Saturday, April 04, 2009



Sat. April 11 - 11:00 am
Corporate Bail-Out Protest
On the sidewalk in front of the Federal Reserve Bank
101 Market St., San Francisco
near Embarcadero BART Station
Bail out the people, not the CEO's!
Peacefully protest the greed that resulted in 12 million unemployed and foreclosures up 81%.
We want our economy restored for the public.
Sign up at:
There will be protests in over 40 other cities nationwide at the same time.
Organized via A New Way Forward.


Celebrate the release of the new book by Mumia Abu-Jamal:

"Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners vs. the USA"

Friday, April 24th (Mumia's birthday!), 6:30 P.M.
Humanist Hall
411 - 28th Street, Oakland

$25.00 donation or what you can afford.


Angely Y. Davis
Mistah F.A.B.
Lynne Stewart
Tory Serra
Kiilu Nyasha
JR Minister of Information POCC
Ed Mead
Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia
Molotov Mouths

Prison Radio, 415-648-4505




1) One Oath Leads to Another
April 2, 2009

2) U.S. Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly
April 3, 2009

3) United States Delivers Massive New Weapons Shipment to Israel, Confirmed by Pentagon, Says Amnesty International
Human Rights Organization Urges President Obama to Halt Further Exports
Amnesty International Press Release
Wednesday, April 1, 2009, for release at 7 p.m. EDT
Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150,

4) Workers stage sit-in after shock redundancies
By Terri Judd
Thursday, 2 April 2009

5) Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques - IDF fashion 2009
By Uri Blau
Tags: Israel News, IDF, Gaza
Last update - 22:41 20/03/2009

6) 6) Jury Says Professor Was Wrongly Fired
April 3, 2009

7) Jobless Rate Hits 8.5% as March Payrolls Fall by 663,000
April 4, 2009

8) Fannie and Freddie Detail Retention Bonuses
April 3, 2009, 11:11 am
Updated at 12:25 p.m.

9) Iowa Court Voids Gay Marriage Ban
April 4, 2009

10) Former California Homeowners Lash Out at Builder
April 3, 2009

11) The Words Have Changed, but Have the Policies?
"So if not a war on terror, what then? 'Overseas contingency operations.'
And terrorist attacks themselves? 'Man-caused disasters.'"
On the White House
April 3, 2009

12) Finding Hope Online, and Hoping a Job Follows
April 3, 2009

13) Patient Money
Getting a Health Policy When You're Already Sick
April 4, 2009

14) Israel on Trial
Op-Ed Contributor
April 4, 2009

15) Financial Industry Paid Millions to Obama Aide
April 4, 2009


1) One Oath Leads to Another
April 2, 2009

Stephen Chi was born in Norway to Chinese immigrant parents, grew up in Sweden, received undergraduate and graduate degrees at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, mastered five languages and now works as an information technology consultant in New York City.

But for all the experiences his peripatetic life has given him, it has also left him with a profound sense of rootlessness. So he recently applied to enlist in the United States Army.

"I don't feel like I belong anywhere," Mr. Chi, 30, said on Wednesday. "I wanted to become part of something bigger."

Until last month, Mr. Chi's application would have been rejected outright because only American citizens and permanent residents - immigrants who carry green cards - were permitted to enlist in the American military. But under a new program that began Feb. 23 and is intended to increase the number of highly skilled soldiers, the American military is now allowing some temporary immigrants to enlist.

In a public ceremony in Times Square on Wednesday, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, swore in 16 of those new recruits, including Mr. Chi. The others hailed from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Korea and Sweden.

They gathered outside the recruiting station on the traffic island where Broadway and Seventh Avenue converge, pulled drab olive Army T-shirts over their civilian tops and, shivering against the cold, followed General Casey in a vow of allegiance to the military and to the United States.

"Our diversity only strengthens us," General Casey said in an interview with reporters after the ceremony.

The new program, known as Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, is intended to address shortages among soldiers with medical expertise and foreign language skills. It will be limited to 1,000 enlistees in the first year, most of whom will enter the Army, though the American military command plans to expand it to include other branches and thousands more recruits every year.

It is open to foreigners who have lived legally in the United States for at least two years on temporary visas, including high-skilled employment visas and student visas. Illegal immigrants will continue to be barred from enlisting.

As an enticement, the government is offering an expedited path to citizenship and will waive naturalization fees.

Of 4,833 applicants so far, 52 people have enlisted, including Wednesday's group, while 445 have been disqualified, military officials said.

Of the 52 new enlistees, 11 have master's degrees, 31 have bachelor's degrees and 4 have associate's degrees or the equivalent, officials said. The remaining six are high school graduates.

At least 24 of the soldiers speak Korean, 11 speak Hindi, 9 speak a Chinese dialect, 3 speak Russian, 3 speak Arabic and one speaks Urdu.

The naturalization process for most foreigners on temporary visas can often take more than a decade. But people in the new program will be able to become citizens within six months, officials said. To maintain their citizenship, the enlistees must honorably complete their service, which ranges from two to four years of active duty, plus reserve duty, depending on their specialty.

Many of the new recruits, however, said after the ceremony that while the streamlined citizenship process was very attractive, it had not been the leading factor in their decision.

Indeed, several said they had applied to enlist without even knowing about the new program.

Toniya Mishra, an Indian citizen who holds a master's degree in industrial engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology, said she applied a day before the introduction of the program. She had been laid off from her job at a New Jersey company that makes pharmaceutical software; the firm was cutting staff because of the economic downturn.

Ms. Mishra, 24, said she applied after seeing a job posting on the Internet seeking engineers for the Army, but said she did not expect to receive a call because of her nationality.

Umesh Sharma, 37, who holds a master's degree in international education policy from Harvard, first tried to enlist in 2006 but was rejected because of his Indian citizenship. He reapplied last month when he read about the new program.

Mr. Sharma, who has been working for a private tutoring firm in Virginia, said he was motivated to enlist as a way of helping developing countries in areas like education reform. He enlisted as an infantryman because he wanted "to be on the front lines and associate with the society, face to face.

"If I'm in the Army, I want to be really involved," he added.

Mr. Chi has an additional hurdle to clear: He still has not told his parents that he has joined the Army. "I guess I have to tell them sometime," he said, chuckling uncomfortably at the thought. But he said he did not plan to break the news to them until after he returned from basic training, by which time, he said, he would be on his way in his new career - "and it's too late."


2) U.S. Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly
April 3, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of people filing new jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week, while those continuing to receive benefits hit a record for the 10th consecutive week.

Both figures showed that the labor market remained weak and was unlikely to recover anytime soon.

The Labor Department said initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to a seasonally adjusted 669,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 657,000. That total is above analysts' expectations and is the highest in more than 26 years, though the work force has grown by about half since then.

The tally of laid-off workers claiming benefits for more than a week rose 161,000 to 5.73 million, setting a record for the 10th week in a row. That also was above analysts' expectations and indicated that unemployed workers were having difficulty finding new jobs.

As a proportion of the work force, the number of people on the jobless benefit rolls is the highest since May 1983.

Employers are eliminating jobs and taking other cost-cutting measures to deal with sharp reductions in consumer and business spending. The current recession, now in its 17th month, is the longest since World War II.

The department is expected to issue on Friday another dismal monthly employment report. Economists forecast that the report will show employers cut 654,000 jobs in March, and that the unemployment rate will increase to 8.5 percent, from 8.1 percent.

Companies cut their payrolls by 651,000 jobs in February, a record third month of job losses above 600,000.

A private survey Wednesday said businesses cut 742,000 jobs in March. Employment at medium-size and small companies fell the sharpest - by a combined 614,000. The rest of the job cuts came from big firms - those with 500 or more workers - according to the report from Automatic Data Processing and Macroeconomic Advisers.

The Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus package, approved by Congress in February, is trying to counter the recession by providing money for public works projects, extending unemployment benefits and helping states avoid budget cuts.

In a second report on Thursday, the Commerce Department said that orders to factories posted an increase in February after six monthly declines, providing another glimmer of hope that the economy's deep plunge might be starting to moderate.

Orders for manufactured products rose by 1.8 percent in February, much better than the 1.1 percent decline that economists had expected.

The rebound may well prove temporary given all the forces that are continuing to batter the economy. But still, analysts said a string of better-than-expected reports in recent days could at least be signaling that the severe slide might be starting to ease slightly.


3) United States Delivers Massive New Weapons Shipment to Israel, Confirmed by Pentagon, Says Amnesty International
Human Rights Organization Urges President Obama to Halt Further Exports
Amnesty International Press Release
Wednesday, April 1, 2009, for release at 7 p.m. EDT
Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150,

(New York) -- Amnesty International today revealed that the United States has sent a massive new shipment of arms to Israel -- about 14,000 tons worth -- despite evidence that U.S. weapons were misused against civilians in the Gaza attacks. The unloading of the shipment in Israel was confirmed by the Pentagon. The human rights organization called on President Obama to suspend future arms shipments to Israel until there is no longer substantial risk of human rights violations.

