Saturday, December 12, 2009



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:





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

Fourth Annual Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Summit

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



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

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


Dear supporters,

The news just broke that the U.S. Supreme Court denied Kevin Cooper's appeal. Below is an LA Times story.

This is very bad news. But it is important that we do not give up hope - we need to continue the fight! California won't be able to set an execution date at the present time because of the ongoing lethal injection legal challenges in the state. This means we need to use this window to educate people about Kevin's case, expose the racism and
injustice, and grow our movement for real justice for Kevin Cooper - to free Kevin Cooper.

We will be sending out more updates and stories soon, and plans for how you can help. In the meantime, feel free to call or e-mail with any questions or ideas.

Crystal Bybee
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Kevin Cooper Defense Committee

Supreme Court rejects appeal from California death row inmate convicted of killing 4
By Associated Press
November 30, 2009,0,6189324.story

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a California death row inmate who was convicted in the gruesome murders of four people in 1983.

The justices said Monday they would not review an appeals court ruling that upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of Kevin Cooper.

Cooper came within a few hours of execution in 2004 before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stepped in to order genetic testing on a hair and a bloody shirt found at the murder scene that Cooper said would prove he was not the killer.

The San Francisco-based appeals court later backed a district judge's ruling that the test results did not show Cooper's innocence.

Cooper, who has long maintained his innocence, had escaped from a California state prison. He was convicted of the murders of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, both 41, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and Christopher Hughes, her friend. They were stabbed and hacked repeatedly with a hatchet and buck knife. Joshua Ryen, then 8, survived a slit throat.

Cooper claimed a trio of murderers committed the attacks and said the DNA tests would exonerate him.

Prosecutors persuaded a jury of Cooper's guilt, but the investigation was plagued with problems.

Judge M. Margaret McKeown agreed with the outcome in the 9th Circuit, but noted that important evidence in Cooper's case was "lost, destroyed or left unpursued." That included blood-covered overalls that a detective threw away and a missing bloody T-shirt.

"The forensic evidence in this case is critical and yet was compromised," she wrote. "These facts are all the more troubling because Cooper's life is at stake."

McKeown also said the criminologist in charge of the evidence turned out to be a heroin addict who was later fired for stealing drugs seized by the police.

"The result is wholly discomforting," she wrote. "But one that the law demands."

The case is Cooper v. Wong, 09-363.


Kevin Cooper's Attorneys Will Continue Fight To Stop Execution Of Innocent Man
Contacts: Norman Hile (916) 329-7900
John Pitts 202-339-8605
Contacts: Norman Hile (916) 329-7900
John Pitts 202-339-8605

To learn more about Kevin Cooper's case, including the unprecedented 103-page dissent
by five federal judges, go to:

After U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Consider Appeal, Additional Witnesses With
Information To Save Cooper's Life Should Come Forward

Attorneys Urge U.S. Attorney General Holder To Investigate Civil Rights Violations
Washington, D.C. -- Kevin Cooper's attorneys said today they would continue to
fight to prevent his execution, notwithstanding the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to
consider Cooper's appeal.

"Evidence that we discovered after trial shows that Kevin is innocent of the crime
for which he is now sentenced to die. We urge any and all witnesses with information
about Kevin's case to come forward," said Norman Hile, Cooper's lead attorney and a
partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. "Time is running out. Many witnesses
have come forward with helpful evidence, but we now need more. Anyone with
information about this case should examine their conscience and ask whether they are
willing to let their silence contribute to the execution of a man for crimes he did not

Cooper's case was on appeal from a U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals threejudge
panel decision denying his habeas corpus petition. At least eleven judges on the
Ninth Circuit voted in favor of giving Mr. Cooper a further hearing on his claims of
innocence and evidence-tampering, noting that "a full and fair evidentiary hearing
would have given us confidence that Cooper received his due opportunity to prove the
innocence he has insisted upon since his arrest." An unprecedented 103-page dissent
signed by five of those judges warned that "the State of California may be about to
execute an innocent man."

Cooper's habeas petition was based on new evidence that his attorneys and
investigators discovered while working at the Northern California Innocence Project's
request. In the 103-page dissent pleading for a fair hearing for Mr. Cooper, the appellate judges identified multiple instances of police and prosecutorial misconduct, including:

--False testimony- Josh Ryen, the only eyewitness to the murders and the
victims' 8-year old son, initially told the police that three white men killed
his family. According to the dissent, after the police arrested Cooper, who
is black, "[d]eputies misrepresented [Josh's] recollections and gradually
shaped his testimony so that it was consistent with the prosecution's
theory that there was only one killer."

--Destruction of evidence and lying at trial- A witness told the police that
her boyfriend, a white supremacist gang member and convicted murderer,
came to her house covered in blood on the night of the murders. She
turned a pair of his blood-spattered coveralls over to the sheriff as
evidence. The sheriff discarded the coveralls without testing the blood
stains and did not tell Cooper's defense lawyer about this evidence until
the middle of his preliminary hearing. This witness is now dead and
unable to testify to Cooper's innocence. At trial, the sheriff's deputy who
discarded the coveralls testified he did so without sheriff-department
approval, testimony that has recently been shown to be a lie. As the five
federal judges wrote, "a responsible officer . . . deliberately destroyed
material evidence that should have been provided to Cooper."

--Undisclosed exculpatory evidence: The prosecution retrieved a blue
shirt with blood on it near the crime scene a few days after the crimes but
never disclosed this to Cooper's defense. "The prosecution committed a .
. . violation by not making the blue shirt available to Cooper's attorneys."
What's worse, "the prosecution committed a . . . violation in not turning
over a copy of the [sheriff's] daily logs that recorded the discovery of the
blue shirt."

--Planting false evidence- Prosecution lab tests of a second bloody shirt
showed "an extremely high level of EDTA in the sample that was
supposed to contain Cooper's blood." According to five federal judges,
"[i]f that test result was valid, it showed that Cooper's blood had been
planted on the t-shirt, just as Cooper maintained."

--Falsified lab reports- A drop of blood was taken from the crime scene,
labeled "A-41," and tested by police criminologist Daniel Gregonis.
According to five federal judges, "[w]hen the results of Gregonis's tests
on A-41 were initially inconsistent with . . . a known sample of Cooper's
blood, Gregonis altered his lab notes and claimed that he had
misrepresented his results."

--Presenting false evidence- Trying to tie Cooper to the crime scene,
prosecutors presented evidence that has now been shown to be false: that
only prison-issue shoes could have made footprints at the crime scene. As
five federal judges found, these shoes "were, contrary to testimony at trial,
available (though not in large quantities) at retail stores in the United

Despite these constitutional violations which have prevented Cooper from ever
receiving a fair hearing, Cooper now faces execution. Hile called on U.S. Attorney
General Eric Holder to investigate Cooper's case and the local prosecutorial and police
misconduct. "Multiple witnesses have provided testimony suggesting that the police
planted evidence against Kevin Cooper and destroyed evidence that demonstrated his
innocence, and that local prosecutors violated Kevin Cooper's Constitutional rights," Mr. Hile said. "We need a federal investigation to get to the bottom of this and stop the killing of an innocent man."


The People Speak
Premiering Sunday December 13, 8:00 P.M. -- the History Channel
DEMOCRACY IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT\Democracy is not a spectator sport. Using dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries and speeches of everyday Americans, THE PEOPLE SPEAK gives voice to those who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history, forging a nation from the bottom up with their insistence on equality and justice. Narrated by Howard Zinn and based on his best-selling books, A People's History of the United States and Voices of a People's History, THE PEOPLE SPEAK illustrates the relevance of these passionate historical moments to our society today and reminds us never to take liberty for granted.


4-Star Theatre
2200 Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 666-3488
Showtimes: 12:25 2:25 4:25 6:25 8:25

Democracy Now Interview with Filmmaker Philippe Diaz
The film opens in San Francisco on December 4 at the 4-Star Theatre on Clement Street.
Watch the Trailer:

Also in coming to theatres in Los Angeles , Irvine , Seattle , Portland , Austin and Atlanta with more cities to follow - for details, visit
Read reviews:
Louis Proyect's:
Andrew Schenker @ Village Voice:
Andrew O' Hehir@
Find us on:
Facebook -
Twitter -
Social Network -
Join our mailing list: http:/Re/
Please help us spread the word about this important and powerful film. We are a small, independent distribution company dedicated to social issue films.
Thank you,
The Cinema Libre Studio team


Fw: Gaza Freedom March - San Francisco...join in!
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Nancy Mancias
To: Nancy Mancias
Sent: Fri, December 11, 2009 6:57:09 PM

Please circulate!

Hey everyone,
Please come out on December 31st to the Golden Gate Bridge at 12noon to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza and the thousands of compassionate international activists who will travel to Cairo to march against siege in Gaza.

