Saturday, August 13, 2011



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Stop Illegal Evictions in East Oakland

Join the East Oakland residents who have suffered illegal removal from their homes on August 19th @ 12:00pm @ Oakland City Hall- Frank Ogawa Plaza for a press conference and rally for Housing justice.

A former Public Housing project in East Oakland illegally evicts its remaining residents so a profit can me made on future development:


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]


Police Beat Homeless Fullerton Man Kelly Thomas To Death

A video has surfaced that documents Fullerton police beating a homeless man near the Fullerton Bus Depot in early July, reports Gawker. The video above does not show much of the fight, but you can hear a man's screams and people talking about a Taser. The man being beaten also cries out for his father.

On July 5, Fullerton police received reports of someone breaking into cars in the area around the bus depot, according to the LA Times. Police subsequently tried to arrest 37-year-old transient Kelly Thomas on suspicion of possessing the stolen items.

When Thomas resisted, it took several minutes for him to be subdued. Sgt. Andrew Goodrich told the OC Register that it took "an upwards of five, maybe six officers to subdue him."

ABC says that Thomas was unarmed during the incident. Thomas sustained severe injuries to the head and neck, as evidenced in the photo here (WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC). He was hospitalized at UCI Medical Center, when he fell into a coma and died less than a week later.

Thomas' father Ron Thomas told the OC Register that his son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia in his early twenties and was homeless by choice. His sister, Christina Kinser, described him as a "quiet, gentle soul" to Fullerton Stories.

Currently, the Fullerton Police Department is performing an inquiry into the incident, and the case is being examined by the Orange County District Attorney's office, reports the LA Times. There have been several protests, and a vigil for Kelly was held in downtown Fullerton, the OC Register tells us.

In an open letter, City Council Member Bruce Whitaker has called for the police to offer a clear explanation and to release a video that apparently shows the actual beating.


New Trailer: Battle for Brooklyn

Battle for Brooklyn explores the poorly understood phenomenon of eminent domain abuse. A feature-length documentary from filmmakers Michael Galinsky, Suki Hawley, and David Beilinson, this film investigates how real estate developers, local government, community activists, and the media have clashed over the largest single-source development project ever proposed in New York City. Widely known as the Atlantic Yards project, this undertaking has for the past four years been a major source of contention as local residents resist a billionaire developers attempt to use eminent domain to seize their homes and businesses. Done in the name of "development," schemes such as this one eviscerate private property rights and make a mockery of the Fifth Amendment--and yet they freely exploit lucrative taxpayer subsidies, easements, and tax abatements.


A Classic: With great TV visuals common during the War in Vietnam--cleansed for us today.

Bruce Springsteen - War


Verizon Strike in Albany, New York


Protest which sparked Tottenham riot
Hours before the riot which swept the area demonstrators gather outside Tottenham Police Station in North London demanding "justice" for the killing of a 29-year-old man, Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by police.
By Alastair Good
August 7, 2011


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) Gold Shoots Past Record $1,800 an Ounce
[A dear comrade, Joe Johnson, said the price of gold is like blood pressure for the economy. When it's very high, you may not know what is wrong with it, but you know something is very wrong.]
August 10, 2011

2) Cameron, in Speech, Pledges Swift Reaction to Rioters
"Mr. Cameron repeated earlier statements that the police were authorized to use plastic-coated bullets against rioters and that plans were in place to deploy water cannons, though such action was 'not appropriate now.' While he agreed with objections by the police to the deployment of the army to confront any future unrest, he said the authorities would consider whether the military could fulfill any functions to allow more police officers to be deployed. 'Nothing should be off the table. Every contingency is being looked at,' he said. As to the causes of the outbreak, he returned to an earlier theme of social breakdown. 'This is not about poverty, it's about culture - a culture that glorifies violence, shows disrespect to authority, and says everything about rights but nothing about responsibilities,' he said."
August 11, 2011

3) U.S. Relies on Contractors in Somalia Conflict
August 10, 2011

4) The Hijacked Crisis
August 11, 2011

5) C.I.A. Is Disputed on Civilian Toll in Drone Strikes
"On May 6, a Central Intelligence Agency drone fired a volley of missiles at a pickup truck carrying nine militants and bomb materials through a desolate stretch of Pakistan near the Afghan border. It killed all the militants - a clean strike with no civilian casualties, extending what is now a yearlong perfect record of avoiding collateral deaths. Or so goes the United States government's version of the attack, from an American official briefed on the classified C.I.A. program. Here is another version, from a new report compiled by British and Pakistani journalists: The missiles hit a religious school, an adjoining restaurant and a house, killing 18 people - 12 militants, but also 6 civilians, known locally as Samad, Jamshed, Daraz, Iqbal, Noor Nawaz and Yousaf. ...John O. Brennan, clearly referring to the classified drone program, said in June that for almost a year, 'there hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we've been able to develop.' Other officials say that extraordinary claim still holds: since May 2010, C.I.A. officers believe, the drones have killed more than 600 militants - including at least 20 in a strike reported Wednesday - and not a single noncombatant."

6) A Scalpel, Not an Ax, for Medicaid
[Isn't it nice that they can suggest the scalpel over the ax for cutting into other people's bodies--poor people's bodies--not their bodies. So, I guess we're supposed to believe that the Republicans want to use the ax but the "good Democrats" just want to use the scalpel--as long as neither of them are cutting into the bodies of the wealthy elite they are a part of! They make me sick!]
New York Times Editorial
August 11, 2011

7) Cholera Scourge Now Ravaging Somalia, U.N. Says
"It is easily treated with oral rehydration salts and antibiotics. But many health centers in Somalia lack even these basic supplies and as a result, those who get cholera, especially children, can die of dehydration within days or even hours of being infected. 'It's moving so fast from one person to another,' Mr. Jasarevic said. 'It's an epidemic for sure.'"
[Modern day capitalist death]
August 12, 2011

8) Protests Force Israel to Confront Wealth Gap
August 11, 2011

9) Economic Crisis Will Leave Scars That Last for Years
"We need to create jobs today - and commit to tightening our belts when the economy starts to recover."
[Why is it that everyone has to tighten their belt except the most wealthy? It's not even an option to be considered because that's the fundamental nature of the capitalist system itself--the massive accumulation of privately owned wealth through the police and military enslavement of everyone else.]
August 11, 2011

10) Judge Won't Order Inquiry Over Psychologist's Role in Guantánamo
August 11, 2011

11) China May Be Worst Protectionist Ever: U.S. Economist
August 12, 2011

12) Alabama Law Criminalizes Samaritans, Bishops Say
August 13, 2011

13) Faltering Rhode Island City Tests Vows to Pensioners
"When the small, beleaguered city of Central Falls, R.I., filed for bankruptcy this month, it sought to cut the pension checks it has been sending its retired police officers, firefighters and other workers by as much as half. All the city promises now is that its retirees, many of whom do not get Social Security, will not have their benefits cut to less than $10,000 a year. But investors who bought the city's bonds could do much better: Rhode Island recently passed a law intended to make sure that they would be paid in full, even in bankruptcy."
August 13, 2011

14) British Leader Seeks Public Housing Evictions for Rioters and Their Families
"As Britain begins to weigh the costs of the rioting of recent days and ponder measures to prevent a recurrence, the government of Prime Minister David Cameron put forward on Friday a new way of punishing the looters and vandals who rampaged through many of the country's cities and towns: kick them and their families out of their government-subsidized homes. If carried out on the scale Mr. Cameron and his ministers have proposed, the measure would probably be the most punitive of the sanctions that they have said would be considered in response to the worst civil disorder in a generation. More than 10 million Britons, about one in six, live in public housing."
August 12, 2011

15) Italy Agrees on $65 Billion in Austerity Measures
August 12, 2011

16) Along the Jersey Shore, a Struggle to Get to the Sand
August 12, 2011

17) Shell and Authorities Silent on North Sea Oil Leak
August 13, 2011

18) To defuse 'flash' protest, BART cuts riders' cell service. Is that legal?
To forestall a planned protest, Bay Area Rapid Transit turned off cellphone service, angering passengers and raising questions about First Amendment rights in an age of social media protests.
By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer
August 12, 2011


1) Gold Shoots Past Record $1,800 an Ounce
[A dear comrade, Joe Johnson, said the price of gold is like blood pressure for the economy. When it's very high, you may not know what is wrong with it, but you know something is very wrong.]
August 10, 2011

The price of gold surpassed $1,800 an ounce Wednesday for the first time as investors pulled their money out of stocks and snapped up precious metals contracts.

Gold is fast becoming a favorite port in a storm of uncertainty. Investors are clinging to what they see as a hedge against volatile stock and currency markets.

December gold contracts backed off their highs, and traded around $1,785 an ounce during midday trading after reaching a record $1,801 an ounce earlier in the day on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold prices have shot past a series of milestones over the past two years on an uninterrupted climb. Gold was trading at about $900 in the summer of 2008, before the financial crisis unfolded that year.

Resulting turmoil in currency and stock markets has burnished gold's luster.


2) Cameron, in Speech, Pledges Swift Reaction to Rioters
"Mr. Cameron repeated earlier statements that the police were authorized to use plastic-coated bullets against rioters and that plans were in place to deploy water cannons, though such action was 'not appropriate now.' While he agreed with objections by the police to the deployment of the army to confront any future unrest, he said the authorities would consider whether the military could fulfill any functions to allow more police officers to be deployed. 'Nothing should be off the table. Every contingency is being looked at,' he said. As to the causes of the outbreak, he returned to an earlier theme of social breakdown. 'This is not about poverty, it's about culture - a culture that glorifies violence, shows disrespect to authority, and says everything about rights but nothing about responsibilities,' he said."
August 11, 2011

LONDON - Seeking to stamp his authority after the worst rioting in decades, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday that the authorities would study a wide range of measures, including deployment of the army, to curb future violence and took the unusual step of saying he would consult an American law enforcement veteran on ways to counter criminal gangs.

Mr. Cameron was speaking as Britain turned to a tough reckoning with the perpetrators of the violence, with courts sitting through the night and the police saying Thursday that over 1,200 people had been arrested, the bulk of them in London, since a frenzy of arson and looting broke out on Saturday and eased only after thousands of police reinforcements flooded the streets of London and major cities.

The convulsion of violence prompted widespread criticism of what many people saw as a initially ineffective police response and of tardy actions by political leaders, many of whom, including Mr. Cameron, seemed too slow to break off summer vacations to confront events that escalated rapidly into his most serious political challenge since taking office in May 2010.

"We will not let a violent few beat us," Mr. Cameron said at an extraordinary session of Parliament to which lawmakers had been summoned from their vacations. "We will not put up with this in our country. We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets and we will do whatever it takes to restore law and order and to rebuild our communities."

He promised "swift justice" for those who had carried out the violence, which started in the gritty north London neighborhood of Tottenham, and he said there was "some evidence" that criminal gangs had been behind the wave of arson and looting.