Amnesty International said the Wehr Elbe, a German cargo ship, which was chartered and controlled by the U.S Military Sealift Command, docked and unloaded its cargo on March 22 at the Israeli port of Ashdod, about 25 miles north of Gaza.

The Pentagon confirmed the successful unloading of the ship, which left the United States for Israel last December 20, a week before the start of Israel's attacks on Gaza. Reportedly, the ship carried 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20 feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tons.

"Legally and morally, this U.S. arms shipment should have been halted by the Obama administration given the evidence of war crimes resulting from military equipment and munitions of this kind used by the Israeli forces," said Brian Wood, arms control campaign manager for Amnesty International. "Arms supplies in these circumstances are contrary to provisions in U.S. law."

Amnesty International has issued documented evidence that white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the United States were used to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes in Gaza. The human rights organization provided comprehensive details on munitions used in the fighting in a 37-page briefing paper, Fueling Conflict: Foreign Arms Supplies to Israel/Gaza, in February.

Asked about the Wehr Elbe, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Amnesty International that "the unloading of the entire U.S. munitions shipment was successfully completed at Ashdod [Israel] on March 22." The spokesperson said that the shipment was destined for a U.S. pre-positioned ammunition stockpile in Israel.

Under a U.S.-Israel agreement, munitions from this stockpile may be transferred for Israeli use if necessary. A State Department official told Amnesty International that Israel's use of U.S. weapons during the Gaza conflict are under review to see if Israel complied with U.S. law, but a conclusion has not yet been reached.

"There is a great risk that the new munitions may be used by the Israeli military to commit further violations of international law, like the ones committed during the war in Gaza," said Wood. "We are urging all governments to impose an immediate and comprehensive suspension of arms to Israel, and to all Palestinian armed groups, until there is no longer a substantial risk of serious human rights violations."

"The United States government now has ample evidence from the Gaza attacks indicating that the arms it is sending to Israel have been misused to kill and injure men, women and children and to destroy hundreds of millions of dollars of property. It can no longer send weapons to Israel while ignoring these facts," said Curt Goering, senior deputy executive director, Amnesty International USA, who was in the region during the Gaza crisis.

The United States was by far the largest supplier of weapons to Israel between 2004 and 2008. The U.S. government is also due to provide $30 billion in military aid to Israel, despite the blatant misuse of weaponry and munitions in Gaza and Lebanon by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). President Obama, according to published reports, has no plans to cut the billions of dollars in military aid promised to Israel under a new 10-year contract agreed in 2007 by the Bush administration. This new contract is a 25 percent increase, compared to the last contract agreed by the previous U.S. administration.

Amnesty International has documented suspected war crimes committed by the IDF and by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. On January 15, Amnesty International called on all governments to immediately suspend arms transfers to all parties to the Gaza conflict to prevent further violations being committed using munitions and other military equipment.


The Wehr Elbe sailed from North Carolina on December 20, after collecting its large cargo of U.S. munitions and was initially bound for the port of Navipe-Astakos on the west coast of Greece. Its transponder signal disappeared on January 12 when the vessel was sailing near Astakos. The ship was unable to dock due to a protest by the Greek Stop the War Coalition. The vessel was then tracked as it passed through the port of Augusta, on the Italian island of Sicily, and then near Gibraltar in mid-February, before reappearing on March 23 en route from Ashdod to the Black Sea port of Odessa where it docked on March 26 in berth 7. Amnesty International is now aware that the vessel docked in Ashdod on March 22 and reportedly offloaded over 300 containers.

Amnesty International first drew attention to this arms ship's voyage on January 15. The ship's charter, authorized by the Bush administration a week before Israel launched its attack on Gaza, was to carry 989 shipping containers of "containerized ammunition and other containerized ammunition supplies" from Sunny Point Military Ocean Terminal, North Carolina, to Ashdod, as listed in the contract. U.S. Military Sealift Command charters for a further two U.S. munitions shipments from Navipe-Astakos (Greece) to Ashdod, which explicitly included white phosphorus munitions, were announced on December 31 during the Gaza conflict and then cancelled on January 9, but a U.S. military spokesperson subsequently confirmed that the Pentagon was still seeking a way to also deliver those munitions.

Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that "no security assistance may be provided to any country, the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights." However, security assistance may be provided if the president certifies that "extraordinary circumstances" exist. Section 4 of the Arms Export Control Act authorizes the supply of U.S. military equipment and training only for lawful purposes of internal security, "legitimate self-defense," or participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations or other operations consistent with the U.N. Charter. The Leahy Law prohibits the United States from providing most forms of security assistance to any military or police unit when there is "credible evidence" that members of the unit are committing gross human rights violations.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Please visit for more information.


4) Workers stage sit-in after shock redundancies
By Terri Judd
Thursday, 2 April 2009

Angry workers were staging sit- ins at three car parts plants yesterday after suddenly being told that they had all lost their jobs

Employees of Visteon UK, which announced yesterday it was closing its plants in Basildon, Enfield and Belfast, refused to leave the factories. Men who had worked for the company for decades, whose fathers and sons had been employed by it, were given a few minutes notice to clear their lockers and leave on Tuesday.

Overnight a fightback at the Belfast plant, in which hundreds of workers staged a sit in, spread to the Essex and North London plants, where yesterday some workers were refusing to leave the building while others were on the roofs or at the gates. "20 Years' Work. Zero Minutes' Notice", read a placard being brandished by one man outside Visteon's Basildon plant, where the furnaces had gone quiet 24 hours earlier.

Frank Jepson, Unite spokesman, described the moment he was forced to call everyone together for a meeting in which the redundancies were announced. He said: "I went to tell three of them. One of them would not move. He had been there for 32 years and just carried on working. He was sheet white and they had to drag him away. He just looked at me and said, 'It is not true, is it?'"

The struggling auto parts manufacturer, which nine years ago was part of Ford, announced it had gone into administration on Tuesday and was axing 600 jobs as it closed the three plants.

At Basildon, where 173 were employed, the men were called off the production line at 1pm and told by administrators KPMG that they had had no alternative but to close the company an hour earlier, saying it had been severely hit by the economic downturn.

"It was like Dragons' Den. The four administrators stood in front of us and told us but wouldn't answer questions. There were security guards everywhere. Then they gave us two leaflets and told us to go," said Graham Thomas, who started work at the plant as a 21-year-old. "I have worked here for 30 years and in five minutes I had lost my job. It was like a bereavement last night. My wife was crying. I was crying."

The Visteon group has a workforce of 33,500 in 27 countries. Yesterday workers at Enfield, where 227 were made redundant, were occupying the site. Sinn Fein MP Gerry Adams MP went to talk to the 210 who lost their livelihoods at Belfast.

Unite officials are due to meet with Ford today to try to find a solution to workers' grievances over redundancy packages. They are threatening to picket Ford showrooms if it is not resolved. Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley said: "Our manufacturing sector is in crisis. It needs serious strategic and financial help, and it needs it now."


5) Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques - IDF fashion 2009
By Uri Blau
Tags: Israel News, IDF, Gaza
Last update - 22:41 20/03/2009

The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit's insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing. Elsewhere on the premises, the sketches are turned into plates used for imprinting the ordered items, mainly T-shirts and baseball caps, but also hoodies, fleece jackets and pants. A young Arab man from Jaffa supervises the workers who imprint the words and pictures, and afterward hands over the finished product.

Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children's graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques - these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription "Better use Durex," next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter's T-shirt from the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull's-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, "1 shot, 2 kills." A "graduation" shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, "No matter how it begins, we'll put an end to it."

There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, "Bet you got raped!" A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies - such as "confirming the kill" (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim's head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.
In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit's commanders. The latter, however, do not always have control over what gets printed, because the artwork is a private initiative of soldiers that they never hear about. Drawings or slogans previously banned in certain units have been approved for distribution elsewhere. For example, shirts declaring, "We won't chill 'til we confirm the kill" were banned in the past (the IDF claims that the practice doesn't exist), yet the Haruv battalion printed some last year.

The slogan "Let every Arab mother know that her son's fate is in my hands!" had previously been banned for use on another infantry unit's shirt. A Givati soldier said this week, however, that at the end of last year, his platoon printed up dozens of shirts, fleece jackets and pants bearing this slogan.

"It has a drawing depicting a soldier as the Angel of Death, next to a gun and an Arab town," he explains. "The text was very powerful. The funniest part was that when our soldier came to get the shirts, the man who printed them was an Arab, and the soldier felt so bad that he told the girl at the counter to bring them to him."

Does the design go to the commanders for approval?

The Givati soldier: "Usually the shirts undergo a selection process by some officer, but in this case, they were approved at the level of platoon sergeant. We ordered shirts for 30 soldiers and they were really into it, and everyone wanted several items and paid NIS 200 on average."

What do you think of the slogan that was printed?

"I didn't like it so much, but most of the soldiers wanted it."

