Sunday, January 02, 2011



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




EVENT: JANUARY 4th, 7:00 pm

Where: AFSC, Quaker Meeting House, 65 9th St., San Francisco (Near Civic Center BART)


Everything you ever wanted to know about drone warfare but were afraid to ask.
As the Pentagon and CIA continue to wage endless war, the use of unmanned planes for
reconnaissance and missile attacks are increasingly the vehicle of choice. Since these drone attacks and targeted assassinations result in no American casualties, in the short term they lesson public outcry to our failed foreign policies. In the long run, because of high civilian casualties, they create more enemies and ultimately a more insecure world, as drone technology is being propogated around the world without serious oversight into the ethical ramifications.

- Find out about the current status of ACLU lawsuits on U.S. drone warfare,
- Learn the latest about drone technology and why we need to halt it in it's tracks.
- Discover all the many ways drone technology is an attack on our very freedoms.
- Hear report back from recent CodePink trips to Creech and Beale Airforce Bases and the Creech 14 Trial.
- Find out about the growing collaborative drone resistance and anti-militarism campaign and be inspired to join us soon at a military base near you! Monthly Beale vigils/protest already in progress: Dec. 29, Jan. 18.

(Sponsors include: Bay Area CodePink, Grandmothers Against War, AFSC SF, Peace Center of Nevada County and Sacramento VFP)

Informative videos, slideshows

Singer/songwriter Betsy Rose will lead us with inspirational singing throughout the evening. Learn the latest drone resistance songs and sing some of our old time favorites.

Speakers to include:

Michael Thurman, IVAW member and ex-military who was stationed at Beale AFB, the northern California control center for the main intelligence gathering drone, the Global Hawk. Michael will give us a perspective from an insider's experience.

Cindy Sheehan, Peace activist and mother of Casey Sheehan, who was killed in the Iraq War. Cindy has been outspoken and active in the citizen resistance to drone warfare. Cindy will discuss the need for collaboration in the peace movement to
build organized, ongoing, sustained protests at military bases to encourage war resistance and to halt drone warfare.

Other speakers still being confirmed.

Refreshments included, please bring something to share. Donations welcome.

For more info/questions:
Toby Blome, 510-215-5974
Martha Hubert, 415-647-1119

Dec. 29th: Beale AFB, 2nd monthly action, Theme: Free Bradley Manning Now:
Flyers will be offered to the military as they enter and exit the base, educating them about Bradley Manning's illegal detention and inhumane treatment.

Jan. 18th: Beale AFB, 3rd monthly action, Contact us for details.

Jan. 23-27th: CodePink Caravan to Creech AFB: Support Creech 14 Trial and daily am and pm Creech AFB actions to Ground the Drones Now. Creech AFB is a main drone control center that controls the Predator and Reaper, the attack drones that fire the Hellfire missle that leads to high civilian deaths. (One hour north of Las Vegas)


Rally and Picket @ Hilton Hotel Union Square
O'Farrell St, between Mason and Taylor
January 7, 2011, Friday, 11:30am-3pm



TWO PLAYS: Wallace Shawn's, "The Fever" and Howard Zinn's, "Marx in Soho."

We are pleased to present both, Wallace Shawn's, "The Fever" and Howard Zinn's, "Marx in Soho." The two plays are complementary. "The Fever" is a raw portrayal of a person who is coming to social consciousness. "Marx in Soho" humanizes the man whose ideas describe these fundamental realities of our societies' social structure.

Two benefit performances by veteran actor and sociologist, Jerry Levy. LevyArts' mission is to utilize theater and social theory to entertain, enlighten and stimulate a constructive and reflective dialogue about society.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 7:00 P.M. "THE FEVER," a one-man play by Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn's play, "The Fever" explores what a sensitive, well educated, arts loving and consumption-driven man or woman of any age discovers when his/her life-affirming existence is related to the often brutal suffering of others. In the bathroom of a hotel our "anti-hero" feverishly defends and relentlessly attacks his own way of life. Inner voices and imagined characters fuel his fever as he narrates and often attempts to enact his story.

Actor Jerry Levy rehearses "The Fever," a one-man play which was be presented Dec. 4 and 10-12 at the Hooker-Dunham Theater in Brattleboro. (Jon Potter/Reformer)

SATURDAY, JANUARY 8, 1:30 P.M. "MARX IN SOHO," a one-man play by Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn's play, "Marx in Soho" portrays the return of Karl Marx. Embedded in some secular afterlife where intellectuals, artists, and radicals are sent, Marx is given permission by the administrative committee to return to Soho London to have his say. But through a bureaucratic mix-up, he winds up in SOHO in New York. From there the audience is given a rare glimpse of a Marx seldom talked about; Marx the man. The play offers an entertaining and thorough introduction to a person who knows little about Marx's life, while also offering valuable insight to students of his ideas.

Centro del Pueblo
474 Valencia Street
(Between 16th and 15th Streets, San Francisco. Wheelchair accessible.)

Reserved ticket discounts for each play: $10.00
Tickets at the door: $20.00
No one turned away for lack of funds.

To reserve your discount tickets, email:
(Your name will be placed on a the discount ticket list at the door.)

To benefit: Barrios Unidos and Bay Area United Against War Newsletter,

"The Fever" presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Services Inc.
Marx in Soho by Howard Zinn (c) Howard Zinn Revocable Trust





A tale of two demos - demonstrate in London OR Manchester, 29 January!
By Ed
December 20, 2010

There has been some confusion in the student movement recently about the date 29 January. NCAFC is backing and helping to organise two mass student demonstrations againt fees and cuts, one in London and one in Manchester. Here we explain why and advise activists on what to do on the day.

We are organising a demonstration in London for obvious reasons - because London is not only the biggest city and easily accessible, but the seat of political power. The Facebook event for this demo, which has already attracted 2,700 attendees and seen nearly 20,000 more invited so far, is here. This demo has also won support from many trade unionists including the leaders of Unite and the GMB (see here).

We are also mobilising students for Manchester, because that day the Young Members Network of the civil service union PCS, UCU and others are holding a young workers' march to the TUC's youth rally. (This is not an official Facebook group, but it's the only we can find so far. We'll update asap.)

More details of both, plus promotional materials, very soon.

Why it's right to demonstrate in London as well as Manchester

We are mobilising students for Manchester to make it clear we don't want to clash with the PCS Young Members march - indeed we want to protest alongside and in solidarity with it. However, we reject the idea, put forward for instance by the leadership of NUS (see Aaron Porter's letter to student unions and motion for the January 10 NUS executive meeting below) that it is wrong to protest in London on 29 January.

The Manchester event was not widely known about in the student movement until now; and to be bluntly honest, it was never going to be the case that thousands of students from London and the South attended it. Nor was there any sign of NUS seriously trying to mobilise for Manchester! Meanwhile, the student struggle against fees and cuts goes on, and another mass demonstration in London is urgently needed. Aaron Porter and the leadership of NUS are using the Manchester march as an excuse, covering for the fact that they wanted 10 November to be the end of the campaign and wish students were not pushing for more action. We call on NUS to drop this ridiculous, opportunistic stance and officially support the London protest.

We want fraternal links between the two demonstrations, in London and Manchester; they should exchange speakers (we invite PCS Young Members to send a speaker to London) and, if possible, link up by video. Local student activist groups will have to decide which demo, Manchester or London, they want to take part in; we urge those nearer Manchester, to go to Manchester.

National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts


Letter from Aaron Porter to student unions

Dear all,

Last week I promised to write to you before Christmas setting out my thoughts on our next steps in the Education Funding campaign after what has been the most high profile campaign run by NUS in many decades. The defeat on the fee cap last week was painful- but I am immensely proud of the fight we put up, the attention we drew to the issue, the way in which we mobilised record numbers of students, the extent to which we shaped the debate and the way in which it has affected the coalition. Right now we all need a short break to recuperate - but in January we'll need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and get on with doing the very best we can for our members, as the campaign still goes on!

There is much to fight for in the new year. A white paper is being developed that will set out a new framework for regulation and accountability in Higher Education- and we must ensure that we are at the heart of that by winning new rights for students and their unions. The Government will set out the basis on which universities can charge over the basic £6k fee- and we'll be pushing to test the Government's assertion that charging over £6k will be "exceptional". The new HE scholarship scheme is being developed, the EMA continues to be hotly debated, AimHigher needs saving, local authorities are about to slash young people's travel subsidies and there are still huge cuts coming to provision in both FE and HE that need to be resisted. Many of these challenges involve decisions that will be made locally and I know you will expect maximum targeted support on a local scale as well as continued national action.

This is why in the motion to an NEC meeting I have called for January, I have set out clear and proactive steps for NUS to continue to seize the initiative in what is an ongoing campaign across HE and FE:

Joint action with Trade Unions and UCU on the 29th January, high level support for SUs in FE and HE facing local course cuts and closures, prioritisation of the campaign to save EMA and the AimHigher programme, a full inquiry into policing tactics on the recent student protests, full-scale mobilisation for the TUC National Demonstration on the 26th March and a long term strategy to reverse the damaging marketisation and reduction of public investment in our education system.

The TUC have asked NUS and UCU to support a mass protest and rally in Manchester (29th January) to highlight youth issues, including access to education, the scrapping of EMA and youth unemployment. Manchester of course has both the largest FE College and HE institution in the country and sits in a region with the highest rate of youth unemployment in the country. As a national organisation I believe it is the right decision for us to ensure that not all our activity is based in London, therefore a national action in a region with such high levels of youth unemployment, jointly alongside the TUC and UCU is another reason for us to support this tactic, at this time. The event has had the longstanding date of 29 January, and I have agreed to join Trade Union leaders to speak on behalf of NUS.

It is therefore unhelpful that the "National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts", alongside the "Education Activists Network", have suggested a further National Demonstration on January 29th in London, when an event with the TUC and UCU has been longstanding. As I make clear below, a mass demonstration on Fees, EMAs and Cuts on the 10th November in conjunction with UCU was the right tactic at the right time. A further national demonstration on Fees, EMAs and Cuts on the 29th January in London when the TUC have organised an event in Manchester on the same day, would be the wrong tactic at the wrong time - especially when we need maximum unity with the Trade Union Movement, and moves to divide the student movement when we need maximum unity is not a direction of travel I support.

More importantly, the student movement must not respond to the defeat on Fees by coming to the lazy conclusion that a series of hastily organised National Demos will secure wins for students. This kind of tactical obsession is the wrong response to the challenges we face. I believe that our mobilisation for a mass protest and rally in Manchester on the 29th January, and then mobilisation again for the TUC National Demonstration on the 26th March is the right tactic, alongside engaging with ongoing policy issues with regard to access, EMA, cuts and so much more as the debate continues on.

To ensure we respond to these challenges with speed, early in the new year I have called a meeting of our National Executive Council of NUS, which will rightly have the opportunity to debate the next steps for the campaign. I will be asking the NEC to support the motion below, which I believe sets out the right campaign tactics for the months ahead.

For maximum openness, I have published below the main motion that I will submit to the NEC. I believe it sets out a clear programme of action and activity for the new year which deploys the right tactics, at the right time, in partnership with UCU and the Trade Union Movement.

I will of course be in touch early in the new year with the results of that meeting.

I want to finish off by saying a heartfelt thank you for everything this year. Whilst the result of the vote was incredibly disappointing, we have still run the most high-profile NUS campaign in decades. There is still so much more to campaign for, and that's what we need to focus on in 2011.

Wishing you a peaceful and happy Christmas, and a prosperous 2011,


Main Motion to Emergency NEC
Monday 10th January 2011

NEC Believes

1. Both houses of parliament have now approved a £9,000 limit on Higher Education Undergraduate Tuition Fees.
2. This happened despite an unprecedented mass campaign from NUS that has united students, lecturers and the general public and the largest student demonstration in a generation.
3. The student movement should be proud that the NUS/UCU National Demonstration on 10 November sparked an unprecedented wave of student activism.
4. The policing of both the NUS/UCU Demonstration and subsequent demonstrations has been widely questioned.
5. It has been widely reported that some on those demonstrations were bent on violence.
6. The changes to fees levels have to be seen in the wider context of savage cuts to education and public services.
7. The TUC have asked NUS and UCU to help build for a wider Rally on youth opportunities in Manchester on the 29th January.
8. The NCAFC/EAN have suggested that NUS hold a National Demonstration in London on 29th January
9. Cuts programmes inside HEIs continue and will only get worse in the new year.
10. A significant number of new student activists have emerged out of the campaign.
11. The removal of the EMA will devastate retention and achievement in FE and destroy access to universities by the poorest.
12. Aim Higher has been mooted to close.
13. A white paper on fees is due out in the new year.

NEC Further Believes

1. Our principal duty is to work to secure our members' interests.
2. Our struggle on cuts to education and public services must now be bound up firmly with the wider trade union and social movement.
3. The prospect of £9,000 fees heightens and makes more urgent the need to radically improve student rights on campus and the regulation of HEIs.
4. Students' unions need real, substantial help now on understanding and fighting cuts in their institution.
5. A mass demonstration on Fees, EMAs and Cuts on the 10th November was the right tactic at the right time. A further national demonstration in London on Fees, EMAs and Cuts on the 29th January would be the wrong tactic at the wrong time.
6. The TUC protest and rally on 29th Jan will be held in Manchester- home to the largest FE College and HE institution in the country and sits in a region with the highest rate of youth unemployment in the country.
7. Some of the actions of some on demonstrations and in occupations have harmed, not progressed, our cause. Violent demonstrators have lost us considerable public support.
8. Some of the policing tactics in use at student demos in November and December exacerbated tension and violence and prevented peaceful students from demonstrating.
9. At a time when there is still so much to campaign for, there has never been a more important time for maximum unity, and not doing so is unhelpful and damaging to students.
10. Students in FE face a double whammy- 16-18 transport subsidies are to be cut in local authorities and learner support funds don't support travel costs.

NEC Resolves

1. To support the TUC protest and rally for youth opportunities on January 29th in Manchester.
2. Continuing to work with UCU and other trade unions through the TUC is vital to ensure we are part of a wider campaign.
3. To reject calls from the NCAFC/EAN to hold a London based National Demo on January 29th.
4. To prioritise mobilisation amongst students for the 26th March TUC national demonstration in the first term.
5. To launch a local mobilisation and partnership strategy with trade unions and social groups aimed at developing activism over cuts in local constituencies.
6. To mandate the VP Higher Education to launch an anti cuts strategy with a detailed toolkit and advice available from NUS staff and officers.
7. To support the VP Furhter Education in continued prioritisation of the campaign to save EMA, cuts to FE and the fight for local travel subsidies for young people.
8. To call for a detailed enquiry must be held into Policing tactics used on demonstrations in November/December.
9. To continue to publically condemn inappropriate police tactics like kettling (containment) and horse charging.
10. To lobby for increased student rights and protections in the White Paper.
11. To push the Government to ensure that there is a more comprehensive system of student support, effective outreach given the new fee regime.
12. To continue to fight to save the EMA and to lobby to ensure that colleges are able to assist students with transport costs in the future.
13. To launch a major campaign aimed at protecting Aim Higher and ensuring that efforts to improve WP measure universities' success at retention and acceptances rather than just applications.
14. To develop a detailed long term strategy aimed at reversing the damaging marketisation and loss of public funding about to be inflicted on HE.



The first organizing meeting for the SF March 19 march and rally will be on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2pm at the Local 2 union hall, 209 Golden Gate Ave.
[See call for March 19 immediately]
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948
Boston: 857-334-5084 | New York City: 212-694-8720 | Chicago: 773-463-0311
San Francisco: 415-821-6545| Los Angeles: 213-251-1025 | Albuquerque: 505-268-2488


Saturday, March 19, 2011:
Day of Action to Resist the War Machine!
8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq
Scores of organizations coming together for worldwide protests

In San Francisco, the theme of the March 19 march and rally will be "No to War & Colonial Occupation - Fund Jobs, Healthcare & Education - Solidarity with SF Hotel Workers!" 12,000 SF hotel workers, members of UNITE-HERE Local 2, have been fighting for a new contract that protects their healthcare, wages and working conditions. The SF action will include a march to boycotted hotels in solidarity with the Lo. 2 workers. The first organizing meeting for the SF March 19 march and rally will be on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2pm at the Local 2 union hall, 209 Golden Gate Ave.

In Los Angeles, the March 19 rally and march will gather at 12 noon at Hollywood and Vine.

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action:

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948
Boston: 857-334-5084 | New York City: 212-694-8720 | Chicago: 773-463-0311
San Francisco: 415-821-6545| Los Angeles: 213-251-1025 | Albuquerque: 505-268-2488


A National Call to Action and Request for Endorsement

April 9, 2011

New York & San Francisco from the United National Antiwar Committee


THEY are the government, corporate, and financial powers that wage war, ravage the environment and the economy and trample on our democratic rights and liberties.


WE are the vast majority of humanity who want peace, a healthy planet and a society that prioritizes human needs, democracy and civil liberties for all.

The Warmakers spend trillions of dollars yearly on endless wars in pursuit of global domination and profit while murdering millions of innocent people, installing corrupt and hated governments and funding occupations that displace millions from their homelands - trampling on the right of oppressed people to self-determination.

THEY send our youth - victims of the economic draft - to fight over the very fossil fuels whose unrestrained use threatens the future of the planet while corrupt and virtually unregulated oil giants dump billions of gallons of death into our rivers and oceans.

THEY wage a fake "war on terrorism" at home - the new McCarthyism - that promotes racism and Islamophobia aimed at destroying civil liberties and democratic rights.

THEY grant repeated and untold trillions in bailouts to banks, corporations and financial institutions while breaking unions, robbing pensions, destroying jobs, foreclosing homes, de-funding education and vital social services and are once again threatening Social Security and Medicare.

THEY offer no solutions to the current crises other than more of the same.

THE PEACEMAKERS DEMAND a better world. Only a massive, united, inclusive and independent movement has the power to bring it into being.

WE DEMAND Bring U.S. Troops, Mercenaries and War Contractors Home Now: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan! End the sanctions and stop the threats of war against the people of Iran, North Korea and Yemen. No to war and plunder of the people of Latin America and Africa! End U.S. Aid to Israel! End U.S. Support to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the Siege of Gaza!

WE DEMAND trillions for jobs, education, social services, an end to all foreclosures, quality single-payer healthcare for all, a massive conversion to sustainable and planet-saving energy systems and public transportation and reparations to the victims of U.S. terror at home and abroad.

WE DEMAND an end to FBI raids on antiwar, social justice, and international solidarity activists, an end to the racist persecution and prosecutions that ravage Muslim communities, an end to police terror in Black and Latino communities, full rights and legality for immigrants and an end to all efforts to repress and punish WikiLeaks and its contributors and founders.

WE DEMAND the immediate end to torture, rendition, secret trials, drone bombings and death squads.



All Out April 9, 2011

To add your group's name to the endorser list, local, state or national, please contact:

United National Antiwar Committee
P.O. Box 123 Delmar, New York 12054

_______ My organization endorses the April 9 National Call to Action.

Name of Organization: __________________________________________________

_______ List me and my organization with an asterisk for identification only.

email you endorsement to: and cc:

Initial List of Endorsers (List in formation)
* = For Identification only

UNAC -United National Antiwar Committee
Center for Constitutional Rights
Muslim Peace Coalition, USA
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Veterans for Peace
International Action Center
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Black Agenda Report
National Assembly to End U.S. Wars and Occupations
World Can't Wait
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Project Salam
Canadian Peace Alliance
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Office of the Americas
Tariq Ali
Dr. Margaret Flowers PNHP *
Ramsey Clark
Ahmed Shawk, editor, International Socialist Review
American Iranian Friendship Committee
Ana Edwards, Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project - Richmond, Va.
Andy Griggs, Co-chair, California Teachers Association, Peace and Justice Caucus/UTLA-retired*
Bail Out the People Movement
Barrio Unido, San Francisco
Bashir Abu-Manneh
Baltimore Job Is a Right Campaign
Battered Mother's Custody Conference
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace
Bob Hernandez, Chapter President, SEIU Local 1021*
Bonnie Weinstein - Bay Area United Against Wars Newsletter
Boston UNAC
Café Intifada - Los Angeles
Camilo E. Mejia, Iraq war veteran and resister
Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor
Carole Seligman - Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal *
Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War
Coalition for Justice - Blacksburg, Va.
Colombian Front for Socialism (FECOPES)
Columbus Campaign for Arms Control
Committee for Justice to Defend the Los Angeles 8
Dave Welsh, Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council
David Keil - Metro West Peace Action (MWPA) *
Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality - Virginia
Derrick O'Keefe, Co-chair (Vancouver) and
Detroit Committee to Stop FBI/Grand Jury Repression.
Doug Bullock, Albany County Legislator
Dr. Andy Coats PNHP *
DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) - New York
Elaine Brower - national steering committee of WCW and anti-war military mom
Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST)
Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Freedom Socialist Party
Gilbert Achcar - Lebanese academic and writer
Guilderland Neighbors for Peace
Haiti Action Committee
Hands off Venezuela
International Socialist Organization
Iraq Peace Action Coalition - Minneapolis
Jersey City Peace Movement
Journal Square Homeless Coalition
Kim Nguyen, Metrowest Peace Action (MWPA)*
Lillie "Ms. K" Branch-Kennedy - Director, Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged (R.I.H.D.), Virginia
Lisa Savage, CODEPINK Maine, Bring Our War $$ Home Coaltion *
Los Angeles - Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee
Maggie Zhou - ClimateSOS *
Maine Veterans for Peace
Maria Cristina Gutierrez, Exec. Director, Companeros del Barrio
Mark Roman, Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice
Marlena Santoyo, Germantown Friends Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
Masjid As-Salam Mosque, Albany, NY
Michigan Emergency Committee Against Wars and Injustice
Middle East Children's Alliance
Middle East Crisis Committee
Mobilization Against War and Occupation - Vancouver, Canada
Mobilization to Free Mumia
Moratorium NOW Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs
Muslim Solidarity Committee
Nancy Murray, Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights*
New Abolitionist Movement
New England United
New Socialist Project
New York Labor Against the War
No More Victims
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development
Northeast Peace and Justice Action Coalition
Northwest Greens
Nuestro Norte Es El Sur ((NUNO-SUR) Our North is the South
Pakistan USA Freedom Forum
Pakistani Trade Union Defense Campaign
Peace and Freedom Party
Peninsula Peace & Justice, Blue Hill, Maine
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center - Palo Alto, Ca.
Peoples Video Network
Phil Wilayto, Editor, The Virginia Defender
Philadelphia Against War
Progressive Peace Coalition, Columbus Ohio
Queen Zakia Shabazz - Director, United Parents Against Lead National, Inc.
Ralph Poynter, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Revolutionary Workers Group
Rhode Island Mobilization Committee
Rochester Against War
Ron Jacobs, writer
Saladin Muhammad - Founding Member, Black Workers for Justice
Sarah Roche-Mahdi, Code Pink Boston*
Saratoga Peace Alliance
Sherry Wolf - International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Author Sexuality and Socialism
Siege Busters Working Group
Socialist Action
Socialist Organizer
Socialist Viewpoint
Solidarity Committee of the Capital District
Stop the Wars Coalition, Boston
The Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran
The Thomas Merton Center
Twin Cities Peace Campaign
Upper Hudson Peace Action
Virginia Defender
West Hartford Citizens for Peace and Justice
WESTPAC Foundation
Women against Military Madness
Workers International League
Workers World Party
Youth for International Socialism


[Some of these videos are embeded on the BAUAW website: or]


Did You Know?


