Saturday, March 26, 2011



Organized by San Francisco Labor Council.
For more information call: 415-440-4809
Visit: Visit
Details to follow.


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.




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.


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Demonstrate March 26 for an Alternative to cuts -- UK
The March for the Alternative is taking place in central London on Saturday 26 March. The march will form up from 11am on the Victoria Embankment between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges and proceed through central London until reaching Hyde Park, where the rally will start from around 1.30pm. This site provides more information and resources for the day.

March 26, 2011
by cuts reporting

Hundreds of thousands of people are marching through central London today. The demontrators are protesting against government austerity measures which force the bulk of the population, and especially public sector workers, to pay for the economic crisis which erupted out of the banking sector two years ago.

Most of the demonstrators - trade unionists, families, and people against the austerity measures - will take part in the officially-sanctioned TUC demonstration. In addition, many groups have signaled their willingness to do more than march, with protest actions being called for by multiple groups. Fast-moving direct action groups are currently moving through London's West End, the high-class shopping district.

5pm Update: Samba band in picadilly circus. Cops ordered to put helmets on. Police vans moved out of the circus, as the police report 4 police officers injured. 13 people arrested for criminal damage and public order offences. The Guardian is reporting kettling in Fortnum and Masons worse places to be kettled given the sell hampers... Strong street party is going on outside Fortnum & Masons with a sound system. Police trying to keep the crowd back, having skirmishes at the edges of the crowd. At least 150 have managed to get into the shop hanging out UK Uncut and Anarchist flags out of the first floor windows.
Reports that the trojan horse is on fire in the middle of Oxford Circus as prosters march away with a large sound system.


SUNDAY, MARCH 27, 2011, 11:00 A.M.
Centro del Pueblo
474 Valencia Street
(Between 15th and 16th Streets, San Francisco)

The demonstration Saturday, March 19 marking the eighth anniversary of the war on Iraq at U.N. Plaza, sponsored by ANSWER, in San Francisco, took place in spite of the pouring rain. It was amazing to see so many people brave this torrent of wet weather--about 1800 people in all--who gathered to protest the wars at home and abroad.

We have to continue our fight and keep the pressure ongoing and building. Please come to the UNAC meeting Sunday, March 27 at 11L00 A.M. to build for another bi-coastal demonstration on April 10th in San Francisco and April 9th in New York. Our goal is to build an ongoing movement to oppose the wars and plan more actions against them. Please join us.


Organized by San Francisco Labor Council.
For more information call: 415-440-4809
Visit: Visit
Details to follow.

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


Atomic Mom at the Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival
Atomic Mom, a feature length documentary by M.T. Silvia, will screen on Saturday, April 9th @ 7:30pm at the Roxie Theater at 3117 16th Street San Francisco, CA 94103 in the San Francisco International Women's Film Festival.
Media Contact:
M.T. Silvia

Atomic Mom weaves an intimate portrait of a complex mother-daughter relationship within an obscure - but important - moment in American history.

As the only female scientist present during atomic detonations in the Nevada desert, Pauline Silvia, the filmmaker's mother, undergoes a crisis of conscience. After a long silence and prompted by her daughter, she finally reveals grim secrets of working in the U.S. atomic testing program.

In our present moment of Wikileaks, Pauline is a similar whistle-blower having been cowed by the silencing machine of the US military for decades. In an attempt to reconcile with her own mother's past, her daughter, filmmaker M.T. Silvia, meets Emiko Okada, a Hiroshima survivor trying to reconcile her own history in Japan. The film follows these survivors, each on a different end of atomic warfare, as they "meet" through the filmmaking process, and as they, with startling honestly, attempt to understand the other.

With the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the footage of the devastation is hauntingly familiar to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As Japan experiences its second nuclear crisis, Atomic Mom illustrates how we are all downwind of this story.

Atomic Mom invites viewers to confront American nuclear history in a completely new way and will inspire dialogue about human rights, personal responsibility, and the possibility - and hope - of peace.

More info at

M.T. Silvia is an independent filmmaker. Her first documentary Picardy Drive (2002, Documentary, 57min) aired on KQED's ImageMaker series, FreeSpeechTV and airs yearly during the holidays on Oakland's KTOP. She has worked professionally in the film industry for over twenty years at both Skywalker Sound and Pixar Animation Studios. Among many mainstream film and CD credits, she has also worked on several independent films.


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]


Chernobyl 25 years on -- The Big Cover-Up


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 !


'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!


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


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.



'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.




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


Did You Know?


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


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





San Francisco Health Center/PLANNED PARENTHOOD - San Francisco, CA
1650 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110



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


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) Egyptian women protesters forced to take 'virginity tests'
Women were often at the forefront of the recent demonstrations in Egypt
Amnesty International
March 23, 2011

2) Thousands March in Syria Amid Violent Crackdown
March 24, 2011

3) NATO Airstrike Accidentally Kills 2 Civilians
March 24, 2011

4) Yemen's Youth Leaders Set Out Their Demands
March 24, 2011

5) States Pass Budget Pain to Cities
"And it is not only Republicans who are cutting aid to cities: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, decided not to restore $302 million in aid to New York City that was cut last year, while Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, another Democrat, has called for cutting local aid to Boston and other cities by some $65 million."
March 23, 2011

6) Soldier Gets 24 Years for Killing 3 Afghan Civilians
March 23, 2011

by Ralph Schoenman and Finian Cunningham
March 24, 2011
Via Email

8) Japan Encourages a Wider Evacuation From Reactor Area
"Two workers were burned when water poured over the top of their boots and down around their feet and ankles, Linda Gunter, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo Electric Power Company, said. She said workers on an earlier shift had no problem with low boots, but the water rose between shifts and the injured workers were unprepared for the deeper water. A third worker was wearing higher boots and did not suffer the same exposure. Like the injured workers, many of those risking their lives are subcontractors of Tokyo Electric, paid a small daily wage for hours of work in dangerous conditions. In some cases they are poorly equipped and trained for their task. A Japanese physicist, who asked not to be identified so as not to damage his relations with the establishment, said it was "ridiculous" that the workers had not been wearing full protective gear. The National Institue of Radiological Sciences said that 3.9 million becquerels per square centimeter of radiation had been detected in the water that the three workers stepped in - 10,000 times the level normally seen in coolant water at the plant."
March 25, 2011

9) Syrian Troops Open Fire on Protesters in Several Cities
March 25, 2011

10) Bahrain Forces Quash Small Protests in 'Day of Rage'
March 25, 2011

11) Rules Faulted For Poor Data On Failures At Reactors
March 24, 2011

12) Georgia: Rally for Immigrants' Rights
March 25, 2011

13) The Message of Labor, Proclaimed Through Song
March 24, 2011

14) G.E.'s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether
March 24, 2011

15) Losing Our Way
"This is my last column for The New York Times after an exhilarating, nearly 18-year run. I'm off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society. My thanks to all the readers who have been so kind to me over the years. I can be reached going forward at"
March 25, 2011

16) Budget Impasse Increasing Risk of U.S. Shutdown
March 25, 2011

17) NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan Kills 7 Civilians, Including 3 Children
March 26, 2011

18) In Syria, Tension and Grief After Protests and Retaliation by Government Forces
March 26, 2011

19) Riot Police in Jordan Clear Camp of Protesters
March 25, 2011

20) U.N.'s Nuclear Chief Says Japan Is 'Far From the End of the Accident'
March 26, 2011

21) Uranium Processor Still Optimistic About Nuclear Industry
March 25, 2011

22) Gold Mines, a City's Pride, Leave Toxic Legacy
"When it rains in the shantytown of Tudor Shaft, the streets pool with orange water that smells like vinegar. Experts say the water contains radioactive minerals and has killed all aquatic life in a nearby river."
March 26, 2011

23) U.S Sets Up Special Prisons For Muslim/Arab Prisoners
By Sherwood Ross
March 26, 2011


1) Egyptian women protesters forced to take 'virginity tests'
Women were often at the forefront of the recent demonstrations in Egypt
Amnesty International
March 23, 2011

Amnesty International has today called on the Egyptian authorities to investigate serious allegations of torture, including forced 'virginity tests', inflicted by the army on women protesters arrested in Tahrir Square earlier this month.

After army officers violently cleared the square of protesters on 9 March, at least 18 women were held in military detention. Amnesty International has been told by women protesters that they were beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers, then forced to submit to 'virginity checks' and threatened with prostitution charges.

'Virginity tests' are a form of torture when they are forced or coerced.

"Forcing women to have 'virginity tests' is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women," said Amnesty International. "All members of the medical profession must refuse to take part in such so-called 'tests'."

20-year-old Salwa Hosseini told Amnesty International that after she was arrested and taken to a military prison in Heikstep, she was made, with the other women, to take off all her clothes to be searched by a female prison guard, in a room with two open doors and a window. During the strip search, Salwa Hosseini said male soldiers were looking into the room and taking pictures of the naked women.

The women were then subjected to 'virginity tests' in a different room by a man in a white coat. They were threatened that "those not found to be virgins" would be charged with prostitution.

According to information received by Amnesty International, one woman who said she was a virgin but whose test supposedly proved otherwise was beaten and given electric shocks.

"Women and girls must be able to express their views on the future of Egypt and protest against the government without being detained, tortured, or subjected to profoundly degrading and discriminatory treatment," said Amnesty International.

"The army officers tried to further humiliate the women by allowing men to watch and photograph what was happening, with the implicit threat that the women could be at further risk of harm if the photographs were made public."

Journalist Rasha Azeb was also detained in Tahrir Square and told Amnesty International that she was handcuffed, beaten and insulted.

Following their arrest, the 18 women were initially taken to a Cairo Museum annex where they were reportedly handcuffed, beaten with sticks and hoses, given electric shocks in the chest and legs, and called "prostitutes".

Rasha Azeb could see and hear the other detained women being tortured by being given electric shocks throughout their detention at the museum. She was released several hours later with four other men who were also journalists, but 17 other women were transferred to the military prison in Heikstep

Testimonies of other women detained at the same time collected by the El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence are consistent with Rasha Azeb and Salwa Hosseini's accounts of beatings, electrocution and 'virginity tests'.

"The Egyptian authorities must halt the shocking and degrading treatment of women protesters. Women fully participated in bringing change in Egypt and should not be punished for their activism," said Amnesty International.

"All security and army forces must be clearly instructed that torture and other ill-treatment, including forced 'virginity tests', will no longer be tolerated, and will be fully investigated. Those found responsible for such acts must be brought to justice and the courageous women who denounced such abuses be protected from reprisals."

All 17 women detained in the military prison were brought before a military court on 11 March and released on 13 March. Several received one-year suspended prison sentences.

Salwa Hosseini was convicted of disorderly conduct, destroying private and public property, obstructing traffic and carrying weapons.

Amnesty International opposes the trial of civilians before military courts in Egypt, which have a track record of unfair trials and where the right to appeal is severely restricted.


2) Thousands March in Syria Amid Violent Crackdown
March 24, 2011

DAMASCUS, Syria - Thousands of demonstrators marched in the southern city of Dara'a on Thursday, despite a major crackdown by Syrian security forces suggesting that leaders here would not tolerate pro-democracy protests like those that have swept other Arab nations.

No violence was reported in the huge marches following the funerals on Thursday. But an assault on the central mosque there early Wednesday, and subsequent attacks by security forces, left an unknown number deaths, some of which appeared to be documented in bloody videos posted on YouTube. An American official who would speak only on background about intelligence reporting said that "about 15 people" were killed by forces of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. Reuters quoted an unnamed hospital official in the city as putting the death toll at 37. Various Web sites were collecting names of those believed to be killed.

Information has trickled out slowly and incompletely from Syria, one of the most closed and repressive nations in the Middle East. But as the death toll from Dara'a crackdown rose, Mr. Assad faced growing international criticism, with Britain, France, Germany and the United Nations condemning the violence.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, speaking during a visit to the Mideast, said the Syrian government should learn from the example of Egypt, where the military played the role of broker during the popular uprising there that toppled the Mubarak government.

"What the Syrian government is confronting is in fact the same challenge that faces so many governments across the region - and that is the unmet political and economic grievances of their people," Mr. Gates said during a news conference at the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Mr. Assad has worked to tamp down the rising anger as protests spread from Dara'a to other towns in the south. On Thursday, a day after the regional governor was fired, Bouthaina Shaaban, an aide to Mr. Assad called the demands of the protesters "justified" and said that "the coming period will witness important decisions on all levels." Ms. Shaaban, speaking to reporters in Damascus, gave to further details.

The crackdown began early on Wednesday after the Syrian Army reinforced the police presence in the city, near the Jordanian border, and confronted a group of protesters who had gathered in and around the Omari mosque in the city center. Activists and news reports said five or six people were killed after the forces tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas and then live ammunition.

Among the dead was Ali al-Mahameed, a doctor, who witnesses said was shot while tending to the injured. At least one person was killed after Dr. Mahameed's funeral on Wednesday afternoon, attended by thousands of people, some of whom tried to return to the city center.

