Saturday, January 16, 2010



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

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




--Saturday January 16th
12noon postering, meet at ANSWER office
2pm tabling, meet at Whole Foods on 24th St btwn Sanchez and Noe
--Monday January 18th
5pm tabling, meet at 24th and Mission BART
--Tuesday January 19th
7pm postering, meet at ANSWER office

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2010, 2:00 P.M.
Between 16th and 15th Streets, SF)
For more information call: 415-821-6545


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Message from sister of Leonard Bradley Jr.,
Protest the murder of un-armed Leonard Bradley Jr., killed by San Pablo Police
January 18, 2009, 12:00 - 1:30 pm
We will peacefully assemble in front of the San Pablo Police Department at 13880 San Pablo Ave.

Hello Everyone,

I hope this note reaches you all in the best of spirits. My name is Lyn-Tise Bradley,

Some of you may know and some of you may not know but on Saturday, November 14, 2009, my little brother, Leonard Bradley Jr. (also known as Lil L) was shot and killed by San Pablo Police. My brother was unarmed and fleeing the scene from a stolen car when the San Pablo police chased him into grassy field and killed him.

We would like for you all to be a part of our march for our little brother. As well as possibly forwarding this message to everyone in your database. I am unfamiliar with planning protests, but I am willing to do whatever it takes for justice to be served on behalf of my little brother.

Please see the details below.

Thank you in advance for your help.

My family is still trying to bounce back from such a traumatic experience. We miss my brother and will not let him go without a fight. We are asking if everyone could please plan to join us in marching for Leonard. Please see the information below. Post it on your facebook, myspace, and please e-mail it to everyone you know.

Date: January 18, 2009
TIME: 12:00 - 1:30 pm
We will peacefully assemble in front of the San Pablo Police Department at 13880 San Pablo Ave.

CONTACT INFO: Lyn-Tise Bradley (415) 283-9905


Take A Stand For Economic Human Rights!
in support of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP).
Wednesday, January 20th, 2010, 11:00AM
Justin Herman Plaza
(1 Market St., SF, CA; across street from Ferry Building)

In cities, towns, and rural communities across the country, truly affordable housing is disappearing at alarming rates and resources are increasingly being used to criminalize poverty. We demand: "HOUSE KEYS, NOT HANDCUFFS!"

For more information call 415-621-2533 or visit Email us at


Save the Date:
Friday, Feb. 5, 7pm - Haiti Relief Benefit
Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St. at 16th St., San Francisco

Featured Speaker: Pierre Labossiere, Haiti Action Committee

Sponsored by: ANSWER Coalition. Co-sponsored by: Haiti Action Committee, Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition, FMLN-Northern Calif., Task Force on the Americas and others. All funds collected go to Haiti relief. Call 415-821-6545 for more info.


SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2010, 2:00 P.M.
Between 16th and 15th Streets, SF)
For more information call: 415-821-6545


National Call for March 4 Strike and Day of Action To Defend Public Education
By Elly

California has recently seen a massive movement erupt in defense of public education -- but layoffs, fee hikes, cuts, and the re-segregation of public education are attacks taking place throughout the country. A nationwide resistance movement is needed.

We call on all students, workers, teachers, parents, and their organizations and communities across the country to massively mobilize for a Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education on March 4, 2010. Education cuts are attacks against all of us, particularly in working-class communities and communities of color.

The politicians and administrators say there is no money for education and social services. They say that "there is no alternative" to the cuts. But if there's money for wars, bank bailouts, and prisons, why is there no money for public education?

We can beat back the cuts if we unite students, workers, and teachers across all sectors of public education - Pre K-12, adult education, community colleges, and state-funded universities. We appeal to the leaders of the trade union movement to support and organize strikes and/or mass actions on March 4. The weight of workers and students united in strikes and mobilizations would shift the balance of forces entirely against the current agenda of cuts and make victory possible.

Building a powerful movement to defend public education will, in turn, advance the struggle in defense of all public-sector workers and services and will be an inspiration to all those fighting against the wars, for immigrants rights, in defense of jobs, for single-payer health care, and other progressive causes.

Why March 4? On October 24, 2009 more than 800 students, workers, and teachers converged at UC Berkeley at the Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education. This massive meeting brought together representatives from over 100 different schools, unions, and organizations from all across California and from all sectors of public education. After hours of open collective discussion, the participants voted democratically, as their main decision, to call for a Strike and Day of Action on March 4, 2010. All schools, unions and organizations are free to choose their specific demands and tactics -- such as strikes, rallies, walkouts, occupations, sit-ins, teach-ins, etc. -- as well as the duration of such actions.

Let's make March 4 an historic turning point in the struggle against the cuts, layoffs, fee hikes, and the re-segregation of public education.

- The California Coordinating Committee

To endorse this call and to receive more information contact:

and check out:

Andy Griggs



San Francisco March and Rally
on Saturday, March 20, 2010
11am, Civic Center Plaza

National March on Washington
on Saturday, March 20, 2010
Fri., March 19 Day of Action & Outreach in D.C.

People from all over the country are organizing to converge on Washington, D.C., to demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, there will be a massive National March & Rally in D.C. A day of action and outreach in Washington, D.C., will take place on Friday, March 19, preceding the Saturday march.

There will be coinciding mass marches on March 20 in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The national actions are initiated by a large number of organizations and prominent individuals. see below)

Click here to become an endorser:

Click here to make a donation:

We will march together to say "No Colonial-type Wars and Occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine!" We will march together to say "No War Against Iran!" We will march together to say "No War for Empire Anywhere!"

Instead of war, we will demand funds so that every person can have a job, free and universal health care, decent schools, and affordable housing.

March 20 is the seventh anniversary of the criminal war of aggression launched by Bush and Cheney against Iraq. One million or more Iraqis have died. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops have lost their lives or been maimed, and continue to suffer a whole host of enduring problems from this terrible war.

This is the time for united action. The slogans on banners may differ, but all those who carry them should be marching shoulder to shoulder.

Killing and dying to avoid the perception of defeat

Bush is gone, but the war and occupation in Iraq still go on. The Pentagon is demanding a widening of the war in Afghanistan. They project an endless war with shifting battlefields. And a "single-payer" war budget that only grows larger and larger each year. We must act.

Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were predicated on the imperial fantasy that the U.S. could create stable, proxy colonial-type governments in both countries. They were to serve as an extension of "American" power in these strategic and resource-rich regions.

That fantasy has been destroyed. Now U.S. troops are being sent to kill or be killed so that the politicians in uniform "the generals and admirals") and those in three-piece suits "our elected officials") can avoid taking responsibility for a military setback in wars that should have never been started. Their military ambitions are now reduced to avoiding the appearance of defeat.

That is exactly what happened in Vietnam! Avoiding defeat, or the perception of defeat, was the goal Nixon and Kissinger set for themselves when they took office in 1969. For this noble cause, another 30,000 young GIs perished before the inevitable troop pullout from Vietnam in 1973. The number of Vietnamese killed between 1969 and 1973 was greater by many hundreds of thousands.

All of us can make the difference - progress and change comes from the streets and from the grassroots.

The people went to the polls in 2008, and the enthusiasm and desire for change after eight years of the Bush regime was the dominant cause that led to election of a big Democratic Party majority in both Houses of Congress and the election of Barack Obama to the White House.

But it should now be obvious to all that waiting for politicians to bring real change - on any front - is simply a prescription for passivity by progressives and an invitation to the array of corporate interests from military contractors to the banks, to big oil, to the health insurance giants that dominate the political life of the country. These corporate interests work around the clock to frustrate efforts for real change, and they are the guiding hand behind the recent street mobilizations of the ultra-right.

It is up to us to act. If people had waited for politicians to do the right thing, there would have never been a Civil Rights Act, or unions, women's rights, an end to the Vietnam war or any of the profound social achievements and basic rights that people cherish.

It is time to be back in the streets. Organizing centers are being set up in cities and towns throughout the country.

We must raise $50,000 immediately just to get started. Please make your contribution today. We need to reserve buses, which are expensive $1,800 from NYC, $5,000 from Chicago, etc.). We have to print 100,000 leaflets, posters and stickers. There will be other substantial expenses as March 20 draws closer.

Please become an endorser and active supporter of the March 20 National March on Washington.

Please make an urgently needed tax-deductible donation today. We can't do this without your active support.

The initiators of the March 20 National March on Washington preceded by the March 19 Day of Action and Outreach in D.C.) include: the ANSWER Coalition; Muslim American Society Freedom; National Council of Arab Americans; Cynthia McKinney; Malik Rahim, co-founder of Common Ground Collective; Ramsey Clark; Cindy Sheehan; Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK; Deborah Sweet, Director, World Can't Wait; Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace; Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild; Ron Kovic, author of "Born on the 4th of July"; Juan Jose Gutierrez, Director, Latino Movement USA; Col. Ann Wright ret.); March Forward!; Partnership for Civil Justice; Palestinian American Women Association; Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines; Alliance for Global Justice; Claudia de la Cruz, Pastor, Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas-UCC; Phil Portluck, Social Justice Ministry, Covenant Baptist Church, D.C.; Blase & Theresa Bonpane, Office of the Americas; Coalition for Peace and Democracy in Honduras; Comite Pro-Democracia en Mexico; Frente Unido de los Pueblos Americanos; Comites de Base FMLN, Los Angeles; Free Palestine Alliance; GABRIELA Network; Justice for Filipino American Veterans; KmB Pro-People Youth; Students Fight Back; Jim Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild - LA Chapter; LEF Foundation; National Coalition to Free the Angola 3; Community Futures Collective; Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival; Companeros del Barrio; Barrio Unido for Full and Unconditional Amnesty, Bay Area United Against War.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311


The US Social Forum II
" June 22-26, 2010 "
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Another World Is Possible! Another US is Necessary!




Urgent action needed to stop executions in CA
By Stephanie Faucher, Death Penalty Focus
January 8, 2009

Dear supporters,

Please take action today to stop executions from resuming in California. This is very urgent, without your help executions could occur in the near future.

Both Californians and non-Californians are encouraged to take action.

Letters must be received by January 20, 2010 at 5pm PDT.


On January 4, 2010, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) proposed minor revisions to its lethal injection procedures in the form of amendments to its previously proposed procedures. CDCR set a fifteen-day comment period ending January 20, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. during which the public can submit written comments on the proposed amendments.

The amended regulations, which are virtually identical to the regulations proposed in May 2009, can be found here:

The above link contains only those regulations that were amended. To see the full text of the proposed regulations proposed in May 2009, go to this link:


We have created a draft letter which you can personalize and send here:

A separate letter will also be sent the Governor of California.

Thank you for taking action!


BAUAW responds:

Here is the letter I wrote as a representative of BAUAW:

I oppose the racist death penalty to its very core. There is no "humanitarian" way to murder someone. It's barbaric.

Already so many who have been on death row for decades have been proven to be innocent victims of gross forensic mistakes or blatant police frame-ups.

The poor are routinely afforded inferior and indifferent legal services that serve mainly as a go-between the prosecution and accused. It can hardly be called legal defense.

Justice is not served equally or fairly in the United States. Most other nations have done away with the death penalty. Here our "great minds of justice" debate the best way to kill.

Under these concrete circumstances, instead of limiting the appeals process for prisoners, the justice system should bend over backwards to hear and re-hear the evidence and set free those who have been convicted unfairly.

Death should never be our conscious choice as a nation.

I am also very concerned about the newly revised lethal injection procedures.

In particular, I have the following concerns:

* The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) added a news article from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat to the rulemaking file. The article mentions that the original creator of the three-drug lethal injection formula has suggested ways to reform the process, including keeping up with changing drugs and science and proper training of lethal injection team members. The recent experience of Romell Broom in Ohio reinforces a point raised in the article, that botched executions are a real possibility, especially in California, due to the limited training of the lethal injection team members and California's repeated failure to meaningfully change its protocol.

* CDCR's amended regulations continue to be wholly inadequate and inapplicable to female condemned inmates. The regulations now specify that a female condemned inmate shall be transported to San Quentin no sooner than 72 hours and no later than six hours prior to the scheduled execution, but contain no provisions to implement the required 45-day chronology of events prior to her arrival at San Quentin. CDCR also fails to address how and if the female condemned inmate will be in contact with her family members and her legal team during her transport, which may take place on the same day as her scheduled execution.

* Contrary to CDCR's claim, the amended regulations continue to treat the condemned prisoner's witnesses differently than the victim's witnesses. The victim's family is allowed an unlimited number of witnesses at the execution, whereas the prisoner scheduled to die is limited to five individuals other than her or his spiritual adviser. In the event of lack of space, the victim's family is provided with the option of remote viewing of the execution, while the same option is not extended to the inmate's family.

*The distinction drawn between Chaplains and "approved" Spiritual Advisors is confusing and it is unclear how and when a person may become a "pre-approved" Spiritual Advisor.

I expect that you will take these concerns very seriously.


Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War,


YouTube - SF Hotel Workers Rally With AFL-CIO Trumka And March On Hilton Hotel

On Jan 5, 2010 over 1,400 SF Hotel Workers Rallied and marched With AFL-CIO President Trumka and Unite-Here President Wilhelm for a contract for the 9,000 unionized hotel workers whose contracts have expired. Over 150 workers and supporters were arrested at the Hilton Hotel which the union is boycotting. For further information on the union go to

Produced by The Labor Video Project
P.O. Box 720027
SF, CA 94172



The Unemployment Game Show: Are You *Really* Unemployed? - From

Video: Gaza Lives On



Tom Zaniello is a living, walking encyclopedia of films about labour.

I heard him speak at a conference once, but it wasn't so much a speech as a high-speed tour through dozens of film clips, lovingly selected, all aiming to make a point.

I don't know anyone who knows more about cinema and the labour movement than he does.

And Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff: An expanded guide to films about labor is his, well, encyclopedia about the subject.

It's a 434 page guide to 350 labour films from around the world, ranging from those you've heard of - Salt of the Earth, The Grapes of Wrath, Roger & Me - to those you've never heard of but will fall in love with once you see them.

Zaniello describes all the films in detail, tells you whether they're available for rental or purchase, and, if so, where.

Fiction and nonfiction, the films are about unions, labour history, working-class life, political movements, and the struggle between labour and capital.

Each entry includes critical commentary, production data, cast list, suggested related films, and annotated references to books and Web sites for further reading.

If you want to know more about labour films, buy this book.

And remember that every copy you purchase helps support LabourStart.

Thanks very much.

