Saturday, December 17, 2011


December 14, 2011

Greetings all,

Just verified with Superintendent John Kerestes that Mumia Abu-Jamal is being held in Administrative Custody at SCI Mahanoy, Frackville, PA until he is cleared to enter general population within a few days.

We need phone calls to the institution to let them know that the WORLD is watching Mumia's movements and ask general questions so that they know that nothing they are doing is happening under cover of darkness.

Please also send cards and letters to Mumia at the new address so that he begins receiving mail immediately and it is known to all of the people there that we are with him!

PHONE NUMBER: 570-773-2158


Mumia Abu-Jamal, #AM8335
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932

CURRENT VISITORS on Mumia's list will allegedly be OK'd to visit once their names are entered into the computer at Frackville. NEW VISITORS will have to receive the pertinent forms directly from Mumia.




Nuclear Detonation Timeline "1945-1998"

The 2053 nuclear tests and explosions that took place between 1945 and 1998 are plotted visually and audibly on a world map.


Lifting the Veil
Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. --HELEN KELLER

Suggested slogan for the 2012 elections:


Keep Wall Street Occupied (Part 1)


We Are the 99 Percent

We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

Brought to you by the people who occupy wall street. Why will YOU occupy?


Drop All Charges on the 'Occupy Wall Street' Arrestees!
Stop Police Attacks & Arrests! Support 'Occupy Wall Street'!

SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION AT: to send email messages to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYC City Council, NYPD, the NY Congressional Delegation, Congressional Leaders, the NY Legislature, President Obama, Attorney General Holder, members of the media YOU WANT ALL CHARGES DROPPED ON THE 'OCCUPY WALL STREET ARRESTEES!


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Saturday, December 17, 2011, 3:00pm
Bradley Manning Plaza (formerly Justin Herman Plaza)
Market and Steuart Streets, San Francisco, CA

Dear Friend, please join us in San Francisco this Saturday, December 17th, to march and rally against war and in support of Bradley Manning on his 24th birthday. This event is called for by Occupy SF, Courage to Resist, Iraq Veterans Against the War & Veterans for Peace.

Coinciding with the Bradley Manning pretrial hearing at Ft. Meade MD, the three month anniversary of the Occupy movement and one year since the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia which launched the Arab Spring.

Bradley Manning, a openly gay US Army Intelligence analyst, is facing life in prison. He is accused of sharing the following with WikiLeaks: a video of the killing of civilians by a US helicopter in Iraq, and revealing Us diplomatic cables. In short, he's been charged with telling us the truth about controversial wars, foreign policies and corporate and government corruption and tyranny.

The United States Army scheduled an Article 32 pretrial hearing for PFC Bradley Manning which will commence this Friday December 16 at Fort Meade, Maryland. This will be PFC Manning's first appearance before a court and the first time he will face his accusers after 17 months in confinement. Supporters will be present outside Fort Meade when he arrives on December 16th, and as part of a day of action on his 24th birthday December 17th.

Please join Occupy SF in a solidarity rally and march in San Francisco, CA this Saturday at 3 pm.

Solidarity with Bradley Manning, the Arab World & the 99%!


484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610

Saturday, December 17, 12:00 P.M., Fort Meade, Md
Army sets pre-trial hearing date for Bradley. Vigils and rallies planned at Fort Meade MD, worldwide.

Protest his Pretrial Hearing Saturday, Dec 17th (Bradley's B-Day) at 12pm at Fort Meade, MD outside Washington D.C.! (Solidarity actions taking place around the world.)


January 1st 2012 March and Speak-Out in memory
of Oscar Grant and all victims of police terror

*********OGC REPORT*********

On Sunday, November 27, 2011 the Occupy Oakland General Assembly approved by 99% the proposal below for a January 1st 2012 March and Speak-Out in memory of Oscar Grant and all victims of police terror. The working group will have its first meeting on Wednesday November 30th at 8:00 p.m. at San Francisco Pizza, 1500 Broadway, Oakland. *Please join us!!!*

PROPOSAL * The Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality and State Repression, Bring the Ruckus, and the Raider Nation Collective propose that the Occupy Oakland General Assembly support, participate in, and help to organize a march and Speak Out on January 1, 2012 from Oscar Grant Plaza to the Fruitvale BART station to memorialize and protest the BART Police murder of fellow worker Oscar Grant and all victims of police violence and state terrorism.

By approving this proposal, the assembly will be mandated to form a working group set with the task of mobilizing a broad section of working class people from East, West, and North Oakland by the way of hand-to-hand flyering, canvassing neighborhoods, and having conversations that prioritize the struggles against police brutality, police profiling, and imprisonment.

We are also asking this Assembly to stand up, through this proposed Speak Out, against the Oakland Police Department's daily violent, repression of working class, low-income of communities of color through curfews, gang injunctions and loitering laws, in addition to outright murder by police.



Palestinian human rights activist OMAR BARGHOUTI

Speaking on

"Occupy Wall Street not Palestine! BDS and the Global Struggle for Justice & Freedom in Palestine"

First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway

Booksigning of Barghouti's book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights follows the program

Presented by the Middle East Children's Alliance & CODEPINK
Benefit for MECA's Maia Project: Clean Water for Children in Gaza. Wheelchair accessible, ASL interpreted.

Event includes Special Guests!

Buy Your Tickets Now!
Tickets $10, no one turned away for lack of funds -For info: 510-548-0542,

Cosponsored by: KPFA, Al-Awda, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, US Palestinian Community Network, Northern California Friends of Sabeel, Global Exchange, US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Bay Area Women in Black, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

Leena Al-Arian
Program and Communications Coordinator
Middle East Children's Alliance
1101 8th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710


It's Time to "Occupy the Dream:" African-American Faith Community Joins Forces with Occupy Wall Street - First Day of Action on MLK Day, Jan 16 at Federal Reserve Banks

December 15, 2011 in Chicago, DC, Direct Action, Discrimination, Federal Reserve, Liberty Park, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minnesota, OccupyTogether, Philadelphia, Richmond, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis, Video

Members of the African-American faith community have joined forces with Occupy Wall Street to launch a new campaign for economic justice inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Faithful to its philosophical origin, the "Occupy the Dream" coalition has called for a National Day of Action on Martin Luther King Day - Monday, January 16, 2012 - when they will "Occupy the Federal Reserve," in multiple cities nationwide, focusing attention on the gross injustice visited upon the 99% by the financial elite. This will be the first of many actions leading up to a mass gathering in Washington D.C., to be held April 4 - 7, when millions will unite in celebration of the life and legacy of Dr King.

In support of this effort, has created this inspiring video:!/media/oici4d

The Occupy the Dream coalition was launched by a contemporary of Dr. King - Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. - and Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant of the Empowerment Temple Church, in partnership with Occupy Wall Street organizers. The following statement in support of the Occupy the Dream coalition was prepared by over 30 Occupy Wall Street organizers and read at the National Press Club in Washington, DC:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for social and economic justice with a deep moral commitment to non-violent civil disobedience. His legacy inspires many of us on the front lines of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Nearly fifty years since hundreds of thousands of people marched with Dr. King and filled the nation's capital, the dream that inspired our nation remains unfulfilled. As shocking as it is to believe, there is a more severe inequality of wealth in the United States today than there was back then. More Americans are living in poverty today than when Dr. King organized the Poor People's Campaign.

While the rich have grown richer, tens of millions of Americans have been exploited and left behind. In a time of great wealth and technological advancement, American families are desperately struggling to get by and to make ends meet.

Our political, economic, and legal systems have become wholly corrupted through a system of political bribery. Through campaign finance, lobbying, and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, our wealth has been consolidated into the hands of the few at the expense and suffering of the many.

Many of our brothers and sisters lead lives dominated by fear. Fear of losing a home. Fear of losing a job. Fear of losing medical coverage. Fear of losing the ability to provide food for our families. And for far too many, these fears have already become a reality.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is about people coming together to say "enough is enough." Our families have endured economic oppression for too long. The Occupy Wall Street movement draws its strength from people of all different walks of life, with opinions across the political spectrum, coming together to find common ground and unite against the global financial interests that have bought control of our government.

Dr. King's vision of economic justice is an edifying example of what we intend to achieve. The Occupy movement has become a powerful force by occupying communities throughout the country. The time has now come for us to embody the spirit of Dr. King and for us to "Occupy the Dream."

We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the African-American Faith community in this campaign for economic fairness and justice. We are all in this fight together. We all want a healthy and secure future for our families. In the absence of a government that will defend and represent us, we are now taking it upon ourselves to stand up and defend our own families.

It is a great honor today to join with the spirit of Dr. King, to join with heroes of the civil rights movement, luminaries of the faith community, pioneers in music and all of you in attendance.

It is a great honor today to announce the birth of the "Occupy the Dream" movement.

Social Media Accounts

Twitter: @OccupyDreamOWS

Facebook: Occupy the Dream

For more information visit


UNAC Conference: March 23-25, 2012

The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) conference originally scheduled for November, 11-13, 2011, has been rescheduled for March 23-25, 2012, in order to tie in to organizing efforts for building massive protests at the NATO/G-8 Summits in Chicago, May 15-22, and to have sufficient time to generate an action program for the next stage of building a mass movement for social change.

Organizations are invited to endorse this conference by clicking here:

Donations are needed for bringing international speakers and to subsidize attendance of students and low income participants. Contributions will be accepted at

For the initial conference flyer, click here:

Click here to donate to UNAC:

Click here for the Facebook UNAC group:


NATO/G8 protests in Chicago.
United National Antiwar Committee or UNAC at P.O. Box 123, Delmar, NY 12054

UNAC, along with other organizations and activists, has formed a coalition to help organize protests in Chicago during the week of May 15 - 22 while NATO and G8 are holding their summit meetings. The new coalition was formed at a meeting of 163 people representing 73 different organization in Chicago on August 28 and is called Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda (CANGATE). For a report on the Chicago meeting, click here:

To add your email to the new CANGATE listserve, send an email to:

To have your organization endorse the NATO/G8 protest, please click here:

Click here to hear audio of the August 28 meeting:

Click here for the talk by Marilyn Levin, UNAC co-coordinator at the August 28 meeting:

Click here for Pat Hunts welcome to the meeting and Joe Iosbaker's remarks:

NATO and the G8 Represent the 1%.

In May, they will meet in Chicago. Their agenda is war on poor nations, war on the poor and working people - war on the 99%.

We are demanding the right to march on their summit, to say:
Jobs, Healthcare, Education, Pensions, Housing and the Environment, Not War!

No to NATO/G-8 Warmakers!

No to War and Austerity!

NATO's military expenditures come at the expense of funding for education, housing and jobs programs; and the G8 continues to advance an agenda of 'austerity' that includes bailouts, tax write-offs and tax holidays for big corporations and banks at the expense of the rest of us.

During the May 2012 G8 and NATO summits in Chicago, many thousands of people will want to exercise their right to protest against NATO's wars and against the G8 agenda to only serve the richest one percent of society. We need permits to ensure that all who want to raise their voices will be able to march.

Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel has stonewalled repeated attempts by community organizers to meet with the city to discuss reasonable accommodations of protesters' rights. They have finally agreed to meet with us, but we need support: from the Occupy movement, the anti-war movement, and all movements for justice.

Our demands are simple:

That the City publicly commit to provide protest organizers with permits that meet the court- sanctioned standard for such protests -- that we be "within sight and sound" of the summits; and

That representatives of the City, including Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, refrain from making threats against protesters.

The protest movement, Occupy Wall Street (OWS), has the support of a majority of the American people. This is because people are suffering from the economic crisis brought about by Wall Street and big banks. As the OWS movement describes it, the "99%" see extreme economic inequality, where millions are unemployed without significant help while bankers in trouble get bailed out.

In Chicago and around the country, the Occupy movement is being met with repression: hundreds have been arrested, beaten, tear gassed, spied on, and refused their right to protest.

The Chicago Police Department and the Mayor have already acknowledged that they are coming down hard on the Occupy movement here to send a message to those who would protest against NATO and the G8.

We need a response that is loud and clear: we have the right to march against the generals and the bankers. We have the right to demand an end to wars, military occupations, and attacks on working people and the poor.

How you can help:

1) Sign the petition to the City of Chicago at You can also make a contribution there.

2) Write a statement supporting the right to march and send it to us

3) To endorse the protests, go to or write to

4) Print out and distribute copies of this statement, attached along with a list of supporters of our demands for permits.

4) And then march inChicago on May 15th and May 19th. Publicizethe protests. Join us!

Formore info: or email us at


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



Charlie Chaplin final speech in "The Great Dictator"

I'm sorry but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others' happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men's souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.

Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say "Do not despair." The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder! Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men---machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it's written "the kingdom of God is within man", not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.

Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness.
Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!


ILWU Local 10 Longshore Workers Speak-Out At Oakland Port Shutdown

Uploaded by laborvideo on Dec 13, 2011

ILWU Local 10 longshore workers speak out during a blockade of the Port of Oakland called for by Occupy Oakland. Anthony Levieges and Clarence Thomas rank and file members of the union. The action took place on December 12, 2011 and the interview took place at Pier 30 on the Oakland docks.
For more information on the ILWU Local 21 Longview EGT struggle go to
For further info on the action and the press conferernce go to:
Production of Labor Video Project


Lifting the Veil
"Our democracy is but a name...We choose between Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee" --Helen Keller, 1911

"It is naive to expect the initiative for reform of the state to issue from the political process that serves theinterests of political capitalism. This structure can only be reduced if citizens withdraw and direct their energies and civic commitment to finding new life forms...The old citizenship must be replaced by a fuller and wider notion of being whose politicalness will be expressed not in one or two modes of actibity--voting or protesting--but in many." --Sheldon Wolin

This film explores the historical role of the Democratic Party as the graveyard of social movements, the massive influence of corporate finance in elections, the absurd disparities of wealth in the United States, the continuity and escalation of neocon policies under Obama, the insufficiency of mere voting as a path to reform, and differing conceptions of democracy itself.

Lifting the Veil is the long overdue film that powerfully, definitively, and finally exposes the deadly 21st century hypocrisy of U.S. internal and external policies, even as it imbues the viewer with a sense of urgency and an actualized hope to bring about real systemic change while there is yet time for humanity and this planet.

Noble is brilliantly pioneering the new film-making - incisive analysis, compelling sound and footage, fearless and independent reporting, and the aggregation of the best information out there into powerful, educational and free online feature films - all on a shoestring budget.

Viewer discretion advised - Video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war.

Lifting the Veil from S DN on Vimeo.


Frida Kahlo Diego Rivera y Trotsky Video Original


Toronto Emergency Public Warning


Tom Morello Occupy LA
Uploaded by sandrineora on Dec 3, 2011

The Nightwatchman, Tom Morello, comes to lift the spirits of Occupy LA the evening after the raid on November 29, 2011.


UC Davis Police Violence Adds Fuel to Fire
By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News
19 November 11

UC Davis Protestors Pepper Sprayed


Police pepper spraying and arresting students at UC Davis


UC Davis Chancellor Katehi walks to her car!

Occupy Seattle - 84 Year Old Woman Dorli Rainey Pepper Sprayed




Occupy With Aloha -- Makana -- The Story

We Are The Many -- Makana -- The Song

We Are The Many
Lyrics and Music by Makana
Makana Music LLC (c) 2011

Download song for free here:


Rafeef Ziadah - 'Shades of anger', London, 12.11.11


News: Massive anti-nuclear demonstration in Fukuoka Nov. 12, 2011


Shot by police with rubber bullet at Occupy Oakland


Copwatch@Occupy Oakland: Beware of Police Infiltrators and Provocateurs


Occupy Oakland 11-2 Strike: Police Tear Gas, Black Bloc, War in the Streets


Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers:

POLICE STATE Criminal Cops EXPOSED As Agent Provocateurs @ SPP Protest


Quebec police admit going undercover at montebello protests

G20: Epic Undercover Police Fail



Occupy Oakland Protest

Cops make mass arrests at occupy Oakland

Raw Video: Protesters Clash With Oakland Police

Occupy Oakland - Flashbangs USED on protesters OPD LIES

KTVU TV Video of Police violence

Marine Vet wounded, tear gas & flash-bang grenades thrown in downtown Oakland

Tear Gas billowing through 14th & Broadway in Downtown Oakland

Arrests at Occupy Atlanta -- This is what a police state looks like


Labor Beat: Hey You Billionaire, Pay Your Fair Share


Voices of Occupy Boston 2011 - Kwame Somburu (Paul Boutelle) Part I

Voices of Occupy Boston 2011 - Kwame Somburu (Paul Boutelle) Part II


#Occupy Wall Street In Washington Square: Mohammed Ezzeldin, former occupier of Egypt's Tahrir Square Speaks at Washington Square!


#OccupyTheHood, Occupy Wall Street
By adele pham

@OccupyTheHood, Occupy Wall Street from adele pham on Vimeo.


Live arrest at brooklyn bridge #occupywallstreet by We are Change



Free Them


The Preacher and the Slave - Joe Hill


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


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



I received the following reply from the White House November 18, 2011 regarding the Bradley Manning petition I signed:

"Why We Can't Comment on Bradley Manning

"Thank you for signing the petition 'Free PFC Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistleblower.' We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on

The We the People Terms of Participation explain that 'the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government.' The military justice system is charged with enforcing the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Accordingly, the White House declines to comment on the specific case raised in this petition...

"This email was sent to
Manage Subscriptions for
Sign Up for Updates from the White House
Unsubscribe | Privacy Policy
Please do not reply to this email. Contact the White House

"The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Washington, DC 20500 • 202-456-1111"

That's funny! I guess Obama didn't get this memo. Here's what Obama said about Bradley:


"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:


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


Julian Assange: Why the world needs WikiLeaks


Coal Ash: One Valley's Tale





The Petition

To President Obama and Secretary Clinton:

At no time since the Iranian people rose up against the hated U.S-installed Shah has a U.S./Israeli military attack against Iran seemed more possible. Following three decades of unrelenting hostility, the last few months have seen a steady escalation of charges, threats, sanctions and actual preparations for an attack.

We, the undersigned demand No War, No Sanctions, no Internal Interference in Iran.

(For a complete analysis of the prospects of war, click here)


"A Child's View from Gaza: Palestinian Children's Art and the Fight Against Censorship" book

A Child's View from GazaA collection of drawings by children in the Gaza Strip, art that was censored by a museum in Oakland, California.

With a special forward by Alice Walker, this beautiful, full-color 80-page book from Pacific View Press features drawings by children like Asil, a ten-year-old girl from Rafah refugee camp, who drew a picture of herself in jail, with Arabic phrases in the spaces between the bars: "I have a right to live in peace," "I have a right to live this life," and "I have a right to play."

