Tuesday, September 21, 2010


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:




ILWU Local 10
Henry Schmidt Room
400 North Point, SF
Please send in all endorsements for the rally from unions, community organizations, political organizations and churches to:
We'll be doing a new rally flyer and need this information ASAP.
Jack Heyman

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

Whereas, the 1934 General Strike was initiated after the murder of 2 strikers by police during the West Coast Maritime Strike; 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 the San Francisco Labor Council 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 by communicating their endorsement and the time and place of the rally to affiliated unions, area labor councils and community allies through Fax Blast and other means;

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All.


Berkeley, CA: Robert Fisk "Lies, Misreporting, and Catastrophe in the Middle East"
Wednesday, September 22, 7:00pm

The Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) presents the intrepid, witty and courageous author ROBERT FISK "one of the most famous journalists in the world" speaking on "Lies, Misreporting, and Catastrophe in the Middle East"

Fisk will be interviewed by scholar-activist DR. HATEM BAZIAN

Winner of countless journalism awards and three honorary doctorates, Beirut-based Robert Fisk has reported from the Middle East for over 30 years, covering 11 major wars.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 7pm
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way (@ Dana)6 blocks from Downtown Berkeley BART

**Tickets available for Special Reception with Fisk as well!**

Tickets: $15 general, $10 students/low income
$50 includes post-event reception plus reserved event seating in front rows.


Only $15 tickets at area bookstores: (East Bay) Books Inc., Diesel, Moe's Books, Pegasus/Solano, Pegasus/Shattuck, Walden Pond (SF) Modern Times.

Benefit for children in Palestine & Lebanon. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Wheelchair accessible, ASL interpreted

For info: 510-548-0542, events@mecaforpeace.org


[VIDEO] Balloons invade UC Berkeley on the first day of classes building for Oct. 7th Strike! Education 4 the People!

October 7 Day of Action in Defense of Public Education - California


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

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

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

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


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

Please join the google group today.

* Group home page: http://groups.google.com/group/fallconferencesfsu


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 www.mostdangerousman.org, 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, rgoldfilm@aol.com.


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

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat + www.freeahmadsaadat.org + info@freeahmadsaadat.org

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.

sf@worldcantwait.org (415) 864-5153 sfbaycantwait.org www.myspace.com/sfbaycantwait
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, jackheyman@comcast.net


[SEND ENDORSEMENTS TO: jackheyman@comcast.net]

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




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 site...bw]
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 www.DiabloValleyfilmFestival.com 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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkOCIx6JAd8

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! www.MOVE9parole.blogspot.com


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

http://www.petitiononline.com/manning1/petition.html (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: www.FedCURE.org and www.FAMM.org

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, wgozan@aiusa.org.

(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 www.amnestyusa.org/troydavis.

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. Amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/001/2000.)

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

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.
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTiAkbB5uC0&eurl
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

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

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to
http://www.al-awda.org/donate.html and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


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


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) U.S. Prisons, Muslims and Human Rights Violations
By Bonnie Kerness
September 3, 2010

2) Letter to the DREAM Movement:
My Painful Withdrawal of Support for the DREAM Act
by Raúl Al-qaraz Ochoa
17 September 2010

3) Harah!: Israeli Company Hired by State Government to Spy on Pennsylvanians
By Dave Lindorff
September 18, 2010

4) Science and the Gulf
NYT Editorial
September 19, 2010

5) Report Says F.B.I. Gave Inaccurate Information on Surveillance at Rally
September 20, 2010

6) Haitians Cry in Letters: 'Please - Do Something!'
September 19, 2010

7) 5 U.S. Soldiers Accused of Killing Afghan Civilians
September 19, 2010

8) For the Unemployed Over 50, Fears of Never Working Again
September 19, 2010

9) U.S. Says BP Well Is Finally 'Dead'
September 19, 2010

10) Report Says Drilling Ban Had Little Effect
September 16, 2010

11) The Meat Eaters
September 19, 2010, 5:35 pm

12) Exclusive! New Test Shows Key Witnesses Lied at Abu-Jamal Trial; Sidewalk Murder Scene Should Have Displayed Bullet Impacts
By Anonymous
Created 09/20/2010 - 10:58
by: Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington

13) Extreme Heat Bleaches Coral, and Threat Is Seen
September 20, 2010

14) On a Clock, a Grim Toll of Mothers
September 20, 2010

15) Family Fight, Border Patrol Raid, Baby Deported
September 20, 2010

16) Recession May Be Over, but Joblessness Remains
September 20, 2010

17) Jobless Rate Rises in 27 States
September 21, 2010, 11:06 am


1) U.S. Prisons, Muslims and Human Rights Violations
By Bonnie Kerness
September 3, 2010

In 1986, I received a letter from Ojore Lutalo who had just been placed in the Management Control Unit at Trenton State Prison in New Jersey. He asked what a control unit was, why he was in there and how long he would have to stay. We knew little of control units then, except what we learned from the many prisoners who reached out to the AFSC to mentor those of us trying to give voice to what was - and is still - happening.

Today the continued use of these instruments of torture coupled with the persistent misunderstanding and mislabeling of prisoners as Muslim extremist threatens the security of Americans both inside and outside prison walls, and eats away the moral and spiritual compass that purports to drive American justice.

After Ojore's letter, we began hearing from people throughout the country saying that they were prisoners being held in extended isolation for political reasons. We heard from jailhouse lawyers, and prisoner activists, many of whom were Muslim who found themselves targeted and locked down in 24/7 solitary confinement. The AFSC began contacting people inside and outside the prisons to collect testimonies of what was going on in those isolation units which by definition are forms of torture. We had no idea how many people were experiencing this, the conditions in those units and how many control units there were.

One woman wrote "the guard sprayed me with pepper spray because I wouldn't take my clothes off in front of five male guards. They carried me to my isolation cell, laid me down on a steel bed and took my clothes off, leaving me with that pepper spray burning my face."

Some of the saddest letters are from prisoners writing on behalf of their mentally ill peers like the man who spread feces over his body. The guards' response to this was to put him in a bath so hot it boiled 30 percent of the skin off him.

"How do you describe desperation to someone who is not desperate?" began a letter to me from Ojore Lutalo. He described everyone in the Trenton Control Unit being awakened at 1 a.m. every other morning by guards dressed in riot gear and holding barking dogs. Then the prisoners were forced to strip, gather their belongings while the dogs strained at their leashes and snapped at their private parts. He described being terrorized, intimidated, and the humiliation of being naked and not knowing whether the masked guards were male or female.

If we think back to slavery and to images of the modern Civil Rights Movement, we understand that dogs have been used as a device of torture in the U.S. for hundreds of years.

These testimonies and more are from men, women and children being held in isolation and experiencing the use of devices of torture in human cages where there are few witnesses.

I have received thousands of descriptions and drawings of four- and five-point restraints, restraint hoods, restraint belts, restraint beds, stun grenades, stun guns, stun belts, spit hoods, chain gangs, black boxes, tethers, waist and leg chains.

Control units first surfaced during the 1960s and 70s, when many in my generation genuinely believed that each of us was free to dissent politically. In those years, people acted out this belief in a number of ways. Native peoples contributed to the formation of the American Indian Movement dedicated to self determination. Puerto Ricans joined the movement to free the island from US colonialism. Whites formed the Students for a Democratic Society and more anti-imperialist groups, while others worked in the southern Civil Rights movements. The Black Panther Party was formed. And there was a rise in the prisoner rights movement. Nightly television news had graphic pictures of State Troopers, Police, the FBI, and the National Guard killing our peers.

I saw on the evening news coverage of the murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton shot in his sleep by police, and coverage of the killings by National Guard members of young people protesting the Viet Nam War on the Jackson and Kent State Universities campuses. Other civil rights workers were killed with impunity, so many that we felt there was no opportunity to stop mourning because each day another activist was dead. These killings and other acts of oppression led to underground formations such as the Black Liberation Army.

In response to this massive outcry against social inequities and for national liberation, the federal government utilized "Counter Intelligence Programs" called COINTELPRO conducted by a dozen agencies, which aimed to cripple the Black Panther Party and other radical forces. Over the years that these directives were carried out, many of those targeted young people were put in prisons across the country. Some, now in their 60s and 70s, are still there.

While the U.S. denied that there were people being held for political reasons, there was no way to work with prisoners without hearing repeatedly of the existence of such people, and the particular treatment they endured once imprisoned. As early as 1978, Andrew Young, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was widely quoted saying, "there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of people I would describe as political prisoners" in U.S. prisons.

Across the nation, we saw an enhanced use of sensory deprivation units often called "control units" for such people in an attempt to instill behavior modification. It was this growing "special treatment" which we began monitoring. At the time, a former warden at Marion, Illinois, said at a congressional hearing, "The purpose of the Marion Control Unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and in society at large."

People throughout the world are beginning to understand what the prisoners have been saying to us for decades about the oppressive, war-like tactics of the U.S. government toward criticism or resistance. People in prison have warned us that what happens inside finds its way out here.

In a May 5th 2009 article in The Trentonian, Afsheen Shamsi of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says that their coalition "is upset over what it says is increasing surveillance in mosques." The group reflects the concerns of Muslims who have grown tired of being stopped at airports, constant questioning and relentless security years after the attacks of 9/11.

The department of corrections system is more than a set of institutions; it is a state of mind. It is that state of mind which expanded the use of isolation, the use of devices of torture, the Counter Intelligence Programs, and the Department of Homeland Security, against activists, both inside and outside the walls.

Ojore, who first contacted us in 1986, exemplifies the history of control units and the misperceptions of all Islam as a threat. He was released from the control unit via litigation in 2002, after 16 years in isolation. In 2004, he was placed back into isolation with no explanation. When I called the N.J. Department of Corrections, I was told that this was upon the request of Homeland Security. In a 2008 Classification decision, this was confirmed in writing which said the Department "continues to show concern regarding your admitted affiliation with the Black Liberation Army. Your radical views and ability to influence others poses a threat to the orderly operation of this Institution."

After a total of 22 years in isolation, Ojore was released from prison in August of 2009 via court order. On January 26th 2010, he was disappeared from an Amtrak train, accused of "endangering public transportation" and arrested in La Junta, Colorado. Because of his unusual name, newspaper articles had him being Muslim and talking about Al Qaeda neither of which were true. A judge dismissed all charges one week later.

Control units' latest mutations are as "security threat group management units." This egregious designation is beyond offensive because it is the government which gets to define "security threat group."

According to a national survey done by the U.S.Department of Justice, the Departments of Corrections of Minnesota and Oregon named all Asians as gangs, which Minnesota further compounds by adding all Native Americans. New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania go on to list various Islamic groups as gangs.

The "Communications Management Units" in federal prisons use isolation to restrict the communication of imprisoned Muslims with their families, the media and the outside world.

In 2004, four Islamic prisoners in California were indicted on charges which included conspiracy to levy war against the U.S. government. One result of this was a 2006 report called "Out of The Shadows: Getting Ahead of Prisoner Radicalization" by George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute. The report states that the "potential for radicalization of prison inmates poses a threat of unknown magnitude to the national security of the United States," noting that "every radicalized prisoner becomes a potential terrorist threat." The report states that it focuses, "in particular on religious radicalization in conjunction with the practice of Islam."

Also in 2006, USAToday reported that the FBI and Homeland Security were "urging prison administrators to set up more intelligence units in state prisons, with an emphasis on background checks to ensure that extremist Muslim clerics don't have access with prisoners."

For those of us who've monitored U.S. prisons over decades, the targeting of radicalization, the targeting of specific groups, the surveillance and infiltration of those groups feels very familiar. There can be no doubt that Islam is being targeted. In one recent case concerning four Islamic men, known as the Newburgh 4, the judge herself noted that " 'Equal Justice Under the Law' are words that can be found on many courthouses, but far too often, where it applies to the socially and or politically marginalized, these are words devoid of meaning."

The U.S. government continues to lock down people for their beliefs, and is still seeking to identify those who have the potential to politically radicalize others. After each Homeland Security Code change, Prison Watch is flooded with calls from people reporting Islamic loved ones being removed from general prison population and placed in isolation.

I have no doubt that Islam itself is suspect to the U.S. government, and that any Muslim, no matter how law abiding, is suspect. Our work today needs to be embedded in struggle against this system and its continued use of isolation and torture as a tool of behavior modification, religious and political repression.

How U.S. prisons function violates the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and a host of other international treaties.

The AFSC recognizes the existence and continued expansion of the penal system as a profound spiritual crisis. It is a crisis that allows children to be demonized. It is a crisis which legitimizes torture, isolation and the abuse of power. It is a crisis which extends beyond prisons into school and judicial systems. I know each time we send a child to bed hungry that is violence. That wealth concentrated in the hands of a few at the expense of many is violence; that the denial of dignity based on race, class or religion is violence. And that poverty and prisons are a form of state-manifested violence created by public policy.