Organizers with the Bay Area Network for a Free Palestine, CODEPINK and others have been organizing a solidarity march across the Golden Gate Bridge. We hope you can join us!

You know the drill if you've participated in any of CODEPINK's Sunday bridge peace walks.

We are expecting company!

Israel backers set S.F. counterprotests

Follow j. on and
StandWithUs/S.F. Voice for Israel has planned three counterprotests in support of Israel in December. All three events are in San Francisco.

The first will take place Tuesday, Dec. 15, when the Israel supporters will stand in front of the San Francisco Hilton Hotel, site of an AIPAC membership dinner. Pro-Palestinian protesters often stand outside the annual dinner and in the past have harassed attendees entering the hotel, according to S.F. Voice for Israel.

Voice for Israel will demonstrate its support in front of the Union Square hotel from 4 to 6 p.m. The AIPAC event begins at 5 p.m.

The second counterdemonstration is scheduled for 5 p.m. Dec. 27 at Union Square to show support for Israel during a candlelight memorial service for the men, women and children killed in Gaza.

The third counterprotest will take place during a Dec. 31 "Walk for Gaza" across the Golden Gate Bridge. The walk, from 12 to 2 p.m., is connected to the Gaza Freedom March taking place the same day in Egypt, calling for Gaza residents' right to access food, medicine, rebuilding materials and clean water.

For more information, check or e-mail

Support the Gaza Freedom March

December 27th: Candlelight Memorial at Union Square, San Francisco
Gather from 4-6pm to commerate the beginning of Israel's brutal 22 day attack on Gaza a year ago. An Interfaith service will be held. People of all backgrounds and faiths are invited to join in remembering the thousands of men, women and children who were killed and permanently disabled during the assault on Gaza.

December 31st: March across the Golden Gate Bridge to support the Gaza Freedom March from Egypt into Gaza, scheduled for the same day. The Gaza Freedom March will have over 1000 people from 40+ countries (hopefully) crossing into Gaza to lift the brutal siege, and to bring preasure on the US and other governments who continue to support Israel in depriving the citizens of Gaza adequate food, medicine, rebuilding materials, and clean water. Meet at 12pm, on the south end parking lot of the Golden Gate Bridge. (No large signs, no flags = bridge rules.)

Nancy L. Mancias
CODEPINK Women for Peace
PINKTank ::
Facebook ::
Twitter :: nancymancias


SATURDAY, JANUARY 9, 2010, 2:00 P.M.
(Between 16th and 15th Streets, SF)

The first meeting was held Wednesday, December 9 at 7:00 P.M. It was a broad, democratically run meeting with over 40 people in attendance from many different groups and organizations as well as individuals.

There was an atmosphere of renewed energy and resolve to build as large a demonstration as possible to mark the seventh year of "Shock and Awe" against the people of Iraq. It was especially poignant on the eve of Obama's Orwellian "war is for peace" Nobel speech.

We are encouraging all groups, organizations and individuals to join with us to demand an immediate end of these wars and to demand that the trillions spent on war be used for jobs, housing, healthcare, education for all!

Obama, in his Nobel remarks, points out his intentions to escalate his "wars for peace" wherever the U.S. empire desires to go.

As many pointed out at the first coalition meeting on Wednesday night, the financial, physical and emotional burden for these wars falls on working people across the globe in the broadest war plan ever devised by any empire!

The honeymoon is over! These are Obama's wars and we must organize massively against them.

Please plan on attending the next March 20, 2010 coalition meeting so we can organize broad outreach in our communities and make March 20, 2010 a powerful statement of opposition to the wars and for a world of equality, peace and justice for all.

For more information call: 415-821-6545

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein,



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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to become an endorser:

Click here to make a donation:

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

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

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

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

Killing and dying to avoid the perception of defeat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The US Social Forum II
• June 22-26, 2010 •
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Another World Is Possible! Another US is Necessary!




----- Forwarded Message ----
From: MOOS-Bay
To: Counter Recruitment Events
Sent: Mon, December 7, 2009 2:58:53 PM
Subject: [events] Youth Mini Grants, Online Petition, Discount CR Brochures

CR Brochures Available for Cut Rates!
Full Picture recently purchased a large quantity of the brochure, "What Every Girl Should Know About the U.S. Military," which was produced jointly by the War Resisters League and the Women of Color Resource Center. A copy of the brochure can be seen online at

Our network of counter-recruiting organizations and activists will probably not be able to distribute all of them in the near future. We'd like to see them get out to the youth who need them, and -- if necessary -- are willing to sell them at "a loss" to other counter-recruiters who'll be able to reach youth that we cannot. We paid 11.6 cents each, including shipping, which is significantly less than what you'd pay when buying small quantities. If you can make use of some, let us know how many and how much, if anything, you're able to pay. Please remember that we'll have to incur additional costs to ship them to you unless you're able to pick them up at the AFSC office in San Francisco, where we have them stored.
Kevin Casey, Full Picture Core Group, (510) 289-2621

Support Oakland Youth: Online Petition--Pass the Word!
The BAY-Peace Youth Manifesto is on it's home stretch to win stronger policies to protect Oakland high school students against aggressive military recruiting. Please help us reach our goal of 2000 signatures to deliver to the Oakland School Board. Sign the Youth Manifesto today and forward this link to your contacts to sign our online petition:

Mini-Grants for High School Counter Recruitment Projects
If you are part of a high school student group that would like to do a counter recruitment project, you can apply for a grant of up to $500 to help you get your message out about non-military alternatives for youth, aggressive military recruiting in our schools and resisting war.

Bay Area high school students are encouraged to apply. The deadline is the last day of each month, and the funds will be distributed quickly to qualified applicants, so don't wait to apply! For info contact:


Lynne Stewart Update and Letter from Lynne from behind bars

On Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 a status conference was held before Judge Koeltl to discuss the procedures concerning Lynne's re-sentencing.

The conference was held in a larger courtroom to accommodate all the people who came to support Lynne. Lynne was represented by Elizabeth Fink, Joshua Dratel and Jill Shellow. Although the "Mandate" (formal Order) hasn't issued yet from the 2nd Circuit, the question raised by the Judge was whether the resentencing should be de novo (which means that the Judge would throw out all the reasoning that went in to his previous sentence and start from scratch) or simply a clarification and update of the sentencing he already gave Lynne of 28 months.

The Judge outlined a schedule; the update of the Presentence Report by the U.S. Probation Dept. is due on February 5, 2010, any objections to that report are to be submitted by February 19, 2009 and the defense and government submission addressing the resentencing of Lynne by March 12th. Replies by March 29th. The formal sentencing is now set for April 22 at 4:30 p.m.

This is a time for the Lynne Stewart Defense committee to be alarmed and very concerned for Lynne. Lynne is a 70 year old woman and any additional significant time could mean that she could die in prison. No harm was caused to anyone by her actions. Lynne's life work as cited by the Judge in his previous sentencing stand as a testimony to her good intentions. Notwithstanding the verdict, Lynne Stewart had absolutely no terroristic intentions or political harmony with her client Sheik Rahman.

The judge said that if there are any letters regarding this new sentencing they will only be considered if they submitted by counsel. We know that people are anxious to do something for Lynne and this is one thing you can do and you have the time to write a thoughtful letter that we believe the Judge will read and take into consideration. For now you can send your letters to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, 350 Broadway, Suite 700, New York, NY 10013. Address the letter to: Honorable John G. Koeltl, United States District Judge, Southern District of New York, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007 - BUT MAIL TO LSDC not directly to the Judge. We will accumulate the letters for the attorneys who will then submit them to the Judge.

The issue of Lynne's health has been on all our minds. This is the situation to date: She has been receiving her medication. Her blood pressure has been extremely high. Initially the medical department of MCC/NY had suggested cutting Lynne's prescription for high blood pressure medicine in half but since Lynne's blood pressures was so high it is being monitored very closely. The main issue for Lynne right now is that surgery for a bladder problem had already scheduled before the 2nd Circuit decision and her consequent incarceration. Now it appears that she will undergo surgery for this condition which is not life threatening but increasingly uncomfortable for Lynne in the near future at a metropolitan New York hospital.

In the near future we will be working with others to plan a public event, and working in cooperation with others to fight for Lynne Stewart's sentence to remain 28 months. I will be sending out further notices of events and updates on Lynne's situation as news becomes available. Meanwhile you can write to Lynne Stewart, Reg. # 53504-054, MCC/NY, 150 Park Row, New York, NY 10007. Do not send stamps, this mail will be treated as contraband and discarded by the prison. Do not send anything that needs to be signed for. Lynne has been given a subscription to the New York Times and the New Yorker. If you would like to subscribe Lynne to a publication please drop us a line first (email ) just to make sure that you are not duplicating someone else's contribution.

Photos are okay, cards postcards and letters. All mail is opened and read. Commissary can be sent to Lynne via Western Union using the registration number and address either via the internet or at a Western Union location. Thank you for your support for Lynne it means the world to her.

