Saturday, April 30, 2011



12:00 P.M. MARCH

FOR MORE INFORMATION: 617-470-1461 AND 415-756-8659

REMINDERS - See below for details

2. Sunday, May 1st - May Day March & Rally == Gather 11:30 a.m. 24th & Mission - March to S.F. Civic Center

3. Sunday, May 1st - Vukani Mawethu 25th anniversary concert == 4-7 p.m., Freight & Salvage, Berkeley

4. Thursday, May 5th - Committee to Defend ILWU Local 10 == Meets 7:00 p.m., ILWU, 400 North Point (at Mason), SF, Henry Schmidt Room - 2nd floor


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




STRIKE MAY 1, 2011!

CodePINK, Cindy Sheehan, and all Vulnerable Folks are calling on you to join us May 1st, 11:30am at the IWD march & rally in San Francisco to Civic Center - where we will kick-off our STRIKE MAY 2011 march to Sacramento!

We are planning to take 8 days to march to Sacramento, doing actions - marches, rallies, press conferences, flyering, bannering - in towns along the way. We will do a combination walking, biking, skating, carpooling, train, etc. to get there.

And we are arriving in Sacramento on the 9th, the same day as the teachers occupation begins, setting up a tent city, occupying the grounds until the legislature votes OUR budget!

Our general theme is: 1) NO MORE TAXES for WARS & OCCUPATIONS; and 2) NO MORE TAX BREAKS for the RICH & their CORPORATIONS!

We are hoping everyone will join in the MARCH & TENT CITY for however long, however many day(s), hour(s) you choose.

AND we hope you will bring YOUR main focus/issue and represent! We are thinking of making each day of the walk a different issue/focus. And certainly at the TENT CITY, we are hoping everyone will do teach-ins to share their information and build a strong coalition.

If you are willing to endorse, please email info AT or call 510-540-7007 and leave your name, number, email, and organization.

If you are willing to be active and work on this STRIKE MAY 2011 for however long, in any capacity, before, after, during, please also email or call ASAP!


End war on women!
End war on workers, immigrants, people of color!
End wars of occupation!
End wars of corporate greed!
End wars on our Mother Earth!
End all wars!
Bring our tax$$ home!Take our tax$$ back from the rich!


Middle East Children's Alliance
Bay Area book release event: The Goldstone Report
Thursday, May 5, 2011, 7:00 P.M.
First Congregational Church
2501 Harrison St.
Oakland, Ca. 94610
$15, $10 low income/ students

The Middle East Children's Alliance presents the bay area book release of "The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict" -- an edited version of Judge Richard Goldstone's UN report which documents war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, with a Forward by Desmond Tutu, an Introduction by Naomi Klein, and essays by leading journalists/activists/academics. Two of the book's editors, Phillip Weiss & Adam Horowitz of, will speak about first-hand testimonies and lead a discussion about why these stories matter and what we can do. Also, George Bisharat, law professor at UC Hastings, will introduce the event.


A Benefit for MECA's Maia Project:

Event page:




The Jeremy Marks case is one of the worst cases of state repression and deserving of everyone's support across the state of California and the country.

In May 2010 Jeremy videotaped a school police woman brutalizing one of his fellow students at a school bus stop. The police officer assault was witnessed by many at Marks' high school that day. Unbelievably Jeremy was arrested for "Attempted Lynching" an outdated charge of inciting a riot. 18 year old Jeremy was put in jail with a $150,000 bail. He stayed in jail until December when a Google engineer put up the bail money and he got out of jail in time to spend Christmas at home.


Our collective reality has been drastically changed since New Year's 2009 when witnesses captured BART police on video murdering Oscar Grant and since the outbreak of rebellions in Oakland of 2009 and 2010. For the first time in our lifetimes a white policeman is doing time for murdering an unarmed black man.

An Injury to One is an Injury to All

The powers that be certainly do not want the people to photograph police when they brutalize, terrorize and murder our people. But we will continue to film the brutal actions of the police and share those videos for all to see. There is no stopping the people's demand to be free from police terror.

Since Oscar's murder, laws are pending in 13 states making it illegal to record on-duty police. Prior to Oscar's assassination, only three states had such anti-copwatching laws!

The Oscar Grant Committee stands in solidarity with Jeremy Marks and in defense of all copwatchers! We support his struggle for justice and demand that the DA drop all the charges against him now!

A Black Mother's Fight to Save Her Son

Please join Ms. Rochelle Pittman, Jeremy's mother, on Mother's Day for a very special afternoon in Solidarity with Jeremy Marks

Sunday, May 8th at 3 p.m.
Eastside Arts Alliance Center
2277 International Boulevard, Oakland

Hear Ms. Pittman speak on:

Monday, May 9th at 7:00 pm
Humanist Hall
390-27th Street, Oakland
(between Broadway & Telegraph)

Also on:

Wednesday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m.

1612 - 45th Avenue - Eastlake YMCA
2 blocks from Fremont High School

Sign the on-line petition at:

Sponsored by: Jeremy Marks Defense Committee, ANSWER Coalition, Berkeley CopWatch, Center for Progressive Action, Homies Empowerment Program & OSCAR GRANT COMMITTEE Against Police Brutality & State Repression

For more info: call (510) 225-9212 or email


March & Rally at Wells Fargo's Annual Shareholders Meeting

When: May 3, 2011 at 11:30 a.m.
Where: Justin Herman Plaza (Embarcadero & Market Streets, San Francisco)

We are all sick and tired of paying for the cost of the economic crisis caused by Wall Street greed and government neglect. This is not new, we're all well aware that our communities have been suffering from an economic crisis for decades, but what is new is the opportunity that we have at the moment to bring our communities together to demand that the BIG BANKS PAY!

Millions of California families have lost their homes, their jobs and freedom to incarceration, all at the hands of the BIG BANKS.

Despite the tremendous impact the economic crisis is having on families, our communities, our cities and our lives, BIG BANKS like WELLS FARGO have continued their corrupt practices and neglected their responsibility to PAY WHAT THEY OWE our communities.

Wells Fargo made record profits last year, and handed out HUGE executive bonuses. Wells Fargo brought in almost $19 BILLION in pretax income in 2010, yet they are still FORECLOSING on homes, ILLEGALLY EVICTING tenants, AVOIDING PROPERTY TAXES AND FEES on BLIGHTED properties they own.

What makes matters even worse, is that they choose to invest their money in the incarceration of communities of color as a major stockholder in the GEO group, a private prison corporation!

We cannot stand by and let corporations like Wells Fargo take OUR money, OUR homes, OUR jobs, and OUR lives! That's why hundreds of tenants, families, homeowners, immigrants, and workers will gather on May 3 for a march and rally at the Wells Fargo Annual Shareholders meeting in downtown San Francisco.

We're taking our message directly to the bank leadership, demanding that they to pay their fair share and act now to keep families in their homes, stop predatory lending, and stop profiting from detaining immigrant communities.

This event is the first of a series of public actions being organized at Big Bank Shareholder Meetings throughout the month of May. The event is being organized by ACCE, CCISCO, Causa Justa::Just Cause (CJJC), SEIU 1021, Jobs with Justice, CRC, PICO California, Oakland Education Association, and many others.

Please see the flier in English and Spanish and forward it far and wide!

Thursday May 12th
Campaign to End Wage Theft Launch
9:30 AM Press Event at SF City Hall
10 AM Public Hearing
Join the Progressive Workers Alliance to launch our campaign to end wage theft-because everyone has the right to be paid for the hours they work. For a San Francisco of opportunity and progress, it's time to say no more wage theft!

Friday, May 13th
State of Emergency Statewide Actions to Defend Public Education and Services
4:00 pm Rally at SF Civic Center Plaza

August 5-7th
National Jobs with Justice Conference
Washington, DC
Help build the movement for worker's rights and social justice locally and nationally by supporting Jobs with Justice San Francisco!


Save the Date!

Kent State University
Kent, Ohio
June 24-26, 2011

Working people across the country -- from Wisconsin and Ohio to New York, Oregon, and California -- are facing unprecedented attacks by corporations and the rich with the help of the federal, state and local politicians that they fund.

The corporate agenda is clear: It is to bust unions and cut workers' pay and benefits -- both in the private and public sectors. It is to erode and privatize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It is to dismantle the public sector and social services by denying funds for job creation, education, health care, environmental protection, and rebuilding the infrastructure. It is to ensure that taxes on the wealthy are constantly lowered while the bite on workers and the poor is constantly increased. It is to perpetuate U.S. wars and occupations whenever it serves the interests of the multinationals. It is to divide the working class by race, gender, national origin, religion, and sexual orientation. It is also to limit and restrict constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties. The list goes on.

In state capitals, communities and workplaces across the country, workers are fighting back. But if we're going to be successful in pushing back the attacks on collective bargaining, stopping the budget cuts and concessions, creating jobs, and defending social services and education, we need to build unity within our movement, including forging stronger ties with labor's allies: communities of color, students and youth, single-payer advocates, environmentalists, antiwar activists, immigrant rights supporters, and other progressive forces.

Relying on politicians to defend us -- the so-called "friends of labor" -- has proven to be disastrous. During the past three decades, working people have suffered a dramatic decline in their standard of living while the rich have amassed an unprecedented amount of wealth at the top, regardless of which of the major parties was running the government. We have had every combination imaginable: Republicans occupying the White House with a majority in Congress, Democrats occupying the White House with a majority in Congress, or some kind of "divided government." But in each case the result for working people has been the same: conditions got worse for workers while the corporations prospered even more. Why should we continue this vicious cycle?

The working class has the power to put an end to this situation. And as the debate over the debt and the deficit intensifies, the need has never been greater for an organized campaign to demand "No Cuts, No Concessions!" whether in regard to social programs or workers' wages and benefits. We say place the burden for solving the financial crises squarely where it belongs: on the rich. They caused the crisis, let them pay for it!

The Emergency Labor Network (ELN) was initiated earlier this year at a historic meeting of 100 union leaders and activists from around the country. Join us June 24-26, 2011 at Kent State University in Ohio for a national labor-community conference to spur the campaign to build a more militant fight-back movement and to launch a national campaign for an alternative agenda for working people. Together we can move forward on both fronts.

This conference is open to all who agree with its purpose, as explained in this Call. To register for the conference, please go to our website at If you prefer to register offline, write or call 216-736-4715 for a registration form.

For more information, e-mail or call 216-736-4715.


Oct. 7 - Protest, March & Die-In on 10th Anniversary of Afghanistan War
Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, 4:30-6:30pm
New Federal Building, 7th & Mission Sts, SF
Protest & Die-In on 10th Anniversary of Afghanistan War

End All the Wars & Occupations-Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Libya, Haiti . . .
Money for Jobs, Healthcare & Schools-Not for the Pentagon

Friday, October 7, 2011 will be the exact 10th anniversary of the U.S./NATO war on the people of Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of Afghani people have been killed, wounded and displaced, and thousands of U.S. and NATO forces killed and wounded. The war costs more than $126 billion per year at a time when social programs are being slashed.

