Saturday, February 26, 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.

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 March 13, 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:




U.S. out of the Middle East/North Africa/Palestine!
Solidarity with the Revolt in Libya
Saturday, February 26, 1:00 P.M.
UN Plaza, Market and 8th Street
San Francisco


San Francisco Supports Wisconsin Workers
Rally for the American Dream
Support the Middle Class
Saturday, February 26
Across from San Francisco City Hall (Two blocks from Civic Center BART station)

In major cities, and in front of every single state capitol building, progressives will come out tomorrow to show that we're sick of watching the middle class get squeezed. We won't let the American Dream slip away.

Now, it's up to us to make the San Francisco rally even bigger so that tomorrow goes down in history as the day the tide turned-and we started rebuilding the American Dream.

Here are three easy, but critical ways to spread the word:

Get the word out on Facebook. Posting about the event on Facebook is a great way to make sure all your friends know you're going and that they should join you. It's really easy. Just click here:

Personally invite your friends and family. People are more likely to attend an event if they're personally invited by a friend or family member.
Post about the rallies on Twitter. Spreading the word on Twitter helps build buzz for the rallies. Make sure to use the hashtag, #WeAreWI.

To donate food and cleaning supplies to the protesters, please visit:


National Day of Action March 2, 2011
Jobs with Justice

For the past week we have seen students, workers, faith and community come together and prevent attacks to the public sector across the country. These attacks are threatening the basic structures of our society, including the right to an education and the right to full and fair employment. It is time to take action and demand a stop to the cuts!

Student Labor Action Project, a project between United States Student Association and Jobs with Justice, is calling a national day of action on March 2nd to defend the public sector.

State budget cuts to higher education are being made in states across the country and workers face cuts to pay, healthcare and pensions. Many of the workers on college campuses are caught in the crisis of both attacks to the public sector.

Join us on March 2nd to demand that the attacks on the public sector are stopped immediately. It's time to:

Protect the vital public services our community needs, and the jobs of the people who deliver those services; Ensure that higher education remains affordable and accessible to all; Call for our elected leaders to recognize the emergency and take bold action to create new jobs that will put people back to work, rebuild our country's infrastructure, and invest in higher education; and Support workers seeking a job with justice, a living wage, the right to organize a union, a fair contract and a voice at work.

Never before has USSA, SLAP, and Jobs with Justice all come together for a single call to action. The vital importance of fighting the pandemic attacks on public education and workers required each to unite with one voice in action.

Sign up to organize with us on March 2nd we continue building a movement that prioritizes public need over corporate greed.

In solidarity,
Sarita Gupta


To mark the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day
Mothers March and Rally
Tuesday, March 8, 2011 SF w All welcome
End Poverty, Criminalization, War and Occupation
Gather: 4:30pm,16th & Mission (nr BART)

Stops at Welfare Dept, Chase Bank, Federal Building
Invest in caring not killing!
We march because:

· Mothers produce/care for the world's people, while war & profit destroy us.
· Most women do caring work - mothers, grandmothers, daughters, partners. Unrecognized, unpaid or low paid we
care for children, older people, people
with disabilities, Vets, each other....
· In Haiti & Palestine, wherever there is an occupation, women do the survival work without which resistance would be impossible.
· Resources go to weapons & banks, not
to caregivers, healthy food, accessible affordable housing, breast-feeding support, health care, education, living wages, pay equity, care of Mother Earth.
· Budget cuts increase hunger & threaten those of us on lowest incomes, starting with communities of color.
· Poverty, uncaring social services & immigration laws tear children from us.
· Sex workers & homeless people are jailed not supported. As in Oscar Grant shooting, police use our children as target practice. LGBTQ denied civil rights.
· We're robbed of benefits, services & wages that our unwaged & low waged labor & taxes have paid for. We face eviction & foreclosures.

Everywhere people are risking their lives to bring change - from Palestine to Egypt,
from Haiti to Colombia, from the Philippines to Kenya & Nigeria ...

Mothers Marches in CA, Philly, Haiti, Guyana, India, Peru, UK

Planning Group Bay Area: Haiti Action Committee; Legal Action for Women; Ruckus Society; US PROStitutes Collective; Wages Due Lesbians; Women of Color/GWS and individuals from the Bay Area and Santa Cruz. 415-626-4114


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]


[This is a great video. Kipp Dawson, the school teacher in the video, is an old]

Middle Class Revolution
Hundreds packed USW headquarters Feb. 24. 2011, to rally for the middle class and stand up against attacks on workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere. Check out highlights here.


Wisconsin "Budget Repair Bill" Protest



'We Stand With You as You Stood With Us': Statement to Workers of Wisconsin by Kamal Abbas of Egypt's Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services
February 20th, 2011 3:45 PM

About Kamal Abbas and the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services:

Kamal Abbas is General Coordinator of the CTUWS, an umbrella advocacy organization for independent unions in Egypt. The CTUWS, which was awarded the 1999 French Republic's Human Rights Prize, suffered repeated harassment and attack by the Mubarak regime, and played a leading role in its overthrow. Abbas, who witnessed friends killed by the regime during the 1989 Helwan steel strike and was himself arrested and threatened numerous times, has received extensive international recognition for his union and civil society leadership.

KAMAL ABBAS: I am speaking to you from a place very close to Tahrir Square in Cairo, "Liberation Square", which was the heart of the Revolution in Egypt. This is the place were many of our youth paid with their lives and blood in the struggle for our just rights.

From this place, I want you to know that we stand with you as you stood with us.

I want you to know that no power can challenge the will of the people when they believe in their rights. When they raise their voices loud and clear and struggle against exploitation.

No one believed that our revolution could succeed against the strongest dictatorship in the region. But in 18 days the revolution achieved the victory of the people. When the working class of Egypt joined the revolution on 9 and 10 February, the dictatorship was doomed and the victory of the people became inevitable.

We want you to know that we stand on your side. Stand firm and don't waiver. Don't give up on your rights. Victory always belongs to the people who stand firm and demand their just rights.

We and all the people of the world stand on your side and give you our full support.

As our just struggle for freedom, democracy and justice succeeded, your struggle will succeed. Victory belongs to you when you stand firm and remain steadfast in demanding your just rights.

We support you. we support the struggle of the peoples of Libya, Bahrain and Algeria, who are fighting for their just rights and falling martyrs in the face of the autocratic regimes. The peoples are determined to succeed no matter the sacrifices and they will be victorious.

Today is the day of the American workers. We salute you American workers! You will be victorious. Victory belongs to all the people of the world, who are fighting against exploitation, and for their just rights.


Stop LAPD Stealing of Immigrant's Cars

On Februrary 19, 2011 Members of the Southern California Immigration Coalition (SCIC) organized and engaged in direct action to defend the people of Los Angeles, CA from the racist LAPD "Sobriety" Checkpoints that are a poorly disguised trap to legally steal the cars from working class people in general and undocumented people in particular. Please disseminate this link widely.




Protesters weather major snowstorm in Wausau, Wisconsin.


[For subtitles, press the little red cc at the bottom, right of the screen.]

Sout Al Horeya Amir Eid - Hany Adel - Hawary On Guitar & Sherif On Keyboards


Hymn of Egyptian revolution on Youtube with EN subtitels "Saut al Hurria" (Voice of the revolution)

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


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


The Most Heroic Word in All Languages is Revolution

By Eugene Debs

Eugene Debs, that greatest son of the Middle American west, wrote this in 1907 in celebration of that year's May Day events. It retains all of its vibrancy and vitality as events breathe new life into the global struggle for emancipation. "Revolution" remains the most heroic word in every language. -The Rustbelt Radical

Today the slaves of all the world are taking a fresh breath in the long and weary march; pausing a moment to clear their lungs and shout for joy; celebrating in festal fellowship their coming Freedom.

All hail the Labor Day of May!

The day of the proletarian protest;

The day of stern resolve;

The day of noble aspiration.

Raise high this day the blood-red Standard of the Revolution!

The banner of the Workingman;

The flag, the only flag, of Freedom.

Slavery, even the most abject-dumb and despairing as it may seem-has yet its inspiration. Crushed it may be, but extinguished never. Chain the slave as you will, O Masters, brutalize him as you may, yet in his soul, though dead, he yearns for freedom still.

The great discovery the modern slaves have made is that they themselves must achieve. This is the secret of their solidarity; the heart of their hope; the inspiration that nerves them all with sinews of steel.

They are still in bondage, but no longer cower;

No longer grovel in the dust,

But stand erect like men.

Conscious of their growing power the future holds up to them her outstretched hands.

As the slavery of the working class is international, so the movement for its emancipation.

The salutation of slave to slave this day is repeated in every human tongue as it goes ringing round the world.

The many millions are at last awakening. For countless ages they have suffered; drained to the dregs the bitter cup of misery and woe.

At last, at last the historic limitation has been reached, and soon a new sun will light the world.

Red is the life-tide of our common humanity and red our symbol of universal kinship.

Tyrants deny it; fear it; tremble with rage and terror when they behold it.

We reaffirm it and on this day pledge anew our fidelity-come life or death-to the blood-red Banner of the Revolution.

Socialist greetings this day to all our fellow-workers! To the god-like souls in Russia marching grimly, sublimely into the jaws of hell with the Song of the Revolution in their death-rattle; to the Orient, the Occident and all the Isles of the Sea!


The most heroic word in all languages is REVOLUTION.

It thrills and vibrates; cheers and inspires. Tyrants and time-servers fear it, but the oppressed hail it with joy.

The throne trembles when this throbbing word is lisped, but to the hovel it is food for the famishing and hope for the victims of despair.

Let us glorify today the revolutions of the past and hail the Greater Revolution yet to come before Emancipation shall make all the days of the year May Days of peace and plenty for the sons and daughters of toil.

It was with Revolution as his theme that Mark Twain's soul drank deep from the fount of inspiration. His immortality will rest at last upon this royal tribute to the French Revolution:

"The ever memorable and blessed revolution, which swept a thousand years of villainy away in one swift tidal wave of blood-one: a settlement of that hoary debt in the proportion of half a drop of blood for each hogshead of it that had been pressed by slow tortures out of that people in the weary stretch of ten centuries of wrong and shame and misery the like of which was not to be mated but in hell. There were two Reigns of Terror, if we would but remember it and consider it: the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death on ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the horrors of the minor Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heartbreak? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror, which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over, but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves."

-The Rustbelt Radical, February 25, 2011


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


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) Arizona Lawmakers Push New Round of Immigration Restrictions
February 23, 2011

2) Georgia: Prison Guards Charged in Beating
February 23, 2011

3) Mississippi: Sisters in Kidney Deal Must Lose Weight
[Note: The Scott sisters were convicted and sentenced to life in a plot to steal $11.00 from a white man. Check out their story at:]
February 23, 2011

4) A Life on the Streets, Captured on Twitter
February 24, 2011, 7:00 am

5) Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) calls on all U.S. military service members to refuse and resist any mobilization against workers organizing to protect their basic rights
Todd Denis from IVAW Madison Reading the IVAW statement from the floor.
Via Email

6) Keep the Arboretum Free

7) Hundreds of Thousands Protest Across Mideast
February 25, 2011

8) Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.
[Just want to remind Mr. Krugman and our readers that President Obama has frozen the wages of federal employees for the next five years. Is he a Republican? Or the leading head of the Democratic Party. And, by the way, Democratic Governor Brown in California is pushing forward his own drastic cuts and]
February 24, 2011

9) Jury Nullification Advocate Is Indicted
February 25, 2011

10) In the Cradle of Libya's Uprising, the Rebels Learn to Govern Themselves
February 24, 2011

11) In Yemeni City, Protest Movement Grows
February 25, 2011

12) Enlisting Prison Labor to Close Budget Gaps
February 24, 2011

13) Libya: Popular democratic uprising in favour of the West?
"Yes to people's power in Benghazi, no to sanctions or military intervention"
Willi Langthaler
Feb 25th 2011

14) Absorbing the Pain
February 25, 2011

15) Wisconsin Assembly Passes Anti-Union Bill as Senate Democrats Stay Away
February 25, 2011

16) Delivering Moral Support in a Steady Stream of Pizzas
"The shop has had to increase its daily staff to 19, from its normal eight. 'We usually go through one ton of flour a week,' Nick Martin, one of the shop's owners, said. 'This week we did three tons.'" [Now who would have thunk that an ongoing protest against attacks against labor would produce new jobs? WAY TO GO WISCONSIN PROTESTERS!...BW]
February 25, 2011

17) Workers' Uprising: Two Dozen Protests Launched Across Wisconsin, TV Talk Show Blackout of Union Reps
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on February 21, 2011, Printed on February 26, 2011


1) Arizona Lawmakers Push New Round of Immigration Restrictions
February 23, 2011

PHOENIX - Arizona lawmakers are proposing a sweeping package of immigration restrictions that might make the controversial measures the state approved last year, which the Obama administration went to court to block, look mild.

