Monday, September 27, 2010


******Breaking News******

Call for emergency protests: Stop FBI Raids and Harassment!

Media release/Press conference

Local contact: Jeff Mackler 510-268-9429; Bill Balderston 510-436-5138; Blanca Miessé 510-725-8875

U.S. Antiwar Movement Under Government Attack!

Defend victims of nationwide FBI/government raids, seizures and subpoenas!

Demonstrate: Tuesday, September 28, 5:00 pm

Federal Bldg., 7th St. and Mission, San Francisco

On the morning of Sept. 24, FBI agents armed with Grand Jury subpoenas raided the homes of several antiwar and social justice activists in Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois. As we write reports are coming in that FBI agents have been contacting other activists in Wisconsin, North Carolina and California.

Among those subpoenaed and/or whose organizations are under attack are supporters of the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC). They attended our founding July 23-25, 2010, Albany, New York founding national conference of 800 activists from 35 states. The UNAC conference approved a 28-point Action Plan culminating in bi-coastal San Francisco/New York mass demonstrations demanding that the U.S. government immediately withdraw of all U.S. troops, mercenaries and war contractors from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other conference -approved demands were "End U.S. aid to Israel - military, economic and diplomatic. End U.S. support to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza!"

Using the pretext of investigating "terrorism," and with "possibly providing material aid to terrorists," the FBI agents - 20 in the Twin Cities and 12 in Chicago - were armed with search and seizure warrants signed by U.S. Magistrate Judges and/or representatives of the U.S. Attorney's office. They seized computers, cell phones, political leaflets and other printed materials. In Minnesota agents worked for 12 hours confiscating material including 30 boxes of literature, photographs of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and pictures drawn by their children.

The individuals targeted included leaders of organizations like the Minneapolis Antiwar Committee, whose office was raided, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

The activists were ordered to appear before Grand Juries in various cities investigating criminal activity and possible association with "terrorist" organizations. The earliest subpoena dates were October 5 and 7.

The FBI also has also served or harassed activists in North Carolina and Wisconsin as part of the same "investigation."

The government's subpoenas "commanded" the recipients to bring with them to the Grand Jury proceedings:

"(1) all pictures and videos relating to any trip to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel; (2) all items relating to any trip to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel; (3) all correspondence, including but not limited to emails and letters, with anyone residing in Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel; (4) all records of any payment provided directly or indirectly to Hatem Abudayyeh, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ("PFLP") or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ("FARC"); (5) all records of any telephonic or electronic communications with anyone in Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian Territories, or Israel; and (6) any item related to any support provided to any designated terrorist organization, including the PFLP or the FARC."

All those subpoenaed have refused to discuss their political work and views with FBI agents, as is their right. They have publicly denounced these raids as an attempt by the government to intimidate and repress opposition to U.S. wars of intervention and occupation.

The United National Antiwar Committee denounces the government's raids, seizures and subpoena as an attack on the entire antiwar movement and all organizations seeking social justice and an end to U.S. wars of intervention around the world. We stand in full solidarity with all those who now face government persecution and possible imprisonment.

The United National Antiwar Committee demands:

• Stop the repression against anti-war and international solidarity activists.

• Immediately return all confiscated materials: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, etc.

• End the Grand Jury proceedings and FBI raids against all anti-war activists.

We call on all antiwar and social justice organization across the country to organize protest demonstrations on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, September 27, 28 or 29 at Federal Buildings or FBI offices.


"Don't F*** With Our Activists" - Mobilizing Against FBI Raid


Chicago Press Conference
Protests FBI Raids
To view on YouTube, click here:




Demonstrations have already been called in the following cities:

Minneapolis MN, Mon: 4:30, FBI Office Monday, 111 Washington Ave. S.

Chicago, IL, Monday: 4:30 FBI Building, 2111 W. Roosevelt Rd.

NYC, Tues. 4:30 to 6pm Federal Building, 26 Federal Plaza,

Newark, NJ Tues 5 to 6pm Federal Building Broad Street

Washington DC, Tues 4:30 - 5:30 FBI Building 935 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

Detroit MI Tuesday 4:30 McNamara Federal Building

Buffalo, NY 4:30 at FBI Building - Corner of So. Elmwood Ave. & Niagara St.

Durham NC on Monday, 12 noon Federal Building, 323 E Chapel Hill St

Raleigh NC. Tuesday 9 am. Federal Building, 310 New Bern Av

Asheville, NC Tuesday

Atlanta, GA, Tues Noon, FBI Building

Gainesville, FL on Monday, 4:30 PM at FBI Building

Salt Lake City, Utah, 9 AM on Monday at Federal Building

Albany, NY, 5 - 6 PM, Wednesday at the Federal Buildkng

Add your voice to denounce the attacks on antiwar and social justice activists. Call the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-353-1555 or write an email to:

Send copies of all communications to UNAC at the above email address. Affiliate your organization to UNAC now! Join our National Coordinating Committee of antiwar and social justice organizations across the county to immediately end all U.S. wars, interventions. Trillions for jobs, education and human needs not war!

Joe Lombardo and Marilyn Levin,

Co-coordinators, United National Antiwar Committee


More Thoughts on the Division within the Antiwar Movement in the Bay Area
By Bonnie Weinstein and Carole Seligman

We agree with the demands adopted by the UNAC conference but disagree with organizing separately as is now the case.

A way we can still work together would be to agree to accept all the demands and allow organizing under all of them. It is also clear to us that UNAC (United National Antiwar Committee) does not have the base on the West Coast as it seems to have East of the Mississippi. We don't think we could have organized such a conference out here. Not now. Not yet. It is also clear--as it has been for many years--that ANSWER is firmly established as the leadership of the antiwar movement here in San Francisco, at least, and probably in LA and DC. So, we can't build a separate and competing coalition nor do we want to if we want the movement to keep strong and united and to grow.

Unfortunately, it is clear that local labor organizations here in the Bay Area are focusing on getting out the vote for the Democratic Party this November and have rejected any other type of action here on the West Coast on October 2. This rejection of taking action has nothing what-so-ever to do with the demands voted upon by the 800 people at the UNAC conference and has everything to do with keeping the labor movement tied to the Democratic Party.

We have to be realistic when trying to work with organized labors' "leaders." They are failing miserably to protect jobs and working conditions in San Francisco, in the Bay Area and throughout California and, for that matter, across the country. They are selling their own workers down the river lock, stock and barrel! But we do need to organize working people who, we believe, are far to the left of organized labors' "misleaders." That's why a united antiwar movement with strong demands of its own that ties the war spending and banker bailouts to the miseries working people are facing today--here and in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine--is imperative now!

Our belief is that no matter what demands were voted on at the UNAC conference, it makes no difference to these "labor misleaders." They are fully entrenched in the Democratic Party and are doing what they always do in spite of the continual wars and the drastic assault on the living conditions of workers across the country. They have proven themselves incapable of doing anything else in recent history except for giving workers false hope that voting Democratic will make a difference--i.e., "bringing the change we want"--by voting for Democrats.

They failed to push for the Employee Free Choice Act or single-payer healthcare; they make no mention of the fantastic costs of the wars and how they are impacting the living standards of working people; and again, offered only a vote for Democrats as the answer.

It is just not realistic to think that the demands adopted by UNAC are what's keeping organized labor from the antiwar movement. It's the labor misleaders themselves that are keeping organized labor from the antiwar movement no matter what the demands.

It is very strange to us that one minute the San Francisco Labor Council will pass an antiwar resolution and the next minute hold an honorary banquet for the mass murderer and war monger, Nancy Pelosi. Or to continue their ongoing support to Obama who has escalated the wars and the attacks on the living standards of working people, undocumented workers, students, youth--especially Black youth--etc. Has massively bailed out the wealthy with trillions of our tax dollars. That in the middle of a horrific oil spill sent thousands of National Guard troops--not to clean up the spill--but to patrol the borders between Mexico and the U.S. while deploying other National Guard troops to help hide the effects of the BP spill in the Gulf by chasing away scientists who are trying to gather data about the spill and the dispersants being poured into the oceans we all depend upon.

We haven't the slightest hope that electing Democrats will will improve any of these conditions. Only mass action in the streets demanding the things we want--an end to the wars NOW; an end to the bailout of the wealthy NOW; and an end to the billions spent on defending Israeli Apartheid and the massacre of the Palestinian people--all to protect U.S. interests in Middle East oil and other natural resources throughout the world. This is what the Democratic and Republican parties are all about and what their military is all about.

Working people are doomed if they continue to support the lesser of two evils--the Democratic party. It only leads to more evil as is evident if one's eyes are open.

We can't convince working people to see the truth if we don't tell the truth. And supporting the Democratic Party as a way to resolve the problems of working people, or to end these murderous wars, is NOT the truth!

We can't raise the consciousness of working people if we water down our demands to agree with the labor fakers and the Democratic Party.

In all sincerity,

Bonnie Weinstein
Carole Seligman

Report on September 19th Antiwar Meetings and an Open Letter to the Antiwar Movement

Dear peace activist:

We went to both antiwar meetings Sunday, September 19th -- ANSWER and Bay Area UNAC (United National Antiwar Committee). Both were approximately equal in size, and not very large. Both were attended by several groups who are active in the antiwar movement. Together we would have had a good size meeting of about 80. Actually, together we would have had a much more substantial meeting, because several people stayed away when they learned that there were two meetings at the same time, 1/2 a block away from each other.

People want the antiwar forces to work together to struggle to end these wars. People are disgusted at the great unity shown by the war parties, the Republicans and Democrats--in carrying out these wars. We must demand that the antiwar organizers--ourselves--work together in greater unity than the war parties do. Where we disagree with demands or slogans, let's find a way to include all.

The UNAC meeting scheduled a follow up meeting for Sunday, October 17th. Let's make this meeting one that is co-sponsored with ANSWER and invite all to participate in planning the next series of educational events and actions. Let's create the broadest possible structure for involving the whole movement and inviting people who have not participated before. Let's find a way to organize together! The situation demands it.

Carole Seligman
Bonnie Weinstein


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Urgent Execution Alert!
Death Penalty Focus
Working for alternatives to the death penalty

***THIS JUST IN*****

Stay Of Execution Denied For San Quentin Inmate
by Bay City News
September 27, 2010 11:43 AM

A Marin County Superior Court judge today refused to block Wednesday's scheduled execution of a convicted murderer at San Quentin State Prison.

Judge Verna Adams said lawyers for Albert Greenwood Brown had not proved that he would suffer extreme pain if executed according to the state's lethal injection protocol.

Brown, 56, is slated to put to death at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for the 1980 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl in Riverside. If the execution takes place, it would be the first in California since January 2006.

In the case before Adams, Brown contended that the state's adoption of a recently revised lethal injection protocol violated a California law on procedures for new regulations.

Sara Eisenberg, a lawyer for another condemned inmate, Mitchell Sims, said Brown and Sims will appeal immediately to the state Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

The Marin County case is one of two in which Brown is seeking a stay of the execution.

The other case is a federal court challenge based on the claim that the state's lethal injection procedure is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment because it has the potential to cause extreme pain.

A federal trial judge in San Jose refused to stay the execution in that case, but Brown's lawyers have appealed that ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News


Please read the urgent execution alert below!

Everyone should be prepared to protest at San Quentin on Tuesday. If any CEDP or Kevin Cooper Defense Committee folks can help with outreach between now and Tuesday please call or e-mail me.

More updates and information to follow.


Working for alternatives to the death penalty

Urgent Execution Alert!

Despite the fact that there are still many unresolved legal issues related to the administration of lethal injection in California, the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) is pushing forward with plans to execute Albert Brown on September 29th at 12:01am. Death Penalty Focus takes the position that CDCR's actions are hasty and harmful to victims' families who are being put through a legal roller coaster ride.

As many of the legal issues surrounding this execution may not be resolved until the last minute, we have decided to move forward with plans to oppose this execution because the death penalty in California is dysfunctional, costly, plagued with inaccuracies, applied in a racially biased manner, and inconsistent with the evolving standards of decency.

We need your help!

Here's what you can do:

1. Please attend one of the following four press conferences and rallies on Tuesday, September 28th to show your opposition to the death penalty. (Because executions occur just after midnight, events occur on the day before the scheduled execution). Events are listed below.

2. Please encourage your friends and family to sign up for DPF's Urgent Action Alerts: SIGN UP HERE!

3. Please be prepared to take action in the form of letters to the editor and petitions within the next day or two. We will circulate actions for CA residents and national and international supporters.

Please join us in opposing all executions in California.

Thank you.

Join us on Tuesday, September 28th to Oppose the Dysfunctional Death Penalty in California!

San Quentin State Prison (Marin County)
You can park on Francisco Blvd. E. but expect to walk 1-1.5 Miles to get to the East Gate of San Quentin.
Contact: Lance Lindsey, or office 415-243-0143.

Los Angeles
Followed by a march to a nearby church.
11000 Wilshire Boulevard (Corner of Veteran)
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Contact: James Clark, cell 626-344-0632,

State Capitol Building
11th & L Streets
Sacramento, CA
Contact: Ellen Eggers, cell 916-215-0510,

San Diego
Hall of Justice
330 West Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
Contact: Denise Serrano, 619-398-4486,

Death Penalty Focus
870 Market St. Ste. 859 San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel. 415.243.0143 - Fax 415.243.0994 -


Protest U.S./NATO War in Afghanistan
on 9th Anniversary of Invasion

End colonial occupation-Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and everywhere
Fund Jobs, Schools, Healthcare and Housing-Not the Pentagon
Fight Islamophobia, anti-immigrant attacks and all forms of racism

Wednesday, October 6, 5pm
Powell & Markets Sts., SF

As the U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan enters its tenth year, casualties on both sides are at an all-time high. Spending on the war in Afghanistan alone is over $2.5 billion per week-that's $2,500,000,000 every week-at a time when tens of millions of people have lost their jobs, housing, healthcare and pensions here, and most Afghani people live in extreme poverty. Regardless of public relations proclamations from the White House, the Iraq occupation is far from over, and the U.S.-backed Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people is intensifying.

The real military budget this year is over $1,000,000,000,000-or more than $32,000 per second. The biggest banks, military industries and other corporations are reaping vast profits from the suffering of working people in the war zones and here. At the same time as they sit atop mountains of cash, corporations like the Blackstone Group (owners of the Hilton Hotel) are attacking the health benefits of thousands of union hotel workers in San Francisco who are struggling to win a new contract. Politicians and the right-wing corporate media constantly seek to divide working people by fomenting Islamophobia, anti-Arab and anti-immigrant racism.

Join us on Oct. 6 to say NO to war, racism and all bigotry, and YES to meeting the needs of the people!

Call 415-821-6545 for more info or to get involved.

Initiated by A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition-Act Now to Stop War & End Racism. Endorsed by: Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Justice for Filipino American Veterans, Unitarian Universalists for Peace-S.F., National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Bay Area United Against War, United National Antiwar Committee, Party for Socialism and Liberation, World Can't Wait, Free Palestine Alliance, Code Pink Women for Peace, Alliance for a Just & Lasting Peace in the Philippines, March Forward!, Socialist Viewpoint, FMLN-Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (list in formation-call or reply to add your organization, 415-821-6545)

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
2489 Mission St. Rm. 24
San Francisco: 415-821-6545

Make a tax-deductible donation to A.N.S.W.E.R. by credit card over a secure server,
learn how to donate by check.


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.

* Group home page:


The Most Dangerous Man in America:
Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
*Academy Award nominee available on DVD for community organizations
*Broadcast premiere on PBS Tuesday, October 5
Dear Michael ,

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a high-level Pentagon official and Vietnam War strategist, concluded that the war was based on decades of lies and leaked 7,000 pages of top secret documents to The New York Times, making headlines around the world.

The story of how one man's profound change of heart created a landmark struggle involving America's newspapers, president and Supreme Court, and whose events led directly to Watergate, Nixon's resignation and the end of the Vietnam War is depicted in a new Academy-Award-nominated documentary film and political thriller, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.

The saga of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers resonates powerfully today. Organizations and activists that address issues of freedom of speech, war and peace, whistle blowing, the First Amendment, civil liberties, government secrecy, and much, much more are able to connect to, and be inspired by, the events surrounding Ellsberg and the publication of the Pentagon Papers.
"[The film] dramatizes a kind of secular spiritual journey-from warrior to anti-warrior, from analyst to activist, from patriot to "traitor." Ellsberg describes the stages of this transformation with his usual precision and ardor." -- David Denby, The New Yorker

I want to alert you to one upcoming event and one important opportunity for you and you organization.

