Wednesday, October 27, 2010



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




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)


All Out on November 9th: Mobilize to Free Mumia!
Come to Philadelphia:
An Innocent Man Faces Execution... Again!
Will Mumia Be Killed For No Reason?
PHILADELPHIA, November 9th 2010,
2 PM, Third Circuit Court, 6th & Market

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

Please forward and distribute widely...

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL'S LIFE IS IN GRAVE DANGER! Come to Philadelphia, or demonstrate in the Bay Area, on November 9th! Details below...

But first... The WBAI Radio (NY) Show "Taking Aim" will help defend Mumia Abu Jamal.

Long time Mumia supporters Mya Shone, host of "Taking Aim," and co-presenter Ralph Schoenman, are planning to offer the new cd, "Mumia On Oscar Grant," as a premium on their show, during WBAI's current fund drive, this Tuesday, the 26th of October 2010, at 5 PM New York time. Listen at 99.5 FM in the New York area, or hook up online at Pledge to WBAI to receive the cd.

Both Mumia, and the listener-sponsored Pacifica radio stations such as WBAI, are in need of your support in these trying times. Please consider a generous donation.

The cd "Mumia on Oscar Grant" was produced by the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal in order to help increase awareness of these two case of police violence and frame-ups against the black community in the US. It consists of Mumia Abu-Jamal's audio commentaries on the murder of Oscar Grant by BART cop Johannes Mehserle, and on numerous other important topics.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former member of the Black Panther Party and a journalist who works from behind bars to report and comment on important social issues, is completely innocent of the crime of killing a police officer, for which he was convicted in 1982. Most recently, his innocence has been demonstrated yet again by a dramatic new documentary, JUSTICE ON TRIAL, the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, which premiered in Philadelphia on September 21st, and on the West Coast on October 24th.

Oscar Grant was a young black retail grocery worker and father of a young daughter who was shot in the back by Mehserle and killed, while he was face down on the pavement, in January 2009, in Oakland CA. The ex-BART cop is due to be sentenced on November 5th in LA for the ridiculously light conviction of "involuntary manslaughter." The most time he can get is 14 years.

On Saturday the 23rd of October, Local 10 of the ILWU, the West Coast longshore union, shut down all the ports in the SF Bay Area to support: Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail Killer Cops! Maximum Sentence for Johannes Mehserle! This is the same union that shut down all ports on the West Coast to demand: Free Mumia! in 1999. 1500 rallied in the rain at City Hall in Oakland that day in support of the ILWU's call for justice for Oscar Grant.


MUMIA ABU-JAMAL faces his likely last court hearing on November 9th, 2010, at the Third Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia. The US Supreme Court has already thrown out Mumia's last appeal against his kangaroo-court conviction before a racist judge in 1982. Now, the Third Circuit is to decide between reinstatement of Mumia's death sentence, or life in prison without the possibility of parole. These are the only two possible outcomes in the courts at this time. We have no confidence in the corrupt, racist US court system!

We need mass actions, and labor actions, to say: Mumia Is Innocent! Free Mumia Now! End the Racist Death Penalty!

EAST COAST -- PHILADELPHIA: Demonstrate to Free Mumia Now! Come to the Third Circuit Court, 6th and Market, Philadelphia, at 12 Noon on Tuesday November 9th. (The hearing starts at 2 PM.)

EAST COAST -- NEW YORK CITY: Get on the bus to Philadelphia! Call the Mumia hotline at: 212 330-8029. Leave a message to request a seat on the bus to Philadelphia.

BAY AREA -- OAKLAND: 12 Noon on Tuesday November 9th: Come to 14th and Broadway in downtown Oakland. Demonstrate to say: Mumia Is Innocent! Free Mumia! End the Racist Death Penalty! Called by the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, and supported by Campaign To End The Death Penalty, Mobilization To Free Mumia, Revolution Books of Berkeley, and Peoples Radio (partial list -- call to endorse). 510 763-2347.

BAY AREA -- SAN FRANCISCO: 7 PM on Tuesday November 9th: Come to Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St. The new film, JUSTICE ON TRIAL, the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, will be screened. Hans Bennett of Abu-Jamal News, and other speakers. Donation. Called by the Mobilization To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Info: 510 268-9429.

- This message is from:
The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal., 510 763-2347



View/Download the Flyer Here:

Stop The Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal!

--Emergency Protest Rally & Film Screening of "Justice On Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal"

Tuesday, November 9, 7:00 PM

Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia Street, San Francisco
(Between 15th and 16 Streets - near 16th St. BART)


Hans Bennett, Co-founder, Journalists for Mumia
Rebecca Doran, Committee to Free Kevin Cooper
Jeff Mackler, West Coast Coordinator, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Laura Herrera, Co-Coordinator, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Alicia Jrapko, International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five
Tom Lacey, State Committee, California Peace & Freedom Party
Cristina Gutierrez, Barrio Unido
Merle Woo, SF poet

$5 to $20 sliding scale. No one turned away for lack of funds. This is a benefit for Journalists for Mumia. For more information contact: The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, 510-268-9428,,

Wheelchair accessible. Labor donated.

November 9 Oral Arguments in Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, on Nov. 9, the US Third Circuit Court will hear oral arguments concerning whether or not Mumia will be executed without a new sentencing trial, as the District Attorney is seeking to do. The court ruling can be issued anytime after oral arguments. If the ruling is against Mumia, he could then be executed very quickly.
Mumia's lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan, says that Mumia is now "in the greatest danger since his 1981 arrest."

In 2001, US District Court Judge William Yohn somewhat overturned the death penalty (Mumia has never left death row) and ruled that if the DA still wants to execute, there must first be a new sentencing-phase jury trial where evidence of innocence can be presented, but the jury can only decide between execution or life in prison without parole. This 2001 ruling by Judge Yohn was affirmed by the US 3rd Circuit in 2008, but in January, 2010, the US Supreme Court vacated the ruling and sent the case back down to the 3rd Circuit for reconsideration.

"Justice on Trial" Film

The new film, "Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal," directed by Kouross Esmaeli and produced by Johanna Fernandez (co-coordinator of Educators for Mumia) premiered in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center on Sept. 21, the same day as the right-wing anti-Mumia film, called "The Barrel of a Gun."

"Barrel" ignores the frame-up nature of Mumia's trial and the "evidence" used to convict him. "Justice," in contrast, fairly presents the arguments made by Mumia's supporters alongside the prosecution's alleged shooting scenario and interviews with others advocating Mumia's execution. Justice's featured interviews include press photographer Pedro Polakoff (whose newly discovered crime scene photos expose police manipulation of evidence) and author J. Patrick O'Connor (whose 2008 book argues that the actual shooter of Officer Daniel Faulkner was a man named Kenneth Freeman). For more about the film,, and watch the trailer here:



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




The Spill
A joint investigation by FRONTLINE and ProPublica into the trail of problems -- deadly accidents, disastrous spills, countless safety violations -- which long troubled the oil giant, BP. Could the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico have been prevented?


Tag-Team Wrestling
"We have Learned who is For Real and who is Frontin'."
Glen Ford speaks in West Haven, CT just before the Oct. 2010 "One Nation Working Together" DC demo. See his scathing comments about the speakers from the main stage at the actual demo at


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


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!




Add you name! We stand with Bradley Manning.

"We stand for truth, for government transparency, and for an end to our tax-dollars funding endless occupation abroad... We stand with accused whistle-blower US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning."

Dear All,

The Bradley Manning Support Network and Courage to Resist are launching a new campaign, and we wanted to give you a chance to be among the first to add your name to this international effort. If you sign the letter online, we'll print out and mail two letters to Army officials on your behalf. With your permission, we may also use your name on the online petition and in upcoming media ads.

Read the complete public letter and add your name at:

Courage to Resist (
on behalf of the Bradley Manning Support Network (
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610


Committee to Stop FBI Repression
P.O. Box 14183
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Dear Friend,

On Friday, September 24th, the FBI raided homes in Chicago and Minneapolis, and turned the Anti-War Committee office upside down. We were shocked. Our response was strong however and we jumped into action holding emergency protests. When the FBI seized activists' personal computers, cell phones, and papers claiming they were investigating "material support for terrorism", they had no idea there would be such an outpouring of support from the anti-war movement across this country! Over 61 cities protested, with crowds of 500 in Minneapolis and Chicago. Activists distributed 12,000 leaflets at the One Nation Rally in Washington D.C. Supporters made thousands of calls to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. Solidarity statements from community organizations, unions, and other groups come in every day. By organizing against the attacks, the movement grows stronger.

At the same time, trusted lawyers stepped up to form a legal team and mount a defense. All fourteen activists signed letters refusing to testify. So Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox withdrew the subpoenas, but this is far from over. In fact, the repression is just starting. The FBI continues to question activists at their homes and work places. The U.S. government is trying to put people in jail for anti-war and international solidarity activism and there is no indication they are backing off. The U.S. Attorney has many options and a lot of power-he may re-issue subpoenas, attempt to force people to testify under threat of imprisonment, or make arrests.

To be successful in pushing back this attack, we need your donation. We need you to make substantial contributions like $1000, $500, and $200. We understand many of you are like us, and can only afford $50, $20, or $10, but we ask you to dig deep. The legal bills can easily run into the hundreds of thousands. We are all united to defend a movement for peace and justice that seeks friendship with people in other countries. These fourteen anti-war activists have done nothing wrong, yet their freedom is at stake.

It is essential that we defend our sisters and brothers who are facing FBI repression and the Grand Jury process. With each of your contributions, the movement grows stronger.

Please make a donation today at (PayPal) on the right side of your screen. Also you can write to:
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
P.O. Box 14183
Minneapolis, MN 55414

This is a critical time for us to stand together, defend free speech, and defend those who help to organize for peace and justice, both at home and abroad!

Thank you for your generosity! Tom Burke


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) A Grim Portrait of Civilian Deaths in Iraq
October 22, 2010

2) Detainees Fared Worse in Iraqi Hands, Logs Say
October 22, 2010

3) Cholera Outbreak Kills 150 in Haiti
October 22, 2010

4) More Than the Channel Divides Britain and France
October 22, 2010

5) French Senate Passes Pension Bill
October 22, 2010

6) Indonesia Confirms Soldiers Are Shown in Torture Video
October 22, 2010

7) France: Officers Facing Trial In Deaths of Youths That Led To 2005 Rioting
October 22, 2010

8) Want a Big Raise? Get a Wall St. Job
"The government reported this week that the real wage and salary income of finance industry employees based in Manhattan rose nearly 20 percent in the first quarter of this year."
October 22, 2010

9) Massive stretches of weathered oil spotted in Gulf of Mexico
Published: Saturday, October 23, 2010, 11:37 AM Updated: Monday, October 25, 2010, 11:29 AM
Bob Marshall, The Times-Picayune Bob Marshall, The Times-Picayune

10) At Cholera Epicenter in Haiti, Fear and Misery
October 25, 2010

11) Stories of Hope and Hardship of 'Los 33'
"Mr. Peña may have had another fear as well - that when the men's moment was over, they would find themselves forgotten and without work. He said as much, one day while surrounded by reporters. 'After all these interviews are over you can ask us what we're doing,' he said. 'We're going to be selling candy in the plaza.'"
October 24, 2010

12) Strikes Cost France Up to $562 Million Per Day
"The bill's passage through parliament has not deterred unions, which have already announced two new nationwide protests - for Thursday and Nov. 6."
October 25, 2010

13) Public Housing Repairs Can't Keep Pace With Need
October 24, 2010

14) Rich Mom, Poor Mom
October 25, 2010, 6:00 am

15) French Senate Passes Pension Bill
"Others said that the government should further tax the wealthy instead and warned, like Grégory Tobeilem, 33, a professor of history and a member of the C.G.T. union, that Mr. Sarkozy had 'already planned further attacks on the system, like for social security.' A goal of many protestors, he said, is 'to show that we're fed up with the fact that they want us to pay for the crisis of their system.'"
October 26, 2010

16) Ford Posts 6th Straight Profitable Quarter
October 26, 2010

17) Global extinction crisis looms, new study says
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 27, 2010; 12:28 AM

18) Antiwar Movement Outraged by New Wikileaks Revelations
For Immediate Release
October 25, 2010
For more information: Joe Lombardo, 518-227-6947,,

19) Protest Closes Cholera Treatment Center in Haiti
October 27, 2010

20) Leaked Reports Prompt Questions About Civilian Casualties
October 27, 2010, 1:46 pm

21) Assembly Again Urges U.S. to Lift Cuba Embargo
October 27, 2010

22) Arizona Executes Inmate After Supreme Court Clears Way
October 27, 2010

23) Power Failure Cut a Link to Missiles
October 26, 2010

24) Study Finds Street Stops by N.Y. Police Unjustified
October 26, 2010


1) A Grim Portrait of Civilian Deaths in Iraq
October 22, 2010

The reports in the archive disclosed by WikiLeaks offer an incomplete, yet startlingly graphic portrait of one of the most contentious issues in the Iraq war - how many Iraqi civilians have been killed and by whom.

