Saturday, March 19, 2011



In a recent New York Daily News Poll the question was asked:

Should Army pfc Bradley Manning face charges for allegedly stealing classified documents and providing them for WikiLeaks?
New York Daily News Poll Results:
Yes, he's a traitor for selling out his country! ...... 28%
No, he's a hero for standing up for what's right! ..... 62%
We need to see more evidence before passing judgment.. 10%

Sign the Petition:

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

Stand with Bradley!

A 23-year-old Army intelligence analyst, Pfc. Manning faces decades in prison for allegedly leaking a video of a US helicopter attack that killed at least eleven Iraqi civilians to the website Wikileaks. Among the dead were two working Reuters reporters. Two children were also severely wounded in the attack.

In addition to this "Collateral Murder" video, Pfc. Manning is suspected of leaking the "Afghan War Diaries" - tens of thousands of battlefield reports that explicitly describe civilian deaths and cover-ups, corrupt officials, collusion with warlords, and a failing US/NATO war effort.

"We only know these crimes took place because insiders blew the whistle at great personal risk ... Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal," noted Barack Obama while on the campaign trail in 2008. While the President was referring to the Bush Administration's use of phone companies to illegally spy on Americans, Pfc. Manning's alleged actions are just as noteworthy. If the military charges against him are accurate, they show that he had a reasonable belief that war crimes were being covered up, and that he took action based on a crisis of conscience.

After nearly a decade of war and occupation waged in our name, it is odd that it apparently fell on a young Army private to provide critical answers to the questions, "What have we purchased with well over a trillion tax dollars and the deaths of hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan?" However, history is replete with unlikely heroes.

If Bradley Manning is indeed the source of these materials, the nation owes him our gratitude. We ask Secretary of the Army, the Honorable John M. McHugh, and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General George W. Casey, Jr., to release Pfc. Manning from pre-trial confinement and drop the charges against him.


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.


Join the Bradley Manning street theater contingent at the SF anti-war march and rally this Saturday, March 19th

Meet us this Saturday, March 19th, at the Courage to Resist tent at UN Plaza, 7th and Market Streets, at noon. We'll have extra street theater props for you and a few friends. On the 8th anniversary of the Iraq War, folks will be taking to the streets to say enough is enough--end the wars, free Bradley Manning! Contact to RSVP or more info.

Sunday "Rally for Bradley" in SF
10 AM at the Yerba Buena Gardens, 720 Mission, San Francisco. Local students take up the international call to take action for Bradley. Learn more at their Facebook event page

P/T Paid internship open: Web (CMS) / HTML / social media
Courage To Resist
484 Lake park Ave #41
Oakland, CA 94610




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:

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:




SATURDAY, MARCH 19, help distribute April 10 fliers at the March and Rally, UN Plaza, 12:00 NOON


These bloody wars not only costs the invaluable lives of those who are the targets of U.S. guns, bombs and torture and those who were coerced by economic necessity to become the cannon fodder for these wars--but they are costing trillions of dollars--dollars direct from the pockets of working people who are also paying trillions for corporate bailouts and bonuses!

Enough is enough! Help build a real, independent, democratic movement to fight these wars on working people everywhere!



TODAY--rain or shine, 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


San Francisco Rally for Bradley Manning!

Sunday, March 20, 10:00 AM

Location: Yerba Buena Gardens, 720 Mission, San Francisco, CA

Learn more:

Read more:


Rally for Bradley! Quantico VA. Sunday, March 20

Read more:

On March 20, 2011, there will be a rally at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia to support accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Army Pfc. Bradley Manning. Supporters will gather for a 2pm rally at the town of Triangle (intersection of Anderson Road and Route 1/Jefferson Davis Hwy), then march to the gates of Quantico. Bradley has been held at the Quantico brig in solitary-like conditions for eight months without any meaningful exercise. We stand for truth, government transparency, and an end to our occupation wars... we stand with Bradley! Event endorsed by the Bradley Manning Support Network, Veterans for Peace, Courage to Resist, CodePink, and many other groups.

We will meet at 2pm immediately adjacent to Rt. 1 and Anderson Road. Parking can be found at the Marines Corps Museum. They have HUGE parking lot, there. About 1/4 mile walk. There might also be some parking behind church adjacent to Inn Rd and Rt. 1, behind the rally location.

The day before, on Saturday, March 19th, in Washington DC, supporters of Bradley's will be joining the noon rally at Lafayette Park and march on the White House to "Resist the War Machine!"

Reserve your seat (only $10 round trip) on our chartered bus from Washington DC at Buses will leave from in front of Union Station, Washington DC, at 12:30pm.

Download, view, print and share the event leaflet (PDF)

WHO: Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Paper's Whistleblower; Ret. Col. Ann Wright; Representatives from Veterans for Peace, Bradley Manning Support Network.

WHAT: Rally in support of Pfc. Bradley Manning

WHERE: US Marine Corps Base Quantico Entrance and neighboring Triangle. Rally to be followed by a march to the intersection of Rt. 1 and Fuller Road where the main entrance to Quantico is located.

WHEN: Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 2:00 PM ET

CONTACTS: Pete Perry, Veterans for Peace. (P) 202-631-0974 (W)pete4peace [at] gmail [dot] com; Trevor FitzGibbon, FitzGibbon Media. (P) 202.406.0646 (W) Trevor [at] FitzGibbonMedia [dot] com

Read more:


San Francisco Labor Council Resolution - Unanimously adopted 3/14/2011
Resolution in Support of April 4, 2011
No Business as Usual
Solidarity Actions

Whereas, the San Francisco Labor Council Executive Committee is calling for a mobilization in San Francisco on April 4, 2011 against union-busting and the budget cuts;

Therefore be it Resolved, that in the event that a Council affiliate votes to engage in an industrial action on April 4, the San Francisco Labor Council will call on all its affiliates with fax blast, e-mail, phone etc. to support such action by engaging, wherever possible, in work stoppages, sick-outs and any other solidarity actions.

Resolution adopted March 14, 2011 by unanimous vote of the regular Delegates Meeting of the Council, meeting in San Francisco, California.



'We Have the Opportunity to Plan and Build Something Enormous'

The voice of the labor movement and its allies will roar louder than ever on April 4, the anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when "it will not be business as usual at workplaces and communities across this nation," CWA President Larry Cohen said Wednesday.

Speaking to 10,000 CWA members on a nationwide phone call, Cohen said the AFL-CIO Executive Board had adopted his proposal for "movement-wide dramatic action" to honor King and the workers fighting for their rights today.

King was shot to death while he was in Memphis to support 1,300 striking city sanitation workers. "Their fight was about recognition, respect and dignity," Cohen said. "Dr. King called it a moral struggle for an economic outcome, much like the fights in the states and at the bargaining table and in every one of our organizing drives."

Cohen urged CWA locals and members to begin brainstorming ideas and making plans for April 4, challenging them and all Americans to "create events at every workplace in America."

It could be as simple as everyone wearing red that day, having workers meet outside and march into work together or standing up at noon and shouting, "Workers rights are human rights!" Cohen said.

Other ideas include candlelight vigils in parks, meetings of church congregations, rallies at statehouses and protests in front of corporate offices. Cohen said CWA locals and activists will receive an e-mail shortly asking them to submit their ideas and plans, and another town hall-style phone call will be held in advance of the events.

King's murder while fighting for city workers spurred public organizing drives across the United States. Cohen said there is no better way to honor that and King than by doing what he would do, "create a new movement for economic justice."

"We need to combine offense and defense," Cohen said. "We need to take it to every workplace, union and non union, private and public sector. We have an opportunity to plan and build something enormous."


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]


Dropkick Murphys - Worker's Song (with lyrics)

Worker's Song Lyrics
Artist(Band):Dropkick Murphys

Yeh, this one's for the workers who toil night and day
By hand and by brain to earn your pay
Who for centuries long past for no more than your bread
Have bled for your countries and counted your dead

In the factories and mills, in the shipyards and mines
We've often been told to keep up with the times
For our skills are not needed, they've streamlined the job
And with sliderule and stopwatch our pride they have robbed

We're the first ones to starve, we're the first ones to die
The first ones in line for that pie-in-the-sky
And we're always the last when the cream is shared out
For the worker is working when the fat cat's about

And when the sky darkens and the prospect is war
Who's given a gun and then pushed to the fore
And expected to die for the land of our birth
Though we've never owned one lousy handful of earth?

[Chorus x3]

All of these things the worker has done
From tilling the fields to carrying the gun
We've been yoked to the plough since time first began
And always expected to carry the can

Which Side Are You On - Dropkick Murphys

Lyrics :
Our father was a union man
some day i'll be one too.
The bosses fired daddy
what's our family gonna do?

Come all you good workers,
Good news to you I'll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on? (x2)

My dady was a miner,
And I'm a miner's son,
And I'll stick with the union
'Til every battle's won.

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there.
You'll either be a union man
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.

Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can?
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Don't scab for the bosses,
Don't listen to their lies.
Us poor folks haven't got a chance
Unless we organize !


Stephen King at Awake the State Rally in Sarasota 3.8.11


Lifting the Veil

"Lifting the Veil is the long overdue film that powerfully, definitively, and finally exposes the deadly 21st century hypocrisy of U.S. internal and external policies, even as it imbues the viewer with a sense of urgency and an actualized hope to bring about real systemic change while there is yet time for humanity and this planet. See this film!"

Larry Pinkney
Editorial Board Member & Columnist
The Black Commentator


'America Is NOT Broke': Michael Moore Speaks in Madison, WI -- March 5, 2011

Answer to Michael Moore: We ain't Gonna Play the Game No More!
By Bonnie Weinstein

The problem with Michael Moore's speech in Wisconsin March 5, 2011 is that the 14 Democratic emigres have already given away the economic security of the workers--their pay; their benefits; their vacations; their sick-days; their overtime. They have even convinced organized labor to accept the pay cuts, shorter hours--anything but unemployment, starvation and homelessness!

What noble choices the good Democrats have given to the masses of struggling working people in Wisconsin and everywhere!

In the prelude to his speech, Moore lauds those "heroic 14 Democratic" émigrés that have already given away the workers hard-won benefits and conditions for holding firm and staying away--"not one has come back!" he cheers.

Where are the rest of the Democratic politicians around the country? Where's Obama when masses of workers are being sold down the river? What about all the Democratic governors and mayors who are doing the same thing in their respective states and cities across the country. There isn't one state or city that's lavishing more on social services; on schools; on community medical centers; on healthcare--everyone everywhere EXCEPT THE TOP ONE PERCENT is being asked to give back and give up and surrender to the new middle ages--with the Democrats pretending and promising to steal a little less from workers than the Republicans! Workers can't depend upon any party that claims to represent both workers and the bosses. The jig is up!

Working people need to make democratic decisions based upon our own needs and wants and what is good for us and our families; like whether to spend trillions of OUR dollars on wars based upon lies; or on massive bailouts to corporations who have stolen and hoarded the wealth for themselves; or whether to use the fruits of our labor to pay for healthcare; schools; housing; all the things people need to live healthy, free and happy lives.

Working people produce the wealth; working people should have democratic control over that wealth and the means of production they operate to produce it.

The game of voting for one capitalist liar over another is over. It's like plea-bargaining when you are innocent. It's a lose/lose situation and certainly, the workers of the world are losing the game!

No, America is not broke. But telling workers to depend upon the capitalist electoral process, which only allows workers to vote for one capitalist representative over another, is preposterous and makes workers broke!

We workers must take that wealth that we, and we alone create, into our own hands. We can. We are the majority. And it's the only hope for creating a happy and healthy future for all of us, our children and the world. As Rosa Luxemburg said, the only choice for workers is Socialism; or else, we will continue the plunge into Barbarism!


Michael Moore: People Still Have the Power

More GRITtv

"This is a movement that is not going to stop," says filmmaker Michael Moore of the uprising in Madison, Wisconsin (and across the country--all 50 states held solidarity rallies this weekend). "I knew sooner or later people would say they've had enough."

Michael joins Laura in studio for part one of a two-part conversation about the war on working people in America. He notes that it started in 1981 with Reagan's attack on the air traffic controllers, and it's mostly targeted the poor, as with Clinton's welfare reform. But the attacks on middle class families have finally reached a point where people aren't going to take it anymore.

Watch out for part two tomorrow!


BP Oil Spill Scientist Bob Naman: Seafood Still Not Safe


Exclusive: Flow Rate Scientist : How Much Oil Is Really Out There?


Labor Beat: No Concessions Emergency Meeting


Iraq Veterans Against the War in Occupied Capitol, Madison, WI


A joke:

A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are
sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a
dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies,
looks at the tea partier and says,"watch out for that union guy, he
wants a piece of your cookie."

Marc Luzietti


Charlie Sheen on 9/11


18th dead baby dolphin washes ashore in Northern Gulf


[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


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


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


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




The Arab Revolutions:
Guiding Principles for Peace and Justice Organizations in the US
Please email endorsement to

We, the undersigned, support the guiding principles and demands listed in this statement. We call on groups who want to express solidarity with the Arab revolutions to join our growing movement by signing this statement or keeping with the demands put forward herewith.


The long-awaited Arab revolution has come. Like a geologic event with the reverberations of an earthquake, the timing and circumstances were unpredictable. In one Arab country after another, people are taking to the street demanding the fall of monarchies established during European colonial times. They are also calling to bring down dictatorships supported and manifested by neo-colonial policies. Although some of these autocratic regimes rose to power with popular support, the subsequent division and subjugation of the Arab World led to a uniform repressive political order across the region. The Arab masses in different Arab countries are therefore raising a uniform demand: "The People Want to Topple the Regimes!"

For the past two decades, the Arab people witnessed the invasion and occupation of Iraq with millions killed under blockade and occupation, Palestinians massacred with the aim to crush the anti-Zionist resistance, and Lebanon repeatedly invaded with the purposeful targeting of civilians. These actions all served to crush resistance movements longing for freedom, development, and self-determination. Meanwhile, despotic dictatorships, some going back 50 years, entrenched themselves by building police states, or fighting wars on behalf of imperialist interests.

Most Arab regimes systematically destroyed the social fabric of civil society, stifled social development, repressed all forms of political dissent and democratic expression, mortgaged their countries' wealth to foreign interests and enriched themselves and their cronies at the expense of impoverishing their populations. After pushing the Arab people to the brink, populations erupted.

The spark began in Tunisia where a police officer slapped and spat on Mohammad Bou Azizi, flipping over his produce cart for not delivering a bribe on time. . Unable to have his complaint heard, he self-immolated in protest, igniting the conscience of the Tunisian people and that of 300 million Arabs. In less than a month, the dictator, Zine El Abedine Ben Ali, was forced into exile by a Tunisian revolution. On its way out, the regime sealed its legacy by shooting at unarmed protestors and burning detention centers filled with political prisoners. Ben Ali was supported by the US and Europe in the fight against Islamic forces and organized labor.

Hosni Mubarak's brutal dictatorship fell less than a month after Tunisia's. The revolution erupted at a time when one half of the Egyptian population was living on less than $2/day while Mubarak's family amassed billions of dollars. The largest population recorded in Egyptian history was living in graveyards and raising their children among the dead while transportation and residential infrastructure was crumbling. Natural gas was supplied to Israel at 15% of the market price while the Rafah border was closed with an underground steel wall to complete the suffocation of the Palestinians in Gaza. Those who were deemed a threat swiftly met the fate of Khalid Said. 350 martyrs fell and 2,000 people were injured.

After Egypt and Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan exploded in protest. Some governments quickly reshuffled faces and ranks without any tangible change. Some, like Bahrain and Yemen, sent out their security forces to massacre civilians. Oman and Yemen represent strategic assets for the US as they are situated on the straits of Hormuz and Aden, respectively. Bahrain is an oil country that hosts a US military base, situated in the Persian Gulf. A new round of US funded blood-letting of Arab civilians has begun!

Libyan dictator Qaddafi did not prove to be an exception. He historically took anti-imperialist positions for a united Arab World and worked for an African Union. He later transformed his regime to a subservient state and opened Libya to British Petroleum and Italian interests, working diligently on privatization and political repression. He amassed more wealth than that of Mubarak. In the face of the Libyan revolution, Qaddafi exceeded the brutality of Ben Ali and Mubarak blind-folding and executing opponents, surrounding cities with tanks, and bombing his own country. Death toll is expected to be in the thousands.

Qaddafi's history makes Libya an easy target for imperialist interests. The Obama administration followed the Iraq cookbook by freezing Libyan assets amounting to 30% of the annual GDP. The White House, with the help of European governments, rapidly implemented sanctions and called for no-fly zones. These positions were precipitated shortly after the US vetoed a resolution condemning the illegal Israeli colonization of the West Bank. Special operations personnel from the UK were captured by the revolutionary commanders in Ben Ghazi and sent back. The Libyan revolutionary leadership, the National Council clearly stated: "We are completely against foreign intervention. The rest of Libya will be liberated by the people ... and Gaddafi's security forces will be eliminated by the people of Libya."

