Sunday, October 10, 2010



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




The Freedom Archives presents the new documentary COINTELPRO 101

Sunday, October 10th - 4:00pm & 7:00pm - Mission Cultural Center

Film screening & program with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Soffiyah Elijah
suggested donation $10, youth $5

Tickets now available online for the 4 pm and 7 pm screenings of "COINTELPRO 101." Click here for tickets:

COINTELPRO 101 exposes illegal surveillance, disruption, and outright murder committed by the US government in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. With rare historical footage and interviews with activists who experienced these government abuses firsthand, the film provides an educational introduction to a period of intense repression and draws relevant lessons for the present and future.

To view the Trailer and more details about the film

Sunday, October 10th at 4 & 7pm

Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
2868 Mission Street
San Francisco

This event is wheelchair accessible.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977


Next Organizing Meeting, New Flyer and Endorsers for Oct. 23 Oscar Grant Rally

Sisters and Brothers,
The latest endorser is the Alameda Labor Council which voted unanimously to endorse and to mobilize the rally by sending out tflyer to all union affiliates. The salient point here is not only to get endorsements but to MOBILIZE the ranks of organizations for the rally. The next organizing meeting is 7PM Thursday Oct. 14th at ILWU Local 10 located at 400 North Point St.; San Francisco (near Fisherman's Wharf). THIS WILL BE THE LAST GENERAL ORGANIZING MEETING BEFORE THE RALLY SO MAKE SURE YOUR ORGANIZATION IS WELL REPRESENTED. WE WILL HAVE THE NEW FLYER AVAILABLE LISTING THE RALLY ENDORSERS. The pdf for the new flyer is attached.

In solidarity,


The next meeting of the Bay Area United National Antiwar Committee will take place Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 1:00 P.M.
Location to be announced.


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

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

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

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

Sponsored by:

ILWU Local 10

Endorsed by other labor and community organizations.

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


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



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

Whereas, Oscar Grant's killer, BART police officer Johannes Mehserle received a verdict of involuntary manslaughter on July 8, 2010 and will be sentenced on November 5; and

Whereas, video tapes show clearly that Oscar Grant was lying face down on the Fruitvale BART platform, waiting to be handcuffed with another cop's boot on his neck posing no threat when he was shot in the back and killed in cold blood by Mehserle; and

Whereas, wherever employers try to break a strike, police are there to protect the scabs and attack workers, as we know from the 1934 West Coast Maritime Strike, to the Charleston Five longshore struggle in 2000; and

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

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

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

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

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All.


October 30-31st Mobilizing Conference | Education 4 the People!
October 30-31st Mobilizing Conference
October 30-31st (Saturday-Sunday)
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132


We, the people, have the democratic power to beat back these attacks
and ensure that our public institutions effectively serve the public.
But to do so, members of all regions and sectors - adult-ed,
students, workers, teachers, activists, unions, and community
organizations - must unite and take action on October 7th, and
contribute our voices and thoughts to the October 30-31st conference at
San Francisco State University to defend public education.

The purpose of the October 30-31st conference is to democratically
propose demands, devise an action plan, and create a structure capable
of defending public education and public services for the benefit of

We invite all supporters of education across the nation to attend and
participate in the October 7th day of action and the October 30-31st

Conference organizing email list (Google group):

Conference locations:
Saturday: Cesar Chavez Student Union
Sunday: McKenna Theater
(See SE Quadrant of Campus map)

Public Transportation to SFSU: Directions to San Francisco State U

Parking: Where and When Can I Park?
Note that on-campus parking is usually available on the weekends, but street parking time-limited.

Preliminary Agenda

Future Actions - break-out groups (discussing, drafting proposals)
Future Actions - plenary (adoption of proposals)
Demands - break-out groups
Demands - plenary
Structure for the future - break-out groups
Structure for the future - plenary




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




RETHINK Afghanistan: The 10th Year: Afghanistan Veterans Speak Out



Dear readers,

There is something very ominous about the Fox News reporting of Israeli business in the U.S. I have seen such a Kiosk at the Stonestown Mall in San Francisco selling skin-treatment salts from the Dead Sea. The salesmen and women are well-dressed and groomed and young--in their twenties. But the presence of these Kiosks does not "prove" the presence of an "enemy Israeli spy ring." I figured it to be Israeli business interests in San Francisco and, of course, I would never purchase an Israeli product. I also must say, they are pushy sales representatives--they follow you for a few steps saying, "Excuse me, may I talk to you" and they repeated it several times until you answer "No" then they leave you alone.

But Israel doesn't control the U.S. It's the other way around:

"In an article in the March 1995 issue of The Middle East Forum Promoting American Interests entitled, "Jesse Helms: Setting the Record Straight," Helms, who was the senior senator from North Carolina and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time stated, "I have long believed that if the United States is going to give money to Israel, it should be paid out of the Department of Defense budget. My question is this: If Israel did not exist, what would U.S. defense costs in the Middle East be? Israel is at least the equivalent of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Middle East. Without Israel promoting its and America's common interests, we would be badly off indeed."

Israel's the equivalent to much more than that today to protect U.S. interests in the area. In fact, according to Wikipedia Israel is second only to Iraq as the largest recipient of U.S. aid to the tune of at least $3 billion dollars a year (a very modest estimate):

Of course, it doesn't include the amount of profits Israeli businesses are earning in U.S. malls and other financial investment interests. Don't buy Israeli products or services. Demand divestment in Israel. End All U.S. Aid to Israel NOW! End the Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Colombia and everywhere under the U.S. or U.S. financed gun or drone!

But please, Israel is not policing or controlling the world, that is being carried out by the U.S. government backed up by its military, the biggest purveyor of violence in the world!

The Kiolsks in the mall? A little extra earnings for well-to-do Israeli youth. Another U.S. perk for apartheid Israel.

Twenty Plus Israeli Military Agents at San Francisco Mall Kiosk Front Companies 2009


Firefighters Watch As Home Burns:
Gene Cranick's House Destroyed In Tennessee Over $75 Fee
By Adam J. Rose
The Huffington Post -- videos
10- 5-10 12:12 AM


NOAA investigating husband & wife that were sprayed with dispersant while sleeping on boat


Dangers Lurk Beneath the Surface of Gulf of Mexico
September 29th, 2010
In spite of what you might have read in the news, the oil in the Gulf of Mexico has not just disappeared. It's lurking on the bottom, destroying marine life and entire ecosystems. On top of that, we are now starting to see adverse health effects from BP's use of the toxic oil dispersant known as Corexit, which is being dumped into the Gulf as we speak. Mike Papantonio talks about some of the effects that we're now seeing as a result of BP's dispersant chemicals with Dr. Riki Ott, one of the leading experts on the impact of oil spills on human health.


Soldier Describes Murder of Afghan for Sport in Leaked Tape
September 27, 2010, 6:43 pm


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


Stephen Colbert's statement before Congress


PcolaGregg Answers With Truth And Reality!




!*PA HRC ACTION ALERT! Prisoners protesting abusive conditions at Huntingdon attacked by guards

From: PA HRC

Action Alert- Prisoners protesting abusive conditions at Huntingdon attacked by guards

Emergency Response Network Action Alert- October 7, 2010

Prisoners at SCI Huntingdon attacked after protesting abusive conditions

Please Call SCI Huntingdon Superintendent Raymond Lawler and DOC Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal and demand an end to food deprivation and racist discrimination against Huntingdon Prisoners in the solitary confinement units. (Vincent Hallman, Jeremiah Weems, Rhonshawn Jackson, Jamiel Johnson, Gary Wallace, Kyle Klein, Anthony Martin, Anthony Allen, Eric Mackie)

On September 29, 8 prisoners from SCI Huntingdon planned a peaceful protest to speak out against ongoing intimidation, harassment, assault, food deprivation, and racism, racism, racism. Jamiel Johnson wrote HRC the day after, saying he and the other prisoners need immediate help and they are fighting for their lives.