Pat Levasseur, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee


Letter from Lynne Stewart

Dear Sisters and Brothers, Friends and Supporters:

Well the moment we all hoped would never come is upon us. Good bye to a good cup of coffee in the morning, a soft chair, the hugs of grandchildren and the smaller pleasures in life. I must say I am being treated well and that is due to my lawyer team and your overwhelming support.

While I have received "celebrity" treatment here in MCC - high visibility - conditions for the other women are deplorable. Medical care, food, education, recreation are all at minimal levels. If it weren't for the unqualified bonds of sisterhood and the commissary it would be even more dismal.

My fellow prisoners have supplied me with books and crosswords, a warm (it is cold in here most of the time) sweat shirt and pants, treats from the commissary, and of course, jailhouse humor. Most important many of them know of my work and have a deep reservoir of can I say it? Respect.

I continue to both answer the questions put to me by them, I also can't resist commenting on the T.V. news or what is happening on the floor - a little LS politics always! (Smile) to open hearts and minds!

Liz Fink, my lawyer leader, believes I will be here at MCC-NY for a while - perhaps a year before being moved to prison. Being is jail is like suddenly inhabiting a parallel universe but at least I have the luxury of time to read! Tomorrow I will get my commissary order which may include an AM/FM Radio and be restored to WBAI and music (classical and jazz).

We are campaigning to get the bladder operation (scheduled before I came in to MCC) to happen here in New York City. Please be alert to the website I case I need some outside support.

I want to say that the show of support outside the Courthouse on Thursday as I was "transported" is so cherished by me. The broad organizational representation was breathtaking and the love and politics expressed (the anger too) will keep me nourished through this.

Organize - Agitate, Agitate, Agitate! And write to me and others locked down by the Evil Empire.

Love Struggle, Lynne Stewart


Lynne Stewart in Jail!

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



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

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

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


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

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

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


With a New Smile, 'Rage' Fades Away [SINGLE PAYER NOW!!!]

FTA [F**k The Army] Trailer

Jon Stewart: Obama Is Channeling Bush (VIDEO)

US anti-war activists protest

Buffy Sainte Marie - No No Keshagesh
[Keshagesh is the Cree word to describe a greedy puppy that wants to keep eating everything, a metaphor for corporate greed]
Buffy Sainte-Marie - No No Keshagesh lyrics:


The Tar Sands Blow
Hi -
I just signed the Tar Sands Blow petition -- and I hope you'll do the same.
The Canadian tar sands produce the dirtiest oil on earth -- including five times the greenhouse gases of conventional oil. World leaders meet next month in Copenhagen to deal with climate change. Sign the petition -- so that we all don't get a raw deal.

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

The Communist Manifesto illustrated by Cartoons


Holiday gifts from Courage to Resist

Free and fast 2-3 day priority shipping!*
Please place your order this week to ensure holiday delivery.

Support mom still facing Afghanistan deployment, court martial
By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. November 16, 2009

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

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


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


Courage to Resist Urgent Action Alert

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

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

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

Donate to Alexis' legal and family support fund (

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

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


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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein
Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

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



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

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

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

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


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!
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's Nobel Remarks
[You got to have war if you want peace! Silly! You got to read it to believe it!]
December 11, 2009

2) New U.S. Jobless Claims Rise, Trade Gap Narrows
December 10, 2009

3) Judge Finds Pentagon in Contempt in Gitmo Case
December 10, 2009

4) Poll Finds Slim Majority Back More Afghanistan Troops
December 10, 2009

5) Petraeus Warns of a Long and Expensive Mission in Afghanistan
December 10, 2009

6) Iraq Accepts Bids for 2 More Oil Fields
December 12, 2009

7) Illegal Immigrant Students Publicly Take Up a Cause
December 11, 2009

8) 26 Students Arrested in Protest Over Tuition Increases
December 11, 2009

9) New Incidents Test Immunity to Terrorism on U.S. Soil
News Analysis
[New York Times begins new terror campaign against U.S.]
December 12, 2009

10) Protesters Gather to Urge Action on Climate Change
December 13, 2009

11) Catch-2009
Op-Ed Contributor
December 12, 2009

12) Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics
December 12, 2009

13) Poland: Pact on U.S. Troops Signed
World Briefing | Europe
December 12, 2009

14) Immigration Officials Arrest 300 in California
December 12, 2009

15) California: More Arrests in University Protest
National Briefing | West
December 12, 2009


1) Obama's Nobel Remarks
[You got to have war if you want peace! Silly!]
December 11, 2009

Following is the transcript of President Obama's speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday, as released by the White House:

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations -- that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. (Laughter.) In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who've received this prize -- Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela -- my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women -- some known, some obscure to all but those they help -- to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by 42 other countries -- including Norway -- in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

Still, we are at war, and I'm responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill, and some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the costs of armed conflict -- filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.

Now these questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease -- the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.

And over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers and clerics and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a "just war" emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of "just war" was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations -- total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of 30 years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it's hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another world war. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations -- an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this prize -- America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons.

In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty and self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

And yet, a decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states -- all these things have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations -- acting individually or in concert -- will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak -- nothing passive -- nothing naïve -- in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism -- it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world's sole military superpower.

But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions -- not just treaties and declarations -- that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest -- because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another -- that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths -- that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus," he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions." A gradual evolution of human institutions.

What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?

To begin with, I believe that all nations -- strong and weak alike -- must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I -- like any head of state -- reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don't.

The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait -- a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

Furthermore, America -- in fact, no nation -- can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don't, our actions appear arbitrary and undercut the legitimacy of future interventions, no matter how justified.

And this becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self-defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That's why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

America's commitment to global security will never waver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. America alone cannot secure the peace. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries, and other friends and allies, demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they've shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular, but I also know this: The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That's why NATO continues to be indispensable. That's why we must strengthen U.N. and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That's why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali -- we honor them not as makers of war, but of wagers -- but as wagers of peace.

Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant -- the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.

Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. (Applause.) And we honor -- we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard.

I have spoken at some length to the question that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me now turn to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior -- for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure -- and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.

One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: All will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work towards disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I'm working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia's nuclear stockpiles.

But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.

The same principle applies to those who violate international laws by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur, systematic rape in Congo, repression in Burma -- there must be consequences. Yes, there will be engagement; yes, there will be diplomacy -- but there must be consequences when those things fail. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.

This brings me to a second point -- the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.

It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.

And yet too often, these words are ignored. For some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are somehow Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation's development. And within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists -- a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values around the world.

I reject these choices. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent-up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America's interests -- nor the world's -- are served by the denial of human aspirations.

So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear that these movements -- these movements of hope and history -- they have us on their side.

Let me also say this: The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach -- condemnation without discussion -- can carry forward only a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

In light of the Cultural Revolution's horrors, Nixon's meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable -- and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty and connected to open societies. Pope John Paul's engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan's efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There's no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement, pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.

Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights -- it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.

It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can't aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

And that's why helping farmers feed their own people -- or nations educate their children and care for the sick -- is not mere charity. It's also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, more famine, more mass displacement -- all of which will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and environmental activists who call for swift and forceful action -- it's military leaders in my own country and others who understand our common security hangs in the balance.

Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, the determination, the staying power, to complete this work without something more -- and that's the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there's something irreducible that we all share.

As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we're all basically seeking the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.

And yet somehow, given the dizzying pace of globalization, the cultural leveling of modernity, it perhaps comes as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish in their particular identities -- their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we're moving backwards. We see it in the Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.

And most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint -- no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or the Red Cross worker, or even a person of one's own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but I believe it's incompatible with the very purpose of faith -- for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. For we are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best of intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.

But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached -- their fundamental faith in human progress -- that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

For if we lose that faith -- if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace -- then we lose what's best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."

Let us reach for the world that ought to be -- that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. (Applause.)

Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he's outgunned, but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school -- because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child's dreams.

Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity. Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress; that's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)


2) New U.S. Jobless Claims Rise, Trade Gap Narrows
December 10, 2009

Filed at 1:22 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week, but a surprise narrowing in the trade gap in October indicated the economy remained firmly on a steady growth path.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance rose 17,000 to 474,000 last week, after five straight weeks of declines, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The rise in claims was blamed on seasonal layoffs in industries such as construction and a rebound in applications that had been held back during the Thanksgiving holiday week.

Analysts, who had expected claims to climb but only to 460,000, said the gain did not alter the trend toward labor market stability. Instead, they focused on a 14th straight drop in a four-week average of claims, which hit the lowest since September last year.

In another report, the Commerce Department said the U.S. trade deficit shrank 7.6 percent to $32.9 billion in October as a weak dollar helped boost exports. Analysts had expected the gap to widen to about $36.8 billion.