Demands of the Solidarity Movement with Arab Revolutions

1. We demand a stop to US support, financing and trade with Arab dictatorships. We oppose US policy that has favored Israeli expansionism, war, US oil interest and strategic shipping routes at the expense of Arab people's freedom and dignified living.

2. We support the people of Tunisia and Egypt as well as soon-to-be liberated nations to rid themselves of lingering remnants of the deposed dictatorships.

3. We support the Arab people's right to sovereignty and self-determination. We demand that the US government stop its interference in the internal affairs of all Arab countries and end subsidies to wars and occupation.

4. We support the Arab people's demands for political, civil and economic rights. The Arab people's movement is calling for:

a. Deposing the unelected regimes and all of its institutional remnants
b. Constitutional reform guaranteeing freedom of organizing, speech and press
c. Free and fair elections
d. Independent judiciary
e. National self-determination.

5. We oppose all forms of US and European military intervention with or without the legitimacy of the UN. Standing in solidarity with the revolution against Qaddafi, or any other dictator, does not equate to supporting direct or indirect colonization of an Arab country, its oil or its people. We therefore call for:

a. Absolute rejection of military blockades, no-fly zones and interventions.
b. Lifting all economic sanctions placed against Libya and allowing for the formation of an independent judiciary to prosecute Qaddafi and deposed dictators for their crimes.
c. Immediately withdrawing the US and NATO troops from the Arab region.

6. We support Iraq's right to sovereignty and self determination and call on the US to immediately withdraw all occupation personnel from Iraq.

7. We recognize that the borders separating Arab nations were imposed on the Arab people by the colonial agreements of Sykes-Picot and the Berlin Conference on Africa. As such, we support the anti-Zionist nature of this revolution in its call for:

a. Ending the siege and starvation of the Palestinian people in Gaza
b. Supporting the right of the Palestinian people to choose their own representation, independent of Israeli and US dictates
c. Supporting the right of the Lebanese people to defend their country from Israeli violations and their call to end vestiges of the colonial constitution constructed on the basis of sectarian representation
d. Supporting the right of the Jordanian people to rid themselves of their repressive monarchy
e. Ending all US aid to Israel.


Committee to Stop FBI Repression
to Fitzgerald, Holder and Obama

The Grand Jury is still on its witch hunt and the FBI is still
harassing activists. This must stop.
Please make these calls:
1. Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300 . Then dial 0
(zero) for operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk.
2. Call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder 202-353-1555
3. Call President Obama at 202-456-1111

Suggested text: "My name is __________, I am from _______(city), in
______(state). I am calling _____ to demand he call off the Grand Jury
and stop FBI repression against the anti-war and Palestine solidarity
movements. I oppose U.S. government political repression and support
the right to free speech and the right to assembly of the 23 activists
subpoenaed. We will not be criminalized. Tell him to stop this
McCarthy-type witch hunt against international solidarity activists!"

If your call doesn't go through, try again later.

Update: 800 anti-war and international solidarity activists
participated in four regional conferences, in Chicago, IL; Oakland,
CA; Chapel Hill, NC and New York City to stop U.S. Attorney Patrick
Fitzgerald's Grand Jury repression.

Still, in the last few weeks, the FBI has continued to call and harass
anti-war organizers, repressing free speech and the right to organize.
However, all of their intimidation tactics are bringing a movement
closer together to stop war and demand peace.

We demand:
-- Call Off the Grand Jury Witch-hunt Against International Solidarity
-- Support Free Speech!
-- Support the Right to Organize!
-- Stop FBI Repression!
-- International Solidarity Is Not a Crime!
-- Stop the Criminalization of Arab and Muslim Communities!

Background: Fitzgerald ordered FBI raids on anti-war and solidarity
activists' homes and subpoenaed fourteen activists in Chicago,
Minneapolis, and Michigan on September 24, 2010. All 14 refused to
speak before the Grand Jury in October. Then, 9 more Palestine
solidarity activists, most Arab-Americans, were subpoenaed to appear
at the Grand Jury on January 25, 2011, launching renewed protests.
There are now 23 who assert their right to not participate in
Fitzgerald's witch-hunt.

The Grand Jury is a secret and closed inquisition, with no judge, and
no press. The U.S. Attorney controls the entire proceedings and hand
picks the jurors, and the solidarity activists are not allowed a
lawyer. Even the date when the Grand Jury ends is a secret.

So please make these calls to those in charge of the repression aimed
against anti-war leaders and the growing Palestine solidarity
Email us to let us know your results. Send to

**Please sign and circulate our 2011 petition at

In Struggle,
Tom Burke,
for the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

FFI: Visit or email or call
612-379-3585 .
Copyright (c) 2011 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights

Our mailing address is:
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
PO Box 14183
Minneapolis, MN 55415


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):


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!


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!


D. ARTICLES IN FULL (Unless otherwise noted)


1) Early Questions After Japan
New York Times Editorial
[Sorry, this quick fix is not good enough--SHUT THEM DOWN...BW]
March 17, 2011

2) Amid Uncertainty, Aristide Returns to Cheers in Haiti
March 18, 2011

3) Bullets Stall Youthful Push for Arab Spring
March 17, 2011

4) Complaints of Abuse in Army Custody
March 17, 2011

5) Crisis Prompts Exodus of Executives From Tokyo
March 17, 2011

6) C.I.A. Drones Kill Civilians in Pakistan
March 17, 2011

7) Report Finds Wide Abuses by Police in New Orleans
March 17, 2011

8) ACTION ALERT: Four Things YOU Can Do About Malalai Joya's Visa Denial
March 18, 2011

9) Obama Warns Libya on Allied Action
March 18, 2011

10) Libyan revolution and imperialist meddling
"Here we saw the spectacle of the direct representatives of Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama agreeing to intervene in Libya, the same people who at home are cutting pensions, attacking the right to free public education, cutting back on welfare in general, while at the same time defending the interests of their own capitalists. These same people have no qualms in sending the police against protesting workers and youth in their own countries, while at the same time shamefacedly decrying the lack of democratic rights in other countries."
Written by Fred Weston
Friday, March 18, 2011

11) Escape From New York
March 18, 2011

12) A Price Too High?
March 18, 2011

13) France Sends Military Flights Over Libya
March 19, 2011

14) Egyptians Vote on Constitutional Changes
March 18, 2011

15) Japan Confirms High Radiation in Spinach and Milk Near Nuclear Plant
March 19, 2011

16) Trade Unions in City Confront a Rise in Nonunion Projects
March 18, 2011

17) Another Role for Buses in Civil Rights History
March 18, 2011

18) Radiation Plume Reaches U.S., but Is Said to Pose No Risk
March 18, 2011

19) Japan Crisis Could Rekindle U.S. Antinuclear Movement
March 18, 2011


1) Early Questions After Japan
New York Times Editorial
[Sorry, this quick fix is not good enough--SHUT THEM DOWN...BW]
March 17, 2011

As Japan's nuclear crisis unfolds, nations around the world are looking at the safety of their nuclear reactors - as they should. But most are also waiting until all the facts are in before deciding whether or how to change their nuclear plans. The Obama administration has vowed to learn from the Japanese experience and incorporate new safety approaches if needed.

That makes sense to us - so long as there is rigorous follow-through. The operator of the stricken plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, and the Japanese government have been disturbingly opaque about what is happening at the Fukushima Daiichi complex and about efforts to prevent a meltdown and the potential public threat.

That has deepened anxieties in Japan and around the world and led the United States government to take the extraordinary step of announcing that the damage to at least one of the crippled reactors may be far worse than Tokyo had admitted - and urging Americans there to move further away from the official safety perimeter.

Still, enough is known to begin raising questions about our own nuclear operations. We hope regulators and industry leaders are equally forthcoming about this country's vulnerabilities and challenges.

One of the first questions is whether current evacuation plans are robust enough. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires plant operators to alert the public within a 10-mile radius if a dangerous plume of radioactivity will be heading their way, and local officials decide whether to order an evacuation. The American Embassy in Japan, based on advice from Washington regulators, has told Americans there to evacuate to a radius of about 50 miles from the Fukushima plant.

Why wouldn't a worst-case accident here merit the same caution? The difficulty, of course, is that some plants - including Indian Point north of New York City - are within 50 miles of millions of people. Regulators will need to clarify this discrepancy or start coming up with more ambitious evacuation plans.

Regulators need to immediately review their safety analyses of two California plants, which, like the Fukushima plant, are located on the coast and near geological faults and might theoretically face the double calamity of an earthquake and tsunami.

The type of reactors used at the Fukushima plant - made by the General Electric Company, they are known as Mark 1 boiling-water reactors - have long been known to have weak containment systems. In Japan, they appear to have been ruptured by explosions of escaping hydrogen. American regulators will need to determine whether similar reactors in this country are vulnerable and whether modifications in newer versions have made them sufficiently safe.

The stricken Japanese complex housed six reactors in close proximity; explosions, fires and radiation spread damage among four of them and has made rescue efforts harder. Regulators will need to look at whether American nuclear plants with multiple reactors are vulnerable to the same cascading effects. In recent days, a new danger has emerged in the spent fuel pools adjacent to the reactors. At least one has apparently lost its cooling water and another is cracked and possibly losing water. If the fuel catches fire, it could spew radiation over a large area. Regulators here may need to expedite the removal of some spent fuel from pools to dry storage in casks.

So far, the all-important lesson would seem to be: have sufficient emergency power at hand to keep cooling water circulating in the reactors to prevent a meltdown.

The Japanese reactors seem to have survived one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded without major structural damage. The crisis developed because the plant lost electrical power from the grid and the tsunami knocked out its backup diesel generators. American regulators must ensure that all nuclear plants have enough mobile generators or other backup power in place if their first two lines of defense are disabled.


2) Amid Uncertainty, Aristide Returns to Cheers in Haiti
March 18, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the former priest who rose to become the nation's first democratically elected president before being forced into exile twice, returned home to an uncertain political climate on Friday, only days before a presidential runoff intended to settle months of discord in this rattled nation.

A big cheer rose up from the Haitian journalists and supporters lined up behind a rope 200 yards from his plane as Mr. Aristide - who left Haiti in 2004 under strong American pressure as rebels closed in on the capital - landed at about 9:05 a.m. local time and stepped back onto Haitian soil.

Some held posters of Mr. Aristide and others clutched small Haitian flags. Throughout the capital, Port-au-Prince, the streets were quiet early Friday, but by late morning a throng of several hundred supporters had gathered outside the airport as word spread that he had come back after seven years in exile.

Standing at a lectern in the shade of a veranda, Mr. Aristide spoke for 20 minutes, mostly in Creole. He did not comment directly on the candidates in the presidential runoff on Sunday, but he criticized the electoral process, denouncing the exclusion of political parties, including his own, Fanmi Lavalas, which officials barred from the first round of voting last year for what was described as paperwork problems.

"The exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas is the exclusion of the Haitian people," he said in Creole. In English, he added: "In 1804, the Haitian revolution marked the end of slavery. Today, may the Haitian people end exiles and coup d'états, while peacefully moving from social exclusion to inclusion."

He left in a dark S.U.V. along with a caravan of cars, marchers following him into the streets and chanting "We don't have a candidate, so we are not going to the election."

The roads soon became blocked with supporters, some grabbing tree branches to wave - a custom here - in lieu of flags and placards. A carnival float pounded out a thumping beat, with "Welcome Home President Aristide" painted on it side and supporters dancing as they marched to his house.

Once they got there, several hundred people sang amid the blare of music around his home, some climbing over the front wall to get in and others clinging to trees. When the thick crowd finally parted enough for him to get out of the car and enter the house, a roar went up and people crammed onto his patio, craning their necks to see him through the windows.

With Haitian elections fragile affairs in normal times, it remained unclear what effect Mr. Aristide, a polarizing figure beloved by the poor but dismissed by others as corrupt and autocratic, might yield on the country. He has said he is coming back just to work on his educational foundation, but Western diplomats working to keep him out of the country were skeptical given the timing of his return.

"Aristide represents the voice of the poor people here," said Wadson Pierre, 19, a supporter outside the airport. "We feel comfortable when he is here."

Mr. Pierre said he still planned to vote in the runoff on Sunday, even though Mr. Aristide is not on the ballot. The election is the product of months of political wrangling and international intervention after the fraud and violent protests that accompanied the first round last year. But as the marchers' chant indicated, some Aristide supporters said they would take no part in it.

"Since he left, things are difficult for us; I hope his return can change the poor situation here," said James Fenelon, 25, who is unemployed. "I am not going to vote. I have one leader. It's Aristide."

Mr. Aristide is the second major figure in Haitian history to return in recent months: Jean-Claude Duvalier, the former dictator known as Baby Doc, suddenly returned from exile in January and is living quietly here while courts iron out pending human rights and corruption charges related to his government.

With the former archrivals on Haitian soil and the country still reeling from the political crisis it hoped to dispel with a peaceful election, the prospect of Mr. Aristide's return generated furious diplomatic negotiation, with the United States pressing for a delay in his arrival until after the election.

President Obama telephoned President Jacob Zuma of South Africa to prevent Mr. Aristide from leaving his adopted home there , but to no avail. On Thursday night, South Africa's minster of international relations and cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, joined Mr. Aristide at the airport and wished him "a safe and happy landing" before his plane took off for Haiti.

President Obama reiterated his concerns through a spokesman on Thursday before Mr. Aristide began his journey home.

"The United States, along with others in the international community, has deep concerns that President Aristide's return to Haiti in the closing days of the election could be destabilizing," Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the United States National Security Council, said Thursday.

South African officials, who oversaw Mr. Aristide's residence and security, said they ultimately had no cause to hold him. But the South African government remained close-mouthed about the details of Mr. Aristide's departure right up to the last minute; some members of the Aristide delegation, which included the actor Danny Glover, said they were uncertain about when or if the flight would leave.

The Haitian government issued Mr. Aristide a diplomatic passport weeks ago and said there was no reason he could not come back. Mr. Aristide's supporters have spruced up his former residence and banners declaring "Welcome Back President Titide," using his nickname, have sprung up around here. Mildred Aristide, his wife, said she did not even know if the home was still furnished. "I hope there is a bed," she said before leaving.

Both candidates in the runoff, Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady, and Michel Martelly, one of the country's most popular singers, have derided Mr. Aristide in the past.

But, in a sign of his continuing support here, particularly among the poor, they have both sought to neutralize their past opposition.

Ms. Manigat has said he could play a role in her government as an education adviser. A banner, evidently put up by Ms. Manigat's backers, hangs near the airport, declaring, "You have your mother, now your father is coming."

Mr. Martelly, who has vulgarly dismissed Mr. Aristide in song, now says he has the right to return.

Kenneth H. Merten, the American ambassador here, said of Mr. Aristide's return, "He gets to choose whether he will play a positive role here, and I hope that's his choice."

Mr. Aristide helped lead a popular revolt that ended the Duvalier family's nearly 30-year dictatorship. He became president in Haiti's first democratic elections in 1990, was soon ousted in a coup in 1991 but then returned to power in 1994 after the United States military forced out the military regime.

Mr. Aristide was re-elected in 2000 in an election boycotted by the major opposition parties, and while he inspired great loyalty among the poor he was criticized by many for corruption, an autocratic style of leadership and the violent suppression of political opponents.

Amid an armed uprising, led in part by former members of the Haitian Army that Mr. Aristide had disbanded, he left Haiti on Feb. 29, 2004. He has said American diplomats kidnapped him, but the United States has long denied the accusation.


3) Bullets Stall Youthful Push for Arab Spring
March 17, 2011

MANAMA, Bahrain - These days, Muhammad al-Maskati is a prisoner in his apartment, his BlackBerry shut off by the government, the streets outside his apartment filled with tanks, the hospitals around town packed with the wounded.

Mr. Maskati is a 24-year-old human rights activist who not long ago felt so close to achieving Egypt's kind of peaceful revolution, through a dogged commitment to nonviolence. Then the Saudi tanks rolled into Bahrain, and protesters came under attack, the full might of the state hammering at unarmed civilians.

"We thought it would work," Mr. Maskati said, his voice soft with depression, yet edged with anger. "But now, the aggression is too much. Now it's not about the protest anymore, it's about self-defense."

The Arab Spring is not necessarily over, but it has run up against dictators willing to use lethal force to preserve their power. The youth-led momentum for change stalled first in Libya, where Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi unleashed troops on his people, and then in Bahrain, where King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa enlisted Saudi Arabia's help to crush demonstrations.

Bahrain's protests were part of a transformation sweeping the Middle East, propelled by young people free of the fear that held back their parents.

At first, they seemed an unstoppable force, driven by the power of demographics - about 60 percent of the population across the Arab world is under the age of 30. They started to reshape societies where the young defer to the old, toppling old hierarchies along with governments.

