Tuesday, November 24, 2009



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




PROTEST! When Obama Announces Afghanistan Escalation
The World Can't Wait
Stop the Crimes of Your Government

Emergency Response Plan for the SF Bay Area:
World Can't Wait is joining with other anti-war forces including the local chapters of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, Code Pink and others [list in formation] to mobilize
On the SAME WEEKDAY** that Obama announces the escalation:
5:00 PM at Fifth & Market (Powell St. BART): San Francisco street protest including die-ins
In the East Bay, feeder rallies and a BART march:
3:30 PM Rally: Marines Recruiting Station, 64 Shattuck Square, Berkeley
4:00 PM Rally: downtown Berkeley BART station then march by BART to arrive 5:00 PM at Fifth & Market in SF
** NOTE: If the news breaks on a weekend, these protests will happen the following MONDAY
The day of the announcement, the World Can't Wait SF office [(415) 864-5153] will have a recorded message confirming the protest times and locations.
Send us info on other campus and community protests that we can also publicize.
(415) 864-5153
World Can't Wait SF
2940-16th St., Rm. 200-6
San Francisco CA 94103

Bay Area United Against War endorses this emergency action.


Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz Island

November 26th 2009
Fisherman's Wharf, Pier #33, San Francisco, California
Box office opens at 4:30 AM, boats depart 4:45 AM - 6:00 AM.
Tickets $14, under 5 free. Purchase advance tickets at
www.alcatrazcruises.com or call (415) 981-7625.

Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz
and Giving Thanks to the Creator for our Continued Resistance and Survival.

Honoring the original Alcatraz Veterans, with IITC Board members Lenny Foster (Dineh,
Alcatraz Veteran), Bill Means (Oglala Lakota), and Radley Davis (Pit River); IITC Executive Director Andrea Carmen (Yaqui), Anne Mari Sayers (Ohlone), Madonna Thunderhawk (Oglala Lakota), All Nations Drummers, Aztec and Pomo Dancers, Claude McKenzie (Innu)& and other special guests. MC: Lakota Harden (Minnecoujou/Yankton Lakota & HoChunk).

This event will be broadcast live on 94.1 FM KPFA (and KPFA.org) from 6-8 AM hosted by
Miguel Molina, Mary Jean Robinson and Morning Star Gali.

No sales of food or other items permitted on the island or on the Alcatraz or San
Francisco boat docks.

Sponsored by the International Indian Treaty Council
and American Indian Contemporary Arts.

For more information contact: Morning Star Gali,
morningstar@treatycouncil.org, (415) 641-4482.




San Francisco, CA

Sunday, November 29th 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
870 Market St. at Powell St. (Consulate of Honduras)

Sponsored by Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition

Resistance Front reports on increased militarization

Join with organizations all across the United States to call for a Week Of Actions in solidarity with the people of Honduras. The Nov 29th election organized by the illegal coup government is going ahead as planned. All progressive candidates have withdrawn from the elections and the National Resistance Front has called for a boycott. These elections under the barrel of the gun would not be happening without the support of the US government, which has declared that they will recognize the winner as the "legitimate" representative of the people of Honduras.

Elections under the illegal coup regime are not democracy - they are a farce! We continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Honduras!

In the United States, Hondurans will be able to vote through the Honduran Consulates located in New Orleans, New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix. From Nov 23-29th, actions in solidarity with the people of Honduras will be held in these cities and more across the U.S. See below for details about some of these actions..

We encourage people to participate in these actions. During these protests, pickets and educational events we encourage people to distribute information about the military coup in Honduras - and the role of the United States. On our website we have key documents such as an article by John Perkins on the role of U.S. corporations in the coup and President Zelaya's recent letter to President Obama. It is also very important to have media events to raise awareness about the situation in Honduras today. Press conferences, press packets, radio and TV interviews, and phone calls to the media are all urgently needed!

Let us know if you are organizing an event and how we can best help you have the maximum impact.

In a communiqué sent out today by the National Resistance Front, they have denounced the increased militarization of the country ahead of the elections. At this critical point in the struggle of the people of Honduras, the National Resistance Front points out that it is more important than ever to keep the pressure on our government to not recognize the illegitimate elections planned for November 29th and denounce the acts of continued repression.


"The End of Poverty?"
Democracy Now Interview with Filmmaker Philippe Diaz


The film opens in San Francisco on December 4 at the 4-Star Theatre on Clement Street.




Drop all Charges Against the Activists in the Protests of the Police Murder of Oscar Grant!

Rally at JRs Next Court Hearing
Monday, December 7, 2009, 8:00 A.M.
Alameda County Courthouse
1225 Fallon Street
Oakland, CA

Journalist JR Valrey was arrested by Oakland Police on the night of January 7, 2009, for covering the street uprising following the police murder of Oscar Grant. JR has consistently covered police brutality and terrorism. The bogus charge he faces: felony arson!

JR Varley is a POCC (People of Color Conference) Minister of Information, host of Block Report Radio, a producer at KPFA and associate editor of the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper.


The BART cop who put a bullet in the back of the young Oscar Grant while Grant was lying face-down on a BART platform is Johannes Mehserle. With 45 police killings in Oakland in the past five years, Mehserle is the only cop to be charged with murder while on duty. But the cops are pulling out all the stops to avoid a conviction. With a starkly racist argument, Mesherle's lawyer has succeeded in getting hte trial moved out of Oakland--to Los Angeles.

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 16222
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 763-2347


Four years ago activists around the world were mobilizing and organizing against the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams. We need to continue that fight today.

Fourth Annual Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Summit

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13TH, 3:00-6:00 P.M.
Huey P. Newton/Bobby Seale Student Lounge
12500 Campus Drive, Oakland
For directions go to www.merritt.edu
For more information: 510-235-9780



Angela Davis, author and activist.
Barbara Becnel, co-author and friend of Stanley Tookie Williams
Martina Correia, sister of Troy Davis
Release of report, "What's Really Happening on California's Death Row?"
Messages from "The Three Innocent Men"
Sneak Preview, "The Justice Chronicles," dramatic presentation of prison writings
Memorial Movie, for Oscar Grant III

Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network; Campaign to End the Death Penalty; Kevin Cooper Defense Committee, African American Studies Department, Merritt College



San Francisco March and Rally
on Saturday, March 20, 2010
11am, Civic Center Plaza

National March on Washington
on Saturday, March 20, 2010
Fri., March 19 Day of Action & Outreach in D.C.

People from all over the country are organizing to converge on Washington, D.C., to demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, there will be a massive National March & Rally in D.C. A day of action and outreach in Washington, D.C., will take place on Friday, March 19, preceding the Saturday march.

There will be coinciding mass marches on March 20 in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The national actions are initiated by a large number of organizations and prominent individuals. (see below)

Click here to become an endorser:


Click here to make a donation:


We will march together to say "No Colonial-type Wars and Occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine!" We will march together to say "No War Against Iran!" We will march together to say "No War for Empire Anywhere!"

Instead of war, we will demand funds so that every person can have a job, free and universal health care, decent schools, and affordable housing.

March 20 is the seventh anniversary of the criminal war of aggression launched by Bush and Cheney against Iraq. One million or more Iraqis have died. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops have lost their lives or been maimed, and continue to suffer a whole host of enduring problems from this terrible war.

This is the time for united action. The slogans on banners may differ, but all those who carry them should be marching shoulder to shoulder.

Killing and dying to avoid the perception of defeat

Bush is gone, but the war and occupation in Iraq still go on. The Pentagon is demanding a widening of the war in Afghanistan. They project an endless war with shifting battlefields. And a "single-payer" war budget that only grows larger and larger each year. We must act.

Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were predicated on the imperial fantasy that the U.S. could create stable, proxy colonial-type governments in both countries. They were to serve as an extension of "American" power in these strategic and resource-rich regions.

That fantasy has been destroyed. Now U.S. troops are being sent to kill or be killed so that the politicians in uniform ("the generals and admirals") and those in three-piece suits ("our elected officials") can avoid taking responsibility for a military setback in wars that should have never been started. Their military ambitions are now reduced to avoiding the appearance of defeat.

That is exactly what happened in Vietnam! Avoiding defeat, or the perception of defeat, was the goal Nixon and Kissinger set for themselves when they took office in 1969. For this noble cause, another 30,000 young GIs perished before the inevitable troop pullout from Vietnam in 1973. The number of Vietnamese killed between 1969 and 1973 was greater by many hundreds of thousands.

All of us can make the difference - progress and change comes from the streets and from the grassroots.

The people went to the polls in 2008, and the enthusiasm and desire for change after eight years of the Bush regime was the dominant cause that led to election of a big Democratic Party majority in both Houses of Congress and the election of Barack Obama to the White House.

But it should now be obvious to all that waiting for politicians to bring real change - on any front - is simply a prescription for passivity by progressives and an invitation to the array of corporate interests from military contractors to the banks, to big oil, to the health insurance giants that dominate the political life of the country. These corporate interests work around the clock to frustrate efforts for real change, and they are the guiding hand behind the recent street mobilizations of the ultra-right.

It is up to us to act. If people had waited for politicians to do the right thing, there would have never been a Civil Rights Act, or unions, women's rights, an end to the Vietnam war or any of the profound social achievements and basic rights that people cherish.

It is time to be back in the streets. Organizing centers are being set up in cities and towns throughout the country.

We must raise $50,000 immediately just to get started. Please make your contribution today. We need to reserve buses, which are expensive ($1,800 from NYC, $5,000 from Chicago, etc.). We have to print 100,000 leaflets, posters and stickers. There will be other substantial expenses as March 20 draws closer.

Please become an endorser and active supporter of the March 20 National March on Washington.

Please make an urgently needed tax-deductible donation today. We can't do this without your active support.

The initiators of the March 20 National March on Washington (preceded by the March 19 Day of Action and Outreach in D.C.) include: the ANSWER Coalition; Muslim American Society Freedom; National Council of Arab Americans; Cynthia McKinney; Malik Rahim, co-founder of Common Ground Collective; Ramsey Clark; Cindy Sheehan; Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK; Deborah Sweet, Director, World Can't Wait; Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace; Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild; Ron Kovic, author of "Born on the 4th of July"; Juan Jose Gutierrez, Director, Latino Movement USA; Col. Ann Wright (ret.); March Forward!; Partnership for Civil Justice; Palestinian American Women Association; Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines; Alliance for Global Justice; Claudia de la Cruz, Pastor, Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas-UCC; Phil Portluck, Social Justice Ministry, Covenant Baptist Church, D.C.; Blase & Theresa Bonpane, Office of the Americas; Coalition for Peace and Democracy in Honduras; Comite Pro-Democracia en Mexico; Frente Unido de los Pueblos Americanos; Comites de Base FMLN, Los Angeles; Free Palestine Alliance; GABRIELA Network; Justice for Filipino American Veterans; KmB Pro-People Youth; Students Fight Back; Jim Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild - LA Chapter; LEF Foundation; National Coalition to Free the Angola 3; Community Futures Collective; Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival; Companeros del Barrio; Barrio Unido for Full and Unconditional Amnesty, Bay Area United Against War.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311


The US Social Forum II
Mon, 06/22/2009 - 01:20
• June 22-26, 2010 •
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Another World Is Possible! Another US is Necessary!