The protest consisted of 8 prisoners refusing to return to their cells after being let outside for yard. They were issued misconduct reports and then "extracted" from their yard cages by being sprayed with chemical OC spray which affects their eyes, nose and breathing. (YouTube OC Spray) Vincent Hallman wrote that the correctional officers carted out three canisters of spray and then just "went at them" until they folded. While they were out in the yard, another prisoner in solitary confinement, Jeremiah Weems, was being sprayed with OC spray, extracted from his cell and taken to a restraint chair in a secluded part of the prison. The outside prisoners were brought in to medical but were not able to rinse their eyes of the blinding chemical or shower the chemicals off their person. Jamiel Johnson reported that once the prisoners were back in their cells, the abuse continued. The men inside their cells were sprayed and extracted, stripped, denied clothes, moved to other cells, moved back to OC cells, denied food, had the water turned off in all their cells and the air conditioning cranked up. The crisis is ongoing.

Please Call (talking points below):

SCI Huntingdon- (814) 643-2400 Ask to speak to Superintendent Lawler and say you are reporting abuse.

Regional Secretary Randall Britton- (717) 975-4930 Ask to speak to Randall Britton and say you are reporting abuse at SCI Huntingdon

Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal (717) 975-4819 Ask to speak to Secretary Smeal and say you are reporting abuse at SCI Huntingdon.

Please call SCI Huntingdon and other DOC officials and demand an end to the abuse and retaliation that has been ongoing at this institution. Please call elected officials and media people if you have time too. You can also write these officials if you can not make a phone call (addresses below). You can also reply to this email with comments if you cannot respond in any other way.

Talking Points for speaking to the Department of Corrections:

1) Tell them that you heard that a bunch of prisoners at SCI Huntingdon had a protest on September 29th as a REACTION against abusive conditions in the solitary confinement units

2) Ask them if they know of any abuse happening to prisoners in the solitary confinement units

3) After they say no, tell them you heard that a bunch of prisoners were losing weight and starving because they are regularly being denied food, especially last month during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.

4) Ask them what chemical weapon's are being sprayed on the prisoners and if there are any side effects to these chemical weapons

5) Ask them what measures are taken against guards who use racist language towards prisoners in the solitary confinement units. Ask them if calling prisoners "monkeys" and "niggers" is acceptable professional behavior.

6) Ask them if there is someone else you can speak to, who will address the problem in a proactive way.

7) Tell them you think the prisoner's should be transferred because at this point, you do not see how they could be treated fairly

Thank you for taking time to respond to this alert and raise the voices of the people inside whose human rights are being violated.

Courage and Solidarity,

HRC-Fed Up!

Address for SCI Huntingdon

Superintendent Raymond Lawler
1100 Pike St
Huntingdon PA 16654

Address for Randall Britton and Shirley Moore Smeal
2520 Lisburn Rd
P.O. Box 598
Camp Hill PA 17001


Dear all,

As you know, I publish the Bay Area United Against War (BAUAW) newsletter that goes out to over 380 groups and individuals in the Bay Area (mostly individuals). While BAUAW used to be an activist group and is no longer a group, the newsletter remains active and, in fact has grown. I was able to give a similar, but much shorter message to the demonstration September 28 as the publisher of the BAUAW Newsletter and blog at
Clearly, and unfortunately, this will be an ongoing campaign.

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein


About one- to two-hundred people showed up at the Federal Building in San Francisco at 7th and Mission Streets, on barely 24 hour's notice, to protest Obama's FBI raids against peace and social justice activists. It was broadly attended by the major antiwar, social justice groups and the labor movement. Speaker after speaker spoke against the raids as a threat to all who protest injustice carried out by the U.S. government here and abroad.

But the raids have not stopped! The only way to stop them is to stand united behind all those who have and will be persecuted by Obama's administration. We have a right to protest injustice wherever we perceive it--especially if the crimes are being funded by the U.S. government (our tax dollars) as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia and Palestine and numerous other places around the globe. An injury to one is an injury to all! We are only as strong as our weakest link. That is why we must stand together. Together, the weakest link becomes unbreakable.

The antiwar movement is obviously central to the defense of civil liberties and civil rights. That's why it's more important than ever for us to unite and call national and international actions against the wars, occupations and illegal military and police actions by our government here and everywhere--including these raids!

It's important first, to let the Obama administration know that this will not stop us from protesting, and second, to let this government know that we, the majority of people against the wars, being in the majority, have the right to dictate to them how our tax dollars should be spent.

We have the right to demand money for jobs, housing, healthcare, education and to life, liberty and peace of mind and body, not never-ending wars, occupations and prisons to preserve the wealth of the power elite. All human beings everywhere have these inalienable rights! We are citizens of the world and we all have these same common interests, human needs and wants.

If we don't stand together and demand them, we will not have them. More importantly, they are within our grasp if we stand united.

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein, Publisher of Bay Area United Against War Newsletter,

--- On Tue, 9/28/10, Women Against Military Madness wrote:

From: Women Against Military Madness
Subject: [WAMM] WAMM Board Co-Chair Subpoenaed to Appear Before Grand Jury

The witch-hunt continues! I know you have heard that Freedom Road and the Anti-War Committee are being investigated by the FBI.

Yesterday, WAMM board co-chair and long time peace activist, Sarah Martin was also served with a subpoena. She is to appear before a grand Jury, in Chicago, on October 12, as part of the FBI investigation that is trying to tie local peace groups to terrorism.

Sarah is innocent of terrorism or connection to organizations that condone terrorism.

This is part of a nationally coordinated action, surely approved by the director of the FBI and probably at higher levels than that. There has been considerable national media attention. It appears that our Twin Cities peace community has been thrust into the middle of something much larger. The affected activists will need a lot of our support as they resist increasing repression and "terrorism" hype from the Obama Administration.

The people targeted have several things in common which give an insight to the nature of this investigation. Locally, all have been connected to the Anti-War Committee and/or WAMM. I believe all are connected to Freedom Road Socialist Organization. All were deeply involved in organizing the mass marches at the RNC in 2008. I believe all have been involved in the efforts to stop the DNC from coming to Minneapolis in 2012. All or nearly all have traveled to Colombia and/or Palestine for international solidarity work.

Please join us at the first meeting of a new solidarity and defense committee, Thursday, September 30, 7:00 p.m. at Walker Methodist Church, 3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis. Feel free to invite friends, neighbors, lawyers, church members and leaders so that we can organize to keep this malignant FBI investigation from spreading further through out our community.

Democracy is indeed under a terrifying assault! Sadly enough, it is coming from the hands of our own government, directed at some of the best, brightest, and most conscientious of our own citizens. For those of us who hold the constitution and the Bill of Rights near and dear to our hearts, we must stand up to this new assault on American freedom.

Kim Doss-Smith, Executive Director, Woman Against Military Madness (WAMM), 612-827-5364.

Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)
310 East 38th Street, Suite 222
Minneapolis, MN 55409
612-827-5364 (phone)
612-827-6433 (fax) (email) (web site)


Protest the Raids
By Gregg Shotwell, Soldiers of Solidarity, UAW

Read or listen to the article linked above about raids on the homes of anti war activists.

Of course, most of us may say, "First they came for the anti war activists, but since I am not an anti war activist........" But you know where the story ends:
with you and me.

I know three of the people whose homes were raided.

I know them through my activism in the UAW.

All three are soldiers of solidarity, by that I mean, people who show up on the picket lines and who support solidarity wherever and whenever it is called for.

I attest to these allegiances without qualification.

All three are workers, parents, and people committed to peace, equality, solidarity, and justice.

They are friends not terrorists.

They are men and women of conscience and commitment.

