Wednesday, January 12, 2011



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:





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


[StopFBI-National] Jan. 25: Protest FBI and Grand Jury Repression!

Join the National Day of Action on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 4:30-5:45 P.M.
Federal Building
7th and Mission Streeta
San Francisco, CA
Northern California United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)

For more information: 510-268-9429

In December 2010, under the direction of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the FBI delivered 9 new subpoenas in Chicago to anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists - bringing the total number of subpoenaed activists to 23. Patrick Fitzgerald's office is ordering the 9 to appear at a Grand Jury in Chicago on January 25.

In response, we are calling for protests across the country and around the world to show our solidarity. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of people will be protesting at Federal Buildings, FBI offices, and other appropriate places, showing solidarity with the 9 newly subpoenaed activists and with all the activists whose homes were raided by the FBI.

Fitzgerald's expanding web of repression already includes the 14 subpoenaed when the FBI stormed into homes on September 24th, carting away phones, computers, notebooks, diaries and children's artwork. In October, all fourteen activists from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Michigan decided to not participate in the secret proceedings of Fitzgerald's Grand Jury. Each signed a letter invoking their Fifth Amendment rights. However, three women from Minneapolis - Tracy Molm, Anh Pham and Sarah Martin - are facing re-activated subpoenas. They are standing strong and we are asking you to stand with them - and with the newly subpoenaed nine activists - by protesting Patrick Fitzgerald and his use of the Grand Jury and FBI to repress anti-war and international solidarity activists.

Defend free speech! Defend the right to organize! Opposing war and occupation is not a crime!
**Tell Patrick Fitzgerald to call off the Grand Jury!
**Stop FBI raids and repression!

Please organize a local protest or picket in your city or on your campus and e-mail us at to let us know what you have planned.

In Struggle,
--Tom Burke

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression - - 612-379-3585


Next meeting of UNAC Sunday, January 30, 1:00 P.M.
U.C. Berkeley Campus
Room to be announced


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


Are you joining us on April 8 at the Pentagon in a climate chaos protest codenamed "Operation Disarmageddon?" It has been decided that affinity groups will engage in nonviolent autonomous actions. Do you have an affinity group? Do you have an idea for an action?

So far these are some of the suggested actions:

Send a letter to Sec. of War Robert Gates demanding a meeting to disclose the Pentagon's role in destroying the planet. He will ignore the letter, so a delegation would then go to the Metro Entrance to demand a meeting.

Use crime tape around some area of the Pentagon. The idea of crime/danger taping off the building could be done just outside the main Pentagon reservation entrance (intersection of Army/Navy) making the Alexandria PD the arresting authority (if needed) and where there is no ban on photography. Hazmat suits, a 'converted' truck (or other vehicle) could be part of the street theater. The area where I am thinking is also almost directly below I-95 and there is a bridge over the intersection - making a banner drop possible. Perhaps with the hazmat/street closure at ground level with a banner from above. If possible a coordinated action could be done at other Pentagon entrances and / or other war making institutions.

A procession onto the Pentagon reservation, without reservations, and set up a camp on one of the lawns surrounding The Pentagon. This contingent would reclaim the space in the name of peace and Mother Earth. This contingent would plan to stay there until The Pentagon is turned into a 100% green building using sustainable energy employing people who work for peace and the abolishment of war and life-affirming endeavors.

Bring a potted tree to be placed on the Pentagon's property to symbolize the need to radically reduce its environmental destructiveness.

Since the Pentagon is failing to return to the taxpayers the money it has misappropriated, "Foreclose on the Pentagon."

Banner hanging from a bridge.

Hand out copies of David Swanson's book WAR IS A LIE. Try to deliver a copy to Secretary of War Robert Gates.

Have short speeches in park between Pentagon and river; nice photo with Pentagon in background.

Die-in and chalk or paint outlines of victim's bodies everywhere that remain after the arrest to point to where real crimes are really being committed.

Establish command center, Peacecom? Paxcom? Put several people in white shirts and ties plus a few generals directing their armies for "Operation Disarmageddon."

Make the linkage between the tax dollars going to the Pentagon and war tax resistance. Use the WRL pie chart and carry banners "foreclose on war" and "money for green jobs not war jobs."

Hold a rally with representative speakers before going to the Pentagon Reservation. This would be an opportunity to speak out against warmongering and the Pentagon's role in destroying the environment.

As part of "Operation Disarmageddon," we will take a tree and plant it on the reservation. Our sign reads, "Plant trees not landmines."

Use crime tape on Army/Navy Drive to declare the Pentagon a crime scene. Do street theater there as well. Other affinity groups could go to selected entrances.

Establish a Peace Command Center at the Pentagon. Hold solidarity actions at federal buildings and corporate offices.

What groups have you contacted to suggest joining us at the Pentagon? See below for those who plan to be at the Pentagon on April 8 and for what groups have been contacted.



April 8, 2011 participants

Beth Adams
Ellen Barfield
Tim Chadwick
Joy First
Jeffrey Halperin
Malachy Kilbride
Max Obuszewski
David Swanson

April 8 Outreach

Beth Adams -- Earth First, Puppet Underground, Emma's Revolution, Joe Gerson-AFSC Cambridge, Code Pink(national via Lisa Savage in Maine), Vets for Peace, FOR, UCC Justice & Witness Ministries, Traprock, Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order, (National-INt'l) Vets for Peace and WILPF, Pace e Bene, Christian Peace Witness & UCC Justice & Witness (Cleveland).

Tim Chadwick -- Brandywine, Lepoco, Witness against Torture, Vets for Peace (Thomas Paine Chapter Lehigh Valley PA), and Witness for Peace DC.

Jeffrey Halperin -- peace groups in Saratoga Spring, NY

Jack Lombardo - UNAC will add April 8 2011 to the Future Actions page on our blog, and make note in upcoming E-bulletins, but would appreciate a bit of descriptive text from the organizers and contact point to include when we do - so please advise ASAP! Also, we'll want to have such an announcement for our next print newsletter, which will be coming out in mid-December.

Max Obuszewski - Jonah House & Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore

Bonnie Urfer notified 351 individuals and groups on the Nukewatch list


Endorse the call to action from the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC)

Bring the Troops Home Now!

March and Rally

April 9th, 2011

New York City (Union Sq. at noon)and San Francisco (Time and place to be announced)

--Bring U.S. Troops 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, the Caribbean and Africa! End U.S. Aid to Israel! End U.S. Support to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the Siege of Gaza!

--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.

--End 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.
--Immediate end to torture, rendition, secret trials, drone bombings and death squads

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

email you endorsement to: and cc:

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

United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC)
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
Code Pink
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
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
Middle East Children's Alliance
Tariq Ali
Dr. Margaret Flowers PNHP *
Ramsey Clark
Ambassador Syed Ahsani, Former Ambassador from Pakistan
Ahmed Shawki, editor, International Socialist Review
Ali Abunimah, Palestinian American Journalist
Alice Sturn Sutter, Washington Heights Women in Black *
Al-Awda NY: the Palestine Right to Return Coalition
American Iranian Friendship Committee
American Muslim Task Force, Dallas/Ft. Worth
Ana Edwards, Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project - Richmond, Va.
Anthony Arnove, Author, "Iraq: The logic of Withdrawal"
Andy Griggs, Co-chair, California Teachers Association, Peace and Justice Caucus/UTLA-retired*
B. Ross Ashley, NDP Socialist Caucus, Canada *
Bail Out the People Movement
Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Barrio Unido, San Francisco
Bashir Abu-Manneh
Baltimore Job Is a Right Campaign
Baltimore-Washington Area Peace Council, US Peace Council Chapter
Battered Mother's Custody Conference
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace
Blanca Misse, Student Worker Action Team/UC Berkeley, Academic Workers for Democratic Union - UAW 2865 *
Blauvelt Dominican sisters Social Justice Ministry
Bob Hernandez, Chapter President, SEIU Local 1021*
Bonnie Weinstein - Bay Area United Against Wars Newsletter
Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights
Boston UNAC
Boston University Anti-War Coalition
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
Chesapeake Citizens
Howard Terry Adcock, Colombia Support Network, Austin (TX) , Center for Peace and Justice *
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 Swanson,
David Keil - Metro West Peace Action (MWPA) *
Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality - Virginia
Derrick O'Keefe, Co-chair (Vancouver)
Detroit Committee to Stop FBI/Grand Jury Repression.
Doug Bullock, Albany County Legislator
Dr. Andy Coates PNHP *
DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) - New York
Elaine Brower - national steering committee of World Can't Wait 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
Haiti Liberte
Hands off Venezuela
Howie Hawkins, Co-Chair, Green Party of New York State *
IIan Pappe, Director Exeter University, European Centre for Palestine Studies
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
International Socialist Organization
International support Haiti Network (ISHN)
Iraq Peace Action Coalition - Minneapolis
Italo-American Progressive Fraternal Society
Janata Dal (United), India
Jersey City Peace Movement
Jimmy Massey, Founding member of IVAW
John Pilger, Journalist and Documentary film maker
Journal Square Homeless Coalition
Justice for Fallujah Project
Karen Schieve, United Educators of San Francisco *
Kim Nguyen, Metrowest Peace Action (MWPA)*
Kwame Binta, The November Coalition
Larry Pinkvey, Black Activist Writers Guild
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 Coalition *
Los Angeles - Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee
Maggie Zhou - ClimateSOS *
Maine Veterans for Peace
Malu Aina, Hawaii
Maria Cristina Gutierrez, Exec. Director, Companeros del Barrio
Mark Roman, Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice
Marlena Santoyo, Germantown Friends Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
Mary Flanagan, United Teachers of Richmond *
Masjid As-Salam Mosque, Albany, NY
Mazin Qumsiyeh
Michigan Emergency Committee Against Wars and Injustice
Mike Alewitz, Central Ct. State University *
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*
Nancy Parten, Witness For Peace *
Nellie Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council *
New Abolitionist Movement
New England United
New Jersey Labor Against War
New Socialist Project
New York City Labor Against the War
New York Collective of Radical Educators
No More Victims
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development
Northeast Peace and Justice Action Coalition
Northern California Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Northwest Greens
Nuestro Norte Es El Sur ((NUNO-SUR) Our North is the South
Omar Barghouti, Human rights activist (Palestine)
Pakistan USA Freedom Forum
Pakistani Trade Union Defense Campaign
Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People
Peace Action Maine
Peace Action Montgomery
Peacemakers of Schoharie County, New York
Peace and Freedom Party
People of Faith, Connecticut
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.
Radio Free Maine
Ralph Poynter, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Revolutionary Workers Group
Rhode Island Mobilization Committee
Roland Sheppard, Retired Business Agent Painters Local #4, San Francisco *
Rochester Against War
Ron Jacobs, writer
Saladin Muhammad - Founding Member, Black Workers for Justice
Sarah Roche-Mahdi, Code Pink Boston*
Saratoga Peace Alliance
Senior Action Network
Seth Farber, PhD., Institute of Mind and Behavior *
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
Staten Island Council for Peace & Justice
Steve Scher, Breen Party of NYC 26 AD *
Stewart Robinson, Stop Targeting Ohio Poor *
Stop the Wars Coalition, Boston
Tarak Kauff, Veterans for Peace
The Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran
The Thomas Merton Center Antiwar Committee
Twin Cities Peace Campaign
Upper Hudson Peace Action
Virginia Defender
West Hartford Citizens for Peace and Justice
WESPAC Foundation
Women against Military Madness
Women in Black, Westchester
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Pittsburgh
Workers International League
Workers World Party
Youth for International Socialism

To add yourself to the UNAC listserv, please send an email to:


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


Wall Street Fat-Cats Flip Public Service Workers the Bird


Song for Bradley Manning


Supermax Prison Cell Extraction - Maine

Warning, this is an extremely brutal video. What do you think? Is this torture?


Rachel Maddow- New GOP scapegoat- public workers


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


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


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.