Illegal immigrants would be barred from driving in the state, enrolling in school or receiving most public benefits. Their children would receive special birth certificates that would make clear that the state does not consider them Arizona citizens.

Some of the bills, like those restricting immigrants' access to schooling and right to state citizenship, flout current federal law and are being put forward to draw legal challenges in hopes that the Supreme Court might rule in the state's favor.

Arizona drew considerable scorn last year when it passed legislation compelling police officers to inquire about the immigration status of those they stopped whom they suspected were in the country illegally. Critics said the law would lead to racial profiling of Latinos, and a federal judge agreed that portions of the law, known as Senate Bill 1070, were unconstitutional.

Similar legal challenges are likely to come in response to the latest round of legislation, some of which cleared a key Senate committee early Wednesday after a long debate that drew hundreds of protesters, some for and some against the crackdown.

"This bill is miles beyond S.B. 1070 in terms of its potential to roll back the rights and fundamental freedoms of both citizens and noncitizens alike," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Arizona. She said the measures would create "a 'papers, please' society" and that a new crime - "driving while undocumented" - would be added to the books.

Despite boycotts and accusations that the state has become a haven of intolerance, Arizona won plaudits last year from immigration hardliners across the country. On Tuesday night, the Indiana Senate voted to allow its police officers to question people stopped for infractions on their immigration status, one of numerous proposals inspired by Arizona's law.

"If you are ever going to stop this invasion, and it is an invasion, you have to quit rewarding people for breaking those laws," said State Senator Russell Pearce, the Senate president, who is leading Arizona's effort to try to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they stop coming, or leave.

Opponents said the changes were a drastic rewriting of the core values of the country. In Tucson, a community group was so enraged by what it called the extremist nature of the proposals from Phoenix that it proposed severing the state in two, creating what some call Baja Arizona.

"Denying citizenship to children because they have parents without documents is crazy," said the Rev. Javier Perez, a Roman Catholic priest and immigrant from Mexico who waited in the legislative chamber into the night Tuesday for a chance to speak. "Honestly, I don't think anything I say will change their minds, but it's immoral what they're doing and we have to say this is against the values of America."

The measures would compel school officials to ask for proof of citizenship for students and require hospitals to similarly ask for papers for those receiving non-emergency care. Illegal immigrants would be blocked from obtaining any state licenses, including those for marriage. Landlords would be forced to evict the entire family from public housing if one illegal immigrant were found living in a unit. Illegal immigrants found driving would face 30 days in jail and forfeit the vehicle to the state.

The measures are not assured of passage. Although Republicans have a majority in the Legislature, the restrictions on citizenship failed to win approval in the Judiciary Committee this month, so they were rerouted to the Appropriations Committee, where they won passage.

Some state lawmakers said their constituents were furious over the Obama administration's lawsuit challenging the last immigration law and wanted the state to continue pressing the issue. Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, said the state would file a countersuit against the federal government accusing it of not enforcing immigration laws.

Supporters of the crackdown include Katie Dionne, who described herself as an "average, everyday American" who wanted to prevent illegal immigrants from changing her way of life. "If their life is so wonderful why did they leave where they're from?" she asked senators.

Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security and a former Arizona governor, cites statistics showing that the influx of illegal immigrants across the Arizona border has declined markedly with significant increases in federal resources. But that has done little to ameliorate the feeling of crisis expressed by many Arizona politicians.

The state's business community, stung by a boycott that has reduced the number of conventions in the state, generally opposes the new round of restrictions. "This will put Arizona through another trial and hurt innocent businesspeople who are just trying to get ahead," said Glenn Hamer of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


2) Georgia: Prison Guards Charged in Beating
February 23, 2011

Seven prison guards were arrested Monday on charges of beating an inmate so badly that he sustained brain injuries and was partly paralyzed. The inmate, Terrance B. Dean, 29, in prison for armed robbery, was assaulted by the guards in December after an argument, according to a recent investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The arrests follow a period of strife for Georgia's corrections department. In December, inmates in at least four prisons refused to work until their living conditions improved. Mr. Dean's beating was not related to the strike, but it was uncovered during the state's investigation of the strike, said his lawyer, Mario Williams.


3) Mississippi: Sisters in Kidney Deal Must Lose Weight
[Note: The Scott sisters were convicted and sentenced to life in a plot to steal $11.00 from a white man. Check out their story at:]
February 23, 2011

A kidney transplant that won two sisters their freedom from prison cannot take place until one quits smoking and they lose a combined 160 pounds. Jamie and Gladys Scott had served 16 years of their life sentences for a robbery in Mississippi when they were released on Jan. 7 and moved to Pensacola, Fla. Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi set a condition of release that Gladys give a kidney to Jamie, who has from kidney failure. Gladys had volunteered to do so. Jamie Scott said Wednesday that a doctor said she had to lose 100 pounds for the operation. She said Gladys must lose 60 pounds and stop smoking.


4) A Life on the Streets, Captured on Twitter
February 24, 2011, 7:00 am

Yana Paskova for The New York Times Derrick Wiggins, a homeless man who has a Twitter account, posting in a Starbucks in Manhattan.

Derrick Wiggins, 44, began his daily tweeting at 5:41 Wednesday morning, and it wasn't about the quality of his French roast coffee or his favorite "American Idol" contestant.

It was to let his roughly 3,800 followers know that he had woken up safely in the New York City Rescue Mission, a drop-in shelter on Lafayette Street, and eaten breakfast there.

His next message, at 6:03 a.m., outlined his immediate plans: "It is going to be a cold day my plans are to minimize the amount of exposure to the cold by making use of the subway."

Mr. Wiggins's Twitter handle is @awitness2011, and the profile on his Twitter page explains that he is "tweeting from a prepaid cell phone." It identifies him as "A native New Yorker and a Giants fan. Homeless."

Mr. Wiggins is one of four homeless men who were given prepaid cellphones so that they could create a Twitter following, as part of a project started by three recent college graduates who are interns at the BBH advertising agency in TriBeCa.

"We had the idea to use social media to help out the homeless," said one of the interns, Rosemary Melchoir. "One goal was to increase the interaction between homeless people and the community around them."
Yana Paskova for The New York Times Tweeting on a prepaid cellphone.

The agency gave her and her two partners, Robert Weeks and Willy Wang, $1,000 and this directive: "Do something good, famously." They created a Web site called Underheard in New York, whose goal is to "help homeless New Yorkers speak for themselves through Twitter."

Mr. Wiggins's messages include no links to the latest online article, no witty use of juvenile texting lingo, no gratuitous pop culture references. But through his brief, quickly typed bursts every hour or two, his followers gain a glimpse into the life of a New Yorker with no home.

By 9 a.m. Wednesday, he wrote that he had found warmth on the subway.

"The trains are warm and clean, a suitable refuge from the cold," read a message posted at 9:13 a.m. He posted a photograph he snapped with his phone, of a homeless man sleeping on the subway, behind a shopping cart full of belongings.

"Who's son, brother, uncle or father is he? What services are available?" Mr. Wiggins wrote.

Mr. Wiggins typically writes a dozen times a day, often posting a "good night" from his bunk bed in the shelter room he shares with dozens of other men.

"I do the best I can do to share my experiences with the people who are following me," he said in an interview at a Starbucks on West 14th Street, minutes before an interview with a job counselor at a nearby help-center.

Clear-eyed, shaven and dressed like a professor, in a brown overcoat, tan scarf and gray wool cap, he looked presentable even by corporate cubicle standards. He said he had saved a few bucks to have his clothes cleaned, because he had job interviews coming up.

He has accumulated followers from Brazil, Italy, France, Australia and other countries, and as he spoke, his phone kept vibrating with new messages from followers. He quickly tapped out responses to each one and resumed conversing. Mostly, he receives messages of encouragement, he said, which help him avoid a spiral into dejection.

There have been days when he has not posted updates because he lacked a place to charge his phone. But typically he writes about his job search and simple dispatches about how he copes on the street. On Tuesday morning, before a job counseling session, he wrote: "I have arrived at the HRA Waverly Center located at 12 West 14 Street NYC, NY. I am waiting for the doors' to open. It is very cold." And later: "During the day I walk in the sun light."

Mr. Wiggins said he grew up on the Lower East Side. His mother was a drug addict who died when he was young, he said, and by the time he was an adolescent, he was living on the streets and getting into drugs and trouble. He dropped out of high school and later served three and a half years in state prison for an assault, he said.

He became a born-again Christian in the 1990s, and at one point attained stability with a wife, a home and a steady job as a counselor at a Lower East Side homeless agency. But it didn't last, he said, and soon he was alone again and on the street. After being unable to pay the rent on his last apartment, in Jersey City, a year ago, he stayed with a friend for a few months and then began staying at the drop-in shelter, where he lines up every evening, in time to get himself a bed.

Asked to reflect on how Twitter had affected his life, Mr. Wiggins said that "just the fact that somebody is listening" had helped him persevere. He said, "I've received what I need to keep going."


5) Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) calls on all U.S. military service members to refuse and resist any mobilization against workers organizing to protect their basic rights
Todd Denis from IVAW Madison Reading the IVAW statement from the floor.
Via Email

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) calls on all U.S. military service members to refuse and resist any mobilization against workers organizing to protect their basic rights. IVAW stands in solidarity with the multitude gathered in Madison, Wisconsin and many other cities to defend their unions.

Iraq Veterans Against the War to Troops: "We Are Public Employees Too!"

We believe military service members are public employees too. It is dishonorable to suggest that military personnel should be deployed against teachers, health care providers, firefighters, police officers, and other government employees, many of whom are themselves serving in the National Guard.

Workers with prior military service often seek jobs in the public sector because government agencies are the only employers that follow hiring preferences for veterans as a matter of law. According to the Army Times, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed at a rate of 15.2%, higher than the national average. The picture is even worse for African American veterans who face nearly double the rate of unemployment. Protecting the rights of workers in public sector unions ensures that veterans have a chance to secure a decent job, earning a living wage and good benefits.

Madison, WI is ground zero for a fight that will likely define the relationship between public sector unions and the governments that employ them for decades to come. Similar to the federal government's defeat of the 1980 Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) strike, which signaled the beginning of a thirty-year decline of real wages, benefits, and union membership for private sector workers. What happens in Madison today is likely to affect whether governments across the country can destroy a decent standard of living for public sector workers in the future.

Governor Scott Walker recently stated that he was preparing the National Guard to respond to "labor unrest" following the introduction of union-busting legislation in Wisconsin. Governor Walker has attempted to justify this attack on collective bargaining by pointing to state budget shortfalls. Missing from this explanation is an acknowledgment that these deficits have been created and exacerbated by the ongoing trillion dollar wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, federal and local governments across the U.S. are cutting back on the public sector.

Troops have been called out in the past against worker strikes, campus protests, and urban uprisings. However, recent events in Egypt and numerous examples from U.S. history have shown that service members have the power to side with the people and refuse to use violence against their fellow citizens. Troops activated for duty in Madison, WI will have to decide if public sector workers are really the enemy. IVAW says they are not and that troops should support workers fighting for decent jobs, wages, and benefits.

We know firsthand that the U.S. military is already overextended from a decade at war. Through our Operation Recovery campaign, we have been fighting for the right of our troops to heal, rather than being involuntarily redeployed with severe physical and psychological injuries. Adding another mission to an already overburdened military for the purposes of suppressing the rights of workers is irresponsible and not worthy of our service.

If you are a service member facing mobilization or know someone in the military who is you can contact IVAW via email at or by phone at (646) 723-0989, M-F 10am-6pm EST.


6) Keep the Arboretum Free

Dear Arboretum Supporter,

There have been some developments regarding Strybing Arboretum that, with your immediate help and action, can remove the entrance fees within weeks.

Important Action to take now to remove the fee: On February 1st, Supervisor John Avalos supported by Supervisors Mirkarimi, Campos, Mar and Kim introduced Ordinance# 110113. This directs $80,000 of new taxes originating from the Property Transfer Tax to the Recreation and Park Department to reduce fee revenues and remove the fee program as early as March 17th for the remainder of the year. The support of at least one more Supervisor is needed to ensure passage and Mayor Lee needs to authorize the funds transfer.

The Board of Supervisors will be voting on this ordinance within the next few weeks. We are asking you to e-mail and call the Supervisors and Mayor to urge them to support Ordinance 110113. Please click on the following link if you would like to use an easy click-through letter on our website to send an e-mail to all Supervisors and the Mayor at one time:

The fee is doing poorly: Non-residents have had to pay fees since August 7th and an analysis of gate returns shows that the amount of money generated is dramatically lower than the Rec & Park Department and Botanical Society's original projections. Attendance among non-residents has plummetted and it's clear fewer residents come-in as well. Now the facts are speaking loudly about the destructive effect of this fee - please visit the Keep Arboretum Free website for a full analysis of the fee collection data.