The true and brutal character of the U.S. strategy to "win hearts and minds" of the Afghani population was described by a Marine officer, quoted in a recent ANSWER Coalition statement:

"You can't just convince them [Afghani people] through projects and goodwill," another Marine officer said. "You have to show up at their door with two companies of Marines and start killing people. That's how you start convincing them." (To read the entire ANSWER statement, click here)

Mark your calendar now and help organize for the October 7 march and die-in in downtown San Francisco. There are several things you can do:

1. Reply to this email to endorse the protest and die-in.
2. Spread the word and help organize in your community, union, workplace and campus.
3. Make a donation to help with organizing expenses.

Only the people can stop the war!

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
2969 Mission St.


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


Labor Beat: We Are One - Illinois



"He broke the law!" says Obama about Bradley Manning who has yet to even be charged, let alone, gone to trial and found guilty. How horrendous is it for the President to declare someone guilty before going to trial or being charged with a crime! Justice in the U.S.A.!

Obama on FREE BRADLEY MANNING protest... San Francisco, CA. April 21, 2011-Presidential remarks on interrupt/interaction/performance art happening at fundraiser. Logan Price queries Barack after org. FRESH JUICE PARTY political action.


More troops join anti-government protests in Yemen
More soldiers have been joining anti-government protests on the streets of the capital Sana'a.

More at The Real News


W.E. A.L.L. B.E.: Miss. Medical Examiner Dr. Adel Shaker On Frederick Carter Hanging (4/19/2011)


Egyptian Soldiers Join Protest Demanding End to Military Dictatorship
Adam Hanieh: Class struggle in Egypt enters a new stage

More at The Real News


Row over Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning treatment (12Apr11)


AP writer--State Department on Human Rights Abuse of Bradley Manning


Max Romeo - Socialism Is Love


Cuba: The Accidental Eden

[This is a stunningly beautiful portrait of the Cuban natural environment as it is today. However, several times throughout, the narrator tends to imply that if it werent for the U.S. embargo against Cuba, Cuba's natural environmet would be destroyed by the influx of tourism, ergo, the embargo is saving nature. But the Cuban scientists and naturalists tell a slightly different story. But I don't want to spoil the delightfully surprising ending. It's a beautiful film of a beautiful country full of beautiful, articulate and well-educated]

Watch the full episode. See more Nature.


VIDEO: SWAT Team Evicts Grandmother

Take Back the Land- Rochester Eviction Defense March 28, 2011


B. D. S. [Boycott, Divest, Sanction against Israel]
(Jackson 5) Chicago Flashmob


Afghans for Peace


The Kill Team
How U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses - and how their officers failed to stop them. Plus: An exclusive look at the war crime photos censored by the Pentagon
Rolling Stone
March 27, 3011

Afghans respond to "Kill Team"




The Kill Team Photos More war crime images the Pentagon doesn't want you to see

'Death Zone' How U.S. soldiers turned a night-time airstrike into a chilling 'music video'

'Motorcycle Kill' Footage of an Army patrol gunning down two men in Afghanistan




Frederick Alexander Meade on The Prison Industrial Complex


BP Oil Spill Scientist Bob Naman: Seafood Still Not Safe


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


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


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


Free Bradley Manning


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




Defend our liberties! In solidarity, buy a Civil Liberty Bond today
Committee to Stop FBI Repression Defend Our Civil Liberties!
PO Box 14183, Minneapolis MN 55414 Buy a Civil Liberty Bond Today! An Injury to One is an Injury to All!

Dear Friends,

Statements of support and actions taken by your organization are deeply appreciated. Thank you!

Do you want another way to actively support the defense of our Civil Liberties and the antiwar and international solidarity activists targeted by the FBI in the current sweep of repression?

Civil Liberty Bonds are perfect birthday or holiday or any-day gifts! For organizations and for individuals.

Civil Liberty Bonds are available in denominations of $10, $25, $50, $100, $250 & $500. They may be purchased online and printed directly from the website by clicking on this link: Civil Liberty Bonds.  Or from a link that appears in the upper right corner on the home page that takes you directly to the Civil Liberty Bond page.

Show your visible support for Civil Liberties. Buy a Civil Liberty Bond for your organization! Civil Liberty Bond can a gift to a liberty-loving individual or presented to honor a courageous organization like yours. Or a bond may be framed to hang on wall in an office or home to boldly declare, as it says: Material Support for the defense of freedom of speech, thought and action in the service of solidarity and peace. The bearer is entitled "as are we all" to a future free from harassment and repression.

All 23 of the targeted activists say that they will not cooperate with this witch hunt against the movements so many of us have worked to build. The U.S. attorney is working to put these activists in prison. Whether some of them are indicted, or others are jailed for refusing to testify, the threat is very real. We will carry forward the fight for our right to speak out, organize and to stand in solidarity with those who want freedom.

We invite your organization to purchase a Civil Liberty Bond to help with legal expenses for the subpoenaed activists. National Lawyers Guild attorneys are donating countless hours of time and expertise to ensure the protection of First Amendment rights. As the legal processes continue and several more people have been subpoenaed, the costs of legal office staff, court fees, and supplies are mounting.

Please also forward this request to purchase bonds to your membership via a special mailing or your regular communications. Remember that Civil Liberty Bonds are perfect birthday or holiday or any-day gifts!

Gratitude for your solidarity can hardly be expressed in words. Thank you for your continuing support of our Civil Liberties and those who are specifically targeted by the FBI. Your support is essential for all of us.


the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

P.O. Box 14183
Minneapolis MN Â 55414

P.S. Don't forget to go to Stop and sign the Pledge to Resist!


Please forward and otherwise distribute this message!

Committee to Stop FBI Repression


Abolish the Death Penalty Blog

Abolish the Death Penalty is a blog dedicated to...well, you know. The purpose of Abolish is to tell the personal stories of crime victims and their loved ones, people on death row and their loved ones and those activists who are working toward abolition. You may, from time to time, see news articles or press releases here, but that is not the primary mission of Abolish the Death Penalty. Our mission is to put a human face on the debate over capital punishment.
You can also follow death penalty news by reading our News page and by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

1 Million Tweets for Troy! April 12, 2011

Take Action! Tweet for Troy!

The state of Georgia is seeking to change the drugs they use to carry out executions so they can resume scheduling execution dates, including that of Troy Davis, a man with a strong claim of innocence. Doubts in the case persist, including the fact that no physical evidence links him to the murder, most of the witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony and newer testimony implicates a different person (including an eyewitness account).

The Davis case has already generated hundreds of thousands of emails, calls, and letters in support of clemency, including from leaders such as the Pope, Jimmy Carter and former FBI chief Bill Sessions. We need to continue to amass petitions in support of clemency, demonstrating the widespread concern about this case and what it represents.

Please help us send a message to Georgia officials that they can do the right thing - they can intervene as the final failsafe by commuting Davis' sentence. Please help us generate 1 million tweets for Troy Davis!

Share this tweet alert with your friends and family that care about justice and life as soon as you can.

More information about the case is available at

Here are some sample tweets:

When in doubt, don't execute!! Sign the petition for #TroyDavis!

Too much doubt! Stop the execution! #TroyDavis needs us!

No room for doubt! Stop the execution of #TroyDavis . Retweet, sign petition

Case not "ironclad", yet Georgiacould execute #TroyDavis ! Not on our watch! Petition:

No murder weapon. No physical evidence. Stop the execution! #TroyDavis petition:

7 out of 9 eyewitnesses recanted. No physical evidence. Stop the execution of Troy Davis #TroyDavis



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.

Bulletin from the cause: Bradley Manning Support Network
Go to Cause
Posted By: Tom Baxter
To: Members in Bradley Manning Support Network
A Good Address for Bradley!!!

We have a good address for Bradley,

"A Fort Leavenworth mailing address has been released for Bradley Manning:

Bradley Manning 89289
830 Sabalu Road
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027

The receptionist at the military barracks confirmed that if someone sends Bradley Manning a letter to that address, it will be delivered to him."

This is also a Facebook event!/event.php?eid=207100509321891


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



Write to Lynne Stewart at:

Lynne Stewart #53504 - 054
Unit 2N
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TEXAS 76127

Visiting Lynne:

Visiting is very liberal but first she has to get people on her visiting list; wait til she 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.

Commissary Money:

Commissary Money is always welcome It is how Lynne pay for the phone and for email. Also 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 !)

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.

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


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.



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


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) GE Sees Best Profit Outlook in a Decade, Execs Say
April 27, 2011

2) Main Street Rage: Americans Protest Awful GOP Budget Plan at Town Halls Around the Country
By , ThinkProgress
Posted on April 27, 2011, Printed on April 28, 2011

3) Increasing Numbers of Women Face Jail Time for Wanting an Abortion
By Michelle Goldberg, The Nation
Posted on April 25, 2011, Printed on April 28, 2011

4) US court grants new sentencing for Mumia Abu-Jamal
By MARYCLAIRE DALE Associated Press
April 26, 2011

5) One Year After BP Oil Spill, At Least 1.1 Million Barrels Still Missing
Where in the Gulf of Mexico is the oil from the Macondo well blowout?
By David Biello
Monday, April 25, 2011 | 10

6) A Criminal Past Makes a Job Search Even Harder
"Almost 65 million Americans have criminal records, either for an arrest or a conviction, according to a recent report by the National Employment Law Project, whose policy co-director, Maurice Emsellem, says that the figure is probably an underestimate."
April 28, 2011

7) Like the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars? You'll LOVE This!
Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 09:45 AM PDT!?detail=hide

8) Egypt FM: Gaza border crossing to be permanently opened
Egyptian FM tells Al-Jazeera that preparations are already underway to permanently open Rafah border crossing, which would allow goods and people in and out of Gaza with no Israeli supervision.
By Avi Issacharoff
April 28, 2011

9) (IPS) Death Penalty in Limbo after US DEA Confiscates Lethal Drugs

10) The Oil Company Gusher
"Exxon-Mobil's first quarter earnings of $10.7 billion are up 69 percent from last year."
By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
April 29, 11

11) Bradley Manning Moved to More Humane Cell -- But Did Obama Stain His Right to Fair Trial?
By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, AlterNet
Posted on April 29, 2011, Printed on April 29, 2011

12) Army Says WikiLeaks Suspect Fit to Stand Trial
April 29, 2011

13) In Shift, Egypt Warms to Iran and Hamas, Israel's Foes
April 28, 2011

14) Japan's Prime Minister Defends Handling of Nuclear Crisis
April 30, 2011

15) Syrian Forces Shoot at Protesters in Dara'a Siege
April 29, 2011

16) Indiana Bill Cuts Funds for Clinics for Women
April 29, 2011

17) Massachusetts House Seeks to Limit Collective Bargaining
"'Everybody's pretty upset,' said Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts A.F.L.-C.I.O. 'It's hard for me to understand how my good friends in the Massachusetts House, that have told me they support collective bargaining, could do this.' ...On Friday, Mr. Patrick said through a spokesman that labor must have 'a meaningful role' in determining how to control health care costs, though he did not elaborate. The House voted 111-42 in favor of the plan, with 81 Democrats approving it."
April 29, 2011


1) GE Sees Best Profit Outlook in a Decade, Execs Say
April 27, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - General Electric Co believes the global economy is continuing to improve and that earnings growth at the largest U.S. conglomerate over the next few years will be the best it has seen in a decade, top executives said.