For international or bulk orders, please email:, or call: 510-548-0542

A Child's View from Gaza: Palestinian Children's Art and the Fight Against Censorship [ISBN: 978-1-881896-35-7]


It's time to tell the White House that "We the People" support PFC Bradley Manning's freedom and the UN's investigation into alleged torture in Quantico, VA

We petition the obama administration to:
Free PFC Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistleblower.!/petition/free-pfc-bradley-manning-accused-wikileaks-whistleblower/kX1GJKsD?


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.


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




Write to Bradley

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

"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

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.


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

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

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

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

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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


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


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.



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):


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!


D. ARTICLES IN FULL (Unless otherwise noted)


1) Bradley Manning
Accused WikiLeaker defense argues Obama must testify
Legal team for Army PFC Bradley Manning fights for fair deal at pre-trial "Article 32" hearing, supporters rally
By Jeff Paterson
December 12, 2011

2) Newburgh Four: poor, black, and jailed under FBI 'entrapment' tactics
In June, four men [James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen] were jailed for 25 years over a US terror plot. The FBI painted them as dedicated fanatics, but were they lured by the promise of cash from a fake informant?
Paul Harris in New York
December 12, 2011

3) Capitalism Is the Enemy of Democracracy
by: David Kristjanson-Gural, Truthout | Op-Ed
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

4) Chicago mayor confronted with demand for permits to march on NATO/G8 summit
By Staff |
December 13, 2011!%20News%20Service&utm_campaign=a1b0a2c90f-UA-743468-8&utm_medium=email

5) Chinese Village Locked in Rebellion Against Authorities
December 14, 2011

6) Marijuana Use Growing Among Teenagers
December 14, 2011, 10:00 am

7) Aid for Child Care Drops When It Is Needed Most
December 13, 2011

8) With Port Actions, Occupy Oakland Tests Labor Leaders
"'The Occupy movement is a union for the 99 percent, and certainly for the 89 percent of working people who are not in unions,' said Barucha Peller, 28, an unemployed writer who helped plan and rally support for the port shutdown."
December 13, 2011

9) Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq
December 14, 2011

10) An Open Letter from America's Port Truck Drivers on Occupy the Ports
Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports
December 12, 2011

11) U.S. War in Iraq Declared Officially Over
December 15, 2011

12) Occupy Wall Street Protesters Report to Court
December 14, 2011

13) Occupy and the Tasks of Socialists
By Pham Binh
Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist, December 14, 2011

14) What Must Be Done Next
A Presentation by Nat Weinstein to the Editorial Committee of Socialist Viewpoint, November 7, 2011

15) Death Toll Rises From Clashes in Cairo
December 17, 2011

16) Occupy the Food System
By Willie Nelson, Reader Supported News
December 17, 2011

17) Indian Point: The Next Fukushima?
December 16, 2011

18) Request for Recusal Denied in Case Against Manning
December 17, 2011

19) Supreme Court Grants Assange Right to Appeal
December 16, 2011

20) At Least 10 Die as Police Clash With Strikers in Kazakhstan
December 16, 2011

21) Revolt Begins Like Others, but Its End Is Less Certain
December 16, 2011

22) As Permafrost Thaws, Scientists Study the Risks
December 16, 2011

23) California: Judge Rejects Lethal Injection Protocol
December 17, 2011

24) Occupy Group Faults Church, a Onetime Ally
December 16, 2011

25) Libya’s Civilian Toll, Denied by NATO
December 17, 2011


1) Bradley Manning
Accused WikiLeaker defense argues Obama must testify
Legal team for Army PFC Bradley Manning fights for fair deal at pre-trial "Article 32" hearing, supporters rally
By Jeff Paterson
December 12, 2011

Lead lawyer for accused WiliLeaks whistle-blower US Army PFC Bradley Manning, attorney David Coombs released the defense's witness list for his pre-trial hearing, known as an "Article 32" hearing in military lingo, last week. On December 16th, PFC Manning may finally get his first day in court following his arrest in May 2010. The pre-trial phase is scheduled to begin at Fort Meade, just northeast of Washington DC, and last through December 22nd. The witness list represents an expansive range of 48 witnesses that offer significant insight into the brewing legal battle.

PFC Manning, a 23-year-old Army intelligence analyst, is accused of blowing the whistle on the "Collateral Murder" video of a US helicopter attack that killed a dozen unarmed Iraqis, the "Iraq War Logs", the "Afghan Diaries", the "Gitmo Files", and a trove of embarrassing US State Department cables by providing these files to the WikiLeaks website. In short, he is being charged with telling us the truth.

The actual charges are "various offenses under Article 92 and Article 134" of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, noted Mr. Coombs in last week's court filling. "The offenses deal with the incorporation, under Article 134, of the Espionage Statute 18 U.S.C 793(e)," along with property and computer fraud statutes. According to the Army, PFC Manning faces "confinement for life", followed by a dishonorable discharge.

The most significant witnesses listed are President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Two health care professionals on staff at the Quantico Marine Brig--where PFC Manning was subjected to torturous conditions for nine months--are also noteworthy.

President Obama's unlawful declarations and commitment to transparency questioned

The headline witness requested by the defense is President Barack Obama. While all witness names were redacted, the identity of witness #36 is not in question. The court document reads:

The defense requests the presence of --- in order to discuss the issue of Unlawful Command Influence (UCI)... Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), a superior officer in the chain of command is prohibited from saying or doing anything that could influence any decision by a subordinate in how to handle a military justice matter. As the --- made improper comments on 21 April 2011, when he decided to comment on PFC Manning and his case. On that date, he responded to questions regarding PFC Manning's alleged actions by concluding that "We're a nation of laws. We don't let individuals make their own decision about how the laws operate. He [PFC Manning] broke the law." The comments by --- are UCI. The defense intends to question --- on the nature of his discussions with members of the military regarding this case and whether he has made any other statements that would either influence the prosecution of this case or PFC Manning's right to a fair trial.

Dear Mr. President: Free Bradley Manning!

In addition to President Obama's views of the release of Afghanistan related documents by WikiLeaks, the defense believes Obama will:

Testify about the problem of over-classification within the government. Specifically, that he supported and signed into law the Reducing Over-Classification Act on 7 October 2010. Additionally, he will testify that on his first full day in office, 21 January 2009, he issued two memoranda for the head of Executive Departments and Agencies that were related to transparency in government. The first memorandum focused on the administration of the Freedom of information Act (FOIA), and the second focused on transparency and open government. --- will testify that the transparency memorandum he wrote committed the administration to "an unprecedented level of openness" and to the establishment of a "a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration."...

Another easily identifiable witness is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, #38 in the court document. Secretary Clinton will "testify that although the leaks were embarrassing for the administration, that she concurs...that they did not represent significant consequences to foreign policy."

Witness #37 appears to be former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The defense expects that he will:

Testify that the Afghanistan and Iraq SIGACT releases [by WikiLeaks] did not reveal any sensitive intelligence sources or methods. He will also testify that the Department of Defense could not point to anyone in Afghanistan or Iraq harmed due to the documents released by WikiLeaks... --- will also testify that the initial public descriptions of the harm to foreign policy due to the publication of diplomatic cables were "fairly significantly overwrought." He will also testify that although the disclosures were embarrassing and awkward, they did not represent significant consequences to foreign policy.

These requests represent an aggressive attempt by PFC Manning's legal team to get at the heart of the issues at play in this continuing persecution: Government transparency or the lack there of, and the over-classification of documents for no legitimate security purposes.

Historic whistle-blower a hero despite challenges of adjusting to military life

Of the witnesses requested, about a dozen are expected to address their opinions that PFC Manning was a "marginal soldier" with "behavioral issues" related to military life. Examples include statements such as "PFC Manning...was not receptive to commands" and "PFC Manning wanted to be a good soldier, but naturally was not good at the basic soldier skills." PFC Manning was seeking assistance from the Army's "Combat Stress" mental health services and "appeared to be under a considerable amount of stress." PFC Manning had been demoted for striking an officer.

These witnesses paint a picture of a young man who had difficulty adjusting to life in the Army. Witness #33, a soldier who served with PFC Manning in Iraq, notes "Others would make fun of PFC Manning's size and the fact that they believed he was gay... The Army was not a good fit for him based upon where he was at in his life."

A few witnesses would note that PFC Manning probably should have been separated from the Army, or at least given a less sensitive job, but was deployed to Iraq due to "manpower issues".

Over the last week, many in the media have used these dozen or so witness descriptions to minimize PFC Manning's agency in his alleged release of documents that have concretely contributed to democracy movements, government transparency, and a hastened withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Instead, headlines such as "Defense team to highlight suspect's fragile mental state," have carried the day.

However, even among witnesses who can speak to PFC Manning's shortcomings as a soldier, there are things to be learned. Witness #31, a fellow soldier will:

Testify that he believes that PFC Manning used to be a very happy and very hyper individual, but his [Army] leadership wore him down. He will state that PFC Manning was upset that no one cared about the mission... PFC Manning found a report that apparently upset him... Iraqis or possibly some Moroccans were being arrested at a printing press facility... He will testify that PFC Manning was very upset about the issue. He will testify that if there was a moment in which PFC Manning may have snapped, this would have been it. --- will testify that everyone stonewalled PFC Manning on the issue as no one thought it was a big deal. He will testify that the translation [of the report] indicated that the individuals being arrested had printed documents that were questioning where the Iraqi government was embezzling public funds.

Another fellow soldier, witness #34, recommended that:

PFC Manning not deploy due to his emotional issues. She will testify that she believes that she was the first in the T-SCIF [intelligence office] to see the "Apache video" [released by WikiLeaks with the title "Collateral Murder"] which she found of her own accord... --- will testify that over the next few days, several of the T-SCIF personnel debated about whether the video showed a camera or a rocket propelled Grenade (RPG) launder and whether the action of the Apache crew were appropriate under the circumstances. --- will testify about her time as PFC Manning's direct supervisor and her multiple observations... that indicated to her PFC Manning was struggling both emotionally and mentally.

Many of the millions of people worldwide who have viewed the "Collateral Murder" video since its release by WikiLeaks "struggled emotionally and mentally" with the graphic depiction of a dozen Iraqis being ripped apart, including two Reuters journalists, by an unseen US helicopter. The video includes a scene of US forces then killing the ambulance van driver who tried to aid survivors, in the process severely wounding his two small children. These scenes are traumatic. One of the soldiers who offered assistance to those children, Spc. Ethan McCord, has noted that those types of incidents are quite common. It simply isn't accurate for members of the media to suggest that soldiers who experience normal responses to traumatic situations involving potential war crimes can only be suffering from a "fragile mental state."

A comprehensive review of the witness list shows that most are expected to testify, not to PFC Manning's behavioral issues, but to the merits of the case against him and the standard practices of the unit to which he was attached. Witnesses 1 through 9 are law enforcement agents connected to the prosecutions efforts, witnesses 20 through 23 will speak to unit level supervision, and witnesses 31 through 45 cover a wide range of background issues, including the impact of the wiki-leaked documents, and under what rationale they were classified in the first place. The latter group includes President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Robert Gates.

Military court martials

After reading some of the recent press accounts regarding this witness list, some have mistakenly concluded that the defense's legal strategy amounts to, "please have pity on him, he's crazy." Yet why would Mr. Coombs include these witnesses?

A military court martial is similar to a civilian trial, but there some significant differences. A court martial is conducted in two separate phases-a guilt phase and a punishment phase. There is no delay between the two phases. A defendant could be found guilty in the first phase, and yet be sentenced to no punishment at the conclusion of second phase-albeit very unlikely.

During the guilt phase, military judges are often very narrow regarding what defense evidence they will allow the jury of career military officers and senior enlisted members to hear. For example, arguments delving into the legality of a specific war or related "Nuremberg Principle"-type defenses are simply dismissed and shut down as "outside the scope of this hearing". A military judge will always want to pose a simple "did he or did he not do it?" question the jury.

For this reason, it is unlikely that the mental health, behavioral problems, or sub-standard soldier issues attributed to PFC Manning will have much bearing on the guilt phase of the court martial.

On the other hand, due to the prosecution's overreach in charging PFC Manning with an Espionage Statute and "aiding the enemy", the defense may have uncommon opportunities to bring issues related to motive and intent into play in the guilt phase. These issues of motive and intent are at the core of why millions of people around the world sympathize with PFC Manning, but we'll have to wait to see how they play out in a Fort Meade military courtroom in the spring or summer.

Mitigation of punishment

Defense efforts to call witnesses and present evidence can be highly restricted by a military judge during the guilt phase, but just about anything can be presented in mitigation during the punishment phase (assuming of course that the defendant is not acquitted of all charges).

As there is no delay between the two phases, the defense has to be ready to mount a vigorous case for mitigation from the beginning. If the witnesses are not already present, then it's too late. This is especially true for non-cooperative witnesses that need to be compelled to appear by the court, including nearly all of the witnesses requested by the defense for the Article 32. If the defense wants them at court martial, that fight needs to start now--and that is what this list represents. The prosecution has already come out opposed to all witnesses requested, with the exception of those witnesses that they also intend to question. There is still plenty of time prior to court martial to add friendly witnesses.

Unless the military is compelled to resolve the legal proceedings against PFC Manning non-judicially, or PFC Manning is acquitted of all charges, then there will be the need for mitigation during this second phase of court martial. That mitigation may include any number of arguments, including: PFC Manning should have been released from military service for failure to adapt to military life, he should not have been deployed to Iraq, he should not have been allowed to keep a security clearance due to a pattern of behavioral issues-and that the Army should assume some responsibility for not following their own regulations in those matters. Those arguments do not contradict the mitigating fact that if PFC Manning did what he is accused of, he is the most important whistle-blower since Daniel Ellsberg who released the Top Secret Pentagon Papers that helped end the Vietnam War.
Illegal pre-trial punishment at Quantico

The final two witnesses, #46 and #47, were health care professionals on staff at the Quantico Marine Brig. Military authorities justified imposing tortuous conditions upon PFC Manning for nine months by simply citing a concern for his own safety. These conditions included ritualistic forced nudity and extreme isolation. The description of #46 reads:

He will testify that during a meeting in early January of 2011, the Security Battalion Commander in charge of the Quantico Brig, ---, clearly stated to the Brig Staff that "I will not have anything happen to Manning on my watch.... So, nothing is going to change... He won't be able to hurt himself and he won't be able to get away, and our way of making sure of that is that is he will remain on Maximum Custody and POI [Prevention of Injury] indefinitely." He will testify that one of the other Brig psychiatrists, --- then said "You know Sir, I am concerned because if you are going to do that, maybe you want to call it something else because it is not based upon anything from behavioral health." In response, --- will testify that --- then said, "We will do whatever we want to do..." Others at the Brig told him that they have never seen anything like this before. --- will testify that others told him that they were afraid to speak out about the situation given the concern of what would happen [to themselves] as a result of any complaint about PFC Manning's treatment.

Witness #47 would add that:

He recalls a meeting with --- where he stated that PFC Manning would remain in his current status Maximum Custody and POI unless and until he received instruction from higher authority to the contrary... he does recall that --- made it clear that nothing would change with PFC Manning regardless of his behavior to the recommendations of behavioral health.

Just last week, Juan Mendez, the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on Torture, admonished the Obama administration for continuing to stonewall his attempts to investigate the treatment of PFC Manning at Quantico.

The illegal pre-trial punishment will likely have little impact on the guilt phase of the court martial, but it's likely to be an important mitigating factor in punishment as PFC has already been subject to extreme and unusual punishment while presumed innocent.

Government opposes all defense witnesses

Government prosecutors have already opposed every single defense witness on the list, unless the government was already intending to call them! Apparently the government has cited cost and burden. In response, Mr. Coombs explained in a December 7th memorandum to the court entitled "Witness Justification":

The government does not seem to be interested at all in providing a thorough and impartial investigation... The government claims that it is too costly and troublesome to bring any of the defense requested witnesses. Such a position defies logic and common sense.

In conclusion, Mr. Coombs explains:

PFC Manning is charged with offenses that carry the maximum punishment of life without the possibility of parole. His charges are among the most serious charges that a soldier can face. The government must be prepared to accept the costs incurred by the seriousness of the charges that they have preferred against PFC Manning. Anything but the personal appearances of all witnesses requested by the defense and government would deny PFC Manning his right to a thorough and impartial investigation and turn this into a hollow exercise.

While the pre-trial and court martial proceedings are open to the public and media by law, the military is expected to attempt to restrict access to key and possibly large portions of the proceedings. Between opposing all defense witnesses and attempting to hide significant and critical parts of the proceedings, the government is using every opportunity to stack the deck against PFC Manning.

Public support for PFC Manning

There is no doubt that PFC Manning faces long odds for anything resembling justice and freedom anytime soon. However, due to the work of the Bradley Manning Support Network over the last 18 months, he stands a fighting chance-and that has been a huge improvement. With the help of over 6,000 individual contributors, the Support Network continues to fund all of PFC Manning's legal expenses, as well as efforts to influence public opinion though protest, petitions, and high-profile billboards. Join us Friday, December 16th at the Fort Meade Main Gate for an all-day vigil, and Saturday, December 17th for a march and rally from noon to 3:00pm.

Jeff Paterson is the project director of Courage to Resist, an organization dedicated to supporting US military service members who face military justice for matters of conscience, and a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network steering committee. In 1990, Marine Cpl. Paterson was the first service member to publicly refuse to fight in Iraq.


2) Newburgh Four: poor, black, and jailed under FBI 'entrapment' tactics
In June, four men [James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen] were jailed for 25 years over a US terror plot. The FBI painted them as dedicated fanatics, but were they lured by the promise of cash from a fake informant?
Paul Harris in New York
December 12, 2011

Imam Salahuddin Muhammad could hardly miss Shahed Hussain when he first appeared three years ago at his mosque in the dilapidated town of Newburgh, just 60 miles up the Hudson River from New York.

Hussain was flash, drove expensive cars and treated people to gifts of cash and food. He also had radical opinions that stood out in a mosque that welcomed Shia and Sunni followers and had good relations with local Jewish and Christian communities.

"This guy said women should not be heard, not be seen. I thought that was strange," Muhammad told the Guardian as he sat in his office inside Newburgh's mosque." Muhammad, who is a black American convert, had no idea how strange things would get.

Hussain would make Newburgh's Muslim community famous when earlier this year four other black Newburgh Muslims were jailed for 25 years for a 2009 plot to fire a Stinger missile at US military planes. They also planted car bombs, packed with lethal ball bearings, outside Jewish targets in the wealthy New York suburb of Riverdale.