Many controversial shirts have been ordered by graduates of snipers courses, which bring together soldiers from various units. In 2006, soldiers from the "Carmon Team" course for elite-unit marksmen printed a shirt with a drawing of a knife-wielding Palestinian in the crosshairs of a gun sight, and the slogan, "You've got to run fast, run fast, run fast, before it's all over." Below is a drawing of Arab women weeping over a grave and the words: "And afterward they cry, and afterward they cry." [The inscriptions are riffs on a popular song.] Another sniper's shirt also features an Arab man in the crosshairs, and the announcement, "Everything is with the best of intentions."

G., a soldier in an elite unit who has done a snipers course, explained that, "it's a type of bonding process, and also it's well known that anyone who is a sniper is messed up in the head. Our shirts have a lot of double entendres, for example: 'Bad people with good aims.' Every group that finishes a course puts out stuff like that."

When are these shirts worn?

G. "These are shirts for around the house, for jogging, in the army. Not for going out. Sometimes people will ask you what it's about."

Of the shirt depicting a bull's-eye on a pregnant woman, he said: "There are people who think it's not right, and I think so as well, but it doesn't really mean anything. I mean it's not like someone is gonna go and shoot a pregnant woman."

What is the idea behind the shirt from July 2007, which has an image of a child with the slogan "Smaller - harder!"?

"It's a kid, so you've got a little more of a problem, morally, and also the target is smaller."

Do your superiors approve the shirts before printing?

"Yes, although one time they rejected some shirt that was too extreme. I don't remember what was on it."

These shirts also seem pretty extreme. Why draw crosshairs over a child - do you shoot kids?

'We came, we saw'

"As a sniper, you get a lot of extreme situations. You suddenly see a small boy who picks up a weapon and it's up to you to decide whether to shoot. These shirts are half-facetious, bordering on the truth, and they reflect the extreme situations you might encounter. The one who-honest-to-God sees the target with his own eyes - that's the sniper."

Have you encountered a situation like that?

"Fortunately, not involving a kid, but involving a woman - yes. There was someone who wasn't holding a weapon, but she was near a prohibited area and could have posed a threat."

What did you do?

"I didn't take it" (i.e., shoot).

You don't regret that, I imagine.

"No. Whomever I had to shoot, I shot."

A shirt printed up just this week for soldiers of the Lavi battalion, who spent three years in the West Bank, reads: "We came, we saw, we destroyed!" - alongside images of weapons, an angry soldier and a Palestinian village with a ruined mosque in the center.

A shirt printed after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza for Battalion 890 of the Paratroops depicts a King Kong-like soldier in a city under attack. The slogan is unambiguous: "If you believe it can be fixed, then believe it can be destroyed!"

Y., a soldier/yeshiva student, designed the shirt. "You take whoever [in the unit] knows how to draw and then you give it to the commanders before printing," he explained.

What is the soldier holding in his hand?

Y. "A mosque. Before I drew the shirt I had some misgivings, because I wanted it to be like King Kong, but not too monstrous. The one holding the mosque - I wanted him to have a more normal-looking face, so it wouldn't look like an anti-Semitic cartoon. Some of the people who saw it told me, 'Is that what you've got to show for the IDF? That it destroys homes?' I can understand people who look at this from outside and see it that way, but I was in Gaza and they kept emphasizing that the object of the operation was to wreak destruction on the infrastructure, so that the price the Palestinians and the leadership pay will make them realize that it isn't worth it for them to go on shooting. So that's the idea of 'we're coming to destroy' in the drawing."

According to Y., most of these shirts are worn strictly in an army context, not in civilian life. "And within the army people look at it differently," he added. "I don't think I would walk down the street in this shirt, because it would draw fire. Even at my yeshiva I don't think people would like it."

Y. also came up with a design for the shirt his unit printed at the end of basic training. It shows a clenched fist shattering the symbol of the Paratroops Corps.

Where does the fist come from?

"It's reminiscent of [Rabbi Meir] Kahane's symbol. I borrowed it from an emblem for something in Russia, but basically it's supposed to look like Kahane's symbol, the one from 'Kahane Was Right' - it's a sort of joke. Our company commander is kind of gung-ho."

Was the shirt printed?

"Yes. It was a company shirt. We printed about 100 like that."

This past January, the "Night Predators" demolitions platoon from Golani's Battalion 13 ordered a T-shirt showing a Golani devil detonating a charge that destroys a mosque. An inscription above it says, "Only God forgives."

One of the soldiers in the platoon downplays it: "It doesn't mean much, it's just a T-shirt from our platoon. It's not a big deal. A friend of mine drew a picture and we made it into a shirt."

What's the idea behind "Only God forgives"?

The soldier: "It's just a saying."

No one had a problem with the fact that a mosque gets blown up in the picture?

"I don't see what you're getting at. I don't like the way you're going with this. Don't take this somewhere you're not supposed to, as though we hate Arabs."

After Operation Cast Lead, soldiers from that battalion printed a T-shirt depicting a vulture sexually penetrating Hamas' prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied by a particularly graphic slogan. S., a soldier in the platoon that ordered the shirt, said the idea came from a similar shirt, printed after the Second Lebanon War, that featured Hassan Nasrallah instead of Haniyeh.

"They don't okay things like that at the company level. It's a shirt we put out just for the platoon," S. explained.

What's the problem with this shirt?

S.: "It bothers some people to see these things, from a religious standpoint ..."

How did people who saw it respond?

"We don't have that many Orthodox people in the platoon, so it wasn't a problem. It's just something the guys want to put out. It's more for wearing around the house, and not within the companies, because it bothers people. The Orthodox mainly. The officers tell us it's best not to wear shirts like this on the base."

The sketches printed in recent years at the Adiv factory, one of the largest of its kind in the country, are arranged in drawers according to the names of the units placing the orders: Paratroops, Golani, air force, sharpshooters and so on. Each drawer contains hundreds of drawings, filed by year. Many of the prints are cartoons and slogans relating to life in the unit, or inside jokes that outsiders wouldn't get (and might not care to, either), but a handful reflect particular aggressiveness, violence and vulgarity.

Print-shop manager Haim Yisrael, who has worked there since the early 1980s, said Adiv prints around 1,000 different patterns each month, with soldiers accounting for about half. Yisrael recalled that when he started out, there were hardly any orders from the army.

"The first ones to do it were from the Nahal brigade," he said. "Later on other infantry units started printing up shirts, and nowadays any course with 15 participants prints up shirts."

From time to time, officers complain. "Sometimes the soldiers do things that are inside jokes that only they get, and sometimes they do something foolish that they take to an extreme," Yisrael explained. "There have been a few times when commanding officers called and said, 'How can you print things like that for soldiers?' For example, with shirts that trashed the Arabs too much. I told them it's a private company, and I'm not interested in the content. I can print whatever I like. We're neutral. There have always been some more extreme and some less so. It's just that now more people are making shirts."

Race to be unique

Evyatar Ben-Tzedef, a research associate at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism and former editor of the IDF publication Maarachot, said the phenomenon of custom-made T-shirts is a product of "the infantry's insane race to be unique. I, for example, had only one shirt that I received after the Yom Kippur War. It said on it, 'The School for Officers,' and that was it. What happened since then is a product of the decision to assign every unit an emblem and a beret. After all, there used to be very few berets: black, red or green. This changed in the 1990s. [The shirts] developed because of the fact that for bonding purposes, each unit created something that was unique to it.

"These days the content on shirts is sometimes deplorable," Ben-Tzedef explained. "It stems from the fact that profanity is very acceptable and normative in Israel, and that there is a lack of respect for human beings and their environment, which includes racism aimed in every direction."

Yossi Kaufman, who moderates the army and defense forum on the Web site Fresh, served in the Armored Corps from 1996 to 1999. "I also drew shirts, and I remember the first one," he said. "It had a small emblem on the front and some inside joke, like, 'When we die, we'll go to heaven, because we've already been through hell.'"

Kaufman has also been exposed to T-shirts of the sort described here. "I know there are shirts like these," he says. "I've heard and also seen a little. These are not shirts that soldiers can wear in civilian life, because they would get stoned, nor at a battalion get-together, because the battalion commander would be pissed off. They wear them on very rare occasions. There's all sorts of black humor stuff, mainly from snipers, such as, 'Don't bother running because you'll die tired' - with a drawing of a Palestinian boy, not a terrorist. There's a Golani or Givati shirt of a soldier raping a girl, and underneath it says, 'No virgins, no terror attacks.' I laughed, but it was pretty awful. When I was asked once to draw things like that, I said it wasn't appropriate."

The IDF Spokesman's Office comments on the phenomenon: "Military regulations do not apply to civilian clothing, including shirts produced at the end of basic training and various courses. The designs are printed at the soldiers' private initiative, and on civilian shirts. The examples raised by Haaretz are not in keeping with the values of the IDF spirit, not representative of IDF life, and are in poor taste. Humor of this kind deserves every condemnation and excoriation. The IDF intends to take action for the immediate eradication of this phenomenon. To this end, it is emphasizing to commanding officers that it is appropriate, among other things, to take discretionary and disciplinary measures against those involved in acts of this sort."