"The recovery is sustaining its moderate momentum. The concern has been it would lose momentum and relapse in the way of a double-dip recession. I don't see anything in this or recent data suggesting this," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh.

The reports helped lift U.S. stock prices. In afternoon trade, the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up about 60 points or nearly 0.6 percent.

In another boost to the economy, U.S. households' net worth -- the difference between the value of assets and liabilities -- rose $2.7 trillion to $53.4 trillion in the third quarter, Federal Reserve data showed.

The second consecutive quarterly increase in household wealth could be a confidence booster for consumers shouldering the burden of high unemployment.

"The increase in household net worth will prove to have a positive psychological impact on households that will likely lead to more spending in 2010," said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, New Jersey.

Analysts said the unexpected narrowing in the trade gap, combined with a report on Wednesday showing wholesalers started restocking in October, improved the chances of the economy expanding at a more brisk pace in the fourth quarter than the 2.8 percent annualized rate seen in the July-September period.

Paul Dales, a U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto, said trade could contribute around 1 percentage point to fourth quarter gross domestic product after subtracting 0.8 percentage point in the third quarter.


In a sign that world trade is slowly shaking off the effects of the global financial crisis, U.S. exports of goods and services hit their highest level since November 2008. Imports also touched their highest point since last December.

The smaller-than-expected trade gap is good news for the Obama administration, which sees export growth as an avenue for creating jobs.

With the U.S. unemployment rate hovering at its highest levels in a quarter century, the weak jobs market is a political sore point for Obama and his fellow Democrats.

Still, the jobs market does appear to be recovering. A report last week showed the jobless rate edged down to 10 percent in November from a 26-1/2-year high of 10.2 percent, while employers cut the fewest jobs since recession struck in December 2007.

Even though jobless claims rose last week, applications for benefits have dropped from lofty levels in March. The four-week average, which provides a better view of underlying trends, dropped to 473,750 last week from 481,500 the prior week.

Analysts said that was a clear signal the economy would soon start creating the much needed jobs to fuel the recovery.

"I believe when we get down below 450,000, you are in a position where you're going to get some payrolls jobs growth. We are on the cusp," said PNC Financial Services' Hoffman.

The number of workers still collecting benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 303,000 to 5.16 million in the week ended November 28, the lowest level since February. The decline, however, was largely due to people exhausting their benefits and moving to emergency unemployment programs.

"These developments seem to be consistent with the broad sense that new layoffs are slowing significantly, but those who lost their jobs during the recession are still finding it very difficult to get work,' said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at RBS in Greenwich, Connecticut.

"The labor market is starting to stabilize, but the level of unemployment is very high."

The insured unemployment rate, which measures the percentage of the insured labor force that is jobless, fell to 3.9 percent in the week ended November 28 -- the lowest since February -- from 4.1 percent the previous week.

(Editing by James Dalgleish)


3) Judge Finds Pentagon in Contempt in Gitmo Case
December 10, 2009

Filed at 2:08 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge on Thursday ruled the Defense Department in contempt of court for failing to videotape the testimony of a Guantanamo Bay detainee so that the public and the news media could see it.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler is demanding a detailed explanation of why the Pentagon failed to follow her directions and tape the testimony of Mohammed Al-Adahi of Yemen. He testified June 23 in a challenge to his indefinite detention at the prison in Cuba.

In court papers, the government said the Defense Department inadvertently failed to tell the command at Guantanamo Bay to videotape the proceedings.

In August, Kessler ordered the government to ''take all necessary and appropriate diplomatic steps'' to facilitate Al-Adahi's release. The government is appealing Kessler's decision.

The judge said she wanted the testimony videotaped so as much of it as possible could be provided to the public and the news media.

Al-Adahi testified that he attended al-Qaida's Al Farouq training camp for seven to 10 days out of curiosity and was expelled for disobeying rules.

Al-Adahi readily acknowledged having met Osama bin Laden on two occasions and admitted that perhaps his relatives were bodyguards and enthusiastic followers of bin Laden, the judge wrote in her ruling in August.

The judge said, however, that ''sensational and compelling as it may appear,'' that does not constitute reliable evidence to justify the government detaining Al-Adahi, who has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002.


4) Poll Finds Slim Majority Back More Afghanistan Troops
December 10, 2009

WASHINGTON - A bare majority of Americans support President Obama's plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but many are skeptical that the United States can count on Afghanistan as a partner in the fight or that the escalation would reduce the chances of a domestic terrorist attack, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

In the wake of the president's address last week explaining his decision, the poll found a 10 percentage point increase in public approval of Mr. Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan since last month, to 48 percent. But the shift reflects a twist on the political polarization that has marked much of Mr. Obama's first year in office: Republican and independent voters are rallying behind Mr. Obama as he presses for the troop escalation, while Democrats remain decidedly cool to his war plans.

The poll showed a steady slide in support for Mr. Obama as he approaches the end of his first year in office. His job approval rating has now hit 50 percent, the lowest yet in this poll; it was 68 percent at its peak in April. The percentage of Americans who approve of his handling of the economy has dropped to 47 percent from 54 percent in October. And 42 percent approve of the way he is handling health care, down five percentage points in the last few months.

Mr. Obama has spent much of the past three months trying to rally support for a health care bill and formulating a plan for Afghanistan. But in the poll, 12 percent of respondents said health care was the biggest problem facing the nation, while just 2 percent named Afghanistan. Nearly 50 percent listed the economy or jobs.

Questioning for the survey began on Friday, the day the government announced a decline in the unemployment rate to 10 percent from 10.2 percent and a sharp drop-off in the rate of job loss in November, and as the White House embarked on an effort to present Mr. Obama as focused on the economy and jobs.

The support for Mr. Obama's Afghanistan policy is decidedly ambivalent, and the nation's appetite for any intervention is limited. Over all, Americans support sending the troops in by 51 percent to 43 percent, while 55 percent said setting a date to begin troop withdrawals was a bad idea.

Nearly 6 in 10 respondents said they did not want troops to remain there for more than two years; that includes 32 percent who said troops should leave within a year. Mr. Obama said that he would begin withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan in July 2011, but the administration has said the time it takes to withdraw would be contingent on conditions on the ground.

Just under half thought the United States would succeed in what Mr. Obama said was a central mission: preventing terrorists from using Afghanistan as a base of support, while 39 percent said they thought an increased effort in Afghanistan would make the United States safer from a domestic terrorist attack.

The poll also found that despite Mr. Obama's address to the nation last week, in which he sought to lay out a justification for the mission, nearly half of the respondents said that he had not clearly explained his plan.

The poll underscores the extent to which Mr. Obama has defied Democrats on the war. About two-thirds of Republicans support the troop escalation, while 53 percent of Democrats oppose it. Conversely, most Republicans oppose Mr. Obama's proposal to set a date to start pulling out troops, while Democrats applaud it.

The percentage of Republicans who approve of Mr. Obama's Afghanistan policy has increased 19 percentage points since November to 42 percent; 55 percent of Democrats approved, little-changed since last month.

The poll was conducted by telephone from Friday through Tuesday night, with 1,031 respondents, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The poll suggested a divide between Democrats who approve of Mr. Obama's job performance over all, even as they are upset with Afghanistan, and Republicans who disapprove of Mr. Obama's job performance over all, even if they are happy with what he is doing in Afghanistan.

"We've got to chase the Taliban out and end the war in Afghanistan, and we can't do that unless we have more troops there than we have now," Elizabeth Ledwith, 77, a Republican from Glenside, Pa., said in a follow-up interview.

But, Ms. Ledwith added: "Over all, I disapprove because Obama is putting us in terrible debt for years down the road by giving away all this money. Whenever anything happens, he throws a few more billion dollars at it."

By contrast, Karen Herald, 67, a Democrat from Corvallis, Ore., said she liked that Mr. Obama was "not George Bush."

"I think he presents a really good face for America," Ms. Herald said.

But, she said: "I think he's dealing with the kind of situation that no amount of military troops will help. I'm uneasy about sending more troops because I think the war is probably not winnable."

More than 80 percent of Democrats said they approved of Mr. Obama's job performance, compared with 19 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of independents.

Nearly 70 percent of Republicans said the United States was doing the right thing by fighting in Afghanistan; fewer than half of the Democrats shared that view. Over 60 percent of Republicans said the additional troops would make the United States safer from terrorism, compared with 28 percent of Democrats.

Megan Thee-Brennan and Marina Stefan contributed reporting.


5) Petraeus Warns of a Long and Expensive Mission in Afghanistan
December 10, 2009

WASHINGTON - America's involvement in Afghanistan could stretch on for years and cost upward of $10 billion annually just to finance an adequate Afghan security force, the overall commander in the region told Congress on Wednesday.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, one of the military's most influential generals, estimated that building and maintaining a combined army and police force of 400,000 - a size that American commanders believe may eventually be needed to fully secure the country - would cost more than $10 billion a year.

