to be, they are bound to get much worse,” Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight, wrote this morning.

Case-Shiller came on the heels of another bleak report released Monday by the National Association of Realtors, which showed that sales of previously owned homes, which make up about 90 percent of the market, fell in October at the fastest annual rate in 40 years.

For the housing market to improve, inventories of unsold homes will have to come down — a development that is dependent on a steep reduction in prices that could attract more buyers.

Indeed, the only silver lining to the significant price declines of late is that they signal the recovery process, while painful and slow, is under way.

In a separate report on Tuesday, the Commerce Department said that the economy contracted at a 0.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, slightly more than the 0.3 percent contraction that was originally reported. The revision was in line with economists’ expectations.

Consumer spending, traditionally the engine of American economic growth, fell 3.7 percent in the third quarter, even worse than the previously reported 3.1 percent decrease.


2) Five Convicted in Terrorism Financing Trial
November 25, 2008

DALLAS — On their second try, federal prosecutors won sweeping convictions Monday against five leaders of a Muslim charity in a retrial of the largest terrorism-financing case in the United States since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The five defendants, all leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, based in Richardson, a Dallas suburb, were convicted on all 108 criminal counts against them, including support of terrorism, money laundering and tax fraud. The group was accused of funneling millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, an Islamist organization the government declared to be a terrorist group in 1995.

“Money is the lifeblood of terrorism,” Richard B. Roper, the United States attorney whose office prosecuted the case, said Monday in a statement. “The jury’s decision demonstrates that U.S. citizens will not tolerate those who provide financial support to terrorist organizations.”

The defendants argued that the Holy Land Foundation, once the largest Muslim charity in the United States, was engaged in legitimate humanitarian aid for community welfare programs and Palestinian orphans.

The jury, which deliberated for eight days, reached a starkly different result than the jury in the first trial, which ended in a mistrial on most charges in October 2007, after nearly two months of testimony and 19 days of deliberations.

The government shuttered the Holy Land Foundation in December 2001 and seized its assets, a move President Bush heralded at the time as “another step in the war on terrorism.”

The charity’s leaders — Ghassan Elashi, Shukri Abu-Baker, Mufid Abdulqader, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mohammad El-Mezain — were not accused in the 2004 indictment of directly financing suicide bombings or terrorist violence. Instead, they accused of illegally contributing to Hamas after the United States designated it a terrorist group.

The defendants could be sentenced to 15 years on each count of supporting a terrorist group, and 20 years on each count of money laundering. Leaders of the foundation, which is now defunct, might also have to forfeit millions of dollars.

Khalil Meek, a longtime spokesman for a coalition of Holy Land Foundation supporters called Hungry for Justice, which includes national Muslim and civil rights groups, said supporters were “devastated” by the verdict.

“We respect the jury’s decision, but we disagree and we think the defendants are completely innocent,” Mr. Meek said. “For the last two years we’ve watched this trial unfold, and we have yet to see any evidence of a criminal act introduced to a jury. This jury found that humanitarian aid is a crime.”

He added, “We intend to appeal the verdict, and we remain convinced that we will win.”

The prosecutor, Barry Jonas, told jurors in closing arguments last week that they should not be deceived by the foundation’s cover of humanitarian work, describing the charities it financed as terrorist recruitment centers that were part of a “womb to the tomb” cycle.

After the mistrial last year, critics said the government had offered a weak, complicated case and had failed to recognize that juries were not as quick to convict Muslim defendants accused of supporting terrorism as they had once been. Prosecutors spent more time in the second trial explaining the complexities of the case and painting a clearer picture of the money trail. They also dropped many of the original charges.

“Today’s verdicts are important milestones in America’s efforts against financiers of terrorism,” Patrick Rowan, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement. Mr. Rowan added that the prosecution “demonstrates our resolve to ensure that humanitarian relief efforts are not used as a mechanism to disguise and enable support for terrorist groups.”

Nancy Hollander, a lawyer from Albuquerque who represented Mr. Abu-Baker, said the defendants would appeal based on a number of issues, including the anonymous testimony of an expert, which she said was a first.

“Our clients were not even allowed to review their own statements because they were classified — statements that they made over the course of many years that the government wiretapped,” Ms. Hollander said. “They were not allowed to go back and review them. There were statements from alleged co-conspirators that included handwritten notes. Nobody knew who wrote them; nobody knew when they were written. There are a plethora of issues.”

Noor Elashi, a 23-year-old writer who is the daughter of Ghassan Elashi, said she was “heartbroken” that jurors had accepted what she called the fear-mongering of the prosecution.

“I am utterly shocked at this outcome,” Ms. Elashi said. “This is a truly low point for the United States of America.” She said supporters would not rest until the verdict was overturned.

“My dad is a law-abiding citizen who was persecuted for his humanitarian work in Palestine and his political beliefs,” Ms. Elashi said. “Today I did not shed a single tear. My dad’s smile was radiant. That’s because he saved lives, and now he’s paying the price.”

According to, a Web site that calls itself the voice of the defendants’ relatives and friends, the foundation “simply provided food, clothes, shelter, medical supplies and education to the suffering people in Palestine and other countries.”


3) Big Jump Foreseen in Ranks of the Poor
November 25, 2008

Rising unemployment could push an additional 7.5 million to 10.3 million United States residents below the federal poverty line over the next two or three years, a research group has estimated, based on the experience of the last three recessions and the latest projections of job losses.

If the analysis is correct, this would be the largest jump in the poverty rate since the prolonged recession of the early 1980s, when the number of poor people climbed to 35 million from 26 million over four years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research group in Washington. Milder recessions in the early 1990s and in 2001 caused significant but lesser increases.

In 2007, according to the Census Bureau, 37.3 million residents, or 12.5 percent of the population, lived below the poverty line, which is currently $21,200 for a family of four. But economists say the total is sure to rise over the coming years, and if the private budget center’s estimates hold true, the number of poor people could approach 47 million.

The budget center’s estimates assume that unemployment will rise to 9 percent by the end of 2009, a figure projected last week by Goldman Sachs.


4) Louisiana: High Anemia Rates
National Briefing | South
November 25, 2008

Dozens of children who lived in the state’s biggest trailer park for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina have been found to be anemic because of poor diets, at a rate that health experts said was four times the national average. About 41 percent of 77 children under the age of 4 suffered from the condition this year, according to a study released by the Children’s Health Fund. Most, and possibly all, lived in the Renaissance Village trailer park in Baker. The national rate for children that young is below 10 percent. About 24 percent of all Louisiana children below the age of 5 are anemic, according to the 2007 Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance survey.


5) Change Is Landing in Old Hands
If They Can
November 23, 2008

AS he sought the presidency for the last two years, Barack Obama liked to say that “change doesn’t come from Washington — change comes to Washington.”

Nearly three weeks after his election, he is testing voters’ understanding of that assertion as he assembles a government whose early selections lean heavily on veterans of the political era he ran to supplant. He showed that in breathtaking fashion by turning to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, his bitter primary rival and the wife of the last Democratic president, for the post of secretary of state.

Mr. Obama will bring pieces of Chicago to the White House in the form of longtime advisers like Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod. But even after vowing to turn the page on the polarized politics of the baby boom generation, he’s made clear that service in the Beltway wars of the last 20 years is not only acceptable, but in some cases necessary for his purposes.

At the same time, it raises a question: Could the 47-year-old president-elect ultimately find himself pulled toward the Washington folkways he has vowed to surmount?

In Mrs. Clinton’s case, the president-elect was bringing a formidable former rival into his camp, evidently calculating that her political constituency, brains and experience in the White House and Senate outweighed the fact that she had been on what he considered the wrong side in voting to authorize the Iraq war. In office, he would rely on her toughness to execute his diplomatic initiatives — some of which, she argued during the Democratic primaries, would be naïve and ill advised.

The same preference for battle-tested stature was evident in his selection of Tom Daschle to lead the charge for health care reform as health and human services secretary. As the second-ranking Senate Democrat, Mr. Daschle had an up-close look at how President Bill Clinton’s drive for universal coverage fell apart in the early 1990s.

