Saturday, January 23, 2010




Call 415-821-6545 for leafleting and posting schedule.
Tabling Saturday, January 23, 2:00 P.M., Cortland Ave. at Andover St.

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:






Respect Haiti!
Aid, Not Troops! Life, Not Death, for Haiti!

As the death count rises in Haiti, the effects of a catastrophic natural disaster are compounded - as in Hurricane Katrina - by political failure, by the consequence of generations of U.S. intervention in Haiti. Six years after it forced out the democratic Aristide government, and replaced it with a brutal coup regime, the U.S. is advancing a massive military operation in Haiti. While thousands of American troops amass in Port-au-Prince, thousands of Haitians are dying from lack of water and medicine, starving while food supplies sit on the airport tarmac.

This is a time for aid, not charity; for solidarity, not a calculated U.S. military take-over. Demand accountability of the US government and the United Nations. Demand respect for the resiliency and courage of the Haitian people, and the return President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to his homeland, as the vast majority of Haiti's people demand.


Get the people of Port-au-Prince clean water, food, and medical treatment now
Allow President Aristide to return to Haiti from forced exile in South Africa.
Respect human rights. Do not criminalize a traumatized population that needs aid!


For more information, see:


Black History Month Forum & Benefit for Haiti Relief
Stand with the people of Haiti!
What the U.S. government isn't telling you

Fri. Feb. 5, 7pm
Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St. at 16th St., SF
near 16th St. BART; Wheelchair accessible

Featured speaker: Pierre Labossiere, Haiti Action Committee

Plus, cultural performance and dinner to help raise funds

The people of the world are responding to help alleviate the terrible suffering of the Haitian people after the massive earthquake which struck Jan. 12. We urge everyone who can, to attend this important benefit for the Haitian people. Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee will give an important update on the ongoing crisis.

Why is Haiti the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere? The answer lies in the more than two centuries of U.S. exploitation of--and hostility to--the island nation, whose hard-won independence in 1804 from the French was only the beginning of its struggle for liberation.

Natural disasters are inevitable, but resource allocation and planning can play a decisive role in lessening their impact. But Haiti has been drained of vital resources and income for decades, due to extortionate loans by the U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund and World Bank. These loans enrich the banks while Haitian people die.

Haiti was self-sufficient in rice production until the Clinton administration forced a "free trade" policy on Haiti in the 1990s, and soon U.S. agribusiness began to flood Haiti's markets, displacing thousands of farmers. The chronic malnutrition and poverty is a direct result of U.S. imperialist policy.

President Obama announced that USAID and the Departments of State and Defense will support the rescue and relief efforts in Haiti. Yet, these are the same government bodies responsible for the economic and military policies that reduced Haiti to ruins even before the earthquake hit. We call on the U.S. government to stop deportations of the Haitians from the U.S., and to immediately cancel Haiti's debt, in addition to real assistance for the Haitian people.

$10-20 donation. (no one turned way for lack of funds). All funds collected go to Haiti relief.

Sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition. Co-sponsored by FMLN-N. Calif., Bay Area Latin American Solidarity Coalition, Task Force on the Americas, and others.

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!




Sign the petition. Drop the charges against Alexis Hutchinson!
"...four separate court martial charges have been brought against Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a single parent with a one-year old son, who missed deployment in early November 2009 when her childcare plan fell through at the last moment, due to circumstances beyond her control."

Cuba establishes hospital in Port-au-Prince

Disputes emerge over Haiti aid control


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

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

To: President Barack Obama

WE THE UNDERSIGNED petition you to speak out against the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and all the men, women and children facing execution around the world. This ultimate form of punishment is unacceptable in a civilized society and undermines human dignity. (U.N. General Assembly, Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty, Resolution 62/149, Dec. 18, 2007; reaffirmed, Resolution 63/168, Dec. 18, 2008.)

Mr. Abu-Jamal, a renowned black journalist and author, has been on Pennsylvania's death row for nearly three decades. Even though you do not have direct control over his fate as a state death-row inmate, we ask that you as a moral leader on the world stage call for a global moratorium on the death penalty in his and all capital cases. Mr. Abu-Jamal has become a global symbol, the "Voice of the Voiceless", in the struggle against capital punishment and human-rights abuses. There are over 20,000 awaiting execution around the globe, with over 3,000 on death rows in the United States.

The 1982 trial of Mr. Abu-Jamal was tainted by racism, and occurred in Philadelphia which has a history of police corruption and discrimination. Amnesty International, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, "determined that numerous aspects of this case clearly failed to meet international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings. [T]he interests of justice would best be served by the granting of a new trial to Mumia Abu-Jamal. The trial should fully comply with international standards of justice and should not allow for the reimposition of the death penalty." (A Life In the Balance - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, at 34, Amnesty Int'l, 2000; www.

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


Alert! New Threat To Mumia's Life!
Supreme Court Set To Announce A Decision
On the State Appeal To Reinstate Mumia's Death Sentence
17 January 2010
The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 Oakland CA 94610
(510) 763-2347

Mumia Abu-Jamal, an innocent man on death row and the world's best-known political prisoner, now faces an immediate new threat to his life from the US Supreme Court. The Court ruled last year on Mumia's appeal, by summarily refusing to even consider a reversal of his unjust 1982 murder conviction in a blatantly racist court. And last week, the Supreme Court discussed a cross-appeal by the State of Pennsylvania to reinstate Mumia's death sentence, which had been put on hold by a federal court in 2001. A ruling could be announced as early as Tuesday this week.

It would be an illusion to expect good news. Supporters should stay tuned, and be prepared to participate in actions to free Mumia!

The Vendetta Against Mumia

In making it's flat-out rejection of Mumia's appeal (which it did without making any statement), the Supreme Court had to knowingly violate its own precedent in the 1986 Batson v Kentucky decision. This ruling famously said that purging a jury on the basis of race was unconstitutional. In Mumia's case, at least 10 black jurors were excluded for reasons not applied to their white counterparts. Under Batson, such violations require that the conviction be thrown out!

But this was Mumia Abu-Jamal, the falsely accused "cop killer." And while evidence of his innocence has always been available, along with evidence of the corruption of the cops who framed him, Mumia is the object of a world-wide vendetta led by the Fraternal Order of Police and numerous pundits and politicians. So an exception was made.

The Spisak Case

Meanwhile, the 2001 federal district court decision (besides upholding Mumia's conviction) said that Mumia's death sentence resulted from improper instructions to the jury. The trial judge's instructions to the jury on sentencing had said that a decision had to be unanimous, even on mitigating factors that could result in a sentence of life in prison, instead of death. This violated another Supreme Court precedent, Mills v Maryland, which held that such mitigating factors required only a simple majority.

After tossing out Mumia's appeal in 2009, the Court took it's time on the State's cross-appeal, because another case, Smith v Spisak, dealt with the same issue of jury instructions in sentencing. Frank Spisak is a neo-Nazi who made racist statements in court, wore a Hitler mustache, and confessed to three hate-crime murders in Ohio. The two cases could hardly be more different, yet appeals courts threw out death sentences in both on the basis of the Mills decision. But now, on January 12th, the Supreme Court has reinstated Spisak's death sentence. The decision on Mumia followed shortly thereafter, and the implications are clear. The Spisak decision could open the door to what the cops, courts and ruling class generally want to do most: legally murder Mumia!

The Supreme Court said Mills didn't apply to Spisak for various reasons (that don't seem to apply to Mumia), but the legal ins and outs aren't the point. The point is that the entire legal system is at the service not of the law, but of power in society.

As Mumia Abu-Jamal said in a recent interview, "[Spisak's] case differs from mine substantially, not just in terms of facts, but also in terms of law. But the law is the tool of those in power, so how they use it doesn't depend on the law; it depends on power."
(-Free Speech Radio News, 15 January 2010).

The Question of Innocence!

As an award-winning radical journalist, former Black Panther, and critic of police brutality and malfeasance, Mumia Abu-Jamal is considered an enemy of the state. As such, legal decisions have systematically gone against him, regardless of the law. Batson is only one example of this "Mumia exception."

Manufacturing false confessions, planting evidence, corrupting "witnesses" to say they saw what they didn't see--all of these "illegal" tricks were used against Mumia. The real evidence points to Mumia's innocence, including another man who confessed, witnesses who said Mumia didn't shoot anybody but who were never called to testify, and photos of the crime scene that show that police lied. But very little of this has ever been heard in court.

Rather than follow the "law," the criminal justice system follows a simple rule: "If we want to get you, we will." The US Supreme Court (Herrera v Collins), and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (signed by Bill Clinton in 1996), have effectively said: innocence is no defense!

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal has never thought that calling for a new trial, or appealing to the US Justice Department to right the wrongs that they helped create, were anything more than distractions, getting in the way of a mass, working-class movement to free Mumia.

Mumia is a class-war prisoner, and it will take a class struggle to free him: that was position of longshore workers in the International Longshore and Warehouse
Union (ILWU) when they shut down all the ports on the West Coast in 1999, and headed the march in San Francisco, to free Mumia. Oakland teachers, and teachers in Rio de Janeiro Brazil also took work actions to support Mumia. Only this kind of working-class action, combined with mass mobilizations, can defeat a determined frame-up by cops, courts and politicians. Mumia Abu-Jamal is now in imminent danger of a new execution order, so the need for action is urgent. For workers action to free Mumia!

Stay in touch for demonstration details this week.

Visit our newly-rebuilt and updated web site for background information on Mumia's innocence. See the "What You Can Do Now" page:

- The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 Oakland CA 94610
(510) 763-2347


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,


The Pay at the Top
The compensation research firm Equilar compiled data reflecting pay for 200 chief executives at 198 public companies that filed their annual proxies by March 27 and had revenue of at least $6.3 billion. (Two companies, Motorola and Synnex, had co-C.E.O.'s.) | See a detailed description of the methodology.



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) Journalist Kim Ives on How Western Domination Has Undermined Haiti's Ability to Recover from Natural Devastation
January 20, 2010

2) Haiti: NGO's and Relief Groups Call for Immediate and Widespread Distribution of Water and Other Aid Supplies
Author: Center for Economic and Policy Research
Published on Jan 20, 2010 - 10:32:28 AM

3) Excerpt From: "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11"
By the Congressional Research Service1

4) Nightmare in Haiti: Untreated Illness and Injury
"Another grievance among some health professionals was that the American military was not giving enough of a priority to humanitarian aid. Doctors Without Borders has complained that more than one of its planes carrying vital medical equipment has been kept from landing at the airport here, costing lives...
"We are sending them out with basic instructions," he said. "First, listen to people, let them verbalize their feelings. Second, don't promise them any material aid, because you can't deliver."
January 21, 2010

5) China on Path to Become Second-Largest Economy
January 21, 2010

6) U.S. Envisions a Continuing Civilian Presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan
January 21, 2010

7) Gates Warns of Militant Threat in South Asia
January 21, 2010

8) Jail Protest by Immigrant Detainees Is Broken Up by Agents
January 21, 2010

9) Annual Poll of Freshmen Shows Effect of Recession
January 21, 2010

10) Haiti: New U.S. Military Base?
By Radio Havana Cuba

11) Detainees Will Still Be Held, but Not Tried, Official Says
January 22, 2010

12) China Says U.S. Criticism of Its Internet Policy Harms Ties
January 23, 2010

13) For Israelis, Mixed Feelings on Aid Effort
"The remarkable identification with the victims of the terrible tragedy in distant Haiti only underscores the indifference to the ongoing suffering of the people of Gaza."
January 22, 2010

14) Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear
January 22, 2010

15) U.S. Offers Pakistan Drones to Urge Cooperation
January 22, 2010

16) Thriving Military Recruitment Program Blocked
"So far, 129 recruits have been sworn in as American citizens, Colonel Badoian said, including one dentist whose naturalization was completed in 30 days. Last year Congress gave immigration authorities $5 million for military naturalizations."
January 22, 2010

17) City's Jobless Rate Rises to 10.6%, Exceeding Nation's
January 22, 2010

18) Free Checking Could Go the Way of Banks' Free Toasters
[So, my friends, here it is, the quintessential nature of capitalism. Whatever "fees" the government "enforces" on the banks, rest assured, YOU/WE/ALL - THE POOR - EMPLOYED OR UNEMPLOYED WORKING PEOPLE will pay for it! If they can't steal it from us one way, they'll invent another! What we have to realize is that it's endemic to the economic system of capitalism. They have to keep stealing any and every way they can in order to increase their rate of profit. They're stealing a whole country from the people of Haiti by military force right now. (Marxism 101 - read the first volume of Capital by Karl Marx - it says it all!) ...BW]
Your Money
January 23, 2010

19) They Still Don't Get It
Op-Ed Columnist
January 23, 2010

20) C.I.A. Deaths Prompt Surge in U.S. Drone Strikes
"...Beginning the day after the attack on a C.I.A. base in Khost, Afghanistan, the agency has carried out 11 strikes that have killed about 90 people suspected of being militants..."
January 23, 2010

21) Obstacles to Recovery in Haiti May Prove Daunting Beyond Other Disasters
January 23, 2010

22) Emergency Air Cargo Shipments to Haiti Face High Prices That May Last Awhile
January 23, 2010

23) Jobless Rates Rose in 42 States in November
January 23, 2010

24) "Foreclose the War, Not People's Homes"
By Linden Gawboy
Created 01/16/2010 - 18:11


1) Journalist Kim Ives on How Western Domination Has Undermined Haiti's Ability to Recover from Natural Devastation
January 20, 2010

Shortly after Haiti was hit by a 6.1 aftershock earlier today, Amy Goodman and Kim Ives of Haiti Liberté report from the Port-au-Prince airport. Amy and Kim discuss how centuries of Western domination of Haiti has worsened the impact of the devastating earthquake, from the harsh reaction to Haiti's independence as a republic of free slaves in 1804 to the US-backed overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Ives says, "This quake was precipitated by a political earthquake-with an epicenter in Washington, DC."

ANJALI KAMAT: We're going to go back to Amy Goodman in Port-au-Prince. We reached her just before the broadcast. She was in an open field right next to the airport, where hundreds of relief and rescue workers have set up camp.