1. On Tuesday, October 5, following a 5-month run in more than 140 theaters nationwide, The Most Dangerous Man in America has its broadcast premiere on the POV series on PBS, at 9pm (check local listings). A special videotaped panel discussion with Daniel Ellsberg, former Times editor Max Frankel, and current editors of The New York Times, will immediately follow the film as part of the broadcast.

2. A new educational DVD of The Most Dangerous Man in America has just been produced, for use in colleges, high schools and community organizations. Among its "extras" will be a Spanish-subtitled version; 30 minutes of "secret" Nixon White House audiotapes (conversations between the President and (among others) Henry Kissinger, John Ehrlichman, J. Edgar Hoover and John Dean (from his notorious "cancer on the presidency" discussion with Nixon), excerpts from Ellsberg's memoir Secrets, biographies of the filmmakers, and more.

Community organizations are authorized to use this "educational use only" dvd for their own non-admission screenings, to raise donations for their organizations, to use as an organizing tool, for outreach, inspiration, information and instruction.

The Most Dangerous Man in America is co-directed by award-winning documentarians Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith.
"Detailed, clearly told, persuasive" - Mike Hale, The New York Times

I would like you to consider use of The Most Dangerous Man in America for your organization. You can learn more about the film and see a trailer at, where a dvd of the film can be ordered for your use. CLICK HERE TO ORDER DVD. To obtain a 10% discount, use the discount code UCQ4YJ. Please contact me directly with any questions.

Sincerely yours,

Rick Goldsmith, co-producer/co-director,


Free all Palestinian Authority Political Prisoners! Rally for Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails Oct. 5-15!

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat + +

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat demands the release of all Palestinian Authority political prisoners and an end to the policy of security cooperation

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat demands that the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and its security services to end its policy of political arrests and persecution, free all political prisoners from its jails, and respect the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian Authority continues to adhere to the policy of security cooperation with the occupier, and still continues its violations of human rights, further violating the rights of our people already suffering under Zionist occupation, facing systematic starvation, oppression, impoverishment and siege.

Ahmad Sa'adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and his comrades were victims of the policy of security coordination between the Authority and the Zionist occupier. Therefore, we must naturally reject and oppose the policies of the government of Salam Fayyad and the repressive practices of the security services which only further divide Palestinians, disintegrate the Palestinian national movement, and harm the image of the Palestinian cause and our national struggle.

The policy of political arrests is clearly deeply linked to the policy of security cooperation with the occupier. These attacks on the freedom of the Palestinian people serve the interests only of the occupation and the settlers. Instead of protecting the Palestinian people's resistance and its cadres and supporters in the West Bank, protecting the Palestinian people's civil institutions and charities, the Palestinian Authority chooses to breach all ties with the Palestinian national movement, violate the law, engage in arbitrary arrests and human rights violations, and harm the security of Palestinian citizens, violating their rights and dignity.

It is clear that the people of the world, as well as the people of Palestine, must stand to defend and protect the rights of Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people. We call for the widest public participation in Palestine and around the world for the freedom of prisoners in Israeli prisons and to confront the policy of isolation. Join with us on October 5-15 on the International Days of Action for Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners, demanding an end to isolation and the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners!

Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat
September 20, 2010



The Berkeley Says No to Torture Week Oct 10-16 has a new website, go to:

and then from there, go to the Facebook page. Let this be your "go-to" site for all things regarding the Berkeley Says "No To Torture" Week. The Events Calendar is growing quickly (many not yet posted pending venue confirmation, etc.) We aim to have the best possible local week in Berkeley, AND to encourage and inspire even more resolutions like this all around the country -- any community could pull together around taking this stand, as people are doing here -- so could you please widely forward this new site and Facebook to all your friends and contacts?

TUESDAY Sept. 21, 7 PM: Be There!

Berkeley City Council will vote this week to declare "Berkeley Says No To Torture" Week an official civic week.

This will take our message to a whole new level, and Council needs to know they have wide public support in Berkeley -- and beyond -- to vote YES. Come to the meeting -- look for our contingent -- to show your support. (If you'd like to speak during Public Comment in support of the Resolution, please let us know here ahead of time -- we need a "wide representation" show of support especially speakers.)

And please take a few minutes to SEND City Council members and Mayor Tom Bates your personal or organizational support for the Resolution. (Please copy us here if you send emails). Here is the link:

Please forward this info widely, we hope to see a strong turnout at the Council meeting: Tuesday Sept. 21 7 PM, and please arrive early if you can, at Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704. (415) 864-5153
World Can't Wait SF
2940-16th St., Rm. 200-6
San Francisco CA 94103


Justice for Oscar Grant Rally
Saturday, October 23, 12:00 Noon
Frank Ogawa Plaza
(Oakland City Hall near 14th and Broadway)

Join family and friends of Oscar Grant, Labor and Community to demand:

--Maximum sentence for Johannes Mehserle!
--Stop police brutality! Jail racist killer cops!
--Expand jobs and education, not war and repression!

Stand up and make your voice heard! Johannes Mehserle was only arrested after people took to the streets to express their outrage. Without continuous labor and community action, Mehserle might have been acquitted. Together we can make sure that the killer cop gets the maximum sentence so other cops don't think they can get away with murder.

Sponsored by:

ILWU Local 10

Endorsed by other labor and community organizations.

For more information please contact:
Farless Dailey, Secretary Treasurer, 415-776-8100


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



Resolution in Support of October 23 ILWU Rally for Justice for Oscar Grant

Whereas, Oscar Grant's killer, BART police officer Johannes Mehserle received a verdict of involuntary manslaughter on July 8, 2010 and will be sentenced on November 5; 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, wherever employers try to break a strike, police are there to protect the scabs and attack workers, as we know from the 1934 West Coast Maritime Strike, to the Charleston Five longshore struggle in 2000; and

Whereas, black and brown racial minorities, and especially immigrant workers today, struggling for equal rights have borne the brunt of police violence; and

Whereas , Oscar Grant's killing is another manifestation of the same unjust system where the message for the poor, the working class, and people of color is submission or death; and

Whereas, ILWU Local 10 has initiated the call for a mass labor and community protest rally on Saturday October 23, 2010 in Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza calling for justice for Oscar Grant in the sentencing of Johannes Mehserle,

Therefore be it Resolved, that (name of organization) endorses this rally along with other labor unions, community groups, civil rights organizations, civil liberties organizations and will help to mobilize for this rally for justice for Oscar Grant;

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All.




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




"Don't F*** With Our Activists" - Mobilizing Against FBI Raid


Stephen Colbert's statement before Congress


PcolaGregg Answers With Truth And Reality!


s Of Dead Fish Wash Up On New Jersey Beaches

Take The Criminal Record Question Off Job Applications in Detroit


What's Going On In The Gulf?
"But remember, one of the world's top oil industry accident experts says that the well may never be killed.
I hope and pray that the relief well is successful. But if there were insurmountable problems in capping the well, do you think we would hear about it before the November elections?"
[There are several video's at this]
Thursday, September 16, 2010


Prof. says HOMELAND SECURITY confiscated samples and NOTES with inside info on dispersant

Science in the Gulf, NPR Science Friday, August 20, 2010:

Darren in College Station, Texas: I'm an adjunct professor here at [Texas] A&M

We were also in the Gulf and got thrown out.

We were testing a theory that the chemical conposition ofthe dispersant they wee using was causing the dispersant to sink. And we'd been there for approximately three days and federal agents told us to get out.

Federal agents said it was in the interest of national security.

They were Homeland Security officers.

They took all the samples we had and they also took some notes that we had, the theory we were operating upon was information that had been given to us by someone who worked in the plant that made that dispersant, and they took everything.

Cary Nelson, president, American Association of University Professors, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois: This is kind of an insane world we've entered into kind of the barring of reputable scientists from a public site who could contribute considerably to the knowledge we have.

Talk of the Nation: Dr D'Elia, have you head of other cases like that?

Dr. Christopher D'Elia, professor and dean, School of The Coast and Environment, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La.: Yes I've heard of other cases.



(Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president: "The entrance fee to live here is a million-dollar condo." - The New York Times, July 4)

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,"

Said Emma Lazarus - but time passes,

And the poor go back to being wretched refuse

For which the condo captains have no use.

And so the needy are forced again to disperse,

To search for ill-lit tenements, or worse,

From which their outcast children may behold

The soaring towers built of glass and gold.

Leon Freilich


Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love


Good morning it was a pleasure speaking with you yesterday about the Diablo Valley film Festival. Our Festival is a benefit for the Contra Costa animal services department and the Martinez schools 20/20 program. Our event is September 11, 2010, this Saturday, and our 11AM feature is "Scarred Lands and Wounded Llives". You can find more information about the festival at our website I thought that this would be a showing that would be of interest to you and your organization. We also have a block at five o'clock which is called "Save our Seas" which is a series of shorts on environmental issues regarding the oceans. Tickets can be purchased online at our website and the proceeds go to the above organizations. Your help in getting the word out to your membership and other causes that you think may be interested that I do not have access to will help to change the minds of hopefully more than a few people. Your help and your participation is greatly appreciated. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Here is a link to a trailer for the movie:

Tony Blackburn, Executive Producer
Diablo Valley Film Festival
(925) 231-5365

Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives:
The Environmental Footprint of War


What prompts this film is recognition of our deep dependence on the natural world and the significant threat to that world posed by war and preparations for war.

The scale of environmental damage over the last half century is unprecedented. Falling water tables, shrinking forest cover, declining species diversity - all presage ecosystems in distress. These trends are now widely acknowledged as emanating from forces of humanity's own making: massive population increases, unsustainable demands on natural resources, species loss, ruinous environmental practices. Ironically however, war, that most destructive of human behaviors, is commonly bypassed.

In all its stages, from the production of weapons through combat to cleanup and restoration, war entails actions that pollute land, air, and water, destroy biodiversity, and drain natural resources. Yet the environmental damage occasioned by war and preparation for war is routinely underestimated, underreported, even ignored. The environment remains war's "silent casualty."

Activities that do such damage cry out for far-reaching public scrutiny. The very sustainability of our planet is at stake. We can no longer maintain silence about the environmental impact of war on the grounds that such scrutiny is "inconvenient" or "callous" at a time when human life is so endangered.

If we cannot eliminate war, we can at least require a fuller accounting of war's costs and consequences, and demand that destructive forces used in our name leave a lighter footprint on this highly vulnerable planet. It is to this change in values and actions that this documentary film is directed.


Alice T. Day was born in New York City and educated at the Brearley School in New York and at Smith College (BA, magna cum laude), Columbia (MA in sociology), and the Australian National University (PhD in sociology). Alice currently sits on the board of the Council for a Livable World; the Task Force on Environment and Natural Resources, Woman's National Democratic Club (Washington); and the Environmental Film Festival (Washington.)

Before moving to Washington, Alice was most recently Hofstee Fellow, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, The Hague, 1994, and Director, Successful Ageing, A.C.T., an Australian government project, Canberra, A.C.T., 1990-93.

Best known books of the more than 30 books, professional articles, book chapters, and reports that she has written are: Remarkable Survivors - Insights into Successful Aging among Women; We Can Manage - Expectations about Care and Varieties of Family Support among Persons 75 Years of Age and Over; and (with Lincoln H. Day) Too Many Americans.


Lincoln H. Day was born in Ames, Iowa and educated in the public schools of Denver, Colorado, and at Yale (BA, cum laude) and Columbia (MA and PhD in sociology). He currently sits on the board of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation; the Environmental Film Festival (Washington); and is a member of the Council for a Livable World (Washington).

Before moving to Washington, Lincoln was most recently Hofstee Fellow, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, The Hague, 1994, and Senior Fellow in Demography, Research School of Social Sciences, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 1973-1993.

In addition to some 80 book chapters and articles in professional journals, he is the author of two books, co-author of four others (two of which were written in collaboration with Alice T. Day), and editor and part author of two more. Apart from Too Many Americans (written with Alice T. Day), his best-known books are: The Future of Low-Birthrate Populations; and Analysing Population Trends - Differential Fertility in a Pluralistic Society.
Executive Producer of the Diablo Valley Film Festival
Student of the Grape
Soccer Player (Goal Keeper)
Wine Maker (In my own mind)
Facebook Ho (Friend Me!)
Motorcycle Rider (Kawasaki ZZR1200)


From The Gulf Stream To The Bloodstream - THE VIDEO BP DOESN'T WANT YOU TO SEE!


Plume? Stationary ROV covered by non-stop 'clouds' on seafloor (VIDEO)
September 4th, 2010 at 04:21 AM Print Post Email Post
Live feed from Development Driller 2 ROV 1, September 3, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. EDT:


Air Force sprays oil dispersant


Appeals Court Ruling Allows Government to Use GPS to Track People's Moves

A federal court in California has issued a ruling that's raising widespread alarm among advocates for civil liberties. Earlier this month, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said law enforcement agents can sneak onto a person's property, plant a GPS device on their vehicle, and track their every movements. The court's ruling means the spying is legal in California and eight other Western states.




New video! Fishermen find dispersants and oil on Mississippi shrimp and oyster grounds


The Video the US Military doesn't want you to see


George Orwell's "1984_



Lyrics: Smiling Faces Sometimes
Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend
Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth uh
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof

The truth is in the eyes
Cause the eyes don't lie, amen
Remember a smile is just
A frown turned upside down
My friend let me tell you
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth, uh
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
Beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
I'm telling you beware
Beware of the pat on the back
It just might hold you back
Jealousy (jealousy)
Misery (misery)

I tell you, you can't see behind smiling faces
Smiling faces sometimes they don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof

Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
(Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes)
(Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes)
I'm telling you beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
Listen to me now, beware
Beware of that pat on the back
It just might hold you back
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof

Your enemy won't do you no harm
Cause you'll know where he's coming from
Don't let the handshake and the smile fool ya
Take my advice I'm only try' to school ya


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


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


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




Deafening Silence, Chuck Africa (MOVE 9)

Peace People,
This poem is from Chuck Africa, one of the MOVE 9, who is currently serving 30-100 years on trump up charges of killing a police officer. After 32 years in prison, the MOVE 9 are repeatly denied parole, after serving their minimum sentence. Chuck wanted me to share this with the people, so that we can see how our silence in demanding the MOVE 9's freedom is inherently an invitation to their death behind prison walls.

Deafening Silence

Don't ya'll hear cries of anguish?

In the climate of pain come joining voices?

But voices become unheard and strained by inactions

Of dead brains

How long will thou Philly soul remain in the pit of agonizing apathy?

Indifference seems to greet you like the morning mirror

Look closely in the mirror and realize it's a period of mourning....

My Sistas, mothers, daughters, wives and warriors

Languish in prisons obscurity like a distant star in the galaxies as does their brothers

We need to be free....

How loud can you stay silence?

Have the courage to stand up and have a say,

Choose resistance and let go of your fears.

The history of injustice to MOVE; we all know so well

But your deafening silence could be my DEATH KNELL.

Chuck Africa

Please share, inform people and get involve in demanding the MOVE 9's freedom!


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!


Kevin Keith Update: Good News! Death sentence commuted!

Ohio may execute an innocent man unless you take action.

Ohio's Governor Spares Life of a Death Row Inmate Kevin Keith


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!


"Judge William T. Moore, Jr. ruled that while executing an innocent person would violate the United States Constitution, Davis didn't meet the extraordinarily high legal bar to prove his innocence."
Amnesty International Press Release
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Contact: Wende Gozan Brown at 212-633-4247,

(Washington, D.C.) - Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today expressed deep concern that a federal district court decision puts Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis back on track for execution, despite doubts about his guilt that were raised during a June evidentiary hearing. Judge William T. Moore, Jr. ruled that while executing an innocent person would violate the United States Constitution, Davis didn't meet the extraordinarily high legal bar to prove his innocence.

"Nobody walking out of that hearing could view this as an open-and-shut case," said Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA. "The testimony that came to light demonstrates that doubt still exists, but the legal bar for proving innocence was set so high it was virtually insurmountable. It would be utterly unconscionable to proceed with this execution, plain and simple."

Amnesty International representatives, including Cox, attended the hearing in Savannah, Ga. The organization noted that evidence continues to cast doubt over the case:

· Four witnesses admitted in court that they lied at trial when they implicated Troy Davis and that they did not know who shot Officer Mark MacPhail.

· Four witnesses implicated another man as the one who killed the officer - including a man who says he saw the shooting and could clearly identify the alternative suspect, who is a family member.

