Saturday, June 25, 2011



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




March for Bradley Manning at SF Pride!

manning equlityAccused WikiLeaks whistle-blower, gay hero

Meet up Sunday, June 26 at 9:45 am
Jackson St. and Drumm St., San Francisco (map)

Dedicated to equality and human rights, Army PFC Bradley Manning (photo right) stood openly against "Don't Ask Don't Tell," and now he is imprisoned as the alleged Wikileaker.

All are invited to join us in support of activist Bradley Manning! Help us carry the banner (photo below) that we worked on this week, and please help spread the word and invite your friends! We'll be keeping banners and signs specific to the campaign to support and free Bradley Manning; however, representatives of other organizations are encouraged to wear their organization's t-shirts.

The Bradley Manning Pride Contingent will meet at the Starbucks on Jackson St. and Drumm St. at 9:45am, and then we'll move over to the Ferry Building area for our official starting place in the parade lineup.

Courage to Resist


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.
78441123=85207452099==/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.


Protest at Goldman Sachs
Monday, June 27, 12 Noon to 1pm
555 California St [at Kearny) , San Francisco

Litton Loans is moving to foreclose on the home of Ricardo Zarate and family, despite their efforts to modify the loan to a lower payment. Litton is owned by the powerful Goldman Sachs investment bank. GS profited by selling bundles of bad mortgages and then collecting huge profits by betting on the billions lost by the buyers!

Big and small banks have been using aggressive and illegal tactics to repossess thousands of homes just like the case of the Zarate family. Foreclosures hurt the family that's being forced out, and they have a devastating effect on the whole community! Join the protest to demand that Litton modify the mortgage instead of throwing still another family out of their home!

Goldman Sachs - tell your subsidiary Litton Loans to
Stop the Foreclosure!

Protest at Goldman Sachs
Monday, June 27, 12 Noon to 1pm
555 California St [at Kearny) , San Francisco

Join the protest and get involved in building a movement for a 2-year moratorium on home foreclosures, and a massive public jobs program to put the country back to work!

Simultaneous protests being held in Los Angeles , and in Houston at Goldman's Litton Loans offices. The San Francisco protest is at what used to be Bank of America headquarters, site of the famous "banker's heart" stone sculpture, and where Goldman Sachs is carrying on the same heartless tradition.

Sponsored by Bail Out the People Movement; S.F. Gray Panthers; Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shutoffs

Bail Out the People Movement, 2940 16th St, #207, San Francisco, CA 94103 415-738-4739


Cultures of Resistance
Thursday June 30 -- 7pm, Berkeley City College, 2050 Center Street, 1/2 block from downtown Berkeley
The Middle East Children's Alliance & the Arab Film Festival present the Berkeley premiere of bay area filmmaker & activist Iara Lee's new feature film Cultures of Resistance.

The film won Best Documentary at the Tiburon International Film Festival and is showing around the globe, from Portugal to China to Ethiopia. Journeying through five continents, it captures creative change-makers using art and activism to turn our upside-down world right-side-up, for peace with justice. Their personal stories and strategies, told in many tongues, broaden our understanding of the geopolitical fault-lines behind modern day conflicts -- inspiring audiences to further engagement and action. Filmmaker Iara Lee will introduce the film and answer questions afterwards.

Tickets $10 general, $8 students. Benefit for clean water for children in Gaza. No one turned away for lack of funds. Wheelchair accessible.

For info: 510-548-0542,,
Cosponsored by: Global Studies Department/Berkeley City College and more!


(Please post widely)

-- Introduction
-- Campaign to End the Death Penalty Solidarity Statement
-- CEDP Statement of Solidarity with Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers
-- Solidarity Statement from Corcoran State Prisoners
-- Take Action!


Prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of California's Pelican Bay state prison have announced that they will begin an indefinite hunger strike on July 1. Although prison officials aim to keep prisoners silenced and divided, the hunger strike has shown solidarity across racial, ethnic and religious lines and demands improvements in cruel and inhumane prison conditions.

In his statement "Why Prisoners are Protesting", prisoner Mutop DuGuya states, "Effective July 1st we are initiating a peaceful protest by way of an indefinite hunger strike in which we will not eat until our core demands are met.....we have decided to put our fate in our own hands. Some of us have already suffered a slow, agonizing death in which the state has shown no compassion toward these dying prisoners. Rather than compassion they turn up their ruthlessness. No one wants to die. Yet under this current system of what amounts to intense torture, what choice do we have? If one is to die, it will be on our own terms."

Prisons in this country stand as silent tombs. Millions are warehoused in "correctional" facilities that serve only to punish and dehumanize. These prisoners in Pelican Bay are standing bravely against tortuous conditions and those of us on the outside must stand with them and shine a light into the dark cages that politicians want us to forget.


The Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) stands in solidarity with the prisoners of Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) who will be engaged in a hunger strike on July 1 in protest of their deplorable conditions.

The prisoners at Pelican Bay prison in California live in a world in which collective punishment is common, sunlight is rare, and food is used as a tool of coercion. They live in a world that is so unlike the world that most of us take for granted that it strains our comprehension. The world of the prisoners has one goal, to create passive, compliant prisoners; prisoners who will not clamor for more; prisoners who will not rock the boat; prisoners who will not threaten to expose just how rotten the prison system is.

This world has failed. While these demands show us a world turned upside down, they also show us a prison population that is fighting back against their appalling conditions. The prisoners have stated that their hunger strike will be indefinite until their demands are met. This means they could face serious health issues or even death. For them, a fighting death is preferable to the hell they are living.

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty supports the Pelican Bay hunger strikers and stand with all prisoners who seek to better their lives. We stand in solidarity with these brave fighters in their quest for justice and humanity.

The demands of the prisoners clearly show the capricious and dehumanizing conditions in which they the prisoners are calling for:

1. Eliminate group punishments. Instead, practice individual accountability. When an individual prisoner breaks a rule, the prison often punishes a whole group of prisoners of the same race. This policy has been applied to keep prisoners in the SHU indefinitely and to make conditions increasingly harsh.

2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.
Debriefing produces false information - wrongly landing other prisoners in SHU, and can endanger the lives of debriefing prisoners and their families.

3. End long-term solitary confinement. Segregation should be used as a last resort and prisoners require access to adequate healthcare and natural sunlight.

4. Provide wholesome, nutritious meals and access to vitamins.

5. Expand and provide constructive programming such as photos of loved ones, weekly phone calls, extension of visitation time, calendars, and radios, etc.

You can read the prisoner's full text of their demands here:


Statement of Solidarity with the Pelican Bay Collective Hunger Strike on July 1st.
From: the N.C.T.T. Corcoran SHU

Greetings to all who support freedom, justice, and equality. We here of the N.C.T.T. SHU stand in solidarity with, and in full support of the July 1st hunger strike and the 5 major action points and sub-points as laid out by the Pelican Bay Collective in the Policy Statements (See, "Archives", P.B.S.P.-SHU-D corridor hunger strike).

What many are unaware of is that facility 4B here in Corcoran SHU is designated to house validated prisoners in indefinite SHU confinement and have an identical ultra-super max isolation unit short corridor modeled after corridor D in Pelican Bay, complete with blacked out windows a mirror tinted glass on the towers so no one but the gun tower can see in [into our cells], and none of us can see out; flaps welded to the base of the doors and sandbags on the tiers to prevent "fishing" [a means of passing notes, etc. between cells using lengths of string]; IGI [Institutional Gang Investigators] transports us all to A.C.H. [?] medical appointments and we have no contact with any prisoners or staff outside of this section here in 4B/1C C Section the "short corridor" of the Corcoran SHU. All of the deprivations (save access to sunlight); outlines in the 5-point hunger strike statement are mirrored, and in some instances intensified here in the Corcoran SHU 4B/1C C Section isolation gang unit.

Medical care here, in a facility allegedly designed to house chronic care and prisoners with psychological problems, is so woefully inadequate that it borders on intentional disdain for the health of prisoners, especially where diabetics and cancer are an issue. Access to the law library is denied for the most mundane reasons, or, most often, no reason at all. Yet these things and more are outlined in the P.B.S.P.-SHU five core demands.

What is of note here, and something that should concern all U.S. citizens, is the increasing use of behavioral control (torture units) and human experimental techniques against prisoners not only in California but across the nation. Indefinite confinement, sensory deprivation, withholding food, constant illumination, use of unsubstantiated lies from informants are the psychological billy clubs being used in these torture units. The purpose of this "treatment" is to stop prisoners from standing in opposition to inhumane prison conditions and prevent them from exercising their basic human rights.

Many lawsuits have been filed in opposition to the conditions in these conditions ... [unreadable] yet the courts have repeatedly re-interpreted and misinterpreted their own constitutional law ... [unreadable] to support the state's continued use of these torture units. When approved means of protest and redress of rights are prove meaningless and are fully exhausted, then the pursuit of those ends through other means is necessary.

It is important for all to know the Pelican Bay Collective is not (emphasis in original) alone in this struggle and the broader the participation and support for this hunger strike, the other such efforts, the greater the potential that our sacrifice now will mean a more humane world for us in the future. We urge all who reads these words to support us in this effort with your participation or your voices call your local news agencies, notify your friends on social networks, contact your legislators, tell your fellow faithful at church, mosques, temple or synagogues. Decades before Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs were described by Congressman Ralph Metcalfe as "the control unit treatment program is long-term punishment under the guise of what is, in fact, pseudo-scientific experimentation."

Our indefinite isolation here is both inhumane and illegal and the proponents of the prison industrial complex are hoping that their campaign to dehumanize us has succeeded to the degree that you don't care and will allow the torture to continue in your name. It is our belief that they have woefully underestimated the decency, principles, and humanity of the people. Join us in opposing this injustice without end. Thank you for your time and support.

In Solidarity,
N.C.T.T. Corcoran - SHU
4B/1C - C Section
Super-max isolation Unit


The Hunger Strikers need support from outside of prison bars. Here are a few things you can do:

Sign the Petition.

Get the word out about the hunger strike and the prisoner's demands to your family, friends, church, community groups, and over social networking sites.

Attend protests in solidarity. Rallies planned in San Francisco, Eureka, CA, Montreal, Toronto and New York. Send protest info to: to be listed!
Stay informed. Check the blog regularly for updates


Carlos Montes' Court Date is July 6. Call AG Holder that day!
(202) 514-2001

Support Carlos Montes!

National Call-in Day to
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Please call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
at (202) 514-2001

Suggested text: "My name is __________, I am from _______(city), in ______(state). I am calling to tell Attorney General Holder:

1. Drop the charges! Hands off Carlos Montes!
2. Stop the FBI raids and Grand Jury repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists.
3. Return all property to Carlos Montes and the other activists raided by the FBI.

On Wednesday, July 6, Carlos Montes will go to a Los Angeles court to face six felony charges and enter a plea. The charges all deal with firearms, ammunition and permits. Like millions of other Americans, Carlos has for years held legal permits for guns. The fact is that the charges against Carlos carry a total penalty of up to 18 years, and are aimed at his effective political organizing against war and for people's civil rights.

Carlos is a longtime Chicano activist known for his leadership during the 1968 L.A. high school reform walkouts (see HBO film "Walkout!") and the immigrants' rights mega-marches of 2006. More recently in September 2010, Carlos Montes' name appeared on the FBI search warrant left in the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis, where the protests against the 2008 Republican National Convention were centered. The attack on Carlos Montes is part of a sweeping campaign tied to 23 Midwest activists whose homes the FBI raided or who were subpoenaed to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's Grand Jury in Chicago, as the Washington Post reported.

In addition, when the LA Sheriffs broke down Carlos' door and ransacked his home, they took political documents, a computer, cell phones and meeting notes having nothing to do with the legal charges. Later, the FBI approached Carlos to ask him questions about the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the target of this new McCarthyism. Those who know the history of Martin Luther King Jr. and the American civil rights movement understand the repression Montes now faces.

When Carlos went to court on June 16, he demanded police and court documents. Not surprisingly, the District Attorney grew angry, at first refusing, and eventually relenting. There is the not-so-hidden hand of the FBI at work here and its goal is to disrupt and criminalize activists and movements for social justice.

Make no mistake: The U.S. government trial of Carlos Montes is an attack on the immigrants' rights and anti-war movements. So please call July 6 and let Attorney General Holder know we are building a movement that will not bow down to dirty tricks and political repression.

In addition, the Los Angeles Committee to Stop FBI Repression
is mobilizing to pack the courtroom at
8:30a.m. on July 6 when Carlos Montes appears at
Alhambra Courthouse,
150 W Common Wealth, Alhambra, CA 91801. See map.

We invite others to organize solidarity protests, events, or participate in the CSFR Call In Day on July 6, as you see fit.

Please sign the petition for Carlos on the International Action Center website.

Visit or write or call 612-379-3585.
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 55414


Sat. July 9, 12 noon
Protest at Powell and Market Sts., SF

Please bring your friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers to the San Francisco protest on Saturday July 9, 2011, to demand "Stop the Bombing of Libya!" There will be a joint action that day in Washington, D.C. in front of the White House.

Contrary to the absurd argument that the bombing of Libya does not constitute a "hostility," this is fierce and illegal war aimed at carrying out regime change in the country that possesses the largest oil reserves in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Tripoli on June 17 against the U.S./NATO bombing and the terrible toll it has taken on the people, economy and infrastructure of Libya. Of course, you didn't see any coverage of this huge demonstration in the corporate media. That massive outpouring of humanity undoubtedly included many people who have grievances against the current Libyan government. But the people of Tripoli, like people everywhere, stand together against bombing by foreign powers in pursuit of an imperial agenda. Libyans want peace and they must be free to determine their own destiny.

The people of the United States are adding their voice of opposition on Saturday, July 9 in San Francisco and at the White House. By a margin of 2-to-1, the American people oppose this illegal and criminal war. There is no such thing as a "humanitarian" cruise missile. The U.S. government is spending $10 million a day bombing Libya while it bombs Afghanistan and still occupies Iraq with 47,000 troops.

In the name of "protecting civilians" NATO is killing civilians-and describing them as "legitimate military targets."

On June 20, for instance, NATO and the Pentagon pummeled the birthday party of a four-year-old boy with heavy missiles. They killed 16 civilians, including the four-year-old and his mom, as well as other children and their parents. The four-year-old was the grandson of Khweldi el-Hamedi, an associate of Colonel Gaddafi who participated in the 1969 coup that overthrew the old monarchy.

NATO is killing the civilian family members of the Libyan government in an attempt to break the will of those they have targeted for destruction and overthrow. The Pentagon used the same type of tactic in the 1991 Iraq war.

At a time when the U.S. government says that it is broke and that tens of thousands of teachers and nurses and other workers are being fired because of the "budget crisis," there seems to be limitless funds for war, bombing, invasion and occupation.

Please join us Saturday, July 9!

Three ways that you can help:
1. Endorse.
2. Download the flyer or poster and help spread the word.
3. Make a donation.

Call 415-821-6545 or visit for more info or to volunteer.

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


Cuba Caravan Send Off Party!!
-come help send the Cuba Caravan to Cuba
Saturday, July 9, 2011
4pm- snacks and music
5pm- program
6pm- Tamale dinner and more music
Eastside Arts Alliance,C
2277 International, Oakland ( AC #1 or 1R )
Donation requested to help support the Caravan (no one turned away)

Video- "People to People" about the Caravan
Speakers- Including Graduate from the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, Cuba
Come learn about the Caravan and help send it to Cuba.

For More Info: 510-863-1737


Physicians for a National Health Program California is having our 2nd annual California Single-Payer Health Care Summer Conference at USC's Tutor Campus Center Ballroom on Saturday, July 16th, 2011 from 9am - 5pm.

Summer Conference 2011 is designed to teach attendees about just, guaranteed, comprehensive health care for ALL who live in California. We are gearing this conference toward professionals working in health, policy, advocacy, education, and organizing arenas.

This year's conference will feature Dr. Carmen Rita Nevarez, Immediate Past President, American Public Health Association as our keynote speaker, plus three Leadership Institutes that will help you develop your skills to build the movement through public speaking, coalition building or grassroots advocacy.

Ticket prices are on a sliding scale, and people who are "new to the movement" receive a discount.

For more information and to register, go to Please also download our flyer here. Please help us spread the word!
If your organization would like to sponsor this event, you can download our sponsorship form here.

Hope you can join us this summer in Los Angeles. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Molly Tavella, MPH
Shearer Student Fellow
Physicians for a National Health Program California
2344 6th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 665-8523 office
(408) 892-1255 mobile
(510) 665-6027 fax


Saturday, August 20 at 2:00pm
Location: In front of SF City Hall, Polk Street side, between Grove & McAllister

On the 34th Birthday of Idriss Stelley, Killed by SFPD on 6-12-01 at the Sony Metreon Complex,

The event is meant to launch a citywide police accountability and transparency COLLECTIVE comprised of socially mindful grassroots entities , social/racial Justice activists, and "progressive "city officials, as well as mayoral candidates, HOLD THEM TO THEIR PROMISES !

Performances, music, spoken word, and speakers.

If you would like to speak or perform,
please contact Jeremy Miller at 415-595-2894,,
or mesha Monge-Irizarry at 415-595-8251

Please join our facebook group at
Idriss Stelley Foundation !


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

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.


(Please forward widely)
Save the dates of October 6, 15 to protest wars; and May 15-22, 2012--Northern California UNAC will be discussing plans for solidarity actions around the Chicago G-8 here.

United National Antiwar Committee or UNAC at P.O. Box 123, Delmar, NY 12054


On June 22, the White House defied the majority of Americans who want an end to the war in Afghanistan. Instead of announcing the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops, contractors, bases, and war dollars, Obama committed to removing only one twentieth of the US forces on the ground in Afghanistan over the next eight months. Another 23,000 will supposedly be withdrawn just in time to influence the 2012 elections. Even if the President follows thru on this plan, nearly 170,000 US soldiers and contractors will remain in Afghanistan. All veterans and soldiers will be raising the question, "Who will be the last U.S. combatant to die in Afghanistan?"

In truth, the President's plan is not a plan to end the war in Afghanistan. It was, instead, an announcement that the U.S. was changing strategy. As the New York Times reported, the US will be replacing the "counterinsurgency strategy" adopted 18 months ago with the kind of campaign of drone attacks, assassinations, and covert actions that the US has employed in Pakistan.

At a meeting of the United National Antiwar Committee's National Coordinating Committee, held in NYC on June 18, representatives of 47 groups voted to endorse the nonviolent civil resistance activities beginning on October 6 in Washington, D.C. and to call for nationally coordinated local actions on October 15 to protest the tenth anniversary of the US war in Afghanistan. UNAC urges activists in as many cities as possible to hold marches, picket lines, teach-ins, and other events to say:

· Withdraw ALL US/NATO Military Forces, Contractors, and Bases out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya NOW!
· End drone attacks on defenseless populations in Pakistan and Yemen!
· End US Aid to Israel! Hands Off Iran!
· Bring Our War Dollars Home Now! Money for Jobs and Education, Not for War and Incarceration!

Note these dates of upcoming significant events:
· November 11-13 UNAC National Conference - a gathering of all movement activists to learn, share, plan future actions.
· May 15-22, 2012 International Protest Actions against war criminals attending NATO meeting and G-8 summit in Chicago.

Challenge the NATO War Makers in Chicago May 15-22, 2012
NATO and the G8 are coming to Chicago - so are we!

The White House has just announced that the U.S. will host a major international meeting of NATO, the US-commanded and financed 28-nation military alliance, in Chicago from May 15 to May 22, 2012. It was further announced that at the same time and place, there will be a summit of the G-8 world powers. The meetings are expected to draw heads of state, generals and countless others.

At a day-long meeting in New York City on Saturday, June 18, the United National Antiwar Committee's national coordinating committee of 69 participants, representing, 47 organizations, unanimously passed a resolution to call for action at the upcoming NATO meeting.

UNAC is determined to mount a massive united outpouring in Chicago during the NATO gathering to put forth demands opposing endless wars and calling for billions spent on war and destruction be spent instead on people's needs for jobs, health care, housing and education.


Whereas, the U.S. is the major and pre-eminent military, economic and political power behind NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and

Whereas, the U.S. will be hosting a major NATO gathering in the spring of 2012, and

Whereas, U.S. and NATO-allied forces are actively engaged in the monstrous wars, occupations and military attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, the Middle East and elsewhere,

Be it resolved that:

1) UNAC, in conjunction with a broad range of groups and organizations that share general agreement with the major demands adopted at our 2010 Albany, NY national conference, initiate a mass demonstration at the site of the NATO gathering, and

2) UNAC welcomes and encourages the participation of all groups interested in mobilizing against war and for social justice in planning a broad range of other NATO meeting protests including teach-ins, alternative conferences and activities organized on the basis of direct action/civil resistance, and

3) UNAC will seek to make the NATO conference the occasion for internationally coordinated protests, and

4) UNAC will convene a meeting of all of the above forces to discuss and prepare initial plans to begin work on this spring action.

Resolution passed unanimously by the National Coordinating Committee of UNAC on Saturday, June 18, 2011

click here to donate to UNAC:

Click here for the Facebook UNAC group.


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


Japanese Anti-Nuc Song Gone Viral

Kazuyoshi Saito On Ustream 2011/04/08
Song and Lyrics: Kazuyoshi Saito

"You have been telling a lie"

When we walk around this country,
we can find 54 Nuke power plants

My text book and CM always told me,
"It's SAFE"

You have been telling a lie,
then your excuse is just "UNEXPECTED"
I remember the clear sky,
but now, it turns black rain

You've been telling a lie,
it was exposed after all, I know
Yeah, it was a lie, "Nuke is completely safe"
You've been telling a lie,
I just wanna eat such a delicious spinach once again.

Yeah, it was a lie,
You should have noticed this ball game

We can't stop the contaminated wind anymore
Do you accept if you find it about how many people would be exposed by the radiation?
How do you think? I'm asking you, Jap Gov.

When you leave this town,
Could you find delicious water?
Tell me, whatever, there's no way to hide

They are all suck, Tepco, Hepco, Chuden and Kanden
We never dream a dream anymore
But they are all suck
They still keep going
They are truely suck
I wanna take action, how could I handle this feeling?

They are telling a lie....
We are all suck....


Flood Alert: Brownsville,NE Levee Breach- Cooper Nuclear Plant
Jun 20, 2011

Brownsville NE levee is breaching at Brownsville Bridge -
Brownsville is where the Cooper Nuclear Plant is located


Dr Helen Caldicott - Fukushima Nuclear Disaster- You won't hear this on the Main Stream News.


Choosing a Profession

An old country preacher had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession. Like many young Men his age, the boy didn't really know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned about it. One day, while the boy was away at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy's room and placed on his study table four objects...

1. A Bible.....?
2. A silver dollar.....?
3. A bottle of whisky......?
4. And a Playboy magazine.....?

'I'll just hide behind the door,' the old preacher said to himself. 'When he comes home from school today, I'll see which object he picks up.

If it's the Bible, he's going to be a preacher like me, and what a blessing that would be!

If he picks up the dollar, he's going to be a business man, and that would be okay, too.

But if he picks up the bottle, he's going to be a no-good drunken bum, and Lord, what a shame that would be.

And worst of all if he picks up that magazine he's going to be a
skirt-chasing womanizer.'

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's foot-steps as he entered the house whistling and headed for his room.

The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room he spotted the objects on the table..

With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them. Finally, he picked up the Bible and placed it under his arm. He picked up the silver dollar and dropped into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink, while he admired this month's centerfold.

'Lord have mercy,' the old preacher disgustedly whispered.
'He's gonna run for Congress.'


Stop Police Brutality: Justice for Eric Radcliff

22 year old Eric Radcliff was shot and killed by police officers from the 35th district on the morning of Saturday May 21st, 2011. According to witnesses he was unarmed. The incident took place on the 5800 Block of Mascher Street in the 5th and Olney Section.

1. Open An Investigation Into the May 21st Shooting Death of 22 year old Eric Radcliff by officers of the Philadelphia Police Department's 35th District.
2. End Police Brutality! Serve and Protect, Not Disrespect and Victimize!
3. LETS GET OUR HOUSE IN ORDER. Let's Unite for Real Security and To Build a Better Future for Ourselves

Please come Join in UNITY AND LOVE! God is Good, We ARE winning!
215-954-2272 for more information
VIA Justice for Eric Radcliff


Stop Police Brutality: Justice for Albert Pernell Jr.


*High Alert* - Fire -Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant near Omaha Nebraska- Flooding Missouri River
\Five O'Clock Shadow" with Robert Knight and Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds Associates

Fire knocks out spent fuel cooling pool at nuclear plant near Omaha - Operating under heightened alert level because of nearby flooding on Missouri River.

On June 6, 2011, the Fort Calhoun pressurized water nuclear reactor 20 miles north of Omaha, Nebraska entered emergency status due to imminent flooding from the Missouri River. A day later, there was an electrical fire requiring plant evacuation. Then, on June 8th, NRC event reports confirmed the fire resulted in the loss of cooling for the reactor's spent fuel pool.


Empty Chairs


Hot Particles From Japan to Seattle Virtually Undetectable when Inhaled or Swallowed

Original estimates of xenon and krypton releases remain the same, but a TEPCO recalculation shows dramatic increases in the release of hot particles. This confirms the results of air filter monitoring by independent scientists. Fairewinds' Arnie Gundersen explains how hot particles may react in mammals while escaping traditional detection. Reports of a metallic taste in the mouth, such as those now being reported in Japan and on the west coast, are a telltale sign of radiation exposure.


'Fukushima media cover-up - PR success, public health disaster'
June 11, 2011

Residents of the Fukushima district, and those who lived near-by have not only faced radiation exposure but also social exclusion... That's according to Dr. Robert Jacobs, Professor of nuclear history, at the Hiroshima Peace Institute.


