Tuesday, January 12, 2010

BAUAW NEWSLETTER - TUESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2010

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U.S. OUT OF IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN!
FREE PALESTINE!
MONEY FOR HEALTHCARE, JOBS AND EDUCATION!
U.S. HANDS OFF LATIN AMERICA!
SAN FRANCISCO MARCH AND RALLY
SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 11:00 A.M., CIVIC CENTER

GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT MARCH 20!

1. Thursday January 14th
5pm postering (7pm cancelled unless someone wants to do it)
meet at ANSWER office (2489 mission st., # 24 @ 21st st.)
2. Saturday January 16th
12noon postering, meet at ANSWER office
2pm tabling, meet at Whole Foods on 24th st btwn Sanchez and Noe
3. Monday January 18th
5pm tabling, meet at 24th and Mission BART
4. Tuesday January 19th
7pm postering, meet at ANSWER office

NEXT MARCH 20 COALITION MEETING:
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2010, 2:00 P.M.
CENTRO DEL PUEBLO
474 VALENCIA STREET
Between 16th and 15th Streets, SF)
For more information call: 415-821-6545

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Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:
A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS
B. SPECIAL APPEALS, VIDEOS AND ONGOING CAMPAIGNS
C. ARTICLES IN FULL

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A. EVENTS AND ACTIONS

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Demand justice for Oscar Grant: Jan. 13 in Oakland

Today marks a year since Oakland erupted in rebellion that got a cop charged with murder for the first time ever in California . And that same night the cops called themselves retaliating by arresting our own Minister of Information JR for the bogus crime of felony arson of a trash can. Not only didn't he do it, but there's no trace on the trash can that it was ever on fire!

Every one of us has a role to play in this historic drama - to ensure that triggerman Johannes Mehserle, who executed Oscar Grant in cold blood, is convicted even though his trial's been moved from Oakland to LA (our thanks to LA activists for their fast and masterful organizing!), and to ensure that JR, whose trial starts Feb. 22, is acquitted. If you're in LA or the Bay Area, your presence is needed at these events - details at Demand justice for Oscar Grant: Jan. 13 in Oakland:

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m., Black Dot Café, 1195 Pine St. West Oakland: fundraiser for the last two of the Oakland 100 arrested during the Oakland Rebellions still facing charges, Minister of Information JR and punk rock artist Holly Works, featuring the screening of "Operation Small Axe," which has just been accepted by the Pan African Film Festival in LA - special guest: former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney!

These young activists need and deserve all the help you can give them. Both need funds for their legal defense, and JR needs to replace his camera, which the Oakland PD still refuses to return.

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NEXT MARCH 20 COALITION MEETING:
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2010, 2:00 P.M.
CENTRO DEL PUEBLO
474 VALENCIA STREET
Between 16th and 15th Streets, SF)
For more information call: 415-821-6545

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National Call for March 4 Strike and Day of Action To Defend Public Education
By Elly
http://defendcapubliceducation.wordpress.com/?blogsub=confirmed#subscribe-blog

California has recently seen a massive movement erupt in defense of public education -- but layoffs, fee hikes, cuts, and the re-segregation of public education are attacks taking place throughout the country. A nationwide resistance movement is needed.

We call on all students, workers, teachers, parents, and their organizations and communities across the country to massively mobilize for a Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education on March 4, 2010. Education cuts are attacks against all of us, particularly in working-class communities and communities of color.

The politicians and administrators say there is no money for education and social services. They say that "there is no alternative" to the cuts. But if there's money for wars, bank bailouts, and prisons, why is there no money for public education?

We can beat back the cuts if we unite students, workers, and teachers across all sectors of public education - Pre K-12, adult education, community colleges, and state-funded universities. We appeal to the leaders of the trade union movement to support and organize strikes and/or mass actions on March 4. The weight of workers and students united in strikes and mobilizations would shift the balance of forces entirely against the current agenda of cuts and make victory possible.

Building a powerful movement to defend public education will, in turn, advance the struggle in defense of all public-sector workers and services and will be an inspiration to all those fighting against the wars, for immigrants rights, in defense of jobs, for single-payer health care, and other progressive causes.

Why March 4? On October 24, 2009 more than 800 students, workers, and teachers converged at UC Berkeley at the Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education. This massive meeting brought together representatives from over 100 different schools, unions, and organizations from all across California and from all sectors of public education. After hours of open collective discussion, the participants voted democratically, as their main decision, to call for a Strike and Day of Action on March 4, 2010. All schools, unions and organizations are free to choose their specific demands and tactics -- such as strikes, rallies, walkouts, occupations, sit-ins, teach-ins, etc. -- as well as the duration of such actions.

Let's make March 4 an historic turning point in the struggle against the cuts, layoffs, fee hikes, and the re-segregation of public education.

- The California Coordinating Committee

To endorse this call and to receive more information contact:
march4strikeanddayofaction@gmail.com

and check out:
www.defendcapubliceducation.wordpress.com

Andy Griggs
andyca6@gmail.com
310-704-3217

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U.S. OUT OF IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN NOW!
FREE PALESTINE!

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:

http://answer.pephost.org/site/Survey?SURVEY_ID=5940&ACTION_REQUIRED=URI_ACTION_USER_REQUESTS&autologin=true&link=endorse-body-1

Click here to make a donation:

https://secure2.convio.net/pep/site/Donation?ACTION=SHOW_DONATION_OPTIONS&CAMPAIGN_ID=2302&autologin=true&donate=body-1&JServSessionIdr002=2yzk5fh8x2.app13b

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
http://www.answercoalition.org/
info@internationalanswer.org
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

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The US Social Forum II
" June 22-26, 2010 "
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Another World Is Possible! Another US is Necessary!
http://www.ussf2010.org/

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B. SPECIAL APPEALS, VIDEOS AND ONGOING CAMPAIGNS

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Urgent action needed to stop executions in CA
By Stephanie Faucher, Death Penalty Focus
January 8, 2009
stefanie@deathpenalty.org

Dear supporters,

Please take action today to stop executions from resuming in California. This is very urgent, without your help executions could occur in the near future.

Both Californians and non-Californians are encouraged to take action.

Letters must be received by January 20, 2010 at 5pm PDT.

BACKGROUND:

On January 4, 2010, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) proposed minor revisions to its lethal injection procedures in the form of amendments to its previously proposed procedures. CDCR set a fifteen-day comment period ending January 20, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. during which the public can submit written comments on the proposed amendments.

The amended regulations, which are virtually identical to the regulations proposed in May 2009, can be found here:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=DsL2ekA4m2nB2qSfspkiCinFkqj%2BKN3u

The above link contains only those regulations that were amended. To see the full text of the proposed regulations proposed in May 2009, go to this link:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=NHU2PZL0sQWgLuC6BWt%2BfynFkqj%2BKN3u

TAKE ACTION:

We have created a draft letter which you can personalize and send here:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1265/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1988

A separate letter will also be sent the Governor of California.

Thank you for taking action!

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BAUAW responds:

Here is the letter I wrote as a representative of BAUAW:

I oppose the racist death penalty to its very core. There is no "humanitarian" way to murder someone. It's barbaric.

Already so many who have been on death row for decades have been proven to be innocent victims of gross forensic mistakes or blatant police frame-ups.

The poor are routinely afforded inferior and indifferent legal services that serve mainly as a go-between the prosecution and accused. It can hardly be called legal defense.

Justice is not served equally or fairly in the United States. Most other nations have done away with the death penalty. Here our "great minds of justice" debate the best way to kill.

Under these concrete circumstances, instead of limiting the appeals process for prisoners, the justice system should bend over backwards to hear and re-hear the evidence and set free those who have been convicted unfairly.

Death should never be our conscious choice as a nation.

I am also very concerned about the newly revised lethal injection procedures.

In particular, I have the following concerns:

* The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) added a news article from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat to the rulemaking file. The article mentions that the original creator of the three-drug lethal injection formula has suggested ways to reform the process, including keeping up with changing drugs and science and proper training of lethal injection team members. The recent experience of Romell Broom in Ohio reinforces a point raised in the article, that botched executions are a real possibility, especially in California, due to the limited training of the lethal injection team members and California's repeated failure to meaningfully change its protocol.

* CDCR's amended regulations continue to be wholly inadequate and inapplicable to female condemned inmates. The regulations now specify that a female condemned inmate shall be transported to San Quentin no sooner than 72 hours and no later than six hours prior to the scheduled execution, but contain no provisions to implement the required 45-day chronology of events prior to her arrival at San Quentin. CDCR also fails to address how and if the female condemned inmate will be in contact with her family members and her legal team during her transport, which may take place on the same day as her scheduled execution.

* Contrary to CDCR's claim, the amended regulations continue to treat the condemned prisoner's witnesses differently than the victim's witnesses. The victim's family is allowed an unlimited number of witnesses at the execution, whereas the prisoner scheduled to die is limited to five individuals other than her or his spiritual adviser. In the event of lack of space, the victim's family is provided with the option of remote viewing of the execution, while the same option is not extended to the inmate's family.

*The distinction drawn between Chaplains and "approved" Spiritual Advisors is confusing and it is unclear how and when a person may become a "pre-approved" Spiritual Advisor.

I expect that you will take these concerns very seriously.

Sincerely,

Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War, bauaw.org

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YouTube - SF Hotel Workers Rally With AFL-CIO Trumka And March On Hilton Hotel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzI8k5Ipwsk

On Jan 5, 2010 over 1,400 SF Hotel Workers Rallied and marched With AFL-CIO President Trumka and Unite-Here President Wilhelm for a contract for the 9,000 unionized hotel workers whose contracts have expired. Over 150 workers and supporters were arrested at the Hilton Hotel which the union is boycotting. For further information on the union go to www.unitehere2.org

Produced by The Labor Video Project
P.O. Box 720027
SF, CA 94172
laborvideo.blip.tv
www.laborvideo.org
(415)282-1908

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AMAZING SPEECH BY WAR VETERAN
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akm3nYN8aG8

The Unemployment Game Show: Are You *Really* Unemployed? - From Mint.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ulu3SCAmeBA

Video: Gaza Lives On
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU5Wi2jhnW0

ASSESSMENT - "LEFT IN THE COLD"- CROW CREEK - 2009
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tmfue_pjwho&feature=PlayList&p=217F560F18109313&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=5

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Tom Zaniello is a living, walking encyclopedia of films about labour.

I heard him speak at a conference once, but it wasn't so much a speech as a high-speed tour through dozens of film clips, lovingly selected, all aiming to make a point.

I don't know anyone who knows more about cinema and the labour movement than he does.

And Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff: An expanded guide to films about labor is his, well, encyclopedia about the subject.

It's a 434 page guide to 350 labour films from around the world, ranging from those you've heard of - Salt of the Earth, The Grapes of Wrath, Roger & Me - to those you've never heard of but will fall in love with once you see them.

Zaniello describes all the films in detail, tells you whether they're available for rental or purchase, and, if so, where.

Fiction and nonfiction, the films are about unions, labour history, working-class life, political movements, and the struggle between labour and capital.