Syrian state television said Wednesday that it was not security forces who that had killed people at the mosque but rather an "armed gang." The broadcast showed guns, grenades, ammunition and money that was said to have been taken from the mosque after a police raid. The report acknowledged four dead.

The official SANA news agency reported that the "gang" had killed a doctor, a medical worker and a driver in an ambulance and "security forces faced down those aggressors and managed to shoot and wound a few of them."

Despite emergency laws that have banned public gatherings for nearly 50 years, protests have grown in the last week in several cities around Syria, one of the most oppressive Arab states. The largest have been in Dara'a, with thousands taking to the streets on Friday and again on Sunday, when protesters burned government buildings and clashed with the police. Several people were reported to have died.

The mosque's imam, Ahmed al-Sayasna, told the news channel Al Arabiya that there were no weapons in the mosque, which he said was under police control.

A video posted on YouTube showed the mosque with a voice coming from the loudspeakers addressing the police: "Who would kill his own people? You are our sons, you are our brother." Armed security forces could be seen running at a distance, amid gun shots and cries for help.

"Streets are full of scores of wounded and many dead, and no one can go to their rescue," a witness said.


3) NATO Airstrike Accidentally Kills 2 Civilians
March 24, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A NATO helicopter gunship inadvertently killed two civilians while attacking suspected insurgents in the eastern province of Khost, NATO announced Thursday.

The attack killed a suspected Haqqani network leader and two other insurgents in Tere Zayi district on Wednesday, according to NATO.

"At the time of the strike, two civilians were walking near the moving targeted vehicle," NATO said. "They were previously unseen by coalition forces prior to the initiation of the airstrike. Unfortunately both were killed as an unintended result of the strike."

Khost provincial police chief Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai said at least one of the civilians was a child.

NATO's initial description of Wednesday's attack said a "precision airstrike" killed the Haqqani leader and two other insurgents while they were driving in a vehicle. That announcement also described how NATO troops nearly missed civilians near the site of the attack.

"Just prior to the weapon impact, an unassociated civilian vehicle and two pedestrians walking in a wadi appeared, next to the target vehicle," NATO said. A wadi is a dry riverbed.

Afghan forces determined that the occupants of the vehicle close to the targeted one were unharmed, NATO said.

Accidental deaths of civilians due to coalition military operations in Afghanistan are a major source of tensions between Afghans and NATO. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates personally apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai after NATO troops in a helicopter gunship misidentified nine children gathering firewood for insurgents and killed them. The killing sparked protests throughout the country and calls for the international force to cease airstrikes and night raids.

At least 2,777 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2010, a 15 percent increase over the prior year, according to a recent United Nations report. The insurgency was blamed for most of those deaths, and while civilian deaths attributed to NATO troops declined 21 percent in 2010, Afghan leaders say the number remains too high.

Also Thursday, Britain's defense ministry said two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense said the soldiers had just completed an operation with the Afghan National Army and the Danish Battle Group to disrupt insurgent activity and search compounds in the Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand province.

The soldiers were returning to their own camp when their vehicle was hit by an explosion Wednesday. Both members of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards were due to return home in six days.

The soldiers were not identified but the ministry said their families had been informed.

The deaths bring to 362 the number of British forces and civilian defense workers killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

International forces have been fighting pitched battles for control of the southern part of the country, which is a key Taliban stronghold.

The latest deaths also bring to 25 the number of coalition service members who have died in Afghanistan so far this month.

(This version CORRECTS the number of NATO service members killed so far this month to 25.)


4) Yemen's Youth Leaders Set Out Their Demands
March 24, 2011

SANAA, Yemen (AP) - The youth groups who began a monthlong uprising said Thursday that they wanted a new constitution and the dissolution of parliament, local councils and Yemen's notorious security agencies in addition to the immediate ouster of the president.

The widening demands appear to reflect the perception that President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime has been badly weakened by weeks of unrelenting protests, and the defection to the opposition of a string of powerful officials including members of the president's inner circle.

The organizers say they are hoping that several million people will turn out for Friday prayers in public squares and follow them with demonstrators against Saleh.

The leaders of the "Civil Coalition for Peaceful Revolution" - an umbrella group for several pro-reform organizations - told a news conference they also wanted to limit future presidents to two, four-year terms in office, and the creation of an interim presidential council of nine civilians to run the country until legislative and presidential elections are held.

The leader of Yemen's largest tribe sided with Saleh's opponents, calling on him to step down immediately and refrain from further violence against protesters.

The decision by the widely respected Sheik Sinan Abu Lohoum, 80, was announced in a statement issued from the United States, where he is receiving medical treatment. It was read to protesters gathered at a central Sanaa square that has become the epicenter of the protests.

Members of Abu Lohoum's immediate family confirmed the authenticity of the statement.

Abu Lohoum's Baqeel tribe is the larger of two that follow the Zaidi offshoot of Shiite Islam. The other - Saleh's own Hashid tribe - has already backed the opposition.

Several senior military commanders, lawmakers, Cabinet ministers, diplomats and provincial governors have also defected to the opposition over the last week.

"Those from the security and military institutions who have joined the youth revolution are most welcome," said one of the youth leaders, Nizar al-Jeneid. "We call on others to follow their example," he added before he warned that anyone among them found to have been corrupt should be held accountable.

Saleh has repeatedly sought to appease the protesters, to no avail.

Over the past month, he has offered not to run again when his current term ends in 2013, then offered this week to step down by the end of the year and open a dialogue with the leaders of the demonstrators.

At the same time, he has stepped up the use of violence. His security forces shot dead more than 40 demonstrators in Sanaa on Friday, but the bloodshed only escalated the defections and hardened the protesters' rejection of anything but his immediate departure.

Yemen's legislature granted Saleh's request for a 30-day state of emergency on Wednesday in a vote the opposition called illegal.

The state of emergency declaration appeared to signal that Saleh intends to dig in and try to crush his opponents. The decree allows media censorship, gives wide powers to censor mail, tap phone lines, search homes and arrest and detain suspects without judicial process.

Opposition parties allied with the youth groups in the protests said Saleh in part wanted the state of emergency as a legal cover for further crackdowns on the protests. Opposition and independent legislators stayed away from Wednesday's parliamentary session along with dozens of lawmakers from Saleh's own ruling party.


5) States Pass Budget Pain to Cities
"And it is not only Republicans who are cutting aid to cities: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, decided not to restore $302 million in aid to New York City that was cut last year, while Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, another Democrat, has called for cutting local aid to Boston and other cities by some $65 million."
March 23, 2011

The state budget squeeze is fast becoming a city budget squeeze, as struggling states around the nation plan deep cuts in aid to cities and local governments that will almost certainly result in more service cuts, layoffs and local tax increases.

The cuts are widespread. Ohio plans to slash aid to Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and other cities and local governments by more than a half-billion dollars over the next two years under the budget proposed last week by its new Republican governor, John R. Kasich. Nebraska passed a law this month eliminating direct state aid to Omaha and other municipalities. The governors of Wisconsin and Michigan have called for sending less money to Milwaukee, Detroit and other local governments.

And it is not only Republicans who are cutting aid to cities: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, decided not to restore $302 million in aid to New York City that was cut last year, while Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, another Democrat, has called for cutting local aid to Boston and other cities by some $65 million.

Some mayors said the proposed cuts could force them to raise local property taxes, even as many homeowners complain that they are already overtaxed. Many are combing through their budgets, looking to wring out more savings where they can. Libraries may close. Garbage collection could be curtailed. Potholes might linger a bit longer. Some warned that they could be forced to lay off more city workers, including police officers and firefighters.

For cities like Cleveland, the proposed cuts in state aid mean that the light at the end of the budgetary tunnel is that much farther off.

"We weathered the storm pretty good when other cities were having huge layoffs, and eliminating or reducing services," Mayor Frank G. Jackson of Cleveland said in an interview. "But the impact of this will force us into that mode."

Mr. Jackson said the city had anticipated a reduction in state aid, estimating a 20 percent dip in its most recent budget. But Governor Kasich's budget proposal would go even deeper: it calls for cutting aid to local governments by a quarter next year, and in half the year after that.

For Cleveland, Mr. Jackson said, that would translate into deficits of $16 million next year and $24 million, or 5 percent of the city's operating budget, the following year. Having spent down the city's reserves to get through the recession, and used up several one-time deals to balance its budgets, Cleveland will have to come up with more money or savings elsewhere.

Other cities in Ohio are struggling as well. In Akron, Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic said the cuts would erode the third-largest source of revenue for the city's general fund. "I fear that, as a result of this reduction, Akron will have no choice but to once again look at layoffs in the biggest part of our budget: police and fire salaries," he said in a statement.

The reductions in state aid, along with falling property tax revenues that are finally catching up with lower home values, are major sources of fiscal stress for many cities. Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, said in a speech this month that "many localities have been hard hit by reductions in state aid, which in 2008 accounted for about 30 percent of local revenues." And Moody's Investors Service, the ratings agency, said in a report last week that many states "are increasingly pushing down their problems to their local governments." The Moody's report warned that this would be "the toughest year for local governments since the economic downturn began."

The cuts are a vivid illustration of a fact of fiscal life: budgetary pain flows downhill. Although state tax collections are finally improving again after the longest and deepest decline on record, they remain well below their prerecession levels. Stimulus money from Washington, which helped keep many states afloat over the last two years, is drying up. So states facing large deficits are proposing cuts in local aid. Ohio's deficit is projected to be $8 billion over the course of its two-year budget - hence Governor Kasich's proposed cuts.

Nebraska did not just reduce local aid, it eliminated it. Much less money was at stake - the law is estimated to save the state $22 million a year - but cities are nonetheless worried about the effects of the cuts. "This year, instead of cutting us all a certain percent, they went after the state aid totally, all 100 percent of it," said Chris Beutler, the mayor of Lincoln. Mr. Beutler said that the cut would cost the city $1.8 million a year and force it to raise property taxes or cut services.

Direct aid represents only a fraction of the money flowing from states to local governments. When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York went to Albany last month, he said that by his count the budget Mr. Cuomo had proposed would reduce aid to the city by $2.1 billion, of which only around $300 million was in the form of direct municipal aid. The rest included a reduction of $1.4 billion to the city's public schools, which in New York City are under the control of the mayor, and $380 million in cuts and cost shifts in social services. Mr. Bloomberg warned that the city would be forced to lay off more workers if the cuts went through.

Chris Hoene, the director of research for the National League of Cities, said that many states eliminated direct aid to cities - used to keep property taxes low, ease disparities among localities and help pay for general government services - after past recessions. Now, he said, most of the coming state cuts will be in the form of cuts to specific programs. Cuts to child health care, mental health programs, libraries or transportation will all have an impact on cities. On top of that, many states also have complex revenue-sharing programs with local governments, and a number of them are proposing to keep more of the money for themselves.

Mr. Hoene said the coming cuts were "a big, scary question mark" hanging over local governments. "Cities have made their estimates, and made cuts based on revenue projections," he said. "The factor that they can't control, and that's concerning for them, is what's going to happen in the deliberations in state legislatures over the next three months."

Local aid cuts can be like squeezing a balloon: states reduce their spending and hold down their taxes, but cities can be forced to increase their spending and raise their taxes. That is one argument being made in Minnesota, where a new Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, has been fighting cuts to local aid proposed by Republican lawmakers. The governor said aid to Minnesota's cities had dropped by 24 percent since 2003 - and that two-thirds of the cuts were passed on to local residents in the form of higher property taxes.

Many governors say they plan to give cities and local governments tools to balance their budgets, some by reducing costly state mandates, some by weakening union protections in their states, some by encouraging cities to consolidate duplicative services. Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, a Republican, is cutting aid to cities, villages and towns for a net savings of $92 million. But he said he would also make $200 million available to cities and towns that "adopt best practices." Detroit and other hard-hit cities are worried about the proposal, though.

"No city in the state has taken such an aggressive approach to such serious structural problems as Detroit," Mayor Dave Bing of Detroit said of the proposal in a recent speech. "Yet no city would be hit harder than us. It threatens the concrete but fragile gains we have made, and we simply cannot afford it."


6) Soldier Gets 24 Years for Killing 3 Afghan Civilians
March 23, 2011

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - A soldier accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport was sentenced Wednesday to 24 years in prison after he pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against other defendants in the case.

Specialist Jeremy N. Morlock, one of five soldiers from an Army Stryker brigade based here who are accused of staging combat situations to kill three civilians in Afghanistan last year, told the military judge presiding over the case, Lt. Col. Kwasi L. Hawks, that the deaths were neither justified nor accidental.

"The plan was to kill people, sir," Specialist Morlock told the judge at the start of a court-martial.

The sentence, plea and agreement to testify followed a deal Specialist Morlock and his lawyers negotiated with prosecutors in January. The military sentencing guidelines for the charges to which he pleaded guilty - including three counts of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder and assault - recommend life in prison, with or without the possibility of parole. His lawyers say he could be eligible for parole in about seven years.

Specialist Morlock, 22, of Wasilla, Alaska, is the first of the five to face a court-martial.