I've been part of the struggle for civil and human rights in this country for over 45 years. We need to alter the very core of every system that slavery, white supremacy and poverty has given birth to, particularly the criminal justice system. The United States must stop violating the human rights of men, women and children. US policies including solitary confinement, and use of devices or torture have nothing to do with safe and orderly operation of prisons or society and everything to do with the spread of a culture of retribution, dehumanization. The restriction of civil rights is something we can and should debate regularly as a society. The violation of human rights, and fundamental human decency, simply is not negotiable.

Bonnie Kerness

Coordinator Prison Watch Project

Healing and Transformative Justice Program

New York Metropolitan Region

American Friends Service Committee

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

www.Freedomarchives.org Questions and comments may be sent to claude@freedomarchives.org


2) Letter to the DREAM Movement:
My Painful Withdrawal of Support for the DREAM Act
by Raúl Al-qaraz Ochoa
17 September 2010

I have supported the DREAM Act, despite my critiques and concerns over the military service component. In fact, I was one of the arrestees at the sit-in at John McCain's office in Tucson, AZ; an act of civil disobedience where four brave undocumented students risked deportation and put the DREAM Movement back in the national political stage. I made peace with my participation because I felt I was supporting the self-determination of a movement led by undocumented youth and I felt we could subvert the component that was to feed undocumented youth into the military pipeline if we developed a plan to support youth to the college pathway.

First, let me say that I applaud and admire the tireless work you have all done for the past 10 years. Your commitment and dedication parallels giant student movements of the Civil Rights era. Your persistence in organizing even when the world turned their back on you is inspiring; your creativity in tactics, visuals and media strategy is amazing. Your movement gives hope to hundreds of students I have come across here in Arizona and beyond. It is because of your grassroots efforts-not the politicians' nor the national Hispanic organizations'-that the Dream is still alive and has come this far. As an organizer with permanent resident status privilege, let me assert that your cause for access to college and path to legalization is just. No one can tell you that what you are fighting for is wrong.

With that said, I want to share how I am deeply appalled and outraged at how Washington politics are manipulating and co-opting the dream. I understand that some folks may say, "we just want the DREAM Act to pass regardless", but it is critical to examine the political context surrounding DREAM in its current state. It is disturbing to see how Democrats are attaching our community's dreams for education/legalization to a defense appropriations bill. This is grotesque in a number of ways:

1) Democrats are using the DREAM Act as a political stunt to appeal to Latino voters for the November elections because it is seen as "less" threatening than a broad immigration reform. The Democrats have the political will to recently unite and pass a border militarization bill in a matter of hours ($600 million!), yet they won't pass a broader immigration reform? And now they are up for the DREAM Act? I'm glad they feel the pressure of the Latino voting bloc, but they obviously do not care about our lives, they only seek to secure their seats in November-which by the way look very jeopardized if they don't move quickly to energize their "base". They are also seeking to secure the gay vote with the gradual repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as part of this same defense bill. All in all, insincere, token political gestures only serve to stall real justice.

2) Democrats are telling me that if I support access to education for all my people, I must also support the U.S. war machine with $670 billion for the Pentagon? Does this mean I have to support the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan? By supporting the DREAM Act, does this mean I automatically give a green light for U.S. forces to continue invading, killing and raping innocent people all over the world? This is really unfair. Here in Arizona I struggle with a climate of fear and terror. Yet even though I am so far away, I hear the cries of Arab mothers who are losing their children in U.S. sponsored bombings and massacres. There's a knot in my throat because victims of U.S. aggression abroad look just like us... victims of U.S. aggression at home. This ugly and twisted political system is dividing us and coercing us into supporting the funding of more bloodshed and more destruction if we want the DREAM Act to pass. Does this mean that our dreams will rest upon the nightmares of people that suffer globally? Obviously, students that call their Senators are supporting their future NOT bloodshed abroad, but we have to be responsible to the larger political implications of this.

3) Democrats are vilifying and criminalizing our parents. A really insulting argument prominently used for passing the DREAM Act that I keep hearing over and over is that because undocumented students "didn't choose to come to the U.S. to break the laws of this country" you shouldn't have to pay for the "sins" or "illegal behavior" of your parents. Are they serious?!? It is not okay to allow legislation to pass that will stand on and disrespect the struggle, sacrifice and dignity of our parents. What about blaming U.S. led capitalist and imperialist policies as the reasons that create our "refugee" populations. Our parents' struggle is not for sale. We must not fall for or feed into the rhetoric that criminalizes us or our parents. We all want justice, but is it true justice if we have to sell out our own family members along the way?

Again, I support this fight-it's part of a larger community struggle. It's personal to all of us. Passage of the DREAM Act would definitely be a step forward in the struggle for Migrant Justice. Yet the politicians in Washington have hijacked this struggle from its original essence and turned dreams into ugly political nightmares. I refuse to be a part of anything that turns us into political pawns of dirty Washington politics. I want my people to be "legalized" but at what cost? We all want it bad. I hear it. I've lived it. but I think it's a matter of how much we're willing to compromise in order to win victories or crumbs.

This again proves how it is problematic to lobby the state and put all our efforts in legislation to pass. We should know that this political route is always filled with racism, opportunism, betrayals and nightmares. History repeats itself once again.

So if I support the DREAM Act, does this mean I am okay with our people being used as political pawns? Does this mean that my hands will be smeared with the same bloodshed the U.S. spills all over the world? Does this mean I am okay with blaming my mother and my father for migrating "illegally" to the U.S.? Am I willing to surrender to all that in exchange for a benefit? Maybe it's easier for me to say that "I can" because I have papers, right? I'd like to think that it's because my political principles will not allow me to do so, regardless of my citizenship status or personal benefit at stake. Strong movements that achieve greater victories are those that stand in solidarity with all oppressed people of the world and never gain access to rights at the expense of other oppressed groups.

I have come to a deeply painful decision: I can no longer in good political conscience support the DREAM Act because the essence of a beautiful dream has been detained by a colonial nightmare seeking to fund and fuel the U.S. empire machine.

I am so sorry and so enraged that this larger political context has deferred those dreams of justice and equality that we all share.

In tears, rage, love and sorrow,

Raúl Al-qaraz Ochoa


3) Harah!: Israeli Company Hired by State Government to Spy on Pennsylvanians
By Dave Lindorff
September 18, 2010

The surprise disclosure that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through its state Homeland Security Agency, along with a number of local police departments in the state, have been employing a private Israeli security company with strong links to Mossad and the Israeli Defense Force to spy on law-abiding citizens, grows increasingly disturbing when the website of the company, called the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, is examined.

ITRR's slick site at TerrorResponse.org [1] features a homepage image of an armor-clad soldier or riot policeman preparing to fire an automatic pistol, while the company boasts of being "the preeminent Isreal/American security firm, providing training, intelligence and education for clients across the globe."

The firm, which offers courses locally at the University of Philadelphia, notes that all its course offerings, some of which are taught in Israel, are "approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense." The course titles include such compelling topics as: "Tactical Advantage in Combat," "Civilian Battlefield," "Undercover/Plainclothes Tactical Operations," "Israeli Shooting Techniques," "Arena Combat," "Hard Entry (Arrest)" and "Principles of Night Operations." While a number of the titles link to course descriptions, the links to the undercover class and the civilian battlefield class were disabled when this reporter visited the site, which was two days after the company's role as a state security contractor was exposed.

The description for the Tactical Advantage course, which the website says was designed for military, law enforcement and security personnel, describes the program as "intense, dirty, aggressive and based on Israeli Counter-Terror Schools policy." It says "This course pushes trainees to the physical and mental edge."

American organizations which engage in protests and rallies, hearing that reference to the Israeli Counter-Terror Schools policy, might recall the IDF's handling of the aid flotilla that was boarded on the high seas by IDF troops as they read these lines. That assault, in which the Israelis used 9mm semi-automatic weapons against defenders armed at most with sticks and light chains, left nine flotilla participants, including a young Turkish American, dead.

The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, which only lists a post-box address in Philadelphia (though in its report on the scandal the Philadelphia Inquirer referred to ITRR as a "Philadelphia-based company with offices in Philadelphia and Jerusalem"), also advertises a subsidiary operation it calls a Targeted Action Monitoring Center (TAM-C), which it claims is "world renowned" and which it says supplies "factual, actionable intelligence to subscribers." All information gathered by the firm's staff of "former law enforcement, military and intelligence professionals" is sent to the Israeli headquarters of the TAM-C for processing--a move which effectively insulates it from discovery by any surveillance victims who might seek disclosure under federal or state Freedom of Information laws, or who might sue in court for violation of their civil liberties.

While ITRR, founded in 2004, doesn't name any of its clients, it says they range from Fortune 100 companies, including the power industry, maritime companies, US infrastructure companies, "the company company charged with protecting oil production facilities," missionary organizations and pharmaceutical firms, to law enforcement agencies and joint terrorism task forces.

A search on Google for references to ITRR doesn't turn up much, but there is a report in July 2008 by a Washington-based right-wing site called National Terror Alert, which attributes a warning of a "possible large-scale terror attack" to ITRR. Claiming that it had "intercepted communications from an organization closely associated with international terrorists, to include al Qaeda," the National Terror Alert organization says TIRR reports that, "Available intelligence and recent events indicate that terrorists have an established capability and current intent to mount an attack on the target and there is some additional information on the nature of the threat. It is assessed that an attack on the target is a priority for the terrorists and is likely to be mounted."

Nothing came of this "alert," but it should be noted that a year later, the first head of the new federal Department of Homeland Security, former Republican governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge, admitted that the color-coded terror alerts issued by his office had been manipulated to serve Republican political interests. It should also be recalled that the 2008 TIRR "warning" came during the height of the election season, just before the two national party conventions. As the Philadelphia Daily News commented at the time in a headline, "GOP kicks off fall campaign with heightened terror alert."

But ITRR does much more than just monitor terrorists. Indeed, it seems to be far too busy monitoring legitimate, non-violent and completely legal protest organizations and other political groups to do much real anti-terror work. According to news reports on ITRR's work for the Pennsylvania Homeland Security Agency and also the Pittsburgh Police Department, it would appear that ITRR was spying on and providing Pennsylvania State Police and Homeland Security with reports on everything from anti-war groups and anti-oil-shale-fracking groups to gay rights groups, animal rights groups, environmental organizations and even Good Schools Pennsylvania, a citizens association formed to back Gov. Ed Rendell's school reform initiatives. Even a Harrisburg, PA man who likes to bring a 25-foot inflatable pig to demonstrations to symbolize government waste was targeted.

While local news media reports in Philadelphia have suggested that ITRR is just composed of two people, Aaron Richman, an Israeli police captain and security consultant and Michael Perelman, a retired New York City police commander, the website makes it clear that the company actually employs a large number of people in Israel, and may have as many as 15 people working "in the field" in the US.

Its activities are not limited to Pennsylvania either. The firm boasts on its website that "Information provided to clients ranges from issues of global jihad to Mexican Cartel threats along America's southern border (maybe that's where Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer got her weird tale, eventually debunked and retracted, of beheadings in the border desert?) to providing guidance of the threat of disorders as a result of international monetary meetings."

This latter is a reference to the yeoman work ITRR reportedly did for the Pittsburg Police Department in advance of the disastrous G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, which turned into a police riot after the local government and police brought in hundreds of reinforcements from other cities, with cops suited up as though for war, to lock down the city and prevent students from demonstrating against the predations of international capital and international "free trade" agreements. It appears that ITRR had ingratiated its way into the confidence of demonstration planners by having its agents join chat rooms and websites "posing as G-20 opponents." One wonders whether these same agents may have also acted as agents provocateur.

As the head of Pennsylvania's Homeland Security Agency, James Powers, who hired ITRR, put it, "We got the information to the Pittsburgh Police, and they were able to cut them off at the pass."

So much for the Constitutional right to protest!

Several calls for comment made to the Homeland Security Agency and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency which oversees it went unanswered, but Perelman has released a statement saying "The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response tracks events, givinglaw enforcement a heads-up for the potential of disorder as our bulletins provided to the [state] clearly show...[and] does not follow people, conduct surveillance, photograph, or record individuals."

This claim is undermined by the details in some of its reports (a select bunch of ITRR weekly "terror" alert report released by the state government after the scandal broke included one on the Brandywine Peace Community, which regularly runs a protest at the Lockheed Martin military contractor plant just northwest of Philadelphia. The report says, "When their focus is not directed at Lockheed itself, protesters will likely gather at the traffic light on the corner of Mall and Goddard to wave signs at cars." Less this report not sound terrifying enough, the report adds ominously (with no supporting evidence to back its claim) that even so, the event could attract "radical protesters from the ranks of local communist and/or anarchist movements."

Gov. Rendell, after the story about ITRR's activities for the state under a no-bid, $125,000/year contract, broke, claimed he was "embarrassed" by the spying on non-violent civic action organizations, and vowed to cancel the contract effective this October.