Each entry includes critical commentary, production data, cast list, suggested related films, and annotated references to books and Web sites for further reading.

If you want to know more about labour films, buy this book.

And remember that every copy you purchase helps support LabourStart.

Thanks very much.

Eric Lee

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Letter from Lynne Stewart from behind bars:

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

FREE LYNNE STEWART NOW!

Lynne Stewart in Jail!

For further information contact: Jeff Mackler, Coordinator, West Coast Lynne Stewart Defense Committee 510-268-9429 jmackler@lmi.net
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.

SEND RESOLUTIONS AND STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT TO DEFENSE ATTORNEY JOSHUA L. DRATEL, ESQ. FAX: 212) 571 3792 AND EMAIL: jdratel@aol.com

SEND PROTESTS TO ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER:

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

To send Lynne a letter, write:
Lynne Stewart
53504-054
MCC-NY
150 Park Row
New York, NY NY 10007

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOQ5_VKRf5k&feature=related

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With a New Smile, 'Rage' Fades Away [SINGLE PAYER NOW!!!]
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/12/08/health/20091208_Clinic/index.html?ref=us

FTA [F**k The Army] Trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HlkgPCgU7g

Jon Stewart: Obama Is Channeling Bush VIDEO)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/03/jon-stewart-obama-is-chan_n_378283.html

US anti-war activists protest
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/12/200912283650408132.html

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]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKmAb1gNN74&feature=player_embedded#
Buffy Sainte-Marie - No No Keshagesh lyrics:
http://www.lyricsmode.com/?i=print_lyrics&id=705368

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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.
http://ien.thetarsandsblow.org/

The Story of Mouseland: As told by Tommy Douglas in 1944
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqgOvzUeiAA

The Communist Manifesto illustrated by Cartoons
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KUl4yfABE4

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HELP VFP PUT THIS BOOK IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL OR PUBLIC LIBRARY

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!

https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/826/t/9311/shop/custom.jsp?donate_page_KEY=4906

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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.
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/07/21/18611878.php

WE DEMAND JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT!

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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!

http://www.iamtroy.com/

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
http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/06/30/for-now-high-court-punts-on-troy-davis-on-death-row-for-18-years/

Take action now:
http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&aid=12361&ICID=A0906A01&tr=y&auid=5030305

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

New videos from April 24 Oakland Mumia event
http://abu-jamal-news.com/article?name=jlboak

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 501c)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

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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.
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTiAkbB5uC0&eurl
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
http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!

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KEVIN COOPER IS INNOCENT!
FLASHPOINTS Interview with Innocent San Quentin Death Row Inmate
Kevin Cooper -- Aired Monday, May 18,2009
http://www.flashpoints.net/#GOOGLE_SEARCH_ENGINE
To learn more about Kevin Cooper go to:
savekevincooper.org
LINKS
San Francisco Chronicle article on the recent ruling:
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/13/BAM517J8T3.DTL
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and dissent:
http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2009/05/11/05-99004o.pdf

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COURAGE TO RESIST!
Support the troops who refuse to fight!
http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/
Donate:
http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/content/view/21/57/

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C. ARTICLES IN FULL

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1) U.S. Job Losses in December Dim Hopes for Quick Upswing
By PETER S. GOODMAN
January 9, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/09/business/economy/09jobs.html?hp

2) Sexual Abuse at Juvenile Centers
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
National Briefing | Washington
January 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/us/08brfs-SEXUALABUSEA_BRF.html?ref=us

3) Invitation to Disaster
By BOB HERBERT
Op-Ed Columnist
January 9, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/09/opinion/09herbert.html?hp

4) Unions Oppose Possible Health Insurance Tax
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
January 9, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/09/business/09union.html?hp

5) Hospital Cuts Dialysis Care for the Poor in Miami
By KEVIN SACK
January 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/health/policy/08dialysis.html?ref=health

6) Banks Prepare for Bigger Bonuses, and Public's Wrath
By LOUISE STORY and ERIC DASH
January 10, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/business/10pay.html?hp

7) Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail
"'Because ICE investigates itself there is no transparency and there is no reform or improvement,' Chris Crane, a vice president in the union that represents employees of the agency's detention and removal operations, told a Congressional subcommittee on Dec. 10."
By NINA BERNSTEIN
January 10, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/us/10detain.html?hp

8) Ballot Issues Attest to Anger in California
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
January 10, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/us/10calif.html?hp

9) The Count
With Jobs Few, Most Workers Aren't Satisfied
By PHYLLIS KORKKI
January 10, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/business/economy/10count.html?ref=business

10) 1 in 5 Working-Age American Men Don't Have A Job
By Shahien Nasiripour
01-8-10 11:59 AM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/08/1-in-5-working-age-americ_n_415984.html

11) Military Is Awash in Data From Drones
By CHRISTOPHER DREW
January 11, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/11drone.html?hp

12) On Trial's Sidelines, Abortion Foes Are Divided
By MONICA DAVEY
January 11, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/us/11roeder.html?ref=us

13) Bringing Torture Home to Chicago's South Side
By PATRICK HEALY
January 11, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/theater/11conroy.html?ref=us

14) Large Price Jumps Reported for Small but Vital Drugs
"Most of the big price increases ranged from 100 percent to 499 percent, but some of the price increases were far larger, the investigators found. For instance, the prices of 26 brand-name drugs rose more than tenfold. The largest price increase found by the investigators was about 4,200 percent."
By GARDINER HARRIS
January 11, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/11price.html?ref=business

15) A Serious Proposal
[In this piece Time's most liberal op-ed contributor launches an attack on teachers. He places all the problems of public education on the plates of teachers who must work under the most devastating conditions of higher classroom size and increasingly stressed children whose parents are in financial crisis; while children's hunger rises astronomically to the point that half our children qualify for food aid. He makes no mention of these stresses and, clearly, how they hinder children's education. This is disgusting...bw]
By BOB HERBERT
Op-Ed Columnist
January 12, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/opinion/12herbert.html

16) Local 743 Members Unite to Say "We Won't Go Back"
Teamster Reformers Ousted in Power Grab
By Staff
Tuesday January 12, 2010
http://www.fightbacknews.org/2010/1/11/teamster-reformers-ousted-power-grab

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1) U.S. Job Losses in December Dim Hopes for Quick Upswing
By PETER S. GOODMAN
January 9, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/09/business/economy/09jobs.html?hp

The American economy lost another 85,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate remained at 10 percent, setting back hopes for a swift recovery from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

The latest monthly snapshot of the national job market released by the Labor Department on Friday provided one potentially encouraging milestone: Data for November was revised to show that the economy gained 4,000 net jobs that month, in contrast to initial reports showing a loss of 11,000 jobs. That marked the first monthly improvement since the recession began two years ago.

But the December data failed to repeat the trend, and the report disappointed economists who had generally been expecting a decline of perhaps 10,000 jobs.

The report broadly confirmed that while the pace of job market deterioration has declined markedly in recent months, companies remain reluctant to hire, heightening the likelihood that scarce paychecks will remain a dominant feature of American life for many months.

"We're still losing jobs," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. "It's nothing like we had in the freefall of last winter, but we're not about to turn around. We're still looking at a really weak economy."

The report intensified pressures on the Obama administration to show progress for the $787 million spending bill it championed last year to stimulate the economy. In recent months, the administration has emphasized initiatives aimed at encouraging jobs, while cognizant that concerns about the federal deficit limit its ability to pursue further spending.

"It certainly isn't the best report, because we continue to lose jobs," the Labor secretary Hilda L. Solis, said. "But last year at this time we were losing over 700,000 jobs a month. The recovery act continues to help."

Some economists fixed on a potentially positive trend tucked within the data: For a fifth consecutive month, temporary help services expanded, adding 47,000 positions in December. The increase burnished the notion that companies are recognizing fresh opportunities and are inclined to add labor, even as they hold off on hiring full-time workers.

"We're going in the right direction," said Michael T. Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners, a research and trading firm in Greenwich, Conn. "If we just have a little bit of patience, we'll start see monthly increases of 200,000 to 300,000 jobs within six months."

But in millions of households still grappling with the bite of a wrenching downturn, patience has long been exhausted - along with savings, credit and cash to pay the bills.

In Charlotte, N.C., Kumar G. Navile, 33, has applied for 500 positions across the country since he lost his job as an engineer a year ago. Each month, he finds himself about $600 short in his monthly expenses after the $1,680 he secures in unemployment benefits. He pays the difference from a savings account, but expects that money to dry up in the next two months.

"You get up every day and say today will be different, but it is mentally challenging when you don't find opportunities," Mr. Navile said. "I performed well in school. I got a job the day I graduated. It's been a struggle, and it continues to be."

For those out of work, the market is bleaker than ever. Unemployed people had been jobless for an average of 29 weeks in December, the longest duration since the government began tracking such data in 1948. Roughly 4 in 10 unemployed workers had been jobless for six months or longer.

In recent weeks, the number of new claims for unemployment insurance benefits has tailed off sharply. But the persistence of double-digit unemployment underscored that companies remain unwilling to add payroll.

"There is almost no hiring going on outside the temporary help sector," said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project. "Just slowing layoffs is not enough to produce jobs."

Indeed, even as temporary workers increased, the average workweek for rank-and-file employees - roughly 80 percent of the work force - was essentially unchanged in December, at 33.2 hours.

Amid the usual parsing of data that accompanies the monthly jobs report, the spinning of forecasts and dueling outlooks, no complexity cloaked the simple fact that employment remains scarce. Experts assume the economy needs to add about 100,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with new people entering the work force.

"There's really no dynamism in this economy," Mr. Baker said. "Most people, they're not looking at the data. They're just asking, 'Can I get a job?' And that's not getting any easier."

The government's monthly jobs report is always important, yet in recent times it has emerged as the crucial indicator of economic health.

For years, ordinary households have spent in excess of incomes by borrowing against the value of homes, leaning on credit cards and tapping stock portfolios. But home prices have plummeted in much of the country. Stock holdings have diminished. Nervous banks have sliced credit even for healthy borrowers. That has left the paycheck as the primary source of household finance in an economy in which consumer spending comprises roughly 70 percent of all activity.

Economists have grown increasingly divided over the nation's economic prospects. Some argue that recent expansion on the American factory floor presages broader economic improvement that will eventually deliver large numbers of jobs.

The December report failed to deliver clear evidence for that scenario, even as it saw the pace of job losses continue to slow. Construction lost another 53,000 jobs and manufacturing saw 27,000 positions disappear. Despite a surprisingly strong holiday shopping season, retail trade gave up 10,000 jobs in December.

Health care remained a rare bright spot, expanding by 22,000 jobs.

Skeptics argue that the factory expansion merely reflects a rebuilding of inventories after many businesses slashed stocks during the panic that accompanied the fall of prominent financial institutions such as Lehman Brothers in the fall of 2008. Expansion has also been aided by $787 billion in federal spending aimed at stimulating economic growth, and by tax credits for homebuyers.

