Saturday, February 20, 2010



Malcolm X Today
(May 19, 1925-February 21, 1965)

Be sure to read the books, Malcolm X Speaks and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. And since we now have the opportunity over the Internet, check out the Malcolm X videos on There's just nothing like seeing him speak and experiencing the confidence and power he and his words exude. I was impressed all over again.

Here are a few film clips of Malcolm X in action. You cannot fail to be impressed.

* We are Living in a Police State

* On the Second Amendment-The Right to Bear Arms

* There's a Worldwide Revolution Going On

* That House Should Catch on Fire and Burn Down


I AM SEAN BELL, black boys speak
by Stacey Muhammad plus
1 year ago 1 year ago: Thu, Jan 1, 2009 6:22pm EST (Eastern Standard Time)

black boys speak

A Short Form Documentary from Wildseed Films
Directed by Stacey Muhammad
Asst. Directed by Shomari Mason
Edited by: Stacey Muhammad & R.H. Bless
Principal Photography: May 17, 2008
Brooklyn, NY
Running Time 10:30



Volunteers Needed!
Postering and Flyering Work Sessions every Tues. 7pm and every Sat. 2pm
Volunteers are needed to help put up posters, hand out leaflets and make alert phone calls to fellow activists. Call 415-821-6545 for more info and for office hours. Come by the office to pick up posters and flyers in English, Spanish or Chinese. Participate in an Outreach Work Session held every Tues. 7pm and Sat. 2pm, meeting at the ANSWER Coalition Office: 2489 Mission St. #24 (at 21st St.), San Francisco, near 24th St. BART/#14, #49 MUNI.

Call 415-821-6545 for leafleting and posting schedule.


SATURDAY, March 6, 2010, 2:00 P.M.
(Preceded by steering committee at 12 noon)
Between 16th and 15th Streets, SF)
For more information call: 415-821-6545


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




On February 20, the Black is Back Coalition will hold a National March and Rally to Defend Haiti, in Miami, Florida. "Our people in Haiti must have reparations, not self serving charity from France and the U.S."

Sisters, brothers, and allies of the Black community, the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations (BIBC) is calling on the African community to take up our responsibility to defend and uplift our sisters and brothers in Haiti in the wake of the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

The relief effort from others getting in touch with their humanity has some positives. However, African people everywhere and all who believe in justice are called on to join the in the National March and Rally to Defend Haiti, which is going to be held in Miami, Florida on February 20th 2010.

We believe the people of Haiti are part of the Black world and therefore African people everywhere have a special responsibility to step forward and address the tragic conditions of our people in Haiti. Furthermore, we understand that the dire poverty of Haiti is a result of French colonialism and U.S. military intervention in Haiti over the last 200 years and the earthquake of January 12, 2010 exacerbated the underdevelopment existent in Haiti since the beginning of its ongoing struggle for liberation. Our people in Haiti are representative of the spirit of resistance and pride that has to be emulated and replicated by the entire African world.

Our people need democracy and self determination, not more military interventions by the U.S., which has sent more than 10,000 troops to subdue our people. Our people in Haiti must have reparations not self serving charity from France and the U.S.

France and all of Europe have worked to make an example of Haiti by brutally starving us there as punishment for leading the first gloriously successful workers' revolution in the world and for creating a constitution that exposed the hypocrisy of the U.S., France and all of Europe by making Haiti a safe haven for anyone fleeing slavery and oppression.

Reparations and democracy for Haiti and the African world is the rallying call of resistance to all freedom loving people in this hour of great challenge. Sisters, brothers and allies, we can't let Haiti become the disaster for African people that hurricane Katrina was, where hundreds of Africans perished due to U.S. government policy. Join the resistance.

Join the March and rally to defend Haiti and demand:

* Reparations must be paid to Haiti by France as repayment for the billions of dollars that Haiti was forced to pay France following the struggle for the abolition of slavery and the creation of the First African Republic in the Western Hemisphere on the 1st January 1804. We also demand that the United States makes reparations to Haiti for its brutal and unjust occupation of Haiti from 1915 - 1934 that culminated in the looting of the Haitian Treasury. This should include the cancellation of all debt. We can't owe them if they owe us!
* The removal of all foreign military troops in Haiti including those from the United States, Canada, Europe and the combined imperial forces of the United Nations. No military occupation of Haiti.
* The repudiation of the Wet Foot/Dry Foot Policy that unfairly discriminates against Africans from Haiti and the establishment of an open door policy that allows Africans from Haiti to enter the United States, and any other country, unrestricted.

Saturday FEB 20th 10AM- Miami, FL

Rally @ Athalie Range Park - 525 NW 62nd St Miami, FL - 10:00AM

March to U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Center - 8801 NW 7th Avenue Miami, FL 12:00PM

More info: (727) 821-6620


390 27TH STREET, OAKLAND, CA 94605


Spokeswoman for the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Founder of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee; Former political prisoner; and son of the assassinated Black Panther leader.

Survivor of the 1985 police bomb that was dropped on the MOVE house in Philly; Former political prisoner and member of the MOVE Organization.

POCC organizer; founder of POCC: Block Report Radio; Associate editor of the San Fransisco Bay View; and one of the last defendants in the Oakland 100 case.

Executive Board Member, Local 10, of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU); Member of th eLabor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal; Organizer of the ILWU West Coast Port Shutdown to Free Mumia on April 24, 1999

Updates from:
Of the Haiti Action Committee

Donations of $10-$1000 (No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.)

There will be a sneak preview of the full-length new film, "OPERATION SMALL AXE," with POCC Minister of Informaiton, JR and Director, Adimu Maoyun on hand...

This event is done in honor of the lifes of freedom fighters Minister Huey P. Newton (Birthday February 17, 1942) and El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Assassination Date, February 21, 1965)


An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!


and attend the trials of JR and Holly Works...

Monday, February 22nd - JR's trial begins
Monday, March 1st - Holly's trial begins

Both events...

8 AM - Protest outside the court
9 AM - Proceedings, Room 11

Alameda County Court House • 12th & Oak St, Oakland

(from 12th Street BART Station, walk down 12th St toward Lake Merritt.
Demonstrate / enter court at 12th and Oak St)

JR Valrey and Holly Works are the remaining defendants of the Oakland 100, the arrestees in the police crackdown against the protests in Oakland over the police murder of Oscar Grant, on New Years Day, 2009. Framed on felony charges, both are facing years behind bars, but... JR and Holly are innocent!

Oscar Grant was a young black retail grocery worker and father of a young daughter. He was out with friends for New Years Eve when he was detained by BART police. He was shot in the back at point blank range by a BART cop as he lay face-down on the Fruitvale station platform on New Years Day. Cell-phone videos taken of the incident by witnesses on the station platform were posted on the internet, and protests erupted in Oakland. Over a week later, the officer, Johannes Mehserle, was finally charged with murder. He was granted a change of venue, and is being tried in Los Angeles.

JR, a journalist with Block Report Radio, Flashpoints (KPFA), and the SF Bay View, and POCC Minister of Information, has consistently covered police brutality and terrorism in Oakland, as well as the framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal and other issues. He was arrested for covering the protests in the street following the police murder of Oscar Grant. The bogus charge: felony arson!

Holly Works, a local musician and activist, was arrested before she even arrived at the protest! Walking down the street with a friend, she was detained and fraudulently charged with... assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer!


Join Unitarian Universalists for Peace-SF to promote the March 20 Coalition antiwar demonstration.:

Sunday, 28 February 2010
12:15 pm
@ Unitarian Universalist Center
1187 Franklin Street (@ Geary), SF, 94109

We invite you to...
-- Lunch (vegetarian) and
-- Movie, Howard Zinn: You Can't be Neutral on a Moving Train

A vegetarian lunch will start @ 12:15. We're asking "guests" for $1 - $5 contribution. (UU members, the usual $5). It includes a brief program on "Why I will be protesting the wars on March 20"

RSVP by 25 Feb so we know how much lunch to prepare: (415.668.9572) or (415.387.2287)

The inspiring documentary on recently departed Howard Zinn will start about !:15 pm. Length approx 78 mins.

Donations will be solicited to benefit the March 20 Coalition to defray expenses of the anti-war march & rally on:

Saturday 20 March 2010
11 am
Civic Center Plaza, SF

This lunch and movie social is hosted by Unitarian Universalists for Peace-SF, a member of the March 20 Coalition, calling for an end to the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan: to use our taxes for health care, jobs and education, not death and destruction!


Rally at Civic Center in Defense
Of Public Education and All Public-Sector Services!
Thursday, March 4, 5:00 P.M.

The San Francisco Labor Council calls on all labor affiliates, community organizations, and student groups to mobilize their memberships to attend the 5 p.m. rally and demonstration at the San Francisco Civic Center on March 4.

This rally is being organized and sponsored by United Educators of San Francisco, AFT Local 2121, and the California Faculty Association as part of the statewide March 4 Strike/Day of Action in Defense of Public Education that was called by a statewide conference of students, faculty, and staff unions held in Berkeley on October 24, 2009.

Responding to layoffs, furloughs and widespread cutbacks, the October 24 conference summoned all sectors of education to struggle collectively to save public education in California. The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and California Teachers Association (CTA) have endorsed the Day of Action. Massive demonstrations are being organized across the state on March 4.

The San Francisco Labor Council believes that those who work in the education sector should not be placed in competition with state workers, where each fights against the other for scarce funds.

That is why we are urging that California enact a program of progressive taxation. This could ensure that all our communities can thrive. We could create ample funds so that everyone has the opportunity, through quality, accessible education, to fully develop their potential and become productive members of society. And, at the same time, we could establish fully funded social services and job security for public workers.