If the feds can terrorize them, they can terrorize you and me as well.

Note in the interview the connection to Columbia, the most dangerous
country in the world FOR TRADE UNIONISTS. They don't fire union supporters in Columbia, they murder them.

Now the FBI is raiding the homes of people who work for the union movement
in the USA and who advocate for peace rather than war.

Pick up the phone or email Obama, go straight to the top and demand the feds stop terrorizing workers who are campaigning for peace, solidarity, and justice. Don't wait. Don't think for a minute that you can hide from the thought police. The intimidation won't stop at your door. What's to stop them? Your silence?

The only thing that can stop harassment is solidarity.

sos, Gregg Shotwell

To contact Obama:


San Francisco Labor Council Resolution

[Note: The following resolution -- submitted by David Welsh, NALC 214, and Alan Benjamin, OPEIU 3 -- was adopted unanimously by the SFLC Delegates' Meeting on Sept. 27, 2010.]

Condemn FBI Raids on Trade Union, Anti-War and Solidarity Activists

Whereas, early morning Sept. 24 in coordinated raids, FBI agents entered eight homes and offices of trade union and anti-war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago, confiscating crates full of computers, books, documents, notebooks, cell phones, passports, children's drawings, photos of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, videos and personal belongings. The FBI also raided offices of the Twin Cities Anti-war Committee, seizing computers; handed out subpoenas to testify before a federal Grand Jury to 11 activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan; and paid harassment visits to others in Wisconsin, California and North Carolina; and

Whereas, one target of the raid was the home of Joe Iosbaker, chief steward and executive board member of SEIU Local 73 in Chicago, where he has led struggles at the University of Illinois for employee rights and pay equity. Brother Iosbaker told the Democracy Now radio/TV program that FBI agents "systematically [went] through every room, our basement, our attic, our children's rooms, and pored through not just all of our papers, but our music collection, our children's artwork, my son's poetry journal from high school -- everything." He and his wife, a Palestine solidarity activist, were both issued subpoenas. The earliest subpoena dates are October 5 and 7; and

Whereas, the majority of those targeted by the FBI raids had participated in anti-war protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul MN, which resulted in hundreds of beatings and arrests [with almost all charges subsequently dropped]. Many of those targeted in the 9/24 raids were involved in humanitarian solidarity work with labor and popular movements in Colombia -- "the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist"-- whose US-funded government has been condemned by the AFL-CIO and internationally for the systematic assassination of hundreds of trade unionists; and

Whereas, the nationally coordinated dawn raids and fishing expedition marks a new and dangerous chapter in the protracted assault on the First Amendment rights of every union fighter, solidarity activist or anti-war campaigner, which began with 9/11 and the USA Patriot Act. The raids came only 4 days after a scathing report by the Department of Justice Inspector General that soundly criticized the FBI for targeting domestic groups such as Greenpeace and the Thomas Merton Center from 2002-06. In 2008, according to a 300-page report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI trailed a group of students in Iowa City to parks, libraries, bars and restaurants, and went through their trash. This time the FBI is using the pretext of investigating "terrorism" in an attempt to intimidate activists.

Therefore be it resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council denounce the Sept. 24th FBI raids on the homes and offices of trade union, solidarity and anti-war activists in Minneapolis, Chicago and elsewhere; the confiscation of computers and personal belongings; and the issuance of Grand Jury subpoenas. This has all the earmarks of a fishing expedition. The FBI raids are reminiscent of the Palmer Raids, McCarthy hearings, J. Edgar Hoover, and COINTELPRO, and mark a new and dangerous chapter in the protracted assault on the First Amendment rights of every union fighter, international solidarity activist or anti-war campaigner, which began with 9/11 and the USA Patriot Act;

And be it further resolved, that this Council make the following demands:

1. Stop the repression against trade union, anti-war and international solidarity activists.

2. Immediately return all confiscated materials: computers, cell phones, papers, documents, personal belongings, etc.

3. End the Grand Jury proceedings and FBI raids against trade union, anti-war and international solidarity activists;

And be it further resolved, that this Council participate in the ongoing movement to defend our civil rights and civil liberties from FBI infringement; forward this resolution to Bay Area labor councils, California Labor Federation, Change to Win and AFL-CIO; and call on these organizations at all levels to similarly condemn the witch hunt;

And be it finally resolved, that this Council urge the AFL-CIO to ensure that denunciation of the FBI raids is featured from the speakers' platform at the October 2, 2010 One Nation march in Washington, DC, possibly by inviting one of those targeted by the raids, for example the SEIU chief steward whose home was raided, to speak at the rally.


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

We agree with the demands adopted by the UNAC conference but disagree with organizing separately as is now the case [And now, especially, because of the horrendous assault on our civil liberties by the ongoing Obama/FBI raids.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In all sincerity,

Bonnie Weinstein
Carole Seligman

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

Dear peace activist:

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

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

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

Carole Seligman
Bonnie Weinstein


Deafening Silence, Chuck Africa (MOVE 9)
Check out other art and poetry by prisoners at:
Shujaas!: Prisoners Resisting Through Art
...we banging hard, yes, very hard, on this system...

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!


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


Kevin Keith Update: Good News! Death sentence commuted!

Ohio may execute an innocent man unless you take action.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Justice for Bradley Manning!


The Undersigned:

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


Please forward widely...


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

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

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

Go to: and

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

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

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

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

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

Write to Lynne at:

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

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

Send contributions payable to:

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


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

And check out this article (link) too!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

# # #

For more information visit

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


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

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

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

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

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


Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense in the U.S. Our legal effort is the front line of the battle for Mumia's freedom and life. His legal defense needs help. The costs are substantial for our litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court and at the state level. To help, please make your checks payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left). All donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Code, section 501c)3), and should be mailed to:

It is outrageous and a violation of human rights that Mumia remains in prison and on death row. His life hangs in the balance. My career has been marked by successfully representing people facing death in murder cases. I will not rest until we win Mumia's case. Justice requires no less.

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


Short Video About Al-Awda's Work
The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected over the past nine years.
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

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

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

Thank you for your generosity!


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


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) No Groove, Just One Nation Under a Grip
By Jared A. Ball
Black Agenda Report, October 6, 2010

2) An Undemanding 'One Nation' Rally
Timidity on the Mall
By Stanley Heller
Counter Punch, October 7, 2010

3) Before Auction, Lennon Has Brush With the F.B.I.
October 6, 2010

4) Fiscal Woes Deepening for Cities, Report Says
October 6, 2010

5) Report Slams Administration for Underestimating Gulf Spill
October 6, 2010

6) Deportations From U.S. Hit a Record High
"Immigration authorities deported a record 392,862 immigrants over the last year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday." [Obama's immigration]
October 6, 2010

7) Personal Income Drops in New York Region
October 7, 2010, 12:07 pm

8) Employment Picture Dims as Government Cuts Back
October 8, 2010

9) New Sight for Cubans: Blizzard of Pink Slips
October 7, 2010

10) Washington: Court-Martial Recommended in Afghan Killings
October 7, 2010

11) New Study: Iraq / Afghanistan Wars May Cost VA $934 Billion
Written by AP
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 17:39

12) Policy at Its Worst
October 8, 2010

13) Marijuana, Once Divisive, Brings Some Families Closer
October 9, 2010


1) No Groove, Just One Nation Under a Grip
By Jared A. Ball
Black Agenda Report, October 6, 2010

A rally for jobs, justice and education that occurs only two years after the election of a president and party who apparently cannot deliver either and which blames not the party in power for those two years but only the fringe elements of the out-of-power right wing, is a rally that even with a George Clinton performance is One Nation under no groove only a grip. And this grip of the Democrats is no soft hold. It is a death grip. It is a strangle hold designed to squeeze the life out of progressive elements within their own party and throughout the rest of the country-indeed the world. In what is being heralded as a largely successful mobilization of a young, energetic, diverse movement led by unionized labor and civil rights organizations was really a carefully manicured slap in the face of those traditions of struggle. Rather than the traditions of each, which include bold, strong irreverent organized acts of disobedience today's versions are safely cajoled spokespersons of the liberal element of the ruling elite.