"There's no question, as President Karzai was highlighting yesterday, that Afghanistan will require substantial international funding for years to come in a whole host of different areas, not the least of which is their security forces," said General Petraeus, the commander of the military's Central Command, which oversees operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan and other regional trouble spots.

On Tuesday, President Hamid Karzai, at a news conference with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, said Afghanistan would not be able to pay for its own security until at least 2024, an assertion that surprised Mr. Gates and drew expressions of concern from senators of both parties.

"We're talking about $150 billion, just on the security side, before we get to the development side," said Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey. He pressed the general on whether he concurred with Mr. Karzai's timetable, but the general did not give a clear-cut answer.

"That depends on how rapidly, obviously, they can generate more revenue," he said. "But certainly it is going to be years before they can handle the bulk of the security tasks and allow the bulk of our troopers to redeploy."

This was General Petraeus's first appearance before Congress to defend the new Afghanistan policy, and he referred several times to his experience in Iraq, where he was the architect of the so-called surge.

"Achieving progress in Afghanistan will be hard, and the progress there will likely be slower in developing than was the progress in Iraq," General Petraeus said. But, he insisted, "Afghanistan is no more hopeless than Iraq was when I took command there in February 2007."

The general testified with the deputy secretary of state for management and resources, Jacob J. Lew, who helps direct the civilian effort in Afghanistan, and the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl W. Eikenberry. Ambassador Eikenberry, a retired lieutenant general, testified on Tuesday with the American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.

The two diplomats defended the administration's development efforts in Afghanistan, saying they would hold Mr. Karzai to his promises to crack down on corruption by steering aid to ministries or district officials with a proven record of good conduct.

But Mr. Lew, under tough questioning by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, conceded that there were limits to the ability of the United States to change the behavior of Mr. Karzai or other leaders. "Holding them accountable does not mean that a year from now or five years from now there will be zero corruption in Afghanistan," Mr. Lew said.

The committee's chairman, Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, pressed General Petraeus and Mr. Lew about how the United States planned to develop closer links to the Pakistani military and government.

"What happens in Pakistan, particularly near the Afghan border, will do more to determine the outcome in Afghanistan than any increase in troops or shift in strategy," he said.

But none of the three offered many concrete examples of how the administration could exercise leverage over the Pakistani military or government.

General Petraeus acknowledged that pouring more troops into Afghanistan would raise the risk of driving more militants across the border into Pakistan, where they could further destabilize that country.

"That is why we're working very hard to coordinate our operations more effectively with our Pakistani partners, so that they know what our operational campaign plan is, and can anticipate and be there with a catcher's mitt, or an anvil, whatever it may be, to greet these individuals," he said.

Mr. Lew laid out an extensive program of civilian assistance, including earthquake relief aid and efforts to strengthen the Pakistani electrical grid. He also said the United States wanted to forge closer ties with provincial officials, something it had not done adequately in the past.

It was left to General Petraeus to answer a blunt question from Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut: Is Pakistan's embattled president, Asif Ali Zardari, in danger of being forced from office?

"I don't see the prospect or the desire for anyone to change civilian rule," the general said.


6) Iraq Accepts Bids for 2 More Oil Fields
December 12, 2009

BAGHDAD - Three days after a series of coordinated bombings killed more than 100 people in the capital, Iraq's government held a public auction Friday during which it sold development rights to two of its largest untapped oil fields to fund the growing costs of security and reconstruction.

A partnership of Royal Dutch Shell and Petronas, a state-owned Malaysian company, won the largest field put out for bid, Majnoon, in southern Iraq, which contains an estimated 12.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

The second field, Halfiya, also in southern Iraq, was won by a consortium led by China National Petroleum Company that included Petronas and Total of France. The field is believed to have about 4.1 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Three other fields up for auction, located in unstable parts of the country, received little interest from oil companies, and their development rights were not sold.

The auction, which is scheduled to continue with five more fields Saturday, has taken place during a particularly unstable time.

Political squabbling has delayed critical national elections from January until March, even as American troops are scheduled to continue withdrawing from Iraq in large numbers.

And because the country's Parliament has been unable to approve a national oil law, it is unclear whether agreements reached with oil companies before the March 7 election will be recognized by a new government if Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki fails to win re-election.

Still, the auction, the second since the 2003 United States-led invasion, attracted representatives of dozens of the world's largest oil companies despite government fears that Tuesday's bombings would dissuade oil executives from traveling to Baghdad.

The event, televised live on Iraqi's state-owned television channel, was held inside a theater in the Oil Ministry under tight security - even by Baghdad's heavily policed standards.

Helicopters circled overhead; thousands of police officers and soldiers patrolled roadways; streets within a mile of the ministry were closed to vehicular traffic with the exception of convoys of armored S.U.V.s carrying oil executives to the auction; and everyone who made it inside was subjected to multiple body searches.

Prime Minister Maliki, who gave introductory remarks, thanked oil executives for attending the auction, adding that their presence signaled their "confidence" in Iraq.

Mr. Maliki played down recent violence in Baghdad as an aberration.

"There is no security deterioration in Iraq, even if a security breach occurred," Mr. Maliki said. "Iraq is on its way to removing all its obstacles."

But this week's bombings were the third in a series of large-scale attacks in the capital since August that have killed more than 400 people and wounded some 2,200 others.

If the presence of executives from companies including ExxonMobil, British Petroleum and Russia's Lukoil was any indication, however, the fear of being outflanked by a rival petroleum company trumped concerns about personal safety.

"I was nervous when I was sitting there," said Mounir Bouaziz, a vice president at Shell, after he submitted the winning bid for Majnoon, the largest field offered Friday. "We are pleased and relieved to have won this. It has taken a lot of work to get this, including months and months of study and discussions."

Shell's main competition came from Total, the oil company that is most familiar with the field.

Total signed an agreement with Saddam Hussein in the 1990s to develop Majnoon, a pact that was annulled by Mr. Hussein in 2002. Two years ago, Total and Chevron signed an agreement with the government to explore the field.

But Friday, while Total and its partner, the Chinese National Petroleum Company, offered to accept a $1.75 fee from the Oil Ministry for each barrel of oil they produced at the field, the partnership of Shell and Petronas submitted a bid to accept $1.39 for each barrel.

And while the Shell group gave a guarantee that it would produce 1.8 million barrels a day from Majnoon, the Total group said its output would be only about 1.4 million barrels.

Total was not entirely shut out Friday, however. The company was part of a second group that won the rights for Halfaya field, which like Majnoon, is a largely undeveloped field located in southern Iraq.

Total's partners for the Halfaya field are Petronas and C.N.P.C. The Chinese company has a 50 percent stake in the consortium, while the French and Malaysian firms have shares of 25 percent each.

If the consortium eventually signs a development contract with the Iraqi government, it would be the third Iraqi oil field development deal won by C.N.P.C. during the past year.

In November 2008, C.N.P.C. signed a contract to develop Ahdab field southwest of Baghdad. Last month, the Chinese company agreed to develop the 17.8 billion barrel Rumalia field as part of a consortium with British Petroleum.

The three oil fields that had no winning bidders Friday are located in areas where attacks remain relatively commonplace, including East Baghdad field, which lies beneath the Sadr City district. Earlier this week, a bombing killed several schoolchildren there.

Duraid Adnan and Mohammed Hussein contributed reporting from Baghdad, and Jad Mouawad from New York.


7) Illegal Immigrant Students Publicly Take Up a Cause
December 11, 2009

It has not been easy for the Obama administration to deport Rigoberto Padilla, a Mexican-born college student in Chicago who has been an illegal immigrant in this country since he was 6.

On Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they would delay Mr. Padilla's deportation for one year.

Mr. Padilla's case had seemed straightforward to immigration agents who detained him for deportation in January after he was arrested by the Chicago police for running a stop sign and charged with driving under the influence.

But since then, students held two street rallies on his behalf and sent thousands of e-mail messages and faxes to Congress. The Chicago City Council passed a resolution calling for a stay of his deportation and five members of Congress from Illinois came out in support of his cause. One of them was Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, who offered a private bill to cancel his removal.

Obama administration officials said they would review cases like Mr. Padilla's as they arose. They said the situation of Mr. Padilla, 21, pointed to the need for an immigration overhaul that would include a path to legal status for people in the United States illegally.

"We are committed to confronting these problems in practical, effective ways, using the current tools at our disposal while we work with Congress to enact comprehensive reform," said Matthew Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.

Behind Mr. Padilla's case - and others in Florida of students who fought off deportation - is activism by young immigrants, many of them illegal, which has become increasingly public and coordinated across the country, linked by Web sites, text messages and a network of advocacy groups. Spurred by President Obama's promises of legislation to grant them legal status, and frustration that their lives have stalled without it, young illegal immigrants are joining street protests despite the risk of being identified by immigration agents.

