Saturday, October 03, 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!


On the 8th Anniversary of the War on Afghanistan
End colonial occupation in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Haiti...
Healthcare, jobs, housing, education for all--Not War!
San Francisco Protest:
Wednesday, October 7, 5:00 p.m.
New Federal Building
7th and Mission Streets, Near Civic Center BART
Volunteers needed: 415-821-6545

U.S. Troops Out Now! Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan!
Assemble 11:00 A.M. U.N. Plaza, SF (Market between 7th and 8th Streets)
March begins at 12:00 Noon
Rally begins at 1:00 P.M. back at U.N. Plaza
Commemorating the eighth anniversary of the war on Afghanistan and the 40th anniversary of the massive October 17, 1969 Vietnam Moratorium.
Sponsor: October 17 Antiwar Coalition
510-268-9429 or 415-794-7354


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:


Sick For Profit

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

Michael Moore on Good Morning America

Michael Moore on Countdown With Keith Olbermann

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


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





On the weekend of October 3rd and 4th in Washington D.C., Military Families Speak Out and American Friends Service Committee will undertake the first Eyes Wide Open Exhibit showing the Cost of War in Afghanistan.

Over 830 pairs of combat boots representing the fallen troops in Afghanistan and 100 shoes, a fraction of those civilians killed during 8 years of war and occupation will be displayed. The Exhibit will be located on the SE Ellipse, or "President's Park", as they refer to it in the National Parks Service.
See what you can do to help!



RALLY at Court Hearing to Keep Mehserle's Trial in Oakland

Rene C. Davidson Courthouse
12th St. + Oak (near Oakland City Center/12th St. BART Station)
(Change-of-venue hearing starts at 2:00 PM)
* Details may change. Updated info at

Join the OCT. 6TH FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE and invite all your friends:

Download flyer in PDF format at:

Everyone who wants justice for Oscar Grant must rally at the courthouse on Tuesday, October 6. On this day, Michael Rains, the lawyer for Johannes Mehserle, the ex-BART officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant, will argue to move the murder trial outside of Oakland. The District Attorney's office has not yet indicated they will make any serious opposition to Rains' motion.

From the point of view of the powers that be who want to protect the police, moving the trial is the easiest and safest way they can let Mehserle get away with murder. If the trial takes place outside of Oakland, Mehserle will almost certainly go free. In the past 15 years, police officers killed more than 5,000 people, and yet, because of racism, prejudice, and a legal system committed to protecting the police, not a single officer was convicted of murder-even when the killings were obvious and egregious. And if Mehserle is found not guilty in the face of the strong evidence against him, this would set an example for every single police officer that a badge is a license to murder. We must not let this happen.

What affects the outcome of the October 6 hearing, as with every legal development around Mehserle this year, will be entirely a question of power, not the law. Everybody knows that if the people of Oakland had never stood up and fought, the law never would have been applied to Johannes Mehserle. As a police officer, he would never have faced criminal charges, nor made to stand trial for murder. From the beginning, the District Attorney and the courts have done what, at any given moment, they feel they can get away with to let Mehserle go free. It has required Oakland building a mass community and civil rights movement to get the justice system to act with any evenhandedness at all.

Oakland has much to be proud of. Our mass organizing, the independent public investigation, and especially the actions of youth have won the almost unheard of: the murder trial of a police officer.

However, now that several months have passed, the District Attorney, judge, and the powers that be are thinking that simply granting the formality of a trial was enough. They think that they just might get away with moving the trial to another city and ensuring Mehserle's acquittal. This is why they have dragged out the proceedings for so long.

However, if we rally at the courthouse on October 6 and show that there will be mass outrage if Mehserle is acquitted, they will smooth the way for a murder conviction and keep the trial in Oakland.


Mehserle's lawyer, Michael Rains, argued in his Sept. 11, 2009 brief: "The black community has prejudged Mehserle guilty of a crime." It is clear what Rains wants: no black people on the jury. What Rains wants is a mostly-white jury from the suburbs to have the right to decide how and under what circumstances young black people can be shot in Oakland.

Rains' motion is undemocratic and racist. The people of Oakland have the right to set the norms of decency and civility in our own community. We have the right to establish safety for our families and loved ones. The people of Oakland-a diverse city of black, Latina/o, Asian, Arab, Native American, and white people that is proud of its diversity-are just as intelligent and reasonable as the people of any other community. And, like most everyone, we care about decency, fairness, and justice.

Mehserle and his lawyer must not get away with Jim Crow justice. Join us at the courthouse on October 6 to rally and demand: "Keep the trial in Oakland!"


Join the OCT. 6TH FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE and invite all your friends:

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights
and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN)


On the 8th Anniversary of the War on Afghanistan

End colonial occupation in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Haiti...

Healthcare, jobs, housing, education for all--Not War!

San Francisco Protest:

Wednesday, October 7, 5:00 p.m.
New Federal Building
7th and Mission Streets, Near Civic Center BART

Initiated by the ANSWER Coalition--Act Now to Stop War and End Racism
Volunteers needed: 415-821-6545



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


Please join us for a very exciting day with

President Barack Obama

We have just confirmed that the President will be visiting San Francisco for two events in support of Organizing for America and the Democratic National Committee.



Reception and Dinner

Westin St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco

Space will be limited for each event. Leadership opportunities will be available for those interested. Please let us know as soon as possible if you are available and interested in attending and/or taking a leadership role in either of the events. More detailed information to follow shortly.

We look forward to welcoming President Obama back to San Francisco!

Please contact Wade Randlett or (415) 692-3556.


U.S. Troops Out Now! Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan!
Assemble 11:00 A.M. U.N. Plaza, SF (Market between 7th and 8th Streets)
March begins at 12:00 Noon
Rally begins at 1:00 P.M. back at U.N. Plaza
Commemorating the eighth anniversary of the war on Afghanistan and the 40th anniversary of the massive October 17, 1969 Vietnam Moratorium.
Sponsor: October 17 Antiwar Coalition
510-268-9429 or 415-794-7354

Money for Human Needs Not War!

Immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops, military personnel, bases, contractors, and mercenaries from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Colombia.

End U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine! End the Seige of Gaza!

U.S. Hands Off Iran and North Korea!

Self-determination for All Oppressed Nations and Peoples!

End War Crimes Including Torture and Prosecute the War Criminals!

See historical images of the Vietnam Moratorium at:

Image of San Francisco Vietnam Moratorium, Golden Gate Park, October 17, 1969 (I was


Please forward widely. Contact us if you or your organization would like to endorse this call.



Oscar Grant. Brownie Polk. Parnell Smith. And dozens more Oakland alone. Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo in New York City. Adolph Grimes in New Orleans. Robbie Tolan in Houston. Julian Alexander in Anaheim. Jonathan Pinkerton in Chicago. And thousands more nationwide.
All shot down, murdered by law enforcement, their lives stolen, victims of a nationwide epidemic of police brutality and murder.

The racist arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates this summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts - right in his own home - showed that any Black man or woman, no matter their stature, no matter their education, no matter their accomplishments can be targeted for brutality - even murder - at any moment.

Meanwhile, a whole generation of youth is treated as guilty until proved innocent, and hundreds of thousands are criminalized, and locked away in U.S. prisons with no hope for the future. And immigrants are subject to brutal raids, with families cruelly split up in an instant.

We refuse to suffer these outrages in silence. We need to put a stop to this and drag the truth about the nationwide epidemic of police violence and repression into the light of day for all so see. We say no more! Enough is Enough!

Oct 22nd 2009 is the 14th annual national day of protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of Generation---bringing together those under the gun and those not under the gun as a powerful voice to expose the epidemic of police brutality. On that day in cities across the country many different people will take to the streets against police brutality and murder, against the criminalization of youth, and against the targeting of immigrants.

We call for a powerful demonstration in Oakland on October 22 demanding:

* Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation!

* October 22....No To Police Brutality

* No to ICE raids and round-ups of immigrants!

* Enough Is Enough! No More Stolen Lives!

* Justice for Oscar Grant and all victims of police murder!

* Wear Black, Fight Back

Contact the National Office of October 22nd at: or 1-888-NOBRUTALITY

October 22nd Coalition
P.O. Box 2627
New York, N.Y. 10009


[please excuse duplicate postings]

October 24 Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education
We have the power to stop the catastrophic budget cuts, fee hikes, and layoffs -- but to save public education in California requires coordinating our actions on a statewide level.

We invite all UC, CSU, CC, and K-12 students, workers, teachers, and their organizations across the state to participate in and collectively build the October 24 Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education. The all-day conference will take place at UC Berkeley (contact us for more logistics).
The purpose of this conference is both simple and extremely urgent: to democratically decide on a statewide action plan capable of winning this struggle, which will define the future of public education in this state, particularly for the working class and communities of color.

Why UC Berkeley? On September 24, over 5,000 people massively protested and effectively paralyzed the UCB campus, as part of the UC-wide walkout. A mass General Assembly of over 400 individuals and dozens of organizations met that night and collectively decided to issue this call.

We ask all organizations and individuals in the state who want to save public education to endorse this open conference and help us collectively build it.

Save public education!
No budget cuts, fee hikes, or layoffs!
For statewide student, worker, and faculty solidarity!

Please contact to endorse this conference and to receive more details.


Dear participants, authors, organizational endorsers and allies,

Attached are promotional materials for our upcoming events in support of GI
resistance on Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 featuring Col. Ann Wright (ret.), Dahr
Jamail, David Solnit, Marjorie Cohn, Rebecca Solnit, and Aimme Allison.

Web graphics and text are attached. Some list both events, and others for
each event separately. Please use as needed for your purposes. For example,
if you have an online calendar, you may want to post the date-specific
graphic and/or text for each date. Descriptions below.

Courage to Resist very much appreciates your participation and support.
Please let me know if you have any questions.

Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist

Web graphic for both events - ctr-oak09-events.jpg
Web graphic for Oct 18 only - ctr-18oct09-wright-event.jpg
Web graphic for Oct 25 only - ctr-25oct09-cohn-event.jpg

PDF leaflet for both events - ctr-oak-oct09events.pdf

Text announcement (brief) for both events - oct18-25-events-brief.txt
Text for Oct 18 only - oct18-wright-jamail-solnit.txt
Text for Oct 25 only - oct25-cohn-solnit-allison.txt



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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to become an endorser:

Click here to make a donation:

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

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

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

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

Killing and dying to avoid the perception of defeat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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


Take Action: Stop Rite Aid's abuses: Pass the Employee Free Choice Act!

For years Rite Aid workers have faced unfair firings, campaigns of misinformation, and intimidation for trying to form a union. But Rite Aid would never have been able to get away with any of this if Congress had passed the Employee Free Choice Act.

You can help us fight mounting anti-union opposition to the bill that would have protected Rite Aid's workers. Tell Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act today!


