Saturday, May 14, 2011



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




SF Bay Area event

Conscientious Objectors' and War Resisters' Day

Berkeley, California - On International Conscientious Objectors' Day, Celebrate the 5th Annual Berkeley C.O. and War Resisters' Day, Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 11am

Peace Flag raising ceremony, first at Civic Center flagpole at 2180 Milvia Street, corner of Allston Way and then at the flagpole at Civic Center Park, 2151 MLK, Jr. Way (between Center Street and Allston Way, across from Old City Hall), Berkeley, California

With Conscientious Objectors and War Resisters from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

* peace flagJeff Paterson, Courage to Resist, Bradley Manning Support Network
* Bob Meola, Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, War Resisters League
* Vic Sadot singing his song, "Courage to Resist"
* Sing along "Ain't fest" led by Max Ventura: "I Ain't Marching Anymore," "(Ain't Gonna Let Nobody) Turn Me Around," "Down By the Riverside (Ain't Gonna Study War No More)"

Sponsored by City of Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission

Endorsed by War Resisters League-West and Courage to Resist

Bradley Manning Organizing Toolkit now online!

org kitFor those of you who want to participate more actively in the campaign to free Bradley Manning, we have created an activist toolkit, jam-packed with useful info, strategy and resources.

Months in the making, this toolkit is designed with you in mind. It contains a breakdown of how to take individual action and encourage others, create and host events, outreach to the media and ally organizations, and plenty more.

Everyone is an activist.

View, download and/or print the PDF:


Hi Antiwar Activists,

The United National Antiwar Committee meets
Sunday, May 15 at 3 PM
Redstone Bldg., Room 304 San Francisco
2926 16th Street at Capp (below Mission St.)

Main agenda item will be the planning our major antiwar/social justice rally/benefit in defense of civil liberties including:

Islamophobia and government repression of Muslim communities
The right to know the truth: The cases of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning
FBI repression of antiwar and social justice organizations: Government subpoenas and witchhunting Grand Jury investigations
Racist attacks on Black and Latino Communities
Defense of Political Prisoners: Mumia Abu-Jamal and Lynne Stewart
Defense of student antiwar protestors persecuted by campus administrations

Join with UNAC's efforts to build a united, mass action, independent, democratic and Out Now! antiwar movement.

U.S. Out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya Now!
End U.S. Aid to Israel! Stop U.S. Support to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine! End the Siege of Gaza!
Bring the Troops, Military Contractors, Mercenaries and War Dollars Home Now!
Trillions For Jobs, Education, Housing, the Environment, Not War!
No Cuts! Defend Union Rights!

Contact UNAC at: 415-49 NO WAR


SF HRC Hearing: US Law Enforcement Profiling&Surveillance of Muslims-Arabs-South Asians (PREVIEW)

SFPD and the FBI are collaborating in a "Joint Terrorism Task Force"
you read between the lines...
In a Sanctuary City, we can't let our police act like FBI agents. Let's make sure they play by the rules!

Community testimony at a past Human Rights Commission hearing helped document that Arab, Muslim and South Asian community members are facing consistent interrogation, surveillance, harassment, and infiltration by federal law enforcement personnel (including FBI, CBP, and ICE). This occurs at homes, places of worship, and workplaces as well as traveling. ending racial and religious profiling of our communities, particularly in the context of National Security policies.

Now, SF Police & FBI are forced to respond to concerns of Profiling & Surveillance of Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian Communities.

A Joint San Francisco Police Commission & Human Rights Commission Public Hearing

Wednesday May 18, 2011
San Francisco City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA
Board of Supervisors Chambers

HOW TO HELP: Please come to the hearing to show your support for Civil and Human Rights!

We are looking for community members to testify about their experience of being profiled or spied upon because of their race, religion, political activity or national origin. We are also looking for experts or attorneys and legal workers with clients who have experienced any of the following:

intrusive questioning or detainment while traveling
questioning by SFPD JTTF officers or SFPD officers
visits or approaches from the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
discrimination by law enforcement
(contact info below for questions)


More information:

On September 23, 2011, the Coalition for Safe San Francisco, a growing alliance of civil rights organizations & community helped sponsor an important hearing of the City of San Francisco Human Rights Commission: "Community Concerns of Racial and Religious Profiling, Surveillance of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian Communities and the Potential Reactivation of SFPD Intelligence Gathering."

To address these concerns the SF HRC issued and adopted a report with a series of recommendations to help end any existing abuses. The SF Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed this report on Tuesday April 5, 2011.
Now the HRC and Police Commission are holding a public hearing to respond to community concerns & questions regarding SFPD policies and practices around possible surveillance and profiling they may be engaged in via collaborations with the FBI, or external actors or internally.

About the Hearing

This hearing will primarily be a forum for law enforcement officials to reply to community concerns and answer commissioner questions. However, there will then be a public comment portion where individuals will be allotted 2 minutes to testify. If you would like to comment, please let us know by contacting:
Summer Hararah | ASIAN LAW CAUCUS (415) 848-7714



OR Emailing Us at

Anonymous or emailed stories are welcome.



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: May Day Weekend


Paradise Gray Speaks At Jordan Miles Emergency Rally 05/06/2011

Police Reassigned While CAPA Student's Beatdown Investigated

Pittsburgh Student Claims Police Brutality; Shows Hospital Photos

Justice For Jordan Miles
By jasiri x

Monday, May 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Even though Pittsburgh Police beat Jordan Miles until he looked like this: (Photo at website)

And even though Jordan Miles, an honor student who plays the viola, broke no laws and committed no crimes, the Federal Government decided not to prosecute the 3 undercover Pittsburgh Police officers who savagely beat him.

To add insult to injury, Pittsburgh's Mayor and Police Chief immediately reinstated the 3 officers without so much as a apology. An outraged Pittsburgh community called for an emergency protest to pressure the local District Attorney to prosecute these officers to the fullest extent of the law.

Below is my good friend, and fellow One Hood founding member Paradise Gray (also a founding member of the Blackwatch Movement and the legendary rap group X-Clan) passionately demanding Justice for Jordan Miles and speaking on the futility of a war of terror overseas while black men are terrorized in their own neighborhoods.

For more information on how you can help get Justice For Jordan Miles go to


Nation Behind Bars Mass Incarceration And Political Prisoners In the U.S. - Efia Nwangaza, Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination
Black is Back Conference on the Other Wars, March 26, 2011


Tier Systems Cripple Middle Class Dreams for Young Workers


Cindy Sheehan has turned her grief into an anti-war crusade, even questioning the death of Osama bin Laden. From HLN's Dr. DREW Show Thurs. 5/5/11:




Epidemiologist, Dr. Steven Wing, Discusses Global Radiation Exposures and Consequences with Gundersen
Epidemiologist, Dr. Steven Wing and nuclear engineer, Arnie Gundersen, discuss the consequences of the Fukushima radioactive fallout on Japan, the USA, and the world. What are the long-term health effects? What should the government(s) do to protect citizens?

Epidemiologist, Dr. Steven Wing, Discusses Global Radiation Exposures and Consequences with Gundersen from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.


New Video - Lupe Fiasco ft. Skylar Grey - 'Words I Never Said'
Thu, Apr 28 2011

Lupe Fiasco addresses some heavy issues in the latest video for his new single, 'Words I Never Said,' featuring Skylar Grey. In the 5 minute and 45 second dose of reality, Lupe tackles issues such as the war on terrorism, devastation, conspiracy theories, 9/11 and genocide. From the opening lyrics of "I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullsh*t", Lupe doesn't hold back as he voices his socio-political concerns.

"If you turn on TV all you see's a bunch of what the f-ks'
Dude is dating so and so blabbering bout such and such
And that ain't Jersey Shore, homie that's the news
And these the same people that supposed to be telling us the truth
Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn't say s-t
That's why I ain't vote for him, next one either
I'm a part of the problem, my problem is I'm peaceful."

Skylar Grey (who also lends her vocals to Dirty money's 'Coming Home' and Eminem's 'I Need A Doctor') does an excellent job of complementing the Alex Da Kid produced track.


BREAKING ALERT: Mass Arrests, Tear Gas, Sound Weapons used Against WIU Students


Union Town by Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman


MAY DAY 1886-International Workers Day


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




Mumia Wins Decision Against Re-Imposition Of Death Sentence, But...
The Battle Is Still On To
The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610



Carlos* was only 14 years when he was locked up in a California youth prison. Growing up in a rough neighborhood in Northern CA, there were few resources for him or his younger brothers. Carlos was swept up by gangs and ended up serving a 10 year sentence in Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), leaving his siblings and childhood behind.

For 10 long years, our state spent millions of dollars to lock him up in a cell. Meanwhile, the state spent a tiny fraction of that amount providing an inadequate education to his younger brothers.

When Carlos was finally released earlier this year, he returned to a neighborhood that hasn't changed. Resources for youth are still scarce. He worries about his little brothers growing up in a society that would rather lock them up than invest in their educations and future.

Carlos' experience is only one example of why California ranks near the bottom in education spending and performance, but we're #1 in prison spending. DJJ drains much-needed resources from California's schools and the vital community programs that would help our State thrive. It's time to close the expensive, abusive DJJ and redirect those resources into our schools.

Join Books Not Bars in calling on Governor Brown to protect our schools by closing the Division of Juvenile Justice.

On May 10, join Books Not Bars, teachers, students, and other concerned Californians at the Capitol to save our schools. For more information or if you plan on attending, please contact Jennifer Kim at, or (510) 285-8234.

If you can't join us in person, take action now, then sign up for join our online rally next Tuesday by sending Gov. Brown an email now.

Justice for families.

Sumayyah Waheed
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

*Carlos' name has been changed to protect his privacy.

Ella Baker Center for Human Rights | 510.428.3939
1970 Broadway, Suite 450 | Oakland, CA | 94612


U.S. Attorney Escalates Attacks on Civil Liberties of Anti-War,
Palestinian Human Rights Activists

Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald first thing Monday morning! (contact info at bottom of this email)

On Friday, May 6, the U.S. government froze the bank accounts of Hatem Abudayyeh and his wife, Naima. This unwarranted attack on a leading member of the Palestinian community in Chicago is the latest escalation of the repression of anti-war and Palestinian community organizers by the FBI, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Hatem Abudayyeh is one of 23 activists from Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Chicago, and his home was raided by the FBI in September of last year. Neither Hatem Abudayyeh nor Naima Abudayyeh have been charged with any crime.

One of the bank accounts frozen was exclusively in Naima Abudayyeh's name. Leaders of the national Committee to Stop FBI Repression, as well as Chicago's Coalition to Protect People's Rights are appalled at the government's attempt to restrict the family's access to its finances, especially so soon before Mothers' Day. Not only does the government's action seriously disrupt the lives of the Abudayyehs and their five-year-old daughter, but it represents an attack on Chicago's Arab community and activist community and the fundamental rights of Americans to freedom of speech.

The persecution of the Abudayyeh family is another example of the criminalization of Palestinians, their supporters, and their movement for justice and liberation. There has been widespread criticism of the FBI and local law enforcement for their racial profiling and scapegoating of Arab and Muslim Americans. These repressive tactics include infiltration of community centers and mosques, entrapment of young men, and the prominent case of 11 students from the University of California campuses at Irvine and Riverside who have been subpoenaed to a grand jury and persecuted for disrupting a speech by Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the US. The government's attempt to conflate the anti-war and human rights movements with terrorism is a cynical attempt to capitalize on the current political climate in order to silence Palestinians and other people of conscience who exercise their First Amendment rights in a manner which does not conform to the administration's foreign policy agenda in the Middle East.

The issuance of subpoenas against the 23 activists has been met with widespread opposition and criticism across the country. Six members of the U.S. Congress, including five in the past month, have sent letters to either Holder or President Obama, expressing grave concern for the violations of the civil liberties and rights of the 23 activists whose freedom is on the line. Three additional U.S. representatives have also promised letters, as thousands of constituents and other people of conscience across the U.S. have demanded an end to this assault on legitimate political activism and dissent. Over 60 Minnesota state legislators also issued a resolution condemning the subpoenas.

The Midwest activists have been expecting indictments for some time. The freezing of the Abudayyeh family's bank accounts suggests that the danger of indictments is imminent.

Take action:

Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300.
Then dial 0 (zero) for the operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk.
Demand Fitzgerald
-- Unfreeze the bank accounts of the Abudayyeh family and
-- Stop repression against Palestinian, anti-war and international solidarity activists.