QUEEN OF THE SUN: What Are the Bees Telling Us? is a profound, alternative look at the global bee crisis from Taggart Siegel, director of THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN. Taking us on a journey through the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive, this engaging and ultimately uplifting film weaves an unusual and dramatic story of the heartfelt struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers from around the world including Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva. Together they reveal both the problems and the solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature.
Official Film Website:


Autopsy Released in Police Shooting of Man Holding Nozzle
Douglas Zerby was shot 12 times, in the chest, arms and lower legs.
Watch Mary Beth McDade's report,0,2471345.story



I Wanna Be A Pirate


Detained for photography in Baltimore Parts 1 and 2:

Part 1:

Part 2:


Arrested for Filming Police in MD?


Woman 'detained' for filming police search launches high court challenge


Adam Kokesh body slammed, choked, police brutality at Jefferson Memorial


Kim Ives & Dan Coughlin on WikiLeaks Cables that Reveal "Secret History" of U.S. Bullying in Haiti


Operation Empire State Rebellion


20 Facts About U.S. Inequality that Everyone Should Know
Click an image to learn more about a fact!


ustogaza1's Channel


Licensed to Kill Video

Gundersen Gives Testimony to NRC ACRS from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.


Gundersen Gives Testimony to NRC ACRS

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) held a special ACRS meeting Thursday May 26, 2011 on the current status of Fukushima. Arnie Gundersen was invited to speak for 5 minutes concerning the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident as it pertains to the 23 Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors (BWR's) in the US and containment integrity. Mr. Gundersen was the first engineer to brief the NRC on the implication of Main Steam Isolation Valve (MSIV) Leakage in 1974, and he has been studying containment integrity since 1972. The NRC has constantly maintained in all of its calculations and reviews that there is zero probability of a containment leaking. For more than six years, in testimony and in correspondence with the NRC, Mr. Gundersen has disputed the NRC's stand that containment systems simply do not and cannot leak. The events at Fukushima have proven that Gundersen was correct. The explosions at Fukushima show that Mark 1 containments will lose their integrity and release huge amounts of radiation, as Mr. Gundersen has been telling the NRC for many years.


Guy on wheelchair taken down by officers


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


Tier Systems Cripple Middle Class Dreams for Young Workers


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.


Union Town by Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman



"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.


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


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 environment 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


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"


BP Oil Spill Scientist Bob Naman: Seafood Still Not Safe


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


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


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




Supporter of Leak Suspect Is Called Before Grand Jury
June 15, 2011

A supporter of Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, who is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, was called before a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday, but he said he declined to answer any questions. The supporter, David M. House, a freelance computer scientist, said he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, because he believes the Justice Department is "creating a climate of fear around WikiLeaks and the Bradley Manning support network." The grand jury inquiry is separate from the military prosecution of Private Manning and is believed to be exploring whether the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, or others in the group violated the law by acquiring and publishing military and State Department documents.


Justice for Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace: Decades of isolation in Louisiana state prisons must end
Take Action -- Sign Petition Here:

For nearly four decades, 64-year-old Albert Woodfox and 69-year-old Herman Wallace have been held in solitary confinement, mostly in the Louisiana State Penitentiary (known as Angola prison). Throughout their prolonged incarceration in Closed Cell Restriction (CCR) Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace have endured very restrictive conditions including 23 hour cellular confinement. They have limited access to books, newspapers and TV and throughout the years of imprisonment they have been deprived of opportunities for mental stimulation and access to work and education. Social interaction has been restricted to occasional visits from friends and family and limited telephone calls.

Louisiana prison authorities have over the course of 39 years failed to provide a meaningful review of the men's continued isolation as they continue to rubberstamp the original decision to confine the men in CCR. Decades of solitary confinement have had a clear psychological effect on the men. Lawyers report that they are both suffering from serious health problems caused or exacerbated by their years of close confinement.

After being held together in the same prison for nearly 40 years, the men are now held in seperate institutions where they continue to be subjected to conditions that can only be described as cruel, inhuman and degrading.
Take action now to demand that Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace be immediately removed from solitary confinement

Sign our petition which will be sent to the Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, calling on him to:

* take immediate steps to remove Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace from close confinement
* ensure that their treatment complies with the USA's obligations under international standards and the US Constitution.




Stop Coal Companies From Erasing Labor Union History


One year after Bradley's detainment, we need your support more than ever.

Dear Friends,

One year ago, on May 26, 2010, the U.S. government quietly arrested a humble young American intelligence analyst in Iraq and imprisoned him in a military camp in Kuwait. Over the coming weeks, the facts of the arrest and charges against this shy soldier would come to light. And across the world, people like you and I would step forward to help defend him.

Bradley Manning, now 23 years old, has never been to court but has already served a year in prison- including 10 months in conditions of confinement that were clear violation of the international conventions against torture. Bradley has been informally charged with releasing to the world documents that have revealed corruption by world leaders, widespread civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. forces, the true face of Guantanamo, an unvarnished view of the U.S.'s imperialistic foreign negotiations, and the murder of two employees of Reuters News Agency by American soldiers. These documents released by WikiLeaks have spurred democratic revolutions across the Arab world and have changed the face of journalism forever.

For his act of courage, Bradley Manning now faces life in prison-or even death.

But you can help save him-and we've already seen our collective power. Working together with concerned citizens around the world, the Bradley Manning Support Network has helped raise worldwide awareness about Manning's torturous confinement conditions. Through the collective actions of well over a half million people and scores of organizations, we successfully pressured the U.S. government to end the tortuous conditions of pre-trial confinement that Bradley was subjected to at the Marine Base at Quantico, Virginia. Today, Bradley is being treated humanely at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. T hanks to your support, Bradley is given leeway to interact with other pre-trial prisoners, read books, write letters, and even has a window in his cell.

Of course we didn't mount this campaign to just improve Bradley's conditions in jail. Our goal is to ensure that he can receive a fair and open trial. Our goal is to win Bradley's freedom so that he can be reunited with his family and fulfill his dream of going to college. Today, to commemorate Bradley's one year anniversary in prison, will you join me in making a donation to help support Bradley's defense?

We'll be facing incredible challenges in the coming months, and your tax-deductible donation today will help pay for Bradley's civilian legal counsel and the growing international grassroots campaign on his behalf. The U.S. government has already spent a year building its case against Bradley, and is now calling its witnesses to Virginia to testify before a grand jury.

What happens to Bradley may ripple through history - he is already considered by many to be the single most important person of his generation. Please show your commitment to Bradley and your support for whistle-blowers and the truth by making a donation today.

With your help, I hope we will come to remember May 26th as a day to commemorate all those who risk their lives and freedom to promote informed democracy - and as the birth of a movement that successfully defended one courageous whistle-blower against the full fury of the U.S. government.

Donate now:

In solidarity,

Jeff Paterson and Loraine Reitman,
On behalf of the Bradley Manning Support Network Steering Committee

P.S. After you have donated, please help us by forwarding this email to your closest friends. Ask them to stand with you to support Bradley Manning, and the rights of all whistleblowers.

View the new 90 second "I am Bradley Manning" video:

I am Bradley Manning

Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave. #41
Oakland, CA 94610


Drop the Charges Against Carlos Montes, Stop the FBI Attack on the Chicano and Immigrant Rights Movement, and Stop FBI Repression of Anti-War Activists NOW!Call Off the Expanding Grand Jury Witchhunt and FBI Repression of Anti-War Activists NOW!

Cancel the Subpoenas! Cancel the Grand Juries!
Condemn the FBI Raids and Harassment of Chicano, Immigrant Rights, Anti-War and International Solidarity Activists!

Initiated by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Contact the Committee to Stop FBI Repression


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


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!

Take Action! Tweet for Troy!

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


Exonerated Death Row Survivors Urge Georgia to:
Stop the Execution of Troy Davis
Chairman James E. Donald
Georgia State Board of Pardons & Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334
May 1, 2011

Dear Chairperson Donald and Members of the Board:

We, the undersigned, are alive today because some individual or small group of individuals decided that our insistent and persistent proclamations of innocence warranted one more look before we were sent to our death by execution. We are among the 138 individuals who have been legally exonerated and released from death rows in the United States since 1973. We are alive because a few thoughtful persons-attorneys, journalists, judges, jurists, etc.-had lingering doubts about our cases that caused them to say "stop" at a critical moment and halt the march to the execution chamber. When our innocence was ultimately revealed, when our lives were saved, and when our freedom was won, we thanked God and those individuals of conscience who took actions that allowed the truth to eventually come to light.

We are America's exonerated death row survivors. We are living proof that a system operated by human beings is capable of making an irreversible mistake. And while we have had our wrongful convictions overturned and have been freed from death row, we know that we are extremely fortunate to have been able to establish our innocence. We also know that many innocent people who have been executed or who face execution have not been so fortunate. Not all those with innocence claims have had access to the kinds of physical evidence, like DNA, that our courts accept as most reliable. However, we strongly believe that the examples of our cases are reason enough for those with power over life and death to choose life. We also believe that those in authority have a unique moral consideration when encountering individuals with cases where doubt still lingers about innocence or guilt.

One such case is the case of Troy Anthony Davis, whose 1991 conviction for killing Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail rested almost solely on witness testimony. We know that today, 20 years later, witness evidence is considered much less reliable than it was then. This has meant that, even though most of the witnesses who testified against him have now recanted, Troy Davis has been unable to convince the courts to overturn his conviction, or even his death sentence.

Troy Davis has been able to raise serious doubts about his guilt, however. Several witnesses testified at the evidentiary hearing last summer that they had been coerced by police into making false statements against Troy Davis. This courtroom testimony reinforced previous statements in sworn affidavits. Also at this hearing, one witness testified for the first time that he saw an alternative suspect, and not Troy Davis, commit the crime. We don't know if Troy Davis is in fact innocent, but, as people who were wrongfully sentenced to death (and in some cases scheduled for execution), we believe it is vitally important that no execution go forward when there are doubts about guilt. It is absolutely essential to ensuring that the innocent are not executed.

When you issued a temporary stay for Troy Davis in 2007, you stated that the Board "will not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused." This standard is a welcome development, and we urge you to apply it again now. Doubts persist in the case of Troy Davis, and commuting his sentence will reassure the people of Georgia that you will never permit an innocent person to be put to death in their name.

Freddie Lee Pitts, an exonerated death row survivor who faced execution by the state of Florida for a crime he didn't commit, once said, "You can release an innocent man from prison, but you can't release him from the grave."

Thank you for considering our request.

Kirk Bloodsworth, Exonerated and freed from death row Maryland; Clarence Brandley, Exonerated and freed from death row in Texas; Dan Bright, Exonerated and freed from death row in Louisiana; Albert Burrell, Exonerated and freed from death row in Louisiana; Perry Cobb, Exonerated and freed from death row in Illinois; Gary Drinkard, Exonerated and freed from death row in Alabama; Nathson Fields, Exonerated and freed from death row in Illinois; Gary Gauger, Exonerated and freed from death row in Illinois; Michael Graham, Exonerated and freed from death row in Louisiana; Shujaa Graham, Exonerated and freed from death row in California; Paul House, Exonerated and freed from death row in Tennessee; Derrick Jamison, Exonerated and freed from death row in Ohio; Dale Johnston, Exonerated and freed from death row in Ohio; Ron Keine, Exonerated and freed from death row in New Mexico; Ron Kitchen, Exonerated and freed from death row in Illinois; Ray Krone, Exonerated and freed from death row in Arizona; Herman Lindsey, Exonerated and freed from death row in Florida; Juan Melendez, Exonerated and freed from death row in Florida; Randal Padgett, Exonerated and freed from death row in Alabama; Freddie Lee Pitts, Exonerated and freed from death row in Florida; Randy Steidl, Exonerated and freed from death row in Illinois; John Thompson, Exonerated and freed from death row in Louisiana; Delbert Tibbs, Exonerated and freed from death row in Florida; David Keaton, Exonerated and freed from death row in Florida; Greg Wilhoit, Exonerated and freed from death row in Oklahoma; Harold Wilson, Exonerated and freed from death row in Pennsylvania.
-Witness to Innocence, May 11, 2011


"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


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.


In earnest support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange:



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:



"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!


Courage to Resist needs your support

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

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.

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Committee to Stop FBI Repression
P.O. Box 14183
Minneapolis, MN 55414

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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.
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D. ARTICLES IN FULL (Unless otherwise noted)


1) Asian New Yorkers Surpass a Million, and Band Together
June 23, 2011

2) Bromance With the Big Man
June 23, 2011, 9:39 pm

3) Workers Remove Device From Damaged Japanese Reactor
June 24, 2011

4) New Jersey Lawmakers Approve Benefits Rollback for Work Force
"The legislation will sharply increase what state and local workers must contribute for their health insurance and pensions, suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees' pension checks, raise retirement ages and curb the unions' contract bargaining rights. It will save local and state governments $132 billion over the next 30 years, by the administration's estimate, and give the troubled benefit systems a sounder financial footing, mostly by shifting costs onto workers. "
June 23, 2011

5) For Many in Britain, Being a Homeowner Is a Fading Dream
"About four years ago, a first-time buyer had to raise an average down payment equal to 41 percent of annual income to buy a property, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Now it is more than 87 percent of income..."
June 23, 2011

6) Overlooked Vancouver Video Shows 'Kissing Couple' Was Knocked Down by Riot Police
June 24, 2011, 12:17 pm

7) Drug Makers Win Two Supreme Court Decisions
"In the first case, Pliva v. Mensing, No. 09-993, the court split 5 to 4 along ideological lines in ruling that the makers of generic drugs - which account for 75 percent of prescriptions dispensed nationwide - may not be sued under state law for failing to warn customers about the risks associated with their products."
June 23, 2011

8) Court Says Ex-Wife May Retain Money From Ponzi Scheme
J.B. Nicholas/Bloomberg NewsStephen Walsh is fighting claims that he helped defraud investors of more than $550 million in a 13-year Ponzi scheme.
June 23, 2011, 8:37 pm

9) The Imperialist Suicide Epidemic in India
by Larry Everest
June 19, 2011

10) Epidemic: Over 400,000 Traumatic Brain Injuries for Vets Coming from Iraq and Afghanistan
By Conn Hallinan, AlterNet
Posted on June 21, 2011, Printed on June 24, 2011

11) If Americans Don't Get Hurt, War Is No Longer War
"U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors."
Jonathan Schell
June 21, 2011

12) Bombs Over Libya
Bill the Butcher
Tuesday, 21 June 2011

13) Trial Begins: Did New Orleans Media Contribute to Police Violence After Hurricane Katrina?
by: Jordan Flaherty, Truthout | News Analysis
Friday 24 June 2011

14) Fukushima Meltdown Mitigation Aims to Prevent Radioactive Flood
Three months after its meltdown, the stricken nuclear power plant continues to struggle to cool its nuclear fuel--and cope with growing amounts of radioactive cooling water
"The challenge is not insurmountable, just costly. "You can clean up almost anything if you're prepared to spend enough money on it," adds Peter Bradford, a former member of the NRC."
By David Biello
Friday, June 24, 2011

15) Pickets Challenge Labor to Find Solidarity with Palestinians
by Michael Letwin
Wed, 06/22/2011 - 10:08am

16) A sinister cyber-surveillance scheme exposed
Hacked emails from security contractor HBGary Federal reveal a disturbing public-private partnership to spy on web users
Wednesday 22 June 2011

17) What Happened to Media Coverage of Fukushima?
by Anne Landman
Published on Friday, June 24, 2011 by PR Watch

19)'Safety Myth' Left Japan Ripe for Nuclear Crisis
June 24, 2011

20) Distrust of Government Impedes Reform in Greece
June 25, 2011

20) Distrust of Government Impedes Reform in Greece
June 25, 2011

21) Staff Criticize Nuclear Regulator for Halting Evaluation
June 24, 2011

22) All of His Crops Flourished. Too Bad They Were in a Park.
June 24, 2011


1) Haiti: WikiLeaks reveals contractor 'gold rush' after quake
Sunday, June 19, 2011
By Kim Ives & Ansel Herz

Disaster capitalists flocked to Haiti in a "gold rush" for contracts to rebuild the country after the January 12, 2010 earthquake, wrote the current US ambassador Kenneth Merten in a secret Febuary 1, 2010 cable obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by Haiti Liberte.

"THE GOLD RUSH IS ON!" Merten headlined a section of his 6pm situation report _ or Sitrep _ back to Washington.

"As Haiti digs out from the earthquake, different [US] companies are moving in to sell their concepts, products and services," he wrote. "President [Rene] Preval met with Gen Wesley Clark Saturday [on January 30] and received a sales presentation on a hurricane/earthquake resistant foam core house designed for low income residents."

Former US presidential candidate and retired General Wesley Clark was promoting _ along with professional basketball star Alonzo Mourning _ InnoVida Holdings, LLC, a Miami-based company, which had pledged to donate 1000 foam-core panel built houses for Haiti's homeless.

The Florida-based disaster recovery company AshBritt "has been talking to various institutions about a national plan for rebuilding all government buildings," Merten continued in his dispatch.

"Other companies are proposing their housing solutions or their land use planning ideas, or other construction concepts.

"Each is vying for the ear of President in a veritable free-for-all."

One man who had the ear of Preval, perhaps more than anyone else, was Lewis Lucke, Washington's "Unified Relief and Response Coordinator", heading up the entire US earthquake relief effort in Haiti.

He met with Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive two weeks after the quake, and at least one more time after that, according to the cables.

Lucke, a 27-year veteran of the US Agency for International Development, had overseen multi-billion dollar contracts for Bechtel and other companies as USAID mission director in post-invasion Iraq.

Lucke stepped down as Haiti relief coordinator in April 2010 after only three months, telling his hometown newspaper, The Austin-American Statesman, in an interview: "It became clear to us that if it was handled correctly, the earthquake represented as much an opportunity as it did a calamity ...

"So much of the china was broken that it gives the chance to put it together hopefully in a better and different way."

But in December 2010, Lucke sued AshBritt and its Haitian partner, GB Group (belonging to Haiti's richest man, Gilbert Bigio) for almost US$500,000.

Associated Press said he claimed the companies "did not pay him enough for consulting services that included hooking the contractor up with powerful people and helping to navigate government bureaucracy".

Lucke had signed a lucrative $30,000 per month agreement with AshBritt and GB Group within eight weeks of stepping down, helping them secure $20 million in construction contracts.

Before the lawsuit was settled, Lucke had already joined masonry product supplier MC Endeavors.

The firm sent out another of many press releases in May advertising its ability to build homes and applauding Haiti's newly-inaugurated President Michel Martelly's declaration: "This is a new Haiti that is open for business now."

AshBritt and Lucke weren't the only gold-seekers to end up in lawsuits.

Just over a year after his benevolent gesture in donating houses, Innovida's CEO Claudio Osorio was in court being sued by another NBA star, Carlos Boozer.

He was being sued for having "intentionally, maliciously, fraudulently" squandered a $1 million investment by the basketball player in InnoVida Holdings, reported the April 24 Chicago Sun-Times.

The article quotes Boozer's attorney as saying that Osorio misrepresented his business record, lied, and "promised 1,000 percent returns from projects that benefitted disaster-stricken areas" such as Haiti.

"InnoVida is a defendant to at least 14 known lawsuits, including a blanket lien on the operating factory's assets," the suit states. InnoVida was taken over by a court-ordered receiver on March 3.

Ambassador Merten's announced "gold rush" began as Haitians were still being pulled from the rubble.

Since then, USAID has doled out nearly $200 million in relief and reconstruction contracts. By April, just 2.5% of the money had gone to Haitian firms, the Center for Economic and Policy Research said.

Lucke, for one, justifies making money off disasters. "It's kind of the American way," he told Haiti Liberte.

"Just because you're trying to do business doesn't mean you're trying to be rapacious. There's nothing insidious about that ... It wasn't worse than Iraq."

[Reprinted from . Please consider making a contribution to Haiti Liberte, which is in financial straits due, in part, to expenses incurred in obtaining the WikiLeaks cables. You can donate at the website or at .]


2) World's wealthiest people now richer than before the credit crunch
World Wealth Report reveals soaring numbers of rich individuals in Asia Pacific region - but slower growth in Britain
Jill Treanor, Wednesday 22 June 2011

We are not all in this together. The UK economy is flat, the US is weak and the Greek debt crisis, according to some commentators, is threatening another Lehman Brothers-style meltdown. But a new report shows the world's wealthiest people are getting more prosperous - and more numerous - by the day.

The globe's richest have now recouped the losses they suffered after the 2008 banking crisis. They are richer than ever, and there are more of them - nearly 11 million - than before the recession struck.

In the world of the well-heeled, the rich are referred to as "high net worth individuals" (HNWIs) and defined as people who have more than $1m (£620,000) of free cash.

According to the annual world wealth report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, the wealth of HNWIs around the world reached $42.7tn (trillion) (£26.5tn) in 2010, rising nearly 10% in a year and surpassing the peak of $40.7tn reached in 2007, even as austerity budgets were implemented by many governments in the developed world.

The report also measures a category of "ultra-high net worth individuals" - those with at least $30m rattling around, looking for a home. The number of individuals in this super-rich bracket climbed 10% to a total of 103,000, and the total value of their investments jumped by 11.5% to $15tn, demonstrating that even among the rich, the richest get richer quicker. Altogether they represent less than 1% of the world's HNWIs - but they speak for 36% of HNWI's total wealth.

Age also helps: more than eight out of 10 of the world's wealthiest people are aged over 45. So does being male: women account for just over a quarter of the total - though this is slightly higher than in 2008. The highest proportion of wealthy women is in North America - 37% of HNWIs - while the lowest is in the Middle East, which has 14%.

Generally, HNWIs are most concentrated in the US, Japan and Germany: 53% of the world's most wealthy live in one of those three countries, but it is Asian-Pacific countries where the ranks of the rich are swelling fastest. For the first time last year the region surpassed Europe in terms of HNWI individuals.

This scale of wealth of the richest people in Asia Pacific - fuelled by the fast-growing economies in China and India - is now threatening to overtake North America, where the value of the wealth rose more slowly - 9% - to reach $11.6tn.

The richest people in the Asia-Pacific region have also fared better since the crisis. Their wealth is now up 14.1% since 2007 while individuals in North America and Europe are yet to recoup the losses they suffered during the banking crisis.

Britain is lagging behind in the league of affluence - it has not yet enjoyed a return to pre-crisis levels of wealth as sluggish economic growth holds back prospects. The growth in the number of rich individuals in the UK was among the slowest in the top 10 nations, showing a 1.4% rise to 454,000 and remaining below the 495,000 recorded in 2007.

The report said that while the UK stock market rose almost 30% and GDP grew 1.3% - after contracting by 4.9% in 2009 - the fortunes of the rich were held back by falling house prices and the rise in unemployment. Their prospects might improve next year, however. "Construction spending for the 2012 London Olympics is expected to help propel the economy and the housing market recovery," the report said.

The 1.4% rise in the number of rich people in Britain compares with a 7.2% rise in Germany and 8.3% in the US - where there are 3.1m HNWIs - and the 3.4% rise in France.

India moved into the top 12, with a 20.8% rise to 153,000, for the first time, while Italy, 10th in the table, endured a contraction in the number of wealthy people from 190,000 to 170,000.

The performance of investments made by wealthy individuals in shares and commodities, and their willingness to take more risks, helps drive their wealth, which in turn fuels "passion" purchases of multimillionaire must-haves, ranging from Ferraris to diamonds, art and fine wines. Demand for such luxuries is especially high among the growing number of wealthy individuals in the emerging markets.

The report warns of problems for this year, saying "the path to global recovery will likely be uneven and various risks remain".

It added: "The global effects of the financial crisis receded in 2010 but aftershocks still materialised in many forms, including the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the growing burden of a gaping fiscal deficit in the US. These types of shocks showed the fragility of the economic recovery and could still pose an obstacle to growth in 2011".

The pace of growth in the wealthy has returned to a "more sustainable pace" since last year's report, when there was a 17% rise in the number of HNWIs to 10 million, reaching pre-crisis levels.


3) Tritium leaks found at many nuke sites
[This is informative and]
By JEFF DONN, AP National Writer
Tue Jun 21, 10:49 am ET;_ylt=AjjV87twwtaLf6cINI2UVM1I2ocA;_ylu=X3oDMTJxdXEycHZ0BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwNjIxL3VzX2FnaW5nX251a2VzX3BhcnQyBHBvcwM2BHNlYwN5bl9wYWdpbmF0ZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA2FwaW1wYWN0dHJpdA--

BRACEVILLE, Ill. - Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping, an Associated Press investigation shows.

The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation.

Tritium, which is a radioactive form of hydrogen, has leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission records reviewed as part of the AP's yearlong examination of safety issues at aging nuclear power plants. Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard - sometimes at hundreds of times the limit.

While most leaks have been found within plant boundaries, some have migrated offsite. But none is known to have reached public water supplies.

At three sites - two in Illinois and one in Minnesota - leaks have contaminated drinking wells of nearby homes, the records show, but not at levels violating the drinking water standard. At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding picturesque Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean.

Previously, the AP reported that regulators and industry have weakened safety standards for decades to keep the nation's commercial nuclear reactors operating within the rules. While NRC officials and plant operators argue that safety margins can be eased without peril, critics say these accommodations are inching the reactors closer to an accident.

Any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how slight, boosts cancer risk, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Federal regulators set a limit for how much tritium is allowed in drinking water. So far, federal and industry officials say, the tritium leaks pose no health threat.

But it's hard to know how far some leaks have traveled into groundwater. Tritium moves through soil quickly, and when it is detected it often indicates the presence of more powerful radioactive isotopes that are often spilled at the same time.

For example, cesium-137 turned up with tritium at the Fort Calhoun nuclear unit near Omaha, Neb., in 2007. Strontium-90 was discovered with tritium two years earlier at the Indian Point nuclear power complex, where two reactors operate 25 miles north of New York City.

The tritium leaks also have spurred doubts among independent engineers about the reliability of emergency safety systems at the 104 nuclear reactors situated on the 65 sites. That's partly because some of the leaky underground pipes carry water meant to cool a reactor in an emergency shutdown and to prevent a meltdown. More than a mile of piping, much of it encased in concrete, can lie beneath a reactor.