Shlomo Tzipori, a lieutenant colonel in the reserves and a lawyer specializing in martial law, said the army does bring soldiers up on charges for offenses that occur outside the base and during their free time. According to Tzipori, slogans that constitute an "insult to the army or to those in uniform" are grounds for court-martial, on charges of "shameful conduct" or "disciplinary infraction," which are general clauses in judicial martial law.

Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University, author of "Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military," said that the phenomenon is "part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome - the calm that never arrived - led to a further shift rightward.

"This tendency is most strikingly evident among soldiers who encounter various situations in the territories on a daily basis. There is less meticulousness than in the past, and increasing callousness. There is a perception that the Palestinian is not a person, a human being entitled to basic rights, and therefore anything may be done to him."

Could the printing of clothing be viewed also as a means of venting aggression?

Sasson-Levy: "No. I think it strengthens and stimulates aggression and legitimizes it. What disturbs me is that a shirt is something that has permanence. The soldiers later wear it in civilian life; their girlfriends wear it afterward. It is not a statement, but rather something physical that remains, that is out there in the world. Beyond that, I think the link made between sexist views and nationalist views, as in the 'Screw Haniyeh' shirt, is interesting. National chauvinism and gender chauvinism combine and strengthen one another. It establishes a masculinity shaped by violent aggression toward women and Arabs; a masculinity that considers it legitimate to speak in a crude and violent manner toward women and Arabs."

Col. (res.) Ron Levy began his military service in the Sayeret Matkal elite commando force before the Six-Day War. He was the IDF's chief psychologist, and headed the army's mental health department in the 1980s.

Levy: "I'm familiar with things of this sort going back 40, 50 years, and each time they take a different form. Psychologically speaking, this is one of the ways in which soldiers project their anger, frustration and violence. It is a certain expression of things, which I call 'below the belt.'"

Do you think this a good way to vent anger?

Levy: "It's safe. But there are also things here that deviate from the norm, and you could say that whoever is creating these things has reached some level of normality. He gives expression to the fact that what is considered abnormal today might no longer be so tomorrow."


6) Jury Says Professor Was Wrongly Fired
April 3, 2009

DENVER - A jury found on Thursday that the University of Colorado had wrongfully dismissed a professor who drew national attention for an essay in which he called some victims of the Sept. 11 attacks "little Eichmanns."

But the jury, which deliberated for a day and a half, awarded only $1 in damages to the former professor, Ward L. Churchill, a tenured faculty member at the university's campus in Boulder since 1991 who was chairman of the ethnic studies department.

The jurors found that Mr. Churchill's political views had been a "substantial or motivating" factor in his dismissal, and that the university had not shown that he would have been dismissed anyway.

"This is a great victory for the First Amendment, and for academic freedom," said his lawyer, David A. Lane.

Whether Mr. Churchill, 61, will get his job back, and when, was not resolved. Mr. Churchill's lawyers said they would ask Judge Larry J. Naves of Denver District Court to order reinstatement, in light of the verdict.

A spokesman for the university, Ken McConnellogue, said administrators would oppose the request. Reinstatement, Mr. McConnellogue said, would probably draw a sharp reaction among many faculty members, because a faculty committee was instrumental in his firing.

The verdict by the panel of four women and two men - none of whom wished to be interviewed by reporters, court officials said - seemed unlikely to resolve the larger debate surrounding Mr. Churchill that was engendered by the case. Is Mr. Churchill, as his supporters contend, a torchbearer for the right to hold unpopular political views? Or is he unpatriotic or - as his harshest critics contend - an outright collaborator with the nation's enemies at a time of war?

The jury seemed at least partly undecided on what to think about the man at the center of the fight, whose essay made him a polarizing national figure.

While the panel agreed with the argument that an environment of political intolerance for Mr. Churchill's views was a factor in his firing, Mr. McConnellogue, the university spokesman, contended that its decision to deny him financial damages also sent a message - that Mr. Churchill was not necessarily a figure to be revered, either.

"The jury's award is some vindication," he said.

Mr. Churchill, wearing sunglasses in the hallway outside the courtroom, said the size of the award did not matter. "I didn't ask for money," he said, "I asked for justice."

The case has been seen as a struggle between freedom of speech and academic integrity, and it revived the longstanding debate about whether hate speech deserves protection by the First Amendment.

But the monthlong trial mostly focused on Mr. Churchill's academic work. The jury had to decide whether he had plagiarized and falsified parts of his research, particularly on American Indians, as the university contended in dismissing him. His lawyers described the search for professional misconduct as simply a pretext for a foregone decision to get rid of him.

On Sept. 12, 2001, Mr. Churchill wrote an essay in which he argued that the United States had brought the terrorist attacks on itself. He said that some of those working in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 were not innocent bystanders but "formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire." He described the financial workers as "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi who has been called the architect of the Holocaust.

The essay garnered little notice at the time but gradually seeped through the Internet, coming to light in 2005, and then creating an uproar.

In their closing arguments on Wednesday, lawyers for each side urged the jury to focus on the First Amendment.

Mr. Lane, Mr. Churchill's lawyer, said his client had been a spokesman throughout his academic career for disempowered people and causes - a trait, Mr. Lane said, that never made Mr. Churchill popular with people in power. "For 30 years, he's been telling the other side of the story," Mr. Lane said.

What the university did in firing Mr. Churchill, he told the panel, was political payback, a rigged inquiry into his work that was a "charade of fairness."

The university's lawyer, Patrick O'Rourke, asked the jury to think about standards. The pattern of academic misconduct, Mr. O'Rourke said, was not in doubt.

"There's the real university world, and there's Ward Churchill's world," he said. "Ward Churchill's world is a place where there are no standards and no accountability."

Mr. Churchill, he said, was using the Constitution as a smokescreen. "You can't take the First Amendment and use it to justify fraud," he said.

Around 3 p.m. on Thursday, jurors asked the judge questions about damages.

First, they asked whether it was possible to award no damages. A few minutes later, they asked whether, if all but one jury member could agree on a dollar amount, that person could be replaced by another juror. (The answer was no.)

The jury then resumed deliberations for about an hour before returning its verdict in Mr. Churchill's favor.

Kirk Johnson reported from Denver, and Katharine Q. Seelye from New York.


7) Jobless Rate Hits 8.5% as March Payrolls Fall by 663,000
April 4, 2009

The American economy surrendered another 663,000 jobs in March as the unemployment rate surged to 8.5 percent, its highest level since 1983, the government reported Friday.

The latest snapshot of accelerating decline in the national job market lifted to 5.1 million the number of jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007. More than two million jobs have disappeared over the first three months alone.

The severity and breadth of the job losses - which afflicted nearly every industry outside of education and health care - prompted economists to conclude that an agonizing plunge in employment prospects was still unfolding, with no clear turnaround in sight.

"It's really just about as bad as can be imagined," said Dean Baker, a director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. "There's just no way we're anywhere near a bottom. We'll be really lucky if we stop losing jobs by the end of the year."

The pace of retrenchment has prompted calls among some economists for another wave of government stimulus spending to buttress the $787 billion already in the pipeline.

In January, as the Obama administration crafted plans for the current round of stimulus spending, it assumed the unemployment rate would reach 8.9 percent by the last three months of the year.

"We're clearly looking at a worse downturn than they had been anticipating when they planned the stimulus," Mr. Baker said. "We're going to need some more."

But others - not least, decision-makers inside the Obama administration - deem such talk premature. The jobs report, while dreadful, landed amid tentative signs of improvement in some areas of the economy, with recent snippets of data lifting stock markets and sowing cautious hopes that the beginnings of a recovery might be taking shape.

Auto sales, while still falling, have seen the pace of decline slow. Houses have been selling in much greater numbers in important markets like California and Florida, albeit at substantially reduced prices. Consumer spending, while far from vigorous, appears to have leveled off after plummeting y over the last three months of 2008.

Meanwhile, a surge of government spending is just beginning to work its way through the federal and state bureaucracies, aimed at spurring demand for American goods and services. This spending is expected to support jobs in construction and related industries later this year. The administration is distributing more than $3 billion in aid to states to train laid-off workers for new careers in so-called green industries, like manufacturing solar- and wind-power equipment, and in health care.

"We're attacking this in a very aggressive way," the Labor secretary Hilda L. Solis said Friday in an interview, arguing that it is too early to consider another round of stimulus spending. "We will revisit that once we expend all the money that we have accrued."

Much of the recent indications of potential economic improvement reflect temporary seasonal factors rather than a sustainable trend, argue some economists. Housing construction, for example, has looked more robust in large part because January's construction activity was slowed by bad weather.

The crucial factors assailing the economy remain in force, with tattered banks reluctant to lend, and even healthy households and businesses averse to borrowing and spending in a time of grave uncertainty and fear.

The very perception that millions more will lose jobs and housing prices will fall have turned such outlooks into reality: As businesses scramble to cut costs in the face of gloomy sales prospects, many are shrinking work forces, removing more paychecks from the economy, and further eroding spending power.

"There's a lot of survival job-cutting going on throughout American business," said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Group in Pittsburgh. "There won't be any job growth at all this year. The economy is far, far from being out of the woods."