For those who have been coming to Washington, DC for decades to attend these kinds of rallies there was absolutely nothing new. First and foremost is that it was yet another march in DC that had nothing to do with the immediate concerns of most of the residents of DC. Secondly, there were the same tributes to organized religion, pledges of allegiance to the United States and a choir-styled national anthem meant to convey a fraudulent grassroots image and inclusion of the Black working class. But mostly it was the same in that it held out no real challenge to power, no threat of a push against liberalism or conservative Democratery. There were the regular co-opted calls of "power to the people," quotes referencing A. Phillip Randolph's that enemies of healthcare, education and jobs are "enemies of the Negro," comparisons made between the Tea Party and the old Dixiecrats and even an extended reading by several young people of Dr. King's, "I Have A Dream" speech. But there was only scant reference of King's own disillusion with his dream or the fact that the Dixiecrats of old are the Democrats of today and that these are still the "enemies of the Negro."

But worst of all was the consistent and clear message that the problems we face today are the result of "40 senators" and a rabid right-wing of the country whose persistent responses of "no" have held back our innocent, even heroic, current president. The calls for jobs, peace, healthcare and education were simply hollow given that the president all of these people elected has done nothing to advance any of these issues in ways that did not more so advance the interests of the very entities who benefit by the currently horrible conditions of each. The proud traditions of labor and human rights struggles in this country and around the world are disrespected by a leadership that simply says to vote for the Democrat who will beautify our oppression rather than end it. The argument coming loud and clear from the podium Saturday was simply that if you don't again vote for the Democrats and Obama then there was no point in having voted for them in the first place. There was no point then and there is no point now. A banker's party is a banker's party no matter the color or gender of the candidate.
There was one white man I heard this weekend who seems to have not completely lost his mind. David Swanson of the Progressive Democrats of America actually called for us to devalue the role of elections and the presidency itself by massive, even disruptive civil disobedience and grassroots organization. He is absolutely correct. Calls that we vote specifically because of the lives given toward achieving that right usually miss the point of what those fighting for the vote actually wanted that exercise to deliver. Marches that only belatedly call for the elected to deliver that which their benefactors have assured they cannot are simply foolishness. New directions with newly-developed methods of popular and public challenges are needed.

For in the end Dick Gregory was right. By consistently voting for the lesser of evil and by never seeking the truth about the assassinations of people we march in honor of we follow the path that leads us to Nazis.


2) An Undemanding 'One Nation' Rally
Timidity on the Mall
By Stanley Heller
Counter Punch, October 7, 2010

The "One Nation Working Together" rally was billed as a chance to "demand the changes we voted for." That slogan was just for the suckers. There was barely any criticism of the Administration from the main stage, just bleats for jobs and justice.

You would think that up on the main stage there would be giant banners with progressive slogans, "Obama, Hire Millions Now;" "Defend Public Education from the Privatizers;" "Why are a Million Blacks in Prison?;" "Cut the Pentagon Budget in Half." But there were no banners at all. Instead there were flags, lots of American flags.

None of the rally speakers were announced beforehand. That's always a big draw. Was it stupidity or just an effort to avoid showing that "peace" would not be part of the demonstration. Bless his heart, rally speaker Harry Belafonte did vigorously denounce our wars and he actually condemned the Afghanistan/Pakistan surge saying, "The President's decision to escalate the war in that region alone costs the nation $33 billion." He didn't challenge the President to bring the troops home, but no one else on the main stage criticized Obama on anything.

I must confess I didn't try to hear much of the speeches that day in DC. I saw many of the CSPAN videos later on Youtube. I carefully watched AFL-CIO President Trumka's speech and was astounded how useless it was. He says we need jobs "good jobs." He could have said a sentence about the plague of part-time, no benefit jobs, but he didn't. He had no mention of any program on how to get those "good jobs" other than to say we have to "rebuild schools and roads," etc. He actually said, "we have to compete and win in the world economy." Yikes, that's the boss's argument. The boss is sorry, but he has to reduce your wage so he can compete with factory owners in Bangladesh and Upper Volta.

Trumka said workers should have "the freedom to make every last job a good job, by joining together in a union to bargain for a better life," but he didn't explain that we no longer have that freedom, how it's near impossible to organize under current laws. He was speaking to 125,000 people and CSPAN and could have taken three minutes to talk about what the card check legislation was and why we need it so badly. No, that might embarrass Obama who did squat for card check.

Ben Jealous, "CEO" of the NAACP told people to vote. He said the "strongest words" are, "Americans...Family...future." Our national destiny he said is to move "Ever forward, never backwards" and "Let us nurture the practice of family values, by policies that value families." "Most importantly ...let us come together in the name of God, of liberty and of country to insure that jobs, justice and education remain at the top of our agenda." And then he led a 60-second chant of "One Nation, One Nation" and ended asking God bless America, the NAACP and various other entities. No denunciation of racism, or the fact that a million Blacks are in prison. No mention of the usual demand for a "Marshall Plan for the Cities." Staggering. Maybe Jealous was really the final speaker from the Glen Beck rally.

Jesse Jackson's speech was a mish-mash of descriptions of the open sores of 2010 America, compliments to Michelle Obama for being on the "right side of history" and repeated praise for the power of the vote. He said "stop killing in Afghanistan" and cut the military budget, but then made the incredible statement that we can "end unnecessary wars with this vote." What? By voting for the same Democrats who repeatedly backed all of Obama's war budgets? With intentional or unintentional irony CSPAN cutaway to a "Bring U.S. Troops, Mercenaries and War Dollars Home Now," sign for five full seconds.

The rally was billed as a demand for "quality education." Need we say that it's this Administration that's at war with public education, determined to "reform" the public school teaching profession into a mass of low paid overworked drudges, teaching to the test and quivering because they have no job security? Did anyone raise that from the main stage? Don't make me laugh. The best that can be said was that the October 7 day of Rallies to Defend Public Education was mentioned in passing.

What's really pathetic is that with all the emphasis on "Vote, vote, vote," the liberals were afraid to bring their Democratic candidates to the podium (though Jesse Jackson did give a salute to the ethically challenged Charles Rangel). Did they even ask Obama to show up? He evidently didn't want the rally. He endorsed a different rally, the half serious John Stewart rally of "moderates" that will occur in a couple of weeks.

Instead of listening to the Obama apologists I concentrated on the peace contingent rallies beforehand, and the peace feeder march.
There was a formation called the Peace Table, led by the United for Peace and Justice. It sponsored a nice professional website which was designed to give the impression that peace was a serious part of the One Nation Working Together program. Too bad it wasn't.

The serious left which organized the United National Anti-War Committee (at an excellent July conference in Albany) held a peace rally on 14th and Constitution with its own speakers, like Noura Erakat and Abayomi Azikiwe, Nada Khader and Phil Waylato. A hundred yards away was the UFPJ stage and eventually the two groups merged their programs. Most impressive were Larry Holmes from "Bail Out the People" who talked about the FBI raids and how the victims were planning to go to jail rather than to fink on their friends and Glen Ford of "Black is Back" who was not shy about naming names. He said, "We are not here in general, that we hate war in general. We are against the people who perpetrate wars and we've got to say their names and especially the chief perpetrator at this moment in time and that is Barack Obama." Chantelle Bateman of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke about their campaign to stop redeployments of soldiers suffering PTSD and other traumas. Omali Yeshitela gave a fiery speech and announced a Black is Back rally in DC for November 13 to denounce Barack Obama "for the fraud that he is."

