Friday, June 05, 2009



U.S. Out Now! From Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and all U.S. bases around the world; End all U.S. Aid to Israel; Get the military out of our schools and our communities; Demand Equal Rights and Justice for ALL!


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Join HOMEY and Members of the SF 8 for:
"By Any Means Necessary; Hands Off the OG's!"
TONIGHT: June 5, 2009, 6:00pm-8:30pm
HOMEY Office:
1337 Mission St
(9th and Mission)

Join us for a special movie screening, workshop and discussion of The SF8 case.
Eight former Black community activists - Black Panthers and others - were arrested January 23, 2007 in California, New York, and Florida on charges related to the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer. Similar charges were thrown out after it was revealed that police used torture to extract confessions when some of these same men were arrested in New Orleans in 1973.

Learn how you can get involved and help free our freedom fighters and loyal community leaders!

Speakers: Members of the SF8 and Special Guest

Free Food and Refreshments
For more info on the SF8 case and events visit:



End the Siege of Gaza! Rally in San Francisco on June 6
Solidarity Day on the 42nd Anniversary of Israel's seizure of Gaza
Support the Palestinian Right of Return! Stop U.S. Aid to Israel!
Saturday, June 6
12:00 noon
UN Plaza (7th and Market Sts.)

Saturday, June 6 marks the 42nd anniversary of the Israeli seizure of Gaza. Organizations and individuals in solidarity with the people of Palestine will be taking to the streets once again to demand: End the Siege of Gaza!

The world looked on in horror this past winter as Israel mercilessly starved and bombed the people of Gaza, killing around 1,200 Palestinians (at least a third of whom were children). The Arab world now refers to the dark days from the end of December to mid-January "The Gaza Massacre." Although the mainstream media no longer focuses on Gaza, the suffering continues there nonetheless. Using the pretext of combating terrorism, Israel has refused to allow in even one truckload of cement into Gaza. In other words, the city that was reduced to rubble still lies in rubble today. All these months later, people are still living in tents and are scarcely able to secure the necessities of life.

People of conscience around the world continue to raise their voices in outrage at this crime against humanity, and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Gaza. We will also stand for all Palestinian people's inalienable right to return to their homes from which they were evicted. Let your voice be heard -- join us Saturday, June 6, at 12 noon at UN Plaza in San Francisco (7th and Market Sts.). There will be a joint action in Washington DC on June 6.

Sponsoring organizations include ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom, National Council of Arab Americans (NCA), Free Palestine Alliance (FPA), Al-Awda - Palestine Right of Return Coalition, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and more!

Contact us at 415-821-6545 or to endorse or volunteer!

The June 6 demonstration is a major undertaking and we can't do it without the support of the large number of people who are standing with Palestine. Please click this link right now to make a generous donation:


Kindly share this announcement with others.
(Sorry for duplication due to cross-posting.)

Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice
invites you to participate in


A workshop devoted to building our movement
across racial, ethnic and gender lines.

Led by mesh < Mong J-Irizarry, Director
Idriss Stelley Action & Resource Center

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
(lunch provided)

at California Nurses Association
2000 Franklin Street, Oakland

A short business meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Take part in an eye opener/values clarification workshop that will enable us to
build a more diverse, inclusive and representative movement
and better connect the dots between the War Abroad and the War at Home.

This workshop is open to both members and non-members of LC4PJ, so invite others.

Please RSVP
so that we have sufficient food for everyone.
Let us know if you prefer a vegetarian meal.

$5-10 donation requested but not required to cover cost of food.

(510) 263-5303



850 Bryant St. @ 7th., San Francisco

The SF 8 are Black community elders and activists arrested in January
2007 on charges related to the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police
officer. The case against the SF8 is a frame up based on
torture-induced "confessions" and fabricated evidence. The same case
was thrown out of court 30 years ago but was revived after 9/11 with
money from Homeland Security. After two and a half long years, the
preliminary hearing is finally starting on June 8 and is expected to
last for three months. The hearing will determine whether or not the
SF8 will go to trial.

In an effort to bolster the very weak case against the SF8, the San
Francisco Chronicle just published a sensationalistic article filled
with racist innuendos and unsubstantiated implications. Without
offering one shred of evidence, the article (John Koopman, 5/24)
implies that the murder of a young white woman in 1971 is somehow
linked to the SF8. We must demand that the Chronicle and other
corporate media stop circulating such blatant misinformation!

* Attend court during the preliminary hearing from June to September (Monday through Thursday)
* Sign the open letter demanding that Attorney General Jerry
Brown drop the charges against the SF8 -

* Write the SF Chronicle demanding that they retract Koopman's
inflammatory article (
* Invite a speaker from the SF 8 Defense Committee to your school
or organization
* Donate to support the work to free the SF8 -
* Sign up to get regular information and updates about the SF8
case -




Appeals court to hear Pinkney defense June 9, 2009
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
The Michigan Citizen

To sign a petition in support of Pinkney:

On June 9, the State Appeals Court of Michigan will hear defense arguments in the case of Rev. Edward Pinkney. Pinkney, who is the leader of the Benton Harbor Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers (BANCO), was convicted by a Berrien County, all-white jury in March 2007 on trumped-up charges related to false allegations of voter fraud.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan has taken Pinkney's case and was successful in winning his release on bond in December 2008, pending the outcome of the appeal.

Pinkney was convicted of four felony counts and one misdemeanor after heading a successful recall campaign against a City Commissioner.

As a result of the recall, the courts in Berrien County overturned the election results citing irregularities. The first trial against Pinkney ended in a hung jury in 2006. The charges were reinstated leading to Pinkney's conviction and subsequent house arrest. He was initially sentenced to one year in jail and four years probation by Berrien County Judge Alfred Butzbaugh.

Pinkney was placed on a tether and not allowed to step outside of his home. His phone calls were monitored and he was prohibited from engaging in community or church activities in Berrien County.

When Pinkney published an article in the Chicago-based People's Tribune newspaper criticizing Judge Butzbaugh's actions in his case, Berrien County hauled Pinkney into courtroom in December of 2007. He was charged with threatening the life of the trial judge and sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison because in the article he had quoted the Book of Deuteronomy 28:14-22.

Over the next year Pinkney was transferred to over six correctional facilities throughout the state.

A nationwide campaign in his defense drew worldwide attention to the pastor's plight as a political prisoner. Even though Pinkney was released on appeal bond on December 24, 2008, his conditions of probation are draconian.

Rev. Pinkney's bond hearing was held in the same Berrien County court system. Under his appeal bond he is denied the right to preach, grant interviews, write articles, address crowds or engage in politics.

Support Builds for Appeals Hearing

In March three friend-of the court briefs were filed in support of overturning the conviction of Rev. Pinkney. A broad-based group of religious organizations, law professors and free speech advocates submitted the legal documents.

"We are thrilled with the overwhelming support from the religious community, constitutional scholars and free speech organizations," said Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan Legal Director. "The groups persuasively argue for the fundamental American principle that a preacher cannot be thrown in prison for his religious speech even if some find it offensive."

The religious freedom brief encompasses the views of numerous faith-based organizations.

Another brief was submitted by 18 law professors from various universities including Wayne State Law School, University of Detroit Law School and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. The brief states that "In this country, under this Constitution, and on this Court's watch, he must not be imprisoned for speaking his conscience."

Also the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression argued in its brief that "In finding that Rev. Pinkney's newspaper editorial violated his conditions of probation, the lower court punished speech at the core of First Amendment protection: public criticism of the judiciary."

Berrien County and American Apartheid

This southwest Michigan county is a stark representation of racism and national oppression in the United States. Benton Harbor, which is over 90 percent African American, is one of the most underdeveloped cities in the state of Michigan. In neighboring St. Joseph, a nearly all-white city, the standard of living is much higher and it is the seat of the county where the court is located.

Over the last several years a so-called development project, Harbor Shores, has unveiled plans to take control of large sections of Benton Harbor to construct a golf course and residential enclave for the wealthy. These plans, along with astronomical foreclosure and unemployment rates, are forcing many residents of Benton Harbor to leave the area.

According to an article published by Dorothy Pinkney, the wife of the persecuted minister, the presiding trial Judge Butzbaugh has interests in the Harbor Shores development project. The Whirlpool Corporation, which is highly-influential in the region, is major promoter of the Harbor Shores scheme.

"My husband was denied due process and the right under state law to an impartial decision maker because the trial judge, Alfred Butzbaugh, had a financial interest in the development of Harbor Shores. This huge development project is what motivated my husband to seek the recall of the corrupt Benton Harbor City Commissioner Glen Yarbrough," Dorothy Pinkney wrote.

She continues by pointing out that "The trial court's financial interest in the Harbor Shores project was not known to my husband until after the trial. The Harbor Shores project which has been primarily pressed by Cornerstone Alliance on behalf of Whirlpool Corporation began in 1998 when the community economic development corporation was formed by John Dewane of the law firm Butzbaugh and Ryan." (BANCO website, April 2009)

The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI), the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO) and the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) are mobilizing people to attend the appeals hearing for Rev. Pinkney on June 9.