Prosecutors painted them as America-hating terrorists bent on slaughter. All four followed the instructions of Hussain, who meticulously organised the scheme: from getting the missile and bombs, to reconnaissance missions, to teaching the tenets of radical Islam.

The "Newburgh Four" now languish in jail. Hussain does not. For Hussain was a fake. In fact, Hussain worked for the FBI as an informant trawling mosques in hope of picking up radicals.

Yet far from being active militants, the four men he attracted were impoverished individuals struggling with Newburgh's grim epidemic of crack, drug crime and poverty. One had mental issues so severe his apartment contained bottles of his own urine. He also believed Florida was a foreign country.

Hussain offered the men huge financial inducements to carry out the plot - including $250,000 to one man - and free holidays and expensive cars.

As defence lawyers poured through the evidence, the Newburgh Four came to represent the most extreme form of a controversial FBI policy to use invented terrorist plots to lure targets. "There has been no case as egregious as this. It is unique in the incentive the government provided. A quarter million dollars?" said Professor Karen Greenberg, a terrorism expert at Fordham University.

Lawyers for the Newburgh Four have appealed. Their case will now be heard early next year. It is sure to prompt a re-examination of the way Hussain and the FBI invented a terrorist plot involving impoverished black Muslims in an economically deprived city.

The case will question the new ethos of the FBI, which, since the terror attacks of 9/11, has focused on pre-emptive prosecution. It also raises serious questions as to how the FBI has treated Muslim communities in America, who it says are a key ally in fighting terrorism, and yet are subjected to such tactics.

If the appeal fails, some believe the Newburgh Four case could end up at the Supreme Court. That won't be much comfort to Newburgh's Muslim community. "It felt terrible being targeted," said Muhammad. On his office walls hung several awards praising his work on inter-faith projects and promotion of peace. "We worked so hard to establish this place. Then our beautiful mosque is in newspapers all over the world," he said.

There is little doubt Newburgh has serious social problems. The wide expanse of Broadway sweeps to the Hudson as grandly as it did in the city's 19th-century heyday, but many shops are boarded up. Side streets are full of houses falling apart, boarded up, or burnt out. Even at 9am drug dealers openly ply their trade.

It is this poverty-drenched environment in which Hussain met James Cromitie, a loudmouth Walmart worker who claimed to deal drugs and stolen goods. Exactly why Hussain picked Newburgh is not clear. He had already acted as an informant in another controversial "entrapment" case in Albany, New York, where a local pizza owner and an imam were convicted for terrorist money laundering.

Now Hussain's brief was to fish for new suspects. He claimed to find one in Cromitie, who was prone to anti-Semitic rants. Hussain coaxed Cromitie along, eventually developing the plot to attack Riverdale and a US airbase on behalf of a Pakistani terrorist group. It was Cromitie who then recruited the other three men - David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen - to fulfil Hussain's desire for lookouts.

From then, the FBI prosecution seemed straightforward. After all, even though the plot was fake, the men seemed to think they were carrying out an Islamic terror attack. Prosecutors believed they were a real threat. But it is not that simple.

None of the four men fit the usual profile of a terrorist-in-waiting, let alone an active militant. But they did fit the profile of desperate men who would do anything for money - and Hussain promised massive earthly awards.

For Cromitie, he proffered $250,000: a staggering sum. Hussain also offered to buy him a new BMW, a holiday in Puerto Rico, and a barber shop to set him up in his own business. The other three were also offered thousands of dollars in what must have seemed a miraculous windfall.

Both Williams men had done time in jail and were struggling. Onta Williams, the son of a crack addict mother, had started dealing drugs at 14. Meanwhile Payen, of Haitian origin, was possibly schizophrenic. He urinated in bottles in his bedroom and, when told of a trip to Florida as reward, said he could not go because he had no passport.

In meetings discussing the plot, Payen said little; he just devoured the copious free food Hussain bought. It is not a portrait of radical Islamists. It is a sad picture of life in an urban ghetto.

Blustering fantasist

Yet the FBI treated the gang, especially Cromitie, as dedicated fanatics. Cromitie certainly disliked Jews. "All the evil in this world is due to the Jews," Cromitie told Hussain. But Cromitie also told Hussain he believed President Bush was the anti-Christ and he wanted to kill him "700 times".

Cromitie falsely claimed to have visited Afghanistan. He said he stole guns from his job at Walmart, yet the shop did not sell firearms. He said he had been jailed for murder and thrown bombs at police stations: all lies.

Cromitie seemed less a terrorist and more a blustering fantasist. Indeed, away from the company of Hussain, there is little sign Cromitie did anything for the plot. When Hussain gave him a camera and told Cromitie to reconnoitre targets, he promptly sold it.

He knew little about Islam; it was Hussain who tried to educate him about jihad. Hussain complained bitterly his pupil was doing nothing. "You've not started the first step, brother. Come on," Hussain griped on tape.

In fact, Cromitie tried to ditch Hussain. For weeks on end Cromitie pretended to leave Newburgh to avoid him. Cromitie ignored Hussain's phone calls, deleted voice mails and pretended not to be in when Hussain came around his house. He stopped going to the mosque.

Only when Cromitie lost his job, and became desperate for money, did he contact Hussain again. "I told you, I can make you $250,000, but you don't want it, brother," Hussain told him.

Now Cromitie agreed and set about finding lookouts. "Ok, fuck it. I don't care. Ah, man. Maqsood, you got me," he said, using Hussain's fake name.

Even further into the plot - when Cromitie again told Hussain he did not think he could do it - Hussain said his overseas terrorist "brothers" might cut his head off. Cromitie came back on side.

The sheer scale and proactive nature of Hussain's actions has shocked legal experts, Muslim groups and civil rights organisations. They say it went far beyond a fair use of resources in neutralising a real threat. Not only was the entire plot fake, but it seemed only Hussain's Islamic coaching, talk of cash rewards and constant attention was keeping it alive.

But then Hussain was no normal informant. The entire FBI entrapment strategy in post-9/11 America has drawn fire for using informants with criminal records, shady pasts, financial incentives or a record of deception. Hussain had all four.

"He is a brilliant con man. He could con people about anything," said Steve Downs, a lawyer with Project Salam, which campaigns on entrapment cases.

At trial, Hussain's shocking past emerged. He claimed to have been arrested on murder charges in Pakistan. He admitted entering the US on a fake British passport. He had fraud convictions for a driving licence scam. Indeed, he became an FBI informant in exchange for help with those charges.

He claimed to be poor, yet received mysterious sums of money from Pakistan. In 2009 and 2010 he got at least $250,000 that way. He explained having two luxury cars with a bizarre story that Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto gave them to his family on a trip to New York.

He also claimed he never offered Cromitie a quarter of a million dollars, saying the phrase "$250,000" was a secret code name for the plot. Then he confessed he had not told either his FBI handlers or Cromitie of the code's existence; only he knew about it.

During the entire investigation, he earned $100,000 from the FBI in wages and expenses. In a tough economy, that is well-paid work for a convicted fraudster.

Yet Hussain was the sole personal witness for the FBI. His reports of what Cromitie had talked about were taken as truth, even though Hussain did not record the first four months of their meetings. And, once he began recording, the FBI unusually allowed him to switch the tape on and off. "They gave him a real long leash. He could do whatever he wanted," said Downs.

Therefore, there are large, unexplained gaps in the tapes, including the final minutes of the plot itself as the bombs were put in position. Hussain claimed - as he often did - that equipment malfunctioned at the vital moment.

Shakespearean buffoonery

Even Judge Colleen McMahon - who put the Newburgh Four behind bars - slammed the FBI. "Only the government could have made a terrorist out of Mr Cromitie, a man whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope," she said in court. She added: "I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that there would have been no crime here except the government instigated it, planned it and brought it to fruition."

Those comments did not appease Alicia McWilliams, David Williams's aunt. "This was a movie script, written by the FBI," she fumed.

But it is hard to drum up support. Newburgh showed that for a jury the mention of the word "terrorism" can override legal concerns. It also makes campaigning for the Newburgh Four - and other Muslims caught in entrapment schemes - difficult. "Fear does that to people. When you say "terrorism", that is a powerful word. Even half of my family don't want anything to do with this," McWilliams said.

But what were the Newburgh Four thinking? In letters sent from jail, David Williams claimed they were intent on eventually robbing Hussain. Williams had a brother in need of a liver transplant and he said he wanted cash for that. It is a story McWilliams believes.

Muhammad also thinks it might be possible. "Maybe they thought they were playing Hussain for money. But they were the ones being played," the imam said. Others are not so sure.

Greenburg believes the men likely knew what they were doing, but were interested in cash, not religion. "From the evidence, they believed in the plot. But they didn't believe in jihad," she said. For prosecutors, that was enough to justify the whole scheme. "Ordinary people ... would have known better. For Pete's sake, they would have called the cops when they heard there was a terrorist in town. These four men? They didn't give it a second thought," said prosecutor David Raskin in court.

However, that concept disturbs civil rights experts and legal figures, who dislike that FBI informants can offer money to people in return for committing crimes and then prosecute them. "I'm sure you could find hundreds of people, unfortunately, who would agree to commit very bad crimes for money," defence lawyer Mark Gombiner said.

Some say the FBI has now softened its tactics in the wake of the fallout from Newburgh. Last month, a sting by New York police netted suspected terrorist Jose Pimentel allegedly building a bomb with the help of an NYPD informant. Yet the FBI declined to get involved. It did not consider the man a legitimate threat. "The Newburgh case has had an impact. I know that," said Greenberg.

But for now the Newburgh Four remain in jail. Their families desperately hope they will be successful in next year's appeal. And Hussain? With two successful cases behind him, he is an experienced FBI asset. He has now disappeared from those who knew him in Albany and Newburgh. "Maybe he got a new assignment from the FBI," said Downs.


3) Capitalism Is the Enemy of Democracracy
by: David Kristjanson-Gural, Truthout | Op-Ed
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The most significant accomplishment for Occupy Wall Street (OWS) to date is that the Occupiers have managed to poke a hole in the legitimacy of neoliberal capitalism and its central claim that unregulated markets provide opportunity and freedom.

The Occupiers have accomplished this feat in a surprising way, peacefully, with home-made signs, signs that say things like, "If I had a lobbyist, I wouldn't need this sign."

OWS has punctured the neoliberal façade simply by having the audacity to gather in public, in bold defiance of the police and to bear witness, by their solidarity and cooperation, to the idea that the Washington Consensus has long denied - that a different world is possible.

Phil Rockstroh puts it this way: "the walls of the neoliberal prison are cracking ... We are no longer isolated, enclosed in our alienation, imprisoned by a concretized sense of powerlessness; daylight is beginning to pierce the darkness of our desolate cells."

At the core of this neoliberal ideology is a simple assertion - economic exchanges promote freedom because they are voluntary and, thus, they only occur if both parties believe they will benefit. Unregulated market exchanges thus allow individuals to engage with others in complex social arrangements without coercion, without impinging on individual liberty. Government is needed, but only to define and enforce property rights and to create and regulate the currency individuals need to undertake market exchanges.

As the world rises up against economic injustice, Truthout brings you the latest news and analysis, free of corporate influence. Help support this work with a tax-deductible donation today.

Liberal Keynesians, who argue for expanding government in order to regulate or oversee individual exchange, are denigrated because they seek to interrupt these free and voluntary agreements and they, therefore, undermine individual liberty. Reagan, who ushered in the neoliberal era, said it this way: "Government is not the solution to the problem; Government is the problem." In this extreme libertarian view, capitalism is the champion of democracy, the champion of freedom.

The flaw in this neoliberal reasoning is not hard to see. Ownership of wealth obviously confers power; it gives some individuals an upper hand in the "voluntary" exchanges they make with others. Lacking the means otherwise to support ourselves, most of us must hire out our ability to do work in exchange for wages. We might do quite well if we are educated and talented, lucky or white, but even so, we ultimately produce more value than we are paid - that is, after all, the reason we are hired.

Wealth ownership, thus, gives an upper hand to employers in these voluntary exchanges with working people. The extra value we create flows steadily into the hands of wealth holders and we don't have a say over what it is used for.

This upper hand in these so-called voluntary exchanges provides an ongoing and increasing source of wealth accumulation that is self-reinforcing. Money begets money. That is after all what capital is, money advanced for the purpose of making more money.

Excluding people from having a say over what happens to the wealth we create is the first and the most fundamental way that any capitalist system undermines democracy. We are fundamentally disenfranchised in the places we work. Wealth owners control the levers of investment and, thus, the "needs" of capital trump those of workers when it comes to making decisions about what gets produced, how and for whom.

Beyond this, neoliberal capitalism goes further - it uses the value you and I create to enforce a virtual dictatorship by wealth in the political sphere. The most obvious manifestation of this dictatorship by wealth is the unlimited corporate financing of our elected representatives.

But this financing is only the tip of the iceberg. Not only must candidates pander to corporate interests to successfully raise the funds needed to run for office, once they are in office, they are plied and courted with unrelenting advances designed to ensure that they do not lose their focus and begin to think about something other that promoting a favorable business climate.

Even deeper in the subsoil of this treasonous takeover of our democracy is the ownership and influence over the main vehicle of public discourse, the news media. The manufacture of consent is accomplished by narrowing the acceptable range of debate to the question of how best to support economic growth (read profits) and American imperialism (read war).

Where do the millions, or billions, that candidates raise end up? Primarily, this money ends up in the coffers of the corporate media - campaign advertising is the single most important source of revenue for the corporate media.

So, it is an odd fact of American life that capitalism is equated with democracy while, at the same time, acting as democracy's most corrosive force. But think about it, if capitalism really supported democracy, if it really welcomed open, honest, wide-ranging debate about the values and practices of corporations and their elected representatives, why would they be sending their police in with bats and pepper spray to prevent the free, open exchange of ideas? Why would they not be handing out microphones, providing open access to the airwaves, organizing televised debates?

If capitalism really were the champion of democracy, the Occupiers and their many allies would be celebrated. Instead we are disdained. The corporate elites fear and resist any questioning of their core beliefs because their ideas do not hold up to scrutiny and reasoned debate. That's how we all know - capitalism is the enemy of democracy.

But is there any alternative? It is tempting to think that if we can only regulate capitalism effectively, we can harness its virtues and contain its vices. In fact, there is some evidence to support this view.

The 99 percent were much better served in the post-war era in the United States, and they continue to benefit from efforts to rein in capitalism's excesses in Scandinavia and Northern Europe. But these efforts to regulate are under constant attack and a return to regulations is ultimately a brief inconvenience to the corporate elites.

As Richard D. Wolff and others have noted, as long as the value you and I create is credited to the owners of capital, these owners have both the means and, given their distorted values, the incentive to undermine and neutralize any effective regulation and oversight we attempt to impose.

Capital will continue to corrode democracy, as certainly as oxygen corrodes iron, as long as a few hold sway over investment and jobs and are committed to using the wealth that we generate to undermine the will of the people. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, "You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or you can have democracy; you cannot have both."

Fortunately, a proven alternative to corporate capitalism already exists. For over 50 years, it has provided a practical example of how we can extend democracy to the workplace as a means of preserving democracy in our political lives. The basic idea of this experiment is to address the root of the problem, to uncover the means by which capitalism undermines democracy and to provide new institutional rules governing how we organize our economic lives.

Over 50 years ago, the Mondragon Cooperatives in northern Spain developed their poverty-stricken regional economy by developing worker-owned and managed cooperatives. Co-ops place the ownership of wealth and the decisions concerning how wealth is invested in the hands of the people who produce the wealth.

These institutions recognize that the wealth generated by an enterprise is the result of the collective efforts of all, and that those most affected by the decisions of the enterprise, workers and community members, ought to have the principal say in what happens to the wealth, how it is distributed and the purposes to which it is put.

Many people argue that co-ops are impractical, but this simple, democratic principle rests at the heart of this highly successful, internationally competitive, stable and flourishing regional economy. It is an economy based on democratic management, worker ownership and democratic oversight and it faces its own challenges, yes, but has certainly proven the lie that there is no alternative to corporate capitalism. It shows that people, acting together, can use democratic principles to imbue their economic lives and their political lives with agency and meaning.

And this effort is spreading to America's heartland. The Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland have successfully applied the principles of the Mondragon experiment to develop a thriving urban development project. As Gar Alperovitz argues, the linking of large anchor institutions with worker-owned enterprises offers a practical economic development strategy that is politically feasible in the context of our current economic crisis.

Many people are uncomfortable with the idea that working people can do without their corporate bosses. Quite a bit of time and energy has been spent trying to convince us that the idea that workers can manage themselves is preposterous. OWS has provided the opening for us to consider, debate and discuss what has previously been off the table.

Economic democracy is not only possible; it is essential. As Bill McKibben and others have shown us, we cannot afford to continue on the trajectory of neoliberal capitalism. By democratizing the economy, we are taking the first necessary step toward a sustainable future. We are also taking a step toward reclaiming that peculiar American Dream of a government of, by and for the people.

So, let's grasp the significance of what OWS is doing. We need to step boldly through the hole they have opened in the shiny façade of our glad-handled, Madison Avenue, faux democracy. We need to take up the challenge of creating a real, substantive democracy, right here and now, in the very heart of America. We need to create an economic and a political democracy as a means of reclaiming our own dignity as working people, our own liberty as citizens and to ensure a livable world for those who come next.

David Kristjanson-Gural is associate professor of economics and senior fellow of the Social Justice College at Bucknell University. His writing appears in the LA Progressive,, the Williamsport Guardian and the Daily Item. He is a member of the Spilling Ink Writers' Collective.


4) Chicago mayor confronted with demand for permits to march on NATO/G8 summit
By Staff |
December 13, 2011!%20News%20Service&utm_campaign=a1b0a2c90f-UA-743468-8&utm_medium=email

Chicago, IL- After months of avoiding organizers planning the protests against the NATO and G8 Summit next spring, Mayor Rahm Emanuel finally got an earful Dec. 13. Thirty people from the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8) packed a meeting of the Public Building Commission (PBC), which Emanuel chairs. Joe Iosbaker, Andy Thayer and Newland Smith of CANG8 all spoke to the commissioners and pressed the demands for permits to march on the summits of bankers, generals and politicians.

Iosbaker had applied for a permit for Daley Plaza back in June. The plaza is one of the few places in the Loop (Chicago's downtown) where large crowds can assemble. The realty company, MB Realty, that manages the plaza at first told Iosbaker he had correctly submitted the application. Five months later, they told him that the city would not allow any protests to occur in the plaza during the dates of the NATO/G8 summits. Then, the Public Building Commission, which owns the plaza and employs MB Realty, responded to a letter from the National Lawyers Guild. They now say that the reason for denial is a regulation that a permit for May protests must be submitted after the first of the year.