Rising oil prices have not yet taken a toll on global growth rates, Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said at the company's shareholders meeting on Wednesday.

"Things are getting better every day. The global economy outside the U.S. is strong," he told reporters ahead of the annual meeting.

Asked about oil prices, which have risen about 33 percent over the past year on rising demand, particularly in emerging markets, Immelt said they have not yet taken a toll on growth.

"It's something to think about, but it doesn't seem to be hurting the economy," he said.

The U.S. economy is also improving, he added, although the housing sector remains a weak spot.

The company believes its profit growth over the next few years will be the best it has seen in a decade, officials said.

"This is the best earnings outlook we've had in the last 10 years," Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin told the shareholders.

GE no longer provides investors with numeric profit forecasts, but analysts on average look for earnings per share excluding one-time items to rise 16.5 percent this year, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.


The future of the nuclear power industry is unclear in the wake of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima power plant, where GE designed the turbines, Immelt said.

"It's too soon to say what the future of the nuclear business is going to be," he said. GE's nuclear operations are a joint venture with Japan's Hitachi Ltd.

The world's largest maker of jet engines and electric turbines has seen its stock price more than triple from its recessionary lows below $6, though the shares remain at about half their level before Immelt took the top job from Jack Welch a decade ago.

In his address to shareholders, Immelt noted that even through the recession and financial crisis, "in every year we earned more money than when the stock traded at an all-time high."

GE shares were up 2.7 percent to $20.64 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Over the past year, the shares have risen 4 percent, lagging the 12 percent rise of the Dow Jones industrial average, of which it is a component.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company has raised its dividend three times by a total of 50 percent since last July, pushing the quarterly payout to 15 cents per share, in line with the company's goal of paying out 45 percent of profit to shareholders.

But the dividend is still less than half the 31 cents a share GE was paying quarterly before it slashed the payout during the financial crisis.

GE, which employs about 134,000 people in the United States, each year holds its shareholders meeting in a different city where it has operations. Its energy, healthcare and finance arms all have a presence in Salt Lake City.

The company competes with some of the world's largest businesses, including Germany's Siemens AG, French industrial group Alstom SA and Swiss engineering company ABB Ltd.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, John Wallace, Dave Zimmerman)


2) Main Street Rage: Americans Protest Awful GOP Budget Plan at Town Halls Around the Country
By , ThinkProgress
Posted on April 27, 2011, Printed on April 28, 2011

At town hall events across the country, Americans are confronting members of Congress who voted for the House Republicans' radical budget, which effectively ends Medicare, slashes Medicaid, hacks away at domestic spending, and extends tax breaks for the wealthy. The entire House GOP caucus except for four lawmakers voted for Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget earlier this month, claiming a mandate from the November elections to drastically reduce domestic spending. But Republicans went beyond any semblance of responsible budget tightening to a radical deconstruction of core pillars of the health, safety, and security of the country. Recent polls show Americans are firmly opposed to Ryan's budget proposal, with over 70 percent of Republicans opposing cuts to Medicare, while over 80 percent of Americans overall disapprove of cuts to the social safety net program. And Americans are clearly demonstrating their displeasure with their GOP lawmakers, who are in their home districts for this month on recess from Congress. Last week, as lawmakers began holding town hall sessions in their districts, a number of Washington commentators wondered, "If the Ryan budget is so unpopular, where are the town-hall meltdowns?" This week, in the Washington commentariat got their answer as town hall anger went from a few isolated incidents to a daily deluge of passion and temper from Americans frustrated with their out-of-touch representatives. The town halls, like the opposition to the GOP budget more generally, were slow to begin in part because Ryan was so quick to act. While President Obama and congressional Democrats allowed for over a year of debate, study, and discussion on their health care reform law, House Republicans unveiled and voted on their plan to radically transform Medicare in a matter of weeks, giving opponents almost no time to mobilize against it or educate Americans about its effects. Moreover, those opposed to Ryan's plan don't have the constant cheerleading of right-wing talk radio and Fox News, which directly helped organize and promote the 2009 town halls. Nonetheless, as part of what the Progress Report has dubbed a Main Street Movement of average Americans upset that conservatives want to cut social services and public investment for everyday people while lavishing tax breaks on the wealthy and corporations, Americans are standing up to their lawmakers on their own.

MEDICARE: Many of the town hall protests this month have targeted freshmen Republicans from swing districts who were voted into office in last November's GOP wave. While voters may have wanted to send a message to Washington by electing a Republican, they have been dismayed by how radically right-wing their new congressmen have turned out to be. One of the first documented town hall protests last week was at a stop of freshman Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA). During the campaign, Meehan assured his future constituents that he wouldn't vote for Ryan's "agenda," but once in office, he did just that. "Meehan was asked about entitlement reform and Medicare at nearly every town hall he went to" last week, with constituents' anger visible. By the weekend, freshmen Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL), Charlie Bass (R-NH), Sean Duffy (R-WI), and Lou Barletta (R-PA) had all faced constituent anger of their own over the GOP's Medicare privatization plan. At a town hall in Hillsborough, NH, the first six questions Bass faced from constituents were about his vote to privatize Medicare. One attendee pointed out that what the Republicans are doing is pursuing a "divide and conquer"strategy by eliminating Medicare for future generations while keeping it for current seniors. At a town hall in Shell Late, WI, Duffy got into a heated exchange with constituents when he insisted that Ryan's plan does not effectively replace Medicare with a voucher system, but attendees repeatedly corrected him. Later, Duffy got huffy; frustrated by his constituents' questions about his presentation, he told attendees, "When you have your town hall you can stand up and give your presentation." Yesterday, constituent anger reached a boiling point at a town hall in Orlando for freshman Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) when "bedlam" erupted as constituents angrily peppered him with questions about his vote for privatizing Medicare. Webster tried to avoid answering many of the questions, and eventually, conservative hecklers fired back at those trying to hold Webster accountable. Police officers flanked Webster and had to tell the crowd to quite down.

TAXES: The other main theme constituents have been pressing their lawmakers on this month is tax fairness. Ryan's budget would preserve the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans while cutting corporate tax rates -- a proposal even Ryan's own constituents are not happy about. During a town hall meeting in Milton, WI, last week, a constituent who described himself as a "lifelong conservative" asked Ryan about the effects of growing income inequality in our nation. The constituent noted that huge income disparities contributed to the Great Depression and the Great Recession, and thus wanted to know why the congressman was "fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire." Ryan responded by saying, "we do tax the top," eliciting a a chorus of boos and grumbling from attendees. Yesterday, Ryan faced chants of "Ryan stop lying!" at a town hall in Kenosha, WI, which drew a capacity crowd inside and over a 100 protesters outside. "Do not renew the Bush tax credit for the wealthy," one man demanded. Meanwhile, at a town hall in Salem, NY, Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) faced similar outbursts. In answering a question, Gibson said that Americans pay higher taxes because "here are people in the country that are not paying taxes because they're illegal [immigrants]." At this point, a town hall attendee cried out, "You mean like GE?!" forcing the congressman to say that he agreed that the company needs to pay its fair share. Audience members at Dold's town hall said they "don't believe chopping 10 percentage points off the highest corporate tax rate will create jobs." At Duffy's town hall, one attendee said she agrees with Ryan's concerns about the deficit and "that's why we have to raise taxes on the rich, and raise taxes on the corporations who have never been richer than they have now. And you guys just cut their taxes again." "Oh yeah!" another constituent responded.

'EVERY RIGHT TO SPEAK': During the 2009 town halls, which mostly targeted Democrats, Republican lawmakers repeatedly praised tea party activists for their disruptions at town halls, saying it was important to let them have their voices heard. But now that they're on the receiving end of constituents' anger, it's unclear how much Republicans will embrace this democratic process. Ryan abruptly left a town hall yesterday ahead of schedule, citing "security concerns" from hecklers. But Ryan went through with a town hall in 2009 despite credible threats against union members at the event. At a town hall in 2009, when a heckler disrupted Ryan and promoted boos from other audience members, Ryan told the crowd, "She has every right to talk, every right to speak." In an interview with Fox News at the time, Ryan said Obama's policies had driven people to the town halls, which he praised as a grass roots outpouring of "people up in arms" about bad policies. "[T]his is amazing," Ryan told a largely supportive town hall in Aug. 2009. Meanwhile, conservatives are trying to drown out progressives at today's town halls, with American Action Network -- a relatively new conservative front group founded by a group of Wall Street bankers -- loading up conservative activists with softball questions and talking points to bolster Republican lawmakers on the Ryan plan.


3) Increasing Numbers of Women Face Jail Time for Wanting an Abortion
By Michelle Goldberg, The Nation
Posted on April 25, 2011, Printed on April 28, 2011

Utah prosecutors and conservative politicians are determined to lock up the young woman known in court filings as J.M.S. for the crime of trying to end her pregnancy. Her grim journey through the legal system began in 2009, when she was 17 and pregnant by a convicted felon named Brandon Gale, who is currently facing charges of using her and another underage girl to make pornography. J.M.S. lived in a house without electricity or running water in a remote part of Utah. Even if she could have obtained the required parental consent and scraped together money for an abortion and a couple of nights in a hotel to comply with Utah's twenty-four-hour waiting period, simply getting to the nearest clinic posed an enormous challenge. Salt Lake City is more than a three-hour drive from her town, twice that in bad weather, when snow makes the mountain passes treacherous. There is no public transportation, and she didn't have a driver's license.

And so, according to prosecutors, in May 2009, in her third trimester and desperate, J.M.S. paid a stranger $150 to beat her in the hope of inducing a miscarriage. The assault failed to end her pregnancy, but that didn't stop police from charging her with criminal solicitation of murder. The juvenile court judge who heard her case, however, tossed it out on the grounds that her actions were legal under the state's definition of abortion.