AMY GOODMAN: I'm standing here near the airport in Port-au-Prince. I can't exactly say my feet are firmly planted on the ground, because this morning, just about 6:00, here in Port-au-Prince, we were in our room and just getting ready to leave for this broadcast, and the earth started to tremble. The floor, the walls, you feel the shake. It is that moment of just extreme panic when everyone in the house, everyone, starts running for their lives out of the house, making their way through rooms, jumping over-holding whatever it was you were holding at that moment. Outside, people hold each other, they weep, or they just breathe a sigh of relief. Although, not really, because you never know when the next aftershock will happen.

And while our house still stood, what about others? Sometimes the earthquake, which destroyed so much of Haiti, can leave a house standing, but it only takes a lesser aftershock to take it down. So who got hurt this morning? Who was lost in the rubble? These are the questions we have every day.

And as we walk down the streets of Port-au-Prince, seeing the bodies, the smell, the stench of death everywhere. Yesterday the piece that we just brought you, the hospital, across the street, the main pharmacy, where patients, where doctors go to get their drugs, is pancaked, is total rubble. And it was many floors. People were standing by. The way you know perhaps where bodies are buried-a pharmacist, a doctor, a nurse, a patient who had come over, a customer-is you see the flies swarming over areas.

There was a man laying on the street just across from the General Hospital. And then when we looked carefully in the rubble, we could see another's head, and we could see the fingers that-curling over a board, as if the person was trying to get out. This is the face of Haiti.

But right now we're joined by Kim Ives. We've been traveling together. Kim writes for Haiti Liberté, and he has been working with us through this week. He has been living in Haiti for years, in and out, traveling in and out.

Kim, I can't say, "Welcome to Democracy Now!" since you've been with us all through this trip, but welcome to the broadcast of Democracy Now!

KIM IVES: Thanks, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Let's talk about this major catastrophe, this devastation. Now, of course, it's a natural catastrophe, but can you talk about how this catastrophe fits into Haiti? The level of destruction we're seeing today is not just about nature.

KIM IVES: No, not at all. In fact, this earthquake was preceded by a political and economic earthquake with an epicenter 2,000 miles north of here, in Washington, DC, over the past twenty-four years.

We can say, first of all, there was the case of the two coups d'états held in the space of thirteen years, in '91 and 2004, which were backed by the United States. They put in their own client regimes, which the Haitian people chased out of power. But these coups d'états and subsequent occupations, foreign military occupations, in a country whose constitution forbids that, were fundamentally destructive, not just to the national government and its national programs, but also to the local governments or the parliaments, the mayors' offices and also the local assemblies, which would elect a permanent electoral council. That permanent electoral council has never been made-it's a provisional-and hence Préval, and just before the earthquake, was running roughshod over popular democracy by putting his own electoral council in place, provisional, and they were bringing him and his party to domination of the political scene.

AMY GOODMAN: And just to be clear, when you talk about the two coups, the one in 1991, the one in 2004, both were of them were the-led to the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

KIM IVES: Correct.

AMY GOODMAN: And you talked about US involvement with those.

KIM IVES: Right. And Aristide, in both cases, was taken from Haiti, essentially by US forces, both times. The first time he ended up spending it in Washington, but now he's presently in South Africa, where he's been for these past six years.

But along with this political-these political earthquakes carried out by Washington were the economic earthquakes, the US policy that they wanted to see in place, because Aristide's government had a fundamentally nationalist orientation, which was looking to build the national self-sufficiency of the country, but Washington would have none of it. They wanted the nine principal state publicly owned industries privatized, to be sold to US and foreign investors.

So, about twelve years ago under the first administration of René Préval, they privatized the Minoterie d'Haiti and Ciment d'Haiti, the flour mill, the state flour mill, and the state cement company. Now, for flour, obviously, you have a hungry, needy population. You can imagine if the state had a robust flour mill where it could distribute flour to the people so they could have bread. That was sold to a company of which Henry Kissinger was a board member. And very quickly, that flour mill was closed. Haiti now has no flour mill, not private or public.

AMY GOODMAN: Where does it get its flour? This is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

KIM IVES: It has to import it, and a lot of it is coming from the United States.

The other one is-and even more ironic, Amy-is the cement factory. Here is a country which is mostly made of limestone, geologically, and that is the foundation of cement. It is a country which absolutely should and could have a cement company, and did, but it was again privatized and immediately shut down. And they began using the docks of the cement company for importing cement. So when we drive around this country and we see the thousands of cement buildings which are pancaked or collapsed, this is a country which is going to need millions and millions of tons of cement, and it's going to have to now import all of that cement, rather than being able to produce it itself. It could be and should be an exporter of cement, not an importer.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Kim Ives of Haiti Liberté who also just put out another issue of Haiti Liberté here in the aftermath of the earthquake. You talked about the cement company, the flour company, privatization. You know, one of the most painful problems now, especially for the Haitian diaspora, and for people who have, overall, loved ones here in Haiti, is that they haven't been able to find out if they're alive. They haven't been able to communicate with them.

KIM IVES: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: And this goes to the telephone company.

KIM IVES: Exactly. Teleco was the crown jewel of the Haitian state industries. During the first coup d'état, from '91 to '94, it was in fact the revenues from Teleco that sustained the government-in-exile of President Aristide. And now we see today, one week before this earthquake, the telephone company Teleco was privatized. It was sold to a Vietnamese company, Viettel. And if we had in this country a robust, agile, nimble national telephone company, a lot of the problems of communication could have been avoided. Instead, all the communications today are practically in the hands of the three private cell companies, Digicel, Voila and Haitel.

AMY GOODMAN: But those-some people might say, well, if it was just sold a week before, then the fact that it was weak was due to the previous owner.

KIM IVES: No, it was-that's precisely the case. It was the Haitian government who was, in fact, with the leadership of René Préval and his prime ministers, who were undermining and sabotaging. We spoke over the years. I remember, thirteen years ago, we were doing a delegation here to talk to the unionists. That's how long this struggle against privatization has been going. We were speaking to the unionist at the telephone company, at Teleco, a certain Jean Mabou. And Jean Mabou, the union leader, took us to a room where it was filled with new, brand new, modern telecommunications equipments, boards, all sorts of things. He said, "We've got these, and they won't allow us to install them. They are deliberately undermining the state company so they can sell it." And this is the irony, is that you have the fox guarding the chicken coop. And the people are, in that way, undermined in their ownership of their own state companies.

AMY GOODMAN: Kim, you know, unfortunately, at times like these, in global catastrophes, that's when the world pays attention, and in this case, it's attention to Haiti. You started in 1991 with the two coups against Aristide. A very brief thumbnail history of Haiti, going back to 1804, if you will?

KIM IVES: OK, thumbnail-1804, the first and last slave revolution in history, the first black republic in the world, the first independent nation of Latin America, which became the touchstone of all the other revolutions. It wasn't until sixty years later that it was recognized by the government of Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War.

Then, in 1915, US Marines invaded the country and took control of the bank, took control of the government. They stayed there for nineteen years, 'til 1934. After that, they put in place an outfit called the Garde d'Haiti, the Guard of Haiti, which acted as a proxy force to maintain US interests in Haiti. And then that finally gave birth in 1957 to the dictatorship of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier. He became president for life, passed on his title of president for life to his son Jean-Claude Duvalier when he died in 1971.

AMY GOODMAN: And the role of US in that?

KIM IVES: And the US was essentially supporting those governments all the time, for geopolitical reasons. Haiti was the principal bulwark against the eastward push of, quote-unquote, "Communism" coming from neighboring Cuba. And so, therefore, the Duvalier regimes, hugely unpopular, were propped up, given military support by and economic cooperation from the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: A kleptocracy, the dictators getting richer and the people getting poorer?

KIM IVES: Exactly. And then, in 1986, they started to see that this particular paradigm was creating too many Che Guevaras, too many revolutions in Latin America, and they switched over to these facade elections of putting supposedly democratic leaders in, but they were purchased elections.

Haiti was the first country in Latin America to foil this US-engineered election scenario by electing a poor parish priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to the presidency. And at the time of his inauguration on February 7, 1991, he declared the second independence of Haiti, because Haiti was going to become independent of the imperial domination of the United States and France. And they quickly responded with a coup d'état eight months later. He was sent into exile. And again, the earthquake centered in Washington and Paris of the past twenty-four years began.

AMY GOODMAN: So you have the first coup against Aristide. He's kept out for three years. The coup happened under George H.W. Bush, but continued through President Clinton. By the way, one of the major platforms of President Aristide when he first came to power was to increase the minimum wage.

The second time he was elected, in 2004, immediately pushed out, taken out by US military and security, this was a story Democracy Now! listeners and viewers might remember well, because I followed a delegation to the Central African Republic, where he and Mildred Aristide were dumped, were essentially being held. And Maxine Waters, Congress member from Los Angeles, Randall Robinson, founder of TransAfrica, I covered them going to the Central African Republic, and they brought back the Aristides to this hemisphere nearby Jamaica. Ultimately they ended up in South Africa, where they are today. They could not come back to this country. Tremendous pressure from the United States, the officials. It was Secretary of State Colin Powell at the time, Condoleezza Rice, saying he was not to return to this hemisphere.

Now, from exile in South Africa, President Aristide held a news conference. He issued a statement saying he wants to return. I've put this question to a number of people here in Haiti. In Washington, President Obama immediately appointed President Clinton and President George W. Bush to spearhead the fund-raising effort to help the people of Haiti-three presidents, a united front, saying this is not partisan. And so, here in Haiti, the question of Aristide's return now. I mean, the US controls the airport. Prime Minister Préval ceded the control of the airport to the United States. But Aristide has asked to return. What about that image of, not to mention the resources of Prime Minister Préval, prime minister-previous prime minister Aristide-both presidents, rather-standing together and saying, this is beyond politics, we have to rebuild our country?

KIM IVES: Well, that's exactly it. I was standing in front of the General Hospital yesterday after we went through and saw the horrors there, and I was speaking to a crowd of people outside on the corner. And that very question came up. Why can't President Aristide come back? He wants to. He has said so. The government hasn't given or renewed his diplomatic passport, which has expired. They haven't given him a laissez-passer to come to the country. That's all that's needed.

If the government of Barack Obama or any other government wanted to really provide support here, even maybe more than all the C-130s we see offloading not just food and medical supplies, but guns, and lots of them, this would be-to send a plane to South Africa and bring Aristide here, it would create such a tremendous groundswell, a counter earthquake, if you will, of popular hope and pride and victory, that it would go a long way to rebuilding the necessary moral balance needed to weather the storm.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Kim Ives, I want to thank you very much for being with us and ask one last question, and that's about popular organizations in this country. Who has the power here? How are people organizing? This whole issue of security that has been raised over and over again to explain why aid hasn't come from this area-we're in the area of the airport where there is so much aid that has been stockpiled-and gone out to communities, so why the UN has said, for example, Léogâne, epicenter of the earthquake, that they would only come there after they could guarantee security.

KIM IVES: Like you said, Amy, this is the nub of the question. Security is not the issue. We see throughout Haiti the population themselves organizing themselves into popular committees to clean up, to pull out the bodies from the rubble, to build refugee camps, to set up their security for the refugee camps. This is a population which is self-sufficient, and it has been self-sufficient for all these years.

It's not now that a bunch of Marines have to come in with big M-16s and start yelling at them. Watching the scene in front of the General Hospital yesterday said it all. Here were people who were going in and out of the hospital bringing food to their loved ones in there or needing to go to the hospital, and there were a bunch of Marine-of US 82nd Airborne soldiers in front yelling in English at this crowd. They didn't know what they were doing. They were creating more chaos rather than diminishing it. It was a comedy, if it weren't so tragic.

Here is-they had no business being there. Sure, if there's some way where you have an army of bandits, which we haven't seen, on any mass scale going and attacking, maybe you might bring in some guys like that. But right now, people don't need guns. They need gauze, as I think one doctor put it. And this is the essence of-it's just the same way they reacted after Katrina. It's the same way they acted-the victims are what's scary. They're the other. They're black people who, you know, had the only successful slave revolution in history. What could be more threatening?

AMY GOODMAN: And the community organizations in place here?

KIM IVES: Oh, and the community organizations, we saw it the other night up at Matthew 25, where we're staying, the community. A shipload-a truckload of food came in in the middle of the night unannounced. It could have been a melee. The local popular organization, Pity Drop [phon.], was contacted. They immediately mobilized their members. They came out. They set up a perimeter. They set up a cordon. They lined up about 600 people who were staying on the soccer field behind the house, which is also a hospital, and they distributed the food in an orderly, equitable fashion. They were totally sufficient. They didn't need Marines. They didn't need the UN. They didn't need any of these things, which we're being told also in the press and by Hillary Clinton and the foreign ministers that they need. These are things that people can do for themselves and are doing for themselves.

AMY GOODMAN: Kim Ives, thanks very much. Kim Ives writes for Haiti Liberté.


2) Haiti: NGO's and Relief Groups Call for Immediate and Widespread Distribution of Water and Other Aid Supplies
Author: Center for Economic and Policy Research
Published on Jan 20, 2010 - 10:32:28 AM

Washington, D.C. Jan. 20, 2010 - NGO's and policy groups today called for the U.S. government to prioritize aid delivery over military deployment to Haiti, as airdrops of water supplies only just began to get underway, and as the U.S. military continued to prevent planes carrying aid supplies from landing in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, the largest two cities devastated by the earthquake. A USA Today report Tuesday stated that the U.S. had only airlifted 70,000 bottles of water into Port-au-Prince since the earthquake last Tuesday. Three million people are estimated to be in need of water and other aid.

"Right now the U.S. is blocking aid. There should be better coordination so that all actors - other governments, agencies and NGO's - ready to deliver aid are able to do so," said Melinda Miles, founder and Director of Konbit pou Ayiti, an aid and assistance organization based in Haiti.