According to Iosbaker, the letter from MB Realty was a moment where, "... the curtain is pulled aside, like in The Wizard of Oz, and the real intentions of the administration are seen: they want to deter protests." According to Iosbaker, to achieve this objective, the Emanuel administration "... is preparing to deny permit applications. They informed their agents at MB Realty that they would not be allowing permits that week. However, MB Realty wasn't sufficiently coached," and so they blurted out the truth.

Andy Thayer scored a victory by forcing an exchange with Emanuel. Thayer asked whether the mayor, "...would commit to permits for either Daley Plaza or Grant Park [the only two venues in the Loop large enough for the expected turnout]. The Public Building Commission's Executive Director tried to protect Emanuel, but Thayer insisted that, "the mayor should be able to speak for himself instead of hiding behind his staff."

Emanuel then made three points. He said, "Protesters' First Amendment rights will be respected; they can apply for permits after the first of the year; and permits will be granted as appropriate."

Thayer retorted, "Without permits for venues, the right to assemble is meaningless."

Finally, Newland Smith of CANG8 and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship quoted statements from Episcopalian, Methodist, Catholic and Jewish scholars and leaders about the need for people of faith to challenge the hardship brought on humanity by the policies of the G8 wealthy nations; and to oppose the wars waged by the powerful nations of NATO.


5) Chinese Village Locked in Rebellion Against Authorities
December 14, 2011

BEIJING - A long-running dispute between farmers and local officials in southern China exploded into open rebellion this week after villagers chased away government leaders, set up roadblocks and began arming themselves with homemade weapons, residents said.

The conflict in Wukan, a coastal settlement near the country's booming industrial heartland in Guangdong Province, escalated on Monday after residents learned that one of the representatives they had selected to negotiate with the local Communist Party had died in police custody. The authorities say a heart attack killed the 42-year-old man, but relatives say his body bore signs of torture.

Spasms of social unrest in China have become increasingly common, a reflection of the widening income gap and deepening unhappiness with official corruption and an unresponsive justice system.

But the clashes in Wukan, which first erupted in September, appear to be unusual for their longevity - and for the brazenness of the participants.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, residents said throngs of people were staging noisy rallies by day outside Wukan's village hall, while young men with walkie-talkies employed tree limbs to obstruct roads leading to the town. Not far away, heavily armed riot police were maintaining their own roadblocks. The siege has prevented deliveries from reaching the town of 20,000, but residents said they had no problem receiving food from adjoining villages.

Communist Party officials in Shanwei, the jurisdiction that includes Wukan, declined to comment on Wednesday evening saying they would hold a news conference on Thursday.

The unrest began in September, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest the seizure of agricultural land they said was illegally taken by government officials. The land was sold to developers, they said, but the farmers ended up with little or no compensation. After two days of protests, during which police vehicles were destroyed and government buildings ransacked, riot police moved in with what residents described as excessive brutality.

With order restored, local officials vowed to investigate the villager's land-grab claims. Two village party officials were fired and the authorities made an offer that is rare in China's top-down political system: county party officials would negotiate with a group of village representatives chosen by popular consensus.

A butcher named Xue Jinbo was among the 13 people chosen.

It is unclear what happened next, but villagers say the goodwill evaporated earlier this month after a Lufeng County government spokesman condemned the earlier protests as illegal and accused Wukan's ad hoc leaders of abetting "overseas forces that want to sow divisions between the government and villagers." A few days later, residents took to the streets again and staged a sit-in. Last Friday, the authorities responded by sending in a group of plain-clothes policemen who grabbed five of the representatives, including Mr. Xue.

Two days later, he was dead.

According to a 24-year-old villager who described himself as Mr. Xue's son-in-law, his knees were bruised, his nostrils were caked with blood and his thumbs appeared to be broken. The man, who spoke by phone and gave his surname as Gao, declined to fully identify himself. "We've been to the funeral home a couple of times but the police won't release his body," he said.

Although government censors blocked news of the latest unrest, the state-run Xinhua news agency weighed in on the "rumors" about Mr. Xue's death, saying he had died of cardiac arrest a day after confessing to his role in the riots of in September.

The account, published Tuesday, cited public security officials who said Mr. Xue had a history of asthma and heart disease and it referred to a report by forensic investigators who found no evidence of abuse. "We assume the handcuffs left the marks on his wrists, and his knees were bruised slightly when he knelt," Luo Bin, deputy chief of the Zhongshan University forensics medical center told Xinhua.

The top party official in Shanwei, Zheng Yanxiong, said Mr. Xue's death would nonetheless be investigated, but he warned residents against using their suspicions to fuel unrest.

"The government will strive to settle all related problems and hopes the village will not be instigated into staging further riots," Mr. Zheng said.

Shi Da contributed research.


6) Marijuana Use Growing Among Teenagers
December 14, 2011, 10:00 am

One out of every 15 high school students smokes marijuana on a near daily basis, a figure that has reached a 30-year peak even as use of alcohol, cigarettes and cocaine among teenagers continues a slow decline, according to a new government report.

The popularity of marijuana, which is now more prevalent among 10th graders than cigarette smoking, reflects what researchers and drug officials say is a growing perception among teenagers that habitual marijuana use carries little risk of harm. That perception, experts say, is fueled at least in part by wider familiarity with and availability of medicinal marijuana.

The long-running annual report, called the Monitoring the Future survey and financed by the National Institutes of Health, looked at more than 46,000 students. Over all, about 25 percent of 8th, 10th and 12th graders who took part in the study reported using marijuana in the past year, up from about 21 percent in 2007.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, the federal drug czar, said he believed the increasing prevalence of medicinal marijuana was a factor in the uptick. "These last couple years, the amount of attention that's been given to medical marijuana has been huge," he said. "And when I've done focus groups with high school students in states where medical marijuana is legal, they say, 'Well, if its called medicine and it's given to patients by caregivers, then that's really the wrong message for us as high school students.'"

The report also revealed that a mixture of herbs and chemicals known widely as "spice" or "K2" that mimics the effects of marijuana has quickly gained popularity among teenagers. One in every nine high school seniors reported using it in the past year; most of them also regularly used marijuana. In another sign of the synthetic drug's popularity, poison control centers received 5,741 calls about it through Oct. 31 of this year, almost double the number for all of last year. This was the first year the report asked students about their use of synthetic drugs.

Part of the reason synthetic marijuana had become so popular is that until recently, it was sold legally, often as "herbal incense," in convenience stores and gas stations and on various Web sites. But in March, the Drug Enforcement Administration declared several chemicals in synthetic marijuana Schedule I drugs, banning them for a year. Congress is now considering legislation that would ban the substance permanently.

"If you talk to school superintendents and principals, they'll tell you about their concerns that this stuff was being sold a block away from their schools," said Mr. Kerlikowske. "High school students probably think it's not dangerous. But we know from the calls to hot lines, emergency departments and poison control centers that this stuff really is dangerous. It just really wasn't on parents' radar screens."

While interest in marijuana and synthetic marijuana has climbed, the willingness to try most other drugs has waned. The report found declines in the use of crack, cocaine, over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, sedatives, tranquilizers and prescription drugs like Adderall and the narcotic painkiller Vicodin. Some 1.7 percent of 10th graders and 2.6 percent of 12th graders reported using cocaine in 2011, for example, far fewer than in the 1980s or '90s. About 5 percent of 12th graders reported using ecstasy in 2011, an increase of about 1 percent from the previous year.

Heavy drinking among high school students has also fallen over the past 20 years, the report found. From 1991 to 2011, the proportion of 8th graders who reported drinking in the previous 30 days fell by about half, to 13 percent from 25 percent. Among 10th graders, it has fallen by more than a third, to 27 percent from 43 percent, and among 12th graders by about a fourth, to 40 percent from 54 percent. The percentage of students who reported binge drinking fell by a third, to 13.6 percent from 20 percent.

About a third of teenagers said they consume energy drinks like Red Bull, with use highest among younger students. Ten percent to 20 percent of high school students reported drinking one or more energy drinks daily, down slightly from 2010.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the name of the federal body that in March declared several chemicals in synthetic marijuana Schedule I drugs. It is the Drug Enforcement Administration, not the Drug Enforcement Agency.


7) Aid for Child Care Drops When It Is Needed Most
December 13, 2011

BALTIMORE - With states under pressure to cut their budgets and federal stimulus money gone, low-income working parents are facing a paradox. Just when they have to work longer hours to make ends meet, they are losing access to the thing they need most to stay on the job: a government subsidy that helps pay for child care.

The subsidy, a mix of federal and state funds that reimburses child care providers on behalf of families, is critical to the lives of poor women. But it has been eaten away over the years by inflation and growing need and recently by state budget cuts, leaving parents struggling to find other arrangements to stay employed.

"States have dropped their investment in child care substantially," said Linda Saterfield, vice chairwoman of the National Association of State Child Care Administrators, who oversees child care for the state of Illinois. "We're being expected to do more with less." Her state has toughened eligibility for the subsidies and raised co-payments from families to cover the growing demand.

Sheontay Smith, a single mother in Baltimore, and her son are among nearly 8,000 families on a waiting list for the subsidy in Maryland. Pennsylvania's list doubled since last year to more than 10,000 children, and Arkansas's quadrupled to 11,000, according to the National Women's Law Center.

At least two states, Arizona and Utah, are no longer appropriating state general funds for child care at all.

According to a recent report by the law center, families in 37 states were worse off this year than last year as waiting lists grew, co-payments rose, eligibility tightened and reimbursement rates for providers stagnated.

"We recognize that this is a tough time for states," said Shannon Rudisill, who oversees the subsidy program at the Administration for Children and Families, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. "They have a hard set of choices that they have to negotiate."

She said that President Obama had recommended an increase in the subsidy in the 2011 budget, but that it had not been approved by Congress. Stimulus money, which had raised financing by a fifth in 2009 and 2010, is now gone.

Christian Griffith, chief consultant of the California Assembly Budget Committee, said the state cut $335 million in child care financing this year, and with hundreds of millions in cuts to other public services - courts, schools and the public university system - "there aren't many good options at this point."

The nonprofit Child Care Resource Center, which determines eligibility for the subsidy for thousands of families in northern Los Angeles County, said it had noted a 13 percent decline in licensed child care centers since June 2010 as budget cuts reduced the numbers of families on the subsidy.

The reduction is prompting advocates for poor women to question whether the implied social contract that emerged during the federal welfare overhaul in the 1990s - that women go to work in exchange for help with child care - is fraying.

"There's a long history of recognition that child care is essential to helping low-income women work," said Helen Blank, the director of public policy at the National Women's Law Center, who helped shape child care policy in the 1990s. "That commitment is being eroded."

For children in families waiting for the subsidy, life becomes a kaleidoscope of caretakers. Women interviewed for this article said they left their children with grandparents, neighbors, cousins, siblings, and colleagues at a nail salon. Such ad hoc arrangements hinder early-childhood development, state administrators say, just as states are trying to make it a priority.

One mother on a waiting list in Virginia said her 11-year-old daughter rode around in a city bus after school, watched over by the driver, who is the girl's grandmother, until the mother got off work. The smaller safety net comes as the share of working Americans under or just above the poverty line - the target group for the subsidy, which is linked to income - is the highest in years. And while demand for the subsidy declined with the recession, it has shot back up in many states as employment has returned, putting new strain on child care resources.

"We've seen quite a steep increase in demand," said Elizabeth Kelley, director of Maryland's Office of Child Care.

Ms. Smith, who works full time at the Baltimore Housing Authority, has been on a waiting list since summer. She applied because her son's father stopped paying child support, and the monthly $520 she needed for her 3-year-old's day care was more than her $22,000 salary could support.

She took her son out, but ended up losing half her paycheck in unpaid days off because her regular baby sitters, among them Ms. Smith's grandmother, who is on kidney dialysis, fell through. The only way to get the subsidy, her caseworker told her, was to stop working and go on welfare. (In Maryland, someone on welfare is automatically eligible.)

"Is the system set up for me to fail? Because that's what it feels like," said Ms. Smith.

Her son is now back in day care, at the expense of other bills. Her phone was cut off this week, and she is behind on her gas, electricity and car insurance.

Another hurdle has been the rates at which the centers are reimbursed. The law center's report found that only three states reimburse at federally recommended levels, down from 22 in the beginning of the decade, and some providers say they can no longer afford to take families on subsidies. Toni Cacace-Beshears, who runs a network of child care centers in southeastern Virginia, said families on the subsidy paid at rates so far below her other customers - about two-thirds - that she had to do fund-raising to help make up the difference.

"I'm subsidizing my subsidized clients," she said. The gap created a shortfall over the past year of about $272,000 - or about 14 percent of her child care budget.

Parents in income brackets that are a little higher pay more as a result. Monica Jackson, a bakery worker and a pharmacy technician in Norfolk, Va., was told that she and her husband, an Army reservist who is looking for work, did not qualify for the subsidy because their income, around $20,000, is too high, a ruling she is disputing. They cannot afford child care, which Ms. Jackson said cost $1,400 a month, more than their rent.

"What do you tell people who call you for an interview?" she asked. " 'I'm bringing my 3-year-old and 11-month-old'?"

Those who have the subsidy live in fear of losing it. Lori Lebo, a customer service worker for an electricity company in Pennsylvania, said she had to ask her new boyfriend and her 8-year-old son to watch her baby girl, who was at home screaming with a fever, because she had received too many warnings at work about taking time off to care for her.

"If we get removed, it will be back on the waiting list for both kids," she worried. "That will be havoc for a new job."


8) With Port Actions, Occupy Oakland Tests Labor Leaders
"'The Occupy movement is a union for the 99 percent, and certainly for the 89 percent of working people who are not in unions,' said Barucha Peller, 28, an unemployed writer who helped plan and rally support for the port shutdown."
December 13, 2011

OAKLAND, Calif. - In most cities, the Occupy movement has been thrown on the defensive, struggling to regroup and plan new protests after being evicted from its encampments by the police.

Not in Oakland.

Long the most militant Occupy branch, Occupy Oakland has continued to push the movement's campaign against the wealthiest 1 percent even after losing its perch in front of City Hall. It spearheaded a one-day action on Monday in which thousands of protesters rallied at West Coast ports from San Diego to Anchorage, effectively closing the Ports of Portland and Longview, Wash., and largely shutting the Port of Oakland.

In the process, Occupy Oakland has cast itself as the true champion of America's workers, creating a potentially troublesome rift with the Occupy movement's sometime allies in organized labor.

Several labor leaders criticized the plan to disrupt the ports, which cost many longshoremen and truck drivers a day's pay. And union officials were irked by Occupy Oakland's claim that it was advancing the cause of port workers even though several unions opposed the protests.

For example, several days before the disruptions, Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, issued a statement warning: "Support is one thing. Organizing from outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another."

Organizers at Occupy Oakland shrugged off the criticism, saying many union leaders are afraid of bold action. The Occupy movement, they say, is doing more for working people than some unions and union leaders are.

"You can't co-opt labor issues if you are in the working class," said Boots Riley, 40, a rap musician with the Coup who helped plan the port shutdown. "The organizers of this movement are the working class, and these are issues that belong to the working class. No one has a copyright on working-class struggles."

Occupy Oakland led the push to shut West Coast ports, holding conference calls two or three times a week with as many as 40 Occupy protesters in cities from San Diego to Seattle to plan and coordinate the disruptions. Occupy Oakland also sent $1,000 each to four other West Coast Occupy groups to help finance outreach and organizing for the port shutdowns.

The Oakland protesters also made regular visits to the longshore union's hiring hall in San Francisco to gather support from rank-and-file workers. They printed 50,000 fliers about the protest and went to the Oakland port, one of the nation's busiest, to distribute them and talk to nonunion truck drivers.

"The Occupy movement is a union for the 99 percent, and certainly for the 89 percent of working people who are not in unions," said Barucha Peller, 28, an unemployed writer who helped plan and rally support for the port shutdown.

The Occupy strategists said they were carrying on the struggle of longshore workers at the Longview port, who have been pressing EGT, a terminal operator, to hire longshoremen instead of workers from another union. A court had imposed a strict injunction against illegal activity by the longshore union after some members had engaged in violent protests.

But the Occupy planners also knew that they had chosen a target that was symbolic of multinational corporations, including the investment bank Goldman Sachs, which owns a major interest in a company that operates many port terminals. They also figured that disrupting ports was relatively easy and likely to bring them lots of attention.

While the protests drew support from some port workers, others were dismayed by the disruptions.

"They're taking money out of my pocket," said Lee Ranaldson, 63, a nonunion trucker from Cleveland who said he had been blocked from dropping off his cargo of refrigerated meat for more than 12 hours. "Who are the leaders of this thing and what do they want?"

Some union leaders noted wryly that the Occupy movement - after gratefully accepting major donations of money, food, sleeping bags and winter clothing from labor unions - had repeatedly warned unions not to seek to co-opt them.

With the port effort, the Occupy movement suddenly seemed to be engineering protests and work stoppages on its own, essentially co-opting the unions' cause instead of working with them.

While praising the Occupy movement's goal of helping the 99 percent, Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, faulted the protesters' tactics, saying, "I don't know how you call a strike without involving the union or the workers."

But the Occupy activists said unions were too timid about pushing the interests of workers.

"The 1 percent has been able to write and pass labor laws that are designed to restrict the amount of action that can legally be taken by a union. Most union officials today refuse to challenge those laws," Occupy organizers wrote on a Web site explaining the port shutdown. "It is the responsibility of rank-and-file workers and their allies to escalate the labor struggle. Occupy can spearhead this movement."

Some Occupy participants and labor experts asserted that the longshore union, which they said feared endorsing the protests because of the court injunction and pending contracts, was not really opposed to the port disruptions and was happy to see the Occupy protesters carry on its fight.

"It reminds me of what John L. Lewis, the great mine workers' leader, did when the mine workers engaged in a wildcat strike," said Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "He'd give a wink and a nod."

Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the longshore union, denied there was any such tacit approval and said his union resented the Occupy organizers' assertions that the union was craven.

"It's silly to lecture the I.L.W.U. about being overcautious when the members of this union have always been willing to be courageous and put their bodies on the line," he said.

Malia Wollan reported from Oakland, and Steven Greenhouse from New York.


9) Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq
December 14, 2011

BAGHDAD - One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America's time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.

"I mean, whether it's a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there," Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq. At times, he said, deaths were caused by "grenade attacks on a checkpoint and, you know, collateral with civilians."