Tritium is relatively short-lived and penetrates the body weakly through the air compared to other radioactive contaminants. Each of the known releases has been less radioactive than a single X-ray.

The main health risk from tritium, though, would be in drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says tritium should measure no more than 20,000 picocuries per liter in drinking water. The agency estimates seven of 200,000 people who drink such water for decades would develop cancer.

Still, the NRC and industry consider the leaks a public relations problem, not a public health or accident threat, records and interviews show.

"The public health and safety impact of this is next to zero," said Tony Pietrangelo, chief nuclear officer of the industry's Nuclear Energy Institute. "This is a public confidence issue."



Like rust under a car, corrosion has propagated for decades along the hard-to-reach, wet underbellies of the reactors generally built in a burst of construction during the 1960s and 1970s. As part of an investigation of aging problems at the country's nuclear reactors, the AP uncovered evidence that despite government and industry programs to bring the causes of such leaks under control, breaches have become more frequent and widespread.

There were 38 leaks from underground piping between 2000 and 2009, according to an industry document presented at a tritium conference. Nearly two-thirds of the leaks were reported over the latest five years.

Here are some examples:

--At the three-unit Browns Ferry complex in Alabama, a valve was mistakenly left open in a storage tank during modifications over the years. When the tank was filled in April 2010 about 1,000 gallons of tritium-laden water poured onto the ground at a concentration of 2 million picocuries per liter. In drinking water, that would be 100 times higher than the EPA health standard.

--At the LaSalle site west of Chicago, tritium-laden water was accidentally released from a storage tank in July 2010 at a concentration of 715,000 picocuries per liter - 36 times the EPA standard.

--The year before, 123,000 picocuries per liter were detected in a well near the turbine building at Peach Bottom west of Philadelphia - six times the drinking water standard.

--And in 2008, 7.5 million picocuries per liter leaked from underground piping at Quad Cities in western Illinois - 375 times the EPA limit.

Subsurface water not only rusts underground pipes, it attacks other buried components, including electrical cables that carry signals to control operations. They too have been failing at high rates.

A 2008 NRC staff memo reported industry data showing 83 failed cables between 21 and 30 years of service - but only 40 within their first 10 years of service. Underground cabling set in concrete can be extraordinarily difficult to replace.

Under NRC rules, tiny concentrations of tritium and other contaminants are routinely released in monitored increments from nuclear plants; leaks from corroded pipes are not permitted.

The leaks sometimes go undiscovered for years, the AP found. Many of the pipes or tanks have been patched, and contaminated soil and water have been removed in some places. But leaks are often discovered later from other nearby piping, tanks or vaults. Mistakes and defective material have contributed to some leaks. However, corrosion - from decades of use and deterioration - is the main cause. And, safety engineers say, the rash of leaks suggest nuclear operators are hard put to maintain the decades-old systems.

Over the history of the U.S. industry, more than 400 known radioactive leaks of all kinds of substances have occurred, the activist Union of Concerned Scientists reported in September.

Several notable leaks above the EPA drinking-water limit for tritium happened five or more years ago, and from underground piping: 397,000 picocuries per liter at Tennessee's Watts Bar unit in 2005 - 20 times the EPA standard; four million at the two-reactor Hatch plant in Georgia in 2003 - 200 times the limit; 750,000 at Seabrook in New Hampshire in 1999 - nearly 38 times the standard; and 4.2 million at the three-unit Palo Verde facility in Arizona, in 1993 - 210 times the drinking-water limit.

Many safety experts worry about what the leaks suggest about the condition of miles of piping beneath the reactors. "Any leak is a problem because you have the leak itself - but it also says something about the piping," said Mario V. Bonaca, a former member of the NRC's Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards. "Evidently something has to be done."

However, even with the best probes, it is hard to pinpoint partial cracks or damage in skinny pipes or bends. The industry tends to inspect piping when it must be dug up for some other reason. Even when leaks are detected, repairs may be postponed for up to two years with the NRC's blessing.

"You got pipes that have been buried underground for 30 or 40 years, and they've never been inspected, and the NRC is looking the other way," said engineer Paul Blanch, who has worked for the industry and later became a whistleblower. "They could have corrosion all over the place."

Nuclear engineer Bill Corcoran, an industry consultant who has taught NRC personnel how to analyze the cause of accidents, said that since much of the piping is inaccessible and carries cooling water, the worry is if the pipes leak, there could be a meltdown.



One of the highest known tritium readings was discovered in 2002 at the Salem nuclear plant in Lower Alloways Creek Township, N.J. Tritium leaks from the spent fuel pool contaminated groundwater under the facility - located on an island in Delaware Bay - at a concentration of 15 million picocuries per liter. That's 750 times the EPA drinking water limit. According to NRC records, the tritium readings last year still exceeded EPA drinking water standards.

And tritium found separately in an onsite storm drain system measured 1 million picocuries per liter in April 2010.

Also last year, the operator, PSEG Nuclear, discovered 680 feet of corroded, buried pipe that is supposed to carry cooling water to Salem Unit 1 in an accident, according to an NRC report. Some had worn down to a quarter of its minimum required thickness, though no leaks were found. The piping was dug up and replaced.

The operator had not visually inspected the piping - the surest way to find corrosion_ since the reactor went on line in 1977, according to the NRC. PSEG Nuclear was found to be in violation of NRC rules because it hadn't even tested the piping since 1988.

Last year, the Vermont Senate was so troubled by tritium leaks as high as 2.5 million picocuries per liter at the Vermont Yankee reactor in southern Vermont (125 times the EPA drinking-water standard) that it voted to block relicensing - a power that the Legislature holds in that state.

Activists placed a bogus ad on the Web to sell Vermont Yankee, calling it a "quaint Vermont fixer-upper from the last millennium" with "tasty, pre-tritiated drinking water."

The gloating didn't last. In March, the NRC granted the plant a 20-year license extension, despite the state opposition. Weeks ago, operator Entergy sued Vermont in federal court, challenging its authority to force the plant to close.

At 41-year-old Oyster Creek in southern New Jersey, the country's oldest operating reactor, the latest tritium troubles started in April 2009, a week after it was relicensed for 20 more years. That's when plant workers discovered tritium by chance in about 3,000 gallons of water that had leaked into a concrete vault housing electrical lines.

Since then, workers have found leaking tritium three more times at concentrations up to 10.8 million picocuries per liter - 540 times the EPA's drinking water limit - according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. None has been directly measured in drinking water, but it has been found in an aquifer and in a canal discharging into nearby Barnegat Bay, a popular spot for swimming, boating and fishing.

An earlier leak came from a network of pipes where rust was first discovered in 1991. Multiple holes were found, "indicating the potential for extensive corrosion," according to an analysis released to an environmental group by the NRC. Yet only patchwork repairs were done.

Tom Fote, who has fished in the bay near Oyster Creek, is unsettled by the leaks. "This was a plant that was up for renewal. It was up to them to make sure it was safe and it was not leaking anything," he said.

Added Richard Webster, an environmental lawyer who challenged relicensing at Oyster Creek: "It's symptomatic of the plants not having a handle on aging."



To Exelon - the country's biggest nuclear operator, with 17 units - piping problems are just a fact of life. At a meeting with regulators in 2009, representatives of Exelon acknowledged that "100 percent verification of piping integrity is not practical," according to a copy of its presentation.

Of course, the company could dig up the pipes and check them out. But that would be costly.

"Excavations have significant impact on plant operations," the company said.

Exelon has had some major leaks. At the company's two-reactor Dresden site west of Chicago, tritium has leaked into the ground at up to 9 million picocuries per liter - 450 times the federal limit for drinking water.

At least four separate problems have been discovered at the 40-year-old site since 2004, when its two reactors were awarded licenses for 20 more years of operation. A leaking section of piping was fixed that year, but another leak sprang nearby within two years, a government inspection report says. The Dresden leaks developed in systems that help cool the reactor core in an emergency. Leaks also have contaminated offsite drinking water wells, but below the EPA drinking water limit.

There's also been contamination of offsite drinking water wells near the two-unit Prairie Island plant southeast of Minneapolis, then operated by Nuclear Management Co. and now by Xcel Energy, and at Exelon's two-unit Braidwood nuclear facility, 10 miles from Dresden. The offsite tritium concentrations from both facilities also were below the EPA level.

The Prairie Island leak was found in the well of a nearby home in 1989. It was traced to a canal where radioactive waste was discharged.

Braidwood has leaked more than six million gallons of tritium-laden water in repeated leaks dating back to the 1990s - but not publicly reported until 2005. The leaks were traced to pipes that carried limited, monitored discharges of tritium into the river.

"They weren't properly maintained, and some of them had corrosion," said Exelon spokeswoman Krista Lopykinski.

Last year, Exelon, which has acknowledged violating Illinois state groundwater standards, agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle state and county complaints over the tritium leaks at Braidwood and nearby Dresden and Byron sites. The NRC also sanctioned Exelon.

Tritium measuring 1,500 picocuries per liter turned up in an offsite drinking well at a home near Braidwood. Though company and industry officials did not view any of the Braidwood concentrations as dangerous, unnerved residents took to bottled water and sued over feared loss of property value. A consolidated lawsuit was dismissed, but Exelon ultimately bought some homes so residents could leave.

Exelon refused to say how much it paid, but a search of county real estate records shows it bought at least nine properties in the contaminated area near Braidwood since 2006 for a total of $6.1 million.

Exelon says it has almost finished cleaning up the contamination, but the cost persists for some neighbors.

Retirees Bob and Nancy Scamen live in a two-story house within a mile of the reactors on 18 bucolic acres they bought in 1988, when Braidwood opened. He had worked there, and in other nuclear plants, as a pipefitter and welder - even sometimes fixing corroded piping. For the longest time, he felt the plants were well-managed and safe.

His feelings have changed.

An outlet from Braidwood's leaky discharge pipe 300 feet from his property poured out three million gallons of water in 1998, according to an NRC inspection report. The couple didn't realize the discharge was radioactive.

The Scamens no longer intend to pass the property on to their grandchildren for fear of hurting their health. The couple just wants out. But the only offer so far is from a buyer who left a note on the front door saying he'd pay the fire-sale price of $10,000.

They say Exelon has refused to buy their home because it has found tritium directly behind, but not beneath, their property.

"They say our property is not contaminated, and if they buy property that is not contaminated, it will set a precedent, and they'll have to buy everybody's property," said Scamen.

Their neighbors, Tom and Judy Zimmer, are also hoping for an offer from Exelon for the land and home they built on it, spending $418,000 for both.

They had just moved into the house in November 2005, and were laying the tile in their new foyer when two Exelon representatives appeared at the door.

"They said, `We're from Exelon, and we had a tritium spill. It's nothing to worry about,'" recalls Tom Zimmer. "I didn't know what tritium even meant."

But his wife says she understood right away that it was bad news - and they hadn't even emptied their moving boxes yet: "I thought, `Oh, my God. We're not even in this place. What are we going to do?'"

They say they had an interested buyer who backed out when he learned of the tritium. No one has made an offer since.



The NRC is certainly paying attention. How can it not when local residents fret over every new groundwater incident? But the agency's reports and actions suggest a preoccupation with image and perception.

An NRC task force on tritium leaks last year dismissed the danger to public health. Instead, its report called the leaks "a challenging issue from the perspective of communications around environmental protection." The task force noted ruefully that the rampant leaking had "impacted public confidence."

For sure, the industry also is trying to stop the leaks. For several years now, plant owners around the country have been drilling more monitoring wells and taking a more aggressive approach in replacing old piping when leaks are suspected or discovered.

For example, Exelon has been performing $14 million worth of work at Oyster Creek to give easier access to 2,000 feet of tritium-carrying piping, said site spokesman David Benson.

But such measures have yet to stop widespread leaking.

Meantime, the reactors keep getting older - 66 have been approved for 20-year extensions to their original 40-year licenses, with 16 more extensions pending. And, as the AP has been reporting in its ongoing series, Aging Nukes, regulators and industry have worked in concert to loosen safety standards to keep the plants operating.

In an initiative started last year, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko asked his staff to examine regulations on buried piping to evaluate if stricter standards or more inspections were needed.

The staff report, issued in June, openly acknowledged that the NRC "has not placed an emphasis on preventing" the leaks.

The authors concluded there are no significant health threats or heightened risk of accidents.

And they predicted even more leaks in the future.


The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate(at)


4) Dangerous radiation leaked from three-quarters of U.S. nuclear power plants
[There are photos at this site of the rotting pipes and flaking paint, etc. at four nuclear power sites.]
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:55 PM on 21st June 2011

Dangerous radiation has leaked from three-quarters of all U.S. nuclear power stations raising fears the country's water supplies could one day be contaminated.

The number and severity of leaks has increased because of the many old and unsafe plants across America, a new investigation has claimed.

Radioactive tritium has escaped at least 48 of 65 of all U.S. sites, often entering water around the plants through rusty old pipes.

Water tested around 37 of the facilities contained radioactive concentrations exceeding the U.S. drinking water standard and in some cases at hundreds of times over the limit.

One serious case was uncovered at the Braidwood Nuclear Power Station in Illinois, which has leaked more than six million gallons of tritium-laden water in repeated leaks dating back to the 1990s.

Scientists says tritium is not dangerous in small doses but prolonged exposure to high levels is believed to increase the chances of cancer, leukaemia, and mutations in humans.

The leaks have been uncovered by a year-long Associated Press investigation found by trawling the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) records.

Despite the revelations the NRC and industry bosses consider the leaks a public relations problem, not a public health threat.

'The public health and safety impact of this is next to zero,' said Tony Pietrangelo, chief nuclear officer of the industry's Nuclear Energy Institute.

'This is a public confidence issue.'

While most leaks have been found within plant boundaries, some have migrated off site

At three sites - two in Illinois and one in Minnesota - leaks have contaminated drinking wells of nearby homes, official records show, but not at levels violating the drinking water standards.

At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding picturesque Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean.

It is claimed regulators and industry have weakened safety standards for decades to keep the nation's commercial nuclear reactors operating within the rules.

Even if there was a major leak, the U.S. Government says The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says seven of 200,000 people who highly contaminated water for decades would develop cancer.


5) Text of President Obama's Speech on Afghanistan
[On the campaign trail]
New York Times
June 22, 2011

The following is the prepared text of President Obama's speech regarding the troop pullout in Afghanistan, as provided by the White House:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good evening. Nearly 10 years ago, America suffered the worst attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor. This mass murder was planned by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, and signaled a new threat to our security -- one in which the targets were no longer soldiers on a battlefield, but innocent men, women and children going about their daily lives.

In the days that followed, our nation was united as we struck at al Qaeda and routed the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then, our focus shifted. A second war was launched in Iraq, and we spent enormous blood and treasure to support a new government there. By the time I took office, the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year. But al Qaeda's leaders had escaped into Pakistan and were plotting new attacks, while the Taliban had regrouped and gone on the offensive. Without a new strategy and decisive action, our military commanders warned that we could face a resurgent al Qaeda and a Taliban taking over large parts of Afghanistan.

For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I've made as President, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan. When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives: to refocus on al Qaeda, to reverse the Taliban's momentum, and train Afghan security forces to defend their own country. I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to draw down our forces this July.

Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. Thanks to our extraordinary men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

We're starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda's leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known. This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11. One soldier summed it up well. "The message," he said, "is we don't forget. You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes."

The information that we recovered from bin Laden's compound shows al Qaeda under enormous strain. Bin Laden expressed concern that al Qaeda had been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that had been killed, and that al Qaeda has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam -- thereby draining more widespread support. Al Qaeda remains dangerous, and we must be vigilant against attacks. But we have put al Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.

In Afghanistan, we've inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds. Along with our surge, our allies also increased their commitments, which helped stabilize more of the country. Afghan security forces have grown by over 100,000 troops, and in some provinces and municipalities we've already begun to transition responsibility for security to the Afghan people. In the face of violence and intimidation, Afghans are fighting and dying for their country, establishing local police forces, opening markets and schools, creating new opportunities for women and girls, and trying to turn the page on decades of war.

Of course, huge challenges remain. This is the beginning -- but not the end -- of our effort to wind down this war. We'll have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we've made, while we draw down our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government. And next May, in Chicago, we will host a summit with our NATO allies and partners to shape the next phase of this transition.

We do know that peace cannot come to a land that has known so much war without a political settlement. So as we strengthen the Afghan government and security forces, America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban. Our position on these talks is clear: They must be led by the Afghan government, and those who want to be a part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al Qaeda, abandon violence, and abide by the Afghan constitution. But, in part because of our military effort, we have reason to believe that progress can be made.

The goal that we seek is achievable, and can be expressed simply: No safe haven from which al Qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland or our allies. We won't try to make Afghanistan a perfect place. We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely. That is the responsibility of the Afghan government, which must step up its ability to protect its people, and move from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain a lasting peace. What we can do, and will do, is build a partnership with the Afghan people that endures -- one that ensures that we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan government.

Of course, our efforts must also address terrorist safe havens in Pakistan. No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war-torn region. We'll work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keeps its commitments. For there should be no doubt that so long as I am President, the United States will never tolerate a safe haven for those who aim to kill us. They cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.

My fellow Americans, this has been a difficult decade for our country. We've learned anew the profound cost of war -- a cost that's been paid by the nearly 4,500 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq, and the over 1,500 who have done so in Afghanistan -- men and women who will not live to enjoy the freedom that they defended. Thousands more have been wounded. Some have lost limbs on the battlefield, and others still battle the demons that have followed them home.

Yet tonight, we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding. Fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm's way. We've ended our combat mission in Iraq, with 100,000 American troops already out of that country. And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance. These long wars will come to a responsible end.

As they do, we must learn their lessons. Already this decade of war has caused many to question the nature of America's engagement around the world. Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security, and embrace an isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face. Others would have America over-extended, confronting every evil that can be found abroad.

We must chart a more centered course. Like generations before, we must embrace America's singular role in the course of human events. But we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute. When threatened, we must respond with force -- but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas. When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don't have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own. Instead, we must rally international action, which we're doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their own destiny.

In all that we do, we must remember that what sets America apart is not solely our power -- it is the principles upon which our union was founded. We're a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens. We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others. We stand not for empire, but for self-determination. That is why we have a stake in the democratic aspirations that are now washing across the Arab world. We will support those revolutions with fidelity to our ideals, with the power of our example, and with an unwavering belief that all human beings deserve to live with freedom and dignity.

Above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens here at home. Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America's greatest resource -- our people. We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industries, while living within our means. We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy. And most of all, after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. For our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach.

America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.

In this effort, we draw inspiration from our fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. To our troops, our veterans and their families, I speak for all Americans when I say that we will keep our sacred trust with you, and provide you with the care and benefits and opportunity that you deserve.

I met some of these patriotic Americans at Fort Campbell. A while back, I spoke to the 101st Airborne that has fought to turn the tide in Afghanistan, and to the team that took out Osama bin Laden. Standing in front of a model of bin Laden's compound, the Navy SEAL who led that effort paid tribute to those who had been lost -- brothers and sisters in arms whose names are now written on bases where our troops stand guard overseas, and on headstones in quiet corners of our country where their memory will never be forgotten. This officer -- like so many others I've met on bases, in Baghdad and Bagram, and at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital -- spoke with humility about how his unit worked together as one, depending on each other, and trusting one another, as a family might do in a time of peril.

That's a lesson worth remembering -- that we are all a part of one American family. Though we have known disagreement and division, we are bound together by the creed that is written into our founding documents, and a conviction that the United States of America is a country that can achieve whatever it sets out to accomplish. Now, let us finish the work at hand. Let us responsibly end these wars, and reclaim the American Dream that is at the center of our story. With confidence in our cause, with faith in our fellow citizens, and with hope in our hearts, let us go about the work of extending the promise of America -- for this generation, and the next.

May God bless our troops. And may God bless the United States of America.


6) Some Greeks Fear Government Is Selling Nation
"ATHENS - They are the crown jewels of Greece's socialist state, and they are now likely to go to the highest bidder: the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki; prime Mediterranean real estate; the national lottery; Greek Telecom; the postal bank and the national railway system. ...The European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, known as the 'troika,' say that is the only way out for a heavily indebted Greece, while some economists say the program resembles medieval bloodletting - a dose of pain highly unlikely to revive the patient. Mr. Papandreou's first task is to persuade his governing Socialist Party to pass a bill that would save or raise about $40 billion by 2015, equivalent to 12 percent of Greece's gross domestic product, through wage cuts and tax increases, at a time when the economy is shrinking."
June 22, 2011

ATHENS - They are the crown jewels of Greece's socialist state, and they are now likely to go to the highest bidder: the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki; prime Mediterranean real estate; the national lottery; Greek Telecom; the postal bank and the national railway system.

And then comes the mandated deeper round of austerity measures, which will slash the wages of police officers, firefighters and other state workers who are protesting in Athens, and raise the taxes of citizens already inflamed by a recession-plagued economy and soaring joblessness.

After winning a pivotal confidence vote on his new cabinet on Tuesday, Prime Minister George Papandreou now has an even tougher task: to carry out a radical remedy of forced auctions and fiscal austerity for a sickened economy already in a deep slump.

The European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, known as the "troika," say that is the only way out for a heavily indebted Greece, while some economists say the program resembles medieval bloodletting - a dose of pain highly unlikely to revive the patient.

Mr. Papandreou's first task is to persuade his governing Socialist Party to pass a bill that would save or raise about $40 billion by 2015, equivalent to 12 percent of Greece's gross domestic product, through wage cuts and tax increases, at a time when the economy is shrinking.

To put that in perspective, spending cuts and tax increases of a similar scale in the United States would amount to $1.75 trillion, considerably more sweeping than even the most far-reaching proposals for reducing the American federal budget deficit. And Greece has promised to generate another $72 billion by selling off prime state assets, which many Greeks consider a fire sale of national patrimony.

While the commitment to austerity will allow Greece access to a fresh infusion of international aid, a growing chorus of economists say that the government's new program will at best delay default and a restructuring of its debt, which is already more than 150 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Steeper budget cuts and tax increases, they say, are the enemy of economic growth, which Greece desperately needs to make its debt burden lighter.

"You cannot keep on milking the cow without feeding it," said Konstantinos Mihalos, the president of the Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Athens.

In fact many economists fear Greece has already entered a "debt trap," where paying the interest on its mound of debt requires more and more loans. "The Greeks have been told to accept more of the medicine that has already failed to treat the disease," said Simon Tilford, chief economist at the Center for European Reform in London.

The Greeks have already reduced their deficit by five percentage points of the gross domestic product, "unprecedented cuts in a modern economy," Mr. Tilford said. "But the cuts have had a much stronger negative impact on the economy than the troika imagined, and fiscal austerity has pushed the economy deep into recession. Debt can only be paid out of income, and that means growth."

Greece does not have access to many tools to fight recession, like devaluing its currency or cutting interest rates, at least as long as it remains a member of the euro zone. Its monetary policy is controlled by the European Central Bank.

Some independent economists accept that Greece has no choice but to try a fresh round of cuts. Edwin M. Truman of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington said Greece had to go through more pain because it had run a budget deficit even before making payments on its debt, meaning it needed loans to pay off its loans.

Only after Greece reorganizes its budget, tax collection and labor market and is running a surplus - not including interest payments on the debt - can economists begin to calculate how much in debt payments Greece is actually able to afford, and then figure out how big a debt restructuring it needs.

"As long as they're running a primary deficit, they need to keep tightening the belt," Mr. Truman said. "Rescheduling now doesn't relieve Greece of the burden of fixing the economy to create a surplus."

It is not getting any easier. In the year since its first bailout, Greece has cut $17 billion through across-the-board wage cuts, layoffs and attrition in its bloated state sector, which employs 800,000 people, a quarter of the Greek work force. But given its recession, the economy shrank and tax revenues fell, meaning that Greece did not meet the original target of a government deficit of 9.1 percent of G.D.P. as agreed with its foreign lenders, prompting them to demand more cuts.

European demands have placed Mr. Papandreou in an increasingly untenable position. He must sell the increasingly restive Greek people on more austerity with no clear signs of recovery. And he has to persuade his Socialist Party on reforms that undo almost everything the party has stood for in the past.

At least one Socialist member of Parliament, Alexandros Athanasiadis, has already announced that he will not vote for the new austerity measures, citing his opposition to selling part of the state's stake in the electricity utility whose power plants dominate his district in northeastern Greece.

On Wednesday, members of the public power company union, Genop, occupied the Transport Ministry and orchestrated some power failures to protest the sale, which seeks to reduce the state's stake to 34 percent from 51 percent in the profitable company.

To many Greeks, selling that and many other state-owned companies and assets, even those that currently lose money, is tantamount to a loss of sovereignty - especially if wealthy investors from Germany and the other big European powers pushing austerity of Greece end up purchasing the assets for a hefty discount.

"We've always been advocates of privatization because the national state cannot play the role of the entrepreneur and has in fact proven to be a complete disaster every time they attempt to do so," said Mr. Mihalos of the Athens Chamber of Commerce.

"But at these extremely low levels, especially for those companies quoted on the stock exchange, we have to be very wary," he added. "If we go by today's values, as a result of the recession and the crisis the country finds itself in, it will be really selling the crown jewels at a pittance of their cost."

Mr. Papandreou's government has not managed to make a convincing case for the sell-off to many Greeks, where the idea of a fire sale has taken hold, setting off a wave of national indignation. "Imagine if you asked me for my apartment, and I gave you the whole building," said Dorothea Ekonomopoulou, a public school teacher in Athens, as she stood among demonstrators in Syntagma Square this week.

Rachel Donadio reported from Athens, and Steven Erlanger from Paris.


7) Derivatives Cloud the Possible Fallout From a Greek Default
June 22, 2011

It's the $616 billion question: Does the euro crisis have a hidden A.I.G.?

No one seems to be sure, in large part because the world of derivatives is so murky. But the possibility that some company out there may have insured billions of dollars of European debt has added a new tension to the sovereign default debate.