In solidarity,
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression and
The Coalition to Protect People's Rights

For more info go to

follow on Twitter | friend on Facebook | forward to a friend

Copyright (c) 2011 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights reserved.
Thanks for your ongoing interest in the fight against FBI repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists!
Our mailing address is:

Committee to Stop FBI Repression

PO Box 14183

Minneapolis, MN 55415


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) Renewable Sources Could Provide 77% of World's Energy by 2050, Report Says
May 9, 2011

2) Standing Against Islamophobia, War and Terrorism
Muslim Peace Coalition, USA

3) Japan Scraps Plan for New Nuclear Plants
May 10, 2011

4) Cuban Government Outlines Steps Toward a Freer Market
May 9, 2011

5) New Call in Albany to Quit U.S. Immigration Program
May 9, 2011

6) Kate Swift, Writer Who Rooted Out Sexism in Language, Dies at 87
May 9, 2011

7) Police Department in Newark Is Facing U.S. Inquiry
May 9, 2011

8) Egypt Inflation Climbs on Surging Food Prices
May 10, 2011

9) Progressive/Liberals Are Scabbing: It's NEVER OK To Cross A Picket Line By Jonathan Tasini Working Life
May 10, 2011

10) Michigan Governor Takes a Walk of Shame in Benton Harbor
Frank Hammer
May 10, 2011

11) Five socialist parties unite to impact Egyptian politics
Mohamed El Hebeishy
Wednesday 11 May 2011

12) After Bin Laden, U.S. Reassesses Afghan Strategy
"In a joint letter to Congress, about two dozen groups - including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights - contended that the proposal amounted to an open-ended grant of authority to the executive branch, legitimizing an unending war from Yemen to Somalia and beyond. 'This monumental legislation - with a large-scale and practically irrevocable delegation of war power from Congress to the president - could commit the United States to a worldwide war without clear enemies, without any geographical boundaries' and 'without any boundary relating to time or specific objective to be achieved,' the letter warned."
May 10, 2011

13) Study of Black Bears Finds It's Not the Mamas That Should Be Feared the Most
May 11, 2011

14) Bin Laden Sons Say U.S. Broke International Law
May 10, 2011

15) Murky Identities and Ties Hinder NATO's Hunt for Afghan Insurgents, Report Says
May 10, 2011

16) Without Concessions, Connecticut Starts Layoff Process
"HARTFORD - A week after shepherding into law the largest tax increase in Connecticut history, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy began issuing layoff notices on Tuesday to the first of more than 4,700 state employees facing dismissal, after two months of negotiations with unions failed to reach an agreement on worker concessions and budget cuts. Both sides said talks would continue and expressed hope for a breakthrough, but the notices marked an impasse that might have seemed unlikely when Mr. Malloy, a Democrat, was elected in November with heavy union support."
May 10, 2011

17) In Queens Neighborhood, Schools Are Bursting
[I wonder how Obama's daughter's school compares with this one?]
May 10, 2011

18) Philip Morris Int'l CEO: Tobacco Not Hard to Quit
May 11, 2011

19) Study: USDA Still Plagued by Civil Rights Problems
May 11, 2011

20) Report: Bin Laden Already Dead
Wednesday, December 26, 2001
FOX News,2933,41576,00.html

21) Blue Cross names UAW's King, Ashton to board
Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
Last Updated: May 11. 2011 4:27PM

22) Greeks Stage Protests Against Spending Cuts and Tax Increases
May 11, 2011

23) A Year After Israeli Raid, 2nd Flotilla to Set Sail for Gaza
May 11, 2011

24) In America Being Poor is a Criminal Offense
By: Rania Khalek
Friday May 13, 2011 9:50 pm

25) Supporter of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning sues government over laptop seizure
The Boston Globe
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
May 13, 2011 03:29 PM

26) Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care
May 13, 2011

27) Japanese Worker's Death Not Linked to Radiation
May 14, 2011

28) Tension After Palestinian Boy's Death
May 14, 2011

29) For Second Time in 3 Days, Afghan Child Killed by NATO
May 14, 2011

30) Connecticut Unions Agree to $1.6 Billion in Givebacks
May 13, 2011


1) Renewable Sources Could Provide 77% of World's Energy by 2050, Report Says
May 9, 2011

BRUSSELS - Renewable sources could provide a majority of the world's energy supplies by 2050, but only if governments dramatically increase financial and political support for technologies like wind and solar power, experts from a United Nations panel said Monday.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a report that the availability of renewable sources like the wind and sun was virtually unlimited, and could provide up to 77 percent of the world's energy needs by mid-century, but governments needed to adopt policies to take advantage of them.

"The report shows that it is not the availability of the resource, but the public policies that will either expand or constrain renewable energy development over the coming decades," said Ramón Pichs Madruga, a member of the I.P.C.C. and the director of an economics research center in Cuba.

The report said renewable sources - bioenergy, wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and ocean energy - currently accounted for about 13 percent of global energy supply.

To reach the goal of generating nearly 80 percent of the world's energy from those same sources would require investments by governments and the private sector amounting to $5.1 trillion through 2020, and nearly $7.2 trillion between 2021 and 2030, according to the report.

The benefits would include better public health from cleaner air, as well as fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which would help hold an increase in global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.

Even so, a "substantial increase of renewables is technically and politically very challenging," said Ottmar Edenhofer, a member of the I.P.C.C. and the chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Among the most challenging factors is using a wider variety of technically and geographically diverse sources of energy in the future, according to the report.

Under the I.P.C.C. process, 120 experts and researchers prepared a Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation of about 1,000 pages comparing more than 160 scenarios on renewable energy.

In the second part of the process, government representatives of U.N. member states took until the early hours of Monday to agree on an outline of that report, called a Summary for Policy Makers. That summary is hugely important to clean energy companies and activists to press government leaders and international lenders to adjust energy policies and pay for new investment and infrastructure.


2) Standing Against Islamophobia, War and Terrorism
Muslim Peace Coalition, USA

Assalamu Alaikum

It was a conference of Imams about Islamophobia. And what did they get? Islamophobia. Three Imams were denied traveling, one of them a major leader of Muslims.

Imam Al-Amin Abdul Latif the president of the umbrella organization of the greater new York area the Islamic Leadership Council of New York Metropolitan New York (Majlis Ash Shura of New York) was stopped from flying by the American airlines. This incident happened last Friday May 6 when Imam was planning to attend an Imams conference on Islamophobia.

Imam Latif who is an African American, is a well known and well respected leader active in civil rights and social justice issues. He heads the 500,000 strong Muslim community of the greater New York area.

No American should be discriminated against. When a leader of Imam Latif's stature is discriminated against then all citizens are endangered

The allies of the Muslim Peace Coalition including the United National antiwar Committee have vowed to stand with us.

Background: Two other Imams flying from Memphis, TN on the same day were taken off the plane essentially due to a pilot decision. Imam Masudur Rahman, an adjunct professor of Arabic at the University of Memphis and Imam Mohamed Zaghloul were denied a flight even though TSA had cleared them for flying after a double security check at the airport and declared that they have no objection to the passengers flying. The pilot had made the decision essentially because of their religious dress due to Islamophobia. Perhaps because Tennesse recently passed an anti-sharia law. Delta Airline and the affiliate apologize and arranged a later flight for the imams.

In Imam Latif's case American Airlines did not give a reason. They denied him a flight twice after issuing him a boarding pass and now are claiming that they cannot find a reservation for him.

Several Imams regularly face travel related problems. Some leading Imams in North America, for example Dr. Abdalla Idris Ali, Imam Siraj Wahhaj are simply unable to travel outside their country because of the federal government.

It is therefore, important for us to call for a Justice Department Investigation into the violation of civil rights of Muslim travelers by the airlines.

Please take the following 3 actions Today:

First make these calls:

Then ask ten other members of your family, friends, and non Muslim partners to make the following calls today.

1- Call American Airlines to protest their behavior: 1-800--433-7300 punch 0 for operator

Tell them that you would like to speak to a customer service supervisor
Tell them that you are calling to protest denying Imam Al-Amin A Latif
It was a very wrong what they have done by not giving him any reasons why after giving him his boarding card he was refused a flight
He is the leader of all 500,000 Muslims in New York.
Because of their decision he had to drive ten hours to reach Charlotte, NC
Clergies deserve special respect not disrespect
Ask them to apologize

2. Call Justice Department complaint line: (800) 869-4499

Tell them to stop being unjust towards Muslims.
Ask why Well-established Muslim leaders are being denied flying rights.
Tell them why Imam Al-Amin A Latif was refused flight and why two other Imams including a professor were taken off the flight on the pilot feeling uncomfortable.
They might say it is a Dept of Homeland Security issue. Tell them no. We see it as a justice and civil rights issue to deny the right of travel to Muslim leaders and that is the reason you are calling the justice Department Civil Rights Division
They should open investigation on this ongoing harassment of Muslims

3. Call Civil Rights office of TSA: 1-877-336-4872

Ask them to stop profiling of Muslims
Ask them to investigate why Imam Latif was denied flight to Charlotte

Be polite but firm. It's your rights.

The Muslim Peace Coalition USA is a grassroots alliance that has spread to 14 states since its inception. The Coalition's mission is to work closely with the peace movement and civil rights organizations to oppose war, terrorism and Islamophobia.

Muslim Peace Coalition USA | 810 73rd St. | Downers Grove, IL 60516


3) Japan Scraps Plan for New Nuclear Plants
May 10, 2011

TOKYO - Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday that Japan would abandon plans to build new nuclear reactors, saying his country needed to "start from scratch" in creating a new energy policy.

Mr. Kan's announcement came as Japan allowed residents of evacuated areas around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to briefly revisit their homes for the first time since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March caused the nuclear accident.

Tuesday's decision will abandon a plan that the Kan government released last year to build 14 more nuclear reactors by 2030 and increase the share of nuclear power in Japan's electricity supply to 50 percent. Japan currently has 54 reactors that before the earthquake produced 30 percent of its electricity.

The cancellation of the planned nuclear plants is the second time that Mr. Kan has suddenly announced big changes in Japanese nuclear policy without the usual endless committee meetings and media leaks that characterize the country's consensus-driven decision making. Mr. Kan appears to be seeking a stronger leadership role after criticism of his government's sometimes slow and indecisive handling of the Fukushima accident.

Last week, Mr. Kan asked a utility company to suspend operations at the Hamaoka nuclear plant, which sits atop an active earthquake fault line, about 120 miles southwest of Tokyo. After three days of delays, the company, Chubu Electric Power, finally agreed on Monday to shut down the plant until a new wave wall was built and other measures could be taken to strengthen it against earthquakes and tsunamis.

Mr. Kan said Japan would retain nuclear and fossil fuels as energy sources, but vowed to add two new pillars to Japan's energy policy: renewable energy and conservation. While Japan has been a global leader in energy conservation, it lags behind the United States and Europe in adopting solar and wind power, and other new energy sources.

"We need to start from scratch," Mr. Kan told reporters. "We need to make nuclear energy safer and do more to promote renewable energy."

Mr. Kan had also previously called for Japan to sell its nuclear technology to emerging nations as a new source of export income. However, the Fukushima accident has prompted a global rethinking of nuclear energy and may drive customers away from Japanese suppliers to rivals in places like South Korea.

Mr. Kan also appeared to pull back from his earlier vows to remain committed to nuclear power. His apparent about-face may be driven partly by public opinion, which has soured on nuclear power since the Fukushima accident.

On Tuesday, Japan was reminded of the human costs of the disaster, when the first group of 92 people paid two-hour visits to their homes in the town of Kawauchi, within the 12-mile zone around the plant that was evacuated after the nuclear crisis.

The residents wore white anti-radiation clothing and traveled in buses under tight supervision by nuclear officials. They retrieved belongings such as photo albums and the small tablets traditionally used in Japan to honor dead relatives in household Buddhist shrines, according to local media reports.

The Kan government appeared to agonize for weeks over whether to allow even such brief trips. Officials were concerned about whether civilians could be kept safe from exposure to potentially high radiation doses around the plant.

Complicating their decision was the lack of scientific knowledge on the health effects of the radiation doses now seen in many of the evacuated areas. Some scientists say radiation levels even in many evacuated areas are too low to cause immediate illness while others worry that incidence of cancer could rise over the long term.

Last week, the government staged a trial run, in which officials played the role of returning residents, to see if the trips could be made safely, and within the time allotted. Screened for radiation on their return, those participating were found to have been exposed to a dose of up to 25 microsieverts during the two-hour visit.

That is well above the 3.8 microsieverts per hour that Japan has used in some cases as a threshold for deciding such safety issues as whether to allow children to play outside while at school.


4) Cuban Government Outlines Steps Toward a Freer Market
May 9, 2011

MEXICO CITY - For the first time since the Communist revolution 52 years ago, Cubans will be allowed to buy and sell houses and newer automobiles, and they may be able to travel abroad as tourists more freely, under policy changes announced Monday that are intended to shake up the country's foundering economy.

Cubans lined up at kiosks to pay the equivalent of 12 cents for booklets outlining 313 guidelines approved at a historic Communist Party congress last month.

The publication lacked many details on what restrictions, taxes and other potential roadblocks the initiatives might include, according to reporters in Havana who purchased it. It was not available online and details on how the changes will be carried out will probably not be known until Cuba's legislature codifies them in the coming months.

But analysts said that simply bringing into the open what had been a black market of house and automobile swaps could be one of the most significant changes to the economy in decades and could inject badly needed cash into the system.

Many Cubans hardly ever move, and they often are stuck driving crumbling Soviet-era cars bought from state dealers. Individuals are permitted to sell cars made before the 1959 revolution, but only to another owner.

"These are very important steps," said Arch Ritter, an economist at Carleton University in Ottawa who studies Cuba. "To have a housing market, for example, will be of tremendous importance to Cuban citizens, because there hasn't been a market in 50 years. In Cuba, people are born in the same house they die in."

Cuban expatriates in the United States have closely followed the changes, eyeing the potential to snap up real estate through relatives on the island, though it remains to be seen if the government will put brakes on foreign ownership or financing.

Many of these changes are already under way, announced in a number of speeches by President Raúl Castro over the past several months. In the speeches, Mr. Castro declared that Cuba, hit hard by the global recession, deteriorating sugar market and, the government says, repercussions of the United States' economic embargo, must move from an almost entirely state-based economy toward one allowing at least a little more free enterprise.

Mr. Castro has vowed to maintain socialism while taking steps like expanding the ranks of the self-employed and increasing the leasing of state land for private farming, all subject to heavy taxation.

But the publication released Monday included new or seldom-discussed nuggets. One was an effort to promote formation of cooperatives that The Associated Press reported could function as midsize companies, selling products directly to consumers.

The document also said leaders should "study a policy that allows Cubans living in the country to travel abroad as tourists." Tourist travel is already technically permitted, but an onerous, expensive bureaucratic process effectively halts all but select Castro loyalists from leaving.


5) New Call in Albany to Quit U.S. Immigration Program
May 9, 2011

A group of 38 state lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday urging him to remove New York from a national program that has been a cornerstone of the Obama administration's immigration enforcement efforts.