Please call the Mayor and remaining non-sponsor Supervisors. Here is their information:
Mayor Edwin Lee 415 554-6141
David Chiu 415 554-7450
Carmen Chu 415 554-7460
Malia Cohen 415 554-7670
Sean Elsbernd 415 554-6516
Mark Farrell 415 554-7752
Scott Wiener 415 554-6968

With your continuing help and strong support we are making real progress to return this beloved garden to its rightful place as a free and publicly accessible to all part of Golden Gate Park.

Thank you for your participation,

The Campaign to Keep the Arboretum Free


7) Hundreds of Thousands Protest Across Mideast
February 25, 2011

CAIRO - Hundreds of thousands of protesters turned out in cities across the Middle East on Friday to protest the unaccountability of their leaders and express solidarity with the uprising in Libya that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is trying to suppress with force.

The worst violence of the day appeared to be in Libya, where security forces shot at protesters as they left Friday prayers to try to launch the first major anti-government demonstration in the capital. Demonstrations in recent days have been in other cities, and several of those have fallen to armed rebels determined to oust Colonel Qaddafi.

Protests in Iraq also took a violent turn, with security forces firing on crowds in Baghdad, Mosul, Ramadi and in Salahuddin Province, killing at least ten people. Unlike in other Middle Eastern countries, the protesters in Iraq are not seeking to topple their leaders, but are demanding better government services after years of war and deprivation.

Religious leaders and the prime minister had pleaded with people not to take to the streets, with Moktada al-Sadr saying the new government needed a chance to improve services and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki warning that insurgents could target the gatherings. But on Friday, the deaths came at the hands of government forces.

Demonstrations elsewhere - in Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia - were almost exclusively peaceful.

In Bahrain, pro-democracy demonstrations on a scale that appeared to dwarf the largest ever seen in the tiny Persian Gulf nation blocked miles of downtown roads and highways in Manama, the capital. The crowds overflowed from Pearl Square in the center of the city for the second time in a week, but the government once again allowed the demonstration to proceed.

Government forces had cracked down brutally last week, killing at least seven, but backed down under intense pressure from the United States. Since then, the country appears to be locked in a battle of wills between mostly Shiite protesters and their Sunni monarch. Shiites are a majority in Bahrain, a United States ally, and they say they have long faced discrimination from the country's minority Sunni elite.

In a shift, it was the country's Shiite religious leaders who called for people to take to the streets Friday, rather than the political opposition. Although some of the chants and symbols Friday had a religious cast, protesters' demands remained the same - emphasizing a nonsectarian call for democracy and the downfall of the government.

"We are winners, and victory comes from God," protesters chanted in Manama.

A few of the protesters carried black flags - a Shiite mourning symbol - but they appeared in a vast sea of red and white, the colors of Bahrain.

Crowds stretched two miles to the Bahrain Mall, east of Pearl Square, and about another two miles southwest of the square to the Salmaniya Medical Complex, which has treated wounded protesters and been a focal point of demonstrations.

The violence in Iraq came after demonstrators responded to a call for a "day of rage," despite attempts by the government to keep people from taking to the streets. Security officials in Baghdad banned all cars from the streets until further notice.

In Yemen, more than 100,000 people poured into the streets of the city of Taiz, a center of the protests, after the country's embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, pledged on Wednesday not to crack down on demonstrators. Protesters in recent weeks have faced sporadic violence from security forces and government supporters.

The protest in Taiz was dubbed "Martyrs' Friday," in honor of two protesters who died in a grenade attack last week.

While weeks of protests in the capital, Sana, have been tense, with repeated clashes between pro and antigovernment forces, the demonstration in Taiz, the intellectual hub of the country, took on a hopeful, exhilarated feel Friday. Along with the youth who organized the protests on Facebook, older residents of the countryside flowed into the area of the town that protesters have dubbed Freedom Square.

"There are no parties, our revolution is a youth revolution," read one banner. In emulation of Egypt's Tahrir Square, the center of the protest zone in Taiz was filled with some 100 tents, where people had spent the night for more than a week.

A cleric delivered a morning speech, reminding the people that the revolution was not against a single person but against oppression itself. And as noon prayers ended, the people broke out into the roaring chant that has now become familiar around the Arab world: "The people want to topple the regime."

At the same time in the capital, tens of thousands of people were pouring into a square near the main gates of Sana University amid a tight security presence, The Associated Press reported.

Demonstrations turned violent in the port city of Aden, where security forces clashed with thousands of protesters in various districts of the restive city, The Associated Press reported. In contrast with the protesters in Taiz and Sana, who have sought the ouster of Mr. Saleh, those in Aden have focused on secession and drawn a more violent government response. One person was killed and 25 wounded on Friday as security forces fired on the crowds, according to witnesses, and protesters stormed a municipal building, Reuters reported.

In Cairo, tens of thousands of Egyptians flooded Tahrir Square as much to renew the spirit of Egypt's popular revolution - which resulted in President Hosni Mubarak's resignation on Feb. 11 - as to press for new demands. The square that was the epicenter of the uprising felt like a carnival, filled with banners in Egypt's national colors of black, white and red. Vendors sold cheese and bean sandwiches and popcorn; a man fried liver on a portable grill, and others sold revolutionary souvenirs, like miniature flags.

The spirit of the revolution, which had included people from all segments of Egyptian society, was still evident, as secular leftists, members of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and women wearing full Islamic veils with children in their arms circulated through the crowd.

Ismael Abdul Latif, 27, a secular writer, chatted with the religious women, only their eyes showing, as they drew revolutionary posters.

"I never dreamed in my wildest dreams that we would be talking to a munaqaba"- as women in full veils are called - "in Tahrir Square," he said. "A secular artist is having a political debate with a fully veiled lady and having a meaningful conversation. What's the world coming to?"

But there were also signs of tension, as well as a reminder that the military ultimately remains in charge. Several hours into the demonstration, an army officer demanded that protesters dismantle the tents they were again erecting in the center of the square, touching off a series of angry arguments.

The military government has been making political concessions since taking over, but the crowds Friday wanted more. There were fervent demands for the resignation of the cabinet that Mr. Mubarak had appointed before his downfall, as well as the dismantling of the security apparatus, the release of prisoners still held under Egypt's repressive emergency laws, and the prosecution of former leaders for corruption.

George Ishaq, one of the founders of Kifaya, an early protest movement here, led chants through speakers, saying, "Our demand today is a presidential council in which civilians will take part. We want it to be one politician, one judge, and one representative of the armed forces."

"We are not leaving, he's leaving," the crowd chanted, referring this time to Ahmed Shafiq, the prime minister, with the slogan that had foretold Mr. Mubarak's fall. "Mubarak left the palace, but Shafiq still governs Egypt."

Similarly peaceful demonstrations in Amman and other cities in Jordan were the largest yet after eight weeks of protests calling for political reform. Activists from the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups said that the large turnout was a reaction to the violence that erupted last Friday, when government supporters clashed with a relatively small group of several hundred demonstrators, injuring eight. The protesters described being attacked by "thugs" wielding wooden clubs and iron bars.

At this week's rallies, Jordanians called, among other things, for an end to corruption, more democracy and the cancelation of the 1994 peace treaty with Israel, according to the popular Jordanian news Web site Ammonnews.

And in Tunisia, where protesters forced President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali from power and set off the wave of regional unrest, Reuters reported that tens of thousands of people marched in the capital, Tunis, on Friday, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, a former ally of the ousted president.

Sharon Otterman reported from Cairo and J. David Goodman from New York. Michael Slackman contributed reporting from Manama, Bahrain; Jack Healy, Michael S. Schmidt and Duraid Adnan from Baghdad; Laura Kasinof from Taiz, Yemen; Liam Stack from Cairo; Ranya Kadri from Amman, Jordan, and Isabel Kershner in Jerusalem.


8) Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.
[Just want to remind Mr. Krugman and our readers that President Obama has frozen the wages of federal employees for the next five years. Is he a Republican? Or the leading head of the Democratic Party. And, by the way, Democratic Governor Brown in California is pushing forward his own drastic cuts and]
February 24, 2011

Here's a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn't Cairo after all. Maybe it's Baghdad - specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.

As many readers may recall, the results were spectacular - in a bad way. Instead of focusing on the urgent problems of a shattered economy and society, which would soon descend into a murderous civil war, those Bush appointees were obsessed with imposing a conservative ideological vision. Indeed, with looters still prowling the streets of Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, the American viceroy, told a Washington Post reporter that one of his top priorities was to "corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises" - Mr. Bremer's words, not the reporter's - and to "wean people from the idea the state supports everything."

The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein's best-selling book "The Shock Doctrine," which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.

In recent weeks, Madison has been the scene of large demonstrations against the governor's budget bill, which would deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers. Gov. Scott Walker claims that he needs to pass his bill to deal with the state's fiscal problems. But his attack on unions has nothing to do with the budget. In fact, those unions have already indicated their willingness to make substantial financial concessions - an offer the governor has rejected.

What's happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab - an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.

For example, the bill includes language that would allow officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process.

And then there's this: "Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b)."

What's that about? The state of Wisconsin owns a number of plants supplying heating, cooling, and electricity to state-run facilities (like the University of Wisconsin). The language in the budget bill would, in effect, let the governor privatize any or all of these facilities at whim. Not only that, he could sell them, without taking bids, to anyone he chooses. And note that any such sale would, by definition, be "considered to be in the public interest."

If this sounds to you like a perfect setup for cronyism and profiteering - remember those missing billions in Iraq? - you're not alone. Indeed, there are enough suspicious minds out there that Koch Industries, owned by the billionaire brothers who are playing such a large role in Mr. Walker's anti-union push, felt compelled to issue a denial that it's interested in purchasing any of those power plants. Are you reassured?

The good news from Wisconsin is that the upsurge of public outrage - aided by the maneuvering of Democrats in the State Senate, who absented themselves to deny Republicans a quorum - has slowed the bum's rush. If Mr. Walker's plan was to push his bill through before anyone had a chance to realize his true goals, that plan has been foiled. And events in Wisconsin may have given pause to other Republican governors, who seem to be backing off similar moves.

But don't expect either Mr. Walker or the rest of his party to change those goals. Union-busting and privatization remain G.O.P. priorities, and the party will continue its efforts to smuggle those priorities through in the name of balanced budgets.


9) Jury Nullification Advocate Is Indicted
February 25, 2011

Julian P. Heicklen sat silent and unresponsive as his bail hearing began one day recently in federal court in Manhattan; his eyes were closed, his head slumped forward.

"Mr. Heicklen?" the magistrate judge, Ronald L. Ellis, asked. "Mr. Heicklen? Is Mr. Heicklen awake?"

"I believe he is, your honor," a prosecutor, Rebecca Mermelstein, said. "I think he's choosing not to respond but is certainly capable of doing so."

There was, in fact, nothing wrong with Mr. Heicklen, 78, who eventually opened his eyes and told the judge, "I'm exercising my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent."

Indeed, it was not his silence that landed Mr. Heicklen, a retired Pennsylvania State University chemistry professor, in court; it was what he had been doing outside the federal courthouse at 500 Pearl Street.

Since 2009, Mr. Heicklen has stood there and at courthouse entrances elsewhere and handed out pamphlets encouraging jurors to ignore the law if they disagree with it, and to render verdicts based on conscience.

That concept, called jury nullification, is highly controversial, and courts are hostile to it. But federal prosecutors have now taken the unusual step of having Mr. Heicklen indicted on a charge that his distributing of such pamphlets at the courthouse entrance violates the law against jury tampering. He was arraigned on Friday in a somewhat contentious hearing before Judge Kimba M. Wood, who entered a not guilty plea on his behalf when he refused to say how he would plead. During the proceeding, he railed at the judge and the government, and called the indictment "a tissue of lies."

Mr. Heicklen insists that he never tries to influence specific jurors or cases, and instead gives his brochures to passers-by, hoping that jurors are among them.

But he feels his message must be getting out, or the government would not have brought charges against him.

"If I weren't having any effect, would they do this?" said Mr. Heicklen, whose former colleagues recall him as a talented and unconventional educator. "You don't have to be a genius to figure this thing out."

Prosecutors declined to comment on his case, as did Sabrina Shroff, a lawyer who was assigned to assist Mr. Heicklen. (He is acting as his own lawyer.)

He said his activism on nullification dated back to just after he retired in the early 1990s, when he openly smoked marijuana in State College, Pa., to get arrested as a protest against marijuana laws. For this, he was arrested about five times. Mr. Heicklen has said that he otherwise does not smoke marijuana.