Julian Assange: Why the world needs WikiLeaks




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




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


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
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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.
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1) Profits are Booming. Why Aren't Jobs?
"American businesses reported that third-quarter profits in 2010 rose at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion, the steepest annual surge since officials began tracking such matters 60 years ago. It was the seventh consecutive quarter in which corporate profits climbed."
January 8, 2011

2) Climate of Hate
January 9, 2011

3) In Illinois, a Giant Deficit Leads to Talk of a Giant Tax Increase
January 9, 2011

4) U.S. Backs Drug Firms in Lawsuit Over Prices
January 9, 2011

5) Twitter Shines a Spotlight on Secret F.B.I. Subpoenas
January 9, 2011

6) For Poor, Bail System Can Be an Obstacle to Freedom
January 9, 2011

7) Ford Plans to Hire More Than 7,000 Workers
"The new hires would increase Ford's hourly payroll in the United States by about 15 percent but represent a fraction of the jobs eliminated in recent years. The company has about 42,000 workers at its American plants, down from 103,000 a decade ago...Some of the new workers will be paid so-called second-tier wages, under an agreement with the United Automobile Workers union. The deal allows the Detroit automakers to pay some new hires about $14 an hour, which is about what current workers earn; benefits also are reduced."
January 10, 2011

8) Resolution on Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning
Resolution adopted by unanimous vote at the regular delegates meeting of the Labor Council, held in San Francisco, California on January 10, 2011.
VIA Email

9) Texas school police ticketing students as young as 6
By Liz Goodwin
Mon Jan 10, 11:33 am ET

10) WikiLeaks Founder Said to Fear 'Illegal Rendition' to U.S.
January 11, 2011

11) Amid Rioting, Tunisia Closes Universities
January 10, 2011

12) Charges Dropped Against British Protesters
"But six of the activists refused to admit to planning the break-in and were prepared to argue that the undercover officer, Mark Kennedy, had acted as an agent provocateur and had 'actively encouraged participation in the action,' according to papers drawn up by their lawyers and cited by The Guardian. Mr. Kennedy was said by The Guardian to have renounced his role last month and to have told lawyers for the defendants that he was prepared to testify on their behalf. The newspaper said Mr. Kennedy had quit the police force and moved abroad, fearing retaliation against himself and his family."
January 10, 2011

13) Labor Board Overturns Vote by Sandwich Shop Workers
January 10, 2011

14) Judge Rules New York City Can Disclose Names in Teacher Rankings; Union Plans to Appeal
January 10, 2011

15) Judges Berate Bank Lawyers in Foreclosures
"In numerous opinions, judges have accused lawyers of processing shoddy or even fabricated paperwork in foreclosure actions when representing the banks."
January 10, 2011

16) 200,000 Pounds of Beef Sent to Prisons Is Recalled
January 11, 2011

17) (Please Close My PayPal Account)
January 7, 2011
OPEN LETTER (by U.S. Mail) TO :
Jeffrey D. Jordan, President
2211 North First Street
San Jose, CA 95131
By Daniel Stone
VIA Email

18) Nine Years Later: The Political Prisoners of Guantanamo
By Andy Worthington
Tuesday 11 January 2011

19) Protests at Fort Campbell Over Deployment of Wounded Soldier
By Sarah Lazare & Ryan Harvey
Monday 10 January 2011

20) Obama's Comfort Zone: King of Collaboration
"With Wall Street's hegemony at the commanding heights of the world's sole superpower unchallenged, the crisis of finance capital has become a crisis of the U.S. state and a threat to every other capitalist economy and state on the planet."
[It's not that the U.S. state is a threat to every other capitalist economy and state on the planet; it's that capitalism is a threat to all humanity everywhere on the planet. There is no such thing as a kinder and gentler capitalism!]
By BAR executive editor Glen Ford
January 12, 2011

21) Illinois Legislators Approve 66% Tax Increase
January 12, 2011

22) Army Called In as Tunisian Protests Hit Capital
January 12, 2011


1) Profits are Booming. Why Aren't Jobs?
"American businesses reported that third-quarter profits in 2010 rose at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion, the steepest annual surge since officials began tracking such matters 60 years ago. It was the seventh consecutive quarter in which corporate profits climbed."
January 8, 2011

To gaze upon the world of American corporations is to see a sunny place of terrific profits and princely bonuses. American businesses reported that third-quarter profits in 2010 rose at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion, the steepest annual surge since officials began tracking such matters 60 years ago. It was the seventh consecutive quarter in which corporate profits climbed.

Staring at such balance sheets, you might almost forget that much of the nation lives under slate-gray fiscal skies, a place of 9.4 percent unemployment and record levels of foreclosures and indebtedness.

And therein lies the enduring mystery of this Great Recession and Not So Great Recovery: Why have corporate profits (and that market thermometer, the Dow) spiked even as 15 million Americans remain mired in unemployment, a number without precedent since the Great Depression? Employment tends to lag a touch behind profit growth, but history offers few parallels to what is happening today.

"Usually the business cycle is a rising-and-falling, all-boats-together phenomenon," noted J. Bradford DeLong, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a deputy assistant secretary for economic policy in the Clinton Treasury Department. "It's quite a puzzle when you have this disjunction between profits on the one hand and unemployment."

A search for answers leads in several directions. The bulls' explanation, heard with more frequency these days, has the virtue of being straightforward: corporate profits are the economy's pressure cooker, building and building toward an explosive burst that will lead to much hiring next year.

The December jobs numbers suggest that that moment has yet to arrive, as the nation added just 103,000 jobs, or less than the number needed to keep pace with population growth. The leisure industry and hospitals accounted for 83,000 jobs; large corporations added a tiny fraction.

Consumers appear to have put a toe or two back into the water, as holiday spending rose (although it fell short of analysts' forecasts) and families began to replace the ailing refrigerator or the aging minivan. Car sales are rising.

But relatively few economists, even those who see signs of an improving economy, sound particularly buoyant, a concern shared by liberals and conservatives alike. Jobless recoveries followed on the heels of the last two recessions, but neither prefigured the depth of the trouble this time. After the 1990-91 recession, it took 23 months to add back the jobs lost. After the 2001 recession, it took 38 months. (And it's worth keeping in mind that one of the great housing and credit bubbles in American history fed that hiring; no economist expects that to repeat itself).

At the current rate, the economy will need 72 to 90 months to recapture the jobs lost during the Great Recession. And that does not account for the five million jobs needed to keep pace with a growing population.

None of this has slowed the unprecedented rise in corporate profits. The reasons are many.

More so than in the past, many American-based corporations earn a great portion of their profits overseas. And thanks to porous tax laws, these companies return fewer of those profits to American shores than in the past.

"The big American companies are really global," said Robert Reich, former labor secretary for President Clinton. "They can show big profits from foreign sales. G.M. is making more Buicks overseas than in the United States. There's no special pop for the United States worker."

Key corporate sectors, too, have undergone a Darwinian pruning during the last three years. In the financial arena, a few hyperprofitable firms now stand where many more once stood.

"If you're Goldman and Morgan Chase, and you once had to compete against Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, well, of course it's easier now to show a profit," said Daniel Alpert, managing partner of Westwood Capital L.L.C., an investment banking firm. "If you have a modest reduction in expenses, and an industry consolidation at the same time, that translates into a massive increase in earnings."

Surviving corporate leaders drew sobering lessons from their near-death experience of 2008 and 2009, when brand-name corporations nearly ran short of the cash needed to meet payrolls.

"They found the financial system was nowhere near as safe as they thought - they no longer think they can borrow as quickly," said Simon H. Johnson, an economics professor at M.I.T. and former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund. "So the amount of cash that they think they should have for precautionary purposes is way up."

Interest rates are so low that traders can pile up profits by exploiting the spread between a near-zero funds rate and rates on Treasury bonds. This allows some corporations to mark profits without selling much or hiring anyone.

Desmond Lachman, a former managing director at Salomon Smith Barney who now serves as a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy center, sees corporate leaders reshaping their worlds.

"Corporations are taking huge advantage of the slack in the labor market - they are in a very strong position and workers are in a very weak position," he said. "They are using that bargaining power to cut benefits and wages, and to shorten hours." That strategy, Mr. Lachman said, serves corporate and shareholder imperatives, but "very much jeopardizes our chances of experiencing a real recovery."

These profits, however, may not be as large as they seem. Justin Fox, editorial director of the Harvard Business Review Group, dices the question of productive corporate profits still more finely in a recent column. He figures that pre-tax domestic corporate profits exclusive of the financial sector are the best measure of the "underlying health of business in America."

He's not terribly impressed. Profits for these companies "repeatedly topped 12 percent in the 1950s and 1960s," he writes. But in the third quarter of 2010, this sector's share of national income stood at 7.03 percent.

Some economists, conservative and liberal, divine forbidding portents in all of this. If profits and employment no longer rise and fall together, they worry, then an already strained social compact will grow yet more frayed.

Market bulls applauded in November when the Conference Board revealed that consumer confidence was on the rise. But David Rosenberg, an economist at the investment firm Gluskin Sheff, noted that this increase owed entirely to the optimism of higher-income Americans, who are feeling better and better.

The housing market, by contrast, created millions of middle-class jobs and accounted for much of the wealth creation of the past decade. But that sector remains nearly comatose.

"I don't see a pop in corporate hiring, because why should they hurry?" said Professor Johnson, the former International Monetary Fund economist. "They are paying themselves well and with demand so low, they don't feel they are missing out on anything."


2) Climate of Hate
January 9, 2011

When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised? Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?

Put me in the latter category. I've had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since the final stages of the 2008campaign. I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton's election in 1992 - an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing. And you could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again. The Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion: in April 2009 an internal report warned that right-wing extremism was on the rise, with a growing potential for violence.

Conservatives denounced that report. But there has, in fact, been a rising tide of threats and vandalism aimed at elected officials, including both Judge John Roll, who was killed Saturday, and Representative Gabrielle Giffords. One of these days, someone was bound to take it to the next level. And now someone has.

It's true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn't mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate.

Last spring reported on a surge in threats against members of Congress, which were already up by 300 percent. A number of the people making those threats had a history of mental illness - but something about the current state of America has been causing far more disturbed people than before to act out their illness by threatening, or actually engaging in, political violence.

And there's not much question what has changed. As Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff responsible for dealing with the Arizona shootings, put it, it's "the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business." The vast majority of those who listen to that toxic rhetoric stop short of actual violence, but some, inevitably, cross that line.

It's important to be clear here about the nature of our sickness. It's not a general lack of "civility," the favorite term of pundits who want to wish away fundamental policy disagreements. Politeness may be a virtue, but there's a big difference between bad manners and calls, explicit or implicit, for violence; insults aren't the same as incitement.

The point is that there's room in a democracy for people who ridicule and denounce those who disagree with them; there isn't any place for eliminationist rhetoric, for suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary.

And it's the saturation of our political discourse - and especially our airwaves - with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.

Where's that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let's not make a false pretense of balance: it's coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It's hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be "armed and dangerous" without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.

And there's a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you'll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won't hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly, and you will.

Of course, the likes of Mr. Beck and Mr. O'Reilly are responding to popular demand. Citizens of other democracies may marvel at the American psyche, at the way efforts by mildly liberal presidents to expand health coverage are met with cries of tyranny and talk of armed resistance. Still, that's what happens whenever a Democrat occupies the White House, and there's a market for anyone willing to stoke that anger.

But even if hate is what many want to hear, that doesn't excuse those who pander to that desire. They should be shunned by all decent people.

Unfortunately, that hasn't been happening: the purveyors of hate have been treated with respect, even deference, by the G.O.P. establishment. As David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter, has put it, "Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we're discovering we work for Fox."

So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It's really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what's happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?

If Arizona promotes some real soul-searching, it could prove a turning point. If it doesn't, Saturday's atrocity will be just the beginning.


3) In Illinois, a Giant Deficit Leads to Talk of a Giant Tax Increase
January 9, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - With Illinois's budget crisis reaching dizzying, desperate levels, lawmakers here over the weekend were seriously pondering something that would have been unimaginable even a few months ago: a 75 percent increase in the state's income tax.

That was just one element in an enormous, controversial and still evolving financial package the state's top political powers dreamed up in private meetings here. On Sunday, they were racing to find enough support to push it through before a new crop of lawmakers takes over on Wednesday.

In a state where the budget woes have, by some estimates, grown more dire than even those in California, it seems that months of inaction might at last be overtaken by some combination of timing (elections are far away) and fear (the state's national reputation and bond ratings seem to be sinking as fast as its debts are mounting).

In a moment when states around the country are wrestling with withered revenues, Illinois faces a deficit of at least $13 billion; more than $6 billion in unpaid bills to social service agencies, schools and funeral homes; the most underfinanced state pension system; and growing signs of concern from bond investors.

"We are very close to things becoming unraveled," said Richard F. Dye, the co-author of a study released last week by a University of Illinois institute titled "Titanic and Sinking: The Illinois Budget Disaster." The report suggested that doing nothing is simply no longer an alternative.

"It won't take long," Mr. Dye said, "for this backlog of bills to be so outrageous that people will not deal with the state."