These videos refer to what happened at the G-20 Summit in Toronto June 26-27 of this year. The importance of this is that police were caught on tape and later confirmed that they sent police into the demonstration dressed as "rioting" protesters. One cop was caught with a large rock in his hand. Clearly, this is proof of police acting as agent provocatours. And we should expect this to continue and escalate. That's why everyone should be aware of these

police accused of attempting to incite violence at G20 summ
Protestors at Montebello are accusing police of trying to incite violence. Video on YouTube shows union officials confronting three men that were police officers dressing up as demonstrators. The union is demanding to know if the Prime Minister's Office was involved in trying to discredit the demonstrators.

quebec police admit going undercover at montebello protests


From: Daniel Vila
Subject: Puerto Rico Videos/Photos: Vicious Police Riot In University
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2010 09:41:29 +0000


Videos and photos follow.

The vicious police attack in the photos and videos took place Monday at the University of Puerto Rico, campus of Rio Piedras in San Juan.

Many of the students arrested were driven around in police vans for hours as they were severely beaten.

Some are still missing.

Various students have head and body fractures.

Students are on stike against an $800 increase in tuition.

Hundreds of heavily armed cops occupy the grounds of various campuses.
Rio Piedras is in the second week of a student strike supported by professors and staff.

There are strikes and other actions at most other campuses of the nation-wide public university.

The real battle however, is over the corporate puppet Governor Luis Fortuño's objective of privatizing the 60,000 student university.

Police, the government, insist on no demos in or out of the university grounds.
But students have organized mass protests everyday.


The Wars in "Vietnamistan!" (The name Daniel Ellsberg gave to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as quoted from the
Veterans for Peace White House Civil Disobedience to End War


John Pilger: Global Support for WikiLeaks is "Rebellion" Against U.S. Militarism, Secrecy
December 15, 2010


An Irishman abroad tells it like it is !! :-)



WikiLeaks founder concern for Manning


Newsnight: Bailed Julian Assange live interview (16Dec10)


Julian Assange: 'ongoing attempts to extradite me'


Published on Thursday, December 16, 2010 by Countdown With Keith Olbermann
Quantico, the New Gitmo



Posted: December 12, 2010 by Davey D in 2010 Daily News, Political articles

On Thursday morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners refused to work, stopped all other activities and locked down in their cells in a peaceful protest for their human rights. The December 9 Strike became the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States. Thousands of men, from Augusta, Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, initiated this strike to press the Georgia Department of Corrections ("DOC") to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights. They set forth the following demands:


Despite that the prisoners' protest remained non-violent, the DOC violently attempted to force the men back to work-claiming it was "lawful" to order prisoners to work without pay, in defiance of the 13th Amendment's abolition of slavery. In Augusta State Prison, six or seven inmates were brutally ripped from their cells by CERT Team guards and beaten, resulting in broken ribs for several men, one man beaten beyond recognition. This brutality continues there. At Telfair, the Tactical Squad trashed all the property in inmate cells. At Macon State, the Tactical Squad has menaced the men for two days, removing some to the "hole," and the warden ordered the heat and hot water turned off. Still, today, men at Macon, Smith, Augusta, Hays and Telfair State Prisons say they are committed to continuing the strike. Inmate leaders, representing blacks, Hispanics, whites, Muslims, Rastafarians, Christians, have stated the men will stay down until their demands are addressed, one issuing this statement:

"...Brothers, we have accomplished a major step in our struggle...We must continue what we have started...The only way to achieve our goals is to continue with our peaceful sit-down...I ask each and every one of my Brothers in this struggle to continue the fight. ON MONDAY MORNING, WHEN THE DOORS OPEN, CLOSE THEM. DO NOT GO TO WORK. They cannot do anything to us that they haven't already done at one time or another. Brothers, DON'T GIVE UP NOW. Make them come to the table. Be strong. DO NOT MAKE MONEY FOR THE STATE THAT THEY IN TURN USE TO KEEP US AS SLAVES...."

When the strike began, prisoner leaders issued the following call: "No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!"

Here's the link to our recent Hard Knock Radio interview w/ Elaine Brown on this historic strike

READ Black Agenda Report Article at:


Domestic Espionage Alert - Houston PD to use surveillance drone in America!


15 year old Tells Establishment to Stick-it.




Oscar Grant family not convinced of Johannes Mehserle's tears


Julian Assange: Why the world needs WikiLeaks




Don't Touch My Junk (the TSA Hustle) song + video by Michael Adams


Coal Ash: One Valley's Tale


Flashmob: Cape Town Opera say NO


Video of massive French protest -- inspiring!


"Don't F*** With Our Activists" - Mobilizing Against FBI Raid




Call for EMERGENCY RESPONSE Action if Assange Indicted,

Dear Friends:

We write in haste, trying to reach as many of you as possible although the holiday break has begun.......This plan for an urgent "The Day After" demonstration is one we hope you and many, many more organizations will take up as your own, and mobilize for. World Can't Wait asks you to do all you can to spread it through list serves, Facebook, twitter, holiday gatherings.

Our proposal is very very simple, and you can use the following announcement to mobilize - or write your own....


An emergency public demonstration THE DAY AFTER any U.S. criminal indictment is announced against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Spread the word and call people to come out, across the whole range of movements and groups: anti-war, human rights, freedom of information/freedom of the press, peace, anti-torture, environmental, students and youth, radicals and revolutionaries, religious, civil liberties, teachers and educators, journalists, anti-imperialists, anti-censorship, anti-police state......

At the Federal Building in San Francisco, we'll form ourselves into a human chain "surrounding" the government that meets the Wikileaked truth with repression and wants to imprison and silence leakers, whistleblowers and truthtellers - when, in fact, these people are heroes. We'll say:


New Federal Building, 7th and Mission, San Francisco (nearest BART: Civic Center)
4:00-6:00 PM on The Day FOLLOWING U.S. indictment of Assange

Bring all your friends - signs and banners - bullhorns.

Those who dare at great risk to themselves to put the truth in the hands of the people - and others who might at this moment be thinking about doing more of this themselves -- need to see how much they are supported, and that despite harsh repression from the government and total spin by the mainstream media, the people do want the truth told.

Brad Manning's Christmas Eve statement was just released by his lawyer: "Pvt. Bradley Manning, the lone soldier who stands accused of stealing millions of pages secret US government documents and handing them over to secrets outlet WikiLeaks, wants his supporters to know that they've meant a lot to him. 'I greatly appreciate everyone's support and well wishes during this time,' he said in a Christmas Eve statement released by his lawyer...." Read more here:

Demonstrations defending Wikileaks and Assange, and Brad Manning, have already been flowering around the world. Make it happen here too.
Especially here . . .

To join into this action plan, or with questions, contact World Can't Wait or whichever organization or listserve you received this message from.

World Can't Wait, SF Bay


Email received from Lynne Stewart:
12/19/10; 12:03pm

Dear Folks:
Some nuts and bolts and trivia,

1. New Address
Lynne Stewart
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
53504 - 054
Unit 2N
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TEXAS 76127

2. Visiting is very liberal but first I have to get people on my visiting list Wait til I or the lawyers let you know. The visits are FRI, SAT, SUN AND MON for 4 hours and on weekends 8 to 3. Bring clear plastic change purse with lots of change to buy from the machines. Brief Kiss upon arrival and departure, no touching or holding during visit (!!) On visiting forms it may be required that you knew me before I came to prison. Not a problem for most of you.

3. One hour time difference

4. Commissary Money is always welcome It is how I pay for the phone and for email. Also need it for a lot that prison doesn't supply in terms of food and "sundries" (pens!) A very big list that includes Raisins, Salad Dressing , ankle sox, mozzarella (definitely not from Antonys--more like a white cheddar, Sanitas Corn Chips but no Salsa etc. To add money, you do this by using Western Union and a credit card by phone or you can send a USPO money order or Business or Govt Check. The negotiable instruments (PAPER!) need to be sent to Federal Bureau of Prisons , 53504-054, Lynne Stewart, PO Box 474701, Des Moines Iowa 50947-001 (Payable to Lynne Stewart, 53504-054) They hold the mo or checks for 15 days. Western Union costs $10 but is within 2 hours. If you mail, your return address must be on the envelope. Unnecessarily complicated ? Of course, it's the BOP !)

5. Food is vastly improved. Just had Sunday Brunch real scrambled eggs, PORK sausage, Baked or home fried potatoes, Butter(sweet whipped M'God !!) Grapefruit juice Toast , orange. I will probably regain the weight I lost at MCC! Weighing against that is the fact that to eat we need to walk to another building (about at far as from my house to the F Train) Also included is 3 flights of stairs up and down. May try to get an elevator pass and try NOT to use it.

6. In a room with 4 bunks(small) about two tiers of rooms with same with "atrium" in middle with tv sets and tables and chairs. Estimate about 500 on Unit 2N and there are 4 units. Population Black, Mexicano and other spanish speaking (all of whom iron their underwear, Marta), White, Native Americans (few), no orientals or foreign speaking caucasians--lots are doing long bits, victims of drugs (meth etc) and boyfriends. We wear army style (khaki) pants with pockets tee shirts and dress shirts long sleeved and short sleeved. When one of the women heard that I hadn't ironed in 40 years, they offered to do the shirts for me. (This is typical of the help I get--escorted to meals and every other protection, explanations, supplies, etc. Mostly from white women.) One drawback is not having a bathroom in the room---have to go about 75 yards at all hours of the day and night --clean though.

7. Final Note--the sunsets and sunrises are gorgeous, the place is very open and outdoors there are pecan trees and birds galore (I need books for trees and birds (west) The full moon last night gladdened my heart as I realized it was shining on all of you I hold dear.

Love Struggle

The address of her Defense Committee is:

Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
1070 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York 11216
For further information:
718-789-0558 or 917-853-9759

Please make a generous contribution to her defense.


Help end the inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning!

Bradley Manning Support Network. December 22, 2010

The Marine Brig at Quantico, Virginia is using "injury prevention" as a vehicle to inflict extreme pre-trial punishment on accused Wikileaks whistleblower Army PFC Bradley Manning (photo right). These "maximum conditions" are not unheard-of during an inmate's first week at a military confinement facility, but when applied continuously for months and with no end in sight they amount to a form of torture. Bradley, who just turned 23-years-old last week, has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest in late May. We're now turning to Bradley's supporters worldwide to directly protest, and help bring a halt to, the extremely punitive conditions of Bradley's pre-trial detention.

We need your help in pressing the following demands:

End the inhumane, degrading conditions of pre-trial confinement and respect Bradley's human rights. Specifically, lift the "Prevention of Injury (POI) watch order". This would allow Bradley meaningful physical exercise, uninterrupted sleep during the night, and a release from isolation. We are not asking for "special treatment". In fact, we are demanding an immediate end to the special treatment.

Quantico Base Commander
Colonel Daniel Choike
3250 Catlin Ave, Quantico VA 22134
+1-703-784-2707 (phone)

Quantico Brig Commanding Officer
CWO4 James Averhart
3247 Elrod Ave, Quantico VA 22134
+1-703-784-4242 (fax)


In the wake of an investigative report last week by Glenn Greenwald of giving evidence that Bradley Manning was subject to "detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries", Bradley's attorney, David Coombs, published an article at his website on Saturday entitled "A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning". Mr. Coombs details the maximum custody conditions that Bradley is subject to at the Quantico Confinement Facility and highlights an additional set of restrictions imposed upon him under a Prevention of Injury (POI) watch order.

Usually enforced only through a detainee's first week at a confinement facility, or in cases of violent and/or suicidal inmates, the standing POI order has severely limited Manning's access to exercise, daylight and human contact for the past five months. The military's own psychologists assigned to Quantico have recommended that the POI order and the extra restrictions imposed on Bradley be lifted.

Despite not having been convicted of any crime or even yet formally indicted, the confinement regime Bradley lives under includes pronounced social isolation and a complete lack of opportunities for meaningful exercise. Additionally, Bradley's sleep is regularly interrupted. Coombs writes: "The guards are required to check on Manning every five minutes [...] At night, if the guards cannot see PFC Manning clearly, because he has a blanket over his head or is curled up towards the wall, they will wake him in order to ensure he is okay."

Denver Nicks writes in The Daily Beast that "[Bradley Manning's] attorney [...] says the extended isolation - now more than seven months of solitary confinement - is weighing on his client's psyche. [...] Both Coombs and Manning's psychologist, Coombs says, are sure Manning is mentally healthy, that there is no evidence he's a threat to himself, and shouldn't be held in such severe conditions under the artifice of his own protection."

In an article to be published at later today, David House, a friend of Bradley's who visits him regularly at Quantico, says that Bradley "has not been outside or into the brig yard for either recreation or exercise in four full weeks. He related that visits to the outdoors have been infrequent and sporadic for the past several months."

In an average military court martial situation, a defense attorney would be able to bring these issues of pre-trial punishment to the military judge assigned to the case (known as an Article 13 hearing). However, the military is unlikely to assign a judge to Bradley's case until the pre-trial Article 32 hearing is held (similar to an arraignment in civilian court), and that is not expected until February, March, or later-followed by the actual court martial trial months after that. In short, you are Bradley's best and most immediate hope.

What can you do?

Contact the Marine Corps officers above and respectfully, but firmly, ask that they lift the extreme pre-trial confinement conditions against Army PFC Bradley Manning.
Forward this urgent appeal for action widely.
Sign the "Stand with Brad" public petition and letter campaign at - Sign online, and we'll mail out two letters on your behalf to Army officials.

Donate to Bradley's defense fund at

"The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention", by Glenn Greenwald for, 15 December 2010

"A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning", by attorney David E. Coombs, 18 December 2010

"Bradley Manning's Life Behind Bars", by Denver Nicks for the Daily Beast, 17 December 2010

Bradley Manning Support Network

Courage To Resist
484 Lake Park Ave. #41
Oakland, CA 94610


KOREA: Emergency Response Actions Needed

The United National Antiwar Committee urges the antiwar movement to begin to plan now for Emergency 5pm Day-of or Day-after demonstrations, should fighting break out on the Korean Peninsula or its surrounding waters.

As in past war crisis and U.S. attacks we propose:
NYC -- Times Square, Washington, D.C. -- the White House
In Many Cities - Federal Buildings

Many tens of thousands of U.S., Japanese and South Korean troops are mobilized on land and on hundreds of warships and aircraft carriers. The danger of a general war in Asia is acute.

China and Russia have made it clear that the scheduled military maneuvers and live-fire war "exercises" from an island right off the coast of north Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) by South Korea are very dangerous. The DPRK has made it clear that they consider these live-fire war exercises to be an act of war and they will again respond if they are again fired on.

The U.S. deployment of thousands of troops, ships, and aircraft in the area while South Korea is firing thousands of rounds of live ammunition and missiles is an enormously dangerous provocation, not only to the DPRK but to China. The Yellow Sea also borders China. The island and the waters where the war maneuvers are taking place are north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone and only eight miles from the coast of the DPRK.

On Sunday, December 19 in a day-long emergency session, the U.S. blocked in the UN Security Council any actions to resolve the crisis.

UNAC action program passed in Albany at the United National Antiwar Conference, July 2010 of over 800 antiwar, social justice and community organizations included the following Resolution on Korea:

15. In solidarity with the antiwar movements of Japan and Korea, each calling for U.S. Troops to Get Out Now, and given the great increase in U.S. military preparations against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, National Peace Conference participants will organize immediate protests following any attack by the U.S. on Korea. U.S. war preparations include stockpiling hundreds of bunker-busters and conducting major war games near the territorial waters of China and Korea. In keeping with our stand for the right of self-determination and our demand of Out Now, the National Peace Conference calls for Bringing All U.S. Troops Home Now!

UNAC urges the whole antiwar movement to begin to circulate messages alerts now in preparation. Together let's join together and demand: Bring all U.S. Troops Home Now! Stop the Wars and the Threats of War.

The United National Antiwar Committee,


In earnest support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange:

We here undersigned express our support for the work and integrity of Julian Assange. We express concern that the charges against the WikiLeaks founder appear too convenient both in terms of timing and the novelty of their nature.

We call for this modern media innovator, and fighter for human rights extraordinaire, to be afforded the same rights to defend himself before Swedish justice that all others similarly charged might expect, and that his liberty not be compromised as a courtesy to those governments whose truths he has revealed have embarrassed.


GAP Inc: End Your Relationship with Supplier that Allows Workers to be Burned Alive



A handful of East Bay organizations have put together an open letter to the strikers. If your organization would like to become a signatory, you can email me to put you on it you and can do so here.

A Letter to the Prisoners on Strike in Georgia,

We, as members of activist and community organizations in the Bay Area of California, send our support for your strike against the terrible conditions you face in Georgia's prisons. We salute you for making history as your strike has become the largest prison strike in the history of this nation. As steadfast defenders of human and civil rights, we recognize the potential that your action has to improve the lives of millions subject to inhumane treatment in correctional facilities across this country.

Every single day, prisoners face the same deplorable and unnecessarily punitive conditions that you have courageously decided to stand up against. For too long, this nation has chosen silence in the face of the gross injustices that our brothers and sisters in prison are subjected to. Your fight against these injustices is a necessary and righteous struggle that must be carried out to victory.

We have heard about the brutal acts that Georgia Department of Corrections officers have been resorting to as a means of breaking your protest and we denounce them. In order to put a stop to the violence to which you have been subjected, we are in the process of contacting personnel at the different prison facilities and circulating petitions addressed to the governor and the Georgia DOC. We will continue to expose the DOC's shameless physical attacks on you and use our influence to call for an immediate end to the violence.

Here, in the Bay Area, we are all too familiar with the violence that this system is known to unleash upon our people. Recently, our community erupted in protest over the killing of an unarmed innocent black man named Oscar Grant by transit police in Oakland. We forced the authorities to arrest and convict the police officer responsible for Grant's murder by building up a mass movement. We intend to win justice with you and stop the violent repression of your peaceful protest in the same way-by appealing to the power and influence of the masses.

We fully support all of your demands. We strongly identify with your demand for expanded educational opportunities. In recent years, our state government has been initiating a series of massive cuts to our system of public education that continue to endanger our right to a quality, affordable education; in response, students all across our state have stood up and fought back just as you are doing now. In fact, students and workers across the globe have begun to organize and fight back against austerity measures and the corresponding violence of the state. Just in the past few weeks in Greece, Ireland, Spain, England, Italy, Haiti, Puerto Rico - tens and hundreds of thousands of students and workers have taken to the streets. We, as a movement, are gaining momentum and we do so even more as our struggles are unified and seen as interdependent. At times we are discouraged; it may seem insurmountable, but in the words of Malcolm X, "Power in defense of freedom is greater than power on behalf of tyranny and oppression."

You have inspired us. News of your strike, from day one, has served to inspire and invigorate hundreds of students and community organizers here in Berkeley and Oakland alone. We are especially inspired by your ability to organize across color lines and are interested in hearing an account from the inside of how this process developed and was accomplished. You have also encouraged us to take more direct actions toward radical prison reform in our own communities, namely Santa Rita County Jail and San Quentin Prison. We are now beginning the process of developing a similar set of demands regarding expediting processing (can take 20-30 hours to get a bed, they call it "bullpen therapy"), nutrition, visiting and phone calls, educational services, legal support, compensation for labor and humane treatment in general. We will also seek to unify the education and prison justice movements by collaborating with existing organizations that have been engaging in this work.

We echo your call: No more Slavery! Injustice to one is injustice to all!

In us, students, activists, the community members and people of the Bay Area, you have an ally. We will continue to spread the news about your cause all over the Bay Area and California, the country and world. We pledge to do everything in our power to make sure your demands are met.

In solidarity,
UC-Berkeley Student Worker Action Team (SWAT) _ Community Action Project (CAP) _ La Voz de los Trabajadores _ Laney College Student Unity & Power (SUP) _ Laney College Black Student Union (BSU)


In Solidarity
By Kevin Cooper

On Thursday, December 9, 2010, the inmates in the state of Georgia sat down in unity and peace in order to stand up for their human rights.

African American, White, and Latino inmates put aside their differences, if they had any, and came together as a 'People' fighting for their humanity in a system that dehumanizes all of them.

For this they have my utmost respect and appreciation and support. I am in true solidarity with them all!