Local abortion opponents were outraged that J.M.S. had been freed. "It revealed an extreme weakness in the law, that a pregnant woman could do anything she wanted to do -- it did not matter how grotesque or brutal -- all the way up until the date of birth to kill her unborn child," said Carl Wimmer, a state representative. He led a successful campaign to amend Utah's abortion law so that as of last year, women who end their pregnancies outside the medical system can be prosecuted as killers. "We will be the only state in the nation that will do what we're attempting to do here: hold a woman accountable for killing her unborn child," Wimmer told the Salt Lake Tribune.

He's wrong. In recent years, women in several states have faced arrest and imprisonment for the crime of ending their pregnancies, or merely attempting to do so. For decades now, feminists have warned about a post-Roe v. Wade world in which women are locked up for having abortions. Antiabortion activists dismiss such fears as propaganda. "The pro-life position has always been that women are victimized by abortion," says the Priests for Life website, which has a page of sample letters to the editor meant to refute claims that abortion bans could lead to women being prosecuted. "In fact, we have repeatedly rejected the suggestion that women should be put in jail, much less executed." But as abortion rights weaken and fetuses are endowed with a separate legal identity, women are being put in jail.

One of the most high-profile such cases is that of Bei Bei Shuai, who is, as of this writing, being held without bail in Indianapolis. Shuai, 34, was nearing the end of her pregnancy when she learned that her boyfriend, the baby's father, with whom she co-owned a restaurant, was married to another woman and was returning to his first family. After attempting to kill herself by eating rat poison, she was found by friends and taken to a hospital. After several days, doctors performed a C-section, delivering her baby girl prematurely. At first, they were optimistic that Shuai and her baby would make a full recovery. But the baby had cerebral bleeding and died a few days later in her mother's arms. Shuai spent the next month in the psychiatric ward on suicide watch. Shortly after her release, she was charged with murder and attempted feticide, or fetal homicide, and has been locked up for more than a month, with little access to psychiatric care. In court "she's sitting there in an orange jumpsuit with handcuffs," says her attorney, Linda Pence. "It's the most unfair, inhumane thing that I've witnessed."

Shocking as this case is, it's not unique. In 2009 in South Carolina, 22-year-old Jessica Clyburn, eight months pregnant, tried to kill herself by jumping out a fifth-story window. She survived, but her fetus didn't, and she was charged with homicide (she pleaded guilty to manslaughter).

Last year in Iowa, Christine Taylor, a pregnant 22-year-old mother of two, was arrested for attempted feticide after falling down the stairs. Taylor, who said she'd tripped after a distressing phone conversation with her estranged husband, went to the hospital to make sure her fetus was OK. While there, she confided to a nurse that she'd considered an abortion and was anxious about raising three children alone. Believing that Taylor had purposely thrown herself down the stairs, the nurse called over a doctor, who questioned her further. Police were summoned, and Taylor was arrested. The charges were dismissed only when prosecutors discovered that Taylor was in her second trimester, not her third, when criminal penalties could apply.

"This notion that the criminal laws can be used to address the relationship between a pregnant woman and her fetus, it's definitely on the rise," says Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project.

Whether the antiabortion movement intended such prosecutions, antiabortion legislation helps make them possible. Throughout the past few decades, abortion foes have worked steadily to endow fetuses with rights separate from those of mothers, aiming to undermine the logic of Roe v. Wade. "In as many areas as we can, we want to put on the books that the embryo is a person," Samuel Casey, former executive director of the Christian Legal Society, told the Los Angeles Times in 2003. "That sets the stage for a jurist to acknowledge that human beings at any stage of development deserve protection -- even protection that would trump a woman's interest in terminating a pregnancy."

One of the most effective ways of doing this has been through feticide laws, which exist in at least thirty-eight states, as well as at the federal level. Often these laws are introduced in the wake of a high-profile crime against a pregnant woman. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act, for example, which George W. Bush signed in 2004, was called "Laci and Conner's Law," after Laci Peterson, killed by her husband when she was eight months pregnant. Presented as a means of protecting women from violence, these laws seem designed to make feminists who oppose them appear callous and hypocritical. Who, after all, could object to punishing someone for harming a woman and her wanted pregnancy?

But time and again, such laws are used to prosecute pregnant women. The initial targets, says Lynn Paltrow, founder of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, were women who had used drugs during pregnancy. "There are a number of women who've been convicted or pled guilty based on the fact that they went to term or tried to go to term in spite of a drug problem," she says. Now, a new wave of cases is taking the underlying logic of fetal protection laws still further. "What we're seeing is an unadulterated, undisguised version of what's been building for years," says Paltrow.

Indiana strengthened its feticide law in 2009, prescribing prison sentences of up to twenty years for anyone who intentionally kills a fetus outside the context of a legal abortion. "The sole reason the feticide law was enacted was because of third-party attacks against pregnant women," says Pence. "Now they're turning it against the woman."

In Utah, meanwhile, prosecutors aren't letting up on J.M.S. They appealed the dismissal of her case to the State Supreme Court, which heard arguments in April. Because the law has since been changed, this isn't a question of clarifying statutes or setting precedents -- it's about punishing one girl. Whatever the ruling, concedes Assistant Attorney General Christopher Ballard, "its practical application will only be in this case." J.M.S., he acknowledges, "is a victimized young woman. She's a troubled young woman."

So why go after her? "She committed a crime when she paid someone to beat her unborn child to death, and she deserves whatever ramifications come from committing that crime," he says. If abortion is understood as murder, this is what justice looks like.

Michelle Goldberg, the author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World, is a columnist for The Daily Beast and Tablet.
(c) 2011 The Nation All rights reserved.


4) US court grants new sentencing for Mumia Abu-Jamal
By MARYCLAIRE DALE Associated Press
April 26, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered a new sentencing hearing for convicted police killer and death-row activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, finding for a second time that the death-penalty instructions given to the jury at his 1982 trial were potentially misleading.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered prosecutors to conduct the new sentencing hearing within six months or agree to a life sentence. Abu-Jamal's first-degree murder conviction nonetheless stands in the fatal shooting of Officer Daniel Faulkner.

Prosecutors said they were considering another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We continue to maintain that granting this new sentencing hearing is contrary to clearly established precedent of the United States Supreme Court," District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement.

Abu-Jamal's lawyer, Widener University law professor Judith Ritter, did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press.

Tuesday's ruling is the latest in Abu-Jamal's long-running legal saga.

A federal judge in 2001 first granted the former Black Panther a new sentencing hearing over the trial judge's instructions on aggravating and mitigating factors. Philadelphia prosecutors have been fighting the order since, but the 3rd Circuit ruled against them in a pivotal 2008 decision.

In rejecting a similar claim in an Ohio death-penalty case last year, the Supreme Court ordered the Philadelphia appeals court to revisit its Abu-Jamal decision.

On Tuesday, the 3rd Circuit judges stood their ground and noted differences in the two cases.

Under Pennsylvania law, Abu-Jamal should have received a life sentence if a single juror found the mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating factors in Faulkner's slaying. The three-judge appeals panel found the verdict form confusing, given its repeated use of the word "unanimous," even in the section on mitigating circumstances.

"The Pennsylvania Supreme Court failed to evaluate whether the complete text of the verdict form, together with the jury instructions, would create a substantial probability the jury believed both aggravating and mitigating circumstances must be found unanimously," Judge Anthony J. Scirica wrote in the 32-page ruling.

Tuesday's decision upholds the 2001 ruling by U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr., who first ruled that the flawed jury instructions warranted a new sentencing hearing. While prosecutors were fighting that ruling, Abu-Jamal has been fighting unsuccessfully to have his conviction overturned.

Faulkner, a white 25-year-old patrolman, had pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother on a darkened downtown street in 1981. Prosecutors say Abu-Jamal saw the traffic stop and shot Faulkner, who managed to shoot back. A wounded Abu-Jamal, his own gun nearby, was found at the scene when police arrived.

Abu-Jamal is now 58. His writings and radio broadcasts from death row have made him a cause celebre and the subject of numerous books and movies. Hundreds of vocal death-penalty opponents and supporters typically turn out for hearings in his case.


5) One Year After BP Oil Spill, At Least 1.1 Million Barrels Still Missing
Where in the Gulf of Mexico is the oil from the Macondo well blowout?
By David Biello
Monday, April 25, 2011 | 10

COCODRIE, La.-Five million barrels of oil seems like a lot. That is approximately what spewed from the blowout at BP's Macondo well last year, about enough to fill an area the size of an American football field more than 90 meters deep-and much of it has gone missing.

"There's a lot of water out there for the oil to be in," notes toxicologist Scott Miles of Louisiana State University (L.S.U.), who has researched the fate of the oil from last year's spill. Where is it? "Your guess is as good as mine."

Last August 4, the federal government released an accounting of all that oil, updating it in November. According to that report, ships skimmed 160,000 barrels of oil and BP's various efforts captured another 820,000 barrels before it escaped into the sea. More than 400 burnings of concentrated slicks moved 260,000 barrels from water to air. The application of 1.8 million gallons of COREXIT dispersed 770,000 barrels of the oil spill while the simple mechanics of the oil and gas entering the water 1,500 meters down through a relatively narrow pipe dispersed another 630,000 barrels. Nearly a quarter of the oil evaporated or dissolved in the water or air. That leaves just 1.1 million barrels lost at sea-or hidden in the shoreline. After all, by August 20, no oil slicks from the Macondo well blowout could be detected on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

"The numbers are not unreasonable and it may very well be correct," says biologist Christopher D'Elia, dean of the School of the Coast and Environment at L.S.U. But "putting a budget together [for an oil spill] is really hard to do. Any one of these things could be off." And some scientists put the number of remaining oil much higher-as much as four million of those barrels are still out there, according to the most pessimistic estimates.

Oil eaters

There is no doubt that the hydrocarbon-eating microbes of the Gulf of Mexico had a feast last year. Their efforts may have disposed of the more than 1.4 million barrels of oil broken up into small droplets. "Where we have oxygen and light and heat, the oil will degrade rapidly," says marine and atmospheric scientist Alexander Kolker of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. "Where we don't have those things it will be slower."

Those microbes did much of their work in the deep as vast plumes of oil formed under the water, contrary to the protestations of then BP chief executive Tony Hayward and the expectations of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) head Jane Lubchenco. Scientists documented several such plumes, including one that was 200-meters high, two-kilometers wide and 35-kilometers long. That plume persisted at least through June, suggesting that microbes were not working as quickly as might have been hoped-although other research found much higher rates of microbe oil-munching, starting with the natural gas components of the blowout.

The oil that did make the trip all the way to the surface, took roughly two hours to do so and created a slick at least a kilometer away from the wellhead itself, depending on currents. And whether in the deep or on the surface, all of that oil found itself among some 643 quadrillion gallons of water-a lot of ocean to get lost in.