The movement is still forcing change in places like Morocco and Jordan, guiding transitions in Egypt and Tunisia, and playing out in countries like Algeria and Yemen. Young people remain out front, wielding the online tools they grew up with to mobilize protests, elude surveillance and cross class lines.

This generation's access to a life without borders through the Internet and pan-Arab television networks like Al Jazeera exposed them to other societies, fueling anger at the repressive politics and economic stagnation that deprived the region's youth of opportunity and freedom.

It was long anticipated that young people would emerge as a powerful force because the median age across the Middle East is just 26. But what surprised many was the absence of religious discourse - and the embrace of pluralism - from a generation that was more observant than its parents and often sought solace from despotic rulers and blighted lives in an embrace of Islam.

This generation rejected traditional opposition leaders, like the toothless political parties that served dictators by providing a veneer of democratic legitimacy, or the Muslim Brotherhood, which many came to see as having been co-opted by the status quo.

Young people interviewed across the region echoed the same ideas, tactics and motivations that set off revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. In Morocco and Jordan, monarchs have already offered concessions, fueling excitement and hope. It is a force driven by young men like Tarek al-Naimat, 26, of Jordan, who joined Facebook a few weeks ago, saying that it was a more powerful tool than the Muslim Brotherhood.

And Oussama el-Khlifi, 23, who left the Socialist Union of Popular Forces in Morocco to found a nonideological movement - initially organized on Facebook - that has already rallied unmatched numbers in the streets of Morocco and pressed the king to announce plans to modify the Constitution.

"We saw change would not happen through the parties, it would happen through the people," Mr. Khlifi said. "We created a Facebook group called Moroccans Discuss the King, and in four or five days we had 3,000 members."

The early victories in Tunisia and Egypt emboldened them. "I grew up in a world where we believed we could not do anything," said Mariam Abu Adas, 32, an online activist in Jordan who helped create a company called Hiber to train young people to use social media.

"Generations believed we could do nothing," she said, "and now, in a matter of weeks, we know that we can."

It is a new model for the Middle East, not only because the young people are taking the lead, but because their elders have started to listen and follow.

"The youth, we were afraid of, but we have come to see the youth are moving the region," said Mustafa Rawashdeh, a former headmaster at a school in Karak, Jordan, who was fired after trying to form a teachers' union. "Young people saw the winds of change and drove us."

And then Colonel Qaddafi's forces opened fire, followed by King Hamad's crackdown. The young activists' idealism has been challenged by the bitter reality of repression, leaving them dispirited but resolute.

It is a sobering pause, as Bahrainis tend their wounded and Libya's opposition flees from the advance of pro-Qaddafi forces. The future of the Arab Spring is at stake.

"I don't believe the peaceful protests will go on," Mr. Maskati said. "Now, it's about resisting the aggression."


The women at Ammon News stood firm when the Jordanian authorities told them to take down a daring post critical of the monarchy and, in particular, Queen Rania - a taboo in a nation where criticizing the royal family is a crime punishable by three years in prison. The authorities promptly hijacked the Web site, and the staff's editor told them to give up and go home. Instead, the women took to the streets in protest, and the authorities backed down.

"It was the principle," said Ala Alyan, 22. "Liberty is very important."

The incident hardly registered beyond the borders of Jordan, a close American ally. But it illustrates the contagion of a movement determined not to allow its governments to treat its citizens as subjects.

Jordan's King Abdullah II is not facing the kind of popular revolt that forced out the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia. But there have been demonstrations that prompted the king to fire the cabinet, appoint a new government and promise constitutional change. The open question, as in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, is how far change will go, and whether young people will be satisfied.

"If you feel you have right on your side, you do not have fear," said Heba Alazari, 26, one of the Ammon News women who protested. "If an injustice happened before, no one knew about it. Now you can deliver your voice in a different way and everyone will know."

In the Jordanian countryside, the cyberworld and the real world intersect. The staff of Hiber, the social media training and blogging organization, recently visited the village of Tafilah, two hours south of the capital, Amman. It is a small, dry outpost of cinder-block and white-stone homes on rocky soil, with a traffic circle, a few shops and lot of young people. Every woman on the street was veiled, and fathers sternly police their daughters.

About 35 young people in the workshop run by Hiber, more than half of them women, were eager to learn more. "The people in Egypt, who used these tools, woke up after 30 years," said Rasha Garabaa, 25, who wore a bright red head scarf and heavy makeup.

Ramsey Tesdell, 27, who was leading the discussion, said that social media allowed young women in the village to bypass the men - fathers, brothers, husbands - who circumscribed their worlds and their ability to communicate. They cannot go to the park unaccompanied and meet friends, but they can join a chat room or send instant messages.

"In a lot of ways, it has taken the power away from the traditional powerful leaders, especially older men," Mr. Tesdell said.

Ms. Garabaa understood, and marveled at the changes. "Remember how they closed Ammon the other day," she said, almost in a whisper, to one of the other members of the group. "Think how much the Internet can empower you. You have the world at the tip of your fingers."


The secret password was tsk-tsk-tsk, and the door opened into the Feb. 20th movement.

Inside a run-down apartment at the top of narrow darkened staircase, Montasser Drissi, 19, was listening to traditional Moroccan music and working on subtitles for a protest video. He was one of the young men who helped organize nationwide protests on Feb. 20 that drew tens of thousands of demonstrators in a show of opposition that has already begun to change Morocco's political landscape.

"Our goal is a new constitution that serves the people, not the elite," said Mr. Drissi, a slight, understated young man with a dab of a beard.

The Feb. 20th movement is the loosely knit Moroccan manifestation of the youth fever sweeping the region. Its members met on Facebook and decided that like their peers in Egypt and Tunisia, they wanted to fight for change. Their goal was not to oust the monarchy, but to reduce its near absolute authority and strengthen elected institutions.

"We are young, we study, we have jobs - we're normal," said Yassine Falah, 23, who recently quit his job selling insurance and moved from Fez to Rabat to dedicate his time to the movement. "We tried hard to not politicize the thing, we used Facebook, we came together and that's how it started. Our spontaneity is our strength."

The government was concerned from the start. It tried to blunt the movement's impact, first by trying to demonize its young leaders as enemies of the state, and then, when that failed, taking the creative approach of announcing that the demonstration was canceled. But that did not work either. Instead, traditional opposition parties that initially shunned the upstart movement jumped in, trying to ride the wave churned up by the young.

King Mohammed VI apparently got the message and in a rare nationally televised speech announced that he intended to meet some of the group's core demands - without ever actually acknowledging that the group existed.

The group helped break down barriers to join secular leftists with conservative Islamists in the fight for democracy. "In Morocco, there has always been a war between the left and the Islamists, and the state wants it that way," said Younes Belghazi, 20, as he flopped onto a mattress on the floor. "When the state saw we had agreed on basic things, like values, change, democracy, they just didn't know what to do."

Over in the corner, in what passes for the group's video studio - a white sheet taped to the tile wall and a camera on a tripod - Mr. Drissi's new friend and collaborator, Nizar Bennamate, 23, was discussing how the movement planned another national protest on March 20. The challenge was to maintain momentum, difficult for a leaderless organization whose members often could not agree on when to meet, or even exactly what it was they were fighting for.

"The demands we talk about are the lowest common denominator, the first stage," Mr. Bennamate said. "Once we get these demands, we will be at an early stage of democracy where different ideas can confront each other."

The group's secret headquarters was discovered recently by the police, who have also visited the homes of some of the organizers in an attempt at intimidation. But that also seems to be a sign of their power and success.

"I am an activist because I want change," said Mr. Khlifi, an unemployed high school graduate who has become one of the leading voices in the movement. "I want a political dialogue. I want to criticize. I want democracy. I want the people to have power."


Mr. Maskati struggled to force out each painful word: "They. Shot. The. People." Bahrain's army had just opened fire on demonstrators and he was trying to type out "Urgent from Bahrain" on his BlackBerry and post a video link of the attack to Twitter, Facebook and the extensive e-mail list of his human rights organization.

For years, Mr. Maskati was dismissed as naïve for trying to convince people that peaceful protests would be more effective than violence. And then, suddenly, the protesters so embraced his view that a group walked into an army roadblock, hands in the air, chanting "peacefully, peacefully."

Nearly a month ago, the army opened fire, killing a young man after six were killed by the police. But the protesters clung to nonviolence, taking to the streets in remarkably large numbers, confident that international attention would force the government to stop shooting. The government did back down, offer concessions, release political prisoners, call for a national dialogue and shuffle the cabinet.

Mr. Maskati marveled at the radical change in approach after years of watching young people throw rocks and burn tires in the street, to no avail.

He founded the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, a small monitoring and training organization that is one part of a youth-led movement that has posed the most serious challenge to the monarchy since the Khalifa family took power in the 18th century. Mr. Maskati's main weapons are his phone and his BlackBerry. He does not organize protests and he does not protest himself. He sees his role as informing the world through Facebook, Twitter and his extensive e-mail list.

From Feb. 14, the start of the demonstrations, Mr. Maskati was always on the scene, dodging the police, hovering at the periphery, posting updates to the Internet. He was one of the first to notify the world that the police had shot and killed a 21-year-old man. "Mr. Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima was killed by the riot police in Daih village.( 8:00 PM, 14 FEB. 2011 )," his message said. "Ali was not involved in the demonstration, but went out of his house to see what happens in his village."

The death galvanized the community of mainly Shiite protesters, and they turned out by the thousands for the funeral. At the cemetery, mourners did more than fume. They had a laptop computer and a wireless airstick, and as the young man's body was lowered into the ground, the image was immediately uploaded to the Internet.

"They did a big mistake," said Hussein Ramadan, 32, a manager in the local aluminum plant, as he stood at the edge of the grave. "They will pay for it, peacefully. We are not thinking about any violence. People are angry. But we can control our anger. We tried violence before, now we try the other way. We are ready to give our blood. It is our country."

Mr. Maskati is from a wealthy Shiite family, part of the Shiite majority in Bahrain that has smoldered under a repressive Sunni monarchy. He became interested in human rights work when he was 14, but he said he found his calling in 2006 after attending a training course in Jordan with Otpor, a Serbian youth movement that also inspired the Egyptian activists, and then in Washington with the Center for Nonviolence.

The next year, he founded his own group. He continues to monitor the events in Bahrain and post his observations each day. Last week, Mr. Maskati and two other human rights activists received death threats because of their work. But Mr. Maskati was undeterred and instead sent word of the death threats out on Twitter, Facebook and e-mail and to every blogger he knew.

Then the tanks rolled in, and on Thursday the police began rounding up opposition leaders. Mr. Maskati kept sending messages until Wednesday morning, when his phone number was shut off. He stayed home, using his computer, issuing updates always titled "Urgent from Bahrain."

Nadim Audi contributed reporting.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 18, 2011

An earlier version of this article ncorrectly referred to Mariam Abu Adas, an online activist in Jordan, as a man. Ms. Adas is a woman.


4) Complaints of Abuse in Army Custody
March 17, 2011

CAIRO, Egypt - Ragy el-Kashef was relieved when Egypt's military took power last month and pledged to steer the country from dictatorship to democracy. But after he spent four days in army custody, during which he says he was arrested, tortured and hastily tried before a military judge, anxiety and dread now cloud his hope for the future.

Mr. Kashef, 24, was detained by the military police on March 9, when soldiers and armed men in plainclothes known as baltageyya ("thugs") violently broke up a small protest camp in Tahrir Square.

Soldiers brought him and his brother Raif to an entrance of the nearby Egyptian Museum. For six hours, Mr. Kashef said, soldiers beat, whipped and electrically stunned them and scores of other blindfolded prisoners as they lay face down on the pavement. The prisoners were later taken to a military base, and Mr. Kashef said the people in his group were stripped and beaten. Eventually, he said, he was given a military trial that lasted just 30 minutes.

"I was happy when the army took over," he said. "I felt safe with the army because I thought they were responsible. Now I hate the army."

When the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took over as the transitional government after the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, it was greeted by many protesters as a protector of the revolution, whose demands for democracy it vowed to uphold. But since then, allegations of torture and the prosecution of civilians in closed-door military trials have tarnished its reputation and raised questions about its commitment to democratic rule.

The military, said Heba Morayef, a researcher on Egypt for Human Rights Watch, is routinely abusing human rights by "arbitrarily arresting people and then subjecting those it has arbitrarily arrested to military trials." She said this was "not indicative of a shift to the rule of law."

Ms. Morayef said the organization had received more and more "serious reports" of military torture in recent weeks, with a surge of new cases after March 9, the day 190 protesters, including Mr. Kashef and his brother, were arrested. The protesters had remained in Tahrir Square to press for a number of demands of the revolution that had not been fulfilled.

Ragia Omrane, a lawyer with the Front for the Defense of Egyptian Protesters, said the detainees were beaten and subjected to electric shocks, and later tried behind closed doors, in proceedings that sometimes lasted only 10 minutes. She said one of the detainees was 15 years old. Ultimately, 148 of the detainees were convicted and are serving sentences in military prisons.

The crimes they are charged with range from obstructing traffic to possession of explosives, Ms. Omrane said. She added that lawyers had not been given access to either the detainees or their trials, nor had they been informed of the specific convictions or sentences of individual detainees, although military judges told Ms. Omrane that sentences ranged from one to seven years.

Since then, 37 more people have been arrested after being taken into custody either on the streets of downtown Cairo or at an antitorture protest held outside the museum on March 16, Ms. Omrane said. Eleven of them have been sent to appear before military prosecutors, she said.

The chief of the military police, Maj. Gen. Hamdi Bedeen, denied that the army was engaging in torture or using the museum as a detention center. In an interview published on Thursday by Egypt's El Sherouk newspaper, he called the accusations "totally false" and said the testimony about torture was "fabricated."

"Not one complaint has reached me until now," General Bedeen said.

Under the harsh, autocratic regime of Mr. Mubarak torture by the police was "routine and systemic," according to Human Rights Watch.

The military does not make public information about detentions and military prosecutions, Ms. Morayef said. Former prisoners and the family of one detained man said that three detainees died in army custody on Saturday, while as many as 150 others began a hunger strike against the ill treatment on Monday. Neither reporters nor lawyers can verify those claims.

Human-rights activists have expressed concern about the apparent cooperation between army and the plainclothes enforcers who attacked the protesters on March 9, because Mr. Mubarak's government regularly deployed them to beat and intimidate people.

People detained that day said in interviews that they were tied up and blindfolded, beaten with metal clubs and whips and repeatedly shocked with electric stun devices.

Rami Essam, a well-known singer, said he had been beaten with clubs and bricks by soldiers who cut his hair. Rasha Azab, a journalist, said she had been beaten while handcuffed to a wall around a manicured museum garden.

Sherif Abdel Moneim said he had been beaten inside the grand entrance hall of the main museum building by soldiers who struck him across a scar from cancer surgery. That earlier mark is now crisscrossed by lines that are fresher and redder.

"The soldiers were yelling, 'Raise your head up high, you son of a dog, you're Egyptian!' " Mr. Kashef said. The taunt twists the meaning of a chant from the uprising that overthrew Mr. Mubarak, which encouraged Egyptians to hold their heads high and be proud.

Mr. Kashef said he and his brother were in a group taken to a military prison the day after their arrest. There, they were strip searched, held in a cell and beaten by a soldier who showered them with curses while accusing them of having Facebook accounts.

That night he and 30 others were herded into the base's long rectangular kitchen for their trial. A military judge presided from behind the kitchen table while a pot of stewed potatoes and peas bubbled on the stove behind the accused, he recalled. A military lawyer who did not speak to them served as their defense, and they were fed from the pot before filing back to their cramped cell.

Two days after that episode, Mr. Kashef was told he could go free. All of men tried in the kitchen were found innocent, but inexplicably only Mr. Kashef and a handful of others were let go. Some of the co-defendants, including his brother, remain jailed. "We ask the soldiers and we ask the courts, but no one has a logical answer," he said.

This week, Mr. Kashef, whose body remains bruised, visited Raif in jail with their parents. Walking the halls of the military base, he saw soldiers and officers he recognized and was gripped with fear that they would take him back to his cell. A filmmaker, he passed the room where he and the other detainees were strip searched and said he "saw it like it was a scene in a movie."

He is worried about his brother and what comes next for Egypt.

"I am afraid for the future because maybe the army and the old system and the thugs will work together to kill our revolution," he said.


5) Crisis Prompts Exodus of Executives From Tokyo
March 17, 2011

TOKYO - The crisis at the nuclear power plant 140 miles north of here is leading to a steady but orderly departure of business executives from Tokyo. Foreigners in particular are among those leaving, as concerns grow about the possibility of a catastrophic release of radiation and governments urge their citizens to consider seeking safety elsewhere in Japan or overseas.