Once these factors fade in coming months, skeptics argue, the economy will confront the same challenges that have dogged it for more than two years - strapped households fretting about debts and weak job prospects, curtailing spending; banks still worrying about losses to come on mortgage holdings, reluctant to lend; businesses unwilling to hire.

Those with the gloomiest outlooks envision a so-called double dip recession, in which the economy resumes contracting. Others fear years of stagnant growth much like Japan's Lost Decade in the 1990s.

The one point of agreement among economists is that the nation cannot recover without millions of new jobs. Workers must gain fresh wages they can spend at other businesses, creating jobs for other workers - a virtuous cycle, in the parlance of economists.

Recent months have produced tentative signs that such a cycle might be unfolding, even as economists debate its sustainability. The December jobs report only added to the ambiguity that now grips economic forecasting.

"Standing still feels good when you've been used to falling backwards," said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. "But we want to move forward."

Javier Hernandez contributed reporting.

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2) Sexual Abuse at Juvenile Centers
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
National Briefing | Washington
January 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/us/08brfs-SEXUALABUSEA_BRF.html?ref=us

A new government study found that 13 juvenile detention facilities around the country had high rates of sexual abuse and victimization, with nearly one of every three detainees reporting victimization. The Justice Department study found that nationwide, about 12 percent of youths in state-run, privately run, or local detention facilities reported some type of sexual victimization. Six sites had reported victimization rates of 30 percent or higher.

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3) Invitation to Disaster
By BOB HERBERT
Op-Ed Columnist
January 9, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/09/opinion/09herbert.html?hp

We didn't pay attention to the housing bubble. We closed our eyes to warnings that the levees in New Orleans were inadequate. We gave short shrift to reports that bin Laden was determined to attack the U.S. And now we're all but ignoring the fiscal train wreck that is coming from states with budget crises big enough to boggle the mind.

The states are in the worst fiscal shape since the Depression. The Great Recession has caused state tax revenues to fall off a cliff. Some states - New York and California come quickly to mind - are facing prolonged budget nightmares. Across the country, critical state services are being chopped like firewood. More cuts are coming. Taxes and fees are being raised. Yet the budgets in dozens and dozens of states remain drastically out of balance.

This is an arrow aimed straight at the heart of a robust national recovery. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has pointed out that if you add up the state budget gaps that have recently been plugged (in most cases, temporarily and haphazardly) and those that remain to be dealt with, you'll likely reach a staggering $350 billion for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years.

This is not a disaster waiting to happen. It's under way.

Without substantial new federal help, state cuts that are now merely drastic will become draconian, and hundreds of thousands of additional jobs will be lost. The suffering is already widespread. Some states have laid off or furloughed employees. Tens of thousands of teachers have been let go as cuts have been made to public schools and critically important preschool programs. California has bludgeoned its public higher education system, one of the finest in the world.

Michigan has cut some of the benefits it provided to middle-class families struggling with the costs of health care for severely disabled children - benefits that helped pay for such things as incontinence supplies and transportation to special care centers. The Grand Rapids Press quoted a state official who acknowledged that the cuts were "tough" and were hurting families. But he added, "The state simply doesn't have the money."

The collapse of state tax revenues caused by the recession is the sharpest on record. Steep budget cuts have not been enough to offset the unprecedented plunge in tax collections that resulted from unemployment and other aspects of the downturn. The shortfalls swept the nation. As the Rockefeller Institute of Government reported, "Total tax revenue declined in all 44 states for which comparable early data are available."

State governments are not without fault. Very few have been paragons of fiscal responsibility over the years. California is a well-known basket case. New York has a Legislature that is a laughingstock. But for the federal government to resist offering substantial additional help in the face of this growing crisis would be foolhardy. You can't have a healthy national economy while dozens of states are hooked up to life support.

The Center on Budget offered some insight into how the trouble in the states adds up to trouble for us all:

"Expenditure cuts are problematic policies during an economic downturn because they reduce overall demand and can make the downturn deeper. When states cut spending, they lay off employees, cancel contracts with vendors, eliminate or lower payments to businesses and nonprofit organizations that provide direct services, and cut benefit payments to individuals.

"In all of these circumstances, the companies and organizations that would have received government payments have less money to spend on salaries and supplies, and individuals who would have received salaries or benefits have less money for consumption. This directly removes demand from the economy."

The Obama administration has provided significant help to states through its stimulus program, and it has made a difference. It prevented the crisis from being much worse. But much of that assistance will run out by the end of the year and states are fashioning budgets right now that will absolutely hammer the quality of life for some of their most vulnerable residents.

New York's lieutenant governor, Richard Ravitch, has been trying to bring a measure of sanity to the state's budget process. But as he told me this week, without additional federal help, many states will have no choice but to impose extreme budget cuts, or raise taxes, or - most likely - do both.

We need more responsible and less wasteful fiscal behavior from all levels of government. But the country is still faced with a national economic emergency, with tens of millions out of work or underemployed. We can hardly afford any additional economic shocks. Turning our backs on the desperate trouble the states are in right now is nothing less than an utterly willful invitation to disaster.

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4) Unions Oppose Possible Health Insurance Tax
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
January 9, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/09/business/09union.html?hp

When millions of blue-collar workers were leaning toward John McCain during the 2008 campaign, labor unions moved many of them into Barack Obama's column by repeatedly hammering one theme: Mr. McCain wanted to tax their health benefits.

But now labor leaders are fuming that President Obama has endorsed a tax on high-priced, employer-sponsored health insurance policies as a way to help cover the cost of health care reform. And as Senate and House leaders seek to negotiate a final health care bill, unions are pushing mightily to have that tax dropped from the legislation. Or at the very least, they want the price threshold raised so that the tax would affect fewer workers.

Labor leaders say the tax would hit not only wealthy executives with expensive health benefits, but also many rank-and-file union members who have often settled for lower wage increases in exchange for more generous health benefits.

The tax would affect individual insurance policies with annual premiums above $8,500 and family policies above $23,000, which by one union survey would affect one in four union members.

The House bill does not contain such an excise tax, and many House Democrats oppose adding it to the combined House-Senate legislation. But the tax is a critical revenue component in the Senate's bill. If the bill does too little to cover its costs, it might be defeated. Many economists support the tax, saying it will help hold down costs.

With labor groups warning that the tax will infuriate a key part of the Democratic base - union members - President Obama has agreed to meet with several top labor leaders on Monday to address their concerns and try to defuse their anger. The group includes the presidents of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., Teamsters and the steelworkers' and service employees' unions.

But whether the tax is negotiable remains unclear. Not only has Mr. Obama specifically endorsed the idea, but the White House and Senate leaders see the tax as pivotal in paying for the health care overhaul and addressing runaway health care costs.

Many Democrats and union officials fear that if both sides dig in on the issue, it could create a rift between the White House and labor - with some union leaders hinting they might lobby aggressively against the entire health care bill if it contains such a tax.

Union leaders have repeatedly warned the White House about the strong rank-and-file dismay, which could hurt the Democrats in Congressional elections this fall, especially in battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Ron Gay, an AT&T repairman in Youngstown, Ohio, who spent much of the summer of 2008 urging co-workers to vote for Mr. Obama, said, "If this passes in its current form, a lot of working people are going to feel let down and betrayed by our legislators and president."

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 19 percent of workers - or about 30 million employees - would be affected by the tax in 2016. Economists say most of them would be nonunion, although it is organized labor that has the lobbying clout to take a stand.

In recent days, labor's strategy has become clear. Unions are urging their members to flood their representatives with e-mail messages and phone calls in the hope that the House will stand fast and reject the tax. The A.F.L.-C.I.O., a federation of nine million union members, has declared next Wednesday "National Call-In Day" asking workers to call their lawmakers to urge them not to tax health benefits. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is urging members to tell their representatives that "such a tax is simply a massive middle-class tax hike that this nation's working families should not be forced to endure."

Many Democrats fear that enacting the tax will hurt their re-election chances.

"This would really have a negative impact on the Democratic base," said Representative Joe Courtney, Democrat of Connecticut, who has enlisted 190 House Democrats to sign a letter opposing the tax. "As far as the message goes, it's a real toughie to defend."

While union leaders would prefer killing the tax, some say privately that they could live with it if the threshold is lifted to $27,000, say, or $30,000. They argue that many insurance policies above $23,000 are typical of the coverage in high-cost areas like New York or Boston, or policies that cover small businesses or employers with older workers.

According to a union survey, one in four members would be hit by a $23,000 threshold, but only one in 14 if the threshold were raised to $27,000.

White House officials, however, voice concern that raising the threshold that much would lose $50 billion of the $149 billion in revenue that the tax is expected to generate over 10 years.

Those officials and Senate leaders argue, moreover, that unions are wrong to fight the tax, saying that it will hold down health costs and that money employers save on health premiums will ultimately go to higher wages.

Some experts say the tax's main effect would be to deter insurers from continually raising premiums. "This is a tax on insurance companies, not on workers," said Erin Shields, an aide to Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a chief sponsor of the excise tax.

"Health care costs are rising much faster than inflation," Ms. Shields said. "Imposing this tax will help hold down costs because it will give employers an incentive to find a plan that falls beneath the threshold and will give insurers an incentive to offer the best possible plan below the threshold."

Ms. Shields defended Mr. Obama, saying the excise tax he backs is far different from Senator McCain's proposal. Mr. McCain called for eliminating tax breaks for employer-sponsored health benefits, replaced with a tax credit to help consumers obtain health insurance, Ms. Shields said.

She added that the measure Mr. Obama supports would tax only that part of a family policy above the $23,000 threshold - which would be taxed at a 40 percent rate.

But union officials say the tax will cause employers to push higher co-payments and deductibles onto their employees. They argue that a fairer way to generate revenue would be to embrace the House bill, which imposes an income tax surcharge on couples earning more than $1 million.

Neither the House nor the Senate would seem to have much wiggle room on the issue.

Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, has said he would oppose any bill containing the House's surtax. His vote was crucial in enabling Senate Democrats to reach the 60 votes needed to pass the health bill over a potential Republican filibuster.

The House bill, meanwhile, passed by only a five-vote margin, and at least three Democrats who voted for it - Mr. Courtney, Phil Hare of Illinois and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire - have said they would oppose a final bill if it contained an excise tax like the Senate version.

Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist, predicted the excise tax would raise workers' wages from 2010 to 2019. "There are many academic studies showing that when health costs rise, wages fall," he said. "In the mid- and late 1990s, when we got health costs under control, wages rose nicely." But he added that other factors could have also lifted wages during that period.

Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, scoffed at arguments that by restraining health costs, the tax would lead to higher wages.

"The people who are promoting this tax say companies will make up for this with higher wages," Mr. Gerard said. "These people who say that have never been at the bargaining table. It doesn't work that way."

Robert Gleason, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, said Mr. Obama had made an about-face that would badly hurt the president and other Democrats. "You remember when the first President Bush said, 'Read my lips, no new taxes,' and he raised taxes and he went down to defeat," he added. "This is the same thing."