Few new details emerged in the proceeding. Specialist Morlock had already given several interviews to investigators in which he described how members of his unit used grenades and rifles to fake combat situations so they could kill civilians who he said posed no threat.

As part of his plea on Wednesday, Specialist Morlock reasserted claims he had made earlier that another of the accused, a superior, Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs, was the ringleader in the killings. A lawyer for Sergeant Gibbs has said all the killings were in justified combat situations.

The two rows of public seating in the small military courtroom were filled with family and friends of Specialist Morlock's. The hearing included testimony from several of his supporters, including his high school hockey coach, who recalled Specialist Morlock leading his team to the state championship while serving as its captain his senior year.

Specialist Morlock also spoke. He apologized to families of the victims, to "the people of Afghanistan themselves" and to fellow soldiers. He and others referred to his close relationship to his father, a former Army paratrooper who died in a boating accident in Alaska in 2007.

"I violated not only the law but the Army core values, and I also violated the principles my father instilled in me," he said, adding that he had "lost my moral compass."

A lawyer for Specialist Morlock called to the witness stand a sociologist who had reviewed an internal investigation of the Stryker brigade and its former commander, Col. Harry D. Tunnell. The sociologist, Stjepan Mestrovic, said the documents portrayed a "dysfunctional" brigade and command structure that "created an environment that led to these crimes."

Colonel Tunnell was removed from his position last summer, after the investigation into the killings was under way. He could not be reached late Wednesday; he has refused to respond to questions about the brigade in the past. Neither he nor other officers in the brigade have been charged in the killings.

Some soldiers in the case are accused of posing with dead Afghans in photographs and then sharing the pictures with others. The Army, worried the pictures could complicate its efforts in Afghanistan, has put tight restrictions on the images. But this week, the German magazine Der Spiegel published three photographs, including one that appears to show Specialist Morlock smiling as he holds a dead man up by the hair on his head.

Referring to other soldiers in combat zones, Frank Spinner, a lawyer for Specialist Morlock, told reporters, "To the extent his actions have placed their lives in jeopardy, he can only express regret."


by Ralph Schoenman and Finian Cunningham
March 24, 2011
Via Email

Far from being intimidated by the escalating violent rampage unleashed upon an unarmed population by Bahraini authorities and occupying troops, a large turnout is anticipated after Friday prayers tomorrow, March 25. People are determined, despite the grave danger, to confront the crackdown and return to Pearl Square - the centre of resistance to the Royal regime - as they defy the official onslaught in the name of those thousands already killed, wounded and disappeared.

"As I come from my window at 9:30 p.m.," describes Finian Cunningham, "a crescendo of helicopter engines fills the air over Manama. These began shortly after curfew as military helicopters began patrolling over the capital accompanied by gunfire.

"Contacts called in describing rapid firing of live rounds amidst armed attacks in at least five primarily Shia areas of Manama, including Sanabis and Daih. These are being launched by unofficial militia composed of Bahraini army units and amplified by the unofficial State militia known as "Baltijiyah."

These are the ununiformed army of thugs wielding axes, clubs and chains that have been marauding across Bahrain - mobilized now for tomorrow.

The broad consensus is that the government seeks to terrorize and intimidate the population in advance of the anticipated mass outpouring tomorrow. After Friday prayers everyone is prepared to head for the Pearl.

A determined populace braces itself for the harsh reality that the Royal government, together with occupying Saudi and GCC troops, is preparing to shed a great deal of blood tomorrow.

The time for international statements of support for the people of Bahrain and for immediate protests against not only the on-going bloodbath, but its pending escalation, is now!


8) Japan Encourages a Wider Evacuation From Reactor Area
"Two workers were burned when water poured over the top of their boots and down around their feet and ankles, Linda Gunter, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo Electric Power Company, said. She said workers on an earlier shift had no problem with low boots, but the water rose between shifts and the injured workers were unprepared for the deeper water. A third worker was wearing higher boots and did not suffer the same exposure. Like the injured workers, many of those risking their lives are subcontractors of Tokyo Electric, paid a small daily wage for hours of work in dangerous conditions. In some cases they are poorly equipped and trained for their task. A Japanese physicist, who asked not to be identified so as not to damage his relations with the establishment, said it was "ridiculous" that the workers had not been wearing full protective gear. The National Institue of Radiological Sciences said that 3.9 million becquerels per square centimeter of radiation had been detected in the water that the three workers stepped in - 10,000 times the level normally seen in coolant water at the plant."
March 25, 2011

TOKYO - Japanese officials began encouraging people to evacuate a larger swath of territory around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Friday as new signs emerged that parts of the crippled facility are so damaged and contaminated that it will be hard to bring the plant under control soon.

The authorities said that they would now assist people who want to leave the area from 12 to 19 miles outside the plant and that they were now encouraging "voluntary evacuation" from the area. Those people had been advised March 15 to remain indoors, while those within a 12-mile radius of the plant had been ordered to evacuate.

The United States has recommended that its citizens stay at least 50 miles away.

Speaking to a national audience at a news conference Friday night two weeks after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the devastating tsunami that followed it, Prime Minister Naoto Kan dodged a reporter's question about whether the government was ordering a full evacuation, saying officials were simply following the recommendation of the Japan Nuclear Safety Commission.

"The situation still requires caution," Mr. Kan, grave and tired-looking, told the nation. "Our measures are aimed at preventing the circumstances from getting worse."

"The state of the plant is still quite precarious," he said. "We're working hard to make sure it doesn't get worse. We have to ensure there's no further deterioration."

In the latest setback in the effort to contain the nuclear crisis evidence emerged that the reactor vessel of the No. 3 unit may have been damaged, an official said Friday. The development, described at a news conference by Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, raises the possibility that radiation from the mixed oxides or mox fuel in the reactor - a combination of uranium and plutonium - could be released.

One sign that a breach may have occurred in the reactor vessel, Mr. Nishiyama said, took place on Thursday when workers who were trying to connect an electrical cable to a pump in a turbine building next to the reactor were injured when they stepped into water that was found to be significantly more radioactive than normal.

Two workers were burned when water poured over the top of their boots and down around their feet and ankles, Linda Gunter, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo Electric Power Company, said. She said workers on an earlier shift had no problem with low boots, but the water rose between shifts and the injured workers were unprepared for the deeper water. A third worker was wearing higher boots and did not suffer the same exposure.

Like the injured workers, many of those risking their lives are subcontractors of Tokyo Electric, paid a small daily wage for hours of work in dangerous conditions. In some cases they are poorly equipped and trained for their task.

A Japanese physicist, who asked not to be identified so as not to damage his relations with the establishment, said it was "ridiculous" that the workers had not been wearing full protective gear.

The National Institue of Radiological Sciences said that 3.9 million becquerels per square centimeter of radiation had been detected in the water that the three workers stepped in - 10,000 times the level normally seen in coolant water at the plant.

The injured workers' dosimeters suggested exposure to 170 millisieverts of radiation. But the institute said that the actual amount of radiation the workers are thought to have been exposed to in the water is 2 to 6 sievert. Even 2 sievert is eight times the 250 millisievert annual exposure limit set for workers at Daiichi.

A senior nuclear executive who insisted on anonymity but has broad contacts in Japan said that there was a long vertical crack running down the side of the reactor vessel itself. The crack runs down below the water level in the reactor and has been leaking fluids and gases, he said.

The severity of the radiation burns to the injured workers are consistent with contamination by water that had been in contact with damaged fuel rods, the executive said.

"There is a definite, definite crack in the vessel - it's up and down and it's large," he said. "The problem with cracks is they do not get smaller."

The contamination of the water in the basement of the turbine building where the workers were injured - a separate building adjacent to the one that houses the reactor - poses a real challenge for efforts to bring crucial cooling pumps and other equipment back online.

"They can't even figure out how to get that out, it's so hot" in terms of radioactivity, he said. A big worry about reactor No. 3 the mox fuel. The nuclear industry has no experience with mox leaks, and it is possible that unusual patterns in the dispersal of radioactivity from the plant partly result from the mox, he said.

The news Friday and the discovery this week of a radioactive isotope in the water supplies of Tokyo and neighboring prefectures has punctured the mood of optimism with which the week began, leaving a sense that the battle to fix the damaged plant will be a long one.

No one is being ordered to evacuate the second zone around the plant, officials said, and people may choose to remain, but many have already left of their own accord, tiring of the anxiety and tedium of remaining cooped up as the nuclear crisis simmers just a few miles away. Many are said to be virtual prisoners with no access to shopping and immobilized by a lack of gasoline.

"What we've been finding is that in that area life has become quite difficult," Noriyuki Shikata, deputy cabinet secretary for Mr. Kan said in a telephone interview. "People don't want to go into the zone to make deliveries."

Mr. Shikata said the question of where those who chose to leave would go was still under consideration. The effort to move people comes at a time when there are already hundreds of thousands of Japanese displaced by the quake and tsunami.

Officials continue to be dogged by suspicions that they are not telling the entire story about the radiation leaks. Shunichi Tanaka, former acting chairman of the country's Atomic Energy Commission, told The Japan Times in an interview published Friday that the government was being irresponsible in forcing people from their homes around the damaged plant without explaining the risks they were facing.

"The government has not yet said in concrete terms why evacuation is necessary to the people who have evacuated," he said.

The National Police Agency said Friday that the official death toll from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami had passed 10,000, with nearly 17,500 others listed as missing.

There was some good news. Levels of the radioactive isotope found in Tokyo's water supply fell Friday for a second day, officials said, dropping to 51 becquerels per liter, well below the country's stringent maximum for infants.

On Wednesday Tokyo area stores were cleaned out of bottled water after the authorities said the isotope, iodine 131, had been detected in the city's water supply and cautioned those in the affected areas not to give infants tap water. On Thursday cities in two of Tokyo's neighboring prefectures, Chiba and Saitama, also reported disturbing levels of radiation in their water.

Concerns about Reactor No. 3 have surfaced before. Japanese officials said nine days ago that there were signs of damage to the reactor vessel.

But Michael Friedlander, a former nuclear power plant operator in the United States, said that the presence of radioactive cobalt and molybdenum in water samples taken from the basement of the turbine building raised the possibility of a very different leak.

Both materials typically occur not because of fission but because of routine corrosion in a reactor and its associated piping over the course of many years of use, he said.

The aggressive use of saltwater to cool the reactor and its storage pool for spent fuel may mean that more of these highly radioactive corrosion materials will be dislodged and contaminate the area in the days to come, posing further hazards to repair workers, Mr. Friedlander added.

Meanwhile, the senior nuclear executive who said the reactor vessel was definitely cracked also said Friday evening that the reason the United States Navy had moved nuclear-powered vessels like the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier far from the plant was that officers had become concerned that radiation could enter the ships' duct systems.

The worry is not that the radiation would pose a threat to the vessels' crews but that even trace contamination of the ducts could create problems for years in the extremely sensitive equipment that is designed to detect any hint of a radioactive leak from onboard systems, said the executive, who insisted on anonymity to protect business connections.

The Navy initially sent the Ronald Reagan toward northeast Japan to help with earthquake and tsunami relief a week and a half ago but quickly pulled it back after Navy helicopter crews had low-level radiation exposure while flying near the power plant. The Navy has been sending vessels since then to the west coast of Japan, upwind of the reactors, and providing assistance from there, although this means considerably longer flight times to affected areas.

David Jolly and Hiroko Tabuchi reported from Tokyo and Keith Bradsher from Hong Kong. Takeshi Takizawa contributed reporting from Tokyo.


9) Syrian Troops Open Fire on Protesters in Several Cities
March 25, 2011

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Violence erupted around Syria on Friday as troops opened fire on protesters in several cities and pro- and anti-government crowds clashed on the tense streets of the capital in the most widespread unrest in years, witnesses said.

Soldiers shot at demonstrators in the restive southern city of Daraa after crowds set fire to a bronze statue of the country's late president, Hafez Assad, a resident told The Associated Press. He said he heard heavy gunfire in the city center and later saw two bodies and many wounded people being brought to Daraa's main hospital.

He said thousands of enraged protesters snatched some weapons from a far smaller number of troops and chased them out of the Roman-era old city, taking back control of the al-Omari mosque, which has been the epicenter of eight days of protests in Dara.

Two other residents confirmed to The Associated Press by telephone that protests had retaken the mosque and surrounding area.

The violence erupted after tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country after Friday prayers, shouting calls for greater freedoms in support of a more than week-long uprising in Daraa, according to witnesses, activists and footage posted online.

The demonstrations and ensuing crackdown were a major escalation of the showdown between President Bashar Assad's regime and the crowds in Daraa who - inspired by pro-democracy unrest elsewhere in the Arab world - began protesting conditions in the drought-stricken south last week in demonstrations that have now spread around the country.

After dark, troops opened fire on protesters in Maadamiyeh, a suburb of the capital, Damascus, a witness told the AP. An activist in contact with people there said three had been killed.

Another activist told the AP that witnesses in the National Hospital in the coastal city of Latakia had reported seeing four people shot dead. Another was reported slain in the central city of Homs, he said.

