Sunday, August 22, 2010



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




From: Local 2 UNITE HERE!

Join Local 2's All-Day Picketlines!

O'Farrell and Mason Streets
August 25 & 26, 2010
7am to 7pm

for another siege action!

September 2, 2010
7am to 7pm
Venue to be announced

We always have a Labor Day action, but this year we will join another national coordinated hotel workers' protest on Thursday, September 2. The venue for this 12-hour siege will be announced soon. Please save the date and commit to a two-hour picket shift.



UNITE HERE! is leading the fight to for hotel workers - many of them women of color and immigrants - in hotels across San Francisco and North America. UNITE HERE! represents more than 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hospitality, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, laundry, and airport industries. We are at the forefront of the battle for workers rights, immigration reform and living wages.

In San Francisco, union contracts for thousands of hotel workers have expired. These workers are standing in solidarity to defend their standards against dozens ruthless hotel corporations. Additionally, non-union hotel workers are also engaged in an ongoing struggle at two hotels, the HEI Le Meridien and the Hyatt at Fisherman's Wharf.

Our ground-up model of organizing and our comprehensive corporate campaigns are largely worker and volunteer run. In this current economic crisis, it is more important than ever for committed local activists to get involved in the fight for workers rights.

We are seeking enthusiastic volunteer activists to help build the labor movement in San Francisco. Currently, the Local 2 Boycott Apprenticeship Program is offering non-paid internship opportunities.


Location: San Francisco

Education: No requirement

Additional Qualifications:
Passion for social justice, assertive personality and basic computer skills for research (Spreadsheets, Databases, Internet search tools).

Duties include:

30% - Coordinating and executing creative actions at strategic locations to help enforce worker called boycotts.

70% - Research and campaign related work.

4 - 10 Hours a week minimum, Ongoing program.


Let us learn together, and fight together. Join Local 2's awesome Boycott Team.

For volunteer opportunities, please contact:
Powell DeGange,
415-864-8770 ext. 759

Sign the Hotel Boycott Pledge:

Click here for details and figures showing why these corporations have no excuse not to provide hotel workers affordable quality health care:


For a current list of boycotted hotels, please check our website

Join our Facebook Groups:
"Boycott HEI Le Meridien and Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf"
"UNITE HERE Local 2"

Check our Websites:


Please forward widely:

Important August 29 United Antiwar Meeting in SF
AUGUST 29, 2010 AT 1-3 PM

The fight against U.S. wars and occupations and against the war on working people at home took a giant step forward on July 23-25 when 800 antiwar and social justice activists across the country as well as from Canada and Latin America attended the United National Antiwar Conference (UNAC) in Albany, New York. Sponsored by 31 national organizations, 128 speakers participated in 33 workshops and three major panel presentations as well as in several plenary debates to hammer out and unanimously adopt a nine-month Action Plan (See attached). The conference provided new opportunities to unite and reinvigorate a movement that has been at a low ebb for some time. UNAC participants understood that the economic crisis and never-ending U.S. wars have convinced increasing layers of the population that a return to the streets and coordinated/united actions and events in many other forms are more than ever required.

Bring the Troops Home Now!, Money for Jobs, Education, the Environment, Pensions, Housing!, etc, and End U.S. Aid to Israel! End U.S. Support to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the the Siege of Gaza! were the central demands adopted. But the conference approved a broad range of demands in opposition to U.S. threats of war against Iran and increasing U.S. incursions in Latin America and Africa.

The conference affirmed the need for solidarity with Arab and Muslim communities who have been scapegoated by the "war on terrorism" and affirmed its solidarity with political prisoners, immigrants, LGBT people and all others who have suffered from government attacks on civil liberties and democratic rights.

This was truly the largest and broadest antiwar conference in decades, a gathering that opened the door to new opportunities to broaden, deepen and re-mobilize our movement.

To help make this unanimously-adopted Action Plan, that includes activities and mobilizations of all kinds over a nine-month period and culminates in an April 9 bi-coastal San Francisco/New York/Los Angles mass mobilization, a reality, we need the collaboration and participation of everyone.

Join us on August 29 at 1:00 pm. Most all of the Bay Area activists who attended the UNAC conference will be present to relate their Albany experience and to help forge a Bay Area/Northern California UNAC (United National Antiwar Committee) to implement the ambitious plans adopted.

In solidarity,

Blanca Miessé, Bill Balderston, Jeff Mackler, Millie Phillips, Dolores Perez Priem, Carole Seligman, Daniel Alley (Bay Area UNAC conference participants, partial list)

(Special thanks to the UUs for Peace for securing the space.)


Action Program Adopted by the National Conference to Bring the Troops Home Now!
Albany, New York, July 23-25, 2010

Part 1: Preface

Given the escalation of the war in Afghanistan since the election of President Obama, the challenges facing the antiwar movement are greater now than ever.

To end the U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and re-orient the nation's priorities from empire building to solving the pressing needs at home, we need to join and support the rising mass social movements embracing the broadest popular sectors of society - which should be independent of, but welcome support from, all political parties as well as those outside any party. A winning antiwar movement must be integrally linked to the struggles for jobs, education, housing, health care, civil rights and liberties, social justice, labor rights, immigration rights, the rights of youth and children, environmental protection, gender rights, gay rights, and fundamental human rights. It must join those groups focused on those issues as well as the traditional peace movement.

History has demonstrated time and again that the combination of these qualities coupled with an inclusive, collaborative and representative leadership can change the course of history.

This was the case with the massive social movements that were constructed to end the Vietnam War, win formal civil rights for excluded races and peoples, advance the cause of women's equality, and challenge the prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people. It was the same unity in action that brought into being a massive trade union movement that challenged the previously dominant forces of the corporate elite and wrested unprecedented victories in the quality of life and culture for working people

Today we face the challenge of perpetual wars abroad becoming part of our national culture as are unceasing attacks on the quality of life and the standard of living at home. We are witness to multi-trillion dollar bailouts of the same institutions that have brought grief and pain to countless millions and obliterated hard won social and economic gains that were a century and longer in the making.

Our youth are subject to an economic draft that places them in harm's way around the world where poor people fight for their right to self-determination and resist interventions for profit and plunder. Women and children are the primary civilian victims of war both abroad and here at home, where education and social service budgets are slashed while pensions, health care, wages, union rights and civil liberties are under siege.

Trillions are expended to fund increasingly privatized wars fought in large part with mercenary armies and to maintain 865 military bases around the world. Meanwhile veterans - first place in the statistics of the homeless and unemployed - are compelled to fight for denied benefits to treat horrific diseases caused by U.S. biological and now radiation-emitting weapons of war while the people of destroyed nations suffer the same, but magnified, and long-term horrors. Moreover, they are subjected to successive incidents of grotesque and inhuman torture.

We are confronted with imperial wars over control of markets and natural resources, including the very fossil fuel resources whose continued use threatens the future of all humankind. We call for support of the Transition Town Movement, where in over 30 cities nationwide, people are mobilizing to prepare their communities for the end of the fossil fuel era. These sustainable initiatives include self-sufficiency in food, shelter, energy and community, with emphasis on psychological and moral support in the expected difficult times ahead. These efforts are independent of the actions taken by the political leadership of the country.

The U.S. gives $3 billion a year in military aid as well as economic and diplomatic support to Israel to maintain U.S. economic and strategic dominance in the region. This support sustains an apartheid regime engaged in land theft, discrimination, occupation and repression of Palestinians, including the refugees outside of Palestine, within the occupied territories, and within the borders of Israel proper. The U.S. supports Israeli acts of aggression, such as the attacks on Lebanon in 2006, the attacks on Gaza in 2008-09, and the murder of aid activists in the Free Gaza Flotilla.

Our love of humanity, opposition to expanding wars and occupations unleashed by the Pentagon, and respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, including the right of self-determination for all peoples, require that we demand of the U.S. government:

The allocation of the trillions spent on wars and corporate bailouts be directed to funding massive programs for jobs at union wages, education, a single-payer universal health care system, child care, housing and preserving the environment. Compensation to be paid to the peoples whose countries the U.S. attacked and occupied for the loss of lives and massive destruction they suffered.

The immediate, total and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops, mercenaries and contractors from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and the immediate closing of all U.S. bases in those countries. Bring all the Troops and War Dollars Home Now!

Reverse and end all foreclosures. Stop the government attacks on trade unions, civil and democratic rights, and immigrant communities.

End U.S. aid to Israel - military, economic, and diplomatic. End U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the blockade of Gaza.

We also recognize that Haiti, Honduras, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Costa Rica, and other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are targeted for intervention, subversion, occupation and control as a consequence of a militarized U.S. foreign policy. Our challenge is not only to end wars and occupations, but to fundamentally change the aggressive policies that inevitably lead our country to militarism and war and to show our utmost solidarity with those struggling against U.S. intervention. Toward that end, we demand the immediate closing of the School of the Americas (renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation," after being thoroughly exposed and discredited).

We also demand of all nations the abolition of nuclear weapons, inclusive of development, maintenance, storage sale and use of weapons. Given that the U.S. is the only country on earth and in history that has used nuclear weapons, and recognizing that the U.S. holds more weapons than any other country, the U.S. should take the lead in abolition of nuclear weapons and work toward nuclear free regions throughout the world.

Part 2: Proposals for United Actions

1. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the United Auto Workers (UAW) have invited peace organizations to endorse and participate in a campaign for Jobs, Justice, and Peace. We endorse this campaign and plan to be a part of it. On August 28, 2010, in Detroit, we will march on the anniversary of that day in 1963 when Walter Reuther, president of UAW, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders joined with hundreds of thousands of Americans for the March on Washington. In Detroit, prior to the March on Washington, 125,000 marchers participated in the Freedom Walk led by Dr. King. At the march, King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech for the first time before sharing it with the world in Washington. This year, a massive march has been called for October 2 in Washington. We will begin to build momentum again in Detroit on August 28th. We also endorse the August 28, 2010 Reclaim the Dream Rally and March called by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network to begin at 11 a.m. at Dunbar High School, 1301 New Jersey Avenue Northwest.

2. Endorse, promote and mobilize for the Saturday, October 2nd "One Nation" march on Washington, DC initiated by 1199SEIU and the NAACP, now being promoted by a growing coalition, which includes the AFL-CIO and U.S. Labor Against the War, and civil rights, peace and other social justice forces in support of the demand for jobs, redirection of national resources from militarism and war to meeting human needs, fully funding vital social programs, and addressing the fiscal crisis of state and local governments. Organize and build an antiwar contingent to participate in the march. Launch a full-scale campaign to get endorsements for the October 2 march on Washington commencing with the final plenary session of this conference.

3. Endorse the call issued by a range of student groups for Thursday, October 7, as a national day of action to defend education from the horrendous budget cuts that are laying off teachers, closing schools, raising tuition and limiting access to education, especially for working and low income people. Demand "Money for Education, not U.S. Occupations" and otherwise link the cuts in spending for education to the astronomical costs of U.S. wars and occupations

4. Devote October 7-16 to organizing local and regional protests to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan through demonstrations, marches, rallies, vigils, teach-ins, cultural events and other actions to demand an immediate end to the wars and occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan and complete withdrawal of all military forces and private security contractors and other mercenaries. The nature and scheduling of these events will reflect the needs of local sponsors and should be designed to attract broad co-sponsorship and diverse participation of antiwar forces with other social justice organizations and progressive constituencies.

5. The U.S. military is the largest polluter in the world. Therefore we endorse the "climate chaos" demonstration in Washington D.C. on October 11, coordinated by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.

6. Support and build Remember Fallujah Week November 15-19

7. Join the new and existing broad-based campaigns to fund human needs and cut the military budget. Join with organizations representing the fight against cutbacks (especially labor and community groups) to build coalitions at the city/town, state and national level. Draft resolutions for city councils, town and village meetings and voter referendum ballot questions linking astronomical war spending to denial of essential public services at home. (Model resolutions and ballot questions will be circulated for consideration of local groups.) Obtain endorsements of elected officials, town and city councils, state parties and legislatures, and labor bodies. Work the legislative process to make military spending an issue. Oppose specific military funding programs and bills, and couple them with human needs funding issues. Use lobbying and other forms of protest, including civil disobedience campaigns, to focus attention on the issue.

8. Mid-March, 2011 nationally coordinated local teach-ins and protests to mark the eighth year of the Iraq War and to prepare for bi-coastal spring demonstrations the following month.

9. Bi-Coastal mass spring mobilizations in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles on April 9, 2011. These will be accompanied by distinct and separate non-violent direct actions on the same day. A prime component of these mobilizations will be major efforts to include broad new forces from youth to veterans to trade unionists to civil and human rights groups to the Arab, Muslim and other oppressed communities, to environmental organizations, social justice and faith-based groups. Veterans and military families will be key to these mobilizations with special efforts to organize this community to be the lead contingent. Launch a full-scale campaign to get endorsements for these actions commencing with the final plenary session of this conference.

10. Select a week prior to or after the April actions for local lobbying of elected officials at a time when Congress is not in session. Lobbying to take multiple forms from meeting with local officials to protests at their offices and homes. We will attend the town hall meetings of our Congresspersons and confront them vigorously on their support for the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and sanctions on Iran. We also will press them on the unconstitutional diminution of the civil liberties of all Americans and targeted populations."

11. Consistent with the call to include broad popular sectors of society in our efforts and to contend with the challenges of opposing U.S. wars and occupations while also rejecting attacks at home, National Peace Conference participants will join May Day actions on May 1, 2011, so as to unite all those standing against war and for rights. U.S. military and trade wars force millions of refugees and migrants to the U.S., where they face growing repression, including mass detentions and deportations. Many immigrants, including youth, are forced into the military, through the economic draft as well as under threat of deportation and using false promises of citizenship. By standing together as one on May Day, the antiwar and immigrant rights movements make clear their united stand against U.S. wars and for the rights of all at home and abroad

12. National tours. Organize, over a series of months, nationally-coordinated tours of prominent speakers and local activists that link the demands for immediate withdrawal to the demands for funding social programs, as outlined above. Encourage alternatives to military/lethal intervention, relying on research and experience of local and international peace team efforts.

13. Pressure on Iran from the US, Israel and other quarters continues to rise and the threat of a catastrophic military attack on Iran, as well as the ratcheting up of punitive sanctions that primarily impact the people of Iran, are of grave concern. In the event of an imminent U.S. government attack on Iran, or such an attack, or a U.S.-backed Israeli attack against Iran, or any other major international crisis triggered by U.S. military action, a continuations committee approved by the conference will mount rapid, broad and nationally coordinated protests by antiwar and social justice activists.

14. In the event of U.S.-backed military action by Israel against Palestinians, aid activists attempting to end the blockade of Gaza, or attacks on other countries such as Lebanon, Syria, or Iran, a continuations committee approved by the conference will condemn such attacks and support widespread protest actions.