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat


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

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

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

Take action now:


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

New videos from April 24 Oakland Mumia event

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

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

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


Short Video About Al-Awda's Work
The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected over the past nine years.
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) Obama to Use Current Law to Support Detentions
September 24, 2009

2) Letter From America
A Detainee Freed, but Not Released
September 24, 2009

4) Pittsburgh Is Calm After Day of Raucous Protests
September 26, 2009

5) California University Cuts Protested
September 25, 2009

6) Report Cites Lack of Precautions in 2008 Sugar Plant Fire
September 25, 2009

7) South African Children Push for Better Schools
September 25, 2009

8) Atlanta Judge Rules Dialysis Unit Can Be Closed
September 26, 2009

9) Kuwaiti Ordered Released From Guantánamo Bay
September 26, 2009

10) U.S. Job Seekers Exceed Openings by Record Ratio
September 27, 2009

11) Cassandras of Climate
Op-Ed Columnist
September 28, 2009

12) Honduras Shuts Down 2 News Outlets
September 29, 2009

13) High Cost of Death Row
September 28, 2009

14) Smuggling Europe's Waste to Poorer Countries
September 27, 2009

15) Robocops Come to Pittsburgh
and bring the latest weaponry with them
by Mike Ferner
September 28, 2009

16) Army finally accepts Lt. Ehren Watada resignation
By Audry McAvoy, Associated Press
September 25, 2009

17) Immigration Crackdown With Firings, Not Raids
September 30, 2009

18) Signs of Life in Financial Reform
September 30, 2009

19) Abortion and Health Care Reform
October 1, 2009

20) Airstrike Kills Eight in Afghanistan
October 2, 2009

21) International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-Labor
Statement of Solidarity with the Palestinian General Strike
October 1, 2009


1) Obama to Use Current Law to Support Detentions
September 24, 2009

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has decided not to seek new legislation from Congress authorizing the indefinite detention of about 50 terrorism suspects being held without charges at at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, officials said Wednesday.

Instead, the administration will continue to hold the detainees without bringing them to trial based on the power it says it has under the Congressional resolution passed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, authorizing the president to use force against forces of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In concluding that it does not need specific permission from Congress to hold detainees without charges, the Obama administration is adopting one of the arguments advanced by the Bush administration in years of debates about detention policies.

But President Obama's advisers are not embracing the more disputed Bush contention that the president has inherent power under the Constitution to detain terrorism suspects indefinitely regardless of Congress.

The Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday night that "the administration would rely on authority already provided by Congress" under the use of force resolution. "The administration is not currently seeking additional authorization," the statement said.

The department pointed out that courts would continue to review the cases of those held without charges through habeas corpus hearings. The Washington Post first reported the decision.

The legal interpretation applies to detainees whom the government concludes should be held because they are a continuing danger to national security but who cannot be brought to trial for various reasons, like evidence tainted by harsh interrogations. Although it has not determined definitively how many detainees that applies to, officials said it would probably be about 50 of the more than 200 men still held at Guantánamo. The government plans to bring the others to trial or send them to other countries.

Officials said the decision applies only to those already held at Guantánamo. They said it remained an open question whether the administration would seek legislation or establish a new system for indefinite detention of suspected terrorists captured in the future.

Justice Department officials informed representatives of human rights and civil liberties groups about the decision not to seek the new legislation for the current detainees at a meeting last week. Officials said Wednesday that the position was in keeping with the evolving arguments being made by the administration in court over recent months.

"The position conveyed by the Justice Department in the meeting last week broke no new ground and was entirely consistent with information previously provided by the Justice Department to the Senate Armed Services Committee," the department's statement said.

Still, the position surprised some critics who had expected after a speech by Mr. Obama in May that he would seek legislation to put the system of indefinite detention on firmer political and legal ground. In that speech at the National Archives, Mr. Obama said that he was considering continuing indefinite detention in some limited cases but that he would not act unilaterally.

"We must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded," he said at the time. "They can't be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone."

He said he would "work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution."

Officials said Wednesday that working with Congress did not mean the president would seek legislation, only that he would consult lawmakers.

Given the opposition in Congress to Mr. Obama's plan to close Guantánamo, especially if it means transferring detainees to prisons on American soil, the prospect of writing legislation that would pass both houses appears daunting at best.

Sarah E. Mendelson, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who led a study about closing Guantánamo, said forgoing legislation was "overall a good step" because it prevented Congress from making things worse. "We don't know if it closes the door definitively on efforts to institutionalize detention without charge," she added, "since the White House might seek to do this by itself."


2) Letter From America
A Detainee Freed, but Not Released
September 24, 2009

NEW YORK - Anybody who thinks it's going to be easy for the Obama administration to meet its goal of closing the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention center by Jan. 22 needs to take a look at the case of Saber Lahmar, who has been imprisoned there since January 2002.

Mr. Lahmar is an Algerian who in 2001 was living and working as a permanent resident of Bosnia.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, he was suspected by the U.S. authorities of involvement in a plot to attack the American Embassy in Sarajevo, which led to his arrest by the Bosnian police, his transfer to the U.S. authorities and his incarceration, along with five other suspects from Bosnia, at Guantánamo.

In November 2008, Mr. Lahmar became the first Guantánamo detainee to successfully challenge his detention, bringing a habeas corpus petition to federal court in Washington.

According to his lawyer, Robert Kirsch, the U.S. government abandoned its claim that there ever was a plot to attack the embassy in Sarajevo, though it maintained that Mr. Lahmar and the other Bosnians were planning to travel to Afghanistan to fight against U.S. forces there.

But Judge Richard Leon, a Bush appointee and no crusader against Guantánamo, ruled that there was no evidence to support the government's claim, and he ordered the United States to use pursue all efforts to get Mr. Lahmar released from custody.

But despite that ruling, nearly a year after his detention was found to be unjustified, Mr. Lahmar is right where he has been for almost eight years: locked up in Guantánamo. He has not seen his wife for that entire time, nor has he ever seen the child that she gave birth to not long after his arrest.

"Relatively speaking," Mr. Kirsch, his lawyer, said, "his conditions are better than those he had before the court decision, but he's still suffering horribly emotionally and psychologically."

Ever since Judge Leon's decision, Mr. Lahmar's detention has been technically illegal, and one way to deal with it would be to allow him to settle in the United States. But Congress has forbidden any Guantánamo detainees from being settled in the United States.

Moreover, Mr. Lahmar himself, Mr. Kirsch said, isn't eager to settle in the country that incarcerated him for so long.

Instead, the matter has been turned over to the State Department, specifically to Daniel Fried, the special envoy whose job is to facilitate the closing of Guantánamo by persuading other countries to take the detainees who have been ordered released by the courts or determined to pose no danger. Mr. Fried has had some modest success lately - but not in the case of Mr. Lahmar or of a majority of the others ordered released by the courts.

In all, since the Supreme Court decision last year, some 37 habeas petitions have been heard. Thirty have been decided in favor of the detainees, seven against them. Of the 30 ordered released, 20 are still in custody.

Lawyers involved in the detainees' cases say that about 226 men remained locked up in Guantánamo in all, of whom 80 have been approved for resettlement while about 40 have been referred for prosecution.

But what sort of prosecution - before civilian or military courts? This basic question has still not been decided, despite the Obama administration's early and outspoken opposition to the Guantánamo way of doing things.

President Barack Obama suspended ongoing military tribunals when he came into office, but since then his administration has postponed a decision on whether to proceed with some military tribunals or to shift those trials to the civilian courts.

According to lawyers involved in some of these cases, the administration's dilemma is this: If it proceeds with military tribunals, it keeps in place the system of the previous administration, which, during the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama called "an enormous failure."

If it moves to civilian trials, it risks having crucial evidence thrown out because it was obtained by waterboarding and other means of "enhanced interrogation."

And so, can Guantánamo be emptied and closed in the next four months?

"I think it's likely that most of the men held prisoner there will be gone by then," Mr. Kirsch said. "It will take tremendous diplomatic effort, but the level of creativity that comes from a deadline should not be underestimated."

Nearly half of the detainees who qualify for release are Yemenis. If Mr. Fried can strike a deal with either Yemen or Saudi Arabia to take them, a large part of the problem could be eliminated at a single stroke.

But not all are Yemenis. Take, for example, the 22 Uighurs, members of the Muslim minority of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in western China. The men were at one time imprisoned in Guantánamo, and all have since been determined by the courts to pose no danger to the United States.

Nine of them have gone to Albania and Bermuda, and four more have agreed to go to the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau - but the nine others are reluctant to go there, said the lawyer for two of the Uighurs, Susan Baker Manning.

"What happens to those who don't accept the offer to go to Palau - and there could be many reasons for not accepting it - I don't know," Ms. Manning said. "I'd only be guessing at this point."

And then what of those who will be prosecuted? And what of those deemed too dangerous to be released but too difficult to prosecute - a category that isn't much publicly acknowledged, but that lawyers who are involved in the Guantánamo cases believe to exist?

One worry of human rights lawyers is that their clients could be taken away from a closed-down Guantánamo and put someplace else outside the jurisdiction of the law.

"The last thing we want to see is the opening of a similar facility elsewhere in the world, " Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project, said, "or even in the United States."

E-MAIL Tomorrow Akash Kapur on the public "option" in India.


3) Thousands protest fees, cuts at UC campuses
Nanette Asimov, Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writers
Friday, September 25, 2009

Thousands of students, professors and workers at University of California campuses across the state poured out of classrooms Thursday to rally against deep cuts to public education and aim their frustration squarely at UC leaders' handling of its budget crisis.

Even students outside of UC - at San Francisco State University and at City College of San Francisco - held demonstrations in support of the UC walkout.

About 5,000 people showed up at noon at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza in a massive gathering - the largest of the 10 campuses - that began as a teach-in about the budget crisis and morphed into a vast student march through downtown Berkeley that blocked traffic for nearly two hours.

"Education should be free! No cuts, no fees!" chanted the protesters, marching shoulder to shoulder and carrying signs reading, "Stop the cuts - they hurt!"

The systemwide walkout reflected frustration and anger as UC lays off hundreds of workers, imposes unpaid employee furloughs and reduces courses to close a budget gap of more than $750 million - the result of dramatically reduced funding from the cash-poor state and higher operating costs.

5 percent tuition hike

The regents are also expected to raise next year's tuition to $10,302, a 45 percent increase over last year's tuition, which many students say will put a UC education out of their reach.

UC leaders said they shared the protesters' frustration over deep cuts to public education, but that the anger should be focused on state government.

"While we understand there's some anger and angst spread across our campuses, our hope is that it will be directed more precisely toward Sacramento, where the heart of the problem lies," said UC's interim provost, Larry Pitts.

Lawmakers, in turn, turned it back on UC.

"The state is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis," said Julia Brownley, a Santa Monica Democrat who chairs the Assembly Education Committee. "The students are protesting how the university cut its budget. The Legislature left that up to the university."

Screaming interest group

Asked about his cuts to education during a Commonwealth Club appearance in San Francisco, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dismissed the protesters as a screaming interest group.

"They're all screaming," he said. "Everyone has to tighten their belts."

Key among the protesters' concerns is that the cuts will damage UC's role as an economic engine in California that produces top graduates doing the most innovative work in their fields.