Still, Mr. Hoffman is among those inclined to wait for a few more months and hope for improvement before unleashing a new wave of stimulus spending.

The Treasury has recently outlined plans for an expanded bank rescue aimed at lowering borrowing costs for businesses and households, this generating fresh economic activity and jobs.

In London, leaders of the world's major economies left a summit meeting this week with a promise to bolster the finances of the International Monetary Fund by $500 billion, lending support to troubled economies from Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia, perhaps increasing now plunging global trade and thus demand for American-made goods.

"It's a little soon to conclude politically, and I'd argue economically, that we need some more stimulus," Mr. Hoffman said. "You don't just double the dose if the patient doesn't immediately improve."

Friday's report catalogued the myriad ways in way American working people remain under assault. The number of unemployed people increased by 694,000 in March, reaching 13.2 million. Those on unemployment for longer than six months reached 3.2 million.

"Almost everyone's being touched in some way," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "It seems like every business in every industry in every corner of the country has a hiring freeze. They're just not in the mood or position to hire. They're not taking resumes. They're not looking for people."

Manufacturing again led the way down, shedding 161,000 jobs in March. Employment in construction declined by 126,000, and has fallen by 1.3 million since it peaked in January 2007. Professional and business services employment fell by 133,000, with more than half the losses in temporary help services - a sign that companies that have already shifted from relying on full-time workers to temporary people are feeling compelled to cut further.

In the suburbs of Atlanta, Meg Fisher, 46, has been looking for work since she lost her job as a legal secretary in the middle of February. Her husband's hours at his pharmacy job were scaled back. All told, their previous annual income of about $79,000 has been sliced to $20,000.

Ms. Fisher is planning to apply for food stamps, while seeking out free-lance work as a seamstress and knitting instructor.

"It's not going to replace my salary," she said. "It's not even going to come close, but it's better than sitting around."

The report reinforced the reality that the pains of the downturn have spread far beyond the jobless. The number of those working part-time because their hours had been cut or they were unable to find a full-time job climbed by 423,000 in March to reach 9 million.

In New Jersey, Henry Perez, 34, and his family are now living in the basement of his sister's house and struggling to find work.

A refugee of sorts from the real estate collapse in Las Vegas, where Mr. Perez once lived and bet big, he has more recently worked in online commerce and as a marketer at an office-furniture company. But after being laid off at the end of last year, he has found nothing, even as he has sharply dropped his expectations, applying for jobs at restaurant chains like Panera Bread and Quizno's.

"We're just sitting here all day long looking for jobs on the computer, frustrated and scared as hell," Mr. Perez said. "I'm looking for anything."


8) Fannie and Freddie Detail Retention Bonuses
April 3, 2009, 11:11 am
Updated at 12:25 p.m.

Just a few weeks after retention bonuses at American International Group became a national scandal, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage-financing giants that the government rescued last fall, have outlined plans to pay an additional $159 million in bonuses to retain employees in 2009 and 2010, on top of the nearly $51 million already paid out last year.

James B. Lockhart of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which now oversees the two companies, disclosed the bonus programs in a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

In the letter, Mr. Lockhart defended the payouts as a way to "keep key staff without rewarding poor performance." (Download the full letter in PDF form at: )

Lawmakers have harshly criticized some bailed-out companies that later offered bonuses to workers, and the House passed legislation this week that would seek to limit compensation and bonuses at such firms.

Last month, Mr. Grassley called on Fannie and Freddie to justify their bonus retention programs, and demanded they release the names and titles of any employee who received, or was set to receive, a retention bonus of more than $100,000.

Mr. Lockhart did not provide the names in his letter, citing "personal privacy and safety reasons."

A spokesman for Fannie Mae declined to comment on the letter. Representatives for Freddie Mac weren't immediately available for comment.

Fannie and Freddie lost a total of nearly $110 billion in 2008. Last month, the Treasury Department agreed to provide the two companies with up to $200 billion in additional capital, on top of the $200 billion in government funds already pledged to them.

Speaking about Fannie and Freddie on Friday, Sen. Grassley said in a statement provided to DealBook that "it's hard to see any common sense in management decisions that award hundreds of millions in bonuses when their organizations lost more than $100 billion in a year."

"It's an insult that the bonuses were made with an infusion of cash from taxpayers," he said. "Poor performance and at taxpayer expense do a lot of damage to public confidence and support for the economic recovery effort."

Mr. Lockhart, in his letter, defended the bonuses as necessary for protecting the taxpayers' investment.

"Keeping the enterprises operating at full speed was best for the housing markets and best for the economy, which clearly also made it best for the taxpayer," he said. "And that would only be possible if we retained the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac teams."

Part of the retention packages were already paid out in 2008, the letter said. They consisted of $17.3 million to Freddie employees, with 19 employees receiving more than $100,000, and $33.5 million to Fannie employees, with 20 receiving more than $100,000.

The total bonuses at both companies is expected to be about $146 million in 2009, and $13 million in 2010, for a total of about $210 million.

The retention plans cover 4,057 employees at Freddie Mac and 3,545 employees at Fannie Mae, the letter said.

The government seized Fannie and Freddie last fall, to make sure that neither company would collapse because of the plunging values of mortgages that they owned or guaranteed.

- Cyrus Sanati and Peter Edmonston


9) Iowa Court Voids Gay Marriage Ban
April 4, 2009

DES MOINES - Iowa became the first state in the Midwest to approve same-sex marriage on Friday, after the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously decided that a 1998 law limiting marriage to a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

The decision was the culmination of a four-year legal battle that began with a suit filed on behalf of six same-sex couples in the lower courts.

The Supreme Court said same-sex marriages could begin in Iowa in as soon as 21 days, making Iowa only the third state in the nation, along with Massachusetts and Connecticut, to legalize gay marriage. While the same-sex marriage debate has played out on both coasts, the Midwest - where no states had permitted same-sex marriage - was seen as entirely different. In the past, at least six states in the Midwest were among those around the country that adopted amendments to their state constitutions banning same-sex marriage.

"We have a constitutional duty to ensure equal protection of the law," the Iowa justices wrote in their opinion. "If gay and lesbian people must submit to different treatment without an exceedingly persuasive justification, they are deprived of the benefits of the principle of equal protection upon which the rule of law is founded."

"The concept of equal protection, is deeply rooted in our national and state history, but that history reveals this concept is often expressed far more easily than it is practiced," the court wrote.

Iowa has enforced its constitution in a series of landmark court decisions, including those that struck down slavery (in 1839) and segregation (cases in 1868 and 1873), and upheld women's rights by becoming the first state in the nation to allow a woman to practice law, in 1869.

In a hotel in Des Moines on Friday morning, several of the same-sex couples who were involved in the suit wept, teared up and embraced as they learned about the decision from their lawyers. "I'd like to introduce you to my fiancee," said Kate Varnum, 34, reaching over to Trish Varnum. "Today I am proud to be a lifelong Iowan."

"We are blessed to live in Iowa," she added.

Opponents of same-sex marriage criticized the ruling.

"The decision made by the Iowa Supreme Court today to allow gay marriage in Iowa is disappointing on many levels," State Senator Paul McKinley, the Republican leader, said in a statement on The Des Moines Register's Web site. "I believe marriage should only be between one man and one woman and I am confident the majority of Iowans want traditional marriage to be legally recognized in this state."

He added: "Though the court has made their decision, I believe every Iowan should have a voice on this matter and that is why the Iowa Legislature should immediately act to pass a Constitutional Amendment that protects traditional marriage, keeps it as a sacred bond only between one man and one woman and gives every Iowan a chance to have their say through a vote of the people."

Advocates of same-sex marriage said they did not believe opponents had any immediate way to overturn the decision. A constitutional amendment would require the state legislature to approve a ban on same-sex marriage in two consecutive sessions after which voters would have a chance to weigh in.

Iowa has no residency requirement for getting a marriage license, which some suggest may mean a flurry of people from other states.

Two states - Connecticut and Massachusetts - currently allow same-sex marriages. Several other states on the East coast allow civil unions, lawmakers in Vermont are considering gay marriage, and California allowed it until November's election, when residents rejected the idea in a voter initiative.

A change in Iowa's take on marriage, advocates for gay marriage said before Friday's ruling, would signal a broader shift in public thinking, even in the nation's more conservative middle. Opponents of same-sex marriage, meanwhile, had said any legal decision in support of same-sex marriage in Iowa would certainly trigger a prompt and sharp response among residents and, surely, state lawmakers.

In one part of the decision that focuses on religious opposition to same-sex marriage, the justices seemed to anticipate negative reactions, saying they considered the unspoken reason for the ban on same-sex marriages to be religiously motivated. The justices said marriage was a "civil contract" and should not affect religious doctrine or views.

"The only difference is civil marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law," the justices wrote.

The legal case here began in 2005, when six same-sex couples filed suit against the county recorder here in Polk County because he would not accept their marriage license applications.

Two years later, a local judge here, Robert B. Hanson, ruled in that case that a state law defining marriage as only between a man and woman was unconstitutional. The ruling, in 2007, set off a flurry of same-sex couples from all over the state, racing for the courthouse in Polk County.