· Three original state witnesses described police coercion during questioning, including one man who was 16 years old at the time of the murder and was questioned by several police officers without his parents or other adults present.

"The Troy Davis case is emblematic of everything that is wrong with capital punishment," said Laura Moye, director of AIUSA's Death Penalty Abolition Campaign. "In a system rife with error, mistakes can be made. There are no do-overs when it comes to death. Lawmakers across the country should scrutinize this case carefully, not only because of its unprecedented nature, but because it clearly indicates the need to abolish the death penalty in the United States."

Since the launch of its February 2007 report, Where Is the Justice for Me? The Case of Troy Davis, Facing Execution in Georgia, Amnesty International has campaigned intensively for a new evidentiary hearing or trial and clemency for Davis, collecting hundreds of thousands of clemency petition signatures and letters from across the United States and around the world. To date, internationally known figures such as Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter have all joined the call for clemency, as well as lawmakers from within and outside of Georgia.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

# # #

For more information visit

Wende Gozan Brown
Media Relations Director
Amnesty International USA
212/633-4247 (o)
347/526-5520 (c)


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) How the CIA ran a secret army of 3,000 assassins
By Julius Cavendish in Kabul
Thursday, 23 September 2010

2) The Whole Truthiness and Nothing But
Video: Stephen Colbert's statement before Congress
September 24, 2010, 1:19 pm

3) Woman, 41, Is Executed in Virginia
September 23, 2010

4) Some Obama Allies Fear School Lunch Bill Could Rob Food Stamp Program
"A bill that the House is expected to consider within days would come up with some of the money by cutting future food stamp benefits....Nationwide, more than 41 million people receive food stamps, nearly half of them children. The number of recipients has increased 51 percent since the recession began in December 2007. The average monthly benefit is $133 a person, about $4.40 a day." [Starving Mom and Pop Peter to feed baby]
September 23, 2010

5) *Breaking News* Three houses in Minneapolis raided, other houses in
Michigan, NC, Chicago targeted.
Submitted by smiley on Fri, 09/24/2010 - 09:20

6) FBI raids homes of several Twin Cities war protesters
By RANDY FURST, Star Tribune
September 24, 2010

7) What the Pot Legalization Campaign Really Threatens
by David Sirota
Published on Friday, September 24, 2010 by Oregon Live

8) We Haven't Hit Bottom Yet
September 24, 2010

9) Thousands Face Job Loss When Part of Stimulus Act Expires
September 25, 2010

10) Scores of Taliban Killed in 2 Airstrikes
September 25, 2010

11) F.B.I. Searches Antiwar Activists' Homes
September 24, 2010

12) U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) denounces FBI attacks on Palestinian, solidarity and antiwar activists
By uspcn
September 25, 2010

13) World in Revolt: The Global Backlash Against Budget Cuts
by: Anthony DiMaggio, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
September 26, 2010

14) Stand with Anti-War Activists Targeted by the FBI!
ANSWER condemns FBI intimidation tactics
hands off antiwar activists
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948
Boston: 857-334-5084
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545

16) Deflation, Inflation And The U.S. Fed
September 26, 2010

17) Walking away with less
By Dina ElBoghdady and Dan Keating
Sunday, September 26, 2010; 4:03 AM

18) Structure of Excuses
September 26, 2010

19) Jewish Activists Set Sail From Cyprus for Gaza, Aiming to Defy Israeli Blockade
September 26, 2010

20) Panel Criticizes BP's Spill Inquiry
September 26, 2010

21) Inmate Asks Court to Halt His Execution
September 26, 2010

22) U.S. Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet
September 27, 2010

23) Number of Tenants Owing Back Rent Rises Sharply at City Housing Authority
September 26, 2010

24) Most Americans Don't Think Recession Is Over
September 27, 2010, 12:47 pm

25) Weighing the Lives of Babies in Haiti
September 27, 2010

26) Liberal Groups Planning to Rally on National Mall
September 26, 2010


1) How the CIA ran a secret army of 3,000 assassins
By Julius Cavendish in Kabul
Thursday, 23 September 2010

The US Central Intelligence Agency is running and paying for a secret 3,000-strong army of Afghan paramilitaries whose main aim is assassinating Taliban and al-Qa'ida operatives not just in Afghanistan but across the border in neighbouring Pakistan's tribal areas, according to Bob Woodward's explosive book.

Although the CIA has long been known to run clandestine militias in Afghanistan, including one from a base it rents from the Afghan president Hamid Karzai's half-brother in the southern province of Kandahar, the sheer number of militiamen directly under its control have never been publicly revealed.

Woodward's book, Obama's Wars, describes these forces as elite, well-trained units that conduct highly sensitive covert operations into Pakistan as part of a stepped-up campaign against al-Qa'ida and Afghan Taliban havens there. Two US newspapers published the claims after receiving copies of the manuscript.

The secret army is split into "Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams", and is thought to be responsible for the deaths of many Pakistani Taliban fighters who have crossed the border into Afghanistan to fight Nato and Afghan government forces there.

There are ever-increasing numbers of "kill-or-capture" missions undertaken by US Special Forces against Afghan Taliban and foreign fighters, who hope to drive rank-and-file Taliban towards the Afghan government's peace process by eliminating their leaders. The suspicion is that the secret army is working in close tandem with them.

Although no comment has been forthcoming, it is understood that the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, Gen David Petraeus, approves of the mission, which bears similarities to the covert assassination campaign against al-Qa'ida in Iraq, which was partially credited with stemming the tide of violence after the country imploded between 2004 and 2007.

The details of the clandestine army have surprised no one in Kabul, the Afghan capital, although the fact that the information is now public is unprecedented. There have been multiple reports of the CIA running its own militias in southern Afghanistan.

The operation also has powerful echoes of clandestine operations of the 1990s, when the CIA recruited and ran a militia inside the Afghan border with the sole purpose of killing Osama bin Laden. The order then that a specially recruited Afghan militia was "to capture him alive" - the result of protracted legal wrangles about when, how and if Osama bin Laden could be killed - doomed efforts to assassinate him before 9/11.


2) The Whole Truthiness and Nothing But
Video: Stephen Colbert's statement before Congress
September 24, 2010, 1:19 pm

Stephen Colbert testified in Congress on Friday about an immigration bill that he said - in all truthiness - he had not read, "like most members of Congress."

And when the comedian was challenged by one disgruntled lawmaker about his expertise, which was based on a single day spent hamming it up in a bean field for his show on Comedy Central, Mr. Colbert, keeping completely in character, said that was enough time to make him an expert on anything.

Mr. Colbert testified before the House immigration subcommittee about the day he recently spent picking vegetables on a farm in upstate New York. The gig was part of the "Take Our Jobs" campaign by the United Farm Workers of America to highlight the work done by migrant workers.

Arturo S. Rodriguez, the president of U.F.W., testified among others alongside Mr. Colbert.

Before Mr. Colbert bounded into the unusually packed committee room, the buzz in the crowd was whether Mr. Colbert would show up as the satiric Stephen Colbert, who hosts the "The Colbert Report." He did.

Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat and the panel's chairwoman who invited Mr. Colbert to testify, opened on a slightly wry note.

"We realize there is great interest in the plight of migrant farm workers in America," Ms. Lofgren said, before asking the press to pull back from the witness table where Mr. Colbert was mugging for and winking at the cameras.

On the whole, the mood of the hearing alternated between the serious and the absurd. (His spoken testimony departed significantly from his prepared text, which was straightforward and earnest.)

"I certainly hope that my star power can pump this hearing all the way up to C-Span 1," Mr. Colbert said, before explaining that the "obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables - and if you look at the recent obesity statistics you'll see that many Americans have already started."

But, he continued, his gastroenterologist had explained to him that fruits and vegetables are an important source of "roughage" and said that he "would like to submit a video of my colonoscopy into The Congressional Record."

"I don't want a tomato picked by a Mexican - I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan, and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian," Mr. Colbert said, before turning just perceptibly more serious and talking about how difficult work as a farm worker was.

"After working with these men and women, picking beans, packing corn, for hours on end, side by side, in the unforgiving sun, I have to say and I do mean this sincerely: Please don't make me do this again, it is really, really hard," he said.

"The point is, we have to do something because I am not going back out there. At this point, I break into a cold sweat at the sight of a salad bar," he said.

Five minutes later, much to the disappointment of the crowd, Mr. Colbert was done. "U.S.A. No. 1," he said to wrap up his testimony.

Mr. Colbert had only a supporting role in the question-and-answer segment of the hearing, although Representative Lamar Smith did go back and forth with the comedian. The Texas Republican asked the comedian for particulars - if Mr. Colbert knew if the roughly 100 workers he worked alongside with were illegal immigrants and whether he he knew their salary. Mr. Colbert could not provide this information.

"Does one day in the field make you an expert witness?" Mr. Smith pressed.

"I believe that one day of me studying anything makes me an expert," Mr. Colbert replied.

Not everyone was amused. Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, declared in his opening statement that it was an insult to the troops at war to suggest that Americans don't like hard jobs.

"Maybe we should be spending less time watching Comedy Central and more time considering all the real jobs that are out there," he said.

Near the end of the hearing, Mr. Colbert turned sincere, giving a serious answer when asked a serious question by Representative Judy Chu, Democrat of California, about why he had chosen to donate his time to the plight of migrant farm workers out of all possible causes.

Mr. Colbert paused, scratched the back of his head and sounding almost surprised at himself replied, "I like talking about people who don't have any power, and it seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but don't have any rights themselves," he said. "Migrant workers suffer and have no rights."

This is not the comedian's first foray into politics. In 2007, Mr. Colbert paid the $2,500 fee and filed papers with the South Carolina Democratic Party to run for president in his home state's primary. He was rejected just hours later by the state's executive council.

And in October, Mr. Colbert will return to Washington with fellow Comedy Central host, Jon Stewart, for rallies on the National Mall. Mr. Colbert will headline the "March to Keep Fear Alive" while Mr. Stewart will lead the "Rally to Restore Sanity," but both are intended as a spoof of conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally in late August.


3) Woman, 41, Is Executed in Virginia
September 23, 2010

A woman convicted of orchestrating a plot that led to the murders of her husband and stepson was executed in Virginia Thursday night, becoming the first woman executed in the state in almost a century.

The woman, Teresa Lewis, 41, died by lethal injection at a correctional facility in southeastern Virginia. With a crowd of death penalty opponents protesting outside, Ms. Lewis was pronounced dead at 9:13 p.m., the Associated Press reported, citing officials at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. She was the 12th woman executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

The case against Ms. Lewis, the first woman executed in the country since 2005, had drawn international attention. Many of her supporters questioned the fairness of her sentence - her co-conspirators, who fired the fatal shots, were spared capital punishment - and doubts were raised about her mental capacity. Psychologists involved in her case said she was borderline retarded. And her supporters argued that she had been manipulated by the two triggermen, who stood to gain hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings and life insurance payoffs.

Ms. Lewis received support from an unlikely cast. The novelist John Grisham published an op-ed piece calling for leniency, and the European Union sent a letter to Robert F. McDonnell, the governor of Virginia, asking him to commute Ms. Lewis's sentence to life because of her mental capacities. The case was also cited by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a speech to Islamic clerics during a visit to New York this week.

Shortly after her execution, a lawyer for Ms. Lewis, Jim Rocap, called her death "a tragic loss."

"Tonight, the machinery of death in Virginia extinguished the beautiful, childlike and loving human spirit of Teresa Lewis," he said. "Teresa asked that I send her thanks and love to all of those who have supported her in this fight for her life. In her words, 'It's just awesome.' It is our hope that Teresa's death will cause a re-examination of the badly broken system of justice that could allow something as wrong and unjust as this to happen."

For her part, Ms. Lewis did not deny her involvement in the murders, which took place in October 2002. Prosecutors said Ms. Lewis hatched the murders with two men she had been sleeping with. They said she supplied them with money to buy the murder weapons and showered them with gifts.

On the night before Halloween, they said, Ms. Lewis left the doors of her home unlocked and got into bed as her conspirators entered the home. According to the authorities, Ms. Lewis stood by as the two men opened fire: first on her stepson, Charles J. Lewis, 25, a reservist about to be deployed, and then on her husband, Julian C. Lewis Jr., 51.

Ms. Lewis eventually confessed to the crimes and led the police to the gunmen. The judge presiding over the case, Charles J. Strauss of Pittsylvania Circuit Court, sentenced the two gunmen to life in prison. But Ms. Lewis, he concluded in 2003, had been the ringleader, showing a "depravity of mind" that justified the death penalty.

Lawyers for Ms. Lewis later revealed new evidence that pointed to one of the gunmen as the plot's mastermind, including statements that he made in a letter and to a girlfriend. Ms. Lewis's lawyers pleaded unsuccessfully for clemency. Her final, last-ditch appeal for a stay was turned down by the Supreme Court late Tuesday.

According to SkyNews, Ms. Lewis requested a last meal of fried chicken, a slice of German chocolate cake or apple pie, and Dr. Pepper soda. According to reports from the prison, her final words were a message for her stepdaughter.

"I just want Cathy to know that I love her and I'm very sorry," she said.


4) Some Obama Allies Fear School Lunch Bill Could Rob Food Stamp Program
"A bill that the House is expected to consider within days would come up with some of the money by cutting future food stamp benefits....Nationwide, more than 41 million people receive food stamps, nearly half of them children. The number of recipients has increased 51 percent since the recession began in December 2007. The average monthly benefit is $133 a person, about $4.40 a day." [Starving Mom and Pop Peter to feed baby]
September 23, 2010

WASHINGTON - In her campaign to reduce childhood obesity and improve school nutrition, Michelle Obama has become entangled in a fight with White House allies, including liberal Democrats and advocates for the poor.

At issue is how to pay for additional spending on the school lunch program and other child nutrition projects eagerly sought by the White House. A bill that the House is expected to consider within days would come up with some of the money by cutting future food stamp benefits.

When the Senate passed the bill in early August, Mrs. Obama said she was thrilled. But anti-hunger groups were not. They deluged House members on Thursday with phone calls and e-mails expressing alarm.

"It is wrong to take money from food stamps to finance child nutrition programs," said Edward M. Cooney, executive director of the Congressional Hunger Center, an advocacy group. "You are taking money from low-income people in one program and spending it on low-income people - maybe the same people - in another program."

The Food Research and Action Center and Catholic Charities USA said they supported expanding child nutrition programs but opposed cutting money for food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

More than 100 House Democrats, including leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, have signed a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposing the use of food stamp money to pay for the expansion of child nutrition programs. Labor unions, including the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the National Education Association, and women's groups have sent similar letters.

Administration officials are pushing House Democrats to pass the Senate bill. The House Democratic whip, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, sent an e-mail to colleagues this week asking if they supported it.

House Democratic leaders said the House could consider the Senate bill under an expedited procedure that prohibits amendments and requires a two-thirds majority for passage.

Martha B. Coven, a senior staff member at the White House Domestic Policy Council, said the bill "would make a historic investment in school meal programs and go a long way toward achieving Mrs. Obama's goal of ending the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation."

"We support the bill as a whole," Ms. Coven said. "We strongly support House passage of the Senate bill." She declined to comment on criticism of the food stamp changes.

Lawmakers from both parties and child nutrition advocates have praised many provisions of the Senate bill. It gives the secretary of agriculture the authority to establish nutrition standards for foods sold in schools during the school day, including vending machine items. And it would require schools to serve more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

Also, for the first time in over three decades, it would increase federal reimbursement for school lunches beyond inflation - to allow for the cost of higher-quality meals. It would also allow more than 100,000 children on Medicaid to qualify for free school meals, without filing applications.

Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, said: "I want to pass a child nutrition bill. I am committed to the first lady's campaign. I want to be helpful. But I won't vote for a bill that robs Peter to pay Paul. The White House needs to work with us to find a better way to offset the cost."

Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California and chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, "While I want a strong and robust reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, we cannot do it on the backs of the unemployed, underemployed and chronically poor."

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City weighed in too. He wrote that he was concerned about the health and welfare of the more than one million students in the city's public schools. But he said that Congress should not try to help them at the expense of food stamp recipients.

By reducing future food stamp benefits, Mr. Bloomberg said, the Senate bill "would reduce the availability of nutritious food at children's homes in order to provide those very same children nutritious options at school."

Nationwide, more than 41 million people receive food stamps, nearly half of them children. The number of recipients has increased 51 percent since the recession began in December 2007. The average monthly benefit is $133 a person, about $4.40 a day.

