Saturday, February 19, 2011


Solidarity Forever

"Solidarity Forever," the unofficial anthem of the American labor movement, was written in 1915 by a little-known poet named Ralph Chaplin and set to the civil war tune "John Brown's Body." Since then, it has been sung in union halls, jails and on picket lines across the country. Even now, at a time when labor rolls are down, the song endures.

Lyrics to 'Solidarity Forever'

When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong.
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
For the union makes us strong.
Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
For the union makes us strong.
It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;
Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;
But the union makes us strong.
All the world that's owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone.
We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone.
It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.
While the union makes us strong.
They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
That the union makes us strong.
In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold.
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
For the union makes us strong.
-National Public Radio, February 19, 2011


Saturday, March 19, 2011: Resist the War Machine!
8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq
In San Francisco, people will gather at 12 noon for a rally at UN Plaza (7th & Market Sts.) followed by a march to Lo. 2 boycotted hotels. 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.


MARCH AT 1:30 P.M.

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

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

WE DEMAND Bring U.S. Troops, Mercenaries and War Contractors Home Now: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan! End the sanctions and stop the threats of war against the people of Iran, North Korea and Yemen. No to war and plunder of the people of Latin America, 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! End support of dictators in North Africa!

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

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

WE DEMAND trillions for jobs, education, social services, an end to all foreclosures, quality single-payer healthcare for ail, 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.

Next organizing meeting Sunday, February 20, 1:00 P.M., Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia Street (between 15th and 16th Streets, San Francisco)

Sponsored by the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC)


Marcha en contra de las guerras: en casa y en el exterior

Ellos son el gobierno y las corporaciones que financian las guerras, destruyen el medio ambiente, la economía y pisotean nuestras libertades y derechos democráticos.

Nosotros, somos la gran mayoría de la humanidad y queremos paz. Un planeta saludable y una sociedad que priorice en las necesidades humanas, la democracia y las libertades civiles para todos.

Nosotros, demandamos que las tropas militares, los mercenarios y los contratistas de guerra que enviaron a Irak, Afganistán, y Paquistán sean traídas de regreso a los Estados Unidos ¡Ahora! Que paren con las sanciones y las amenazas de guerra en contra de los pueblos de Irán, Corea del Norte y Yemen; y que los Estados Unidos deje de colaborar con Israel en la invasión y acoso a Palestina y Gaza. No al saqueo de los pueblos de América Latina, el Caribe y África; que paren la persecución racista que amenaza las comunidades musulmanas y que paren el terror policiaco en contra de las comunidades negras y latinas; derechos totales y legalización para los emigrantes.

Nosotros, demandamos que el FBI pare de inmediato la persecución a los luchadores por la justicia social y la solidaridad internacional; como también pongan un alto a todos los esfuerzos que reprimen y castigan a los contribuidores y fundadores de Wikileaks.

Nosotros, demandamos trillones de dólares para trabajos, educación y servicios sociales; que cesen todos los embargos de viviendas y desalojos; un programa de salud gratuito y de calidad para todos; un programa energético de conversión masiva que salve al planeta y buen el sistema de transporte público. Y reparaciones para las víctimas del terror de estados unidos aquí en casa y en el exterior.

U.S. Hands off the Ongoing Egyptian Revolution!
End US Military Aid to Egypt and Israel!
A Statement by the United National Antiwar Committee

On Friday, February 11th, the heroic Egyptian people won a historic victory with the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Now they are proceeding to secure this victory by moving on to eliminate the rest of this hated regime, and to win the freedom, jobs, equality and dignity which has motivated their revolution from the start.

The announcement of Mubarak's resignation was coupled with news that the officers of the Armed Forces are now running the country. This comes as more and more rank and file soldiers and lower-level officers were joining the protests, and as others stood by as protesters blockaded the state TV, parliament and other government facilities.

We can be sure that the military hierarchy in alliance with what's left of the old regime will do everything in their power to stop the blossoming revolution in its tracks, to tell the protesters they must go home now and wait for gifts from on high.


We can be equally sure that Washington will give its full blessing and backing to these efforts of the remnants of the old regime and the military. Obama has made clear that he is solidly committed to the new face of the Egyptian regime, Omar Suleiman, who has proven over the years that he will collaborate with Washington in its torture and rendition policies. Meanwhile Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted in the New York Times saying that Washington would help organize political parties for future elections in Egypt - a typical maneuver used to subvert revolutions.

The United National Antiwar Committee has repeatedly urged supporters to mobilize for demonstrations called by Egyptian organizations in the US in solidarity with the revolution in Egypt and against US military and diplomatic intervention. UNAC hails the call for today's march in Washington, DC by Egyptian groups, and takes this opportunity to point out the special obligations of antiwar activists in the US given Washington's multifaceted efforts to obstruct the wishes of the majority of the Egyptian people.

The $1.3 billion a year in military aid which the US gives to Egypt must be cut off immediately. All US soldiers serving in Egypt, such as those in the Multinational Force in the Sinai, must be immediately withdrawn. And the US warships headed for Egypt must be immediately turned around.

UNAC has from its founding opposed all US aid to Israel. That position takes on particular importance given the real danger that as the Egyptian revolution advances, Israel will intervene to derail it - or launch new attacks against Lebanon, Gaza, or elsewhere, as a diversionary tactic.

Amidst the euphoria in Cairo, Al Jazeera interviewed a young woman in the crowd, who said:

"Its not just about Mubarak stepping down. It is about the process of bringing the people to power... The issue of women, the issue of Palestine, now everything seems possible."


Finally, we urge all supporters of the Egyptian people to redouble efforts to build the national antiwar marches called by UNAC for April 9th in New York and April 10th in San Francisco. These marches, called to demand an end to US wars and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, an end to support for Israeli occupation, and in favor of social justice and jobs, take on ever more importance with the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere throughout the Arab world and Washington's attempts to crush or derail them.


For more information: In SF:; (415) 49 NO War;, For NYC information:

San Franciscans/Northern California: Next UNAC Organizing Meeting: Sunday February 20 at 1 PM, Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia Street, (between 15th and 16th Streets second floor in the rear) SF

SAVE THE DATE: Sunday, APRIL 10, Mass antiwar/social justice march and rally, Assemble: 11 AM Dolores Park, 19th and Dolores; Rally Noon; March at 1:30 pm.


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Next Meeting of United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC) Meeting to Build April 10!
All BAy Area antiwar and peace and justice activists invited.
Sunday, February 20, 1:00 P.M.
Centro del Pueblo
474 Valencia Street (Between 15th and 16th Streets -- second floor, in the rear.)


MEDIA RELEASE from Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists (BFUU)

A Benefit Evening to Support Bradley Manning

Thursday, Feb 24, 2011 7 - 9 pm

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists

Fellowship Hall address: 1924 Cedar Street , Berkeley CA 94709

Sponsored by: Courage To Resist, Social Justice Committee of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists & Code Pink Golden Gate

Wheelchair Accessible. Suggested Donation is $5 - 10. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Dr. Caroline Knowles of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists will give the welcoming remarks.

Daniel Ellsberg will speak. As the "Pentagon Papers" whistle-blower of the Vietnam War era, he is in a unique position to put the the current issues into historical context.

Senator Mike Gravel has been referencing the damage to a democratic society that excessive secrecy and media manipulation has had on the ability of citizens to exercise informed judgment. All the while the government has passed more repressive laws since the 9/11 attacks that intrude on citizen privacy and rights.

Jeff Patterson of "Courage To Resist" will provide an overview of the issues and the history of Bradley Manning's case.

Cynthia Papermaster of Code Pink Golden Gate chapter will MC. She will offer views on the treatment of Bradley Manning and will report on her recent experience at the demonstration on MLK DAY at Fort Quantico Prison where Bradley Manning is being held in solitary confinement.

Details of the event can be found at BFUU Upcoming Events Webpage.
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists

Fellowship Hall address: 1924 Cedar Street , Berkeley CA 94709
Phone: 510-841-4824

Submitted by
Shirley Adams
404-245-7977 (cell)
BFUU Membership Team
The only gift is a portion of thyself.- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Saturday, March 19, 2011: Resist the War Machine!
8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq
In San Francisco, people will gather at 12 noon for a rally at UN Plaza (7th & Market Sts.) followed by a march to Lo. 2 boycotted hotels. 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.

Come to Washington, D.C., on March 19 for veterans-led civil resistance at the White House

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

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

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.

Last Dec. 16, 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.

In Washington, D.C., on March 19 there will be an even larger veterans-led civil resistance at the White House initiated by Veterans for Peace. People from all over the country are joining together for a Noon Rally at Lafayette Park, followed by a march on the White House where the veterans-led civil resistance will take place.

Many people coming to Washington, D.C., will be also participating in the Sunday, March 20 demonstration at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia to support PFC Bradley Manning. Quantico is one hour from D.C. Manning is suspected of leaking Iraq and Afghan war logs to Wikileaks. For the last eight months, he has been held in solitary confinement, pre-trial punishment, rather than pre-trial detention.

The ANSWER Coalition is fully mobilizing its east coast and near mid-west chapters and activist networks to be at the White House.

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

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


MARCH AT 1:30 P.M.

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

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

WE DEMAND Bring U.S. Troops, Mercenaries and War Contractors Home Now: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan! End the sanctions and stop the threats of war against the people of Iran, North Korea and Yemen. No to war and plunder of the people of Latin America, 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! End support of dictators in North Africa!

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

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

WE DEMAND trillions for jobs, education, social services, an end to all foreclosures, quality single-payer healthcare for ail, 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.

Next organizing meeting Sunday, February 20, 1:00 P.M., Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia Street (between 15th and 16th Streets, San Francisco)

Sponsored by the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC)


Marcha en contra de las guerras: en casa y en el exterior

Ellos son el gobierno y las corporaciones que financian las guerras, destruyen el medio ambiente, la economía y pisotean nuestras libertades y derechos democráticos.

Nosotros, somos la gran mayoría de la humanidad y queremos paz. Un planeta saludable y una sociedad que priorice en las necesidades humanas, la democracia y las libertades civiles para todos.

Nosotros, demandamos que las tropas militares, los mercenarios y los contratistas de guerra que enviaron a Irak, Afganistán, y Paquistán sean traídas de regreso a los Estados Unidos ¡Ahora! Que paren con las sanciones y las amenazas de guerra en contra de los pueblos de Irán, Corea del Norte y Yemen; y que los Estados Unidos deje de colaborar con Israel en la invasión y acoso a Palestina y Gaza. No al saqueo de los pueblos de América Latina, el Caribe y África; que paren la persecución racista que amenaza las comunidades musulmanas y que paren el terror policiaco en contra de las comunidades negras y latinas; derechos totales y legalización para los emigrantes.

Nosotros, demandamos que el FBI pare de inmediato la persecución a los luchadores por la justicia social y la solidaridad internacional; como también pongan un alto a todos los esfuerzos que reprimen y castigan a los contribuidores y fundadores de Wikileaks.

Nosotros, demandamos trillones de dólares para trabajos, educación y servicios sociales; que cesen todos los embargos de viviendas y desalojos; un programa de salud gratuito y de calidad para todos; un programa energético de conversión masiva que salve al planeta y buen el sistema de transporte público. Y reparaciones para las víctimas del terror de estados unidos aquí en casa y en el exterior.


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


First Responders

Wednesday, February 16th, in the State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin, well over ten thousand citizens representing many others (teachers and students, nurses, custodial workers, firefighters, parents, families, community members and staunch union supporters) gathered to say NO! to Governor Scott Walker's so-called "Repair Bill"

The message was unequivocal and clear: no rolling back workers collective bargaining rights and to NEGOTIATE not LEGISLATE our way toward a better future.


WikiLeaks Mirrors

Wikileaks is currently under heavy attack.

In order to make it impossible to ever fully remove Wikileaks from the Internet, you will find below a list of mirrors of Wikileaks website and CableGate pages.

Go to


Streaming TV from Egypt

Mr. ElBaradei, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work as the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Friday: "The Egyptian people will take care of themselves. The Egyptian people will be the ones who will make the change. We are not waiting for help or assistance from the outside world, but what I expect from the outside world is to practice what you preach, is to defend the rights of the Egyptian to their universal values."