Established aid groups who have a long history of working in Haiti have suddenly found themselves unable to deliver urgently needed medical, water, and food supplies because the U.S. military will not grant them access to ports and airports. Doctors Without Borders reported yesterday that one of its "plane[s] carrying 12 tons of medical equipment, including drugs, surgical supplies and two dialysis machines, was turned away three times from Port-au-Prince airport since Sunday night." Groups ready to deliver aid to Jacmel - the fourth-largest city in Haiti - were told they would receive no clearance to land there from the U.S. military, even though they already had both aid supplies and the means for distributing them. This aid is only just now beginning to be delivered because of assistance from the Dominican Republic.

Aid groups also report that outside Port-au-Prince, there are places where quake survivors have fled where the infrastructure is capable of receiving airdropped aid. Many of these areas are not being utilized for airdrops, however.

Numerous media reports and statements from officials suggest that U.S. and UN relief teams have delayed aid distribution due to security concerns. Yet Lt. General P.K. Keen, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, reports that there is less violence in Haiti now than there was before the earthquake hit, and Doctor Evan Lyon of Partners in Health stated, "there's also no violence. There is no insecurity," and that the security concerns are being overstated due to "misinformation and rumorsâ€_ and racism."

"The U.S. military needs to prioritize getting clean water and other essential needs to the population," Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said. "The clock is running and the lack of clean water is a serious threat to public health. They have the ability to get water or, where it is useful, water treatment chemicals, to everyone in need - that should be a vastly higher priority than getting thousands of more troops and military equipment on the ground."

Sources who have participated in "cluster group" meetings held by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) report in-fighting and confusion over aid distribution, as different teams point fingers and assign blame for who is responsible for aid delays. Some distribution missions that MINUSTAH had thought to have been completed have yet to occur, the sources say.

Relief teams and NGO workers on the ground in Haiti report that food and water is being directed at large scale camps, but not isolated areas where in some places groups of hundreds of people still await any assistance. Jacmel, near Haiti's Southern coast, has received much less attention from foreign governments, aid groups, or the media - due in part to U.S. denial of aid groups' access into Jacmel. The first team of foreign surgeons arrived in Jacmel yesterday, joining only "3 Haitian doctors and a few Cubans ones for over 2,000 patients" who "are still recovering the injured from the rubble."

About Konbit pou Aytiti (KONPAY): KONPAY was founded in November 2004 in Jacmel, Haiti by Melinda Miles, former co-director of the Quixote Center, and Haitian-American Joe Duplan. Miles and Duplan decided to move to Haiti work there when many were fleeing during the unrest following February 29, 2004, because they felt they could be more effective on the ground. With a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation, KONPAY began distributing emergency assistance to human rights and women's organizations, as well as establishing safe houses in Port-au-Prince.

(c) Copyright


3) Excerpt From: "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11"
By the Congressional Research Service1


Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States has initiated three military operations:

• Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) covering Afghanistan and other Global War on Terror (GWOT) operations ranging from the Philippines to Djibouti that began immediately after the 9/11 attacks and continues;

• Operation Noble Eagle (ONE) providing enhanced security for U.S. military bases and other homeland security that was launched in response to the attacks and continues at a modest level; and

• Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) that began in the fall of 2002 with the buildup of troops for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and continues with counterinsurgency and stability operations.

As the ninth year of operations since the 9/11 attacks begins this October, and troops are being withdrawn in Iraq and increased in Afghanistan, the cost of war is a major concern including the total amount appropriated, the amount for each operation, average monthly spending rates, and the scope and duration of future costs. Information on costs is useful to Congress to assess Department of Defense (DOD) war costs in FY2010, conduct oversight of past war costs, and consider future alternatives for Afghanistan including potential additional increases in troop levels which could offset some of the savings from the ongoing withdrawal from Iraq. This report analyzes war funding for the Defense Department and tracks funding for USAID and VA Medical funding.

Total War Funding Enacted

On June 24, 2009, Congress passed the FY2009 Supplemental (H.R. 2346/P.L. 111-32). On May 5, 2009, the Administration submitted its budget requests for FY2010 which includes $138.6 billion for DOD war costs, State/USAID foreign and diplomatic operations and VA medical care. While the House passed all three appropriation bills in July 2009 before the summer recess-the DOD (H.R. 3326), Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (H.R. 3082), and Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (H.R. 3081), the Senate has not yet acted on its versions. The DOD appropriations bill is expected to be considered in the Senate in late September. In the meantime, the House passed a continuing resolution covering funding for the government through October 31,2009 (H.R. 2918) and the Senate is expected to act this week to give Congress time to complete action on individual appropriation bills.

At the end of June 2009, Congress passed the FY2009 Supplemental (H.R. 2346/P.L. 111-32) which together with the FY2009 bridge fund passed last year (H.R. 2642/P.L. 110-252) provided war funding for the current fiscal year.

Based on DOD estimates and budget submissions, the cumulative total for funds appropriated from the 9/11 attacks through FY2009, total funding enacted to date for DOD, State/USAID and VA for medical costs for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and enhanced security is $944 billion including:

• $683 billion for Iraq; The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11 Congressional Research Service 2

• $227 billion for Afghanistan;

• $29 billion for enhanced security; and

• $5 billion unallocated.

Of this total, 72 percent is for Iraq, 24 percent for Afghanistan, 3 percent for enhanced security and 1 percent unallocated. Almost all of the funding for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) is for Afghanistan.

Some 94 percent of this funding goes to the Department of Defense to cover primarily incremental war related costs, that is, costs that are in addition to normal peacetime activities. These costs include funds to deploy troops and their equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan, to conduct military operations, to provide in-country support at bases, to provide special pay for deployed personnel, and to repair, replace, and upgrade war-worn equipment.

These amounts are in addition to DOD's funding in its baseline or regular budget which covers the costs of regular pay for all military personnel, training activities, running and building facilities on U.S. installations, buying new military equipment, and conducting research to enhance future military capabilities.

Of total war costs, another 5 percent is for foreign and diplomatic activities and less than 1 percent for VA medical for OEF and OIF veterans (see Table 1, Table 2, and Table 3).

Total War Costs if FY2010 Request is Approved

If the Administration's request for $139 billion in war costs is enacted, cumulative appropriations for the Afghan and Iraq wars would reach $1.08 trillion dollars. As the number of troops in Afghanistan rises and those in Iraq falls, reflecting President Obama's decisions in March 2009, the share of overall costs begins to shift to Afghanistan. The $1.08 trillion total includes:

• $706 billion for Iraq (69 percent);

• $300 billion for Afghanistan (28 percent);

• $29 billion for enhanced security (3 percent); and

• $5 billion unallocated DOD costs (1 percent).

In FY2010, annual war costs decline by 8 percent as the total number of deployed troops falls from the peaks reached in FY2008 and FY2009. The peak of 188,000 in-country in Afghanistan and Iraq in FY2008 is about the same troop level as in FY2009 as additional troops for Afghanistan offset initial withdrawals in Iraq.

The $73 billion in war costs for Afghanistan in FY2010 represents a $30 billion or 70 percent increase over FY2008, two years earlier (see Table 1). With that increase, the balance between the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan would shift-with Afghan war costs exceeding that of Iraq for the first time. In FY2008, the cost of Iraq was 75 percent and that of Afghanistan 25 percent. Two years later, Iraq would make up 47 percent and Afghanistan 53 percent of the total.

For later years, the Administration included initial planning estimates of $50 billion for war costs in FY2011- FY2012 in its first budget document.2

Pending FY2010 Request

The Obama Administration's request for $130 billion to cover the cost of DOD operations in Iraq and Afghanistan reflects a review of U.S. strategy for both wars completed in March 2009. As a result of those reviews, the Administration adopted a withdrawal plan for Iraq under which the number of troops in-country would be reduced from about 140,000 in February 2009 to between 35,000 and 50,000 by August 31, 2010, with all U.S. troops slated to be out of Iraq by December 31, 2011, to comply with the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement that went into effect on January 1, 2009.

At the same time, the President decided to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan by 21,000 above the total already approved by former President Bush. With this increase, the number of troops in Afghanistan is expected to reach 68,000 by the end of September 2009 representing a 68 percent increase above the previous year.3 In addition to U.S. troops, NATO nations contribute another 35,000 troops, bringing the total foreign troop level in Afghanistan now to about 102,000.4

President Obama's decisions about troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan were reflected in both the FY2009 Spring Supplemental Appropriations Bill for Overseas Contingencies (H.R. 2346/P.L. 111-32) enacted on June 24, 2009 and in the DOD request for $130 billion to cover FY2010 war costs, which was submitted to Congress with the FY2010 base budget request on May 7, 2009. The FY2010 war request is included in the FY2010 defense authorization and appropriations bills currently before Congress (H.R. 2647/S. 1390 and H.R. 3326).

The number of troops slated for deployment to Afghanistan would not be affected by a budget amendment that President Obama submitted to Congress on August 13, 2009, which proposes to re-allocate $1 billion of DOD's FY2010 war funding request to pay for temporarily adding 22,000 military personnel to the Army over two years. According to the Administration, the adding these troops is intended to reduce stress on the current force by increasing "the number of troops available to deploy while also helping the Army to end the practice of retaining soldiers beyond their period of obligated service," a practice often referred to as "stop-loss."5

1 The complete PDF can be downloaded at:
2 OMB, A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise, 2-26-09, Table S-7;
3 See CRS Report R40682, Troop Levels in the Afghan and Iraq Wars, FY2001-FY2012: Cost and Other Potential Issues, by Amy Belasco.
4 International Security Assistance Force, "Facts and Figures," July 23, 2009;
5 The White House, "Letter Transmitting Department of Defense Budget Amendment," August 13, 2009; Under the Administration's proposal, the cost of these additional Army personnel would be offset by reducing by a total of $1 billion the amounts requested for procurement of certain items including High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, or HMMWVs, Hellfire missiles, and Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, the requirements for which are being reassessed. See DOD, Budget Amendment to the FY2010 President's Budget Request for Overseas Cntingency Operations (OCO), Summary and Explanation of Changes, Exhibits for FY2010, Amended Justification Material, August 2009, p. 3-5;


4) Nightmare in Haiti: Untreated Illness and Injury
"Another grievance among some health professionals was that the American military was not giving enough of a priority to humanitarian aid. Doctors Without Borders has complained that more than one of its planes carrying vital medical equipment has been kept from landing at the airport here, costing lives...
"We are sending them out with basic instructions," he said. "First, listen to people, let them verbalize their feelings. Second, don't promise them any material aid, because you can't deliver."
January 21, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - A strong aftershock rattled Haiti once again on Wednesday, causing even more physical damage and further traumatizing the jittery population. But the authorities said the biggest dangers now facing survivors of last week's major earthquake were untreated wounds and rising disease, not falling debris.

Because of untreated injuries, infectious diseases and dismal sanitary conditions, health workers said that the natural disaster that struck Haiti more than a week ago remained a major medical crisis and that, unless quickly controlled, it would continue to take large numbers of lives in the days and weeks ahead.

"There are still thousands of patients with major fractures, major wounds, that have not been treated yet," said Dr. Eduardo de Marchena, a University of Miami cardiologist who oversaw a tent hospital near the airport where hundreds of severely injured people were being tended. "There are people, many people, who are going to die unless they're treated."

For the seriously ill, the chances of surviving may depend on leaving Haiti entirely. On Wednesday morning, a paramedic rushed up to Dr. de Marchena with news of a newborn who had arrived at another clinic in dire condition. After hearing that the baby could barely breathe, Dr. de Marchena said, "Should I get him airlifted to the United States?"

The paramedic hesitated for a moment, and the doctor said, "Do it." The baby was soon boarded for medical care in Miami.

In the squatter camps now scattered across this capital, there are still people writhing in pain, their injuries bound up by relatives but not yet seen by a doctor eight days after the quake struck. On top of that, the many bodies still in the wreckage increase the risk of diseases spreading, especially, experts say, if there is rain.

Getting food and water to displaced people is also crucial to staving off more deaths, relief workers said. As of Wednesday, the World Food Program reported that it had distributed food to more than 200,000 people, but it acknowledged that it could take as long as a month for relief food to get to the two million or more people in need.

At some of the hospitals and clinics now treating survivors, the conditions are as basic as can be, with vodka to sterilize instruments and health workers going to the market to buy hacksaws for amputations.

At General Hospital in here Port-au-Prince, the water and power are both out, medical supplies are running low and fuel for generators is hard to come by, doctors reported. Other hospitals are even worse off, though, with patients moved outside into the open air.

Still, health experts were arriving in Haiti from Israel, Cuba, Portugal and other countries, many with stocks of medicine and supplies as well as extensive experience in disaster conditions.

And the United States Navy hospital ship Comfort pulled up off the Haitian coast to handle the worst-off patients. A helicopter landing pad was cleared near General Hospital to evacuate the critically injured there.

But integrating all the health professionals into a coherent system will take time. "Nobody knows how many doctors, how many nurses have come to Haiti," said Dr. Henriette Chamouillet, head of the World Health Organization in Haiti. "No one is providing the government with the data it needs."

Another grievance among some health professionals was that the American military was not giving enough of a priority to humanitarian aid. Doctors Without Borders has complained that more than one of its planes carrying vital medical equipment has been kept from landing at the airport here, costing lives.

Despite all the incoming help, Partners in Health, an organization that has been providing health care in Haiti for two decades, estimated that 20,000 Haitians were dying daily from lack of surgery. But that figure was not backed up by other aid organizations in Haiti and appeared to be much higher than other estimates of the continuing death toll from injuries. The W.H.O. said it was just beginning to gather epidemiological data to assess how much the quake's toll, which is still uncertain, might rise.

One of the keys to bolstering the response, said Dr. Paul Farmer, a co-founder of Partners in Health and deputy United Nations envoy to Haiti, was to unify the disparate aid efforts. "Everyone's doing their own thing, and we need to bring them together," he said in an interview.

The continued tremors were not helping the situation. The latest aftershock, which had a magnitude of 6.1, came around 6 a.m. on Wednesday and was centered on Gressier, a village west of Port-au-Prince. The most powerful tremor to hit Haiti since the initial earthquake on Jan. 12, it caused some additional damage to the ravaged capital and surrounding areas, although the United Nations said it was still assessing how much.

