Saturday, August 06, 2011



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Demonstrating against the Mega-Violent and Mega-Toxic Nuclear Industry on the 66th Anniversaries of the US Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Sat. August 6th, 2011 6-9 p.m. Livermore Lab
Gather at Bill Payne Park, Vasco Road and Patterson Pass Rd., Livermore.

Tues., Aug. 9, 8 a.m., ceremony and non-violent direct action. Gather at the Livermore lab West Gate on Vasco Rd.

Sponsor: Livermore Conversion Project, Tri Valley Cares


First organizing meeting for Oct. 7 Protest/Die-In
to mark 10th anniversary of Afghanistan War
Stop the Cutbacks!
Money for People's Needs, Not for War!
Wed, Aug. 10, 7pm
2969 Mission St., SF (bet. 25th & 26th Sts.)

On Wednesday, August 10, 7 p.m. there will be the first organizing meeting for a protest/die-in on October 7, 2011. October 7 will mark the exact 10th anniversary of the current U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan. The meeting will take place at the new ANSWER Coalition office, 2969 Mission St., San Francisco, between 25th & 26th Sts., close to the 24th St BART station.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghani people have been killed, wounded and displaced, and thousands of U.S. and NATO troops killed and wounded. A new study estimates that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan could end up costing $4.4 trillion-$4,400,000,000,000. And the cost of these wars takes up less than one-sixth of the annual Pentagon budget.

Yet this week, President Obama and Congress-both Democrats and Republicans-have united on a program that will slash vital health, education, food, environmental and other programs, while leaving the war budget and huge tax breaks for the rich untouched. This is outrageous and we must say NO!

Join us in formulating an exciting action plan for October 7, and discussion of how we can build for the protest and die-in that day. It is likely that there will be considerable media focus on Afghanistan on October 7. It will be an important opportunity to for the anti-war/people's movement to return to the streets-something that is needed now more than ever!

All who support the call for October 7 are urged to attend and become part of the organizing effort. Knowing that everyone is very busy, we will keep the meeting to 90 minutes max. Flyers and posters will be available to take from the meeting.

End the war in Afghanistan and all the wars and occupations!
-Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Haiti...

Money for Jobs, Healthcare and Education, Not for the Pentagon!!

Get involved! Call 415-821-6545 for more info or to volunteer.

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



Support Carlos Montes as he goes to court Friday, August 12


President Barak Obama at 202-456-1111

Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-514-2001

Sample call: "My name is ________ and I am calling from [city, state]. I'm calling about Carlos Montes of Los Angeles. He is one of the anti-war activists being targeted by the FBI. I want you to tell Attorney General Holder [or President Obama]:

1. Drop the charges against Carlos Montes!

2. Stop the FBI and the Grand Jury repression of the other 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists.

3. Return all property to Carlos Montes and the other activists raided by the FBI.

The U.S. government should not be prosecuting us when we exercise our rights to freedom of speech and dissent."

On Friday, August 12, Carlos Montes will appear in a Los Angeles court again, for a preliminary hearing. At his last court date on July 6, Carlos pled "Not guilty!" to six charges, including a felony charge each for a firearm and ammunition, and four related to the permits' paperwork. Like millions of Americans, Carlos has for many years held legal permits. So why is it that all of a sudden the government is saying there is a problem? These charges are a pretext to attack Carlos for his years of activism.

Please join us in calling U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama, demanding a stop to the prosecution of Carlos Montes. We need to stop the persecution of political activists like Carlos, like the 23 Midwest anti-war and international solidarity activists, people like you and me.

Make no mistake; the U.S. government's trial of Carlos Montes is an attack on the immigrants' rights and anti-war movements. So please call today and let Holder and Obama 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 on the morning of Friday, August 12, in
Department 100 at the Criminal Courts Building, 210 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, when Carlos Montes appears.

About Carlos Montes:

Carlos Montes is a veteran Chicano activist known for his leadership of the 1968 East Los Angeles education reform movement (see film Walkout), the historic Chicano Moratorium against the U.S. war in Vietnam, and the recent immigrants' rights mega-marches of 2006. Carlos Montes was a co-founder of the Brown Berets, a Chicano youth organization that stood for justice, equality, and self-determination.

With the 2003 Bush administration war and occupation of Iraq, Montes helped form and lead L.A. Latinos Against War. In recent years, Carlos helped initiate and organize the Southern California Immigration Coalition, to fight against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and police repression.

About this case:

Now Montes himself is the target of government repression and the FBI's dirty tricks. When the FBI raided several Midwest homes and served subpoenas on September 24, 2010, Carlos Montes' name was listed on the FBI search warrant for the Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis--the organizing center for the 2008 Republican National Convention protests, where Carlos participated.

Then on May 17, 2011, the LA Sheriffs broke down Carlos' door, arrested him, and ransacked his home. They took political documents, a computer, cell phones and meeting notes having nothing to do with the charges. The FBI attempted to question Montes while he was handcuffed in a squad car, regarding the case of the 23 Midwest anti-war and solidarity activists.

On June 16, 2011, Carlos appeared in court and obtained the arrest documents showing the FBI initiated the raid. A reporter interviewing a Los Angeles Sheriff sergeant confirmed that the FBI was in charge. Carlos Montes is facing six felony charges with the possibility of 18 years in prison due to his political organizing. Carlos Montes case is part and parcel of the FBI raids and political repression centered in the Midwest. We need you to take action against this repression.
You can also invite Carlos Montes to speak using a live Internet video call. It is easy to do and works well. More details on the video calls coming next week.

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

Visit or write or call 612-379-3585.

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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

Add us to your address book


Redstone Bldg, 3rd floor conference room, 16th Street and Capp, San Francisco (wheelchair accessible).

Please make every effort to attend. Bring your friends! Reach out to new constituencies. JOIN US on AUGUST 13!

In solidarity,

Steering Committee, Northern California UNAC


Millions March In Harlem
Against the Attack on African People

the Bombing of Libya
the Illegal Sanctions in Zimbabwe
Bloomberg's Destruction
of Education, Housing, Health Care, Jobs and more!

Saturday, August 13, 2011
Pan Africanism Rising Against Imperialism!

Assemble at 10 AM
110th Street and Malcolm X Blvd
Harlem New York

Pan Africanism or Perish!
For more information and participation call (718) 398-1766
Forward to all your contacts and let us know how many will be attending!


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 !


United National Antiwar Committee
UNAC, P.O. Box 123, Delmar, New York 12054

Upcoming Actions:

August 20--Local actions or educational events on Other Wars
August 28--Organizing meeting for NATO/G-8 protests in Chicago
September 15 --Rally - Palestine is Coming to the UN!
October 6--Stop the Machine demonstration in Washington, DC
October 15--Local Afghanistan demonstrations or teach-ins
November11-13 --National UNAC Conference, Stamford, CT
May 15-22--Protest actions and educational events during NATO/G-8 Summits in Chicago

NEW YORK CITY, 6-18-11

A lively and hugely productive all-day meeting of the national UNAC Coordinating Committee and invited observers was attended by 69 people representing 46 organizations. The first leadership gathering since UNAC's formation at the national conference held in Albany last July was organized to review the current period and UNAC's first 10 months, and to project actions for the coming period.

Joe Lombardo, UNAC Co-Coordinator, began with an overview of the unprecedented events of the past year based on the US expansion of never-ending war along with a global economic crisis and attacks on workers and the poor at home. At the same time, conditions have worsened, the popular uprisings in North Africa and fightbacks in Madison, inspire new opportunities for organizing.

He started with the launch of UNAC in July, 2010 in Albany at the largest gathering of movement activists since 9/11 and the historic actions taken there that permanently changed the nature of the movement. One was the recognition of the monstrous growth of Islamophobia. The new alliance in defense of this community inspired the formation of the Muslim Peace Coalition and a broad coalition of organizations defending civil liberties. The second was the long overdue stand in solidarity with the Palestinians by demanding "End All US Aid to Israel". This unequivocal position has ended the marginalization of Palestinian rights and brought the antiwar and the Palestine solidarity movements together for the strengthening of both.

A highlight of the past year was the success of the April 9-10 national mobilizations, the largest in many years. These demonstrations were also the most diverse with a large number of Muslim families marching with students, Palestine solidarity activists, and thousands of others in NYC and SF.

Co-Coordinator, Marilyn Levin, addressed The Way Forward and Building UNAC. She outlined the challenge we face in this difficult period as we enter an election cycle and stressed that maintaining our basic principles of independence from political parties, unity of purpose and action in a broad, inclusive movement, defense of all individuals and constituencies under attack, and a commitment to mass action as the major strategy for movement building is the way to build the movement and strengthen UNAC.

Although the majority of the American people are with us re: ending the wars and redirecting the economy to maintain social services, the antiwar movement is still fragmented and the major constituencies do not act in a unified way, weakening all. There is even a discussion of whether we need an independent antiwar movement and the efficacy of mass action as counter to small acts of civil resistance. Given the current stresses, it seems inevitable that fight backs will increase and the need for a unified opposition will grow in spite of attempts to bring the movement into quiescence in the Democratic Party juggernaut.

Malik Mujahid of the Muslim Peace Coalition pointed out the growth of hate groups and violence with many states passing Islamopohobic, anti-immigrant and anti-union laws. He stressed outreach to faith groups and labor and ensuring the peace movement reflects the diversity of America, especially groups that are solidly against the war like students, Latinos, immigrants, African American, Muslims, and Native Americans. He emphasized the importance of using personal 1:1 communication to counter the din of electronic communication, while also using social and news media effectively. He also raised the issue of reframing the 9/11 message for the 10th anniversary when we can expect to see increased Islamophobia and repression of civil liberties. We can't appear to be anti-American or anti-religious. We must identify with America's future based on growing diversity.

Nellie Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council & Black Agenda Report introduced a motion that stressed that our outreach and public statements must be broadened to include all oppressed nationalities, not only Muslims. This passed unanimously.

A discussion of upcoming UNAC actions followed.

Chris Gauvreau, CT United for Peace, addressed the fall actions marking the 10th year of war on Afghanistan. UNAC has endorsed and will build the October 6 actions in Washington, DC that will include nonviolent civil resistance actions and a plan to stay on. UNAC has also called for peaceful, legal national local demonstrations or other actions on Sat., Oct. 15 so that thousands will be visible in the streets in October.

A call for a second large, authoritative movement conference November 11-13, in Stamford, CT, was approved. Ashley Smith of the ISO outlined the plans and motivated the importance of bringing the entire movement together for education, training, bringing in new forces, and voting on action proposals for the coming period. A committee is already working on inviting prominent speakers and organizing workshops. The Coordinating Committee will formulate an Action Program to bring to the conference.

The escalation, brutality, and continuation of the UN/US war on Libya calls for vigorous action to defend the Libyan people and demand immediate withdrawal of all military forces. UNAC calls for demonstrations on Monday, June 27, the date that NATO has decided to extend hostilities for 90 more days. Regardless of different political views on the Qaddafi regime and the nature of the opposition in Libya, we all agree that foreign military forces, funding, and manipulation must cease and we support self-determination for the Libyans.

Sara Flounders from the International Action Center reported that NATO is coming to the US in the spring of 2012 for an international summit. UNAC will issue an international call for massive actions and a gathering of all sectors of the movement wherever and whenever this takes places. This will be the definitive spring action to galvanize the movement and demonstrate widespread opposition to US wars for domination and resources. (It is now known that this will be a NATO and G-8 gathering in Chicago May 15-22, 2012 and a broad call has been issued nationally.)

The gathering addressed proposals for ongoing work and actions.

There was a panel on fighting Islamophobia, attacks on civil liberties and targeting activists. Imam Latif described his experience with American Airlines not allowing he and his son to fly with no basis other than anti-Muslim/anti-Black profiling and bias, which they are legally challenging. Steve Downs from Project SALAM put the current attacks on Muslims (700,000 have been approached by the FBI) and activists in an historical perspective from the 1960's and 1970's attacks on black activists and civil rights workers and COINTELPRO tactics using agent provocateurs and frame-ups, resurrected with a vengeance. Attacks today include environmentalists and many groups of dissenters, whistle blowers, scapegoated communities. There are many political prisoners from the past that we mustn't forget. He also stressed the abuse prisoners suffer.

Jess Sundin, one of the targeted activists from the Twin Cities described the FBI targeting Latino activist Carlos Montes with trumped up criminal charges. His next court date is July 6 and actions will be organized in support. Carlos is available to speak and this is an opportunity to forge connections with the Latino community. Debra Sweet, World Can't Wait, reported on defense of Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks and the dangerous introduction of espionage charges and the death penalty. We are also approaching the ten year anniversary of opening Guantanamo prison. UNAC has played a leading role in calling for unified defense of all under attack.

Chris Hutchinson, from the CT Bring Our War $$ Home campaign, spoke of the exciting opportunities opening with the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign. This national effort connects the war and the economy and is a natural vehicle for outreach and involvement with all the constituencies impacted by the economic crisis, particularly with workers, the poor, and youth. Creative use of petitions, resolutions, referenda, town meetings can be effectively used for outreach, education, and publicity. This outreach campaign is exciting to young activists and also to those who are engaged. It gives people who are never asked for their opinion a sense of ownership - this is "our" money.

Kathy Kelly, Voices of Creative Nonviolence, urged that we try to impact the electoral conversation by calling candidates to be accountable for their positions on the wars and other issues and pursue getting answers and to support actions like the veterans riding from Ground Zero to the Pentagon and the October 6 actions, and raising antiwar resolutions at Democratic Party caucuses.

The Other Wars have often been neglected by the antiwar movement. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report explained that Black is Back was formed to expose Obama and call attention to US wars at home and abroad. These include US-proxy wars in Africa where the death tolls are far higher than in the acknowledged wars, particularly in Congo and Somalia. Haiti has lost its sovereignty and has the status of a protectorate, the fate awaiting Libya.

The evidence that there is a war going on at home is the number of prisoners, particularly young men of color. Other aspects of other wars discussed included the so-called "War on Drugs" and its devastating impact on Mexico, Colombia, and minorities and the poor in the US. Black youth do not use drugs disproportionately; however, the amount of surveillance and harsh penalties are disproportionate resulting in the alarming rates of incarceration. Iran and other countries that the US demonizes and threatens were highlighted; it is important that we take a firm position of non-intervention in sovereign countries. A resolution passed to condemn the role of the International Criminal Court in subverting its legal mandate through selective indictments of Africans.

Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Union and Black Agenda Report emphasized that the issue of mass incarceration is a burning issue with 2.3 million in prison and a disproportion of prisoners are African-American and Latino young men. UNAC needs to expand its base into the Black community by recognizing the crisis and supporting a national movement to end this assault on the youth and combat the prison industry, beginning with a statement.