Mr. Cameron said he would discuss the question of gangs with William J. Bratton, a former police commissioner in Boston, Los Angeles and New York, and now chairman of a New York security company, Kroll Associates. It was the second time in weeks that Mr. Cameron had publicly mentioned Mr. Bratton's name after saying earlier that he should be considered as potential new head of Scotland Yard following the resignation of two top officers in the scandal over phone hacking.

That suggestion, however, met with strong resistance from British police authorities and others who said the head of the Scotland Yard, as London's Metropolitan Police is known, was by tradition a Briton.

Only on Wednesday, Mr. Cameron had referred to the inner-city gangs that the police say have played a leading role in the riots, saying, "They are in no way representative of the vast majority of young people in our country who despise them, frankly, just as much as the rest of us do." And on Thursday in Parliament, he said: "The problem is not just gangs."

For the first time, Mr. Cameron acknowledged criticism of the initial police response to the violence, saying police commanders had accepted that they deployed too few officers when the looting and arson began.

"Initially the police treated the situation too much as a public order issue, rather than essentially one of crime," he said.

Mr. Cameron repeated earlier statements that the police were authorized to use plastic-coated bullets against rioters and that plans were in place to deploy water cannons, though such action was "not appropriate now." While he agreed with objections by the police to the deployment of the army to confront any future unrest, he said the authorities would consider whether the military could fulfill any functions to allow more police officers to be deployed.

"Nothing should be off the table. Every contingency is being looked at," he said. As to the causes of the outbreak, he returned to an earlier theme of social breakdown. "This is not about poverty, it's about culture - a culture that glorifies violence, shows disrespect to authority, and says everything about rights but nothing about responsibilities," he said.

"We need to show the world, which has looked on frankly appalled, that the perpetrators of the violence we have seen on our streets are not in any way representative of our country - nor of our young people," he said. "We need to show them that we will address our broken society, we will restore a stronger sense of morality and responsibility - in every town, in every street and in every estate."

On specific new measures, he said "no phony human rights issues" would prevent the authorities from publishing photographs of suspected perpetrators for identification and said new rules would allow the police to tell people to remove face-coverings like masks. Many of those seen looting stores and carrying off booty that ranged from high-end sneakers to flat-screen televisions were wearing masks and hoods.

Mr. Cameron also said the authorities would consider a broad range of other measures, including the imposition of curfews and action to limit communication between rioters using smartphones and social-networking sites.

On Thursday, the London police said 922 people had been arrested and 401 charged with offenses since the violence took root on Saturday, while the Manchester police in the northwest put the total of arrests there at 145, with similar numbers detained in Birmingham in the English Midlands. Courts in London and Birmingham sat through the night. With thousands of police reinforcement on the streets, heavy rain in some areas and residents in some places patrolling their own residential areas, there were no new reports of major violence overnight.

Despite the apparent lull, concern was growing about many of the ethnically segregated districts battered by the rampages, particularly Birmingham, Britain's second-largest city, where the police and political leaders worried about a potentially explosive new pattern of interracial violence that could be set off by the past days and nights of mayhem.

Three young men of Pakistani descent were killed in Birmingham on Tuesday night when a car crashed into a group of residents who had gathered to protect local businesses from attack. Witnesses said that the driver appeared to be of Afro-Caribbean descent, and the police arrested a 32-year-old man and charged him with murder.

In Parliament on Thursday, Mr. Cameron faced pressure from the opposition Labour Party - and from his fellow Conservative London mayor Boris Johnson - to reverse cuts in police budgets ordered as part of broad austerity measures designed to reduce the government deficit. In response, though, Mr. Cameron told lawmakers that his government's proposed 6 percent cut in police spending should be possible "while keeping police visibility up" through greater efficiencies.

While many Britons had initially blamed the violence on unemployed youth, one surprise was the presence in courts of young men and women with regular jobs among the riot suspects lined up in police wagons outside courthouses in London and other cities. That raised questions about why they had been caught up in the kind of mayhem that has traditionally drawn on an underclass of alienated young people, with no jobs and few prospects.

Many of those who were remanded for trial appeared to come from just those kinds of backgrounds - evidence, as some commentators saw it, that the root causes of the disorders lay in social deprivation and despair. But those who stood before the courts for bail hearings in London, many of them still in their jeans and hooded sweatshirts, included a graphic designer, a postal employee, a dental assistant, a teaching aide, a forklift driver and a youth worker.

One 19-year-old woman was listed on court documents as living in a converted farmhouse in a leafy, upmarket area of rural Kent that is part of what Londoners call the stockbroker belt. A 22-year-old woman gave her address as an upscale block of flats in a gentrified neighborhood of Hackney, one of the worst-hit riot areas in London. Local residents said that many of the residents of the apartments, which are valued at about $500,000, belonged to a community of affluent, middle-class people with jobs in London's news media and art world.

"There are pockets of our society that are not just broken but, frankly, sick," Mr. Cameron said on Wednesday. "The sight of those young people running down streets, smashing windows, taking property, looting, laughing as they go, the problem of that is a complete lack of responsibility, a lack of proper parenting, a lack of proper upbringing, a lack of proper ethics, a lack of proper morals," he continued. "That is what we need to change. There is no one trigger that can change these things. It's about parenting, it's about discipline in schools, it's about making sure we have a welfare system that does not reward idleness. It is all of those things."

For now, the political sparring has taken a back seat to more immediate concerns, especially the signs of rising tensions between ethnic groups in neighborhoods under siege. Earlier in the week, Turkish groups in Hackney and other London neighborhoods began arming themselves with aluminum baseball bats and other weapons to protect their homes and businesses. In the neighborhood of Southall, a crowd of Sikhs gathered at a temple where their spiritual leader vowed to fight back against any groups that threatened the temple or Sikh neighborhoods.

Similar vows were made by Muslim groups in a wide array of mixed-race communities in London and in at least two other cities with large Muslim populations - Birmingham and Manchester.

In Birmingham, a large police contingent moved into the district of Winson Green, where the three young men were killed by the driver. A police spokesman said an investigation had indicated that the car had been driven "deliberately" at a group of about 80 young men who were protecting a gas station from looters.

Tariq Jahan, the father of the youngest of the three victims, described bloodying his hands in a failed bid to restore his son's breathing, then turned to an appeal for all in the community to renounce violence. "Why? Why?" he said.

John F. Burns and Ravi Somaiya reported from London and Alan Cowell from Paris.


3) U.S. Relies on Contractors in Somalia Conflict
August 10, 2011

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Richard Rouget, a gun for hire over two decades of bloody African conflict, is the unlikely face of the American campaign against militants in Somalia.

A husky former French Army officer, Mr. Rouget, 51, commanded a group of foreign fighters during Ivory Coast's civil war in 2003, was convicted by a South African court of selling his military services and did a stint in the presidential guard of the Comoros Islands, an archipelago plagued by political tumult and coup attempts.

Now Mr. Rouget works for Bancroft Global Development, an American private security company that the State Department has indirectly financed to train African troops who have fought a pitched urban battle in the ruins of this city against the Shabab, the Somali militant group allied with Al Qaeda.

The company plays a vital part in the conflict now raging inside Somalia, a country that has been effectively ungoverned and mired in chaos for years. The fight against the Shabab, a group that United States officials fear could someday carry out strikes against the West, has mostly been outsourced to African soldiers and private companies out of reluctance to send American troops back into a country they hastily exited nearly two decades ago.

"We do not want an American footprint or boot on the ground," said Johnnie Carson, the Obama administration's top State Department official for Africa.

A visible United States military presence would be provocative, he said, partly because of Somalia's history as a graveyard for American missions - including the "Black Hawk Down" episode in 1993, when Somali militiamen killed 18 American service members.

Still, over the past year, the United States has quietly stepped up operations inside Somalia, American officials acknowledge. The Central Intelligence Agency, which largely finances the country's spy agency, has covertly trained Somali intelligence operatives, helped build a large base at Mogadishu's airport - Somalis call it "the Pink House" for the reddish hue of its buildings or "Guantánamo" for its ties to the United States - and carried out joint interrogations of suspected terrorists with their counterparts in a ramshackle Somali prison.

The Pentagon has turned to strikes by armed drone aircraft to kill Shabab militants and recently approved $45 million in arms shipments to African troops fighting in Somalia.

But this is a piecemeal approach that many American officials believe will not be enough to suppress the Shabab over the long run. In interviews, more than a dozen current and former United States officials and experts described an overall American strategy in Somalia that has been troubled by a lack of focus and internal battles over the past decade. While the United States has significantly stepped up clandestine operations in Pakistan and Yemen, American officials are deeply worried about Somalia but cannot agree on the risks versus the rewards of escalating military strikes here.

"I think that neither the international community in general nor the U.S. government in particular really knows what to do with the failure of the political process in Somalia," said J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa program at the Atlantic Council, a Washington research institution.

For months, officials said, the State Department has been at odds with some military and intelligence officials about whether striking sites suspected of being militant camps in Somalia's southern territories or carrying out American commando raids to kill militant leaders would significantly weaken the Shabab - or instead bolster its ranks by allowing the group to present itself as the underdog against a foreign power.

Lauren Ploch, an East Africa expert at the Congressional Research Service, said that the Obama administration was confronted with many of the same problems that had vexed its predecessors - "balancing the risks of an on-the-ground presence" against the risks of using "third parties" to carry out the American strategy in Somalia.

Teaching Fighting Skills

The Shabab has already shown its ability to strike beyond Somalia, killing dozens of Ugandans last summer in a suicide attack that many believe was a reprisal for the Ugandan government's decision to send troops to Somalia. Now, though, thanks in part to Bancroft, the private security company, the militants have been forced into retreat. Several United Nations and African Union officials credit the work of Bancroft with improving the fighting skills of the African troops in Somalia, who this past weekend forced Shabab militants to withdraw from Mogadishu, the capital, for the first time in years.

Like other security companies in Somalia, Bancroft has thrived as a proxy of sorts for the American government. Based in a mansion along Embassy Row in Washington, Bancroft is a nonprofit enterprise run by Michael Stock, a 34-year-old Virginia native who founded the company not long after graduating from Princeton in 1999. He used some of his family's banking fortune to set up Bancroft as a small land-mine clearing operation.

In recent years, the company has expanded its mission in Somalia and now runs one of the only fortified camps in Mogadishu - a warren of prefabricated buildings rimmed with sand bags a stone's throw from the city's decrepit, seaside airport.

The Bancroft camp operates as a spartan hotel for visiting aid workers, diplomats and journalists. But the company's real income has come from the United States government, albeit circuitously. The governments of Uganda and Burundi pay Bancroft millions of dollars to train their soldiers for counterinsurgency missions in Somalia under an African Union banner, money that the State Department then reimburses to the two African nations. Since 2010, Bancroft has collected about $7 million through this arrangement.

Both American and United Nations officials said that Bancroft's team in Mogadishu - a mixture of about 40 former South African, French and Scandinavian soldiers who call themselves "mentors" - has steadily improved the skills of the African troops and cut down on civilian casualties by persuading the troops to stop lobbing artillery shells into crowded parts of Mogadishu. One Western consultant who works with the African Union credits Bancroft with helping "turn a bush army into an urban fighting force."