Lynne Stewart in Jail!

For further information contact: Jeff Mackler, Coordinator, West Coast Lynne Stewart Defense Committee 510-268-9429 jmackler@lmi.net
Mail tax free contributions payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation. Write in memo box: "Lynne Stewart Defense." Mail to: Lynne Stewart Defense, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610.



U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Department of Justice Main Switchboard - 202-514-2000
Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line - 202-353-1555

To send Lynne a letter, write:
Lynne Stewart
150 Park Row
New York, NY NY 10007

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


The trial of Johannes Mehserle, killer of unarmed Oscar Grant, has been moved to Los Angeles.

In the case of an innocent verdict, folks are encouraged to head to Oakland City Hall ASAP to express our outrage in a massive and peaceful way! Our power is in our numbers! Oscar Grant's family and friends need our support!

For more information:
Contact BAMN at 510-502-9072


The Story of Mouseland: As told by Tommy Douglas in 1944

The Communist Manifesto illustrated by Cartoons


Support mom still facing Afghanistan deployment, court martial

By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. November 16, 2009

"I currently don't have a family care plan, but they told me they did not
care and for me to get ready to go to Afghanistan," explained Oakland,
California native Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old soldier based at
Hunter Army Airfield outside of Savannah, Georgia.

As I spoke to Alexis on the phone, I believed if I found her a civilian
lawyer to work with the military, a reasonable resolution would be quickly
found. Unlike most service members Courage to Resist assists, Alexis was not
refusing to deploy. She was not looking to speak out against war. She was
simply asking for more time to find someone to care for her 11-month old son
Kamani. Within a few days, however, the Army had tossed Alexis in the
stockade and turned Kamani over to the Chatham County (Georgia) foster care


Please make a tax-deductible donation to Alexis' legal and family support


Courage to Resist Urgent Action Alert

Army sends infant to protective services, mom to Afghanistan this weekend

Army has mom, Alexis Hutchinson, arrested and 11-month old son put into county foster care system. Alexis has now been ordered to deploy to Afghanistan on Sunday, November 15, where she will be court martialed.

Action Alert: Contact Congresswoman Barbara Lee to urge her to "Request that the Army not deploy Alexis Hutchinson to Afghanistan so that she can care for her son." From the 9th District (Oakland-Berkeley, CA) phone: 510-763-0370 (fax: 510-763-6538). Nationwide: 202- 225-2661 (fax: 202-225-9817).

Donate to Alexis' legal and family support fund (couragetoresist.org/alexis)

Alexis' attorney now available for media interviews.
By friends of Alexis and Courage to Resist. November 12, 2009

Specialist Alexis Hutchinson of Oakland, CA is the single mother of an 11-month old boy, Kamani. Currently she is confined to Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah, Georgia, where she has been posted since February 2008, and threatened with a court martial if she does not agree to be deployed to Afghanistan, even though she has not found anyone to take care of her child while she is away.

In anticipation of going overseas Specialist Hutchinson flew to California and left her son with her mother Angelique Hughes of Oakland, as per her Army family care plan. However, after a week of caring for the child Specialist Hutchinson's mother realized that she was unable to take care of Kamani on top of her other duties to her special-needs daughter, her ailing mother, and her ailing sister. In late October Angelique Hughes informed Hutchinson and her commander, Captain Gassant, that she was not able to care for her daughter's baby after all. The Army gave Specialist Hutchinson an extension of time to find someone else to care for her son, and in the meantime her mother brought Kamani back to Georgia. However just a few days before Specialist Hutchinson was scheduled to deploy she was told that she would not get the extended time after all and would have to deploy, even though there was no one to care for her child.

Faced with that choice Specialist Hutchinson did not show up for her plane. The military had her arrested and they put her child in the county foster care system. Currently, Specialist Hutchinson is scheduled to fly to Afghanistan for a special court martial on Sunday and is facing up to one year in jail. Her mother flew to Georgia and retrieved the baby but is overwhelmed, and does not feel able to provide long-term care for Kamani.

Specialist Hutchinson would like to have more time to find someone to care for her infant. However, she does not have a lot of family or friends who could do so. She says: "It is outrageous that they would deploy a single mother without a complete and current family care plan. I would like to find someone I trust who can take care of my son, but I cannot force my family to do this. They are dealing with their own health issues."

Also in the news:
Army Sends Infant to Protective Services, Mom to Afghanistan
by Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service. November 13, 2009

Online version with possible updates



Statement from the NY October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality

Soon after 6:00am on October 27th, five cops raided the house of Juanita Young, the mother of Malcolm Ferguson who was gunned down by a plainclothes cop in 2000. They threatened to break down her door, tried to climb in through her bathroom window, put a gun in Juanita's face and took away her son, Buddy. The cops justified their outrageous and illegal behavior by citing a warrant, refusing to identify who or what the warrant was for. Later it was claimed that the warrant was for Buddy failing to appear in court for a Desk Appearance Ticket on October 13th, just two weeks earlier. This made it clear that it was both an unusually quick response and out of the ordinary violence for this offense.

This is not the first time cops have run roughshod over the rights of Juanita and her family. Juanita Young has been an outspoken opponent of police brutality, fighting for justice not only for her son Malcolm, but for all victims of police brutality. This has made her a target of persistent persecution by the police:

--June 2003: During an illegal eviction carried out by the NYPD, Juanita was arrested for trespassing in her own home. She was handcuffed and aggressively pushed out of her apartment and building, falling twice and injuring her arm. In October 2007, a Bronx civil jury determined that the arresting officer used excessive force in her arrest.

--November 2005: After voicing her disapproval of a brutal arrest at a demonstration, Juanita was arrested after a commanding officer said, "Get her, too." She was refused medical attention that she needed due to an asthma attack. Young was hospitalized for three days and faced criminal charges, but before the date of her arraignment, she received notice in the mail that the charges were dropped.

--November 2006: Juanita was arrested after more than 8 cops entered her apartment during an ambulance call for her daughter. The cops jumped her, punched and kicked her. She was taken to the hospital, where she was handcuffed to the bed and tortured by police for four days, only to be handed a ticket on the last day an hour after a press conference about her attack took place. In October 2008, a Bronx jury acquitted Young of all charges.

--August 2009: During a cookout in front of Juanita's building, over a dozen cops broke down the front door, slammed her oldest son up behind the door, and beat him on the head. The cops also arrested her daughters. This was another attempt to intimidate Juanita Young - through striking out at her loved ones - in hopes of silencing this powerful voice against police brutality.

All these attacks are outrageous, illegitimate and illegal. We say: HANDS OFF JUANITA YOUNG! The NYPD must stop this intimidation and harassment of Juanita and her family. Speaking out against police brutality is no crime. But targeting someone in retaliation for speaking out is illegal.

From Juanita Young's statement to supporters:

"Not only have my rights been violated in the most blatant ways, but I feel physically and psychologically terrorized. I fear for my safety, my very life, and the lives of my children and grandchildren." (October 29, 2009)

We refuse to allow Juanita Young, this fighter against police brutality and injustice, to stand alone against this onslaught.

We demand:

1: The NYPD stop its persecution of Juanita Young!

2: Bronx DA Robert Johnson investigate the role of the 43rd Precinct in this persecution.

3: An investigation of the Warrant Squad and how they were charged, and how they went about, in serving the warrant at Juanita Young's house on October 27th.

Sign Petition Here:



Cleve Jones Speaks At Gay Rights Rally In Washington, DC

Free the SF8: Drop the Charges!
by Bill Carpenter ( wcarpent [at] ccsf.edu )
Monday Oct 12th, 2009 11:20 AM

Sony Piece of crap (Hilarious!)

Sick For Profit

Fault Lines: Despair & Revival in Detroit - 14 May 09 - Part 1

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Dan Berger on Political Prisoners in the United States
By Angola 3 News
Angola 3 News
37 years ago in Louisiana, 3 young black men were silenced for trying to expose continued segregation, systematic corruption, and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the US, an 18,000-acre former slave plantation called Angola. In 1972 and 1973 prison officials charged Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, and Robert King with murders they did not commit and threw them into 6x9 ft. cells in solitary confinement, for over 36 years. Robert was freed in 2001, but Herman and Albert remain behind bars.

Taking Aim Radio Program with
Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone
The Chimera of Capitalist Recovery, Parts 1 and 2



The San Francisco Board of Education has re-installed the Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps in San Francisco schools -- including allowing it to count for Physical Education credits.

This is a complete reversal of the 2006 decision to end JROTC altogether in San Francisco public schools. Our children need a good physical education program, not a death education program!

With the economy in crisis; jobs and higher education for youth more unattainable; the lure, lies and false promises of military recruiters is driving more and more of our children into the military trap.

This is an economic draft and the San Francisco Board of Education is helping to snare our children to provide cannon fodder for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and for over 700 U.S. military bases around the world!

We can't depend upon "friendly politicians" who, while they are campaigning for office claim they are against the wars but when they get elected vote in favor of military recruitment--the economic draft--in our schools. We can't depend upon them. That has been proven beyond doubt!

It is up to all of us to come together to stop this NOW!


Write, call, pester and ORGANIZE against the re-institution of JROTC in our San Francisco public schools NOW!

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein
Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

San Francisco Board of Education
555 Franklin Street, 1st Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
415/241-6427, (415) 241-6493



For a donation of only $18.95, we can put a copy of the book "10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military" into a public or high school library of your choice. [Reason number 1: You may be killed]

A letter and bookplate will let readers know that your donation helped make this possible.

Putting a book in either a public or school library ensures that students, parents, and members of the community will have this valuable information when they need it.

Don't have a library you would like us to put it in? We'll find one for you!