In years past, when financial crises in Argentina and Russia left those countries unable to make good on their government debts, they simply defaulted. But this time around, swaps and other sorts of contracts have become so common and so intertwined in the financial markets that there are fears among regulators and financial players about how a Greek default would play out among derivatives holders.

The looming uncertainties are whether these contracts - which insure against possibilities like a Greek default - are concentrated in the hands of a few companies, and if these companies will be able to pay out billions of dollars to cover losses during a default. If there were a single company standing behind many of these contracts, that company would be akin to the American International Group of the euro crisis. The American insurer needed a $182 billion federal bailout during the financial crisis because it had insured the performance of mortgage bonds through derivatives and could not pay on all of them.

Even regulators seem unsure of whether a Greek default would reveal such concentrated risk in the hands of just a few companies. Spokeswomen for the central banks of both Europe and the United States would not say whether their researchers had studied holdings of such contracts among nonbank entities like insurance companies and hedge funds.

Asked about derivatives tied to Europe at a Wednesday press conference, Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said that the direct exposure is small but that "a disorderly default in one of those countries would no doubt roil financial markets globally. It would have a big impact on credit spreads, on stock prices and so on. And so in that respect I think the effects in the United States would be quite significant."

Derivatives traders and analysts are debating just how much money is involved in these contracts and what sort of threat they pose to markets in Europe and the United States. On the one hand, just over $5 billion is tied up in credit-default swap contracts that will pay out if Greece defaults, according to Markit, a financial data firm based in London. That is less than 1 percent the size of Greece's economy, but that is a conservative calculation that counts protections banks have in place offsetting their positions, and is called the net exposure.

The less conservative figure, the gross exposure, is $78.7 billion for Greece, according to Markit. And there are many other types of contracts, like about $44 billion in other guarantees tied to Greece, according to the Bank of International Settlements. The gross exposure of the five most financially pressed European Union countries - Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain - is about $616 billion. And the broader figure on all derivatives from those countries is unknown.

The pervasiveness of these opaque contracts has complicated negotiations for European officials, and it underscores calls for more transparency in the derivatives market.

The uncertainty, financial analysts say, has led European officials to push for a "voluntary" Greek bond financing solution that may sidestep a default, rather than the forced deals of other eras. "There's not any clarity here because people don't know," said Christopher Whalen, editor of The Institutional Risk Analyst. "This is why the Europeans came up with this ridiculous deal, because they don't know what's out there. They are afraid of a default. The industry is still refusing to provide the disclosure needed to understand this. They're holding us hostage. The Street doesn't want you to see what they've written."

Regulators are aware of this problem. Financial reform packages on both sides of the Atlantic mandated many changes to the derivatives market, and regulators around the globe are drafting new rules for these contracts that are meant to add transparency as well as security. But they are far from finished and could take years to put into effect.

Darrell Duffie, a professor who has studied derivatives at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, said that he was concerned that regulators may not have adequately studied what contagion might occur among swaps holders, in the case of a Greek default.

Regulators, he said, "have access to everything they need to have. Whether they've collected all the information and analyzed it is different question. I worry because many of those leaders have said there's no way we're going to let Greece default. Does that mean they haven't had conversations about what happens if Greece defaults? Is their commitment so severe that they haven't had real discussions about it in the backrooms?"

Regulators aren't saying much. When asked what data the Federal Reserve had collected on American financial companies and their swaps tied to European debt, Barbara Hagenbaugh, a spokeswoman, referred to a speech made by Mr. Bernanke in May in which he did not mention derivatives tied to Greece. At the Wednesday press conference, Mr. Bernanke said that commonly cited data on derivatives do not take into account the offsetting positions banks have on their Greek exposures. And with those positions, he said, even if there is a Greek default, "the effects are very small."

At the European Central Bank, Eszter Miltenyi, a spokeswoman, said: "This is much too sensitive I think for us to have a conversation on this."

On Wall Street, traders are debating whether the industry's process for unwinding credit-default swaps would run smoothly if Greece defaulted. The process is tightly controlled by a small group of bankers who meet in an industry group called the International Swaps and Derivatives Association.

The process is fairly well developed, but it has been little tested on the debt of countries. For the most part, Wall Street has cashed in on credit-default swaps tied to corporations' debt.

For most purposes, determining whether a default occurred in a country's debt falls to ratings agencies like Fitch and Moody's. But for the derivatives market, a committee of I.S.D.A. makes the call.

If the committee decides there was a default, it passes the baton to Markit, which is partly owned by the banks. Markit holds an auction to determine how much value has been lost on the debt, and that determines how much money is paid out to the parties that purchased the insurance.

Marc Barrachin, who runs the auctions, said there was no reason to worry about the process.

"The process is very smooth, very well understood by market participants," said Mr. Barrachin, the director of credit products at Markit. "I mean if you go back to 2008 right in the fall, in five days we had auctions for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Lehman Brothers, and two weeks after that you had Washington Mutual. I go back to that period of stress and the orderly settlements of large amounts of credit derivatives, for names that were widely followed, were testament of the efficiency of the auction system."

In the case of A.I.G., there was not an unwind process run by I.S.D.A. because A.I.G.'s contracts were tied to mortgage bonds. Those sorts of derivatives pay out money over time, whereas derivatives tied to a country's debt pay out on one occasion: if a default occurs. That makes sovereign derivatives more similar to derivatives on corporate bonds and different in some ways from the situation at A.I.G.

But the smoothness of the process would be irrelevant if the risk were concentrated in just a few weak institutions.

The uncertainty around how a sovereign default would course through the derivatives market had greatly increased the price premiums banks were charging to put on new derivatives trades related to European countries. As of last week, the price to insure against default on $10 million of Greek debt was $1.9 million per year, up from $775,000 a year ago, according to Markit.

"There is lack of transparency and visibility in these products, and that increases the risk," said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, a boutique banking firm in New York.


8) Congo: Cholera Spreads to a Crowded Capital
June 22, 2011

A cholera outbreak that has already killed 32 people in Congo has spread to the capital, Kinshasa, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. Three cases of cholera, a waterborne disease, have been confirmed since last week in Kinshasa, which has a population of at least nine million people, many of whom live in cramped, unsanitary conditions. Eugene Kabambi, communications officer for WHO, said traders traveling by boat down the Congo River were bringing the disease from an area where an outbreak infected more than 680 people and killed 32 this month.


9) Post Office to Stop Payments to Retirement Fund
"The announcement said that the post office hoped to save $800 million this fiscal year by stopping its payments to the Federal Employees Retirement System, which are $115 million every two weeks. Employee contributions from salary deductions will continue to be forwarded to the retirement fund."
June 22, 2011

WASHINGTON - To stave off insolvency, the Postal Service will discontinue legally required payments to its employees' retirement fund on Friday, the agency announced Wednesday.

The announcement said that the post office hoped to save $800 million this fiscal year by stopping its payments to the Federal Employees Retirement System, which are $115 million every two weeks. Employee contributions from salary deductions will continue to be forwarded to the retirement fund.

The move will not affect pension payments for current retirees, according to a statement Wednesday from the Office of Personnel Management, which administers government retirement plans.

Federal terms have caused the service to overpay the fund, resulting in a $6.9 billion surplus, officials said. By suspending the payments, the money could be used to pay other bills.

"We need this cash throughout the rest of the year," said Anthony Vegliante, the post office's chief human resources officer, in a phone interview.

As the use of first-class mail has plummeted and budgetary woes have intensified in the past four years, the post office has responded by cutting about 110,000 workers and about $12 billion in costs, according to the statement. But the agency still expects a shortfall of more than $8 billion this year.

Mr. Vegliante said Congress needed to deal with the agency's outdated business model and federal restrictions on its ability to manage itself. "Inside the Beltway, it's the eternal debate," he said. "We need action, not dialogue."

House oversight committee leaders on both sides of the aisle agreed.

Representative Dennis Ross, Republican of Florida and chairman of the House oversight subcommittee on the federal work force, said in a statement Wednesday that Congress needed to approve wholesale structural changes for the post office, "including staff reductions, office closings, delivery changes and responsible benefit funding." He said an overhaul bill would probably emerge from the committee within weeks.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the House oversight committee's ranking Democrat, and Stephen F. Lynch, the federal work force subcommittee's ranking Democrat, said in a statement that while suspending the payments might help in the short term, "the Postal Service will be unlikely to regain financial stability absent legislative action."

Mr. Vegliante said that before Wednesday's announcement the post office consulted the Office of Personnel Management and was told that neither it nor the Postal Service had the authority to stop the payments without legal or legislative action.

The agencies have asked the Justice Department's legal counsel office to review the issue, and the post office agreed to resume the payments if the suspension was ruled invalid, the personnel office said.


10) Arkansas: Closing of Wells Is Sought
June 22, 2011

The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission on Tuesday proposed a permanent moratorium on disposal wells related to natural gas drilling in a 1,150-square-mile area in the center of the state. State scientists have found a highly suggestive link between the operation of these wells and a swarm of more than 1,220 earthquakes since early last fall, including a 4.7-magnitude quake in February. Since two of the wells were shut down in March, the number of earthquakes has dropped by almost 50 percent. The moratorium would shut down two other wells. On July 26, the commission will make a decision about the moratorium after hearing from state scientists, and from oil and gas company representatives, who have said that a direct correlation has not been proved.


11) Asian New Yorkers Surpass a Million, and Band Together
June 23, 2011

Not so long ago, the phrase "New York's Chinatown" meant one thing: a district in Lower Manhattan near Canal Street. Now it could refer to as many as six heavily Chinese enclaves around the city.

Koreatown was well known as a commercial zone in Midtown Manhattan, but now parts of Flushing, Queens, where tens of thousands of Koreans have moved, feel like suburban Seoul. The city has spawned neighborhoods with nicknames like Little Bangladesh, Little Pakistan, Little Manila and Little Tokyo.

Asians, a group more commonly associated with the West Coast, are surging in New York, where they have long been eclipsed in the city's kaleidoscopic racial and ethnic mix. For the first time, according to census figures released in April, their numbers have topped one million - nearly 1 in 8 New Yorkers - which is more than the Asian population in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles combined.

That milestone, in turn, has become a rallying cry for Asian New Yorkers who have been working for years to win more political representation, government assistance and public recognition. Many leaders have seized on the one-million figure as a fresh reason for immigrants and their descendants who hail from across the Asian continent to think of themselves as one people with a common cause - in the same way that many people from Spanish-speaking cultures have come to embrace the broad terms Latino and Hispanic.

"We are 13 percent of this city's population!" Steven Choi, 35, a community organizer and a son of Korean immigrants, yelled into a microphone to a crowd of Asian activists who gathered recently outside City Hall to protest threatened cuts to social services. "We are one million strong, and we are not going away!"

The census shows a striking 32 percent increase in New York's Asian population since 2000, making it the city's fastest-growing racial group by far. The Hispanic population grew only 8 percent during that time, while the ranks of non-Hispanic whites declined 3 percent and blacks declined 5 percent.

As the number of Asians has soared, scores of groups that have long operated independently, and sometimes at odds, have begun pulling together into pan-Asian coalitions in recent years, particularly as younger generations and newer arrivals have seen the advantages of unifying.

But making that happen is not easy, because the population that calls itself Asian is extremely diverse. Asian-Americans in New York trace their roots to dozens of countries, and speak more than 40 languages and dialects. Certain groups have fared much better than others: the poverty rate of Filipinos, for instance, is one-sixth that of Bangladeshis, according to 2009 data from the American Community Survey.

Older immigrants may have lingering prejudices against other nationalities, rooted in historic rivalries among their native countries. Some organizations, particularly well-established Chinese ones that were in the vanguard of the fight for immigrant rights during the last century, may be hesitant to share hard-won gains. And South Asian groups have sometimes felt muscled aside or ignored by their more established East Asian counterparts.

Finding common ground among so many constituencies is "a constant tension that our coalition faces," said Mr. Choi, a leader of the 12 Percent and Growing Coalition, a lobbying group that was formed in 2008 and unites more than 45 organizations that are either led by Asians or serve the Asian population. "It's important as a coalition that we're not letting one narrative dominate over another."

A welter of narratives emerges from the government's latest demographic figures. People who said they were of Chinese descent made up nearly half of all Asians in New York, and multiplied in most city neighborhoods, especially in those where they began settling in large numbers decades ago: Flushing and Elmhurst in Queens, and Sunset Park and Bensonhurst in Brooklyn.

So did the second-largest group, Indians, whose presence has grown significantly, particularly in far eastern Queens. Other groups, meanwhile, became increasingly concentrated in newer enclaves, like Koreans in Fresh Meadows and Bayside, Queens; Filipinos in Elmhurst and Bellerose, Queens; and Vietnamese in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Kingsbridge Heights in the Bronx.

Yet that diversity, Asian-American leaders say, has diluted their clout. "While the numbers have been going up, they somehow feel that politically and otherwise, Asians are not visible," said Madhulika S. Khandelwal, 54, director of the Asian/American Center at Queens College and an Indian immigrant.

Asians in New York City still remain underrepresented in elected office, community leaders say, with only one Asian-American in the State Legislature, two on the City Council and one in a citywide post, the comptroller, John C. Liu. Advocates contend that public and private money for their community service organizations does not match the population's size or need.

Mr. Choi, who is also the executive director of MinKwon Center for Community Action, an advocacy group in Flushing, said that even though Asians are about 13 percent of the city's population, social service organizations that focus on them receive only 1.4 percent of the Council's discretionary allocations, and less than a quarter of one percent of the money for city social-service contracts.

Some community leaders said a "model minority" stereotype - the mistaken perception that Asians are universally high-achieving and self-sufficient - has blinded government officials and others to the needs of those who are not.

Median per capita income for Asians is well below the city's average, and Asian households are on average more crowded than those of blacks, Hispanics or non-Hispanic whites, according to the American Community Survey. Asians also have the highest rate of linguistic isolation, a classification in which nobody older than 13 in a household speaks English well.

The push for broad coalitions has been fueled in part by well-educated young leaders who are more willing, and able, than their parents or grandparents to link arms.

Margaret May Chin, associate professor of sociology at Hunter College, said many of these new leaders grew up in pan-Asian communities in the United States in which the barriers that kept their forebears apart - language differences, ethnic prejudices or simply the daily demands of surviving as a new immigrant - might have receded.

"People have been looking outwards," said Ms. Chin, the daughter of Chinese immigrants. "Koreans are talking to Chinese; the Chinese are talking to the Bengalis."

Sheebani S. Patel, policy coordinator for the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, an advocacy group in Lower Manhattan, said she had seen this shift in her own family. Her parents were immigrants from India; Ms. Patel, 27, was born and raised in Texas.

"A lot of that generation has been so immersed in their own community and working in their community and making it," she said, "whereas the second generation can see the similarities that bind us together."

Asian-American leaders say they are already seeing the impact of their coalition-building on elected officials. "We joke that some of the folks know 12 Percent and Growing Coalition better than they know our individual organizations because of the collective power," Ms. Patel said, gesturing toward City Hall.

"We're here," Mr. Choi added, "and our numbers are much greater than everybody thinks."


12) Bromance With the Big Man
June 23, 2011, 9:39 pm

There weren't a lot of blacks in my high school graduation class - two, to be exact - which meant that race was somewhat of an abstraction, happening elsewhere, mostly on a screen or from the grooves of a record.

And then I saw Clarence Clemons with Bruce Springsteen. Mind you, this was a stage, only a bit more of projected reality than television. Still, the Big Man and the Boss - opposites in look and style, Southern Baptist black and Jersey Shore white - projected a kind of joy that made it easy to believe that this mess of a country could get along. My friends and I came home from that first concert doing air saxophone riffs.

They were fused, these musicians from an iconic album cover, and not just in the magical merge of Clemons's sax with Springsteen's vocal charisma. Clemons was one tradition, of gospel, storytelling, and swagger; Springsteen was another, the garage band with blue-collar urgency and a poet's lyrical touch. But even when they met in the early 1970s, the great American hybrid of rock 'n' roll was becoming a single-race affair.

"You had your black bands and your white bands, and if you mixed the two you found less places to play," Clemons wrote in his memoir. Sad to say, his voice and his soulful sax are gone, following his death on Saturday at the age of 69.

The ideal he represented, at least in rock 'n' roll, may have followed him to the grave as well. With a few exceptions, the most segregated place in America on a given night can be a stadium rock concert - on stage, and in the audience. In one sense, rock mirrors Major League Baseball, where black players made up only 8.5 percent of rosters on Opening Day this year, a 50 percent decline from 20 years ago.

In baseball, blacks integrated the big leagues by force of a few brave pioneers. In rock, whites basically stole the genre, and in some cases have taken it to odious extremes, as with Ted Nugent and his Confederate flag T-shirts and machine gun props.

Springsteen's E Street Band was all about possibility, uplift, and how music could save a soul. Playing off of Clemons, the grandson of a Baptist preacher, Springsteen could always turn one of his concerts into a spiritual revival from the Church of Rock 'n' Roll. It was a nod to the roots of the music, as well as the 6-foot-4 sideman. And for someone from a homogenous background, it was transformative.

In its infancy and through its early years, rock had plenty of African-American stars, of course, from Fats Domino and Little Richard to my fellow Pacific Northwesterner, Jimi Hendrix. In their hands, rhythm-and-blues jumped to another dimension.

When rock went big-time and, ultimately, corporate with British bands and the California sound, most of the black, bluesy edge had been stripped away. The Beatles, near the end, recorded with Billy Preston, who brought a gospel-infused keyboard to the band. And, yes, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards paid homage to their Chicago and Mississippi Delta heroes. They were whites doing black music, as they honestly admitted.

Clemons made his splash on the cover of the greatest American rock album of the last century, "Born to Run." He is the man Springsteen is leaning on, in more ways than one, and smiling back at. The sentiment - hey, these guys really like each other - came through in concert after concert. "He looked at me, and I looked at him, and we fell in love," Springsteen once recalled of their first encounter. "And it's still there."

That kind of racial bromance can be forced and phony in cop-flick movies that try to convey the same feeling - two buddies, one black, one white, on a mission. Springsteen and Clemons never seemed to fake it. A crowd-rousing moment of any show was when Springsteen sang the lyric from "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," that goes to the mythic foundations of the band:

"When the change was made uptown

And the Big Man joined the band

From the coastline to the city

All the little pretties raise their hands"

After the death on Saturday, Springsteen issued a short statement. "He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music," he said.

Far deeper, indeed - for it was a story that affected many rock fans. With Clemons' death, we are one vibrant man short of a cultural example of how the divides of race can come together over music. Bruce Springsteen lost a friend of 40 years; the rest of us lost an ideal.


13) Workers Remove Device From Damaged Japanese Reactor
June 24, 2011

TOKYO - A 3.3-ton device that bedeviled the troubled Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor for nearly a year was removed on Friday morning, Japan's Atomic Energy Agency said.

The in-vessel transfer machine that crashed into the reactor's inner vessel last August had cut off access to the plutonium and uranium fuel rods and left the reactor in an uncertain state. Engineers had tried several times to retrieve the device, which was apparently jammed inside the reactor.

On Thursday night, the operators of the plant, which is in Fukui Prefecture about 300 miles west of Tokyo, finally removed the device along with a sleeve. The recovery work took more than eight hours, ending at 4:55 a.m. on Friday.

The agency said that it had confirmed that some equipment was damaged, as was expected, and that a more detailed inspection would be conducted when the liquid sodium used to cool the nuclear fuel was removed.

The reactor has been shut down and the spent fuel there is under control, the agency said. But it is unclear when the troubled reactor will be restarted, given the growing concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants in the wake of the troubles at the Daiichi plant in Fukushima.

The Monju reactor was designed to reuse and eventually produce nuclear fuel. But the $12 billion project has been dogged by problems, including a fire in 1995 that forced a shutdown of the plant for 14 years. Prefecture and city officials later found that the operator had tampered with video images of the fire to hide the scale of the disaster.

A top manager at the plant recently committed suicide, on the day that Japan's Atomic Energy Agency announced that efforts to recover the device would cost almost $21.9 million. Monju, like several other reactors in Japan, also lies on an active fault.


14) New Jersey Lawmakers Approve Benefits Rollback for Work Force
"The legislation will sharply increase what state and local workers must contribute for their health insurance and pensions, suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees' pension checks, raise retirement ages and curb the unions' contract bargaining rights. It will save local and state governments $132 billion over the next 30 years, by the administration's estimate, and give the troubled benefit systems a sounder financial footing, mostly by shifting costs onto workers. "
June 23, 2011

TRENTON - New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday approved a broad rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, the deepest cut in state and local costs in memory, in a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie and a once-unthinkable setback for the state's powerful public employee unions.

The Assembly passed the bill 46 to 32, as Republicans and a few Democrats defied raucous protests by thousands of people whose chants, vowing electoral revenge, shook the State House. Leaders in the State Senate said their chamber, which had already passed a slightly different version of the bill, would approve the Assembly version on Monday. Mr. Christie, a Republican, was expected to sign the measure into law quickly.

In a statement released after the vote, Mr. Christie said, "We are putting the people first and daring to touch the third rail of politics in order to bring reform to an unsustainable system."

The legislation will sharply increase what state and local workers must contribute for their health insurance and pensions, suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees' pension checks, raise retirement ages and curb the unions' contract bargaining rights. It will save local and state governments $132 billion over the next 30 years, by the administration's estimate, and give the troubled benefit systems a sounder financial footing, mostly by shifting costs onto workers.

While states around the country have moved to pare labor costs and limit the power of unions, the move is all the more striking here, in a Democratic-leaning state where Democrats control both houses of the Legislature and union membership is among the highest in the country. Most Democratic legislators opposed the benefits reductions, but their leaders voted in favor of the changes, exposing deep, longstanding rifts in the party that lawmakers say could weaken it in coming elections.

The fight over benefits reflected both Mr. Christie's ability to exploit the divisions among Democrats, through his alliances with more conservative Democratic party bosses and legislators, and his success at using the public-sector unions as a foil in his drive to shrink government spending. It has also allowed a nationally known but highly polarizing governor to claim the mantle of bipartisan conciliation, telling audiences that New Jersey is setting an example that other states and the federal government should follow.

On Thursday, thousands of people wearing union T-shirts and buttons filled the Assembly visitors' gallery, the State House corridors and, in a high-decibel protest, the sidewalks, lawns and streets around the building. A procession down State Street included a hearse draped with a banner saying "The Soul of the Democratic Party," and organizers with bullhorns led the crowd in chants of "We'll remember in November!" and "Kill the bill!"

Unions have been broadcasting advertisements attacking Democrats who support the bill - particularly Stephen M. Sweeney, the Senate president - and this week union leaders have spoken of the difference between "real Democrats and Christie Democrats," pointedly including in the latter group Mr. Sweeney, who also is an official of the ironworkers' union.

"This bill is not about savings; it is about breaking the backs of the hard-working men and women of this state," Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., a Middlesex County Democrat, said Thursday after the session began. "I challenge everyone in this chamber today: how many have even read the full 124 pages of union-busting activities?"

But Assemblyman Angel Fuentes, a Camden Democrat, said, "These reforms are unquestionably bitter pills for us to swallow, but they are reasonable and they are necessary." He added: "We now have towns across this state that are struggling to afford health benefits for their employees. This has resulted in cities laying off workers."

The legislation applies to all state employees and to a much larger number of county, town and school district workers, because most local governments participate in the state-run pension and health care systems. When it is fully phased in, after four years, the average government worker will pay several thousand dollars more into the benefit funds.

But union leaders say the bigger issue is what they call a stealth assault on collective bargaining. With just a week remaining in the contracts for the major state employee unions, the unions are now trying to negotiate new agreements with the state.

Most public employees in the state, other than teachers, police officers and firefighters, have had no guarantee of collective bargaining on any issue except for health benefits.

The legislation will supersede that right, allowing the state to impose health care terms unilaterally. For many workers, this means that if contract talks reach an impasse, the government will be able, at least in theory, to dictate all terms, like wages, time off and work rules.

"This bill cuts away the one issue, health care, that the unions could use to trade off against other things," said Jeffrey H. Keefe, associate professor at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University.

Hetty Rosenstein, state director of the Communications Workers of America, said, "This bill is nothing less than Chris Christie's frontal assault on organized labor."

Union leaders said they were exploring the possibility that some provisions of the bill, like the suspension of cost-of-living increases for retirees, could be challenged in court.

In his campaign to rein in the unions and shrink government, Mr. Christie has often been helped by New Jersey's unique political culture, where local political machines still dominate some areas, and many state legislators also hold local government jobs. That gives striking influence in Trenton to mayors, county executives and local party bosses who struggle with rising labor costs and have repeatedly sided with the governor's push to cut benefits and wages.

Until recently, the public employee unions were among the most feared forces in state politics. They were a major source of votes, campaign cash and foot soldiers for Democrats, but officials in both parties were eager to please them. For years, governors and legislators from both parties sweetened their pension benefits but did not put any money into the system to pay for them.

As a result, the state's pension funds are among the most underfunded in the nation - estimated last year at $54 billion short of the amount needed to meet future obligations. Mr. Christie and others have warned that mounting pension and health care costs could eventually bankrupt the state and local governments.

The pendulum has swung back over the last four years, first under Gov. Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat, and then under Mr. Christie, as the state took steps like increasing what workers paid for benefits, raising retirement ages and limiting contract arbitration awards. But the bill now awaiting the Senate's approval and Mr. Christie's signature is easily the most far-reaching one yet.


15) For Many in Britain, Being a Homeowner Is a Fading Dream
"About four years ago, a first-time buyer had to raise an average down payment equal to 41 percent of annual income to buy a property, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Now it is more than 87 percent of income..."
June 23, 2011

LONDON - For a large number of young adults in Britain, homeownership has become increasingly difficult to achieve, viewed as a distant goal attainable only later in life, if at all.

That is a significant shift for a country where owning a home remains deeply rooted in the culture. Owners occupy a higher percentage of homes in Britain than in the United States, France or Germany.

But as the pain of government-imposed austerity sinks in, disposable income has shrunk and loan requirements have toughened, forcing more and more Britons into renting rather than buying.