At the tented hospital run by Miami doctors, patients were shrieking and trying to squirm out of their cots when the aftershock came. The situation was still more dire at University Hospital, where patients and staff members evacuated the building and many traumatized Haitians feared going back in.

Squatting on the sidewalk in central Port-au-Prince, her thigh bandaged from an injury suffered during the main quake, Ange Toussaint, 55, smiled broadly. "I'm here," she said. "It happened again, and I'm still here. Wow!"

There were some early efforts to address the psychological toll of the earthquake.

At the University of Haiti, which hardly showed any damage, Jean Robert Cheri, a professor of psychology, sent a team of student trauma counselors into the streets.

"We are sending them out with basic instructions," he said. "First, listen to people, let them verbalize their feelings. Second, don't promise them any material aid, because you can't deliver."

Mr. Cheri said that the students' studies had been interrupted for the foreseeable future and that putting their lessons to work would help both them and the country.

"Look, it's not going to be easy because they're traumatized themselves," he said of his students. "I myself am a psychologist who needs therapy. When I go to sleep, I dream of houses falling down."

Deborah Sontag contributed reporting.


5) China on Path to Become Second-Largest Economy
January 21, 2010

BEIJING - China said on Thursday that its economy rose by 10.7 percent in fourth quarter compared with a year ago, as the country continued to surge forward even as many other nations are still trying to punch through the global recession. That was up from a revised growth rate of 9.1 percent in the third quarter.

Over the whole year, the Chinese gross domestic product grew 8.7 percent, surpassing the 8 percent growth-rate benchmark that Chinese leaders assert is necessary to maintain social stability. If China keeps up that growth rate, it will very likely replace Japan as the world's second-largest economy by the end of this year.

The National Bureau of Statistics also announced on Thursday that industrial production in December increased by 18.5 percent and retail sales rose by 17.5 percent. The December consumer price index grew by 1.9 percent and producer price index by 1.7 percent.

The numbers were generally in line with earlier predictions.

Chinese officials are clearly worried about inflation and bubbles, especially in real estate, but the latest economic statistics will no doubt drive the triumphant tone of recent official pronouncements on the Chinese economy.

Much of that commentary has emphasized the contrast between China's relatively successful weathering of the global recession and the severe downturn that still afflicts Western economies, including the United States.

A front-page signed editorial on Jan. 5 in the People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, praised the party for its far-sighted economic policies and lauded the Chinese economic model.

"When the financial crisis forced the neoliberal economic system into a dead end, the shortcomings of the capitalist system were exposed for all to see," the editorial said. "But a China that was pushed to a crossroads proved its 'national capabilities' in taking on a crisis by answering with the advantage of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics."

Economic numbers released on Thursday also showed China's export industry was still responsible for much of its growth. Some Chinese economists have said China must restructure its economy so that it begins to rely more on domestic consumption and less on exports, which are greatly affected by the overall health of the world economy.

Chinese officials remain concerned about inflation, excessive bank lending and loan defaults. In recent weeks, they have acted on several fronts to address those issues.

On Jan. 7, the central bank raised a key interest rate, the first time it had done so in nearly five months. Five days later, regulators ordered state-owned banks to set aside a larger share of their deposits as reserves against failed loans. Investors and analysts had not expected such a move until the second quarter of this year.

On Wednesday, Bank of China ordered its credit officials to halt any new renminbi loans in an attempt to curb overheated fast lending growth in the first few weeks of this month.

Economists said China would move to further tighten bank lending to confront inflationary fears and swelling asset bubbles.

"The first half of 2010 is likely to be characterized by gradual policy tightening, chiefly through administrative measures," Jing Ulrich, director of the China equities and commodities division of J. P. Morgan in Hong Kong, wrote in a report on Thursday. "Concerns about capital inflows and the health of the export sector will limit the scope for interest rate tightening, but we do expect to see a moderation in new bank loans and the use of reserve requirements to manage the volume of money supply."

Other countries, especially the United States, have also said the artificially low value of the renminbi gives China an unfair advantage in exports, and governments will most likely press China much harder this year to strengthen its currency.


6) U.S. Envisions a Continuing Civilian Presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan
January 21, 2010

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration's ambitious civilian push in Pakistan and Afghanistan will keep thousands of Americans in those countries for years - rebuilding Afghan agriculture, rooting out corruption and using the local media to counter anti-American sentiment.

The steps, laid out in a 30-page policy paper to be released Thursday by the State Department, are the most detailed blueprint yet for the civilian part of the administration's strategy in the region.

But the report - much like President Obama's initial proposal for increased numbers of troops in Afghanistan - leaves important questions unanswered, including whether Congress will approve the financing to support such a high level of engagement over the long term, and what role the United States will play in Afghan efforts to draw people away from the Taliban.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is preparing to announce a package of incentives to lure Taliban supporters back into Afghan society. But American officials are skeptical of the Afghan government's talk of trying to reconcile with the Taliban's leaders, especially Mullah Muhammad Omar.

The formal introduction of a civilian strategy reflects the State Department's frustration that this side of policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been largely eclipsed by the Pentagon's enlarged military operation.

"Everyone pays lip service to the fact that the civilian strategy is important, but then no one pays attention to it," said Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who is scheduled to testify on Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In the report, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "Our civilian engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan will endure long after our combat troops come home."

The United States has already tripled the number of civilians in Afghanistan, from 320 early last year to nearly 1,000 now. It plans to add 200 to 300 this year, putting many of those people outside Kabul, the capital, in agricultural projects or in government ministries, where they will serve as advisers.

Persuading farmers to turn away from poppy cultivation has emerged as the top American civilian priority in Afghanistan. The administration wants to reconstitute an agricultural credit bank in Kabul that could make loans to farmers to encourage them to plant fruit, nuts and other alternatives to poppies.

Setting up an agricultural bank would require about $500 million, administration officials said, with $50 million likely to come from the United States and $450 million from other countries.

There are nearly 100 American agricultural experts in Afghanistan, mostly in the south and east. They are helping to build new irrigation systems, picking up on work that Americans performed there in the 1960s.

Still, the big challenges in Afghanistan this year are more legal and political. The United States and Britain are helping the Afghan government set up a major-crimes task force in the Interior Ministry, which is intended to be the government's main agency to crack down on corruption.

The administration also plans to combat anti-American messages carried by Taliban-controlled radio stations. It is hiring David Ensor, a former correspondent for CNN and ABC, to devise what it calls a communications and counterpropaganda campaign. The goal is to substantially reduce "enemy propaganda" by July 2011, when American troops are set to begin withdrawing.

Congress has approved $400 million to pay for the deployment of additional civilians in Afghanistan. But the American ambassador in Kabul, Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired Army lieutenant general, is asking for more, according to officials. General Eikenberry's frustration with budgetary constraints spilled into the open last fall, when cables he sent to the State Department were leaked.

The sketchiest part of the report concerns the reintegration of Taliban followers into Afghan society. This Afghan-led effort will cost $100 million a year over several years, the report says, with the money likely to come from the United States, Britain, Japan and other countries.

But the State Department must obtain approval from the Treasury Department, because the Taliban are classified as a terrorist organization, meaning it cannot be linked to American financial support. Mr. Karzai is still weighing whether to ask the United Nations to remove Mullah Omar's name from a blacklist. Mr. Holbrooke said that the United States opposed that idea.

Mr. Holbrooke was speaking on the way home from a trip to the region. As the administration begins carrying out its policy, he is emerging as the salesman for the strategy, traveling to Europe and the Middle East to drum up support from NATO allies and Persian Gulf states.

Mr. Holbrooke said he was now most concerned about Pakistan, which he thinks is not getting adequate international support. He said he planned to tell lawmakers that he hoped Congress would set aside even more money, beyond the current $7.5 billion in nonmilitary assistance.

"The Europeans are not giving enough aid to Pakistan," he said.


7) Gates Warns of Militant Threat in South Asia
January 21, 2010

NEW DELHI - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned on Wednesday that the interconnected extremist groups on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border were working to destabilize the entire region and that "a victory for one was a victory for all."

Speaking in New Delhi at a news conference after meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and the country's defense and external affairs ministers, Mr. Gates said Taliban groups and other militant organizations operating under the umbrella of Al Qaeda intended to destabilize not only Afghanistan and Pakistan but also India.

Mr. Gates, who was in the middle of a two-day visit to New Delhi, India's capital, said that the groups could provoke conflict between India and Pakistan, and that focusing on only one extremist group for elimination was not the solution.

"It's dangerous to single out any one of these groups and say, 'If we could beat that group that would solve the problem,' because they are in effect a syndicate of terrorist operators," Mr. Gates said. In short, he said, "the success of any one of these groups leads to new capabilities and a new reputation for all."

Mr. Gates said he welcomed India's support in the war in Afghanistan - perhaps including a small role in training Afghan security forces - but implicitly rejected the deployment of any Indian troops in the country because of the reaction of Pakistan.

The two countries, violently carved apart in 1947 at the end of British rule, have fought several wars and harbor deep suspicions of each other. India maintains a large force along its border with Pakistan; militant groups once nurtured by Pakistan's intelligence service have struck at Indian targets, including Mumbai in 2008 and India's embassy in Kabul last year. There is also a festering rivalry over which country controls Kashmir.

India has steadily poured aid and investment into Afghanistan since the toppling of the Taliban in 2001, spending more than $1 billion so far on infrastructure, schools and hospitals. India is working on a new building for the Afghan Parliament as well as a crucial 124-mile road across Nimruz Province that will link Afghanistan, a landlocked country, to an Iranian port.

Some of these projects have been uncontroversial, but Pakistan suspects India of using Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan's western border and resents any threat to its influence in the country.

"Let's be honest with one another here," Mr. Gates said. "There are real suspicions in both India and Pakistan about what the other is doing in Afghanistan. And so I think that focusing each country, focusing its efforts on development, on humanitarian assistance, perhaps in some limited areas of training, but with full transparency toward each other in what they're doing, would help allay these suspicions."

Mr. Gates repeated previous praise for India for its "statesmanship" in response to the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, formerly Bombay, which American and Indian officials have attributed to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group. But Mr. Gates said that India might not show such restraint again.

"I think it is not unreasonable to assume Indian patience would be limited were there to be further attacks," Mr. Gates said.

The defense secretary said that he would talk to Pakistani officials "so they can focus on what has become a real existential threat to Pakistan, these different terrorist groups operating in its territory."

Despite pledges from Pakistan to dismantle militant groups operating on its soil, and the arrest of a handful of operatives, intelligence officials say Lashkar has persisted, even flourished, since the Mumbai attacks, in which 10 Pakistanis killed more than 160 people.

Later Wednesday, Mr. Gates traveled to Agra to tour the Taj Mahal, then returned to New Delhi for a dinner with Indian military officials.

Lydia Polgreen contributed reporting.


8) Jail Protest by Immigrant Detainees Is Broken Up by Agents
January 21, 2010

Agents in riot gear from Immigration and Customs Enforcement tried to break up a hunger strike by detainees at the Varick Federal Detention Center in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday, three detainees at the center said Wednesday in telephone interviews.

Matthew Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, denied that there was "a sustained hunger strike" at Varick, but said immigration agents entered and searched a jail dormitory when detainees complaining about conditions refused to leave it.

A Jamaican detainee in one dorm said "all hell broke loose" after about 100 inmates refused to go to the mess hall on Tuesday morning and gave guards a flier declaring they were on a hunger strike to protest detention policies and practices.

The detainee, who asked that his name not be published for fear of retaliation, said a SWAT team used pepper spray and "beat up" some detainees, took many to segregation cells as punishment and transferred about 17 to immigration jails in other states. The 20 detainees remaining in his dorm were threatened with similar treatment if they continued the hunger strike, he said.

But Mr. Chandler, in a written statement, said, "No pepper spray was used at any time during this search, and any allegations of threat or intimidation are simply untrue."

Two detainees in another dorm said they had seen eight immigration agents in riot gear dragging two detainees from the far side of the jail, while at least eight other detainees were escorted toward the segregation unit.

"After we started the hunger strike yesterday the SWAT team came into the other side," Chao Chen, 36, a chef who is fighting deportation to China, said as his immigration lawyer, Chunyu Jean Wang, translated. "On our side a gentleman from immigration came and told them not to strike."

The third detainee, an architect who said he had been a legal resident for 30 years, gave a similar account, but he would not give his name.

"I don't want to be singled out," he said. "A lot of things are happening in the night - people are being moved secretly."

Last week, the government announced that it would close the Varick jail and transfer all detainees to the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny, N.J., by Feb. 28. The three detainees said that they opposed the transfer, but that the hunger strike was part of a broader protest over detention.

According to the flier, the idea for the hunger strike originated at the Bergen County Jail, one of several in New Jersey where the federal government holds noncitizens while it tries to deport them.

"We are seeking answers from President Obama's administration in immigration reform that he promised," the one-page flier says, asking that detention and deportation be suspended for people with family members who are citizens or legal residents.


9) Annual Poll of Freshmen Shows Effect of Recession
January 21, 2010

The recession hit this year's college freshmen hard, affecting how they chose a school as well as their ability to pay for it, according to an annual nationwide survey released Thursday.

Over all, students were more likely than previous freshmen to have a parent who was unemployed and less likely to have found a job that might help pay for college.

About two-thirds of incoming students said they had "some" or "major" concern about their ability to pay for their education. The percentage of those with "some" concern - 55.4 - was at its highest level since 1971.

The number of students taking out loans was at its highest in nine years, at 53.3 percent.

"We expected that, given what we were seeing last year in the economy, we would see some significant changes in how finances were impacting people's ability to pay," said John H. Pryor, director of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, which conducts the survey.

"What was more surprising," he said, "was that it goes beyond just that into other areas. Everywhere we turned, whether it was how you chose your college or what do you think you are going to do in college, everywhere the finances piece popped out."