The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

The documents - many marked secret - form part of the military's internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers.

Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.

But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here, their frustrations and their frequently painful encounters with a population they did not understand. In their own words, the report documents the dehumanizing nature of this war, where Marines came to view 20 dead civilians as not "remarkable," but as routine.

Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time. Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar, in his own testimony, described it as "a cost of doing business."

The stress of combat left some soldiers paralyzed, the testimony shows. Troops, traumatized by the rising violence and feeling constantly under siege, grew increasingly twitchy, killing more and more civilians in accidental encounters. Others became so desensitized and inured to the killing that they fired on Iraqi civilians deliberately while their fellow soldiers snapped pictures, and were court-martialed. The bodies piled up at a time when the war had gone horribly wrong.

Charges were dropped against six of the accused Marines in the Haditha episode, one was acquitted and the last remaining case against one Marine is scheduled to go to trial next year.

That sense of American impunity ultimately poisoned any chance for American forces to remain in Iraq, because the Iraqis would not let them stay without being subject to Iraqi laws and courts, a condition the White House could not accept.

Told about the documents that had been found, Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the United States military in Iraq, said that many of the documents remained classified and should have been destroyed. "Despite the way in which they were improperly discarded and came into your possession, we are not at liberty to discuss classified information," he said.

He added: "We take any breach of classified information as an extremely serious matter. In this case, the documents are being reviewed to determine whether an investigation is warranted." The military said it did not know from which investigation the documents had come, but the papers appear to be from an inquiry by Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell into the events in Haditha. The documents ultimately led to a report that concluded that the Marine Corps's chain of command engaged in "willful negligence" in failing to investigate the episode and that Marine commanders were far too willing to tolerate civilian casualties. That report, however, did not include the transcripts.

Under Pressure

Many of those testifying at bases in Iraq or the United States were clearly under scrutiny for not investigating an atrocity and may have tried to shape their statements to dispel any notion that they had sought to cover up the events. But the accounts also show the consternation of the Marines as they struggled to control an unfamiliar land and its people in what amounted to a constant state of siege from fighters who were nearly indistinguishable from noncombatants.

Some, feeling they were under attack constantly, decided to use force first and ask questions later. If Marines took fire from a building, they would often level it. Drivers who approached checkpoints without stopping were assumed to be suicide bombers.

"When a car doesn't stop, it crosses the trigger line, Marines engage and, yes, sir, there are people inside the car that are killed that have nothing to do with it," Sgt. Maj. Edward T. Sax, the battalion's senior noncommissioned officer, testified.

He added, "I had Marines shoot children in cars and deal with the Marines individually one on one about it because they have a hard time dealing with that."

Sergeant Major Sax said he would ask the Marines responsible if they had known there had been children in the car. When they said no, he said he would tell them they were not at fault. He said he felt for the Marines who had fired the shots, saying they would carry a lifelong burden.

"It is one thing to kill an insurgent in a head-on fight," Sergeant Major Sax testified. "It is a whole different thing - and I hate to say it, the way we are raised in America - to injure a female or injure a child or in the worse case, kill a female or kill a child."

They could not understand why so many Iraqis just did not stop at checkpoints and speculated that it was because of illiteracy or poor eyesight.

"They don't have glasses and stuff," Col. John Ledoux said. "It really makes you wonder because some of the things that they would do just to keep coming. You know, it's hard to imagine they would just keep coming, but sometimes they do."

Such was the environment in 2005, when the Marines from Company K of the Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton, Calif., arrived in Anbar Province, where Haditha is located, many for their second or third tours in Iraq.

The province had become a stronghold for disenfranchised Sunnis and foreign fighters who wanted to expel the United States from Iraq, or just kill as many Americans as possible. Of the 4,483 American deaths in Iraq, 1,335 happened in Anbar.

In 2004, four Blackwater contractors were gunned down and dragged through the streets of Falluja, their bodies burned and hung on a bridge over the Euphrates. Days later, the United States military moved into the city, and chaos ensued in Anbar Province for the next two years as the Americans tried to fight off the insurgents.

The stress of combat soon bore down. A legal adviser to the Marine unit stopped taking his medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder and stopped functioning.

"We had the one where Marines had photographed themselves taking shots at people," Col. R. Kelly testified, saying that they immediately called the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and "confiscated their little camera." He said the soldiers involved received a court-martial.

All of this set the stage for what happened in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005.

A Tragedy Ensues

That morning, a military convoy of four vehicles was heading to an outpost in Haditha when one of the vehicles was hit by a roadside bomb.

Several Marines got out to attend to the wounded, including one who eventually died, while others looked for insurgents who might have set off the bomb. Within a few hours 24 Iraqis - including a 76-year-old man and children between the ages of 3 and 15 - were killed, many inside their homes.

Townspeople contended that the Marines overreacted to the attack and shot civilians, only one of whom was armed. The Marines said they thought they were under attack.

When the initial reports arrived saying more than 20 civilians had been killed in Haditha, the Marines receiving them said they were not surprised by the high civilian death toll.

Chief Warrant Officer K. R. Norwood, who received reports from the field on the day of the killings and briefed commanders on them, testified that 20 dead civilians was not unusual.

"I meant, it wasn't remarkable, based off of the area I wouldn't say remarkable, sir," Mr. Norwood said. "And that is just my definition. Not that I think one life is not remarkable, it's just -"

An investigator asked the officer: "I mean remarkable or noteworthy in terms of something that would have caught your attention where you would have immediately said, 'Got to have more information on that. That is a lot of casualties.' "

"Not at the time, sir," the officer testified.

General Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar Province, said he did not feel compelled to go back and examine the events because they were part of a continuing pattern of civilian deaths.

"It happened all the time, not necessarily in MNF-West all the time, but throughout the whole country," General Johnson testified, using a military abbreviation for allied forces in western Iraq.

"So, you know, maybe - I guess maybe if I was sitting here at Quantico and heard that 15 civilians were killed I would have been surprised and shocked and gone - done more to look into it," he testified, referring to Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. "But at that point in time, I felt that was - had been, for whatever reason, part of that engagement and felt that it was just a cost of doing business on that particular engagement."

When Marines arrived on the scene to assess the number of dead bodies, at least one Marine thought it would be a good time to take pictures for his own keeping.

"I know I had one Marine who was taking pictures just to take pictures and I told him to delete all those pictures," testified a first lieutenant identified as M. D. Frank.

The documents uncovered by The Times - which include handwritten notes from soldiers, waivers by Marines of their right against self-incrimination, diagrams of where dead women and children were found, and pictures of the site where the Marine was killed by a roadside bomb on the day of the massacre - remain classified.

In a meeting with journalists in October, before the military had been told about the discovery of the documents, the American commander in charge of the logistics of the withdrawal said that files from the bases were either transferred to other parts of the military or incinerated.

"We don't put official paperwork in the trash," said the commander, Maj. Gen. Thomas Richardson, at the meeting at the American Embassy in Baghdad.

The documents were piled in military trailers and hauled to the junkyard by an Iraqi contractor who was trying to sell off the surplus from American bases, the junkyard attendant said. The attendant said he had no idea what any of the documents were about, only that they were important to the Americans.

He said that over the course of several weeks he had burned dozens and dozens of binders, turning more untold stories about the war into ash.

"What can we do with them?" the attendant said. "These things are worthless to us, but we understand they are important and it is better to burn them to protect the Americans. If they are leaving, it must mean their work here is done."

Yasir Ghazi contributed reporting.


10) An Open Letter from America's Port Truck Drivers on Occupy the Ports
Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports
December 12, 2011

We are the front-line workers who haul container rigs full of imported and exported goods to and from the docks and warehouses every day.

We have been elected by committees of our co-workers at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York and New Jersey to tell our collective story. We have accepted the honor to speak up for our brothers and sisters about our working conditions despite the risk of retaliation we face. One of us is a mother, the rest of us fathers. Between the five of us we have 11children and one more baby on the way. We have a combined 46 years of experience driving cargo from our shores for America's stores.

We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people. Thank you "99 Percenters" for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible.

Today's demonstrations will impact us. While we cannot officially speak for every worker who shares our occupation, we can use this opportunity to reveal what it's like to walk a day in our shoes for the 110,000 of us in America whose job it is to be a port truck driver. It may be tempting for media to ask questions about whether we support a shutdown, but there are no easy answers. Instead, we ask you, are you willing to listen and learn why a one-word response is impossible?

We love being behind the wheel. We are proud of the work we do to keep America's economy moving. But we feel humiliated when we receive paychecks that suggest we work part time at a fast-food counter. Especially when we work an average of 60 or more hours a week, away from our families.

There is so much at stake in our industry. It is one of the nation's most dangerous occupations. We don't think truck driving should be a dead-end road in America. It should be a good job with a middle-class paycheck like it used to be decades ago.

We desperately want to drive clean and safe vehicles. Rigs that do not fill our lungs with deadly toxins, or dirty the air in the communities we haul in.

Poverty and pollution are like a plague at the ports. Our economic conditions are what led to the environmental crisis.

You, the public, have paid a severe price along with us.

Why? Just like Wall Street doesn't have to abide by rules, our industry isn't bound to regulation. So the market is run by con artists. The companies we work for call us independent contractors, as if we were our own bosses, but they boss us around. We receive Third World wages and drive sweatshops on wheels. We cannot negotiate our rates. (Usually we are not allowed to even see them.) We are paid by the load, not by the hour. So when we sit in those long lines at the terminals, or if we are stuck in traffic, we become volunteers who basically donate our time to the trucking and shipping companies. That's the nice way to put it. We have all heard the words "modern-day slaves" at the lunch stops.

There are no restrooms for drivers. We keep empty bottles in our cabs. Plastic bags too. We feel like dogs. An Oakland driver was recently banned from the terminal because he was spied relieving himself behind a container. Neither the port, nor the terminal operators or anyone in the industry thinks it is their responsibility to provide humane and hygienic facilities for us. It is absolutely horrible for drivers who are women, who risk infection when they try to hold it until they can find a place to go.

The companies demand we cut corners to compete. It makes our roads less safe. When we try to blow the whistle about skipped inspections, faulty equipment, or falsified logs, then we are "starved out." That means we are either fired outright, or more likely, we never get dispatched to haul a load again.

It may be difficult to comprehend the complex issues and nature of our employment. For us too. When businesses disguise workers like us as contractors, the Department of Labor calls it misclassification. We call it illegal. Those who profit from global trade and goods movement are getting away with it because everyone is doing it. One journalist took the time to talk to us this week and she explains it very well to outsiders. We hope you will read the enclosed article "How Goldman Sachs and Other Companies Exploit Port Truck Drivers."

But the short answer to the question: Why are companies like SSA Marine, the Seattle-based global terminal operator that runs one of the West Coast's major trucking carriers, Shippers' Transport Express, doing this? Why would mega-rich Maersk, a huge Danish shipping and trucking conglomerate that wants to drill for more oil with Exxon Mobil in the Gulf Coast conduct business this way too?

To cheat on taxes, drive down business costs, and deny us the right to belong to a union, that's why.

The typical arrangement works like this: Everything comes out of our pockets or is deducted from our paychecks. The truck or lease, fuel, insurance, registration, you name it. Our employers do not have to pay the costs of meeting emissions-compliant regulations; that is our financial burden to bear. Clean trucks cost about four to five times more than what we take home in a year. A few of us haul our company's trucks for a tiny fraction of what the shippers pay per load instead of an hourly wage. They still call us independent owner-operators and give us a 1099 rather than a W-2.

We have never recovered from losing our basic rights as employees in America. Every year it literally goes from bad to worse to the unimaginable. We were ground zero for the government's first major experiment into letting big business call the shots. Since it worked so well for the CEOs in transportation, why not the mortgage and banking industry too?

Even the few of us who are hired as legitimate employees are routinely denied our legal rights under this system. Just ask our co-workers who haul clothing brands like Guess?, Under Armour, and Ralph Lauren's Polo. The carrier they work for in Los Angeles is called Toll Group and is headquartered in Australia. At the busiest time of the holiday shopping season, 26 drivers were axed after wearing Teamster T-shirts to work. They were protesting the lack of access to clean, indoor restrooms with running water. The company hired an anti-union consultant to intimidate the drivers. Down Under, the same company bargains with 12,000 of our counterparts in good faith.

Despite our great hardships, many of us cannot - or refuse to, as some of the most well-intentioned suggest - "just quit." First, we want to work and do not have a safety net. Many of us are tied to one-sided leases. But more importantly, why should we have to leave? Truck driving is what we do, and we do it well.

We are the skilled, specially-licensed professionals who guarantee that Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart are all stocked with just-in-time delivery for consumers. Take a look at all the stuff in your house. The things you see advertised on TV. Chances are a port truck driver brought that special holiday gift to the store you bought it.

We would rather stick together and transform our industry from within. We deserve to be fairly rewarded and valued. That is why we have united to stage convoys, park our trucks, marched on the boss, and even shut down these ports.

It's like our hero Dutch Prior, a Shipper's/SSA Marine driver, told CBS Early Morning this month: "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

The more underwater we are, the more our restlessness grows. We are being thoughtful about how best to organize ourselves and do what is needed to win dignity, respect, and justice.

Nowadays greedy corporations are treated as "people" while the politicians they bankroll cast union members who try to improve their workplaces as "thugs."

But we believe in the power and potential behind a truly united 99%. We admire the strength and perseverance of the longshoremen. We are fighting like mad to overcome our exploitation, so please, stick by us long after December 12. Our friends in the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports created a pledge you can sign to support us here.

We drivers have a saying, "We may not have a union yet, but no one can stop us from acting like one."

The brothers and sisters of the Teamsters have our backs. They help us make our voices heard. But we need your help too so we can achieve the day where we raise our fists and together declare: "No one could stop us from forming a union."

Thank you.

In solidarity,

Leonardo Mejia
SSA Marine/Shippers Transport Express
Port of Long Beach
10-year driver

Yemane Berhane
Ports of Seattle & Tacoma
6-year port driver

Xiomara Perez
Toll Group
Port of Los Angeles
8-year driver

Abdul Khan
Port of Oakland
7-year port driver

Ramiro Gotay
Ports of New York & New Jersey
15-year port driver


11) U.S. War in Iraq Declared Officially Over
December 15, 2011

BAGHDAD - The United States military officially declared an end to its mission in Iraq on Thursday even as violence continues to plague the country and the Muslim world remains distrustful of American power.

In a fortified concrete courtyard at the airport in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta thanked the more than one million American service members who have served in Iraq for "the remarkable progress" made over the past nine years but acknowledged the severe challenges that face the struggling democracy.

"Let me be clear: Iraq will be tested in the days ahead - by terrorism, and by those who would seek to divide, by economic and social issues, by the demands of democracy itself," Mr. Panetta said. "Challenges remain, but the U.S. will be there to stand by the Iraqi people as they navigate those challenges to build a stronger and more prosperous nation."

The muted ceremony stood in contrast to the start of the war in 2003 when an America both frightened and emboldened by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sent columns of tanks north from Kuwait to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

As of last Friday, the war in Iraq had claimed 4,487 American lives, with another 32,226 Americans wounded in action, according to Pentagon statistics.

The tenor of the hour-long farewell ceremony, officially called "Casing the Colors," was likely to sound an uncertain trumpet for a war that was started to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction it did not have. It now ends without the sizable, enduring American military presence for which many military officers had hoped.

Although Thursday's ceremony marked the end of the war, the military still has two bases in Iraq and roughly 4,000 troops, including several hundred who attended the ceremony. At the height of the war in 2007, there were 505 bases and more than 170,000 troops.

According to military officials, the remaining troops are still being attacked on a daily basis, mainly by indirect fire attacks on the bases and road side bomb explosions against convoys heading south through Iraq to bases in Kuwait.

Even after the last two bases are closed and the final American combat troops withdraw from Iraq by Dec. 31, under rules of an agreement with the government in Baghdad, a few hundred military personnel and Pentagon civilians will remain, working within the American Embassy as part of an Office of Security Cooperation to assist in arms sales and training.

But negotiations could resume next year on whether additional American military personnel can return to further assist their Iraqi counterparts.

Senior American military officers have made no secret that they see crucial gaps in Iraq's ability to defend its sovereign soil and even to secure its oil platforms offshore in the Persian Gulf. Air defenses are seen as a critical gap in Iraqi capabilities, but American military officers also see significant shortcomings in Iraq's ability to sustain a military, whether moving food and fuel or servicing the armored vehicles it is inheriting from Americans or the fighter jets it is buying, and has shortfalls in military engineers, artillery and intelligence, as well.

"From a standpoint of being able to defend against an external threat, they have very limited to little capability, quite frankly," Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the outgoing American commander in Iraq, said in an interview after the ceremony. "In order to defend against a determined enemy, they will need to do some work."

The tenuous security atmosphere in Iraq was underscored by helicopters that hovered over the ceremony, scanning the ground for rocket attacks. Although there is far less violence across Iraq than at the height of the sectarian conflict in 2006 and 2007, there are bombings on a nearly daily basis and Americans remain a target of Shiite militants.

Mr. Panetta acknowledged that "the cost was high - in blood and treasure of the United States, and also for the Iraqi people. But those lives have not been lost in vain - they gave birth to an independent, free and sovereign Iraq."

The war was started by the Bush administration in March 2003 on arguments that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and had ties to Al

that might grow to an alliance threatening the United States with a mass-casualty terrorist attack.

As the absence of unconventional weapons proved a humiliation for the administration and the intelligence community, the war effort was reframed as being about bringing democracy to the Middle East.

And, indeed, there was euphoria among many Iraqis at an American-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. But the support soon soured amid a growing sense of heavy-handed occupation fueled by the unleashing of bloody sectarian and religious rivalries. The American presence also proved a magnet for militant fighters and an Al Qaeda-affiliated group took root among the Sunni minority population in Iraq.

While the terrorist group has been rendered ineffective by a punishing series of Special Operations raids that have killed or captured several Qaeda leaders, intelligence specialists fear that it is in resurgence. The American military presence in Iraq, viewed as an occupation across the Muslim world, also hampered Washington's ability to cast a narrative from the United States in support of the Arab Spring uprisings this year.

Even handing bases over to the Iraqi government over recent months proved vexing for the military. In the spring, commanders halted large formal ceremonies with Iraqi officials for base closings because insurgents were using the events as opportunities to attack troops. "We were having ceremonies and announcing it publicly and having a little formal process but a couple of days before the base was to close we would start to receive significant indirect fire attacks on the location," said Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the military in Iraq. "We were suffering attacks so we stopped."