The hearing will take place in Grand Rapids at the Court of Appeals Building, 350 Ottawa St at 9:00 a.m.

For information on transportation from the Detroit area please call MECAWI at 313.680.5508. [For other Michigan transportation, contact]


Urgent News
Hearing on Death Penalty June 30, Sacramento

On May 1st, the State of California announced that it is moving forward with developing execution procedures in order to comply with a recent legal ruling and resume executions, which have been on hold for more than three years.

The State will be holding a hearing on Tuesday, June 30th from 9am to 3pm in Sacramento to hear public comments about the proposed execution procedures.

Death Penalty Focus, along with our allies, will be organizing a critical Day of Action to End the Death Penalty on June 30th.

What You Can Do to Help:

1. Please plan to attend the hearing on June 30th in Sacramento. We will be organizing buses from the SF Bay Area (more details to be announced very soon).


We need to pack the room with more than 300 hundred supporters. More than one hundred individuals will be needed to give public comment. If they cannot accommodate everyone who signs up to speak, it is possible they will have to schedule another hearing.

After the hearing, we will head to the Capitol to share ours views with elected officials.

2. Please plan to submit a written comment to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). In just a few days we will be sending out suggestions for your comments and instructions on how to submit your comments. The CDCR is required by law to review and respond to every written comment. We need to generate thousands of comments from across the state, country and globe. We need to flood them with paperwork.

Please help us make this Day of Action a success!

Legislative Successes

Colorado came very close to ending the death penalty this month when their State Senate voted 17-18 in favor of replacing the death penalty with life without parole and redirecting funding to solve murders. The State House has already passed the bill by a vote of 33-32.

On May 13, the Connecticut House voted 90-56 in favor of ending the death penalty. The bill now moves on to the Senate.

Several abolition bills are still active in other states, including New Hampshire, Illinois, Washington, and also in the U.S. Senate.


Dear Brothers and Sisters:

On behalf of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations, we are writing to invite you and members of your organization to attend a national antiwar conference to be held July 10-12, 2009 at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The purpose of this conference is to bring together antiwar and social justice activists from across the country to discuss and decide what we can do together to end the wars, occupations, bombing attacks, threats and interventions that are taking place in the Middle East and beyond, which the U.S. government is conducting and promoting.

We believe that such a conference will be welcomed by the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine and Iran, who are the victims of these policies. It will also be welcomed by victims of the depression-type conditions in this country, with tens of millions losing jobs, homes, health care coverage and pensions, while trillions of dollars are spent bailing out Wall Street and the banks, waging expansionist wars and occupations, and funding the Pentagon's insatiable appetite.

This will be the National Assembly's second conference. The first was held in Cleveland last June and it was attended by over 400 people, including top leaders of the antiwar movement and activists from many states. After discussion and debate, attendees voted - on the basis of one person, one vote - to urge the movement to join together for united spring actions. The National Assembly endorsed and helped build the March actions in Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the April actions in New York City.

We are all aware of the developments since our last conference - the election of a new administration in the U.S., the ongoing occupation of Iraq, the escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the horrific Israeli bombing of Gaza, and the extreme peril of an additional war in the Middle East, this time against Iran. Given all this, it is crystal clear that a strong, united, independent antiwar movement is needed now more than ever. We urge you to help build such a movement by attending the July conference and sharing your ideas and proposals with other attendees regarding where the antiwar movement goes from here.

For more information, please visit the National Assembly's website at, email us at, or call 216-736-4704. We will be glad to send you upon request brochures announcing the July conference (a copy is attached) and you can also register for the conference online. [Please be aware that La Roche College is making available private rooms with baths at a very reasonable rate, but will only guarantee them if reserved by June 25.]

Yours for peace, justice and unity,
National Assembly Administrative Body

Zaineb Alani, Author of The Words of an Iraqi War Survivor & More; Colia Clark, Chair, Richard Wright Centennial Committee, Grandmothers for Mumia Abu-Jamal; Greg Coleridge, Coordinator, Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC) and Economic Justice and Empowerment Program Director, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee (AFSC); Alan Dale, Iraq Peace Action Coalition (MN); Donna Dewitt, President, South Carolina AFL-CIO; Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace; Jerry Gordon, Former National Co-Coordinator of the Vietnam-Era National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC) and Member, U.S. Labor Against the War Steering Committee; Jonathan Hutto, Navy Petty Officer, Author of Anti-War Soldier; Co-Founder of Appeal for Redress; Marilyn Levin, Coordinating Committee, Greater Boston United for Justice with Peace, Middle East Crisis Coalition; Jeff Mackler, Founder, San Francisco Mobilization for Peace, Jobs and Justice; Fred Mason, President, Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO and Co-Convenor, U.S. Labor Against the War; Mary Nichols-Rhodes, Progressive Democrats of America/Ohio Branch; Lynne Stewart, Lynne Stewart Organization/Long Time Attorney and Defender of Constitutional Rights [Bay Area United Against War also was represented at the founding conference and will be there again this year. Carole Seligman and I initiated the motion to include adding opposition to the War in Afghanistan to the demands and title of the National Assembly.



Sign up here and spread the word:

On October 10-11, 2009, we will gather in Washington DC from all across
America to let our elected leaders know that *now is the time for full equal
rights for LGBT people.* We will gather. We will march. And we will leave
energized and empowered to do the work that needs to be done in every
community across the nation.

This site will be updated as more information is available. We will organize
grassroots, from the bottom-up, and details will be shared on this website.

Our single demand:

Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.

Our philosophy:

As members of every race, class, faith, and community, we see the struggle
for LGBT equality as part of a larger movement for peace and social justice.

Our strategy:

Decentralized organizing for this march in every one of the 435
Congressional districts will build a network to continue organizing beyond




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


Don't let them kill Troy Davis

The case of Troy Davis highlights the need for criminal justice reform in the United States.

Please help us fight for the rights -- and life -- of Troy Davis today by signing the petition below, asking Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to act on behalf of justice and commute Troy Davis's death sentence to ensure that Georgia does not put to death a man who may well be innocent.

Mr. Davis has a strong claim to innocence, but he could be executed without a court ever holding a hearing on his claims. Because of this, I urge you to act in the interests of justice and support clemency for Troy Davis. An execution without a proper hearing on significant evidence of innocence would compromise the integrity of Georgia's justice system.

As you may know, Mr. Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of police officer Mark MacPhail, a conviction based solely on witness testimony. Seven of the nine non-police witnesses have recanted or contradicted their trial testimony.

The courts, citing procedural rules and time limits, have so far refused to hold an evidentiary hearing to examine these witnesses. Executive clemency exists, and executive action - and your leadership - is required to preserve justice when the protections afforded by our appeals process fail to do so.

Thank you for your attention.

See also:

In the Absence of Proof
Op-Ed Columnist
May 23, 2009


Support the troops who refuse to fight!






1) The Deadly Toll of Abortion by Amateurs
June 2, 2009

2) Tribes gather at border to protest new passport requirement
By K.C. Mehaffey
World staff writer
Posted June 02, 2009

3) Obama Demands Right to Recruit Minors for Military
Atheo News
April 27, 2009

4) Summit Fails to Reach Accord on Cuba
June 4, 2009

5) U.S. Report Finds Errors in Afghan Airstrikes
June 3, 2009

6) Officials Report Suicide of Guantánamo Detainee
June 3, 2009

7) Texas: Convicted Judge Submits Resignation
National Briefing | Southwest
June 3, 2009

8) To honor the memory of Dr. Tiller,
we need to carry on the fight for reproductive rights
National Radical Women
625 Larkin St. Suite 202, San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone 415-864-1278,

9) Jobless Rate in Europe Rises Further
June 3, 2009

10) Dr. Tiller's Murder: Fascist Terrorism
and Its Pampered Apologists
By Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
Attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice
Statement on behalf of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition

11) Katrina Victims Will Not Have to Vacate Trailers
June 4, 2009

12) Slump Pushing Cost of Drugs Out of Reach
June 4, 2009

13) UE Local 1147 serves notice on Wells Fargo
By Stephanie Weiner
June 2009

14) Dr. Tiller’s Important Job
By Judith Warner
June 4, 2009, 9:07 pm


1) The Deadly Toll of Abortion by Amateurs
June 2, 2009

BEREGA, Tanzania — A handwritten ledger at the hospital tells a grim story. For the month of January, 17 of the 31 minor surgical procedures here were done to repair the results of “incomplete abortions.” A few may have been miscarriages, but most were botched operations by untrained, clumsy hands.

Abortion is illegal in Tanzania (except to save the mother’s life or health), so women and girls turn to amateurs, who may dose them with herbs or other concoctions, pummel their bellies or insert objects vaginally. Infections, bleeding and punctures of the uterus or bowel can result, and can be fatal. Doctors treating women after these bungled attempts sometimes have no choice but to remove the uterus.