For further information about Kevin Cooper:

Reasonable doubts about executing Kevin Cooper
Chronicle Editorial
Monday, December 13, 2010


Death penalty -- Kevin Cooper is Innocent! Help save his life from San Quentin's death row!
- From Amnesty International USA
17 December 2010
Click here to take action online:

To learn about recent Urgent Action successes and updates, go to

For a print-friendly version of this Urgent Action (PDF):

Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row in California for 25 years, is asking the outgoing state governor to commute his death sentence before leaving office on 2 January 2011. Kevin Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence of the four murders for which he was sentenced to death. Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.

On the night of 4 June 1983, Douglas and Peggy Ryen were hacked and stabbed to death in their home in Chino Hills, California, along with their 10-year-old daughter Jessica and 11-year-old houseguest Christopher Hughes. The couple's eight-year-old son, Joshua Ryen, was seriously wounded, but survived. He told investigators that the attackers were three or four white men. In hospital, he saw a picture of Kevin Cooper on television and said that Cooper, who is black, was not the attacker. However, the boy's later testimony - that he only saw one attacker - was introduced at the 1985 trial. The case has many other troubling aspects which call into question the reliability of the state's case and its conduct in obtaining this conviction (see

Kevin Cooper was less than eight hours from execution in 2004 when the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted a stay and sent the case back to the District Court for testing on blood and hair evidence, including to establish if the police had planted evidence. The District Court ruled in 2005 that the testing had not proved Kevin Cooper's innocence - his lawyers (and five Ninth Circuit judges) maintain that it did not do the testing as ordered. Nevertheless, in 2007, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court's ruling. One of the judges described the result as "wholly discomforting" because of evidence tampering and destruction, but noted that she was constrained by US law, which places substantial obstacles in the way of successful appeals.

In 2009, the Ninth Circuit refused to have the whole court rehear the case. Eleven of its judges dissented. One of the dissenting opinions, running to more than 80 pages and signed by five judges, warned that "the State of California may be about to execute an innocent man". On the question of the evidence testing, they said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing and...imposed unreasonable conditions on the testing" ordered by the Ninth Circuit. They pointed to a test result that, if valid, indicated that evidence had been planted, and they asserted that the district court had blocked further scrutiny of this issue.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had already denied clemency in 2004 when the Ninth Circuit issued its stay. At the time, he had said that the "courts have reviewed this case for more than eighteen years. Evidence establishing his guilt is overwhelming". Clearly, a notable number of federal judges disagree. The five judges in the Ninth Circuit's lengthy dissent in 2009 stated that the evidence of Kevin Cooper's guilt at his trial was "quite weak" and concluded that he "is probably innocent of the crimes for which the State of California is about to execute him".

On 2 June 1983, two days before the Chino Hills murders, Kevin Cooper had escaped from a minimum security prison, where he was serving a four-year term for burglary, and had hidden in an empty house near the Ryen home for two nights. After his arrest, he became the focus of public hatred. Outside the venue of his preliminary hearing, for example, people hung an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the Nigger!!" At the time of the trial, jurors were confronted by graffiti declaring "Die Kevin Cooper" and "Kevin Cooper Must Be Hanged". Kevin Cooper pleaded not guilty - the jury deliberated for seven days before convicting him - and he has maintained his innocence since then. Since Governor Schwarzenegger denied clemency in 2004, more evidence supporting Kevin Cooper's claim of innocence has emerged, including for example, testimony from three witnesses who say they saw three white men near the crime scene on the night of the murders with blood on them.

In 2007, Judge Margaret McKeown was the member of the Ninth Circuit's three-judge panel who indicated that she was upholding the District Court's 2005 ruling despite her serious concerns. She wrote: "Significant evidence bearing on Cooper's guilt has been lost, destroyed or left unpursued, including, for example, blood-covered coveralls belonging to a potential suspect who was a convicted murderer, and a bloody t-shirt, discovered alongside the road near the crime scene. The managing criminologist in charge of the evidence used to establish Cooper's guilt at trial was, as it turns out, a heroin addict, and was fired for stealing drugs seized by the police. Countless other alleged problems with the handling and disclosure of evidence and the integrity of the forensic testing and investigation undermine confidence in the evidence". She continued that "despite the presence of serious questions as to the integrity of the investigation and evidence supporting the conviction, we are constrained by the requirements of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)". Judge McKeown wrote that "the habeas process does not account for lingering doubt or new evidence that cannot leap the clear and convincing hurdle of AEDPA. Instead, we are left with a situation in which confidence in the blood sample is murky at best, and lost, destroyed or tampered evidence cannot be factored into the final analysis of doubt. The result is wholly discomforting, but one that the law demands".

Even if it is correct that the AEDPA demands this result, the power of executive clemency is not so confined. Last September, for example, the governor of Ohio commuted Kevin Keith's death sentence because of doubts about his guilt even though his death sentence had been upheld on appeal (see Governor Ted Strickland said that despite circumstantial evidence linking the condemned man to the crime, "many legitimate questions have been raised regarding the evidence in support of the conviction and the investigation which led to it. In particular, Mr Keith's conviction relied upon the linking of certain eyewitness testimony with certain forensic evidence about which important questions have been raised. I also find the absence of a full investigation of other credible suspects troubling." The same could be said in the case of Kevin Cooper, whose lawyer is asking Governor Schwarzenegger to commute the death sentence before he leaves office on 2 January 2011. While Kevin Cooper does not yet have an execution date, it is likely that one will be set, perhaps early in 2011.

More than 130 people have been released from death rows on grounds of innocence in the USA since 1976. At the original trial in each case, the defendant had been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is clear beyond any dispute that the USA's criminal justice system is capable of making mistakes. International safeguards require that the death penalty not be imposed if guilt is not "based upon clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts". Amnesty International opposes all executions regardless of the seriousness of the crime or the guilt or innocence of the condemned.

California has the largest death row in the USA, with more than 700 prisoners under sentence of death out of a national total of some 3,200. California accounts for 13 of the 1,234 executions in the USA since judicial killing resumed there in 1977. There have been 46 executions in the USA this year. The last execution in California was in January 2006.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
- Acknowledging the seriousness of the crime for which Kevin Cooper was sentenced to death;
- Urging Governor Schwarzenegger to take account of the continuing doubts about Kevin Cooper's guilt, including as expressed by more than 10 federal judges since 2004, when executive clemency was last requested;
- Urging the Governor to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence.


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814, USA
Fax: 1 916-558-3160
Email: or via
Salutation : Dear Governor

Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if sending appeals after 2 January 2011.

Tip of the Month:
Write as soon as you can. Try to write as close as possible to the date a case is issued.

Within the United States:
$0.28 - Postcards
$0.44 - Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To Canada:
$0.75 - Postcards
$0.75 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To Mexico:
$0.79 - Postcards
$0.79 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To all other destination countries:
$0.98 - Postcards
$0.98 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)

Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that promotes and defends human rights.

This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including contact information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank you for your help with this appeal.

Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave SE 5th fl
Washington DC 20003
Phone: 202.509.8193
Fax: 202.675.8566


Free the Children of Palestine!
Sign Petition:

Published by Al-Awda, Palestine Right to Return Coalition on Dec 16, 2010
Category: Children's Rights
Region: GLOBAL
Target: President Obama
Web site:

Background (Preamble):

According to Israeli police, 1200 Palestinian children have been arrested, interrogated and imprisoned in the occupied city of Jerusalem alone this year. The youngest of these children was seven-years old.

Children and teen-agers were often dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night, taken in handcuffs for questioning, threatened, humiliated and many were subjected to physical violence while under arrest as part of an ongoing campaign against the children of Palestine. Since the year 2000, more than 8000 have been arrested by Israel, and reports of mistreatment are commonplace.

Further, based on sworn affidavits collected in 2009 from 100 of these children, lawyers working in the occupied West Bank with Defense Children International, a Geneva-based non governmental organization, found that 69% were beaten and kicked, 49% were threatened, 14% were held in solitary confinement, 12% were threatened with sexual assault, including rape, and 32% were forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew, a language they do not understand.

Minors were often asked to give names and incriminate friends and relatives as a condition of their release. Such institutionalized and systematic mistreatment of Palestinian children by the state of Israel is a violation international law and specifically contravenes the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Israel is supposedly a signatory.


We, the undersigned call on US President Obama to direct Israel to

1. Stop all the night raids and arrests of Palestinian Children forthwith.

2. Immediately release all Palestinian children detained in its prisons and detention centers.

3. End all forms of systematic and institutionalized abuse against all Palestinian children.

4. Implement the full restoration of Palestinian children's rights in accordance with international law including, but not limited to, their right to return to their homes of origin, to education, to medical and psychological care, and to freedom of movement and expression.

The US government, which supports Israel to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars a year while most ordinary Americans are suffering in a very bad economy, is bound by its laws and international conventions to cut off all aid to Israel until it ends all of its violations of human rights and basic freedoms in a verifiable manner.


"Secret diplomacy is a necessary tool for a propertied minority, which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to subject it to its interests."..."Publishing State Secrets" By Leon Trotsky
Documents on Soviet Policy, Trotsky, iii, 2 p. 64
November 22, 1917


To understand how much a trillion dollars is, consider looking at it in terms of time:

A million seconds would be about eleven-and-one-half days; a billion seconds would be 31 years; and a trillion seconds would be 31,000 years!

From the novel "A Dark Tide," by Andrew Gross

Now think of it in terms of U.S. war dollars and bankster bailouts!


Your Year-End Gift for the Children
Double your impact with this matching gift opportunity!

Dear Friend of the Children,

You may have recently received a letter from me via regular mail with a review of the important things you helped MECA accomplish for the children in 2010, along with a special Maia Project decal.

My letter to you also included an announcement of MECA's first ever matching gift offer. One of our most generous supporters will match all gifts received by December 31. 2010 to a total of $35,000.

So, whether you are a long time supporter, or giving for the first-time... Whether you can give $10 or $1,000... This is a unique opportunity to double the impact of your year-end gift!
Your contribution will be matched dollar for dollar, making it go twice as far so that MECA can:

* Install twenty more permanent drinking water units in Gaza schools though our Maia Project
* Continue our work with Playgrounds for Palestine to complete a community park in the besieged East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, where violent Israeli settlers attack children and adults, Israeli police arrest the victims, and the city conducts "administrative demolitions" of Palestinian homes.
* Send a large medical aid shipment to Gaza.
* Renew support for "Let the Children Play and Heal," a program in Gaza to help children cope with trauma and grief through arts programs, referrals to therapists, educational materials for families and training for mothers.

Your support for the Middle East Children's Alliance's delivers real, often life-saving, help. And it does more than that. It sends a message of hope and solidarity to Palestine-showing the people that we are standing beside them as they struggle to bring about a better life for their children.

With warm regards,
Barbara Lubin
Founder and Director

P.S. Please give as much as you possible can, and please make your contribution now, so it will be doubled. Thank you so much.

P.S.S. If you didn't receive a MAIA Project decal in the mail or if you would like another one, please send an email message to with "MAIA Project decal" in the subject line when you make your contribution.

To make a gift by mail send to:
MECA, 1101 8th Street, Berkley, CA 94710

To make a gift by phone, please call MECA's off at: 510-548-0542

To "GO PAPERLESS" and receive all your MECA communications by email, send a message to with "Paperless" in the subject line.


For Immediate Release
Antiwar movement supports Wikileaks and calls for and independent, international investigation of the crimes that have been exposed. We call for the release of Bradley Manning and the end to the harassment of Julian Assange.
For more information: Joe Lombardo, 518-281-1968,,

Antiwar movement supports Wikileaks and calls for and independent, international investigation of the crimes that have been exposed. We call for the release of Bradley Manning and the end to the harassment of Julian Assange.

The United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC) calls for the release of Bradley Manning who is awaiting trial accused of leaking the material to Wikileaks that has been released over the past several months. We also call for an end to the harassment of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks and we call for an independent, international investigation of the illegal activity exposed through the material released by Wikileaks.

Before sending the material to Wikileaks, Bradley Manning tried to get his superiors in the military to do something about what he understood to be clear violations of international law. His superiors told him to keep quiet so Manning did the right thing; he exposed the illegal activity to the world.

The Afghan material leaked earlier shows military higher-ups telling soldiers to kill enemy combatants who were trying to surrender. The Iraq Wikileaks video from 2007 shows the US military killing civilians and news reporters from a helicopter while laughing about it. The widespread corruption among U.S. allies has been exposed by the most recent leaks of diplomatic cables. Yet, instead of calling for change in these policies, we hear only a call to suppress further leaks.

At the national antiwar conference held in Albany in July, 2010, at which UNAC was founded, we heard from Ethan McCord, one of the soldiers on the ground during the helicopter attack on the civilians in Iraq exposed by Wikileaks (see: ). He talked about removing wounded children from a civilian vehicle that the US military had shot up. It affected him so powerfully that he and another soldier who witnessed the massacre wrote a letter of apology to the families of the civilians who were killed.

We ask why this material was classified in the first place. There were no state secrets in the material, only evidence of illegal and immoral activity by the US military, the US government and its allies. To try to cover this up by classifying the material is a violation of our right to know the truth about these wars. In this respect, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange should be held up as heroes, not hounded for exposing the truth.

UNAC calls for an end to the illegal and immoral policies exposed by Wikileaks and an immediate end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an end to threats against Iran and North Korea.


Courage to Resist needs your support
By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist.

It's been quite a ride the last four months since we took up the defense of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning. Since then, we helped form the Bradley Manning Support Network, established a defense fund, and have already paid over half of Bradley's total $100,000 in estimated legal expenses.

Now, I'm asking for your support of Courage to Resist so that we can continue to support not only Bradley, but the scores of other troops who are coming into conflict with military authorities due to reasons of conscience.

Please donate today:

"Soldiers sworn oath is to defend and support the Constitution. Bradley Manning has been defending and supporting our Constitution."
-Dan Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower

Iraq War over? Afghanistan occupation winding down? Not from what we see. Please take a look at, "Soldier Jeff Hanks refuses deployment, seeks PTSD help" in our December newsletter. Jeff's situation is not isolated. Actually, his story is only unique in that he has chosen to share it with us in the hopes that it may result in some change. Jeff's case also illustrates the importance of Iraq Veterans Against the War's new "Operation Recovery" campaign which calls for an end to the deployment of traumatized troops.

Most of the folks who call us for help continue to be effected by Stoploss, a program that involuntarily extends enlistments (despite Army promises of its demise), or the Individual Ready Reserve which recalls thousands of former Soldiers and Marines quarterly from civilian life.

Another example of our efforts is Kyle Wesolowski. After returning from Iraq, Kyle submitted an application for a conscientious objector discharge based on his Buddhist faith. Kyle explains, "My experience of physical threats, religious persecution, and general abuse seems to speak of a system that appears to be broken.... It appears that I have no other recourse but to now refuse all duties that prepare myself for war or aid in any way shape or form to other soldiers in conditioning them to go to war." We believe he shouldn't have to walk this path alone.

Jeff Paterson
Project Director, Courage to Resist
First US military service member to refuse to fight in Iraq
Please donate today.

P.S. I'm asking that you consider a contribution of $50 or more, or possibly becoming a sustainer at $15 a month. Of course, now is also a perfect time to make a end of year tax-deductible donation. Thanks again for your support!

Please click here to forward this to a friend who might
also be interested in supporting GI resisters.


Add your name! We stand with Bradley Manning.

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

Dear All,

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

Read the complete public letter and add your name at:

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


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

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your generosity! Tom Burke


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

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

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

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

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


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) Times Sues City Police, Saying Information Has Been Illegally Withheld
December 21, 2010

2) Agent Provocateurs at demos
Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:34 am (PST)
VIA Email

3) The Professional Left Versus The Left of Us
By Jared A. Ball
Black Agenda Report, December 21, 2010

4) Under 'High-Tech House Arrest,' WikiLeaks Founder Takes the Offensive
December 22, 2010

5) Alabama Town's Failed Pension Is a Warning
December 22, 2010

6) Judge Criticizes Stop-and-Frisk Police Tactics in Housing Projects
December 22, 2010

7) Sentence Commuted in Racially Charged Killing
December 23, 2010

8) Jailed Soldier Has Support of Resisters
December 25, 2010

9) Ship in Israel Raid Returns to Turkey
December 26, 2010

10) Banks and WikiLeaks
NYT Editorial
December 25, 2010

11) Pentagon's Christmas Present: Largest Military Budget Since World War II
"The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates American military spending for 2009 to have accounted for 43 percent of the world total. Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives, earlier this year estimated the 2010 U.S. defense budget to constitute 47 percent of total worldwide military expenditures and to amount to 19 percent of all American federal spending."
By Rick Rozoff
December 23, 2010

12) The Data and the Reality
December 27, 2010

13) Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies and, Along With it, Reason and Justice
by: Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., t r u t h o u t | News Analysis
Tuesday 28 December 2010

14)'Doubling Up' in Recession-Strained Quarters
December 28, 2010

15) Home Foreclosures Jump In 3rd Quarter: Regulators
December 29, 2010

16) Hunger strike of the Lucasville Uprising prisoners - starting Monday, Jan. 3
Posted on December 25, 2010 by denverabc

17) Mississippi: Kidney Is the Cost of Freedom
December 29, 2010

18) For Two Sisters, the End of an Ordeal
December 31, 2010

19) Palestinian Dies After Israelis Use Tear Gas
January 1, 2011

20) Public Workers Facing Outrage as Budget Crises Grow
[Pitting worker against worker and not a word about the private accumulation of obscene profits by the ruling]
January 1, 2011

21) Several Warnings, Then a Soldier's Lonely Death
January 1, 2011

22) Europe's Young Grow Agitated Over Future Prospects
January 1, 2011

23) Computers That See You and Keep Watch Over You
January 1, 2011

24) Career Shift Often Means Drop in Living Standards
December 31, 2010

25) Real Estate Developers Prosper Despite Defaults
January 1, 2011


1) Times Sues City Police, Saying Information Has Been Illegally Withheld
December 21, 2010

The New York Times has sued the New York Police Department, saying the department had routinely violated a state law that requires government agencies to provide information to the press and the public.

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, The Times described four requests made by reporters this year for information that it said the police had delayed or denied. The Times said the department's handling of the requests reflected a pattern and practice by which the police avoided providing material that the State Freedom of Information Law said must be released.

"We've become increasingly concerned over the last two years about a growing lack of transparency at the N.Y.P.D.," said David E. McCraw, a vice president and assistant general counsel of The New York Times Company. "Information that was once released is now withheld. Disclosures that could be made quickly are put on hold for months."

"The police have performed outstanding service to this city," Mr. McCraw added, "but it's important that they also meet their duties under the Freedom of Information Law. People have a right to know what public agencies are doing, and how they are doing it, so that there can be an informed public debate over what policies are pursued and how tax dollars are spent."

In the lawsuit, The Times asked for a judicial order requiring the police to turn over the information and barring the Police Department "from continuing its pattern and practice of violating FOIL," the acronym for the Freedom of Information Law.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said that based on a preliminary review of The Times's lawsuit, "none of the FOIL requests about which The Times complains, is, in our view, ripe for litigation."

"These requests are being processed by the N.Y.P.D. in accordance with controlling law," Mr. Browne said by e-mail. "We disagree with The Times's interpretation of FOIL as contained in the papers we received."

He said the department would not comment further "since these issues are now in litigation."

The four requests from Times reporters were for the addresses of New York City residents who had been granted gun permits, for the Police Department's database on hate crimes, for its database on crime incident reports and for the tracking log on Freedom of Information requests.

The lawsuit said the police had "no legal basis for withholding the materials sought" by the reporters.

It said the police had released the hate crimes database to The Times once before, in 2005.

The lawsuit also said the police had regularly failed to respond to requests as fast as the law required and had failed to consider appeals quickly when the department denied a request.

In recent years, the department has maintained a tight grip on what the public knows and does not know about its inner workings. Its strict control of information has ranged from data on crime trends to nuggets of information sought by journalists, scholars, lawmakers and others.

One example of the department's reluctance to give out data involved statistics for minor crimes - offenses like misdemeanor thefts and assaults, marijuana possession and sex offenses other than rape. The department acknowledged last month that it had not forwarded the data to the state since 2002. It was one of only two police agencies in the state that had not done so.

Information on the department's practice of stopping and questioning people on the street, and sometimes frisking them, was only sporadically reported from 2003 to 2007, when the department began to comply regularly with a law requiring it to give the information to the City Council.

The Times's lawsuit said the Freedom of Information Law imposed "specific deadlines, which the N.Y.P.D. persistently and as a matter of practice fails to meet." The lawsuit said that the law required the department "to make individualized determinations about extensions to those deadlines, based on specific factors."

But The Times said the Police Department did not appear to decide requests one by one. Sometimes it sends form letters, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also said that when an agency like the Police Department turned down a request and the person who made it filed an appeal, the agency was supposed to respond within 10 days. But the lawsuit said "the N.Y.P.D. as a matter of practice does not meet the deadline."

Of the appeals on the four information requests in the lawsuit, one was decided in 19 business days and another in 18. The Times never received a determination on its appeal of a third; a fourth has yet to be decided.


2) Agent Provocateurs at demos
Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:34 am (PST)
VIA Email

Another kind of provocateur is the person who can be pressurised, such as one who commits a smallish crime, and is told that if they do something, it will be 'forgotten'. Common amongst 'crooks', to get themselves of the hook, they inform on another. Check both sides.

Agent Provocateurs at demos
Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:34 am (PST)

Do we know who threw that fire-extinguisher? His boot-size may be important.