None of the accounts could be immediately be independently confirmed in Syria, which maintains tight restrictions on the press.

In Damascus, people shouting in support of the Daraa protesters clashed with regime supporters outside the historic Umayyad mosque, hitting each other with leather belts.

An activist in Damascus in touch with eyewitnesses in the southern village of Sanamein said troops there opened fire on demonstrators trying to march to Daraa, a short distance away. He said there had been witness reports of fatalities, some claiming as many as 20 slain, but those could not be independently confirmed.

A video posted on Facebook by Syrian pro-democracy activists showed what it said were five dead young men lying on stretchers as men weeped around them. The voice of a woman can be heard saying "down with Bashar Assad."

The White House urged Syria's government to cease attacks on protesters and Turkey said its neighbor should quickly enact reforms to meet legitimate demands.

An unidentified Syrian official asserted that an armed group attacked the army headquarters in Sanamein and tried to storm it, leading to a clash with guards.

The official told the state-run news agency SANA said security forces would pursue what it described as armed people who are terrorizing citizens and trying to destabilize the country.

Much of Damascus was tense, with convoys of young people roaming the streets in their cars, honking incessantly and waving out pictures of Bashar Assad and Syrian flags. The convoys briefly blocked streets in some areas.

About 200 people demonstrated after the Friday prayers at the Thawra Bridge, near the central Marjeh Square, chanting "our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you Daraa!" and "freedom! freedom!" They were chased by security forces who beat them some of them with batons and detained others, an activist said on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.

Thousands flooded Daraa's central Assad Square before the shooting broke out, many from nearby villages, chanting "Freedom! Freedom!" and waving Syrian flags and olive branches, a resident told The Associated Press by telephone.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, he claimed that more than 50,000 people were shouting slogans decrying presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban, who promised Thursday that the government would consider a series of reforms in response to a week of unrest in Daraa.

A human rights activist, quoting witnesses, said thousands of people gathered in the town of Douma outside the capital, Damascus, pledging support for the people of Daraa. The activists asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Security forces dispersed the crowd by chasing them away, beating some with batons and detaining others, an activist said, asking that his name not be published for fear of reprisals by the government.

In the city of Aleppo, hundreds of worshippers came out of mosques shouting "with our lives, our souls, we sacrifice for you Bashar" and "Only God, Syria and Bashar!"

Residents in Homs said hundreds of people demonstrated in support of Daraa and demanded reforms.

The activist said that in Latakia, more than 1,000 people marched in the streets after Friday prayers. In the northern city of Raqqa, scores marched and several people were detained, he said.

And in the western city of Zabadani, near the border with Lebanon, several people were detained after protesting, he said.

Journalists who tried to enter Daraa's Old City - where most of the violence took place - were escorted out of town Friday by two security vehicles.

"As you can see, everything is back to normal and it is over," an army major, standing in front of the ruling Baath party head office in Daraa, told journalists before they were led out of the city.

Security forces appeared to be trying to reduce tension in Daraa by dismantling checkpoints and ensuring there was no visible army presence on the streets for the first time since last Friday, when the protests began.

Rattled by the unrest, the Syrian government Thursday pledged to consider lifting some of the Mideast's most repressive laws in an attempt to stop the weeklong uprising from spreading and threatening its nearly 50-year rule.

But the promises were immediately rejected by many activists who called for demonstrations around the country on Friday in response to a crackdown that protesters say killed dozens of anti-government marchers in Daraa.

"We will not forget the martyrs of Daraa," a resident told The Associated Press by telephone. "If they think this will silence us they are wrong."

Assad, a close ally of Iran and its regional proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, has promised increased freedoms for discontented citizens and increased pay and benefits for state workers - a familiar package of incentives offered by other nervous Arab regimes in recent weeks.

Shaaban, the presidential adviser, also said the Baath party would study ending a state of emergency that it put in place after taking power in 1963.

The emergency laws, which have been a feature of many Arab countries, allow people to be arrested without warrants and imprisoned without trial. Human rights groups say violations of other basic liberties are rife in Syria, with torture and abuse common in police stations, detention centers and prisons, and dissenters regularly imprisoned for years without due process.

The death toll from the weeklong crackdown was unclear and could not be independently confirmed, although activists say it was in the dozens before Friday and could have been as high as 100. Shaaban said 34 people had been killed in the conflict.

Mroue reported from Beirut, Lebanon. Michael Weissenstein in Cairo contributed.


10) Bahrain Forces Quash Small Protests in 'Day of Rage'
March 25, 2011

MANAMA (Reuters) - Small protests broke out in Bahrain's capital for a planned "Day of Rage" Friday despite a ban under martial law imposed last week, but were quickly crushed by security forces fanned out across Manama.

Police entered several Manama suburbs that are home to the majority Shi'ite population, firing tear gas to scatter small numbers of protesters. Hours later the streets were empty but littered with rocks and overturned skips from residents trying to block police and the spicy scent of tear gas hung in the air.

Bahrain's leading Shi'ite opposition group Wefaq said tear gas lead to death by asphyxiation of a 71-year old man, Isa Abdullah in the village of Maameer. It said security forces blockaded Maameer, leaving Abdullah unable to get medical aid.

After a month of mass protests from mostly Shi'ite demonstrators demanding constitutional reform, Bahrain's ruling al Khalifa family, from the minority Sunni population, enforced a fierce police crackdown and wiped out protest. They also called in troops from neighbouring Sunni-led Gulf countries.

Bahrain has great strategic importance because it hosts the U.S. 5th Fleet, facing non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran across the Gulf, and is situated off-shore from oil giant Saudi Arabia.

Friday was the first effort by protesters to regroup. Helicopters buzzed overhead Friday and police erected checkpoints to turn back cars headed to Shi'ite villages.

A few hundred protesters managed a short rally in the Shi'ite village of Diraz Friday, shouting "down with the regime" but they fled when around 100 riot police fired tear gas and tried to chase them down.

In the village of al-Dair, police fired tear gas to disperse around 100 protesters who had marched towards a main road next to a runway at Bahrain International Airport.

"After so many deaths, so many sacrifices, we will continue to protest. We just want a new constitution but they're not prepared for democracy," said one resident who did not want to be named.


More than 60 percent of Bahrainis are Shi'ites and most are demanding a constitutional monarchy. But calls by hardliners for the overthrow of the monarchy have alarmed Sunnis, who fear the unrest helps Iran on the other side of the Gulf.

Bahrain's government has responded sharply to any signs of what it considers to be interference over its crackdown.

The island kingdom expelled diplomats from Iran after it criticised the clampdown last week. Its foreign minister formally complained to the Lebanese government over expressions of support for protesters from the Shi'ite movement Hezbollah.

The Education Ministry also cancelled the scholarships of 40 Bahrainis studying at universities abroad, saying they participated protests calling for the fall of the regime.

Earlier Friday, Bahrain's social development minister accused demonstrators of harbouring a "foreign agenda," but stopped short of blaming Iran. "We found out that those people who were doing it were instigated by a foreign country and by Hezbollah," Fatima al Beloushi told a news conference in Geneva.

"We have direct proof. Hezbollah has provided training for their people. They were serving a foreign agenda and that is why it was not something for having a better livelihood," she said.

Friday's "Day of Rage" was called by Internet activists and Shi'ite villages, but Wefaq, which draws tens of thousands when it calls protests, distanced itself from the demonstrations.

"Wefaq affirms the need to protect safety and lives and not to give the killers the opportunity to shed blood," it said.

So far the largest crowds Friday were at the sermon of a top Shi'ite cleric, which drew thousands, and a funeral in the Shi'ite suburb Balad al-Qadim. Thousands of mourners, carrying Bahraini flags and pumping their fists, shouted: "Down, down (King) Hamad" and "the people want the fall of the regime."

Hani Abdulaziz, 33, bled to death after being hit by rounds of bird shot fired by police near his home.

"People have gotten to the stage where they don't want dialogue, they want these people out," said Zahra, a woman from Abdulaziz's village.

(Additional reporting by Rania El Gamal; editing by Mark Heinrich)


11) Rules Faulted For Poor Data On Failures At Reactors
March 24, 2011

Nuclear power plants in the United States are not reporting some equipment failures to the government because of badly written rules, the inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has warned.

Those rules, which are often contradictory, leave the commission without the muscle to enforce the federal law requiring the reporting of such problems, the inspector general said in a report issued Wednesday.

From December 2009 to September 2010, the report said, the commission found 24 instances in which equipment problems were not properly reported. If the rules are not improved, it said, they "could reduce the margin of safety for operating nuclear power reactors."

The commission, which operates independently of the inspector general, countered in a statement that it "has a variety of other regulations that effectively encompass reporting all defects." It added, "The N.R.C. continues to conclude plants are operating safely."

The inspector general's office said it was concerned about equipment involving safety features - for instance, systems that measure pressure in a reactor's coolant. But the report did not detail any specific lapses in reporting equipment problems.

R. K. Wild, a senior analyst in the inspector general's office, said Thursday that full reporting of equipment defects was crucial to ensuring that problems were not duplicated at other plants. When a plant operator reports a problem, the government can take the information to the manufacturer and determine where similar parts are in use.

Nuclear power generation in the United States has come under more scrutiny since an earthquake and tsunami struck a nuclear plant in Japan, setting off a crisis that continues to unfold. At the request of President Obama, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted Wednesday to set up a task force to review the safety of the 104 nuclear reactors operating across the United States.

In another development, federal authorities announced Thursday that a subcontractor at the Watts Bar nuclear plant under construction in Tennessee had been accused of lying about making crucial measurements on cables that carry power to safety systems there. The contractor, Matthew David Correll, 31, was charged with making false statements, the United States attorney in Knoxville, Tenn., said.

The reactor, the second at the Watts Bar plant, is the only one now being built in the nation.

Elizabeth A. Harris reported from New York, and Kim Severson from Atlanta.


12) Georgia: Rally for Immigrants' Rights
March 25, 2011

Thousands of people gathered at the Capitol in Atlanta on Thursday to protest legislation aimed at illegal immigrants. The folk rock duo the Indigo Girls performed their song "Shame on You" with lyrics adapted for the rally. Representative John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who was a leader in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, urged the crowd to fight. "I was beaten, left bloody, but I didn't give up, and you must not give up," he said. Sponsors of the legislation say the bills are necessary to fight illegal immigration because the federal government has not solved the problem.


13) The Message of Labor, Proclaimed Through Song
March 24, 2011

The singers sounded good to Jana Ballard, but they needed a bit more - how to put it? - oomph. "You're just a little on the flat side," she said. No one argued. Though half the age of some in the room, she was the boss.

Ms. Ballard, 36, is the musical director of the New York City Labor Chorus, founded 20 years ago by workers who saw merit in singing not for their own supper but, rather, for the benefit of their often-troubled unions. About 60 of the chorus's 75 members, most of them city employees who perform on their own time, rehearsed the other evening in a room at the headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers, on lower Broadway.

One song was in Spanish, "El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido" ("The People United Will Never Be Defeated"). Those words were what Ms. Ballard felt needed to be kicked up.

"When you say 'the people will never be defeated,' you're sounding a little defeated," she said to the sopranos and altos. She ran them through it again, then again. They sounded just fine.

Strong voices are indispensable, Ms. Ballard said later. "In order to get your message out, you need to sound good," she said. "That's going to make people listen to you even more."

If ever public service unions needed to have their voices heard, it is now, when they find themselves demonized for much that ails America. Not that they are without fault. But to hear some people talk, you would think that it was workers, not bankers, who brought the country to the brink of economic catastrophe a couple of years ago.

For the New York chorus, this is a particularly busy season.

Friday is the 100th anniversary of a seminal moment in American labor history: the fire that killed 146 garment workers at the Triangle shirtwaist factory, most of them young women. The chorus has been a regular at Triangle commemorations, and Friday will be no different, with performances at the Greenwich Village site of the disaster and at a Cooper Union ceremony.

For the occasion, the singers rehearsed several numbers. One was "Bread and Roses," which has roots in another event of the Triangle era, a 1912 textile strike led strongly by women in Lawrence, Mass. "The rising of the women means the rising of us all," a lyric goes.

In a sense, preparations for the Friday anniversary were a prelude to a more unusual event. In mid-April, the chorus, with Washington's approval, will travel to Cuba for a week of performances and sightseeing. Hence the emphasis on a song like "El Pueblo Unido."

The group will land in Cuba on April 17, the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the American attempt to drive Fidel Castro from power that became a synonym for any botched effort. The date was not chosen deliberately. "But it is an interesting coincidence," said Jeff Vogel, a board member of the chorus.

Some singers plan to attend Passover Seders in Havana on April 18 and 19. They asked their hosts if there was anything they wanted from New York. Yes, the leaders of one synagogue said: chocolate matzos. "Just the thought of chocolate matzos in that heat," Bob Greenberg, the chorus's vice president, said with a shake of the head. "I don't know what it's going to look like."