Pregnancy and childbirth are among the greatest dangers that women face in Africa, which has the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality — at least 100 times those in developed countries. Abortion accounts for a significant part of the death toll.

Maternal mortality is high in Tanzania: for every 100,000 births, 950 women die. In the United States, the figure is 11, and it is even lower in other developed countries. But Tanzania’s record is neither the best nor the worst in Africa. Many other countries have similar statistics; quite a few do better and a handful do markedly worse.

Eighty percent of Tanzanians live in rural areas, and the hospital in Berega — miles from paved roads and electric poles — is a typical rural hospital, struggling to deal with the same problems faced by hospitals and clinics in much of the country. Abortion is a constant worry.

Worldwide, there are 19 million unsafe abortions a year, and they kill 70,000 women (accounting for 13 percent of maternal deaths), mostly in poor countries like Tanzania where abortion is illegal, according to the World Health Organization. More than two million women a year suffer serious complications. According to Unicef, unsafe abortions cause 4 percent of deaths among pregnant women in Africa, 6 percent in Asia and 12 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Reliable figures on abortion in Tanzania are hard to come by, but the World Health Organization reports that its region, Eastern Africa, has the world’s second-highest rate of unsafe abortions (only South America is higher). And Africa as a whole has the highest proportion of teenagers — 25 percent — among women having unsafe abortions.

The 120-bed hospital in Berega depends on solar panels and a generator, which is run for only a few hours a day. Short on staff members, supplies and even water, the hospital puts a lot of its scarce resources into cleaning up after failed abortions.

The medical director, Dr. Paschal Mdoe, 30, said many patients who had had the unsafe abortions were 16 to 20 years old, and four months pregnant. He said there was a steady stream of cases, much as he had seen in hospitals in other parts of the country.

“It’s the same everywhere,” he said.

On a Friday in January, 6 of 20 patients in the women’s ward were recovering from attempted abortions. One, a 25-year-old schoolteacher, lay in bed moaning and writhing. She had been treated at the hospital a week earlier for an incomplete abortion and now was back, bleeding and in severe pain. She was taken to the operating room once again and anesthetized, and Emmanuel Makanza, who had treated her the first time, discovered that he had failed to remove all the membranes formed during the pregnancy. Once again, he scraped the inside of her womb with a curet, a metal instrument. It was a vigorous, bloody procedure. This time, he said, it was complete.

Mr. Makanza is an assistant medical officer, not a fully trained physician. Assistant medical officers have education similar to that of physician assistants in the United States, but with additional training in surgery. They are Tanzania’s solution to a severe shortage of doctors, and they perform many basic operations, like Caesareans and appendectomies. The hospital in Berega has two.

Abortions in Berega come in seasonal waves — March and April, August and September — in sync with planting and harvests, when a lot of socializing goes on, Dr. Mdoe said. He said rumor had it that many abortions were done by a man in Gairo, a town west of Berega. In some cases, he said, the abortionist only started the procedure, knowing that doctors would have to finish the job.

Dr. Mdoe said he suspected that some of the other illegal abortionists were hospital workers with delusions of surgical skill.

“They just poke, poke, poke,” he said. “And then the woman has to come here.” Sometimes the doctors find fragments of sticks left inside the uterus, an invitation to sepsis.

In the past some hospitals threatened to withhold care until a woman identified the abortionist (performing abortions can bring a 14-year prison term), but that practice was abandoned in favor of simply providing postabortal treatment. Still, women do not want to discuss what happened or even admit that they had anything other than a miscarriage, because in theory they can be prosecuted for having abortions. The law calls for seven years in prison for the woman. So doctors generally do not ask questions.

“They are supposed to be arrested,” Dr. Mdoe said. “Our work as physicians is just to help and make sure they get healed.”

He went on, “We as medical personnel think abortion should be legal so a qualified person can do it and you can have safe abortion.” There are no plans in Tanzania to change the law.

The steady stream of cases reflects widespread ignorance about contraception. Young people in the region do not seem to know much or care much about birth control or safe sex, Dr. Mdoe said.

In most countries the rates of abortion, whether legal or illegal — and abortion-related deaths — tend to decrease when the use of birth control increases. But only about a quarter of Tanzanians use contraception. In South Africa, the rate of contraception use is 60 percent, and in Kenya 39 percent. Both have lower rates of maternal mortality than does Tanzania. South Africa also allows abortion on request.

But in other African nations like Sierra Leone and Nigeria, abortion is not available on request, and the figures on contraceptive use are even lower than Tanzania’s and maternal mortality is higher. Nonprofit groups are working with the Tanzanian government to provide family planning, but the country is vast, and the widely distributed rural populations makes many people extremely hard to reach.

Geography is not the only obstacle. An assistant medical officer, Telesphory Kaneno, said: “Talking about sexuality and the sex organs is still a taboo in our community. For a woman, if it is known that she is taking contraceptives, there is a fear of being called promiscuous.”

In interviews, some young women from the area who had given birth as teenagers said they had not used birth control because they did not know about it or thought it was unsafe: they had heard that condoms were unsanitary and that birth control pills and other hormonal contraceptives could cause cancer.

Mr. Kaneno said the doctors were trying to dispel those taboos and convince women that it was a good thing to be able to choose whether and when to get pregnant.

“It is still a long way to go,” he said.


2) Tribes gather at border to protest new passport requirement
By K.C. Mehaffey
World staff writer
Posted June 02, 2009

CHOPAKA — Tribal members who live both north and south of the U.S.-Canadian border came together at the 49th parallel Monday in unified opposition to new requirements to show a passport to enter the United States by land.

With permission from the U.S. and Canadian governments, the tribes pulled down part of a barbed-wire fence that separates land in the Chopaka Valley owned by the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington, and the Okanagan Nation Alliance in British Columbia.

Several hundred people gathered in this remote and narrow valley for a peaceful protest against the new passport requirement.

Beginning Monday, people entering the United States are now required to show a passport, or an enhanced driver’s license. Through the summer, tribal government-issued membership cards will also be allowed, officials said. But it’s unclear whether tribal identification will continue to be allowed, or whether tribes can come up with their own enhanced membership cards for border crossings. Tribes are still meeting with federal officials to resolve the issue.

Those who gathered Monday heard speeches, visited with relatives, and followed drummers across the border and back again under watchful but friendly eyes of Royal Canadian Mounted Police, U.S. Border Patrol, and Colville Tribal Police. Some carried signs declaring, "Salish People Have No Border," and "Okanagan Shuswap Confederacy Still Exists."

Speakers, again and again, said they do not recognize this border that, when imposed in the mid-1800s by the U.S. and British governments, split families and tribes.

Colville Tribal councilman John Stensgar said the requirement for a passport, or an enhanced driver’s license, will only cause further divisions.

"Many of our people will not be able to get passports" or enhanced driver’s licenses, he said. A birth certificate is needed for both documents, and they weren’t born in a hospital and never got one, he said.

Joe Pierre, a descendant of Chief Moses who offered the morning prayer in Salish, said the fence along the border cannot keep his people apart.

"My voice, my language, goes right across the country like this breeze," he told the crowd, urging them not to forget that this is their land.

Tribal leaders from the Colville Confederated Tribes and the Okanagan Nation Alliance organized this gathering after meeting three weeks ago at the Omak Longhouse on the Colville Indian Reservation to unify the tribes.

Colville Tribal Chairwoman Jeanne Jerred said that was an historic meeting, and Monday’s gathering only the first step toward demonstrating that the tribes are still one.

She told those gathered that tribal people never needed identification to recognize one another.

"We know one another by looking at each others’ faces," she said. "We know one another because our elders have taught us to recognize your family."

She said the tribes will continue to work with the U.S. government to ensure that tribal identification will be accepted for border crossings.

Stewart Phillip, Grand Chief of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, are now committed "to collaborate on the issues that confront our peoples on both sides of this imaginary line here."

Before serving a salmon dinner to those gathered, Colville Tribal elder Mary Marchand offered a prayer, and urged those gathered to learn their native language, and culture. "If you haven’t had the chance to learn it, as long as you’re alive, you’ve still got a chance," she said, and added,

"It’s true, we are one people."

K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512


3) Obama Demands Right to Recruit Minors for Military
Atheo News
April 27, 2009

Humboldt County, California voters passed measures F and J last November prohibiting military recruiters from initiating contact with minors. Now the Obama administration is demanding that the law be overturned. A court hearing is scheduled for June 9 in Oakland, California. The measures which passed by a large margin allow recruitment to occur if the minor initiates contact. Federal government lawyers claim "irreparable harm" if the laws stand.

The cities of Eureka and Arcata cite international treaties which prohibit recruitment of children under 17. If the Cities prevail over the Obama administration in court, the legislation could likely be brought before voters in communities across the nation. Enforcement of the laws is on hold pending the court action.