Yet, NOAA testing found enough of the more than 1,000 different hydrocarbons in oil to keep areas closed to fishing until April 19 this year-almost exactly a year after the spill started. "Oil is still present," explains biologist Martin Bourgeois of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

That is not entirely the fault of the consortium of companies involved in the Macondo well blowout. The Gulf of Mexico endures a slew of spills every year, in addition to the natural oil seeps that release as much as 1.4 million barrels of oil annually. Much of that oil-and likely the oil from BP's Macondo well blowout-ends up sinking to the seafloor, either directly or inside dead oil-eating microbes or oil-containing plankton. The biggest Gulf oil spill prior to BP's blowout-Ixtoc 1-saw roughly 25 percent of 3.5 million barrels of oil sink to the bottom. "Has this oil dropped to the floor?" Miles asks, noting that some deep-sea sampling suggests it has. "Oil may be getting heavier and heavier and dropping to the floor."

Persistent oil

It's not just the oil that persists, of course. At least one of the compounds in the 300 oil tankers worth of dispersants used to break up the spilled oil is still out there-dioctyl sulfosuccinate sodium salt, or DOSS, which is the active ingredient in COREXIT. "It didn't seem to be significantly degraded even through September," says chemical oceanographer Elizabeth Kujawinski of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who studied its fate in water samples. "This one component lasts. I don't know what happened to the rest."

And oil can still be found in the Louisiana marshland, in places like Bay Jimmy and Elmer's Island. That oil will be there for a very long time, based on the experience of previous oil spills such as the Florida oil barge mishap off the coast of Cape Cod or the Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. "The sediments provided a long-term refugium for toxic levels of oil," says biologist Andrew Whitehead of L.S.U.

And there's no question that oil and gas generally will remain a big part of Louisiana for the foreseeable future. Billboards promoting legal help with denied BP claims alternate with advertisements for work in the offshore oil and gas industry on the highways leading to the coast. "Our oil field is so important to our parish, we had to ask, 'Please let us drill again,' which is kind of hard to explain," says Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet. Despite the unknowns about the long-term effects of BP's Macondo well blowout, "we don't have any problems with them drilling again."

Ultimately, five million barrels is just not that much oil. Gulf of Mexico offshore oil wells produce 1.6 million barrels of oil every day and the U.S. consumes more than 20 million barrels daily. In fact, the Louisiana gulf coast endures spills year after year and month after month. "There are spills happening every day out in the Gulf of Mexico," notes Janelle Robbins, associate director for Waterkeeper. "There's a lot of oil unaccounted for, it's not gone. It's out there someplace but finding it is going to be tricky. And some people would rather not find it at all."

As the Congressional Research Service's Jonathan Ramseur wrote in his report on the fate of the oil (pdf) from December 16: "Months later it is unknown what happened to the oil that remained....It is debatable whether the fate of the remaining oil will ever be established conclusively."

Editor's Note: Reporting for this article took place as a result of a fellowship from the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting at the University of Rhode Island.


6) A Criminal Past Makes a Job Search Even Harder
"Almost 65 million Americans have criminal records, either for an arrest or a conviction, according to a recent report by the National Employment Law Project, whose policy co-director, Maurice Emsellem, says that the figure is probably an underestimate."
April 28, 2011

Convicted of robbing a video store in California in 1997, Ayanna Spikes decided to change the trajectory of her life. In 14 years, she has had no further brushes with the law.

The eight months she spent in prison, she said, were "the best thing that ever happened to me," persuading her to pursue training in medical administration and complete coursework for a degree in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. At 38, she is a far different person from the confused young woman who strayed into crime, she says.

But employers, initially impressed by her credentials, grow leery when they learn her history through criminal background checks. She has been turned down for more than a dozen jobs since finishing college in 2010.

More Americans with criminal histories than ever before are seeking jobs as they are released from prison, a legacy of overcrowding, stiffer sentencing and increased enforcement for nonviolent crimes like drug offenses, criminal justice experts said. Almost 65 million Americans have criminal records, either for an arrest or a conviction, according to a recent report by the National Employment Law Project, whose policy co-director, Maurice Emsellem, says that the figure is probably an underestimate.

Some, like Ms. Spikes, have left their criminal pasts far behind. Others were convicted of minor offenses, or of crimes that appear to have little relevance to the jobs they are seeking.

Employers once had to physically search court records to uncover the background of people they were considering hiring. But the Internet and the proliferation of screening companies that perform background checks have made digging into a job applicant's history both easy and inexpensive for prospective employers.

In a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resources Management, almost 90 percent of the companies surveyed, most of them large employers, said they conducted criminal background checks on some or all job candidates.

Advocates for workers say that the indiscriminate use of background checks by companies has made finding employment extremely difficult for millions of Americans.

"We're spending a tremendous amount of money incarcerating people and then creating a system where it's almost impossible for them to find gainful employment," said Adam T. Klein, an employment lawyer with Outten & Golden in New York, a firm that has represented plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits against employers over criminal checks.

Many companies, advocates say, screen out anyone who has a hint of criminal activity in his or her background, in violation of government guidelines that demand that employers take into account the severity of an offense, the length of time that has passed and its relevance to the job in question.

In some cases, they note, people have been turned away because of arrests that never resulted in convictions.

"I understand the employers' response that, 'We don't want murderers working for us,' " Mr. Klein said. "What if you just have minor events, like arrests for drug use in college, speeding tickets, D.W.I.'s?"

Employers argue that they already use common sense when they evaluate a candidate's background and take steps to ensure that they are being fair.

"Advocacy groups are kind of saying that this is the day and age of the sign that says, 'Convicts need not apply,' " said Rod Fliegel, a lawyer at Littler Mendelson, an employment law firm. "But in my experience, that would be taking the exception and presenting it as the rule."

Mr. Fliegel and other lawyers representing companies said that employers are caught in a bind; they can also be sued if they fail to screen an employee who later harms someone. Government regulations, they note, dictate that some jobs - in the securities industry, for example - be held only by people with clean records. And when applicants are abundant and jobs are scarce, some employers say that they should be able to pick and choose candidates who carry no legal baggage.

There is no federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with criminal records. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has set guidelines on how employers can use such records. Because African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities have higher rates of criminal convictions, a blanket policy that screens out anyone with a criminal history will discriminate against these groups, the commission says, and is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The E.E.O.C. has been a plaintiff in several lawsuits over background checks, and the guidelines have led to a raft of lawsuits against companies under Title VII - at least seven are working their way through the courts. One, brought by the equal opportunity commission against Peoplemark, an employment agency, was dismissed because the commission was not able provide expert evidence to back up the discrimination claim.

At least three lawsuits brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which mandates that employers must notify applicants rejected because of a consumer reporting agency's criminal background check, have been settled for the plaintiffs.

Defendants in lawsuits over criminal background checks have included transportation companies, a charter school, screening companies, a global consulting firm and the Census Bureau.

In New York, where state law regarding background checks is stricter than federal policies, the state attorney general's office has settled with Radio Shack, ChoicePoint and other companies after investigating them for violations.

Mr. Fliegel and some other lawyers who represent employers argue that Title VII is not an appropriate tool for ensuring fairness for people with criminal records.

"If you've read Title VII, it doesn't say anything about ex-criminals," Mr. Fliegel said.

But advocates and lawyers for plaintiffs in the suits say that using of Title VII in regard to criminal background checks is well established. Still, many employers suspect that hiring a person with a criminal conviction is a gamble.

Until recently, the available statistics seemed to back up employers' suspicions: A third of those released from prison returned within three years, recidivism studies showed, and it was assumed that ex-offenders would always be more likely to commit crimes than people with no criminal convictions.

But several new studies by criminologists are beginning to turn that assumption on its head, providing a far more encouraging picture of actual risks posed to employers by those whose crimes lie well in the past. Called "redemption research," the studies find that the risk that an ex-offender will be re-arrested decreases substantially over time, eventually becoming indistinguishable from that of someone of the same age with no record.

For first-time offenders, this point of "redemption" is reached 7 to 10 years after a conviction. For older first offenders, it comes significantly earlier. For some crimes and for offenders with multiple prior convictions, redemption takes considerably longer.

The studies have been cited in some lawsuits over criminal background checks. Taken collectively, they indicate that "it is no longer accurate to say that individuals with criminal records are always a higher risk than individuals without a criminal record," said Shawn Bushway, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University at Albany, one of several researchers who have conducted redemption studies.

Ms. Spikes, who is still searching for a job, said she hoped she would eventually find an employer who could overlook her background.

"I've been told that I'm the kind of person that can pick myself up, dust myself off and give it a go again," she said. "What's most important to me is that the story has somewhat of a happy ending."


7) Like the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars? You'll LOVE This!
Thu Apr 28, 2011 at 09:45 AM PDT!?detail=hide

If you like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan then you'll love what Senator John McCain and Congressman "Buck" McKeon, the new Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, are proposing: Congress should give the President and the Secretary of Defense a blank check to wage war against anyone he or she declares "associated" with al-Qaeda or the Taliban - anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

Just what and who is an "associated force" of al Qaeda and the Taliban? Chairman McKeon's bill leaves that determination entirely up to the Secretary of Defense. Shock and awe - the sequel - might not be far behind. And there would be no need to get authorization from Congress before the missiles start flying - that would all be covered in this new blank-check legislation.

What could be more efficient?!? No more messy Congressional authorization, with all of those hearings, debates and prolonged votes. No more having to deal with intruding Congressional inquiries! No more having to worry about the likes of Congressmen Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) who insist on accountability by the administration and oversight by the Congress!

This is not a pipe dream. Legislation that will do what I have just described has not only been introduced in both the House (H.R. 968) and Senate (S. 551), it is likely to end up in the Defense Authorization bill that emerges from the House Armed Services Committee a few weeks from now. Those keeping score should note that the new authorization is:

• Global in scope. With no geographic boundary, the Secretary of Defense could take America to war in any country in the world where a suspected terrorist resides;

• Never ending. This language is open ended and doesn't require the President to return to Congress for additional authority;

• Divorced from national security concerns. Unlike the 2001 authorization passed days after the 9/11 attacks that ties the authority to use military force to a direct attack on America, this language is not linked to any attack or imminent threat to American citizens.

It is arguably the greatest ceding of unchecked authority to the Executive Branch in modern history. Not only would this bill abdicate Congress' authority to declare war, it would relieve the Administration of the need to seek Congressional resolutions of support or authorizations for new military actions.

But wait, there's more! In addition to providing a blank check for war, the proposed legislation would give the president dangerous new powers to detain anyone suspected of links to terrorism (the ostensible purpose of the legislation, titled the "Detainee Security Act of 2011"). It requires that all suspects be held by the military (unless the Defense Secretary grants a waiver), and either tried by military commission or held indefinitely. This provision alone diminishes the authority of law enforcement agencies integral to our anti-terror efforts, obstructs the counterterrorism operations of officials who have a record of successful intelligence gathering, overburdens the military with responsibilities it does not want, and limits the president's options in defending America's national security interests. Dozens of federal agencies with critical expertise would be prevented from participating in a review of whether suspects posed a threat to national security.