Here's a message from Canada on the subject:

This video comes from Canada, but thetechnique is used in the US every day ofthe week. The truly bizarre thing is no one seemsto know about it. [maybe they don't know about it in the US, but it's been used in Toronto at the G20 summit last summer, which, by the way, is proving difficult for the police to defend, that is, the police violence, kettling and arresting of nearly 1000 innocent and keeping them in a special prison for 24 hours.

http://www.thestar. com/videozone/ 902663--arrest- footage com/watch? v=TbLU9tdDwxo& feature=related

and others....Every demonstration should have teams specifically charged with identifying these gun thugs (they're easy to find), pointing them out, and blowing their cover. It's a matter of public safety as these creeps are there specifically to incite violence.

Your tax dollars at work.

Here's how the adults deal with it.
Video: http://www.brassche page/288. html
Police inciting violence
For over ten years now, I've been writing about and documenting police riots at protests.

It's always the same story:

Undercover police dress up as protesters and incite, or even engage in, violence.

Uniformed police then take advantage of this to assault legitimate protesters, sometimes brutally.

It's the oldest trick in the book and the French have a phrase for it: "Agent Provocateur.

Bizarrely, US protesters NEVER seem to get their heads out of their arses and see it coming no matter how many times it gets pulled on them.

In contrast, one labor leader at the Montebello meeting of the so called "Security and Prosperity Summit" in Quebec earned the title LEADER and not only detected this crap as it was talking place, but confronted the government-employed criminals involved and forced them to stand down.

This kind of activity isn't legitimate police work. It's thug-for-hire work on behalf of fascists.

Next time you see one of these hulking morons with a mask on his face holding a rock or stick, rip off his mask and photograph him. Don't expect a shred of help from the gutless news media exposing these vermin. They'll never follow up on the story, but the photographs are a deterrent.

Look for the steroid pumped morons with close-cropped hair, polished shoes, and over the top ass-holic behavior. Those would be your police masquerading as protesters.

By the way, the so called "Security and Prosperity Summit" will be meeting in New Orleans in April. (Update: Meeting came and went.) Brasscheck TV will be there reporting on cop dirty tricks as they happen.

Note: New Orleans police have coincidentally been given a "grant" of assault weapons and riot gear recently. Also, an article recently appeared in New Orleans Magazine praising the local SWAT team for brutalizing local affordable housing protesters. How subtle.

How police staged riots at the Seattle at the WTO meeting:


3) The Professional Left Versus The Left of Us
By Jared A. Ball
Black Agenda Report, December 21, 2010

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was partially right when earlier this year he dismissed the "professional left." There is indeed a professional left, those whose entire careers and claims to fame are based on permanent liberal challenges to power and who arrogantly dismiss as immature, and worse dangerous, those who would push leftward beyond those limits. "Don't go too far," they tell us, "vote for us or THEY will get elected and then we're in real trouble!" But that's because liberals aren't in real trouble. They don't really believe that. If they did really believe that corporations were leading the planet to doom or that the fascists they are protecting us from are just outside the gates would they really only respond by a few rallies and a vote for a Democrat? Then maybe they are as "fucking stupid" as Rahm Emanuel said they are.

But to some the fascism warned of in all those faint allusions to totalitarian horrors already exists and the death camp trains have been running for decades with barely a peep from the professional liberals. Should we care about Obama's failure to close Guantanamo when he never felt pressure enough to even lie about wanting to shut down the Corrections Corporation of America? Prisons and the racist legislation, hyper-policing, brutality and fraudulent judicial system that keep them filled are among the nation's biggest businesses.

Joblessness and poverty continue to worsen and even the tens-of-thousands dying from war abroad are more than matched by the deaths in this country resulting from public policies which deny adequate housing, food and healthcare to millions. When rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are found to be as high in Black communities in the United States as they are in war-torn cities overseas and children tell counter military recruitment workers that they might as well risk death fighting in foreign wars when they get shot at here at home since at least that offers the chance of healthcare and education who is really interested in more liberal threats of "it could be worse"?

For Marcus Bellamy of the Arizona-based Black Organizing Network and Arizona Green Party this was the point of a series of events that took place this week in Phoenix. For Bellamy and co-organizers Arizona is the national "ground zero, the laboratory for the state testing out just how far it can go in terms of racial oppression." According to Bellamy all the recent fuss over Senate Bill 1070 itself works to mask that "the migrant community is being used as a mere experiment in methods that can one day be used against the entire population-workplace raids, detention centers, extension of biometric data collection in prisons, the hiring of an armed volunteer force that enforces immigration law, which in any other country would be labeled a paramilitary force), integration of local and national police agencies along with cooperation from the National Guard in the name of "border protection," and so on, may seem like an attack on the stereotypical "Mexican" but will eventually morph into a blanket assault on anyone who defies the status quo.

So sure, the professional left will undoubtedly tell us of all the small victories achieved in this week's reversal of "don't ask, don't tell," and the passage of the Low Power FM Radio Act. And we are soon to hear more from the Black professionals, or "surrogates," called upon by Obama to explain how Black people will benefit from the new tax bill. But who really cares if imperialism is gay or straight or if we are now to get more liberal/non-profit radio or if Black people will get extensions on unemployment benefits instead of proper jobs with proper wages? Black, Brown, Indigenous and working people need to abandon the conventions of the professional left and develop our own politics even if they be dismissed as immature, impractical and simple fantasy. Professional liberalism is no answer for us.

Several years ago Essence Farmer finally won her case in Arizona allowing her to run a natural hair braiding business without a license since cosmetology school does not teach that skill. This week Black Floridian barbers are being raided and jailed by armed and masked agents for precisely that same licensing issue. "Ground zero" strikes again.


4) Under 'High-Tech House Arrest,' WikiLeaks Founder Takes the Offensive
December 22, 2010

BUNGAY, England - When Julian Assange wakes these days, he looks out from a three-story Georgian mansion house overlooking a man-made lake. Under a blanket of snow, the 650-acre Ellingham Hall estate, a mile back from the closest public road, is as tranquil a spot as can be found in eastern England.

But Mr. Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who is fighting accusations of sexual misconduct in Sweden, strolls through this bucolic idyll with an electronic tag on his ankle and a required daily 20-minute drive to the part-time police station in the neighboring town of Beccles. There he signs a register and chats "pleasantly" with the officers, according to their account, and returns to his curfew at the hall.

It is what Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, has laconically referred to as "my high-tech house arrest" in interviews since arriving last week from the High Court in London, where he was granted bail of $370,000, much of it provided by wealthy celebrities and friends, including Vaughan Smith, Ellingham Hall's owner.

From his rural redoubt, Mr. Assange has gone on a media offensive, continuing to charge that he is the victim of a smear campaign led by the United States, which is weighing criminal prosecution for the leaks of nearly 750,000 classified documents.

In an interview with The Times of London on Tuesday, he compared himself to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., saying that when he was jailed at Wandsworth Prison in London, a black guard handed him a card saying, "I only have two heroes in the world, Dr. King and you." Mr. Assange added, "That is representative of 50 percent of people."

In the interview, he also compared the obloquy directed at WikiLeaks by the Obama administration and other critics with the "persecution" endured by American Jews in the 1950s. He added, "I'm not the Jewish people," but suggested that the common thread was that supporters of WikiLeaks and American Jews were "people who believe in freedom of speech and accountability."

Mr. Assange also denied prior contact with Bradley Manning, the Army private jailed on charges that he leaked thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks. "I never heard of the name Bradley Manning before it appeared in the media," he said in an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday.

While there have been a number of prosecutions of government employees under the Espionage Act for leaking classified information, there has never been a successful prosecution of a journalist for receiving and publishing such information. But prosecutors have been studying online chats in which Private Manning reportedly talked about contacts with Mr. Assange to see if they suggest that the WikiLeaks leader solicited or encouraged the leaks.

Mr. Assange noted that it was standard journalistic practice to call government officials and ask for information. Criminalizing such conduct would threaten the freedom of the press, he said.

"If they want to push the line that when a newspaperman talks to someone in the government about looking for things relating to potential abuses, that that is a conspiracy to commit espionage, that is going to take out all the good government journalism that takes place in the United States," Mr. Assange said.

In the interview with The Times of London, Mr. Assange also spoke of his "feeling of betrayal" toward the two women in Sweden, who have said he forced sex on them without using a condom, and in one case while the woman, according to her account, was asleep. Over the weekend, The Guardian and The New York Times obtained copies of a 68-page police document detailing the accusations against Mr. Assange, leaks he said were "clearly designed to undermine" his bail arrangements.

"Somebody in authority clearly intended to keep Julian in prison," he said of himself.

Mr. Assange said the accusations had put at risk what WikiLeaks had achieved. "We have changed governance, we have certainly changed many political figures within governments, we have caused new law reform efforts, we have caused police investigations into the abuses we expose, U.N. investigations, investigations here in the U.K., especially in relation to our revelation of the circumstances of the deaths of 109,000 people in Iraq," he said. He added, "We are also changing the perception of the West."

Attempts by The New York Times to interview Mr. Assange in recent days were unsuccessful. For months, he has regularly changed cellphones, and had members of his close-knit entourage answer them for him.

Recently, even those have been switched off, and Ellingham Hall has padlocked its gates against intruders. Telephones there go unanswered, and the hall's Web site for weddings and shooting parties, during which the public is charged $40 to shoot a pheasant, has been taken off-line.

Where the private road leading to Ellingham Hall begins, WikiLeaks supporters who have gathered to support Mr. Assange have taped a hand-lettered placard to an electricity junction box, next to one posted by Mr. Smith advertising "fresh eggs," saying "Free Bradley Manning."

Mr. Assange has given conflicting accounts of the handling of his case in Sweden. Immediately after an initial warrant was issued for his arrest in August, he said he had "no idea" who his accusers were; he has since acknowledged that he slept with both of the women over a four-day period before the warrant was issued. He has said he waited weeks to be interviewed by the police in Sweden; they have said that it was Mr. Assange who delayed meeting with them.

He said in an interview with the BBC on Tuesday that he saw no reason to return to Sweden to answer the allegations. Asked why he would not comply with the legal processes of a country with a respected system of jurisprudence, he described Sweden as "a bit more of a banana republic" than its reputation suggested, and said his WikiLeaks work was too important to answer to "random prosecutors around the world who simply want to have a chat."

"They can come here, or we can have a video linkup, or they can accept a statement of mine," he said. In the BBC interview, Mr. Assange acknowledged obliquely that he had high ambitions for himself, saying, "Everybody would like to be a messianic figure without dying."

At times in the interviews, he seemed conflicted about the impact of the Swedish allegations. Speaking to the BBC, he said he thought they could be "quite helpful to our organization" because "it will expose a tremendous abuse of power." But he also rued the impact on his own reputation, saying that his name was now linked widely on the Internet with the rape allegation.

Using Google, he said, and "searching for my name and the word 'rape,' there are some 30 million Web pages. So this has been a very successful smear."

Scott Shane contributed reporting from Washington.


5) Alabama Town's Failed Pension Is a Warning
December 22, 2010

PRICHARD, Ala. - This struggling small city on the outskirts of Mobile was warned for years that if it did nothing, its pension fund would run out of money by 2009. Right on schedule, its fund ran dry.

Then Prichard did something that pension experts say they have never seen before: it stopped sending monthly pension checks to its 150 retired workers, breaking a state law requiring it to pay its promised retirement benefits in full.

Since then, Nettie Banks, 68, a retired Prichard police and fire dispatcher, has filed for bankruptcy. Alfred Arnold, a 66-year-old retired fire captain, has gone back to work as a shopping mall security guard to try to keep his house. Eddie Ragland, 59, a retired police captain, accepted help from colleagues, bake sales and collection jars after he was shot by a robber, leaving him badly wounded and unable to get to his new job as a police officer at the regional airport.

Far worse was the retired fire marshal who died in June. Like many of the others, he was too young to collect Social Security. "When they found him, he had no electricity and no running water in his house," said David Anders, 58, a retired district fire chief. "He was a proud enough man that he wouldn't accept help."

The situation in Prichard is extremely unusual - the city has sought bankruptcy protection twice - but it proves that the unthinkable can, in fact, sometimes happen. And it stands as a warning to cities like Philadelphia and states like Illinois, whose pension funds are under great strain: if nothing changes, the money eventually does run out, and when that happens, misery and turmoil follow.

It is not just the pensioners who suffer when a pension fund runs dry. If a city tried to follow the law and pay its pensioners with money from its annual operating budget, it would probably have to adopt large tax increases, or make huge service cuts, to come up with the money.

Current city workers could find themselves paying into a pension plan that will not be there for their own retirements. In Prichard, some older workers have delayed retiring, since they cannot afford to give up their paychecks if no pension checks will follow.

So the declining, little-known city of Prichard is now attracting the attention of bankruptcy lawyers, labor leaders, municipal credit analysts and local officials from across the country. They want to see if the situation in Prichard, like the continuing bankruptcy of Vallejo, Calif., ultimately creates a legal precedent on whether distressed cities can legally cut or reduce their pensions, and if so, how.

"Prichard is the future," said Michael Aguirre, the former San Diego city attorney, who has called for San Diego to declare bankruptcy and restructure its own outsize pension obligations. "We're all on the same conveyor belt. Prichard is just a little further down the road."

Many cities and states are struggling to keep their pension plans adequately funded, with varying success. New York City plans to put $8.3 billion into its pension fund next year, twice what it paid five years ago. Maryland is considering a proposal to raise the retirement age to 62 for all public workers with fewer than five years of service.

Illinois keeps borrowing money to invest in its pension funds, gambling that the funds' investments will earn enough to pay back the debt with interest. New Jersey simply decided not to pay the $3.1 billion that was due its pension plan this year.

Colorado, Minnesota and South Dakota have all taken the unusual step of reducing the benefits they pay their current retirees by cutting cost-of-living increases; retirees in all three states are suing.

No state or city wants to wind up like Prichard.

Driving down Wilson Avenue here - a bleak stretch of shuttered storefronts, with pawn shops and beauty parlors that operate behind barred windows and signs warning of guard dogs - it is hard to see vestiges of the Prichard that was a boom town until the 1960s. The city once had thriving department stores, two theaters and even a zoo. "You couldn't find a place to park in that city," recalled Kenneth G. Turner, a retired paramedic whose grandfather pushed for the city's incorporation in 1925.

The city's rapid decline began in the 1970s. The growth of other suburbs, white flight and then middle-class flight all took their tolls, and the city's population shrank by 40 percent to about 27,000 today, from its peak of 45,000. As people left, the city's tax base dwindled.

Prichard's pension plan was established by state law during the good times, in 1956, to supplement Social Security. By the standard of other public pension plans, and the six-figure pensions that draw outrage in places like California and New Jersey, it is not especially rich. Its biggest pension came to about $39,000 a year, for a retired fire chief with many years of service. The average retiree got around $12,000 a year. But the plan allowed workers to retire young, in their 50s. And its benefits were sweetened over time by the state legislature, which did not pay for the added benefits.

For many years, the city - like many other cities and states today - knew that its pension plan was underfunded. As recently as 2004, the city hired an actuary, who reported that "the plan is projected to exhaust the assets around 2009, at which time benefits will need to be paid directly from the city's annual finances."

The city had already taken the unusual step of reducing pension benefits by 8.5 percent for current retirees, after it declared bankruptcy in 1999, yielding to years of dwindling money, mismanagement and corruption. (A previous mayor was removed from office and found guilty of neglect of duty.) The city paid off its last creditors from the bankruptcy in 2007. But its current mayor, Ronald K. Davis, never complied with an order from the bankruptcy court to begin paying $16.5 million into the pension fund to reduce its shortfall.

A lawyer representing the city, R. Scott Williams, said that the city simply did not have the money. "The reality for Prichard is that if you took money to build the pension up, who's going to pay the garbage man?" he asked. "Who's going to pay to run the police department? Who's going to pay the bill for the street lights? There's only so much money to go around."

Workers paid 5.5 percent of their salaries into the pension fund, and the city paid 10.5 percent. But the fund paid out more money than it took in, and by September 2009 there was no longer enough left in the fund to send out the $150,000 worth of monthly checks owed to the retirees. The city stopped paying its pensions. And no one stepped in to enforce the law.

The retirees, who were not unionized, sued. The city tried to block their suit by declaring bankruptcy, but a judge denied the request. The city is appealing. The retirees filed another suit, asking the city to pay at least some of the benefits they are owed. A mediation effort is expected to begin soon. Many retirees say they would accept reduced benefits.

Companies with pension plans are required by federal law to put money behind their promises years in advance, and the government can impose punitive taxes on those that fail to do so, or in some cases even seize their pension funds.

Companies are also required to protect their pension assets. So if a corporate pension fund falls below 60 cents' worth of assets for every dollar of benefits owed, workers can no longer accrue additional benefits. (Prichard was down to just 33 cents on the dollar in 2003.)

And if a company goes bankrupt, the federal government can take over its pension plan and see that its retirees receive their benefits. Although some retirees receive less than they were promised, no retiree from a federally insured plan in the private sector has come away empty-handed since the federal pension law was enacted in 1974. The law does not cover public sector workers.

Last week several dozen retirees - one using a wheelchair, some with canes - attended the weekly City Council meeting, asking for something before Christmas. Mary Berg, 61, a former assistant city clerk whose mother was once the city's zookeeper, read them the names of 11 retirees who had died since the checks stopped coming.

"I hope that on Christmas morning, when you are with your families around your Christmas trees, that you remember that most of the retirees will not be opening presents with their families," she told them.

The budget did not move forward. Mayor Davis was out of town.

"Merry Christmas!" shouted a man from the back row of the folding chairs. The retirees filed out. One woman could not hold back her tears.

After the meeting, Troy Ephriam, a council member who became chairman of the pension fund when it was nearly broke, sat in his office and recalled some of the failed efforts to put more money into the pension fund.

"I think the biggest disappointment I have is that there was not a strong enough effort to put something in there," he said. "And that's the reason that it's hard for me to look these people in the face: because I'm not certain we really gave our all to prevent this."


6) Judge Criticizes Stop-and-Frisk Police Tactics in Housing Projects
December 22, 2010

A Manhattan judge criticized the policing tactics in New York City Housing Authority developments, ruling on Tuesday that officers appeared to be routinely flouting the law by questioning people without legal justification.

The decision by acting Supreme Court Justice Analisa J. Torres barred the admission of 29 plastic bags of cocaine that the police seized last February from Jose Ventura in the lobby of the Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side.

More broadly, the court action renewed a debate about the policing tactics in public housing, including the use of "stop, question and frisk" and vertical patrols. Officers use violations of Housing Authority rules - which forbid people from being in city housing projects unless they live there or are visiting someone - to justify the stops.

In her ruling, Justice Torres cited the testimony by Police Officer Jason Del Toro, who said the police could simply question anyone they encountered inside a public housing building. The judge wrote that officers had to have a legally meaningful reason for the stop, such as the site being drug- prone.

"To the extent that Del Toro's description of vertical patrols is accurate, that in public housing the police routinely engage in random, unjustified questioning - and there is evidence that they do - the practice would amount to a systematic violation" of the court decision that spells out the legal basis for stops and questioning, Justice Torres wrote.

Officer Del Toro approached Mr. Ventura during a vertical patrol simply after spotting him and without establishing a legal reason to question him, the judge wrote. In testimony at a suppression hearing, the officer never mentioned "whether the building or the area is drug-prone," the judge wrote.

After Mr. Ventura was arrested for trespassing, a second officer discovered the cocaine.

But in her ruling, Justice Torres wrote: "No matter the location, luxurious or modest, the police must have 'some objective credible reason,' to request information about a person's residency. Officers conducting vertical patrols are not permitted to select individuals for questioning based on presence alone."

A large volume of all the street stops police officers make in New York are for trespassing, according to an analysis of police data by The New York Times. Officers cited a suspicion of trespassing 369,000 times from 2003 through March 2010, or 12 percent of all stops. But in precincts with large clusters of public housing, up to 30 percent of stops were conducted on suspicion of trespassing.

Critics say the trespassing stops are largely unwarranted. Indeed, the analysis by The Times showed that trespassing stops were far more likely than most stops to result in nothing more than an inconvenient delay. Few moved beyond the questioning stage. Two percent of stops where trespassing was suspected - about 7,000 - yielded drugs or other contraband. A total of 81 trespassing stops yielded a gun.

Fundamentally, when officers stop people to question them, they are supposed to record both a reason for the stop - like the person's having a weaponlike bulge in his pocket - and the crime that the person is suspected of having committed.

But among all trespassing stops from 2003 through March 2010, two-thirds - more than 257,000 - listed only the vague category of "other" or "furtive movements" as the reason for the stop. In a majority of those cases, the officers indicated that the stop took place in a high-crime area, which would satisfy what Justice Torres said the police needed as a minimum threshold to make a trespassing stop.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said the judge's decision was "not a setback" because it was consistent with new housing vertical patrol, procedures and training curriculum put in place this year.

Before making a trespass arrest, Mr. Browne said, officers are trained to ask a person: Do you live in the building? Are you visiting someone? Do you have business there? Based on the answers, and on follow-up questions, an officer might establish probable cause for an arrest, or might tell the person to leave or become satisfied that he or she can stay.

"Housing officers are trained that they must establish a reason to approach someone before questioning individuals in a housing development - for example, violations of Housing Authority rules and regulations," Mr. Browne said. "Furthermore, the judge said the officer in the Ventura case did not adequately establish reasonable suspicion or properly articulate probable cause for a trespassing arrest."

Mr. Browne said the department's new guidelines and training grew out of meetings with tenants' organizations and the city Housing Authority, and did not suggest that officers' behavior in patrolling public housing prior to the new rules was faulty.

A spokeswoman for Bridget G. Brennan, the special narcotics prosecutor, said the judge's decision was narrow and "we're not concerned that it has any precedential value."

But Steven Banks, attorney-in-chief at the Legal Aid Society, said that what Officer Del Toro "candidly admitted" in his testimony is a "serious daily occurrence." He said it encapsulated what had led his agency, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., and a private law firm to file a federal lawsuit against the city.