Eric Lee


Letter from Lynne Stewart from behind bars:

Dear Sisters and Brothers, Friends and Supporters:

Well the moment we all hoped would never come is upon us. Good bye to a good cup of coffee in the morning, a soft chair, the hugs of grandchildren and the smaller pleasures in life. I must say I am being treated well and that is due to my lawyer team and your overwhelming support.

While I have received "celebrity" treatment here in MCC - high visibility - conditions for the other women are deplorable. Medical care, food, education, recreation are all at minimal levels. If it weren't for the unqualified bonds of sisterhood and the commissary it would be even more dismal.

My fellow prisoners have supplied me with books and crosswords, a warm it is cold in here most of the time) sweat shirt and pants, treats from the commissary, and of course, jailhouse humor. Most important many of them know of my work and have a deep reservoir of can I say it? Respect.

I continue to both answer the questions put to me by them, I also can't resist commenting on the T.V. news or what is happening on the floor - a little LS politics always! Smile) to open hearts and minds!

Liz Fink, my lawyer leader, believes I will be here at MCC-NY for a while - perhaps a year before being moved to prison. Being is jail is like suddenly inhabiting a parallel universe but at least I have the luxury of time to read! Tomorrow I will get my commissary order which may include an AM/FM Radio and be restored to WBAI and music classical and jazz).

We are campaigning to get the bladder operation scheduled before I came in to MCC) to happen here in New York City. Please be alert to the website I case I need some outside support.

I want to say that the show of support outside the Courthouse on Thursday as I was "transported" is so cherished by me. The broad organizational representation was breathtaking and the love and politics expressed the anger too) will keep me nourished through this.

Organize - Agitate, Agitate, Agitate! And write to me and others locked down by the Evil Empire.

Love Struggle, Lynne Stewart


Lynne Stewart in Jail!

For further information contact: Jeff Mackler, Coordinator, West Coast Lynne Stewart Defense Committee 510-268-9429
Mail tax free contributions payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation. Write in memo box: "Lynne Stewart Defense." Mail to: Lynne Stewart Defense, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610.



U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Department of Justice Main Switchboard - 202-514-2000
Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line - 202-353-1555

To send Lynne a letter, write:
Lynne Stewart
150 Park Row
New York, NY NY 10007

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


With a New Smile, 'Rage' Fades Away [SINGLE PAYER NOW!!!]

FTA [F**k The Army] Trailer

Jon Stewart: Obama Is Channeling Bush VIDEO)

US anti-war activists protest

Buffy Sainte Marie - No No Keshagesh
[Keshagesh is the Cree word to describe a greedy puppy that wants to keep eating everything, a metaphor for corporate greed]
Buffy Sainte-Marie - No No Keshagesh lyrics:


The Tar Sands Blow
Hi -
I just signed the Tar Sands Blow petition -- and I hope you'll do the same.
The Canadian tar sands produce the dirtiest oil on earth -- including five times the greenhouse gases of conventional oil. World leaders meet next month in Copenhagen to deal with climate change. Sign the petition -- so that we all don't get a raw deal.

The Story of Mouseland: As told by Tommy Douglas in 1944

The Communist Manifesto illustrated by Cartoons



For a donation of only $18.95, we can put a copy of the book "10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military" into a public or high school library of your choice. [Reason number 1: You may be killed]

A letter and bookplate will let readers know that your donation helped make this possible.

Putting a book in either a public or school library ensures that students, parents, and members of the community will have this valuable information when they need it.

Don't have a library you would like us to put it in? We'll find one for you!


This is a must-see video about the life of Oscar Grant, a young man who loved his family and was loved by his family. It's important to watch to understand the tremendous loss felt by his whole family as a result of his cold-blooded murder by BART police officers--Johannes Mehserle being the shooter while the others held Oscar down and handcuffed him to aid Mehserle in the murder of Oscar Grant January 1, 2009.

The family wants to share this video here with you who support justice for Oscar Grant.



Troy Anthony Davis is an African American man who has spent the last 18 years on death row for a murder he did not commit. There is no physical evidence tying him to the crime and seven out of nine witnesses have recanted. New evidence and new testimony have been presented to the Georgia courts, but the justice system refuses to consider this evidence, which would prove Troy Davis' innocence once and for all.

Sign the petition and join the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, and other partners in demanding justice for Troy Davis!

For Now, High Court Punts on Troy Davis, on Death Row for 18 Years
By Ashby Jones
Wall Street Journal Law Blog
June 30, 2009

Take action now:


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

New videos from April 24 Oakland Mumia event

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) Boy, 4, Chooses Long Locks and Is Suspended From Class
January 13, 2010

2) Mumia faces new execution threat!

3) Stand with the people of Haiti!
What the U.S. government isn't telling you
ANSWER Coalition

4) Losing the Internet as We Know It
By Megan Tady
Blog Editor and Video Producer, Free Press
How much have you already used the Internet today?
JANUARY 14, 2010

5) Haiti Devastated by Largest Earthquake in 200 Years
Thousands Feared Dead
By Democracy Now! - January 13, 2010

6) What You're Not Hearing about Haiti (But Should Be)
by Carl Lindskoog
January 14, 2010

7) Sentenced to Abuse
January 15, 2010

8) Cuba Agrees to U.S. Medevac Flights
[Cuba already has over 400 doctors in Haiti and is sending]
January 15, 2010

9) Desperate Haitians Clamour For Aid Days After Quake
"The United States was sending 3,500 soldiers, 300 medical personnel, several ships and 2,200 Marines to Haiti." [Again, Cuba already has over 400 doctors in Haiti]
January 15, 2010

10) Demonstrators Press for Haitian Advocate's Release
January 15, 2010

11) JPMorgan Chase Earns $11.7 Billion in Year
January 16, 2010

12) Inflation Appears in Check, but Spending Power Wanes
January 16, 2010

13) In a Surprise, Retail Sales Fell in December
January 15, 2010

14) High & Low Finance
A Window Opens on Pay for Bosses
January 14, 2010

15) Johnson & Johnson Accused of Drug Kickbacks
January 16, 2010

16) Haiti Struggles to Distribute Aid
"Haitian officials said tens of thousands of victims had already been buried....The World Food Program flights tried to land Thursday and Friday, an official with the agency said. But they were diverted so that the United States could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety. 'There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti,' said Jarry Emmanuel, the air logistics officer for the agency's Haiti effort. 'But most of those flights are for the United States military.' He added: 'Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed. We have got to get those priorities in sync.'...Even as the United States took a leading role in aid efforts, some aid officials were describing misplaced priorities, accusing United States officials of focusing their efforts on getting their people and troops installed and lifting their citizens out."
January 17, 2010

17) Haiti's Lesson
By Fidel Castro Ruz
January 14, 2010


1) Boy, 4, Chooses Long Locks and Is Suspended From Class
January 13, 2010

HOUSTON - A suburban Dallas school district has suspended a 4-year-old from his prekindergarten class because he wears his hair too long and does not want his parents to cut it.

The boy, Taylor Pugh, says he likes his hair long and curly. But on Monday night, the school board in Mesquite voted unanimously to enforce its ban on Beatles haircuts, much less anything approaching coiffures of bands like Led Zeppelin. School officials say the district's dress code serves to limit distractions in the classroom.

No exception could be made for the pint-size rebel, who sat through the hearing with his hair in a ponytail, manifestly bored.

"It's a trade-off," said one board member, Gary Bingham, an insurance agent, in an interview. "Do the parents value his education more than they value a 4-year-old's decision to make his own grooming choices?"

The boy's parents, Delton Pugh and Elizabeth Taylor, have argued that it is unfair to punish Taylor for his longish locks; it suggests, they say, that the district cares more about appearances than education.

"I don't think it's right to hold a child down and force him to do something," Mr. Pugh, a tattoo artist, told The Associated Press. "It's not hurting him or affecting his education."

The parents rejected a compromise proposed by the board under which they would braid his hair and pin it up.

Since Nov. 24, when his principal decreed that Taylor's hair had grown too long, the boy has been sent to the library to study alone with a teacher's aide. "They kicked me out of that place," Taylor told a reporter on Dec. 17. "I miss my friends."

His parents plan to appeal the school board ruling to the state education commissioner. In the meantime, school officials said they would continue to separate Taylor from other children.


2) Mumia faces new execution threat!

Dear Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal,

Below is a critical note from Hans Bennett, co-editor of Free Mumia News and leading advocate for Mumia's freedom. Han's note is followed by a detailed article by Jeff Mackler, Director of the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal in California, on the significance of the U.S. Supreme Court's deliberations in the Ohio case of Smith v. Spisak. The court did rule against Spisak this week and will now hear Pennsylvania's appeal which aims at executing Mumia. The hearing is set for this Friday, January 15. Click on Jeff's attachment or see straight text below for a comprehensive view of the dangers immediately before Mumia when the Supreme Court will hear the arguments of Pennsylvania prosectors to reinstate the death penalty. But first read the note by Hans below.

Finally, The Mobilization to Free Mumia will be announcing an emergency protest in San Francisco in the event of any immediate threat to Mumia's life. Stay tuned for an emergency alert.

In solidarity,

Laura Herrera and Jeff Mackler, Co-coordinators
The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

Funds urgently needed! Mail your check payable to:
Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 10328
Oakland, CA 94610

Urgent note from Hans Bennett:

Yesterday there was a huge development in Mumia's case.

According to a posting yesterday on the US Supreme Court's website, the Court has scheduled a conference for this Friday, January 15, to discuss Mumia's case. Specifically, they are looking at the Philadelphia DA's request to have Mumia executed without a new sentencing hearing. [that is, to proceed to execute Mumia soon after, (60-90 days) PA Governor signs a new warrant for Mumia's execution. JM]

The Supreme Court has apparently been delaying a ruling on the Pennsylvania effort to execute Mumia until it ruled on the Spisak case, which was also released yesterday. In Spisak, the court ruled to reinstate Spisak's death sentence, but it is still unclear what impact this ruling will have. The common thread between Mumia and Spisak is the "Mills" precedent, and the Court yesterday ruled that Spisak's case did not meet the standards of Mills. [See Jeff's article on the relation between Spisak, the Mills case and the threat to Mumia's life.]

This is the link to the Supreme Court posting:


This past March, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Abu-Jamal's appeal for a new guilt-phase trial [thus virtually ending Mumia's effort in the federal courts.] But the Court has yet to rule on whether to hear the appeal made simultaneously by the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, which seeks to execute Abu-Jamal without granting him a new penalty-phase trial.

In March 2008, the Third Circuit Court affirmed Federal District Court Judge William Yohn's 2001 decision "overturning" the death sentence. Citing the 1988 Mills v. Maryland precedent, Yohn had ruled that sentencing forms used by jurors and Judge Albert Sabo's instructions to the jury were potentially confusing, and that therefore jurors could have mistakenly believed that they had to unanimously agree on any mitigating circumstances in order to consider them as weighing against a death sentence.

According to the 2001 ruling, affirmed in 2008, if the DA wants to re-instate the death sentence, the DA must call for a new penalty-phase jury trial. In such a penalty hearing, new evidence of Abu-Jamal's innocence could be presented, but the jury could only choose between execution and a life sentence without parole.

The Pennsylvania DA is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court against this 2008 affirmation of Yohn's ruling. If the court rules in the DA's favor, Abu-Jamal can be executed without benefit of a new sentencing hearing. If the U.S. Supreme Court rules against the DA's appeal, the DA must either accept the life sentence for Abu-Jamal or call for the new sentencing hearing. Meanwhile, Mumia Abu-Jamal has never left his death row cell.

Text of Jeff's article:

Mumia Abu-Jamal faces new execution threat but his freedom is still within reach

After almost 28 years on Pennsylvania's death row and innumerable battles in the U.S. criminal injustice system, innocent political prisoner, journalist and world renowned "Voice of the Voiceless" Mumia Abu-Jamal lost his final appeal on April 6, 2009.

Ignoring it's own historic decision in the 1986 case of Batson v. Kentucky that the systematic and racist exclusion of Blacks from juries voids all guilty verdicts and mandates a new trial, the Court nevertheless refused to hear Mumia's appeal.

In Mumia's 1982 trial presided over by the notorious "hanging judge" Albert Sabo, the prosecutor, Joseph McGill, used 10 or perhaps 11 of his 15 peremptory strikes against Black jurors. But as with virtually all court decisions over the past decades in Mumia's case, the "Mumia Exception," the contorted interpretation of the "law" to reach a predetermined result, was once again applied, with the high court refusing to review the twisted logic of its subordinate bodies thereby allowing Mumia's frame-up murder conviction to stand.

But what has caught the attention of both legal observers and human rights activists even more is the fact that the same court, while refusing to hear Mumia's appeal, chose to delay a ruling on a cross appeal filed by the State of Pennsylvania that seeks Mumia's execution. Pennsylvania prosecutors, twice rejected in their efforts to impose the death penalty on Mumia (in 2001 and 2008), may have found new support in the U.S. Supreme Court.

It appears that the court's delay in ruling on the validity of Mumia's original execution sentence was due to its decision to grant oral arguments in the Ohio case of Smith v. Spisak, a case that might re-write or reinterpret the nation's laws to make it easier to obtain jury verdicts calling for execution. The Court heard Ohio prosecutor's arguments for Spisak's execution on October 13, 2009. A ruling is expected in the year ahead.

Frank Spisak, a neo-Nazis who wore a Hitler mustache to his trial, denounced Jews, and Blacks and confessed in court to three hate crime murders in Ohio, saw his jury-imposed death sentence reversed in the federal courts when his attorney's successfully invoked a 1988 Supreme Court decision in the famous Mills v. Maryland case. Mills requires that in order to find mitigating circumstances sufficient to impose a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, as opposed to the death penalty, the jury's majority decision (as opposed to unanimous decision) on each mitigating circumstance is sufficient. In both Spisak and Mumia's case the presiding trial court judge violated Mills and in essence instructed the juries that unanimity, not a majority vote on each mitigating circumstance was required. As a consequence, federal district courts in both Ohio and in Pennsylvania (in the case of Mumia) overruled the jury's death sentence and ordered a new sentencing hearing and trial where evidence of innocence could be presented but where the jury was bound by the previous jury's guilty finding.

In both cases the prosecution took the cases to U.S. Courts of Appeal and were again rejected. Mills was upheld, thus continuing the staying of the imposed death sentences. In both cases the prosecution, seeking to avoid a new trial in any form, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court demanding execution. An April 7, 2009 article in the Legal Intelligencer, the oldest law journal in the country, had this to say about the Supreme Court's decision to delay a ruling on Pennsylvania's request to re-impose the death penalty on Mumia.

