Thursday, October 21, 2010



15th Annual
Bay Area October 22nd to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation


Friday, October 22nd
12 to 1 PM Fruitvale Bart Plaza
(34th Ave. & International)
Speak Out & Rally
71st Ave. & International

For more info: 510-926-5207




An urgent message from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

Please forward, post and distribute widely:

Oscar Grant & Mumia Abu-Jamal - Mass mobilizations!

Against racism, injustice and official murder of the innocent!
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN for full information

1. OAKLAND, October 23rd 2010:
Rally: 12 Noon, City Hall, 14th and Broadway


An Innocent Black Man Shot in the Back by Police and...
Killed for No Reason!

Killer Cop Gets Off With Involuntary Manslaughter!

Photographic Evidence Proves: It Was Murder!

Oscar Grant was a father of a young daughter, a working person in Oakland, and innocent of any crime! He was shot while he was held face-down with his hands behind him, by BART cop Johannes Mehserle!

Only because of massive street protests in Oakland, and cell-phone videos of the shooting which made it onto the nightly news, was the cop eventually charged with murder. But after a change of venue to Los Angeles, Mehserle received the lightest conviction: involuntary manslaughter. Oakland's integrated community rose again to protest.

ILWU Calls Rally & Port Shutdown!

With Mehserle's long-delayed sentencing set for November 5th, Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), supported by many other unions and local community groups, called for a rally in downtown Oakland for Saturday, October 23rd at 12 noon.

And now the longshore membership has voted for a port shutdown as well, to say: Justice for Oscar Grant! Labor Unity With the Community! Jail Killer Cops!

The day-long shutdown on the docks is supported by ILWU Local 10 (longshore), Local 34 (Clerks), and the port workers in SEIU Local 1021, who will also walk off the job on October 23rd. The rally for Oscar Grant has been supported unanimously by both San Francisco and Alameda County Labor Councils. Support has also come in from the Oakland Education Association (OEA - Oakland teachers), AFT Local 2121, UAW 2865, AFSCME 3299, and other unions. The ANSWER Coalition, Campaign To End the Death Penalty (CEDP), Code Pink, Barrio Unido, and numerous others also support this action.

All out! Make This Labor/Community Rally Massive!
Saturday, October 23rd, 12 Noon, at 14th & Broadway, Oakland.

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
will be there with the following call:
Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail Killer Cops!
Maximum Sentence for Johannes Mehserle!
Mumia Is Innocent! Free Mumia!

2. PHILADELPHIA, November 9th 2010,
2 PM, Third Circuit Court, 6th & Market


An Innocent Man Faces Execution... Again!
Will Mumia Be Killed For No Reason?

Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist and a political prisoner who has been on death row for 28 years, faces a new hearing to determine: will he get a new court hearing to finally decide his sentence, or will he be executed immediately? In it's instructions to the Third Circuit, the Supreme Court made immediate execution the likely outcome.

Mountains of evidence, including witness recantations, another man who confessed, and photographic evidence of the crime scene, proves his innocence. Yet state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have slammed the door on Mumia. Most of the evidence that could free him has gone unheard, because...

The cops, courts and politicians want Mumia dead!

A politically motivated conspiracy, led by the Fraternal Order of Police, seeks to silence forever this outspoken opponent of war, racism, police brutality and corruption. We have to stop them in their tracks! The courts aren't going to free Mumia. Only mass mobilizations, as in 1995, when we stopped an earlier execution order, and labor mobilizations like the West Coast port shutdown by longshore workers in 1999, can free Mumia.

All Out on November 9th: Mobilize to Free Mumia!

Come to Philadelphia:

Third Circuit Court of Appeals, 601 Market St (6th & Market).
Hearing starts at 2 PM on Tuesday Nov 9th.
Get there early to demonstrate!

Bus from New York:

Call: 212 330-8029 - leave a message and a number for a return call to reserve a seat on a bus to Philadelphia.

For Mass Action, and Labor Action!
Mumia is innocent! Free Mumia!
End the Racist Death Penalty!

- This message from:
The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu_jamal
PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610 • 510 763-2347


Oscar Grant rally -- Legal Note

We are expecting a mass mobilization for the rally at noon on October 23 in front of Oakland City Hall with participation from unions, community organizations and churches. We are organizing for an orderly, well-disciplined protest rally. Anne Weills of the Legal Support Committee has provided us with the telephone HOTLINE 415-285-1011 for legal assistance. Please make this available to your members and supporters.

In solidarity,

Anne Butterfield Weills
Attorney at Law
499-14th Street, Suite 220
Oakland, California 94612

Tel: 510.839.1200
Fax: 510.444.6698

Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail for Killer Cops!
Longshoremen Will Shut Down All Bay Area Ports
October 18, 2010


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Port of Oakland will be shut-down for Oscar Grant Justice!
No vessel will be worked!
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.


Please Forward, Post, and distribute Widely...

The West Coast Premier

Justice On Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal

An important new film produced by Johanna Fernandez of Baruch College and Educators for Mumia and directed by Kouross Esmaeli.

Packed with exciting new interviews with Mumia's sister, Lydia Barashango, and journalist Linn Washington, the film presents the recently discovered evidence that totally challenges the prosecution's version of what happened on December 9, 1981, and thus exposes the lies perpetrated by the prosecution in collaboration with the police in their determination to kill Mumia.

Sponsored by the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

7 pm Sunday October 24th 2010
Humanist Hall
27th & Broadway, in Oakland

$5 to $15, sliding scale, no one turned away.

BENEFIT for Mumia's legal defense, and the filmmakers, who went into debt to produce this vital film

Contact: The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
510 763-2347


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


The next meeting of the United National Antiwar Committee will be Saturday, November 6, 11:00 A.M., at Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia Street (near 16th Street and Mission BART)



Black Is Back: Let's March on White House Again, Nov. 13
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
October 6, 2010


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




Video of massive French protest -- inspiring!


BREAKING NEWS: Fresh Oil Dead Fish Cover Grand Isle As Crews Bury Fish On Public Beach
October 18, 2010


UNPC March to Mosque
The United National Peace Conference concluded with a solidarity march to the Albany Mosque. The activists marched in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been charged, found guilty and are serving jail terms for terrorism. The cases of the Albany 2, the Fort Dix 5 and Lynne Stewart were brought to light during the rally. The peace groups reiterated their opposition to the preemptive prosecution techniques used by the FBI. It was a moving conclusion to an inspiring weekend.


UAW Workers Picket The UAW Over Two-Tier

Rally To End Two-Tier & Stand in Solidarity with GM Lake Orion | UAW HQ, Detroit MI (1 of 2)

Rally To End Two-Tier & Stand in Solidarity with GM Lake Orion | UAW HQ, Detroit MI (2 of 2)


BP Contract Worker "Trenches Dug To Bury Oil On Beaches"


Dr. Harbut [Dr. Michael Harbut, Professor of Medicine, Wayne State University] spoke with the Navy. Navy asked about training exercises over Gulf with risk of somebody going down into water... should we consider suspending training? Navy then suspended exercises over Gulf.


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) Chicago Union Steward Targeted In FBI Raid Says It's Effort To Intimidate Anti-War Movement
Nixon's COINTELPRO set precedent for Bush's PATRIOT Act (and Clinton's Effective Death Penalty law), which allow further police state tactics, harassment, erosion of rights, suppression of free speech and right to assemble (except in cages or behind fences), attacks on activists and unionists.
Chicago Union Steward Targeted In FBI Raid Says It's Effort To Intimidate Anti-War Movement
Submitted by Doug Cunningham on October 10, 2010 - 7:47pm

2) Death, DNA and the Supreme Court
NYT Editorial
October 17, 2010

3) France Asks Airlines to Cut Flights Ahead of Strikes
"A widely-quoted survey in Le Parisien newspaper on Monday said 71 per cent of respondents either supported or were sympathetic to the strikers."
October 18, 2010

4) Citigroup Reports $2.2 Billion Profit in Third Quarter
October 18, 2010
A Financial House Advantage
Watch an animated explanation of how banks use securities lending to make a profit at no risk to themselves, while their customers cover the losses.

5) Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail for Killer Cops!
Longshoremen Will Shut Down All Bay Area Ports
October 18, 2010

6) In France, Labor Strikes Head for Showdown
October 19, 2010

7) Israel: 'Loyalty Oath' Bill to Change to Include Jews, Netanyahu Says
October 18, 2010

8) Britain Details Radical Cuts in Spending, Citing Debt
October 20, 2010

9) French Police Begin Breaking Up Fuel Depot Blockades
"Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said that three depots in western France had been forced open overnight "without incident." At one depot, though, protesters regrouped and closed access roads to it, news reports said. Mr. Hortefeux has also threatened to send in paramilitary police to stop rioters who had torched cars, trashed stores and injured police officers and others on the fringes of nationwide protests. Television footage showed riot police with raised batons charging overnight into crowds of protesters trying to blockade fuel supplies. Protests broke out anew early on Wednesday with demonstrators blocking road tunnels in Marseille and airports in Toulouse and Clermont-Ferrand."
October 20, 2010

10) Rioters Rampage, Protesters Block French Airports
October 20, 2010

11) 1 in 5 Americans Have Close Ties Elsewhere
October 19, 2010

12) $18 Million to Man Wrongly Imprisoned
"Mr. Newton's claim was supported by the Innocence Project, a nonprofit group that seeks to free convicts through DNA evidence. It said that of about 50 people from New York City it had represented in the last five years, half had received the DNA evidence in their cases from the city. In the other cases, the city was unable to produce the evidence or explain what had happened to it."
October 19, 2010

13) Summary Box: Wells Fargo Posts $3.15 Bln 3Q Profit
October 20, 2010

14) French Leader Vows to Punish Violent Protesters
October 21, 2010

15) Slain US Activist's Parents Face Israeli Driver
October 21, 2010

16) Battle Lines Forming in Clash Over Foreclosures
October 20, 2010

17) Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing
"Interviews with lawyers involved in the cases, outside legal experts and a review of some records show that federal prosecutors have failed to overcome a series of legal hurdles, including the difficulties of obtaining evidence in war zones, of gaining proper jurisdiction for prosecutions in American civilian courts, and of overcoming immunity deals given to defendants by American officials on the scene."
October 20, 2010

18) French Police Break Refinery Blockade
"The unions also called for new days of national protest next Thursday and on Nov. 6."
October 22, 2010

19) Louisiana Builds Barriers Even as Oil Disperses
October 21, 2010


1) Chicago Union Steward Targeted In FBI Raid Says It's Effort To Intimidate Anti-War Movement
Nixon's COINTELPRO set precedent for Bush's PATRIOT Act (and Clinton's Effective Death Penalty law), which allow further police state tactics, harassment, erosion of rights, suppression of free speech and right to assemble (except in cages or behind fences), attacks on activists and unionists.
Chicago Union Steward Targeted In FBI Raid Says It's Effort To Intimidate Anti-War Movement
Submitted by Doug Cunningham on October 10, 2010 - 7:47pm

The recent FBI raids on peace activists, a union member and university employees in Chicago and Minnesota's Twin Cities are efforts to intimidate activists. That's according to Chicago attorney Melinda Power.

[Power]: Government cannot have their right to stop people from exercising their First Amendment rights to express their public opposition to what the government is doing here in the United States, in Afghanistan or anywhere in the world. The government is saying you cannot say we don't like what the government is doing. We're here because we think, yes people have a right to publicly object, to demonstrate, to march, to voice our oppositions to the policy of the government.

The September 24th raids included twenty FBI agents barging into the Chicago home of SEIU Local 73 union steward Joe Isobaker. The FBI stayed for twelve hours, searching through everything in the home and taking away a host of personal items.

[Isobaker]: We denounce the FBI raids. These raids, searches and grand jury investigations are nothing more than an attempt to intimidate us and to intimidate the antiwar movement. We have done nothing wrong. We're being targeted because we oppose the criminal wars and occupations launched by our government in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The FBI targeted anti-war activists, Arab-American activists and activists against U.S. military aid to Colombia. The government claims it's part of an anti-terrorist investigation. The activists maintain their actions are peaceful and lawful exercises of their constitutional rights.

(Audio courtesy of Chicago's Labor Express program)

Victim of FBI raid speaks out
By Tom Eley
30 September 2010

Antiwar activists in Minneapolis and Chicago targeted in last week's FBI raids for their support of nationalist movements defined by the US as "terrorist" say they have done nothing illegal and that the invasion of their homes came without warning.