Cal officials and protesters said the rally at UC Berkeley was the largest gathering in recent memory, except the night of the Obama inauguration, and was the largest turnout among all UC campuses.

"This is extraordinary," said Shannon Steen, an American studies professor with a faculty group called Save the University. "This so far exceeds anything we thought would happen."

Protests systemwide

At other UC campuses - many of which began fall semester Thursday - crowds estimated at several hundred to 1,000 gathered on quads and at flagpoles to vent their anger, often under a scorching sun.

"It's exciting," said Keith Danner, a lecturer in English who helped organize the rally at UC Irvine. "To have 1,000 people standing for an hour in 95-degree heat just shows the depth of feeling against these devastating cuts."
Lacking tenure, Danner had to be careful about skipping class. So, like many untenured lecturers, he turned the rally into a lesson.

"I did a writing lesson about 'purpose and audience' and had them interview people at the rally," Danner said.

UC has about 19,400 faculty members, but only about 9,000 have tenure, said spokesman Pete King.

Most classes met as scheduled, campus administrators said, though some were held in professors' living rooms and even on picket lines.

Joining the walkout were thousands of nonfaculty employees from the University Professional and Technical Employees union who picketed to highlight a labor dispute with UC.

Chronicle staff writer Kelly Zito contributed to this report. E-mail the writers at and


4) Pittsburgh Is Calm After Day of Raucous Protests
September 26, 2009

PITTSBURGH - A calm descended over downtown here Friday morning, a day after raucous confrontations between the police and protesters rallying against the Group of 20 meeting that resulted in 66 arrests, at least 5 people requiring medical attention, and about 19 businesses with broken windows or other damage.

Protest organizers had encouraged civil disobedience Friday morning but little occurred.

The largest permitted rally, organized by the Thomas Merton Center, was scheduled to move to downtown from Forbes Avenue around noon local time.

It was unclear if civil disobedience would occur elsewhere in the city at the same time.

"Up to now there was so much fear - people were told that it would be dangerous and violent," said Peter Shell, president of the center, which advocates change through peaceful struggle.

"We have a permit," he added. "We confront the policies of the G-20, not the police. We're a different kind of protest."

In the city's Oakland neighborhood on Friday morning, where the police pursued protesters the night before, demonstrators gathered again to join the larger permitted march. Protesters with Iraq Veterans Against the War, wearing fatigues, stood near the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on 5th Avenue. Tibetans chiming cymbals and waving signs - like one that read "G20 Let's Talk Tibet" - denounced China in chants. A group called Students for Justice in Palestine assembled on Forbes Avenue and called for an end to the Israeli occupation.

As the groups gathered, state troopers wearing black helmets looked on, but the atmosphere was far less tense than the night before, when hundreds of police officers carrying long batons fired smoke canisters that trailed in high arcs before landing among buildings at the University of Pittsburgh, including the Gothic-style tower called the Cathedral of Learning.

On Thursday, the city had locked down its business district, known as the Golden Triangle, in preparation for possible clashes. Riot fences lined the sidewalks. Police helicopters, gunboats and Humvees darted to and fro. City officials announced that they had up to 1,000 jail cells ready after county officials freed up additional space last week by releasing 300 people who had been arrested on minor probation violations.

Many local residents stayed away from downtown Thursday, fearing clashes.

But the intermittent conflicts that did occur were well outside the security perimeter surrounding the G-20 meetings.

In the afternoon, protesters who tried to march toward the convention center where the gathering was being held encountered roaming squads of police officers carrying plastic shields and batons. The police fired a sound cannon that emitted shrill beeps, causing demonstrators to cover their ears and back up; then the police threw tear gas canisters that released clouds of white smoke and stun grenades that exploded with sharp flashes of light.

City officials said they believed it was the first time the sound cannon had been used for crowd control. "Other law enforcement agencies will be watching to see how it was used," said Nate Harper, the Pittsburgh police chief. "It served its purpose well."

The protesters, who did not have a permit to march, rolled a large blue metal trash container down 37th Street. It stopped short of police vehicles and in front of a women's clothing and shoe boutique called Pavement.

"It was scary," said Alissa Martin, the shop's owner. "You feel like you're living in a war zone."

Much of the afternoon involved a cat-and-mouse game in which protesters, many in all black, evaded large forces of heavily armed police officers in the streets near Liberty Avenue.

The police repeatedly announced over loud speakers that the crowd had assembled unlawfully.

"You must leave the immediate vicinity," the voice over the loud speaker said, adding that if the protesters did not, they would be subject to arrest and would face "the use of riot control agents" and "less lethal munitions," which police later said were soft bean bags fired at protesters. At that point, the police fired tear gas and stun grenades.

Trevor Griffith, 21, was part of the march after driving 16 hours from Pensacola, Fla., with three fellow students from the University of West Florida.

"The fact that 20 or so individuals right now are determining economic trade policies for four to five billion people just isn't right," Mr. Griffith said. "That's why we're here."

The turbulence downtown was in sharp contrast to smaller and less confrontational rallies and parades earlier in the day.

Melanie White, 53, from Fremont, Ohio, said she was marching to bring wider attention to the conflict between the authorities and religious leaders in Myanmar. On Thursday, she joined a rally of about 100 people led by Burmese monks in saffron robes and chanting. The group went from the north side of the city over the Sixth Street Bridge, ending up in Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh.

"It was very important to be there," Ms. White said, adding that her group was commemorating the second anniversary of the so-called saffron revolution in Myanmar.

"I think it is important to give voice to the Burmese problem because they are not getting their own voice at the G-20," Ms. White said.

Just blocks away, a row of vans filled with police officers escorted several cars carrying meeting attendees past a police barrier to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where the meeting officially began Thursday evening with a welcoming ceremony.

Sean D. Hamill and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.


5) California University Cuts Protested
September 25, 2009

BERKELEY, Calif.- Thousands of students, faculty members and employees at the 10 University of California campuses protested budget cuts, unpaid faculty furloughs and tuition increases on Thursday.

Officials at the University of California, Berkeley, estimated that several thousand protesters were in Sproul Plaza chanting and waving signs. Most academic departments on campus reported that some classes had been canceled because faculty members and students walked out. Other campuses reported smaller turnouts at rallies and marches.

"Everyone agrees there is a budget crisis and that the university must respond," said Joshua Clover, an associate professor of English at U.C. Davis who was a co-author of a petition calling for the faculty walkout on Thursday. The problem, Mr. Clover said, is that the administration's handling of the budget cuts "disproportionately harms those who can least afford it both among the workers and the students."

The online walkout petition was signed by 1,221 of the 19,000 faculty members statewide. A union representing more than 11,000 university professional and technical staff members supported the protest and called a one-day strike.

The Legislature approved a reduction of $637.1 million, about 20 percent of the university's 2009-2010 fiscal year financing, as part of the budget agreement reached in August. The university's budget now stands at $2.6 billion. Friction has developed between the administration and some faculty and staff members and students over how and where to cut.

Among the more contentious items are a proposed 32 percent increase in student tuition by fall 2010, and decisions made by the university president, Mark Yudof, over how to handle mandatory faculty furlough days, which will reduce pay by 4 to 10 percent. Average yearly tuition and fees for undergraduates this academic year are $8,720.

"I chose Berkeley over all the other universities because it offered me a very good education at a price my family could afford," said Brandon Pham, 17, a freshman political science major who skipped the day's classes in protest. Mr. Pham held a sign that read: "We make the university. They make the crisis."

Steve Montiel, a spokesman for the University of California's office of the president, said, "We respect people expressing themselves, but we hope they realize that the true source of their frustration is in Sacramento at the state capital."

What started as a planned faculty walkout to address specific furlough issues ballooned into a 10-campus protest of the larger implications of the reduction of money for public higher education in the state.

"We are operating on the assumption that the state's disinvestment will continue," said Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau of Berkeley, adding that the university would now have to rely on higher fees, private foundation donations and better investments. The pain of budget cuts will be felt broadly, he said, and "paying for public education is going to be increasingly difficult for middle-class families."

Catherine Cole, a professor in the theater department, who canceled her classes on Thursday to attend the rally, said: "We've hit a tipping point. What is emerging here is people realizing it doesn't have to be this way."

Still, many students at Berkeley did not participate in the protest and walked about campus as they would on any other Thursday. "I haven't been near Sproul Plaza today," said Ray Liang, 18. "I have classes to go to and homework to do."


6) Report Cites Lack of Precautions in 2008 Sugar Plant Fire
September 25, 2009

ATLANTA - A huge fire last year at a sugar refinery near Savannah, Ga., that killed 14 workers and injured 36 more was "entirely preventable," a federal official said Thursday as the results of an investigation into the fire's causes were released.

The owner of the plant, the Imperial Sugar Company, and the plant's managers knew for decades about the hazards of sugar dust but failed to take the necessary precautions, according to the report, issued by the Chemical Safety Board, which investigates industrial chemical accidents.

The report blamed inadequate equipment design, poor maintenance and ineffective housekeeping for the explosion and fire in February 2008, and said that Imperial Sugar and the sugar industry as a whole were aware of the dangers of dust explosions at least as early as 1925.

In a written statement, John C. Sheptor, the president and chief executive of Imperial Sugar, said the company had "collaborated" with the safety board on the report and was "working diligently" to put in place the report's safety recommendations.

The report also cited internal memorandums at the plant, in Port Wentworth, Ga., dating from 1967, before it was owned by Imperial Sugar, showing that managers were concerned about the possibility that accumulations of sugar dust could ignite a chain of explosions that would destroy "large sections of the plant."

The initial explosion most likely occurred inside a sugar conveyor situated beneath two silos, the report said.

The conveyor had recently been enclosed, creating "a confined, unventilated space where sugar dust could accumulate to an explosive concentration," the safety board said.

That explosion quickly spread, igniting sugar dust and spilled sugar in adjacent areas.

Imperial Sugar had not conducted evacuation drills and the explosion and fires disabled most emergency lighting, trapping workers in a dark maze of corridors, the report said.

The Chemical Safety Board does not issue citations or levy fines, but in July 2008, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration found violations at the Port Wentworth plant and at an Imperial Sugar plant in Gramercy, La., where an inspection five weeks after the Georgia fire found sugar dust four feet thick in some areas.

The agency proposed fines of $8.7 million, the third-largest in the agency's history. Imperial Sugar is contesting the fine.

Brent J. Savage, a lawyer in Savannah who is representing some of the victims or family members of victims in lawsuits against the plant, said the report reinforced their case and cast new suspicion on insurers and other third-party inspectors, who the report said failed to make note of accumulations of sugar dust at the plant.

The first of his clients whose case is going to trial is Paul Seckinger, a mechanic who was badly burned and who, Mr. Savage said, has incurred more than $8 million in medical bills.

"They did an unbelievably in-depth study and they had access to things that a typical plaintiff's lawyer would not," Mr. Savage said of the safety board.