It is not clear, however, that there will be any information provided about who was spied on over the time the company has been active. Members of both political parties in the state legislature are calling for a General Assembly hearing into ITRR's activities, but such calls in this closely divided body generally come to little or nothing. Meanwhile, Rendell, a lame duck governor headed for the exit, is unlikely to do anything about the issue beyond saying he's embarrassed by it. He has said he has no intention of firing Powers.

I know how damaging this kind of spying by state and local governments can be. Back in the mid-1970s, when I and some journalist colleagues owned and ran a small weekly alternative newspaper in Los Angeles, the LA Vanguard, we were among the targets of a massive illegal spying campaign by the paranoid Los Angeles Police Department's "red squad," the Public Disorder Intelligence Division. Our staff was actually penetrated by a young red squad officer, who pretended to be a student wannabe journalist in order to try to learn our sources for reports on the LAPD. But we were only one of about 200 groups, ranging from a local anti-nuclear group to the Peace & Freedom Party, a well-known third party in California electoral politics, to the National Organization for Woman and even the office of then City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky.

The reason we all learned about what the LAPD red squad was doing was that one spy was outed, a class-action suit was filed by the ACLU of Southern California, there was discovery ordered by the court, and eventually the city of Los Angeles settled with the victims of the campaign, to the tune of $1.8 million.

The Pennsylvania ACLU may eventually sue Pennsylvania over this latest domestic spying outrage, but the times have changed, and it is hard to be confident that the courts, no great friend of civil liberties at the state level, and packed with Reagan and Bush 1 and 2 appointees at the federal level, will mandate disclosure of the names of groups spied on, much less of the records that were compiled. Furthermore, because the state did this spying through an outside contractor, which is headquartered in Israel, government and police agencies could claim that the records are for the most part out of their hands and beyond the courts' jurisdiction.

At least one man, Gene Stilp, owner of the giant inflatable pig, already has plans to sue the government in federal court. "When people's civil rights are trampled it's a federal issue," says Stilp, himself a licensed attorney. Stilp says he isn't satisfied with Rendell's statement that he is "embarrassed" by the disclosure of ITRR's contract. "Being embarrassed doesn't cut it," says Stilp, who is calling for an investigation into ITRR's spying activities by the attorney general or the federal government, and full disclosure of which groups and individuals were spied upon.

Another person who has good reason to believe he was probably targeted by ITRR is ThisCantBeHappening!'s own John Grant. Says Grant, "The more I read about this affair, the more disturbing it seems. I'm a Vietnam veteran and part of an organization -- Veterans For Peace -- that very publicly opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We meet monthly and we organize events with other anti-war groups. All First-Amendment-protected, red-blooded American stuff. To think that some self-ordained watchdog group of security freaks is monitoring me and my friends and reporting our activities to God-knows who in the context of 'terrorism' -- and probably making tons of money doing it -- really pisses me off. Governor Rendell should be embarrassed. He should come clean and make public all the groups and people this gang was spying and reporting on. The fact they are somehow connected to Israel -- a nation many of us have been critical of -- is further reason to clear up what's going on."


4) Science and the Gulf
NYT Editorial
September 19, 2010

After months of confusion and contradictory reports, the Obama administration has at last embarked on a systematic effort involving some of the nation's top scientists to measure the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf of Mexico and its potential impact on marine life. An interim report could be ready in several months.

This is very good news. Though the full effects of the spill on the water quality and animal life in the gulf will not be known for years, getting a handle on what's happening now is essential to shaping the right strategy for restoring the gulf to good health. Scientists say the picture changes every day, as undersea oil plumes disperse and degrade. Getting a fix on how much oil lies below the surface and where it is going will make possible more-educated guesses about its effects on the natural system.

The boss of the study will be Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a respected marine scientist. It will involve seagoing research vessels and extensive tests in the water column, from the surface to the sea floor. It will draw on the expertise of Ms. Lubchenco's own agency; universities in Florida, Louisiana and other gulf states; and independent research bodies like the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

For budgetary purposes, the study will be classified as one more component of the government's ongoing response to the April spill, which means that BP will pick up the tab, whatever that turns out to be. BP has already promised to set aside $500 million to underwrite private scientific studies in the gulf over the next 10 years. But this offer has become mired in a political dispute involving gulf state governors and will not, in any case, relieve BP of its responsibility to pay for the NOAA study.

Apart from shaping restoration strategy, the new study may help end the constant - and, from the public's point of view, frustrating - sniping among government and independent scientists over the actual state of play in the gulf. In August, NOAA released an oil "budget" claiming that half of the 4.9 million barrels that had gushed from the well had completely disappeared and that another quarter had been dispersed in rapidly degrading droplets. The White House political apparatus inflated these numbers into a complete victory, inviting widespread complaints from scientists.

Then came the famous now-you-see-it, now-you-don't oil plume controversy. Woods Hole scientists, in a report published Aug. 19 by the journal Science, claimed to have found a 22-mile-long underwater oil plume near the leaking wellhead. Less than a week later, in the same magazine, another report by a team from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a laboratory supported by the federal Energy Department, said the plume had been pretty much devoured by oil-eating microbes and largely disappeared.

These and other disagreements (there have also been differing reports about oil sediments on the ocean floor and about oxygen levels) cry out for an impartial investigation that steps back from the politics of the moment, lowers the temperature of the discussion and seeks fresh answers.

An article in The Times's science section last week indicated that a fortunate combination of circumstances - including warm weather, which encourages evaporation as well as the microbes - had inspired cautious optimism among many scientists that the gulf may recover faster than anyone expected. But we should base our hopes not on conjecture but on painstaking science of the sort that Ms. Lubchenco now promises.


5) Report Says F.B.I. Gave Inaccurate Information on Surveillance at Rally
September 20, 2010

Filed at 1:59 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI gave inaccurate information to Congress and the public when it claimed a possible terrorism link to justify surveilling an anti-war rally in Pittsburgh, the Justice Department's inspector general said Monday in a report on the bureau's scrutiny of domestic activist groups.

Inspector General Glenn Fine said the FBI had no reason to expect that anyone of interest in a terrorism investigation would be present at the 2002 event sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center, a nonviolent anti-war and anti-discrimination group.

The surveillance was ''an ill-conceived project on a slow work day,'' the IG stated in a study of several FBI domestic terrorism probes of people affiliated with organizations such as Greenpeace and the Catholic Worker.

Earlier, in statements to Congress and in a press release, the FBI had described the Pittsburgh rally surveillance by one agent as related to a terrorism investigation.

In a letter to the IG, FBI Deputy Director Timothy Murphy said the FBI regrets that inaccurate information was provided to the FBI director and Congress regarding the basis for the agent's presence at the rally.

Speaking generally of the FBI probes it studied, the IG said a domestic terrorism classification has far-reaching impact because people who are subjects of such investigations are normally placed on watchlists and their travels and interactions with law enforcement may be tracked.

The FBI has broad definitions that enable it to classify matters as domestic terrorism that actually are trespassing or vandalism, the inspector general said.

The IG said the evidence did not indicate that the FBI targeted individuals involved with the groups on the basis of their free-speech activities protected by the Constitution's First Amendment, but rather due to concerns about potential criminal acts.

The IG also concluded that the factual basis for opening some investigations was factually weak and that in several instances there was little indication of any possible federal crime, as opposed to state crimes. In some cases, the IG found that the FBI extended the duration of probes without adequate basis and in a few cases the FBI improperly retained information about the groups in its files, classifying some probes relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ''Acts of Terrorism'' classification.

Regarding the Pittsburgh rally, controversy erupted in 2006 over whether the FBI had spied on protesters at the event several years earlier because of their anti-war views.

At the time, the FBI issued a news release saying the surveillance had been based on an ongoing investigation.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told a Senate hearing that the bureau had been trying to identify a particular individual believed to be in attendance.

The FBI's statements to Congress and the public were not true, said the IG, who found no evidence that the FBI had any information at the time of the event that any terrorism subject would be present.

According to the IG, the Office of the Chief Division Counsel in the FBI Pittsburgh Field Division created a document that said the surveillance was supposedly directed at an individual living in Pittsburgh who was of interest to the FBI based on evidence developed in a terrorism probe.

''We determined this version of events was not true,'' said the IG.

The inaccurate statements may have been inadvertent, but the IG said it is more likely that the document reflected an effort to state a stronger justification for the surveillance.


6) Haitians Cry in Letters: 'Please - Do Something!'
September 19, 2010

CORAIL-CESSELESSE, Haiti - It was after midnight in a remote annex of this isolated tent camp on a windswept gravel plain. Marjorie Saint Hilaire's three boys were fast asleep, but her mind was racing.

The camp leader had proposed writing letters to the nongovernment authorities, and she had so much to say. She lighted a candle and summoned a gracious sentiment with which to begin.

"To all the members of concerned organizations, I thank you first for feeling our pain," she wrote slowly in pencil on what became an eraser-smudged page. "I note that you have taken on almost all our problems and some of our greatest needs."

Ms. Saint Hilaire, 33, then succinctly explained that she had lost her husband and her livelihood to the Jan. 12 earthquake and now found herself hungry, stressed and stranded in a camp annex without a school, a health clinic, a marketplace or any activity at all.

"Please - do something!" she wrote from Tent J2, Block 7, Sector 3, her new address. "We don't want to die of hunger and also we want to send our children to school. I give glory to God that I am still alive - but I would like to stay that way!"

In the last couple of weeks, thousands of displaced Haitians have similarly vented their concerns, depositing impassioned pleas for help in new suggestion boxes at a hundred camps throughout the disaster zone. Taken together, the letters form a collective cri de coeur from a population that has felt increasingly impotent and ignored.

With 1.3 million displaced people in 1,300 camps, homelessness is the new normal here. Two recent protest marches have sought to make the homeless a central issue in the coming presidential campaign. But the tent camp residents, miserable, weary and in many cases fighting eviction, do not seem to have the energy to become a vocal force.

When the International Organization for Migration added suggestion boxes to its information kiosks in scores of camps, it did not expect to tap directly into a well of pent-up emotions. "I anticipated maybe a few cranky letters," said Leonard Doyle, who handles communications for the organization in Haiti. "But to my absolute, blow-me-down surprise, we got 700 letters in three days from our first boxes - real individualized expressions of suffering that give a human face to this ongoing tragedy."

In some cases, the letters contain a breathless litany of miseries, a chain of woes strung together by commas: "I feel discouraged, I don't sleep comfortably, I gave birth six months ago, the baby died, I have six other children, they don't have a father, I don't have work, my tarp is torn, the rain panics me, my house was crushed, I don't have money to feed my family, I would really love it if you would help me," wrote Marie Jean Jean.

In others, despair is expressed formally, with remarkable restraint: "Living under a tent is not favorable neither to me nor to my children" or "We would appreciate your assistance in obtaining a future as one does not appear to be on our horizon."

Several writers sent terse wish lists on self-designed forms: "Name: Paul Wilbert. Camp: Boulos. Need: House. Demand: $1,250. Project: Build house. Thank you."

And some tweaked the truth. Ketteline Lebon, who lives in a camp in the slum area called Cité Soleil, cannot read or write. She dictated a letter to her cousin, who decided to alter Ms. Lebon's story to say that her husband had died in the earthquake whereas he had really died in a car accident. "What does it matter?" Ms. Lebon said, shrugging. "I'm still a widow in a tent with four kids I cannot afford to send to school."

At this camp's annex, Corail 3, Sandra Felicien, a regal woman whose black-and-white sundress looks as crisp as if it hangs in a closet, has become the epistolary queen. An earthquake widow whose husband was crushed to death in the school where he taught adult education courses, Ms. Felicien said she wrote letters almost daily because doing so made her feel as if she were taking action. "We are so powerless," she said. "It is like we are bobbing along on the waves of the ocean, waiting to be saved."

Like the hundreds of families around her in Corail 3, Ms. Felicien and her small son lived first in Camp Fleuriot, a mosquito-infested, flood-prone marsh where many were feverish with malaria or racked by diarrhea. In July, they were bused here to the outskirts of this planned settlement, which is supposed to become a new town someday.

Transitional shelters are being built in this remote spot, and a hundred or so are completed and stand empty. For the moment, though, the one-room houses, like the tents beside them, exist in a sun-scorched vacuum beneath deforested hills. They are surrounded only by latrines, showers and the information kiosk, with its blackboard, bulletin board and suggestion box.

One afternoon last week, Ms. Felicien settled onto the tarp-covered rocks in front of her tent - "my porch" - and used a covered bucket for a writing desk. She was feeling robust, she said, because a neighbor had just treated her to what amounted to brunch - a pack of cookies that she had shared with her son.

She started to recopy the rough draft of a letter that she had written that morning. She was writing in Creole, although her French is impeccable, because "only a Haitian could really understand," she said.

While she wrote, with a reporter by her side and a photographer taking her picture, a boisterous crowd from the camp gathered, concerned that she was getting special attention from foreigners. Their complaints grew so deafening that she rose to address them, explaining that, in fact, the particular letter she was writing was not personal but on behalf of all her neighbors.