"In both cases, [Spisak and Abu-Jamal] the federal courts' decisions to overturn the death sentences hinged on Mills v. Maryland -- a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision that governs how juries should deliberate during the penalty phase of a capital trial.

"The Mills ruling struck down a Maryland statute that said juries in capital cases must be unanimous on any aggravating or mitigating factor. [Emphasis added].
"The justices declared that unanimity was properly required for any aggravating factor, but that mitigating factors -- those that weigh against imposing a death sentence -- must be handled more liberally, with each juror free to find on his or her own."

The effect of Mills was to make it harder for prosecutors to obtain death sentences in capital cases. The Intelligencer concludes, "The question now before the courts is whether Mills requires that death sentences in other states be overturned if the juries in those states are misled by faulty instructions or sufficiently vague verdict forms to believe that mitigating factors require unanimity." [Emphasis added].

I emphasize the words "other states" because prior to this unexpected turn of events the legal community appeared to agree that Mills applied to all states. That is, if a jury was orally mis-instructed and/or received faulty or unclear verdict forms that implied it needed to be unanimous with regard to mitigating circumstances sufficient to not impose the death penalty, the death penalty was set aside and a new sentencing hearing was ordered.

This is what happened in Mumia's case when Federal District Court Judge William H. Yohn in 2001 employed Mills to set aside the jury's death penalty decision. Yohn gave the State of Pennsylvania 180 days to decide whether or not to retry Mumia at a new sentencing hearing where new evidence of innocence can be presented by Mumia, but where the jury can only decide between execution and life in prison without parole. At this hearing, the jury cannot make a decision regarding guilt. Since then, Pennsylvania officials have effectively stayed Yohn's order by appealing to the higher federal courts.

In deciding to hear Ohio prosecutors' arguments in the Spisak case with regard to Mills the Supreme Court has implied that one of the key issues they will consider centers on the interpretation of the concept of federalism, that is, that the exercise of power in the U.S. is shared in some measure between the federal government and the states. The political pendulum has swung back and forth on this issue. In past decades, the "states' rights" interpretation was employed to justify racist state laws that denied Blacks access to public institutions and facilities. With the rise of the Civil Rights movement federal power was used to compel the elimination of the same racist laws. Justice has been far from blind in racist America. It is applied to the advantage of the working class and the oppressed only to the extent that the relationship of forces, that is, the struggles of the masses, demand it.

Since Mills was decided in the State of Maryland, the would-be Ohio and Pennsylvania executioners argue that based on the laws of their states, Mills cannot be automatically applied to the situation in Ohio where a different set of jury instructions and therefore jury deliberations were involved. Indeed, Ohio prosecutors argued before the Supreme Court on October 13 that Ohio and Pennsylvania were the exception and not the rule and that the norm in other states was to essentially reject a strict interpretation of Mills in favor of various state guidelines regarding jury instructions.

Should this "states' rights" argument be accepted and Mills be effectively constricted, the Supreme Court could then uphold Spisak's death sentence and, with a mere citation to Spisak and the new interpretation of Mills, uphold the Pennsylvania's appeal seeking Mumia's execution.

While most legal observers previously considered a Supreme Court Mills re-interpretation a virtual impossibility, the stage has now been set for such an outcome. The state's longstanding effort to execute Mumia has been given new legal avenues for success with the top court's decision to re-consider the Spisak case.

What the Supreme Court will do, however, is far from clear. It will also consider Spisak's new attorney's argument that his jury trial lawyers were incompetent in essentially arguing during their trial summation that Spisak was essentially an extreme and horrific nut case who barely understood what he was doing. Should the Supreme Court choose to ignore or side-step Pennsylvania's Mills arguments and rule only on the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel, the chances of Mumia's execution recede considerably. The court could also chose to remand the case back to the lower courts to reconsider their previous Mills interpretation in light of the Supreme Court's possible new instructions on this issue. Second guessing the courts in Mumia's 28-year legal sojourn has stumped virtually the entire legal community, or at least those who believe that the laws of the land should be implemented without prejudice to the individual concerned. In virtually every instance, however, this has not been the case; an unending series of legal atrocities have been perpetrated against Mumia that expose the criminal "justice" system for the fraud it is in racist and classist America.

In every sense Mumia's life is on the line as never before. Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell is pledged to sign what could be the third and final warrant for Mumia's execution, a warrant that would likely order that his life be taken by lethal injection. Mumia's supporters around the world and Mumia himself have long known that the battle for his life and freedom would be qualitatively more advanced by the construction of a powerful mass movement in the streets that won the hearts and minds of millions and more than reliance on a court system permeated by its very nature with class and race bias.

The state power's march for Mumia's execution has not been limited to the courts. The 2007 "Murdered by Mumia" book co-authored by Maureen Faulkner, the wife of police officer Daniel Faulkner, who Mumia was falsely convicted of murdering, and rightwing talk radio host, Michael Smerconish, presents an outrageous account of Faulkner's murder. While having little or no basis in the facts of the case the book has nevertheless been used to advance the Fraternal Order of Police's longstanding campaign to execute the "cop killer."

More recently, filmmaker Tigre Hill, with the help of rightwing sponsors, has produced a work scheduled for a debut in Philadelphia in December and later international distribution entitled, "The Barrel of a Gun," wherein ex-Black Panther leader Bobby Seal's rhetoric about "offing the pig," is coupled with rightwinger David Horowitz's assertions that Mumia was merely carrying out Panther policy. The three-minute preview or trailer to "The Barrel of a Gun" theorizes, without a shred of evidence, that Mumia and his brother Billy Cook, literally planned the Faulkner murder, ambush style.

Those unfamiliar with Mumia's background and the facts of the case could only conclude that Mumia was guilty without question. That Mumia had left the disintegrating Panthers more than a decade before his frame-up trial, that he was an award-winning journalist and president of the Association of Black Journalists, a leading reporter/critic of the Philadelphia Police Department, dozens of whose officers were indicted and convicted on Justice Department charges of involvement in drug-running, prostitution, planting and falsification evidence and intimidation of witnesses, was not mentioned.

Today, having exhausted most all legal remedies, Mumia's supporters are engaged in an important campaign to demand a Justice Department civil rights investigation into charges presented by his supporters that demonstrate illegal collusion between Pennsylvania prosecutors and the judiciary. A delegation of Mumia's defenders across the country has planned a November 12 visit to Washington, D.C. where a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder will be sought for this purpose. Thousands of petitions demanding Mumia's freedom obtained across the world will also be presented Holder and to officials of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Similarly, a mass antiwar protest in Washington, D.C.'s Malcolm X Park is set for Saturday, November 7. In addition to the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the Middle East the sponsoring Black is Back Coalition is demanding Mumia's freedom.
In the San Francisco Bay Area the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal is sponsoring a tour with Amnesty International's Death Penalty Abolition Campaign leader Laura Moye. Entitled "Innocent but Facing Execution," the tour will focus on the cases of Mumia, Troy Davis and Kevin Cooper, three innocent frame-up victims of America's racist criminal "justice" system.

These efforts, and more to come, are aimed at winning Mumia's freedom and stopping the State of Pennsylvania's drive to execution. Pennsylvania prosecutors seek to use the Supreme Court to clear the way for a final execution order. They were present while the Supreme Court heard the Ohio arguments in Spisak to reverse Mills.

In this writer's view the last thing Pennsylvania officials desire is to be bound by Judge Yohn's decision that Mumia must be granted a new trial where for the first time in 28 years all the evidence of his innocence and frame-up can be presented. If such a trial were to take place, it is clear that while the jury's decision would be restricted to imposing a sentence of execution or life in prison without possibility of parole, much more would be at stake.

The mere thought of a massive exposure of this frame-up during a new trial strikes fear in the minds of those who have labored so long to keep the truth of Mumia's frame-up from public view. The base corruption of the criminal justice system and its various components would be exposed as never before with unpredictable consequences.

"Law and order aside," murdering innocent people does not sit well with the American people. In the capitalist courts as in life itself nothing is written in stone. The "law" has more than once been "adjusted" in the interests of the oppressed when the price to pay by insisting on its immutability is too costly in terms of doing greater damage to the system as a whole.

Anticipating such a result, Judge Yohn's ruling left Pennsylvania officials a way out. If their effort to have the Supreme Court pave the way for Mumia execution fails, they have a ready-made alternative. They can let the 180-day clock run out on Yohn's order for a new sentencing trial and allow Yohn's other choice to prevail by default, that is, to change the jury's verdict from execution to life without parole.

While the fanatics who seek Mumia's life at any cost might rage for one more chance at his head, those who understand the price to be paid in a new trial's fundamentally undermining the corruption of the system as a whole might choose to avoid awakening additional millions to the nature of the racist and classist criminal injustice system beast.
The fight for Mumia's life and freedom is far from over.


3) Stand with the people of Haiti!
What the U.S. government isn't telling you
ANSWER Coalition

We at the ANSWER Coalition extend our heartfelt solidarity to all of our Haitian sisters and brothers, as well as to all those who have friends and family there, as Haiti copes with the destruction and grief of the massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck yesterday.

All of us are joining in the outpouring of solidarity from people all over the hemisphere and world who are sending humanitarian aid and assistance to the people of Haiti.

At such a moment, it is also important to put this catastrophe into a political and social context. Without this context, it is impossible to understand both the monumental problems facing Haiti and, most importantly, the solutions that can allow Haiti to survive and thrive. Hillary Clinton said today, "It is biblical, the tragedy that continues to daunt Haiti and the Haitian people." This hypocritical statement that blames Haiti's suffering exclusively on an "act of God" masks the role of U.S. and French imperialism in the region.

In this email message, we have included some background information about Haiti that helps establish the real context:

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive stated today that as many as 100,000 Haitians may be dead. International media is reporting bodies being piled along streets surrounded by the rubble from thousands of collapsed buildings. Estimates of the economic damage are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Haiti's large shantytown population was particularly hard hit by the tragedy.

As CNN, ABC and every other major corporate media outlet will be quick to point out, Haiti is the poorest country in the entire Western hemisphere. But not a single word is uttered as to why Haiti is poor. Poverty, unlike earthquakes, is no natural disaster.

The answer lies in more than two centuries of U.S. hostility to the island nation, whose hard-won independence from the French was only the beginning of its struggle for liberation.

In 1804, what had begun as a slave uprising more than a decade earlier culminated in freedom from the grips of French colonialism, making Haiti the first Latin American colony to win its independence and the world's first Black republic. Prior to the victory of the Haitian people, George Washington and then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had supported France out of fear that Haiti would inspire uprisings among the U.S. slave population. The U.S. slave-owning aristocracy was horrified at Haiti's newly earned freedom.

U.S. interference became an integral part of Haitian history, culminating in a direct military occupation from 1915 to 1934. Through economic and military intervention, Haiti was subjugated as U.S. capital developed a railroad and acquired plantations. In a gesture of colonial arrogance, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the assistant secretary of the Navy at the time, drafted a constitution for Haiti which, among other things, allowed foreigners to own land. U.S. officials would later find an accommodation with the dictator François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, and then his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, as Haiti suffered under their brutal repressive policies.

In the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. policy toward Haiti sought the reorganization of the Haitian economy to better serve the interests of foreign capital. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was instrumental in shifting Haitian agriculture away from grain production, paving the way for dependence on food imports. Ruined Haitian farmers flocked to the cities in search of a livelihood, resulting in the swelling of the precarious shantytowns found in Port-au-Prince and other urban centers.

Who has benefited from these policies? U.S. food producers profited from increased exports to Haitian markets. Foreign corporations that had set up shop in Haitian cities benefitted from the super-exploitation of cheap labor flowing from the countryside. But for the people of Haiti, there was only greater misery and destitution.

Washington orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide-not once, but twice, in 1991 and 2004. Haiti has been under a U.S.-backed U.N. occupation for nearly six years. Aristide did not earn the animosity of U.S. leaders for his moderate reforms; he earned it when he garnered support among Haiti's poor, which crystallized into a mass popular movement. Two hundred years on, U.S. officials are still horrified by the prospect of a truly independent Haiti.

The unstable, makeshift dwellings imposed upon Haitians by Washington's neoliberal policies have now, for many, been turned into graves. Those same policies are to blame for the lack of hospitals, ambulances, fire trucks, rescue equipment, food and medicine. The blow dealt by such a natural disaster to an economy made so fragile from decades of plundering will greatly magnify the suffering of the Haitian people.

Natural disasters are inevitable, but resource allocation and planning can play a decisive role in mitigating their impact and dealing with the aftermath. Haiti and neighboring Cuba, who are no strangers to violent tropical storms, were both hit hard in 2008 by a series of hurricanes-which, unlike earthquakes, are predictable. While more than 800 lives were lost in Haiti, less than 10 people died in Cuba. Unlike Haiti, Cuba had a coordinated evacuation plan and post-hurricane rescue efforts that were centrally planned by the Cuban government. This was only possible because Cuban society is not organized according to the needs of foreign capital, but rather according to the needs of the Cuban people.

In a televised speech earlier today, President Obama has announced that USAID and the Departments of State and Defense will be working to support the rescue and relief efforts in Haiti in the coming days. Ironically, these are the same government entities responsible for the implementation of the economic and military policies that reduced Haiti to ruins even before the earthquake hit.

The ANSWER Coalition has called for a mass national march and rally in Washington, D.C., on March 20 to oppose the wars and occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. We will also demand an end the foreign occupation of Haiti and reparations to Haiti for the vast wealth that has been looted from the country by foreign imperialist countries.

Help build the March 20 March on Washington!


4) Losing the Internet as We Know It
By Megan Tady
Blog Editor and Video Producer, Free Press
How much have you already used the Internet today?
JANUARY 14, 2010

We don't think twice about how much we rely on the Internet. Imagine not being able to map directions on Google or check the weather online. A business that doesn't have a Web site? Forgettable. Or rather, unsearchable. Remember when we didn't have e-mail? Would you want to go back to those Dark Ages? Me neither.

The Internet is in the very fabric of how we communicate, learn, shop, conduct business, organize, innovate and engage. If we lost it, we'd be lost.

But did you know that we're at risk of losing the Internet as we know it? Millions of Americans don't know that a battle over the future of the Internet is being played out right now in Washington. How it ends will have deep repercussions for decades to come.