7) Sentence Commuted in Racially Charged Killing
December 23, 2010

Gov. David A. Paterson announced on Thursday that he had commuted the prison sentence of a black man who fatally shot an unarmed white teenager outside the man's house in August 2006, weighing in on a case where the issue of race on Long Island became as much fodder for debate as the man's innocence or guilt.

The trial of the man, John H. White, had racial overtones, as defense lawyers suggested that the tension associated with the Deep South in the civil rights era was alive in 2006, in a New York suburb with good schools, high property values and privileged children.

Mr. White, 57, was convicted of manslaughter for shooting Daniel Cicciaro, 17, point-blank in the face after Daniel and several friends had left a party and showed up late at night at Mr. White's house in Miller Place, a predominantly white hamlet in Suffolk County.

The white teenagers had arrived to challenge Mr. White's son Aaron, then 19, to a fight. The white teenagers used threats, profanities and racial epithets outside the house. Mr. White, who had been asleep, grabbed a loaded Beretta pistol he kept in his garage.

In a statement, Mr. Paterson, who leaves office next week, said, "My decision today may be an affront to some and a joy to others, but my objective is only to seek to ameliorate the profound suffering that occurred as a result of this tragic event."

Mr. White, reached by phone at his home on Thursday night and asked for his reaction to the commutation, said, "I'm blessed and highly favored, brother."

"I thank the Lord God most of all - he's my savior," he added. "Every day I thank my savior I am alive."

Asked about the governor's decision, he said, "I won't get into all that; I'll just say that Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas."

Mr. White, who had served five months at an upstate New York prison for the killing, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and of criminal possession of a weapon. He had remained free on bail during an appeal, but after the appeal was rejected, a judge gave him a sentence of 20 months to 4 years in prison, a spokeswoman for the State Division of Parole said. The maximum sentence, under legal guidelines, would have been between 4 and 11 years.

In July, Mr. White began serving his sentence at the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility, in Saratoga County. He would have been eligible for parole roughly two months after his first hearing date, next October.

Frederick K. Brewington, a defense lawyer who represented Mr. White during the trial, said a group of advocates for Mr. White made an application to Mr. Paterson for a pardon, "outlining the reasons, what the particulars were and the value to the community." He added that supporters of Mr. White had organized a letter-writing campaign to urge the governor to consider Mr. White's case.

A commutation lessens the severity of the punishment. A pardon excuses or forgives the offense itself.

At the trial, Mr. White testified that his son woke him from a deep sleep the night of the shooting, yelling that "some kids are coming here to kill me." Mr. White said he considered the angry teenagers a "lynch mob."

Mr. White said their racist language recalled the hatred he saw as a child visiting the segregated Deep South and stories of his grandfather's being chased out of Alabama in the 1920s by the Ku Klux Klan. He testified that his grandfather taught him how to shoot and bequeathed him the pistol he used.

But Mr. White said the shooting happened accidentally after he began turning to retreat and Daniel lunged at the gun.

Thomas Spota, the Suffolk County district attorney, said in a statement, "I strongly believe the governor should have had the decency and the compassion to at least contact the victim's family to allow them to be heard before commuting the defendant's sentence."

Reached at his auto body shop in Port Jefferson Station, the teenager's father, Daniel Cicciaro, reacted with annoyance when a reporter identified himself.

"Yeah, what do you need? An oil change?" he said. "We got nothing to say about it."

Mr. Brewington said that Mr. White was released from prison at 8 a.m. on Thursday, and that the White family was happy with the decision.

"They're all very thankful, particularly at this time of year for the blessings bestowed upon them and the thoughtful approach by the governor's office," Mr. Brewington said.

Mr. Paterson has granted nine pardons, three commutations and one clemency, and plans to make more pardons in immigration cases before leaving office on Dec. 31, officials in his office said Thursday.

The governor began a special clemency process in the spring intended to help permanent legal residents who were at risk of deportation because of long-ago or minor convictions. This month, he pardoned six of those immigrants, including a financial administrator at the City University of New York.

In the case of Mr. White, his lawyer, Mr. Brewington, acknowledged that race had played a big role in the trial, but he cautioned against viewing the commutation as racially based, especially because Mr. Paterson is black.

"He reviewed this matter as he reviews any other matter," he said. "People have to be careful not to fan the flames of racism. If the governor happened to be white and he commuted the sentence of a white person, would that be an issue?"

Angela Macropoulos contributed reporting.


8) Jailed Soldier Has Support of Resisters
December 25, 2010

The small office of Courage to Resist, a nonprofit group in Oakland, is full of items featuring the smiling face of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused of passing secret government documents to WikiLeaks. Bradley Manning T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers - even whistles - are for sale.

Jeff Paterson, the project director of the organization, which has supported dozens of service members who have refused deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan, said the group began to raise money for Private Manning's legal defense after he was arrested in May.

WikiLeaks was not supporting the 23-year-old private first class "who gave them all this information," said Mr. Paterson, 42, a lanky former Marine, who was himself jailed for refusing to board a plane bound for Saudi Arabia after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has said he has never spoken with Private Manning and does not know who is behind the leaks. WikiLeaks technology was "designed from the very beginning to make sure that we never know the identities or names of people submitting us material," Mr. Assange told ABC News.

But Private Manning's arrest by the Army, which came after he told a computer hacker that he had leaked video of a helicopter attack that killed two Reuters photographers and Iraqi civilians, along with 260,000 diplomatic cables and intelligence reports on the war in Afghanistan, is proof enough for Mr. Paterson.

Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, is also a supporter. "What I read from his motives seems very familiar to me based on my own experience," Mr. Ellsberg said.

Courage to Resist has raised more than $100,000 to support Private Manning's legal fund, Mr. Paterson said. An activist with the group visits Private Manning in prison every two weeks.

"He has supporters all over the world," said Adam Seibert-Szyper, 39, a staff member who deserted the Marine Corps in 1996. He leafed through envelopes mailed from Brazil, South Africa and Thailand. One envelope, from British Columbia, included a stick of incense and a piece of crystal.

But helping Private Manning has been tricky. He has never publicly defended himself in political or moral terms, and questions remain about what Private Manning may have leaked.

The lack of clarity surrounding Private Manning's involvement has made building public support a challenge, even in friendly forums like the Berkeley City Council, which last week declined to back a measure calling Private Manning a hero.

Robert Meola, an activist who drafted the resolution as chairman of Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission, said he would fight for Private Manning.

"If he didn't do it, then he's in pretrial confinement in isolation for several months, and he should be freed," Mr. Meola said.

"If he did do it, I definitely feel that he's a hero," Mr. Meola added, arguing that revelations contained in the leaked documents "could potentially stop the immoral and illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."


9) Ship in Israel Raid Returns to Turkey
December 26, 2010

ISTANBUL - Thousands of people gathered along the shores of Istanbul on Sunday afternoon to welcome home the Mavi Marmara, the ship that was raided by Israel as it led a flotilla aimed at breaking the blockade of Gaza.

Nine people were killed in the raid last May, which drew international condemnation and helped lead to the easing of restrictions on Gaza. The raid also created a diplomatic standoff between Turkey and Israel.

Groups waving Palestinian and Turkish flags and chanting anti-Israel slogans stood by the ship, which had been confiscated by Israel. On its return on Sunday, it was decorated with posters of the dead passengers.

"Welcome to your soil," said Ahmet Dogan, father of Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old Turkish-American citizen who was killed in the raid. "Dear Mavi Marmara, hold your head high, you've done your duty, acted as the shield for the innocent."

During the ceremony organized by the ship's owner, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, speeches in Arabic and Turkish were often interrupted by shouts of "God is great!" and "Terrorist Israel!"

Turkey, which had long been a close ally of Israel, has demanded an apology and compensation for the deaths of the activists killed in the raid and recalled its ambassador. Israel has refused to apologize, saying that the ship was warned to stay away and that Israeli commandos fired in self-defense after the activists aboard the ship fired first.


10) Banks and WikiLeaks
NYT Editorial
December 25, 2010

The whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks has not been convicted of a crime. The Justice Department has not even pressed charges over its disclosure of confidential State Department communications. Nonetheless, the financial industry is trying to shut it down.

Visa, MasterCard and PayPal announced in the past few weeks that they would not process any transaction intended for WikiLeaks. Earlier this month, Bank of America decided to join the group, arguing that WikiLeaks may be doing things that are "inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."

The Federal Reserve, the banking regulator, allows this. Like other companies, banks can choose whom they do business with. Refusing to open an account for some undesirable entity is seen as reasonable risk management. The government even requires banks to keep an eye out for some shady businesses - like drug dealing and money laundering - and refuse to do business with those who engage in them.

But a bank's ability to block payments to a legal entity raises a troubling prospect. A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy.

The fact of the matter is that banks are not like any other business. They run the payments system. That is one of the main reasons that governments protect them from failure with explicit and implicit guarantees. This makes them look not too unlike other public utilities. A telecommunications company, for example, may not refuse phone or broadband service to an organization it dislikes, arguing that it amounts to risky business.

Our concern is not specifically about payments to WikiLeaks. This isn't the first time a bank shunned a business on similar risk-management grounds. Banks in Colorado, for instance, have refused to open bank accounts for legal dispensaries of medical marijuana.

Still, there are troubling questions. The decisions to bar the organization came after its founder, Julian Assange, said that next year it will release data revealing corruption in the financial industry. In 2009, Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive.

What would happen if a clutch of big banks decided that a particularly irksome blogger or other organization was "too risky"? What if they decided - one by one - to shut down financial access to a newspaper that was about to reveal irksome truths about their operations? This decision should not be left solely up to business-as-usual among the banks.


11) Pentagon's Christmas Present: Largest Military Budget Since World War II
"The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates American military spending for 2009 to have accounted for 43 percent of the world total. Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives, earlier this year estimated the 2010 U.S. defense budget to constitute 47 percent of total worldwide military expenditures and to amount to 19 percent of all American federal spending."
By Rick Rozoff
December 23, 2010

On December 22 both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a bill authorizing $725 billion for next year's Defense Department budget.

The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, was approved by all 100 senators as required and by a voice vote in the House.

The House had approved the bill, now sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law, five days earlier in a 341-48 roll call, but needed to vote on it again after the Senate altered it in the interim.

The proposed figure for the Pentagon's 2011 war chest includes, in addition to the base budget, $158.7 billion for what are now euphemistically referred to as overseas contingency operations: The military occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

The $725 billion figure, although $17 billion more than the White House had requested, is not the final word on the subject, however, as supplements could be demanded as early as the beginning of next year, especially in regard to the Afghan war that will then be in its eleventh calendar year.

Even as it currently is, the amount is the highest in constant dollars (pegged at any given year's dollar and adjusted for inflation) since 1945, the final year of the Second World War. With recent U.S. census figures at 308 million, next year the Pentagon will spend $2,354 for every citizen of the country at the $725 billion price tag alone.

Last year's Pentagon budget, by way of comparison, was $680 billion, a base budget of $533.8 billion and the remainder for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In July of this year Congress approved the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act which contained an additional $37 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Next year's defense authorization of $725 billion compares to, according to the Center for Defense Information, a Pentagon budget of $444.6 billion in 1946; $460.4 billion in 1968, the highest yearly amount during the Vietnam War; and $443.4 billion in 1988, the highest during the eight years of the Ronald Reagan administration's massive military buildup. (Numbers in 2004 constant dollars.) [1]

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates American military spending for 2009 to have accounted for 43 percent of the world total. Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives, earlier this year estimated the 2010 U.S. defense budget to constitute 47 percent of total worldwide military expenditures and to amount to 19 percent of all American federal spending.

In addition, Pentagon spending has increased by 100 percent since 1998 and "the Obama budget plans to spend more on the Pentagon over eight years than any administration has since World War II." [2]

With 2.25 million full-time civilian and military personnel, excluding part-time National Guard and Reserve members, the Defense Department is the U.S.'s largest employer, outstripping Walmart with 1.4 million employees and the U.S Post Office with 599,000. [3]

"Add in what Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and the Energy departments spend on defense and total US military spending will reach $861 billion in fiscal 2011, exceeding that of all other nations combined," according to Todd Harrison, senior fellow for Defense Budget Studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. [4]

In April Robert Higgs of The Independent Institute advocated that the budgets - in part or in whole - of the departments of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Energy, State and Treasury and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) should be calculated in the real military budget, which would in 2009 would have increased it to $901.5 billion.

"Adding [the] interest component to the previous all-agency total, the grand total comes to $1,027.8 billion, which is 61.5 percent greater than the Pentagon's outlays alone."

His numbers are:

National Security Outlays in Fiscal Year 2009
(billions of dollars)

Department of Defense 636.5

Department of Energy (nuclear weapons and environmental cleanup) 16.7

Department of State (plus international assistance) 36.3

Department of Veterans Affairs 95.5

Department of Homeland Security 51.7

Department of the Treasury (for the Military Retirement Fund) 54.9

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (1/2 of total) 9.6

Net interest attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays 126.3

Total 1,027.5 [5]

The above-cited Carl Conetta stated at the beginning of this year that the 2011 Pentagon budget will mark a milestone in that "the inflation-adjusted rise in spending since 1998 will probably exceed 100% in real terms by the end of the fiscal year.

"Taking the 2011 budget into account, the Defense Department has been given about $7.2 trillion since 1998, when the post-Cold War decline in defense spending ended. Approximately $2.5 trillion of this total is due to spending above the annual level set in 1998. This added amount constitutes the post-1998 spending surge."

Based on constant 2010 dollars, Conetta further details that the Ronald Reagan administration spent $4.1 trillion on the Defense Department, the Georgia W. Bush administration spent $4.65 trillion and "Barack Obama plans to spend more than $5 trillion."

He also compares the two previous largest post-World War Two surges in U.S. military spending to the current one:

From 1958-1968: 43 percent

From: 1975-1985 57 percent

In regards to which he said, "the 1998-2011 surge is as large as these two predecessors combined."

His calculations also include a growth in Pentagon contract employees of 40 percent since 1989, thereby freeing up uniformed service members for more direct combat roles.

The U.S. share of global military spending grew from 28 percent during the Cold War to 41 percent by 2006 and that of NATO member states, including the U.S., from 49 percent to 70 percent in the same period.

Contrariwise, the "group of potential adversary and competitor states has gone from claiming a 42 % share to just 16 % in 2006.

"Had Ronald Reagan -" who is generally regarded a hawkish president -" wanted to achieve in the 1980s the ratio between US and adversary spending that existed in 2006, he would have had to quadruple his defense budgets.

"And, of course, since 2006, the US defense budget has not receded, but instead grown by another 20% in real terms.

"By 2011, the United States will probably account for more than half of all global military spending calculated in terms of 'purchasing power parity' (which corrects for differences between national economies)." [6]

The defense authorization bill passed on December 22, despite its monumental and unprecedented size, has been routinely described in the American press as stripped-down, scaled-down and pared-down because an arms manufacturer or two, their lobbyists and obedient congresspersons didn't get every new defense contract and weapons project they desired three days before Christmas.

The December 22 vote in the House was, as Associated Press accurately described it, conducted without debate or discussion - and "without major restrictions on the conduct of operations" - particularly in regards to the $158.7 billion for the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, $75 million to train and equip the armed forces of Yemen for the counterinsurgency campaign in that country and $205 million more to fund Israel's Iron Dome missile shield.

Regarding the first vote on December 17: "This year's bill is mostly noteworthy for its broad bipartisan support during wartime....Unlike during the height of the Iraq War when anti-war Democrats tried to use the legislation to force troops home, the House passed the defense bill Friday with almost no debate on Afghanistan." [7]

Aside from voting for the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy as a stand-alone measure, excising an amendment to allow abortions to be performed on military bases, and refusing reparations to victims of the World War Two Japanese occupation of the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam (apparently $100 million for the purpose was considered excessive in the $725 billion authorization), there was no meaningful dissent in either house of Congress.

Increasing the U.S. war budget to the highest level it's been since the largest and deadliest war in history while no nation or group of nations poses a serious threat to the country, and to a degree where it effectively exceeds the defense spending of the rest of the world combined, is all in the proper order of things for the world's sole military superpower.

1) Center for Defense Information
2) Christian Science Monitor, March 29, 2010
3) Christian Science Monitor, June 28, 2010
4) Ibid
5) Robert Higgs, Defense Spending Is Much Greater than You Think
The Independent Institute, April 17, 2010
6) Carl Conetta, Trillions to Burn? A Quick Guide to the Surge in Pentagon
Project on Defense Alternatives, February 5 2010
7) Associated Press, December 17, 2010


12) The Data and the Reality
December 27, 2010

I keep hearing from the data zealots that holiday sales were impressive and the outlook for the economy in 2011 is not bad.

Maybe they've stumbled onto something in their windowless rooms. Maybe the economy really is gathering steam. But in the rough and tumble of the real world, where families have to feed themselves and pay their bills, there are an awful lot of Americans being left behind.

A continuing national survey of workers who lost their jobs during the Great Recession, conducted by two professors at Rutgers University, offers anything but a rosy view of the economic prospects for ordinary Americans. It paints, instead, a portrait filled with gloom.

More than 15 million Americans are officially classified as jobless. The professors, at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, have been following their representative sample of workers since the summer of 2009. The report on their latest survey, just out this month, is titled: "The Shattered American Dream: Unemployed Workers Lose Ground, Hope, and Faith in Their Futures."

Over the 15 months that the surveys have been conducted, just one-quarter of the workers have found full-time jobs, nearly all of them for less pay and with fewer or no benefits. "For those who remain unemployed," the report says, "the cupboard has long been bare."

These were not the folks being coldly and precisely monitored, classified and quantified as they made their way to the malls to kick-start the economy. These were among the many millions of Americans who spent the holidays hurting.

As the report states: "The recession has been a cataclysm that will have an enduring effect. It is hard to overstate the dire shape of the unemployed."

Nearly two-thirds of the unemployed workers who were surveyed have been out of work for a year or more. More than a third have been jobless for two years. With their savings exhausted, many have borrowed money from relatives or friends, sold possessions to make ends meet and decided against medical examinations or treatments they previously would have considered essential.

Older workers who are jobless are caught in a particularly precarious state of affairs. As the report put it:

"We are witnessing the birth of a new class - the involuntarily retired. Many of those over age 50 believe they will not work again at a full-time 'real' job commensurate with their education and training. More than one-quarter say they expect to retire earlier than they want, which has long-term consequences for themselves and society. Many will file for Social Security as soon as they are eligible, despite the fact that they would receive greater benefits if they were able to delay retiring for a few years."

There is a fundamental disconnect between economic indicators pointing in a positive direction and the experience of millions of American families fighting desperately to fend off destitution. Some three out of every four Americans have been personally touched by the recession - either they've lost a job or a relative or close friend has. And the outlook, despite the spin being put on the latest data, is not promising.

No one is forecasting a substantial reduction in unemployment rates next year. And, as Motoko Rich reported in The Times this month, temporary workers accounted for 80 percent of the 50,000 jobs added by private sector employers in November.

Carl Van Horn, the director of the Heldrich Center and one of the two professors (the other is Cliff Zukin) conducting the survey, said he was struck by how pessimistic some of the respondents have become - not just about their own situation but about the nation's future. The survey found that workers in general are increasingly accepting the notion that the effects of the recession will be permanent, that they are the result of fundamental changes in the national economy.

"They're losing the idea that if you are determined and work hard, you can get ahead," said Dr. Van Horn. "They're losing that sense of optimism. They don't think that they or their children are going to fare particularly well."

The fact that so many Americans are out of work, or working at jobs that don't pay well, undermines the prospects for a robust recovery. Jobless people don't buy a lot of flat-screen TVs. What we're really seeing is an erosion of standards of living for an enormous portion of the population, including a substantial segment of the once solid middle class.

Not only is this not being addressed, but the self-serving, rightward lurch in Washington is all but guaranteed to make matters worse for working people. The zealots reading the economic tea leaves see brighter days ahead. They can afford to be sanguine. They're working.


13) Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies and, Along With it, Reason and Justice
by: Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., t r u t h o u t | News Analysis
Tuesday 28 December 2010

While much condemnation has rightly been expressed toward Arizona's anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, a less-reported and potentially more sinister measure is set to take effect on January 1, 2011. This new law, which was passed by the conservative state legislature at the behest of then-School Superintendent (and now Attorney General-elect) Tom Horne, is designated HB 2281 and is colloquially referred to as a measure to ban ethnic studies programs in the state. As with SB 1070, the implications of this law are problematic, wide-ranging and decidedly hate filled.

Whereas SB 1070 focused primarily on the ostensible control of bodies, HB 2281 is predominantly about controlling minds. In this sense, it is the software counterpart of Arizona's race-based politicking, paired with the hardware embodied in SB 1070's "show us your papers" logic of "attrition through enforcement," which has already resulted in tens of thousands of people leaving the state. With HB 2281, the intention is not so much to expel or harass as it is to inculcate a deep-seated, second-class status by denying people the right to explore their own histories and cultures. It is, in effect, about the eradication of ethnic identity among young people in the state's already-floundering school system, which now ranks near the bottom in the nation.

There's a word for what Arizona is attempting to do here: ethnocide. It is similar to genocide in its scope, but it reflects the notion that it is an ethnic and/or cultural identity under assault more so than physical bodies themselves. By imposing a curriculum that forbids the exploration of divergent cultures while propping up the dominant one, there's another process at work here, what we might call ethnonormativity. This takes the teachings of one culture - the colonizer's - and makes it the standard version of history while literally banning other accounts, turning the master narrative into the "normal" one, and further denigrating marginalized perspectives. America's racialized past abounds with such examples of oppressed people being denied their languages, histories and cultures, including through enforced indoctrination in school systems.

As if to add insult to injury, HB 2281 barely makes a pretense to hide any of this in its language and intended scope. A close reading of the law lays bare some of the more stark and sinister aspects of its potential application in a state where Hispanic students fill nearly half the seats in the public schools (the domain to which HB 2281 will apply). In particular, there are three primary aspects of the law that merit further investigation as contributing factors to the ongoing erasure of ethnic identities and the further marginalization of people of color in Arizona.