UNAC has endorsed the Black is Back August 20 call for actions re: the Other Wars. A resource list of books, articles and speakers will be distributed.

There were several actions generated by panelists re: Palestine solidarity. Jenna Bittar from Hampshire College represented Students for Justice in Palestine. She pointed out that antiwar groups are scarce on college campuses and that SJP's have been the most politically active, particularly in BDS campaigns. She speculated that students have felt fairly powerless but the youth involvement and leadership in Egypt has raised awareness of student power and students might be more open to actions put forth by UNAC. Kathy Kelly will be on the U.S. boat to Gaza and spoke of plans to hold a memorial service for all those who have died on the boat. Stan Heller from the Middle East Crisis Committee brought a resolution from Stan, Medea Benjamin (Code PINK), and Kathy Kelly in solidarity with the flotilla. Actions included forming committees of boat watch volunteers to spread information; rallies, vigils, and meetings during the sailing; and demos the day after any attack. This resolution passed unanimously along with a resolution to denounce the U.S. tax dollar-financed murders of demonstrators for the right of return and to hold solidarity demonstrations with the third Nakba Right of Return demonstrations.

Judy Bello, Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, spoke to the use of drones becoming the preferred weapons and surveillance tools for targeted assassinations. Demonstrators were arrested for protests at the Hancock AF drone base in Syracuse and expect trials this fall.

Bernadette Ellorin, Chair of BAYAN USA, spoke of the movement to close U.S. bases abroad. She described the Philippines as the "first Vietnam" where torture techniques and counterinsurgency tactics were developed and exported. UNAC voted to endorse a day of action to oppose military exercises on February 4, 2012, the anniversary of the Philippine-American war. She stressed the importance of recognizing the scope of U.S. military hegemony around the world. A motion was passed to oppose U.S. military bases, trainings, and funding and to support an educational campaign on U.S. counterinsurgency.

It was pointed out that Pakistan is the least understood country among the U.S. wars. Workshops were encouraged for the fall.

The following organizations were represented at the UNAC leadership meeting on June 18, 2011 in New York City

Action for a Progressive Pakistan; Al-Awda Palestine Right to ReturnCoalition - NY; Bayan-USA; Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace; Bail Out the People Movement; Black Agenda Report; Black is Back; Boston Stop the Wars; Code Pink; Committee to Stop FBI Repression; Ct. United for Peace; Fellowship of Reconciliation; Green Party; Haiti Liberte'; Hampshire Students for Justice in Palestine; Honduras Resistencia- USA; International Action Center; International Support Haiti Network; International League of People'sStruggle; International Socialist Organization; Islamic Leadership Council ofMetropolitan NY; Jersey City Peace Movement; May 1st Workers and Immigrant Rights Coalition; Mobilization Against War and Occupation - Canada; Metro West Peace Action; Middle East Crisis Committee; Muslim Peace Coalition; New England United; Nodutdol Korean Community Development; Pakistan Solidarity Network; Philly Against War; Project Salam; Rhode Island Mobilization Committee; Rochester Against War; SI - Solidarity with Iran; Socialist Action; Socialist Party USA; Thomas MertonCenter Pittsburgh; United for Justice and Peace; Veterans for Peace; Voices for Creative Nonviolence; West Hartford Citizens for Peace; WESPAC; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; Workers World; World Can't Wait


please forward widely)

National Call to Action!
Organizing Meeting!
For Jobs, Healthcare, Education, Pensions,
Housing and the Environment, Not War!
No to NATO/G-8 Warmakers!
No to War and Austerity!
You are invited to attend a Chicago/National Organizing Meeting:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Kent College of Law, Room C50

565 West Adams Street


At the invitation of the White House, military and civilian representatives of the 28-nation U.S.-commanded and largely U.S.-financed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and heads of state and finance ministers of the G-8 world economic powers are convening to Chicago, May 15-22, 2012.

The U.S./NATO military behemoth enforces the interests of the global great power elites. $Trillions are expended for never-ending wars and occupations while $trillions in austerity programs are extracted from working people the world over.

The G-8 nations, the richest on earth, will assemble to plan ever new draconian measures seeking to resolve the problems created by their crisis-ridden and profit-driven social order at the expense of working people and the poor everywhere.

Theirs is the agenda of the heads of state of the world's richest nations and their imperial military-industrial establishments - the agenda of the banks and corporations - the agenda for austerity, unprecedented social cutbacks, union-busting, environmental destruction, global warming/climate crisis, racism, sexism, homophobia, deepening attacks on civil liberties, democratic rights and never-ending war.

Ours is the agenda for humanity's future. We will mobilize in the tens of thousands from cities across the U.S. and around the world. On Tuesday, May 15, the opening day of the NATO/G-8 deliberations, we will announce our agenda with a press conference, rally and peaceful march. On Saturday, May 19 we will mobilize for a massive march and rally - exercising our democratic rights to peaceful assembly to demand:

• Bring All U.S./NATO Troops, Mercenaries & War Contractors Home Now! Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, the Middle East and Elsewhere.
• End U.S. Aid to Israel! End U.S. Aid to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine! End the Siege of Gaza! No to Threats of War Against Iran! End the Sanctions Now!
• Trillions for Jobs, Housing, Education, Health Care, Pensions and the Environment! No to Attacks on Unions, Cutbacks, Layoffs, Mortgage Foreclosures and Austerity! Bring the War Dollars Home!
• Tax the Rich, Not Working People! No to Corporate and Bank Bailouts!
• Civil liberties for All! End Racist Attacks on Muslim and Arab Communities! End Racist Attacks on Blacks, Latinos and Immigrants! Full Legal Rights for All! No to FBI Repression and Grand Jury Subpoenas to Antiwar and Social Justice Activists!

We will demand that our guaranteed civil liberties and democratic rights be respected - that our right to peaceful assembly and political protest be honored - that the voices of the people not be stifled!

The following organizations/individuals are among the initial Chicago-area endorsers:

Hatem Abudayyeh, *US Palestinian Community Network, Chicago • Dave Bernt, Shop Stewart, Teamsters Local 705 •_Bill Chambers, Committee Against Political Repression • _Sarah Chambers, Executive Board Member, Chicago Teachers Union • _Mark Clements, Campaign to End the Death Penalty • _Vince Emmanuelle, *Iraq Veterans Against the War_ • Randy Evans, Global Reach, Inc. • Chris Geovanis, Hammerhard Media Works • _PatHunt, Chicago Area Code Pink, Chicago Area Peace Action • _Joe Isobaker, Committee to Stop FBI Repression • Dennis Kosuth, *National Nurses United, union steward • Kait McIntyre, Students for a Democratic Society, University of Illinois - Chicago_ • Jorge Mujica, March 10th Immigrant Rights Activist_ • Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence • _Eric Ruder, Chicago Network to Send US Boat to Gaza • _Adam Shills, *Illinois Educational Association • Newland Smith, Episcopalian Peace Fellowship • _Sarah Smith, Committee to Stop FBI Repression • _Students for Justice in Palestine at School of the Art Institute of Chicago • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, *Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign • _Andy Thayer, Gay Liberation Network and Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism_ *Organization for identification purposes only.

The May 15 and 19, 2012 mobilizations were initiated by the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC) in partnership with antiwar and social justice groups in Chicago, across the U.S. and internationally. At the June 18, NYC National Coordinating Committee meeting of UNAC the 49 groups present unanimously adopted a resolution to protest the NATO/G8 meetings. They are listed as follows:

Action for a Progressive Pakistan • Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition - NY • BAYAN-USA • Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace • Bail Out the People Movement • Black Agenda Report • Black is Back • Boston Stop the Wars • Boston UNAC • Code Pink • Committee to Stop FBI Repression • Ct. United for Peace • Fellowship of Reconciliation • Green Party • Haiti Liberte' • Hampshire Students for Justice in Palestine • Honduras Resistencia - USA • International Action Center •_International Support Haiti Network • International League of People's Struggle_• International Socialist Organization • Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan NY • Jersey City Peace Movement_• May 1st Workers and Immigrant Rights Coalition • Mobilization Against War and Occupation - Canada • Metro West Peace Action • Middle East Crisis Committee • Muslim Peace Coalition • New England United • Nodutdol Korean Community Development • Pakistan Solidarity Network • Philly Against War • Project Salam • Rhode Island Mobilization Committee • Rochester Against War • SI - Solidarity with Iran • Socialist Action • Socialist Party USA • Thomas Merton Center Pittsburgh • Veterans for Peace • Voices for Creative Nonviolence • West Hartford Citizens for Peace • WESPAC • Women's International League for Peace and Freedom • Workers World • World Can't Wait

A national coordinating committee and its Chicago counterpart, open to and inclusive of the direct and democratic participation of all antiwar and social justice organizations is in formation. Join us! Endorse the May 15 and May 19, 2012 Chicago mobilizations against the NATO-G-8 warmakers.

Contact: No to NATO/G-8 Warmakers: A National Network Opposing War and Austerity


Chicago: 773-301-0109 or 773-209-1187
National: 518-227-6947


Palestine Is Coming to the U.N.!
Rally, Thursday, September 15, 5 pm: Gather at Times Square
6 pm: March to Grand Central and then over to the U.N. to demand:

Palestine: Sovereignty Now!

Palestine: Enforce the Right of Return!

Palestine: Full Equality for All!

5 pm: Gather at Times Square

6 pm: March to Grand Central and then over to the U.N., as we say:

End All U.S. Aid to Israel!

End the Occupation!

Support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions!

For more information, email

Sponsored by the Palestine U.N. Solidarity Coalition


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]


Visualizing a Trillion: Just How Big That Number Is?
"1 million seconds is about 11.5 days, 1 billion seconds is about 32 years while a trillion seconds is equal to 32,000 years."
Digital Inspiration

How Much Is $1 Trillion?

Courtesy the credit crisis and big bailout packages, the figure "trillion" has suddenly become part of our everyday conversations. One trillion dollars, or 1 followed by 12 zeros, is lots of money but have you ever tried visualizing how big that number actually is?

For people who can visualize one million dollars, the comparison made on CNN should give you an idea about a trillion - "if you start spending a million dollars every single day since Jesus was born, you still wouldn't have spend a trillion dollars".

Another mathematician puts it like this: "1 million seconds is about 11.5 days, 1 billion seconds is about 32 years while a trillion seconds is equal to 32,000 years".

Now if the above comparisons weren't really helpful, check another illustration that compares the built of an average human being against a stack of $100 currency notes bundles.

A bundle of $100 notes is equivalent to $10,000 and that can easily fit in your pocket. 1 million dollars will probably fit inside a standard shopping bag while a billion dollars would occupy a small room of your house.

With this background in mind, 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) is 1000 times bigger than 1 billion and would therefore take up an entire football field - the man is still standing in the bottom-left corner. (See visuals -- including a video -- at website:


One World One Revolution -- MUST SEE VIDEO -- Powerful and

"When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty." Thomas Jefferson


Support the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike!

This video explains what the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike is all about, with former prisoners detailing why prisoners are protesting, how this action relates to a history of prisoner-led resistance, and what people outside prison can do to support the hunger strike.

This video was made by a coalition called Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity. For updates on the hunger strike, check out:

[The footage near the end of the video is of youth in Oakland organizing to stop gang injunctions, another struggle you should definitely stay informed on. Visit:]


Hayes Carll performs his new song "KMAG YOYO" (a military acronym for "Kiss My Ass Guys, You're On Your Own") from his new album also called KMAG YOYO on SiriusXM Outlaw Country.


Very reminiscent of Obama's address last night (July 25, 2011)

Pat Paulsen 1968


Japan: angry Fukushima citizens confront government (video)
Posted by Xeni Jardin on Monday, Jul 25th at 11:36am

The video above documents what I am told is a meeting between Fukushima residents and government officials from Tokyo, said to have taken place on 19 July 2011. The citizens are demanding their government evacuate people from a broader area around the Fukushima nuclear plant, because of ever-increasing fears about the still-spreading radiation. They are demanding that their government provide financial and logistical support to get out. In the video above, you can see that some participants actually brought samples of their children's urine to the meeting, and they demanded that the government test it for radioactivity.

When asked by one person at the meeting about citizens' right to live a healthy and radioactive-free life, Local Nuclear Emergency Response Team Director Akira Satoh replies "I don't know if they have that right."


Roseanne Grills Politician About Taxes, Wages, Unions, Etc.


Japanese Nuclear Reactors Still A Major Problem


BART protest

Uploaded by TheBayCitizen on Jul 11, 2011

Protesters heckled deputy BART police chief Daniel Hartwig as he tries to get them to close the door on the BART train. About 50 gathered at Civic Center Station to protest the BART police shooting of Charles Hill.


Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class [Full Film]

Narrated by Ed Asner

Based on the book by Pepi Leistyna, Class Dismissed navigates the steady stream of narrow working class representations from American television's beginnings to today's sitcoms, reality shows, police dramas, and daytime talk shows.

Featuring interviews with media analysts and cultural historians, this documentary examines the patterns inherent in TV's disturbing depictions of working class people as either clowns or social deviants -- stereotypical portrayals that reinforce the myth of meritocracy.

Class Dismissed breaks important new ground in exploring the ways in which race, gender, and sexuality intersect with class, offering a more complex reading of television's often one-dimensional representations. The video also links television portrayals to negative cultural attitudes and public policies that directly affect the lives of working class people.

Featuring interviews with Stanley Aronowitz, (City University of New York); Nickel and Dimed author, Barbara Ehrenreich; Herman Gray (University of California-Santa Cruz); Robin Kelley (Columbia University); Pepi Leistyna (University of Massachusetts-Boston) and Michael Zweig (State University of New York-Stony Brook). Also with Arlene Davila, Susan Douglas, Bambi Haggins, Lisa Henderson, and Andrea Press.

Sections: Class Matters | The American Dream Machine | From the Margins to the Middle | Women Have Class | Class Clowns | No Class | Class Action


Let's torture the truth out of suicide bombers says new CIA chief Petraeus


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.


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


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!


Licensed to Kill Video

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


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


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.


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"


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


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




Statement by Angela Davis regarding Troy Davis

I urgently appeal to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and to the members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole - L. Gale Buckner , Robert E. Keller, James E. Donald, Albert Murray, and Terry Barnard - to spare the life of Troy Davis, a young African American citizen of your state.

I hope everyone within sight or sound of my words or my voice will likewise urgently call and fax Gov. Neal and the members of the Board. Under Georgia law, only they can stop the execution of Troy Davis.

First of all, there is very compelling evidence that Troy Davis may be innocent of the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail in 1989 in Savannah. The case against Davis has all but collapsed: seven of nine witnesses against him have recanted their testimony and said that they were pressured by police to lie; and nine other witnesses have implicated one of the remaining two as the actual killer. No weapon or physical evidence linking Davis to the murder was ever found. No jury has ever heard this new information, and four of the jurors who originally found him guilty have signed statements in support of Mr. Davis.