Labor Beat: Labor Stands with Subpoenaed Activists Against FBI Raids and Grand Jury Investigation of antiwar and social justice activists.
"If trouble is not at your door. It's on it's way, or it just left."
"Investigate the Billionaires...Full investigation into Wall Street..." Jesse Sharkey, Vice President, Chicago Teachers Union


Oil Spill Commission Final Report: Catfish Responds


New music video by tommi avicolli mecca of the song "stick and stones," which is about bullying in high school, is finished and up on youtube:


New antiwar song that's bound to be a classic:


by tommi avicolli mecca
(c) 2009
Credits are:
Tommi Avicolli Mecca, guitar/vocals
John Radogno, lead guitar
Diana Hartman, vocals, kazoo
Chris Weir, upright bass
Produced and recorded by Khalil Sullivan

I'm the recruiter and if truth be told/ I can lure the young and old

what I do you won't see/ til your kid's in JROTC

CHO ooh, put them in a box drape it with a flag and send them off to mom and dad

send them with a card from good ol' uncle sam, gee it's really just so sad

I'm the general and what I do/ is to teach them to be true

to god and country flag and oil/ by shedding their blood on foreign soil


I'm the corporate boss and well I know/ war is lots of dough dough dough

you won't find me over there/ they just ship the money right back here


last of all it's me the holy priest/ my part is not the least

I assure them it's god's will/ to go on out and kill kill kill


it's really just so sad


You might enjoy a bit of history:

William Buckley Show with Socialist Workers Party Presidential Candidates

William Buckley Show with Socialist Workers Party Presidential Candidates from asi somburu on Vimeo.


Wall Street Fat-Cats Flip Public Service Workers the Bird


Free Bradley Manning

Song for Bradley Manning


Supermax Prison Cell Extraction - Maine

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


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


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


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




MECA Middle East Children's Alliance
Howard & Roslyn Zinn Presente! Honor Their Legacy By Providing Clean Water for Children in Gaza

Howard Zinn supported the work of the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) from the beginning. Over the years, he lent his name and his time countless times to support our work. Howard and Roz were both personal friends of mine and Howard helped MECA raise funds for our projects for children in Palestine by coming to the Bay Area and doing events for us.

On the first anniversary of Howard's passing, I hope you will join MECA in celebrating these two extraordinary individuals.

- Barbara Lubin, Executive Director
YES! I want to help MECA build a water purification and desalination unit at the Khan Younis Co-ed Elementary School for 1,400 students in Gaza in honor of Howard & Roslyn Zinn.


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 #53504 - 054
Unit 2N
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
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



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

Death penalty -- Kevin Cooper is Innocent! Help save his life from San Quentin's death row!

- From Amnesty International USA
17 December 2010
Click here to take action online:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Free the Children of Palestine!
Sign Petition:

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

Background (Preamble):

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

Dear Friend of the Children,

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

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

So, whether you are a long time supporter, or giving for the first-time... Whether you can give $10 or $1,000... This is a unique opportunity to double the impact of your year-end gift!

Your contribution will be matched dollar for dollar, making it go twice as far so that MECA can:

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

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

With warm regards,
Barbara Lubin
Founder and Director

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Please donate today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Add your name! We stand with Bradley Manning.

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

Dear All,

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

Read the complete public letter and add your name at:

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


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

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your generosity! Tom Burke


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

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

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

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

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


Short Video About Al-Awda's Work
The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected over the past nine years.
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, depends on your financial support to carry out its work.

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


Support the troops who refuse to fight!

18) A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab History
February 13, 2011


D. ARTICLES IN FULL (Unless otherwise noted)


1) 24 Reported Killed in Libya Crackdown
February 18, 2011

2) Yemen Protesters Face Off for 8th Day
February 18, 2011

3) Violence Erupts at Jordan Protest
February 18, 2011

4) Among Egypt's Missing, Tales of Torture and Prison
February 17, 2011

5) In Puerto Rico, Protests End Short Peace at University
February 17, 2011

6) Patriot Act Extended for 3 Months
February 17, 2011

7) Cellphones Become the World's Eyes and Ears on Protests
February 18, 2011

8) As Army Pulls Back, Bahrain Protesters Retake Square
February 19, 2011

9) Wisconsin Leads Way as Workers Fight State Cuts
February 18, 2011

10) Swiss Locate Funds Linked to Mubarak
February 18, 2011

11) U.S. Blocks Security Council Censure of Israeli Settlements
February 18, 2011

12) A Watershed Moment for Public-Sector Unions
February 18, 2011

13) Writing 'Danger' in Ever-Larger Letters
February 19, 2011

14) Still No Layoffs in Cuba 5 Months After Announced
February 19, 2011

15) Thousands of Protesters Surround Wisconsin Capitol
February 19, 2011

16) A New Turn as Lawyers Release Explosive, Secretly Recorded Tape
The Siddiqui Case
February 14, 2011


1) 24 Reported Killed in Libya Crackdown
February 18, 2011

CAIRO - Thousands gathered Friday for a fourth day of demonstrations in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, in an unprecedented challenge to the mercurial 41-year reign of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. Human rights groups said 24 people have been killed in clashes across the North African country, though activists say the count may be higher.

The escalating unrest bears the hallmarks of uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, as protesters copy slogans heard there and the government moves to cut Internet and phone lines and disrupt text messaging by cellphones. But the posture of security forces has proven a crucial difference, with security forces moving to crush the unrest with force.

Since seizing power in a coup in 1969, Colonel Qaddafi has imposed his idiosyncratic, sometimes bizarre rule on a country that is one of the world's biggest exporters of oil. With a population of just 6.4 million, Libya is one of the region's wealthiest nations, though eastern Libya and Benghazi have witnessed periodic uprisings. Tripoli, the capital, has seen sporadic protests but remains firmly in the government's grip, residents say.

"I don't see them being easily overpowered, especially at this point, because of the powers of the Libyan security forces and their tendency to crack down very brutally on protests," said Heba Morayef, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in contact with residents in Libya. "I'm not saying it will never happen, but it won't happen today."

Residents reached by telephone said the most intense unrest was in Benghazi and Bayda, a city about 125 miles northeast. As many as 15,000 people gathered in front of the courthouse in Benghazi on Friday and, in a possible sign of withering authority, security forces had withdrawn from at least part of the city by afternoon, residents said.

"Security has retreated to allow the protesters to march because the masses are in a state of extreme anger," said one of the protesters, Idris Ahmed al-Agha, a writer and activist. "I don't know what's going to happen but I think it's going to escalate."

In the background, demonstrators' chants could be heard.

"The people want to topple the government," they cried, an expression first heard in protests in Tunisia, then picked up by the demonstrators in Cairo's 18-day uprising.

Judging by funerals and residents' account, he put the death toll at 50 in Benghazi. Other opposition activists said 60 had died in Benghazi and dozens more in Bayda, though Libya's isolation made the numbers were almost impossible to verify.

Libyan opposition groups said protesters had wrested control of several towns - among them Bayda and, to its northeast, the port city of Darnah, though the degree of their authority seemed ambiguous. They said several police stations were burned down in towns across Libya, and Mr. Agha said a military office was attacked in Benghazi.

In Kufrah, an oasis town in southeastern Libya, protests had been planned for after Friday prayers, but security forces deployed outside the mosques forbade demonstrations, and allowed worshipers to leave only one by one, said Badawi Altobawi, an activist there.

Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo and Nada Bakri from Beirut.


2) Yemen Protesters Face Off for 8th Day
February 18, 2011

SANA, Yemen - Pro-government demonstrators armed with sticks ran down rivals calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday in the capital, breaking up the show of dissent as the country's turmoil went into an eighth day.

In the city of Taiz, 130 miles south of the capital, thousands of antigovernment protesters massed and clashed with government supporters, news reports said. Reuters reported that a grenade exploded in a large crowd of antigovernment protesters who had gathered in the city's Hurriya, or Freedom, Square, camping out in emulation of Egyptian protesters who turned Cairo's Tahrir Square into the center of their uprising. At least eight people were wounded in the blast, Reuters reported.

The protests in Taiz, where thousands of students have set up encampments in the street since last Friday, have appeared more intractable than the daily skirmishes in Sana. The police there have arrested more than 100 demonstrators in recent days as the nation fights over the future of Mr. Saleh's 32-year-old American-backed regime.

As on Thursday, the police in Sana fired shots into the air as hundreds of protesters from each camp traded volleys of rocks on the streets in clashes reflecting the turmoil across the Middle East and North Africa.

In what now seems a pattern, pro-government forces wearing traditional dress that prevails outside the capital routed antigovernment protesters as the police and army looked on. The demonstrators had been seeking to march to a mosque from the university. After they were dispersed, their foes, waving sticks aloft, celebrated with a victory parade.

As the protests stretched into a second week, opponents of Mr. Saleh appeared divided. A formal coalition of opposition parties organized earlier demonstrations that extracted concessions from him, including a pledge to stand down in 2013. For the moment they appear content to push for greater concessions under that timetable.

But a younger cohort of opponents is pressing for Mr. Saleh's earlier departure, organizing their resistance - as elsewhere - using cell phone text messages and Facebook.

The delicate position of the United States seems as evident in Yemen as it is in Bahrain, where pro-American leaders have cracked down on adversaries on the street clamoring for the monarchy to make way for democratic change. Demand for reform has already toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, both close allies of Washington.

Antigovernment activists here are increasingly concerned about the government's apparent deployment of out-of-town Yemenis paid to disrupt their protests. "These guys are not from Sana," said Ibrahim el-Farzy, a shopkeeper.

Southern secessionists have also renewed their protests in the port city of Aden, where demonstrations have been notably more violent. One protester, about 20 years old, was said to have been shot to death in battles with the police on Wednesday, according to reports from the city, as hundreds took to the streets in several neighborhoods.

Though Yemen's southern secessionists have also sought inspiration from a regional wave of protests their demand for independence is longstanding and their goals differ from those of the students protesting against Mr. Saleh in Sana and other areas, including Taiz, which is not part of the area that secessionists have claimed.

J. David Goodman contributed reporting from New York, and Alan Cowell from Paris.


3) Violence Erupts at Jordan Protest
February 18, 2011

AMMAN, Jordan - A protest turned violent here in the Jordanian capital on Friday as government supporters clashed with demonstrators calling for political change, injuring several, witnesses said.

Antigovernment protests, though rare for Jordan, have become routine on Fridays in the weeks since popular uprisings swept over Tunisia, Egypt and other parts of the region, but this was the first time that one ended in confrontation.

Jordanians expressed surprise over the turn of events, saying that this Friday's antigovernment gathering was actually smaller than previous ones, with only a few hundred participants, as opposed to earlier demonstrations that had attracted several thousand.

The protest started out peacefully outside the King Hussein mosque in downtown Amman, according to participants, with the demonstrators calling for an end to corruption and constitutional monarchy and for the lowering of prices.

"Then," recounted Firas Mahadin, 30, a movie director who took part in the protest, "more than a hundred young thugs surrounded us from in front and behind and started attacking us."

Mr. Mahadin was speaking by telephone from the hospital, where he had gone with a suspected concussion after being hit on the head with a metal club, he said. He said that the attackers were shouting slogans in favor of King Abdullah II and against Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite station that has been accused by parts of the Middle East establishment of fomenting the recent upheavals and unrest.

Mr. Mahadin and others described the pro-government supporters as young men in civilian clothing armed with metal bars and wooden clubs.

Witnesses said that the police at the scene did not intervene.

A police spokesman, Mohamed Khatib, described the clashes as the result of a "quarrel" that broke out "between a pro-government rally and another demonstration staged in the same location," Agence France-Presse reported.

Most of the rallies for change have been led by the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, joined by leftist groups, students and trade unions.

Another antigovernment protester, Sufian al-Tell, an engineer and a member of the Jordan National Party, said that the Muslim Brotherhood did not participate in this Friday's demonstration.

