Saturday, July 25, 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:





Dear friends,

We are asking that you phone and fax CA Attorney General Jerry Brown on Monday, July 27th demanding that he drop the charges against Francisco Torres, the last of the SF8 still facing prosecution. Brown knows there is no case against Francisco, but he needs to get the message from people all over the country.

**In order for this phone/fax campaign to be a success, we need you to help spread the word and take a few minutes to make the call and send the fax. Please send as many individual faxes as possible. We want to flood his office! And please also send us an email when you have done so at

**You can print out and use the attached letter to fax and/or use the phone
script below, all to Jerry Brown's office.

916-322-3360 #7 for comments

I am calling to demand that Attorney General Jerry Brown drop all charges against Francisco Torres of the San Francisco 8. The state of California recognized that there was insufficient evidence to move forward with the case and dropped charges against four of the men. There is clearly no basis to prosecute Francisco Torres, the only remaining person facing charges in connection with this 38-year old case which is based on torture-coerced evidence. It is an incredible waste of money in this time of severe budget crisis to proceed with this case, and is a huge injustice to Mr. Torres and his family. Drop all charges immediately!

TO FAX: 916-323-5341

Dear Attorney General Jerry Brown:
Thousands of people around the U.S. and the world have joined the call to drop all charges against the San Francisco 8. On July 6th the state of California recognized that there was insufficient evidence to move forward with the case and dropped charges against four of the men. There is clearly no basis to prosecute Francisco Torres, the only remaining person facing charges in connection with this 38-year old case which is based on torture-coerced evidence. It would be an unconscionable waste of tax payer money and an egregious injustice to Mr. Torres and his family to proceed with this case. I urge you in the strongest possible terms to drop the charges against Francisco Torres immediately!


For updates on the SF8, including information regarding Cisco's August 10th hearing and Herman and Jalil's fight for parole in New York state, please go to or call 415-226-1120.

Thank you,
The Committee for the Defense of the San Francisco 8

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977


National Call For Action And Endorsements at the
G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, PA
Sept. 19 - 25, 2009

Endorsers (list in formation): Iraq Veterans Against the War Chapter 61, Pittsburgh; PA State Senator Jim Ferlo; Veterans for Peace Chapter 047, Pittsburgh; National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations; Thomas Merton Center Pittsburgh; Codepink Pittsburgh Women for Peace; Bail Out The People; Green Party of Allegheny County; World Can't Wait; ISO (International Socialist Organization); WILPF (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom) Pittsburgh; Socialist Action; Ohio Valley Peace

Activists from Pittsburgh, the U.S., and across the globe will converge to protest the destructive policies of the G-20 - meeting in Pittsburgh this September 24-25.

The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors represents the world's economic leaders, intimately connected to the most powerful multi-national corporations that dominate the global economy. Their neo-liberal policies have squandered billions on war, plunged economies into deep recessions, worsened social, economic and political inequality, and polluted the earth.

We believe a better world is possible. We anticipate involvement and support from like-minded people and organizations across the country for projected actions from September 19-25:

People's Summit - Sept. 19, 21-22 (Saturday, Monday, Tuesday)

A partnership of educators and social justice groups is organizing a People's Summit to discuss global problems and seek solutions that are informed by the basic principles of genuine democracy and human dignity. This will bring together informed speakers and panels to discuss problems we face and possible solutions, also providing interactive workshop discussions.

Mass March on the G-20 - Friday, Sept. 25:
Money for human needs, not for war!
Gather at 12 noon, march to the City County Building downtown

A peaceful, legal march is being sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center, an umbrella organization that supports a wide variety of peace and justice member projects in Pittsburgh. We will hold a mass march to demand "Money for human needs, not for war!"


To endorse, E-mail:
Or contact: Thomas Merton Center AWC, 5125 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Several other events are being planned by a wide variety of community and social justice groups in Pittsburgh.

For more information and updates please visit:



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




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

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



U.S. national anti-war assembly calls for freedom for Ahmad Sa'adat and Palestinian prisoners

The July 10-12, 2009 U.S. national conference of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations unanimously approved a major resolution in support of freedom for Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners.

Over 250 anti-war and progressive activists attended the conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, representing dozens of organizations and groups across the United States. The National Assembly includes trade unionists, veterans, students, local antiwar coalitions, women's organizations, national leaders of the major antiwar coalitions, immigrant rights activists, racial justice activists and organizations, and many others.

Monadel Herzallah, a Palestinian organizer, president of the Arab American Union Members' Council and national coordinator of the US Palestine Community Network - Popular Conference presented the resolution at the conference, where he spoke at the major Saturday evening panel. In his presentation, he called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel and called for trade unions, churches, universities, cultural centers and other institutions to cut all ties with Israel and Israeli entities, and stressed the need to confront racism and oppression facing the Palestinian and Arab communities and other racially and nationally oppressed communities within the United States. He concluded by stressing the need to support Palestinian political prisoners, highlighting the growing campaign of solidarity with Ahmad Sa'adat and all prisoners. He discussed Sa'adat's hunger strike against prison repression as well as his leadership in the Palestinian national movement, and the direct involvement and responsibility of the U.S. for the imprisonment of Sa'adat.

Ahmad Sa'adat is the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. A Palestinian national leader, he is one of 39 Palestinian Legislative Council members and government ministers imprisoned by Israel, and one of thousands of Palestinian activists, students, workers, trade unionists, men, women and children held in the prisons and detention centers of the occupier. He was imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority since 2002 under U.S. and British guard before being kidnapped in an Israeli military raid on the PA prison where he was held. He has since been sentenced to 30 years in Israeli prison for his political activity and has remained a strong leader of the prisoners' movement as well as a national and international symbol of the Palestinian struggle for justice and freedom. Over 400 international organizations and individuals recently signed on to a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urging freedom for Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat congratulates the National Assembly for its important resolution, that passed with the unanimous approval of the delegates. Only one other resolution passed with such unanimous support - a resolution to condemn the military coup in Honduras and stand in solidarity with the Honduran people against the coup and U.S. imperialism. We welcome such resolutions from organizations around the world. Please send your resolutions and statements in solidarity with Ahmad Sa'adat to the Campaign at

The full text of the resolution is below:


for the National Assembly National Conference, July 10-12, 2009

WHEREAS, Israel currently holds over 11,000 Palestinians as political prisoners, including men, women and children, and one out of every four Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza has been subject to political arrest or detention, including 40% of Palestinian men from the West Bank and Gaza, and

WHEREAS, the arrest, detention and imprisonment of Palestinians is directed by a series of over 1500 Israeli military regulations that can be changed at any time by the regional military commander, and Palestinians arrested by the Israeli military are often relocated to Israeli military prisons outside the West Bank and Gaza, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and as the Israeli military continues to abduct Palestinians on a daily basis and imprison them in these military prisons, and

WHEREAS, Palestinians abducted by the Israeli military are subject to psychological and physical torture and abuse, especially during the period of interrogation, which can last for up to 180 days, including up to sixty days in which a Palestinian prisoner may not be seen by an attorney, and

WHEREAS, over half of all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees have not been tried, and

WHEREAS, nearly one thousand Palestinians are held in "administrative detention," a system of detention without charge or trial, that is indefinitely extensible for successive six-month periods, confronted only by secret evidence that is impossible to refute, and

WHEREAS, those Palestinian detainees that are tried are brought before an Israeli military court, in which Palestinians' rights to a fair trial are systematically violated, presided over by three judges, only one of which is required to have any legal training, and

WHEREAS, the Israeli military courts exist only as a function of the illegal military occupation, and thus can never provide a legitimate or fair trial to Palestinian political prisoners, and

WHEREAS, Palestinian national leaders, including Ahmad Sa'adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Marwan Barghouti, and 37 other members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, are systematically targeted for political arrest and imprisonment, and

WHEREAS, the most basic of political activities, including simply being a member of most Palestinian political parties, are sufficient to serve as "charges" against Palestinian political prisoners and are met with substantial sentences, and

WHEREAS, Ahmad Sa'adat and five other Palestinian political prisoners were arrested by the Palestinian Authority in 2002, and were transferred to Jericho Prison under U.S. and British guard as a condition of a settlement between then PA President Yasser Arafat and Israel in May 2002, and

WHEREAS, during his time in PA prison, Sa'adat was never charged with any crime nor tried for any offense; his release was ordered by the Palestinian High Court, and supported by numerous international organizations, including Amnesty International, and

WHEREAS, on March 14, 2006, the U.S. and British monitors at Jericho Prison left their posts, shortly before the inception of a ten-hour siege of the prison by the Israeli military that ended in the death of two Palestinians, the injury of twenty-three more, and the abduction of Ahmad Sa'adat and five other political prisoners from Jericho to Israeli military prisons, and

WHEREAS, Ahmad Sa'adat was sentenced by an illegitimate military court to 30 years in prison for 19 political offenses, including membership in a prohibited organization, holding a post in a prohibited organization, and incitement, for giving a speech after the Israeli assassination of his predecessor, Abu Ali Mustafa, in 2001, and

WHEREAS, Ahmad Sa'adat and his attorneys consistently refuse and refused throughout his trial to recognize the authority of a military court that is an instrument of occupation, and

WHEREAS, political imprisonment has been one part of a deliberate strategy to deprive Palestinians of their leaders, educators, writers, journalists, clergy, unionists, and popular activists from all political orientations, as part of the dispossession and repression of the Palestinian Arab people in the interests of colonialism and occupation for over sixty years, including the denial of millions of Palestinian refugees' right to return home, and

WHEREAS, as Ahmad Sa'adat said in his statement to the court of January 14, 2007, " This trial cannot be separated from the process of the historical struggle in Palestine that continues today between the Zionist Movement and the Palestinian people, a struggle that centers on Palestinian land, history, civilization, culture and identity," and

WHEREAS, Ahmad Sa'adat has been a leader among Palestinian prisoners and recently completed a nine-day hunger strike against Israeli policies of isolation and solitary confinement against Palestinian prisoners, and is currently in isolation until September 17, has faced serious health problems, and has been denied family visits from his wife for months and from his children for years, and

WHEREAS, the United States government bears direct responsibility for the situation of Ahmad Sa'adat, and oversaw his imprisonment in PA prison for four years and was complicit in his abduction and kidnapping by the Israeli military during its attack on Jericho prison, and

WHEREAS, there is an international campaign to free Ahmad Sa'adat, and all Palestinian political prisoners, and as the National Assembly has a history of supporting struggles for justice and freedom, and

WHEREAS, the political imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians is made possible by the billions of dollars in economic and military support as well as the vast political and diplomatic support given to Israel by the United States,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations calls for the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Assembly shall actively support the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat and all campaigns to free all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Assembly shall endeavor to issue statements and publicize the cases of Palestinian political prisoners and detainees, and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the National Assembly shall endeavor to support the struggles and organizing of Palestinian political prisoners, and the work of activists and organizations on the ground working for justice and freedom for Palestinian political prisoners and the cause of freedom for which these thousands of prisoners are held - of self-determination, liberation and return for all Palestinians in exile and in all of historic Palestine

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat


Condemn Honduran Coup and Restore Honduran President Zelaya NOW!

Sign the Emergency Petition!

To: President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

CC: Vice President Joe Biden, Congressional leaders, U.N. General Assembly President d'Escoto-Brockmann, U.N. Secretary General Ban, and major media representatives including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, and Reuters.

I demand that the Barack Obama administration and the U.S. Congress unequivocally condemn the unconstitutional and anti-democratic military coup in Honduras and insist that the military regime and the newly appointed but illegitimate president of Honduras restore President Zelaya to office, free all the imprisoned popular leaders and remove the curfew. I further demand that the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras be recalled immediately until such time as President Zelaya is restored to office.


(Your signature will be appended here based on the contact information you enter in the form)

Sign the Petition Online




July 6th was the fourth anniversary of the United Nations deadly
assault on the community of Cite Soleil. Now, four years later, the
same type of UN violence continues. Enough is enough. Far from
"peacekeeping," the UN occupation of Haiti is terrorizing the popular
movement and the poorest communities in Haiti.

On Wednesday, June 17th, United Nations troops from Brazil opened fire
on mourners in Port-au-Prince who had attended the funeral of Father
Gerard Jean-Juste. One young man was killed in the attack.

Father Jean-Juste was a beloved Haitian priest and human rights
advocate whose whole life was dedicated to the poor. He died on May
27th in Miami after battling leukemia that he had contracted while
being incarcerated in Haiti as a political prisoner, from October â€"
November, 2004 and then again from July 2005 to January 2006. He was
jailed for his vocal opposition to the 2004 kidnapping/coup de'tat
against the democratically elected government of President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the subsequent violent repression against
supporters of Fanmi Lavalas, the majority party in Haiti.

The Haiti Information Project reported, "UN troops on the scene began
shooting indiscriminately at the crowd killing a young man identified
only as "Junior" from the neighborhood of Solino. Hundreds more
protestors then took the body of the victim to the front of Haiti's
National Palace."

This is not the first time that UN forces have murdered unarmed
civilians in Haiti. On July 6, 2005, for example, UN troops shot over
20,000 rounds of ammunition in the crowded, poor neighborhood of Cite
Soleil, a stronghold of support for the Lavalas movement, killing
dozens. In the early morning of December 22, 2006, 400 Brazilian-led
UN troops again carried out a massive assault in Cite Soleil in
Port-au-Prince. This operation took the lives of dozens of
Port-au-Prince residents. Similar operations by UN troops have taken
the lives of innocent women, men and children on other occasions, most
notably in February 2007.