Most of those raided have been served with subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Chicago on October 12. An unknown number of activists in other states, including Michigan, North Carolina, California and Wisconsin, have been approached by the FBI for interviews, although it is not clear if additional subpoenas have been issued.

Jess Sundin, whose home in south Minneapolis was raided and who received a grand jury subpoena, spoke with the World Socialist Web Site about the government attack.

At 7 AM I awoke to the sound of banging at my front door, Sundin said. My daughter and my partner were already awake. By the time I got downstairs, there were six or seven federal agents in our house.

When they came in and asked if we had any guns in the house, my six-year-old said, 'We don't believe in guns'. She took offense at the suggestion. We don't even allow toy guns in our house.

The agents showed me a search warrant and proceeded to go through everything in my house, every room. Among the things they seized, they took books, they took music CD's, photographs, computers, my cell phone, check book, papers, camera and a lot more.

We were very clear that we were not going to talk to them. They gave both my partner and me our subpoenas for the grand jury. They told us we were not detained, we could leave, but no one else was allowed in. We couldn't use the phone, except to call a lawyer.

“They took my phone into their possession and kept it with boxes and lists. I could hear it going off but I wasn't allowed to answer it. Steff, my partner, kept possession of her phone but we weren't allowed to use it to make or receive phone calls.

“They took about four hours to search the house. I don't know how many boxes they carried out. They gave me a receipt, but I refused to sign it. I said, "I don't know what you've taken."

Sundin said it was immediately clear to her that she was being targeted for her antiwar activism, and, in particular, her activity against US foreign policy in Colombia and the Middle East.

“The US is heavily involved in Colombia, Sundin said. They've been building military bases and they've been funding the Colombian government's war against its own people. It's the third largest recipient of US foreign aid in the world.

Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. And the Palestinian people have lived for generations sixty-plus years without an intinternationally recognized state. Their homes are bulldozed, they're second-class citizens with no right to participate in the political process. And in places like Gaza bombs fall from the sky.

Sundin said she is a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, a founding member of the Anti-War Committee of the Twin Cities, and a member of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Local 3800. She is a clerical worker at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Sundin's opposition to US foreign policy took her to Iraq in 1998, where the sanctions regime imposed on the country by the Clinton administration and its allies had created a humanitarian disaster.

“We went to a children's hospital where I was most struck by the empty shelves in the pharmacy and the stories that doctors shared of a health care system that had been the best in the Middle East, but had been paralyzed by the sanctions and the war, she said. So you had children that died because there weren't IV fluids to give them. You had people who died because they couldn't get inhalers for asthma, antibiotics, heart medicine. These things just weren't available there... The most striking thing I saw was Al Ameriya, which was aa bomb shelter that was destroyed by two US smart bombs in 1991.

Sundin said she does not know what sort of case the government intends to make against her. The search warrant indicates the FBI may well seek criminal prosecution based on the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which, in effect, proscribes political speech in support of organizations the US president defines as “terrorist.

The law, which prohibits knowingly provid[ing] material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, even if that support consists of expert advice or assistance for lawful, non-violent purposes, was upheld in June by the Supreme Court in the case Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project.

Sundin said she “can't speculate on what the government's plans are, but I will say that when we arise to the defense of democratic rights for any movement, it is for the greater protection of every movement.

She concluded by pointing to the threat that the raids and grand jury subpoenas pose not just to the targeted individuals, but to their families. "Lastly, I will say that I am the mother of a six-year-old," Sundin said. "A number of us involved in this case are the parents of young children, and I'm)m worried about what this means for our kids. I believe that I have the right to speak and that I wasn't putting my job in jeopardy by doing so.

Those raided by the FBI are clearly under attack for constitutionally protected political speech. The raids and grand jury hearings, at which those subpoenaed do not have the right to counsel, represent a frontal attack on democratic rights and a major step in the direction of police-state forms of rule. The Obama administration has carried out the raids to establish a precedent and test the waters for far more sweeping attacks on political opponents of the governmentâ€(tm)s reactionary policies, both foreign and domestic.

The Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site call on all workers, youth and students who oppose the war policies of the government and all those who uphold democratic rights to defend the victims of the FBI raids. We have fundamental political differences with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, which has its roots in Maoist student groups from the 1960s and 1970s, but we are unreserved in our defense of the democratic rights of the organization and its members against state repression.

Glenn Beck Brings ExxonMobil-Linked Religious Front Group To Tell Christians Not To Believe In Climate Change

In June, ThinkProgress published an exclusive investigation into the Cornwall Alliance a corporate front designed to deceive evangelicals into doubting the science underpinning climate change. Today, Fox News hate-talker Glenn Beck brought on a representative from the group to tout Cornwall's new DVD, "Resisting the Green Dragon," which claims the climate change movement is a "false religion," and a nefarious conspiracy to empower eugenicists and create a " global government." The DVD, which Cornwall is distributing to evangelical churches around the country, seems to be designed perfectly for Beck's world view, and unsurprisingly, the Cornwall guest and Beck exchanged bizarre conspiracy theories. Watch it:

The Cornwall Alliance appears to be a creation of a group called the James Partnership, a nonprofit run by Chris Rogers and Peter Stein, according to documents filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Rogers, who heads a media and public relations firm called CDR Communications, collaborates with longtime oil front group operative David Rothbard, the founder and President of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and Jacques Villarreal, a lower level staffer at CFACT, for his James Partnership group. In the past, Rogers' firm has worked for the Bush administration and for the secretive conservative planning group, the Council for National Policy.

According to public records, the following entities are all registered to the same address, 9302-C Old Keene Mill Road Burke, VA 22015, an office park in suburban Virginia:

- Rogers' consulting firm, CDR Communications
- Rogers' nonprofit hub, the James Partnership
- The Cornwall Alliance
- The new " Resisting the Green Dragon" website

In late 2005, evangelical leaders like Rick Warren joined a drive to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors." To counter this historic shift in the evangelical community, a group called the " Interfaith Stewardship Alliance" (ISA) was launched to oppose action on carbon emissions and to deny the existence of climate chance. One of the men guiding this group was Paul Driessen, a consultant for ExxonMobil, the mining industry, and for CFACT.

For "stream lining" reasons, ISA relaunched as the Cornwall Alliance in 2006. With the new name came a redesigned website, highly produced web videos, and an organized network of churches to distribute climate change denying propaganda to hundreds of pastors around the country. The branding for the Cornwall Alliance is derived from the " Cornwall Declaration," a 1999 document pushing back against the creation-care movement in the evangelical community. The Declaration "stressed a free-market environmental stewardship and emphasized that individuals and private organizations should be trusted to care for their own property without government intervention." CFACT President Rothbard has been hailed as the "driving force" behind the Cornwall Declaration public relations effort.

CFACT is a gimmicky right-wing organization that does everything it can to try to discredit the science underpinning climate change. For instance, staffers from the group traveled to the Copenhagen conference on climate change to stage silly press conferences with Rush Limbaugh's former producer and stunts aimed at mocking Greenpeace.

But who is the "driving force" behind CFACT? According to disclosures, CFACT is funded by at least $542,000 from ExxonMobil, $60,500from Chevron, and $1,280,000 from Scaife family foundations, which are rooted in wealth from Gulf Oil and steel interests.

CFACT and the Cornwall Alliance, according to disclosures filed with the Washington State Secretary of State's office, share a common fundraising firm, ClearWord Communications Group. ClearWord has helped raise millions of dollars not only for CFACT and Cornwall, but also for infamous polluter front groups like FreedomWorks, the Institute for Energy Research, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Last year, Cornwall produced a video with former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) attacking clean energy legislation as part of a campaign by the ExxonMobil-funded"American Energy Freedom Center."

In a call to the Cornwall Alliance's media office, spokesman Quena Gonzalez said Cornwall has no relationship to CFACT and said CFACT President Rothbard has no official capacity with his group. Gonzalez said that in "several years of working" at Cornwall, he had never heard any questions about working with CFACT, and instructed ThinkProgress to contact Calvin Beisner, the national representative for Cornwall. Beisner is a board member of CFACT.

Rothbard had a central role in sparking the founding of Cornwall and is currently a partner with Chris Rogers, the man who runs Cornwall and CDR Communications. Nevertheless, under his capacity as CFACT President, Rothbard's anti-Greenpeace publicity stunts are reported regularly on the Cornwall blog as breaking news, without any acknowledgement of Rothbard's relationship with Cornwall.

Gonzalez also said he had never heard of CDR Communications. But according to his own LinkedIn profile, Gonzalez works for CDR Communications as the " Director for Religion and the Environment" at the firm. ThinkProgress contacted Chris Rogers on Monday, who contradicted Gonzalez and said his firm CDR Communications provides "support" for Cornwall but did not clarify.

It appears that Cornwall attempts to carefully hide its backers. Not only did Gonzalez refuse to provide much information, but Cornwall's website is registered with a special service to hide the identity of the person or group who purchased the domain address

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2) Death, DNA and the Supreme Court
NYT Editorial
October 17, 2010

In an age when DNA technology can help identify the guilty and avoid grave miscarriages of justice, states should not be allowed to block testing of available biological evidence before executing someone.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday over a request by Henry Skinner, a Texas death row inmate, for DNA testing of blood, fingernail scrapings and hair found at the scene where his girlfriend and her two sons were murdered in 1993. In March, less than an hour before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection, the Supreme Court granted a stay of execution to consider taking up the matter of the untested evidence.

Seeking to avoid the legal doctrines and deadlines imposed by the Supreme Court and Congress to limit postconviction appeals, Mr. Skinner filed a civil rights action rather than a habeas corpus challenge. Sparring over that mechanistic distinction dominated much of Wednesday's argument and nearly obscured the larger problem of prosecutors' selectively testing some DNA evidence but not all in a capital murder case.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor correctly noted that Mr. Skinner's trial attorney made a strategic decision not to request DNA testing of the contested material in preparation for his trial, likely fearing the testing would further implicate his client.

But to disqualify Mr. Skinner now from obtaining the testing would elevate game-playing over truth-seeking and ignore the need to ensure, best as possible, that the right person has been convicted. Testing such evidence should not be left to a strategic decision; it should be standard in a serious criminal investigation.

There is a value in criminal law to the finality of verdicts and not permitting prisoners endless legal challenges to their convictions. The state should not execute prisoners. But since it does, the justices should be more concerned with the finality of executing someone when untested DNA evidence might shed light on his culpability and the state cannot be completely certain of his guilt.

In a lamentable 5-to-4 ruling in 2009, the court denied a free-standing right of prisoners to obtain postconviction DNA testing that might prove their innocence. The new case is a chance for course correction.


3) France Asks Airlines to Cut Flights Ahead of Strikes
"A widely-quoted survey in Le Parisien newspaper on Monday said 71 per cent of respondents either supported or were sympathetic to the strikers."
October 18, 2010

PARIS - The confrontation over pension reform in France deepened Monday, with strikers strangling fuel supplies at home and waving off airline flights from abroad.

The French civil aviation authority said on Monday it was asking airlines to cut flights into French airports by up to 50 percent on Tuesday because of possible strikes by personnel. Blockades of France's 200 fuel depots and strikes at most of its 12 refineries have left service stations starved of fuel. Fearful that the pumps would run dry, many motorists scrambled on Monday to fill up while they could, contributing to the pressure on supplies particularly of the diesel fuel powering many French cars.

The crisis has has increased the risks for President Nicolas Sarkozy, testing his ability to define the political agenda and reverse years of declining fortunes before elections in 2012. He faces a high-stakes gamble magnified by the political arena in which it is played out. Unlike an American president fighting an unruly Congress, Mr. Sarkozy knows he can bank on the French Parliament to support his contentious reforms. But, as the unpopularity of the proposed changes has shown, he cannot place equal faith in enhancing his own standing through a parliamentary victory.

"He has a clear majority in the two houses so he has no difficulty in passing the reform," said Pierre Haski, a co-founder of the news Web site Rue89. "But that does not give him legitimacy with the public." At worst, Mr. Haski said in a telephone interview, the upshot could be for Mr. Sarkozy to emerge from the crisis as a lame duck president for the next two years.

"It is a question of legality versus legitimacy," he said.

Those issues will likely come to a head in the next 48 hours. On Tuesday, labor unions have called national stoppages, adding to the disruption that has been building since the first national protest strike against the pension reform on Sept. 7 and intensifying with strikes at oil refineries that entered their second week on Monday.