More importantly, the planned execution of a likely innocent young Black man in the state of Georgia has become a terrible blot on the status of the United States in the international community of nations. All modern industrial and democratic nations and 16 states within the United States have abolished capital punishment. The fact that the overwhelming majority of the men and women on death rows across the country are Black and other people of color, and are universally poor, severely undermines our country's standing in the eyes of the people of the world.

Most importantly, the execution of Troy Davis will contribute to an atmosphere of violence and racism and a devaluation of life itself within our country. If we can execute anyone, especially a man who may be innocent of any crime, it fosters disrespect for the law and life itself. This exacerbates every social problem at a time when the people of our country face some of the most difficult challenges regarding our economic security and future.

I urge everyone to join with me in urging Governor Neal and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole to stay the execution of Troy Davis and commute his death sentence. Give this young man a life, and an opportunity to prove his innocence.

Please, call or fax today. Stop the execution of Troy Davis!

Gov. Nathan Deal
Tel: (404)651-1776
Fax: (404)657-7332

Web contact form: web:

Georgia Board of Parsons and Parole
L. Gale Buckner
Robert E. Keller
James E. Donald
Albert Murray
Terry Barnard

Tel: (404) 656-5651
Fax: (404) 651-8502

Angela Y. Davis
July 14, 2011


Say No to Police Repression of NATO/G8 Protests

The CSFR Signs Letter to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

The CSFR is working with the United National Antiwar Committee and many other anti-war groups to organize mass rallies and protests on May 15 and May 19, 2012. We will protest the powerful and wealthy war-makers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Group of 8. Mobilize your groups, unions, and houses of worship. Bring your children, friends, and community. Demand jobs, healthcare, housing and education, not war!

Office of the Mayor
City of Chicago
To: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

We, the undersigned, demand that your administration grant us permits for protests on May 15 and 19, 2012, including appropriate rally gathering locations and march routes to the venue for the NATO/G8 summit taking place that week. We come to you because your administration has already spoken to us through Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. He has threatened mass arrests and violence against protestors.

[Read the full text of the letter here:]

For the 10s of thousands of people from Chicago, around the country and across the world who will gather here to protest against NATO and the G8, we demand that the City of Chicago:

1. Grant us permits to rally and march to the NATO/G8 summit
2. Guarantee our civil liberties
3. Guarantee us there will be no spying, infiltration of organizations or other attacks by the FBI or partner law enforcement agencies.



On June 27, Leonard Peltier was removed from the general population at USP-Lewisburg and thrown in the hole. Little else is known at this time. Due to his age and health status, please join us in demanding his immediate return to general population.

Thomas Kane, Acting Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Web Site:
Phone: (202) 307-3198
Fax: (202) 514-6620
Address: 320 1st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534

Launched into cyberspace by the
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee
PO Box 7488, Fargo, ND 58106


(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


Pelican Bay Prisoners Go On Hunger Strike to Protest Grave Conditions July 1, 2011

Lawyers, Advocates, Organizations Hold Press Conference, Voice Prisoner Demand

Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Communications Director, Critical Resistance
Office: 510 444 0484; Cell: 510 517 6612

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


Keep the Arboretum Free
Dear Arboretum Supporter,

It's been a few months since the Board of Supervisors extended the non-resident fee at the Arboretum until September 30th, 2013. Such policy and ongoing decisions are continuing to greatly impact our neighborhoods and city resources and out of this widespread concern a new coalition has formed - Take Back Our Parks. Community and park advocates have joined together from across the city, including representatives from Keep Arboretum Free, with the common goals of keeping parks and recreation facilities open and accessible to all, stopping privatization of public park properties, protecting the natural character of our parklands and ensuring inclusive community input in planning and decision-making.

This past week a key effort was made towards some of these goals when four City Supervisors placed a measure on the November ballot to put a moratorium on fees for park resources and the long-term leasing of club-houses to private organizations. The Parks For The Public measure can be an important step towards ending the loss of access and growing privatization that is a fallout of the Recreation and Park Department's strategy of using parks as a revenue source and which has imposed policies such as the Arboretum fee.

Please visit the TBOP website to learn more about the Parks For The Public ordinance available for voters on the ballot this fall:

It is vital that the public have a chance to shape the issues regarding our parks. We encourage you to write to the four sponsoring Supervisors (Avalos, Campos, Mar and Mirkarimi) to thank them for introducing Parks For The Public and let them know that you support limiting the privatization and unwarranted commercialization of our parks.

Please help spread the news about this measure to your community in the city and thank you very much for your continued support.


The Campaign to Keep The Arboretum Free


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.

Read the complete public letter and add your name at:

Courage to Resist (
on behalf of the Bradley Manning Support Network (
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610


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

Please make a donation today at (PayPal) on the right side of your screen. Also you can write to:
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
P.O. Box 14183
Minneapolis, MN 55414

This is a critical time for us to stand together, defend free speech, and defend those who help to organize for peace and justice, both at home and abroad!

Thank you for your generosity! Tom Burke


Short Video About Al-Awda's Work
The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected over the past nine years.
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, depends on your financial support to carry out its work.

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


Support the troops who refuse to fight!


D. ARTICLES IN FULL (Unless otherwise noted)


1) One Tainted Water Well, and Concern There May Be More
August 3, 2011

2) A Year Later, Chile's '33' Are Mostly Unemployed
August 3, 2011

3) Our Commando War in 120 Countries: Uncovering the Military's Secret Operations In the Obama Era
By Nick Turse, AlterNet and TomDispatch
Posted on August 3, 2011, Printed on August 4, 2011

4) Japan's Prime Minister Fires Three Nuclear Energy Officials
August 4, 2011

5) Death of Homeless Man After Beating by Police Stirs Outrage
August 3, 2011

6) Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves
August 3, 2011

7) The Wrong Worries
August 4, 2011

8) Disapproval Rate for Congress at Record 82% After Debt Talks
August 4, 2011

9) Cuba Upholds Jailed American's 15-Year Sentence
[Perhaps the U.S. could make a trade--FREE THE CUBAN FIVE! ...BW]
August 5, 2011

10) Shell Gets Tentative Approval to Drill in Arctic
August 4, 2011

11) Judge Allows Torture Suit Against Rumsfeld to Go Forward
August 4, 2011, 4:42 pm

12) Time to Say It: Double Dip Recession May Be Happening
August 4, 2011

13) Length of Unemployment Continues to Break Records
August 5, 2011, 12:00 pm

14) Specialists Recognize Breastfeeding Is on the Rise in Cuba
"In Cuba, women have the right to one year of paid maternity leave."
Friday, 05 August 2011 14:19

15) Egypt's new regime rules with an iron fist
"'An army sniper shot my brother dead, the bullet went through his forehead and it came out on the other side. I saw it. No one here has a weapon like this - only soldiers do,' said Cairo resident Reda Radian Malak."
Published: 5 August, 2011, 09:39
Edited: 5 August, 2011, 09:49

16) Political Roots in U.S. Economic Crisis
"The downtick in the unemployment rate, to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent, is also dismaying on closer inspection. It does not reflect an increase in the share of workers finding jobs. Rather, it reflects a shrinking labor force, as the long-term unemployed and other jobless workers give up looking for jobs. If nearly three million sidelined workers were included in the official unemployment rate, it would be 10.7 percent. (The rate is higher still, 16.1 percent, when people who can only find part-time jobs are included.)"
New York Times Editorial
August 5, 2011

17) Officers Guilty of Shooting Six in New Orleans
August 5, 2011

18) Steep Increases Proposed for PATH Fares and Tolls at Hudson Crossings
[This reflects the myriad of ways capitalism has of making working people pay for everything while the wealthy get tax breaks. Just imagine having to pay $15.00 a day just to get to work!]
August 5, 2011

19) More Spending Cuts on the Way: The Big Issues
"Many Congressional Democrats oppose benefit cuts, and they were successful in excluding Social Security from the deficit reduction package. Changes to the massive retirement and disability program, however, could be on the table when the new joint committee considers further spending cuts."
August 6, 2011


1) One Tainted Water Well, and Concern There May Be More
August 3, 2011

For decades, oil and gas industry executives as well as regulators have maintained that a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that is used for most natural gas wells has never contaminated underground drinking water.

The claim is based in part on a simple fact: fracking, in which water and toxic chemicals are injected at high pressure into the ground to break up rocks and release the gas trapped there, occurs thousands of feet below drinking-water aquifers. Because of that distance, the drilling chemicals pose no risk, industry officials have argued.

"There have been over a million wells hydraulically fractured in the history of the industry, and there is not one, not one, reported case of a freshwater aquifer having ever been contaminated from hydraulic fracturing. Not one," Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, said last year at a Congressional hearing on drilling.

It is a refrain that not only drilling proponents, but also state and federal lawmakers, even past and present Environmental Protection Agency directors, have repeated often.

But there is in fact a documented case, and the E.P.A. report that discussed it suggests there may be more. Researchers, however, were unable to investigate many suspected cases because their details were sealed from the public when energy companies settled lawsuits with landowners.

Current and former E.P.A. officials say this practice continues to prevent them from fully assessing the risks of certain types of gas drilling.

"I still don't understand why industry should be allowed to hide problems when public safety is at stake," said Carla Greathouse, the author of the E.P.A. report that documents a case of drinking water contamination from fracking. "If it's so safe, let the public review all the cases."

Eric Wohlschlegel, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, dismissed the assertion that sealed settlements have hidden problems with gas drilling, and he added that countless academic, federal and state investigators conducted extensive research on groundwater contamination issues, and have found that drinking water contamination from fracking is highly improbable.

"Settlements are sealed for a variety of reasons, are common in litigation, and are done at the request of both landowners and operators," Mr. Wohlschlegel said.

Still, the documented E.P.A. case, which has gone largely unnoticed for decades, includes evidence that many industry representatives were aware of it and also fought the agency's attempts to include other cases in the final study.

The report is not recent - it was published in 1987, and the contamination was discovered in 1984. Drilling technology and safeguards in well design have improved significantly since then. Nevertheless, the report does contradict what has emerged as a kind of mantra in the industry and in the government.

The report concluded that hydraulic fracturing fluids or gel used by the Kaiser Exploration and Mining Company contaminated a well roughly 600 feet away on the property of James Parsons in Jackson County, W.Va., referring to it as "Mr. Parson's water well."

"When fracturing the Kaiser gas well on Mr. James Parson's property, fractures were created allowing migration of fracture fluid from the gas well to Mr. Parson's water well," according to the agency's summary of the case. "This fracture fluid, along with natural gas was present in Mr. Parson's water, rendering it unusable."

Asked about the cause of the incident, Mr. Wohlschlegel emphasized that the important factor was that the driller and the regulator had not known about the nearby aquifer. But in comments submitted to the E.P.A. at the time about the report, the petroleum institute acknowledged that this was indeed a case of drinking water contamination from fracking.

"The damage here," the institute wrote, referring to Mr. Parsons' contaminated water well, "results from an accident or malfunction of the fracturing process."

Mr. Wohlschlegel cautioned however that the comments provided at the time by the institute were not based on its own research and therefore it cannot be sure that other factors didn't play a role.

In their report, E.P.A. officials also wrote that Mr. Parsons' case was highlighted as an "illustrative" example of the hazards created by this type of drilling, and that legal settlements and nondisclosure agreements prevented access to scientific documentation of other incidents.

"This is typical practice, for instance, in Texas," the report stated. "In some cases, the records of well-publicized damage incidents are almost entirely unavailable for review."

Bipartisan federal legislation before Congress would require judges to consider public health and safety before sealing court records or approving settlement agreements.

Dan Derkics, a 17-year veteran of the environmental agency who oversaw research for the report, said that hundreds of other cases of drinking water contamination were found, many of which looked from preliminary investigations to have been caused by hydraulic fracturing like the one from West Virginia. But they were unable to learn more about them.

"I can assure you that the Jackson County case was not unique," said Mr. Derkics, who retired from the agency in 1994. "That is why the drinking water concerns are real."

The New York Times was made aware of the 1987 E.P.A. report and some of its supporting research materials by Ms. Greathouse, the study's lead author. Other records pertaining to the well were obtained from state archives or from the agency's library.

Some industry officials criticized the research behind the report at the time. Their comments were among the dozens submitted by the industry to the agency.

"It is clear from reading the 228 alleged damage cases that E.P.A.'s contractor was careless in its investigation and presentation of this material," a letter from the American Petroleum Institute said.

The organization faulted a draft of the report as failing to include enough comment from state regulators and energy companies, and as including cases that were poorly documented or outside the scope of the project. In remarks to the agency at the time, the petroleum institute also emphasized that safeguards in West Virginia had improved because of the incident, which the organization referred to as an aberration and said was potentially caused by a malfunction.

"As described in the detail write-up, this is not a normal result of fracturing, as it ruins the productive capability of the wells," the institute said about the case.

A spokesman for ExxonMobil, Alan T. Jeffers, was asked about Mr. Tillerson's comments to Congress in light of the documents relating to the West Virginia case. He said that Mr. Tillerson, whose company is the largest producer of natural gas in the United States, was only echoing what various state and federal regulators had said.

On the issue of sealed settlements, Mr. Jeffers said that investigators and regulators could use subpoenas if they really wanted access to the information.

Improvements in fracking have led to a boom in natural gas drilling, enabling energy companies to tap vast reserves of gas in previously inaccessible shale formations deep underground.

Most drilling experts indeed have said that contamination of drinking water with fracking liquids is highly improbable. Even critics of fracking tend to agree that if wells are designed properly, drilling fluids should not affect underground drinking water. Industry officials also emphasize that all forms of drilling involve some degree of risk. The question, they say, is what represents an acceptable level. Once chemicals contaminate underground drinking-water sources, they are very difficult to remove, according to federal and industry studies. One E.P.A. official involved with a current study being conducted by the agency on the risks of fracking on drinking water said the agency encountered continuing challenges to get access to current cases because of legal settlements.

"Our hands are tied," said the official, who spoke anonymously because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.

Brendan Gilfillan, a spokesman for the agency, said that it had indeed encountered these barriers but that there were still enough alternate cases to study.

A 2004 study by the agency concluded that hydraulic fracturing of one kind of natural gas well - coal-bed methane wells - posed "little or no threat" to underground drinking water supplies. The study was later criticized by some within the agency as being unscientific and unduly influenced by industry.

Asked about the 1987 E.P.A. report and the West Virginia well, Mr. Gilfillan said the agency was reviewing them closely.