On one side are public interest and consumer groups, small businesses, Internet entrepreneurs, librarians, civil libertarians and civil rights groups who want to preserve the Internet as it is - the last remaining open communications platform where anyone with access and a computer can create and consume online content.

Right now a film student in Idaho can upload a video the same way a Hollywood movie studio can. A small upstart company can launch a brilliant idea that challenges the Fortune 500. An independent journalist can break a story without waiting for a newspaper to run or print it.

The principle of "Network Neutrality" is what makes this open communications possible. Net Neutrality is what allows us to go wherever we want online. Our relationship with the phone and cable companies stops when we pay for our Internet service. These companies can not block, control or interfere with what we search for or create online; nor can they prioritize some content over others -making the Hollywood video load faster than the kid's video in Idaho.

On the other side are the Internet service providers, who want to dismantle Net Neutrality. Not only do they want to provide Internet service, but they want to be able to charge users to prioritize their content, effectively giving themselves the ability to choose which content on the Web loads fast, slow or not at all. The film student, the small entrepreneur, and the independent journalist will be lost in the ether, unable to compete with other, more established companies who can pay for a spot in the fast lane.

Gone is the level playing field. Gone is the multitude of voices on the Web. Gone is the Internet as we know it - unless we act now.

The Federal Communications Commission is crafting new Net Neutrality rules right now. The public has until Thursday at midnight to tell the FCC what we value about the Internet, and why we want the agency to create a strong Net Neutrality rule to protect it.

I'm filing my comments today, and I have to admit, it's a little tough-not because I'm at a loss for words, but because there's so much to say.

I'm filing because:

· An open Internet gives me freedom of expression - freedom to write and share my views and the freedom to find alternative viewpoints;

· I want other, smarter people to come up with the next Google, the next YouTube, the next Web application that I can't even imagine;

· I want to read about people and cultures that are different from me;

· Mainstream media make me scream expletives, and I use the Internet to find alternative sources of news and information;

· I want to e-mail my boyfriend a link to a picture that reminds me of our last vacation;

· Net Neutrality means I don't need anyone's permission to create my own videos, and media execs aren't determining what's funny - we are;

· I come up with potential million-dollar ideas all the time, and some day, I just might start my own business;

· An open Internet feeds the activist in me, allowing me to engage with my community and organize for social change online;

· It's winter and I'd rather shop online, only I still want to support a local business;

· I needed advice on how to prime and paint a room, and found a video online that taught me how to do it; and,

· I don't want to be censored.

This is why I'm filing. Why are you? If you care about how the Internet impacts and boosts your life, and if you care about how the Internet could evolve in years to come, it's essential that you tell the FCC by Thursday.


5) Haiti Devastated by Largest Earthquake in 200 Years
Thousands Feared Dead
By Democracy Now! - January 13, 2010

Haiti has been devastated by a massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake, the largest to strike the Caribbean nation in more than two centuries. Buildings have collapsed. Fires rage in the streets. The extent of the disaster is still unknown, but there are fears thousands of people may have died and tens of thousands homeless. We get the latest on Haiti, a country rocked by natural as well as political crises. We speak with journalist Kim Ives of Haiti Liberté and Haitian American novelist Edwidge Danticat, her family at the epicenter of the quake.

Haiti Devastated by Largest Earthquake in 200 Years
Thousands Feared Dead
By Democracy Now! - January 13, 2010

Haiti has been devastated by a massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake, the largest to strike the Caribbean nation in more than two centuries. Buildings have collapsed. Fires rage in the streets. The extent of the disaster is still unknown, but there are fears thousands of people may have died and tens of thousands homeless. We get the latest on Haiti, a country rocked by natural as well as political crises. We speak with journalist Kim Ives of Haiti Liberté and Haitian American novelist Edwidge Danticat, her family at the epicenter of the quake.

Sky News Report

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: The Caribbean nation of Haiti has been devastated by a massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake, causing what's being described as a catastrophe of major proportions.

The extent of the disaster is still unclear, but there are fears thousands of people may have died and tens of thousands lost their homes. In the capital Port-au-Prince, a city of two million people, thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed, including hospitals, schools and hotels. The United Nations headquarters was also reported to be severely damaged, and many of its staff are reported missing.

The earthquake struck about ten miles southwest of the capital at around 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. It was the strongest earthquake to hit Haiti in more than two centuries. It was followed by at least twenty-seven aftershocks, the largest two of which were 5.9 and 5.5 in magnitude. The quake prompted a tsunami alert for parts of the Caribbean that was later cancelled.

For hours after the quake, the air was filled with a choking dust from the debris of fallen buildings. People were heard screaming for help throughout the city. A Food for the Poor charity worker in Port-au-Prince told Reuters, quote, "There are people running, crying, screaming. People are trying to dig victims out with flashlights. I think hundreds of casualties would be a serious understatement."

AMY GOODMAN: The historic National Palace has also been severely damaged. President René Préval and his wife are both reported to be alive. A number of nations, including the US, Britain, Venezuela and other Latin American countries, are gearing up to send aid.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and has suffered a number of recent disasters, including four hurricanes and storms in 2008 that killed hundreds.

Kim Ives is with us here. He's a journalist with the newspaper Haiti Liberté. He's joining us here in our studios in New York.

Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian American novelist. Her books include Brother, I'm Dying. It tells the story of her uncle dying in immigration detention in Miami. She joins us from Miami. We want to go now to Edwidge.

We welcome you. Our condolences on your country and what it is going through right now. Can you start off by telling us what you have heard from your own family in Haiti?

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Thank you so much, Amy. Thank you for the opportunity to be here.

I have heard very little from my own family, who is-the relatives that I have in Port-au-Prince. I have not heard-we've not heard from any one of our family members in Carrefour or in Bel Air. So we're just watching sort of the news footage and trying to piece together, you know, things approximately where they are there. So we've had no contact.

The good news is, we've had some contact with our family that's outside of Port-au-Prince. We spoke last night to my mother-in-law, who's in Cavaillon, which is outside of Les Cayes. And even as we were speaking to her about 10:30, she kept saying, "The ground is shaking, the ground is shaking." But she was fine, and her neighbors were fine. They did not have any damage there. But it's a very different and frightening picture in Port-au-Prince, for we have not had news there.

AMY GOODMAN: Kim Ives, you've got your computer on the table. You've been following tweets as we've begun this show. What are you learning about what's happening now in Port-au-Prince, which many are saying has been leveled?

KIM IVES: Yes, it's apocalyptic. This is definitely the greatest tragedy that has befallen a tragedy-beset country. It's just unimaginable, the destruction-the roads, buildings, houses. And one has to think, I mean, so much of the construction is done in just concrete without any steel rebar reinforcement. Last year a school collapsed just by itself. And so, you can imagine, with a 7.0 earthquake, what's happening.

AMY GOODMAN: That school was in Pétionville-

KIM IVES: That's correct.

AMY GOODMAN: -which is in a wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince up on a hill. And that's where they said yesterday the first hospital collapsed.

KIM IVES: Yes, I think many of the buildings in that area, especially in the hilly areas where, you know, houses, like in much of Latin America, in many of the cities, are built in giant bowls of houses on top of each other. And last night, most of the radio stations in Haiti were out of commission, but there was an internet television that was on. People were calling into that, and people were describing firsthand how houses had fallen on their house, and their family had been killed inside.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And what do you understand is the scope of the devastation? It is very hard to get reports from the ground right now, but we've heard the UN building was severely damaged, and so was the National Palace. But also, thousands of buildings have reportedly been damaged or collapsed.

KIM IVES: Well, the Hotel Christopher, which is where the UN mission to stabilize Haiti, the UN occupation force, was headquartered, collapsed. The Montana Hotel, which was the principal foreign journalist hotel up in Pétionville, collapsed. The palace collapsed, the general hospital. The cathedral, the roof fell off it. I mean, this is-these are a century of architecture-two centuries has just been wiped out in this disaster.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: There's also been a report that the UN security chief has been killed. It was just breaking on Al Jazeera before we went to air today.

KIM IVES: I didn't hear that, but I know dozens and dozens of UN workers are missing. And Jacmel was also very severely hit. We heard from some contacts in Jacmel that total devastation there. Again, that's just on the backside of the earthquake, which was right in the rim of mountains between Port-au-Prince and Jacmel.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And describe for viewers and listeners what Port-au-Prince is like. This is a city of two million people. Paint a picture of the city and of Haiti.

KIM IVES: Well, a minimum of two million, probably more like three million. I mean, due to US economic policies over the past three decades, millions of people have been pushed out of the countryside into the cities, where they live in makeshift shacks built up on usually state land along the perimeters of the city. It is usually shacks, you know, cinderblocks, tin, sometimes straw. And they very easily fall down in something like this.

AMY GOODMAN: Edwidge Danticat, Kim just alluded to something more than the natural catastrophe that we're seeing today, which was the very fragile politics of Haiti and what has devastated the country for so long. Could you give us a brief history of your country, founded in 1804, the first black republic in the western hemisphere born of a slave uprising?

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Well, that's a very wonderful place to start on a day like this. Indeed, the first black republic in this hemisphere, one of the first two republics in this hemisphere. But soon after independence, was not recognized by its neighbors, which it nevertheless helped gain, in some cases, their independence in Latin America and helped the US fight here in Savannah, Georgia. And then a series of debt, because it had to pay to France a large amount of money for its independence. And then two US invasion occupations and a series of dictatorships. It's been-you know, before and in the midst of this, you know, deforestation sponsored by outside interests, and just a series of a very painful history.

But-and add to that all the other natural disasters-four storms last year, the tropical storm Jeanne a couple of years ago, which covered the town of Gonaives. But nothing, I think, like today. Nothing-you know, this is something-this is really the big one. This is what-people have talked about this, because we would look at these houses on the hillsides. You would look at some neighborhoods that-like Kim was talking about, with the shacks and the overpopulation in Port-au-Prince, but never imagined this. And add to this some fires that we've seen in the footage that we've seen of Port-au-Prince of the cathedral. You know, I can see parts of my old neighborhood, you know, through this very large veil of fire. So it's really-it's totally unimaginable. It seems like the abyss of a very long and painful history of natural and political disasters.

AMY GOODMAN: Edwidge Danticat is our guest. We're going to come back to her after break, Haitian American novelist, well known for her books. Brother, I'm Dying won the National Book Critics Circle Award. She wrote Krik? Krak! and Breath, Eyes, Memory, as well as other books. Kim Ives is a journalist with the newspaper Haiti Liberté, and he'll be reading us some of the tweets he has been getting from Haiti.

This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. Then, as we talk about the twin catastrophes that rock Haiti-natural and political-we'll move on to the US policy in Haiti and what the United States does with Haitian refugees, like Edwidge Danticat's uncle, who died in custody at the Krome Detention Center in Florida. And then we'll look at the broader picture of immigration in this country. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Edwidge Danticat, the great Haitian American novelist-she's speaking to us from Miami, which has one of the largest Haitian populations in the United States, along with here in New York, especially in Brooklyn. And we're joined from Kim Ives-from Brooklyn, who is a journalist with the newspaper Haiti Liberté.

Kim, can you read us some of the tweets that you're getting right now from Haiti?

KIM IVES: Well, most of the tweets have been coming from Richard Morse, a musician and manager of the Oloffson Hotel, the historic Oloffson Hotel in Port-au-Prince. He has been keeping people abreast, talking about the buildings falling down. "If the Montana Hotel and Hotel Christopher are gone, I don't know where the UN leadership is." That was twenty-eight minutes ago. "Hotel Christopher and Montana are flattened," said from an eyewitness. "Rumors are that Montana has fallen." The Castel Haiti, which is a landmark which was on the mountain right behind the Oloffson, is, according to him, "a pile of rubble."

AMY GOODMAN: As is the UN compound, you were saying, where the UN peacekeepers, mainly Brazilian, were stationed. Is this MINUSTAH?

KIM IVES: The Hotel Christopher, yes. The MINUSTAH was stationed in Hotel Christopher, which has apparently been totally destroyed. He spoke of hearing in the streets, and particularly in Carrefour Feuilles neighborhood, which is right around the Oloffson, people singing and praying loudly in the streets and wailing. The wall of the Oloffson fell down on somebody and killed them. So there have been just thousands-I think it's not a question of thousands; it's how many thousands, and if it's even tens of thousands of people who will have died.

AMY GOODMAN: And the palace is devastated.

KIM IVES: And the-yes, the palace, as you can see, is-they said "damaged," but it's completely going to have to be razed. It's on its knees. It's halfway-the roof-the palace was built by the US Marines about a century ago in 1915, after the original was burned in 1912. And so, this has always been sort of a hallmark of Haiti.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And can you explain why are there UN peacekeepers deployed on the ground? Explain for people. We had the ouster of the democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Where does it stand politically right now in Haiti?

KIM IVES: Well, the UN occupation is extremely unpopular. This was sent in after Aristide was removed by a plot essentially by the US, France and Canada on February 29, 2004. US, France and Canada sent in occupation troops, which remained there for three months. And then they handed off the mission to the UN, as they've done in the past-in 1995, in particular-to the UN to carry out. That's mainly done by the Brazilians, are heading that. But it's extremely unwelcome. People are sick and tired of the millions being spent, having guys riding around in giant tanks pointing guns at them. And, you know, essentially, this is a force to keep the country bottled up. And I don't know what's going to happen now, because the dogs of madness have really-are going to be unleashed by this catastrophe.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: I want to read a statement that was just released by the former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He said, "My wife and I stand with the people of our country and mourn the death and destruction that has befallen Haiti. It is a tragedy that defies expression; a tragedy that compels all people to the highest levels of human compassion and solidarity. From Africa, the ancestral home of Haiti, we send our profoundest condolences and love to the thousands of children, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters worst affected." Where in Africa right now is he speaking from, Kim?

KIM IVES: He's in South Africa, in Johannesburg. And this is one of the things. Aristide is being kept in exile, even now under the Obama administration, being kept out of the hemisphere. Apparently he's gotten tremendous pressure since he went on the radio on November 25th and spoke out against the exclusionary elections that the Haitian government is trying to carry out, where the Lavalas Family party, the country's largest, the party he founded, has been excluded from those elections, along with fourteen other parties.

And now he's stuck in South Africa. He has no passport, which has long since expired. He has no laissez-passer, which he asked for explicitly in that radio address. And he should be invited. In fact, he should be brought back to help heal the country. I mean, the Haitian ambassador to the US, Ray Joseph, who was a participant in the coup d'état, has called for unity. I think if ever there was a moment when the Haitian government could now demonstrate unity, it would be now in allowing Aristide to come back, which has been one of the principal demands of the Haitian people over these past five years.