Across the country, the closing of bases has been marked by a quiet closed-door meeting where American and Iraqi military officials signed documents that legally gave the Iraqis control of the bases, exchanged handshakes and turned over keys.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey of the Army, has served two command tours in Iraq since the invasion in 2003, and he noted during the ceremony that the next time he comes to Iraq he will have to be invited.

"We will stand with you against terrorists and others that threaten to undo what we have accomplished together," General Dempsey said during the ceremony. "We will work with you to secure our common interests in a more peaceful and prosperous region."


12) Occupy Wall Street Protesters Report to Court
December 14, 2011

The line outside the summons court was longer than normal on Wednesday morning, as those accused of the usual offenses, like allowing a dog to wander off a leash or drinking a beer on a public stretch of pavement, were joined by protesters from Occupy Wall Street.

Many of the protesters, numbering nearly 200, had last seen one another in October after their arrests for crossing the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge; they had ridden the same city bus used to transport prisoners, or had shared stories inside a police precinct station house.

On Wednesday, they had another shared experience, passing through two magnetometers on their way to the fourth floor of 346 Broadway, where court cases tend to move swiftly and are often disposed of with small fines or conditional discharges. The court is normally reserved for cases that can safely be categorized as minor and rarely qualify as headline material.

Inside a courtroom, Judge Neil Ross heard pleas. Many defendants agreed to arrangements that will result in their charges being dismissed if they are not arrested within six months. But others declined, saying they wanted to go to trial.

In total, court officials said, 351 summonses were addressed; most of the protesters faced two separate charges. One hundred eighty-two summonses ended with dismissal agreements; 139 will move forward, perhaps to trials. Judge Ross issued 30 arrest warrants but suspended their execution until January.

Protesters had said they would fight every charge, in effect occupying the court system. But on Wednesday, some said that they had decided to accept the dismissal agreements, in part to avoid future court dates.

"I think it could be really stressful," said Rosa Lopez, 27, from Passaic, N.J. "I just wanted to get it over with."

Others said they wanted their day in court. One was Mike Dobsevage, 35, from Danbury, Conn., who said he thought the police had used "trickery, deceit or entrapment" while stopping and arresting the marchers on the bridge. The police said the demonstrators had been warned that taking to the roadway meant that they would face arrest.

Mr. Dobsevage said, "It's better that this is examined in a court of law instead of being hidden away under a sealed charge."

More than 700 people were arrested for the Brooklyn Bridge demonstration on Oct. 1. The stream of defendants through summons court is expected to continue this week.

Several defendants, it turned out, could not appear and had authorized their lawyers to enter pleas on their behalf. Among that group were several students taking midterm exams at distant colleges, a professional musician on tour and one man whose lawyer said he could not attend because he was in the middle of a hunger strike in Washington.

Martin J. Stolar, a lawyer representing several protesters, made a motion to dismiss all of the charges, saying the original summonses had been taken from the court by the police and then returned, which he said "raises questions about the integrity of every single summons."

A prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney's office said the summonses had been removed for the "purpose of supplementing affidavits."

Judge Ross denied Mr. Stolar's motion, saying, "There is nothing to suggest any impropriety."


13) Occupy and the Tasks of Socialists
By Pham Binh
Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist, December 14, 2011

Occupy is a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-merge the socialist and working class movements and create a viable broad-based party of radicals, two prospects that have not been on the cards in the United States since the late 1960s and early 1970s. The socialist left has not begun to think through these "big picture" implications of Occupy, nor has it fully adjusted to the new tasks that Occupy's outbreak has created for socialists. In practice, the socialist left follows Occupy's lead rather than Occupy follow the socialist left's lead. As a result, we struggle to keep pace with Occupy's rapid evolution.

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) mobilized more workers and oppressed people in four weeks than the entire socialist left combined has in four decades. We would benefit by coming to grips with how and why other forces (namely anarchists) accomplished this historic feat.

The following is an attempt to understand Occupy, review the socialist response, and draw some practical conclusions aimed at helping the socialist left become central rather than remain marginal to Occupy's overall direction.

Occupy's Class Character and Leadership

Occupy is more than a movement and less than a revolution. It is an uprising, an elemental and unpredictable outpouring of both rage and hope from the depths of the 99%.

Occupy is radically different from the mass movements that rocked American politics in the last decade or so: the immigrants' rights movement that culminated on May 1, 2006 in the first national political strike since 1886, the Iraq anti-war movement of 2002-2003, and the global justice movement that began with the Battle of Seattle in 1999 and ended on 9/11. All three were led by liberal non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They sponsored the marches, obtained the permits, and selected who could and could not speak from the front of the rallies. Militant, illegal direction action tended to be the purview of adventurist Black Bloc elements or handfuls of very committed activists.

Compared to these three movements, the following differences stand out: Occupy is broader in terms of active participants and public support and, most importantly, is far more militant and defiant. Tens of thousands of people are willing to brave arrest and police brutality. The uprising was deliberately designed by its anarchist initiators to be an open-ended and all-inclusive process, thereby avoiding the pitfalls of the failed conventional single-issue protest model. The "people's mic," invented to circumvent the New York Police Department's (NYPD) ban on amplified sound, means that anyone can be heard by large numbers of people at any time.

One of the most important elements that makes Occupy an uprising and not merely a mass movement is its alleged leaderlessness. Of course as Marxists we know that every struggle requires leadership in some form, and Occupy is no exception. The leaders of Occupy are those who put their bodies on the line at the encampments and get deeply involved in the complex, Byzantine decision-making process Occupy uses known as "modified consensus." Occupy's leaders are those who make the proposals at planning meetings, working groups, and General Assemblies (GAs) that attract enough support to determine the uprising's course of action.

The people leading the uprising are those who are willing to make the biggest sacrifices for it.

Since Occupy is self-organizing and self-led by its most dedicated participants, attempts to make its decision-making process more accessible to those who are not willing or able to dedicate themselves to Occupy 24 hours a day, seven days a week will fall flat. "All day, all week, occupy Wall Street!" is not just a chant, it is a way of life for Occupy's de facto leadership.

This reality has affected the class character of encampment participants, who tend to be either what Karl Marx called lumpenproletariat (long-term homeless, hustlers, drug addicts, and others who have fallen through the cracks of the capitalist edifice) or highly educated (white) students, ex-students, and graduate students. The former joined the encampments not just to eat and sleep in a relatively safe place but also because they hope the uprising will win real, meaningful change. The latter tend to dominate Occupy's convoluted decision-making process and what motivates them is identical to what motivates the lumpenproletarian elements: hope that Occupy will win real, meaningful change. Many of these people are saddled with tremendous amounts of personal debt, have worked two or three part-time jobs simultaneously, or were unable to find work in their field despite their expensive, extensive educations. They were destined to be secure petty bourgeois or well-paid white-collar workers before the ongoing fallout from the 2008 crisis claimed their futures and put their backs against the wall. This is the material reality underpinning the determination of Occupy participants to keep coming back despite repeated arrests, beatings, and setbacks. Their determination is the stuff revolutions are made of.

The advantage of Occupy's structure and form is that the Democratic Party, liberal NGOs, and union leaders have been unable to co-opt the uprising before it exploded into over 1,000 American towns and cities and targeted President Obama. The disadvantage is that it limits Occupy geographically to places where authorities will tolerate encampments and sociologically to the least and most privileged sections of the population, to those who have no where else to go besides the encampments and to those who can afford to camp out for weeks at a time.

The undocumented immigrant who works 60 hours a week and the wage slave who works 40 hours a week will find it very difficult to shape Occupy's decision-making process. Attempts to scrap Occupy's existing structures and forms to make them more accessible to those other than full-time occupiers carry two inherent risks: 1) opening it up to forces that would love nothing more than to turn the uprising's fighters into foot soldiers for Obama's 2012 campaign and 2) diminishing the power wielded by Occupy's most dedicated participants. In places where Occupy does not take the form of a permanent encampment its decision-making process can be even more diffuse and difficult to participate in.

OWS's Birth and the Socialist Response

The socialist left did not cover OWS in its daily publications until after NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna pepper sprayed cornered women on a sidewalk near Union Square on September 24. The Socialist Equality Party's coverage on its World Socialist Web Site began on September 26, the Party for Socialism and Liberation's (PSL) coverage in Liberation News began on September 27, the International Socialist Organization's (ISO) first article appeared in Socialist Worker on September 28, and Solidarity's initial discussion began on October 3.

This tardiness reflected the socialist left's deep-seated skepticism at a protest without demands, a rally without a permit, OWS's talk of prefiguring a future non-capitalist society in an outdoor camp in the middle of Manhattan's financial district, and a "leaderless" "horizontal" process. The preponderance of these anarchist elements, combined with the socialist left's theoretical sophistication and political preconceptions, led to a "wait and see" approach that consigned us to the role of rearguard, not vanguard.

The uprising succeeded not only in spite of its alleged weaknesses but because of them. Repression from above and determination from below combined to win Occupy mass support in the weeks after September 24. The socialist left made OWS a priority and moved beyond sending its members to OWS organizing meetings in early October as the unions,, and other left-liberal groups mobilized for the October 5 march of over 20,000 to protest the NYPD's bait-and-arrest operation on the Brooklyn Bridge the previous Saturday.

Socialists on Anarchist Terrain

Occupy is undoubtedly related to the "occupy everything, demand nothing" trend that appeared in student mobilizations against budget cuts to higher education in 2009-2010. David Graeber, the anarchist OWS organizer who coined "we are the 99%", pointed out how anarchism informs Occupy's refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of state and corporate authorities and its insistence on direct action, direct democracy, non-hierarchical organizing, consensus, and prefigurative politics.

The task for the socialist left with respect to these issues is to understand 1) how and why these methods dominate the uprising and 2) what to do about it.

Anarchist practices have become widespread because success breeds imitation. Just as the 1917 Russian revolution a century ago spawned communist workers' parties with tens of thousands of members hoping to imitate the Bolshevik example in their own countries, so today the thousands of people inspired to imitate OWS in their own towns and cities copied what proved in practice to be an effective means of bringing tens of thousands of workers and oppressed people into motion, the socialist left's criticisms notwithstanding. In the weeks following September 17 OWS's facilitation working group, which is tasked with running the New York City GA, trained organizers all over the country in the modified consensus process with dozens of video sessions broadcast over in addition to face-to-face sessions with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of OWS participants. Many of these trainees then traveled to other cities or returned to their home cities to launch new occupations.

Occupy is the vanguard of the 99% and OWS is the "vanguard of the vanguard," to borrow an expression of Leon Trotsky's. OWS's vanguard role explains why its methods prevail over those preferred by more traditional organizations such as unions, liberal NGOs, and socialist groups.

The socialist left must learn to navigate Occupy's anarchist terrain if we hope to shape and lead the uprising instead of being shaped and led by it. Trying to overturn existing practices in favor of Roberts Rules of Order, majority voting, and formally electing leaders by making proposals along these lines at GAs will fail because Occupy participants have not been shown by example that these methods are superior.

In short, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and if it is broke, show and prove what a better model looks like.

The reality of OWS is that the "horizontal" modified consensus method, the GA, and the spokescouncil are all highly dysfunctional but not fatally so (at least at this stage). Prior to the eviction, many OWS working groups began secretly hoarding street donations they received from the GA's official finance working group (FWG) because they put lots of money into the general fund but faced serious hurdles in getting any money out of it for badly needed items due to OWS's protracted, bureaucratic decision-making process. Also, because FWG administers over $500,000 in internet donations, many working groups saw no need to contribute to a fund flush with cash and resented what amounted to a one-way cashflow.

The money hoarding was part of a divide that emerged between full-time occupiers who felt disenfranchised and eventually boycotted the GA on the one hand and movement types (many of whom did not sleep in Liberty Park) who believed that the modified consensus process was the single most important element of the uprising on the other. This divide manifested itself geographically with the emergence of a "ghetto" and a "gentrified" area that was captured in a Daily Show segment.

The spokescouncil structure approved by the New York City GA, aimed at alleviating its frustrating and undemocratic logjams, simply transferred those problems to the spokescouncil while not significantly improving the GA's process. All of these problems worsened after Mayor Michael Bloomberg evicted OWS from Liberty Park and OWS did not contest the eviction by returning there, a blow the uprising is still struggling to recover from (an improved encampment is planned for a new location).

Although the socialist left might see these problems as a vindication of its dim view of modified consensus and Occupy's decision-making process generally, the task of socialists is not be vindicated but to aid the uprising in overcoming its stumbling blocks with practical solutions arising from the experiences of Occupy participants that utilize the uprising's existing framework, infrastructure, and terminology.

Instead of proposing at a GA or a working group to scrap modified consensus from the outset, a more fruitful approach would be to raise process reform proposals only after building close relationships with fellow activists through joint work. If (or when) they become frustrated with the shortcomings of modified consensus, a suggestion to modify the 90% approval margin necessary to overcome a block to a two-thirds margin or 50% plus one might then become appealing.

The difficult, painful, and protracted process of trial and error cannot be skipped. We may be right about the shortcomings of modified consensus, but only peoples' direct experience will prove it conclusively.

Socialists and Occupy Working Groups

Every local Occupy has working groups organized around a wide variety of tasks, a reflection of Arun Gupta's observation that "all occupations are local." The challenges facing OWS are not the same as Occupy Philadelphia, Portland, Mobile, or Nashville. OWS has over 40 working groups, some of which were forced to transform after the eviction (sanitation became focused on housing, for example) due to new circumstances. Local Occupys have adapted OWS's model to their local needs and created a dozen or so working groups such as labor, demands, direct action, security, medical, food/kitchen, comfort, internet, media, and facilitation.

The socialist left has generally limited its participation in Occupy to a handful of working groups, usually those engaged in what Ross Wolfe of Platypus correctly described as mental labor - demands, labor outreach, direct action - and shied away from the physical labor or "grunt work" done by security, comfort, medical, and food/kitchen. This is problematic because it cedes the majority of working groups to the influence of other political forces (anarchists and liberals), inadvertently creating "Red ghettos."

Prioritizing groups devoted to mental as opposed to manual labor is predicated on the false notion that running a kitchen or securing tents to sustain occupiers is less political or less important than talking about demands or ideological issues. When Genora Dollinger led the Flint sit-down strike in 1936, feeding strikers hot food was just as crucial to beating General Motors as picket lines were. Without one the other was impossible. The example of post-eviction OWS bears this out as well. At this stage of the uprising's development, mass mobilizations and political discussions have no launching point or organizing center without a physical occupation, and the physical occupation of a space requires a lot of "grunt work."

The socialist left must be involved with all of Occupy's aspects and develop a reputation for being the most committed, most serious, most effective fighters. Only on that basis will we be able to effectively influence people and steer the uprising's course.

Anarchists and the Black Bloc

One stark difference between Occupy and its great dress rehearsal, the global justice movement, is the role played by Black Bloc (BB) and the broader anarchist reaction to BB. BB (not an organized group but a tactic) came to the fore of Occupy for the first time during the November 2 Oakland general strike called in response to the police department's crackdown that left Iraq veteran Scott Olsen in the hospital with a serious brain injury (he was hit in the face with a tear gas canister).

The first notable BB incident was the vandalism at Whole Foods and major banks during the November 2 day time marches. The second incident occurred when BB led a failed attempt to seize the Traveler's Aid Society (TAS) later that evening after the general strike succeeded in shutting down Oakland's port with a 10,000-strong throng. Although related, these two incidents should be examined separately because they involve different issues and had different dynamics.

The vandalism at Whole Foods seemed like a replay of BB's infamous Starbucks window-smashings in 1999 that came to (unfairly) symbolize the global justice movement. Things turned out differently this time when BB's actions touched off physical fights among demonstrators, with people shouting and eventually throwing objects at BB when they refused to stop damaging the property of Whole Foods and other corporate behemoths along the march route. BB acted with impunity in the global justice movement because the mantra of "diversity of tactics" prevailed, which, in practice, meant no one had the right to tell anyone else what they could or could not do even if their actions damaged the movement as a whole. This childish attitude has given way to a much more serious approach by Occupy participants who feel a strong sense of ownership over the uprising and will not allow adventurists to wreck it.

The Whole Foods incident led to thoughtful criticisms of BB's actions in the context of Occupy from fellow anarchists. This marks a significant turning point in the maturation of American anarchism. The socialist left needs to incorporate this reality into its Occupy strategy.

Later that evening, 150 people led by BB occupied TAS, an empty building that became vacant as a result of recent budget cuts. After dropping a banner in celebration of the easy seizure of TAS, the crowd of occupiers swelled to 700 or so. They erected barricades at the two nearest intersections and set them on fire when hundreds of Oakland riot police appeared (the cops kept a low profile throughout the day). The fires and small barricades blocking the street did nothing to stop police from marching on TAS and arresting those who stayed to defend it (many BB fled to avoid arrest).

The reaction within the anarchist camp to the TAS debacle was even more visceral than to the Whole Foods incident. A local street medic blasted the BB members for fleeing the scene they helped create and a post on San Francisco Indymedia's website presumably from those who led the seizure defending the action drew intensely critical comments slamming their political and tactical failures during the short-lived occupation. Kim Lehmkuhl even went so far as to describe the fire-starters as faux-anarchists, provocateurs, and used other profanity-laced pejoratives unfit for a political publication to describe their actions.

By contrast, the socialist left's criticism of the TAS occupation focused on process rather than substance. Todd Chretien wrote in Socialist Worker that the action's organizers failed to participate in much less win the approval of Oakland's GA, that they underestimated the police, and "sought to replace the power of mass unity with the supposed heroism of an elite."

These mistakes are irrelevant to why the TAS occupation failed. This line of argument is one of many indications that the socialist left may not fully understand how Occupy works.

The overwhelming majority of actions, especially direct actions, that Occupy engages in are not approved by GAs. Autonomous groups (sometimes working groups officially recognized by local GAs, sometimes not) call actions, and occupiers choose to get on board or not. If every group with an idea for an action had to get GA approval, said action would simply never happen because of the bureaucratic nature of the modified consensus process when used by large groups. Expecting anarchists, especially BB, to come to a GA for approval before taking action is not realistic, nor is it a viable strategy for dealing with the very real problem of adventurist trends within Occupy. Furthermore, the TAS occupation was not an attempt to hijack or disrupt an explicitly non-violent march by an ultra-left minority as the Whole Foods incident was.

OWS itself began with the "heroism of an elite," the 100-200 people who risked arrest by sleeping in Liberty Park starting on September 17 to make their point. Without their heroic action, the "mass unity" of the Occupy uprising would never have been born.