Around the same time, he learned about a group called the Fully Informed Jury Association, which urges jurors to nullify laws with which they disagree. Mr. Heicklen, of Teaneck, N.J., said he distributed the group's materials as well as his own.

"I don't want them to nullify the murder laws," he said. "I'm a big law-and-order guy when it comes to real crime."

But, he said, there were other laws he wanted to nullify, like drug and gambling laws.

"This is classic political advocacy," Christopher T. Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said referring to Mr. Heicklen's pamphleteering. "Unless the government can show that he's singling out jurors to influence a specific verdict, it's squarely protected by the First Amendment, and they should dismiss the case."

But Daniel C. Richman, a former prosecutor who teaches criminal law at Columbia, said there was an interest in ensuring the integrity of the jury process. "The government has to walk a fine First Amendment line bringing these charges," he said, "but lawless jury behavior is certainly of concern to it, too."

Mr. Heicklen says that when he stands outside the court, he holds a sign that reads "Jury Info" to draw people to him. "Sometimes they think I'm official," he said. He answers questions and advises that jurors have the right to nullify.

Jessica A. Roth, a Cardozo law professor, said such activities could confuse and mislead jurors, since "the information he's giving these people is likely to be in direct conflict with the instructions they will receive from a judge if they are jurors in a case."

Mr. Heicklen, a Cornell graduate, taught for more than 20 years at Penn State, where he was a faculty member known for his innovative methods, former colleagues said.

He would bring Penn State dancers, actors and cheerleaders into one course to illustrate molecular vibration and to celebrate scientific discovery. "People talked about this course for years," Robert Bernheim, a retired professor, recalled.

Barbara J. Garrison, who heads the Penn State chemistry department, called Mr. Heicklen "an enormously creative scientist" who "really liked to think outside the box and sometimes that meant that he ran counter to the establishment."

About his earlier marijuana arrests, Ms. Garrison said, "He had his own way of doing it, but he was really fighting for people who were in jail that he didn't think belonged in jail."

Court records show that before Mr. Heicklen's indictment last fall, Mr. Heicklen has been cited at least six times since October 2009 for distributing fliers without a permit at the entrance of the Manhattan federal courthouse. But the violations, which carry fines, do not depend on the content of his message. If convicted of the jury tampering charge, he could face a six-month sentence.

When issued a citation, Mr. Heicklen acknowledged, he sometimes intentionally dropped to the sidewalk, and had even been taken to local hospitals, where he was examined and released.

In court Friday, Judge Wood noted a request by Mr. Heicklen that Muslims be "excluded from the jury" because he was Jewish and "Islam preaches death to Jews." Because he was charged with a misdemeanor, she said, he was not entitled to a jury trial; and in any case, she said, jurors may not be excluded because of religion.

Mr. Heicklen has extended his protest to suing the government and various hospitals to which he was taken after being issued citations and falling to the ground.

"Plaintiff Heicklen," he said in one suit, "has become an angry man."


310) In the Cradle of Libya's Uprising, the Rebels Learn to Govern Themselves
February 24, 2011

BENGHAZI, Libya - The rebels here said they caught a spy in the court building, the nerve center of the uprising, recording insurgent plans on a cellphone camera. The response was swift. Prosecutors interrogated the man on Thursday, and the rebels said they planned to detain him, for now.

"We want to know if he's alone," said Fathi Terbil, the lawyer whose detention set off Libya's rebellion and who is now one of its leaders.

In the city where the Libyan uprising began, lawyers, prosecutors, judges and average citizens who oppose the rule of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi are adjusting to unfamiliar roles: they are keepers both of an evolving rebellion, as well as law and order in Libya's second largest city.

And they fret that their gains will be reversed, by people and groups sympathetic to Colonel Qaddafi, who still maintain a presence.

Since Sunday, when government forces withdrew and Benghazi became the first major city to fall under rebel control, residents and rebels here have been left to hammer out a new way of life and governance.

On Thursday, the fruits of that effort were beginning to take a rough shape. A judge, still wearing his robes, wandered through traffic, ordering drivers to put on their seat belts. At another intersection, three young men helped an elderly police officer direct a traffic jam.

Dozens of banks opened for business, and by late afternoon, stores shuttered for days had started to open as well.

In Benghazi's new order, the court building overlooking the Mediterranean has become both a seat of rebel power and the town hall.

A battery of newly formed committees meet there to discuss security, negotiate with the army and sort out how to get people back to work. "We needed something temporary, to manage the day-to-day life," said Imam Bugaighis, an orthodontist who has become a spokeswoman for the caretaker administration.

She said her sister, a lawyer, is also an organizer of the effort, whose leadership remains very loose. Lawyers and judges were at the vanguard of the uprising.

"They are in charge," Dr. Bugaighis said. Then she added, "Nobody is in charge."

After Libya's revolt began here on Feb. 15, there was intense fighting for several days. The local hospital is still coping with the influx of those who survived. At the height of the uprising, about a hundred people a day were admitted with bullet wounds and other injuries, according to the chief surgeon, who gave his name only as Dr. Abdullah because the government's agents were still lurking. "We've been under threats for 40 years," he said.

Badly wounded men lay in the hospital's intensive care unit, and doctors confided privately that they did not expect them to live. They included a 30-year-old man whose chest was filled with bullet fragments. "He's deeply comatose," Dr. Abdullah said.

Dr. Abdullah said that 140 people died during the unrest here, while local rebel leaders said the number could be as high as 300. The doctors said many patients arrived with bullet wounds to the chest and the head. Many of them are paralyzed.

In the morgue, nine green bags contained charred remains. Dr. Abdullah said that they had been recovered from the local military base, and that he was told they were soldiers who were executed and then burned by their commanders after they refused to fire on civilians. But he could not be sure.

"It was chaos," he said.

The chaos had started with the detention of Mr. Terbil, a lawyer who represents families of those killed in a massacre of more than 1,000 inmates in Abu Slim prison in Tripoli in 1996. The families planned to be part of a protest on Feb. 17, and Mr. Terbil said that the authorities detained him on Feb. 15, hoping to head off the demonstrations.

During an interview in a second-floor office in the court building on Thursday, Mr. Terbil said his interrogation stretched out over two days, as his supporters protested outside the security building where he was detained. Using carrots and sticks, the authorities told him to find a way to end the demonstrations.

"I told them it's already on Facebook and Twitter," he said he told the officer interrogating him. "We can't stop it. We can make it peaceful."

The interrogator's response, Mr. Terbil said, was: "We cannot allow protests like that to take place. Blood will be shed."


11) In Yemeni City, Protest Movement Grows
February 25, 2011

TAIZ, Yemen - Tens of thousands of demonstrators massed in pivotal Yemeni cities on Friday, holding their largest demonstrations against President Ali Abdullah Saleh since the wave of anti-authoritarian unrest began sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East.

Here in Taiz, a mountainous city in central Yemen that has long been a bastion of opposition sentiment, as many as 100,000 demonstrators held Friday prayers in unison as a local cleric preached to the crowds of men and women sitting on the pavement.

"This is not a revolution against a person, a family or a tribe," he said over a loudspeaker to the gathering, which stretched over blocks and blocks of the city's streets. "This is a revolution against oppression and corruption."

After the mass prayer was finished, the crowd burst out into the kind of chant that has echoed across the Arab world since the Tunisian revolution: "The people want the regime to fall."

In the capital, Sana, a four-hour drive north of here, tens of thousands of demonstrators also held their largest protest since the unrest began, swelling what started as marches by a few dozen students and activists only a few weeks ago.

Protesters here in Taiz have held their own continuous sit-in for the past two weeks since Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president of Egypt. It has been much more organized than the one in the capital, with scheduled speakers, civilian-run checkpoints and even a series of distinct protest committees arranging security, food and media access.

A four-block section of the road has been cordoned off by rocks and dubbed "freedom square." A handful of Yemeni soldiers stand on the outskirts, relaxing against cars with AK-47s at their sides.

Many of the protesters feel that if a democratic revolution is possible in Yemen it will be a result of the momentum gained here in Taiz, an opposition stronghold that is often described as a geographic and ideological link between the north and south of the country. "We feel that we want to start the revolution here, but that the results will be felt in Sana," said Fahim Al Mawfy, a lawyer who serves as a bridge between the youth protesters in Taiz and Yemen's popular Islamist Al Islah political party.

"Taiz will be the heart of the revolution," agreed Abdul-Ghani Al Iryani, a prominent Yemeni political analyst. "If the government can crush the protesters in Sana, it won't be able to crush it in Taiz. And also, everyone left in Sana will go to Taiz."

As with other democracy movements in the region, the protest in Taiz started on Facebook. Fifty-odd activists organized small demonstrations before Mr. Mubarak fell, but it quickly escalated.

"One step in our plan is to start mobilizing the people in the countryside" who don't have Internet access, said Boshra Al Maqtari, a protest leader, shouting directions into her phone to activists in Aden about how to come to the protest here.

The Taiz protest leaders said that demonstrations would continue for another month. If the the president had not stepped down, they said they would move to a month-long, nationwide strike, despite the fractured nature of Yemeni society.

"In any other country, the demands are one," said Ms. Maqtari. "And in Yemen, I think it will be difficult, but I think we can also make our demands across the country one."

Organizers in Taiz said they had seen some movement in that direction already, with protest chants across south Yemen changing from calls for separation - the demand of the south's popular secessionist movement - into calls for the government to fall.

While protests in the capital have been tense, with repeated clashes between pro- and anti-government forces, the demonstration in Taiz took on a hopeful, exhilarated feel.

Families walk around the cordoned off area. Hundreds of tents have been set up. On Wednesday night, two weddings were held at the sit-in. And on Friday, three famous actors took the stage before prayers to tell jokes about the president as the crowd laughed on cue.

"He stayed for thirty-three years and turned this country into a monarchy," Fahed Al Qarni, a popular television star, said after stepping off stage and into a makeshift medical clinic.

Taiz's population is often described as the most educated in Yemen, but the people here complain that they are treated as second-class citizens, and that the culture of Yemen has been dominated by the northern tribes since Mr. Saleh came to power.

"I have a masters degree, while my boss has only graduated from high school," said Mr. Mawfy, the lawyer.

Sadeq Qasim, from a village in Taiz province, the most populous in Yemen, said he heard about the demonstration on a local television station.

"The opinion is united," in my village, said Mr. Qasim, 32 and unemployed. "We want Saleh to go. All the youth of my village are here now at the sit-in."

Friday's protest in Taiz was called "Martyrs' Friday," after a grenade was thrown from a civilian vehicle at the protesters one week ago, killing two. Two protesters were killed in Sana by gunfire from government supporters on Tuesday, and Human Rights Watch says 12 protesters have been killed in Aden in the past week.

Late Wednesday night, the president instructed security forces to protect demonstrators and thwart clashes between the two sides.


12) Enlisting Prison Labor to Close Budget Gaps
February 24, 2011

JAY, Fla. - Before he went to jail, Danny Ivey had barely seen a backyard garden.

But here he was, two years left on his sentence for grand theft, bent over in a field, snapping wide, green collard leaves from their stems. For the rest of the week, Mr. Ivey and his fellow inmates would be eating the greens he picked, and the State of Florida would be saving most of the $2.29 a day it allots for their meals.

Prison labor - making license plates, picking up litter - is nothing new, and nearly all states have such programs. But these days, officials are expanding the practice to combat cuts in federal financing and dwindling tax revenue, using prisoners to paint vehicles, clean courthouses, sweep campsites and perform many other services done before the recession by private contractors or government employees.

In New Jersey, inmates on roadkill patrol clean deer carcasses from highways. Georgia inmates tend municipal graveyards. In Ohio, they paint their own cells. In California, prison officials hope to expand existing programs, including one in which wet-suit-clad inmates repair leaky public water tanks. There are no figures on how many prisoners have been enrolled in new or expanded programs nationwide, but experts in criminal justice have taken note of the increase.

"There's special urgency in prisons these days," said Martin F. Horn, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction. "As state budgets get constricted, the public is looking for ways to offset the cost of imprisonment."

Although inmate labor is helping budgets in many corners of state government, the savings are the largest in corrections departments themselves, which have cut billions of dollars in recent years and are under constant pressure to reduce the roughly $29,000 a year that it costs to incarcerate the average inmate in the United States.

Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, introduced a bill last month to require all low-security prisoners to work 50 hours a week. Creating a national prison labor force has been a goal since he went to Congress in 1995, but it makes even more sense in this economy, he said.

"Think about how much it costs to incarcerate someone," Mr. Ensign said. "Do we want them just sitting in prison, lifting weights, becoming violent and thinking about the next crime? Or do we want them having a little purpose in life and learning a skill?"

Financial experts agree.

"These are nickel-and-dime attempts to cut budgets, but they add up," said Alan Essig, an expert on state budgets at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. "You save a dollar here, a dollar there, and you keep your government's functions."