Michael P. James, a 57-year-old steelworker with the Timken Company in Canton, Ohio, campaigned for Mr. Obama and is seething about the tax.

"I don't think we should be penalized by this bill," Mr. James said. "The president would be going back on his word. If he goes ahead and passes a bill with the excise tax, I won't be able to support him again."

David M. Herszenhorn contributed reporting.

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5) Hospital Cuts Dialysis Care for the Poor in Miami
By KEVIN SACK
January 8, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/health/policy/08dialysis.html?ref=health

To chip away at an overwhelming budget deficit, Miami's public hospital system stopped paying for kidney dialysis for the indigent this week, officials said, leaving some patients to rely on emergency rooms for their life-sustaining treatments.

A total of 175 patients were affected by the decision by Jackson Health System, which runs South Florida's largest charity hospital, Jackson Memorial, and a number of smaller hospitals and clinics.

The situation at Jackson is similar to that at Atlanta's public hospital, Grady Memorial, which closed its outpatient dialysis clinic in early October to curb costs.

At Jackson, officials said patients could come to the emergency room for treatment, and eight have this week. "That's the best we can do right now," said Dr. Eneida O. Roldan, Jackson's chief executive.

Federal law requires that emergency rooms treat patients in serious medical jeopardy, regardless of their ability to pay. For patients with end-stage kidney disease, going without dialysis can prove fatal in as little as two weeks.

To be treated in an emergency room, however, dialysis patients often must show up in severe distress. In an interview, Dr. Roldan said patients could be treated in Jackson's emergency room as often as three times a week, the national standard for continuing dialysis.

Dialysis provided through an emergency room admission is considerably more expensive than routine treatment at a clinic. But while Jackson was not reimbursed for treating uninsured patients at private clinics, it can receive emergency Medicaid payments for dialysis provided through emergency rooms.

The hospital's decision thus shifts the financial burden from Miami-Dade County taxpayers, who support Jackson's charity care through various levies, to the state and federal governments, which finance the Medicaid program.

Dr. Roldan said the hospital hoped that South Florida hospitals and dialysis providers would form a consortium to pay for the care of uninsured renal patients.

At Grady in Atlanta, most of the patients were illegal immigrants who were not eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. The hospital helped about 10 immigrants relocate to their home countries and paid for dialysis there for a transitional three-month period.

About 50 patients have remained in Atlanta because Grady offered to pay for their dialysis at commercial clinics until Jan. 3. This week, the hospital extended that deadline by a month.

Industry officials said they did not know of other hospitals that had ended dialysis services.

Unlike Grady, Jackson did not operate its own dialysis unit but rather paid private clinics to provide the service to indigent patients. The treatments run about $50,000 a year.

The hospital was losing more than $4 million a year on dialysis, contributing to a deficit approaching $200 million this fiscal year. Over the last year, the economy has generated a nearly 50 percent increase in uncompensated care, and the hospital is also closing two community clinics this week.

All but 41 of Jackson's 175 patients continue to be treated - at least for the short term - at the commercial clinics, hospital officials said.

Jackson discovered that some dialysis patients were eligible for government insurance. Others will be treated for a few more months because of contractual obligations.

Some clinics accepted small numbers of uninsurable patients as charity cases. One patient wed her boyfriend of two years to qualify for his health insurance, a clinic social worker said.

For the patients, including a dozen illegal immigrants, it is a time of worry. "My hair has been falling out," said one of them, Josefina Tello, 37, from Mexico. "From everything I'm seeing, the only choice is the emergency room."

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6) Banks Prepare for Bigger Bonuses, and Public's Wrath
By LOUISE STORY and ERIC DASH
January 10, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/business/10pay.html?hp

Everyone on Wall Street is fixated on The Number.

The bank bonus season, that annual rite of big money and bigger egos, begins in earnest this week, and it looks as if it will be one of the largest and most controversial blowouts the industry has ever seen.

Bank executives are grappling with a question that exasperates, even infuriates, many recession-weary Americans: Just how big should their paydays be? Despite calls for restraint from Washington and a chafed public, resurgent banks are preparing to pay out bonuses that rival those of the boom years. The haul, in cash and stock, will run into many billions of dollars.

Industry executives acknowledge that the numbers being tossed around - six-, seven- and even eight-figure sums for some chief executives and top producers - will probably stun the many Americans still hurting from the financial collapse and ensuing Great Recession.

Goldman Sachs is expected to pay its employees an average of about $595,000 apiece for 2009, one of the most profitable years in its 141-year history. Workers in the investment bank of JPMorgan Chase stand to collect about $463,000 on average.

Many executives are bracing for more scrutiny of pay from Washington, as well as from officials like Andrew M. Cuomo, the attorney general of New York, who last year demanded that banks disclose details about their bonus payments. Some bankers worry that the United States, like Britain, might create an extra tax on bank bonuses, and Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, is proposing legislation to do so.

Those worries aside, few banks are taking immediate steps to reduce bonuses substantially. Instead, Wall Street is confronting a dilemma of riches: How to wrap its eye-popping paychecks in a mantle of moderation. Because of the potential blowback, some major banks are adjusting their pay practices, paring or even eliminating some cash bonuses in favor of stock awards and reducing the portion of their revenue earmarked for pay.

Some bank executives contend that financial institutions are beginning to recognize that they must recalibrate pay for a post-bailout world.

"The debate has shifted in the last nine months or so from just 'less cash, more stock' to 'what's the overall number?' " said Robert P. Kelly, the chairman and chief executive of the Bank of New York Mellon. Like many other bank chiefs, Mr. Kelly favors rewarding employees with more long-term stock and less cash to tether their fortunes to the success of their companies.

Though Wall Street bankers and traders earn six-figure base salaries, they generally receive most of their pay as a bonus based on the previous year's performance. While average bonuses are expected to hover around half a million dollars, they will not be evenly distributed. Senior banking executives and top Wall Street producers expect to reap millions. Last year, the big winners were bond and currency traders, as well as investment bankers specializing in health care.

Even some industry veterans warn that such paydays could further tarnish the financial industry's sullied reputation. John S. Reed, a founder of Citigroup, said Wall Street would not fully regain the public's trust until banks scaled back bonuses for good - something that, to many, seems a distant prospect.

"There is nothing I've seen that gives me the slightest feeling that these people have learned anything from the crisis," Mr. Reed said. "They just don't get it. They are off in a different world."

The power that the federal government once had over banker pay has waned in recent months as most big banks have started repaying the billions of dollars in federal aid that propped them up during the crisis. All have benefited from an array of federal programs and low interest rate policies that enabled the industry to roar back in profitability in 2009.

This year, compensation will again eat up much of Wall Street's revenue. During the first nine months of 2009, five of the largest banks that received federal aid - Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley - together set aside about $90 billion for compensation. That figure includes salaries, benefits and bonuses, but at several companies, bonuses make up more than half of compensation.

Goldman broke with its peers in December and announced that its top 30 executives would be paid only in stock. Nearly everyone on Wall Street is waiting to see how much stock is awarded to Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman's chairman and chief executive, who is a lightning rod for criticism over executive pay. In 2007, Mr. Blankfein was paid $68 million, a Wall Street record. He did not receive a bonus in 2008.

Goldman put aside $16.7 billion for compensation during the first nine months of 2009.

Responding to criticism over its pay practices, Goldman has already begun decreasing the percentage of revenue that it pays to employees. The bank set aside 50 percent in the first quarter, but that figure fell to 48 percent and then to 43 percent in the next two quarters.

JPMorgan executives and board members have also been wrestling with how much pay is appropriate.

"There are legitimate conflicts between the firm feeling like it is performing well and the public's prevailing view that the Street was bailed out," said one senior JPMorgan executive who was not authorized to speak for the company.

JPMorgan's investment bank, which employs about 25,000 people, has already reduced the share of revenue going to the compensation pool, from 40 percent in the first quarter to 37 percent in the third quarter.

At Bank of America, traders and bankers are wondering how much Brian T. Moynihan, the bank's new chief, will be awarded for 2010. Bank of America, which is still absorbing Merrill Lynch, is expected to pay large bonuses, given the bank's sizable trading profits.

Bank of America has also introduced provisions that would enable it to reclaim employees' pay in the event that the bank's business sours, and it is increasing the percentage of bonuses paid in the form of stock.

"We're paying for results, and there were some areas of the company that had terrific results, and they will be compensated for that," said Bob Stickler, a Bank of America spokesman.

At Morgan Stanley, which has had weaker trading revenue than the other banks, managers are focusing on how to pay stars in line with the industry. The bank created a pay program this year for its top 25 workers, tying a fifth of their deferred pay to metrics based on the company's later performance.

A company spokesman, Mark Lake, said: "Morgan Stanley's board and management clearly understands the extraordinary environment in which we operate and, as a result, have made a series of changes to the firm's compensation practices."

The top 25 executives will be paid mostly in stock and deferred cash payments. John J. Mack, the chairman, is forgoing a bonus. He retired as chief executive at the end of 2009.

At Citigroup, whose sprawling consumer banking business is still ailing, some managers were disappointed in recent weeks by the preliminary estimates of their bonus pools, according to people familiar with the matter. Citigroup's overall 2009 bonus pool is expected to be about $5.3 billion, about the same as it was for 2008, although the bank has far fewer employees.

The highest bonus awarded to a Citigroup executive is already known: The bank said in a regulatory filing last week that the head of its investment bank, John Havens, would receive $9 million in stock. But the bank's chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit, is forgoing a bonus and taking a salary of just $1.

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7) Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail
"'Because ICE investigates itself there is no transparency and there is no reform or improvement,' Chris Crane, a vice president in the union that represents employees of the agency's detention and removal operations, told a Congressional subcommittee on Dec. 10."
By NINA BERNSTEIN
January 10, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/us/10detain.html?hp

Silence has long shrouded the men and women who die in the nation's immigration jails. For years, they went uncounted and unnamed in the public record. Even in 2008, when The New York Times obtained and published a federal government list of such deaths, few facts were available about who these people were and how they died.

But behind the scenes, it is now clear, the deaths had already generated thousands of pages of government documents, including scathing investigative reports that were kept under wraps, and a trail of confidential memos and BlackBerry messages that show officials working to stymie outside inquiry.

The documents, obtained over recent months by The Times and the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act, concern most of the 107 deaths in detention counted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement since October 2003, after the agency was created within the Department of Homeland Security.

The Obama administration has vowed to overhaul immigration detention, a haphazard network of privately run jails, federal centers and county cells where the government holds noncitizens while it tries to deport them.

But as the administration moves to increase oversight within the agency, the documents show how officials - some still in key positions - used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse.

As one man lay dying of head injuries suffered in a New Jersey immigration jail in 2007, for example, a spokesman for the federal agency told The Times that he could learn nothing about the case from government authorities. In fact, the records show, the spokesman had alerted those officials to the reporter's inquiry, and they conferred at length about sending the man back to Africa to avoid embarrassing publicity.

In another case that year, investigators from the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that unbearable, untreated pain had been a significant factor in the suicide of a 22-year-old detainee at the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey, and that the medical unit was so poorly run that other detainees were at risk.