Over the years, the group has performed in Sweden and in Wales. At home, it has taken part in celebrations of Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger.

"It started as a lark," said Barbara Bailey, the chorus's president and one of its founders. "The thought was to use it as a tool at rallies, at meetings, whatever. The point is, we're trying to revive the labor movement, labor culture. What better way than with song?"

The group, in the main, is not young. Women outnumber men by four to one. A few more voices in the lower ranges wouldn't hurt. Nor would new songs to go with labor standards like "Which Side Are You On" and "Rockin' Solidarity."

As chorus members acknowledged, laments about scrubbing coal dust from miners' backs speak to few young people these days. The challenge, Ms. Ballard said, is to find songs that appeal to a younger audience without sacrificing a traditional "message of unity and freedom."

Still, there is life yet in a tried-and-true number like "Union Maid," with its refrain, "Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union." In rehearsal, the chorus nailed it.

"Excellent," Ms. Ballard said. "That's a good sound tonight."



14) G.E.'s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether
March 24, 2011

General Electric, the nation's largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.'s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world's best tax law firm. Indeed, the company's slogan "Imagination at Work" fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.

While General Electric is one of the most skilled at reducing its tax burden, many other companies have become better at this as well. Although the top corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world, companies have been increasingly using a maze of shelters, tax credits and subsidies to pay far less.

In a regulatory filing just a week before the Japanese disaster put a spotlight on the company's nuclear reactor business, G.E. reported that its tax burden was 7.4 percent of its American profits, about a third of the average reported by other American multinationals. Even those figures are overstated, because they include taxes that will be paid only if the company brings its overseas profits back to the United States. With those profits still offshore, G.E. is effectively getting money back.

Such strategies, as well as changes in tax laws that encouraged some businesses and professionals to file as individuals, have pushed down the corporate share of the nation's tax receipts - from 30 percent of all federal revenue in the mid-1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.

Yet many companies say the current level is so high it hobbles them in competing with foreign rivals. Even as the government faces a mounting budget deficit, the talk in Washington is about lower rates. President Obama has said he is considering an overhaul of the corporate tax system, with an eye to lowering the top rate, ending some tax subsidies and loopholes and generating the same amount of revenue. He has designated G.E.'s chief executive, Jeffrey R. Immelt, as his liaison to the business community and as the chairman of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and it is expected to discuss corporate taxes.

"He understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy," Mr. Obama said of Mr. Immelt, on his appointment in January, after touring a G.E. factory in upstate New York that makes turbines and generators for sale around the world.

A review of company filings and Congressional records shows that one of the most striking advantages of General Electric is its ability to lobby for, win and take advantage of tax breaks.

Over the last decade, G.E. has spent tens of millions of dollars to push for changes in tax law, from more generous depreciation schedules on jet engines to "green energy" credits for its wind turbines. But the most lucrative of these measures allows G.E. to operate a vast leasing and lending business abroad with profits that face little foreign taxes and no American taxes as long as the money remains overseas.

Company officials say that these measures are necessary for G.E. to compete against global rivals and that they are acting as responsible citizens. "G.E. is committed to acting with integrity in relation to our tax obligations," said Anne Eisele, a spokeswoman. "We are committed to complying with tax rules and paying all legally obliged taxes. At the same time, we have a responsibility to our shareholders to legally minimize our costs."

The assortment of tax breaks G.E. has won in Washington has provided a significant short-term gain for the company's executives and shareholders. While the financial crisis led G.E. to post a loss in the United States in 2009, regulatory filings show that in the last five years, G.E. has accumulated $26 billion in American profits, and received a net tax benefit from the I.R.S. of $4.1 billion.

But critics say the use of so many shelters amounts to corporate welfare, allowing G.E. not just to avoid taxes on profitable overseas lending but also to amass tax credits and write-offs that can be used to reduce taxes on billions of dollars of profit from domestic manufacturing. They say that the assertive tax avoidance of multinationals like G.E. not only shortchanges the Treasury, but also harms the economy by discouraging investment and hiring in the United States.

"In a rational system, a corporation's tax department would be there to make sure a company complied with the law," said Len Burman, a former Treasury official who now is a scholar at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. "But in our system, there are corporations that view their tax departments as a profit center, and the effects on public policy can be negative."

The shelters are so crucial to G.E.'s bottom line that when Congress threatened to let the most lucrative one expire in 2008, the company came out in full force. G.E. officials worked with dozens of financial companies to send letters to Congress and hired a bevy of outside lobbyists.

The head of its tax team, Mr. Samuels, met with Representative Charles B. Rangel, then chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which would decide the fate of the tax break. As he sat with the committee's staff members outside Mr. Rangel's office, Mr. Samuels dropped to his knee and pretended to beg for the provision to be extended - a flourish made in jest, he said through a spokeswoman.

That day, Mr. Rangel reversed his opposition to the tax break, according to other Democrats on the committee.

The following month, Mr. Rangel and Mr. Immelt stood together at St. Nicholas Park in Harlem as G.E. announced that its foundation had awarded $30 million to New York City schools, including $11 million to benefit various schools in Mr. Rangel's district. Joel I. Klein, then the schools chancellor, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who presided, said it was the largest gift ever to the city's schools.

G.E. officials say the donation was granted solely on the merit of the project. "The foundation goes to great lengths to ensure grant decisions are not influenced by company government relations or lobbying priorities," Ms. Eisele said.

Mr. Rangel, who was censured by Congress last year for soliciting donations from corporations and executives with business before his committee, said this month that the donation was unrelated to his official actions.

Defying Reagan's Legacy

General Electric has been a household name for generations, with light bulbs, electric fans, refrigerators and other appliances in millions of American homes. But today the consumer appliance division accounts for less than 6 percent of revenue, while lending accounts for more than 30 percent. Industrial, commercial and medical equipment like power plant turbines and jet engines account for about 50 percent. Its industrial work includes everything from wind farms to nuclear energy projects like the troubled plant in Japan, built in the 1970s.

Because its lending division, GE Capital, has provided more than half of the company's profit in some recent years, many Wall Street analysts view G.E. not as a manufacturer but as an unregulated lender that also makes dishwashers and M.R.I. machines.

As it has evolved, the company has used, and in some cases pioneered, aggressive strategies to lower its tax bill. In the mid-1980s, President Ronald Reagan overhauled the tax system after learning that G.E. - a company for which he had once worked as a commercial pitchman - was among dozens of corporations that had used accounting gamesmanship to avoid paying any taxes.

"I didn't realize things had gotten that far out of line," Mr. Reagan told the Treasury secretary, Donald T. Regan, according to Mr. Regan's 1988 memoir. The president supported a change that closed loopholes and required G.E. to pay a far higher effective rate, up to 32.5 percent.

That pendulum began to swing back in the late 1990s. G.E. and other financial services firms won a change in tax law that would allow multinationals to avoid taxes on some kinds of banking and insurance income. The change meant that if G.E. financed the sale of a jet engine or generator in Ireland, for example, the company would no longer have to pay American tax on the interest income as long as the profits remained offshore.

Known as active financing, the tax break proved to be beneficial for investment banks, brokerage firms, auto and farm equipment companies, and lenders like GE Capital. This tax break allowed G.E. to avoid taxes on lending income from abroad, and permitted the company to amass tax credits, write-offs and depreciation. Those benefits are then used to offset taxes on its American manufacturing profits.

G.E. subsequently ramped up its lending business.

As the company expanded abroad, the portion of its profits booked in low-tax countries such as Ireland and Singapore grew far faster. From 1996 through 1998, its profits and revenue in the United States were in sync - 73 percent of the company's total. Over the last three years, though, 46 percent of the company's revenue was in the United States, but just 18 percent of its profits.

Martin A. Sullivan, a tax economist for the trade publication Tax Analysts, said that booking such a large percentage of its profits in low-tax countries has "allowed G.E. to bring its U.S. effective tax rate to rock-bottom levels."

G.E. officials say the disparity between American revenue and American profit is the result of ordinary business factors, such as investment in overseas markets and heavy lending losses in the United States recently. The company also says the nation's workers benefit when G.E. profits overseas.

"We believe that winning in markets outside the United States increases U.S. exports and jobs," Mr. Samuels said through a spokeswoman. "If U.S. companies aren't competitive outside of their home market, it will mean fewer, not more, jobs in the United States, as the business will go to a non-U.S. competitor."

The company does not specify how much of its global tax savings derive from active financing, but called it "significant" in its annual report. Stock analysts estimate the tax benefit to G.E. to be hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

"Cracking down on offshore profit-shifting by financial companies like G.E. was one of the important achievements of President Reagan's 1986 Tax Reform Act," said Robert S. McIntyre, director of the liberal group Citizens for Tax Justice, who played a key role in those changes. "The fact that Congress was snookered into undermining that reform at the behest of companies like G.E. is an insult not just to Reagan, but to all the ordinary American taxpayers who have to foot the bill for G.E.'s rampant tax sheltering."

A Full-Court Press

Minimizing taxes is so important at G.E. that Mr. Samuels has placed tax strategists in decision-making positions in many major manufacturing facilities and businesses around the globe. Mr. Samuels, a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Chicago Law School, declined to be interviewed for this article. Company officials acknowledged that the tax department had expanded since he joined the company in 1988, and said it now had 975 employees.

At a tax symposium in 2007, a G.E. tax official said the department's "mission statement" consisted of 19 rules and urged employees to divide their time evenly between ensuring compliance with the law and "looking to exploit opportunities to reduce tax."

Transforming the most creative strategies of the tax team into law is another extensive operation. G.E. spends heavily on lobbying: more than $200 million over the last decade, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Records filed with election officials show a significant portion of that money was devoted to tax legislation. G.E. has even turned setbacks into successes with Congressional help. After the World Trade Organization forced the United States to halt $5 billion a year in export subsidies to G.E. and other manufacturers, the company's lawyers and lobbyists became deeply involved in rewriting a portion of the corporate tax code, according to news reports after the 2002 decision and a Congressional staff member.

By the time the measure - the American Jobs Creation Act - was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004, it contained more than $13 billion a year in tax breaks for corporations, many very beneficial to G.E. One provision allowed companies to defer taxes on overseas profits from leasing planes to airlines. It was so generous - and so tailored to G.E. and a handful of other companies - that staff members on the House Ways and Means Committee publicly complained that G.E. would reap "an overwhelming percentage" of the estimated $100 million in annual tax savings.

According to its 2007 regulatory filing, the company saved more than $1 billion in American taxes because of that law in the three years after it was enacted.

By 2008, however, concern over the growing cost of overseas tax loopholes put G.E. and other corporations on the defensive. With Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, momentum was building to let the active financing exception expire. Mr. Rangel of the Ways and Means Committee indicated that he favored letting it end and directing the new revenue - an estimated $4 billion a year - to other priorities.

G.E. pushed back. In addition to the $18 million allocated to its in-house lobbying department, the company spent more than $3 million in 2008 on lobbying firms assigned to the task.

Mr. Rangel dropped his opposition to the tax break. Representative Joseph Crowley, Democrat of New York, said he had helped sway Mr. Rangel by arguing that the tax break would help Citigroup, a major employer in Mr. Crowley's district.

G.E. officials say that neither Mr. Samuels nor any lobbyists working on behalf of the company discussed the possibility of a charitable donation with Mr. Rangel. The only contact was made in late 2007, a company spokesman said, when Mr. Immelt called to inform Mr. Rangel that the foundation was giving money to schools in his district.

But in 2008, when Mr. Rangel was criticized for using Congressional stationery to solicit donations for a City College of New York school being built in his honor, Mr. Rangel said he had appealed to G.E. executives to make the $30 million donation to New York City schools.

G.E. had nothing to do with the City College project, he said at a July 2008 news conference in Washington. "And I didn't send them any letter," Mr. Rangel said, adding that he "leaned on them to help us out in the city of New York as they have throughout the country. But my point there was that I do know that the C.E.O. there is connected with the foundation."

In an interview this month, Mr. Rangel offered a different version of events - saying he didn't remember ever discussing it with Mr. Immelt and was unaware of the foundation's donation until the mayor's office called him in June, before the announcement and after Mr. Rangel had dropped his opposition to the tax break.

Asked to explain the discrepancies between his accounts, Mr. Rangel replied, "I have no idea."

Value to Americans?

While G.E.'s declining tax rates have bolstered profits and helped the company continue paying dividends to shareholders during the economic downturn, some tax experts question what taxpayers are getting in return. Since 2002, the company has eliminated a fifth of its work force in the United States while increasing overseas employment. In that time, G.E.'s accumulated offshore profits have risen to $92 billion from $15 billion.

"That G.E. can almost set its own tax rate shows how very much we need reform," said Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, who has proposed closing many corporate tax shelters. "Our tax system should encourage job creation and investment in America and end these tax incentives for exporting jobs and dodging responsibility for the cost of securing our country."

As the Obama administration and leaders in Congress consider proposals to revamp the corporate tax code, G.E. is well prepared to defend its interests. The company spent $4.1 million on outside lobbyists last year, including four boutique firms that specialize in tax policy.