The author of the legislation, Dave Meserve, described the ordinances as protecting youth from slick and persistent professional salesmen who identify the children as "prospects" though never reveal the facts that 18% of Iraq war veterans return with traumatic brain injuries and 20% with diagnosed post traumatic stress disorder.

"The federal government sets no minimum age limit below which recruiters may not contact kids to promote military enlistment" writes Meserve. An official Recruiter Handbook has this advice: "You will find that establishing trust and credibility with students, even seventh and eighth graders, has a strong impact on your high school and post-secondary school recruiting efforts."

While minors can't enlist without parental consent they can be signed up in the Delayed Entry Program, where they commit to enlistment after they turn eighteen. Those who have second thoughts are routinely misinformed about their right to rescind the commitment, in many instances the highly pressured recruiters resort to false threats of prosecution.

Dawn Blanken, a counselor with the GI Rights Hotline, has written that a common problem voiced by callers is that promises are made by the recruiter that cannot be kept. "A promised job (MOS), a particular base, school, a non-deploying assignment, all disappear when the recruit arrives at basic training. Often soldiers accept this situation, complete their training and move forward." However, as an example, "a seventeen year old, in a single parent household, with younger siblings, and a mother undergoing treatment for cancer, is vulnerable to promises (often misrepresented) of pay, benefits, assignments, education and "career opportunities" available through enlistment that a more mature adult would be able to analyze more critically."

Soldiers can be reassigned to a different branch of the military. Some are misled into enlistment, being told they can "opt out" after arriving at basic training by "just talking" with their drill instructor. In the army once a recruit reports for basic training the recruiters quota is credited. "As a result of this misinformation, many of these kids go AWOL from basic training, or their first duty station, then call the Hotline for information."

In her counseling, Blanken has found that "recruits who experience difficulties during training risk being victims of violence perpetrated by squad leaders, fellow recruits, and even instructors, who become frustrated at the struggling soldierʼs limitations, or failures, and resort to violence as a motivational tool and a method to affect morale in the rest of the unit. This violence and hazing is always debilitating, sometimes disabling, and occasionally deadly. Some complete their training and even a deployment, but can, even years into their term of service, get into trouble over issues stemming from recruitment violations. These problems can result in disciplinary issues and action against them, or charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and court martial and the discharges these people can receive can impede their future education and career goals. The worst cases end in suicide."

Background: America's Child Soldiers: US Military Recruiting Children to Serve in the Armed Forces November 2008


4) Summit Fails to Reach Accord on Cuba
June 4, 2009

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Thirty-four members of the Organization of American States gathered here Tuesday to argue over whether to readmit Cuba. By the end of the day, the United States had failed in an attempt to broker a deal that would have lifted the ban on Havana.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emerged from talks with the foreign ministers of nine North and South American countries after an unsuccessful struggle to hash out a compromise that would have granted Cuba membership, provided its regime accepted democratic principles.

“There is no consensus, and there is no agreement to take any action,” Mrs. Clinton said to reporters just before leaving Honduras to fly to Cairo for President Obama’s speech to the Islamic world on Thursday.

A few hours later, Thomas A. Shannon Jr., an assistant secretary of state, confirmed that the talks had broken off — all but guaranteeing that the organization would not agree on how to treat Cuba.

On one level, it seems a sterile debate: Cuba has said often and loudly that it does not want to rejoin the organization. But on a deeper level, the meeting has showcased Latin America’s resurgent political left, which has seized on Cuba as an issue with which to press the United States.

It has also dramatized the challenges that Mr. Obama will face as he seeks to engage old American foes, on his own timetable. While a few Latin American leaders praised Mr. Obama’s overtures to Cuba, his cautious steps seemed only to redouble their calls to go farther and faster.

One after another, the leaders stepped forward to demand that the 47-year-old suspension of Cuba’s membership be lifted immediately. Several condemned it as a relic of the cold war.

“We cannot leave San Pedro Sula without correcting that other day that will live in infamy,” said President José Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, referring to the organization’s meeting in 1962 at which Cuba was banned.

“Our brothers and sisters in Cuba,” Mr. Zelaya said, “have been suffering for so long as a result of the blockade that has been imposed by one of the most powerful economies in the world.”

Mrs. Clinton said the Obama administration wanted to turn the page with Cuba, too. But the United States has insisted that the Cuban government demonstrate it is ready to uphold the democratic principles enshrined in a 2001 charter adopted by the Organization of American States.

The United States first proposed a resolution that would maintain the ban on Cuba, but would lay out a path for Havana to be reinstated. Nicaragua argued for lifting the suspension without conditions, while two other resolutions by Honduras and other countries sought to find a middle ground.

American negotiators have since agreed to lift the suspension, but to make Cuba’s participation contingent on its adherence to democratic principles. They would also require Cuba to petition for membership.

“We think we’ve succeeded in raising a lot of questions in the minds of O.A.S. members,” Mrs. Clinton said. But she added, “Since we don’t agree with the bare-bones proposal, if there’s no action, that’s fine with us, because we think action has to be better thought out.”

American officials did not rule out that Nicaragua and Venezuela might force a vote on readmitting Cuba without any conditions. And they might be able to round up a majority of members.

That would be a stinging repudiation of the United States, which supplies 60 percent of the financing for the O.A.S., and of the Obama administration, which has made reaching out to Cuba one of its diplomatic hallmarks.

Mrs. Clinton seemed tired but satisfied, she said, that the United States had moved the debate “very dramatically.”

Whatever the outcome, the debate over Cuba has provided a pretext for left-wing leaders — both fresh faces and old stalwarts — to take aim at the United States. Sometimes it was difficult to tell whether they were complaining about Cuba’s exclusion or other old grievances against the United States.

President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, a former guerrilla leader, described the Cuban ban as an act of American imperialism. And indeed Cuba today derides the organization as a tool of Washington.

While Mr. Ortega said Mr. Obama had “shown good will,” he said the president was trapped by the policies of his predecessors. “The O.A.S. continues to be an instrument of domination of the United States,” he said. “That’s why this meeting took on a very deep meaning.”

Mrs. Clinton made this trip to reach out to Latin America’s new leaders. On Monday, she attended the presidential inauguration of a leftist leader in El Salvador, Mauricio Funes. Some analysts question why this debate had to play out at the Organization of American States, especially since it could have kept busy with issues like the economic crisis battering the region.


5) U.S. Report Finds Errors in Afghan Airstrikes
June 3, 2009

WASHINGTON — A military investigation has concluded that American personnel made significant errors in carrying out some of the airstrikes in western Afghanistan on May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians, according to a senior American military official.

The official said the civilian death toll would probably have been reduced if American air crews and forces on the ground had followed strict rules devised to prevent civilian casualties. Had the rules been followed, at least some of the strikes by American warplanes against half a dozen targets over seven hours would have been aborted.

The report represents the clearest American acknowledgment of fault in connection with the attacks. It will give new ammunition to critics, including many Afghans, who complain that American forces too often act indiscriminately in calling in airstrikes, jeopardizing the United States mission by turning the civilian population against American forces and their ally, the Afghan government.

Since the raid, American military commanders have promised to address the problem. On Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, nominated to be the American commander in Afghanistan, vowed that reducing civilian casualties was “essential to our credibility.”

Any American victory would be “hollow and unsustainable” if it led to popular resentment among Afghanistan’s citizens, General McChrystal told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a confirmation hearing.

According to the senior military official, the report on the May 4 raids found that one plane was cleared to attack Taliban fighters, but then had to circle back and did not reconfirm the target before dropping bombs, leaving open the possibility that the militants had fled the site or that civilians had entered the target area in the intervening few minutes.

In another case, a compound of buildings where militants were massing for a possible counterattack against American and Afghan troops was struck in violation of rules that required a more imminent threat to justify putting high-density village dwellings at risk, the official said.

“In several instances where there was a legitimate threat, the choice of how to deal with that threat did not comply with the standing rules of engagement,” said the military official, who provided a broad summary of the report’s initial findings on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry was not yet complete.

Before being chosen as the new commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal spent five years as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, overseeing commandos in Iraq and Afghanistan. Special Operations forces have been sharply criticized by Afghans for aggressive tactics that have contributed to civilian casualties.

During his testimony, General McChrystal said that strikes by warplanes and Special Operations ground units would remain an essential part of combat in Afghanistan. But he promised to make sure that these attacks were based on solid intelligence and that they were as precise as possible. American success in Afghanistan should be measured by “the number of Afghans shielded from violence,” not the number of enemy fighters killed, he said.

The inquiry into the May 4 strikes in the western province of Farah illustrated the difficult, split-second decisions facing young officers in the heat of combat as they balance using lethal force to protect their troops under fire with detailed rules restricting the use of firepower to prevent civilian deaths.