The government said only two percent of the country's 13,200 service stations had actually run dry. But other estimates put the number of gas stations running out of some or all types of fuel at 10 to 15 percent.

Aad Van Bohemen, the head of emergency policy division at the International Energy Agency, said France had been forced to reach into its strategic, 30-day emergency supplies of fuel at depots because refineries were strike-bound. "The question is how to get it to the pumps," he said in a telephone interview. "Some depots are blocked but there's a lot of panic-buying going among the French people."

And on Wednesday, the upper Senate will vote on - and probably approve - measures, already approved by the lower house, that will increase the minimum age of retirement by two years to 62, dealing a blow to the cosseted assumptions of French life. The reforms are supposed to help wrest France from the economic doldrums gripping many parts of Europe, and thus enable Mr. Sarkozy present himself as a champion of necessary change.

In a way both the labor unions, themselves far from united, and the authorities are playing for time.

Mr. Sarkozy's ministers have repeatedly insisted they will not back down and, if necessary, will resort to firm measures to prevent protesters from blocking fuel depots.

With 98 days of oil stocks on hand, he said, "It's a matter of logistics. It's not really a matter of shortages."

But the protesters are also fighting the clock. On Friday, school vacations begin and many analysts believe that will remove one significant source of protest - high-school pupils who took to the streets last Friday and on Monday, confronting riot police or blocking classes.

The outcome could help determine whether Mr. Sarkozy is able to present himself for the next two years as a courageous reformer in the national interest, or an elitist imposing unwanted reforms on the poor.

A widely-quoted survey in Le Parisien newspaper on Monday said 71 per cent of respondents either supported or were sympathetic to the strikers. "The government can win it despite threats of violence in the street, despite shortages, or simply by a vote of Parliament," said Jérôme Sainte-Mairie, the head of the CSA polling institute. "But these 71 per cent translate into the cost of victory: it will be very high."

"We are looking at a direct confrontation between public opinion and the president of the republic."

Neither has Mr. Sarkozy much room for retreat. "He has gambled his prospects of victory on these reforms," Mr. Haski said.

Such calculations intensified a mood of gathering crisis.

On Monday, half of France's high speed train services were canceled. Some commuter trains were harder hit, along with the Paris-Brussels high-speed services, canceled because of a separate strike in Belgium. The Paris-London Eurostar was running normally.

At Paris airports, a small number of flights scheduled to leave on Monday were also delayed or canceled after a surprise strike by aircraft refuelers.

A spokeswoman for Air France said at least two long-haul flights from Paris - to Seattle and Mumbai - had had been forced to take off with insufficient fuel, necessitating refueling stops en route. Airlines flying into French airports on Monday were being advised to carry sufficient fuel for their return journeys, according to Eurocontrol, the agency in Brussels charged with coordinating European air traffic management.

On Monday, oil industry workers used blazing tires to prevent access to a refinery east of Paris, resisting management efforts to reopen it.

On highways near Lille in the north and Lyon in the south, truckers and protesters snarled traffic by what are called "snail" operations, slowing their vehicles to walking pace.

In the Paris suburb of Nanterre, riot police fired tear gas at some 300 high-school protesters who had set fire to a car, wrecked bus stops and hurled rocks, witnesses said. The authorities said disturbances had been reported Monday from 261 of the country's 4,300 high schools - slightly less than in earlier unrest on Friday.

Nicola Clark and Scott Sayare contributed reporting.


4) Citigroup Reports $2.2 Billion Profit in Third Quarter
October 18, 2010

Two years after Citigroup became the poster child for all that went wrong in the financial system, the banking giant announced Monday that it had pumped out a profit for the third consecutive quarter. At a time when the home foreclosure practices are under acute scrutiny, Citigroup said that losses across its consumer lending businesses were starting to ease.

Citigroup, which is trying to extricate itself from partial government ownership, reported a net profit of $2.2 billion in the third quarter - a figure that topped most analysts' expectations. The gains partly reflected the fact that Citigroup released $2 billion that had been set aside to cover loan losses.

The results followed a big gain in quarterly profit at JPMorgan Chase and suggest that banking businesses linked to American consumers are finally starting to stabilize. Other big banks are expected to report similarly strong results in coming days, despite a weakening in traditional Wall Street businesses.

Whether the improvement is sustainable remains an open question, given the fragile economy. But Vikram S. Pandit, Citigroup's chief executive, said that he was pleased with the bank's progress on his plan to turnaround the troubled company.

"Achieving our third straight quarter of positive operating earnings is continued evidence that we are successfully executing our strategy," he said in a statement. "We believe we have put in place all the elements for continued profitability."

Citigroup's profit of $2.2 billion profit, or 7 cents a share, compared with a loss of $3.2 billion or 27 cents a share, a year ago. The results reflected a $800 million pre-tax loss tied to the sale of its student loan business to Discover Financial and Sallie Mae.

Revenue fell 10 percent, to $20.7 billion from $23.1 billion a year earlier, reflecting a decline in trading.

Still, Citigroup's profit surpassed the analyst consensus estimate of 6 cents a share, and was one of its strongest showings since the bank was bailed out by Washington in 2008. The government still owns a 12.4 percent stake in the bank, although it is in the process of selling off the position.

Since taking the helm of Citigroup in December 2007, Mr. Pandit has attempted to streamline the company's sprawling operations and transform it into a global bank, catering to multinational and high net-worth customers.

He has shaken up the company's management, shored up its finances and shed billions dollars of toxic real estate assets and other troubled businesses.

Over all, Mr. Pandit has made solid progress over the last few months, nearly halving the bank's pile of troubled assets and non-core businesses. Of the more than $406 billion in assets shed or sold in the last two years, it off-loaded $44 billion in the third quarter. Still, the bank is in search of buyers for CitiFinancial, its large consumer lending franchise that serves lower-income customers, as well as a big portfolio of what are essentially subprime credit card loans.

Citigroup executives are hoping they have sidestepped the foreclosure mess. The bank's mortgage division overhauled its loan-servicing practices about 18 months ago in anticipation of mounting foreclosures. It bolstered its employee training and buttoned-up its documentation practices, giving executives confidence that they may have avoided the so-called "Robo-signing" problems plaguing rivals like Bank of America, GMAC, and Chase.

"The integrity of Citi's foreclosures process is sound," said John Gerspach, Citigroup's chief financial officer during a conference call with journalists. "We have not identified any system issues."

Still, the bank bolstered its reserves tied to mortgage-related litigation. Mr. Gerspach said the bank had added about $322 million during the third quarter to cover the potential costs of faulty mortgages it might be obligated to repurchase from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and private insurers. JP Morgan Chase set aside about $1 billion last week.

After flagging signs of financial recovery in Asia and Latin America earlier this year, Citi's results suggested that consumer loan losses were starting to stabilize in the United States.

"We have seen fairly consistent improvement in our regional banking portfolios internationally," Mr. Gerspach said. "The nice thing about this quarter is that for the first time, we had more improvement in North American credit losses than we did internationally."

Indeed, although losses in Citigroup's domestic mortgages and credit units continued to mount, albeit at a much slower pace. Citigroup Holdings, which contains the bulk of most troubled mortgage and credit card assets along with other businesses marked for sale, reported a loss of $1.1 billion, down 44 percent from $2 billion a year earlier.

Citicorp, its core businesses, posted a $3.5 billion gain, up 43 percent from $2.5 billion in the prior year.

Citigroup executives said fewer borrowers are falling behind on their loan payments, leading bank officials to release over $2 billion it had previously set aside to cover loan losses. The bank released about $1.5 billion from its loan loss reserves in the second quarter, the first time it had done so since the crisis began.

Another crucial profit engine sputtered during the third quarter; Citigroup's investment bank posted a profit of $1.4 billion, down about 17 percent from the previous quarter. The bank suffered a $540 million loss after bets it placed to hedge its risk on corporate loans turned against it.

Trading revenues were a bit weaker as volumes slowed over the summer, but Citi's lending business was hardest hit after the bank took about a $300 million charge to bolster its reserves after "restructuring of a specific corporate credit in North America." Mr. Gerspach called it an "episodic" event and declined to elaborate.

Trading revenues from stock deals jumped 60 percent reflecting big gains in emerging markets, while investment banking fee income rose 38 percent after a pick-up in mergers-related activity as well as corporate and junk bond underwriting deals. Revenue from fixed income, commodities and currency dropped 6 percent after seeing declines in asset-backed securities, credit products and currency trading in the most developed economies.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 18, 2010

An earlier version of this article misstated JP Morgan Chase's plan regarding mortgage-related litigation reserves in the coming quarters. It is not planning to bolster such reserves.


5) Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail for Killer Cops!
Longshoremen Will Shut Down All Bay Area Ports
October 18, 2010

Emotions ran high when longshoremen at their July membership meeting were addressed by Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, the young black man who was killed by a cop at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland on New Year's Day 2009. Recounting the sidewalk mural in the front of the hiring hall near Fisherman's Wharf that depicts two strikers lying face down with the inscription: "Two ILA (longshoremen) Shot in the Back, Police Murder", he appealed to the union to support justice for his slain nephew. He said, "That mural shook me because that's exactly what happened to Oscar".

It got even hotter in the union hall when Jack Bryson took the mike. He is the father of two of Oscar Grant's friends terrorized by police at the train station as they sat handcuffed and helpless watching their friend die and hearing him moan. Bryson reported that police were calling for a rally the following Monday in the lily-white suburb of Walnut Creek to demanding that Johannes Mehserle the convicted killer cop go free. He asked the union members to join Oscar Grant supporters to protest the cop rally and they did. Outnumbering the 100 or so pro-Mehserle demonstrators by 3 to 1.

The New Year's Day horror scene was videotaped by other young train passengers and broadcast on YouTube and TV news across the country. Grant, the father of a four year old girl worked as a butcher's apprentice at Farmer Joe's supermarket nearby on Fruitvale Avenue. The litany of police killings of innocent young black and Latino men has evoked a public outcry in California. Yet, when it comes to killer cops, especially around election time, with both the Democratic and Republican parties espousing law and order, the mainstream media either expunges or whitewashes the issue.

Angered by the pro-police rallies and news coverage calling for killer cop Mehserle's freedom, Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has called for a labor and community rally October 23rd in Oakland to demand justice for Oscar Grant and the jailing of killer cops. Bay Area ports will shut down that day to stand with the black community and others against the scourge of police brutality.

Anthony Leviege, a longshore union rally organizer, said "Many unions, including the San Francisco and Alameda Labor Councils, have endorsed and are mobilizing for the rally. They see the need in the current economic crisis to build unity with the community to defend jobs, public education, health care and housing for all. And unions defending black and brown youth against police brutality is fundamental to that unity."

In this race-caste society there's nothing more controversial than a white cop convicted of killing a young black man like Oscar Grant... or of a black man like Mumia Abu-Jamal, framed by a corrupt and racist judicial system, accused of killing a white police officer when the opposite was the case. Jamal was nearly murdered by the police. His "crime" was that he didn't die on the spot, as Oscar Grant did. Mumia, the Frederick Douglass of our time, exposes the hypocrisy of democracy in America while fighting for his life on death row in Pennsylvania. His possibly final hearing is set for November 9th. Killer cops belong in jail, their victims (those who survive like Mumia) should go free. But that's not how justice in capitalist America works. The racist heritage of slavery is still with us.

Despite the election of its first black president, the United States has still not moved beyond the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision, "the negro has no rights which the white man was bound to respect". Just how deeply racism is embedded in the fabric of American society can be seen in President Obama's "teachable moment" in the case of Harvard professor Henry Gates (arrested by police for "breaking into" his own home!). The president, a friend of Professor Gates, upon hearing of the bizarre arrest called it a stupidity". When police loudly objected, Obama quickly and apologetically retracted his characterization over a photo op with the cop, the professor and him over a friendly beer.

Civil rights activists who were targets of racist attacks used to joke that the KKK wore white at night and blue in the daytime. Killer cop Mehserle was convicted of "involuntary manslaughter", though the videotapes show him shooting Grant as he lay passively face down about to be handcuffed. The media universally has tainted outraged protesters, blaming them for rioting while favoring Mehserle whose sentencing hearing is set for November 5. During a recent Giants' baseball game in San Francisco Mehersle's father was sympathetically interviewed on TV. But where is the justice for Oscar Grant's family and his now 5 year old daughter?