Much as in 2003, when the SARS virus slowed business around Asia, a peculiar psychology has taken hold in Tokyo, where businessmen with the wherewithal are weighing whether to decamp to cities south and west of Tokyo - or wait and see whether the nuclear emergency escalates further.

The confusion, in addition to the distraction of relocating employees, is preventing some companies from addressing urgent problems in shattered plants and facilities along the northeastern coast of the main island, Honshu, which was ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami last week.

And the oppressive atmosphere of fear has made concentrating on even routine tasks difficult. Meetings are being canceled, salesmen have given up visiting clients and stores are cutting back hours or closing entirely. Getting a table in even the most popular restaurants has suddenly become easier.

There are no open signs of panic on the streets of Tokyo. But executives from a growing number of banks, law firms, consultants and other businesses have started to rent space in Osaka or Fukuoka or other cities farther from the badly damaged nuclear reactors.

With thousands of Japanese also fleeing the quake-stricken areas in the north, travel on domestic airlines and bullet trains headed away from northern Japan has climbed, and rooms in hotels considered out of harm's way are filling up.

In many cases, the Tokyo evacuees are expatriates, often prompted by their governments' embassies, which have recommended that their citizens seek shelter elsewhere as a precaution. The German government, for instance, advised its citizens in Tokyo and areas north either to leave the country or head to the Osaka area. The United States Embassy said it would help fly American citizens in Japan to safer places. Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Australia are among the other countries whose governments have told their nationals to consider leaving Tokyo and to refrain from traveling to Japan's northeast. France has asked Air France to mobilize extra planes for evacuations.

Two Czech military planes landed in Prague on Thursday morning after evacuating 106 people from Japan, mostly Czechs but also several nationals of Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Korea, the Associated Press reported. Also onboard were 41 members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra that had been touring Japan since March 6, as well as 11 children.

China has already evacuated more than 3,000 nationals from Japan's north coast to Niigata in the west, Xinhua News agency reported.

Japanese authorities have responded to these various moves by urging governments not to sound alarmist. But Japanese companies, too, have started to move some of their employees - or give them the option of working from home. The reaction is partly in response to the reduction in train service in the Tokyo region caused by rolling blackouts that are meant to conserve energy.

The French nuclear power operator Areva is one of many companies moving workers and their families away from areas affected by the disaster or the possible path of radioactive fallout. Eighteen of the firm's 100 employees, including Americans and Germans, left a mission they were on at the Fukishima nuclear plant when the earthquake hit, a spokeswoman said.

Since the weekend, Areva has been relocating the families of expatriate workers who want to leave Tokyo to the Kyushu region in the south, although employees considered most vital to operations have been asked to stay in the city.

Many other companies are responding in one of three ways: giving employees the option of leaving the area; moving some staff to Osaka while maintaining a skeleton staff in Tokyo, or shutting down operations in Tokyo and setting up elsewhere.

The law firm Jones Day, for instance, has shut its Tokyo office except to deal with urgent court filings. Chartis, the Japanese division of A.I.G., has moved some of its managers from Tokyo to its regional command center in Osaka. The bulk of companies, though, are letting workers decide for themselves whether to go or stay.

SAP, the German software giant, which has about 1,000 employees in Tokyo, has instructed all employees to work from home for now. The company has also given them the option of moving to hotel rooms in Kobe or Osaka, at company expense, if they choose, and to take their families with them.

An SAP spokeswoman, Angelika Pfahler, said the company took the measure shortly after the earthquake hit for safety reasons, although company headquarters here did not suffer any serious damage. Because it is a software company, it is possible for SAP to continue to operate almost normally even when workers are at remote locations, she said.

Martin Reilly, 43, an Irish software designer who works for the French insurance giant AXA, said his company had given employees the option to move, while keeping enough people in Tokyo to maintain operations. Though he said he was not fearful, Mr. Reilly was nevertheless taking the precaution of traveling to Osaka.

"I'm taking my work with me, and I can be back in three hours when this is cleared up," Mr. Reilly said at Tokyo Station before boarding a train. "I think the chances of something happening are very small. But my parents are going ballistic. If I don't go, my mother's going to get on a plane and come take me away."

The clothing retailer H&M has temporarily closed its nine stores in the Tokyo region because its employees had difficulty getting to work and were on edge while the nuclear crisis continued, said Mie Anton, a spokeswoman for the company. The planned opening of a store on Saturday has been postponed.

The disruption could provide an extra blow to Japan's economy because so much of the nation's business takes place in the capital, although it is too early to quantify the effect on consumer spending and business investment.

Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo, said some companies were clearly taking the initiative in leaving the city, particularly in the foreign community. But short of an evacuation order, most people will remain in the city because so far, "it's hard to judge just how dangerous it is," he said.

Most Japanese residents, he said, "have nowhere to hide."

The growing number of departures, sometimes with little warning, has in some cases worsened the tensions that often divide local and expatriate staff. The International Bankers Association, which represents foreign financial institutions in Tokyo, said in a statement that its 59 member institutions were operating "business as usual." But privately, spokesmen for major Western banks said that many of their employees had chosen to take vacations now until there was more clarity on the situation.

While economic activity in Tokyo has slowed, business in cities like Osaka has picked up, a welcome development - despite the circumstances - given the sluggish economy.

Shuhei Otsuka, 24, an employee of the railroad operator JR-East at Tokyo Station, compared the number of Japanese riders in the last few days with the New Year's holiday rush or the summer vacation travel peak.

Many of the Japanese travelers were families, or mothers with children, while the number of businessmen traveling was about normal, Mr. Otsuka said. Domestic travel agents said that reservations for flights to the islands of Kyushu and Okinawa surged starting Tuesday.

Bookings at hotels that cater to the well-heeled and to expatriates have picked up as well. Many customers who have arrived this week appeared to have left their homes in a rush, said Matsuko Akesaka, a spokeswoman for the Ritz-Carlton in Osaka. Many guests have booked rooms - which start at 58,000 yen, or $720 - for only a few nights until they decide whether it is safe to return.

"Business is nothing like during the bubble economy, but compared to the last few years, it's picked up" in the last few days, she said, noting that her hotel had set up a playroom for children who had accompanied their parents.

Some companies are planning to stay in cities like Osaka and Kobe for far longer. Demand for office space at full-service backup operations providers like Regus and Servcorp has surged as companies set up or expand their remote operations outside the Tokyo area, said Brett Jensen, account manager for west Japan at the Osaka office of Colliers International, a real estate broker.

Other companies are expanding existing offices in Osaka and elsewhere, or signing new leases for office space.

"The nuclear issue is one of the main drivers, but there is also concern about the ability to have a stable supply of electricity even after the nuclear issue is resolved," Mr. Jensen said. Thousands of workers could temporarily relocate to Osaka, he said, and many could remain long-term as companies decide to diversify their risks.

The influx of newcomers has been noticeable in central Osaka in recent days. Ken Shimabuku, who works for a large executive search firm in Osaka, said he had been surprised Tuesday by the number of people carrying suitcases through the streets. "It was so obvious that people were going away," he said. "Not just foreigners, the ones coming to Osaka, but the Japanese."

Liz Alderman contributed reporting from Paris and Jack Ewing from Frankfurt.


6) C.I.A. Drones Kill Civilians in Pakistan
March 17, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Several missiles fired from American drone aircraft on Thursday struck a meeting of local people in northwest Pakistan who had gathered with Taliban mediators to settle a dispute over a chromite mine. The attack, a Pakistani intelligence official said, killed 26 of 32 people present, some of them Taliban fighters, but the majority elders and local people not attached to the militants.

The civilian death toll appeared to be among the worst in the scores of strikes carried out recently in Pakistan's tribal areas by the C.I.A., which runs the drones. Local residents and media reports said as many as 40 people had been killed in all, though the intelligence official disputed that.

The Pakistani military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, issued an unusual and unusually strong condemnation of the attack. "It is highly regrettable that a jirga of peaceful citizens, including elders of the area, was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life," the statement said.

But American officials on Thursday sharply disputed Pakistan's account of the strikes and the civilian deaths, contending that all the people killed were insurgents. "These people weren't gathering for a bake sale," an American official said. "They were terrorists."

About four missiles fired from one or more drones hit the meeting, known as a jirga, of two tribes and Taliban mediators who had gathered on open ground at a market in Datta Khel, in North Waziristan, according to two residents who live nearby in Miram Shah.

The intelligence official said that of the 32 people at the meeting, 13 were Taliban fighters, 11 of whom were killed. The rest of the dead were elders and tribesmen.

"The Taliban will never gather in such a large number in broad daylight to be targeted by the drones," according to a resident who did not want to be identified for fear of running afoul of the militants. "It has been a big mistake to target the jirga, as it will have severe consequences."

Recently discovered chromite mines are common in the area. To keep the mines running profitably, the Taliban - as the reigning authorities in the area - often settle disputes between tribes with competing claims and levy taxes on exports and the mine operators.

The drone strikes on Thursday were the second such barrage in two days in Datta Khel, and the sixth in the tribal areas in the past week, according to The Long War Journal, a Web site that monitors the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

After a pause in drone attacks from Jan. 23 to Feb. 20, the pace of attacks has picked up again this month.

Some analysts attributed the lull to the C.I.A.'s not wanting to upset negotiations to free Raymond A. Davis, the C.I.A. security officer who was released on Wednesday. But American intelligence officials denied that and attributed the pause in part to poor weather.

The region is under the sway of a local warlord and Taliban commander, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who made a truce with the government as the Pakistani military pushed into South Waziristan in 2009.

But Mr. Bahadur has accepted many Taliban fighters who fled the campaign into his area, and he continues to have close ties to the Haqqani network, a militant group allied with the government and the Taliban that uses North Waziristan as its main base to launch attacks against American forces in Afghanistan.

Attacks by the American drones are immensely unpopular in Pakistan and have been a rallying point for anti-American sentiment, though in recent years they have provoked less outrage in the tribal areas, as the strikes have focused increasingly on foreign fighters loyal to Al Qaeda who have infiltrated the area, and as fewer civilians have been killed by them.

The attack on Thursday, however, threatened to turn opinion in the region against the attacks once again.

One resident said that given the large Taliban presence, average people and the militants were difficult to distinguish in the area, but that to target a jirga would lead to a backlash. "It will create resentment among the locals," he said, "and everyone might turn into suicide bombers."

Salman Masood reported from Islamabad, and Pir Zubair Shah from New York. Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.


7) Report Finds Wide Abuses by Police in New Orleans
March 17, 2011

NEW ORLEANS - Justice Department officials on Thursday released the findings of a 10-month investigation into this city's Police Department, revealing a force that is profoundly and alarmingly troubled and setting in motion a process for its wholesale reform.

The report describes in chilling detail a department that is severely dysfunctional on every level: one that regularly uses excessive force on civilians, frequently fails to investigate serious crimes and has a deeply inadequate, in many cases nonexistent, system of accountability.

Using the report as a guideline, federal and local officials will now enter into negotiations leading to a consent decree, a blueprint for systemic reform that will be enforced by a federal judge.

"There is nobody in this room that is surprised by the general tenor and the tone of what this report has to say," said Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans, at a news conference attended by city and federal officials.

But, added Mr. Landrieu, who publicly invited federal intervention in the Police Department just days after his inauguration in May, "I look forward to a very spirited partnership and one that actually transforms this Police Department into one of the best in the country."

The city's police chief, Ronal Serpas, said he fully embraced the report and would be going over its findings with senior leadership later in the day.

While the report describes an appalling array of abuses and bad practices, it does not address in detail any of the nine or more federal criminal investigations into the department. These inquiries have already led to the convictions of three police officers, one for fatally shooting an unarmed civilian and another for burning the body.

Justice Department officials chose to exclude the information gleaned in the criminal inquiries to keep a wall between those investigations and the larger civil investigation into the practices of the department. But there were more than enough problems left to uncover.

While other departments generally have problems in specific areas, like the use of excessive force, "New Orleans has every issue that has existed in our practice to date, and a few that we hadn't encountered," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division.

The report reveals that the department has not found a policy violation in any officer-involved shooting for the last six years, though federal officials who reviewed the records found that violations had clearly occurred. The department's canine unit was so badly mismanaged - the dogs were so aggressive they frequently attacked their handlers - that federal officials encouraged the department to suspend it last year even though the investigation was still under way.

The report details a record of discriminatory policing, with a ratio of arrests of blacks to whites standing at nearly 16 to 1. Calls for police assistance by non-English speakers often went unanswered.

The report also found that the police "systemically misclassified possible sexual assaults, resulting in a sweeping failure to properly investigate many potential cases of rape, attempted rape and other sex crimes."

The problems described in the report go beyond policy failings, depicting a culture of dysfunction that reaches all facets of the department. The recruitment program is described as anemic, training as "severely deficient in nearly every respect," and supervision as poor or in some cases nonexistent.

The department has attracted this level of scrutiny before. As bad as it appears now, the police force was far more troubled in the mid-1990s. Two officers from that era are now on death row, and the number of murders in the city at the time soared above 400.

Federal agents conducted a similar investigation of the department, but there was less cooperation by local officials and, crucially, there was no consent decree.

While the department improved for a time, the structural problems remained and festered, as Thursday's report makes clear.

This time, there will be federal court oversight, and there is already widespread consensus that systemic police reform is needed. Confidence in the department is so low that prosecutors have trouble finding juries, as so many prospective jurors declare that they would not put any trust in the testimony of a New Orleans police officer.

The robust citizen engagement that has been a significant factor in the city's recovery from Hurricane Katrina has also changed the dynamic, officials said. While the New Orleans police force may be troubled to a rare degree, federal officials also described the city's appetite for systemic reform as unprecedented.

Federal officials said the team of agents assigned to investigate the department worked with police leadership as well as rank-and-file officers. Investigators also reached out to community leaders to a degree that they had not previously done.

Still, officials acknowledge that changing the department's entrenched culture will be hard and will take years. Though Mr. Serpas, who was an officer during the reform efforts in the 1990s, has already begun addressing many of the concerns, news reports of police abuses during the Mardi Gras season have come out in the past few weeks, and the number of homicides is still stubbornly high.

"I'm not naïve about the hard work that lies ahead," Mr. Perez said, adding that he was still optimistic. "I'm certain that we're in a qualitatively different position than we were 10 years ago."

Community advocates viewed the day's announcement with a mix of hope and skepticism. Some groups had been trying to draw attention to police abuse in the city for years before their complaints were noticed by law enforcement.

"Nobody believed anything we said," said Norris Henderson, a founder of a group for former prisoners called Voice of the Ex-Offender. He said he was encouraged that community groups were so involved in the federal inquiry, but was concerned about the level of involvement going forward.

"Will we be a part of the conversation?" he asked. "Just going to the quote-unquote criminal justice folks, well, y'all the folks responsible for this damn problem."


8) ACTION ALERT: Four Things YOU Can Do About Malalai Joya's Visa Denial
March 18, 2011

The U.S. Embassy this week denied famed Afghan women's rights activist Malalai Joya a visa to the United States for an extensive speaking tour that was to kick off on Saturday March 19th. Americans are being denied the right to hear from an on-the-ground activist how the war is affecting ordinary Afghans, especially women.

Read AWM's press release about it here.


1. Have your elected representatives sign onto a letter urging the U.S. Embassy to reconsider their decision - DEADLINE: Friday March 18th 5 pm EST.

Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) has drafted and signed a letter urging the US Embassy to grant Malalai Joya the visa. A draft of the letter can be found here.

Ask your Senator or Representative to add their names to this letter NO LATER THAN 5 pm EST on Friday March 18th. Have the staff in your Senator or Representative's office contact Jessica Lee at (Do not contact Ms. Lee yourself). The more elected representatives that sign onto the letter, the greater the chance of that the U.S. Embassy will reverse their visa denial.

2. Sign an online petition demanding Malalai Joya be granted a visa to the United States

Click here to sign the petition. Then, send it to all your friends and post it on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

3. Attend one of the many events organized for Malalai around the country. Whether she gets to the U.S. or not it is imperative that the events go on as scheduled. If she is unable to be physically present organizers will attempt to have her speak to the audience via live video chat. Transform the events into "free-speech" events, to affirm your right to hear from people like Malalai Joya.

Details of Malalai's tour are here.

4. Demand media coverage of Malalai's Visa Denial

Contact local and national media urging them to cover Malalai Joya's visa exclusion. The denial of a visa to Afghanistan's most intrepid and well known feminist should make headlines! Point them to our press release for details.


9) Obama Warns Libya on Allied Action
March 18, 2011

WASHINGTON - President Obama ordered Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi on Friday to implement a cease-fire immediately and stop all attacks on Libyan civilians or face military action from the United States and its allies in Europe and the Arab world.

In one of the most forceful statements he has issued from the White House Mr. Obama said that his demands were not negotiable: Colonel Qaddafi had to pull his forces back from major cities in Libya or the United States and its allies would stop him. The president said that he was forced to act because Colonel Qaddafi had turned on his own people and had shown, Mr. Obama said, "no mercy on his own citizens."