This latest killing takes place in the context of the Prval
governments denying the right of Fanmi Lavalas, the main political
party in Haiti, to participate in recent Senatorial elections. Lavalas
activists who called for an electoral boycott were ordered arrested.

Former President Bill Clinton is now the UN Special Envoy to Haiti.
Please phone or fax Mr. Clinton to protest this latest murder by UN troops. Help
honor the memory of Father Jean-Juste by continuing to demand real democracy
in Haiti.

Phone: 212-348-8882
Fax: 212-348-9245



"RESOLUTION: The Torture Song" By David Ippolito


Update on Ward Churchill:

In a stunning and incomprehensible decision, the judge in the Ward Churchill case has ruled that the fired professor will get neither money nor reinstatement. He ruled that since the jury awarded Churchill only a token damage, he could not ignore the jury's presumed wishes (this is false since jury members said after the trial that all but one favored a large money award). And he ruled that since the relationship between the university and Churchill was beyond repair he could not order reinstatement. Plus Churchill did not make a good faith effort to obtain comparable employment since his firing.

See article:

Court Upholds Dismissal of Colorado Professor
July 8, 2009


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

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

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

Take action now:


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

New videos from April 24 Oakland Mumia event

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

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

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


IVAW Member Victor Agosto Refuses Deployment to Afghanistan

Sign our Petition in Support of Victor's Resistance Today:

Support Victor by making a donation to his legal defense fund:


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

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

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


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


Support the troops who refuse to fight!






1) Study Finds Record Number of Inmates Serving Life Terms
July 23, 2009

2) In Eastern Europe, Industries That Survived End of Communism Now Crumbling
July 23, 2009

3) Increased U.S. Military Presence in Colombia Could Pose Problems With Neighbors
July 23, 2009

4) Texas: Protesters Rally Over Dragging Death
National Briefing | Southwest
July 22, 2009

5) Details of poll showing majority of Americans oppose both wars _ Iraq and Afghanistan
The Associated Press
July 23, 2009,0,843153.story

6) Ford Results Lifted by Debt Reductions
July 24, 2009

7) Biden Warns of More 'Sacrifice' in Afghanistan
July 24, 2009

8) High Energy and Commitment in Chicago
Youth Activists Demand Military-Free Schools
July 23, 2009

9) California: Apology to Immigrants
National Briefing | West
July 23, 2009

10) Activists for Homeless Occupy East Harlem Lot
By Colin Moynihan
July 23, 2009, 1:00 pm

11) Air Force Plans Expanded Use of Drones
July 24, 2009

12) Where the Jobs Are
July 24, 2009

13) Hamas Shifts From Rockets to Culture War
July 24, 2009

14) Report Sees Agent Orange Link to More Illnesses
July 25, 2009

15) Report Criticizes FEMA Response on Trailers
July 24, 2009

16) The Safety Net
Jobless Checks for Millions Delayed as States Struggle
July 24, 2009

17) An Abortion Battle, Fought to the Death
July 26, 2009

18) Florida Shifts Child-Welfare System's Focus to Saving Families
July 25, 2009

19) An Amazon Culture Withers as Food Dries Up
July 25, 2009


1) Study Finds Record Number of Inmates Serving Life Terms
July 23, 2009

CORONA, Calif. - Mary Thompson, an inmate at the California Institution for Women here, was convicted of two felonies for a robbery spree in which she threatened victims with a knife. Her third felony under California's three-strikes law was the theft of three tracksuits to pay for her crack cocaine habit in 1982.

Like one out of five prisoners in California, and nearly 10 percent of all prisoners nationally in 2008, Ms. Thompson is serving a life sentence. She will be eligible for parole by 2020.

More prisoners today are serving life terms than ever before - 140,610 out of 2.3 million inmates being held in jails and prisons across the country - under tough mandatory minimum-sentencing laws and the declining use of parole for eligible convicts, according to a report released Wednesday by The Sentencing Project, a group that calls for the elimination of life sentences without parole. The report tracks the increase in life sentences from 1984, when the number of inmates serving life terms was 34,000.

Two-thirds of prisoners serving life sentences are Latino or black, the report found. In New York State, for example, 16.3 percent of prisoners serving life terms are white.

Although most people serving life terms were convicted of violent crimes, sentencing experts say there are many exceptions, like Norman Williams, 46, who served 13 years of a life sentence for stealing a floor jack out of a tow truck, a crime that was his third strike. He was released from Folsom State Prison in California in April after appealing his conviction on the grounds of insufficient counsel.

The rising number of inmates serving life terms is straining corrections budgets at a time when financially strapped states are struggling to cut costs. California's prison system, the nation's largest with 170,000 inmates, also had the highest number of prisoners with life sentences, 34,164, or triple the number in 1992, the report found.

In four other states - Alabama, Massachusetts, Nevada and New York - at least one in six prisoners are serving life terms, according to the report.

The California prison system is currently in federal receivership for overcrowding and failing to provide adequate medical care to prisoners, many of whom are elderly and serving life terms.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week reiterated his proposal to reduce the inmate population through a combination of early releases for nonviolent offenders, home monitoring for some parole violators and more lenient sentencing for some felonies. But there are no credible plans to increase the rate at which prisoners serving life sentences are granted parole.

"When California courts sentence somebody to life with parole, it turns out that's not possible after all," said Joan Petersilia, a Stanford law professor and an expert on parole policy. "Board of parole hearings almost never grant releases, and that's the reason that California's lifer population has grown out of proportion to other states."

Margo Johnson, 48, also an inmate at the women's prison here, has served 24 years of a life sentence for a 1984 murder. She has been recommended for release four times by the state parole board, but she said that Mr. Schwarzenegger had rejected the board's recommendation each time.

"Sometimes I wonder, is it just a game they're playing with me?" Ms. Johnson said.

Seven prison systems - Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and the federal penitentiary system - do not offer the possibility of parole to prisoners serving life terms.

That policy also extends to juveniles in Illinois, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. A total of 6,807 juveniles were serving life terms in 2008, 1,755 without the possibility of parole. California again led the nation in the number of juveniles serving life terms, with 2,623.

"The expansion of life sentences suggests that we're rapidly losing faith in the rehabilitation model," said Ashley Nellis, the report's main author.

De Angelo McVay, 42, is serving a life term with no possibility of parole at the maximum security state prison in Lancaster, Calif., for his role in the kidnapping and torture of a man.

He said in an interview Wednesday that he had used his 10 years in prison to reform himself, taking ministry classes, participating in the prison chapel program, becoming vice chairman of his prison yard and avoiding behavioral demerits.

"I'm remorseful for what I did," he said. "But I got no chance at parole, and I know guys who have committed killings and they have parole."

Supporters of longer sentences for criminals, including victims rights organizations, prosecutors and police associations, often cite public safety, the deterrent effect of punishment and the need to remove criminals from society.

But the number of aging inmates serving life sentences has risen sharply as the sluggish economy has shrunk state budgets. By 2004, the number of inmates over 50 had nearly doubled from a decade earlier, to more than 20 percent, according to the report. Older inmates cost more because they have more health needs. For example, California spends $98,000 to $138,000 a year on each prisoner over 50, compared with the national average of about $35,000 a year.

But Professor Petersilia said she was skeptical that economic arguments alone would persuade voters to treat inmates serving life terms - most of whom have committed violent felonies like murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery - with more leniency.

"All the public opinion polls say that everybody will reconsider sentencing for nonviolent offenders or drug offenders, but they're not willing to do anything different for violent offenders," Professor Petersilia. In fact, she added, polls show support for even harsher sentences for sex offenses and other violent crimes.

Burk Foster, a criminal justice professor at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan and an expert on the Louisiana state penitentiary system, said the expansion of life sentences started at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, the nation's largest maximum penitentiary, in the early 1970s, when most people sentenced to life terms were paroled after they had been deemed fit to re-enter society.

"Angola was a prototype of a lifer's prison," said Professor Foster. "In 1973, Louisiana changed its life sentencing law so that lifers would no longer be parole eligible, and they applied that law more broadly over time to include murder, rape, kidnapping, distribution of narcotics and habitual offenders."

Professor Foster said sentencing more prisoners to life sentences was an abandonment of the "corrective" function of prisons.

"Rehabilitation is not an issue at Angola," he said. "They're just practicing lifetime isolation and incapacitation."


2) In Eastern Europe, Industries That Survived End of Communism Now Crumbling
July 23, 2009

Some heavy industries across Eastern Europe that survived the collapse of communism 20 years ago may not live to see the end of the current economic crisis.

The downturn, which has pummeled export-led economies in the region, is threatening to turn former powerhouses of the communist and post-Soviet eras into a new "rust belt," causing a surge in unemployment and leaving deep social scars.

Geza Tokodi has worked in the Hungarian steel mill DAM, in the northeastern city of Miskolc, for 38 years.

The global crisis has brought him face-to-face with the once-unthinkable: a complete shutdown of the plant six months ago while yet another buyer is being sought. The huge production halls, which once employed 18,000 workers, have been plunged into eerie silence.

"My ears got used to the noise of the plant," Mr. Tokodi said, walking the vast, deserted halls during a recent visit. "Quiet is good when you want to have a rest, but here, it's much worse than noise."

The only sound in the plant is the occasional crack of metal expanding and contracting as the temperature changes, or the chirping of birds that venture in through broken or open windows.

The sprawling steel complex, once called the Lenin Steel Works, developed quickly in the 1950s when the communist government wanted to make Hungary "the country of iron and steel," despite its lack of raw materials or low-cost energy.

In its heyday in the 1980s, the city of Miskolc had more than 200,000 residents, most working in industry.

The population has fallen to about 170,000 and unemployment stands at 15 percent to 16 percent, well above the national average of 9.8 percent.

DAM, a survivor of privatizations in the 1990s which has changed hands several times since because of financial problems, is being wound down again and laying off its approximately 700 remaining employees.

The process started June 24 and the liquidator has to put the assets up for sale within 120 days from that date. If it can find a new investor, the plant may survive. But there is little optimism.

"There have been a few liquidations, and the plant always survived, but I don't think this will be the case now," said Jozsef Papp, 53, who has been at DAM for 36 years.

Steel makers throughout Europe have operated at capacity-usage rates of 55 percent to 60 percent this year, shelved investment plans and cut jobs to weather the biggest downturn to affect the industry since World War II.

Miskolc, the second-largest city Hungarian city after Budapest, is finding it hard to cope with mushrooming unemployment and a lack of new jobs.

Agnes Dudas, who heads the Miskolc unemployment office, says the number of registered jobless had risen to 18,200 in May from as much as 13,000 at the end of last year.

More than half of those losing their jobs at the steel mill are older than 50 and finding new work for them will be difficult, even though the city receives funds from a European Union program partly designed to help crisis-hit regions, she said.

"Those who worked at DAM for 30 to 40 years would have never left this plant," Ms. Dudas said. "First they must overcome the trauma of all this, and it's very hard."

Miskolc has a Roma population of about 12,000 to 15,000, many of whom used to do unskilled jobs in the steel industry. Next to the steel works, hundreds of Roma families live in houses with no running water or sewer system connection.

"Most families here live on social assistance now" as well as odd jobs, said Ferenc Botos, who works for the local Roma minority council.

Hungary's Roma minority is one of the largest in Central Europe, accounting for 6 percent to 7 percent of the population.

Growing social tension in Miskolc, once a Socialist stronghold, showed in European election results in June when the far-right Jobbik Party won 21 percent of the votes. The Socialists received 23 percent.

"Industries have collapsed and services are not developing at a pace which would allow them to absorb the extra workforce," said Imre Lakatos, head of the Iron Workers' Union, Vasas, who has worked at DAM for 40 years.

Dunaujvaros, formerly Sztalinvaros or Stalin City, is 70 kilometers or 43.5 miles south of Budapest and is the home of the biggest Hungarian steel mill, Dunaferr.

The plant, a unit of Donbass Group of Ukraine, experienced a 40 percent drop in its revenue in the first quarter of 2009. It has said it will lay off 400 workers and offer early retirement to several hundred more to try to weather the crisis.

It will have a work force of 7,200 after the restructuring.

The town is faring better in the face of the crisis because of its proximity to Budapest and investment by the South Korean tire manufacturer Hankook in 2006, which created new jobs.

ArcelorMittal's Czech unit, in the northeast of the Czech Republic where unemployment is rife, is using only 35 percent to 45 percent of its capacity because of a lack of orders.

The glut in the steel sector has spread, hurting earnings for New World Resources, which owns the largest hard coal mines in the Czech Republic.

In the past 20 years, the labor force has shown few signs of changing in many former communist industrial centers.

"It will be difficult to expect any big structural changes in industrial regions because people skilled in heavy manufacturing or mining can't transfer easily to other sectors of the economy," David Marek, an economist at Patria Finance, said. "For the regions, it can be a big problem, especially when it comes to a high concentration of heavy industries like steel or coal. It's a social problem, not only an economic problem."


3) Increased U.S. Military Presence in Colombia Could Pose Problems With Neighbors
July 23, 2009

CARACAS, Venezuela - A plan to increase the American military presence on at least three military bases in Colombia, Washington's top ally in Latin America, is accentuating Colombia's already tense relations with some of its neighbors.

Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua, which are members of a leftist political alliance that is led by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and backed by his nation's oil revenues, have all criticized the plan, saying it would broaden the military reach of the United States in the Andes and the Caribbean at a time when they are still wary of American influence in the region.