The reports make it clear that most civilians, by far, were killed by other Iraqis. Two of the worst days of the war came on Aug. 31, 2005, when a stampede on a bridge in Baghdad killed more than 950 people after several earlier attacks panicked a huge crowd, and on Aug. 14, 2007, when truck bombs killed more than 500 people in a rural area near the border with Syria.

But it was systematic sectarian cleansing that drove the killing to its most frenzied point, making December 2006 the worst month of the war, according to the reports, with about 3,800 civilians killed, roughly equal to the past seven years of murders in New York City. A total of about 1,300 police officers, insurgents and coalition soldiers were also killed in that month.

The documents also reveal many previously unreported instances in which American soldiers killed civilians - at checkpoints, from helicopters, in operations. Such killings are a central reason Iraqis turned against the American presence in their country, a situation that is now being repeated in Afghanistan.

The archive contains reports on at least four cases of lethal shootings from helicopters. In the bloodiest, on July 16, 2007, as many as 26 Iraqis were killed, about half of them civilians. However, the tally was called in by two different people, and it is possible that the deaths were counted twice. Read the Document »

In another case, in February 2007, an Apache helicopter shot and killed two Iraqi men believed to have been firing mortars, even though they made surrendering motions, because, according to a military lawyer cited in the report, "they cannot surrender to aircraft, and are still valid targets." Read the Document »

The shooting was unusual. In at least three other instances reported in the archive, Iraqis surrendered to helicopter crews without being shot. The Pentagon did not respond to questions from The Times about the rules of engagement for the helicopter strike.

The pace of civilian deaths served as a kind of pulse, whose steady beat told of the success, or failure, of America's war effort. Americans on both sides of the war debate argued bitterly over facts that grew hazier as the war deepened.

The archive does not put that argument to rest by giving a precise count. As a 2008 report to Congress on the topic makes clear, the figures serve as "guideposts,' not hard totals. But it does seem to suggest numbers that are roughly in line with those compiled by several sources, including Iraq Body Count, an organization that tracked civilian deaths using press reports, a method the Bush administration repeatedly derided as unreliable and producing inflated numbers. In all, the five-year archive lists more than 100,000 dead from 2004 to 2009, though some deaths are reported more than once, and some reports have inconsistent casualty figures. A 2008 Congressional report warned that record keeping in the war had been so problematic that such statistics should be looked at only as "guideposts."

In a statement on Friday, Iraq Body Count, which did a preliminary analysis of the archive, estimated that it listed 15,000 deaths that had not been previously disclosed anywhere.

The archive tells thousands of individual stories of loss whose consequences are still being felt in Iraqi families today.

Misunderstandings at checkpoints were often lethal. At one Marine checkpoint, sunlight glinting off a windshield of a car that did not slow down led to the shooting death of a mother and the wounding of three of her daughters and her husband. Hand signals flashed to stop vehicles were often not understood, and soldiers and Marines, who without interpreters were unable to speak to the survivors, were left to wonder why. Read the Document »

According to one particularly painful entry from 2006, an Iraqi wearing a tracksuit was killed by an American sniper who later discovered that the victim was the platoon's interpreter. Read the Document »

The archive's data is incomplete. The documents were compiled with an emphasis on speed rather than accuracy; the goal was to spread information as quickly as possible among units. American soldiers did not respond to every incident.

And even when Americans were at the center of the action, as in the western city of Falluja in 2004, none of the Iraqis they killed were categorized as civilians. In the early years of the war, the Pentagon maintained that it did not track Iraqi civilian deaths, but it began releasing rough counts in 2005, after members of Congress demanded a more detailed accounting on the state of the war. In one instance in 2008, the Pentagon used reports similar to the newly released documents to tabulate the war dead.

This month, The Associated Press reported that the Pentagon in July had quietly posted its fullest tally of the death toll of Iraqi civilians and security forces ever, numbers that were first requested in 2005 through the Freedom of Information Act. It was not clear why the total - 76,939 Iraqi civilians and members of the security forces killed between January 2004 and August 2008 - was significantly less than the sum of the archive's death count.

The archive does not have a category for the main causes of Iraqi deaths inflicted by Americans. Compared with the situation in Afghanistan, in Iraq aerial bombings seemed to be less frequently a cause of civilian deaths, after the initial invasion. The reports were only as good as the soldiers calling them in. One of the most infamous episodes of killings by American soldiers, the shootings of at least 15 Iraqi civilians, including women and children in the western city of Haditha, is misrepresented in the archives. The report stated that the civilians were killed by militants in a bomb attack, the same false version of the episode that was given to the news media.

Civilians have borne the brunt of modern warfare, with 10 civilians dying for every soldier in wars fought since the mid-20th century, compared with 9 soldiers killed for every civilian in World War I, according to a 2001 study by the International Committee of the Red Cross.


2) Detainees Fared Worse in Iraqi Hands, Logs Say
October 22, 2010

The public image of detainees in Iraq was defined by the photographs, now infamous, of American abuse at Abu Ghraib, like the hooded prisoner and the snarling attack dog. While the documents disclosed by WikiLeaks offer few glimpses of what was happening inside American detention facilities, they do contain indelible details of abuse carried out by Iraq's army and police.

The six years of reports include references to the deaths of at least six prisoners in Iraqi custody, most of them in recent years. Beatings, burnings and lashings surfaced in hundreds of reports, giving the impression that such treatment was not an exception. In one case, Americans suspected Iraqi Army officers of cutting off a detainee's fingers and burning him with acid. Two other cases produced accounts of the executions of bound detainees.

And while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored, with the equivalent of an institutional shrug: soldiers told their officers and asked the Iraqis to investigate.

A Pentagon spokesman said American policy on detainee abuse "is and has always been consistent with law and customary international practice." Current rules, he said, require forces to immediately report abuse; if it was perpetrated by Iraqis, then Iraqi authorities are responsible for investigating.

That policy was made official in a report dated May 16, 2005, saying that if "if US forces were not involved in the detainee abuse, no further investigation will be conducted until directed by HHQ." In many cases, the order appeared to allow American soldiers to turn a blind eye to abuse of Iraqis on Iraqis.

Even when Americans found abuse and reported it, Iraqis often did not act. One report said a police chief refused to file charges "as long as the abuse produced no marks." Another police chief told military inspectors that his officers engaged in abuse "and supported it as a method of conducting investigations."

It is a frightening portrait of violence by any standards, but particularly disturbing because Iraq's army and police are central to President Obama's plan to draw down American troops in Iraq. Iraqi forces are already the backbone of security in Iraq, now that American combat troops are officially gone, and are also in charge of running its prisons.

The archive contains extensive, often rambling accounts of American abuse from Iraqi prisoners, but few were substantiated. The most serious came during arrests, which were often violent when people resisted. In those cases, investigations were opened. In a case reminiscent of Abu Ghraib, in which guards photographed themselves with Iraqis whom they had posed in humiliating positions, a soldier was censured for writing a mocking slur with a marker on the forehead of a crying detainee.

The United States took steps to improve its detention system after the scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison erupted in 2004, tightening rules governing the treatment of prisoners and separating the hardened radicals of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia from other prisoners.

But the documents show that Americans did sometimes use the threat of abuse by Iraqi authorities to get information out of prisoners. One report said an American threatened to send a detainee to the notorious Wolf Brigade, a particularly violent Iraqi police unit, if he did not supply information.

Some of the worst examples of Iraqi abuse came later in the war. In August 2009, an Iraqi police commando unit reported that a detainee committed suicide in its custody, but an autopsy conducted in the presence of an American "found bruises and burns on the detainee's body as well as visible injuries to the head, arm, torso, legs, and neck." The report stated that the police "have reportedly begun an investigation."

Then in December, 12 Iraqi soldiers, including an intelligence officer, were caught on video in Tal Afar shooting to death a prisoner whose hands were tied. The document on the episode says that the reporting is preliminary; it is unclear whether there was a follow-up.

Years of abuse under Saddam Hussein produced an exceptionally violent society. Iraqis used cables, metal rods, wooden poles and live electrical wires to hurt prisoners. One report on a detainee cited "bruises in a roughly boot shape from upper to lower back." In another, a detainee is said to have bruises from beatings with a board. Another detainee suffered blurred vision, bleeding in his ears and nose, bruises on his back, arms and legs and hemorrhaging in his eyes. Americans told the local Iraqi Army commander but did not open an inquiry because no American was involved.

American soldiers, however, often intervened. During a visit to a police unit in Ramadi, an American soldier entered a cell after hearing screams and found two badly dehydrated detainees with bruises on their bodies. He had them transferred out of Iraqi custody.

In August 2006, an American sergeant in Ramadi heard whipping noises in a military police station and walked in on an Iraqi lieutenant using an electrical cable to slash the bottom of a detainee's feet. The American stopped him, but later he found the same Iraqi officer whipping a detainee's back.Read the Document »

One beaten detainee said in 2005 that "when the Marines finally took him, he was treated very well, and he was thankful and happy to see them." Read the Document »

Early on, space for detainees was limited, and Iraqis would stuff them into makeshift jails, increasing the chances for abuse. In November 2005, American soldiers found 95 blindfolded detainees with sores and broken bones crammed into a police internment center. Read the Document »


3) Cholera Outbreak Kills 150 in Haiti
October 22, 2010

A cholera outbreak in a rural area of northwestern Haiti has killed more than 150 people and overwhelmed local hospitals with thousands of the sick, the World Health Organization said Friday, increasing long-held fears of an epidemic that could spread to the encampments sheltering more than a million Haitians displaced by the January earthquake.

Even as relief organizations rushed doctors, medical supplies and clean-water equipment toward the epicenter of the outbreak - the Artibonite Valley, a rice-producing area about three hours north of the capital, Port-au-Prince - Haitian radio reported cases surfacing elsewhere.

As the World Health Organization warned that it was probably impossible to contain the disease near the Artibonite, relief agencies began preparing the urban camps they oversee for the germ's arrival.

While normally less crowded than the cities, the Artibonite is now host to thousands of earthquake refugees. Many are crowding in with relatives and drinking from the local St. Marc River, into which raw sewage also flows. The area is prone to flooding in the rainy season, which is now in progress.

Television pictures showed hospital corridors and parking lots filled with victims lying on the ground, getting intravenous fluids as crowds of screaming relatives were kept outside.

Operation Blessing International, a relief agency, said Friday that one of its filter trucks capable of cleaning 10,000 gallons of water daily had reached Babou La Port, the small town where the first cases appear to have occurred.

"A sea of multicolored buckets surrounded us" as people gathered to get clean water, the agency quoted its disaster relief director, David Darg, as saying. "There were no cheers and little laughter; most of the villagers were stunned, afraid and weak."

The hospital in St.-Marc was "a horror scene," Mr. Darg wrote on a CNN blog, describing people lying in courtyards on sheets soaked with rain and feces, children writhing in agony and adults lying motionless, their eyes rolled back as nurses searched for veins.

