Tuesday, February 02, 2010




Call 415-821-6545 for leafleting and posting schedule.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2010, 2:00 P.M.
Between 16th and 15th Streets, SF)
For more information call: 415-821-6545


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




2/3 SF Solidarity Meeting:Stop Union Busting At KPFA/Defend Flashpoints Staff And Activist Programming
Solidarity Meeting
Defend Labor Rights At KPFA
Stop Union Busting
Defend Flashpoints Staff
Activist Programming Threatened!

February 3, 2010 Wed 7:00 PM
522 Valencia St./16th St. San Francisco, CA

Donation Requested

KPFA management has flagrantly violated the CWA 9415 union contract at radio station KPFA by cutting the hours of Flashpoints staff without regard to the union contract. Nora Barrows-Friedman had her hours cut 50% despite the fact that she has more seniority than many other employees. In fact Assistant Manager Amelia Gonzalez admitted that they had ignored the contract in layoffs and were consulting the union after the fact. Is this how management operates at KPFA?
Panelists will also discuss how KPFA and Pacifica can again become an activist news and information portal for the community in these critical times.

Initial Speakers:
Jack Heyman, ILWU Local 10*
Riva Enteen, Past Chair KPFA Local Station Board
JR Valrey, The Minister Of Information JR Valrey
Ann Garrison, Independent Journalist/Peace and Social Justice Activist
Dennis Bernstein, Producer KPFA Flashpoints
*for information only

Solidarity Music By "The Funky Nixons" and others

Endorsed by
Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org laborvideo.blip.tv
Peace and Freedom Party San Francisco
For Information call (415)282-1908

KPFA Flashpoints Producers Speak-Out to Protest Attacks On Show 12/17/2009
Petition To Stop Union Busting

-labor donated-


Black History Month Forum & Benefit for Haiti Relief
Stand with the people of Haiti!
What the U.S. government isn't telling you
Fri. Feb. 5, 7pm
Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St. at 16th St., SF
near 16th St. BART; Wheelchair accessible

Featured speaker: Pierre Labossiere, Haiti Action Committee

Plus, cultural performance and dinner to help raise funds

The people of the world are responding to help alleviate the terrible suffering of the Haitian people after the massive earthquake which struck Jan. 12. We urge everyone who can, to attend this important benefit for the Haitian people. Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee will give an important update on the ongoing crisis.

Why is Haiti the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere? The answer lies in the more than two centuries of U.S. exploitation of--and hostility to--the island nation, whose hard-won independence in 1804 from the French was only the beginning of its struggle for liberation.

Natural disasters are inevitable, but resource allocation and planning can play a decisive role in lessening their impact. But Haiti has been drained of vital resources and income for decades, due to extortionate loans by the U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund and World Bank. These loans enrich the banks while Haitian people die.

Haiti was self-sufficient in rice production until the Clinton administration forced a "free trade" policy on Haiti in the 1990s, and soon U.S. agribusiness began to flood Haiti's markets, displacing thousands of farmers. The chronic malnutrition and poverty is a direct result of U.S. imperialist policy.

President Obama announced that USAID and the Departments of State and Defense will support the rescue and relief efforts in Haiti. Yet, these are the same government bodies responsible for the economic and military policies that reduced Haiti to ruins even before the earthquake hit. We call on the U.S. government to stop deportations of the Haitians from the U.S., and to immediately cancel Haiti's debt, in addition to real assistance for the Haitian people.

$10-20 donation. (no one turned way for lack of funds). All funds collected go to Haiti relief.

Sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition. Co-sponsored by FMLN-N. Calif., Bay Area Latin American Solidarity Coalition, Task Force on the Americas, and others.

Call 415-821-6545 for more info.


Renters Rights Clinic Opening on 3rd street!
New Weekly Renters Rights Clinic
Grand Opening Party!
Saturday February 6, 2010
11 am - 2 pm
Local Music!
Food!Door Prizes!

Get information about your rights!
Housing counselors will be available on site to schedule appointments.

--with the Housing Rights Committee and Bay Area Legal Aid!

Help with Repairs, Pests, Mold, etc.
Your housing shouldn't make you sick!

Renter's Rights Clinic
4911 3rd Street @ Palou
Walk-In Thursdays 1-4 p.m.
or call 415-354-6353 to set up an appointment

Renters Rights Clinic Sponsored by the San Francisco Asthma Task Force; Breathe California, Golden Gate Public Health Partnership, SFDPH Environmental Health; Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco; Alpha & Omega Asthma Resource Center; and Bay Areal Legal Aid.

For more information, call Camila at Housing Rights Committee at 703-8634.

Sara Shortt
Executive Director
Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco
427 South Van Ness, SF, CA 94103
Phone: 415-703-8634, Ext. 106
Fax: 415-703-8639


SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2010, 2:00 P.M.
Between 16th and 15th Streets, SF)
For more information call: 415-821-6545


Commemoration of the Gaza Massacre... and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The young will grow to continue our struggle for liberation.

A night of poetry, reflection and celebration of resistance

Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Professor Haidar Eid

Saturday, February 6th, 2010, 6:30pm
Burlingame Recreation Center
850 Burlingame Avenue

Al-Awda, Arab Cultural and Community Center (ACCC), Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA), Palestinian Youth Network (PYN), Students for Justice in Palestine - UCB (SJP), US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), ANSWER Coalition, Al Juthoor Debkah Troupe, Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid (BACEIA), Birthright Unplugged, International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Justice for Palestinians (San Jose, CA), Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!), San Francisco Women in Black, US Organization for Medical and Educational Needs (US-OMEN)

To endorse this event, send an email to: gazacommemoration@ gmail.com

*** please forward to your lists!!!

*** if you can help distribute or post flyers please send an email to: gazacommemoration@ gmail.com


SFLC March 4 Call to Affiliates & Community Partners
Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Please find below the Call for the March 4 Rally for California's Future that was adopted unanimously last night by the Executive Board of the San Francisco Labor Council.

Contact Alan [mailto:alanbenjamin@earthlink.net] for a pdf version of this Call, on Labor Council letterhead, for printing and wide distribution to your members and supporters.

In solidarity,

Alan Benjamin,
Member, SFLC Executive Committee



All Out For March 4 Rally at Civic Center in Defense
Of Public Education and All Public-Sector Services!

The San Francisco Labor Council calls on all labor affiliates, community organizations, and student groups to mobilize their memberships to attend the 5 p.m. rally and demonstration at the San Francisco Civic Center on March 4.

This rally is being organized and sponsored by United Educators of San Francisco, AFT Local 2121, and the California Faculty Association as part of the statewide March 4 Strike/Day of Action in Defense of Public Education that was called by a statewide conference of students, faculty, and staff unions held in Berkeley on October 24, 2009.

Responding to layoffs, furloughs and widespread cutbacks, the October 24 conference summoned all sectors of education to struggle collectively to save public education in California. The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and California Teachers Association (CTA) have endorsed the Day of Action. Massive demonstrations are being organized across the state on March 4.

The San Francisco Labor Council believes that those who work in the education sector should not be placed in competition with state workers, where each fights against the other for scarce funds.

That is why we are urging that California enact a program of progressive taxation. This could ensure that all our communities can thrive. We could create ample funds so that everyone has the opportunity, through quality, accessible education, to fully develop their potential and become productive members of society. And, at the same time, we could establish fully funded social services and job security for public workers.


Note: UESF is calling on all teacher unionists and K-12 families to gather at 4 p.m. at the State Building on the corner of Van Ness & McAllister, before joining the mass rally at the Civic Center.



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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to become an endorser:


Click here to make a donation:


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

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

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

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

Killing and dying to avoid the perception of defeat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



Security in an Insecure Land

What the US/UN police and military are doing in Haiti -- really.

This video takes us to the poorest section of Port-au-Prince, Cité Soleil. It looks like a giant concentration camp in the middle of a desert. The UN Police caravan have nothing with them but cameras and guns! People--men, women, children, are standing alongside the road begging for help. They say they have had no help at all since the earthquake.

The UN police bring NO AID with them. No food, water--nothing! Then the police, guarded by soldiers with automatic weapons, and their camera stop among a large group of people. The UN cop, Alix Sainvil, a Haitian-American United Nations police officer who worked to secure Cité Soleil before the earthquake, is talking to the camera; he explains that since the jail collapsed and prisoners escaped after the earthquake, he worried about how the "gangs" are taking over again.

The camera pans the faces of ALL the men.

One "gang member" (synonym "male") overhears what Soleil is saying to the camera and speaks up and says, "Even if your not a looter, when you walk past a store police will just shoot you for no reason. That's the only thing you do!" That, of course, designates him a "gang member."

The cop, Soleil, says as they are driving away, "that young man is a 'troublemaker.'"