During previous Friday protests, Mr. Tell said, there were fewer police officers and the atmosphere was relaxed, with the police offering protesters juice and water. This Friday there was a stronger police presence, he said, "and although we asked for help, they walked away."

The demonstrations in Jordan have represented the first serious challenge to the decade-old rule of King Abdullah II, a critical American ally in the region. The king enjoys absolute powers, and appoints the prime minister and the cabinet. But he is contending with the country's worst economic crisis in years.

King Abdullah has already taken some measures to try to calm the atmosphere. Responding to the protesters' demands, he dismissed the prime minister, Samir Rifai, on Feb. 1 and replaced him with Marouf al-Bakhit, a former general who has served before in the post and is widely viewed as clean of corruption. The royal palace said in a statement that Mr. Bakhit was asked to take "practical, swift and tangible steps" toward comprehensive political change.

A week later, several dozen Jordanian tribesmen, historically core loyalists to the monarchy, issued a rare statement calling for urgent and far-reaching political reform and an end to corruption. They said that without a more open and responsive political system, the country was headed down the path taken by Tunisia and Egypt. The statement, signed by 36 members of tribes, mostly Bedouins, was published on Jordan's most popular news Web site.

Despite the growing undercurrent of unease, there was little sign before Friday's clashes that things could turn violent. Opposition forces had said that they would keep up their symbolic protests but that they did not intend to escalate the situation.

Few consider either the monarchy or the country at imminent risk of serious turmoil, not least because the population is divided between groups with differing grievances and interests. Jordan is a country of six million, more than half of them Palestinian, and 40 percent members of tribes, also known as East Bankers.

Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem.


4) Among Egypt's Missing, Tales of Torture and Prison
February 17, 2011

CAIRO - Ramadan Aboul Hassan left his house one night about three weeks ago to join a neighborhood watch group with two friends and did not return. The next time their relatives saw the three men they were emerging Wednesday night from a maximum security prison, 400 miles from home, run by Egypt's military. Some family members said they bore signs of torture, though others denied it.

While many here have cheered the military for taking over after last week's ouster of President Hosni Mubarak and for pledging to oversee a transition to democracy, human rights groups say that in the past three weeks the military has also played a documented role in dozens of disappearances and at least 12 cases of torture - trademark practices of the Mubarak government's notorious security police that most here hoped would end with his exit.

Some, like Mr. Aboul Hassan and his two friends, were not released until several days after the revolution removed Mr. Mubarak.

Now human rights groups say the military's continuing role in such abuses raises new questions about its ability to midwife Egyptian democracy.

"The military is detaining people incommunicado, which is illegal, and so it is effectively disappearing people," said Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch, which has documented four cases that it describes as involving torture. Amnesty International has documented three such cases, and the Front for the Defense of Egyptian Protesters has documented five.

Human Rights Watch has also documented one case in which the military transferred a prisoner to the country's feared State Security forces, where it says he was tortured.

Ms. Morayef said the cases of detention and torture did not appear to be "systematic," but added, "It is enough to set off alarm bells and call for an investigation into abuses by the military police."

Most victims were arrested by the military, she says, though two were detained by neighborhood watch groups and then handed over to soldiers. The interrogations accompanying abuse all revolved around victims' suspected participation in the antigovernment protests that toppled the Mubarak government.

Hundreds of unidentified bodies have shown up at hospitals around the country, says the Front for the Defense of Egyptian Protesters, deepening the uncertainty. On Wednesday, Egypt's Health Ministry reported that 365 had died during the uprising and that 5,500 were injured.

Military officials said at a meeting of youth activists on Monday that they would search for those who had disappeared during the uprising, and confirmed that at least 77 people had been detained in fighting in Tahrir Square, according to notes of the meeting published on Facebook.

Local media reported that the army chief of staff, Sami Enan, had agreed to release all of those detained during the revolution, but rights groups complain that he did not commit to a timetable. They have seen little movement toward fulfilling the pledge.

Ramadan Aboul Hassan, 33, vanished well after the battle with the police around Tahrir Square had ended. On Jan. 29, after the police fled the city and the military stepped in, Ramadan left home with his nephew Ahmed Aboul Hassan, 22, and their friend Mostafa Mahrous Mostafa to join neighbors in fending off looters. Then they disappeared.

For 18 days Mohamed Aboul Hassan, 51, Ramadan's eldest brother, worked the phones, each call introducing him to a new lieutenant or government bureaucrat offering a different story about the men's whereabouts and counseling a different course of action.

The family combed hospitals and police stations and begged military officials they managed to get on the phone. They asked the national prison authority if the men's names were in the country's database of inmates, and were told they were nowhere to be found.

Five days after the disappearance, their families learned that the men had been arrested by the military under a bridge on nearby Revolution Street close to the local headquarters of military intelligence. Mohamed was called in to the intelligence office, given their national ID cards and asked to sign for them before he could take the cards home. He was not told why they had been arrested or when they would be released.

"I don't understand why the government is doing this," Mohamed said Tuesday, the height of the search. "If they would just give me some piece of information about them, it would mean so much for me."

The military has little experience directly governing and policing the civilian population, leaving it ill equipped for tasks like notifying families of arrests or detentions, said Ahmed Ragheb, the executive director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, a human rights organization. "The army is not prepared to operate an incarceration system or facilities."

Early Tuesday afternoon, a contact in the military told the Aboul Hassan family that the three men had been released from Wadi Gedid maximum security prison in a distant southern province and put on a military train bound for Cairo. A short while later a cousin with friends working in the train station told them no such train existed, and an official at Wadi Gedid said the prison had no record of them.

Later, another prison official told Mohamed that the men were in the custody of the civil police in Upper Egypt, while a military official told another brother, Rabie, 36, that the men were awaiting military trials on unknown charges.

On Wednesday, Rabie hired a taxi and made the 400-mile journey to Wadi Gedid prison to ask about the men himself. He found them awaiting release with several hundred others, and said they bore the physical and psychological scars of torture.

The men had been detained at Hikestep Military Base, in the desert outside Cairo, before being sent to Wadi Gedid. They were beaten, whipped, exposed to electric shocks and suspended from the door frames of their cells, Rabie said. They were offered bread doused in gasoline and had guns held to their heads, he asserted. "They treated them like a herd of sheep," he said.

After their release, Mohamed said, "They are psychologically traumatized and physically ill," although he denied that they had been tortured. Because of concerns for their well-being, the Aboul Hassan family did not allow reporters access to the three men after their return to Cairo and none were interviewed for this article.

The Aboul Hassans are a poor family in an upper-class neighborhood. Ramadan, Ahmed and Mostafa are the children of men who tend the gardens and guard the doors at upscale apartments in the Heliopolis district of Cairo. Their homes are a grim warren of windowless concrete rooms in the building's basement, sparsely furnished and bursting at the seams with children.

For weeks, the men's recovered national ID cards were the only clues family members had about their fates.

"We joined the protests to liberate the country and end the problems of the regime," said Rabie, who had accompanied his brother to Tahrir Square in the days before his arrest. His family's ordeal at the hands of the military, an institution he said he respected, has shaken his faith in the revolution.

"After 18 days the regime is gone but the same injustices remain."

Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Enas Muthaffar and Dawlat Magdy contributed reporting.


5) In Puerto Rico, Protests End Short Peace at University
February 17, 2011

SAN JUAN, P.R. - Months of unrest at the University of Puerto Rico seemed to be reaching a finale over the last 10 days. Scores of students were arrested or injured by riot police officers. Faculty and staff members held a two-day walkout. The president of the university resigned Friday, the police who had occupied campus were withdrawn Monday and an interim president arrived Tuesday.

But there were only three days of peace.

On Thursday morning, students blocked the stairs to classrooms in the social science department with trash cans and chairs, and also closed down the humanities department. At the social sciences building, students said only one professor had tried to get through the blockade.

The spark for the university's problems was a budget cut that required students to pay a new $800 fee, increasing their costs by more than 50 percent.

"It is the same situation that many universities in the United States are facing," said Miguel A. Muñoz, the interim president. "Our budget is about $1 billion, and we have been cut about $200 million. We need the $800 fee to cover the deficit, and our tuition is so low, $51 a credit, that it's almost a gift."

The tuition is indeed far lower than most other flagship public universities. But Puerto Rico is poorer than the mainland United States, and two-thirds of the students have incomes low enough to qualify for Pell grants.

As at many public universities elsewhere in the United States, students here worry that the new fiscal realities will restrict who can attend.

"This is a public university, and it should be accessible to everyone," said Eduardo Galindez, a second-year student. "I work in the physics department, and I know some graduate students who couldn't come back this semester because they couldn't afford the fee."

Student leaders estimate that at least 5,000 of the university's students were not able to pay the fee this semester. And the administration acknowledges that there are now fewer than 54,000 students this semester, compared with about 60,000 last semester.

Dr. Muñoz, however, attributed the drop to instability, not the new fee. "As a parent, you don't want to send your son, your daughter to a campus where you see so many protests, and police," he said. Still, if there are threats to security and safety, he said he would not hesitate to bring back the police.

"A university is not a different place from the rest of Puerto Rico," he said.

Protests may well flare up again. A general student assembly is scheduled for Tuesday, to discuss whether to call a further strike to protest the $800 fee, program cuts, and the unwillingness of the authorities to negotiate.

"We have to see if students will ratify a strike or not," said Giovanni Roberto, one of the student protest leaders. "We know there are alternatives and we have proposed them, but we don't have any power to get them to listen."

But the students have flexed their muscles. A two-month strike last spring shut down the university's 11 campuses. And since the current strike began in December - this time, largely at the main Rio Piedras campus in San Juan - people across the island have been riveted by television and YouTube videos of violent confrontations between students and the police.

Many students were outraged that the police had been called to the campus.

"Calling in the police, for the first time in 30 years, was one of the most rash decisions they could have made," said René Vargas, a law student who represents the student body on the university board of trustees. "The university's intransigence and refusal to talk to students has worsened the whole situation. The students presented a 200-page document suggesting alternatives and ways to increase revenues, and the trustees have not even been willing to look at it."

Some students, like Liz Lebron, a freshman, said they thought the administration had been right to bring in the police, because some students were destroying property and stopping others from attending class.

Whether or not they approved of the police presence, many students said they found it frightening.

"I didn't go to class when I saw the police because I was scared of getting hurt," said Carmen Gonzalez, a senior majoring in English literature who supported the protesters. "On television I saw people getting hurt, and if you're in class and you hear those police helicopters, you can't concentrate."

Many students complained about the university's decision to put several academic programs, including Hispanic studies, "on pause," meaning they are not accepting new undergraduates.

Some faculty members and students say that local politics have played a large role in the university's problems.

Puerto Rico has its first Republican governor in decades, Luis G. Fortuño, a pro-statehood conservative who has cut the number of public employees by about 17,000. Last weekend, while the protesters were marching in the streets, Mr. Fortuño was in Washington as a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action conference.

Even in the lull from protests early this week, students and faculty members alike said they had no illusion that the situation had been resolved.

"We still have a very volatile situation," said Maritza Stanchich, an English professor who has supported the students. "This all started out over anger about the new fees that were being imposed, but the issues have expanded to the style of governance and the lack of negotiation."

While it is hard to predict what will happen next, some students may be changing their approach.

"What a lot of people are saying, and I believe too, is that we should be thinking about a movement of protest now, not really a strike," said Omar Oduardo, a Student Council representative who spent Thursday at the social sciences department lobby, discussing the situation.

"Maybe stopping classes is working against the movement," he added, "and it's time to go outside the university, to the legislature and the community, to work for change."


6) Patriot Act Extended for 3 Months
February 17, 2011

Congress on Thursday gave itself three more months to consider provisions of a counterterrorism law that help track security threats but have drawn fire from defenders of privacy rights. The House vote of 279 to 143 followed a Senate vote Tuesday. President Obama is expected to sign the bill before the provisions expire on Feb. 28. At issue are two powers established in the 2001 Patriot Act that allow law enforcement officials to set roving wiretaps to monitor multiple communication devices and to ask a special court for access to "any tangible thing" - including business and library records - that could be relevant to a terrorist threat. A third provision, from a 2004 intelligence act, gives the F.B.I. court-approved rights for surveillance of non-American "lone wolf" suspects not known to be tied to specific terrorist groups.