"We are a diverse company, so there are a lot of issues that the government considers, that Congress considers, that affect our shareholders," said Gary Sheffer, a G.E. spokesman. "So we want to be sure our voice is heard."


15) Losing Our Way
"This is my last column for The New York Times after an exhilarating, nearly 18-year run. I'm off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society. My thanks to all the readers who have been so kind to me over the years. I can be reached going forward at"
March 25, 2011

So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers and police officers, and generally letting the bottom fall out of the quality of life here at home.

Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st century. An army of long-term unemployed workers is spread across the land, the human fallout from the Great Recession and long years of misguided economic policies. Optimism is in short supply. The few jobs now being created too often pay a pittance, not nearly enough to pry open the doors to a middle-class standard of living.

Arthur Miller, echoing the poet Archibald MacLeish, liked to say that the essence of America was its promises. That was a long time ago. Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. Young people today are staring at a future in which they will be less well off than their elders, a reversal of fortune that should send a shudder through everyone.

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.

Nearly 14 million Americans are jobless and the outlook for many of them is grim. Since there is just one job available for every five individuals looking for work, four of the five are out of luck. Instead of a land of opportunity, the U.S. is increasingly becoming a place of limited expectations. A college professor in Washington told me this week that graduates from his program were finding jobs, but they were not making very much money, certainly not enough to think about raising a family.

There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn't be, and didn't used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.

The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation's wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.

This inequality, in which an enormous segment of the population struggles while the fortunate few ride the gravy train, is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.

A stark example of the fundamental unfairness that is now so widespread was in The New York Times on Friday under the headline: "G.E.'s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether." Despite profits of $14.2 billion - $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States - General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year.

As The Times's David Kocieniewski reported, "Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore."

G.E. is the nation's largest corporation. Its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is the leader of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. You can understand how ordinary workers might look at this cozy corporate-government arrangement and conclude that it is not fully committed to the best interests of working people.

Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.

This is my last column for The New York Times after an exhilarating, nearly 18-year run. I'm off to write a book and expand my efforts on behalf of working people, the poor and others who are struggling in our society. My thanks to all the readers who have been so kind to me over the years. I can be reached going forward at


16) Budget Impasse Increasing Risk of U.S. Shutdown
March 25, 2011

WASHINGTON - With time running short and budget negotiations this week having reached an angry impasse, Congressional leaders are growing increasingly pessimistic about reaching a bipartisan deal that would avert a government shutdown in early April.

Senior Democratic officials involved in high-level efforts to bring House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House to a budget agreement said that while some progress had been made toward an accord on an overall level of spending cuts, the parties remained divided on the final figure and had to resolve the fate of ideologically charged policy provisions demanded by House conservatives.

Some senior Republicans, after relying on House Democrats to help pass the most recent short-term measure, are also uneasy about having to team up with Democrats again to pass any compromise that dips too far below the $61 billion in spending reductions endorsed by the House for the current fiscal year. Senate Democrats want to wring some of the savings out of mandatory spending programs like Medicare, an approach Republicans are resisting.

Aides said that even if myriad outstanding issues were resolved and an agreement struck late next week after lawmakers returned, it would be a challenge to write the legislation and move it through Congress before the current financing bill expires on April 8.

"A deal is still possible, but it would take a real breakthrough," said one senior official, who like others knowledgeable about the confidential budget negotiations would discuss them only without being publicly identified.

The tension surrounding the talks and the potential for a shutdown boiled into public view Friday evening as House Republican leaders issued a series of harsh statements accusing Democrats of failing to make a serious offer on spending cuts. Representative Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican and the House majority leader, labeled as "completely far-fetched" a claim by Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, that negotiators were making progress.

Speaker John A. Boehner joined in with a statement that accused Democrats of lacking a fiscal plan. "If Democrats don't have a plan, do they intend to shut down the government because they can't agree among themselves?" he asked.

Democrats fired back, suggesting that Republicans were backtracking under pressure from House conservatives allied with the Tea Party who were opposed to any compromise with Democrats in the budget debate.

"After days of positive negotiations, with significant flexibility shown by the speaker, the House Republican leadership is back to agonizing over whether to give in to right-wing demands that they abandon any compromise on their extreme cuts," Mr. Schumer said. "Instead of lashing out at Democrats in a knee-jerk way, we hope House Republicans will finally stand up to the Tea Party and resume the negotiations that had seemed so full of promise."

Congressional officials said the budget talks were set back significantly in a meeting Tuesday when the participants feuded over what legislation should serve as the benchmark for the talks - the House-passed spending measure with $61 billion in cuts for this year or an interim budget bill approved by Congress in early March that maintained financing for most programs at their current levels.

Democrats, who believed they had an agreement to work off the stopgap plan, felt blindsided, officials said. Jacob J. Lew, the White House budget director and chief Democratic negotiator, angrily resisted the Republican push to use the House measure as the starting point. The meeting abruptly broke up, with talks resuming haltingly since then.

Ken Baer, a spokesman for Mr. Lew, said he would not "discuss details of meetings that were agreed by all to be confidential. But there are ongoing discussions at many levels." He did say that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had consulted Thursday with both Mr. Boehner and Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader.

The heated meeting on Tuesday was the first with participation by representatives of the House Appropriations Committee, which drafted the House plan and saw that bill as providing the most legitimate framework for the budget talks. But Democrats argue that using the House measure, which the president has promised to veto, puts them at a disadvantage.

Failure to reach agreement without another stopgap measure could cause a number of federal operations to be halted after April 8. Both Senate and House officials said they believed it would be difficult to advance another short-term budget bill after numerous lawmakers said the temporary measure now in place would be the last one they would support before considering a plan to finance the government through Sept. 30.

The fight over spending levels for the current fiscal year - through Sept. 30 - will be followed by two others that could be even more contentious. Congress will be asked this spring to increase the federal debt limit, a measure that many conservatives say they will oppose unless President Obama is willing to accede to a package of deep spending cuts. The two parties will also be at odds over a budget for next year, with House Republicans intending to introduce into that fight proposals to rein in the long-term costs of entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The budget showdown between Democrats and the new House Republican majority is caught up in strong political currents since House conservatives are pushing for steep spending cuts in the current fiscal year and pressing the leadership to not give much ground.

But negotiations had been continuing among representatives of the White House, Mr. Boehner and Mr. Reid, with Democrats proposing spending reductions that they said would total more than $20 billion, while Republicans expressed a willingness to give some ground on their $61 billion figure.

"We're getting closer on the number," Mr. Schumer said in an interview on MSNBC Friday morning.

Officials said an agreement on spending reductions in the vicinity of $30 billion to $40 billion had seemed possible before Tuesday's abbreviated negotiating session, but lawmakers and their aides seemed uncertain Friday about where the talks would head, given the tough partisan statements and persistent disputes over the makeup of any budget deal.

In another development that could influence the debate, Tea Party groups are planning to rally outside the Capitol on Thursday to encourage Republicans to hold firm on their budget cuts.


17) NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan Kills 7 Civilians, Including 3 Children
March 26, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan - A NATO airstrike targeting Taliban fighters Friday accidentally killed seven civilians, including three children, in the southern province of Helmand, one of the most insecure regions in the country, Afghan officials said.NATO officials are investigating the episode. It occurred in the Now Zad district when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force called in an airstrike on two vehicles believed to be carrying a Taliban leader and his associates. A NATO team assessing the damage discovered the civilians after the airstrike. NATO officials have not disclosed how many civilians were killed and wounded, and did not say whether suspected Taliban were among the casualties.

Afghan officials in Helmand said the dead included two men, two women and three children. Three more children and two adults were wounded, the Helmand governor's office said in a statement late Saturday.

Civilian casualties have been one of the most contentious issues in Afghanistan, exacerbating tensions in the delicate relationship between international forces and President Hamid Karzai. Mr. Karzai raised the issue again in a speech on Tuesday, listing the reduction of civilian deaths as an issue that must be addressed as Afghan forces begin taking over responsibility for security in some areas of the country this summer.

NATO officials offered only minimal details about the episode Saturday as they investigated. And local authorities in the province were either unreachable or were unaware of the attack because cellphone service has been out in the entire province for much of the last week on orders of the Taliban.

The cellphone disruption has caused chaos for business owners and residents in the province. With a dearth of reliable landlines, the province, like most of the country, has come to rely on mobile networks in recent years.

Dawood Ahmadi, a spokesman for Helmand's governor, who was in Kandahar on business, said by telephone that he had not been able to get information on the civilian deaths because of the cellphone cutoff.

"Unfortunately, I don't know what happened in Now Zad district," he said. He added that the government was trying to get satellite phones to district centers across the province to improve intergovernmental communications.

A United Nations report this month said that 2,777 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2010, the deadliest toll in more than nine years of war. The Taliban were blamed for 75 percent of the deaths. The number of deaths by NATO forces declined 26 percent. But a number of high-profile episodes have led to continuing strains between NATO and the Afghan government.

This month alone, NATO airstrikes killed two children, brothers, as they tended their family's fields, and an additional nine boys as they were collecting firewood.

Both episodes happened in the eastern province of Kunar and are under investigation. In another episode this month, a cousin of Mr. Karzai was killed in a NATO-led night raid in Kandahar Province.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomb attempt targeting a border police official in Kandahar Province on Friday left one child dead and four others wounded, local authorities there said. The attacker survived and was being treated at a hospital.

Sharifullah Sahak contributed reporting.


18) In Syria, Tension and Grief After Protests and Retaliation by Government Forces
March 26, 2011

CAIRO - Syria was tense and angry on Saturday as protesters set fire to a ruling party office, mourners buried the dead and the president announced the release of political prisoners, one day after government forces opened fire, again, on unarmed demonstrators.

After more than a week of protests and 61 confirmed killed by government forces, there appeared no certain path forward for the demonstrators, who erupted in angry demonstrations around the country on Friday, or for the government, which has offered words of compromise while simultaneously unleashing lethal force.

President Bashar al-Assad tried to promote calm by ordering the release of as many of 200 political prisoners, but there were new reports of gunfire.

"People are afraid," said a prominent religious leader from a community at the center of the conflicts, who is not being identified to protect him from reprisal. "People are afraid that the events might get bigger. They are afraid there might be more protests."

The sun rose over a landscape of grief as mourners set out for funerals in the southern cities of Samanein and Dara'a, the epicenter of the public revolt; in the coastal town of Latakia; in the central city of Homs; and in the suburbs of Damascus. In each place, demonstrators had been killed hours earlier, shot by government forces in the most violent government oppression since 1982, when the leadership killed at least 10,000 people in Hama, a city in the north.

Exact numbers of the dead are hard to determine, as the official government news service denied the authorities' culpability in new reports blaming criminal gangs.

"In some villages there were 10 or 15; in some villages there were around 20 or more than 20," the religious leader said.

The protesters, he said, want "freedom and their rights; they were making demands from the government for things to get better here and for an end to the state of emergency."

A large protest was under way in the coastal city of Latakia, where demonstrators had set fire to the local headquarters of the ruling Ba'ath Party, said Ammar Qurabi, the chairman of the National Association for Human Rights in Syria quoting two witnesses, including one who was not participating in the protest. Special forces opened fire into the crowd, causing protesters to scatter and an unknown number of injuries.

There have been protests around Syria since the start of the tumultuous movement for change that has shaken the Arab world with peaceful protest and conflicts approaching civil war. But the political crisis blew wide open about a week ago when demonstrators took to the streets in Dara'a after the police arrested a group of young people for scrawling antigovernment graffiti, hauling them away without notifying their parents.

Syria is a resource-poor nation with great strategic regional influence because of its alliances with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, and its location bordering Israel, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. But it also struggles with a fragile sense of national unity amid deep sectarian tensions between its rulers, all members of the minority Alawite religious sect, and a Sunni majority. It also still clings to a pan-Arab Baathist ideology.

On Saturday, human rights groups in Syria said President Assad had announced the release of political prisoners. They were not among those arrested in recent days, but longtime detainees. At the same time, there was talk in Syria of a pending cabinet shake-up, part of an effort to calm the most serious challenge to Assad family rule in 40 years.

"The events are developing and succeeding each other rapidly all over Syria," Abdel Majid Manjouni, assistant chairman of the Socialist Democratic Arab Union Party in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, said in a telephone interview. "They are going from city to city, and the ruling party is not being successful in its attempt to block the protests or the demands for democratic change in the country."

The Syrian crisis has in many ways followed the same playbook as events that unfolded in Tunisia and Egypt, which ended with the resignation of the presidents.

All across the Arab world, authoritarian leaders provided little, to no, room for citizens to air their grievances. In states led by presidents for life, emirs and kings, there was no room for promoting change, except for protest.

In Syria, there have not yet been widespread calls for the president's departure, though as the anger mounts in the wake of the deaths, that view has started to emerge.

"I am calling him to go to the television," said Ayman Abdel Nour, a childhood friend of the president now living in the United Arab Emirates. "The people still respect him; first he must deliver his condolences face to face to the people. No. 2, he must say there will be a multiple party system, a free parliamentary election in two months from now."