Because Haiti is so crowded and its people so mobile, said Dr. Michel Thieren, senior program officer in Haiti for the Pan American Health Organization, the outbreak will almost inevitably spread. The best hope for minimizing casualties will be a campaign to tell people to drink only treated water and to wash their hands after using the toilet, coupled with bigger efforts to get fresh water and clean latrines to everyone.

"Transmission is intense, and the case fatality rate is about 10 percent, which is high," he added.

The one positive note, said Dr. Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer for Partners in Health, a Boston-based charity that has worked in Haiti for 20 years, is that the earthquake left the country dotted with relief agencies that "have already shown their chops in providing clean water."

For example, the 56 Port-au-Prince refugee camps to which the Christian charity World Vision provides water all get their water trucked in from the mountains, after which it is pumped into tanks and chlorinated, said Sabrina Pourmand Nolen, the charity's program director for Haiti.

World Vision will double-check the chlorine levels, set up hand-washing basins with soap near all latrines and empty the latrines more often, she said.

Relief agencies had long feared outbreaks of diarrhea, but the appearance of cholera - which dehydrates and kills victims very rapidly - was a shock.

Like the rest of the Caribbean, Haiti has not seen Vibrio cholerae, the bacteria that causes cholera, for 50 years.

Since it first appeared in India in 1816, cholera has circled the globe in waves, carried from one drinking source to another in human intestines. It killed tens of millions of people during the 19th century, and the globe is now experiencing what is considered the seventh pandemic. A strain similar to the one in Haiti emerged in South America in 1991, apparently after a ship emptied its bilge tanks.

Victims can lose as much as 10 quarts of water a day through diarrhea and vomiting. They die when their electrolytes are so depleted that their hearts stop.

Doctors fight cholera by rehydrating victims orally with water containing salts and sugars or, in severe cases, intravenously. Antibiotics may shorten attacks and reduce the spread.

Besides the Artibonite, cases were found on La Gonâve island and in Arcahaie, only 16 miles from the capital. A California-based aid group, International Medical Corps, said it had reports of cases in Croix des Bouquets, just northeast of Port-au-Prince, but could not confirm them.

Once cholera colonizes an area, the bacteria can persist for years, causing outbreaks in rainy seasons, for unknown reasons. Temperature and salinity may be factors, but a team at Harvard Medical School believes a phage - a viral predator of bacteria - that keeps the bacteria in check becomes diluted by the rains but eventually surges to drive bacteria counts down again.

In Nigeria, where cholera has been endemic for several years, about 1,555 people have died of it since cases surged in August, the United Nations Children's Fund said Friday.

Deborah Sontag contributed reporting.


4) More Than the Channel Divides Britain and France
October 22, 2010

PARIS - If there is one quality that unites France and Britain, it is a shared history of mutual divergence, verging on derision.

And so it was instructive this past week to observe the responses on both sides of the Channel to Europe's economic malaise spreading like a dark fog occluding the future.

Faced with the prospect of a longer working life until a minimum retirement age of 62 (up from the current 60), a million French citizens took to the streets, as strikers closed refineries and blockaded fuel depots, leaving motorists to fume in line for gasoline and diesel.

But, confronting government measures promising not only a longer working life but 19 percent cuts in public spending, the loss of almost half a million public-sector jobs, steep reductions in welfare payments and five bleak years of austerity, the British barely seemed to blink.

That, of course, may change, as it did in the late 1970s when a previous generation of Britons struggled through the so-called winter of discontent. Strikes then were so widespread that garbage piled up outside homes, cemetery operators considered mass burials at sea (the gravediggers had downed shovels) and dark thoughts gathered in British hearts.

But since those days, a legacy of labor unions weakened by the Conservative Margaret Thatcher has dampened the appetite for the collective struggle still cherished in France.

"French people tend to like to demonstrate," the French finance minister, Christine Lagarde, said when asked to compare French and British national reflexes.

Taking to the streets, some argue, is a rite of passage for the young and, for the older, a right at the heart of the French way of democracy since the toppling of the aristocracy in 1789.

"What's at stake here is not the retirement age, or jobs for students, but the very nature of power in this country," said Lucy Wadham, a British novelist and blogger living in France.

But that is not to say that the latest unrest is hewn from the same political flagstones as the revolutionary barricades of 1968 that defined an era: It is a cents-and-euros struggle to avert the inevitable moment when decades of cumulative benefits - from short work weeks to long vacations, from state health care to early retirement - begin to unravel.

As la retraite - retirement - so the nation.

"France's problem is that, for too long, the economy has been run as a kind of job club for French workers," said an editorial in The Spectator, a conservative British magazine. "Britain and France believe in liberty, but have different definitions of it."

While the British believe in "liberty from government," the editorial said, the French "still like the big state and squeal at the prospect of being removed from its teat."

The French also pay higher club dues and expect commensurate rewards. French pensions can reach three-quarters of a working wage, compared with just over two-fifths in Britain. So, if French workers and teenagers strike over their pensions, there's plenty to protest about.

The British do, of course, demonstrate. Protests spilling to violence changed the national course most notably in riots against Mrs. Thatcher's poll tax in 1990. In 2000, truckers' protests starved the entire country of fuel.

People turned out in huge numbers - and in vain - to protest the war in Iraq in 2003, when Tony Blair dispatched more than 40,000 Britons to fight alongside the Americans. Demonstrators confronted the police to rail against globalization at the Group of 20 summit meeting in London in 2009.

But the legacy is defined more by the weakening of protest than its vindication.

"There is growing bitterness and anger in England," said Tariq Ali, once a firebrand on the barricades, in a posting on the Web site of The Guardian, a British newspaper. "The French epidemic could spread, but nothing will happen from above. Young and old fought Thatcher and lost. Her New Labour successors made sure that the defeats she inflicted were institutionalized."

There may be a sense, too, that, as old Labourites like to insist, the Conservatives are up to old tricks to benefit the rich and trample the poor, to divide and rule.

Those imposing the cuts are largely from the private schools and top universities that have traditionally been the wellspring of the elite, cushioned by privately funded health care, schools, stock portfolios and pensions. Those feeling the pain, many economists argue, are those with the least access to privilege.

"We have seen people cheering the deepest cuts to public spending in living memory," Alan Johnson, the opposition Labour finance spokesman, declared across the floor of Parliament. "For some members opposite, this is their ideological objective. Not all of them, but for many of them, this is what they came into politics for."

If Britain falls prey to protest, there will be sharper overtones of class struggle than solidarity. Britain is a more divided society than France. Wealth is more ostentatious, poverty more visible. People in Britain have learned to have sharper elbows in pursuit of individual gain, while France prides itself on a broader concordat.

"Social confrontation is part of our democracy," said Prime Minister François Fillon, "but social consensus is, as well."

Of course, there is an inherent stoicism in Britain, woven into the Second World War spirit of bulldog resolve in the face of hardship. When suicide bombers attacked London in July 2005, killing 52 people, the response was not rage but quiet resolve.

"The British no longer do strikes, and certainly do not take to the streets in the same way as our confreres on the Continent. Or is that about to change?" the columnist Mehdi Hasan wrote in the leftist New Statesman. "We are now a nation divided. The ax has fallen. The bloodletting has begun."

And, of course, a winter is approaching - if not of discontent, then certainly of cold comfort and complaint.


5) French Senate Passes Pension Bill
October 22, 2010

PARIS - After nearly three weeks of debate and a series of national strikes, the French Senate voted Friday evening to pass President Nicolas Sarkozy's bill to raise the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 and the age for a full pension to 67 from 65.

The vote, 177 to 153, all but seals passage of the measure. The lower house, the National Assembly, has already passed a version of the bill. A committee from both houses will meet Monday morning to agree upon a final text that each house will vote on next week. By Wednesday, if all goes according to plan, the change will be law, despite the unions' vow to hold two more days of national protest next Thursday, and again on Nov. 6.

"The day will come when former opponents will thank the president and the government" for "acting responsibly," said the labor minister, Éric Woerth, just before the Senate voted.

The debate was accelerated under a special constitutional rule with more than 230 of 1,000 amendments still to discuss. The rule allowed the government to draft a text that adopted whatever amendments it favored and force a single vote on the bill, stopping a delaying process by the opposition that required a vote on every amendment.

The vote is a victory for Mr. Sarkozy, who has vowed to stick with the pension changes despite the protests in the streets and the blockage by unions of refineries and fuel depots, which have left many French drivers without gasoline. Mr. Sarkozy is hoping that by the time presidential elections roll around in 2012, the French will remember his refusal to give way to street protests in order to pass a bill that the government argues is vital to preserve the financial health of the pension system.

The French system relies on workers paying each year for the costs of those who have retired, and even under this new law the pension system will go into deficit again by 2018. The changes would be phased in beginning July 1.

Earlier on Friday, security forces scuffled with strikers to break a blockade of a major refinery near Paris. The Grandpuits refinery, 35 miles east of Paris, 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.

"What happened today is totally unacceptable," Charles Foulard, a labor union official, told reporters at the Grandpuits refinery. 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, Jean-Louis Borloo, the environment minister, said 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, which had been cut by half earlier in the week.

Richard Berry contributed reporting.


6) Indonesia Confirms Soldiers Are Shown in Torture Video
October 22, 2010

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesia confirmed Friday that those seen torturing suspected separatists in a video posted online were government soldiers.

In a short video, men tied in contorted positions are held down on the ground and questioned. At one point, one man's genitals are burned. Another answers questions while a knife blade is jammed under his nose and occasionally dragged across his face and neck. The torturers' faces cannot be seen, but a uniform is sometimes visible.

The senior security minister, Djoko Suyanto, said Friday that the abusers were, in fact, soldiers and that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had ordered an investigation. The victims were thought to be from the restive eastern province of Papua.

"A comprehensive investigation of the unprofessional behavior is under way," Mr. Suyanto told reporters after a cabinet meeting to discuss the video, which was posted online and drew condemnation from newspapers, legislators and rights groups.

Mr. Suyanto said proper action would be taken against any soldiers involved in torture in accordance with military regulations.

According to Human Rights Watch, the advocacy group based in New York, a metadata analysis indicated that the video was filmed on a cellphone camera on May 30.

The video was posted on the Web site of the Asian Human Rights Commission, which is based in Hong Kong.

Indonesia took over Papua from the Dutch in 1963 and formalized its sovereignty six years later through a stage-managed vote by about 1,000 community leaders.

Human rights groups say more than 100,000 people - a fifth of the impoverished province's population - have died as a result of military action.


7) France: Officers Facing Trial In Deaths of Youths That Led To 2005 Rioting
October 22, 2010

Two French police officers will stand trial on charges of failing to save two youths whose 2005 deaths in a Paris suburb led to weeks of riots around the country, lawyers said Friday. The two youths, Bouna Traore, 15, and Zyed Benna, 17, were electrocuted while hiding from police in a power substation in Clichy-sous-Bois on Oct. 27, 2005. Local youths blamed the police for the deaths and exploded in anger, setting cars ablaze, smashing store windows and tapping frustration among largely minority youths in projects throughout France, where fiery unrest raged for three weeks in housing projects. Tensions between youths and the police still plague such neighborhoods. The regional prosecutor sought to drop the charges, saying evidence did not show that the officers knew the teenagers were in the power station. Investigating judges sent the case to trial.


8) Want a Big Raise? Get a Wall St. Job
"The government reported this week that the real wage and salary income of finance industry employees based in Manhattan rose nearly 20 percent in the first quarter of this year."
October 22, 2010

WALL Street incomes are surging back.

The government reported this week that the real wage and salary income of finance industry employees based in Manhattan rose nearly 20 percent in the first quarter of this year. That surge helped make Manhattan the fastest-growing county in the United States in terms of terms of year-over-year gains in income.

Most Wall Street firms pay bonuses in the first quarter of each year, and the figures indicate that bonuses were much higher this year than in the same quarter of 2009. Then, of course, the financial crisis was at its most severe, with stock prices at 12-year lows and major banks being bailed out. It was not a good time to be paying bonuses.

The figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are based on unemployment compensation insurance premiums paid, and thus reflect virtually all employees rather than relying on surveys of workers or employers. Unfortunately, to get such detail requires substantial delays, which is why first-quarter figures are only now coming out.

As can be seen in the accompanying graphic, the average financial industry employee earned just over $100,000 in the first three months of the year, a figure that was up sharply from the same period of 2009 but still below the payouts in the previous three years.

The fact that those averages include bank tellers and trading desk clerks, as well as senior investment bankers, shows just how large many of the bonuses were.

From 1990 - the first year for which figures are available - through 2007, the average financial salary in Manhattan rose almost 7 percent a year, after adjusting for inflation. In 2007, total financial industry pay in Manhattan topped $100 billion for the first time. But the average fell by nearly a quarter by 2009.

New York, unlike other cities, includes five counties, and the data includes only Manhattan, known formally as New York County. The figures cover people who work in the county, regardless of where they live.

New York remains the financial capital of the country. Manhattan has more financial workers than any other county, and those workers have a higher average income than similar workers in any other county.

In the first quarter, only 4.6 percent of the finance workers in the country worked in Manhattan. But they received 14.7 percent of the income paid to all finance workers - giving the average Manhattan worker income about three times as large as the overall figure.

Among counties with at least 20,000 financial industry workers, three of the next five counties with the highest average financial pay in the quarter were in the New York region - Fairfield County, Conn.; Hudson County, N.J.; and Westchester County, N.Y. The others were San Francisco County and Suffolk County (Boston), Mass.

Floyd Norris comments on finance and economics on his blog at


9) Massive stretches of weathered oil spotted in Gulf of Mexico
Published: Saturday, October 23, 2010, 11:37 AM Updated: Monday, October 25, 2010, 11:29 AM
Bob Marshall, The Times-Picayune Bob Marshall, The Times-Picayune

Update: Coast Guard says what looks like oil is algae. Read more
Oil Slick in Gulf of Mexico Enlarge Matthew Hinton, The Times-Picayune MATTHEW HINTON / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Oil was spotted in West Bay just west of the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River, seen at top left, by the Gulf of Mexico Friday October 22, 2010. Oil Slick in West Bay gallery (9 photos)

Just three days after the U.S. Coast Guard admiral in charge of the BP oil spill cleanup declared little recoverable surface oil remained in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fishers Friday found miles-long strings of weathered oil floating toward fragile marshes on the Mississippi River delta.

The discovery, which comes as millions of birds begin moving toward the region in the fall migration, gave ammunition to groups that have insisted the government has overstated clean-up progress, and could force reclosure of key fishing areas only recently reopened.

The oil was sighted in West Bay, which covers approximately 35 square miles of open water between Southwest Pass, the main shipping channel of the river, and Tiger Pass near Venice. Boat captains working the BP clean-up effort said they have been reporting large areas of surface oil off the delta for more than a week but have seen little response from BP or the Coast Guard, which is in charge of the clean-up. The captains said most of their sightings have occurred during stretches of calm weather, similar to what the area has experienced most of this week.

On Friday reports included accounts of strips of the heavily weathered orange oil that became a signature image of the spill during the summer. One captain said some strips were as much as 400 feet wide and a mile long.

The captains did not want to be named for fear of losing their clean-up jobs with BP.

Coast Guard officials Friday said a boat had been dispatched to investigate the sightings, but that a report would not be available until Saturday morning.

However, Times-Picayune photojournalist Matt Hinton confirmed the sightings in an over-flight of West Bay.

Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said if the sightings are confirmed by his agency, the area will be reclosed to fishing until it is confirmed oil-free again.

Just Tuesday, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, in charge of the federal response, and his top science adviser, Steve Lehmann, said that little of the 210 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf remained on the surface or even on the Gulf's floor. Lehmann pointed to extensive tests conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that included taking samples of water from various depths, as well as collections of bottom sediments both far offshore and close to the coast.

Those claims, announced on the six-month anniversary of the spill, brought quick rebuttals from a variety of environmental and fishermen's groups who insist their members have been reporting sightings of surface oil all along.

LSU environmental sciences professor Ed Overton, who has been involved in oil spill response for 30 years, said he believes both claims could be accurate. The Louisiana sweet crude from the Deepwater Horizon is very light and has almost neutral buoyancy, Overton said, which means that when it picks up any particles from the water column, it will sink to the bottom.

"It's quite possible that when the weather calms and the water temperatures changes, the oil particles that have spread along the bottom will recoagulate, then float to the surface again and form these large mats.

"I say this is a possibility, because I know that the (Coast Guard) has sent boats out to investigate these reports, but by the time they get to the scenes, the weather has changed and they don't see any oil."

"I think the reports are credible, but I also think the incident responders are trying to find the oil, too,'' Overton said. "This is unusual, but nothing about this bloody spill has been normal since the beginning."

Overton said it is important for the state to discover the mechanism that is causing the oil to reappear because even this highly weathered oil poses a serious threat to the coastal ecology.

"If this was tar balls floating around, that would be one thing, but these reports are of mats of weathered oil, and that can cause serious problems if it gets into the marsh," he said

The reports are a great concern to wildlife officials. The Mississippi delta is a primary wintering ground for hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese, some of which already have begun arriving. The West Bay area leads into several shallower interior bays that attract ducks, geese and myriad species of shore and wading birds each winter.

Earlier this month state wildlife officials were expressing optimism the spill would have minimal impact on most waterfowl visitors because little oil had penetrated the sensitive wintering grounds.

(c) 2010 All rights reserved.


10) At Cholera Epicenter in Haiti, Fear and Misery
October 25, 2010

ST. MARC, Haiti - Here at the epicenter of the cholera epidemic, about 60 miles north of the capital, scores of children and adults are doubled over in a hospital courtyard, stretched out on benches or cots, racked by convulsive stomach disorder or limp with dehydration. They have buckets by their sides and intravenous solutions dripping into their arms.

On Monday, Martila Joseph sat on one of the benches, tears cascading down her face as she held her all-too-still 4-year-old daughter in her arms. "I don't know if my kid will survive," she moaned.

The cholera outbreak, with 259 deaths and more than 3,300 confirmed cases counted as of Monday morning, has so far been contained to the region around the epicenter - the central rural areas around the Artibonite River.

But the capital, Port-au-Prince, is tensely preparing for its arrival in the densely populated slums and tent camps of earthquake survivors. Treatment centers are being established, soap and water purification tablets being distributed and public safety announcements stressing hygiene.

"It travels with the speed of lightning, I've heard, and it can kill a person in four hours," said Jean Michel Maximilien, a camp leader, on Sunday. "So of course we are all on edge."

The Haitian government reported optimistically on Monday that the epidemic might be leveling off.

"The situation is beginning to stabilize," Gabriel Thimothee, director-general of the Health Ministry, said at a news conference. "Since yesterday we have registered only six new deaths."

Officials emphasized that no new cases have originated in the capital, according to Associated Press. But health experts cautioned that the danger remained high. Daniel Epstein, a spokesman for the Pan American Health Organization, said Monday that in 75 percent of cholera cases, the carriers are asymptomatic. That would mean that the number of people who have the microbe - and could spread it - may be closer to 12,000.

Since the January earthquake, this devastated country has been bracing for a secondary disaster - a hurricane, an eruption of violence, an outbreak of disease. But nobody anticipated that cholera would make its first appearance in 50 years. It was "the one thing we thought we were relatively safe on," said Imogen Wall, spokeswoman for the United Nations humanitarian coordination office.

The catalyst for the outbreak is still unknown. "That's the who-dunnit, the mystery," Petra Becker, a social worker for Doctors Without Borders, said Sunday after washing her hands with a chlorinated solution at the entrance to a fenced-off treatment area for suspected cholera cases at her organization's field hospital here.

As of Sunday, five cases of cholera had been confirmed in Port-au-Prince, but all were individuals who traveled from the Artibonite valley, according to Dr. Michel Thieren of the Pan American Health Organization. Still, five other patients at the Doctors Without Borders hospital were exhibiting symptoms - intense, precipitous diarrhea and vomiting - and are being isolated, tested and treated for the disease.

In a cordoned area with space for 20 patients, the five lay inside tents on beds with triangular holes cut in the heart of the mattress, and a bucket beneath the hole. There were two adults and three children, a few of them hooked up to intravenous drips. One chubby little girl, Neftali Firmin, 5, lay listlessly beside her very nervous mother.

The mother said they lived in the capital city and had not visited the Artibonite valley. Wringing her hands, she said that her daughter grew violently sick to her stomach without warning. Neftali had been given rehydration fluids, but her mother wanted the hospital to give her medicine.

"When are they going to give her the cure for cholera?" the mother asked visitors.

Cholera is an acute bacterial infection that rapidly and dangerously dehydrates the body. If left untreated, it can kill some victims within hours. But the treatment itself is straightforward. Some patients rally after getting a simple solution of clean water mixed with sugar and salt, like what Neftali received. Others require intravenous hydration, and are administered antibiotics.

In a sign of the anxiety in this city, residents of the tent camp that surrounds the Doctors Without Borders hospital displayed their discomfort on Sunday with the creation of the new clinic in their midst. For several hours, they blocked access by placing rocks and ropes on an entry road.

"We're really concerned," Bernard Alcinor, a camp resident, said. "The disease is marching through the country, and we don't want it here."

But after negotiations, camp leaders relented for now and traffic began flowing again to what is still essentially a treatment center in waiting.

Although all are concerned about the crowded, unhygienic living conditions in the tent and tarp camps sheltering some 1.3 million displaced people, the slums are a potentially bigger problem as they do not have even the portable, cleanable latrines that many camps do.

Haitian authorities and international groups have been working to assure a more ample supply of chlorinated water, to clean and disinfect community latrines and to caution the public about hand washing, proper use of water and "defecation in open air."


11) Stories of Hope and Hardship of 'Los 33'
"Mr. Peña may have had another fear as well - that when the men's moment was over, they would find themselves forgotten and without work. He said as much, one day while surrounded by reporters. 'After all these interviews are over you can ask us what we're doing,' he said. 'We're going to be selling candy in the plaza.'"
October 24, 2010

COPIAPÓ, Chile - José Ojeda can barely sleep without the comfort of a miner nearby to confide in when dreams shake him awake. Omar Reygadas, a great-grandfather more used to comforting than being comforted, cries easily. And Edison Peña, the miner who kept himself grounded by running miles underground most days, was hospitalized last week for emotional distress.

It has been 12 days since viewers around the globe watched, captivated, as one by one the 33 miners trapped in the San José Mine near here were pulled from nearly half a mile beneath the Atacama Desert. While the world has begun to move on, the men left behind are just starting to grapple with the enormousness of what happened to them.

They have, so far, remained mostly true to one another and the promises they made to speak only on their own terms.

Some details of the men's ordeal have slowly slipped out, as many news organizations vied for their attention - flashing money or all-expense-paid trips to other countries to sit for interviews.

But the men have resisted breaking a pact they made to keep the most gripping details of their two months in captivity to themselves in the hopes that together they can secure book or movie deals, as well as build their best case for a lawsuit against the mine. They have held especially close what happened in the first 17 days after the gold and copper mine collapsed, the time before they knew rescuers were still searching for them.

In interviews over the past several days with The New York Times, four miners who agreed to speak without pay offered a view into the intense emotional struggles they faced underground, and now above.

Mr. Reygadas, 56 - the 17th miner to be rescued and one of the oldest to have been trapped - spoke the longest, for more than two hours.

He said he entered his first mine at 7, with his father, who was a miner. He does not scare easily; he survived two previous collapses at the San José Mine and narrowly escaped a third that killed another miner. But in the first days after the latest cave-in in August, he said, he cried, rolling over on his damp cardboard bed to face the wall so no one could see.

"I'm not embarrassed to say I cried, but I cried from helplessness," he said. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared too, but I knew how to keep it inside to avoid sparking fear in others."