Mr. Obama’s top candidate for attorney general, Eric Holder, lived through the turbulence at the Clinton Justice Department; his leading prospect for budget director, Peter Orszag, now in the Congressional Budget Office, has seen the partisan budget skirmishes of the Clinton and Bush years. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, worked in the Clinton White House to achieve passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement that Mr. Obama, as a candidate, criticized. His choice for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, is seen as a new-generation choice over Larry Summers, Treasury secretary under Mr. Clinton; still, Mr. Geithner worked at Treasury under three presidents, including Mr. Clinton.

But advisers to Mr. Obama say he is not undercutting his vision of change. Instead, they say, he has concluded that those experiences can be marshaled to improve his odds of achieving his own goals.

“He’s not looking for people to give him a vision,” said Mr. Axelrod, who will be a senior White House adviser. “He’s going to put together an administration of people who can effectuate his vision.”

That breezy formulation disregards the received wisdom of Pennsylvania Avenue. For years, Washington insiders have used the phrase “personnel is policy” for the assumption that the prior loyalties and political tastes of a president’s cabinet and White House staff heavily influence what those appointees are eager, or able, to get done.

Because he personally embodies historic change, Mr. Obama has considerable latitude to eschew symbolic gestures in choosing subordinates. But he also has little choice but to lean on the Clinton presidency’s infrastructure.

In winning 7 of 10 presidential elections from 1968 to 2004, Republicans accumulated and continually replenished a cadre of experienced executive branch officials. Even reform-minded Democrats acknowledge the need for such expertise in a government that has grown increasingly complex, and especially in managing America’s role in the global economy of the 21st century. In the last generation, the only Democratic administration aside from Mr. Clinton’s was that of Jimmy Carter, whom some still fault for relying on an inexperienced inner circle from Georgia.

“You have to be either very young or naïve to believe change begins with erasing the slate,” said William Galston, a top Clinton domestic policy aide who remains outside Mr. Obama’s circle. “The world doesn’t work that way. The way to ensure that nothing changes is to place people in positions of authority who are incapable of effecting change — whatever their good intentions may be.”

Mr. Obama, he added, is “placing an extremely high premium on actually getting the job done.”

That doesn’t answer the question of what the job actually is. Using the “personnel is policy” formulation, some Republicans hope that the combination of Clinton veterans and Mr. Obama’s pledge of bipartisan comity foreshadows centrist compromise on national problems that have long appeared intractable.

“The next couple of years are going to go to the pragmatists,” said Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, a former Republican Party chairman. “The problems we are facing are not amenable to ideological solutions.”

In his health care proposal, to take one notable example, Mr. Obama has opened the door to a cross-party conversation by omitting a government mandate for universal coverage. That earned him attacks from Mrs. Clinton and John Edwards during the Democratic primaries, but avoids one ideological poison pill that Republicans would otherwise target.

Yet some Obama advisers and allies caution against projecting outcomes from the president-elect’s style or appointments — which include transition team members with ties to the lobbying industry that Mr. Obama condemned on the campaign trail. Just as a new manager can improve the won-loss record of a baseball team with familiar players, an Obama spokesman, Robert Gibbs, argued, a new chief executive can produce different results on Pennsylvania Avenue.

In that view, Mr. Obama could adopt Clintonites without Clintonism — at least the incremental Clintonism that marked the former president’s second term.

“Barack Obama never offered himself as an ideologue — he’s a pragmatist and a problem solver,” Mr. Axelrod explained. But he added: “We are not living in a time that allows for incrementalism. His goal is to form bipartisan consensus. I don’t think that goal is more important than achieving a result.”

That mindset helps explain the distinction between Mr. Obama’s post-election phase, so far at least, and Mr. Clinton’s after he defeated the first President Bush in 1992.

In response to federal deficits, President-elect Clinton sidetracked plans for a middle-class tax cut and disappointed some liberal supporters. As the journalist John Harris recounts in “The Survivor,” the “bells of hope” that Mr. Clinton’s team called for across the land on the eve of his inauguration drew a sour response from the columnist Mary McGrory: “The bell-ringing seemed a little pretentious to hail great change — when the evidence mounts that there will be precious little.”

Notwithstanding the economic crisis and the unplanned $700 billion federal bailout this fall, Mr. Obama has given no indication yet that he’s scaling back his plans for expanding health coverage, cutting taxes for the middle class and raising them for investors, or investing in alternative energy and infrastructure.

“We are at a moment that is not familiar to Washington, of learning the difference between a transactional president and a transformational one,” said Andy Stern, a labor leader who in recent years helped fracture the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to create a breakaway “Change to Win” union federation. “What Barack Obama has created by this campaign was not only the idea that we can do big things — but we have to do big things.”

To that end, Mr. Obama aims to mobilize his army of donors and volunteers to sustain political pressure and prevent either the administration or the Democratic Congress from faltering. Aides acknowledge the potential for disappointment if backers conclude that Washington’s version of change becomes “Not so fast” or “No, we can’t.”

“There’s certainly going to be consternation about a lot of decisions that he makes, and understandably so,” said Mr. Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Steve Hildebrand, who’s expected to play a role in mobilizing the Obama forces. “They’re not just going to roll over and do whatever Barack Obama tells them.”

At the same time, allies say, Mr. Obama and his new team don’t plan to roll over for conventional notions of what’s possible in Washington — whatever they’ve done in the past.

“It’s not just the left that demands real change — it’s the average middle-class American,” concluded Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who has led the effort to swell the ranks of Senate Democrats in the last two elections. “Rahm Emanuel knows how much change is needed.”

John Harwood is co-author with Gerald F. Seib of “Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles in Backroom Power,” published this year by Random House.


6) Court Backs Warrantless Searches Abroad
November 25, 2008

The authorities may lawfully conduct searches and electronic surveillance against United States citizens in foreign countries without a warrant, a federal appeals court panel said on Monday, bolstering the government’s power to investigate terrorism by ruling that a key constitutional protection afforded to Americans does not apply overseas.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, came in the case of three Al Qaeda terrorists convicted a few months before 9/11 in a conspiracy that involved the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa.

The court did not address the question of whether the government could conduct warrantless wiretaps of international calls involving people in the United States, an issue that drove a wedge between the Bush administration and Congress. But the ruling did give footing to those who say that terrorism suspects can be successfully and effectively prosecuted in civilian courts.

The warrantless searches must still be reasonable, as the Constitution requires, Judge José A. Cabranes wrote for the panel, adding that the government had met that standard in the case of one defendant, Wadih el-Hage, a close aide to Osama bin Laden and a naturalized American citizen who was living in Nairobi, Kenya. The government searched his home and monitored his phone conversations.

“The Fourth Amendment’s requirement of reasonableness — but not the Warrant Clause — applies to extraterritorial searches and seizures of U.S. citizens,” the judge wrote.

Mr. el-Hage and two other defendants had appealed their convictions for conspiring with Mr. bin Laden in a plot to kill Americans around the world.

The conspiracy included the 1998 bombings of the United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which killed 224 people and wounded thousands.

While noting that Mr. el-Hage “suffered, while abroad, a significant invasion of privacy by virtue of the government’s yearlong surveillance of his telephonic communications,” the panel offered a detailed analysis of why the search was reasonable under the Constitution, given the “self-evident need to investigate threats to national security” that foreign terrorist organizations presented.

The panel said the electronic surveillance was justified — and reasonable — for a number of reasons, including that “sustained and intense monitoring” was necessary to understand a “complex, wide-ranging and decentralized” organization like Al Qaeda; and that members of covert terrorist organizations often communicated in code.

“While the intrusion on el-Hage’s privacy was great, the need for the government to so intrude was even greater,” Judge Cabranes wrote.

“This is going to be a very important precedent that intelligence agencies are going to look at, that the new Obama administration is going to look at,” Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, said on Monday. “These issues are critical, and the courts rarely rule on them.”