This video illustrates just what the UN has been doing in Haiti. They have been patrolling these slums with automatic weapons and targeting anyone who shows any signs of resistance to the deplorable state of poverty they live in. It is a heinous atrocity orchestrated by the U.S.!

Haiti is US/UN occupied territory now. AND THEY STILL HAVEN'T GIVEN OUT ANY MEANINGFUL AMOUNTS OF AID! They typically pull up with one-tenth of the supplies needed so that most go hungry and get nothing but their fury ignited. And who the hell wouldn't be furious? This is Katrina in powers of ten!

In another article in the Times, "Food Distribution Retooled; Americans Arrested," by DAMIEN CAVE, (number 19, below) "After two weeks of often chaotic food distribution, the United Nations announced plans on Saturday for a coupon-based system that aims to give rice to 10,000 Haitians a day at each of 16 locations around Port-au-Prince." (The article points out that the rice will be given to women only.)

AFTER TWO WEEKS THEY WILL BEGIN THIS WEEK?!?!? I guess they're thinking it'll be cheaper in the long run if more people die first. And that's the bottom line for this government! By the way, the ten Americans were arrested by the Haitian government for trying to take 33 Haitian children across into the Dominican Republic for "adoption." The thing is, they had no proof the children were orphans. I wonder how much they were going to charge for them?

--Bonnie Weinstein

Also see:

Haitian Law Enforcement Returns
The Haitian police are back on patrol in Port-au-Prince.

Haitians Scramble for Aid
France24 reports on desperate Haitians trying to get some aid food in the Cité Soleil district of Port-au-Prince.

U.S. Marines prevent the distribution of food to starving people due to "lack of security." They bring a truck full of supplies then, because their chain of command says they haven't enough men with guns, they drive away with the truckload of food leaving the starving Haitians running after the truck empty-handed! This is shown in detail in the video in the New York Times titled, "Confusion in Haitian Countryside." The Marines-the strong, the brave--turn tail and run! INCAPABLE, EVEN, OF DISTRIBUTING FOOD TO UNARMED, STARVING, MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN!


Lost Generation


Sign the petition. Drop the charges against Alexis Hutchinson!
"...four separate court martial charges have been brought against Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a single parent with a one-year old son, who missed deployment in early November 2009 when her childcare plan fell through at the last moment, due to circumstances beyond her control."

Cuba establishes hospital in Port-au-Prince

Disputes emerge over Haiti aid control


Please sign the petition to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal and
and forward it to all your lists.

"Mumia Abu-Jamal and The Global Abolition of the Death Penalty"


To: President Barack Obama

WE THE UNDERSIGNED petition you to speak out against the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and all the men, women and children facing execution around the world. This ultimate form of punishment is unacceptable in a civilized society and undermines human dignity. (U.N. General Assembly, Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty, Resolution 62/149, Dec. 18, 2007; reaffirmed, Resolution 63/168, Dec. 18, 2008.)

Mr. Abu-Jamal, a renowned black journalist and author, has been on Pennsylvania's death row for nearly three decades. Even though you do not have direct control over his fate as a state death-row inmate, we ask that you as a moral leader on the world stage call for a global moratorium on the death penalty in his and all capital cases. Mr. Abu-Jamal has become a global symbol, the "Voice of the Voiceless", in the struggle against capital punishment and human-rights abuses. There are over 20,000 awaiting execution around the globe, with over 3,000 on death rows in the United States.

The 1982 trial of Mr. Abu-Jamal was tainted by racism, and occurred in Philadelphia which has a history of police corruption and discrimination. Amnesty International, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, "determined that numerous aspects of this case clearly failed to meet international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings. [T]he interests of justice would best be served by the granting of a new trial to Mumia Abu-Jamal. The trial should fully comply with international standards of justice and should not allow for the reimposition of the death penalty." (A Life In the Balance - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, at 34, Amnesty Int'l, 2000; www. Amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/001/2000.)

[Note: This petition is approved by Mumia Abu-Jamal and his lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan, San Francisco (E-mail: MumiaLegalDefense@gmail.com; Website: www.MumiaLegalDefense.org).]


Alert! New Threat To Mumia's Life!
Supreme Court Set To Announce A Decision
On the State Appeal To Reinstate Mumia's Death Sentence
17 January 2010
The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 Oakland CA 94610
(510) 763-2347

Mumia Abu-Jamal, an innocent man on death row and the world's best-known political prisoner, now faces an immediate new threat to his life from the US Supreme Court. The Court ruled last year on Mumia's appeal, by summarily refusing to even consider a reversal of his unjust 1982 murder conviction in a blatantly racist court. And last week, the Supreme Court discussed a cross-appeal by the State of Pennsylvania to reinstate Mumia's death sentence, which had been put on hold by a federal court in 2001. A ruling could be announced as early as Tuesday this week.

It would be an illusion to expect good news. Supporters should stay tuned, and be prepared to participate in actions to free Mumia!

The Vendetta Against Mumia

In making it's flat-out rejection of Mumia's appeal (which it did without making any statement), the Supreme Court had to knowingly violate its own precedent in the 1986 Batson v Kentucky decision. This ruling famously said that purging a jury on the basis of race was unconstitutional. In Mumia's case, at least 10 black jurors were excluded for reasons not applied to their white counterparts. Under Batson, such violations require that the conviction be thrown out!

But this was Mumia Abu-Jamal, the falsely accused "cop killer." And while evidence of his innocence has always been available, along with evidence of the corruption of the cops who framed him, Mumia is the object of a world-wide vendetta led by the Fraternal Order of Police and numerous pundits and politicians. So an exception was made.

The Spisak Case

Meanwhile, the 2001 federal district court decision (besides upholding Mumia's conviction) said that Mumia's death sentence resulted from improper instructions to the jury. The trial judge's instructions to the jury on sentencing had said that a decision had to be unanimous, even on mitigating factors that could result in a sentence of life in prison, instead of death. This violated another Supreme Court precedent, Mills v Maryland, which held that such mitigating factors required only a simple majority.

After tossing out Mumia's appeal in 2009, the Court took it's time on the State's cross-appeal, because another case, Smith v Spisak, dealt with the same issue of jury instructions in sentencing. Frank Spisak is a neo-Nazi who made racist statements in court, wore a Hitler mustache, and confessed to three hate-crime murders in Ohio. The two cases could hardly be more different, yet appeals courts threw out death sentences in both on the basis of the Mills decision. But now, on January 12th, the Supreme Court has reinstated Spisak's death sentence. The decision on Mumia followed shortly thereafter, and the implications are clear. The Spisak decision could open the door to what the cops, courts and ruling class generally want to do most: legally murder Mumia!

The Supreme Court said Mills didn't apply to Spisak for various reasons (that don't seem to apply to Mumia), but the legal ins and outs aren't the point. The point is that the entire legal system is at the service not of the law, but of power in society.

As Mumia Abu-Jamal said in a recent interview, "[Spisak's] case differs from mine substantially, not just in terms of facts, but also in terms of law. But the law is the tool of those in power, so how they use it doesn't depend on the law; it depends on power."
(-Free Speech Radio News, 15 January 2010).

The Question of Innocence!

As an award-winning radical journalist, former Black Panther, and critic of police brutality and malfeasance, Mumia Abu-Jamal is considered an enemy of the state. As such, legal decisions have systematically gone against him, regardless of the law. Batson is only one example of this "Mumia exception."

Manufacturing false confessions, planting evidence, corrupting "witnesses" to say they saw what they didn't see--all of these "illegal" tricks were used against Mumia. The real evidence points to Mumia's innocence, including another man who confessed, witnesses who said Mumia didn't shoot anybody but who were never called to testify, and photos of the crime scene that show that police lied. But very little of this has ever been heard in court.

Rather than follow the "law," the criminal justice system follows a simple rule: "If we want to get you, we will." The US Supreme Court (Herrera v Collins), and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (signed by Bill Clinton in 1996), have effectively said: innocence is no defense!

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal has never thought that calling for a new trial, or appealing to the US Justice Department to right the wrongs that they helped create, were anything more than distractions, getting in the way of a mass, working-class movement to free Mumia.

Mumia is a class-war prisoner, and it will take a class struggle to free him: that was position of longshore workers in the International Longshore and Warehouse
Union (ILWU) when they shut down all the ports on the West Coast in 1999, and headed the march in San Francisco, to free Mumia. Oakland teachers, and teachers in Rio de Janeiro Brazil also took work actions to support Mumia. Only this kind of working-class action, combined with mass mobilizations, can defeat a determined frame-up by cops, courts and politicians. Mumia Abu-Jamal is now in imminent danger of a new execution order, so the need for action is urgent. For workers action to free Mumia!