Mr. Reygadas said he was loading his truck just before going to lunch on Aug. 5 when he felt what seemed like an explosion. The pressure from falling rock "almost blew out" his ears, he said. The next sound he heard was miners shouting. Another miner, Yonny Barrios, 50, said "his ears felt like they were being sucked from one side to the other."

The men began to search for their friends. It would take eight hours before they knew no one had died.

But whatever relief they felt was short-lived. Within hours, the men were faced with a fateful choice. There was a way out, through a ventilation shaft. But after discovering that the ladder there was too short, they knew all they could do was wait.

Two days later, a boulder rolled into the shaft, sealing it for good.

This is where the narrative goes silent. Like the three other miners interviewed - and those who have spoken to other media - Mr. Ojeda, a 24-year-veteran of the mines, refuses to go into great detail over what happened in the next two weeks, as men wilted in the heat and shrank, their tiny rations of tuna and crackers too meager to do much more than keep them alive.

The story picks up again on Day 17, when the rescuers' drill bit pierced the roof of their refuge, starting the clock for their eventual freeing.

After that, the men say, there were many more light moments, despite the uncertainties of an unprecedented rescue plan. One day Mario Sepúlveda, one of the group's most extroverted figures, donned a makeshift blonde wig and impersonated the millionaire philanthropist Leonardo Farkas offering to give the miners jobs, Mr. Reygadas said. (Mr. Farkas, in reality, gave each of the miners about $10,000.)

The men's stories also reveal the emotional confines they imposed on themselves. Any miner who got out of line had to stand in front of the other 32 and ask to be forgiven, Mr. Ojeda said.

The craving for sleep was a running theme.

It was hot, about 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and humid. The men tore the seats from their trucks for makeshift mattresses, but there were not enough to go around and some nights, Mr. Reygadas said, they simply had to sleep, shirtless in the heat, atop the rocks. Mr. Ojeda said he would often wake in the middle of the night and talk to the miner sleeping next to him until they could fall asleep again.

Another miner, Víctor Segovia, 48, wrote a letter to his family detailing a nightmare he had. In it, the men were trapped, but in an oven.

Some of the men focused on those waiting for them above. "Inside my heart, I thought of my family," said Carlos Mamani, 24, of Bolivia, the lone immigrant in the group. "I talked to God."

Psychologists treating the men through telephone and video links from the surface were worried enough about them that they began filtering virtually everything family members sent down a relief shaft. Cheery letters were all right; notes about troubles at home were not. Some letters were never delivered and others were edited, according to Mr. Ojeda, who called the actions "unjust."

After about two weeks, the miners demanded that the censorship stop, arguing they were not as vulnerable as they seemed.

But medical officials remained cautious. Psychologists selected the movies that the men watched on a cloth hung on a cave wall using a smart-phone-size video projector. They were allowed to view Mr. Bean and Jackie Chan movies, but not films about natural disasters or terror.

"We wanted them to relax and enjoy, not get into deep reflection," said Alberto Iturra, the lead psychologist dealing with the miners. Eventually, the psychologists stopped filtering what went down the hole, feeling the men were stable enough.

In the end, the psychologists could not prepare the men for everything. Not the shock of stepping from the isolation of their cocoonlike rescue craft into the worldwide media glare. Not the reporters who camped outside their hospitals and homes. And not the shock of leaving "los 33," as they called themselves, to return to their other lives.

Mr. Reygadas said he had grown so close to Franklin Lobos, a miner who had played professional soccer, that he jokingly called him "his old lady." If one was asleep, the other made sure he saved food for his friend when it arrived down the borehole.

One thing the men were ready for was the lust for their story. They learned that lesson firsthand, from a group of Uruguayans who had survived a 1972 airplane accident in the Andes, depicted in the 1993 movie "Alive." The group paid the miners a visit and chatted with them via the modified telephone, Mr. Reygadas said. He said they counseled the miners to "not give away too much," as they felt they had.

Since the rescue, some men have been drinking heavily, according to Dr. Iturra and some of the miners. And several have shown signs of emotional distress.

At a dinner in their honor on Tuesday, Mr. Peña, the runner, broke down when addressing reporters. Mr. Sepúlveda grabbed him firmly by the shoulders and neck and whispered something in his ear, but Mr. Peña refused to leave the stage.

"Thank you for believing we were alive," Mr. Peña said slowly, his voice cracking. "Thank you for believing we were alive."

He was hospitalized the next day. (He has since been released.)

Dr. Iturra, the psychologist, placed part of the blame on the array of post-rescue options Mr. Peña was offered, including an invitation to run a marathon in New York City.

"These things demand a lot of strength, and this is generating a lot of anguish," Dr. Iturra told a local radio station.

Mr. Peña may have had another fear as well - that when the men's moment was over, they would find themselves forgotten and without work. He said as much, one day while surrounded by reporters.

"After all these interviews are over you can ask us what we're doing," he said. "We're going to be selling candy in the plaza."

Aaron Nelsen and Pascale Bonnefoy contributed reporting.


12) Strikes Cost France Up to $562 Million Per Day
"The bill's passage through parliament has not deterred unions, which have already announced two new nationwide protests - for Thursday and Nov. 6."
October 25, 2010

PARIS - France's strikes are costing the national economy up to $562 million each day, the French finance minister said Monday, as workers continued to block ports, oil refineries and trash incineration plants to protest a government plan to raise the retirement age to 62.

France's 12 refineries remained shut down Monday after nearly two weeks of protests despite raids last week by riot police that forced some to open access to fuel stocks. At ports in Marseille and Le Havre, dozens of tankers are still anchored offshore, waiting to unload.

Nearly 10,000 tons of garbage have been piling up in southern Marseille and its suburbs, and a garbage incineration plant outside Paris was shut down by strikers who huddled around a campfire and barbecue grills outside.

With French life expectancy increasing and the country's debt soaring, French President Nicolas Sarkozy insists that the retirement age must be raised to save the pension system. Unions, meanwhile, see the option to retire at 60 as a cherished and hard-won right.

The Senate voted 177-153 on Friday to pass the change in the age at which workers qualify for pensions, following its approval in the lower house. On Monday, a group of lawmakers from the upper and lower houses were trying to agree on the definitive version of the bill so there can be a final vote by both chambers later this week.

The bill's passage through parliament has not deterred unions, which have already announced two new nationwide protests - for Thursday and Nov. 6.

The strikes have hit a wide swath of the economy and life in France and sporadically affected schools and post offices. A national train strike that started Oct. 12 has been tapering off, but oil refinery workers have been striking steadily for about two weeks.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said on Europe-1 radio that it was difficult to put a daily price tag on the strikes, but she estimated it between 200 million and 400 million euros per day. Beyond that, she said, the strikes are damaging France's image because foreign news stations were frequently playing clips of the French protests.

"The territory's attractiveness is put into question when you see images like that," she said.

The demonstrations against the change in retirement have brought millions into the streets, and polls have shown that a vast majority of French people support the strikers. Meanwhile, the conservative Sarkozy's popularity is plummeting.

A poll published in Sunday's Journal du Dimanche newspaper showed that only 29 percent of those surveyed were satisfied with Sarkozy's performance. It was the French leader's lowest rating since taking office in 2007.


13) Public Housing Repairs Can't Keep Pace With Need
October 24, 2010

Public housing is falling apart around the country, as federal money has been unable to keep up with the repair needs of buildings more than half a century old.

Over the last 15 years, 150,000 of the nation's public housing units have been lost, officials said, as agencies have sold or torn down decrepit properties. An additional 5,700 units are pending removal from federal public housing programs.

In New York City, which has a three-year backlog of repair requests, the effects can be seen in places like Aixa Torres's apartment on the Lower East Side.

The paint chips were the first to be dislodged, drifting like snowflakes from her kitchen ceiling. When water began dripping through the ceiling, forming a hole sometime this spring, she called her landlord, the city's public housing authority.

A maintenance worker showed up to take a look, and repairs were scheduled.

A plasterer would come to fix the hole in May 2011. A painter would come to cover up the plasterer's work in May 2012.

The drip has yet to be fixed.

The situation is no better in Newark, which has shuttered 600 units that it cannot afford to fix. The city was given federal approval to raze 1,004 more, but it cannot pay for the demolition.

In Washington, the District of Columbia Housing Authority has floated bonds, among other measures, to put $140 million into fixing up its developments, but it is still $200 million short of what the authority says it needs for repairs.

Baltimore's housing authority needs $860 million for crucial repairs, said the housing commissioner, Paul T. Graziano; it has demolished or shuttered 33 percent of its units since the 1990s and has another 600 "on the verge of failure," with falling cabinets, unhinged doors and aging electrical systems.

All told, the country's housing authorities still need $22 billion to $32 billion to rehabilitate their buildings, said David Lipsetz, a senior adviser in the Office of Public and Indian Housing with the Department of Housing and Urban Development - an average of $25,000 for each of the 1.175 million public housing units. But that figure is based on a 1998 study, he said; an updated report is in the works.

"The future does not look bright in a model that was built 70-plus years ago and is failing to keep these buildings in good shape," Mr. Lipsetz said.

A $4 billion federal stimulus infusion helped, but "with that capital backlog," he said, "they're never catching up."

In response, HUD has drafted legislation that would allow housing agencies to borrow public and private money, using their land and buildings as equity, to finance repairs. Money received annually from Congress would be used to repay the debt over time. Mr. Lipsetz said that based on other forms of subsidized housing programs the department runs, the risk of default was less than one-tenth of 1 percent.

The bill, yet to be formally introduced in Congress, stirred mixed reactions among housing authorities and advocates, many of whom feared the prospect of public housing falling into private hands.

"Across the country, some advocates are against any private lending," said Victor Bach, a senior housing policy analyst at the Community Service Society of New York. "On the other hand, a lot of advocates feel that this is the only way, given the way Washington works, to preserve our public housing resources. We're not going to get the capital appropriations needed from Congress."

But the proposed legislation, currently being reworked, met stiff opposition at a Congressional hearing in May.

"I agree we need more capital funding," said Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, chairman of the Financial Services Committee, which held the hearing. "But putting a private mortgage on public housing is not a good idea."

Meanwhile, tenants of New York's public housing say repair delays have never been worse, a belief borne out by figures from the New York City Housing Authority. It already has 106,000 unfulfilled work orders, 9,000 of which are scheduled for 2012 and an additional 300 already for 2013. The State Assembly's Committee on Housing is holding a public hearing on Tuesday focused on the maintenance delays.

Michael Kelly, the housing authority's general manager, said his agency simply could not keep up. A 2005 independent study found that the agency needed $7.5 billion to put its buildings in good condition. But the authority had only $1.5 billion for such needs.

As the federal government began reducing appropriations for public housing early in the last decade, the authority trimmed its staff, cutting 1,540 operations jobs from 2005 to 2009. Meanwhile, work orders for those very people - carpenters, painters and plasterers - began to soar, from 180,000 in 2005 to 250,000 this year, as of Sept. 24.

Mr. Kelly said the cutbacks had affected the authority's ability to respond to work orders "as quickly as we'd like to."

Tenant frustration has been steadily mounting, with some residents resorting to legal action in housing courts to force repairs to their apartments. Meanwhile, broader issues like poor plumbing and leaky roofs go unaddressed, in turn causing more damage.

Unpatched holes invite cockroaches and mice. Drips lead to collapsed ceilings.

Latoya Craig, 27, an administrative assistant who lives in Moore Houses, in the South Bronx, was recently told that the large hole in her bathroom ceiling would not be repaired until May. In the meantime, mold has started to bloom, causing her to worry about the health of her 6-year-old son.

"The only good thing is he can't reach it," she said.

Tenants have also complained about the way repairs are scheduled. Around the time the agency began cutting jobs, it introduced a computerized call center to streamline repair work. An automated voice answers in English, with repair requests eventually answered by a housing authority staff member. (Translators are available as needed, a staff member said, but tenants say many non-English callers often give up before that.)