The speeches were followed by a march around the Washington Monument. Most striking was the huge banner "Socialist Contingent" which was held in front of a hundred loudly chanting activists.

Groups had tables way back by the World War II memorial. Code Pink got a lot of attention with its "Bring the War Dollars Home" campaign. Peace Action handed out signs, which were gobbled up like hot cakes. My own group MECC ("The Struggle") unveiled its new "Unions, Dump Your Israel Bonds" banner and handed out brochures headlined, "Palestinian Workers are Getting Screwed," and "Why it Matters to Us." I also passed around mini-booklets produced for calling for direct government funding of millions of new jobs, "public enterprise."

Was this whole thing worth going to? The peace rally couldn't have had more than 300 spectators. How many more even saw the peace march?

Still, there were one-hundred-thousand of our kind of folks in DC that day and we had to make the effort to reach them. I know that for thousands of union members it was an exciting event no matter how worthless the speeches. Labor never has huge rallies, maybe one a decade! And several thousands fiery leaflets were passed out. And CSPAN did show some of the anti-war signs.

If only Trumka had pointed overseas to France or Spain where they are fighting the cutbacks with general strikes of millions of workers, where they reject "One Nation" crap and understand that the exploiters and workers are engaged in class war, where they actually talk about doing away with the capitalist sweatshop casino.

I can't imagine that the "One Nation" rally will do much to rally the union faithful or damp down the fury of the electorate. After the Republican deluge on Election Day will lessons be drawn? Will working people reject the One Nation rally's warmed over 1950's liberalism? Will they reject their grossly overpaid leaders who have brought them defeat after defeat? We shall see.

Stanley Heller is host of the TV program "The Struggle," writer for Economic Uprising and a member of AFL-CIO unions for over 40 years.


3) Before Auction, Lennon Has Brush With the F.B.I.
October 6, 2010

John Lennon has been dead for 30 years, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation is still on the case.

On Wednesday morning a small pop-culture memorabilia shop in Midtown opened an 836-lot auction timed to what would have been Lennon's 70th birthday, which is Saturday. The prized item was a set of Lennon's fingerprints made in 1976 as part of his application for citizenship. Minimum bid: $100,000.

But after an hourlong standoff involving cellphone calls, faxes and meetings with an agent in a parked car outside the East 57th Street storefront, the F.B.I. served the shop - called Gotta Have It! - with a subpoena and seized the fingerprint card, which was made at a New York police station on May 8, 1976, and bears a signature and the name John Winston Ono Lennon.

Given Lennon's history with the F.B.I. - he was under surveillance in the early 1970s for his antiwar activism - the events were strange enough to make Peter Siegel, an owner of the store, wonder what the fuss was about. Since last Thursday, he said, the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security and the United States attorney in Manhattan had asked about the card.

"I've been doing this 20 years and have never had this much government interest in something," Mr. Siegel said. "Here he is, one of our greatest musicians ever, and they just don't stop investigating this guy."

Jon Wiener, a history professor at the University of California, Irvine, who wrote the book "Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon F.B.I. Files," also noted that 1976 was a bit late in the F.B.I.'s Lennon timeline.

"As far as I know, the F.B.I. interest in Lennon was in the J. Edgar Hoover era," Professor Wiener said on Wednesday, "and his successors fairly quickly closed the books on the investigation." Mr. Hoover died in 1972.

Yet despite the display of federal investigative force, the interest in Lennon's fingerprint card may turn out to be prosaic, perhaps having to do with ownership of government property. On Wednesday an F.B.I. spokesman, James Margolin, said there was an "investigation into how that item came to be up for auction."

The card, Mr. Siegel said, was being sold for a private collector, whom he identified only as a former concert promoter who had bought the card at a Beatles convention about two decades ago.

It is not the first time a Lennon fingerprint card has been offered at auction. In 1991 Sotheby's sold a similar item for $4,125, without incident.

Leon Wildes, Lennon's immigration lawyer in the 1970s, offered a theory about the document's provenance.

During the summer of 1976, Mr. Wildes said on Wednesday, he had some of Lennon's paperwork with him, including a fingerprint form, while making a television appearance. "When I returned to where I was, from New York, it turned out it was missing," he said. "I was very upset. We called about it, and nobody seemed to know where it was."

At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, an F.B.I. agent appeared outside Gotta Have It!, parked in a blue Ford. Mr. Siegel said the agent lacked a proper subpoena. After a flurry of phone calls between the store owners and their lawyer, and many visits to the agent in the Ford, the store owners received a subpoena by fax that satisfied their lawyer, and turned over the document.

"If it was anybody else's fingerprint card," Mr. Siegel said, "I wouldn't hear from anybody."


4) Fiscal Woes Deepening for Cities, Report Says
October 6, 2010

The nation's cities are in their worst fiscal shape in at least a quarter of a century and have probably not yet hit the bottom of their slide, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The report, by the National League of Cities, found that many cities, which are in their fourth straight year of declining revenues, are only now beginning to see lower property values translate into lower property tax collections, which are the backbone of many city budgets.

It can take several years for city assessors to catch up to real estate market conditions, and this year, for the first time since the housing bubble burst, cities are projecting a 1.8 percent decrease in property tax collections.

With sales tax collections still down, and unemployment and stagnant salaries taking a toll on cities that rely on income-tax revenues, cities are seeing their revenues drop even faster than many of them have been able to cut spending. They also face the additional burden of paying rising health care and pension costs for their employees.

"The effects of a depressed real estate market, low levels of consumer confidence, and high levels of unemployment will likely play out in cities through 2010, 2011 and beyond," the report said.

Cities around the country have made steep cuts to stay afloat, from layoffs of firefighters and police officers to turning off street lights. The report, which surveyed finance officers in 338 cities, found that two-thirds of them were canceling or delaying construction and maintenance projects, a third were laying off workers and a quarter were cutting public safety.

Christopher W. Hoene, one of the authors of the report, said in an interview that the length of the downturn had dealt cities an unusual blow: in most recessions, he said, sales tax collections start to improve by the time property tax collections drop to reflect lower home values.

"This time around, the recession has been deep enough that we have the two major sources of revenue down at the same time," Mr. Hoene said.

And cities have few places to turn for help, leaving tax increases and service cuts as their main options.

"Right now there isn't really anywhere to turn," Mr. Hoene said, noting that many states are now cutting aid to cities, not increasing it. "The state budgets are in a position where they are more likely to hurt than to help."


5) Report Slams Administration for Underestimating Gulf Spill
October 6, 2010

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration failed to act upon or fully inform the public of its own worst-case estimates of the amount of oil gushing from the blown-out BP well, slowing response efforts and keeping the American people in the dark for weeks about the size of the disaster, according to preliminary reports from the presidential commission investigating the accident.

The government repeatedly underestimated how much oil was flowing into the Gulf of Mexico and how much was left after the well was capped in July, leading to a loss of faith in the government's ability to handle the spill and a continuing breach between the federal authorities and state and local officials, the commission staff members found in a series of four reports issued Wednesday.

"By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the gulf," one of the reports stated, "the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem."

The reports also say that about two weeks after the BP rig exploded, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration asked the White House for permission to make public its worst-case models for the accident. The White House Office of Management and Budget initially denied the request, according to government officials interviewed by the commission's staff members.

The White House responded vigorously to the assertions on Wednesday, saying it never concealed its most dire estimates of the spill and quickly threw everything the government had at the problem. As for the NOAA report, White House officials said that it was a flawed and incomplete study and that they sent it back to the agency for more analysis. It was eventually released in early July.

The four reports, from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, make clear that the president-appointed panel does not intend to spare the administration as it prepares a final report on the accident to be delivered to the White House early next year.