Raising her voice to be heard, she read aloud the letter: "Sept. 14. Today we feel fed up with the bad treatment in Block 7. Have you forgotten about us out here in the desert?" The crowd quieted. She continued reading: "You don't understand us. You don't know that an empty bag can't stand. A hungry dog can't play." Other tent camps have health clinics or schools or at least something to do, she read. "Why don't we have such things? Aren't we people, too?"

Heads nodded. The tension dissipated. The crowd dispersed. Ms. Felicien walked her letter to the kiosk to post it. "I don't know why I keep writing," she said. "To this point they have not responded. It's like screaming into the wind."

Mr. Doyle said that all the letters are read, some aloud on Radio Guinen, which broadcasts daily from tent camps as part of an International Organization for Migration communication program. But the $400,000 program was intended to give voice to the voiceless and not food to the hungry or money to the destitute. So unless the writers express a need for protection, as from rape or abuse by camp leaders, their individual requests are not likely to be answered.

Told this, Ms. Felicien said, "Ay yi yi" and shook her head. And then she posted her letter all the same.


7) 5 U.S. Soldiers Accused of Killing Afghan Civilians
September 19, 2010

SEATTLE - The brutal, premeditated killings of three Afghan civilians - allegedly at the hands of American soldiers - are expected to be detailed in military court near here this fall, potentially undermining efforts by the United States as it tries to win support among Afghans in fighting the Taliban.

The cases, which accuse five members of an Army Stryker brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, of deliberately ambushing three Afghan men with grenades and rifle fire this year, have also raised questions about how the Army has handled them.

The father of one of the soldiers said in an interview that he had repeatedly tried to alert military officials that his son had told him through Facebook in February that one murder had already been committed by members of his unit and that others could happen in the future.

The son had been threatened by members of his unit and feared for his life, said the father, Christopher Winfield, of Cape Coral, Fla. Two more people were killed after Mr. Winfield first reached out to the Army.

"Nobody listened," he said.

Mr. Winfield, whose claims were first reported by The Associated Press, said in an interview that he called an Army hot line, an Army criminal investigations unit and members of his son's command unit based at Fort Lewis on Feb. 14.

The only time he reached a person by phone, he said, a Fort Lewis sergeant told him his son should report the activities upon his return to the United States.

But he said that when his son, Specialist Adam C. Winfield, returned from his deployment in June, "They arrested him for murder as soon as he stepped off the plane."

Specialist Winfield is one of three soldiers accused in the killing of Mullah Adahdad near Forward Operating Base Ramrod, in early May, "by means of throwing a fragmentary grenade at him and shooting him with a rifle," according to an Army charging document.

Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs is also accused in that killing, as is Specialist Jeremy N. Morlock. Sergeant Gibbs and Specialist Morlock are also accused in the January killing of Gul Mudin and in the February killing of Marach Agha.

Specialist Michael S. Wagnon II is also accused in the death of Mr. Agha and of later trying to impede the criminal investigation "by obtaining a hard drive which contained evidence of murders and asking another soldier to erase said hard drive," according to a charging document.

Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes is also accused in the death of Mr. Mudin.

Army officials say the Army's senior leadership in Washington is watching the cases closely, fearing that the negative publicity any hearings will generate as well as photos and other evidence might anger Afghan civilians while the United States is trying to win support for a counterinsurgency campaign against the Taliban. They worry the cases could be a propaganda boon for the Taliban.

The charges echo several high-profile criminal episodes at the peak of the fighting in Iraq, when American Marines and other servicemen were accused of killing Iraqi civilians in unprovoked attacks.

In one case that outraged Iraqis, American soldiers were convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl and killing her and her family. In Afghanistan, air strikes and botched American commando raids that killed civilians have already caused political problems.

In addition to the murder charges against the Stryker soldiers, Army investigators are likely to investigate the claims made by Christopher Winfield, Army officials said. The Army would not comment directly on the murder cases beyond the information in its charging documents.

"We're just waiting to see where the facts of the investigation will lead," said Gary Tallman, an Army spokesman.

The defendants have denied the accusations. An Army spokeswoman said dates for the defendants to appear in court this fall have yet to be determined. But lawyers said they expected Article 32 hearings, which will determine formal charges against the soldiers, to begin at Fort Lewis in the coming weeks.

Maj. Kathleen Turner, a spokeswoman for I Corps, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said she expected that the hearings would be public and that each soldier's case would be handled independently.

The charges against Sergeant Gibbs appear to be the most extensive and the most gruesome. A lawyer for Specialist Winfield said several defendants had claimed that Sergeant Gibbs, their unit leader, had planned the killings as a kind of morbid entertainment and that he had intimidated subordinates into either participating in or covering up the crimes.

A lawyer for Sergeant Gibbs has said in the past that the killings resulted from legitimate battlefield engagements. An automated e-mail response from the lawyer, Phillip Stackhouse, said he was out of the office, in Afghanistan. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"There are two versions of the story you will hear come out," said Eric Montalvo, the lawyer for Specialist Winfield. "These are legitimate kills, some people will say. The second tier is going to be that 'Gibbs made me do it.' "

Charging documents and statements made to investigators by the soldiers say that Sergeant Gibbs collected "finger bones, leg bones and a tooth taken from Afghan corpses."

Documents and people interviewed also said Sergeant Gibbs illegally collected AK-47 rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons used by the Afghan National Police and other non-United States forces to place near victims to suggest that American soldiers were simply returning fire.

Although Mr. Winfield, the soldier's father, said he first made efforts to report trouble in the unit in February - including leaving what he said was an unanswered message with the office of Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, the murder investigation did not get under way until the spring.

The investigation initially focused on reports that soldiers in the unit were using hashish. One soldier then informed superiors of the killings, Mr. Montalvo said. Seven other people in the unit have been charged with crimes, in some cases accused of firing on Afghan civilians and in others accused of hashish use.

It was unclear whether senior Army leaders had made any assessment about the platoon's parent unit, which was renamed the 2nd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division after it returned from Afghanistan. Mr. Tallman, the Army spokesman, said the brigade had faced heavy combat.

"This brigade had a very challenging tour and suffered a significant number of casualties while in Afghanistan," he said.


8) For the Unemployed Over 50, Fears of Never Working Again
September 19, 2010

VASHON ISLAND, Wash. - Patricia Reid is not in her 70s, an age when many Americans continue to work. She is not even in her 60s. She is just 57.

But four years after losing her job she cannot, in her darkest moments, escape a nagging thought: she may never work again.

College educated, with a degree in business administration, she is experienced, having worked for two decades as an internal auditor and analyst at Boeing before losing that job.

But that does not seem to matter, not for her and not for a growing number of people in their 50s and 60s who desperately want or need to work to pay for retirement and who are starting to worry that they may be discarded from the work force - forever.

Since the economic collapse, there are not enough jobs being created for the population as a whole, much less for those in the twilight of their careers.

Of the 14.9 million unemployed, more than 2.2 million are 55 or older. Nearly half of them have been unemployed six months or longer, according to the Labor Department. The unemployment rate in the group - 7.3 percent - is at a record, more than double what it was at the beginning of the latest recession.

After other recent downturns, older people who lost jobs fretted about how long it would take to return to the work force and worried that they might never recover their former incomes. But today, because it will take years to absorb the giant pool of unemployed at the economy's recent pace, many of these older people may simply age out of the labor force before their luck changes.

For Ms. Reid, it has been four years of hunting - without a single job offer. She buzzes energetically as she describes the countless applications she has lobbed through the Internet, as well as the online courses she is taking to burnish her software skills.

Still, when she is pressed, her can-do spirit falters.

"There are these fears in the background, and they are suppressed," said Ms. Reid, who is now selling some of her jewelry and clothes online and is late on some credit card payments. "I have had nightmares about becoming a bag lady," she said. "It could happen to anyone. So many people are so close to it, and they don't even realize it."

Being unemployed at any age can be crushing. But older workers suspect their résumés often get shoved aside in favor of those from younger workers. Others discover that their job-seeking skills - as well as some technical skills sought by employers - are rusty after years of working for the same company.

Many had in fact anticipated working past conventional retirement ages to gird themselves financially for longer life spans, expensive health care and reduced pension guarantees.

The most recent recession has increased the need to extend working life. Home values, often a family's most important asset, have been battered. Stock portfolios are only now starting to recover. According to a Gallup poll in April, more than a third of people not yet retired plan to work beyond age 65, compared with just 12 percent in 1995.

Older workers who lose their jobs could pose a policy problem if they lose their ability to be self-sufficient. "That's what we should be worrying about," said Carl E. Van Horn, professor of public policy and director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, "what it means to this class of the new unemployables, people who have been cast adrift at a very vulnerable part of their career and their life."

Forced early retirement imposes an intense financial strain, particularly for those at lower incomes. The recession and its aftermath have already pushed down some older workers. In figures released last week by the Census Bureau, the poverty rate among those 55 to 64 increased to 9.4 percent in 2009, from 8.6 percent in 2007.

But even middle-class people who might skate by on savings or a spouse's income are jarred by an abrupt end to working life and to a secure retirement.

"That's what I spent my whole life in pursuit of, was security," Ms. Reid said. "Until the last few years, I felt very secure in my job."

As an auditor, Ms. Reid loved figuring out the kinks in a manufacturing or parts delivery process. But after more than 20 years of commuting across Puget Sound to Boeing, Ms. Reid was exhausted when she was let go from her $80,000-a-year job.

Stunned and depressed, she sent out résumés, but figured she had a little time to recover. So she took vacations to Turkey and Thailand with her husband, who is a home repairman. She sought chiropractic treatments for a neck injury and helped nurse a priest dying of cancer.

Most of her days now are spent in front of a laptop, holed up in a lighthouse garret atop the house that her husband, Denny Mielock, built in the 1990s on a breathtaking piece of property overlooking the sound.

As she browses the job listings that clog her e-mail in-box, she refuses to give in to her fears. "If I let myself think like that all the time," she said, "I could not even bear getting out of bed in the morning."

With her husband's home repair business pummeled by the housing downturn, the bills are mounting. Although the couple do not have a mortgage on their 3,000-square-foot house, they pay close to $7,000 a year in property taxes. The roof is leaking. Their utility bills can be $300 a month in the winter, even though they often keep the thermostat turned down to 50 degrees.

They could try to sell their home, but given the depressed housing market, they are reluctant.

"We are circling the drain here, and I am bailing like hell," said Ms. Reid, emitting an incongruous cackle, as if laughter is the only response to her plight. "But the boat is still sinking."

It is not just the finances that have destabilized her life.

Her husband worries that she isolates herself and that she does not socialize enough. "We've both been hard workers our whole lives," said Mr. Mielock, 59. Ms. Reid sometimes rose just after 3 a.m. to make the hourlong commute to Boeing's data center in Bellevue and attended night school to earn a master's in management information systems.

"A job is more than a job, you know," Mr. Mielock said. "It's where you fit in society."

Here in the greater Seattle area, a fifth of those claiming extended unemployment benefits are 55 and older.

To help seniors polish their job-seeking skills, WorkSource, a local consortium of government and nonprofit groups, recently began offering seminars. On a recent morning, 14 people gathered in a windowless conference room at a local community college to get tips on how to age-proof their résumés and deflect questions about being overqualified.

Motivational posters hung on one wall, bearing slogans like "Failure is the path of least persistence."

Using PowerPoint slides, Liz Howland, the chipper but no-nonsense session leader, projected some common myths about older job-seekers on a screen: "Older workers are less capable of evaluating information, making decisions and problem-solving" or "Older workers are rigid and inflexible and have trouble adapting to change."

Ms. Howland, 61, ticked off the reasons those statements were inaccurate. But a clear undercurrent of anxiety ran through the room. "Is it really true that if you have the energy and the passion that they will overlook the age factor?" asked a 61-year-old man who had been laid off from a furniture maker last October.

Gallows humor reigned. As Ms. Howland - who suggested that applicants remove any dates older than 15 years from their résumé - advised the group on how to finesse interview questions like "When did you have the job that helped you develop that skill?" one out-of-work journalist deadpanned: "How about 'during the 20th century?' "

During a break, Anne Richard, who declined to give her age, confessed she was afraid she would not be able to work again after losing her contract as a house director at a University of Washington sorority in June. Although she had 20 years of experience as an office clerk in Chattanooga, Tenn., she feared her technology skills had fallen behind.

"I don't feel like I can compete with kids who have been on computers all their lives," said Ms. Richard, who was sleeping on the couch of a couple she had met at church and contemplating imminent homelessness.

Older people who lose their jobs take longer to find work. In August, the average time unemployed for those 55 and older was slightly more than 39 weeks, according to the Labor Department, the longest of any age group. That is much worse than in August 1983, also after a deep recession, when someone unemployed in that age group spent an average of 27.5 weeks finding work.

At this year's pace of an average of 82,000 new jobs a month, it will take at least eight more years to create the 8 million positions lost during the recession. And that does not even allow for population growth.

Advocates for the elderly worry that younger people are more likely to fill the new jobs as well.