The letter comes about two months after another group of elected officials in the state, including 19 New York City Council members, sent a similar letter to Mr. Cuomo - part of a growing national chorus of hostility to the enforcement initiative, which has begun in most states and in some New York counties.

Under the program, called Secure Communities, the fingerprints of everyone booked into a local or county jail are automatically sent to the Department of Homeland Security and compared with prints in the agency's databases. If officials discover that a suspect is in the country illegally, or is a noncitizen immigrant with a criminal record, they may seek to deport the person.

Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois said he was pulling his state out of the program; it was the first time a state had sought to withdraw entirely. Mr. Quinn and other opponents complain that Secure Communities has strayed from its stated goal of ensnaring convicted criminals, particularly those found guilty of the most serious offenses, and that it is instead sweeping up many immigrants charged with low-level crimes or guilty only of being in the country illegally.

In their letter, the New York legislators applauded Mr. Quinn's action, adding, "Given New York's immigrant heritage and our leadership role in the nation, we firmly believe that our state, too, must immediately end this destructive program."

A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said on Monday that the governor and his staff were still reviewing the program.

The Bush administration began Secure Communities in 2008, intending to have it fully in place around the country by 2013. In May 2010, Gov. David A. Paterson signed agreements to cooperate, and by Monday, 24 of the 62 counties in New York had been added to the program. They include Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange and Dutchess Counties. They do not include New York City's five boroughs.The new data-sharing system has contributed to a surge in deportations. Opponents worry that it could deter illegal immigrants from coming forward as witnesses to help law enforcement officers fight crime.

In March, a group of lawyers and immigrant advocates analyzed data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and concluded that about one in four people deported under Secure Communities had not been convicted of a crime. In some jurisdictions, more than half of deportees were not convicted criminals, the advocates said.

New York's counties began joining the system on Jan. 11. Through the end of February, about 80 percent of the immigrants detained as a result of Secure Communities had no criminal record, advocates said.

While Obama administration officials have said that states can technically opt out of the program, refusal to participate would be costly. Federal officials have warned that any state that declines to share fingerprints through the program will lose access to the criminal databases of other states and the federal government, seriously hampering crime-fighting efforts.


6) Kate Swift, Writer Who Rooted Out Sexism in Language, Dies at 87
May 9, 2011

Kate Swift, a writer and editor who in two groundbreaking books - "Words and Women" and "The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing" - brought attention to the sexual discrimination embedded in ordinary English usage, died on Saturday in Middletown, Conn. She was 87.

The cause was stomach cancer, her grandniece Corin R. Swift said.

Ms. Swift turned her attention to the issue of sexist language when she and Casey Miller, her companion, formed a professional editing partnership in 1970 and were asked to copy-edit a sex education manual for junior high school students.

The stated goal of the manual was to encourage mutual respect and equality between boys and girls, but Ms. Swift and Ms. Miller, who died in 1997, concluded that the author's intent was being undermined by the English language.

"We suddenly realized what was keeping his message - his good message - from getting across, and it hit us like a bombshell," Ms. Swift said in a 1994 interview for the National Council of Teachers of English. "It was the pronouns! They were overwhelmingly masculine gendered."

The partners turned in a manuscript with suggestions that sex-identifying singular pronouns be made plural, or that pronouns be avoided altogether, and that word order be changed so girls preceded boys as often as the reverse.

"The publisher accepted some suggestions and not others, as always happens," Ms. Swift said. "But we had been revolutionized."

Now, they wrote in the preface to their first book, "Words and Women," "everything we read, heard on the radio and television, or worked on professionally confirmed our new awareness that the way English is used to make the simplest points can either acknowledge women's full humanity or relegate the female half of the species to secondary status."

Ms. Swift and Ms. Miller went on to write two attention-getting essays on the subject in 1972: "Desexing the English Language," which appeared in the inaugural issue of Ms. magazine, and "One Small Step for Genkind," which was published in The New York Times Magazine. "Words and Women: New Language in New Times" followed in 1976. An updated version was published in 1991.

The book illustrated the implicit biases in spoken and written English, highlighting the time-honored phrases "all men are created equal" and "land where our fathers died," the persistent identification of women by Miss and Mrs., and the journalistic habit of describing women as divorcées or blondes, who might be pert, dimpled or cute.

Some of the authors' proposals gained traction. Many newspapers, textbooks and public speakers avoid "fireman" and "stewardess" nowadays. Other ideas fell by the wayside, notably "genkind" as a replacement for "mankind," or "tey," "ter" and "tem" as sex-neutral substitutes for "he/she," "his/her" and "him/her."

Barbara Peabody Swift, known as Kate, was born on Dec. 9, 1923, in Yonkers, to a journalistic family. Her paternal grandfather, J. Otis Swift, wrote a daily nature column, "News Outside the Door," for The New York World and its successor, The World-Telegram, for 40 years. Her father and mother were both newspaper and magazine journalists.

She grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., and attended Connecticut College before earning a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina in 1944. After working as a copy runner in the NBC newsroom, she enlisted in the Women's Army Corps as a writer and editor for the Army's information and education department.

She was a writer for the Port of New Orleans, an editorial assistant at Time and a news writer for the public relations department of the Girl Scouts of America before becoming a science writer on the public-affairs staff of the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan in 1954, serving as the press liaison for the Hayden Planetarium. In 1965 she became the director of the news bureau of the school of medicine at Yale.

She lived in East Haddam, Conn., and Georgetown, Me. Her marriage ended in divorce. She is survived by a brother, John, of Georgetown, Me., and a half-sister, Marguerite Swift of Flagstaff, Ariz., and Georgetown.

Although Ms. Swift and Ms. Miller followed up their first book with a style guide, "The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing," in 1980, Ms. Swift insisted that she had no interest in policing the language.

"We just wanted to give people the background, to make them aware of what was happening right underneath their noses," she said of the handbook. "We didn't want to tell people, Do This or Don't Do That!"


7) Police Department in Newark Is Facing U.S. Inquiry
May 9, 2011

NEWARK - The Justice Department is investigating claims that brutality, baseless searches, intimidation and false arrests are commonplace in the Newark Police Department, officials announced on Monday.

The reported abuses closely parallel those alleged last September by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which called for a federal inquiry - a request that officials said helped prompt the investigation.

Federal officials took pains to describe the inquiry as a cooperative effort with the city, not a punitive one, and Mayor Cory A. Booker and his top police officials stood shoulder to shoulder at the announcement with Paul J. Fishman, the United States attorney for New Jersey, and Thomas E. Perez, who heads the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

After the civil liberties union's report was released, Mr. Booker and Garry F. McCarthy, the city's police director, called its accusations exaggerated and said no outside inquiry or oversight was needed.

But on Monday, Mr. Booker seemed to take credit for the investigation, saying repeatedly that his administration had requested it, with the message, "Please come in, we encourage you, we're asking you, we're welcoming you."

When the civil liberties group leveled its charges, Mr. Booker said, "we said, 'look, we've got to get the feds in here to start working with us' " and restore public trust in the police.

"We will now get hundreds of thousands of dollars of free consulting, frankly," he continued. "We will get a partnership that could dispel what could be the most extreme accusations."

The conduct of the Police Department is crucial to the political fortunes of Mr. Booker, who is often mentioned as a potential candidate for higher office. He became mayor in a high-crime city in 2006, vowing to make the police more effective and responsive, and in his first years his most frequent boast was how the department had improved.

Crime dropped early in his tenure, but it rose last year, and has continued to climb this year, after budget cuts forced the layoffs of about 10 percent of the police force. Mr. McCarthy, it was announced last week, will soon leave to become Chicago's police superintendent.

On Monday, Mr. Booker and Mr. McCarthy cited improvements they said they had made in addressing public concerns, like ensuring that citizen complaints are documented and investigated, rather than ignored, as large numbers of them used to be.

Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the state civil liberties group, said that the city had "taken a few baby steps in the right direction," but that the overall situation had not improved noticeably. And with the department stretched thinner, she said, misconduct may spread, as officers work under heavier burdens and lighter supervision.

Reporters pressed Mr. Fishman and Mr. Perez several times to cite specific cases that warranted federal investigation, but they declined. Mr. Fishman said that a preliminary inquiry had "resulted in information that we thought needed to have certain follow-up." But he would not elaborate, and he gave only a broad description of what the inquiry would cover.

"The areas will include whether officers of the Newark Police Department have engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against civilians, whether they have engaged in a pattern of unlawful stops, frisks, searches or arrests, and whether there has been discriminatory policing," he said.

Similar federal investigations - civil, not criminal - have occurred in other cities, including New Orleans and Seattle, and resulted in a range of recommendations to change police practices.

In its report last year, the civil liberties union documented 38 police misconduct lawsuits that Newark settled from the start of 2008 to mid-2010, paying some $5 million, and it found 51 new suits filed against the police in the same period. The suits came not just from civilians, but also from officers claiming they had been mistreated based on race, sex or even political alliances.

One case that was settled charged that officers had used excessive force against several people, including a woman who was videotaping them, and then threatened or tried to bribe people into dropping their complaints. In another, a man who had been arrested said an officer had beaten him severely for telling another man, who was being held in the same jail, where to file an internal affairs report about his treatment. Another charged that a man died after officers, who had beaten him in an altercation, refused to call for medical help.

As Mr. Booker noted on Monday, many of those actions took place before his tenure. But other failings charged by the civil liberties union occurred on his watch, including a lack of disciplinary action against most of the officers involved in those court cases.

The group said that in 2008 and 2009, the department's internal affairs office considered 261 complaints of serious misconduct by police officers, and upheld just one. In addition, many of the officers involved in the lawsuits against the department were not disciplined.

"The A.C.L.U.'s petition contained information that we considered, but we got information from a lot of sources," Mr. Fishman said. "It was one factor, but by no means the decisive one."


8) Egypt Inflation Climbs on Surging Food Prices
May 10, 2011

CAIRO (AP) - Egypt's annual urban inflation rate surged past 12 percent in April, pulled higher by spiking food prices, the government's statistical agency said Tuesday. The figures showed that some of the key catalysts that sparked the uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak remain firmly in place.

Annual urban inflation climbed to 12.1 percent in April compared to 11.5 percent in March, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics said on its website. Food prices were up 20.7 percent in April across the country, compared to the same month last year, it said.

Surging food prices were among the litany of woes about which Egyptians had complained over the past couple of years, and were widely seen as a key trigger for the mass uprisings that ousted Mubarak in February after nearly three weeks of protests.

Since then, the country's economy has been hard hit, with key revenue sources like tourism and foreign direct investment hammered, while persistent labor unrest has quashed productivity. Economic growth forecasts for fiscal 2010-2011, ending in June, have been slashed to between 2 and 3 percent from the pre-crisis forecasts of around 6 percent.

The increasing inflation rate is "not demand driven, because obviously demand is dropping, and has been, since the second half of the fiscal year ... while prices have continued to climb," said John Sfakianakis, chief economist with the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based Banque Saudi-Fransi.

He said the increase in inflation and prices was based on a combination of factors, including declining output that has created supply disruptions, as well as a depreciation in the value of the Egyptian pound that adds to the import bill.

The Central Bank on April 28 kept its overnight deposit rate and lending rate unchanged, looking simultaneously to support growth while avoiding stimulating inflation.

Sfakianakis said that even a rate increase by the Central Bank would be unlikely to bring food prices down. Inflationary pressures could remain strong given that Egypt is dependent on imports for about half of its domestic food consumption, and food prices account for about 44 percent of the inflation basket.

"For the rest of the year, ... the likelihood of a bit more pressure on prices is quite possible," he said.

Mideast investment bank Beltone Financial said in a note that the inflation figures surpassed its forecast of 11.8 percent

Niveen El Shafei, vice chairman of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones, told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a gas conference Tuesday that increasing inflation and unemployment, along with the widening of the fiscal deficit, are among the most pressing risks for Egypt at present.

El Shafei also said that the government was projecting foreign direct investments of just $3 billion to $4 billion for the fiscal year ending in June, a sharp decline in earlier projections of around $7 billion for the fiscal year.

"We've had to revise our targets," she said, adding that Egypt will likely "have to do the same with 2012."

"It's going to be a challenge," El Shafei said, since a number of the countries in the region grappling with unrest or uprisings are "potential FDI investors."

Egyptian officials have gone to great lengths to allay investor concerns about the country's commitment to honoring contracts amid an outcry in the press and lawsuits challenging land deals that critics said awarded massive plots of land to developers at cut-rate prices.

Anwal United Trading Co., the Saudi firm that bought a 90 percent stake in Egyptian department store Omar Effendi at the height of the country's privatization program in 2006, saw its contract scrapped by a Cairo administrative court last week. The chain, which was founded about 150 years ago, was privatized around 2006, with Anwal paying almost 600 million pounds ($101 million) for its stake.

On Tuesday, Jameel Al Qanbeet, Anwal's board chairman, said the company would appeal the ruling in Egyptian and international courts.

Al Qanbeet was quoted on the website of the Saudi daily, Al Ektisadiyah, as saying that he would first appeal to the Egyptian and Saudi governments to solve the dispute and that whoever wants the department store chain should pay them 1.3 billion Egyptian pounds ($219 million).

Such developments have done little to bolster investor confidence at a time when Egypt faces a host of other challenges, including depreciation pressures on the pound and a sharp drop in the country's net international reserves since January.

Finance Minister Samir Radwan is heading to the Gulf to try to attract investor interest from the oil-rich region in Egypt's infrastructure projects - ventures seen as key to creating new jobs and opportunities.