It has not yet completed its work on the causes of the well explosion or the efforts to contain the oil, but the tenor of Wednesday's reports indicates that the White House, cabinet officers, Coast Guard commanders and senior government scientists will shoulder a fair amount of blame for the response to the accident.

The government stuck to its public flow rate estimate of 5,000 barrels a day for more than a month, even though BP officials and government scientists acknowledged that the rate could be as high as 110,000 barrels a day.

Ultimately, government and independent scientists established that the uncontrolled flow was roughly 60,000 barrels a day for much of the spill, discharging nearly five million barrels of oil into the gulf. The 18,000-foot-deep well was capped on July 15 and declared dead in late September, when a cement plug was fixed to the bottom.

Government officials have acknowledged that they miscalculated the amount of oil pouring into the gulf and, at least early on, relied on data from BP. But they said they based their response not on those figures but on worst-case estimates, including the figure of 162,000 barrels a day that BP used in its 2009 drilling permit application.

The government deployed thousands of vessels to try to collect and contain the oil and used nearly two million gallons of dispersants to break it into small droplets to speed its degradation.

In August, top administration officials said that 75 percent of the oil had evaporated, dissolved or been collected, implying that their efforts had been largely successful and that ecological damage had been limited. Carol Browner, the White House coordinator for energy and climate change, declared on Aug. 4: "I think it's also important to note that our scientists have done an initial assessment and more than three-quarters of the oil is gone. The vast majority of the oil is gone."

But the commission staff members said the government's own data did not support such sweeping conclusions, which were later scaled back. A number of respected independent researchers have concluded that as much as half of the spilled oil remains suspended in the water or buried on the seafloor and in coastal sludge. And it will be some time before scientists can paint an accurate picture of the ecological damage.


6) Deportations From U.S. Hit a Record High
"Immigration authorities deported a record 392,862 immigrants over the last year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday." [Obama's immigration]
October 6, 2010

Immigration authorities deported a record 392,862 immigrants over the last year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday.

About half of those deported - 195,772 - were convicted criminals, also a record, Ms. Napolitano said, and an increase of more than 81,000 deportations of criminals over the final year of George W. Bush's presidency.

As midterm elections approach, Obama administration officials are facing intense pressure to show they are tough on illegal immigration. States across the country have enacted laws to crack down, citing a failure of the federal government to do the job. An especially broad law adopted by Arizona drew a lawsuit from the federal government and an outcry from Latinos in the state, who said it could lead to harassment and racial profiling. A federal judge stayed central provisions of the law.

In some races for Congress, particularly in the Southwest, a candidate's position on the Arizona law has become a litmus test for many voters, especially among Republicans.

Ms. Napolitano said the deportation figures, especially the criminals figure, reflected the Obama administration's shift to focusing more closely on "removing those who pose public safety threats to our communities." The overall figures for deportations increased slightly from about 389,000 in the 2009 fiscal year, also a record at the time.

The surge in deportations of criminals came in part as a result of a program called Secure Communities, officials say, which allows local law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of every person, including American citizens, booked into a county or local jail. The identity check is based on comparing fingerprints of people arrested against prints in Department of Homeland Security databases.

Initiated in 2008 in Harris County, Tex., which includes Houston, the program has grown to include about 660 counties and cities nationwide. Sheriff Adrian Garcia of Harris County said on Tuesday that since the start of the program officers there had identified more than 20,000 immigrants in the county jail system who were eligible for deportation.

Many immigrants in Houston who were identified for deportation "didn't come here to make a better life for themselves, they came to continue their criminal careers," Sheriff Garcia said.

About one-third of the criminals who were deported had committed the most serious crimes, including murder, rape and major drug offenses, according to the Homeland Security figures.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement also conducted more than 2,200 audits of hiring documents at businesses to check for unauthorized immigrant workers, the officials said, bringing criminal charges against 180 employers and levying more than $50 million in fines.

Officials said that many of the nearly 200,000 immigrants deported who had committed no crimes were fugitives from immigration courts or had recently crossed the border illegally.

Immigration lawyers questioned that portrayal. "Were they immigrants who were just caught in the web of a very dysfunctional system?" asked David Leopold, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He said that repairing the system would require a broader overhaul to provide channels for illegal immigrants to gain legal status.

"Everybody is behind smart enforcement," Mr. Leopold said. "But smart enforcement without a comprehensive fix to the system is not smart." Despite repeated pledges by President Obama, he has made no progress on persuading Congress to take up an overhaul.

Researchers who study federal statistics said they could not dig into the immigration figures to learn more about the deportees who were not criminals, because immigration authorities had blocked them for the first time from receiving detailed data.

"It is unprecedented what they are doing withholding data," said Susan B. Long, a co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a group that studies federal data.


7) Personal Income Drops in New York Region
October 7, 2010, 12:07 pm

Driven by declines on Wall Street, total personal income earned by residents of metropolitan New York fell last in 2009 for the first time in 40 years - by 4.1 percent - according to the latest data from the government's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The decline was much higher than the national average of 1.8 percent, though income was shrinking in most other metropolitan areas. The decline in the city was smaller than in New York State, where, state fiscal officials said this week, conditions were "slowly improving." The drop in the New York area means that the region's 6.8 million households took in about $43 billion less from all sources.

The New York area ranked ninth in the nation in 2009 in per capita personal income, at $52,375, down 4.6 percent from a year earlier. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area in Connecticut came in tops in the nation, despite a 6.8 percent decrease in per capita income from 2008, at $73,720. San Francisco came in second, at $59,696.

That finding follows a report by the bureau in April that personal income in New York State dropped 3.1 percent in 2009 from 2008, in the first annual decline in 70 years. Figures for New York City will not be available until spring.

In the latest data set, released in August, the bureau found that net earnings in the region declined by 3.9 percent and income from dividends, interest and rent fell by 1.6 percent. The biggest drop-off, 2.7 percentage points of the 4.1 percent total, resulted from declines in the financial and insurance sectors, while education, health care and government jobs recorded some gains.

The overall decline would have been even higher, except for a 1.4 percent increase in unemployment, Social Security and other benefits.

A report this week by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli found that by some measures, New York fared better than the rest of the country in weathering the recession. Foreclosures increased 30 percent from 2007 to 2009, but that jump was much lower than the national average. The comptroller also cited growth in employment in New York City and its suburbs (90,000 additional jobs since last December) and record profits on Wall Street.

"New York State's economy is slowly improving, but the recovery is fragile and setbacks can be expected," Mr. DiNapoli said.

Last week, the Census Bureau reported that the city generally fared better than the country as a whole in terms of household income and poverty rate from 2007 through 2009, although the number of New Yorkers dependent on food stamps has soared and within the past year homelessness has reached record levels.


8) Employment Picture Dims as Government Cuts Back
October 8, 2010

In the one-two punch many had long been fearing, hiring by businesses has slowed significantly while government jobs are disappearing at a record pace.

Companies added 64,000 jobs last month, after having added 93,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department reported Friday. But over all, the economy shed 95,000 nonfarm jobs in September, the result of a 159,000 decline in government jobs at all levels. Local governments in particular cut jobs at the fastest rate in almost 30 years.

"We need to wake up to the fact that the end of the stimulus has really hit hard on local governments," said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project. "There is much more of a slide in the job market than what we really need to clearly turn around."

The recovery that officially began in June 2009 has slowed considerably, raising concerns about the long slog the country will have to endure to dig itself out of the deepest downturn since the Great Depression. Private payrolls have been growing throughout 2009 but at a rate too sluggish to keep up with people entering the work force, and not enough to make a dent in unemployment. The jobless rate remained unchanged last month at 9.6 percent.

The outlook for the rest of the year is equally discouraging, economists say. The length of the workweek has barely budged in six months, and the number of people working part-time because they are unable to find full-time work continues to climb. If employers are not giving more work to their existing employees, it may be hard to justify decisions to bring on additional staff.