"I do think the longer someone is out of work, the more employers are going to question why it is that someone hasn't been able to find work," said Sara Rix, senior strategic policy adviser at AARP, the lobbying group for seniors. "Their skills have atrophied for one thing, and technology changes so rapidly that even if nothing happened to the skills that you have, they may become increasingly less relevant to the jobs that are becoming available."

In four years of job hunting, Ms. Reid has discovered that she is no longer technologically proficient. In one of a handful of interviews she has secured, for an auditing position at the Port of Seattle, she learned that the job required skills in PeopleSoft, financial software she had never used. She assumes that deficiency cost her the job.

Ms. Reid is still five years away from being eligible for Social Security. But even then, she would be drawing early, which reduces monthly payments. Taking Social Security at 62 means a retiree would receive a 25 percent lower monthly payout than if she worked until 66.

Ms. Reid is in some ways luckier than others. Boeing paid her a six-month severance, and she has health care benefits that cover her and her husband for $40 a month.

And she admits some regrets: she had a $180,000 balance in her 401(k) account, and paid $80,000 in penalties and taxes when she cashed it out early. She did not rein in her expenses right away. And now, her $500-a-week unemployment benefits have been exhausted.

She has since cut back, forgoing Nordstrom shopping sprees and theater subscriptions, but also cutting out red meat at home and putting off home repairs.

In order to qualify for accounting posts, she is taking an online training course in QuickBooks, a popular accounting software used by small businesses. She recently signed up for a tax course at an H&R Block tax preparation office in Seattle.

And she is plugging ahead with her current plan: to send out 600 applications to accounting firms in the area, offering her services for the next tax season. Eventually, she wants to open her own business.

With odd jobs and her husband's - albeit shriveled - earnings, she could stagger along. For now, she stitches together an income by gardening for neighbors, helping fellow church members with their computers, and participating in Internet surveys for as little as $5 apiece.

"You don't necessarily have to go through the door," Ms. Reid said. "You can go around it and go under it. I can be very creative. I think that I will eventually manage to pull this together."


9) U.S. Says BP Well Is Finally 'Dead'
September 19, 2010

The federal government declared BP's Macondo oil well dead on Sunday, nearly five months after it blew out of control, unleashing an environmental calamity in the Gulf of Mexico.

"We can finally announce that the Macondo 252 well is effectively dead," Adm. Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard officer who leads the federal spill response, said in a statement. The well, he said, "poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico."

Crews aboard the Development Driller III rig conducted a pressure test early Sunday on cement that had been pumped into the bottom of the once-gushing well through a relief well. The test confirmed that the cement formed an effective, and final, seal to prevent oil and gas from coming up from a reservoir about 13,000 feet below the seabed.

In a statement, President Obama hailed the work as an "important milestone in our response to the BP oil spill." He said the government remained committed "to doing everything possible to make sure the Gulf Coast recovers from this disaster."

The government said that oversight for the well would now pass from the National Incident Command, which is headed by Admiral Allen, to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, an agency of the Department of the Interior.

The Macondo well and the two relief wells will now be abandoned following standard industry practices.

In a statement, BP said the abandonment procedures for the Macondo well would include removing portions of the metal casing pipe that lines the well and setting more cement plugs. The statement also quoted Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, who described the work of the previous few days as "the final step in a complex and unprecedented subsea operation." Mr. Hayward, who came under criticism for his handling of the spill, was removed from his job by the BP board in July, effective Oct. 1.

The announcement represents the culmination of engineering efforts that began shortly after a subsea blowout at the well on April 20 caused an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which had drilled the well.

Eleven workers were killed in the blast, and when the rig sank two days later, the well began spewing oil and gas. An estimated 4.9 million barrels, or about 205 million gallons, of oil entered the water until the well was shut by a mechanical device in mid-July.

Early work to seal the well using remotely operated submersibles to activate the blowout preventer, a stack of safety devices atop the well that failed in the accident, were unsuccessful, as were initial efforts to contain the leaking oil. Not until early June did BP engineers, aided by others in the industry and government scientists, succeed in capturing some of the oil through a loose-fitting cap placed atop the blowout preventer. In mid-July, that cap was replaced with a tighter-fitting one, and valves on the device were closed, effectively sealing the well.

No oil had leaked since then, and cement had been pumped into the well from the top in August, forming a partial permanent barrier. But the government and BP had always said they would not consider the well "killed" until the relief well completed its work.


10) Report Says Drilling Ban Had Little Effect
September 16, 2010

WASHINGTON - The moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling imposed after the BP accident has had only modest impacts on jobs and on the Gulf Coast economy, the Obama administration said in a report issued Thursday.

That conclusion, echoing earlier statements by officials defending the drilling pause, was immediately attacked by Louisiana lawmakers and drilling companies, who said it was based on flawed assumptions and incomplete evidence.

The report, prepared over the past two months by administration economists and presented Thursday to the Senate Small Business Committee, found that roughly 2,000 of the 9,700 workers aboard the 46 offshore rigs affected by the moratorium had lost their jobs or moved away from the gulf since the moratorium was imposed in late May.

Another 6,000 to 10,000 workers in associated industries also lost work because of the moratorium, the study found.

But overall employment in the five Louisiana parishes most dependent on offshore oil and gas activity remained constant, the study found, largely because of the jobs created by the cleanup. BP has already spent more than $8 billion on the cleanup and to compensate businesses hurt by the spill.

The administration declared a halt to deepwater drilling after the April 20 explosion of the rig leased to the British oil giant BP that killed 11 workers and spilled nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Many companies involved in drilling have kept on a majority of their workers so that they have a trained cadre on hand when the moratorium is lifted, now scheduled for Nov. 30, although it could end sooner for some activities.

The administration's relatively rosy assessment drew fire from both of Louisiana's senators. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, a Democrat and chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, said the study ignored the widespread costs to small businesses throughout the Gulf Coast and gave an unrealistic estimate of how quickly drilling would restart after the moratorium ended.

She said the moratorium was a "government-imposed economic disaster" that caused as much or more financial harm to her state as the spill itself.

Senator David Vitter, a Republican, chastised Rebecca M. Blank, under secretary of commerce for economic affairs, who presented the report to the committee, for both the content and the timing of the study.

The Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, a group of companies that operate in shallower gulf waters and are not technically under the moratorium, also criticized the study.

James W. Noe, executive director of the group, said: "The Obama administration's report on the economic effects of the deepwater drilling moratorium is little more than an unjustifiably optimistic attempt to glaze over the real, devastating impact of the ban on deepwater drilling. The report twists facts, makes unrealistic assumptions and wholly ignores the de facto moratorium on shallow water drilling."

Relief Well Reaches Target

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The federal government says a relief well has intersected BP's blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico. Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral leading the government's response to the spill, said in a statement late Thursday that data showed the two wells were joined. The next step will be to pump mud and cement down through the relief well to seal the blown-out well from the bottom.


11) The Meat Eaters
September 19, 2010, 5:35 pm

Viewed from a distance, the natural world often presents a vista of sublime, majestic placidity. Yet beneath the foliage and hidden from the distant eye, a vast, unceasing slaughter rages. Wherever there is animal life, predators are stalking, chasing, capturing, killing, and devouring their prey. Agonized suffering and violent death are ubiquitous and continuous. This hidden carnage provided one ground for the philosophical pessimism of Schopenhauer, who contended that "one simple test of the claim that the pleasure in the world outweighs the pain...is to compare the feelings of an animal that is devouring another with those of the animal being devoured."

Theologians' labors will not be over even if they are finally able to justify the ways of God to man. For God must answer to animals as well.

The continuous, incalculable suffering of animals is also an important though largely neglected element in the traditional theological "problem of evil" _ the problem of reconciling the existence of evil with the existence of a benevolent, omnipotent god. The suffering of animals is particularly challenging because it is not amenable to the familiar palliative explanations of human suffering. Animals are assumed not to have free will and thus to be unable either to choose evil or deserve to suffer it. Neither are they assumed to have immortal souls; hence there can be no expectation that they will be compensated for their suffering in a celestial afterlife. Nor do they appear to be conspicuously elevated or ennobled by the final suffering they endure in a predator's jaws. Theologians have had enough trouble explaining to their human flocks why a loving god permits them to suffer; but their labors will not be over even if they are finally able to justify the ways of God to man. For God must answer to animals as well.

If I had been in a position to design and create a world, I would have tried to arrange for all conscious individuals to be able to survive without tormenting and killing other conscious individuals. I hope most other people would have done the same. Certainly this and related ideas have been entertained since human beings began to reflect on the fearful nature of their world - for example, when the prophet Isaiah, writing in the 8th century B.C.E., sketched a few of the elements of his utopian vision. He began with people's abandonment of war: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation." But human beings would not be the only ones to change; animals would join us in universal veganism: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and the little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox." (Isaiah 2: 4 and 11: 6-7)

Isaiah was, of course, looking to the future rather than indulging in whimsical fantasies of doing a better job of Creation, and we should do the same. We should start by withdrawing our own participation in the mass orgy of preying and feeding upon the weak.

Our own form of predation is of course more refined than those of other meat-eaters, who must capture their prey and tear it apart as it struggles to escape. We instead employ professionals to breed our prey in captivity and prepare their bodies for us behind a veil of propriety, so that our sensibilities are spared the recognition that we too are predators, red in tooth if not in claw (though some of us, for reasons I have never understood, do go to the trouble to paint their vestigial claws a sanguinary hue). The reality behind the veil is, however, far worse than that in the natural world. Our factory farms, which supply most of the meat and eggs consumed in developed societies, inflict a lifetime of misery and torment on our prey, in contrast to the relatively brief agonies endured by the victims of predators in the wild. From the moral perspective, there is nothing that can plausibly be said in defense of this practice. To be entitled to regard ourselves as civilized, we must, like Isaiah's morally reformed lion, eat straw like the ox, or at least the moral equivalent of straw.

If we could arrange the gradual extinction of carnivorous species, replacing them with new herbivorous ones, ought we to do it?

But ought we to go further? Suppose that we could arrange the gradual extinction of carnivorous species, replacing them with new herbivorous ones. Or suppose that we could intervene genetically, so that currently carnivorous species would gradually evolve into herbivorous ones, thereby fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy. If we could bring about the end of predation by one or the other of these means at little cost to ourselves, ought we to do it?

I concede, of course, that it would be unwise to attempt any such change given the current state of our scientific understanding. Our ignorance of the potential ramifications of our interventions in the natural world remains profound. Efforts to eliminate certain species and create new ones would have many unforeseeable and potentially catastrophic effects.

Perhaps one of the more benign scenarios is that action to reduce predation would create a Malthusian dystopia in the animal world, with higher birth rates among herbivores, overcrowding, and insufficient resources to sustain the larger populations. Instead of being killed quickly by predators, the members of species that once were prey would die slowly, painfully, and in greater numbers from starvation and disease.

Yet our relentless efforts to increase individual wealth and power are already causing massive, precipitate changes in the natural world. Many thousands of animal species either have been or are being driven to extinction as a side effect of our activities. Knowing this, we have thus far been largely unwilling even to moderate our rapacity to mitigate these effects. If, however, we were to become more amenable to exercising restraint, it is conceivable that we could do so in a selective manner, favoring the survival of some species over others. The question might then arise whether to modify our activities in ways that would favor the survival of herbivorous rather than carnivorous species.

At a minimum, we ought to be clear in advance about the values that should guide such choices if they ever arise, or if our scientific knowledge ever advances to a point at which we could seek to eliminate, alter, or replace certain species with a high degree of confidence in our predictions about the short- and long-term effects of our action. Rather than continuing to collide with the natural world with reckless indifference, we should prepare ourselves now to be able to act wisely and deliberately when the range of our choices eventually expands.
There is no reason to suppose that a species has special sanctity simply because it arose in the natural process of evolution.

The suggestion that we consider whether and how we might exercise control over the prospects of different animal species, perhaps eventually selecting some for extinction and others for survival in accordance with our moral values, will undoubtedly strike most people as an instance of potentially tragic hubris, presumptuousness on a cosmic scale. The accusation most likely to be heard is that we would be "playing God," impiously usurping prerogatives that belong to the deity alone. This has been a familiar refrain in the many instances in which devotees of one religion or another have sought to obstruct attempts to mitigate human suffering by, for example, introducing new medicines or medical practices, permitting and even facilitating suicide, legalizing a constrained practice of euthanasia, and so on. So it would be surprising if this same claim were not brought into service in opposition to the reduction of suffering among animals as well. Yet there are at least two good replies to it.

One is that it singles out deliberate, morally-motivated action for special condemnation, while implicitly sanctioning morally neutral action that foreseeably has the same effects as long as those effects are not intended. One plays God, for example, if one administers a lethal injection to a patient at her own request in order to end her agony, but not if one gives her a largely ineffective analgesic only to mitigate the agony, though knowing that it will kill her as a side effect. But it is hard to believe that any self-respecting deity would be impressed by the distinction. If the first act encroaches on divine prerogatives, the second does as well.