The police murder of two strikers provoked the 1934 San Francisco General Strike. Seven maritime workers in all were killed by police in West Coast ports during strike for the union hiring hall. Every July 5, Bloody Thursday, all ports on the West Coast are shut down to honor the labor martyrs. It's a living legacy that burns deep in the hearts of longshore and other maritime workers.

Some have asked, what's the connection between unions and the killing of a young black man? Plenty, according to Richard Washington, an Oakland longshoreman. He recalled the history of the longshore union and its struggle against the favoritism and racism of the "shape-up" hiring system that preceded the union hiring hall. At the start of the 1934 S.F. Maritime Strike, Harry Bridges, head of the militant Strike Committee, he said, appealed to the black community. Strikers implored blacks to support the strike and vowed to share work on the waterfront after their victory in the midst of the Great Depression when jobs were scarce, not unlike today. Blacks were integrated on the docks, a shining example being set by the San Francisco longshore local, and the union has been fighting against racist attacks and for working class unity since then.

A wall mural in the union hiring hall depicts the Red Angel, Elaine Black, of the International Labor Defense (ILD) during the '34 Big Strike which defended strikers. ILD has a rich history in the radical labor movement, originally headed up by James P. Cannon, an early leading communist. The ILD's pioneering class struggle defense began with the mass labor demonstrations defending Italian anarchist immigrant workers Sacco and Vanzetti, uniting all of the labor movement regardless of political differences.

In 2003, at the start of the U.S. war in Iraq, protesters in the port of Oakland and longshoremen were shot by Oakland riot police with "nonlethal" weapons. The UN Human Rights Commission condemned this police attack as "the most violent" police attack on antiwar demonstrators. Then-mayor Jerry Brown, now backed by the police in his bid for California governor, gave cops the green light. The rational for the bloody attack was given by a spokesman for the state's anti-terrorism agency newly formed by Democrat governor Gray Davis and Attorney General Bill Lockyer. The spokesman for the Callifornia Anti-Terrorism and Information Center in a twisted tautology said that anyone demonstrating against a war against terror could be a terrorist themselves. The OPD attack cost the city of Oakland a couple of million dollars when the dust settled.

ILWU longshoremen have given up a day's wages time and again to show solidarity with dockworkers in Liverpool, England, Charleston, South Carolina and Australia and to protest with dock actions on moral issues of the day like apartheid in South Africa, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in defense of innocent death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and recently the Israeli military killing of civilians bringing aid to Gaza by boat.

Now, the ILWU is calling on unions to link up with community organizations under their banner, "An Injury to One is an Injury to All." From all accounts it's a clarion call that will muster thousands fed up with the economic crisis and the scapegoating of minorities.

Jack Heyman, a working longshoreman, sits on the Executive Board of ILWU Local 10 and the Board of Directors of the John Brown Society. He has been active in all of the union's struggles mentioned in this article.


6) In France, Labor Strikes Head for Showdown
October 19, 2010

PARIS - Flights were canceled, drivers scavenged for fuel and hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, took to the streets of Paris and other cities on Tuesday as protests over President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to change France's pension system mounted in advance of a parliamentary vote.

The protests came on the sixth day of national strikes or demonstrations since early September. Initial figures from government ministries said that fewer public workers had participated than in previous stoppages. Over all, the Interior Ministry said 480,000 people were demonstrating across France by midday, compared to 500,000 in protests a week ago. But the number of high schools reporting class boycotts and other student protests had risen to a high of 379, reflecting what seemed to be a more prominent showing of young people joing street demonstrations.

In Paris, the number of those marching across the city, waving banners and lofting flares, fell from 89,000 one week ago to 67,000, the city authorities said, but labor unions put the figure five times higher.

Garbage workers, teachers, armored truck drivers supplying automated teller machines and an array of others joined the strikes on Tuesday. Protest organizations said demonstrations took place at more than 260 sites across the country, ratcheting up the battle of nerves between the authorities and unions, which are demanding that the government retreat from reforms like administrations did in 1995 and 2006 when confronted by outrage against tax and labor law changes.

While most marches seemed orderly, around 300 young people threw up barricades of garbage cans to snarl traffic in the Place de la République in central Paris and scuffles were reported between rock-throwing students and riot police firing tear-gas in the outlying neighborhoods of Nanterre and Mantes-la-Jolie. In the south-eastern city of Lyon, 20 people were arrested in the central Bellecour district, the authorities said, after hooded youths set fire to cars and at least five shops were looted.

The disruptions have gained momentum since the first national protest on Sept. 7, and have been compounded by an eight-day strike at oil refineries and blockades of fuel depots that have left service stations desperate for re-supplies of diesel and gasoline.

In central Paris, drivers lined up at gas stations hoping to fill their tanks before a two-week school vacation begins this weekend. Many waited for as long as an hour, creeping toward pumps in the hope that they were not yet empty of fuel. Some drivers from the suburbs said they had tried and failed to fill up at stations on their way into the city. Almost one third of France's 13,000 service stations have run out of some products, according to the government.

But Mr. Sarkozy has shown no sign of abandoning his plan to raise the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 - a measure designed to pay for pensions at a time when, across Europe, ageing populations depend on ever fewer young people to finance social safety nets with their taxes.

On Tuesday, Mr. Sarkozy said it was his duty to enact the reforms and he promised measures to guarantee fuel supplies. "I understand the worries," he said. "In a democracy, everyone may express themselves, but they should do it without violence or excesses." He said a "certain number of troublemakers" had joined the protests. "I will ensure with the forces of order that public order is guaranteed," Mr. Sarkozy said. "That is my duty, too."

On Tuesday, the police said a high school in Le Mans, southwest of Paris, was destroyed by arson in the early hours, but it was not clear if the blaze was linked to the protests. Transport authorities in Paris said commuter rail services were cut by as much as a half.

The national railroad authority announced cancellations of around half its high-speed and normal services on Tuesday, but said the Eurostar Paris-London link would not be affected. The authority said support for the strike among railroad workers seemed to be running at around 30 percent compared to 40 percent for the previous stoppage a week ago.

At the Gare du Nord station in Paris, travelers waited on benches, then raced to cram trains running on a reduced schedule. "It's absolutely absurd," said Emmanuel de Boos, 56, a writer from the western city of Nantes. "We absolutely need to reform the retirement system as it exists today."

"I think these strikes are more about other things," he said, likening them to a referendum on Mr. Sarkozy. "This is a reaction against the elite."

Yannick Kalu, 25, a student from a northern suburb of Paris, called Mr. Sarkozy's reforms a bad idea. "For those who began working early in life, it's going to be rough." He agreed that the strikes were about the broader issue of Mr. Sarkozy's rule. "I really do hope it's going to stop," he said, but added, "We can't hold it against people to worry about their retirements."

In the central Châtelet neighborhood, Marie Rodriguez, 35, a middle school teacher, said the broad response to the protests "proves that not only one group is against the reform but that everybody is concerned."

"I support the strike," she added.

At Orly airport near Paris, where half of the scheduled flights were grounded, travelers peered at departure boards recording cancellations and delays.

Martin Raggio, 31, and Alejandro Molettieri, 29, who both work at a brewery in Buenos Aires, had come to Orly after their train to Barcelona was canceled. "I guess we will wait here, we will sleep here in Orly maybe, until we can leave," Mr. Roggio said glumly. "We knew about the strike, but we were hoping we would be O.K."

At other French airports, around a third of flights were affected as the test of wills between labor unions and the government intensified.

Presenting himself as a champion of inevitable change, Mr. Sarkozy had proposed the retirement measures to help wrest France from the economic doldrums gripping many parts of Europe and to reverse years of declining political fortunes before elections in 2012. With a final Senate vote on the measures expected this week and lower house approval already in hand, he believes he is assured of a parliamentary victory. But it is not clear when the vote will come about, leaving the authorities and the unions potentially facing days of attrition.

Initially, the vote was set for Wednesday, but it could now be held on Thursday or even as late as Sunday as the Senate plows its way through some 400 amendments introduced by the opposition.

Scott Sayare, Marie-Pia Gohin, Joanna Kakissis, Nicola Clark, Maïa de la Baume and Matthew Saltmarsh contributed reporting.


7) Israel: 'Loyalty Oath' Bill to Change to Include Jews, Netanyahu Says
October 18, 2010

The government will amend a bill to require that all immigrants, not just non-Jews, take a loyalty pledge, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday. Opposition lawmakers had denounced the bill, whose original language was directed only at non-Jewish immigrants, saying it undermined the rights of Israel's minority Arab community. Thousands have protested the bill, which calls for an oath of loyalty to a "Jewish and democratic" Israel.


8) Britain Details Radical Cuts in Spending, Citing Debt
October 20, 2010

LONDON - Seeking to free itself of crushing debt, the British government unveiled the country's steepest public spending cuts in decades on Wednesday, sharply reducing welfare benefits, raising the retirement age earlier than planned and eliminating almost half a million public sector jobs over the next four years.

"Today is the day when Britain steps back from the brink," George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as Britain's top finance minister is known, told Parliament as he laid out an ambitious and potentially risky plan to reduce debt.

The program is a center-piece of the coalition government, which blames the country's economic malaise on its Labour predecessor under former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The cuts are so momentous that they could determine the coalition's fate as Britons face politically-charged austerity after years of growing prosperity before the financial meltdown in 2008.

"It is a hard road but it leads to a better future," Mr. Osborne said. "To back down now would be the road to economic ruin."

He said that 490,000 public sector jobs would be lost over the four-year savings program and the size of government departments in London would be cut by one third. Public spending would be cut by a total 83 billion pounds, or around $130 billion, by 2015.

Payments to long-term unemployed who do not seek jobs would be cut, he said, saving 7 billion pounds a year. Additionally, he said, a new 12-month limit would be imposed on people drawing long-term jobless benefits and measures would be taken to curb benefit fraud.

Mr. Osborne said an increase in the official retirement age from 65 to 66 would start four years sooner than planned, in 2020, saving 5 billion pounds a year. Britain has already said it will restrict once-universal child benefit payments to people earning less than around $70,000 a year.

Britain's public deficit is one of the highest among developed economies, running at 11.5 per cent of its total economic output, compared to 10.7 per cent for the United States and 5.4 per cent for Germany. The debate that has seized Britain in advance of Wednesday's announcement center around the question of whether deep cuts in spending would slow recovery, leading to a so-called double-dip recession.

Public sector positions in Britain number around six million, or, about one fifth of all jobs, according to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics. But it was not clear what the impact of shedding 490,000 of them - about eight per cent of the total - would have on unemployment. Mr. Osborne said private companies would be expected to employ more people as the economy emerged from the doldrums.

Mr. Osborne promised savings of an annual 7.1 percent in the budgets of local government councils and said there would be a freeze followed by a 14 percent cut in tax funds allocated to maintaining the royal household of Queen Elizabeth II. Public housing tenants, he said, would face higher rentals closer to the market rates for private housing. Defense spending would be cut by 8 percent by 2014, he said, but he promised not to reduce spending on British forces in the Afghanistan war.

But, he said, the National Health Service - one of the most politically-sensitive institutions in Britain - would be allocated more funds rather than less to meet a Conservative election pledge. He also said the "resource money" for schools would increase "in real terms" every year.

Spending on police would be cut by 4 percent a year, he said, but spending on intelligence and security agencies would be strengthened to guard against terrorism and protect London during the 2012 Olympic games. He also promised to spend 900 million pounds on measures to curb tax fraud, which cost the tax service some seven billion pounds a year.

Mr. Osborne said Britain's diplomatic corps - the Foreign Office - would lose 24 per cent of its funds by cutting the number of diplomats at the head office in London. Additionally, the BBC would take over funding the BBC World Service, saving the government 340 million pounds a year, while the BBC's own mandatory license fee levied on owners of television sets would be frozen for six years.

"We have had to make choices, choices in the things we support," he said. "We have taken our country back from the brink of bankruptcy." The average cut in the budgets of government departments, he said, would be 19 per cent, not 25 per cent as he had initially threatened.

He said a temporary tax on bank balance sheets would be made permanent to raise billions of dollars. Many Britons, like Americans, are angry with big banks perceived in the public eye as leading the world into crisis only to be rescued by tax-payers and reverting to a culture of bonuses and avarice. Mr. Osborne said the government would seek to extract "the maximum sustainable taxes" from financial institutions.

In June, Mr. Osborne also unveiled an increase in value-added tax next year that will increase the cost of many basic transactions.

The deficit is the biggest economic challenge facing the coalition government made up of the dominant Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron and the junior Liberal Democrats.