Note: UESF is calling on all teacher unionists and K-12 families to gather at 4 p.m. at the State Building on the corner of Van Ness & McAllister, before joining the mass rally at the Civic Center.


Bay Area Latin American Solidarity Coalition presents:

The Future of Honduras

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Centro del Pueblo
474 Valencia (between 15th and 16th Streets)
San Francisco
$5-25 donations
(No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.)

Come hear Andres Conteris tell the story of his 129 days inside the Brazillian Embassy under seige with President Mel Zelaya after the Honduran coup.

Andres was the last English speaking journalist inside the Embassy, staying until the day that Zelaya was allowed to leave.

Now returned to San Francisco, Andres will tell us about those months withi the Embassy, and inform us of the most recent developments from Honduras.

Andres Conteris is a Latin American Correspondent with Democracy Now! and Flaspoints; has lived in Honduras; and has been involved in human rights activism for many years.

Andres will also be leading a human rights delegation to Honduras later in March, organized through the Task Force on the Americas. Proceeds from the March 10th presentation will benefit the Honduras Delegation Scholarship Fund.

Endorsed by: Chiapas Support Committee; FMLN Northern California; Haiti Action Committee; Nicaragua Center for Community Action; SOA Watch West; Task Force on the Americas


SATURDAY, March 6, 2010, 2:00 P.M.
(Preceded by steering committee at 12 noon)
Between 16th and 15th Streets, SF)
For more information call: 415-821-6545



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!




A Carnival Artist Without a Carnival
A Haitian Artist Struggles to Show His Work

War veterans and resisters say "All Out for March 20th-National March on Washington!"

Bilin Reenacts Avatar Film 12-02-2010 By Haitham Al Katib

Watch the video: "Haiti and the Devil's Curse" at:


Haiti And The 'Devil's Curse' - The Truth About Haiti & Lies Of The Media PART 1

Haiti And The 'Devil's Curse' - The Truth About Haiti & Lies Of The Media PART 2

It's a powerful and accurate history of Haiti--including historical film footage of French, U.S., Canadian, and UN invasions, mass murder and torture, exploitation and occupation of Haiti--featuring Danny Glover.


New York Times Video: For Haitian Children, a Crisis Escalates
Front page of the Times, February 9, 2010

This video shows the frustration of doctors that haven't the supplies or equipment to help severely wounded Haitian children. One child, the doctor explains, had her foot amputated by her family in order to free her from the rubble she was buried under. They finally got her to the hospital after two weeks. By then, of course, the wound was infected. But, not having enough antibiotics, her other foot got infected and that had to be amputated. She is still rotting away at the hospital that can't care for her properly--as hard as the doctors are trying--and they are trying hard.

As it stands now--they haven't got the antibiotics and surgical supplies and they can't get the children to a hospital in the U.S. Since the attempted kidnapping of children by the American missionaries, the children are not allowed out of the country without papers--even when accompanied by their parents. The thing is, nobody has papers in Haiti so the parents can't prove it's their child. Nobody has driver's licenses, birth cirtificates--not the parents nor the children--if such proof exists, it's buried under the rubble along with all their other belongings. So, again, the innocent suffer because of the inability/unwillingness of the wealthiest nation in the world to bring the stuff that is needed to the people who need it because they are experts at bringing bombs, daisy-cutters and white phosphorous, not humanitarian aid.

The article of the same title is:

Paperwork Hinders Airlifts of Ill Haitian Children
February 9, 2010


Gaza in Plain Language: a video by Anthony Lawson and Joe Mowrey
Anthony Lawson and Joe Mowrey have created an amazing video. The narrative is from an article published not long ago in Dissident Voice written by Mr. Mowrey. [See article with the same name, No. 14, below. A warning, however. This video is very graphic and very brutal but this is a truth we must see!] A video that narrates just what happened, without emotion... just the facts, ma'am! Share it with those you know! Now on PTT TV so Google and YouTube can't censor this information totally.


Glen Ford on Black Delusion in the Age of Obama
[A speech delivered to the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations conference. This is a great speech full of information.]


Security in an Insecure Land

What the US/UN police and military are doing in Haiti -- really.

This video takes us to the poorest section of Port-au-Prince, Cité Soleil. It looks like a giant concentration camp in the middle of a desert. The UN Police caravan have nothing with them but cameras and guns! People--men, women, children, are standing alongside the road begging for help. They say they have had no help at all since the earthquake.

The UN police bring NO AID with them. No food, water--nothing! Then the police, guarded by soldiers with automatic weapons, and their camera stop among a large group of people. The UN cop, Alix Sainvil, a Haitian-American United Nations police officer who worked to secure Cité Soleil before the earthquake, is talking to the camera; he explains that since the jail collapsed and prisoners escaped after the earthquake, he worried about how the "gangs" are taking over again.

The camera pans the faces of ALL the men.

One "gang member" (synonym "male") overhears what Soleil is saying to the camera and speaks up and says, "Even if your not a looter, when you walk past a store police will just shoot you for no reason. That's the only thing you do!" That, of course, designates him a "gang member."

The cop, Soleil, says as they are driving away, "that young man is a 'troublemaker.'"

This video illustrates just what the UN has been doing in Haiti. They have been patrolling these slums with automatic weapons and targeting anyone who shows any signs of resistance to the deplorable state of poverty they live in. It is a heinous atrocity orchestrated by the U.S.!

Haiti is US/UN occupied territory now. AND THEY STILL HAVEN'T GIVEN OUT ANY MEANINGFUL AMOUNTS OF AID! They typically pull up with one-tenth of the supplies needed so that most go hungry and get nothing but their fury ignited. And who the hell wouldn't be furious? This is Katrina in powers of ten!

In another article in the Times, "Food Distribution Retooled; Americans Arrested," by DAMIEN CAVE, (number 19, below) "After two weeks of often chaotic food distribution, the United Nations announced plans on Saturday for a coupon-based system that aims to give rice to 10,000 Haitians a day at each of 16 locations around Port-au-Prince." (The article points out that the rice will be given to women only.)

AFTER TWO WEEKS THEY WILL BEGIN THIS WEEK?!?!? I guess they're thinking it'll be cheaper in the long run if more people die first. And that's the bottom line for this government! By the way, the ten Americans were arrested by the Haitian government for trying to take 33 Haitian children across into the Dominican Republic for "adoption." The thing is, they had no proof the children were orphans. I wonder how much they were going to charge for them?

--Bonnie Weinstein

Also see:

Haitian Law Enforcement Returns
The Haitian police are back on patrol in Port-au-Prince.

Haitians Scramble for Aid
France24 reports on desperate Haitians trying to get some aid food in the Cité Soleil district of Port-au-Prince.

U.S. Marines prevent the distribution of food to starving people due to "lack of security." They bring a truck full of supplies then, because their chain of command says they haven't enough men with guns, they drive away with the truckload of food leaving the starving Haitians running after the truck empty-handed! This is shown in detail in the video in the New York Times titled, "Confusion in Haitian Countryside." The Marines-the strong, the brave--turn tail and run! INCAPABLE, EVEN, OF DISTRIBUTING FOOD TO UNARMED, STARVING, MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN!


Lost Generation


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."


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

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

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

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


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

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


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




Lynne Stewart in Jail!

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 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

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 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) Myths Obscure Voodoo, Source of Comfort in Haiti
On Religion
"Voodoo is very close to the ground. It's a neighborhood to neighborhood, courtyard kind of religion. And one where you support each other in time of need."
February 20, 2010

2) States Consider Medicaid Cuts as Use Grows
[Money for healthcare not warfare. A good reason to take to the streets March 20, 11 A.M., Civic Center. For more information: 415-821-6545]
February 19, 2010

3) A Sight All Too Familiar in Poor Neighborhoods
February 19, 2010

4) Pennsylvania: Schools Accused of Spying
National Briefing | Mid-Atlantic
February 19, 2010

5) Fed Move May Signal End to Easy Bank Profits
[You can bet your bottom dollar that the banks will make up their profits through higher banking fees for checking accounts. There will be no more free checking. That's the advantage you have when you own your own corporation and can make your rules up as you]
February 19, 2010

6) Marines Do Heavy Lifting as Afghan Army Lags in Battle
Military Analysis
"Moreover, in multiple firefights in which Times journalists were present, many Afghan soldiers did not aim - they pointed their American-issued M-16 rifles in the rough direction of the incoming small-arms fire and pulled their triggers without putting rifle sights to their eyes. Their rifle muzzles were often elevated several degrees high."
February 21, 2010

7) Mission: Impossible - Dubai
February 19, 2010, 8:54 pm

8) Dutch Government Falls Over Stance on Troops
February 21, 2010

9) Kent Massacre Mural/Wall Blog
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10) Poor Sanitation in Haiti's Camps Adds Disease Risk
February 20, 2010

11) Drones Are Playing a Growing Role in Afghanistan
February 20, 2010

12) G.M. Will Pay Its Chief $9 Million in Cash and Stock
February 20, 2010


1) Myths Obscure Voodoo, Source of Comfort in Haiti
On Religion
"Voodoo is very close to the ground. It's a neighborhood to neighborhood, courtyard kind of religion. And one where you support each other in time of need."
February 20, 2010

Barely 18 hours after an earthquake devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, the Rev. Pat Robertson supplied a televised discourse on the nation's history, theology and destiny. Haiti has suffered, he explained, because its rebellious slaves "swore a pact with the devil" to overthrow the French two centuries ago. Ever since, he went on, "they have been cursed by one thing or another."