9) Progressive/Liberals Are Scabbing: It's NEVER OK To Cross A Picket Line By Jonathan Tasini Working Life
May 10, 2011

Scott Walker, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Paul Ryan...make your own list of the people who are viciously anti-union. We know the threat they pose: attacking the labor movement, and undermining the right to strike, is a death blow to the middle class and justice in America. The problem is that we are also undermined by another dangerous threat: liberals and progressives who cross picket lines - and do so with full knowledge that they are breaking a union strike. It's shameful.

Here is the story. There is a strike, boycott and electronic picket line targeting the Huffington Post. That strike has been called by two legitimate unions: the Newspaper Guild (an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America) and the National Writers Union, Local 1981 of the United Auto Workers. The two unions, and hundreds of bloggers throughout the country, are trying to get a share of the riches pocketed by the owners of the Huffington Post via its sale to AOL, and, as important, set a standard for fair treatment in the future. Full disclosure: I am a proud member of the NWU/UAW.

This strike can be won. But, the many bloggers who call themselves "liberals" or "progressives"--people who collect money from unions and/or ask for labor's political endorsements--have to stop crossing the Huffington Post electronic picket line. But, they continue to work for-- scab-- at a workplace that is being struck and boycotted.

I have decided, for now, not to publicly "out" those people who are scabs--though it doesn't take a lot to figure that out. I want them to come to their own conclusion that their actions are undermining the fight against the right-wing-- that if we are not united in support of labor, then, we cannot expect the rest of the country to show solidarity with workers.

This campaign--to publicly identify and praise people who support the strike and publicly identify the scabs--is about to commence in earnest. Many leaders have taken the right position regarding the strike, with the declared support from, among others, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL- CIO, and Leo Gerard, president of the Steelworkers and a long-time progressive labor leader.

No one has even asked that those scabs be publicly critical of Huffington. In fact, I have simply asked people to say, "I look forward to the day when I can return to this site and contribute. I make no judgment about who is right or wrong. But, as a matter of absolute principle, I will not cross a picket line".

Here are three of the justifications from a few of the scabs I have spoken to or emailed with directly--all of whom have received labor money and/or labor political endorsements.

[snarling]I've determined that she [Huffington] is too important to me and I don't care whether I'm scabbing or you call me a scab.

Ok, you are a scab.

I get five times as many people to read what I write about [X topic - I am not identifying the topic because it perhaps would identify the person-JT note] so I'm not going to do this.

"This" being honoring the picket line.

I'm an independent contractor who writes where I choose whether the place is organized or not.

Perhaps the lamest of the excuses I've heard.

Look, if you want to support a hypocrite, someone who has been crowned a progressive voice because she talks about greedy CEOs and the disappearing of the middle-class while she mimics that very Robber Baron behavior; who, as reported by NYTimes [now-former] reporter Frank Rich, is part of a cult labeled "dangerous" by cult experts; who sends her staff members to be indoctrinated by the cult; and who dismisses the workers who created value for a company with a "let them strike", Marie Antoinette-like wave of the hand, that is your business.

But, crossing a picket line is not acceptable. Whatever the reason.

Up front, an important point: honoring a picket line does not mean you have to agree with the reason for the strike. And I believe that people have the right, and often the duty, to speak up and be critical of labor in a positive, constructive way. God knows, I've done plenty of that and pissed off a fair number of labor people - including some very good friends. I would suggest only that that criticism be done judiciously so that it does not undermine public support for a strike. But, by all means, express your view about whether the strike is wise or not.

But being critical does not equal having the license to cross a picket line.

One colleague made a legitimate point: the two unions have not done a very good job at spreading the word about the strike and boycott and picket line. That's a valid criticism - and is fair to any person who posted at the site out of ignorance. This person, by the way, has committed to honor the picket line - as others have - but says that s/he will do so quietly (I'm going to urge this person to take a public stand).

But, now you know.

There are two additional key points to point out here. The people who choose to scab because, to one extent or another, they see the boycotted site as a lifeline for their ideas, which they view as monumentally crucial to the future of the country, are hugely full of themselves. They have to get over their own self-inflated importance, particularly if that self-importance is justifying, in their own minds, some cockamamie reason to be a scab and break a strike. The problem in the country is not the lack of ideas or proposals or policy papers--which these Very Serious People are delivering via the Huffington Post (along with kitten videos).

No, it's the lack of a movement in the streets--and, in particular, the disintegration of the labor movement to power that movement.

A disintegration that these scabs are aiding and abetting.

And because many of these liberals/progressives are at the forefront of correctly excoriating the anti-union forces in the country, let them answer this. How do you demand from Scott Walker or anyone else that they honor union rights if you aren't willing to do the same? Everyone of the scabs at the Huffington Post will be, and should be, the poster children for progressive hypocrisy trotted out by the right.

So, I make one personal commitment. To those people who refuse to honor a picket line, I promise to write as many letters or pick up the phone as many times as I need to for as long as it takes - and urge others to do the same - to deny those scabs labor money for their organizations or magazines, and/or labor political endorsements.

Let me close with Jack London's words (for a longer version of a speech he gave called "The Scab", read this):

After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab.

A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue.

Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.

No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with.

Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.

Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver.

Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British army.

The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled promise from his employer.

Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country.

A scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and his class.

[Jonathan Tasini is Executive Director of the Labor Research Association (LRA).In addition to blogging at WorkingLife, he also write columns for other publications.


10) Michigan Governor Takes a Walk of Shame in Benton Harbor
Frank Hammer
May 10, 2011

For 39 long minutes, Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder had to endure a barrage of thundering chants. "Recall Rick!" they demanded. "Shame, Shame!"

That's how long it took Snyder, on foot, with his entourage of motorcycle cops, bodyguards, and mounted police, to walk two miles through Benton Harbor as the honorary Grand Marshal of the town's Blossomtime Parade on Saturday.

The parade began under gray skies in the more affluent, mostly white town of St. Joseph, traversing the bridge over the St. Joseph River into the decidedly poorer, mostly African American Benton Harbor, where 50 percent of the people live below the official poverty line.

As the governor crossed the bridge, 500 protesters lining both sides of the street turned their backs and broke out into chants.

Benton Harbor, in the southwest corner of the state on Lake Michigan, is the first town picked by Snyder to flex his muscle under a new law that exponentially expanded the power of emergency managers over local governments or school districts with financial problems.

A slew of managers are in training; they will have the power to cancel union contracts, dismiss elected bodies, sell public assets, and privatize public services.

Within a month of the law's passage, Joseph Harris, Benton Harbor's previously appointed emergency manager, suspended the powers of the city commission, forbidding any action by elected officials without his permission.

Residents say this will be the final measure enabling the state to give away the town's assets to private corporations, turning the town's treasured waterfront park into a private golf course and an upscale residential development spearheaded by the Whirlpool Corporation, whose headquarters are in Benton Harbor.

Wisconsin union members, too, let their governor know last weekend he can't go out in public without attracting attention.

Governor Scott Walker opened the fishing season on Saturday at a state park and a flotilla of union workers took their boats out on the water to greet him. "The governor thinks it's a Madison protest," said Chippewa Falls High School teacher Roger Skifstad. "We have people from the northern part that are upset, too."

Defending Democracy

As Snyder walked through Benton Harbor, wearing a frozen grin, protesters kept pace along both sidewalks. They formed a virtual gauntlet, chanting and thrusting signs accusing the governor of trashing democracy the whole way. Along the route, they interacted with the parade watchers. Many turned around and spontaneously expressed support.

The demonstrators were a blend of local residents and unionists from around the state. The Auto Workers mobilized, dispatching a busload from Flint, and some from as far away as Tennessee. UAW President Bob King spoke, as demonstrators protested not only the dictatorial powers of the financial managers but also the legislature's attacks on public education and Michigan's teachers unions.

One of the speakers, an African American pastor and Vietnam vet, roused the crowd when he said, "I spent 13 months fighting for democracy in another land but I saw a sign here today that said 'Free Benton Harbor.' I'll be darned if I'll fight in Southeast Asia for democracy and freedom and come back to Benton Harbor and lose my democracy here."

Benton Harbor high school teacher Emily Heck decried the hundreds of dollars of cuts per student included in Snyder's proposed state budget, and other attacks on teacher compensation. "This is a blossom time parade, and it's time that our movement blossom," she said. Mayor Wilce Cooke said Benton Harbor was "a test case for the whole country."

Protester Jess Minks, a former United Mine Workers organizer from nearby Buchanan, likened Snyder's actions to those of mine owners who created company towns. "Everybody says this is about the unions," Minks said. "No, this is about democracy."

Asked why Snyder chose to attack Benton Harbor, Minks pointed to the $87 million complex being erected for the new Whirlpool headquarters (financed in part with $20 million from the state).

"Whirlpool is going to take over this city," he predicted.

Sarah Odine said this was only the second demonstration she'd ever been to, but she drove an hour and a half from Holland because "this is extreme. This is calling for a lot of action by a lot of people."

"That's why," said Vera Singleton, a retired city worker, "we are calling for the recall of Rick Snyder."


11) Five socialist parties unite to impact Egyptian politics
Mohamed El Hebeishy
Wednesday 11 May 2011

In a bid to gain political ground, five of Egypt's socialist movements unite under the new Coalition of Socialist Forces banner

Five Egyptian political parties and movements unite to form the Coalition of Socialist Forces, they announced in a meeting on Tuesday, 10 May.

The newly formed coalition is made up of the Social Party of Egypt, the Democratic Labour Party, the Popular Socialist Coalition Party, Egypt Communist Party and Revolutionary Socialism. It aims to include under its umbrella other socialist movements in Egypt, which are considered fragmented.

"We [social political activists] are optimistic that the Coalition of Socialist Forces will bring a stronger socialist presence onto Egypt's political scene" said Gigi Ibrahim a political activist.

During Tuesday's meeting, there were intense discussions regarding the recent turn of events in the country and how it impacts the revolution.

The Coalition of Socialist Forces has appealed to all Egyptians, irrespective of their ideologies, to amass in Tahrir Square on Friday 13 May in a bid to protect the demands of revolution and for national unity.


12) After Bin Laden, U.S. Reassesses Afghan Strategy
"In a joint letter to Congress, about two dozen groups - including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights - contended that the proposal amounted to an open-ended grant of authority to the executive branch, legitimizing an unending war from Yemen to Somalia and beyond. 'This monumental legislation - with a large-scale and practically irrevocable delegation of war power from Congress to the president - could commit the United States to a worldwide war without clear enemies, without any geographical boundaries' and 'without any boundary relating to time or specific objective to be achieved,' the letter warned."
May 10, 2011

WASHINGTON - The killing of Osama bin Laden has set off a reassessment of the war in Afghanistan and the broader effort to combat terrorism, with Congress, the military and the Obama administration weighing the goals, strategies, costs and underlying authority for a conflict that is now almost a decade old.

Two influential senators - John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana - suggested Tuesday that it was time to rethink the Afghanistan war effort, forecasting the beginning of what promises to be a fierce debate about how quickly the United States should begin pulling troops out of the country.

"We should be working toward the smallest footprint necessary, a presence that puts Afghans in charge and presses them to step up to that task," Mr. Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said at a hearing. "Make no mistake, it is fundamentally unsustainable to continue spending $10 billion a month on a massive military operation with no end in sight."

Both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lugar, the committee's senior Republican, said they remained opposed to a precipitous withdrawal.

Still, "the broad scope of our activities suggests that we are trying to remake the economic, political and security culture of Afghanistan - but that ambitious goal is beyond our power," Mr. Lugar said. "A reassessment of our Afghanistan policy on the basis of whether our overall geostrategic interests are being served by spending roughly $10 billion a month in that country was needed before our troops took out Bin Laden."

Inside the Pentagon, however, officials make the case that rather than using Bin Laden's death as a justification for withdrawal, the United States should continue the current strategy in Afghanistan to secure additional gains and to further pressure the Taliban to come to the bargaining table for negotiations on political reconciliation.

And in Congress, a debate is getting under way over the underlying authority used by two successive administrations to wage the post-Sept. 11 fight against terrorist organizations and their supporters.

The House Armed Services Committee is expected to take up a defense authorization bill on Wednesday that includes a new authorization for the government to use military force in the war on terrorism. The provision has set off an argument over whether it is a mere update - or a sweeping, open-ended expansion - of the power Congress granted to the executive branch in 2001.

The new authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda was unveiled by the committee chairman, Representative Howard P. McKeon, Republican of California. The committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on amendments to the bill.

The provision states that Congress "affirms" that "the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces," and that the president is authorized to use military force - including detention without trial - of members and substantial supporters of those forces.

That language, which would codify into federal law a definition of the enemy that the Obama administration has adopted in defending against lawsuits filed by Guantánamo Bay detainees, would supplant the existing military force authorization that Congress passed overwhelmingly on Sept. 14, 2001. It instead named the enemy as the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Critics of Mr. McKeon's provision have reacted with alarm to what they see as an effort to entrench in a federal statute unambiguous authority for the executive branch to wage war against terrorists who are deemed associates of Al Qaeda but who lack a clear tie to the Sept. 11 attacks.

In a joint letter to Congress, about two dozen groups - including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights - contended that the proposal amounted to an open-ended grant of authority to the executive branch, legitimizing an unending war from Yemen to Somalia and beyond.

"This monumental legislation - with a large-scale and practically irrevocable delegation of war power from Congress to the president - could commit the United States to a worldwide war without clear enemies, without any geographical boundaries" and "without any boundary relating to time or specific objective to be achieved," the letter warned.

But Mr. McKeon argued in a statement that the provision did nothing more than codify the Obama administration's interpretation of its legal authority to address the threat of Al Qaeda in light of its splintering and evolution over the past decade.

"This bill does not expand the war effort," he said. "Instead, the legislation better aligns the old legal authorities used to detain and prosecute those intent on attacking America with the threats our country faces today."