Mr. Cameron has argued that, without radical and rapid measures to cut the 156 billion pound deficit, the country will face unbearable interest payments, but the opposition says measures to reduce the debt should be more restrained so as to permit growth and preserve jobs.

The austerity program has already raised the possibility of protests similar to those in France. But, while a million French people took to the streets on Tuesday to protest plans to increase the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 years, only around 2,000 labor union members joined a march in Britain on the same day in advance of Mr. Osborne's announcement.

Nonetheless, a former Conservative government minister, Norman Fowler, has said the government's cuts could provoke a long period of demonstrations, protests and strikes.

The cuts, far more detailed and sweeping than those in many other Western nations, were depicted by the opposition as a reckless gamble that could tip the country back into recession. Alan Johnson, the opposition Labour finance spokesman, told Parliament: "Today's reckless gamble with people's livelihoods runs the risk of stifling the fragile recovery."

Sarah Lyall reported from London and Alan Cowell from Paris.


9) French Police Begin Breaking Up Fuel Depot Blockades
"Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said that three depots in western France had been forced open overnight "without incident." At one depot, though, protesters regrouped and closed access roads to it, news reports said. Mr. Hortefeux has also threatened to send in paramilitary police to stop rioters who had torched cars, trashed stores and injured police officers and others on the fringes of nationwide protests. Television footage showed riot police with raised batons charging overnight into crowds of protesters trying to blockade fuel supplies. Protests broke out anew early on Wednesday with demonstrators blocking road tunnels in Marseille and airports in Toulouse and Clermont-Ferrand."
October 20, 2010

PARIS - Trying to reassert authority following widespread protests against his plans to reform the pension system, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday that he had ordered police to break up blockades of fuel depots that have left a third of the country's gas stations dry as angry motorists form lines for scarce fuel.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said that three depots in western France had been forced open overnight "without incident." At one depot, though, protesters regrouped and closed access roads to it, news reports said. Mr. Hortefeux has also threatened to send in paramilitary police to stop rioters who had torched cars, trashed stores and injured police officers and others on the fringes of nationwide protests.

Television footage showed riot police with raised batons charging overnight into crowds of protesters trying to blockade fuel supplies. Protests broke out anew early on Wednesday with demonstrators blocking road tunnels in Marseille and airports in Toulouse and Clermont-Ferrand.

In a statement, Mr. Sarkozy insisted that weeks of strikes and demonstrations would not deter him from pursuing "to its term" his plan to raise the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60.

Mr. Sarkozy's comments hardened the government's commitment to reform the indebted pension system despite public opposition.

As fewer French turned out for public demonstrations on Tuesday, the sixth day of nationwide protests, pressure on the government increased because of bottlenecks created by striking workers at key energy chokepoints. The final parliamentary vote on the plan may not come until early next week.

For Mr. Sarkozy, already with low favorability ratings in the opinion polls, the pension reform has become a major test of his presidency. If he gives way, his credibility will be gone and it will be extremely difficult for him to carry out the government budget cuts he has promised in the next two years to bring France's large deficit under tighter control and to ensure that France keeps its AAA ratings in the markets.

All over the euro zone, governments that are trying to cut spending and borrowing, bringing a new austerity to a comfortable European way of life, are suffering in the polls. Mr. Sarkozy and his government are no different, but his problems are magnified by a generalized anxiety about France's generous retirement system. His effort to raise the minimum age for a partial pension to 62 from 60 and for a full pension to 67 from 65 is a visible and symbolic example of a loss of a highly prized social gain achieved under the opposition Socialists.

But Mr. Sarkozy argues that with demographic changes, France can no longer afford the social model of the past. Even the current pension reform will only take France through 2018 before the system falls again into deficit.

In his statement on Wednesday, Mr. Sarkozy said: "For millions of our co-citizens, transport represents a vital question. It is a matter of a fundamental freedom. In these last few days, many French people have seen their daily lives disturbed by the issue of supplies to some service stations.

"I gave instructions yesterday that all fuel depots should be reopened in order to re-establish a normal situation as soon as possible."

With refinery workers on strike and depots blockaded, the fuel crisis has become one of the most pressing aspects of the broader protest, which increasingly, has drawn in young people alongside labor union representatives.

New agencies reported that rioting youths wearing hoods and scarves on their faces were darting through the streets of Nanterre, a Paris suburb, on Wednesday near a high school that has seen clashes in recent days. Riot police are deployed around the area, still littered with broken glass and burned tires from past clashes.

Some of the early protests on Wednesday seemed to focus on southern France, with activists trying to blockade a strategic fuel depot supplying military and civilian airports in Nice, Marseille and Lyon. In Lyon itself, where protesters fought with the police and looted stores, hooded youths again set fire to cars Wednesday, news reports said. Mr. Hortefeux said on Wednesday that over the past week, "1,423 troublemakers" had been detained at demonstrations by high school students.

In Marseille - a hotbed of protest - strikers used trucks to block tunnels in the early hours of the morning, French news reports said, and closed down bus and tram services. In Paris, transit officials said the subway would operate normally but other commuter services would be cut by as much as one half. High-speed trains would run at two thirds of normal schedules, the national railroad authority said. Protesters threatened to block access roads to main Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, while several flights were canceled at Orly, the capital's second major airport.

While some French officials argued that fewer protesters had turned out on Tuesday, the sixth day of national strikes and demonstrations, the damage to the economy is only beginning to be tallied, and there appears to be enough political fallout to potentially cost all the players.

Every day this week, including Wednesday, some truckers staged "escargot," or snail protests, driving in teams very slowly on the highways; others blocked fuel depots or vowed to stop distributing cash to A.T.M.'s.

"But at the same time, the movement is radicalizing," he said, after reports of masked youths clashing with the police, throwing bottles and setting scattered fires in French cities.

Jérôme Sainte-Marie, head of political research for the French polling institute C.S.A., said, "We are in a situation where government and the unions are losing control, and if something serious happens, it will both weaken the unions and be a catastrophe for the government."

Even the Socialists are worried, he said, "because they could be largely discredited if there are excesses" and violence.

Mr. Sarkozy's major mistake, Mr. Sainte-Marie said, was to accelerate the pension reform when it appeared that the French had accepted his demographic arguments last spring, and then to cut off serious discussion with the unions and the opposition. "Social dialogue was interrupted," he said, and the uncertainty is made worse by an expected cabinet reshuffle, because ministers taking responsibility for handling the crisis may soon lose their jobs.

A large number of students have joined the protests as a kind of generational rite of passage, he said. "Young people have built a general abhorrence at all levels toward Sarkozy," he noted, "but there is also the idea in France that you must participate at least once in your life in a social movement."

But they also harbor some of the deepest fears of unemployment, which will only be worsened when older workers delay retirement.

The Interior Ministry said that 1.1 million people demonstrated throughout France on Tuesday, down from 1.23 million on Oct. 12. In Paris, the police said that 67,000 people demonstrated, down from 89,000. The main union, the C.G.T., said that 3.5 million people demonstrated throughout France on both days.

Reporting was contributed by Richard Berry, Nicola Clark, Maïa de la Baume, Scott Sayare and Marie-Pia Gohin.


10) Rioters Rampage, Protesters Block French Airports
October 20, 2010

Filed at 11:13 a.m. ET

PARIS (AP) - Workers opposed to a higher retirement age blocked roads to airports around France on Wednesday, leaving passengers in Paris dragging suitcases on foot along an emergency breakdown lane.

Outside the capital, hooded youths smashed store windows amid clouds of tear gas.

Riot police in black body armor forced striking workers away from blocked fuel depots in western France, restoring gasoline to areas where pumps were dry after weeks of protests over the government proposal raising the age from 60 to 62.

Riot officers in the Paris suburb of Nanterre and the southeastern city of Lyon sprayed tear gas but appeared unable to stop the violence.

After months of largely peaceful disruptions, some protests erupted into scattered violence this week over the government's push to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed that his conservative party would pass the reform in a Senate vote expected Thursday.

Many workers feel the change would be a first step in eroding France's social benefits - which include long vacations, contracts that make it hard for employers to lay off workers and a state-subsidized health care system - in favor of "American-style capitalism."

Sarkozy ordered all fuel depots forcibly reopened and vowed Wednesday that he would "carry the retirement reform through to the end." And despite France's tolerance for a long tradition of strikes and protest, official patience appeared to be waning after weeks of actions that have snarled traffic, cancelled flights and dwindling gasoline supplies and, now, rising urban violence.

Protesters waving red union flags and reflective vests temporarily blocked the main road leading to one of two terminals at Orly Airport on Wednesday. The ADP airport authority warned on its website of "serious difficulties expected in access to airports and air traffic."

The protests tangled traffic to the airport and some passengers walked hundreds of meters (yards) along an emergency lane to get there, dragging suitcases behind them. In one terminal, screens showed that 10 of 52 flights Wednesday afternoon were cancelled.

"It's Baghdad here," said Lionel Philippe, who arrived at Orly after much difficulty because of protesters blocking access to the airport - only to find his flight to Biarritz cancelled.

He said he wasn't interested in the pension reform debate, he just wants to get home.

"I'm 28, by the time I retire everything will have changed anyway," he said.

At Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris, the nation's biggest, protesters sang the French national anthem before pushing through a police barricade.

"It is like we are on another planet," said Canadian traveler Olivier Lejour, waiting to take off from Charles de Gaulle. While he said it was "fun" to watch, he said the protests disrupted his efforts to work in Paris.

The CGT Transport union says protests also shut down the Clermont-Ferrand airport in the south and disrupted airports in Nice and Nantes.

With nearly a third of France's gas stations dry, authorities stepped in overnight to force open three fuel depots blocked by striking workers for days, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said.

At one site in the western town of Donges, police formed a corridor along the road leading to the depot to allow trucks to pass in and out. Video footage showed officers peacefully herding striking workers away from one depot.

Hortefeux warned that the blockades threatened emergency services and could have grave consequences for the entire French economy and public health and safety.

Hortefeux warned rioters that "the right to protest is not the right to break things, the right to set things on fire, the right to assault, the right to pillage."

"We will use all means necessary to get these delinquents," including the GIGN paramilitary police, he said. The police deployed so far have been CRS riot police, helmeted and wielding shields, sometimes firing tear gas or rubber bullets.

There are still more than 3,000 gas stations empty of fuel, or about a quarter of those nationwide, the environment minister said Wednesday.

Over the past week, 1,423 people have been detained for protest-related violence and 62 police officers injured, he said. He said he ordered police to look at video surveillance to find more perpetrators, suggesting more arrests could be ahead.

In Nanterre on Wednesday morning, about 100 students blocked the school entrance and part of highway in front of the school, while a "tranquility team" of about 30 adults in special red jackets sought to keep things calm.

Then about 100 other youths arrived and started darting through the town streets, smashing store windows and throwing stones. Some store owners lowered metal blinds to avoid looting. Nine police vans were parked in the surrounding area.

The sidewalks of Nanterre were littered with glass from bus shelters and illuminated signs that had been smashed Tuesday. All the vehicles were removed Wednesday from the street in front of the school, because a car had been torched there the day before.

"We try to protect local residents and the mother passing by with children, we try to control the traffic to avoid that young people get hit, because this is not in the interest of the demonstration," said Elisabeth Guerrier, a social worker trying to act as a mediator in Wednesday's conflict.

In the city of Lyon, new clashes broke out Wednesday morning, with rioters running in small groups down different streets, throwing projectiles and setting off flares. At least 700 police officers were deployed, and some responded with tear gas and cordoned the rioters off. A gendarme helicopter circled overhead at low altitude. A delivery truck was set ablaze.

Hortefeux, the interior minister, visited the city in the afternoon, when tensions appeared to have calmed in Lyon and in Nanterre.

This week's clashes revived memories of student unrest in 2006 that forced the government to abandon another highly unpopular labor bill. And the specter of 2005 riots that spread through poor housing projects nationwide with disenfranchised immigrant populations is never far away.

Students plan new protests Thursday, with a demonstration in Paris hours before the Senate is expected to approve the retirement measure.

Strikes continued Wednesday at the SNCF national rail network, and one in three TGV high-speed train was cancelled.

Some 69 ships are waiting in waters outside Marseille because oil terminals are blocked by strikers.

In Marseille itself, some 150 members of the civil security service - which includes fire fighters and sappers - intervened to collect heaps of reeking garbage piled up after days of strikes by trash collectors. No buses were running in Marseille because unions were blocking the main bus depot. Protesters occupied the Marseille Chamber of Commerce before being kicked out by police.