Crude and harsh as Mr. Robertson's words were, he deserved a perverse kind of credit for one thing. He actually did recognize the centrality of voodoo to Haiti. In the voluminous media coverage of the quake and its aftermath, relatively few journalists and commentators have done so, and even fewer have gotten voodoo right.

Consider a few facts. Voodoo is one of the official religions of Haiti, and its designation in 2003 merely granted official acknowledgment to a longstanding reality. The slave revolt that brought Haiti independence indeed relied on voodoo, the New World version of ancestral African faiths. To this day, by various scholarly estimates, between 50 and 95 percent of Haitians practice at least elements of voodoo, often in conjunction with Catholicism.

Yet in searching the Lexis-Nexis database of news coverage and doing a Google search earlier this week, I found that Catholicism figured into three times as many accounts of the Haitian earthquake as did voodoo. A substantial share of the reports that did mention voodoo were either recounting Mr. Robertson's canard or adopting it in articles asking Haitian survivors if they felt their country was cursed.

At a putatively more informed level, articles, broadcasts and blogs depicted voodoo as the source of Haiti's poverty and political instability - not because of divine punishment, mind you, but because voodoo supposedly is fatalistic and primitive by nature.

"The kind of religion one practices makes a huge difference in how the community lives - for better or for worse," wrote Rod Dreher on the Web site beliefnet. "I suppose it's at least arguable that the Haitians would be better off at the Church of Christopher Hitchens rather than as followers of voodoo."

For scholars whose expertise runs somewhat deeper, such words have understandably provoked indignation. Worse still, the dismissive attitude about voodoo follows a tawdry history of misrepresentation in American journalism and popular culture.

"The media has reported a lot about voodoo but not much of it very insightful or intelligent," said Diane Winston, a professor of religion and media at the University of Southern California. "Voodoo is one of those flashpoints for Americans because it's exotic, unknown and has strange connotations. It may be a matter of underlying racism because voodoo is African and Caribbean in its origins, or because voodoo seems so different from Christianity that it's the perfect Other." Prof. Leslie G. Desmangles of Trinity College in Hartford, who is the author of several scholarly and reference books about voodoo, views these current caricatures of voodoo as all too familiar.

"There's been a very degrading, derogatory language about voodoo," he said in a recent interview. "It's language that goes back to the 19th century."

The Roman Catholic Church in Haiti began a series of antisuperstition campaigns in the 1860s. These efforts continued until the early 1940s, and they imparted an assumption - often embraced by Haiti's elite - that while Catholicism was legitimate religion, voodoo was pagan heresy.

The occupation of Haiti by American military forces from 1915 until 1934 introduced a cartoonish version of voodoo enduringly into pop culture. The 1929 book "Magic Island," by the Briton W. B. Seabrook, became a best seller in the United States. While Mr. Seabrook was arguably enlightened for his time, the commercial success of his book inspired an array of B-movies in the 1930s and 1940s, like "White Zombie" and "I Walked With a Zombie."

The resulting image of voodoo as sinister sorcery has, amazingly enough, survived into the present multicultural age. A sensitive book about voodoo in modern Haiti, "The Serpent and the Rainbow" by the ethnobotanist Wade Davis, was transformed by Hollywood into a fright movie that recycled every intolerant cliché about the religion.

Within the past year, the animated film "The Frog and the Princess" featured a voodoo magician as its villain. The movie was produced by Disney, which if anything has been relativistic to a fault. But voodoo, apparently, does not even merit the condescending sort of exoticization that Disney afforded American Indian polytheism in "Pocahontas."

In American political rhetoric, "voodoo" functions as a synonym for fraudulent, going back to George H.W. Bush's description of supply-side economics. Would any public figure dare use "Baptist" or "Hindu" or "Hasidic" in the same way?

Superficially, the emphasis on Catholicism in recent reporting from Haiti appears sensible. A majority of Haitians are Catholic; major Catholic buildings were destroyed in the quake; the Catholic Church operates important relief and refugee agencies. Voodoo lacks such a visible infrastructure.

But Catholicism in Haiti, as too few journalists seemed to realize, is not more or less like Catholicism in a Polish parish in Chicago or an Irish one in Boston. It is a Catholicism in symbiosis with voodoo, a Catholicism in which saints are conflated with African deities and dead ancestors serve as interlocutors between God and humanity.

Prof. Patrick Bellegarde-Smith of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, an expert in voodoo as well as a voodoo priest, likens the religious texture of Haiti to that of Japan. The same Japanese person, he said, will observe the Shinto faith for certain rituals, Buddhism for others, and will see no contradiction or mutual exclusivity.

"I'd tell reporters to go into the shanties and find the local voodoo priest," said Amy Wilentz, the author of an acclaimed book on contemporary Haiti, "The Rainy Season." "Voodoo is very close to the ground. It's a neighborhood to neighborhood, courtyard kind of religion. And one where you support each other in time of need."



2) States Consider Medicaid Cuts as Use Grows
February 19, 2010

WASHINGTON - Facing relentless fiscal pressure and exploding demand for government health care, virtually every state is making or considering substantial cuts in Medicaid, even as Democrats push to add 15 million people to the rolls.

Because they are temporarily barred from reducing eligibility, states have been left to cut "optional benefits," like dental and vision care, and reduce payments to doctors and other health care providers. [Reducing payments to doctors and other healthcare providers means that the coverage people may still have, as part of a retirement benefit, will cover much less. As it is, most dental insurance packages are a fraction of the cost to cover the dental work the policyholder needs. In California they have already eliminated both dental and eye care from Medicaid.]

In some states, governors are trying to avoid the deepest cuts by pushing for increases in tobacco taxes or new levies on hospitals and doctors, but many of those proposals are running into election-year trouble in conservative legislatures. [Again, these costs would only be passed on to the poliyholder. So the medical corporations and insurance companies loose nothing.]

In Nevada, which faces an $881 million budget gap, Gov. Jim Gibbons, a Republican, proposed this month to end Medicaid coverage of adult day care, eyeglasses, hearing aids and dentures, and, for a savings of $829,304, to reduce the number of diapers provided monthly to incontinent adults (to 186 from 300). [what an indignity!]

"We are down to the ugly list of options," the state's director of health and human services, Mike Willden, told a legislative committee last week.

The Medicaid program already pays doctors and hospitals at levels well below those of Medicare and private insurance, and often below actual costs. Large numbers of doctors, therefore, do not accept Medicaid patients, and cuts may further discourage participation in the program, which primarily serves low-income children, disabled adults and nursing home residents.

In Kansas, a 10 percent cut in provider payments that took effect on Jan. 1 has prompted such an outcry that Gov. Mark Parkinson, who imposed it, now wants to restore the money by raising tobacco and sales taxes. [Here again, the cost gets passed off to the consumer/policyholder! These taxes mean nothing to the wealthy. But they compound all the other ways that the costs are being passed off to workers as a whole.]

Even if Mr. Parkinson, a Democrat, overcomes resistance in his Republican-controlled Legislature, it will be too late for Dr. C. Joseph Beck, a Wichita ophthalmologist who informed his Medicaid patients last month that he could no longer afford to treat them.

Dr. Beck said that over eight months last year, his practice wrote off $36,000 in losses from treating 17 Medicaid patients. The state-imposed payment cut, he said, was "the final straw."

"I'm out, I'm done," Dr. Beck said in a telephone interview. "I didn't want to. I want to take care of people. But I also have three children and many employees to take care of."

Concerns about health care costs are likely to dominate the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, which begins Saturday in Washington.

In advance of the gathering, administration officials have urged governors to endorse President Obama's health care proposals, or at least to avoid criticizing them. The Democratic plan, which is stalled in Congress, would vastly expand eligibility for Medicaid as one means of reducing the number of uninsured.

But many governors said they were more concerned about the growth of existing health programs. The recession and high unemployment have driven up enrollment in Medicaid while depleting state revenues that help pay for it.

A survey released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found a record one-year increase in Medicaid enrollment of 3.3 million from June 2008 to June 2009, a period when the unemployment rate rose by 4 percentage points. Total enrollment jumped 7.5 percent, to 46.9 million, and 13 states had double-digit increases.

Because Medicaid enrollment often lags behind unemployment, this year's increase could prove even greater.

The National Association of State Medicaid Directors estimates that state budget shortfalls in the coming fiscal year, which begins in July in most states, will total $140 billion. Because Medicaid is one of the largest expenditures in every state budget, and one of the fastest-growing, it makes an unavoidable target.

"For most states, the fiscal situation is still dire, and the Medicaid cuts are significant," said Scott D. Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Governors and legislators have managed to defer the deepest cuts because the federal stimulus package provided $87 billion to states in Medicaid relief. The cost of Medicaid is shared by the federal and state governments, with states setting eligibility, benefit and reimbursement levels within broad federal guidelines, and Washington covering the majority of the expense.

But the stimulus assistance is due to expire at the end of December, in the middle of many states' fiscal years, leaving budget officials to peer over a precipice. Congress and the White House are considering extending the enhanced payments for six more months, at a cost of about $25 billion.

The House has passed such a measure and Mr. Obama included it in his budget this month, but the Senate has not acted.

The extension would not come close to filling the Medicaid gap in many states. In Georgia, for instance, Gov. Sonny Perdue assumed in his budget proposal that the additional federal money would be provided, but that the state would still face a Medicaid imbalance of $608 million, said Dr. Rhonda M. Medows, the commissioner of community health.

Mr. Perdue, a Republican, decided it would be unwise to cut optional benefits because that might drive Medicaid patients into expensive emergency rooms. He proposed instead to levy a 1.6 percent tax on hospital and managed care revenues and to cut payments to many providers by nearly 2 percent.