The investigation found that jail medical personnel had falsified a medication log to show that the detainee, a Salvadoran named Nery Romero, had been given Motrin. The fake entry was easy to detect: When the drug was supposedly administered, Mr. Romero was already dead.

Yet those findings were never disclosed to the public or to Mr. Romero's relatives on Long Island, who had accused the jail of abruptly depriving him of his prescription painkiller for a broken leg. And an agency supervisor wrote that because other jails were "finicky" about accepting detainees with known medical problems like Mr. Romero's, such people would continue to be placed at the Bergen jail as "a last resort."

In a recent interview, Benjamin Feldman, a spokesman for the jail, which housed 1,503 immigration detainees last year, would not say whether any changes had been made since the death.

In February 2007, in the case of the dying African man, the immigration agency's spokesman for the Northeast, Michael Gilhooly, rebuffed a Times reporter's questions about the detainee, who had suffered a skull fracture at the privately run Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey. Mr. Gilhooly said that without a full name and alien registration number for the man, he could not check on the case.

But, records show, he had already filed a report warning top managers at the federal agency about the reporter's interest and sharing information about the injured man, a Guinean tailor named Boubacar Bah. Mr. Bah, 52, had been left in an isolation cell without treatment for more than 13 hours before an ambulance was called.

While he lay in the hospital in a coma after emergency brain surgery, 10 agency managers in Washington and Newark conferred by telephone and e-mail about how to avoid the cost of his care and the likelihood of "increased scrutiny and/or media exposure," according to a memo summarizing the discussion.

One option they explored was sending the dying man to Guinea, despite an e-mail message from the supervising deportation officer, who wrote, "I don't condone removal in his present state as he has a catheter" and was unconscious. Another idea was renewing Mr. Bah's canceled work permit in hopes of tapping into Medicaid or disability benefits.

Eventually, faced with paying $10,000 a month for nursing home care, officials settled on a third course: "humanitarian release" to cousins in New York who had protested that they had no way to care for him. But days before the planned release, Mr. Bah died.

Among the participants in the conferences was Nina Dozoretz, a longtime manager in the agency's Division of Immigration Health Services who had won an award for cutting detainee health care costs. Later she was vice president of the Nakamoto Group, a company hired by the Bush administration to monitor detention. The Obama administration recently rehired her to lead its overhaul of detainee health care.

Asked about the conference call on Mr. Bah, Ms. Dozoretz said: "How many years ago was that? I don't recall all the specifics if indeed there was a call." She added, "I advise you to contact our public affairs office." Mr. Gilhooly, the spokesman who had said he had no information on the case, would not comment.

On the day after Mr. Bah's death in May 2007, Scott Weber, director of the Newark field office of the immigration enforcement agency, recommended in a memo that the agency take the unusual step of paying to send the body to Guinea for burial, to prevent his widow from showing up in the United States for a funeral and drawing news coverage.

Mr. Weber wrote that he believed the agency had handled Mr. Bah's case appropriately. "However," he added, "I also don't want to stir up any media interest where none is warranted." Helping to bury Mr. Bah overseas, he wrote, "will go a long way to putting this matter to rest."

In the agency's confidential files was a jail video showing Mr. Bah face down in the medical unit, hands cuffed behind his back, just before medical personnel sent him to a disciplinary cell. The tape shows him crying out repeatedly in his native Fulani, "Help, they are killing me!"

Almost a year after his death, the agency quietly closed the case without action. But Mr. Bah's name had shown up on the first list of detention fatalities, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and on May 5, 2008, his death was the subject of a front-page article in The Times.

Brian P. Hale, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an interview that the newly disclosed records represented the past, and that the agency's new leaders were committed to transparency and greater oversight, including prompt public disclosure and investigation of every death, and more attention to detainee care in a better-managed system.

But the most recent documents show that the culture of secrecy has endured. And the past cover-ups underscore what some of the agency's own employees say is a central flaw in the proposed overhaul: a reliance on the agency to oversee itself.

"Because ICE investigates itself there is no transparency and there is no reform or improvement," Chris Crane, a vice president in the union that represents employees of the agency's detention and removal operations, told a Congressional subcommittee on Dec. 10.

The agency has kept a database of detention fatalities at least since December 2005, when a National Public Radio investigation spurred a Congressional inquiry. In 2006, the agency issued standard procedures for all such deaths to be reported in detail to headquarters.

But internal documents suggest that officials were intensely concerned with controlling public information. In April 2007, Marc Raimondi, then an agency spokesman, warned top managers that a Washington Post reporter had asked about a list of 19 deaths that the civil liberties union had compiled, and about a dying man whose penile cancer had spread after going undiagnosed in detention, despite numerous medical requests for a biopsy.

"These are quite horrible medical stories," Mr. Raimondi wrote, "and I think we'll need to have a pretty strong response to keep this from becoming a very damaging national story that takes on long legs."

That response was an all-out defense of detainee medical care over several months, including statistics that appeared to show that mortality rates in detention were declining, and were low compared with death rates in prisons.

Experts in detention health care called the comparison misleading; it also came to light that the agency was undercounting the number of detention deaths, as well as discharging some detainees shortly before they died. In August, litigation by the civil liberties union prompted the Obama administration to disclose that more than one in 10 immigrant detention deaths had been overlooked and omitted from a list submitted to Congress last year.

Two of those deaths had occurred in Arizona, in 2004 and 2007, at the Eloy Detention Center, run by the Corrections Corporation of America. Eloy had nine known fatalities - more than any other immigration jail under contract to the federal government. But Immigration and Customs Enforcement was still secretive. When a reporter for The Arizona Republic asked about the circumstances of those deaths, an agency spokesman told him the records were unavailable.

According to records The Times obtained in December, one Eloy detainee who died, in October 2008, was Emmanuel Owusu. An ailing 62-year-old barber who had arrived from Ghana on a student visa in 1972, he had been a legal permanent resident for 33 years, mostly in Chicago. Immigration authorities detained him in 2006, based on a 1979 conviction for misdemeanor battery and retail theft.

"I am confused as to how subject came into our custody???" the Phoenix field office director, Katrina S. Kane, wrote to subordinates. "Convicted in 1979? That's a long time ago."

In response, a report on his death was revised to refer to Mr. Owusu's "lengthy criminal history ranging from 1977 to 1998." It did not note that except for the battery conviction, that history consisted mostly of shoplifting offenses.

A diabetic with high blood pressure, he had been detained for two years at Eloy while he battled deportation. He died of a heart ailment weeks after his last appeal was dismissed.

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8) Ballot Issues Attest to Anger in California
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
January 10, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/us/10calif.html?hp

LOS ANGELES - From San Diego to Mount Shasta, voters are expressing mounting disgust over California's fiscal meltdown and deteriorating services, and they are offering scores of voter initiatives that seek to change the way the state does business.

Over 30 such initiatives - among over 60 total initiatives so far - are now wending their way toward the ballot box. Every day, it seems another vexed voter adds a proposal to the fray.

Some verge on the radical, like one to establish the state's first constitutional convention in over a century, to rewrite California's most fundamental legislative rules. There are initiatives in circulation that would reduce the time the Legislature is in session, punish legislators for late budgets and criminalize "false statements about legislative acts."

Other states, of course, are also suffering through red ink, but none have quite the same mechanism as California's to let voters get involved with the process. Despite the fact that past initiatives helped get California into its budget crisis - forcing spending in some areas while limiting taxation in others - the pileup of new ones suggests that many voters still believe they hold the solution to the state's mess. Few seem to believe that elected officials are up to the job.

Some initiatives, in fact, could even limit the initiative process itself, or erase old ones.

The number of initiatives so far, while high, is not the largest in history. But the rage that underlies them has not been seen in decades, said lawmakers, pollsters, political consultants and the proponents.

"The feeling is one of revolt," said John Grubb, the campaign director for Repair California, a coalition behind a pair of initiatives to call a constitutional convention. "And come January, they will start negotiating the budget again, and there will be more fear and loathing. The feeling here is that California state government is broken, and we need not a little fix, but a big fix."

Most of the initiatives seek a spot on the November ballot, when voters will choose a new governor and other statewide officials. And while many of the measures will fail to get enough signatures to make it to Election Day, the sheer number of change-centered ideas reflects California voters' frustration.

In 2009, lawmakers struggled to close billions of dollars' worth of budget gaps. The net result was service reductions - from longer lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles to the loss of dental benefits for Medicaid recipients - as well as widespread furloughs for state workers and the rare use of i.o.u.'s issued to vendors and residents who were owed tax refunds.

But California is still projected to be $20 billion in the red over the next 18 months, and some state services are already showing the scars from their cuts.

The public university system, once the crown jewel of California, is struggling with layoffs, tuition increases and outright student and faculty revolts. In the public secondary schools, classroom sizes have swelled and program cuts are rampant.

And everything costs more: sales taxes went up last year, as did many user fees.

On Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released his latest executive budget, with pay reductions for state workers and more draconian service cuts.

California voters are distinctly unimpressed with the roles played in the crisis by the governor and legislators. Many lawmakers cater to the fringe elements of their respective political parties and are beholden to special interests that finance their campaigns. A paltry 13 percent of registered voters approve of the job the Legislature does, according to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

And so the efforts to take matters into their own hands.

"It is a very California moment," said Robert Hertzberg, co-chairman of California Forward, a group of business, political and academic leaders that seeks to change the state's budget processes. "It is almost like there are a bunch of weapons on the battlefield, and the bullets will be the funding of these initiatives."

The governor has embraced California Forward's proposals.

To get an initiative on the ballot, a person or group pays a $200 fee, gets approval of the text from the state attorney general's office, and then has 150 days to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures, which must be rigorously verified against voter registration records.

Throughout the decades, initiatives have followed the changing concerns of voters. In the 1930s, for instance, many dealt with liquor regulations, and in the 1970s and early '80s, taxation was a principal concern. The most famous initiative of that era was Proposition 13, which put a cap on property taxes. In the past 20 years, criminal justice and civil rights issues have often been on the ballot.

"Government reform has been a repeated theme over time," said Nicole Winger, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, which manages the initiative process. "Now those measures are on the rise again."

The initiatives concerning the state budget are most in the spotlight, particularly the one that calls for a convention to rewrite the state's constitution. Delegates to such a convention would quite likely change the law requiring a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to pass a budget, and they could impose limitations on the initiative process and undo earlier initiatives that require spending for certain programs.

A constitutional convention could also alter the balance of power between state and local governments by giving cities greater control over their portion of the state budget. Many critics of the current system deplore Sacramento's centralized spending power and policy making for issues like education and local public safety.

Other ballot efforts would put stringent spending limits on the government, require a rainy-day fund and end $2 billion in corporate tax breaks.

Much of the anger in the ballot ideas is aimed straight at the Legislature. There are proposals to cut the pay of lawmakers in half and to prohibit them from voting on legislation that would have a financial impact on their contributors. (One that would force them to get drug tests recently failed to pass muster.)