The survey, which has been conducted for 44 years, asked about 220,000 incoming students at 297 campuses questions on everything from beer drinking habits and religious and political preferences to anticipated major and life goals. The answers were weighted to represent the 1.4 million full-time first-year students who entered 1,555 colleges and universities nationwide in the fall of 2009. (Each percentage point in the survey reflects the experience of roughly 14,000 students.)

When the survey was done in 2008, as the recession was deepening, researchers were somewhat surprised that the percentage of students taking out loans had not shifted appreciably. That changed this year, with the percentage climbing 3.9 points.

Students reported fewer resources to draw on. The number whose fathers were unemployed - 4.5 percent - was the highest in the history of the survey. The number of students whose mothers were unemployed was higher - 7.9 percent - and at its highest since 1979.

Fewer students reported working as high school seniors - 62.8 percent reported having a job, down from 66.4 percent in 2008 and 69.3 percent in 2007. "What all this points to is that they are going to be graduating with a larger debt burden than students in the past," Mr. Pryor said.

Students were more likely than ever before to weigh financial factors in choosing a college: 41.6 percent of students reported that the cost of their school was a "very important" reason for choosing it, the highest number since the survey asked the question. And 44.7 percent said that an offer of financial aid from the school had been a very important reason for attending, up from 39.4 percent in 2007.

About 9 percent of students said they chose their college because their first choice did not offer them financial aid - the highest since that question was asked in 1984.

And students seemed acutely aware of value when choosing a college. The factor most often cited for choosing a school was that its graduates got good jobs - 56.5 percent said this was "very important," the highest rate since the question was asked in 1985.

However, their ideas on where the good jobs are may be changing: the number of students saying they expected a career in business had dropped to 12.1 percent, the lowest since 1976.


10) Haiti: New U.S. Military Base?
By Radio Havana Cuba

The U.S. government is making full opportunistic use of the tragedy caused by the earthquake in Haiti. The white house forced the local government to agree to fill their country with U.S. Marines and troops of the 82nd Airborne Division, in an operation which has nothing to do with humanitarian assistance but with military occupation.

Thus, the streets of Port au Prince, full of rubble and with a bewildered population with infinite needs, are scenes of a large deployment of U.S. soldiers armed to the teeth more common in a military conflict than in a humanitarian catastrophe.

The gardens of the ruined National Palace, seat of the Haitian government and symbol of sovereignty, suffered the ígnominy of being used as a landing strip for helicopters which, instead of bringing aid to the thousands of survivors crowded around the palace, have started to occupy the center of the city, after taking control of the airport.

Some people must have noticed the repetition of the events of 1914 when, with the pretext of protecting U.S. citizens allegedly threatened by a popular uprising, the U.S. troops landed in Port-au-Prince after fierce bombings and remained there for 19 years.

The middle-aged and youngest people should remember the two most recent invasions in 1994 and 2004. In both cases the United States employed the argument that the intérnal instability of the country was threatening international security.

This time Washington used the earthquake as a pretext to complete its strategic control in the Caribbean.

The U.S. military forces in Haiti are already comprised of 13,000 troops. They are supported by the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, the Underwood and Normandy warships, with the capacity of launching cruise míssiles, as well as the Bataan helicopter carrier. Of course, they are not part of the U.N.contingent or belong to the Mission for the Stabilization in Haiti, the MINUSTAH.

The United States with the Haiti under its control would be closing a strategic square of the entíre Caribbean Sea. This square would be formed at both western ends by Haiti, and the illegal naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in the east by the facilities in Aruba and Curacao, and Colombia.

Remember that in the islands under Dutch control, the Pentagon maintains the constant presence of 300 men with combat capability, as well as five F-15 or F-16 planes, three reconnaissance aircrafts, a flying radar Awac type with continental scope, and maritime control devices.

Colombia has allowed itself to be turned into a giant U.S. aircraft carrier after the military agreement which betrays any spirit of peaceful Latin American coexistence, and places loaded missiles aiming at its neighbors, including Venezuela, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil and Nicaragua.

To all this armed capacity, the Pentagon has added four facilities in Panama, a radar station in Costa Rica, a military base in Soto Cano or Palmerola, Honduras, another military base in Ilopango, El Salvador, and the ones in Puerto Rico.

If we imagine the Caribbean as a huge diamond, we realize that it is full of U.S. troops from north to south and from east to west. This presence is not in for nothing, it is a real threat to all our peoples, particularly to those where the struggle for freedom is so advanced.

The United States is a genetically aggressive and expansionist nation. This isn't anything new for us. It was predicted by our founding fathers who wisely warned us about the need of uniting together, of standing our ground and not to give in to the enormous danger this military power represents for our life and our dignity.

Taken from Radio Havana Cuba


11) Detainees Will Still Be Held, but Not Tried, Official Says
January 22, 2010

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release, an administration official said on Thursday.

However, the administration has decided that nearly 40 other detainees should be prosecuted for terrorism or related war crimes. And the remaining prisoners, about 110 men, should be repatriated or transferred to other countries for possible release, the official said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the numbers.

There are just under 200 detainees left at the detention center.

President Obama established the task force shortly after his inauguration last year as part of his administration's effort to deal with the detainee issues left behind by the Bush administration. It was facing a deadline of Friday to complete its work.

For the past year, national-security and law-enforcement officials under the direction of Matthew G. Olsen, a Justice Department lawyer, have been pulling together scattered files for each detainee at Guantánamo. They evaluated any evidence against each man, the perceived threat he might pose if released, and the possibility of successfully prosecuting him.

The group made recommendations that were then evaluated by senior administration officials, led by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

But the determination about which category to put each detainee in leaves other questions unanswered. For example, of the roughly 110 detainees who are set to be transferred to other countries, about 30 are Yemenis, the official said. The administration recently halted transfers to Yemen in the wake of the attempted bombing of an airplane bound for Detroit on Christmas - a plot believed to have been developed by an affiliate of Al Qaeda based in Yemen.

In addition, Mr. Holder is charged with deciding whether the prisoners who are to be prosecuted should face a civilian trial or a military commission. In November, he announced that five detainees would face a military commission and five others - including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 - would be prosecuted in federal court.


12) China Says U.S. Criticism of Its Internet Policy Harms Ties
January 23, 2010

BEIJING - The Chinese Foreign Ministry lashed out Friday against criticism of China in a speech on Internet censorship made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, calling on the United States government "to respect the truth and to stop using the so-called Internet freedom question to level baseless accusations."

Ma Zhaoxu, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a written statement posted Friday afternoon on the ministry's Web site that the criticism leveled by Mrs. Clinton on Thursday was "harmful to Sino-American relations."

"The Chinese Internet is open," he said.

The statement by the Foreign Ministry, along with a scathing editorial in the English-language edition of The Global Times, a populist, patriotic newspaper, signaled that China was ready to wrestle politically with the United States in the debate over Internet censorship.

President Obama promised last year to start a more conciliatory era in United States-China relations, pushing human rights issues to the background, but the new criticism of China's Internet censorship and rising tensions over currency valuation and Taiwan arms sales indicate that animus could flare in the months ahead.

Mrs. Clinton's sweeping speech with its cold war undertones - likening the information curtain to the Iron Curtain - criticized several countries by name, including China, for Internet censorship. It was the first speech in which a top administration official offered a vision for making Internet freedom an integral part of foreign policy.

The debate over Internet censorship was brought to the fore in China last week when Google announced it might shut down its Chinese-language search engine,, and curtail its other operations in mainland China if Chinese officials did not back down from requiring Google to censor search results.

Until now, the Chinese government had been trying to frame the dispute with Google as a commercial matter, perhaps because officials want to avoid having the dispute become a referendum on Internet censorship policies among Chinese liberals and foreign companies operating in China. On Thursday, He Yafei, a vice foreign minister, had said the Google dispute should not be "over-interpreted" or linked to the bilateral relationship with the United States, according to Xinhua, the official state news agency.

But in the aftermath of Mrs. Clinton's speech, that attitude could be changing. Mrs. Clinton pointedly said that "a new information curtain is descending across much of the world" and identified China as one of a handful of countries that had stepped up Internet censorship in the past year. (Starting in late 2008, the Chinese government shut down thousands of Web sites under the pretext of an antipornography campaign.) She also praised American companies such as Google that are "making the issue of Internet and information freedom a greater consideration in their business decisions."

The State Department had invited at least two prominent Chinese bloggers to travel to Washington for Mrs. Clinton's speech, and on Friday the United States Embassy here invited bloggers, mostly liberals, to attend a briefing on Internet issues.

A White House spokesman, Bill Burton, said Friday that "all we are looking for from China are some answers."

In its editorial, the English-language edition of The Global Times said Mrs. Clinton "had raised the stakes in Washington's clash with Beijing over Internet freedom."

The American demand for an unfettered Internet was a form of "information imperialism," the newspaper said, because less developed nations cannot possibly compete with Western countries in the arena of information flow.

"The U.S. campaign for uncensored and free flow of information on an unrestricted Internet is a disguised attempt to impose its values on other cultures in the name of democracy," the newspaper said, adding that the "U.S. government's ideological imposition is unacceptable and, for that reason, will not be allowed to succeed."

Articles on the Chinese-language Web site of The Global Times asserted that the United States employs the Internet as a weapon to achieve worldwide hegemony.

One big question is whether ordinary Chinese will, to any large degree, accept China's arguments justifying Internet censorship. Although urban, middle-class Chinese often support government policies on sovereignty issues such as Tibet or Taiwan, they generally deride media censorship. That feeling is especially pronounced among those who call themselves netizens. China has the most Internet users of any country, some 384 million by official count, but also the most complex system of Internet censorship, nicknamed the Great Firewall.

Except in the western region of Xinjiang, which is only starting to restore Internet access after cutting service off entirely after ethnic riots in July, canny netizens across China use software to get over the Great Firewall while chafing at the controls.

Jonathan Ansfield and Xiyun Yang contributed reporting.


13) For Israelis, Mixed Feelings on Aid Effort
"The remarkable identification with the victims of the terrible tragedy in distant Haiti only underscores the indifference to the ongoing suffering of the people of Gaza."
January 22, 2010

JERUSALEM - The editorial cartoon in Thursday's mass-circulation Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot showed American soldiers digging among the ruins of Haiti. From within the rubble, a voice calls out, "Would you mind checking to see if the Israelis are available?"

A week ago, ahead of most countries, Israel sent scores of doctors and other professionals to Haiti. Years of dealing with terrorist attacks combined with an advanced medical technology sector have made Israel one of the most nimble countries in disaster relief - a factor that Western television news correspondents have highlighted.

But Israelis have been watching with a range of emotions, as if the Haitian relief effort were a Rorschach test through which the nation examines itself. The left has complained that there is no reason to travel thousands of miles to help those in need - Gaza is an hour away. The right has argued that those who accuse Israel of inhumanity should take note of its selfless efforts and achievements in Haiti.

The government has been trying to figure out how to make the most of the relatively rare positive news coverage, especially after the severe criticism it has faced over its Gaza offensive a year ago.

"Israelis are caught in a great confusion over themselves," noted Uri Dromi, a commentator who used to be a government spokesman. "There is such a gap between what we can do in so many fields and the failure we feel trapped in with the Palestinians. There's nostalgia for the time when we were the darlings of the world, and the Haiti relief effort allows us to remember that feeling and say, you see we are not as bad as you think."

"Now They Love Us," was the headline Wednesday on the column of Eitan Haber, a close aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the 1990s and a Yediot columnist. "In another month or two, nobody will remember the good deeds" of Israeli soldiers, he wrote. "The very same countries and very same leaders who are currently lauding the State of Israel will order their representatives to vote against it at the United Nations, proceed to condemn I.D.F. operations in Gaza, and again slam its foreign minister."

Israeli journalists flew into Haiti with relief teams. And while the contours of the catastrophe have been well described, inherent in the coverage is the question of what Israel's performance says about it and its place in the world.

Much noted has been the absence of rich and powerful Persian Gulf countries in the relief effort, a point made here when the 2004 tsunami hit large parts of Asia and Israeli relief teams swung into action there as well.

Many commentators argued that the work in Haiti was a reflection of a central Jewish value. Michael Freund, a columnist in The Jerusalem Post, wrote on Thursday, "Though a vast gulf separates Israel from Haiti, with more than 10,500 kilometers of ocean lying between us, the Jewish people demonstrated that their extended hand can bridge any gap and traverse any chasm when it comes to saving lives."

But on the same page, another commentator, Larry Derfner, argued that while Israel's field hospital in Haiti is a reflection of something deep in the nation's character, "so is everything that's summed up in the name of 'Gaza.' " He wrote: "It's the Haiti side of Israel that makes the Gaza side so inexpressibly tragic. And more and more, the Haiti part of the national character has been dwarfed by the Gaza part."

Early in the week, Akiva Eldar, a leftist commentator and reporter with the newspaper Haaretz, made a similar point: "The remarkable identification with the victims of the terrible tragedy in distant Haiti only underscores the indifference to the ongoing suffering of the people of Gaza."


14) Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear
January 22, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan - A group of American and Afghan soldiers swooped into a village in a Taliban-heavy district early Thursday, fired their guns and came away. And in a scene repeated often here, one side cried murder and the other side claimed success.

Late in the day, this much was clear: Just after midnight, a team of American and Afghan soldiers carried out an operation to detain a Taliban commander named Qari Faizullah in a village called Baran. The village is in the Qarabagh District of Ghazni Province, where the Taliban insurgency burns hot. Four males, including a boy, were killed in the raid, and another was detained.

But there the clarity ends. In a statement, the American command said four insurgents had been killed in the operation. Mr. Faizullah, the Americans said, was a "high-level Taliban commander" who helped lead attacks against American forces and smuggled fighters and guns.

The boy killed, the Americans said, was 15 and had reached for a gun and shown "hostile intent" when the operation was unfolding. "No innocent Afghan civilians were harmed in this operation," the statement said.

The police chief of Ghazni Province, Gen. Kial Baz Shirzai, supported the American account. "All those killed were definitely Taliban," he said. The boy, he said, was in fact 13 - but he, too, was Taliban.