Technology has made it easier to coordinate. In Hunterdon County, N.J., nonprofit organizations and government agencies can view prisoners' work schedules online and reserve them for a specific task on a free day. (Coming tasks include cleaning up after a Fire Department fish fry and maintaining a public park.)

"Using inmate labor has created unusual alliances: liberal humanitarian groups that advocate more education and exercise in prisons find themselves supporting proposals from conservative budget hawks to get inmates jobs, often outdoors, where they can learn new skills. Having a job in prison has been linked in studies to decreased violence, improved morale and lowered recidivism - but most effectively, experts say, when the task is purposeful.

"The days of just breaking rocks with sledgehammers" are over, said Michael P. Jacobson, director of the Vera Institute of Justice, a research group in New York. "At the grossest financial level, it's just savings. You can cut the government worker, save the salary and still maintain the service, and you're providing a skill for when they leave."

There are, of course, concerns about public safety and competition with government or private workers. Professor Horn estimates that only 20 percent of inmates present a low enough security threat to work in public. And in some places, even financially struggling governments are not willing to take the risk of employing prisoners.

In Ocala, Fla., after a long debate, the City Council last summer decided to have a private company mow grass, even though using inmates would have saved $1.1 million. "Our area has been really hard hit by unemployment," said Suzy Heinbockel, a Council member. "There was a belief that the private company would bring local jobs, rather than giving those jobs to prisoners."

In other areas that have used prison labor to reduce costs, there have been embarrassing results. In Ohio, there was public outcry last year after state investigations found inmates drinking on the job at the governor's mansion and smuggling tobacco back into jail. And in Maryland, a proposal to have prisoners pick blue crabs for a private company was dropped amid concern about food safety.

But the budget savings are worth it, many state officials say. In Florida, where the budget was cut by $4.6 billion this year, analysts say inmate farming could save $2.4 million a year. That is relatively small potatoes, but enough for the new governor, Rick Scott, to call for an expansion of prison farming. The state already uses 550 inmates to grow 4.8 million pounds of produce a year, and the governor has pledged $2.5 million to have more inmates grow their own food.

"It's a win-win," said Jeff Mullahey, the director of an agricultural center at the University of Florida whose staff was downsized in 2007 and replaced, in part, by prisoners. "It's obvious to me why governments should be doing this."

Inmates arrive at the center from the Century Correctional Institute every weekday, rain or shine, to grow tomatoes, peppers, squash, broccoli and oranges. The partnership with the prison began two years ago, after the university's agriculture program sustained deep budget cuts.

Professors provide farming expertise, and inmates supply the labor and learn marketable skills as fieldworkers. The result has been so successful, providing $192,000 worth of food a year to the prison and saving $75,000 a year for the university, that wardens from around the state have visited to learn about replicating it with their inmates.

No inmates have escaped, and sometimes, Mr. Mullahey said, their criminal backgrounds are assets. Inmates with drug offenses already know how to grow plants, and when a university employee lost the key to a file cabinet, a prisoner with lock-picking experience helped him break in.

The prisoners say farming has made them feel better about themselves. "The department of corrections is going to find you a job so you might as well do something you want to do and learn something," said Randall Riley, 37, who is doing a four-year sentence for habitual driving offenses.

And the savings are not lost on the prisoners either. "I'm on this side of the fence," Mr. Ivey said. "But my family's on that other side, and they're paying taxes."


13) Libya: Popular democratic uprising in favour of the West?
"Yes to people's power in Benghazi, no to sanctions or military intervention"
Willi Langthaler
Feb 25th 2011

Arundhati Roy is an intellectual icon of the resistance against globalisation. Recently we asked her what she thinks about the democratic movements in the Arab world. Her answer was that the support those rebellions enjoy in the western media makes her rather anxious. How this fact can be interpreted?

The Egyptian movement was quite a challenge for the regimes of the west, as Mubarak was one of the most important pro-western dictators. His regime protected Israel and in return received billions of military aid each year. In the true spirit of neoliberalism, Washington also outsourced torture to Cairo. At the same time, the lords of the world have continued to as the keepers of the Holy Grail they call democracy.

The Tunisian movement was so powerful that it forced the US regime to back down from its support, while the former colonial power-France-still supported their torture interrogator Ben Ali.

In Libya on the other hand, the world seems to be alright again. The hacks are dancing again to the tune pattern employed against Saddam-Milo_evi_-Ahmadinejad. It doesn't help Qaddhafi that the west has been doing good business with him for many years, while he in turn keeps the African have-nots out of sight for the EU fortress and supports French colonial policy in Chad. For his people and for the Arab world, the ageing leader of the revolution has been continuing to mime the anti-imperialist, increasingly clownish and devoid of contents. On the other side of the Mediterranean, they are now propping up this faded anti-imperialist as an enemy for quasi-posthumous revenge against the old Qaddhafi.

The present bear hug is the worst burden to weigh down the democratic movement. If it wants to be democratic, it has to reject western support, otherwise Qaddhafi could regain legitimacy. Those who really want to support the popular movement have to resolutely oppose sanctions (let's not forget the slow genocides in Iraq in the name of "democracy" and in Gaza right now); of course we also have to fight any military intervention.

However, support by the western media machinery won't automatically create a pro-western movement. Of course there are forces in Libya-as well as in Egypt and in Tunisia-who seek salvation in the west, but the main forces of the rebellion are the middle and lower classes, and they combine democratic demands with social and anti-imperialist demands. This also seems to be the case in Libya, where the average standard of living is much higher than in other Maghreb countries, but just as in the oil monarchies of the Gulf, the oil rent is distributed in a very unequal way and political power is monopolised. The rebellion is thus absolutely legitimate, even though it is not motivated by hunger as it is in Egypt.

There is on the other hand a decisive difference. It seems that at least parts of the army stick to Qaddhafi. Without reliable information, we can only conjecture that this fact is due to a somewhat broader distribution of the oil income and to tribal loyalties that still have some importance in Libya. However, it is quite possible that the Libyan army will split and the conflict might lead to a civil war. An alternative power seems to take shape in and around Benghazi, the second-largest city of the country. In contrast to the neighbouring countries, that power is not based on a recycled military regime, but seems to be something radically new, and it is faced with the enormous problem that there is no organised and articulate opposition to fill the vacuum. There is a chance to experiment with people's power, and we have to support that.

So far, only the media generals are talking about a military intervention. They would like to turn their keyboards and mice into cruise missiles of democracy. The capitalist oligarchy on the other hand will think very carefully which forces to support, before they take action. They'd rather see people's power in Benghazi crushed in a bloody civil war.

The jubilations of the western media are very myopic and misplaced indeed, maybe delusional. They are hoping for a colour revolution like those staged in eastern Europe, but the Arab world has been the victim of 150 years of brutal colonialism and neo-colonialism, permanent Israeli aggression, numerous US-led wars, neoliberal pillage decorated with pro-western oil princes who flaunt a Disney Arabia to the starving masses. A few rabid liberal democracy criers won't be enough to turn around the legitimate hatred of the masses against the west which has been nurtured for generations.

In the Middle East and in the Arab world, democracy means anti-imperialism. As soon as the dream of gentle regime change wears off and reality sets in, when the masses demand social justice and national sovereignty, which clash with western and Israeli interests, the party will be over in the starry-eyed liberal editorial offices. In a flash, the Arabs will be a primitive mass again who only deserve the stick, as they had until just a few weeks ago. It isn't a coincidence that Israel is once more pointing out the direction: democracy is reserved for the white master race. The Israeli regime is beating its chest as "the only democracy in the Middle East", and they are determined to keep things just like that.

The western bear hug of the democratic revolution is doomed to failure.


14) Absorbing the Pain
February 25, 2011


Lynda Hiller teared up. "We're struggling real bad," she said, "and it's getting harder every day."

A handful of people were sitting around a dining room table in a row house in North Philadelphia on Wednesday, talking about the problems facing working people in America. The setting outside the house on West Harold Street was grim. The remnants of a snowstorm lined the curbs and a number of people, obviously down on their luck, were moving about the struggling neighborhood. Some were panhandling.

The small gathering had been arranged by a group called Working America, which is affiliated with the A.F.L.-C.I.O., but the people at the meeting did not belong to unions. They were just there to talk in an atmosphere of mutual support.

What struck me about the conversation was the way people talked in normal tones about the equivalent of a hurricane ripping through their lives, leaving little but destruction in its wake.

Ms. Hiller had come in from Allentown. She's 63 years old and still undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Her husband, Howard, who was not at the meeting, had been a long-distance truck driver for 35 years before losing his job in 2007, the same year Ms. Hiller received her diagnosis. Mr. Hiller thought at the time that with all of his experience he would find another job pretty quickly. He was mistaken.

"He looked for two years," Ms. Hiller said. "He applied every place he could, sometimes four or five times at the same company. He went everywhere, to every job fair you can think of, to every place where there was even a mention of an opening. But for every job that came available, there were 20 people or more who showed up for it."

Last fall, Mr. Hiller took a part-time job as a dishwasher at a Red Lobster restaurant. "It's a job," Ms. Hiller said. "It's not fancy. It's not truck driving."

And it was not enough for them to keep their home. Ms. Hiller lost her job at a bank when she became ill. With both paychecks gone, meeting the mortgage became impossible. The Hillers lost their home and are now living day to day. "If my husband can get 30 hours of work in a week, then maybe we can pay some bills," Ms. Hiller said. "If he can't, we can't. We've downsized our lives so much."

The meeting was in the home of Elizabeth Lassiter, a certified nursing assistant whose job is in Hatfield, Pa., about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. She doesn't earn a lot or get benefits, but it's a big step up from last year when she was working part time in Warminster and for a while had to sleep in her car.

"Back then I was working for a nursing agency and they kept saying they didn't have full-time work," she said. Until she could raise enough money for an apartment, the car was her only option. "I needed someplace to lay my head," she said. "It was very hard."

These are the kinds of stories you might expect from a country staggering through a depression, not the richest and supposedly most advanced society on earth. If these were exceptional stories, there would be less reason for concern. But they are in no way extraordinary. Similar stories abound throughout the United States.

Among the many heartening things about the workers fighting back in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere is the spotlight that is being thrown on the contemptuous attitude of the corporate elite and their handmaidens in government toward ordinary working Americans: police officers and firefighters, teachers, truck drivers, janitors, health care aides, and so on. These are the people who do the daily grunt work of America. How dare we treat them with contempt.

It would be a mistake to think that this fight is solely about the right of public employees to collectively bargain. As important as that issue is, it's just one skirmish in what's shaping up as a long, bitter campaign to keep ordinary workers, whether union members or not, from being completely overwhelmed by the forces of unrestrained greed in this society.

The predators at the top, billionaires and millionaires, are pitting ordinary workers against one another. So we're left with the bizarre situation of unionized workers with a pension being resented by nonunion workers without one. The swells are in the background, having a good laugh.

I asked Lynda Hiller if she felt generally optimistic or pessimistic. She was quiet for a moment, then said: "I don't think things are going to get any better. I think we're going to hit rock bottom. The big shots are in charge, and they just don't give a darn about the little person."


15) Wisconsin Assembly Passes Anti-Union Bill as Senate Democrats Stay Away
February 25, 2011

MADISON, Wis. - Over shouts of protest from Democrats, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill in the early morning hours Friday that would strip state employees of most of their collective bargaining rights. But there was no sign that a stalemate over the proposal would end, as Democrats in the Senate remained out of the state after fleeing to prevent their own vote on the proposal.

The 51-to-17 vote just after at 1 a.m. in the Assembly drew boos and shouts of "Shame! Shame!" from Democrats who said that leaders had abruptly cut off debate and prevented more than a quarter of the legislators from casting votes. It came during the second week of sustained demonstrations inside and around the Capitol. Union workers and others from Wisconsin and nearby states continued to protest the proposals backed by the new governor, Scott Walker, a Republican elected in November.

Some Republican leaders in other states have moderated their talk against state employee unions in recent days. But in Wisconsin, Mr. Walker traveled the state on Friday in an effort to put more pressure on the Senate's 14 Democrats to return from Illinois.

Democrats said the early-morning vote showed that Republicans had little interest in negotiating. They "rushed a vote in seconds, cheating Democratic representatives of the opportunity to vote against this horrible legislation," said the leader of the Assembly's Democrats, Peter Barca. "Then they fled the chamber surrounded by armed law enforcement agents," he said.

Republicans said the Assembly debated the bill long enough during a three-day Democratic filibuster. Mr. Walker said in a statement, "The 14 Senate Democrats need to come home and do their jobs, just like the Assembly Democrats did."