The rush lasted less than a day in August of 2007. Although Judge Hanson had ruled against the state law, he quickly decided to delay any additional granting of licenses, saying that the Iowa Supreme Court should have an opportunity to weigh in first. In the end, about 20 couples applied before the stay was issued. Just one couple, Timothy McQuillan, then 21, and Sean Fritz, 24, managed to obtain their license and also to marry.

Maura Strassberg, a professor of law at Drake University, married her partner in Massachusetts last year, but was overjoyed to learn that her status will be legal in three weeks in Iowa.

After a quick review of the 69-page decision, Ms. Strassberg said she was not surprised with the outcome, but only how it was rendered. "What is really stunning is that it's unanimous," she said. "It's a very bold, confident opinion. It affirms a certain notion of what Iowa is and what Iowa means."


10) Former California Homeowners Lash Out at Builder
April 3, 2009

LOS ANGELES - A major home builder that helped fuel the country's building boom is now under attack for what some homeowners and builders say was its role in the bust that followed.

Several former homeowners spoke here on Thursday about their disenchantment with the builder, KB Home, at its annual shareholders' meeting. The speakers said the company had pushed them into high-risk, high-interest loans for homes they could not afford and eventually lost to foreclosure.

During the meeting, a few dozen construction workers, many of whom had their work dry up when the home-building market imploded in Southern California, protested across the street.

"I tried to communicate to the board members to try to do better for people in the future," one of the former homeowners who addressed the board, Santiago Ramos, said after the meeting.

The meeting was closed to reporters. A KB Home spokeswoman, Heather Reeves, said in an e-mail message, "We want every KB homeowner to know that we stand ready to assist them in any way we can to ensure that they are pleased with their purchase."

KB Home is one of the country's largest builders, accounting for 3.1 percent of new home sales in 2007, the latest year for which data is available, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The company had a joint lending venture with Countrywide Financial - Countrywide KB - that issued roughly 70 percent of the loans originated for the builder. The venture ended in 2005, but KB still has lending arrangements with other financial institutions.

The protest on Thursday was the latest effort to draw attention to what critics say was KB's role in the foreclosure crisis.

The Laborers' International Union of North America, which represents construction workers, has filed complaints about the builder with the California attorney general. The union says KB engaged in "deceptive practices" and steered buyers toward its loans to control home prices, pushing interest-only loans to buyers who often did not understand what they were getting into.

A state lawmaker from Southern California, where home values have plummeted and foreclosures have skyrocketed, has introduced a bill that would prohibit builders from lending money to homebuyers.

"Builder-originated loans create an inherent conflict of interest," the lawmaker, Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, a Democrat, said in an e-mail message.

No state has such a law, said Sue Johnson, the executive director of the Real Estate Services Providers Council, a trade group.

"It would be disruptive to the home-building industry," Ms. Johnson said, adding that most home builders had loan arrangements with financial institutions.

Timothy Lilienthal, a spokesman for PICO National Network, a religious group that has protested and organized around the foreclosure issue, said the criticism of KB reflected a broader unhappiness with banks.

"People are getting tired of banks, and bank accountability is a major theme we see coming forward," Mr. Lilienthal said. "And KB was the originator of so many bad loans in California."

Mr. Ramos, a construction worker as well as a former KB homeowner, said company officials pushed him to sign an interest-only loan through Countrywide KB for the home he bought for $430,000 in 2005 in Hesperia, Calif., and threatened to sue him when he resisted.

In her e-mail message, Ms. Reeves, the spokeswoman, said the company recognized that "many Americans have been adversely impacted by current economic conditions."

"That is why we are always working to assist buyers in finding the right home for their budget," she said.


11) The Words Have Changed, but Have the Policies?
"So if not a war on terror, what then? 'Overseas contingency operations.'
And terrorist attacks themselves? 'Man-caused disasters.'"
On the White House
April 3, 2009

WASHINGTON - When President Obama briefed Congressional leaders at the White House last week on his plans to send more troops to Afghanistan, Senator Harry Reid offered some advice: Whatever you do, he told the president, don't call it a "surge."

Not to worry. Mr. Obama didn't and wouldn't. The exchange, confirmed by people briefed on the discussion, underscored the sensitivity about language in the new era. Mr. Obama and his team are busily scrubbing President George W. Bush's national security lexicon, if not necessarily all of his policies.

They may be sending 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, much as Mr. Bush did to Iraq, but it is not a "surge." They may still be holding people captured on the battlefield at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but they are no longer "enemy combatants." They may be carrying the fight to Al Qaeda as their predecessors did, but they are no longer waging a "war on terror."

So if not a war on terror, what then? "Overseas contingency operations."

And terrorist attacks themselves? "Man-caused disasters."

Every White House picks its words carefully, using poll-tested, focus-grouped language to frame issues and ideas to advance its goals. Mr. Bush's team did that assertively. The initial legislation expanding government power after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was the "U.S.A. Patriot Act." The warrantless eavesdropping that became so controversial was rebranded the "Terrorist Surveillance Program." The enemy was, for a time, dubbed "Islamofascism," until that was deemed insensitive to Muslims.

Now Mr. Obama is coming into office determined to sweep all that rhetoric away, even if he is keeping much of the policy that underlies it. Aides argue that they are not trying to spin their priorities through words, only to excise the spin applied relentlessly by the Bush administration. But they are also trying to send a clear and unmistakable message that the old order is gone.

"You have to tell the American public and the world that there's a new sheriff in town without opening up the jail and letting all the prisoners out," said Matt Bennett, vice president of Third Way, a moderate Democratic advocacy group. "The changing of the way they talk is a low-risk way of purging some of the Bush-era stuff without doing any damage."

Indeed, for all the shifting words, Mr. Obama has left the bulk of Mr. Bush's national security architecture intact so far. He has made no move to revise the Patriot Act or the eavesdropping program. He has ordered Guantánamo to be closed in a year but has not turned loose all the prisoners. The troop buildup in Afghanistan resembles the one Mr. Bush ordered in Iraq two years ago.

In cautioning against the "surge" label, Mr. Reid clearly wanted to avoid associating the Obama strategy in Afghanistan with the Bush strategy in Iraq, a strategy that both he and the president opposed at the time. The two have never repudiated their opposition to the Iraq buildup, even though many now credit it with helping to stabilize the country. And any language suggesting parallels between the two approaches could aggravate the party's liberal base, much of which is already suspicious of committing more forces to Afghanistan.

Gordon Johndroe, the last National Security Council spokesman for Mr. Bush, said he detected a great degree of overlap in actual policy between the two presidents that is not masked by different words. "A change in rhetoric is fine as long as they don't lead people to believe the threat from violent extremists is over," Mr. Johndroe said.

Obama advisers said they were not trying to de-emphasize the danger of extremism but to take the politics out of it. Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, used the term "terrorism" during her Senate confirmation testimony, but also referred to it as "man-caused disasters." She later said that it was a deliberate attempt to change the tone.

"That is perhaps only a nuance," she told Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, "but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur."

But the risk, in the minds of some critics, is looking like the government no longer takes the dangers of the world seriously. "They seem more interested in the war on the English language than in what might be thought of as more pressing national security matters," said Shannen W. Coffin, who served as counsel to former Vice President Dick Cheney. "An Orwellian euphemism or two will not change the fact that bad people want to kill us and destroy us as a free people."

The White House dismisses such criticism, saying the president is not focused on wordsmithing national policy. "He's far less concerned with" language, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, told reporters last week, "and much more concerned with steps that he's taken and that we need to take as a country to protect our citizens and to keep our homeland safe. And I think that's what he's focused on."

Still, the degree to which the Obama team seems intent on distancing itself from any language associated with Mr. Bush has drawn ridicule even from the left. On "The Daily Show" on Tuesday night, Jon Stewart vigorously mocked the Obama administration after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said "the administration has stopped using the phrase" war on terror.

Mr. Stewart showed repeated clips of Mr. Obama's budget director, Peter R. Orszag, referring instead to "overseas contingency operations."

"Yeah, that'll catch on like Crystal Pepsi," Mr. Stewart joked.

Summoning one of the most memorable moments of the Bush presidency, Mr. Stewart then showed a mocked up photograph of Mr. Obama in a pilot's flight suit on the deck of an aircraft carrier under a banner proclaiming, "Redefinition Accomplished."


12) Finding Hope Online, and Hoping a Job Follows
April 3, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Nearly a year after he was laid off from his job as a window installer, Raymond Vaughn is still out of work, still scanning job listings on the computer and still sending résumés into a seemingly indifferent void.

But Mr. Vaughn now has another activity, one aimed at breaking free of his chronically meager financial straits: He is studying for a career in medical billing through an online course he found on the Internet.

For several hours each morning, Mr. Vaughn, 43, sits at a desk in the modest rented house he shares with his fiancée, memorizing medical procedures and absorbing detailed drawings of the human anatomy. "Medical terminology is kicking my butt," he says.