7) Cellphones Become the World's Eyes and Ears on Protests
February 18, 2011

For some of the protesters facing Bahrain's heavily-armed security forces in and around Pearl Square in Manama, the most powerful weapon against shotguns and tear gas has been the tiny camera inside their cellphones.

By uploading images of this week's violence in Manama, the capital, to Web sites like YouTube and yFrog, and then sharing it on Facebook and Twitter, the protesters upstaged government accounts and drew worldwide attention to their demands.

A novelty just 15 years ago, the cellphone camera has become a vital tool for both human rights advocates and protesters to document the government response to the unrest that has spread through the Middle East and North Africa, and to connect with the rest of the world.

Recognizing the power of such documentation, human rights groups have published guides and provided training on how to use cellphone cameras effectively. Images captured by amateurs have proven to be especially important in countries where freedom of speech is limited and where professional journalists have been targets of intimidation, as in Egypt.

"You finally have a video technology that can fit into the palm of one person's hand, and what the person can capture can end up around the world," said James E. Katz, director of the Rutgers Center for Mobile Communication Studies. "This is the dagger at the throat of the creaky old regimes that, through the manipulation of these old centralized technologies, have been able to smother the public's voice. Now there is this tool that has empowered each person to make these dramatic changes."

In Tunisia, cellphones were used to capture video images of the first protests in Sidi Bouzid last December, which helped spread unrest to other parts of the country. The uploaded images also prompted producers at Al Jazeera, the satellite television network, to begin focusing on the revolt, which toppled the Tunisian government in mid-January and set the stage for the demonstrations in Egypt.

"Bless him, really, that guy who put a camera in people's phones," said Wadah Khanfar, the director general of Al Jazeera. "He liberated people."

While built-in cameras have been commercially available in cellphones since the late 1990s, it was not until the tsunami that struck southeast Asia on Dec. 26, 2004, and the London subway bombings the following July that media organizations began to take serious note of the outpouring of images and videos created and posted by nonprofessionals. Memorably, in June 2009, cellphone videos of the shooting death of a young woman in Tehran known as Nedawere uploaded on YouTube, galvanizing the Iranian opposition and rocketing around the world.

Now, news organizations regularly seek out, sift and publish such images. Authenticating them remains a challenge, since photos can be easily altered by computers and old videos can resurface again purporting to be new. YouTube is using Storyful, a news aggregation site, to help manage the tens of thousands of videos that have been uploaded from the Middle East in recent weeks, and to highlight notable ones on the CitizenTube channel.

But journalists are not the only conduits. Cellphone images are increasingly being shared between users on mobile networks and on the social network pages of individuals, and they are being broadly consumed on Web sites that aggregate video and images, like YouTube, Flickr, yFrog, Plixi, Qik, and Bambuser, a Swedish-based company that enables live streaming.

The hosting Web sites have reported increases both in submissions from the Middle East and in visitors viewing the content.

Among the sites, Bambuser has stood out as a way to stream video. Mans Adler, the site's co-founder, said it had 15,000 registered users in Egypt, most of whom signed up just before last November's election. He said there were more than 10,000 videos on the site that were produced around the time of the election, focusing on activity at the polls, in what appeared to be an organized effort.

Afterward, the level of activity settled down to 800 to 2,000 videos a day, but then soared back to 10,000 a day again when the mass protests erupted in Egypt last month, he said.

In Bahrain, the government has blocked access to Bambuser.

At training sessions to help activists use their cameras, Bassem Samir, the executive director of the Egyptian Democratic Academy, said that improving the quality of the images and video was a high priority. He said many of the YouTube videos of protests in Iran after the elections in 2009 were marred by shaky camerawork. "If I'm running while taking the video, the people who see the video will not understand what is going on," he said in a telephone interview from Cairo.

Some groups, like the Brooklyn-based human rights group Witness, have been working to instill such lessons. Last year, Witness held training sessions for bloggers and activists from an array of Middle Eastern countries.

"Videos are stories," said Mr. Samir, who attended the sessions. "What happened on the 25th and 28th of January, it's a story. It's like a story of people who were asking for freedom and democracy, and we had, like, five or three minutes to tell it."

He added, referring to the protesters who are featured in the videos, "The heroes, the actors, don't know that they are actors."

Robert Mackey contributed reporting.


8) As Army Pulls Back, Bahrain Protesters Retake Square
February 19, 2011

MANAMA, Bahrain - Thousands of jubilant protesters surged back into the symbolic heart of Bahrain on Saturday after government security forces withdrew and the monarchy called for peace after two days of violent crackdowns.

It was a remarkable turn after a week of protests that had shifted by the hour between joy and fear, euphoric surges of popular uprising followed by bloody military crackdowns, as the monarchy struggled to calibrate a response to an uprising whose counterparts have toppled other governments in the region.

"All Bahrain is happy today,'' said Jasim Al Haiki, 24, as he cheered the crowds in the central Pearl Square, aflutter with Bahraini flags. "These are Bahrainis. They do what they say they will do!"

The withdrawal of security forces in Bahrain was a victory for the country's main Shiite opposition bloc, which had rejected a call to negotiate from Bahrain's Sunni monarch until the authorities pulled the military off the streets. It also added new pressures for shaken governments in Libya, Algeria and Yemen as they made new moves to stifle protests.

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who is also deputy commander of the military, announced in a statement that he had ordered the withdrawal of all military from the streets of Bahrain "with immediate effect," adding that the Bahrain police force would continue to oversee law and order.

Bahrain, a small island in the Gulf, is a strategically important ally of the United States and home to the Navy's Fifth Fleet.

In Libya, demonstrations on Saturday continued to challenge the 41-year rule of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. The country moved to shut off Internet access, mirroring a tactic used by Egyptian authorities to try to thwart an upheaval that eventually led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch said that the death toll in Libya after three days of government crackdowns against protesters had risen to 84. .

Thousands of demonstrators gathered again Saturday at a courthouse in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city and a fulcrum for protests there. One activist, Idris Ahmed al-Agha, a Libyan writer reached by telephone, said the crowd had grown to more than 20,000 by mid-day Saturday. He said protesters planned a funeral march to bury some of those killed in pitched clashes on Friday.

Occasional uprisings have shaken Benghazi and eastern Libya, where Colonel Gadhafi's writ still runs broad but not as deep as in the capital, Tripoli, in the west. Mr. Agha said security forces had not returned to parts of the city after withdrawing Friday. Even traffic police have disappeared from some streets, leaving residents to direct cars, he said.

The unrest in Benghazi appeared to grow out of the long-simmering repercussions of the killings of hundreds of prisoners in 1996 in the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli. Some of the families have refused government compensation for the deaths of their relatives and have organized occasional demonstrations to press for more information.

Others joined their protest Friday at the courthouse in Benghazi and, by the end of the day, the crowd had grown into the thousands, said Heba Morayef, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

In Algiers, hundreds of baton-wielding police pushed back demonstrators protesting the government of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the country's 73-year-old autocratic leader.

Riot police in unyielding lines repeatedly forced the hundreds of demonstrators into smaller groups, shoving some down side streets and pushing others up a main artery until they dispersed, in a working-class district near the city center.

Protesters held up signs reading "Bouteflika, get out," and chanted, in Arabic and French, "We're sick of this government." But they were overwhelmed by the massed police, who beat their plastic shields with thick truncheons as they surged forward against the crowd, which broke up barely two hours after the start of the planned march.

Long lines of armored police trucks surrounded the headquarters of the opposition RCD party nearby, and police were posted at intersections throughout the seaside capital.

Many of the demonstrators said they were angered by the massive police presence at what they insisted was a peaceful march in a country where elections are widely seen as rigged, the military holds real power and antigovernment demonstrations like the one Saturday are prohibited.

"We are simply asking for what the other countries are asking for," said Mohamed Ditabshish, a retired civil servant. "Independence is not enough. We need liberty as well. We are independent, but not free."

Last Saturday, thousands of security forces massed in the capital to stifle a planned protest. Unlike some of its regional neighbors, the country had been relatively quiet this past week. In Yemen, about 1,000 protesters demanding the ouster of President Saleh gathered for another day in Sana, the capital, squaring off against pro-government demonstrators, who held posters of Mr. Saleh The pro-government group moved closer, and the two sides began hurling bottles, shoes and rocks at each other, even as some antigovernment protesters called out, "Be peaceful!"

The pro-government demonstrators fell back, but then a larger group returned, firing automatic weapons, at first into the air, and then at the antigovernment marchers. One man fell into the street and was carried away by other demonstrators, his chest covered in blood.

The antigovernment marchers scattered as the pro-Saleh group took control of the street, celebrating their victory by chanting, dancing and waving their jambiyas, Yemen's traditional curved daggers.

Michael Slackman reported from Manama, Bahrain, and Jack Healy from Baghdad. Adam Nossiter contributed reporting from Algiers; Laura Kasinof from Sana, Yemen; Anthony Shadid from Beiru, and Timothy Williams from New York.


9) Wisconsin Leads Way as Workers Fight State Cuts
February 18, 2011

The unrest in Wisconsin this week over Gov. Scott Walker's plan to cut the bargaining rights and benefits of public workers is spreading to other states.

Already, protests erupted in Ohio this week, where another newly elected Republican governor, John Kasich, has been seeking to take away collective bargaining rights from unions.

In Tennessee, a law that would abolish collective bargaining rights for teachers passed a State Senate committee this week despite teachers' objections. Indiana is weighing proposals to weaken unions. Union members in Pennsylvania, who are not necessarily facing an attack on their bargaining rights, said Friday that they planned to wear red next week to show solidarity with the workers in Wisconsin.

In many states, Republicans who came to power in the November elections, often by defeating union-backed Democrats, are taking aim not only at union wages, but at union power as they face budget gaps in the years ahead.

The images from Wisconsin - with its protests, shutdown of some public services and missing Democratic senators, who fled the state to block a vote - evoked the Middle East more than the Midwest.

The parallels raise the inevitable question: Is Wisconsin the Tunisia of collective bargaining rights?

Governor Walker, in an interview, said he hoped that by "pushing the envelope" and setting an aggressive example, Wisconsin might inspire more states to curb the power of unions. "In that regard, I hope I'm inspiration just as much as others are an inspiration to me," he said.

FreedomWorks, a Washington group that helped cultivate the Tea Party movement, said it was trying to use its lists of activists to turn out supporters for a variety of bills aimed at cutting the power of unions - not just in Wisconsin, but in Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio as well.

And officials seeking to curtail labor's power in other states said that by focusing attention on public-sector unions, the tense standoff in Wisconsin could give them momentum.

"We think that what's going on in Wisconsin actually helps us here in Ohio," said Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Governor Kasich, who is supporting a bill that would limit collective bargaining rights.

But Wisconsin is also proving to be a catalyst for Democrats and labor leaders, as they take heart from the way thousands of workers have rallied to the cause.

With the falling popularity of unions in recent years, some union leaders see the attempt to take away bargaining powers as an effort that could shift the question from whether public-sector workers are overpaid to whether they should have the right to negotiate contracts at all.

To that end, unions and Democrats are preparing their own post-Wisconsin campaigns in a number of states against what President Obama called "an assault on unions" in a television interview this week.

As Gerald W. McEntee, the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the main union of state employees, put it: "Workers' rights - including the fundamental right to organize and bargain for better pay, benefits and working conditions - are under attack in states from Maine to Ohio, from Wisconsin to Florida."

Governor Walker's plan would limit collective bargaining for most state and local government employees to wages, barring them from negotiating on issues like benefits and work conditions. It would also require workers to contribute more to their pension and health care plans, cap wage increases based on the Consumer Price Index and limit contracts to one year. And it would take on the power of unions by requiring them to take annual votes to maintain certification, and by permitting workers to stop paying union dues. Police and fire unions, which have some of the most expensive benefits but who supported Mr. Walker's campaign for governor, are exempted.

"If they succeed in Wisconsin, the birthplace of A.F.S.C.M.E., they will be emboldened to attack workers' rights in every state," Mr. McEntee said. "Instead of trying to work with public employees at the bargaining table, they've decided to throw away the table."