The Senate bill would save $2.2 billion over 10 years by eliminating an increase in benefits provided by the 2009 economic stimulus law. Food price inflation has been lower than expected, so the increase could be ended early, in November 2013, proponents say.

Ellen S. Teller of the Food Research and Action Center said the cuts "would increase poverty and could increase obesity because shoppers would try to stretch their dollars by buying cheaper, calorie-dense food that has low nutritional value."


5) *Breaking News* Three houses in Minneapolis raided, other houses in
Michigan, NC, Chicago targeted.
Submitted by smiley on Fri, 09/24/2010 - 09:20

Urgent - Community Meeting tonight! 5:30 pm Walker Church 3104 16th
Ave S regarding the FBI Raids

On Friday morning, three houses in the Minneapolis area are believed
to have been raided by SWAT Teams. While we have few details right
now, the F.B.I. appears to be targeting people associated with the
Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Besides the raids in Minneapolis,
houses in Michigan, North Carolina and Chicago were also targeted.

Raids occurred at 1823 Riverside, above the Hard Times Cafe, and the
2900 block of Park Ave. One other raid is reported, as well. Outside
Hard Times Cafe, three unmarked black SUVs (one with an Illinois
license plate) sat in the parking area as of 10am, when a lawyer
observed 8 FBI agents sitting in the residence examining materials.
Otherwise the scene was calm.

Agents had broken in the door there at 7am Friday morning, breaking an
aquarium in the process.

The Federal search warrants appear to be focusing on seizing
electronic devices, international travel, and alleging
"co-conspirators." They do not authorize arrests.

The search warrant for 1823 Riverside, the residence of activist Mick
Kelly, sought information "regarding ability to pay for his own
travel" to Palestine and Columbia from 2000 to today. The warrant
hyped potential documents indicating any contacts/facilitation with
FARC, PFLP, and Hezbollah - what it called "FTOs" or "foreign
terrorist organizations". It mentioned seeking information on the
alleged "facilitation of other individuals in the US to travel to
Colombia, Palestine and any other foreign location in support of
foreign terrorist organizations including but not limited to FARC,
PFLP and Hezbollah".

The wording of the warrant appears to indicate the government seeks to
create divisions among social justice and international soldarity
activists by hyping alleged connections to what they call "foreign
terrorist organizations."

The warrant also sought information on "Kelly's travel to and from and
presence in MN, and other foreign countries [sic] to which Kelly has
traveled as part of his work in FRSO [Freedom Road Socialist
Organization", as well as materials related to his finances and the
finances of FRSO, and all computer and electronic devices.

The federal warrant was signed by Judge Susan Nelson at 3:30pm
yesterday, September 23.

FROM: Twin Cities Peace Campaign - Focus on Iraq MESSAGE: Dear
Peacemakers, I have just been informed by Sarah Martin that the FBI
are in the process of raiding the homes of Meredith Aby, Jess Sundin,
and Mick Kelly. They are apparently accusing them of connections with
a terrorist organization. The National Lawyer Guild attorneys are
suggesting that we go to their homes immediately. My phone number is 612-275-2720. Peace in the struggle, Marie Braun


6) FBI raids homes of several Twin Cities war protesters
By RANDY FURST, Star Tribune
September 24, 2010

The homes of several leaders of the Twin Cities antiwar movement were raided Friday by the FBI in what an agency spokesman described as an "investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism."

Search warrants were executed on six addresses in Minneapolis and at two in Chicago, said FBI spokesman Steve Warfield.

Among the homes raided were the apartments of Jessica Sundin, who was a principal leader of the mass march of 10,000 on the opening day of the Republican National Convention two years ago, and Mick Kelly, who was prominent in that protest and among those who announced plans to march on the Democratic National Convention in Minneapolis, if the city is selected to host it in 2012.

Ted Dooley, an attorney, said he had reviewed the search warrant issued in the raid on Kelly's apartment. "It's a probe into the political beliefs of American citizens and to any organization anywhere that opposes the American iimperial design," he said.

Steve Warfield, an FBI agent, declined to respond to Dooley's comment. He said in a statement Friday, "We are doing six federal search warrants in Minneapolis that are related to an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism. We are doing two search warrants in Chicago as well."

He said the raids were conducted at about 7 a.m., but he declined to say who or what addresses were being raided.

Mick Kelly, who lives on the 1800 block of Riverside Av. in Minneapolis, said in a telephone interview that the FBI kicked down his door, handed him a search warrant and began inspecting his files. He said eight FBI agents were involved in the raid.

Randy Furst • 612-673-7382


7) What the Pot Legalization Campaign Really Threatens
by David Sirota
Published on Friday, September 24, 2010 by Oregon Live

Here's a fact that even drug policy reform advocates can acknowledge: California's 2010 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana does, indeed, pose a real threat, as conservative culture warriors insist. But not to public health, as those conservatives claim.

According to most physicians, pot is less toxic -- and has more medicinal applications -- than a legal and more pervasive drug like alcohol. Whereas alcohol causes hundreds of annual overdose deaths, contributes to untold numbers of illnesses and is a major factor in violent crime, marijuana has never resulted in a fatal overdose and has not been systemically linked to major illness or violent crime.

So this ballot measure is no public health threat. If anything, it would give the millions of citizens who want to use inebriating substances a safer alternative to alcohol. Which, of course, gets to what this ballot initiative really endangers: alcohol industry profits.

That truth is underscored by news this week that the California Beer and Beverage Distributors is financing the campaign against the legalization initiative. This is the same group that bankrolled opposition to a 2008 ballot measure, which would have reduced penalties for marijuana possession.

By these actions, alcohol companies are admitting that more sensible drug policies could cut into their government-created monopoly on mind-altering substances. Thus, they are fighting back -- and not just defensively. Unsatisfied with protecting turf in California, the alcohol industry is going on offense, as evidenced by a recent article inadvertently highlighting America's inane double standards.

Apparently oblivious to the issues the California campaign is now raising, Businessweek just published an elated puff piece headlined "Keeping Pabst Blue Ribbon Cool." Touting the beer's loyal following, the magazine quoted one PBR executive effusively praising a rate of alcohol consumption that would pickle the average liver.

"A lot of blue-collar workers I've talked to say 'I've been drinking a six-pack of Pabst, every single day, seven days a week, for 25 years,'" he gushed, while another executive added "It's, like, habitual -- it's part of their life. It's their lifestyle."

Discussing possible plans to "develop a whole beer brand around troops" -- one that devotes some proceeds to military organizations -- the executives said their vision is "that when you see Red White & Blue (beer) at your barbecue, you know that money's supporting people who have died for our country."

Imagine marijuana substituted for alcohol in this story. The article would be presented as a scary expose about workers smoking a daily dime-bag and marijuana growers' linking pot with the Army. Undoubtedly, such an article would be on the front page of every newspaper as cause for outrage. Yet, because this was about alcohol -- remember, a substance more toxic than marijuana -- it was buried in a financial magazine and depicted as something to extol.

Couple that absurd hypocrisy with the vociferous opposition to California's initiative, and we see the meta-message.

We are asked to believe that people drinking a daily six-pack for a quarter-century is not a lamentable sign of a health crisis, but instead a "lifestyle" triumph worthy of flag-colored celebration -- and we are expected to think that legalizing a safer alternative to this "lifestyle" is dangerous. Likewise, as laws obstruct veterans from obtaining doctor-prescribed marijuana for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, we are asked to believe that shotgunning cans of lager is the real way to "support our troops."

These are the delusions that a liquor-drenched culture prevents us from reconsidering. In a society drunk off of alcohol propaganda -- a society of presidential "beer summits" and sports stadiums named after beer companies -- we've had trouble separating fact from fiction. Should California pass its ballot initiative, perhaps a more sober and productive drug policy might finally become a reality.
(c) 2010

David Sirota is a bestselling author whose newest book is "The Uprising." He is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network-both nonpartisan organizations. Sirota was once US Senator Bernie Sanders' spokesperson. His blog is at


8) We Haven't Hit Bottom Yet
September 24, 2010

Wallingford, Conn.

Marcus Vogt is 20 years old and homeless. Or, as he puts it, "I'm going through a couch-surfing phase."

Mr. Vogt is a Wal-Mart employee but he was injured in a car accident and was unable to work for a couple of months. With no income and no health insurance, he quickly found himself unable to pay the rent. Even meals were hard to come by.

(His situation is quite a statement about real life in the United States in the 21st century. On the same day that I spoke with Mr. Vogt, Forbes magazine came out with its list of the 400 most outrageously rich Americans.)

I met Mr. Vogt at Master's Manna, a food pantry and soup kitchen here that also offers a variety of other services to individuals and families that have fallen on hard times. He told me that his cellphone service has been cut off and he has more than $3,000 in medical bills outstanding. But he was cheerful and happy to report that he's back at work, although it will take at least a few more paychecks before he'll have enough money to rent a room.

Other folks who make their way to Master's Manna are not so upbeat. The Great Recession has long since ended, according to the data zealots in their windowless rooms. But it is still very real to the millions of men and women who wake up each morning to the grim reality of empty pockets and empty cupboards.

Wallingford is nobody's definition of a depressed community. It's a middle-class town on the Quinnipiac River. But the number of people seeking help at Master's Manna is rising, not falling. And when I asked Cheryl Bedore, who runs the program, if she was seeing more clients from the middle class, she said: "Oh, absolutely. We have people who were donors in the past coming to our doors now in search of help."

The political upheaval going on in the United States right now is being driven by the economic upheaval. It's sometimes hard to see this clearly amid the craziness and ugliness stirred up by the professional exploiters. But the essential issue is still the economy - the rising tide of poor people and the decline of the middle class. The true extent of the pain has not been widely chronicled.

"The minute you open the doors, it's like a wave of desperation that's hitting you," said Ms. Bedore. "People are depressed, despondent. They're on the edge, especially those who have never had to ask for help before."

In recent weeks, a few homeless people with cars have been showing up at Master's Manna. Ms. Bedore has gotten permission from the local police department for them to park behind her building and sleep in their cars overnight. "We've been recognized as a safe haven," she said.

In two of the cars, she said, were families with children.

It's not just joblessness that's driving people to the brink, although that's a big factor. It's underemployment, as well. "For many of our families," said Ms. Bedore, "the 40-hour workweek is over, a thing of the past. They may still have a job, but they're trying to survive on reduced hours - with no benefits. Some are on forced furloughs.

"Once you start losing the income and you've run through your savings, then your car is up for repossession, or you're looking at foreclosure or eviction. We're a food pantry, but hunger is only the tip of the iceberg. Life becomes a constant juggling act when the money starts running out. Are you going to pay for your medication? Or are you going to put gas in the car so you can go to work?

"Kids are going back to school now, so they need clothes and school supplies. Where is the money for that to come from? The people we're seeing never expected things to turn out like this - not at this stage of their lives. Not in the United States. The middle class is quickly slipping into a lower class."

Similar stories - and worse - are unfolding throughout the country. There are more people in poverty now - 43.6 million - than at any time since the government began keeping accurate records. Nearly 15 million Americans are out of work and home foreclosures are expected to surpass one million this year. The Times had a chilling front-page article this week about the increasing fear among jobless workers over 50 that they will never be employed again.

The politicians seem unable to grasp the immensity of the problem, which is why the policy solutions are so woefully inadequate. During my conversations with Ms. Bedore, she dismissed the very thought that the recession might be over. "Whoever said that was sadly mistaken," she said. "We haven't even bottomed-out yet."


9) Thousands Face Job Loss When Part of Stimulus Act Expires
September 25, 2010

Tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs within weeks unless Congress extends one of the more effective job-creating programs in the $787 billion stimulus act: a $1 billion New Deal-style program that directly paid the salaries of unemployed people so they could get jobs in government, at nonprofit organizations and at many small businesses.

In rural Perry County, Tenn., the program helped pay for roughly 400 new jobs in the public and private sectors. But in a county of 7,600 people, those jobs had a big impact: they reduced Perry County's unemployment rate to less than 14 percent this August, from the Depression-like levels of more than 25 percent that it hit last year after its biggest employer, an auto parts factory, moved to Mexico.

If the stimulus program ends on schedule next week, Perry County officials said, an estimated 300 people there will lose their jobs - the equivalent of another factory closing.

"It's very scary, because there's just no work," said Brian Davis, a 36-year-old father of four, who got a stimulus-subsidized job with the City of Lobelville after he lost his job of 17 years at an auto parts plant that shed hundreds of jobs. Now he faces the prospect of unemployment again.

"This was a huge help," Mr. Davis said. "The way the economy's been and the way people are struggling, you're worried about putting food on the table for your children and keeping the electricity on."

The money that pays Mr. Davis's salary, and the salaries of tens of thousands of other people around the country, will dry up after next Thursday, when the welfare program in the stimulus act that pays the bills for those jobs is set to expire. While the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress want to extend the program, they are meeting stiff resistance from Republicans, many of whom oppose all things stimulus.

If the program has encountered hostility from Republicans on Capitol Hill, it has been embraced by some Republican governors who have used it to create jobs in their states.

In Mississippi, an innovative program used the money to pay private companies to hire nearly 3,200 workers, and to pay their salaries on a sliding scale so that the employers would end up paying the entire amount after six months.

Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, described the initiative there as "welfare to work." Mr. Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said in an interview last winter that he hoped the program would be extended past this month, since it took so long for the state's program to get federal approval.

The federal program has helped employ nearly 130,000 adults and has paid for nearly an equal number of summer jobs for young people, according to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal policy institute in Washington.

If the program is allowed to lapse, up to 26,000 workers in Illinois will lose their jobs in the coming weeks, along with 12,000 workers in Pennsylvania and thousands more in other states, according to LaDonna Pavetti, the director of the center's welfare reform and income support division.

"I think that given what we know about the number of people that have been impacted by the recession and the limited jobs available, this has been a lifeline for many families with kids who would otherwise not know when their next rent payment or meal would be coming in," Dr. Pavetti said.

The money came from a pot of $5 billion that was included in the stimulus package as an emergency fund for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, the main cash welfare program for families with children. Of the $4.3 billion that has been approved so far, $1.4 billion has gone toward basic assistance, $1.8 billion has been used to help families pay one-time emergency expenses like rent and utility bills, and a little over $1 billion has been used to subsidize jobs.

Some economists consider subsidized jobs one of the most cost-effective ways to stimulate employment: there is no overhead or profit, as there is when firms win bids to perform work for the government.

Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat who championed the idea of creating jobs in hard-hit Perry County and other places with high unemployment, said he would like to see the program extended because it had a more direct impact than other components of the stimulus act, like infrastructure projects and tax cuts.

"I thought we were able to make very efficient use of these funds," he said in an interview on Friday, "with the money not going off into the ether to create jobs on a spreadsheet, but going where you could go find people who had jobs today who did not have them before."

There are success stories in Tennessee. After the Armstrong Pie Company hired 12 workers with stimulus money, it was able to expand its production, add delivery routes and increase sales, said Dalyn Patterson, who owns the company with her husband, Bert. The business increased enough that she said she expected to keep 11 of the 12 workers.

But if the program was supposed to act as a bridge to keep people working until the economy started adding jobs in large numbers again, officials in Tennessee said that it was ending a bit early. And many of the 300 workers who are set to lose their stimulus jobs in Perry County may not be able to collect unemployment benefits. So while people there are grateful for the program, they are nervous about what comes next.

"It was very much a Band-Aid," said Mayor Robby J. Moore of Lobelville, Tenn. "And now the Band-Aid is coming off."


10) Scores of Taliban Killed in 2 Airstrikes
September 25, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan - Two separate airstrikes killed more than 70 Taliban insurgents on Saturday, NATO officials said, although some local residents said that civilians were among the victims.

In eastern Laghman Province, a combined force of Afghan and coalition soldiers airlifted troops into the Masooda village in the Alishing district to clear the area of insurgents, the international forces said in a statement. After coming under fire, they called for air support, and 32 insurgents were killed, according to Afghan police officials. NATO officials separately put the death toll at "more than 30."

Several hours after the early-morning engagement, according to the provincial police chief, Ghulam Aziz, a group of more than 100 local residents held an angry demonstration in Mihtarlam, the capital of the province, and police dispersed them with fire hoses and gunshots in the air.

"It was not really a protest," Mr. Aziz said. "It was actually an insurrection by some elements who want to disrupt security."

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujaheed, interviewed by cellphone, said that there had been no Taliban activity in the area and that all the victims were civilians. A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Maj. Michael Johnson, said that "as of right now we have no indication of any civilian casualties." The operation in Laghman Province was ongoing, Major Johnson said, and, "If there's any indication at all of civilian casualties, we will investigate it."