First, there is the perverse Declaration of Policy preamble, in which the legislature expresses its intention that pupils "should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals," and likewise, "not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people." The irony here is palpable, since SB 1070 precisely singles out "races or classes of people" in its coded language, requiring police to demand legal papers from anyone who is deemed "reasonably suspicious" of being undocumented - which, in the Southwest, obviously correlates with skin color and ethnic origin. Moreover, HB 2281 itself was aimed specifically at abolishing the Raza studies program in Tucson (as well as all ethnic studies programs statewide), which translates literally to "race" as noted in the working definition adopted by the program at San Francisco State University:

"The term Raza literally means race or colloquially, the people. The term figuratively has reference to the Spanish conquest of the indigenous Indians of Mexico and the resulting mestizaje or the mixed racial and ethnic identity of indigenous, European and African heritage unique to the Americas. In practical usage, the term Raza refers to mestizos or mixed peoples; we have the blood of the conquered and conqueror, indigenous, (i.e., Aztec, Mayan, Olmec, Yaqui, Zapotec and numerous other Native Americans), European, African and Asian. The term Raza was popularized by Mexican educator, Jose Vasconcellos who wrote about La Raza Cosmica to inclusively refer to a new 'race' of people born out of the neo-Columbian New World."

In this sense, we come to perceive the aim of banning ethnic studies as an attempt to single out the histories and cultures of certain people based expressly on race and class. While the Arizona legislature states its intention to prevent resentment and hatred of others, the new law fosters precisely that and, in denying people their histories, further encourages self-hatred as well. Indeed, people kept from knowing where they come from have a difficult time knowing where they are going, creating a self-fulfilling downward spiral that is common where people are categorized and labeled as "other" and/or "lesser" vis-à-vis the dominant norm. As such, we see that HB 2281 actually violates its own provisions by promoting that which it claims to eliminate.

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The second critical aspect concerns the law's main prohibitions against any education programs that (1) "promote the overthrow of the United States government," (2) "promote resentment toward a race or class of people," (3) "are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group" and (4) "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals." The problems here are manifest, starting with the reflexively implicit link to terrorism contained in the first provision - as if to say that ethnic solidarity is somehow akin to attempting to overthrow the government. The third provision is even more problematic in its potential implications, since a plausible argument can be made that the entire mainstream public education curriculum is precisely designed for pupils of a particular ethnic group - namely the dominant, white, Eurocentric group that defines its history and worldview as the "normal" or "standard" ones against which subaltern perspectives are to be judged as deviant and, under HB 2281, banned.

The fourth provision does double duty in prioritizing individualism over group-centric processes, reflecting another deeply-rooted cultural bias and projecting it back as the norm. The libertarian and individualistic foundations of Western culture are viewed as iconic in Arizona, and it is no coincidence that the more communitarian impulses of Raza peoples are denigrated as politically dangerous and pedagogically bereft. Again, the worldview of the oppressor is normalized in its rugged individualism and attempts to break down any movement toward solidarity and unified action among people of the disfavored class. This also expresses contemptuous judgment toward solidarity-based movements grown in the Western world, including the rise of union organizing, anti-globalization and antiwar activism and the mobilizations of people against totalitarianism in the Eastern bloc nations. What the Arizona legislature completely fails to grasp is that individual identity arises out of cultural consciousness - in other words, that it is ethnic solidarity in itself that provides people with the grounding necessary to know who they are as individuals.

Finally, HB 2281 contains an exemption for teaching students about episodes such as the Holocaust; genocides; and "the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on ethnicity, race, or class." In essence, combined with the provisions noted above, this means that students of a particular group can be taught about their history of subjugation, but not about their spirit of solidarity; they can focus on their decimation, but not their emancipation. This sinister portion of the bill strives to reinforce pain at the expense of pride, encouraging young people to internalize the oppression delivered by the dominant culture and make it part of their self-consciousness as "other" in a world whose norms are built on the inherent superiority of the master class. Thus, the law seeks not only to prevent the teaching of histories and values that might empower marginalized people, but further endorses the transmission of destructive episodes and ideologies that can only serve to increase the group's collective disempowerment.

In all of these ways, HB 2281 is a potent example of legislative bigotry and open persecution of people based on factors such as race and class. As with SB 1070, HB 2281 is also self-violating in that it promotes precisely what it claims to prohibit, namely, ethnic chauvinism and "resentment toward a race or class of people." Both of these laws - as well as similar ones in the offing being considered by the Arizona legislature - are entirely counterproductive and manifestly unjust. Confronting similar patterns of legislated intolerance and the widespread attempt to reduce a category of people to second-class status based primarily on ethnic origin, Martin Luther King Jr. famously wrote in his landmark essay "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," following the teachings of St. Augustine, that "an unjust law is no law at all." King further reminds us, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," calling upon us to recognize the interlinked nature of destinies and, indeed, the inherent solidarity of our struggles, and further counsels that in this effort "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."

Carrying the logic further, King articulates a framework for resistance that applies as much in Arizona today as it did in the South during the Jim Crow era:

"Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an 'I it' relationship for an 'I thou' relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful.... An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey, but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal.... A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that ... had no part in enacting or devising the law.... We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was 'legal' and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was 'illegal.'"

By denying marginalized peoples their own stories and understandings, HB 2281 likewise denies the "conquerors" the capacity to come to terms with the full implications of history, thus, literally enabling the perpetuation of a state of "denial" that inhibits the development of necessary processes of atonement, accountability and reconciliation. As with laws associated with segregationist and tyrannical regimes throughout history, HB 2281 and SB 1070 are inherently unjust and, hence, are "no laws at all." They must be disobeyed, not out of spite or hatred, but more so to uplift the oppressors and the oppressed alike, as Paulo Freire has suggested. In this sense, solidarity transcends its narrow bounds and the struggle itself is our finest education.


14)'Doubling Up' in Recession-Strained Quarters
December 28, 2010

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - For the three generations of the Maggi family crowded into a recession-beaten three-bedroom ranch house here, the tension from living on top of one another for the last 10 months sometimes erupts at unexpected moments.

A nudge from Kathy Maggi for her 26-year-old daughter, Holly, to clean her room sparks a blow-up; an offhand comment by Jim Maggi about the way bills come in "month after month" to his daughter's fiancé, James Wilson, causes days of smoldering; a bite of a chocolate bar from Grandma to 21-month-old Madison leads to frustrated chatter behind closed doors about "Nana" and "Pawpaw" spoiling her.

In February, after being evicted from their Gainesville apartment, Holly, James, Madison and their good-natured pit bull, Caley, moved into a cramped bedroom in the house where Holly grew up. Neither of Madison's parents had been able to find work for more than a year.

Of the myriad ways the Great Recession has altered the country's social fabric, the surge in households like the Maggis', where relatives and friends have moved in together as a last resort, is one of the most concrete, yet underexplored, demographic shifts.

Census Bureau data released in September showed that the number of multifamily households jumped 11.7 percent from 2008 to 2010, reaching 15.5 million, or 13.2 percent of all households. It is the highest proportion since at least 1968, accounting for 54 million people.

Even that figure, however, is undoubtedly an undercount of the phenomenon social service providers call "doubling up," which has ballooned in the recession and anemic recovery. The census' multifamily household figures, for example, do not include such situations as when a single brother and a single sister move in together, or when a childless adult goes to live with his or her parents.

For many, the arrangements represent their last best option, the only way to stave off entering a homeless shelter or sleeping in their cars. In fact, nearly half of the people in shelters in 2009 who had not previously been homeless had been staying with family members or friends, according to a recent report, making clear that the arrangements are frequently a final way station on the way to homelessness.

A New York Times analysis of census "microdata," prepared by the University of Minnesota's state population center, found that the average income of multifamily households in the records fell by more than 5 percent from 2009 to 2010, twice as much as households over all, suggesting that many who are living in such arrangements are under financial siege.

Holly's parents had been enduring their own financial struggles. Mr. Maggi, 58, lost his job as a high-end furniture maker in early 2009. Complicating matters, he and his wife had allowed Holly's older sister, her husband and their two children to move in with them after they lost their home to foreclosure in 2008. They finally scraped together the money to move out just a week before Holly arrived with her family.

"I was just thinking, 'Is it ever going to end?' " Mr. Maggi said. "I thought I was done raising my kids."

Nevertheless, the Maggis said there was never any question about their taking in Holly and her young family.

"She didn't have any other options," said Kathy Maggi, 53, who has not worked for several years because of health problems. "It was here or on the streets."

Back in Gainesville, Holly Maggi had worked as a manager at a self-storage facility before being laid off in 2007. She eventually took a job at a Häagen-Dazs, only to lose that as well. Mr. Wilson's job as a flooring contractor sustained them, until that work also dried up in early 2009.

As their money dwindled, Ms. Maggi and Mr. Wilson looked into shelters but discovered they would not be able to stay together as a family. It took Ms. Maggi a week to muster up the courage to ask her parents.

"It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do," said Ms. Maggi, who has lived on her own since she was 18, working for most of that time and putting herself through community college.

The young couple, however, have come to regret their decision, even as they concede they had no other choice.

"I liked her family when we weren't here," said Mr. Wilson, who has struggled to mesh his more reserved personality with the garrulousness of Ms. Maggi's family. "Now that we're here, I don't like them. I feel bad about it. I don't think it's their problem, or something that can be helped. It is what it is."

The stresses can be as trifling as having to worry when getting up at night to use the toilet, which Mr. Wilson said he fretted about all the time because the elder Maggis' bedroom is next to the bathroom. Or they can be more serious, like how Mr. Wilson and Ms. Maggi feel their parental decisions are being constantly undermined by her parents.

Several months ago, Holly Maggi finally landed a part-time job, paying minimum wage, as a cashier at Harvest Food & Outreach Center here, which offers discounted groceries, classes and other services to the needy. (The center's client base has grown tenfold this year in St. Lucie County, where the unemployment rate was 15.2 percent in November.)

With Ms. Maggi at work, Mr. Wilson, 26, has been left to fend for himself at home with their daughter and Ms. Maggi's parents. Over time, Kathy Maggi's regular chirping about how to deal with Madison and her sometimes-differing approach - she prefers, for example, not to let her granddaughter cry, even though Mr. Wilson and Holly Maggi sometimes think she needs to - has rankled Mr. Wilson. "I don't think she feels Madison is safe when she's with me," he said.

After Holly comes home from work, the couple spend most of their time in their bedroom, with Madison dashing in and out. Most of their possessions, including a 75-gallon fish tank with two giant South American cichlids and a South American catfish, occupy a second bedroom. Even though three-quarters of the space in their room is taken up by a king-size mattress, it has become their refuge. "This is the only place we feel we have that's really ours," Holly Maggi said.

The family's time together has not been without its joys. It has enabled Madison's grandparents to witness her first steps and first words, her transformation from infant to toddler. But the financial burdens shadow everything.

The sharing of expenses is a touchy subject. Holly's food stamps cover groceries, but she and Mr. Wilson only occasionally pitch in on other bills because they have been focused on paying off creditors, as well as friends and relatives who have lent them money. Her parents have dropped hints but hold back. "That's her money," Kathy Maggi said. "I can't say, 'Holly, give me your paycheck for the bills.' I can't do that."

The young couple's relationship has suffered. Arguments are more frequent. Their sex life, they say, is basically nonexistent. Every night, with her parents in the next room, Mr. Wilson and Ms. Maggi discuss in hushed tones how and when they might be able to move out. Their hopes were buoyed recently when she was promoted and got a small raise.

The new dilemma, however, is that Jim Maggi's unemployment benefits are scheduled to run out soon, which would leave the elder Maggis with no income and their savings exhausted. Mr. Maggi declared recently they needed to have a family meeting.

The predicament has left Holly Maggi feeling torn. She wants to leave, maybe even needs to, but she also does not want to abandon her parents. Soon, she will have to make a decision.

Griff Palmer contributed reporting from New York.


15) Home Foreclosures Jump In 3rd Quarter: Regulators
December 29, 2010

Filed at 1:02 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. home foreclosures jumped in the third quarter and banks' efforts to keep borrowers in their homes dropped as the housing market continues to struggle, U.S. bank regulators said on Wednesday.

The regulators said one reason for the increase in foreclosures is that banks have "exhausted" options for keeping many delinquent borrowers in their homes through programs such as loan modifications.

Newly-initiated foreclosures increased to 382,000 in the third quarter, a 31.2 percent jump over the previous quarter and a 3.7 percent rise from the same quarter a year ago, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) said in a quarterly mortgage report.

The number of foreclosures in process increased to 1.2 million, a 4.5 percent increase from the second quarter and a 10.1 percent increase from a year ago, according to the regulators.

They said during a briefing that the numbers could send "mixed signals" about the health of the U.S. housing market.

Regulators also said a possible reason for the foreclosure uptick in the quarter was that a large pool of borrowers who were being considered for home retention programs but did not qualify moved through the system.

"I think you'll see more stabilization now," said Bruce Krueger, a mortgage official at the OCC.

Foreclosures have become a hot political topic and mortgage servicers have come under fire in recent months amid accusations they did not properly review documents before attempting to take borrowers' homes.

These concerns prompted the country's 50 state attorneys general to coordinate an investigation of lenders such as Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Ally Financial's GMAC unit.

Some banks, including BofA, temporarily suspended foreclosure proceedings late in the third quarter to review procedures.

Officials from the OCC and OTS declined to say what type of impact this might have on fourth-quarter foreclosure numbers.


State attorneys general and regulators have been pushing banks to perform more loan modifications and the report shows these efforts have had mixed results.

Overall home retention actions taken by banks dropped by 17 percent compared to the second quarter, but most of that was due to decreases in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), the Obama administration's leading foreclosure prevention effort.

In the third quarter, HAMP loan modifications slid by almost 46 percent, according to the report.

Regulators said the drop in HAMP modifications is likely due to a few factors, including that a large pool of borrowers who were being considered for the program turned out not to be eligible once their qualifications were fully reviewed.

Treasury launched HAMP to try to find a way to reduce mortgage payments for struggling homeowners who wanted to keep their homes but who were at imminent risk of foreclosure.

But it is widely regarded as a flawed program, and the incoming Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representative Darrell Issa, has called for it to be ended.

Regulators pointed out that mortgage servicers are pursuing more modifications outside of HAMP and such efforts increased by 10 percent in the third quarter.

The report, which covers 33 million loans serviced by national banks and federally regulated thrifts, shows that the amount of borrowers making their mortgage payments on time remains steady at 87.4 percent.

The amount of seriously delinquent loans, those 60 days or more past due, dropped 6.4 percent from the second quarter. The amount of loans that were 30 to 59 days past due, however, increased 4.3 percent.


16) Hunger strike of the Lucasville Uprising prisoners - starting Monday, Jan. 3
Posted on December 25, 2010 by denverabc

Dear family members, friends and supporters of the Lucasville uprising prisoners,

Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar), Jason Robb and Namir Mateen (James Were) will start a hunger strike on Monday Jan. 3 to protest their 23-hour a day lock down for nearly 18 years. These four death-sentenced prisoners have been single-celled (in solitary) in conditions of confinement significantly more severe than the conditions experienced by the approximately 125 other death-sentenced prisoners at the supermax prison, Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. They are completely isolated from any direct human contact, even during "recreation". They are restricted from certain kinds of good ordering including gold weather items for the almost unbearably cold condtions in the cells. They are denied access to computer databases they need in order to prepare their appeals. It has been made clear to them that the outcome of their annual "security level reviews" is pretermined, as one reads, "...regardless of your behavior while confined at OSP."
Prisoners whose death sentences were for heinous crimes are able to win privileges based on good behavior, but not the death-sentenced Lucasville uprising prisoners.

Meanwhile out in the world, the U.S. Supreme Court has granted additional due process rights to some of the Gauantanamo prisoners, some death-sentenced prisoners have been exonerated or had their sentences commuted, an evidentiary hearing was ordered for Troy Anthony Davis, and prisoners in Georgia are engaging in a non-violent strike for improvements in a wide range of conditions. So the four death-sentenced Lucasville uprising prinsoners have decided that being punished by the worst conditions allowable under the law has gone far enough, especially since their convictions were based on perjured testimony. They are innocent! They were wrongfully convicted! They are political prisoners. This farce has gone on far too long and their executions loom in the not too distant future. These brave men are ready to take another stand. We ask that you get ready to support them.

The hunger strike will proceed in an organized manner, with one prisoner, probably Bomani Shakur starting on Jan.3. The hunger strike becomes official after he has refused 9 meals. Therefore the plan is that 3 days later, Siddiquie Abdullah Hasan will start his hunger strike and 3 days later, Jason Robb will follow. Namir Mateen has a great willingness to participate and plans to take part to the extent that his diabetes will allow.

On the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Saturday, Jan. 15, we will be holding a press conference about the hunger strike and other issues pertaining to Ohio State Penitentiary. Details of time and location are being worked out. There will very likely be a brief rally near the gates of OSP, as we have in previous years to honor Dr. King, to protest the death penalty and to protest the farce of the Lucasville uprising convictions. There will probably be one or more vans and/or a car caravan to OSP for the event. Stay tuned for more information.

Please forward this email to other people you think would be interested, here in Ohio, around the country and around the world.

the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network


17) Mississippi: Kidney Is the Cost of Freedom
December 29, 2010

For 16 years, sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott have shared a life behind bars for their part in an $11 armed robbery. To share freedom, they must also share a kidney. Gov. Haley Barbour suspended the sisters' life sentences on Wednesday, but 36-year-old Gladys Scott's release is contingent on her giving a kidney to Jamie, 38, who requires daily dialysis. The sisters were convicted in 1994 of leading two men into an ambush in central Mississippi the year before. Civil rights advocates have for years called for their release, saying the sentences were excessive.


18) For Two Sisters, the End of an Ordeal
December 31, 2010

I got a call on New Year's Eve from Gladys Scott, which was a terrific way for 2010 to end.

As insane as it may seem, Gladys and her sister, Jamie, are each serving consecutive life sentences in a state prison in Mississippi for their alleged role in a robbery in 1993 in which no one was hurt and $11 supposedly was taken.

Gladys was on the phone, excited and relieved, because Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi had agreed to suspend the prison terms.

"I've waited so long for this day to come," she said.

I was happy for the Scott sisters and deeply moved as Gladys spoke of how desperately she wanted to "just hold" her two children and her mother, who live in Florida. But I couldn't help thinking that right up until the present moment she and Jamie have been treated coldly and disrespectfully by the governor and other state officials. It's as if the authorities have found it impossible to hide their disdain, their contempt, for the two women.

The prison terms were suspended - not commuted - on the condition that Gladys donate a kidney to Jamie, who is seriously ill with diabetes and high blood pressure and receives dialysis at least three times a week. Gladys had long expressed a desire to donate a kidney to her sister, but to make that a condition of her release was unnecessary, mean-spirited, inhumane and potentially coercive. It was a low thing to do.

Governor Barbour did not offer any expression of concern for Jamie's health in his statement announcing the sentence suspension.

He said of the sisters: "Their incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety or rehabilitation, and Jamie Scott's medical condition creates a substantial cost to the state of Mississippi."

By all means, get those medical costs off the books if you can.

I asked Gladys how she had learned that she was to be released. "Oh, I saw it while I was looking at the news on television," she said.

The authorities hadn't bothered to even tell the sisters. After all, who are they? As Gladys put it, "Nobody told me a thing."

I asked if she had seen Jamie, who is in another section of the prison, since the governor's decision had been announced. She said no one had tried to get the two of them together for even a telephone conversation.

"I haven't seen her or heard from her," Gladys said. "I want to see her. I want to see how she's doing and take care of her."

I am not surprised at Governor Barbour's behavior. He's not the first person who comes to mind when I think of admirable public officials. The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., noted that the governor had been on the radio this week asserting that there was hardly anyone in prison who didn't deserve to be there. It's an interesting comment from a governor who has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to free prisoners convicted of the most heinous crimes.

The Jackson Free Press, an alternative weekly, and Slate magazine have noted that Mr. Barbour has pardoned four killers and suspended the life sentence of a fifth. So cold-blooded murder is no reason, in Mr. Barbour's view, to keep the prison doors closed.

This is also a governor who said recently, while reminiscing about the civil rights struggle and the treatment of blacks in his hometown of Yazoo City, Miss., in the 1960s: "I just don't remember it being that bad." The comment was in an article in The Weekly Standard in which the governor managed to find some complimentary things to say about the rabidly racist White Citizens Councils.

Faced with heavy and widespread criticism, he later pulled back on the comments, describing the era as "difficult and painful" and the councils as "indefensible."

The only reason the Scott sisters have gotten any relief at all is because of an extraordinary network of supporters who campaigned relentlessly over several years on their behalf. Ben Jealous, the president of the N.A.A.C.P., emerged as one of the leaders of the network. The concerted effort finally paid off.

Gladys Scott said her 16 years in prison have been extremely difficult and that she had gotten depressed from time to time but had not given up hope. "It was a very bad experience, " she said.

What is likely to get lost in the story of the Scott sisters finally being freed is just how hideous and how outlandish their experience really was. How can it be possible for individuals with no prior criminal record to be sentenced to two consecutive life terms for a crime in which no one was hurt and $11 was taken? Who had it in for them, and why was that allowed to happen?

The Scott sisters may go free, but they will never receive justice.


19) Palestinian Dies After Israelis Use Tear Gas
January 1, 2011

JERUSALEM - A Palestinian woman, 36, died on Saturday in hospital after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli forces a day earlier at a protest against Israel's separation barrier in a West Bank village.

The director of the hospital, Dr. Muhammad Aideh, said she had arrived on Friday afternoon suffering from asphyxiation and had died despite hours of treatment, but did not specifically cite tear gas inhalation as the cause. Activists said she died from poisoning from the gas. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, sent condolences to the family from Brazil, where he is visiting, and condemned what he called the Israeli military's latest "crime," according to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa. Relations between the Palestinian and Israeli leadership have grown tense since the breakdown of peace talks last September.