On paper, Wisconsin might seem an unlikely candidate for an assault on unions. Like many other states, it has grappled with large spending gaps during the economic downturn, but its projected deficits for the next two years are nowhere near the worst in the country - more like in the middle of the pack.

Its 7.5 percent unemployment rate is below the national average. Its pension fund is considered one of the healthiest in the nation, and it is not suffering from the huge shortfalls that other states are facing.

Those facts have groups on both sides thinking if it can happen there, it can anywhere.

In Columbus, Ohio, Tea Party organizers said they had 300 to 500 people turn out on Thursday for a counterdemonstration against several thousand union members.

"We weren't well-versed in everything about the bill and why they're doing what they're doing except that we're broke as a state," said Adriana Inman, an organizer with the Fairfield Tea Party in Southwest Ohio, who attended the rally. She said that her group had many union members.

Some union members who are trying to preserve their rights have been cheered by what they have seen in Wisconsin.

Joe Rugola, executive director of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees and an international vice president of A.F.S.C.M.E., said that 4,000 protesters gathered at the Columbus Statehouse on Thursday to preserve union rights. "Yesterday at the Statehouse, everyone was talking about the images they had seen in Wisconsin, and it gave them great heart and made folks determined to equal that effort."

Tennessee, a right-to-work state, where workers cannot be required to join a union, is likely to become a staging ground for a collective bargaining battle.

State Senator Jack Johnson, a Republican who sponsored a measure to curtail collective bargaining rights for teachers, said he expected the bill to become law. "Collective bargaining between teachers and the school boards has been an absolute dismal failure," he said.

In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican who is considered a possible presidential candidate in 2012, issued an executive order on his first day as governor in 2005 that ended collective bargaining for state employees. Now he is supporting a measure to limit negotiations by teachers to wages and benefits. Some state lawmakers have called for steps that would go further, but Mr. Daniels has said that he does not think their legislation should be passed this year because it has not been publicly vetted.

Not all new Republican governors plan to take aim at collective bargaining rights.

In Pennsylvania, which faces a $4 billion deficit, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett, the state's new Republican governor, said the governor wanted to shrink the government while being mindful of a 40-year-old law giving state employees the right to organize.

"We'll begin negotiations with the public-sector unions and anticipate we'll conduct those in good faith," said Kevin Harley, a spokesman for Governor Corbett.

Michael Luo and Kate Zernike contributed reporting from New York, and Monica Davey from Wisconsin.


10) Swiss Locate Funds Linked to Mubarak
February 18, 2011

Investigators have discovered tens of millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts belonging to the ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, his family or five prominent associates, officials in Switzerland announced Friday. The officials said the accounts had been frozen, but declined to break down who controlled the vast sums.

"What has been blocked is funds in the area of several dozen million Swiss francs," said Adrian Sollberger, a spokesman for the Swiss Foreign Ministry. "We are not specifying what their value is or whose money it is."

Mr. Sollberger said the search for funds would continue.

After Mr. Mubarak's resignation on Feb. 11, Swiss officials ordered all banks in the country to search for and freeze his assets and those of his family, four former ministers and a wealthy party insider.

Egypt's new military-led government has asked countries across the Western and Arab world to freeze the assets of the four former ministers, the party insider and their families, American officials said. But it has not asked countries to freeze the assets of Mr. Mubarak and his relatives.

Switzerland is acting on its own against the Mubarak family's assets, under a new law that allows government officials to freeze accounts belonging to any former leader suspected of corruption. The law was enacted to change the country's reputation as a haven for illegally acquired money.

Egyptian opposition members said they feared that the country's military-led government would shield Mr. Mubarak, a former Air Force chief, and his relatives from investigation. A senior official of the National Association for Change, an opposition group led by Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, called for an investigation into the Mubarak family and 200 other officials.

"We don't want to omit anybody from this regime," said the official, George Ishak, "from Mubarak himself and his family to the people who are around them."

The Mubarak associates whose assets are being sought are Rachid Mohamed Rachid, a former minister of investment; Ahmed el-Maghrabi, a former housing minister; Zuhair Garana, a former tourism minister; and Habib el-Adly, a former interior minister. Ahmed Ezz, a steel tycoon and party insider, is also a focus.

On Thursday, an Egyptian prosecutor ordered that all but Mr. Rachid be detained pending trial for corruption. Mr. Rachid, currently in Dubai, denied any wrongdoing in a telephone interview. Mr. Ezz did so this week on Al Arabiya television. The Mubarak family and the other three officials could not be reached for comment.

On Thursday, the United States Treasury Department advised American banks to monitor movements of funds by former senior Egyptian political figures that "could potentially represent misappropriated or diverted state assets, proceeds of bribery or other illegal payments."

European foreign ministers are scheduled to discuss the issue at a meeting on Sunday and Monday. As of Friday, no reports had emerged that assets belonging to the Mubaraks or the five associates had been frozen in the United States or other countries in Europe.

Egyptian anticorruption groups accused the United States and Europe of moving too cautiously. They warned that the Mubarak family - as well as the former officials - could be moving funds from the United States and Europe to offshore havens where the assets would be hard to recover.

"It will give a chance to these officials involved in the corruption to hide their money even further," said Omnia Hussien, program director in Egypt for Transparency International, a global anticorruption group. "Action should be taken immediately."


11) U.S. Blocks Security Council Censure of Israeli Settlements
February 18, 2011

UNITED NATIONS - The Obama administration vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Friday condemning Israeli settlement building in occupied territory as illegal, choosing not to alienate Israel and risking the anger of Arabs.

The lopsided vote in the Council, where among the 15 members only the United States voted no, as well as the more than 100 co-sponsors of the measure, underscored the isolation of the United States and Israel on the issue.

But the American ambassador, Susan E. Rice, said the veto should not be misconstrued as American support for further settlement construction, which the United States opposes. The issue should be resolved through peace negotiations, she said, and not mandated by a binding resolution.

Brazil's ambassador, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, who holds the Council's rotating presidency this month, summed up the mood of the body by saying not only that settlements were an obstacle to peace, but also that adopting the resolution, which called for an immediate halt to further construction, would have "sent some key urgent messages."

Among the messages, she said, were that further settlement construction threatens peace in the region, and that halting construction has been misrepresented as an Israeli concession while in fact international law requires it.

The Obama administration had tried to halt Israel's settlement building, and failed, but Ms. Rice said the Security Council was not the place to try to halt it, either.

"Will it move the parties closer to negotiations and an agreement?" Ms. Rice said of the resolution. "Unfortunately, this draft resolution risks hardening the position of both sides."

Ambassador Meron Reuben of Israel said settlements had to be negotiated directly between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He also questioned whether the Council should be discussing the issue now given that the political changes sweeping the Middle East seem more important.

The Palestinians suspended peace negotiations last fall, after Israel refused to extend a moratorium on West Bank settlement construction. The Palestinians say they will not rejoin the talks without a settlement freeze; Israel has refused, despite pressure from President Obama's administration, and insists on negotiations without preconditions.

The Lebanese ambassador, Nawaf Salam, who introduced the resolution, said the fact that settlements were continuing at an accelerating clip made it imperative for the United Nations to address the issue. "The main objective of this institution is to uphold international law," Mr. Salam told reporters. "That is why we came to the Security Council, and that is why we will continue to come back to the Security Council."

The European Union also supported the resolution, saying that continued settlement building threatened the realization of the two-state solution that had been a goal of the peace process for years.

The widespread eruptions of antigovernment protests in the Middle East have focused on domestic issues and have not been tinged with anti-American sentiment. The Obama administration said it hoped that the veto, which it has as one of the Council's five permanent members, would not change that public sentiment.

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said the United States expected that the protesters knew that Washington supported their aspirations and opposed the use of violence against them.

In Ramallah, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a Palestinian Authority spokesman, said the American veto would only add complications and "encourage Israel to continue with its settlement activity and dodge from its obligations."

The administration had hoped to work out a compromise with the Palestinians to avoid using the veto, but a lengthy telephone call on Thursday from Mr. Obama to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, failed to persuade Mr. Abbas to call off the vote.

The Palestinian Authority has been under pressure from its constituents to take a harder public line on negotiations since documents leaked recently that showed that it was prepared to make major concessions in negotiations with Israel.

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.


12) A Watershed Moment for Public-Sector Unions
February 18, 2011

In the half century since Wisconsin became the first state to give its public workers the right to bargain collectively, government employee unions have mushroomed in size and power - so much so that they now account for more than half of the nation's union members.

But the legislative push by Wisconsin's new governor, Scott Walker, a Republican, to slash the collective bargaining rights of his state's public employees could prove a watershed for public-sector unions, perhaps signaling the beginning of a decline in their power - both at the bargaining table and in politics.

Three-fourths of the states allow collective bargaining by some or all of state or local government employees. And labor's friends and foes alike agree that if the Wisconsin legislation passes, it will create momentum for similar bills in Ohio, Indiana and other states.

"These kinds of high-profile public-employee battles have enormous stakes," said Benjamin Sachs, a professor of labor law at Harvard. "We're still feeling the consequences of President Reagan confronting the union in the air controllers' strike. For anyone interested in union rights, the fight in Wisconsin couldn't be more important."

From Florida to California, many political leaders are seeking to cut the wages and benefits of public-sector workers to help balance strained budgets.

But Mr. Walker is going far beyond that, seeking to definitively curb the power of government unions in his state. He sees public-employee unions as a bane to the taxpayer because they demand - and often win - generous health and pension plans that help push up taxes and drive budget deficits higher.

To end that cycle, he wants to restrict the unions to bargaining over just one topic, base wages, while eliminating their ability to deal over health care, working hours and vacations. Moreover, he wants to require unions to win an employee election every year to continue representing workers.

By flooding the State Capitol in Madison with more than 10,000 protesters, labor unions are doing their utmost to block Mr. Walker's plans. They helped persuade Democratic state senators to slip out of the building this week to deny Republicans the quorum they needed to pass the legislation.

Democrats say the governor's "budget repair bill" - strongly supported by the Republicans who control both legislative houses - is political payback, intended to cripple public-sector unions, which spent more than $200 million to back Democrats across the country in November's elections.

Mr. Walker denies any such notion, saying he simply wants to curb union bargaining rights and bring public workers' wages and benefits in line with the private sector. "It's not about the unions," he said this week. "It's about balancing the budget."

Christopher Policano, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said his union was willing to negotiate concessions with Mr. Walker, "but he wants to throw out the bargaining table."

Mr. Walker has repeatedly argued that most Wisconsin residents back his legislation. After visiting a factory this week, he said that private-sector workers often complain that public employees receive more generous health and pension benefits than they do.

There is no question that public-sector unions and the thousands of contracts they have negotiated over the years have improved wages and pensions of government workers and made government service more attractive. But union leaders are quick to point to studies showing that overall compensation for government employees is slightly lower than for private-sector employees of comparable age and education.

Also embedded in the Wisconsin debate - and reaching well beyond that state - is a more fundamental dispute over the role, even the legitimacy, of public-sector unions. Like Mr. Walker, Ohio's new governor, John Kasich, and Indiana's second-term governor, Mitch Daniels, both Republicans, see public-sector bargaining as something to be banned or severely restricted because of its effect on taxpayers and government budgets.

Some Republicans quote President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, who bridled at public-sector unionism and once said, "The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted in the public service."

Republicans say the Democrats have embraced the government employees' cause because weaker unions would reduce crucial political support for Democratic candidates. Republicans have often denounced what they say is a squalid deal in which public-sector unions spend generously to elect allies to office and then those allies lavish generous wages and benefits on union members.

Ever since Wisconsin gave its government employees the right to bargain in 1959, it has generally been Democrats who have extended that right in other states. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave most federal employees the right to unionize and bargain collectively.

The national importance of the Wisconsin fight is clear. President Obama weighed in on labor's behalf on Wednesday, calling Mr. Walker's proposals "an assault on unions." And the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, praised Mr. Walker for "confronting problems that have been neglected for years at the expense of jobs and economic growth."