AMY GOODMAN: When we asked about the history-1915 to '34, 1991, explain the significance of these dates.

KIM IVES: Nineteen fifteen to 1934 was the first US Marine occupation, carried out under Woodrow Wilson, and finally, during the administration of FDR, it was ended. In '91, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was inaugurated and-

AMY GOODMAN: As the first elected president.

KIM IVES: As, yes, the first democratically elected president. Eight months later, he was overthrown by a US CIA-backed coup. He remained three years in exile. They thought the coup could be somehow consolidated. It wasn't. The resistance to it continued during that period. Finally, Clinton was forced to bring in 20,000 US troops, not to stop the coup, really, but to stop a revolution, which was in the making because of that coup.

AMY GOODMAN: Which would lead to immigrants coming into the United States.

KIM IVES: Possibly, yeah. I mean, the immigrants were being forced out by the coup. If there were a revolution in Haiti, maybe the flow would reverse. But the fact is the Clinton administration brought Aristide back as a sort of hostage on the shoulders of 20,000 US troops, and they remained until about 1999.

He was reelected in 2000. They again immediately started a coup when he was inaugurated on February 7, 2001, involving Contras based in the Dominican Republic and diplomatic and economic embargos, and all the-the whole works. They forced him out at gunpoint, essentially. A team of US Navy Seals came in and kidnapped him from his home in Tabarre on February 29th, 2004. And he's been in exile ever since.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And speaking of immigration, what is the status right now of immigrants in this country, Haitian refugees? There was a final act by President Bush before President Obama took office. Explain the situation right now.

KIM IVES: There's been a big push for what's called "temporary protected status," where if a country is struck by a natural disaster or tremendous political upheaval, people can receive a status in this country-it's renewable every six months-where they won't be deported. The Bush administration, as one of its final acts, did not-refused that status for Haitians. Everybody thought that Obama, when he came in, would-

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: How many were affected?

KIM IVES: Thirty thousand. Thirty thousand Haitians are due to be deported, and they are in detention centers, many of them, around the United States. And the Obama administration has never provided that temporary protected status, despite the storms of September 2008. But I think with this disaster, I can't see how they can't.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Edwidge Danticat, how does that treatment compare to others coming into this country?

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Well, soon after Tropical Storm Jeanne covered Gonaives, we had, very soon after that, deportations, and some of them were of people that I knew. So in the first-you know, in this first disaster, which was the biggest natural disaster we had had up to that point, you know, there was no change in the treatment. I'm hoping-I would assume, with all the humanity that there is and political goodwill, one hopes that that won't be the case that people would be deported to this situation. But the policy has been so inconsistent and inhumane that one cannot assume anything, really. But I am hoping that this is something that will be taken into consideration, that this-that people, these people, that these 30,000 people and others would be granted temporary protected status and that people won't be deported. The country needs the leadership. The people need all their-all the help they can get from individuals, as well as Haiti's neighbors. And this is a type of complication, another layer of tragedy, that we would not need.

AMY GOODMAN: All through the night, the cable channels were focusing on what was happening in Haiti, trying to get information, and they were listing relief organizations. Now, we see this in situations all over the world. And the question is, where people give their money, what are the organizations that end up having power on the ground? The United States says that they will also give money. Other countries, I presume, will be also pledging. What about the politics of aid and what you see as the pitfalls and what you see are the tremendous needs that Haiti has right now? Let me put that question to Kim Ives.

KIM IVES: Well, yes, aid has historically in Haiti been extremely pernicious. It has destroyed Haitian agriculture. It's been a real counter to development in the country, development aid. And even humanitarian aid has been often wasted. For instance, during-after the storms of 2008, $197 million was freed from the Petrocaribe accounts, which Venezuela provided Haiti. A lot of questions remain about how that money, that $197 million, was spent. A lot of it seems to have been frittered away into corruption and various other types of embezzlement.

So, yes, there's going to be a tremendous amount of corruption and charlatans flocking to Haiti like flies. And it's important to find good relief agencies. One is the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, HERF, that people can go to the site of and find out more about that. And that is a place people can donate. But, yes, we can expect terrible things to be happening in the aid front in the coming weeks.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And also, Kim Ives, the issue of food. We saw last year a food crisis around the world in early 2009. Haiti was one of the worst hit by that food crisis. There were reports of people eating mud for-because of starvation. Explain the issue of food and also how the United States affected the food supply in Haiti.

KIM IVES: Well, yeah. Essentially, Haiti was self-sufficient thirty years ago in its production of food, particularly rice. And since the fall of the Duvalier regime, it has really been opened up. The neoliberal regime, one of its principal demands is the lowering of tariff barriers, so that rice grown in Arkansas and Texas and Louisiana can be dumped on the country, which has effectively destroyed the rice farmers of the Artibonite Valley, leaving Haiti now required to import almost 80 percent of its food. So foreign aid has essentially destroyed Haitian food self-sufficiency.

AMY GOODMAN: And then the poverty that that leads to, the deforestation of the mountains. Having spent-gone to Haiti a number of times, people going up into the mountains to make charcoal, to burn whatever wood they can get, and that leads to the precarious natural situation, where you have an earthquake or a hurricane and the mudslides that-from Pétionville down, right?

KIM IVES: Exactly.

AMY GOODMAN: That make the crisis much worse.

KIM IVES: Exactly. And, Amy, just in the days before this, there was a lot of rain. So a lot of this is mudslides. I mean, the ground was already saturated with water, so it was extremely unstable. And I think that made the collapses even more terrible.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we're going to continue to cover this story, of course. It's expected at least three million of the ten million people of Haiti have been seriously affected by this. Disaster specialists say various mathematical models for an earthquake of such a magnitude predict that perhaps 4,000 people could have been killed. We don't know.

But right now we're going to turn back to what we touched on earlier, and it's the issue of immigration. And we want to turn back to Edwidge to tell us the story of her uncle. You may wonder why we're talking about this today, but Haiti has been the epicenter of natural and political crises, and particularly affected by its powerful neighbor to the north, the United States. Edwidge, what happened to your uncle over five years ago?

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Before that, Amy, I would just like to-you know, on the issue of aid, I feel that it's-you know, there will be corruption and so forth, but I don't want to discourage people who would like to give. There are some wonderful organizations that are already working within Haiti, organizations like Dr. Paul Farmer's Partners in Health and the Lambi Fund and Doctors Without Borders. So I don't want, sort of in the more political talk, to discourage people from giving, because in whatever-or to try to help in whatever way they can, because it's going to be extraordinarily needed.

On-that being said, on the-my uncle's story, it's very ironic. I've been thinking about my uncle throughout this whole issue, because I'm not even sure now that the building where he lived and where he did all of his work is still standing. He was-he lived in Bel Air, which, as one of the-someone had said, is just shattered and broken right now, for more than fifty years, and in 2004, because of a threat by gangs there, had to leave. And he had been coming to the United States for about thirty years, on and off, visiting. And after this incident at his house with a confrontation with a gang, he was-he came to Miami, where-here where I live, and he requested temporary-he called temporary asylum. He was arrested and brought to jail at the Krome Detention Center. He was eighty-one years old, a cancer survivor who spoke with a voice box. And his medications were taken away, and he died a few days later in the custody of the immigration service.

AMY GOODMAN: He died at the Krome Detention Center, his medication taken away.

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Oh, he died at-mm-hmm, well, he died in the hospital. He was taken finally to Jackson Memorial Hospital, after he was accused of faking his illness. When finally it seemed like-it seemed like he was near death, they took him to the hospital.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And Edwidge Danticat, also you write about this in your book Brother, I'm Dying, the difficulty of getting information and just dealing with immigration bureaucracy, trying to get information about your uncle, and also what happened after his death. They gave you the body with no-they performed an autopsy and gave you very little information of what actually happened. Can you talk about that?

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Well, they basically-while he was in the hospital, he was attached to, chained to a bed, shackled to a bed, in the prison ward of the hospital. We were not allowed to see him there. And even when he died, we tried to confirm that he had died. And the night that he died, someone had called me to say that, and I called the immigration-I called the hospital, and they said, "No, you have to call to the immigration service." And we weren't told officially that he died until the following morning. And then we were basically-they performed an autopsy and gave-said that he died of chronic pancreatitis. And he had never had pancreatitis, much less chronic. And we were just given the corpse and told "Good luck."

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Edwidge, we're going to talk more about the overall issue of immigration in this country and what is happening in our immigration detention jails. I shouldn't say "ours," because so many of them are private. We want to thank Kim Ives for being with us, of Haiti Liberté, joining us here in New York. Edwidge Danticat is staying with us to the end of the show, the Haitian American novelist whose books include Breath, Eyes, Memory, Krik? Krak!, Brother, I'm Dying about her uncle who died in custody here in the United States as he appealed for asylum and for the drugs that he was used to taking.


6) What You're Not Hearing about Haiti (But Should Be)
by Carl Lindskoog
January 14, 2010

In the hours following Haiti's devastating earthquake, CNN, the New York Times and other major news sources adopted a common interpretation for the severe destruction: the 7.0 earthquake was so devastating because it struck an urban area that was extremely over-populated and extremely poor. Houses "built on top of each other" and constructed by the poor people themselves made for a fragile city. And the country's many years of underdevelopment and political turmoil made the Haitian government ill-prepared to respond to such a disaster.

True enough. But that's not the whole story. What's missing is any explanation of why there are so many Haitians living in and around Port-au-Prince and why so many of them are forced to survive on so little. Indeed, even when an explanation is ventured, it is often outrageously false such as a former U.S. diplomat's testimony on CNN that Port-au-Prince's overpopulation was due to the fact that Haitians, like most Third World people, know nothing of birth control.

It may startle news-hungry Americans to learn that these conditions the American media correctly attributes to magnifying the impact of this tremendous disaster were largely the product of American policies and an American-led development model.

From 1957-1971 Haitians lived under the dark shadow of "Papa Doc" Duvalier, a brutal dictator who enjoyed U.S. backing because he was seen by Americans as a reliable anti-Communist. After his death, Duvalier's son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" became President-for-life at the age of 19 and he ruled Haiti until he was finally overthrown in 1986. It was in the 1970s and 1980s that Baby Doc and the United States government and business community worked together to put Haiti and Haiti's capitol city on track to become what it was on January 12, 2010.

After the coronation of Baby Doc, American planners inside and outside the U.S. government initiated their plan to transform Haiti into the "Taiwan of the Caribbean." This small, poor country situated conveniently close to the United States was instructed to abandon its agricultural past and develop a robust, export-oriented manufacturing sector. This, Duvalier and his allies were told, was the way toward modernization and economic development.

From the standpoint of the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Haiti was the perfect candidate for this neoliberal facelift. The entrenched poverty of the Haitian masses could be used to force them into low-paying jobs sewing baseballs and assembling other products.

But USAID had plans for the countryside too. Not only were Haiti's cities to become exporting bases but so was the countryside, with Haitian agriculture also reshaped along the lines of export-oriented, market-based production. To accomplish this USAID, along with urban industrialists and large landholders, worked to create agro-processing facilities, even while they increased their practice of dumping surplus agricultural products from the U.S. on the Haitian people.

This "aid" from the Americans, along with the structural changes in the countryside predictably forced Haitian peasants who could no longer survive to migrate to the cities, especially Port-au-Prince where the new manufacturing jobs were supposed to be. However, when they got there they found there weren't nearly enough manufacturing jobs go around. The city became more and more crowded. Slum areas expanded. And to meet the housing needs of the displaced peasants, quickly and cheaply constructed housing was put up, sometimes placing houses right "on top of each other."

Before too long, however, American planners and Haitian elites decided that perhaps their development model didn't work so well in Haiti and they abandoned it. The consequences of these American-led changes remain, however.

When on the afternoon and evening of January 12, 2010 Haiti experienced that horrible earthquake and round after round of aftershock the destruction was, no doubt, greatly worsened by the very real over-crowding and poverty of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas. But shocked Americans can do more than shake their heads and, with pity, make a donation. They can confront their own country's responsibility for the conditions in Port-au-Prince that magnified the earthquake's impact, and they can acknowledge America's role in keeping Haiti from achieving meaningful development. To accept the incomplete story of Haiti offered by CNN and the New York Times is to blame Haitians for being the victims of a scheme that was not of their own making. As John Milton wrote, "they who have put out the people's eyes, reproach them of their blindness."

Carl Lindskoog is a New York City-based activist and historian completing a doctoral degree at the City University of New York. You can contact him at


7) Sentenced to Abuse
January 15, 2010

The Justice Department needs to act swiftly and decisively to protect young people who are being battered and raped in juvenile corrections facilities all across the country. A shocking new study by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics surveyed more than 9,000 young people in custody and found that 12 percent reported being sexually abused one or more times, mainly by staff members.

Particularly alarming, the study found several juvenile facilities where 30 percent or more of the young people reported being raped. Some of the institutions with high rates of victimization were in Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.

These latest findings are consistent with those reported in June by a federal commission created by Congress under the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act. The commission, which examined the problem for five years, also outlined a list of sensible policy changes, which the Justice Department has the power to make mandatory for all corrections institutions that accept federal money.

The commission said that corrections facilities must make it easier for victims to report abuse without fear of reprisal and promptly and thoroughly investigate all rape claims. It said that prison employees must be better screened before they are hired, and they must be better trained in how to deal with vulnerable young people.

The commission also called on state corrections agencies to develop written zero-tolerance rules for employees of adult and juvenile facilities - and write those rules into union contracts. Employees must be put on notice that they will be held accountable if they participate in sexual assaults or look the other way when they occur.

The 2003 law gave the United States attorney general until June of this year to evaluate the commission's findings and issue new rape-prevention standards. But juvenile justice advocates worry that the Justice Department will allow state corrections officials to water down those requirements, partly by arguing that they will be too expensive to implement. The department should not allow that to happen. If it does, Congress will have to strengthen the legislation. Zero tolerance for abuse in prisons or juvenile facilities must be the law of the land.


8) Cuba Agrees to U.S. Medevac Flights
[Cuba already has over 400 doctors in Haiti and is sending]
January 15, 2010

WASHINGTON - The United States has struck an agreement with the Cuban government to send medical evacuation flights with victims from the Haiti earthquake through restricted Cuban airspace, an official said, reducing the flight time to Miami by 90 minutes.

Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, said late Thursday that an agreement had been reached with the Cuban military for evacuation flights from the United States Naval Station in Guantánamo Bay to pass through the airspace over Cuba on their way to Florida.

An arrangement already exists between the United States and Cuba permitting violations of airspace for emergency medical flights. But the Guantánamo base commander asked the local commander in Cuba to expand the authority to a standing basis, and Havana agreed, administration officials said.


9) Desperate Haitians Clamour For Aid Days After Quake
"The United States was sending 3,500 soldiers, 300 medical personnel, several ships and 2,200 Marines to Haiti." [Again, Cuba already has over 400 doctors in Haiti]
January 15, 2010

Filed at 12:15 p.m. ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Thousands of people left hurt or homeless in Haiti's earthquake begged for food, water and medical assistance on Friday as the world rushed to deliver aid to survivors before their despair turned to anger.

Tens of thousands are feared dead from Tuesday's massive quake. The Pan American Health Organisation estimated the death toll could be 50,000 to 100,000, higher than previous figures from the Haitian Red Cross, which saw deaths at up to 50,000.

Citizens in the wrecked coastal capital Port-au-Prince spent a third night sleeping out in the open on sidewalks and streets strewn with rubble and scattered decomposing bodies, as aftershocks rippled through the hilly neighbourhoods.

Governments across the world were pouring relief supplies and medical teams into the quake-hit Caribbean state -- already the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. But huge logistical hurdles and the sheer scale of the destruction meant aid was still not reaching hundreds of thousands of victims.

"We have lost everything. We are waiting for death. We have nothing to eat, nowhere to live. We have had no help. No one has come to see us," said quake victim Andres Rosario, speaking at an improvised camp set up by survivors at a rubbish dump in Port-au-Prince.

"No one is helping us. Please bring us water or people will die soon," said another resident Renelde Lamarque, who has opened his home yard to about 500 quake victims in the devastated Fort National neighbourhood.

Raggedly-dressed survivors held out their arms to foreign reporters in the streets, begging for food and water.

Amid fears that local anger and frustration over delays in receiving help could explode into violence, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that aside from some scavenging for supplies and minor looting the security situation on the ground in Haiti remained "pretty good."

"The key is to get the food and the water in there as quickly as possible so that people don't in their desperation turn to violence or lead to the security situation deteriorating," Gates told reporters in Washington. The United States is leading a massive international relief effort.


Police have all but vanished from the streets, and although some Brazilian U.N. peacekeepers were patrolling, there have been reports of sporadic scavenging and some looting.

At one destroyed supermarket scores of people swarmed over the rubble to try to reach the food underneath. Just outside Cite Soleil slum, desperate people crowded around a burst water pipe jostling to drink from the pipe or fill up buckets.

Some survivors, angry over the delay in getting aid, build roadblocks with corpses on Thursday in one part of the city.

Relief workers said some aid was trickling through to people but in haphazard fashion. "Some aid is slowly getting through, but not to many people," said Margaret Aguirre, a senior official with International Medical Corps.

The United States said the arrival of its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson with 19 helicopters on Friday would open a second significant channel to deliver help.

"Up until now we've been delivering assistance through a garden hose but now we are expanding that," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. But Port-au-Prince's airport had limited capacity and the port remained unusable.

At the airport, now under the control of the U.S. military, planes were arriving every 20 minutes, from small to large.

But in streets strewn with rubble, garbage and rotting bodies, most Haitians said they had still received nothing.

"I haven't eaten since the day before yesterday," said Bertilie Francis, 43, who was with her three children.

"We are here by the Grace of God, nobody else," she said.

Health experts say that while dead bodies smell unpleasant, in cases where people have been killed in traumatic accidents and not by contagious diseases such as cholera there is little health risk from even large numbers of decomposing corpses.

Local radio stations were broadcasting messages for people to put their dead out in the street to be picked up by trucks and taken to a mass grave.

On a barren area in the hillsides outside the city, a Reuters reporter found nine recently dug mass graves for victims -- two were already covered up, six had bodies piled inside and a seventh was empty. President Rene Preval has said at least 7,000 quake victims have already been buried.

Aguirre said aid agencies were discussing setting up a central refugee camp to try to group a multitude of victims' settlements springing up all over Port-au-Prince.


"The key is the coordination ... We want to avoid people just running round doing their own thing," she said.

In a sign that international relief efforts cut across ideological differences, communist-led Cuba agreed to let the U.S. military use restricted Cuban air space for medical evacuation flights carrying Haitian earthquake victims, sharply reducing the flight time to Miami, a U.S. official said.

United Nations disaster experts said at least 10 percent of housing in the Haitian capital was destroyed, making about 300,000 homeless, but in some areas 50 percent of buildings were destroyed or badly damaged.

U.N. aid agencies were to launch an emergency appeal for approximately $550 million (338.5 million pounds) on Friday to help survivors.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, which has lost at least 36 of its personnel in the quake, was trying to provide some basic coordination from an office near the airport.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he planned to go to Haiti "very soon"

In the capital overnight, an eerie chorus of hymns, prayers, groans and wails of mourning, mixed with the barking of terrified dogs, echoed over the hilly neighbourhoods.

Bodies lay all around the hilly city, and people covered their noses with cloth to block the stench of death.

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged an initial $100 million for Haiti quake relief and enlisted former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to help raise more, vowing to the Haitian people: "You will not be forsaken."

The United States was sending 3,500 soldiers, 300 medical personnel, several ships and 2,200 Marines to Haiti.

Nations around the world pitched in to send rescue teams with search dogs and heavy equipment, helicopters, tents, water purification units, food, doctors and telecoms teams. But aid distribution was hampered because roads were blocked by rubble and smashed cars and normal communications were cut off.

(Additional reporting by Tom Brown, Kena Betancur and Carlos Barria in Port-au-Prince, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Steve Holland in Washington; writing by Anthony Boadle and Pascal Fletcher; editing by David Storey)


10) Demonstrators Press for Haitian Advocate's Release
January 15, 2010

Against the backdrop of the earthquake in Haiti, dozens of protesters gathered outside a Greenwich Village detention center on Thursday to demand the release of Jean Montrevil, a Haitian immigrant rights advocate and a community leader in New York who has been detained since December while awaiting deportation.

The rally came a week after two other demonstrations for Mr. Montrevil led to the arrests of 19 people, many of them clergy members, who blocked traffic in an effort to step up their pressure on federal authorities and draw more attention to their cause. Organizers said the protests appeared to be the first time in recent years that local immigration demonstrators had turned to civil disobedience.

On Thursday, however, the organizers said they toned down their protest out of respect for the suffering in Haiti and throughout the Haitian diaspora, and temporarily suspended their civil disobedience.

"We plan on using that tactic as we move forward," said Angad Bhalla of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, one of the groups that organized the protests outside the Varick Federal Detention Facility. "But today didn't seem to be the right day to do it."

The protesters have cast Mr. Montrevil, 41, as a symbol of the flaws in the immigration system and of the need for comprehensive reform.

Mr. Montrevil entered the country in 1986 as a legal permanent resident. He was convicted of selling cocaine in 1990, at the age of 21. After 11 years in prison, he was released.

Mr. Montrevil started a van service, married an American woman and became a respected member of the Haitian community in New York, his supporters say. He is the father of four children.

But under immigration laws enacted in 1996, all noncitizens convicted of felonies are subject to deportation. And on Dec. 30, 2009, during Mr. Montrevil's regular weekly check-in with immigration officials as part of a supervised release program for deportable immigrants, he was detained. His lawyer, Joshua E. Bardavid, said the authorities had given no explanation about why they were detaining his client after so many years.

Mr. Montrevil is now in a detention center in York County, Pa. On Wednesday, after the earthquake struck, federal authorities temporarily suspended deportations to Haiti. Mr. Bardavid said he believed that case law dictated that Mr. Montrevil be released until deportations were resumed, and vowed to sue the government if necessary.

On Thursday, protesters argued that immigration laws did not make allowances for Mr. Montrevil's rehabilitation and contributions to the community.

"Why are we sentencing his kids to not having a father?" Mr. Bhalla said, as about 70 demonstrators gathered at the Varick Street detention center. (They chose the jail as a symbol of the detention system, but later Thursday, federal immigration officials announced that they would close the center, in part because it lacked access to open-air recreation.)

Some protesters carried signs that said, "Bring Jean Home," and sang spirituals. Among the group was Mr. Montrevil's wife, Jani, who said she had spoken to her husband almost daily since he was detained last month.

They last spoke on Wednesday evening, she said, and news of the earthquake left him shocked and relieved. Mrs. Montrevil said that her husband was supposed to have been deported within a few days of his detention in December. Had he been sent to Haiti, she said, "he could've been dead."

Mrs. Montrevil added, "I could've been a widow today."

Protest organizers said they would engage in acts of civil disobedience in future protests.

"It attests to a scale-up in the intensity of the movement," said Janis Rosheuvel, director of Families for Freedom, a New York-based organization that lobbies on behalf of people facing deportation. The strategy fits in with a shift in tactics among advocates across the country who are pushing for a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

A group of immigrant students are on a four-month-long trek from Miami to Washington to press the Obama administration to move faster on immigration changes. Other activists have used tactics like a hunger strike and a mass conference call in which 60,000 people heard a proposal to overhaul immigration by Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois. Mr. Gutierrez introduced an immigration bill in the House last month.


11) JPMorgan Chase Earns $11.7 Billion in Year
January 16, 2010

JPMorgan Chase kicked off what is expected to be a robust - and controversial - reporting season for the nation's banks Friday with news that its profit and pay for 2009 soared.

In a remarkable rebound from the depths of the financial crisis, JPMorgan earned $11.7 billion last year, more than double its profit in 2008, and generated record revenue. The bank earned $3.3 billion in the fourth quarter alone.

Those cheery figures were accompanied by news that JPMorgan had earmarked $26.9 billion to compensate its workers, much of which will now be paid out as bonuses. That is up about 18 percent, with employees, on average, earning about $129,000. Workers in JPMorgan's investment bank, on average, earned roughly $380,000 each. Top producers, however, expect to collect multimillion-dollar paychecks.

The strong results - coming a day after the Obama administration, to howls from Wall Street, announced plans to tax big banks to recoup some of the money the government expects to lose from bailing out the financial system - underscored the gaping divide between the financial industry and the many ordinary Americans who are still waiting for an economic recovery. Over the next week or so, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are expected to report similar surges in pay when they release their year-end numbers.

On Wall Street, traders focused on the credit card concerns; JPMorgan's shares were down 1.3 percent.

In a statementon Friday, Jamie Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan, said that he remained cautious about 2010 considering the job and housing markets continue to be weak.

"We don't have visibility much beyond the middle of this year and much will depend the on how the economy behaves," Michael J. Cavanagh, the bank's finance chief, said in a conference call with journalists. Across the industry, analysts expect investment banking revenue to moderate this year and tighter regulations to dampen profit. As consumer and businesses continue to hunker down, lending has also fallen.

Still, just as it did throughout 2009, JPMorgan Chase pulled off a quarterly profit after the strong performance of its investment bank helped offset large losses on mortgages and credit cards. The bank set aside another $1.9 billion to its consumer loan loss reserves - a hefty sum but less than in the prior periods.

That could be a sign that bank executives are more comfortable that the economy may be turning a corner. The bank has now stockpiled more than $32.5 billion to cover future losses.

Mr. Dimon warned the economy was still too fragile to declare that the worst was over but hinted that things might stabilize toward the middle of 2010. "We want to see a real recovery, just in case you have another dip down," he said on a conference call with investors.

However, Mr. Dimon said that his bank had ample capital, and predicted that the "industry will end up being overcapitalized" by the middle or end of this year. Earlier, Mr. Cavanagh said that the bank hoped to restore the dividend to 75 cents or $1 later by the middle of 2010.

Over all, JPMorgan said 2009 net income rose to $11.7 billion, or $2.26 a share. That compares to profit of $5.6 billion, or $1.35 a share, during 2008 when panic gripped the industry. Revenue grew to a record $108.6 billion, up 49 percent.

JPMorgan has emerged from the financial crisis with renewed swagger. Unlike several other banking chiefs, Mr. Dimon has entered 2010 with his reputation relatively unscathed. Indeed, he is regarded both on Wall Street and in Washington as a pillar of the industry. On Wednesday on Capitol Hill, during a hearing of the government panel charged with examining the causes of the financial crisis, Mr. Dimon avoided the grilling given to Lloyd C. Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs. Mr. Dimon was also the only banker to publicly oppose the administration's proposed tax on the largest financial companies.

Moreover, JPMorgan appears have taken advantage of the financial crisis to expand its consumer lending business and vault to the top of the investment banking charts, including a top-flight ranking as a fee-earner. Over all, the investment bank posted a $6.9 billion profit for 2009 after suffering a $1.2 billion loss in 2008 when the bank took huge charges on soured mortgage investments and buyout loans.

The division posted strong trading revenue, though well short of the blow-out profits during the first half of the year when the markets were in constant flux. Business arranging financing for corporations and advised them on deals fell off in the last part of the year, though Mr. Cavanagh said there are signs of a rebound in the first two weeks of January.

As the investment bank's income surged, the amount of money set aside of compensation rose by almost one-third, to about $6.7 billion for 2009. But JPMorgan officials cut of the portion of revenue they put into the bonus pool by almost half from last year.

The division, which employs about 25,000 people, reduced the share of revenue going to the compensation pool, from 40 percent in the first quarter to 37 percent by midyear. That ratio fell to 11 percent in the fourth quarter because of the impact of the British bonus tax and the greater use of stock awards; it was about 33 percent for all of 2009.

Bank officials have said that they needed to reward the firm's standout performance with the need to show restraint to a public outraged over banker pay. Other Wall Street firms may make similarly large adjustments.

Chase's consumer businesses, however, are still hemorrhaging money. Chase Card Services, its big credit card unit, lost $2.23 billion in 2009 and is unlikely to turn a profit this year. Chase retail services eked out a $93 million profit for 2009, though it posted $399 million annual loss in the fourth quarter. To try to stop the bleeding, the bank agreed to temporarily modify about 600,000 mortgages. Only about 89,000 of those adjustments have been made permanent.

Chase's corporate bank, meanwhile, booked a $1.3 billion profit this year, even as it recorded losses on commercial real estate loans. Still, that represents a smaller portion of the bank's overall balance sheet compared to many regional and community lenders. JPMorgan's asset management business and treasury services units each booked similar profits for 2009.