15. In solidarity with the antiwar movements of Japan and Korea, each calling for U.S. Troops to Get Out Now, and given the great increase in U.S. military preparations against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, National Peace Conference participants will organize immediate protests following any attack by the U.S. on Korea. U.S. war preparations include stockpiling hundreds of bunker-busters and conducting major war games near the territorial waters of China and Korea. In keeping with our stand for the right of self-determination and our demand of Out Now, the National Peace Conference calls for All U.S. Troops Home Now!

16. Support actions to end the Israeli occupation and repression of Palestinians and the blockade of Gaza.

17. Support actions aimed at dismantling the Cold War nuclear, biological, radiological and chemical weapons and delivery systems. Support actions aimed at stopping the nuclear renaissance of this Administration, which has proposed to spend $80 billion over the next 10 years to build three new nuclear bomb making factories and "well over" $100 billion over the same period to modernize nuclear weapons delivery systems. We must support actions aimed at dismantling nuclear, biological, radiological and chemical weapons and delivery systems. We must oppose the re-opening of the uranium mining industry, new nuclear power plants, and extraction of other fossil fuels that the military consumes.

18. Work in solidarity with GIs, veterans, and military families to support their campaigns and calls for action. Demand support for the troops when they return home and support efforts to counter military recruitment.

19. Take actions against war profiteers, including oil and energy companies, weapons manufacturers, and engineering firms, whose contractors are working to insure U.S. economic control of Iraq's and Afghanistan's resources.

20. Support actions, educational efforts and lobbying campaigns to promote a transition to a sustainable peace economy.

21. Develop and implement a multi-pronged national media campaign which includes the following: the honing of a message which will capture our message: "End the Wars and Occupations, Bring the Dollars Home"; a fundraising campaign which would enable the creation and national placement and broadcast of professionally developed print ads as public service radio and television spots which communicate this imperative to the public as a whole (which would involve coordinated outreach to some major funders); outreach to sympathetic media artists to enable the creation of these pieces; an intentional, aggressive, coordinated campaign to garner interviews on as many targeted national news venues as possible which would feature movement voices speaking to the honed our nationally coordinated message; a plan to place on message op-ed pieces in papers around the country on a nationally coordinated schedule.

22. We demand the immediate and total withdrawal of U.S. military forces, mercenaries and contractors from Afghanistan and Iraq, and an end to drone attacks on Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries and call for self-determination for the people of all countries. In this demand is the necessity for full truth and transparency regarding all U.S./NATO actions and an expanded development of independent news sources for broad public knowledge of the state of the wars and occupations. We demand an end to censorship of news topics and full democratic access to freedom of information within the U.S. NATO Military Industrial Media Empire.

23. We call for the equal participation of women in all aspects of the antiwar movement. We propose nonviolent direct actions either in Congressional offices or other appropriate and strategic locations, possibly defense contractors, Federal Buildings, or military bases in the U.S. These actions would be local and coordinated nationally, i.e., the same day for everyone (times may vary). The actions would probably result in arrests for sitting in after offices close. Entering certain facilities could also result in arrests. Participants would be prepared for that possible outcome before joining the action. Nonviolence training would be offered locally, with lists of trainers being made available. The message/demand would be a vote, a congressional action to end the wars: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Close U.S. bases. Costs of war and financial issues related to social needs neglected because of war spending would need to be studied and statements regarding same be prepared before the actions. Press release would encourage coverage because of the actions being local and nationally coordinated.

24. We will convene one or more committees or conferences for the purpose of identifying and arranging boycotts, sit-ins, and other actions that directly interfere with the immoral aspects of the violence and wars that we protest.

25. We call for the immediate release from Israeli prisons of Mordechai Vanunu and for ending restrictions on his right to speak. We also call upon the Israeli government to let him travel freely and to leave Israel permanently if he so desires.

26. We call for building and expanding the movement for peace by consciously and continually linking it with the urgent necessity to create jobs and fund social needs. We call for support from the antiwar movement to tie the wars and the funding for the wars to the urgent domestic issues through leaflets, signs, banners and active participation in the growing number of mass actions demanding jobs, health care, housing, education and immigrant rights such as:

July 25 - March in Albany in Support of Muslims Targeted by Preemptive Prosecution called by the Muslim Solidarity Committee and Project Salam.

July 29 & 30 - Boycott Arizona Actions across the country as racist Arizona law

SB 1070 goes into effect, including the mass march July 30 in NYC as the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Mets.

All the other mass actions listed above leading up to the bi-coastal actions on April 9, 2011.

27. The continuations committee elected at this conference shall reach out to other peace and social justice groups holding protests in the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2011, where such groups' demands and tactics are not inconsistent with those adopted at the UNAC conference, on behalf of exploring ways to maximize unity within the peace and social justice movements this fall and next spring.


Bloody Hands Delivery to Pelosi

Monday August 30th 3pm
New Federal Building
90 7th Street (@ Mission St)
San Francisco, 94103
BART: Civic Center

Join CODEPINK-SF on Monday August 30th as we deliver bloody hands to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office in San Francisco to show our demands around the Iraq war debacle and counter the Pentagon's spin of a safe and positive withdrawal from Iraq.

Our demands of Speaker Pelosi include:
Full withdrawal & closure of military bases
Reparations of Iraqis
Full support for returning troop needs
Prosecution of officials who lead us into the Iraq war
Transfer of war funds to rebuild the U.S.
Taking lessons from this war to: End Afghan War
Print out the attached sheet of paper. Draw, paint or imprint a red hand onto the center. Write an extra personal note if you would like. Bring it the federal building on Monday August 30th at 3pm and we'll deliver them to Pelosi's new office.

Nancy L. Mancias
CODEPINK Women for Peace
3543 18th Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94110
PINKTank ::
Facebook ::
Twitter :: nancymancias


There are signs plastered all over the New York City subway system warning that, "Assaulting MTA New York City Transit subway personnel is a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison." What will Johannes Mehserle, an Oakland BART subway cop get for the murder of Oscar Grant? HE COULD EVEN GET PAROLLE! OR AS LITTLE AS FOUR YEARS! WE WANT THE MAXIMUM FOR MEHSERLE!

Longshore workers call for labor/community rally for:

Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail Killer Cops!

The next labor/community organizing meeting will be:

7 PM, Tuesday August 31, 2010
Longshore Hall - Henry Schmidt room
400 North Point St @ Mason
near Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco
Media/Publicity: Jack Heyman 510-531-4717,

You are urged to attend!

A broad group of labor and community organizers met Tuesday, July 27 to help organize a mass demonstration demanding Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail Killer Cops! to take place Saturday, October 23 in Oakland. Committees were set up and organizing has begun involving people from the Bay Area and coordinated nation-wide. Bay Area United Against War Newsletter encourages everyone to become involved in organizing and building this very urgent event. We can't allow the police to have a license to murder the innocent and unarmed with a slap on the wrist. We demand the maximum for Johannes Mehserle!

Oscar Grant was murdered in cold blood!


Media/Publicity: Jack Heyman 510-531-4717,

ILWU Local 10 Motion on the Verdict in the Oscar Grant Case
Whereas, Oscar Grant's killer, BART police officer Johannes Mehserle received a verdict of involuntary manslaughter on July 8, 2010; and

Whereas, video tapes show clearly that Oscar Grant was lying face down on the Fruitvale BART platform, waiting to be handcuffed with another cop's boot on his neck posing no threat when he was shot in the back and killed in cold blood by Mehserle; and
Whereas, this is just another example in a racist justice system where police officers go free for killing young black men; and

Whereas, the Contra Costa Times reports that police are holding a rally in Walnut Creek on July 19, 2010 to show support for the killer cop so his sentence will only be a slap on the wrist; and

Whereas; the ILWU has always stood for social justice;

Therefore be it resolved that the labor movement organize a mass protest rally October 23, 2010 with participation from community groups, civil rights organizations, civil liberties organizations and all who stand for social justice demand jail for killer cops.



Education 4 the People!
October 7 Day of Action in Defense of Public Education - California

MORE THAN 100 activists from across California gathered in Los Angeles April 24 to debate next steps for the fight against the devastating cutbacks facing public education.

The main achievements of the conference were to set a date and location for the next statewide mass action-October 7-and for the next anti-cuts conference, which will happen October 16 at San Francisco State University. The other key outcome was the first steps toward the formation of an ad hoc volunteer coordinating committee to plan for the fall conference.

These decisions were a crucial step toward deepening and broadening the movement. For example, the fall conference will be the key venue for uniting activists from all sectors of public education, and especially from those schools and campuses which saw action on March 4, but which have yet to plug into the broader movement.

This will be crucial for extending the scope and increasing the strength of our movement, as well as for helping us strategize and prepare for what is certain to be a tough year ahead. Similarly, the fall mass action will be crucial to re-igniting the movement following the summer months.

Organizing for the next Statewide Public Education Mobilization Conference at SFSU on OCT 16th
Posted on May 24, 2010 by ooofireballooo
Organizing for the next Statewide Public Education Mobilization Conference
@ San Francisco State University on October 16th

MORE THAN 100 activists from across California gathered in Los Angeles April 24 to debate next steps for the fight against the devastating cutbacks facing public education.

The main achievements of the conference were to set a date and location for the next statewide mass action-October 7-and for the next anti-cuts conference, which will happen October 16 at San Francisco State University. The other key outcome was the first steps toward the formation of an ad hoc volunteer coordinating committee to plan for the fall conference.

These decisions were a crucial step toward deepening and broadening the movement. For example, the fall conference will be the key venue for uniting activists from all sectors of public education, and especially from those schools and campuses which saw action on March 4, but which have yet to plug into the broader movement.

This will be crucial for extending the scope and increasing the strength of our movement, as well as for helping us strategize and prepare for what is certain to be a tough year ahead. Similarly, the fall mass action will be crucial to re-igniting the movement following the summer months.

Proposal: Form a conference organizing listserve immediately!

Please join the google group today.

* Group home page:


November 18-21, 2010: Close the SOA and take a stand for justice in the Americas.

The November Vigil to Close the School of the Americas at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia will be held from November 18-21, 2010. The annual vigil is always held close to the anniversary of the 1989 murders of Celina Ramos, her mother Elba and six Jesuit priests at a the University of Central America in El Salvador.


November 2010 will mark the 20th anniversary of the vigil that brings together religious communities, students, teachers, veterans, community organizers, musicians, puppetistas and many others. New layers of activists are joining the movement to close the SOA in large numbers, including numerous youth and students from multinational, working-class communities. The movement is strong thanks to the committed work of thousands of organizers and volunteers around the country. They raise funds, spread the word through posters and flyers, organize buses and other transportation to Georgia, and carry out all the work that is needed to make the November vigil a success. Together, we are strong!


There will be exciting additions to this year's vigil program. Besides the rally at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia with inspiring speakers and amazing musicians from across the Americas, the four day convergence will also include an educational teach-in at the Columbus Convention Center, several evening concerts, workshops and for the first time, the Latin America Solidarity Coalition will stage a one-day Anti-Militarization Organizers Conference on Thursday, November 18, 2010.


Our work has unfortunately not gotten any easier and U.S. militarization in Latin America is accelerating. The SOA graduate led military coup in Honduras, the continuing repression against the Honduran pro-democracy resistance and the expansion of U.S. military bases in Colombia and Panama are grim examples of the ongoing threats of a U.S. foreign policy that is relying on the military to exert control over the people and the resources in the Americas. Join the people who are struggling for justice in Honduras, Colombia and throughout the Americas as we organize to push back.

Spread the word - Tell a friend about the November Vigil:

For more information, visit:

See you at the gates of Fort Benning in November 2010




A Top Scientist Working On BP Gulf Oil Spill For The Federal Government Confirms BP Drilled Two Wells
Posted by Alexander Higgins - August 20, 2010
Dr Robert Bea, a top scientists working on the BP Gulf Oil Spill for the Federal Government confirms that BP Drilled a second well near the Deepwater Horizon leak that was previously abandoned because they almost blew it up.

I recently posted "A Tale Of Two Wells - Is BP and the Government Showing Us The Wrong Well?" which questions whether or not BP is hiding the real well that is leaking as Matt Simmon's claimed.

So here is the latest going around the internet. I haven't vetted it yet so watch and make your own judgment.

If the font is to small watch in full screen.


Larry Pinkney protests Harbor Shores golf course opening.
Political commentator and brother of protest organizer, Larry Pinkney calls for unity in the face of challenge.
Read a sample of his work here:
Here is a link to background information regarding this protest:
Mass Demonstration Planned in Benton Harbor on 8/10
August 6, 2010


Toxic Soup in Ocean Springs Ms By Lorrie Williams
August 13, 2010
August 16, 2010


BP Oil Spill Cleanup Worker Exposes the Realities of Beach Cleanup In Gulf of Mexico
August 11, 2010


NEWS BREAKING Louisiana official willing to go to jail in fight against federal Government!!
August 12, 2010


The Coast Guard threatens to have Louisiana official arrested for fighting oil spill
August 13, 2010


Days After Tar Balls Hit New York Beach Massive Fish Kills Stretch From New Jersey to Massachusetts


WikiLeaks' Collateral Murder: U.S. Soldier Ethan McCord's Eyewitness Story


On The Move: Mumia Abu-Jamal's Message to the United National Peace Conference


Videos: Hideous Conditions at Long Beach Harbor, MS
By Denise Rednour
August 7, 2010

August 7th, 2010 -- LONG BEACH MS - Very thick oil in and around the harbor at Long Beach, MS today. It's a very sad day indeed. The stench of dispersants and dead fish is in the air as well.

PLEASE, don't be fooled by mainstream media and politicians who are telling people it's over, it's safe to swim, and the seafood is harmless. All beaches in Mississippi remain open without cautions even. All waters are open to commercial and sport fishing of fin fish and shrimp. The only activity banned at the present is crab and oyster fishing.


Video: George Carlin: "The American Dream"/"Workers Nightmare"
Because the Owners of This Country Own Everything - They Own You - They Don't Want Critical Thinking - They Want Obedient Workers


Citizens of New Orleans Respond to the BP Oil Spill


Economic Hitmen: John Perkins on Economic Imperialism
[He's wrong, though, about there being a benign form of capitalism. There's only one kind of capitalism -- this kind of capitalism -- and it's all]


Narrated - Oil Leaking From BP Gulf Oil Spill Sea Floor Strata
[After the cement]


Lady Gaga Rallies Fans in Arizona: "If it wasn't for all you immigrants, this country wouldn't have s--t."
By Tanner Stransky

Lady Gaga is well known for stirring the pot while advocating for buzzy causes like gay rights, and now she's using her sizable cultural influence to stand up against SB 1070, the controversial Arizona immigration law. At her Monster Ball show in Phoenix on Saturday evening, the pop star encouraged her "little monsters" to not sit idle in regards to the law: "We have to be active. We have to actively protest," she told her audience. Since the news of SB 1070 came down, several heavyweights in the music biz have boycotted the state, but Gaga said she won't do the same.