Showdown In Chicago
The Showdown in Chicago is underway! Thousands of Americans are in the midst of a series of demonstrations against Wall Street banks and their lobbyists to call for financial reform. Check out the latest news:


EYE WITNESS REPORTS FROM GAZA Video Free Gaza News October 22,2009


ANSWER Statement on Proposed SF Parking Meter Hours

The ANSWER Coalition-SF Bay Area strongly opposes the proposal to extend parking meter hours in San Francisco. The SFMTA, the Metropolitan Transit Agency, is proposing to have parking meters in most of SF run until midnight Monday-Saturday, and from 11 am-6 pm on Sundays!

This is another attempt by the politicians to solve the city's budget crisis by squeezing every last dollar they can out of working people. They have outrageously jacked up MUNI fares, other city fees and parking fines. At the same time they have let the big banks, developers and other wealthy corporate interests-the ones who have created the current economic and budget crisis-off the hook.

The DPT (Department of Parking and Traffic) has already begun a policy of "enhanced enforcement," super-aggressively ticketing vehicles from 9:01 am to 5:59 pm, Monday-Saturday. Every day in every working class neighborhood of SF you can see the booted cars and trucks. On top of the $53, $63 and higher parking tickets, it costs over $200 just to get a boot removed! If your car gets towed, you have to pay $400 or more to get it back. This is causing many low-income people to lose their vehicles.

City officials are trying to mislead people by falsely claiming that the reason for extending meter hours is to collect more quarters and "open up more parking spaces." What they really want is to hit us with thousands more high-priced tickets, and then collect the ransom for booted and towed cars.

This is a class issue. The rich and the well-to-do don't have to worry about where to park in this small and crowded city. They have garages or can afford to pay for parking. It is overwhelmingly working class people who are being hit and who will be hit much, much harder if the new policy goes into effect. Many residents in neighborhoods with meters have no choice but to park at meters after 6 pm and move their vehicles before 9 am the next morning. There just aren't enough spaces otherwise.

As Cristina Gutierrez of Barrio Unido, an immigrant rights group opposed to the plan, asked: "What are we supposed to do, run out of our homes every hour at night to feed the meter?"

But the MTA board and some misguided individuals are trying to pose the issue as MUNI riders vs. car drivers. Some have even ignorantly asserted that if you own a car, you can't possibly be poor. Really? Tell that to the growing number of people forced to LIVE in their cars due to the depression!

The reality is that many people in SF both ride MUNI and own cars (some ride bikes, too). For a lot of people getting to work, shopping, medical appointments, etc. requires a car. That's especially true for families and for people whose jobs are outside SF or not easily accessible by mass transit. Posing the issue as bus riders vs. car riders is false and reactionary.

Does MUNI need more funding? Of course. Should MUNI fares be cut and service increased? No question about it. The issue is: Who should pay?

While taxes, fees, fines, fares, etc., etc, have been constantly increased for us, the taxes on corporate profits have been going down. Many big banks and corporations have been able to avoid paying income tax altogether. While we're told that there's no money for people's needs, $500,000,000 is spent every day on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trillions of dollars have been handed over to the biggest banks in just the last year.

It's time to say: Enough is Enough! It's time for the politicians to stop trying to make working people pay for the economic crisis that the rich created. It's time to make those who can afford it-big business-pay for the services that the people of the city, state and country need.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
http://www.ANSWERcoalition.org http://www.answersf.org
2489 Mission St. Rm. 24
San Francisco: 415-821-6545


This is a must-see video about the life of Oscar Grant, a young man who loved his family and was loved by his family. It's important to watch to understand the tremendous loss felt by his whole family as a result of his cold-blooded murder by BART police officers--Johannes Mehserle being the shooter while the others held Oscar down and handcuffed him to aid Mehserle in the murder of Oscar Grant January 1, 2009.

The family wants to share this video here with you who support justice for Oscar Grant.



Urgent: Ahmad Sa'adat transferred to isolation in Ramon prison!

Imprisoned Palestinian national leader Ahmad Sa'adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was transferred on August 11, 2009 to Ramon prison in the Naqab desert from Asqelan prison, where he had been held for a number of months. He remains in isolation; prior to his transfer from Asqelan, he had been held since August 1 in a tiny isolation cell of 140 cm x 240 cm after being penalized for communicating with another prisoner in the isolation unit.

Attorney Buthaina Duqmaq, president of the Mandela Association for prisoners' and detainees' rights, reported that this transfer is yet another continuation of the policy of repression and isolation directed at Sa'adat by the Israeli prison administration, aimed at undermining his steadfastness and weakening his health and his leadership in the prisoners' movement. Sa'adat has been moved repeatedly from prison to prison and subject to fines, harsh conditions, isolation and solitary confinement, and medical neglect. Further reports have indicated that he is being denied attorney visits upon his transfer to Ramon.

Ahmad Sa'adat undertook a nine-day hunger strike in June in order to protest the increasing use of isolation against Palestinian prisoners and the denial of prisoners' rights, won through long and hard struggle. The isolation unit at Ramon prison is reported to be one of the worst isolation units in terms of conditions and repeated violations of prisoners' rights in the Israeli prison system.

Sa'adat is serving a 30 year sentence in Israeli military prisons. He was sentenced on December 25, 2008 after a long and illegitimate military trial on political charges, which he boycotted. He was kidnapped by force in a military siege on the Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho, where he had been held since 2002 under U.S., British and PA guard.

Sa'adat is suffering from back injuries that require medical assistance and treatment. Instead of receiving the medical care he needs, the Israeli prison officials are refusing him access to specialists and engaging in medical neglect and maltreatment.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat demands an end to this isolation and calls upon all to protest at local Israeli embassies and consulates (the list is available at: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/ About+the+Ministry/Diplomatic+mission/Web+Sites+of+Israeli+ Missions+Abroad.htm) and to write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to exercise their responsibilities and act swiftly to demand that the Israelis ensure that Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners receive needed medical care and that this punitive isolation be ended. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at jerusalem..jer@icrc.org, and inform them about the urgent situation of Ahmad Sa'adat!

Ahmad Sa'adat has been repeatedly moved in an attempt to punish him for his steadfastness and leadership and to undermine his leadership in the prisoners' movement. Of course, these tactics have done nothing of the sort. The Palestinian prisoners are daily on the front lines, confronting Israeli oppression and crimes. Today, it is urgent that we stand with Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners against these abuses, and for freedom for all Palestinian prisoners and for all of Palestine!

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat


Troy Anthony Davis is an African American man who has spent the last 18 years on death row for a murder he did not commit. There is no physical evidence tying him to the crime and seven out of nine witnesses have recanted. New evidence and new testimony have been presented to the Georgia courts, but the justice system refuses to consider this evidence, which would prove Troy Davis' innocence once and for all.

Sign the petition and join the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, and other partners in demanding justice for Troy Davis!


For Now, High Court Punts on Troy Davis, on Death Row for 18 Years
By Ashby Jones
Wall Street Journal Law Blog
June 30, 2009

Take action now:


Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 2012
New York, NY 10159-2012

New videos from April 24 Oakland Mumia event

Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense in the U.S. Our legal effort is the front line of the battle for Mumia's freedom and life. His legal defense needs help. The costs are substantial for our litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court and at the state level. To help, please make your checks payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left). All donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Code, section 501(c)(3), and should be mailed to:

It is outrageous and a violation of human rights that Mumia remains in prison and on death row. His life hangs in the balance. My career has been marked by successfully representing people facing death in murder cases. I will not rest until we win Mumia's case. Justice requires no less.

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


Short Video About Al-Awda's Work
The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected over the past nine years.
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTiAkbB5uC0&eurl
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, depends on your financial support to carry out its work.

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to
http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


FLASHPOINTS Interview with Innocent San Quentin Death Row Inmate
Kevin Cooper -- Aired Monday, May 18,2009
To learn more about Kevin Cooper go to:
San Francisco Chronicle article on the recent ruling:
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and dissent:


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) Bright Lines Blur in Juvenile Sentencing
November 24, 2009

2) Demonstration at U.C. Santa Cruz Ends Peacefully
November 22, 2009

3) Hope for the Wrongfully Convicted
November 23, 2009

4) Medical Marijuana: No Longer Just for Adults
November 22, 2009

5) Texas Governor Perry Executes Another Innocent Man
By Jessica Pieklo
November 23, 2009

6) Democrats Propose Surtax to Cover War Costs
Fri Nov 20, 1:43 pm ET

7) DC Agrees To Pay $13M Over Arrests Of Protesters
SARAH KARUSH, Associated Press Writer
Nov 23, 2009 6:02 pm US/Eastern

8) The Higher Education Fiscal Crisis Protects the Wealthy
By Peter Phillips
November 22, 2009

9) Blacks hit hard by economy's punch
34.5 percent of young African American men are unemployed
By V. Dion Haynes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

10) The Department of Gomer Pyle
By Don Cooper
November 23, 2009

11) Obama Says He Intends to 'Finish the Job' in Afghanistan
November 25, 2009

12) U.S. Fund for Bank Deposit Insurance Falls Into the Red
November 25, 2009

13) No 'No More Wilderness'
NYT Editorial
November 24, 2009

14) Economy Is Forcing Young Adults Back Home in Big Numbers, Survey Finds
November 24, 2009

15) Resolution adopted by the Delegates Meeting of the San Francisco Labor Council on Monday, November 23, 2009.

16) Bagram: A living hell
By Paddy McGuffin
Friday 20 November 2009


1) Bright Lines Blur in Juvenile Sentencing
November 24, 2009


The law is made up of rules and standards.

Here is an example of a rule, established by the Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons in 2005: If you commit murder even hours before your 18th birthday, you cannot be put to death for your crime. The same killing a few hours later may be a capital offense. The court drew a bright-line rule at 18.

Here is an example of a standard, one proposed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. this month at Supreme Court arguments over whether juvenile offenders may be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole: Why not, the chief justice asked, interpret the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment to require sentencing judges to consider the defendant's age on a case-by-case basis?

"If you do have a case where it's the 17-year-old who is one week shy of his 18th birthday and it is the most grievous crime spree you can imagine, you can determine that in that case life without parole may not be disproportionate," Chief Justice Roberts said. "If it's a less grievous crime and there is, for example, a younger defendant involved, then in that case maybe it is disproportionate."

The lawyers in the two cases the court heard - one involving a rape committed at 13, the other an armed burglary at 16 - had at least two answers to the chief justice's proposal. One was that it is too soon to tell at sentencing whether unformed teenagers will later change for the better. The other was that states already take age into account but do so in very different ways.