The president said that with the passage on Thursday night of a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military action against Colonel Qadaffi to protect Libyan civilians, the United States would not act alone, and in fact that France, Britain and Arab nations would take the lead. That is the clear desire of the Pentagon, which has been strongly resistant to another American war in the Middle East. Mr. Obama said flatly that American ground forces would not enter Libya.

"Muammar Qaddafi has a choice," he said. "The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop."

"Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable - these terms are not negotiable," Mr. Obama said in the East Room of the White House. "If Colonel Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences. The resolution will be enforced through miitary action."

He set no deadline and gave no hint when the military action would commence, but said that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would travel to Paris on Saturday to consult with allies on further action. An allied military strike against Libya did not appear to be imminent.

Specifically, Mr. Obama said, Colonel Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing against the town of Benghazi and pull them back from other cities, and water, electricity and gas supplies must be allowed in, as well as other humanitarian aid.

He spoke as the United States, Britain and France pushed forward against Libya on Friday as they declared that a cease-fire abruptly announced by Colonel Qaddafi's government was not enough, and as reports came in from the region of continuing attacks in some places.

Mrs. Clinton, echoing remarks hours earlier by Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, said in Washington on Friday morning that the United States would be "not responsive or impressed by words."' She said that the allies would "have to see actions on the ground, and that is not yet at all clear."

Those actions included, she said, a clear move by Colonel Qaddafi's forces away from the east, where they were threatening a final assault on the rebels' stronghold in Benghazi.

Only hours after the United Nations Security Council voted late Thursday to authorize military action and a no-fly zone, Libya executed a remarkable about-face on Friday, saying it would call an "immediate cease-fire and the stoppage of all military operations" against rebels seeking to oust Colonel Qaddafi.

But people fleeing the eastern city of Ajdabiya said government forces were still bombing and conducting other assaults at 4 p.m. local time.

A spokesman for the rebels, Mustafa Gheriani, said that attacks continued against both that city and Misurata, in the west, according to news agency reports. "He's bombing Misurata and Ajdabiya from 7 a.m. this morning until now," Mr. Gehriani said, according to The Associated Press.

The announcement of cease-fire came from Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa after Western powers said they were preparing imminent airstrikes to prevent Libyan forces from launching a threatened final assault on Benghazi.

In London, Mr. Cameron told the BBC of Colonel Qaddafi: "We will judge him by his actions, not his words."

Mr. Cameron told the House of Commons that the British Air Force would deploy Tornado jets and Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes, "as well as air-to-air refueling and surveillance aircraft."

"Preparations to deploy these have already started, and in the coming hours they will move to airbases from where they can take the necessary action," Mr. Cameron said.

The Typhoon is a fighter jet armed with air-to-air missiles for shooting down airplanes, as well as laser-guided bombs for targets on the ground. The Tornado is especially well suited for attacking runways - that was its first combat mission, in the Persian Gulf war, when the planes swooped in to bomb runways in Iraq, facing thick anti-aircraft defenses that shot down several of the planes.

In Paris the French foreign ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, said that Colonel Qaddafi "begins to be afraid, but on the ground, the threat hasn't changed." He added, "We have to be very cautious."

Earlier François Baroin, a French government spokesman, told RTL radio that action would come "rapidly," perhaps within hours, after the United Nations resolution authorized "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

But he insisted the military action was "not an occupation of Libyan territory." Rather, he said, it was intended to protect the Libyan people and "allow them to go all the way in their drive, which means bringing down the Qaddafi regime."

Other French officials said that Mr. Baroin was speaking to heighten the warning to Colonel Qaddafi, and that in fact any military action was not that imminent, but was still being coordinated with allies including Britain and the United States.

Obama administration officials said that allied action against Libya had to include the participation of Arab countries and were insistent, as one senior official put it, that the red, green and black of Arab nations' flags be prominent in military operations. As of Thursday night, the United States said it had firm commitments from both Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to contribute fighter jets to the effort, and that Jordan had also agreed to take part, although to what extent was not yet clear by Friday.

The administration also spoke to Egyptian officials about taking part but Egypt - the leading military power of the Arab world - was concerned that air strikes could endanger some million Egyptians who live in Libya. In addition, protesters only last month toppled the 30-year regime of President Hosni Mubarak and Egypt's transitional military government remains fragile.

Administration officials said it remained unclear on Friday morning which country would take the lead as the air traffic controller of an operation that might involve waves of fighter jets from multiple countries in the skies above Libya, taking turns or at the same time. But the United States was expected to play a major role, as were Britain and France.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Mr. Cameron will attend the meeting in Paris on Saturday with European, European Union, African Union and Arab League officials to discuss Libya, Mr. Sarkozy's office announced. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations will also take part, his office said.

Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League, which had supported the no-fly proposal, told Reuters on Friday: "'The goal is to protect civilians first of all, and not to invade or occupy."

Apparently pulling back from the increasingly bellicose statements that came as recently as Thursday from Colonel Qaddafi and his son Seif al-Islam, Mr. Koussa - his hands shaking as he read a statement at a news conference in Tripoli on Friday afternoon - said the Qaddafi government would comply with the United Nations resolution by halting combat operations.

"Libya has decided an immediate cease-fire and the stoppage of all military operations," Mr. Koussa said. He did not take questions.

It was not immediately possible to confirm that military action. Mr. Koussa did not say whether the Libyan government intended to restore water, electricity and telecommunications to Misurata.

He expressed "our sadness" that the imposition of a no-fly zone would also stop commercial and civilian aircraft, saying such measures "will have a negative impact on the general life of the Libyan people."

And he called it "strange and unreasonable" that the resolution authorized the use of force against the Qaddafi government, "and there are signs that this may indeed take place." Mr. Koussa called the resolution a violation of Libyan sovereignty as well as of the United Nations charter, and repeated a call for a "fact-finding mission" to evaluate the situation on the ground.

Government minders told journalists in Tripoli on Friday that they could not leave their hotel for their own safety, saying that in the aftermath of the United Nations vote, residents might attack or even shoot foreigners. The extent of the danger was unclear.

Shortly before Mr. Koussa spoke Mr. Cameron told Parliament in London: "This is about protecting the Libyan people and saving lives. The world has watched Qaddafi brutally crushing his own people. We expect brutal attacks. Qaddafi is preparing for a violent assault on Benghazi."

"Any decision to put the men and women of our armed forces into harm's way should only be taken when absolutely necessary," he said. "But I believe that we cannot stand back and let a dictator whose people have rejected him kill his people indiscriminately. To do so would send a chilling signal to others."

"The clock is now ticking," Mr. Cameron said. "We need a sense of urgency because we don't want to see a bloodbath in Benghazi." Responding to criticism from members of Parliament about getting Britain involved militarily, Mr. Cameron retorted: "To pass a resolution like this and then just stand back and hope someone in the region would enforce it is wrong."

Before the cease-fire was announced, the Libyan leader signaled his intentions in Benghazi.

"We will come house by house, room by room," Colonel Qaddafi said Thursday on a radio call-in show before the United Nations vote. It's over. The issue has been decided." To those who continued to resist, he vowed: "We will find you in your closets. We will have no mercy and no pity."

In a television broadcast later, he added: "The world is crazy, and we will be crazy, too."

Before Mr. Koussa's announcement of a cease-fire, forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi unleashed a barrage of fire against Misurata, news reports said, while his son was quoted as saying government forces would encircle Benghazi. Eurocontrol, Europe's air traffic control agency, said in Brussels on Friday that Libya had closed its airspace. It was not immediately clear whether loyalist troops had begun honoring the cease-fire.

The Security Council vote seemed to have divided Europeans, with Germany saying it would not take part while Norway was reported as saying it would. In the region, Turkey was reported to have registered opposition, but Qatar said it would support the operation.

On Thursday night in New York, after days of often acrimonious debate played out against a desperate clock, and with Colonel Qaddafi's troops within 100 miles of Benghazi, the Security Council authorized member nations to take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians, diplomatic code words calling for military action.

Diplomats said the resolution - which passed with 10 votes, including that of the United States, and abstentions from Russia, China, Germany, Brazil and India - was written in sweeping terms to allow for a wide range of actions, including strikes on air-defense systems and missile attacks from ships.

Benghazi erupted in celebration at news of the resolution's passage. "We are embracing each other," said Imam Bugaighis, spokeswoman for the rebel council in Benghazi. "The people are euphoric. Although a bit late, the international society did not let us down."

A Pentagon official said Thursday that decisions were still being made about what kind of military action, if any, the United States might take with the allies against Libya. The official said that contingency planning continued across a full range of operations, including a no-fly zone, but that it was unclear how much the United States would become involved beyond providing support.

That support is likely to consist of much of what the United States already has in the region - Awacs radar planes to help with air traffic control should there be airstrikes, other surveillance aircraft and about 400 Marines aboard two amphibious assault ships in the region, the Kearsarge and the Ponce.

The Americans could also provide signal-jamming aircraft in international airspace to muddle Libyan government communications with its military units.

Elisabeth Bumiller reported from Washington, David D. Kirkpatrick from Tripoli, and Alan Cowell from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim from eastern Libya; Dan Bilefsky from the United Nations; Mark Landler from Washington; Steven Erlanger from Paris; Julia Werdigier from London; Helene Cooper from Washington; and Steven Lee Myers from Tunis.


10) Libyan revolution and imperialist meddling
"Here we saw the spectacle of the direct representatives of Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama agreeing to intervene in Libya, the same people who at home are cutting pensions, attacking the right to free public education, cutting back on welfare in general, while at the same time defending the interests of their own capitalists. These same people have no qualms in sending the police against protesting workers and youth in their own countries, while at the same time shamefacedly decrying the lack of democratic rights in other countries."
Written by Fred Weston
Friday, March 18, 2011

Yesterday the United Nations Security Council voted by 10 votes in favour against 5 abstentions to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The resolution authorises UN member states "to take all necessary measures... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory".

Gaddafi has responded - through his foreign minister - by announcing his intention to call a cease-fire. This is clearly intended to stop the airstrikes which were being prepared by NATO and other forces. He realises what he risks if he ignores the UN and simply marches on and bombs the rebel held towns. With such a ceasefire in place - if Gaddafi keeps his word and isn't using this simply to buy time to take towns such as Misurata - the country is de facto divided into two.

This sudden about face on the part of Gaddafi may also be dictated by the fact that he has realised that taking Benghazi would be a far more formidable task than what he has achieved so far. Benghazi is a major city under the control of the revolutionary people, and these would put up strong resistance against any force sent in by Gaddafi. Thus a compromise which leaves him in control of part of the country may seem the better option.

With the revolution in stalemate, the Interim Council remains standing in Benghazi but Gaddafi holds on to the biggest city, Tripoli and several other key cities, including important oil fields and refineries.

A ceasefire means neither side attacks the other. It also means putting on hold the Libyan revolution, which is what Gaddafi's regime wants, but also what the imperialists want. Those who lose out in all this are the Libyan workers and youth, those who actually started the revolution. In Tripoli Gaddafi will keep his grip on the situation and in the East and other rebel held areas, the revolutionary youth will be pulled back.

Let us not forget that until recently the west were doing very good business with Gaddafi. Western oil companies have been operating in the country for some time. Gaddafi was putting in place laws that would favour the development of private enterprise and the market. The IMF recently [February 15, 2011] applauded the Gaddafi regime noting that, "An ambitious program to privatize banks and develop the nascent financial sector is underway. Banks have been partially privatized, interest rates decontrolled, and competition encouraged. Ongoing efforts to restructure and modernize the CBL [Central Bank of Libya] are underway with assistance from the Fund." Gaddafi's son, Saif, was in fact a key promoter of "liberalisation".

The people who sit on the Interim Council, led by Gaddafi's former Minister of Justice, have no differences with the Gaddafi clique on this question. So on both sides of the divide the imperialists will be able to carry on doing good business. What the imperialists have been seeking is a way of cutting across the revolutionary wave in the Arab world. In Libya they have found, at least for now, a way of partially achieving that. The idea that tyrants can easily be toppled by mass movements has been brought into question by the survival of Gaddafi. The idea that outside help from the western "democracies" is required to "defend people's democratic rights" has been added to the equation.

All this is aimed at removing from the minds of millions of downtrodden, ordinary working people, of the unemployed youth, the poor, that they have the power to rise up and take their destinies into their own hands. Egypt and Tunisia, however, are still there as examples of revolutions that have removed despots from power. The idea that revolution is possible is still gripping the minds of millions in the Arab world. And whatever manoeuvres the imperialist may come up with, this idea is not going to go away so easily. In Yemen, Jordan, Oman and many other countries revolution is on the agenda.
The role of the United Nations

In speaking at the gathering of the Security Council, Susan Rice, the US representative claimed that by passing this resolution they were defending the democratic rights of the Libyan people. Such words in the mouths of the representatives of US imperialism stink of hypocrisy. We should not be taken in by all this rhetoric. The imperialist powers hide behind such words as they proceed to defend their fundamental interests.

Let us not forget that it was only last month that the same Susan Rice vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution which condemned Israel's settlements in Palestinian territory. Thus while in Libya people are to be guaranteed "democratic rights" the Palestinians can go on waiting for theirs. In the past two years the US have vetoed more than 30 resolutions that called for a defence of the rights of the Palestinians. On the other hand, in the past when the US sought a UN mandate to justify their invasion of Iraq, in spite of failing to get such a mandate, went ahead and invaded the country anyway.

Unfortunately, among many on the left there are big illusions in what the United Nations can achieve. There is this idea that somehow the UN is an organisation that stands above society, i.e. stands above class and national interests as some kind of "democratic" or "humanitarian" referee. It is nothing of the sort.

The UN Security Council, has within it five major powers, the US, China, Russia, France and Britain, who have the right of veto. If any single one of these feels that its national interests are at risk it can stop a resolution going through. What this means is that the UN can take a decision, when the "national interests", that is the interests of the respective ruling classes, of all these powers converge in some way.

Here we saw the spectacle of the direct representatives of Sarkozy, Cameron and Obama agreeing to intervene in Libya, the same people who at home are cutting pensions, attacking the right to free public education, cutting back on welfare in general, while at the same time defending the interests of their own capitalists. These same people have no qualms in sending the police against protesting workers and youth in their own countries, while at the same time shamefacedly decrying the lack of democratic rights in other countries.

Marxists do not fall for any of this. The interests of the capitalist class are the same at home and abroad. Their home policy is based on defending the profits and privileges of the ruling class. Their foreign policy is determined by the exact same criteria. That is why it is very unfortunate that many on the left - whether they call themselves Social-Democratic, Socialist, Labour, Left, Communist and so on - have fallen for all the rhetoric of the ruling class.
Bahrain and Libya... two weights and two measures

One has only to look at the situation in Bahrain to see the utter hypocrisy of what is going on. In Bahrain we have seen a mass movement of immense proportions. The government has responded brutally, shooting at unarmed peaceful demonstrators. Other Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait have sent in troops and police forces to help the government quell the revolt. Where is the call for a UN force to defend the Bahraini people? So far, what we have is Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general expressing his "deepest concern" about what is happening in Bahrain.

The argument that the Bahraini government (which is violently repressing its own people) has called for the "help" of neighbouring countries and that by doing so legitimizes foreign intervention is grotesquely ridiculous. These hypocrites forget the very fact that the mass revolt in Bahrain has deprived the local government of any authority whatsoever to claim it represents the will of the majority.

Why do we have two weights and two measures here? Because in each situation the interests of the imperialists are different. If the revolution in Bahrain were to successfully overthrow the regime, then next in line would be Saudi Arabia, followed by the other smaller Gulf States. Saudi Arabia has the largest oil reserves in the world. Kuwait and the UAE also have sizeable reserves. The Saudi regime itself is not exactly an example of democracy. It is a brutal regime, and always has been.

The Saudi regime has come under some - very mild - pressure to introduce "reforms". The result? The king is about to announce a... "government reshuffle", an "anti-corruption drive" and promises to increase subsidies on basic foodstuffs. But where are the democratic reforms, the right to form parties, the right to organize free trade unions and to strike? We can rest assured that these will not be in the king's speech today.

Saudi Arabia is a very important player in what is happening in the Middle East. It is a key ally of US imperialism, but in the recent period we have seen differences over how to deal with the revolutions that have been spreading across the whole region.

For example, when the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions started, the Saudis and other reactionary Arab regimes were all putting pressure, particularly on Mubarak to resist at all costs. They understood that the toppling of the Egyptian regime could open the floodgates and that they could be next.

US imperialism, on the other hand, after the initial shock of seeing millions on the streets - something they had not expected - realized that in order to maintain some degree of control over the situation, what was required was some loosening up from the top, i.e. to grant some reforms from above in order to avoid revolutionary explosions from below. That is in fact the line they are pushing now, even giving some kind advice to the Bahraini regime to follow along the same lines.