The odds of the Committee stripping any of this dangerous language from the bill before it hits the floor of the House are about as long as my being signed by my Boston Red Sox. House leadership is very likely to support their Chairman and push hard for passage on the floor. Passage of similar language in the Senate Armed Services Committee is not a sure bet, but it is a distinct possibility. While the Democrats hold a voting edge on the panel, one of those "edges" is none other than Senator Joe Lieberman - a Co-sponsor of the McCain version of the bill! That leaves Senator Ben Nelson as the swing vote, putting opponents of a blank check for endless war in a very precarious position at best. If Senator Nelson votes for the bill, Senator McCain will have a victory in Committee and have plenty of momentum as the bill heads to the Senate floor.

But the first stop for the bill will be the House Armed Services Committee and then the House floor. It will begin to make its way in just a few weeks and a final floor vote will more than likely occur by Memorial Day.

Those who believe that this legislative attempt to grease the skids for the next US military adventure is outrageous and irresponsible need to worry. Better still, we need to get busy. Chairman McKeon's legislation has so far been flying well below the radar of public attention. His bill is alive and well without a peep of public opposition or concern. This has to change now.

Take one minute right now and tell your Representative to oppose Chairman McKeon's blank check for endless war.

Members of Congress need to start hearing from opponents of endless war and supporters of the U.S. Constitution. This tidy little provision - that heretofore has gone completely unnoticed by the public - should not be allowed to be tucked into a Defense Authorization bill without a fight. If there isn't one, and Chairman McKeon and Senator McCain prevail, public opposition to any future US military action around the world won't matter. It will have already been authorized by Congress.


8) Egypt FM: Gaza border crossing to be permanently opened
Egyptian FM tells Al-Jazeera that preparations are already underway to permanently open Rafah border crossing, which would allow goods and people in and out of Gaza with no Israeli supervision.
By Avi Issacharoff
April 28, 2011

Egypt's foreign minister said in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Thursday that preparations were underway to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on a permanent basis.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi told Al-Jazeera that within seven to 10 days, steps will be taken in order to alleviate the "blockade and suffering of the Palestinian nation."

The announcement indicates a significant change in the policy on Gaza, which before Egypt's uprising, was operated in conjunction with Israel. The opening of Rafah will allow the flow of people and goods in and out of Gaza without Israeli permission or supervision, which has not been the case up until now.

Israel's blockade on Gaza has been a policy used in conjunction with Egyptian police to weaken Hamas, which has ruled over the strip since 2007. The policy also aims to reduce Hamas' popularity among Gazans by creating economic hardship in the Strip.

Rafah's opening would be a violation of an agreement reached in 2005 between the United States, Israel, Egypt, and the European Union, which gives EU monitors access to the crossing. The monitors were to reassure Israel that weapons and militants wouldn't get into Gaza after its pullout from the territory in the fall of 2005.

Before Egypt's uprising and ousting of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, the border between Egypt and Gaza had been sealed. It has occasionally opened the passage for limited periods.


9) (IPS) Death Penalty in Limbo after US DEA Confiscates Lethal Drugs

This article first appeared on Inter-Press Service at:

ATLANTA, Georgia, Apr 29, 2011 (IPS) - The death penalty is in limbo in several states since the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency confiscated several states' supplies of sodium thiopental (ST), a key drug used in lethal injections, and as the supply of the drug to the U.S. grows even tighter.

First, the DEA confiscated Georgia's supply of ST on Mar. 15 after questions surfaced about the origin of the drugs. Then, on Apr. 1, Kentucky and Tennessee voluntarily gave up their supplies to the agency.

Georgia had purchased its supply of ST from a pharmaceutical company operating out of the back of a driving school in London.

Meanwhile, the supply of ST has gotten even tighter in the U.S. On Apr. 7, the Indian company Kayem announced it would no longer supply ST to states that practice the death penalty.

"In view of the sensitivity involved with sale of our Thiopental Sodium to various Jails/Prisons in USA and as alleged to be used for the purpose of Lethal Injection, we voluntary declare that we as Indian Pharma Dealer who cherish the Ethos of Hinduism (A believer even in non-livings as the creation of God) refrain ourselves in selling this drug where the purpose is purely for Lethal Injection and its misuse," Kayem said in a statement.

On Apr. 14, Britain said it would block exports to the U.S. of three lethal injection drugs, including ST, and urged the European Union to do the same. Britain had previously blocked exports of ST to the U.S. for use in lethal injections in November 2010.

Hospira Inc., the only U.S. manufacturer of ST, announced it would no longer make the drug at its new plant in Italy. Hospira had intended to begin producing out of its plant in Italy. However, the death penalty is unconstitutional in Italy and the government had insisted the company take responsibility for the end use of its product.

Now, some states are switching to a new lethal injection drug, pentobarbital (PB), which is also used in medical treatments as well as animal euthanasia.

Last week, Georgia - which had its supply of ST confiscated - said it is considering use of PB and that state officials have traveled to Ohio and Oklahoma to learn about their recent experiences using the drug.

The state of Oklahoma already began using PB as part of a three drug combination in December 2010. In March, Ohio executed a man, Johnnie Baston, a convicted murderer, with PB. Ohio officials said it worked just as well as ST.

On Mar. 16, Texas decided to start using PB.

Pentobarbital is made by Lundbeck, a Danish company, which does not condone the drug's use by U.S. states in carrying out the death penalty. However, Lundbeck has not gone as far as some other companies and is continuing to sell the drug to distributors.

"I don't really know who the distributors are," said Laura Moye, death penalty abolition campaign director for Amnesty International USA. "Lundbeck has made it clear they don't want it sold for these purposes. I don't know how many times it changes hands until gets to the Department of Corrections. They essentially lose control of what happens to the drug."

"It presents a very difficult ethical dilemma. They're ultimately buying these drugs from a manufacturer who's very clear [that] the purpose of the drug is to heal people, not kill people," she said. "It just kind of underscores how ethically complicated it can be to carry out executions."

"The availability of these drugs in the U.S. has become so limited, and the European countries said they don't want these drugs used for executions. States have to figure out how to get these lethal injection drugs," Moye added.

"It's not clear what's going on in these states. Are they getting it from other states that had a pre-existing supply, or from other sources?"

An Apr. 13 article by the New York Times reviewed depositions in various lawsuits brought by death row inmates, revealing that states conspired to avoid inspections of shipments containing the drugs.

In one case, Wendy Kelley, an Arkansas Department of Corrections official, actually got in her car and drove to other states such as Tennessee and Texas to traffic the drug back to Arkansas to be used to execute a man.

"We would have hoped that Georgia would have had the foresight and decency to halt executions in light of the national and international concerns about the source and viability of lethal injection. Instead, the Georgia Department of Corrections went around the law to buy questionable drugs and then used them to extinguish two men," said Kathryn Hamoudah, chairperson of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

"Now, federal intervention has forced Georgia to give up its black market drugs," she said.


10) The Oil Company Gusher
"Exxon-Mobil's first quarter earnings of $10.7 billion are up 69 percent from last year."
By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
April 29, 11

Exxon-Mobil's first quarter earnings of $10.7 billion are up 69 percent from last year. That's the most profit the company has earned since the third quarter of 2008 - perhaps not coincidentally, around the time when gas prices last reached the lofty $4 a gallon.

This gusher is an embarrassment for an industry seeking to keep its $4 billion annual tax subsidy from the U.S. government, at a time when we're cutting social programs to reduce the budget deficit.

It's specially embarrassing when Americans are paying through their noses at the pump.

Exxon-Mobil's Vice President asks that we look past the "inevitable headlines" and remember the company's investments in renewable energy.

What investments, exactly? Last time I looked Exxon-Mobil was devoting a smaller percentage of its earnings to renewables than most other oil companies, including the errant BP.

In point of fact, no oil company is investing much in renewables - precisely because they've got such money gusher going from oil. Those other oil companies also had a banner first quarter, compounding the industry's embarrassment about its $4 billion a year welfare check.

American Petroleum Industry CEO Jack Gerard claims the gusher is due to the "growing strength in our economy."

Baloney. If you hadn't noticed already, this is one of the most anemic recoveries on record. $4-a-gallon gas is itself slowing the economy's growth, since most consumers are left with less money to spend on everything else.

Gerard then claims the giant earnings "reflect the size necessary for [American] companies to be globally competitive with national oil companies" around the world.

Let's get real. The crude oil market is global. Oil companies sell all over the world. The price of crude is established by global supply and demand. In this context, American "competitiveness" is meaningless.

Republicans who have been defending oil's tax subsidy are also finding themselves in an awkward position. John Boehner temporarily sounded as if he was backing off - until the right-wing-nuts in the GOP began fulminating that the elimination of any special tax windfall is to their minds a tax increase (which means, in effect ,the GOP must now support all tax-subsidized corporate welfare).

Boehner is now trying to pivot off the flip-flop by reverting to the trusty old "drill, drill, drill" for opening more of country to oil drilling and exploration. "If we began to allow more permits for oil and gas production, it would send a signal to the market that America's serious about moving toward energy independence," he says.

This argument is as nonsensical now as it was when we last faced $4-a-gallon gas. To repeat: It's a global oil market. Even if 3 million additional barrels a day could be extruded from lands and seabeds of the United States (the most optimistic figure, after all exploration is done), that sum is tiny compared to 86 million barrels now produced around the world. In other words, even under the best circumstances, the price to American consumers would hardly budge.

Whatever impact such drilling might have would occur far in the future anyway. Oil isn't just waiting there to be pumped out of the earth. Exploration takes time. Erecting drilling equipment takes time. Getting the oil out takes time. Turning crude into various oil products takes time. According the federal energy agency, if we opening drilling where drilling is now banned, there'd be no significant impact on domestic crude and natural gas production for a decade or more.

Oil companies already hold a significant number of leases on federal lands and offshore seabeds where they are now allowed to drill, and which they have not yet fully explored. Why would they seek more drilling rights? Because ownership of these parcels will pump up their balance sheets even if no oil is actually pumped.

Last but by no means least, as we've painfully learned, the environmental risks from such drilling are significant.

Let's not fool ourselves - or be fooled. There's no reason to continue to give giant oil companies a $4 billion a year tax windfall. Nor any reason to expand drilling on federal lands or on our seashores.

But there are strong reasons to invest in renewable energy - even in a time of budget austerity. Use the $4 billion this way. And why stop there? Why not a windfall profits tax to the oil companies, to be used for renewable energy?

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on and iTunes.