Despite a slight improvement in Venezuela's relations with the United States in recent months, Mr. Chávez has been especially vocal in lashing out at the plan. Speaking on state television here Monday night, he put Venezuela's diplomatic ties with Colombia under review, calling the plan a platform for "new aggression against us."

Colombia's foreign minister, Jaime Bermúdez, on Tuesday defended the negotiations, which are expected to produce an agreement in August, asking neighboring countries not to interfere in Colombia's affairs. "We never expressed our opinion in what our neighbors do," he said, pointing to Mr. Chávez's attempts to strengthen ties with non-Western nations. "Not even when the Russian presence became known in Venezuelan waters, or with relations with China," he added.

The United States has been negotiating the increase of military operations in Colombia in recent weeks, faced with Ecuador's decision to end a decade-long agreement allowing E-3 AWACs and P-3 Orion surveillance planes to operate from the Manta Air Base on Ecuador's Pacific Coast.

Preliminary terms of the agreement would shift some operations to Palanquero, a military base near Bogotá, Apiay Air Base on Colombia's eastern plains and Alberto Pouwels Air Base near Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast, according tonews reports. In addition, American warships would be able to use two Colombian naval bases, Bahia de Málaga near Buenaventura on the Pacific, and another on the Caribbean in the department, or province, of Bolívar.

While American antidrug surveillance flights would sharply increase in Colombia, the world's top producer of cocaine, the agreement would not allow American personnel to take part in combat operations in the country, which is mired in a four-decade war against guerrillas. A limit of 800 American military personnel and 600 American military contractors would also remain in place, officials involved in the talks said.

Still, depending on how the accord is put in place, American troop levels in Colombia could climb sharply. The United States currently has about 250 military personnel in the country, deployed largely in an advisory capacity to Colombia's armed forces, William Brownfield, the United States ambassador to Colombia, said last week.

Colombia, which has already received more than $5 billion in military and antidrug aid from the United States this decade, has found itself isolated diplomatically as Mr. Chávez presses ahead with his efforts to expand Venezuela's oil diplomacy while eroding American influence in the hemisphere.

Other countries chafe at Colombia for different reasons. Colombia's diplomatic relations with Ecuador have soured since Colombian forces carried out a raid on a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebel camp on Ecuadoran territory last year. A festering boundary dispute with Nicaragua has also made for tensions between Colombia and Nicaragua's president, Daniel Ortega, an ally of Mr. Chávez.

But with Venezuela itself, Colombia remains locked in a complex game of interdependence.

Its sales of manufactured and agricultural goods to Venezuela remain resilient despite Mr. Chávez's occasional outbursts directed at his ideological opposite, Colombia's president, Álvaro Uribe. And faced with disarray in its oil industry, Venezuela relies on imports of Colombian natural gas, narrowing the possibility of a severe deterioration in ties between the two countries despite their sharply different views of cooperation with the United States.


4) Texas: Protesters Rally Over Dragging Death
National Briefing | Southwest
July 22, 2009

State police in riot gear rushed a downtown street in Paris to break up a standoff between hundreds of protesters who exchanged screams of "Black power!" and "White power!" Two white men, one carrying a Nazi flag, were arrested on a misdemeanor charge of suspicion of disorderly conduct. It was the third courthouse protest over the death of Brandon McClelland, 24, whose body was found Sept. 16 after he was run over by a vehicle and dragged beneath it. A prosecutor cited a lack of evidence in dropping murder charges last month against two white men arrested in his death.


5) Details of poll showing majority of Americans oppose both wars _ Iraq and Afghanistan
The Associated Press
July 23, 2009,0,843153.story

A majority of Americans oppose both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, though the war in Afghanistan is a little more popular. Here are details:

OVERALL RESULTS: 34 percent favor the war in Iraq and 63 percent are opposed; 44 percent favor the war in Afghanistan and 53 percent are opposed.

PARTISAN DIFFERENCES: 64 percent of Republicans are in favor of the war in Iraq and just 10 percent of Democrats are; 66 percent of Republicans favor the war in Afghanistan, as do 26 percent of Democrats.

PRESIDENT'S RATING: 56 percent of Americans approve of President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Iraq, and 55 percent approve of his handling of Afghanistan. Both numbers are down just slightly since April.

THE FUTURE: 68 percent think it is likely that Obama will be able to pull most troops out of Iraq in the next four years, but that's down from 83 percent before his inauguration.

METHODOLOGY: The AP-GfK Poll was conducted July 16-20 and involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,006 adults nationwide. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


6) Ford Results Lifted by Debt Reductions
July 24, 2009

The Ford Motor Company posted better-than-expected results on Thursday, mostly because of one-time gains tied to debt restructuring.

Ford, the only domestic automaker not to go through bankruptcy protection, reported a surprising second-quarter profit of $2.3 billion, though its automotive operations lost money.

The company said the profit, equal to 69 cents a share, was largely the result of a $3.4 billion gain from debt restructuring. Excluding that figure and other special items, Ford would have lost $638 million, or 21 cents a share, still a significant improvement from the $1.4 billion that it lost on continuing operations a year ago and less than half the loss analysts were expecting.

The overall profit is a positive swing of $11 billion from a year ago, when it lost $8.7 billon, its worst quarterly result in company history.

Ford cut its losses even as second-quarter revenue fell 29 percent, to $27.2 billion. Vehicle sales declined 25 percent, to 1.2 million units, largely the result of the weak North American market.

Shares of Ford rose to $7.04, their highest level in more than a year, in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

"While the business environment remained extremely challenging around the world, we made significant progress on our transformation plan," Ford's chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said in a statement. "Our underlying business is growing progressively stronger as we introduce great new products that customers want and value, while continuing to aggressively restructure our business and strengthen our balance sheet."

Through the first half of the year, Ford has turned a profit of $834 million, or 30 cents a share. It lost $9.5 billion, or $4.20 a share, between January and June 2008.

Ford said it remained on track to return to profitability by 2011 and asserted in a statement that it "has sufficient liquidity to fund its product-led transformation plan and provide a cushion against the uncertain global economic environment."

It had $21 billion in cash reserves at the end of the quarter, after burning through $1 billion since April. Ford was spending its cash nearly three times as quickly in the first quarter. Ford's chief financial officer, Lewis Booth, said the company's cash outflow in the second half of the year would be less than the first half figure of $4.7 billion.

Automotive operations lost $1 billion, an improvement from the $1.3 billion they lost a year ago. Financial services, including Ford Motor Credit, posted a $595 million profit, $929 million better than a year ago.

Despite the positive performance, analysts say Ford still has much work ahead of it to overcome the auto industry's worst slump in decades.

"We think the longer-term outlook has some meaningful challenges that suggest the ultimate upside is limited," Chris Ceraso, an analyst with Credit Suisse, wrote in a recent note to clients. "Specifically, we believe that Ford is still carrying too much leverage and will have to reduce debt, perhaps through additional equity issuance."

Mr. Mulally declined to comment directly on speculation that Ford would sell more shares of stock to eliminate more debt. "Clearly our plan is to continue to improve our balance sheet just like we have during the second quarter," he said.

Ford has been working hard to paint itself as different from its crosstown rivals, General Motors and Chrysler, with relative success. Some consumers who opposed the billions of dollars in emergency loans given to G.M. and Chrysler or feared buying from a bankrupt automaker have been drawn to Ford instead.

"We're getting a positive response to creating a sustainable business which people do take into consideration when people buy a car," Mr. Mulally said.

Additionally, new products like the Taurus sedan and Fusion gas-electric hybrid sedan have been receiving glowing reviews and selling well.

Ford's market share in the first half of 2009 rose to 16.1 percent, up from 15.5 percent a year ago, and those gains have come even with less discounting on its cars and trucks. It outsold Toyota in the first half of the year after allowing the Japanese company to take over second place in the United States market for the last two years.

In June, Ford's sales fell 11 percent, compared with 33 percent at G.M. and 42 percent at Chrysler. As a result, Ford is increasing production in the third quarter by 16 percent.

Its stock price has more than quadrupled since hitting a low point of $1.50 in mid-February.

A report from the banking firm Merrill Lynch last week projected that Ford's market share would increase about 3 percent in the next four years, surpassing G.M. The report also estimated that Ford would earn a small profit in 2010 and as much as $1 a share the following year.

In June, Ford was one of three automakers, along with Nissan and the electric-car start-up, Tesla, to get loans from an Energy Department fund aimed at accelerating production of more fuel-efficient vehicles. Ford is borrowing $5.9 billion to help it retool 11 factories in the Midwest.


7) Biden Warns of More 'Sacrifice' in Afghanistan
July 24, 2009

LONDON - Entering a debate that has stirred political tumult in Britain, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said in an interview broadcast Thursday that more coalition troops will die in Afghanistan but that the war was "worth the effort."

Speaking during a tour of Ukraine and Georgia, Mr. Biden told the BBC that the lawless region along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was "a place that, if it doesn't get straightened out, will continue to wreak havoc on Europe and the United States."

His remarks have a particular resonance in Britain at a time when the American-led coalition has recorded some of its worst casualties since the overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001.

Britain has some 9,000 soldiers in Afghanistan - the second biggest contingent after the United States - and so far this month alone has lost 19 soldiers to bring the total since 2001 to 188 - higher than the British death toll in the Iraq war. The latest fatalities came Wednesday, when bombs killed two United States service members and one Briton in southern Afghanistan.Before those deaths, July had already become the deadliest month for American service members in the country since the 2001 invasion, underscoring a frightening rise in the sophistication and accuracy of roadside bombs.

With the newest fatalities, more than 30 Americans have died in the first three weeks of July, surpassing the highest previous monthly toll, 28, reached in June 2008.

The deaths coincide with a major American offensive, supported by British and other troops, in Southern Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold, in advance of presidential elections next month.

While some British newspaper columnists have questioned the reasons for fighting the war, Prime Minister Gordon Brown is locked in a dispute with the main opposition leader, David Cameron, over the government's track record in providing the right equipment - particularly helicopters - to shield British soldiers from increasingly deadly roadside bombs planted by the Taliban.

In the interview, Mr. Biden said that in terms of the national interest of Britain, the United States and Europe, the war "is worth the effort we are making and the sacrifice that is being felt."

"And more will come," he said, referring to the current phase of hostilities as "the fighting season." He did not comment specifically on the debate of British equipment.

He said that the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region was "the place from which the attacks of 9/11 and all those attacks in Europe that came from Al Qaeda have flowed, from that place between Afghanistan and Pakistan."

He called British soldiers "among the best trained and bravest warriors in the world."

The debate over British troops' access to helicopters sharpened Wednesday when a Foreign Office minister, Lord Malloch Brown, told a newspaper interviewer that "we definitely don't have enough helicopters."

But he withdrew the comment, apparently under pressure from the prime minister, who has insisted that access to more helicopters would not have saved British lives in the latest wave of fatalities. Mr. Brown's critics argue that lives would be saved if troops were transported by helicopter rather than by road, where they are more vulnerable to attacks.

"In the operations we are doing at the moment, it is completely wrong to say that the loss of lives has been caused by the absence of helicopters," Mr. Brown said Wednesday. "For the operations we are doing at the moment we have the helicopters we need."


8) High Energy and Commitment in Chicago
Youth Activists Demand Military-Free Schools
July 23, 2009

On the weekend of July 17, over 250 activists from across the country converged on Roosevelt University in Chicago for the largest meeting ever of counter-recruitment and anti-militarism organizers. Retirees from Florida and California, concerned parents from Ohio and Massachusetts, veterans from New Mexico and Oregon, grandmothers from Texas and North Carolina joined with youth organizations such as New York's Ya-Yas (Youth Activists-Youth Allies) and San Diego's Education Not Arms to consolidate a movement intent on resisting the increased militarization of U.S. public schools.

The building overlooking Lake Michigan vibrated with the positive energy of the diverse participants-people from different generations, regions, and ethnicities mixing together and exchanging stories about their struggle to demilitarize local schools. For many senior citizens from the East Coast this was the first time they had met much less learned from Chicana high school students who live in border communities near San Diego. For those relatively new to the counter-recruitment movement, the experience taught them more about the on-going process in which young people are increasingly subjected to military values and aggressive recruiting techniques.

Organized by the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY), an alliance of over 180 organizations, the conference included workshops and caucuses on a variety of subjects ranging from the role of class and culture in counter-recruiting, women in the military, and legislative approaches to challenging militarization.

The growth of the counter-recruitment movement benefited greatly from the Bush administration's slide into totalitarianism. While established organizations like Project YANO of San Diego and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Youth and Militarism program had been working for decades to demilitarize youth, the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 for the first time alerted many to the insidious nature of military recruiting in schools. Many newcomers to the movement began with "opt-out" campaigns to protect students' privacy and then moved on to the issue of military aptitude tests (ASVAB) that are often administered covertly in school districts nationwide.

Although some activists during the Bush years saw counter-recruitment solely as an antiwar tactic, the participants at the NNOMY conference understood that militarism is an issue that must be confronted with long-term strategies. As many of them told me, it is less an issue of stopping current wars (although that is important) than it is of inhibiting the power of the military-corporate-educational complex with the goal of slowly transforming an interventionist and imperial foreign policy.

The symbolism of the conference location was especially important given that the Chicago public school district is the most heavily militarized district in the nation. The current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was superintendent of the city's schools and oversaw the expansion of JROTC and military academies. Today, Chicago has more academies and more JROTC cadets than any other city in the country. Under Duncan's leadership, it will more than likely become a model for the rest of the country.

As Sam Diener reported at the NNOMY conference, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009 mandates that the military work to increase the number of schools with JROTC from the current total of about 3400 schools to 3700 schools by the year 2020 (a list of schools targeted for new units will be posted shortly on the Peacework Magazine website).