Without the tax increases, which face opposition in the General Assembly, the state will have to cut provider payments by 16.5 percent, Dr. Medows said.

"I won't have any primary care doctors left, much less specialists," she said. "Certainly down here nobody likes to talk about taxes, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do what's right for a whole lot of people."

In the Kaiser survey, almost every state reported that Medicaid enrollment for the current fiscal year was exceeding expectations, making midyear budget cuts necessary.

The options are limited by several realities. To qualify for Medicaid dollars provided in the stimulus package, states agreed not to tighten eligibility for low-income people. And any time a state cuts spending on Medicaid, it loses at least that much in federal matching money.

Despite the ban on restricting eligibility, hard-hit states like California and Arizona are considering proposals by their governors that would remove hundreds of thousands from the rolls once the federal financing ends. Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, a Republican, has called for eliminating Medicaid coverage for 310,000 childless adults and ending the Children's Health Insurance Program to help close a two-year budget gap of about $4.5 billion.

Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, is proposing the largest cuts in the history of TennCare, his state's Medicaid program. To trim 9 percent of the TennCare budget, he would establish a $10,000 cap on inpatient hospital services for nonpregnant adults and would limit coverage of X-rays, laboratory services and doctor's office visits.

"I have no choice," Mr. Bredesen said.


3) A Sight All Too Familiar in Poor Neighborhoods
February 19, 2010

MILWAUKEE - Shantana Smith, a single mother who had not paid rent for three months, watched on a recent morning as men from Eagle Moving carried her tattered furniture to the sidewalk.

Bystanders knew too well what was happening.

"When you see the Eagle movers truck, you know it's time to get going," a neighbor said.

On Milwaukee's impoverished North Side, the mover's name is nearly as familiar as McDonald's, because Eagle often accompanies sheriffs on evictions. They haul tenants' belongings into storage or, as Ms. Smith preferred, leave them outside for tenants to truck away.

Here and in swaths of many cities, evictions from rental properties are so common that they are part of the texture of life. New research is showing that eviction is a particular burden on low-income black women, often single mothers, who have an easier time renting apartments than their male counterparts, but are vulnerable to losing them because their wages or public benefits have not kept up with the cost of housing.

And evictions, in turn, can easily throw families into cascades of turmoil and debt.

"Just as incarceration has become typical in the lives of poor black men, eviction has become typical in the lives of poor black women," said Matthew Desmond, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin whose research on trends in Milwaukee since 2002 provides a rare portrait of gender patterns in inner-city rentals.

The study found that one of every 25 renter-occupied households in the city is evicted each year. In black neighborhoods, the rate is one in 14. These figures include only court-ordered evictions; the true toll, experts say, is greater because far more tenants, under threat of eviction, move in with relatives, into more run-down apartments or, sometimes, into homeless shelters.

Women from largely black neighborhoods in Milwaukee constitute 13 percent of the city's population, but 40 percent of those evicted. Housing lawyers in Los Angeles and New York described a similar predominance of minority women, including Hispanic women, in eviction cases. (The figures do not include displaced renters from foreclosed properties.)

Even for working mothers, evictions and the ensuing damage to social ties, schooling and credit ratings can be an ever-hovering threat. Clarissa Adams, 38, a mother of three in Milwaukee, has been evicted four times in 10 years and is now trying desperately to break the pattern.

Since July she has shared a $570-a-month two-bedroom apartment with her daughters, ages 15, 18 and 23, and two small grandchildren. She is studying for a degree in social services and lost her job as a cashier in the fall after a dispute with her boss.

Unable to pay the last three months rent, Ms. Adams received some emergency assistance through Community Advocates, a private group. To stave off eviction, she promised to pay the landlord $1,000 by Feb. 15, just as her tax refund arrived. She owes an additional $955 by March 1 and hopes to scrape the money together while she looks for a job.

Previous evictions sent her into a deep depression, she said, and had temporarily split up the family, with her children staying a relative who did not want her.

"We just need someplace where we can be a family," Ms. Adams said.

Compared with foreclosures, which are carefully tracked, national data on evictions, especially those not involving a court decision, remain scarce, but the annual total is almost certainly in the millions, said Chester Hartman, an urban planner with the Poverty and Race Research Action Council in Washington. The role of evictions in the cycle of poverty had been relatively overlooked by scholars and officials, he said.

In one sign of rising concern, Congress in the stimulus act last year provided $1.5 billion for emergency housing aid, and that may help explain why legal evictions in Milwaukee did not surge last year. But this temporary measure and other rent subsidies help only a fraction of the poor.

The potentially crippling impact of evictions on family finances and prospects are not widely appreciated, said Nicolas P. Retsinas, director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. "There is a contagion effect," he said. "It's not just the loss of shelter. Eviction can force a change in school and break a very tenuous tie to a job."

The disparate effect on minority women has a host of causes, according to landlords, housing lawyers and Mr. Desmond's research, which he conducted for his doctoral dissertation. The work is not yet published, but has been praised by experts who have seen it for offering new insights into women's poverty.

Marriage is an exception among the poor, and single mothers need larger, more expensive housing than single men. At the same time, black women are more often able to get leases because they are likelier to have steady incomes, whether from work or public benefits, and far less likely to have disqualifying criminal records.

Irresponsible or destructive tenant behavior is sometimes a factor. Three landlords in Milwaukee said in interviews that live-in fathers or boyfriends had sometimes spent women's rent money or engaged in illegal activities that led to eviction, and some women stopped paying when they turned to drugs.

But there is also evidence that women more readily complain to city agencies about repairs, potentially angering landlords who then find excuses to evict them.

And police reports of domestic violence can backfire on women, leading some landlords to seek evictions out of fear that they will be fined for tolerating disturbances.

Sometimes the causes of evictions are hotly disputed. Ms. Smith said she had withheld rent because the apartment was not maintained. But the landlord said that she had never made a formal complaint and failed to show up for a court hearing.

Still, at the root of most evictions is money, which can evaporate with an illness, a job loss or other crisis.

Angela Sandifer, 28, can just afford the $950 rental she shares with four children and a cast of relatives because she receives disability payments for three of the children. But in early January, she said, her rent money was stolen from a wallet at home when she rushed her 9-year-old daughter to the hospital.

A lawyer from Legal Action of Wisconsin helped her delay eviction and Ms. Sandifer, who has started a part-time job, hopes to use her first paycheck to pay off the back rent.

Tim Ballering, who owns or manages some 900 rental units in Milwaukee, said a basic problem was the growing imbalance between low-end incomes and rents. A minimum-wage worker may gross little more than $1,100 a month; a welfare recipient in Wisconsin receives $673 a month, while two-bedroom units start at about $475.

"On $673 a month, how do you buy tennis shoes for the kids, clean shirts for school and still pay your rent?" Mr. Ballering said.


4) Pennsylvania: Schools Accused of Spying
National Briefing | Mid-Atlantic
February 19, 2010

A suburban Philadelphia school district used school-issued laptop Webcams to spy on students at home, a family claims in a federal lawsuit. Lower Merion School District officials can activate the Webcams without students' knowledge or permission, the suit said. The plaintiffs, Michael and Holly Robbins, suspect the cameras captured students and family members as they undressed and in other embarrassing situations. The district prides itself on its technology initiatives, including giving laptops to its 2,300 high school students. The district could not immediately confirm whether it has the ability to activate the Webcams remotely, a spokesman said.


5) Fed Move May Signal End to Easy Bank Profits
[You can bet your bottom dollar that the banks will make up their profits through higher banking fees for checking accounts. There will be no more free checking. That's the advantage you have when you own your own corporation and can make your rules up as you]
February 19, 2010

Federal Reserve to Wall Street: The days of easy money - and, just maybe, easy profits - are numbered.

News on Thursday that the Fed would raise the interest rate that it charges banks for temporary loans was seen by lenders as a sign that their long, profitable period of ultralow rates was coming to an end.

The move suggested that policy makers believed the nation's banks had healed enough to withdraw some of the extraordinary support that Washington put in place during the financial crisis. And, while all those bailouts stabilized the banking industry, it was low rates from the Fed that helped propel banks' rapid recovery.

Even though the Fed had telegraphed its intention to raise the largely symbolic discount rate, the timing of the move, coming between scheduled policy meetings, caught some economists by surprise. Stocks and bonds sank in after-hours trading, suggesting Friday could be an anxious day for the markets.

"This is a victory lap by the Fed," Zach Pandl, economist at Nomura Securities, said. "It is a signal that the Fed is very confident in the health of the banking system. Fundamentally, these actions are a sign of policy success."

Since the crisis, the Fed has nursed banks back to health with extraordinarily low rates. Banks have been able to borrow money cheaply and put it to work in lucrative ways, whether using the money to make loans at higher rates or to trade in the markets.

The difference between short- and long-term interest rates is near a record high, presenting a profitable opportunity for banks. The difference between two- and 10-year Treasury rates, for instance, is about 2.9 percentage points. Buoyed by such policies, banks' profits - and banking stocks - have rocketed over the last year.

Many economists said banks were no longer borrowing in large amounts from the Fed using the discount rate, and so the move on Thursday was, in a sense, purely technical.

But it was a sign that the threat of a collapse in financial markets - so real just a year and a half ago - had dissipated. Some economists said that, with unemployment high and the economy growing slowly, the Fed would not be raising the more important benchmark interest rates for some time.

"This does not say anything about interest rates, but it does say something about what has happened on the ground, that the financial industry is not under same stress as it was previously," Frederic S. Mishkin, a professor at Columbia and a former member of the Fed's board of governors, said.