7) South African Children Push for Better Schools
September 25, 2009

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Thousands of children marched to City Hall this week in sensible black shoes, a stream of boys and girls from township schools across this seaside city that extended for blocks, passing in a blur of pleated skirts, blazers and rep ties. Their polite demand: Give us libraries and librarians.

"We want more information and knowledge," said a ninth grader, Abongile Ndesi.

In the 15 years since white supremacist rule ended in South Africa, the governing party, the African National Congress, has put in place numerous policies to transform schools into engines of opportunity. But many of its leaders, including President Jacob Zuma, now acknowledge that those efforts have too often failed.

The new protest movement, with its practical goals, youthful organizers and idealistic moniker, Equal Education, is a quintessentially South African answer to a failing education system, one that self-consciously acknowledged its debt to the past in the march to City Hall.

In 1976, when police officers shot a 13-year-old named Hector Pieterson in Soweto, a children's uprising against apartheid emerged and spread across the country to Cape Town, where students from a mixed-race high school, Salt River, marched in solidarity with black schoolchildren.

Zackie Achmat, South Africa's wiliest campaigner for AIDS treatment, was himself a 14-year-old marcher that September day 33 years ago. Mr. Achmat, now graying, was among the protesters following the same route this week, his white straw hat bobbing in a sea of plaids and ginghams.

The idea for a new movement dedicated to educational equity was his, and he helped nurse Equal Education into being, counseling its young leaders to work with teachers and government officials whenever possible. The country's leadership, which has been slow to grapple with the AIDS crisis, understands the urgent need for better education, he said. The new director general of the country's Higher Education Ministry, Mary Metcalfe, has served as head of Equal Education's board.

"In building a citizens' movement, the most important element is giving people the sense of their own power to change things with little victories," Mr. Achmat said.

The job of organizing the group has fallen to a pair of law school graduates from the University of Cape Town. Doron Isaacs, 29, its coordinator, was leader of Habonim South Africa, an organization of young, left-wing Jewish activists with whom Mr. Achmat has worked for years. Mr. Isaacs recruited a classmate, Yoliswa Dwane, 27, who was raised by her seamstress mother and now lives in a shack in the township of Khayelitsha, south of Cape Town, where she is caring for nieces, ages 12 and 17.

Last year, Equal Education gave students in Khayelitsha, home to more than 500,000 unemployed and working-class people, disposable cameras to document problems in their high schools. They returned with shots of leaking roofs, cracked desks and children crowded around a single textbook.

One image - a bank of window panes at Luhlaza high school, all shattered, captured by a student named Zukiswa Vuka - proved the most resonant. Some 500 windows at the school had been broken for years, leaving the students shivering in wintertime classes.

Equal Education's first campaign was to get them replaced. The school agreed to put up about $650, an amount the group said it would match. That left some $900 still needed. Over months, the group met with local and provincial managers, organized a communitywide petition drive, held a rally of hundreds of township students and garnered coverage in local newspapers.

Finally in November, provincial education officials announced that the windows would be fixed and that a sum almost 10 times what the students had requested would be invested in the school.

This year, students successfully agitated for a science teacher at Chris Hani High School when it had none for the seniors.

They also led a drive to get their classmates to come to school on time, with early-morning pickets at school gates - an effort that also showed up late-arriving teachers.

The libraries campaign is the group's first attempt to tackle a national issue. With financial support from Atlantic Philanthropies and the Open Society Institute, among others, it is also hoping to broaden its membership to include teachers and more parents and to graduate to bigger victories.

Mr. Isaacs said Equal Education's members knew that problems far harder to fix than windows or missing libraries awaited and that part of the answer was building alliances with the teachers' union, which is in the governing alliance.

"We know that the teachers' union is one of the most powerful institutions in the country," he said, "and if we style ourselves as its adversary, we'll be dead in the water."

The marchers, stretched out Tuesday along Main Road in the shadow of majestic Table Mountain, were themselves a wealth of stories.

Nkosinathi Dayimani, a senior, was one of the beneficiaries of the new science teacher this year, but not soon enough to prevent his failure on the recent trial run of the national science exam.

Asanda Sparks, a petite ninth grader from Kraaifontein Township, has been hoping for a library in her school since bullies picked her pocket as she walked to the public library to research Nelson Mandela's life.

And Nina Hoffman was among the dozens of white students who joined the march from one of the country's formerly all-white suburban high schools - Westerford - which can afford a well-stocked library because parents pay annual fees of more than $2,200 per child.

"Coming to a march like this, I realize even more how privileged we are and how much I take for granted," she said.

During their two-hour walk to City Hall on a gloriously sunny afternoon, the young people seemed buoyed by the hope of making a difference.

Abongile, the ninth grader from Luhlaza high school, noted appreciatively that she did not have to sit with chattering teeth in class this winter because the broken windows had been fixed.

"I saw that Equal Education can make something impossible possible," she said.


8) Atlanta Judge Rules Dialysis Unit Can Be Closed
September 26, 2009

ATLANTA - Uninsured dialysis patients who could be cut off from their life-sustaining care lost a court challenge on Friday when a judge ruled that Grady Memorial Hospital could close its outpatient dialysis clinic. But the hospital gave the patients a temporary reprieve.

Ruling largely on technical grounds, a state court judge dissolved the restraining order that prevented last weekend's scheduled closing of the clinic at Grady, the Atlanta region's safety net hospital. The hospital, which is deeply in debt, quickly announced it would close the clinic within a week. It agreed, however, to pay for up to three months of dialysis at private clinics for the 51 patients who will be dislocated.

Grady will continue to assist the indigent patients, many of them illegal immigrants, in seeking care in their home countries or in other states where they may qualify for emergency Medicaid coverage.

Lawyers and advocates for the Grady dialysis patients had asked in negotiating sessions that the hospital provide a longer transition period. Grady's senior vice president, Matt Gove, said he could not speculate about whether the hospital would extend its financial assistance beyond three months to patients unable to make arrangements.

"The hospital, along with the patient, each bears some responsibility in doing everything we can to find a long-term solution," Mr. Gove said.

Federal law generally prohibits coverage of illegal immigrants by Medicaid and Medicare (which pays for dialysis for citizens regardless of age). Some states - but not Georgia - allow those immigrants to use Medicaid dollars in emergency situations, potentially including dialysis. Legal immigrants must wait five years before qualifying for benefits.

In the Atlanta region, that has made Grady, which accepts all patients regardless of immigration status or ability to pay, the provider of last resort for many illegal and uninsured patients. The taxpayer-supported hospital estimates the dialysis clinic will lose $2 million this year. Mr. Gove said he could not project how much the three-month extension might cost.

Lindsay R. Jones, the lawyer for the patients, called the order Friday by Judge Ural D. Glanville of Fulton County Superior Court "an angry, punitive decision."

"At least 51 patients had their life support system unplugged today under the authorization of this judge," Mr. Jones said.

He said he planned to refile his case in Judge Glanville's court on Monday after addressing its technical problems. He said he hoped to persuade the judge to hear the stories of some of the dialysis patients who accompanied him to a hearing on Wednesday but were not allowed to testify.

Mr. Jones said he did not expect a markedly different result, but hoped to create a record that might be used in a federal court filing that he was considering.

Judge Glanville ruled that Mr. Jones's class-action complaint had been improperly filed because, among other reasons, it lacked signatures from the two patients listed as plaintiffs. But the judge went further by writing that even if the case had been properly filed it would be unlikely to succeed on the merits.

"As it relates to the receipt of medical treatment, the court is unpersuaded at this time that plaintiffs have a constitutional right to the sought-after relief," Judge Glanville wrote.


9) Kuwaiti Ordered Released From Guantánamo Bay
September 26, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal judge has ordered the release of a Kuwaiti man held at Guantánamo Bay and rebuked the United States government for relying on scant evidence, witnesses who were not credible and coerced confessions to hold him for more than seven years.

In an opinion declassified Friday, the judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court here, said government lawyers presented a "surprisingly bare" record in four days of classified hearings last month to oppose the man's request for release.

She said that the man, Fouad al-Rabiah, an aviation engineer, was being held almost exclusively on the basis of confessions that had been obtained through abusive techniques and that his own interrogators had repeatedly concluded were not believable.

"Incredibly, these are the confessions that the government has asked the court to accept as truthful in this case," Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote in a 65-page opinion that was partly redacted to remove classified material. She called the coerced confessions "entirely incredible" and said they "defy belief."

"If there exists a basis for al-Rabiah's indefinite detention, it most certainly has not been presented to this court," the judge found.

Mr. Rabiah, 50, is the 30th Guantánamo detainee to be ordered released by a federal judge who has reviewed evidence justifying detention. Seven detainees have been denied freedom after a judge determined the evidence suggested they supported terrorism.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the judge's opinion.

Mr. Rabiah is a father of four with a degree in aviation studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. He worked for Kuwait Airways for 20 years, was part owner of a health club in Kuwait and often traveled to impoverished countries. He said the travel was for charitable relief work, but government lawyers argued that it was in support of terrorist organizations.

Mr. Rabiah said that he traveled to Afghanistan in October 2001 to aid refugees, but government lawyers said it was to be with Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks. "The evidence in the record strongly supports al-Rabiah's explanation," Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote, citing letters that he wrote to his family describing his travels.

Mr. Rabiah was captured on Dec. 25, 2001, as he tried to leave Afghanistan, and detained by American troops. He was sent to Guantánamo in 2002, and Judge Kollar-Kotelly found that from the beginning of his stay, "there is no evidence in the record that anyone directed any allegations toward al-Rabiah nor any indication that interrogators believed al-Rabiah had engaged in any conduct that made him lawfully detainable."

"To the contrary," she said, "the evidence in the record during this period consists mainly of an assessment made by an intelligence analyst that al-Rabiah should not have been detained."

General Wants Prison Closed

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) - The Marine commander who built the prison at Guantánamo Bay said Thursday that the United States had lost the "moral high ground" with its brutal treatment of prisoners and that the facility should be closed as quickly as possible.

It was the first time the commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert, had publicly acknowledged his doubts, although he said he had made his concerns known through the appropriate chain of command.

General Lehnert, 58, was commander of Joint Task Force 160 when it was assigned to build prison cells in 2001 at the Navy base in Cuba to hold designated enemy combatants from Afghanistan and elsewhere. He said he had been given little guidance from the Pentagon, but he did have his staff read the Geneva Conventions, the international agreements governing treatment of prisoners.

However, another task force was put in charge of interrogating detainees, and there were disagreements over their treatment, General Lehnert said. "I think it is extraordinarily important how we treat prisoners," he said. "Obviously, there were other views."


10) U.S. Job Seekers Exceed Openings by Record Ratio
September 27, 2009

Despite signs that the economy has resumed growing, unemployed Americans now confront a job market that is bleaker than ever in the current recession, and employment prospects are still getting worse.

Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one, the worst ratio since the government began tracking open positions in 2000. According to the Labor Department's latest numbers, from July, only 2.4 million full-time permanent jobs were open, with 14.5 million people officially unemployed.

And even though the pace of layoffs is slowing, many companies remain anxious about growth prospects in the months ahead, making them reluctant to add to their payrolls.