In the report, the investigating officer, Brig. Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, analyzed each of the airstrikes carried out by three aircraft-carrier-based Navy F/A-18 strike aircraft and an Air Force B-1 bomber against targets in the village of Granai, in a battle that lasted more than seven hours.

In each case, the senior military official said, General Thomas determined that the targets that had been struck posed legitimate threats to Afghan or American forces, which included one group of Marines assigned to train the Afghans and another assigned to a Special Operations task force.

But in “several cases,” the official said, General Thomas determined either that the airstrikes had not been the appropriate response to the threat because of the potential risk to civilians, or that American forces had failed to follow their own tactical rules in conducting the bombing runs.

The Afghan government concluded that about 140 civilians had been killed in the attacks. An earlier American military inquiry said last month that 20 to 30 civilians had been killed. That inquiry also concluded that 60 to 65 Taliban militants had been killed in the fight. American military officials say their two investigations show that Taliban fighters had deliberately fired on American forces and aircraft from compounds and other places where they knew Afghan civilians had sought shelter, in order to draw an American response that would kill civilians, including women and children.

The firefight began, the military said, when Afghan soldiers and police officers went to several villages in response to reports that three Afghan government officials had been killed by the Taliban. The police were quickly overwhelmed and asked for backup from American forces.

American officials have said that a review of videos from aircraft weapon sights and exchanges between air crew members and a ground commander established that Taliban fighters had taken refuge in “buildings which were then targeted in the final strikes of the fight,” which went well into the night.

American troop levels in Afghanistan are expected to double, to about 68,000, under President Obama’s new Afghan strategy.

In his previous job as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, General McChrystal oversaw units assigned to capture or kill senior militants. In his appearance before Congress on Tuesday, he was questioned on reports of abuses of detainees held by his commandos.

Under questioning by Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is the committee chairman, General McChrystal said he was uncomfortable with some of the harsh techniques that were officially approved for interrogation. At the time, such approved techniques included stress positions, sleep deprivation and the use of attack dogs for intimidation.

He said that all reports of abuse during his command were investigated, and that all substantiated cases of abuse resulted in disciplinary action. And he pledged to “strictly enforce” American and international standards for the treatment of battlefield detainees if confirmed to the post in Afghanistan.

Under questioning, General McChrystal also acknowledged that the Army had “failed the family” in its mishandling of the friendly-fire death of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the professional football star who enlisted in the Army after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

A final review by a four-star Army general cleared General McChrystal of any wrongdoing, but punished a number of senior officers who were responsible for administrative mistakes in the days after Corporal Tillman’s death. Initially, Army officials said the corporal had been killed by an insurgent ambush, when in fact he had been shot by members of his own Ranger team.


6) Officials Report Suicide of Guantánamo Detainee
June 3, 2009

A Yemeni detainee at Guantánamo Bay who had been on a long hunger strike apparently committed suicide late Monday, military officials said Tuesday.

The death was the first at the prison since President Obama took office, and detainees’ lawyers said it would focus new attention on conditions at the detention camp.

The detainee, 31, was identified as Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh al Hanashi, who has been imprisoned since 2002 at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Pentagon officials said he was a Taliban fighter who claimed at the camp that he had never killed anyone.

A terse announcement from the Pentagon described the death as an “apparent suicide” and said guards “found the detainee unresponsive and not breathing” while doing routine checks. It did not disclose a specific cause of death but said lifesaving measures had failed.

A spokesman for the Pentagon, Jose Ruiz, would not provide details, saying the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was investigating. Mr. Ruiz said an autopsy would be performed but added, “at this time they believe it was a suicide.”

David H. Remes, a lawyer who represents 16 other Yemeni prisoners at Guantánamo, said that Mr. Hanashi had been one of seven prisoners kept in a psychiatric ward at the prison and that he had been force-fed in a restraint chair. Mr. Remes said all the detainees in the psychiatric ward were kept under sedation. Guantánamo records show that Mr. Hanashi’s weight at one point fell to 87 pounds.

Although the death is the first in the Obama administration, there have been five prior deaths at the camp, including four suicides.

After three detainees killed themselves in June 2006, the commander at the time, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., drew international attention by asserting that “this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” Another detainee committed suicide in May 2007, and a detainee died of cancer in December 2007.

Shayana Kadidal, a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has coordinated Guantánamo cases, said the death of a psychiatric patient raised questions about the quality of care and would increase pressure on President Obama, who has said he would close the prison by January.

“Every day that passes makes it more likely that people will die in detention on President Obama’s watch,” Mr. Kadidal said.

Obama administration officials have said that the camp is now a well-run prison that complies with international standards. But detainees’ lawyers and human rights groups say that conditions there remain bleak, with many detainees held in solitary confinement.

Mr. Remes, the lawyer with other Yemeni clients, said many prisoners are desperate. “They harbored some hope,” he said, “that President Obama would move swiftly to resolve the situation, but they can’t see any progress so far or any light at the end of the tunnel.”

During a visit last month, one of Mr. Remes’s Yemeni clients cut his wrist and hurled the blood at Mr. Remes. Prison officials said they did not classify that as a suicide attempt.

Many Yemeni detainees have been caught in an international standoff. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have been reluctant to return them to Yemen because of security concerns.

Since President Obama took office, two Guantánamo detainees have been released. Of the remaining 239 detainees, 96 are Yemeni.

After seven years of imprisonment, Mr. Hanashi had only recently been given a lawyer and, other lawyers said, had yet to meet with the legal team. One of the lawyers, Eric P. Gotting, would not comment.

Much that is known of Mr. Hanashi was provided by military officials at his hearings at Guantánamo. They said he had ties to Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, an Iraqi Kurd now at Guantánamo who intelligence officials say was a top aide to Osama bin Laden.

The military officers said Mr. Hanashi had been seriously wounded by gunfire in Afghanistan in 2001 during a prison uprising against Afghan allies of the United States.


7) Texas: Convicted Judge Submits Resignation
National Briefing | Southwest
June 3, 2009

A convicted federal judge told President Obama that he would resign from the bench in June 2010, nearly a year after he enters prison for lying about sexually abusing two assistants. The judge, Samuel Kent, 59, of Federal District Court, will draw a full salary of $174,000 a year and benefits until the resignation takes effect, said his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin.


8) To honor the memory of Dr. Tiller,
we need to carry on the fight for reproductive rights
National Radical Women
625 Larkin St. Suite 202, San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone 415-864-1278,

The heart of every member of Radical Women goes out to the family,
friends and co-workers of Dr. George Tiller, a fallen hero for women's
rights. Dr. Tiller was gunned down Sunday morning at his church in
Wichita, Kansas. He was a courageous champion of a woman's right to
control her own body and destiny. Despite years of relentless rightwing
harassment, Dr. Tiller continued to provide a full range of reproductive
health services. His Women's Health Care Services clinic is one of just
three in the nation that provides late-term abortions.

For decades, ultra-right forces targeted Dr. Tiller and his clinic, bombing
the facility in 1985 and shooting Tiller in 1993. In 1991 and 2001 Operation
Rescue unsuccessfully attempted to shut the clinic down. Former Kansas
Attorney General Phill Kline launched an anti-choice witch-hunt against
Tiller that lasted for 15 years. But they were not able to silence or stop
him. Instead, he bravely persisted in defending women's freedom.

There is no question that Tiller's death is a political assassination. While
horrifying, it is not completely surprising. The anti-abortion movement has
a track record of mayhem and murder under a cover of sanctity. Recently,
far-right forces in general have become emboldened. A crashing
economy, skyrocketing prices, and desperate competition for jobs feed a
movement that blames single moms, immigrants, people of color and
queers for all society's ills and who express their ideology in violent action.

The murder of Dr. Tiller is a wake-up call to evaluate our approach to
winning reproductive justice. Some groups focus on winning seats for pro-
choice candidates, usually Democrats. Some have sought compromise in
an attempt to appease neo-conservatives. These strategies have failed.

What is necessary to defeat the bigots is to generate a powerful
movement to express the majority's belief that a woman must be able to
make the most crucial decisions about the direction of her life. Visible,
militant, multi-hued, multi-issue community organizing is what won
abortion rights and virtually every other gain of working people. That is
what is needed today, so that not one more abortion provider is injured,
killed or intimidated.

Radical Women calls on feminists to join together to build a united front
capable of stopping the ultra-right and winning survival needs such as full
reproductive rights, affordable housing, childcare and education, single-
payer healthcare, decent paying jobs, expanded human services, and an
end to U.S. wars. If you are interested in collaborating on this kind of effort,
contact Radical Women at or
206-722-6057 or find a local chapter near you.

Dr. Tiller's legacy is one of committed passion and unflinching resolve.
Let's honor his memory by rekindling the feminist movement to finally win
reproductive rights and full equality.