Stay in touch for demonstration details this week.

Visit our newly-rebuilt and updated web site for background information on Mumia's innocence. See the "What You Can Do Now" page: www.laboractionmumia.org

- The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 Oakland CA 94610
(510) 763-2347


Urgent action needed to stop executions in CA
By Stephanie Faucher, Death Penalty Focus
January 8, 2009

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.


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:


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:



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


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

Thank you for taking action!

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.


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


The Pay at the Top
The compensation research firm Equilar compiled data reflecting pay for 200 chief executives at 198 public companies that filed their annual proxies by March 27 and had revenue of at least $6.3 billion. (Two companies, Motorola and Synnex, had co-C.E.O.'s.) | See a detailed description of the methodology.



The Unemployment Game Show: Are You *Really* Unemployed? - From Mint.com

Video: Gaza Lives On



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


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


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.



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

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

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


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

FTA [F**k The Army] Trailer

Jon Stewart: Obama Is Channeling Bush VIDEO)

US anti-war activists protest

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


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

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

The Communist Manifesto illustrated by Cartoons



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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


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

Take action now:


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

New videos from April 24 Oakland Mumia event

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


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!


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


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) Bankers Put Focus on 'Real Economy'
February 1, 2010

2) 'New Haiti,' Same Corporate Interests
By Isabel Macdonald
January 29, 2010

3) Text of Bill Moyers Interview with Richard Trumka on the State of Labor
January 29, 2010

4) Jim Crow Policing
Op-Ed Columnist
February 2, 2010

5) As Marines Move In, Taliban Fight a Shadowy War
"...shepherds whistled in the darkness, passing warning of the Americans' approach. Dogs barked themselves hoarse. The din rose in every direction, enveloping the column in noise. And then, as the Marines became visible in the bluish twilight, a minivan rumbled out of one compound. Its driver steered ahead of the company, honking the van's horn, spreading the alarm. Spotters appeared on roofs." [So, if you have a dog that barks when strangers approach, you must be Taliban, of course! What more proof do the Marines need? How shifty the Taliban are to be able to train dogs that way! And, oh!, they use smoke signals too. So if you're cooking on your stove--that means your Taliban too! This is the most insane and revealing article I have read about U.S. battlefield tactics....bw]
February 2, 2010

6) Deficits May Alter U.S. Politics and Global Power
News Analysis
February 2, 2010

7) Suit Points to Guest Worker Program Flaws
February 2, 2010

8) Pennsylvania: 3 Officers Suspended
National Briefing | Mid-Atlantic
February 2, 2010

9) Haiti On Our Minds
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
January 16, 2010


1) Bankers Put Focus on 'Real Economy'
February 1, 2010

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND - Jobs will be hard to find in both the developed and developing world as bankers, corporations and governments work to put the financial system and world economies on a firmer footing, key participants at the World Economic Forum said Sunday.

At a session wrapping up five days of open and closed-door meetings of world business and political leaders, two prominent European bankers - Josef Ackermann of Deutsche Bank and Peter Sands of Standard Chartered - sounded contrite about the role of some banks in helping to bring about the financial meltdown of 2008-9.

Banks that take too much risk should be allowed to fail, Mr. Ackermann said, and all banks should concentrate firmly on working to develop what participants here repeatedly referred to as "the real economy."

Sounding a faint echo of a speech Wednesday by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who argued for restoration of morals to save capitalism, Mr. Ackermann added: "If you have lost the trust of societies, you cannot just respond technically, you have to respond morally."

Mr. Sands, chief economist at Standard Chartered, said there was no "one big idea, one silver bullet" that would guarantee recovery. "If we've learned anything from the crisis, it is that we don't always know what we're doing," he said.

He noted further that job creation "is going to be a huge problem in both the developed and developing world." In the West, he argued, governments are heavily indebted and may find they do not have as much leeway as they would like to spur job creation.

In the developing world, argued Azim H. Premzi, head of the Indian outsourcing company Wipro, there may be too many people pursuing a moderate amount of education, which will leave them overqualified for low-skilled jobs in agriculture or other areas, but not qualified enough to take part in an increasingly high-tech economy.

He urged Indian authorities to insist on two more years of schooling, and to offer more targeted training for specific skills, citing Germany as an example of a country that has done that well.

Mr. Ackermann said there was an urgent need to create jobs for young people in particular. With levels of youth unemployment touching 40 percent in some European countries and 50 percent in parts of the Middle East, he said, money alone will not solve the problem.


2) 'New Haiti,' Same Corporate Interests
By Isabel Macdonald
January 29, 2010

In the wake of the earthquake that has killed more than 100,000 people in Haiti, the foreign ministers of several countries calling themselves the "Friends of Haiti" met on Monday in Montreal to discuss plans for "building a new Haiti." Participants in the Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti, who included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; representatives of international financial institutions including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive came to what Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, the conference chair, referred to as a "road map towards Haiti's reconstruction and development."

However, the Latin American countries of ALBA--the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas--who held a counter-conference, and several grassroots Haiti solidarity organizations, who organized protests outside the conference, expressed skepticism that the "Friends of Haiti" and the international financial institutions would work to further the interests of ordinary Haitians.

One of the groups protesting the conference, Haiti Action Montreal, issued a statement warning that "There is a danger that these major powers will try to exploit the earthquake to further narrow pro-corporate ends, if reconstruction of New Orleans after Katrina and in Asia following the tsunami are any indication."

As Naomi Klein has observed, this process is already underway. The Heritage Foundation think tank's initial response to the earthquake clearly followed the pattern she documented in her book The Shock Doctrine, by which neoliberal reformers seek to impose an agenda of privatization in times of crisis. It was less than twenty-four hours after Haiti was hit by an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude that the Heritage Foundation issued a release recommending that "In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region."

That sentiment was echoed by James Dobbins, former special envoy to Haiti under President Bill Clinton and director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, who stated in a recent op-ed in the New York Times, "This disaster is an opportunity to accelerate oft-delayed reforms," including "breaking up or at least reorganizing the government-controlled telephone monopoly" and restructuring the ports, which also represent two of Haiti's few remaining state enterprises.

The World Bank also observed an upside to the catastrophe in Haiti; in a January 18 blog post titled "Haiti earthquake: Out of great disasters comes great opportunity," a World Bank disaster management analyst recently stated that "there is a silver lining to this great tragedy. Looking back in history, great natural disasters are often a catalyst for huge, positive change." Even calls for the expansion of Haiti's sweatshop industry are being made in the media.

The possibility of a repeat of the kinds of corrupt corporate profiteering that Klein documented in Iraq in the initial months of the 2003 US occupation have not been lost on Dan Senor, an adviser to the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003 and 2004. In a January 17 op-ed in the New York Times, Senor recommended the adoption in Haiti of the same fund used under the Coalition Provisional Authority--"a discretionary fund that American officers can dip into for development projects and crisis response without constantly looking over their shoulders at monitors in Washington."

As one financial analyst observed in a particularly frank article titled "An Opportunity to Heal Haiti," published a day after the earthquake in The Street, "Here are some companies that could potentially benefit: General Electric (GE), Caterpillar (CAT), Deere (DE), Fluor (FLR), Jacobs Engineering (JEC)." And that's not to mention the mercenary companies that, as The Nation's Jeremy Scahill has observed, are now setting their sights on Haiti.

The chair's opening remarks at the conference Monday suggest that corporate interests are being well represented in the planning stages for the "new Haiti." In his introductory speech at the ministerial conference on Haiti, Cannon stated, "We also have with us today some members from the private sector who have given generously to the humanitarian appeal but will also play an important role in Haiti's future." Singling out several sectors of the Haitian economy (including the ports, electricity and telecommunications) that have historically been state-owned, he added that "They [members from the private sector] will be accompanying and supporting us in rebuilding the national infrastructure of ports, roads and power generation and in re-establishing essential services from electricity, to banking and communications."

When I asked the World Bank's vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Pamela Cox, to elaborate on what kind of private-sector role was being envisioned for Haiti's future, she said, "You'd have to talk to the private sector...in the sense that they're the ones who would be putting their money in so they'd have the decision. What we want to hear from them is what kinds of things they need, so that they can come back." Cox cited "one proposal" that she'd heard vis-&gravea;-vis investment in the "garment manufacturing industry"--a sector that has long been associated with sweatshop labor practices in Haiti.

For anyone familiar with Haiti's experience of this sweatshop-based, pro-corporate development model over the years, it is clear that the road map the banks and "Friends" are charting for the "new Haiti" is not in the least bit new. And, for the Haitian people, who have always paid the price for these failed policies, it is nothing less than disastrous.


3) Text of Bill Moyers Interview with Richard Trumka on the State of Labor
January 29, 2010

BARACK OBAMA: With all due deference to separations of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the flood gates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.