Gabriella Holt, president of Citizens for California Reform, an advocacy group behind proposals to cut the pay of the Legislature and shorten its term, said, "We decided we should put the question to voters."

"I think people are very, very angry and very, very frustrated," Ms. Holt added, "and they want to send a message that they want to take back their government."

Placing the Legislature in the ballot cross hairs may be of questionable effectiveness. But last spring, the only one of six ballot measures to succeed was one that prevented lawmakers and other high-ranking officials from getting raises in times of fiscal distress.

One initiative would even redraw the boundaries of Congressional districts, in order to make those races more competitive.

"There is a great deal of voter unhappiness with the dysfunction of their Legislature generally," said the plan's proponent, Charles T. Munger, who donated more than $1 million toward a successful 2008 initiative to redraw state legislative districts, "and some of that is fueling the general voter's desire to see reform of the political process."

He added: "The gerrymandering of districts is a national problem. But this is my state, and I am trying to fix it here."

Whatever the outcome of these initiatives, the end of the year is almost certain to bring change to California, whether it is modest adjustments to the way the state passes its budget or a full-scale constitutional convention.

"Lots of people are unhappy, but for so many different and conflicting reasons that it is hard to envision where we will end up," said Bruce E. Cain, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley. "It could be a chaotic jumble."

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9) The Count
With Jobs Few, Most Workers Aren't Satisfied
By PHYLLIS KORKKI
January 10, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/business/economy/10count.html?ref=business

Beneath the high unemployment rate lurks a simmering discontent - among people who still have jobs.

A new survey by the Conference Board found that only 45 percent of people were satisfied with their jobs, compared with 61 percent in 1987, the first year the survey was done.

It stands to reason that if fewer jobs are available, more people will be stuck in jobs they dislike. And the recession may indeed be a factor in the low number for 2009.

But job satisfaction has been trending downward through booms and busts, the Conference Board notes, and "no age or income group is immune."

Is American work inherently less satisfying now, or do more workers feel entitled to a job that seems like a walk in the park?

Whatever the reason, expect some turnover once the jobless rate falls and more workers feel free to release themselves from their current workplace shackles.

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10) 1 in 5 Working-Age American Men Don't Have A Job
By Shahien Nasiripour
01-8-10 11:59 AM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/08/1-in-5-working-age-americ_n_415984.html

One in five working-age American men does not have a job, according to the latest federal employment numbers, an all-time high that illustrates the extraordinary toll this recession has taken on male-dominated professions in particular.

Men are more likely to work in sectors like manufacturing and construction that are more sensitive to economic downturns. But this downturn has been particularly brutal on those industries, leading some observers to call it a "mancession."

Only 80.3 percent of men age 25-54 had jobs in December -- the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started collecting that data in 1948 -- at which point the figure was 94.4 percent. When the recession began in December 2007, less than 13 percent of men in this age bracket were out of work.

The numbers are derived from what the BLS calls its employment-to-population ratio. While the non-working number in this case includes men who have voluntarily chosen to stay out of the workforce, such as students and stay-at-home dads, in many ways it provides a clearer picture of the depth of the nation's unemployment situation.

The percentage of women age 25-54 who have work is also down, but not as dramatically. Some 69.1 percent of those women are employed, about the same as in 1998. Women dominate the fields such as education, health services and government. The health industry and government payrolls are booming, and are expected to continue growing, thanks to an aging population and recently-enacted stimulus programs to boost the economy, respectively.

Overall, the percentage of Americans over age 16 that holds a job continues to slide, reaching 58.2 percent. That's a 25-year-low.

"It is striking that we have managed to reverse more than 26 years of increasing labor force participation in this downturn," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Economic and Policy Research. "It will take a long time for workers to get over the effects of this recession."

The official unemployment rate, which doesn't include people who are underemployed or who have given up looking for work, remained at 10 percent.
Story continues below

According to the BLS, employers nationwide shed an additional 85,000 jobs in December. Analysts had predicted a decline of just 10,000 jobs.

The extent of the job losses indicates that the optimism generated by last month's slight dip in the unemployment rate (from 10.2 to 10 percent) may have been unfounded. Revised figures released today show an actual increase of 4,000 jobs in November - but that's now been offset 20 times over in December.

More than 6.3 million people are looking for jobs, according to the new figures, a 14 percent increase from December 2008.

Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, points out that 1.9 million workers have left the labor force since May. These are people who are either seeking work or working. More than 660,000 workers left the labor force between November and December alone.

"Absent this flight from the labor market the unemployment rate would have risen substantially in December, up 0.4 percent, rather than hold steady," he said in an e-mail.

Mishel also notes that the population has grown, which should have led to a rise in the labor force. Instead, just the opposite has happened. He writes:

"Over the last year, the working age population grew by 0.8 percent, so we would have expected a growth in the labor force, those working or seeking work, by 1.2 million people. Instead, the labor force fell 1.5 million, indicating that the labor force is missing 2.7 million people, more than half of whom abandoned the labor force. The erosion of the labor force started occurring after May, with 271,000 withdrawing each month for the last seven months. Two-thirds of those fleeing the labor market since May have been adult men."

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11) Military Is Awash in Data From Drones
By CHRISTOPHER DREW
January 11, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/11drone.html?hp

HAMPTON, Va. - As the military rushes to place more spy drones over Afghanistan, the remote-controlled planes are producing so much video intelligence that analysts are finding it more and more difficult to keep up.

Air Force drones collected nearly three times as much video over Afghanistan and Iraq last year as in 2007 - about 24 years' worth if watched continuously. That volume is expected to multiply in the coming years as drones are added to the fleet and as some start using multiple cameras to shoot in many directions.

A group of young analysts already watches every second of the footage live as it is streamed to Langley Air Force Base here and to other intelligence centers, and they quickly pass warnings about insurgents and roadside bombs to troops in the field.

But military officials also see much potential in using the archives of video collected by the drones for later analysis, like searching for patterns of insurgent activity over time. To date, only a small fraction of the stored video has been retrieved for such intelligence purposes.

Government agencies are still having trouble making sense of the flood of data they collect for intelligence purposes, a point underscored by the 9/11 Commission and, more recently, by President Obama after the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound passenger flight on Christmas Day.

Mindful of those lapses, the Air Force and other military units are trying to prevent an overload of video collected by the drones, and they are turning to the television industry to learn how to quickly share video clips and display a mix of data in ways that make analysis faster and easier.

They are even testing some of the splashier techniques used by broadcasters, like the telestrator that John Madden popularized for scrawling football plays. It could be used to warn troops about a threatening vehicle or to circle a compound that a drone should attack.

"Imagine you are tuning in to a football game without all the graphics," said Lucius Stone, an executive at Harris Broadcast Communications, a provider of commercial technology that is working with the military. "You don't know what the score is. You don't know what the down is. It's just raw video. And that's how the guys in the military have been using it."

The demand for the Predator and Reaper drones has surged since the terror attacks in 2001, and they have become among the most critical weapons for hunting insurgent leaders and protecting allied forces.

The military relies on the video feeds to catch insurgents burying roadside bombs and to find their houses or weapons caches. Most commanders are now reluctant to send a convoy down a road without an armed drone watching over it.

The Army, the Marines and the special forces are also deploying hundreds of smaller surveillance drones. And the C.I.A. uses drones to mount missile strikes against Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan.

Air Force officials, who take the lead in analyzing the video from Iraq and Afghanistan, say they have managed to keep up with the most urgent assignments. And it was clear, on a visit to the analysis center in an old hangar here, that they were often able to correlate the video data with clues in still images and intercepted phone conversations to build a fuller picture of the biggest threats.

But as the Obama administration sends more troops to Afghanistan, the task of monitoring the video will become more challenging.

Instead of carrying just one camera, the Reaper drones, which are newer and larger than the Predators, will soon be able to record video in 10 directions at once. By 2011, that will increase to 30 directions with plans for as many as 65 after that. Even the Air Force's top intelligence official, Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, says it could soon be "swimming in sensors and drowning in data."

He said the Air Force would have to funnel many of those feeds directly to ground troops to keep from overwhelming its intelligence centers. He said the Air Force was working more closely with field commanders to identify the most important targets, and it was adding 2,500 analysts to help handle the growing volume of data.

With a new $500 million computer system that is being installed now, the Air Force will be able to start using some of the television techniques and to send out automatic alerts when important information comes in, complete with highlight clips and even text and graphics.

"If automation can provide a cue for our people that would make better use of their time, that would help us significantly," said Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force's chief of staff.

Officials acknowledge that in many ways, the military is just catching up to features that have long been familiar to users of YouTube and Google.

John R. Peele, a chief in the counterterrorism office at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which helps the Air Force analyze videos, said the drones "proliferated so quickly, and we didn't have very much experience using them.

"So we're kind of learning as we go along which tools would be helpful," he said.

But Mark A. Bigham, an executive at Raytheon, which designed the new computer system, said the Air Force had actually moved more quickly than most intelligence agencies to create Weblike networks where data could be shared easily among analysts.

In fact, it has relayed drone video to the United States and Europe for analysis for more than a decade. The operations, which now include 4,000 airmen, are headquartered at the base here, where three analysts watch the live feed from a drone.

One never takes his eyes off the monitor, calling out possible threats to his partners, who immediately pass alerts to the field via computer chat rooms and snap screenshots of the most valuable images.

"It's mostly through the chat rooms - that's how we're fighting these days," said Col. Daniel R. Johnson, who runs the intelligence centers.

He said other analysts, mostly enlisted men and women in their early 20s, studied the hundreds of still images and phone calls captured each day by U-2s and other planes and sent out follow-up reports melding all the data.

Mr. Bigham, the Raytheon executive, said the new system would help speed that process. He said it would also tag basic data, like the geographic coordinates and the chat room discussions, and alert officials throughout the military who might want to call up the videos for further study.

But while the biggest timesaver would be to automatically scan the video for trucks and armed men, that software is not yet reliable. And the military has run into the same problem that the broadcast industry has in trying to pick out football players swarming on a tackle.

So Cmdr. Joseph A. Smith, a Navy officer assigned to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which sets standards for video intelligence, said he and other officials had climbed into broadcast trucks outside football stadiums to learn how the networks tagged and retrieved highlight film.

"There are these three guys who sit in the back of an ESPN or Fox Sports van, and every time Tom Brady comes on the screen, they tap a button so that Tom Brady is marked," Commander Smith said, referring to the New England Patriots quarterback. Then, to call up the highlights later, he said, "they just type in: 'Tom Brady, touchdown pass.' "

Lt. Col. Brendan M. Harris, who is in charge of an intelligence squadron here, said his analysts could do that. He said the Air Force had just installed telestrators on its latest hand-held video receiver, and harried officers in the field would soon be able to simply circle the images of trucks or individuals they wanted the drones to follow.

But Colonel Harris also said that the drones often shot gray-toned video with infrared cameras that was harder to decipher than color shots. And when force is potentially involved, he said, there will be limits on what automated systems are allowed to do.

"You need somebody who's trained and is accountable in recognizing that that is a woman, that is a child and that is someone who's carrying a weapon," he said. "And the best tools for that are still the eyeball and the human brain."