With many illegal immigrants lying low to avoid a continuing crackdown, immigrant students have become the most visible supporters of a legislative overhaul, which Mr. Obama has pledged to take up early next year. In the meantime, their protests are awkward for the administration, with young, often high-achieving illegal immigrants asking defiantly why the authorities continue to detain and deport them.

"Maybe our parents feel like immigrants, but we feel like Americans because we have been raised here on American values," said Carlos Saavedra, national coordinator of a network of current and former students called United We Dream.

"Then we go to college and we find out we are rejected by the American system. But we are not willing to accept that answer," said Mr. Saavedra, 23, a Peruvian who lived here illegally until he gained legal status two years ago.

Young people who were brought to the United States by illegal immigrant parents draw a certain degree of sympathy even from some opponents of broader legalization programs. Roy Beck, the executive director of NumbersUSA, a group that has staunchly opposed a legal path for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, said in an interview that he could support legal status for some young immigrant students. Mr. Beck said he would do so, however, only if Congress eliminated the current immigration system based on family ties and imposed mandatory electronic verification of immigration status for all workers - conditions that Democrats in Congress are not likely to accept.

The students' goal is to gain passage of legislation that would give permanent resident status to illegal immigrants who had been brought to the United States before they were 15, if they have been here for at least five years, have graduated from high school and attend college or serve in the military for two years.

Known to its supporters as the Dream Act, it has been offered in the Senate by Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana. An effort to bring it to the Senate floor was defeated in 2007, and proponents now consider it part of a package that includes a path to legal status for illegal immigrants in general, an estimated 12 million people. Mr. Beck said he continued to oppose that proposal.

Many illegal immigrant students who were brought to the United States as children receive a shock when they get ready to go to college. They are generally not eligible for lower in-state tuition rates or government financial aid. In most states they cannot get drivers' licenses.

In recent years, student groups joined battles in several states for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, some successful and some not. This year, student organizers said, they worked to tie those state efforts into a national network, hoping to match the mobilization networks of opponents of the immigration overhaul, which proved far superior in the past.

The troubles for Mr. Padilla began when he drove home after watching a football game and drinking beer with friends. He ran the stop sign, and the traffic police arrested him because he did not have a driver's license and had been drinking. Eventually, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Immigration agents found him in the county jail.

Mr. Padilla, now enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago, had no prior record and had been an honors student and president of the Latino student organization at Harold Washington College, which he attended for two years. Friends from both schools mobilized after his arrest.

Similar rallies took place in November in Miami, when immigration agents detained two brothers from Venezuela who were illegal immigrants - Jesús Reyes Mendoza, 21, a former student government president at Miami Dade College, and his brother Guillermo, 25. Students from the college held a protest in front of the immigrant detention center where the brothers were held.

"The undocumented youth are losing our fear of being undocumented," said Carlos Roa, an illegal immigrant student from Venezuela who joined that rally. "I'm public with this. I'm not hiding anymore."

Miami Dade College, with 170,000 students, has become a center for immigrant activism. After the protests, and letters from Eduardo Padron, the college president, the immigration authorities on Nov. 8 deferred the deportation of the Reyes brothers for one year.


8) 26 Students Arrested in Protest Over Tuition Increases
December 11, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - Twenty-six students were arrested at San Francisco State University before dawn on Thursday after some students barricaded themselves inside a building to protest budget cuts and tuition increases across the state's public university system.

"The doors were locked with chains from the inside so police broke through a window to get in," a university spokeswoman, Ellen Griffin, said. "We're approaching final exams and the end of the semester, and as many as 3,200 students have classes in that building."

On Wednesday, classes in the building were canceled after the occupation began.

Along with indignation over budget cuts, a blog listing the protesters' demands included forgiveness of all student loans and ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. With demands far beyond the purview of school administrators, negotiations with the students was nearly impossible, Ms. Griffin said.

The students occupied the three-story building for about 24 hours before the police took them into custody. They were charged with misdemeanors and released, Ms. Griffin said. Thirteen students were arrested inside the administration and classroom building, and 13 were arrested protesting outside.

The arrests came after months of growing student anger that followed a steep decline in state financing for public universities. Fees for students at the 23 California State University campuses, including San Francisco State, increased 30 percent this school year. In November, the University of California's Board of Regents approved a 32 percent increase in undergraduate student fees, which resulted in protests across the 10 campuses.

Students on at least three campuses, including Berkeley, took over buildings and dozens were arrested in the days after the fee increase. Those protesting also took issue with layoffs, faculty furloughs and other cuts.


9) New Incidents Test Immunity to Terrorism on U.S. Soil
News Analysis
[New York Times begins new terror campaign against U.S.]
December 12, 2009

WASHINGTON - As the years passed after Sept. 11, 2001, without another major attack on American soil and with no sign of hidden terrorist cells, many counterterrorism specialists reached a comforting conclusion: Muslims in the United States were not very vulnerable to radicalization.

American Muslims, the reasoning went, were well assimilated in diverse communities with room for advancement. They showed little of the alienation often on display among their European counterparts, let alone attraction to extremist violence.

But with a rash of recent cases in which Americans have been accused of being drawn into terrorist scheming, the rampage at Fort Hood, Tex., last month and now the alarming account of five young Virginia men who went to Pakistan and are suspected of seeking jihad, the notion that the United States has some immunity against homegrown terrorists is coming under new scrutiny.

It is a concern that President Obama noted in passing in his address on the decision to send 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, and one that has grown as the Afghan war and the hunt for Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan intensifies.

"These events certainly call the consensus into question," said Robert S. Leiken, who studies terrorism at the Nixon Center, a Washington policy institute, and wrote the forthcoming book "Europe's Angry Muslims."

"The notion of a difference between Europe and United States remains relevant," Mr. Leiken said. But the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the American operations like drone strikes in Pakistan, are fueling radicalization at home, he said.

"Just the length of U.S. involvement in these countries is provoking more Muslim Americans to react," Mr. Leiken said.

Concern over the recent cases has profoundly affected Muslim organizations in the United States, which have renewed pledges to campaign against extremist thinking.

"Among leaders, there's a recognition that there's a challenge within our community that needs to be addressed," said Alejandro J. Beutel, government liaison at the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, and main author of a report by the council on radicalization and how to combat it.

Mr. Beutel, a Muslim convert from New Jersey, said the council started a grass-roots counterradicalization effort in 2005, but acknowledged that "for a while it was on the back burner." He said, "Now we're going to revive it."

F.B.I. investigators were in Pakistan on Friday questioning the five Virginia men. But it remained unclear whether the men would be deported to the United States, and whether they had broken any laws in either Pakistan or the United States.

At a news conference Friday at the small Virginia mosque where the men had been youth group regulars, mosque officials expressed bewilderment at claims that the men wanted to join the jihad against American troops in Afghanistan.

"I never observed any extreme behavior from them," said Mustafa Maryam, who runs the youth group and said he had known the young men since 2006. "They were fun-loving, career-focused children. They had a bright future before them."

Also at the press briefing, asked about reports that the five men had contacted a Pakistani militant via the Web, Mahdi Bray, the head of the Freedom Foundation of the Muslim American Society, told reporters that YouTube and social networking sites had become a dangerous recruiting tool for militants.

"We are determined not to let religious extremists exploit the vulnerability of our children through this slick, seductive propaganda on the Internet," said Mr. Bray, who is organizing a youth meeting later this month in Chicago to address the issue.

"Silence in cyberspace is not an option for us," he said.

The detention of the Virginia men - ranging in age from late teens to mid-20s - would have prompted soul-searching no matter when it occurred. But it comes after a series of disturbing cases that already had terror experts speculating about a trend.

There were the November shootings that took 13 lives at Fort Hood, with murder charges pending against Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an American-born Muslim and an Army psychiatrist.

There was the arrest of Najibullah Zazi, born in Afghanistan but the seeming model of the striving immigrant as a popular coffee vendor in Manhattan, accused of going to Pakistan for explosives training with the intention of attacking in the United States.

There was David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American living in Chicago, accused of helping plan the killings in Mumbai, India, last year and of plotting attacks in Denmark.

There was Bryant Neal Vinas, a Muslim convert from Long Island who participated in a rocket attack on American troops in Afghanistan and used his knowledge of commuter trains in New York to advise Al Qaeda about potential targets.

There were the Somali-Americans from Minnesota who had traveled to Somalia to join a violent Islamist movement.

And there were cases of would-be terrorists who plotted attacks in Texas, Illinois and North Carolina with conspirators who turned out to be F.B.I. informants.

Bruce Hoffman, who studies terrorism at Georgetown University, said the recent cases only confirmed that it was "myopic" to believe "we could insulate ourselves from the currents affecting young Muslims everywhere else."

Like many other specialists, Mr. Hoffman pointed to the United States' combat in Muslim lands as the only obvious spur to many of the recent cases, especially those with a Pakistani connection.