The second response to the accusation of playing God is simple and decisive. It is that there is no deity whose prerogatives we might usurp. To the extent that these matters are up to anyone, they are up to us alone. Since it is too late to prevent human action from affecting the prospects for survival of many animal species, we ought to guide and control the effects of our action to the greatest extent we can in order to bring about the morally best, or least bad, outcomes that remain possible.

Another equally unpersuasive objection to the suggestion that we ought to eliminate carnivorism if we could do so without major ecological disruption is that this would be "against Nature." This slogan also has a long history of deployment in crusades to ensure that human cultures remain primitive. And like the appeal to the sovereignty of a deity, it too presupposes an indefensible metaphysics. Nature is not a purposive agent, much less a wise one. There is no reason to suppose that a species has special sanctity simply because it arose in the natural process of evolution.

Many people believe that what happens among animals in the wild is not our responsibility, and indeed that what they do among themselves is none of our business. They have their own forms of life, quite different from our own, and we have no right to intrude upon them or to impose our anthropocentric values on them.
Even if we are not morally required to prevent suffering among animals in the wild for which we are not responsible, we do have a moral reason to prevent it.

There is an element of truth in this view, which is that our moral reason to prevent harm for which we would not be responsible is weaker than our reason not to cause harm. Our primary duty with respect to animals is therefore to stop tormenting and killing them as a means of satisfying our desire to taste certain flavors or to decorate our bodies in certain ways. But if suffering is bad for animals when we cause it, it is also bad for them when other animals cause it. That suffering is bad for those who experience it is not a human prejudice; nor is an effort to prevent wild animals from suffering a moralistic attempt to police the behavior of other animals. Even if we are not morally required to prevent suffering among animals in the wild for which we are not responsible, we do have a moral reason to prevent it, just as we have a general moral reason to prevent suffering among human beings that is independent both of the cause of the suffering and of our relation to the victims. The main constraint on the permissibility of acting on our reason to prevent suffering is that our action should not cause bad effects that would be worse than those we could prevent.

That is the central issue raised by whether we ought to try to eliminate carnivorism. Because the elimination of carnivorism would require the extinction of carnivorous species, or at least their radical genetic alteration, which might be equivalent or tantamount to extinction, it might well be that the losses in value would outweigh any putative gains. Not only are most or all animal species of some instrumental value, but it is also arguable that all species have intrinsic value. As Ronald Dworkin has observed, "we tend to treat distinct animal species (though not individual animals) as sacred. We think it very important, and worth a considerable economic expense, to protect endangered species from destruction." When Dworkin says that animal species are sacred, he means that their existence is good in a way that need not be good for anyone; nor is it good in the sense that it would be better if there were more species, so that we would have reason to create new ones if we could. "Few people," he notes, "believe the world would be worse if there had always been fewer species of birds, and few would think it important to engineer new bird species if that were possible. What we believe important is not that there be any particular number of species but that a species that now exists not be extinguished by us."

The intrinsic value of individual species is thus quite distinct from the value of species diversity. It also seems to follow from Dworkin's claims that the loss involved in the extinction of an existing species cannot be compensated for, either fully or perhaps even partially, by the coming-into-existence of a new species.

The basic issue, then, seems to be a conflict between values: prevention of suffering and preservation of animal species. It is relatively uncontroversial that suffering is intrinsically bad for those who experience it, even if occasionally it is also instrumentally good for them, as when it has the purifying, redemptive effects that Dostoyevsky's characters so often crave. Nor is it controversial that the extinction of an animal species is normally instrumentally bad. It is bad for the individual members who die and bad for other individuals and species that depended on the existence of the species for their own well-being or survival. Yet the extinction of an animal species is not necessarily bad for its individual members. (To indulge in science fiction, suppose that a chemical might be introduced into their food supply that would induce sterility but also extend their longevity.) And the extinction of a carnivorous species could be instrumentally good for all those animals that would otherwise have been its prey. That simple fact is precisely what prompts the question whether it would be good if carnivorous species were to become extinct.

The conflict, therefore, must be between preventing suffering and respecting the alleged sacredness - or, as I would phrase it, the impersonal value - of carnivorous species. Again, the claim that suffering is bad for those who experience it and thus ought in general to be prevented when possible cannot be seriously doubted. Yet the idea that individual animal species have value in themselves is less obvious. What, after all, are species? According to Darwin, they "are merely artificial combinations made for convenience." They are collections of individuals distinguished by biologists that shade into one another over time and sometimes blur together even among contemporaneous individuals, as in the case of ring species. There are no universally agreed criteria for their individuation. In practice, the most commonly invoked criterion is the capacity for interbreeding, yet this is well known to be imperfect and to entail intransitivities of classification when applied to ring species. Nor has it ever been satisfactorily explained why a special sort of value should inhere in a collection of individuals simply by virtue of their ability to produce fertile offspring. If it is good, as I think it is, that animal life should continue, then it is instrumentally good that some animals can breed with one another. But I can see no reason to suppose that donkeys, as a group, have a special impersonal value that mules lack.

Even if animal species did have impersonal value, it would not follow that they were irreplaceable. Since animals first appeared on earth, an indefinite number of species have become extinct while an indefinite number of new species have arisen. If the appearance of new species cannot make up for the extinction of others, and if the earth could not simultaneously sustain all the species that have ever existed, it seems that it would have been better if the earliest species had never become extinct, with the consequence that the later ones would never have existed. But few of us, with our high regard for our own species, are likely to embrace that implication.

Here, then, is where matters stand thus far. It would be good to prevent the vast suffering and countless violent deaths caused by predation. There is therefore one reason to think that it would be instrumentally good if predatory animal species were to become extinct and be replaced by new herbivorous species, provided that this could occur without ecological upheaval involving more harm than would be prevented by the end of predation. The claim that existing animal species are sacred or irreplaceable is subverted by the moral irrelevance of the criteria for individuating animal species. I am therefore inclined to embrace the heretical conclusion that we have reason to desire the extinction of all carnivorous species, and I await the usual fate of heretics when this article is opened to comment.

(Jeff McMahan's essay is the subject of this week's forum discussion among the humanists and scientists at On the Human, a project of the National Humanities Center.)

Jeff McMahan is professor of philosophy at Rutgers University and a visiting research collaborator at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He is the author of many works on ethics and political philosophy, including "The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life" and "Killing in War."


12) Exclusive! New Test Shows Key Witnesses Lied at Abu-Jamal Trial; Sidewalk Murder Scene Should Have Displayed Bullet Impacts
By Anonymous
Created 09/20/2010 - 10:58
by: Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington

During the contentious 1982 murder trial of Philadelphia radio-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, a central argument of the prosecution in making its case for the conviction and for imposition of a death penalty was the trial testimony of two key eyewitnesses who claimed to have actually seen Abu-Jamal fire his pistol repeatedly, at virtually point-blank range, into the prone Officer Daniel Faulkner.

This testimony about Abu-Jamal's shooting at the defenseless policeman execution-style solidified the prosecution's portrayal of Abu-Jamal as a cold-blooded assassin.

There was however, always the lingering question, never raised at trial, or even during the subsequent nearly three-decades-long appeals process, of why, if Abu-Jamal had fired four bullets downward at Faulkner, only hitting him once with a bullet between the eyes on the morning of December 9, 1981, there was no evidence in the surface of the sidewalk around the officer's body of the bullets that missed.

Now two independent journalists have raised further questions about that troubling lack of any evidence of missed shots by doing something that neither defense nor prosecution ever bothered to do, namely conducting a gun test using a similar gun and similar bullets fired from a similar distance into a slab of old concrete sidewalk similar to the sidewalk at the scene of the original shooting on the south side of Locust Street just east of 13th Street in Center City, Philadelphia.

Their test conclusively demonstrated it is impossible to fire such a gun from a standing position into a sidewalk without the bullets leaving prominent, unambiguous and clearly visible marks. Yet, the prosecution's case has Abu-Jamal performing that exact miracle, missing the officer three times without leaving a trace of his bad marksmanship. So where are the missing bullet marks? The police crime-scene photos presented by the prosecution don't show any, and police investigators in their reports don't mention any bullet marks on the sidewalk around the slain officer's body.

The results of this test fundamentally challenge the prosecution's entire case against Abu-Jamal since they contradict both eyewitness testimony and physical evidence presented by the prosecution about the 1981 murder of Officer Faulkner in a seedy section of downtown Philadelphia.

Further, this test reignites questions about how police handled and/or mishandled their investigation into the murder of Officer Faulkner, quickly targeting Abu-Jamal as the killer.

For example, police failed to administer the routine gunpowder residue test on Abu-Jamal's hands to determine if he had recently fired a gun. Such a test has long been standard procedure for crimes involving gun shots. Oddly, police did perform this routine residue test on at least two persons initially suspected of being at the crime scene, including one man who fit the description of a man numerous eyewitnesses told police had shot Faulkner and then fled the scene. Police, finding a critically-wounded Abu-Jamal at the crime scene, arrested him immediately, but never bothered to do a test of his hands--or if they did, never reported the results.

While appellate courts - federal and state - have consistently upheld Abu-Jamal's conviction, no court has considered the contradiction between prosecution claims of Abu-Jamal having fired into the sidewalk and the complete lack of any evidence of bullet impacts, or even of an explanation for the missing marks. Last week, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office curtly dismissed results of this test, which shows such marks would have been impossible to miss, as yet another instance of the "biases and misconceptions" regularly presented by persons who have not "taken the time to review the entirety of the record..."

For their experiment, veteran Philadelphia journalist Linn Washington, who has investigated the Abu-Jamal case since December 1981, obtained a Smith & Wesson revolver with a 2-inch barrel, similar to the 2-inch-barrel, .38-caliber Charter Arms revolver licensed to Abu-Jamal which was marked as evidence at the trial as being the weapon which was used to shoot and kill Officer Faulkner.

Meanwhile, journalist Dave Lindorff, who spent two years researching and writing Killing Time (Common Courage Press, 2003), the definitive independent book about this case, procured the concrete test slab, a 200-lb section of old sidewalk, about two feet square, five inches thick and containing a mix of gravel and a steel-reinforcing screen, that had recently been ripped up during construction of a new high school in Upper Dublin, PA. He then constructed a protective shield using a wooden frame and a section of galvanized, corrugated-steel roofing material purchased from Home Depot.

A small one-inch-diameter hole was drilled through the steel sheet about 18 inches from ground level, to enable Washington to point the pistol barrel through and fire at the concrete without risk of being injured by flying shrapnel or concrete fragments. Washington also wore shatter-proof military-surplus goggles for the experiment, so he could safely aim through the hole. During the test a total of seven bullets, including Plus-P high-velocity projectiles similar to the spent cartridges police reported finding in Abu-Jamal's gun, were fired downward at the sidewalk slab from a standing position, replicating the prosecution's version of the murder. (A Penn State history professor knowledgeable about firearms and ballistics including the construction of bullets, observed the experiment from start to finish.)

After each shot was fired into the concrete, the resulting impact point was labeled with a felt-tipped pen. Still photographs were taken showing all seven bullet impacts.

The entire experiment was also filmed using a broadcast-quality video camera.

What is clear from this experiment is that the bullets fired at close range into the sidewalk sample all left clearly visible marks. The three bullets that had metal jackets produced significant divots in the concrete, one of these about 1/8 of an inch deep, and two shallower, but easily observed visually and easily felt with the fingertip. The other four bullets, lead projectiles only, left smaller indentations, as well as clearly visible gray circular imprints, each over a half inch in diameter, where the lead from the bullets appears to have melted on impact and then solidified on the concrete. Police crime scene reports list investigators recovering fragments of at least two jacketed bullets at the scene (Faulkner's police-issue Smith & Wesson revolver was firing non-jacketed ammunition).

When a photo image of these seven prominent impact sites from the bullets is compared to detailed police crime-scene photos, the absence of similar such marks at the crime scene is obvious. Even the higher-quality photos of the shooting scene that were taken by Pedro Polokoff, a professional news photographer who arrived at the shooting scene within 20 minutes of hearing about it on his police radio scanner (well ahead of the police photographer and crime-scene investigation technicians), show no bullet marks.

The bizarre lack of any sign of other bullets having been fired down at Faulkner raises a grave question about the truthfulness of the two key prosecution witnesses, prostitute Cynthia White and taxi driver Robert Chobert. As recorded in the trial transcript, Prosecutor Joseph McGill made a big point of having Chobert, a young white man, describe during the June 1982 trial exactly what he allegedly saw Abu-Jamal do in shooting Officer Faulkner. He asked, "Now, when the Defendant was standing over the officer, could you show me exactly what motion he was making or what you saw?"

Chobert replied, "I saw him point down and fire some more shots into him."

McGill asked, "Now you're indicating, for the Record, a movement of his right arm with his finger pointed toward the direction of the ground and moving his wrist and hand up and down approximately three, four times, is that right?"

Chobert replied, "Yes."

Cynthia White, for her part, testified that Abu-Jamal "came over and he came on top of the police officer and shot some more times."