"We're looking for companies to get more confident in the pace of recovery and start to hire around 150,000 jobs a month, which is what we need just to keep the unemployment rate flat," said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. "But I just don't see that happening between now and the end of the year."

Of the loss in government jobs, 77,000 were temporary Census employees while 76,000 were in local governments. State governments lost 7,000 jobs, as well.

Most of the state and local jobs lost were in education, which laid off staff as the school year began. Including private school positions, altogether 72,700 education jobs were eliminated, on net, in September.

While the bulk of the education job cuts may be over for the year, some worry that the next layer of municipal jobs may be coming soon.

Flat hourly wages, now at $22.67, also threaten what fragile confidence American families may have in their household budgets.

"The gain by private sector payrolls - what was disappointing was the deeper than expected decline," said John Lonski, chief economist for Moody's Capital Markets. "When you combine that with no change in hourly wage and no change in weekly earnings this report signals a softening of employment income that will adversely affect the outlook for consumer spending."

Critics have been calling for government officials to use some of the arrows remaining in their quiver to try and speed job growth.

Congress, however, has been stuck in a partisan stalemate ahead of the November elections. Asked what kinds of policies Congress should consider undertaking to try to bolster job growth, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, the New York Democrat who chairs the Joint Economic Committee, said, "What's important now is to get Democrats re-elected."

Federal Reserve officials, on the other hand, seem to be tentatively hinting that they undertake more unconventional monetary policy measures to try to encourage hiring and ward of deflation. Many expect the Fed to act at its next meeting, which coincides with the Congressional midterm elections.

"We have more evidence of a weakening trajectory here, which will certainly weigh heavily on the Fed as we go into the November meeting," said Prajakta Bhide, a research analyst at Roubini Global Economics. She said that markets seemed to have already priced in the assumption that the Fed will do more quantitative easing.

Meanwhile, the average duration of unemployment continues to hover around record highs, leading America's 14.8 million unemployed to feel more and more desperate. In September, the typical unemployed worker had been searching for a job for 33.3 weeks.

"I have been unemployed for almost two years," said Mary Carter, 38, of Coolidge Ariz. She used to work for a fencing contractor, before the housing market collapsed. "I put in for jobs, no one calls, I put in for more, no one calls."

Her partner, Antonio Garcia, who has an electrician's degree, recently found a part-time job in a market, after eight months of unemployment. He is paid minimum wage for 20 hours a week. "I was making $14 and now I'm making $7 an hour," he says, holding a plastic bag of cans from a local food pantry. "They've just stopped building."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday also released preliminary revisions to the model used to estimate job changes from month to month, indicating that the recovery has been even weaker than initial reported. The bureau says it expects to revise down the level of employment in March 2010 by 366,000 jobs, which means jobs gains had been about 30,000 weaker each month over the 12-month period that began in March 2009.

Michael Powell and Christine Hauser contributed reporting.


9) New Sight for Cubans: Blizzard of Pink Slips
October 7, 2010

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cubans faced a harsh new reality this week - dismissal slips - as the government began paring state payrolls in a cost-cutting move that has created job insecurity for the first time in years in the Communist country.

Workers were being laid off in countless industries, from hospitals to hotels, and in the biggest action to be made public so far, employees at a state-owned enterprise, the Special Protection Services Company, were told that the company would be shut down and 23,000 people let go.

It was the beginning of President Raúl Castro's plan to cut 10 percent of the government's work force, or about 500,000 people, by April in the most significant overhaul attempted since he succeeded his older brother, Fidel Castro, in 2008.

The layoffs, intended to improve efficiency and reduce Cuba's budget deficits, are the first major job cuts since the 1960s. About 85 percent of the Cuban labor force works for the state, or more than five million people, many of them in unproductive jobs. The country's population is about 11 million.

Not all Cubans, accustomed to guaranteed employment, have been taking the news in stride.

At the Havana Libre Hotel, where many jobs are being eliminated, Communist Party officials had to be brought in to calm down workers, hotel employees said.

At a Havana hospital, a nurse said she was shocked at the magnitude of layoffs. "I expected some job cuts, but not 500 out of our 3,000 employees," she said.

Employees at the Special Protection Services Company, which provides armed guards and other security services nationwide, said they were told of the dismissals on Tuesday.

"They said the entire company was being closed, and we were offered jobs in the prison system, police and traffic," said an employee who asked that she not be identified.

The government has said that workers who are laid off will be offered other jobs, but will have to seek work on their own if they do not take the offers. The government has also said that this month it will begin issuing 250,000 licenses for self-employment to create new jobs and shift many workers from state payrolls to leasing and cooperative arrangements.

Still, a Havana resident said that Cubans were facing something they had not seen for decades. "I understand the need to improve the economy, but it's hard to take after 50 years of job security," she said. "It will be hard to get another state job as they are cutting everywhere."

One effect appears to be that workers, fearful for jobs they once took for granted and often neglected, are taking them more seriously, a local doctor said.

"People used to stay home if they had a sniffle, and now they are going to work even if they are really sick, spreading their colds around," he said.


10) Washington: Court-Martial Recommended in Afghan Killings
October 7, 2010

An Army investigating officer has recommended court-martial proceedings for Specialist Jeremy N. Morlock, one of five American soldiers accused of killing three Afghan civilians this year. Specialist Morlock and other soldiers have said in sworn statements that the killings were staged to look like combat deaths. Lawyers for Specialist Morlock have argued that he was heavily medicated with prescription drugs at the time of the killings and the statements. The recommendation for court-martial follows an investigative hearing last week. A final decision on whether to refer him to court-martial will be made by the commander of the Stryker brigade in which the soldiers serve. The other soldiers await investigative hearings.


11) New Study: Iraq / Afghanistan Wars May Cost VA $934 Billion
Written by AP
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 17:39

VCS Set to Testify in Support of Helping Veterans

September 29, 2010, Washington (Associated Press) -- A new study estimates that health costs for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans could top $900 billion, and a lawmaker wants to set up a trust fund to make sure the bill will be paid.

Representative Bob Filner (D-CA) warned that the U.S. faces a huge bill for veteran's health care, and his concerns were buttressed by a recent study by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University and Linda Bilmes of Harvard University.

The two academics say the number of veterans, their injury rates and the cost of treating them have increased far more than expected in the last couple of years.

"If Americans want to vote for war, the Congress wants to vote for war, that's fine - but include the real costs" and budget for them, Filner told reporters by phone Wednesday. Filner is chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on the issue Thursday.

Stiglitz and Bilmes, also speaking by phone, on Wednesday estimated the cost of providing vets with lifetime medical costs and disability payments from the Veteran's Administration, as well as Social Security payments for the severely disabled, at between $589 billion and $934 billion, depending on the length and intensity of the Iraq and Afghan wars.

That is more than 30 percent higher than the Stiglitz and Bilmes estimated in the 2008 book "The Three Trillion Dollar War."

They said that about 600,000 of the more than 2.1 million service members who've been deployed since 2001 have already received treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The 600,000 figure is far higher than the numbers most often given publicly by defense officials.

The Veteran's Administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Filner said he thinks there should be a 15 percent surcharge on the defense budget to make sure money will be there in the future for vet health costs.


12) Policy at Its Worst
October 8, 2010

We can go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and threaten to blow Iran off the face of the planet. We can conduct a nonstop campaign of drone and helicopter attacks in Pakistan and run a network of secret prisons around the world. We are the mightiest nation mankind has ever seen.

But we can't seem to build a railroad tunnel to carry commuters between New Jersey and New York.

The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul. It's speeding down an increasingly rubble-strewn path to a region where being second rate is good enough.