The TAS occupation failed because:

1) They didn't sneak into the building and begin quietly building fortifications inside to hold it. Instead they celebrated the seizure by blaring dance music, unfurling a large banner on the side of the building, and dropping hundreds of leaflets from above. This attracted the attention of the local media and alerted the Oakland police to the situation, which gave them time to muster their forces for an attack at the time of their choosing.

2) After celebrating their victory publicly, TAS occupiers set up ineffective, tiny barricades (not more than a two or three feet tall) strewn across the two nearest intersections. Neither of these barricades were manned with enough occupiers to hold those positions.

3) The mini-barricades were set on fire but not physically defended from the slow, methodical police advance.

Hundreds of people outside BB got involved in an exciting action that was ill conceived, poorly executed, and an avoidable failure due more to the organizers' inexperience (no doubt this was their first time trying to seize a building with hundreds of people) than any horribly elitist ultra-left politics. Setting up barricades was a necessity, but their placement on the outside of the building half a block away with a few dozen defenders (who set them ablaze) did nothing in terms of accomplishing the goal of holding TAS. If 150-700 people unobtrusively barricaded themselves inside of the building and held it until the next day, TAS could have been a big victory and opened a new chapter in the uprising which, thus far, has depended on seizing and holding outdoor locations for mass assemblies.

Our tasks with respect to the anarchists are twofold: 1) to work with them in neutralizing adventurists and ultra-lefts when their activities threaten Occupy as a whole and 2) to out-compete them in daring, audacity, creativity, improvisation, and revolutionary elan in the most friendly, collaborative, and comradely manner possible.

Only when we do both will we truly be contending for leadership of the Occupy uprising and fulfilling our duties as socialists.

Reds and Blue

One of the socialist left's most consistent criticisms of Occupy has concerned the issue of the police. PSL's Liberation News ran an article entitled, "Are the police forces part of the 99% or tools of the 1%?" The Internationalist Group attributed the predominance of whites at OWS to its "line" on the police: "A main reason why there are relatively few black and Latino participants in Occupy Wall Street is this positive attitude toward the police, who day-in and day-out persecute the oppressed." Socialist Worker correspondent Danny Lucia concluded an article entitled "Officer not-at-all-friendly" this way:

I'll ask the same question now to all those chanting and blogging about the police being part of the 99 percent. When you chant and blog support for the cops, when you publicly speculate that maybe deep down the cops really like you, how does that make you appear to your darker-skinned comrades in the movement who have no doubts about how the police feel about them?
The New York City ISO even held a public meeting on the topic: "Our Enemies in Blue: Why the Police Are Not Part of the 99%."

Socialists are duty-bound to object to politics, strategy, tactics, and slogans we believe harm or impede movements of the oppressed and exploited. On this point there can be no debate.

However, the socialist left's objections on this issue are not rooted in the needs of the uprising but in our desire to "teach" Occupy Marxist orthodoxy. According to the socialist left, OWS was and is too friendly to the police, when, in reality, OWS had the opposite problem: hostility to the NYPD was so strong that incidents of groping, sexual assaults, and rapes that began almost from day one of the occupation went unreported for weeks. This practice changed as the incidents escalated and occupiers realized it could not be handled "internally." (When such reports were filed, the NYPD blamed the victims, creating an opportunity for OWS to link up with SlutWalk.)

None of the daily socialist publications acknowledged or seemed to be aware of this development within Occupy, nor did they offer any practical guidance on what to do about the sexual assaults that plagued occupations across the country.

The socialist left objects to the inclusion of the rank-and-file of the police force in what Occupy calls "the 99%" by which the uprising means everyone outside the wealthiest 1% who destroyed the economy, paid themselves, and rigged the political system. These objections have been framed in a problematic way; the issues have been mixed up and, as a result, Occupy's "friendliness" towards the police in the face of repression appears to be stupidity, insanity, or both. For example, Lucia wrote in the article quoted previously:

Maybe the horrifying [police] attack on Iraq vet Scott Olsen and the rest of Occupy Oakland will finally settle the debate inside the movement about whether or not the police are on our side. Up until now, some protesters have been determined to maintain sympathy for the cops despite the near-constant harassment of many encampments.
No act of police violence will "finally settle the debate" about whether the police are part of the 99% because there is no debate, at least within Occupy. The police rank-and-file are part of the 99%. They are the part of the 99% that keep the rest of the 99% in line at the behest of the 1%. The police rank-and-file are professional class traitors. Shouting "you are the 99%!" at them drives that point home far better than calling them "pigs" or "our enemies in blue." PSL's juxtaposition, "are the police forces part of the 99% or tools of the 1%?" is false because they are both. It is not a case of either-or.

To argue that the police are "not part of the 99%" means to argue that they are somehow part of the 1%, a radically and demonstrably false notion. This explains why the socialist left's argument on this issue has gained zero ground within Occupy despite all the beatings, arrests, abuse, and brutality.

Where the police rank-and-file fit into the 99%-1% dichotomy is separate from questions like whether Occupy should march in defense of police pensions or if shouting "you are the 99%!" or "join us" at the police is something Occupy should do. These are the live issues facing Occupy that the socialist left should be discussing and providing a political lead on instead of criticizing who occupiers maintain "sympathy" for.

Occupy is absolutely correct in its openness to including rank-and-file cops in a struggle against the 1%. This correctness has been proven in practice many times over. Police in Albany resisted pressure from Democratic Governor Anthony Cuomo to clear and arrest occupiers. Retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis joined OWS and was arrested in full uniform during the November 17 day of action; he carries a sign that reads, "NYPD: Don't Be Wall Street Mercenaries."

It is precisely because the uprising says, "you too, officer, are part of the 99%" that Christopher Rorey, a black officer with the DeKalb County Police Department, emailed Occupy Atlanta for help fighting the unjust foreclosure of his family's home. Occupy Atlanta sent a dozen occupiers, delaying the foreclosure temporarily. Now the bank (government-owned Fannie Mae) is taking legal action to force Rorey to turn over all email correspondence between his family and Occupy Atlanta, as if evicting them was not enough.

If the socialist left's "line" on the police prevailed in Occupy and the uprising treated rank-and-file cops as "the enemy," none of these things would have happened. If officer Rorey is not part of the 99%, then Occupy Atlanta is guilty of betraying our cause and siding with "our enemies in blue."

No single socialist publication has mentioned Rorey's case in any of its articles on Occupy and the police because doing so would force them to answer the most basic of political questions: which side are you on?

Occupy Atlanta was not afraid to pick officer Rorey's side and we should not be afraid to either.

As socialists we should be going out of our way to organize actions that might split the police along class lines or cause them disciplinary problems. Cases like Rorey's are a golden opportunity. It offers us the exceedingly rare possibility of fanning the flames of discontent within the police force, between the rank-and-file cop and his bosses, between the police force and the 1% they work for.

The tension between the police and their political bosses became evident after the Oakland police union issued a scathing rebuke to Oakland's Democratic Mayor Jean Quan who ordered them to clear Occupy Oakland and then tried to distance herself from the crackdown after they nearly killed Iraq veteran Scott Olsen and provoked a general strike. Imagine the difficulty that would have emerged within the Atlanta police department if they had been ordered to clear the house of a fellow officer, his family, and "pro cop" occupiers.

It is for these strategic reasons that Occupy the Hood founder Malik Rhaasan spoke positively about the prospect of marching on NYPD headquarters in defense of their pensions. Such an action would put the NYPD in the awkward position of possibly pepper-spraying and arresting a "pro cop" march. Rhaasan's position should also serve as a warning to disproportionately white socialist groups not to use the suffering of oppressed peoples at the hands of the police to make bogus arguments about Occupy and the police.

The task of socialists is not to "teach" Occupy that the police are "our enemies in blue." Our task is to overcome the police as a repressive force, to neutralize them, as U.S. Marine and Iraq veteran Shamar Thomas did when he stopped 30 cops from arresting peaceful Occupy protesters at a massive Times Square OWS demonstration. Thomas shamed them, implied they were cowards, and told them there was "no honor" in brutalizing the very people they are supposed to protect. He utilized the contradiction between the stated purpose of the police and their actual purpose to impede police repression on behalf of our real enemies, the ruling class.

The Danger of the Democratic Party

After the socialist left recognized the importance of Occupy and got on board, it began warning of the danger of being co-opted by the Democratic Party. A typical example was Dan La Botz's article "Occupy the Democratic Party? No Way!" which used current and historical events to make a very strong case against the Democrats but did not offer any practical guidance on how to avoid being taken over (aside from just saying "no" to the drug known as the Democratic Party).

This type of negative "don't do the following" or "it would be a mistake if" advice to Occupy is common for socialist publications. Danny Lucia's "Co-opt-upy Wall Street?" in Socialist Worker had a detailed account of how the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) broke promises made in joint meetings with OWS organizers when it took over the November 17 march to ensure there would be no traffic disruption on the Brooklyn Bridge or grassroots people's mic speakouts at the closing rally. (Given SEIU's union-busting in the health care industry on the West Coast, this betrayal should come as no surprise.) Lucia argues SEIU's actions were part and parcel of its strategy to maximize the vote for the Democrats and minimize Occupy's militancy.

However, the practical conclusion Lucia draws about how OWS should deal with this is to, "not to turn away from organized labor, whose participation in OWS in New York City has been one of the movement's biggest strengths." He continued:

OWS has breathed new life into a labor movement that has been in retreat for decades. At the rank-and-file level, the Occupy movement was a lightning rod for many people who have been looking for a way to take action. ... Continuing that engagement with labor will be important for the future of the Occupy movement. And within unions, it will serve as a counter-weight against officials who want labor to go back to mobilizing only for the polls-rather than for the protests that have galvanized people around the country in a long overdue struggle against the One Percent.

These arguments are correct so far as they go, but they do not go far enough. These are not concrete, practical conclusions. Of course Occupy should not abandon its work with unions (no one in OWS is in favor of doing so), but refusing to shun unions in general does nothing specific to prevent SEIU from hijacking future marches. Should OWS organize any future actions in conjunction with SEIU since they have proven they cannot be trusted, especially as the 2012 elections approach? Should SEIU representatives be allowed to attend OWS logistics meetings? If SEIU tries to hijack another action, what should OWS do? March somewhere else? Hold an ad hoc GA to discuss a potential course of action?

The article says not a word on these burning questions.

The task of the socialist left is not simply to warn and advise Occupy about the danger of being co-opted by the Democratic Party (a danger that is keenly felt by a large number of participants, including liberals) but to propose, organize, and lead Occupy actions against individual Democratic politicians and the party as a whole, thereby creating facts on the ground that will make co-optation difficult or impossible.

For example, after Congressman Charlie Wrangel visited OWS to "show support," OWS marched on his office because he voted in favor of a free-trade agreement with South Korea. In New Hampshire (a blue state), Obama was "mic checked" for his silence on the police brutality directed at Occupy and his refusal to do anything about the banksters' ongoing destruction of the American economy. Jesse La Greca, who famously destroyed a Fox News reporter in an unaired interview that went viral, called for occupying the offices of "worthless Blue Dog" Democrats like Senators Ben Nelson and Max Baucus. OWS has also gone after an Obama fundraiser and the 2012 Democratic National Convention will also be a likely Occupy target (the host city has already tried to ban Occupy actions).

These actions are a reflection of the fact that Occupy is a rebellion against policies the Democratic and Republican parties have implemented for four decades, that most of the mayors who ordered crackdowns on encampments are Democrats, and that the uprising exploded under a Democratic president that millions of Occupy participants voted for in the hopes that he would govern differently than his predecessors had. For these reasons the uprising does not see sharp distinctions between the two parties, unlike the 2002-2003 anti-war movement.

This is not to suggest that the danger of co-optation is nonexistent but to point out that Occupy's self-led self-organized nature does not lend itself to Wisconsin-style derailment (where the socialist left did not create popular bodies like GAs that could have served as authoritative counterweights to the union leaders and provided the basis for an Oakland-style general strike). Just as Occupy created new and unexpected forms, so too will the Democratic Party's intervention into Occupy come in a form that is new and unexpected.

We must do everything possible to hinder that eventuality. Deeds, not words, agitation, not propaganda, are decisive now.

Given Occupy's fluidity, the socialist left should be careful about ruling any course of action out. An attempt to "Occupy the Democratic Party" is not necessarily a road for activists out of militant struggle and into the voting both. For example, Occupy activists might decide to copy the example of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which held an integrated primary and then tried to claim the official segregated delegation's seat at the party's 1964 convention. This was an effort to bring the fight for civil rights into the Democratic Party, not an attempt to trap the civil rights fight in a dead end. We may see Occupy efforts to hold "99% primaries" that ban contributions by corporations and lobbyists and select delegates to the 2012 convention that challenge the legitimacy of the party's official delegates. Such an action would probably be a road out of the Democratic Party since it would prove to thousands of people in practice that the party is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the 1%.

This is hypothetical but Occupy thus far has pulled off many creative and original actions that the socialist left did not foresee but then wholeheartedly supported once they emerged. Failure to be open-minded is what caused us to lag behind Occupy's rise in the first place.

Some Conclusions

The most basic and fundamental task facing socialists is to merge with Occupy and lead it from within. Socialist groups that insist on "intervening" in the uprising will be viewed as outsiders with little to contribute in practice to solving Occupy's actual problems because they will be focused on winning arguments and ideological points rather than actively listening to, joining hands with, and fighting alongside the vanguard of the 99% in overcoming common practical and political.

One difficulty the socialist left faces in accomplishing this basic and fundamental task is the divisions in our ranks that serve in practice to weaken the overall socialist influence within Occupy, thereby strengthening that of the anarchists. They have their Black Bloc, but where is our Red Bloc? Where are the socialist slogans to shape and guide the uprising's political development?

Out of clouds of pepper spray and phalanxes of riot cops a new generation of revolutionaries is being forged, and it would be a shame if the Peter Camejos, Max Elbaums, Angela Davises, Dave Clines, and Huey Newtons of this generation end up in separate "competing" socialist groups as they did in the 1960s. Now is the time to begin seriously discussing the prospect of regroupment, of liquidating outdated boundaries we have inherited, of finding ways to work closely together for our common ends.

Above all else, now is the time to take practical steps towards creating a broad-based radical party that in today's context could easily have thousands of active members and even more supporters. Initiatives like Socialist Viewpoint's [] call for a joint revolutionary socialist organizing committee in the Bay Area is a step in the right direction. We need to take more of those steps, sooner rather than later. The opportunity we have now to make the socialist movement a force to be reckoned with again in this country depends on it.

Anyone who agrees with this conclusion, whether they are in a socialist group or not, and wants to take these steps should email me so we can find ways to work together.

Pham Binh's articles have been published by Occupied Wall Street Journal, The Indypendent, Asia Times Online, Znet, and Counterpunch. His other writings can be found at


14) What Must Be Done Next
A Presentation by Nat Weinstein to the Editorial Committee of Socialist Viewpoint, November 7, 2011

Though all of us have spent our lives trying to build the kind of mass revolutionary party that led the Russian workers to victory in the October Revolution, we are now smaller than we have ever been before.

But even so, we must take into account that our tendency which could be called, Cannonist1 Trotskyism, once numbered in the hundreds reaching a pinnacle of around 1,500 around the time I joined the SWP in 1945, and once again in the mid-1970s.

Now, to make a very long story that we all know short, we are now too small to even function as an organized political organization. What holds us together is our magazine, and small as we are, we try to function as a potential nucleus of a mass revolutionary workers party by participating as a tendency in the mass movement.

But we are hardly an exception to the rule. All self-described revolutionary socialist tendencies have also shrunk. However, there are many more who have gone our separate ways while still claiming to be the nucleus of a mass revolutionary party.

As you all know, I tend to be more optimistic than most. But that doesn't necessarily mean that I am oblivious to how much the odds seem to be against us. They are huge. Even so, we have something going for us, which is far more powerful than our most powerful enemies and opponents-history is on our side!

Just a glance at the world today speaks louder than thousands of words. And I don't have to tell you what it means to us here in this room today. With world capitalism and its imperialist ruling classes facing the broadest and deepest economic crisis in world history, the relation of class forces is on its way toward shifting away from the ruling classes and castes, and towards the workers of the world and their natural allies coming together to fight for their common interests. This promises to become a tidal shift, of tsunami proportions, in the class relation of forces.

As most everyone knows, the tide of history has been running against us since shortly after the Second World War, when global capitalism decided in 1944, with the allied victory in sight, to adopt Keynesian economic policies. This set into motion more than 60 years of false capitalist prosperity.

In fact, there can be little doubt that this artificially contrived period of relative capitalist equilibrium is over and cannot be brought back to life. But as long as capitalism lives, the ruling class will use every means at its disposal to keep itself alive.

On the other hand, we cannot deny that though there is no permanent solution to global capitalism's economic, political and military crises, the ruling class will still try to extend its life span by further slashing mass living standards. This is their only way to raise the falling average rate of profit high enough to postpone their inevitable collapse for as long as possible.

The capitalist class has been successful for longer than we had imagined possible. And, it will continue to squeeze the working class and their natural allies until there is a revolutionary response and the working class emerges as the leading force in this new global uprising.

A large number of the unemployed have already joined the objectively anti-capitalist occupy movement. But they are not necessarily acting in the name of their class. Rather, they see themselves as natural allies of the working class.

On the other hand, even workers who think they are "middle class" are beginning to realize deep down, that they are workers. That's why when the working class takes the road of class struggle in their own name, as they did during the 1930s in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, the unemployed, inspired by the sharpening class struggle, will tend to enlist in the strike struggles of their class on its picket lines. In other words, when workers and their unions take the road of class struggle, the unemployed change from being the reserve army of labor, who are used by the bosses against striking workers, into their exact opposite-into powerful allies of the working class.

Striking workers have more than one way of educating those who have yet to become conscious that they are an organic part of the working class. They are taught the easy way or the hard way that what's good for workers in struggle is good for all workers, employed or unemployed, whether they know it or not.

What must be done next

Now that we have described as well as we can the changing character of mass consciousness, we need to get down to the nitty-gritty of what we must do next. I think we socialists are all more or less of the same mind in this regard. Small and weak as we may be, we still have many-hundreds of potential revolutionary socialist allies here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I have already told comrades at least one thing I think we can try to do: That is, try to form something like a nucleus of a Joint Committee of Revolutionary Socialists. One of the comrades, who participated in the shutting down of the Oakland port for a day, told me that a slogan seemed to be circulating among some in the crowd calling for a Workers United Front. It seems to me at least, that such an option is premature and could not get off the ground at the present time.

Though we can expect that workers and their unions may be ready for class struggle action sooner than we think, they still have to suffer more than they already have before they are ready to risk becoming a part of the growing army of the unemployed.