If there are no bullet marks around the spot where Faulkner was lying when he was shot in the face, neither of these testimonies by the two prosecution witnesses are remotely credible.

And there is another question. When the protective steel sheet was checked after this gun test, there were deep dents in the metal which were produced by either concrete fragments blown out of the sidewalk or by bullet fragments. Such debris, large and small, would have been embedded in Faulkner's uniform and/or in exposed skin, such as the sides of his head, or underneath his clothes, and yet the coroner's report and a report on the analysis of his police jacket make no mention of concrete, rock or bullet fragments.

One can additionally speculate about why, if there were in fact bullet marks in the sidewalk, police investigators at the scene never identified and marked them off with chalk, and never photographed them, as would be standard procedure in any shooting, not to mention a shooting death of a policeman. Even more curious, investigators did note, and even removed as possible evidence, a bullet fragment found in a door jamb well behind Faulkner's fallen body, as well as gathering up three other minute bullet fragments. These actions show that on the morning of the 1981 shooting investigators were combing the crime scene looking for evidence of bullets. Had there been impact marks in the vicinity of where Faulkner's body was lying, they would surely have noticed them and marked them for evidence.

We provided our gun test result photo, as well as a crime-scene photo showing the spot on the sidewalk where Faulkner's body was found, and where there should have been bullet marks in the pavement, to Robert Nelson, a veteran photo analyst at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California who is on the team that enhances and analyzes the photos sent in from the Cassini Saturn probe. Employing the same technology and skill that he uses in working with those photos from deep space, Nelson subjected the Polokoff photo to analysis and compared it to the gun test photo. Nelson offered the following comment:

"When one shoots a bullet into solid concrete, the concrete shatters at the impact point and creates a lot of scattering surfaces. It contains many micro-cracks that scatter the light more and make the impact area appear to be more reflective. This is apparent in the white circular areas in the test image.

"When the police photograph image is brightness adjusted for comparison with the test image, no obvious reflective zones (shatter-zones) are detected in the concrete surrounding the bloodspot. This result is inconsistent with the argument that several gun shots were fired into the concrete at close range, missing the body of the police officer and impacting the concrete. There are no lighter-colored circular areas suggesting shattering in the crime scene image."

Dr. Michael Schiffmann, a University of Heidelberg professor and author of Wettlauf gegen den Tod. Mumia Abu-Jamal: ein schwarzer Revolutionär im weißen Amerika (Promedia, Vienna, 2006)), a detailed book about Abu-Jamal released in Europe, questioned a number of experts about the missing bullet marks including the longtime head of ballistics in the medical examiner's office in Tübingen, Germany. This medical examiner told Schiffmann that the notion that police investigators might have somehow overlooked the bullet impact sites around Faulkner's body, or might have failed to recognize them as bullet marks, is "absolute nonsense." That medical examiner says the marks would have been evident and identifiable as being caused by bullet impacts even if Faulkner's blood had flowed over them.

There are, moreover, other good reasons to doubt that White and Chobert were telling the truth, or even that either one of them was actually a witness to the shooting.

Chobert claimed at trial to have pulled his taxi up directly behind Officer Faulkner's squad car, which itself was parked directly behind the Volkswagen Beetle owned by Abu-Jamal's younger brother William Cook, whom Faulkner had supposedly stopped for a traffic violation. Though the trial judge, Albert Sabo, withheld this information from the jury, Chobert at the time of the shooting admitted to the court that he was driving his cab illegally on a license that had been suspended following a DUI conviction. He was also serving five year's probation for the crime of felony arson of an elementary school. Under such circumstances, one has to ask if such a driver would have deliberately parked his cab behind a police vehicle, where there was a risk he could have been questioned, arrested by the officer, and possibly even jailed for violating conditions of his probation.

In any event, there also are no crime-scene photos that depict a taxi parked behind Faulkner's squad car. Indeed, the official police crime photos, as well as those taken even earlier by Polokoff, show no taxi behind Faulkner's car. Chobert's cab's absence from crime scene photos raises an inescapable issue: either Chobert did not park behind Faulkner's patrol car as he claimed in sworn trial testimony, or police removed his car less than 20 minutes after arriving on the scene and before investigators and a department photographer had gotten there...an action constituting illegal tampering with the crime scene.

Further raising questions about whether Chobert was actually where he claimed to have been during the shooting, a diagram of the crime scene drawn by Cynthia White, plus a second one drawn by a police artist following her instructions, show no taxi, though they do show, in front of Cook's VW, the extraneous detail of a Ford sedan that played no role at all in the case. No other witness at the trial except for White ever testified to having seen Chobert's taxi. Furthermore, if Chobert had witnessed the shooting while sitting at the wheel of his cab behind Faulkner's squad car, as he testified, his view of the shooting, which took place on the sidewalk on the driver's side of the parked cars, would have been blocked by both Faulkner's and Cook's parked vehicles. Making his alleged view even more problematic, it was dark at the time, Faulkner's tail lights were on, and his glare-producing dome lights were flashing brightly.

As for Cynthia White, though she claimed to have been standing on the sidewalk by the intersection of 13th and Locust, just feet from the shooting, no witness at the trial, including Chobert, claimed to have seen her there. Furthermore, White's story about the shooting changed dramatically over time, as she was repeatedly picked up for prostitution, and each time, was brought down to the Philadelphia Police Homicide Unit, where she was questioned again and again about what she had seen. In her first interview with detectives, she said she saw Abu-Jamal shoot the officer several times before Faulkner fell to the ground. A week later, she said it had been one or two shots that were fired before the officer fell to the ground. A month later, in January, 1982, she was talking about only one shot being fired before Faulkner was on the ground--the version of her account that she eventually presented at trial.

Given the already problematic nature of both Chobert's and White's sworn testimony, this new gun test evidence demonstrating that there certainly should have been obvious bullet marks located around Faulkner's body if, as both these "eye-witnesses" testified under oath, he had been fired at repeatedly at point blank range by a shooter straddling Faulkner's prone body, the whole prosecution story of an execution-style slaying of the officer by Abu-Jamal would appear to be a prosecution fabrication, complete with coached, perjured witnesses, undermining the integrity and fairness of the entire trial, as well as the subsequent death sentence.

Told about the results of the their gun test, and asked four questions to explain the lack of photographic evidence or testimony about bullet impact marks in the sidewalk around Faulkner's body, the Philadelphia DA's office offered only a non-response, saying, "The murderer has been represented over the past twenty plus years by a multitude of lawyers, many of whom have closely reviewed the evidence for the sole purpose of finding some basis to overturn the conviction. As you know, none has succeeded, and Mr. Abu-Jamal remains what the evidence proved - a murderer."

Robert R. Bryan, lead attorney for Abu-Jamal, informed of the results of the gun test, and shown a copy of the resulting marks on the concrete, said, "Wow. This is extraordinarily important new evidence that establishes clearly that the prosecutor and the Philadelphia Police Department were engaged in presenting knowingly false testimony to a jury in a case involving the life of my client. The evidence not only demonstrates the falsity of the prosecution's story about how the shooting occurred, and of the effort to portray the shooting to the jury as an execution-style slaying. It raises serious questions as to whether either of the two key witnesses actually were witnesses to the shooting."

Courts - federal and state - have over the years rejected all evidentiary challenges and all but one procedural error in the Abu-Jamal case, despite granting legal relief on the same issues as those raised by Abu-Jamal in dozens of other Pennsylvania murder cases--including a few cases involving the murder of police officers.

In contrast to these consistent court rulings declaring Abu-Jamal's trial to have been fair, the respected organization Amnesty International and other entities and legal experts contend Abu-Jamal did not receive a fair trial in part due to improprieties by police and prosecutors. AI's seminal February 2000 investigative report on this case stated, "The politicization of Mumia Abu-Jamal's case may not only have prejudiced his right to a fair trial, but may now be undermining his right to fair and impartial treatment in the appeal courts."

The Abu-Jamal case, which has garnered international attention, is currently back before the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals after a remand order by the US Supreme Court to re-examine an earlier ruling eliminating Abu-Jamal's death penalty. It is also back in the news with two new documentary films being premiered this Tuesday (9/21) in Philadelphia--one, "The Barrel of a Gun," which concludes Abu-Jamal is guilty, and another "Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal", which argues his innocence.
* * *

13) Extreme Heat Bleaches Coral, and Threat Is Seen
September 20, 2010

This year's extreme heat is putting the world's coral reefs under such severe stress that scientists fear widespread die-offs, endangering not only the richest ecosystems in the ocean but also fisheries that feed millions of people.

From Thailand to Texas, corals are reacting to the heat stress by bleaching, or shedding their color and going into survival mode. Many have already died, and more are expected to do so in coming months. Computer forecasts of water temperature suggest that corals in the Caribbean may undergo drastic bleaching in the next few weeks.

What is unfolding this year is only the second known global bleaching of coral reefs. Scientists are holding out hope that this year will not be as bad, over all, as 1998, the hottest year in the historical record, when an estimated 16 percent of the world's shallow-water reefs died. But in some places, including Thailand, the situation is looking worse than in 1998.

Scientists say the trouble with the reefs is linked to climate change. For years they have warned that corals, highly sensitive to excess heat, would serve as an early indicator of the ecological distress on the planet caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases.

"I am significantly depressed by the whole situation," said Clive Wilkinson, director of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, an organization in Australia that is tracking this year's disaster.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the first eight months of 2010 matched 1998 as the hottest January to August period on record. High ocean temperatures are taxing the organisms most sensitive to them, the shallow-water corals that create some of the world's most vibrant and colorful seascapes.

Coral reefs occupy a tiny fraction of the ocean, but they harbor perhaps a quarter of all marine species, including a profusion of fish. Often called the rain forests of the sea, they are the foundation not only of important fishing industries but also of tourist economies worth billions.

Drastic die-offs of coral were seen for the first time in 1983 in the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean, during a large-scale weather event known as El Niño. During an El Niño, warm waters normally confined to the western Pacific flow to the east; 2010 is also an El Niño year.

Serious regional bleaching has occurred intermittently since the 1983 disaster. It is clear that natural weather variability plays a role in overheating the reefs, but scientists say it cannot, by itself, explain what has become a recurring phenomenon.

"It is a lot easier for oceans to heat up above the corals' thresholds for bleaching when climate change is warming the baseline temperatures," said C. Mark Eakin, who runs a program called Coral Reef Watch for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "If you get an event like El Niño or you just get a hot summer, it's going to be on top of the warmest temperatures we've ever seen."

Coral reefs are made up of millions of tiny animals, called polyps, that form symbiotic relationships with algae. The polyps essentially act as farmers, supplying the algae with nutrients and a place to live. The algae in turn capture sunlight and carbon dioxide to make sugars that feed the coral polyps.

The captive algae give reefs their brilliant colors. Many reef fish sport fantastical colors and patterns themselves, as though dressing to match their surroundings.

Coral bleaching occurs when high heat and bright sunshine cause the metabolism of the algae to speed out of control, and they start creating toxins. The polyps essentially recoil. "The algae are spat out," Dr. Wilkinson said.

The corals look white afterward, as though they have been bleached. If temperatures drop, the corals' few remaining algae can reproduce and help the polyps recover. But corals are vulnerable to disease in their denuded condition, and if the heat stress continues, the corals starve to death.

Even on dead reefs, new coral polyps will often take hold, though the overall ecology of the reef may be permanently altered. The worst case is that a reef dies and never recovers.

In dozens of small island nations and on some coasts of Indonesia and the Philippines, people rely heavily on reef fish for food. When corals die, the fish are not immediately doomed, but if the coral polyps do not recover, the reef can eventually collapse, scientists say, leaving the fishery far less productive.

Research shows that is already happening in parts of the Caribbean, though people there are not as dependent on fishing as those living on Pacific islands.

It will be months before this year's toll is known for sure. But scientists tracking the fate of corals say they have already seen widespread bleaching in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific, with corals in Thailand, parts of Indonesia and some smaller island nations being hit especially hard earlier this year.

Temperatures have since cooled in the western Pacific, and the immediate crisis has passed there, even as it accelerates in places like the Caribbean, where the waters are still warming. Serious bleaching has been seen recently in the Flower Garden Banks, a marine sanctuary off the Texas-Louisiana border.

In Thailand, "there some signs of recovery in places," said James True, a biologist at Prince of Songkla University. But in other spots, he said, corals were hit so hard that it was not clear young polyps would be available from nearby areas to repopulate dead reefs.

"The concern we have now is that the bleaching is so widespread that potential source reefs upstream have been affected," Dr. True said.

Even in a hot year, of course, climate varies considerably from place to place. The water temperatures in the Florida Keys are only slightly above normal this year, and the beloved reefs of that region have so far escaped serious harm.

Parts of the northern Caribbean, including the United States Virgin Islands, saw incipient bleaching this summer, but the tropical storms and hurricanes moving through the Atlantic have cooled the water there and may have saved some corals. Farther south, though, temperatures are still remarkably high, putting many Caribbean reefs at risk.