The advisers typically work from the front lines - showing the troops how to build sniper pits or smash holes in walls to move between houses.

"Urban fighting is a war of attrition, you nibble, nibble, nibble," said Mr. Rouget, the Bancroft contractor. Last year, he was wounded in Mogadishu when a piece of shrapnel from a Shabab rocket explosion sliced through his thigh.

Still, he seems to thoroughly enjoy his work. "Give me some technicals" - a term for heavily armed pickup trucks - "and some savages and I'm happy," he joked.

Privatizing War

Some critics view the role played by Mr. Rouget and other contractors as a troubling trend: relying on private companies to fight the battles that nations have no stomach for. Some American Congressional officials investigating the money being spent for operations in Somalia said that opaque arrangements like those for Bancroft - where money is passed through foreign governments - made it difficult to properly track how the funds were spent.

It also makes it harder for American officials to monitor who is being hired for the Somalia mission. In Bancroft's case, some trainers are veterans of Africa's bush wars who sometimes use aliases in the countries where they fought. Mr. Rouget, for example, used the name Colonel Sanders.

He denies that he is a mercenary, and said that his conviction in a South African court was "political," more a "regulatory infraction" than a crime. He added that the French government, which sent peacekeeping troops to Ivory Coast, was well aware of his activities there.

Mr. Stock, Bancroft's president, also flatly rejects the idea that his employees are mercenaries, insisting that the trainers do not participate in direct combat with Shabab fighters and are supported by legitimate governments.

"Mercenary activity is antithetical to the fundamental purposes for which Bancroft exists," he said, adding that the company "does not engage in covert, clandestine or otherwise secret activities."

He did say, though, that there is only a small pool of people Bancroft can hire who have experience fighting in African wars.

In recent years, according to a United Nations report, many companies have waded into Somalia's chaos with contracts to protect Somali politicians, train African troops and build a combat force to battle armed Somali pirates.

The report provides new details about an operation by the South African firm Saracen International to train a 1,000-member antipiracy militia for the government of Puntland, a semiautonomous region in northern Somalia, effectively creating "the best-equipped indigenous military force anywhere in Somalia." Using shell companies, some of which the United Nations report links to Erik Prince, who founded the Blackwater Worldwide security company, Saracen secretly shipped military equipment - which the report says violated an arms embargo - into northern Somalia on cargo planes leaving from Uganda and the United Arab Emirates. Several American officials have said that the Emirates, concerned about the piracy epidemic, have been secretly financing the Saracen operation.

Aid From the Pentagon

The Pentagon has recently told Congress that it plans to send nearly $45 million worth of military equipment to bolster the Ugandan and Burundian troops. The arms package includes transport trucks, body armor, night vision goggles and even four small drone aircraft that the African troops can use to spy on Shabab positions.

Unlike regular Somali government troops, the C.I.A.-trained Somali commandos are outfitted with new weapons and flak jackets, and are given sunglasses and ski masks to conceal their identities. They are part of the Somali National Security Agency - an intelligence organization financed largely by the C.I.A. - which answers to Somalia's Transitional Federal Government. Many in Mogadishu, though, believe that the Somali intelligence service is building a power base independent of the weak government.

One Somali official, speaking only on the condition of anonymity, said that the spy service was becoming a "government within a government."

"No one, not even the president, knows what the N.S.A. is doing," he said. "The Americans are creating a monster."

The C.I.A. Plays a Role

The C.I.A. has also occasionally joined Somali operatives in interrogating prisoners, including Ahmed Abdullahi Hassan, a Kenyan arrested in Nairobi in 2009 on an American intelligence tip and handed over to Somalia by the Kenyans. The C.I.A. operations in Somalia were first reported last month by the magazine The Nation.

An American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of restrictions against discussing relationships with foreign intelligence services, said that agency officers had questioned Mr. Hassan in a Somali prison under strict interrogation rules.

"The host country must give credible assurances that suspects will be treated humanely," the official said, and intelligence officials "must be convinced that the individual in custody has time-sensitive information about terrorist operations targeting U.S. interests."

A C.I.A. spokeswoman said that the spy agency was not holding suspects in secret American prisons, as it did in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"The C.I.A. does not run prisons in Somalia or anywhere else, period," said the spokeswoman, Marie Harf. "The C.I.A.'s detention and interrogation program ended over two and a half years ago."

In Washington, American officials said debates were under way about just how much the United States should rely on clandestine militia training and armed drone strikes to fight the Shabab. Over the past year, the American Embassy in Nairobi, according to one American official, has become a hive of military and intelligence operatives who are "chomping at the bit" to escalate operations in Somalia. But Mr. Carson, the State Department official, has opposed the drone strikes because of the risk of turning more Somalis toward the Shabab, according to several officials.

In a telephone interview, he played down any bureaucratic disagreements and rejected criticism that America's approach toward Somalia had been ad hoc. It is a country with historically difficult problems, he said, and the American support to the African peacekeepers has helped beat back the Shabab's forces.

And as for the rest of southern Somalia, still firmly in the Shabab's hands?

"One step at a time, he said. "One step at a time."

Mr. Stock, Bancroft's president, said that bickering in Washington about how to contain the Shabab threat had made the American government even more dependent on companies like his.

As he put it, "We're the only game in town."

Jeffrey Gettleman reported from Mogadishu, and Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt from Washington.


4) The Hijacked Crisis
August 11, 2011

Has market turmoil left you feeling afraid? Well, it should. Clearly, the economic crisis that began in 2008 is by no means over.

But there's another emotion you should feel: anger. For what we're seeing now is what happens when influential people exploit a crisis rather than try to solve it.

For more than a year and a half - ever since President Obama chose to make deficits, not jobs, the central focus of the 2010 State of the Union address - we've had a public conversation that has been dominated by budget concerns, while almost ignoring unemployment. The supposedly urgent need to reduce deficits has so dominated the discourse that on Monday, in the midst of a market panic, Mr. Obama devoted most of his remarks to the deficit rather than to the clear and present danger of renewed recession.

What made this so bizarre was the fact that markets were signaling, as clearly as anyone could ask, that unemployment rather than deficits is our biggest problem. Bear in mind that deficit hawks have been warning for years that interest rates on U.S. government debt would soar any day now; the threat from the bond market was supposed to be the reason that we must slash the deficit now now now. But that threat keeps not materializing. And, this week, on the heels of a downgrade that was supposed to scare bond investors, those interest rates actually plunged to record lows.

What the market was saying - almost shouting - was, "We're not worried about the deficit! We're worried about the weak economy!" For a weak economy means both low interest rates and a lack of business opportunities, which, in turn, means that government bonds become an attractive investment even at very low yields. If the downgrade of U.S. debt had any effect at all, it was to reinforce fears of austerity policies that will make the economy even weaker.

So how did Washington discourse come to be dominated by the wrong issue?

Hard-line Republicans have, of course, played a role. Although they don't seem to truly care about deficits - try suggesting any rise in taxes on the rich - they have found harping on deficits a useful way to attack government programs.

But our discourse wouldn't have gone so far off-track if other influential people hadn't been eager to change the subject away from jobs, even in the face of 9 percent unemployment, and to hijack the crisis on behalf of their pre-existing agendas.

Check out the opinion page of any major newspaper, or listen to any news-discussion program, and you're likely to encounter some self-proclaimed centrist declaring that there are no short-run fixes for our economic difficulties, that the responsible thing is to focus on long-run solutions and, in particular, on "entitlement reform" - that is, cuts in Social Security and Medicare. And when you do encounter such a person, you should be aware that people like that are a major reason we're in so much trouble.

For the fact is that right now the economy desperately needs a short-run fix. When you're bleeding profusely from an open wound, you want a doctor who binds that wound up, not a doctor who lectures you on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you get older. When millions of willing and able workers are unemployed, and economic potential is going to waste to the tune of almost $1 trillion a year, you want policy makers who work on a fast recovery, not people who lecture you on the need for long-run fiscal sustainability.

Unfortunately, giving lectures on long-run fiscal sustainability is a fashionable Washington pastime; it's what people who want to sound serious do to demonstrate their seriousness. So when the crisis struck and led to big budget deficits - because that's what happens when the economy shrinks and revenue plunges - many members of our policy elite were all too eager to seize on those deficits as an excuse to change the subject from jobs to their favorite hobbyhorse. And the economy continued to bleed.

What would a real response to our problems involve? First of all, it would involve more, not less, government spending for the time being - with mass unemployment and incredibly low borrowing costs, we should be rebuilding our schools, our roads, our water systems and more. It would involve aggressive moves to reduce household debt via mortgage forgiveness and refinancing. And it would involve an all-out effort by the Federal Reserve to get the economy moving, with the deliberate goal of generating higher inflation to help alleviate debt problems.

The usual suspects will, of course, denounce such ideas as irresponsible. But you know what's really irresponsible? Hijacking the debate over a crisis to push for the same things you were advocating before the crisis, and letting the economy continue to bleed.


5) C.I.A. Is Disputed on Civilian Toll in Drone Strikes
"On May 6, a Central Intelligence Agency drone fired a volley of missiles at a pickup truck carrying nine militants and bomb materials through a desolate stretch of Pakistan near the Afghan border. It killed all the militants - a clean strike with no civilian casualties, extending what is now a yearlong perfect record of avoiding collateral deaths. Or so goes the United States government's version of the attack, from an American official briefed on the classified C.I.A. program. Here is another version, from a new report compiled by British and Pakistani journalists: The missiles hit a religious school, an adjoining restaurant and a house, killing 18 people - 12 militants, but also 6 civilians, known locally as Samad, Jamshed, Daraz, Iqbal, Noor Nawaz and Yousaf. ...John O. Brennan, clearly referring to the classified drone program, said in June that for almost a year, 'there hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we've been able to develop.' Other officials say that extraordinary claim still holds: since May 2010, C.I.A. officers believe, the drones have killed more than 600 militants - including at least 20 in a strike reported Wednesday - and not a single noncombatant."

August 11, 2011

WASHINGTON - On May 6, a Central Intelligence Agency drone fired a volley of missiles at a pickup truck carrying nine militants and bomb materials through a desolate stretch of Pakistan near the Afghan border. It killed all the militants - a clean strike with no civilian casualties, extending what is now a yearlong perfect record of avoiding collateral deaths.

Or so goes the United States government's version of the attack, from an American official briefed on the classified C.I.A. program. Here is another version, from a new report compiled by British and Pakistani journalists: The missiles hit a religious school, an adjoining restaurant and a house, killing 18 people - 12 militants, but also 6 civilians, known locally as Samad, Jamshed, Daraz, Iqbal, Noor Nawaz and Yousaf.

The civilian toll of the C.I.A.'s drone campaign, which is widely credited with disrupting Al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan's tribal area, has been in bitter dispute since the strikes were accelerated in 2008. Accounts of strike after strike from official and unofficial sources are so at odds that they often seem to describe different events.

The debate has intensified since President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, clearly referring to the classified drone program, said in June that for almost a year, "there hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we've been able to develop." Other officials say that extraordinary claim still holds: since May 2010, C.I.A. officers believe, the drones have killed more than 600 militants - including at least 20 in a strike reported Wednesday - and not a single noncombatant.