BILL MOYERS: You no doubt noticed that president Obama had something on his mind in that state of the union speech Wednesday night.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And we're on track to add another one and a half million jobs...Jobs...Jobs...Jobs...Job creation...New jobs...Job market...New jobs...Create jobs right here in the United States of America.

BILL MOYERS:That's right, jobs. Twenty-nine times he mentioned jobs. And well he might. In 43 states last month the number of people out of work was higher than a month earlier. This month, one million people will run out of unemployment compensation. Voters in Massachusetts had jobs on their mind, too - and sent Washington a message saying, "Pay attention!"

My next guest has been saying the same thing for months now and often directly to the president. He thinks the message finally broke through.

Richard Trumka is the head of the AF of L-CIO, representing eleven million members and 57 national and international unions. He became its president less than six months ago, after serving 15 years as the AF of L's secretary-treasurer.

The son and grandson of coal miners, he made his way through college and law school working as they did -- blasting, drilling and hauling coal from the dangerous depths of the Pennsylvania coal fields.

He climbed his way up the ranks of the United Mine Workers of America at a time when that union was still rocked by violence and corruption. Leading a reform ticket, at age 33, he became the Mine Workers' youngest president. The AF of L-CIO leadership marked him as a comer.

He's still out there with the workers, even getting himself arrested with more than a hundred union members just a couple of weeks ago, demanding a fair contract for San Francisco hotel workers.

As we saw in Obama's election, the political clout of labor remains potent. While their numbers have dwindled, unions are still a source of money and people power. But are they getting what they had hoped for from the Obama presidency? That's just one of the reasons I wanted to talk with Rich Trumka. Welcome to the JOURNAL.

RICHARD TRUMKA: Bill, thanks for having me on.

BILL MOYERS: Did the President's speech this last Wednesday night convince you that he gets it?

RICHARD TRUMKA: Well, I think he does get it. I think the speech was interesting in a lot of ways. He knows that there's a lot of anger and frustration out there. And he was willing to look at people and say, "You're an obstructionist." He looked right at the Republicans and said, "You can't say no to everything and call that leadership." He looked at the Supreme Court and said, "You made a bad decision that's going to hurt this country. Corporations already have too much power. You just handed them more."

So, I think he's starting to understand and feel the anger. And I think he's willing to work his way through. Now, the question becomes, will he do it on a scale that's necessary or essential to solve the problem.

BILL MOYERS: What kind of scale?

RICHARD TRUMKA: That's the issue. It has to be a large scale. We lost eight million jobs, plus we have two million that we needed for growth. So, we're 10 million jobs in the hole. In order to do that, it's going to take more than a little stimulus package or a little job bill. Because if all we do is the same thing that Japan did in the early '90s. They would spend a little, look like they're coming out of recession. And then stop and it would drop back down.

They did that for a whole decade. They lost a decade. And our country just can't stand that. So, our job is to make sure that his understanding of the anger, translates out into a jobs program of sufficient size to solve the problem.

BILL MOYERS:So, what are your economists, your experts, your scholars, your academicians telling you we should be spending for the jobs program that you'd like to see, that you think will really make a big contribution to closing the gap.

RICHARD TRUMKA: First of all, we have to extend unemployment benefits. You got almost six million people who have been unemployed for longer than six months. If they lose those benefits, they stop consuming. If they stop consuming, the economy contracts pretty significantly.

So, we have to extend benefits. And we suggested a year's extension, so that everybody knows where they're going to be. Second of all, we needed money for the state and local governments. They are going to have about $178 billion deficit. And if they stop spending, anything we spend on the federal side just negates one another. So, we have to make sure that we don't lose education, like teachers, firemen, police officers, and all those jobs that are necessary. So, we think there should be aid to state and local governments.

We think there ought to be a major investment in infrastructure. We have a $2.2 trillion deficit in this country when it comes to our infrastructure. Bridges are crumbling. Schools are crumbling. Other places, roads are done. So, we need to make a major investment in that. And quite frankly, we think that the government ought to signal or say that they're going to do that over a number of years.

Because if they do that, and say, "We're going to make a ten-year commitment to rebuilding our infrastructure," then they can bring in private funds. We can leverage that money and private funds will come in as well. The fourth thing we think we need in the short term is direct funding of jobs. I'll give you a couple of examples. You go into an area where schools are, where the students are hurting, because of a low tax base. And you say, "I'm going to provide tutors." Now, that creates a job and it helps a student with better schooling, better education, and being able to do better. And then the last thing the President announced he was going to do was that we think that we ought to use the TARP money to give to regional and community banks so that they can lend to small and mid-sized businesses that create that. And we think this year, we need to be on the range of at least $400 billion. That will get us about 4 million jobs back.

BILL MOYERS: Where does this money come from? I mean, we have increased our deficits to record highs. People are really concerned. The President indicated Wednesday night that he's concerned. Where is this money coming from? We don't want to be taxed anymore.

RICHARD TRUMKA: It's a real simple thing. You know, let's look at who created the mess. The banks created this mess. Wall Street created this mess. And the super rich have had a tax break from Bush of $1.2 trillion. We can take a little bit back from the rich that have really enjoyed the last ten years in an unprecedented way, and pay for the creation of jobs that they actually destroyed.

BILL MOYERS: But realistically, Rich, less than five percent of American households make more than $250,000 a year. Do you think you can tax them to fund the kind of jobs program you really want to see?

RICHARD TRUMKA:Well, I'll give you an example. Nancy Pelosi in the House said, "We will put a 5.6 percent tax surcharge on any income over $1 million. Just money over $1 million." And that would have produced $400 billion. Enough to pay for four million jobs.

BILL MOYERS: Your message is very clear. Tax the rich.

RICHARD TRUMKA: Of course. They've had a ten year free ride.

BILL MOYERS: WALL STREET JOURNAL is going to come out next week and say Trumka says that class war is on again. And I'm serious about that.

RICHARD TRUMKA: Well, the class war's been on, except my class has been losing.

BILL MOYERS: You spoke at the National Press Club with this tough warning to the President, the Democrats on the 11th of January.

RICHARD TRUMKA: We worked to preserve a Democratic majority in 1994 because we knew what the alternative was. But there was no way to persuade enough working Americans to go to the polls when they couldn't tell the difference between the policies of the two parties. So politicians who think that working people have it too good, too much health care, too much Social Security, too much Medicare, too much power on the job - are actually inviting a repeat of 1994.

BILL MOYERS: Is that exactly what happened when the Republican Scott Brown defeated the Democrat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race.

RICHARD TRUMKA:It was a wakeup call. And we were predicting that. We said, "Look, they're angry. They're frustrated. And if you're not on the side of creating jobs, jobs, jobs. If they don't believe that, and you're not acting that on the scale that they think is necessary, you're going to face a bad time." And that's exactly what happened.

BILL MOYERS: The Senate vote showed that 49 percent of union households in Massachusetts voted for the Republican.

RICHARD TRUMKA:Here's what they were saying. Here's what our members were saying. Here's what the general public said. Here's what working America's saying. That wasn't about Obama's agenda. They were saying, "You haven't overreached. You've under-reached. You haven't produced enough change. So, we're going to help you. You think the status quo's great. We'll show you." They want change. They want their problems solved.

BILL MOYERS: They voted for the Republican.

RICHARD TRUMKA:They did. But they did it because they were angry and they were frustrated and they wanted to demonstrate that change wasn't happening fast enough. And they were going to help it along.

BILL MOYERS: What do you think they want?

RICHARD TRUMKA: They want jobs. That's one thing they want. They do want health care reform. They still want it. But they don't want their benefits taxed in the process. And remember, Massachusetts has universal health care in the state. They were worried about losing what they did have. So, that played into it. Here's a startling figure. For people who thought that their benefits were going to be taxed in Massachusetts, they voted 64 to 32 for Brown.

BILL MOYERS: So, what happens now to health care?

RICHARD TRUMKA: Well, we still have a chance to get it done. I think the ball is in the Senate's court. We said to them, there aren't the votes in the House to pass the Senate bill. So, what they'll do, what we should do is, the Senate has to demonstrate that they have 51 votes for a plan that America will accept and the House can pass. And when they do that, the House can do it quickly.

BILL MOYERS: You've been negotiating with Obama on all this. Is your message getting through? Does he hear you?

RICHARD TRUMKA:He listens to us all the time. We'll see what the results are. And some of it, you know, it may not be what he wants to do, but what he thinks he can do. Or what he can't do. So, it's not, I mean, it's not, I don't think it's fair to just say he could do this if he wanted to. Because there's the Senate, which has been timid about everything. They've been willing to coddle millionaires. You know? It's going to cost them in the long run, I think.