President Obama will soon begin considering plans for making good on his pledge to begin withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan in July. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior commander in Afghanistan, is expected to submit his options soon for carrying out Mr. Obama's order.

On Tuesday, the commander of American and allied forces across the violent, contested provinces of eastern Afghanistan said that the death of Bin Laden might weaken the syndicate of insurgent groups battling the Kabul government, although it may take months to determine which might seek reconciliation and which will seek revenge.

The commander, Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell of the 101st Airborne Division, said during a video news conference to the Pentagon from his headquarters at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan that the death of Al Qaeda's founder might splinter historic ties between Al Qaeda and indigenous insurgent leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan who helped protect it.

The insurgency is made up of a number of groups with different motivations, different goals and different relationships with Al Qaeda. The organizations may still be digesting the news of Bin Laden's death before deciding on a course of action.

General Campbell said he had not yet seen any increase in the flow of fighters from Pakistan or attacks attributed to revenge for Bin Laden's death.

Still, the images of Bin Laden living in comfort in a Pakistan safe house may undermine the morale of frontline insurgent fighters, General Campbell said, coming as some insurgent foot soldiers are said to be expressing frustration with their leadership's commanding from the relative safety of Pakistan.

"I think the insurgents are going to say, 'Hey, you know, why am I doing this?' " he said. "And I think there's great potential for many of the insurgents to say, 'Hey, I want to reintegrate.' "

Helene Cooper contributed reporting.


13) Study of Black Bears Finds It's Not the Mamas That Should Be Feared the Most
May 11, 2011

If you believe Stephen Colbert - and really, who doesn't? - bears are deadly.

"Bears are soulless, godless, rampaging killing machines," the comedian has written. "They are Satan's minions and the TRUE symbol of evil."

He might be surprised, then, by a new study that found that black bears - the most common bears in North America - have killed only 63 people in the United States and Canada over the last 109 years.

The study also found, contrary to popular perception, that the black bears most likely to kill are not mothers protecting cubs. Most attacks, 88 percent, involved a bear on the prowl, likely hunting for food. And most of those predators, 92 percent, were male.

"Mother bears, whenever they feel threatened or a person is too close, they act very aggressively," said Stephen Herrero, the study's lead author. "They make noise, they swat the ground with their paws and they run at people. They want to make you think that they'll eat you alive, but they almost always stop."

By contrast, "the kind of bear you need to be afraid of is not feeling threatened by you - it's testing you out as a possible prey item," said Dr. Herrero, a professor emeritus at the University of Calgary. "It's quiet. It stalks you just like a lion might stalk you."

Given that there are about 900,000 black bears in North America, the number of attacks is small, but it has increased as both the human and bear populations have grown. Eighty-six percent of attacks occurred between 1960 and 2009, 17 of those since 2000.

"It's not an increase in hungry bears," said Dr. Herrero. "It's simply more and more people out there interacting with bears."

Still, most deaths occurred in places with fewer people: 44 in Canada and 5 in Alaska, the state with the most attacks. That may be because bears in more sparsely populated areas are less accustomed to people or because television shows and wildlife tours have "generated in people a desire to get close to dangerous things," said Barry Lopez, an author of books on wildlife. "There could be no change in the resident population, but the visiting population has grown dramatically," Mr. Lopez said.

Most attacks killed one person, but in three cases two or three people were killed by the same bear within several hours. And once, in Saskatchewan, a bear that killed one person tried to kill another several days later.

"That person was able to kill the bear, and when they skinned out the bear they found the remains of the other person," said Dr. Herrero, suggesting that bears that have been aggressive once will be more likely to try again.

For example, a black bear that grabbed 11-year-old Samuel Ives from his family's tent in Utah's American Fork Canyon in 2007, killing him, had apparently slashed another tent earlier that day. Last week, a judge awarded the family $1.95 million, saying the federal Forest Service should have warned them about a dangerous bear.

Dr. Herrero and other experts said that black bears are less confrontational than grizzlies and polar bears because they evolved differently.

"Black bears evolved in thickly forested areas and can escape to the top of a tree, so they never really had to defend themselves," said Chris Morgan, a bear ecologist who wrote the just-published "Bears of the Last Frontier" and is featured in a three-part PBS series. "Polar bears are very much of a predator bear, having evolved rapidly to become a specialist in hunting seals. It's a good thing most of us don't live in polar bear country."

While there are about 15 times as many black bears as grizzlies, grizzlies kill about twice as many people, likely because they evolved in open plains and rarely climb trees, Dr. Herrero said. Roughly half of grizzly attacks involve mothers protecting cubs.

The black bear findings, published Wednesday in the Journal of Wildlife Management, suggest that people should behave differently around different bears. With a mother defending cubs, "you just back away calmly and give it some space," Dr. Herrero said. "With a predatory bear, you stand your ground, stomp at it, throw rocks at it, whatever you need to do to convince it you're not easy prey."

Never run from bears, and always discourage them with bear spray, portable electric fencing and bear-resistant food containers, Mr. Morgan said. He stressed, though, that "any two bears you meet are as different as any two people you meet. Not every person you come across is a calm poet, not every person is a nasty mugger. Bears, because of their intelligence, develop individual personalities."


14) Bin Laden Sons Say U.S. Broke International Law
May 10, 2011

WASHINGTON - The adult sons of Osama bin Laden have lashed out at President Obama in their first public reaction to their father's death, accusing the United States of violating its basic legal principles by killing an unarmed man, shooting his family members and disposing of his body in the sea.

The statement, provided to The New York Times on Tuesday, said the family was asking why Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, "was not arrested and tried in a court of law so that truth is revealed to the people of the world."

Citing the trials of Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader, and Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader, the statement questioned "the propriety of such assassination where not only international law has been blatantly violated," but the principles of presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial were ignored.

"We maintain that arbitrary killing is not a solution to political problems," the statement said, adding that "justice must be seen to be done."

The statement, prepared at the direction of Omar bin Laden, who had publicly denounced his father's terrorism, was provided to The Times by Jean Sasson, an American author who helped the younger Mr. Bin Laden write a 2009 memoir, "Growing Up bin Laden." A shorter, slightly different statement was posted on jihadist Web sites.

Omar bin Laden, 30, lived with his father in Afghanistan until 1999, when he left with his mother, Najwa bin Laden, who co-wrote the memoir. In the book and other public statements, the younger Mr. bin Laden had denounced violence of all kinds, a stance he repeated in the sons' statement.

"We want to remind the world that Omar bin Laden, the fourth-born son of our father, always disagreed with our father regarding any violence and always sent messages to our father, that he must change his ways and that no civilians should be attacked under any circumstances," the statement said. "Despite the difficulty of publicly disagreeing with our father, he never hesitated to condemn any violent attacks made by anyone, and expressed sorrow for the victims of any and all attacks."

Condemning the shooting of one of the Qaeda leader's wives during the assault on May 2 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the statement added, "As he condemned our father, we now condemn the president of the United States for ordering the execution of unarmed men and women."

In explaining the killing of Bin Laden, Obama administration officials have cited the principle of national self-defense in international law, noting that Bin Laden had declared war on the United States, killed thousands of Americans and vowed to kill more.

The sons' statement called on the government of Pakistan to hand over to family members the three wives and a number of children now believed to be in Pakistani custody and asked for a United Nations investigation of the circumstances of their father's death.

None of Osama bin Laden's sons other than Omar, who lives in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were named in the statement; Ms. Sasson said she believed it was approved by three other adult sons who have not lived with their father for many years. Before Osama bin Laden fled Afghanistan in 2001, he had at least 11 sons, one of whom was killed in the assault last week, and nine daughters, by Ms. Sasson's count.

In addition to the statement, Ms. Sasson shared notes on what Omar bin Laden, who declined to be interviewed directly, had told her by telephone in recent days. The notes describe Mr. Bin Laden's struggle, as he came of age, to understand and eventually reject his father's embrace of religious violence.

Mr. Bin Laden told Ms. Sasson that the death of his father "has affected this family in much the same way as many other families" that experience such a loss. But he also described a childhood of "upheavals and relocations" that, she said, "caused his mother and siblings great upset and danger."

Mr. Bin Laden said that by the age of 18, after Al Qaeda had plotted the bombings of two American Embassies in East Africa and two years before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he had concluded "that the course of action his father was taking was not for him, irrespective of what his father's wishes were," Ms. Sasson said.

Eventually he asked his father's permission to leave Afghanistan with his mother and younger siblings. He told Ms. Sasson that he "thanks Allah that his father granted his permission for this departure, otherwise the grief the family faces could be even greater."


15) Murky Identities and Ties Hinder NATO's Hunt for Afghan Insurgents, Report Says
May 10, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan - Two new reports addressing human rights issues in Afghanistan have raised questions about how NATO troops are conducting the war. Both reports center on a question that has vexed international forces since the war began: How can the military be sure it has killed, detained or made deals with the right people?

A report by the Afghan Analysts Network challenges the accuracy of American intelligence used in what are known as targeted killings, and makes a case study of the killing of an alleged Qaeda-affiliated operative in Takhar Province who was attacked by NATO jets as he traveled in a convoy through a rural area. The report offers evidence that NATO forces got the wrong man and that the insurgent commander they were seeking is alive in Pakistan - an interview with him is included in the report.

However, NATO officials stand by their account and the intelligence it was based on, and insist that they got the man they were seeking, Mohammed Amin.

"In this instance, multiple forms of intelligence confirm that coalition forces targeted the correct person after tracking his activities for nearly six months," said Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a NATO spokesman. Colonel Dorrian said the evidence included confirmation from a family member and "additional intelligence" showing that Mr. Amin had operated as a so-called shadow governor in Takhar on behalf of Taliban insurgents.

The other report, by Human Rights First, examines the growing number of detainees and the legal rights accorded them at the detention facility in Parwan, which replaced the detention area at Bagram air base. As of April 23, the Parwan facility housed 1,750 detainees, according to Cmdr. Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for the American military's detention operations here.

The report notes a number of improvements in detention operations, but emphasizes that many detainees insist they were taken into custody based on false intelligence and that they take that view back to their villages when released. Detainees remain unable to see much of the evidence used to apprehend them or hold them for unlimited periods of time.

"In the view of their families and communities, the United States is arbitrarily detaining people based on false intelligence," the reports says.

Underpinning both reports is the difficulty of obtaining accurate information about whether people are who they say. It is a problem faced by foreigners working here, whether as diplomats, aid workers, journalists or human rights workers. The United States government and other countries' governments have repeatedly entered into contracts with corrupt people and paid off rights abusers thinking they were legitimate actors.

"We need to be careful," said Nadir Nadiry, the deputy director of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. "Sometimes I've gone face to face with NATO because we talked to the families and it seems clear that people had been wrongly killed or detained, and then it was countered by information that shows I was naïve," he said.

There have been substantial improvements, but NATO still makes mistakes, he said. "Our findings show that in the last year, it has been much more precise in terms of what the community and people are telling us," Mr. Nadiry said. "Most of the time, they hit the right target, but yes, sometimes it goes wrong."

The incident recounted in the Afghan Analysts report occurred on Sept. 2. NATO jets bombed a convoy carrying the man who was alleged to be working with the Taliban in Takhar Province.

The bombs killed him and killed or wounded 8 to 12 others, believed to be insurgents, according to a NATO statement at the time.

Within hours it became clear that at least one person in the convoy was a candidate for Parliament, who was wounded. He insisted that the other people in the convoy were campaign workers accompanying him to three village rallies. NATO's target was his uncle, who was helping to support his campaign, he said. The government of President Hamid Karzai and the local provincial government said much the same.

The report by Afghan Analysts traces the uncle's life, in which he fought at various times on different sides and was captured and tortured by different groups. But in the period shortly before his death, he was living peacefully in Kabul. According to the report, a Taliban leader active in Takhar, whom the man knew, used his name as an alias, adding a further layer of confusion and leaving the overall sense that a number of players have such shifting allegiances and identities that it may be nearly impossible to make accurate judgments about them.


16) Without Concessions, Connecticut Starts Layoff Process
"HARTFORD - A week after shepherding into law the largest tax increase in Connecticut history, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy began issuing layoff notices on Tuesday to the first of more than 4,700 state employees facing dismissal, after two months of negotiations with unions failed to reach an agreement on worker concessions and budget cuts. Both sides said talks would continue and expressed hope for a breakthrough, but the notices marked an impasse that might have seemed unlikely when Mr. Malloy, a Democrat, was elected in November with heavy union support."
May 10, 2011

HARTFORD - A week after shepherding into law the largest tax increase in Connecticut history, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy began issuing layoff notices on Tuesday to the first of more than 4,700 state employees facing dismissal, after two months of negotiations with unions failed to reach an agreement on worker concessions and budget cuts.

Both sides said talks would continue and expressed hope for a breakthrough, but the notices marked an impasse that might have seemed unlikely when Mr. Malloy, a Democrat, was elected in November with heavy union support. The governor has warned of layoffs and wrenching program cuts since he announced his proposed spending plan on Feb. 16, saying that significant concessions from state workers and substantial program cuts were needed to produce a balanced budget.

Last week, the legislature passed a two-year, $40.1 billion budget that assumed $1 billion each year in concessions. The notices sent on Tuesday were a reminder that those savings are still assumed rather than real, and that the alternative is thousands of layoffs, which the governor said would save the state about $455 million, as well as $545 million in additional spending cuts across state government.

"I want to be clear that this is not the road I wanted to go down," Mr. Malloy said in a statement. "I didn't want to lay people off, and I didn't want to make additional spending cuts beyond the $780 million in spending we've already cut. But I have no choice."

"I promised to deliver a budget that is balanced with no gimmicks," he added, "and I will."

The notices went to the first of 4,742 employees singled out for layoffs, which would be effective in the new fiscal year, beginning July 1. Program cuts are likely to push the number to more than 5,000 out of a full-time work force of more than 46,000.