The average age of first-time buyers is now 31, up from 28 five years ago, and the number of people renting has increased sharply, signs that the boom in homeownership that began under Margaret Thatcher's government 30 years ago is starting to reverse.

Some economists are concerned that as more people are forced to wait to buy a home, the country's wealth gap could widen, endangering the retirement prospects for a swelling group of young adults they call "generation rent."

Charlotte Ashton, 30, has lived in rented accommodations ever since she left her parent's home to attend university. She said she was happy sharing a five-bedroom house in the Shepherds Bush area of London with four other women but was saving for a down payment to buy her own home.

"I do believe in the fundamentals of owning bricks and mortar as security for the future, more than leaving my money in the banks at a low interest rate," said Ms. Ashton, who works in public relations. "Unless you have a very well paid job and are willing to save every penny, it's unfeasible to buy without the help of the bank of Mum and Dad."

About four years ago, a first-time buyer had to raise an average down payment equal to 41 percent of annual income to buy a property, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Now it is more than 87 percent of income, or about £26,500 ($42,800). And while banks were willing to make mortgage loans for more than the value of the house before the credit crisis, buyers now find they must put up at least 10 percent, and often substantially more. (The average deposit for first-time buyers is 23 percent, according to the price comparison Web site Moneysupermarket).

A study by Halifax, a British mortgage lender, showed last month that while 77 percent of 20 to 45 year-olds who were currently renting would like to buy a home, more than two-thirds believed they had no prospect of doing so. Only 5 percent said they were managing to save toward a deposit.

Those who do save, like Ms. Ashton, who has set aside the equivalent of about $50,000, are unlikely to be able to afford a home in the same area they rent in. "I would have to look further out of London or for a smaller property," she said. So for now, like many, she is staying put.

One reason homeownership remains attractive in Britain is because property values dropped less drastically than in the United States, in part because of a shortage in housing. Prices in some large cities, including London, have even increased recently. People still perceive a home to be a better and safer investment than a pension fund, said Andrew Hull, research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research. "Homeownership is also culturally entrenched," he said. "Owning a home is the main way of showing you made it."

The big shift toward homeownership came in the 1980s with Mrs. Thatcher's right-to-buy policy, which allowed many in rented government housing to buy their homes. About two million homes were sold, earning the government tens of billions of pounds.

At the same time, the rental market became increasingly unattractive. Unlike Germany and other Continental European countries, Britain's private rental market is highly fragmented, with many landlords, and laws that generally favor the property owner. Most leases are for six months only, with landlords rarely agreeing to commit to longer terms; this makes renting highly insecure.

But the aftermath of the banking crisis and the recession made buying more difficult. Over the last 10 years the number of people who owned homes here dropped to 67 percent from 70 percent. Meanwhile, the number of people in private rented housing rose to 16 percent from 10 percent over the same period, according to the Office for National Statistics.

"A growing number of young would-be buyers are preparing for lifelong renting - by necessity rather than choice," said Jonathan Moore, director of, a property Web site.

Katherine Fyfe is one of them. Ms. Fyfe, a 42-year-old clinical systems teacher for the National Health Service in Devon, is eager to buy her own place, but her £15,000 in savings is not enough. "I've been clawing money together since my divorce in 2008, but it's not been easy as the cost of rent has bitten into most of my pay," she said. She pays £380 a month for a room in a house in Exeter that she shares with two others.

Rising demand has pushed up rents by an average of 4.4 percent over the last year, according to LSL Property Services. In London rents increased 7.8 percent.

Being unable to buy a home is just the latest blow for a British populace already battered by severe austerity and contraction. To reduce debt, the government is cutting pensions, welfare spending and public services, and has said it will eliminate 310,000 public-sector jobs by 2015.

Amid this economic hardship, some analysts warn that a wider shift toward renting could have adverse effects on society as a whole.

"It could open up a widening of the wealth gap that already exists between homeowners and non homeowners, and people in 'generation rent' risk insufficient finances at retirement," Alison Blackwell, a research director at the National Center for Social Research and author of the Halifax report, said.

It could also have implications for the cohesion of neighborhoods, she said. Renters tend to be less involved in local communities because they are forced to move more often. And the economy as a whole may suffer because renters tend to curb spending to save for a deposit.

For some, including Ms. Ashton, the prospect of buying in Britain seems so daunting that she even considered buying a property elsewhere. "I don't rule out buying abroad," she said. "There are many more appealing markets than Britain. Florida, for example."


16) Overlooked Vancouver Video Shows 'Kissing Couple' Was Knocked Down by Riot Police
June 24, 2011, 12:17 pm

As journalism in the Internet age starts to seem more and more like a remix of the 1966 film "Blow-Up," reporters have discovered video shot during a riot in Vancouver, British Columbia, last week that shows exactly what happened just before a news photographer snapped a beguiling image of a man kissing a woman in the middle of a street filled with riot police officers.

Last Wednesday, as my colleague Elizabeth A. Harris reported, this photograph, taken by Richard Lam, a photojournalist covering the riot after a crushing loss by the Vancouver Canucks hockey team, was initially thought to show a couple locked in a passionate embrace, oblivious to the mayhem surrounding them:
Rich Lam/Getty ImagesA couple kissing during a riot in Vancouver on Wednesday.

The couple, Alexandra Thomas and Scott Jones, later came forward and told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that they had been knocked down by riot police officers moments before the photograph was taken. Mr. Jones said that he kissed a frightened and hysterical Ms. Thomas "to calm her down." The CBC also obtained amateur video shot from high above the street that appeared to support the couple's version of events.

Last Saturday, a Vancouver resident named Chris Wing posted this video on YouTube, showing much more clearly that the couple was indeed knocked down and that Ms. Thomas was visibly upset at about the time the photograph must have been shot:

The video was initially overlooked by media organizations, but after it was copied by at least two other YouTube users (who both failed to credit Mr. Wing), it eventually came to the attention of journalists on Thursday, when it was broadcast on Canadian television.

In an e-mail to The Lede on Friday, Mr. Wing, a truck driver who calls himself "an aspiring photographer," added that, from his perspective, on a parking garage just above the street, it looked like Ms. Thomas and Mr. Jones "were participants in the riot" and "likely should have been arrested."

Mr. Wing also posted several still photographs of what he called the "Post Game Lame," on his Facebook page, including this one, which seems to show that, before the authorities rushed forward, some civilians along the front line were apparently more concerned with snapping photographs of the police officers than engaging them in combat:
Chris Wing, via FacebookLast week, before riot police officers charged at people in Vancouver during riots after a hockey game, some members of the crowd appeared more interested in photographing the authorities than fighting with them.

While the crowd-sourced investigation of this mysterious photograph does bring "Blow-Up" to mind, it even more closely echoes a satirical report from The Onion in 2009 about how thoroughly documented modern life is becoming: "Police Slog Through 40,000 Insipid Party Pics To Find Cause Of Dorm Fire."


17) Drug Makers Win Two Supreme Court Decisions
"In the first case, Pliva v. Mensing, No. 09-993, the court split 5 to 4 along ideological lines in ruling that the makers of generic drugs - which account for 75 percent of prescriptions dispensed nationwide - may not be sued under state law for failing to warn customers about the risks associated with their products."
June 23, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Thursday handed drug companies two significant victories, one limiting suits from people injured by generic drugs and the other striking down a law that banned some commercial uses of prescription data.

In the first case, Pliva v. Mensing, No. 09-993, the court split 5 to 4 along ideological lines in ruling that the makers of generic drugs - which account for 75 percent of prescriptions dispensed nationwide - may not be sued under state law for failing to warn customers about the risks associated with their products.

Two years ago, in Wyeth v. Levine, the court decided the same question in the context of brand-name drugs but came to the opposite conclusion. That decision was based in large part on the fact that such drug companies can sometimes change the labels on their products without permission from the Food and Drug Administration.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority on Thursday, acknowledged that in the eyes of injured consumers, the new distinction between generic and brand-name drugs "makes little sense." But he said it followed from the way the two kinds of companies are treated under federal law.

The manufacturers of generic drugs, he said, must use the same warning labels as the corresponding brand-name drugs, and they may not unilaterally alter those labels. That means, Justice Thomas wrote, that makers of generic drugs are caught in an impossible bind: they can comply with a state law requiring them to change their labels or the federal law prohibiting changes, but not both.

Given that impossibility, federal law pre-empts state law under the Constitution's supremacy clause, he wrote.

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the majority opinion invented "new principles of pre-emption law out of the air" and will lead to "absurd consequences."

"As the majority itself admits," Justice Sotomayor wrote, "a drug consumer's right to compensation for inadequate warnings now turns on the happenstance of whether her pharmacist filled her prescription with a brand-name drug or a generic."

The decision considered three consolidated cases brought by women who took generic metoclopramide, which is sold under the brand name Reglan. They took the drug for stomach ailments and developed a serious neurological disorder. Appeals courts ruled against the drug makers, saying that the federal regulatory regime did not block claims under state law.

The Supreme Court reversed those decisions on Thursday, rejecting what Justice Thomas called the "fair argument," that the defendants should have at least tried to persuade the federal drug agency to let them use a safer label.

But the process of asking the agency to change a label, he wrote, can be as complicated as a children's board game.

"If they had done so," Justice Thomas wrote of a possible request for a label change, "and if the F.D.A. decided there was sufficient supporting information, and if the F.D.A. undertook negotiations with the brand-name manufacturer, and if adequate label changes were decided on and implemented, then the manufacturers would have started a Mouse Trap game that eventually led to a better label on generic metoclopramide."

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Samuel A. Alito Jr. voted with the majority.

In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor wrote that she agreed that the makers of generic drugs could not unilaterally change their labels. But she said that did not allow them to remain idle after learning of safety issues.

"Had the manufacturers invoked the available mechanism for initiating label changes," she wrote, "they may well have been able to change their labels in sufficient time to warn" the women injured by their drugs.

The majority opinion, Justice Sotomayor said, may reduce the demand for generic drugs and put doctors in an ethical bind.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.

In a second decision on Thursday, Sorrell v. IMS Health, No. 10-779, a six-justice majority of the court struck down a Vermont law that banned some but not all uses of prescription information collected by pharmacies.

The law sought to restrict a form of marketing called "detailing," in which representatives of drug companies pitch information about new drugs to doctors known to be prescribing certain kinds of medicine. The companies obtain prescription records to help them identify the most suitable doctors from data mining companies, which buy the records from pharmacies. The records are meant to be stripped of information that identifies individual patients.

The law banned the use of prescription data for detailing but allowed other uses of it, including by law enforcement, insurance companies and journalists. Drug companies remained free to market their drugs in a more indiscriminate fashion, without knowing the prescribing habits of individual doctors.

The law was challenged by data mining and drug companies, who argued that the law's point seemed to be to protect doctors from hearing about more expensive drugs while the state pushed cheaper generic drugs. The state, as its lawyer Bridget C. Asay put it at the argument in April, said the law sought to address "an intrusive and invasive marketing practice."

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the case presented fundamental First Amendment issues because it restricted the use of truthful information in private hands based on the identity of the speaker and the content of its speech. He supported his decision with citations to classic First Amendment decisions outside the realm of commercial speech, including ones on prior restrain and incitement.

"If pharmaceutical marketing affects treatment decisions," he wrote, "it does so because doctors find it persuasive. Absent circumstances far from those presented here, the fear that speech might persuade provides no lawful basis for quieting it."

Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor joined the majority opinion.

Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Kagan, dissented. Justice Breyer said the majority had looked at the case through the wrong First Amendment lens.

It is a mistake, he said, "to apply a strict First Amendment standard virtually as a matter of course when a court reviews ordinary economic regulatory programs." Under ordinary standards applicable to commercial speech, Justice Breyer continued, the Vermont law should have been upheld.

"At best," he wrote, "the court opens a Pandora's box of First Amendment challenges to many ordinary regulatory practices that may only incidentally affect a commercial message."

The majority opinion is an echo, he continued, of Lochner v. New York, a 1905 decision that struck down a New York work-hours law and has become shorthand for improper interference with matters properly left to legislatures.

"At worst," Justice Breyer wrote of the majority opinion, "it reawakens Lochner's pre-New Deal threat of substituting judicial for democratic decision-making where ordinary economic regulation is at issue."


18) Court Says Ex-Wife May Retain Money From Ponzi Scheme
J.B. Nicholas/Bloomberg NewsStephen Walsh is fighting claims that he helped defraud investors of more than $550 million in a 13-year Ponzi scheme.
June 23, 2011, 8:37 pm

The Ponzi schemes that came to light during the depths of the financial crisis have spawned various lawsuits seeking to claw back money from divorce agreements.

Now, in one case, a court has said: Hands off.

On Thursday, New York's highest court ruled that a woman could keep proceeds from a divorce agreement, even if those proceeds were the ill-gotten gains of a financial fraud perpetrated by her former husband.

The decision is a blow to the federal government, which is seeking to force the woman to disgorge what it says are millions of dollars in stolen money.

"Ex-spouses have a reasonable expectation that, once their marriage has been dissolved and their property divided, they will be free to move on with their lives," said Judge Victoria A. Graffeo, writing for the New York State Court of Appeals.

The federal appeals court in Manhattan, which had asked the New York State court for guidance on the case, is now expected to prevent the federal government from seizing the woman's assets.

Thursday's ruling could also affect other divorce cases, like some involving victims of Bernard L. Madoff's huge Ponzi scheme.

The New York State Court of Appeals is hearing a case brought by a man seeking to rescind his divorce settlement with his ex-wife because a large chunk of the marital proceeds were in a Madoff account.

The husband, Steven Simkin, kept much of his money with Mr. Madoff after the divorce; his wife, Laura Blank, received cash. After losing the bulk of his assets in the Madoff fraud, Mr. Simkin now wants to rewrite their divorce agreement.

In Massachusetts, a Madoff victim has also sued his ex-wife to revise their separation pact. A family court judge dismissed the lawsuit this month, and the plaintiff's lawyer has appealed.

Thursday's ruling in New York involves Janet Schaberg, 55 years old, the former wife of Stephen Walsh, a former executive at WG Trading, a commodities firm in Greenwich, Conn.

In February 2009, federal authorities arrested Mr. Walsh and his business partner, Paul Greenwood, on charges that they had defrauded investors of more than $550 million in a 13-year Ponzi scheme.

Mr. Greenwood pleaded guilty last year; Mr. Walsh is fighting the case.

Although the government did not accuse Ms. Schaberg of having any knowledge or participation in the scheme, lawyers at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission went after her money, saying that much of it was ill-gotten proceeds from her former husband's fraud.

In August 2009, a federal judge agreed with the government, freezing most of Ms. Schaberg's assets, including $7.6 million in cash.

Ms. Schaberg, who divorced Mr. Walsh in 2007 after 25 years of marriage, appealed the judge's order.

Her lawyer, Steven Kessler, argued that once she and Mr. Walsh had divided their marital property and signed a divorce settlement agreement, the government could not force her to disgorge what were her rightful proceeds.

In an unusual request, the federal appeals court asked New York state's highest court for guidance on the divorce-law issues instead of a ruling.

The case, Judge Graffeo wrote, raised "difficult policy questions" that required the court to weigh the competing interests of returning stolen property to its rightful owners against the innocent former spouse of the defrauder.

In ruling for Ms. Schaberg, the court made an analogy between Ms. Schaberg and her divorce settlement proceeds and any person who unknowingly receives tainted money in a business transaction. For instance, the government could not seize stolen money from an architect whom a thief had paid to build his home.

The court said its decision to protect Ms. Schaberg, an innocent recipient of stolen funds, over the victims of the Ponzi scheme, was "rooted in New York's concern for finality in business transactions."

The decision emphasized that fraud victims could try to reclaim their stolen money if the former spouse was aware or participated in the crime.

Representatives for the S.E.C. and C.F.T.C. declined to comment.

New York divorce lawyers are divided on the decision. Michael D. Stutman, a divorce lawyer in Manhattan, is uninvolved in the Schaberg case, but along with three other lawyers, he submitted a brief that sided with the government.

"We disagree with the decision because someone in possession of stolen property should not be able to claim an ownership interest superior to the rightful owner," Mr. Stutman said.

"Here, however, largely because she received 'title' to the ill-gotten gains through the divorce, she trumps the claims of people from whom the money was stolen," he said.

Mr. Stutman also questioned the court's emphasis on what it called New York's "strong public policy of ensuring finality in divorce proceedings."

He said other facets of divorce law - the amount of child and spousal support, as well as child-custody issues - are all subject to change based on newly discovered facts.

"Why is finality all of a sudden so sacred that you're depriving victims of a fraud from access to their assets?" he asked.

Richard Emery, a lawyer for Ms. Blank, who is battling with her former husband in the New York case involving the Madoff fraud, applauded the ruling, calling it "the right result for families and society."

"The appeals court embraced the plight of a spouse who relies on the right to move on with her life after divorce," Mr. Emery said. "This consideration trumps the interest of even the federal government."


19) The Imperialist Suicide Epidemic in India
by Larry Everest
June 19, 2011

"The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbors prepared their father's body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home. As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India's economic boom, they now face working as slave labor for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low.

"Shankara, respected farmer, loving husband and father, had taken his own life. Less than 24 hours earlier, facing the loss of his land due to debt, he drank a cupful of chemical insecticide. Unable to pay back the equivalent of two years' earnings, he was in despair. He could see no way out."1

Shankara's story is not unique-or even unusual. Between 1995 and 2009, 241,679 farmers in India committed suicide, and by the end of 2010 the number had probably risen to 250,000-a quarter of a million people. In 2009 alone, 17,638 farmers committed suicide-an average of one every 30 minutes.

And it's even worse. These shocking figures "considerably underestimate the actual number of farmer suicides taking place," according to a new study by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, "Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights and the Agrarian Crisis in India."2 For instance, women are often excluded from suicide statistics because they don't have title to their land and therefore are not counted as "farmers."
The Roots of India's Farmer Suicide Epidemic

This suicide epidemic is not a product of "human nature," or India's culture. Mass farmer suicides were unknown in India before the 1990s. Nor are they random and unexplainable: they follow a pattern. 86.5 percent of the farmers who commit suicide are in debt. Like Shankara, 40 percent had suffered a crop failure, the majority are small farmers (with less than five acres of land), and are growing cash crops for export. Cotton is one of India's main cash crops, and one of the highest concentrations of suicides is among cotton farmers like Shankara. Roughly half of all farmer suicides occur in the Vidarbha region of central India, where there are 3.2 million cotton farmers.3

What is the connection between crushing debt, failed harvests, small plots, and cash crops? Why have hundreds of thousands felt they had no way out but to take their own lives? What does this epidemic show about India, a country the U.S. lauds as "the world's largest democracy" and celebrates as a model for economic development? And what does it show about U.S. capitalism-imperialism and how it impacts millions upon millions around the world?
Step Back... and Survey the Globe

To answer these questions, we can't just look at India's cotton industry, or Indian agriculture overall, or even just India. You have to step back and look at what kind of system we live in, how it dominates and shapes the whole globe-especially oppressed countries like India.

We live in a capitalist system. That means that all production, including of basic necessities, is driven and shaped by the maximizing of profit. Today the tentacles of that capitalist system envelop the whole world-capitalism has become imperialism. A small handful of rich, capitalist-imperialist countries dominate the rest of the planet, with the United States at the top of this global system. These imperialist powers dominate the oppressed nations-where over 80 percent of the world's people live-economically, politically, and militarily. The imperialists set the terms for what will be produced in these countries-not to meet the needs of their peoples, but to further the interests of the imperialists, in particular their profitable accumulation of capital.

Imperialist investment is not-as we're told by the capitalist media-a "boon" or a "handout" for people in oppressed countries. As Raymond Lotta has written, "the economic structure of the oppressed nations (like India) is shaped mainly by forces external to them: what is produced, exported and imported, financed, etc., reflects first and foremost their subordination, and not principally the internal requirements and interrelations of different sectors. They answer to another's 'heartbeat.'"4

Globalization, including Third World countries becoming further integrated into and subordinated to imperialism, has intensified since the end of World War 2. Imperialism's need to further integrate and subordinate Third World countries like India took a leap following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union-which by the mid-1950s was an imperialist, not a socialist, country. Suddenly, the global political, economic, and military landscape was radically changed. The U.S. and Western imperialist powers had triumphed in the Cold War. The U.S. saw the need and the opportunity to accelerate capitalist "globalization": to break down barriers to global investment, exploitation, and trade, including opening up countries formerly allied with the Soviet Union or formerly closed to the West.

Poor countries around the world, in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, have been subjected to Structural Adjustment Programs imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. These programs require that Third World governments meet strict conditions to get new loans or to obtain lower interest rates on existing loans. Both the IMF and World Bank are controlled by the imperialist powers, especially the United States. And this restructuring creates more favorable conditions for imperialist trade and investment.5

Imperialist restructuring has led to enormous changes in agricultural production in the oppressed countries. They have been more deeply integrated into the workings of an imperialist_dominated global food system. Agriculture has been further "industrialized" and reshaped to better serve the imperialists. Traditional subsistence farming (based on producing staples like corn, beans, etc.) has more and more been overrun and swallowed up by imperialist_controlled agribusiness.

India, the world's second most populous country, was one of the U.S.'s prime targets and has been ground zero for this agricultural restructuring. India was a longtime ally of the Soviet Union, and most of its economy was controlled and directed by the Indian state, which represented the interests of Indian capitalism and landed property, including semi-feudal landlordism.
Capitalist Globalization's Devastating Impact on India's Agriculture

India remains a predominantly agrarian society, with over 800 million people (of the 1.2 billion total population)-nearly 70 percent of the population-living in rural areas. Over half of India's workforce of nearly 500 million works in agriculture.6

The world's capitalist powers say that poor countries being integrated into the world imperialist system will lead to rapid economic growth and development and rising standards of living for all. When President Obama addressed India's Parliament in November 2010, he praised India for not "resisting the global economy," instead becoming "one of its engines." He claimed this had unleashed "an economic marvel that has lifted tens of millions from poverty and created one of the world's largest middle classes," and that advanced technology was now "empowering farmers and women" in India.7

But what globalization has actually meant for the masses of people in India is intensified exploitation, sweatshops, and growing disparity between the rich and poor. After 25 years of market reform, the average calorie intake in India has declined! And globalization has meant the ruin of many farmers, driving them into desperation. Let's look, for example, at how imperialist globalization has affected cotton farmers in India, who are a lot of the farmers committing suicide.
Compete on the Global Market... Or Go Under

Beginning in the 1990s, the U.S., the World Bank, and the IMF pressured India to privatize many of its state-owned enterprises, slash regulations on business, cut spending on social services and subsidies to small farmers, tear down barriers to foreign investment and trade, and integrate its economy, including agriculture, more closely into the imperialist-dominated global capitalist order.

Under this "neo-liberal" program, the Indian government reduced subsidies and access to credit for farmers, who had mainly been raising food crops for domestic consumption. It pushed farmers to switch from foodstuffs to cash crops for sale on the global market. And as part of this, the Indian state has promoted the expansion of cotton growing. Today there are 4 million cotton farmers in India, which is now the world's second largest cotton producer.8

However, to sell their cotton, Indian farmers now faced the volatile ups and downs of the global market, and competition with giant multi-national corporations based in the imperialist countries, which had enormous advantages in technology, marketing, and financial resources.

The report, "Every 30 Minutes" says, "In order to compete on the global market, then, Indian cotton farmers desperately turned to using new, higher-priced inputs," and "the cotton market has become increasingly commercialized, and is dominated by a small group of multinational corporations that exert increasing control over the cost, quality, and availability of agricultural inputs."

In India, giant imperialist monopolies exerted this control and extracted huge profits through the sale of genetically modified cottonseed, especially Bollgard Bt cottonseed, made by the U.S. chemical giant Monsanto, the world's largest seed producer.

When Bt cottonseed was approved by the Indian state in 2002, Monsanto launched an aggressive sales program in India with salesmen going from village to village promising these seeds would yield higher outputs-and income-including because they're resistant to some pests, so less can be spent on pesticides. By 2009, a majority of India's cotton farmers invested in the seed, and 85 percent of cotton produced in India was Bt cotton.9
"They Consume the Very Pesticide That They Purchased, in Order to Kill Themselves"

Farmer Shende shouldered at least four debts at the time of his death: one from a bank, two procured on his behalf by his sisters and one from a local moneylender. The night before his suicide, he borrowed one last time. From a fellow villager, he took the equivalent of $9, roughly the cost of a one-liter bottle of pesticide, which he used to take his life.10

Bt cottonseeds cost from two to 10 times as much as regular cottonseed, and can end up accounting for 50 percent of farming costs. Making matters worse, farmers are often prevented from reusing these genetically modified Bt seeds without paying a fee each year to Monsanto-which owns the "intellectual property rights" to the seed.11

Of the 89.35 million farmer households in India, small and marginal farmers make up 84 percent of all agricultural land holdings. These small farmers on average earn less than $2 per day, according to a 2003 study.12

And the workings of imperialism have increasingly forced these kinds of farmers into debt, squeezing them from two sides. On the one hand, these farmers have to pay more for seed, fertilizers, etc., so their costs have gone up. On the other hand, in the name of neo-liberal reform, the government has cut back in providing low-cost credit to small farmers while credit is channeled towards the largest, most profitable agricultural enterprises. This has meant that farmers have had to seek out sources of credit from local, predatory money lenders. And they end up going ever deeper into debt and desperation.

While growing Bt cotton for the global capitalist market can produce high returns, it is also highly precarious and unpredictable. Prices can swing sharply on the world market. Today the price of cotton in real terms is one-twelfth what it was 30 years ago. Also, Bt cotton requires a larger and steadier flow of water than traditional seed, yet 65 percent of cotton farmers have no access to irrigation and depend on monsoon rains. (Only 37 percent of rural households in India have electricity, and 80,000 villages are not even connected to the grid.13) Less than an average rainfall can wipe out their crop, and India's rainfall and weather patterns have become increasingly irregular, with annual monsoons failing three times in the last 10 years and drought impacting some provinces. These changes may be connected to global warming.14

Meanwhile, competition from cotton imported from the U.S. and other major capitalist countries-where farmers and agricultural corporations have much greater access to capital and advanced technology-is driving down cotton prices and ruining tens of thousands of Indian farmers.