12) Inflation Appears in Check, but Spending Power Wanes
January 16, 2010

Even as interest rates in the United States remain near zero and the government pumps billions into the economy, inflation appears to be largely in check, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Prices on everything from airplane tickets to used cars increased in December, though the overall rise was a modest 0.1 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, which tend to be volatile, the increase was steady at 0.1 percent last month.

Though prices are not rising rapidly, many Americans are seeing their spending power wane: weekly paychecks, adjusted for inflation, fell 1.6 percent last year - the largest decline since 1990 - as employers cut back on hours and reduced salaries, the government said.

Over all, prices in the United States are steadily increasing but by very small amounts. By the end of 2009, prices had jumped 2.7 percent from the previous year.

The meager rise in the Consumer Price Index, a broad gauge of inflation, means Federal Reserve policy makers will probably keep interest rates at their historic lows for the immediate future. The central bank will meet later this month.

"For right now, we don't have to worry about inflation suddenly becoming a big problem," said Nigel Gault, chief United States economist for IHS Global Insight. "It's going to stay quiet."

Many economists believe inflation will not emerge as a threat for some time because of the large amount of excess capacity and high unemployment in the American economy. Across the country, machines sit idle or are running at reduced capacity at many factories.

Capacity utilization - how much of the nation's production capability is being used - remained soft in December.

A separate report released Friday said utilization reached 72 percent, the highest level in a year. Yet that remained far below the historic average of 80.9. Over all, industrial production rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent.

When capacity utilization is low, businesses must keep prices as low in order to compete for the revenue they need to ramp up production levels.

Consumer prices were higher in December partly because of a 2.5 percent increase in prices for used cars and trucks. Economists attributed that rise to a dwindling supply of used cars.

The government's popular "cash-for-clunkers" program last year destroyed hundreds of thousands of old vehicles that might have otherwise ended up on a used car lot. In addition, rental car companies, which typically supply hundreds of thousands of cars to the used vehicle market, have been reluctant to replenish their fleets.

Higher food and energy prices were also a factor in December. The price of food rose 0.2 percent as cereals, baked goods, fruits and vegetables increased. Energy prices were relatively tame, with gasoline prices increasing 0.2 percent after a 6.4 percent increase in November.

Inflation was kept in check by a weak housing market. High vacancy rates and excess supply on the market have brought low rents to many Americans as realtors compete for customers. In December, rents remained unchanged.


13) In a Surprise, Retail Sales Fell in December
January 15, 2010

Retail sales fell unexpectedly in December, the government said Thursday, despite earlier scattered signs that the 2009 holiday shopping season was stronger than expected.

From supermarkets to department stores, sales fell 0.3 percent from November, a decline that economists attributed to a bleak jobs market and a reluctance by consumers to spend freely. Analysts, encouraged by signs that consumers were regaining confidence, had expected sales to rise 0.5 percent.

The tone of the report on Thursday from the Commerce Department was at odds with a stream of data showing that sales in December were up markedly compared with the dreary results of the year before. At department stores, for instance, the latest government data showed that sales fell 1.2 percent compared with December 2008. Early this month, however, Thomson Reuters reported a 2.9 percent increase for retailers in December compared with the previous year.

Economists reconciled the differences by saying that the government's report was a broader measure of the industry and included data from smaller retailers that were probably not in other surveys.

The Commerce Department figures did show strength when compared with the previous year. The report said sales increased 5.4 percent from December 2008, which was during the height of the financial crisis. The government's tally examines a wide range of businesses, including car dealers, grocery stores and bars.

Julia Coronado, senior United States economist at BNP Paribas, called the December report a "modest setback," but she said that sales generally climbed during the last part of 2009.

"This is consumers taking a little bit of a breather after some of that pent-up demand had come forward," Ms. Coronado said. "Consumers are still spending, it's just that they're doing so in a judicious manner."

Sales at electronics stores fell 2.6 percent from the previous month, and they were down 0.7 percent compared with 2008, the report said. In other reports on the holiday shopping season, however, electronics were some of December's best sellers.

Sales at clothing stores declined 0.6 percent from November, and general merchandise stores fell 0.8 percent. Sales at health and personal care stores increased by 0.8 percent.

Excluding care sales, which tend to be volatile, sales were down 0.3 percent from November, falling short of the forecast of a 0.2 percent increase.

The government's figures, which are adjusted to account for the spike in sales during the holiday season, showed that retail sales totaled $353 billion in December. In its report, the government also revised its November data, saying sales were 1.8 percent higher rather than the 1.3 percent it had originally reported.

Joshua Shapiro, chief United States economist for MFR, said the outlook for consumer spending was "terrible," given that the unemployment rate remained at 10 percent and 15.3 million Americans were without work. He said it was difficult to reconcile the November increase with the December drop.

"Today's numbers are a little bit of a dose of reality," Mr. Shapiro said. "The truth is somewhere in between, and I would imagine it's closer to December than November."

In a separate report on Thursday, the Labor Department said the average number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits for the first time over the last four weeks dropped to the lowest level since August 2008. Those numbers offered hope that companies had slowed the pace of layoffs. Still, 444,000 people filed claims last week, an 11,000 increase from the previous week, slightly higher than expected.


14) High & Low Finance
A Window Opens on Pay for Bosses
January 14, 2010

Is it possible that shareholders will finally get a reliable view of what the bosses are getting paid? And that it will come this spring?


There is no doubt that pay consultants are now looking for ways to keep that from being the case, and it would be a risky wager to say they will not succeed. But it appears that new disclosure rules that take effect with this year's proxies will provide the most accurate view ever.

Anger over executive pay, particularly at banks, is high. That may have been one reason the Securities and Exchange Commission moved to improve the rules this year, but it was something that would have needed doing even if business leaders were widely deemed to be geniuses. Shareholders need good information, and the disclosures required by the S.E.C. before made the figures unnecessarily confusing.

There is still one area where companies could play games to make their bosses look less well paid than they really are. That is in the area of performance-based awards, where the payout will depend on how well the executive or the company performs relative to undisclosed goals. A company that wants to do so may be able to obscure just how likely a rich reward is for an executive.

Still, the information will be better than ever before. A particularly important change will make it more likely for shareholders to learn when one executive is given a huge options award. In the past, it was sometimes possible for a company to leave that out of disclosures, since the impact of the grant was spread over several years. Companies could make someone the highest-paid executive in a company for a year but not disclose that to shareholders.

Perhaps the most impressive fact is that the new information will be available this year. Mary L. Schapiro, the S.E.C. chairwoman, decided to fight her way through bureaucratic delays to get the new rule out just in time for this year's proxy season. Under normal S.E.C. procedures, there is little doubt the changes would have been effective a year from now, not this year.

In less than a year, Ms. Schapiro has established a reputation for careful but determined reform, of the commission itself and of the markets it regulates.

She took over a commission whose final Bush-era chairman, Christopher Cox, remains an enigma. Evidently brought in with a mandate to keep things quiet, he did that by doing little unless everyone agreed. By giving a veto to Paul Atkins, a member of the S.E.C. who was basically against regulating Wall Street, he ensured that nothing good would happen.

Enforcement slowed and the morale of the S.E.C.'s staff plunged. The collapses of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers showed that S.E.C. inspections had been close to useless. In the final blow, the exposure of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme made the commission's enforcement staff appear inept at best. There was talk that the S.E.C. might not survive a regulatory restructuring.

Now it looks safe and even effective. It is moving forward with giving shareholders a bigger role in choosing directors, despite howls of pain from corporate chief executives. That idea had been around for years and was almost adopted before Mr. Cox arrived, but there are other areas where the new S.E.C. is pioneering.

One of Ms. Schapiro's most important moves was to establish a division of risk, strategy and financial innovation headed by Henry Hu, a Texas law professor who had written extensively on regulatory issues produced by financial innovation. This week the commission moved to at least reduce the advantages some hedge funds give themselves through rapid access to markets, and it put out a thoughtful request for comments on how such things as high-frequency trading should be regulated.

Writing rules will not be easy, or free of controversy, but the commission appears to have staff now to do the job. It may also help that the enforcement division is getting specialists who will concentrate on certain types of violations.

In contrast to some of the issues involving derivatives and superspeed trading, the disclosure of executive pay had been well debated long before Ms. Schapiro arrived. But the speed of action is still impressive. The S.E.C. proposed the rules in July, and it appears to have carefully weighed comments in changing its proposals without abandoning the goal. The rules were adopted on Dec. 16, a date that seems to have been chosen because it meant the rules could take effect Feb. 28, one day before the first 2010 proxies are due from large companies.

The principal change investors will see is in the summary table for each of the top executives - the chief executive, the chief financial officer and the three other highest-earning executives.

Under a system adopted by the Cox-led commission, the table has done a good job except when it came to equity grants - the most important part of the package for many executives.

That is because it used the amount of pay that was taken as an expense for each executive each year. There were two problems with that. First, it spread options awards over several years based on when the options vested. That meant that an executive could be given a huge options grant, perhaps on hiring, without the company having to disclose it, even if that was the largest pay package the company gave out that year.

The second problem was that accounting for options can produce some strange results. Under some circumstances, the expense can turn negative if the share price plunges. That meant some executives were reported as having worked without pay - even if their salaries were in the millions. In some cases, identical grants to two executives could produce wildly different results if one of the executives was old enough to retire.

The new summary table will count the grants as they are made. If someone gets a mega-grant, he or she is likely to show up in that year's proxy disclosure. If a company chooses not to give options to an executive - perhaps because of poor performance - that will show up with a clarity that was not present before.

The new rules also will require companies to disclose if compensation policies are increasing the risk of the company having to take large losses, as seems to have happened in financial institutions before the crisis. There are unlikely to be many such disclosures, but being forced to think about it could produce needed changes in policies.

The game that is left open for companies to play concerns the valuation of performance-based incentives - ones that will pay off if the company hits certain goals. The value shown in the summary table will be the amount the company thinks is the most probable to be paid. It could even be zero. A footnote will show the maximum value for the executive if everything goes right, but it is the value in the table that is most likely to be noticed.

Auditors will have to sign off on that probable value, but since it relies on forecasts of the future, they are unlikely to challenge even halfway reasonable estimates. Since the exact performance targets are often not disclosed, it will be hard to tell if a company is being excessively conservative in estimating the value.

The summary table, even if it is as good as anyone can design, cannot tell the full story. Much of the value in pay packages comes from restricted stock and stock options, whose ultimate value will be clear only years later. New "claw-back" provisions may mean that this year's grant could vanish next year. Other parts of the proxy will still show the profits executives realize when they cash in those grants, and deserve attention from investors.

Executive compensation is getting more attention this year than it may deserve, stirred by anger over the bonuses paid by banks that would be dead but for government bailouts. At least now we will be in a better position to intelligently discuss how much the pay really was.

Floyd Norris comments on finance and economics in his blog at


15) Johnson & Johnson Accused of Drug Kickbacks
January 16, 2010

Johnson & Johnson paid kickbacks to the nation's largest nursing home pharmacy to increase the number of elderly patients taking the antipsychotic Risperdal and several other medications, according to a complaint filed Friday by the office of the United States attorney in Boston.

The payments violated the federal anti-kickback statute and led Omnicare, a pharmacy company specializing in dispensing drugs to nursing home residents, to submit false claims to Medicaid, the complaint charged.

The government's civil complaint joins a whistle-blower suit against Johnson & Johnson brought by two former employees of Omnicare, which has headquarters in Covington, Ky.

Johnson & Johnson said Friday it was reviewing the complaint and intended to address the government's lawsuit in court. The complaint charges that Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J., and two of its subsidiaries, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems, paid tens of millions of dollars to induce Omnicare to buy and recommend Risperdal for elderly patients as well as the drug maker's prescription pain relievers Duragesic and Ultram, and the antibiotic Levaquin.

The complaint charges that Omnicare's pharmacists engaged in intensive efforts to persuade physicians to prescribe the drugs from 1999 to 2004, a period in which the pharmacy's annual purchase of Johnson & Johnson medications nearly tripled to more than $280 million, from about $100 million. During the same period, the pharmacy's annual purchase of Risperdal rose to more than $100 million, according to the complaint filed in United States District Court in Massachusetts.

"Kickbacks in the nursing home pharmacy context are particularly nefarious," Carmen M. Ortiz, the United States attorney for Massachusetts, said in a statement Friday. In return for Omnicare's efforts, the drug maker allegedly paid the pharmacy company kickbacks in the form of rebates based on the market share of some Johnson & Johnson drugs, sponsorship of Omnicare meetings, grants and payments for Omnicare data, like the prescribing habits of doctors, of the kind that Omnicare had previously provided the drug maker for free, the complaint said.

"When it comes to the sometimes questionable practice of promoting brand-name drugs to doctors and their patients, this case represents the lowest of the low," Senator Herb Kohl, the Wisconsin Democrat who is the chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said in an e-mail message sent Friday in response to a reporter's question. "Nursing home residents comprise a vulnerable population that should be able to trust that their physician's advice is based on medical expertise, not financial self-interest."

Although the events described in the complaint took place several years ago, Mr. Kohl wrote that the aging committee was continuing to investigate the issue of the overuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes.

Johnson & Johnson issued an e-mail statement in response to a reporter's question.

"We believe airing the facts will confirm that our conduct, including rebating programs like those the government now challenges, was lawful and appropriate," the statement said. "We look forward to the opportunity to present our evidence in court."

Omnicare, with a market capitalization of about $3.1 billion, serves more than 1.4 million residents of nursing homes, assisted living and other health care facilities in 47 states and Canada, according to the company's Web site.

Last November, Omnicare paid $98 million to settle civil charges by the government that it had violated the False Claims Act for engaging in kickback schemes with Johnson & Johnson and a smaller drug maker.

The settlement agreement did not include any finding of wrongdoing or any admission of liability by Omnicare, the company said in a statement issued in November. Omnicare denies the contentions of the federal complaint settled last fall and denies any liability related to those contentions, the statement said.

The government has regulations in place to protect nursing home residents from medication mismanagement, like being sedated with psychiatric drugs for the purposes of discipline or convenience. The Department of Health and Human Services requires nursing homes to arrange for an outside consulting pharmacist to review a patient's medication regimen at least once a month.

These outside pharmacists have a duty to report any irregularities to the attending physician; the pharmacists also have the ability to recommend that a physician remove, change or add medications to a patient's drug regimen, the complaint said.