"I will not cancel my show. I will hold you, and we will hold each other, and we will protest this state," Gaga told her audience. "I got a phone call from a couple really big rock-n-rollers, big pop stars, big rappers, and they said: 'We'd like you to boycott Arizona. We'd like you to boycott playing Arizona because of SB 1070.' And I said: 'You really think that us dumb f-ing pop stars are going to collapse the economy of Arizona?'" And that's when she urged fans to protest. "The nature of the Monster Ball is to actively protest prejudice and injustice and that bullshit that is put on our society!" See her whole impassioned speech here:


Missing Gulf Coast Oil Appears To Be Welling Up Under Barrier Island Beaches (VIDEO)

Last week, BP managed to finally cap the Deepwater Horizon oil volcano and the media suddenly found itself in the grips of a baffling problem with object permanence. Where did all the oil go, they wondered. Had it disappeared? Was it eaten by microbes? Did it get Raptured up to Oil Heaven? It was a mystery, wrapped in a miracle! At least it was until Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland took about a minute to send some text messages to colleagues in the field, inquiring after the oil's whereabouts. They answered back: Where is the oil? How does all over the place grab you?

Over at The Upshot, Brett Michael Dykes highlights this report from WVUE in New Orleans, which confirms that the oil did not, in fact, fortuitously disappear into thin air:

According to WVUE correspondent John Snell, local officials dispatched a dive team to a barrier island off of southeastern Louisiana's Plaquemines parish to scan the sea floor for oil. The team, however, could barely see the sea floor, due to the current murky state of the area waters. But when the divers returned to shore, they made a rather remarkable discovery: tiny holes that burrowing Hermit crabs had dug into the ground effectively became oil-drilling holes. When the divers placed pressure on the ground near the holes, oil came oozing up.

So, basically, questioning where the oil has gone is the exact same thing as looking at the shoes attached to the ends of your legs and wondering if your feet have disappeared.


Video Shows Michigan Oil Spill
July 29, 2010, 1:57 pm

As my colleague Emma Graves Fitzsimmons reports from Michigan, the Environmental Protection Agency now estimates that more than one million gallons of oil may have spilled from a pipeline into the Kalamazoo River this week, which is far more than the pipeline's owner, Enbridge Energy Partners, initially estimated.

In a statement posted online, the E.P.A. explained that the government has taken charge of the clean-up effort and is working to keep the oil from reaching Lake Michigan.

On Monday, when a 30-inch pipeline burst in Marshall, Mich., releasing hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into Talmadge Creek, a waterway that feeds the Kalamazoo River, local residents started posting video of the damage on YouTube. As the site's own CitizenTube blog noted, a user calling herself Picture Takin Diva posted these aerial images of the creek, with the comment, "It's not the Gulf, but it's pretty bad!"

Another user, Corrive 9, who uploaded the video at the top of this post on Tuesday, also conducted some interviews with people who live near the river. Looking at the oily water, this man said, "It smells like a mechanic's shop, for one thing, but it's just a shame because this river was just becoming cleaner and now this. We fish this, catch a lot of small-mouth bass out here, great big ones."

A third YouTube user, who goes by 420 Stardust Glitter, uploaded these silent images of the oil water with a note saying, "The oil is so thick it's starting to look gummy and the smell of the toxins are unbearable."


BP Oil Spill Grand Isle Town Hall Meeting Part 3


Underwater Lakes Of Oil From BP Spill Will Continue To Cover Gulf Beaches With Toxic Layer Of Invisible Oil For Months
Posted by Alexander Higgins - July 28, 2010 at 10:59 pm - Permalink


Feds think public can't HANDLE THE TRUTH about toxic dispersants says EPA Sr. Analyst
July 28, 2010


Breathing Toxic Oil Vapors??? video




Instituto del Derecho de Asilo - Casa Museo Leon Trotsky, A.C.
Avenida Río Churubusco No. 410
Col. del Carmen Coyoacán
CP 04100 México, DF -- MEXICO
Tel. 56 58 87 32

Dear Friends in the United States:

We are writing this letter to invite you to support the effort to preserve and renovate the Leon Trotsky Museum (IDA-MCLTAC) in Mexico City.

Already many of our U.S. supporters have sent out appeals to their friends urging support for our project. We thank them for their efforts, and we thank the dozens of you who have already sent in financial contributions to our fund.

On August 20, at 4 p.m., we launched the International Friends of the Leon Trotsky Museum at a special event in a larger venue than our Museum's auditorium: the Foro Coyoacanense, Hugo Argüelles, Calle Allende No. 36, in the center district of Coyoacán, in the southern region of Mexico City.

This event was part of a three-day series of activities on August 19-21 marking the 70th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky, the 35th anniversary of the opening of the Trotsky Museum, and the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Institute on the Right of Asylum.

We would like to invite all our friends and supporters in the United States to join "International Friends."

If you would like to join "International Friends," please send us a note to the email address listed above. We welcome all who support our Museum's six-point "Statement on Social Objectives" and our four-point "Renovation Project" [see below], and who wish to help us raise desperately needed funds to promote these objectives.

Our goal is for International Friends to include the broadest possible regroupment of personalities, democratic rights activists (including supporters of the right to asylum, which is one of the main themes of our Museum), political activists, and museologists of different progressive political tendencies and backgrounds.

On August 19 and August 20 we also held in our Museum's auditorium a Conference on "Socialism, Democracy and Dissident Movements." There were presentations by Mexican and international speakers. Some of the panels were the following:

- Trotsky and the Dewey Commission (Prof. Olivia Gall, UNAM and Trotsky Museum),

- Participation and Rights of Latinos in the United States (Prof. Suzanne Oboler, Editor, Latino Studies, CUNY),

- Dissident Social Movements on the Left and the Right in the United States (Alan Benjamin, Editor, The Organizer),

- The Relevance of Victor Serge (Suzi Weissman, KPFK Radio producer and author),

- Trotsky and the Dissident Movements in Eastern Europe (Prof. Gabriel García Higueras, University of Lima, Peru), and

- Victor Serge, the POUM and the "Socialism and Liberty" group (Prof. Claudio Albertini, UACM).

The program of the event launching the International Friends of the Leon Trotsky Museum on August 20 included presentations by Esteban Volkov (Trotsky's grandson and president of the board of directors of the museum) and Olivia Gall (director of the museum); a theatrical presentation by Grupo Sol Azul of Moises Mendelewicz titled "Conversations with Trotsky"; a presentation on Political Asylum in Mexico by Pablo Yankelvich (INAH); and a trailer presentation of the film "Planet Without a Visa" (by David Weiss and Linda Laub), with an introduction by Linda Laub.

Finally, on August 21, there was a placing of a wreath on the tombstones of Leon Trotsky and Natalia Sedova, with a presentation by Esteban Volkov.

We invite you to donate to our Museum preservation/renovation fund and to join our International Friends of the Leon Trotsky group and campaign. Please send your checks, payable to Global Exchange (write "Trotsky Museum" on Memo line of your check), to International Friends of the Leon Trotsky Museum, P.O. Box 40009, San Francisco, CA 94140.

Esteban Volkov Bronstein
Grandson of Leon Trotsky
President of the Board of the IDA-MCLTAC
Olivia Gall
Full Professor, CEIICH-UNAM
Director of the IDA-MCLTAC
* * * * * * * * * *

Appendix No. 1

International Friends of the
Leon Trotsky Museum (IFLTM)


The IDA-MCLTAC's Social Objectives

The Social Objective of the Institution is:

1. To maintain, protect, preserve, restore, guard and improve in all pertinent and necessary ways, the Leon Trotsky House-Museum, who must offer its visitors the best possible museology services.

2. To maintain, protect, preserve, guard and increase, in all pertinent and necessary ways, the existing materials in the Rafael Galván Library and in the association's Documentary Center, which must offer its visitors the best possible information and research services.

3. To promote and develop research, analysis, education and effective communication regarding the topic of the right of asylum, and, when related to asylum, on those of migration and refuge.

4. To promote and develop the study, analysis, education and effective communication regarding "the defense of public rights and public freedom."

5. To manage the association's assets and resources, as well as those received through donations, contributions, transfers, bequests, wills, liens, trusts, funding, agreements or employment contracts, in cash or in kind, coming from individuals or corporations, domestic or foreign, public or private. These funds and resources will be used exclusively for the purposes of the Association.

6. To establish partnerships through agreements or other legal forms provided by existing legislation, with any cultural, artistic, social or academic national or international institution, both public and private, which may contribute to the better attainment of its goals.


Appendix No. 2

Renovation Project

The Directive Council of the Institution has developed a project consisting in gradually transforming the IDA-MCLTAC into an institution that takes the figure of Leon Trotsky as its central axis, but also approaches the different ideological and political currents of socialist thought, actions and debates, the right of asylum and the history of revolutionary and post-revolutionary Mexico, in which Trotsky was admitted as a political refugee. The goal is to create an institution that will establish agreements with academics, museums and documentary, visual and bibliographical archives from all over the world, in order to offer the public:


* A well-preserved house-museum that will give its visitors an idea of the real environment in which Trotsky, his friends, guards, secretaries and guests lived between May 1939 and August 1940: a tense and anguished environment, not always but sometimes joyful, not very prosperous, but of hard work and comradeship.

* Permanent as well as temporary exhibits built on visual, audiovisual, documentary and interactive materials.


* Consultation of printed, graphic, audiovisual and interactive materials, in situ or via the web,

* The development of educational and cultural programs, which will consist in conferences, symposia, book presentations, courses and workshops.

* A small bookstore in which our visitors will find books -in three languages, if possible- related to the institution's subjects.


In it, old and new short films, movies and documentaries, organized according to different subjects of historical, political, intellectual and cultural interest will be shown and discussed.


A space that will try to constitute an original, simple, elegant and international cultural option that will harbor:

* Diverse cultural expressions of our contemporary world: sculptors, painters, mimes, actors, storytellers, dancers, poets, musicians, etc.

* The house's garden, such as it was kept by Natalia Sedova and by Sieva Volkov's family between 1939 and the early 1970s.

* A cafeteria that will serve very good coffee, tea, pastries and appetizers, and that will offer in Coyoacán a touch of originality given by four combined elements: (a) a simple international menu made by a few Baltic, Jewish, Balkan, Turkish, French, Norwegian and Mexican dishes, typical of the countries where Trotsky lived or was exiled, (b) the access to reading, in situ, some international newspapers and magazines, (c) a decoration that will portray the style of Mexican restaurants in the thirties, and (d) some music or poetry evenings.

* A shop, selling posters, little boxes, mugs, pens, calendars book markers, agendas, etc., so that our visitors may take home some of the museum's souvenirs.


Say No to Islamophobia!
Defend Mosques and Community Centers!
The Fight for Peace and Social Justice Requires Defense of All Under Attack!


Ohio may execute an innocent man unless you take action.

Kevin Keith is scheduled to be executed on September 15th, despite a wide range of new evidence that suggests he is innocent. Kevin, who has been on Ohio's death row for 16 years, was convicted on the basis of faulty eyewitness identification.

Thirteen years after he was convicted, Kevin discovered that one of the State's supposed "witnesses" -- a hospital nurse who was critical to corroborating the legitimacy of the surviving victim's eyewitness identification -- does not actually exist. He has an alibi affirmed by four people and new evidence has emerged implicating another suspect.

No court has heard the full array of new evidence pointing to Kevin's innocence. Take action today to stop Ohio from executing a man who very well may be innocent.


Stefanie Faucher
Associate Director


Please sign the petition to release Bradley Manning (Click to sign here)

To: US Department of Defense; US Department of Justice
We, the Undersigned, call for justice for US Army PFC Bradley Manning, incarcerated without charge (as of 18 June 2010) at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Media accounts state that Mr. Manning was arrested in late May for leaking the video of US Apache helicopter pilots killing innocent people and seriously wounding two children in Baghdad, including those who arrived to help the wounded, as well as potentially other material. The video was released by WikiLeaks under the name "Collateral Murder".

If these allegations are untrue, we call upon the US Department of Defense to release Mr. Manning immediately.

If these allegations ARE true, we ALSO call upon the US Department of Defense to release Mr. Manning immediately.

Simultaneously, we express our support for Mr. Manning in any case, and our admiration for his courage if he is, in fact, the person who disclosed the video. Like in the cases of Daniel Ellsberg, W. Mark Felt, Frank Serpico and countless other whistleblowers before, government demands for secrecy must yield to public knowledge and justice when government crime and corruption are being kept hidden.

Justice for Bradley Manning!


The Undersigned:

Zaineb Alani
"Yesterday I lost a country. / I was in a hurry, / and didn't notice when it fell from me / like a broken branch from a forgetful tree. / Please, if anyone passes by / and stumbles across it, / perhaps in a suitcase / open to the sky, / or engraved on a rock / like a gaping wound, / ... / If anyone stumbles across it, / return it to me please. / Please return it, sir. / Please return it, madam. / It is my country . . . / I was in a hurry / when I lost it yesterday." -Dunya Mikhail, Iraqi poet


Dear Gio,

Thanks again for supporting military war resisters. We do this work because it is a tangible contribution to a future without empire and war. With your help, we've won a number of victories recently--you might have read about "Hip Hop" stop-loss soldier Marc Hall, or single mom, and Afghanistan deployment resister, Alexis Hutchinson in the news.

Now, intel analyst Bradley Manning is in the headlines and facing decades in prison for leaking a video of a massacre in Baghdad. If Pfc. Manning is the source of the video, then he did what he had to do to expose a war crime. Regardless, he's wrongly imprisoned and we are doing everything we can to support him. Keep an eye out for action alerts in the coming days on how to support Bradley!

If you have not yet had a chance to make a donation recently, I'm asking that you please consider doing so now so that together we can step up to support Bradley Manning and all GI war objectors!

Jeff Paterson,
Project Director, Courage to Resist

p.s. Our new August print newsletter is now available:


Please forward widely...


These two bills are now in Congress and need your support. Either or both bills would drastically decrease Lynne's and other federal sentences substantially.

H.R. 1475 "Federal Prison Work Incentive Act Amended 2009," Congressman Danny Davis, Democrat, Illinois

This bill will restore and amend the former federal B.O.P. good time allowances. It will let all federal prisoners, except lifers, earn significant reductions to their sentences. Second, earn monthly good time days by working prison jobs. Third, allowances for performing outstanding services or duties in connection with institutional operations. In addition, part of this bill is to bring back parole to federal long term prisoners.

Go to: and

At this time, federal prisoners only earn 47 days per year good time. If H.R. 1475 passes, Lynne Stewart would earn 120-180 days per year good time!

H.R. 61 "45 And Older," Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (18th Congressional District, Texas)

This bill provides early release from federal prison after serving half of a violent crime or violent conduct in prison.

Please write, call, email your Representatives and Senators. Demand their votes!

This information is brought to you by Diane E. Schindelwig, a federal prisoner #36582-177 and friend and supporter of Lynne Stewart.