Between 1997 and 2004, India imported some eight million bales of American cotton. This cotton was being sold at a price 50 to 65 percent lower than the cost of production because it was being subsidized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which spent $245.2 billion to subsidize U.S. cotton farmers from 1995 to 2009, as part of promoting the interests of U.S. capital around the world.15

Smita Narula, co-author of "Every Thirty Minutes," sums up the impact of all this on tens of thousands of India's farmers: "So they've gone into insurmountable debt to purchase the inputs. They don't have the yields. They repeat this cycle for a couple of seasons. And by the end of it, they're simply trapped in a cycle that they can't get out of, and they consume the very pesticide that they purchased, in order to kill themselves."16
India's Agrarian Crisis

The plight of Indian cotton farmers is part of a broader crisis in Indian agriculture, and most farmers facing ruin have no place to turn. India's much-talked about information technology and business processing industries-the so_called new economy-employ only 1.3 million out of India's working population of nearly 500 million.17

Oppressive traditional feudal and patriarchal relations also weigh heavily on Indian farmers. Those with daughters have to pay dowries to a prospective husband's family in order for them to be married:

"Farmers who pay these dowries fall further into debt-or face the social stigma of being unable to pay-and may commit suicide as a result. Even more startlingly, in Andhra Pradesh, unmarried daughters, wracked with guilt over their fathers' deaths, have committed suicide themselves. Finally, when husbands commit suicide, they not only leave their wives with their debt but also with the responsibility to marry off their daughters. As farmer-activist Sunanda Jayaram has noted, 'There are debts hanging on [women's] heads which they did not incur. There are daughters whose marriages are pending. The pressure is unending.'"18

Indian farmers can no longer count on their own food production to stave off hunger and are increasingly subject to the global food crisis created by imperialism. The Revolution article, "The Global Food Crisis...and the Ravenous System of Capitalism" points out:

"Third World countries have been forced to shift much of their food production away from subsistence crops to high value exports. They have been pressured to open up their markets to cheap food imports. As a result, local food production for domestic consumption has been undercut. Now these countries are caught in a vise: The price of imported food has gone way up at the same time that the ability to produce food for local consumption has been eroded."19

In an article about the food crisis in India, Utsa Patnaik wrote, "The colonized Indian peasant starved while exporting wheat to England, and the modern Indian peasant is eating less while growing gherkins and roses for rich consumers abroad." Today, one quarter of India's population-some 300 million people-does not have enough money to eat adequately.20
"The Largest Wave of Recorded Suicides in Human History"

Imperialism has everything to do with the epidemic of farmer suicides in India. And the United States, in particular, plays a major role in shaping India's murderous agricultural system. During her visit to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in July 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that agriculture would be the "strongest and most important pillar" of the strategic partnership between the U.S. and India.

What's taken place in India over the past 16 years represents, in the words of one Indian researcher, "the largest wave of recorded suicides in human history."21

What makes this such a towering crime is that it's totally unnecessary. There is no reason that agriculture and food and other needed goods can only be produced if a profit is turned and the interests of a handful of imperialist powers are served. The basis exists, in human knowledge, technology, and resources, to solve the needs-including for food and clothing-of humanity. But what stands in the way of this is a world economic system of capitalism driven by profit.

Unless and until this system is abolished through revolution, and is replaced by a new socialist system, there will continue to be massive hunger, starvation, dislocation-and yes, farmers will be driven to drink pesticide out of horrific desperation. Under socialism, making sure people have enough food will be the first priority in agricultural production and part of building a whole world of shared abundance for everybody.

India's epidemic of farmer suicides, and understanding that it has been spawned by the workings of the capitalist-imperialist system, speaks powerfully-and achingly-to the urgent need for the revolutions that can bring that better world into being.

The Bay Area Revolution Writers Group assisted with research for this article.

1. Andrew Malone, "The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops," Eurasia Critic, October 2008 ( [back]

2. Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, "Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights, and the Agrarian Crisis in India," New York: NYU School of Law, 2011 ( [back]

3. Somini Sengupta, "On India's Farms, a Plague of Suicide," New York Times, September 19, 2006 (; Alex Renton, "India's hidden climate change catastrophe," The Independent, January 2, 2011 ( 2173995.html). [back]

4. Raymond Lotta, America in Decline, p. 107; cited in "The Collapse of Argentina's Economy: Free Market Madness," Revolutionary Worker #1152, May 26, 2002, [back]

5. "The Global Food Crisis...and the Ravenous System of Capitalism," Revolution #128, May 1, 2008 ( [back]

6. CIA, The World Factbook, 2011 ( [back]

7. "Remarks by the President to the Joint Session of the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, India Parliament House, New Delhi, India," White House, November 8, 2010 ( [back]

8. PBS, "The Dying Fields," August 28, 2007 (; Emeka Osakwe, "Cotton Fact Sheet: India," International Cotton Advisory Committee, May 19, 2009 ( [back]

9. "Every Thirty Minutes." [back]

10. Sengupta, September 19, 2006. [back]

11. "Every Thirty Minutes"; PBS, "The Dying Fields," August 28, 2007. [back]

12. "Situation Assessment Survey of Farmers (SAS)", conducted in India in the year 2003 by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), cited in Rajiv Mehta, "Situation Assessment Survey for Farm Sector Policy Formulation," September 2009 ( [back]

13. Renton, January 2, 2011; "Every Thirty Minutes"; "Briefing Book-India," Stanford University, Social Entrepreneurship Startup; Winter 2003 ( [back]

14. Renton, January 2, 2011. [back]

15. Srijit Mishra, "Suicide of Farmers in Maharashtra," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, 26 January 2006 (; PBS, "The Dying Fields." [back]

16. "'Every 30 Minutes': Crushed by Debt and Neoliberal Reforms, Indian Farmers Commit Suicide at Staggering Rate," Democracy Now!, May 11, 2011 ( [back]

17. Sengupta, September. 19, 2006. [back]

18. "Every Thirty Minutes," p. 9. [back]

19. "The Global Food Crisis...and the Ravenous System of Capitalism," Revolution #128, May 1, 2008. [back]

20. Utsa Patnaik, "Origins of the Food Crisis in India and Developing Countries," Monthly Review, July-August ( [back]

21. P. Sainath, "Neo-Liberal Terrorism in India: The Largest Wave of Suicides in History," Counterpunch, February 12, 2009, (, cited in "Every Thirty Minutes." [back]


20) Epidemic: Over 400,000 Traumatic Brain Injuries for Vets Coming from Iraq and Afghanistan
By Conn Hallinan, AlterNet
Posted on June 21, 2011, Printed on June 24, 2011

"We are facing a massive mental health problem as a result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a country we have not responded adequately to the problem. Unless we act urgently and wisely, we will be dealing with an epidemic of service related psychological wounds for years to come." -- Bobby Muller, President Veterans for America

"The multiple nature of it [multiple tours and longer deployments] is unprecedented. People just get blasted and blasted and blasted." -- Maj. Connie Johnmeyer, 332nd Medical Group

According to official Defense Department (DOD) figures, 332,000 soldiers have suffered brain injuries since 2000, although most independent experts estimate that the number is over 400,000. Many of these are mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), a term that is profoundly misleading.

As David Hovda, director of the Brain Injury Research Center at the University of California at Los Angeles, points out, "I don't know what makes it 'mild,' because it can evolve into anxiety disorders, personality changes, and depression." It can also set off a constellation of physical disabilities from chronic pain to sexual dysfunction and insomnia.

MTBI is defined as any incident that produces unconsciousness lasting for up to a half hour or creates an altered state consciousness. It is the signature wound for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where roadside bombs are the principal weapon for insurgents.

Most soldiers recover from mTBI, but between five and 15 percent do not. According to Dr. Elaine Peskind of the University of Washington Medical School, "The estimate of the number who returned with symptomatic mild traumatic brain injury due to blast exposure has varied from the official VA [Veterans Administration] number of 9 percent officially diagnosed with mTBI to over 20 percent, and, I think, ultimately it will be higher than that."

Serious consequences from mTBI are increased when troops are subjected to multiple explosions and "just get blasted and blasted and blasted," in the words of Maj. Connie Johnmeyer. Out of two million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 800,000 have had multiple deployments, many up to five times or more.

But mTBI is difficult to diagnose because it does not show up on standard CAT scans and MRIs. "Our scans show nothing," says Dr. Michael Weiner, professor of radiology, psychiatry and neurology at the University of California at San Francisco and director of the Center for Imaging Neurodegenerative Disease at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center.

They do now.

An MRI set to track the flow of water through the brain's neurons, has turned up anomalies that indicate the presence of mTBI. However, the military has blocked informing patients of results of the research, and if history is any guide, the Pentagon will do its best to shelve or ignore the results.

The DOD has long resisted the diagnosis of mTBI, as it has avoided paying for a successful - but expensive - way to treat it. The price of that resistance is escalating suicide rates and domestic violence incidents among returning soldiers. In 2010, almost as many soldiers committed suicide as fell in battle.

MTBI is hardly new. Some 5.3 million people in the U.S. are currently hospitalized or in residential facilities because of it, and its social consequences are severe.

A Mt. Sinai Hospital study of 100 homeless men in New York found that 80 percent of them had suffered brain trauma, much of it from child abuse. A study of 5,000 homeless people in New Haven discovered that those who had suffered a blow that knocked them unconscious or into an altered state were twice as likely to have alcohol and drug problems and to be depressed. It also found mTBI injuries were correlated with suicide attempts, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. And a recent study by Dr. Elaine Peskind of the University of Washington School of Medicine found that mTBI is a risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease.

In spite of the documented consequences of mTBI, the military has been extremely tardy in dealing with it. Part of the problem is military culture itself. The Pentagon found that 60 percent of the soldiers who suffered from the symptoms of mTBI refused help because they feared their unit leaders would treat them differently. Many were also afraid that if they reported their condition it would prevent them from getting jobs as police and fire fighters after they got out of the service.

Even if soldiers wanted treatment, there are few resources available to them. "There are two things going on regarding vets," says Col. (ret) Will Wilson, chair of the American Psychological Association's Division 19 (Military Psychology). "One, there are not enough care providers available, and, two, there are not enough people focusing on the problem outside the military."

Indeed, there are not enough military psychologists to treat the problem, and since the military pays below-market rates for civilian psychologists, up to 30 percent of private psychologists are unwilling to take on soldiers as patients. The cheapest and easiest solution is to shoot up the vets with drugs. A study by Veterans for America found that some soldiers were taking up to 20 different medications, many of which canceled out the effect of others.

The situation appears to be even worse for National Guard and Reserve units, who make up almost 50 percent of the troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Veterans for America found that such troops "are experiencing rates of mental health problems 44 percent higher than their active duty counterparts" and that their health care is generally inferior.

A Harvard study found that 1.8 million vets under 65 have no health care or access to the Veterans Administration. "Most uninsured veterans are low-to-middle income workers who are too poor to afford private coverage but are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or free VA care," the study found.

Treating mTBI injuries is difficult, but by no means impossible. Dr. Alisa Gean, chief of Neuroradiology at San Francisco General Hospital, who has worked with wounded soldiers at U.S. Army's Regional Medical Center at Landstuhl, Germany says the old conventional wisdom that brain damage was untreatable is wrong. "We now know that the brain can heal. It has an intrinsic plasticity that allows it to recover, and this is particularly true for the young brain."

A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that "neurons in the adult brain can remodel their connections," thus "overturning a century of prevailing thought."

One method that has worked effectively is cognitive rehabilitation therapy (CRT) that retrains patients for tasks like counting, cooking, and memory. But CRT takes time and it can be expensive, ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 per patient. However, the DOD's health program - Tricare - refuses to endorse CRT, because it says there is no scientific evidence that justifies the expense involved.

However, an investigation by T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Daniel Zwerdling of National Public Radio found that the vast majority of researchers, even those associated with the DOD, sharply disagreed with Tricare's evaluation of CRT. According to the two reporters, "A panel of 50 civilian and military brain specialists convened by the Pentagon unanimously concluded that cognitive therapy was an effective treatment and would help many brain damaged troops."

The therapy is also endorsed by the National Institutes of Health, the National Academy of Neurophysiology and the British Society of Rehabilitative Medicine.

Instead of accepting the advice of its own researchers, however, Tricare hired ECRI- a company which had already done a study concluding that CRT was ineffective-to examine the therapy. But critics charge that the study was so narrow, and the assumptions behind it so loaded, that it was almost a given that the study would conclude the benefits of cognitive therapy were "inconclusive." Outside researchers blasted the ECRI study, one of them describing it as "hooey" and "baloney."

In spite of the criticism, then Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England concluded, "The rigor of the researchhas not met the required standard."

However, Miller and Zwerdling concluded that Tricare's resistance to CRT was not about science, but the bottom dollar. According to the reporters, a Tricare-sponsored study found "that comprehensive rehabilitative therapy could cost as much as $51,480 per patient. By contrast, sending patients home from the hospital to get a weekly phone call from a therapist amounted to only $504 a patient."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already made it clear that he intends to cut the military's $50 billion annual health budget. No matter how effective CRT is, it's not likely to get past the brass, who would rather spend the money on weapon systems than on healing the men and women who they so casually put in harm's way.

So far, the military has put the clamps on the new MRI technique. Dr. David L. Brody, an author of the study, told the New York Times that researchers were blocked from giving the MRI results to patients."We were specifically directed by the Department of Defense not to so," adding, "It was anguishing for us, because as a doctor I would like to be able to help them in any way. But that was not the protocol we agreed to."

Given that mTBI is so difficult to diagnose, and sufferers are many times told there is nothing wrong with them, that seems an especially cruel protocol. "Many of them [the doctors] were hoping we could give results to their care providers to document or validate their concerns."

In the end it will come down to treatment, and whether the wounded vets will get the care they need, or sit by a phone and wait for their once a week call from a therapist.

Read more of Conn Hallinan's work at Dispatches from the Edge.


21) If Americans Don't Get Hurt, War Is No Longer War
"U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors."
Jonathan Schell
June 21, 2011

The Obama administration has come up with a remarkable justification for going to war against Libya without the Congressional approval required by the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

American planes are taking off, they are entering Libyan air space, they are locating targets, they are dropping bombs, and the bombs are killing and injuring people and destroying things. It is war. Some say it is a good war and some say it is a bad war, but surely it is a war.

Nonetheless, the Obama administration insists it is not a war. Why? Because, according to "United States Activities in Libya," a thirty-two-page report that the administration released last week, "U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors."

In other words, the balance of forces is so lopsided in favor of the United States that no Americans are dying or are threatened with dying. War is only war, it seems, when Americans are dying, when we die. When only they, the Libyans, die, it is something else for which there is as yet apparently no name. When they attack, it is war. When we attack, it is not.

This cannot be classified as anything but strange thinking and it depends, in turn, on a strange fact: that, in our day, it is indeed possible for some countries (or maybe only our own), for the first time in history, to wage war without receiving a scratch in return. This was nearly accomplished in the bombing of Serbia in 1999, in which only one American plane was shot down (and the pilot rescued).

The epitome of this new warfare is the predator drone, which has become an emblem of the Obama administration. Its human operators can sit at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada or in Langley, Virginia, while the drone floats above Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen or Libya, pouring destruction down from the skies. War waged in this way is without casualties for the wager because none of its soldiers are near the scene of battle-if that is even the right word for what is going on.

Some strange conclusions follow from this strange thinking and these strange facts. In the old scheme of things, an attack on a country was an act of war, no matter who launched it or what happened next. Now, the Obama administration claims that if the adversary cannot fight back, there is no war.

It follows that adversaries of the United States have a new motive for, if not equaling us, then at least doing us some damage. Only then will they be accorded the legal protections (such as they are) of authorized war. Without that, they are at the mercy of the whim of the president.

The War Powers Resolution permits the president to initiate military operations only when the nation is directly attacked, when there is "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." The Obama administration, however, justifies its actions in the Libyan intervention precisely on the grounds that there is no threat to the invading forces, much less the territories of the United States.

There is a parallel here with the administration of George W. Bush on the issue of torture (though not, needless to say, a parallel between the Libyan war itself, which I oppose but whose merits can be reasonably debated, and torture, which was wholly reprehensible). President Bush wanted the torture he was ordering not to be considered torture, so he arranged to get lawyers in the Justice department to write legal-sounding opinions excluding certain forms of torture, such as waterboarding, from the definition of the word. Those practices were thenceforward called "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Now, Obama wants his Libyan war not to be a war and so has arranged to define a certain kind of war-the American-casualty-free kind-as not war (though without even the full support of his own lawyers). Along with Libya, a good English word-war-is under attack.

In these semantic operations of power upon language, a word is separated from its commonly accepted meaning. The meanings of words are one of the few common grounds that communities naturally share. When agreed meanings are challenged, no one can use the words in question without stirring up spurious "debates," as happened with the word torture. For instance, mainstream news organizations, submissive to George Bush's decisions on the meanings of words, stopped calling waterboarding torture and started calling it other things, including "enhanced interrogation techniques," but also "harsh treatment," "abusive practices," and so on.

Will the news media now stop calling the war against Libya a war? No euphemism for war has yet caught on, though soon after launching its Libyan attacks, an administration official proposed the phrase "kinetic military action" and more recently, in that thirty-two-page report, the term of choice was "limited military operations." No doubt someone will come up with something catchier soon.

How did the administration twist itself into this pretzel? An interview that Charlie Savage and Mark Landler of the New York Times held with State Department legal advisor Harold Koh sheds at least some light on the matter. Many administrations and legislators have taken issue with the War Powers Resolution, claiming it challenges powers inherent in the presidency. Others, such as Bush administration Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, have argued that the Constitution's plain declaration that Congress "shall declare war" does not mean what most readers think it means, and so leaves the president free to initiate all kinds of wars.

Koh has long opposed these interpretations-and in a way, even now, he remains consistent. Speaking for the administration, he still upholds Congress's power to declare war and the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution. "We are not saying the president can take the country into war on his own," he told the Times. "We are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of 'hostilities' envisioned by the War Powers Resolution."

In a curious way, then, a desire to avoid challenge to existing law has forced assault on the dictionary. For the Obama administration to go ahead with a war lacking any form of Congressional authorization, it had to challenge either law or the common meaning of words. Either the law or language had to give.

It chose language.


22) Bombs Over Libya
Bill the Butcher
Tuesday, 21 June 2011

High over the Mediterranean Sea, two bombs were hanging side by side from the wing hardpoints of a NATO fighter jet, on its way to bomb Tripoli.

Because the flight was long and they had nothing better to do, the two bombs were chatting.

One of the bombs was a Smart Bomb, and justifiably proud of the fact. The other, a mere dumb bomb, humbly listened to its colleague, and only once in a while ventured a comment.

"I," boasted the Smart Bomb, "am the result of years of research and effort. I'm one of the most advanced pieces of weaponry the world has ever seen. Scientists in laboratories have worked their fingers to the bone to produce me. As for you-"

"I'm a mere dumb bomb," the dumb bomb replied. "There is nothing new about me."

"See that you do not forget it," sniffed the Smart Bomb. "I don't even know why they bother with you. You're just a waste of payload, a source of drag. The pilot should just dump you into the sea."

"I'm sure you're right," the dumb bomb said. "But-"

"Don't interrupt!" the Smart Bomb snapped. "I was saying that I am a work of art. I have laser, inertial and GPS guidance. I can glide to a target from fifty kilometres away. Quite as much money has gone into my making as would equip and run three schools and two hospitals in some Third World hellhole of a country."

"Mightn't the money have been better used in building schools and hospitals?" the dumb bomb wondered.

"You do not understand finances or What Is Good For The Economy. My making has enriched great corporations led by men in elegant business suits, who sit in offices in skyscrapers and own millions of shares in all the most important companies in the world. My creation created Wealth. What Wealth would a school or hospital in a Third World hellhole create? Nothing."

"True. You understand all these things. You are a marvel."

"I am. I never, ever, fail; I'm incapable of failure. Whereas you just fall at a target and sometimes hit it, sometimes not. And if you do hit it, you sometimes explode, sometimes not."

"I can't help it," the dumb bomb apologised. "My design is old, you see."

"I don't see why they brought you along at all," the Smart Bomb said condescendingly, "unless it's to see how the job should be done properly. Maybe after you watch a master like me in action, you'll properly appreciate how primitive you are, and how unworthy of hanging under the same wing as the likes of me. You are only fit to be used on carping peaceniks who protest against the Mission we are on."

"What exactly is the mission we are on?" the dumb bomb wondered. "Are we at war?"

"Not at all," the Smart Bomb said loftily. "The President of the Universe has declared that these are not hostilities[1] and that we are on a humanitarian mission."

"A humanitarian mission? How are we to fulfil that?" the dumb bomb wondered.

"Why, by bombing the hell out of the Tyrant, of course!" the Smart Bomb snorted. "After all, he is a Legitimate Military Target[2], even though the Mission Objective authorised by the United Nations is not for his removal."

"So, he is a Tyrant? How is that so?"

"He is...tyrannising his people. They all want freedom from him. That's why a few thousand of them[3] have taken up arms against him and are fighting in the desert. They are glorious freedom fighters and need to be helped and supported to win."

"If they all want freedom from him," the dumb bomb said, "why are only a few thousand fighting? What about the rest? Are they swimming in the sea?[4]"

"You do not understand these things," the Smart Bomb said. "These people are heroic freedom fighters, even though they have fought against the President of the Universe earlier in our other Glorious Humanitarian Missions. They deserve support here because they are fighting a Tyrant."

"And if they can overthrow the Tyrant, what will they do? Bring in freedom? What if they fail, or, if they don't fail, they don't bring in freedom? What happens then?"

"That is for the President of the Universe to decide. After all, He is a Man of Peace, and knows what the right thing is to do, anywhere and at any time. All I have to do is blow the Tyrant away, or some of his tanks."

"I'm, of course, only a dumb bomb," the dumb bomb said humbly, "but I heard someone saying the Tyrant had ordered his troops to use light weapons and trucks, not tanks. Only the rebels have tanks, I heard."

"That's as may be," said the Smart Bomb. "I trust to my magical sensors and capabilities to do exactly what I have to. Nobody will fool me."

"And once the Tyrant has been overthrown and freedom won," the dumb bomb said, "what Wealth will be created?"
"Why, from Oil and Reconstruction. Humanitarian Missions are all about creating Wealth. Tyranny stops us from creating Wealth. Therefore Tyranny has to go."

"I see," the dumb bomb said. "Thanks for explaining."

The coast of Libya came up underneath. "Here I go," said the Smart Bomb. "Watch and weep, dimbrain." It fell away from the wing, coasting easily through the night air, and crashed into an orphanage, killing fifteen children.

The dumb bomb? It went back home, still under the jet's wing, having watched and wept, as advised.

NATO denied, of course, that any children had been killed at all.

"Bill the Butcher is a dentist by profession, a writer by vocation, and the author of several novels, plays, and a few hundred stories and poems. He's also a kind of know-it-all and not really a nice person in any sense of the word._ --Bill the Butcher


23) Trial Begins: Did New Orleans Media Contribute to Police Violence After Hurricane Katrina?
by: Jordan Flaherty, Truthout | News Analysis
Friday 24 June 2011

Jury selection began June 22 in what observers have called the most important trial New Orleans has seen in a generation. It concerns a shocking case of police brutality that has already redefined this city's relationship to its police department, and radically rewritten the official narrative of what happened in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina. Five police officers are facing charges of shooting unarmed African-Americans in cold blood, killing two and wounding four, and then conspiring to hide evidence. Five officers who participated in the conspiracy have already pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against their fellow officers.

The shootings occurred on September 4, 2005, as two families were fleeing Katrina's floodwaters, crossing New Orleans' Danziger Bridge to get to dry land. Officers, who apparently heard a radio report about shootings in the area, drove up, leapt out of their vehicle and began firing. Ronald Madison, a mentally challenged man, was shot in the back at least six times, then reportedly stomped and kicked by an officer until he was dead. His brother Lance Madison was arrested on false charges. James Brissette, a high school student, was shot seven times and died at the scene. Susan Bartholomew, 38, was wounded so badly her arm was shot off of her body. Jose Holmes Jr. was shot several times, then, as he lay bleeding, an officer stood over him and fired point blank at his stomach. Two other relatives of Bartholomew were also badly wounded.

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Danziger is one of at least nine recent incidents involving the New Orleans Police Department being investigated by the US Justice Department, several of which took place in the days after the city was flooded. Officers have recently been convicted by federal prosecutors in two other high-profile trials. In April, two officers were found guilty in the beating of death of Raymond Robair, a handyman from the Treme neighborhood. In December, a jury convicted three officers and acquitted two in killing Henry Glover, a 31-year-old from New Orleans' West Bank neighborhood, and burning his body.

From Survivors to Looters

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, people around the world felt sympathy for New Orleans. They saw images of residents trapped on rooftops by floodwaters, needing rescue by boat and helicopter. But then stories began to come out about looters and gangs among the survivors and the official response shifted from humanitarian aid to military operation. Then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco sent in National Guard troops, announcing. "They have M-16s and are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will." Warren Riley - at that time the second in charge of the police department - reportedly ordered officers to "take the city back and shoot looters."

In the following days, several civilians - almost all of them African-American - were killed under suspicious circumstances in incidents involving police and white vigilantes. For years, family members and advocates called for official investigations and were rebuffed. "Right after the hurricane there were individuals and organizations trying to talk about what happened on Danziger," says Dana Kaplan, executive director of Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL), a legal and advocacy organization based in New Orleans. "But their voices were marginalized."

There is evidence that local media could have done a better job. Alex Brandon, a photographer for New Orleans' Times-Picayune newspaper, who later went on to work for Associated Press, testified in the Glover trial that he knew details about the police killings that he didn't reveal. "He saw things and heard things that proved to be useful in a criminal investigation. He didn't report them as news," wrote Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry after the Glover trial concluded.