BILL MOYERS:I'm curious, Rich, about why we haven't been seeing more public demonstrations from people who have lost their job? I mean, we covered a story early last year in Chicago of workers who sat in, when it looked as if their factory was going to be closed down. Why has there been so little of that?

RICHARD TRUMKA:Well, you know what? I think some of it is people have been so beat down, that they -- we sort of plucked the hope out of them. And what we have to do is restore that hope. They don't think that there's anything that they can do. They feel hopeless. Corporations are so powerful, and they control the political process so much that there's nothing we can do. They're wrong, of course. And we're getting more and more people that are willing to start coming out now.

BILL MOYERS: So, what's happened that unions don't seem to be fighting back the way they did in the 1930s?

RICHARD TRUMKA: Well, I don't think that's so. I think we are fighting back. You know, first of all, you have a larger array of forces against us. You have a recession right now that's caused a lot of our members to get laid off, just like other Americans out there. You have a set of labor laws that are totally inadequate, and they're not even enforced. Now, President Obama's trying to. But he can't even get people from the N.L.R.B. confirmed.

BILL MOYERS: The National Labors Relations Board.

RICHARD TRUMKA: Yeah, the National Labor Relations Board.

BILL MOYERS: There are several vacancies on there, that you want to see filled.

RICHARD TRUMKA:Of course. And the Republicans, all they do is filibuster. They don't want him to succeed. And so they keep people, quality people that are needed to make government effectively. They keep them out of the spotlight and off the job.

BILL MOYERS:But the Democrats have 59 Members of the Senate. They have a 78 vote majority in the House. They got the President of the United States. And they can't deliver anything labor wants from them?

RICHARD TRUMKA: No, I want to say it a different way. I want to say they haven't delivered anything. They can. And it's up to us, and we're getting there.

BILL MOYERS: But how do you explain that?

RICHARD TRUMKA: Slowly but surely.

BILL MOYERS: Because you really worked for Obama in '08.


BILL MOYERS: And yet, so far, one year into his administration, you haven't gotten anything that I can see that you wanted in '08.

RICHARD TRUMKA: That's not so. There have been a number of executive orders that have provided collective bargaining people. I mean, the people he's appointed, Hilda Solis is terrific. Even the people in the Commerce and Treasury are far more cognizant of our position. So, he hasn't been able to pass the big bills yet, but we're getting there. And we'll get them done.

BILL MOYERS:What's happened to the one thing that was most important to labor back in '08? Obama seemed to promise the Employee Free Choice Act, EFCA as - it's come to be known, very important to labor. What happened to it?

RICHARD TRUMKA: Well, it's still there. We're still pushing it forward. He still supports it. The Vice President still supports it. A vast majority- at least 59 Senators in the Senate support it. And over a vast majority in the House support it.

BILL MOYERS: So, will you get it?

RICHARD TRUMKA: I think we will.

BILL MOYERS: You will- you still think you'll get it.

RICHARD TRUMKA: Yeah, I do. I still think we will. It'll take some creative doing. But we'll do it.

BILL MOYERS: And why is it so important to you?

RICHARD TRUMKA:What an Employee Free Choice Act does is the following: It takes the choice of having a union away from the employer, which is where it is right now, and gives it to the employee. Under today's circumstances, let's say you have a unit of 100 people. And all 100 people say, "I want a union and I want it right now. I want it. I deserve it. I need it." It's the employer who says, "No, I'm not giving it to you. I demand a secret ballot." What this does, it takes the choice out of the employer's hand and puts it into the worker's hands, who have the right. If they want a secret ballot, they get it. If they say, "I want a union without a secret a ballot, then they wouldn't get it." And let me just go back and frame this for one second. From 1946 to 1973 in this country, productivity doubled. And so did wages. It was the greatest expansion of wealth and distribution of wealth in any country, anywhere in the world.

BILL MOYERS: Some people say it created our strong middle class.

RICHARD TRUMKA:It did. And the interesting thing, Bill, is the bottom two quartiles back then, their income was increasing faster than the people at the top. And so, the wage gap was collapsing. Back during that time, workers had collective bargaining in 35 to 40 percent of the shops out there. So, we were making sure that profits got spread evenly. From '73, wages stayed flat. Productivity continued to go up, but wages stayed flat. And the amount of money between wages and productivity going up, went to the top one percent. And that's why the Employee Free Choice Act is so important. It's important as part of the economic recovery program so that workers can get a fair share of what they produce. Their productivity gains ought to be split in some manner with their employer. And the only way that that happens is through collective bargaining. So, you get collective bargaining. Wages start to rise again. The consumers start to spend again. The economy's rebuilt again.

BILL MOYERS:In your recount of the past, there seems to be one very important thing that you don't include. And it makes me sometimes wonder why you hang around with Democrats so much, because it was a Democratic President, Bill Clinton, and a Democratic Vice President, Al Gore, who fought hard for NAFTA. And at the time, I-- it seemed to me that the Democrats were destroying their working class base by agreeing to ship industrial and manufacturing jobs abroad.

RICHARD TRUMKA:You know, really, I agree with everything you just said. We opposed NAFTA. We said it was going to be bad. Everything we predicted has come true. And even Bill Clinton understands now that it was a bad thing. We have to change the way we do it. He won't say that trade is bad, and neither will we. 'Cause we think trade is a good thing. Exporting our products is a good thing. Not exporting our jobs. I wish, though-- I wish there were Republicans that I could support. But they're so rabidly anti-worker. They're so rabidly anti-union. I wish that there were dozens of them out there that we could run out and embrace and say, "This is our person." Now, there are a few. But the number is less and less and less each year.

BILL MOYERS:Why did the A.F. of L.C.I.O. then file a friend of the court brief to support the conservative effort recently that, led to the Supreme Court deciding that they would take the limits off of what corporations and--

RICHARD TRUMKA:We didn't. Our amicus brief didn't say that. There was a provision in the law that said you couldn't do ads 30 days before primaries and 60 days before elections. It was very, very loosely written. And it was a criminal prosecution. So, if we tried to communicate with our members. And we were wrong. Because the word that was in the statute was, if it refers to a candidate or refers to the election in the wrong way, it was a criminal statue. We thought that was absolutely wrong for anybody. And we tried to defend the union's point of view and say, "We ought to have a chance to get rid of this." And they could- this Supreme Court could have ended the case by saying, "That's right." It's constitutionally vague. They win." But they didn't do that. They went far beyond that. They become the most activist judges the country's ever seen. And took away the last limit on corporate spending.

BILL MOYERS: But they made you equal with corporations.


BILL MOYERS:They said, in effect, that corporations are persons for the purpose of political advertising. And that money is speech. They also said unions can do exactly what corporations are going to do.

RICHARD TRUMKA:We're willing to forego that because we think it's wrong. First of all, I don't think the framing fathers ever agreed or imagined that corporations ought to have more rights than we the people. And this court has given corporations more rights than we the people. And gave corporations that are already too powerful. And already control the political process too much. They gave them more power on that day.

BILL MOYERS: But the Supreme Court gave corporations and unions the right to spend as much money as they want to leading up to an election.

RICHARD TRUMKA: Well, anybody, quite frankly, not just--

BILL MOYERS: Private groups, associations--

RICHARD TRUMKA: And it's- yeah, anybody. So, I mean, I don't know your point other than to say--

BILL MOYERS:Well, the point-- John Nichols, a progressive writer, whom I think you know, said: "What are the leaders of the Labor Federation thinking? They imagine that with spending limits removed, organized labor will be able to buy enough--

RICHARD TRUMKA: We never argued--

BILL MOYERS: "--television time to reward their political friends and punish their political enemies."

RICHARD TRUMKA:Look, we've never been able to compete with them money wise. They outspend us ten, 12, 15 to one, all the time. But we never argued that. We never said take away the limits. We said completely the opposite. We said there ought to be limits on them. What we said was this language is constitutionally vague.

BILL MOYERS: So, would you support a constitutional amendment to reverse that decision and at least to take away the identity of corporations as persons?

RICHARD TRUMKA:Oh, short answer is yes. I want to be a little cautious about tinkering with the First Amendment. Because the First Amendment is really what makes us separate from much of the rest of the world. It's a wonderful right. And we have to protect it. So, I would want to be careful that we didn't have some unintended consequences with it. But, yeah, I would.

BILL MOYERS: So, how do you make unions relevant in a world where capital is mobile. Moving around. And the gap between capital and working people continues to increase no matter what happens.