Write to Lynne at:

Lynne Stewart 53504-054
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

For further information call Lynne's husband, Ralph Poynter, leader of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
718-789-0558 or 917-853-9759

Send contributions payable to:

Lynne Stewart Organization
1070 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York, 11216


Listen to Lynne Stewart event, that took place July 8, 2010 at Judson Memorial Church
Excerpts include: Mumia Abu Jamal, Ralph Poynter, Ramsey Clark, Juanita
Young, Fred Hampton Jr., Raging Grannies, Ralph Schoenman

And check out this article (link) too!



RIP Oscar!

Victory for movement, but justice still needs to be won

Calling on all supporters of justice for Oscar Grant and opponents of racist police brutality:

The jury verdict is not justice for Oscar Grant - it is up to the new movement to use its power to win real justice. THIS IS THE TIME TO ACT.


The maximum sentence for killer cop Johannes Mehserle.

Jail Officers Pirone and Domenici, the two police who were accomplices to murder.

Disarm and disband the BART Police.

Provide massive funding to Oakland for education and jobs for Oakland's black, Latina/o, Asian, and poor and working-class white youth.

Stop police/ICE racial profiling of Latina/o, black, Asian, and other minority youth with and without papers.

Furthermore, we call on Oakland Mayor Dellums and other governmental authorities in Oakland to declare that this verdict does not render justice to Oscar Grant and to act on the demands of the movement.

If you haven't already done so yet, join the JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT ACTION PAGE on Facebook at:



Georgia: Witnesses in Murder Case Recant
June 23, 2010

In an unusual hearing ordered by the Supreme Court that began in Savannah on Wednesday, several witnesses said they had concocted testimony that Troy Anthony Davis killed a police officer, Mark MacPhail, in 1989. Last August, the Supreme Court ordered a federal district court to determine if new evidence "clearly establishes" Mr. Davis's innocence, its first order in an "actual innocence" petition from a state prisoner in nearly 50 years, according to Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented. Seven of the witnesses who testified against Mr. Davis at his trial have recanted, and some have implicated the chief informer in the case. Mr. Davis's execution has been stayed three times.

For more info: | | Savannah Branch NAACP: 912-233-4161


Bernadette McAliskey Quote on Zionists:

"The root cause of conflict in the Middle East is the very nature of the state of Israel. It is a facist state. It is a international bully, which exists not to protect the rights of the Jewish people but to perpetuate a belief of Zionist supremacy. It debases the victims of the holocaust by its own strategy for extermination of Palestine and Palestinians and has become the image and likeness of its own worst enemy, the Third Reich.

"Anyone challenging their position, their crazed self-image is entitled, in the fascist construction of their thinking, to be wiped out. Every humanitarian becomes a terrorist? How long is the reality of the danger Israel poses to world peace going to be denied by the Western powers who created this monster?"


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"

(A Life In the Balance - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, at 34, Amnesty Int'l, 2000; www.

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

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


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.
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

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

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

Thank you for your generosity!


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


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) Civilians to Take U.S. Lead as Military Leaves Iraq
August 18, 2010

2) In Afghanistan, More Attacks on Officials and a Protest Over a Deadly NATO Raid
August 18, 2010

3) Killings of Homeless Rise to Highest Level in a Decade
August 18, 2010

4) Florida: Alternatives to Relief Well Considered
"One concern is that using the relief well to pump more cement into the Macondo well could raise the pressure within that well, damage the seals and, potentially, result in a spill of the oil."
August 18, 2010

5) Appeasing the Bond Gods
August 19, 2010

6) BP Oil Spill Settlements Likely to Shield Top Defendants
August 20, 2010

7) South Africa: Rubber Bullets Wound Striking Workers
August 19, 2010

8) Oil Plume Is Not Breaking Down Fast, Study Says
"Dr. Camilli's team measured the main plume at roughly 3,600 feet below the surface; it extended for more than 20 miles southwest of the well. It was more than a mile wide in places and 600 feet thick, traveling at about four miles a day."
August 19, 2010

9) Well to Be Sealed After Labor Day
"One concern is that there are now about 1,000 barrels of oil trapped in the outer portion of the well, called the annulus, between seals at the top and cement at the bottom that was pumped in as part of a "static kill" procedure this month. If more mud is pumped in through the relief well, the pressure in the well could rise and the top seals or cement might be damaged. That could allow oil and gas to travel up into the damaged blowout preventer and, potentially, into the gulf."
August 19, 2010

10) California: Police Group Backs Marijuana Measure
August 19, 2010

11) Too Long Ignored
August 20, 2010

12) Russian TV on Trotsky
[This includes a great news video and discussion with supporters of Trotsky and his theory of permanent revolution and its new relevance today]
Posted on August 20, 2010 by Liam

13) Newly Discovered Underwater Oil Plume Paints a Complex Picture of Gulf Leak Aftermath
Scientists have yet to agree on the scope of the disaster
By Rebecca Boyle Posted 08.19.2010

14) Spill Fund May Prove as Challenging as 9/11 Payments
"Protocols that will guide the distribution of the oil spill fund, which Mr. Feinberg will administer independently even though it is being paid for by BP, place a premium on geographic proximity to the spill. So a gulf shrimper who was kept out of the waters should have an easy time getting paid, but the owner of a Memphis seafood restaurant who was forced to absorb higher seafood prices all summer will not."
[As usual, the only ones who will really be getting paid will be BP]
August 21, 2010

15) Sweden Rescinds Warrant for WikiLeaks Founder
August 21, 2010

16) Looking for Trouble on 'Highway' for Manatees
August 20, 2010

17) Virginia: Soldiers Said They Were Punished for Refusing to Attend Christian Concert
August 20, 2010

18) Income Inequality and Financial Crises
"Ms. Blair said that because financial bubbles often lead to higher returns, financial workers have the potential to make more, and this pattern can influence their trading strategies and the policies they promote. Those decisions, in turn, drive even greater income inequality, she said."
[And phenomenal thing about this article is that these people have degrees in economics! If there ever was a Homer Simpson "No Duh!" moment, this has got to be
August 21, 2010

19) Fixing a World That Fosters Fat
"The inflation-adjusted price of a McDonald's quarter-pounder with cheese, for example, fell 5.44 percent from 1990 to 2007, according to an article on the economics of child obesity published in the journal Health Affairs. But the inflation-adjusted price of fruit and vegetables, which are not subject to federal largess, rose 17 percent just from 1997 to 2003, the study said."
August 21, 2010


1) Civilians to Take U.S. Lead as Military Leaves Iraq
August 18, 2010

WASHINGTON - As the United States military prepares to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, the Obama administration is planning a remarkable civilian effort, buttressed by a small army of contractors, to fill the void.

By October 2011, the State Department will assume responsibility for training the Iraqi police, a task that will largely be carried out by contractors. With no American soldiers to defuse sectarian tensions in northern Iraq, it will be up to American diplomats in two new $100 million outposts to head off potential confrontations between the Iraqi Army and Kurdish pesh merga forces.

To protect the civilians in a country that is still home to insurgents with Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias, the State Department is planning to more than double its private security guards, up to as many as 7,000, according to administration officials who disclosed new details of the plan. Defending five fortified compounds across the country, the security contractors would operate radars to warn of enemy rocket attacks, search for roadside bombs, fly reconnaissance drones and even staff quick reaction forces to aid civilians in distress, the officials said.

"I don't think State has ever operated on its own, independent of the U.S. military, in an environment that is quite as threatening on such a large scale," said James Dobbins, a former ambassador who has seen his share of trouble spots as a special envoy for Afghanistan, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo and Somalia. "It is unprecedented in scale."

White House officials expressed confidence that the transfer to civilians - about 2,400 people who would work at the Baghdad embassy and other diplomatic sites - would be carried out on schedule, and that they could fulfill their mission of helping bring stability to Iraq.

"The really big picture that we have seen in Iraq over the last year and a half to two years is this: the number of violent incidents is significantly down, the competence of Iraqi security forces is significantly up, and politics has emerged as the basic way of doing business in Iraq," said Antony J. Blinken, the national security adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. "If that trend continues, and I acknowledge it is an 'if,' that creates a much better context for dealing with the very significant and serious problems that remain in Iraq."

But the tiny military presence under the Obama administration's plan - limited to several dozen to several hundred officers in an embassy office who would help the Iraqis purchase and field new American military equipment - and the civilians' growing portfolio have led some veteran Iraq hands to suggest that thousands of additional troops will be needed after 2011.

"We need strategic patience here," Ryan C. Crocker, who served as ambassador in Iraq from 2007 until early 2009, said in an interview. "Our timetables are getting out ahead of Iraqi reality. We do have an Iraqi partner in this. We certainly are not the ones making unilateral decisions anymore. But if they come to us later on this year requesting that we jointly relook at the post-2011 period, it is going to be in our strategic interest to be responsive."

The array of tasks for which American troops are likely to be needed, military experts and some Iraqi officials say, include training Iraqi forces to operate and logistically support new M-1 tanks, artillery and F-16s they intend to acquire from the Americans; protecting Iraq's airspace until the country can rebuild its air force; and perhaps assisting Iraq's special operations units in carrying out counterterrorism operations.

Such an arrangement would need to be negotiated with Iraqi officials, who insisted on the 2011 deadline in the agreement with the Bush administration for removing American forces. With the Obama administration in campaign mode for the coming midterm elections and Iraqi politicians yet to form a government, the question of what future military presence might be needed has been all but banished from public discussion.

"The administration does not want to touch this question right now," said one administration official involved in Iraq issues, adding that military officers had suggested that 5,000 to 10,000 troops might be needed. "It runs counter to their political argument that we are getting out of these messy places," the official, speaking only on condition of anonymity, added. "And it would be quite counterproductive to talk this way in front of the Iraqis. If the Iraqis want us, they should be the demandeur."

The Obama administration had already committed itself to reducing American troops in Iraq to 50,000 by the end of August, a goal the White House on Wednesday said would be met. Administration officials and experts outside government say, however, that carrying out the agreement that calls for removing all American forces by the end of 2011 will be far more challenging.

The progress or difficulties in transferring responsibility to the civilians will not only influence events in Iraq but will also provide something of a test case for the Obama administration's longer-term strategy in Afghanistan.

The preparations for the civilian mission have been under way for months. One American official said that more than 1,200 specific tasks carried out by the American military in Iraq had been identified to be handed over to the civilians, transferred to the Iraqis or phased out.

To move around Iraq without United States troops, the State Department plans to acquire 60 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, called MRAPs, from the Pentagon; expand its inventory of armored cars to 1,320; and create a mini-air fleet by buying three planes to add to its lone aircraft. Its helicopter fleet, which will be piloted by contractors, will grow to 29 choppers from 17.

The department's plans to rely on 6,000 to 7,000 security contractors, who are also expected to form "quick reaction forces" to rescue civilians in trouble, is a sensitive issue, given Iraqi fury about shootings of civilians by American private guards in recent years. Administration officials said that security contractors would have no special immunity and would be required to register with the Iraqi government. In addition, one of the State Department's regional security officers, agents who oversee security at diplomatic outposts, will be required to approve and accompany every civilian convoy, providing additional oversight.

The startup cost of building and sustaining two embassy branch offices - one in Kirkuk and the other in Mosul - and of hiring security contractors, buying new equipment and setting up two consulates in Basra and Erbil is about $1 billion. It will cost another $500 million or so to make the two consulates permanent. And getting the police training program under way will cost about $800 million.

Among the trickiest missions for the civilians will be dealing with lingering Kurdish and Arab tensions. To tamp down potential conflicts in disputed areas, Gen. Ray Odierno, the senior American commander in Iraq, established a series of checkpoints made up of American soldiers, Iraqi Army troops and pesh merga fighters.

But those checkpoints may be phased out when the American troops leave. Instead, the United States is counting on the new embassy branch offices in Mosul and Kirkuk. Administration officials had planned to have another embassy branch office in Baquba, but dropped that idea because of spending constraints.

"They will be eyes and ears on the ground to see if progress is being made or problems are developing," Mr. Blinken said.

But Daniel P. Serwer, a vice president of the United States Institute of Peace, a Congressionally financed research center, questioned whether this would be sufficient. "There is a risk it will open the door to real problems. Our soldiers have been out there in the field with the Kurds and Arabs. Now they are talking about two embassy branch offices, and the officials there may need to stay around the quad if it is not safe enough to be outside."

Another area that has prompted concern is police training, which the civilians are to take over by October 2011. That will primarily be done by contractors with State Department oversight and is to be carried out at three main hubs with visits to other sites. Administration officials say the program has been set up with Iraqi input and will help Iraqi police officers develop the skills to move from counterinsurgency operations to crime solving. The aim is to "focus on the higher-end skill set," Colin Kahl, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, told reporters this week.

But James M. Dubik, a retired Army three-star general who oversaw the training of Iraqi security forces in 2007 and 2008, questioned whether the State Department was fully up to the mission. "The task is much more than just developing skills," he said. "It is developing the Ministry of Interior and law enforcement systems at the national to local levels, and the State Department has little experience in doing that."

Mr. Crocker said that however capable the State Department was in carrying out its tasks, it was important for the American military to keep enough of a presence in Iraq to encourage Iraq's generals to stay out of politics.

"We need an intense, sustained military-to-military engagement," he said. "If military commanders start asking themselves, 'Why are we fighting and dying to hold this country together while the civilians fiddle away our future?', that can get dangerous."


2) In Afghanistan, More Attacks on Officials and a Protest Over a Deadly NATO Raid
August 18, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan - Violence struck southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, with attacks on government and security officials. There were also allegations that NATO forces had killed two civilians in a night raid in the northeast, although the military sharply disputed that.

In Kandahar Province, a district police commander and three officers were killed when a suicide bomber exploded near a police patrol in the early evening.

In Zabul Province, gunmen assassinated Atta Khan Qadir Wal, 50, the director of the province's office of tribal affairs, as he returned from evening prayers at a mosque in Qalat, the provincial capital. He was a highly respected elder, said Mohammad Jan Rasool Yar, a spokesman for the Zabul governor.

The disputed raid occurred early Wednesday in the Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar Province, about nine miles from Jalalabad, the largest city in eastern Afghanistan. It was at least the third raid in the district in four months, and in each, the military's account and that of local people have been sharply at odds, with local residents insisting that those killed were civilians and the military asserting that there were Taliban present.

Hundreds of suburban residents of Jalalabad blocked its main east-west highway on Wednesday to protest the killings.

Local residents said that the two men killed were both civilians, while a NATO military spokesman said that they had been shot by American troops only after opening fire themselves.

The troops were searching for a known Taliban commander living in the area, said Maj. Steven Cole, the NATO spokesman.

"The force received AK-47 fire from the compound courtyard," he said. "Our force entered the courtyard and returned fire at one man firing the AK-47, killing him."

When a second man tried to pick up his gun, he was also killed, Major Cole said, adding: "At least one person living in the compound on the scene identified one of the men killed as an insurgent commander."

Three other men were detained, the military said; women and children in the compound were unharmed.