But several residents of Baran said that all the dead were civilians. On Thursday morning, a large group of Afghans came to the provincial capital, Ghazni, to retrieve the bodies, which had been carried there by the soldiers. The villagers shouted anti-American and antigovernment slogans and called on Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, to stop the attacks. In addition to those killed, two villagers were wounded in the operation, they said.

"I have known all these people since my childhood, and they are civilians - they have no link to the Taliban or any militant group," Abdul Manan, a Baran resident, said in a telephone interview. He joined the protest.

His description was matched by another protester, Hajji Shawali. "We are here to tell Mr. Karzai to listen to our problems," he said. "We are having problems with the Taliban. We are actually trapped by the fighting. We have no sympathy for the Taliban. We are poor people."

Acknowledging the divergent accounts, Muhib Khapalwak, the local governor of Qarabagh, said that he would try to find out what happened.

Operations like the one in Qarabagh - nighttime raids in which the exact course of events is unclear - occur regularly in southern and eastern Afghanistan, where the Taliban dominate. American and Afghan soldiers prefer to carry out operations at night, when they have the advantage of surprise and night-vision equipment, and civilians are presumed to be asleep.

But night operations are unpopular among Afghans, even those who harbor no sympathies for the Taliban. American commanders have acknowledged the unhappiness; they have made protecting Afghan civilians their primary goal in the war. The Americans said recently that they would tighten the rules governing operations at night. Under the new rules, American and other NATO forces would be required to explore alternatives to night raids, like cordoning off villages at night and moving in at sunrise.

In another bewildering episode on Thursday, the American command issued a statement saying that a group of Afghan and coalition soldiers had found a number of damaged Korans in an abandoned building in Helmand Province. The statement offered few details, like how many Korans were damaged and what had happened to them.

Earlier this month, eight Afghans were killed and a dozen wounded in Garmsir, a town in Helmand, when Afghan officers fired on a group of rioters demonstrating over rumors that American troops, on a night raid, had desecrated a Koran and defiled local women.

Also Thursday, an Afghan commando who stopped a suicide bomber during an attack on the government this week was decorated in a ceremony in Kabul. The honoree, First Lt. Mentaz, of the Sixth Commando battalion, shot and killed a suicide bomber during the attack on the Central Bank, which killed five people and wounded 38 more. "I am serving my country!" he shouted to his comrades after receiving his medal.

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Abdul Waheed Wafa from Kabul.


15) U.S. Offers Pakistan Drones to Urge Cooperation
January 22, 2010

ISLAMABAD - The United States will provide a dozen unarmed aerial spy drones to Pakistan for the first time as part of an effort to encourage Pakistan's cooperation in fighting Islamic militants on the Afghanistan border, American defense officials said Thursday. But Pakistani military leaders, rebuffing American pressure, said they planned no new offensives for at least six months.

The Shadow drones, which are smaller than armed Predator drones, will be a significant upgrade in the Pakistanis' reconnaissance and surveillance ability and will supply video to help cue strikes from the ground or the air.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who is in Pakistan on a two-day visit, disclosed plans for the drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, in an interview Thursday with a Pakistani television reporter.

Asked if the United States planned to provide the Pakistani military with drones, something it has long requested, Mr. Gates replied, "There are some tactical U.A.V.'s that we are considering, yes."

Other Defense Department officials later confirmed that the United States was making such an offer.

Shortly before Mr. Gates's remarks, the chief spokesman of the Pakistani Army indicated that the army would not begin any assault against militants in the tribal region of North Waziristan for 6 to 12 months, pushing back against calls by the United States to root out militants staging attacks along the Afghan border.

The army spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, told American reporters at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi that Pakistan had to stabilize its gains and contain Taliban militants scattered by offensives already opened last year. "We are not capable of sustaining further military operations," he said.

The developments underscored the difficulties that President Obama now faces in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Even as the Taliban have stepped up attacks on both sides of the border, the Pakistani Army has been reluctant to take on all of its factions in all parts of the country's tribal areas.

Pakistan, which already has some limited surveillance ability, has long asked for drone technology from the United States, arguing that it should have the same resources to watch and kill militants on its own soil as does the Central Intelligence Agency, which conducts regular drone strikes in Pakistan.

American officials have rejected giving Pakistan armed drones. The Shadow surveillance drone appears to be a compromise aimed at enticing Pakistan further into the war and helping the country's political leadership explain the drone strikes to a deeply suspicious and anti-American public.

"It will have a very positive political impact," said Talat Masood, a retired general in Islamabad. "It will reduce the embarrassment of the political leadership."

American defense officials said that the drones would be for use in Pakistan's tribal areas and would be restricted to defensive rather than offensive operations. One major concern for the American military is the possibility that Pakistan could use the drones against India, its archrival in the region.

The latest version of the Shadow is used by the United States Army and the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has a wing span of 14 feet, is about 12 feet long, is launched from a trailer by ground units and can fly about 70 miles.

Mr. Gates, who is on his first trip to Pakistan in three years, met Thursday with the Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and with Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the director of the country's spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. He attended a dinner in his honor given by the Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, and is to deliver a speech on American policy on Friday before a military audience.

American officials said that Mr. Gates had urged the Pakistanis in the meetings to do more against the militants, a constant American theme that the defense secretary also sounded in an opinion article published on Thursday in The News International, Pakistan's largest English-language daily newspaper.

In the article, Mr. Gates implicitly pressed Pakistan to root out the Afghan Taliban leadership, the Quetta Shura, which has found refuge in Pakistan's Baluchistan Province, outside the tribal areas.

American officials are increasingly frustrated that while the Pakistanis have conducted offensives against the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda, they have not so far pursued the Afghan Taliban and an allied militant faction on their border, the Haqqani network, whose fighters pose a threat to American forces.

"Maintaining a distinction between some violent extremist groups and others is counterproductive," Mr. Gates wrote. "Only by pressuring all of these groups on both sides of the border will Afghanistan and Pakistan be able to rid themselves of this scourge for good."

American officials say privately that the Pakistanis are reluctant to go after the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network because they see them as a future proxy against Indian interests in Afghanistan when the Americans leave. Under Mr. Obama's Afghanistan strategy, announced last month, the United States is to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan by July 2011.

In the same article in The News International, and in his public comments in Pakistan, Mr. Gates lavishly praised the Pakistani Army for its efforts against the militants in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan, and noted that the army had suffered nearly 2,000 deaths in the last three years.

He also sought to reassure Pakistani citizens that Americans had a long-term interest in their country, not just in a short-term strategic gain across the border in Afghanistan.

Mr. Gates said in the article that he regretted past injustices in the American-Pakistan relationship that he himself has been part of since the late 1980s, when he was No. 2 at the C.I.A. At that time, he helped funnel covert Reagan administration aid and weapons through Pakistan's spy agency to the Islamic fundamentalists who ousted the Russians from Afghanistan. Some of those fundamentalists are now part of the Taliban and are fighting against the United States.

Mr. Gates said that the United States largely abandoned Afghanistan and cut military ties with Pakistan once the Russians left Kabul, which he called "a grave mistake driven by some well-intentioned but short-sighted U.S. legislative and policy decisions."

He also repeated an assessment that the militant groups on Pakistan's border were an inter-connected syndicate, a view that General Abbas rejected as not as "black and white" as Mr. Gates described.

Sabrina Tavernise contributed reporting from Islamabad, Eric Schmitt from Washington, and Christopher Drew from New York.


16) Thriving Military Recruitment Program Blocked
"So far, 129 recruits have been sworn in as American citizens, Colonel Badoian said, including one dentist whose naturalization was completed in 30 days. Last year Congress gave immigration authorities $5 million for military naturalizations."
January 22, 2010

A highly successful program by the armed forces to recruit skilled immigrants who live in this country temporarily has run into a roadblock, leaving thousands of potential recruits in limbo.

The Army stopped accepting applications for the program last week, officials said Thursday, because the Pentagon had not completed a review required to keep the recruitment going.

The program, which started as a pilot in February, allowed recruiters to enlist immigrants, most of them in the Army, with special language or medical skills who are in this country on temporary visas. Successful recruits are offered the chance to become United States citizens within a few months.

More than 1,000 immigrants have been enlisted through the program, and hundreds more, at least, are in the final stages of approval, Army officials said. More than 14,000 immigrants have contacted Army recruiters to see if they qualified for the program and have passed a first level of vetting, the officials said.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the program had "generated interest" but still had to be evaluated "along many performance dimensions." After the pilot phase formally ends next month, the Defense Department will "review the results to determine if the program warrants further consideration," said the spokeswoman, Eileen M. Lainez.

Although the program has started small, senior commanders have praised it as an exceptional success. Recruiting officials said it had attracted a large number of unusually qualified candidates, including doctors, dentists and native speakers of Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Korean and other languages from strategic regions where United States forces are operating.

"We don't see this normally; the quality for this population is off the charts," said Lt. Col. Pete Badoian, a strategic planner at the Army Accessions Command, the recruiting branch of the Army.

Set up to run through the end of 2009, and to accept 1,000 recruits, with 890 coming from the Army, the program was extended after the Army filled its slots. The Pentagon extended the program through February by adding 120 new positions, but the Army filled those by Jan. 14, according to a notice posted on the Web site for the program, known in the military by the acronym Mavni (Military Accessions Vital to National Interest).

Other than the salaries of staff members who ran the program, the Pentagon spent no money on it, recruiting officials said.

The immigrants who have joined the Army through the program scored, on average, about 20 points higher (on a scale of 100) than other recruits on basic armed forces entry tests, and they had three to five years more education, Colonel Badoian said. One-third of the recruits have a master's degree or higher.

Naomi Verdugo, a senior recruiting official in the Army's office for manpower and reserve affairs, said the immigrants recruited for their language skills had also shown "extraordinarily high" proficiency in their languages. "We send people to language school, but it is tough to get a non-native speaker to the level of these folks," she said.

The program is open to immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least two years with temporary visas related to their jobs, or as refugees. Most temporary immigrants have already demonstrated to immigration authorities that they have technology, science or medical skills. The program is not open to illegal immigrants.

Under the program, recruits with language skills must agree to enlist for at least four years of active duty, while medical professionals must agree to at least three years.

Field officers took notice of the program soon after it started. In Congressional testimony in June, Admiral Eric T. Olson, the senior commander for Special Operations, said it had "already demonstrated a great success," based on the skills of the interpreters who had signed up.

Officials familiar with the immigrant program said that in order to obtain visas, temporary immigrants must pass several criminal and terrorism background checks. An additional security questionnaire has been part of the enlistment process, the officials said.

The prospect of speedy naturalization is a powerful draw for many temporary immigrants, who might otherwise have to wait a decade or more to become United States citizens. So far, 129 recruits have been sworn in as American citizens, Colonel Badoian said, including one dentist whose naturalization was completed in 30 days. Last year Congress gave immigration authorities $5 million for military naturalizations.

News of the program spread among immigrants mainly by word of mouth.

"Because we are now getting the naturalizations and having guys finish their training and move out as U.S. citizens, the word is getting out and the program is gaining momentum," Colonel Badoian said.

Recruiting officials said they were waiting for senior readiness officials in the office of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to approve an extension of the program. They said the Pentagon's review might have been slowed by the top-to-bottom examination of security procedures after the shooting rampage in November at Fort Hood, Tex., in which an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, has been charged.


17) City's Jobless Rate Rises to 10.6%, Exceeding Nation's
January 22, 2010

The unemployment rate in New York City jumped in December to 10.6 percent, its highest level in nearly 17 years, as hotels, museums and builders eliminated jobs and hiring remained weak in most other businesses, the State Labor Department said Thursday.

Last month marked the first time since the recession began two years ago that the city's unemployment rate was significantly higher than the nation's. The city's rate rose from 10 percent in November, while the national rate held steady at 10 percent last month, according to the Labor Department.

Nearly 425,000 city residents were unable to find jobs in December, easily the highest total in the 33 years those records have been kept. The numbers were announced a day after New Jersey officials said that their state's unemployment rate hit a 33-year high of 10.1 percent in December. New York State's unemployment rate also rose, to 9 percent from 8.6 percent in November.

"The city's rate is obviously the most disturbing one in the mix," said M. Patricia Smith, the state labor commissioner. "What this shows is that the economy is still volatile. People are still nervous about the economy."

Analysts said the unemployment rate could continue rising and was not likely to reverse direction before midyear. After the last two recessions, employment in the metropolitan area did not begin to rise for at least 10 months, said James W. Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

"We're not going to see a return to job growth before the middle of 2010 - if we're lucky," Dean Hughes said. "The small-business sector still has severe credit problems. Banks simply aren't lending to them. If they don't get credit, they certainly aren't going to be able to start hiring again."

The numbers reflected the damp blanket the long recession cast over the city during the holidays. The city's restaurants and catering operations shed about 2,000 jobs in December, a month when the hospitality industry usually adds to its payroll.

Stores in the city added about 4,500 jobs in the month, but for the entire holiday season, retail hiring still lagged behind its usual pace, said James Brown, a Labor Department analyst. Still, Mr. Brown said, "Christmas '09 as a whole was actually an improvement from last year's disastrous holiday season."

Mr. Brown said one bright spot in the data was an apparent turnaround on Wall Street.

Financial-services companies had been among the first to make sharp cuts in employment as the recession deepened. Those layoffs reverberated throughout the regional economy because the jobs paid so highly and supported so many workers in other service businesses.

Now, with some of the big investment banks racking up huge profits again, they have begun to hire selectively. Wall Street firms added about 1,000 jobs in December, though total employment in finance was still down by more than 16,000 positions from the end of 2008, the data showed.

"It looks like they might be bottoming out," Mr. Brown said.

Statewide, more than 610,000 residents were collecting unemployment insurance at the end of the year. More than half of them had been collecting benefits for more than six months.

"The fact that we have so many more people on unemployment is evidence of the fact that they need the benefits longer," Ms. Smith said.

Signaling that the worst is not over, state labor officials are about to start contacting employers in the city and on Long Island that they fear might soon resort to layoffs. Using emergency federal funds, they will offer to help the companies avert or minimize job cuts, Ms. Smith said.