RICHARD TRUMKA:Yeah. Well, first of all, I want to just touch on the relevancy thing. In the last election, we were about 25 to 26 percent of the vote. That's pretty relevant to anybody-- according to anybody's scale. But one of the things that we have to do, and I think in the past we haven't done a good enough job at this. We've expected young workers who are working in a different type of economy to change the way that they make a living to fit our model. Right now, we're in the process of changing our model so that we fit the way they make a living.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

RICHARD TRUMKA:Well, workers used to get one job-- take my dad. My dad went to work in-- well, my grandfathers went to work in a coal mine. My dad and his two brothers went to work in the same coal mine. I went to work in the same coal mine. My dad was there 44 years in the same coal mine. People don't do that now. They're going to be in two, three, four, five, six, seven places. So, we have to be able to accommodate them. Our model has to say, "We can help you. And- in the way you're making a living." Not say to them, "Well, figure out a way to stay 44 years at one place and we'll help you." So, it's up to us, and we're changing. And we're working real hard at it. And we're reaching out to young people. And we're reaching out into the community. And we're building allies and it's starting to have some effect, real fast.

BILL MOYERS:You are taking to the streets. I mean, you were arrested a few weeks ago in that demonstration for hotel workers out in San Francisco. Are you calling for more militancy? For more mobilization? More action in the street?

RICHARD TRUMKA:Absolutely. More mobilization. More education. I don't know whether you call it militancy or not. But it is more education, so our members know who is really doing it to them. Here's the model that we see. Instead of going after a politician and elected 60 people to the Senate, we create a groundswell of support for an issue that will get more than 60 votes. And those that don't vote for it do so at their own peril.

BILL MOYERS: So California Nurses, S.E.I.U., A.F. of L.C.I.O., all of you were out there mobilizing this last year, but we still didn't get a health care bill that you like.

RICHARD TRUMKA:Yeah, I think we mobilized around politicians rather than around the issue of health care. Now, that's a subtle difference, but a major one. Because if we continue to educate and mobilize around issues, then 60 votes doesn't matter anymore. It matters that people support that, and they'll lose just like they did in Massachusetts, if you don't grab onto that-- to the thing that they're supporting.

BILL MOYERS: From what interests you, from what you want from this Administration, what grade would you give the President, not just on his speech, but on what he's actually calling for and says he will do about the fix we're in?

RICHARD TRUMKA:Well, let's tick down the items. One, we're about jobs, jobs, jobs, and creating jobs. And I think he said and advocated that a number of times in the speech. And he convinced me that he understands and he's serious about that. He also understands that look, we can't just replicate the old economy. Because if we do, the same thing will happen. So, what we do-- we have to re-regulate Wall Street. And let me say this to you, Bill. 'Cause I think this is an extremely important point. There are two economies in this country. There's the real economy that makes things. And there's the financial economy that was supposed to provide them with the capital to make things. And they-- this was subservient, and the real economy was supposed to be the master. Somewhere along the line, that got turned on its head. And the financial community became the master. And they actually started sucking money out of the real economy, 'cause you could get a better return passing complex instruments around, rather than making steel or autos or anything else. So, it's up to us to correct that imbalance. To make it so that the real economy is actually the dominant economy. And the financial economy is a servant to make them- enable them to do their job. And that's going to take re-regulation so if we enacted everything he said with the jobs bill, that's an A minus. He's trying to fight for jobs. We're going to fight with him. Our job, all of us, as Americans, is to make sure that we push the Congress and the White House to do a jobs program that's of sufficient size to fix the problem. Not just dribble at it. But to fix the problem. And that's what we're hoping to do

BILL MOYERS: Richard Trumka, thank you very much for being with me on the Journal. I've enjoyed the conversation.

RICHARD TRUMKA: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

RICHARD TRUMKA: The economy's been all but destroyed, and we have to build a new one. A whole new one, based on good jobs not bad debt with America investing in an exporting technology and world class products, not financial crisis....


4) Jim Crow Policing
Op-Ed Columnist
February 2, 2010

The New York City Police Department needs to be restrained. The nonstop humiliation of young black and Hispanic New Yorkers, including children, by police officers who feel no obligation to treat them fairly or with any respect at all is an abomination. That many of the officers engaged in the mistreatment are black or Latino themselves is shameful.

Statistics will be out shortly about the total number of people who were stopped and frisked by the police in 2009. We already have the data for the first three-quarters of the year, and they are staggering. During that period, more than 450,000 people were stopped by the cops, an increase of 13 percent over the same period in 2008.

An overwhelming 84 percent of the stops in the first three-quarters of 2009 were of black or Hispanic New Yorkers. It is incredible how few of the stops yielded any law enforcement benefit. Contraband, which usually means drugs, was found in only 1.6 percent of the stops of black New Yorkers. For Hispanics, it was just 1.5 percent. For whites, who are stopped far less frequently, contraband was found 2.2 percent of the time.

The percentages of stops that yielded weapons were even smaller. Weapons were found on just 1.1 percent of the blacks stopped, 1.4 percent of the Hispanics, and 1.7 percent of the whites. Only about 6 percent of stops result in an arrest for any reason.

Rather than a legitimate crime-fighting tool, these stops are a despicable, racially oriented tool of harassment. And the police are using it at the increasingly enthusiastic direction of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

There were more than a half-million stops in New York City in 2008, and when the final tally is in, we'll find that the number only increased in 2009.

Not everyone who is stopped is frisked. When broken down by ethnic group, the percentages do not at first seem so wildly disproportionate. Some 59.4 percent of all Hispanics who were stopped were also frisked, as were 56.6 percent of blacks, and 46 percent of whites. But keep in mind, whites composed fewer than 16 percent of the people stopped in the first place.

These encounters with the police are degrading and often frightening, and the real number of people harassed is undoubtedly higher than the numbers reported by the police. Often the cops will stop, frisk and sometimes taunt people who are at their mercy, and then move on - without finding anything, making an arrest, or recording the encounter as they are supposed to.

Even the official reasons given by the police for the stops are laughably bogus. People are stopped for allegedly making "furtive movements," for wearing clothes "commonly used in a crime," and, of course, for the "suspicious bulge." My wallet, my notebook and my cellphone would all apply.

The police say they also stop people for wearing "inappropriate attire for the season." I saw a guy on the Upper West Side wearing shorts and sandals a couple weeks ago. That was certainly unusual attire for the middle of January, but it didn't cross my mind that he should be accosted by the police.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a class-action lawsuit against the city and the Police Department over the stops. Several plaintiffs detailed how their ordinary daily lives were interrupted by cops bent on harassment for no good reason. Lalit Carson was stopped while on a lunch break from his job as a teaching assistant at a charter school in the Bronx. Deon Dennis was stopped and searched while standing outside the apartment building in which he lives in Harlem. The police arrested him, allegedly because of an outstanding warrant. He was held for several hours then released. There was no outstanding warrant.

There are endless instances of this kind of madness. People going about their daily business, bothering no one, are menaced out of the blue by the police, forced to spread themselves face down in the street, or plaster themselves against a wall, or bend over the hood of a car, to be searched. People who object to the harassment are often threatened with arrest for disorderly conduct.

The Police Department insists that these stops of innocent people - which are unconstitutional, by the way - help fight crime. And they insist that the policy is not racist.

Paul Browne, the chief spokesman for Commissioner Kelly, described the stops as "life-saving." And he has said repeatedly that the racial makeup of the people stopped and frisked is proportionally similar to the racial makeup of people committing crimes.

That is an amazingly specious argument. The fact that a certain percentage of criminals may be black or Hispanic is no reason for the police to harass individuals from those groups when there is no indication whatsoever that they have done anything wrong.

It's time to put an end to Jim Crow policing in New York City.


5) As Marines Move In, Taliban Fight a Shadowy War
"...shepherds whistled in the darkness, passing warning of the Americans' approach. Dogs barked themselves hoarse. The din rose in every direction, enveloping the column in noise. And then, as the Marines became visible in the bluish twilight, a minivan rumbled out of one compound. Its driver steered ahead of the company, honking the van's horn, spreading the alarm. Spotters appeared on roofs." [So, if you have a dog that barks when strangers approach, you must be Taliban, of course! What more proof do the Marines need? How shifty the Taliban are to be able to train dogs that way! And, oh!, they use smoke signals too. So if you're cooking on your stove--that means your Taliban too! This is the most insane article I have read about U.S. battlefield tactics....bw]
February 2, 2010

KARARDAR, Afghanistan - The Marine infantry company, accompanied by a squad of Afghan soldiers, set out long before dawn. It walked silently through the dark fields with plans of arriving at a group of mud-walled compounds in Helmand Province at sunrise.

The company had received intelligence reports that 40 to 50 Taliban fighters had moved into this village a few days before, and the battalion had set a cordon around it. The Marines hoped to surprise any insurgents within.