"The longer we've been in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said, "the more some susceptible young men are coming to believe that it's their duty to take up arms to defend their fellow Muslims."

A few analysts, in fact, argue that Mr. Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan - intended to prevent a terrorist haven there - could backfire.

Robert A. Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist, contends that suicide attacks are almost always prompted by resentment of foreign troops, and that escalation in Afghanistan will fuel more plots.

"This new deployment increases the risk of the next 9/11," he said. "It will not make this country safer."

Yet amid the concern about the five Virginia men and the impact of the wars on Muslim opinion, Audrey Kurth Cronin of the National War College in Washington said she found something to take comfort in.

"To me, the most interesting thing about the five guys is that it was their parents that went immediately to the F.B.I.," she said. "It was members of the American Muslim community that put a stop to whatever those men may have been planning."

Janie Lorber contributed reporting from Alexandria, Va.


10) Protesters Gather to Urge Action on Climate Change
December 13, 2009

COPENHAGEN - Thousands of protesters from around the globe converged in a square here Saturday for what was expected to be the largest demonstration during two weeks of talks on a global strategy to combat climate change.

The police said they anticipated that 60,000 people would join a long march southward from Christiansborg Slotsplads, or Castle Square, toward the Bella Center, the sprawling and heavily fortified convention center where delegates and observers from nearly 200 nations are gathered to try to seek a consensus.

A coalition of hundreds of environmental groups, human rights campaigners, climate activists, anti-capitalists and freelance protesters from dozens of countries - along with Copenhagen residents, young and old - gathered in the early afternoon for a veritable circus of eco-themed signs, chants, speeches and costumes.

By 1 p.m., a rolling sea of flags and banners undulated across the square, most with climate slogans or pleas for world leaders to resolve the vast differences that still make a global climate agreement elusive as talks here move into the second and final week.

"Bla, Bla, Bla," said one popular sign. "Act Now!"

Another said, "Nature Doesn't Compromise."

On a stage at the eastern edge of the square, a succession of speakers stoked a cheering crowd, their voices booming over loudspeakers. "My words cannot replace action," said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the leader of Denmark's Social Democrats, the leading opposition party here. "We are here to show leaders that what is made by man, can be changed by man."

In the crowd was 26-year-old Jemimah Maitei, dressed in traditional clothing from her native Kenya. Watching the stage eagerly, she said she had traveled to Copenhagen to be part of a delegation representing indigenous peoples at the talks, which are overseen by the United Nations.

"I came here to give my views on how climate change is impacting my community," Ms. Maitei said. She cited relentless droughts that had made growing crops, among other things, increasingly difficult for the Masai, the ethnic group to which she belongs.

The vast demonstration was not the exclusive province of climate campaigners, however. Groups of diverse social and political pedigree took advantage of the huge gathering to advance their agendas, too.

One sign urged the overthrow of the Iranian government. Another, with the words "Earth in Need: Delete Meat," was one of many promoting vegetarian diets.

People calling for a "Free Tibet" were well represented, and a small contingent of climate skeptics and libertarians opposed to caps on heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions derided the United Nations talks.

"We want to be able to live our lives like we've always led them before - as free citizens in free democracies," said David Pontoppidan, a graduate student in sociology at the University of Copenhagen, who addressed passers-by through a megaphone over the chatter of two helicopters hovering far above.

"We want free debate; we want to be able to be taken seriously even though we don't agree with the U.N.," he said.

By midafternoon, as people made their way over the canal and southward toward the Bella Center, small bands of black-clad youths chanting anti-capitalist slogans and carrying sticks and rocks could be seen infiltrating the otherwise peaceful crowd.

At around 3:30, dozens of Danish police officers penetrated the parade near its tail, surrounding a group of the more radical protesters. Several arrests were made, while the remainder of the column of demonstrators was guided around the scene to rejoin those making their way for the demonstration's terminus at Vejlands Alle, just north of the convention center.

Although there have been scattered skirmishes between the police and protesters during the first week of the United Nations conference, most of these have been isolated, and Danish law enforcement officials have made it broadly known that they would have low tolerance for unruly behavior.

Jesper Frandsen, a police officer keeping watch at an area behind the stage at the outset of the demonstration, said the police force wanted to ensure that visitors enjoyed themselves and that their environmental concerns were heard.

"We want to keep the focus on the environmental debate and make sure the radical activists don't steal the attention," he said.

Leading the march from the square this afternoon, a man in blue coveralls, with vaudevillian face paint and a faux Cyrano nose, could be seen sweeping the street and peering into a rolling trash bin painted to resemble the planet. It emitted plumes of white dust and mournful musical notes.

"This is our comment on global warming," said the sweeper, Jens Kloft, a Danish performance artist. "We want to have an international compromise on global warming - a better climate, but two more months of summer in Denmark please. Because it's too cold to be out here."

Andrew C. Revkin and Lars Kroldrup contributed reporting.


11) Catch-2009
Op-Ed Contributor
December 12, 2009

LET me interrupt normal programming about climate change, White House party crashers, Tiger Woods's late-night driving habits, the deficit and the public option to note the 10th anniversary of the death of Joseph Heller.

The author of "Catch-22" and I became friends after I wrote a respectful but not altogether favorable review of the sequel to his 1961 masterpiece. I was stunned to receive a handwritten note thanking me for the review. I wrote back. A friendship ensued. Five years later, by the time Joe died, we'd accumulated a correspondence of several hundred letters, most transmitted by fax. (Remember faxes?)

Joe was 76 when he died the night of Dec. 12, 1999. I remember the date because the last fax I had from him was dated Dec. 11. It's thumb-tacked to the bulletin board over my desk.

I was writing him back when a newspaper rang and asked if I might "write something about Joe Heller."

"Any particular reason?" I asked.

"He died last night."

I had to hang up and compose myself. The letter I'd been on the verge of writing included an extract that I'd found in his 1986 memoir, "No Laughing Matter," about his ordeal with Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Mario [Puzo] had called George Mandel to say he'd heard Joe was paralyzed. "No, Mario .... He's got something called Guillain-Barré." "My God," Mario blurted out. "That's terrible!" A surprised George murmured, "Hey, Mario, you know about Guillain-Barré?" "No, I never heard nothing about it," Mario replied. "But when they name any disease after two guys, it's got to be terrible!"

I thought it was delightful. Now it didn't seem very funny. (An odd coincidence: Joe learned he had Guillain-Barré on Dec. 13, 1981. I wonder if the chronological symmetry in those two calamities would have amused him.)

The death of any friend leaves a hole. In this case, a succession of holes, for I've often found myself wondering over the last 10 years, "What would Joe have made of this?" Having died just before the start of a tumultuous - to say the least - decade, the author of a landmark 20th-century satire missed, or perhaps another way to put it, avoided:

• the Florida recount

• 9/11

• weapons of mass destruction

• Saddam Hussein's hanging, available on cellphone and YouTube

• Dick Cheney shooting his lawyer

• Hurricane Katrina

• John Kerry, war hero, being depicted as a Swift-boating wimp

• Lady Gaga

• A.I.G. bonuses

• Bernard Madoff

• the election of Barack Obama

• Glenn Beck

• the "controversy" over Barack Obama's birth certificate

• Sarah Palin, best-selling author.

I'd love to have heard his take on all this over our ritual martinis. Joe was not a manufacturer of bons mots. Au contraire - as he himself would have gleefully put it. His conversation was non-ornamental. He did not strive to be witty or to dazzle. He was amused but mostly repelled by professional talking heads, those conveyor belts of forced insight.

But behind the warm smile, he had a switchblade-sharp mind, and his fraud-detector (what Hemingway called, in somewhat saltier terms, the writer's most indispensable tool) was as fine-tuned as a Predator drone. He could spot phoniness at a thousand yards and destroy it with a single Hellfire-missile glance.

For all that, he was playful and avuncular. He provided one of my books with a blurb. The subsequent Publisher's Weekly review was decidedly mixed. I faxed it to him with a sigh. He drew lines through the decidedly mixed portions and wrote at the bottom, "Now it's a total rave."

So this Dec. 12, I mark a sad anniversary, and wonder, among so many other things, what "Catch-22's" author would have had to say about President Obama's accepting the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after ordering 30,000 more Americans to war.

Christopher Buckley is the editor at large of ForbesLife magazine.


12) Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics
December 12, 2009

New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows.

Those findings, by a team from Rutgers and Columbia, are almost certain to add fuel to a long-running debate. Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them - but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children?

The questions go beyond the psychological impact on Medicaid children, serious as that may be. Antipsychotic drugs can also have severe physical side effects, causing drastic weight gain and metabolic changes resulting in lifelong physical problems.

On Tuesday, a pediatric advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration met to discuss the health risks for all children who take antipsychotics. The panel will consider recommending new label warnings for the drugs, which are now used by an estimated 300,000 people under age 18 in this country, counting both Medicaid patients and those with private insurance.