Associated Press writers Jean-Marie Godard and Cecile Brisson in Paris, Nicolas Garriga and Jonathan Shenfield in Lyon, Oleg Cetinic and Paolo Santalucia in Nanterre and Alexis Duclos in Grandpuits contributed to this report.


11) 1 in 5 Americans Have Close Ties Elsewhere
October 19, 2010

Nearly one in five Americans are either immigrants or were born in the United States to at least one parent from abroad, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. The second generation was more likely to be better educated and earn more and less likely to be living in poverty. "This suggests that the children of immigrants are continuing to assimilate over time as they have in past generations," said Elizabeth M. Grieco, chief of the bureau's Foreign-Born Population Branch. The bureau said that in 2009, 12 percent of the population, or 36.7 million people, were immigrants and that 11 percent, or 33 million, were the children of at least one immigrant parent. Among the foreign born, 29 percent had a bachelor's degree and 31 percent earned more than $50,000. Among the second generation, 33 percent had a bachelor's degree and 42 percent made more than $50,000.


12) $18 Million to Man Wrongly Imprisoned
"Mr. Newton's claim was supported by the Innocence Project, a nonprofit group that seeks to free convicts through DNA evidence. It said that of about 50 people from New York City it had represented in the last five years, half had received the DNA evidence in their cases from the city. In the other cases, the city was unable to produce the evidence or explain what had happened to it."
October 19, 2010

A Bronx man who was imprisoned for more than two decades on a rape conviction before being cleared by DNA evidence was awarded $18.5 million by a jury on Tuesday.

The judgment, which came about four years after the man, Alan Newton, was released from prison, is one of the largest ever awarded to a wrongfully incarcerated person in New York City. Mr. Newton was convicted of rape, robbery and assault in 1985 - based largely on eyewitness testimony - and spent years fighting to have DNA evidence from the case located and tested after more advanced testing procedures became available.

A rape kit from the case was found in a Police Department warehouse in 2005 - about a decade after Mr. Newton and his lawyers had requested it - and subsequent testing showed that DNA collected from the victim did not match.

Mr. Newton, now 49, was released from prison in July 2006. On Tuesday, a jury ruled that the city had violated his constitutional rights, and found two police officers liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress for failing to produce Mr. Newton's evidence when requested.

"I'm just real numb right now," Mr. Newton said in an interview on Tuesday. "It hasn't really sunk in. It's so emotional. It's something I've been fighting for the last four years, since I came home. I'm just glad things worked out at the end of the day."

A spokeswoman for the city's Law Department said the city was "disappointed" with the verdict, which was rendered in Federal District Court in Manhattan, and planned to appeal it.

Mr. Newton's lawyer, John F. Schutty III, argued that the Police Department's system for storing and keeping track of post-conviction evidence was so shoddy that the city showed a reckless disregard for his constitutional rights. Mr. Schutty pointed out that for years the city had been registering and tracking the movement of evidence strictly by paper and pen.

"Only this year are they attempting to introduce a bar-code system," he said.

Mr. Newton's claim was supported by the Innocence Project, a nonprofit group that seeks to free convicts through DNA evidence. It said that of about 50 people from New York City it had represented in the last five years, half had received the DNA evidence in their cases from the city. In the other cases, the city was unable to produce the evidence or explain what had happened to it.

"The City of New York," Mr. Schutty said, "has been engaged in a pattern of failing to pay proper attention to their duties to preserve post-conviction criminal evidence and its associated paperwork."

Since being released from prison, Mr. Newton has tried to catch up on lost time. He immediately enrolled as a full-time student at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and completed his studies over the next two years.

He now works as a research associate at the Black Male Initiative of the City University of New York, helping to recruit, retain and assist students to ensure they graduate from college, he said. And he recently took the law school admissions test and plans to apply to law schools this year. Eventually, he said, he would like to do public interest work, helping to prevent people in poor neighborhoods from suffering the fate that he did.

"I want to work with people that really need that legal assistance that's just not there for them," he said. "There are so many issues where people need competent counsel, and it's just not out there. I think I'll jump into it with both arms."

Asked if he planned to celebrate his verdict, Mr. Newton said he was in no rush.

"There'll be time for celebration, but there are some other things to take care of," he said. "I've had a lot of patience in my life. I've learned not to rush anything. Good things take time. This decision took time, but it was worth every moment."


13) Summary Box: Wells Fargo Posts $3.15 Bln 3Q Profit
October 20, 2010

Filed at 11:48 a.m. ET

RESULTS: Wells Fargo & Co.'s income rose 19 percent to $31.5 billion, or 60 cents per share in the third quarter, beating expectations of 55 cents per share.

CONTEXT: Wells Fargo is one of the largest consumer banks in the U.S. and its results are a gauge of the economic health of Americans. Average checking and savings deposits grow 9 percent and customers borrowed more in credit cards and in home equity loans.

OUTLOOK: The American consumer is starting to display early signs of financial stability as losses from bad loans fell.


14) French Leader Vows to Punish Violent Protesters
October 21, 2010

PARIS - Maintaining a tough line, President Nicolas Sarkozy warned on Thursday that "troublemakers" using violence in the protests against his proposed pension changes would be pursued and punished "with no weakness" on the part of the authorities.

The president spoke at a meeting with rural officials southwest of Paris as strikers blocked traffic in several cities and other protesters vowed to continue weeks of efforts to thwart the retirement changes on which Mr. Sarkozy appears to have staked his political future.

Mr. Sarkozy said strikers and demonstrators blocking fuel depots did not have the right to "take hostage people who have nothing to do with it." He was referring to 10 straight days of strikes at refineries and blockades of fuel depots that have left motorists struggling to find fuel.

While the authorities said Thursday that there had been a "slow improvement" in fuel supplies with only 14 out of more than 200 depots still blockaded, service station operators said about half of the country's 13,000 gas stations were experiencing supply problems.

The crisis shows little immediate sign of ending and a final parliamentary vote on Mr. Sarkozy's plan to raise the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 seemed unlikely until the middle of next week.

Referring to several days of clashes between the police and protesters in Lyon, which continued on Thursday, Mr. Sarkozy said the "troublemakers will not have the last word in a democracy, a republic."

"It is not acceptable," he said. "They will be stopped, tracked down and punished, in Lyon and anywhere else, with no weakness. Because in our democracy, there are many ways to express yourself. But violence is the most cowardly, the most gratuitous, and that is not acceptable."

Earlier on Thursday, strikers blocked the access road to the airport in the southern port of Marseille for several hours and held up traffic near the cities of Rouen, Toulon, Le Havre and elsewhere, news reports said. The actions came a day before the start of midterm school vacations whose impact on the strikes and protests was unclear.

Education authorities said 312 of the country's 4,300 high schools had been closed or disrupted because of protests by students on Thursday. Several thousand students marched through Paris on Thursday afternoon. There were no immediate reports of unrest.

On Wednesday, Mr. Sarkozy ordered the police to reopen all the blocked fuel depots and warned of economic dislocations from the continued protests.

"If this disorder is not ended quickly, the attempt to paralyze the country could have consequences for jobs by disrupting the normal functioning of the economy," Mr. Sarkozy told his cabinet. Unions are considering another day of demonstrations on Tuesday. But some union leaders acknowledged that time was running against them, and some quietly acknowledged concern that the largest and most radical French union might be pushing the protests too far.

That union, the C.G.T., was once allied with the Communist Party. It is the largest union among refinery, port, gas and power workers, some of whom are more radical than the union's leadership.

François Chérèque, head of the second largest French union, the C.F.D.T., called on demonstrators to remain calm and not to give in to provocations, while the white-collar union, the C.F.E.-C.G.C., announced that Tuesday's demonstration would be its last. Its president, Bernard Van Craeynest, said that in the face of excesses, "it will be necessary without doubt to pause to reorient the actions" of the unions.

He added, "We find ourselves in a situation where the movement is going in all directions."

But with the more radical union members deployed at choke points for fuel and gasoline supplies, and with more young people protesting, the tone of the demonstrations became more aggressive, making it easier for Mr. Sarkozy to try to shift the public's focus to the restoration of order.

The interior minister, Brice Hortefeux, warned rioters that "the right to protest is not the right to break things, the right to set things on fire, the right to assault, the right to pillage." He added: "We will use all means necessary to get these delinquents."

Drivers hunted for gasoline, some of them calling the police to ask what stations still had supplies. Often refills were limited. France's 11 active refineries remain on strike, though officials ordered employees at one to return to work. France has been importing large amounts of electricity, and prices have been rising.

The political scientist Jacques Capdevielle noted with surprise that while only 4 percent of French workers were unionized, credible polls showed that a majority of the French supported the strike.

Jean-François Copé, parliamentary leader of Mr. Sarkozy's party, said Wednesday that this was "the week of truth" on the pension overhaul and emphasized "the cohesion of the majority and the government" on the change, saying, "There is no other solution to save our pension system."

He then criticized the opposition Socialist Party for promoting the demonstrations without a viable legislative alternative and for calling students into the streets. He said he was appalled that "a handful of people have taken the economy of our country hostage by blocking the fuel depots."

Prime Minister François Fillon said in the National Assembly that the protests would fade once the law was in place. He cited other pension changes, in 1993, 2003 and 2007, that had also prompted protests, but "progressively became the law of the republic, accepted by a very large majority."

He added that "social confrontation is part of our democracy, but social consensus is, as well." He did not mention 1995, when widespread protests caused the government to drop a pension change.


15) Slain US Activist's Parents Face Israeli Driver
October 21, 2010

Filed at 12:16 p.m. ET

HAIFA, Israel (AP) - The parents of an American protester crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip got their first chance Thursday to hear from the man who drove the vehicle that killed her.

But they were denied a chance to confront him face-to-face in an Israeli courtroom, dashing a central goal of their civil lawsuit against Israel's Defense Ministry. The unidentified former soldier was shielded behind a wood-and-plastic partition, and his testimony about the events leading up to 23-year-old Rachel Corrie's death floated into the hall over a microphone.

"I wish I could see the whole human being," Cindy Corrie said before the testimony began, her voice shaking. She and her husband, Craig, traveled from their home in Olympia, Washington, to hear his testimony.

Their daughter was killed in 2003 while trying to block the bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian home in Gaza.

An army investigation concluded she was partially hidden behind a dirt mound and ruled her death an accident. The driver and his commander were not charged or tried and no one was punished.

The activist's parents filed their civil suit in 2005, and petitioned Israeli courts for a chance to look the bulldozer driver in the eye. That request was rejected.

"The Israeli government and the Israeli military are hiding behind the screens," Cindy Corrie said after Thursday's testimony got under way.

The state's lawyer, Irit Kalman, said the driver was behind a screen because "we want soldiers to feel free to give a real testimony. We could have asked for a closed-door trial, but we wanted them (the family) to hear everything going on in this trial," she said.

The Corries' lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, spent hours trying to poke holes in past testimony the driver gave to the military inquiry that cleared him. At one point, he pulled out a toy bulldozer, a green ball meant to represent the mound of dirt and a toy fish to represent the young American woman.

The driver was questioned for more than four hours, often saying he did not remember what happened.

Asked about the deadly incident, the driver said, "I started pushing with the bulldozer and I felt a heavier than usual load so I started reversing." He said he had no recollection of Corrie because there were many people at the site.

The Corries were seated between translators about 15 feet (5 meters) from the driver.

"I haven't heard one moment of remorse, and to me, that's one of the saddest things," Cindy Corrie said during a break in the proceedings.

The family has criticized the Israeli military investigation and lobbied U.S. officials to pressure Israel to reopen it.

They have also tried unsuccessfully to sue Caterpillar Inc., the U.S. company that manufactured the bulldozer. They claimed the company was liable for aiding and abetting human rights violations.

Rachel, the youngest of the couple's three children, took a break from college at age 23 to pursue student activism overseas as a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group whose activists often position themselves in hotspots between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.

Her fellow activists claim she was killed deliberately and see her as a symbol of what they consider to be Israeli brutality.

Some supporters of Israel argue that thousands of foreign activists like Corrie recklessly choose to risk their lives in a conflict zone where they could be harmed by soldiers who themselves often feel under assault.

The Corries, unwittingly drawn into Mideast affairs by their daughter's death, are seeking a symbolic $1 in damages plus trial costs and travel expenses for themselves and witnesses, which they have estimated at $100,000.