Instances of gas bubbling from fracked sites into nearby water wells have been extensively documented. The industry has also acknowledged that fracking liquids can end up in aquifers due to failures in the casing of wells, spills that occur above ground or through other factors. However, the drilling industry emphasizes that no such cases exist in which the fracking process itself caused drilling liquids to contaminate drinking water.

Both types of contamination can render the water unusable. However, contamination from fracking fluids is widely considered more worrisome because the fluids can contain carcinogens like benzene.

The E.P.A.'s 1987 report does not discuss the specific pathway that the fracking fluid or gel took to get to Mr. Parsons' water well in West Virginia or how those fluids moved from a depth of roughly 4,200 feet, where the natural gas well was fracked, to the water well, which was about 400 feet underground.

However, state records not included in the agency's final report show the existence of four abandoned wells nearby that were deeper than the fracked gas well. State inspectors and drilling experts suggested in interviews that the contamination in Mr. Parsons' well might have been caused when fracking pushed chemicals from the gas well into nearby abandoned wells where the fracking pressure might have helped them migrate up toward the water well.

This well was fracked using gas and water, and with far less pressure and water than is commonly used today.

The Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization, studied the Parsons case extensively over the past year, interviewing local residents and former state regulators as well as reviewing state and federal documents.

The organization found at least four abandoned gas wells within 1,700 feet of the gas well Kaiser drilled on Mr. Parsons' property and roughly the same distance from the water well. All of these abandoned wells had been plugged with cement and other materials but had some of their casing removed, which is common for such wells, according to state records.

"The evidence is pretty clear that the E.P.A. got it right about this being a clear case of drinking water contamination from fracking," said Dusty Horwitt, a lawyer from the Environmental Working Group who investigated the Parsons case.

The risk of abandoned wells serving as conduits for contamination is one that the E.P.A. is currently researching as part of its national study on fracking. Many states lack complete records with the number or location of these abandoned wells and they lack the resources to ensure that abandoned and active wells are inspected regularly.

A 1999 report by the Department of Energy said there were about 2.5 million abandoned oil and natural gas wells in the United States at the time.

Mr. Parsons said in a brief interview that he could not comment on the case. Court records indicate that in 1987 he reached a settlement with the drilling company for an undisclosed amount.

Ms. Greathouse, the former environmental research contractor and the lead author of the 1987 E.P.A. report, said that she and her colleagues had found "dozens" of cases that she said appeared to specifically involve drinking water contamination related to fracking. But they were unable to investigate those cases further and get access to more documents because of legal settlements. All but the Parsons case were excluded from the E.P.A. study, she said, because of pressure from industry representatives who were members of an agency working group overseeing the research.

The justification for excluding the cases was usually that they lacked sufficient documentation or involved a type of contamination that was outside the scope of the study.


2) A Year Later, Chile's '33' Are Mostly Unemployed
August 3, 2011

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - One of the myths surrounding the 33 miners who were so dramatically rescued after being trapped for 69 days deep inside a Chilean copper mine is that they're all millionaires and no longer need to work.

The truth: nearly half the men have been unemployed since their mine collapsed one year ago Friday, and just one, the flamboyant Mario Sepulveda, has managed to live well off the fame. Most have signed up to give motivational speeches. Four, so far, have gone back underground to pound rock for a living.

"Los 33" have filed negligence lawsuits demanding $10 million from the bankrupt mine's owners and $17 million from the government for failing to enforce safety regulations, but years remain before any payout.

Despite rumors that miners got rich off media interviews, most got only paid trips, hotel stays and the kinds of gifts that don't put food on tables.

Neither did they profit from the books written about them so far. Only recently did they finally reach a deal with a Hollywood agent for an authorized book and movie, but they have yet to see any money from that, either.

A year after they were buried alive by a mine collapse a half-mile below the surface, the remarkable unity that many credited with helping them survive has fallen victim to misunderstandings over fame and money. Only some plan to join Chile's president, Sebastian Pinera, in Copiapo and at the San Jose Mine on Friday for an anniversary mass and museum inauguration. Sepulveda is among those who want no part of the ceremonies.

All have been hoping that Pinera announce lifelong pensions of about $430 a month for the 33. The government seems willing to pay, but the exact amount has been under negotiation for some time now, several miners told The Associated Press.

Many have gotten by until now on the philanthropy of an eccentric millionaire and Chilean mine owner, Leonardo Farkas, who wrote them checks for 5 million pesos (about $10,950), threw them a lavish party and gave each a motorcycle. Farkas then doubled the amount for a miner whose baby was born while he was trapped down below, and another who skipped his baby's birth to attend the party.

Shift foreman Luis Urzua, who kept the men unified when nearly all hope was lost, told the AP that he's saddened by critics of the miners' lawsuits, who say they should simply be grateful they were rescued.

"We're very content, very grateful to the government and the president for what they did. We filed this lawsuit so that people understand that everyone has the right to sue when things aren't being done correctly," Urzua said.

Many Chileans don't distinguish between government agencies and the administration of Pinera, which spent as much as $20 million on the rescue only to see his approval ratings drop from 60 percent at their peak to 30 percent today, the lowest of any Chilean president since the nation recovered its democracy in 1990, according to Adimark's monthly tracking poll.

Housewife Cecilia Cruz, for example, told the AP that "the miners are a bunch of ingrates, after all the money the government spent rescuing them."

Pinera has been beset by striking miners, students, teachers, earthquake and tsunami survivors, Mapuche Indians and others marching against his government. While in Copiapo on Friday, he'll also likely face the 240 other San Jose Mine workers who escaped the collapse only to lose their jobs when the mine closed. Many are still unemployed and have only received 40 percent of their severances.

The government has resisted calls to make payments on behalf of the bankrupt mining company, fearful of a precedent that could sap profits from the entire industry, Chile's main revenue source. But the state-owned National Mining Company did lend $1.2 million this week to pay the mine owners' debts to the workers.

Only 19 of the 33 rescued men would see some of this money - the others won't get anything because they worked for outside contractors, or have had most of their salaries paid by the state while on medical leave.

Urzua is among the unemployed. Rather than return to mining, he's among the 25 miners who have signed up to give motivational speeches, and credited a university professor, Ricardo Munoz, for helping them polish their deliveries. "He's one of the few who is working with us without trying to profit from it," Urzua said. "There are a lot of people who have made off handsomely."

The miners were celebrated as heroes worldwide for surviving so long in the dark, hot, wet depths of a mountain weakened by more than a century of mining, with tons of rock above them that was constantly shifting and threatening to bury them forever. Before anyone knew that they had survived the Aug. 15, 2010 collapse, the 33 stretched an extremely meager store of emergency food for 17 days, eating tiny capfuls of tuna fish and sips of outdated milk.

Pinera staked his presidency on their rescue. He formed an expert team and rushed to the scene, offering any resources necessary to bring them out alive. When they were finally pulled out, the world's media converged on the remote desert hilltop, broadcasting Chile's success story to a global audience hungry for good news.

The 33 were deluged with invitations to all-expenses-paid television appearances and vacations to exotic destinations. A few still travel to tell their stories.

But most have run out of money and are back to scratching out livings in the dusty, barren, working-class neighborhoods and shantytowns that ring the desert city of Copiapo.

The El Mercurio newspaper reported that 15 are unemployed; seven regularly give motivational speeches; three hawk fruit and vegetables in the street, two have small grocery stores and four have returned underground to pound rock for copper and gold. Others are unable to work due to continuing psychological symptoms, and receive a fraction of their former salaries as government medical payments.

Two - Claudio Yanez and Pedro Cortez - said they've had to sell their motorcycles for food. Franklin Lobos, who had tasted fame earlier in life as a professional football player, is coaching in the city's youth leagues, but told Chile's Football Channel he would prefer the anonymity of his life as a mine driver.

Bolivian Carlos Mamami, the only foreigner among the 33, is out of money after his father-in-law tried to charge $33,000 per interview. Edison Pena, who ran in the New York marathon, appeared on U.S. talk shows and is known for his love of Elvis Presley, recently was invited to sing like his idol in Canada, but he confessed to El Mercurio that it has been hard to keep the celebrity-worship going. His wife told the paper that their life "is as dark as the mine was."

Omar Reygadas, 56, told The AP he's focusing on motivational speeches for now, "to show the meaning of teamwork, power and faith."

But he said nightmares still keep him up. "I try to read, to tire myself out so that I can sleep well," he said. "But if I'm alone in a closed space, it still makes me anxious - I have to get out and find someone to talk with or distract myself with something."

Sepulveda stood out among the miners by narrating their underground videos, and thrilled viewers worldwide with his ecstatic behavior when he reached the surface. Since then, he has formed a business consulting service, hired a U.S. public relations agent, and filled his calendar with trips around Chile and beyond.

Sepulveda traveled to Washington D.C. with Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno for Wednesday's inauguration of a display about the rescue at the Smithsonian Institution.

He used the opportunity to defend the miners' lawsuits.

"Things should be done properly. If a worker commits a error of this calamity, the company isn't going to think twice" about finding those responsible, Sepulveda said.

Associated Press writer Luis Alonso Lugo in Washington D.C. contributed to this report.

Eva Vergara can be reached at


3) Our Commando War in 120 Countries: Uncovering the Military's Secret Operations In the Obama Era
By Nick Turse, AlterNet and TomDispatch
Posted on August 3, 2011, Printed on August 4, 2011

Somewhere on this planet an American commando is carrying out a mission. Now, say that 70 times and you're done... for the day. Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret force within the U.S. military is undertaking operations in a majority of the world's countries. This new Pentagon power elite is waging a global war whose size and scope has never been revealed, until now.

After a U.S. Navy SEAL put a bullet in Osama bin Laden's chest and another in his head, one of the most secretive black-ops units in the American military suddenly found its mission in the public spotlight. It was atypical. While it's well known that U.S. Special Operations forces are deployed in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, and it's increasingly apparent that such units operate in murkier conflict zones like Yemen and Somalia, the full extent of their worldwide war has remained deeply in the shadows.

Last year, Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post reported that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in 75 countries, up from 60 at the end of the Bush presidency. By the end of this year, U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me, that number will likely reach 120. "We do a lot of traveling -- a lot more than Afghanistan or Iraq," he said recently. This global presence -- in about 60% of the world's nations and far larger than previously acknowledged -- provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world.

The Rise of the Military's Secret Military

Born of a failed 1980 raid to rescue American hostages in Iran, in which eight U.S. service members died, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was established in 1987. Having spent the post-Vietnam years distrusted and starved for money by the regular military, special operations forces suddenly had a single home, a stable budget, and a four-star commander as their advocate. Since then, SOCOM has grown into a combined force of startling proportions. Made up of units from all the service branches, including the Army's "Green Berets" and Rangers, Navy SEALs, Air Force Air Commandos, and Marine Corps Special Operations teams, in addition to specialized helicopter crews, boat teams, civil affairs personnel, para-rescuemen, and even battlefield air-traffic controllers and special operations weathermen, SOCOM carries out the United States' most specialized and secret missions. These include assassinations, counterterrorist raids, long-range reconnaissance, intelligence analysis, foreign troop training, and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

One of its key components is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command whose primary mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. Reporting to the president and acting under his authority, JSOC maintains a global hit list that includes American citizens. It has been operating an extra-legal "kill/capture" campaign that John Nagl, a past counterinsurgency adviser to four-star general and soon-to-be CIA Director David Petraeus, calls "an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine." This assassination program has been carried out by commando units like the Navy SEALs and the Army's Delta Force as well as via drone strikes as part of covert wars in which the CIA is also involved in countries like Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. In addition, the command operates a network of secret prisons, perhaps as many as 20 black sites in Afghanistan alone, used for interrogating high-value targets. Growth Industry

From a force of about 37,000 in the early 1990s, Special Operations Command personnel have grown to almost 60,000, about a third of whom are career members of SOCOM; the rest have other military occupational specialties, but periodically cycle through the command. Growth has been exponential since September 11, 2001, as SOCOM's baseline budget almost tripled from $2.3 billion to $6.3 billion. If you add in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has actually more than quadrupled to $9.8 billion in these years. Not surprisingly, the number of its personnel deployed abroad has also jumped four-fold. Further increases, and expanded operations, are on the horizon. Lieutenant General Dennis Hejlik, the former head of the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command -- the last of the service branches to be incorporated into SOCOM in 2006 -- indicated, for instance, that he foresees a doubling of his former unit of 2,600. "I see them as a force someday of about 5,000, like equivalent to the number of SEALs that we have on the battlefield. Between [5,000] and 6,000," he said at a June breakfast with defense reporters in Washington. Long-term plans already call for the force to increase by 1,000.

During his recent Senate confirmation hearings, Navy Vice Admiral William McRaven, the incoming SOCOM chief and outgoing head of JSOC (which he commanded during the bin Laden raid) endorsed a steady manpower growth rate of 3% to 5% a year, while also making a pitch for even more resources, including additional drones and the construction of new special operations facilities.

A former SEAL who still sometimes accompanies troops into the field, McRaven expressed a belief that, as conventional forces are drawn down in Afghanistan, special ops troops will take on an ever greater role. Iraq, he added, would benefit if elite U.S forces continued to conduct missions there past the December 2011 deadline for a total American troop withdrawal. He also assured the Senate Armed Services Committee that "as a former JSOC commander, I can tell you we were looking very hard at Yemen and at Somalia."

During a speech at the National Defense Industrial Association's annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium earlier this year, Navy Admiral Eric Olson, the outgoing chief of Special Operations Command, pointed to a composite satellite image of the world at night. Before September 11, 2001, the lit portions of the planet -- mostly the industrialized nations of the global north -- were considered the key areas. "But the world changed over the last decade," he said. "Our strategic focus has shifted largely to the south... certainly within the special operations community, as we deal with the emerging threats from the places where the lights aren't."

To that end, Olson launched "Project Lawrence," an effort to increase cultural proficiencies -- like advanced language training and better knowledge of local history and customs -- for overseas operations. The program is, of course, named after the British officer, Thomas Edward Lawrence (better known as "Lawrence of Arabia"), who teamed up with Arab fighters to wage a guerrilla war in the Middle East during World War I. Mentioning Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, and Indonesia, Olson added that SOCOM now needed "Lawrences of Wherever."

While Olson made reference to only 51 countries of top concern to SOCOM, Col. Nye told me that on any given day, Special Operations forces are deployed in approximately 70 nations around the world. All of them, he hastened to add, at the request of the host government. According to testimony by Olson before the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year, approximately 85% of special operations troops deployed overseas are in 20 countries in the CENTCOM area of operations in the Greater Middle East: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. The others are scattered across the globe from South America to Southeast Asia, some in small numbers, others as larger contingents.