"There's too much uncertainty out there," said Thomas A. Kochan, a labor economist at M.I.T.'s Sloan School of Management. "There's not going to be an upsurge in job openings for quite a while, not until employers feel confident the economy is really growing."

The dearth of jobs reflects the caution of many American businesses when no one knows what will emerge to propel the economy. With unemployment at 9.7 percent nationwide, the shortage of paychecks is both a cause and an effect of weak hiring.

In Milwaukee, Debbie Kransky has been without work since February, when she was laid off from a medical billing position - her second job loss in two years. She has exhausted her unemployment benefits, because her last job lasted for only a month.

Indeed, in a perverse quirk of the unemployment system, she would have qualified for continued benefits had she stayed jobless the whole two years, rather than taking a new position this year. But since her latest unemployment claim stemmed from a job that lasted mere weeks, she recently drew her final check of $340.

Ms. Kransky, 51, has run through her life savings of roughly $10,000. Her job search has garnered little besides anxiety.

"I've worked my entire life," said Ms. Kransky, who lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment. "I've got October rent. After that, I don't know. I've never lived month to month my entire life. I'm just so scared, I can't even put it into words."

Last week, Ms. Kransky was invited to an interview for a clerical job with a health insurance company. She drove her Jeep truck downtown and waited in the lobby of an office building for nearly an hour, but no one showed. Despondent, she drove home, down $10 in gasoline.

For years, the economy has been powered by consumers, who borrowed exuberantly against real estate and tapped burgeoning stock portfolios to spend in excess of their incomes. Those sources of easy money have mostly dried up. Consumption is now tempered by saving; optimism has been eclipsed by worry.

Meanwhile, some businesses are in a holding pattern as they await the financial consequences of the health care reforms being debated in Washington.

Even after companies regain an inclination to expand, they will probably not hire aggressively anytime soon. Experts say that so many businesses have pared back working hours for people on their payrolls, while eliminating temporary workers, that many can increase output simply by increasing the workload on existing employees.

"They have tons of room to increase work without hiring a single person," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute Economist. "For people who are out of work, we do not see signs of light at the end of the tunnel."

Even typically hard-charging companies are showing caution.

During the technology bubble of the late 1990s and again this decade, Cisco Systems - which makes Internet equipment - expanded rapidly. As the sense takes hold that the recession has passed, Cisco is again envisioning double-digit rates of sales growth, with plans to move aggressively into new markets, like the business of operating large scale computer data servers.

Yet even as Cisco pursues such designs, the company's chief executive, John T. Chambers, said in an interview Friday that he anticipated "slow hiring," given concerns about the vigor of growth ahead. "We'll be doing it selectively," he said.

Two recent surveys of newspaper help-wanted advertisements and of employers' inclinations to add workers were at their lowest levels on record, noted Andrew Tilton, a Goldman Sachs economist.

Job placement companies say their customers are not yet wiling to hire large numbers of temporary workers, usually a precursor to hiring full-timers.

"It's going to take quite some time before we see robust job growth," said Tig Gilliam, chief executive of Adecco North America, a major job placement and staffing company.

During the last recession, in 2001, the number of jobless people reached little more than double the number of full-time job openings, according to the Labor Department data. By the beginning of this year, job seekers outnumbered jobs four-to-one, with the ratio growing ever more lopsided in recent months.

Though layoffs have been both severe and prominent, the greatest source of distress is a predilection against hiring by many American businesses. From the beginning of the recession in December 2007 through July of this year, job openings declined 45 percent in the West and the South, 36 percent in the Midwest and 23 percent in the Northeast.

Shrinking job opportunities have assailed virtually every industry this year. Since the end of 2008, job openings have diminished 47 percent in manufacturing, 37 percent in construction and 22 percent in retail. Even in education and health services - faster-growing areas in which many unemployed people have trained for new careers - job openings have dropped 21 percent this year. Despite the passage of a stimulus spending package aimed at shoring up state and local coffers, government job openings have diminished 17 percent this year.

In the suburbs of Chicago, Vicki Redican, 52, has been unemployed for almost two years, since she lost her $75,000-a-year job as a sales and marketing manager at a plastics company. College-educated, Ms. Redican first sought another management job. More recently, she has tried and failed to land a cashier's position at a local grocery store, and a barista slot at a Starbucks coffee shop.

Substitute teaching assignments once helped her pay the bills. "Now, there are so many people substitute teaching that I can no longer get assignments," she said.

"I've learned that I can't look to tomorrow," she said. "Every day, I try to do the best I can. I say to myself, 'I don't control this process.' That's the only way you can look at it. Otherwise, you'd have to go up on the roof and crack your head open."


11) Cassandras of Climate
Op-Ed Columnist
September 28, 2009

Every once in a while I feel despair over the fate of the planet. If you've been following climate science, you know what I mean: the sense that we're hurtling toward catastrophe but nobody wants to hear about it or do anything to avert it.

And here's the thing: I'm not engaging in hyperbole. These days, dire warnings aren't the delusional raving of cranks. They're what come out of the most widely respected climate models, devised by the leading researchers. The prognosis for the planet has gotten much, much worse in just the last few years.

What's driving this new pessimism? Partly it's the fact that some predicted changes, like a decline in Arctic Sea ice, are happening much faster than expected. Partly it's growing evidence that feedback loops amplifying the effects of man-made greenhouse gas emissions are stronger than previously realized. For example, it has long been understood that global warming will cause the tundra to thaw, releasing carbon dioxide, which will cause even more warming, but new research shows far more carbon dioxide locked in the permafrost than previously thought, which means a much bigger feedback effect.

The result of all this is that climate scientists have, en masse, become Cassandras - gifted with the ability to prophesy future disasters, but cursed with the inability to get anyone to believe them.

And we're not just talking about disasters in the distant future, either. The really big rise in global temperature probably won't take place until the second half of this century, but there will be plenty of damage long before then.

For example, one 2007 paper in the journal Science is titled "Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern North America" - yes, "imminent" - and reports "a broad consensus among climate models" that a permanent drought, bringing Dust Bowl-type conditions, "will become the new climatology of the American Southwest within a time frame of years to decades."

So if you live in, say, Los Angeles, and liked those pictures of red skies and choking dust in Sydney, Australia, last week, no need to travel. They'll be coming your way in the not-too-distant future.

Now, at this point I have to make the obligatory disclaimer that no individual weather event can be attributed to global warming. The point, however, is that climate change will make events like that Australian dust storm much more common.

In a rational world, then, the looming climate disaster would be our dominant political and policy concern. But it manifestly isn't. Why not?

Part of the answer is that it's hard to keep peoples' attention focused. Weather fluctuates - New Yorkers may recall the heat wave that pushed the thermometer above 90 in April - and even at a global level, this is enough to cause substantial year-to-year wobbles in average temperature. As a result, any year with record heat is normally followed by a number of cooler years: According to Britain's Met Office, 1998 was the hottest year so far, although NASA - which arguably has better data - says it was 2005. And it's all too easy to reach the false conclusion that the danger is past.

But the larger reason we're ignoring climate change is that Al Gore was right: This truth is just too inconvenient. Responding to climate change with the vigor that the threat deserves would not, contrary to legend, be devastating for the economy as a whole. But it would shuffle the economic deck, hurting some powerful vested interests even as it created new economic opportunities. And the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now; the industries of the future don't.

Nor is it just a matter of vested interests. It's also a matter of vested ideas. For three decades the dominant political ideology in America has extolled private enterprise and denigrated government, but climate change is a problem that can only be addressed through government action. And rather than concede the limits of their philosophy, many on the right have chosen to deny that the problem exists.

So here we are, with the greatest challenge facing mankind on the back burner, at best, as a policy issue. I'm not, by the way, saying that the Obama administration was wrong to push health care first. It was necessary to show voters a tangible achievement before next November. But climate change legislation had better be next.

And as I pointed out in my last column, we can afford to do this. Even as climate modelers have been reaching consensus on the view that the threat is worse than we realized, economic modelers have been reaching consensus on the view that the costs of emission control are lower than many feared.

So the time for action is now. O.K., strictly speaking it's long past. But better late than never.


12) Honduras Shuts Down 2 News Outlets
September 29, 2009

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Masked police agents were perched from the windows of a television station early Monday, and soldiers formed a barricade around the headquarters of a radio station here after the de facto government shut them down indefinitely and restricted civil liberties in advance of an expected march in support of the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya.

The other government measures, announced late Sunday, prohibit unauthorized public meetings and allow the police to arrest anyone deemed to be a threat.

Mr. Zelaya's supporters were expected to march on Monday despite the order.

The two news outlets, Channel 36 and Radio Globo, had regularly broadcast calls from Mr. Zelaya. He is now holed up inside the Brazilian Embassy, where he took refuge a week ago after secretly slipping back into Honduras. A police spokesman, Orlin Cerrato, said that the two stations had "incited insurrection" and that the shutdown was indefinite.

The restrictions are to be in effect for 45 days, expiring just two weeks before Hondurans go to the polls to elect a new president. The elections were scheduled before the June 28 coup that removed Mr. Zelaya, and the de facto government holds that they will bring an end to the political crisis.

But the United States and other governments have suggested that they may not recognize the vote. The de facto government has threatened to shut down the Brazilian Embassy, giving Brazil a 10-day deadline to decide whether to grant Mr. Zelaya political asylum or hand him over for trial on charges that include treason and abuse of authority.

On Sunday, the de facto government expelled four diplomats from the Organization of American States, a move the secretary general of the O.A.S. called "incomprehensible."

The diplomats were members of an advance team planning a visit of foreign ministers from member countries to try to negotiate an end to the political crisis here. The organization had been invited by the de facto government to hold talks here, then disinvited, and invited again before being turned back at the airport on Sunday.

The organization's permanent council is meeting Monday morning to discuss the situation.

Carlos López Contreras, the foreign minister of the de facto government, said Sunday that the group had arrived before the government said it could. "They fell on us by surprise," he said.

A fifth member of the O.A.S. team, John Biehl of Chile, was allowed to stay, Mr. López said, because he was an important player in the Honduran crisis mediation in Costa Rica.

The government's actions on Sunday, ostensibly aimed at keeping its grip on power, seemed to highlight its increasing isolation as the interim president, Roberto Micheletti, appears to lurch between hard-line stances and offers to negotiate.

The Brazilian government brushed off the threat against its embassy.

"Brazil will not comply with an ultimatum from a government of coup-mongers," President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told reporters on Sunday at a meeting in Venezuela. He had previously said that Mr. Zelaya could remain in the embassy as long as was necessary.

The Micheletti government also seemed to be moving toward breaking relations with Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela. In a statement on Saturday, it said that ambassadors from those countries were not welcome back unless those countries recognized its representatives.

Mr. Zelaya has been living at the Brazilian Embassy with about 65 family members, supporters and journalists since he secretly returned to Honduras last Monday.

Mr. Micheletti has said that Honduran troops, which have cut off the area around the embassy, will not raid the compound.