According to a report from researchers at Florida State University, just two states, Florida and Louisiana, have imprisoned 94 of the nation's roughly 110 juvenile offenders sentenced to die in prison for crimes in which no one was killed.

But there is a third possible retort, one that draws on the Supreme Court's 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia barring the execution of the mentally retarded. That sounds like a rule, in that it made an entire class of people categorically ineligible for the death penalty. But it turns out to be a standard.

Proving age is pretty straightforward, and inmates who were under 18 when they committed the crimes that sent them to death row promptly had their sentences commuted after the court's decision in Roper. The Atkins decision, on the other hand, "has spawned extensive, intricate and bitterly contested litigation," Carol S. Steiker and Jordan M. Steiker wrote in the DePaul Law Review last year.

The Supreme Court in Atkins said mental retardation requires proof of three things: "subaverage intellectual functioning," meaning low IQ scores; a lack of fundamental social and practical skills; and that both conditions were present before age 18. The court said IQ scores under "approximately 70" typically indicate retardation.

How has this standard been applied in practice?

A new study from three law professors at Cornell, one that resonates with potential lessons for juvenile life without parole, shows that states making case-by-case determinations have taken wildly different approaches.

The study, conducted by John H. Blume, Sheri Lynn Johnson and Christopher Seeds, tried to collect all determinations concerning retardation in capital cases in the six years after Atkins, finding 234. That means about 7 percent of the nation's roughly 3,200 death row inmates have claimed to be mentally retarded.

Nationwide, the claims have succeeded about 38 percent of the time. But state success rates vary widely.

North Carolina courts heard 21 Atkins claims and ruled in the inmate's favor 17 times. Alabama courts heard 26 claims and ruled for the inmate 3 times.

Recall that the Supreme Court said an IQ of "approximately 70" should usually satisfy the first part of the test. In Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, four inmates with IQ scores of 66 and 67 were held not to be retarded. But in Pennsylvania, an inmate whose score ranged from 70 to 75 won an Atkins claim. In California, a score of 84 did the trick.

Professor Johnson said there was a lesson here.

"If you look at Atkins, which is supposed to be a categorical rule but has some play in the definitions, you get enormous pushback from the states that don't want to do it," she said. Were the court to adopt Chief Justice Roberts's approach for juvenile life without parole, she added, "the problem of Atkins's application would be greatly magnified."

Yet there is an obvious appeal to the chief justice's suggestion.

"If you go down on a case-by-case basis, there are no line-drawing problems," he said at the arguments this month. "You just simply say age has to be considered as a matter of the Eighth Amendment."

Justice Antonin Scalia objected. He had dissented in Atkins and Roper, and he was not brimming with sympathy for the two juvenile offenders in the cases before the court.

His problem with Chief Justice Roberts's proposal was grounded in a preference for easily applied binary rules over mushy standards that give judges too much power.

"And then we apply a totality-of-the-circumstances test," Justice Scalia said dismissively of the chief justice's proposal, "which means, 'whatever seems like a good idea.' "


2) Demonstration at U.C. Santa Cruz Ends Peacefully
November 22, 2009

Filed at 5:21 p.m. ET

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) -- Officials at the University of California, Santa Cruz say dozens of protesters who were occupying the university's main administrative building have ended their protest.

Campus spokesman Jim Burns says the nearly 70 or so protesters who had occupied the university's Kerr Hall since Thursday in a demonstration over fee hikes walked out of the building around 8 a.m. Sunday.

No arrests were made, but Burns says the students who took part in the protest are facing criminal charges or student judicial sanctions.

During the demonstration, protesters knocked over furniture, scattered refuse about and damaged some electronic conferencing equipment.

Burns could not provide an estimate on the amount of damage, but says it would take at least a day to clear most of the damage.


3) Hope for the Wrongfully Convicted
November 23, 2009

In a recent 79-page decision, a Manhattan judge could well have stopped after the first four sentences of his concluding paragraph and still conveyed his main point: that Fernando Bermudez was no longer guilty of murder.

Instead, the judge, Justice John Cataldo of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, tacked on a fifth sentence that ended with two powerful words: "actual innocence."

By going further than merely finding that the murder conviction was wrongfully obtained - and by ruling unequivocally that Mr. Bermudez, of Washington Heights, did not commit the crime he had spent the past 18 years in prison for - Justice Cataldo injected hope into a movement.

To the layperson, the distinction might seem nuanced, if not trivial. But to advocates for the wrongfully convicted, Justice Cataldo's decision, which was released Nov. 12, clawed toward what they viewed as a groundbreaking push to get New York State courts to focus more on the content of evidence, rather than procedural roadblocks.

"The Bermudez case, this dramatizes the need to ensure that actual innocence is established as a legitimate ground for a hearing," State Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat, said.

Mr. Schneiderman is one of the sponsors of a bill introduced in the Senate last month that would add a provision to state law allowing judges to overlook procedural errors in a defendant's case and overturn a conviction when the evidence before them "conclusively establishes" innocence.

State law generally allows wrongful-conviction appeals on two grounds. Either new evidence would have to have been discovered, or a defendant's constitutional rights would have to have been violated at trial. The problem, experts say, is that these claims are shrouded in hefty procedural rules.

In a claim of newly discovered evidence, for instance, the defendant must show, among other things, that the evidence could not have been found during the trial. If a judge rules that it could have, then the judge can uphold the conviction, regardless of how compelling the evidence is.

An "actual innocence" statute, experts said, would give judges the leeway to excuse procedural violations, missed deadlines and other mistakes if the evidence is strong enough.

"It elevates substance over form," said Glenn A. Garber, a Manhattan defense lawyer and founder of the Exoneration Initiative, an organization that focuses on innocence claims that lack DNA evidence. "If they know they're required to engage in actual innocence analysis, it sends a message to courts that they have to do more when they're confronted with compelling evidence of innocence."

Opponents of the actual innocence doctrine, however, have stressed the importance of finality in the justice system and fear that these statutes could lead to myriad frivolous claims by desperate prisoners.

The statute would not apply to cases in which there is DNA evidence, as those are governed by their own laws, experts said. But most cases lack DNA evidence.

One of Mr. Garber's cases could be the next litmus test for actual innocence claims in New York. On Monday, his client, William McCaffrey, is scheduled to appear in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on a claim that he is not guilty of the rape for which he has been imprisoned for the past four years. In addition to appeals based on DNA and newly discovered evidence, Mr. McCaffrey's petition also includes an actual innocence claim.

Advocates of the actual innocence doctrine have been riding a swell of momentum over the past several months.

In July, a State Supreme Court justice in Brooklyn ruled that Jonathan Wheeler-Whichard was innocent of a murder he had been convicted of in 1996, and experts said they believed it was the first time a judge in the state had overturned a conviction based on an actual innocence petition.

In August, the United States Supreme Court made the rare move of ordering a federal trial court in Georgia to consider the case of Troy Davis, who is on death row in state prison for the 1989 murder of an off-duty police officer. Mr. Davis made a direct habeas corpus appeal to the Supreme Court on actual innocence grounds. Federal courts have been especially skeptical of actual innocence claims and do not recognize them as a ground for overturning a conviction.

"This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is 'actually' innocent," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent to the Davis decision.

Although no New York appellate court has ever recognized actual innocence as a ground for an appeal, the judges in the Bermudez and Wheeler-Whichard cases spelled out what they believed it meant in their decisions.

"I am now prepared to rule that, at least under the circumstances of this case, such a claim of actual innocence may be brought and the standard of proof for determining it is 'by clear and convincing evidence,' " Justice Joseph K. McKay of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn wrote in deciding the Wheeler-Whichard case.

In Mr. Bermudez's case, Justice Cataldo found that there was newly discovered evidence as well as a constitutional violation that led him to overturn the conviction.

But Justice Cataldo did not stop at those findings.

"I find the due process clause of our state Constitution requires a procedural mechanism be provided for an incarcerated defendant to bring a post-conviction motion upon a claim of actual innocence," the judge wrote.

And so he ruled that the new evidence established that Mr. Bermudez was innocent, a step that experts said was important because it prevented the prosecution - short of a reversal by an appellate court - from retrying him. It also helped Mr. Bermudez's chances of collecting money from the state.

Mr. Bermudez had been petitioning since 1994 for a state court to grant him a hearing to consider the evidence of his innocence, according to Lesley Risinger, one of his lawyers. But procedural roadblocks prevented him from getting a hearing until this year.

As he left Sing Sing prison on Friday, Mr. Bermudez said he was hoping his release would stand for something more.

"This is a day," he said, "for other people to have hope that justice is possible in this country."


4) Medical Marijuana: No Longer Just for Adults
November 22, 2009

At the Peace in Medicine Healing Center in Sebastopol, the wares on display include dried marijuana - featuring brands like Kryptonite, Voodoo Daddy and Train Wreck - and medicinal cookies arrayed below a sign saying, "Keep Out of Reach of Your Mother."

The warning tells a story of its own: some of the center's clients are too young to buy themselves a beer.

Several Bay Area doctors who recommend medical marijuana for their patients said in recent interviews that their client base had expanded to include teenagers with psychiatric conditions including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"It's not everybody's medicine, but for some, it can make a profound difference," said Valerie Corral, a founder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a patients' collective in Santa Cruz that has two dozen minors as registered clients.

Because California does not require doctors to report cases involving medical marijuana, no reliable data exist for how many minors have been authorized to receive it. But Dr. Jean Talleyrand, who founded MediCann, a network in Oakland of 20 clinics who authorize patients to use the drug, said his staff members had treated as many as 50 patients ages 14 to 18 who had A.D.H.D. Bay Area doctors have been at the forefront of the fierce debate about medical marijuana, winning tolerance for people with grave illnesses like terminal cancer and AIDS. Yet as these doctors use their discretion more liberally, such support - even here - may be harder to muster, especially when it comes to using marijuana to treat adolescents with A.D.H.D.

"How many ways can one say 'one of the worst ideas of all time?' " asked Stephen Hinshaw, the chairman of the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley. He cited studies showing that tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, disrupts attention, memory and concentration - functions already compromised in people with the attention-deficit disorder.

Advocates are just as adamant, though they are in a distinct minority. "It's safer than aspirin," Dr. Talleyrand said. He and other marijuana advocates maintain that it is also safer than methylphenidate (Ritalin), the stimulant prescription drug most often used to treat A.D.H.D. That drug has documented potential side effects including insomnia, depression, facial tics and stunted growth.