But rather than a decisive line in the sand, the layoff notices were described by both sides as part of a process that seems to be unfolding in the traditional, protracted rhythms of labor negotiations. Neither side seemed inclined to set rigid deadlines.

"We're going to keep talking until we reach a mutual agreement," said Matt O'Connor, a spokesman for the consortium of unions negotiating with the state. "The hope," he added, "is we reach a mutual agreement sooner rather than later, but that's been the hope all along."

Roy Occhiogrosso, a Malloy spokesman, said the governor sent out the notices reluctantly. "I think he has the sense that not enough progress has been made to warrant delaying another day or two, and he felt it was important to begin this process in an orderly fashion in case no deal is reached," Mr. Occhiogrosso said. "You can't wait until the very end of the process and then do all the catching up."

The layoffs vary across departments and agencies. The most would come at the Education Department, which would lose 1,413 of its 1,706 employees, including large numbers of teachers at vocational-technical schools. Also included in the cuts are 471 jobs in higher education, including the Connecticut state university system, and an additional 285 jobs at the University of Connecticut. With the state trying to maximize tax collections, largely spared is the Department of Revenue Services, where only 1.6 percent of the work force would be laid off.

Union officials said the layoffs would be disastrous at a time of widespread unemployment.

"Layoffs aren't good for the economy; whether they're private sector or public sector, it doesn't make a difference," Mr. O'Connor said. "The last thing Connecticut needs is more job cuts."

Mr. Malloy said the concessions he sought in wages, health care and pension benefits were aimed at both the short-term savings necessary to balance this budget and the long-term structural savings needed to make state government sustainable.

"The state employee representatives have thus far not offered enough," he said.


17) In Queens Neighborhood, Schools Are Bursting
May 10, 2011

The 10 portable classrooms outside Public School 19 in Corona, Queens, were supposed to be temporary.

Sixteen years later, they are still there, holding nearly double the elementary schoolchildren they were meant to and struggling with age. The heating system malfunctions in the winter, forcing students to sit through lessons wearing coats, scarves and hats.

In the main building at P.S. 19, there are monitors to keep order in the lines that form outside the bathrooms, and students' trips are timed. The wait can be too long for some of the younger students.

Lourdes Castillo said her 6-year-old son came home at least once every week with his pants wet. Bertha Trix said her 5-year-old daughter told her she had to choose between eating or using the bathroom during lunchtime because there was no time for both.

"On most days," Ms. Trix said, "she comes home hungry."

Parents in well-to-do neighborhoods of Manhattan and in Park Slope, Brooklyn, have become accustomed to kindergarten waiting lists and congested classrooms, problems that may become worse if the city carries out its proposal to lay off 4,100 teachers. But nowhere in the city has crowding been as acute and as intractable as in Corona.

As immigrant families have flooded into Corona in recent years, their children have poured into the neighborhood's schools. Crowding has been an issue for at least two decades, but it has become especially severe since 2005; in District 24, which encompasses Corona and six other neighborhoods in western Queens, student enrollment has gone up 12 percent in that time, while citywide, it has remained flat.

Since 2003, the city's Education Department has added 8,224 school seats in the district, but it still has the largest class sizes in the city in grades 1 through 3. More than a third of first graders attend a class with at least 28 students, compared with 13 percent of first graders citywide. The department plans an additional 4,491 seats by 2014, and a new 1,100-student school is scheduled to open four blocks from P.S. 19 in 2015.

It has been a struggle to keep up with growth. In 2008, the city opened a new school, the Pioneer Academy, across the street from P.S. 19. But Pioneer, which was meant to have 5 kindergarten classes a year, had 7 in its first year and 10 the next.

It is adding a grade each year, but already it has so many students that the principal, Cecilia Jackson, said she was not sure there would be room for the fifth grade in 2013. Its kindergarten waiting list, with 111 zoned students, is second only to that of Public School 169 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

There are already fifth graders using Pioneer Academy's building: in an emergency declaration last fall, the Education Department moved the fifth grade of another packed Corona school, Public School 16, into Pioneer. Last month, the city's Panel for Educational Policy voted to move the fifth grade of P.S. 16 to yet another school in the fall, one and a half miles away, because Pioneer needed the space to continue expanding.

"What's happening here is a simple game of musical chairs," said State Senator José R. Peralta, who represents the area.

The school crowding problem in Corona and elsewhere can be traced, in part, to the 1970s, when the Board of Education sold, gave away or demolished nearly 100 schools as enrollment dropped and a severe crisis crippled the city's finances. In the early 1990s, just as the population was taking off again, renewed economic troubles forced the city to cut the school construction budget in half, and since it takes many years to find property, buy it and then design and build a school, the repercussions of those cuts are still being felt.

P.S. 19, which occupies an entire block on Roosevelt Avenue, between 98th and 99th Streets, was already one of the city's most congested elementary schools in 1995 when the portable classrooms were installed.

To its principal, Genie Calibar, managing the school's 2,005 students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, requires logistical contortion. She uses all of the main building's five doors in the morning to make sure no one is late for class, holds staggered dismissals in the afternoon to avert chaos and breaks up school assembly into multiple sessions, the only way everyone can fit in the auditorium, she said.

The cafeteria serves many purposes: as a music room, a study hall for students who need extra help in math and a classroom for immigrant mothers who learn English through a program housed at the school.

A broom closet was retrofitted to serve as the parent coordinator's office. Special-education students have physical therapy in a third-floor hallway, between a classroom and a tall file cabinet.

But bathrooms are one thing that cannot be improvised. The occasional embarrassment does occur, but students have learned to cope. María Ramirez said her 5-year-old son, who is in kindergarten, drinks only a little bit of the juice she packs for him every day so he will not feel like going to the bathroom at school.

"The first thing he does when he comes home is run to the bathroom," Ms. Ramirez said.

Alejandra Ruiz and Placida Rodriguez, organizers at Make the Road New York, an advocacy group with a focus on recent immigrants, have been handing out fliers outside crowded schools in Corona to try to cajole parents into asking for more room for their children.

The hard part, Ms. Ruiz said, is persuading the many illegal immigrants among them to speak up. "They're afraid of drawing attention to themselves," she said.

Maria Quiroz, president of the Parents' Association at P.S. 19, delivered a petition to the city two years ago asking it to remove the portable classrooms and to build a brick-and-mortar extension to the main building.

In March, the local City Council representative, Julissa Ferreras, held a meeting with Education Department officials to make the same demand.

"They said they didn't want to have a megaschool for little kids," Ms. Ferreras said. "Guess what? P.S. 19 already is a megaschool. What the kids there need is more space."

Robert Gebeloff contributed reporting.


18) Philip Morris Int'l CEO: Tobacco Not Hard to Quit
May 11, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The head of cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc. told a cancer nurse Wednesday that while cigarettes are harmful and addictive, it is not that hard to quit.

CEO Louis C. Camilleri's statement was in response to comments at its annual shareholder meeting in New York, in which the seller of Marlboro and other brands overseas spent most of the gathering sparring with members of anti-tobacco and other groups targeting its marketing and regulatory dealings.

A woman identifying herself as a nurse named Elizabeth from the University of California-San Francisco cited statistics that tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans and 5 million people worldwide each year.

She also said a patient told her last week that of all the addictions he's beaten - crack, cocaine, meth - cigarettes have been the most difficult.

In response, Camilleri said: "We take our responsibility very seriously, and I don't think we get enough recognition for the efforts we make to ensure that there is effective worldwide regulation of a product that is harmful and that is addictive. Nevertheless, whilst it is addictive, it is not that hard to quit. ... There are more previous smokers in America today than current smokers."

Philip Morris International, with offices in New York and Lausanne, Switzerland, was spun off from Richmond, Va.-based Altria in March 2008. Altria still sells Marlboro and other Philip Morris brands in the U.S.

Philip Morris International is the world's largest non-governmental cigarette seller, smaller only than state-controlled China National Tobacco Corp.

Michael Felberbaum can be reached at


19) Study: USDA Still Plagued by Civil Rights Problems
May 11, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new report says the Agriculture Department is still plagued by civil rights problems after decades of discrimination against minorities seeking farm loans and other services.

The $8 million study by a private consulting firm was commissioned by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2009 as part of an effort to correct longstanding problems.

The study shows a lack of diversity in rural offices and a lack of outreach to minorities seeking loans. It includes more than 200 recommendations for the department to better serve those minorities.

Vilsack said Wednesday that the department has already implemented some of the recommendations.


20) Report: Bin Laden Already Dead
Wednesday, December 26, 2001
FOX News,2933,41576,00.html

Usama bin Laden has died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended the funeral of the Al Qaeda leader.

"The Coalition troops are engaged in a mad search operation but they would never be able to fulfill their cherished goal of getting Usama alive or dead," the source said.

Bin Laden, according to the source, was suffering from a serious lung complication and succumbed to the disease in mid-December, in the vicinity of the Tora Bora mountains. The source claimed that bin Laden was laid to rest honorably in his last abode and his grave was made as per his Wahabi belief.

About 30 close associates of bin Laden in Al Qaeda, including his most trusted and personal bodyguards, his family members and some "Taliban friends," attended the funeral rites. A volley of bullets was also fired to pay final tribute to the "great leader."

The Taliban source who claims to have seen bin Laden's face before burial said "he looked pale ... but calm, relaxed and confident."

Asked whether bin Laden had any feelings of remorse before death, the source vehemently said "no." Instead, he said, bin Laden was proud that he succeeded in his mission of igniting awareness amongst Muslims about hegemonistic designs and conspiracies of "pagans" against Islam. Bin Laden, he said, held the view that the sacrifice of a few hundred people in Afghanistan was nothing, as those who laid their lives in creating an atmosphere of resistance will be adequately rewarded by Almighty Allah.

When asked where bin Laden was buried, the source said, "I am sure that like other places in Tora Bora, that particular place too must have vanished."


21) Blue Cross names UAW's King, Ashton to board
Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
Last Updated: May 11. 2011 4:27PM

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan today announced its board of directors has appointed United Auto Workers President Bob King and UAW Vice President Joe Ashton to seats on its 35-member board.

The state's largest health insurer also said its board re-elected Gregory A. Sudderth of Gladstone, president of Executive Labor-Management Services Inc., as chairman and re-elected Spencer C. Johnson of Okemos, president of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, as vice chair.

King replaces former UAW secretary-treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who resigned late last year. King's term runs to April 2013.

Ashton, whose term runs to April 2012, is filling the seat of Cal Rapson, who resigned in March.

Blue Cross' board includes 22 seats filled from customers, while eight seats are slated for medical professionals, four are appointed by the governor and the Blues' CEO holds a nonvoting seat.

(313) 222-2319


22) Greeks Stage Protests Against Spending Cuts and Tax Increases
May 11, 2011

ATHENS - Tens of thousands of Greeks took to the streets here on Wednesday for a largely peaceful protest against the debt-ridden government's austerity drive, as a general strike called by labor unions disrupted transport services and closed schools and other public services.

The one-day strike came as the government - still struggling to get its financial house in order - is about to unveil yet another raft of spending cuts and tax increases. But many experts are increasingly skeptical of Greece's ability to find a path to solvency without further aid from its European partners.

Greece's economy has shrunk far more than experts originally expected last year, when the government needed a $140 billion rescue package to avoid bankruptcy. It shrank 4.5 percent last year, and is likely to contract by an additional 3 percent, according to Greece's Central Bank. The national debt - now at about 140 percent of G.D.P. - is forecast to hit nearly 160 percent by 2012.

Just how that debt would be restructured to keep Greece from falling even further behind remains an open question. So far, Greek and European officials have said a restructuring that would cause bondholders to suffer a haircut - a loss on their holdings - is out of the question. But that does not preclude softer options, like longer maturity dates on the loans in the rescue package and perhaps even a lower interest rate.

Experts believe proposals are likely to come after the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund complete an audit of Greece's progress in executing various reforms it agreed to in exchange for the emergency loans last May. That report is due next month. But despite Greece's grim finances and the appeals of labor unions, the demonstration Wednesday drew a modest turnout by Greek standards, with the police and the unions putting the figures at 20,000 and 40,000, respectively.

Prime Minister George Papandreou continues to outpoll his rivals, though he is facing some disorder in his own party. He held an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday after one of his most popular and visible ministers, Andreas Loverdos, criticized his government for "mixed policy messages."

Mr. Loverdos, the health minister, was referring to months of cabinet in-fighting that has delayed an austerity package and a $70 billion privatization program, which the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are demanding be in place before any further talk of new aid.

During the demonstrations, tensions flared up outside Athens University when hundreds of youths pelted the police with stones and bottles. Officers responded by firing tear gas that sent passers-by scurrying into side streets. Maria Kalimeri, a 48-year-old teacher, sheltering from the tear gas under a bus stop, said she had had enough of austerity, and of protests. "It's not enough that we've had our salaries cut, they treat us like trash," she said. "I'm not an anarchist, I'm a taxpayer. Are they going to arrest me for demonstrating?"

A statement posted on the police's Web site on Wednesday night said that 12 people had been detained and that 15 officers had been injured. The statement did not give an overall figure for injured demonstrators but confirmed reports on local news Web sites that a 30-year-old man had suffered serious head injuries during the skirmishes.

The labor unions that organized Wednesday's strike want the government to revoke wage cuts and tax increases. They are particularly opposed to a privatization plan to raise up to $71.3 billion by 2015 through the sale of state utilities and venues built for the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.

Ordinary Greeks seem less outraged, despite the indignant slogans at rallies. By early afternoon the crowds in central Athens had thinned, and tourists were photographing the riot police stationed in front of Parliament.

Niki Kitsantonis reported from Athens, and Suzanne Daley from New York.