Cutting through the fog of the drone war is important in part because the drone aircraft deployed in Pakistan are the leading edge of a revolution in robotic warfare that has already expanded to Yemen and Somalia, and that military experts expect to sweep the world.

"It's urgent to answer this question, because this technology is so attractive to the U.S. and other governments that it's going to proliferate very rapidly," said Sarah Holewinski, executive director of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, or Civic, a Washington nonprofit that tracks civilian deaths.

The government's assertion of zero collateral deaths meets with deep skepticism from many independent experts. And a new report from the British Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which conducted interviews in Pakistan's tribal area, concluded that at least 45 civilians were killed in 10 strikes during the last year.

Others who question the C.I.A. claim include strong supporters of the drone program like Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, who closely tracks the strikes.

"The Taliban don't go to a military base to build bombs or do training," Mr. Roggio said. "There are families and neighbors around. I believe the people conducting the strikes work hard to reduce civilian casualties. They could be 20 percent. They could be 5 percent. But I think the C.I.A.'s claim of zero civilian casualties in a year is absurd."

A closer look at the competing claims, including interviews with American officials and their critics, discloses new details about how the C.I.A. tracks the results of the drone strikes. It also suggests reasons to doubt the precision and certainty of the agency's civilian death count.

In a statement on Tuesday for this article, Mr. Brennan adjusted the wording of his earlier comment on civilian casualties, saying American officials could not confirm any such deaths.

"Fortunately, for more than a year, due to our discretion and precision, the U.S. government has not found credible evidence of collateral deaths resulting from U.S. counterterrorism operations outside of Afghanistan or Iraq, and we will continue to do our best to keep it that way," Mr. Brennan said.

If there are doubts about the C.I.A. claim, there are also questions about the reliability of critics' reports of noncombatant deaths. Reporters in North Waziristan, where most strikes occur, operate in a dangerous and politically charged environment. Many informants have their own agendas: militants use civilian deaths as a recruiting tool, and Pakistani officials rally public opinion against the drones as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

"Waziristan is a black hole of information," acknowledged Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who is suing the C.I.A. on behalf of civilians who say they have lost family members in the strikes. American officials accuse Mr. Akbar of working to discredit the drone program at the behest of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, the Pakistani spy service. Mr. Akbar and others who know him strongly deny the accusation.

American officials, who will speak about the classified drone program only on the condition of anonymity, say it has killed more than 2,000 militants and about 50 noncombatants since 2001 - a stunningly low collateral death rate by the standards of traditional airstrikes.

The officials say C.I.A. drone operators view their targets for hours or days beforehand, analyzing what they call a "pattern of life" and distinguishing militants from others. They use software to model the blast area of each proposed strike. Then they watch the strike, see the killed and wounded pulled from the rubble, and track the funerals that follow.

The video is supplemented, officials say, by informants on the ground who sometimes plant homing devices at a compound or a car. The C.I.A. and National Security Agency intercept cellphone calls and e-mails discussing who was killed.

"Because our coverage has improved so much since the beginning of this program, it really defies logic that now we would start missing all these alleged noncombatant casualties," said an American official familiar with the program.

In one recent strike, the official said, after the drone operator fired a missile at militants in a car and a noncombatant suddenly appeared nearby, the operator was able to divert the missile harmlessly into open territory, hitting the car minutes later when the civilian was gone.

"Nobody is arguing that this weapon is perfect, but it remains the most precise system we've ever had in our arsenal," the official said.

The agency's critics counter that an intelligence officer watching a video screen thousands of miles away can hardly be certain of the identity of everyone killed in a strike. In a tribal society where men commonly carry weapons and a single family compound can include a militant fighter, an enlistee in the Pakistani government's Frontier Corps, and a shopkeeper, even villagers may be uncertain about the affiliations of their neighbors.

Skeptics likewise say that militants can commandeer a car or a compound from neighbors who cannot safely refuse the demands. And civilians may be present among militants: the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, for example, found that one strike that killed about two dozen militants also killed two civilians, a prisoner of the militants and a visitor negotiating the release of relatives held elsewhere.

The standard drone weapons, Hellfire missiles and 500-pound bombs, like other ordnance, are not absolutely predictable. A strike last Oct. 18, all reports agree, hit a militant compound and killed a number of fighters. But Mr. Akbar, the lawyer, said the family next door to the compound had told his investigators their 10-year-old son, Naeem Ullah, was hit by shrapnel and died an hour after being taken to the hospital in nearby Miram Shah. Neighbors confirmed the account, Mr. Akbar said.

The C.I.A. declines to publicly discuss the drone program, so it was not possible to talk to an agency drone pilot. But Col. David M. Sullivan, an Air Force pilot with extensive experience with both traditional and drone airstrikes from Kosovo to Afghanistan, said remotely piloted craft offered far greater opportunities to study a target and avoid hitting civilians.

An F-117 fighter or a Reaper drone each carries the same 500-pound bombs, "but the Reaper has been sitting for hours on target," allowing the operator time to study who will be hit by a strike, said Colonel Sullivan, who is on the staff of the secretary of defense.

Still, he said, there is still a margin of error in drone strikes, even if it is far smaller than in traditional strikes.

"Zero innocent civilians having lost their lives does not sound to me like reality," Colonel Sullivan said. "Never in the history of combat operations has every airborne strike been 100 percent successful."

American officials said the Bureau of Investigative Journalism report was suspect because it relied in part on information supplied by Mr. Akbar, who publicly named the C.I.A.'s undercover Pakistan station chief in December when announcing his legal campaign against the drones. But Mr. Akbar, a former prosecutor, denied he had ever received money or instructions from the ISI, which he said he had often faced off against as a lawyer. He said that in July two ISI agents visited him to ask, "who do you work for?"

Christopher Rogers, an American human rights lawyer who lived in Pakistan in 2009 and 2010, said that he had helped interest Mr. Akbar in the drone strikes and their legal implications. "The idea that ISI was the puppeteer here is not credible at all," said Mr. Rogers, now at the Open Society Institute in New York.

Though Pakistani officials often denounce the drone program, even as they have at times quietly assisted it, skeptics about its overall impact include American officials as well. The former director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, said at a public forum in Aspen, Colo., last month that he thought unilateral American strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia should end.

"Pull back on unilateral actions by the United States except in extraordinary circumstances," said Mr. Blair, who headed national intelligence from January 2009 until May 2010.

C. Christine Fair, an expert on Pakistan at Georgetown University, said that getting full cooperation with Pakistan on drone strikes might be impossible. But Ms. Fair, who said she began as a skeptic but has come to believe that the drones are highly effective and civilian casualties are very low, said the semisecrecy surrounding the program fuels suspicion and allows propaganda to thrive.

The C.I.A. should make public its strikes and their results - even to the point of posting video of the strikes online, she said.

"This is the least indiscriminate, least inhumane tool we have," Ms. Fair said. "But until there is complete transparency, the public will not believe that."

Pir Zubair Shah contributed reporting from New York.


6) A Scalpel, Not an Ax, for Medicaid
[Isn't it nice that they can suggest the scalpel over the ax for cutting into other people's bodies--poor people's bodies--not their bodies. So, I guess we're supposed to believe that the Republicans want to use the ax but the "good Democrats" just want to use the scalpel--as long as neither of them are cutting into the bodies of the wealthy elite they are a part of! They make me sick!]
New York Times Editorial
August 11, 2011

Many states are struggling to balance their budgets by curbing spending on Medicaid, a joint state-federal program that provides health insurance for the poor and disabled. They have little choice because Medicaid is one of their biggest, fastest-growing expenses. The risk is that injudicious cuts could harm their most vulnerable citizens.

A lawsuit, which the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear in the coming term, will determine whether there is any recourse for Medicaid beneficiaries who may have less access to health care because of such cuts. Beneficiaries need the right to sue - and to negotiate legal settlements - so that they can force states to consider whether reducing provider payments will limit access to care.

There are few painless ways to cut Medicaid; there is only so much fraud, waste and abuse that can be easily eliminated. Payments to drug companies and medical device makers can often be cut without harming beneficiaries. But many states resort to reducing payments to doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other providers, which seems preferable to eliminating benefits like dental and vision care or charging the poor higher co-payments.

The painful choices were illustrated by events in California, which has far more Medicaid beneficiaries and a bigger budget shortfall than any other state. California tried in 2008 to cut Medicaid payments to providers by up to 10 percent. The state was sued by providers, who stood to lose revenues, and beneficiaries, who stood to lose health services, on the grounds that the cuts violated crucial provisions of federal Medicaid law.

Those provisions require that reimbursement rates be sufficient to enlist enough providers so that beneficiaries have access to care at least comparable to the general population in an area. A federal district judge initially ruled that people could not sue to enforce that provision, but an appeals panel said they could. California appealed, and the Supreme Court accepted the issue for review.

No doubt state governments are in a bind. Cutting back Medicaid is difficult, and that task could become even harder if individuals and providers can sue to block state cuts. State governors and legislatures argue that only the federal government has the power to overrule reimbursement cuts. But federal officials have only limited resources to monitor compliance with the Medicaid law and few tools to coerce the states short of withholding federal matching funds, which would only make matters worse for the beneficiaries.

Even in hard budgetary times, states should not be allowed to cut Medicaid reimbursements without regard to the impact on beneficiaries and providers. California's error was that it paid almost no attention to how the rate cuts might affect access to services. New York, by contrast, enlisted providers in a successful effort to cut reimbursement rates while protecting most beneficiaries from serious harm. It should not be particularly hard for any state to demonstrate that it considered all the factors mandated by law - not just access, but effects on quality and efficiency as well - in making necessary cuts to Medicaid spending.


7) Cholera Scourge Now Ravaging Somalia, U.N. Says
"It is easily treated with oral rehydration salts and antibiotics. But many health centers in Somalia lack even these basic supplies and as a result, those who get cholera, especially children, can die of dehydration within days or even hours of being infected. 'It's moving so fast from one person to another,' Mr. Jasarevic said. 'It's an epidemic for sure.'"
[Modern day capitalist death]
August 12, 2011

NAIROBI, Kenya -A cholera epidemic is sweeping across Somalia, the United Nations said on Friday, as thousands of starving people flee famine zones and pack into crowded camps in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

According to the United Nations World Health Organization, 181 people have died from suspected cholera cases in a single hospital in Mogadishu and there have been several other confirmed cholera outbreaks across the country.

"We don't see the end of it," said Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the World Health Organization. "As long as we have people on the move, in crowded places and using contaminated water, we will see a rise in cases. All the causes are still there."

Parts of southern Somalia are now in the grip of a famine, the result of years of conflict and one of the worst droughts in 60 years. Compounding the problem are the limitations of the transitional government of Somalia, which controls little more than the capital - and it is a loose control at that - and much of the country is in the hands of an Islamist militant group, the Shabab, who have forced out many Western aid groups.