The Nangarhar provincial police complained that they had not been consulted, nor had the Afghan national security forces, and said that there was no evidence that those killed were combatants.

"The dead and captured were not armed members of the governmental opposition," said Col. Ghafour Khan, the spokesman for the provincial police chief.

"They were father and son," he said. "They were innocent civilians. The father was a farmer, and the son sold vegetables in the bazaar." He added that the NATO forces should be held accountable "for the subsequent consequences."

Major Cole said that all NATO operations were coordinated with Afghan security forces, but that did not mean that the provincial or district police were informed ahead of time. The coordination can be with Afghan military leaders at the national level or those who work for another Afghan security agency, he said.

A member of Parliament from Nangarhar Province, Safia Sidiqi, owns a house in the district where an elderly civilian man was killed in a raid on April 28. She denounced the latest raid as an unwarranted attack on civilians. She also accused the soldiers of beating the two men before they were shot to death.

"The Americans say that 'We were looking for a Taliban commander by the name of Yusuf,' " she said. "This is just an excuse and in the name of these things, they go to people's houses and kill innocent people."

Sharifullah Sahak and Sangar Rahimi contributed reporting from Kabul, and Afghan employees of The New York Times from Jalalabad and Kandahar, Afghanistan.


3) Killings of Homeless Rise to Highest Level in a Decade
August 18, 2010

WASHINGTON - Killings of homeless people have risen to their highest level in a decade, with 43 people killed last year and many more injured in often brutal attacks that are raising concerns among law enforcement officials, rights advocates and politicians, according to new data due to be released this week.

The rise in killings, from 27 in 2008, comes as many state and local governments are wrestling with the problem of what to do with the growing number of people forced onto the streets by economic woes. Some states and cities are moving to prosecute violence against the homeless as a hate crime, while others have taken a different tack by imposing tougher measures to prevent people from living on the streets in the first place.

Cases compiled and analyzed by the National Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group based in Washington, showed homeless people doused with gasoline and set on fire, attacked with bottles, metal pipes and baseball bats, and sprayed with pepper spray, often for the sport of it. An advance copy of the report was provided to The New York Times.

Because the F.B.I. does not track crimes against the homeless as part of its routine crime reporting, the data from the coalition is considered the most definitive study of the problem. A bill pending in Congress from Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, would require the F.B.I. to begin tracking data on crimes against the homeless, and Mr. Cardin plans to lead a hearing next month in the Senate on the country's rising homeless problem, including violence against those living on the streets.

"The homeless are among our nation's most vulnerable, but increasingly they find themselves the target of violent crime simply because they are homeless," Mr. Cardin said. "This behavior should not and cannot be tolerated in our society."

Criminologists and others who worked on the study said they believed the rise in fatal attacks has been fueled by a combination of factors. Among them are tough economic times, the popularity of amateur Web videos on "bum fights" and on-line games that glorify and trivialize attacks, an increase in gang initiations involving the homeless, and municipal crackdowns on homeless encampments that have bred hostility.

"It's a very troubling trend," said Neil Donovan, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. "We're seeing a level of hatred building to the point that it's deadly now."

The data on deadly attacks against the homeless runs counter to national trends in other areas of crime.

The F.B.I. reported in May that violent crime nationwide declined 5.5 percent last year from the year before. The data from the homeless coalition found that fatal attacks on the homeless rose 59 percent in that same time span, to 43. The number of fatalities last year was more than three times the number documented four years earlier and the highest number seen by the homeless coalition since 2000.

Brian Levin, a criminologist who assisted in the study and runs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said the number of homeless people who died last year in attacks far exceeded the total of all other traditional, protected classes of hate crime victims, based on factors like gender, race and ethnicity.

Harassment and violence toward the homeless, many of them mentally ill, have become "pervasive and routine" in some sub-cultures, particularly among young men and teenagers, he said.

In an April 2009 case in Redding, Calif., that is included in the report, three teenage boys were accused of beating a homeless man to death and smashing his skull with metal pipes and makeshift bats after they had discussed a plan the day before at a local fast-food restaurant to beat up a "bum."

Since 1999, the coalition's report documented more than 1,000 acts of violence against homeless people, including 291 deaths, although the authors caution that many crimes against the homeless go unreported because of mistrust of the police.

Concerns about the violence have spurred legislative initiatives in a number of cities and states. Since May, Florida and Rhode Island have joined Maine and Maryland in passing legislation that expands protection for the homeless as hate crime victims, and the District of Columbia and Los Angeles County have done so as well. Seven other states, including California and New York, are considering similar measures.


4) Florida: Alternatives to Relief Well Considered
"One concern is that using the relief well to pump more cement into the Macondo well could raise the pressure within that well, damage the seals and, potentially, result in a spill of the oil."
August 18, 2010

BP engineers and government scientists are evaluating alternatives for proceeding with a relief well that is intended to put the final plug in the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, the leader of the federal response to the disaster said Wednesday in Cedar Key. The official, Thad W. Allen, a retired Coast Guard admiral, said there was no timetable for completing the relief well. But he said that in the meantime, BP was preparing to replace the damaged blowout preventer on the Macondo well with a new one, which could be used to help manage pressure within the well. BP has estimated that there are about 1,000 barrels of oil in the Macondo well, trapped between seals at the top and cement at the bottom that was pumped in this month. One concern is that using the relief well to pump more cement into the Macondo well could raise the pressure within that well, damage the seals and, potentially, result in a spill of the oil.


5) Appeasing the Bond Gods
August 19, 2010

As I look at what passes for responsible economic policy these days, there's an analogy that keeps passing through my mind. I know it's over the top, but here it is anyway: the policy elite - central bankers, finance ministers, politicians who pose as defenders of fiscal virtue - are acting like the priests of some ancient cult, demanding that we engage in human sacrifices to appease the anger of invisible gods.

Hey, I told you it was over the top. But bear with me for a minute.

Late last year the conventional wisdom on economic policy took a hard right turn. Even though the world's major economies had barely begun to recover, even though unemployment remained disastrously high across much of America and Europe, creating jobs was no longer on the agenda. Instead, we were told, governments had to turn all their attention to reducing budget deficits.

Skeptics pointed out that slashing spending in a depressed economy does little to improve long-run budget prospects, and may actually make them worse by depressing economic growth. But the apostles of austerity - sometimes referred to as "austerians" - brushed aside all attempts to do the math. Never mind the numbers, they declared: immediate spending cuts were needed to ward off the "bond vigilantes," investors who would pull the plug on spendthrift governments, driving up their borrowing costs and precipitating a crisis. Look at Greece, they said.

The skeptics countered that Greece is a special case, trapped by its use of the euro, which condemns it to years of deflation and stagnation whatever it does. The interest rates paid by major nations with their own currencies - not just the United States, but also Britain and Japan - showed no sign that the bond vigilantes were about to attack, or even that they existed.

Just you wait, said the austerians: the bond vigilantes may be invisible, but they must be feared all the same.

This was a strange argument even a few months ago, when the U.S. government could borrow for 10 years at less than 4 percent interest. We were being told that it was necessary to give up on job creation, to inflict suffering on millions of workers, in order to satisfy demands that investors were not, in fact, actually making, but which austerians claimed they would make in the future.

But the argument has become even stranger recently, as it has become clear that investors aren't worried about deficits; they're worried about stagnation and deflation. And they've been signaling that concern by driving interest rates on the debt of major economies lower, not higher. On Thursday, the rate on 10-year U.S. bonds was only 2.58 percent.

So how do austerians deal with the reality of interest rates that are plunging, not soaring? The latest fashion is to declare that there's a bubble in the bond market: investors aren't really concerned about economic weakness; they're just getting carried away. It's hard to convey the sheer audacity of this argument: first we were told that we must ignore economic fundamentals and instead obey the dictates of financial markets; now we're being told to ignore what those markets are actually saying because they're confused.

You see, then, why I find myself thinking in terms of strange and savage cults, demanding human sacrifices to appease unseen forces.

And, yes, we are talking about sacrifices. Anyone who doubts the suffering caused by slashing spending in a weak economy should look at the catastrophic effects of austerity programs in Greece and Ireland.

Maybe those countries had no choice in the matter - although it's worth noting that all the suffering being imposed on their populations doesn't seem to have done anything to improve investor confidence in their governments.

But, in America, we do have a choice. The markets aren't demanding that we give up on job creation. On the contrary, they seem worried about the lack of action - about the fact that, as Bill Gross of the giant bond fund Pimco put it earlier this week, we're "approaching a cul-de-sac of stimulus," which he warns "will slow to a snail's pace, incapable of providing sufficient job growth going forward."

It seems almost superfluous, given all that, to mention the final insult: many of the most vocal austerians are, of course, hypocrites. Notice, in particular, how suddenly Republicans lost interest in the budget deficit when they were challenged about the cost of retaining tax cuts for the wealthy. But that won't stop them from continuing to pose as deficit hawks whenever anyone proposes doing something to help the unemployed.

So here's the question I find myself asking: What will it take to break the hold of this cruel cult on the minds of the policy elite? When, if ever, will we get back to the job of rebuilding the economy?

David Brooks is off today.


6) BP Oil Spill Settlements Likely to Shield Top Defendants
August 20, 2010

WASHINGTON - People and businesses seeking a lump-sum settlement from BP's $20 billion oil spill compensation fund will most likely have to waive their right to sue not only BP, but also all the other major defendants involved with the spill, according to internal documents from the lawyers handling the fund.

The documents - which include e-mails, draft and final versions of the protocols, claims forms and legal notes about the administration of the fund - provide the first definitive picture of who will be paid by the $20 billion fund, and how and when.

They also shed new light on the components of the payment plan that are likely to stir controversy, including the fund's emphasis on geographic proximity as a determining factor for eligibility.

The fund is being administered by a prominent Washington lawyer, Kenneth R. Feinberg, who declined to be interviewed about the documents but verified their authenticity.

The eligibility requirements for compensation from the fund are similar to those of the 9/11 victims compensation fund, which Mr. Feinberg also handled. People affected by the spill seeking final settlements face a choice similar to that faced by the 9/11 victims: If they decide to sue instead of accepting a settlement, they could face years of litigation; and if they decide to accept the settlement, it could come before the full damage from the spill is known.

A key difference between the spill fund and the Sept. 11 victim compensation fund is the matter of geographic proximity. The 9/11 fund took that issue into account, but it was less controversial because that fund focused on compensating people injured in the terrorist attacks and families of those killed rather than adversely affected businesses.

Fishermen, shrimpers and seafood processors as well as hotel and restaurant owners with beachfront property in areas where oil washed ashore will have the easiest time getting reimbursed. An ice cream parlor or a golf course miles from the affected shore but along the main highway headed to the beach will probably not be eligible, the documents indicate.

Legal experts said that the eligibility criteria in the protocol, including the emphasis on proximity, make intuitive sense, but they will cut out large sectors of businesses and people that were indirectly but nonetheless deeply affected by the spill.

Examples of the kinds of businesses that may be excluded include a bait and tackle supply store in Raleigh, N.C., that equips much of the gulf's fishermen; a gas station in Flomaton, Ala., alongside Highway 29, which heads to the Gulf Coast; and a beer distributor in Atlanta whose biggest contracts were with restaurant chains on the affected coast.

The documents say that people or businesses "in a community or municipality adjacent to a beach shoreline, marsh, bay or tributary of the gulf where oil or oil residues came ashore or appeared in the waters" will be given top priority.

Eligibility "will take into account, among other things, geographic proximity, nature of industry, and dependence upon injured natural resources," the documents say.

The possible provision in the final oil spill settlement protocol requiring people to waive their right to sue companies other than BP that were working on the rig is also expected to face protest, legal experts said.

Those other companies related to the spill include Transocean, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded and sank in April; Halliburton, the company responsible for cementing the well; and Cameron International, the maker of the failed blowout preventer, a device designed to shut off a well.

Mr. Feinberg plans to publicly release the protocol for emergency payments on Friday and the protocol for the final settlement in the fall. The eligibility terms for both protocols will be nearly identical, though the burden of proof to qualify for a final settlement payment will be higher, the documents say.

Mr. Feinberg's costs and compensation will come from the interest earned on the money that BP deposits in the fund. How much Mr. Feinberg is earning for his work is not known, but the documents indicate that his payment comes with no added contingencies that incentivize keeping reimbursements down.

Even though BP is the fund's sole contributor so far, it may still be in its interest that the other companies linked to the spill be protected from claims because they could in turn try to sue BP for payment, said Richard Nagareda, a mass torts expert and law professor at Vanderbilt University.

While the protocol says that all workers injured or killed as a result of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon or the spill are eligible to file claims, a letter sent by BP's lawyers to Steve Gordon, a lawyer representing some of those workers, states otherwise.

The letter was handed over to the House Judiciary Committee, which is investigating liability issues and the claims process.

"To be clear, it is BP's position, consistent with this indemnification, that any settlement between Transocean and any of its injured or deceased employees must include a full release of all BP entities from any and all claims or liability in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident," said the letter, from John T. Hickey, a lawyer for BP. "This full release of all BP entities would indeed bar any subsequent claims against the fund being established by BP and the claims facility that will be administered by Mr. Feinberg."

Other parts of the fund protocol that may upset potential claimants include a provision that property owners will not be reimbursed strictly for loss of property values. Also, there will be no reimbursements for anyone adversely affected by the Obama administration's moratorium on most deepwater drilling in the gulf, people with mental health claims or businesses that were far from spill but lost tourism revenue because of government predictions that the slick was headed their way.

"Economic losses which are more remote, or occurred at a location more distant from the spill, are less likely to be fully compensated," the documents say.

Mr. Feinberg will determine on a case-by-case basis what qualifies as beach-front property and how payments will be adjusted on a sliding scale based in part on geographic proximity to the spill.

In a political deal struck with the governors of Alabama and Mississippi, up to $60 million from the fund will be set aside in a special pool just for compensating negatively affected real estate brokers and agents in the gulf region who are otherwise ineligible for compensation. That money will not be distributed by Mr. Feinberg but rather by the National Association of Realtors in Washington or local chapters in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The national association will set eligibility requirements for this money, but Mr. Feinberg will review those terms.

The $20 billion BP fund will be administered in two stages.

People, businesses or other groups that have been adversely affected by the spill can apply to Mr. Feinberg between Aug. 23 and Nov. 23 to see if they are eligible for emergency payments. After Nov. 23, only final settlement claims will be accepted, and the cutoff date for sending those is Aug. 23, 2013, the documents say.

The right to sue is waived only if people or businesses accept Mr. Feinberg's settlement, not if they simply apply for the payment. Accepting the short-term emergency payments comes with no conditions, the documents say.

The time limit placed on applying for emergency payments has been criticized by some gulf officials, including Alabama's attorney general, Troy King. After the emergency payments run out, people still out of work may be forced to apply for a final settlement before there is enough evidence to ascertain the spill's actual long-term financial effects.