In struggle,

Anne Slater
Radical Women National Organizer


9) Jobless Rate in Europe Rises Further
June 3, 2009

PARIS — The unemployment rate in the European Union pushed higher in April, indicating that nascent signs of economic recovery had yet to be felt in the labor market.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the 16 countries that use the euro currency rose to 9.2 percent in April, the highest rate since September 1999, from 8.9 percent in March, the Eurostat agency, the bloc’s statistics office, said Tuesday. In April 2008, the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent.

For all 27 members of the European Union, the unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in April, up from 8.4 percent in March and 6.8 percent in April 2008.

Although there has been some evidence in recent weeks that the economic decline that intensified in Europe in the second half of last year is beginning to ease, economists say that the labor market lags behind many economic indicators and that unemployment commonly rises after a downturn.

Among European Union members, the highest unemployment rates were seen in Spain, at 18.1 percent, and Latvia, with 17.4 percent. The lowest unemployment rate was 3 percent recorded in the Netherlands, followed by 4.2 percent in Austria.

The unemployment level in France was 8.9 percent; in Germany it was 7.7 percent. Figures for Britain and Italy were not available. Unemployment stood at 8.9 percent in the United States in April.

The jobless rate has been creeping up despite the efforts of many countries to use public funds to dissuade companies from permanently laying off workers.

France, for example, has a program that allows troubled companies to draw on state money to pay their workers 60 percent of minimum hourly wages when they are temporarily laid off.


10) Dr. Tiller's Murder: Fascist Terrorism
and Its Pampered Apologists
By Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
Attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice
Statement on behalf of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition

The rampant terrorism and violence against women and health care professionals who dare to provide women's health services took its latest victim when Dr. George Tiller was brutally gunned down in his church on Sunday in Wichita, Kansas.

The government and the corporate media coddle these anti-women terrorists.

In the last 30 years, right-wing bigots have carried out 5,800 reported acts of violence against women's health care providers, including targeted assassination, bombings, arsons, death threats, kidnappings and assaults, according to NARAL.

Hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of women have been assaulted and harassed by the right wing as they tried to see a doctor.

The Fascist Strategy

By targeting and intimidating health care providers, the fascist movement hopes to effectively ban abortion services in the United States. If they were to succeed, not only would it deprive women of their fundamental right to control their own bodies, it would be a health care catastrophe. One out of three women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45, according to Planned Parenthood.

The only question is whether women will be maimed or left to die because they cannot access quality health providers. Dr. Tiller took over his medical practice from his father, a doctor who began performing abortions himself in the 1940s after a patient whom he refused to help died in a back-alley abortion.

Dr. Tiller, like many other health care heroes, kept providing abortion services to women despite the threats. He had been shot previously in both arms; had his office bombed, shot at and frequently vandalized; and he and his patients were routinely threatened, intimidated and attacked.

Dr. Tiller kept providing health care services because, as his family said in a statement, he was “a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere.” He was past retirement age, with four children and 10 grandchildren, and he lived under a virtual military siege because of the terrorist threats. But he didn't stop.

It Wasn't Just the Gunman

This assassination is the culmination of a coordinated assault by the right wing. This included the Kansas Attorney General's efforts to prosecute Tiller, the demonization of Dr. Tiller by Bill O'Reilly, who ran dozens of hit pieces targeting him as a "murderer," and by "Operation Rescue," which prominently called him "America's Doctor of Death."

In the aftermath of the murder, amid reports that the killer had worked with them, Operation Rescue scrambled to take down their prominent "Tiller Watch" webpage, apparently sanitizing it, while their founder continued to call Dr. Tiller a "mass murderer” and held a press conference to do so.

The New York Times coverage of the murder was pathetic. On its front page it stated, "Officials offered little insight into the motive, saying that they believed it was 'the act of an isolated individual' but that they were also looking into 'his history, his family, his associates.'"

The decision to question or suggest uncertainty as to the killer’s "motive" reflects an effort to depoliticize and isolate this most violent of political acts and to disconnect the killing from right-wing groups who seek as their goal to deprive women of their rights using assassination as they see fit. Some right-wing groups and leaders have been quick to announce that the killing was not a homicide, but a justifiable act of "salvation."

The mass media has leapt to the defense of many anti-woman, right-wing groups who directly targeted Dr. Tiller by giving their spokespeople more time in the wake of Dr. Tiller's death to express their primary grievance with his murder -- that it might make them look bad.

Fake Terrorism and Real Terrorism

In recent months, Dr. Tiller reported to the FBI that the threats were increasing.

Obviously, stopping real terrorism is not a "priority" for the FBI, which has allocated limitless resources to infiltrate and sabotage lawful political organizing all over the country. The FBI and police have disrupted and spied on progressive organizations that built a powerful anti-war movement in the last years. They have paid agents provocateur to infiltrate and frame up organizations and individuals engaged in dissent.

Nor is any mosque or Muslim community center safe from FBI infiltration and disruption activities. From Southern California to upstate New York, undercover FBI agents are trying to entrap Muslim youth into "terrorist" plots that emanate from the FBI itself.

The U.S. government's use of the terrorist label is used to frame up and imprison Muslims in the United States. Just last week in Dallas, representatives of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) were sentenced to as much as 65 years in prison for the “terrorist” crime of raising money for desperately needed humanitarian relief. HLF had been the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. The charity's "crime" was that the humanitarian relief was going to those starving and dying in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine. The U.S. government has determined that it is an act of terrorism to get medicine to hospitals and food to children when U.S. foreign policy supports the strangulation of a civilian population for geostrategic reasons.

When Anthrax Threats Were No Big Deal

Yet, when it comes to the right-wing organizations that engage in violence and threats, the FBI and the corporate media are conspicuously mute.

For instance, shortly after the September 11 attacks, letters containing anthrax were sent to media and Senate offices. Hundreds of anthrax threats were also sent to reproductive health clinics, according to the website of NARAL, which states: "Between October 15 and 23, 2001, more than 250 abortion and family planning clinics in 17 states and the District of Columbia received letters purporting to contain anthrax. In each instance, a powdery substance was accompanied by a letter stating, 'You have been exposed to anthrax. We are going to kill all of you.' An additional 270 letters were sent to clinics during the first week of November."

Very few people know about this kind of extreme terrorist intimidation. Can you imagine the reaction of the FBI and the media if anti-war organizers or Arab Americans were linked to anthrax threat letters? There would be screaming headlines and nationwide police sweeps.

Coddling Right Wing Terrorists

But in 2007, in Washington, D.C., when a man showed up at an immigrant rights rally, covertly carrying a map of the demonstration area with sight lines drawn on it, with a cache of weapons including a converted fully automatic M1-Carbine and apparent plans to massacre participants, you probably never heard about it. Why? Because the man, Tyler Froatz, was a right-wing vigilante bent on attacking immigrants and their supporters.

Froatz, who organized with the Free Republic and acted as a spokesman for the Minuteman, stalked a May Day demonstration in 2007. He was arrested after he was confronted by a courageous young woman working as an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition. She was then assaulted by him when she objected to the racist signs he was posting depicting the graphic slaughter of immigrants, including pregnant women and children.

In addition to the weapons Froatz brought with him, in his apartment was found a large arsenal of rifles, handguns, ammunition, a Molotov cocktail, a hand grenade and a 100,000-volt taser gun.

So is Froatz in the special terrorist prisons in Terre Haute or Marion? No. He was released to the custody of his parents in Connecticut and thereafter allowed to plead to a minor weapons charge. The U.S. Attorney’s Office never charged him with any terrorism-related offense or hate-crimes offense. And today, members of Froatz’s group, the Free Republic, celebrated this latest cold-blooded terrorist murder of Dr. Tiller in their postings.

More than Bullet-Proof Vests and Federal Marshals: A New Strategy is Needed

The murder of Dr. Tiller is a misogynist attack against all women. It is also the foreseeable outcome of a climate of bigotry and vilification fostered by the right wing, normalized by the media and the U.S. government.

A political calculus has been made by the government as to what will be deemed terrorism: what political acts will be crushed and what political violence will be supported or tolerated. As it stands, there is no mobilized effective counter to this fascist violence and the threat that it poses. It’s time for a new strategy and a new challenge. There must be a multi-faceted mobilization of women themselves and of all those men who stand with us against anti-woman bigotry.


11) Katrina Victims Will Not Have to Vacate Trailers
June 4, 2009

Hurricane Katrina victims around the Gulf Coast who were told to vacate their temporary trailers by the end of May will instead be allowed to buy them for $5 or less, White House officials announced on Wednesday.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will also give the 3,450 families still in trailers or temporary housing — including many elderly, poor and disabled people — priority for $50 million in permanent housing vouchers. The money for the vouchers was appropriated by Congress last year.

Some of those living in trailers are destitute and have no other housing. Others, including many people in New Orleans, are living in trailers outside their damaged homes, while waiting to complete repairs that would allow them to move back. The May 31 deadline set off a panic among both kinds of residents and raised an outcry because so much of the housing destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has yet to be replaced.