Citing an anticipated budget deficit of $137 million this year and a $3.6 billion shortfall over the next two years, Mr. Walker argues that his measures to curb union power and bargaining are essential to help balance the budget. Union leaders say that several of Mr. Walker's proposals - including the one that would require elections each year to determine whether a majority of public employees want to keep their union - are really intended to cripple unions, not balance the budget.

Other governors, Democrat and Republican, are also grappling with budget deficits. But many of those governors, like Jerry Brown of California and Andrew M. Cuomo in New York, both Democrats, and Rick Snyder of Michigan, a Republican, are not trying to strip bargaining rights. They are instead using public pressure and the threat of layoffs to persuade public-sector unions to make far-reaching concessions.

"Wisconsin has become ground zero for the process of pushing back against unions," said Steve Meyer, a professor of labor history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "People are waiting to see what happens here. That's why the labor movement has become so deeply involved trying to stop this process."

As happens so often in today's increasingly partisan politics, the battle reflects how differently Republicans and Democrats view a particular subject - in this case, unions and their power. Many Republicans see public-sector unions as greedy, powerful special interests that are taking too many taxpayer dollars. Many Democrats see them as natural allies and a vital part of a labor movement that has helped build the nation's middle class.

The furious demonstrators in Madison have shown that public-sector unions still wield real power. But if the Legislature enacts Mr. Walker's bill, a tipping point might well be reached, with the power of public-sector unions tilting into decline.


13) Writing 'Danger' in Ever-Larger Letters
February 19, 2011

THE stock market has been thrilling lately. Thanks to the marvel of the mobile Internet, I've been able to check my account balances throughout the day, just for the pleasure of watching them rise - which is probably a sign that something's wrong.

Investing isn't a sport, after all. As Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, put it years ago, "The investor's chief problem - and even his worst enemy - is likely to be himself." Taking too much joy in a bull market can be just as dangerous as panicking mindlessly in a market fall.

In need of an antidote for my buoyant mood, I turned to a man whose outlook is as bleak as an ice storm - Robert Prechter, the veteran market strategist, who makes garden-variety bears look like pussycats.

I last spoke to Mr. Prechter about six months ago, just before the Fourth of July weekend, and he predicted a market crash of monumental proportions - perhaps the biggest decline of the last 300 years. Within six years, he said, the economy would be mired in a great depression, shattering millions of lives and devastating anyone foolish enough to hold stocks.

So far, though, the market hasn't fallen. It has climbed, delightfully so, for those of a bullish persuasion. As measured by the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, it has risen more than 30 percent since his gloomy pronouncement.

Did the powerful rally surprise him? "It certainly did," he said. In a lengthy e-mail, however, he pointed out that he hadn't said the big crash would take place overnight.

Does he still believe that the catastrophe is coming? Oh, yes, he said, adding that, if anything, the recent good news for investors has made the outlook over the next several years much worse. "The market," he said, "appears much more dangerous today than it was last summer."

Mr. Prechter, based in Gainesville, Ga., is a social theorist and technical market analyst with a very unconventional approach. It is based on his own version of the Elliott Wave Theory, which originated in the writings of Ralph Nelson Elliott, an accountant who found repetitive patterns, or "fractals," in the stock market of the 1930s and 40s. The market still moves in cycles, large and small, Mr. Prechter says, based mainly on "social mood," which, in turn, influences the economy.

The current cycle will lead the unwary to ruin, he says, "We are in a long-term bear market that started in 2000." He says the rally that has been so enjoyable for stock investors is just a mini-cycle in that longer swoon.

"I think the bear market will end when most debtors default and the media change from calling it a great recession that's over to calling it a great depression that isn't," he says.

Part of his argument will be familiar to anyone who follows the financial news. We are living "in a world saturated with debt," he says. "Newly conservative regulatory policies have been clamping down on bank credit," he adds. "State and local governments will soon cut spending and borrowing, and when the federal government finally cuts spending and borrowing and the Fed - either from within or without - is forced to stop" its quantitative easing program, the game will be up.

Of course, his picture of the world differs markedly from those of mainstream market analysts. For example, I chatted on the phone last week with Tad Rivelle, the chief investment officer for fixed-income at TCW in Los Angeles, who also says he sees trouble coming in the Treasury market. The Federal Reserve's unorthodox monetary policy - the near-zero short-term rates and the large-scale purchases of Treasury securities in the Fed's quantitative easing program - will need to be unwound, leading to a spike in yields over the next year and a half, he said.

But he took a measured view. Whether rising yields have a severe impact on the economy will depend largely on government fiscal policy, Mr. Rivelle said. "If policy makers in Washington do what they need to," and make credible cuts in the budget deficit, he said, the economy can have a "slow moderate recovery over the course of a very long time."

Similarly, James W. Paulsen, the chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis, also focused on the Fed. "The key investment question over the next two years is whether the Fed's policy will lead to excessive inflation," he said. He also said that "we will probably have a market correction at some point this year." But he remains relatively sanguine. It is likely, he says, that inflation will be moderate, and that the overall trend for the economy and the stock market will be quite positive.

MR. PRECHTER proudly marches to a different drummer. He says he is sorry that people who have listened to his advice over the last six months have had to watch from the sidelines while others prosper. "Being bearish in recent months was wrong, but I think it was prudent," he says.

Danger is lurking, he warns, and not just in stocks, but also in bonds and commodities and other asset classes. "I have no interest in investing in any traditional financial market," he says. "They are all dangerously over-owned, overpriced and overleveraged."

If you do hold stocks, this isn't the time to just sit back and watch your account balances rise, he says. "I believe deeply that opting for maximum safety is the right thing to do," he says. "I think bulls are about to lead people over a cliff."


14) Still No Layoffs in Cuba 5 Months After Announced
February 19, 2011

Filed at 1:15 p.m. EST

HAVANA (AP) - Yordan Rodriguez hasn't showed up for work in four months, but he still has a job - for now at least.

The 25-year-old ironworker was told not to bother coming in anymore because the state-owned construction outfit he works for doesn't have any iron. Since then he's been doing odd jobs at home, drawing a salary, and waiting anxiously.

Rodriguez knows the state plans to lay off half a million unneeded workers, and he is hoping that he isn't one of them. He may be in luck: A drive to radically cut the government payroll has stalled amid resistance to implementing the layoffs, leaving many Cubans still waiting for the ax to fall.

"I love my work," said Rodriguez, a strong, stocky man with a thin beard and closely cropped hair. "I want to work, and I need to work."

Rodriguez's case offers all the paradoxes of the Cuban economic condition. Few jobs are more vital than skilled construction work, particularly in a country whose beautiful colonial buildings have been crumbling for decades. But to pay a man to sit at home for four months is emblematic of the waste that has riddled the island's economy for years - and which President Raul Castro has vowed to eliminate.

More than five months after the government announced that a tenth of Cuba's work force would be laid off by March 31, it is difficult to find an unemployed person, or even somebody who knows someone who has lost their job. The delays demonstrate the bind the government is in as it desperately seeks to reduce state costs without causing a social rupture.

Dozens of Cubans interviewed in the capital and elsewhere said nothing has happened yet, and the uncertainty is excruciating.

This week, government and union leaders acknowledged for the first time that the layoff program was beset by problems. They criticized Labor Ministry employees for failing to communicate with each other, and denounced incompetence among thousands of workers' commissions set up to decide who gets laid off.

They said some positions had been eliminated in the health, tourism and sugar industries, but gave no numbers.

Left unsaid in the official account was the fact that firing so many people is potentially incendiary in a country that has billed itself since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution as seeking to build an egalitarian utopia. Cubans have never been promised riches, but a job has always been considered a birthright in the Socialist state.

The concept of unemployment is foreign to most Cubans, who have dutifully trudged to work for decades in broken factories, overstaffed offices and barren stores - even if there wasn't much to do when they got there.

Most workers make less than $20 a month, but receive generous subsidies, including free health care and education. Before the layoffs and other economic changes were announced, the official unemployment rate was just 1.7 percent, and the state employed 84 percent of the work force.

Since the paltry salaries aren't enough to make ends meet, many Cubans spend a lot of what should be their work day trying to make money by doing odd jobs or lifting things from their workplace to barter or sell on the side.

Raul Castro has sought to change Cubans' attitude toward work since taking over from his ailing brother Fidel in 2006. He has been unmerciful in his assesment of the state's finances, which have been savaged by the global economic meltdown, three costly hurricanes that struck in 2008, the effects of the U.S.-embargo and the island's chronic malaise.

Under the plan announced in September, a commission of experts is supposed to decide the optimal number of staff at each ministry or state entity. Specially trained workers' commissions are then to decide which positions are cut.

A member of one workers' commission in the capital told AP that the layoffs have been "paralyzed" in the face of deep resistance from administrators.

"This is a very, very sensitive process," she said, speaking on condition of anonymity because she feared she could lose her job.

Laid off workers are referred to as "disponible," a Cuban euphemism that means "available," and many will be offered alternative employment in essential sectors such as agriculture, construction or the police.

Authorities need to steer a large number off the state payroll entirely if they are to create meaningful savings, so the government has allowed tens of thousands to get licenses to work in a limited private sector, rent rooms in their homes, open restaurants and even hire employees.

Castro has warned that the country is heading for an economic "abyss," and that time is short to fix things, but he has also promised that nobody will be left behind, underlining the tightrope the government must walk as it tries to move forward.

Economists say it is hardly surprising the process has bogged down, given the scope of the proposed changes.

"It makes a lot of sense that they haven't done anything," said Rafael Romeu, the president of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, a Washington-based nonprofit. "Laying off half a million people - that's a difficult adjustment to carry out in such a short time. They are changing the social compact in a way they haven't done in the last 52 years."

Other observers - most of them anti-Castro exiles in Miami - have raised the spectre of the uprisings rocking Egypt and other undemocratic Mideast countries, which have been spurred in part by high unemployment, rising prices and the failure of those governments to provide economic opportunities for their people.

While sensitive to the risks, island leaders argue that comparisons with the Middle East are flawed, since in this case Cuba's leaders are driving the change, not the youth, and the unemployed will continue to receive nearly free housing and basic food, and free education and health care.

"The main problem is that a change of the kind that Cuba is trying to make is a change of the entire (economic) system. There is always going to be resistance and fear," said Arturo Lopez-Levy, an economist who left Cuba in 2001 and is now a lecturer at the University of Denver.

Despite the delay, the proposed layoffs are having a chilling effect on workers and their families.

A 48-year-old accountant at an electronics outlet in the capital said anxiety has been high since she and her co-workers were told her company was going to eliminate seven of 12 positions.

"That was nearly five months ago, and since then they haven't said anything," said Ana, who asked that her full name not be used for fear of losing her job. "We're just waiting."

An elegant woman with a nervous, rapid-fire manner of speaking, she said she was not sure what she would do if she were laid off. She has no interest in working on a farm and is not physically built for construction work - the two most likely alternative jobs. And she said she didn't want to get a license to work in the private sector either.

"I'm not a businessperson," she said. "I like what I am doing now."

Rodriguez, the ironworker, likes his job, too, and says he would happily put his skills to work on the free market if he were allowed, but ironwork is not on the list of 178 approved activities for which one can get a new license.

Rodriguez has been receiving his full salary of 300 pesos ($14) a month since he was ordered to stay home, though he has been told repeatedly that he would start getting just 60 percent if the situation continues.

Others say the anxiety has driven them over the edge, because they see little chance of the reforms succeeding.

Darien, a 28-year-old health technician who also declined to give his last name, said employees at the state-run hospital where he works were informed months ago that 14 positions would be eliminated, but not which ones. Since then, he says, his bosses haven't brought up the subject again - and nobody has been let go.

"Everyone was shocked when they told us, but nobody said a word," he said, a backpack slung over his white medical gown as he rushed along a street in central Havana. "I didn't say anything either, because frankly, I don't care anymore. I've had it with this country. I just want to go somewhere else."

Like Ana, he spoke on condition his last name not be used, for fear he might lose his job for speaking so openly.

Even those who have been told they will lose their job say the deadline has been pushed back repeatedly.