23) A Year After Israeli Raid, 2nd Flotilla to Set Sail for Gaza
May 11, 2011

Riding the ripples of the Golden Horn, the Mavi Marmara tugs at its moorings in the shipyard where it is being readied to head back into troubled waters.

A flotilla of 15 ships carrying humanitarian aid and activists from 100 countries will sail for Gaza next month, in a second attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory, organizers announced this week.

Almost a year ago, Israeli naval commandos stormed a previous flotilla sailing to Gaza, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists on the Mavi Marmara, one of six ships in the fleet. The plan to send a new flotilla to Gaza raises the specter of a fresh confrontation between Turkey and Israel.

"Freedom Flotilla II will leave during the third week of June, with ships departing from various European ports," a coalition of 22 nongovernmental organizations said after a meeting in Paris on Monday.

The Mavi Marmara, which was released by Israel in July, was towed back to Turkey and arrived in Istanbul to a hero's welcome in December, after which it was taken in for repairs.

Now tied up under the Istanbul skyline for some last preparations, the ship should be seaworthy again by the end of the month, its owners said.

"The Mavi Marmara has become a symbol for the Gaza cause in the whole world," Gulden Sonmez of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, the Turkish nongovernmental organization that owns the ship, said in an interview this week. "So we are planning to set forth again with the same ship."

At dawn on May 31 last year, Ms. Sonmez stood on the observation deck of the Mavi Marmara, shouting orders as Israeli helicopters hovered overhead and commandos boarded the ship. Her colleague Cevdet Kiliclar, who managed the relief foundation's Web site, was shot and killed while taking photographs "just three or four steps away from me," she recounted.

Now Ms. Sonmez, who is on the board of the foundation, plans to embark on the Mavi Marmara once again and will be one of 150 activists making the trip.

Within 48 hours of application forms being posted on the foundation's Web site last week, some 2,000 people had volunteered to partake in the journey, she said.

Although Israel has warned that it will continue to enforce its Gaza blockade, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation does not expect another raid on its ship, Ms. Sonmez said.

"I don't think Israel will make the same mistake again," she said. "I think Israel knows that it has isolated itself."

Not everyone agrees with her.

"If the ship sails, it will be a disaster," said Osman Bahadir Dincer, a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs at the International Strategic Research Organization in Ankara. "In this atmosphere in the Middle East, we do not need a provocation," Mr. Dincer said by telephone this week. "This would absolutely be a provocation."

Relations between Turkey and Israel have not yet recovered from the crisis over the last flotilla. "We are waiting for our basic demands to be met, an apology and compensation," a senior Turkish official, who asked not to be identified, said this week.

"Since Turkey and Israel are not at war, the Israeli Defense Forces killed innocent civilian citizens of a friendly country."

A report by the U.N. Human Rights Council found that Israeli interception of the ship on the high seas was "clearly unlawful" and that its treatment of passengers "constituted a grave violation of human rights law and international humanitarian law."

But the report, published in September, also noted "a certain tension between the political objectives of the flotilla and its humanitarian objectives," finding that the primary motive of the nongovernmental organizations was political.

"We hope to be able to put this behind us and we have the will to do so," the senior Turkish official said. "But Israel should move forward as well."

"Turkey would like to preserve its relations with Israel and once our expectations are met, we will start normalizing our relations," he said.

For the moment, however, there is little prospect of this, said Mr. Dincer, the Middle East expert. Elections on June 12 prevent Turkey from taking a step forward, while Israel has been hampered by its volatile government coalition, Mr. Dincer added. "Both sides cannot go forward," he said.

The flotilla crisis last year followed a series of conflicts that had soured relations between the two countries.

Turkey and Israel had long prided themselves for being the only Western-style democracies in the Middle East. But ties began to unravel after the Israeli intervention in Gaza, when the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stormed off the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2009 after an angry exchange with the Israeli president, Shimon Peres. A year later, another quarrel erupted when an Israeli official humiliated the Turkish ambassador by seating him on a lower chair and dressing him down in front of TV cameras.

These incidents are the symptoms, not the cause, of fundamental changes in the relationship between the two countries and within Turkey itself, Mr. Dincer said. "Turkey is no longer the country it was in the 1990s or the 2000s," when relations with Israel were based on "elite relations" between the military and political leaderships, Mr. Dincer said.

"Turkey is more democratic now, and society plays a much more important role in Turkish politics," he said, arguing that it was no longer possible to maintain bilateral relations from the top down. "Instead, we must build relations between the two societies, involving civil society and the media and nongovernmental organizations."

Meanwhile, the Mavi Marmara must not sail, Mr. Dincer warned.

"They have to be stopped, somehow, by someone," he said about the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, asking that the group consider Turkish national interests. Another attack at sea would fuel attempts to "isolate Turkey from the West," Mr. Dincer argued.

The Turkish government, while at pains to distance itself from the flotilla, has made it clear that it will not intervene to bar the convoy from sailing.

Israeli allegations that Turkey is behind the flotilla do not reflect the truth, the senior Turkish official said. But in a free society, he added, nongovernmental organizations can do as they like, within legal limits.

"We believe that such initiatives as this convoy will cease only when Israel's unlawful blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted, as the situation in Gaza disturbs the conscience of all humanity," the official said. "It doesn't seem possible for Israel to reach lasting security as long as the unlawful blockade remains in place."

Turkey has warned Israel not to attack the ship again, the official said. "Last year, we had notified Israel a multitude of times that it should avoid by all means resorting to force, and act responsibly," he said. "We are reiterating these warnings once again today."


24) In America Being Poor is a Criminal Offense
By: Rania Khalek
Friday May 13, 2011 9:50 pm

It takes a special kind of bully to target the most vulnerable and neediest families in society, which millionaire politicians like to argue are draining America's treasury. I am referring to Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), who recently introduced a bill that would require states to implement drug testing of applicants for and recipients of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This is reminiscent of Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) failed legislation last summer to drug test the unemployed and those receiving other forms of government cash assistance, which ultimately died in the Senate. So far, Boustany's proposal is following the same fate as Hatch's, but around the country states are taking matters into their own hands.

In at least 30 state Legislatures across America, predominately wealthy politicians are quite impressed with themselves for considering bills that would limit the meager amount of state help given to needy families struggling to make ends meet. Many have proposed drug testing with some even extending it to recipients of other public benefits as well, such as unemployment insurance, medical assistance, and food assistance, in an attempt to add more obstacles to families' access to desperately needed aid.

Florida's Legislature has passed a bill that will require welfare applicants to take drug tests before they can receive state aid. Once signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, which is likely, all adult recipients of federal cash benefits will be required to pay for the drug tests, which are typically around $35. In Maine, Republican lawmakers introduced two proposals that would impose mandatory drug testing on Maine residents who are enrolled in MaineCare, the state's Medicaid program for low-income and disabled residents. Under a similar bill that passed both the House and Senate in Missouri, recipients found to be on drugs will still be eligible for benefits only if they enter drug treatment programs, though the state wouldn't pick up the tab for their recovery.

In Massachusetts -where about 450,000 households receive cash or food assistance - a bill introduced by state Rep. Daniel B. Winslow (R-Norfolk) would set up a program requiring those seeking benefits to disclose credit limits and assets such as homes and boats, as well as the kind of car they drive. His reasoning is "If you have two cars and a snowmobile, then you aren't poor. If we do this, we will be able to preserve our limited resources for those who are truly in need and weed out fraud, because we know there's fraud and we're not looking for it." State Rep. Daniel K. Webster (R-Pembroke) filed a budget amendment requiring the state to verify immigration status of those seeking public benefits. Webster made it clear that his proposal does not mean he dislikes poor people or immigrants, but "this is all unsustainable and the system is being abused."

This is rather shocking because I can't recall any Republicans or Democrats demanding that the CEO of Bank of America or JP Morgan disclose inventory of their vacation homes, private jets, and yachts before bailing them out in what amounts to corporate welfare. Nor did they insist that these CEOs submit to alcohol and drug screenings before receiving taxpayer money. No objections were made regarding the immigration status of the people running these companies or whether they happen to employ undocumented workers for cheap labor.

Some would argue that corporations are different, in that they create jobs. To that I will point out that corporations are making record profits, even as they layoff workers and pay next to nothing in Federal income taxes. And this doesn't even begin to scratch at the surface of corporate abuse by the very entities that are soaked in taxpayer money. Just contrast these proposals with the way the rich are treated in this country with billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks.

This is simply an extension of a conversation that began in 1996, when President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich passed bipartisan welfare reform, whose results have been tragic to say the least. The 1996 Welfare Reform Act authorized, but did not require, states to impose mandatory drug testing as a prerequisite to receiving state welfare assistance. Back then, unproven allegations of criminal behavior and drug abuse among welfare recipients were the rationales cited by those in support of the bill's many punitive measures that were infused with race, class, and gender bias.

The majority of the proposals for drug testing require no suspicion of drug use whatsoever. Instead they rest on the assumption that the poor are inherently inclined to immoral and illegal behavior, and therefore unworthy of privacy rights as guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment. These proposals simply reaffirm the longstanding concept of the poor as intrinsically prone to and deserving of their predicament. Jordan C. Budd, in his superb analysis Pledge Your Body for Your Bread: Welfare, Drug Testing, and the Inferior Fourth Amendment, demonstrates how the drug testing of welfare recipients is part of what's called a "poverty exception" to the Constitution, particularly the Fourth Amendment, a bias that renders much of the Constitution irrelevant at best, and hostile at worst, to the American poor.

Kaaryn Gustafson extensively documents the trend toward the criminalization of poverty. She demonstrates how, in her words "welfare applicants are treated as presumptive liars, cheaters, and thieves," which is "rooted in the notion that the poor are latent criminals and that anyone who is not part of the paid labor force is looking for a free handout." I would argue that given the disdain that has been shown for "entitlements" over the years, it won't be long before this treatment extends to Social Security, Medicare, and even Financial Aid recipients.

The notion that the poor are more prone to drug use has no basis in reality. Research shows that substance use is no more prevalent among people on welfare than it is among the working population, and is not a reliable indicator of an individual's ability to secure employment. Furthermore, imposing additional sanctions on welfare recipients will disproportionately harm children, since welfare sanctions and benefit decreases have been shown to increase the risk that children will be hospitalized and face food insecurity. In addition, analysis shows that drug testing would be immensely more expensive than the acquired savings in reduced benefits for addicts

With regard to welfare legislation, it's beneficial to highlight where on the class ladder members of Congress stand. According to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics released late last year, nearly half of the members in congress - 261 - were millionaires, compared to about 1 percent of Americans. The study also pointed out that 55 of these congressional millionaires had an average calculated wealth in 2009 of $10 million dollars and up, with eight in the $100 million-plus range. A more recent study released in March, found that 60 percent of Senate freshman and more than 40 percent of House freshmen of the 112th congress are millionaires.

Why is this so important? Because very few of our lawmakers understand what it's like to struggle financially. Millionaires can generally afford healthcare without grappling with unemployment, foreclosure, or an empty refrigerator. The majority of our representatives haven't a clue what the daily lives of the people they represent are like, let alone the constant struggle of single mothers living below the poverty line. They are constantly arguing that we all must sacrifice with our pensions, our wages, our education, the security of our communities, and with the belly's of our children, while they sit atop heavily guarded piles of money.

With the ranks of the underclass growing and the unemployment level at a staggering 9%, it's more clear than ever that the wealth divide between "we the people" and our representatives has caused a dangerous disconnect. State and federal legislators claim to be acting fiscally responsible, but they support budgets that create unimaginably difficult circumstances for the lives of the most vulnerable people, especially children. There is no question that these newest proposals amount to class warfare, and the longer we ignore it, the more it will spread.


25) Supporter of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning sues government over laptop seizure
The Boston Globe
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
May 13, 2011 03:29 PM

The co-founder of a group supporting an Army private accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks filed a federal lawsuit today accusing the Department of Homeland Security of violating his civil rights by seizing his laptop without a warrant when he passed through security at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

David House, 24, a former MIT researcher from Cambridge, alleges in the suit filed in US District Court in Boston that federal agents seized his laptop, USB storage device, video camera, and cellphone when he arrived at the airport on Nov. 3 after a vacation in Mexico, then kept him from catching a connecting flight to Boston while they interrogated him about his association with Private First Class Bradley Manning.

The suit, filed on House's behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, says House "was asked no questions relating to border control, customs, trade, immigration, or terrorism,'' yet agents kept his laptop, USB device, and camera for 49 days while they reviewed personal and private information as part of an investigation into his work for the Bradley Manning Support Network. The electronics were returned to him Dec. 22, a day after the ACLU faxed a letter to government officials demanding their immediate return.

"If the government had legitimate reason for wanting to seize my laptop ... they could obtain a warrant,'' House said during a telephone interview. "Instead they wait for me to cross the border so they can claim this nebulous authority.''

He accused the government of launching a "fishing expedition'' in an effort to find out who was supporting Manning and said it has had a chilling impact on his group's legal efforts to raise money for Manning because supporters fear they will also be targeted by the government. Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, has been imprisoned by the military for a year on charges of leaking classified information about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that were posted on WilkiLeaks

Matthew Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, declined to comment on the suit, saying, "As a matter of policy, we do not comment on pending litigation."

Federal agents routinely search laptops of travelers entering and leaving the country at airports and other border crossings. The government maintains it's the same as searching suitcases and is done to protect national security.

The suit alleges that House was targeted by the government solely because of his association with the Bradley Manning Support Network, which raises funds for Manning's legal defense.

"Targeting people for searches and seizures based on their lawful associations is unconstitutional,'' said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts.

The suit alleges that the government violated House's First Amendment right to freedom of association and Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. It seeks the return or destruction of any of House's personal data that is still being held by the government and urges the court to order the Department of Homeland Security to disclose whether it has shared the information with other agencies.


26) Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care
May 13, 2011

The nation's major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.

The UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest commercial insurers, told analysts that so far this year, insured hospital stays actually decreased in some instances. In reporting its earnings last week, Cigna, another insurer, talked about the "low level" of medical use.

Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.

Even with a halting economic recovery, doctors and others say many people are still extremely budget-conscious, signaling the possibility of a fundamental change in Americans' appetite for health care.

"I am noticing my patients with insurance are more interested in costs," said Dr. Jim King, a family practice physician in rural Tennessee. "Gas prices are going up, food prices are going up. They are deciding to put some of their health care off." A patient might decide not to drive the 50 miles necessary to see a specialist because of the cost of gas, he said.

But Dr. King said patients were also being more thoughtful about their needs. Fewer are asking for an MRI as soon as they have a bad headache. "People are realizing that this is my money, even if I'm not writing a check," he said.

For someone like Shannon Hardin of California, whose hours at a grocery store have been erratic, there is simply no spare cash to see the doctor when she isn't feeling well or to get the $350 dental crowns she has been putting off since last year. Even with insurance, she said, "I can't afford to use it." Delaying care could keep utilization rates for insurers low through the rest of the year, according to Charles Boorady, an analyst for Credit Suisse. "The big question is whether it is going to stay weak or bounce back," he said. "Nobody knows."

Significant increases in how much people have to pay for their medical care may prevent a solid rebound. In recent years, many employers have sharply reduced benefits, while raising deductibles and co-payments so people have to reach deeper into their pockets.

In 2010, about 10 percent of people covered by their employer had a deductible of at least $2,000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research group, compared with just 5 percent of covered workers in 2008.

Doctors, for one, say patients' attitudes are changing. "Because it's from Dollar 1 to Dollar 2,000, they are being really conscious of how they spend their money," said Dr. James Applegate, a family physician in Grand Rapids, Mich. For example, patients question the need for annual blood work.

High deductibles also can be daunting. David Welch, a nurse in California whose policy has a $4,000 deductible, said he was surprised to realize he had delayed going to the dermatologist, even though he had a history of skin cancer. Mr. Welch, who has been a supporter of the need to overhaul insurance industry practices for the California Nurses Association union, said he hoped his medical training would help him determine when to go to the doctor. "I underestimated how much that cost would affect my behavior," he said.

Dr. Rebecca Jaffe, a family practice doctor in Wilmington, Del., said more patients were asking for the generic alternatives to brand-name medicines, because of hefty co-payments. "Now, all of a sudden, they want the generic, when for years, they said they couldn't take it," she said.

The insurers, which base what they charge in premiums largely on what they expect to pay out in future claims, say they still expect higher demand for care later this year. "I think there's a real concern about a bounce-back, a rebound, in utilization," said Dr. Lonny Reisman, the chief medical officer for Aetna.

Because they say they expect costs to rebound, insurers have not been shy about asking for higher rates. In Oregon, for example, Regence BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit insurer that is the state's largest, is asking for a 22 percent increase for policies sold to individuals. In California, regulators have been resisting requests from insurers to raise rates by double digits.

Some observers wonder if the insurers are simply raising premiums in advance of the full force of the health care law in 2014. The insurers' recent prosperity - big insurance companies have reported first-quarter earnings that beat analysts expectations by an average of 30 percent - may make it difficult for anyone, politicians and industry executives alike, to argue that the industry has been hurt by the federal health care law. Insurers were able to raise premiums to cover the cost of the law's early provisions, like insuring adult children up to age 26, and federal and state regulators have largely proved to be accommodating.

But 2014 and 2015 are likely to be far more challenging, as insurers are forced to adjust to the law's greatest changes, like providing coverage to everyone regardless of whether they have an expensive pre-existing condition. "I think they're going to go through a winter," said Paul H. Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a research unit of the consulting firm Deloitte.

And while the slowing down of demand is good for insurers, at least in the short term, the concern is that patients may be tempted to skip important tests like colonoscopies or mammograms. The new health care law will eventually prevent most policies from charging patients for certain kinds of preventive care, but some plans still require someone to pay $500 toward a colonoscopy.

In recent times, insurers have prospered by pricing policies above costs, said Robert Laszewski, a former health insurance executive who is now a consultant in Alexandria, Va. The industry goes through underwriting cycles where the companies are better able to predict costs and make room for profits. "They're benefiting from a very positive underwriting cycle," he said.

"Maybe managed care is finally working," he said. "Maybe this is the new normal."

Still, he emphasized, health care costs, even if they are rising at 6 percent or 7 percent a year, are increasing at a much faster pace than overall inflation. "We haven't solved the problem," Mr. Laszewski said.


27) Japanese Worker's Death Not Linked to Radiation
May 14, 2011

TOKYO - A worker at Japan's crippled nuclear plant died Saturday of causes that appeared to be unrelated to radiation, the plant's operator said.

The operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, said the contract worker, who was in his 60s, died after carrying heavy equipment in a waste disposal building of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The company said that he was wearing radiation-protection clothing and a mask when he collapsed, and that his body did not show high levels of radioactive contamination.

Japanese news media reports later quoted a doctor at the plant as saying the man had apparently suffered a heart attack. The death is the first by one of the workers struggling to bring the Fukushima Daiichi plant under control since it lost power and cooling functions after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The waste disposal building has been used to store radiation-contaminated runoff taken from the plant's damaged reactor buildings. The runoff was created by efforts to cool the reactors by pouring tons of water on them, but it now obstructs efforts by workers to repair cooling systems.

Tons of contaminated water remain in the reactor buildings. On Saturday, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that it had found more than 12 feet of water in the basement of Reactor No. 1.

Another power company announced on Saturday that it had completed the shutdown of a nuclear plant elsewhere in Japan, honoring a request by the prime minister to suspend operations at the plant for safety reasons.

The company, Chubu Electric Power, said it had halted operations of the last active reactor at the Hamaoka plant, which many in Japan consider the nation's most dangerous plant because it sits atop a major fault line. The plant is about 120 miles west of Tokyo, close enough that radioactive materials from a leak could reach the Japanese capital in less than a day.


28) Tension After Palestinian Boy's Death
May 14, 2011

JERUSALEM - Tensions were high in East Jerusalem on Saturday as hundreds of Palestinians buried a 17-year-old demonstrator and preparations were under way for rallies on Sunday to mark the founding of Israel 63 years ago, an event that Palestinians call the "nakba," Arabic for catastrophe.

The dead teenager, Milad Ayyash, was shot in the stomach on Friday during stone-throwing demonstrations in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and died in the hospital on Saturday. A police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said police officers had not used live fire and were investigating the cause of his death.

Witnesses said the gunshot came from inside Beit Yonatan, a Jewish-owned building in Silwan, either from a security guard or a resident. The teenager's family declined to allow a police autopsy, Mr. Rosenfeld said.

On Saturday, mourners carried the boy's body through East Jerusalem. When the procession passed Beit Yonatan, they threw rocks at the building. The police arrested four people and used stun grenades, causing several light injuries. The burial took place without further disturbance.

The police presence is expected to be heavy across Israel on Sunday, the 63rd anniversary of independence. "Obviously what happened yesterday and today will influence how we deploy tomorrow," Mr. Rosenfeld said.

After Israel declared independence on May 15, 1948, armies from neighboring Arab states attacked the new nation; during the war that followed, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes by Israeli forces. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were also destroyed. The refugees and their descendants remain a central issue of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to the Hebrew calendar, Israel celebrated its independence last Tuesday.


29) For Second Time in 3 Days, Afghan Child Killed by NATO
May 14, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan - For the second time in three days, a night raid in eastern Afghanistan by NATO forces resulted in the death of a child, setting off protests on Saturday that turned violent and ended in the death of a second boy.

A NATO spokesman apologized for the child's death, which took place early Saturday in western Nangahar Province in the Hesarek District, a remote poppy-growing area close to Kabul Province and Logar Province. There has been almost no NATO presence there throughout the war, and the area is thought to be heavily penetrated by the Taliban.

The district governor, Abdul Khalid, said he had feared a Taliban attack on the government center and had called for help from local Afghan security forces. At the same time, there was a raid, he said. "American forces did an operation and mistakenly killed a fourth grade student; he had gone to sleep in his field and had a shotgun next to him," he said.

"People keep shotguns with them for hunting, not for any other purposes," Mr. Khalid said.

The boy was the son of an Afghan National Army soldier, according to Noor Alam, the headmaster of the school the student attended. Although the boy was 15, like many rural Afghans, he was in a lower grade because he had not been able to go to school regularly, local residents said.

When morning came, an angry crowd gathered in Narra, the boy's village, and more than 200 people marched with his body to the district center. Some of the men were armed and confronted the police, shouting anti-American slogans and throwing rocks at police vehicles and the Hesarek government center, according to the district governor and the headmaster.

The police opened fire in an effort to push back the crowd to stop its advance to the district center. A 14-year-old boy was killed, and at least one other person was wounded, Mr. Khalid said.

"The police had to defend themselves; therefore, they fired some warning shots," he said.

On Thursday, a night raid by international forces in Nangahar Province resulted in the death of a 12-year-old girl and her uncle, who was a member of the Afghan National Police.

Elsewhere in eastern Afghanistan, there was a car bombing directed at a joint Afghan and coalition patrol on Saturday. The explosion, in Yaqoubi District, injured eight civilians, including six children, according to Faisal Mohammed, a doctor in the public health hospital in Khost City.


30) Connecticut Unions Agree to $1.6 Billion in Givebacks
May 13, 2011

HARTFORD - Threatened with nearly 5,000 layoffs, representatives for 45,000 unionized state employees agreed Friday to $1.6 billion in concessions over two years to help balance a budget that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says includes pain for everyone: record tax increases, substantial program cuts and worker givebacks in health care, pension benefits and wages.

Mr. Malloy announced the deal after two months of negotiations and the passage of a budget last week that assumed concessions before they were accepted by the unions. He said the deal, which is still subject to ratification by workers, would save Connecticut taxpayers $21.5 billion over 20 years through structural changes in employee compensation.

The governor, a Democrat who won election in November with strong union support, has carved out a national niche as a politician seeking an approach to state governance different from the confrontational stances taken by Republican counterparts like Chris Christie in New Jersey and Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Despite layoff notices that started going out this week, Mr. Malloy and labor leaders maintained a cordial public tone throughout the bargaining.

Mr. Malloy hailed the deal as "historic because of the way we achieved it - we respected the collective-bargaining process and we respected each other, negotiating in good faith, without fireworks and without anger." He also called the deal "the most significant agreement with state employees in Connecticut history" for its long-term approach.

Republicans were far less impressed; the party's chairman, Chris Healy, called the agreement a "budget charade," with insufficient work force cuts because of Mr. Malloy's close ties to employee unions.

The agreement includes a provision that no unionized employees will be laid off for four years and a two-year freeze on wages for all employees. Mr. Malloy said he nevertheless planned to reduce the size of the government through attrition and the elimination of managerial positions.

The concessions fall $400 million short of the $2 billion Mr. Malloy sought, a difference that will be made up with more spending cuts and revenues that are higher than had been anticipated.

But no further details are being released as negotiators take the agreement to 34 bargaining units at 15 unions; it needs 14 of those unions and 80 percent of the voting members to approve it. Union officials said they would send details to members immediately, and planned to make them public at the beginning of next week.

Larry Dorman, a spokesman for the unions, said it was hard to predict how members would react, but the deal should be evaluated in terms of contentious anti-union sentiments and turmoil in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere. "I hate to say if it's good or bad," he said, "but we stand behind it and think it's the right thing to do in these difficult times."

Republicans said it was impossible to assess the package fully without more specifics, but said the amicable dealings between Mr. Malloy and union leaders were not necessarily a good sign.

"A lot of people have asked where's the outrage, the kind of outrage you saw in Wisconsin and around the country where various governors, especially Republican governors, have wanted to make changes," the House Republican leader, Larry Cafero, said.

Mr. Cafero said the $40.1 billion, two-year budget approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature relied too much on tax increases and not enough on reducing the size of government. The promise of no layoffs, he said, would leave the state in a precarious position if the economy again plummeted.

State officials said the agreement did not contain any furlough days or reductions in hours for permanent employees. Other details were scarce, but The Hartford Courant reported that provisions include wage increases of 3 percent for each of three years after the two-year freeze, and a rise in the retirement age by three years for state employees who retire after 2017.

Mr. Malloy said, "This is the definition of structural savings: these savings are real, and they provide relief to Connecticut taxpayers now and into the future for years to come."

In an antitax era, the new budget depends in large part on almost $1.5 billion in increased taxes on personal income, corporations and an array of purchases and services, from yachts to inexpensive clothing, to plug a deficit once estimated between $3.2 billion and $3.5 billion.

And while the confrontational approach has made Governor Christie of New Jersey a hot property, there is no early indication that what Mr. Malloy calls "shared sacrifice" is working as well for him. A Quinnipiac University poll in March put his approval rating at 35 percent.

The Republican Senate leader, John McKinney, said that in addition to the no-layoff provision, he was concerned with how long the clauses on pensions and health benefits would last: through 2022. He said that committed future legislators to a deal that might no longer make sense.

And Mr. Cafero said the shared sacrifice was mostly borne by taxpayers. "We're not spending less on government next year, and we've foisted on the public the largest tax increase in the history of the state," he said. "I don't call that balanced. He's defined sacrifice within the four corners of the budget and is saying everyone has to say ouch a little bit. Well, the taxpayers are saying ouch a lot."

Roy Occhiogrosso, a Malloy spokesman, disputed Republican claims and defended the agreement. "Taxpayers are saving $1.6 billion over the next two years, and there will be no layoffs," he said. "This is the most fiscally responsible budget in the country."