Maintenance workers then make in-person assessments, and repairs are prioritized based on need. If there is no emergency, or if a skilled tradesman is required, the repair date is often years off.

Damaris Reyes, executive director of the tenant advocacy group Good Old Lower East Side, said she had heard from people who had had painters show up before plasterers to paint over holes that remain unfixed, and from tenants whose faulty kitchen sinks were ripped months before the replacement arrived. "Instead of multiple visits for one issue, they should address the issue collectively," Ms. Reyes said.

Mr. Kelly said the housing authority was seeking solutions, like diverting $7 million from unspent administration fees to the maintenance backlog. The agency may also seek to bring in volunteers, through nonprofit groups, he said, to help with painting and other minor repairs, and perhaps tap residents too - a Habitat for Humanity-type approach that would not cost a thing. Still, such measures would amount to drops in the bucket, given the billions in repairs the agency requires.

New York is unusual in that it has demolished very little of its public housing stock. Elsewhere in the country, notably in Atlanta and New Orleans, housing agencies have torn down decrepit buildings and instead given poor residents federally subsidized housing vouchers to use toward their rent.

But Will Fischer, a senior policy analyst who focuses on low-income housing at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research group, said vouchers could be harder for some populations to use successfully, especially the elderly, as not every landlord accepts them. He also found that in the long run, vouchers cost the government more money than preserving existing housing.

"The buildings are already there," Mr. Fischer said, "It's just a matter of renovation."


14) Rich Mom, Poor Mom
October 25, 2010, 6:00 am

Nancy Folbre is an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The Mama Grizzlies running for office this fall oppose increased government spending, including programs that could help parents balance paid employment with family work.

Perhaps increased economic inequality in the United States means that individuals running for office don't have a very clear understanding of the problems facing people in different circumstances than their own. In particular, they don't fully appreciate the difficulties many mothers face holding down difficult jobs while caring for young children.

You might assume that highly paid women suffer a bigger economic penalty than other women when they have a baby because, after all, they have more earnings to lose.

In a startling new look at the "motherhood penalty," however, two sociologists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Michelle J. Budig and Melissa J. Hodges, show that mothers with lower earnings suffer the biggest percentage loss in hourly wages.

Their analysis, based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, separates non-Hispanic white women into seven groups based on their earnings and follows them over time, examining what happens to their hourly wages after the birth of a child (the authors limited their analysis to this group of women because of "the complex differences in the shapes of the earnings distributions for African-American, Latina and non-Hispanic white women"). The study also examines the influence of factors such as family resources, marriage and timing of births.

The "motherhood penalty" itself is fast becoming old news (see "A Labor Market Punishing to Mothers" and other blog posts). But the new study is among the first to move beyond a calculation of average effects to examine differences among women from the bottom to the top of the earnings distribution. Professor Budig recently presented their results to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress in hearings on the gender pay gap for women in management (available on video here).

Highly paid women are more likely than women earning less to postpone child-rearing. Early commitment to their careers reduces the economic impact of becoming a mother. But highly paid women also derive significant advantages from greater resources. The ability to purchase reliable child-care services, for instance, makes it easier to maintain high levels of participation in paid employment.

Women with lower earnings are more likely to cycle in and out of jobs, forced to quit if child-care arrangements fall through or they experience a family health crisis. This employment instability tends to lower their hoursly wages and may also lead employers to be wary of hiring them.

One cruel aspect of policies in this country is that, as Professor Budig and Ms. Hodges put it, "high-earning childless women hold the most family-friendly jobs" - those with paid family leaves, sick days and vacation time.

Although mothers are underrepresented in the highest echelons, those that reach them derive substantial benefits from family-friendly policies. Indeed, Professor Budig and Ms. Hodges find a motherhood bonus among those in the top 5 percent of the earnings distribution, where having children goes along with increased earnings.

These "supermoms" are often in super jobs (and are able to hire super nannies). The other 95 percent of mothers pay a penalty that increases their economic vulnerability.

More universal family policies, such as early-childhood education, paid family leave, paid sick days and paid vacation time could help most working mothers substantially increase their earnings.

But the very divisions among mothers that Professor Budig and Ms. Hodges observe could help explain lack of political will to implement such policies.

We used to hear that low-income women were having children to get a free ride from public assistance. But mothers depend far more heavily on paychecks than on welfare checks, working long hours at low pay in order to finance their labor of love.

The strict restrictions on public assistance put into place in 1996 did not reduce birth rates, which remained steady at an average of slightly more than two children per woman.

The surge in unemployment over the last three years, however, has discouraged potential parents. Birth rates have declined sharply, reaching a hundred-year low.

We now see fewer new mothers, more old mothers, more poor mothers and more poor children.

Too bad more of the rich mothers currently running for office aren't more worried about these trends.


15) French Senate Passes Pension Bill
"Others said that the government should further tax the wealthy instead and warned, like Grégory Tobeilem, 33, a professor of history and a member of the C.G.T. union, that Mr. Sarkozy had 'already planned further attacks on the system, like for social security.' A goal of many protestors, he said, is 'to show that we're fed up with the fact that they want us to pay for the crisis of their system.'"
October 26, 2010

PARIS - As hundreds of students demonstrated outside, the French Senate passed the final draft of a bill on Tuesday that raises the minimum age for pension by a vote of 177 to 151.

The final bill, in a text now agreed to by both houses of Parliament, is expected to be passed Wednesday by the National Assembly, where President Nicolas Sarkozy has a clear majority. After examination by the Constitutional Council, the bill is expected to become law in mid-November, and go into effect gradually beginning in July of next year, bringing the age for a minimum pension to 62 from 60 and for a full pension to 67 from 65.

The bill has various exceptions for manual laborers and women who take successive maternity leaves, and it includes a promise of a new debate on a more comprehensive review of the French pension system sometime in 2013, after the next presidential elections.

More important for the government, the union stranglehold on refineries and fuel depots began to weaken, with more gasoline available for filling stations. Walkouts at several oil refineries ended Tuesday morning, with four of France's 12 refineries now functioning. Strikes at major ports, like Marseille, still prevented crude oil from reaching some refineries. France continued to import fuel at four times the usual rate to help supply gasoline stations.

Train services were nearly normal, and garbage collectors in Marseille returned to work after a two-week strike facing at least 10,000 tons of malodorous refuse.

The unions have called another national strike for Thursday and another for Nov. 6. But at this point the government apparently feels it can wait out the demonstrations, which appear to be softening and may soften further after the National Assembly casts its final vote.

Despite a weeklong school break that some analysts thought would siphon students off from protests, about 1,000 turned out to demonstrate in front of the 17th century Senate building. Carrying banners that read, "Sarko, you know where to stick your reform," and "No, no to your bogus reform, yes yes to revolution," some said that the pension protest was an important moment of politicization for their generation.

Sophie Frebillot, 19, a philosophy student, said that student assemblies over the past few weeks were "increasingly being fed by an outcry that's growing more and more generalized," and then cited "tons of problems in society in general, and this movement against the pension reforms allows us to express that discontent, too."

She said she would continue to protest, citing a previous government's bow to student pressure in 2006 to abandon a law on youth unemployment. "That means that everything a government does, the street can undo," she said.

François Hume-Ferkatadji, 21, a graduate student in urban policy, said that "people infantilize us, but we're also old enough to have a political consciousness." He said that pension reform was "necessary, for we must conserve the welfare state," but that the current effort contained inequalities concerning women, young people and those in strenuous or dangerous occupations.

"In France, we talk a lot about national identity," he said. "Well, this is the French national identity: it's the struggle, it's resistance, and right now it's not a big joke for young people."

Others said that the government should further tax the wealthy instead and warned, like Grégory Tobeilem, 33, a professor of history and a member of the C.G.T. union, that Mr. Sarkozy had "already planned further attacks on the system, like for social security." A goal of many protestors, he said, is "to show that we're fed up with the fact that they want us to pay for the crisis of their system."

Union officials say they are angry with the government for stopping a process of negotiation over the pension reform, especially after a scandal-filled summer that nearly cost the man in charge of the bill his job. That is the labor minister, Eric Woerth. He was caught up in a battle within the wealthy Bettencourt family, which owns L'Oréal, when secret tapes seemed to indicate illegal campaign financing to Mr. Sarkozy's party and its then treasurer, Mr. Woerth.

François Chérèque, secretary general of the country's second-largest union, C.F.D.T., said Monday night on television that he was open to talks on better job opportunities for young people and senior citizens, a stance echoed by Laurence Parisot, the head of the main employers organization, Medef.

But on Tuesday, Mr. Chérèque sounded more bitter about relations with Mr. Sarkozy and his aides, who had begun their term trying to reach out to the unions. "There's nothing left," Mr. Chérèque told Le Monde. "The harm done is deep, deep."

On his relations with the Elysée, he said: "If they think it will be enough to change some ministers and to call us, with a contrived smile on their faces, to talk about social issues, they're mistaken."

He said that "we are in a new phase, but a new phase does not mean everything is over," expressing the hope the Mr. Sarkozy would yet withdraw the law "because a law can always be perfected."

Mr. Sarkozy's aides have already said that they would make a gesture to the opposition and rethink a limit on taxes for the wealthy of 50 percent of yearly income, which Mr. Sarkozy instituted to encourage the wealthy to stay in France, but which has been called unjust. The aides have suggested replacing it and the wealth tax with a new band of taxation for the richest in France.

Prime Minister François Fillon, who may not keep his job past November, was conciliatory, promising a new round of dialogue with the unions on how to increase jobs for young people and older ones.

"We are beginning to exit the social crisis but the situation remains difficult," Mr. Fillon told party legislators. "Political firmness without social dialogue is a fault, but social dialogue without political firmness is a grave error," he said.

Marie-Pia Gohin contributed reporting.


16) Ford Posts 6th Straight Profitable Quarter
October 26, 2010

DEARBORN, Mich. - The Ford Motor Company said on Tuesday that it earned $1.7 billion in the third quarter and that it expected to have zero net debt by the end of December, one year ahead of forecast.

It was the sixth consecutive profitable quarter and the best third quarter in more than 20 years for Ford, which has been gaining momentum because of popular new cars and crossover vehicles, even as the overall market and the economy remain relatively weak.

Ford, the only one of the three Detroit automakers to avoid bankruptcy and not accept government bailout assistance, has earned about $6.4 billion so far in 2010, just two years since a $14.8 billion annual loss that was the biggest in its history.

Its third-quarter profit was equal to 43 cents a share, compared to 29 cents a share a year earlier, when it earned $997 million.

On an operating basis, excluding taxes and special items, Ford earned $2.1 billion, or 48 cents a share, up from $1 billion, or 26 cents a share, in the third quarter of 2009. On that basis, analysts had expected earnings of 38 cents.

"This was another strong quarter and we continue to gain momentum with our One Ford plan," the chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said in a statement. "Delivering world-class products and aggressively restructuring our business has enabled us to profitably grow even at low industry volumes in key regions."

Ford earned $1.6 billion in North America in the quarter, compared with $314 million in the period a year ago. Automotive operations lost $196 million in Europe but were profitable in other regions.

Revenue declined $1.3 billion to $29 billion, reflecting the sale earlier this year of the company's Swedish brand, Volvo. Excluding Volvo, now owned by the Chinese carmaker Geely, third-quarter revenue was up $1.7 billion.

Ford executives said all of the company's business units would be profitable in the fourth quarter and in 2011.

Ford said it paid off $2 billion in debt in September and that it planned to pay its remaining obligation to the United Automobile Workers union's retiree health care trust - $3.6 billion - on Friday, in cash. Ford had not been required to satisfy its debt to the union trust until 2022.

In all, the company expects to save about $800 million a year in interest as a result of the debt-reduction actions it has competed or announced this year, including a securities conversion offer that it is starting Tuesday. Company shares were 1.7 percent higher on Tuesday.

Ford had $26.4 billion in debt at the end of the quarter, down from $33.6 billion at the end of 2009. Its net debt stood at $2.6 billion, compared to $8.7 billion in December.