Mr. Zelaya's stance has also been erratic. His cellphone calls, broadcast on sympathetic stations, swing between calls for peaceful protest and cries like, "Restitution or death!"


13) High Cost of Death Row
September 28, 2009

To the many excellent reasons to abolish the death penalty - it's immoral, does not deter murder and affects minorities disproportionately - we can add one more. It's an economic drain on governments with already badly depleted budgets.
It is far from a national trend, but some legislators have begun to have second thoughts about the high cost of death row. Others would do well to consider evidence gathered by the Death Penalty Information Center, a research organization that opposes capital punishment.

States waste millions of dollars on winning death penalty verdicts, which require an expensive second trial, new witnesses and long jury selections. Death rows require extra security and maintenance costs.

There is also a 15-to-20-year appeals process, but simply getting rid of it would be undemocratic and would increase the number of innocent people put to death. Besides, the majority of costs are in the pretrial and trial.

According to the organization, keeping inmates on death row in Florida costs taxpayers $51 million a year more than holding them for life without parole. North Carolina has put 43 people to death since 1976 at $2.16 million per execution. The eventual cost to taxpayers in Maryland for pursuing capital cases between 1978 and 1999 is estimated to be $186 million for five executions.

Perhaps the most extreme example is California, whose death row costs taxpayers $114 million a year beyond the cost of imprisoning convicts for life. The state has executed 13 people since 1976 for a total of about $250 million per execution. This is a state whose prisons are filled to bursting (unconstitutionally so, the courts say) and whose government has imposed doomsday-level cuts to social services, health care, schools and parks.

Money spent on death rows could be spent on police officers, courts, public defenders, legal service agencies and prison cells. Some lawmakers, heeding law-enforcement officials who have declared capital punishment a low priority, have introduced bills to abolish it.

A Republican state senator in Kansas, Carolyn McGinn, pointed out that her state, which restored the death penalty in 1994, had not executed anybody in more than 40 years. In February, she introduced a bill to replace capital punishment with life without parole. The bill gained considerable attention but stalled. Similar arguments were made, unsuccessfully, in states such as New Hampshire and Maryland. Colorado considered a bill to end capital punishment and spend the money saved on solving cold cases. But this year, only New Mexico went all the way, abolishing executions in March.

If lawmakers cannot find the moral courage to abolish the death penalty, perhaps the economic case will persuade them to follow the lead of New Mexico.


14) Smuggling Europe's Waste to Poorer Countries
September 27, 2009

ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands - When two inspectors swung open the doors of a battered red shipping container here, they confronted a graveyard of Europe's electronic waste - old wires, electricity meters, circuit boards - mixed with remnants of cardboard and plastic.

"This is supposed to be going to China, but it isn't going anywhere," said Arno Vink, an inspector from the Dutch environment ministry who impounded the container because of Europe's strict new laws that place restrictions on all types of waste exports, from dirty pipes to broken computers to household trash.

Exporting waste illegally to poor countries has become a vast and growing international business, as companies try to minimize the costs of new environmental laws, like those here, that tax waste or require that it be recycled or otherwise disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.

Rotterdam, the busiest port in Europe, has unwittingly become Europe's main external garbage chute, a gateway for trash bound for places like China, Indonesia, India and Africa. There, electronic waste and construction debris containing toxic chemicals are often dismantled by children at great cost to their health. Other garbage that is supposed to be recycled according to European law may be simply burned or left to rot, polluting air and water and releasing the heat-trapping gases linked to global warming.

While much of the international waste trade is legal, sent to qualified overseas recyclers, a big chunk is not. For a price, underground traders make Europe's waste disappear overseas.

After Europe first mandated recycling electronics like televisions and computers, two to three million tons of electronic waste was turned in last year, far less than the seven million tons anticipated. Much of the rest was probably exported illegally, according to the European Environment Agency.

Paper, plastic and metal trash exported from Europe rose tenfold from 1995 to 2007, the agency says, with 20 million containers of waste now shipped each year either legally or illegally. Half of that passes through this huge port, where trucks and ships exchange goods around the clock.

In the United States, more states are passing laws that require the recycling of goods, especially electronics. But because the United States places fewer restrictions on trash exports and monitors them far less than Europe, that increasing volume is flowing relatively freely overseas, mostly legally, experts say. Up to 100 containers of waste from the United States and Canada arrive each day, according to environmental groups and local authorities in Hong Kong.

"Now we are collecting far more, but they can't prevent it from going offshore. People talk about 'leakage,' but it's really a hemorrhage," said Jim Puckett, director of the Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based environmental nonprofit that tracks waste exported from the United States.

The temptation to export waste is great because recycling properly at home is expensive: Because of Europe's new environmental laws, it is four times as expensive to incinerate trash in the Netherlands as to put it - illegally - on a boat to China. And the vast container ships that arrive in Europe and North America from Asia filled with cheap garments and electrical goods now have a profitable return cargo: garbage like steel cables, circuit boards and leftovers from last night's pasta meal.

"The traffic in waste exports has become enormous," said Christian Fischer, chief consultant on waste to the European Environment Agency, which released its first study on the topic this year, "but we need much better information about it."

The Dutch have taken a lonely lead in inspecting waste exports and curbing the traffic, providing a rare window into the trade. They estimate that 16 percent of the exports are illegal. But in most ports where customs inspectors typically check imports far more thoroughly than exports, much probably passes through unnoticed.

In July, a shipment of 1,400 metric tons of British household garbage that was illegally sent to South America - labeled as clean plastic for recycling - was apprehended only after it landed in Brazil.

Rotterdam uses X-rays and computer analysis of shipping documents to pick out suspicious containers. But other countries need to do more, said Albert Klingenberg of the Dutch environment ministry, adding: "When they can't get it out in Rotterdam, they go to Antwerp or Hamburg."

The European Union's laws governing waste disposal require more recycling of paper and plastic each year, and generally prohibit dumping in landfills. Incineration is now heavily taxed in most European countries.

The regulations also prohibit exporting waste to poorer parts of the world unless the receiving country accepts that kind of waste and it is going to a certified recycler. The guidelines fully ban the export of certain hazardous materials and so-called "problematic" waste, defined as waste that is not amenable to recycling and so would be harmful to the environment at its destination, for example, waste that is soggy or mixed household garbage.

The European laws generally follow the guidelines of the 1992 Basel Convention, the treaty that regulates dangerous exports of waste, and a proposed 1998 amendment.

The United States, during the Bush administration, was one of the few countries that did not ratify the convention. And much of the trash trade banned by Europe is still legal in the United States, where laws focus on only the most hazardous waste.

That may change. A State Department official, who insisted on anonymity because the new administration had not formally reviewed its policy, said, "We'll be grappling with that in this administration."

Some types of waste exports are environmentally sound, experts say. If products and packaging used in Europe are manufactured in Asia it may make sense to ship them back for recycling. The waste trade - legal and illegal - is partly propelled by the fact that fast-growing economies like China's and India's need the raw material. From Rotterdam, paper, plastic and metals tend to be sent to China. Electronic waste tends to go to African countries, in particular Ghana, Egypt and Nigeria.

But companies in Africa and Asia are "highly variable" in their recycling capabilities, dependability and safety records, said Mr. Fischer, the consultant to the environment agency.

In Rotterdam, inspectors uncover endless ploys to subvert the system: Containers are packed with legal goods in front to hide illegal material. TVs and computers are labeled as secondhand goods, which can be legally shipped, even though they are destined for dismantling.

The inspections office here is filled with plastic bags containing evidence; grease-covered pipes, fluid from toner cartridges and a mix of paper and plastic scraps share space with more traditional trafficking fare like cocaine, weapons and fake Croc clogs.

Despite fines of up to $22,000, traffickers feel it is worth the risk to send trash abroad, although repeat violations can lead to criminal prosecution.

Last year, the Dutch returned 80 illegal shipments to their countries of origin, their usual policy. But that is not always possible.

In one case, inspectors seized an American container carrying old paint cans and other material to Nigeria. They could not send it back, because the United States is not a party to the Basel Convention. Anyway, the hazardous contents were leaking, and the Dutch were left to dispose of them properly.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the amount of electronic waste turned in last year in Europe. It was two to three million tons, not two to three tons. Seven million tons had been anticipated, not seven tons.


15) Robocops Come to Pittsburgh
and bring the latest weaponry with them
by Mike Ferner
September 28, 2009

No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies,
an arsenal of "crowd control munitions," including one
that reportedly made its debut in the U.S., was
deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence
in Pittsburgh during last week's G-20 protests.

Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups
charged the many thousands of police (most transported
on Port Authority buses displaying "PITTSBURGH WELCOMES
THE WORLD"), from as far away as Arizona and Florida
with overreacting and they had plenty of weaponry with
which to do it.

Bean bags fired from shotguns, CS (tear) gas, OC
(Oleoresin Capsicum) spray, flash-bang grenades, batons
and, according to local news reports, for the first
time on the streets of America, the Long Range Acoustic
Device (LRAD).

Mounted in the turret of an Armored Personnel Carrier
(APC), I saw the LRAD in action twice in the area of
25th, Penn and Liberty Streets of Lawrenceville, an old
Pittsburgh neighborhood. Blasting a shrill, piercing
noise like a high-pitched police siren on steroids, it
quickly swept streets and sidewalks of pedestrians,
merchants and journalists and drove residents into
their homes, but in neither case were any demonstrators
present. The APC, oversized and sinister for a city
street, together with lines of police in full riot gear
looking like darkly threatening Michelin Men, made for
a scene out of a movie you didn t want to be in.

As intimidating as this massive show of armed force and
technology was, the good burghers of Pittsburgh and
their fellow citizens in the Land of the Brave and Home
of the Free ain't seen nothin yet. Tear gas and
pepper spray are nothing to sniff at and, indeed, have
proven fatal a surprising number of times, but they
have now become the old standbys compared to the list
below that s already at or coming soon to a police
station or National Guard headquarters near you.
Proving that "what goes around, comes around," some of
the new Property Protection Devices were developed by a
network of federally-funded, university-based research
institutes like one in Pittsburgh itself, Penn State's
Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies.

· Raytheon Corp.'s Active Denial System, designed for
crowd control in combat zones, uses an energy beam to
induce an intolerable heating sensation, like a hot
iron placed on the skin. It is effective beyond the
range of small arms, in excess of 400 meters. Company
officials have been advised they could expand the
market by selling a smaller, tripod-mounted version for
police forces.

· M5 Modular Crowd Control Munition, with a range of
30 meters "is similar in operation to a claymore mine,
but it delivers...a strong, nonpenetrating blow to the
body with multiple sub-munitions (600 rubber balls)."