But as the company moved, shepherds whistled in the darkness, passing warning of the Americans' approach. Dogs barked themselves hoarse. The din rose in every direction, enveloping the column in noise. And then, as the Marines became visible in the bluish twilight, a minivan rumbled out of one compound. Its driver steered ahead of the company, honking the van's horn, spreading the alarm. Spotters appeared on roofs.

Marine operations like this one in mid-January, along with interviews with dozens of Marines, reveal the insurgents' evolving means of waging an Afghan brand of war, even as more American troops arrive.

Mixing modern weapons with ancient signaling techniques, the Taliban have developed the habits and tactics to evade capture and to disrupt American and Afghan operations, all while containing risks to their ranks.

Seven months after the Marines began flowing forces into Helmand Province, clearing territory and trying to establish local Afghan government, such tactics have helped the Taliban transform themselves from the primary provincial power to a canny but mostly unseen force.

Until last year Helmand Province had been a zone outside of government influence, where beyond the presence of a few Western outposts the Taliban enjoyed free movement and supremacy. The province served as both a fighters' haven and the center of Afghanistan's poppy production, providing rich revenue streams for the war against the central government and the Western forces that protect it.

In areas where they have built bases, the Marines have undermined the Taliban's position. But the insurgents have consolidated and adapted, and remain a persistent and cunning presence.

On the morning of the sweep, made by Weapons Company, Third Battalion, First Marines, a large communications antenna that rose from one compound vanished before the Marines could reach it. The man inside insisted that he had seen nothing. And when the Marines moved within the compounds' walls, people in nearby houses released white pigeons, revealing the Americans' locations to anyone watching from afar.

The Taliban and their supporters use other signals besides car horns and pigeons, including kites flown near American movements and dense puffs of smoke released from chimneys near where a unit patrols.

"You'll go to one place, and for some reason there will be a big plume of smoke ahead of you," said Capt. Paul D. Stubbs, the Weapons Company commander. "As you go to the next place, there will be another."

"Our impression," he added, "is the people are doing it because they are getting paid to do it."

Late in the morning during the company's sweep, the insurgents fired a few bursts of automatic rifle fire from outside the cordon. Later still, they lobbed a single mortar round toward the company. It exploded in a field without causing any harm.

No one could tell exactly where the fire came from. This showed another side of the Taliban's local activities. Wary of engaging the Marines while they were ready and massed, fighters risked nothing more than this harassing fire.

The sweep was not entirely fruitless. In several houses, Afghan soldiers found sacks of poppy seeds, which they carried outside, slashed open with knives and set on fire. In a few houses, they found processed opium and heroin. But the Taliban's fighters had proved elusive again.

Another example of the insurgents' patience has been their selection of locations for hiding bombs, which the military calls I.E.D.'s, for improvised explosive devices. Many of these bombs are detonated by the weight of a person or vehicle that depresses a pressure plate.

The steppe is vast. The pressure plates are small - often covering not much more surface area than a man's boot. To emplace the bombs where they are most likely to kill, the Taliban watch the Marines' habits carefully, including how small units react in the first instants of a firefight.

While the Marines scatter, take cover and maneuver, using walls and small rises as firing positions to bound from, the insurgents take note. "This is what they do: Shoot, and observe where the Marines go," said Lt. Col. Matthew Baker, the battalion's commander. "And where the Marines go, that is where they will put an I.E.D."

On two patrols the battalion made last month, the Taliban's sense of their enemy's previous movements seemed well developed.

On one, a Marine stepped on a pressure plate rigged to a bomb that did not explode. The pressure plate was located against a wall on a knoll with a commanding view of surrounding ground. The Marines said units had used the knoll as a firing position many times.

On another, an antitank land mine had been placed in the dirt on a turnaround loop beside one of the province's main roads - exactly where an Afghan police unit often parks its cars.

Part of the Taliban's enduring tactical position, the Marines say, is related to their control of Marja, a well-defended de facto capital just outside the Marines' current area of operations. At least hundreds of Taliban fighters have taken refuge. The town is protected by elaborate defenses and by a network of irrigation canals built by a United States development program a half-century ago.

From within Marja, the Marines also say, the Taliban manufacture improvised explosives and send fighters and suicide bombers on attacks throughout the province, including the suicide raid last week into Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.

When Marine units approach Marja, the dangers rise. The insurgents run an active picket network, some of the workings of which were visible late last week on a Bravo Company security patrol that left Observation Post ManBearPig at Treekha Nawa.

After picking their way westward, searching for hidden bombs as they moved, the lead Marines crept toward the top of a low, rocky bluff. They peered over the opposite side at a group of mud-walled compounds several hundred yards ahead.

This was the outer perimeter of Marja, which was about eight miles away.

The Taliban's spotters went to work. A man on a motorcycle sped down the road and entered one of the compounds. Heads appeared over the walls, above small holes from which Taliban fighters might fire assault rifles and machine guns. (The Marines call these "murder holes.")

The civilians who had been outside disappeared. Both sides quietly eyed each other from just outside of rifle range.

The Bravo Company commander, Capt. Thomas J. Grace, had ordered patrols not to become decisively engaged with the Taliban's fighters in this no man's land. The company is the forward line of Marine presence, and has limited manpower to consolidate on new ground after a fight.

"There is absolutely no reason to go out there and kick in doors and get in a big fight," he said. "Because you can't hold it."

Several thousand more Marines are expected in the province later this year, Marine officers say, which will allow the Afghans and Americans to clear and hold a larger area than they control now, and ultimately to displace the Taliban from Marja.

In the interim, at the Marines' most forward positions, the two sides probe each other with patrols. On this day, the patrol leader, First Lt. Ryan P. Richter, could see the trap.

His platoon had been in many firefights here. If the patrol continued over the bluff and into the open, it would be enveloped by fire from three sides. In the contest of Helmand Province, he said, this remained for the moment Taliban turf.


6) Deficits May Alter U.S. Politics and Global Power
News Analysis
February 2, 2010

WASHINGTON - In a federal budget filled with mind-boggling statistics, two numbers stand out as particularly stunning, for the way they may change American politics and American power.

The first is the projected deficit in the coming year, nearly 11 percent of the country's entire economic output. That is not unprecedented: During the Civil War, World War I and World War II, the United States ran soaring deficits, but usually with the expectation that they would come back down once peace was restored and war spending abated.

But the second number, buried deeper in the budget's projections, is the one that really commands attention: By President Obama's own optimistic projections, American deficits will not return to what are widely considered sustainable levels over the next 10 years. In fact, in 2019 and 2020 - years after Mr. Obama has left the political scene, even if he serves two terms - they start rising again sharply, to more than 5 percent of gross domestic product. His budget draws a picture of a nation that like many American homeowners simply cannot get above water.

For Mr. Obama and his successors, the effect of those projections is clear: Unless miraculous growth, or miraculous political compromises, creates some unforeseen change over the next decade, there is virtually no room for new domestic initiatives for Mr. Obama or his successors. Beyond that lies the possibility that the United States could begin to suffer the same disease that has afflicted Japan over the past decade. As debt grew more rapidly than income, that country's influence around the world eroded.

Or, as Mr. Obama's chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, used to ask before he entered government a year ago, "How long can the world's biggest borrower remain the world's biggest power?"

The Chinese leadership, which is lending much of the money to finance the American government's spending, and which asked pointed questions about Mr. Obama's budget when members visited Washington last summer, says it thinks the long-term answer to Mr. Summers's question is self-evident. The Europeans will also tell you that this is a big worry about the next decade.

Mr. Obama himself hinted at his own concern when he announced in early December that he planned to send 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan, but insisted that the United States could not afford to stay for long.

"Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power," he told cadets at West Point. "It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry."

And then he explained why even a "war of necessity," as he called Afghanistan last summer, could not last for long.

"That's why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended," he said then, "because the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own."

Mr. Obama's budget deserves credit for its candor. It does not sugarcoat, at least excessively, the potential magnitude of the problem. President George W. Bush kept claiming, until near the end of his presidency, that he would leave office with a balanced budget. He never got close; in fact, the deficits soared in his last years.

Mr. Obama has published the 10-year numbers in part, it seems, to make the point that the political gridlock of the past few years, in which most Republicans refuse to talk about tax increases and Democrats refuse to talk about cutting entitlement programs, is unsustainable. His prescription is that the problem has to be made worse, with intense deficit spending to lower the unemployment rate, before the deficits can come down.

Mr. Summers, in an interview on Monday afternoon, said, "The budget recognizes the imperatives of job creation and growth in the short run, and takes significant measures to increase confidence in the medium term."

He was referring to the freeze on domestic, non-national-security-related spending, the troubled effort to cut health care costs, and the decision to let expire Bush-era tax cuts for corporations and families earning more than $250,000.