Residents were overjoyed to hear that they would not be evicted. “Are you serious?” asked Belinda Jenkins, a disabled woman living in a trailer in front of her house in the Seventh Ward of New Orleans. “Oh, wow. That’s a blessing.”

Ms. Jenkins and her husband had stored their clothes and important papers in their car, out of fear that they would come home to find their trailer gone.

Obama administration officials also said they would allocate additional money for case managers to help people find permanent housing. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has twice offered money to the Louisiana Recovery Authority for that purpose, but the program never materialized. This time, a senior administration official said, federal agencies will manage the program and hire experienced workers who will visit clients in person.

Advocates for Katrina evacuees were warily optimistic about the announcement, which Obama administration officials have characterized as an effort to fix a messy situation they inherited.

“It is a tremendous step in the right direction,” said Laura Tuggle, a housing lawyer at Southwest Louisiana Legal Services. “This is kind of an acknowledgment that there may have been some missteps along the way.”

Martha Kegel, the director of Unity of Greater New Orleans, a homeless service agency, said vouchers and case management were desperately needed, though she said she remained cautious.

“It’s been such a long history of FEMA making announcements in the media,” Ms. Kegel said, “and nothing much in the way of assistance has ever trickled down to the elderly and disabled people trying to repair their homes.”

The administration official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the subject, said trailer residents would be notified of the change in policy within a week. The official said families that had already left their trailers because they were afraid of eviction would be eligible for the vouchers if they met the income requirements.

And FEMA said no one would be forced out of a trailer. “No one will face evictions from a temporary unit while these new measures are implemented,” said Clark Stevens, a spokesman for the emergency agency.

Because of the severity of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the complexity of rebuilding, the temporary housing program lasted far longer than anyone anticipated. At the beginning of May, FEMA notified trailer residents that they had until the end of the month to vacate or legal action would be taken against them. An agency official said at the time that the trailers would be auctioned off or sold for scrap.

Almost two-thirds of those still in trailers are homeowners who are trying to complete their repairs. Many said they had been bilked by contractors or had received grants from the Road Home, a taxpayer-financed program to help rebuild houses, only in the last few months.

Susan Mangipano, a waitress living in Lacombe, La., said that after many false starts and a fight with her insurance company, renovations of her home were 75 percent complete. She had previously been told she could buy the trailer she was living in from FEMA for $9,000, a price far out of her reach. Ms. Mangipano, who had put all her things in storage in case the trailer was removed, said she would probably buy the mobile home for the giveaway price, but worried that it would be expensive to move it when it was no longer needed.

Mobile homes will be sold by the government for $5, and smaller “park model” travel trailers will go for $1. The smallest travel trailers, which do not meet the government’s definition of “manufactured housing,” and any units whose formaldehyde levels exceed safety standards, will not be sold. Of the 3,446 trailers now in use, about 1,160 are eligible to be sold. Families living in trailers not for sale will be able to apply for one of several hundred trailers that the agency hopes to donate through nonprofit groups.

Ms. Mangipano said she had been told that she would have to buy insurance and dig a new septic tank to qualify for a donated trailer.

The housing vouchers will help those who were renters before the storm and who make less than 50 percent of the area’s median income. The $50 million is enough for about 6,800 families.

The trailers were only one part of FEMA’s housing assistance program. Tens of thousands of other families moved into apartments that were paid for by the agency. There were also vouchers for the eligible among those families, but thousands have gone unused because of a bottleneck at the housing authorities that are supposed to be processing them. That program, which currently houses more than 16,000 families, was extended until Aug. 31.


12) Slump Pushing Cost of Drugs Out of Reach
June 4, 2009

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — A year or so ago, when customers buttonholed the pharmacists at Almand’s Drug Store here the questions were invariably about dosing or side effects. These days, they are almost always about cost.

Can I get this as a generic? Is the co-pay really that high? Will you match Wal-Mart’s $4 price? “I’m out of Lexapro,” a woman pleaded one recent Tuesday, speaking of her antidepressant. “Can I just have four pills until payday on Friday?”

Some customers request prices for a fistful of prescriptions, and then say they can fill only the cheapest two. Others ask which are most important.

“It can be a hard question to answer,” said Traci W. Suber, the head pharmacist. “The only thing I can do is let them know what they’re for, get them the cheapest available and encourage them to come back for the others when they can.”

Even with the Medicare drug benefit, even with the prevalence of low-cost generics, even with loss-leader discounting by big chains, many Americans still find themselves unable to afford the prescription medications that manage their life-threatening conditions.

In downtrodden communities like Rocky Mount, where unemployment has doubled to 14 percent in a year, the recession has heightened the struggle. National surveys consistently find that as many as a third of respondents say they are not complying with prescriptions because of cost, up from about a fourth three years ago.

Many customers at Almand’s Oakwood neighborhood store, particularly those too well off for Medicaid but unable to afford insurance, simply pick and choose among risks. They weigh not taking maintenance medications against more immediate needs like shelter and food.

The pharmacists see it every day. About eight months ago, they stopped automatically preparing refills for regular customers because they found that more than half were not being collected and had to be restocked.

One recent Wednesday, James S. Crawford, newly discharged from the hospital after his third heart attack, fanned six green slips across the counter as if showing a hand of cards. There were a pair for high blood pressure, one each for angina, cholesterol, and acid reflux, and a renal vitamin for his kidney disease. “I need to know the prices,” he said.

Ms. Suber, the pharmacist, explained what each drug was for and listed the co-payments under Mr. Crawford’s Medicare plan, ranging from $8.25 to $18.49 for a one-month supply. The renal vitamin, at $21.89, was not covered.

Mr. Crawford, 61, who makes do on $1,800 a month in Social Security and veterans’ benefits, decided he could afford only the heart, blood pressure and acid reflux pills. “If I can rob a bank,” he said, chuckling, “I’ll be back for the others.”

Before leaving, he handed over yet another prescription, just for safekeeping. It was for Plavix, an anticlotting drug that helps coronary patients avoid new blockages, and it had been written in early February after Mr. Crawford’s second heart attack. At $160, the co-payment was so high he had never considered filling it.

Some customers get by through a patchwork of assistance programs offered by governments, charities and drug makers. The only hospital in Rocky Mount, Nash General, donated about $60,000 in medications last year, and a newly established free clinic is spending up to $600 a month on discounted prescriptions at Almand’s.

But the need is much greater, and the impact is already felt downstream in clinics and emergency rooms where the ailing seek treatment when their diabetes or blood pressure spikes out of control.

Dr. John T. Avent, a physician at a low-income clinic near Almand’s, estimated that at least 80 percent of his patients were not taking prescribed medicines.

“They’ll say, ‘Well, Doc, I just couldn’t afford it; I’ve been out of it for a month now,’ ” Dr. Avent said. “By that time, of course, their blood pressure is highly elevated and their hemoglobin A1C is two to three times what it should be.”

Dr. Daniel C. Minior, who directs the emergency department at Nash General, said he was increasingly hearing from patients that they had lost jobs and could not afford medications. “The worrisome aspect is that it’s even occurring among younger and working-age people,” Dr. Minior said. “That’s not something we saw before.”

Rocky Mount, planted amid tobacco fields in eastern North Carolina, has seen the closings of mills and an exodus of jobs, compounding the devastation caused by flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The Almand family once owned a dozen pharmacies in the area, but only two survive.

The Oakwood store, in the heart of the African-American community, faces growing competition from mail orders. But business remains steady thanks to discount programs, partnerships with neighborhood clinics, while-you-wait service, $1 delivery and a friendly, familiar staff. Each morning, the pharmacy fills with the aroma of popcorn from the machine on the counter and Gloria Mabry, who runs the cash register, greets customers by calling them Baby or Sugar, whether she knows them or not.

More than 70 percent of the store’s patrons are covered by Medicare or Medicaid, and the pharmacy offers $4 generics to the uninsured. But customers taking a dozen or more medications may still struggle to afford even the modest co-payments under government plans (as low as $3 in the case of Medicaid).

Lisa A. Hylton, 29, from nearby Sharpsburg, said she had skipped twice-monthly refills three times this year on an albuterol inhaler for her asthmatic son, Hunter. Her husband, a pipefitter, had been working only intermittently and could not afford insurance during the idle stretches, Ms. Hylton said. “It makes me feel like I can’t supply for my young-uns.”

Jimmie L. Bryant, 56, had been laid off for a month when he walked into Almand’s with swollen glands and a one-time voucher from the Edgecombe County Department of Social Services. For the first time since he lost his job, the voucher enabled him to fill prescriptions for Synthroid, to control his hypothyroidism, and Xanax, for depression.

Mr. Bryant said he had tried to get refills from his physician, but was told he would have to schedule an office visit for $120, which he could not afford. Even when he was working and had insurance, Mr. Bryant said, he would alternate between the two prescriptions, week to week.