United Nations agencies and private aid organizations are struggling to respond to the needs and though some progress has been made in recent weeks, there are still many Shabab areas which are essentially off-limits. More than 100,000 people have recently fled famine areas and settled in make-shift camps in Mogadishu, which have become breeding grounds for measles, cholera and other diseases.

Cholera, one of the developing world's worst scourges, is caused by a bacteria that infects the small intestine and is spread through dirty water.

It is easily treated with oral rehydration salts and antibiotics. But many health centers in Somalia lack even these basic supplies and as a result, those who get cholera, especially children, can die of dehydration within days or even hours of being infected.

"It's moving so fast from one person to another," Mr. Jasarevic said. "It's an epidemic for sure."

The American government estimates that at least 29,000 Somali children have died so far from the famine and many more are expected to die unless enough emergency food and trained medical personnel can reach the famine areas soon.


8) Protests Force Israel to Confront Wealth Gap
August 11, 2011

TEL AVIV - They are mainstays of the society pages and glossy magazines. Some are praised for the hospital wings they have built, others are gossiped about for their quirks.

But these days, the handful of wealthy families who dominate the Israeli economy are assuming a new role: one of the chief targets of the tent-city protesters who have shaken Israel in the past month.

The "tycoons," as they are known even in Hebrew, are suddenly facing enraged scrutiny as middle-class families complain that a country once viewed as an example of intimate equality today has one of the largest gaps between rich and poor in the industrialized world.

The tent-city protesters, who have shifted the public discourse by demanding affordable housing and other essential goods, issued a document this week calling for a new socioeconomic agenda. Topping their goals: "minimizing social inequalities."

"What is keeping people on the streets is the question that if we are all having a hard time and we are all working and paying taxes, who is making the profits?" said Daphni Leef, the 25-year-old filmmaker who began this protest movement with a Facebook posting and remains at its center. "We know there are certain families that have a lot of money and a lot of influence and there is no transparency. People feel deceived."

Those families - the Ofers, the Dankners, the Tshuvas, the Fishmans and others - account for the 10 biggest business groups in the country and together control some 30 percent of the economy. They will doubtless be among the targets at another set of street demonstrations planned for Saturday night.

"It is becoming clearer to more and more people that this issue of concentration of wealth has become more important," said Einat Wilf, a legislator who submitted a bill last year aimed at tackling the issue. "As a result of the protests, there is much more political will to fight it than in the past."

Others counter that wealth concentration is only one of a number of factors contributing to the current middle-class lament and that focusing on it exclusively diverts attention from other equally important matters. They point to things like a swollen defense budget, subsidies for the ultra-Orthodox and the cost of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where the Interior Ministry said Thursday that it would build 1,600 units and announced plans for 2,700 more.

But the issue has had strong populist resonance. Although Israel's economy is strong, the data on wealth concentration, published by the Bank of Israel, are unsettling. A small group of family-owned companies control banks, supermarket chains and media, cellphone and insurance companies. They borrow heavily, posing risks for the larger economy and, through a web of interconnecting enterprises, make it harder for others to get into the markets they dominate.

"These are called pyramid schemes because through shares in one company they take control of a second company and, through that, of another one on down a chain of holdings," said Eytan Sheshinski, an economist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "They are able to move profits through the pyramid, which cannot happen in the United States because of the tax system there."

Still, the Bank of Israel study shows that while the United States, Britain and Germany have much less concentration of wealth than Israel, it is not so different from several other democracies. Based on the holdings of the 10 largest business families, Israel is in about the same situation as Switzerland, France and Belgium, and its wealth is far less concentrated than is the case in Sweden.

Last fall, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a committee to examine the concentration of wealth and find ways to reduce the power of monopolies.

"A pyramid is a tool to leverage heavily your capital, and retain control over large economic entities," said Prof. Eugene Kandel, Mr. Netanyahu's chief economic adviser, in an interview. "We know from looking at other countries that large and leveraged business groups can slow growth, cause instability and hinder competition. The committee appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu works to prevent this from growing into a large-scale program in Israel."

Daniel Doron, who directs the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress, a pro-market research organization, said he was convinced that the way in which failing state assets were privatized in the 1980s and '90s led to dangerous consolidation, just as it did in the former Soviet Union and some Arab countries, like Egypt and Syria. Banks, construction and mining companies, all owned by agencies of the state and all in varying degrees of trouble, were sold to those who could afford to buy them.

"It was basically selling assets to cronies," Mr. Doron said. Once the economy started to pick up in the late 1990s, these companies used their powerful market positions to increase fees sharply, he said, adding, "Today, the whole Israeli economy is built on rapacious elites fleecing consumers."

At the time of the sell-offs, some say, the right favored them for ideological reasons while the left wanted to get the economy out of the hands of the government, which the right often controlled.

The result - a limited number of individuals maintaining a hold over many national assets - has Israelis, both left and right, worried. Perhaps the best example is Nochi Dankner, chairman of IDB Holdings. His group controls Super-Sol, the largest supermarket chain; Cellcom, the largest mobile phone company; Netvision, one of the largest Internet companies; and Clal Finance, one of the largest financial institutions. He just bought a controlling share of Maariv, one of the largest newspapers. Mr. Dankner declined to comment for this article.

Control of media companies, especially as they have become less profitable, is one aspect of wealth concentration that has many here especially concerned. Commercial television stations are partly owned by tycoons, as are several of the newspapers. Sheldon Adelson, an American Jewish casino owner and friend of Mr. Netanyahu's, publishes a free Israeli newspaper widely seen as promoting the prime minister's agenda.

Guy Rolnik, editor of The Marker, a financial daily owned by Haaretz that has attacked concentration of wealth, said the issue had gotten short shrift in the media because of who owned the companies and fears of losing advertising. Often newspapers seem to be the tools of moguls battling one another as well as certain political figures.

A television journalist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter, said his station would probably not do a program on wealth concentration to avoid upsetting the station's owners.

But many of the moguls are somewhat to Mr. Netanyahu's left on foreign policy, and their newspapers can be merciless on him. Other newspapers accuse the prime minister of being in bed with the rich. Still others say his focus on the tycoons is an attempt to draw attention away from the cost of settlements and his failed peace policies.

Mr. Netanyahu's committee is expected to make recommendations in the next month or two. They may include a change in the corporate tax code as well as antitrust regulations making it harder or illegal to own across sectors, resembling steps taken in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. But they will not recommend the kind of income redistribution many protesters are seeking.

"It used to be politically impossible to go after the cartels, but now that 300,000 people have gone out in the street, we have a mandate," an aide to Mr. Netanyahu said. "But the prime minister is not going to make this a socialist country again."


9) Economic Crisis Will Leave Scars That Last for Years
"We need to create jobs today - and commit to tightening our belts when the economy starts to recover."
[Why is it that everyone has to tighten their belt except the most wealthy? It's not even an option to be considered because that's the fundamental nature of the capitalist system itself--the massive accumulation of privately owned wealth through the police and military enslavement of everyone else.]
August 11, 2011

We all know there are three important things about real estate: location, location, location. That double repetition, which the late and great word sleuth William Safire traced back to a 1926 Chicago Tribune classified ad, is still with us because it is succinct and true.

You can think about the economic and political woes of the Western world today in the same way. It's all about jobs, jobs, jobs.

But over the past two weeks the political battles over government debt in Washington and Frankfurt, the street battles in Britain, and the volatility of markets everywhere have obscured that reality. The talk instead has been about share prices, credit ratings, police tactics and political dysfunction.

That's why "Pinched," a book about unemployment published this week by the American journalist Don Peck is so timely and important. Mr. Peck's central message is that all recessions are not the same. Prolonged slowdowns, like the one the Western world is experiencing today, make their mark not only through the pain they cause while we are in the middle of them. They have a permanent, and largely malignant, impact.

As Mr. Peck argues: "When jobs are scarce, incomes flat, and debts heavy for protracted periods, people, communities and even whole generations can be left permanently scarred."

Mr. Peck's warning, which is based on the lingering effects of previous deep recessions, runs counter to the intuitions of the postwar generations in Western Europe and North America whose lives have been a story of fairly steady economic growth.

"The problems that we face are even bigger than we think right now," Mr. Peck told me. "People assume that, 'Well, it will be bad for a while, but then it will get better."'

The sort of metaphors we tend to reach for, to borrow one from the White House, are of the car that was driven into the ditch. It is unpleasant to be stuck in the mud, and pushing it out is hard work, but once we are back on the road it will be full speed ahead.

The better, but grimmer, comparison is to infant malnutrition. Even if that child grows into a well-fed adult, her early experience of deprivation will do lasting damage.

That ugly image is particularly apt because the hardest hit will probably be young people. Mr. Peck spoke to Lisa Kahn, a Yale economist, who found that getting your first job during a deep recession meant a starting salary 25 percent lower than during a boom, and an income 10 percent less 17 years later. Even mid-career, the recession generation not only takes home a thinner paycheck, it is lower down the corporate hierarchy and more professionally timorous.

Mr. Peck's second key point is that deep downturns don't just - though no human life is a "just" - blight individual lives or even the lifetime job prospects of a single generation. Living through a lot of lean years changes the entire culture, and not for the best.

Most of his book was written last year and it is largely about the United States, but Mr. Peck's prediction of societies turned nasty and brutish by hard times will have particular resonance this week in Britain.

"What we know for sure is that politics will become more contentious and life will become more mean-spirited," Mr. Peck said. "The great risk, I think, is a poisoning of politics, which will create a foreshortening of political action, where any sort of bold plan simply becomes impossible."

What is important about Mr. Peck's analysis is that he puts what happens in people's lives - their job prospects, their lifetime earnings, the shift in family dynamics when one parent is unemployed - at the center of his thinking about economic policy. He really does think the urgent issue today is jobs, jobs, jobs, because the personal catastrophe of unemployment, multiplied a millionfold, becomes a national catastrophe.

All of which may make you assume that Mr. Peck is a deficit dove. While it is true that in the short term he is worried that premature austerity is the greatest danger, he thinks that too much government debt matters as well: "To restore confidence in the federal government without undermining the recovery, we must tie current deficits to binding measures that will close the budget gap and stabilize the national debt in the near future."

That is the real tragedy of the poisoned political debate Mr. Peck predicts - and which is already paralyzing so much of the developed world. We argue bitterly about jobs versus deficits. But the best - and probably only - way to solve both problems is with a double-barreled strategic approach.

Robert E. Rubin, a former secretary of the Treasury and currently the co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, told me: "A lot of the commentary distinguishes between addressing the deficit and addressing jobs. I think they are actually one issue."

Like Mr. Peck, Mr. Rubin believes that an agreed plan to close the deficit in the medium term would actually make a job-creating stimulus program in the short term both more feasible and more effective.

"You can put in place a serious fiscal program, which would generate job-creating confidence, but defer the implementation date," he said. "In that context you could do a fiscal stimulus, and at much less risk of it being materially offset by an adverse effect on confidence."

We need to create jobs today - and commit to tightening our belts when the economy starts to recover. It is a simple plan that makes sense to a lot of us. But in the scared, beggar-thy-neighbor world Mr. Peck describes, the public-spirited middle ground this approach embodies may no longer exist.