But the government's complaint in the Johnson & Johnson case raises the question of whether some companies have used the consultant pharmacists - the very people entrusted by the government with safeguarding the integrity of nursing home drug prescriptions - for corporate gain.

In this case, according to the complaint, Omnicare's consultant pharmacists worked to increase Risperdal's market share.

"If true, these allegations represent a cynical manipulation of the laws intended to protect nursing home residents, as well as yet another rip-off of the Medicaid program," Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who has investigated the corporate conduct of certain drug makers, said in a statement Friday in response to a reporter's question. "If consultant pharmacists aren't independent, both the patient and the taxpayer lose."

In one company document among the court exhibits, for example, Omnicare said that its efforts generated a record market share high of 55.5 percent for Risperdal in the first quarter of 2000.

"This market share represents Omnicare's ability in persuading physicians to write Risperdal in the areas of behavioral disturbances associated with dementia," the Omnicare document said.

But Risperdal, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, is not specifically approved to treat behavioral problems in elderly people with dementia. In fact, in 2005 the F.D.A. required that the labels of certain antipsychotic drugs, including Risperdal, carry a black box label warning that elderly people with dementia-related psychosis treated with such drugs were at an increased risk of death compared with those taking a placebo.

In the e-mail message to a reporter, Mr. Kohl noted that the government's complaint was not the first charge against a drug company for improperly marketing antipsychotic drugs to aging populations.

Last January, the drug maker Eli Lilly pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and paid $1.415 billion to settle criminal and civil charges that the drug maker had marketed its antipsychotic Zyprexa for the treatment of elderly people with dementia.

The exhibits attached to the complaint depict the efforts of Omnicare and Johnson & Johnson to increase market share for Risperdal against competing antipsychotics like Zyprexa and Seroquel from AstraZeneca.

In an Omnicare letter to Johnson & Johnson in 2001, an executive wrote that the pharmacy planned to spend about $173 million on Johnson & Johnson products.

The executive wrote in capital letters, "We are selling more high-priced drugs (read Risperdal here) for the pharmaceutical industry!!"

A Recall is Expanded

By The Associated Press

Johnson & Johnson expanded a recall of over-the-counter medications on Friday, the second time it had done so in less than a month because of a moldy smell that has made users sick.

The broadening recall includes some batches of regular and extra-strength Tylenol children's Tylenol, eight-hour Tylenol, Tylenol arthritis, Tylenol PM, children's Motrin, Motrin IB, Benadryl Rolaids, Simply Sleep and St. Joseph's aspirin. Caplet and gel tab products sold in the Americas, the United Arab Emirates and Fiji were recalled.

The company's McNeil Consumer Healthcare Products unit recalled some Tylenol Arthritis Caplets in November because of the smell, which caused nausea, stomach pain and diarrhea. A few weeks ago, the company expanded its recall to include Tylenol Arthritis Caplets.

Johnson & Johnson said the smell was caused by small amounts of a chemical associated with the treatment of wooden pallets. The F.D.A. said the chemical could volatilize into the air, and traced it to a plant in Las Piedras, P.R.


16) Haiti Struggles to Distribute Aid
"Haitian officials said tens of thousands of victims had already been buried....The World Food Program flights tried to land Thursday and Friday, an official with the agency said. But they were diverted so that the United States could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety. 'There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti,' said Jarry Emmanuel, the air logistics officer for the agency's Haiti effort. 'But most of those flights are for the United States military.' He added: 'Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed. We have got to get those priorities in sync.'...Even as the United States took a leading role in aid efforts, some aid officials were describing misplaced priorities, accusing United States officials of focusing their efforts on getting their people and troops installed and lifting their citizens out."
January 17, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - As the focus on Saturday began turning away from Haitians lost to those who were spared, a sprawling assembly of international officials and aid workers struggled to fix a troubled relief effort after Tuesday's devastating earthquake.

While countries and relief agencies have showered aid on Haiti, little of it is reaching increasingly desperate Haitians who lack food, clean water or shelter. And across the city, there were reports of intensifying looting and violence, particularly around aid distribution points.

The problems, aid officials say, stem in part from the best of intentions. Countries around the world have responded to Haiti's call for help as never before. And they are flooding the country with supplies and relief workers that its collapsed infrastructure and nonfunctioning government are in no position to handle.

Haitian officials instead are relying on the United States and the United Nations, but coordination is posing a critical challenge, aid workers said. An airport hobbled by only one runway, a ruined port whose main pier splintered into the ocean, roads blocked by rubble, widespread fuel shortages and a lack of drivers to move the aid into the city are compounding the problems.

Across Port-au-Prince, hunger was on the rise. About 1,700 people camped on the grass in front of the prime minister's office compound in the Pétionville neighborhood, pleading for biscuits and water-purification tablets distributed by aid groups. Haitian officials said tens of thousands of victims had already been buried.

President Obama announced Saturday that former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton would lead a national drive to raise money to help the survivors.

"Presidents Bush and Clinton will help the American people to do their part, because responding to disaster is the work of all of us," he said.

Later on Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was to arrive here on a military cargo jet, and was scheduled to meet President René Préval in the afternoon to discuss continuing relief efforts. Her plane was bringing in more aid, including food and water supplies.

Even as the United States took a leading role in aid efforts, some aid officials were describing misplaced priorities, accusing United States officials of focusing their efforts on getting their people and troops installed and lifting their citizens out. The United States is now managing air traffic control at the airport, helicopters are flying relief missions from warships off the coast, and 9,000 to 10,000 troops are expected to arrive by Monday to help with the relief effort.

Four critical days after an earthquake flattened Haiti's capital, the World Food Program was able to land flights of food, medicine and water, desperately needed by tens of thousands of victims.

The World Food Program flights tried to land Thursday and Friday, an official with the agency said. But they were diverted so that the United States could land troops and equipment, and lift Americans and other foreigners to safety.

"There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an incredible amount for a country like Haiti," said Jarry Emmanuel, the air logistics officer for the agency's Haiti effort. "But most of those flights are for the United States military.

He added: "Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed. We have got to get those priorities in sync."

But American relief groups said they were doing all they could. At the American Embassy in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, American rescue teams continued to roll out of the gate. Most of their equipment had arrived, and at any given time, the teams were working on several different piles of rubble throughout the city.

"People need to get the message, we're out, we're doing stuff," said Craig Luecke, a coordinator with the search and rescue team from Fairfax County, Va., who has been tracking American efforts in advance of Mrs. Clinton's arrival here. "My Google Earth map is filled with American activity. They're out 24 hours a day."

Though the numbers are fluid, he said four American teams had helped pulled nearly two dozen survivors from the rubble.

Some aid workers were critical of the United Nations, as well, arguing that the agency had the most on-the-ground experience in Haiti and should be directing efforts better.

But many United Nations employees were killed in the earthquake. And Stephanie Bunker, the spokeswoman for the United Nations humanitarian relief effort, said Saturday that a United Nations logistics team was trying to coordinate with other agencies, and that the peacekeeping forces were trying to clear roads.

Criticism of the United Nations "may reflect people's frustrations with the entire effort because it is such a grueling effort," she said. "It takes a long time for all this stuff to be cleared up and fixed."

She noted that all modes of transportation - air, road and sea - were still limited. Fuel supplies are scant, she said, and a crippling shortage of trucks remains a problem.

Some airplanes, after circling the capital's airport, have been turning back or landing in Santo Domingo, in the neighboring Dominican Republic. Its airfield was growing ever more crowded with diverted flights.

"We're all going crazy," said Nan Buzard, senior director of international response and programs for the American Red Cross. "You don't have any kind of orderly distributions of food, water, shelter, clothing. The planes are in the air, the materials are purchased. It remains a profoundly frustrating situation for everyone."

France complained to the United States that two of its aid planes had been turned away from the airport by the American military, The Associated Press reported Saturday. One plane was carrying a field hospital, Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet said.

Prime Minister Préval urged aid providers to avoid arguments.

"This is an extremely difficult situation," he told The Associated Press. "We must keep our cool to do coordination and not to throw accusations at each other."

Around Port-au-Prince, it was becoming clear on Saturday that even if more trucks came, an acute fuel shortage was at least as serious a problem. At several gas stations, attendants or customers said that even though the stations had fuel left in their tanks, there was no electricity to work the pumps.

Rick Perera, a communications officer at Care, stood at the airport Saturday overseeing staff unloading pallets of water purification tablets - part of his agency's first load of supplies into Haiti.

He said agencies had had trouble identifying and prioritizing where to send assistance. And the communities getting help are largely the ones where humanitarian agencies had long established projects or contacts.

"We have seen some communities organizing themselves," he said. "But most are too overwhelmed, and we want to be careful not to overlook them."

With the logjam at the airport in Port-au-Prince, some aid groups were choosing to drive into the country from the Dominican Republic.

A caravan of eight trucks from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was creeping toward the Haitian border on Saturday morning, carrying medical equipment and aid workers.

The group had originally planned to touch down in Haiti, but the closings and delays at the airport forced them to divert to Santo Domingo and unload their cargo there, said Paul Conneally, a Red Cross spokesman who was traveling with the convoy. Mr. Conneally estimated that the overland route would delay their arrival in Haiti by 12 hours.

"Every minute counts, I know that, but we cannot be on standby to land at Port-au-Prince because it may not be for two or three days," he said. "It's problematic to go across roads, but it's a small price to pay."

Jack Healy contributed reporting from New York, and Simon Romero from Port-au-Prince.


17) Haiti's Lesson
By Fidel Castro Ruz
January 14, 2010

Two days ago, close to 6 in the evening Cuba time, already dark in Haiti due to its geographical location, the TV channels started carrying news that a violent earthquake, --of 7.3 intensity in the Richter scale-had severely shaken Port au Prince. The seismic phenomenon had originated at a tectonic fault in the sea only 9.4 miles from the Haitian capital, a city where 80% of the population lives in fragile houses built with clay and adobe.

The news continued almost uninterrupted for hours. There were no images but it was said that many stouter constructions like public buildings, hospitals, schools and other facilities had also collapsed. I have read that a 7.3 earthquake equals the energy released by the explosion of 400,000 tons of TNT.

The descriptions were dramatic. In the streets, the wounded cried for medical help surrounded by ruins and their families buried under the debris. But, for many hours no one could broadcast any image.

The news took us all by surprise. Rather often we had heard news of hurricanes and large floods in Haiti but we did not know that our neighbor was threatened by a major earthquake. It surfaced now that 200 years ago a major earthquake had hit that city, which at the time was certainly inhabited by a few thousand people.

At midnight there was still no estimate of the number of victims. Senior UN officials and various Heads of Government spoke of the impressive event and announced that they would be sending rescue brigades. Since MINUSTAH -UN international forces- are deployed there some Defense ministers spoke of the possibility of casualties among their personnel.

Actually, it was yesterday morning that sad news started flowing in on the high number of human casualties in the population and even such institutions as the United Nations reported that some of their buildings in that country had collapsed; a word that usually does not say much but that could mean a lot under the circumstances.

For hours increasingly dramatic news of the situation in that country continued to flow uninterrupted with reports of different numbers of deadly victims that depending on which version fluctuated between 30 thousand and 100 thousand. The images are appalling. Obviously, the catastrophic event has been widely reported all over the world and many governments, sincerely moved, are making efforts to cooperate to the extent of their capabilities.

A lot of people are sincerely touched by the tragedy, especially natural unassuming people but perhaps few stop to think on why Haiti is such a poor country and why almost 50 percent of its population depends of family remittances. And in this context, would it not be proper to also analyze the reality leading to the current situation of Haiti and its huge suffering?

It is amazing that no one says a word on the fact that Haiti was the first country where 400 thousand Africans, enslaved and brought to this land by Europeans, rebelled against 30 thousand white owners of sugarcane and coffee plantations and succeeded in making the first great social revolution in our hemisphere. Pages of insurmountable glory were then written there where Napoleon's most outstanding general tasted defeat. Haiti is a complete product of colonialism and imperialism, of more than a century of using its human resources in the hardest labors, of military interventions and the extraction of its wealth.

Such a historic oblivion would not be so grave if it were not because Haiti is an embarrassment in our times, in a world where the exploitation and plundering of the overwhelming majority of people on the planet prevail.

Billions of people in Latin America, Africa and Asia endure similar privation although probably not all of them in such high proportion as Haiti.

No place on earth should be affected by such situations, even though there are tens of thousands of towns and villages in similar and sometimes worse conditions resulting from an unfair economic and political international order imposed worldwide. The world population is not only threatened by natural catastrophes like that of Haiti that is but a pale example of what can happen to the planet with climate change; an issue that was the target of mockery, scorn and deception in Copenhagen.

It is fair to say to every country and institution that have sustained the loss of citizens or members to the natural catastrophe in Haiti that we do not doubt that at this point they will make the greatest effort to save human lives and to alleviate the pain of that long-suffering people. They cannot be blamed for the natural phenomenon that has taken place there even though we disagree with the policy pursued towards Haiti.

But, I must say that I feel it's high time to seek true and real solutions for that fraternal people.

In the area of healthcare and others the Haitian people has received the cooperation of Cuba, even though this is a small and blockaded country. Approximately 400 doctors and healthcare workers are helping the Haitian people free of charge. Our doctors are working every day at 227 of the 337 communes of that country. On the other hand, no less than 400 young Haitians have been graduated as medical doctors in our country. They will now work alongside the reinforcement that traveled there yesterday to save lives in that critical situation. Thus, up to one thousand doctors and healthcare personnel can be mobilized without any special effort; and most are already there willing to cooperate with any other State that wishes to save Haitian lives and rehabilitate the injured.

Another high number of Haitian youths are studying medicine in Cuba.

We also cooperate with the Haitian people in other areas within our capabilities. However, there is no other form of cooperation worthy of the definition but that of struggling in the field of ideas and political action to put an end to the endless tragedy endured by a great number of nations like Haiti.

The head of our medical brigade has informed that "the situation is difficult but we are already saving lives." He said this in a brief message sent a few hours after arriving in Port au Prince yesterday with an additional group of doctors.

Late at night he said that the Cuban doctors and the Haitian doctors graduated at the ELAM (Latin American Medical School) were being deployed in the country. At Port au Prince they had cared for over one thousand patients while urgently commissioning a hospital that had not collapsed and using tents where necessary. They were also preparing to rapidly set up other first-aid centers.

We take wholesome pride in the cooperation that at this tragic hour the Cuban doctors and the young Haitian doctors trained in Cuba are giving their brothers and sisters in Haiti!