11) Bradley Manning Moved to More Humane Cell -- But Did Obama Stain His Right to Fair Trial?
By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, AlterNet
Posted on April 29, 2011, Printed on April 29, 2011

Bradley Manning was moved to Ft. Leavenworth yesterday after a notoriously torturous experience at Quantico prison in Virginia. The Army, clearly concerned with its public image, let members of the press in for a full tour of the prison, though they were not allowed to see his specific cell. Regardless of their motives, clearly the public outrage has resulted in a better situation for Manning; in the medium-security prison, he will be allowed to interact with other prisoners, will have three hours of exercise a day and receive unlimited pay phone use, according to AFP.

Meanwhile, legal experts have been debating whether President Obama corrupted Manning's right to a fair trial when he said he 'broke the law' at a political fundraiser last week. At a political fundraiser in San Francisco, in an interaction caught on cell phone video, a Manning supporter shook the president's hand and asked him why Manning is being prosecuted.

Obama responded that what Manning allegedly did was "irresponsible, risked the lives of service members and did a lot of damage." But when Price persisted Obama shot back, "He broke the law."

A military legal expert says the president himself crossed a legal line with that statement.

Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, a nonprofit group that promotes the fair administration of justice in the military system, told NBC News that the president's remark "is unlawful command influence," which includes an assumption of guilt.

Still, Fidell also said the comment might be an easy one to get around. MSNBC:

The president should have been more circumspect, agrees Eugene Fidell, an expert on the military justice system. But he believes Obama's comment will not affect the outcome of Manning's trial.

"It will generate motions by the defense and will require some care in selecting the military members of the jury, a process already complicated by the extensive press coverage of this case," Fidell said. "It was going to have to be a very careful questioning process for potential jurors, to ask if they have seen reports or read about the case. Now they'll also have to be asked whether they heard the president's comment and if that would make any difference to them. But that will be the extent of it, and they'll get on with the trial."


12) Army Says WikiLeaks Suspect Fit to Stand Trial
April 29, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - The intelligence analyst suspected of illegally passing government secrets to the WikiLeaks website has been found competent to stand trial, the Army said Friday.

Army spokesman Gary Tallman says a panel of experts completed its medical and mental evaluation of Pfc. Bradley Manning on April 22, and informed Army officials Friday of the conclusion.

Tallman says no date has been set yet for the initial court hearing, and added that the evaluation board's findings "have no bearing on the guilt, innocence, or any potential defenses of the accused."

Manning's case is under the jurisdiction of the Army's Military District of Washington.

The Army private is suspected of obtaining hundreds of thousands of classified and sensitive documents while serving in Iraq and providing them to the website. He faces about two dozen charges, including aiding the enemy. That charge can bring the death penalty or life in prison.

Manning was transferred from a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., last week to a new facility at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas.

He passed the lengthy physical and psychiatric evaluation given to new inmates there and received final clearance Thursday to live alongside other inmates, according to the facility's commander Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton.

He had been held at Quantico for the eight months after his arrest, and the conditions of his incarceration triggered protests and international inquiries.

At Quantico, Manning had to surrender his clothes at night and was required to wear a military-issued, suicide-prevention smock. Manning's attorney and supporters said that was unnecessary and argued his living conditions, including his isolation from other inmates, were inhumane.

Pentagon officials consistently said he was being held under appropriate conditions given the seriousness of the charges against him.

But they acknowledged that Quantico was not designed to hold pre-trial detainees for long periods of time.

Associated Press National Security Correspondent Robert Burns contributed to this report.


13) In Shift, Egypt Warms to Iran and Hamas, Israel's Foes
April 28, 2011

CAIRO - Egypt is charting a new course in its foreign policy that has already begun shaking up the established order in the Middle East, planning to open the blockaded border with Gaza and normalizing relations with two of Israel and the West's Islamist foes, Hamas and Iran.

Egyptian officials, emboldened by the revolution and with an eye on coming elections, say that they are moving toward policies that more accurately reflect public opinion. In the process they are seeking to reclaim the influence over the region that waned as their country became a predictable ally of Washington and the Israelis in the years since the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

The first major display of this new tack was the deal Egypt brokered Wednesday to reconcile the secular Palestinian party Fatah with its rival Hamas. "We are opening a new page," said Ambassador Menha Bakhoum, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry. "Egypt is resuming its role that was once abdicated."

Egypt's shifts are likely to alter the balance of power in the region, allowing Iran new access to a previously implacable foe and creating distance between itself and Israel, which has been watching the changes with some alarm. "We are troubled by some of the recent actions coming out of Egypt," said one senior Israeli official, citing a "rapprochement between Iran and Egypt" as well as "an upgrading of the relationship between Egypt and Hamas."

"These developments could have strategic implications on Israel's security," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the issues were still under discussion in diplomatic channels. "In the past Hamas was able to rearm when Egypt was making efforts to prevent that. How much more can they build their terrorist machine in Gaza if Egypt were to stop?"

Israel had relied on Egypt's help to police the border with Gaza, where arms and other contraband were smuggled to Hamas through tunnels.

Balancing its new independence against its old allegiances, Egypt is keeping all its commitments, including the peace treaty with Israel, Ambassador Bakhoum emphasized, and she said that it hoped to do a better job complying with some human rights protocols it had signed.

But she said that the blockade of the border with Gaza and Egypt's previous enforcement of it were both "shameful," and that Egypt intended soon to open up the border "completely."

At the same time, she said, Egypt is also in the process of normalizing its relations with Iran, a regional power that the United States considers a dangerous pariah.

"All the world has diplomatic relations with Iran with the exception of the United States and Israel," Ambassador Bakhoum said. "We look at Iran as a neighbor in the region that we should have normal relations with. Iran is not perceived as an enemy as it was under the previous regime, and it is not perceived as a friend."

Several former diplomats and analysts said that by staking out a more independent path, Egypt would also regain a measure of power that came with the flexibility to bestow or withhold support.

If Egypt believes Israel's refusal to halt settlements in the West Bank is the obstacle to peace, for example, then "cooperating with the Israelis by closing the border to Gaza did not make sense, as much as one may differ with what Hamas has done," argued Nabil Fahmy, dean of the public affairs school at the American University in Cairo and a former Egyptian ambassador to the United States.

Many Egyptian analysts, including some former officials and diplomats who served under then-President Hosni Mubarak, say they are thrilled with the shift. "This is the new feeling in Egypt, that Egypt needs to be respected as a regional power," said Emad Gad, a foreign policy expert on relations with Israel at the official Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

Egypt is recognizing Hamas, he said, for the same reason the Egyptian prime minister recently had breakfast with his family at a public restaurant without heavily armed body guards: any official who wants to stay in government is thinking about elections. "This is a new thing in Egyptian history," Mr. Gad said.

Mahmoud Shokry, a former Egyptian ambassador to Syria under Mr. Mubarak, said: "Mubarak was always taking sides with the U.S., but the new way of thinking is entirely different. We would like to make a model of democracy for the region, and we are ensuring that Egypt has its own influence."

In the case of Iran, a competing regional power, Ms. Bakhoum noted that although Egypt broke off relations with the Islamist government after its 1979 revolution, the countries reopened limited relations in 1991 on the level of a chargé d'affaires, so normalizing relations was more of an elevation than a reopening.

The deal between the Palestinian factions capitalized on the forces unleashed around the region by Egypt's revolution. In its aftermath, Hamas found its main sponsor, the Assad government of Syria, shaken by its own popular protest movement, while the Fatah government in the West Bank faced throngs of young people adapting the chants of the Egyptian uprising to the cause of Palestinian unity.

Egypt had laid out a proposal virtually identical to the current deal for both sides as early as 2009, several participants from all sides said. But the turning point came in late March, about six weeks after the revolution.

For the first time in years of talks the Hamas leaders were invited to the headquarters of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs instead of merely meeting at a hotel or the intelligence agency - a signal that Egypt was now prepared to treat Hamas as a diplomatic partner rather than a security risk.

They also met with Egypt's interim head of state, Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the leader of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Mr. Mubarak's longtime defense minister.

"When I was invited to the meeting in the Foreign Ministry, that was something different, and this is what the agreement grew out of," said Taher Nounou of Hamas. "We definitely felt that there was more openness from the new Egyptian leadership." Foreign Minister Nabil el-Araby told the Palestinians that "he doesn't want to talk about the 'peace process' any more, he wants to talk about the peace," Ambassador Bakhoum said.

She said the Egyptian government was still studying how to open the border with Gaza, to help the civilians who lived there, and to determine which goods might be permitted. But she said the government had decided to move ahead with the idea.

Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting.


14) Japan's Prime Minister Defends Handling of Nuclear Crisis
April 30, 2011

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan defended his government's handling of the nation's nuclear crisis on Saturday, after an adviser resigned to protest what he called unsafe measures.

The adviser, Toshiso Kosako, an expert on radiation safety at the University of Tokyo, said that government-set limits for permissible radiation exposure at schools near Japan's stricken plant were too high.

"I cannot allow this as a scholar," he said at a tearful press conference late Friday to explain his resignation.

Mr. Kosako also blasted the government for a lack of transparency in releasing radiation levels around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and for setting an overly high limit on radiation exposure for workers at the plant.

Government advisory positions are considered very prestigious in Japan, and it is highly unusual for an academic to quit one in protest. The prime minister brought Mr. Kosako on as an adviser after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant, causing the world's biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

His abrupt resignation has fed growing criticism of the handling of the crisis by the Kan government, which many Japanese suspect of understating the true danger at the plant, or the amount of radiation released so far.

In Parliament on Saturday, Mr. Kan rejected Mr. Kosako's criticism, saying his government's measures were based on the recommendations of a committee of experts. He said the adviser had resigned as a result of "a difference of opinion among specialists."

The resignation highlights the difficulties Japan faces as it tries to set criteria for which areas around the crippled nuclear plant can be occupied, and which must be evacuated.

On April 19, the education and science ministry said that schools in Fukushima Prefecture, where the plant is located, can be used if radiation levels are below 3.8 microsieverts per hour.

That would come to about 20 millisieverts per year, the same limit that some countries set for workers at nuclear power plants. Environmental groups and local parents have called for lowering the limit, pointing out that children are more vulnerable to radiation than most adults.

On Saturday, the chief government spokesman, Yukio Edano, defended the limit, saying it did not mean that the government would accept such levels indefinitely, but that it would do everything in its power to bring levels down to normal levels of less than 1 millisievert per year.

Meanwhile, at least one city in Fukushima has begun taking more extreme measures to reduce radiation levels for schoolchildren.

The city of Koriyama said this week that it would remove topsoil at 15 elementary schools where radiation levels had been detected in excess of 3.8 microsieverts per hour, according to local newspaper reports. It will also remove soil at 13 nursery schools where levels were more than 3.0 microsieverts per hour, the reports said.


15) Syrian Forces Shoot at Protesters in Dara'a Siege
April 29, 2011

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Soldiers fired on protesters carrying olive branches and seeking to break the military's siege of a rebellious town in Syria on Friday, killing at least 16 people, as thousands took to the streets in what organizers proclaimed a "Friday of Rage" against the government's crackdown on a six-week uprising, witnesses and activists said.