In the other encounter, in eastern Khost Province, 42 insurgents were killed at about 2 a.m. on Saturday when they were spotted trying to cross the border from Pakistan, said Maj. Stephen Platt, a NATO spokesman at Forward Operating Base Salerno.

The Khost provincial police chief, Gen. Abdul Hakim Isahqzai, put the insurgent death toll even higher, with at least 82 killed in a NATO airstrike and reports that the final toll may reach 200. A But a NATO spokesman, Lt. Col. John Dorrian, said there were no airstrikes by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, in that area. He had no information on who might have carried out such a strike.

There were no complaints of civilian casualties in that encounter, in the Mogholgai region of the Gurboz district, where airstrikes have also been carried out by other United States government agencies, including those by C.I.A. drones. General Isahqzai also said that the police had arrested a major Taliban commander, Mollawi Salim, from Logar Province, at a checkpoint in Khost, and handed him over to American soldiers at the Salerno operating base for detention. The police general said that Mr. Salim was a well-known figure who was responsible for arranging suicide bombings.

The ISAF reported on Saturday the earlier arrests and killings of four other insurgent commanders in three different provinces, Khost, Paktika and Helmand, part of the military's ongoing campaign to focus on midlevel leaders.

The international security force also reported the deaths of two NATO soldiers by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan on Friday, and that of another NATO soldier killed in a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on Saturday.

Copies of War Memoir Destroyed

WASHINGTON - The Defense Department has confirmed that it has destroyed 9,500 copies of an Afghan war memoir by a former intelligence officer to prevent the disclosure of what it considered to be classified information.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said Friday that on Monday, department officials had observed the destruction of the books, the uncensored first printing of Anthony Shaffer's "Operation Dark Heart," the spokeswoman said. A second printing, with about 250 passages blacked out, went on sale Friday.

A person familiar with the negotiations said that the Pentagon had paid St. Martin's Press about $5 a book, for a cost to taxpayers of nearly $50,000. Publishing executives say they think it is the first time the government has destroyed a print run of a book to protect secrets. About 100 uncensored advance copies of "Operation Dark Heart" were distributed before the Pentagon intervened, and some have sold online for as much as $2,000.

An Afghan employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Khost, Afghanistan.


11) F.B.I. Searches Antiwar Activists' Homes
September 24, 2010

F.B.I. agents executed search warrants Friday in Minneapolis and Chicago in connection to an investigation of support of terror organizations.

The searches in Minneapolis took place early in the morning at the homes of people who have helped organize demonstrations against the war in Iraq and protests held two years ago during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

"It is rather patently political," said Ted Dooley, a lawyer who represents Mick Kelly, a food service worker at the University of Minnesota and one of those whose homes was searched. "My client denies any wrongdoing."

Steve Warfield, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Minneapolis, said the agents executed six warrants in Minneapolis and two in Chicago.

"They were seeking evidence related to an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation," Mr. Warfield said. "They are looking at activities connected to the material support of terrorism."

He said no one in Minneapolis had been arrested while the warrants were executed. He added that agents in Michigan and North Carolina had also questioned people in connection with the investigation.

Mr. Dooley said the F.B.I. broke down Mr. Kelly's door around 7 a.m. and gave a search warrant to his companion. The warrant said agents were gathering evidence related to people "providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support" to terrorist organizations, and listed Hezbollah, the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The warrant also authorized the agents to look for information connected to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and to unnamed "co-conspirators" and allowed them to seize items including electronics, photographs, address books and letters.

Mr. Kelly is known in Minnesota as a prominent organizer of the Anti-War Committee, a group that has protested United States military aid to Colombia and called for the removal of American soldiers from Afghanistan.

During the Republican gathering in 2008 he was a primary organizer of a march that drew thousands of participants.

Mr. Kelly was also served with a summons to appear before a grand jury on Oct. 19 in Chicago. The order directed him to bring along pictures or videos related to any trip to Colombia, Jordan, Syria, the Palestinian territories or Israel, as well as correspondence with anyone in those places.

Jess Sundin, another member of the Anti-War Committee whose home was searched, said a warrant also was executed at the group's office. She said she had not done anything to help terror groups.

"I've protested the government's policies and spoken out and tried to educate people in my community," Ms. Sundin said. "That is the extent of what I've done."


12) U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) denounces FBI attacks on Palestinian, solidarity and antiwar activists
By uspcn
September 25, 2010

The US Palestinian Community Network denounces the FBI raids on anti-war, Palestine solidarity and Palestinian activists that took place in several U.S. cities on Friday, September 24. 2010. We are appalled at this gross violation of First Amendment Rights as well as the human and civil rights of social justice activists who speak for justice and peace for all our communities. We see this attack for what it is-an attempt at silencing opposition to U.S. wars in our homelands and our rights to express dissent at home. The movement for justice in/for Palestine in the United States will not be intimidated or silenced. We pledge our full support and our firm commitment to defend the targeted activists.

A statement from the activists and a list of planned protests is below:

For Immediate Release
24 September 2010

Contact: Tom Burke, 773-844-3612

Steff Yorek, 612-865-8234

Activists Denounce FBI Raids on Anti-war and Solidarity Activists Homes

Subpoenas, Searches, and FBI visits carried out in cities across the country.

We denounce the Federal Bureau of Investigation harassment of anti-war and solidarity activists in several states across the country. The FBI began turning over six houses in Chicago and Minneapolis this morning, Friday, October 24, 2010, at 8:00 am central time. The FBI handed subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury to about a dozen activists in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. They also attempted to intimidate activists in California and North Carolina.

"The government hopes to use a grand jury to frame up activists. The goal of these raids is to harass and try to intimidate the movement against U.S. wars and occupations, and those who oppose U.S. support for repressive regimes," said Colombia solidarity activist Tom Burke, one of those handed a subpoena by the FBI. "They are designed to suppress dissent and free speech, to divide the peace movement, and to pave the way for more U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and Latin America."

This suppression of democratic rights is aimed towards those who dedicate much of their time and energy to supporting the struggles of the Palestinian and Colombian peoples against U.S. funded occupation and war. The activists are involved with well-known anti-war groups including many of the leaders of the huge protest against the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN in September 2008. The FBI agents emphasized that the grand jury was going to investigate the activists for possible terrorism charges. This is a U.S. government attempt to silence those who support resistance to oppression in the Middle East and Latin America.

The activists involved have done nothing wrong and are refusing to be pulled into conversations with the FBI about their political views or organizing against war and occupation. The activists are involved with many groups, including: the Palestine Solidarity Group, Students for a Democratic Society, the Twin-Cities Anti-War Committee, the Colombia Action Network, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera (a Colombian Political Prisoner).

Steff Yorek, a long-time antiwar activist and one of the activists whose homes was searched, called the raids "An outrageous fishing expedition."

We urge all progressive activists to show solidarity with those individuals targeted by the U.S. Government. Activists have the right not to speak with the FBI and are encouraged to politely refuse, just say "No".

Please contact or if you would like to provide support to the targeted activists.

Emergency Actions to Support Anti-War and International Solidarity Activists

Stop FBI Raids and Harassment

We denounce the Federal Bureau of Investigation harassment of anti-war and solidarity activists. The FBI raided seven houses and an office in Chicago and Minneapolis on Friday, September 24, 2010. The FBI handed subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury to eleven activists in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. The FBI also attempted to intimidate activists in California and North Carolina.

This suppression of civil rights is aimed at those who dedicate their time and energy to supporting the struggles of the Palestinian and Colombian peoples against U.S. funded occupation and war. The FBI has indicated that the grand jury is investigating the activists for possible material support of terrorism charges.

The activists involved have done nothing wrong and are refusing to be pulled into conversations with the FBI about their political views or organizing against war and occupation. The activists are involved with many groups, including: the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network, Students for a Democratic Society, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization. These activists came together with many others to organize the 2008 anti-war marches on the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

We ask people of conscience to join us in fighting this political repression, as we continue working to build the movements against US war and occupation.

Take Action:

Call the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-353-1555 or write an email to:


**Stop the repression against anti-war and international solidarity activists.

**Immediately return all confiscated materials: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, etc.

**End the grand jury proceedings against anti-war activists.

Plan and Support national days of protest at FBI offices or Federal Buildings, September 27 and 28th.

A demonstration has been called at the Minneapolis FBI Office Monday, 4:30, September 27th (111 Washington Ave. S.).

In Solidarity, the Anti-War Committee -

The following is a list of the 19 planned protests that we have heard of so far, and the list is growing. Please participate in the one nearest you, or if there is not one in your city, organize one and let us know at so we can publicize it and add it to the list:
Please be in touch with the Minnesota Anti-War Committee -

Monday 9/27:

Minneapolis, MN - 4:30, FBI Office Monday, 111 Washington Ave. S.

Chicago, IL - 4:30 Fedeeral Building, Federal Plaza.

Kalamazoo, MI - 4:30 Federal Building, 410 W Michigan Ave

Salt Lake City, Utah - 9 AM at Federal Building

Durham, NC - 12 noon Federal Building, 323 E Chapel Hill St

Buffalo, NY- 4:30 pm at FBI Building - Corner of So. Elmwood Ave. & Niagara St.

Gainesville, FL - Monday, 4:30 PM at FBI Building

Tuesday 9/28:

NYC, NY - 4:30 to 6pm Federal Building, 26 Federal Plaza,

Newark, NJ - 5 to 6pm Federal Building Broad Street

Philadelphia, PA - 4:30pm Federal Building, 6th & Market,

Washington DC - 4:30 - 5:30 FBI Building, 935 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

Boston, MA - 5 pm, JFK Federal Building

Detroit, MI - 4:30 pm McNamara Federal Building, Michigan Ave. at Cass

Raleigh, NC - 9 am. Federal Building, 310 New Bern Ave

Asheville, NC - 5 pm Federal Building,

Atlanta, GA - Noon, FBI Building

Los Angeles, CA - 5 pm, Downtown Federal Building, 300 N Los Angeles St

Tucson, AZ - 5 pm Federal Building

Wednesday 9/29:

Albany, NY - 5 to 6 pm Federal Building


13) World in Revolt: The Global Backlash Against Budget Cuts
by: Anthony DiMaggio, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
September 26, 2010

Americans should take a page from activists throughout the rest of the world if they're seriously interested in resisting the massive budget cuts afflicting this country. Effective social change only comes about through mass action - a lesson that has emerged after years of grassroots uprisings in the U.S. and throughout the world. Consider some of the evidence from various cases below.

The French: Don't Call Them Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys

Over a million French workers turned out in the streets this month to protest proposed government budget cutbacks by President Nicolas Sarkozy. The rallies were part of a 24-hour strike that shut down flights and railway services, in addition to closing schools throughout the country. Government plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 motivated these protests, even though France already has one of the lower retirement rates throughout Europe. The opposition is also driven by resistance to plans to fire 7,000 teachers, the proposed lengthening of pay periods for public employees, and plans to cut pension benefits.

The mass turnout of a million people in France is the functional equivalent (after controlling for population differences) of seeing more than 4.5 million organize throughout the United States to protest state budget cuts and mass layoffs. Such a movement has not been seen among public sector workers, despite the fact that this segment of the economy traditionally benefits from the strongest worker organization through its continued reliance on mass unionization.

This is not the first protest in France either in recent years. Last June, nearly 1 million turned out nationwide to protest proposed budget cuts - a sign of a sustained national activist campaign that will not relent until the government backs down on its austerity measures. The case of France demonstrates that necessity doesn't have to be the mother of invention. Well-off people can organize to protect hard fought wage gains and other benefits, and we don't need to wait until we're on the verge of destitution (as Americans are doing) to be engaged in activism and protest. Of course, France's strong history of labor unionism has helped spur sustained rounds of resistance to budget cuts, whereas the American public has become increasingly divorced from working class unionism in recent decades (unions represent less than 15 percent of all American workers today).

Sweatshops are NOT Inevitable: The Case of Bangladesh

The people of Bangladesh most strikingly put to shame the elitist apathy that is sapping the collective will of the American people. With radically less, the poor people of Bangladesh have achieved so much more than Americans (at least in the last two years) in the areas of popular activism and protesting economic injustice. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party is leading a mass movement to protest the terrible working conditions and pay levels in sweatshops throughout the country. Demonstrations that took place this summer just outside of the country's capital of Dhaka protested the refusal of the national government to improve power and gas supplies, and the unwillingness to ease the suffering of those who are enduring increased food prices. 50,000 garment workers came together to demand the equivalent of $70 per month, a major increase from the estimated $14-23 per month they were receiving. The lower rates of pay they receive are below the national poverty line, and contribute to great unrest and instability among Bangladesh's workers.

The demand for increased pay represents a major challenge to the unimpeded profits of American companies (operating in country) such as Wal-Mart, Levi Strauss, and H&M, which have been happy to subjugate an entire nation to wage slavery. The protests were highly effective in drawing national and international attention to the plight of Bangladesh's working poor. At least 76 factories were forcibly shut down, in retaliation against the government's reneging on a promise to increase wages for the country's 2.5 million garment workers. The case of Bangladesh should be inspiring for all those throughout the world dealing with austerity measures, as it shows that even in the direst of circumstances, there is no such thing as "inevitability" of low pay. All workers retain the right to a living wage, and many are willing to fight for it. Of course, it also helps to have a political party (as those in Bangladesh do) which will fight for popular change.

Protests on the Forgotten Continent: Increasing Desperation in Mozambique and South Africa

Many Americans would be hard pressed to demonstrate any sort of knowledge of African politics. The continent is traditionally seen as outside of citizens' interests, as attention to global politics is a low priority for the American public (outside of following events in countries the U.S. is bombing). Still, increasing desperation throughout Africa has been accompanied by serious action on the part of the disadvantaged and desperate. Violent protests and riots in Mozambique this month were the result of increasing global food prices. Food costs increased dramatically in light of deteriorating global environmental conditions - most specifically the severe droughts in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Northern and Western Africa, which have exacted a terrible toll on global crop yields.

Prices for bread, electricity, and water have gone up by nearly a third in Mozambique, and were accompanied by looting throughout the nation's capital of Maputo. Public anger was further stoked by the government's refusal to intervene to help the poor deal with major increases in food and energy costs.

Strikes in South Africa are driven by public sector workers, who are demanding better benefits from the government. Strikes throughout the country this summer went on for weeks, and were accompanied by the forced closing of schools and the short-staffing of hospitals, as more than a million public servants refused to return to work until their demands for a 8.6 percent pay raise were met. Union activism succeeded in forcing the South African government to the negotiation table, in an effort to end the nation-paralyzing strikes.

Europe in Decline: Protesting the Decline of Living Standards in the U.K., Spain, and Greece

While Americans are overwhelmingly sitting back and accepting the "necessity" of massive budget cuts and mass layoffs that will inevitably make the economic crisis worse, union activists in Europe are taking the initiative in rejecting comparable efforts in their countries. This June saw the emergence of a national rebellion in Spain, where a day-long strike protested a 5 percent pay cut across the board directed against public sector teachers, firefighters, hospital workers, and other local government positions. The cuts were undertaken in the name of balancing budgets and protecting the prosperity of future children, ironically while assaulting the living standards of the parents and children of today. The rebellion in Spain was truly massive, with an estimated 75 to 80 percent of public workers - or more than 2.5 million people - taking part.

The Spanish government wants further cuts, with salaries frozen in 2011 and future pension funding that will not be adjusted for inflation. Spain's workers are sending the message that they won't go down without a fight. At a time when national unemployment is over 20 percent (with total unemployment at 4 million and underemployment reaching 40 percent of the population), Spain's workers are standing up and saying "no more!"

Summer protests in Greece were designed to draw attention to increasing national desperation. One in five now live below the poverty line, and the situation is certain to get worse as proposed austerity measures - including tax hikes, pay cuts, and pension freezes - are undertaken. By July 2010, Greece's public service workers had engaged in a half dozen strikes, forcing a shutdown of public transportation and closing down schools, courts, hospitals, and newspapers. The protests galvanized tens of thousands to turn out in cities across the country, prompting chants of "hands off our pensions" in opposition to draconian cuts directed against the country's working class.

In the United Kingdom, students, staff, and faculty across 100 universities came together to organize on-campus protests in June to resist planned government layoffs, salary cuts, and reductions in courses. The public was not fooled over the incremental nature of the cuts, which will be implemented over a number of years, but will affect three-quarters of the country's schools. The cuts are quite significant in scale - approximately 200 million pounds (or $300 million in U.S. dollars) across the country.