The chief financial officer, Lewis W. K. Booth, said debt reduction would continue to be a priority because a return to an investment-grade credit rating would allow Ford to reduce its borrowing costs.

"We're working really hard on improving the balance sheet," Mr. Booth said. Automotive operating-related cash flow was $900 million positive in the quarter. Ford has projected continued positive cash flow and solid profit for the rest of 2010 and in 2011.

Three months ago, Ford said it would eliminate its net debt by the end of 2011. Its high debt load has been a concern to many analysts. The last time Ford had more cash than debt was in mid-2008, before the recession began and auto sales collapsed.

Mr. Booth said Ford did not plan to eliminate all of its debt but that it had "some way to go yet" to reach its ideal debt level, though he would not reveal a specific target.

He said Ford has been able to accelerate its turnaround, without much help from the economy, by not only selling more vehicles but increasing the average price buyers pay.

"Every time we launch a new product, we can see that happening," he said.

Ford's sales in the United States are up 21 percent this year through September, double the average percentage gain for the industry. Its share of the market rose to 15.9 percent in the third quarter, from 14.6 percent a year earlier.

"Ford sales continue to surge due to a stronger product lineup and improved consumer image," said Jesse Toprak, vice president for industry trends at "Their retail sales are strong and transaction prices have been increasing this year, contributing to an improved bottom-line for the automaker."

On Monday, Ford said it would create as many as 1,200 engineering and manufacturing jobs by spending $850 million to upgrade at least four Michigan plants through 2013.


17) Global extinction crisis looms, new study says
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 27, 2010; 12:28 AM

A growing number of creatures could disappear from the earth, with
one-fifth of all vertebrates and as many as a third of all sharks
and rays now facing the threat of extinction, according to a new
survey assessing nearly 26,000 species across the globe.

In addition, forces such as habitat destruction, over-exploitation
and invasive competitors move 52 species a category closer to
extinction each year, according to the research, published online
Tuesday by the journal Science. At the same time, the findings
demonstrate that these losses would be at least 20 percent higher
without conservation efforts now underway.

"We know what we need to do," said Andrew Rosenberg, senior vice
president for science and knowledge at the advocacy group
Conservation International and one of the paper's co-authors. "We
need to focus on protected areas, both terrestrial and marine."

The survey, conducted by 174 researchers from 38 countries, came
as delegates from around the world are meeting in Nagoya, Japan,
to debate conservation goals for the coming decade.

The researchers analyzed the International Union for Conservation
of Nature's "Red List" - a periodic accounting that classifies
mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish along a spectrum
depending on how imperiled they are.

While many industrialized countries have undertaken conservation
efforts at home and helped fund this work overseas, "the reality
is we're still exporting degradation across the world" by taking
food and other resources from the developing world, according to
co-author Nicholas K. Dulvy.

"We've transformed a third of the habitable land on earth for food
production," said Dulvy, who co-chairs the IUCN's shark specialist
group. "You can't just remove that habitat without consequences
for biodiversity."

Southeast Asia's animals have experienced the most severe hit in
recent years, stemming from a combination of agricultural
expansion, logging and hunting. Species in parts of Central
America, the tropical Andes of South America and Australia have
also all suffered significant population declines, largely due to
the chytrid fungus killing off amphibians. Forty-one percent of
all amphibians are now threatened with extinction.

Norway's environmental minister, Erik Solheim, who is attending
the talks in Nagoya, said in an interview that this sort of
accelerating biodiversity loss, coupled with climate change,
should compel nations to act boldly: "Very clearly, there's an
increasing sense of urgency here," he said.

The grim study underscores the failure by parties to the
Convention on Biological Diversity to fulfill a 1992 pledge to
achieve "a significant reduction in the current rate of
biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level" by
this year. The convention's 193 signatories meeting this month in
Japan will set a conservation target for 2020; a U.S. delegation
is attending the two-week session even though the United States
has not ratified the pact.

Environmental groups are pushing for a goal of protecting 25
percent of all land on earth and 15 percent of the sea by 2020. At
the moment, roughly 14 percent of terrestrial areas and less than
1 percent of the ocean enjoy some degree of environmental safeguards.

The new study documents the impact of such policies - 64
vulnerable species have begun recovering due to concerted
conservation efforts, the article says. It provides a snapshot of
how the world's birds, mammals and amphibians has evolved over
three decades.

Two American species that had become extinct in the wild, the
California condor and the black-footed ferret, have both made
gains after being reintroduced, while several island species have
boosted their numbers after humans took steps to shrink
populations of invasive predators that were targeting them. The
global population of the Seychelles Magpie-robin, for example,
rose from fewer than 15 birds to 180 between 1965 and 2006 after
the island's brown rat numbers came under control.

In some cases, a disparate combination of policies have helped
species regain a foothold: the Asian crested ibis went from
critically endangered in 1994 to endangered in 2000 due to
protection of its nesting trees, controls over chemicals used in
nearby rice fields and a prohibition of firearms.

In some instances, policymakers and scientists are just beginning
to grapple with the challenges faced by some species - such as
sharks, skates and rays. Jack Musick, professor emeritus at the
Virginia Institute of Marine Science, helped oversee a global
study that suggests roughly 33 percent of cartilaginous fishes are

Musick, who started studying sharks in the Atlantic a half-century
ago and began a shark survey in the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's
coastal waters in 1973, said he started seeing declines in the 1980s.

While the United States has cut back on shark fishing off its
coasts, Musick said, "I can't say the same for international

Researchers in the IUCN's shark specialist group made assumptions
about the state of some shark species because data is lacking for
nearly half of them; they extrapolated what they knew about
well-studied species and applied the same ratio of threats to
lesser-known ones.

Sonja Fordham, the group's deputy chair and founder of the
D.C.-based Shark Advocates International, said that gaps in data
should not hold the world back from protecting sharks. "Around the
world, we see similar cases of boom and bust fisheries, and
management that is too little, too late," she said.


18) Antiwar Movement Outraged by New Wikileaks Revelations
For Immediate Release
October 25, 2010
For more information: Joe Lombardo, 518-227-6947,,

Antiwar Movement Expresses Outrage Over New Wikileaks "Iraq War Logs" and pledges to redouble protests with a major meeting in New York City on November 6th and a program of Activity leading to Massive demonstrations on April 9.

The Antiwar movement is outraged by the human rights abuses, death and secrecy outlines in the latest release of documents from the Wikileaks web site. The reports document the US military killing of insurgents who were trying to surrender, tens of thousands of civilian deaths, and systematic beating and torturing of prisoners.

"There is no reason that these documents should be classified in the first place except for the fact that they show a pattern of illegal, immoral and abusive behavior on the part of the US military and its allies." Wikileaks does a service by showing the world the truth," according to Joe Lombardo, United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC) co-chair. "Instead of acknowledging and correcting this behavior, the US military tries to silence wilileaks and prosecutes Bradley Manning, who they accuse of being the whistleblower," according to Lombardo. UNAC voted to support Bradley Manning at our recent conference and applauds the courage of Julian Assange for standing up to pressure from the US government to not publish the documents.

"The behavior brought to light by these leaked documents has a domestic side as the US government has increased attacks against Muslims and peace activists at home," said Joe Lombardo. "This has included increased use of agent provocateurs sent into Mosques to try and elicit illegal behavior that the individuals were not otherwise inclined to do and the recent raids on homes of antiwar activists around the country. "

The United National Antiwar Committee, formed out of a conference of 800 activists in Albany, NY this summer will respond to this latest information by redoubling their efforts to mobilize people in actions. We will hold a regional meeting in New York City on November 6th from noon to 4 at St. Marks Church on 10th St. and 2nd Ave. to organize activity leading to massive demonstrations on April 9th in New York City and San Francisco. At this meeting will be a number of the peace activists who have recently had their home invaded by the FBI and been given subpoenas to appear and front of federal grand juries as well has members of the Islamic community working to oppose the recent wave of Islomophobia being incited in the US.

Bring the Troops Home Now!

Stop the Attacks on Muslims and Peace Activists!


19) Protest Closes Cholera Treatment Center in Haiti
October 27, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - After residents of the town of St. Marc demonstrated violently on Tuesday against the construction of a 400-bed cholera treatment center, the government of Haiti asked humanitarian groups to dismantle the nearly completed clinic and wait for another site to be chosen.

Voicing anxiety that the treatment center would put nearby schoolchildren at risk of infection, the angry residents threw stones, burned several tents in the treatment compound and blocked the road leading there with tires.

Doctors Without Borders said that the new treatment center, which would have relieved some of the burden on St. Nicholas Hospital in St. Marc, would have posed no additional risk to the population. And its closing, the group said, would disrupt efforts to treat people suffering from cholera and prevent the spread of the infection.

"The ultimate consequence is that we are now unable to respond to the cholera outbreak in the Artibonite region in the most effective manner and under the best possible conditions," Francisco Otero, head of the group's emergency response teams in St. Marc, said in a statement.

The cholera epidemic has killed at least 284 people nationwide and sickened more than 3,700 but its spread has slowed and treatment and prevention efforts have reduced the fatality rate.

Anxiety about the epidemic, which for the moment appears to be largely contained to the Artibonite region north of here, has provoked a few other tense scenes, too. Earlier this week, displaced people in a tent camp initially fought the creation of a fenced-off cholera clinic in their midst, but relented after negotiations.

And residents of Mirabelais protested what they feared was the contamination of a local river by human waste from a United Nations force from Nepal. Haitian media coverage of their allegations provoked the United Nations mission here to issue a communiqué explaining that their septic system met international environmental standards and that none of their waste was dumped in the river.


20) Leaked Reports Prompt Questions About Civilian Casualties
October 27, 2010, 1:46 pm

The whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks posted 77,000 secret field reports this summer, covering six years of the war in Afghanistan, and many of the reports shed new light on civilian deaths. The British newspaper The Guardian, which was one of several publications - The New York Times was another - that printed articles about the leaked field reports, followed up with a Freedom of Information request to the British Ministry of Defense, seeking more information about the civilian deaths.

On Wednesday the newspaper, working with the Ministry's response to that request, said that troops from three British military units had caused two-thirds of the civilian casualties attributed to the British military. In all. more than 200 different British military units circulated through Afghanistan in the years covered by the logs, according to information supplied by the Ministry of Defense, though officials pointed out that not all of them faced the kind of treacherous conditions experienced by the three units singled out in the Guardian article.

Lawyers working for Iraqi families who lost relatives in actions involving British troops have said that they are preparing to file at least 40 wrongful-death suits in British courts.

According to The Guardian, the ministry disclosed that the Coldstream Guards, one of the most honored units in the British army, shot four civilians in Kabul over three weeks; Royal Marine commandos killed or wounded civilians in eight incidents over six months; and a third unit, the Rifles, were involved in three incidents last year. The casualties included children, as well as one man with mental health problems.

A second trove of field reports - this time involving the war in Iraq - was published by WikiLeaks last week. Among other revelations, those field reports indicated that deaths of Iraqi civilians, at the hands of other Iraqis as well as the American military, appeared to be significantly more numerous than the United States has said publicly.

Based on the Iraq documents, WikiLeaks concluded that 15,000 more Iraqi civilians had been killed in the course of the conflict between 2004 and 2009 than had previously been reported. Of that number, 680 were civilians who were killed by fire directed at them at traffic checkpoints manned by American and Iraqi troops.

In one October 2007 episode that is highlighted in the Afghanistan trove, troops from the Coldstream Guards patrolling in Kabul killed one person and wounded two others who were riding in a silver minibus. The ministry, according to The Guardian, said the minibus had failed to stop when the soldiers signaled for it to do so.

In November 2007, the son of an Afghan general was killed while driving a Toyota car toward a Coldstream Guards patrol. The ministry said that the car appeared to accelerate, and that the soldiers could only shout a warning before shooting. The Guardian took note of the fact that soldiers in the Coldstream Guards, one of the British Army's oldest regiments, were intensely fearful of suicide bombers after a number of such incidents.