Others countered that the move at least brought forward the moment when interest rates would begin to rise again - and put an end to the banks' period of easy money.

Louis V. Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP, said it demonstrated "a willingness to entertain an early start to the real business of retreating from the Fed's very accommodating stance."

Unnerved by this prospect, at least in the short term, the bond market fell after the Fed's announcement, driving up the yield on 10-year Treasury notes about seven basis points, or seven-hundredths of a percentage point, to 3.8 percent.

Stock futures also fell in after-hours trading. Financial shares were particularly hard hit, with shares of big banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America each falling about 1 percent.

The uncertainty over what the Fed will do next, and when, is a big worry for bankers.

"It creates real havoc in managing a bank when you have to ride through these cycles when interest rates change rapidly," said Douglas J. Leech, the chairman and chief executive of Centra Bank, in Morgantown, W.Va.

Many banks are still coping with bad mortgages and other loans. "This poses a new threat," Mr. Leech said.

Rising interest rates will invariably squeeze banks' profit margins and reduce the value of some lenders' own investments. Taken together, those developments will hurt banks' bottom lines, a particular worry for the many small and midsize banks that are struggling to cope with the weak economy.

Many banks have tried to prepare for an inevitable rise in rates by locking up customers' deposits, which provide a stable source of funding for loans. Centra, for instance, began extending the term of its certificates of deposits to 16 months, from 12 months, last year. The bank also began offering low-rate loans that it can reset at higher rates in 18 months, in case, as Mr. Leech expects, interest rates rise.


6) Marines Do Heavy Lifting as Afghan Army Lags in Battle
Military Analysis
"Moreover, in multiple firefights in which Times journalists were present, many Afghan soldiers did not aim - they pointed their American-issued M-16 rifles in the rough direction of the incoming small-arms fire and pulled their triggers without putting rifle sights to their eyes. Their rifle muzzles were often elevated several degrees high."
February 21, 2010

MARJA, Afghanistan - As American Marines and Afghan soldiers have fought their way into this Taliban stronghold, the performance of the Afghan troops has tested a core premise of the American military effort here: in the not-too-distant future, the security of this country can be turned over to indigenous forces created at the cost of American money and blood.

Scenes from this corner of the battlefield, observed over eight days by two New York Times journalists, suggest that the day when the Afghan Army will be well led and able to perform complex operations independently, rather than merely assist American missions, remains far off.

The effort to train the Afghan Army has long been troubled, with soldiers and officers repeatedly falling short. And yet after nearly a decade of American and European mentorship and many billions of dollars of American taxpayer investment, American and Afghan officials have portrayed the Afghan Army as the force out front in this important offensive against the Taliban.

Statements from Kabul have said the Afghan military is planning the missions and leading both the fight and the effort to engage with Afghan civilians caught between the Taliban and the newly arrived troops.

But that assertion conflicts with what is visible in the field. In every engagement between the Taliban and one front-line American Marine unit, the operation has been led in almost every significant sense by American officers and troops. They organized the forces for battle, transported them in American vehicles and helicopters from Western-run bases into Taliban-held ground, and have been the primary fighting force each day.

The Afghan National Army, or A.N.A., has participated. At the squad level it has been a source of effective, if modestly skilled, manpower. Its soldiers have shown courage and a willingness to fight.

Afghan soldiers have also proved, as they have for years, to be more proficient than Americans at searching Afghan homes and identifying potential Taliban members - two tasks difficult for outsiders to perform.

By all other important measures, though - from transporting troops, directing them in battle and coordinating fire support to arranging modern communications, logistics, aviation and medical support - the mission in Marja has been a Marine operation conducted in the presence of fledgling Afghan Army units, whose officers and soldiers follow behind the Americans and do what they are told.

That fact raises questions about President Obama's declared goal of beginning to withdraw American forces in July 2011 and turning over security to the Afghan military and the even more troubled police forces.

There have been ample examples in the offensive of weak Afghan leadership and poor discipline to boot.

In northern Marja, a platoon of Afghan soldiers landed with a reinforced Marine rifle company, Company K, Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, which was inserted by American helicopters.

The Marine officers and noncommissioned officers here quickly developed a mixed impression of the Afghan platoon, whose soldiers were distributed through their ranks.

After several days, no Marine officer had seen an Afghan use a map or plan a complicated patrol. In another indicator of marginal military readiness, the Afghan platoon had no weapons heavier than a machine gun or a rocket-propelled grenade.

Afghan officers organized no indirect fire support whatsoever in the week of fighting. All supporting fire for K Company - airstrikes, rockets, artillery and mortars - were coordinated by Marines. The Afghans also relied entirely on the American military for battlefield resupply.

Moreover, in multiple firefights in which Times journalists were present, many Afghan soldiers did not aim - they pointed their American-issued M-16 rifles in the rough direction of the incoming small-arms fire and pulled their triggers without putting rifle sights to their eyes. Their rifle muzzles were often elevated several degrees high.

Shouts from the Marines were common. "What you shooting at, Hoss?" one yelled during a long battle on the second day, as an Afghan pulled the trigger repeatedly and nonchalantly at nothing that was visible to anyone else.

Not all of their performance was this poor.

Sgt. Joseph G. Harms, a squad leader in the company's Third Platoon, spent a week on the eastern limit of the company's area, his unit alone with what he described as a competent Afghan contingent. In the immediacy of fighting side by side with Afghans, and often tested by Taliban fighters, he found his Afghan colleagues committed and brave.

"They are a lot better than the Iraqis," said the sergeant, who served a combat tour in Iraq. "They understand all of our formations, they understand how to move. They know how to flank and they can recognize the bad guys a lot better than we can."

Capt. Joshua P. Biggers, the Company K commander, said that the Afghan soldiers "could be a force multiplier."

But both Marines suggested that the Afghan deficiencies were in the leadership ranks. "They haven't had a chance yet to step out on their own," Sergeant Harms said. "So they're still following us."

Shortfalls in the Afghan junior officer corps were starkly visible at times.

On the third day of fighting, when Company K was short of water and food, the company command group walked to the eastern limit of its operations area to supervise two Marine platoons as they seized a bridge, and to arrange fire support. The group was ambushed twice en route, coming under small-arms fire from Taliban fighters hiding on the far side of a canal.

After the bridge was seized, Captain Biggers prepared his group for the walk back. Helicopters had dropped food and water near the bridge. He ordered his Marines and the Afghans to fill their packs with it and carry it to another platoon to the west that was nearly out of supplies.

The Marines loaded up. They would walk across the danger area again, this time laden with all the water and food they could carry. The Afghans watched silently. Captain Biggers asked the Afghan platoon commander, Capt. Amanullah, to have his men pack their share.

Captain Amanullah refused, though his own soldiers to the west were out of food, too.

Captain Biggers told the interpreter to put his position in more clear terms. "Tell him that if he doesn't carry water and chow, he and his soldiers can't have any of ours," he said, his voice rising.

Captain Amanullah at last directed one or two of his soldiers to carry a sleeve of bottled water or a carton of rations - a small concession. The next day, the Afghan soldiers to the west complained that they had no more food and were hungry.

It was not the first time that Captain Amanullah's sense of entitlement, and indifference toward his troops' well-being, had manifested itself.

The day before the helicopter assault, back at Camp Leatherneck, the largest Marine base in Helmand Province, a young Marine offered a can of Red Bull energy drink to an Afghan soldier in exchange for one of the patches on the soldier's uniform.

Captain Amanullah, reclining on his cot, saw the deal struck. After the Afghan soldier had taken possession of his Red Bull, the captain ordered the young man to hand him the can.

The captain opened it and took a long drink, then gave what was left to his lieutenant and sergeants, who each had a sip. The last sergeant handed the empty can back to the soldier, and ordered him to throw it away.

The Marines watched with mixed amusement and disgust. In their culture, the officers and senior enlisted Marines eat last. "So much for troop welfare," one of them said.

Lackluster leadership took other forms. On Friday night, a week into the operation, Captain Biggers told the Afghan soldiers that they would accompany him the next day to a large meeting with local elders. In the morning, the Afghans were not ready.

The Marines stood impatiently, waiting while the forces that were said by the officials in Kabul to be leading the operation slowly mustered. Captain Biggers, by now used to the delays, muttered an acronym that might sum up a war now deep into its ninth year.

"W.O.A.," he said. "Waiting on the A.N.A."


7) Mission: Impossible - Dubai
February 19, 2010, 8:54 pm

Wanna see the best spy thriller of the year? Here's the trailer:
And, if you have half an hour, the feature (it's worth the time investment, trust me):
[Both videos are on this]

This astonishing, and disturbingly bloodless, look at international espionage comes courtesy of Dubai's security services, who are trying to piece together exactly how the military commander of Hamas, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, was assassinated in room 230 of the Al Bustan Rotana hotel on Jan. 20. But the identity of the murderers (and how they managed to get out of the room with the inside latch hooked up) is not the overrriding mystery here. Rather, there are three pertinent questions raging in the blogosphere: Did the killers (and most bloggers and news accounts assume they were Mossad agents) "botch" the job by being caught on surveillance cameras? If Israel is proved responsible, was the intelligence coup worth the diplomatic price it seems about to pay because some of the killers used falsified United Kingdom passports (with the names of living British citizens) to enter and leave Dubai? And, as we step back and remember that a human life was ended just off-camera, what is the morality of these sorts of targeted murders? (This question is all the more relevant to an American audience given the fact that, as I discussed two weeks ago, the Obama administration claims the right to assassinate Americans suspected of involvement in terrorist plots.)

Will a cloak-and-dagger operation against a Hamas leader get Israel into diplomatic hot water?