Special Operations Command won't disclose exactly which countries its forces operate in. "We're obviously going to have some places where it's not advantageous for us to list where we're at," says Nye. "Not all host nations want it known, for whatever reasons they have -- it may be internal, it may be regional."

But it's no secret (or at least a poorly kept one) that so-called black special operations troops, like the SEALs and Delta Force, are conducting kill/capture missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen, while "white" forces like the Green Berets and Rangers are training indigenous partners as part of a worldwide secret war against al-Qaeda and other militant groups. In the Philippines, for instance, the U.S. spends $50 million a year on a 600-person contingent of Army Special Operations forces, Navy Seals, Air Force special operators, and others that carries out counterterrorist operations with Filipino allies against insurgent groups like Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf.

Last year, as an analysis of SOCOM documents, open-source Pentagon information, and a database of Special Operations missions compiled by investigative journalist Tara McKelvey (for the Medill School of Journalism's National Security Journalism Initiative) reveals, America's most elite troops carried out joint-training exercises in Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Germany, Indonesia, Mali, Norway, Panama, and Poland. So far in 2011, similar training missions have been conducted in the Dominican Republic, Jordan, Romania, Senegal, South Korea, and Thailand, among other nations. In reality, Nye told me, training actually went on in almost every nation where Special Operations forces are deployed. "Of the 120 countries we visit by the end of the year, I would say the vast majority are training exercises in one fashion or another. They would be classified as training exercises."

The Pentagon's Power Elite

Once the neglected stepchildren of the military establishment, Special Operations forces have been growing exponentially not just in size and budget, but also in power and influence. Since 2002, SOCOM has been authorized to create its own Joint Task Forces -- like Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines -- a prerogative normally limited to larger combatant commands like CENTCOM. This year, without much fanfare, SOCOM also established its own Joint Acquisition Task Force, a cadre of equipment designers and acquisition specialists.

With control over budgeting, training, and equipping its force, powers usually reserved for departments (like the Department of the Army or the Department of the Navy), dedicated dollars in every Defense Department budget, and influential advocates in Congress, SOCOM is by now an exceptionally powerful player at the Pentagon. With real clout, it can win bureaucratic battles, purchase cutting-edge technology, and pursue fringe research like electronically beaming messages into people's heads or developing stealth-like cloaking technologies for ground troops.

Since 2001, SOCOM's prime contracts awarded to small businesses -- those that generally produce specialty equipment and weapons -- have jumped six-fold. Headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, but operating out of theater commands spread out around the globe, including Hawaii, Germany, and South Korea, and active in the majority of countries on the planet, Special Operations Command is now a force unto itself. As outgoing SOCOM chief Olson put it earlier this year, SOCOM "is a microcosm of the Department of Defense, with ground, air, and maritime components, a global presence, and authorities and responsibilities that mirror the Military Departments, Military Services, and Defense Agencies."

Tasked to coordinate all Pentagon planning against global terrorism networks and, as a result, closely connected to other government agencies, foreign militaries, and intelligence services, and armed with a vast inventory of stealthy helicopters, manned fixed-wing aircraft, heavily-armed drones, high-tech guns-a-go-go speedboats, specialized Humvees and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, as well as other state-of-the-art gear (with more on the way), SOCOM represents something new in the military. Whereas the late scholar of militarism Chalmers Johnson used to refer to the CIA as "the president's private army," today JSOC performs that role, acting as the chief executive's private assassination squad, and its parent, SOCOM, functions as a new Pentagon power-elite, a secret military within the military possessing domestic power and global reach.

In 120 countries across the globe, troops from Special Operations Command carry out their secret war of high-profile assassinations, low-level targeted killings, capture/kidnap operations, kick-down-the-door night raids, joint operations with foreign forces, and training missions with indigenous partners as part of a shadowy conflict unknown to most Americans. Once "special" for being small, lean, outsider outfits, today they are special for their power, access, influence, and aura.

That aura now benefits from a well-honed public relations campaign which helps them project a superhuman image at home and abroad, even while many of their actual activities remain in the ever-widening shadows. Typical of the vision they are pushing was this statement from Admiral Olson: "I am convinced that the forces... are the most culturally attuned partners, the most lethal hunter-killers, and most responsive, agile, innovative, and efficiently effective advisors, trainers, problem-solvers, and warriors that any nation has to offer."

Recently at the Aspen Institute's Security Forum, Olson offered up similarly gilded comments and some misleading information, too, claiming that U.S. Special Operations forces were operating in just 65 countries and engaged in combat in only two of them. When asked about drone strikes in Pakistan, he reportedly replied, "Are you talking about unattributed explosions?"

What he did let slip, however, was telling. He noted, for instance, that black operations like the bin Laden mission, with commandos conducting heliborne night raids, were now exceptionally common. A dozen or so are conducted every night, he said. Perhaps most illuminating, however, was an offhand remark about the size of SOCOM. Right now, he emphasized, U.S. Special Operations forces were approximately as large as Canada's entire active duty military. In fact, the force is larger than the active duty militaries of many of the nations where America's elite troops now operate each year, and it's only set to grow larger.

Americans have yet to grapple with what it means to have a "special" force this large, this active, and this secret -- and they are unlikely to begin to do so until more information is available. It just won't be coming from Olson or his troops. "Our access [to foreign countries] depends on our ability to not talk about it," he said in response to questions about SOCOM's secrecy. When missions are subject to scrutiny like the bin Laden raid, he said, the elite troops object. The military's secret military, said Olson, wants "to get back into the shadows and do what they came in to do."

Nick Turse is the associate editor of His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation and regularly at TomDispatch. His latest book is The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Verso). His website is


4) Japan's Prime Minister Fires Three Nuclear Energy Officials
August 4, 2011

TOKYO - Prime Minister Naoto Kan removed three top officials in charge of Japanese nuclear energy policy on Thursday, taking aim at cozy ties between regulators and the power industry that were exposed after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.

The three officials include Nobuaki Terasaka, the head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the nation's main nuclear regulatory body. The agency has been criticized for allowing inadequate safety measures at the Fukushima plant, including insufficient defenses against the towering tsunami unleashed by a deadly earthquake on March 11.

The agency, which is part of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has also been accused of trying to manipulate public opinion by planting people at recent town hall-style meetings to speak in support of nuclear power.

The other two officials are Kazuo Matsunaga, the top bureaucrat at the ministry, and Tetsuhiro Hosono, head of the ministry's energy resources bureau, which promotes the power industry.

Thursday's announcement comes nearly five months after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami left more than 20,000 dead or missing in Northern Japan. The twin disasters also damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant and spurred radiation leaks, the worst since the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl.

The firings of the three officials is a highly unusual move in Japan, where elite career bureaucrats taken from the top universities have long been the nation's de facto rulers. However, Mr. Kan has begun taking aim at collusion between government and the power industry in what many here see as a belated effort to prolong his stay in office.

The embattled prime minister had promised to step down in the face of intense criticism from within his own Democratic Party of the government's slow and seemingly haphazard response to the nuclear disaster. But he has since appeared to backtrack, refusing to say when he will leave office.

Now, he appears to be trying to revive his fortunes by deflecting such criticism onto the bureaucracy. He has also tried to tap the public's deep misgivings about nuclear power by calling for reducing reliance on nuclear power in favor of solar and other new energy sources.

Mr. Kan appears to be betting on his reputation as a crusader against inept and corrupt bureaucracy, which he earned as health minister in the 1990s by disclosing how his ministry and industry tried to cover up use of HIV-tainted blood. On Sunday, he made his harshest remarks yet about industry-government collusion in the nuclear industry, saying it was "exactly the same structure of collusion that I found as health minister during the AIDS blood products problem."

However, Mr. Kan's continuing lack of popularity, and the critical tone of coverage in the local press, suggest that his efforts may be too little, too late. On Thursday, the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's largest dailies, warned that the removal of the three officials could backfire by causing more confusion and paralysis in the nation's energy policy.

Still, Mr. Kan appears intent on moving forward with what is increasingly appearing to be a sweeping overhaul of Japanese nuclear oversight.

Besides the officials' removal, the Kan government has also said it is considering a plan to separate the nuclear regulatory agency from the trade ministry, which is also in charge of promoting the power industry, and relocate it in the environmental ministry. The plan also calls for raising the regulatory body's status to that of a full-fledged government agency, giving it greater power to regulate the industry.

There are also signs of further changes to come at the trade ministry, one of the most powerful of Japan's central ministries. In announcing the removal of the three officials on Thursday, the trade minister, Banri Kaieda, called for "rebuilding" the ministry.

"I'm planning to breathe fresh air into the ministry with a large-scale reshuffle" of personnel, Mr. Kaieda told reporters.

Mr. Kaieda has also promised to step down at an unspecified future time after clashes with Mr. Kan over the handling of the nuclear crisis. However, Mr. Kaieda has emerged as a point man in Mr. Kan's recent moves to reform the bureaucracy, in what commentators here have said may be an effort by Mr. Kaieda to position himself as a possible successor to Mr. Kan as prime minister.


5) Death of Homeless Man After Beating by Police Stirs Outrage
August 3, 2011

LOS ANGELES - In one video, the sound of a Taser going off is followed by a man screaming in pain. In another, footage from a security camera on a public bus, riders describe police officers beating a man to death in graphic terms. "They beat him up, and then all the cops came and they hogtied him, and he was like, 'Please God, please Dad!,' " one said.

The death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man with mental illness, after an encounter with members of the Fullerton Police Department in California has set off a furor in this Orange County community, amid allegations that six police officers used excessive force to try to quiet Mr. Thomas.

At a City Council meeting this week, hundreds of angry residents assailed their elected officials, calling the Police Department corrupt, demanding the resignation of the police chief and promising to recall several council members.

"There was a lot of fear and anger and shock," said Bruce Whitaker, a Fullerton council member. "Homeless individuals are concerned for their own safety, and they have nowhere else to go."

Still, what exactly happened on the night of July 5 remains the subject of multiple investigations, and to date the police have not offered a clear report of what occurred, with the Orange County district attorney's investigation continuing.

It began when the Fullerton police responded to reports of a man trying to break into cars, and soon they made contact with Mr. Thomas, according to Sgt. Andrew Goodrich, a police spokesman. At the end of the altercation, Mr. Thomas, 37, lay unconscious and severely beaten, and he was taken to a hospital. Pictures of him at the hospital show his face swollen, bruised and bloody. He was taken off life support and died five days later.

Initially, the episode attracted little public attention. But as the photographs of Mr. Thomas and videos of the beating and its aftermath began to surface on the Internet, public outrage grew.

Mr. Thomas's father, Ron Thomas, said he circulated the videos and photographs because he worried that nothing would be done to bring his son's assailants to justice.

"Nobody else cared," he said. "My son was brutally beaten to death by six cops. It needed to get attention."

Since the most recent video - the bus surveillance tape, which the blog Friends for Fullerton's Future obtained through a public records request, was released at the start of this week - five police officers involved in the episode have been placed on paid administrative leave (another was already on administrative leave). The F.B.I. has also opened its own investigation into whether Mr. Thomas's civil rights were violated.

Still, this move may not placate Fullerton residents, some of whom claim that the episode is endemic to the city's Police Department, which is protected by several City Council members who used to serve on the force. One council member, Sharon Quirk-Silva, has called for the police chief to resign.


6) Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves
August 3, 2011

Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat with a $9,010 price. Neiman Marcus has sold out in almost every size of Christian Louboutin "Bianca" platform pumps, at $775 a pair. Mercedes-Benz said it sold more cars last month in the United States than it had in any July in five years.

Even with the economy in a funk and many Americans pulling back on spending, the rich are again buying designer clothing, luxury cars and about anything that catches their fancy. Luxury goods stores, which fared much worse than other retailers in the recession, are more than recovering - they are zooming. Many high-end businesses are even able to mark up, rather than discount, items to attract customers who equate quality with price.

"If a designer shoe goes up from $800 to $860, who notices?" said Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at the consulting firm Kurt Salmon, and the former chairman and chief executive of Saks.

The rich do not spend quite as they did in the free-wheeling period before the recession, but they are closer to that level.

The luxury category has posted 10 consecutive months of sales increases compared with the year earlier, even as overall consumer spending on categories like furniture and electronics has been tepid, according to the research service MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. In July, the luxury segment had an 11.6 percent increase, the biggest monthly gain in more than a year.

What changed? Mostly, the stock market, retailers and analysts said, as well as a good bit of shopping psychology. Even with the sharp drop in stocks over the last week, the Dow Jones is up about 80 percent from its low in March 2009. And with the overall economy nowhere near its recession lows, buying nice, expensive things is back in vogue for people who can afford it.

"Our business is fairly closely tied to how the market performs," said Karen W. Katz, the president and chief executive of Neiman Marcus Group. "Though there are bumps based on different economic data, it's generally been trending in a positive direction."

Caroline Limpert, 31, an entrepreneur in New York, says she is happy to spend on classic pieces, like the Yves Saint Laurent tote she has in both chocolate and black, but since the recession, she avoids conspicuous items.

"Over all, you want to wear less branded items," she said. "If you have the wherewithal to spend, you never want to be showy about it." Still, she said, she is quick to buy at the beginning of each season. "I buy things that could sell out."

The recent earnings reports of some luxury goods retailers and automobile companies show just how much the high-end shopper has been willing to spend again.

Tiffany's first-quarter sales were up 20 percent to $761 million. Last week LVMH, which owns expensive brands like Louis Vuitton and Givenchy, reported sales growth in the first half of 2011 of 13 percent to 10.3 billion euros, or $14.9 billion. Also last week, PPR, home to Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and other brands, said its luxury segment's sales gained 23 percent in the first half. Profits are also up by double digits for many of these companies.

BMW this week said it more than doubled its quarterly profit from a year ago as sales rose 16.5 percent; Porsche said its first-half profit rose 59 percent; and Mercedes-Benz said July sales of its high-end S-Class sedans - some of which cost more than $200,000 - jumped nearly 14 percent in the United States.

The success luxury retailers are having in selling $250 Ermenegildo Zegna ties and $2,800 David Yurman pavé rings - the kind encircled with small precious stones - stands in stark contrast to the retailers who cater to more average Americans.

Apparel stores are holding near fire sales to get people to spend. Wal-Mart is selling smaller packages because some shoppers do not have enough cash on hand to afford multipacks of toilet paper. Retailers from Victoria's Secret to the Children's Place are nudging prices up by just pennies, worried they will lose customers if they do anything more.

While the free spending of the affluent may not be of much comfort to people who are out of jobs or out of cash, the rich may contribute disproportionately to the overall economic recovery.

"This group is key because the top 5 percent of income earners accounts for about one-third of spending, and the top 20 percent accounts for close to 60 percent of spending," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics. "That was key to why we suffered such a bad recession - their spending fell very sharply."