Former Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan, who led an initial investigation of the Danziger officers, believes an indifferent local media bears partial responsibility for the years of cover-up. "They were looking for heroes," he says. "They had a cozy relationship with the police. They got tips from the police; they were in bed with the police. It was an atmosphere of tolerance for atrocities from the police. They abdicated their responsibility to be critical in their reporting. If a few people got killed that was a small price to pay."

Family members and advocates tried to get the stories of police violence out through protests, press conferences, and other means. Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund, an organization dedicated to justice in reconstruction, held a tribunal in 2006 where they presented accusations of police violence - among other charges - to a panel of international judges, including members of Parliament from seven countries. Activists even brought charges to the United Nations, filing a shadow report in February 2008 with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva. But it was not until late 2008 that a journalist named AC Thompson did what the local media failed to do and investigated these stories in detail. "It's unfortunate that it took a national publication to really dig to the root," says Kaplan, referring to Thompson's work. "In New Orleans, the criminal justice system has been so corrupt for so long, that things that should be shocking didn't seem to be raising the kind of broad community outrage that they should have."

In 2009, after years of pressure from activists and the national attention brought on by Thompson's reporting, the US Justice Department decided to look into the accusations of police violence. This has led to one of the most wide-ranging investigations of a police department in recent US history. Dozens of officers are facing lengthy prison terms and corruption charges have reached to the very top of the department.

The Danziger trial is expected to last two months. Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villavaso and Robert Faulcon, the officers involved in the shooting, could receive life sentences if convicted. Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, who was not on the bridge, is charged only in the conspiracy and could receive a maximum of 120 years. Justice Department investigations of other incidents are continuing and it is likely that some form of federal oversight of the department will be announced in the coming months.


14) Fukushima Meltdown Mitigation Aims to Prevent Radioactive Flood
Three months after its meltdown, the stricken nuclear power plant continues to struggle to cool its nuclear fuel--and cope with growing amounts of radioactive cooling water
"The challenge is not insurmountable, just costly. "You can clean up almost anything if you're prepared to spend enough money on it," adds Peter Bradford, a former member of the NRC."
By David Biello
Friday, June 24, 2011

More than three months after a powerful earthquake and 14-meter-high tsunami struck Japan, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains flooded with a salty mix of ocean and fresh water that is contaminated with the radioactive residue of three reactors and four spent fuel pools' worth of nuclear fuel. Every day an additional 500 metric tons of seawater is poured onto the still hot nuclear fuel in the stricken reactors and fuel pools. More than 100,000 metric tons of such water now sits in the basement and trenches of the reactors-or evaporates inside the hot reactor buildings, making for a radioactive onsen (hot bath).

Thus far, neither the nation's 75 aftershocks of magnitude 6.0 or greater-the latest of which struck on June 23-nor inclement weather has halted ongoing efforts to cool the stricken nuclear power plant. With the start of any decommissioning process still at least year away, cooling the fuel with water remains the focus-as well as a potential source of additional problems as contaminated water threatens to overwhelm the plant and its environs.

In early June Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) installed a series of devices-from nuclear equipment manufacturers Kurion and Areva Group-meant to filter radioactive material from the contaminated cooling water and enable it to be reused on the hot nuclear fuel rods. Without such filtration, radiation levels in the reactor buildings can climb too high to permit workers to advance their efforts to control and clean up the damaged power plant. But a trial run of the new filtration system was halted on June 18 in less than five hours when it captured as much radioactive cesium 137 in that span as was expected to be filtered in a month.

Massive tanks have been delivered to store some of the excess radioactive water, given that spraying must continue due to leaks in the reactors themselves that prevent restoration of the normal cooling system. "The most important thing is to keep the reactor fuel cool. If the only alternative is to use saltwater then that's the best thing to do," said Bill Borchardt, executive director for operations at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at a talk in May. "Given the situation that existed and that there were very few options available, I think injection of saltwater was clearly the appropriate thing to do," although TEPCO has switched to using fresh water more recently.

With just centimeters remaining before the radioactive water overtops its storage, however, another release of contaminated water into the ocean looks ever more likely. Already, pools of this water burned at least two workers at the plant when they stepped in the puddles, and TEPCO was forced to dump more than 11,000 metric tons of such contaminated water in early April.

"The reactors weren't designed to have water poured in the top, pour out the bottom and pool in the basement," says nuclear energy advisor Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates consultants. "What TEPCO should be doing is building a trench around the reactors down to bedrock, 20 meters deep and 1.5 meters wide, and fill that trench with zeolite." Zeolite minerals capture radioactive particles, and are used in the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

The normal equipment for such cooling is inoperable thanks to the complete meltdown and corrosion from seawater, so spraying new water on the hot nuclear fuel remains the only option. Debris and detritus-radioactive and inert, alike-continue to impair human and robot workers' attempts to achieve so-called "cold shutdown," which would allow the real work of tearing down and cleaning up the contaminated site to begin.

"It's going to be very complicated to decommission this thing," physicist Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research notes. "The handling equipment has been destroyed, it was a complete meltdown, it's a highly radioactive environment and there's radioactive water."

The rising level of used cooling water is just one of the challenges at the plant, more than three months after the crisis started. Radiation levels continue to spike at times as high as 4,000 millisieverts an hour, impairing repair efforts, even with robots. (A sievert is a unit of ionizing radiation equal to 100 rems; a rem is a dosage unit of x-ray and gamma-ray radiation exposure.) Despite the restoration of electric power in April, cooling systems remain inoperable. And radioactive material-cesium 134, cesium 137 and some 50 other longer-lived radioactive isotopes-continue to be found farther and farther afield from the site itself, concentrating in hot spots as far as 225 kilometers from the stricken complex. For its part, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency now estimates Fukushima has released some 770,000 terabecquerels worth of radiation-or roughly 15 percent of the amount released by the catastrophic 1986 fire at Chernobyl in Ukraine. (One becquerel represents the rate of radioactive decay-or radiation emitted by a substance-as one disintegration, or count, per second.)

"When you have an accident for months and certain patterns of rainfall, you get hot spots," Makhijani says. As a result, entire towns, such as Date, Iitate and Iwaki City, may have to be permanently abandoned and roughly 80,000 people have lost their homes to radioactive contamination.

In addition to the failed water filtration system, TEPCO has proposed enshrouding in plastic the reactor buildings torn apart by hydrogen explosions to prevent further releases from that source of radioactive material. The good news is that the heat from the melted down nuclear fuel and still intact fresh fuel rods continues to decline. "As time goes on, the decay heat gets less and less," the NRC's Borchardt noted. "Around 90 to 100 days the problem becomes much less severe"-a time period Fukushima Daiichi has now entered.

More than 3,700 workers continue to attempt to control and contain the crisis. Nine of those workers have already reached the legal "emergency limit" of 250 millisieverts of cumulative radiation exposure, and 124 have received more than 100 millisieverts, the prior limit. In the U.S. annual exposure for nuclear power plant workers is limited to 50 millisieverts per year, and it is estimated by some that their risk of cancer increases by 4 percent per sievert. (This risk figure remains controversial as either too high or too low, by scientists who study the impact of radiation on health, primarily based on data collected after the 1945 detonation of the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.)

In the end TEPCO plans call for a cold shutdown of the stricken reactors by April 2012-more than a year after the crisis began-and that means some kind of treatment plan for hundreds of thousands of metric tons of radioactive cooling water will be needed as soon as possible. Beyond that lies the challenge of hundreds of thousands of metric tons of soil contaminated with radioactive isotopes across at least 600 square kilometers of northeastern Japan.

The challenge is not insurmountable, just costly. "You can clean up almost anything if you're prepared to spend enough money on it," adds Peter Bradford, a former member of the NRC.


15) Pickets Challenge Labor to Find Solidarity with Palestinians
by Michael Letwin
Wed, 06/22/2011 - 10:08am

Fifty activists picketed an awards dinner June 13, telling New York state AFL-CIO head Denis Hughes his support for investments in Israel betrays basic principles of labor solidarity.

Hosted by the State of Israel Bonds, the dinner awarded a "Peace Medal" to Hughes. The bonds are an investment representing loans to Israel's government.

The picket, called by the Labor for Palestine network, followed a call from a new Palestinian union coalition that asked labor bodies around the world to divest from Israeli bonds and end "collusion with decades of violations of international law and human rights by Israel."

The picketers, members of several unions and other groups, are part of a growing movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.

The campaign has been endorsed by labor bodies around the world, including the trade union congresses of South Africa, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland and the UK, and labor bodies in Australia, France, Canada, Norway, Italy, Spain and Turkey.

But for decades, U.S. labor officials have invested unknown billions from union retirement funds in the bonds.

Union members advocating U.S. labor support for Palestinian rights compare their cause to the earlier anti-apartheid battles.

They point to similarities between Israel's occupation of Palestine and the former South African system: In Israel, Arab citizens face legalized segregation in housing and employment.

At least 70 percent of 10 million Palestinians remain refugees, who Israel vows cannot return after being expelled from the country in 1947-48.

In the occupied West Bank, separate and unequal conditions are even more overt. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis live in growing settlements connected by "Israeli-only" roads. Palestinians are left in disconnected towns, stalled at hundreds of military checkpoints, and hemmed in by an Israeli-built wall that grabs more land.

"Israel bonds are one of the ways Israel pays for its Jewish-superiority system, its wall around Palestinian areas, its Jewish-only roads," said Stan Heller, a high school teacher who has campaigned for the Connecticut AFL-CIO to divest from the bonds.

The June protest built on earlier efforts to end complicity in occupation, including refusals to handle Israeli cargo by dockers from South Africa to Oakland. The Oakland port union's action April 4 in solidarity with workers under attack worldwide earned them a lawsuit from port bosses accusing the union of violating the "no strike" clause and seeking unspecified damages.

Picketers in New York argued that union members' funds should be transparently invested in justice for all workers.

However, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka has spoken against international efforts to boycott Israel, suggesting that "bashing Israel" was anti-Semitism in disguise.

The June 13 dinner was chaired by Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and head of the Jewish Labor Committee. Appelbaum has repeatedly attacked international union support for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.

Protesters called on Hughes and Appelbaum to "stop scabbing for apartheid."

Michael Letwin is former president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325. He is a founding member of Labor for Palestine and New York City Labor Against the War.


16) A sinister cyber-surveillance scheme exposed
Hacked emails from security contractor HBGary Federal reveal a disturbing public-private partnership to spy on web users
Wednesday 22 June 2011

When President Eisenhower left office in 1960, he provided the American people with a warning.

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

Sixty years later, the military-industrial complex has been joined by another unprecedented centre of what has increasingly proven to be "misplaced power": the dozens of secretive firms known collectively as the intelligence contracting industry.

Last February, three of these firms - HBGary Federal, Palantir and Berico, known collectively as Team Themis - were discovered to have conspired to hire out their information war capabilities to corporations which hoped to strike back at perceived enemies, including US activist groups, WikiLeaks and journalist Glenn Greenwald. That such a dangerous new dynamic was now in play was only revealed due to a raid by hackers associated with the Anonymous collective, resulting in the dissemination of more than 70,000 emails to and from executives at HBGary Federal and affiliated company HBGary.

After having spent several months studying those emails and otherwise investigating the industry depicted therein, I have revealed my summary of a classified US intelligence programme known as Romas/COIN, as well as its upcoming replacement, known as Odyssey. The programme appears to allow for the large-scale monitoring of social networks by way of such things as natural language processing, semantic analysis, latent semantic indexing and IT intrusion. At the same time, it also entails the dissemination of some unknown degree of information to a given population through a variety of means - without any hint that the actual source is US intelligence. Scattered discussions of Arab translation services may indicate that the programme targets the Middle East.

Despite the details I have provided in the document - which is also now in the possession of several major news outlets and which may be published in whole or in part by any party that cares to do so - there remains a great deal that is unclear about Romas/COIN and the capabilities it comprises. The information with which I've worked consists almost entirely of email correspondence between executives of several firms that together sought to win the contract to provide the programme's technical requirements, and because many of the discussions occurred in meetings and phone conversations, the information remaining deals largely with prospective partners, the utility of one capability over another, and other clues spread out over hundreds of email exchanges between a large number of participants.

The significance of this programme to the public is not limited to its potential for abuse by facets of the US intelligence community, which has long been proverbial for misusing other of its capabilities. Perhaps the most astonishing aspect is the fact that the partnership of contracting firms and other corporate entities that worked to obtain the contract was put into motion in large part by Aaron Barr, the disgraced former CEO of HBGary Federal who was at the centre of Team Themis's conspiracy to put high-end intelligence capabilities at the disposal of private institutions. As I explain further in the linked report, this fact alone should prompt increased investigation into the manner in which this industry operates and the threats it represents to democratic institutions.

Altogether, the existence and nature of Romas/COIN should confirm what many had already come to realise over the past few years, in particular: the US and other states have no intention of allowing populations to conduct their affairs without scrutiny. Such states ought not complain when they find themselves subjected to similar scrutiny - as will increasingly become the case over the next several years.

• Editor's note: The headline and photo caption in this article originally alluded to HBGary. HBGary Federal is the company in question, which is a distinct entity from HBGary Inc. The article has been amended to make that clarification at 9am (BST) on 23 June 2011


17) What Happened to Media Coverage of Fukushima?
by Anne Landman
Published on Friday, June 24, 2011 by PR Watch

While the U.S. media has been occupied with Anthony Weiner, the Republican presidential candidates and Bristol Palin's memoir, coverage of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster has practially fallen off the map. Poor mainstream media coverage of Japan's now months-long struggle to gain control over the Fukushima disaster has deprived Americans of crucial information about the risks of nuclear power following natural disasters. After a few weeks of covering the early aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. media moved on, leaving behind the crisis at Fukushima which continues to unfold. U.S. politicians, like Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, have made disappointing and misleading statements about the relative safety of nuclear power and have vowed to stick by our nuclear program, while other countries, like Germany and Italy, have taken serious steps to address the obvious risks of nuclear power -- risks that the Fukushima disaster made painfully evident, at least to the rest of the world.
Problems Multiply

News outlets in other countries have been paying attention to Fukushima, though, and a relative few in this country have as well. A June 16, 2011 Al Jazeera English article titled, "Fukushima: It's much worse than you think," quotes a high-level former nuclear industry executive, Arnold Gunderson, who called Fukushima nohting less than "the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind." Twenty nuclear cores have been exposed at Fukushima, Gunderson points out, saying that, along with the site's many spent-fuel pools, gives Fukushima 20 times the release potential of Chernobyl.

Efforts to bring problems at Fukushima under control are not going well, either. Japanese authorities only just recently admitted that nuclear fuel in the three damaged Fukushima reactors has likely burned through the vessels holding it, a scenario called "melt-through", that is even more serious than a core meltdown. Months of spraying seawater on the plant's three melted-down fuel cores -- and the spent fuel stored on site -- to try and cool them has produced 26 million of gallons of radioactive wastewater, and no place to put it.

Anti nuclear power protests in Kouenji After a struggle, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), finally managed to put in place a system to filter radioactive particles out of the wastewater, but it broke down soon after it started operating. A filter that was supposed to last a month plugged up with radioactive material after just five hours, indicating there is more radioactive material in the water than previously believed. Meanwhile, TEPCO is running out of space to store the radioactive water, and may be forced to again dump contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. TEPCO already dumped some water into the ocean weeks ago, amid protests from fisherman, other countries and environmental organizations. And even if TEPCO does successfully filter the contaminated water and manage to bring its radioactivity down to acceptable levels, the utility will still have to deal with the pile of radioactive sludge the process will produce. The plan they've come up with to deal with the sludge is to seal it in drums and discard it into the ocean, which may cause even more problems. Greenpeace has already found levels of radiation exceeding legal limits in seaweed and shellfish samples gathered more than 12 miles away from the plant. The high levels of radiation in the samples indicate that leaks from the plant are bigger than TEPCO has revealed so far.

The cascade of other problems caused by the Fukushima disaster include the costs of relocating residents from the affected area around the plant, compensating people for the loss of their homes and belongings, and a drop-off in global sales of goods and products exported from Japan due to fear of radioactive contamination.
Domestic Nuclear Worries

For Americans who think "out of sight, out of mind" or "it can't happen here" when it comes to Fukishima and its ramifications, think again. Janette Sherman, M.D., an internal medicine specialist, and Joseph Magano, an epidemiologist with the Radiation and Public Health Project research group, noticed a 35% jump in infant mortality in eight northwestern U.S. cities located within 500 miles of the Pacific coast since the Fukushima meltdown. They wrote an essay, published by CounterPunch, suggesting there may be a link between the statistic and the Fukushima disaster. They cited similar problems with infant mortality among people who were exposed to nuclear fallout from Chernobyl. Sherman and Magano urge that steps be taken to measure the levels of radioactive isotopes in the environment of the Pacific northwest, and in the bodies of people in these areas, to determine if nuclear fallout from Fukushima could, in fact, be related to the spike in infant mortality.

Tensions are also rising over two U.S. nuclear reactors in Nebraska located on the banks of the Missouri River, which is now at flood stage. On June 20, the Omaha, Nebraska World Herald reported that flood waters from the Missouri River came within 18 inches of forcing the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, Nebraska, to shut down. Officials are poised to shut down the Cooper plant when river reaches a level of 902 feet above sea level. The plant is 903 feet above sea level. The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant, 20 miles north of Omaha, issued a "Notification of Unusual Event" to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on June 6 due to local flooding. That plant is currently shut down for refueling, but will not restart because of the flooding. Compounding worries over these two plants is a shortage of sand needed to fill massive numbers of sandbags to hold off Missouri River floodwaters. One ton of sand makes just 60 sandbags, and hundreds of thousands of sandbags are needed to help save towns along the river from flooding. Sand is obtained from dredging the riverbed -- and the companies that sell sand can't dredge the river while it is flooding. These plants are already in a risky situation, and the flooding in Nebraska could easily be worsened just by a summer afternoon cloudburst.

Global Support for Nuclear Power Drops; Some U.S. Reactors on Borrowed Time

Polls reveal that global support for nuclear power has nosedived in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. A survey of over 19,000 people in 24 countries showed that three quarters of people now think nuclear power will soon be obsolete. Three countries still show support for nuclear power: the U.S., India and Poland.

The relative safety of nuclear power in the U.S. is tenuous, despite what some politicians have claimed. A big problem is that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has been working with the nuclear power industry to keep our country's reactors operating within safety standards, but they've been doing it by either weakening those standards, or not enforcing them at all. A year-long investigation by the Associated Press (AP) revealed that the NRC has acted appallingly, extending licenses for dozens of aging U.S. nuclear plants despite their having multiple problems, like rusted pipes, broken seals, failed cables and leaking valves. When such problems are found, the NRC will weaken the standards to help the plants meet them instead of ordering them to be repaired to meet current standards. The nuclear industry argues that the standards they are violating are "unnecessarily conservative," and in response, the NRC simply loosens the standards. Just last year, for example, the NRC weakened the safety margin for acceptable radiation damage to nuclear reactor vessels -- for the second time. Through public record requests to the NRC, the AP obtained photographs of badly rusted valves, holes eaten into the tops of reactor vessels, severe rust in pipes carrying essential water supplies, peeling walls, actively leaking water pipes and other problems found among the nation's fleet of aging nuclear reactors.
The Take Away

Fukushima has been a wake up call about the dangers of nuclear power, and some countries are heeding the information. But it seems the U.S. is still sleeping when it comes to this issue. Light-to-absent coverage of TEPCO's struggles to bring Fukushima under control, legislators who insist on acting favorably towards the nuclear power industry despite the deteriorated state of our current reactor fleet and an ineffective Nuclear Regulatory Commission have all contributed to a bad combination of a dangerous situation and a complacent American public on this issue.

Maybe now that the latest scandal in Washington has subsided, public and media attention will return to this crucial issue, and the U.S. will turn its attention to tackling some of the truly serious problems posed by a continuing reliance on nuclear power.
(c) 2011 Center for Media & Democracy
Anne Landman

Anne Landman is the Managing Editor of the Center for Media and Democracy. She previously served as the editor of our TobaccoWiki project on our website. She has degrees in Environmental Restoration/Waste Management Technology and Communications.


18) A Nuclear Plant's Flood Defenses Trigger a Yearlong Regulatory Confrontation
By PETER BEHR of ClimateWire
June 24, 2011

Pictures of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant north of Omaha, Neb., show it encircled by the swollen waters of the Missouri River, which reached a height of nearly 1,007 feet above sea level at the plant yesterday.

The plant's defenses include new steel gates and other hard barriers protecting an auxiliary building with vital reactor controls, and a water-filled berm 8 feet tall that encircles other parts of the plant. Both systems are designed to hold back floodwaters reaching 1,014 feet above sea level. Additional concrete barriers and permanent berms, more sandbags and another power line into the plant have been added. The plant was shut down in April for refueling and will remain so until the flood threat is passed.

"Today the plant is well positioned to ride out the current extreme Missouri River flooding while keeping the public safe," Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks said on an agency blog this week.

But a year ago, those new defenses were not in place, and the plant's hard barriers could have failed against a 1,010-foot flood, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission contends in a yearlong inspection and enforcement action against the plant's operator, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD).

"This is the first test of the revised flood preparations for Fort Calhoun," OPPD spokesman Michael Jones said.

NRC inspectors concluded that at flooding levels above 1,008 feet, the plant "would experience a loss of offsite power and loss of intake structure" and water pumps providing essential cooling water to the plant. In that case, "the plant would be incapable of reaching cold shutdown" with normal operations -- a fundamental safety requirement imposed by the NRC. The commission's Region IV office in Arlington, Texas, issued a notice of violation against the plant on Oct. 6 last year, finding that the issues were of "substantial importance" to the plant's safety.

OPPD challenged the NRC's inspectors' conclusions in a series of conferences before bowing to the commission staff's demands and agreeing to install the additional defenses this year. The AquaDam water berm was installed beginning June 4.

Operating in the shadow of Fukishima

The questions about the plant's flooding safeguards illustrate the challenges that confront regulators seeking to protect nuclear plants against extreme natural hazards -- challenges that appear more foreboding now in the shadow of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

The 1,010-foot level represents a so-called 500-year flood peak that has not occurred on the Missouri outside Omaha since 1952, according to National Weather Service data. But the level has topped 997 feet 16 times in the past two decades, the NWS reported.

The vast Missouri River flooding follows enormous accumulations of snow on the Western mountains that drain into that river system, another devastating impact of extreme weather that is forcing reconsideration of disaster planning, experts say.

Despite the stark conclusion of the October 2010 NRC letter, the plant's vulnerability under different flood scenarios isn't black and white, says Gerond George, a senior NRC reactor inspector, who returned from his most recent trip to the plant site Tuesday. The NRC and OPPD have different interpretations of the utility's obligations under its license, and the response of the Fort Calhoun staff to a flooding emergency cannot be precisely predicted, the NRC says.

"The NRC isn't saying if the flood happened last year, they couldn't have protected the plant. We can't say that for sure. They would have had trouble," George said.

A still-unresolved issue in the dispute is the NRC's contention that OPPD received, but did not properly act on, a warning by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2003. It said high-water threats to the plant should be raised by 3 feet based on a new assessment following severe Missouri River floods in the mid-1990s. "The performance deficiency existed for many years," the NRC said in an Oct. 6, 2010, letter to the Omaha utility.

Another open issue is why NRC's inspectors did not focus on the flood threat until an inspection in 2009, George said. "We've been looking at that, as well, to be honest. How did we miss it?" he said. "We believe it is just the nature of the inspection program. ... We only sample certain parts of their design basis," the term for the anticipated threats that nuclear plants are required to survive.

The difference a few feet can make

When NRC inspectors decided to take a close look at Fort Calhoun's flood protections in 2009, they found a range of barriers that reached nearly to the 1,010-foot level. The precise level -- 1,009.5 feet -- is written into the plant's operating licenses as a flooding "design basis" threat that the plant must be guarded against. But OPPD had also committed to protect the plant's reactor systems against floodwaters reaching 1,014 feet, the NRC says -- a level that might be reached if the Gavins Point Dam upriver on the Missouri in South Dakota were breached.

OPPD planned to extend the barrier to 1,014 feet by stacking sandbags on top of some steel floodgates that protected the auxiliary building, and to use more sandbags to safeguard the water intake structure and its essential cooling water pumps.

The NRC inspectors rejected that strategy. "The sandbagging activity would be insufficient," the NRC concluded in a July 15, 2010, letter to OPPD. The half-inch cross section on the top of the floodgates was too small to support a 5-foot stack of sandbags hit by swirling floodwaters, the agency said.

OPPD spokesman Jones said the heart of the dispute is a disagreement in how the utility and the NRC assess the plant operator's responsibilities. "We presented our analysis to them, which we felt indicated that the design basis [for the flooding threat] should remain 1,009 feet," rather than 1,014 feet, he said.

"Our risk assessment differed from their assessment. After reviewing our arguments and additional material, they denied our request not to issue the yellow finding. As a result, we made the changes they said were necessary," he added. "They also ordered us to revise our policies and procedures and make whatever changes were necessary to bring the design basis up to 1,014. We did so, and we believe we are now in compliance with the NRC and are awaiting a final inspection."

After OPPD assembled a panel of experts last year to contest the NRC's judgment, the agency fired back with an even stiffer dismissal of the utility's plans.

OPPD said that if a flood threatened to go past 1,009 feet, it would weld steel plates over some of the doors to the auxiliary building, containing essential control equipment to manage reactor cooling. (Other barriers would be fitted into slots at entranceways.)

The utility said the plant's fire engine could also be lifted onto the deck of the turbine building alongside the reactor to pump floodwaters from that building.

New defenses still under evaluation

The NRC responded in its October 2010 letter that once flooding reached 1,004 feet, water would have entered the plant and the ability of emergency workers to move around the site would "significantly degrade."