The larger context is alarming. The decades long defunding of public education, the resultant decline of K-12 systems across the country, and the growth of the charter school movement has produced a situation in which the Pentagon is free to wade into the wreckage with an offer many parents cannot refuse. In a classic shock doctrine maneuver, the military exerts increasing influence in public schools offering desperate parents programs that will teach their sons and daughters discipline and "leadership skills." As Gina Perez explained at the NNOMY meeting, working class youth with limited options, many of whom are active in their community churches, believe they can "make a difference" by joining JROTC.

Despite the Pentagon's denials, there is no question that militarized school programs operate as covert recruiting programs. Recent studies show that about 40% of all JROTC cadets end up enlisting in the military. Activists working in Georgia recently obtained school district documents that refer to the goal of creating "African American and Hispanic children soldiers." What the Pentagon hopes to produce, however, is not cannon fodder as an earlier Vietnam War-era analysis might suggest but rather an educated workforce able to complete the complex tasks of a well-oiled, increasingly high tech, military.

Given the difficulty recruiters have had finding enough high school graduates to fill their quotas, especially in those Latino communities that will provide the largest group of military-age youth for the foreseeable future, it makes sense that the military would attempt to create its own pipeline. If the public schools cannot turn out enough qualified potential recruits, the Pentagon will do it. Neoliberalism in the United States may not mean generals in the Oval Office. But it may mean children in military uniforms marching in formation at a school near you.

The model for this aspect of the militarist agenda is the Chicago public school system where for several years minority neighborhoods have seen the increasing encroachment of the military. Science teacher Brian Roa, who has written about the Chicago experience, described in a recent truthout article how Mayor Daley and Superintendent Duncan oversaw the expansion of military academies. "One day the Navy occupied one floor of our school," Roa said at the NNOMY conference, "and before we knew it they had taken over the second and then the third floor."

At San Diego's Mission Bay High School, funding for college preparatory courses was decreased while the principal implemented plans for a Marine Corps JROTC complete with firing range for air rifle practice. Latino students created the Education Not Arms coalition and successfully convinced a majority on the San Diego Board of Education to ban rifle training at eleven high schools. Similar success stories were recounted last weekend all of which suggest that not only is militarism a high priority issue for the new century but also that youth activism is alive and well.

The fact that President Obama's daughters attend Quaker schools while his Secretary of Education oversees the expansion of military programs for working class children is one more glaring contradiction in Obamaland. The young people who attended the NNOMY conference are aware of the contradiction and left Chicago vowing that they will not passively stand by as their schools become centers for military indoctrination.

More information on the counter-recruitment movement is available at the NNOMY website:

Jorge Mariscal is a Vietnam veteran and a member of Project YANO (San Diego). Visit his blog at:


9) California: Apology to Immigrants
National Briefing | West
July 23, 2009

The California Legislature apologized for the state's past persecution of the Chinese immigrants who built the state's railroads, gold mines and agriculture industry. The Senate earlier this month approved the resolution expressing regret for 19th century and early 20th century laws that "resulted in the persecution of Chinese living in California." The Assembly backed the measure in late June, and the California secretary of state put it on the state's official record Friday.


10) Activists for Homeless Occupy East Harlem Lot
By Colin Moynihan
July 23, 2009, 1:00 pm

At first glance on Thursday morning, it looked as if a fashion photo shoot was in progress on East 115th Street. Men and women with digital cameras and boom microphones assembled on the north side of the street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. A green awning was set up on the sidewalk over a table holding bagels, cherries and lime seltzer. A few feet away was a portable metal clothing rack with hangers holding slinky dresses. And there was a model wearing black fishnet stockings, a shiny sequined skirt and three-inch heels as she walked back and forth in front of a large empty, grassy lot.

"Action," one woman shouted to the model. "Flip your jacket across your shoulder. Now cut."

The purported fashion shoot was actually a ploy, intended to provide cover for a political protest.

As the model walked back and forth, trailed by a camera, two people holding a large green screen were shielding others who sliced through an eight-foot-tall, chain-link fence that separated the lot from the sidewalk. Then, at about 10:30 a.m., about 20 people entered the lot - which they said was owned by JPMorgan Chase & Company - and began transforming it. They constructed simple tents out of bright blue tarps. They assembled a wooden gazebo with a roof and a sign that read "A place to call home!" Soon, they were joined by others.

By 11, about 100 people were inside the lot, some playing musical instruments including bongos and guitars, others strolling through the lot picking up trash and placing it into plastic bags. More than two dozen police officers, in uniforms and in plainclothes, watched from 115th Street, some of them standing behind blue wooden sawhorses. By noontime, they had not made any attempt to eject the protesters.

Asked for a response to the protest and an explanation of how JPMorgan Chase came to own the lot, Jennifer R. Zuccarelli, a spokeswoman for the bank, declined to comment.

The action was organized by an advocacy group, Picture the Homeless, which occupied the lot as a protest, activists said, against the shortage of affordable housing. They said they were inspired partly by the "Hoovervilles," the shanty towns and tent cities that emerged during the Depression, and partly by the Lower East Side squatters who occupied abandoned buildings in the 1980s.

A spokesman for Picture the Homeless, Tej Nagaraja, 28, from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, said the organization wanted to show that unused properties and vacant lots could be used to house the homeless and destitute.

"There's a long history of homeless people and displaced people throwing together dwelling in public space," he said. "Poor people can build a community and houses for themselves if they are given the opportunity."

Also present was Jean Rice, 70, who said he was born in South Carolina and now lived in Harlem. Mr. Rich, a member of Picture the Homeless, said the lot takeover was directed at "some of the same banking interest that are asking now for citizens to bail them out of their financial crisis, some of the same banking entities that redlined and ghettoized this neighborhood."

Sewell Chan contributed reporting.


11) Air Force Plans Expanded Use of Drones
July 24, 2009

Small unmanned planes are now used mainly to gather intelligence and fire missiles at insurgents. But over the next several decades, the Air Force envisions building larger ones that could do the work of bombers and cargo planes and even miniature ones that could spy inside a room.

In a report released Thursday laying out a "flight plan" for developing unmanned systems, the Air Force also said it could eventually field swarms of drones that could attack enemy targets like locusts.

And it will have to be ready to defend against the same threat, which could become another inexpensive way for insurgents to attack American forces.

Col. Eric Mathewson, who directs the Air Force task force on unmanned aerial systems, said in an interview that the service sketched out its vision to encourage contractors and university researchers to help create the technologies.

Military contractors have already been rushing to expand in what promises to remain a prime growth area even as Pentagon budgets tighten.

In the last decade, the use of the remotely piloted planes has soared in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Air Force and the C.I.A. have fielded Cessna-sized drones, called Predators and Reapers, to send back streaming video of insurgent activity and mount missile attacks.

Army units have used hand-launched models, which look like toy planes, to peer over hills or buildings. Other drones monitor the seas and eavesdrop from high altitudes, much like the storied U-2 spy planes.

But many of the systems have been rushed out in an "almost reactive" fashion, Colonel Mathewson said.

"At the same time, we have put industry and academia at a disadvantage because we haven't told them where we're going," he said. "So we wanted to describe the future, so they could help us find the solutions."

Colonel Mathewson said the goal was to create economical alternatives for most Air Force missions. In that sense, the plan - which was approved by Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff - helps cement a major cultural change at the service, where many pilots initially recoiled at the idea of drones.

Colonel Mathewson said the service would like to create modular craft - basic airframes that could be easily configured for different missions.

The report envisions a family from "nano"-size drones, which could flit inside buildings like moths to gather intelligence, to large craft that could be strategic bombers or aerial refueling tankers. Mid-size drones could act like jet fighters, attacking other planes or ground targets and jamming enemy communications.

The changes will begin with enhancements of current systems, Colonel Mathewson said. The more exotic changes would come from 2020 through the 2040s.

Perhaps the most controversial is the idea of drones swarming on attack. Advances in computing power could enable them to mount pre-programmed attacks on their own, though that would be a difficult legal and ethical barrier for the military to cross.

But before long, even a single insurgent could dispatch several small drones at once. Referring to the improvised explosive devices that insurgents have planted like mines in Iraq and Afghanistan, the report warned that the next inexpensive threat to American troops could be "an airborne I.E.D."


12) Where the Jobs Are
July 24, 2009

An estimated 2.8 million employees will get a raise on Friday, as the federal minimum wage rises from $6.55 an hour to $7.25. Another 1.6 million whose hourly pay hovers around $7.25 are also expected to get a boost as employers adjust their pay scales to the new minimum. The raise is badly needed. It is also wholly inadequate.

With the latest increase, the minimum wage is still no higher now, after inflation, than it was in the early 1980s, and it is 17 percent lower than its peak in 1968. That means that no matter how hard they work, many low-wage workers keep falling behind. The latest increase will slow the decline in living standards, but it doesn't reverse the overall downward pull.

Even that understates the broader dimensions of the problem.

The minimum wage also sets a floor by which other wages are set. Keeping it low keeps wages lower than they would be otherwise, especially for jobs that are just above the minimum-wage level. That's a big problem for American workers because low-wage fields are the ones that are adding the most jobs.

According to the Labor Department, 5 of the 10 occupations expected to add the most jobs through 2016 are "very low paying," up to a maximum of about $22,000 a year. They include retail sales jobs and home health aides. Another 3 of the 10 are "low paying," from roughly $22,000 to $31,000, including customer-service representatives, general office clerks and nurses' aides.

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama proposed lifting the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011 and, from there, adjusting it annually for inflation. He should press that goal. At $9.50 an hour, the minimum wage would be restored to its historical highs - about 50 percent of the average wage. And it would restore the minimum wage to its broader function - helping boost pay across the economy.

President Obama talks a lot about a bright future with high-paying green technology jobs. It is imperative to plan and work for that future. But a concerted effort must also be made to improve the opportunities for workers in the types of low-wage jobs that are going to be most plentiful for years to come.

That means working with unions, professional associations, community colleges and employers to build so-called career ladders so workers can attain the skills they need to advance, say, from a very-low-paid home care aide, to a low-paid nurse's aide, to a higher-paid licensed vocational nurse. Partnerships between unions and employers in hospitals, casinos and factories have pioneered such skill-building efforts, combining on-the-job training with classroom instruction.

The Labor Department must also ensure that low-paid workers are not exploited by vigorously enforcing workplace safety rules and fair pay practices.

Low-paid jobs are a fact of working life in America. Unlike so many of the nation's higher-paying jobs, they are not going away. One of the big challenges of our time is to ensure that for some workers, they are a stepping stone to better jobs and that for all workers, they are safe and fairly compensated.


13) Hamas Shifts From Rockets to Culture War
July 24, 2009

GAZA - Seven months after Israel started a fierce three-week military campaign here to stop rockets from being fired on its southern communities, Hamas has suspended its use of rockets and shifted focus to winning support at home and abroad through cultural initiatives and public relations.

The aim is to build what leaders here call a "culture of resistance," the topic of a recent two-day conference. In recent days, a play has been staged, a movie premiered, an art exhibit mounted, a book of poems published and a television series begun, most of it state-sponsored and all focused on the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. There are plans for a documentary competition.

"Armed resistance is still important and legitimate, but we have a new emphasis on cultural resistance," noted Ayman Taha, a Hamas leader and former fighter. "The current situation required a stoppage of rockets. After the war, the fighters needed a break and the people needed a break."

Mr. Taha and others say that the military has replaced field commanders and restructured itself as it learns lessons from the war. The decision to suspend the use of the short-range Qassam rockets that for years have flown into Israel, often dozens a day, has been partly the result of popular pressure. Increasingly, people here are questioning the value of the rockets, not because they hit civilians but because they are seen as relatively ineffective.

"What did the rockets do for us? Nothing," Mona Abdelaziz, a 36-year-old lawyer, said in a typical street interview here.

How long Hamas will hold its fire and whether it will obtain longer-range missiles - which it says it is seeking - remain unclear. But the shift in policy is evident. In June, a total of two rockets were fired from Gaza, according to the Israeli military, one of the lowest monthly tallies since the firing began in 2002.

In that tactical sense, the war was a victory for Israel and a loss for Hamas. But in the field of public opinion, Hamas took the upper hand. Its leaders have noted the international condemnation of Israel over allegations of disproportionate force, a perception they hope to continue to use to their advantage. Suspending the rocket fire could also serve that goal.

"We are not terrorists but resistance fighters, and we want to explain our reality to the outside world," Osama Alisawi, the minister of culture, said during a break from the two-day conference. "We want the writers and intellectuals of the world to come and see how people are suffering on a daily basis."

That suffering is quite real. An Israeli-led boycott limits economic activity here to farming and basic commerce, although Israel does allow about 100 trucks of food and medicine in each day, and more and more goods are coming in through desert smuggler tunnels from Egypt. Israel is experimenting with minor adjustments, allowing some equipment and glass in last week for the first time in a long time.

Because Israeli officials also believe that they must improve public relations and message management, the new focus on culture here sets up an intriguing battle for world opinion. Both sides argue that journalists show too much sympathy for the other.

But it may also bring unforeseen risks to the Islamist leaders of Hamas. The play currently seen nightly at Gaza City's Shawa cultural center offers an example of how.

Called "The Women of Gaza and the Patience of Job," it consists of a series of contemporary and historical scenes about suffering. And while it might be helping to create a sense of solidarity among the people of Gaza, it pushes some local limits.