Before we search for answers, let's find out a bit more about the late Mr. Mabhouh and how the Mossad goes about its deadly work. "In the past year, al-Mabhouh had moved to the top of Mossad's list of targets, each of which must be legally approved under guidelines laid down over half a century ago by Meir Amit, the most innovative and ruthless director-general of the service," reports Gordon Thomas of The Telegraph. "Mossad is one of the world's smallest intelligence services. But it has a back-up system no other outfit can match. The system is known as sayanim, a derivative of the Hebrew word lesayeah, meaning to help ... Any of these helpers could have been involved in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Mossad has recently expanded its network of sayanim into Arab countries."

A Haaretz report adds more details, and more mystery: "A Hamas source yesterday told Haaretz that Mabhouh had been imprisoned in Egypt for almost a year in 2003, and that he was wanted not only by the Israelis, but also by the Jordanians and the Egyptians and did not lack enemies ... After Mabhouh's body was discovered the next morning, January 20, it was taken for examination. Burns from a stun gun were found under his ear, in his groin and on his chest. Pathologists discovered his nose bled before death; blood was found on a pillow they believe was placed over his nose and mouth to suffocate him."

The editorial writers at The National, the English-language daily out of Dubai's sister-city, Abu Dhabi, thinks that this time the Israelis went over a line.

Israel has some explaining to do, but not the sort that the country's foreign ministry is contemplating. It thinks that Israel's increasingly negative image can be countered with better public relations, that negative stereotypes of Israelis can be reversed by having more people tell Israel's side of the story. But sometimes public diplomacy falls short. The murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh has yet to be conclusively tied to Israel but the evidence of its guilt is swiftly building. Israel cannot continue to stay silent on the issue; questions must be answered ...

It is past time that Israel abandoned its blind determination to kill its enemies. Surely it must be obvious that the political cost outweighs any potential benefit. Unfortunately, it is not. Israel appears to be so single-minded in its purpose that it ignores the self-destructive nature of its behaviour.

"The drama is both hypocritical and unusual," adds Larisa Alexandrovna of at-Largely. "All spy agencies have these types of operations - not this elaborate necessarily ... The reason this drama is so unusual, however, is that the hit team got fingered by an unfriendly (to them) and very publicly so. They also committed crimes against citizens of an allied nation by stealing their identities to accomplish the mission. The latter has left the UK with no choice but to act shocked (shocked I tell you) about Mossad's alleged (but obvious) involvement in the assassination of a Hamas leader."

Robert Fisk of The Independent, with characteristic humility, thinks Israel will pay a dear price.

Intelligence agencies - who in the view of this correspondent are often very unintelligent - have long used false passports. ... But the Emirates' new information may make some European governments draw in their breath - and they had better have good replies to the questions. Intelligence services - Arab, Israeli, European or American - often adopt an arrogant attitude towards those from whom they wish to hide. How could the Arabs pick up on a Mossad killing, if that is what it was? Well, we shall see.

Collusion is a word the Arabs understand. It speaks of the 1956 Suez War, when Britain and France co-operated with Israel to invade Egypt. Both London and Paris denied the plot. They were lying. But for an Arab Gulf country which suspects its former masters (the UK, by name) may have connived in the murder of a visiting Hamas official, this is apparently too much.

Steve Clemons of the Washington Note thinks the killing is a tragedy for the peace process, but that Hamas will finally get the respect it deserves:

Hamas has been trying to diversify its relationships and adjust its posture to potentially join a unity government in Palestine that could negotiate with Israel and various Arab and Western stakeholders in the region. while Mabhouh was a victim

Ironically, the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh - whose picture will no doubt be added now to a wall of pictured martyrs from the Hamas movement in the headquarters of Khaled Mashal (in fact the wall of martyrs is to my left in the video interview I did above with Khaled Mashal) - may create such international frustration with Israel for disrupting efforts at regional stabilization and negotiations that there may be a real push to now end the international isolation of Hamas.

"The very public response to the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh killing, as well as certain details like the involvement of the Palestinian Authority, is sure to bring some interesting scrutiny on our own practices," writes the liberal blogger Emptywheel, who also thinks the security camera footage was unanticipated. "Did the clowns who botched the Abu Omar rendition in Italy teach this Mossad squad tradecraft? Or did they just misjudge Dubai's willingness to play host to assassinations?"

The Jerusalem Post, however, thinks things went off without a hitch:

Irrespective of who carried out the January 19 assassination of senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, the operation was meticulously planned and successfully executed, and despite a surprisingly impressive investigation by Dubai police, the hit cannot be considered a botched job ...

Unlike the failed 1997 Mossad assassination attempt on Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan, local security forces in Dubai were unable to capture the assassins. Today, there are no urgent and massive potential repercussions for diplomatic relations with an Arab state that is regionally vital to Israel, as was the case in 1997, when Jordanian-Israeli relations were strained nearly to the breaking point.

What about this reaction from Britain? "David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, has described the use of fake British passports in the assassination as an 'outrage' and has said he remains determined to 'get to the bottom of' the affair," according to The Telegraph. "The identities of six Britons living in Israel were stolen by members of an alleged hit squad which killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January ... Mr Miliband denied that the UK Government was merely 'going through the motions' of asking questions about the incident."

Nothing to lose sleep over, says Jonathan Spyer of The Jerusalem Post. "The warnings of major diplomatic fallout are probably overblown. While the British government (and the governments of France and Ireland, whose passports were also reportedly used in the operation) will be understandably angry, past experience shows that disputes in this area tend to be treated as belonging to the special, sealed-off category of 'national security.' Where states have good reasons to maintain healthy ties with one another, such incidents are rarely allowed to muddy the waters for long."

And, if the most recent scoop from The Daily Mail can be believed, the waters were crystal clear the whole time:

MI6 was tipped off that Israeli agents were going to carry out an 'overseas operation' using fake British passports, it was claimed last night. A member of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, said the Foreign Office was also told hours before a Hamas terrorist chief was assassinated in Dubai. The tip-off did not say who the target would be or even where the hit squad would be in action. But the claim from a credible source that the Government had some prior knowledge of the abuse of UK passports will strengthen calls for ministers to come clean about what they knew and when.

Commentary's Noah Pollak takes aim at those who feel the operation was compromised. "The people calling the operation 'sloppy' and a 'debacle' seem to actually believe that the Mossad is unaware that there are video cameras in airports and hotels today, or that the passport photos of the agents would not be revealed to the public," he writes. "More important, the fact of the matter is that the team got into Dubai, rubbed out a bad guy, and got out. No drama, nobody was captured, and nobody knows the real identities of the team or where they are now. Given the extraordinary risk and complexity of the operation, that's a win in my book. And now the Iranians, Syrians, and their terrorist clients have been given another reminder that their people aren't safe anywhere - even in the heart of the Arab world."

He also has thoughts on the morality of the act: "And as for the people who are whining about 'passport fraud' misdemeanors while ignoring the felony staring them in the face: what do you say about the fact that the terrorist in charge of illegally smuggling missiles from Iran to Hamas apparently had an open invite to hang out in Dubai? This isn't a problem?"

Because today's thrillers can never have enough plot twists, we almost should have been expecting Friday's odd bit of news. "The arrest of two Palestinians suspected of being involved in the assassination of a senior Hamas official in Dubai, as well as the publication of video clips depicting the assassins, has reignited the finger pointing between Hamas and Fatah," reports Ali Waked of YNet. "Hamas claimed Tuesday that the two arrested men, who served in the Palestinian security forces, are proof that the Palestinian Authority played a role in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on January 20. The PA denied the allegations. 'If they want, Hamas can reveal the identity of the suspects.' challenged the PA."

"The loose end at which people will be most tempted to pull will be the cloning of the passports of actual British residents in Israel," responds Alan A. at the smart Britblog Harry's Place. "Not only did that put these poor fellows' lives at risk: it would also be a crime under Israeli law. Israeli commentators are very unhappy. So are the individuals whose identities were stolen." I smell a conspiracy theory .... and Alan obliges:

We now enter the realms of reverse 9/11 Troof. Just as it is commonly believed in the Arab world that "Arabs are not sophisticated enough to fly planes into towers", one might advance the argument that just about the stupidest thing that Mossad could do would be to clone the passports of actual identifiable citizens, living in Israel, of one - and only one - of its allies. Including one chap with a rare name and (until a couple of days ago) an open Twitter feed! Could Mossad really be that stupid?

Yes, of course it could be. That conclusion will sit uncomfortably with the widely held conception that Mossad is fiendishly clever, however. In which case, no doubt, it will be argued that the spectacular incompetence of the choice of cloned passport-holders its itself evidence that forces unknown are either trying to frame Mossad or force Israel to break its "no comment" policy.

O.K., so some unidentified party both eliminates one of Israel's top enemies but also frames the Mossad for the job? I doubt Alan A. really buys that. But after watching that surveillance tape again, I'm ready to believe anything.


8) Dutch Government Falls Over Stance on Troops
February 21, 2010

BERLIN - A last-ditch effort to keep Dutch troops in Afghanistan brought down the governing coalition in the Netherlands early Saturday, immediately raising fears that the Western military coalition fighting the war is increasingly at risk.

Even as the allied offensive in the Taliban stronghold of Marja continued Saturday, it appeared almost certain that most of the 2,000 Dutch troops would be gone from Afghanistan by the end of the year. The question plaguing military planners was whether a Dutch departure would embolden the war's critics in other allied countries, where debate over deployment is continuing, and hasten the withdrawal of their troops as well.