“At the end of the month, I’d have a little bit of what I need in my system,” he explained.

Similarly, Robert E. Brown, 60, who has heart disease and emphysema, said he regularly told the pharmacists at Almand’s to reshelve his prescriptions after being quoted prices of $100 or more. “I just hand them back,” he said. “I take the ones I can afford, and then trust in the Lord.”


13) UE Local 1147 serves notice on Wells Fargo
By Stephanie Weiner
June 2009

Rock Island, IL - On June 2, United Electrical (UE) members at Quad Cities Die Casting, along with members of the community, served Wells Fargo with a notice of default on the bank’s obligations to the U.S. working people. Wells Fargo is liquidating their factory and throwing 100 people out of work after 60 years of business.

Keith Scribner, a 19-year employee and president of UE Local 1174, said it simply in front of the Wells Fargo doors where the workers posted their demands, “Keep the financing going instead of closing.” Workers like Deb Johann, who has worked at Quad City Die Casting for 31 years, told the large crowd, “Keeping the money is shameful,” referring to the $25 billion of federal bailout funds sent in to Wells Fargo for just these kinds of cases. The rally included other union workers from AFSCME Council 31, the sheet metal workers and the Quad City Federation of Labor. Every media outlet in town covered the militant action.

Many of the workers spoke about the inspiration that they have gotten from the Republic Window and Door victories. In fact, on June 11 Quad Cities Die Casting workers from Moline will join their fellow UE Republic Window workers at a rally in Chicago. They also see their fight very much connected to the folks at Hartmarx, a Chicago-based suit maker that owns Seaford Clothing in Rock Island. They are also fighting for Wells Fargo to do the right thing on a bigger scale .

The Quad City Die Casting workers have been given notice of the plant closing on July 12. They have watched countless companies close around them and the terrible effect it has had on their city. These same Quad Cities Die Casting workers fought just a few years ago in a pitched lockout battle. The company has loyal customers that can help get the company profitable again.

Everybody in the country stands to gain from the efforts of these brave workers. And Quad Cities Die Casting workers, like Helen Ptacek, Keith Scribner, Deb Johann and others, are inviting even more people to back them up.


14) Dr. Tiller’s Important Job
By Judith Warner
June 4, 2009, 9:07 pm

The 9-year-old girl had been raped by her father. She was 18 weeks pregnant. Carrying the baby to term, going through labor and delivery, would have ripped her small body apart.

There was no doctor in her rural Southern town to provide her with an abortion. No area hospital would even consider taking her case.

Susan Hill, the president of the National Women’s Health Foundation, which operates reproductive health clinics in areas where abortion services are scarce or nonexisistent, called Dr. George Tiller, the Wichita, Kan., ob-gyn who last Sunday was shot to death by an abortion foe in the entry foyer of his church.

She begged.

“I only asked him for a favor when it was a really desperate story, not a semi-desperate story,” she told me this week. Tiller was known to abortion providers — and opponents — as the “doctor of last resort” — the one who took the patients no one else would touch.

“He took her for free,” she said. “He kept her three days. He checked her himself every few hours. She and her sister came back to me and said he couldn’t have been more wonderful. That’s just the way he was.”

Other patients of Dr. Tiller’s shared their stories this week on a special “Kansas Stories” page hosted by the Web site “A Heartbreaking Choice.”

One New York mother wrote of having been referred by an obstetrician to Tiller after learning, in her 27th week of pregnancy, that her soon-to-be son was “so very sick” that, once born, he’d have nothing more than “a brief life of respirators, dialysis, surgeries and pain.” In-state doctors refused to perform an abortion.

“The day I drove up to the clinic in Wichita, Kansas, to undergo the procedure that would end the life of my precious son, I also walked into the nightmare of abortion politics. In this world, reality rarely gets through the rhetoric,” wrote another mother, from Texas, of the shouts, graphic posters and protesters’ video camera that greeted her when she came to see Tiller.

Our understanding of what late abortion is like has been almost entirely shaped in public discourse by the opponents of abortion rights. In recent years, discussions of the issue have been filled with the gory details of so-called partial-birth abortion; the grim miseries that drive some women and girls to end their pregnancies after the first trimester have somehow been elided.

“Late abortion is not a failure of contraception. It’s for medical reasons,” Eleanor Smeal, the president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, who has worked to defend abortion providers like Tiller against harassment and violence since the mid-1980s, told me this week. “We’ve made pregnancy a fairy tale where there are no fetal complications, there’s no cancer, no terrible abuse of girls, no cases where to make a girl go all the way through a pregnancy is to destroy her. These are the realities of the story. That’s what Dr. Tiller worked with — the realities.”

There was a great deal of emotion in the air this week as the reality of Tiller’s death set in. Much of it was mournful, some was celebratory, some was cynical and self-serving.

There were the requisite expressions of disapproval and disavowal by politicians from both sides of the abortion divide. And yet it seemed to me that even from pro-choice politicians, the response was muted. In death, as in life, no one wanted to embrace this man who had specialized in helping women who learned late in their pregnancies that their fetuses had gross abnormalities.

It seemed that no one wanted to be too closely associated with the muck and mire of what Tiller had to do in carrying out the risky and emotionally traumatic second- and third-trimester abortions that other doctors and hospitals refused to do. In news reports, there was a tendency to frame the “abortion doctor’s” murder almost as a kind of combat death: a natural occupational hazard.

Yet Tiller — who went to work in a bulletproof vest, lived in a gated community and drove a bulletproof car — was a doctor, not a soldier. And it is precisely this kind of thinking — this viewing of his life and work through the lens of our most gruesome cultural warfare, this slippage and mixing up of medicine and politics — that left him largely unprotected at the time of his death.

Someone resembling Scott Roeder, the man charged in Dr. Tiller’s murder, was seen on Saturday trying to pour glue into the lock on the back door of a Kansas City clinic. Before that, abortion providers around the country had been telling local law enforcement and the United States Justice Department that harassment at their clinics was on the rise, and they were scared. The Feminist Majority Foundation had been hearing all spring that the atmosphere outside clinics was heating up in the wake of the new pro-choice president’s election. “We all lived through Clinton, the shootings in ’93 and ’94. We were concerned some of the extremists said they had to take the fight ‘back to the streets,’” Smeal said.

There are legal protections in place that ought to keep abortion providers like Tiller safe. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, passed by Congress after the 1993 murder of Dr. David Gunn outside his Pensacola, Fla., women’s health clinic and the attempted murder of Tiller that same year, prohibits property damage, acts or threats of force, and interference with and intimidation of anyone entering a reproductive health care facility.

When the federal law is backed by complementary state laws, and when local law enforcement officers apply those laws assiduously, serious violence greatly declines. When the law’s not applied strenuously, when vandalism goes uninvestigated, when protesters are allowed to photograph or videotape patients arriving at women’s health clinics, when death threats aren’t followed up, more serious acts of physical violence follow. In fact, when intimidation occurs at a clinic, the reported rate of violence triples, the Feminist Majority Federation’s 2008 National Clinic Violence Survey found.

“We really do need to arrest people who are trespassing. Arrest people who are gluing locks. Committing more minor violations of the law so criminal activity doesn’t escalate, so these criminals don’t feel emboldened,” said Vicki Saporta, the president of the National Abortion Federation. “In places where the laws are enforced, you don’t see violence escalate. Protesters generally go someplace where there’s a more hospitable climate,” she told me. But, she added, in a lot of communities, law enforcement views clinic violence as a political problem. “They don’t view it for what it is: criminal activity outside of a commercial establishment,” she said. “Law enforcement can’t treat this as a political issue. It’s a criminal issue.”

We as a nation cannot continue to provide a hospitable environment for the likes of Roeder because the thought of what happens to fetuses in late abortions turns our stomachs. We have to accept that sometimes terrible things happen to young girls. We have to face the fact that sometimes desired pregnancies go tragically wrong. We have to weigh our repugnance for late abortion against the consequences for women and girls of being denied life-saving medical treatment.

Only a tiny handful of doctors in this country will, like Dr. Tiller, provide abortion services for girls or women who are advanced in their pregnancies. These doctors aren’t well known to patients or even to other doctors, but they’re closely monitored by anti-abortion groups, who know where they work, where they live and where they worship. Roeder may have been a lone gunman, but in the largest possible sense, he did not act alone. The location of Tiller’s gated community was prominently featured on an easily-accessed Web site, along with a map of the streets surrounding his house. It was really only a matter of time before someone was unbalanced enough to take the bait.

Most Americans, I’m sure, do not believe that a 9-year-old should be forced to bear a child, or that a woman should have no choice but to risk her life to carry a pregnancy to term.

By averting our eyes from the ugliness and tragedy that accompany some pregnancies, we have allowed anti-abortion activists to define the dilemma of late abortion. We have allowed them to isolate and vilify doctors like Tiller.

We can no longer be complicit — through our muted disapproval or our complacency — in domestic terror.