The panel also made it easier for prosecutors to protect sensitive information in terrorism cases by holding that judges may bar defendants from having access to classified materials that their lawyers may otherwise examine, if there is concern that unauthorized disclosures of information could jeopardize lives or investigations.

The panel declined to declare, as a lower court judge had, that Miranda warnings were required in overseas interrogations of foreign suspects, but it said that a modified version of the warnings, adapted to local circumstances, could be acceptable.

“It is only through the cooperation of local authorities that U.S. agents obtain access to foreign detainees,” Judge Cabranes wrote. “We have no desire to strain that spirit of cooperation by compelling U.S. agents to press foreign governments for the provision of legal rights not recognized by their criminal justice systems.”

Michael J. Garcia, the United States attorney in Manhattan and one of the prosecutors who participated in the embassy case, called the decision “one further measure of justice for the victims of those attacks.”

Defense lawyers said that they were disappointed in the ruling, and would appeal. “We believe these issues are important enough to deserve Supreme Court review,” said Frederick H. Cohn, whose client, Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-’Owhali, was convicted in the Nairobi attack.

Joshua L. Dratel, a lawyer for Mr. el-Hage, said that the appellate decision “would seem to say that the government’s invocation of national security can trump a United States citizen’s constitutional rights across the board.”

The embassy case was the last of the large terrorism trials held in the United States before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Since then, there has been a national debate over whether people accused of terrorism should be treated as criminals and tried in the federal courts, or held as enemy combatants to be tried, if at all, before military tribunals, where defendants have fewer rights and there is less public disclosure.

David D. Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University, said the ruling underscored “that we don’t need a specialized national security court; that we don’t need to depart from the traditional criminal justice system approach for prosecuting terrorists.”

The decision, which was joined by Judges Jon O. Newman and Wilfred Feinberg, was divided into three separate opinions, which totaled 178 pages.

“This criminal case presents issues of great importance, many of which are complex and novel,” Judge Cabranes wrote, observing that the case had been in the courts for a decade.

The panel also praised Judge Leonard B. Sand, who handled the trial, and Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy, who handled later proceedings, for their care, patience and fairness.

The third defendant whose conviction was affirmed was Mohammed Saddiq Odeh. A fourth defendant, Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, did not appeal his conviction. All four men are serving life sentences in the so-called Super Max prison in Florence, Colo.


7) The slow death of Gaza
The collective punishment of Gaza's civilian population is illegal. But international law was tossed aside long ago
By Andrea Becker
November 24, 2008

It has been two weeks since Israel imposed a complete closure of Gaza, after months when its crossings have been open only for the most minimal of humanitarian supplies. Now it is even worse: two weeks without United Nations food trucks for the 80% of the population entirely dependent on food aid, and no medical supplies or drugs for Gaza's ailing hospitals. No fuel (paid for by the EU) for Gaza's electricity plant, and no fuel for the generators during the long blackouts. Last Monday morning, 33 trucks of food for UN distribution were finally let in – a few days of few supplies for very few, but as the UN asks, then what?

Israel's official explanation for blocking even minimal humanitarian aid, according to IDF spokesperson Major Peter Lerner, was "continued rocket fire and security threats at the crossings". Israel's blockade, in force since Hamas seized control of Gaza in mid-2007, can be described as an intensification of policies designed to isolate the population of Gaza, cripple its economy, and incentivise the population against Hamas by harsh – and illegal – measures of collective punishment. However, these actions are not all new: the blockade is but the terminal end of Israel's closure policy, in place since 1991, which in turn builds on Israel's policies as occupier since 1967.

In practice, Israel's blockade means the denial of a broad range of items – food, industrial, educational, medical – deemed "non-essential" for a population largely unable to be self-sufficient at the end of decades of occupation. It means that industrial, cooking and diesel fuel, normally scarce, are virtually absent now. There are no queues at petrol stations; they are simply shut. The lack of fuel in turn means that sewage and treatment stations cannot function properly, resulting in decreased potable water and tens of millions of litres of untreated or partly treated sewage being dumped into the sea every day. Electricity cuts – previously around eight hours a day, now up to 16 hours a day in many areas – affect all homes and hospitals. Those lucky enough to have generators struggle to find the fuel to make them work, or spare parts to repair them when they break from overuse. Even candles are running out.

There can be no dispute that measures of collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza are illegal under international humanitarian law. Fuel and food cannot be withheld or wielded as reward or punishment. But international law was tossed aside long ago. The blockade has been presented as punishment for the democratic election of Hamas, punishment for its subsequent takeover of Gaza, and punishment for militant attacks on Israeli civilians. The civilians of Gaza, from the maths teacher in a United Nations refugee camp to the premature baby in an incubator, properly punished for actions over which they have no control, will rise up and get rid of Hamas. Or so it goes.

And so what of these civilian agents of political change?

For all its complexities and tragedies, the over-arching effect of Israel's blockade has been to reduce the entire population to survival mode. Individuals are reduced to the daily detail of survival, and its exhaustions.

Consider Gaza's hospital staff. In hospitals, the blockade is as seemingly benign as doctors not having paper upon which to write diagnostic results or prescriptions, and as sinister as those seconds – between power cut and generator start – when a child on life support doesn't have the oxygen of a mechanical ventilator. A nurse on a neo-natal ward rushes between patients, battling the random schedule of power cuts. A hospital worker tries to keep a few kidney dialysis machines from breaking down, by farming spare parts from those that already have. The surgeon operates without a bulb in the surgery lamp, across from the anaesthetist who can no longer prevent patient pain. The hospital administrator updates lists of essential drugs and medical supplies that have run out, which vaccines from medical fridges are now unusable because they can't be kept cold, and which procedures must be cancelled altogether. The ambulance driver decides whether to respond to an emergency call, based on dwindling petrol in the tank.

By reducing the population to survival mode, the blockade robs people of the time and essence to do anything but negotiate the minutiae of what is and isn't possible in their personal and professional lives. Whether any flour will be available to make bread, where it might be found, how much it now costs. Rich or poor, taxi drivers, human rights defenders, and teachers alike spend hours speculating about where a canister of cooking gas might be found. Exhaustion is gripping hold of all in Gaza. Survival leaves little if no room for political engagement – and beyond exhaustion, anger and frustration are all that is left. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008


8) Disposable Youth in a Suspect Society: A Challenge for the Obama Administration
By Henry A. Giroux
-t r u t h o u t | Perspective
November 25, 2008

Youth and the crisis of the future
While there is little question that the United States - with its burgeoning police state, its infamous title as the world leader in jailing its own citizens, and its history of foreign and domestic "torture factories" [1] - has moved into lockdown (and lockout) mode both at home and abroad, it is a mistake to assume that the Bush administration is solely responsible for transforming the United States to the degree that it has now become unrecognizable to itself as a democratic nation. Such claims risk reducing the serious social ills now plaguing the United States to the reactionary policies of the Bush regime - a move which allows for complacency in light of the potentially inflated hopes raised by Barack Obama's successful bid for the presidency. What the United States has become in the last decade suggests less of a rupture than an intensification of a number of already existing political, economic, and social forces that since the late 1970s have unleashed the repressive anti-democratic tendencies lurking beneath the damaged heritage of democratic ideals.

What marks the present state of American "democracy" is the uniquely bipolar nature of the degenerative assault on the body politic, which combines elements of unprecedented greed and fanatical capitalism with a new kind of politics more ruthless and savage in its willingness to abandon - even vilify - those individuals and groups now rendered disposable within "new geographies of exclusion and landscapes of wealth" [2] that mark the neoliberal new world order. Nowhere is this assault more evident than in what might be called the "war on youth," a war that not only attempts to erase the democratic legacies of the past, but disavows any commitment to the future.