In one satirical scene, for example, a Hamas fighter is standing over his rocket launcher about to fire at Israel when a woman asks about her brother, a fellow fighter.

Oh yes, he replies excitedly, her brother is a hero. He made the Israelis quake in their boots. "He hit Tel Aviv!"

From the audience emerges a dismissive laugh, for it knows how meaningless such boasting proved over the years.

After the show one recent evening, its writer, director and star, Said al-Bettar, said he wrote the scene that way to make the point that, "We were the victims of a big lie." He added, "The people paid a heavy price and society is looking for someone to express its views clearly."

Mr. Bettar, who is not a follower of Hamas and is popular here, said the government had not interfered with his work or criticized it. Besides mocking the rockets, he has done something else rather subversive - his entire cast (apart from himself) is female, and women sing on stage, something that is frowned upon by religious Muslims.

He said he wanted to challenge the conservatives of Gaza and added, "We need to engage with the world, not isolate ourselves."

Abd Alkhalik Alaff, a poet and literature professor at the Islamic University, is the chief consultant on government efforts to use artists and writers to make Gaza's case abroad. He said there were plans to award work that showed the plight of Gaza and added that a television series aimed at the holy month of Ramadan, which starts in late August this year, focused on Jerusalem. One of the first cultural products of the new campaign was given its premiere last week at the Islamic University. Written by Mahmoud Zahar, a physician who is among the most powerful Hamas leaders, it is a movie profile of Emad Akel, a commander of the Hamas military wing who was killed by Israel in 1993.

The two-hour film shows Mr. Akel's use of numerous disguises, including as a religious Israeli settler, and includes scenes of Israeli leaders feuding among themselves. It was shot at the new media center on the grounds of what used to be called Gush Katif, a group of Israeli settlements in southern Gaza from which Israel withdrew four years ago.

A senior Hamas police commander who spoke on condition of anonymity said the focus on culture and away from rockets was appropriate for now. He said Hamas was working on increasing the range of its rockets. But he said: "We have made a decision not to fire. As long as Israel is committed to an unofficial truce, so are we."

He pointed out holes punched in his building by Israeli missiles in late December and said the world needed to know. As he bid goodbye, this menacing man with a fighting past had world opinion on his mind. With a bow and slight smile, he said, "Thank you for coming to Gaza."

Taghreed El-Khodary contributed reporting.


14) Report Sees Agent Orange Link to More Illnesses
July 25, 2009

An expert panel reported on Friday that two more diseases may be linked to exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant used by the American military during the Vietnam War.

People exposed to the chemical appear, at least tentatively, to be more likely to develop Parkinson's disease and ischemic heart disease, according to the report. The report was written by a 14-member committee charged by the Institute of Medicine with determining whether certain medical conditions were caused by exposure to herbicides used to clear stretches of jungle.

The results, though not conclusive, are an important first step for veterans groups working to get the government to help pay for treatment of illnesses they believe have roots on the battlefield. Some other conditions linked to Agent Orange already qualify.

Claud Tillman, a 61-year-old veteran from Knoxville, Tenn., who lost his job repairing guns after he received a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, said those benefits could help dig him out of tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

Mr. Tillman has not worked since March 2007 and now lives on loans from relatives, including his son. "It sure has messed my life up," said Mr. Tillman, who said he was sure he became ill after exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam. "I don't know how to explain it. It won't be long till I'm living under a bridge. I am confident that that's where it came from, but there's no way to prove it."

Since 1994 the Institute of Medicine committee has found 17 conditions associated with exposure to the chemical, 13 of which qualify veterans for service-connected disability benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In its latest report, the committee found "limited or suggestive evidence" linking the herbicide to Parkinson's and ischemic heart disease. In the past, that has been enough evidence of a link to prompt benefits for some conditions but not for others.

The group Vietnam Veterans of America plans to write a letter to the secretary of veterans affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, asking for extended benefits, said Bernard Edelman, the organization's deputy director for policy and government affairs.

The report notes that its conclusions about ischemic heart disease, a condition that restricts blood flow to the heart, causing irregular heartbeats and deterioration of the heart muscle, are still tentative because it is difficult to separate confounding risk factors like age, weight and the effects of smoking. The link between Parkinson's disease and Agent Orange is also uncertain because, while new studies have strengthened the connection between the condition and certain chemicals, there is still no data on veterans and the condition.

Alan Oates, a member of a group called U.S. Military Veterans with Parkinson's Disease, said it could be years before the department made a final rule on benefits. A bill providing benefits has been introduced by Representative Bob Filner, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

In 1991, amid growing concern about serious health consequences from Agent Orange, Congress ordered the National Academy of Sciences to provide independent scientific reviews. Every two years the Institute of Medicine, a private research affiliate of the academy, submits to the department a report updated with conclusions from new studies.

Past reports published by the group have found substantial evidence that soldiers exposed to Agent Orange are more likely to develop cancers including soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and Hodgkin's disease, as well as chloracne, a severe form of acne. The department has extended benefits for all of these conditions.

The 2003 report showed a slightly increased risk of leukemia, prompting the Veterans Affairs Department to extend benefits to veterans with the disease.


15) Report Criticizes FEMA Response on Trailers
July 24, 2009

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency took too long to respond to initial reports of dangerous levels of formaldehyde in trailers delivered to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, exposing people to possible health risks, a report by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general said Thursday.

"FEMA did not display a degree of urgency in reacting to the reported formaldehyde problem," the report said, "a problem that could pose a significant health risk" to those living in the temporary housing.

The report marked a stinging reprimand of FEMA and its slow response to reports in 2006 that air in some trailers registered dangerously high levels of formaldehyde. Critics have said that the chemical, which is used in the manufacture of certain mobile homes and trailers, can cause cancer and respiratory illnesses.

FEMA and its contractors shipped about 203,000 mobile homes, travel trailers and other models to victims of the two hurricanes, which destroyed more than 300,000 homes in 2005 and displaced about 700,000 people.

The report said about one-third of the housing units had "significant potential formaldehyde problems."

Most victims on the Gulf Coast have since moved out of the trailers and mobile homes, although about 3,000 households in Louisiana and Mississippi remain in them. Since the formaldehyde findings were uncovered, FEMA has made sure that formaldehyde levels in all new designs are of an acceptable range.

The report did not accuse any FEMA employee or contractor of wrongdoing, the homeland security inspector general, Richard L. Skinner, said, and the findings stopped short of saying FEMA's delays were intentional.


16) The Safety Net
Jobless Checks for Millions Delayed as States Struggle
July 24, 2009

WASHINGTON - Years of state and federal neglect have hobbled the nation's unemployment system just as a brutal recession has doubled the number of jobless Americans seeking aid.

In a program that values timeliness above all else, decisions involving more than a million applicants have been slowed, and hundreds of thousands of needy people have waited months for checks.

And with benefit funds at dangerous lows even before the recession began, states are taking on billions in debt, increasing the pressure to raise taxes or cut aid, just as either would inflict maximum pain.

Sixteen states, with exhausted funds, are now paying benefits with borrowed cash, and their number could double by the year's end.

Call centers and Web sites have been overwhelmed, leaving frustrated workers sometimes fighting for days to file an application.

While the strained program still makes more than 80 percent of initial payments within three weeks - slightly below the standard set under federal law - cases that require individual review are especially prone to delay. Thirty-eight states are failing to make those decisions within the federal deadline.

For workers who survive a paycheck at a time, even a week's delay can mean a missed rent payment or foregone meals.

Kenneth Kottwitz, a laid-off cabinet maker in Phoenix, waited three months for his benefits to arrive. He exhausted his savings, lost his apartment and moved to a homeless shelter.

Luis Coronel, a janitor at a San Francisco hotel, got $6,000 in back benefits after winning an appeal. But in the six months he spent waiting, there were times when he and his pregnant wife could not afford to eat.

"I was terrified my wife and daughter would have to live on the street," Mr. Coronel said.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said: "Obviously, some of our states were in a pickle. The system wasn't prepared to deal with the enormity of the calls coming in."

The program's problems, though well known, were brushed aside when unemployment was low.

"The unemployment insurance system before the recession was as vulnerable as New Orleans was before Katrina," said Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, who is chairman of a House panel with authority over the program.

Now the number of unemployed Americans has doubled since 2007 to 15 million and the program is more than tripling in size. About 9.5 million people are collecting benefits, up from about 2.5 million two years ago. Spending is expected to reach nearly $100 billion this year, about triple what it was two years ago.

Given how suddenly the workload has increased, some analysts say the delays might have been even worse.

"Payments are later than they should be, and later than they used to be, but states have been overwhelmed," said Rich Hobbie, director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, which represents the program's administrators. "Considering the significant problems in the program, unemployment is responding well."

The recovery act passed in February provided states an additional $500 million for administration. It also suspended interest payments through 2011 for states paying benefits with federal loans.

Unemployment insurance began as a New Deal effort with dual goals: to sustain idled workers and stimulate weak economies. States finance benefits by taxing employers, typically building surpluses in good times to cover payments in bad.

In 2007, the average state paid about $290 a week and aided 37 percent of the unemployed.

As downturns over the last 20 years proved infrequent and mild, states cut taxes, and the federal government, which pays administrative costs, reduced its support by about 25 percent. The states' performance sagged.

In a recent report to the Department of Labor, Ohio said its computer problems "kept the system performance at a snail's pace." Louisiana said its call center was staffed with "temporary workers, with little knowledge" of unemployment insurance.

North Carolina said a wave of retirements had left it "unable to maintain pace or volume of work." Virginia wrote "performance continued to be very stagnant" and called the odds of improvement "bleak."

By 2007, 11 states were paying benefits so slowly they violated multiple federal rules, up from just two at the start of the decade.

While most eligibility reviews can be done by computer, about a quarter require a caseworker - to ensure, say, the applicant was laid off, rather than quit.

In the last year, states processed just 61 percent of these cases within three weeks - well below the federal requirement of 80 percent. More than a half-million cases, 6 percent, took more than eight weeks, and 350,000 took more than 10 weeks.

Of the 12.8 million eligibility reviews that have occurred during the recession, 4.6 million took more than three weeks. That is 2.1 million more than federal rules allow.

Appeals take even longer, with 28 states violating timeliness rules, many of them severely.

Perhaps no state is as troubled as California, which has not met timeliness standards for nine years. As in most other states, its 30-year-old computer runs on Cobol, a language so obsolete the state must summon retirees to make changes.

Yet a major overhaul in California has been delayed for five years, with $66 million in federal funds still waiting to be spent. In part, the shelved project was meant to upgrade the call centers, which were "completely swamped" last winter, a legislative analyst wrote, with "desperate unemployed Californians dialing and redialing for hours."

Deborah Bronow, who runs the state's unemployment insurance program, said, "The systems were antiquated to begin with," and "we were unprepared."

In April, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency, saying the failure to efficiently process checks posed "extreme peril to the safety of persons and property."

California has not met federal standards for adequate reserves since 1990. Still, it cut taxes and raised benefits in the last decade. It is now paying benefits with federal loans, with its debt projected to reach nearly $18 billion next year.

Among those hurt by delays was Mr. Coronel, the San Francisco janitor who lost his hotel job in January. With the phone lines jammed, it took him two days to file an application and a month to learn it had been denied.

Then the waiting really began, as Mr. Coronel filed an appeal and heard nothing for three months. Luckless as he applied for new jobs, he borrowed to pay the rent, then moved in with his mother, and joined his pregnant wife in skipping meals.

"The worst day was when my daughter was born," he said. "I had no clothes for her, and no car seat."

While federal rules require states to decide 60 percent of appeals cases within a month, in recent years, California has met that deadline for just 5 percent. A report by the state auditor last year found the appeals board rife with nepotism and mismanagement.

Mr. Coronel won the appeal, but is soothing a marriage strained by a six-month wait. "It's extremely stressful when you don't know how you're going to support your family," he said.

Nationally, the program is the worst financial shape since the early 1980s, when back-to-back recessions left more than half the states borrowing from the federal government. Tax increases and benefit restraints gradually rebuilt the funds, then states changed course and pushed taxes well below historical levels.

From 1960 to 1990, the tax rate averaged about 1.1 percent of overall payroll. Over the last decade, it fell to 0.65 percent. That represents a tax cut of 40 percent.

Measured against a decade's payroll, that saved employers $165 billion. But by 2007, when the recession began, the average state had just six months of recession-level benefits in reserve, half the recommended sum.

"The attitude became, 'We don't need a firehouse - we can buy hoses when the fire starts,' " said Wayne Vroman of the Urban Institute, a Washington research group.

Some analysts defend the tax cuts, saying they helped both employers and workers, by spurring the economy and creating jobs.

"Lower tax rates make it easier to attract business," said Doug Holmes, president of UWC, a group that advocates on behalf of employers. "We don't want to spend a whole lot of time beating ourselves up because we didn't raise taxes enough. Nobody anticipated a recession this size."

A big reason the reserves fell, Mr. Holmes said, is that the jobless now spend more time on the rolls - 15 weeks in recent years, up from 13 weeks several decades ago. Each extra week costs the program about $3 billion a year. The solution, he said, is stronger job placement provisions.

But others see an irresponsible past that now promises future pain.

"Workers who had nothing to do with the funds becoming insolvent are going to be asked to pay for that with benefit cuts," said Andrew Stettner, an analyst at the National Employment Law Project, a workers' rights group. "That's the worst thing states can do - it takes money straight out of the economy."

Among those who say timely benefits are essential is Mr. Kottwitz, the Arizona cabinet maker, who lost his job just before Christmas. He filed a claim and promptly received a debit card, with no money on it. It took him weeks to reach a program clerk, who told him to keep waiting.