Just a few years ago, luxury retailers were suffering. Too many items were chasing too few buyers, and high-end stores began cutting prices. As a result, consumers awaited 70 percent discounts rather than buying right away. Sales of luxury goods fell 17.9 percent in October 2008 from a year earlier, SpendingPulse said, and double-digit declines continued through May 2009.

Now, many stores are stocking up on luxury items, as shoppers flock to racks of expensive goods.

"They're buying the special pieces, whether it's the exotic leathers, the more fashion-forward pieces," said Stephen I. Sadove, the chairman and chief executive of Saks Fifth Avenue. "There's a dramatic decline in the amount of promotions in the luxury sector - we're seeing higher levels of full-priced selling than we saw prerecession."

In 2008, for example, the most expensive Louboutin item that Saks sold was a $1,575 pair of suede boots. Now, it is a $2,495 pair of suede boots that are thigh-high. Crème de la Mer, the facial cream, cost $1,350 for 16 ounces at Bergdorf Goodman in 2008; it now costs $1,650.

"I think that she's willing to pay whatever price the manufacturer and the retailer deem appropriate, if she sees that there's intrinsic value in it," Ms. Katz said.

Part of the demand is also driven by the snob factor: at luxury stores, higher prices are often considered a mark of quality.

"You just can't buy a pair of shoes for less than $1,000 in some of the luxury brands, and some of the price points have gone to $2,000," said Jyothi Rao, general manager for the women's business at Gilt Groupe, a Web site that sells designer brands at a discount. "There's absolutely a customer for it."

Jennifer Margolin, a personal shopper in San Francisco, said she had noticed changes in clients' attitudes. They "pay full price if they absolutely love it," she said. "Before it was almost completely shying away, where now it's like, 'O.K., I'm comfortable getting a Goyard bag,' but they get it for the quality."

Goyard bags, in addition to having a distinctive pattern, will usually run a few thousand dollars. And, yes, they are selling out quickly.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 4, 2011

An earlier version of this article erroneously referred to Karen Katz on second reference as Mr. Katz.


7) The Wrong Worries
August 4, 2011

In case you had any doubts, Thursday's more than 500-point plunge in the Dow Jones industrial average and the drop in interest rates to near-record lows confirmed it: The economy isn't recovering, and Washington has been worrying about the wrong things.

It's not just that the threat of a double-dip recession has become very real. It's now impossible to deny the obvious, which is that we are not now and have never been on the road to recovery.

For two years, officials at the Federal Reserve, international organizations and, sad to say, within the Obama administration have insisted that the economy was on the mend. Every setback was attributed to temporary factors - It's the Greeks! It's the tsunami! - that would soon fade away. And the focus of policy turned from jobs and growth to the supposedly urgent issue of deficit reduction.

But the economy wasn't on the mend.

Yes, officially the recession ended two years ago, and the economy did indeed pull out of a terrifying tailspin. But at no point has growth looked remotely adequate given the depth of the initial plunge. In particular, when employment falls as much as it did from 2007 to 2009, you need a lot of job growth to make up the lost ground. And that just hasn't happened.

Consider one crucial measure, the ratio of employment to population. In June 2007, around 63 percent of adults were employed. In June 2009, the official end of the recession, that number was down to 59.4. As of June 2011, two years into the alleged recovery, the number was: 58.2.

These may sound like dry statistics, but they reflect a truly terrible reality. Not only are vast numbers of Americans unemployed or underemployed, for the first time since the Great Depression many American workers are facing the prospect of very-long-term - maybe permanent - unemployment. Among other things, the rise in long-term unemployment will reduce future government revenues, so we're not even acting sensibly in purely fiscal terms. But, more important, it's a human catastrophe.

And why should we be surprised at this catastrophe? Where was growth supposed to come from? Consumers, still burdened by the debt that they ran up during the housing bubble, aren't ready to spend. Businesses see no reason to expand given the lack of consumer demand. And thanks to that deficit obsession, government, which could and should be supporting the economy in its time of need, has been pulling back.

Now it looks as if it's all about to get even worse. So what's the response?

To turn this disaster around, a lot of people are going to have to admit, to themselves at least, that they've been wrong and need to change their priorities, right away.

Of course, some players won't change. Republicans won't stop screaming about the deficit because they weren't sincere in the first place: Their deficit hawkery was a club with which to beat their political opponents, nothing more - as became obvious whenever any rise in taxes on the rich was suggested. And they're not going to give up that club.

But the policy disaster of the past two years wasn't just the result of G.O.P. obstructionism, which wouldn't have been so effective if the policy elite - including at least some senior figures in the Obama administration - hadn't agreed that deficit reduction, not job creation, should be our main priority. Nor should we let Ben Bernanke and his colleagues off the hook: The Fed has by no means done all it could, partly because it was more concerned with hypothetical inflation than with real unemployment, partly because it let itself be intimidated by the Ron Paul types.

Well, it's time for all that to stop. Those plunging interest rates and stock prices say that the markets aren't worried about either U.S. solvency or inflation. They're worried about U.S. lack of growth. And they're right, even if on Wednesday the White House press secretary chose, inexplicably, to declare that there's no threat of a double-dip recession.

Earlier this week, the word was that the Obama administration would "pivot" to jobs now that the debt ceiling has been raised. But what that pivot would mean, as far as I can tell, was proposing some minor measures that would be more symbolic than substantive. And, at this point, that kind of proposal would just make President Obama look ridiculous.

The point is that it's now time - long past time - to get serious about the real crisis the economy faces. The Fed needs to stop making excuses, while the president needs to come up with real job-creation proposals. And if Republicans block those proposals, he needs to make a Harry Truman-style campaign against the do-nothing G.O.P.

This might or might not work. But we already know what isn't working: the economic policy of the past two years - and the millions of Americans who should have jobs, but don't.


8) Disapproval Rate for Congress at Record 82% After Debt Talks
August 4, 2011

The debate over raising the debt ceiling, which brought the nation to the brink of default, has sent disapproval of Congress to its highest level on record and left most Americans saying that creating jobs should now take priority over cutting spending, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

A record 82 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job - the most since The Times first began asking the question in 1977, and even more than after another political stalemate led to a shutdown of the federal government in 1995.

More than four out of five people surveyed said that the recent debt-ceiling debate was more about gaining political advantage than about doing what is best for the country. Nearly three-quarters said that the debate had harmed the image of the United States in the world.

Republicans in Congress shoulder more of the blame for the difficulties in reaching a debt-ceiling agreement than President Obama and the Democrats, the poll found.

The Republicans compromised too little, a majority of those polled said. All told, 72 percent disapproved of the way Republicans in Congress handled the negotiations, while 66 percent disapproved of the way Democrats in Congress handled negotiations.

The public was more evenly divided about how Mr. Obama handled the debt ceiling negotiations: 47 percent disapproved and 46 percent approved.

The public's opinion of the Tea Party movement has soured in the wake of the debt-ceiling debate. The Tea Party is now viewed unfavorably by 40 percent of the public and favorably by just 20 percent, according to the poll. In mid-April 29 percent of those polled viewed the movement unfavorably, while 26 percent viewed it favorably. And 43 percent of Americans now think the Tea Party has too much influence on the Republican Party, up from 27 percent in mid-April.

"I'm real disappointed in Congress," Ron Raggio, 54, a florist from Vicksburg, Miss., said in a follow-up interview. "They can't sit down and agree about what's best for America. It's all politics."

There were signs that the repeated Republican calls for more spending cuts were resonating with the public: 44 percent of those polled said the cuts in the debt-ceiling agreement did not go far enough, 29 percent said they were about right and only 15 percent said they went too far. More than a quarter of the Democrats polled said that the cuts in the agreement did not go far enough.

But by a ratio of more than two to one, Americans said that creating jobs should be a higher priority than spending cuts.

Though Republicans prevented tax increases from being included in the debt-ceiling deal, half of those polled said the agreement should have included increased tax revenue, while 44 percent said it should have relied on cuts alone. That issue is likely to be revisited soon: Congress is preparing to appoint a special committee to recommend ways to reduce the deficit. Sixty-three percent of those polled said that they supported raising taxes on households that earn more than $250,000 a year, as Mr. Obama has sought to do - including majorities of Democrats (80 percent), independents (61 percent) and Republicans (52 percent).

The poll found that Mr. Obama was emerging from the crisis less bruised than the Republicans in Congress.

The president's overall job approval rating remained relatively stable, with 48 percent approving of the way he handles his job as president and 47 percent disapproving - down from the bump up he received in the spring after the killing of Osama bin Laden, but in line with how he has been viewed for nearly a year. By contrast, Speaker John A. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, saw his disapproval rating shoot up 16 points since April: 57 percent of those polled now disapprove of the way he is handling his job, while only 30 percent approve.

Americans said that they trusted Mr. Obama to make the right decisions about the economy more than the Republicans in Congress, by 47 percent to 33 percent. They were evenly divided on the question of whether he showed "strong qualities of leadership" during the negotiations, with 49 percent saying he did and 48 percent saying he did not. And they were still more likely to blame President George W. Bush for the bulk of the nation's deficit: 44 percent said that the deficit was mostly caused by the Bush administration, 15 percent said it was mostly caused by the Obama administration and 15 percent blamed Congress.

The growing fears about the economy - amid a sinking stock market and warnings that the nation risks sliding back into recession - were reflected in the nationwide telephone poll, which was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday with 960 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The number of Americans who rated the economy "very bad" was the highest it had been in a year. But there was uncertainty about whether the debt-ceiling deal would help or hurt the economy: nearly half said it would have no effect, while 24 percent said it would make the economy worse and 22 percent said it would improve it.

Americans were evenly divided on the parameters of the debt-ceiling deal, in which Congress agreed to allow the federal government to borrow the money needed to pay its current obligations and avoid default on the condition that it reduce the deficit by at least $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years. Over all, 46 percent of those polled approved of the deal, while 45 percent disapproved of it.

Most of those polled said that the spending cuts included either did not go far enough or were about right. But with the nation's unemployment rate at a stubborn 9.2 percent, 62 percent of those polled said that creating jobs should be the priority.

"Cutting spending is important, but getting people back to work is more important," said Diane Sherrell, 56, a Republican from Erwin, N.C. "If people are working, they are more productive. There is less crime, there is less depression, there is less divorce. There are less hospital and medical bills. If you put people back to work, you are cutting spending."

Stanley Oland, 62, a Republican from Kalispell, Mont., said that the government needed new jobs to generate the economic activity and the revenue it requires.

"That revenue supports the basic foundation for the economy, creates more jobs and stimulates the economy," he said. "Unless you have working people you don't have revenue from taxes. If you cut spending, jobs will be eliminated and you won't get any revenue. Every dollar spent creates jobs."

Marjorie Connelly, Allison Kopicki and Marina Stefan contributed reporting.


9) Cuba Upholds Jailed American's 15-Year Sentence
August 5, 2011

HAVANA (AP) - Cuba's Supreme Court on Friday rejected a U.S. government subcontractor's final legal appeal of his 15-year prison sentence for crimes against the state.

Alan Gross' request to have his sentence reduced or thrown out was denied in a "definitive resolution," a note on state-run website Cubadebate said.

Gross has been behind bars since his arrest in December 2009, and this spring he was found guilty of bringing satellite and other communication equipment into the country illegally.

The Maryland native has acknowledged he was working on a USAID-funded democracy program, but says he meant no harm to the government.

"While we are not surprised, we are extremely disappointed with today's ruling, which marks the end of Alan's legal process in Cuba," Gross' U.S. lawyer, Peter J. Kahn, said in a statement. "The family is heartbroken by today's decision, but remains hopeful that there continues to be room for a diplomatic resolution of this matter."

U.S. officials have said they did not expect the court to throw out Gross' conviction, but have held out hope that the end of the legal process might clear the way for his release on humanitarian grounds. Gross, 62, has lost 100 pounds (45 kilograms) in jail by his own estimation, and several family members in the United States have serious illnesses.

Cuban officials have said privately they are sympathetic to humanitarian appeals, but would not consider them until the Supreme Court ruled.

"Entering his 21st month in a Cuban prison, Alan and the entire Gross family have paid an enormous personal price in the long-standing political feud between Cuba and the United States," Kahn's statement continued. "Now, more than ever, we call upon the two countries to resolve their dispute over Alan's activities diplomatically, and request that President Raul Castro release Alan immediately on humanitarian grounds."


10) Shell Gets Tentative Approval to Drill in Arctic
August 4, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Department of the Interior on Thursday granted Royal Dutch Shell conditional approval of its plan to begin drilling exploratory wells in the Arctic Ocean next summer, a strong sign that the Obama administration is easing a regulatory clampdown on offshore oil drilling that it imposed after last year's deadly accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

The move confirms a willingness by President Obama to approve expanded domestic oil and gas exploration in response to high gasoline prices and continuing high levels of unemployment. It comes as the issuing of drilling permits in the gulf is quickening, including the granting on Thursday of a permit for a Shell floating drill rig for a 4,000-foot-deep well. That means that that all five of its rigs there will be back to work after a long drilling halt.

The decision to tentatively approve Shell's plan to drill four exploratory wells in the Beaufort Sea off the North Slope of Alaska represents a major step in the company's efforts to exploit the vast oil and gas resources under the Arctic Ocean, although some hurdles remain.

The company has spent nearly $4 billion and more than five years trying to win the right to drill in the frigid waters, against the opposition of many environmental advocates and of Alaska natives who depend on the sea for their livelihoods.

Opponents say the harsh conditions there heighten the dangers of drilling and make cleaning up any potential spill vastly more complicated than in the comparatively benign waters of the gulf.

Administration officials cautioned that the company must win a number of secondary permits before it can begin punching holes in the seabed. The plan approved Thursday, considered the overarching one, contains detailed information on how the company would respond to any blowout and spill.

"We base our decisions regarding energy exploration and development in the Arctic on the best scientific information available," said Michael R. Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which oversees offshore drilling. "We will closely review and monitor Shell's proposed activities to ensure that any activities that take place under this plan will be conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner."

Shell enthusiastically welcomed the decision. "We feel very good about it," said Pete Slaiby, Shell's vice president in Alaska. "It's one of the road marks we wanted to see. It makes us very happy."

But the announcement only partly smooths the rocky relations between the administration and the oil industry, with the president remaining committed to repealing $4 billion in annual oil company tax breaks. The administration has also been wary of encouraging the industry's aggressive plans to drill in shale oil and gas fields across the country because of concerns about potential drinking water contamination.

"This strikes me as a shift back to the track that the administration was on prior to last year's oil spill," said Michael A. Levi, an energy and environment fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "It seems the lesson that the administration took is that offshore drilling needs to be regulated better and done better, not that it shouldn't be done at all."

The plan is almost certain to face legal challenges.