Gulf residents, their lawyers and local politicians have also harshly criticized the use of proximity in calculating eligibility.

The protocol will "arbitrarily exclude large swaths of claimants from covertly predetermined 'zones of eligibility' based on restrictive state law concepts as opposed to following" the federal Oil Pollution Act, a team of lawyers representing several gulf restaurants wrote in a July 20 filing in federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

In a concession to trial lawyers, Mr. Feinberg removed early draft language from the emergency protocol that said affected restaurant owners were likely to be eligible while their suppliers were not. Mr. Feinberg has also removed from the current draft of the final settlement protocol language that would have granted BP the right to appeal to a pre-established three-judge panel any claim Mr. Feinberg approved for over $500,000.

In response to pressure from BP, he decided to include language in the protocols emphasizing proximity rather than language that is closer to federal law that does not geographically limit damage claims. BP also successfully lobbied to include language in the emergency protocol that says that any earnings or profits people receive from another job or other source of income during the period for which they are claiming lost earnings will be deducted from the final settlement.

Instead of the month-by-month checks that BP had been handing out, Mr. Feinberg will begin authorizing emergency payments worth up to six months of lost compensation. Any emergency payments will be deducted from the final settlement disbursed.

John Schwartz contributed reporting from New York.


7) South Africa: Rubber Bullets Wound Striking Workers
August 19, 2010

A strike for higher wages by more than one million public employees - teachers and health care workers among them - entered its second day on Thursday. At least five strikers were wounded when a police officer fired rubber bullets at a crowd trying to block the exit ramp of a Johannesburg highway, the police said.


8) Oil Plume Is Not Breaking Down Fast, Study Says
"Dr. Camilli's team measured the main plume at roughly 3,600 feet below the surface; it extended for more than 20 miles southwest of the well. It was more than a mile wide in places and 600 feet thick, traveling at about four miles a day."
August 19, 2010

New research confirms the existence of a huge plume of dispersed oil deep in the Gulf of Mexico and suggests that it has not broken down rapidly, raising the possibility that it might pose a threat to wildlife for months or even years.

The study, the most ambitious scientific paper to emerge so far from the Deepwater Horizon spill, casts some doubt on recent statements by the federal government that oil in the gulf appears to be dissipating at a brisk clip. However, the lead scientist in the research, Richard Camilli, cautioned that the samples were taken in June and circumstances could have changed in the last two months.

The paper, which is to appear in Friday's issue of the journal Science, adds to a welter of recent, and to some extent conflicting, scientific claims about the status of the gulf. While scientists generally agree that the risk of additional harm at the surface and near the shore has diminished since the well was capped a month ago, a sharp debate has arisen about the continuing risk from oil in the deep waters.

So far, scientific information about the gulf has emerged largely from government reports and statements issued by scientists. Many additional research papers are in the works, and it could be months before a clear scientific picture emerges.

The slow breakdown of deep oil that Dr. Camilli's group found had a silver lining: it meant that the bacteria trying to eat the oil did not appear to have consumed an excessive amount of oxygen in the vicinity of the spill, alleviating concerns that the oxygen might have declined so much that it threatened sea life. On this point, Dr. Camilli's research backs statements that the government has been making for weeks.

Dr. Camilli, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass., said the plume, at the time he studied it, was dissipating so slowly that it could still be in the gulf many months from now. Assuming that the physics of the plume are still similar to what his team saw in June, "it's going to persist for quite a while before it finally dissipates or dilutes away," he said.

Concentrations of hydrocarbons in the plume were generally low and declined gradually as the plume traveled through the gulf, although Dr. Camilli's team has not yet completed tests on how toxic the chemicals might be to sea life.

In a report on Aug. 4, a team of government and independent scientists organized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that 74 percent of the oil from the leak had been captured directly from the wellhead; skimmed, burned, dispersed chemically or by natural processes; evaporated from the ocean surface; or dissolved into microscopic droplets.

The report found that the remaining 26 percent of the oil had mostly washed ashore or collected there, was buried in sand and sediment, or was still on or below the surface as sheen or tar balls.

While the government report expressed concern about the continuing impact of the spill, it was widely viewed as evidence that the risk of additional harm in the gulf was declining.

This week, scientists at the University of Georgia, who in May were among the first to report the existence of the large plume studied by Dr. Camilli's team, sharply challenged the government's assessment. They contended that the government had overestimated rates of evaporation and breakdown of the oil.

"The idea that 75 percent of the oil is gone and is of no further concern to the environment is just incorrect," said Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia. She has studied the spill extensively but has not yet published her results.

Responding to the criticism, Jane Lubchenco, the NOAA administrator, said the government stood by its calculations. "Some of those numbers we can measure directly," she said. "The others are the best estimates that are out there."

Dr. Lubchenco has noted repeatedly that some of the remaining oil existed in the form of undersea plumes and cautioned that this subsurface oil could pose a threat to marine life.

In another report this week, researchers from the University of South Florida said they had found oil droplets scattered in sediment along the gulf floor and in the water column, where they could pose a threat to some of the gulf's most important fisheries.

The dispersed oil appeared to be having a toxic effect on bacteria and on phytoplankton, a group of micro-organisms that serves as a vital food for fish and other marine life, the scientists said, although they cautioned that further testing was needed.

Dr. Camilli's paper tends to support the view that considerable oil may be lingering below the surface of the gulf. He said he was not especially surprised by the slow rate of breakdown, considering that the waters of the gulf are about 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the vicinity of the plume.

"In colder environments, microbes operate more slowly," Dr. Camilli said. "That's why we have refrigerators."

For weeks, BP, the company that owned the out-of-control well, disputed claims from scientists that a huge plume of dispersed oil droplets had formed in the gulf, with its chief executive at the time, Tony Hayward, declaring at one point, "There aren't any plumes." (BP subsequently acknowledged the existence of dispersed oil and pledged $500 million for research on the environment of the gulf.)

NOAA, while initially skeptical, ultimately confirmed the existence of such plumes. The new paper appears to dispel any lingering doubt, providing detailed evidence that one major plume and at least one minor plume existed and contained large quantities of hydrocarbons, albeit dispersed into tiny droplets.

Dr. Camilli's team measured the main plume at roughly 3,600 feet below the surface; it extended for more than 20 miles southwest of the well. It was more than a mile wide in places and 600 feet thick, traveling at about four miles a day.

At the time his team studied it in June, the plume appeared to have narrowed from measurements reported early in the spill by a team that included Dr. Joye and Vernon Asper, a marine scientist from the University of Southern Mississippi, but Dr. Camilli's results otherwise matched their report.

The slow breakdown of the plume, if verified by additional research, suggests that scientists may find themselves tracking the toxic compounds from BP's well and trying to discern their impact on sea life for a long time.

"I expect the hydrocarbon imprint of the BP discharge will be detectable in the marine environment for the rest of my life," Ian MacDonald, an oceanographer at Florida State University, told Congress in prepared testimony on Thursday. "The oil is not gone and is not going away anytime soon."


9) Well to Be Sealed After Labor Day
"One concern is that there are now about 1,000 barrels of oil trapped in the outer portion of the well, called the annulus, between seals at the top and cement at the bottom that was pumped in as part of a "static kill" procedure this month. If more mud is pumped in through the relief well, the pressure in the well could rise and the top seals or cement might be damaged. That could allow oil and gas to travel up into the damaged blowout preventer and, potentially, into the gulf."
August 19, 2010

The final sealing of BP's stricken well in the Gulf of Mexico will be delayed until after Labor Day, officials said on Thursday, so that the company can replace equipment that contributed to the well's failure.

Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who is leading the federal response to the oil spill, said at a briefing in Washington that after lengthy discussions between BP engineers and government scientists, BP had agreed to remove the damaged blowout preventer - the device that failed when the Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded in April - and the new cap that was installed atop it last month.

They will be replaced by another blowout preventer that Admiral Allen said would be better able to handle any pressure changes that might occur when a relief well intercepts the stricken well and pumps mud and cement into it in a final "bottom kill" operation. Leaving the original preventer in place "is not the most favorable choice," he said.

The delay means that the well may be declared officially dead about a month later than expected. But Admiral Allen said this was necessary to ensure that the bottom kill procedure did not further damage the well. "We are getting very close to putting this well away," he said. "I have no problem as the national incident commander with an overabundance of caution."

One concern is that there are now about 1,000 barrels of oil trapped in the outer portion of the well, called the annulus, between seals at the top and cement at the bottom that was pumped in as part of a "static kill" procedure this month. If more mud is pumped in through the relief well, the pressure in the well could rise and the top seals or cement might be damaged. That could allow oil and gas to travel up into the damaged blowout preventer and, potentially, into the gulf.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who was involved in the discussions about replacing the original blowout preventer, said in an interview that he remained concerned that the cementing of the well during the static kill might be flawed.

"It wasn't perfect," Dr. Chu said. "There were mechanical issues and the rate of flow of cement wasn't as high as they wanted."

If the seal at the top of the well is weak, he said, the pressure from the relief well could blow it off and release large amounts of oil and gas.

In a briefing in Houston, Kent Wells, a senior vice president for BP, said that technicians had filled the original preventer and cap with seawater and that they were testing them to determine whether oil or gas was coming up from the bottom of the well. Mr. Wells said that beginning Saturday, using a procedure known as fishing, technicians will try to remove some of the drill pipe that was in the well when the blowout occurred to make it easier to swap out the blowout preventers.

Admiral Allen said that once the new preventer - which was used by the rig drilling a backup relief well - was installed, there were other steps to be taken before the relief well could resume drilling and intercept the Macondo well. "If you add all those sequences up, it logically leads you to a point sometime after Labor Day" for the completion of the bottom kill, he said.

Once the original blowout preventer is brought to the surface it will be analyzed by various investigative bodies, including the Coast Guard, the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Justice Department. The government expects to bring in outside experts to assess the damage as part of its efforts to reconstruct the accident.

Investigators will also try to determine whether the device had any unauthorized modifications that may have led to its failure, said Ken Salazar, the interior secretary.

Henry Fountain reported from New York, and John M. Broder from Washington.


10) California: Police Group Backs Marijuana Measure
August 19, 2010

A national group of African-American law enforcement officers has endorsed Proposition 19, a ballot measure that would tax and regulate marijuana in California. The National Black Police Association, which has more than two dozen chapters across the country, announced the endorsement in Sacramento, where the organization is holding a national conference. In a statement, Neill Franklin, the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which supports Proposition 19, said that "prohibition takes a toll on people of color across the country." He added: "Californians finally have an opportunity to do something about it." The measure would allow possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use.


11) Too Long Ignored
August 20, 2010

A tragic crisis of enormous magnitude is facing black boys and men in America.

Parental neglect, racial discrimination and an orgy of self-destructive behavior have left an extraordinary portion of the black male population in an ever-deepening pit of social and economic degradation.

The Schott Foundation for Public Education tells us in a new report that the on-time high school graduation rate for black males in 2008 was an abysmal 47 percent, and even worse in several major urban areas - for example, 28 percent in New York City.

The astronomical jobless rates for black men in inner-city neighborhoods are both mind-boggling and heartbreaking. There are many areas where virtually no one has a legitimate job.

More than 70 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers. And I've been hearing more and more lately from community leaders in poor areas that moms are absent for one reason or another and the children are being raised by a grandparent or some other relative - or they end up in foster care.

That the black community has not been mobilized en masse to turn this crisis around is a screaming shame. Black men, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, have nearly a one-third chance of being incarcerated at some point in their lives. By the time they hit their mid-30s, a solid majority of black men without a high school diploma have spent time in prison.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for young black men, with the murderous wounds in most cases inflicted by other young black men.

This is a cancer that has been allowed to metastasize for decades. Not only is it not being treated, most people don't even want to talk about it. In virtually every facet of life in the United States, black people - and especially black boys and men - are coming up short. White families are typically five times as wealthy as black families. More than a third of all black children are growing up in poverty. In Ohio, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, the percentage is more than half.

There are myriad reasons for this awful state of affairs. As with so many other problems in American society, a lack of gainful employment has been a huge contributor to the problems faced by blacks. Chronic unemployment is hardly a plus-factor for marriage and family stability. And the absence of strong family units with mature parental guidance is at the very root of the chaotic environment that so many black youngsters grow up in.

The abominable incarceration rates among blacks are the result of two overwhelming factors: the persistence of criminal behavior by a significant percentage of the black population, and a criminal justice system that in many respects is racially discriminatory and out of control. Both of these factors need to be engaged head-on, and both will require a staggeringly heavy lift.

Education in the broadest sense is the key to stopping this socioeconomic slide that is taking such a horrific toll in the black community. People have to understand what is happening to them before they can really do much about it. Young blacks who have taken a wrong road, or are at risk of taking a wrong road, have to be shown a feasible legitimate alternative.

The aspect of this crisis that is probably the most important and simultaneously the most difficult to recognize is that the heroic efforts needed to alleviate it will not come from the government or the wider American society. This is a job that will require a campaign on the scale of the civil rights movement, and it will have to be initiated by the black community.

Whether this is fair or not is irrelevant. There is very little sentiment in the wider population for tackling the extensive problems faced by poor and poorly educated black Americans. What is needed is a dramatic mobilization of the black community to demand justice on a wide front - think employment, education and the criminal justice system - while establishing a new set of norms, higher standards, for struggling blacks to live by.

For many, this is a fight for survival. And it is an awesomely difficult fight. But the alternative is to continue the terrible devastation that has befallen so many families and communities: the premature and often violent deaths, the inadequate preparation for an increasingly competitive workplace, the widespread failure to exercise one's intellectual capacity, the insecurity that becomes ingrained from being so long at the bottom of the heap.

Terrible injustices have been visited on black people in the United States, but there is never a good reason to collaborate in one's own destruction. Blacks in America have a long and proud history of overcoming hardship and injustice. It's time to do it again.


12) Russian TV on Trotsky
[This includes a great news video and discussion with supporters of Trotsky and his theory of permanent revolution and its new relevance today]
Posted on August 20, 2010 by Liam

Russian TV station RT carried a surprisingly favourable report on the anniversary of Trotsky's murder. In search of some of his heirs they spoke to Workers' Power. Thanks to Cogsy for the tip and thanks to RT for the new coinage "Marxist-Trotskyists".

It has been 70 years since Leon Trotsky, one of the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, was assassinated by an undercover Soviet agent.

Trotsky spent his last days in Mexico, after being deported for opposing Joseph Stalin's policies, but his socialist ideas are finding more support among those hit by Europe's financial downturn.

To many, the ideas of Leon Trotsky embody genuine socialism - revolution, an international coalition of the working classes and fighting bureaucracy. They might seem like outdated ideas, but they are alive and well across Europe.

Trotsky's assassination at the hands of an undercover NKVD agent took place 70 years ago in Mexico. Regardless, in many other places around Europe his theories live on through organizations, such as Workers Power, which calls for the working classes to seize power from the capitalists and start a permanent revolution.