The bloodshed in the besieged town, Dara'a, was the worst episode on another violent Friday. At least 40 people were killed across the country, repeating a cycle that has become a fixture of the most serious challenge to the Assad family's four decades of dictatorial rule. For weeks, demonstrators have poured into the streets after noon prayers, only to face the determination of the government to disperse them, often with live ammunition.

But the cries of grief in Dara'a and angry chants in dozens of towns and cities on Friday seemed to signal a new dynamic in the uprising. As much as calls for freedom and an end to President Bashar al-Assad's rule, the protest movement appeared to be feeding off its own symbols and legitimacy, as the demonstrators' anger grows over the suffering inflicted on Dara'a and the deaths of more than 500 protesters - by activists' count - since March.

"Stop the siege of Dara'a!" demonstrators shouted in Homs, Syria, near the Lebanese border.

"We cannot challenge the government," said an opposition figure in Damascus who asked not to be identified. "They're armed, and we're unarmed. If they want to kill us, they can kill us. If they want to arrest us, they can arrest us. But no matter how much blood gets spilled and how violent it gets, this is our country, and we're not giving it up."

Friday was viewed as a test of sorts for both sides - whether the government might ease its crackdown after killing 112 protesters a week earlier, and whether demonstrators would defy blunt warnings and the threat of more force by returning to the streets. In the end, neither budged, and organizers seemed buoyed by the turnout.

"I'm amazed," Wissam Tarif, executive director of Insan, a Syrian human rights group, said early in the day. "People are in the streets. I can't believe it.

"The government is going to have to reconsider their strategy," he added.

So far, there are few signs of it doing so, despite international condemnation, American moves to place sanctions on Syrian officials and a European effort to impose an arms embargo.

In the uprising's early weeks, the government tried to stanch the unrest with a mix of mostly hollow concessions and force. Since last week, it has emphasized the latter, an indication underscored by the shootings on Friday.

Some cracks have emerged in its facade, with reports this week of desertions from the military in Dara'a and even fighting among troops, along with the resignations of nearly 300 low-level members of the Baath Party, which has ruled in some fashion since 1963.

Though the government has vast resources to draw on - and bastions of support, particularly among religious minorities - it faces an evolving revolt that it has proven unable to crush and that may be widening.

"There really isn't a coalesced movement yet or official organizers of the protests," an Obama administration official said. "It's almost an organic thing. The more violence happens, the more the cycle continues, the more people hit the street."

Residents and activists painted a wrenching portrait of the scene in Dara'a, a poor town in southern Syria near the Jordanian border where protests last month helped galvanize nationwide demonstrations.

The military had stormed the town on Monday, effectively occupying it, but the ensuing hardships - shortages of food, water and even baby formula, in addition to dozens of reported deaths - have become a rallying cry of the revolt, unleashing solidarity protests in other towns and neighboring countries.

Inside the town, residents said people were too afraid to go into the streets, or even to attend Friday Prayer. Instead, they shouted "God is great!" from within their homes, the chants growing louder as residents in building after building took up the cry.

As they did, residents said, soldiers fired into the air.

"We are living in complete isolation," a resident said.

In the afternoon, residents said, hundreds tried to march to the town, either to break the siege or to bring food and medicine. As they approached, reportedly carrying olive branches and white sheets to signal their peacefulness, security forces opened fire.

"There was a lot of screaming," Mr. Tarif said by telephone, citing the accounts of residents there. "It was a massacre. It was another bloody massacre."

A resident, Abdullah al-Hariri, added, "The protesters were just trying to get here."

The Syrian military said that in another episode, four soldiers were killed by terrorists at a checkpoint in Dara'a earlier in the day. Two others were captured, it said.

Abdullah Abazid, a protester there, offered another account: The soldiers were killed by fighters from a division loyal to Mr. Assad's brother, Maher, for trying to defend the residents there.

There were conflicting reports on the number of civilians killed in Dara'a. Mr. Tarif said a nearby hospital received 16 bodies and many people who were wounded. Others put the death toll at 19.

For weeks, diplomats and protest leaders have watched to see whether the demonstrations would spread to Syria's two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo. On Friday, hundreds of protesters gathered near the Hassan mosque in a conservative neighborhood of the capital, Damascus; it was a youthful crowd and bigger than in past weeks, but still relatively small. They were confronted by hundreds of police officers, in both riot gear and plain clothes.

"One, one, the Syrian people are one!" they shouted.

Within minutes, police officers moved against them, beating protesters with sticks and firing tear gas. The opposition figure in Damascus said one person had been wounded.

"The regime has a very long breath, and they haven't used all their resources so far," he said. "They have the security solution, they have the army and they have their supporters, who they have cultivated over four decades. They haven't used the street yet, and that remains the wild card because it would immediately take us to a civil war."

The other deaths on Friday were reported in Homs, in towns around Damascus and in Latakia, near the heartland of the ruling elite.

More demonstrations were reported in the coastal towns of Jabla and Baniyas, Kurdish regions in the east, and the central town of Hama.

The turnout in Kurdish towns appeared bigger than in past weeks, but a local leader said the demonstrators had been careful not to call for the government's overthrow.


16) Indiana Bill Cuts Funds for Clinics for Women
April 29, 2011

Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana said Friday that he would sign a bill cutting off Medicaid financing for Planned Parenthood, a move that lawmakers in several states have begun pondering as a new approach in the battle over abortion. Indiana becomes the first state to go forward.

Abortion rights supporters condemned the decision, saying it would leave 22,000 poor residents of Indiana, who use Planned Parenthood's 28 health facilities in the state, with nowhere to go for a range of women's services, from breast cancer screening to birth control. Planned Parenthood of Indiana said it would file an injunction to block the measure from taking effect. But abortion opponents said the move merely guarded against sending tax dollars to facilities that perform abortions, and said women on Medicaid still had plenty of health facilities available to them all over Indiana.

"Any organization affected by this provision can resume receiving taxpayer dollars immediately by ceasing or separating its operations that perform abortions," Mr. Daniels said in a statement. Federal law prohibits Medicaid money from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, a threat to the life of a mother or incest. Planned Parenthood says Medicaid dollars go toward paying for items like annual exams, birth control and breast cancer screening.

Indiana's bill comes as Mr. Daniels, a Republican in a state where Republicans last fall gained control of both chambers of the legislature, is expected to announce a decision soon about running for president in 2012.

The bill cutting off an expected $2 million in Medicaid financing to Planned Parenthood could have become law without the governor's signature, and Mr. Daniels's announcement was viewed by some as a sign that he may be leaning toward running and hoping to increase his appeal among social conservatives. Some critics of the bill, who lobbied the governor to veto it, said they were surprised he had turned his attention to abortion when he had, of late, focused firmly on matters of the state's finances and education, including vouchers for private or parochial school tuition.

"Clearly, Governor Daniels would rather play politics with women's health than show leadership and fiscal responsibility in rejecting a bill that will ultimately cost the state millions in federal funding," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Indiana's bill includes other provisions aimed at limiting abortion. Among them: a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in most cases rather than an earlier standard of viability, which was often determined by doctors to be several weeks later. Several states, including Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, have recently set earlier limits.


17) Massachusetts House Seeks to Limit Collective Bargaining
"'Everybody's pretty upset,' said Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts A.F.L.-C.I.O. 'It's hard for me to understand how my good friends in the Massachusetts House, that have told me they support collective bargaining, could do this.' ...On Friday, Mr. Patrick said through a spokesman that labor must have 'a meaningful role' in determining how to control health care costs, though he did not elaborate. The House voted 111-42 in favor of the plan, with 81 Democrats approving it."
April 29, 2011

BOSTON - Union leaders in this traditionally labor-friendly state are fuming over a plan passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives this week to curtail bargaining rights for municipal workers, a highly unusual move by Democratic lawmakers.

The bill, passed late Tuesday night in advance of planned labor protests, would let local officials unilaterally set health insurance co-payments and deductibles for their employees after a monthlong discussion period with unions. Leaders of the House said it would save cities and towns $100 million in the budget year that starts in July.

While Republican-controlled legislatures in Wisconsin and Ohio this year have weakened the ability of public-sector unions to bargain collectively, and Republicans in other states have pushed for a variety of curbs on unions, Massachusetts is the first state where a Democratic-led chamber has voted to limit bargaining rights.

"Everybody's pretty upset," said Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts A.F.L.-C.I.O. "It's hard for me to understand how my good friends in the Massachusetts House, that have told me they support collective bargaining, could do this."

But the bill faces uncertain prospects in the Senate, which is also controlled by Democrats. Senate President Therese Murray said Wednesday that she was pleased the House had "moved the needle" on the contentious issue of health care costs, but she has not endorsed the plan.

Dave Falcone, a Senate spokesman, said Friday that Ms. Murray "has been consistent in her message that something has to be done, that there has to be savings, and that everyone should have a seat at the table."

While Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, has not pledged to sign the bill if it reaches his desk, he proposed a similar plan early this year and praised the House this week for its "important" vote. He also raised concerns about a provision of the House plan allowing towns and cities to opt out of it and said unions must not have veto power over municipal health plans.

On Friday, Mr. Patrick said through a spokesman that labor must have "a meaningful role" in determining how to control health care costs, though he did not elaborate.

The House voted 111-42 in favor of the plan, with 81 Democrats approving it.

Representative Brian Dempsey, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he supported it - and in fact helped create it - after seeing no other way of avoiding disastrous cuts to local public safety and education budgets. The legislature had urged municipalities and their unions to curb rising health costs for several years, he said, but with no success.

"We have to get a handle on this," he said. "The fact of the matter is costs are going up and the money is not going to the areas we desperately need it to."

He acknowledged, though, that it was "certainly difficult" to hear labor's angry response.

Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a nonpartisan watchdog group that supported the plan, said the health care costs for cities and towns had been growing by about 11 percent a year and "cannibalizing" local budgets.

"Yes, it's a small curtailment of their collective bargaining powers," Mr. Widmer said of municipal unions, "but with the corollary that it will save lots of their members' jobs."

Under the House plan, co-payments and deductibles for municipal workers would have to be at least equal to those of state employees. And unions would retain the right to negotiate what portion of premiums their members paid.

Mr. Patrick and House leaders have sought to head off comparisons with the legislation that Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed earlier this year, saying the Massachusetts plan does not go nearly as far. That did not stop the Republican Party of Wisconsin from proclaiming Mr. Patrick "an ally" on Friday and congratulating him on the bill. Mr. Patrick is to speak at a Democratic Party dinner in Wisconsin on Saturday.

"It's refreshing to see that even a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts recognizes the importance of collective bargaining reform," Mark Jefferson, the Wisconsin Republican Party's executive director, said in a statement.