Hearings in the case began earlier this year. The trial is to resume Nov. 4.


16) Battle Lines Forming in Clash Over Foreclosures
October 20, 2010

About a month after Washington Mutual Bank made a multimillion-dollar mortgage loan on a mountain home near Santa Barbara, Calif., a crucial piece of paperwork disappeared.

But bank officials were unperturbed. After conducting a "due and diligent search," an assistant vice president simply drew up an affidavit stating that the paperwork - a promissory note committing the borrower to repay the mortgage - could not be found, according to court documents.

The handling of that lost note in 2006 was hardly unusual. Mortgage documents of all sorts were treated in an almost lackadaisical way during the dizzying mortgage lending spree from 2005 through 2007, according to court documents, analysts and interviews.

Now those missing and possibly fraudulent documents are at the center of a potentially seismic legal clash that pits big lenders against homeowners and their advocates concerned that the lenders' rush to foreclose flouts private property rights.

That clash - expected to be played out in courtrooms across the country and scrutinized by law enforcement officials investigating possible wrongdoing by big lenders - leaped to the forefront of the mortgage crisis this week as big lenders began lifting their freezes on foreclosures and insisted the worst was behind them.

Federal officials meeting in Washington on Wednesday indicated that a government review of the problems would not be complete until the end of the year.

In short, the legal disagreement amounts to whether banks can rely on flawed documentation to repossess homes.

While even critics of the big lenders acknowledge that the vast majority of foreclosures involve homeowners who have not paid their mortgages, they argue that the borrowers are entitled to due legal process.

Banks "have essentially sidestepped 400 years of property law in the United States," said Rebel A. Cole, a professor of finance and real estate at DePaul University. "There are so many questionable aspects to this thing it's scary."

Others are more sanguine about the dispute.

Joseph R. Mason, a finance professor who holds the Louisiana Bankers Association chair at Louisiana State University, said that concerns about proper foreclosure documentation were overblown. At the end of the day, he said, even if the banks botched the paperwork, homeowners who didn't make their mortgage payments still needed to be held accountable.

"You borrowed money," he said. "You are obligated to repay it."

After freezing most foreclosures, Bank of America, the largest consumer bank in the country, said this week that it would soon resume foreclosures in about half of the country because it was confident that the cases had been properly documented. GMAC Mortgage said it was also proceeding with foreclosures, on a case-by-case basis.

While some other banks have also suggested they can wrap up faulty foreclosures in a matter of weeks, some judges, lawyers for homeowners and real estate experts like Mr. Cole expect the courts to be inundated with challenges to the banks' actions.

"This is ultimately going to have to be resolved by the 50 state supreme courts who have jurisdiction for property law," Professor Cole predicted.

Defaulting homeowners in states like Florida, among the hardest hit by foreclosures, are already showing up in bigger numbers this week to challenge repossessions. And judges in some states have halted or delayed foreclosures because of improper documentation. Court cases are likely to hinge on whether judges believe that banks properly fulfilled their legal obligations during the mortgage boom - and in the subsequent rush to expedite foreclosures.

The country's mortgage lenders contend that any problems that might be identified are technical and will not change the fact that they have the right to foreclose en masse.

"We did a thorough review of the process, and we found the facts underlying the decision to foreclose have been accurate," Barbara J. Desoer, president of Bank of America Home Loans, said earlier this week. "We paused while we were doing that, and now we're moving forward."

Some analysts are not sure that banks can proceed so freely. Katherine M. Porter, a visiting law professor at Harvard University and an expert on consumer credit law, said that lenders were wrong to minimize problems with the legal documentation.

"The misbehavior is clear: they lied to the courts," she said. "The fact that they are saying no one was harmed, they are missing the point. They did actual harm to the court system, to the rule of law. We don't say, 'You can perjure yourself on the stand because the jury will come to the right verdict anyway.' That's what they are saying."

Robert Willens, a tax expert, said that documentation issues had created potentially severe tax problems for investors in mortgage securities and that "there is enough of a question here that the courts might well have to resolve the issue."

As the legal system begins sorting through the competing claims, one thing is not in dispute: the pell-mell origination of mortgage loans during the real estate boom and the patchwork of financial machinery and documentation that supported it were created with speed and profits in mind, and with little attention to detail.

Once the foreclosure wheels started turning, said analysts, practices became even shoddier.

For example, the foreclosure business often got so busy at the Plantation, Fla., law offices of David J. Stern - and so many documents had to be signed so banks could evict people from their homes - that a supervisor sometimes was too tired to write her own name.

When that happened, Cheryl Samons, the supervisor at the firm, who typically signed about 1,000 documents a day, just let someone else sign for her, court papers show.

"Cheryl would give certain paralegals rights to sign her name, because most of the time she was very tired, exhausted from signing her name numerous times per day," said Kelly Scott, a Stern employee, in a deposition that the Florida attorney general released on Monday. A lawyer representing the law firm said Ms. Samons would not comment.

Bill McCollum, Florida's attorney general, is investigating possible abuses at the Stern firm, a major foreclosure mill in the state, involving false or fabricated loan documents, calling into question the foreclosures the firm set in motion on behalf of banks.

That problem extends far beyond Florida.

As lenders and Wall Street firms bundled thousands of mortgage loans into securities so they could be sold quickly, efficiently and lucratively to legions of investors, slipshod practices took hold among lenders and their representatives, former employees of these operations say.

Banks routinely failed to record each link in the chain of documents that demonstrate ownership of a note and a property, according to court documents, analysts and interviews. When problems arose, executives and managers at lenders and loan servicers sometimes patched such holes by issuing affidavits meant to prove control of a mortgage.

In Broward County, Fla., alone, more than 1,700 affidavits were filed in the last two years attesting to lost notes, according to Legalprise, a legal services company that tracks foreclosure data.

When many mortgage loans went bad in the last few years, lenders outsourced crucial tasks like verifying the amount a borrower owed or determining which institution had a right to foreclose.

Now investors who bought mortgage trusts - investment vehicles composed of mortgages - are wondering if the loans inside them were recorded properly. If not, tax advantages of the trusts could be wiped out, leaving mortgage securities investors with significant tax bills.

For years, lenders bringing foreclosure cases commonly did not have to demonstrate proof of ownership of the note. Consumer advocates and consumer lawyers have complained about the practice, to little avail.

But a decision in October 2007 by Judge Christopher A. Boyko of the Federal District Court in northern Ohio to toss out 14 foreclosure cases put lenders on notice. Judge Boyko ruled that the entities trying to seize properties had not proved that they actually owned the notes, and he blasted the banks for worrying "less about jurisdictional requirements and more about maximizing returns."

He also said that lenders "seem to adopt the attitude that since they have been doing this for so long, unchallenged, this practice equates with legal compliance." Now that their practices were "put to the test, their weak legal arguments compel the court to stop them at the gate," the judge ruled.

Yet aside from the actions of a few random judges, little was done to force lenders to change their practices or slow things down. Since March 2009, more than 300,000 property owners a month have received foreclosure notices or lost their home in a foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosure listings.

What finally prompted a re-examination of the foreclosure wave was the disclosure in court documents over the last several months of so-called robo-signers, employees like Ms. Samons of the Stern law firm in Florida who signed affidavits so quickly that they could not possibly have verified the information in the document under review.

Lenders and their representatives have sought to minimize the significance of robo-signing and, while acknowledging legal lapses in how they documented loans, have argued that foreclosures should proceed anyway. After all, the lenders say, the homeowners owe the money.

People who have worked at loan servicers for many years, who requested anonymity to protect their jobs, said robo-signing and other questionable foreclosure practices emanated from one goal: to increase efficiency and therefore profits. That rush, they say, allowed for the shoddy documentation that is expected to become evidence for homeowners in the coming court battles.

For example, years ago when banks made loans, they typically stored promissory notes in their vaults.

But the advent of securitization, in which loans are bundled and sold to investors, required that loan documents move quickly from one purchaser to another. Big banks servicing these loans began in 2002 to automate their systems, according to a former executive for a top servicer who requested anonymity because of a confidentiality agreement.

First to go was the use of actual people to determine who should be liable to a foreclosure action. They were replaced by computers that identified delinquent borrowers and automatically sent them letters saying they were in default. Inexperienced clerical workers often entered incorrect mortgage information into the computer programs, the former executive said, and borrowers rarely caught the errors.

Other record-keeping problems that are likely to become fodder for court battles involve endorsements, a process that occurs when notes are transferred and validated with a stamp to identify the institution that bought it. Eager to cut costs, most institutions left the notes blank, with no endorsements at all.

Problems are also likely to arise in court involving whether those who signed documents required in foreclosures actually had the authority to do so - or if the documents themselves are even authentic.

For example, Frederick B. Tygart, a circuit court judge overseeing a foreclosure case in Duval County, Fla., recently ruled that agents representing Deutsche Bank relied on documents that "must have been counterfeited." He stopped the foreclosure. Deutsche Bank had no comment on Wednesday.

Cynthia Veintemillas, the lawyer representing the borrower in the case, Patrick Jeffs, said the paperwork surrounding her client's foreclosure was riddled with problems.

"Everybody knows the banks screwed up and loaned out money to people who couldn't pay it back," she said. "Why are people surprised that they don't know what they are doing here either?"

Meanwhile, another judge on Wednesday indicated that the courts would not simply sign off on the banks' documentation. Jonathan Lippman, the chief judge of New York's courts, ordered lawyers to verify the validity of all foreclosure paperwork.

"We cannot allow the courts in New York State to stand by idly and be party to what we now know is a deeply flawed process, especially when that process involves basic human needs - such as a family home - during this period of economic crisis," Judge Lippman said in a statement.


17) Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing
"Interviews with lawyers involved in the cases, outside legal experts and a review of some records show that federal prosecutors have failed to overcome a series of legal hurdles, including the difficulties of obtaining evidence in war zones, of gaining proper jurisdiction for prosecutions in American civilian courts, and of overcoming immunity deals given to defendants by American officials on the scene."
October 20, 2010

WASHINGTON - Nearly four years after the federal government began a string of investigations and criminal prosecutions against Blackwater Worldwide personnel accused of murder and other violent crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cases are beginning to fall apart, burdened by a legal obstacle of the government's own making.

In the most recent and closely watched case, the Justice Department on Monday said that it would not seek murder charges against Andrew J. Moonen, a Blackwater armorer accused of killing a guard assigned to an Iraqi vice president on Dec. 24, 2006. Justice officials said that they were abandoning the case after an investigation that began in early 2007, and included trips to Baghdad by federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents to interview Iraqi witnesses.

The government's decision to drop the Moonen case follows a series of failures by prosecutors around the country in cases aimed at former personnel of Blackwater, which is now known as Xe Services. In September, a Virginia jury was unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of two former Blackwater guards accused of killing two Afghan civilians. Late last year, charges were dismissed against five former Blackwater guards who had been indicted on manslaughter and related weapons charges in a September 2007 shooting incident in Nisour Square in Baghdad, in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed.

Interviews with lawyers involved in the cases, outside legal experts and a review of some records show that federal prosecutors have failed to overcome a series of legal hurdles, including the difficulties of obtaining evidence in war zones, of gaining proper jurisdiction for prosecutions in American civilian courts, and of overcoming immunity deals given to defendants by American officials on the scene.

"The battlefield," said Charles Rose, a professor at Stetson University College of Law in Florida, "is not a place that lends itself to the preservation of evidence."

The difficulty of these cases also illustrates the tricky legal questions raised by the government's increasing use of private contractors in war zones.

Such problems clearly plagued the Moonen case. In the immediate aftermath of the Christmas Eve shooting, Mr. Moonen was interviewed, not by the F.B.I., but by an official with the Regional Security Office of the United States Embassy in Baghdad, the State Department unit that supervised Blackwater security guards in Iraq.

Mr. Moonen's lawyer, Stewart Riley, said that his client gave the embassy officials a statement only after he was issued a so-called Garrity warning - a threat that he might lose his job if he did not talk, but that he would be granted immunity from prosecution for anything he said.

The legal warning and protection given to Mr. Moonen were similar to warnings that embassy officials later gave to Blackwater guards involved in the Nisour Square case. In each case, the agreements presented an obstacle to prosecution in the United States. In effect, the Blackwater personnel were given a form of immunity from prosecution by the people they were working for and helping to protect.

"Once you immunize statements, it is really hard to prosecute," said Andrew Leipold, a law professor at the University of Illinois. "In the field, the people providing the immunity may value finding out what happened more than they do any possibility of prosecution. But that just makes any future prosecution really very hard."