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12) On Trial's Sidelines, Abortion Foes Are Divided
By MONICA DAVEY
January 11, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/us/11roeder.html?ref=us

When the trial of the man accused of murdering a doctor who performed late-term abortions begins on Monday in Wichita, Kan., Troy Newman, the leader of Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group with headquarters a few miles from the courthouse, says he will most likely be at his desk, as usual, and certainly nowhere near the courtroom.

National groups like Mr. Newman's have publicly denounced the defendant, Scott Roeder, an abortion opponent accused of shooting the victim, Dr. George R. Tiller, as he served as an usher in his church last May.

"This trial isn't meaningful for the movement," Mr. Newman said last week. "What happened is antithetical to the Christian cause and to the stated foundation principles of pro-life."

But for a contingent of abortion opponents - those who argue that the killing of an abortion doctor can be considered justified by the abortions it prevents - Mr. Roeder's case has become a rallying point.

"He's a hero," said Regina Dinwiddie, a longtime abortion opponent from Kansas City, Kan., who was once ordered by a federal judge to stop using a bullhorn within 500 feet of abortion clinics. "His case is certainly the most important in my lifetime," added Ms. Dinwiddie, who said she and several others intended to travel to Wichita for the trial.

In a way, Mr. Roeder's trial would appear open and shut: prosecutors plan to call church members who say they saw Mr. Roeder walk into the church foyer, fire a gun into Dr. Tiller's head and run away. And though jurors may not be told as much in court, Mr. Roeder has admitted to the shooting in jailhouse interviews and, as recently as last week, in a 104-page legal memorandum he filed himself to the judge.

Yet Mr. Roeder, who has pleaded not guilty, and his supporters have made it clear that they hope the trial will focus less on who killed Dr. Tiller than why - in essence, an effort to send the jury on a broader examination of abortion and the practices of one of the few doctors in the country who was known to provide abortions into the third trimester of pregnancy.

The judge in the case, Warren Wilbert of Sedgwick County District Court, has said he will not allow the case to be transformed into a trial on abortion. But he also indicated late last week that he might allow jurors to consider a defense theory by which Mr. Roeder could be convicted of voluntary manslaughter if jurors were to conclude that Mr. Roeder had, as Kansas law defines it, "an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force."

Judge Wilbert rejected Mr. Roeder's efforts to present a so-called necessity defense, pursuing an acquittal on the basis that he was justified in his actions to prevent some greater harm. Still, the possibility now that jurors may be allowed to consider voluntary manslaughter, which carries a far shorter sentence than the life imprisonment he could face if convicted of first-degree murder, was seen as a victory for Mr. Roeder and a chance for his public defenders to lay out his views on abortion at the trial.

Advocates of abortion rights said that even allowing the argument to be presented in court was appalling and dangerous. In a statement, Katherine Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, said allowing such a defense would "embolden anti-abortion extremists and could result in 'open season' on doctors across the country."

For the city of Wichita, the prospect of Mr. Roeder's trial, which may last as long as three weeks, marks an anxious final chapter in a fight that some residents said they wished had never begun. The conservative city of 357,000 has found itself at the volatile center of the abortion debate for three decades, in large part because of opposition to Dr. Tiller's clinic, which has closed since his death. Over the years, there were protests, violence (including a 1993 shooting that wounded Dr. Tiller in both arms) and trials, including one in early 2009 in which Dr. Tiller was acquitted of misdemeanor violations of the state's late-term abortion law. Mr. Roeder, 51 and a regular protester at clinics near his home in Kansas City, Mo., had attended part of that trial.

In one indication of the level of tension now, court officials announced late Friday that jury selection would be closed from public view. Even audio recordings of the proceedings will not be provided to the news media, a statement issued by the court said, "based on concerns over the chilling effect this might have on juror candor in the case." Prospective jurors are expected to be asked about their views on abortion, lawyers involved have said.

Security is expected to be tight, and some among those who could be ordered to attend the trial include figures well-known in the abortion fight here. Prosecutors have drawn up a list of hundreds of potential witnesses, including Shelley Shannon, who was imprisoned for the earlier shooting of Dr. Tiller. Among those subpoenaed by the defense is Phill Kline, the former attorney general of Kansas and a vehement abortion opponent who had vigorously investigated Dr. Tiller.

The case is certain to underscore divisions among some opponents of abortion - like those between Mr. Newman, of Operation Rescue, and Ms. Dinwiddie, who says she supports a "Defensive Action Statement," a 1990s-era public declaration in support of those who have committed violence against abortion doctors, arguing that such violence can be justified by the lives saved.

For his part, Mr. Newman discounts those opponents, describing their numbers as minute (a "handful of people," he says) and them as "loons" and "wing nuts" whose outlier views flatly conflict with advocacy of life.

Ms. Dinwiddie, meanwhile, calls anti-abortion leaders who, like Mr. Newman, denounce Mr. Roeder "abortion profiteers" who are "running like roaches" away from a crucial trial of their own cause. "He didn't murder the mailman," Ms. Dinwiddie said.

Dave Leach, an abortion opponent from Des Moines who drafted a new "Defensive Action Statement" in connection with Mr. Roeder's situation and has sought people willing to back it publicly, says he, too, hopes to attend Mr. Roeder's trial to offer his support. (He says about 20 people have signed on to his statement.)

Mr. Roeder's supporters tried to raise money for his defense with an auction of anti-abortion materials (including a Bible once owned by Ms. Shannon), but eBay would not allow it.

Mr. Leach said he talked to Mr. Roeder by phone from jail once or twice a week.

Mr. Newman said he, too, had heard from Mr. Roeder, in a letter from jail. "He was rebuking me for not being supportive, for 'being a hypocrite,' " said Mr. Newman, who said he had met Mr. Roeder before the shooting but barely knew him.

Mr. Newman said he had forwarded the letter to the prosecutor.

Joe Stumpe contributed reporting from Wichita.

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13) Bringing Torture Home to Chicago's South Side
By PATRICK HEALY
January 11, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/theater/11conroy.html?ref=us

CHICAGO - John Conroy spent 15 years writing investigative news articles about one of the darkest chapters of this city's Police Department, the allegations that some officers on the South Side regularly resorted to suffocation, electric shock and mock Russian roulette in the 1970s and '80s to obtain confessions from suspects.

But for all of the official inquiries and overturned convictions that resulted - a special state prosecutors' report in 2006 supported the accusations of scores of inmates, and the city paid out $20 million in settlements in a case that continues to reverberate today - Mr. Conroy never believed that the people of Chicago were truly outraged by the front-page headlines about police torture. And so, in the tradition of history and morality plays like "A Man for All Seasons" and last year's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, "Ruined," Mr. Conroy turned to theater as a means of provocation and catharsis.

"I wanted to indict the whole city of Chicago," Mr. Conroy said of his first outing as a playwright, the two-act "My Kind of Town," which he has developed with help from the Steppenwolf Theater Company here; a third reading is planned for March at Northwestern University.

"I wanted to get at the public indifference, to go up the ladder and look at not only the cops who chose to torture but also at families and society that seemed to accept that some criminals constituted a tortureable class of people," he added during an interview at a diner that he chose for its popularity with both police officers and suspected gang members.

While Mr. Conroy is a widely respected journalist who wrote for The Chicago Reader for many years, as well as an author (with one book about Northern Ireland and another about torture), creating a play has been full of challenges for him, he said. One was mastering the form and pacing of a multicharacter stage drama that spans 27 years; for that he studied plays like August Wilson's "Fences," which follows a family over several years.

Dramas based on historical events can sometimes have a bloodless quality, said Martha Lavey, the artistic director of Steppenwolf, and leave audiences feeling that they are being taught a lesson rather than being plunged into rich drama.

"What we've encouraged John to think about is how to keep the material feeling fresh and alive," Ms. Lavey said. "The question for a playwright is: How do you basically report history in such a way where something is at stake in the present? What's at stake in John's play can't just be the facts of the case but the relationships among the characters, the ways that the characters deal with eternal issues like truth and betrayal."

The play involves three interlocking stories: an African-American police officer and his ex-wife, whose son was tortured in custody; a young prosecutor who is haunted by the knowledge that she may have witnessed officers preparing to torture a criminal; and a police detective and his family torn apart by the scandal.

While the brutality is described but not shown, there are several wrenching moments, including a scene in which a convicted man recalls how he was sodomized with a cattle prod to force a confession to a murder - and then, minutes later, suffocated with a plastic bag when officers wanted him to confess to a second murder as well.

"And I thought I'm gonna die. I'm gonna die. I'm gonna die right here," the character says of the suffocation, continuing later, "And they took it off before I died and I hollered and then the light went back on and they're sitting in chairs, Gunther standing against the wall, like nothing happened. And one of them says, two murders, and I said nothing, I couldn't get enough air, I couldn't think hardly, and the light went out again and I hollered, 'Two murders.' Then the light went back on, they's all sitting like nothing happened, and they said, 'That's what we thought.' "

While Mr. Conroy said his play was a work of fiction, the character Gunther - a commander who oversees the officers applying the torture - is clearly inspired by a real-life former commander in the South Side Police Area 2, Jon Burge. A decorated Vietnam veteran and often-promoted police officer, Commander Burge was removed from the force in 1993 after the Chicago Police Board found him guilty of physically abusing an accused murderer in the 1980s. Mr. Burge is scheduled to go to court again in May, this time on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice; he is accused of lying about his involvement in torturing suspects.

Mr. Burge did not respond to an interview request made through one of his lawyers, Marc Martin. In a telephone interview Mr. Martin said of Mr. Conroy's play, "I'm glad he's representing it as fiction, because based on our investigation of this case, the allegations about Commander Burge are fiction."

From the Greeks to Shakespeare and Brecht the theater has a long if irregular history of morality plays. Some are about the life and death struggles of real people, like Thomas More and Anne Frank; more recent examined the clash of ideas and values of historical figures, like two Tony Award-winning plays of the last decade, Michael Frayn's "Copenhagen" and Tom Stoppard's "Coast of Utopia."

For "Ruined," the celebrated drama about emotionally and physically mutilated prostitutes in war-torn Congo, the playwright Lynn Nottage drew on interviews with women during trips to Africa in 2004 and 2005. Like Mr. Conroy, she said that she decided to create her own fictional version of the world rather than write a play based on the verbatim words of the women, because she wanted creative room to tell a story with an epic sweep. She also did not want to exploit their stories for any personal gain, she said.

Ms. Nottage said in an interview that writers working on history and morality plays have to make careful choices, to construct powerful narratives that audiences in any country or city can relate to.

"I spent a lot of time thinking about how to tell the story because I didn't want it to be preachy, didn't want to be up on the soapbox telling the audience how to feel or what to think," Ms. Nottage said. One choice she made was to have the characters perform songs that included some of the most pointed and emotionally direct lines in the play. "I think that when people are listening to music, they enter a certain kind of comfort zone where they are open to hearing things that they might reject otherwise."