He takes quizzes online, making progress toward the diploma that will, the school promises, set him up to work from home, processing bills for insurance companies while earning as much as $50,000 a year. "That sounded all right to me," he says.

He passes the evening hours on a sagging couch, a pack of Newport cigarettes on the coffee table, and the television remote in hand, surveying a world mired in distress. He flips between action movies and news channels, absorbing a discomfiting tableau of cinematic violence and real-life economic deterioration - job cuts, holdups at a local automated teller machine, taxpayer-financed bonuses for disgraced Wall Street chieftains.

He takes note of the reports that South Carolina has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation - 11 percent in February, behind only Michigan. He seethes as he hears that his state's Republican governor, Mark Sanford, is preparing to reject $700 million in federal aid aimed at generating new jobs, arguing that spending more now will simply add to public debt in the years ahead.

"How can somebody who's never been broke say with any confidence what someone needs who's struggling?" Mr. Vaughn asks disgustedly.

Everywhere, he hears solemn talk of recession, as if the same reality that has defined most of his life has finally caught up with the rest of the nation.

"For me, it's always been a recession," Mr. Vaughn says. "I've always struggled to find work and pay my bills. And now we're hearing recession this, recession that, and I'm like, yeah, now that it's hitting the rich people, it's officially a recession. They've got to give up eating in those fancy restaurants with their $100 chicken dinners, and now they're stuck eating Church's with me."

He still draws a $221-a-week unemployment check, and he still depends on the generosity of his fiancée, whose wages from her job as a secretary at a hospital pay the bills.

"She could cover this place on her own," Mr. Vaughn says. "She could kick my butt out and she'd be fine. It bothers me. That'd be hard for any man."

And yet, more than a year into a punishing economic downturn, and more than four decades into a life whose only consistent thread has been struggle itself, Mr. Vaughn is keenly aware that pride is a commodity he cannot afford.

Nationally, unemployment is at its highest rate in more than a quarter century, a picture that will probably worsen on Friday, when the government releases its snapshot of the labor market for March.

Most economists expect the report will show that more than 650,000 jobs disappeared from the economy last month, bringing total job losses beyond five million since the recession began in December 2007.

Prospects have been especially bleak for African-American men like Mr. Vaughn, who lacks a college degree, and has long earned his living with his hands. Born and raised in Jamaica in Queens, New York, Mr. Vaughn has spent the last 17 years in South Carolina, moving here to escape the often-violent streets of his youth.

Nationally, less than 60 percent of black men 20 years and older were employed in February, the lowest share since the government began tracking such data in 1972, and down from 66 percent a year earlier.

Amiable and prone to wisecracks, Mr. Vaughn joined the recession's victims last May when he was laid off from his job installing and repairing windows and doors, where he had earned $11.50 an hour and health insurance.

In December, he lined up with hundreds of other people at the state fairgrounds, applying for the few listings at a job fair. The most promising possibility was for a position as a technician at an air-conditioning company. It paid $3 an hour less than his last job. He never got that job, and soon the company resorted to layoffs. He says he has applied for more than 50 jobs since, including posts as a welder, an auto mechanic and a painter.

"Anything," he says. "I've been applying for anything."

Back in February, he was granted an interview at a factory that makes industrial adhesives, yet his very need for a job emerged as an impediment to getting one: The company ran a credit check, discovered his checkered history, and turned him down, he says.

"They told me things had looked good until the credit check," he says.

Mr. Vaughn's credit history stands as a crude composite of the national experience. It is sprinkled with deals that went awry, transactions not sufficiently understood, assurances accepted without critical scrutiny and purchases made in anticipation of income that never arrived.

Seven years ago, he bought a mobile home, agreeing to a mortgage that he says was supposed to be $653 a month for the home and the land. When a bill came for an extra $200 a month, he walked away, convinced he had been cheated. Two years ago, he ran up $200 worth of charges on a Visa card that he failed to pay. "It was basically gas and what-not," he says.

In January, an e-mail message landed in his in-box from something called the U.S. Career Institute, based in Colorado, which offered to train him online for "an exciting, professional career" in medical billing. He bought in, enrolling for $69 a month, attracted by the thought of a middle-class paycheck.

Does he know anyone who has pulled this off? "No, but I called and checked it out," he says. "Basically, they said their school is accredited. Their school has weight. It's not like the school is frowned upon."

He discussed it with his fiancée, and she supported the idea, figuring that health care is a growing field.

He says this in the tone of voice of a man whose aspirations have been dashed more than once, now trying to convince himself of the truth of something dubious; a man who has sent out so many job applications and received so few replies, happy to have finally found mail in his in-box painting a promising future that is supposedly waiting for someone just like him.


13) Patient Money
Getting a Health Policy When You're Already Sick
April 4, 2009

INSURANCE executives held out hope to the afflicted late last month by announcing their willingness to end a notorious industry practice: charging higher premiums to people with health problems or denying them coverage altogether.

But don't breathe easy just yet. The change, promised at a Senate hearing, would hinge on the condition that Congress in turn require everyone in the land to carry health insurance. And Congress is still at least months away from taking up major health legislation.

So for now, consumers with pre-existing medical conditions must continue the struggle to obtain and keep medical coverage.

"It is arguably the biggest minefield out there when it comes to getting and keeping your health insurance," said Karen Pollitz, project director at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University. "Under the current system, the people who need insurance most can't afford or can't get coverage."

Until the system changes, here is basic guidance for people with pre-existing conditions, whether you're currently covered or shopping for insurance.

IF POSSIBLE, KEEP EMPLOYER'S COVERAGE. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as Hippa, employers cannot exclude you from a health plan because of a pre-existing condition. They must offer you coverage and pay the same percentage of your premium as they do for healthy employees. The same rule applies to spouses and children if the employer offers family coverage.

Keep in mind, new employees can be denied coverage for treatment related to their pre-existing conditions for up to 12 months. But if you have had continuing coverage from another group plan, the amount of time you held that coverage can be credited to the 12-month exclusion.

More troublesome is if you had a gap in coverage of 63 days or more. In that case, employers can exclude coverage of your health problem for up to 18 months, but then must give you full coverage.

LEARN YOUR STATE'S RULES. Not everyone can get insurance through an employer, of course. And that's when things get tricky.

In reality, most insurers deny individual coverage to sick people. As a safety net, federal law mandates that each state offer at least one nongroup, or individual, option that cannot deny anyone coverage. The details vary from state to state.

To find out what's available where you live, check with your state's insurance department. Contact information for each state can be found at the Web site of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners,

Cost is a big problem with all of these last-gasp policies, said Sandy Praeger, the insurance commissioner for Kansas and chairwoman of the national association's health insurance committee. Because there are no federal laws regulating premiums, they can be prohibitively expensive. "Unfortunately, there aren't many affordable alternatives," Ms. Praeger said.

If you do find yourself turned down by an insurer for a pre-existing condition, you can appeal that decision. With your doctor's help you may be able to convince a carrier that denied you coverage because of, say, high blood pressure, that you now have the condition under control.

SEEK OTHER TYPES OF GROUP COVERAGE. Even as an individual, you may be able to join a group health plan, especially if you run your own business. Your chamber of commerce may offer health coverage for local business owners. And professional and trade associations sometimes offer group insurance to qualified members regardless of their health.

But "be very careful when dealing with associations," Ms. Pollitz warns. "This has been an area riddled with fraud and insolvencies." Check out any potential group carefully with your state insurance department.

You may also want to research group purchasing alliances in your state. In these, small businesses band together to buy group health insurance plans at rates that might otherwise be available only to big employers. Check with your state insurance department on how to join an alliance - or to form a new one.

IF COVERAGE IS TERMINATED If you seek treatment for a health problem under an individual insurance plan, the insurer may look into your medical history for proof that you had the problem before applying for coverage, said Kevin Flynn, president of HealthCare Advocates. His company, in Philadelphia, works with patients who are in dispute with their insurers.

Insurers also may review your application and determine that you omitted important information related to a pre-existing condition, Mr. Flynn said. If the insurer finds evidence of either transgression, it may rescind your policy.

That's what happened last year to Melissa Klettke, a 26-year-old who lives near Portland, Ore. Because her employer's group insurance was expensive, Ms. Klettke shopped for a less expensive individual policy. Finding one online, she applied and was accepted.

About three weeks after getting coverage, Ms. Klettke began having symptoms that her doctor worried could signal multiple sclerosis. Terrified, she started a battery of diagnostic tests including expensive M.R.I.'s and consultations with a specialist.

Amid all this, her insurer wrote to say her coverage was being dropped because she had failed to disclose a trip to the doctor months earlier during which she complained of vertigo. That, the insurance company said, was proof of a prior condition.

"Here I was, scared to death, not knowing what was going on with me, and then I find out I have no insurance," Ms. Klettke said.

The good news is that Ms. Klettke does not have multiple sclerosis. But she has paid about $5,000 out of pocket for tests and doctors' fees. Happily, though, she recently got a new job at a shipping company that offers health insurance, and she is covered under her employer's group plan.