Mr. Qurabi, the chairman of the human-rights group, said that in all, more than two dozen were killed on Friday, including 20 in the tiny southern village of Samanein, 4 in Latakia, 3 in Homs and 3 in the greater Damascus area. Mr. Qurabi blamed live ammunition for all of the deaths on Friday, although details for much of the violence in Syria remain unclear.

"The protest in Samanein was very, very, very big," said Mr. Qurabi in a phone call in Cairo, where he is now attending a conference. "They killed them in the streets because there is not even really a square for the people to protest in."

A reporter for The New York Times contributed from Damascus, Syria.


19) Riot Police in Jordan Clear Camp of Protesters
March 25, 2011

AMMAN, Jordan - Riot police officers stormed a pro-democracy rally here in the Jordanian capital on Friday, leaving one man dead, injuring scores of other people and dispersing with water cannons a 1,000-person tent camp set up the previous day to resemble Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Witnesses said the violence - the worst since demonstrations began in Jordan in January - came after some 200 pro-government counterdemonstrators using sticks and rocks attacked the protesters, who fought back. The riot police were called in, and they broke up the fighting as well as the tent camp.

The Interior Ministry said the man who died in the fighting, Khairi Jamil Saad, 56, an unemployed father of five, had suffered a fatal heart attack. But his son Nasser Saad said in an interview that the riot police had attacked and beaten them both. He said he saw his father's body at the hospital. His teeth were broken, and he had signs of being beaten on his hands, legs and ears.

At least 100 injured demonstrators were at the hospital, and protest organizers said four of them were later arrested by the police.

Three witnesses said they saw distinct evidence of collusion between the pro-government demonstrators and the riot police. After the tent camp was destroyed, they said, the two groups sang and celebrated together.

The tent camp had been set up by a new organization calling itself the March 24th Movement because of its plan to camp out from Thursday until demands for reform were met, as had occurred in Tahrir Square. The organizers were calling for an end to corruption and autocracy and greater economic equality.

As discontent has rolled across the Arab world in recent months, King Abdullah II of Jordan fired his cabinet and ordered his new prime minister, Marouf al-Bakhit, to begin serious electoral reforms and reach out to all elements of Jordanian society, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

But the reform process has not moved quickly, and pro-democracy forces have grown impatient. Jordan is a close American ally, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited King Abdullah on Friday, flying to his palace and back by helicopter, with no direct contact with the political unrest.

On Friday night, Prime Minister Bakhit appeared on television and condemned what had happened at the democracy rally, saying it gave Jordan a poor image.

A leader of the new movement, Khaled Khalaldeh, said he and his colleagues would meet on Saturday to decide how to proceed after the destruction of their tent camp. A Muslim Brotherhood leader, Murad Adaileh, called for the resignation of the government and the dissolution of the riot police.

In another part of Amman, some 3,000 loyalists to the king waved his portrait and chanted their willingness to sacrifice their lives and souls for him.

In other parts of the Arab world, notably Bahrain and the eastern part of Saudi Arabia, antigovernment demonstrations took place after Friday Prayer. In Bahrain, which remains under martial law after the king called in Saudi troops to help him quell unrest by mostly Shiite demonstrators, small protests broke out in the capital, Manama, and in nearby villages. The police entered the villages shooting tear gas.

The leading Shiite opposition group, Wefaq, said that a 71-year-old man died from tear gas asphyxiation after the police blocked exit roads, and he was unable to get to the hospital in time. The Bahraini Interior Ministry later said the man's death was from natural causes and was not related to tear gas. Shiites make up some 70 percent of the population of Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni royal family and elite.

The protesters in Bahrain had set up their own tent camp, also modeled on Tahrir Square, for a month in Pearl Square. But the police destroyed it this month and took down the 300-foot sculpture at the square's center. Tanks and checkpoints have been set up throughout Manama as part of the crackdown, and the strategic island, home to the American Navy's Fifth Fleet, remains tense.

In eastern Saudi Arabia, several hundred Shiites held sympathy protests for Bahrain, demanding the release of detainees and calling for the removal of Saudi troops from Bahrain, according to the Saudi news agency Rasid. It added that the protesters waved Bahraini flags and held marches in two cities in the province of Qatif. Like the majority Shiites in Bahrain, the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia has long complained of discrimination.

Ranya Kadri reported from Amman, and Ethan Bronner from Jerusalem. Thom Shanker contributed reporting from Amman.


20) U.N.'s Nuclear Chief Says Japan Is 'Far From the End of the Accident'
March 26, 2011

The world's chief nuclear inspector said Saturday that Japan was "still far from the end of the accident" that has stricken its Fukushima nuclear complex and continues to spew radiation into the atmosphere and the sea, and acknowledged that the authorities were still unsure about whether the nuclear cores and spent fuel were covered with the water needed to cool them and end the crisis.

Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he saw a few "positive signs" with the restoration of some outside electric power to the plant. But taking care to say he was not criticizing Japan's response under extraordinary circumstances, he said "more efforts should be done to put an end to the accident."

He cautioned that the nuclear emergency could go on for weeks, if not months, given the enormous damage to the plants.

More than two weeks after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese government also said it could not predict when the nuclear complex would be brought under control. Yukio Edano, the government's top spokesman, insisted Saturday that the situation at the damaged plant was not getting worse, but cautioned that "this is not the stage for predictions" about when it will be over.

Mr. Amano, a former Japanese diplomat who took over the United Nations nuclear agency in late 2009, said in a telephone interview from Vienna that his biggest concern now was the vast amount of spent fuel rods sitting in open cooling pools atop the reactor buildings.

He said he was still uncertain that the efforts to spray seawater into the pools - to keep the rods from bursting into flame and releasing huge amounts of radioactive material - had been successful. If the pools are filled with water but the cooling system is still not working, "the temperature will go up," he said, and the problems will continue.

"The cooling systems need to be restored," he said, and the spent fuel pools stabilized. He was particularly concerned about the pool at reactor No. 4, which contains the core of a reactor that was removed shortly before the earthquake and tsunami struck, and thus is particularly radioactive. "But the need exists for all of them" to be cooled, he said.

He also said he was concerned about the level of contamination in the environment.

The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Saturday that a test of seawater taken on Friday from a monitoring station at the plant showed the level of iodine 131 to be 1,250 times the legal limit. That was 147 times the level recorded on Wednesday, the agency said.

Japanese authorities played down the news. Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director general at the safety agency, said he expected the iodine to dilute rapidly, minimizing the effect on wildlife, and pointed out that fishing had been suspended in the area after the earthquake and tsunami.

"There is unlikely to be any immediate effect on nearby residents," he said.

Mr. Amano said that he did not believe the Japanese authorities were withholding information, but that his recent trip back to Japan had been intended to secure from Prime Minister Naoto Kan a commitment to what he called "full transparency." He expressed frustration that so much of the instrumentation that normally allows monitoring of a nuclear plant had not been restored.

Mr. Amano said the emergency steps taken so far were only stopgaps, not solutions, and warned that the drama would be a long one. "It will take quite a long time," he said.

In other interviews in recent days, American and international officials said that the statements from Japan so far contending that the nuclear cores and fuel ponds were covered with water were essentially inferences, based on how much seawater was poured in and analysis of the radioactive steam emerging from the plant. But they expressed little confidence that much was known about what was taking place inside the buildings, instruments are still knocked out.

"There are areas where we don't have information," Mr. Amano said. "We don't, and the Japanese don't, too."

Workers at the plant began pumping in fresh water to the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors on Saturday, after days of spraying them with corrosive saltwater. The United States military was aiding the effort, sending two barges carrying a total of 500,000 gallons of fresh water from the Yokosuka naval base.

They also restored lighting to the central control room of the No. 2 unit, Tokyo Electric Power said, an incremental step toward restarting the cooling system there that shut down after the disaster. That leaves only the No. 4 unit without lighting.

The National Police Agency said Saturday that the official death toll from the earthquake and tsunami had reached 10,418, with 17,072 listed as missing. The authorities have said that the final death toll will surpass 18,000. There are 244,339 people in refugee centers around Japan, the police said.

Damage to oil refineries across the country, as well as to ports and roads, has created a fuel shortage in the disaster zone, hampering relief efforts as well as leaving evacuees without transportation or heat.

Joy Portella, an aid worker with Mercy Corps, a group based in the United States, said fuel shortages remained acute in the hardest-hit areas. The group distributed about 500 gallons of kerosene in the town of Kesennuma on Saturday, she said.

Ms. Portella said that younger, more mobile families had moved out of the ad-hoc evacuation centers, and that the centers' demographics were shifting toward the elderly, raising the need for more specialized care. With much of Kesennuma and its industry destroyed, those left at the centers were facing up to the prospect of long-term displacement.

"No one I talked to had any idea when they were getting out," she said. "The economy here is dependent on fisheries and fish farms. But those industries have been decimated."

On Friday, Japanese officials expanded the evacuation zone on a voluntary basis to a distance of 19 miles from the plant, from the 12-mile radius imposed March 15.

The amount of radiation in Tokyo's water supply continued to diminish for a third day after a big scare on Wednesday. The city's waterworks bureau said samples showed none at one plant and lower levels at two plants. The lower levels were well below the strict limits for both infants and adults.

There was little news about the damaged Reactor No. 3, the only one of the six units at the facility to have mox fuel, a combination of plutonium and uranium. Three workers suffered radiation burns on Thursday after stepping in shallow water in the basement of the turbine building attached to the reactor. A Tokyo Electric Power Company spokeswoman, Linda Gunter, said the company was pumping water from the basement, which is now as much as five feet deep. The water, she said, is not being dumped into the environment."

The National Institute of Radiological Sciences said that the radioactivity of the water that the three injured workers had stepped into was 10,000 times the level normally seen in coolant water at the plant.

That level of radiation suggested that radiation was escaping from the nuclear fuel rods, either through a crack in the pressure vessel or perhaps from a damaged cooling pipe.

William J. Broad reported from New York, and David Jolly from Tokyo. Reporting was contributed by David E. Sanger from Palo Alto, Calif., Hiroko Tabuchi and Chika Ohshima from Tokyo, and Kevin Drew from Hong Kong.


21) Uranium Processor Still Optimistic About Nuclear Industry
March 25, 2011

OTTAWA - On the same day earlier this month that the Canadian company Cameco, a global leader in uranium mining and processing, gathered its executives from around the world for a strategic planning session, news broke of Japan's staggering earthquake.

The accompanying tsunami, they learned, had swamped a Cameco customer: the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Suddenly, this strategy meeting would be anything but routine.

"We had kind of a fortuitous convergence," said Gerald W. Grandey, the chief executive of Cameco, which held the meeting near its headquarters in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Fortuitous, but not fortunate - for Cameco or the rest of the uranium industry, whose products fuel the world's nuclear power plants.

Over the last five years, uranium miners and processors - and their stock prices - have generally benefited from the assumption that rising energy demand in developing countries, and global concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, were creating a new appreciation for nuclear power industry.

Shares of Cameco had reached a recent high of $43.14 in mid-February, reflecting a steady rise from a low of $16 in October 2008. But since the tsunami, shares of Cameco have closed as low as $30.82, and closed Friday at $31.17.

Unusually rich ore deposits, particularly at Cameco's main deep-rock mine in northern Saskatchewan, help make it a low-cost producer. Uranium mining requires costly robotic systems and other measures to protect workers and the environment from radiation.

Cameco produces about 16 percent of the world's uranium supply and dominates the market, along with Areva, a French company with 17 percent of production, and the British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, which also holds a 16 percent share. But compared with those more diversified companies, Cameco is essentially a pure-play uranium producer.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns that power plant, is not only a buyer of nuclear fuel from Cameco, among other suppliers. Tepco, as it is known, also holds a small stake in a Canadian mine that Cameco plans to open in 2013 as part of its goal to double production by 2018, which would make it the global leader in uranium.

Right now, most of the rest of the world is pausing to assess the future of its nuclear power programs. In Germany, a market for Cameco, Chancellor Angela Merkel has temporarily shut down seven nuclear plants and suspended a program for extending the life of aging reactors. And Italy, has suspended a plan to resume its nuclear power program, which it had stopped after the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl.

But for all that, Mr. Grandey said this week that he was still optimistic about the long-term future of nuclear power. He says he thinks the nuclear renaissance is only taking a temporary pause.

"Even with Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and now Fukushima, nuclear still has an impeccable safety record," Mr. Grandey said in an interview. "There will be in time - I'm looking five, seven years - a rapid acceleration of nuclear building putting us back on track to where we would have been, absent Fukushima."

Not everyone, of course, shares Mr. Grandey's optimism, or his assessment of the industry's safety record. But there is no question that Cameco's future depends largely on the world's appetite for processed uranium after Fukushima.

Even if there is a global pullback on developing new power plants, Cameco has something of a cushion with its current customers. The company generally has multiyear contracts with utilities that require them to pay for fuel even if they do not accept delivery. (The company has suspended some contract terms for Tokyo Electric and another Japanese utility with reactors in the heavily damaged north, Tohoku Electric Power. Long-term Japan accounts for about 18 to 20 percent of Cameco's contracted sales.)