Protests in the U.S.: What are We Waiting For?

The United States is suffering under its own economic calamity over the last few years, too. Unemployment is consistently increasing, while massive state budget cuts are succeeding in throwing out countless public servants across the states in recent years. Underemployment is currently at over 20 percent, while unemployment benefits were barely extended in a bitter national debate between both parties this summer. To make matters worse, the economy is limping along, showing little sign of a real recovery, while the specter of future bank and financial failures loom in the background.

Many will wonder, why is there so much activism throughout the rest of the world, but comparatively much less in the United States in resisting neoliberalism and austerity-based budget cuts? Part of the explanation in the cases of resistance in Greece, Spain, Mozambique, South Africa, and Bangladesh is the fact that workers in those countries are comparatively much worse off than Americans when it comes to deteriorating pay, benefits, and other worker protections. Unemployment levels are often much higher than in the U.S., while pay levels have long been comparative lower. This explanation, however, is partial at best. The U.K. is characterized in many ways by a relatively stronger social welfare state (especially in relation to health care) than that seen in the U.S., and less extreme conditions for workers, with 7.8 percent unemployment compared to the United States' 9.6 percent official unemployment. Yet, British public sector workers are far more organized and intolerant of the gutting of public education. France has a similar level of unemployment to the U.S. at 10 percent and a far more advanced social welfare state, yet its workers have responded with a coordinated national campaign to protest budget cuts. In contrast, American protests against far larger austerity measures (in the form of mass layoffs and talk of serious pension cuts) are being met by scattered local protests at best. No salient national campaign is emerging across localities in this country, nor does it appear that one is on the horizon in the near future.

The relatively stronger position of labor unions throughout Western Europe also doesn't fully explain the weak level of protests in the U.S. Most of the strikes and protests discussed above were led by public sector workers, an area of the U.S. economy that has traditionally been characterized by strong unionization and organization. While only 7.2 percent of U.S. private sector workers are part of a union, the figure is at nearly 40 percent of public workers, and that figure actually grew from 2008 to 2009.

A major cause of U.S. apathy is likely the depoliticization of the American electorate and the lack of a collective working class consciousness. A majority of Americans distrust their political officials, while a growing number feel that they cannot rely upon the national government to improve their living standards. This latter trend should be particularly disturbing for those on the left who see the national government as the primary medium for promoting the improvement of living standards for the masses and for establishing and promoting collective goods. Establishing universal health care and universal funding for higher education, in addition to the strengthening of food stamps, head start, job training, Social Security, and a slew of other welfare programs will only be accomplished by increasing our support for, and reliance on the national government. These progressive victories will not emerge by "getting government out of our lives," or by turning our back on national politics.

Americans are incessantly bombarded by conservative propaganda stressing the theme that government is the problem, rather than part of the solution in terms of promoting American prosperity. Diversionary mass media direct public attention toward fashionable consumption and meaningless celebrity news, rather than toward important political and economic issues, such as whether Americans will have a job tomorrow as a result of massive budget cuts and a weakening economy. American educational institutions do a pitiful job in informing the young about the importance of social movements in bringing about positive social change. Finally, structural changes in the economy force Americans to work longer hours for less pay, leaving less time for political education and activism.

All of these forces come together to wreak havoc on the prospects for renewed progressive activism among the American public. Progressive change is further hindered by the emergence of faux "social movements" like the Tea Party, supplemented by "grassroots uprisings" in the form of birtherism and anti-Muslim racism. These "movements" are largely media-induced, fueled by right-wing Republican and punditry-based hatred, which seeks to take advantage of the very real economic grievances of Middle America. There is more than a bit of Nazi-esque race-baiting and scapegoating involved in this process, especially when looking at the equation of Muslims with Nazism (seen among many protesting the Manhattan Muslim Community Center).

Until we begin to address the structural problems that plague American society, we will see little progress in organizing the masses to oppose the reactionary assault on the populace. Without action, there will be little support for a progressive agenda for real change. Americans must realize that the only way forward is through a direct confrontation with political and economic elites. Positive progressive change is never willingly given up by elites - it must be forcibly taken from below. This is the most important lesson to take from the global backlash against neoliberalism.


14) Stand with Anti-War Activists Targeted by the FBI!
ANSWER condemns FBI intimidation tactics
hands off antiwar activists
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948
Boston: 857-334-5084
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311

The ANSWER Coalition unequivocally condemns today's FBI raids on the homes of anti-war and solidarity activists in Illinois and Minnesota, and the intimidation of activists there and elsewhere.

This morning, Sept. 24, teams of FBI agents from the "Joint Terrorism Task Force" served search warrants and grand jury subpoenas on the activists, allegedly relating to political speech in defense of the Palestinian and Colombian peoples. The FBI subpoenaed around a dozen activists to testify before a grand jury in Chicago in October. They confronted and intimidated activists in additional states as part of the operation.

Grand juries are notorious political tools used by the government against progressive activists when it lacks actual evidence against them.

The targeted activists have done nothing wrong. They are long-time organizers in the struggle for justice in the United States and against U.S. wars and repression abroad. They are leaders of organizations like the Twin-Cities Anti-War Committee, the Palestine Solidarity Group, the Colombia Action Network and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, among others. Many of the targeted activists helped organize the successful mass mobilizations at the RNC in Minneapolis, Minn. in 2008. Now, the government is attempting to implicate them in a bogus federal "terrorism" investigation. These allegations are baseless, reactionary and wrong.

The aim of the FBI raids is clearly the suppression of free speech and dissent. The government wants all activists to be afraid to speak out. And the Obama administration's Justice Department is now leading the charge. But we cannot allow the government to stamp out the right of people to advocate for political beliefs that do not align with the aims of the Pentagon war machine. We cannot allow them to continue to erode our civil rights and civil liberties.

ANSWER encourages all anti-war activists to follow the example of the targeted activists if you are confronted by the FBI or other police agencies. The activists have refused to engage in conversations with the FBI about their political beliefs and anti-war organizing.

It is important for all activists and organizers to know your civil rights. People have the right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney. Even if the FBI shows up at someone's home or office with a warrant, you are not required to engage in conversation. It is better to say to FBI or other law enforcement agents, "Let me have your contact information and my attorney will call you." People will gain nothing by engaging in discussions with FBI officers.

ANSWER stands in full solidarity with our targeted sisters and brothers in the anti-war movement. We vow to struggle alongside them until the government harassment ends and they are completely vindicated.

An injury to one is an injury to all!


15) San Francisco Labor Council says yes to the gentrification of Hunters Point
Posted By Mary On May 21, 2010 @ 10:22 pm In SF Bay Area
Labor Council reports taking $500,000 from Lennar
by Roland Sheppard
May 21, 2010

I recently received in the mail an expensive 11-by-17-inch glossy political brochure from the San Francisco Labor Council asking people to say "Yes to Thousands of New Jobs at Hunters Point Shipyard" - an EPA Superfund toxic dump site. This is the key part of the ongoing plan and activities by the politically connected Lennar Corp., the Democratic Party and the City and County of San Francisco to gentrify Bayview Hunters Point, the last largely Black community in San Francisco. In effect, the Labor Council is asking the people of San Francisco to vote yes to gentrifying BVHP!

In exchange for betraying this poor, working class community, the Labor Council acknowledges receiving a payment of $500,000 last year from Lennar. According to the Labor Council Executive Board minutes for May 4, 2009: "The benefits agreement negotiated with Lennar for the development in Hunter's Point is moving forward. [Executive Director Tim] Paulson reported we have received the first $500,000 from Lennar and chosen to put the funds in the San Francisco Foundation since the SFLC does not yet have a 501(c)(3) fund. These funds will go towards workforce development and job training."

As a consequence, of selling out these workers, the San Francisco Labor Council has become politically bankrupt because of its self-serving policy of securing benefits to the workers it represents at the expense of the entire working class. Recently, the labor bureaucracy has also been selling out the workers they represent in order to keep the dues base for their salaries.

Ever since 1975, when city workers in San Francisco were first under attack, the San Francisco labor movement has sided with City Hall against Black and other communities of color. And yet many of the "radicals" who sit of the Labor Council or are delegates and claim to be against gentrification, to their shame, claim that the San Francisco Labor Council is the "left wing of the labor movement" and remain silent about this. As Martin Luther King said, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Roland Sheppard, who can be reached at [4], is a retired business representative of the San Francisco Painters Union Local 4 and a former delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council. Learn how this type of policy has led to the downfall of the trade union movement, at [5].


16) Deflation, Inflation And The U.S. Fed
September 26, 2010

Filed at 3:03 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One day after the Federal Reserve got investors thinking about uncomfortably low inflation, Starbucks announced it was raising prices on some of its coffee drinks.

Anheuser-Busch is planning price hikes on some of its Budweiser beers later this year (although it's also going to give away free samples to 500,000 people at bars and restaurants in the coming weeks).

So is inflation dangerously low or is it creeping higher?

It depends where you look.

The Fed said last week that inflation was below its comfort level and likely to stay that way for some time. The central bank said it was prepared to step in if necessary to ensure that this doesn't morph into something serious like deflation.

The Fed's favorite inflation gauge -- the ineloquently named core PCE price index -- is due on Friday and is likely to show a slight uptick for September, according to a Reuters poll. On a year-over-year basis, the index is expected to hold steady at 1.4 percent, below the Fed's comfort zone of 1.7 percent to 2 percent.

The measure excludes food and energy prices, which the Fed considers too volatile to provide a reliable signal on future price direction. But food, energy and other major commodity groups have soared in the past couple of months, which explains why companies like Starbucks are raising prices.

The Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index, which tracks commodity prices, hit an 8-month high last week. Gold prices hit a record level and other commodities, including soybeans and cotton, notched multi-year peaks.

This is causing trouble for commodity-sensitive emerging markets such as Russia. Its central bank meets on Tuesday and is widely expected to hold rates steady. But it may express growing concern about inflationary pressures after a summer drought devastated the country's wheat crop.

It is less clear what these rising commodity prices will mean for the U.S. economic recovery and the Fed's next policy move. High unemployment and sluggish consumer spending mean many companies cannot follow Starbucks' lead and pass higher raw material costs along to consumers.

Jason Schenker, president of Prestige Economics in Austin, Texas, says the lofty jobless rate makes consumers "very, very price sensitive," which means rising commodity prices probably won't have much of an effect on broader inflation trends.

Oil tends to seep more deeply into consumer prices because it touches each stage of production, from factory to delivery truck to storefront. But it has not risen as sharply as some of the agricultural products or metals.

"Seventy-five dollar oil does not a story make," Schenker said.


Inflation at 1.4 percent isn't exactly Japan-style deflation. Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Lacker said it's quite possible for inflation to run between 1 percent and 1.5 percent for a while without slipping into deflation.

But some economists are not so sure. David Rosenberg, chief economist at money management firm Gluskin Sheff in Toronto, thinks deflation is a serious threat, and says the Fed may not be up to the challenge of combating it.

"The current crew of policymakers have only lived their lives fighting inflation and actually have no experience at all in combating deflation," he said.

Rosenberg sees the building blocks of deflation in the high unemployment rate, the weak housing market and the heavy load of debt that still weighs on household spending.

But he also expects commodity prices to push in the opposite direction, particularly oil and gold, propelled higher by demand from emerging economies, as well as investors seeking safety from either deflation or a weakening dollar.

For the Fed, consumers' expectations are more important than those of analysts, so the most salient piece of information this week may come from the Reuters-University of Michigan survey of consumers on Friday, which will include questions on inflation expectations.

The latest one-year inflation expectation reading was 2.2 percent, the lowest in a year. If that continues to slide, it could set off alarm bells at the Fed and heighten investors' expectation that more policy easing will come.

Then again, if people pay more for their Starbucks and beer and start thinking all prices are heading higher, expectations may edge up, which wouldn't be all that terrible for a central bank worried about ultra-low inflation.

(Additional reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Dan Grebler)


17) Walking away with less
By Dina ElBoghdady and Dan Keating
Sunday, September 26, 2010; 4:03 AM

A new wave of distressed home sales is rippling, more quietly this time, through American cities and suburbs.

Its unsettling effects are playing out here in Manassas, along Brewer Creek Place, a modest, horseshoe-shaped street lined with 98 brick townhouses. Several years after the U.S. foreclosure crisis erupted, the U-Hauls are back.

The last time, banks seized nearly every fourth house on the street through foreclosure. This time, homeowners are going another route: a short sale.

"I love this house, but I just have to leave," said Leanna Harris, 27, the owner of a corner unit that used to be the builder's model, with a stone path in the yard and a gourmet kitchen. "I'm at peace with it now."

The original owner bought the home for $400,714 in 2006; Harris and her husband, both bartenders, paid what seemed to be a bargain price, $289,000, in 2008. But they have fallen behind on their mortgage payments, in part because her husband was out of work. Now they have a $246,000 offer for the home, and the balance on their mortgage is more than that. They want to accept the offer. All they need is their bank's okay.

That kind of deal is called a short sale, and it's sweeping the country. In these deals, a lender allows a troubled borrower to sell a home for less than what's owed on the mortgage.

Completed short sales have more than tripled since 2008, and 400,000 of these deals are projected to close this year, according to mortgage research firm CoreLogic. The giant mortgage financier Fannie Mae approved short sales on 36,534 home loans it owned in the first half of the year, nearly triple the number in 2007 and 2008 combined. Freddie Mac, its sister company, approved 22,117 in the first half of 2010, up from a mere 94 in the first half of 2007.

Distressed homeowners are being drawn to short sales in large part because they can help protect a borrower's credit rating and thus the chance of buying another home later on.

"I worked hard for a long time to keep my credit score close to perfect, and I know a foreclosure would be much worse for my credit than a short sale," said Harris, who listed her Brewer Creek Place home as a short sale about a month ago. "If there's a chance we can avoid foreclosure, we'd rather do that."

In a short sale, homeowners must get the go-ahead from the mortgage lender. Sometimes that happens before the property is put on the market, and other times before the deal closes.

In some areas of the country, including the Washington region, lenders can later pursue borrowers for the difference between the proceeds collected from the short sale and the amount owed on the mortgage, also called a deficiency. But lenders say they only do so if they conclude the borrowers skipped out on a loan that they could afford.

For lenders, short sales are less expensive than foreclosures to handle and help ensure that homes transfer in good shape. And for the wider real estate market, these sales could help shore up the floor under housing values because homeowners - unlike with foreclosures - have a vested interest in getting the best price. That's because the higher the offer, the more likely the lender will approve the sale.

But short sales are prone to maddening delays and often fall through because they require the approval of many, often-competing parties - including the primary mortgage lender and in some cases the holders of second and third liens.

Across the Washington region, short-sale listings now far outpace the number of foreclosures available for sale, according to RealEstate Business Intelligence, a subsidiary of the local multiple listing service. About 14 percent of area homes for sale are short sales, more than double the figure for foreclosures, with some of the greatest volume in Prince George's and Prince William Counties, where the drop in housing prices has been especially pronounced.

Brewer Creek Place, which wraps around the back end of the Independence subdivision south of the Prince William Parkway, was first developed five years ago on the eve of the housing market meltdown. Most of the residents bought their townhouses at a time when mortgage lending standards were especially lax, leaving some borrowers saddled with staggering debts when the home-loan market collapsed.

Yet along the street, there are few signs of the turmoil. Kids zip around on scooters. Neighbors primp their flower beds.

But from her driveway, Brenda Holliday has watched the crisis spread. Taking a break from hosing down her convertible PT Cruiser on a recent Saturday, she pointed to the three homes to her right. Each had sold as a foreclosure since 2008.

Then she pointed to the door to her immediate left with a lock box hanging on it.

"That's a short sale," she said. She nodded to the corner unit further down the block. "I think that's a short sale, too."

To Holliday, 60, her townhouse seemed ideal when moved in four years ago shortly after she was widowed. She's been renting the place from the owner with half of each monthly payment credited toward her eventual purchase of the home, which she initially agreed to buy for $365,000.

But as she's grown older, the stairs have gotten harder, she said, and now she feels a bit trapped. If she leaves, she loses the money she put toward the purchase. If she stays, she'll have to pay about $150,000 more than the townhouse is worth. Its value has been eroded by the steady stream of foreclosures and short sales.

Holliday squeezed the hose full throttle.

"A moving van pulls up and another family is gone - that's all I know," she said. "It's plain sad."

Leanna Harris may have been the first on the street to buy a home as a short sale. When she did, in early 2008, such deals were so rare that Prince William County hadn't even started to track them yet.