"They said, 'We're behind - be patient,' " he said.

With little savings, no family nearby, and a ninth-grade education, Mr. Kottwitz, 42, had limited options. He got $100 a month in food stamps, collected cans and applied for jobs. When his landlord put him out, he moved to a shelter so overcrowded he spent his first few nights on the ground.

"I felt like I was the scum of the earth," Mr. Kottwitz said.

In March, the shelter referred him to Ellen Katz, a lawyer at the William E. Morris Institute for Justice, an advocacy group, who secured his benefits. By the time the money arrived, Mr. Kottwitz had lost nearly 40 pounds. His first stop was an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Now back in an apartment, he said he was sharing his story in the hope that someone might read it and offer him a job.

"You think that someone would have seen this coming and been more prepared," he said.


17) An Abortion Battle, Fought to the Death
July 26, 2009

WICHITA, Kan. - It did not take long for anti-abortion leaders to realize that George R. Tiller was more formidable than other doctors they had tried to shut down.

Shrewd and resourceful, Dr. Tiller made himself the nation's pre-eminent abortion practitioner, advertising widely and drawing women to Wichita from all over with his willingness to perform late-term abortions, hundreds each year. As anti-abortion activists discovered, he gave as good as he got, wearing their contempt as a badge of honor. A "warrior," they called him with grudging respect.

And so for more than 30 years the anti-abortion movement threw everything into driving Dr. Tiller out of business, certain that his defeat would deal a devastating blow to the "abortion industry" that has terminated roughly 50 million pregnancies since Roe v. Wade in 1973.

They blockaded his clinic; campaigned to have him prosecuted; boycotted his suppliers; tailed him with hidden cameras; branded him "Tiller the baby killer"; hit him with lawsuits, legislation and regulatory complaints; and protested relentlessly, even at his church. Some sent flowers pleading for him to quit. Some sent death threats. One bombed his clinic. Another tried to kill him in 1993, firing five shots, wounding both arms.

In short, they made George Tiller's clinic the nation's most visible abortion battleground, a magnet for activists from all corners of the country.

Dr. Tiller would not budge.

Instead he dug in, pouring his considerable profits into expanding his clinic and installing security cameras, bulletproof glass, metal detectors, fencing and floodlights. He hired armed guards, bought a bulletproof vest and drove an armored S.U.V. He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on some of the state's best lawyers and recruited an intensely loyal staff that dubbed itself Team Tiller. He lobbied politicians with large donations and photographs of severely deformed fetuses.

Confident and dryly mischievous, he told friends he had come to see himself as a general in an epic cultural war to keep abortion legal, to the point of giving employees plaques designating them "Freedom Fighters." His willingness to abort fetuses so late in pregnancies put him at the medical and moral outer limits of abortion. Yet he portrayed those arrayed against him as religious zealots engaged in a campaign whose aim was nothing less than to subjugate women.

"If a stake has to be driven through the heart of the anti-abortion movement," he said, "I want to have my hand on the hammer."

The son of a prominent Wichita physician, married 45 years, the father of 4 and grandfather of 10, a former Navy flight surgeon, a longtime Republican, Dr. Tiller, 67, insisted that he would not be driven from his hometown, where he belonged to its oldest country club, was a devoted member of one of its largest churches, was active in Alcoholics Anonymous, was deeply involved in his alma mater, the University of Kansas, and adored his local Dairy Queen.

Indeed, he made a point of performing abortions the day after he was shot in the arms.

"His is the only abortion clinic we've never been able to close," Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said in an interview.

Yet what thousands could not achieve in three decades of relentless effort, a gunman accomplished on May 31 when he shot Dr. Tiller in the head at point-blank range while the doctor was ushering at church.

Scott Roeder, an abortion foe with the e-mail name "ServantofMessiah," awaits trial in the murder. In a jailhouse interview, Mr. Roeder did not admit guilt but told a reporter that if he is convicted, his motive was to protect the unborn, a goal seemingly advanced when the Tiller family closed the clinic.

But in the weeks since the killing, supporters and opponents of Dr. Tiller have been measuring the larger ramifications. Implacably divided for so long, they now agree on a fundamental point: Dr. Tiller's death represents an enormous loss for each side.

Abortion opponents are bracing for a drop in support, especially from those in the murky middle ground of the debate. Worse yet, after years of persuading supporters to work within the law, they say they have already lost credibility among the most ardent abortion opponents who cannot help pointing out that one gunman achieved what all their protests and prayers could not.

"The credit is going to go to him," Mark S. Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life, said of Mr. Roeder. "There are people who are agreeing with him."

Advocates of abortion rights, meanwhile, are reeling from the loss of one of their most experienced and savviest leaders. One of only three doctors in the United States who openly and regularly performed late-term abortions, Dr. Tiller mentored abortion providers across the country. Some of the nation's most influential women's groups celebrated him as an American hero.

"This is so much more than just a murder in Wichita," said Gloria Allred, a prominent women's rights lawyer.

A Career Choice

Dr. Tiller's career in abortion began with family tragedy.

In August 1970, his parents, sister and sister's husband were killed when the small private plane his father was piloting crashed near Yellowstone National Park. Dr. Tiller, who had carried his father's bag on house calls as a boy, left the Navy and returned home to care for his grandparents and wind down his father's family practice. He and his wife, Jeanne, adopted his sister's baby son, and he talked of settling into life as a dermatologist.

But he discovered his father had been performing significant numbers of illegal abortions, and before long women began turning to him for abortions, too, often under desperate circumstances. "The women taught him about life in Wichita," said Linda Stoner, who worked for Dr. Tiller for a decade. The more skilled he became, the more referrals he got, the more he undercut prices of competitors, the more he began to specialize in abortion, making it the main focus of his practice by the late 1970s.

Friends said Dr. Tiller knew he would become a target. Pickets first showed up in 1975, two years after he performed his first abortion. Years later, an anti-abortion group put him on a "wanted" poster of prominent abortion providers and offered $5,000 for information leading to his arrest. When an abortion provider in Florida was assassinated in 1994, Dr. Tiller spent the next few years under the protection of federal marshals. By 1997, he had been labeled "the most infamous abortionist in the United States" by James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family.

"He chose his life," said Dan Monnat, his longtime lawyer. "And having chosen it, he wasn't going to complain about the restrictions on his liberty by those who saw it another way."

Dr. Tiller also accepted that his career would inevitably bring scrutiny of his private life, including his struggle with substance abuse, which resulted in a 1984 arrest for driving under the influence and an agreement with the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts to seek treatment. (He would later serve on the Kansas Medical Society's impaired physicians committee.)

Still, his family strongly supported his choice. He described his daughters, two of whom became physicians, coming into his study during one especially stressful period. "What they said to me was, 'Daddy, if not now, when? If not you, who?' " he recalled this spring in a court hearing.

Dozens of anti-abortion groups of varying sizes and philosophies were out to shut down his clinic, Women's Health Care Services. While their tactics constantly changed, they shared the same basic goal. "We wanted it to get to the point where it was no longer feasible to stay open," Mr. Gietzen of the Coalition for Life said.

Every vendor who showed up at the clinic was warned that if they continued to do business with Dr. Tiller they would be boycotted. Those who ignored the threat were listed on anti-abortion Web sites. "We had nobody in town that would deliver pizza," said an employee, Linda Joslin.

Protesters confronted his employees, demanding that they quit. If they refused, activists passed out fliers in their neighborhood accusing them of working for a baby killer.

Patients would encounter a gantlet of protest.

They would see a "Truth Truck," its side panels displaying large color photographs of dismembered fetuses. Over the clinic gate, strung between two poles, they might see a banner, "Please Do Not Kill Your Baby." Planted in the grass by the sidewalk were 167 white crosses, representing the average number of abortions that protesters said were performed there each month.

Protesters approached patients' cars, offering them baby blankets and urging them to visit an anti-abortion pregnancy clinic they had set up next door. Sometimes they followed patients to their hotels and slipped pamphlets under their doors. A few years ago anti-abortion campaigners spent weeks in a hotel room with a view of the Tiller clinic entrance. Using a powerful telephoto lens, they took photographs of patients, which were posted on a Web site with their faces blurred.

Much of this activity was methodically tracked by Mr. Gietzen, who said he presides over a network of 600 volunteers, some of whom drove hundreds of miles for a protest "shift." Protesters counted cars entering the clinic gate, and they tracked "saves" - patients who changed their minds. According to Mr. Gietzen's data, over the last five years they had 395 "saves" for an "overall save rate" of 3.77 percent.

They also kept detailed "incident reports" of unusual activity. It was a bonanza if an ambulance was summoned; photographs were quickly posted as evidence of another "botched" abortion.

There seemed an endless supply of fresh accusations.

"Wichita shoppers unknowingly sprinkled with the burnt ash of fetal remains," declared one news release, referring to the clinic's crematorium.

"If I can't document it, I don't say it," Mr. Newman of Operation Rescue said, moments before suggesting without any proof that Dr. Tiller had bought off the local district attorney, Nola T. Foulston, by giving her a baby for adoption. He referred a reporter to a Web site that vaguely asserted that Dr. Tiller "may have delivered the ultimate bribe to Nola Foulston." A spokeswoman for Ms. Foulston declined to discuss the accusation.

Anti-abortion activists routinely portrayed Dr. Tiller's campaign contributions as "blood money" that co-opted politicians. "He owned the attorney general's office," Mr. Newman said. "He owned the governor's office. He owned the district attorney's office."

They relished each confrontation, both for public relations value and for the legal costs inevitably incurred by Dr. Tiller. He spent years, for example, fighting a legal battle to stop them from planting the crosses, and just about every inch of land outside his clinic was subject to litigation or negotiation.

"We know what you can do on the blacktop," Mr. Gietzen said. "We know what you can do on the driveway. We know what you can do on the sidewalk."

In April 2006, though, a volunteer spotted an opportunity for confrontation in one small strip of pavement that he thought had been overlooked: the gutter running between the street and the clinic driveway. The volunteer knelt in the gutter to pray, placing himself in the path of vehicles entering the clinic.

According to the "incident report," a clinic nurse pulled up and "laid on her horn repeatedly." When the volunteer "acted as if he did not know that she was there," the report continued, a clinic guard told him that he was reporting him to the police.

The next day, Mr. Gietzen was standing in the gutter with his volunteer discussing the new tactic when Dr. Tiller pulled up in his armored S.U.V. In another "incident report," Mr. Gietzen wrote: "Tiller floored his accelerator, and aimed his Jeep directly at us!"

Mr. Gietzen claimed that Dr. Tiller's vehicle hit him, causing bruising. He promptly filed a police report, generating more news coverage. He then wrote to Dr. Tiller demanding a $4,000 settlement. When that went nowhere, he sued. He also demanded that Ms. Foulston prosecute Dr. Tiller for attempted murder.

And when she refused, this became more proof of the public "corruption" they traced to Dr. Tiller.

Developing a Sense of Mission

Jacki G., 29, went to Dr. Tiller for an abortion in 1996 after she was raped. She can still remember her trepidation when she and her mother pulled up to the clinic a few weeks into her pregnancy.

In middle school in Wichita, she said, children chanted "Tiller, Tiller, the baby killer." She recalled the gory Truth Trucks driving around town and the 1991 "Summer of Mercy" protests, when hundreds were arrested for blockading Dr. Tiller's clinic.

"It makes an impression," she said.

Not only did she fear the protesters, she also worried about whether Dr. Tiller would be gruff and cold, "only in it for the money," as his critics alleged. It was almost a shock, she said, to instead meet a slightly nerdy doctor who gently explained every step and kept asking, "Are you doing O.K.?"

Employees said Dr. Tiller did not have moral qualms about his work, in part because he defined it as saving women's lives and giving them freedom to determine their futures.

"We have made higher education possible," he said in a speech. "We have helped correct some of the results of rape and incest. We have helped battered women escape to a safer life. We have made recovery from chemical dependency possible. We have helped women and families struggle to save their unwell, unborn child a lifetime of pain."

Dr. Tiller recruited a staff that shared his outlook. Mostly women, several used the same word to describe the clinic: "sisterhood."

They worked under intense pressure, caring for women in distress while constantly confronting protesters eager to pounce on their every mistake. Abortion protesters sent pregnant women into the clinic "under cover," hoping to catch the staff violating Kansas abortion regulations. One employee, Ms. Joslin, 68, pulled out an anonymous letter she received a week before Dr. Tiller's death. "Somebody should kill you, so you can't kill anymore," it said.

As Wichita's three other abortion clinics closed under the pressure of protesters, Dr. Tiller cultivated a sense of mission. Throughout the clinic he hung hundreds of framed thank-you letters from patients. He posted a list of "Tillerisms" - his favorite axioms, including, "The only requirement for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."

He also paid well and gave bonuses to mark legal victories. In 2001, after heavy protests, he held a party and gave each employee a dozen roses, a medal engraved with the torch of liberty, a T-shirt depicting Rosie the Riveter and the words, "We can do it Team Tiller," and an American flag that had flown over the clinic.

His defiance was as relentless as the protests. When his clinic was bombed, he put up a sign that said "Hell, no. We won't go!" In a fit of anger, he once told an anti-abortion leader, "Too bad your mother's abortion failed." Employees and protesters alike said he even drove into his clinic "with attitude," accelerating slightly as if to emphasize that protesters had no right to block his gate. And when he drove by Mr. Gietzen, he sometimes smiled and lifted an editorial cartoon depicting Mr. Gietzen as a lunatic.