In 1996, voters approved a ballot proposition making California the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Twelve other states have followed suit - allowing cannabis for several specified, serious conditions including cancer and AIDS - but only California adds the grab-bag phrase "for any other illness for which marijuana provides relief."

This has left those doctors willing to "recommend" cannabis - in the Alice-in-Wonderland world of medical marijuana, they cannot legally prescribe it - with leeway that some use to a daring degree. "You can get it for a backache," said Keith Stroup, the founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Nonetheless, expanding its use among young people is controversial even among doctors who authorize medical marijuana.

Gene Schoenfeld, a doctor in Sausalito, said, "I wouldn't do it for anyone under 21, unless they have a life-threatening problem such as cancer or AIDS."

Dr. Schoenfeld added, "It's detrimental to adolescents who chronically use it, and if it's being used medically, that implies chronic use."

Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said she was particularly worried about the risk of dependency - a risk she said was already high among adolescents and people with attention-deficit disorder.

Counterintuitive as it may seem, however, patients and doctors have been reporting that marijuana helps alleviate some of the symptoms, particularly the anxiety and anger that so often accompany A.D.H.D. The disorder has been diagnosed in more than 4.5 million children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers have linked the use of marijuana by adolescents to increased risk of psychosis and schizophrenia for people genetically predisposed to those illnesses. However, one 2008 report in the journal Schizophrenia Research suggested that the incidence of mental health problems among adolescents with the disorder who used marijuana was lower than that of nonusers.

Marijuana is "a godsend" for some people with A.D.H.D., said Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, a psychiatrist who has written several books on the disorder. However, Dr. Hallowell said he discourages his patients from using it, both because it is - mostly - illegal, and because his observations show that "it can lead to a syndrome in which all the person wants to do all day is get stoned, and they do nothing else."

Until the age of 18, patients requesting medical marijuana must be accompanied to the doctor's appointment and to the dispensaries by a parent or authorized caregiver. Some doctors interviewed said they suspected that in at least some cases, parents were accompanying their children primarily with the hope that medical authorization would allow the adolescents to avoid buying drugs on the street.

A recent University of Michigan study found that more than 40 percent of high school students had tried marijuana.

"I don't have a problem with that, as long as we can have our medical conversation," Dr. Talleyrand said, adding that patients must have medical records to be seen by his doctors.

The Medical Board of California began investigating Dr. Talleyrand in the spring, said a board spokeswoman, Candis Cohen, after a KGO-TV report detailed questionable practices at MediCann clinics, which, the report said, had grossed at least $10 million in five years.

Dr. Talleyrand and his staff members are not alone in being willing to recommend marijuana for minors. In Berkeley, Dr. Frank Lucido said he was questioned by the medical board but ultimately not disciplined after he authorized marijuana for a 16-year-old boy with A.D.H.D. who had tried Ritalin unsuccessfully and was racking up a record of minor arrests.

Within a year of the new treatment, he said, the boy was getting better grades and was even elected president of his special-education class. "He was telling his mother: 'My brain works. I can think,' " Dr. Lucido said.

"With any medication, you weigh the benefits against the risks," he added.

Even so, MediCann patients who receive the authorization must sign a form listing possible downsides of marijuana use, including "mental slowness," memory problems, nervousness, confusion, "increased talkativeness," rapid heartbeat, difficulty in completing complex tasks and hunger. "Some patients can become dependent on marijuana," the form also warns.

The White House's recent signals of more federal tolerance for state medical marijuana laws - which pointedly excluded sales to minors - reignited the debate over medical marijuana.

Some advocates, like Dr. Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard University, suggest that medical marijuana's stigma has less to do with questions of clinical efficacy and more to do with its association, in popular culture, with illicit pleasure and addiction.

Others, like Alberto Torrico of Fremont, the majority leader of the California Assembly, argue for more oversight in general. "The marijuana is a lot more powerful these days than when we were growing up, and too much is being dispensed for nonmedical reasons," he said in an interview last week, bluntly adding, "Any children being given medical marijuana is unacceptable."

As advocates of increased acceptance try to win support, they may find their serious arguments compromised by the dispensaries' playful atmosphere.

OrganiCann, a dispensary in Santa Rosa, has a Web site advertisement listing the "medible of the week" - butterscotch rock candy - invitingly photographed in a gift box with a ribbon. OrganiCann also offers a 10 percent discount, every Friday, for customers with a valid student ID.


5) Texas Governor Perry Executes Another Innocent Man
By Jessica Pieklo
November 23, 2009

There must be something in the Texas water that encourages overreaching by those coming up the ranks of the executive branch. Take current Governor Rick Perry for example. The dust swirling around his decision to move forward with the execution of a man many believe was innocent has not yet even settled and now the Governor has blood on his hands. Again.

In an extremely unusual move the Texas Governor rejected a rare clemency recommendation from the state Board of Pardons and Paroles for Robert Lee Thompson and moved forward with his execution. Thompson was an accomplice in a 1996 Houston convenience store robbery that turned deadly. Thompson admitted firing his gun at the clerk, but it was Thompson's accomplice Sammy Butler who fired the fatal shot. The two men were charged together but tried separately. Butler was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parol. A different jury sentenced Thompson to death.

The sentencing disparity is a result of a particularly harsh Texas statute known as the Law of Parties. The statute allows multiple parties to be found guilty of the same crime, even if they did not directly participate in the crime charged. Think of it as an overreach of the legal concepts of accomplice and conspirator liability. Many other states have similar statutes, sometimes also known as felony murder statutes. According to the Texas statute, "if, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it."

These kinds of laws pose all sorts of theoretical problems for legal scholars, as the bedrock of substantive criminal law holds that, in cases other than "status" offenses like underage drinking, a person cannot and should not be held legally accountable for crimes unless they have both a guilty mind (intent to commit the crime) and guilty actions (steps taken in furtherance of that intent).

The Texas Legislature has made efforts to roll back the Law of Parties, but so far those efforts have proven mostly futile. The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill to ban executions of people convicted under the Law of Parties who did not actually kill anyone. Unfortunately the legislation never made it out of the Senate. Hence the Thompson case.

No other Texas Governor has executed as many citizens as Governor Perry. This summer he signed off on his 200th execution. It is a position Perry brags about. His critics accuse the Governor of playing politics with the death penalty, and one would be hard pressed for evidence from Perry himself to rebut such a claim.

According to AP reports, Thomas was executed at 6:00 p.m. on November 19th as his mother cried uncontrollably, stomped her feet, and demanded to be taken from the witness area before her son was pronounced dead.

You've got to wonder just how far a re-election campaign can run on the blood of Texas citizens. Looks like Governor Perry is giving us a chance to find out.


6) Democrats Propose Surtax to Cover War Costs
Fri Nov 20, 1:43 pm ET

Senior House Democrats have introduced legislation that would impose a
surtax beginning in 2011 to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and

The bill was unveiled late Thursday by David R. Obey of Wisconsin,
chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and has the backing of John
P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Defense Appropriations
Subcommittee, and John B. Larson of Connecticut, chairman of the
Democratic Caucus.

"For the last year, as we've struggled to pass health care reform,
we've been told that we have to pay for the bill -- and the cost over
the next decade will be about a trillion dollars," the three lawmakers
said in a joint statement. "Now the president is being asked to
consider an enlarged counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan, which
proponents tell us will take at least a decade and would also cost
about a trillion dollars. But unlike the health care bill, that would
not be paid for. We believe that's wrong."

Discussing the idea earlier this month, Murtha said he knew the bill
would not be enacted and that advocates of a surtax were simply trying
to send a message about the moral obligation to pay for the wars.

"The only people who've paid any price for our military involvement in
Iraq and Afghanistan are our military families," Murtha, Obey and
Larson said in a joint statement. "We believe that if this war is to
be fought, it's only fair that everyone share the burden."

The bill would require the president to set the surtax so that it
fully pays for the previous year's war cost. But it would allow for a
one-year delay in the implementation of the tax if the president
determines that the economy is too weak to sustain that kind of tax
change. It also would exempt military members who have served in
combat since Sept. 11, 2001, along with their families, and the
families of soldiers killed in combat.


7) DC Agrees To Pay $13M Over Arrests Of Protesters
SARAH KARUSH, Associated Press Writer
Nov 23, 2009 6:02 pm US/Eastern

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The District of Columbia said Monday it has agreed to pay more than $13 million to settle a lawsuit by protesters arrested during demonstrations nine years ago.

The preliminary agreement includes a maximum payment of $18,000 to each of the 680 people who were arrested at the April 2000 protests tied to meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said the maximum payout, including attorneys' fees is $13.3 million. However, because of the cap on individual payouts, the total could be less, depending on how many people come forward.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, of the Partnership for Civil Justice, said that in addition to the $13.3 million for the class, there are some additional payments for specific plaintiffs who claim they were beaten, bringing the total to $13.7 million. Verheyden-Hilliard's group represented the plaintiffs.

According to the class-action lawsuit, protesters and bystanders were trapped on all sides by police and then arrested in a calculated attempt to disrupt days of planned protests. Many people were held for hours without access to food, water and restrooms, and some were held in stress positions, the plaintiffs alleged.

As part of the settlement, D.C. police assigned to demonstrations and officers from partner agencies will receive enhanced training, said Verheyden-Hilliard.

But Nickles said the police department has already changed significantly since the time of the mass arrests in 2000 and 2002.

"I'm committed to try to get this chapter of sound and fury closed with respect to these demonstration cases," Nickles said.

Earlier this month, the city settled a lawsuit with eight anti-war protesters arrested in 2002, agreeing to pay $450,000.

Verheyden-Hilliard said Monday's announcement sends an important message: "People are willing to spend as long as it takes to vindicate their rights."

The case is known as Becker et al. v. District of Columbia. It's named after Benjamin Becker. Now 25, Becker was a 16-year-old from Baltimore when he came to Washington to protest "against the broad, neoliberal, globalization agenda" with his father, who helped organize the demonstration.

After the arrests, Becker was separated from his father and taken to a juvenile facility.

His father, Brian Becker, ended up being held for hours in a stress position, with his right hand tied to his left foot, the elder Becker recalled. He refused to pay a fine and was the only demonstrator arrested that day who was brought to trial. He was acquitted of disorderly conduct and refusal to obey.


8) The Higher Education Fiscal Crisis Protects the Wealthy
By Peter Phillips
November 22, 2009

Police are arresting and attacking student protesters on University of California (UC) campuses again. "Why did he beat me I wasn't doing anything," screamed a young Cal Berkeley women student over KPFA radio on Friday evening November 20. Students are protesting the 32% increase in tuition imposed by the UC regents in a time of severe state deficits. The Board of Regents claims that they have no choice. Students will now have to pay over $10,000 in tuition annually for a public university education that was free only a few decades ago.