While Republicans have a majority in the Senate, they are a vote short of a quorum for fiscal legislation. Democrats say they will not return until the governor agrees to negotiate on his proposals to strip unions of power, which include forbidding collective bargaining except for basic wages, and limiting raises to no more than the rate of inflation.

Democrats have already indicated that they would accept provisions that would cut the take-home pay of state employees by diverting money to help finance pension and health care costs.

A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Administration said the increased contributions to pensions and health care would amount to about a 6 percent decrease in take-home pay for a state employee with a $50,000 income, the average for state workers. Workers would pay more than 12 percent of their health care premiums, up from 6 percent, while 5.8 percent of their pay would be diverted to finance pensions, up from less than 1 percent for typical workers.

A fight over similar legislation in Indiana was stalemated as well, after 37 of 40 Democratic House members walked out, preventing a quorum. B. Patrick Bauer, the House minority leader, said from Urbana, Ill., that Democratic lawmakers would be staying in Illinois through the weekend, and beyond.

Susan Saulny contributed reporting from Indianapolis.


16) Delivering Moral Support in a Steady Stream of Pizzas
"The shop has had to increase its daily staff to 19, from its normal eight. 'We usually go through one ton of flour a week,' Nick Martin, one of the shop's owners, said. 'This week we did three tons.'" [Now who would have thunk that an ongoing protest against attacks against labor would produce new jobs? WAY TO GO WISCONSIN PROTESTERS!...BW]
February 25, 2011

MADISON, Wis. - Someday the ruckus here might be remembered as the Pizza-Powered People's Uprising.

Every day for the past week, the two Ian's Pizza shops in town have fed the hungry masses, delivering hundreds of free pies to the Capitol. The owners of Ian's boasted that supporters from all 50 states - as well as Bosnia, China, Egypt, France and 20 other countries - had donated thousands of dollars each day so they could give protesters the calories they needed to keep going.

On Wednesday alone, nearly 800 Ian's pizzas were delivered to the Capitol, often 30 at a time, with police officers and legislative aides, Republican and Democrat alike, also partaking.

Underneath the Capitol's majestic dome, as drummers drummed, demonstrators drew posters and some protesters did yoga, dozens of people swarmed toward Paul Sarnwick, an Ian's deliveryman, as he opened a stack of boxes containing pizzas like spicy chicken taco, lasagna and buffalo chicken with blue cheese.

"Whoever thought a deliveryman would be in the middle of something like this?" said Mr. Sarnwick, lanky, unshaven and 26. "People have been saying, 'Thanks for feeding us. If it weren't for you, we wouldn't be able to stay here and rally.' "

Scott Van Eggeren, a pizza lover who opposes Gov. Scott Walker's push to curb collective bargaining rights, hailed Ian's contribution to the cause.

"It's awesome," said Mr. Van Eggeren, a water analyst in the State Department of Natural Resources, having just downed a macaroni and cheese slice. "And the pizza is just great."

Even as the governor and legislators go about their business inside the Capitol, its rotunda has turned into a pro-labor carnival, with folk singing, a children's play area and more than 100 sleeping bags lining the balconies along the third and fourth floors. Taped to the walls were dozens of signs, including, "United We Bargain, Divided We Beg."

A week ago Tuesday, the shop delivered 60 free slices to the Capitol and a blogger soon sang Ian's praises. Next, the owners said, a protest supporter in California called to say, "Can I order two pizzas to send up to the Capitol?"

Word spread on Facebook and Twitter, and soon Ian's pizzas went viral. Some days Ian's has cut off donations at $25,000 because that is the maximum value of pies it can produce.

Steve Marmel, a University of Wisconsin graduate who is a television producer in Hollywood, was one of several supporters who donated $500. "On Facebook I saw that someone from Egypt sent pizzas," he said. "I thought that was cool, and I wanted to do something to help."

The shop has had to increase its daily staff to 19, from its normal eight. "We usually go through one ton of flour a week," Nick Martin, one of the shop's owners, said. "This week we did three tons."


17) Workers' Uprising: Two Dozen Protests Launched Across Wisconsin, TV Talk Show Blackout of Union Reps
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on February 21, 2011, Printed on February 26, 2011

As the drama unfolding in Wisconsin continues, a large coalition of progressive groups has issued an Emergency Call to Action and are planning to offer a massive show of solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin and protest the right's plan to slash vital services in the name of balancing the budget.

The groups are planning "Save the American Dream" rallies in all 50 state capitals for Saturday at noon (local time). You can find out more about the rallies here.

Update (by AlterNet staff):

A DailyKos diarist has drawn an interesting connection between the Koch brothers' business interests in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's bill:

One of the hidden provisions in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's union busting bill concerns state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants. The emphasis in the stories I've read has been on the sale of those power plants, but read a little more carefully:

"[the department] may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state."

...The Kochs funneled millions into Walker's campaign. They're right around the corner from the governor. They specialize in energy industries. How can they possibly claim this:

"We have no interest in purchasing any of the state owned power plants in Wisconsin and any allegations to the contrary are completely false." Source

The diarist speculates: "What they want is a contract for the operation of the plants, which the governor will be authorized to draw up and sign with no oversight, no public announcement, and no limit on the amount Wisconsin taxpayers like me will pay to the Koch brothers."

Update (by AlterNet staff):

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that there two dozen protests have been carried out across Wisconsin on Thursday: "About 200 people marched from Milwaukee Area Technical College to City Hall on Thursday, chanting slogans and waving signs to protest legislation that would sharply curtail public-sector workers' bargaining rights. It was just one of two dozen such rallies across the state, as union forces kept up their assault on Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill. In Milwaukee County alone, more protests were planned Thursday afternoon..."

Update (by AlterNet staff):

Amanda Terkel from the Huffington Post reports that the TV talk shows are showing little interest in bringing on union officials:

A union official told The Huffington Post that when none of the Sunday shows' producers reached out to them to book a labor representative this week, several unions started to pitch the shows with affected workers and local and national leaders who they felt could discuss the protests. The official said the response from the shows was essentially "thanks, but no thanks."

"If you're a Sunday show and there are labor fights going on for two weeks, if you can just book ... Chris Christie, why would you actually go out and get somebody who is actually involved in this? That would be work!" snarked the official, adding, "Everybody's been pushing, and everybody's been shut down."

The Huffington Post reached out to officials at Fox News, NBC, ABC, CNN and CBS. NBC News spokesperson Erika Masonhall said the lineup for this weekend's "Meet the Press" will not be final until Friday and "will highlight a number of topics and include a variety of guests and opinions." An official at another network said their show's guest roster had likewise not been set and a labor representative could still be included. Additionally, there's a chance that not every show will cover the protests this week -- and would therefore be unlikely to have on a labor official -- just as not every show covered the topic last week.

Update (by AlterNet staff):

Madison Police Chief wants Scott Walker to explain his 'troubling' comments. From Raw Story, Chief Noble Wray said, "I spent a good deal of time overnight thinking about Governor Walker's response, during his news conference yesterday, to the suggestion that his administration 'thought about' planting troublemakers among those who are peacefully protesting his bill," Wray said in a statement. "I would like to hear more of an explanation from Governor Walker as to what exactly was being considered, and to what degree it was discussed by his cabinet members."

Update (by AlterNet staff):

The Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader's wife could be among the threatened layoffs. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The Hustisford [Town] School Board approved giving preliminary layoff notices to all 34 members of its teachers union, including the wife of state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, superintendent Jeremy Biehl confirmed Thursday. The board took the action in advance of Gov. Scott Walker's release of the state budget and the statutory deadline for issuing such notices "to give themselves complete flexibility," Biehl said. Hustisford administrators had recommended issuing the notices to five staff members."

Update (by AlterNet staff):

Politifact reviews Gov. Scott Walker's claim that he had campaigned on curtailing collective bargaining for two years. Politifact's Conclusion? False.


Talking Points Memo dug into the story, which we reported earlier this week, of the provision in Walker's union-busting bill that would allow the state to sell-off its power plants to the private sector in a no-bid process. The no-bid part of that is obviously a big red flag, but it turns out that the measure isn't quite the give-away to his corporate backers that it appeared at first blush. That's because the state's plants are antiquated and need significant investment to conform with environmental regs.

It seems that the provision is about Walker believing, on ideological grounds, that the free market fairies will come in and shower Wisconsin with cash for these antiquated plants, and then fix them up because government is bad.

Details here.


Yesterday's big story was the "prank call" made by a blogger posing as oily right-wing billionaire David Koch to Scott Walker. It revealed the right-wing governor's hostility toward working people and the lengths to which he would go to strip them of their rights. And it was amusing -- the phony Koch sounded like an exaggerated parody of fat-cat, right-wing funder, yet Walker never even became suspicious. The hard-right is difficult to parody.

But as Mary Bottari reports today on the front page, the exchange was "no laughing matter." It may have exposed Walker to some legal problems in the future -- especially his threat to lay-off 5,000-6,000 workers as political payback to the Democratic senators who fled the state last week.

...the Governor also explains how he is going to layoff thousands of Wisconsin workers as a tactic to get the Democrats to cooperate: "So, we're trying about four or five different angles. Each day we crank up a little bit more pressure. The other thing is I've got layoff notices ready, we put out the at-risk notices, we'll announce Thursday, they'll go out early next week and we'll probably get five to six thousand state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might_ratchet that up a little bit too."

The move has been called "despicable" and "ruthless " and "sickening." But most importantly, if he is choosing to lay off workers as a political tactic when he wasn't' otherwise planning to do so then it is not just morally repugnant but legally questionable. State and federal contract and labor law has protections against this type of abusive behavior and inappropriate quid pro quo.

This morning the Capital Times quotes the state's former Attorney General: "There clearly are potential ethics violations, and there are potential election-law violations and there are a lot of what look to me like labor-law violations," said Peg Lautenschlager, a Democrat who served as Wisconsin's Attorney General after serving for many years as a U.S. Attorney. The head of the state teacher's association, Mary Bell, reminds us: "he literally planned to use five to six thousand hardworking Wisconsin taxpayers as political pawns in his political game. He actually thought through a strategy to lay people off - deny them the ability to feed their families - and use it as leverage for his political goals."

Bottari notes that Wisconsin has "the toughest ethics law in the nation."

Update (by AlterNet staff): Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has called on Obama to join the protesters in Wisconsin. Ellison went on MSNBC last night, and said that he would "like to hear more from President Obama" and that the President should "should come to Wisconsin and stand with the workers."

Update (by AlterNet staff): The AP is reporting that the Wisconsin state Assembly has reached a deal that will force a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting legislation. After some 43 hours of deliberation, state Democrats agreed "to limit the number of remaining amendments and time spent on each in order to reach a vote on the union rights bill sometime later in the day." So the vote is coming up later in the day, but the state's lawmakers have to track down the 14 senators who defected from the state last week in protest of Walker's union-busting bill. As we mentioned earlier, state troopers have been deployed to the senators' homes. According to the AP, "The lawmakers can't be arrested, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he hoped the move would pressure them to return. He would not say how many Democrats were being targeted, but said it was more than one." As of Thursday, the defecting senators continued to refuse to return until Gov. Walker compromised on his bill. "It's not so much the Democrats holding things up, it's really a matter of Gov. Walker holding things up," said Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach, who fled to the Chicago area.

Update (by AlterNet staff): Yesterday, Gov. Scott Walker admitted to plotting to trick the missing Democratic lawmakers into returning to the Capitol. Walker said he'd draw Democrats back by pretending to want to talk, then make use of a loophole that would let Republicans hold a quorum without the Democrats present. (Walker admitted this to liberal blogger Ian Murphy from the Buffalo Beast, who posed as right-wing billionaire David Koch in a hilarious prank). His plan exposed, the Governor has resorted to a different strategy: sending state patrol officers to the homes of the missing Democrats to put pressure on them to return, the AP reports.

The Democrats are holding strong though. According to the AP, "Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach says all 14 [of the missing Democrats] are out of state and won't be returning Thursday."

Update (by AlterNet staff): Wisconsin could lose $46 million in federal funds thanks to Walker's anti-union bill, explains Joan McCarter from DailyKos: "His budget and transportation officials have informed him that he'd could be forfeiting millions in transportation funding from the federal government if his anti-union legislation is signed into law."

Update (by AlterNet staff): Cops called on unwelcome Tea Party activist hunting for Wisconsin Dems at hotel in Harvard, Illinois.

Update (by AlterNet staff): Milwaukee police are sending a unit to Madison -- From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A "Major Incident Response Team" from the Milwaukee Police Department will be sent to Madison to help maintain order at the state Capitol, the department announced Wednesday.

The 37-member unit will be deployed in response to a mutual aid request from the state Department of Administration, according to a police department news release.

The Capitol has been the scene of massive demonstrations by opponents of Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill.

"Our officers will assist in insuring that the rights of all parties in this debate are respected and protected," said Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn.