· Long Range Acoustic Device or "The Scream," is a
powerful megaphone the size of a satellite dish that
can emit sound "50 times greater than the human
threshold for pain" at close range, causing permanent
hearing damage. The L.A. Times wrote U.S. Marines in
Iraq used it in 2004. It can deliver recorded warnings
in Arabic and, on command, emit a piercing
tone..."[For] most people, even if they plug their
ears, [the device] will produce the equivalent of an
instant migraine," says Woody Norris, chairman of
American Technology Corp., the San Diego firm that
produces the weapon. "It will knock [some people] on
their knees." CBS News reported in 2005 that the
Israeli Army first used the device in the field to
break up a protest against Israel's separation wall.
"Protesters covered their ears and grabbed their heads,
overcome by dizziness and nausea, after the
vehicle-mounted device began sending out bursts of
audible, but not loud, sound at intervals of about 10
seconds...A military official said the device emits a
special frequency that targets the inner ear."

· In "Non-lethal Technologies: An Overview," Lewer
and Davison describe a lengthy catalog of new weaponry
including the "Directed Stick Radiator," a hand-held
system based on the same technology as The Scream. "It
fires high intensity sonic bullets' or pulses of sound
between 125-150db for a second or two. Such a weapon
could, when fully developed, have the capacity to knock
people off their feet."

· The Penn State facility is testing a "Distributed
Sound and Light Array Debilitator" a.k.a. the "puke
ray." The colors and rhythm of light are absorbed by
the retina and disorient the brain, blinding the victim
for several seconds. In conjunction with disturbing
sounds it can make the person stumble or feel
nauseated. Foreign Policy in Focus reports that the
Department of Homeland Security, with $1 million
invested for testing the device, hopes to see it "in
the hands of thousands of policemen, border agents and
National Guardsmen" by 2010.

· Spider silk is cited in the University of
Bradford's Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project, Report
#4 (pg. 20) as an up-and-comer. A research
collaboration between the University of New Hampshire
and the U.S. Army Natick Research, Development and
Engineering Center is looking into the use of spider
silk as a non-lethal "entanglement" material for
disabling people. They have developed a method for
producing recombinant spider silk protein using E. coli
and are trying to develop methods to produce large
quantities of these fibres."

· New Scientist reports that the (I'm not making this
up) Inertial Capacitive Incapacitator (ICI), developed
by the Physical Optics Corporation of Torrance,
California, uses a thin-film storage device charged
during manufacture that only discharges when it strikes
the target. It can be incorporated into a ring-shaped
aerofoil and fired from a standard grenade launcher at
low velocity, while still maintaining a flat trajectory
for maximum accuracy.

· Aiming beyond Tasers, the Homeland Security
Advanced Research Projects Agency, (FY 2009 budget:
$1B) the domestic equivalent of the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA), plans to develop
wireless weapons effective over greater distances, such
as in an auditorium or sports stadium, or on a city
street. One such device, the Piezer, uses
piezoelectric crystals that produce voltage when they
are compressed. A 12-gauge shotgun fires the crystals,
stunning the target with an electric shock on impact.
Lynntech of College Station, Texas, is developing a
projectile Taser that can be fired from a shotgun or
40-mm grenade launcher to increase greatly the weapon's
current range of seven meters.

· "Off the Rocker and On the Floor: Continued
Development of Biochemical Incapacitating Weapons," a
report by the Bradford Disarmament Research Centre
revealed that in 1992, the National Institute of
Justice contracted with Lawrence Livermore National Lab
to review clinical anesthetics for use by special ops
military forces and police. LLNL concluded the best
option was an opioid, like fentanyl, effective at very
low doses compared to morphine. Combined with a patch
soaked in DMSO (dimethylsufoxide, a solvent) and fired
from an air rifle, fentanyl could be delivered to the
skin even through light clothing. Another recommended
application for the drug was mixed with fine powder and
dispersed as smoke.

· After upgrades, the infamous "Puff the Magic
Dragon" gunship from the Vietnam War is now the AC-130.
"Non-Lethal Weaponry: Applications to AC-130 Gunships,"
observes that "With the increasing involvement of US
military in operations other than war..." the AC-130
"would provide commanders a full range of non-lethal
weaponry from an airborne platform which was not
previously available to them." The paper concludes in
part that "As the use of non-lethal weapons increases
and it becomes valid and acceptable, more options will
become available."

· Prozac and Zoloft are two of over 100
pharmaceuticals identified by the Penn State College of
Medicine and the university's Applied Research Lab for
further study as "non-lethal calmatives." These
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), noted
the Penn State study, "...are found to be highly
effective for numerous behavioral disturbances
encountered in situations where a deployment of a
non-lethal technique must be considered. This class of
pharmaceutical agents also continues to be under
intense development by the pharmaceutical
industry...New compounds under development (WO
09500194) are being designed with a faster onset of
action. Drug development is continuing at a rapid rate
in this area due to the large market for the treatment
of depression (15 million individuals in North
America)...It is likely that an SSRI agent can be
identified in the near future that will feature a rapid
rate of onset."

In Pittsburgh last week, an enormously expensive show
of police and weaponry, intended for "security" of the
G20 delegates, simultaneously shut workers out of
downtown jobs for two days, forced gasping students and
residents back into their dormitories and homes, and
turned journalists' press passes into quaint, obsolete
reminders of a bygone time.

Most significant of all, however, was what Witold
Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania ACLU, told
the Associated Press: "It's not just intimidation, it's
disruption and in some cases outright prevention of
peaceful protesters being able to get their message


Mike Ferner is a writer from Ohio and president of
Veterans For Peace


16) Army finally accepts Lt. Ehren Watada resignation
By Audry McAvoy, Associated Press
September 25, 2009

The Army is allowing the first commissioned officer to be court-martialed for refusing to go to Iraq to resign from the service, his attorney said late Friday. First Lt. Ehren Watada will be granted a discharge Oct. 2, "under other than honorable conditions," attorney Kenneth Kagan said. Watada told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin he was happy the matter has finally been closed. "The actual outcome is different from the outcome that I envisioned in the first place, but I am grateful of the outcome," he said.

Background: How Lt. Watada and GI resistance movement beat the Army
Commentary by Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. February 14, 2007

Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek wouldn't confirm Watada's type of discharge, citing privacy rules. But he said late Friday that Watada's manner of resignation is described in Army regulations as "resignation for the good of the service in lieu of general court martial."

Watada, 31, refused to deploy to Iraq with his Fort Lewis, Wash.-based unit in 2006, arguing the war is illegal and that he would be a party to war crimes if he served in Iraq.

The Honolulu-born soldier was charged with missing his unit's deployment and with conduct unbecoming an officer for denouncing President Bush and the war - statements he made while explaining his actions.

His court-martial ended in mistrial in February 2007.

The Army wanted to try him in a second court-martial, but a federal judge ruled such a trial would violate the soldier's constitutional protection against double jeopardy. The judge said a second court-martial would violate Watada's Fifth Amendment rights by trying him twice for the same charges.

Watada's attorney said the soldier had handed in his resignation before, but the Army refused to accept it.

"This time, however, it was accepted, apparently only when the Army realized it could not defeat Lt. Watada in a courtroom," Kagan said.

Watada's father, Bob Watada, welcomed the news.

"I'm happy, very happy for Ehren. I'm happy for our family," he said.

Watada has been lionized by anti-war activists for contending that the war is illegal. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to six years in prison and be dishonorably discharged.

Kagan said he felt history would treat Watada "more favorably" than the U.S. Army.

"It has been our distinct honor to have represented a hero and a patriot," Kagan said.


17) Immigration Crackdown With Firings, Not Raids
September 30, 2009

LOS ANGELES - A clothing maker with a vast garment factory in downtown Los Angeles is firing about 1,800 immigrant employees in the coming days - more than a quarter of its workforce - after a federal investigation turned up irregularities in the identity documents the workers presented when they were hired.

The firings at the company, American Apparel, have become a showcase for the Obama administration's effort to reduce illegal immigration by forcing employers to dismiss unauthorized workers rather than through workplace raids. The firings, however, have divided opinion in California over the fallout of the new approach, especially at a time of record joblessness in the state and with a major, well-regarded employer as a target.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, called the dismissals "devastating," and his office has insisted that the federal government should focus on employers that exploit their workers. American Apparel has been lauded by city officials and business leaders for paying well above the garment industry standard, offering health benefits and not long ago giving $18 million in stock to its workers.

But opponents of illegal immigration, including Representative Brian P. Bilbray, a Republican from San Diego who is chairman of a House caucus that opposes efforts to extend legal status to illegal immigrants, back the enforcement effort. They say American Apparel is typical of many companies that have "become addicted to illegal labor," in Mr. Bilbray's words.

"Of course it's a good idea," Mr. Bilbray said of the crackdown. "They seem to think that somehow the law doesn't matter, that crossing the line from legal to illegal is not a big deal."

In July, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, opened audits of employment records similar to the one at American Apparel at 654 companies around the country. John T. Morton, who, as assistant secretary of homeland security, runs ICE, said the audits covered all types of employers with immigrant workers, including many like American Apparel that were not shadowy sweatshops or serial labor code violators.

The investigation at American Apparel was started 17 months ago, under President George W. Bush. Obama administration officials point out that they have not followed the Bush pattern of concluding such investigations with a mass round-up of workers. Those raids drew criticism for damaging businesses and dividing immigrant families.

Immigration officials said they would now focus on employers, primarily wielding the threat of civil complaints and fines, instead of raids and worker deportation.

"Now all manner of companies face the very real possibility that the government, using our basic civil powers, is going to come knocking on the door," Mr. Morton said. The goal, he said, is to create "a truly national deterrent" to hiring unauthorized labor that would "change the practices of American employers as a class."

The employees being fired from American Apparel could not resolve discrepancies discovered by investigators in documents they presented at hiring and federal social security or immigration records - probably because the documents were fake. Peter Schey, a lawyer for American Apparel, said that ICE had cited deficiencies in its record keeping, but the authorities had not accused the company of knowingly hiring unauthorized workers. A fine threatened by the agency was withdrawn, Mr. Schey said.

After months of discussions with ICE officials, the company moved on its own to terminate the workers because, Mr. Schey said, federal guidelines for such cases are "in a shambles." The Bush administration proposed rules for employers to follow when workers' documents do not match, but a federal court halted the effort and the Obama administration decided to abandon it.

With its bright-pink, seven-story sewing plant in the center of Los Angeles, American Apparel is one of the biggest manufacturing employers in the city, and makes a selling point of the "Made in U.S.A." labels in its racy T-shirts and miniskirts. Dov Charney, the company's chief executive, has campaigned, in T-shirt logos and eye-catching advertisements, to "legalize L.A.," by granting legal status to illegal immigrants, a policy President Obama supports. [???????]

Since the audit began, Mr. Charney has treaded carefully, eager to show that his publicly traded company is obeying the law, and to reassure investors that the loss of so many workers will not damage the business, since production has slowed already with the recession.

But Mr. Charney is also questioning why the authorities made a target of his company. Over the summer he joined his workers in a street protest against the firings. Because the immigration investigation is still underway, Mr. Charney declined to be interviewed for this article but did respond in an e-mail message.

The firings "will not help the economy, will not make us safer," he said. "No matter how we choose to define or label them," he said, illegal immigrants "are hard-working, taxpaying workers."

On a recent visit to American Apparel's factory floors here, amid the whirring of sewing machines and the whooshing of cooling fans, a murmur of many languages rose: mostly Spanish, but also Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Portuguese. Masseurs were offering 20-minute massages for sewers in need of a break.