The corporate media spins the tuition protests as if we are all suffering during the recession. For example, the San Diego Union Tribune November 20 writes, "These students need a course in Reality 101. And the reality is that there is virtually no segment of American society that is not straining with the economic recession. With UC facing a $535 million budget gap due to state cuts, the regents have to confront reality and make tough choices. So should students."

Yet, the reality is something quite different. Our current budget crisis in California and the rest of the country has been artificially created by cutting taxes on the wealthiest people and corporations. The corporate elites in the US, the top 1% who own close to half the wealth, are the beneficiaries of massive tax cuts over the past few decades. While at the same time working people are paying more through increased sales and use taxes and higher public college tuition.

The wealthy hide their money abroad. Rachel Keeler with Dollars & Sense reports that over the years, trillions of dollars in both corporate profits and personal wealth have migrated offshore in search of rock-bottom tax rates and the comfort of no questions asked. Offshore banks now harbor an estimated $11.5 trillion in individual wealth alone, and were a significant contributing factor to the international economic downturn in 2008.

According to the California Budget Project, tax cuts enacted in California, since 1993, cost the state $11.3 billion dollars annually. Had the state continued taxing corporations and the wealthy at rates equal to those fifteen years ago there would not be a budget crisis in California. Even though a budget deficit was evident last year, California income tax laws were changed in February of 2009 to provide corporations with even greater tax savings-equal to over $2 billion per year. California is similar to the rest of the country where the wealthy and corporate elites enjoy economic protection through increased costs to working people.

Higher education has been cut in twenty-eight states in the 2009-10 school year and further, even more drastic cuts, are likely in the years ahead. California State University (CSU) system is planning to reduce enrollments by 40,000 students in the fall of 2010. The CSU Trustees have imposed steep tuition hikes and forced faculty and staff to take non-paid furlough days equal to 10% of salaries.

The students who are protesting tuition increases know they are being ripped off. They know that we are bailing out the rich with hundreds of billions dollars for Wall Street and massive budget cuts for the rest of us. The corporate media doesn't explain to over-taxed working families how they are paying more while the rich sock it away.

The current economic crisis is a shock and awe process designed to undermine low-cost higher education, force labor concessions from working people and protect the wealthy. We need higher taxes on the corporations and the top 1%, combined with free public college education and tax breaks for working families. And, we must have a media that tells us the truth about inequality and wealth. A true economic stimulus increases spending from the bottom up not the top down.

Peter Phillips is a professor of sociology at Sonoma State University, President of Media Freedom Foundation, and recent past director of Project Censored.


9) Blacks hit hard by economy's punch
34.5 percent of young African American men are unemployed
By V. Dion Haynes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

These days, 24-year-old Delonta Spriggs spends much of his time cooped up in his mother's one-bedroom apartment in Southwest Washington, the TV blaring soap operas hour after hour, trying to stay out of the streets and out of trouble, held captive by the economy. As a young black man, Spriggs belongs to a group that has been hit much harder than any other by unemployment.

Joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old black men has reached Great Depression proportions -- 34.5 percent in October, more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population. And last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment in the District, home to many young black men, rose to 11.9 percent from 11.4 percent, even as it stayed relatively stable in Virginia and Maryland.

His work history, Spriggs says, has consisted of dead-end jobs. About a year ago, he lost his job moving office furniture, and he hasn't been able to find steady work since. This summer he completed a construction apprenticeship program, he says, seeking a career so he could avoid repeating the mistake of selling drugs to support his 3-year-old daughter. So far the most the training program has yielded was a temporary flagger job that lasted a few days.

"I think we're labeled for not wanting to do nothing -- knuckleheads or hardheads," said Spriggs, whose first name is pronounced Dee-lon-tay. "But all of us ain't bad."

Construction, manufacturing and retail experienced the most severe job losses in this down economy, losses that are disproportionately affecting men and young people who populated those sectors. That is especially playing out in the District, where unemployment has risen despite the abundance of jobs in the federal government.

Traditionally the last hired and first fired, workers in Spriggs's age group have taken the brunt of the difficult economy, with cost-conscious employers wiping out the very apprenticeship, internship and on-the-job-training programs that for generations gave young people a leg up in the work world or a second chance when they made mistakes. Moreover, this generation is being elbowed out of entry-level positions by older, more experienced job seekers on the unemployment rolls who willingly trade down just to put food on the table.

The jobless rate for young black men and women is 30.5 percent. For young blacks -- who experts say are more likely to grow up in impoverished racially isolated neighborhoods, attend subpar public schools and experience discrimination -- race statistically appears to be a bigger factor in their unemployment than age, income or even education. Lower-income white teens were more likely to find work than upper-income black teens, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, and even blacks who graduate from college suffer from joblessness at twice the rate of their white peers.

Young black women have an unemployment rate of 26.5 percent, while the rate for all 16-to-24-year-old women is 15.4 percent.

Victoria Kirby, 22, has been among that number. In the summer of 2008, a D.C. publishing company where Kirby was interning offered her a job that would start upon her graduation in May 2009 from Howard University. But the company withdrew the offer in the fall of 2008 when the economy collapsed.

Kirby said she applied for administrative jobs on Capitol Hill but was told she was overqualified. She sought a teaching position in the D.C. public schools through the Teach for America program but said she was rejected because of a flood of four times the usual number of applicants.

Finally, she went back to school, enrolling in a master's of public policy program at Howard. "I decided to stay in school two more years and wait out the recession," Kirby said.
On a tightrope

The Obama administration is on a tightrope, balancing the desire to spend billions more dollars to create jobs without adding to the $1.4 trillion national deficit. Yet some policy experts say more attention needs to be paid to the intractable problems of underemployed workers -- those who like Spriggs may lack a high school diploma, a steady work history, job-readiness skills or a squeaky-clean background.

"Increased involvement in the underground economy, criminal activity, increased poverty, homelessness and teen pregnancy are the things I worry about if we continue to see more years of high unemployment," said Algernon Austin, a sociologist and director of the race, ethnicity and economy program at the Economic Policy Institute, which studies issues involving low- and middle-income wage earners.

Earlier this month, District officials said they will use $3.9 million in federal stimulus funds to provide 19 weeks of on-the-job training to 500 18-to-24-year-olds. But even those who receive training often don't get jobs.

"I thought after I finished the [training] program, I'd be working. I only had three jobs with the union and only one of them was longer than a week," Spriggs, a tall slender man wearing a black Nationals cap, said one afternoon while sitting at the table in the living room/dining room in his mother's apartment. "It has you wanting to go out and find other ways to make money. . . . [Lack of jobs is why] people go out hustling and doing what they can to get by."

"Give me a chance to show that I can work. Just give me a chance," added Spriggs, who is on probation for drug possession. "I don't want to think negative. I know the economy is slow. You got to crawl before you walk. I got to be patient. My biggest problem [which prompted the effort to sell drugs] is not being patient."

The economy's seismic shift has been an equal-opportunity offender, hurting various racial and ethnic groups, economic classes, ages, and white- and blue-collar job categories. Nevertheless, 16-to-24-year-olds face heavier losses, with a 19.1 percent unemployment rate, about nine points higher than the national average for the general population.

Their rate of employment in October was 44.9 percent, the lowest level in 61 years of record keeping, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment for men in their 20s and early 30s is at its lowest level since the Great Depression, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies.
Troubling consequences

Unemployment among young people is particularly troubling, economists say, because the consequences can be long-lasting. This might be the first generation that does not keep up with its parents' standard of living. Jobless teens are more likely to be jobless twenty-somethings. Once forced onto the sidelines, they likely will not catch up financially for many years. That is the case even for young people of all ethnic groups who graduate from college.

Lisa B. Kahn, an economics professor at Yale University who studied graduates during recessions in the 1980s, determined that the young workers hired during a down economy generally start off with lower wages than they otherwise would have and don't recover for at least a decade.

"In your first job, you're accumulating skills on how to do the job, learning by doing and getting training. If you graduate in a recession, you're in a [lesser] job, wasting your time," she said. "Once you switch into the job you should be in, you don't have the skills for that job."

Some studies examining how employers review black and white job applicants suggest that discrimination may be at play.

"Black men were less likely to receive a call back or job offer than equally qualified white men," said Devah Pager, a sociology professor at Princeton University, referring to her studies a few years ago of white and black male job applicants in their 20s in Milwaukee and New York. "Black men with a clean record fare no better than white men just released from prison."


10) The Department of Gomer Pyle
By Don Cooper
November 23, 2009

I was an average high school student. I had to attend summer school between my junior and senior years just to graduate with my class and even then, on graduation night, I wasn't sure there'd be a diploma waiting for me. I was always more interested in playing ball and chasing girls. I was more successful at the former than the latter.

After graduation I did manage to earn an athletic scholarship to play baseball at a small Florida college but after two years of playing ball, and earning less than one year's worth of college credit, I realized I was wasting my time as well as the college's resources and decided I needed to do something else until I figured out what I wanted to do.

So, being the son of a 20-year retired Air Force Tech Sergeant, I joined the military. I spoke to all the branches and in the end it was the Navy that won me over for a six-year enlistment. They enticed me with visions of advanced electronics training, fantastic marketability in the civilian world and a chance to see the world. Remember the old Navy slogan: "It's not just a job, it's an adventure." Oh boy!

From the moment I arrived in Orlando, Florida for my basic training I realized what a joke it was. If you want to know what military basic training is like just watch any episode of Gomer Pyle, it's exactly like that. Just as ridiculous.

The military always advertises that it wants the best and the brightest, but the first thing they do is try to break you down and then reprogram you. They want to reprogram you into a person that will follow orders without question; something tantamount to a frontal lobotomy that leaves subjects unable to think for themselves. Well then why do they need the best and the brightest if they are not meant to think for themselves? Given the chaos of battle, to strive to have a force that is not expected to think for themselves is not only ridiculous but dangerous as well yet the military, under the guise of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), regularly prosecutes soldiers who had the courage, intellect and wisdom to do what needed to be done in the field to preserve lives even though they weren't told to do it. That's called "disobeying a direct order" from some arrogant, bonehead hundreds or thousands of miles away.