Any discourse about the future has to begin with the issue of youth because young people embody the projected dreams, desires, and commitment of a society's obligations to the future. In many respects, youth not only register symbolically the importance of modernity's claim to progress; they also affirm the importance of the liberal democratic tradition of the social contract in which adult responsibility is mediated through a willingness to fight for the rights of children, enact reforms that invest in their future, and provide the educational conditions necessary for them to make use of the freedoms they have while learning how to be critical citizens. Within such a modernist project, democracy is linked to the well-being of youth, while the status of how a society imagines democracy and its future is contingent on how it views its responsibility towards future generations. But the category of youth does more than affirm modernity's social contract, rooted in a conception of the future in which adult commitment and intergenerational solidarity are articulated as a vital public service; it also affirms those representations, images, vocabularies, values, and social relations central to a politics capable of both defending vital institutions as a public good and contributing to the quality of public life.

Yet as the twenty-first century unfolds, it is not at all clear that the American public and government believe any longer in youth, the future, or the social contract, even in its minimalist version. Since the 1980s, the prevailing market inspired discourse has argued that there is no such thing as society and, indeed, following that nefarious pronouncement, institutions committed to public welfare, especially for young people, have been disappearing ever since. Those of us who, against the prevailing common sense, believe that the ultimate test of morality resides in what a society does for its children cannot help but acknowledge that if we take this standard seriously, American society has deeply failed its children and its commitment to democracy.

At stake here is not merely how American culture is redefining the meaning of youth, but how it constructs children in relation to a future devoid of the moral and political obligations of citizenship, social responsibility, and democracy. Caught up in an age of increasing despair, uncertainty, and the quagmire of a global financial collapse, youth no longer appear to inspire adults to reaffirm their commitment to a public discourse that envisions a future in which human suffering is diminished while the general welfare of society is increased. Constructed primarily within the language of the market and the increasingly conservative politics of a corporate dominated media culture, contemporary youth appear unable to constitute themselves through a defining generational referent that gives them a sense of distinctiveness and vision, as did the generation of youth in the 1960s. The relations between youth and adults have always been marked by strained generational and ideological struggles, but the new economic and social conditions that youth face today, along with a callous indifference to their spiritual and material needs, suggest a qualitatively different attitude on the part of many adults toward American youth - one that indicates that the young, especially under the Bush administration, have become our lowest national priority. Put bluntly, American society at present exudes both a deep-rooted hostility and chilling indifference toward youth, reinforcing the dismal conditions that young people are increasingly living under.

The hard currency of human suffering that impacts children is evident in some astounding statistics that suggest a profound moral and political contradiction at the heart of our culture: for example, the rate of child poverty is currently at 17.4 percent, boosting the number of poor children to 13 million. In addition, about one in three severely poor people are under age 17. Moreover, children make up 26 percent of the total population but constitute an astounding 39 percent of the poor. Just as alarming as this is the fact that 9.4 million children in America lack health insurance and millions lack affordable child care and decent early childhood education. Sadly, the United States ranks first in billionaires and defense expenditures and yet ranks an appalling twenty-fifth in infant mortality. As we might expect, behind these grave statistics lies a series of decisions that favor economically those already advantaged at the expense of the young. Savage cuts to education, nutritional assistance for impoverished mothers, veterans' medical care, and basic scientific research, are often cynically administered to help fund tax cuts for the already inordinately rich.

This inversion of the government's responsibility to protect public goods from private threats further reveals itself in the privatization of social problems and the vilification of those who fail to thrive in this vastly iniquitous social order. Too many youth within this degraded economic, political, and cultural geography occupy a "dead zone" in which the spectacle of commodification exists alongside the imposing threat of massive debt, bankruptcy, the prison-industrial complex, and the elimination of basic civil liberties. Indeed, we have an entire generation of unskilled and displaced youth who have been expelled from shrinking markets, blue-collar jobs, and the limited political power granted to the middle-class consumer. Rather than investing in the public good and solving social problems, the state now punishes those who are caught in the downward spiral of its economic policies. Punishment, incarceration, and surveillance represent the new face of governance. Consequently, the implied contract between the social state and its citizens has been broken, and social guarantees for youth, as well as civic obligations to the future, have vanished from the public agenda. Within this utterly privatizing market discourse alcoholism, homelessness, poverty, joblessness, and illiteracy are not viewed as social issues, but rather as individual problems - that is, such problems are viewed as the result of a character flaw or a personal failing and in too many cases such problems are criminalized.

Poor black youth are especially disadvantaged. Not only do a mere 42 percent who enter high school actually graduate, but they are increasingly jobless in an economy that does not need their labor. Marked as a surplus and disposable population, "black American males inhabit a universe in which joblessness is frequently the norm [and that] over the past few years, the percentage of black male high school graduates in their 20s who were jobless has ranged from well over a third to roughly 50 percent.... For dropouts, the rates of joblessness are staggering. For black males who left high school without a diploma, the real jobless rate at various times over the past few years has ranged from 59 percent to a breathtaking 72 percent." [3] For many poor youth of color, punishment and fear have replaced compassion and social responsibility as the most important modalities mediating the relationship of youth to the larger social order. For instance, a "Black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime ... A Latino boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 6 chance of going to prison in his lifetime.... [and] although they represent just 39 percent of the US juvenile population, minority youth represent 60 percent of committed youth." [4]

Youth within the last two decades are increasingly represented in the media as a source of trouble rather than as a resource for investing in the future and are increasingly treated as either a disposable population, cannon fodder for barbaric wars abroad, or defined as the source of most of society's problems. As Lawrence Grossberg points out, "It has become common to think of kids as a threat to the existing social order and for kids to be blamed for the problems they experience. We slide from kids in trouble, kids have problems, and kids are threatened, to kids as trouble, kids as problems, and kids as threatening." [5] While youth, particularly those of color, are increasingly associated in the media and by dominant politicians with a rising crime wave, what is really at stake in this discourse is a punishment wave, one that reveals a society that does not know how to address those social problems that undercut any viable sense of agency, possibility, and future for many young people. In spite of the fact that crime continues to decline among youth in the United States, the popular media still represents young people as violent and threatening. When youth are addressed in a more complex term they are either viewed merely as commodities, markets, or simply self-indulgent and irresponsible. Then again, in a society in which politicians and the marketplace can imagine youth only as either consumers, objects, or billboards to sell sexuality, beauty products, music, athletic gear, clothes, and a host of other products, it is not surprising that young people can be so easily misrepresented.

Both the problems that young people face and the sites they inhabit are increasingly criminalized. Under the reign of ruthless neoliberal politics with its hyped up social Darwinism and theatre of cruelty, the popular demonization of the young now justifies responses to youth that were unthinkable 20 years ago, including criminalization and imprisonment, the prescription of psychotropic drugs, psychiatric confinement, and zero tolerance policies that model schools after prisons. School has become a model for a punishing society in which children who violate a rule as minor as a dress code infraction or slightly act out in class can be handcuffed, booked, and put in a jail cell. Such was the case in Florida when the police handcuffed and arrested 6-year-old Desre Watson, who was taken from her kindergarten school to the Highlander County jail where she was fingerprinted, photographed for a mug shot, and charged with a felony and two misdemeanors. Her crime? The six-year old had thrown a tantrum in her kindergarten class. [6] Couple this type of domestic terrorism with the fact that the United States is the only country that voted against a recent United Nations resolution calling for the abolition of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for children under the age of 16. [7] Moreover, it is currently the only nation that locks up child offenders for life. A report issued in 2007 by the Equal Justice Initiative claims that "there are 73 Americans serving [life] sentences for crimes they committed at 13 or 14." [8]

The Bush administration not only waged a war against youth, especially poor youth of color, it also offered no apologies because it was too arrogant and ruthless to imagine any resistance. For many young people, the future looks bleak, filled with the promise of low-paying, low-skilled jobs, the collapse of the welfare state, and, if you are a person of color and poor, the threat of either unemployment or incarceration. Youth have disappeared from the concerns of many adults, and certainly from the policies that have been hatched in Washington during the last twenty years. In his acceptance speech, President-elect Obama raised the issue of what kind of country young people would inherit if they lived to see the next century. The question provides an opening for taking the Obama administration seriously with regard to its commitment to young people. Young people need access to decent schools with more teachers; they need universal health care; they need food, decent housing, job training programs, and guaranteed employment. In other words, we need social movements that take seriously the challenge of dismantling the punishing state and reviving the social state so as to be able to provide young people not with incarceration and contempt, but with dignity and those economic, political, and social conditions that ensure they have a decent future. Surely, this is an issue that the Obama administration should be pushed to recognize and address. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great Protestant theologian, believed that the ultimate test of morality resided in what a society did for its children. If we take this standard seriously, American society has deeply failed its children and its commitment to democracy. The politics and culture of neoliberalism rest on the denial both of youth as a marker of the future and of the social responsibility entailed by an acceptance of this principle. In other words, the current crisis of American democracy can be measured in part by the fact that too many young people are poor, lack decent housing and health care, and attend decrepit schools filled with overworked and underpaid teachers. These youth, by all standards, deserve more in a country that historically prided itself on its level of democracy, liberty, and alleged equality for all citizens. We live in a historic moment of both crisis and possibility, one that presents educators, parents, artists, and others with the opportunity to take up the challenge of re-imagining civic engagement and social transformation, but these activities only have a chance of succeeding if we also defend and create those social, economic, and cultural conditions that enable the current generation of young people to nurture thoughtfulness, critical agency, compassion, and democracy itself.