Summer is only just beginning in the Southern Hemisphere, but water temperatures off Australia are also above normal, and some scientists are worried about the single most impressive reef on earth. The best hope now, Dr. Wilkinson said, is for mild tropical storms that would help to cool Australian waters.

"If we get a poor monsoon season," he said, "I think we're in for a serious bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef."


14) On a Clock, a Grim Toll of Mothers
September 20, 2010

For years, New York City has had a National Debt Clock, an electronic billboard perched on West 44th Street, with numbers spinning every second to reflect the explosive growth in what this country owes.

On Monday, the debt clock got a death clock as a neighbor.

In Times Square, just north of 44th Street, a digital sign began carrying a message quite different from what one usually sees on a billboard operated by MTV and flanked by images of Kanye West and Usher.

The "maternal death clock," as it was called, ticked off 90 seconds, then started the count all over again. Then again. And again. And again.

Every 90 seconds, on average, a woman dies in childbirth somewhere in the world. That is nearly 1,000 women a day. It adds up to 358,000 women a year, according to the most recent estimates made by United Nations agencies and the World Bank.

That is a lot of death, considering that much of it could be prevented with better medical care.

The death clock, a creation of Amnesty International, will be in place for three days, to coincide with a gathering across town. World leaders are getting together at the United Nations this week to recommit themselves to the Millennium Development Goals, a batch of targets agreed to 10 years ago for reducing abject poverty around the globe by 2015.

The concerns are many: hunger, unsafe drinking water, environmental ruination, infant mortality, to name a few. Also on that sad list is the rate at which women die while trying to give life.

Amnesty International's adoption of this issue might seem unusual for a human rights organization. Isn't it essentially a public health matter?

On one level, yes, said Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International USA. But, Mr. Cox added, "it's such a clear example of people dying who don't need to."

"That's the ultimate definition of a human rights issue - steps that can be taken, and aren't," he added.

The situation is not entirely bleak. There is hope for improvement. Those 358,000 deaths, an estimate for 2008, were well below the 546,000 believed to have occurred in 1990. Even so, the rate of decline has been substantially slower than hoped for when those development goals were set.

Not everyone is impressed by the depth of the world leaders' commitment. No sanctions, for example, are imposed if a country doesn't measure up. "The cost is being paid by these women who are dying every 90 seconds," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's secretary general.

It might seem that maternal mortality is a distant worry for most of us, given that nearly 90 percent of the deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. But the United States has no reason to feel good in this regard. Nor does New York City.

When it comes to mortality rates - measured as the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births - the United States ranked 50th on a United Nations list of countries, behind nearly all other industrialized nations and even behind not-so-prosperous ones like Serbia and Slovakia. In some respects, the American situation has worsened in the last two decades, said Nan Strauss, an Amnesty researcher.

As for New York, a recent report prepared by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and by the New York Academy of Medicine put the death rate here at twice the national average. Not that the actual number of deaths is huge. This analysis was based on 161 deaths from 2001 to 2005. Still, the assumption is that many of the deaths could have been avoided with better nutrition and prenatal care.

Half of these women were obese. More than half had chronic health problems like hypertension and asthma. Blacks were seven times as likely to die in pregnancy as whites. Poor women were more likely to die than wealthier women. In many women, these various factors overlapped.

As it is throughout the country, the death rate is a small fraction of what it was a century ago. But progress has stalled over the last 20 years, and "this is of great concern to the department," said Deborah Kaplan, an assistant health commissioner. Officials are doing "enhanced surveillance" of maternal deaths, she said, to learn what might be done to keep the grim numbers down.

This is, obviously, no simple matter. Even in the time it took many of you to read this far, two more women, somewhere, died bringing life into the world.

E-mail: haberman@nytimes.com


15) Family Fight, Border Patrol Raid, Baby Deported
September 20, 2010


A few days before her daughter Rosa's first birthday, Monica Castro and the girl's father had a violent argument in the trailer they all shared near Lubbock, Tex. Ms. Castro fled, leaving her daughter behind.

Ms. Castro, a fourth-generation American citizen, went to the local Border Patrol station. She said she would give the agents there information about the girl's father, a Mexican in the country illegally, in exchange for help recovering her daughter.

Ms. Castro lived up to her side of the deal. But the federal government ended up deporting little Rosa, an American citizen, along with her father, Omar Gallardo. Ms. Castro would not see her daughter again for three years.

On the morning of Dec. 3, 2003, agents raided the trailer and seized Mr. Gallardo, who was wanted for questioning as a witness to a murder. They also took Rosa. Then they told Ms. Castro she had until that afternoon to get a court order if she wanted to keep her daughter.

A frantic lawyer rushed to court, and she called to plead for more time. But there was no court order yet when the government van arrived around 3 p.m., and agents hustled father and daughter into it for the long ride to the border.

Ms. Castro later sued the government, saying the agents had no legal authority to detain, much less deport, her daughter. Nor should Border Patrol agents, she said, take the place of family-court judges in making custody decisions.

The last court to rule in the case, the full United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, rejected Ms. Castro's arguments, over the dissents of three judges.

The brief unsigned majority decision, echoing that of the trial judge, said the appeals court did not "condone the Border Patrol's actions or the choices it made." But, the decision went on, Ms. Castro could not sue the government because the agents had been entitled to use their discretion in the matter.

Ms. Castro's lawyers last month asked the United States Supreme Court to hear the case, in a petition bristling with restrained incredulity.

The agents themselves have rejected the assertion that they may have acted a little rashly.

Holding Mr. Gallardo and the girl overnight, long enough for an American court to sort things out, would have involved "a tremendous amount of money," Gregory L. Kurupas, the agent in charge of the Lubbock and Amarillo stations at the time, testified in a 2006 deposition.

Asked to quantify the daunting sum, Agent Kurupas replied, "Well over $200 plus."

The American government gave Ms. Castro no help in finding Rosa beyond identifying the city in Mexico to which she had been delivered. That news did not comfort Ms. Castro.

"She was sent to Juárez, which is now the most dangerous city on the face of the planet," said Susan L. Watson, one of Ms. Castro's lawyers.

Mr. Gallardo was in time again arrested for entering the United States illegally. As part of his plea arrangement, he agreed to return Rosa, who had lived with his relatives in Mexico. He was once again deported, and my efforts to find him were unsuccessful.

The mother and child reunion, at the United States Consulate in Ciudad Juárez in 2006, was rocky. Rosa, then 4, did not recognize her mother and did not want to leave her other relatives.

"She was crying," Ms. Castro recalled. "I started talking to her in Spanish, and she started yelling. She would hit me with her doll. She kicked me. She didn't want anything to do with me. She wanted to be with her grandmother."

Like the appeals court, the trial judge, Janis Graham Jack of Federal District Court in Corpus Christi, expressed some uneasiness about the case. Judge Jack said the agents might not have chosen "the optimal course of action."

Judge Jerry E. Smith of the Fifth Circuit, who was in dissent when a three-judge panel of the court first heard the case and in the majority when the full court revisited it, agreed that the situation was not a happy one.

"No one is pleased," Judge Smith wrote in his dissent, "that Castro did not see her daughter for three years."

Things are much better these days, Ms. Castro said. Rosa is a happy, thriving 7-year-old in Corpus Christi. "She's a straight-A honor roll student, in second grade now," Ms. Castro said.

Ms. Castro added that the Supreme Court "should do something about the Border Patrol," and perhaps the court will. The patrol did, after all, send an American infant to Ciudad Juárez with a man mixed up in a murder to save a couple of hundred dollars.

Or perhaps Ms. Castro will have to make do with the muted murmurs of sympathy she has received from judges who have heard her case so far. They do not condone what happened, are not pleased by it and, if pressed, are willing to say that the entire affair was "not optimal."


16) Recession May Be Over, but Joblessness Remains
September 20, 2010

The United States economy has lost more jobs than it has added since the recovery began over a year ago.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The downturn officially ended, and the recovery officially began, in June 2009, according to an announcement Monday by the official arbiter of economic turning points. Since that point, total output - the amount of goods and services produced by the United States - has increased, as have many other measures of economic activity.

But nonfarm payrolls are still down 329,000 from their level at the recession's official end 15 months ago, and the slow growth in recent months means that the unemployed still have a long slog ahead.

"We started from a deep hole," said James Poterba, an economics professor at M.I.T. and a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research's Business Cycle Dating Committee, which declared the recession's end. "And clearly the bounce-back has not been immediate after hitting this trough."

The declaration of the recession's end confirms what many suspected: The 2007-9 recession was not only the longest post-World War II recession, but also the deepest, in terms of both job losses and at least one measure of output declines.

The announcement also implies that any contraction that might lie ahead would be a separate and distinct recession, and one that the Obama administration could not claim to have inherited. While economists generally say such a double-dip recession seems unlikely, new monthly estimates of gross domestic product, released by two committee members, show that output shrank in May and June, the most recent months for which data are available. Output and other factors would have to shrink for a longer period of time before another contraction might be declared.

Even without a full-blown double dip in the economy, the recovery thus far has been so anemic that the job picture seems likely to stagnate, and perhaps even get worse, in the near future.

Many forecasters estimate that output needs to grow over the long run by about 2.5 percent to keep the unemployment rate, now at 9.6 percent, constant. The economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.6 percent in the second quarter of this year, and private forecasts indicate growth will not be much better in the third quarter. (The Business Cycle Dating Committee itself does not engage in forecasting.)

"The amount of unemployment we've already got and the slowness of recovery lead to predictions that we could have 9-plus percent unemployment even through the next presidential election," said Robert J. Gordon, an economics professor at Northwestern University and a committee member.

"What's really unique about this recession is the amount of unemployment in combination with the slowness of the recovery," he said. "That's just not happened before. We had a sharp recession followed by a sharp recovery in the 1980s. And in '91 and '01 we had slow recoveries, but those recessions were shallow recessions, so the slowness didn't matter much."

All three of these most recent recoveries have been known as jobless recoveries, as employment growth has significantly lagged output growth. In this recovery, the job market bottomed six months after economic output bottomed. That is still not nearly as much of a lag as experienced after the 2001 recession, when it took the job market 19 months to turn around after output improved.

This new pattern of jobless recoveries has led to some complaints that employment should play a more prominent role in dating business cycles and to criticism that a jobless recovery is not truly a recovery at all. Business Cycle Dating Committee members have been reluctant to change their criteria too drastically, though, because they want to maintain consistency in the official chronology of contractions and expansions.

While all three recent recoveries have been weak for employment, the job market has to cover the most ground from the latest recession.

From December 2007 to June 2009, the American economy lost more than 5 percent of its nonfarm payroll jobs, the largest decline since World War II. And through December 2009, the month that employment hit bottom, the nation had lost more than 6 percent of its jobs.

The unemployment rate, which comes from a different survey, peaked last October at 10.1 percent. The postwar high was in 1982, at 10.8 percent. But the composition of the work force was very different in the 1980s - it was younger, and younger people tend to have higher unemployment rates - and so if adjusted for age, unemployment this time around actually looks much worse.

The broadest measure of unemployment, including people who are reluctantly working part time when they wish to be working full time and those who have given up looking for work altogether, also was at its highest level since World War II.

There is some debate, though, about whether this recession was the worst in terms of output.

Adjusted for inflation, output contracted more than in any other postwar period, according to Robert E. Hall, a Stanford economics professor and committee chairman.

But some economists say that a better measure would be the gap between where output is and where it could have been if growth had been uninterrupted.

"It's definitely not as deep as 1981-82 when measured relative to the economy's potential growth rate," Mr. Gordon said.

Besides employment, nearly every indicator that the committee considers simultaneously reached a low point in June 2009, which made that month a relatively easy selection as the official turning point, Mr. Gordon said. The committee previously met in April but had decided that the data were inconclusive.

In its statement on Monday affirming the recession's end, the bureau took care to note that the recession, by definition, meant only the period until the economy reached its low point - not a return to its previous vigor.

"In declaring the recession over, we're not at all saying the unemployment rate, or anything else, has returned to normal," said James H. Stock, an economics professor at Harvard and a member of the business cycle committee.

"We clearly still have a long ways to go."


17) Jobless Rate Rises in 27 States
September 21, 2010, 11:06 am

The unemployment rate rose in 27 states between July and August, the Labor Department reported Tuesday, although only Maryland and Florida recorded statistically significant increases.

Nevada again had the highest unemployment rate in the country in August. The rate, 14.4 percent, was at its highest since the department began keeping records of state unemployment in 1976.

It was the fourth consecutive month that Nevada topped the list of states, followed by Michigan with a rate of 13.1 percent and California with 12.4 percent. North Dakota again had the lowest rate, at 3.7 percent.

North Carolina created the most jobs in August, with 18,600 nonfarm payroll positions. At the other end of the scale, employers in Michigan cut the most jobs, slashing 50,300.

Compared with a year ago, 26 states recorded decreases in their unemployment rates. Eight were statistically significant: Alabama, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin.



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