Marilu Blanco, a 44-year-old secretary for a tribunal in the tiny village of Bartolome Masso, in eastern Granma province, said she was warned her $16-a-month position would be eliminated in December, then January. Now her bosses are telling her it won't happen until at least March.

"They say they will offer me something else, but I have to wait," she said. "They've been saying the same thing since last year."

Associated Press reporters Andrea Rodriguez and Anne-Marie Garcia contributed to this report.


15) Thousands of Protesters Surround Wisconsin Capitol
February 19, 2011

Filed at 1:45 p.m. EST

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Thousands of protesters have gathered outside the Wisconsin Capitol for a fifth day of demonstrations on a budget bill that would strip public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights.

The bill has been pushed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Hundreds of his supporters have gathered on the east side of the Capitol but they are surrounded by thousands of pro-labor protesters.

The Walker supporters are shouting, "Pass the bill," while the pro-labor group chants, "Kill the bill."

Pro-labor protesters have already been at the Capitol for four days. Walker's supporters showed up Saturday with signs reading, "I was at work yesterday. Where were you?" and "Sorry, we're late Scott. We work for a living."


16) A New Turn as Lawyers Release Explosive, Secretly Recorded Tape
The Siddiqui Case
February 14, 2011

In 2003 an MIT-educated expert in children’s learning patterns, Dr Aafia Siddiqui, disappeared with her three children in Pakistan. Was she, as the Americans said, an Al Qaeda operative who in 2008 emerged after five years undercover, carrying a handbag full of chemicals and plans for major terror attacks in the US, and then attempted to shoot US soldiers? Or was she, as her family, and most people in Pakistan have always maintained, seized by Pakistani agents for reasons unknown?

Now new evidence of the kidnapping of Dr Siddiqui prises open part of one of the most shocking of the myriad individual stories of injustice in the war on terror. It also underlines the recklessness and perfidy of a key United States’ partner in the war on terror, which carries its own threat of explosion.

Dr Siddiqui was sentenced in a New York court last year to 86 years for attempted murder of US soldiers in Afghanistan. Her mysterious five-year disappearance before that, her reappearance in Afghanistan in 2008, her subsequent trial in the US, and the confusion surrounding all these events, have made Dr Siddiqui’s a symbolic case in much of the Muslim world. Now a senior law enforcement officer has claimed to have been involved personally on the day she was seized, with her three children, by Pakistani police agents in Karachi in March 2003 and handed over to the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI.

The FBI put out a “wanted for questioning” alert for Dr Siddiqui just before she disappeared. She was later high on the US wanted list, with the US claiming that she was living undercover as an Al Qaeda agent. She was a "clear and present danger to the US", the then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said in 2004. For all these years the Pakistani government repeatedly denied holding her, and after her arrest in Afghanistan in 2008 spent $2 million on US lawyers for her trial. After her conviction, the Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, committed himself to work for her return from a US prison. Dr Siddiqui had become, “the daughter of the nation” and the centre of a popular cause he could not afford to ignore.

The new evidence, on a secretly recorded audio tape, is a potential earthquake in the chronically unstable political situation in Pakistan, where rage against the US runs deep and wide, especially as civilian casualties mount with the use of drone aircraft. Already the case of Aafia Siddiqui has periodically brought tens of thousands of people out on the streets in the last two and a half years in protest at what has been done to her by the United States’ military and legal systems since she reemerged, in US custody and seriously wounded, in 2008. The Pakistani media have always claimed that the ISI was responsible for her disappearance and that the Americans were involved too. The tape reopens the whole question, not just of Dr Siddiqui, but of the corroding effect of the US alliance with Pakistan’s military and intelligence elite in a war on terror which has had so many Pakistani victims. The ISI has run its own agendas, hand in glove with various US officials at various periods, ever since the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and then becoming godfathers of various Afghan factions tearing that country apart. There are plenty of astute Pakistani journalists with the language skills to use this tape to the utmost to embarrass their own security services and the government.

For the US too there are questions to answer about the extensive cover-up of what happened to Dr Siddiqui and her three children - two of whom are US citizens, and appear to have spent five traumatized years separated from their mother and from each other, in various prisons. It is scarcely credible that high officials in the Bush and Obama administrations over the years were unaware of what their troublesome allies in Pakistan had done with her and her children.

On April 21 2003, a “senior U.S. law enforcement official” told Lisa Myers of NBC Nightly News that Siddiqui was in Pakistani custody. The same source retracted the statement the next day without explanation. “At the time,” Myers told Harpers Magazine, “we thought there was a possibility perhaps he’d spoken out of turn.”

According to the Associated Press, “[t]wo federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, initially said 31-year-old Aafia Siddiqui recently was taken into custody by Pakistani authorities.” But later, “the U.S. officials amended their earlier statements, saying new information from the Pakistani government made it ‘doubtful’ she was in custody.”

An FBI spokesperson also formally denied that the agency had any knowledge of Dr. Siddiqui’s whereabouts, stating that the FBI was not aware that she was in any nation’s custody.

Dr Siddiqui’s mother was visited by an unknown man a few hours after her disappearance and warned to keep her mouth shut if she ever wanted to see her daughter and grandchildren again. In 2003, in a closed hearing when the FBI had subpoenaed some documents from Dr Siddiqui’s sister, an FBI official confirmed to her family that she was alive and well, but would answer no questions on her whereabouts.

The new audio evidence was secretly taped in a social situation last year; children can be heard in the background. It was given, unsolicited, to one of the many lawyers involved in Dr Siddiqui’s case in the US. The source, whose identity has been protected, told lawyers at the International Justice Network that he had made the tape after a social evening when he had heard shocking things about Pakistani counter terrorism, about the fabrication of evidence, and about Dr Siddiqui’s disappearance, discussed casually by a senior official. He felt outraged and returned for a second evening with a recorder and got some of the previous discussion repeated. “If it can help anyone I had to do it,” he said to the IJN Executive Director Tina Foster who has represented Dr Siddiqui’s family since January 2010. IJN are experienced hands in war on terror cases. They represent a number of prisoners in Bagram air base prison in Afghanistan, some of them rendered from Abu Ghraib, Dubai and Thailand by the CIA, as well as several disappeared people in Pakistan.)

The witness is a Pakistani/American and he has been extensively interviewed by IJN’s lawyers who tell me they are entirely confident of the tape’s authenticity, the source’s account and thus the identity of the prime subject.

IJN’s source says he was introduced by a mutual friend whose home he was visiting, to a man he identified to lawyers at International Justice Network as Imran Shaukat, the Superintendent of Police for Sindh province.

A full report, and the four hour tape, in Urdu, Punjabi and English, is being released by the International Justice Network in the United States at 6am EDT Monday, and can be accessed here and, here with the permission of the witness. Portions of the tape concerning Dr Siddiqui were made available to this reporter and were independently translated for this article. As of midnight Sunday, EDT, this excerpt can be listened to here.

Mr Shaukat (who is voice 2 on the tape) says, “I am stationed in Karachi. I head the counter terrorism department for Sindh province.”

In the key passage in the tape for the Siddiqui case he is asked by:

Voice 1 (who is the witness) ”Did you arrest her?”

V 2. “Yes, I arrested her. She wore glasses and a veil….. When she was caught she was travelling to Islamabad….She was hobnobbing with clerics. …..

V 1 “ So what happened after the arrest. Did ISI ask for her custody?”

V 2 “Yes, we gave her to ISI”

V 1 “ISI or something else?”

V 2 “ISI, so we gave her to them.”

Mr Shaukat also describes her as “stick thin” and “a psycho”, and, elsewhere as “not a handler, a minor facilitator” – presumably for Al Qaeda - and he mentions a connection to Osama Bin Laden. Asked then why couldn’t she help them get Bin Laden, he replies, “Well, they are not fools. They wouldn’t inform her of their forwarding address.” And he says too about the children, “we took them with us. They were American nationals, children are American nationals, they were all born there.”

There is some discussion on the tape about the return of her daughter, Maryam. (Two unidentified voices are also heard.)

V1: Oh, another thing. They found her daughter yesterday.

V2: She’s home already.

V1: Yes, she’s home. She speaks English only. She was in the prison. She is seven or eight years old. And she only speaks English.

UM1: Eight years old?

V1: Yeah. Children were in prison and they spoke to them in American English.

UM1: Is she home?

V1: Yeah. They got her home.

V2: They were actually, I.

V1: Really?

V2: It’s five or six months.

UM2: Is she in Karachi?

V1: She got home today, yesterday.

V2: Well, it goes back to before I came here.

V1: I read the news just yesterday, today. Maybe, in the night.

V2: It’s two or three-months old.

All that has been reported in the public domain to date is that Maryam was returned a day or two before the recording. But, according to the childrens’ lawyer, Tina Foster, Mr Shaukat’s description is consistent with how Maryam was repatriated to Pakistan.

Elsewhere in the tape Imran Shaukat talks about how the Pakistani police and ISI work to “disappear” or to use people they have taken into custody. According to Amina Masood Janjua at Defence for Human Rights, there are currently about 500 people who have disappeared in Pakistan as part of the “war on terror” – this does not include Sindhi and Balochi separatists. Part of the audio describes the doctoring or manufacturing of documents, creating false identities, using body doubles, with reference to various terrorist attacks, including Mumbai. “This is a game of double dealing, direct them right and exit left,” Mr Shaukat says at one point.

Such details are an explanation of the extraordinary litany of contradictory stories about Dr Siddiqui, including curious reported sightings by family members, that were launched into the public domain over the five years after her disappearance. In this John Le Carre world of ruthless manipulation of the vulnerable it is impossible to know how, or whether, she could have been used in counter terrorism’s goal at the time of finding Osama Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan.

From other sources it has been established that Dr Siddiqui was separated from her children for the five years of her ordeal, and that the two older children, born in 1996 and 1998, were not together, but in separate prisons, and that the third child, Suleman who was six months old on the day of the disappearance, probably died then.

For nearly eight years now, manufactured confusion has surrounded the disappearance and the subsequent whereabouts of Dr Siddiqui and her three children.

The confusion only deepened with the second section of the story, which was her mysterious reappearance in 2008 in Afghanistan, and the bizarre circumstances of her being seriously wounded by two shots to the stomach by a US soldier. John Kiriakou, a retired CIA officer with extensive background in Al Qaeda- related work told ABC News, “I don’t think we’ve captured anybody as important and as well connected as she since 2003. We knew that she had been planning, or at least involved in the planning of, a wide variety of different operations.” Such statements set the tone for the Western media on her return under arrest to the US.

Her subsequent trial in New York, ending with the 86 year sentence, is the third section, when, extraordinarily, Al Qaeda and terrorism were not made part of the case against her which was narrowly focussed on the alleged attempted murder incident.

Dr Siddiqui’s background was an unexceptional one of a highly educated young woman from a privileged, professional family, some of them settled in the US and most of them educated in the West. She spent a decade studying at universities in Texas, and at MIT - where she graduated in biology summa cum laude - and at Brandeis, where she took a PHD in cognitive neuroscience. She specialized in the science of how children learn, and in addition had a class teaching dyslexic children. Besides her academic work she lived a busy life in the Muslim community in Boston, attending cake sales and auctions to raise money for Muslim refugees in the Bosnian war. She was married to a doctor from Pakistan in a classic arranged ceremony conducted by phone. The couple had two children.

Life in Boston soured when her marriage began to break down. There are reports from her professors in Boston that they saw her with bruises on her face. And her husband, Dr Amjad Khan, told Harpers Magazine reporter Petra Bartosiewicz in 2008 that his wife had once had to go to hospital after he threw a bottle at her. There are photographs of her with a deep cut across her face. She returned home to Pakistan in late 2001. In a brief reconciliation back in the US a few months later she became pregnant with her third child. On August 15, 2002, after an incident in which witnesses claim that Dr Khan pushed him, Dr. Siddiqui’s father collapsed and died of a heart attack. A few days later, while Dr. Siddiqui was still pregnant with their youngest child, Suleman, Amjad Khan separated from her and immediately married again. Dr Khan gave custody of the children to Dr Siddiqui on condition they received an exclusively Islamic education

Dr Khan came under FBI suspicion in May 2002 for various items purchased by him on the internet when the couple were living in Boston. He said they were for big game hunting, and he was not arrested, but both he and his wife had come under suspicion.