* * *


[1] I have taken the term "torture factories" from Angela Y. Davis, "Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture" (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005), p. 50. The United States has 2,319,258 people in jail or prison at the start of 2008 - one out of every hundred and more than any other nation. See The Associated Press, "A First: 1 in 100 Americans Jailed," (February 28, 2008). Online:

[2] Mike Davis and Daniel Bertrand Monk, "Introduction," in Mike Davis and Daniel Bertrand Monk. eds. "Evil Paradises" (New York: The New Press, 2007), p. ix.

[3] Bob Herbert, "The Danger Zone," New York Times (March 15, 2007), p. A25.

[4] These figures are taken from Summary Report, "America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline," Children's Defense Fund. online at:

[5] Lawrence Grossberg, "Caught in the Crossfire" (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2005), p. 16.

[6] "Kindergarten Girl Handcuffed, Arrested at Florida School," (March 30, 2007). Online:

[7] Adam Liptak, "Lifers as Teenagers, Now Seeking a Second Chance," The New York Times (October 17, 2007), p. A1.

[8] Adam Liptak, "Lifers as Teenagers, Now Seeking a Second Chance," The New York Times (October 17, 2007), p. A1.

Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. His most recent books include: Take Back Higher Education (co-authored with Susan Searls Giroux, 2006), The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex (2007), and Against the Terror of Neoliberalism: Politics Beyond the Age of Greed (2008).


9) Holiday Shopping at a Subdued Pace
November 29, 2008

Nikki Nicely, 19, wanted a television — a 40-inch Samsung flat-screen, to be exact, on sale for $798, marked down from $1,000, and available for a limited time in the wee hours of Friday morning at the Wal-Mart store in Columbus, Ohio.

So, at 4:40 a.m., when a fellow shopper tried to pry away the box she had been guarding for an hour, Ms. Nicely did not play nice. She jumped onto the man’s back and began to pound his shoulders, screaming, “That’s my TV! That’s my TV!”

A police officer and security guard intervened but not before Ms. Nicely took an elbow in the face. Still, when the dust settled, she had her hand on the box. “That’s right,” she cried as the man walked away. “This here is my TV!”

Welcome to Black Friday.

A quintessentially American ritual of self-sacrifice at the altar of consumerism, the Friday after Thanksgiving marks a day of 5 a.m. openings, 50 percent discounts and the occasionally lurid spectacle of shopping as competitive sport. It is also, historically, the day that many major retail outlets became profitable for the year. But caught by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the nation’s retailers are facing weak sales, reluctant customers and the prospect of the worst holiday shopping season in decades.

In Long Island early Friday, the malaise turned deadly. A 34-year-old Wal-Mart employee was killed, the police said, after being knocked down and trampled by a wave of shoppers who broke down the doors of the store at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y. Several other shoppers were hurt, including a 28-year-old pregnant woman who was taken to the hospital, police said, after the stampede occurred just after 5 a.m.

“The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority,” Wal-Mart said in a statement, which identified the man as a temporary worker. “At this point, facts are still being assembled, and we are working closely with the Nassau County police as they investigate what occurred.”

Other retail outlets across the country reported that the crowds were more mellow than usual, with more room to move in the aisles and fewer shoppers lined up outside before dawn.

“I’ve been doing this for 17 years; this year, it feels smaller,” said Tracey Darwish, 37, who was waiting in line at the Wal-Mart in Columbus to buy Madden ’09, the football video game for PlayStation 2, for $39, marked down from $59.

“Here we are, standing right in front of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games,” she said. These are the hottest toys this year, and look, I have room to move my arms. Nobody’s crushing me. I have room to move. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.”

November and December sales usually make up 25 to 40 percent of annual sales, according to industry groups. But so far this month, sales are down by double-digits for clothing, luxury goods, electronics and appliances. A survey by the National Retail Federation survey said that 128 million Americans planned to shop this weekend, compared with about 135 million last year. Shoppers seeking bargains on Friday morning said they were aware of the leaner turnout.

Ms. Darwish said that in the past she would “spend thousands of dollars on Black Friday” — even withdrawing money from her retirement account. But after losing her job as a medical assistant in August, her routine has changed. “My son told me this year all he wanted was Madden ’09,” she said. “Other than that, ‘Save your money mom,’ he told me.”

At the same store, Charisma Booker, 31, stood with a pair of flat-screen televisions, one for each brother, and her reward after arriving at the store at 2:30 a.m. The store itself is open 24 hours, but sale items could not be purchased until 5 a.m.

“This year feels different,” said Ms. Booker, a 10-year veteran of the early morning Black Friday rush. “There were a lot more people here last year. You could hardly move in this aisle. There are fewer people here this year, but they’re more aggressive. I’ve never seen anybody fight like this. This is crazy.”

At some stores, smaller items appeared to be more popular, reflecting the tough times many shoppers find themselves in. At a Best Buy in Beaverton, Ore., a bin of $4.99 DVDs was virtually empty after a crowd of about 200 rushed in at 5 a.m. Mike Papp, a manager, said bargain bins were moving faster than flat-screen televisions, which were last year’s big seller.

Some customers decided that they could resist the urge to buy entirely — not a trend that brings a smile to a retailers’ face.

“I’ve been doing this for four years; this time, I said, there isn’t anything I really need,” said Susan Koslovsky of Miami, who was shopping at the Manhattan flagship store of Saks Fifth Avenue. “Tonight, I’ll go to sleep and say, ‘that was good.’ Every year I come here and buy two pocket books, but this year there aren’t any good ones.”

Randye Abrams, riding an escalator at Saks, complained that the selections had “all been picked over.”

“They put everything on sale before the holiday so it’s nothing different,” said Ms. Abrams, who was visiting Manhattan from Los Angeles.

In Niles, Ill., Wal-Mart shoppers said that the bleak economy had cast a shadow on their holiday shopping, prompting them to look for bargains and cut back on spending. But Michael Owolagi, 23, of Chicago, said the hard times have had the opposite effect on his consumer habits.

“The fact that the economy is down has actually led me to spend a little more this holiday season, because there are so many good sales out there today,” said Mr. Owolagi, a nurse, who spent more than $1,000 at three retailers by 8:30 a.m. Armed with fliers from Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart, Mr. Owolagi bought two televisions, two cameras, two printers and a GPS system. Back in New York, Rosemary O’Brien, 55, of Newport, R.I., glanced over the selection of silver-wrapped electronic corkscrews at Bloomingdale’s, retailing for $39.99. She said that she was trying to cut back after her business, Freedom Yachts, recently closed.

“I am paying a lot with credit cards, and I’m hoping the banks go out of business and I won’t have to pay them back,” Ms. O’Brien said.

Ken Hicks, president and chief merchandising officer for J. C. Penney, said the day “probably will not be as big as it has been recently, but it’s still going to be a huge day.”

But the only real winners this season may be bargain-hunters with money to spend.