One is taught that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things and the military will teach you the right way. Anyone not doing things the right way then is to be looked upon with contempt and suspicion. The military teaches you how to micromanage life, as if they know how to do this, to the point that you find yourself counting brush strokes when you brush your teeth. Every move is to have purpose and be approved or else you will be prosecuted by the UCMJ.

The military, see, is a complete subculture within America. All soldiers are considered to be government property, no kidding, and there exist regulations in the UCMJ that can mean loss of pay, confinement, and even jail time if that government property is damaged somehow or if it doesn't do what it is told to do. Again, even though the government says it wants the best and the brightest, if the sidewalks outside are icy during the winter soldiers are not allowed out for fear of them falling and injuring themselves. As ridiculous and asinine as that sounds it is fact; I lived it. So the broken logic is that we want the best to go fight in foreign lands and kill people and operate multi-million dollar equipment but we don't trust them to walk down an icy sidewalk without hurting themselves like thousands of civilians do daily in the wintertime.

It's an abusive subculture that demands abject subjectivity and a complete lack of reason, logic and intellect. The military trains people to be killers; puts those people in a war zone where at any moment, at any second their lives could be over and then prosecutes them if they don't kill someone in accordance with the "rules of engagement." That is to say: even though you are in a war zone there are rules to killing people and it doesn't matter that a month earlier you were teaching 8th-grade history and your national guard unit got called to battle in Iraq. You need to pull that trigger and end another human life but only after that person clearly tries to kill you or else you can be prosecuted under the UCMJ for murder. I'll let you marinate on that thought for a second.

I've never killed anyone but I don't think you have to in order to imagine what that could do to a rational person's psyche. I would imagine you would have to put yourself into a mental state that disassociates what you've always known to be reality and convince yourself that somehow what you are doing is right; that if you don't kill that other guy, he will kill you, so you pull the trigger.

Then these poor souls come home and are expected to re-associate their minds with the reality of a civilized society because if they don't then they will be prosecuted under the UCMJ for insubordination or worse: they might kill someone. The whole thing is a study in mind control conducted by the least-educated people in our society.

It still amazes me how parents brag about their children serving in the military in Afghanistan or Iraq. They talk about how some Arabs dropped planes on their heads on 9/11/01 so they are all for going over there and killing as many of those sons-a-bitches as possible and damn proud that their children are helping make the world a safer place. Who's going to help the make the world a safer place from America?

Don Cooper is a Florida native, Navy veteran, economist, and editor of the daily non-partisan column Qaoss.com.

Copyright (c) 2009 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.


11) Obama Says He Intends to 'Finish the Job' in Afghanistan
November 25, 2009

WASHINGTON - President Obama said on Tuesday that he will announce his decision on how many more troops to send to Afghanistan next week, and that it is his intention to "finish the job" that began with the overthrow of the Taliban government in the fall of 2001.

Mr. Obama, offering a tantalizing preview of what looms as one of the momentous decisions of his presidency, said he would tell the American people about "a comprehensive strategy" embracing civilian and diplomatic efforts as well as the continuing military campaign.

While he avoided any hints of the new troop levels he foresees in Afghanistan, the president signaled that he will not be talking about a short-term commitment but rather an effort muscular enough to "dismantle and degrade" the enemy and ensure that "Al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot operate" in the region.

The president commented during an appearance with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India after what Mr. Obama called a "detailed discussion" of regional issues with the Indian leader, including Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama said he would talk about the "obligations" of America's allies in fostering peace in Afghanistan, and that the United States would be acting not unilaterally but rather as part of "a broader international community." And it will be up to the Afghan people to bring security to their homeland, with the help of training and other outside assistance, the president said.

The president spoke soon after administration officials said he had conducted the final meeting of his military review for Afghanistan, and that he is planning to explain his decision in an address to the nation, probably next Tuesday. Mr. Obama did not specify a day for his speech, and he jokingly told journalists he had already given them "a sufficient preview to last until after Thanksgiving."

The chief White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said Tuesday morning that "after completing a rigorous final meeting, President Obama has the information he wants and needs to make his decision, and he will announce that decision within days."

For two hours on Monday evening, Mr. Obama held his ninth meeting in the Situation Room with his war council. The session began at 8:13 p.m., aides said, and ended at 10:10 p.m.

Mr. Obama's military and national security advisers came back to him with answers he had requested in previous meetings, most of which focused on these questions: Where are the off-ramps for the military? And what is the exit strategy?

The conversation settled around sending about 30,000 more American troops, two officials said, the first of which would deploy early next year to be in place in southern or eastern Afghanistan by the spring. The troop reinforcements would most likely be sent in waves, according to an official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss war strategy.

The White House has indicated recently that Mr. Obama has been studying several alternative approaches - including varying numbers of troops - with the intent of picking what he considers the best features of each.

Mr. Obama did not announce his specific decision to his advisers. He is scheduled to stay at the White House over the Thanksgiving holiday to finalize his decision, as the White House plans to prepare for what could be Mr. Obama's first prime-time address to the nation from the Oval Office.

The venue of the announcement has not been decided, however. While an Oval Office address fits the gravity of the moment, one official said Tuesday that a full-length speech - rather than a short message, delivered as the president sits behind a desk - is a more likely way for Mr. Obama to explain one of the most important decisions yet in his presidency.

For the first time, Peter R. Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, joined the group of advisers in the White House Situation Room on Monday evening - a strong indication that the president's address would allude to the enormous costs of the military effort.

A photograph released by the White House shows Mr. Orszag sitting four seats from the president, next to Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations.

As the White House prepares for how Mr. Obama will explain his decision to the nation, the president is trying to allay deep concerns within his own party.

The first in a series of meetings with Congressional leader will come later on Tuesday, when Mr. Obama plans to meet at 3:10 p.m. in the Oval Office with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That meeting is to be followed by a private session with Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at 4:30 p.m.

The White House is preparing for the president's announcement to take place next Tuesday evening, aides said, which would probably be followed by hearings in the House and Senate. But the date could be changed, one official said, depending on briefings with Congress and allied leaders.

While Mr. Obama is expected by several of his advisers to announce sending more than 20,000 new troops - perhaps closer to the 40,000, as recommended by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal - the White House is working to make the announcement more than about simply the number of troops. It will include an outline of an exit strategy, officials said.


12) U.S. Fund for Bank Deposit Insurance Falls Into the Red
November 25, 2009

The government-administered insurance fund that protects depositors fell into the red for the first time since the fallout from the savings-and-loan crisis of the early 1990s as the pace of bank failures accelerated.

The fund had a negative balance of $8.2 billion at the end of the third quarter, federal regulators said Tuesday. Bank customers, however, should remain confident that their deposits would be protected since most of the amount reflects money Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation has already set aside to cover the losses from future bank failures.

Officials of the F.D.I.C. said in October that the deposit insurance fund had been depleted, but Tuesday's third-quarter report card on the banking industry marked the first time that hard numbers had been released. Even amid early signs that the economy is recovering, the report suggested that the country's 8,100 lenders remain in fragile condition.

In its state of the industry report, the F.D.I.C. reported that banks posted a $2.8 billion gain in the third quarter, after a $3.7 billion loss in the previous period. Meanwhile, the number of "problem banks" that run the biggest risk of collapse increased to 552, from 416 in the second quarter. Bad loans of virtually every stripe - credit cards, mortgages, small business and commercial real estate - continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace.

"The credit adversity we have been discussing for some time remains with us, and we expect it will be a couple of more quarters before we see a meaningful improvement in that trend," Sheila C. Bair, the F.D.I.C. chairwoman, said. "I am optimistic that if we address these problems head on, we will see clear signs of improvement in bank earnings and lending in 2010.

Even so, the number of bank failures will probably keep climbing. So far, the F.D.I.C. has seized and sold 124 banks in 2009, and analysts expect hundreds more to collapse in the months ahead. That has put significant pressure on the F.D.I.C. fund, which posted a negative balance for the first time since 1992 when regulators cleaned up the carnage from hundreds of failed thrifts and other commercial lenders.

Federal officials have also taken action to replenish the fund. The agency recently approved plans calling for industry to lend money to the insurance fund by ordering banks to prepay annual assessments that would otherwise have been due through 2012.

That move is expected to add about $45 billion to the fund, which stood at $34.6 billion a year ago, but should avoid straining bank earnings thanks to favorable accounting treatment. It also averts the political risk of tapping an emergency credit line from the Treasury Department, though some banking experts believe such action may still be necessary. The industry report card also showed how the banks troubles have spread. Two years ago, the problems seemed to be contained to a handful of big banks, which took large markdowns on the value of complex mortgage assets and other securities.

But as the big banks have regained their swagger from big trading profits over the last three quarters, the problems afflicting the bulk of the industry's lenders - soured loans made to consumers and property developers - have grown considerably worse. Over all, banks charged off $50.8 billion in the third quarter, or 2.71 percent of assets. That is the highest charge-off rate in any quarter since the government began collecting data in 1984.

More banks have also collapsed because of the bad debts. Federal regulators seized 50 banks in the third quarter, including regional players like Colonial Bank of Alabama, Guaranty Financial of Texas and Corus Bancshares of Chicago. That was roughly the twice the total number of banks that failed in 2008.

The high cost of the failures has strained the deposit insurance fund, which thousand of banks support by paying quarterly premiums. As of the end of the third quarter, its balance stood at negative $8.2 billion. The bulk of the fund's losses stem from money that regulators set aside to cover future failures, allowing it to operate in the red.

F.D.I.C. officials expect that bank failures will cost the insurance fund $100 billion over the next five years. More than half of that cost has already been accounted for, while the new prepayment plan is expected to cover the rest. If losses grew considerably worse, officials might have to impose additional special assessments on banks or draw on the Treasury's backup credit lines.

In September, Ms. Bair said she did not anticipate having to immediately tap that line of credit, although she did not rule it out. "I never say never," Ms. Bair said at the time.


13) No 'No More Wilderness'
NYT Editorial
November 24, 2009

In 2003, Gale Norton, then the secretary of the interior, and Michael Leavitt, then the governor of Utah, struck a deal that removed federal protections from about 2.6 million acres of public land in Utah that the Clinton administration had designated as potential wilderness. At the same time, Ms. Norton disavowed her department's longstanding authority to identify, study and recommend new areas for wilderness protection.

This "no more wilderness" policy, as it came to be known, exposed huge swaths of federal land throughout the Rocky Mountain West to oil and gas drilling and other commercial uses.

President Obama's interior secretary, Ken Salazar, has reversed many of the Bush administration's damaging environmental policies. Maddeningly, however, the "no more wilderness" policy is still in place. It is past time for Mr. Salazar to renounce it.