But it is one thing to pontificate from across the Atlantic Ocean; it is another to be sitting right on top of the volcano in the Middle East. These regimes realize that once you start loosening up from the top, in the face of revolutionary movements of the masses, it is only the beginning of a process that will go much further than they would like. Once the masses get a feeling that a regime is weak, that it is divided and it is making reforms only to try and stop the tide of revolution, then they are encouraged and move forward with more demands. The masses want full democratic rights, and with these they also want a solution to their burning economic and social problems.

This the imperialists understand and what they are trying to do now to make cosmetic changes while maintaining the essence of the old regimes that have either been toppled or are about to be toppled, i.e. regimes that maintain and defend the interests of the capitalist system as a whole.

It is in this context that we need to look at what is happening in Libya and why the UN voted the resolution that prepared the ground for the imposition of a no-fly zone over the country. It was evident that US imperialism was not prepared to take up on itself the task of imposing such a zone. They have had their fingers burned in Iraq and are not keen to get bogged down in another war in an Arab country. That explains why so much insistence has been placed on the fact that there is not going to be an "occupation" of Libya. Unfortunately for the US strategists, they have now been dragged into supporting such a resolution and will have to participate to some degree in imposing the no-fly zone. They see it as the lesser evil, and also have to weigh up their interests in the region as a whole. They cannot ignore the needs of the Saudi Arabian regime, which is far more important to them.

A call for a no-fly zone actually came from within Libya itself, from the Interim Council in Benghazi. The reason for this was that Gaddafi had kept control of key sections of the armed forces, as we have explained in a previous article [see Why has the revolution stalled in Libya?], in particular of the air force which could be used to bomb rebel held areas. The leadership of the Council has played an important role in all this. They dithered at crucial moments, held back the revolutionary youth, hoping more sections of the military would come over to the revolution or even that Gaddafi would be removed by people within the regime itself.
Revolutionary momentum must be regained

Once the revolutionary momentum was lost, Gaddafi was able to reorganize his forces and begin to strike back. At that point the conflict became more of a war than a revolution, and with far superior firepower, the people of Benghazi and other cities were facing the risk of losing everything they had fought for and of suffering a bloody clampdown at the hands of Gaddafi's forces. When it seemed that Gaddafi was close to launching an offensive against Benghazi the UN decided to pass its resolution.

The reaction on the streets of Benghazi was ecstatic. Now they felt they had the big powers backing them and they feel Gaddafi can be defeated. This euphoria is understandable, but is it justified? The imperialists are not intervening to defend the Libyan revolution. On the contrary, their purpose is to strangle the revolution and divert it along safer lines. They are backing the Council in Benghazi, whose members have shown that what they want is to be on good terms with the imperialists, open up Libya to imperialist economic interests even more than has been done so far, and in the process win ministerial positions for themselves.

For what kind of regime could emerge from a defeat of Gaddafi achieved with the aid of the imperialists? Victory over Gaddafi in such circumstances would come at a price. One only has to look at Iraq to see what kind of regime it would be. Libya would have a government that would have to carry out the demands of the imperialists. That would involve speeding up the programme of privatization initiated by Gaddafi, further cuts in welfare, cuts in food subsidies and so on. It would be a capitalist regime, with a democratic façade, but none of the pressing social problems would be solved. On the contrary they would worsen.

For now, however, Gaddafi still has his armed forces intact. His attack was not mainly based on aerial bombardment, but on troops on the ground, aided by tanks and other hardware. If what is intended is to defend civilians, then a no-fly zone would not be enough. Eventually they would have to commit ground troops.

Once such a process starts then it would lead eventually to the need to send troops into Libya. From a purely military point of view, they could defeat Gaddafi, as they defeated Saddam Hussein, but at what cost? It would mean much destruction and many deaths. Precisely what they were supposed to be avoiding with this resolution.

Now that Gaddafi has accepted to hold back his forces, this may not become reality. But the alternative is one of a crystallisation of the situation as it is now and the opening of negotiations that will see the Benghazi Council, Gaddafi and the imperialist powers (under the cover of the UN) sit around a table and decide how to divide up the country's wealth at the expenses of the Libyan people.

The real alternative for the Libyan workers and revolutionary youth will be to regain the initiative. They must explain that the revolution is not simply about removing a despot who had good relations with the imperialists and replace him with another pro-imperialist government. The Libyan people yearn for freedom and democracy, the right to express their views and aims and the right to organise to achieve those aims. It is clear, however, that the aims of those who sit on the Interim Council are not the same as those of the workers and revolutionary youth who started the revolution.

The message must be sent to the people, in Tripoli especially, that the revolution is not about, placing a few defectors from Gaddafi's camp in government in place of Gaddafi himself. It is not about having a government that will continue with more or less the same imperialist imposed policies that Gaddafi was pursuing anyway.

The revolution is about ending all compromises with imperialism. It is about establishing workers' control over the nationalised industries and taking back any key resources that have been privatised. For this to happen, the workers must come out with their own voice, with their own banner, and their own party. That is what is missing in the revolution. And that is what needs to be built.

The revolutionary youth and the workers will be drawing conclusions from the events that have unfolded over the past few weeks. They have been through a very bitter school. But if they do not want to see their revolution stolen from them, they must come out as an independent force.


11) Escape From New York
March 18, 2011

New York City holds a special place in the collective conscience of Black America.

Not only does it have the highest concentration of blacks - according to the 2000 Census, there were more blacks living in New York City than in all but four whole states - much of black intellectual power and cultural capital has been accrued within its borders.

It gave voice to Shirley Chisholm, refuge to Malcolm X, legs to Althea Gibson and opportunity to Jackie Robinson. It was the incubator of the Harlem Renaissance, the proving ground of jazz and the birthplace of hip-hop.

It was a black Mecca and magnet. Was.

Next week, the Census Bureau will release local data for New York. And if those data come in as expected, they will show the first drop in the black population of New York City on a census since at least 1880, according to Professor Andy Beveridge, a sociologist at the City University of New York. (The white, Asian and Hispanic populations are all expected to grow.)

Part of the shift is likely from an overall trend in black migration toward the South and the suburbs. For example, the 2010 Census figures show that Georgia's black population grew by 23 percent and Florida's by 25 percent, but as The Associated Press reported Friday: "The share of blacks in large metropolitan areas who opted to live in the suburbs climbed to 58 percent in the South, compared with 41 percent for the rest of the U.S."

There is also the city's continued shedding of manufacturing jobs and shrinking middle class that is pushing it ever closer to becoming a dim, stilted wasteland of the wealthy, from edge to edge.

But to the soup of reasons and recriminations I would like to add one more possible factor that must be considered if not studied: the hyper-aggressive police tactics that have resulted in a concerted and directed campaign of harassment against the black citizens of this city.

According to a report in The Times last year, there were a record 580,000 stop-and-frisks in the city in 2009. Most of those stopped (55 percent) were black (a large portion were also Hispanic), most were young and almost all were male. For reference, according to the Census Bureau, there were about only 300,000 black men between the ages of 13 and 34 living in the city that year. A mere 6 percent of the stops resulted in arrests.

The Times article revealed that in one eight-block area of an overwhelmingly black neighborhood in Brooklyn, the police made 52,000 stops in just four years, an average of nearly one stop for each resident each year.

And many of those arrested are charged with having small amounts of marijuana. According to an analysis of these arrests by Harry Levine, another sociologist at the City University of New York, the New York Police Department under Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made more of these minor drug arrests than under his previous three predecessors combined. These targeting tactics mean that blacks are arrested for minor drug possession at seven times the rate of whites although on national surveys whites consistently say that they use marijuana more than blacks or Hispanics.

Why would people stay and withstand this if they had the wherewithal to leave?

If this is even part of the reason blacks are fleeing from, or simply not coming to, our great metropolis, then the city, knowingly or not, is engaged in its own subtle form of ethnic cleansing - a sort of eradication by intimidation._

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12) A Price Too High?
March 18, 2011

Catastrophes happen.

No one thought the Interstate 35W bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis would collapse. No one thought the Gulf of Mexico would be fouled to the horrible extent that it was by the BP oil spill. The awful convergence of disasters in Japan - a 9.0 earthquake followed by a tsunami and a devastating nuclear power emergency - seemed almost unimaginable.

Worst-case scenarios unfold more frequently than we'd like to believe, which leads to two major questions regarding nuclear power that Americans have an obligation to answer.

First, can a disaster comparable to the one in Japan happen here? The answer, of course, is yes - whether caused by an earthquake or some other event or series of events. Nature is unpredictable and human beings are fallible. It could happen.

So the second question is whether it makes sense to follow through on plans to increase our reliance on nuclear power, thus heightening the risk of a terrible problem occurring here in the United States. Is that a risk worth taking?

Concern over global warming has increased the appeal of nuclear power, which does not produce the high levels of greenhouse gases that come from fossil fuels. But there has been a persistent tendency to ignore the toughest questions posed by nuclear power: What should be done with the waste? What are the consequences of a catastrophic accident in a populated area? How safe are the plants, really? Why would taxpayers have to shoulder so much of the financial risk of expanding the nation's nuclear power capacity, an effort that would be wildly expensive?

A big part of the problem at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power station are the highly radioactive spent fuel rods kept in storage pools at the plant. What to do, ultimately, with such dangerous waste material is the nuclear power question without an answer. Nuclear advocates and public officials don't talk about it much. Denial is the default position when it comes to nuclear waste.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said again this week that the 40-year-old Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County, 35 miles north of New York City, should be closed. Try to imagine the difficulty, in the event of an emergency, of evacuating such an area with its millions of residents. "This plant in this proximity to New York City was never a good risk," said the governor.

There are, blessedly, very few catastrophic accidents at nuclear power plants. And there have not been many deaths associated with them. The rarity of such accidents provides a comfort zone. We can look at the low probabilities and declare, "It can't happen here."

But what if it did happen here? What would the consequences be? If Indian Point blew, how wide an area and how many people would be affected, and what would the cleanup costs be? Rigorously answering such questions is the only way to determine whether the potential risk to life and property is worthwhile.

The 104 commercial nuclear plants in the U.S. are getting old, and many have had serious problems over the years. There have been dozens of instances since 1979, the year of the Three Mile Island accident, in which nuclear reactors have had to be shut down for more than a year for safety reasons.

Building new plants, which the Obama administration favors, can be breathtakingly expensive and requires government loan guarantees. Banks are not lining up to lend money on their own for construction of the newest generation of Indian Points.

In addition to the inherent risks with regard to safety and security, the nuclear industry has long been notorious for sky-high construction costs, feverish cost-overruns and projects that eventually are abandoned. The Union of Concerned Scientists, in a 2009 analysis of the costs associated with nuclear plant construction, said that once a plant came online it usually led to significant rate increases for customers:

"Ratepayers bore well over $200 billion (in today's dollars) in cost overruns for completed nuclear plants. In the 1990s, legislators and regulators also allowed utilities to recover most 'stranded costs' - the difference between utilities' remaining investments in nuclear plants and the market value of those plants - as states issued billions of dollars in bonds backed by ratepayer charges to pay for utilities' above-market investments."

The refrain here is familiar: "The total cost to ratepayers, taxpayers and shareholders stemming from cost overruns, canceled plants and stranded costs exceeded $300 billion in today's dollars."

Nuclear power is hardly the pristine, economical, unambiguous answer to the nation's energy needs and global warming concerns. It offers benefits and big-time shortcomings. Ultimately, the price may be much too high._

Gail Collins is off today.


13) France Sends Military Flights Over Libya
March 19, 2011

TRIPOLI, Libya - French military jets have flown reconnaissance missions over Libya, the first sign of the largest military intervention in the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq. President Nicolas Sarkozy said the jets had begin enforcing the no-fly zone over the eastern city of Benghazi, under heavy bombardment by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Mr. Sarkozy spoke from Paris, where leaders from the United States, Europe and Arab countries met in Paris on Saturday to assemble the intervention.

Before Mr. Sarkozy's statement, Colonel Qaddafi warned President Obama and European leaders not to enforce a no-flight zone over Libya even as he defied their demands for a ceasefire.

His comments came one day after Mr. Obama ordered Colonel Qaddafi to carry out an immediate cease-fire, withdraw his forces from rebel-held cities and stop all attacks on Libyan civilians or face military action from the United States and its allies in Europe and the Arab world.

The tone of the letters - one addressed to Mr. Obama and a second to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations - suggested that Colonel Qaddafi was leaving himself little room to back down.

"Libya is not yours. Libya is for all Libyans," Colonel Qaddafi wrote in a letter addressed to Mr. Obama and a second to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations. One of his government spokesman read the letters to the news media:

"This is injustice, it is clear aggression, and it is uncalculated risk for its consequences on the Mediterranean and Europe.

You will regret it if you take a step toward intervening in our internal affairs."

Colonel Qaddafi addressed President Obama as "our son," in a letter that combined pleas with a jarring familiarity. "I have said to you before that even if Libya and the United States enter into war, God forbid, you will always remain my son and I have all the love for you as a son, and I do not want your image to change with me," he wrote. "We are confronting Al Qaea in the Islamic Maghred, nothing more. What would you do if you found them controlling American cities with the power of weapons? Tell me how would you behave so that I could follow your example?"

In Paris, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with France, Britain and members of the Arab League to consider the on further action.

On Friday, President Obama made one of the most forceful statements of his presidency. "Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable," he said from the East Room of the White House.

Libya had pledged a cease-fire hours before. But reports on Saturday from rebel-held territory indicated that Colonel Qaddafi's troops were attacking in the east.

In a telephone interview from Benghazi on Saturday morning, a rebel fighter who gave his name as Monsour said there was heavy fighting in the west of the city. He said he had seen 12 tanks from the Qaddafi forces moving through the city. Qaddafi snipers were atop the Foreign Ministry building, not far from the courthouse that is the de facto rebel headquarters, and there was fighting along Gamel Abdul Nasser street nearby as well. The government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, denied in Tripoli that pro-Qaddafi units were attacking in Benghazi and said that only the rebels had an incentive to break the cease-fire.

Earlier, the BBC also reported that tanks were in the city on Saturday morning. After the report, the BBC Web site was inaccessible in Tripoli, suggesting that it may have been blocked.

News organizations reporting from Benghazi said that a fighter jet was shot down on the outskirts of the city and several Western Web sites published a dramatic photo of the warplane plunging to the ground in flames after the pilot appeared to have ejected. It was not immediately clear whether the plane belonged to attacking Qaddafi forces or the rebels, or how it had been shot down.

The head of the rebel National Libyan Council appealed to the international community on Saturday to act swiftly to protect civilians from government forces which he said were attacking Benghazi, Reuters reported. "Now there is a bombardment by artillery and rockets on all districts of Benghazi," Reuters said, quoting Mustafa Abdel Jalil in an appearance on Al Jazeera television. "Today in Benghazi there will be a catastrophe if the international community does not implement the resolutions of the U.N. Security

The Qaddafi government appeared earlier Saturday to be laying the groundwork for a potential strike in the name of self-defense.

Khalid Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said government intelligence showed tanks, artillery and weapons from Benghazi attacking a town in the east. Government forces, he said, were holding back to observe the cease-fire.

On Friday afternoon, people fleeing nearby Ajdabiya said government troops were shelling and conducting assaults. The western city of Misurata was under siege, its electricity and water cut by the government, and doctors reported that at least 25 people were killed, including 16 unarmed civilians. In Tripoli, the repression of peaceful protests continued, and gunfire was heard late in the evening.

In the neighborhood of Tajoura, a center of opposition where residents say several people have been shot and many have been arrested after protests in recent weeks, one resident said there was an attempt to organize a demonstration after midday prayers on Friday to celebrate the decision to declare a cease-fire. But when they left the mosque, they were met by soldiers firing into the air, this resident said. They tried again at evening prayers but soldiers blocked the entrance to the mosque, dispersed them from the central square, and put up checkpoints that blocked any care or pedestrian movement.

"There is a complete shutdown," the resident said in a telephone interview, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. "Many people in the neighborhood who spoke out against the regime have been arrested. Those not been arrested are avoiding it by moving around, staying with relatives in other neighborhoods."

Mr. Obama spoke 18 hours after the passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military action against Colonel Qaddafi, and as violence raged across the Middle East. In Yemen, security forces and government supporters shot and killed at least 45 protesters. In Bahrain, the government tore down the monument adopted by the country's rebel movement, the pearl in the middle of Pearl Square in Manama. In Syria, a police state where protest is rare, large demonstrations broke out in four cities.

In contrast to the military intervention in Libya, the administration has restricted itself in those countries to statements condemning the violence and urging restraint.

Mr. Obama used tough language that was at times reminiscent of President George W. Bush before the war in Iraq.

"If Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action," Mr. Obama said, laying out a policy decision made after several weeks in which the administration sent conflicting signals about its willingness to use force to aid the rebels at a time of upheaval throughout the Arab world.