For weeks, name-brand department stores have been trying to outdo one another to capture the attention of consumers who have become numb to run-of-the-mill discounts. With more deals on the way after Friday, shoppers can get impressive savings without necessarily having to brave the crowds or the cold on the day after Thanksgiving.

“There’s no reason to suspect this will end,” said Dan de Grandpre, editor in chief of, which has been tracking Black Friday deals for about a decade. “This kind of heavy discounting will continue until we see some retailers start to fail, until they start to go out of business.”

Karen Ann Cullotta, Jack Healy, Chris Maag, Claire Cain Miller, Liz Robbins and Stephanie Rosenbloom contributed reporting.


10) Lest We Forget
Op-Ed Columnist
November 28, 2008

A few months ago I found myself at a meeting of economists and finance officials, discussing — what else? — the crisis. There was a lot of soul-searching going on. One senior policy maker asked, “Why didn’t we see this coming?”

There was, of course, only one thing to say in reply, so I said it: “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?”

Seriously, though, the official had a point. Some people say that the current crisis is unprecedented, but the truth is that there were plenty of precedents, some of them of very recent vintage. Yet these precedents were ignored. And the story of how “we” failed to see this coming has a clear policy implication — namely, that financial market reform should be pressed quickly, that it shouldn’t wait until the crisis is resolved.

About those precedents: Why did so many observers dismiss the obvious signs of a housing bubble, even though the 1990s dot-com bubble was fresh in our memories?

Why did so many people insist that our financial system was “resilient,” as Alan Greenspan put it, when in 1998 the collapse of a single hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management, temporarily paralyzed credit markets around the world?

Why did almost everyone believe in the omnipotence of the Federal Reserve when its counterpart, the Bank of Japan, spent a decade trying and failing to jump-start a stalled economy?

One answer to these questions is that nobody likes a party pooper. While the housing bubble was still inflating, lenders were making lots of money issuing mortgages to anyone who walked in the door; investment banks were making even more money repackaging those mortgages into shiny new securities; and money managers who booked big paper profits by buying those securities with borrowed funds looked like geniuses, and were paid accordingly. Who wanted to hear from dismal economists warning that the whole thing was, in effect, a giant Ponzi scheme?

There’s also another reason the economic policy establishment failed to see the current crisis coming. The crises of the 1990s and the early years of this decade should have been seen as dire omens, as intimations of still worse troubles to come. But everyone was too busy celebrating our success in getting through those crises to notice.

Consider, in particular, what happened after the crisis of 1997-98. This crisis showed that the modern financial system, with its deregulated markets, highly leveraged players and global capital flows, was becoming dangerously fragile. But when the crisis abated, the order of the day was triumphalism, not soul-searching.

Time magazine famously named Mr. Greenspan, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers “The Committee to Save the World” — the “Three Marketeers” who “prevented a global meltdown.” In effect, everyone declared a victory party over our pullback from the brink, while forgetting to ask how we got so close to the brink in the first place.

In fact, both the crisis of 1997-98 and the bursting of the dot-com bubble probably had the perverse effect of making both investors and public officials more, not less, complacent. Because neither crisis quite lived up to our worst fears, because neither brought about another Great Depression, investors came to believe that Mr. Greenspan had the magical power to solve all problems — and so, one suspects, did Mr. Greenspan himself, who opposed all proposals for prudential regulation of the financial system.

Now we’re in the midst of another crisis, the worst since the 1930s. For the moment, all eyes are on the immediate response to that crisis. Will the Fed’s ever more aggressive efforts to unfreeze the credit markets finally start getting somewhere? Will the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus turn output and employment around? (I’m still not sure, by the way, whether the economic team is thinking big enough.)

And because we’re all so worried about the current crisis, it’s hard to focus on the longer-term issues — on reining in our out-of-control financial system, so as to prevent or at least limit the next crisis. Yet the experience of the last decade suggests that we should be worrying about financial reform, above all regulating the “shadow banking system” at the heart of the current mess, sooner rather than later.

For once the economy is on the road to recovery, the wheeler-dealers will be making easy money again — and will lobby hard against anyone who tries to limit their bottom lines. Moreover, the success of recovery efforts will come to seem preordained, even though it wasn’t, and the urgency of action will be lost.

So here’s my plea: even though the incoming administration’s agenda is already very full, it should not put off financial reform. The time to start preventing the next crisis is now.


11) About Latin America
November 28, 2008

The Bush administration is leaving behind so much turmoil and resentment around the world that President-elect Barack Obama might be tempted to put off dealing with the nation’s extremely sour relations with Latin America.

That would be shortsighted. There is a unique opportunity to improve ties with a region that shares key interests and values with the United States. And given how bad relations are right now, it will not take much more than good sense and sensitivity to make progress.

For starters, the Obama administration could gain a lot of good will by supporting more aid, mostly from the International Monetary Fund, for Latin American countries sideswiped by the financial meltdown.

More than anything, Latin American leaders want to know that Washington is ready to talk seriously — rather than just lecture — on important topics, including drug trafficking, energy policy, economic integration and immigration.

With Fidel Castro nearly gone, Washington should be testing the intentions of the new Cuban leadership. We believe lifting the economic embargo is the best way to do that. It has given Mr. Castro and his cronies a never-ending excuse for their failures and misdeeds.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama unfortunately agreed with the incorrect (but politically convenient) proposition that the embargo gives the United States leverage. Fortunately, he also said he would start the process of re-engaging Havana — and opening Cuba to the winds of change — by lifting restrictions on travel and remittances to the island. He should do so quickly.

Declining oil prices, and the declining stature of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, will also make Mr. Obama’s task easier.

We have no patience for Mr. Chávez’s corrupt and autocratic ways. But the Bush administration did enormous damage to American credibility throughout much of the region when it blessed what turned out to be a failed coup against Mr. Chávez.

The Venezuelan leader has played anti-American sentiments for all they are worth. And he has spent a chunk of his country’s abundant oil riches to prop up the Castro brothers and finance a wider anti-American bloc. He no longer has as much cash to spread around. And his own citizens have lost patience with his failed revolution.

Mr. Chávez’s decline also poses some new challenges. The finances of Cuba as well as Argentina, Nicaragua or Honduras could deteriorate rapidly if Venezuela decides to cut back its deliveries of cheap oil and billions in aid. Washington must be prepared to help, either with its own aid or by rallying support from international lenders.

There will be difficult pills to swallow. For the sake of American business and American credibility, Congress must pass the trade agreement with Colombia.

Other steps should come easier. Washington should open a regional dialogue about the illegal drug trade and prove that it can do its share by clamping down on the southward flow of weapons and reducing demand for drugs at home. On energy, eliminating the tariff on ethanol imports would help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and greatly improve relations with Brazil.

This country must move forward with immigration reform. It must also begin regular discussions on migration issues with the countries sending those migrants. That would do much to improve relations and find solutions to key problems like human rights abuses against immigrants.

If there is still a question about the need for a new policy for the region, consider these facts: Latin America provides a third of the nation’s oil imports, most of its immigrants and virtually all of its cocaine. And, oh yes, it’s right next door.


12) Copper’s Every Dip Is Felt in Arizona
November 28, 2008

MORENCI, Ariz. — For this isolated mining town, which lives and dies by the price of copper, the last few years have been a roller coaster ride of steep climbs and sudden dips. Over all, however, the direction seemed to be up.

Copper’s dizzying climb began in 2003, when prices surged in response to booming demand from China and other fast-industrializing economies. The price spike spurred a major revival of Arizona’s once-battered mining industry, and towns like Morenci, once devastated by layoffs, returned to flush times.

This past summer, even as the dire housing market contributed to widespread job losses and other economic woes in Arizona, copper prices reached a record, drawing thousands of new workers to the mines, where jobs were plentiful.

But the arrival of the credit crisis this fall has stalled the mining boom. Reeling financial markets stripped copper of 60 percent of its value in only a few months, and expansion projects in Arizona, the nation’s leading copper-producing state, are being postponed.