"I wanted this house really bad," said Harris, who went to settlement on the home the day after their baby girl was born. "It is my dream house."

But before long, she and her husband were looking at a short sale from the other side. The Harrises fell behind on their payments and never regained financial footing, she said.

The couple received temporary relief for six months from Bank of America. But Harris said the bank ultimately rejected them for a permanent loan modification and threatened foreclosure unless they immediately made up the $10,000 in payments that had been deferred, including interest and fees, or sold the house.

Harris said she felt tricked. But she listed her home as a short sale because it seemed to offer a relatively painless way out. She said she doesn't expect the bank's approval to come quickly.

Lenders acknowledge that they are overwhelmed with the volume of short sales coming their way.

"It has taken considerable effort to build up the capacity to do these [short sale and modification] processes and also to connect them together," said David Sunlin, a senior vice president at Bank America. "We're adding staff and vendors and technology."The giant mortgage financier Fannie Mae approved short sales on 36,534 home loans it owned in the first half of this year, nearly triple the number in 2007 and 2008 combined. Freddie Mac, its sister company, approved 22,117 in the first half of 2010, up from a mere 94 in the first half of 2007.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has been seeking to encourage even more short sales as a way of reducing the nation's inventory of vacant and abandoned properties.

In April, the administration launched a program that financially rewards lenders and borrowers for successfully negotiating a short sale if the borrower's loan could not be modified through the federal government's year-and-a-half-old foreclosure prevention effort. Lenders receive $1,500 and borrowers another $3,000 for moving expenses. Under the initiative, all eligible borrowers must be notified of the option to sell their homes short before their loans are referred to foreclosure.

The Treasury-run program also sweetens the deal for borrowers by relieving them of any obligation to repay a deficiency.

Clearing the way for a short sale has often proved cumbersome because there can be so many parties to a potential deal. Aside from lenders, transactions may also have to be green lighted by investors who own the mortgages, local tax authorities, appraisal firms, escrow companies, homeowners associations, mortgage insurance companies and subordinate lien holders.

That's why the administration cannot simply order a lender to approve a short sale, said Laurie Maggiano, policy director at the Treasury Department's homeownership preservation office.

"We have to give servicers discretion to make intelligent business decisions as to which properties are likely to be successful short sales, rather than say everybody has to get one," she said.

It can also be difficult to persuade lenders to participate, because of the risk. According to Frank McKenna, a vice president at CoreLogic, the industry is on track to incur about $310 million of unnecessary losses on these transactions every year.

Monica Valladares, 29, has been trying to offload her home on Brewer Creek Place for more than a year.

She bought it new for $329,000 in 2006. Keeping up with her mortgage payment was easy when her three roommates - her grandmother and two cousins - were chipping in. But the arrangement fell apart, the family scattered and Valladares, a single mom, said she could not afford the home on her salary as a researcher for a telecommunications company.

In early 2009, Valladares listed the townhouse as a short sale for the first time. The home, overlooking a wooded lot and playground, quickly attracted multiple offers. The highest was $220,000, she recalled. She moved out, thinking the turnaround would be quick. But her agent could not get the bank to review even the most lucrative contract, she said.

When the potential buyers dropped out about six months later, Valladares applied to Bank of America for a loan modification that would reduce her payments. A few months later, Valladeres was told she did not qualify, she said.

Desperate, Valladares tried the short-sale route again.

"I don't know what else to do, what else to try," Valladares said during a recent visit back to the vacant town home. "This house is damaging my credit big time."

Within days, she received a $220,000 offer.

When she called her primary lender to get approval for the deal, however, the bank said she wasn't eligible for a short sale because she had been enrolled in a loan modification program after all, Valladares recalled. Straightening out the confusion took weeks. The lender finally agreed to the sale. But there were more obstacles. For one, the homeowners association said Valladares must pay $4,000 in dues and late fees before it will clear the sale, she said, adding she doesn't have the cash.

Yet another problem is that Valladares had taken out a second mortgage to help her finance the original purchase of her townhouse. The lender on that second loan has yet to approve the short sale, said Roger Derflinger, her current real estate agent.

"The offers come quick," Valladares said. "It's the bank that's slow."

Staff researcher Alice R. Crites contributed to this report.


18) Structure of Excuses
September 26, 2010

What can be done about mass unemployment? All the wise heads agree: there are no quick or easy answers. There is work to be done, but workers aren't ready to do it - they're in the wrong places, or they have the wrong skills. Our problems are "structural," and will take many years to solve.

But don't bother asking for evidence that justifies this bleak view. There isn't any. On the contrary, all the facts suggest that high unemployment in America is the result of inadequate demand - full stop. Saying that there are no easy answers sounds wise, but it's actually foolish: our unemployment crisis could be cured very quickly if we had the intellectual clarity and political will to act.

In other words, structural unemployment is a fake problem, which mainly serves as an excuse for not pursuing real solutions.

Who are these wise heads I'm talking about? The most widely quoted figure is Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, who has attracted a lot of attention by insisting that dealing with high unemployment isn't a Fed responsibility: "Firms have jobs, but can't find appropriate workers. The workers want to work, but can't find appropriate jobs," he asserts, concluding that "It is hard to see how the Fed can do much to cure this problem."

Now, the Minneapolis Fed is known for its conservative outlook, and claims that unemployment is mainly structural do tend to come from the right of the political spectrum. But some people on the other side of the aisle say similar things. For example, former President Bill Clinton recently told an interviewer that unemployment remained high because "people don't have the job skills for the jobs that are open."

Well, I'd respectfully suggest that Mr. Clinton talk to researchers at the Roosevelt Institute and the Economic Policy Institute, both of which have recently released important reports completely debunking claims of a surge in structural unemployment.

After all, what should we be seeing if statements like those of Mr. Kocherlakota or Mr. Clinton were true? The answer is, there should be significant labor shortages somewhere in America - major industries that are trying to expand but are having trouble hiring, major classes of workers who find their skills in great demand, major parts of the country with low unemployment even as the rest of the nation suffers.

None of these things exist. Job openings have plunged in every major sector, while the number of workers forced into part-time employment in almost all industries has soared. Unemployment has surged in every major occupational category. Only three states, with a combined population not much larger than that of Brooklyn, have unemployment rates below 5 percent.

Oh, and where are these firms that "can't find appropriate workers"? The National Federation of Independent Business has been surveying small businesses for many years, asking them to name their most important problem; the percentage citing problems with labor quality is now at an all-time low, reflecting the reality that these days even highly skilled workers are desperate for employment.

So all the evidence contradicts the claim that we're mainly suffering from structural unemployment. Why, then, has this claim become so popular?

Part of the answer is that this is what always happens during periods of high unemployment - in part because pundits and analysts believe that declaring the problem deeply rooted, with no easy answers, makes them sound serious.

I've been looking at what self-proclaimed experts were saying about unemployment during the Great Depression; it was almost identical to what Very Serious People are saying now. Unemployment cannot be brought down rapidly, declared one 1935 analysis, because the work force is "unadaptable and untrained. It cannot respond to the opportunities which industry may offer." A few years later, a large defense buildup finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy's needs - and suddenly industry was eager to employ those "unadaptable and untrained" workers.

But now, as then, powerful forces are ideologically opposed to the whole idea of government action on a sufficient scale to jump-start the economy. And that, fundamentally, is why claims that we face huge structural problems have been proliferating: they offer a reason to do nothing about the mass unemployment that is crippling our economy and our society.

So what you need to know is that there is no evidence whatsoever to back these claims. We aren't suffering from a shortage of needed skills; we're suffering from a lack of policy resolve. As I said, structural unemployment isn't a real problem, it's an excuse - a reason not to act on America's problems at a time when action is desperately needed.


19) Jewish Activists Set Sail From Cyprus for Gaza, Aiming to Defy Israeli Blockade
September 26, 2010

FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus (Reuters) - A group of Jewish activists set sail for Gaza on Sunday in an effort to defy an Israeli sea blockade and highlight the suffering of Palestinians who live in the territory.

Nine activists from Israel, Britain, Germany and the United States left the port here in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus with a small quantity of aid aboard their catamaran, Irene, which sailed under a British flag. Uninterrupted, the trip to Gaza, which is about 220 miles from Famagusta, would take about 24 hours.

The group said they were taking a symbolic load of medicine, a water-purifying kit and other humanitarian aid.

Its oldest member is an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor, Reuven Moskovitz. "Israel doesn't have moral borders," Mr. Moskovitz said. "I'm going because I am a survivor. When I was in a ghetto and almost died, I hoped there would be human beings who would show compassion and help."

Rami Elhanan, an Israeli peace activist whose 14-year-old daughter, Smadar, was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in 1997, said: "I want to raise my voice against evil and draw attention to 1.5 million people under siege. This is inhuman."

Israel, whose Gaza policies have been under international scrutiny since its marines killed nine Turkish activists in fighting aboard an aid ship on May 31, dismissed the Irene mission as a "provocation."

"If they were serious about wanting to transfer aid to Gaza, they could easily do so after undergoing a screening for smuggled weaponry," an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Andy David, said, referring to ports in Israel and Egypt that have received cargo that was sent over land to the Palestinians after screening.

Asked whether Israel's navy would try to turn back or intercept the Jewish activists, Mr. David would not comment.

Since the fatal boarding of the Turkish ship, Israel has eased land crossing into Gaza but maintains the naval blockade in what it says is an effort to stop the smuggling of arms to Hamas guerrilla fighters in Gaza.

But the Irene's captain, Glyn Secker, a 60-year-old Briton, called the scaling back of the restrictions "very small."

"Gaza is very much a barricaded society with a lot of suffering," he said.

Famagusta itself has resonance for many Jews. Hundreds of them were interned in camps here from 1946 to 1948 by Britain's colonial administrators, who ruled Cyprus at the time, as they tried to head to what was then Palestine, which was also under British rule.

Famagusta is now in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, a breakaway state that is recognized only by Ankara. Ports in southern Cyprus, an area under Greek Cypriot control, were used to launch Gaza-bound activists from 2008 to mid-2009, but Greek Cypriot authorities have banned the sailings.


20) Panel Criticizes BP's Spill Inquiry
September 26, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) - Engineering experts looking into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill exposed holes in BP's internal investigation as the company was questioned Sunday for the first time in public about its findings.

BP's lead investigator acknowledged that the company's inquiry had limitations.

Mark Bly, head of safety and operations for BP, told a National Academy of Engineering committee that a lack of physical evidence and interviews with employees from other companies limited BP's study.

The internal team looked only at the immediate cause of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April, which killed 11 workers and unleashed 206 million gallons of oil into the gulf.

"It is clear that you could go further into the analysis," said Mr. Bly, who said the investigation was geared toward discovering things that BP could address in the short term.

The committee noted that the study avoided organizational flaws that could have contributed to the explosion.

Najmedin Meshkati, a professor at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, said he wondered why BP named its report an accident investigation when it did not include some critical elements.

Professor Meshkati asked that BP turn over information on shift duration and worker fatigue.


21) Inmate Asks Court to Halt His Execution
September 26, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A death row inmate asked a federal appeals court on Sunday to halt his execution as he declined to choose a method for the lethal injection.

Lawyers for the inmate, Albert G. Brown, filed court papers to appeal a federal judge's refusal to block the execution, which is set for Wednesday. Mr. Brown also let pass a noon deadline set by the judge to choose between a one-drug lethal injection or execution by a three-drug cocktail.

Mr. Brown's refusal to choose means a three-drug cocktail will be used if the appeals court does not block his execution, which would be California's first in nearly five years. He was sentenced to die for abducting, raping and killing a 15-year-old, Susan Jordan of Riverside County, in 1980.

Judge Jeremy Fogel of United States District Court in San Jose denied Mr. Brown's two requests on Saturday to change his mind about going forward with the execution.

The judge initially delayed the execution in 2006 after finding that poorly trained officials carried out executions in a death chamber too cramped and dingy to protect the inmate from suffering "cruel and unusual" punishment while receiving a lethal injection. The state has since constructed a new death chamber and overhauled the selection and training of its execution team.

Mr. Brown's latest appeal will be heard by a panel of three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


22) U.S. Tries to Make It Easier to Wiretap the Internet
September 27, 2010

WASHINGTON - Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is "going dark" as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications - including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct "peer to peer" messaging like Skype - to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.

James X. Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet policy group, said the proposal had "huge implications" and challenged "fundamental elements of the Internet revolution" - including its decentralized design.

"They are really asking for the authority to redesign services that take advantage of the unique, and now pervasive, architecture of the Internet," he said. "They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function."

But law enforcement officials contend that imposing such a mandate is reasonable and necessary to prevent the erosion of their investigative powers.

"We're talking about lawfully authorized intercepts," said Valerie E. Caproni, general counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "We're not talking expanding authority. We're talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security."

Investigators have been concerned for years that changing communications technology could damage their ability to conduct surveillance. In recent months, officials from the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the National Security Agency, the White House and other agencies have been meeting to develop a proposed solution.

There is not yet agreement on important elements, like how to word statutory language defining who counts as a communications service provider, according to several officials familiar with the deliberations.

But they want it to apply broadly, including to companies that operate from servers abroad, like Research in Motion, the Canadian maker of BlackBerry devices. In recent months, that company has come into conflict with the governments of Dubai and India over their inability to conduct surveillance of messages sent via its encrypted service.

In the United States, phone and broadband networks are already required to have interception capabilities, under a 1994 law called the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act. It aimed to ensure that government surveillance abilities would remain intact during the evolution from a copper-wire phone system to digital networks and cellphones.

Often, investigators can intercept communications at a switch operated by the network company. But sometimes - like when the target uses a service that encrypts messages between his computer and its servers - they must instead serve the order on a service provider to get unscrambled versions.

Like phone companies, communication service providers are subject to wiretap orders. But the 1994 law does not apply to them. While some maintain interception capacities, others wait until they are served with orders to try to develop them.

The F.B.I.'s operational technologies division spent $9.75 million last year helping communication companies - including some subject to the 1994 law that had difficulties - do so. And its 2010 budget included $9 million for a "Going Dark Program" to bolster its electronic surveillance capabilities.

Beyond such costs, Ms. Caproni said, F.B.I. efforts to help retrofit services have a major shortcoming: the process can delay their ability to wiretap a suspect for months.

Moreover, some services encrypt messages between users, so that even the provider cannot unscramble them.

There is no public data about how often court-approved surveillance is frustrated because of a service's technical design.

But as an example, one official said, an investigation into a drug cartel earlier this year was stymied because smugglers used peer-to-peer software, which is difficult to intercept because it is not routed through a central hub. Agents eventually installed surveillance equipment in a suspect's office, but that tactic was "risky," the official said, and the delay "prevented the interception of pertinent communications."

Moreover, according to several other officials, after the failed Times Square bombing in May, investigators discovered that the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, had been communicating with a service that lacked prebuilt interception capacity. If he had aroused suspicion beforehand, there would have been a delay before he could have been wiretapped.

To counter such problems, officials are coalescing around several of the proposal's likely requirements:

¶ Communications services that encrypt messages must have a way to unscramble them.

¶ Foreign-based providers that do business inside the United States must install a domestic office capable of performing intercepts.

¶ Developers of software that enables peer-to-peer communication must redesign their service to allow interception.

Providers that failed to comply would face fines or some other penalty. But the proposal is likely to direct companies to come up with their own way to meet the mandates. Writing any statute in "technologically neutral" terms would also help prevent it from becoming obsolete, officials said.

Even with such a law, some gaps could remain. It is not clear how it could compel compliance by overseas services that do no domestic business, or from a "freeware" application developed by volunteers.

In their battle with Research in Motion, countries like Dubai have sought leverage by threatening to block BlackBerry data from their networks. But Ms. Caproni said the F.B.I. did not support filtering the Internet in the United States.

Still, even a proposal that consists only of a legal mandate is likely to be controversial, said Michael A. Sussmann, a former Justice Department lawyer who advises communications providers.

"It would be an enormous change for newly covered companies," he said. "Implementation would be a huge technology and security headache, and the investigative burden and costs will shift to providers."

Several privacy and technology advocates argued that requiring interception capabilities would create holes that would inevitably be exploited by hackers.

Steven M. Bellovin, a Columbia University computer science professor, pointed to an episode in Greece: In 2005, it was discovered that hackers had taken advantage of a legally mandated wiretap function to spy on top officials' phones, including the prime minister's.

"I think it's a disaster waiting to happen," he said. "If they start building in all these back doors, they will be exploited."