But unlike Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama cast the United States in a supporting, almost reluctant role, reflecting the clear desire of the Pentagon, which has been strongly resistant to another American war in the Middle East. He said that Britain, France and Arab nations would take the lead, and that United States ground forces would not enter Libya.

The White House and the Pentagon offered no other details on what the precise role of the United States military would be in any strikes against Colonel Qaddafi's forces, but an administration official said late Friday that the United States might take the lead in an attempt to destroy Libya's air defenses at the beginning of operations.

"We may do the shaping on the front end," the administration official said. The official was referring to the ability of American forces, greater than that of the allies, to strike targets precisely from long distances, whether by missiles launched from submarines, surface warships or attack jets.

The official said that the goal was to limit American military involvement to the initial stages of any action, and that it was the administration's expectation that the allies could control the skies over Libya once Colonel Qaddafi's air defenses are destroyed.

Mr. Obama's remarks at the White House capped a day of diplomacy mixed with military threats in Washington, London and Paris, where the allies forged a united front against Colonel Qaddafi. Britain, France and then the United States responded with almost identically worded skepticism after Moussa Koussa, the Libyan foreign minister, announced a cease-fire, his hands shaking, and European officials indicated that they were prepared to move quickly if a decision was made to take military action.

"We will judge him by his actions, not his words," Prime Minister Cameron of Britain told the BBC in London.

A few hours later, Mrs. Clinton said in Washington that the United States would be "not responsive or impressed by words." She said that the allies would "have to see actions on the ground, and that is not yet at all clear."

In Paris, the French Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, said that Colonel Qaddafi "begins to be afraid, but on the ground, the threat hasn't changed."

Obama administration officials said that action against Libya had to include the Arab countries, and they were insistent, as one senior official put it, that the "red, green and black" of Arab flags be prominent in military operations. As of Thursday night, the United States said that it had commitments from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to contribute fighter jets, and that Jordan had also agreed to take part, although the extent of its participation was not clear on Friday.

Conditions on the ground remained confused and tense in Libya on Friday night. Several hours after Mr. Moussa had declared a cease-fire, explosions could be heard about 30 miles away from Ajdabiya. Residents who left the city after the cease-fire declaration said the announcement of an end to hostilities had in fact caused no break in the fighting.

Two doctors in the city of Misurata said that 25 people were killed on Friday, including 16 civilians.

"What cease-fire?" said Mohamed, a spokesman for the rebels in Misurata. "What lies, what murder!" After watching Mr. Obama's speech on a generator-powered television at the Misurata medical center, he said, "We are very heartened by Mr. Obama's words. We feel that he finally grasped the situation and grasped the urgency."

A spokeswoman for the rebel ruling council, Iman Bugaighis, said on Friday that Colonel Qaddafi's troops were moving toward Benghazi. "They are using their grenades to shoot up to 30 kilometers," she said.

But Khalid Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said emphatically, "We have no intention of entering the city of Benghazi."

On Friday, residents of Ajdabiya described a vicious battle for their city that had lasted days, killed scores of people and wrecked neighborhoods, including large parts of an area called Seventh of October. They said that Colonel Qaddafi's loyalists attacked Tuesday from a ring around the city's outskirts with tanks, missiles and other heavy artillery.

"The houses were shaking," said a woman named Fatima, who fled with her family on Friday. "We thought it would stop but it didn't."

On Wednesday doctors at the hospital in Ajdabiya said 38 people had died in the fighting. By Friday, residents guessed at a far higher number, saying they saw bodies in the streets. Moussa al-Dulaimi, a police officer who fled the city on Friday, said seven neighbors died in the fighting.

The residents described intense shelling around the post office, and especially in the north of the city. Residents were shot at checkpoints and by snipers, they said.

Thousands of refugees have settled about twenty minutes outside of Ajdabiya, on the road to the eastern city of Tobruk, in tents and abandoned homes in the desert. Volunteers from Tobruk bring food, water and fuel to the refugees, who cook on campfires or share small power generators. "The situation is very dangerous. Nobody is going back to the city," said Khaled Gabally, who left Ajdabiya on Thursday.

By Friday, government tanks were posted most of the city's entrances, residents said. As people left, soldiers checked for guns and cellphone videos of the violence. A few residents said the soldiers made them repeat an oath: "Only Muammar, God and Libya."

David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Tripoli, Libya, and Elisabeth Bumiller from Washington. Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim from eastern Libya; Dan Bilefsky from the United Nations; Helene Cooper, Mark Landler and Thom Shanker from Washington; Richard Berry, Alan Cowell and Steven Erlanger from Paris; Julia Werdigier from London; and Steven Lee Myers from Tunis.


14) Egyptians Vote on Constitutional Changes
March 18, 2011

CAIRO (AP) - Eager for their first taste of a free vote in decades, Egyptians formed long lines outside polling centers on Saturday to cast their ballots on a package of constitutional amendments sponsored by the ruling military.

The nationwide referendum is the first major test of the country's transition to democracy after a popular uprising overthrew President Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian rule on Feb. 11. Lines began forming in the hours before polls opened, snaking along the streets in highly unusual early turnout for an Egyptian election.

"This is a historic day for Egypt," Deputy Prime Minister Yahya al-Gamal told reporters after casting his vote in Cairo. "I had never seen such large numbers of voters in Egypt. Finally, the people of Egypt have come to realize that their vote counts."

Voters were being asked to cast ballots to say 'yes' or 'no' to the entire package of nine changes. Preliminary results will be announced Sunday.

A "yes" vote would allow parliamentary and presidential elections to be held later this year or early in the next. A "no" vote could force the military to extend the six-month deadline it has set for the handover of power to an elected civilian government.

"My vote today will make a difference. It's as simple as that," first-time voter Hossam Bishay, 48, said as he waited in line with about 300 others outside a polling center in Cairo's upscale Zamalek district.

The center was guarded by six police officers and one from the army.

State television showed footage of similarly long lines in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city, and elsewhere in the country.

More than half of Egypt's 80 million people are eligible voters and the military, in a bid to get the vote out, has decreed that they would be allowed to cast their ballots at any polling center in the country with their national ID cards - issued to those 18 and older - as the only required proof of identity.

Egyptian elections have for decades been defined by widespread fraud designed to ensure victory for the regime.

Lack of faith in the process, along with violence and intimidation, have kept most voters away. But the trust in the system appears to have come back.

"I am very excited to be doing this," Alaa al-Sharqawy, an engineering lecturer, said as he was about to cast his vote in Cairo. "It's true that the amendments have polarized us, but I am glad we are voting."

The constitutional amendments drawn up by a panel of military-appointed legal scholars are intended to bring just enough change to the current constitution - which the military suspended after coming to power - to ensure that upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections are free and fair.

They would open the elections to independent and opposition candidates and restore full judicial supervision of votes, a measure seen as key to preventing fraud.

They would also limit presidents to two four-year terms, and curtail 30-year-old emergency laws that give police near-unlimited powers.

Critics have used social networks and full-page ads in newspapers to argue that the entire constitution must be scrapped and a new one drawn up to guarantee that Egypt is spared future dictators.

Egypt has been ruled by men of military backgrounds since 1952 and the current constitution outlines a system that puts overwhelming power in the hands of the president.

The critics also say elections this year will overwhelm the dozens of new political parties born out of the Jan. 25-Feb. 11 uprising and give unfair advantage to Mubarak's National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood, the two largest and best organized political forces in the country.

Leading the "no" campaign are two likely presidential candidates - Nobel Peace laureate and former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa, the current secretary general of the Arab League and former foreign minister.

ElBaradei told a conference in New Delhi on Friday that Egyptians should vote against the constitutional amendments, saying that after decades of repression the newly formed political parties in Egypt should be given time to prepare for future parliamentary elections.

"This is a truly democratic process," Moussa told reporters after he voted in Cairo.

The Muslim Brotherhood has strongly campaigned for the adoption of the changes, a position that has set it apart from almost all other political groups in the country. The Brotherhood advocates the installment of an Islamic government in Egypt and the ambivalence of its position on the role of women and minority Christians worry large segments of society.

Fearing a growing political role, if not outright domination, by the Brotherhood, the overwhelming majority of Egypt's Christians were expected to vote "no" on Saturday. Comprising 10 percent of the population, the Christians complain of institutional discrimination and have recently stepped up their campaign for equal rights. They fear that their quest for equal rights would suffer a serious setback if the Brotherhood gains influence in post-Mubarak Egypt.

"If the Brotherhood comes to power, they will not benefit anyone, Muslims or Christians," said Fawziya Lamie, a 39-year-old Christian nanny after casting a "no" vote in the Cairo district of Manial.


15) Japan Confirms High Radiation in Spinach and Milk Near Nuclear Plant
March 19, 2011

TOKYO - The government said Saturday that it had found higher than normal levels of radioactive materials in spinach and milk at farms near the ravaged nuclear power plants, the first confirmation by officials that the nuclear crisis unfolding at power plants nearby has affected the nation's food supply.

While officials downplayed the immediate risks to consumers, the findings are likely to further unsettle a nation worried about the long-term effects of the damaged nuclear power plants. The crisis, which has entered its second week, has caused alarm in some countries that fallout from Japan might reach their shores.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, with help from the Japan Self-Defense Force, police and firefighters, continued efforts to cool the damaged reactors on Saturday. About 500 workers from the utility connected a transmission line almost a mile long to Reactor No. 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Station. They hope to restart a cooling system there on Sunday.

Restoring power at the reactor could provide a glimmer of hope after days of increasingly dire news that now includes contaminated food. Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said that spinach and milk were the only two products that were found with abnormally high levels of radioactive materials. The newly discovered radioactivity contained in the average amount of spinach and milk consumed during an entire year would be equal to the amount received in a single CAT scan.

"These levels do not pose an immediate threat to your health," Mr. Edano said, adding that the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry would provide additional details. "Please stay calm."

The government is considering conducting more comprehensive tests of agricultural products from areas further away from the damaged reactors to address public anxiety about the country's food supply, he said.

Food safety inspectors said that the amount of iodine-131 found in the tested milk was five times higher than levels deemed safe. They said that the iodine found in the spinach was more than seven times higher. The spinach also contained slightly higher amounts of cesium-137.

Iodine-131 and cesium-137 are two of the more dangerous elements that are feared to have been released from the plants in Fukushima. Iodine-131 can be dangerous to human health, especially if absorbed through milk and milk products, because it can accumulate in the thyroid and cause cancer. Cesium-137 can damage cells and lead to an increased risk of cancer.

Health inspectors are still trying to determine whether any spinach had been shipped from the six farms in Ibaraki Prefecture where the contaminated produce was found, according to Taku Ohara, an official in the food safety division of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. No contaminated milk had been shipped from the three farms where higher than normal radioactive levels had been detected.

Mr. Ohara said that Japan is particularly strict in determining what constitutes safe radioactive levels. It is also fastidious in inspecting food imported from China and other countries. Leafy spinach is especially susceptible to absorbing radioactive material, Mr. Ohara said.

Asparagus, cucumbers, radish, tomatoes and other vegetables are also grown in Fukushima, but have not been found to be contaminated. However, only a small number of farms have been tested because officials have been overwhelmed in the wake of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear crisis that followed, Mr. Ohara said.

The government has not banned shipments of milk or spinach from the affected areas, but it would further study the issue, Mr. Edano said. The milk that contained higher levels of radioactive material was tested at farms about 19 miles from the hobbled nuclear plants in Fukushima Prefecture. The spinach was found in Ibaraki Prefecture farther south.

Though land-poor Japan imports much of the fruit, grain and soybeans that it consumes, 79 percent of the vegetables eaten here are grown domestically. Japan is the largest net importer of food in the world.

A handful of vegetable shop owners in Tokyo interviewed on Saturday said they were concerned about the impact of the nuclear crisis on their supplies, but they continued to sell vegetables from Fukushima and Ibaraki because they have not been told otherwise.

However, the news of the contamination had an immediate impact on consumers. Katsuko Sato, 76, said she would stop buying spinach and, after watching Mr. Edano's news conference, she called her family and friends to urge them not to, either.

"Everything that we are going through now is a lot scarier than the bombing attacks during World War II," she said. "I'm not going to believe the government because I don't think only spinach from Ibaraki will be affected."

There have been no reports of contaminated fish or meat.

Many of the ports, fleets and processing facilities in Tohoku, the area most affected by the tsunami and nuclear crisis, were so badly damaged that no fish or seafood has reached Tsukiji market in central Tokyo, according to the market's general manager, Tsutomo Kosaka. The market handles 90 percent of the seafood for about 40 million consumers in the greater Tokyo area.

Japan's leading producers of premium beef, including the world-famous Kobe brand, said Saturday that they had not yet tested their cattle or feed. But they were nervous about the possible spread of radiation from Fukushima.

"Even though the government hasn't mentioned the possibility of contamination of beef, we should start testing to convince people the beef is safe," said Hiroshi Uchida, a former professor of agriculture who is director of the national cattle museum in Iwate Prefecture, about 150 miles north of the damaged reactors in Fukushima. "We need scientific proof and hard data to protect the beef brand."

While only spinach and milk were found to have radioactive materials above established limits, some countries have been testing food imports from Japan since the day after the quake and tsunami. In Hong Kong, for instance, 216 Japanese products passed food-quality screenings, including meat, fish, fruits and vegetables.

In Japan, the damage to the reactors has reduced the electricity supply in the greater Tokyo region, leading to rolling blackouts that have slowed business activity.

The government is rushing to find a way to cool the damaged reactors in Fukushima to prevent a full-scale meltdown. In a news conference on Saturday, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said that temperatures outside the four hobbled nuclear reactors in Fukushima were lower than expected, but he was unable to confirm how hot it was inside the damaged buildings, leaving open the possibility that nuclear fuel may still be overheating.

Temperatures were below 212 degrees Fahrenheit based on readings taken by firefighters from the Self-Defense Force that drove trucks with water cannons to within about 60 feet of the No. 3 reactor on Friday.

Mr. Kitazawa said that the temperature readings had increased hopes that the nuclear fuel could be kept cool through further efforts to spray the reactors with water, while technicians worked on restoring power to the cooling systems.

"What we are ultimately working toward is getting to a point where water is continuously pouring into the reactors," he said, adding that engineers were also working to find a way to assess water levels inside the reactors, which were currently unapproachable by workers because of high levels of radiation.

The National Police Agency said on Saturday that there were nearly 7,200 confirmed deaths so far because of the earthquake and tsunami last week, and nearly 11,000 people remained missing. Authorities have said they expect the final death toll to exceed 10,000.

Mark McDonald and Ayasa Aizawa contributed reporting.


16) Trade Unions in City Confront a Rise in Nonunion Projects
March 18, 2011

A luxury apartment building is rising at 23rd Street and 10th Avenue, and, across town, one is being created inside an old Salvation Army building overlooking Gramercy Park. Other residential buildings and hotels are going up on 11th Avenue, West 18th Street and East 23rd Street.

All are signs that New York City's real estate industry is clawing out of the recession. But they are noteworthy for another reason: they are being constructed without any union labor.

For most of the last century, the city's construction unions were a symbol of labor strength in a pro-labor town, and their involvement in large projects was almost never in doubt. But just as public employees' unions across the country are in the fights of their lives, the city's major building unions are facing their own moment of reckoning.

While they are still a major presence, their share of the city's $20 billion to $30 billion in annual construction work has dropped significantly in recent years. There are no official statistics; according to unionized construction companies, two out of five construction jobs in the city are now nonunion, though unions put the number at one in four. All agree that for many years, at least 85 percent of building jobs were union ones.

And the companies and unions are about to enter what may be their most tense contract negotiations in years, with the employers demanding large concessions and already angering labor leaders by taking their campaign directly to the workers with a Web site and in small group meetings around the city; subway ads may also be forthcoming.

"There's enough pressure on everybody," said Bobby Bonanza, business manager for the Mason Tenders District Council, which represents about 13,000 workers affected by the contracts. "We don't need another Wisconsin in this town."

The employers have backed off an initial demand for wage cuts, but they are still aiming for a 25 percent cut in labor costs, by reducing benefits and changing some work rules. They say these changes would allow them to better compete with nonunionized companies, which are winning jobs from developers because their costs are 20 to 30 percent cheaper.

"A combination of market erosion and the recession has permanently changed the financial structure of real estate in New York City," said Louis J. Coletti, president of the Building Trades Employers' Association. "This is not about a race to the bottom. It's about our common enemy: nonunion contractors."

All told, the negotiations involve 30 different unions and as many as 60,000 steamfitters, ironworkers, crane operators, laborers and carpenters. Union leaders say they have made numerous concessions since the recession started, including wage freezes on non-Manhattan projects, that have reduced overall labor costs by as much as 20 percent. But, they say, employers are now trying to increase profits by cutting benefits and exaggerating the loss of market share at a time when the national political climate has turned against unions.