Although Ms. Klettke got nowhere with her appeals to the former insurer, Mr. Flynn urges people who find themselves in her position to push back. Ask your doctor for help in proving to the insurer that the reason you were dropped is not proof of a pre-existing condition.

Mr. Flynn recalls a client who lost his insurance because he had been treated for a canker sore on his tongue six months before he was diagnosed with mouth cancer. "We were successful in reinstating coverage when his doctors made it clear the two things had nothing to do with each other," he said.

Make your appeal in writing first, then follow up by phone, Mr. Flynn advises. If you get the chance to make your case in person, by all means do so, he added. And always file a complaint with, and enlist help from, your state insurance department.

BEWARE OF TEMPORARY POLICIES. Relatively inexpensive policies offering coverage for a limited period, usually six months to a year, have become a popular alternative for people who may be out of work but hope to soon have a job with employer coverage.

But if you get sick or injured while holding one of these policies, Ms. Pollitz said, the insurer will most likely deny you coverage when you try to renew - because now you have a pre-existing condition. If possible, she said, you're better off paying for a longer-term, more comprehensive policy.


14) Israel on Trial
Op-Ed Contributor
April 4, 2009

San Francisco

CHILLING testimony by Israeli soldiers substantiates charges that Israel’s Gaza Strip assault entailed grave violations of international law. The emergence of a predominantly right-wing, nationalist government in Israel suggests that there may be more violations to come. Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians also constituted war crimes, but do not excuse Israel’s transgressions. While Israel disputes some of the soldiers’ accounts, the evidence suggests that Israel committed the following six offenses:

• Violating its duty to protect the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the territory remains occupied. Israel unleashed military firepower against a people it is legally bound to protect.

• Imposing collective punishment in the form of a blockade, in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In June 2007, after Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed suffocating restrictions on trade and movement. The blockade — an act of war in customary international law — has helped plunge families into poverty, children into malnutrition, and patients denied access to medical treatment into their graves. People in Gaza thus faced Israel’s winter onslaught in particularly weakened conditions.

• Deliberately attacking civilian targets. The laws of war permit attacking a civilian object only when it is making an effective contribution to military action and a definite military advantage is gained by its destruction. Yet an Israeli general, Dan Harel, said, “We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings.” An Israeli military spokeswoman, Maj. Avital Leibovich, avowed that “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”

Israeli fire destroyed or damaged mosques, hospitals, factories, schools, a key sewage plant, institutions like the parliament, the main ministries, the central prison and police stations, and thousands of houses.

• Willfully killing civilians without military justification. When civilian institutions are struck, civilians — persons who are not members of the armed forces of a warring party, and are not taking direct part in hostilities — are killed.

International law authorizes killings of civilians if the objective of the attack is military, and the means are proportional to the advantage gained. Yet proportionality is irrelevant if the targets of attack were not military to begin with. Gaza government employees — traffic policemen, court clerks, secretaries and others — are not combatants merely because Israel considers Hamas, the governing party, a terrorist organization. Many countries do not regard violence against foreign military occupation as terrorism.

Of 1,434 Palestinians killed in the Gaza invasion, 960 were civilians, including 121 women and 288 children, according to a United Nations special rapporteur, Richard Falk. Israeli military lawyers instructed army commanders that Palestinians who remained in a targeted building after having been warned to leave were “voluntary human shields,” and thus combatants. Israeli gunners “knocked on roofs” — that is, fired first at corners of buildings, before hitting more vulnerable points — to “warn” Palestinian residents to flee.

With nearly all exits from the densely populated Gaza Strip blocked by Israel, and chaos reigning within it, this was a particularly cruel flaunting of international law. Willful killings of civilians that are not required by military necessity are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and are considered war crimes under the Nuremberg principles.

• Deliberately employing disproportionate force. Last year, Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, head of Israel’s northern command, speaking on possible future conflicts with neighbors, stated, “We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction.” Such a frank admission of illegal intent can constitute evidence in a criminal prosecution.

• Illegal use of weapons, including white phosphorus. Israel was finally forced to admit, after initial denials, that it employed white phosphorous in the Gaza Strip, though Israel defended its use as legal. White phosphorous may be legally used as an obscurant, not as a weapon, as it burns deeply and is extremely difficult to extinguish.

Israeli political and military personnel who planned, ordered or executed these possible offenses should face criminal prosecution. The appointment of Richard Goldstone, the former war crimes prosecutor from South Africa, to head a fact-finding team into possible war crimes by both parties to the Gaza conflict is an important step in the right direction. The stature of international law is diminished when a nation violates it with impunity.

George Bisharat is a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.


15) Financial Industry Paid Millions to Obama Aide
April 4, 2009

WASHINGTON — Lawrence H. Summers, the top economic adviser to President Obama, earned more than $5 million last year from the hedge fund D. E. Shaw and collected $2.7 million in speaking fees from Wall Street companies that received government bailout money, the White House disclosed Friday in releasing financial information about top officials.

Mr. Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, wields important influence over Mr. Obama’s policy decisions for the troubled financial industry, including firms from which he recently received payments.

Last year, he reported making 40 paid appearances, including a $135,000 speech to the investment firm Goldman Sachs, in addition to his earnings from the hedge fund, a sector the administration is trying to regulate.

The White House released hundreds of pages of financial disclosure forms, which are required of all West Wing officials. A White House spokesman, Ben LaBolt, said the compensation was not a conflict for Mr. Summers, adding it was not surprising because he was “widely recognized as one of the country’s most distinguished economists.”

Mr. Summers’s role at the White House includes advising Mr. Obama on whether — and how — to tighten regulation of hedge funds, which engage in highly sophisticated financial trading that many analysts have said contributed to the economic collapse.

Mr. Summers, a former president of Harvard University, was Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration. He appeared before large Wall Street companies like Citigroup ($45,000), J. P. Morgan ($67,500) and the now defunct Lehman Brothers ($67,500), according to his disclosure report. He reported being paid $10,000 for a speaking date at Yale and $90,000 to address an organization of Mexican banks.

While Mr. Obama campaigned on a pledge to restrict lobbyists from working in the White House, a step intended to reduce any influence between the administration and corporations, the ban did not apply to former executives like Mr. Summers, who was not a registered lobbyist. In 2006, he became a managing director of D. E. Shaw, a firm that manages about $30 billion in assets, making it one of the biggest hedge funds in the world.

“Dr. Summers was not an adviser to or an employee of the firms that paid him to speak,” Mr. LaBolt said.

He added, “Of course, since joining the White House, he has complied with the strictest ethics rules ever required of appointees and will not work on specific matters to which D. E. Shaw is a party for two years.”

A review of hundreds of pages of financial disclosure forms on Friday evening offered an extensive portrait of the wealth of top officials in the Obama administration. The forms detail the salaries, bonuses and investments of the president’s circle of advisers, many of whom took deep pay cuts from the private sector and sold their companies to work at the White House.

David Axelrod, who was the chief campaign strategist to Mr. Obama and now serves as a senior adviser to the president, reported a salary of $1 million last year from his two consulting firms. Over the next five years, according to his disclosure form, he will get $3 million from the sale of the two firms, which provide media and strategic advice to political clients. He listed assets of about $7 million to $10 million, and reported a long list of Democratic clients and a few corporate concerns, including AT&T and the Exelon Corporation, a nuclear energy company.

The disclosure forms also shed further light on the compensation received by a top Obama aide who previously worked for Citigroup, one of the largest recipients of taxpayer bailout money. The aide, Michael Froman, deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, received more than $7.4 million from the company from January 2008 to when he joined the White House this year.

That money included a year-end bonus of $2.25 million for work in 2008, which Citigroup paid him in January. Such bonuses have prompted political controversy in recent months, including sharp criticism from Mr. Obama, who in January branded them as “shameful.”

The White House had previously acknowledged that Mr. Froman received such a year-end bonus and said he had decided to give it to charity, but would not say what it was.

The administration said Friday that Mr. Froman was working on giving the $2.25 million to a combination of charities related to homelessness and cancer, which took the life of his son this year.

The remainder of Mr. Froman’s earnings from Citigroup included deferred compensation and bonuses for work performed in prior years, as well as a $2 million payment for waiving his carried-interest stake in several private equity funds.

The White House said Mr. Froman decided to take the buyouts to avoid having to recuse himself from foreign-policy issues related to the funds’ investments, like India infrastructure, which means he would be taxed at ordinary income rates on the money.

Millionaires work in a variety of positions across the administration, and they include Desirée Rogers, the White House social secretary. Ms. Rogers, a close Chicago friend of the Obama family, reported income of $2.3 million last year. She earned a salary of $1.8 million from People’s Gas & North Shore Gas, along with three other sources of income from serving on insurance company boards.

Thomas E. Donilon, the deputy national security adviser, reported earning $3.9 million as a partner at the Washington law firm O’Melveny & Myers. His disclosure form says major clients included Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Apollo Management, a private equity firm in New York that specializes in distressed assets and corporate restructuring.

Mr. Donilon is also entitled to future pension payments from Fannie Mae, where he worked from 1999 to 2005.

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, David Johnston, David D. Kirkpatrick, Eric Lipton and Charlie Savage.