Chrystia Freeland is global editor at large at Reuters.


10) Judge Won't Order Inquiry Over Psychologist's Role in Guantánamo
August 11, 2011

New York State cannot be forced to investigate a psychologist accused by a human rights organization of overseeing coercive interrogation tactics at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a judge in Manhattan ruled on Thursday.

The rights group, the Center for Justice and Accountability, had brought a suit claiming that the psychologist, John Francis Leso, helped develop a plan of coercive techniques, including sleep deprivation and isolation, to use on detainees at Guantánamo. The suit was brought on behalf of Steven Reisner, a psychologist and an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. It sought an investigation of Dr. Leso by a professional disciplinary office in the state's Education Department that regulates psychologists' licenses.

But in a 12-page ruling filed in State Supreme Court, Justice Saliann Scarpulla wrote that Dr. Reisner had no standing to force an investigation. Nothing in state education law, Justice Scarpulla wrote, guarantees that the office "formally investigate every single complaint of professional misconduct, no matter the contents or applicability of the complaint."

The judge also ruled that Dr. Reisner did not suffer an injury as a result of the state's decision not to investigate.

In July 2010, Dr. Reisner filed a complaint against Dr. Leso with the Education Department's Office of Professional Discipline. But the office said it did not have jurisdiction in the case because the claims against Dr. Leso did not involve the practice of psychology as defined under New York State law. The office cited several reasons, including the lack of an established doctor-patient relationship.

Dr. Reisner argued that the office had a duty to investigate Dr. Leso, and the human rights group sued on Dr. Reisner's behalf in November, seeking an investigation of Dr. Leso and the revocation of his license. Efforts to reach Dr. Leso for comment have been unsuccessful.

Earlier this year, William J. Strickland, the Society of Military Psychologists' representative with the American Psychological Association, said the accusations against psychologists regarding the interrogations were highly speculative and lacked any clear evidence of wrongdoing.

Justice Scarpulla's ruling is the latest in a few similar lawsuits across the country that have gone against advocates who have been trying to get the courts to punish psychologists accused of advising on abusive interrogations.

Dr. Reisner said in an interview on Thursday that he was disappointed with the decision and that he and his lawyer were deciding whether to appeal.

Because she ruled that he did not have standing to bring a claim, Dr. Reisner said, Justice Scarpulla did not address the issue of Dr. Leso's conduct.

"For the sake of our country, somebody has to be willing to stand up and say that torture is wrong, it's unethical, it's illegal, it contradicts everything that our nation stands for," Dr. Reisner said. "This has an effect on every psychologist and health professional."


11) China May Be Worst Protectionist Ever: U.S. Economist
August 12, 2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China's massive intervention in currency markets could qualify it as the most protectionist nation in history, a leading U.S. economist said on Friday.

"China has intervened massively in the foreign exchange markets for at least five years, buying at least $1 billion every day to keep the dollar strong and its own renminbi weak," Fred Bergsten, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said in the text of a speech.

"This is by far the largest protectionist measure adopted by any country since the Second World War -- and probably in all of history," Bergsten said.

Bergsten estimated the China's renminbi, also known as the yuan, is currently undervalued by at least 20 percent against the U.S. dollar as a result of China's currency intervention.

That "is the equivalent of a subsidy of 20 percent on all China's exports and an additional tariff of 20 percent on all China's imports," Bergsten said.

Bergsten, who served in various White House and Treasury positions between 1969 and 1981, has long been a critic of China's exchange rate policies.

His latest broadside comes amid signs Beijing could let the yuan rise more rapidly to contain inflation.

Meanwhile, U.S. government data on Thursday showed the bilateral trade deficit with China grew nearly 12 percent in the first half of 2011 to $133.4 billion, which could stir Congress to act on currency concerns.

Bergsten again urged the U.S. Treasury Department to formally label China a currency manipulator, something it has refused to do five times under President Barack Obama.

Treasury's next semi-annual report on the foreign exchange trading practices is due on Oct 15. Labeling China a currency manipulator would require the department to launch negotiations with Beijing to remedy the situation.

Bergsten also suggested other U.S. policy responses, such as filing a case at the World Trade Organization against China for currency manipulation and then sharply limiting its access to the U.S. market if the case prevailed.

Or "we could initiate 'countervailing currency intervention,' buying Chinese renminbi to offset the effect on our exchange rate of their massive purchases of dollars," Bergsten said.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Andrea Ricci)


12) Alabama Law Criminalizes Samaritans, Bishops Say
August 13, 2011

CULLMAN, Ala. - On a sofa in the hallway of his office here, Mitchell Williams, the pastor of First United Methodist Church, announced that he was going to break the law. He is not the only church leader making such a declaration these days.

Since June, when Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, signed an immigration enforcement law called the toughest in the country by critics and supporters alike, the opposition has been vocal and unceasing.

Thousands of protesters have marched. Anxious farmers and contractors have personally confronted their lawmakers. The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups have sued, and have been backed by a list of groups including teachers' unions and 16 foreign countries. Several county sheriffs, who will have to enforce parts of the new law, have filed affidavits supporting the legal challenges.

On Aug. 1, the Justice Department joined the fray, contending, as in a similar suit in Arizona, that the state law pre-empts federal authority to administer and enforce immigration laws.

And on that same day, three bishops sued.

An Episcopal bishop, a Methodist bishop and a Roman Catholic archbishop, all based in Alabama, sued on the basis that the new statute violated their right to free exercise of religion, arguing that it would "make it a crime to follow God's command to be Good Samaritans."

"The law," said Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, "attacks our core understanding of what it means to be a church."

While church leaders have spoken out against similar laws elsewhere, Alabama is the only state where senior church leaders have gone so far in formal, organized opposition. But the law in Alabama, a state with an estimated 120,000 illegal immigrants, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, goes further than any other.

It contains some of the controversial provisions of other recent state laws, including one that empowers local law enforcement to try to ascertain immigration status after pulling people over for traffic violations.

But the law also makes it a crime to transport, harbor or rent property to people who are known to be in the country illegally, and it renders any contracts with illegal immigrants null.

To some church leaders - who say they will not be able to give people rides, invite them to worship services or perform marriages and baptisms - the law essentially criminalizes basic parts of Christian ministry.

Framers of the law say this is broadly exaggerated. The provisions, they say, clearly pertain to human traffickers or employers actively seeking to skirt the law. Churches, or people simply acting as Good Samaritans, were not intended as targets of the law, they say, nor would they be singled out in practice.

"It's not as explicit as the churches would obviously like," said State Senator Bryan Taylor, a Republican. "But I do not think that any church or any clergyman is subject to prosecution for doing their Christian mission."

Transporting an illegal immigrant, lawmakers point out, is considered a crime under the law if it is done "in furtherance of the unlawful presence" of the person in the United States. "Harboring" an illegal immigrant is a crime only if it is done to shield the person from detection.

Lawyers for the church leaders contend that the language is far too vague to rely on such reassurances.

On Wednesday, Alabama's attorney general asked the State Supreme Court to interpret the passages raised in the church lawsuit, which has been consolidated with two other suits, including the one brought by the Justice Department.

Leaders of the denominations represented in the suit are not the only ones with concerns.

An ecumenical group of ministers in Auburn has publicly condemned the law. Bob Terry, the president of The Alabama Baptist newspaper, wrote in a column that the state was trying to dictate Christian ministry.

Andy Heis, the pastor of the new, nondenominational Desperation Church in Cullman, said, "It puts you in a really, really hard place."

"I understand legally where they're coming from," he said, pointing out that obeying government laws was a biblical command. "But spiritually, I have to do what God calls me to do."

The politics of this are unusual, with those opposed to the law, mostly coming from the left, arguing that the statute falls short of biblical principles, and the law's supporters, mostly from the right, arguing that secular laws and biblical law cannot always run on the same track.

And the politics are thorny for ministers, who acknowledge that the immigration law is broadly popular. Congregations are not in lock step behind their leaders.

Take Mac Buttram, a retired Methodist minister and a Republican who represents Cullman in the Legislature and voted for the law. Like other lawmakers, he insists that many of the law's opponents misunderstand or exaggerate what it says.

Mr. Buttram also said he was surprised by comments from church leaders, including his own bishop, implying that those who supported the law were being mean-spirited and un-Christian.

"It's a Christian issue, it's a moral issue, but it's not an issue in which we should be casting judgment," he said, adding that several Methodist ministers had since called him expressing their support for the law.

State Representative Micky Hammon, a Republican and one of the law's sponsors, said some church leaders had asked that a passage be included in the law that would exempt churches from certain provisions. But every attempt at writing such a passage ended up creating an unacceptably large loophole, he said, adding that any necessary adjustments to the law could still be made.

For some church leaders, the issue cannot be cut free of the weight of Alabama history.

The need for language forbidding racial profiling and the frequent failure by those discussing the law to distinguish between illegal immigrants and Hispanics in general give pause to opponents, even if they agree that current federal immigration policy is not working.

"Alabama needs to sit this one out," said Bishop William H. Willimon, a Methodist who serves North Alabama. "The civil rights memorial in Birmingham is kind of a reminder that we've got to watch this sort of thing."

An open letter to the governor and the law's legislative sponsors, written by two Methodist ministers and signed by more than 150 other ministers, begins with a reference to the 1963 Letter From a Birmingham Jail by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in which the civil rights leader rebuked liberal religious leaders, among them the predecessors of those who brought the lawsuit, for urging restraint in the fight against segregation.

The authors of the letter said they did not feel that they were making up for the clerical restraint during the civil rights years, but were simply drawing attention to Dr. King's thoughts on unjust laws.

"King was saying context doesn't matter - if it's unjust, it's unjust, and you call it like you see it," said the Rev. Matt Lacey, whose Birmingham church was attended in the 1960s by Bull Connor, the city's police chief and lead enforcer of segregation laws.

Mr. Williams, the pastor in Cullman, signed the letter but is less confrontational than some of his fellow ministers. For one thing, he thinks the church needs to be careful on how it speaks.

"I don't think that the church can stand up and say a particular law is Christian or not," he said. Still, he said, he has told his ministers to keep doing what they are doing, including the church's active Hispanic ministry, whether the law is upheld or not.


13) Faltering Rhode Island City Tests Vows to Pensioners
"When the small, beleaguered city of Central Falls, R.I., filed for bankruptcy this month, it sought to cut the pension checks it has been sending its retired police officers, firefighters and other workers by as much as half. All the city promises now is that its retirees, many of whom do not get Social Security, will not have their benefits cut to less than $10,000 a year. But investors who bought the city's bonds could do much better: Rhode Island recently passed a law intended to make sure that they would be paid in full, even in bankruptcy."
August 13, 2011

When the small, beleaguered city of Central Falls, R.I., filed for bankruptcy this month, it sought to cut the pension checks it has been sending its retired police officers, firefighters and other workers by as much as half. All the city promises now is that its retirees, many of whom do not get Social Security, will not have their benefits cut to less than $10,000 a year.

But investors who bought the city's bonds could do much better: Rhode Island recently passed a law intended to make sure that they would be paid in full, even in bankruptcy.