The woman, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, was the sister of Bassem Abu Rahmah, a well-known activist in the village, Bilin, who died during a similar protest in 2009 after being struck in the chest by a high-velocity tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces.

Local Palestinians, bolstered by international and Israeli supporters, have held weekly protests against Israel's separation barrier at Bilin for the past five years, turning the village into a symbol of Palestinian defiance. . Other villages along the barrier route have since joined the protest movement.

Friday's demonstration at Bilin was billed as a particularly large one to mark the end of 2010. Hundreds of protesters converged near the barrier, although the Israeli military had declared it a closed military zone, and activists said they managed to cut through the wire fence that makes up the barrier in this area in three places.

The Palestinians say the protests are meant to be nonviolent, but they inevitably end in clashes, with young Palestinians hurling stones and the Israeli security forces firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.

The Palestinian leadership has held Bilin up as a model of legitimate resistance against Israeli occupation. Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, attended the protest on Friday.

Israel started building the barrier in 2002, saying it was necessary to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching Israeli cities. But the barrier slices through West Bank land in many parts, making large areas inaccessible to local Palestinians, who accuse Israel of a land grab.

Israel's Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the barrier at Bilin should be rerouted to take in less of the village's agricultural land. That work has still not been completed.

Khaled Abu Aker contributed reporting from Ramallah.


20) Public Workers Facing Outrage as Budget Crises Grow
[Pitting worker against worker and not a word about the private accumulation of obscene profits by the ruling]
January 1, 2011

FLEMINGTON, N.J. - Ever since Marie Corfield's confrontation with Gov. Chris Christie this fall over the state's education cuts became a YouTube classic, she has received a stream of vituperative e-mails and Facebook postings.

"People I don't even know are calling me horrible names," said Ms. Corfield, an art teacher who had pleaded the case of struggling teachers. "The mantra is that the problem is the unions, the unions, the unions."

Across the nation, a rising irritation with public employee unions is palpable, as a wounded economy has blown gaping holes in state, city and town budgets, and revealed that some public pension funds dangle perilously close to bankruptcy. In California, New York, Michigan and New Jersey, states where public unions wield much power and the culture historically tends to be pro-labor, even longtime liberal political leaders have demanded concessions - wage freezes, benefit cuts and tougher work rules.

It is an angry conversation. Union chiefs, who sometimes persuaded members to take pension sweeteners in lieu of raises, are loath to surrender ground. Taxpayers are split between those who want cuts and those who hope that rising tax receipts might bring easier choices.

And a growing cadre of political leaders and municipal finance experts argue that much of the edifice of municipal and state finance is jury-rigged and, without new revenue, perhaps unsustainable. Too many political leaders, they argue, acted too irresponsibly, failing to either raise taxes or cut spending.

A brutal reckoning awaits, they say.

These battles play out in many corners, but few are more passionate than in New Jersey, where politics tend toward the moderately liberal and nearly 20 percent of the work force is unionized (compared with less than 14 percent nationally). From tony horse-country towns to middle-class suburbs to hard-edged cities, property tax and unemployment rates are high, and budgets are pools of red ink.

A new regime in state politics is venting frustration less at Goldman Sachs executives (Governor Christie vetoed a proposed "millionaire's tax" this year) than at unions. Newark recently laid off police officers after they refused to accept cuts, and Camden has threatened to lay off half of its officers in January.

Fred Siegel, a historian at the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute, has written of the "New Tammany Hall," which he describes as the incestuous alliance between public officials and labor.

"Public unions have had no natural adversary; they give politicians political support and get good contracts back," Mr. Siegel said. "It's uniquely dysfunctional."

Even if that is so, this battle comes woven with complications. Across the nation in the last two years, public workers have experienced furloughs and pay cuts. Local governments shed 212,000 jobs last year.

A raft of recent studies found that public salaries, even with benefits included, are equivalent to or lag slightly behind those of private sector workers. The Manhattan Institute, which is not terribly sympathetic to unions, studied New Jersey and concluded that teachers earned wages roughly comparable to people in the private sector with a similar education.

Benefits tend to be the sorest point. From Illinois to New Jersey, politicians have refused to pay into pension funds, creating deeper and deeper shortfalls.

In California, pension costs now crowd out spending for parks, public schools and state universities; in Illinois, spiraling pension costs threaten the state with insolvency.

And taxpayer resentment simmers.

Trouble in New Jersey

To venture into Washington Township in southern New Jersey is to walk the frayed line between taxpayer and public employees, and to hear anger and ambivalence. So many Philadelphians have flocked here over the years that locals call it "South Philly with grass."

These expatriates tend to be Democrats and union members, or sons and daughters of the same. But property taxes are rising fast, and voters favored Governor Christie, a Republican. Bill Rahl, a graying plug of a retiree, squints and holds his hand against his throat. "I'm up to here with taxes, I can't breathe, O.K.?" he says. "I don't know about asking anyone to give up a pension. Just don't ask for no more."

Governor Christie faced a vast deficit when he took office last January, and much of the federal stimulus aid for schools was exhausted by June. So he cut deeply into state aid for education; Washington Township lost $900,000. That forced the town to rely principally on property taxes. (Few states lean as heavily on property taxes to finance education; New Jersey ranks 45th in state aid to education.) The town turned its construction office over to a private contractor and shed a few employees.

Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty, a liberal Democrat, served four years as mayor of Washington Township. As the bill for pension and health benefits for town employees soared, he struggled to explain this to constituents.

"We really should not receive benefits any better than the people we serve," he says. "It leads to a lot of resentment against public employees."

All of which sounds logical, except that, as Mr. Moriarty also acknowledges, such thinking also "leads to a race to the bottom." That is, as businesses cut private sector benefits, pressure grows on government to cut pay and benefits for its employees.

Robert Master, political director for the Communication Workers of America District 1, which represents 40,000 state workers, speaks to that difficulty.

"The subtext of Christie's message to a lot of people is that 'you're paying for benefits you'll never have,' " he says. "Our challenge is how to defend middle-class health and retirement security, not just for our members but for all working families, when over the past 30 years retirement and health care in the private sector have been essentially demolished."

This said, some union officials privately say that the teachers' union, in its battle against cuts to salaries and benefits, misread Mr. Christie and the public temperament. Better to endorse a wage freeze, they say, than to argue that teachers should be held harmless against the economic storm.

In the past, union leaders, too, have proven adept at winning gains not just at the bargaining table. In 2000, union lobbyists persuaded legislators to cut five years off the retirement age for police and firefighters - a move criticized as a budget-buster by a state pension commission. The next year, the budget still was flush and union leaders persuaded the Republican dominated legislature to approve a 9 percent increase in pension benefits. (The legislators added a sweetener for their own pensions.)

Those labor leaders, however, proved less successful in persuading their legislative allies to pay for such benefits. For much of the last two decades, New Jersey has shortchanged its pension contribution.

Governor Christie talked about tough choices this past year - then skipped the state's required $3.1 billion payment. Now New Jersey has a $53.9 billion unfunded pension liability.

A recent Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll found a narrow plurality of respondents in the state in favor of ditching the pensions for a 401(k)-type program. Public pensions, however, run the gamut, from modest (the average local government pensioner makes less than $20,000 a year while teachers draw about $46,000) to the gilded variety for police and firefighters, some of whom collect six figures. And then there's the political class, which has made an art form of pension collection.

Some politicians draw multiple pensions as county legislators, called freeholders, and as prosecutors or union leaders. Back in Washington Township, people tend to talk of state government as a casino with fixed craps tables.

A white-haired retired undercover police officer, whose wrap-around shades match his black Harley-Davidson jacket, pauses outside the Washington Township municipal building to consider the many targets. He did not want to give his name.

"Christie has all the good intentions in the world but has he hit the right people?" he says. "I understand pulling in belts, but you talking about janitors and cops, or the free-loading freeholder?"

Good Jobs, at What Cost?

So how much is too much? On their face, New Jersey's public salaries are not exorbitant. The state has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the country, and the average teacher makes $66,597, which even with benefits is on par with or slightly behind similarly educated private sector workers, according to Jeffrey H. Keefe, a Rutgers professor who studied the issue for the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

Mr. Keefe, however, uncovered some intriguing class splits. Blue-collar public workers make more money than their private sector counterparts. For such jobs, public unions have established a higher wage floor.

The sense that public workers enjoy certain advantages is not a mirage. Public employees pay into their pension funds, but health benefits often come at a fraction of the cost of most private sector packages.

Government employment also tends to be more secure. When the economy crashed, federal stimulus dollars safeguarded many public jobs. The alternative, many economists point out, was to force towns and cities into extensive layoffs, even as unemployment hovered around 10 percent and millions of Americans sought help from public agencies.

But it accentuated the perception that public workers, however tenuously, inhabited a protected class. That's a tough sell in Washington Township.

Ask Michael Tini, 54, who works as a card dealer in Atlantic City, about teacher salaries and benefits and he taps his head, not unsympathetically.

"Look, I understand that teachers are the brains of the operation, O.K.? But my hours are cut, and my taxes are killing me."

He taps his head again. "They have got to take it in the ear, too."


21) Several Warnings, Then a Soldier's Lonely Death
January 1, 2011

WASHINGTON - A gentle snow fell on the funeral of Staff Sgt. David Senft at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 16, when his bitterly divided California family came together to say goodbye. His 5-year-old son received a flag from a grateful nation.

But that brief moment of peace could not hide the fact that for his family and friends and the soldiers who had served with him in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, too many unanswered questions remained about Sergeant Senft's lonely death in a parked sport utility vehicle on an American air base in Afghanistan, and about whether the Army could have done more to prevent it.

Officially, the Army says only that Sergeant Senft, 27, a crew chief on a Black Hawk helicopter in the 101st Airborne Division's aviation brigade, was killed as a result of "injuries sustained in a noncombat related incident" at Kandahar Air Base on Nov. 15. No specific cause of death has been announced. Army officials say three separate inquiries into the death are under way.

But his father, also named David Senft, an electrician from Grass Valley, Calif., who had worked in Afghanistan for a military contractor, is convinced that his son committed suicide, as are many of his friends and family members and the soldiers who served with him.

The evidence appears overwhelming. An investigator for the Army's Criminal Investigative Division, which has been looking into the death, has told Sergeant Senft's father by e-mail that his son was found dead with a single bullet hole in his head, a stolen M-4 automatic weapon in his hands and his body slumped over in the S.U.V., which was parked outside the air base's ammunition supply point. By his side was his cellphone, displaying a text message with no time or date stamp, saying only, "I don't know what to say, I'm sorry." (Mr. Senft shared the e-mails from the C.I.D. investigator with The New York Times.)

With Sergeant Senft, the warning signs were blaring.

The Army declared him fit for duty and ordered him to Afghanistan after he had twice attempted suicide at Fort Campbell, Ky., and after he had been sent to a mental institution near the base, the home of the 101st. After his arrival at Kandahar early in 2010 he was so troubled that the Army took away his weapon and forced him into counseling on the air base, according to the e-mails from the Army investigator. But he was assigned a roommate who was fully armed. C.I.D. investigators have identified the M-4 with which Sergeant Senft was killed as belonging to his roommate.

"I question why, if he was suicidal and they had to take away his gun, why was he allowed to stay in Afghanistan?" asked Sergeant Senft's father. "Why did they allow him to deploy in the first place, and why did they leave him there?"

Defense Department officials have frequently spoken about how suicide prevention has become a top priority, and in interviews, officials noted that the National Institute of Mental Health was now leading a major study of Army suicides.

Ever since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, suicides among American troops have been soaring, as military personnel become mentally exhausted and traumatized from repeated deployments to combat zones. In 2004, the Army reported that 67 soldiers on active duty committed suicide; by 2009 that number had jumped to 162. The Army has reported 144 suicides in 2010 through November, and officials say it is now beginning to see a sharp rise in suicides among nonactive duty National Guard and Reserve personnel who are not currently deployed.

It is unclear how much the Army knew of Sergeant Senft's deterioration. But Col. Chris Philbrick, deputy director of the Army's health promotion and risk reduction task force, which handles suicide prevention programs, said that a medical determination of cause of death, a law enforcement review of the matter by Army investigators, and an internal review of both Sergeant Senft's personnel history and the handling of his case by his chain of command were all continuing.

"We are trying to get answers to these questions, answers to many of the same questions that the family is raising," said Colonel Philbrick, who has personally reviewed Sergeant Senft's case.

Interviews with friends and family members suggest that for Sergeant Senft, prolonged exposure to two wars may have been too much to bear for a friendly and sweet, but emotionally fragile young man filled with insecurities resulting from a badly splintered family life.

His parents divorced when he was about 3 years old, and the rift between his father and mother never healed. Home life for David and his brother and sister became intertwined with a series of stepparents and divided families around Northern California. David's younger brother, Andrew, is now in prison in California for armed robbery.

The first signs of trouble for David Senft came when he was 18 or 19 and living with a stepmother who had divorced his father and remarried. He ran away and threatened to kill himself, recalled his stepmother, Tina Norvell. Her husband, Steve Norvell, found him and took him home.

David Senft joined the Army in early 2002, just months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

After basic training, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C., and in 2003 he was sent to Iraq as a member of a helicopter crew.

His experiences during that first combat deployment had a major impact on him, according to close friends. In one episode that he often recounted to both his family and friends, he told of witnessing the crash of an evacuation helicopter filled with medical personnel and wounded soldiers that had been shot down by insurgents. He and his Black Hawk crew were ordered to the crash site, and the gruesome scene haunted him.

"He changed after he went to Iraq the first time," recalled Ana Ochoa, one of his closest friends.

After returning to Fort Bragg in 2004, David Senft confided in another soldier, Lynette Hager, that he wanted to kill himself.

"I reported it to the chain of command," recalled Ms. Hager, who has since left the Army. "When you come back from a deployment, they have briefings and make you watch PowerPoints, but if you need help, you have to go get it yourself."

Ms. Hager and David Senft later began dating, and in 2005 she gave birth to their son, Landon. She said that during a fight over child support payments, he threatened to kill himself rather than make further payments and that because of the suicide threat, the court ordered that he be allowed only supervised visitation rights with their son. "He was a really good guy, fun, nice, and he loved being in the military," Ms. Hager said. "But he didn't have the coping skills to get out of his depressive states."

In 2007, he was deployed again with the 82nd Airborne Division, this time to Afghanistan. After his return, he transferred to the 101st Airborne Division and re-enlisted in the Army.

"I told him not to re-enlist; I told him to get out, his personality was changing. I told him, 'You are making me uncomfortable,' " Ms. Ochoa said. "After each deployment he seemed to get needier, sadder, and he would be talking deeper."

While at Fort Campbell in 2008, he attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. The pills only knocked him out for two or three days, and when he awoke in his apartment, he called friends, who urged him to get help. He agreed to be admitted to a mental hospital in Hopkinsville, Ky. He told Ms. Ochoa that he had tried to kill himself twice while at Fort Campbell. "He was depressed," she said. "He said he had seen a lot of crazy stuff and seen a lot of friends die, and he was unhappy; he had a lot of failed relationships."

His suicide attempts and hospitalization finally got the attention of the Army, which kept him back from a scheduled deployment to Iraq. Instead, he was given a desk job at Fort Campbell. "I remember he told me he had tried to kill himself and had been taken off the deployment roster for Iraq," recalled Matt Davis, who served with Sergeant Senft in the 82nd Airborne Division.

But he could not get out of his unit's next scheduled deployment, to Afghanistan in early 2010. Colonel Philbrick said that he could not answer why Sergeant Senft was allowed to deploy to Afghanistan after he had been held back from Iraq after his suicide attempt.

He apparently did well for the first few months of the Afghan deployment, because he went home on leave in July and, without telling many friends and relatives, quietly married another soldier he had recently met.

But his mental state seemed to worsen again after his return to Afghanistan, and his commanders took action. He was placed in regular counseling in Kandahar, apparently for the first time in his military career, and met regularly with an Army chaplain on the base. His weapon was taken from him several months before his death, according to the e-mails from the Army investigator.

On the morning of Nov. 15, Sergeant Senft's roommate woke to find his weapon missing. After Sergeant Senft failed to show up for duty that morning, another member of his unit discovered his body.

Ms. Ochoa said: "As soon as I heard he was dead, I just said to myself, he did it. He did it."


22) Europe's Young Grow Agitated Over Future Prospects
January 1, 2011

LECCE, Italy - Francesca Esposito, 29 and exquisitely educated, helped win millions of euros in false disability and other lawsuits for her employer, a major Italian state agency. But one day last fall she quit, fed up with how surreal and ultimately sad it is to be young in Italy today.

It galled her that even with her competence and fluency in five languages, it was nearly impossible to land a paying job. Working as an unpaid trainee lawyer was bad enough, she thought, but doing it at Italy's social security administration seemed too much. She not only worked for free on behalf of the nation's elderly, who have generally crowded out the young for jobs, but her efforts there did not even apply to her own pension.

"It was absurd," said Ms. Esposito, a strong-willed woman with a healthy sense of outrage.

The outrage of the young has erupted, sometimes violently, on the streets of Greece and Italy in recent weeks, as students and more radical anarchists protest not only specific austerity measures in flattened economies but a rising reality in Southern Europe: People like Ms. Esposito feel increasingly shut out of their own futures. Experts warn of volatility in state finances and the broader society as the most highly educated generation in the history of the Mediterranean hits one of its worst job markets.

Politicians are slowly beginning to take notice. Italy's president, Giorgio Napolitano, devoted his year-end message on Friday to "the pervasive malaise among young people," weeks after protests against budget cuts to the university system brought the issue to the fore.

Giuliano Amato, an economist and former Italian prime minister, was even more blunt. "By now, only a few people refuse to understand that youth protests aren't a protest against the university reform, but against a general situation in which the older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones," he recently told Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest newspaper.

The daughter of a fireman and a high school teacher, Ms. Esposito was the first in her family to graduate from college and the first to study foreign languages. She has an Italian law degree and a master's from Germany and was an intern at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. It has not helped.

"I have every possible certificate," Ms. Esposito said dryly. "I have everything except a death certificate."

Even before the economic crisis hit, Southern Europe was not an easy place to forge a career. Low growth and a corrosive lack of meritocracy have long posed challenges to finding a job in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal. Today, with the added sting of austerity, more people are left fighting over fewer opportunities. It is a zero-sum game that inevitably pits younger workers struggling to enter the labor market against older ones already occupying precious slots.

As a result, a deep malaise has set in among young people. Some take to the streets in protest; others emigrate to Northern Europe or beyond in an epic brain drain of college graduates. But many more suffer in silence, living in their childhood bedrooms well into adulthood because they cannot afford to move out.

"They call us the lost generation," said Coral Herrera Gómez, 33, who has a Ph.D. in humanities but still lives with her parents in Madrid because she cannot find steady work. "I'm not young," she added over coffee recently, "but I'm not an adult with a job, either."

There has been a national debate for years in Spain about "mileuristas," a nickname for college graduates whose best job prospects may well pay just 1,000 euros a month, or $1,300.

Ms. Herrera is at the lower end of the spectrum. Fed up with earning 600 euros a month, or $791, under the table as a children's drama teacher, Ms. Herrera said she had decided to move to Costa Rica this month to teach at a university.

As she spoke in a cafe in Madrid, a television on the wall featured a report on the birthday of a 106-year-old woman who said that eating blood sausage was the secret to her longevity.

The contrast could not have been stronger. Indeed, experts warn of a looming demographic disaster in Southern Europe, which has among the lowest birth rates in the Western world. With pensioners living longer and young people entering the work force later - and paying less in taxes because their salaries are so low - it is only a matter of time before state coffers run dry.

"What we have is a Ponzi scheme," said Lawrence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University and an expert in fiscal policy.

He said that pay-as-you-go social security and health care were a looming fiscal disaster in Southern Europe and beyond. "If these fertility rates continue through time, you won't have Italians, Spanish, Greeks, Portuguese or Russians," he said. "I imagine the Chinese will just move into Southern Europe."

The problem goes far beyond youth unemployment, which is at 40 percent in Spain and 28 percent in Italy. It is also about underemployment. Today, young people in Southern Europe are effectively exploited by the very mechanisms created a decade ago to help make the labor market more flexible, like temporary contracts.

Because payroll taxes and firing costs are still so high, businesses across Southern Europe are loath to hire new workers on a full-time basis, so young people increasingly are offered unpaid or low-paying internships, traineeships or temporary contracts that do not offer the same benefits or protections.

"This is the best-educated generation in Spanish history, and they are entering a job market in which they are underutilized," said Ignacio Fernández Toxo, the leader of the Comisiones Obreras, one of Spain's two largest labor unions. "It is a tragedy for the country."

Yet many young people in Southern Europe see labor union leaders like Mr. Fernández, and the left-wing parties with which they have been historically close, as part of the problem. They are seen as exacerbating a two-tier labor market by protecting a caste of tenured older workers rather than helping younger workers enter the market.

For Dr. Kotlikoff, the solution is simple: "We have to change the labor laws. Not gradually, but quickly."

Yet in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, any change in national contracts involves complex negotiations among governments, labor unions and businesses - a delicate dance in which each faction fights furiously for its interests.

Because older workers tend to be voters, labor reform remains a third rail to most politicians. Asked at a news conference last year about changing Italy's de facto two-tier system, Italy's center-right finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, said simply, "You can't make violent changes to the system."

New austerity measures in Spain, where the overall unemployment rate is 20 percent, the highest in the European Union, are further narrowing the employment window. Spain has pledged to raise its retirement age to 67 from 65, but incrementally over the next 20 years.

"Now people are being sent into early retirement at age 55," said Sara Sanfulgencio, 28, who has a master's degree in marketing but is unemployed and living in Madrid with her mother, who owns a children's shoe store. "But if I haven't started working by age 28 and I already have to stop at 55, it's absurd."