Justice Department officials declined to comment Wednesday about specific Blackwater cases. But the department has appealed the dismissal of the Nisour Square case, and a new trial has been scheduled for next March in the Virginia murder case after a mistrial was declared. And Justice officials noted that the government had had a number of successful prosecutions against contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, including several for sexual assaults and other violent crimes. More than 120 companies have been charged by the Justice Department for contract fraud and related crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, officials said.

Still, a Justice official who spoke on the condition of anonymity acknowledged that the government had faced tough obstacles. "There are substantial difficulties in prosecuting cases committed in war zones," the official said. "There's problems with the availability of witnesses, availability of evidence, and the quality of the evidence. You also have claims of self-defense, which are generally difficult, although not insurmountable."

And self-defense is a more compelling argument in war zones, where many people are routinely armed.

One problem in the Moonen case, for example, was that while Mr. Moonen admitted in his statement to the embassy official that he did shoot the Iraqi guard, he asserted that he had done so in self-defense. The guards in the Virginia case also said that they shot in self-defense when they believed they were facing an attack from insurgents. In the Nisour Square case, the five Blackwater guards who were charged also claimed that they shot only after they believed they were under attack.

Jurisdictional problems also plague the Blackwater cases. Since the Blackwater guards were working under a contract with the State Department, they did not fall under the laws that govern contractors working for the Defense Department overseas. Contractors for the Defense Department are subject to criminal prosecution under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, but it has never been clear whether the law can be applied to contractors for the State Department, like Blackwater. Those contractors generally have greater protections because of the possibility that they might be engaged in fighting.

Until last year, foreign contractors also had immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law, so the Blackwater guards were operating in a legal vacuum, noted Eric Jensen, a law professor at Fordham University. "I would be concerned as a prosecutor that even if you got past the immunization, and the problems with witnesses and evidence, that you may not even have a law that supports the prosecution of a Department of State contractor," Mr. Jensen said. "Congress has tried to address this, but it's still a live question."

Mr. Riley cited these reasons in a letter he wrote in April 2009 to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. about the case and also noted that he believed the government had considered indicting Mr. Moonen to placate the Iraqi government. In a letter sent to Mr. Riley on Monday, notifying him that they were dropping the case, prosecutors also indicated that they would have difficulty proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt, particularly in overcoming Mr. Moonen's claims that he shot in self-defense.

Meanwhile, the government said that the United States ambassador to Iraq, James F. Jeffrey, had to notify the Iraqi government of the decision, and also provided government officials a letter to be given to the family of the shooting victim, Raheem Saadoun. This year, Mr. Saadoun's family dropped a civil lawsuit against Mr. Moonen and Blackwater after receiving a financial settlement.


18) French Police Break Refinery Blockade
"The unions also called for new days of national protest next Thursday and on Nov. 6."
October 22, 2010

PARIS — Security forces scuffled with strikers on Friday morning to break a blockade of a major refinery near Paris and the government moved to accelerate a Senate vote on pension reforms that have sparked weeks of strikes and demonstrations.

The Grandpuits refinery was one of 12 where strikers had halted operations since early last week, leaving drivers short of gasoline. Refineries, fuel depots and ports have been blocked and intermittent clashes have broken out between demonstrators and the police. In Lyon, an epicenter of violent protest, riot police stood by on Friday in case of further disturbances, witnesses said.

“What happened today is totally unacceptable,” Charles Foulard, a labor union official, told reporters at the Grandpuits refinery about 35 miles east of Paris. Labor unions said three strikers had been slightly injured as the police moved in. The police operation was designed to secure access to fuel stocks to ease critical shortages, the authorities said.

About a fifth of the 13,000 French service stations are still out of fuel, down from 40 percent affected earlier this week, Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said on Friday.

After a meeting later with oil industry executives, Prime Minister François Fillon said that shortages would probably continue for several days.

With a national school vacation beginning Friday afternoon, the national railroad authority said it was restoring high speed services that had been cut by half earlier in the week.

The police action at the Grandpuits refinery, which supplies much of the Paris area, followed moves late Thursday by President Nicolas Sarkozy to employ an article in the Constitution that will allow the government to prevent individual votes on the remaining 230 or so amendments to the pension reform bill.

There have been about 1,000 amendments, most of them an effort by the Socialists and other opposition parties to slow down the passage of the bill while the strikes continue. Under the streamlined procedure, an early vote on the bill could come on Friday and final approval is expected by the middle of next week.

The bill calls for gradual increases in the age for a minimum pension to 62 from 60 and for a full pension to 67 from 65. It provides some exceptions for workers in dangerous occupations, for those who began work at an early age and for mothers who take breaks to raise their children.

The rule will force the Senate to cast a single vote on the bill in a text drafted by the government, accepting only the amendments the government chooses. Debate can continue on the remaining amendments, but senators will not be able to vote on each one.

The unions also called for new days of national protest next Thursday and on Nov. 6.

The Socialists’ leader, Martine Aubry, criticized the government’s move in Parliament as an abuse of power imposing “an unjust reform” without sufficient debate by elected representatives.

“With Mr. Sarkozy, it’s the permanent ‘coup de force,’ ” she said, echoing an anti-De Gaulle pamphlet in 1964 by François Mitterrand called “Le coup d’état permanent.”

But Labor Minister Éric Woerth said that with the debate in its third week, “It’s time for the Senate to act.” Asked about Ms. Aubry’s charge, he said: “You say it’s a coup de force,” but added: “It’s only the application of the Constitution.”

Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Sarkozy warned that “troublemakers” using violence in the protests against his proposed pension changes would be pursued and punished “with no weakness” on the part of the authorities. He spoke at a meeting with rural officials southwest of Paris as a 10th straight day of strikes at refineries and blockades of fuel depots and ports left motorists struggling to find fuel.

Referring to several days of clashes between the police and protesters in Lyon, which continued on Thursday, Mr. Sarkozy said the “troublemakers will not have the last word in a democracy, a republic.”

“It is not acceptable,” he said. “They will be stopped, tracked down and punished, in Lyon and anywhere else, with no weakness. Because in our democracy, there are many ways to express yourself. But violence is the most cowardly, the most gratuitous, and that is not acceptable.”

Mr. Sarkozy has tried to switch the topic from pensions to law and order. But he is also counting on a coming school vacation week to take some of the steam out of the protests, which have been joined by thousands of high school students.

Richard Berry contributed reporting.


19) Louisiana Builds Barriers Even as Oil Disperses
October 21, 2010

Three months after BP capped its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico, the state of Louisiana is still building a chain of sand berms off its coast to block and capture oil even as federal officials and many scientists argue that the effort will prove pointless.

Since early June, a series of low-lying islands stretching about 10 miles have been constructed several miles from the coastline by hundreds of workers with sand dredged from gulf waters.

Gov. Bobby Jindal made the sand berms a signature element of his response to the oil spill last spring, exhorting federal officials to approve the project, and BP to foot the bill. So far the oil company has disbursed $240 million of a promised $360 million to the state.

Yet many scientists say the remaining oil from the spill, the largest in United States history, is far too dispersed to be blocked or captured by large sand structures.

“It certainly would have no impact on the diluted oil, which is what we’re talking about now,” said Larry McKinney, who heads the Gulf of Mexico research center at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. “The probability of their being effective right now is pretty low.”

So far, the berms have captured only 1,000 barrels of oil, according to official estimates, compared with the nearly five million barrels believed to have spewed from the BP well over all. By contrast, more than 800,000 barrels of oil were captured by BP at the wellhead, and roughly 270,000 barrels of oil were burned off by Coast Guard vessels offshore. Skimming operations, meanwhile, recovered at least 34 million gallons of oil-water mixture.

Ron Morris, a former Coast Guard captain and general manager of an oil spill response company on Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, called the berms’ 1,000 barrels a paltry amount.

“That’s not an awful lot of oil in the grand scheme of things,” said Mr. Morris, whose company sent 44 workers to the gulf to assist in the response effort and cleanup. “It probably wasn’t worth the dollars that they put into it.”

Yet even as some foes deride the project as “Jindal’s folly,” state officials champion the effort, arguing that they must do everything in their power to keep residual oil at bay.

“I think that the threat is still there,” said Garret Graves, director of the Louisiana Office of Coastal Activities and leader of the sand berm project. “This is a key component to the oil protection efforts.”

Some political analysts in Louisiana suggest that abandoning the berm project far short of completion could mar the public’s largely positive perception of Mr. Jindal’s handling of the spill, which raised his profile both locally and nationally.

Mr. Jindal’s resolve on the sand barriers “seemed to contrast very sharply with what was seen as a general failure by the Obama administration to act quickly on the spill,” said Brian J. Brox, a professor of political science at Tulane University. “Both this policy and the broader narrative really resonated with a lot of people who were very, very afraid of what was going to happen when all this oil came ashore.”

“I think that stopping short or giving any reason to label this as a failure or incomplete is something that the state would want to avoid,” Professor Brox said.

In late May, at the height of the spill, Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard did authorize the berms as an oil-spill countermeasure and directed BP to pay for them. But since then, the Coast Guard and the unified command, charged with responding to the oil spill under federal law, have had virtually no oversight or involvement in the project.

Rather, the state is proceeding with the permission of the Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates offshore engineering projects yet has little oil-spill expertise.

But as the dredging and construction press on, opposition from federal agencies and environmental groups is growing.

Some conservation groups and scientists assert that the project has not only been ineffective but could also threaten wildlife. They warn that the intensive dredging associated with the berms has already killed at least a half-dozen endangered sea turtles and could kill many more.

They have also repeatedly raised concern that further dredging may squander limited sand resources needed for future coastal restoration projects.

“As the summer went on, we became increasingly convinced that the amount of money that was being put into these projects was not worth the benefits,” said Karla Raettig, the national campaign director for coastal Louisiana restoration at the National Wildlife Federation. “It was BP’s money, but perhaps that money could have been better invested elsewhere.”

Some scientists and federal officials suggest that the remaining money allocated for the berms might be better spent on other coastal restoration projects, a move that BP says it would support. The money could be spent, they say, on barrier island restoration, for example, in which dredged sand is used to bolster existing islands, mimicking natural processes.

But state officials are unswayed. “I don’t see a downside to continuing to do this,” Mr. Graves said. “Maybe we’re being too protective of our coast. O.K., accuse me. I don’t have a problem with that.”

The berm project has been a boon to Louisiana industry: although many of the dredging companies working on the project have out-of-state headquarters, all have a major presence in Louisiana. The Shaw Group, the lead contractor on the project, is based in Baton Rouge and has been one of Mr. Jindal’s leading campaign contributors over the years.

Several of the project’s other contractors are also along the Louisiana coast. CF Bean, an engineering firm, is based in Plaquemines Parish, and one of the four dredging companies involved, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, has offices there, for example.

The berm project has drawn enthusiastic support from Billy Nungesser, the parish’s president. “My vote would be to continue them, to finish the project we started,” he told a federal oil spill commission last month in testifying about the berms.

The berm plan has been generating controversy since early May, when local coastal officials proposed to convert a plan to restore the state’s degraded barrier islands into an oil-spill protection measure. One concern raised by coastal scientists was that that the 40 miles of berms described in permit documents were spaced too closely together and would block the natural tidal flushing of interior bays, harming productive fisheries.

As the project evolved, the state radically altered its original proposal, allowing for large gaps between the berm segments and easing concerns that the estuaries would be harmed. These alterations will also allow the project to come in close to its original $360 million budget, state officials say, but will mean that only 22 miles of berms will be built — not the 40 originally envisaged.

Still, some Louisiana officials suggest that the berms will not only block oil but also benefit the barrier islands, which have been starved of sediment from the leveeing of the Mississippi River and heavily eroded by storms like Hurricane Katrina.

The berms are designed as temporary structures that can quickly wash away but in the process leave behind large amounts of sand that could bolster the islands. These islands have in the past helped dampen the impact of hurricanes on the coast.

Yet coastal scientists are split on whether the berms will ultimately do much good even in barrier island restoration.

So some federal officials say that now that the well is capped, it is time to review whether the money would be better spent elsewhere.

“Circumstances have changed considerably,” said Thomas L. Strickland, assistant interior secretary for fish and wildlife and parks. “And that would seem to warrant a revisiting of whether or not a continuation of the berm-building is the best use of limited resources, when we’re looking at such substantial restoration needs that exist in the gulf.”


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