Retirees are wondering how the city can cut what they believed was a guaranteed benefit. "We put our time in, we put our money in," said Walter Trembley, 74, a retired Central Falls police officer. "And the city, through their callousness and everything else, just blew it. They were supposed to put money in and they didn't."

Cities and local governments make lots of promises: to their citizens, workers, vendors and investors. But when the money starts to run out, as it has in Central Falls, some promises prove more binding than others. Bond lawyers have known for decades that it is possible, at least in theory, to put bondholders ahead of pensioners, but no one wanted to try it and risk a backlash on Election Day. Now the poor, taxed-out city of Central Falls is mounting a test case, which other struggling governments may follow if it succeeds.

If Central Falls, a city of about 19,000, is able to reduce the benefits its retirees now get - something they will fight - it would not only unsettle the millions of public workers and retirees across the country, but also reshape the compact between governments and their workers. Most public workers now pay a portion of their salaries toward their pensions, but they may balk if they see those pensions can be cut when they retire. And governments that, like Central Falls, have not enrolled all their workers in Social Security as a money-saving measure may have to rethink that strategy.

Millions of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other government workers have long believed that their pensions were untouchable, thanks to provisions in state laws and constitutions. But some of those promises are unclear or untested, said Amy B. Monahan, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota law school who has studied the myriad laws protecting public pensions in different states.

Just how those promises would stack up against promises made to others, like bondholders, is unclear. It is also unclear how those state laws would hold up in federal bankruptcy court, which has its own ranking of creditors.

"This will all be up to a court to decide," Professor Monahan said.

But many cities and states have already signaled that their bondholders take priority.

When Jefferson County, Ala., was poised on the brink of bankruptcy this summer after defaulting on more than $3 billion of bonds to finance a new sewer system, the state moved to help. Alabama's new governor, Robert Bentley, proposed a plan to replace the defaulted bonds with new ones issued with state backing, which could lower the borrowing cost and avert what would otherwise be the biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Bondholders would forgive some of the debt they are owed.

Mr. Bentley's move contrasted with the lack of action by his predecessor two years ago when the city of Prichard's pension fund ran out of money and it simply stopped sending retirees their checks. Despite a state law saying that the pensions must be paid, no one in state government moved to enforce the law or propose a rescue plan.

"I'm a little ticked about it," said Mary Berg, 62, a retired assistant city clerk from Prichard, who said she had sent news accounts of the proposal to help Jefferson County to local officials, asking why the state had never helped her and her fellow retirees. "The state didn't even look at Prichard."

Teachers in New Jersey likewise got a cold shoulder when they tried to make the state comply with a law that it contribute a required amount to their pension fund each year. A judge ruled that their plan was not yet unsound, despite the state's failures to make the payments. The teachers, who argued that by the time the plan qualified as "unsound" it would have collapsed, lost on appeal last year. But the state always sets aside enough money to pay bondholders.

Illinois has some of the strongest bondholder protections anywhere, which explains how a state that began its fiscal year with $3.8 billion in unpaid bills from last year - and whose pension system has less than half of the money it needs - is able to keeping selling bonds.

State law requires Illinois to make "an irrevocable and continuing appropriation" of tax revenues into a special fund every month that can be used only to pay bondholders. Illinois's pension system claims to have a "continuous appropriation" too, but it does not have meaningful deadlines and has proved much more porous over the years.

The federal bankruptcy code says pensioners and general-obligation bondholders are both unsecured creditors, stuck at the back of the line and treated as equals. But there is maneuvering room in the welter of state and federal laws. After Vallejo, Calif., declared bankruptcy three years ago, it cut payments to bondholders, but let workers bear their loss in lower pay and skimpier retiree health benefits. Pensions were untouched.

In Central Falls, the pension plan for the police and firefighters is projected to run out of money in October. But officials there say short-changing the bondholders will not bring relief. The next time the city needs to borrow money, investors will simply demand more in interest, and they might decide all Rhode Islanders were a bad risk and charge all cities more.

"The last thing we want to do is increase borrowing costs for all our cities and towns, and therefore cause tax rates to go up across the state, because one city has fiscal problems," said Robert G. Flanders Jr., the state-appointed receiver for Central Falls, explaining the new state law putting bondholders first in line.

After going 20 months without their pension checks, the 141 retirees of Prichard decided a third of a loaf was better than nothing and settled with the city. Their average benefit, which had been $1,000 a month, is now about $350. But they also get Social Security. Ms. Berg, the retired clerk, said she worried about the retirees of Central Falls, many of whom do not.

"I can't imagine telling them that they have to take this 50 percent cut," she said. "These are retirees, elderly people. They can't go out and get new jobs."

Katie Zezima contributed reporting from Central Falls, R.I.


14) British Leader Seeks Public Housing Evictions for Rioters and Their Families
"As Britain begins to weigh the costs of the rioting of recent days and ponder measures to prevent a recurrence, the government of Prime Minister David Cameron put forward on Friday a new way of punishing the looters and vandals who rampaged through many of the country's cities and towns: kick them and their families out of their government-subsidized homes. If carried out on the scale Mr. Cameron and his ministers have proposed, the measure would probably be the most punitive of the sanctions that they have said would be considered in response to the worst civil disorder in a generation. More than 10 million Britons, about one in six, live in public housing."
August 12, 2011

LONDON - As Britain begins to weigh the costs of the rioting of recent days and ponder measures to prevent a recurrence, the government of Prime Minister David Cameron put forward on Friday a new way of punishing the looters and vandals who rampaged through many of the country's cities and towns: kick them and their families out of their government-subsidized homes.

If carried out on the scale Mr. Cameron and his ministers have proposed, the measure would probably be the most punitive of the sanctions that they have said would be considered in response to the worst civil disorder in a generation. More than 10 million Britons, about one in six, live in public housing.

Mr. Cameron took to the television studios on Friday, the third consecutive day of calm after the days of chaos that began last weekend, to broaden the "fightback" he has declared against the rioters, and against those who have argued that the blame should rest less with the rioters than with the abject social conditions in the neighborhoods from which many of them came.

He has described the rioting as "criminality, pure and simple," with no excuse in social deprivation, and laid out a controversial plan to make much broader use of existing powers to expel not only the rioters but also their families from the free or rent-subsidized accommodations that provide millions with cradle-to-grave homes.

"For too long we've taken too soft an attitude towards people that loot and pillage their own community," Mr. Cameron told a BBC interviewer. "If you do that, you should lose your right to the sort of housing that you've had at subsidized rates." He added that evictions "might help break up some of the criminal networks on some housing estates if some of these people are thrown out of their houses."

Asked whether that would render them homeless, he replied, "They should have thought of that before they started burgling."

The communities minister, Eric Pickles, a right-wing Conservative, was blunter still in another BBC appearance. Saying it was not time to "pussyfoot around" with the lawbreakers, he said he would begin a three-month consultation on ways to deal with what he called "riot tourism," focusing on scrapping a rule that allows for the eviction from subsidized housing of people who commit crimes in their own neighborhoods in favor of a broader measure that would allow for similar punishment wherever the offenses were committed.

Asked how those so penalized would live, Mr. Pickles responded, "They could get a job."

The proposals would reinforce other hard-line measures the prime minister has outlined. Sensing widespread public support for a harsh crackdown on the rioters and an expansion of police powers, Mr. Cameron has backed the "speedy justice" that has hastened hundreds of suspects through round-the-clock courts, some of them drawing stiff prison sentences for even minor cases of looting.

On Thursday, he told Parliament he was ready to order the army to take over guarding public buildings and other installations to free the police for antiriot deployments, and said the government would consider steps for the temporary shutdown of social networking services like BlackBerry Messenger that rioters used to mobilize on disparate urban areas, outpacing the ability of the police to respond.

Critics of the hard-line approach, including prominent figures in the opposition Labour Party, and perhaps more important, among the Liberal Democrats who are the Conservatives' partners in the coalition government, have said that much of what the prime minister and his associates are proposing is impractical, given the Conservatives' lack of a parliamentary majority and what they see as a British affinity for moderation.

"Removing people for unacceptable behavior from social housing does not solve the problem," Kevin Barron, a Labour legislator, said, since it would require local authorities to find alternative housing for evicted families.

But several Conservative-led local councils, in London, Nottingham and Salford, an outlying district of Manchester, have already said that they would start eviction proceedings against tenants convicted of rioting. And one, in Wandsworth, said it had started the process of evicting a woman whose teenage son was convicted in the rioting. A petition on a government Web site for a proposal to authorize public housing evictions drew more than 100,000 signatures within 48 hours. That number guaranteed that Parliament would have to debate the proposal.

The government has said it will maintain emergency policing levels in London through the weekend, and beyond if necessary. Some 16,000 police officers have been deployed in the capital, including reinforcements from police forces across the country. Similar precautions remained in place in cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool that were hit by marauding groups, about half of them teenagers, who looted, destroyed and set fire to thousands of homes, businesses and other properties.

There have been other signs that the country has moved beyond the shock of the upheaval to a new phase of reflection - and for some, recrimination - on the causes, the days it took to get the turmoil under control, and ways to guard against a recurrence.

One element was the cross-fire that broke out between the Cameron government and two of the country's top police officers. On Friday, they fell out noisily over who should take credit for sending thousands of police reinforcements into the riot areas of London and restoring order, and who should take the blame for the days of largely passive policing until then, which allowed the rioting to mushroom from a local disturbance in north London to a crisis across a wide area of England. Many of the riots' victims have complained about police officers in riot gear standing back, taking no action, while mobs pillaged their neighborhoods.

Mr. Cameron told Parliament on Thursday that police tactics had been inadequate when the rioting started in the north London area of Tottenham last Saturday. "There were simply far too few police deployed on to our streets, and the tactics they were using weren't working," he said.

Tim Godwin, the acting commissioner of Scotland Yard, struck back on Friday, saying, "I think after any event like this, people will always make comments who weren't there." He appeared to be referring to the fact that Mr. Cameron, Home Secretary Theresa May and Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, were all on overseas vacations when the riots broke out. Days later, they canceled their holidays and returned home.

Ms. May, the minister in charge of policing, claimed responsibility for ordering the police to flood the streets with officers. Mr. Godwin said deployments were the sole responsibility of the police, not the government.

Alan Cowell contributed reporting from Paris.


15) Italy Agrees on $65 Billion in Austerity Measures
August 12, 2011

ROME - Scrambling to fend off a sovereign debt crisis, the Italian government on Friday approved $65 billion in additional emergency austerity measures over the next two years, including tax increases and cuts to local government in an effort to balance the budget by 2013.

The government was responding to demands by the European Central Bank, which last week began buying Italian bonds, driving down Italy's borrowing costs. But it did so on the condition that Italy make significant changes, including liberalizing its labor market and closed professions, privatizing state industry and adjusting its pension system.

After an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced the new measures, which include raising the capital gains tax to 20 percent from 12.5 percent, except for government bonds; eliminating several nonreligious national holidays; and cracking down on businesses that do not give receipts.