Representative Maurice Hinchey, a Democrat from upstate New York, and 89 other House members have written to Mr. Salazar urging him to reject the Norton-Leavitt arrangement - a back-room deal with no standing in law - and restore interim protections for the land in Utah until Congress can decide whether to protect the area permanently. (Mr. Hinchey has introduced a bill - the Red Rock Wilderness Act - that would confer wilderness protections on those acres, plus about 7 million more.)

More broadly, they want Mr. Salazar to reject the destructive philosophy underlying the Norton-Leavitt arrangement by reasserting the interior secretary's responsibility to help protect America's fragile landscapes from oil and gas leasing, off-road vehicle use and mining.

Under the law, only Congress can designate permanent wilderness - areas where all commercial activity is prohibited. But Congress also authorized the Interior Department to periodically inventory federal lands to identify those with "wilderness characteristics" and to give them interim protections until Congress can make the final decision. These areas are known as wilderness study areas.

It is this authority that Ms. Norton said she did not want and that Mr. Salazar should promptly reclaim.


14) Economy Is Forcing Young Adults Back Home in Big Numbers, Survey Finds
November 24, 2009

For more young adults, there is no place like home for the holidays, and for the rest of the year, too. Ten percent of adults younger than 35 told the Pew Research Center that they had moved back in with their parents because of the recession.

They also blamed the economy for other lifestyle decisions. Twelve percent had gotten a roommate to share expenses. Fifteen percent said they had postponed getting married, and 14 percent said they had delayed having a baby.

In the Pew study, 13 percent of parents with grown children said one of their adult sons or daughters had moved back home in the past year. According to Pew, of all grown children who lived with their parents, 2 in 10 were full-time students, one-quarter were unemployed and about one-third said they had lived on their own before returning home.

According to the census, 56 percent of men 18 to 24 years old and 48 percent of women were either still under the same roof as their parents or had moved back home.

A smaller share of 16-to-24-year-olds - 46 percent - is currently employed than at any time since the government began collecting that data in 1948.

Meanwhile, the portion of adults 18 to 29 who lived alone declined to 7.3 percent in 2009 from 7.9 percent in 2007, according to the Current Population Survey. A decline that big was recorded only twice before over three decades, in the early 1980s and the early 1990s during or after recessions.


15) Resolution adopted by the Delegates Meeting of the San Francisco Labor Council on Monday, November 23, 2009.


For a Comprehensive Labor-Led Campaign for Economic Recovery, including a National March in the spring of 2010 in Washington, D.C. for Jobs, an End to the Wars and Occupations, Affordable Healthcare and Housing For All, a Sharp Increase in Corporate Taxation, and Full Funding for Public Education and Social Services

Whereas, despite media claims of some economic recovery, the economic crisis for working people is continuing unabated with growing unemployment and spreading home foreclosures and evictions, and

Whereas, the economic crisis is producing severe public budget deficits, underfunding public education and state and municipal services, and pressuring public officials to privatize the public's resources and well-being, and

Whereas, the government and the Federal Reserve have funneled trillions of public dollars to the financial institutions whose recklessness and greed created this economic crisis, while continuing to fund two major wars that are draining our economy, dismantling our public institutions, and preventing any meaningful economic recovery, and

Whereas, the government should bail out working people, not the banks, and

Whereas, there exists a standing demand by a majority of the American people to end the continued war and occupation of Iraq, with growing mainstream opposition to the war and occupation in Afghanistan.

Therefore be it resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council calls upon the AFL-CIO and Change to Win leadership and affiliates to mobilize all possible union members and their allies and friends in a massive SOLIDARITY DAY III MARCH on Washington D.C. in the spring of 2010 to demand redirecting the economy toward peacetime jobs for the American people and Green investment, an end to the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, affordable housing and healthcare for all, a sharp increase in taxation on the wealthy and corporations, and full funding for public education and social services, as part of a strategic campaign for an economic recovery plan for working people, and

Be it further resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council hereby establishes a committee to mobilize our affiliates and their members to participate in the above strategic campaign and Solidarity Day III, and

Be it finally resolved that this resolution be forwarded immediately to the Bay Area Central Labor Councils, the California Federation of Labor, the USLAW National Assembly in Chicago and our community allies.

Fraternally submitted,

Alan Benjamin, delegate OPEIU Local 3
Tom Edminster, delegate, UESF
Allan Fisher, delegate AFT 2121
Conny Ford, Vice pres., SFLC; Sec-Treas., OPEIU Local 3
Denis Mosgofian, delegate, GCC Division-IBT Local 4
Dave Welsh, delegate, NALC Branch 214


16) Bagram: A living hell
By Paddy McGuffin
Friday 20 November 2009

The US military has allowed journalists into its newly expanded secret detention centre at Bagram air base in Afghanistan this week.

The base has been described by campaigners as Guantanamo Bay's "more evil twin" and the allegations of torture and murder within its secretive walls continue to this day.

The US claims this is proof of its determination to provide greater transparency and openness in its policy of extraordinary rendition and detention without trial.

The claim was somewhat undermined by the fact that the touring journalists had no access to the hundreds of inmates held at the facility.

Omar Deghayes is one man who has personal experience of both Bagram and Guantanamo. He was not impressed by US grandstanding.

He had seen it all before and has strong reason to doubt the announcement of improved conditions at Bagram.

Having suffered hellish torture there himself, he has now discovered that his brother-in-law has been detained at Bagram for the last two months and, if anything, he appears to have been treated even more brutally.

Deghayes was born in Libya in 1969. He was forced to flee the country with his mother and siblings after the torture and murder of his father by the Gadaffi regime.

Arriving in Brighton as a teenager, he went on to study law in Wolverhampton. The family were granted refugee status here in 1987.

In 2002 Deghayes was arrested in Pakistan and was "sold" to the US for a bounty. He was taken first to Bagram and then Guantanamo, where he was imprisoned without trial for five years.

During his time at Guantanamo he was blinded in one eye, which was already damaged since childhood, after guards repeatedly rubbed pepper spray in it.

The only "evidence" against him was a clip from an Islamic propaganda film showing Chechen fighters, one of which the US authorities claimed was him.

It later transpired that the image was not of Deghayes but of an Abu Walid, a Chechan rebel who had been killed some time in 2004.

Deghayes had in fact never been to Chechnya and had always maintained as much.

Speaking to the Morning Star, he gave his opinion on the US press tour of Bagram.

"This is how they manipulate things," he says.

"I have experienced it personally at Guantanamo. They gave guided tours of the camp like it was a tour of the Himalayas or something."

In 2002 a group of congressmen were given a guided tour of "Gitmo," albeit a much sanitised one.

Following his tour of the facility Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe told CNN: "We are giving very good treatment to these people.

"Quite frankly, I personally think better than they deserve. We're dealing with terrorists here."

As if to complete the bizarre theme park atmosphere, each congressman was given a souvenir cap, a Guantanamo flag and a DVD of their visit to take home with them.

Select journalists were also given guided tours, reminiscent of this week's at Bagram.

Human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, who represented Deghayes and many other Guantanamo prisoners, notes in his invaluable book Bad Men that, for one tour, "there was a show block in camp four ... there was a show interrogation cell in camp five, designed to make solitary confinement look like a private suite."

He goes on to say that "various military personnel were wheeled out for interviews about one humanitarian highlight of the prison or another.

"Whenever an inconvenient question might arise, they could shelter politely behind the barricade of institutional security."

Deghayes agrees. "Those on the tour, the congressmen and reporters were not allowed to meet the prisoners. They were shown all the new facilities and it was like a nice party for them.

"Then they went back and gave glowing reports about how good it all was there," he says.

"It was only when a whistle-blower told the real story that they became aware of what it was really like.

"The Obama administration is just copying the same policy as Bush. It is the same bureaucrats giving the same camouflage and using the same deceptions."

Asked what credence he gave to the US claims of improved conditions at Bagram, he stated: "My brother-in-law is in Bagram now.

"He was just picked up a few months ago. He went to visit his in-laws in Afghanistan and they arrested him.

"My sister was finally able to visit him and she said the conditions were even worse than when I was there.

"She said he was in very bad condition. His eyes and face were battered and bleeding. It is worse there now than it ever was.

"They are saying there are all these new facilities, but that is not the issue," says Deghayes.

"The real issue is that they are subjecting people to brutal and inhuman torture."

Perhaps the most perfidious aspect to the situation in Bagram is that the US has stated that Afghan nationals held there have no legal rights.

Foreign nationals held there are said to have "some" legal rights, but those imprisoned in their own country by an invading foreign power have none.

The only way to ensure the freedom of those who still suffer torture and indefinite imprisonment is for the people of the US, Britain and elsewhere to continue to campaign and vocally criticise the policy. This is something Deghayes is keen to emphasise.

"When Obama came into power it was under a mandate of closing Guantanamo and stopping these abuses, but he has not done it. He has not come up with any new system," says Deghayes.

"There is no legal system, no court system in Guantanamo or Bagram.

"Everyone who has been released from either Guantanamo or Bagram has been released due to campaigning and pressure brought on their behalf, not by any legal system or by being found innocent. Many people have been told they should have been released but are still there.

"I know from personal experience that campaigning is the only thing that works and we will continue to campaign for the release of my brother-in-law and all the others."
Bagram's brutal record

Bagram air base is located 27 miles north of Kabul and is estimated to house in excess of 600 prisoners. The recent extension will bring the number of prisoners it can hold to over 1,000.

The reason for this extension of the facility is seen by many to indicate an intention to increase US troop numbers and presumably therefore prisoners in the region.

The base was originally used to process prisoners during the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 - part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

But since then Bagram has been filled with detainees held for years without charge, trial or legal rights.

Unlike Guantanamo where, after a hard-fought struggle, US lawyers have been granted access to detainees, those incarcerated in Bagram remain in a legal black hole.

Since 2002 there have been numerous reports of torture and at least two cases of murder.

In one of the worst cases a taxi driver by the name of Dilawar was beaten to death there in December 2002. His body was found to have suffered over 100 savage blows to the legs, apparently for the sadistic amusement of guards.

The autopsy report said that his legs had become "pulpified" and that he had died from blunt force trauma.

Omar Deghayes described his time at Bagram as follows: "Lying on the floor of the compound, all night I would hear the screams of others in the rooms above us as they were tortured and interrogated.

"My number would be called out and I would have to go to the gate. They chained me and put a bag over my head, dragging me off for my own turn.

"They would force me to my knees for questioning and threaten me with more torture."


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