In 2001, protesters began appearing at Dr. Tiller's church with Truth Trucks and a demand that the church ex-communicate the Tiller family.

"They were abusively shouting at people not to take their children into the church because there was a murderer there," recalled the Rev. Sally C. Fahrenthold, then the interim pastor at the church, Reformation Lutheran.

For at least two years, protesters showed up each Sunday, sometimes disrupting services from the pews. Protesters obtained a copy of the membership address book and sent all members postcards showing aborted fetuses.

Years earlier, friends said, the Tillers had been asked to leave another church because of his abortion practice. Reformation Lutheran made no such request. The Tillers were mainstays in the church. Jeanne Tiller sings in the choir, and her husband was a regular in Bible study. Still, the Tillers were saddened by the protests, Pastor Fahrenthold said, and a couple of families left the church.

Eventually the Sunday protests petered out, although every so often protesters returned. Last fall, when the church was recruiting a new pastor, it listed abortion as one of the main challenges facing the membership. "Everybody there was not on the same page on this issue," the new pastor, Lowell Michelson, said in an interview.

Pastor Michelson said he and Dr. Tiller sometimes spoke about abortion. This, he said, is how he learned of adoptions Dr. Tiller sometimes arranged for his patients, in some cases even having women live with his family until after childbirth. "He was giving women in the most desperate of situations options when they had none," he said.

One lingering question in the church, though, was whether to improve security, and there was talk about buying a camera for the church entrance. Dr. Tiller did not perceive any significant threat. He did not, at least in recent years, take his guards to church.

"The church was the one place he felt safe," Ms. Joslin said.

New Strategies by Opponents

Several years ago it became clear to anti-abortion leaders that they needed a new strategy to shut down Dr. Tiller. They eased off their more combative protest tactics and resolved to rely more on the courts, the Kansas Legislature and the news media to attack him.

They also decided to sharpen their focus on late-term abortions.

Dr. Tiller's clinic Web site boasted that he had more experience with late-term abortions "than anyone else currently practicing in the Western Hemisphere." Since 1998, interviews and state statistics show, his clinic performed about 4,800 late-term abortions, at least 22 weeks into gestation, around the earliest point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb. At 22 weeks, the average fetus is 11 inches long, weighs a pound and is starting to respond to noise.

About 2,000 of these abortions involved fetuses that could not have survived outside the womb, either because they had catastrophic genetic defects or they were simply too small.

But the other 2,800 abortions involved viable fetuses. Some had serious but survivable abnormalities, like Down syndrome. Many were perfectly healthy.

Like many states, Kansas has long placed limits on late-term abortions of viable fetuses. They can be done only to save the woman's life or because continuing the pregnancy would cause her a "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function," a phrase that Kansas legal authorities, citing United States Supreme Court cases, have said encompasses the woman's physical and mental health. The state also requires the approval of a second Kansas physician "not legally or financially affiliated" with the doctor performing the abortion.

Even so, Kansas law gives considerable deference to physicians' judgments. Dr. Tiller and his staff said they had a rigorous screening process to comply with the law.

The vast majority of women seeking late-term abortions from Dr. Tiller's clinic were from other states, records and testimony show. Dozens more came each year from Canada and other countries. Many were referred by their obstetrician. Law enforcement officials sometimes gave Dr. Tiller's name to victims of rape or incest.

Prospective patients were required to submit a battery of medical records. They were asked whether they had considered adoption. Before meeting Dr. Tiller, women were interviewed by at least two clinic counselors. Many of the questions - about appetite, sleep habits, thoughts of suicide - were intended to detect symptoms of severe mental illness. Patients were also examined by a second physician, as required by law.

According to sworn testimony by his staff, hundreds of women were turned away each year because they did not meet the legal requirements for a late-term abortion.

When late-term abortions were done, Dr. Tiller typically injected a lethal drug into the fetus's heart, then induced labor after the heart stopped. The entire process typically took several days, and many patients have written tributes about the sensitive care they received.

Abortion opponents focused on a different aspect of the procedure: the fees. Describing Dr. Tiller's "decadent, lavish lifestyle," an Operation Rescue Web site included a photograph of his 8,500-square-foot home.

Based on Dr. Tiller's sworn testimony, his clinic grossed at least $1.5 million in 2003 from late-term abortions, a small fraction of the total number of abortions his clinic performed. On average, he charged $6,000 for a late-term abortion, and by his calculation the clinic's profit margin was 38 percent.

Anti-abortion leaders were determined to demonstrate that Dr. Tiller enriched himself by performing late-term abortions for trivial reasons, and they believed that Kansas law offered the key to exposing that and closing him down. A billboard in Wichita asked, "Is Tiller above the law?"

They found two powerful champions.

The first was Phill Kline, a conservative radio host and fierce abortion opponent who was elected attorney general of Kansas in 2002 and promptly opened an investigation into Dr. Tiller.

In 2004, Mr. Kline subpoenaed case files of 60 women and girls who had late-term abortions performed at Dr. Tiller's clinic. (He also sought 30 files from Planned Parenthood in Overland Park.) Mr. Kline said his inquiry centered on potential violations of the late-term abortion law and a second law requiring physicians to report evidence of sexual abuse against minors.

The second champion was Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, host of the nation's most-watched cable news program, who began attacking Dr. Tiller in 2005, eventually referring to him as simply "Tiller the baby killer." Mr. Gietzen said he and other activists fed tips to Mr. O'Reilly's staff. Mr. O'Reilly began one program this way: "In the state of Kansas, there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5,000 if the mother is depressed."

Dr. Tiller assembled a legal team to derail Mr. Kline's investigation. While the Kansas Supreme Court refused to quash Mr. Kline's subpoena, it was clearly uneasy. Noting that the files "could hardly be more sensitive," the court ordered identifying information redacted and warned both sides to "resist any impulse" to publicize the case.

Mr. Kline's investigators tried to identify patients anyway, court records show. Mr. Kline also hired medical experts recommended by anti-abortion groups and gave them access to the files without requiring them to pledge confidentiality.

One expert, Paul McHugh, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, then discussed the files - though not identities - in a videotaped interview arranged by anti-abortion activists that quickly made its way to Mr. O'Reilly and others in the news media.

Calling Mr. Kline's conduct "inexcusable," the Kansas Supreme Court reprimanded him in an opinion that questioned his ethics and honesty. "Essentially, to Kline, the ends justify the means," the justices said.

Legal Victories

Nonetheless, Dr. McHugh's interview raised the question of whether Dr. Tiller had used readily treatable mental health maladies as a pretext to justify late-term abortions.

According to Dr. McHugh, the files he saw contained diagnoses like adjustment disorder, anxiety and depression that to his eyes were not "substantial and irreversible." He also claimed that some women offered "trivial" reasons for wanting an abortion, like a desire to play sports. "I can only tell you," he said in his taped interview, "that from these records, anybody could have gotten an abortion if they wanted one."

Yet Dr. McHugh's description of the files left out crucial bits of context. He failed to mention, for example, that one patient was a 10-year-old girl, 28 weeks pregnant, who had been raped by an adult relative. Asked about this omission by The New York Times, Dr. McHugh said that while the girl's case was "terrible," it did not change his assessment: "She did not have something irreversible that abortion could correct." (Dr. Tiller's lawyers, who have called Dr. McHugh's description of the patient files "deeply misleading," declined to discuss their contents.)

Not content to rely only on Mr. Kline, anti-abortion leaders also took advantage of an obscure Kansas statute allowing residents to petition for grand jury investigations. They gathered thousands of signatures to convene two grand juries focusing on Dr. Tiller.

The first, in 2006, investigated the case of Christin A. Gilbert, a 19-year-old with Down syndrome who died two days after having an abortion at Dr. Tiller's clinic. The autopsy concluded that Ms. Gilbert "died as a result of complications of a therapeutic abortion," most likely infection. But the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, after an 11-month investigation by two separate panels, cleared Dr. Tiller of wrongdoing. The grand jury declined to indict.

Mr. Newman of Operation Rescue appeared before the second grand jury armed with a thick briefing book summarizing his group's investigation into Dr. Tiller. The grand jury was also given access to medical records for more than 150 randomly selected patients who had late-term abortions.

It also declined to indict.

But it did so in a way that was less an exoneration than a criticism of the Legislature for failing to provide clearer guidelines. The law as written and interpreted, the grand jury complained in a statement, seemed to allow late-term abortions to prevent health problems that "as a matter of common interpretation" were not "substantial and irreversible." The grand jury said lawmakers had intended to limit these late-term abortions to "only the gravest of circumstances," yet Dr. Tiller's files "revealed a number of questionable late-term abortions."

In 2006, Mr. Kline lost his re-election bid by 17 percentage points to Paul J. Morrison, who made Mr. Kline's abortion investigation a major issue. To anti-abortion activists, Mr. Kline's defeat was yet another example of Dr. Tiller's raw clout. Dr. Tiller, they said, had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to a political action committee that criticized Mr. Kline, who was labeled the "Snoop Dog." They claimed that Dr. Tiller would press the new attorney general to end Mr. Kline's investigation.

Instead, Mr. Morrison charged Dr. Tiller with 19 misdemeanor violations of the late-term abortion law involving the very files Mr. Kline had subpoenaed.

Dr. Tiller was charged with violating the provision requiring the independent approval of a second Kansas doctor. The same doctor, Ann K. Neuhaus, had signed off on all 19 cases. She typically saw patients at Dr. Tiller's clinic once a week. Although patients paid her directly, prosecutors claimed that she and Dr. Tiller had a symbiotic relationship because his patients were her only source of income.

Dr. Tiller responded with customary self-confidence, insisting that he would take the stand.

The trial so long sought by abortion foes took place this March. It quickly became clear that the case was far from ironclad. The prosecutor produced no evidence of shared fees, partnership agreements or kickbacks. He was reduced to pointing out that Dr. Neuhaus had hugged Dr. Tiller before testifying.

Worse still, there was evidence that an official for the Kansas Board of Healing Arts had suggested the arrangement with Dr. Neuhaus, who had closed her own women's health clinic to care for her diabetic son. There was also evidence that several times a year Dr. Neuhaus disagreed with Dr. Tiller about whether an abortion was necessary. As for Dr. Neuhaus examining women at his clinic, Dr. Tiller told jurors that was done to spare patients repeated confrontations with protesters.

Why, he was asked, were so few doctors in America willing to perform late-term abortions? "Because of the threat to themselves and to their family," he replied.

Why had he not switched to another kind of medicine? "Well," he said, "quit is not something I like to do."

The jury took less than 30 minutes to acquit Dr. Tiller of all charges.

It was an enormous victory, but Dr. Tiller's supporters feared a backlash. Anti-abortion activists who had attended court sessions were disgusted. Mr. Newman remembered one new face among the regulars in court - Scott Roeder, who told other protesters that the trial was a "sham" and had argued in years past that homicide was justifiable to stop abortions.

Facing the Risks

On Sunday, May 31, Reformation Lutheran Church celebrated the Festival of Pentecost with a special prelude of international music.

Most members were already settled in the pews, but Dr. Tiller, an usher that morning, was greeting stragglers in the foyer by the sanctuary entrance. His wife was in the sanctuary where Pastor Michelson, beating a darbuka drum, was midway through an African song called "Celebrate the Journey!"

Pastor Michelson heard a sharp noise but thought it was probably a child dropping a hymnal. Then an usher beckoned him toward the sanctuary entrance. "George has been shot," the usher told him quietly.

Two church members were already performing CPR on Dr. Tiller by the juice and coffee table. Pastor Michelson heard someone say a gunman - later identified by the police as Mr. Roeder - had fled.

Pastor Michelson thought of the families, the children, in the sanctuary. An assistant pastor, trying to avoid panic, went ahead with the service. Dr. Tiller died in the foyer.

Long ago, he had accepted the possibility he might be assassinated. It was something he and his fellow abortion providers had quietly discussed, and friends said he had lost count of all the death threats.

Even so, there was a mood of stunned rage when local abortion rights advocates gathered the Friday after his killing at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Wichita.

Marla Patrick, the Kansas state coordinator of the National Organization for Women, spoke of all the other abortion providers who had been killed, injured or threatened. Including Dr. Tiller, four doctors have been slain in the United States since 1993. It was time, she said, for law enforcement to treat abortion violence as "domestic terrorism."

Pedro L. Irigonegaray, a lawyer for Dr. Tiller, aimed his fury at Mr. Kline and Mr. O'Reilly, saying their "fraudulent charges" had surely been meant to incite "a response from radicals."

But it was a demoralized group. In Topeka, the state capital, they have long been outmuscled by conservative Christians, who have been steadily chipping away at abortion rights. One woman, a lobbyist for abortion rights, described how some legislators literally turned their backs when she testified.

Gail Finney, a junior member of the Legislature, stood and asked why there had not been more outcry from the state's leaders over Dr. Tiller's killing.

"Where's the anguish?" Ms. Finney said.

Not a single Kansas politician of statewide prominence showed up the next morning for Dr. Tiller's funeral, which drew 1,200 mourners. Nor were any at Reformation Lutheran the next day, the first Sunday service after his death.

In the foyer where he was shot, the juice and coffee table had been turned into a memorial, with Dr. Tiller's photograph next to a basket of buttons he had passed out by the boxful to patients, employees and friends. "Attitude is Everything," they said.

Outside, Pastor Michelson greeted families with hugs. "There was no way I was going to hide inside," he later said.

The Tiller clan took their usual spot in the pews, and Mrs. Tiller, radiant in red, was embraced again and again. Flowers from her husband's funeral framed the altar.