Farther out, Mr. Grandey bases his optimism on the inexorable rise in energy demand by developing economies like China and India, which have both indicated that they do not plan to curtail their ambitious rollout of new nuclear plants though they will proceed with a greater sense of caution. Fossil fuels, whether for environmental issues, supply constraints or price uncertainties, simply cannot meet the world's needs, he said.

"It will take us six months a year to digest and learn the lessons of Fukushima," he said. "After we digest the lessons learned, I think we'll get back on the path of nuclear construction."

Joshua M. Pearce, a professor of mechanical and engineering at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, said that such analysis omitted an important factor.

"This is not the 1950s when there was just nuclear and fossil fuels," he said, noting that alternative energy sources like solar and wind had become increasingly viable.

Professor Pearce was a co-author of a recent academic paper about indirect subsidies to nuclear power plants. He estimates that insurance liability caps granted to the American nuclear power industry, for example, produce an annual indirect subsidy of $33 million for every reactor in the United States.

He said that the liability costs to the Japanese government arising from Fukushima Daiichi, while still impossible to estimate, were presumably large, and might make other governments see that offering subsidies to renewable energy sources might be a comparative bargain.

Tony Ward, who heads Ernst & Young's power and utility practice in London, agrees that the current crisis will focus new attention on wind and solar power, particularly in China, which has already heavily invested in renewable energy technologies.

But Mr. Ward points to a significant limit to renewable energy as an alternative to nuclear. "The supply chain is not sufficiently deep to provide the sheer scale of capacity that is sufficient," he said.

For Mr. Ward, one potential long-term change for Cameco stemming from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster is the issue of spent fuel storage - which has been a big source of the trouble at that plant. He expects governments to reassess the economics of reprocessing nuclear waste into new fuel rather than allowing its continued storage.

But Cameco's Mr. Grandey, voicing optimism, insists that the nuclear industry's image will suffer no long-term harm.

"The numbers that are questioning safety have gone up but that's inevitable," Mr. Grandy said. "But it certainly can't be described as a mass change in attitude toward nuclear."

He added: "I think the public also understands that these are 35- and 40-year-old plants. So like airplanes that occasionally fall out of the sky, or like other industrial activities that experience disasters, every industry learns and improves."


22) Gold Mines, a City's Pride, Leave Toxic Legacy
"When it rains in the shantytown of Tudor Shaft, the streets pool with orange water that smells like vinegar. Experts say the water contains radioactive minerals and has killed all aquatic life in a nearby river."
March 26, 2011

RANDFONTEIN, South Africa (AP) - When it rains in the shantytown of Tudor Shaft, the streets pool with orange water that smells like vinegar. Experts say the water contains radioactive minerals and has killed all aquatic life in a nearby river.

Tudor Shaft takes its name, and its troubles, from an abandoned gold mine.

It's just a fraction of the toxic but long-overlooked legacy of South Africa's most famous industry. Mining accounts for 17 percent of everything South Africa produces, and the country is the world's fourth biggest exporter, sitting on a mother lode that runs for miles from Johannesburg into the countryside.

Social campaigners, preoccupied first with overthrowing apartheid and then with raising living standards for a badly neglected black majority, are now waking up to the environmental cause. The effects of mining are the focus of parliamentary debate and newspaper stories. But no one is yet taking responsibility or funding a cleanup that would probably put a dent in profits.

Johannesburg literally sits on a gold mine. Flat-topped heaps of mined earth are backdrops to skyscrapers and bridges. FNB Stadium, the main arena in last year's World Cup soccer tournament, sits at the foot of a mine dump. Johannesburg's amusement park is called Gold Reef City and features a ride that plunges into a mine shaft.

The city of 3.2 million grew out of the gold bonanza discovered in the early 1900s. Nowadays, whenever a mining company removes one of the 270 dumps around Johannesburg to reprocess the waste, heritage advocates complain that the city is losing a piece of its patrimony.

The worst environmental effects are felt in places like Tudor Shaft, 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the city. Here, Patrick Mkoyo's children run barefoot, their feet tinted orange from contaminated sand. He says they sometimes come home with rashes or breathing difficulties.

"They are not OK here, but I don't have a choice; I have no other place to stay," says Mkoyo, 35, as he stirs a family lunch of cornmeal porridge in his immaculately kept shack.

The doctors tell him they don't know what is causing the children's medical problems. But Chris Busby, a professor from Northern Ireland's University of Ulster, thinks he has the likely answer.

In December he tested the soil around Mkoyo's shack and found it contained at least 32 times the amount of radioactivity allowed by government regulators. Busby prepared the report for the Federation for Sustainable Environment, a private Johannesburg group working to bring the toxic water issue to public attention.

According to Terence McCarthy, a minerals professor at Johannesburg's University of Witwatersrand, radioactivity comes from uranium traces in mined rock which lies in dumps until rain flushes it into the ground and river systems.

Acidic water dissolves and liquefies metals in the mining rock, including uranium, says Anthony Turton, a professor of environmental management at University of the Free State. Liquefied uranium, toxic and radioactive, flows out of the mines, he says.

The water can be so acidic that it eliminates river wildlife, Turton says.

The problem hasn't yet reached Johannesburg itself, but one mining basin in the city has already overflowed, and one of the next to overflow is under the city center, experts say.

Aside from Tudor Shaft, other parts of the city's outskirts are feeling the damage of toxic mine water, entering rivers and communities at an increasing rate with heavy rain in recent months, says Mariette Liefferink, chief executive of the Federation for Sustainable Environment, a private group. Yellow-tinted grass, orange mud and lifeless rivers plague sections of western Johannesburg, as well as Soweto, one of South Africa's largest townships.

No studies have been done on how exposure to the water affects health, Liefferink says, but scientific reports have documented its destructive effects on the ecosystem, soil and water.

Peter Cronshaw, a mineral economics consultant for Tegritas Financial Services, said the cost of a cleanup would accelerate South Africa's already declining mining industry, particularly for smaller companies, but it wouldn't affect the global gold industry. The country's diminishing supply of gold means an increasing number of derelict mines.

South Africa produced 206 of the 2,652 metric tons of gold mined globally in 2010, says Philip Newman, the research director of London-based GFMS Ltd., which researches precious metals. Its production ranks fourth behind China, Australia and the U.S.

While abandoned mines everywhere produce toxic runoff, the problem is most threatening in South Africa, Turton says. Johannesburg, unlike most mining cities, is densely populated and an economic hub. On top of that, Turton says, the mining industry in South Africa has gone largely unregulated.

The apartheid rulers relied on the steady stream of income from booming gold prices to offset international economic sanctions over the treatment of blacks. "There's been little oversight from government, and mining companies have done nothing about it - for 120 years they've had a party," Turton said.

Environmental NGOs, or non-governmental organizations, got off to a late start on mining because past governments, while aware of toxic mine water's impact, sought to keep the public in ignorance, he said.

"Under apartheid, there was absolutely no tolerance of any NGO activity at all," Turton said. "When there was activity, it had to do very much with bringing down the apartheid state."

Now, the post-apartheid government is under pressure to hold companies accountable, while the companies deny responsibility.

"Most of the toxic water that flows into rivers come from abandoned mine sites which have no owners and thus the responsibility to put into place water pollution control measures lie with the state," says Nikisi Lesufi, senior executive of the Chamber of Mines, an industry group.

Cronshaw, the consultant, says most gold mining companies don't even have titles to the mines that are the source of toxic water.

"The mining companies say: These mines were here long before we were and they weren't our mines; our companies are subsidiaries. The government allowed them to do this, therefore it has got to sort it out," Cronshaw says.

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., the South African mining giant, says it expects the government will "lead the process of national coordination" on handling toxic water and that the company already contributes to pumping water from one defunct shaft outside of Johannesburg. In a statement, spokesman Alan Fine said AngloGold mine dumps do not contain much groundwater.

Mining company Anglo American tracks water quality and is devising a national water-cleansing strategy for itself, spokesman Pranill Ramchander said in an e-mail.

In the U.S., mine companies have been under tight regulation for decades. R. Larry Grayson, professor of energy and mineral engineering at Penn State University, recalls that a U.S. mine he worked at in the 1970s was fined $10,000 on the spot because of one dead fish found.

Sputnik Ratau. the government's spokesman on water and environmental affairs, says dangerous mine waste is a "high priority," but acknowledges it was not given serious attention until the government set up a committee to study the issue in September.

"Acid mine drainage is toxic water, and if it flows into rivers, it obviously contaminates rivers and underground waters, which become not a healthy source of drinking for humans, animals, plants - all living organisms," he said.

"Because the necessary steps were not taken from day one," Ratau said, South Africans "are now reaping what you would call the misfortune of the benefit that we had from the legacy of mining in this country."


23) U.S Sets Up Special Prisons For Muslim/Arab Prisoners
By Sherwood Ross
March 26, 2011

If you think the U.S. Bureau of Prisons(BOP) couldn't possibly make its prisons more inhumane no matter how hard it tried, you are wrong. It has created CMUs, or Communications Management Units, where the "management" part consists of denying inmates virtually all communication with their families and the outside world. In its Terre Haute, Ind., facility, the BOP is concentrating Arab/Muslim inmates and limiting them to mailing one six-page letter per week, making one 15-minute phone call per month, and receiving only one 60-minute visit per month.

Word of the restrictive new facilities came to light when Rafil Dhafir, an American doctor born in Iraq (and convicted of sending money to a charity he founded there and other non-violent crimes,) claimed he was imprisoned in Terre Haute as part of "a nationwide operation to put Muslims/Arabs in one place so that we can be closely monitored regarding our communications." Subsequent inquiries showed that Dhafir had a case. While Muslims make up just six percent of the federal prison population, 18 of 33 prisoners at Terre Haute, or 55%, are Muslim, and 23 of 36, or 64%, at Marion, Ill., are Muslim.

BOP's actions have been challenged legally by the Center for Constitutional Rights(CCR) which, The Nation magazine reports in its March 28th issue, contends inmates are being shifted to these facilities "based on their religion and/or perceived political beliefs." Author Alia Malek writes, "The extreme nature of the (BOP's) restrictions also raises the issue of cruel and unusual punishment," forbidden by the U.S. Constitution. CCR also says the CMUs impede the free speech and association rights of family members. The BOP insists that these inmates must communicate in English, another punitive barrier, and it now denies them any physical contact with their families. Thus, prisoners cannot kiss their wives or children and can only talk with them in a crabbed room through a Plexiglass wall using a tapped telephone that records their conversations.

Prisoners in the two CMUs are not being punished because of any terrorist acts. "The vast majority of these folks are there due to entrapment or material support convictions," says CCR attorney Rachel Meeropol, who has communicated with most of them. These are "terrorism-related convictions that do not involve any violence or injury." One example, Malek writes, is Yassin Aref, who simply witnessed a loan in a plot "planned by an FBI informant." Other examples include officers of the Holy Land Foundation(HLF), a U.S.-based Islamic charity that sent funds to programs administered by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Ghassan Elashi, co-founder of HLF, is behind bars for funding schools and social welfare programs in the Occupied Territories.

The Terre Haute CMU was opened during the Bush regime in 2006 and Marion followed it two years later. Both openings circumvented "the usual process federal agencies normally follow that subjects them to public scrutiny and transparency," Malek noted. She quotes William Luneburg, former chair of the American bar Association's administrative law practice section as terming the BOP action "grossly irregular" and arguably illegal. "It is not a normal thing for agencies legally bound by the APA(Administrative Procedure Act) to propose some new program, to start through the public rule-making process and then basically not complete it, and then to decide to go ahead and do it on their own." Adds David Shapiro, of the ACLU's Prison Project, "Essentially these CMUs are being operated in the absence of any rules or policies that authorize them." Shapiro said the ACLU hoped "When Obama came into office...that the use of CMUs would be revisited..."(As Clarence Darrow once told a judge, "Your Honor has the right to hope.")

One wonders if there is anyone inside the Bureau of Prisons who has a care for the impact of the CMU regulations on prisoners' families. Christy Visher, professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware, is quoted by The Nation as saying, "Contact visits where you can hold a child on your lap or touch your wife are very important." What's more, she says, "The lack of connection to family make it harder to think of a plan for post-release, and if they have no hope for life after release, then they're less likely to be making behavior change."

Nobody asked me, but behavior modification needs to begin with the Bureau of Prisons. It has apparently established a new kind of detention facility without observing the legal rules for so doing, concentrated prisoners inside based on their religion, and grossly reduced their right to communicate with their families and the outside world. As for the New Testament phrase attributed to Jesus Christ by Matthew (25:36), "I was in prison and ye came to me," the BOP is going to make that as tough as possible to fulfill for the families of Muslim inmates

(Sherwood Ross is a public relations consultant for worthy causes who also runs the Anti-War News Service, of Coral Gables, FL. To contribute to this work or contact him, email