"No drill bits are going to hit the Arctic seafloor until at least one and probably several courts have reviewed this plan," said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, which is already suing to stop drilling in the Chukchi Sea west of Alaska. "From the perspective of ocean drilling and climate, it's hard to see a difference between this administration and the last one."

Shell still needs to win approval of its drilling plan for the Chukchi Sea, which is west of the Beaufort Sea and more remote.

The company has proposed drilling four wells at a depth of approximately 160 feet of water about 20 miles from shore in the Beaufort Sea. The BP well that exploded in the gulf in April 2010 was at a depth of more than 5,000 feet and 40 miles from the Louisiana coast. The accident killed 11 workers and spilled nearly five million barrels of oil into the gulf.

Energy experts and industry executives said the move on Thursday reflected a partial warming of relations between the oil industry and Obama administration since the BP disaster.

"I don't know if I would call them friends yet, but I look at this as a step in the right direction," said Craig T. Castille, operations manager for deepwater projects at Stone Energy, who added that the permit process in the Gulf of Mexico remained slower than the industry would like.

Shell has spent years trying to convince federal regulators and several courts that it can drill safely in the Arctic, and every year one hurdle or another has stood in its way.

Shell has already invested nearly $4 billion on its 10-year offshore leases and preparations for exploration in the forbidding Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Its current plan is to drill up to 10 exploratory wells in the two seas, potentially leading to production by the end of the decade.

Shell has been obliged over the years to tighten its spill response plan, especially since the BP accident at the Macondo well in the gulf. It is proposing to use two drill ships in the Arctic, each capable of drilling a relief well for the other; to put an extra set of shears on its blowout preventers; and to keep emergency capping systems near drill sites to capture any leaks.

The Alaskan Arctic may hold 27 billion barrels of oil, enough to fuel 25 million cars for 35 years. But environmentalists warn that a spill in the Arctic would be more catastrophic than the Gulf of Mexico accident was because the Alaskan waters are dark and inaccessible, and because they are vital breeding grounds for many aquatic species that are endangered or at risk.

Marilyn Heiman, director of the Pew Environment Group's Arctic program, said that the region was the harshest area in the world in which to drill for oil, as well as a delicate habitat for a variety of sea mammals. The proposed well sites are subject to fierce winds and high seas in the fall and lie hundreds of miles from the nearest Coast Guard stations.

"Hard questions need to be asked about any oil company's ability to mount a response to a major oil spill in hurricane-force winds, high seas, broken and shifting sea ice, subzero temperatures, and months of fog and darkness," Ms. Heiman said in an e-mail from Alaska.

John M. Broder reported from Washington, and Clifford Krauss from Houston.


11) Judge Allows Torture Suit Against Rumsfeld to Go Forward
August 4, 2011, 4:42 pm

A federal judge has agreed to allow an Army veteran who says he was tortured during a nine-month imprisonment in Iraq to sue former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The veteran, identified only as John Doe in court documents, traveled to Iraq as a civilian employee of an American-owned defense contracting firm in December 2004. He worked as an Arabic translator and was assigned to work with a Marine Corps Human Exploitation Team, an intelligence unit.

The team operated in Anbar Province, gathering intelligence through local Iraqi contacts. In his suit, Doe maintains that he was the first American to open direct talks with a Sunni Arab tribal leader, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, who had gathered the Anbar tribes and worked with the Americans to fight jihadist militants in the province. (Sheikh Sattar was assassinated in 2007.)

In his suit, Doe claims that he was abducted by the American military in November 2005, as he was preparing to come home for annual leave. He was handcuffed, blindfolded and held in solitary confinement for 72 hours before being shuttled to Camp Cropper where, according to Doe, he was held in a military jail and subjected to routine abuse.

The government suspected him of sharing classified information with the enemy, the suit says, but he was never charged with a crime before he was released in August 2006. He claims that he never broke the law and that he was risking his life to help his country.

The Justice Department, which has represented Mr. Rumsfeld, argues that he cannot be sued personally for official conduct. The department also asserted that wartime decisions are the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president, not the courts. The department also said the case could disclose sensitive information and claimed that the threat of liability would impede future military decisions.

In his decision, Judge James Gwin of Federal District Court rejected those arguments, saying that American citizens are protected by the Constitution at home or abroad during wartime. "The court finds no convincing reason that United States citizens in Iraq should or must lose previously-declared substantive due process protections during prolonged detention in a conflict zone abroad," he said.

Doe also named as defendants Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Robert S. Mueller III, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alan Bersin, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, and John Morton, assistant secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The lawsuit accuses them of a failure to secure the return of his property seized upon his detention and of violations of his right to travel.


12) Time to Say It: Double Dip Recession May Be Happening
August 4, 2011

Double dip may be back.

It has been three decades since the United States suffered a recession that followed on the heels of the previous one. But it could be happening again. The unrelenting negative economic news of the past two weeks has painted a picture of a United States economy that fell further and recovered less than we had thought.

When what may eventually be known as Great Recession I hit the country, there was general political agreement that it was incumbent on the government to fight back by stimulating the economy. It did, and the recession ended.

But Great Recession II, if that is what we are entering, has provoked a completely different response. Now the politicians are squabbling over how much to cut spending. After months of wrangling, they passed a bill aimed at forcing more reductions in spending over the next decade.

If this is the beginning of a new double dip, it will have two significant things in common with the dual recessions of 1980 and 1981-82.

In each case the first recession was caused in large part by a sudden withdrawal of credit from the economy. The recovery came when credit conditions recovered.

And in each case the second recession began at a time when the usual government policies to fight economic weakness were deemed unavailable. Then, the need to fight inflation ruled out an easier monetary policy. Now, the perceived need to reduce government spending rules out a more accommodating fiscal policy.

The American economy fell into what was at first a fairly mild recession at the end of 2007. But the downturn turned into a worldwide plunge after the failure of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 led to the vanishing of credit for nearly all borrowers not deemed super-safe. Banks in the United States and other countries needed bailouts to survive.

The unavailability of credit caused a decline in world trade volumes of a magnitude not seen since the Great Depression, and nearly every economy went into recession.

But it turned out that businesses overreacted. While sales to customers fell, they did not decline as much as production did.

That fact set the stage for an economic rebound that began in mid-2009, with the National Bureau of Economic Research, the arbiter of such things, determining that the recession ended in June of that year. Manufacturers around the world reported rapidly rising orders.

Until recently, most observers believed the American economy was in a slow recovery, albeit one with very disappointing job growth. The official figures on gross domestic product showed the United States economy grew to a record size in the final three months of 2010, having erased the loss of 4.1 percent in G.D.P. from top to bottom.

Then last week the government announced its annual revision to the numbers for the last several years. New government surveys indicated Americans had spent less than previously estimated in 2009 and 2010 on a wide range of things, including food, clothing and computers. Tax returns showed Americans even cut back on gambling. The recession now appears to have been deeper - a top-to-bottom fall of 5.1 percent - and the recovery even less impressive. The economy is still smaller than it was in 2007.

In June, more American manufacturers said new orders fell than rose, according to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management. The margin was small, but the survey had shown rising orders for 24 consecutive months. Manufacturers in most European countries, including Germany and Britain, also reported weaker new orders.

Back in 1980, a recession was started when the government - despairing of its failure to bring down surging inflation rates - invoked controls aimed at limiting the expansion of credit and making it more costly for banks to make loans. Those controls proved to be far more effective than anyone expected, and the economy promptly tanked. In July the credit controls were ended, and the economic research bureau later determined that the recession ended that month.

By the first quarter of 1981 the economy was larger than it had been at the previous peak.

But little had been done about inflation, and the Federal Reserve was determined to slay that dragon. With interest rates high, home sales plunged in late 1981 to the lowest level since the government began collecting the data in 1963. Now they are even lower.

There is, of course, no assurance that a new recession has begun or will do so soon, and a positive jobs report on Friday morning could revive some optimism. But concerns have grown that the essential problems that led to the 2007-09 recession were not solved, just as inflation remained high throughout the 1980 downturn. Housing prices have not recovered, and millions of Americans owe more in mortgage debt than their homes are worth. Extremely low interest rates helped to push up corporate profits, but companies have hired relatively few people.

In any other cycle, the recent spate of poor economic news would have resulted in politicians vying with one another to propose programs to revive growth. President Obama has called for more spending on infrastructure, but there appears to be little chance Congress will take any action. The focus in Washington is now on deciding where to reduce spending, not increase it.

There have been some hints that the Federal Reserve might be willing to resume purchasing government bonds, which it stopped doing in June, despite opposition from conservative members of Congress. But the revised economic data may indicate that the previous program - known as QE2, for quantitative easing - had even less impact than had been thought. With short-term interest rates near zero, the Fed's monetary policy options are limited.

Government stimulus programs historically have often appeared to be accomplishing little until the cumulative effect suddenly helps to power a self-sustaining recovery. This time, the best hope may be that the stimulus we have already had will prove to have been enough.


13) Length of Unemployment Continues to Break Records
August 5, 2011, 12:00 pm


Dollars to doughnuts.

The average worker who is unemployed has been searching for a job for 40.4 weeks, or more than nine months, according to new Labor Department figures.

That is the longest average unemployment duration on record:
Bureau of Labor Statistics

This pattern is especially worrisome because unemployment begets unemployment - that is, for a whole host of reasons, people who are already out of work for a long period of time have very slim chances of finding new work in the near future. Just consider the catch-22 some employers are creating by stating that they'll only hire workers who already have jobs.

In other words, what started out as a cyclical problem could morph into a structural one - particularly if the country allows the nation's 14 million jobless workers to become a sort of underclass like the one many European countries have struggled with.


14) Specialists Recognize Breastfeeding Is on the Rise in Cuba
"In Cuba, women have the right to one year of paid maternity leave."
Friday, 05 August 2011 14:19

Moron, Ciego de Avila, Cuba, Aug 5.- In the closing of nationwide activities marking the World Breastfeeding Week, health authorities recognized that there has been an increase in this healthy practice.

Expert in newborn care Valter Martinez Corredera acknowledged the progress made on this matter in the island, but noted that further effort should be made on spreading information on the advantages of feeding babies exclusively with breastmilk during the first six months of age, strengthening prenatal and postnatal orientation to the mother-to-be and her family.

Breastmilk is the ideal food for babies. It protects them from several diseases, reduces risks of malnutrition and contributes to healthy teeth, among other benefits for the child and the mother.

In Cuba, women have the right to one year of paid maternity leave. At present, the island boasts the best results of Latin America in the international breastfeeding campaign, according to a survey by the Pan American Health Organization. (ACN).


15) Egypt's new regime rules with an iron fist
"'An army sniper shot my brother dead, the bullet went through his forehead and it came out on the other side. I saw it. No one here has a weapon like this - only soldiers do,' said Cairo resident Reda Radian Malak."
Published: 5 August, 2011, 09:39
Edited: 5 August, 2011, 09:49

The passionate youth of Egypt who drove the revolution of Tahrir Square are now being shot or jailed by the military junta and its courts. The developments form a sinister backdrop to the trial of the country's former president and his allies.

_Hosni Mubarak denied the charges against him on the first day of his hearing, where he was accused of ordering the deaths of protesters back in February.

The hearing, which will continue in ten days, could culminate in a possible death sentence for Mubarak.

The 83-year-old was in a hospital bed as he stood trial alongside his two sons and top aides, who are also accused of corruption and mass-killing.

Even with new faces in government, blood is still being spilled on the streets of Egypt.

Many of the protesters killed last February were too young to vote, yet old enough to die for their country. Today, a portrait of one of them, a 17-year-old boy killed by police on Tahrir square last winter, adorns one of Cairo's central thoroughfares. There is even a talk of naming a street after him.

What makes someone a martyr and another a thug? In Egypt right now it is the date of death. Those gunned down prior to Mubarak's resignation are celebrated as patriots who gave up their lives for the brighter future of their country. Those killed after his ousting are sometimes referred to as criminals who sought to undermine their country's democratic strides. And it does not matter that they shared the same goals. In Egypt these days justice is about power and not the other way around.

That is the most likely reason behind the growth in influence of Islamist groups in Egypt where debate is intensifying over whether the post-revolution country will become a Sharia-ruled state.

Another young man RT met with also counted himself among the children of the revolution. Along with his younger brother, he celebrated Mubarak's departure on Tahrir, believing it to spell the end of the police state. Three months later, the young man was killed in what his brother believes was a government sanctioned shoot-out.

"An army sniper shot my brother dead, the bullet went through his forehead and it came out on the other side. I saw it. No one here has a weapon like this - only soldiers do," said Cairo resident Reda Radian Malak.

Unlike the families of people whose deaths are being blamed on Mubarak, these people received no monetary compensation for their loss. In fact, they are increasingly worried that the new military authorities may label them as thugs - an all-encompassing term for those who don't appreciate the new military rulers.

"We expected the army to intervene, to protect people, to stop violence, but instead they started to kill people themselves," recalls Reda Radian Malak.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took over as Egypt's interim caretaker government when Mubarak stepped down. Brought to power by the protests, the generals, nevertheless, do not show much liking for mass gatherings.

The cradle of the Egyptian revolution - Tahrir Square - is now cordoned off by riot police. Those caught protesting are accused of public disturbance and tried in military courts.

"In the last seven months, there have been more people put on military trials than during any of the president Gamal Abdel Nasser's reign, President Anwar Sadat's reign or president Hosni Mibarak's reign," claims Egyptian human rights activist Noor Noor.

A scar on his forehead still has not healed but Noor Noor believes he got off lightly from his encounter with the police a month ago. A son of the former presidential contender who was jailed by the Mubarak regime, Noor says the new authorities are just a brutalized version of the old.

"There is a very little difference between the people who are ruling us now and Hosni Mubarak, and many of the crimes Mubarak committed against his people are currently been committed against us now by the people from the Supreme Council of armed forces that are ruling right now," the human rights activist confides. "Whether it is using violence or oppressing the people, or even manipulating public opinion. But sadly - and this is what hurts more - these crimes are now being committed in the name of the revolution."

Noor Noor keeps a bloodied t-shirt as a reminder that the Egyptian revolution is far from over. The former president is now on trial for his role in the mass killings but blood is still being spilled on the streets of Cairo.


16) Political Roots in U.S. Economic Crisis
"The downtick in the unemployment rate, to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent, is also dismaying on closer inspection. It does not reflect an increase in the share of workers finding jobs. Rather, it reflects a shrinking labor force, as the long-term unemployed and other jobless workers give up looking for jobs. If nearly three million sidelined workers were included in the official unemployment rate, it would be 10.7 percent. (The rate is higher still, 16.1 percent, when people who can only find part-time jobs are included.)"
New York Times Editorial
August 5, 2011

By nearly every recent measure - growth, consumer spending, manufacturing, house prices and stock prices - the American economy is struggling. The jobs report for July, released on Friday, was a bit better than expected, but still grim.