Just as they've done in Wisconsin and Indiana, as an Illinois state rep Abe Lincoln once fled the state house -- exiting out a window -- to prevent a vote on a controversial bill. But all week, conservatives -- as well as a few confused pseudo-liberals -- have been advancing the argument that when a minority in a legislature uses parliamentary procedures it's some kind of assault on democracy. There's even an effort underway to recall the 14 Wisconsin senators who left the state last week.

Today, Think Progress reports that not all conservatives have bought into this argument.

Yesterday, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) defended his state's vanished senators, saying their fleeing is "perfectly legitimate":

Daniels, a Republican, said earlier Tuesday he supported the Democrats' right to deny Republicans a quorum to do business and the rights of labor unions to protest at the Statehouse.

"The activities of today are perfectly legitimate part of the process," he said. "Even the smallest minority, and that's what we've heard from in the last couple days, has every right to express the strength of its views and I salute those who did."

Today, appearing on conservative radio host Laura Igraham's show, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) - who has been one of Walker's most reliable defenders and whom Walker says he talks to "everyday" - refused to condmen the senators' actions or Daniels' comments, saying to a displeased Ingraham, "If you were there, you might end up walking out the chamber too!"


In Michigan, the House passed the Republicans' "emergency measure" (see below), which will now be taken up in the state senate.


Earlier, we brought you the story of a far-right deputy attorney general in Indiana who urged Wisconsin cops to use live ammo on protesters. Today, he was fired. Good riddance.


Michigan's right-wing governor hasn't introduced a bill to break his state's unions, but local law-makers are warily eyeing another "emergency measure" being sold as an answer to the state's fiscal problems. The proposal on the table would allow "emergency financial managers" appointed by the state to simply nullify union contracts.

Democratic lawmakers aren't pleased. And, as the Michigan Political Report notes, "Detroit has strong and vocal unions that won't take kindly to a state appointee tearing up their contracts." "I think the push back that you see in Wisconsin will look like a tea party compared to what you'll see in Detroit with our strong union representation marching on Lansing -- if the intent is to break union contracts," Detroit City Councilman Gary Brown told a local radio show on Monday.

CBS reports that "hundreds of Detroiters converged on the state capital to protest pending legislation, including a bill that would broaden the powers of emergency financial managers."

Update (by AlterNet staff): Ethics watchdog CREW is requesting an investigation into Scott Walker's use of the Wisconsin State Patrol by ordering the (WSP) to the home of Democratic Senate Leader Matt Miller:

"Governor Walker has many tools at his disposal to fight the state's public employees, but using troopers to track down a political opponent crosses the line," said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. Sloan continued, "The governor's conduct is especially egregious in light of a Wisconsin law specifically barring troopers from taking part in any dispute between an employer and employee over wages, hours, labor, or working conditions -- the subject of the governor's bill."

Update (by AlterNet staff):

Gov. Walker issues new ultimatum. Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: "Walker also said that if Senate Democrats do not return to the Capitol to debate his budget-repair bill by the end of the week, layoff notices will go out to 1,500 state employees, and additional state jobs could be on the line."

Update (by AlterNet staff):

House Dem Keith Ellison compares Gov. Scott Walker to a "dictator." Via Raw Story, "Ellison accused Walker of having 'a vision of America that's similar to somewhere like Nigeria or Pakistan,' saying he's 'been extreme, radical, reckless... and he's going to fail.'

Update (by AlterNet staff):

Buffalo Beast's Ian Murphy does an interview with Salon about his widely-reported prank call with Gov. Scott Walker pretending to be Tea Party sugar daddy David Koch (see AlterNet's coverage of the call):

"I wasn't expecting to actually get through. I was wildly unprepared," Murphy says.

Murphy simply called Walker's office, saying he was Koch, and was ultimately connected with Walker's chief of staff, Keith Gilkes. "The most ridiculous thing to me is when I get on line with the chief of staff and he wanted to take my number down, and I said I couldn't give it to him because my maid Maria had thrown my phone into the washing machine," Murphy says.


Solidarity rallies are being held across the country. In Boston, the local NPR station reports that "union members and Tea Party supporters clashed over the stalemate 1,200 miles away, between teachers and the governor of Wisconsin."
According to the Washington Times, "Dozens of leaders of the tea party movement have come out in support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in his standoff with Democrats and public-sector unions over the state's budget deficit."

That sentence is telling. The battle is not, in fact, "over the state's budget deficit," as those confused tea partiers have been led to believe; among other things, it gives the governor the power to sell off state-owned infrastructure -- possibly to his well-heeled patrons -- in a no-bid process. As we reported below, government watch-dogs call that a major "red flag." It also contains a provision that centralizes power over the state's public health programs iwith a measure that the legislature's legal analyst warns may be a violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

So, these folks who believe in transparency and "cleaning up" the state house are being sold on a "deficit reduction" bill, but they're in fact fighting for a bill that would be ripe for Big Government corruption and what may be an un-Constitutional centralization of power. Telling.


Big news out of Indiana, as the Indianapolis Star reports that GOP lawmakers have pulled their controversial right-to-work-for-lower-wages bill. They'll send it to a committee for further study. But the Dems who fled the state will not return yet "because they have additional issues they want resolved."

Last night they issued a statement saying they had concerns about 11 bills, including other labor-related bills, education reforms and the proposed next state budget. They singled out two in particular: the right-to-work bill and one which lets state tax dollars pay for private school tuition for some families.


Over at the National Journal, Tim Fernholz has a nice run-down of why Scott Walker's union-busting bill offers a classic example of bait-and-switch:

While Walker argues that his budget-repair legislation must be passed soon to avoid job cuts, the most controversial parts of his bill would have no immediate effect.

The state's entire budget shortfall for this year -- the reason that Walker has said he must push through immediate cuts -- would be covered by the governor's relatively uncontroversial proposal to restructure the state's debt...

The bill includes a provision that would allow the state to sell or contract out the operation of heating, cooling, and power plants without a bidding process and without consulting the state's independent utility regulator. Democratic legislators worried aloud that the process would attract abuse, and Jon Peacock, Director of the Wisconsin Budget Project, called the no-bid approach a "red flag."

The bill also employs "emergency" powers that would allow the governor's appointed Secretary of Health to redefine the foundations of the state's Medicaid program, Badgercare, ranging from eligibility to premiums, with only passive legislative review. The attorney in the legislature's non-partisan reference bureau who prepared the bill warned that a court could invalidate the statute for violating separation of powers doctrine.

The legislation, the lawyer wrote in a "Drafter's Note" about the bill, would allow the State Department of Health Services to "change any Medical Assistance law, for any reason, at any time, and potentially without notice or public hearing ... in addition to eliminating notice and publication requirements, [the changes] would leave the emergency rules in effect without any requirement to make permanent rules and without any time limit."


Yesterday, we told you about the Gallup poll which found that 61 percent of respondents opposed stripping workers of their right to bargain collectively. Media Matters caught Fox "News" simply reversing the results of the poll.

This wasn't just an "error" in their graphics, by the way. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade also made the claim on-air. No wonder protesters are shouting "Fox Lies" this week.


TPM reports that a conservative deputy attorney general in Indiana took to Twitter and called for Madison police to use live ammunition to end the protests in the capitol. "[A]gainst thugs physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor?" he tweeted in an exchange with a Mother Jones editor. "You're damn right I advocate deadly force."

He's not alone. A rally to show solidarity with the protesters in Wisconsin is being held at 4 pm today today at the Gold Dome in Atlanta, and the Journal-Constitution points to another threat of right-wing intimidation posted on the hard-right Free Republic.

Members of the various Tea Party, 9/12, and other freedom-oriented folks in the Atlanta area will be ... providing balance to the ravings of the passengers aboard the SEIU Thugbus, which is scheduled to vomit forth its stooges at that same place and time.

If you are within three hours drive of ATL, come join us.

Dan and others from RTC will be there, with the usual accoutrements. As always, each participant is responsible for compliance with all applicable local laws.


There appears to be some regulations re armed protests on the Washington Street side of the Capitol, so attendees are requested to be flexible in your attire. We will attempt (but no promises) to get some additional clarity regarding the situation and post it here prior to the show.

Jay Bookman of the Constitution explains, "'RTC' is an acronym for 'Right to Carry' firearms. The advice that 'attendees are requested to be flexible in your attire' is apparently a suggestion to keep firearms concealed.

Update (by AlterNet staff): "Existential struggle"

A New York Times editorial calls the protests in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio an "existential struggle" between organized labor and conservatives trying to decimate a major force behind Democratic victories and a hindrance to the right-wing agenda.

The piece points out that in the past, conservative politicians in states with strong unions have generally left them alone, but that "changed this year after wealthy conservatives poured tens of millions of dollars into the election campaigns of hard-right candidates like Mr. Kasich and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin." These include the right-wing billionaire Koch brothers, as Adele Stan reported on AlterNet.

If the stand-off were really about the states' budget woes, the piece points out, Gov. Scott Walker would have agreed to negotiate by now -- union leaders have offered a ton of concessions, including using up more of workers' wages for pension costs and upping their health insurance payments. But Walker refuses to negotiate. The NYT concludes:

His true priority is stripping workers of collective-bargaining rights and reducing their unions to a shell. The unions would no longer be able to raise money to oppose him, as they did in last year's election, easing the way for future Republicans as well.

The game is up when unionized state workers demonstrate a sense of shared sacrifice but Republican lawmakers won't even allow them a seat at the table. For unions and Democrats in the Midwest, this is an existential struggle, and it is one worth waging.

Update (by AlterNet staff): Speaking of right-wing billionaires trying to destroy organized labor ... Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing group founded and partly funded by the Koch brothers, is blanketing Wisconsin airwaves with a new ad demonizing teachers and other public employees and slamming Democratic lawmakers who left the state to block a quorum on the anti-union legislation. The AFP blog brags that the group spent $342,200 on the ad buy; it will run both on network and cable TV.

Update: Alex Pareene sums up our own feelings at Salon:

Tonight, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had a "fireside chat" to dismiss the claims of protesting Wisconsin public employees and the millions of Americans who sympathize with them in their fight to retain collective-bargaining rights.

Walker warned that outside agitators were being shipped in from Nevada and Chicago. He claimed that his union-busting bill was aimed purely at deficit reduction, and not intended as a "battle with unions." If he'd meant to cripple unions, he said, "we would have eliminated collective bargaining entirely or we would have gone after the private-sector unions."

"Our bill is about protecting the hardworking taxpayer," he said. "Unless the taxpayer is a teacher," he didn't add. "It's about Wisconsin families trying to make ends meet and help their children," he said. "Although I have no idea how any specific family will be helped by depriving state employees of the right to negotiate for benefits," he also didn't add.


Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, spent three hours greeting workers and union members who gathered in 26 degree temperatures around the Ohio State Capitol to protect their right to organize. He called it, "a defining moment in the history of our state that will determine the rights of workers for years to come."

"The hundreds of workers who I personally spoke to feel betrayed. The federal government has no hesitation to hand out billions to Wall Street, but when it comes to workers there is an effort in Ohio and other states to destroy the right to bargain collectively," said Kucinich.

"This is the beginning of a long and drawn out battle between state government's corporate philosophy and the workers," added Kucinich. "I am proud to stand on the side of the workers."


Economist Dean Baker destroys WaPo columnist (and former Bush speechwriter) Michael Gerson's anti-union spin:

On the Washington Post opinion pages you can make up anything you like as long as you are using it in an argument against working people. Therefore we get columnist Michael Gerson telling readers that:

"...public employee unions have the unique power to help pick pliant negotiating partners - by using compulsory dues to elect friendly politicians."

Nope, that is not true in this country. Unions are prohibited from using dues to pay for campaign contributions. (If Mr. Gerson knows of any violations of the law, I'm sure that there are many ambitious prosecutors who would be happy to hear his evidence.) Unions do make contributions to political campaigns, but these are from voluntary contributions that workers make to their union's PAC. They are not from their union dues.

As Barry Goldwater once said, "making things up in the service of the wealthy is no vice," or something like that.


Emily Loftus at Mother Jones reports that Indiana's GOP-dominated state senate passed a measure stripping teachers of their right to bargain collectively. As is the case in Wisconsin, Democratic lawmakers in the House have fled the state to deny Republicans a quorum to vote on the matter -- are in an "indefinite" caucus meeting.


The billionaire Koch brothers -- major funders of the Tea Parties, Scott Walker's campaign and much of the Right's infrastructure -- have "quietly" opened a lobbying shop in downtown Madison, according to The Capital Times.


Scott Walker is pushing a hard-right agenda, and the one thing he's said that is accurate is that this should come as no surprise to anyone who paid attention during his campaign.