Susan Landau, a Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study fellow and former Sun Microsystems engineer, argued that the proposal would raise costly impediments to innovation by small startups.

"Every engineer who is developing the wiretap system is an engineer who is not building in greater security, more features, or getting the product out faster," she said.

Moreover, providers of services featuring user-to-user encryption are likely to object to watering it down. Similarly, in the late 1990s, encryption makers fought off a proposal to require them to include a back door enabling wiretapping, arguing it would cripple their products in the global market.

But law enforcement officials rejected such arguments. They said including an interception capability from the start was less likely to inadvertently create security holes than retrofitting it after receiving a wiretap order.

They also noted that critics predicted that the 1994 law would impede cellphone innovation, but that technology continued to improve. And their envisioned decryption mandate is modest, they contended, because service providers - not the government - would hold the key.

"No one should be promising their customers that they will thumb their nose at a U.S. court order," Ms. Caproni said. "They can promise strong encryption. They just need to figure out how they can provide us plain text."


23) Number of Tenants Owing Back Rent Rises Sharply at City Housing Authority
September 26, 2010

In a sign of the toll the dismal economy has taken on working families in New York, more than 1 in 10 households living in public housing owe at least one month in back rent, a rise of nearly 50 percent over the past year.

Though the city has always had to deal with a number of public housing tenants who are chronically late with their rent, housing officials are now confronting a significant rise in longtime tenants who never before missed a payment but are falling behind, in many cases because they have lost their jobs.

Across the city, tenants of nearly 22,000 public housing apartments, or about 12 percent of the total, owed back rent as of Aug. 31, according to the New York City Housing Authority, which runs the largest public housing system in the United States. The comparable figure in August 2009 was about 15,200.

"When you have, like any landlord, a laser-beam focus on rent collection, you sometimes miss the bigger picture," said John B. Rhea, the housing authority's chairman. "What's happening is that we're seeing substantial increases in the number of people not paying their rent on time."

The problem is the worst in Queens, where the number of households owing back rent increased nearly 70 percent between August 2009 and last month, to 2,424 from 1,431. In six of the public housing developments in the western part of the borough, more tenants missed payments than anyplace else in the city, according to Housing Authority statistics. At the Astoria Houses, for example, the number more than doubled, to 157 households from 64; the latest number is 14 percent of the development's 1,103 apartments.

It does not take much to send a family over the edge. For Shonette Conners, 39, it was the birth of a child. For Denise Haynes, 54, it was not getting paid at her part-time job when complications from her diabetes forced her to miss work on several occasions over the past two years.

"It's like the more I try, the more I fall behind," said Ms. Haynes, who lives alone at the Astoria Houses and owes about $2,000 in back rent. Ms. Conners and Ms. Haynes have both appeared in housing court, asking a judge for more time to settle their debt and avoid eviction. The housing agency, which provides subsidized apartments for about 8 percent of the city's residents, usually moves quickly to remove tenants who fall behind on rent.

But as the sluggish economy continues to eat into tenants' pocketbooks, the agency has decided to try to find a way to keep people in their homes. Under a program it is announcing on Monday, it will start offering payment plans, longer extensions and other incentives to help tenants pay their back rent before they end up in court.

The program is aimed mainly at residents who are unable to keep up with their bills after losing a job or are facing other unforeseen difficulty. The idea is to reward those who commit to actions like following budget plans and opening a bank account.

"We want to see if we can help people get out of the hole," Mr. Rhea said.

In most cases, after a tenant fails to pay rent for more than a month, a disciplinary process unfolds that is at once costly and cumbersome for the Housing Authority and stressful for the resident.

The authority spends about $1 million a year issuing warning notices and holding administrative hearings, Mr. Rhea said, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more that it spends on lawyers representing the agency in housing court. There is also the money it does not collect in rent while evictions are under way, he said.

"The process is necessary, but it doesn't necessarily give the residents the tools they need to manage their lives better," Mr. Rhea said in an interview. "And at the end of the day, our goal is to provide housing, not to put people out on the street."

Rent is the Housing Authority's largest source of revenue, but it is also one of its worst headaches. Sheila Stainback, a spokeswoman for the agency, said that in an average month, the authority is owed more than $20 million in uncollected rent.

As the economy sputtered, officials started weighing whether it might be in the Housing Authority's best interest to get some payment from tenants who are struggling while working to make sure they eventually get back on their feet.

The program will start on a small basis, focusing on tenants in six public housing projects in Queens with some of the worst records for missed payments, and may expand citywide if it is judged to be a success.

Potential participants include tenants who have stopped paying rent abruptly after years of regular payment or who have been late sporadically in recent years, as well as residents already seeking financial assistance from one of the Housing Authority's partners in the program, the East River Development Alliance, a nonprofit agency in Queens.

The alliance's president, the Rev. Mitchell G. Taylor, senior pastor of the nondenominational church Center of Hope International, said that beyond figuring out what caused people to stop paying rent, the program's goals involved "creating a plan and budget that will stabilize families moving forward."

The other partner in the program is the United Way of New York City, which also coaxed the Housing Authority to try a new approach. Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr., whose district includes some of the housing developments with high rates of missed rent payments, provided $150,000 in Council funds for the program.

"I'm not in favor of handouts, and this program is not a handout," Mr. Vallone said. "It's about personal responsibility. It's about people taking control of their finances."

The goal of the pilot program is to reach 2,000 people in the two years at Astoria Houses, Baisley Park Houses in Jamaica, Pomonok Houses in Flushing, Woodside Houses and the Ravenswood and Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City.

Ms. Conners, who has lived at the Astoria Houses for eight years, said her troubles began after her son was born in May 2009 and she had to rely on disability checks to cover her expenses while on maternity leave from a job as a medical biller at a nonprofit AIDS center. She has three other children - one in college, one in high school and one in middle school.

By law, public housing residents are supposed to pay only one-third of their income in rent, but Ms. Conners said it took the Housing Authority three months to adjust her payments when her income fell because she was on leave. Then in November, shortly after she returned to work, the nonprofit agency laid her off.

Ms. Conners has been collecting unemployment benefits and said she set aside a little every month to pay the $1,000 she owed in back rent. The East River Development Alliance helped her redo her résumé and budget her expenses. She is working toward an online accounting degree and is seeking work.

"If I know that I won't have the threat of eviction hanging over my head," Ms. Conners said, "at least I'll sleep in peace."


24) Most Americans Don't Think Recession Is Over
September 27, 2010, 12:47 pm

The National Bureau of Economic Research declared last week that the recession officially ended in June 2009. But according to a new poll from CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, Americans overwhelmingly disagree.

Nearly three-fourths of Americans - 74 percent - say the economy is still in a recession. That's a slight improvement from December, when 84 percent of those polled said they believed the economy was in a a recession, but it still discouraging.
Source: CNN/Opinion Research Corporation. Latest survey conducted September 21-23, 2010, with 1,010 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

So what's the deal? How can economists be so out of touch with the suffering of "regular" people? Or how can non-economists be so ignorant about what's really going on in the world around them?

One possible reason for the disconnect between popular views and the official economists' view of the country's "recession" status is semantic.

Economists and laypeople mean different things when they use the word "recession": To most people, it refers to the level of economic activity. To economists, it refers to the change in economic activity.

That is, most people associate a poor economy - that is, low levels of spending, high levels of unemployment - with the word "recession." They use the word to refer to times when the country just feels lousy.

But economists use the term "recession" to talk about the economy's direction. Regardless of whether the level of economic activity is good or poor, is the economy shrinking, or is it growing? The National Bureau of Economic Research says that the economy stopped shrinking in June 2009. Then it started growing again, even though the pitifully slow pace of growth still meant the level of economic activity was horribly depressed.

Here's a look at absolute levels of gross domestic product to give you a sense of what I'm talking about. Output has been rising for the last year, but absolute levels of economic activity are still low relative to their levels before the recession had begun:
Bureau of Economic Analysis, via Haver

The economists at the agency's Business Cycle Dating Committee took pains to make this clarification, writing: "In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month."

So when non-economists and economists disagree about the label for current economic conditions, they may just be talking past each other.

Addendum: There is also debate within the economics community about whether it makes sense to change the criteria for determining when the economy is shrinking, because in the last three recoveries output has reversed course much earlier than the job market has. But that is a separate issue.


25) Weighing the Lives of Babies in Haiti
September 27, 2010

We were 18 doctors, nurses and other health professionals from Children's Hospital Boston, on a nine-day mission to the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince to work with a Haitian pediatric team.

It was the first week of May, almost four months after the earthquake, and the situation remained dire. Rubble was everywhere, many buildings were unusable, and all of the pediatric care was being given in tents. Supplies were sparse and unreliable.

The obstetricians at the General were on strike, and women in labor were being told to go elsewhere. But word had gotten out that there were American doctors at the hospital, and many patients simply refused to leave.

So it was on that rainy Sunday evening that there were six women in active labor in the emergency room. And soon one of them, in her late teens, gave birth to a tiny boy, just 2 pounds 3 ounces. A neonatologist on our team estimated that he was two months premature. (The mother claimed she hadn't even known she was pregnant.)

Premature babies can get into a lot of trouble, and the smaller they are, the higher their risk of complications. They usually have difficulty maintaining a normal body temperature, losing heat to their surroundings faster than they can generate it. This is why they are kept in incubators until they are able to stay warm on their own. They are at high risk for infections, along with feeding and breathing problems.

Once the baby was born, we dried and swaddled him and started looking for a place where he could be cared for until he was stable enough to be sent home. There were no working incubators at the hospital, nor any free beds in the pediatric tents, and we had no luck finding incubators at other hospitals.

Then an American physician at another medical camp told us that he had faced a similar situation some days before, and had built his own incubator - "MacGyver" style, as he put it. He suggested we do the same.

So that's what we did. We took a cardboard box from the medical supply room, padded it with some surgical drapes and a blanket and found a desk lamp with a working bulb to serve as a source of heat. Voilà! Our youngest patient now had an incubator.

The next morning we tried to persuade the attending Haitian pediatrician to accept the baby to the pediatric tents. "Don't be absurd!" she scoffed, as I recall. "A baby that small will not make it. He has no chance of survival, and we have no spare beds to waste."

None of us felt comfortable arguing with her. Still, we knew that to send the baby to his mother's tent city while he was still so vulnerable would be a death sentence. So we decided to keep him and his mother in the emergency room until a proper place could be found - understanding that we needed to find a solution before returning to Boston, as the group that would follow us did not include pediatricians qualified to treat complications of prematurity.

A baby bottle was found, along with clothes and diapers. The nurses taught his mother how to express milk into the bottle and to feed him. We'd been calling him "baby in the box"; now he became Jack, as in Jack in the box. He did very well, and his mother, after overcoming her surprise at his unexpected appearance, bonded with and cared for him devotedly.

Each day we pressed his case to the Haitian medical team, and each day we were turned down. "There is no room for him," we were told, though there seemed to be beds for other children in the pediatric tents.

Finally, on Friday, we found an incubator for him at another hospital. We transferred him and his mother there, satisfied that we had gotten him through those first few days, but soberly aware of the odds he faced going forward. The next day we left for Boston.

Six weeks after our return, at an informal reunion, the neonatologist told us he had learned that Jack had been discharged home with his mother in good health, weighing five and a half pounds.

We were thrilled. Our stubbornness had paid off.

But our euphoria was tempered by a somber reality. Looking at the big picture, we had to concede that the Haitian doctors were probably right.

We were in Port-au-Prince, after all, not Boston. Surely the Haitians, acutely aware of what they could and could not do with the resources they had, would know better than a group of well-intentioned foreigners accustomed to the best equipment money can buy. Didn't it make more sense to invest time, effort and scarce resources in a baby with a better chance of surviving?

Yet ultimately this was not an abstract discussion about the proper allocation of medical resources in an impoverished country, but a decision about the fate of a baby who was very much alive. He was our patient, and we were determined to give him the best possible care.

In the little-picture view, a life had been saved.

Dr. Dennis Rosen is a pediatric pulmonologist at Children's Hospital Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.


26) Liberal Groups Planning to Rally on National Mall
September 26, 2010

Hoping to overshadow last month’s large rally led by Glenn Beck that drew many Tea Party advocates and other conservatives, a coalition of liberal groups plan to descend on Washington on Saturday to make the case that they, and not the ascendant right, speak for America’s embattled middle class.

Predicting a crowd of more than 100,000, some 300 liberal groups — including the N.A.A.C.P., the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the National Council of La Raza and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force — are sponsoring a march on Saturday in the hope of transforming the national conversation so it focuses less on the Tea Party. The groups sponsoring the rally, which is called “One Nation Working Together,” say they hope to supplant what they say is the Tea Party’s divisiveness with a message of unity to promote jobs, justice and education.

“The Tea Party has been getting much more media attention than it deserves, and it’s been saying it represents the voice of middle-class America,” said George Gresham, president of 1199 S.E.I.U., a New York health care union local, who says his union has chartered 500 buses to carry 25,000 union members to the rally. “A lot of us feel we have to get a different voice out there speaking for working people, one respecting the diversity of this country, which the Tea Party does not.”

With so many civil rights, labor, religious, student, gay and peace groups sponsoring the march, organizers acknowledge that it was not easy to forge a common platform and message. And sometimes their message has gotten garbled.

Many sponsors say that the rally is not seeking to back President Obama or the Democrats, but rather to hold all of Washington, Democrats and Republicans, accountable for not doing more to fix the nation’s problems. But some sponsors sound unmistakably partisan as they denounce “obstructionism” in the Senate that has blocked larger job-creation programs and other measures. While these sponsors steer clear of mentioning Republicans, their target seems obvious.

The march’s supporters say that they, and not Mr. Beck, are the true descendants of the 1963 March on Washington, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. The Saturday march, like the 1963 march — and the Aug. 28 gathering that Mr. Beck and others organized — will be held on the National Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

“We’ll look like the progeny of that march, with our diversity,” said Benjamin T. Jealous, president of the N.A.A.C.P. “We’re living through a moment of decreasing prosperity and increasing diversity. That’s a formula for a battleground, not common ground. We say, ‘Let’s get the country moving back to common ground.’ ”

Mr. Jealous and Mr. Gresham, the two men who originally proposed the march, say they hope it will be larger than Mr. Beck’s rally. “We believe that our satellite photos will stack up nicely to his satellite photos,” Mr. Jealous said.

Organizers of the rally say their demonstration complements, rather than competes with, the Rally to Restore Sanity that the host of “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart, has announced for Washington on Oct. 30. Those behind next Saturday’s rally assert that their event shares themes with Mr. Stewart’s in opposing Tea Party negativism and extremism. Saying he was all for restoring sanity, Mr. Gresham said he would be happy to have Mr. Stewart speak at the event this weekend.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “We hope that those who are supporting Stewart will also join us,” adding: “We know what makes the headlines is conflict. We know what we need is to work together to solve problems.”

Mr. Stewart, Mr. Beck and spokesmen for the Tea Party Patriots did not respond to requests for comment.

The rally’s platform looks like a liberal wish list: extend unemployment benefits, raise the minimum wage, end the foreclosure epidemic, enact legislation making it easier to join unions, increase infrastructure spending to create jobs, “fix our broke immigration system” and end immigration round-ups that “encourage racial profiling.” The march’s sponsors hope it will help turn some of these wishes into legislative reality, in part by giving the Democrats some highly visible and clamorous backing to push through stalled legislation.

“Our rally is standing up for the change we voted for two years ago,” Mr. Gresham said.

Janet Murguía, president of National Council of La Raza, said the rally was nonpartisan, although it aims to encourage more people to engage in the electoral process. But Mr. Gresham said he hoped the march would build momentum for candidates who back the demonstrators’ goals, and those generally do not include Republican candidates.

The march has been endorsed by the United Church of Christ, the National Baptist Convention and several Jewish organizations, while the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society has endorsed its principles.

“As people of faith, we deeply care about the issues of justice, education and jobs, and we feel those are issues facing society we have to address,” said the Rev. Amy Stapleton, a Methodist minister. “A march like this is something that hasn’t been accomplished since Dr. King brought people together in 1963 around issues of race, war, class and the right to decent pay and good jobs.”

An article on Monday about a coalition of liberal groups planning a rally in Washington on Saturday, using information provided by a high-level minister for the United Methodist Church, referred incorrectly to the church's role in the event. A board within the United Methodist Church has endorsed the principles of the rally, but the overall church has not endorsed the rally. Also, after the article was published, the church's director of communications said that the minister, the Rev. Amy Stapleton, was not speaking on behalf of the church.


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