But there was also a mood of mourning, as work was interrupted with farewell parties. The majority of workers losing their jobs are women, most of whom are working to support families. Many departing workers have been with the company for a decade or more.

Executives said many workers had learned skills specific to a proprietary production system that allows American Apparel to make 250,000 garments a week in Los Angeles, while keeping prices competitive with imports from places like China.

Some workers who are leaving said the company had been a close-knit community for them. Jesús, 30, originally from Puebla, Mexico, said he was hired 10 years ago as a sewing machine operator, then worked and studied his way up to an office job as coordinating manager.

"I learned how to think here," said Jesús, who asked that his last name not be used because of his illegal status. The company provides health and life insurance, he said, and he currently earns about $900 a week, with taxes deducted from his paycheck.

Like many others, Jesús said his next move was to hunt for work in Los Angeles. He will not return to Mexico, he said, because he is gay and fears discrimination.

"There they treat you and judge you without even knowing you," Jesús said. But he said several job offers from mainstream garment makers had been withdrawn once he was asked for documents.

"Being realistic," he said, "I guess I'm going to have to go to one of those sweatshop companies where I'm going to get paid under the table."

ICE has made no arrests so far at the factory. But Mr. Morton of ICE said the agency would not rule out pursuing workers proven to be illegal immigrants.

Mr. Schey said company human resources managers had added new scrutiny to hiring procedures. But workers facing dismissal pointed to the line of job applicants outside the factory one recent day, who, like many of them, were almost all Spanish-speaking immigrants.

"I think the Americans think that garment sewing is demeaning work," said Francisco, 38, a Guatemalan with nine years at the plant who is being forced to leave.

A top supervisor, he is training new hires to replace him.


18) Signs of Life in Financial Reform
September 30, 2009

Financial regulatory reform, which seemed to be lagging one year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, has gotten a new boost of energy. Unfortunately, Americans still cannot be sure it will produce real reform.

On the plus side, Representative Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, recently issued proposed legislation for a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a step forward for one of the Obama administration's main reform initiatives.

In near daily hearings, the committee also has heard compelling proposals that would alter, and strengthen, the administration's overall reform plan. Last week, Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve who is now a White House economic adviser, suggested ways to reduce risk-taking by banks that are stricter than those recommended by the Treasury.

Separately, Senator Christopher Dodd, the chairman of the Senate banking committee, has also differed with the administration. He has proposed merging the four main bank regulators into one regulatory body. He also wants a lesser role for the Fed in a reformed system. (The administration, in contrast, has proposed to keep the current regulatory regime largely intact and to give the Fed enhanced power to oversee and, if necessary, restructure or close big banks and financial firms.)

Also last week, the Group of 20 world leaders pledged to develop international rules by the end of 2010 in such crucial areas as capital requirements for banks, the orderly resolution of troubled too-big-to-fail institutions and the regulation of derivatives.

But there are still signs that major differences could stall or derail the reform effort.

To get preliminary agreement on a new consumer protection agency, for instance, Mr. Frank had to drop a provision that would have allowed the agency to require banks and other financial firms to offer so-called plain-vanilla products, like 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages, in addition to whatever more complex loans they offer.

The agency, as currently envisioned, would still be robust. It has the ability to create incentives that would encourage the provision of plain-vanilla products, for example, by charging reduced oversight fees to firms that offer simpler loans. In the proposed legislation, the agency also has broad power to stop products and practices that are unfair, deceptive or abusive.

But the change, which the White House readily accepted, is disturbing because it is an early sop to banks whose ultimate aim is to block the creation of a consumer protection agency, or, failing that, to ensure that it would have no real power. Early concessions in the House mean that it will be up to the Senate to retain the other safeguards in the proposal. Unfortunately, the White House's willingness to fight for a strong agency and Democrats' ability to deliver are both in doubt.

Similarly, neither the White House nor Congress seems interested now in limiting the riskiest activities of commercial banks, as Mr. Volcker suggested. Rather, the emphasis is on more oversight of too-big-to-fail institutions and creating new legal tools to take control of them if they are in imminent danger of collapse.

The big banks, which have only gotten bigger and more powerful since the financial crisis, prefer that approach. But it may not provide the best protection to taxpayers who are in harm's way from banks that engage in high-risk capital market activities, such as equity and derivatives trading. The administration and its Congressional supporters have yet to make a strong case that the system can be made substantially safer with behemoth banks. Lawmakers need to consider alternatives.

The administration and Congress deserve credit for renewing momentum toward new rules and regulations for the financial industry. The real test is whether they will channel that momentum in ways that assert the interest of the public above the interests of the banks.


19) Abortion and Health Care Reform
October 1, 2009

Critics of pending health care reforms claim they want to ensure that the government does not thrust itself between patients and doctors to dictate what medical procedures can be performed. Yet many are trying to do just that when it comes to one legal and medically valid service: abortion.

Republicans and anti-abortion Democrats in both houses of Congress are seeking to prohibit millions of Americans - those who might receive tax subsidies to help them buy insurance - from purchasing plans that would cover an abortion.

In a rational system of medical care, there would be virtually no restrictions on financing abortions. But abortion is not a rational issue, and opponents have succeeded in broadly denying the use of federal dollars to pay for them, except in the case of pregnancies that result from rape or incest or that endanger a woman's life.

These restrictions, which constitute an improper government intrusion into Americans' private lives, apply to the joint federal-state Medicaid program, the health insurance exchange that covers federal government employees, and health programs for military personnel, American Indians and women in prison, among others. This approach disproportionately harms poor women, who often can't scrape together enough money for the procedure until delay has made abortions more costly and more risky.

Now abortion opponents want to apply similar restrictions to low- and middle-income Americans who would receive federal subsidies to buy coverage on the new insurance exchanges that would be created by pending health care reform bills. (These exchanges would offer an array of policies for individuals who buy their own insurance or work for small companies.)

In an effort to defuse the issue and allow health care reform to proceed, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, have backed a proposal that follows the spirit of the federal restrictions while allowing some leeway for people to choose plans that cover abortion on the exchanges.

This proposal would prohibit the use of federal tax subsidies to pay for almost all abortions. Health plans could provide abortion coverage provided they used only the premium money and co-payments contributed by beneficiaries and kept that money segregated from the subsidy. In every state, there would have to be at least one plan that covers abortions and one that does not.

This compromise is still far more restrictive than the rules for other tax-subsidy programs. The subsidy for employees' contributions to their health coverage at work, for example, can be used to buy insurance that covers abortion. Roughly half of the employer-provided policies cover the procedure. Nor are there any restrictions on paying for abortions with the tax-favored health savings accounts so beloved by conservatives.

Nevertheless, conservative critics of pending reform bills want to prohibit the use of tax subsidies to buy any health insurance policy that covers abortion. Some want to require women to buy an extra insurance "rider" if they want abortion coverage, an unworkable approach given that almost no one expects to need an abortion, few women would buy the rider and, therefore, few insurance companies would even offer it.

There should be no restrictions on abortion coverage in the exchanges. Health care reformers should not retreat on this issue, but we recognize that principle is often sacrificed in Congressional bargaining. Democrats who support the compromise must find a way to prevent it from being used later to go after other tax subsidies and thus further deny Americans' rights to make their own health-care decisions.


20) Airstrike Kills Eight in Afghanistan
October 2, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan tribal elders said eight people were killed in an airstrike in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, at least five of them civilians.

An American military spokeswoman, Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, confirmed the airstrike, in the Nad Ali district of the troubled province of Helmand, but declined to estimate the number of casualties before a review of the area.

The strike killed a farmer and his family in the village of Khushal, according to Haji Talib, a district council member from the area. Three of the family's guests were also killed, he said, but he did not know their identities.

According to Captain Mathias, coalition forces came under fire Wednesday afternoon and, after a lengthy firefight, called in an airstrike on the building the insurgents were firing from.

"We later received reports that there had been civilians present," she said. Western forces were meeting with tribal elders on Thursday to review what happened.

The United States has relied on air power to reinforce what commanders describe as too few forces on the ground in the deteriorating war in Afghanistan. But it has led to higher numbers of civilian deaths, a result that the American commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, has said must be reversed in order to make progress.

Taliban fighters have a strong presence in the Nad Ali district and frequently attack coalition forces there. A statement from the coalition forces said the airstrike consisted of a "single precision-guided bomb on insurgents' position in the compound."

The chief of the district council, Abdul Ahad Helmandwal, disputed that account, saying the firefight happened after the airstrike, and said four others had been present in what he said was a house.

"We don't know the reason why it was bombed," he said.

Haji Barakzai, the chief tribal elder of the district, said that many people had fled the area to escape the fighting. He identified the slain farmer as Kot Aka and said his son, wife, daughter and daughter-in-law were also killed.

Dawoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor there, said the airstrike was called in after insurgents attacked coalition forces. He said the bomb was dropped on a "civilian house," but declined to give the number of dead.

Taimoor Shah reported from Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Sabrina Tavernise from Kabul.


21) International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-Labor
Statement of Solidarity with the Palestinian General Strike
October 1, 2009

In the long tradition of Jewish working class involvement in and support for liberation struggles, IJAN-Labor stands in solidarity with the High Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens of Israel, the National Committee of Local Authorities, and all parties, movements and institutions of Palestinian civil society in Israel, who have called a general strike for today, October 1, 2009.

This strike marks the ninth anniversary of the Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Day in October 2000 when Israeli authorities massacred 13 Palestinian protesters. The killers have never been brought to justice.

IJAN-Labor also welcomes the Trades Union Congress (U.K.) resolution of 17 September, which endorses the growing movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid, and calls for reconsideration of the TUC's relationship with the Histadrut, the Zionist labor federation whose latest crime was to support Israel's attacks on Gaza.

The BDS campaign has been endorsed by a growing number of labor bodies, including the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Solidaires Industrie (France), UNISON (UK), Transport and General Workers' Union (UK), Western Australia Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees-Ontario, six Norwegian trade unions, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Scottish Trades Union Congress, and Intersindical Alternativa de Catalunya.

In the United States, despite growing support from labor organizations and populations across the globe, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win fail to recognize what their British counterpart has now acknowledged: that Israel is a state built on defeating the aspirations and solidarity of working families not only in Israel but internationally.

Often without the knowledge or consent of union members, US Labor officialdom remains a leading accomplice of Israeli apartheid and the Zionist colonialism of which it is part. For more than sixty years, it has closely collaborated with the Histadrut, which has spearheaded - and whitewashed - apartheid, dispossession, ethnic cleansing and exploitation of the Palestinians since the 1920s.

Indeed, the Histadrut (as both employer and union) provided lethal weapons which the South African apartheid government used against Black workers, while at home it either excluded or segregated Arab workers.

Today, in solidarity with the general strike of Palestinian workers in Israel and growing international labor support for BDS, we call on US labor organizations to divest their estimated $5 billion investment in State of Israel Bonds, and to end all relations with the Histadrut.

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