David Dayen at Firedoglake noted this today:

I got a sense from Sen. Chris Larson and some others in Wisconsin that the Governor and his Republican allies had run amok in the Capitol before attention was paid to their machinations due to the assault on public workers. But I didn't realize how bad it was until I saw this come across the transom:

Madison - Today, Governor Scott Walker signed Special Session Assembly Bill 5 which requires a 2/3s vote to pass tax rate increases on the income, sales or franchise taxes.

"I went to work today, met with my cabinet, and signed legislation that will help government operate within its means," Governor Scott Walker said.

These proposals, which I wrote about in November, allow a minority to hold state legislatures hostage. Law-makers can't raise taxes when necessary, so they are forced to cut -- it's a method of entrenching conservative policies and making elections moot.

In other words, Walker has already destroyed Wisconsin state government for a generation to come. We learned that the hard way here in California.


According to a new USA Today/ Gallup poll, 61 percent of respondents oppose limits on union bargaining power.


CNN estimates 10-15,000 protesters in Columbus, Ohio. There are reportedly 1,500 at a protest in Canton.

Via Twitter, Matt Stoller sends this pic of a demo he describes as a "Fairly large block-long Cheesehead rally outside Fox News" headquarters in New York:


Let's talk numbers. The National Institute for Retirement Security conducted a study (PDF) using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and came up with this finding:

Benefits make up a slightly larger share of compensation for the state and local sector. But even after accounting for the value of retirement, healthcare, and other benefits, state and local employees earn less than private sector counterparts. On average, total compensation is 6.8% lower for state employees and 7.4% lower for local employees than for comparable private sector employees.

The Economic Policy Institute put out a fact-sheet last week (PDF) that noted that wages in the public sector has grown more slowly than it has for comparable workers in the private:

The total growth of inflation-adjusted wages for high school educated workers in the private sector between 1989 and 2010 was 4.8%, slightly faster than the 2.6% wage growth for comparable public employees. This means that inflation-adjusted wages have been essentially flat for two decades for high school educated workers regardless of sector. In contrast, productivity growth, reflecting the increase in the economy's overall gains, grew 62.5% in the 1989-2010 period.

For those with a bachelor's degree (but no further education), inflation-adjusted wages grew by 19.5% in the private sector from 1989 to 2010, far more than the 9.5% growth seen by state employees.


A common refrain from people wishing to destroy public employees' unions is that their workers are 'demanding more from the tax-payers.' It's a testament to how confused the Right is about the role of government.

Public employees are not demanding anything from "the taxpayer." They are workers demanding fair wages from their bosses.

We live in a democracy, and tax-payers get to participate by voting. If, for example, one doesn't like our public education system, one can vote for a representative who shares his or her view on the subject.

However, a sizable majority of Americans do want a decent public school system. It's a democracy, so we'll have public schools. That's the end of the role of the tax-payer in this story.

Now, our schools need to hire teachers, and those teachers are workers, and our school system is their employer. They're not making any demands on the tax-payer -- the tax-payers role was deciding to have public education in the first place. And the same can be said of garbage collection, law enforcement or anything else the public sector does.


Nationwide protests are scheduled for this Saturday to fight back against balancing the budget on the backs of working people while corporate America shelters hundreds of billions in potential tax revenues. Find out more at US Uncut.

Over at the HuffPo, Van Jones argues that we may be seeing the emergence of a new movement centered on social and economic justice.

Reinvigorated by the idealism and fighting spirit on display right now in America's heartland, the movement for "hope and change" has a rare, second chance. It can renew itself and become again a national force with which to be reckoned.

Over the next hours and days, all who love this country need to do everything possible to spread the "spirit of Madison" to all 50 states. This does not mean we need to occupy 50 state capitol buildings; things elsewhere are not yet that dire. But this weekend, the best of America should rally on the steps of every statehouse in the union. and others have issued just this kind of call to action; everyone should prioritize responding and turning out in large numbers.

On Saturday, the powers-that-be (in both parties) should see a rainbow force coming together: organized workers, business leaders, veterans, students and youth, faith leaders, civil rights fighters, women's rights champions, immigrant rights defenders, LGBTQ stalwarts, environmentalists, academics, artists, celebrities, community activists, elected officials and more -- all standing up for what's right.


Here's The Uptake on Scott Walker threatening layoffs if he doesn't get his way today:

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said today if his proposal to eliminate collective bargaining on all issues but pay does not become law, Wisconsin will need to layoff 1,500 state employees. As Walker spoke to the media, thousands of protesters converged on the Capitol, eventually becoming so loud that they could be heard where the Governor was.

Walker said there was "no room for compromise" on the collective bargaining issue. "We're broke", said Walker.

Read on to see how mendacious this claim really is -- the state isn't broke and stripping workers of their right to negotiate would result in insignificant savings for the state budget.


The United States' last general strike -- with workers from different industries all walking out at once -- occurred in 1934. They're illegal under the Taft-Hartley Act enacted in the 1940s.

But last night, the Madison AFL-CIO local issued a press release raising that possibility:

Motion 1: The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his "budget repair bill," and requests the Education Committee immediately begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a general strike.

Motion 2: The SCFL goes on record as opposing all provisions contained in Walker's "budget repair bill," including but not limited to, curtailed bargaining rights and reduced wages, benefits, pensions, funding for public education, changes to medical assistance programs, and politicization of state government agencies.

Mike Elk notes that because of Taft-Hartley, "the key word is the phrase 'begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a general strike'.

Many private sector unions would not go out on a general strike out of fear of being of sued by their employers. However, local labor observers say many public sector unions and some of the construction unions would go out on a strike. Threatening a general strike creates even more pressure for Scott Walker in the business community.


A major protest is being organized in Columbus, Ohio this afternoon. Ohio Dems:

Now is the time. If ever there was a time to show up, stand up and let our voices be heard, it is now. The fate of Ohio's middle class is on the line at the Ohio Statehouse.

[Today,] the legislature is scheduled to move on Senate Bill 5, a bill that would strip away collective bargaining rights, hurt the middle class, kill jobs and destroy communities. I want to invite you to come to the Statehouse in Columbus on Tuesday to voice your opposition to this bill. Please click here and let us know that you can attend.


It's day 2 of labor's show-down against "right to work for lower wages" legislation in Indiana. As they have in Wisconsin, Democratic lawmakers have left the state to prevent a vote. According to the Indianapolis Star-Tribune, Democrats are headed to Illinois, though it was possible some also might go to Kentucky.

They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana.

The House was came into session this morning, with only two of the 40 Democrats present. Those two were needed to make a motion, and a seconding motion, for any procedural steps Democrats would want to take to ensure Republicans don't do anything official without quorum.

Hundreds of workers are reportedly staging a sit-in outside the capitol building.

Wisconsin Dems say Walker has cut off internet access to opposition websites in the capitol building. Maybe calling him "Hosni Walker" isn't so uncivil after all.


The more we learn about Scott Walker and his proposal, the clearer it becomes that this has little, if anything, to do with balancing Wisconsin's budget.

We reported earlier that Walker single-handedly killed high-speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison, and is trying to establish regulations that would make wind-farms very difficult to set up in Wisconsin. But there's more to this story, as Dave Johnson reported yesterday for PRWatch. Tucked into Walker's bill is a provision which allows the sale of "any state_owned heating, cooling, and power plant ... with or without solicitation of bids."

And just who is the likely recipient of no-bid state sales of publicly-owned heating, cooling and power facilities? That would most likely be companies controlled by the brothersDavid and Charles Koch, owners of Koch Industries, and big financial supporters of Governor Scott Walker. The Koch brothers have also funded groups that are attempting to create a crisis atmosphere over the state's budget, leading up to the attempt to pass this bill that could result in the low-cost transfer of state assets to their company.

In addition to the Koch brothers being backers and big financial supporters of Governor Walker, they are also primary funders of the Tea Party via their general financial support for Americans for Prosperity, which David Koch Chairs.

So, largely un-reported is this stealthy provision that allows no-bid privatization of state-owned energy infrastructure. And Walker has a history --not a good one -- privatizing state agencies. As Mother Jones reported, "as Milwaukee County executive, Walker fought to fire the county's unionized prison guards and replace them with private contractors."

Walker's initial attempt to sweep out unionized prison guards was blocked by the Milwaukee County board. But in March 2010, he unilaterally rammed through the measure under the guise of a budget crisis, a power grab that angered officials in Milwaukee County. To replace the union workers Walker hired Wackenhut, a controversy-riddled British contractor. (It was employees of a Wackenhut subsidiary at the heart of the Kabul embassy scandal, where, asMother Jones first reported, contractors were revealed to be a crew of drunken, debaucherous hooligans that hazed other contractors and partied like out-of-control frat brothers. Think vodka butt shots.) In another controversy, Wackenhut security guards were videotaped sleeping on the job at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, revelations that shook the industry and resulted in a heap of criticism for the company.

How did it work out in the end? As privatization for its own sake often does, it ended in a (costly) disaster.

Walker's hiring of Wackenhut quickly became a nightmare. After ramming through the proposal, an arbiter said Walker overreached, and repealed the firing of the unionized prison guards. That arbiter ordered Milwaukee County to rehire the union workers and repay them for the wages they lost, costing the county upwards of $500,000.

Update (by AlterNet Staff):

Yesterday Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker vowed to continue his fight against public employee unions for the sake of the "taxpayers of the state." But a new poll suggests that Walker is losing public support in his stand-off with Wisconsin's teachers and other state workers. Here's a breakdown of a new GQR Research poll by Talking Points Memo:

Sixty-two percent of respondents to the poll said they view public employees favorably, while just 11% said they had an unfavorable view of the workers whose benefits packages Walker says are breaking the state budget.

Meanwhile, just 39% of respondents had a favorable view of Walker, while 49% had an unfavorable view of the freshman Republican governor. Voters are split on his job performance, with 51% saying they disapprove of the job Walker has done.

"Since the protests began, Governor Walker has seen real erosion in his standing," the GQR pollsters write in their analysis, "with a majority expressing disapproval of his job performance and disagreement with his agenda."

The poll was sponsored by the AFL-CIO, so there's a possibility of bias. But as Josh Marshall points out, the polling company is respected.


All of the focus this week has been on Scott Walker's antipathy towards labor. But at Mother Jones' Andy Kroll reports, "Walker has a history of striking hard-line positions, and nowhere is that more true than on the most controversial social issue of them all: abortion."

Walker's nearly nine-year record in the Wisconsin Assembly, the legislature's lower house, reads like a pro-life handbook, an all-out assault on abortion rights. What's more, the many anti-abortion initiatives he backed are perfectly in sync with the assault on reproductive rights now unfolding on the national level, where House Republicans recently gutted fundingfor Planned Parenthood and controversially tried to redefine "rape" to limit the long-standing exceptions to the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother's life.


Last Friday, Walker told a Milwaukee radio station that his state's public employees right to bargain collectively would be "fully intact" under his proposal. It took some nerve to make the claim, prompting the Journal-Sentinel's fact-checkers to rate Walker's claim as a "pants on fire" falsehood.

Many state, local government and public school employees -- including those represented by the largest state workers union -- have said they would be willing to pay more for pensions and health insurance, as called for in a budget-repair bill introduced by Walker.

But the workers continue to protest provisions in the bill that would restrict most public employee unions to bargaining only over wages, and then only within caps.

It's the central issue in the protests, which have drawn national attention.


Walker has announced that he will address Wisconsinites in a "fireside chat," at 6pm on Tuesday evening.


Folks in the Badger State sure love their Packers, and several have come out in support of the protesters. Sports writer Philip Bondy:

Last week, seven current and former Packers - Brady Poppinga, Jason Spitz, Curtis Fuller, Chris Jacke, Charles Jordan, Bob Long and Steve Okoniewski - also expressed support for the public employees. Maybe that doesn't sound like a revolution, but among athletes this is a considerable step forward in understanding that community extends beyond the goal line. We've learned long ago that stars such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods would film a thousand commercials before they'd even consider taking a meaningful stand on any social issue.

The sad truth is that politicians are more likely to be swayed by the popularity and fame of professional athletes than they are of any mere worker. The Packers have considerable clout as an institution, even more so now with a Super Bowl trophy in hand. This is a public-owned franchise. Viewed in that light, the Packer players are state employees, not so terribly unlike those picketing along State Street and Capitol Square.

Today, Charles Woodson lent his support to the state's public workers, prompting former NFL Players' Association head (and Madison resident) Ed Garvey to note, "Woodson is in a fight with Walker-like NFL owners. He needs his union, we need ours! Thank you, Charles Woodson."


More on the governor's broader far-right agenda from the Milwaukee Examiner's Amy Lou Jenkins.

Wisconsin imports all its coal and oil, yet has the potential to produce all its energy using renewable resources. Scott Walker continues to chase away cleaner energy options. Firmly entrenched in the paradigms of fossil-fuel based automotive tran

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America). Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.
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