But Mr. Summers said that "through the budget and fiscal commission, the president has sought to provide maximum room for making further adjustments as necessary before any kind of crisis arrives."

Turning that thought into political action, however, has proved harder and harder for the Washington establishment. Republicans stayed largely silent about the debt during the Bush years. Democrats have described it as a necessary evil during the economic crisis that defined Mr. Obama's first year. Interest in a long-term solution seems limited. Or, as Isabel V. Sawhill of the Brookings Institution put it Monday on MSNBC, "The problem here is not honesty, but political will."

One source of that absence of will is that the political warnings are contradicted by the market signals. The Treasury has borrowed money to finance the government's deficits at remarkably low rates, the strongest indicator that the markets believe they will be paid back on time and in full.

The absence of political will is also facilitated by the fact that, as Prof. James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas puts it, "Forecasts 10 years out have no credibility."

He is right. In the early years of the Clinton administration, government projections indicated huge deficits - over the "sustainable" level of 3 percent - by 2000. But by then, Mr. Clinton was running a modest surplus of about $200 billion, a point Mr. Obama made Monday as he tried anew to remind the country that the moment was squandered when "the previous administration and previous Congresses created an expensive new drug program, passed massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and funded two wars without paying for any of it."

But with this budget, Mr. Obama now owns this deficit. And as Mr. Galbraith pointed out, it is possible that the gloomy projections for 2020 are equally flawed.

Simply projecting that health care costs will rise unabated is dangerous business.

"Much may depend on whether we put in place the financial reforms that can rebuild a functional financial system," Mr. Galbraith said, to finance growth in the private sector - the kind of growth that ultimately saved Mr. Clinton from his own deficit projections.

His greatest hope, Mr. Galbraith said, was Stein's law, named for Herbert Stein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford.

Stein's law has been recited in many different versions. But all have a common theme: If a trend cannot continue, it will stop.


7) Suit Points to Guest Worker Program Flaws
February 2, 2010

Immigration authorities worked closely with a marine oil-rig company in Mississippi to discourage protests by temporary guest workers from India over their job conditions, including advising managers to send some workers back to India, according to new testimony in a federal lawsuit against the company, Signal International.

The cooperation between the company and federal immigration agents is recounted in sworn depositions by Signal managers who were involved when tensions in its shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., erupted into a public clash in March 2007.

Since then, hundreds of the Indian workers have brought a civil rights lawsuit against the company, claiming they were victims of human trafficking and labor abuse. Signal International is fighting the suit and has sued American and Indian recruiters who contracted with the workers in India. The company claims the recruiters misled it - and the workers - about the terms of the work visas that brought them to this country.

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have opened separate investigations. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined in September that there was "reasonable cause" to believe the Indian guest workers at Signal had faced discrimination and a work environment "laced with ridicule and harassment."

The Signal case has come to represent some of the flaws and pitfalls, for immigrants and for employers, in the H-2B temporary guest worker program. As Congressional lawmakers weigh moving forward this year on an overhaul of the immigration system, they are debating whether to include an expansion of guest worker programs.

A lawyer for Signal, Erin C. Hangartner, said the company could not comment on the suit.

As it rushed to repair offshore oil rigs after Hurricane Katrina, Signal International hired about 500 skilled metalworkers from India in 2006. Numerous workers have said that they paid as much as $20,000 to Signal's recruiters, many going into debt or selling their homes. They said recruiters had promised that their visas would soon be converted to green cards, allowing them to remain as permanent residents.

Once the workers realized they would not receive green cards, many complained of fraud and banded together to seek help from American lawyers.

In a deposition in the lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in New Orleans, Signal's chief operating officer, Ronald Schnoor, said he grew frustrated with Indian workers who were "chronic whiners." In early 2007 he decided to fire several who were encouraging protests.

Those workers "were making impossible demands" for the company to secure green cards for them or to repay the high fees, Mr. Schnoor said. They were "taking workers away from their work and actually trying to get them to join some effort they were organizing," he said.

Mr. Schnoor and Darrell Snyder, a manager in the shipyard, where the Indians were living in a labor camp, said they had consulted with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement for "guidance" on how to fire the workers, following the rules of the H-2B program.

Mr. Schnoor said the "direction" he received from an immigration enforcement agent was this: "Don't give them any advance notice. Take them all out of the line on the way to work; get their personal belongings; get them in a van, and get their tickets, and get them to the airport, and send them back to India."

Signal managers said they tried to carry out those instructions on March 9, 2007, putting several Indian workers into vans to take them to the airport. They were prevented from leaving the shipyard by immigrant advocates gathered at the gates.

In an internal e-mail message 10 days later, Mr. Snyder reported that another immigration official had assured him in a meeting that day that the agency would pursue any Indian workers who left their jobs, "if for no other reason than to send a message to the remaining workers that it is not in their best interests to try and 'push' the system."

Carl Falstrom, an immigration lawyer in New Orleans who is not associated with the Signal case, said there were rules for employers who fired guest workers. They are required to provide return airfare to the workers' home countries, and they are supposed to notify the visa agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, when workers are no longer employed. But, Mr. Falstrom said, private companies cannot carry out deportations.

Saket Soni, director of the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, which represents some workers in the lawsuit, said the managers' testimony showed that immigration enforcement agents had "advised the corporation on how to retaliate against workers who were organizing."

An ICE spokesman, Brian Hale, said he could not comment on a continuing investigation. But Mr. Hale said ICE agents were generally aware that a company that fires workers in the H-2B program "is prohibited from compelling individuals to get on the plane."


8) Pennsylvania: 3 Officers Suspended
National Briefing | Mid-Atlantic
February 2, 2010

Pittsburgh has suspended three white police officers while officials investigate accusations that they beat a black teenager who was walking to his grandmother's house after dark. Jordan Miles, an 18-year-old violist who attends Pittsburgh's prestigious Creative and Performing Arts High School, alleges that Officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak beat him without provocation. A criminal complaint says Mr. Miles, who was charged with assault and resisting arrest, was standing against a building "as if he was trying to avoid being seen." The officers say they believed he was carrying a gun - which police said turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew.


9) Haiti On Our Minds
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
January 16, 2010

The recent natural disaster in Haiti, has once again, thrown Haiti into the eyes of the world, and once again, brought out both the best and worst of us.

The sheer scale of human suffering has evoked massive compassion, as governments far and wide mobilize to assist those who are unable to assist themselves.

Haiti, once the colonial-era "Pearl of the Antilles" (Caribbean), then the "Mother of Revolutions", has suffered for nearly two centuries for daring to fight for, and win, its freedom from European colonialism, slavery and plunder.

Haiti, we are informed by the corporate media, is the poorest nation in the West. We are never told however, how it got that way. How many of us know that the U.S. brutally occupied Haiti, and stayed there for over 20 years? Or that Haiti, which had the temerity to defeat not one, not two, but three colonial armies (the French, the British, and the Spanish), was forced to pay France billions of dollars in reparations for 200 years -- the first and only time in history that a victor in war had to pay back the nation it defeated!?

Haiti isn't just poor; it's been impoverished by a global system of exploitation and a plantation capitalist economy that was designed as a sanction for Black Liberation.

The U.S., its nearest, richest neighbor, didn't recognize or trade with the country for nearly 60 years -- or until a Civil War brought a formal end to slavery on these shores.

C.L.R. James, the revolutionary scholar/activist, has argued that the Haitian Revolution was a singular event in human history, of more significance than either the French or American revolutions.

That an American preacher (and former presidential candidate could today liken the event to the devil gives us some sense of its continuing power.

Interestingly, neither of these other revolutions spelled an end to that truly demonic institution -- slavery. Indeed, the reverse is true, for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners, and Napoleon Bonaparte sent his armies to Haiti to defend slavery.

Decade after decade of U.S. supported dictators, a legacy of plantation capitalism and exploitation, U.S. supported coups (like the Bush-era removal of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide), and corporate strangulation of poor Haitian workers, has left it severely under-developed, and thus, less able to cope with natural disasters when they strike.

Several years ago, when a hurricane hit a city in the world's wealthiest nation, the wealthy and middle classes had the resources to flee just before the worst struck town. The poor were left to fend for themselves.

In Haiti, those resources were even more rare.

But an earthquake isn't a hurricane. It strikes suddenly, often without significant warning.

But many nations, like Japan, have constructed buildings which resist the bumps and whirls of earthquakes. Such techniques, if applied to Haitian schools, homes and offices, could've greatly alleviated loss of life and suffering.

If it hadn't been bled and exploited for centuries, Haiti would've had the wherewithal to protect its people as much as possible.

Let us hope that Haiti's future will be brighter than its post colonial past.

--(c) '10 maj