In Italy, Ms. Esposito is finishing her lawyer traineeship at a private firm in Lecce. It pays little but sits better on her conscience than her unpaid work for the government.

"I'm a repentant college graduate," she said. "If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't go to college and would just start working."

Lucia Magi contributed reporting from Madrid, and Gaia Pianigiani from Rome.


23) Computers That See You and Keep Watch Over You
January 1, 2011

Hundreds of correctional officers from prisons across America descended last spring on a shuttered penitentiary in West Virginia for annual training exercises.

Some officers played the role of prisoners, acting like gang members and stirring up trouble, including a mock riot. The latest in prison gear got a workout - body armor, shields, riot helmets, smoke bombs, gas masks. And, at this year's drill, computers that could see the action.

Perched above the prison yard, five cameras tracked the play-acting prisoners, and artificial-intelligence software analyzed the images to recognize faces, gestures and patterns of group behavior. When two groups of inmates moved toward each other, the experimental computer system sent an alert - a text message - to a corrections officer that warned of a potential incident and gave the location.

The computers cannot do anything more than officers who constantly watch surveillance monitors under ideal conditions. But in practice, officers are often distracted. When shifts change, an observation that is worth passing along may be forgotten. But machines do not blink or forget. They are tireless assistants.

The enthusiasm for such systems extends well beyond the nation's prisons. High-resolution, low-cost cameras are proliferating, found in products like smartphones and laptop computers. The cost of storing images is dropping, and new software algorithms for mining, matching and scrutinizing the flood of visual data are progressing swiftly.

A computer-vision system can watch a hospital room and remind doctors and nurses to wash their hands, or warn of restless patients who are in danger of falling out of bed. It can, through a computer-equipped mirror, read a man's face to detect his heart rate and other vital signs. It can analyze a woman's expressions as she watches a movie trailer or shops online, and help marketers tailor their offerings accordingly. Computer vision can also be used at shopping malls, schoolyards, subway platforms, office complexes and stadiums.

All of which could be helpful - or alarming.

"Machines will definitely be able to observe us and understand us better," said Hartmut Neven, a computer scientist and vision expert at Google. "Where that leads is uncertain."

Google has been both at the forefront of the technology's development and a source of the anxiety surrounding it. Its Street View service, which lets Internet users zoom in from above on a particular location, faced privacy complaints. Google will blur out people's homes at their request.

Google has also introduced an application called Goggles, which allows people to take a picture with a smartphone and search the Internet for matching images. The company's executives decided to exclude a facial-recognition feature, which they feared might be used to find personal information on people who did not know that they were being photographed.

Despite such qualms, computer vision is moving into the mainstream. With this technological evolution, scientists predict, people will increasingly be surrounded by machines that can not only see but also reason about what they are seeing, in their own limited way.

The uses, noted Frances Scott, an expert in surveillance technologies at the National Institute of Justice, the Justice Department's research agency, could allow the authorities to spot a terrorist, identify a lost child or locate an Alzheimer's patient who has wandered off.

The future of law enforcement, national security and military operations will most likely rely on observant machines. A few months ago, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon's research arm, awarded the first round of grants in a five-year research program called the Mind's Eye. Its goal is to develop machines that can recognize, analyze and communicate what they see. Mounted on small robots or drones, these smart machines could replace human scouts. "These things, in a sense, could be team members," said James Donlon, the program's manager.

Millions of people now use products that show the progress that has been made in computer vision. In the last two years, the major online photo-sharing services - Picasa by Google, Windows Live Photo Gallery by Microsoft, Flickr by Yahoo and iPhoto by Apple - have all started using face recognition. A user puts a name to a face, and the service finds matches in other photographs. It is a popular tool for finding and organizing pictures.

Kinect, an add-on to Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console, is a striking advance for computer vision in the marketplace. It uses a digital camera and sensors to recognize people and gestures; it also understands voice commands. Players control the computer with waves of the hand, and then move to make their on-screen animated stand-ins - known as avatars - run, jump, swing and dance. Since Kinect was introduced in November, game reviewers have applauded, and sales are surging.

To Microsoft, Kinect is not just a game, but a step toward the future of computing. "It's a world where technology more fundamentally understands you, so you don't have to understand it," said Alex Kipman, an engineer on the team that designed Kinect.

'Please Wash Your Hands'

A nurse walks into a hospital room while scanning a clipboard. She greets the patient and washes her hands. She checks and records his heart rate and blood pressure, adjusts the intravenous drip, turns him over to look for bed sores, then heads for the door but does not wash her hands again, as protocol requires. "Pardon the interruption," declares a recorded women's voice, with a slight British accent. "Please wash your hands."

Three months ago, Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, N.Y., began an experiment with computer vision in a single hospital room. Three small cameras, mounted inconspicuously on the ceiling, monitor movements in Room 542, in a special care unit (a notch below intensive care) where patients are treated for conditions like severe pneumonia, heart attacks and strokes. The cameras track people going in and out of the room as well as the patient's movements in bed.

The first applications of the system, designed by scientists at General Electric, are immediate reminders and alerts. Doctors and nurses are supposed to wash their hands before and after touching a patient; lapses contribute significantly to hospital-acquired infections, research shows.

The camera over the bed delivers images to software that is programmed to recognize movements that indicate when a patient is in danger of falling out of bed. The system would send an alert to a nearby nurse.

If the results at Bassett prove to be encouraging, more features can be added, like software that analyzes facial expressions for signs of severe pain, the onset of delirium or other hints of distress, said Kunter Akbay, a G.E. scientist.

Hospitals have an incentive to adopt tools that improve patient safety. Medicare and Medicaid are adjusting reimbursement rates to penalize hospitals that do not work to prevent falls and pressure ulcers, and whose doctors and nurses do not wash their hands enough. But it is too early to say whether computer vision, like the system being tried out at Bassett, will prove to be cost-effective.

Mirror, Mirror

Daniel J. McDuff, a graduate student, stood in front of a mirror at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab. After 20 seconds or so, a figure - 65, the number of times his heart was beating per minute - appeared at the mirror's bottom. Behind the two-way mirror was a Web camera, which fed images of Mr. McDuff to a computer whose software could track the blood flow in his face.

The software separates the video images into three channels - for the basic colors red, green and blue. Changes to the colors and to movements made by tiny contractions and expansions in blood vessels in the face are, of course, not apparent to the human eye, but the computer can see them.

"Your heart-rate signal is in your face," said Ming-zher Poh, an M.I.T. graduate student. Other vital signs, including breathing rate, blood-oxygen level and blood pressure, should leave similar color and movement clues.

The pulse-measuring project, described in research published in May by Mr. Poh, Mr. McDuff and Rosalind W. Picard, a professor at the lab, is just the beginning, Mr. Poh said. Computer vision and clever software, he said, make it possible to monitor humans' vital signs at a digital glance. Daily measurements can be analyzed to reveal that, for example, a person's risk of heart trouble is rising. "This can happen, and in the future it will be in mirrors," he said.

Faces can yield all sorts of information to watchful computers, and the M.I.T. students' adviser, Dr. Picard, is a pioneer in the field, especially in the use of computing to measure and communicate emotions. For years, she and a research scientist at the university, Rana el-Kaliouby, have applied facial-expression analysis software to help young people with autism better recognize the emotional signals from others that they have such a hard time understanding.

The two women are the co-founders of Affectiva, a company in Waltham, Mass., that is beginning to market its facial-expression analysis software to manufacturers of consumer products, retailers, marketers and movie studios. Its mission is to mine consumers' emotional responses to improve the designs and marketing campaigns of products.

John Ross, chief executive of Shopper Sciences, a marketing research company that is part of the Interpublic Group, said Affectiva's technology promises to give marketers an impartial reading of the sequence of emotions that leads to a purchase, in a way that focus groups and customer surveys cannot. "You can see and analyze how people are reacting in real time, not what they are saying later, when they are often trying to be polite," he said. The technology, he added, is more scientific and less costly than having humans look at store surveillance videos, which some retailers do.

The facial-analysis software, Mr. Ross said, could be used in store kiosks or with Webcams. Shopper Sciences, he said, is testing Affectiva's software with a major retailer and an online dating service, neither of which he would name. The dating service, he said, was analyzing users' expressions in search of "trigger words" in personal profiles that people found appealing or off-putting.

Watching the Watchers

Maria Sonin, 33, an office worker in Waltham, Mass., sat in front of a notebook computer looking at a movie trailer while Affectiva's software, through the PC's Webcam, calibrated her reaction. The trailer was for "Little Fockers," starring Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, which opened just before Christmas. The software measured her reactions by tracking movements on a couple of dozen points on her face - mostly along the eyes, eyebrows, nose and the perimeter of her lips.

To the human eye, Ms. Sonin appeared to be amused. The software agreed, said Dr. Kaliouby, though it used a finer-grained analysis, like recording that her smiles were symmetrical (signaling amusement, not embarrassment) and not smirks. The software, Ms. Kaliouby said, allows for continuous, objective measurement of viewers' response to media, and in the future will do so in large numbers on the Web.

Ms. Sonin, an unpaid volunteer, said later that she did not think about being recorded by the Webcam. "It wasn't as if it was a big camera in front of you," she said.

Christopher Hamilton, a technical director of visual effects, has used specialized software to analyze facial expressions and recreate them on the screen. The films he has worked on include "King Kong," "Charlotte's Web" and "The Matrix Revolutions." Using facial-expression analysis technology to gauge the reaction of viewers, who agree to be watched, may well become a valuable tool for movie makers, said Mr. Hamilton, who is not involved with Affectiva.

Today, sampling audience reaction before a movie is released typically means gathering a couple of hundred people at a preview screening. The audience members then answer questions and fill out surveys. Yet viewers, marketing experts say, are often inarticulate and imprecise about their emotional reactions.

The software "makes it possible to measure audience response with a scene-by-scene granularity that the current survey-and-questionnaire approach cannot," Mr. Hamilton said. A director, he added, could find out, for example, that although audience members liked a movie over all, they did not like two or three scenes. Or he could learn that a particular character did not inspire the intended emotional response.

Emotion-sensing software, Mr. Hamilton said, might become part of the entertainment experience - especially as more people watch movies and programs on Internet-connected televisions, computers and portable devices. Viewers could share their emotional responses with friends using recommendation systems based on what scene - say, the protagonists' dancing or a car chase - delivered the biggest emotional jolt.

Affectiva, Dr. Picard said, intends to offer its technology as "opt-in only," meaning consumers have to be notified and have to agree to be watched online or in stores. Affectiva, she added, has turned down companies, which she declined to name, that wanted to use its software without notifying customers.

Darker Possibilities

Dr. Picard enunciates a principled stance, but one that could become problematic in other hands.

The challenge arises from the prospect of the rapid spread of less-expensive yet powerful computer-vision technologies.

At work or school, the technology opens the door to a computerized supervisor that is always watching. Are you paying attention, goofing off or daydreaming? In stores and shopping malls, smart surveillance could bring behavioral tracking into the physical world.

More subtle could be the effect of a person knowing that he is being watched - and how that awareness changes his thinking and actions. It could be beneficial: a person thinks twice and a crime goes uncommitted. But might it also lead to a society that is less spontaneous, less creative, less innovative?

"With every technology, there is a dark side," said Hany Farid, a computer scientist at Dartmouth. "Sometimes you can predict it, but often you can't."

A decade ago, he noted, no one predicted that cellphones and text messaging would lead to traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers. And, he said, it was difficult to foresee that the rise of Facebook and Twitter and personal blogs would become troves of data to be collected and exploited in tracking people's online behavior.

Often, a technology that is benign in one setting can cause harm in a different context. Google confronted that problem this year with its face-recognition software. In its Picasa photo-storing and sharing service, face recognition helps people find and organize pictures of family and friends.

But the company took a different approach with Goggles, which lets a person snap a photograph with a smartphone, setting off an Internet search. Take a picture of the Eiffel Tower and links to Web pages with background information and articles about it appear on the phone's screen. Take a picture of a wine bottle and up come links to reviews of that vintage.

Google could have put face recognition into the Goggles application; indeed, many users have asked for it. But Google decided against it because smartphones can be used to take pictures of individuals without their knowledge, and a face match could retrieve all kinds of personal information - name, occupation, address, workplace.

"It was just too sensitive, and we didn't want to go there," said Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google. "You want to avoid enabling stalker behavior."


24) Career Shift Often Means Drop in Living Standards
December 31, 2010

Even the lucky ones are not so lucky, it seems.

A new study of American workers displaced by the recession sheds light on the sacrifices a large number have made to find work. Many, it turns out, had to switch careers and significantly reduce their living standards.

"In many cases, these people are not very happy," said Cliff Zukin, professor of public policy and political science at Rutgers University and one of the authors of the study. "They're the winners who got new jobs, but they're not really what they want, and not where they want to be."

The study, conducted by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, was based on a survey of Americans around the country who were unemployed as of August 2009 and re-interviewed about their job status twice over the next 15 months.

As of November 2010, only about one-third had found replacement jobs, either as full-time workers (26 percent) or as part-time workers not wanting a full-time job (8 percent).

And of those who successfully found work, 41 percent had switched into a new career or field.

Some of these may have been workers who retrained for new fields they wished to enter, but many seem to have taken their new jobs out of desperation. Only a minority of those displaced workers changing careers - 22 percent - said they had taken a class or a training course before finding their new job.

"Look, I am really happy to have a job - that's the main thing," said Sue Bires, 60, who was laid off from a job managing homeowners' associations in Orlando, Fla., in September 2008. She initially had another job lined up with a different realty association in Orlando, but when that fell through, she moved to Austin, Tex., to stay with a friend. She filed for bankruptcy and took a job at a call center.

But she now earns $30,000, far below the $45,000 she was paid when she was managing properties.

"It's competitive out there, even for the lower paying jobs, especially when you're 60 looking for a job in a young town," Ms. Bires said. "So I'm grateful to have a job where the people are nice and I have a little bit of flexibility in my hours. That's especially important now, since retirement is looking like a long way off."

Like Ms. Bires, most of those forced to switch careers generally seemed to downgrade their job status.

Nearly 7 in 10 of the survey's respondents who took jobs in new fields say they had to take a cut in pay, compared with just 45 percent of workers who successfully found work in their original field.

Of all the newly re-employed tracked by the Heldrich Center, 29 percent took a reduction in fringe benefits in their new job. Again, those switching careers had to sacrifice more: Nearly half of these workers (46 percent) suffered a benefits cut, compared with just 29 percent who stayed in the same career.

Many of those who found work in a different field say they have come to terms with the limited opportunities, but they are reluctant to see their new job as a calling.

"I wouldn't go so far as to say I've switched careers, since I'm not exactly sure this is a career, but I'm definitely doing something different," said Adam Kowal, 30, of Royal Oak, Mich.

After being laid off from a job as a quality control supervisor at a department store warehouse and losing his house, he moved his family across the state to live with his mother. Unable to find similar work, he initially took a "soul-sucking" temporary job on an assembly line making auto parts, and is now working in a kitchen at a high school.

His hourly wage has fallen from $15 an hour at the warehouse to $10.50 an hour washing dishes and preparing food, and he has gone from having health insurance coverage for his whole family to no benefits. He, his pregnant wife and their 4-year-old son are now on Medicaid.

"I'd love to go back to what I was doing," he said, or even into what he described as his true passion, full-time screenwriting. "But when I talk with the unemployment office here in Michigan, they tell me the chances of going back and using the same skill set I had before are pretty farfetched."


25) Real Estate Developers Prosper Despite Defaults
January 1, 2011

Larry Gluck, the apartment building king whose company defaulted on loans in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, recently bought the Windermere Hotel in Manhattan and Tivoli Towers, a subsidized housing complex in Brooklyn.

Ian Bruce Eichner, who lost two major New York skyscrapers to foreclosure in the early 1990s and defaulted on a $760 million loan for a Las Vegas casino resort in 2008, is working on a plan to rescue One Madison Park, a troubled 50-story condominium project.

Even Harry Macklowe, whose $7 billion gamble on seven Midtown skyscrapers at the top of the market almost cost him his entire empire, is out looking for new deals.

Industry lore has it that New York is one of the toughest, most unforgiving real estate markets in the world. The costs are so high, the unions so ornery, the politicians so demanding and the rivalries so fierce, that one false move invites financial disaster.

But the truth is that there have been surprisingly few career fatalities among New York developers, even though they have lost billions of investor dollars on overpriced real estate and have littered the city with unfinished apartment buildings. While a homeowner who lost a house to foreclosure would find it difficult to borrow for years, developers who defaulted on enormous loans have still been able to attract money.

The reasons, experts say, are that there is still plenty of money floating around and that the market has a very short memory.

"You can always find an investor who'll put up equity with a guy, unless he's Attila the Hun," said Daniel Alpert, managing partner at Westwood Capital, a real estate investment bank.

For some of these developers, however, putting together a deal is not as easy as it used to be. Large banks and pension funds that endured huge losses have become very picky. Scott Lawlor, the founder of Broadway Partners, bought 28 office buildings in 2006 and 2007 and is now stuck with heavy debts on what is left of a portfolio whose value has dropped by at least a third. He is trying to come back with a focus on distressed residential real estate but has been unable to attract institutional money, according to lawyers and real estate executives who know him. He is now trying to line up wealthy investors.

Hedge funds and private equity funds are still offering backing for deals, believing that the real estate market will warm up again this year. There are also new investors looking to get into real estate, including funds based in China, and Norwegian pension funds.

And there have been casualties. Shaya Boymelgreen, the once-ubiquitous developer who built more than 2,400 apartments during the boom, broke with his money partner, was peppered with lawsuits from condominium buyers and was evicted from his offices in Brooklyn.

The $3 billion real estate portfolio that Kent Swig, a scion of a West Coast real estate family, put together over the past two decades is slowly slipping through his hands, and he warned last year that personal bankruptcy could be in the offing.

But while a homeowner who is foreclosed upon is often on the brink of financial ruin, many developers who defaulted emerged relatively unscathed themselves. Most of them invested relatively little of their own money in the deals, preferring "O.P.M.," or "other people's money." One of the best-known examples is Tishman Speyer Properties, which lost $56 million on Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, while lenders and other investors lost over $2.4 billion.

It was a rare stumble and, in perspective, a minor setback for the company, which controls Rockefeller Center and operates on four continents. It has since raised $2.5 billion to expand its portfolio and recently acquired two buildings in Paris, one in Washington and a 45-story office tower in Chicago.

Mr. Macklowe, an unabashed property gambler, is also considered a real estate genius with a keen eye for development, having turned the G.M. Building across the street from the Plaza Hotel into a gold mine. He sought to double his holdings in 2007 by buying seven office towers for $7 billion. Desperate for cash during the credit crisis 15 months later, Mr. Macklowe was forced to relinquish those buildings and to sell several other properties, including his beloved G.M. Building.

Now a new set of investors is bringing him back to develop a site he once owned, where the Drake Hotel stood, according to two real estate executives who work with him.

In 2005, Mr. Gluck and a partner bought the 1,232-unit Riverton Houses complex in Harlem for $131 million. The following year, he refinanced with $250 million in loans, allowing him to renovate the lobbies and elevators and to put tens of millions of dollars in his pocket.

But in less than two years, Mr. Gluck's plan to replace residents of rent-regulated apartments with tenants paying higher rents unraveled. The lender foreclosed as the property's value fell by half. Loan defaults followed in San Francisco, Los Angeles and elsewhere.

Most recently, Mr. Gluck and a partner, Rob Rosania, paid $70 million for a residential hotel in Manhattan, the Windermere. But the days of easy money, when Wall Street would lend 90 percent or more of the purchase price, are over, Mr. Gluck said. His lenders required his company to put up 28 percent of the purchase price and to provide an additional $10 million for renovations.

Mr. Gluck and Mr. Rosania said they were buyers again because they were better capitalized than their competitors and did not squabble with their lenders when the money ran out. "If you behave like a gentleman and don't leave your partners and investors to fend for themselves, you will be rewarded for your loyalty," Mr. Gluck said.

In his case and others, investors and lenders are forgiving losses incurred after a bubble in which everyone from the smallest homeowner to the largest bank was overleveraged. "Throughout my 30 years in the business," Mr. Alpert said, "I have seen an enormous amount of forgiveness for market errors."

It is an infuriating pattern for the city's real estate aristocracy, like the Durst family, which has been measured in its borrowing and has never defaulted on a loan. Yet, Douglas Durst said, "That has not given us any advantage as we go through each financial cycle in which the bankers who made bad loans are let go, but the defaulting borrowers are waiting for the new team of bankers to start the process over again."

Mr. Eichner has been up and down more than once. After lenders took over two of his skyscrapers in 1991, Mr. Eichner dismissed criticism that he was an example of the excesses of the 1980s boom. "Everyone who was aggressive in the '80s suffered substantial losses," he said in 1994.

Mr. Eichner's lenders suffered the biggest losses, and at one troubled building, 1540 Broadway in Times Square, they paid him tens of millions of dollars in 1992 to relinquish control.

More recently, in Las Vegas, Mr. Eichner has said he was a victim of the credit crisis after he was forced to walk away from the Cosmopolitan Resort Casino in 2008. Unable to obtain new financing and plagued by cost overruns and environmental issues, he defaulted on loans from Deutsche Bank for the project.

Still, Mr. Eichner, who did not return calls requesting comment, vowed in 2008 that he would be back and that bankers would lend to him once again. He is now putting together a reorganization plan to salvage the bankrupt tower, One Madison Park. The lender, iStar, opposes Mr. Eichner's involvement, arguing that his approach would unfairly slash the mortgage in half while Mr. Eichner would reap a huge return on his $40 million investment.

"Capital is blind," said David W. Levinson, a founder of L & L Holding Company, a real estate firm that controls 11 Manhattan buildings. "It will go wherever it can for a return. That's it in a nutshell."



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