If levels exceeded 1,004 feet, water would reach the lower floodgates, hampering the welding of plates to door frames, the NRC said. At 1,008.5 feet, the technical support center used by emergency technicians would have been inundated. At 1,010 feet, water would begin to enter the auxiliary building, "shorting power and submerging pumps. The plant could then experience a station blackout with core damage estimated within 15 to 18 hours," under a worst-case scenario, the NRC said.

The NRC concluded that the use of the fire truck for emergency pumping would fail, after it determined the truck could not draw floodwaters successfully from the turbine building. Moreover, it was not clear how workers could operate a crane to lift the fire truck into position if outside power were lost, the NRC staff added.

The NRC has not completed its evaluation of the new defenses installed at Fort Calhoun, nor has it resolved how OPPD handled the new information about flood threat that the NRC says the utility received via the Corps of Engineers.

The NRC cites an updated flood assessment by the corps in 2003 that raised the high-risk flood threat levels by approximately 3 feet. The NRC said OPPD updated its own flood analysis in 2005 but did not mention this flood analysis update when it made changes to its emergency planning. OPPD "did not develop a corrective action plan" to respond to the new information, NRC said.

"We think they had the information, and acted on it, but not in the way they should have," said George. "Their documentation did not reflect that [information]." The matter is still under investigation.

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19)'Safety Myth' Left Japan Ripe for Nuclear Crisis
June 24, 2011

Kazuyoshi Saito On Ustream 2011/04/08
Song and Lyrics: Kazuyoshi Saito

"You have been telling a lie"

When we walk around this country,
we can find 54 Nuke power plants

My text book and CM always told me,
"It's SAFE"

You have been telling a lie,
then your excuse is just "UNEXPECTED"
I remember the clear sky,
but now, it turns black rain

You've been telling a lie,
it was exposed after all, I know
Yeah, it was a lie, "Nuke is completely safe"
You've been telling a lie,
I just wanna eat such a delicious spinach once again.

Yeah, it was a lie,
You should have noticed this ball game

We can't stop the contaminated wind anymore
Do you accept if you find it about how many people would be exposed by the radiation?
How do you think? I'm asking you, Jap Gov.

When you leave this town,
Could you find delicious water?
Tell me, whatever, there's no way to hide

They are all suck, Tepco, Hepco, Chuden and Kanden
We never dream a dream anymore
But they are all suck
They still keep going
They are truely suck
I wanna take action, how could I handle this feeling?

They are telling a lie....
We are all suck....

SHIKA, Japan - Near a nuclear power plant facing the Sea of Japan, a series of exhibitions in a large public relations building here extols the virtues of the energy source with some help from "Alice in Wonderland."

"It's terrible, just terrible," the White Rabbit says in the first exhibit. "We're running out of energy, Alice."

A Dodo robot figure, swiveling to address Alice and the visitors to the building, declares that there is an "ace" form of energy called nuclear power. It is clean, safe and renewable if you reprocess uranium and plutonium, the Dodo says.

"Wow, you can even do that!" Alice says of nuclear power. "You could say that it's optimal for resource-poor Japan!"

Over several decades, Japan's nuclear establishment has devoted vast resources to persuade the Japanese public of the safety and necessity of nuclear power. Plant operators built lavish, fantasy-filled public relations buildings that became tourist attractions. Bureaucrats spun elaborate advertising campaigns through a multitude of organizations established solely to advertise the safety of nuclear plants. Politicians pushed through the adoption of government-mandated school textbooks with friendly views of nuclear power.

The result was the widespread adoption of the belief - called the "safety myth" - that Japan's nuclear power plants were absolutely safe. Japan single-mindedly pursued nuclear power even as Western nations distanced themselves from it.

The belief helps explains why in the only nation to have been attacked with atomic bombs, the Japanese acceptance of nuclear power was so strong that the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl barely registered. Even with the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the reaction against nuclear power has been much stronger in Europe and the United States than in Japan itself.

As the Japanese continue to search for answers to the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, some are digging deep into the national psyche and examining a national propensity to embrace a belief now widely seen as irrational. Because of this widespread belief in Japanese plants' absolute safety, plant operators and nuclear regulators failed to adopt proper safety measures and advances in technology, like emergency robots, experts and government officials acknowledge.

"In Japan, we have something called the 'safety myth,' " Banri Kaieda, who runs the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the nuclear industry, said at a news conference at an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna on Monday. "It's a fact that there was an unreasonable overconfidence in the technology of Japan's nuclear power generation."

As a result, he said, the nuclear industry's "thinking about safety had a poor foundation."

Japan's government has concentrated its propaganda and educational efforts on creating such national beliefs in the past, most notably during World War II. The push for nuclear power underpinned postwar Japan's focus on economic growth and its dream of greater energy independence. But as the carefully fostered belief in nuclear safety has dissipated in the three months after the March 11 disaster, Japanese are increasingly blaming the nuclear establishment for Fukushima. In a politically apathetic country, tens of thousands have regularly held protests against nuclear power. Young Japanese have used social media to organize and publicize demonstrations that have been virtually ignored by major newspapers and television networks.

A song, "It Was Always a Lie," has become an anthem at the protests and a vehicle for Japanese anger on the Internet. Its author, a famous singer named Kazuyoshi Saito, wrote it by changing the lyrics of a love ballad, "I Always Liked You," that he composed last year for a commercial for Shiseido, the cosmetics giant. Mr. Saito's performance of the song, surreptitiously uploaded on YouTube and other sites, has gone viral.

"If you walk across this country, you'll find 54 nuclear reactors/School textbooks and commercials told us they were safe," the song goes.

"It was always a lie, it's been exposed after all/It was really a lie that nuclear power is safe."

Caught Unprepared

In the days after a giant tsunami knocked out Fukushima Daiichi's cooling system, the prime minister's office and the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, the plant's operator, wrestled over whether to inject cooling seawater into the reactor buildings to prevent catastrophic meltdowns, and then over how to do it.

With radiation levels too high for workers to approach the reactors, the Japanese authorities floundered. They sent police trucks mounted with water cannons - equipment designed to disperse rioters - to spray water into the reactor buildings. Military helicopters flew over the buildings, dropping water that was scattered off course by strong winds, in a "performance, a kind of circus" that was aimed more at reassuring an increasingly alarmed Japanese population and American government, said Kenichi Matsumoto, an aide to Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

What became clear was that Japan lacked some of the basic hardware to respond to a nuclear crisis and, after initial resistance, had to look abroad for help. For a country proud of its technology, the low point occurred on March 31 when it had to use a 203-foot-long water pump - shipped from China, an export market for Japanese nuclear technology - to inject 90 tons of fresh water into the No. 1 reactor building. But perhaps more than anything else, the absence of one particular technology was deeply puzzling: emergency robots.

Japan, after all, is the world's leader in robotics. It has the world's largest force of mechanized workers. Its humanoid robots can walk and run on two feet, sing and dance, and even play the violin. But where were the emergency robots at Fukushima?

The answer is that the operators and nuclear regulators, believing that accidents would never occur, steadfastly opposed the introduction of what they regarded as unnecessary technology.

"The plant operators said that robots, which would premise an accident, were not needed," said Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, 77, an engineer and a former president of the University of Tokyo, Japan's most prestigious academic institution. "Instead, introducing them would inspire fear, they said. That's why they said that robots couldn't be introduced."

Even before the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, Mr. Yoshikawa, a robotics expert, and other researchers began building emergency robots capable of responding to a nuclear accident, eventually producing a prototype called Mooty. The robots were resistant to high levels of radiation and capable of surmounting mounds of rubble.

But the robots never made it into production, forcing Japan, in the aftermath of Fukushima, to rely on an emergency shipment of robots from iRobot, a company in Bedford, Mass., more famous for manufacturing the Roomba vacuum. On Friday, Tepco deployed the first Japanese-made robot, which was retrofitted recently to handle nuclear accidents, but workers had to retrieve it after it malfunctioned.

The rejection of robots, Mr. Yoshikawa said, was part of the industry's overall reluctance to improve maintenance and invest in new technologies.

"That's why the safety myth wasn't just an empty slogan," said Mr. Yoshikawa, now the director general of the Center for Research and Development Strategy at the Japan Science and Technology Agency. "It was a kind of mind-set that rejected progress through the introduction of new technology."

Entering a New Age

The deliberate effort to rally Japanese behind nuclear power can be traced to the beginning of the atomic age, scholars and experts say.

In August 1945, Yasuhiro Nakasone, a young naval officer who would become one of postwar Japan's most powerful prime ministers, was stationed in western Japan.

"I saw the nuclear mushroom cloud over Hiroshima," Mr. Nakasone wrote in an essay in the 1960s. "At that moment, I sensed that the next age was the nuclear age."

For many Japanese like Mr. Nakasone, nuclear power became a holy grail - a way for Japan, whose lack of oil and other natural resources had led to World War II and defeat, to become more energy independent. The mastery of nuclear power would also open the possibility of eventually developing nuclear weapons, a subject that Japan secretly studied when Mr. Nakasone was defense minister in 1970.

It was precisely because of nuclear power's possible link to nuclear arms and its close ties to the United States that left-leaning politicians, academics and intellectuals became fierce opponents. As a countermeasure, proponents of nuclear power stressed its absolute safety, so that each side struck extreme positions, a standoff that lasts to this day.

The nuclear establishment - led by Tepco among the utilities and the Ministry of Economy - spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising and educational programs emphasizing the safety of nuclear plants. The ministry's division responsible for nuclear power has budgeted $12 million this year for those programs, said Takanobu Sugimoto, a division spokesman. Mr. Sugimoto said he "regretted" that the ministry might have "stressed only" the plants' safety.

The government and the utilities encouraged the creation of many organizations that propagated the message of safety. One of the oldest, the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization, receives 40 percent of its financing from two ministries that oversee nuclear power and 60 percent from Japan's plant operators. In addition to producing information promoting nuclear power, the organization sends nuclear power experts to speak at secondary schools and colleges, at no cost.

Mitsuhiro Yokote, 67, the executive managing director of the organization and a former nuclear engineer at the Kansai Electric Power Company, acknowledged that the experts conveyed the message that nuclear plants were absolutely safe. Mr. Yokote said he "regretted" that his organization had contributed to the safety myth.

In a country where people tend to reflexively trust the government, assurances about the safety of Japan's plants were enough to reassure even those at greatest risk. In Oma, a fishing town in northern Japan where a plant is currently under construction, Chernobyl made no impression on local residents considering the plant back in the 1980s.

"What could we do but believe what the government told us?" said Masaru Takahashi, 67, a member of a fishing union in Oma. "We were told that they were absolutely safe."

A Public Relations Drive

After Chernobyl, the nuclear establishment made sure that Japanese kept believing in safety.

The plant operators built or renovated the public relations buildings - called "P.R. buildings" - attached to their plants. Before Chernobyl, the buildings were simple facilities intended to appeal to "adult men interested in technical matters," said Noriya Sumihara, an anthropologist at Tenri University who has researched the facilities. Male guides wearing industrial uniforms took visitors around exhibits consisting mostly of wall panels.

But after Chernobyl, the facilities were transformed into elaborate theme parks geared toward young mothers, the group that research showed was most worried about nuclear plants and radiation, Mr. Sumihara said. Women of childbearing age, whose presence alone was meant to reassure the visitors, were hired as guides.

In Higashidori, a town in northern Japan, one of the country's newest P.R. buildings is built on the theme of Tonttu, a forest with resident dwarfs. The buildings also holds events with anime characters to attract children and young parents, said Yoshiki Oikawa, a spokesman for the Tohoku Electric Power Company, which manages the site with Tepco.

Here in Shika, more than 100,000 guests last year visited the P.R. building where Alice discovers the wonders of nuclear power. The Caterpillar reassures Alice about radiation and the Cheshire Cat helps her learn about the energy source. Instead of going down a rabbit hole, Alice shrinks after eating a candy and enters a 1:25 scale model of the Shika nuclear plant nearby.

Since the Fukushima disaster, visitors have started questioning the safety of nuclear power, said Asuka Honda, 27, a guide here. Many were pregnant women worried about the effects of radiation on their unborn children. But the presence of Ms. Honda and other guides, mostly women in their late 20s, seemed to reassure them.

The nuclear establishment also made sure that government-mandated school textbooks underemphasized information that could cast doubt on the safety of nuclear power. In Parliament, the campaign was led by Tokio Kano, a Tepco vice president who became a lawmaker in 1998. Mr. Kano, who declined to be interviewed for this article, returned to Tepco as an adviser after retiring from Parliament last year.

In 2004, under the influence of Mr. Kano and other proponents of nuclear power, education officials ordered revisions to textbooks before endorsing them. In one junior high school social studies textbook, a reference to the growing antinuclear movement in Europe was deleted. In another, a reference to Chernobyl was relegated to a footnote.

The effect could be seen in opinion polls that even after Fukushima have indicated that young Japanese are the strongest proponents of nuclear power.

The nuclear establishment itself came to believe its own safety myth and "became entangled in its own net," said Hitoshi Yoshioka, an author of a book on the history of Japan's nuclear power and a member of a panel established by the prime minister to investigate the causes of the Fukushima disaster.

He said that helped explain why, at Fukushima, Tepco failed to carry out emergency measures in case of a complete loss of power, which is what happened when the tsunami hit in March. Others have said that the nuclear establishment's embrace of the safety myth also makes it possible to understand what, in hindsight, was the most glaring hole in the safety measures at Japan's nuclear plants. In the country that gave the world the word tsunami, few measures were taken at Fukushima Daiichi or elsewhere to protect plants against the giant waves. Neither the Dodo nor the Caterpillar makes any mention of tsunamis to Alice.

Kantaro Suzuki contributed reporting.


20) Distrust of Government Impedes Reform in Greece
June 25, 2011

ATHENS - Demonstrators projected the word across the facade of Parliament last week, and it underscored the hurdle that Prime Minister George Papandreou faces in selling an increasingly resentful electorate on a tough new round of austerity measures: "Thieves."

Most Greeks say they have little confidence in a political class that they see as corrupt and unaccountable. A recent study by Transparency International in Greece found that 9 out of 10 Greeks believed that their politicians were corrupt, and 80 percent said that Parliament had lost credibility.

"We're here because we have lost confidence in the present political system, which has brought us to the edge," Christos Siveris, 35, said last week as he waved a Greek flag outside Parliament during a crucial confidence vote, which Mr. Papandreou won. "This is our Thermopylae," he added, referring to the ancient battle in which an outnumbered army of Greek warriors held out against a Persian force before ultimately succumbing.

This week Mr. Papandreou will seek parliamentary approval for an austerity package that was agreed on Thursday with European officials and the International Monetary Fund. He is expected to succeed, despite tensions within his Socialist Party and in the face of intransigence from the center-right opposition, which was in power when Greece's debt soared.

But as the crisis extends into a second year, a growing number of Greeks are turning a critical eye on their own government. They are questioning why members of Parliament have immunity from prosecution unless Parliament votes to lift it, and they want to see more transparency and accountability in party financing.

And having faced across-the-board wage and pension cuts, they have come to question why the lawmakers have benefits that include state cars, generous double pensions (from the government and their own professional guilds), bonuses for attending committee meetings on top of their $8,500-a-month salaries, and personal staff who are widely perceived to attend to a tradition of providing favors in exchange for votes.

In recent years, a number of former officials from both the conservative New Democracy and the Socialist Parties have been implicated in a range of corruption scandals. In one episode, which occurred when New Democracy was in power, the government approved a highly complex land swap in which a Greek Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos received prime, state-owned real estate in exchange for much less valuable land in a rural area. But to date, no officials have been charged with wrongdoing.

Such scandals "add to the frustration and the popular perception that they're crooks," said Costas Bakouris, the president of Transparency International's Greek branch.

Aggravating that perception, the legislators have immunity from prosecution unless the full Parliament votes to lift it, something that has happened only 17 times out of the hundreds of requests since democracy was restored in 1974 after a military dictatorship. Even after they leave office, former lawmakers can be prosecuted only during the parliamentary session in which they are accused of breaking the law and the subsequent session.

In addition to the austerity votes, Parliament is expected to vote this week on whether to broaden an investigation into Akis Tsochatzopoulos, a former defense minister from the Socialist Party who is accused of corruption in the Greek Navy's procurement of German submarines.

Greece's Skai television and the related Kathimerini newspaper reported that Mr. Tsochatzopoulos had been living in one of Athens's most exclusive areas in an apartment purchased from an offshore company. To many here, the case has come to represent everything they consider wrong about the political system, not least because as a former government minister, Mr. Tsochatzopoulos is immune from prosecution. He denies wrongdoing.

In a rare move and an acknowledgment of public sentiment, the two main parties have proposed that his immunity be lifted so that he can be prosecuted.

In another high-profile case, a former Socialist Party transport minister was charged with money-laundering this year after he admitted that he received several hundred thousand dollars from a Greek subsidiary of Siemens.

This month, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a lawmaker from the New Democracy Party and the son of a former prime minister, caused a stir when he proposed reducing Parliament to 200 members from 300; eliminating double pensions, special payments for serving on committees and immunity for government ministers and lawmakers; and opening up the books on party finances.

"It was received extremely well by the average person on the street by not so well by my colleagues," said Mr. Mitsotakis, a Harvard-educated former venture capitalist who is clearly positioning himself as the "new" New Democracy, not least because he has said he has criticized his party's near total opposition to the austerity measures. (Although he, too, said he planned to vote against them.)

"We have a fundamental trust problem in Greece. We asked people to make huge sacrifices that we're not willing to make," he said of his colleagues. "There's something wrong with that."

In a nod to the growing popular outrage, Mr. Papandreou said in a speech last week that he would form a committee to look at reducing the number of Parliament members and to abolish the law protecting members from prosecution, although it remains to be seen whether he has the political capital to carry out the constitutional changes those moves would entail.

But other analysts believe that anger at the political class is deeper than the government has acknowledged and will not be easily assuaged. In Syntagma Square each night, Greeks from across the political spectrum have gathered to air their grievances. This collaboration of right and left is new in a country that endured both a civil war after World War II and a military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974.

"That's unique for Greece," said Nikos Alivizatos, a constitutional lawyer. "I'm not sure the politicians are conscious of that."


21) Staff Criticize Nuclear Regulator for Halting Evaluation
June 24, 2011

WASHINGTON - In an unusual public dissent, staff members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told a House subcommittee on Friday that they were frustrated by a boss's decision to halt their evaluation of a site in Nevada as a future repository for the nation's nuclear waste.

Four staff members told the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy that they disagreed with instructions from the regulatory commission's chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, to suspend their work on an Energy Department application involving the site, which followed a decision by top officials in the Obama administration to kill the project.

"Staff would have willingly followed any outcome from a faithfully executed legitimate process," one staff member, Lawrence E. Kokajko, the acting deputy office director of the commission's Office of Nuclear Materials, Safety and Safeguards, told the subcommittee. "The nation paid for this review, and the nation should get it."

Another witness, N. Kingman Stablein, chief of the project management branch in the high-level waste division, said staff members, some of whom had worked for 20 years on the project, went through "agony" upon seeing it killed. And Janet P. Kotra, senior project manager, said she was instructed to follow "a highly irregular process" in closing out the evaluation.

The proposed waste storage site, at Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert, was approved by Congress in the 1980s. But Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, vowed in recent years to block the project, and President Obama pledged in 2008 to shelve it if elected. Mr. Jaczko, a political appointee, is a former aide to Mr. Reid.

Friday's hearing was a rare instance of career civil servants' challenging a move by the head of a federal agency who was appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

Some of the testimony was sharply bitter. "Apparently, the N.R.C.'s senior leadership is ineffective in upholding the integrity of this agency," said Aby Mohseni, acting director of the commission's division for high-level waste repository safety.

He suggested that Mr. Jaczko, the commission's chairman, had broken the law by not keeping the other four commissioners regularly informed, although a report this month by the agency's inspector general said no law had been broken.

The inspector general's report said that Mr. Jaczko's decision to halt the Yucca review was based on politics, however, not on a consideration of the acceptability of the site for long-term storage. It also criticized Mr. Jaczko's management style, saying he had used his powers to carry out the president's wishes while running roughshod over his fellow commissioners.

A memo sent by Mr. Mohseni to the commission members, released by the House subcommittee on Friday, said that top staff members at the commission were suppressing information that should have gone to the commission, and that there was "a pattern of rewarding senior managers for supporting and contributing to politicized decisions."

In a statement issued after the hearing, the regulatory commission defended Mr. Jaczko's decision to halt the commission's work on Yucca Mountain. "One of the hallmarks of the N.R.C. is its open work environment, where employees are empowered to raise issues they consider important," it said. "The chairman listened to a wide range of views, made the proper decision and has moved on to focus on the many important safety issues before the agency."

Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, argued Friday that Mr. Jaczko had no choice in shutting down the commission's evaluation.

The Energy Department had applied for a license to build and operate the repository but then withdrew the application, he noted. And Congress approved a budget with no money for evaluating the application, only $10 million to shut down the investigation.

"N.R.C.'s options are limited," Mr. Waxman said. "Continuing its review risks squandering millions of taxpayer dollars."

Representative John Shimkus, Republican of Illinois, chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, which held the hearing Friday, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff had "labored tirelessly, outside the public spotlight, in good faith." He asserted that the commission was "dysfunctional" as a result of its leadership, however, and was squandering public trust.

Many members of Congress, mostly Republicans, are trying hard to maintain the political consensus established in the 1980s to eventually place the waste at Yucca, a volcanic structure about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The site became a candidate partly because it was already owned by the government, and it became the lead candidate because the other possible sites, in Washington State and Texas, had more powerful delegations in Congress.

The question before the regulatory commission was never whether Yucca was the best place to bury the waste. Several staff members said what they had wanted was publication of their work.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 24, 2011

A previous version of this article misidentified Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, as a senator.


22) All of His Crops Flourished. Too Bad They Were in a Park.
June 24, 2011

If they squint, neighbors say, the farm tilled by David Abreu begins to look a little like home - his cilantro is as green, his bean supply as tidy. And then there is the man himself: clutching his machete handle, pant legs stained black, surveying the soil like any farmer who takes pride in his land. "He could be my father," said one neighbor, José Rodríguez, 52, originally from Santiago, Dominican Republic.

But Mr. Abreu is not home, and his farm, alas, is on public property - namely Highbridge Park in Upper Manhattan.

Or rather, it was.

In a city that is thinking more and more about being green, Mr. Abreu, 65, is one of a small number of immigrant gardeners who have plunged their shovels into what little surface soil there is. For about three years, Mr. Abreu says, his vegetable garden has thrived behind a playground on two plots near 193rd Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights.

Last week, a parks department crew uprooted Mr. Abreu's crops, piling the leafy detritus in the back of a green garbage truck. A district supervisor, according to William T. Castro, the Manhattan borough commissioner for parks, stumbled upon the garden about three weeks ago. "It's an illegal farm," Mr. Castro said. "Most people have common sense and know you don't plant your own vegetable garden in a public park."

Though Mr. Abreu has tended roughly a half-acre of land, it represents a small fraction of the soil lined with beans, corn and, occasionally, tomatoes, that has been tilled in Highbridge Park by area residents. When a visitor stopped by several times in recent days, however, the other farmers were nowhere to be found.

The parks department is aware of the additional gardens, Mr. Castro said - and some of Mr. Abreu's less visible beans and cilantro were spared. Park employees may soon remove what is left, Mr. Castro added.

"I don't see the problem," Mr. Abreu said through an interpreter. "I clean it. I take care of it."

Before digging up Mr. Abreu's plots, parks department officials informed Ydanis Rodriguez, the local councilman, that years of herbicide spraying in the area had exposed the soil to contamination, the councilman said. But the soil has never been tested, Mr. Castro said, and the absence of a permit, not health concerns, was the primary reason the crops were torn out.

Mr. Abreu insisted neither he nor any friends or family members had ever gotten sick from eating the crops.

"Try it," Mr. Abreu suggested Monday, raising a fistful of cilantro. Mr. Abreu, like many in the neighborhood, immigrated from the Dominican Republic. Both Mr. Abreu and Councilman Rodriguez were raised on family farms, they say, in Santo Domingo and Santiago, respectively. Like many in the community, they have come to see the local gardens as extensions of their former homes.

"Look how beautiful this is," said Councilman Rodriguez, swatting away a tree limb as he cradled a bean pod. "It brings me back."

Before the loss of his plants, Mr. Abreu spent as many as six hours a day looking after his plots. He and the other farmers share their crops with one another, Mr. Abreu said, and often offer some of their harvests to community members who request a taste. While he describes his motivation as "somewhat economic," Mr. Abreu says his main interest is sustaining a lifelong hobby. His fight with the city was first reported on the Web site,

Dragging his leather satchel of tools down Fort George Avenue, grinning through his wrinkles, Mr. Abreu is known endearingly in the neighborhood as el viejo: the old man.

"Agriculture is the main thing in our culture," José Rodríguez said, shouting over a fiercely argued game of dominoes outside the park. "I can bring my little girls to come water the plants. At school, they learn American history. But this is their background, their culture."

Parks department employees who pulled up the crops last week noted the precision with which the plot was arranged. "It was all lined up, very neat, one row after another," said one of the workers, Clifford Motley.

The councilman's office said it had arranged a meeting between Mr. Abreu and parks department officials, and hoped the sides would meet soon to discuss alternative farming sites.

"If he had come to us, we would have found a location for him that made sense," Mr. Castro said. "We have hundreds of free community gardens exactly for this purpose."

According to Mr. Castro, members of his staff last year confronted a man they believe may have been Mr. Abreu about his garden.

Mr. Abreu says a park employee did approach him last year, but only to request he remove the wooden fence he had built around his beans. When he first decided to plant seeds three years ago, he said, he told a department official of his plans.

"All they told me was I couldn't cut down any trees."

Since the uprooting, Mr. Abreu said, he has lost the desire to keep his regular farming hours, though he does maintain another garden in the courtyard of his apartment building, across the street from Highbridge Park.

The circumstances have also produced consequences on the home front with his wife, Irene.

"She loves it when I garden," Mr. Abreu said, holstering his machete. "It keeps me out of the house."