Those efforts apparently will not save the jobs of 228 workers at a bakery in the Morris Park section of the Bronx that makes Melba Toast and other snacks. The bakery's owner, Old London Foods, notified the state that it planned to move the operation to North Carolina by summer.


18) Free Checking Could Go the Way of Banks' Free Toasters
[So, my friends, here it is, the quintessential nature of capitalism. Whatever "fees" the government "enforces" on the banks, rest assured, YOU/WE/ALL - THE POOR - EMPLOYED OR UNEMPLOYED WORKING PEOPLE will pay for it! If they can't steal it from us one way, they'll invent another! What we have to realize is that it's endemic to the economic system of capitalism. They have to keep stealing any and every way they can in order to increase their rate of profit. Their stealing from the people of Haiti by military force right now. (Marxism 101 - read the first volume of Capital by Karl Marx - it says it all!) ...BW]
Your Money
January 23, 2010

FREE checking began as a privilege. Once it spread, customers felt entitled. Eventually, it became a commodity, as most banks felt they needed to offer it. Soon, people took it for granted.

But now, free checking may be an endangered species.

Banks are feeling heat from all sides. This week, President Obama moved to limit the size and activities of the biggest institutions. Last week, he proposed a tax to recover bailout funds.

The biggest impact on checking accounts, however, is likely to come from new regulations governing overdraft protection. Starting in July, banks will need explicit permission from customers before allowing them to use their debit cards to spend more than they have in their bank accounts on a one-time purchase. Similar restrictions will apply to A.T.M. withdrawals.

Banks earn billions in overdraft fees, money that helps pay for free checking.

A chunk of that revenue will disappear when some consumers elect not to sign up for the opportunity to spend more than they have. This week, Bank of America said that $160 million in overdraft fee revenue had already disappeared, because of changes it made in its policies ahead of the new federal rules.

When that money evaporates as other banks comply with the regulations, they're going to try to make it up some other way, particularly if they're paying more taxes to the federal government and have fewer ways to trade their way to outsize profits.

So might banks try to do away with free checking entirely? And if so, what would they replace it with?

Some hints lie in the brief history of the offering. In the old days, banks would take in your money, pay you some interest and lend the money to others at much higher rates. Many checking account holders paid monthly or other fees, particularly if they had a low balance. Wealthy clients often paid nothing.

In the 1990s, Washington Mutual brought free checking to the masses. "It was an anchor product that allowed them to get customers in the door," says Jim Neckopulos, a Hitachi Consulting vice president who worked with Washington Mutual at the time. Then, the bank tried to get customers to sign up for loans and other more profitable services that could subsidize the free checking.

Soon, most every bank had some version of free checking, and they were helped by the rise of the debit card. "People's behaviors changed dramatically," says Aaron Fine, a consultant and partner at Oliver Wyman. "They were no longer balancing their checkbook and were overdrawing their accounts with the card. And that's what allowed it to be profitable."

How heavily did banks lean on the overdraft fees? Well, G. Michael Flores of the financial services consulting firm Bretton Woods estimates that the average customer paid 12 overdraft or other insufficient-fund charges in 2009, often at $25 or $30 per transgression.

Starting in July, customers who don't want to tempt themselves can turn off the ability to overdraw in a store or at the A.T.M. Nobody knows how many will do so, but it will probably be enough to make free checking unprofitable for many of the banks that had feasted at the fee trough, particularly those with large networks of branches to support.

Some of the less creative institutions will tack on monthly fees again and hope customers don't flee. Or they may raise the minimum balance requirements that some banks already have. If you value having access to a particular branch in your neighborhood, you may have no choice but to comply unless you're willing to go to the trouble of switching banks.

Other banks may try something like what Fifth Third Bank has done with its Secure Checking Account package. The bank charges $7.50 a month, but it throws in identity theft protection, which millions of consumers already pay at least that much for elsewhere. Banks could add other services, too, say an hour with a salaried financial planner (who doesn't push the bank's own products).

Another option is the à la carte model, where banks offer bare-bones checking for free, but let people pay extra for things they truly value. For a few dollars a month, say, you could use any A.T.M. on earth free.

But the most popular option seems to be to get retailers to pay for a big part of free checking, not bank customers.

Why retailers?

Well, remember our old friend the debit card, which upended the industry a decade or so ago? Banks don't just get overdraft revenue. They also get a cut of the fees merchants pay when someone uses a debit card, and banks generally get a bigger cut if cardholders sign for their purchase instead of using their PINs.

You see where this is heading, right? If banks can get enough people to use their debit cards and sign for their purchases often enough, it will go a long way toward keeping checking free and even subsidizing better interest rates or rewards. (It may also cause merchants to raise prices to cover those card fees, alas.)

One company, BancVue, has already helped over 500 smaller banks and credit unions set up free rewards checking accounts. With these accounts, you earn interest rates of 2 to 4 percent or so on balances up to, say, $25,000, as long as you meet certain conditions. Using your debit card (and signing for your purchase) 10 or 15 times a month is generally one of them.

Given that using the card that much may cause you to overdraw more, the banks may not be able to afford such outsize interest rates much longer if lots of their customers opt out of overdraft protection and stop paying fees.

Even so, the interest rates are likely to be better than a big bank can offer. So if you maintain large balances in your checking account, these accounts may offer decent value. You can find a list of them at by clicking on the small map of the United States in the lower left of the home page.

A new company called PerkStreet Financial offers a different twist on free checking. You pay no fees for your account as long as it remains active, and you get about 1 percent back of every debit card purchase when you sign while buying (and for Web or recurring charges, say for monthly bills). You then redeem that 1 percent in the form of perks (hence the name) like gift cards from Starbucks and iTunes.

For customers with lower balances who don't need branches, 3 percent interest on a rewards checking account won't mean much. But earning $150 in rewards on $15,000 a year in annual debit card spending might.

Dan O'Malley, PerkStreet's chief executive, says overdraft fees are not a big part of his business model; only 40 percent of customers have even signed up for the service. While he won't say exactly how many debit transactions his customers must make for PerkStreet to break even, he says that 15 a month would probably be plenty.

Meanwhile, he's not optimistic about his competitors' ability to maintain free checking or keep him from picking off some of their customers. "As overdraft revenues go away, it will expose the soft underside of many banks' business models," he says. "Banks saddled with branch costs are going to introduce monthly fees, and customers are going to have a problem with that."

Maybe banks will, and maybe they won't. Not every checking account provider built its business entirely around overdraft fees, after all.

Still, if you bank at an old-line institution, there's a good chance it's going to tinker with your checking account soon. And when it does, you'll have to decide what hoops you're willing to jump through to keep the letter "r" from falling out of your "free" account.


19) They Still Don't Get It
Op-Ed Columnist
January 23, 2010

How loud do the alarms have to get? There is an economic emergency in the country with millions upon millions of Americans riddled with fear and anxiety as they struggle with long-term joblessness, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and dwindling opportunities for themselves and their children.

The door is being slammed on the American dream and the politicians, including the president and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, seem not just helpless to deal with the crisis, but completely out of touch with the hardships that have fallen on so many.

While the nation was suffering through the worst economy since the Depression, the Democrats wasted a year squabbling like unruly toddlers over health insurance legislation. No one in his or her right mind could have believed that a workable, efficient, cost-effective system could come out of the monstrously ugly plan that finally emerged from the Senate after long months of shady alliances, disgraceful back-room deals, outlandish payoffs and abject capitulation to the insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical outfits.

The public interest? Forget about it.

With the power elite consumed with its incessant, discordant fiddling over health care, the economic plight of ordinary Americans, from the middle class to the very poor, got pathetically short shrift. And there is no evidence, even now, that leaders of either party fully grasp the depth of the crisis, which began long before the official start of the Great Recession in December 2007.

A new study from the Brookings Institution tells us that the largest and fastest-growing population of poor people in the U.S. is in the suburbs. You don't hear about this from the politicians who are always so anxious to tell you, in between fund-raisers and photo-ops, what a great job they're doing. From 2000 to 2008, the number of poor people in the U.S. grew by 5.2 million, reaching nearly 40 million. That represented an increase of 15.4 percent in the poor population, which was more than twice the increase in the population as a whole during that period.

The study does not include data from 2009, when so many millions of families were just hammered by the recession. So the reality is worse than the Brookings figures would indicate.

Job losses, stagnant or reduced wages over the past decade, and the loss of home equity when the housing bubble burst have combined to take a horrendous toll on families who thought they had done all the right things and were living the dream. A great deal of that bleeding is in the suburbs. The study, compiled by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, said, "Suburbs gained more than 2.5 million poor individuals, accounting for almost half of the total increase in the nation's poor population since 2000."

Democrats in search of clues as to why voters are unhappy may want to take a look at the report. In 2008, a startling 91.6 million people - more than 30 percent of the entire U.S. population - fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, which is a meager $21,834 for a family of four.

The question for Democrats is whether there is anything that will wake them up to their obligation to extend a powerful hand to ordinary Americans and help them take the government, including the Supreme Court, back from the big banks, the giant corporations and the myriad other predatory interests that put the value of a dollar high above the value of human beings.

The Democrats still hold the presidency and large majorities in both houses of Congress. The idea that they are not spending every waking hour trying to fix the broken economic system and put suffering Americans back to work is beyond pathetic. Deficit reduction is now the mantra in Washington, which means that new large-scale investments in infrastructure and other measures to ease the employment crisis and jump-start the most promising industries of the 21st century are highly unlikely.

What we'll get instead is rhetoric. It's cheap, so we can expect a lot of it.

Those at the bottom of the economic heap seem all but doomed in this environment. The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston put the matter in stark perspective after analyzing the employment challenges facing young people in Chicago: "Labor market conditions for 16-19 and 20-24-year-olds in the city of Chicago in 2009 are the equivalent of a Great Depression-era, especially for young black men."

The Republican Party has abandoned any serious approach to the nation's biggest problems, economic or otherwise. It may be resurgent, but it's not a serious party. That leaves only the Democrats, a party that once championed working people and the poor, but has long since lost its way.


20) C.I.A. Deaths Prompt Surge in U.S. Drone Strikes
"...Beginning the day after the attack on a C.I.A. base in Khost, Afghanistan, the agency has carried out 11 strikes that have killed about 90 people suspected of being militants..."
January 23, 2010

WASHINGTON - Since the suicide bombing that took the lives of seven Americans in Afghanistan on Dec. 30, the Central Intelligence Agency has struck back against militants in Pakistan with the most intensive series of missile strikes from drone aircraft since the covert program began.

Beginning the day after the attack on a C.I.A. base in Khost, Afghanistan, the agency has carried out 11 strikes that have killed about 90 people suspected of being militants, according to Pakistani news reports, which make almost no mention of civilian casualties. The assault has included strikes on a mud fortress in North Waziristan on Jan. 6 that killed 17 people and a volley of missiles on a compound in South Waziristan last Sunday that killed at least 20.

"For the C.I.A., there is certainly an element of wanting to show that they can hit back," said Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, an online publication that tracks the C.I.A.'s drone campaign. Mr. Roggio, as well as Pakistani and American intelligence officials, said many of the recent strikes had focused on the Pakistani Taliban and its leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, who claimed responsibility for the Khost bombing.

The Khost attack cost the agency dearly, taking the lives of the most experienced analysts of Al Qaeda whose intelligence helped guide the drone attacks. Yet the agency has responded by redoubling its assault. Drone strikes have come roughly every other day this month, up from about once a week last year and the most furious pace since the drone campaign began in earnest in the summer of 2008.

Pakistan's announcement on Thursday that its army would delay any new offensives against militants in North Waziristan for 6 to 12 months is likely to increase American reliance on the drone strikes, administration and counterterrorism officials said. By next year, the C.I.A. is expected to more than double its fleet of the latest Reaper aircraft - bigger, faster and more heavily armed than the older Predators - to 14 from 6, an Obama administration official said.

Even before the Khost attack, White House officials had made it clear to Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, and Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, that they expected significant results from the drone strikes in reducing the threat from Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, according to an administration official and a former senior C.I.A. official with close ties to the White House.

These concerns only heightened after the attempted Dec. 25 bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner. While that plot involved a Nigerian man sent by a Qaeda offshoot in Yemen, intelligence officials say they believe that Al Qaeda's top leaders in Pakistan have called on affiliates to carry out attacks against the West. "There's huge pressure from the White House on Blair and Panetta," said the former C.I.A. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern about angering the White House. "The feeling is, the clock is ticking."

After the Khost bombing, intelligence officials vowed that they would retaliate. One angry senior American intelligence official said the C.I.A. would "avenge" the Khost attack. "Some very bad people will eventually have a very bad day," the official said at the time, speaking on the condition he not be identified describing a classified program.

Today, officials deny that vengeance is driving the increased attacks, though one called the drone strikes "the purest form of self-defense."

Officials point to other factors. For one, Pakistan recently dropped restrictions on the drone program it had requested last fall to accompany a ground offensive against militants in South Waziristan. And tips on the whereabouts of extremists ebb and flow unpredictably.

A C.I.A. spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, declined to comment on the drone strikes. But he said, "The agency's counterterrorism operations - lawful, aggressive, precise and effective - continue without pause."

The strikes, carried out from a secret base in Pakistan and controlled by satellite link from C.I.A. headquarters in Virginia, have been expanded by President Obama and praised by both parties in Congress as a potent weapon against terrorism that puts no American lives at risk. That calculation must be revised in light of the Khost bombing, which revealed the critical presence of C.I.A. officers in dangerous territory to direct the strikes.

Some legal scholars have questioned the legitimacy under international law of killings by a civilian agency in a country where the United States is not officially at war. This month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for government documents revealing procedures for approving targets and legal justifications for the killings.

Critics have contended that collateral civilian deaths are too high a price to pay. Pakistani officials have periodically denounced the strikes as a violation of their nation's sovereignty, even as they have provided a launching base for the drones.