Still, it is uncertain whether the Democratic leaders, who control both chambers of the legislature and the governor's office, can quickly summon enough support to pass the package, which has yet to be formally announced. It was expected, in one version, to include a $1 tax increase on packs of cigarettes, a sharp rise in the corporate tax, and an increase, for the first time in nearly 20 years, in the income tax, which would rise to 5.25 percent from 3 percent.

Democrats say that part of the increase would be temporary, and that the deal could come with pledges to keep spending growth to a bare minimum and to find cuts in areas like Medicaid. But even some fellow Democrats, particularly in the State House (where Democrats hold 70 votes and would need only 60 for passage of a tax increase), seem skeptical.

"Look, this would be a way to get back to even," John J. Cullerton, the State Senate president, said after one in what has seemed an endless flurry of closed-door meetings with the state's top three Democrats. The tax increases were expected to raise some $7.5 billion a year - enough, advocates said, to solve the state's deficit under a new borrowing plan.

"We'd pay our bills," Mr. Cullerton said. "Our vendors get paid. Our bond rating would improve."

Republican leaders criticized the size of the proposed tax increase and complained that they had not been included in conversations where the plan was developed. Most of all, they argued that spending cuts needed to be looked at first, even given the urgency of the crisis, before anyone should resort to a giant and rushed tax hike.

The state's Republican Party chairman, Pat Brady, on Saturday described the whole notion as "the latest example of life in Madiganville," referring to the longtime speaker of the House, Michael J. Madigan, and introduced an online petition in which residents could urge lawmakers to thwart the tax increase.

On a recent afternoon, Tom Cross, the Republican leader of the House, said he believed that the situation in Illinois could be "catastrophic" as early as May or June, then ticked down a four-page list of proposals that he says Republicans have tried to offer as ways to truly sort out Illinois's mess. On the list: sell half of the state's fleet of cars, require only one license plate on cars instead of two, combine the state treasurer's and comptroller's jobs, ban out-of-state travel for elected officials, and end the remodeling of state offices (carpet included).

"Even if you have a tax increase like this, you can't wake up and say, 'I've got all the money in the world, and I can spend like a drunken sailor,' " Mr. Cross said. "This is all as bad as everyone says, and I still don't hear any willingness to see the need to tighten the belt."

Mr. Madigan, who is also the state's Democratic Party chairman and, in the view of many, the state's most powerful politician, has sent signals that more spending is not what he has in mind. He has pressed for two constitutional amendments - both of which Mr. Cross mocks as "gimmicks" - that would make it more difficult to approve benefit increases for pensioners and would hold state spending growth to a level residents see in their salaries.

As word of a possible deal filtered out, some in the business community were criticizing the size of the tax increases, saying they would make new companies less likely to come here and existing ones less likely to stay. Others were predicting that angry taxpayers might appear in droves in Springfield on Monday.

Steve Brown, a spokesman for Mr. Madigan, said voters' responses to the notion remained an open question. "It's not going to be an easy story to tell because we know the economy is still not very good, we know unemployment's still a bad thing," he said. "But we know the desperate fiscal condition that the state is in."

The timing of this plan is no accident. For months, as Illinois and other states watched revenues sink, some leaders seemed wary of any drastic steps, given competitive political races in November. In the end, Gov. Patrick J. Quinn, a Democrat who has long said he would support a tax increase, though he suggested it might be a smaller one, narrowly defeated his challenger. And while the Republicans won a handful of legislative seats, they remain in the minority.

And so, Democrats see an opportunity. They have two days left with their most powerful margins in each chamber, and several departing legislators may now feel free to vote for a tax increase without worrying about any wrath from voters. Come noon on Wednesday, when new lawmakers arrive, the odds of passing any such package grow slimmer.

The state had to borrow to make payments to its pension system last year, and it has been considering borrowing $3.7 billion more with municipal bonds to make payments this year - though with sinking bond ratings, the cost of borrowing grows ever higher. And the state's bills keep piling up. No one is certain what will happen if the tax increase package - or some permutation of it - does not pass now.

"You would have a continuation of deficit spending and borrowing, further deterioration of our bond ratings, and the image that we convey to businesses that might want to come here as that of instability," Mr. Cullerton said grimly. "It would be disastrous."


4) U.S. Backs Drug Firms in Lawsuit Over Prices
January 9, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration, following a lengthy internal debate, has unexpectedly come down on the side of pharmaceutical companies that are accused of overcharging public hospitals and clinics that care for large numbers of poor people.

The administration has told the Supreme Court that the hospitals and clinics cannot sue drug companies to enforce their right to deep discounts on drugs or to obtain reimbursement from companies that overcharge.

It is a classic conflict: a political imperative for the administration - to ensure that inexpensive drugs are available to the poor people who need them - rubbing up against the Justice Department's fear of an onslaught of lawsuits by clinics and hospitals if the Supreme Court allows them to sue.

Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, said the case raises the question of whether the intended beneficiaries of a government program can enforce their right to assistance that is made available by Congress.

"You can parse the legal issues, as the Justice Department has done," Ms. Rosenbaum said. "But the bottom line is that a lot of poor people and a lot of safety-net providers are not getting the discounts they are supposed to receive."

The court is being asked to rule in a lawsuit brought by Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties in California against AstraZeneca and a number of other drug makers.

The counties contend that the companies overcharged for drugs supplied to their hospitals and clinics. An AstraZeneca spokesman, Tony Jewell, said the company "believes that there is no evidence" that the overcharges occurred.

Nationwide, more than 15,000 clinics and hospitals participate in the discount program, which cuts prices of prescription drugs by 30 to 50 percent. The providers spend more than $6 billion a year on drugs.

Santa Clara County, which includes the city of San Jose and is home to 1.8 million people, operates a public hospital and 12 clinics. Juniper L. Downs, a lawyer for the county, said: "The intent of this program is to provide discounted drugs to eligible clinics and hospitals so we can deliver affordable medical services to individuals most in need. That would seem to be aligned with the broader health care goals of the Obama administration."

But in a friend-of-the-court brief, the Justice Department said that only the federal government has the authority to enforce the drug-discount law, and that private lawsuits would interfere with that authority. Oral arguments in the case, Astra USA v. Santa Clara County, Calif., are scheduled for Jan. 19.

Asked to explain the administration's stance, a White House spokesman said, "We will let the brief speak for itself."

Several Democratic lawmakers expressed surprise at the Justice Department's position. "The administration had a chance to put health care reform into action by defending the discounted drug program," said Representative Sam Farr of California. "Instead, it chose to side with the pharmaceutical companies to preserve a loophole that overcharges providers and undermines the president's efforts to expand access to affordable health care."

A federal health official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was recounting lawyer-client discussions inside the government, said: "We really wanted to stand on the sidelines of this case. The Justice Department took the lead in solidifying the government's position because of a broader concern about the possible impact of the case beyond this one little program."

The drug-discount program was created in 1992 under the Public Health Service Act. The law directed the secretary of health and human services to sign agreements with the companies that set maximum prices for drugs sold to certain health care providers. They included community health centers; AIDS, tuberculosis and family-planning clinics; hospitals that serve large numbers of poor people; and children's hospitals.

Federal officials calculate the maximum price for each drug based on data that the manufacturers submit to the government.

The Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general found that drug manufacturers often overcharged clinics and hospitals over the last eight years but were rarely penalized by the government.

"In actual practice, manufacturers have been able to overcharge covered entities with impunity," said Ted Slafsky, executive director of Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access, which represents 600 hospitals in the drug-discount program.

For their part, the companies said the rules for calculating prices and discounts were "exceedingly complex and technical." They rejected the idea that there was "a single correct way" to calculate prices.

The companies have signed agreements with the Department of Health and Human Services promising to provide discounts to clinics and hospitals that serve large numbers of poor and uninsured patients. In their lawsuit, the counties contend that these agreements are contracts, and that as "intended beneficiaries" the counties can sue to enforce them based on "a bedrock principle" of contract law.

Such lawsuits "complement federal enforcement efforts," the counties said.

The Justice Department argues that the counties and clinics cannot sue because Congress has never given them that right.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled in favor of the clinics and hospitals in December 2009. The drug companies appealed, with support from the Justice Department, which is urging the Supreme Court to reverse that decision.

The administration's position is similar to that taken by the drug manufacturers. Allowing lawsuits is "a recipe for rampant confusion and inconsistency," the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said in its own friend-of-the-court brief.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said such lawsuits could "wreak havoc" and would have "dire and sweeping consequences" for other companies that do business with the government. "The scope of federal contracting is enormous," the chamber said.


5) Twitter Shines a Spotlight on Secret F.B.I. Subpoenas
January 9, 2011

THE news that federal prosecutors have demanded that the microblogging site Twitter provide the account details of people connected to the WikiLeaks case, including its founder, Julian Assange, isn't noteworthy because the government's request was unusual or intrusive. It is noteworthy because it became public.

Even as Web sites, social networking services and telephone companies amass more and more information about their users, the government - in the course of conducting inquiries - has been able to look through much of the information without the knowledge of the people being investigated.

For the Twitter request, the government obtained a secret subpoena from a federal court. Twitter challenged the secrecy, not the subpoena itself, and won the right to inform the people whose records the government was seeking. WikiLeaks says it suspects that other large sites like Google and Facebook have received similar requests and simply went along with the government.

This kind of order is far more common than one may think, and in the case of terrorism and espionage investigations the government can issue them without a court order. The government says more than 50,000 of these requests, known as national security letters, are sent each year, but they come with gag orders that prevent those contacted from revealing what the agency has been seeking or even the existence of the gag orders.

"It's a perfect example of how the government can use its broad powers to silence people," said Nicholas Merrill, who was the first person to file a constitutional challenge against the use of national security letters, authorized by the USA Patriot Act. Until August, he was forbidden to acknowledge the existence of a 2004 letter that the company he founded, the Calyx Internet Access Corporation, received from the F.B.I.

Mr. Merrill is now free to speak about the request, but part of the gag order remains in place, and he is still barred from discussing what information he had been asked to provide. As a result, he said, before he gives a talk he consults a six-page guide prepared by his lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union to be sure that he complies with the order to avoid risking a punishment of five years in prison.

The government cites national security as the reason the contents of the letters - even their existence - are kept secret. The F.B.I. is trying to prevent plots as they are being hatched, according to Valerie Caproni, the general counsel of the agency, and thus needs stealth.

In the case of a small Internet service provider like Calyx, which was located in downtown Manhattan and had hundreds of customers, even mentioning that the F.B.I. had been sniffing around could harm an investigation, she said, especially if "the target is antsy anyway."

Mr. Merrill, a 38-year-old from Brooklyn who studied computer science and philosophy, said he created Calyx in 1994 when it was "really pretty easy, there wasn't really any competition." His clients included "dozens of nonprofit organizations and alternative media outlets."

Mr. Merrill challenged the constitutionality of the letter he received in 2004, saying the request raised "red flags" of being politically motivated. As a result of his suit and two later ones, the law governing the letters has been overturned and then revised by Congress.

In 2007, the F.B.I.'s inspector general found that the agency had abused its own guidelines by including too many peripheral people in its searches. The letters now receive the "individualized scrutiny" of the agents who are filing them, Ms. Caponi said.

All sides agree that it has become significantly easier to challenge the letters' requests as well as their secrecy. At the moment, there are no new challenges in the court system, the government and the A.C.L.U. say.

The program, whose use has "ticked up" a bit in recent years, Ms. Caproni said, is humming along. She added, however, that the government had become more selective about the types of companies to which it sent letters. "All other things being the same, one of the things investigators think about is, 'Who are we serving this? Are they comfortable with this?' " she said. "Most of these N.S.L.'s are filed on large companies. Why would they want to disclose that? Most companies view it as good corporate citizenry."

One critic of the law, former Senator Russ Feingold, said in a statement that it was long past time for Congress "to rein in the use of national security letters."

"This is not a partisan issue," Mr. Feingold said, "it is about the legislative branch providing an adequate check on the executive branch. Republicans advocating limited government should take a close look at these statutes and consider supporting changes."

Mr. Merrill argues that the blanket gag orders have prevented a full public debate on the subject. He himself largely left the I.S.P. business in 2004, independent of his legal case, and only now has returned to hosting a couple of clients as part of a nonprofit project, the Calyx Institute, which aims to study how to protect consumers' privacy.

Regarding the news about Twitter, he wrote in an e-mail: "I commend Twitter's policy of notifying their customers of government requests for their private data and for their challenging and subsequently removing the gag order. This is a great example of the government's misuse of secrecy provisions and of exemplary privacy ethics on behalf of Twitter."