The question now is whether Washington will move beyond the wrongheaded focus on budget cuts - the last thing a faltering economy needs - to job creation.

With the debt limit fight over for now, President Obama has ratcheted up the talk about jobs. That is a start, but only a start. What the economy needs is real government investment to support demand and create new jobs.

The handicappers will tell you that that is impossible given Congressional Republicans' fierce opposition to any new spending or new revenues. The alternative is months, and even years, of stagnation or worse.

The numbers are undeniable. The economy created 117,000 jobs in July, but at comparable points in the recoveries from other severe recessions, the economy was adding about 400,000 jobs a month.

Even at that rate, it would be three years before the unemployment rate was down to its prerecession level of 5 percent. In the last three months, job growth has averaged 72,000.

The downtick in the unemployment rate, to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent, is also dismaying on closer inspection. It does not reflect an increase in the share of workers finding jobs. Rather, it reflects a shrinking labor force, as the long-term unemployed and other jobless workers give up looking for jobs. If nearly three million sidelined workers were included in the official unemployment rate, it would be 10.7 percent. (The rate is higher still, 16.1 percent, when people who can only find part-time jobs are included.)

Washington may be in denial, but the rest of the country knows what's going on. A New York Times/CBS News Poll, released the same day as the July jobs report, showed that by a ratio of more than two to one, Americans say that creating jobs should be a higher priority than cutting spending.

The poll also showed that a record 82 percent of Americans now say they disapprove of Congress, a sentiment that is surely fed by the belief of an overwhelming majority who told the pollsters that the debt ceiling fight was more about gaining political advantage than doing what is best for the country.

President Obama must push Congress to extend federal unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut for employees before they expire at year's end. Congress should also establish an infrastructure bank to finance building projects and initiate a direct federal job creation program to employ young people in their communities.

The American people understand what's needed, even if Congress doesn't. As Stanley Oland, 62, a Republican from Kalispell, Mont., told the pollsters: "Unless you have working people, you don't have revenue from taxes. If you cut spending, jobs will be eliminated and you won't get any revenue. Every dollar spent creates jobs."

Is anyone listening?


17) Officers Guilty of Shooting Six in New Orleans
August 5, 2011

NEW ORLEANS - In a verdict that brought a decisive close to a case that has haunted this city since most of it lay underwater nearly six years ago, five current and former New Orleans police officers were found guilty on all counts by a federal jury on Friday for shooting six citizens, two of whom died, and orchestrating a wide-ranging cover-up in the hours, weeks and years that followed.

The defendants were convicted on 25 counts, including federal civil rights violations in connection with the two deaths, for the violence and deception that began on the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans on Sept. 4, 2005, just days after Hurricane Katrina hit and the levees failed.

"The officers convicted today abused their power and violated the public's trust during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, exacerbating one of the most devastating times for the people of New Orleans," Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said. "I am hopeful today's verdict brings justice for the victims and their family members, helps to heal the community and contributes to the restoration of public trust in the New Orleans Police Department."

In a grisly account, prosecutors said four of the defendants - Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius, Officer Anthony Villavaso and former Officer Robert Faulcon - had raced to the bridge in a Budget rental truck that morning, responding to a distress call from another officer.

There they poured out of the truck and opened fire, without pausing or giving a warning, on members of the Bartholomew family, who were walking to a grocery in the largely abandoned city. James Brisette, 17, a friend of the family, was killed, and four others were gravely wounded by the police, who kept firing as the Bartholomews raced for safety.

Several of the officers then chased Ronald and Lance Madison, two brothers, to the other side of the bridge, where Mr. Faulcon shot Ronald, a 40-year-old mentally disabled man, in the back. Sergeant Bowen was convicted of stomping him on the back as he lay dying.

No guns were recovered at the scene, and witnesses - both officers and citizens - testified that the victims were unarmed.

The cover-up began immediately, prosecutors said, and the jury found all of the officers, as well as retired Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, guilty on charges of obstructing justice, fabricating witnesses, lying to federal investigators or planting a firearm at the scene to bolster a made-up story.

While the jury convicted on all counts, it stopped short of considering the killing of Mr. Madison to be murder in connection with a firearms charge. Such a finding would have affected the sentencing range, though four of the defendants are nevertheless faced with potential life sentences. Mr. Kaufman faces up to 120 years. Sentencing is set for Dec. 14.

On the insistence of Judge Kurt Englehardt, the courtroom was nearly silent as he read guilty pronouncement after guilty pronouncement.

Family members of the defendants sobbed quietly. Outside the courthouse, Bobbi Bernstein, a deputy chief of the Justice Department's civil rights division and the hard-charging leader of the prosecution, was in tears as she hugged Lance Madison, who was arrested during the cover-up of the shooting that left his brother dead. "I am thankful to have some closure after six long years of struggling for justice," Mr. Madison said quietly.

The verdict was long in coming, and followed a problem-plagued attempt by the Orleans Parish district attorney to prosecute the officers for murder, an effort that ended in a judge dismissing all charges in 2008.

The federal prosecution began shortly afterward, and the Police Department as a whole began coming under more scrutiny. At one point there were at least nine federal criminal investigations into the Police Department's actions, some of which are continuing; four have already led to indictments and three, including the Danziger case, to convictions.

In May 2010, the Justice Department announced a federal civil investigation into the department, an inquiry that has produced a scathing report on its practices and will eventually lead to a consent decree, a legally mandated blueprint for reform.

Around 60 witnesses were called over the course of the monthlong Danziger trial, including victims, one of whom was unable to raise her right hand to swear in because she lost it as a result of the shootings on the bridge, and several officers who had been involved in the shootings and the police investigation and later pleaded guilty.

The trial was not only about these five officers but also about what exactly happened in the weeks after the hurricane, a sort of judgment on the initial widely held belief that the authorities were trying to control elements of a citizenry run rampant.

In the years since, that narrative has been qualified. While some people did turn to crime and violence, it has become apparent that some of the bloodshed and chaos was brought about by members of the long-troubled Police Department.

In opening and closing arguments, prosecutors portrayed the Danziger victims as people merely trying to survive when they were descended on by the police. Instead of assessing the threat when they arrived on the scene, prosecutors said, these officers tried to send a harsh lesson to people they had wrongly suspected of firing at the police.

"They thought they could do what they wanted to do and there wouldn't be any consequences," said Theodore Carter, an assistant United States attorney, in his closing statement. "This led to their crime, it led to their brazenness. It never occurred to them they were shooting up two good families."

While some of the defense lawyers argued that the citizens were in fact armed, or that other people in the vicinity were shooting at the victims, their main argument was that the officers' actions must be judged in the context of those first horrible days after Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans was a city on the verge of anarchy.

As in a similar trial of the police last year, defense lawyers said that the officers should be considered heroes for staying in the city when so many others left and that, given the air of imminent and omnipresent danger in those days, their instincts should not be criminalized.

"He has to decide and act in a split second, a nanosecond, to make a life or death decision," said Paul Fleming, who represented Mr. Faulcon. Given the circumstances, he said, "It is a decision that is reasonable, it is a decision that is justifiable and it is a decision that is not a crime."

Jim Letten, the United States attorney for Louisiana's Eastern District, said that was exactly wrong. It is in situations like the anarchy after Hurricane Katrina, he said, when it is most crucial that the police be depended upon to protect citizens.

"Who can we count on when our society is threatened?" he asked. "If we can't depend on them, who can we depend on?"


18) Steep Increases Proposed for PATH Fares and Tolls at Hudson Crossings
[This reflects the myriad of ways capitalism has of making working people pay for everything while the wealthy get tax breaks. Just imagine having to pay $15.00 a day just to get to work!]
August 5, 2011

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey proposed its steepest toll increase in modern memory on Friday, unveiling a plan that would raise the cost of crossing the tunnels and bridges that span the Hudson River by 50 percent for most drivers and raise the price of a monthly PATH train pass by 65 percent.

E-ZPass users would see a jump from $8 to $12 at peak hours on the three major Hudson River crossings - the George Washington Bridge and the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels - as well as three other bridges between New Jersey and Staten Island. Drivers who pay with cash would be charged $7 more, or $15 a trip, making the toll one of the highest in the country.

The provenance of the larger-than-expected proposed increases was mysterious. The two men who control the agency, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, issued a statement saying they shared "obvious and significant concerns" about the proposal.

But privately, the Cuomo administration signed off on the plan within the past week, according to two sources familiar with internal discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering administration officials. The agency had been planning for months to impose a $2 toll increase. The $4 proposal caught agency officials off guard.

Asked whether Governor Cuomo had pushed for the $4 increase, a spokesman, Josh Vlasto, responded, "That's not true." But he would not elaborate on the discussions or the governor's view of the proposal.

"There is nothing more to say," Mr. Vlasto said.

Of course, governors often like to step in and halt unpopular increases and fees, and proposals to raise Port Authority tolls tend to start a familiar political dance: the agency puts forward a bracing plan, the public reacts angrily, and governors relish the role of advocate for the overburdened commuter. Usually, a more reasonable compromise is reached.

A public hearing on the proposal is expected to be held on Aug. 16, and the Port Authority's board of commissioners will consider the new tolls and fares at a meeting this month.

If the board votes for the plan, both governors would have 10 days during which they could veto the increases.

The board and the Port Authority's top administrative staff members are entirely selected by the two governors, and few decisions at the agency, which controls many of the region's bridges, tunnels, shipping ports and airports, are made without some form of consultation with Albany and Trenton.

The Port Authority, which receives all of its revenue through tolls and fees, has seen its budget wither from the poor economy, which has reduced the number of drivers on its crossings, and the siphoning off of funds for nonagency projects.

After Governor Christie decided last year to end an ambitious plan for another train tunnel under the Hudson because of its cost, he successfully pushed the agency to redistribute $1.8 billion of the money it had earmarked for the project instead to be used for road and highway repairs in New Jersey.

Some regional transportation advocates endorsed the toll increases on Friday, saying the additional revenue was sorely needed for major infrastructure projects. But critics said drivers and PATH riders would not be asked to make such large sacrifices if the agency's budget had not been raided.

"This increase is not surprising given the financial pressure" put on the agency, said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. And some New Jersey politicians said the big increases were a way for Mr. Christie, who has sworn off tax increases, to squeeze revenue from the commuting public.

"If you say you're not going to raise taxes on anybody to fund transportation, it's disingenuous to take money from the Port Authority and have them raise tolls, and act as if you're not responsible," said Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, Democratic chairman of the State Assembly's transportation committee. The toll increase, he said, "is Chris Christie's toll increase."

Under the proposal, a single fare on the PATH train, the diminutive commuter subway system that connects parts of Manhattan to New Jersey, would be raised $1, to $2.75 a ride.

The price of a 30-day unlimited pass for the PATH system would be raised by 65 percent, to $89 from $54 a month.

The proposal calls for the crossing tolls to be raised again in 2014, with an increase of $2 for drivers. The PATH fare would not be raised again in 2014, under the current proposal.

Revenue from this year's increases would generate an additional $720 million for the agency. The second phase of increases, in 2014, would raise $290 million.

Michael Barbaro contributed reporting.


19) More Spending Cuts on the Way: The Big Issues
"Many Congressional Democrats oppose benefit cuts, and they were successful in excluding Social Security from the deficit reduction package. Changes to the massive retirement and disability program, however, could be on the table when the new joint committee considers further spending cuts."
August 6, 2011

The deficit reduction package signed by President Barack Obama ends one standoff but makes it likely there will be another before the end of the year. The package initially cuts spending by $917 billion over the next decade. It also creates a new joint committee of Congress that will attempt to come up with more cuts. If Congress doesn't approve the committee's plan, additional automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion would be imposed, starting in 2013.

The big issues facing Obama and Congress:


Health Care

- Congressional Democrats successfully opposed cuts to Medicare benefits, but lawmakers didn't completely shield the program. Although there will be no initial reductions, there would be an automatic 2 percent cut to providers if the new joint committee cannot agree on a new deficit reduction package. The joint committee can include Medicare changes in its package.

- Republicans have endorsed a plan that would transform Medicare into a voucher-like system for new retirees. Private insurance plans, not the government, would pay medical bills.

- Obama was willing to raise the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67, and to increase co-pays and premiums, based on income, but only as part of a "grand bargain" that included tax increases.

- The Medicaid health care program for the poor was exempted from the deficit reduction package, though cuts could be on the table when the new joint committee meets.


Social Security

- Many Congressional Democrats oppose benefit cuts, and they were successful in excluding Social Security from the deficit reduction package. Changes to the massive retirement and disability program, however, could be on the table when the new joint committee considers further spending cuts.

- Many Republicans have endorsed a range of changes, including raising the early retirement age (currently 62) and the age when retirees qualify for full benefits (currently 66, gradually increasing to 67). GOP lawmakers generally oppose tax increases to shore up Social Security.

- Obama proposed adopting a new measure of inflation that would reduce annual cost-of-living increases in benefits, but only as part of a "grand bargain" that would raise taxes.



- Congressional Democrats were unable to include tax increases in the deficit reduction package. They will try again when the new joint committee considers further ways to reduce the deficit. Democrats would target high-income taxpayers, oil and gas companies, and U.S.-based multinationals.

- Republicans opposed tax increases in the deficit reduction package and have vowed to fight them again in the new joint committee. Many GOP lawmakers say they favor reducing or eliminating deductions, credits and exemptions, but only as part of a tax reform package that lowers overall tax rates. House Speaker John Boehner says he was willing to accept $800 billion in new revenue over the next decade as part of a grand bargain. That sparked a revolt among many GOP lawmakers.

- Obama unsuccessfully pushed for tax increases as part of the deficit reduction package. The White House has said it will urge the new joint committee to propose raising more revenue through tax reform, though Republicans and some Democrats oppose the idea and congressional budget rules would make it very difficult to do. There are no automatic tax changes like the automatic spending cuts that will take place if the joint committee doesn't produce a bill that is enacted into law.


Debt Limit

- Congressional Democrats were split over whether raising the debt ceiling should be tied to deficit reduction. Many Democratic leaders wanted a clean increase in the borrowing limit, with no strings attached, as had been done dozens of times in the past. Other Democrats wanted it tied to deficit reduction.

-Republicans successfully demanded spending cuts in exchange for increasing the government's ability to borrow, perhaps setting a precedent that could lead to similar debt crises in the future.

- Obama initially asked for a clean increase in the debt limit. He lost on that issue, but he was able to ensure that the government's borrowing authority will be extended through the 2012 presidential election, when the government will operating under a debt ceiling of at least $16.4 billion.