The increase in drone attacks has caused panic among rank-and-file militants, particularly in North Waziristan, where some now avoid using private vehicles, according to Pakistani intelligence and security officials. Fewer foreign extremists are now in Miram Shah, North Waziristan's capital, which was previously awash with them, said local tribesmen and security officials.

Despite the consensus in Washington behind the drone program, some experts are dissenters. John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School who frequently advises the military, said, "The more the drone campaign works, the more it fails - as increased attacks only make the Pakistanis angrier at the collateral damage and sustained violation of their sovereignty."

If the United States expands the drone strikes beyond the lawless tribal areas to neighboring Baluchistan, as is under discussion, the backlash "might even spark a social revolution in Pakistan," Mr. Arquilla said.

So far the reaction in Pakistan to the increased drone strikes has been muted. Last week, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of Pakistan told Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration's senior diplomat for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that the drones undermined the larger war effort. But the issue was not at the top of the agenda as it was a year ago.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a military analyst in Lahore, said public opposition had been declining because the campaign was viewed as a success. Yet one Pakistani general, who supports the drone strikes as a tactic for keeping militants off balance, questioned the long-term impact.

"Has the situation stabilized in the past two years?" asked the general, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Are the tribal areas more stable?" Yes, he said, Baitullah Mehsud, founder of the Pakistani Taliban, was killed by a missile last August. "But he's been replaced and the number of fighters is increasing," the general said.

Sabrina Tavernise contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan, and Ismail Khan from Peshawar.


21) Obstacles to Recovery in Haiti May Prove Daunting Beyond Other Disasters
January 23, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - The relief effort in Haiti could end up being the most difficult, faith-testing recovery from a modern disaster, perhaps even exceeding that from the 2004 Asian tsunami, according to United Nation officials and aid groups with experience in large-scale catastrophes.

Haiti, already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, was barely showing signs of recovery from the 2008 hurricane season when the earthquake flattened its capital, Port-au-Prince, crippling the country's already weakened transportation and service delivery network.

Local aid groups that would normally help guide international efforts were damaged themselves, while the United Nations lost at least 70 staff members, and 146 more remain unaccounted for.

"You're talking about a country that pre-earthquake had limited resources and capability, and what resources it did have were concentrated in the capital," said Kim Bolduc, who is coordinating the relief effort for the United Nations. "This context helps explain why this emergency is probably the most complex in history, more than the tsunami, more than the Pakistan earthquake" of 2005.

The difficulties have confounded aid workers across the country, even those who have dealt with some of world's worst disasters in recent years. At a first aid tent in the middle of a soccer field where hundreds of people are now living in Jacmel, a coastal city that was among the worst-hit, a French doctor threw his hands in the air.

"I am very, very surprised," the doctor, François Sarda, a volunteer with Aides Actions Internationales Pompiers, said of the three days it took the aid group to get in and the chaos he found when he finally arrived. The group was forced to fly to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and take a boat from there. "At least in the tsunami we had some infrastructure," he said.

To help manage the chaos, the United Nations and the United States signed a two-page memorandum of understanding on Friday to formalize their roles and end the tensions that flared earlier in the week. The United Nations had complained about the American military's handling of flights at the airport here, saying critical deliveries of food from the World Food Program were being unnecessarily delayed.

Under the memorandum, Haiti maintains overall control of the aid and rescue efforts, though the United Nations is in charge of coordinating the work. But the memorandum does not put American soldiers or other personnel under United Nations command. The Americans remain focused on delivering aid, while the United Nations handles peacekeeping.

Still, the United States is known for throwing its considerable weight around in international aid efforts, so it is unclear if the new agreement will solve the earlier problems.

Doctors Without Borders has complained about the American military's running of the airport. The group has landed some planes, but has had others diverted, forcing it to truck in supplies from the Dominican Republic, according to Marie-Noëlle Rodrigue, deputy director for operations for Doctors Without Borders in Paris.

"It's a very confusing situation and difficult to understand," Ms. Rodrigue said. Jason Cone, a spokesman in New York, said much of the confusion involved who was coordinating matters. He said airport access had improved in recent days through direct contact with the Pentagon and the United States Agency for International Development.

Maj. Nathan Miller, with the Air Force's 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, said that the military was not playing favorites, and that military planes now arrived during off-peak night hours to make more room for international aid flights.

The challenges faced by some Haitian organizations are confounding. Danièle Magloire, a senior director of Fokal, a Haitian human rights organization, began working from an empty room in a friend's apartment building after her own home and office were damaged. The room still lacks electricity and water, like most buildings in the city. Residents of the neighborhood whose homes were destroyed camp outside on the street.

"We cannot possibly make it alone in the struggle to rebuild," Ms. Magloire said. "The United Nations, with its immense bureaucracy, cannot make it alone. We need all the help we can get, and we know that it must come from the United States at this critical moment."

Despite the troubles, the recovery effort is finding better footing by the day. Though rescuers are still hoping to defy the dwindling chances of finding anyone alive in the mountains of rubble 10 days after the earthquake, aid workers are shifting their focus to delivering shelter, water and medical care to hundreds of thousands of injured, hungry and displaced Haitians. They are racing against the approach of the rainy season, which aid groups fear could unleash disease.

United Nations officials said Friday that most surviving supermarkets would reopen next week, and that cellphone service should be fully restored by Saturday, with 40 banks also reopening. Lines for gasoline have also eased, with officials reporting that 30 percent of the city's gas stations were now operational and that there was no longer a shortage of gasoline.

But problems persist bringing in diesel fuel, hobbling efforts to gear up aid distribution, Edmond Mulet, the chief United Nations official in Haiti, said in a videoconference with reporters.

Although enough food is on hand to reach many more people, only 100,000 received such aid on Thursday because of a lack of trucks and fuel, he said.

"We have the food to be distributed," he said. "We just don't have the vehicles."

The United Nations needs to bring in 10,000 gallons of diesel per day from the Dominican Republic just to keep water trucks circulating, Mr. Mulet said.

Ms. Bolduc is coordinating the humanitarian efforts, but how many aid groups are now roaming the country is anybody's guess, she said. About 375 have registered with her office, but she says she believes that there are many more that have found their own way into the country and are providing relief.

American rescue teams were among the first to experience the knot of troubles. Usually, when they set down in a country after a natural disaster, the local government has already identified buildings where there are known survivors so they can race to the scene. But here, without government input, they had to drive through the city themselves, making snap assessments about where survivors were likely to be found.

They had trouble getting their equipment; its arrival at the airport was delayed for several days. Then they faced a shortage of vehicles, gas and drivers at the United States Embassy.

"We have zero infrastructure here," said Louie Fernandez, one of 80 rescuers from Miami-Dade County in Florida. "What are you supposed to do?"

Despite the monumental obstacles that must be overcome, Ms. Bolduc said, "It's not mission impossible, if all the players work together."

Reporting was contributed by Damien Cave and Simon Romero from Port-au-Prince, Neil MacFarquhar from the United Nations, and Doreen Carvajal from Paris.


22) Emergency Air Cargo Shipments to Haiti Face High Prices That May Last Awhile
January 23, 2010

Amid the many problems facing relief efforts in Haiti are sharp increases in air cargo costs for emergency supplies that may endure longer than usual.

In the aftermath of any disaster, prices charged by air charter operators shoot up because of surging demand for a week or so and then fall, according to officials with several relief agencies and brokers who supply disaster equipment.

But the rise in prices for Haiti has been extreme in some cases, and may in general last longer because other routes for aid have been largely blocked because of the damage caused by last week's earthquake to the airport itself and the seaport, its normal cargo hubs. Over the past day or so, the logjams have started to ease.

The air cargo industry is a mix of brokers and companies large and small, and rates depend on a multitude of variables, so gauging normal prices is elusive. But two officials of relief supply companies separately said they were seeing wildly varying quotes, some far higher than anything they considered reasonable.

Michael Ridenour, an official of the International Procurement Agency, a Dutch company that works with relief groups, said he was seeing charter quotes from brokers that varied widely for similar flights. For example, one broker wanted $519,000 to charter a flight from China to the Dominican Republic, while another was asking $1 million for a similar plane on the same route, he said.

"With demand far exceeding supply at the moment, air freight costs have increased dramatically," Gregory Barrow, a spokesman for the World Food Program in Rome, said in an e-mail message.

A senior British relief official, speaking on his government's standard condition of anonymity, said air freight costs from Europe to Haiti had increased by 10 percent to 30 percent since the quake.

Relief group officials declined to name specific operators or brokers, to avoid endangering future business.

An official at a large air charter company said rates invariably rose when demand increased, whether the cause was a disaster or the increased air shipments that precede the Christmas shopping season. She requested anonymity because the company had a United Nations contract.

Peter Nopper, the chief executive of Tri-Med of Britain, a relief equipment broker, said he was quoted a price of $520,000 for a large plane to fly relief supplies from Dubai to Haiti.

"There seems to be some speculation going on," Mr. Nopper said. "I think that people are throwing out high prices to see if anyone will bite."

He said that the fees some cargo operators were asking for Haiti flights might reflect the fact that planes were returning empty, rather than with return loads that could help defray costs.

"Because they have to do it so fast they are charging for a round trip," he said.

Not all companies appear to have raised their rates: Oxfam said it noticed no large increase when it chartered a cargo plane to the Dominican Republic from England to deliver water, sanitation equipment and tents, after its warehouse in Haiti collapsed. But others say they cannot find planes to fly to Haiti at any price.

Along with the United States, some companies and countries are moving to help get supplies in. British Airways made a cargo plane available; the United States, the United Nations and Britain have also begun using smaller vessels that can dock in shallower ports.

In coming weeks, the need for air cargo flights will only intensify as relief organizations exhaust their inventories of relief supplies. Those groups will be turning to equipment brokers or will buy supplies directly from manufacturers in places like India, Pakistan and China that produce emergency equipment like tents, blankets, and kitchen utensils.

The Port-au-Prince seaport has been too damaged to accommodate large ships carrying relief supplies like tents, blankets and cooking equipment.

With only one runway operating at the main Port-au-Prince airport, many relief flights are landing in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and the supplies are then trucked in over sometimes difficult roads.

"What is unusual about Haiti is that it is a big disaster in a small country," said the senior British relief official. "Usually we are talking about medium to large countries where an earthquake will do a lot of damage but it won't bring down everything."


23) Jobless Rates Rose in 42 States in November
January 23, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) - Unemployment rates rose in 43 states last month, the government said Friday, painting a bleak picture of the job market and illustrating nationwide data released two weeks ago.

The rise in joblessness was a sharp change from November, when 36 states said their unemployment rates fell. Four states - Delaware, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina - reported record-high jobless rates in December.

New Jersey's rate, meanwhile, rose to a 33-year high of 10.1 percent while New York's reached a 26-year high of 9 percent.

Analysts said the report showed the economy is recovering at too weak a pace to generate consistent job creation. A lot of states that had started to add jobs in November gave up the gains in December, Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director at Moody's, said.

Texas and Georgia lost more jobs in December than they had gained the previous month, Ms. Koropeckyj noted, while Arizona and South Carolina lost nearly as many as they had gained.

That is consistent with nationwide trends. Employers shed 85,00 jobs in December, the government said earlier this month, after notching a small gain of 4,000 jobs in November.

In another nationwide trend, long-suffering states like California and Michigan saw their jobless rates stabilize even as they continued to bleed jobs. That was because thousands of frustrated workers gave up hunting for work and dropped out of the labor force, which means they are not included in the unemployment rate.

California lost 38,800 jobs, the most of any state. But its unemployment rate was unchanged at 12.4 percent, the fifth-highest in the nation. That was because 107,000 people, or 0.6 percent of the state's work force, stopped job-hunting.

Michigan shed 15,700 jobs, but 31,000 people left the labor force. That caused the state's jobless rate to fall slightly, to 14.6 percent from 14.7 percent. Michigan has the nation's highest unemployment rate.

Still, Michigan has actually gained about 10,000 jobs over the past three months, as automakers and other manufacturers have bolstered production to restock inventories depleted over the summer and early fall.

"That's a positive thing for a state that has been doing so terribly for so long," said Dave Iaia, an economist at IHS Global Insight.

Texas lost the second-most jobs: 23,900. That sent its jobless rate to 8.3 percent in December from 8 percent. The next-largest job losses were in Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.

Many states saw sharp drops in restaurant, hotel and other leisure employment, a sign that consumers are still holding back on their spending. Nationwide, the United States lost 25,000 leisure and hospitality jobs in December.


24) "Foreclose the War, Not People's Homes"
By Linden Gawboy
Created 01/16/2010 - 18:11

Minneapolis, MN - Under the call of "Foreclose the war, not people's homes," more than 100 people joined a protest here to mark the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Demonstrators gathered at the home of Leslie Parks, an African American woman who is fighting back against the attempt to foreclose on her home. Later, participants gathered at Saint Joan of Arc Church. The events were organized by the Iraq Peace Action Coalition and the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout.

Speakers at the events included Mel Reeves, a prominent community activist; Jenny Eisert, a leader of the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout, Leslie Parks and other activists.

Speaking in front of her home, Leslie Parks stated "This war has been going on for far too long. It's time to bring our troops home to their families. All of the money that has been used on this war could have been used to pay off every home owner's mortgage in America. It is now time to foreclose on the war, not on families homes."

Jenny Eisert told the crowd assembled at the church, "We are sick and tired of the government helping the banks and Wall Street when they are they are the reason we got into this mess." She also spoke about a bill that will be introduced when the state legislature opens to put a two-year moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions from foreclosed prosperities.

A statement by Iraq Peace Action Coalition says in part, "The U.S. government spends billions for the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, even as working and low income people are facing the worst economic crisis in decades. Millions of people are facing foreclosure, unemployment and budget cuts. On Martin Luther King Jr. weekend we call for and end to the U.S. wars and occupations and for the war budget to instead be used for education, housing, health care and other human needs."

The Iraq Peace Action Coalition statement also calls on people to join anti-war protests on Saturday, March 20. "March 20 will mark seven years of the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. On March 20 there will be protests and demonstrations in Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles. In Minneapolis a protest will also be held that day as part of building a movement to end the wars and occupations."