"It wasn't easy," Mr. Berlusconi said, looking tired at a news conference on Friday evening, after days of round-the-clock negotiations over the normally quiet August holiday period. "We're personally pained to have to take these measures, but we are satisfied."

Facing intense market turbulence and rising borrowing costs, Mr. Berlusconi pledged last week that Italy would eliminate its budget deficit, from the 3.9 percent of gross domestic product it is projected to represent this year, to zero by 2013.

That would be a year earlier than originally planned in a $65 billion austerity package approved by Parliament in July, including tax increases and higher health care fees.

The new measures go into effect as soon as they are approved by the president of Italy, who is expected to sign off on them shortly. They must be approved by Parliament, which can also make modifications, within 60 days.

Market pressures have placed Mr. Berlusconi's increasingly weak government in a difficult position. With a public debt of 120 percent of gross domestic product, it has to cut spending and stimulate an economy that is expected to grow by only 1 percent this year.

The new measures also include a "solidarity tax" on high earners: an additional 5 percent tax on incomes above $128,000 a year and 10 percent on incomes above $213,000 a year for the next two years.

"Our heart bleeds to have to do this, we who bragged never to put our hands in the pockets of Italians," Mr. Berlusconi said. "But the world situation changed, and we found ourselves faced with the hugest global crisis ever."

In a concession to growing antipolitical sentiment in Italy, Mr. Berlusconi said the government would also cut $13.5 billion from local and regional governments.

It would do this in part by eliminating 54,000 elected positions in provincial, regional and city governments after the next round of local elections, and by cutting politicians' salaries and requiring members of Parliament to travel economy class.

Earlier on Friday, representatives of regional, provincial and city authorities gave a news conference criticizing the measures. Roberto Formigoni, the president of the Region of Lombardi, said that cuts to regional social welfare and transportation systems would have "a depressive effect" on the economy.

The government said the measures also include increased labor flexibility and some changes to Italy's pension system, but it did not go into greater detail.

Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti is expected to give a news conference on Saturday to elaborate on the measures.

In Italy, changes to the labor market have to be negotiated with business leaders, who have criticized the government's proposals as too little, too late, and labor unions, which have said they unfairly place the burden on middle- and lower-class Italians.


16) Along the Jersey Shore, a Struggle to Get to the Sand
August 12, 2011

SEA BRIGHT, N.J. - If you find the rare parking spot here, and climb one of the few public stairways over the seawall to a crowded patch of sand, you might notice a nearly empty expanse of beach nearby, beyond a "no trespassing" sign.

Step past the sign, and a young man might zoom up on an all-terrain vehicle to shoo you away, warning that this is the property of the Surfrider Beach Club. When questioned one recent afternoon, the young man said he knew nothing of the long-standing legal principle - and, more to the point, a 2009 court settlement - that appear to establish that the portion of beach he was patrolling is open to everyone.

Nearby, a group of friends who drove down for the day from Teaneck obeyed the sign, but it did not sit well. "Look at all that empty beach," Samantha Soler, 20, said. "It doesn't seem right."

This is summer at the Jersey Shore, a low-cost escape for millions of people from several states, most of them unaware that they have stepped into perennial conflicts over how they can use the beaches.

Many places welcome visitors and their business, but for generations, some property owners, neighborhoods and towns have tried to stem that tide with scarce or time-limited parking, claims of private ownership, bans on food and drinks, and paths to the sand that are few in number or disguised.

The wealthy Elberon section of Long Branch has plenty of beach access routes, but some can be hard to discern. One path from Garfield Terrace is fenced off, with a "residents only" sign, though people who know better ignore the sign and go through the gate.

Adams Street, a nearby cul-de-sac, reaches a dead end about 50 yards from the beach, and the remaining distance is landscaped, looking like private property. The shrubs nearly obscure a small blue sign, marking it as public access.

Long Branch agreed to the landscaping recently, to settle a lawsuit filed by Charles Kushner, a real estate developer who was a Democratic power broker before he was convicted in 2005 of witness tampering, tax evasion and making illegal campaign contributions. Mr. Kushner owns the properties on both sides of Adams Street, including a sprawling house, and had sought to take over the strip between them.

Vincent LePore, a local activist who questions the legality of the settlement, called it an example of "rich people getting what they want out of these towns."

Mr. Kushner did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Fights over outsiders using beaches are as traditional as saltwater taffy and concerts at the Stone Pony, but not at all limited to New Jersey.

On the Rockaways peninsula of Queens, for example, street parking is banned on summer weekends in some neighborhoods, making it nearly impossible for visitors to get to the public beach. In Malibu, Calif., the record impresario David Geffen fought for years to stop people from using a path that cut through his property, before relenting and opening the gate he had installed there.

New Jersey and many other coastal states recognize an ancient principle that a beach should be open to the public from the water's edge at least up to the "mean high-water line," a shifting boundary open to varied interpretations. Adding to the uncertainty, the State Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that above that line, the public may also use a stretch of dry sand whose width "will depend on the circumstances."

Even more contentious is what ability the public should have in gaining access to its sand, since most of the land between the open beach and the nearest street belongs to private homeowners who would just as soon not have their neighborhoods turn into a reality TV show.

The state and the Army Corps of Engineers have said that beaches they have replenished, like ones at Sea Bright, Long Beach and Long Branch, should have public access at least every half mile. But in Sea Bright and some other towns, there are longer stretches where private properties form an uninterrupted barrier, and even where there is access, restrictive parking rules and questionable signage often keeps people away.

Some towns even barred nonresidents from their beaches, until the courts struck that down in the 1980s. And a few years ago, it looked as if things had swung decisively in favor of shore users over shore dwellers.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine's administration required access points every quarter-mile, and more parking, bathrooms and showers. But the State Supreme Court struck down parts of that policy, and Gov. Chris Christie's administration said this year that it planned to maintain something like the status quo, giving municipalities ample leeway to set their own rules.

The skirmishes have an element of class resentment; the surfing, angling and other groups that fight for access say that the least welcoming places are in towns like Sea Bright and Deal, where multimillion-dollar homes and private clubs dominate the shoreline. At the other extreme are lower-income towns like Asbury Park and Seaside Heights, which embrace inlanders who fuel their economies.

In a few towns, "the officials or the wealthy residents, or both, want to act like they have private beaches," said John Weber, Northeast regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation, which has no connection to the beach club.

A few towns, like Long Branch and Long Beach, have split personalities - very accommodating in commercial areas, but not in residential neighborhoods.

Adam Schneider, the mayor of Long Branch for 21 years, said he was committed to public beach rights, but dismissed the idea of treating "an exclusively residential neighborhood that also happens to be an exclusive neighborhood" the same as a town center filled with shops and restaurants.

"We're never going to satisfy all the fishermen, the surfers, the gadflies," he said, "and I'm O.K. with that."

In the residential Loveladies section of Long Beach Township, an outsider finds few places to park and fewer ways to reach the beach. The state's map of access points shows one gap of more than two-thirds of a mile. Some entrances shown on the map have "private drive" signs, or bushes obscuring the routes.

Town officials say that with no businesses there, and plenty of access and amenities in the center of Long Beach, outsiders have little reason to visit that beach, anyway.

In Sea Bright, private clubs occupy much of the beachfront. Two years ago, those clubs settled a suit filed by the state, acknowledging the public's right to use 60 percent of the beach, up to a maximum 150 feet inland from the high-tide line.

Beach users say the Surfrider Club, which posted the no-trespassing signs this year, has been the most aggressive about keeping people away. Calls to the club's owner, James LoBiondo, were not returned.

"Those signs don't look right to me, I don't like them and they've created a lot of hard feelings, but I don't know that there's anything we can do about it," said Dina Long, who leads the Borough Council's beach committee.

Ms. Long called the half-mile standard good in principle but unrealistic in practice, as it would require the town to do extensive financial and legal wrangling with property owners. She conceded that public parking is inadequate - the clubs have their own lots - but said there were few alternatives on a peninsula barely a block wide in places.

On the northern shore, all towns charge for use of some or all beaches - as little as $4 for a day pass, and in some places, less than $30 for the season.

Deal, an affluent borough in Monmouth County, charges the state's highest season pass fee, $125, and while its day pass is just $5, parking restrictions keep day trippers away. Mantoloking, where parking is scarce, charges $12 for a season's pass, and does not offer a day pass, so it effectively has both the cheapest seasonal rate and the most expensive day rate.

"A place like Deal makes it really clear they don't want you there," said Ray Menell, a member of the Asbury Park Fishing Club.

Borough officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Mr. Schneider, the Long Branch mayor, said that without a state standard, some towns would go too far in keeping people out, but that a one-size-fits-all rule was unworkable.

"It's a tough balance," he said. "This fight is not going away. It'll never end."


17) Shell and Authorities Silent on North Sea Oil Leak
August 13, 2011

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc was silent on Saturday on the status of an oil leak of unspecified size in the North Sea and authorities said they also had no information on whether the leak had yet been stemmed, provoking environmentalists ire.

The Anglo Dutch oil major said on Friday that it had discovered the leak from a flow line at its Gannet Alpha Platform and said then it was working to stem the flow.

The company declined to comment on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said it had no information on the status of the clean up operation, and that none of its staff were at the spill site.

A spokeswoman for the Department for energy of Climate Change said it was not involved and referred questions to Shell.

Environmental group Greenpeace complained about the lack of information on the leak.

"Right now we don't know how serious this is, what we do know is that the North Sea is supposed to be ultra-safe, we're told spills can't happen there," oil campaigner Ben Ayliffe said in an emailed statement.

Shell said on Friday that one of the wells at the Gannet oil-field, 180km (112 miles) east of Aberdeen, had been closed but declined to say if output was reduced.

According to Argus Media, the Gannet field produced about 13,500 barrels of oil in January-April. The field is co-owned with U.S. major Exxon and operated by Shell.

A document available from Shell's website says the Gannet facilities have capacity to export 88,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

(Reporting by Tom Bergin; editing by Patrick Graham)


18) To defuse 'flash' protest, BART cuts riders' cell service. Is that legal?
To forestall a planned protest, Bay Area Rapid Transit turned off cellphone service, angering passengers and raising questions about First Amendment rights in an age of social media protests.
By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer
August 12, 2011


The decision by Bay Area Rapid Transit officials to cut off cellphone service Thursday evening - to forestall a planned protest - raises a fundamental question: Do Americans have a basic right to digital free speech or to digitally organized assembly?

Because July protests against BART police shootings had turned violent, BART officials took the unusual step to protect public safety, they said. The tactic may have worked: No protests took place Thursday night at BART stations.

Temporarily shutting down cell service and beefing up police patrols were "great tool[s] to utilize for this specific purpose," BART police Lt. Andy Alkire told Bay City News Friday. The protests, planned for sometime between 4 and 8 p.m. in transit stations, would likely have disrupted service for many of the 341,000 daily BART passengers.

This may be the first time a government agency in the United States has ever deliberately disrupted cellphone service to defang planned protests, criminologist Casey Jordan told CNN. "I haven't been able to find another incident in which this has happened," she told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux Friday.