In November 2008, troops of the Royal Marines, The Guardian said, shot and killed a child riding in a white Toyota in Helmand province. The soldiers, who had received reports of a suicide bomber in the area, believed that the car was driving toward them, The Guardian said, citing the Ministry of Defense.

In December 2008, the Guards wounded a man who had been trying to relocate his family because they thought he had been tracking them, the Ministry said.

In January 2009, missiles fired by unmanned drones injured two children. The Royal Marines had called for the drone air strikes because they were being threatened by Taliban insurgents. The following March, the mentally ill man was riding a motorcycle and was shot by marines in a patrol that had received word of a bomb threat.

The Rifles unit, The Guardian said, was implicated in three incidents last year, including a British air strike that killed an undisclosed number of civilians in Helmand.

The Guardian quoted a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense whom it did not name as saying the ministry deeply regretted all civilian casualties. A major objective of all coalition forces, the spokesman said, is to protect the Afghan civilian population, so British troops "undergo comprehensive training on the strict rules of engagement."

"This contrasts directly with the attitude of the insurgents, whose indiscriminate use of suicide bombs, roadside explosive devices and human shields cause the majority of civilian deaths and injuries in Afghanistan," the spokesman said.

A Labour member of parliament, Paul Flynn, called for an inquiry into the conduct of the units, saying the incidents could be "atrocities in the name of the British people."

An official inquiry into Britain's overall involvement in Iraq, led by Sir John Chilcot, has been hearing testimony from dozens of witnesses since January, including Britain's top commanders in Iraq. It is expected to complete its report near the end of the year or early in 2011.


21) Assembly Again Urges U.S. to Lift Cuba Embargo
October 27, 2010

The annual General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to lift its longstanding economic embargo against Cuba passed by the lopsided vote of 187 to 2. Only the United States and Israel opposed the nonbinding measure, the 19th such resolution in a row, while three Pacific island allies of Washington abstained. The Cuban foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, accused President Obama of promising to change relations with Cuba but falling under the thrall of the exile community in the United States. In response, the United States said that it had expanded trade and other ties with the Caribbean nation but that improved relations hinged on greater domestic freedom.


22) Arizona Executes Inmate After Supreme Court Clears Way
October 27, 2010

The State of Arizona executed Jeffrey Landrigan late Tuesday night after the Supreme Court lifted a lower court's injunction blocking the lethal injection.

Last-minute appeals for Mr. Landrigan, convicted of murder in 1990, focused on the origins of one of the drugs used in the state's three-drug execution protocol.

Shortages of barbiturates used in executions has led to delays in several states. The only domestic manufacturer approved by the Food and Drug Administration to make sodium thiopental, the barbiturate used in Arizona, is Hospira, Inc; it suspended production of the drug a year ago because of supply issues, and is expected to be producing it again in the first quarter of next year.

With no supplies coming from sources approved by the F.D.A., Judge Roslyn O. Silver of Federal District Court had demanded that the state provide information about the origins of Arizona's drug in order to know whether there were risks of impurity or efficacy that could violate Mr. Landrigan's rights under the Eighth Amendment barring cruel and unusual punishment.

The state refused to detail the origins of the drug or the process used to obtain it in open court, citing the state's confidentiality laws, though officials said it had come from England. Thus "the Court is left to speculate," Judge Silver wrote, "whether the non-F.D.A. approved drug will cause pain and suffering."

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the order, stating that the state should provide a full accounting. "Because we do not know what was before the district court due to the state's failure to provide the materials, we cannot say the district court abused its discretion in granting a temporary stay," the judges wrote on Tuesday. Later in the day, the full Ninth Circuit refused to rehear the case, resulting in the state appealing to the Supreme Court.

In a one-page order issued Tuesday night explaining the 5-to-4 vote to vacate Judge Silver's temporary restraining order, the Supreme Court stated that Judge Silver's reasoning was flawed, because the case affirming the constitutionality of the three-drug execution method, Baze v. Rees, had a high standard of proof that an execution method would cause harm.

The Court stated that "speculation cannot substitute for evidence that the use of the drug is 'sure or very likely to cause serious illness and needless suffering,' " and added, "There was no showing that the drug was unlawfully obtained, nor was there an offer of proof to that effect."

The five justices who voted for lifting the stay were Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.; Antonin Scalia; Clarence Thomas; Samuel Alito; and Anthony M. Kennedy. The four justices who voted to uphold Judge Silver's stay were Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Stephen G. Breyer; Sonia Sotomayor; and Elena Kagan. They did not issue an opinion.

Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University, said that the lesson of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Landrigan case was "crime pays."

He explained: "The state flatly stonewalled the lower courts by defying orders to produce information, and then was rewarded at the Supreme Court by winning its case on the basis that the defendant had not put forward enough evidence. That is an outcome which turns simple justice upside-down and a victory that the state should be ashamed to have obtained."

Proponents of the death penalty saw the outcome, instead, as a victory for the rule of law. Kent Scheidegger, the legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a victims' rights group, wrote on the group's blog that the case draws a bright line for other attempts to stay executions, and singled out a procedural stay in California, where Judge Jeremy Fogel of Federal District Court has delayed the execution of Albert Greenwood Brown Jr. over questions concerning the state's drug protocols.

"Judge Fogel now has a clear directive from the high court that unless the new California protocol fails this 'sure or very likely' standard, he should allow executions to proceed," Mr. Scheidegger wrote. "The protocol surely passes."

In an interview, Mr. Scheidegger said, "The Supreme Court told the Ninth Circuit and the District Court that they had applied too loose a standard in granting a stay." The new decision, he said, "sends a message" that "speculation about problems with the source is not sufficient to stay an execution."

Ty Alper, the associate director of the death penalty clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, said that the Supreme Court's decision did not end the story, arguing that "it explicitly leaves the door open for a challenge in a case where petitioners can show that the drug was unlawfully obtained."

The fact that the F.D.A. has not approved foreign sources of sodium thiopental, he said, suggested that "it's very likely that a petitioner will be able to make this showing in a case where there is more time to litigate the issue than there was in the Arizona case."

With the stay in Arizona lifted, Mr. Landrigan was executed at 10:26 p.m. Mountain time.

Mr. Landrigan murdered Chester Dyer in 1989 in Phoenix, after having escaped from an Oklahoma prison where he was being held on another murder conviction.

According to The Arizona Republic, Mr. Landrigan offered his last words in a strong voice and a heavy accent from his native Oklahoma.

"Well, I'd like to say thank you to my family for being here and all my friends," he said, "and Boomer Sooner."

The Sooners is the team nickname at the University of Oklahoma.


23) Power Failure Cut a Link to Missiles
October 26, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) - A power failure caused a break in communication with 50 nuclear missiles at an Air Force base in Wyoming over the weekend, military officials said Tuesday.

The officials say the power failure on Saturday lasted about 45 minutes. The White House was briefed about the incident on Tuesday morning.

There was no evidence of foul play, the officials said, and the Air Force never lost the ability to launch the missiles. The problem, first reported online by The Atlantic, appears to have been caused by a power failure in an underground communications cable.

The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles are maintained by the 319th Missile Squadron and are stockpiled at Warren Air Force Base, near Cheyenne.

The Air Force's other nuclear missile sites, in Montana and North Dakota, were not affected.


24) Study Finds Street Stops by N.Y. Police Unjustified
October 26, 2010

Tens of thousands of times over six years, the police stopped and questioned people on New York City streets without the legal justification for doing so, a new study says.

And in hundreds of thousands of more cases, city officers failed to include essential details on required police forms to show whether the stops were justified, according to the study written by Prof. Jeffrey A. Fagan of Columbia Law School.

The study was conducted on behalf of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is suing the New York Police Department for what the center says is a widespread pattern of unprovoked and unnecessary stops and racial profiling in the department's stop-question-and-frisk policy. The department denies the charges.

The study examined police data cataloging the 2.8 million times from 2004 through 2009 that officers stopped people on the streets to question and sometimes frisk them, a crime-fighting strategy the department has put more emphasis on over the years.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly has rejected the accusation of racial profiling, and said the racial breakdown of the stops correlated to the racial breakdown of crime suspects. Mr. Kelly has also credited the tactic with helping to cut crime to low levels in the city and with getting guns off the street.

But as the number of stops has jumped - to more than 570,000 last year from 313,000 in 2004 - the practice has come under increasing scrutiny, from lawmakers at City Hall and Albany and from civil libertarians including the constitutional rights center and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Professor Fagan found that in more than 30 percent of stops, officers either lacked the kind of suspicion necessary to make a stop constitutional or did not include sufficient detail on police forms to determine if the stops were legally justified. The study also found that even accounting for crime patterns in the city's various neighborhoods, officers stopped minorities at disproportionate rates.

Nearly 150,000 of the stops - 6.7 percent of all cases in which an officer made a stop based on his own discretion, rather than while responding to a radio call in which some information had already been gathered - lacked legal sufficiency, the study concluded.

Stops were considered unjustified if officers provided no primary reason articulating a reasonable suspicion for the stop.

For example, if an officer conducted a stop solely because a person was in a high-crime area - without listing a primary reason, like the person "fits a description" of a crime suspect or appeared to be "casing" a store - the stop was considered unjustified.

If an officer cited only "other" as the reason for the stop, with no other details, it was deemed unjustified in the study.

An additional 544,000 cases, or 24 percent of all discretionary stops, did not have enough information on the forms that officers are required to fill out after such encounters.

The United States Supreme Court has held that in order for police officers to stop someone, they must be able to articulate a reasonable suspicion of a crime. To frisk them, they must have a reasonable belief that the person is armed and dangerous.

Darius Charney, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the study crystallized the primary complaints in the lawsuit. "It confirms what we have been saying for the last 10 or 11 years, which is that stop-and-frisk patterns - it is really race, not crime, that is driving this," Mr. Charney said.

Mr. Kelly, responding to the professor's study, said on Tuesday, "I think you have to understand this was an advocacy paper." He also noted that Professor Fagan was paid well to produce the report.

"We haven't had a chance to look at it," Mr. Kelly added, "but I wouldn't take the position that this is an objective document."

The commissioner acknowledged that the department was paying its own expert, Dennis C. Smith, a professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, to produce its own study in the case.

Police officials have pointed to a 2007 study of the practice by the Rand Corporation, which found no racial profiling being done by officers.

They said the study, commissioned by the Police Department, showed that stops mirrored crime - that while a large percentage of stops involved blacks, an even larger percentage of violent crimes involved suspects described as black by their victims.

Professor Fagan challenged the Rand report's findings and methodologies because the report used as a benchmark violent crime, which accounts for 10 percent of all criminal cases. And in half of those, his study found, the races of the suspects are not known.

Another of the Fagan study's main areas of focus was where stops were concentrated.

It found that the highest proportion of stops occur within police precincts that cover areas with large numbers of black and Hispanic residents. A chart in the study shows that in the quartile of the city with the highest concentrations of black residents, the police stopped people at a rate two to three times as much per criminal complaint than in the quartile of the precincts with the lowest percentage of black residents.

A report in The New York Times in July found that the highest concentration of stops in the city was in a roughly eight-block area of Brownsville, Brooklyn, that was predominately black. Residents there were stopped at a rate 13 times as much as the city average.

Professor Fagan said he would not speak about the study until he was deposed in the case. He was chosen to do it based on his experience in studying race and policing for three decades, Mr. Charney said.

Other findings in the study echoed some familiar ideas about the practice.

Force was 14 percent more likely to be used in stops of blacks and 9.3 percent more likely for Hispanics, compared with white suspects.

Guns were not often found (they were discovered in 0.15 percent of all stops). And weapons and other contraband were seized nearly 15 percent less often in stops of blacks than of whites, and nearly 23 percent less often in stops of Hispanics.

If stops that resulted in some form of sanction, blacks were 31 percent more likely than whites to be arrested than issued summonses.

Mr. Charney said Professor Fagan could serve as a witness in a potential trial.


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