The church was more crowded than usual.

In his sermon, Pastor Michelson openly acknowledged his own apprehensions. "Our sanctuary has been violated," he said. He urged his congregation to rise above fear and anger, and took note of the supportive letters and e-mail messages from churches all over the country.

Only later, during an interview, did he mention all the hate mail.

An End to the Fight

The next morning the Tillers announced the clinic's closing.

"We are proud of the service and courage shown by our husband and father and know that women's health care needs have been met because of his dedication and service," the family said in a statement. "That is a legacy that will never die."

Mr. Gietzen absorbed the news in his dimly lighted basement, surrounded by dusty stacks of anti-abortion literature, news releases and petitions. Dozens of campaign signs, including one for Mr. Kline, covered one wall. In a corner he had built a crude assembly line for producing the crosses he planted at Dr. Tiller's clinic. In his driveway was Truth Truck No. 3, proclaiming "Abortion is an ObamaNation."

Mr. Gietzen juggled two phones, one for his volunteers and one for his Christian dating service.

A volunteer called and Mr. Gietzen issued instructions to call off a protest at the clinic. No need now, he said.

The phone rang again. A volunteer wondered whether the announcement was a trick.

"Listen, Donna," he said, "I'm sure it's not a ploy."

Another call: The voice was jubilant. "God has his own way," Mr. Gietzen replied, "but you can't say our prayers weren't answered."

Yet later, Mr. Gietzen said his feelings were more complex. Many years ago, he explained, he had wrestled with the question of whether it would be moral to kill Dr. Tiller. Only after months of reading and praying, he said, did he conclude that violence could never be justified. Killing men like Dr. Tiller, he said, will only put off the day when abortion is outlawed altogether.

"He has killed more babies than he has saved," Mr. Gietzen said of Mr. Roeder. "I don't care how much fan mail he is getting."

As he explained himself, Mr. Gietzen did something unexpected. He spoke admiringly of the man he reflexively referred to as "Abortionist Tiller." He said he was "very smart" and a "great businessman." He said that if he had been in town he would have attended Dr. Tiller's funeral to pay his respects.

"A worthy adversary," he said. "He was right back at us."


18) Florida Shifts Child-Welfare System's Focus to Saving Families
July 25, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After her daughter and a daughter-in-law were each jailed on drug charges last fall, Sylvia Kimble, 46, poor and with a deeply troubled history of her own, struggled to care for six grandchildren.

Only a few years ago, officials here say, the safest path would have been to split up the children in foster care. Yet here they are, rambunctious children wrestling in her living room, Ms. Kimble encouraging her daughter's out-patient drug rehabilitation while also arranging for summer camp and a family trip to a water park.

Ms. Kimble hardly seemed like an ideal anchor for the children, three of whom have psychological problems. She had spent 20 years on the streets herself, using drugs and without receiving treatment for bipolar disorder. Clean for 11 years now, she nonetheless admitted she had little experience with parenting, having left her own children in her mother's care.

But Florida's radical transformation of its child-welfare system, marked by a wholesale shift in spending, allowed officials to take a chance on Ms. Kimble. Instead of spending large sums for foster care, it provided in-home counseling, therapy for the children and cash aid to help the makeshift family stay intact and even thrive.

While the focus on preserving families has taken hold in several states, here it has been backed by a federal waiver that allows the state to use foster care financing for prevention and mental health, an approach that advocates of the program hope will become standard nationwide.

In another move, popular with both conservatives and liberals, the state outsourced most child-welfare services to nonprofit foster agencies that have an incentive to preserve families.

In less than three years, Florida has reduced the number of children in foster care by 32 percent. Here in Duval County, essentially the city of Jacksonville, the number has declined by more than 50 percent since 2006. And the smaller number of children taken from homes deemed dangerous are more quickly reunited with parents or adopted.

The transformation, outside experts say, is remarkable for its speed - and was achieved without the protracted takeover by federal courts common in other states.

"Florida has quickly joined the top ranks of states that are turning around child welfare," said Cari DeSantis, an executive vice president at Casey Family Programs in Seattle, which promotes family preservation. She cited Alabama, Illinois and New York City as other leaders in the movement.

Only six or seven years ago, there was a crisis mentality at Florida's Department of Children and Families. The system was criticized for removing children too often and yet failing to protect them, including those in foster care. In one notorious case, it took the authorities two years to discover that a 5-year-old girl in foster care had disappeared in 2000; she is presumed to have been murdered.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, led the transfer of many child services to nonprofit agencies. State officials remain responsible for investigating charges of abuse and neglect, and deciding when to ask a judge to remove a child from the home.

In addition, Florida in 2006 was the only state to take full advantage of an experimental waiver offered by the Bush administration. Ordinarily, federal aid is determined by how many children are in custody. Florida asked to receive a flat fee that it could spend on counseling and other aid instead of foster care when it wished. The shift was seen as fiscally risky - an increase in foster children would not bring more money - but it has paid off.

"The new system is not only better for the children but it also saves money," said George Sheldon, secretary of children and family services.

Investigators felt they could gamble on Ms. Kimble because for the first time they could offer extensive help as they kept close tabs on the home. "Family services has been a blessing," Ms. Kimble said of the private agency that sent social workers to her home to teach about parenting, arranged needed therapies for the children and provided Wal-Mart vouchers for buying Christmas gifts.

To be sure, some critics say that in Florida and other pioneers of family preservation, flaws remain in child protection - illustrated recently in Florida by the suicide of a foster child who received psychiatric drugs without adequate oversight, and by reports that some social workers had falsified reports of family visits. The push to save families in many states and cities has often been set back by highly publicized deaths of neglected children.

Marcia Lowry, director of Children's Rights, an advocacy group based in New York, said that keeping children with their parents was best but only if measures were in place to help the families and ensure safety.

"It worries me when people say the rate of children in care should be reduced by 50 percent," Ms. Lowry said, referring to Florida's statewide goal for 2012. "I don't think you can do it that way. You need to look at the quality of decision making and services."

A disquieting indicator in Florida, she said, was an overall rise in child deaths because of abuse and neglect in recent years.

But Alan F. Abramowitz, director of Florida's family safety office, said the comparison was misleading because in 2006, deaths attributed to neglect rose after the definition was expanded to include more drownings. According to an independent university report, Mr. Abramowitz added, the rate of re-abuse of children within six months after their cases were closed was cut in half from 2006 to 2007.

For front-line social workers, a welcome change is an ability to work with parents who have not been formally charged with abuse or neglect. "We're serving so many more families now, with a lot fewer kids in foster care," said Nancy Dreicer, regional director for child welfare based in Jacksonville.

Bipartisan support has allowed the child-welfare system to preserve its state financing even in the current budget crisis.

As part of the privatization, a nonprofit group in Jacksonville, Family Support Services, is helping Ms. Kimble and her family.

"At first I didn't think I could take on the challenge," Ms. Kimble said.

She just gets by on federal disability payments for herself and the three of the children who have psychiatric problems, providing a total of about $2,700 a month. With its new flexibility, family services last fall gave her cash aid to pay utilities and muster a $500 down payment toward a subsidized house.

Ms. Kimble expects to close on the house at the end of July, and the group of eight will move in together. She knows that she is still learning how to be a parent, as is her daughter in the home.

"The thing I can share, though," Ms. Kimble said, "is that I've got all the love in the world."


19) An Amazon Culture Withers as Food Dries Up
July 25, 2009

XINGU NATIONAL PARK, Brazil - As the naked, painted young men of the Kamayurá tribe prepare for the ritualized war games of a festival, they end their haunting fireside chant with a blowing sound - "whoosh, whoosh" - a symbolic attempt to eliminate the scent of fish so they will not be detected by enemies. For centuries, fish from jungle lakes and rivers have been a staple of the Kamayurá diet, the tribe's primary source of protein.

But fish smells are not a problem for the warriors anymore. Deforestation and, some scientists contend, global climate change are making the Amazon region drier and hotter, decimating fish stocks in this area and imperiling the Kamayurá's very existence. Like other small indigenous cultures around the world with little money or capacity to move, they are struggling to adapt to the changes.

"Us old monkeys can take the hunger, but the little ones suffer - they're always asking for fish," said Kotok, the tribe's chief, who stood in front of a hut containing the tribe's sacred flutes on a recent evening. He wore a white T-shirt over the tribe's traditional dress, which is basically nothing.

Chief Kotok, who like all of the Kamayurá people goes by only one name, said that men can now fish all night without a bite in streams where fish used to be abundant; they safely swim in lakes previously teeming with piranhas.

Responsible for 3 wives, 24 children and hundreds of other tribe members, he said his once-idyllic existence had turned into a kind of bad dream.

"I'm stressed and anxious - this has all changed so quickly, and life has become very hard," he said in Portuguese, speaking through an interpreter. "As a chief, I have to have vision and look down the road, but I don't know what will happen to my children and grandchildren."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that up to 30 percent of animals and plants face an increased risk of extinction if global temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in coming decades. But anthropologists also fear a wave of cultural extinction for dozens of small indigenous groups - the loss of their traditions, their arts, their languages.

"In some places, people will have to move to preserve their culture," said Gonzalo Oviedo, a senior adviser on social policy at the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Gland, Switzerland. "But some of those that are small and marginal will assimilate and disappear."

To make do without fish, Kamayurá children are eating ants on their traditional spongy flatbread, made from tropical cassava flour. "There aren't as many around because the kids have eaten them," Chief Kotok said of the ants. Sometimes members of the tribe kill monkeys for their meat, but, the chief said, "You have to eat 30 monkeys to fill your stomach."

Living deep in the forest with no transportation and little money, he noted, "We don't have a way to go to the grocery store for rice and beans to supplement what is missing."

Tacuma, the tribe's wizened senior shaman, said that the only threat he could remember rivaling climate change was a measles virus that arrived deep in the Amazon in 1954, killing more than 90 percent of the Kamayurá.

Cultures threatened by climate change span the globe. They include rainforest residents like the Kamayurá who face dwindling food supplies; remote Arctic communities where the only roads were frozen rivers that are now flowing most of the year; and residents of low-lying islands whose land is threatened by rising seas.

Many indigenous people depend intimately on the cycles of nature and have had to adapt to climate variations - a season of drought, for example, or a hurricane that kills animals.

But worldwide, the change is large, rapid and inexorable, heading in only one direction: warmer. Eskimo settlements like Kivalina and Shishmaref in Alaska are "literally being washed away," said Thomas Thornton, an anthropologist who studies the region, because the sea ice that long protected their shores is melting and the seas around are rising. Without that hard ice, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to hunt for seals, a mainstay of the traditional diet.

Some Eskimo groups are suing polluters and developed nations, demanding compensation and help with adapting.

"As they see it, they didn't cause the problem, and their lifestyle is being threatened by pollution from industrial nations," said Dr. Thornton, who is a researcher at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. "The message is that this is about people, not just about polar bears and wildlife."

At climate negotiations in December in Poznan, Poland, the United Nations created an "adaptation fund" through which rich nations could in theory help poor nations adjust to climate change. But some of the money was expected to come from voluntary contributions, and there have been none so far, said Yvo De Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. "It would help if rich countries could make financial commitments," he said.

Throughout history, the traditional final response for indigenous cultures threatened by untenable climate conditions or political strife was to move. But today, moving is often impossible. Land surrounding tribes is now usually occupied by an expanding global population, and once-nomadic groups have often settled down, building homes and schools and even declaring statehood.

The Kamayurá live in the middle of Xingu National Park, a vast territory that was once deep in the Amazon but is now surrounded by farms and ranches.

About 5,000 square miles of Amazon forest are being cut down annually in recent years, according to the Brazilian government. And with far less foliage, there is less moisture in the regional water cycle, lending unpredictability to seasonal rains and leaving the climate drier and hotter.

That has upended the cycles of nature that long regulated Kamayurá life. They wake with the sun and have no set meals, eating whenever they are hungry.

Fish stocks began to dwindle in the 1990s and "have just collapsed" since 2006, said Chief Kotok, who is considering the possibility of fish farming, in which fish would be fed in a penned area of a lake. With hotter temperatures as well as less rain and humidity in the region, water levels in rivers are extremely low. Fish cannot get to their spawning grounds.

Last year, for the first time, the beach on the lake that abuts the village was not covered by water in the rainy season, rendering useless the tribe's method of catching turtles by putting food in holes that would fill up, luring the animals.

The tribe's agriculture has suffered, too. For centuries, the Kamayurá planted their summer crops when a certain star appeared on the horizon. "When it appeared, everyone celebrated because it was the sign to start planting cassava since the rain and wind would come," Chief Kotok recalled. But starting seven or eight seasons ago, the star's appearance was no longer followed by rain, an ominous divergence, forcing the tribe to adjust its schedule.

It has been an ever-shifting game of trial and error since. Last year, families had to plant their cassava four times - it died in September, October and November because there was not enough moisture in the ground. It was not until December that the planting took. The corn also failed, said Mapulu, the chief's sister. "It sprouted and withered away," she said.

A specialist in medicinal plants, Ms. Mapulu said that a root she used to treat diarrhea and other ailments had become nearly impossible to find because the forest flora had changed. The grass they use to bound together the essential beams of their huts has also become difficult to find.

But perhaps the Kamayurá's greatest fear are the new summer forest fires. Once too moist to ignite, the forest here is now flammable because of the drier weather. In 2007, Xingu National Park burned for the first time, and thousands of acres were destroyed.

"The whole Xingu was burning - it stung our lungs and our eyes," Chief Kotok said. "We had nowhere to escape. We suffered along with the animals."