The railroad tunnel was the kind of infrastructure project that used to get done in the United States almost as a matter of routine. It was a big and expensive project, but the payoff would have been huge. It would have reduced congestion and pollution in the New York-New Jersey corridor. It would have generated economic activity and put thousands of people to work. It would have enabled twice as many passengers to ride the trains on that heavily traveled route between the two states.

The project had been in the works for 20 years, and ground had already been broken when the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, rejected the project on Thursday, saying that his state could not afford its share of the costs. Extreme pressure is being exerted from federal officials and others to get Mr. Christie to change his mind, but, as of now, the project is a no-go.

This is a railroad tunnel we're talking about. We're not trying to go to the Moon. This is not the Manhattan Project. It's a railroad tunnel that's needed to take people back and forth to work and to ease the pressure on the existing tunnel, a wilting two-track facility that's about 100 years old. What is the matter with us?

The Chinese could build it. The Turks could build it. We can't build it.

One day after Governor Christie made his devastating announcement about the tunnel, the U.S. Labor Department released its latest unemployment statistics. They show that the nation remains locked in an employment crisis, unable to provide work for millions who want and need it. One of the major potential solutions to this crisis is all around us. America's infrastructure is indisputably in sorry shape, and upgrading it to meet the needs of the 21st century is far and away the best strategy for putting people back to work.

The railroad tunnel project, all set and ready to go, would have provided jobs for 6,000 construction workers, not to mention all the residual employment that accompanies such projects. What we'll get instead, if it is not built, is the increased pollution and worsening traffic jams that result when tens of thousands of commuters who would have preferred to take the train are redirected to their automobiles.

This is government policy at its pathetic worst. But it's not the first policy disaster of Mr. Christie's short tenure as governor. He blew a golden opportunity (along with $400 million in federal funds) to participate in the Obama administration's Race to the Top competition to improve the nation's public school systems. New Jersey's bid came up needlessly and embarrassingly short because of a mistake in the application and the governor's refusal to sign off on an agreement that had been reached with the teachers' union.

This failure to take part in a nationwide initiative to bolster public education comes at a time when the United States, once the world's leader in the percentage of young people with college degrees, has fallen to a humiliating 12th place among 36 developed nations.

No one can accuse the governor of New Jersey of being a visionary. But his stumbling and bumbling and his inability to chart a clear path to a better future is, frankly, just the latest example of the dismal leadership that Americans have endured for many years. Where once we were the innovators, the pathfinders, the model for the rest of the world, now we just can't seem to get it done.

We can't put the population to work, or get the kids through college, or raise the living standards of the middle class and the poor. We can't rebuild the infrastructure or curb our destructive overreliance on fossil fuels.

There have been many times when the U.S. has stunned the world with the breadth and greatness of its achievements - the Marshall Plan, the G.I. Bill, the world's highest standard of living, the world's finest higher education system, the space program, and on and on.

Somewhere, somehow, things went haywire. The nation that built the Erie Canal and Hoover Dam and the transcontinental railroad can't even build a tunnel beneath the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York.


13) Marijuana, Once Divisive, Brings Some Families Closer
October 9, 2010

To the rites of middle-age passage, some families are adding another: buying marijuana for aging parents.

Bryan, 46, a writer who lives in Illinois, began supplying his parents about five years ago, after he told them about his own marijuana use. When he was growing up, he said, his parents were very strict about illegal drugs.

"We would have grounded him," said his mother, who is 72.

But with age and the growing acceptance of medical marijuana, his parents were curious. His father had a heart ailment, his mother had dizzy spells and nausea, and both were worried about Alzheimer's disease and cancer. They looked at some research and decided marijuana was worth a try.

Bryan, who like others interviewed for this article declined to use his full name for legal reasons, began making them brownies and ginger snaps laced with the drug. Illinois does not allow medical use of marijuana, though 14 states and the District of Columbia do. At their age, his mother said, they were not concerned about it leading to harder drugs, which had been one of their worries with Bryan.

"We have concerns about the law, but I would not go back to not taking the cookie and going through what I went through," she said, adding that her dizzy spells and nausea had receded. "Of course, if they catch me, I'll have to quit taking it."

This family's story is still a rare one. Less than 1 percent of people 65 and over said they had smoked marijuana in the last year, according to a 2009 survey by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. But as the generation that embraced marijuana as teenagers passes into middle age, doctors expect to see more marijuana use by their elderly patients.

"I think use of medical marijuana in older people is going to be much greater in the future," said Dan G. Blazer, a professor of geriatric psychology at Duke University who has studied drug use and abuse among older people.

The rate for people ages 50 to 65 who said they smoke marijuana was nearly 4 percent - about six times as high as the 65-and-over crowd - suggesting that they were more likely to continue whatever patterns of drug use they had established in their younger years. In both age groups, the rate of marijuana abuse was very low, about 1 in 800.

Cannabinoids, the active agents in marijuana, have shown promise as pain relievers, especially for pain arising from nerve damage, said Dr. Seddon R. Savage, a pain specialist and president of the American Pain Society, a medical professionals' group.

Two cannabinoid prescription drugs are approved for use in this country, but only to treat nausea or appetite loss. And while preliminary research suggests that cannabinoids may help in fighting cancer and reducing spasms in people with multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease, the results have been mixed.

Dr. Savage said doctors should be concerned about older patients using marijuana. "It's putting people at risk of falls, impaired cognition, impaired memory, loss of motor control," she said. "Beside the legal aspects, it's unsupervised use of a pretty potent drug. Under almost all circumstances, there are alternatives that are just as effective."

Dr. Savage added, however, that there was a considerable range of opinions about marijuana use among pain specialists, and that many favored it.

Older people may face special risks with marijuana, in part because of the secrecy that surrounds illegal drug use, said Dr. William Dale, section chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center, who said he would not oppose a law allowing medical marijuana use in Illinois.

The drug raises users' heart rates and lowers their blood pressure, so doctors needed to weigh its effects beside those of other medications that users might be taking, he said. But patients do not always confide their illegal drug use, he said.

"It's a fine balance between being supportive of patients to gain their trust and giving them your best recommendations," Dr. Dale said. "I wasn't taught this in medical school."

For some families, marijuana, which was once the root of all their battles, has brought them closer together. Instead of parental warnings and punishment, there are questions about how to light a water pipe; instead of the Grateful Dead, there are recipes for low-sodium brownies.

But for parents, there is also the knowledge that they are putting their children at risk of arrest.

"I was very uncomfortable getting my son involved," said the father of Alex, 21. The father, who is 54, started using marijuana to relieve his pain from degenerative disc disease. He soon discovered that Alex, who lives in Minnesota a few miles away, had access to better marijuana than he did.

Alex's father had smoked marijuana when he was younger; Alex, by contrast, had been active in antidrug groups at his school and church. In college, he started smoking infrequently and studying marijuana's medicinal properties.

"When he told me he was using cannabis, I think he expected it to be a bigger deal for me," Alex said. "But it opened my eyes to what he was going through."

Before trying marijuana, Alex's father took OxyContin, a narcotic, which he said made him "feel like a zombie." He also took antidepressants to relieve the mood disorder he associated with the OxyContin. Marijuana has helped him cut down on the painkillers, he said.

He and Alex have smoked together twice, but it is not a regular practice, both said. Yet they say the drug has strengthened their relationship.

"We spend our bonding time making brownies," Alex said.

Florence, 89, an artist who lives in New York, smokes mainly for relief from her spinal stenosis - usually one or two puffs before going to sleep, she said. She buys her pipes through an online shop and gets her marijuana from her daughter, Loren, who is 65.

"A person brings it to me," said Loren, who uses marijuana recreationally. "I'm not out on a street corner." Florence said that she had told all of her doctors that she was using marijuana, and that none had ever discouraged her or warned of interactions with her prescription drugs, including painkillers.

"I think I've influenced my own physician on the subject," she said. "She came to me and asked me for some for another patient."


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