Not so long ago, starting a large construction job, particularly in Manhattan, with nonunion labor was considered a provocation likely to ignite a pitched battle with carpenters, ironworkers and laborers intent on closing down the job. But during the building boom of the late 1990s and most of the last decade, there was enough work to go around that union workers were not terribly bothered if some jobs went nonunion.

But as the cost of land and construction materials skyrocketed, some developers began to become more cost-conscious and began looking for savings in labor costs, particularly by choosing cheaper nonunionized contractors. And lenders began to scrutinize costs more closely.

The unions and unionized employers argue that union laborers are more skilled and safer than nonunion laborers, and that it is far easier to mobilize large numbers of workers when they are organized. But over the last few years, nonunion construction companies like Flintlock became skilled in putting up midsize 10- to 30-story buildings, the kind of building where, along with interior finishing and renovation, the unions have been losing most of their market share.

Unionized contractors still have a lock on megaprojects like big office towers, including those under construction at the World Trade Center. But union leaders, construction executives and developers are closely watching a project in Long Island City, Queens, where H. Henry Elghanayan, a residential developer whose company traditionally uses union contractors, is expected to select a nonunion outfit to build a large complex with 700 apartments.

"If traditional construction managers that stuck with the unions start losing nine-figure jobs," said one executive of a union contractor, who refused to be named so as not to further anger the unions, "that's a game changer."

Mr. Elghanayan said in an interview that he had yet to select a contractor. But, he added, "Everyone's pressing to get total development costs down."

David Von Spreckelsen, vice president of Toll Brothers, said his company built the first of two towers at its Northside Piers project in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with union contractors. But as construction costs escalated in 2008, Toll Brothers turned to a nonunion contractor for the second tower, prompting unions to protest with five giant inflatable rats. The company now has three apartment buildings under construction in Manhattan with nonunion labor.

And this week, the developer of the Atlantic Yards megaproject in Brooklyn said it was seriously considering using a prefabricated method to build its residential high-rise. While most of the workers would be unionized, there would be fewer of them and they would earn less money because much of the labor would be done in a factory, where wage scales are lower than on the site.

The construction unions have long been the backbone of the city's blue-collar middle class. A journeyman carpenter, for example, is now paid $46 an hour, with health, pension and other benefits bringing the total cost to $85. The total compensation for mason tenders, a less skilled position, is $58.

"We make a good salary, probably more than most office workers," said Marc Spring, a union plumber for 25 years whose father was a union plumber for 40 years. "But we work harder than they do, out in the elements."

Mr. Spring acknowledged that "times were tough," one reason that his local had already made concessions. Still, Mr. Spring said, he resents the constant talk of givebacks. "I don't see how the developers aren't making money," he said.

Besides some benefit reductions, the employers want changes in some decades-old work rules, beginning with overtime. Workers now earn double pay for overtime; the construction companies want to reduce it to time and a half.

On most jobs, the workday starts when workers arrive at ground level, but on large jobs with many men sharing a hoist, it can take another half-hour to reach the actual work site on a high floor, and another half-hour to descend at the end of the day. Employers are proposing that workers be paid only from the time they reach their station to the time they leave it, and some unions have already agreed to this change.

They also want to end a requirement by the operating engineers, who operate cranes, bulldozers and other heavy equipment, that three workers be in place to work even when only one is needed. Although they are a tiny fraction of the work force, they are the highest-paid, often earning well over $200,000 a year, including overtime.

James Conway, an official of Local 14 of the Operating Engineers, declined to comment.

The employers, however, are wary of pressing too hard, because a strike by just one union could be enough to shut down many of the city's major construction projects.

And despite the animosity among the unions and their employers, Ruth Milkman, a sociology professor at the CUNY Graduate Center who studies unions, said they have an important common ground. "Once you allow nonunion, lower-cost bidders to undercut the unions, it threatens everybody," Professor Milkman said. "So there is a mutual interest at work here."


17) Another Role for Buses in Civil Rights History
March 18, 2011

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Get people talking about civil rights-era buses and it's all Rosa Parks all the time.

Museums are dedicated to her role in the boycott in the mid-1950s that forced Montgomery to stop banishing African-Americans to the back of city buses. Schools and stamps bear her name. There is a Rosa Parks cookie jar and a Rosa Parks app.

But no one talks much about Worcy Crawford, who died in July at age 90, leaving a graveyard of decaying buses behind his house on the outskirts of Birmingham.

His private coaches, all of them tended by Mr. Crawford almost until the day he died, do not have the panache of the city buses that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. refused to ride. But they have significance nonetheless.

With their cracked windows and rusting engines thick with brambles, they are remnants of something that was quite rare in the South: a bus company owned by an African-American.

Mr. Crawford's work was simple. He kept a segregated population moving. Any Birmingham child who needed a ride to school, a football game or a Girl Scout outing during the Jim Crow era and beyond most likely rode one.

So did people heading to dozens of civil rights rallies - including the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech - during a time when chartering a bus from a white-owned company was impossible and driving past the city limits was dangerous for a busload full of African-Americans.

Now, Mr. Crawford's only remaining child is trying to keep his father's much more humble dream alive.

"Dad felt he was never really given any recognition," said Donald Crawford, 62, a longtime Birmingham high school band instructor and jazz musician. "I don't think they intentionally left him out of the history books, but because he operated so under the radar they didn't know what he did."

To try to make things right, his son sat Mr. Crawford down a few years ago and recorded his story, turning it into a self-published book. He titled it "The Wheels of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement," which is what a pastor called Mr. Crawford at an appreciation the community held for him in 1999.

It is sold at a local black-owned bookstore (though the digitally inclined can find it on or from the trunk of Donald Crawford's car. He thought about sending a copy to Oprah Winfrey, but his cousin in Chicago said she thought it was unlikely to reach her.

Copies made their way to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where curators store Mr. Crawford's oral history.

That is about where formal interest in Mr. Crawford ends. But like people who ran the grocery stores and doctors' offices and other essential businesses in the era when blacks were not allowed to mix with whites, Mr. Crawford was an essential part of daily life for black Birmingham.

"This is the only bus company that we had in the days of the segregationist era," said Horace Huntley, who recently retired as a professor of African-American history at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and was a board member at the institute.

"Knowing the width and depth of segregation, this is something that was very, very necessary if black people were to move from point A to point B in any semblance of numbers," Dr. Huntley said. "The importance of it goes without saying."

Mr. Crawford's first job in the transportation business was taking the popular Ensley All-Stars black baseball team to games around the South in a truck he used to haul coal. He traded the truck for a bus in 1951.

"As far as I knew I was the only black person that had a bus," he told his son.

That he could start a bus line occurred to him when his mother-in-law asked him to take her and her church friends to a Seventh-day Adventist convention.

He added another bus and started transporting other church and school groups, sometimes free. But when he went to the county clerk's office for a commercial license, city officials used a racial slur and laughed him out of the office.

Mr. Crawford figured out that if he "sold" his buses to churches in name only, he could get a special permit and operate a commercial line in a kind of legal gray area. It was cheaper, and he did not have to pay taxes.

"This was the one time racism really worked in my favor," he said in the book.

His bus line grew, and Jim Crow laws faded. Mr. Crawford's drivers started taking weekend partiers to New Orleans, Panama City, Fla., and other cities. Eventually, the company was cited for improper permits and other violations.

In 1979, after a series of legal hearings and protests from established interstate bus companies, he got his interstate commercial permit, according to interviews he gave.

"Didn't nobody know who I was," Worcy Crawford told The Birmingham News in an interview a few years before he died. "And to this day some people still don't know who I am. I say that's the way the Lord planned it."

Today, 18 of Mr. Crawford's buses sit in various states of repair on a grassy lot behind his house. Family members still charter two newer coaches, keeping his legacy alive. The others are being sold for parts or kept for reasons of nostalgia.

One of them, a tan GMC bus built in 1958, is nicknamed the Rosa Parks.


18) Radiation Plume Reaches U.S., but Is Said to Pose No Risk
March 18, 2011

Faint traces of very low levels of radiation from the stricken nuclear complex in Japan have been detected in Sacramento, European officials reported Friday, bringing the distant atomic crisis to American shores for the first time.

The readings, picked up by highly sensitive detectors set up to monitor clandestine nuclear blasts, were the first solid evidence of the leading edge of a long radioactive plume that has drifted slowly across the Pacific with the prevailing winds over the past week and has now reached the continental United States.

Health experts said the plume's radiation had been diluted enormously in its journey across thousands of miles and - at least for now, with concentrations very low - would have no health consequences in the United States. In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster spread around the globe and reached the West Coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels detectable but minuscule.

Late Friday, the Department of Energy confirmed the European statements about the arrival of the radioactive plume in Sacramento, saying the federal station there detected "minuscule quantities" of radiation that posed no health hazard.

But the Obama administration's initial reluctance to release its own radiation information and the haphazard way that thereadings came dribbling out of Europe first - not the United States - raised questions about whether American officials were being as forthcoming as they had pressed the Japanese to be.

Throughout the nuclear crisis, Japanese officials have been accused of withholding information and understating the severity of the risks. But on Friday, pressure mounted on the Obama administration to release information it has gathered on the radiation coming from Japan, with six environmental and watchdog groups sending the White House a letter calling for "transparency on the part of the government."

In many respects, the plume underscores the lack of a global system for monitoring nuclear emergencies and making the results public. European officials said the system was designed to be hugely sensitive to detect cheaters trying to develop clandestine nuclear arms - but not radioactive plumes from commercial reactor failures, which are easier to detect.

"What we can measure is almost a single atom, which has absolutely no danger" for human health, said Lars-Erik De Geer, research director of the Swedish Defense Research Agency, a part of the monitoring system. "It has to be very sensitive because we are looking for people who are trying to hide the testing of weapons."

The Sacramento readings were made on Air Force equipment shared with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, an arm of the United Nations in Vienna. Its mandate is to monitor the global ban on the testing of nuclear arms.

The United Nations agency has more than 60 stations that sniff for radiation spikes and uses weather forecasts and powerful computers to model the transport of radiation on the winds.

Earlier this week, its scientists forecast the plume's arrival in the continental United States around the end of this week.

European officials said that - outside of Japan - its global network of detectors first picked up the presence of the Japanese plume at a station on the Kamchatka Peninsula, in Russia. Then, on Friday, they said, the station in Sacramento began to register the faint radiation. The government declined to release further details.

In both cases, officials said, the detectors found minuscule levels of iodine-131 and cesium-137 - highly dangerous byproducts of reactor operation that in large amounts can cause cancer. The measured levels are judged to be many millions of times lower than concentrations that would pose a danger to human health.

Experts tracking the plume said it would continue to drift east and might arrive in the New York region early next week.

By definition, the current measurements are tracking relatively old radiation that was released into the atmosphere at the start of the Japanese crisis. It began on March 11 when an offshore earthquake with a magnitude now estimated at 9.0 shook the reactor complex. A tsunami rolled into northeast Japan minutes later, swamping six reactors lined up along the coastline.

As the crisis has worsened, the releases of radiation into the atmosphere have increased. So it seems inevitable that the concentrations of radiation in the plume will grow - though still, health experts say, posing no health risk in the United States.

"We're monitoring the situation," said Mike Sicilia, a spokesperson in Sacramento for the California Department of Public Health. But he emphasized that no danger was anticipated.

"All data from state and federal sources," he said, "show that harmful levels of radiation won't reach California."

In brief remarks at the White House on Thursday, President Obama said he knew Americans were worrying about radiation drifting across the Pacific. "So I want to be very clear," he said. "We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it's the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska or U.S. territories."

But environmental and watchdog groups cited a growing anxiety in the United States and complained of a lack of adequate information from American officials.

"The U.S. government clearly has information that the public has a right and need to know," Damon Moglen, climate and energy director at Friends of the Earth, said in a statement.

He called federal insights into the nature of the Japanese radiation "critically important" for the Japanese people, Americans in Japan and "those here at home who are anxious that dangerous radiation may creep towards our shores."

The California readings were made by an arm of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, an institution of the cold war that monitors for signs of clandestine nuclear tests. Its unit in suburban Sacramento, northeast of the city, has radiation detectors set up at Camp Kohler, near the former McClellan Air Force Base.

In addition to serving the United States government, the unit feeds new readings into the international data system of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, which has 120 member states that share the monitoring insights.

Although the legal mandate of the organization is to scan the globe for clandestine bomb blasts - not reactor accidents - its officials recently decided to start sharing its data more widely in an effort to help international authorities struggling with the Japanese crisis.

In a statement on Friday, the Vienna group said it began sharing the monitoring information Friday with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization. The organization said it was "responding to respective requests" from the two groups that it received Thursday for help in "assessing the situation."


19) Japan Crisis Could Rekindle U.S. Antinuclear Movement
March 18, 2011

In 1973, vexed by an Arab oil embargo and soaring fuel prices, President Richard M. Nixon championed a long-term solution: to have 1,000 nuclear reactors in place in America by the year 2000 as part of a national energy independence plan.

That never came to pass: 104 nuclear reactors operate today, compared with 40 then. The last permit for construction of what became a fully operational nuclear plant was issued in 1978.

The main obstacles to the industry's growth were huge cost overruns linked to regulatory changes, and shifts in demand for electricity, although the Three Mile Island accident of 1979, litigation and the 1970s and '80s antinuclear movement also played a big role.

Today, activists who figured prominently in the movement's teach-ins and protest rallies are hoping that Japan's nuclear crisis will rekindle a protest movement in the United States. Their aim, they say, is not just to block the Obama administration's push for new nuclear construction, but to convince Americans that existing plants pose dangers.

"I look at Japan and think this could very possibly be us," said the musician Graham Nash, who with the group Crosby, Stills and Nash took part in the 1979 No Nukes concerts and a rally that drew nearly a quarter of a million people to the tip of Manhattan. James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, John Hall, Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen were also on the bill for the events, which came months after a partial core meltdown at Three Mile Island.

It was the peak of the antinuclear movement, and campaigners felt that policymakers were finally awakening to their message. "The circumstances all came together - it was like energetic waves converging, and it was pretty powerful," Mr. Nash said. "There has not been a nuclear plant built since."

Since a tsunami knocked out power at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station last week, leading to explosions and a desperate battle to cool reactors and spent fuel rods, more Americans seem to be rethinking their position on nuclear power, said John Hall, a former member of the band Orleans who helped organize the concert and was, until recently, a congressman representing a district in upstate New York.

"I see it in e-mails, Web postings and conversations with friend and neighbors," he said.

Paul Gunter, the director of the reactor oversight project at the advocacy group Beyond Nuclear, said a protest vigil planned for Sunday at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant could prove a test case. The reactor, whose troubles in recent years have included the collapse of a cooling tower and leaks of radioactive tritium from underground pipes, is a near twin of Unit No. 1 at the troubled Daiichi nuclear station. The State of Vermont argues that the plant is unreliable.

"Sunday will be the first indicator of the depth of the public mood," Mr. Gunter said of the protest. Just before the earthquake and tsunami in Japan hit, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted to reject all challenges to extending the operating license of the Vermont Yankee plantder.

The movement against nuclear power in this country goes back almost as far as the industry itself. The United Auto Workers opposed construction of the Fermi 1 plant outside Detroit as early as 1957. While it was eventually built, proposed plants in Queens, N.Y., and outside San Francisco were blocked by local protests in the next decade.

The movement grew in the 1970s as proposals for new plants multiplied and local opposition groups emerged. Sometimes the protests succeeded only in part. The Clamshell Alliance, for example, campaigned to block the construction of Seabrook Station in New Hampshire, part of which was eventually built and began operating. Half of the proposed plan was shelved.

Harvey Wasserman, the editor of, helped organized some of the protests and at one point was arrested outside the Seabrook plant. He attributes the movement's broad appeal to its peaceful tactics.

"This is a terrible time for those of us who've been fighting nukes all these years," he said of the crisis in Japan. "We're way too familiar with the tangible toll these releases in Japan will take on the people of the area and the workers at the plant."

Although protests continued in the United States and Europe throughout the 1980s, particularly after the Chernobyl accident in Russia in 1986, the movement may have become a victim of nuclear plant construction's decline.

As part of his plan to rein in the greenhouse gas emissions however, President Obama has billed nuclear power as a clean energy alternative and enabled loan guarantees begin flowing for new plants. Such construction also has support among many Republicans in the newly elected House, although some have moved to strip subsidies for renewable fuels like solar and wind power from the 2012 budget.

After Mr. Obama took office, some environmental groups seemed to be tipping toward cautious support for nuclear power. But that was stilled last week.

Meanwhile, some of the musicians who were central to the movement in its early days are thinking of enlisting younger performers in the campaign. "I was in contact with Bonnie about getting some new bands involved," Mr. Nash said. "We had a lot of energy back then, but it gets wearing to see the same old groups after a while."

Matthew L. Wald contributed reporting from Washington.