Ms. Caproni, who has testified before Congress about the program, said that it had been more than amply debated. "People at the A.C.L.U. and the press" think the letters are "a bigger deal than the companies."

To one of Mr. Merrill's A.CL.U. lawyers, Jameel Jaffer, the smooth operation of the system is a sign that it is not working. The privacy rights at stake are not those of the companies who hold the information, Mr. Jaffer said, but "about people whose records are held." And those people should be told, he said.

"People used to be the custodians of their own records, their own diaries. Now third parties are custodians of all that," he said. "Everything you do online is entrusted to someone else - unless you want to go completely off the grid, and I'm not even sure that is possible."


6) For Poor, Bail System Can Be an Obstacle to Freedom
January 9, 2011

Before George Zouvelos agrees to post someone's bail, a customer must put up cash, sign a 20-page contract and initial 86 separate paragraphs.

Those paragraphs are chock-full of fees: $250 if the defendant misses a weekly check-in; as much as $375 an hour for obscure tasks like bail consulting and research; and unspecified amounts if Mr. Zouvelos, a bail bondsman based in Manhattan, farms out tasks like obtaining court documents or delivering release papers to jail.

Then there are the thousands of dollars that Mr. Zouvelos can charge if he decides to revoke a bond and return a defendant to jail, as he did 89 times during a four-month period last year.

The common perception of how the bail-bond system operates is fairly straightforward: A bondsman bails a defendant out of jail. If that defendant misses a court appearance, the bondsman can "surrender" him - chase him down and haul him back to jail.

The reality is more troubling.

Vague laws and insufficient oversight have allowed some bondsmen in New York to return defendants to jail for questionable or unspecified reasons, and then withhold thousands of dollars to which they may not be entitled, according to lawyers, judges, state regulators and even some bondsmen.

Those cases turn the system on its head: Those who are supposed to give poor defendants a shot at freedom while their cases are pending are instead the ones locking them up and disenfranchising them further.

The laws "are open for exploitation," said James Carfora, a Long Island-based bail bondsman.

"They need to be more specific," he said. "If I bail a guy out today and I don't like him, I can put him back in jail, and it's O.K. To me, that's screwed up."

Complaints against bondsmen have risen in recent years, according to the New York State Insurance Department. Although the allegations may often involve only a thousand dollars, that sum can be the difference between freedom and detention for indigent defendants who make up most of bondsmen's clientele.

Over a four-year period that ended in mid-July, the department received 227 complaints against 43 bail-bond agents. But those figures may represent only a fraction of the actual grievances: People often do not know when a bondsman is violating their rights or where to file a complaint, experts say.

But the complaints have been alarming enough that the Insurance Department, which licenses bondsmen, is considering implementing new regulations intended to rein in agents who do things like place onerous restrictions on defendants, frequently surrender them, and deduct excessive fees from the cash collateral that clients are supposed to get back.

"Our current enforcement actions are more aggressive than in the past, but the regulations need to be enhanced to provide additional enforcement powers," said Steven Nachman, the head of the department's frauds and consumer services bureaus.

Justice Thomas A. Farber of State Supreme Court in Manhattan was so disturbed by the number of defendants that bondsmen were surrendering that he wrote a letter to the borough's administrative judge within the past year expressing his concern.

"It is a process and an industry that seems to elude effective regulation," said Timothy J. Murray, the executive director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, a Washington organization that advocates bail reform. "So much of the business transaction is not subject to the public view, nor to much in the way of scrutiny."

Bail is money that defendants give courts to hold in exchange for their freedom while their cases are pending. But thousands of defendants who lack the money to post bail turn to bondsmen, who charge a percentage of the bail amount and submit a bond to the court, promising to pay the bail if the defendant flees.

The bondsmen often take collateral - usually cash or property - that is supposed to be returned as long as a judge does not order the bail forfeited.

A more common complaint among defendants who pay the collateral in cash is that bondsmen keep some or all of it, deducting fees for unnecessary or invented services. Some bondsmen say the fees are for legitimate purposes like rearresting a defendant. For defendants who have been rearrested, the effects can be devastating: unless the collateral was returned, they often do not have enough money to pay for a new bond.

During a four-month period in 2010, Mr. Zouvelos sent back to jail at least 89 people whom he had bailed out, including some defendants who had not missed a single court appearance, said Vincent Conwell, one of Mr. Zouvelos's contract bounty hunters.

"I'd say 60 percent of the people I put back in jail I feel bad for putting them back," Mr. Conwell said. "You start thinking like, 'This guy really shouldn't be going back.' "

Mr. Zouvelos said his staff was now better at tracking cases, so he no longer had to surrender as many defendants.

The contract that Mr. Zouvelos requires customers to sign includes a charge of 15 percent of a client's bail amount if he rearrests the client - essentially giving himself a financial incentive to throw back in jail someone he has bailed out.

Mr. Zouvelos said a large part of the fees he charged went to vendors for things like locating, rearresting and transporting the clients. He said he did not keep any of the money.

He also defended his practice and the industry, saying that bail bondsmen take on a lot of financial risk and that he must do what he can to avoid having to pay the courts when his clients skip bail.

"By curtailing the activity and constantly monitoring the bonds," Mr. Zouvelos said, "it's mitigating loss. I take less collateral and give people a shot. Those are traditionally much riskier undertakings."

One of his clients, Annette George, said that in March, Mr. Zouvelos revoked her son's $15,000 bond and threw him back in jail. About two months earlier, she had given Mr. Zouvelos's company more than $5,000 in premium and collateral for her son, Travis Saunders, 20.

At a hearing in State Supreme Court in Manhattan the day after Mr. Saunders was sent back to jail, his lawyer said the bond company explained that it had surrendered Mr. Saunders because of new "police contact." But the judge, the prosecutor and the defense lawyer had no record of any new contact by the police with Mr. Saunders.

State laws do not require bondsmen to give a reason, and no one from Mr. Zouvelos's company was in court to explain. The judge kept Mr. Saunders in custody, setting a new bail of $3,500, and freeing Mr. Zouvelos from the bond.

Now, 10 months later, Ms. George said she still has not received the $4,150 in collateral she had given Mr. Zouvelos, and she has since sued him for it.

Mr. Zouvelos acknowledged that Ms. George's contract called for the collateral to be returned in 90 days, and he said he was not sure why she had not received it within that period. In any case, Mr. Zouvelos said, he was now holding on to the money because Ms. George might be responsible for paying his legal bills in what he characterized as her frivolous lawsuit.

Ms. George also broke Mr. Zouvelos's rules by filing a lawsuit, he said, because his contract stated that all disputes had to be settled through arbitration.

Since 2005, the Insurance Department has received about 60 complaints against Mr. Zouvelos and his company, Spartan Bail Bonds.

Last week, the department filed administrative charges against Mr. Zouvelos, saying among other things that he had charged improper fees and failed to return collateral and premium. The department has identified a dozen cases over a period of two and a half years in which Mr. Zouvelos received a total of more than $41,000 in collateral but returned only about $15,000 of it to clients. A hearing on the charges has been scheduled for next month.

Mr. Nachman, the head of fraud and consumer services, declined to comment on specific cases, but he said it was generally difficult to determine what fees were improper because the law allowed bondsmen to enter into private contracts with the people they bail out. In Mr. Zouvelos's case, the department has charged that he acted in an untrustworthy and incompetent manner.

Mr. Zouvelos pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor charges of possessing an unloaded shotgun and knife, and attempting to pass the weapons to someone else while the police were arresting him in his office. He was sentenced to 10 days of community service.

Another case in Manhattan illustrated how a bail-bond company could try to extract extra money from anyone associated with a bond.

In May, Affordable Bails, a company with seven offices in the New York area, posted a bond for Abdur Rashid Salaam, who had been arrested in Manhattan on grand larceny charges. Property and $5,000 were given as collateral on Mr. Salaam's behalf.

About a month later, Affordable Bails sent Mr. Salaam back to jail. Mr. Salaam's lawyer at the time, Gary G. Becker, said he had to argue with the company before it returned the $5,000, which Affordable Bails did not record on the bond affidavit filed in court, even though the law required that the collateral be listed.

When Affordable Bails returned the $5,000, an agent with the company demanded $10,000 in recovery fees from the two people whose signatures were on the bond: Mr. Salaam's daughter, Robinette Merritt, and a friend, James Greene. The bond company threatened them with jail, according to Ms. Merritt and Mr. Greene's former lawyer, Dawn Florio.

"I didn't understand what all these costs were for," Ms. Florio said, adding that Mr. Salaam "turned himself in" and "it wasn't like you had to go bounty hunting to get him."

Mr. Greene paid an additional $2,000, Ms. Florio said, and Affordable Bails stopped asking for more after she became involved.

Because Mr. Salaam had been surrendered, a judge set his new bail at $75,000, which Mr. Salaam has not posted. Lewis Lilla, an owner of Affordable Bails, declined to comment.

Mr. Becker wrote in an e-mail that he was troubled that "a defendant can be ordered imprisoned by a court based solely on the unsworn, untested word of a non-law-enforcement civilian, a civilian who stands to profit financially if the defendant is incarcerated." The lawyer added, "That is not due process of law."

Justice Michael J. Obus, the administrative judge in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, said he periodically received complaints from judges about seemingly improper bond revocations. But he said it was up to the department to respond to complaints of improper surrender.

"I really don't think we have much choice but to accept the defendant back if the bond company doesn't want to continue taking responsibility for it," Judge Obus said.


7) Ford Plans to Hire More Than 7,000 Workers
"The new hires would increase Ford's hourly payroll in the United States by about 15 percent but represent a fraction of the jobs eliminated in recent years. The company has about 42,000 workers at its American plants, down from 103,000 a decade ago...Some of the new workers will be paid so-called second-tier wages, under an agreement with the United Automobile Workers union. The deal allows the Detroit automakers to pay some new hires about $14 an hour, which is about what current workers earn; benefits also are reduced."
January 10, 2011

DETROIT - The Ford Motor Company said Monday that it planned to hire more than 7,000 workers in the next two years.

Ford, during a presentation at the Detroit auto show, said it would add 4,000 hourly jobs and 750 salaried positions this year and at least 2,500 hourly jobs in 2012.

"We have moved from fixing the fundamentals of the business to profitably growing globally," Ford's chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said.

Ford executives did not reveal where the jobs would be located. The company had already announced that it would hire 1,800 people this year at a plant in Louisville, Ky., and included those jobs in Monday's figure.

The new hires would increase Ford's hourly payroll in the United States by about 15 percent but represent a fraction of the jobs eliminated in recent years. The company has about 42,000 workers at its American plants, down from 103,000 a decade ago.

Ford's hiring plans come amid bullish forecasts for sales across the industry in the years ahead, after a miserable 2009 and a modestly improved 2010. Ford's domestic sales increased 15 percent in 2010, and its market share grew for the second consecutive year, an achievement it had not experienced since 1993.

Jeff Schuster, an analyst with J.D. Power & Associates, has projected sales would rise to 12.8 million vehicles in 2011 and 15 million in 2012 from 11.6 million last year. Ford and General Motors last week said they expect industrywide sales this year of up to 13.5 million.

The hiring would give Ford nearly as many hourly workers in the United States as G.M., which also made drastic cuts in recent years and now has 53,000.

Some of the new workers will be paid so-called second-tier wages, under an agreement with the United Automobile Workers union. The deal allows the Detroit automakers to pay some new hires about $14 an hour, which is about what current workers earn; benefits also are reduced.

G.M. recently said it was hiring 1,000 engineers, but Mark Reuss, the president of G.M.'s North American operations, said Monday that the company was waiting to see how the economy and automotive market improved before adding a significant number of plant workers.

"There's a lot of uncertainty about the permanent nature of people's jobs," Mr. Reuss said. "We're going to let the market get in line with production and demand."

Both Ford and G.M. earned large profits in 2010, largely because of cutting labor costs and other expenses. Through the first three quarters, earnings were $6.4 billion at Ford and $4.2 billion at G.M. Neither has revealed their financial results for the fourth quarter.


8) Resolution on Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning
Resolution adopted by unanimous vote at the regular delegates meeting of the Labor Council, held in San Francisco, California on January 10, 2011.
VIA Email

Be it resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council declares our firm opposition to the efforts of the U.S. and other governments and corporations to criminalize, financially destroy and shut down Wikileaks and to silence, jail and prosecute Julian Assange as well as Bradley Manning. Documents released by Wikileaks have exposed the criminal record of the US government in violating international agreements and committing war crimes against people throughout the world including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan .

Further, be it resolved that we urge affiliated unions to publicly reaffirm and defend our fundamental right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the ability to freely and openly expose and criticize the illegal, corrupt and undemocratic practices of governments and corporations -- in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Council will also send a letter to our Congressional representatives and to both US Senators to make them aware of our position and to call for them to join us in opposing the persecution of Wikileaks, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. The Council will also request that the International Red Cross conduct an investigation into how Bradley Manning is being treated while incarcerated.


9) Texas school police ticketing students as young as 6
By Liz Goodwin
Mon Jan 10, 11:33 am ET

School police officers in Texas are doling out more tickets to children as young as 6, who under past disciplinary practices would have been sent to the principal's office instead, according to a report by a Texas nonprofit.

"Disrupting class, using profanity, misbehaving on a school bus, student fights, and truancy once meant a trip to the principal's office. Today, such misbehavior results in a Class C misdemeanor ticket and a trip to court for thousands of Texas students and their families each year," says the Appleseed Texas report (PDF). It examined data from 22 of the state's largest school districts and eight municipal courts.

Over six years, school police issued 1,000 tickets to elementary school children in 10 school districts.

The study found that where a child attends school -- not the severity of the allegation -- was the best indicator of whether the child would be ticketed instead of sent to the principal's office. Black students and special education students were overrepresented among those ticketed.

Most Texas schools have police officers, and that staffing is on the rise. The most common infractions earning misdemeanor tickets: disorderly conduct and leaving school without permission.

Appleseed recommends that Texas ban ticketing for children under 14.

There's a graph from the report showing how increased police presence resulted in increased ticketing over time in five districts at this


10) WikiLeaks Founder Said to Fear 'Illegal Rendition' to U.S.
January 11, 2011

LONDON - Lawyers acting for Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks antisecrecy group, said on Tuesday they would argue against a demand for his extradition to Sweden on the grounds that he might subsequently face "illegal rendition" to the United States, risking imprisonment at Guantánamo Bay, or even the death penalty.

The assertion came in defense documents released after Mr. Assange made a brief appearance in a British high-security court for a largely procedural hearing concerning his resistance to Swedish demands for his extradition following allegations of sexual misconduct.

The documents also for the first time publicly named the two WikiLeaks's volunteers who alleged that Mr. Assange forced sex on them without using a condom in Sweden last August, in one case while the woman, according to her account, was asleep. In keeping with Sweden's policy of anonymity for those involved with rape cases, they had previously only been referred to as Ms. A and Ms. W.

Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for the Swedish prosecutors' office, could not immediately say whether the disclosure constituted a crime, but said it was possible under certain circumstances and that investigations would take place. Jennifer Robinson, one of Mr. Assange's London lawyers, said that the inclusion of the women's names in the defense documents was an oversight that would be corrected.

The court hearing set the date for the extradition hearing as Feb. 7 and 8. The sexual accusations, which Mr. Assange denies, have overlapped with WikiLeaks's publication of about 2,000 State Department documents from a trove of some 250,000 in its possession, exposing confidential or secret communications to broad public scrutiny on its Web site and in newspapers including The New York Times along with The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El País.

"Our work with WikiLeaks continues unabated and we are stepping up our publishing for matters relating to Cablegate and other materials," Mr. Assange said after Tuesday's 10-minute hearing, using the organization's term for State Department documents. "Those will shortly be appearing through our newspaper partners throughout the world," he said, without elaborating on the content of the threatened disclosures. In recent weeks the flow of new documents has slowed to a trickle.

Mr. Assange was jailed in Britain in early December after a Swedish prosecutor issued a European arrest warrant seeking his extradition to be questioned about the sexual accusations. He was released on $370,000 bail nine days later, on Dec. 16.

In a 35-page outline of their case against extradition, released on the WikiLeaks Web site, Mr. Assange's lawyers said: "It is submitted that there is a real risk that, if extradited to Sweden, the United States will seek his extradition and/or illegal rendition to the U.S.A., where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantánamo Bay or elsewhere."

"Indeed if Mr. Assange were rendered to the U.S.A. without assurances that the death penalty would not be carried out, there is a real risk that he could be made subject to the death penalty." The document cited statements by senior American politicians calling for the execution of those who leaked the State Department documents.

Mr. Assange's lawyers released the outline of the defense case within minutes of Tuesday's court hearing, saying they would also argue that Swedish law did not permit their client to be extradited on "the mere suspicion" that he had committed offenses. The lawyers argued that Swedish prosecutors had said publicly they were seeking his extradition solely to question him about the accusations of sexual misconduct.

The defense also said Mr. Assange had been "the victim of a pattern of illegal or corrupt behavior" by Swedish prosecutors who were alleged to have made a series of procedural and other errors in their handling of the case.

Previous hearings in the case have been held in central London courts. But the hearing on Tuesday was set for the Belmarsh high-security court in the southeast of the city, which is more usually associated with terrorism cases. Britain's court service said the move was designed to accommodate reporters and camera crews who had scrimmaged for position outside and inside the other courts.

Wearing a gray duffle coat over a dark suit and tie, Mr. Assange arrived with his British lawyer, Mark Stephens. Once in court, he made thumbs-up gestures toward associates in the public gallery and seemed relaxed.

The WikiLeaks disclosures have incensed officials in Washington, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. American Justice Department officials are seeking to determine whether they can bring charges against him.

Prosecutors have gone to court to demand records of the Twitter account activity of several people linked to WikiLeaks, including Mr. Assange, according to the group and a copy of a subpoena made public late last Friday.

The subpoena is the first public evidence of a criminal investigation, announced last month by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., that has been urged on by members of Congress of both parties but is fraught with legal and political difficulties for the Obama administration.

It was denounced by WikiLeaks, which has so far made public only about 1 percent of the quarter-million diplomatic cables in its possession but has threatened to post them all on the Web if criminal charges are brought.

For some of Mr. Assange's supporters the secrecy issues have become conflated with the court hearings in London since he was arrested last month.

When Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, was released from jail last month, his bail conditions require him to stay in Ellingham Hall, a luxurious mansion on a 650-acre estate in eastern England, wear an electronic tag and report to local police officers every day. He has described the conditions as "hi-tech house arrest."

During his stay there, he has signed deals to publish an autobiography that, he told a British newspaper, might be worth $1.7 million.

On Tuesday, the court agreed for him to move to central London for two days during the full extradition hearing next month. He will be staying at the Frontline Club, founded by Vaughan Smith, the owner of Ellingham Hall.

Ravi Somaiya reported from London, and Alan Cowell from Paris.


11) Amid Rioting, Tunisia Closes Universities
January 10, 2011

CAIRO - The Tunisian government ordered the closing of all schools and universities in the country on Monday until further notice in an attempt to quell escalating riots over poverty and unemployment.

At least 14 people have died in the riots, according to the official Tunisian news agency, which also reported the school closings. Opponents of the government contend that riot police officers have shot and killed many more since the riots broke out three weeks ago.

President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, in a televised address, promised to create more jobs, but also to stamp out any violence. He blamed unspecified enemies abroad for the rioting.

"The events were the work of masked gangs that attacked at night government buildings and even civilians inside their homes in a terrorist act that cannot be overlooked," he said, according to Al Jazeera.

Citing criticism from the State Department for its handling of the riots, the Tunisian government summoned the American ambassador to express its "astonishment," Tunisian state television reported.

A State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, described the meeting as "a follow-up discussion" with the Tunisian government. "We, again, affirmed our concerns not only about the ongoing violence, the importance of respecting freedom of expression, but also the importance of the availability of information," Mr. Crowley said.

The riots began about three weeks ago after a 26-year-old man with a college degree, in despair at his dismal prospects, committed suicide by setting himself on fire. He had been trying to sell a container of fruits and vegetables, and the police confiscated his merchandise because he had no permit.

His self-immolation unleashed the pent-up anger of Tunisia's educated and underemployed youth, and soon that of others as well.

On Monday, security forces surrounded a university where hundreds of students were trying to protest, according to Reuters. The rioting showed signs of spreading from provincial towns toward the cities of the Mediterranean coast which are central to the tourist industry, Reuters reported.

The riots are believed to have spread in part through social-media Web sites, and the Tunisian government reportedly directed Internet service providers to hack into the accounts of individual users. As the riots mounted over the weekend, the State Department expressed concern about intrusions into the privacy of Tunisian customers of American companies like Facebook, Yahoo and Google.

The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, urged restraint and respect for freedom of expression.

Since taking power in a bloodless coup more than two decades ago, President Ben Ali has enforced strict censorship and tolerated little dissent. Although Tunis markets itself as a peaceful tourist haven, it earns dismal marks from international human rights groups.

Official figures put unemployment at about 14 percent, with much higher levels among young people.


12) Charges Dropped Against British Protesters
"But six of the activists refused to admit to planning the break-in and were prepared to argue that the undercover officer, Mark Kennedy, had acted as an agent provocateur and had 'actively encouraged participation in the action,' according to papers drawn up by their lawyers and cited by The Guardian. Mr. Kennedy was said by The Guardian to have renounced his role last month and to have told lawyers for the defendants that he was prepared to testify on their behalf. The newspaper said Mr. Kennedy had quit the police force and moved abroad, fearing retaliation against himself and his family."
January 10, 2011

LONDON - The unmasking of an undercover police officer who spent seven years infiltrating environmental protest groups in Britain and more than 20 other countries caused the collapse on Monday of a trial involving activists accused of planning to occupy and immobilize Britain's largest coal-fired power station.

The incident put a halt to a controversial case that began with the largest number of pre-emptive arrests of political activists ever made in Britain. It cast a harsh spotlight on an elite undercover unit at Scotland Yard, just as Britain prepares for an expected wave of protests against a harsh government austerity drive, with critics pressing police commanders to improve their intelligence on groups that have turned some of the early student protests violent.

The trial, scheduled to start on Monday in the Midlands city of Nottingham, ended precipitately when prosecutors said they had decided to submit no evidence against 6 defendants charged with being part of a group of 114 arrested in April 2009 on suspicion of planning to occupy the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, immobilize coal conveyor belts and scale the station's chimney. The prosecutors gave no reasons for their action, but it came 12 hours after The Guardian revealed the role of the undercover officer.

The protesters were accused of planning to halt power production at the plant for a week, stopping operations that would have pumped 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Twenty of them admitted to the charge and were convicted after failing to persuade a jury that their actions were justified under the principle of "lawful excuse." They said they had been acting to prevent the greater crimes of death and serious injury brought about by power station emissions, which many scientists believe have contributed to long-term climate change.

But six of the activists refused to admit to planning the break-in and were prepared to argue that the undercover officer, Mark Kennedy, had acted as an agent provocateur and had "actively encouraged participation in the action," according to papers drawn up by their lawyers and cited by The Guardian.

Mr. Kennedy was said by The Guardian to have renounced his role last month and to have told lawyers for the defendants that he was prepared to testify on their behalf. The newspaper said Mr. Kennedy had quit the police force and moved abroad, fearing retaliation against himself and his family.

Officials at Scotland Yard and at the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, the agency responsible for undercover police operations, declined to comment on the case. The Guardian's account, published on the newspaper's Web site and in its Monday editions, said that Mr. Kennedy had been assigned to infiltrate various protest groups, including environmentalist ones, beginning in 2003, when he was said to have been 33.

It said he was given a new name, Mark Stone, and equipped with a false passport and driver's license. He also grew his hair long and sported earrings and tattoos. The paper said he traveled widely at home and abroad, chaining himself to the gates of a British nuclear power station, halting a coal train, scaling a dam in Iceland and volunteering to be one of two climbers who would chain himself to the coal conveyor belt at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.

The paper said he had become a popular figure at almost every environmental protest in Britain, renowned for two things that were uncommon in those circles - providing transport for protesters, including a heavy truck for the coal station protest, and having generous amounts of money, which the paper said earned him the nickname "Flash Stone."

The Scotland Yard unit to which Mr. Kennedy belonged grew out of events in 1968, when a protest against the Vietnam war in London's Grosvenor Square, site of the United States Embassy, turned violent, and outstripped police efforts to control it. Mr. Kennedy, according to The Guardian, had been a policeman for nine years when he was recruited to the unit.

The case had already taken an unusual turn, when the 20 already convicted were given minimal sentences last week by a judge who took a strong stand in their support. The judge, Jonathan Teare, handing out sentences that ranged from conditional discharges to periods of unpaid community work, called the defendants "decent men and women with a genuine concern for others," and said, "I have no doubt that each of you acted with the highest possible motives."