"If the Dutch go, which is the implication of all this, that could open the floodgates for other Europeans to say, 'The Dutch are going, we can go, too,' " said Julian Lindley-French, professor of defense strategy at the Netherlands Defense Academy in Breda. "The implications are that the U.S. and the British are going to take on more of the load."

The collapse of the Dutch government comes as the Obama administration continues to struggle to get European allies to commit more troops to Afghanistan to bolster its attempts to win back the country from a resurgent Taliban. President Obama has made the Afghan war a cornerstone of his foreign policy and, after months of debate, committed tens of thousands more troops to the effort.

The Dutch government had promised voters to bring most of its troops home by August. But after entreaties from the United States, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende tried to find a compromise to extend the Dutch presence, at least on a scaled-back basis. Instead, the Labor Party pulled out of the government after an acrimonious 16-hour cabinet meeting that ran into the early hours of Saturday morning.

The Dutch troops have been important to the war effort, despite their small numbers, because about 1,500 of them were posted in the dangerous southern Afghan province of Oruzgan.

Analysts said that new elections in the Netherlands, as well as the departure of the Dutch troops, now appeared inevitable.

As in many other parts of Europe, the war in Afghanistan has been increasingly unpopular among voters in the Netherlands.

But the tension in the Netherlands also reveals how deep the fissures over the war have grown within the NATO alliance.

As the number of military casualties has grown - 21 Dutch soldiers have died - the public back home has grown increasingly resentful at the refusal of some other allies, in particular the Germans, to join the intense fighting in the south.

While the question of retaining troops in Afghanistan was far from the only issue pulling apart the parties in the governing coalition there, it proved to be the breaking point for the government. Officials were also divided over a controversial decision to increase the retirement age and the impending need for deep budget cuts.

The probable loss of the Dutch contingent in the Afghan war and the continuing resistance to significant increases in manpower by other American allies demonstrated the extent to which Mr. Obama's appeal in Europe has not translated into a significant expansion of support for the war effort. The dividend expected from the departure of President George W. Bush, who was so unpopular in capitals across the Atlantic, has not materialized.

"The support for Obama was always double-faced," said Stefan Kornelius, foreign editor of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. "It was never really heart-felt. People loved what they heard, but they never felt obliged to support Obama beyond what they were already doing."

The Dutch troops were deployed to Oruzgan in 2006 and were originally supposed to stay for two years; that mandate already had been extended another two years to August 2010. The Dutch government was under pressure from the United States to extend it again, even in the face of popular opposition, when the Labor Party balked.

Since taking office, Mr. Obama has been pressing the non-American members of the coalition to increase their contribution. While the allies have not promised as many troops as the United States had hoped, they have agreed to deploy thousands more. The Dutch contingent is part of the roughly 40,000 troops from 43 countries that are aiding the United States in Afghanistan, most of those from NATO.

The United States is fielding about 75,000 troops, but that number is expected to rise to about 98,000 by the end of the summer.

But the Dutch will be leaving unless a new deal can be reached. Local analysts said that would be all but impossible in the tumult following the government's collapse.

"I don't think there's room, with a government falling and waiting for elections, for there to be a decision," said Edwin Bakker, who runs the security and conflict program at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

"The military mission will stop the 1st of August," said Robin Middel, a spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Defense. "They have time until the end of the year to pick up their gear and their stuff and bring it back to the Netherlands."

Although American officials are concerned that an exodus by the Dutch could prompt other allies to follow suit, a sudden rush to exit seemed unlikely.

"There is a groundswell of distress in Europe, of feeling this isn't working, but does that translate into electorates saying we're going to vote you down? I don't see that," said Constanze Stelzenmüller, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin.

But the collapse of the Dutch government reinforced the difficulty of holding together an alliance made up of a multitude of countries, each with its own fractious domestic politics.

On Saturday Mr. Balkenende informed Queen Beatrix, the country's head of state, of the government's resignation. According to the Dutch media, she is vacationing in Austria.

"The official decision is likely to come in a couple days," said Mireille Beentjes, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, referring to the question of whether new elections would be held. By law the election would have to be held within 83 days of the queen's decision.

"The majority of the Dutch people say, 'Go, we've done enough. Let other countries do it now.' That's a big majority and also the majority in the Parliament," said Nicoline van den Broek-Laman Trip, a former senator from the Liberal Party, who said she supported the Dutch mission but also believed that it was time to pull back most of the troops, leaving F-16s and perhaps trainers for local Afghan troops.

"They've got a small military," said Mr. Lindley-French of the Netherlands Defense Academy. "The force has suffered a great deal of wear and tear. The Dutch have hung in there.

"The real failing is the ability of NATO partners and allies to rotate through the south and the east of the country, where the real center of the struggle exists."

Dexter Filkins contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Scott Sayare from Paris.


9) Kent Massacre Mural/Wall Blog
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Associate Professor
Artistic Director/ Labor Art & Mural Project

Dear Friends,

May 4, 2010, will mark the 40-year anniversary of the massacre at Kent
State University in Ohio.

The events of that day - the killing of four and wounding of nine
students, sparked a national student strike, the largest such action
in US history. Ten days later, two students were killed and at least
twelve wounded at Jackson State University in Mississippi - and the
strike spread and deepened.

The campus shutdowns marked a turning point in the fight against the
war, as students took over the universities and reached out to the
working class, particularly within the armed forces.

I was the chairman of the Kent Student Mobilization Committee Against
the War, and an eyewitness to the slaughter - among the victims were
close friends and fellow activists. After the shootings, like
thousands of others, I threw myself into building the strike - telling
our story at meetings and rallies around the country demanding an end
to the war.

I did not return to Kent. The strike led me to Austin, Texas,
organizing for the SMC and the regional anti-war coalition. From that
vantage point I saw how the student movement provided important
support to one of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of
the US working class - the movement of active-duty GIs that was
critical in forcing the US to withdraw from Southeast Asia.

Years later, I returned to school to study art. Since then, I've tried
to paint murals that reveal the hidden history and martyrs of our
class: a monument to the heroes of Chernobyl in the Ukraine, Malcolm X
in Belfast, Karen Silkwood for energy workers, Ben Linder in
Nicaragua, Rachel Corrie in Palestine and others.

But I have yet to paint a mural about May 4. I suppose I was hoping
that at some point they'd break down and invite me back to Kent. But,
as the witnesses, participants and observers of those events become
older, and memories dim, (particularly my own,) it seems like I better
get going and put some paint on the wall.

I'd like to begin by asking for your participation. I have set up a
temporary blog site at to post
recollections of that day and those times - what the Kent State
Massacre meant to you.

You can write just a few words or a longer story. It can be about
political events, your reactions, how it affected your life, a
recollection about someone else, etc. Photos and images would also be
great. My hope is that we create a digital "wall" that is a mural in
it's own right.

Over the years, I've given hundreds of slide shows and presentations
about the massacre. People often approach me with anecdotes - so I
know there is a wealth of history worth sharing. This is for everyone
- strikers, students, artists, soldiers, activists, observers, young
or old, from the US or internationally, etc.

The mural itself will be a modest initiative - perhaps portable, for
use at demonstrations. In the true spirit our movement, it will be
lacking in time, resources and organization. The project will be
planned, and perhaps painted, here at Central Connecticut State
University, where we have a socially engaged art department and mural

By a fortunate coincidence, Jerry Butler, a gifted public artist and
muralist, has recently joined our department. He was a participant in
the protests at Jackson State and may paint something about those
events - we have begun to explore coordinated works for both
anniversaries, and I'm sure he would appreciate your comments, as well.

In the past four decades, much of the history of the massacre has been
misrepresented or buried - including the nature of the anti-war
movement at Kent. Our movement was not the actions of a small group of
radicals - it was a mass movement that involved thousands of Kent
students - part of an international movement of millions of people
that confronted and defeated US imperialism. In the process, we
inspired new movements and created culture that changed the world.

Those who fell deserve images that reveal the truth - from many
artists. Our collective memory of those times must be preserved - to
help build a renewed and determined anti-war movement today.

Bring the Troops Home Now!

In Solidarity

Mike Alewitz

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Associate Professor
Artistic Director/ Labor Art & Mural Project

Art Department/ Central CT State University
1615 Stanley Street/ New Britain, CT 06050


10) Poor Sanitation in Haiti's Camps Adds Disease Risk
February 20, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - As hundreds of thousands of people displaced by last month's earthquake put down stakes in the squalid tent camps of this wrecked city, the authorities are struggling to address the worsening problem of human waste. Public health officials warn that waste accumulation is creating conditions for major disease outbreaks, including cholera, which could further stress the ravaged health system.

Some American and Haitian public health specialists here consider the diseases stemming from the buildup of human waste in the camps as possibly the most pressing health threat in the city. Doctors are already seeing a spike in illnesses like typhoid and shigellosis, which arise from contaminated food or water.

"We're witnessing the setup for the spread of severe diarrheal illnesses in a place where the health system has collapsed and without a functioning sewage system to begin with," said Ian Greenwald, chief medical officer for a Duke University team of doctors working here this month.

The problem has become impossible to overlook in many districts of Port-au-Prince, with the stench of decomposing bodies replaced by that of excrement. Children in some camps that are still lacking latrines and portable toilets play in open areas scattered with the waste. The light rains here this week caused some donated latrines in the camps to overflow, illustrating how the problem would grow more acute as the rainy season intensified in the months ahead.

"Haiti's pigs live better lives than we do," said Dora Nadege, 28, as she wandered back to her tent camp in Place St.-Pierre from a ravine on the camp's edge, where its hundreds of inhabitants relieve themselves throughout the day in the open air. "When the rains come, we'll be lucky not to drown in our own excrement," said Ms. Nadege, a mother of four, who sold bread on the street before the earthquake.