Meanwhile, a group of Medicaid medical directors from 16 states, under a project they call Too Many, Too Much, Too Young, has been experimenting with ways to reduce prescriptions of antipsychotic drugs among Medicaid children.

They plan to publish a report early next year.

The Rutgers-Columbia study will also be published early next year, in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs. But the findings have already been posted on the Web, setting off discussion among experts who treat and study troubled young people.

Some experts say they are stunned by the disparity in prescribing patterns. But others say it reinforces previous indications, and their own experience, that children with diagnoses of mental or emotional problems in low-income families are more likely to be given drugs than receive family counseling or psychotherapy.

Part of the reason is insurance reimbursements, as Medicaid often pays much less for counseling and therapy than private insurers do. Part of it may have to do with the challenges that families in poverty may have in consistently attending counseling or therapy sessions, even when such help is available.

"It's easier for patients, and it's easier for docs," said Dr. Derek H. Suite, a psychiatrist in the Bronx whose pediatric cases include children and adolescents covered by Medicaid and who sometimes prescribes antipsychotics. "But the question is, 'What are you prescribing it for?' That's where it gets a little fuzzy."

Too often, Dr. Suite said, he sees young Medicaid patients to whom other doctors have given antipsychotics that the patients do not seem to need. Recently, for example, he met with a 15-year-old girl. She had stopped taking the antipsychotic medication that had been prescribed for her after a single examination, paid for by Medicaid, at a clinic where she received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Why did she stop? Dr. Suite asked. "I can control my moods," the girl said softly.

After evaluating her, Dr. Suite decided she was right. The girl had arguments with her mother and stepfather and some insomnia. But she was a good student and certainly not bipolar, in Dr. Suite's opinion.

"Normal teenager," Dr. Suite said, nodding. "No scrips for you."

Because there can be long waits to see the psychiatrists accepting Medicaid, it is often a pediatrician or family doctor who prescribes an antipsychotic to a Medicaid patient - whether because the parent wants it or the doctor believes there are few other options.

Some experts even say Medicaid may provide better care for children than many covered by private insurance because the drugs - which can cost $400 a month - are provided free to patients, and families do not have to worry about the co-payments and other insurance restrictions.

"Maybe Medicaid kids are getting better treatment," said Dr. Gabrielle Carlson, a child psychiatrist and professor at the Stony Brook School of Medicine. "If it helps keep them in school, maybe it's not so bad."

In any case, as Congress works on health care legislation that could expand the nation's Medicaid rolls by 15 million people - a 43 percent increase - the scope of the antipsychotics problem, and the expense, could grow in coming years.

Even though the drugs are typically cheaper than long-term therapy, they are the single biggest drug expenditure for Medicaid, costing the program $7.9 billion in 2006, the most recent year for which the data is available.

The Rutgers-Columbia research, based on millions of Medicaid and private insurance claims, is the most extensive analysis of its type yet on children's antipsychotic drug use. It examined records for children in seven big states - including New York, Texas and California - selected to be representative of the nation's Medicaid population, for the years 2001 and 2004.

The data indicated that more than 4 percent of patients ages 6 to 17 in Medicaid fee-for-service programs received antipsychotic drugs, compared with less than 1 percent of privately insured children and adolescents. More recent data through 2007 indicates that the disparity has remained, said Stephen Crystal, a Rutgers professor who led the study. Experts generally agree that some characteristics of the Medicaid population may contribute to psychological problems or psychiatric disorders. They include the stresses of poverty, single-parent homes, poorer schools, lack of access to preventive care and the fact that the Medicaid rolls include many adults who are themselves mentally ill.

As a result, studies have found that children in low-income families may have a higher rate of mental health problems - perhaps two to one - compared with children in better-off families. But that still does not explain the four-to-one disparity in prescribing antipsychotics.

Professor Crystal, who is the director of the Center for Pharmacotherapy at Rutgers, says his team's data also indicates that poorer children are more likely to receive antipsychotics for less serious conditions than would typically prompt a prescription for a middle-class child.

But Professor Crystal said he did not have clear evidence to form an opinion on whether or not children on Medicaid were being overtreated.

"Medicaid kids are subject to a lot of stresses that lead to behavior issues which can be hard to distinguish from more serious psychiatric conditions," he said. "It's very hard to pin down."

And yet Dr. Mark Olfson, a psychiatry professor at Columbia and a co-author of the study, said at least one thing was clear: "A lot of these kids are not getting other mental health services."

The F.D.A. has approved antipsychotic drugs for children specifically to treat schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder. But they are more frequently prescribed to children for other, less extreme conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, aggression, persistent defiance or other so-called conduct disorders - especially when the children are covered by Medicaid, the new study shows.

Although doctors may legally prescribe the drugs for these "off label" uses, there have been no long-term studies of their effects when used for such conditions.

The Rutgers-Columbia study found that Medicaid children were more likely than those with private insurance to be given the drugs for off-label uses like A.D.H.D. and conduct disorders. The privately insured children, in turn, were more likely than their Medicaid counterparts to receive the drugs for F.D.A.-approved uses like bipolar disorder.

Even if parents enrolled in Medicaid may be reluctant to put their children on drugs, some come to rely on them as the only thing that helps.

"They say it's impossible to stop now," Evelyn Torres, 48, of the Bronx, said of her son's use of antipsychotics since he received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at age 3. Seven years later, the boy is now also afflicted with weight and heart problems. But Ms. Torres credits Medicaid for making the boy's mental and physical conditions manageable. "They're helping with everything," she said.


13) Poland: Pact on U.S. Troops Signed
World Briefing | Europe
December 12, 2009

Poland and the United States signed an agreement in Warsaw on Friday that would govern the legal status of American troops on Polish soil. The status of forces agreement is necessary for American soldiers to support a battery of Patriot missiles expected to be deployed there in 2010.


14) Immigration Officials Arrest 300 in California
December 12, 2009

LOS ANGELES - Nearly 300 illegal immigrants who had committed serious crimes were deported or detained this week by federal agents in a demonstration of what immigration officials pledged was a new resolve to zero in on the most egregious lawbreakers.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials called the three-day sweep in California their largest operation ever aimed at illegal immigrants with criminal records.

More than 80 percent had convictions for serious or violent crimes and at least 100 have been removed from the country, with the others awaiting deportation proceedings.

John Morton, an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security who is in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Friday that focusing on serious criminals helped improve public safety.

"These are not people who we want walking our streets," Mr. Morton said at a news conference here, a day after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made much the same point at a Congressional hearing.

The Department of Homeland Security has been criticized by immigrant advocates and civil libertarians in recent years for rounding up hundreds of people whose only offense was being in the country without proper documents, sometimes at the cost of breaking up families.

President Obama had campaigned on a promise of a more compassionate approach to immigration enforcement that would focus on ridding the country of felons and cracking down on employers who deliberately hire illegal workers.

Mr. Morton, citing limited resources, said, "We are going to focus on those people who choose to pursue a life of crime in the United States rather than pursue the American dream of education, hard work and success."

Last year, 136,126 illegal immigrants with criminal records were deported, a record number, officials said. While department officials trumpeted the mass arrests this week, they could not say how many serious criminal offenders who are in the country illegally remain on the streets.

The Immigrants' Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union reacted skeptically to the announcement, noting that despite assurances that serious criminals were the target, previous sweeps have turned out to capture large numbers of people with no such records.

"We would welcome more effective targeting than in the past but it is not yet clear that is the case here," said Caroline Cincotta, a fellow at the project, who also questioned whether the swift deportations had allowed people to have full due process.

ICE officials said just six of those arrested had no record at all, and they sought to play up the serious nature of the offenses of those who were apprehended.

Those arrested included a Guatemalan man with ties to a Los Angeles gang who had committed first-degree robbery, a Mexican man convicted of lewd acts with a child and a Mexican man with a rape conviction.

Of the 286 people arrested, 63 had previously been deported. At least 17 face prosecution for re-entering the country without proper documents.

The agents and officers tracked down most of those arrested through tips and a review of immigration files, court and public records. Many people arrested this week were never deported after serving prison time for their offenses because they fell through the cracks.

Mr. Morton said the immigration agency was improving cooperation with local and state jailers, and is rolling out a "Secure Communities" program that by 2012 is expected to permit all local jails nationwide to check the immigration status of inmates.

The deportees represented 31 countries, though the majority, 207, were from Mexico.


15) California: More Arrests in University Protest
National Briefing | West
December 12, 2009

Sixty-five protesters, including about 40 students, were arrested inside a classroom building that has been partially taken over for several days at the University of California, Berkeley, by demonstrators opposed to cuts in state financing. The protesters had said they would leave Friday night, but after they began breaking into locked classrooms and publicizing an all-night hip-hop party, the police arrested them on misdemeanor trespassing charges.