In March, 2003, a global alert went out with both of them wanted for questioning by the FBI. A few weeks after Aafia Siddiqui disappeared, her husband had a four-hour interview with US and Pakistani agents, and US suspicions of Dr Khan were dropped. About two months later Dr Khan travelled to Saudi Arabia for some time.

Dr Khan told Harpers Magazine – “The Intelligence factory – how America makes its enemies disappear”, by CounterPunch contributor Petra Bartosiewicz - that his “contacts in the agencies” informed him then that Siddiqui had gone underground. He went on to say that he had no idea where his children were —a claim he would later contradict. He also told Harpers that he and his driver saw Siddiqui in a taxi in Karachi in 2005. But they did not follow her. After her arrest in 2008 Mr Khan told a reporter from the Pakistani daily News that he thought his former wife was an “extremist” and that of course she had been on the run. After Ms Bartosiewicz left Pakistan, she had an email from Dr Khan saying that he had received “confidential good news” from the ISI that Mariam and Suleman were “alive and well” with their aunt Fowzia. (In fact at that point one was in prison and the other was dead.)

Dr Siddiqui’s disappearance in March 2003 came amid a feverish whirl of arrests and disappearances in Pakistan, including Khaled Sheikh Mohammad, who has claimed to have been the master mind of 9/11, and many other Al Qaeda related attacks, and has been named as the killer of US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002. Khaled Sheikh Mohammad was important enough to the Americans to be water-boarded 183 times. Shortly after Dr Siddiqui’s disappearance, Khaled Sheikh Mohammad’s nephew, Ammar Baluchi, was arrested in connection with 9/11. The two men were taken to Guantanamo Bay, then to various CIA-run secret prisons known as “black sites” for torture, before being returned to Guantanamo Bay.

US officials then had Dr Siddiqui on an Al Qaeda “wanted” list and linked her to Baluchi, claiming he was her second husband. Her family, and other sources in Pakistan have denied the marriage, but it remains probably the most repeated detail about her and the one that has given her an indelible image as a terrorist. This was not the only lurid story about her – she was also alleged in a UN report to have been a courier of blood diamonds from Liberia for Al Qaeda with a sighting reported there in June, 2001. Her lawyer, Elaine Sharp stated that Dr Siddiqui had been in Boston at that time and she could prove it. That story died away, but the further damage to her reputation was done.

For five years nothing sure was in the public domain about what happened to her and the children, though the rumours grew, turning her into a tragic martyr for many, or a poster for Al Qaeda ruthlessness for others . Several former detainees at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan claimed to have seen her there, while US officials quoted in Wilileaks denied she had been.

A senior Pakistani journalist, Najeed Ahmed, followed the story for five years and reported witness testimony of someone who claimed to have been part of the arresting team, which he said was a joint operation with the FBI. (Mr Ahmed made a public statement about his research in 2009, but died the next day, reportedly of a heart attack.)

In mid-July 2008 Pakistanti lawyers filed a habeas corpus for Dr Siddiqui in Islamabad. And within days, in Act 2 of the drama, Aafia Siddiqui reappeared, in Ghazni, in Afghanistan, allegedly carrying in her handbag chemicals, instructions for making biological weapons, and plans for terrorist strikes with mass casualties in the US. She was then involved in a shooting incident in a police station in Ghazni in which she was badly wounded by a US soldier. It is uncontested that she was seated behind a curtain in a small room, where, according to the US soldiers, one of them put down his gun and she came from behind the curtain, seized it and attempted to shoot. She says she merely looked round the curtain. None of the soldiers or FBI personnel present were hurt, but she was hospitalized with two shots in her abdomen and brought under arrest to the US.

Act 3 was her trial in New York for attempted murder of soldiers and FBI agents with an M4 rifle, picked up from the floor near a US soldier. There were no charges of terrorism or Al Qaeda links.

Dr Siddiqui had a tangle of high-flying legal teams, several of whom were not on good terms. Her first court appointed lawyer, Liz Fink, a famous New York political lawyer, withdrew, and the second team appointed by the court, was headed by Dawn Cardi, an expert in matrimonial and family law. The lawyers funded by the Pakistani government were led by Linda Moreno, an attorney with successful experiences in two high profile war on terror related cases, those of Professor Sami Al-Arian and Ghassan Elashi, and who is a Guantanamo Bay defence lawyer with security clearance. Ms Moreno is also known for earlier political work as one of the lawyers for the American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier. Her team included Charles Swift, formerly a military defender of Guantanamo detainees who made a reputation as a critic of the Military Commission system, and Elaine Sharp.

Even the narrow grounds of the case on the shooting was full of curiosities and contradictions: there was no physical evidence on the gun of Dr Siddiqui having held it, no bullet casings from it or holes in the walls of the small room where it took place, except from the other gun which wounded her. Defence counsel made two visits to Afghanistan to get the forensic evidence, which could, and should, have got the whole case dismissed. Linda Moreno described the defence forensic case as “very compelling, with no physical evidence whatsoever that she ever touched the gun….no DNA, no fingerprints, no bullets recovered, no bullet holes.” The military and FBI witnesses, Ms Moreno said, contradicted each other, and under cross-examination even contradicted their own earlier stories. She went on to say that “the government wanted to scare the jury with stories of her alleged terrorist past, and steered away from the actual case.”

One key piece of evidence was not in the trial and only emerged from Wikileaks, which revealed a Defense Department report that was not released by the military, so was unavailable as evidence in Dr Siddiqui’s defence. The incident report does not say Dr Siddiqui fired the gun she is alleged to have snatched and fired, merely that she "pointed" it. “Six American soldiers took the stand – powerful testimony for a jury. I argued, what happened at the front, stays at the front. The Wikileaks document would have added to my argument about the dubious credibility of the soldiers,” Ms Moreno told me.

Dr Siddiqui’s relations with her lawyers were impossibly difficult and she tried repeatedly to fire them. Most never saw her except in court. Linda Moreno told me, “She was clearly damaged – extraordinarily frail, very tiny. It broke my heart when Aafia did not trust anyone, me, the other lawyers……although I could understand it. She reminded me of American/Indian resisters I worked with way back……. her resistance was clearly to the legal process and she saw all the attorneys as part of that process.”

Against the lawyers’ strongest advice, Dr Siddiqui spoke in court herself. She said that she had been tortured, and rendered to the US, and that her children were also tortured in “the secret prison”. The government never rebutted these allegations. But she lost the jury, who looked openly sceptical. “Sadly, she came over as sometimes arrogant and capricious, and sometimes rambling” according to Ms Moreno. Another observer said, “she was very articulate, intelligent, well-spoken, and people mistook that for well functioning.”

With so much confected fear and prejudice against her going back years, a media that did not hold back in its characterization of her as Al Qaeda Mommy, and the impact of six soldiers testifying against her, a New York jury’s guilty verdict was probably a foregone conclusion. But Judge Berman’s sentence that would put her away for life, was not. Ms Moreno described the event, “in my 30 years of trials I have never seen anything like what happened on sentencing day – the judge walked into court and handed out pre-printed power point presentations on how he had come to decide on 86 years…….”

Two veteran lawyers not connected with this case, but with extensive experience in other cases related to the war on terror, described the sentence, respectively, as “extraordinary”, “ridiculous….. outrageous”, and one described the case as “absolutely full of holes.” An appeal is planned.

Meanwhile part of the story of the missing five years is in the heads of two of her three children - the two older ones who are US citizens. When they emerged – separately - in Pakistan, they were reunited with Dr Siddiqui’s mother, and her sister , Fowzia, who is a Harvard-trained child psychiatrist and neurologist, in Karachi. They have never told their stories, but even the little that is known hints at the horror this family has lived through.

The older one, Ahmed, then aged 12, told his aunt that he only met his mother the day after she was picked up in Ghazni, and that he did not recognize her after five years apart. Fuzzy film footage of them together being questioned in a press conference the day after his mother was found, has long circulated on the internet. This was the morning before the shooting incident.

Ahmed remembers nothing about what happened to him next, only that he was visited by a US consular official in Afghanistan who told him that he was a US citizen. The official also told him that his brother, Suleman, was dead.

Ahmed remembers being taken out of the taxi where he was with his mother and siblings five years before, and remembers, before he lost consciousness, seeing the baby, six month old Suleman, lying in the road and bleeding. Ahmed, told his aunt that he had been called Ali, and several other different names, while he was in custody, and that when he was told his name now was Ahmed, he knew that meant he was going to be moved again. She initially reported that he was suffering from PTSD and that he needed extensive psychological help.

His sister Maryam, reappeared nearly two years later, in April 2010. She spoke perfect English with an American accent and no Urdu. She was simply dropped off outside the family home in Karachi with a note on a string around her neck. At some stage the Afghan prime minister Hamid Karzai was contacted by the family for help in getting both children back.

There are very powerful vested interests that have worked to prevent Dr Siddiqui from ever giving an account that would be believed of what happened to her. The same interests are still at work trying to prevent the two children from ever becoming witnesses in this backstory of the war on terror. Late last year a kidnap attempt was made on the children, despite the family home being guarded by armed Pakistani police 24 hours a day. Two men, carrying firearms and holding big sacks, were found behind the door of the children’s bedroom by their grandmother. The men ran off when she screamed, and were driven away by a waiting car nearby, before the police guards to the house could catch them.

The release of the tape gives a lever to Pakistani public opinion and Pakistani opposition politicians such as Imran Khan, who have long supported the family, towards forcing an end to this sinister ordeal, with the return home of Dr Siddiqui.

And there is another lever just now. Tina Foster of IJN has written to the Interior Minister Mr Rehman Malik, reminding him that in over a year of meetings he has been promising to help in Dr Siddiqui’s repatriation. The letter says that now, when the US is demanding the return of the US government employee Raymond Davis, held after a shooting incident in Pakistan in which he is alleged to have killed two men, is the government’s best ever chance to negotiate an exchange. The new threat by some congressmen to withhold aid from Pakistan if he is not returned, Hilary Clinton cancelling a meeting with Pakistan’s foreign minister, and the report of possible espionage charges against Davis, ratchet up a pressure that could change the prospects for Dr Siddiqui.

Whether Dr Siddiqui will ever be able to tell the full story of what happened to her over five years is another question. It is hard to imagine making anything close a recovery from such multiple personal and family trauma, in which she was isolated from every solid link with her past identity. Did the ISI use her, or her identity, on errands to Al Qaeda? “A minor facilitator”, as the tape calls her? The contradictions in her own reported words, such as allegedly telling FBI agents while she was in a military hospital shot through the stomach and in restraints, that she was indeed married to the notorious Khaled Sheikh Mohammad’s nephew Baluchi, are manifold, but not any guide to the truth.

In her initial weeks in a US prison in Brooklyn she exhibited deeply disturbed behaviour such as saying she was saving her food for her children. Her mental state has since deteriorated and is very unpredictable, according to lawyer Elaine Sharp who has visited her several times. She is now incarcerated in solitary confinement in the Carswell Federal Medical Centre at Fort Worth, Texas, the only US prison medical facility for women. She has no contact with the outside world. Three of the four prison psychiatrists who interviewed her for the court said they believed she was “malingering” and that her mental illness was faked. But, given the record of some doctors’ contribution to government work in the war on terror, it is hard to find this persuasive in the face of the known facts of her separation from her children in traumatic circumstances, her long isolation, and the documented brutal procedures of the ISI in many other cases.

In the US none of the lawyers, doctors, politicians and intelligence agents who devised and participated in the horrors done to so many individuals as part of the war on terror, have paid any price in public for it. But in this case there is the force of public opinion in Pakistan which will demand nothing less than public trials of those responsible for ordering Dr Siddiqui’s kidnapping, as well as those who carried it out, and were part of the vast charade that has been played with her over those years.

Victoria Brittain is a former associate foreign editor of the Guardian. Her books include Hidden Lives, Hidden Deaths and Death of Dignity. She has spent much of her working life in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. She can be reached at