Aid groups are trying to address the problem by distributing more than 10,000 latrines and portable toilets, and employing dozens of new desludging trucks to empty the toilets. But these solutions seem to be a stopgap measure, at best.

"It's a drop in the ocean of what's needed," said Jessica Barry, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is distributing latrines with special sludge pumps. "You can have 100,000 latrines, but you need a way to remove the excrement."

With the number of people displaced here by the earthquake estimated at 700,000, emptying the latrines from one location creates a new problem when the waste is disposed in another. Haiti, a nation of 10 million, does not have a single sewage treatment plant. Trucks often simply take the waste to the Troutier trash dump near the slums of Cité Soleil on this city's edge.

The trucks empty into pits filled with medical waste like intravenous bags and garbage. Smoke billows from burning piles of trash. One truck from a private company, Sanco, with its motto "Fighting for a Clean Environment" emblazoned on its side, did not bother to go to a pit, dumping its cargo of human waste on the open ground.

A squatter community of a dozen families, including some new arrivals whose homes were destroyed in the earthquake, tries to eke out its survival by scavenging in this setting.

"There's food to be found here, and sometimes wood to cook with," said Mackinson Charles, 14, who wandered around the pools of waste with his brother, Mickenson, 12, as dusk fell here one day this week. Four other boys accompanied them, including two who were barefoot. "This is where we live," Mackinson said.

The human waste problem was daunting even before the earthquake. Lacking a municipal sewage system, many families here employ a socially scorned class of nocturnal latrine cleaners known in Creole as the "bayakou." They descend into latrines to clean excrement with their hands, before transporting it in carts to improvised disposal sites.

The current problem is part of a politically delicate debate over the future of the camps themselves. Even as many of those living in the camps dig in, building wooden shacks instead of resigning themselves to living in tents or under sheets, some here are calling for the camps to be broken up.

"We need to acknowledge that the sanitation problems cannot be solved in the current camp structure, and that what's needed is to resettle people in cities outside Port-au-Prince," said Peter Haas, executive director of A.I.D.G., an American nonprofit group that does development work in Haiti.

Viva Rio, a Brazilian nongovernmental group, has begun operating a project in the Kai Nou slum in this city's central commercial district that turns human excrement into a biogas used as fuel for cooking and electricity.

"This crisis can trigger innovation for Haiti, allowing us to move beyond the desperation you see now," said Volmir Fachini, the director of the project, which the group hopes to emulate in a sprawling tent camp of about 3,500 families adjacent to Kai Nou. "The solutions to the waste problem are within our grasp."

Still, disease specialists fear that the scale of the problem could soon overwhelm such projects.

Robert Redfield, a co-founder of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland, cited the example of a 1994 outbreak of cholera in refugee camps in Congo among the hundreds of thousands who fled Rwanda at the time.

"The real culprit right now is the flies, which become vectors by taking fecal waste from one place to another," said Dr. Redfield, who got sick himself with salmonella typhi while working in Haiti this month. "This means you can control what you eat and still get something," he said. "The arrival of the rains could make malaria and dengue more problematic as well."

Some families seeking shelter have nowhere else to turn. "This is my life now, my family's life," said Sindia Michel, 33, who moved to the Troutier trash dump after her shack collapsed in the earthquake. She scavenged for firewood with one of her five children near the pits of excrement.

"I do what it takes to endure," she said.


11) Drones Are Playing a Growing Role in Afghanistan
February 20, 2010

When American and allied forces pushed into the Taliban stronghold of Marja, in southern Afghanistan, last week, they had the advantage of knowing where dozens of roadside bombs had already been planted. And when some troops came under fire, they called in help from a weapon that has quietly become one of the military's most versatile tools on the Afghan battlefield: the drone.

The use of the drones has expanded quickly and virtually unnoticed in Afghanistan. The Air Force now flies at least 20 Predator drones - twice as many as a year ago - over vast stretches of hostile Afghan territory each day.

They are mostly used for surveillance, but have also carried out more than 200 missile and bomb strikes over the last year, including 14 strikes near Marja in the last few days, newly released military records show. That is three times as many strikes in the past year as in Pakistan, where the drones have gotten far more attention and proved more controversial for their use in a country where the United States does not have combat forces.

There, they are run by the C.I.A., as opposed to the military, and the civilian casualties that they have caused as they have struck at leaders of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, amid Pakistani sensitivities over sovereignty, have stoked anger and anti-Americanism.

But in Afghanistan, a country with nearly 70,000 American troops, the drones have stealthily settled into an everyday role, and military commanders say they are a growing part of a counterinsurgency strategy that seeks to reduce civilian casualties. They expect to field more of them as 30,000 more American troops enter Afghanistan this year.

Trying to bring down civilian deaths, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of the American-led forces in Afghanistan, has tightened the rules for airstrikes, especially by military jets, which usually drop larger bombs than the drones and have less time to follow the targets.

The drones can linger over an area with their video cameras gathering intelligence for as long as 20 hours, and then strike without warning. The United Nations says it recorded no civilian deaths from drone strikes in Afghanistan last year. But because the drones have mainly been used to attack low-level Taliban fighters in remote places, it may be hard to tell.

Since the start of 2009, the Predators and their larger cousins, the Reapers, have fired at least 184 missiles and 66 laser-guided bombs at militant suspects in Afghanistan, according to the records.

That compared with what independent researchers believe to be 69 attacks by drones in Pakistan over the same period. The C.I.A. does not comment publicly on its drone program.

As the flights increase, the military is also finding that the drones can offer continuous protection and a broad view of their surroundings that the Army and the Marines have long said they needed.

"The power behind it is more about the video downlink and the huge ability to bring information into the system," said Maj. Gen. Stephen P. Mueller of the Air Force, a top air commander in Afghanistan.

Given Afghanistan's mountainous terrain, having that steady bird's eye view "means that our ground forces can get out and about amongst the population and into smaller units than you would typically think about," he said.

He said the military was counting on the drones to help create a safer environment and give the counterinsurgency campaign time to unfold.

General Mueller said the missile firings occurred on only a small fraction of the flights, which had expanded as drones have been shifted to Afghanistan from Iraq and new planes added.

He said the strikes typically came when troops were caught in firefights or the drones came across people who appeared to be planting homemade bombs, the biggest source of allied casualties.

The counterinsurgency strategy "isn't about going out and finding those," he said. "But when we do find them, we obviously do what's necessary."

General McChrystal recently told Congress that the intelligence from the drones and other planes was "extraordinarily effective" in dealing with the broad mix of demands.

Military officials said the Special Forces were using the drones to attack Taliban leaders and bomb-making networks in eastern and southern Afghanistan, often by stacking two or three drones over a compound to track everyone who came and went.

Since last fall, the Predators and Reapers have also been massed over Marja, a farming community in the southern Helmand Province.

Military officials said the remote-controlled planes had identified Taliban fighters, monitored their weapons storehouses and their routes in and out of the area, and mapped where they were planting roadside bombs.

Much of that data was analyzed in the United States, where the drone pilots are stationed. But ground commanders also receive the video feeds on special laptops.

Andrew M. Exum, a former Army captain who is an analyst at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington policy group, said the video links were "incredibly helpful" in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq in 2007.

Since then the supply of the laptops has mushroomed, with the Predators and Reapers now supplying more than 400 hours of video a day to troops in Afghanistan.

In fact, the video is in such demand that the Air Force has added cameras on its fighters and bombers to provide an extra 100 to 120 hours of video per day. The Army and the Marines have smaller drones, including tiny models that soldiers toss like footballs to peer past hills.

Some of the Reapers will soon carry 10 cameras instead of just one, and 30 by 2011, adding to the profusion of video.

Under the figures released by the Air Force, the Predators and Reapers set off 219 missiles and bombs in Afghanistan in 2009 and 31 more so far this year. That compared with 183 in Afghanistan in 2008 and 74 in 2007.

The number of weapons fired in Iraq, where about 10 Predators still fly each day, dropped to 6 in 2009 from 77 in 2008 and 46 in 2007.

The Predators can fire only Hellfire missiles, which have relatively small warheads. But the newer Reapers fly faster and also carry 500-pound bombs like the jets.

P. W. Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, cautioned that growing use of the bombs could increase the chances for civilian casualties. He said officers also had to keep in mind that "not everyone digging by the side of the road is automatically an insurgent."

But, he said, "What we're seeing is something that was once abnormal becoming the new normal, not just in counterterrorism, but in warfare over all."


12) G.M. Will Pay Its Chief $9 Million in Cash and Stock
February 20, 2010

The chief executive of the General Motors Company, Edward E. Whitacre Jr., will receive a salary of $1.7 million this year, and stock awards that will bring his total pay package to $9 million at a later date, the automaker said on Friday.

G.M. also said a former chief executive, Fritz Henderson, who was forced out of the job in December, had been rehired as a consultant and would be paid $59,090 a month. He will work 20 hours a month, the company said.

Mr. Whitacre's total compensation is larger than Mr. Henderson's was when he was the chief executive. Mr. Henderson received a total pay package worth nearly $5.5 million.

In addition to the cash salary that took effect Jan. 1, Mr. Whitacre's pay package includes $5.3 million in stock to be awarded in increments starting in 2012, plus another stock award worth $2 million. Details including the timing of the $2 million stock award still need to be worked out, a G.M. spokeswoman said.

Initially named interim chief executive by the board of directors in December, Mr. Whitacre was officially awarded the title in January.

At the time, Mr. Whitacre, who is also chairman, said the reason he was taking the job was to bring stability to the top of the struggling automaker.