Workers Power is a movement active in 12 countries from the United States to Sri Lanka. Simon Hardy from the organization believes it is relevant today more than ever, as ordinary people feel they are suffering most from an economic crisis brought about by the rich.

"A lot of the work of socialists now is focusing on talking to working people about how they are suffering under the recession and engaging them in the political arguments and ideas which will help them fight back against the governments, against the capitalist class, so they don't have to bear the brunt of the crisis," Hardy said.

Amid discontent in Europe about cuts in public spending and job losses, this summer has seen violent protests, most notably in Greece. Socialists around Europe believe those demonstrations were successful. In their view, they stopped the Greek government imposing harsher austerity measures.

According to German Trotskyist group SAB, it is just the beginning.

Michael Koschitzki, an activist with the German Socialist Alternative, says "I think if they can develop a real program which does, for example, stop all debt payments, starts the nationalization of banks, starts the nationalization of bigger companies and puts them under workers control and management, I think that will lead to where you can really fight back the measures of the government. Also spread these struggles to other countries in southern Europe, for example, but also countries such as Germany."

According to the Trotskyists, the world is heading for an Autumn of Discontent, with demonstrations and general strikes across Europe attacking austerity measures and governments. The aim is to spread left-wing ideas, and plant the idea the economic crisis wasn't brought about by individual policies - it stems from capitalism itself.

"When capitalism went into its bust phase in 2008, went into the recession, the governments decided to give the banks as much money as they wanted, there was billions and billions of dollars given to the banks in bailouts, but when it comes to ordinary people, we suffer cuts, we suffer austerity measures, so it is about making that political argument and making it clear that the problems are capitalism itself, and therefore the alternative is socialism," Simon Hardy concludes.

Marxist-Trotskyists say genuine socialism, minus the cult of personality and the bureaucracy, was never given a chance to prove itself. In Europe, it has never managed to get more than token support at the ballot box. Now its supporters think capitalism is on its deathbed and it may be time to finally implement Trotsky's philosophy.


13) Newly Discovered Underwater Oil Plume Paints a Complex Picture of Gulf Leak Aftermath
Scientists have yet to agree on the scope of the disaster
By Rebecca Boyle Posted 08.19.2010

Oceanographers announced today the discovery of a wispy oil plume at least 22 miles long and 1.2 miles wide floating beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a sign that plenty of the oil from BP's Deepwater Horizon leak remains in the environment. It's the first conclusive proof that a deep-sea plume from the leak exists, which at least partially explains what happened to the oil in the three months since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. It also casts doubt on the federal government's statement earlier this month that most of the oil has dispersed or disappeared.

But the new study is merely a rough snapshot of what is happening in the depths. Wide disagreement persists among scientists who study the Gulf and oil spills, and they say it could take generations to fully understand the leak's scope. The best minds in marine science and geology can't say yet how bad it will be.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researchers Richard Camilli and Chris Reddy followed the plume starting about three miles from the wellhead of the deep-sea Macondo well. Using autonomous submersibles, they took samples for 22 miles, until the approach of Hurricane Alex forced them to turn back.

As of now, they don't know how much oil (of the estimated 4.9 million barrels leaked) is in the plume, and they can't be certain how diffuse it is until they analyze more water samples, Reddy said. The researchers say the levels of dissolved oxygen within the plume had not dropped to levels that would suggest bacteria were breaking down the oil in significant volumes.

The report comes two weeks after a government study that most researchers said was widely misinterpreted. Other scientists dismissed the report as inaccurate or incomplete. That report, from the National Incident Command (NIC), said the majority of the oil had evaporated, been recovered or been dispersed - but dispersed does not mean gone.

Rick Steiner, a retired professor at the University of Alaska and marine conservationist who worked on cleaning up the Exxon Valdez oil spill, called that report fatally flawed.

"The estimate that chemical dispersants were successful at dispersing 8 percent of the leaked oil [as stated in the NIC report] is, quite frankly, ludicrous," he said in an e-mail message.

Many others agree, and at least two studies emerged this week that appear to directly contradict the government's findings. But none of them proves anything conclusively. Reddy said government scientists, along with those at universities and private institutions, are trying to account for all the oil like balancing a checkbook. But a checkbook is difficult to balance when none of the numbers being used are firmly accurate.

"This data that we're waiting for, as it becomes available, they will be able to put it into their calculations," he said. "When we have analyzed those samples, we'll be able to constrain what the inventory of those compounds was in there. And at that point, we may be able to see whether it's a penny in a big checking account, or maybe it's bigger."

The problem is that every variable is couched in terms of estimates. Without a firm grasp on where the oil settled - at the surface, in the middle, or at the bottom of the sea - it's nearly impossible to say what happened to it. The Woods Hole study uses oxygen as a proxy for microbial degradation, for instance. But scientists don't have good baselines for pre-existing oxygen concentrations, so it's hard to tell what has changed.

"In truth, no one really has any idea whatsoever of how much oil has gone where," Steiner said.

Some estimates suggested 80 percent of it went to the surface, and if that's so, then it's reasonable to assume much of it is gone, according to Louisiana State University emeritus professor Ed Overton. Oil at the surface would quickly evaporate and be consumed by naturally present bacteria, he said.

Overton reviewed the NIC report and generally accepts its findings, though he believes the government may have underestimated how much oil remains below the surface. He said the visible evidence looks promising - surface slicks are disappearing, and things seem to be returning to normal. He went swimming off the coast of Alabama last week and said it was wonderful, though he did find a few tar balls. Work, not oil, forced him to return home.

"I could still be swimming if there wasn't so much work to do associated with the spill," he said.

Others don't seem quite as eager to dive in. Ron Kendall, chair of the department of environmental toxicology at Texas Tech and director of the university's Institute for Environmental and Human Health, believes the oil's persistence, as well as the profligate use of dispersants, could lead to entirely new environmental effects. He compared the dispersants to mineral spirits used to clean up oil spots in a garage.

"If you pour mineral spirits on your skin, it'll burn. You breathe it, it'll be very antagonistic to your sinuses. You drink it, it'll be very harmful," he said. "There were a lot of organisms that came into contact with the use of dispersants deep in the ocean, and on the surface."

He thinks dispersants probably contributed to the plume's presence. If the oil had not been dissipated into microdroplets as it was spewing from the well, more of it would have floated to the surface, he said.

"A lot of that oil, and the toxic constituents in that oil, has probably been dispersed into the water column, and that is what these scientific discoveries are finding out - there appear to be these plumes," he said.

Adding to the confusion is the tricky element of politics. Plenty of research will be wrapped up in lawsuits, and scientists who are being hired by BP and legions of attorneys are being caught in the middle. Last month, NPR reported that BP is essentially buying the silence of prominent Gulf researchers. The public radio network quoted University of South Alabama's Bob Shipp, who said BP's lawyers tried to hire his whole Department of Marine Sciences to do research for them. Under the deal, the scientists could only disclose their findings if BP gave them a green light. Otherwise, they'd have to keep it secret for three years, NPR said.

"A lot of this event has been politicized, versus letting the scientists do their jobs and get the best science possible," Kendall said. "It's really hard for the science to rise to the top when everybody is getting ready for a big lawsuit, including the government."

There's at least one area in which scientists can agree: The impact on Gulf ecosystems will not be clear for years to come.

Kendall believes most of the leaked oil remains in the environment, and said it will take years to understand its impacts on wildlife like sea turtles, whales and bluefin tuna.

"It takes 10 years before those female (turtles) come back to nest, in the case of the coast of Texas, so we won't know for a decade. So let's not race to judgment. This is a time for good science," he said.

Overton said more work is still needed to at least determine where the oil went.

"As soon as that damn oil quit coming into the Gulf, the amount of oil at the surface nearly disappeared. Now that doesn't mean there is zero oil. There's still oil on the marshy grass, some buried a foot or so down ... coastal erosion changes those beaches a lot. There's tar balls out there like the ones I found.

"But what if, instead of 20 percent being spread at the bottom, what if 80 percent was down there, and all we were seeing at the surface was 20 percent? If that's the case, then 80 percent of that oil is still down there, minus what is being degraded."

Overton said he would not be surprised if there is still plenty of diluted oil beneath the surface - which the Woods Hole study suggests is plausible.

"The question is, can the dilute oil cause environmental impacts? We don't know. We can't know, because we don't know very much about deepwater environments," Overton said. "This is a question that may never be answered."

If all this uncertainty indicates anything, it's that much more data is needed before anyone - scientists or policymakers - attempts anything resembling declarative statements. Science is incremental, as Reddy said in today's conference call. Individual studies are usually designed to address narrow questions, such as today's glimpse at the plume's size and spread. Further studies will address its toxicity, density and impacts on fish and other wildlife. It will be a long time before everything is tied together to paint a complete picture of this disaster.

Kendall said that research is only just beginning.

"To me, we're still in the very early phases of this," he said. "Quite frankly, we may not fully figure out the ultimate impact of this for many years to come."


14) Spill Fund May Prove as Challenging as 9/11 Payments
"Protocols that will guide the distribution of the oil spill fund, which Mr. Feinberg will administer independently even though it is being paid for by BP, place a premium on geographic proximity to the spill. So a gulf shrimper who was kept out of the waters should have an easy time getting paid, but the owner of a Memphis seafood restaurant who was forced to absorb higher seafood prices all summer will not."
[As usual, the only ones who will really be getting paid will be BP]
August 21, 2010

At first blush, it would seem that Kenneth R. Feinberg, the man tapped to dole out BP's $20 billion oil spill compensation fund, has been down this path before.

As the special master who administered the $7 billion Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, he wrestled with visceral questions of how much money each victim of the attacks was entitled to, endured the occasional emotionally charged taunts and criticisms from widows and grieving relatives, and succeeded in persuading the families of a vast majority of the victims to accept cash settlements rather than file lawsuits.

But some analysts say his new assignment could prove even trickier.

"Although he had a very difficult time placing a dollar value on human life, in some way that was a more straightforward job than estimating the long-term harm to a shrimper's business," said Richard A. Nagareda, a mass torts expert and law professor at Vanderbilt University.

The attacks of Sept. 11 were largely fixed in time and place, killing almost 3,000 in a morning and raining destruction on three distinct areas: Lower Manhattan, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

The oil spill, by contrast, is more open-ended. When the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, 11 workers were killed and oil was sent gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for months, damaging the environment and the economies of at least four states for what could well be years.

The two funds are different, too. The Sept. 11 fund was created to compensate people who were injured in the attacks and the families of people who were killed, while the oil spill fund will largely compensate people and businesses for lost income.

So Mr. Feinberg, a prominent Washington lawyer who has been chosen to untangle all sorts of thorny problems over the years, will have to sift through claims that will require him to estimate the amount of money that people in off-the-books jobs like fishing were earning, as well as the amount of income they stand to lose from a disaster whose long-term impact is still unclear.

Protocols that will guide the distribution of the oil spill fund, which Mr. Feinberg will administer independently even though it is being paid for by BP, place a premium on geographic proximity to the spill. So a gulf shrimper who was kept out of the waters should have an easy time getting paid, but the owner of a Memphis seafood restaurant who was forced to absorb higher seafood prices all summer will not.

Then there is the added potential for fraud. Of the 7,300 claims he processed for the Sept. 11 fund, Mr. Feinberg has said, only 35 were fraudulent. But most of those claims were fairly easily checked. "You've got verification of death," he said in an interview earlier this year.

In the gulf, by contrast, he must consider thousands of claims from people who will have little documentation to prove how much they earned.

The uncertainty over the long-term effects of the spill adds another wrinkle. The idea of the spill fund is similar to that of the Sept. 11 fund: persuade people to accept settlements up front, rather than wait years for results of potentially costly litigation. But if people in the gulf accept settlements and waive the right to sue, and the long-term effects of the spill prove to be much worse than anticipated, they could find themselves in trouble down the road.

And comparing the dollar figures of the two funds can be misleading. The $7 billion Sept. 11 fund was only for those who died or were injured. Businesses separately received at least $23.3 billion, largely from insurance claims for property damage and interrupted business, but also through low-interest loans, government grants and tax breaks, according to a 2004 study by the RAND Corporation.

Deciding how much businesses were entitled to receive was not Mr. Feinberg's headache then. It is now.

The source of the money he is about to begin giving out is also different. The Sept. 11 fund was paid by taxpayers and set up by the federal government in part out of fears that mass lawsuits would cripple the country's airline industry. The oil spill fund will be paid by BP - which agreed to set it up under pressure from the Obama administration - and any of its partners that it can persuade to defray some of the cost. White House officials have said BP could be liable for more than $20 billion.

One thing is already clear: just as Mr. Feinberg found himself at times a lightning rod for the stinging criticism from Sept. 11 widows and grieving relatives - though he was ultimately given high marks for his handling of the fund - he is already getting a taste of the anger and emotion of many residents of the Gulf Coast.

"I mean, 9/11 was valuing lives that were traumatically extinguished, 3,000 of them," Mr. Feinberg said in an interview on "The Charlie Rose Show" on PBS shortly after he was chosen for the new job. "Here there are 11 dead, 11 too many, in the rig explosion. But do not underestimate the emotion, the anger, the frustration that people in the gulf convey to me, this curveball. 'Why this accident? It wasn't my fault. I'm an innocent victim. Why wasn't this prevented? Why am I now suffering financially?' "

John Schwartz contributed reporting.


15) Sweden Rescinds Warrant for WikiLeaks Founder
August 21, 2010

LONDON - Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blower Web site WikiLeaks who has been embroiled in a fight with the Pentagon over the recent release of classified documents, briefly became the focus of new attention on Saturday when Swedish prosecutors sought him for questioning on rape allegations - then quickly said the accusations were unfounded.

Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, had quickly posted a denial of the Swedish allegations on Twitter after the accusations were reported and later the site said: "We were warned to expect 'dirty tricks.' Now we have the first one."

Mr. Assange became an instant celebrity last month after WikiLeaks posted about 77,000 classified Pentagon documents on the war in Afghanistan. In recent weeks, he has warned the Pentagon that he intends to release 15,000 more documents.

American prosecutors have been exploring whether or how to criminally prosecute Mr. Assange or WikiLeaks for the recent disclosures, and he has spent much of that time in Sweden, which has strong press freedom laws that he hoped would offer protection against legal actions.

Mr. Assange did not respond immediately to attempts by reporters for The New York Times to reach him by e-mail and telephone, and Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for Sweden's national prosecutor's office, said in a telephone interview that the police did not know Mr. Assange's whereabouts.

Mrs. Rosander initially confirmed that Mr. Assange was wanted for questioning on rape allegations, but she could not be reached after news reports said the prosecutor's office was no longer seeking him. The prosecutor's Web site said, "Chief Prosecutor Eva Finné has come to the decision that Julian Assange is not suspected of rape." It also said the prosecutor would make no other comment on Saturday night.

The prosecutor's office had provided few details of the accusations earlier in the day.