A sense of anxiety permeates Morenci, where almost everyone follows copper’s daily rise and fall on financial cable shows and the Internet. “Everybody is just wondering day-to-day what is going to happen,” said Hector Ruedas, a Greenlee County supervisor and member of the Morenci school board who once worked in the mines.

The speed and the depth of the price plunge has taken even longtime industry observers by surprise. “The end has come just incredibly abruptly,” said Nyal Niemuth, chief mining engineer for the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources. “There weren’t many of us predicting this collapse.”

In late October, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, the copper industry’s largest employer in Arizona, announced plans to lay off 600 mine workers in the state. Those layoffs came in addition to hundreds of independent contactors already let go by the company.

“Most of those employees were recently hired, many in anticipation of expansions, which have been deferred,” Eric Kinneberg, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail message.

Demand for copper — a key material in construction and manufacturing — has long been a proxy for the overall health of the world economy. After a steep slide this autumn, prices stabilized in recent days. Another fall could signal that a more prolonged global recession is on the way.

At today’s price of about $1.67 a pound, copper remains marginally profitable to produce at many Arizona mines, giving some mining communities hope they may avoid broader layoffs.

“Right now we’re taking a deep breath and hoping that everything’s going to be O.K.,” said Mayor Fernando Shipley, of Globe, Ariz., home of several mines and one of the country’s last operating smelters.

A collapse in copper production — and a return to the mass layoffs and mine closings of the past — would be a major reversal for Arizona’s copper industry, which has only just recovered from one of its worst slumps in decades.

That era of relentless downsizing, driven by a sustained period of copper prices lower than at any point since the 1930s, reversed course sharply in late 2003, as prices surged in response to turbocharged demand from China.

The mining industry responded by increasing employment and initiating a wave of exploration and new development not seen in a generation. For long-depressed mining towns like Morenci, the thousands of added jobs meant new life.

The Morenci mine — owned by Freeport-McMoRan, which acquired the mine in its merger with the Phelps Dodge Corporation last year — doubled its work force over the last five years, to 4,000 employees. Production at the mine has risen 55 percent since 2003, to an average of one million tons of ore a day.

Earlier this fall, despite the gathering economic storm, an almost frenetic energy pulsed through Morenci, a remote hamlet tucked in a valley in southeast Arizona, evidence of the intense effort that has been required to bolster the mine’s production.

Business was brisk at the town’s two diners and one supermarket. Hundreds of new homes, many still under construction, lined steep hillsides dotted with sagebrush and creosote. And day and night, mud-streaked pickups and tanker trucks loaded with sulfuric acid and diesel rumbled continuously along the two-lane highway that cuts through the center of town.

Despite the new construction, the town’s limited housing stock — all still company-owned — has been overwhelmed, leading Freeport to haul in several dozen corrugated steel trailers to fill the gap. The trailers, assembled in an expansive gravel lot, form a makeshift community the miners call Man Camp.

There, $20 a day secures a tiny room, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner in a company mess hall.

“Three hots and a cot,” said Ed Morin, a miner who lived at the camp for almost a year before leaving earlier this month because of family obligations. “It’s not a bad deal.”

Earning about $28 an hour, Mr. Morin saved more than $60,000 in less than a year by working hundreds of hours of overtime; his work ethic was motivated in part by the experiences of his father and grandfather, both miners who lived through copper crashes.

“When copper’s big, you hit it hard and save up for a rainy day, when they lay you off,” Mr. Morin said. “It’s the mining game. My daddy played it for years.”

With the sharp fall in copper prices, the atmosphere in Morenci has shifted sharply since this summer, Mr. Ruedas said.

“The mood is not good,” he said. “You go downtown and there aren’t smiling faces anymore.”

The surge in exploration and development extended across the West, from Alaska to New Mexico. But the epicenter of the boom was Arizona, the source of 62 percent of United States copper and about 5 percent of world supply.

Alongside Chile, the state continues to rank as one of the two richest copper provinces in the world. It is dotted with rich, near-surface copper deposits, a remnant of long-dead volcanoes.

Over the last five years, the world’s largest mining interests — BHP Billiton, Freeport-McMoRan, Rio Tinto and Sumitomo — poured more than a billion dollars into reopening shuttered operations and expanding production at existing mines in the state.

For the first time in more than 30 years, they also opened new mines, bringing a promise of prosperity to struggling rural areas, along with challenges.

Among the first to be touched by the expansion was Safford, Ariz., a small agricultural community about 150 miles southeast of Phoenix, where Freeport-McMoRan recently opened a $550 million open-pit copper mine.

When work on the mine began in July 2006, 1,500 construction workers flooded into the Safford Valley with money to burn, fueling a gold-rush mentality.

“We had been a sleepy little rural community for a long, long time and all of a sudden, when the rest of the world’s economy was going in the tank, ours was just exploding,” said James A. Palmer, chairman of the Graham County board of supervisors. “There were lines to get into restaurants, there were help-wanted signs everywhere. If you had a pulse, you could get a job.”

After decades of stagnant growth, the city’s sales tax revenue doubled in three years. New roads are being paved, and the regional hospital is building a new cancer wing. Main Street, once full of empty storefronts with boarded-up windows, is nearing 95 percent occupancy.

Not all, however, were pleased by the arrival of the mine.

Bud Smith, 84, is a cotton farmer whose grandfather settled in the Safford Valley well over a hundred years ago, after traveling there from Utah in a covered wagon. He said he disliked the noise of the mine and the heavy traffic it has brought to the area.

“Now, you pull out on the road and it’s just a solid string of cars, coming and going at shift change,” said Mr. Smith, sipping a cup of coffee in El Coronado, a cafe on Main Street. “I don’t care for it, but that’s progress, I guess.”

Mixed emotions can also be found in Miami, Ariz., where the boom brought back mining jobs many thought were lost for good. According to Mayor Chuy Canizales, the area’s mines recently announced a hiring freeze and suspended major new mining projects indefinitely. Layoffs may soon follow.

“We’re just barely hanging on,” said Mr. Canizales, a 35-year employee of Freeport-McMoRan. “But we’ve survived worse in the past, and I think we’ll pull through.”

For old-timers, the price swings of recent months evoke searing memories of strikes and layoffs, buyouts and bankruptcies — and the hard times that invariably follow a copper crash.

They are also a reminder that the towns and the mines share a common destiny.

“It goes up and down, the copper industry,” said Richard Perez, 68, a retired miner who runs a diner in town. “Being with the copper mines is like being with a wife for 25 years. You argue and you fight sometimes, but when it’s over and done with, you’re happy to have them around.”


13) Adding to the City’s Coffers, One Ticket at a Time
November 28, 2008

The most-ticketed block in New York City is 14th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

The number of parking tickets issued citywide has surged 42 percent since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office.

The day after Thanksgiving was the most-ticketed day of the last fiscal year.

And, no, Virginia, there is no five-minute grace period.

These facts are among the findings of an analysis by The New York Times of how the city enforces its parking laws. While the city has worked to explain the tactics it uses to curtail crime, its strategy in issuing parking summonses remains a poorly understood area of law enforcement and one that, even when done fairly [Right here is the most basic of deceptions. A $50.00 ticket to someone making $100,000.00 per year is a very different thing to someone making only $20,000.00 per year. So, NO, it’s not “fair”], makes people cringe.

But through interviews with experts and a review of nearly 10 million parking tickets issued last year, a portrait emerges of how the city, increasingly starved for revenue, has energetically raised money and moved traffic by increasing the number and cost of tickets it issues each year.

Since Mr. Bloomberg took office, the city has hired 793 more traffic enforcement agents and doubled some penalties, collecting 64 percent more in fines in fiscal year 2008 than it did in 2002. During the last fiscal year, it collected more than $624 million in parking fines — more than the city spends to run the Department of Transportation.

City officials say their parking enforcement is not driven by revenue goals. But City Councilman Vincent J. Gentile said his district in southwest Brooklyn has been so overrun by traffic agents that it is hard to conclude otherwise.

“It’s a growing recognition that the city is using parking enforcement as a means of revenue generation, not as a means of traffic management or safety management,” he said.