Whatever his own personal views about Mr. Burge and the torture allegations, Mr. Conroy also had the audience partly in mind when he chose not to render many clear-cut judgments in "My Kind of Town." He said he preferred to shade most of the characters with moral ambiguities, an approach that he hoped would draw in Chicago audiences and stimulate conversations about their own feelings on torture.

"I'm not a 'gotcha' reporter, and I wasn't out to paint cops in any simplistic good-and-evil way," said Mr. Conroy, who grew up in a Chicago suburb, Skokie, and was an English major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "And I didn't want to tell a story that said that the guilty cops have to be punished or the righteous have to win, but rather that these were real human beings who had to make choices that we as a society need to see - and that those choices had consequences that we as a society and city need to deal with."

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14) Large Price Jumps Reported for Small but Vital Drugs
"Most of the big price increases ranged from 100 percent to 499 percent, but some of the price increases were far larger, the investigators found. For instance, the prices of 26 brand-name drugs rose more than tenfold. The largest price increase found by the investigators was about 4,200 percent."
By GARDINER HARRIS
January 11, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/11price.html?ref=business

Prices for a small but growing number of brand-name drugs have risen more than twofold in recent years as drug makers seek to squeeze greater profits out of often small-selling but vital medicines, according to Congressional investigators.

Medicines like Adderall for attention deficit disorder, Inderal for chest pain and Sumycin for infections were among 416 brand-name drug products whose makers or distributors raised prices at least once by 100 percent or more from 2000 to 2008, investigators found.

These substantial price increases are becoming increasingly common, according to the Government Accountability Office, which conducted the inquiry. In 2000, prices for 28 drug products rose by 100 percent or more. In 2008, 71 had similar increases.

In response to the investigators' report, which will be released Monday, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America e-mailed a statement saying that drugs represent only 10 percent of the nation's overall spending on health care.

"Companies make price adjustments independently as a result of market forces, which include everything from patent expirations" to the substantial research costs associated with discovering medicines, the statement said.

In recent years, drug makers have paid greater attention to culling their ample portfolio of medicines. Marginally profitable medicines or small-selling drugs with particularly challenging manufacturing processes were often sold off by large drug makers to smaller companies, which paid for them by immediately increasing the drugs' prices.

Most of the big price increases ranged from 100 percent to 499 percent, but some of the price increases were far larger, the investigators found. For instance, the prices of 26 brand-name drugs rose more than tenfold. The largest price increase found by the investigators was about 4,200 percent.

Nearly a third of the drugs whose prices were substantially raised were intended to treat depression, anxiety and other disorders of the central nervous system, while many others were intended to treat infections or cardiovascular problems.

The price for a drug intended to treat a rare form of cancer went from $390 for a full course of treatment to more than $3,000, investigators found.

The drugs' makers were not always behind the price rises. In more than half of the cases disclosed by investigators, the price increases were made by a middleman that bought the medicines from manufacturers and repackaged them for hospitals or doctors.

With thousands of approved medicines, the market for drugs in the United States is enormously complicated. Myriad players - manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and providers - often play some role in pricing. For some small-selling medicines, prices and availability can change significantly year to year.

But much of the money in the system goes to a relatively small number of huge-selling medicines whose prices start high and are made even higher by modest and frequent price increases. Last year, overall wholesale prices of brand-name drugs rose 9 percent even as the Consumer Price Index fell.

One reason for the price increases might be that drug makers are bracing for the effects of the health care overhaul effort in Congress. Another is that drug makers' labs have been unusually barren, and that without new products, drug makers view price increases as among the only ways to reliably increase profits.

"It is hard to find a good-faith explanation for why drug prices could go up this much," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. "This report will lead to a strong demand for action by Congress."

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15) A Serious Proposal
By BOB HERBERT
Op-Ed Columnist
January 12, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/opinion/12herbert.html

The president of the American Federation of Teachers says she will urge her members to accept a form of teacher evaluation that takes student achievement into account and that the union has commissioned an independent effort to streamline disciplinary processes and make it easier to fire teachers who are guilty of misconduct.

In a speech to be delivered Tuesday in Washington, Randi Weingarten plans to call for more frequent and more rigorous evaluations of public schoolteachers, and she says she will assert that standardized test scores and other measures of student performance should be an integral part of the evaluation process. The use of student test scores to measure teacher performance has been anathema to many teachers. Ms. Weingarten is not proposing that they be the only - or even the primary - element in determining teacher quality.

But she told me in an interview over the weekend that she wants to "stop this notion" that her membership is in favor of keeping bad teachers in the classroom. "I will try to convince my members that, of course, we have to look at student test scores and student learning," she said.

The use of test scores, as Ms. Weingarten sees it, would be part of a new, enhanced process of teacher evaluation that would offer clear professional standards for teachers. It would replace current practices, which in many districts across the country are lax, haphazard and, in the words of Ms. Weingarten and others, often amount to little more than "drive-by" evaluations.

It is not uncommon for teachers to be observed in the classroom just a couple of times a year for only a few minutes each time and then get a satisfactory rating. Under those circumstances, hardly anything is learned about the quality or effectiveness of the teachers. Most teachers are routinely rated as satisfactory, and many are never evaluated at all.

Ms. Weingarten is urging school administrators to observe teachers more closely and more frequently. (The enhanced, clearly articulated professional standards she is calling for are already in use in some districts. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.) Experts trained in best practices and using a variety of objective data, including measures of student achievement, would do the evaluating. Teachers who are struggling would be given an opportunity to improve their performance. If, after remedial efforts, they still did not measure up, they would be fired, whether tenured or not.

As Ms. Weingarten put it, "We would have to say, 'Look, we helped you. We tried. You're just not cut out to be a teacher.' "

Ms. Weingarten also addresses the fact that it is sometimes scandalously difficult to remove teachers who have engaged in serious misconduct. While emphasizing the need for due process, she bluntly asserts, in a draft of her speech: "We recognize, however, that too often due process can become a glacial process. We intend to change that."

The union has asked Kenneth Feinberg, the federal government's so-called pay czar, to develop a more efficient protocol for disciplining - and when necessary, removing - teachers accused of misconduct.

This would be a big deal. Mr. Feinberg is highly respected and widely viewed as independent. He administered the government fund that compensated those who were injured and the families of those who were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. He also administered a fund set up in the wake of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007.

He is not the kind of guy to go into the tank for the teachers' union. (John Ashcroft chose him to lead the 9/11 fund.) It will be very interesting to see whether the union actually goes along if Mr. Feinberg fashions a workable plan to streamline teacher discipline that is viewed favorably by school administrators.

"We look forward," said Ms. Weingarten, "to working with Mr. Feinberg on this critical undertaking."

If the union follows through on Ms. Weingarten's proposals, it would represent a significant, good-faith effort to cooperate more fully with state officials and school administrators in the monumental job of improving public school education. More than 90 percent of American youngsters go through the public schools. The schools were struggling and failing too many youngsters even before the latest economic downturn, which is taking a terrible toll.

My view is that America's greatest national security crisis is the crisis in its schools.

Ms. Weingarten's ideas for upgrading the teacher evaluation process are good ones and should be embraced and improved upon where possible by those in charge of the nation's schools. The point is not just to get rid of failing teachers, but to improve the skills and effectiveness of the millions of teachers who show up in the classrooms every day.

If the union chooses not to follow through on these proposals, its credibility will take a punishing and well-deserved hit.

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16) Local 743 Members Unite to Say "We Won't Go Back"
Teamster Reformers Ousted in Power Grab
By Staff
Tuesday January 12, 2010
http://www.fightbacknews.org/2010/1/11/teamster-reformers-ousted-power-grab

Chicago, IL - Chicago Teamster bosses ousted reformers Richard Berg and Gina Alvarez from union office today in a power struggle between grassroots reformers and old guard Teamster officials over one of the largest Teamster local unions in Chicago and the country.

Joint Council 25 officials suspended Richard Berg from union membership and removed him as president of Teamsters Local 743 on false charges that he violated Teamster procedures. Alvarez was also suspended from membership and removed as secretary-treasurer.

The 11,000 members of Local 743 voted Berg and his New Leadership Slate into office in 2007 on a reform platform. His election was bitterly opposed - for years - by Chicago's top Teamster officials, who used every means at their disposal to prevent a reform victory in Local 743.

Berg opponents were convicted of stealing a union vote to block his election. One of the vote-riggers is also serving jail time for using Local 743 as a front for drug trafficking. When Berg was nominated in June 2006 for International Vice President on the reform slate, while Chicago's top Teamster official John Coli ran on the old guard slate, Berg was assaulted at the Teamster Convention by former Local 743 president Richard Lopez. Joint Council 25 and International Union officials upheld the Local 743 election results that were stolen and overturned - but today voted to suspend Berg and Alvarez's union membership - a move that could disqualify them from running for re-election in Local 743.

Local 743 members plan to fight Berg and Alvarez's removal in federal court, where they were able to win a supervised election.

"They couldn't steal our election and they couldn't defeat us at the polls, so they used trumped up charges to oust Richard and Gina and hijack Local 743," said Joe Sexauer, Local 743 union representative who helped organize Berg's successful election. "But the union is about more than any one leader - it's about the members. We've defeated corrupt officials before, and we'll do it again."

Berg and his New Leadership Slate were elected to lead Local 743 in October 2007 in an election supervised by the Department of Labor - and Berg followed through on his reform platform. He cut his salary by $70,000 and shaved the union payroll by eliminating do-nothing jobs.

Not everyone was happy with Local 743's new direction, including some of the newly-elected officers. They agreed to run with Berg on a reform platform that included reducing the salaries of overpaid union officials. But they demanded higher salaries once they were in office. When members complained that some union representatives weren't doing their job, Berg investigated the complaints, took the cases to the union's Executive Board, and those union representatives were terminated.

Unhappy at the financial reforms and the demands for accountability of union staff some Local 743 officers teamed up with Berg's opponents in the Teamster hierarchy. They filed internal union charges falsely claiming that Berg had failed to present the terminations and other union matters to the Executive Board. Not a single one of the charges alleges that Berg or any other Local 743 reformer took a penny for personal gain.

Local 743 represents 11,000 members at the University of Chicago and U of C Hospital, Rush Presbyterian Hospital, Blue Cross and numerous shops, factories, offices and nursing homes.

"We elected him, and it's our choice, the membership to keep him or take him out in an election, not like this," said UC Medical Center worker Jean Moore.

Under Berg's leadership, Local 743 cut officer salaries, including his own, and put the union's dues money to work for the membership. Berg hired professional contract negotiators and led a successful strike to protect members' healthcare. The local has taken stands to promote civil rights and racial equality: Local 743 sponsored Martin Luther King Day events and participated in marches for immigrants rights.

"For years officials treated Local 743 like a piggy-bank," said Melanie Cloghessy, a member of Local 743 at the University of Chicago. "We won't go back to those dark days of corruption. The New Leadership team will keep fighting for a union that fights for us. The officials who are making this power grab are going to learn that we'll fight back against their double-dealing just like we stood up to the criminal activities of the past."

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