Mr. Kennedy's role in the affair was uncovered in October, according to The Guardian, when some of those involved in the environmental movement discovered a passport in his real name, and uncovered evidence that he had been a policeman since 1994. In a secretly made video released by the protesters, Mr. Kennedy expressed his remorse. "I hate myself so much, I have betrayed so many people," he said.


13) Labor Board Overturns Vote by Sandwich Shop Workers
January 10, 2011

The National Labor Relations Board on Monday announced a settlement that sets aside an Oct. 22 election in which workers at 10 Jimmy John's sandwich shops in the Minneapolis area voted 87 to 85 against joining the Industrial Workers of the World.

The labor board announced the settlement after the union filed more than a dozen charges against Miklin Enterprises, which runs the 10 restaurants, accusing the company of breaking the law in fighting the organizing drive, one of the few unionization campaigns in the fast-food industry.

The union accused Miklin of illegally denying a raise to a union supporter, improperly interrogating employees about unionization and taking down union literature from bulletin boards. The union also claimed that the company had improperly asserted that union supporters sabotaged a restaurant refrigerator when there was no proof of union involvement.

In the settlement, Miklin promised not to engage in any of those activities in the future and not to enforce rules more tightly against pro-union employees. In the settlement, the company did not admit to violating the National Labor Relations Act, and the labor board said its approval of the settlement did not mean that the employer had violated the act.

The settlement allows the Industrial Workers of the World to ask for another unionization vote within 18 months, with the employer promising to let the vote take place within 30 days of the request.

The I.W.W., known as the Wobblies, was a powerful far-left union a century ago, but now is far smaller and weaker and often seeks to organize groups of workers that other unions overlook.

Officials from Miklin Enterprises said that the board's lawyers had conducted a thorough investigation and that "approximately half the allegations" including those of illegal firings "were either found by the agency to have no merit or were withdrawn by the union."

Miklin said it could have attended a hearing to contest the charges, but "we believe that investing in an expensive process to determine a final outcome was not a prudent use of company assets, despite our belief that we had strong defenses to the claims."

Micah Buckley-Farlee, a delivery driver at Jimmy John's who supports the union, said, "There can now be no doubt that our rights were severely violated, but we're willing to put the past behind us."

The pro-union workers complained of earning the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or slightly above that, working unpredictable and often short shifts and having to face the anger of managers when they called in sick.

The labor board said the settlement agreement would be posted in work areas and be read to employees either by the company president or by a labor board employee in the presence of the company president.


14) Judge Rules New York City Can Disclose Names in Teacher Rankings; Union Plans to Appeal
January 10, 2011

A Manhattan judge ruled Monday that the city may release performance rankings of thousands of teachers to the public, denying a request by the teachers union to keep the teachers' names confidential.

But the public is unlikely to see the rankings soon. The union, the United Federation of Teachers, said Monday that it would appeal the ruling, and lawyers for the city said the rankings would be withheld pending the outcome.

The rankings, known as Teacher Data Reports, grade more than 12,000 of the city's 80,000 public school teachers based on how much progress their students made on standardized tests. They were developed four years ago as a pilot program to improve instruction; this year they have become a factor in tenure decisions. Several news organizations, including The New York Times, have requested access to the data.

Because the rankings are based on limited snapshots of student work, many education experts caution against making them the sole or primary measure of teachers. In practice, the rankings of many teachers in the city have varied widely from year to year, and their performance generally falls within a broad range.

The city's Department of Education agrees that the rankings should not be used in isolation, but it has defended them as the best available quantitative measure of teacher performance, particularly for teachers who rank consistently high or low.

Some experts, however, like Daniel Koretz, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, question that assertion, noting that the rankings are based on state tests that have been marred by score inflation.

In her decision, the Manhattan judge, Cynthia S. Kern of State Supreme Court, wrote that the union had failed to prove that the city's decision to release the names was "arbitrary and capricious," the high bar for preventing their release under state disclosure laws.

"This information is of interest to parents, students, taxpayers and the public generally," Justice Kern wrote.

Jesse I. Levine, a lawyer for the city, said the court had "affirmed the city's belief that the public has a right to this information under New York's Freedom of Information Law."

"We are disappointed," the union president, Michael Mulgrew, said. "The reports, which are largely based on discredited state tests, have huge margins of error and are filled with inaccuracies, will only serve to mislead parents looking for real information."


15) Judges Berate Bank Lawyers in Foreclosures
"In numerous opinions, judges have accused lawyers of processing shoddy or even fabricated paperwork in foreclosure actions when representing the banks."
January 10, 2011

With judges looking ever more critically at home foreclosures, they are reaching beyond the bankers to heap some of their most scorching criticism on the lawyers.

In numerous opinions, judges have accused lawyers of processing shoddy or even fabricated paperwork in foreclosure actions when representing the banks.

Judge Arthur M. Schack of New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn has taken aim at an upstate lawyer, Steven J. Baum, referring to one filing as "incredible, outrageous, ludicrous and disingenuous."

But New York judges are also trying to take the lead in fixing the mortgage mess by leaning on the lawyers. In November, a judge ordered Mr. Baum's firm to pay nearly $20,000 in fines and costs related to papers that he said contained numerous "falsities." The judge, Scott Fairgrieve of Nassau County District Court, wrote that "swearing to false statements reflects poorly on the profession as a whole."

More broadly, the courts in New York State, along with Florida, have begun requiring that lawyers in foreclosure cases vouch for the accuracy of the documents they present, which prompted a protest from the New York bar. The requirement, which is being considered by courts in other states, could open lawyers to disciplinary actions that could harm or even end careers.

Stephen Gillers, an expert in legal ethics at New York University, agreed with Judge Fairgrieve that the involvement of lawyers in questionable transactions could damage the overall reputation of the legal profession, "which does not fare well in public opinion" throughout history.

"When the consequence of a lawyer plying his trade is the loss of someone's home, and it turns out there are documents being given to the courts that have no basis in reality, the profession gets a very big black eye," Professor Gillers said.

The issue of vouching for documents will undoubtedly meet resistance by lawyers elsewhere as it has in New York.

Anne Reynolds Copps, the chairwoman of the real property law section of the New York State bar, said, "We had a lot of concerns, because it seemed to paint attorneys as being the problem." Lawyers feared they would be responsible for a bank's mistakes. "They are relying on a client, or the client's employees, to provide the information on which they are basing the documents," she said.

The role of lawyers is under scrutiny in the 23 states where foreclosures must be reviewed by a court. The situation has become especially heated for high-volume firms whose practices mirror the so-called robo-signing of some financial institutions; in these cases, documents were signed without sufficient examination or proper notarization.

In the most publicized example, David J. Stern, a lawyer whose Florida firm has been part of an estimated 20 percent of the foreclosure actions in the state, has been accused of filing sloppy and even fraudulent mortgage paperwork. Major institutions have dropped the firm, which has been the subject of several lawsuits, and 1,200 of the 1,400 people once at the firm are out of work.

The Florida attorney general's office is conducting a civil investigation of Mr. Stern's firm and two others.

"There's been no determination" in a court that Mr. Stern or his employees "did wrong things, said Jeffrey Tew, Mr. Stern's lawyer, adding that the impact was nevertheless devastating.

"There are groups in society that everybody likes to hate," Mr. Tew added. "Now foreclosure lawyers are on the list."

Such concerns have, in recent months, brought a sharp focus on activities in New York State, and in particular on the practice of Mr. Baum, a lawyer in Amherst, outside Buffalo. Judges have cited his firm for what they call slipshod work that, in some cases, was followed by the dismissal of foreclosure actions.

One case involved Sunny D. Eng, a former manager of computer systems on Wall Street. He and his wife, who has cancer, stopped paying the mortgage on their Holtsville, N.Y., home after Mr. Eng's Internet services business foundered. The mortgage was originally held by the HTFC Corporation, but the foreclosure notice came from Wells Fargo, a bank that the Engs had no relationship with. They hired an experienced foreclosure defense lawyer on Long Island, Craig Robins. The court ultimately ruled in favor of Mr. Eng.

"You want to call it God, you can call it God," Mr. Eng said. "You want to call it luck, you can call it luck. We just followed the system, and thank God the system worked."

Through a spokesman, Mr. Baum said, "The foreclosure process in New York State is extremely complex and subject to extensive judicial review. We believe this review respects the due process of anyone who challenges a foreclosure. Consumer activists and attorneys representing homeowners have their own agenda in this process, including degrading the legal work we conduct on behalf of our clients by using terms like 'foreclosure mill,' which I find personally and professionally insulting."

He added, "What is important now is that all parties attempt to work together to resolve issues amicably. The barrage of accusations and litigation does little to help the underlying problems."

Cases across the nation like Mr. Eng's have led New York's judicial system to take a hard look at the 80,000 pending foreclosures in the state and demand that the paperwork be sound, said the state's chief judge, Jonathan Lippman. "Knowing what we know, our only option - at least from my perspective - is to turn to the lawyers who are officers of the court and say, 'You'd better go to your clients and find out if these cases are real,' " he said.

The court devised a two-page affirmation to be signed by lawyers in foreclosure actions saying they had reviewed the documents and had "confirmed the factual accuracy" of any allegations with the clients.

Ann Pfau, deputy chief administrative judge for New York State, who has worked directly with the state bar to carry out the plan, said, "We need to know that this is a court process that has some integrity."

Judge Pfau said, "If you can't get good information, you shouldn't be filing the cases in the first place."

To address some lawyer concerns, the judiciary issued a modified version of the affirmation in November but said that the alterations were minor. In the end, the lawyers are vouching for their filing, Judge Pfau said. "They are absolutely still on the hook."

While lawyers are being implicated as part of the problem, they should also be part of the solution, said Stephen P. Younger, the president of the New York State Bar Association, which has not taken an overall position on the foreclosure matter. Foreclosure defense lawyers, he noted, have led court proceedings to throw out flawed cases.

"The real problem is that there are thousands and thousands of people who are unrepresented by lawyers," Mr. Younger said.


16) 200,000 Pounds of Beef Sent to Prisons Is Recalled
January 11, 2011

Filed at 1:13 p.m. EST

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) - More than 200,000 pounds of ground beef products sent to prisons in Oregon and California are being recalled after an inspection found them may be spoiled.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says products from One Great Burger in Elizabeth, N.J., were discolored and smelled wrong.

The products came in 20 pound boxes of Onegreat Hamburgers, with the item number 02044 and the establishment number 34575. The products have packed-on dates between July and November 2010 and were distributed to institutions in California and Oregon.

One Great Burger spokesman Frank Tobin says the beef was distributed to the prisons. He says none was sent to retailers.

The Agriculture Department can answer food safety questions from consumers online at or by phone at (888) 674-6854 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST.


17) (Please Close My PayPal Account)
January 7, 2011
OPEN LETTER (by U.S. Mail) TO :
Jeffrey D. Jordan, President
2211 North First Street
San Jose, CA 95131
By Daniel Stone
VIA Email

Dear Mr. Jordan,

I know it slipped your mind just what kind of political system we live in, so I am writing this letter to remind you. We live in a democracy, yes, that's right, d-e-m-o-c-r-a-c-y . . . Well, what that means is, is that you don't have to do whatever the government tells you to do, if it's not warranted. This is in keeping with the Nuremberg principles of disobeying illegal orders. For instance, if the state dept. tells you that WikiLeaks is an illegal outfit, and that therefore you must close your accounts with them, instead of just doing what they say, like a lap dog, you must demand they prove that WikiLeaks has done something illegal. You must question the state dept., and you must seek other, independent information. If the state dept. refuses to provide evidence, then you tell them to take a long walk on a short plank. If they give you any trouble, well, you have a bank of lawyers, don't you? You have the U.S. Constitution, don't you? The Bill of Rights, etc., etc.? Make the government prove that IT is a democracy.

You (PayPal) have stated that WikiLeaks was in violation of your terms of service "which states that our payment service cannot be used for any . . . illegal activity." But WikiLeaks has done nothing illegal, and you know it. Why don't you ignore the manufactured hysteria against WikiLeaks and stand up to the u.s. government. By dropping WikiLeaks as a client because the state dept. told you Wikileaks was performing illegal activities, you have proven yourself to be simply a pawn of "might-makes-right", and an enemy of a free and open and joyous society.

If you let the government get away with pressuring you to close out an organization it doesn't like, then what is to stop the state from pressuring other corporations to take similar actions? Your nauseatingly obsequious behavior may have a boomerang effect.