The data show that the day after Thanksgiving has become a special time for more than retailers. On Nov. 23, 2007, enforcement agents papered the city with more than 41,000 citations, almost double the daily average.

Part of the increase is explained by ramped-up enforcement associated with the need to keep traffic moving during the holiday season. But it is also a day when drivers forget that parking regulations remain in force. Half of the tickets written that day last year were for failing to move cars in accordance with alternate side of the street rules.

“A lot of people think it’s a holiday,” said Andre T. Strothers, a former agent who set a record that day last year when he issued 227 tickets in a five-hour streak across Brooklyn. “They stay up late the night before.”

The surge of ticket writing has swept away some of the civilities of life in New York, like the five-minute grace period that was once part of the city’s official enforcement policy. Police officials say there is no longer a grace period, just a suggestion to agents that they use common sense, but many motorists still believe one exists. At least 276,000 drivers found out sorrowfully last year that the tradition is dwindling; they were ticketed for violating alternate-side parking rules within five minutes of the time the rule went into effect.

In fact, a full 10 percent of the tickets for alternate-side parking violations were issued within two minutes of the time that the rule went into effect. Of those, some 28,000, or 2 percent of the total, were issued exactly on the hour.

“I walked out at 11 o’clock on the dot one night, and my car was already being ticketed and towed,” said Gus Markatos, who manages the Donut Pub on West 14th Street. “There’s no courtesy anymore.”

Traffic agents may be emboldened in part by the precision of their equipment. The city has furnished all traffic enforcement agents with handheld computers that spit out more tickets in less time and with fewer errors than handwritten tickets.

The device scans a vehicle’s registration sticker for some information and the agent, using a stylus, fills in the rest.

Police officials say that the time on the instruments is synchronized with the atomic clock when they are plugged into a docking station at the end of the day. But a television reporter for Fox 5 News, John Deutzman, was able to establish, on one day this year, that some of the devices were more than two minutes fast. And Sanford F. Young, a lawyer, successfully fought a ticket by questioning that level of accuracy.

“I parked a car on First Avenue at 7:02 p.m.,” Mr. Young recalled. “I knew that from my cellphone. I was going to dinner at Petaluma. When I got back, the ticket was on my windshield, and it was for 6:59 p.m. They claimed I parked somewhere between one second and 59 seconds too soon. Come on — give me a break!”

The judge in the case sided with Mr. Young, and the ticket was dismissed.

Police officials said the time on the ticketing devices is now coordinated with more than one source.

The city says the vigor of its ticketing corps has not been a result of requiring agents to fill quotas. That word is never even whispered, agents say, and officials say that productivity is measured not by the number of tickets written, but by “individual job performance.”

Ross Sandler, who was commissioner of transportation from 1986 to 1990, said, “What we always said was we never had a quota, but we always had a goal.”

To achieve those goals, the parking czars within the Transportation Division of the Police Department have adopted several strategies.

Deputy Inspector Michael W. Pilecki, who oversees the 2,529 traffic agents, about half of whom write tickets, says the core mission is not revenue, but keeping traffic moving and reducing the number and severity of accidents.

“What we ask our agents to do when they’re out in the field is to be particularly aware of those types of violations that really impede the flow of traffic and increase the likelihood of accidents,” he said. “We want them to focus on things such as double parking. Vehicles parked in bus stops. No standing. Obstructing a traffic lane. Obstructing a bus lane. Those are the biggies.”

Though more than 30 different agencies can issue parking tickets, about 80 percent are written by traffic agents, who work out of 12 traffic commands across the city. Five are in Manhattan, where most tickets are written.

Traffic agents patrol congested areas on foot, covering about 10 to 15 blocks a day. Less busy areas are patrolled by car. And agents are deployed primarily from early morning to midevening, with a small crew working overnight.

“We call them the nighthawks,” Mr. Pilecki said. “They address conditions around bars and clubs and dance clubs and things of that nature.”

The most prevalent reasons for tickets were expired meters and alternate-side violations, which together accounted for nearly a third of all parking summonses last year.

The agents get their marching orders at roll call, when they are dispatched according to a monthly patrol guide with input from supervisors who canvass the city daily. Additional instructions come from weekly TrafficStat meetings, which are modeled after CompStat, the data-tracking program the city uses to fight crime. Michael J. Scagnelli, the Police Department’s chief of transportation, leads the meetings.

“Chief Scagnelli will say, ‘Let’s not forget why we’re all here: We’re here to move traffic, move traffic, move traffic, reduce injuries, move traffic, move traffic, move traffic, reduce accidents, move traffic, move traffic, move traffic, reduce fatalities, move traffic, move traffic, move traffic,’ ” Mr. Pilecki said.

With these mechanisms, combined with community complaints, Mr. Pilecki and his commanders adjust postings as parking problems are corrected or as new hot spots emerge.

One focal area for enforcement last year was 14th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, which was the most-ticketed block in the city. It is one of the places in the city where parking is forbidden after 11 p.m.

City officials say the rules are set to discourage clubgoers drawn to an area’s night spots, and many nights on 14th Street, the tow trucks show up with precision. Tow truck drivers call it “disco towing.”

“They sit right there and wait for people to park,” said Carlos Martinez, a bouncer at Honey, a restaurant and bar on 14th Street, pointing to a truck. “Once people park, they just tow their car.”

Nothing about such a process makes the traffic enforcement agent a particularly popular figure, and agents are increasingly the targets of verbal and physical attacks.

“Every day, you go out there naked — without a gun — in the back of your mind is, ‘Is this my day?’ ” said Robert Cassar, the former president of Local 1182 of the Communications Workers of America, which represents most agents.

Critics of the city’s enforcement policies say that some agents, under pressure to produce numbers, write bogus summonses by, for example, “dumping” them repeatedly on abandoned cars. City officials say such instances are isolated. But the data do present some curious situations, like the 267 tickets, all unpaid, issued to a 1989 Nissan that was parked near the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the past 17 months. Most of the tickets were issued by a police officer, although several traffic agents had also left summonses on the car. The fines now total $32,964.

City marshals and sheriffs are authorized to tow cars with at least $350 in delinquent parking tickets. But this car was tagged repeatedly for the same three or four violations, even after it had two flat tires and no visible license plate and was parked about two blocks from the Brooklyn Tow Pound.

After The Times began asking about the car, it was towed away by the police.

The city’s aggressiveness in ticketing has not gone unnoticed in neighborhoods like Riverdale, in the Bronx, where a dozen residents claim a traffic agent issued them phony double-parking tickets. Some said they were out of the country at the time the tickets were written. James Huntley, the current president of Local 1182, defended the agent and said she remained on duty. The police would not comment.

Councilman Gentile held his own forum in Bensonhurst several weeks ago to air complaints from residents of his district.

“We have traffic agents who get bused in by van each and every day to these communities,” he said. “They’re deployed like an army regiment.”

Police officials said that vans are routinely used to transport agents, and a police captain who attended the meeting defended the ticketing.

But Ron Galluccio, a retired Navy veteran who walks with a cane, told the gathering that the agents had overreacted. He got one ticket, he said, while dropping off his wife in a bus zone. Another summons was for parking in a spot that he said should have been permitted because he has a handicapped license plate. And a third occurred last winter when he double-parked during a snowstorm because another vehicle was blocking his driveway.

“I said, ‘Look, I can’t get in my own driveway,’ ” Mr. Galluccio said at the meeting. “I said, ‘I don’t deserve a summons.’ ”

His argument had no effect, he said. “I had to pay the ticket.”

Joel Stonington contributed reporting and Carolyn Wilder contributed research.




Afghanistan: Gates Seeks More Troops
World Briefing | Asia
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Friday that he would like to add significant United States forces to the war in Afghanistan before national elections scheduled for next year. Mr. Gates, left, who was meeting in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, with the defense ministers of eight countries that have forces in southern Afghanistan, said the additional forces would give the elections greater security. He said secure, successful elections were probably the most important goal for Afghanistan next year, and he predicted that security conditions would “be under enough control to allow the elections to take place.”
November 22, 2008

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