It was not immediately clear if Mr. Assange remained in Sweden, where he made his last public appearance on Monday, at a news conference in Stockholm in which he said that WikiLeaks planned to defy Pentagon warnings and go ahead with the Internet posting of 15,000 more secret documents on the Afghanistan war, probably within a month.

WikiLeaks posted all but 15,000 of the documents on the Afghan war on its Web site last month, calling it an "Afghan War Diary," after sharing them in advance of the posting with three publications, including The Times, the British newspaper The Guardian, and Der Spiegel, a German magazine, each of which ran extensive articles based on the documents. The publications described the logs as giving important new insights into the way in which the war is being fought by the United States and its allies.

Pentagon officials have described the leak as one of the most damaging in years, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told a Pentagon news conference that an inquiry by investigators for the Pentagon and the F.B.I. "should go wherever it needs to go."

On the same occasion, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said WikiLeaks "might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family" for posting documents on the Internet that included some names and other details that could allow the Taliban to identify Afghans who act as informers for coalition forces or work with them.

Before publishing its own articles based on the 70,000 documents posted on the Internet, The Times, acting on a White House request, passed on to Mr. Assange a request that WikiLeaks not publish documents or other information that could lead to people's being harmed.

In its articles, The Times and the other two publications excluded details that identified individuals or could compromise operations.

Mr. Assange responded to the White House request by announcing that WikiLeaks was withholding 15,000 of the 90,000 Pentagon documents involved for review in what WikiLeaks has described as a "harm minimization" process, redacting the documents to eliminate the risk of what Mr. Assange, in a forum with reporters in London earlier this month, described as an effort to eliminate any risk of "unjustified retribution" for individuals who could otherwise be identified from the documents.

He also asked the Pentagon to assist in redacting the unreleased documents, saying that WikiLeaks lacked the $700,000 it would need to carry out the exhaustive job of reviewing the documents. But the Pentagon rejected the proposal, and demanded that WikiLeaks return all the secret United States documents in its possession.

Pentagon officials also warned of possible criminal charges against Mr. Assange and others as a result of its own investigation of the leaks.

In the wake of the Pentagon warnings, Mr. Assange, who has adopted a Pimpernel existence since founding WikiLeaks in 2006, has reverted to a secretive, shadowy lifestyle, announcing an appearance at London's Frontline Club two weeks ago, then canceling the appearance for "logistical" reasons and then rescheduling it a few days later and appearing by Skype from Sweden.

John F. Burns reported from London, and Eric Schmitt from Washington. Charlie Savage contributed reporting from Washington.


16) Looking for Trouble on 'Highway' for Manatees
August 20, 2010

For two sometime residents of Mobile Bay, Ala., the impact of the oil spill is still an unanswered question.

Bumpy and Bama are manatees who live in Florida most of the year but come to Alabama in late summer for reasons unknown. When oil first entered Mobile Bay in June, researchers feared it would contaminate the manatee habitats.

Though that has not come to pass, another danger is yet to come when the manatees return home in late fall, said Ruth Carmichael, who leads manatee research at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Dauphin Island, Ala. Researchers who model the spill's progress expect subsurface oil to collect in the shipping channel, which the manatees use on their migration, Dr. Carmichael said.

"So far, they've been up to just being manatees, which is a good thing," she said. "We've reported animals engaged in mating behaviors. We're not seeing changes in behavior or habitat."

"So we don't have that level of anxiety that we had at the beginning of the spill," she said. "But the reality is we just don't know what's going to happen next."

In the past, researchers thought the manatees avoided the shipping channel.

But in spring, using data from a radio transmitter tag attached to Bama, they learned the manatees use the channel "like a highway," Dr. Carmichael said.

Both animals are still in Florida, where Bama slipped her transmitter tag in July and has not been retagged. Bumpy, who still wears a tag, has teased the researchers, making a sharp push westward on Aug. 9, as if he were heading for Alabama, but then returning to Apalachicola Bay in Florida. So far, the late migration has been to his benefit, because some of the oil in Mobile Bay has dispersed.

"I'm less concerned about them popping up in a habitat that's covered with surface oil," Dr. Carmichael said. "But I'm more concerned with what we don't know. We don't know what's in the oil. We don't know what to sample for."

One worry is that subsurface oil will remain in the grasses the manatees eat.

"For years, it's likely to be in their food supply," she said. "You don't see it, so it's easier for people to say it isn't there."


17) Virginia: Soldiers Said They Were Punished for Refusing to Attend Christian Concert
August 20, 2010

Dozens of soldiers who refused to attend a Christian band's concert at Fort Eustis said they were banished to their barracks and told to clean them up, and the Pentagon said Friday that it was investigating the accusation. Pvt. Anthony Smith said he and other soldiers felt pressured to attend the May concert by the Christian rock group BarlowGirl as part of the "Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts." Private Smith said 80 men decided not to attend. "Instead of being released to our personal time," he said, "we were locked down. It seemed very much like a punishment." The Military Religious Freedom Foundation said it had been approached by soldiers who said they were punished for not attending the event.


18) Income Inequality and Financial Crises
"Ms. Blair said that because financial bubbles often lead to higher returns, financial workers have the potential to make more, and this pattern can influence their trading strategies and the policies they promote. Those decisions, in turn, drive even greater income inequality, she said."
[And phenomenal thing about this article is that these people have degrees in economics! If there ever was a Homer Simpson "No Duh!" moment, this has got to be
August 21, 2010

David A. Moss, an economic and policy historian at the Harvard Business School, has spent years studying income inequality. While he has long believed that the growing disparity between the rich and poor was harmful to the people on the bottom, he says he hadn't seen the risks to the world of finance, where many of the richest earn their great fortunes.

Now, as he studies the financial crisis of 2008, Mr. Moss says that even Wall Street may have something serious to fear from inequality - namely, another crisis.

The possible connection between economic inequality and financial crises came to Mr. Moss about a year ago, when he was at his research center in Cambridge, Mass. A colleague suggested that he overlay two different graphs - one plotting financial regulation and bank failures, and the other charting trends in income inequality.

Mr. Moss says he was surprised by what he saw. The timelines danced in sync with each other. Income disparities between rich and poor widened as government regulations eased and bank failures rose.

"I could hardly believe how tight the fit was - it was a stunning correlation," he said. "And it began to raise the question of whether there are causal links between financial deregulation, economic inequality and instability in the financial sector. Are all of these things connected?"

Professor Moss is among a small group of economists, sociologists and legal scholars who are now trying to discover if income inequality contributes to financial crises. They have a new data point, of course, in the recent banking crisis, but there is only one parallel in the United States - the 1929 market crash.

Income disparities before that crisis and before the recent one were the greatest in approximately the last 100 years. In 1928, the top 10 percent of earners received 49.29 percent of total income. In 2007, the top 10 percent earned a strikingly similar percentage: 49.74 percent. In 1928, the top 1 percent received 23.94 percent of income. In 2007, those earners received 23.5 percent. Mr. Moss and his colleagues want to know if huge gaps in income create perverse incentives that put the financial system at risk. If so, their findings could become an argument for tax and social policies aimed at closing the income gap and for greater regulation of Wall Street.

This inquiry is one that some conservative economists are already dismissing.

R. Glenn Hubbard, for instance, who was the top economic advisor to former President George W. Bush, said income inequality was not the culprit in the most recent crisis.

"Cars go faster every year, and G.D.P. rises every year, but that doesn't mean speed causes G.D.P.," said Mr. Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School and co-author of the coming book "Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity."

Even scholars who support the inquiry say they aren't sure that researchers will be able to prove the connection. Richard B. Freeman, an economist at Harvard, is comparing about 125 financial crises around the globe that occurred over the last 30 years. He said inequality soared before many of these crises. But, Mr. Freeman added, the data from different nations is difficult to compare. And Professor Freeman says he has found some places, like the Scandinavian countries, where there were crises without much inequality, suggesting that other factors, like deregulation, may be the best explanations.

For his part, Mr. Moss said that income inequality might have complicated links to financial crises. For instance, inequality, by putting too much power in the hands of Wall Street titans, enables them to promote policies that benefit them - like deregulation - that could put the system in jeopardy.

Inequality may also push people at the bottom of the ladder toward choices that put the financial system at risk, he said. And low-income homeowners could have better afforded their mortgages if not for the earnings gap.

(Mr. Hubbard has a different take: He says many lower-income homeowners should not have had mortgages in the first place. The latest crisis, he says, was caused by policymakers who decided to "democratize credit" by expanding home ownership. Their actions were driven by a desire to address inequality, but those policymakers were misguided and should have improved education instead, he adds.)

Scholars who study inequality often focus on people at the bottom. But, Mr. Moss said, the incentives of people at the top also deserve more scrutiny.

He pointed to the recent work of Margaret M. Blair, who teaches at Vanderbilt University Law School and is active with the Tobin Project, the nonprofit organization Mr. Moss founded a few years ago to study issues like economic inequality. She is researching whether financial workers promote bubbles and highly leveraged systems, even unconsciously. Ms. Blair said that because financial bubbles often lead to higher returns, financial workers have the potential to make more, and this pattern can influence their trading strategies and the policies they promote. Those decisions, in turn, drive even greater income inequality, she said.

After the 1929 crash, the income gap narrowed dramatically and remained low for decades, because of the huge wealth lost by people at the top and the sweeping financial reforms introduced in the 1930s that reined in Wall Street.

So far, the results are not as dramatic in the wake of the recent financial crisis. The income gap narrowed slightly in 2008, according to the most recent data available, but it remains unclear if it will continue shrinking.

This time, after all, the system did not collapse as it did in 1929. The status quo on income inequality looks like it was essentially maintained. Mr. Moss said he supported the government intervention in 2008, though he noted, "Financial elites made off rather well."


19) Fixing a World That Fosters Fat
"The inflation-adjusted price of a McDonald's quarter-pounder with cheese, for example, fell 5.44 percent from 1990 to 2007, according to an article on the economics of child obesity published in the journal Health Affairs. But the inflation-adjusted price of fruit and vegetables, which are not subject to federal largess, rose 17 percent just from 1997 to 2003, the study said."
August 21, 2010

WHY are Americans getting fatter and fatter? The simple explanation is that we eat too much junk food and spend too much time in front of screens - be they television, phone or computer - to burn off all those empty calories.

One handy prescription for healthier lives is behavior modification. If people only ate more fresh produce. (Thank you, Michael Pollan.) If only children exercised more. (Ditto, Michelle Obama.)

Unfortunately, behavior changes won't work on their own without seismic societal shifts, health experts say, because eating too much and exercising too little are merely symptoms of a much larger malady. The real problem is a landscape littered with inexpensive fast-food meals; saturation advertising for fatty, sugary products; inner cities that lack supermarkets; and unhealthy, high-stress workplaces.

In other words: it's the environment, stupid.

"Everyone knows that you shouldn't eat junk food and you should exercise," says Kelly D. Brownell, the director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. "But the environment makes it so difficult that fewer people can do these things, and then you have a public health catastrophe."

Dr. Brownell, who has a doctorate in psychology, is among a number of leading researchers who are proposing large-scale changes to food pricing, advertising and availability, all in the hope of creating an environment conducive to healthier diet and exercise choices.

To that end, health researchers are grappling with how to fix systems that are the root causes of obesity, says Dee W. Edington, the director of the Health Management Research Center at the University of Michigan.

"If you take a changed person and put them in the same environment, they are going to go back to the old behaviors," says Dr. Edington, who has a doctorate in physical education. "If you change the culture and the environment first, then you can go back into a healthy environment and, when you get change, it sticks."

Indeed, despite individual efforts by some states to tax soda pop, promote farm stands, require healthier school lunches or mandate calorie information in chain restaurants, obesity rates in the United States are growing. An estimated 72.5 million adults in the United States are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, about 27 percent of adults said they were obese, compared with about 20 percent in 2000, as reported in a C.D.C. study published this month. And, the report said, obesity may cost the medical system as much as $147 billion annually.

So what kind of disruptive changes might help nudge Americans into healthier routines? Equalizing food pricing, for one.

Fast-food restaurants can charge lower prices for value meals of hamburgers and French fries than for salad because the government subsidizes the corn and soybeans used for animal feed and vegetable oil, says Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"We have made it more expensive to eat healthy in a very big way," says Dr. Popkin, who has a doctorate in agricultural economics and is the author of a book called "The World Is Fat: The Fads, Trends, Policies and Products That Are Fattening the Human Race."

The inflation-adjusted price of a McDonald's quarter-pounder with cheese, for example, fell 5.44 percent from 1990 to 2007, according to an article on the economics of child obesity published in the journal Health Affairs. But the inflation-adjusted price of fruit and vegetables, which are not subject to federal largess, rose 17 percent just from 1997 to 2003, the study said. Cutting agricultural subsidies would have a big impact on people's eating habits, says Dr. Popkin.

"If we cut the subsidy on whole milk and made it cheaper only to drink low-fat milk," he says, "people would switch to it and it would save a lot of calories."

Health experts are also looking to the private sector. On-site fitness centers and vending machines that sell good-for-you snacks are practical workplace innovations that many companies have instituted.

On a more philosophical level, innovative companies are training managers not to burn out employees by overworking them, says Dr. Edington of the University of Michigan.

"Stress comes up. It can lead to overeating and obesity," Dr. Edington says. At companies that see employee health as a renewable resource, he adds, managers encourage employees to go home on time so they can spend more time with their families, communities or favorite activities. "Instead of going home with an empty tank, you can go home with the energy that we gave you by the way we run our business," he says.

CORPORATE-SECTOR efforts aren't entirely altruistic. It's less expensive for businesses to keep healthy workers healthy than to cover the medical costs of obesity and related problems like diabetes. For employees at I.B.M. and their families, for example, the annual medical claim for an obese adult or child costs about double that of a non-obese adult or child, says Martin J. Sepulveda, I.B.M.'s vice president for integrated health services.

I.B.M. has been promoting wellness for employees since the 1980s. But in 2008, it began offering a new program, the Children's Health Rebate, to encourage employees to increase their at-home family dinners, their servings of fruits and vegetables, and their physical activities, as well as to reduce their children's television and computer time.

In addition to helping prevent obesity in children, Mr. Sepulveda says, the program is aimed at employees who might neglect to exercise on their own but would willingly participate as part of a family project. Each family that completes the program receives $150.

All of these ideas sound promising. But the architecture of obesity is so entrenched that policy makers, companies, communities, families and individuals will need to undertake a variety of efforts to displace and replace it, says Alan Lyles, a professor at the School of Health and Human Services at the University of Baltimore.

And American efforts can seem piecemeal compared with those in Britain, where the government has undertaken a multipronged national attack, requiring changes in schools, health services and the food industry.

Britain now places restrictions on advertising fatty, sugary and salty foods during children's shows, for example. And by 2011, cooking classes will be mandatory for all 11- to 14-year-old students in the nation. The hope is to teach a generation of children who grew up on prepared foods how to cook healthy meals, and perhaps to make eating at home - instead of at the local fried fish-and-chips shop - the default option.


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