PayPal is a real convenience for me and others, but I will choose principle over convenience, and respectfully request that you remove me from PayPal until such time as you welcome WikiLeaks back. If I haven't been removed by January 15, 2011, I will close my PayPal account myself.

In exercising your own right of free association in this particular case, you have betrayed the larger principle of opposing the state when it wishes to crush dissent and halt the dissemination of information. The mainstream media has been grossly delinquent in providing the facts and information needed by the public to be well-informed. The American people are and have been suffering a monumental "Information Famine" at the hands of our "Out-of-sight - Out-of-mind" media for at least the past ten years, and WikiLeaks partially has filled that gaping void.

You can undo most of the damage you have done by publicly refusing to be a corporate arm of the state, by accepting WikiLeaks back as a client.


s/ Daniel H. Stone

-- It is not illegal to expose an illegal war. Support Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks !!

-- An asylum for the sane would be empty in America. - George Bernard Shaw

-- It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class - except congress.
- Mark Twain

-- 30 million christianist fundamentalists (probably the largest voting bloc in the world) voted for bush, war and occupation in 2004, about as far away from a Christian approach to other people as it is possible to get. As Chris Hedges says, "The gospels are the one book the [christianist] fundamentalists know nothing about."

- The Palestinian intifada is a war of national liberation. We Israelis enthusiastically chose to become a colonialist society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities ... we established an apartheid regime.
- Michael Ben-Yair, Israeli attorney general in the1990s, quoted in The Guardian (U.K.), April 11, 2002


18) Nine Years Later: The Political Prisoners of Guantanamo
By Andy Worthington
Tuesday 11 January 2011

Political prisoners? Surely, that can't be right, can it? Surely, it's only dictatorships in far-flung corners of the world who hold political prisoners, and not the United States of America?

Sadly, no. As the "War on Terror" prison established by President Bush begins its tenth year of operations, and as it begins to be forgotten that President Obama swept into office issuing an executive order promising to close the prison within a year, but failed spectacularly to do so, the bleak truth is that, for a majority of the 173 men held at Guantanamo, their chances of being released, or of receiving anything resembling justice, have receded to such an extent in the last two years that most face indefinite detention without charge or trial and may still be in Guantanamo a year from now, two years from now, or even five, ten or twenty years from now.

The key to understanding how we reached this grim impasse two years into Barack Obama's presidency is the review of all the prisoners' cases that was conducted by the Guantanamo Review Task Force, a sober and careful collection of 60 career officials and lawyers from various government departments and the intelligence agencies, who reviewed all the cases throughout 2009 and issued recommendations a year ago regarding the "disposition" of the remaining prisoners.

Although the Task Force's appraisal was infected with credulity regarding the quality of the Bush administration's supposed evidence against the men (which is largely unreliable, as it was extracted under duress and torture), and the members were desperate not to make any mistakes by releasing men who might then prove to be dangerous, the Task Force nevertheless cleared 89 of the remaining 173 prisoners for release.

That's an impressive figure, considering that it is rarely mentioned in the mainstream media that the government itself has conceded that it no longer wishes to hold over half of the remaining prisoners, but, a year after the Task Force issued its report, these men are still held, and it is this failure - and the explanations provided for it - that lead me to conclude that it is appropriate to describe them as political prisoners.

Of the 89 men, 58 are Yemenis, part of the largest national group at Guantanamo, consisting of 89 men in total. Just 23 Yemenis have been freed throughout Guantanamo's long history, for a variety of reasons, but primarily because the Saudis, held in similar numbers but largely released in 2006 and 2007, had a government which is a closer ally of the US than Yemen, was prepared to argue more aggressively on their behalf and was also able to create a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center to re-educate the men on their return and to provide them with support and financial assistance to reintegrate into Saudi society.

Nevertheless, the Task Force approved 58 of the Yemenis for release (or, to use the careful language of lawyers, approved them for transfer). There was, however, a caveat. Twenty-eight were approved for immediate release, but 30 others were designated in a special category of their own, who "should not be transferred to Yemen in the near future," and should be held in "conditional" detention - a novel category of detention - until "the security situation improves."

While it could be argued that the "conditional" detention of these 30 men made them political prisoners a year ago, developments on Christmas Day 2009 ensured that the other 28 cleared Yemenis would also be held as political prisoners as well. The trigger for the administration's refusal to honor the Task Force's findings regarding these 28 men was the failed plane bomb plot of a young Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. When it was discovered that he had been recruited in Yemen, President Obama capitulated to a wave of unprincipled hysteria by announcing a moratorium on the release of any more Yemenis from Guantanamo, a moratorium which still stands a year later, which shows no sign of being abandoned and which, by subjecting the men in question to collective punishment, or guilt by nationality, ensures that all 58 of the cleared Yemenis can legitimately be regarded as political prisoners.

The other 31 men cleared for release by the Task Force are still held because, for the most part, they cannot be repatriated as they would face torture or other ill treatment in their home countries, which include China, Libya, Syria and Tunisia. To its credit, the Obama administration has found new homes in 15 countries for 36 prisoners in a similar situation, but as the pool of willing countries dwindles, it will become harder for the US government to refute allegations that they, too, are political prisoners, held only because the country responsible for unjustly detaining them in the first place - the United States - has refused to accept its own responsibility to offer them new homes, resisting calls to do so - by a district court judge and by White House counsel Greg Craig - in the Justice Department, in the DC Circuit Court, in Congress and in the Oval Office.

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Of the other men, 33 were recommended for trials by the Task Force, but the administration has backed away from proposals to try them in federal court, because of opposition by Congress, or in the military commission trial system at Guantanamo, because of opposition from liberals and progressives.

I have no sympathy for the administration's problems with the discredited commissions, which should never have been revived after Bush left office, especially because the lowest point in their tawdry history was reached in October last year, when the former child soldier Omar Khadr accepted a plea deal in which he confessed to "war crimes" invented by Congress. These purported to criminalize his participation in a firefight with US soldiers in Afghanistan that led to his capture in July 2002, but the plea deal was met with such disdain around the world that the Obama administration is apparently unwilling to proceed with any further trials at Guantanamo.

Compounding this problem is the administration's refusal to press ahead with the federal court trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks, which was announced by Attorney General Eric Holder in November 2009. By failing to proceed with this plan, the administration allowed critics in Congress the opportunity to include a provision banning the transfer of any Guantanamo prisoner to the US mainland to face a trial in a military spending bill passed before Christmas and when, this week, the president refused to veto the bill, or to issue a signing statement disagreeing with it, the 33 men proposed for trials were consigned instead to indefinite detention without charge or trial, meaning that they, too, can realistically be regarded as political prisoners.

The last group of prisoners (leaving aside the three who are held because they lost their trial by military commission, or accepted a plea deal) are 48 men explicitly recommended for indefinite detention without charge or trial by the Task Force, on the basis that they are too dangerous to release, but that the information used to justify their detention would not stand up to scrutiny in a court of law.

I should hardly need to explain that this recommendation by the Task Force is fundamentally unacceptable, not only because it perpetuates the very system of arbitrary detention initiated by the Bush administration, which was deliberately designed to subvert domestic and international laws and treaties, but also because, if the government's supposed evidence would not stand up in a court of law, then it is not evidence at all, but rather hearsay and unverifiable information contained in intelligence reports, which is fundamentally tainted by the torture and abuse to which prisoners were subjected.

The proposal also sidelines the District Court in Washington, DC, where the prisoners' habeas corpus petitions are ongoing and where 57 cases have been decided to date, with 38 won by the prisoners. In many of these 38 cases, the judges have exposed exactly these kinds of problems with the government's supposed evidence. In addition, in the majority of the 19 cases won by the government, the men who have lost their petitions and who, in all probability, are among the 48 men designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial, are nothing more than foot soldiers for the Taliban in the military conflict with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, which morphed into a War on Terror after the US-led invasion in October 2001.

If anything, these men should be held as prisoners of war, not held up as some sorts of terrorists, but on this problem, the executive, Congress and the judiciary are all silent, even though it reveals a fundamental problem with the entire detention system invented under George W. Bush and maintained under Obama.

The legislation that supposedly justifies the prisoners' detention is the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress the week after the 9/11 attacks, which authorized the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

President Obama continues to rely on the AUMF, even though it fails to distinguish between al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and even though it perpetuates the Bush administration's ruinous notion that, instead of criminal suspects and prisoners of war protected by the Geneva Conventions, there is a third category of prisoner - what Bush called "enemy combatants," and what Obama calls "alien unprivileged enemy belligerents," as in the case of Omar Khadr - when this, clearly, should not be accepted at all. In Obama's determination to continue with this dark folly, administration officials recently announced that the president is close to signing an executive order formalizing the indefinite detention of these 48 men, but providing them with some sort of regular review process to ascertain whether they can be released.

This sounds better than no review process at all, but the truth is that these 48 men are also political prisoners, held as a result of the administration's refusal to accept that, if soldiers are to be detained, it should be as prisoners of war and that, if men are suspected of terrorist activities, they should be tried rather than arbitrarily detained forever.

Until these problems are solved and the Guantanamo prisoners are either tried or released, President Obama's contribution to this bitter legacy of the Bush administration is to be presiding over the unthinkable: a prison where, however the prisoners have been designated, they are almost all held in indefinite detention and are, indeed, political prisoners.

It is time for those who believe in justice to call for this miserable situation to be brought to an end.


19) Protests at Fort Campbell Over Deployment of Wounded Soldier
By Sarah Lazare & Ryan Harvey
Monday 10 January 2011

A soldier at Fort Campbell, Kentucky is being forced to return to Afghanistan this week amidst claims he is not fit to deploy because he has not received treatment promised by the Army for severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder sustained during his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jeff Hanks deployed to Afghanistan early last year with the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He returned to the base on leave from Afghanistan this past September, where he sought and was denied treatment on two separate military bases for traumatic injuries sustained in combat.

Hanks subsequently refused to redeploy and was forced to go Absent Without Official Leave in order to get medical attention from civilian professionals.

Now, less than two months after surrendering himself at Fort Campbell, the Army Specialist awaits imminent redeployment to Afghanistan against his wishes and against the advice of his team of medical professionals.

Seeking help in fighting for his right to heal, Hanks contacted Operation Recovery, a joint-campaign of Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Civilian-Soldier Alliance, which seeks to end the re-deployment of traumatized and wounded soldiers.

Volunteers from Operation Recovery came to Kentucky to support Hanks throughout November and December as he sought treatment.Yesterday, they hand-delivered an Article 138 notice of wrongdoing to several commanding officers at Fort Campbell and delivered one notice to La Point Medical Center, where Hanks was routinely denied treatment.

The notice names Captain Jason Ambrosino, the commanding officer responsible for denying Hanks' right to heal, for violating both soldiers' rights and military law. The group was attempting to deliver the notice to Ambrosino himself, but he was not on post at the time.

In addition to filing the Article 138 complaint demanding that his deployment be delayed, Hanks' attorney James Branum will also be filing other formal complaints, including one with the Office of the Inspector General and another with offices of U.S. Congressional Representatives.

Fort Campbell officials could not be reached for comment as of the time of publication.

Supporters Gather at Base

Outside of the gates Fort Campbell this weekend, Operation Recovery members put pressure on Hanks' command. "We are here today to say that troops are human beings," said Lori Chambers, a veteran and Operation Recovery member from Nashville. "If there are issues in the civilian world, people get treatment. People in the military deserve treatment too."

Meanwhile, Operation Recovery supporters across the country sent over 1,500 emails of protest to Captain Ambrosino. "Soldiers have a right to heal from the traumas of war," the mass email reads, "but you have systematically denied that right in the case of Spc. Hanks. You have interfered with him receiving proper medical treatment, and you appear to be breaking the law by doing so.

Commanders had informed Hanks last this week that he was scheduled to redeploy to Afghanistan over the weekend, but as of today he has not deployed. The Army's mandatory pre-deployment mental health screenings denied Hank's PTSD claim, contradicting positive diagnoses by three separate civilian therapists, and results of an MRI yesterday that will not be available until after he is in Afghanistan.

"Four different mental health providers have diagnosed Jeff with PTSD, have advised treatment, and he has been denied treatment every single time. I am very worried about him," says Johanna Buwalda, a licensed clinical counselor working directly with Hanks and other veterans. "Our soldiers deserve the right to heal."

As increasingly reported by soldiers like Hanks, the Army behavioral health specialist who screened him suggested Hanks seek treatment while deployed in Afghanistan.

"These supposed medical professionals are the ones caving into the pressure of the military," said Jason Chambers, a U.S. Air Force combat veteran from Nashville and a volunteer with Operation Recovery. "They need to know that we are not going to let them get away with it.

Soldiers At Fort Campbell Are Speaking Out

Though Fort Campbell officials were unable to comment on Hanks' case at this time, they did confirm that they received his article 138 complaint. "We encourage all soldiers to use the resources available to them," a soldier at the Public Affairs office said in a phone interview. "There's a lot out there for guys suffering from PTSD."

But Operation Recovery organizers say that Jeff Hanks is not the only Fort Campbell soldier that has contacted them with similar complaints, he is just currently the only one who has gone public with his case.

Operation Recovery organizers have suggested that this silence may break soon.

"The redeployment of wounded soldiers has come to underlie the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Jason Hurd, a U.S. Army Iraq combat veteran and Operation Recovery organizer. "As veterans of these wars, we are here to say that Jeff's case is not isolated, and these cycles of trauma must end. And Operation Recovery is going to work to stop this cruel and inhumane practice."

"I feel like it is important to demonstrate to Captain Ambrosino, along with all other commanders making the choice to deploy soldiers who need treatment, that we are not going to let them get away with it," said Brad Thomson, member of the Chicago chapter of the Civilian-Soldier Alliance and an Operation Recovery organizer. "I don't know how more clear we could be."

These organizers say they will continue to uncover violations of soldiers' rights at Fort Campbell and to bring to light those in the command structure there who are responsible for the abuses.

"We're not going to stop until we bring an end to the redeployment of traumatized troops," said Hannah Fritz, Chicago member of the Civilian-Soldier Alliance. "And after today, they know we are watching them."

The Operation Recovery Campaign, launched October 7th, 2010, seeks to stop the redeployment of troops suffering from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Military Sexual Trauma. More info on Jeff Hanks and Operation Recovery can be found on the campaign's website,

UPDATE: As of Monday, Jeff had not yet deployed. In a message to supporters, Operation Recovery organizers said, "Late last night, we learned that Jeff Hanks was not deployed to Afghanistan yesterday as scheduled. Thank you for the hundreds of emails that you sent to his unit commander, Cpt. Ambrosino. His email inbox was flooded over the weekend with 2,000 emails!" But Hanks is still facing deployment or a dishonorable discharge, and base officials, citing privacy regulations, refused to comment on his situation.


20) Obama's Comfort Zone: King of Collaboration
"With Wall Street's hegemony at the commanding heights of the world's sole superpower unchallenged, the crisis of finance capital has become a crisis of the U.S. state and a threat to every other capitalist economy and state on the planet." [It's not that the U.S. state is a threat to every other capitalist economy and state on the planet; it's that capitalism is a threat to all humanity everywhere on the planet. There is no such thing as a kinder and gentler capitalism!]
By BAR executive editor Glen Ford
January 12, 2011

"In order for Obama to reach his comfort zone, it was necessary that the Democrats be defeated."

No matter what Barack Obama says in his State of the Union Address later this month, it is clear where he is headed: ever rightward. His appointments tell the tale. Obama also gave the game away - that he would govern from the center-right and attempt a grand consensus with the GOP - in the weeks before he was first sworn into office, January 20, 2009. That is, his appointments of Bill Clinton's Wall Street deregulation crowd to head economic policy and his retention of George Bush's Secretary of Defense to guard and expand the empire, should have signaled to every sober observer that Obama's political orientation might differ dramatically from his predecessor's in tone, but not in substance. The problem was, there were very few sober Left political observers around two years ago, and nearly all Black folks were falling down drunk on ObamaL'aid - a brain-softening condition that persists among many, to this day.

In the intervening 24 months, the Right has achieved a near-miraculous comeback, a reversal of fortune that could not have happened without considerable assistance from Mr. Obama. By positioning his administration to the Right of center from the vey beginning, becoming more intimately identified with Wall Street bankers even than Bush, and waging relentless war on the Left half of his party, Obama reduced fellow Democrats to a state of demoralized confusion, leading to catastrophic defeat. Defeat, that is, for the party, but not for the president, who has at last arrived in his comfort zone.

"Sperling and Daley are seasoned operatives in subverting government to private purposes, having made their bones in Bill Clinton's administration."

Indeed, in order for Obama to reach his comfort zone, it was necessary that the Democrats be defeated. Only then could New Democrat Obama's collaboration with the GOP in furtherance of corporate rule appear to be an act of statesmanship, a grand compromise (as the tax deal was pitched) in the interest of orderly government by the "grownups."

With Obama's appointment of JP Morgan Chase executive William Daley as his chief of staff and Gene Sperling to head the National Economic Council, the White House is tooled to coordinate even more seamlessly with Wall Street. Both are seasoned operatives in subverting government to private purposes, having made their bones in Bill Clinton's administration, where Daley was the indispensable man in passing the Clinton/Republican NAFTA bill despite the opposition of 60 percent of Democrats in the House. Both are now rich banksters specializing in moving effortlessly from the boardroom to wherever the public's money is kept.

Economist Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, doesn't mind the money Sperling made from Goldman Sachs. His problem with Obama's new top economic advisor is:

"Sperling saw nothing wrong with the stock market bubble that laid the basis for the 2001 recession. The economy did not begin to create jobs again until two and a half years after the beginning of this recession and even then it was only due to the growth of the housing bubble. Gene Sperling also saw nothing wrong with the growth of that bubble. Gene Sperling also saw nothing wrong with the financial deregulation of the Clinton years which, by the way, helped make Goldman Sachs lots of money. And, he saw nothing wrong with the over-valued dollar which gave the United States an enormous trade deficit. This trade deficit undermined the bargaining power of manufacturing workers and helped to redistribute income upward.

"In short, Sperling has a horrible track record of supporting policies that were bad for the country and good for Wall Street."

Which makes him perfect for Barack Obama, who is Wall Street's guy by choice, and always has been. In fact, it is disrespectful to Obama to argue that his consistent appointment of Clinton's clique of deregulating Wall Street warriors as his economic generals is not reflective of the president's own worldview. Either Obama is his own man, or he is a hireling, a whore, and a mere figurehead.

"Barack Obama is Wall Street's guy by choice, and always has been."

I operate on the assumption that Obama is a purposeful, talented, and extremely effective center-right politician straight out of the Clinton Democratic Leadership Council mold who is determined to shape all of the public sector to finance capital's advantage. He has chosen the best men for the damnable job.

With Wall Street's hegemony at the commanding heights of the world's sole superpower unchallenged, the crisis of finance capital has become a crisis of the U.S. state and a threat to every other capitalist economy and state on the planet. But of course, Wall Street calls that an opportunity. Not an opportunity, mind you, to invest in anything remotely productive. The team that brought us NAFTA in order to export the U.S. manufacturing sector, and destroyed the financial regulatory infrastructure of the New Deal so that Wall Street could dominate every aspect of American economic and political life, has no interest in productive enterprise or good jobs creation.

And neither does Barack Obama - or else he wouldn't have appointed Daley and Sperling or the 2009 crew. All of which should be perfectly obvious, except to the mush-brains who are still sipping from vinegary old bottles of ObamaL'aid.


21) Illinois Legislators Approve 66% Tax Increase
January 12, 2011

CHICAGO - With only hours left before new state lawmakers were to take over, Illinois's State Legislature narrowly approved early on Wednesday an increase of about 66 percent in the state's income tax rate.

The vast size of the increase, the rarity of such increases here - the last one came two decades ago - and the hour of the vote (in the wee hours of Wednesday) all reflected the urgency and depth of this state's fiscal crisis.

Even grudging supporters of the tax increase, which won no Republican support in a state capital controlled by Democrats, voiced a desperate sense of regret over the circumstances in which Illinois finds itself. State Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat who voted for the increase, described her decision as an alternative "between bad and worse." Another Democrat cautioned his colleagues: "We don't have a better choice today."

Many states are struggling with anemic revenues and the prospect of an end to additional federal funds, but Illinois faces a budget deficit of as much as $15 billion, owes some $8 billion in unpaid bills to social service agencies, doctors, dentists and others, and is receiving mounting signs of worry from bond investors.

Under the legislation, the income tax rate would, at least temporarily, rise to 5 percent from its current rate of 3 percent. Lawmakers had talked about an even steeper increase, but set that aside as the hours went by and the debate grew increasingly emotional. The rate for corporate taxes would rise to 7 percent from its current rate of 4.8 percent. As part of the deal, the state's spending growth would be limited from one year to the next over the next four years.

Gov. Patrick J. Quinn, a Democrat whose signature would be needed to make any rate increase final, has indicated in the past he believes a tax increase is necessary.

The tax hike irked Republicans in Springfield, the state capital, and business owners around the state. Again and again, Republicans argued that the state needed to make significant spending cuts to solve its deficit before it even began considering a tax increase.

On the Statehouse floor on Tuesday night, Roger L. Eddy, a Republican representative, said that lawmakers were essentially "making up for our mistakes" on the backs of taxpayers, while one state senator called it a "train wreck." Representative David Reis, another Republican, warned of the "sucking sound" he imagined would now be heard of businesses leaving the Illinois.

The fallout of the vote remains to be seen: Will Illinois businesses really now flock to neighbors Wisconsin and Indiana as opponents have suggested? Will the increase impress investors and quickly improve the state's sunken bond rating? And, perhaps most of all, will the change be enough to turn around the financial woes of a state where the deficit has grown to the size of half of the annual general fund?

Democrats, who control the state's House of Representatives and Senate, had been racing to push through the tax increase before noon on Wednesday, when legislators elected in November arrive in Springfield and a new legislative session begins.

In the new session, Democrats will continue to control both chambers, but their margins will shrink. Some leading Democrats viewed this as the only time when such a politically difficult vote might be possible: a moment when departing legislators need not fret over how voters might react.

In the House, where until noon on Wednesday Democrats hold 70 seats, the bill passed 60 to 57. In the Senate, which had shown earlier willingness to raise taxes, the measure passed 30 to 29 in a vote that was tallied after 1 a.m. Central time.


22) Army Called In as Tunisian Protests Hit Capital
January 12, 2011

TUNIS - Clouds of tear gas floated up this city's cafe-lined main boulevard on Wednesday as troops swarmed onto downtown streets to tamp down the first major protests to hit the capital since rioting and demonstrations began three weeks ago.

The government fired the country's interior minister over the violent clashes, which have shaken the government and left 21 dead. The government has also said it would release some of those arrested during the recent riots, but it was not clear whether any had been freed.

Riots over poverty and unemployment stemming from the country's dire economic situation were unleashed last month after a young unemployed man set himself on fire. The government is scrambling to try to contain the mounting unrest, with some of the worst protests the country has witnessed in decades.

The Tunisian army filled the streets around the National Party headquarters and television broadcasting facilities here in the capital on Wednesday, and security forces used tear gas to break up demonstrations near the French Embassy. Anger against the country's leaders ran high.

"They say the people are terrorists, but they are the real terrorists," said Ala Djebali, an 18-year-old student who had taken refuge in a train station near the embassy.

Armed police violently confronted demonstrators who gathered in three separate neighborhoods around the capital , sweeping up suspected protesters as businesses shut their doors and pedestrians fled. Witness said snipers fired on the crowds and that several had been hit.

"How can you fire on your own people?" said a 30-year-old business owner who was protesting downtown and declined to provide his name for fear of reprisals. "If you do that, then there is no return. Now you are a killer."

In previous protests, riot police had used live ammunition to disperse the crowds, resulting in deaths.

Demonstrators railed against government corruption, a lack of jobs and the perceived self-enrichment of the president and his family. In Sfax, the nation's second largest city, workers called a general strike.

In a region full of police states, Tunisia is considered by far the most repressive. Tunisian rights activists said the police have been arresting opposition figures in their homes. Radhia Nasraoui, head of a group that opposes torture, said the police had arrested her husband, Hamma Hammémi, chief of the Communist Party, who in recent days has given several interviews to French news media about the demonstrations.

"He explained that the regime has lost all legitimacy so we were expecting this," Ms. Nasraoui said Wednesday after her husband's arrest. She showed a reporter the broken down door of their apartment. "It is kidnapping."

Social media sites are also believed to have played a roll in helping protesters to organize, and the government reportedly directed Internet service providers to provide information on the accounts of individual users.

The State Department expressed concern about intrusions into the privacy of Tunisian customers of American companies like Facebook, Yahoo and Google. The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, urged restraint and respect for freedom of expression.

On Monday, the government ordered the closing of all schools and universities until further notice in an attempt to quell the unrest.

Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo, and J. David Goodman from New York.


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