It seems more realistic to begin the way I have proposed-the formation of a Joint Committee of Revolutionary Socialists-since at the present time there is not a mass response by workers and their unions. American workers don't even have a mass reformist workers party. In other words, mass worker consciousness lags far behind the rapidly rising consciousness of them and their natural allies in the "occupy" movement. But on the other hand, the upsurge is catching. And is very likely to spread fast.

Let me explain why I think that the formation of something like a Joint Committee of Revolutionary Socialists is not at all a far-out proposition even though we are too small to try to set it in motion by ourselves. In fact, such a committee could put some meat on our scrawny bones.

We need to talk to those of our allies we think would listen to what we have to say. I think it fair to say that there are potential supporters of our common cause among the handful of independents who we work with. There are groups like Socialist Action, International Bolshevik Tendency, Freedom Socialist Party, and others who share many of the same ideas in response to the "occupy" movement. These include:

* A deep understanding that the capitalist system cannot be reformed to meet the demands and interests of the overwhelming majority of the people;
* That the U.S. government (national, state, and local) is the creature of the ruling capitalist class and must be replaced by a workers government;
* That true democracy means that workers own and control all production;
* That there are no common interests between the ruling less-than-one percent and the working class;
* That the working class needs its own political party that represents its own interests, including its interest in having a workers government that can represent the 99 percent (the workers and their natural allies);
* That the working class and its allies must break completely with the Democrat and Republican Parties, and establish their own working class parties that are forthrightly opposed to capitalism.

After all, we no longer live in the world of the 20th century. The 21st century has become a very new and different world than the one we have lived through until now.

The decline of Stalinism and the rising credibility of Trotskyism

To be sure, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe was a powerful blow to the revolutionary socialist movement. But it can now be seen that it also has had a positive side effect. Its disintegration confirms the Trotskyist thesis that the socialist revolution must be a worldwide working-class revolution-that either there would be a political revolution in the degenerated and deformed worker' states to lead the way to world revolution-or they would revert back to capitalism.

In other words, the collapse of the Stalinized workers' states has vindicated this prediction of the Trotskyist movement-that a worldwide working-class socialist revolution will have nothing to lose but its capitalist chains.

Comrades, history is on our side, and the revolutionary socialist movement of which we are a part has a world to win.

I will end by telling you a short story about what happened to me when I was a merchant seaman during World War II. One of my many shipmates was a Spanish guy who had been a veteran of the Spanish Civil War and a former syndicalist who was also under the influence of Spain's Stalinists. New as I was to joining the Socialist Workers Party, I tried to defend the Trotskyist political line. In response to my defense of Trotskyism, he said to me something like, "Trotsky was a good man and was a leader of the Bolshevik revolution, but he made the mistake of wanting to start a world revolution everywhere in the world all at once."

Now, strange as it may seem, it's certainly looking like we are at the beginning of the earliest stages of a coming world revolution, pretty much like all at once. Or-more likely-with one revolutionary uprising following very closely after another, and all of them in a relatively short period of time.

1. James Patrick "Jim" Cannon (February 11, 1890-August 21, 1974) was an American Trotskyist and a leader and founder of the Socialist Workers Party.


15) Death Toll Rises From Clashes in Cairo
December 17, 2011

CAIRO - Egypt's military rulers escalated a bloody crackdown on street protesters on Saturday, beating them and setting their tents ablaze, even as the prime minister denied in a televised news conference that security forces were using violence.

The contradiction in the military-led government's statements and actions appeared to represent a shift in strategy by the military council. After trying for months to preserve some credibility and collaboration with the Egyptian political elite, the ruling generals on Saturday scarcely acknowledged the demands of their newly appointed civilian advisory council that that the military cease its violence and apologize to demonstrators.

Instead, as the crackdown on the protest entered its second day, the military council appeared to be playing to those Egyptians impatient with the continuing protests and eager for a return stability. Crowds of supporters turned out downtown on Saturday morning to cheer on the military police, hand them drinks of water and help them close off Tahrir Square from demonstrators massing to get in.

The prime minister, Kamal Ganzouri, issued his denial that the military had or would use force in a news conference on Saturday morning after more than 24 hours of street fighting in front of the military-occupied Parliament building that left nine dead from bullet wounds and hundreds wounded. For more than twelve hours on Friday, men in plain clothes, accompanied by a few in uniform, stood on top of the "people's assembly" and hurled chunks of concrete and stone taken from inside the building down at the crowd of demonstrators several stories below.

On Saturday morning, another parliamentary building adjacent to Tahrir Square burst into flames, although it was unclear how the blaze started. Firefighters guarded by rows of military police officers struggled for hours to put it out.

The military-led cabinet said in a statement that protesters had deliberately set fire to the building, which housed an archive of historical books and documents, while protesters said it had caught fire while under military control. The protesters had made heavy use of Molotov cocktails and set fire to a Transportation Ministry building the night before, although men atop the military-controlled office buildings were also seen hurling gasoline bombs.

Around the same time the fire broke out, several witnesses said, hundreds of military police officers in riot gear had finally chased the demonstrators from in front of the Parliament building into Tahrir Square and then cleared the square of a small tent city of demonstrators. They burned the tents, leaving Tahrir Square in flames and sending a thick plume of black smoke curling over downtown.

Many witnesses said that the charging soldiers had used clubs to beat anyone they could catch, including passers-by. A young woman getting off a bus and trying to catch a taxi to work was grabbed by soldiers and thrown to the ground, before a group of passers-by rescued her and tucked into her a passing vehicle.

As the military police grabbed a man by the arms near the Egyptian Museum, he shouted, "I don't have anything to do with that, I was just going to work!"

Over the next several hours, phalanxes of military police officers repeatedly assaulted the square, temporarily retreating and then charging back in.

The sirens of ambulances squealed from inside the square. "Take care! They will beat anyone," a man in a suit shouted as he fled the square toward a Nile bridge before an advancing line of military police.

Video shown on a private Egyptian television network in the morning showed several military police officers using batons to beat civilians as they lay on the ground of Tahrir Square, and one appeared to be unconscious.

Elsewhere in the city, thousands turned out to mourn a religious scholar from Al Azhar, the premier center of Sunni Muslim scholarship, who was killed the day before. "Yes, we are chanting inside Al Azhar, down with military rule," mourners intoned during a funeral procession.

There were reports that new protests against military rule had also broken out in Alexandria, Egypt's second-largest city.

The military's newly established advisory council, an assembly of about 30 prominent citizens and political leaders intended to give the legitimacy of a civilian face to the generals' authority, voiced new protests against the continued crackdown.

After the group suspended its operations in protest on Friday, Amr Moussa, a presidential candidate who is perhaps the council's most prominent member, said Saturday that he was suspending his own membership as well. Abu al-Ila Madi, an influential Islamist and the council's vice chairman, said he quit.

Mr. Ganzouri, the military-appointed prime minister and a former prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, said at his news conference that the only acts of violence were arson and vandalism committed by the protesters. Contradicting the accounts of civilian witnesses, he said that soldiers had come out on Friday only to protect the Parliament and cabinet buildings.

He acknowledged several deaths from bullet wounds but, in an echo of the Mubarak government's public relations, blamed unnamed third parties and said no one in the military had fired a weapon.

"The events taking place in the streets aren't a revolution," he said. "They're an attack on the revolution."

When a journalist asked about the widespread reports of indiscriminate beatings by military police, Mr. Ganzouri upbraided him: "Don't repeat what you saw in media. Don't say violence, there was no violence. What does your conscience tell you?"

In a separate statement, the military council said that the soldiers had charged into Tahrir Square in self defense after "thugs" had shot at military officers. "We have never and we will never target the revolutionaries of Egypt," the statement said, adding that the protests "were not met with anything except self-control until the last escalation, which compelled stopping those outlaws."

In another statement late in the afternoon, the military rulers responded to the demands of their civilian advisory council by expressing "sorrow" over the bloody events of the previous day. The statement said the military was taking "all necessary measures" to stop the violence by building a concrete barrier dividing the protesters from the security guards protecting the Parliament and cabinet buildings. It pledged that an investigation would reveal "the reality of the situation."

The statement, however, fell short of the apology the council had demanded. And it suggested that the military-led government had been a powerless neutral bystander during the deadly clashes of the night before, even though much of the violence directed at the demonstrators, including the rain of rocks from atop the Parliament building, had come from areas under the military's control.

Many civilian critics of the military rulers argue that the government should be able to disperse an unruly crowd without killing nine people or days of street fighting.

There are signs, however, that at least some Egyptians are ready to side with the military against the disruption of more protests. A call-in show on a private television station interviewed a woman with a heavily bandaged head who told the story of her beating by military police Friday morning. But most of the viewers who called in criticized her instead of the military, urging her to go home and stop ruining the country.

In the chaos on the downtown streets on Saturday, it was easy to overhear similar arguments. "Why are you here?" one man asked another near the burning archive.

"I feel bad for the people who were killed, I feel bad for the sheik from Al Azhar," came the answer.

"But I can't cross the square when I am going to work," the first man implored. "You are delaying life."

Mayy el Sheik and Dina Saleh Amer contributed reporting.


16) Occupy the Food System
By Willie Nelson, Reader Supported News
December 17, 2011

Thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement, there's a deeper understanding about the power that corporations wield over the great majority of us. It's not just in the financial sector, but in all facets of our lives. The disparity between the top 1 percent and everyone else has been laid bare - there's no more denying that those at the top get their share at the expense of the 99 percent. Lobbyists, loopholes, tax breaks... how can ordinary folks expect a fair shake?

No one knows this better than family farmers, whose struggle to make a living on the land has gotten far more difficult since corporations came to dominate our farm and food system. We saw signs of it when Farm Aid started in 1985, but corporate control of our food system has since exploded.

From seed to plate, our food system is now even more concentrated than our banking system. Most economic sectors have concentration ratios hovering around 40 percent, meaning that the top four firms in the industry control 40 percent of the market. Anything beyond this level is considered "highly concentrated," where experts believe competition is severely threatened and market abuses are likely to occur.

Many key agricultural markets like soybeans and beef exceed the 40 percent threshold, meaning the seeds and inputs that farmers need to grow our crops come from just a handful of companies. Ninety-three percent of soybeans and 80 percent of corn grown in the United States are under the control of just one company. Four companies control up to 90 percent of the global trade in grain. Today, three companies process more than 70 percent of beef in the U.S.; four companies dominate close to 60 percent of the pork and chicken markets.

Our banks were deemed too big to fail, yet our food system's corporations are even bigger. Their power puts our entire food system at stake. Last year the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Justice (DOJ) acknowledged this, hosting a series of workshops that examined corporate concentration in our farm and food system. Despite the hundreds of thousands of comments from farmers and eaters all over the country, a year later the USDA and DOJ have taken no action to address the issue. Recent decisions in Washington make clear that corporate lobbyists have tremendous power to maintain the status quo.

In November, the Obama administration delivered a crushing blow to a crucial rule proposed by the USDA (known as the GIPSA rule), which was meant to level the playing field for independent cattle ranchers. The large meatpackers, who would have lost some of their power, lobbied hard and won to leave the beef market as it is - ruled by corporate giants. In the same month, new school lunch rules proposed by the USDA that would have brought more fresh food to school cafeterias were weakened by Congress. Food processors - the corporations that turn potatoes into French fries and chicken into nuggets - spent $5.6 million to lobby against the new rules and won, with Congress going so far as agreeing to call pizza a vegetable. Both decisions demonstrate that corporate power wins and the health of our markets and our children loses.

Despite all they're up against, family farmers persevere. Each and every day they work to sustain a better alternative - an agricultural system that guarantees farmers a fair living, strengthens our communities, protects our natural resources and delivers good food for all. Nothing is more important than the food we eat and the family farmers who grow it. Corporate control of our food system has led to the loss of millions of family farmers, destruction of our soil, pollution of our water and health epidemics of obesity and diabetes.

We simply can't afford it. Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations.


17) Indian Point: The Next Fukushima?
December 16, 2011

Santa Monica, Calif.

NINE months after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan and set off the world's worst radiation crisis since Chernobyl, the Japanese government finally announced on Friday that the plant's reactors had been stabilized.

But federal regulators have yet to absorb the lessons from this crisis. The owners of the Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester County, 25 miles north of New York City, are asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend their operating licenses for 20 years. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo strongly opposes those renewals.

However unlikely, the possibility of a major meltdown at a plant in the United States can't be dismissed. And yet Gregory B. Jaczko, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told Bloomberg last week that there would be enough time for millions of people in the region to get away "because nuclear accidents do develop slowly, they do develop over time, and we saw that at Fukushima."

But even if that were true, many might never be able to return. Some 160,000 Japanese are still displaced because the radioactive contamination - in an area far less populated and less dense than the New York area - was so intense and far-reaching. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's cost-benefit analyses for Indian Point and other nuclear plants in the United States do not factor in these possibilities. The consequences of land contamination should be weighed in any decision to re-license the plant's two reactors, which are up for renewal in 2013 and 2015.

The reason the contamination is so long-lasting is that Cesium 137, the most dangerous isotope released in a severe accident, has a half-life of 30 years. A contaminated area - one that was, say, four times above the maximum permissible post-accident radiation level for human habitation - would stay above that level for nearly a human lifetime.

The standard for a mandatory evacuation at Fukushima was set at about 20 times the maximum radiation level allowed for normal operation. That is not a life-threatening level, but it is high enough that the International Commission on Radiation Protection warns against year-round human habitation.

Hundreds of square miles around Chernobyl, site of a meltdown in 1986, are still off-limits. The Japanese evacuated a comparable area northwest of the Fukushima site. It's not practical to decontaminate an area that large, and few people are going to want to live there even if they are allowed to.

Dr. Jaczko said it was unlikely that a nuclear accident would require prompt action beyond "more than a few miles." That might be correct in terms of avoiding immediate health effects from radiation (though after Fukushima, he advised United States citizens in Japan to stay at least 50 miles away from the reactors). But his remark does not begin to capture the human and economic devastation in Japan. At Fukushima, some areas more than 25 miles from the reactors were contaminated beyond the mandatory evacuation level.

The lack of attention to possible land contamination is a major gap in the American system of nuclear safety regulation. After Fukushima, it should be the main safety concern - and one that is not addressed by evacuation, no matter how efficient.

A severe accident at Indian Point, whose two reactors opened in 1974 and 1976, is a remote but real possibility. We've had two severe accidents with large releases of radioactivity in the past. The Chernobyl accident was dismissed in Western countries on the grounds that it was the product of Soviet sloppiness and "couldn't happen here." But the Fukushima accident involved reactors built to American designs.

The essential characteristic of this technology is that the reactor's uranium fuel - about 100 tons in a typical plant - melts quickly without cooling water. The containment structures surrounding the reactors - even the formidable-looking domes at Indian Point - were not designed to hold melted fuel because safety regulators 40 years ago considered a meltdown impossible.

They were wrong, and we now know that radioactive material in the melted fuel can escape to contaminate a very large area for decades or more. It doesn't make sense to allow such a threat to persist a half-hour's drive from our nation's largest city.

Victor Gilinsky, an energy consultant, was a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 1975 to 1984.


18) Request for Recusal Denied in Case Against Manning
December 17, 2011

FORT MEADE, Md. - An Army appeals court has rejected the defense's effort to remove the presiding officer in the military hearing for the soldier accused of the largest leak of classified material in American history.

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals said late Friday that the case against the soldier, Pfc. Bradley Manning, would go forward with Lt. Col. Paul Almanza as the presiding officer.

The defense had accused Colonel Almanza, an Army Reserve officer and Justice Department prosecutor, of bias and requested that he step aside. Colonel Almanza rejected the request and refused to suspend the case pending an appeal.

Private Manning, a former intelligence analyst who had served in Baghdad, is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatically sensitive items - including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, State Department cables and a classified military video of a 2007 American helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 11 men, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

The Obama administration says the released information has threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and has strained America's relations with other governments.

At a hearing earlier on Friday, Private Manning made his first appearance in public after 19 months in detention. He appeared slight but serious in Army fatigues and dark-rimmed glasses, taking notes during the proceedings and answering straightforwardly when called upon by Colonel Almanza.

Private Manning, a native of Crescent, Okla., who turned 24 on Saturday, is relying on a defense that will argue that leaking much of the classified information posed no risk.

In addition to the bias claims, Private Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, argued that Colonel Almanza wrongly denied the defense's request to call as witnesses the officials who marked the material, which WikiLeaks later published, as secret. Instead, the officer accepted unsworn statements from those people, Mr. Coombs said.

The tangling on Friday, however, centered primarily on Colonel Almanza's job at the Justice Department.

"I don't believe I'm biased," Colonel Almanza said, explaining that his government work concerned child exploitation and obscenity. He said he had not talked about WikiLeaks or Private Manning with anyone in the department or in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Justice Department has a separate criminal investigation into the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. A federal grand jury is considering whether to indict Mr. Assange on espionage charges, even as he is in Britain fighting a Swedish request that he be extradited because of rape accusations.

Private Manning's hearing at this Army post is open to the public, with limited seating. Mr. Assange's lawyer filed a request on Friday with the Army appeals court seeking two guaranteed seats in the Fort Meade courtroom, one for the lawyer representing WikiLeaks and the other for Mr. Assange's lawyer.

In the courtroom, no civilian recording equipment is allowed. The presiding officer delivers a recommendation as to whether prosecutors have enough evidence to bring a suspect to trial. A military commander makes the final decision.

The case has spawned an international support network of people who believe that the American government has gone too far in seeking to punish Private Manning, and a few dozen protesters showed up outside Fort Meade on Friday to rally on his behalf.

"I plan to march all night tonight and bring as much attention as I can to put the entire country on notice that we have a hero who's standing trial for nothing more than telling the truth," said Dan Choi, a West Point graduate who was discharged from the military after he revealed that he is gay.

Others were less supportive.

"That man did something very wrong," said Mandie Stanley, a 19-year-old who lives on the Army post with her husband, a member of the Air Force. She spotted the protesters and decided to show up with a sign that said "Don't leak classified information, stupid!"

[This is nothing more than the old, "My country; right or wrong" propaganda so prevalent during the U.S. War on]


19) Supreme Court Grants Assange Right to Appeal
December 16, 2011

LONDON - Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks, won a new reprieve on Friday when the Supreme Court here agreed to hear his appeal on an order extraditing him to Sweden to answer accusations of sexual misbehavior.

In the latest maneuver in a legal battle that has lasted over a year, the Supreme Court set his appeal date for February. If the Supreme Court rejects his argument, Mr. Assange will still be able to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, according to a statement by Britain's Crown Prosecution Service, acting for the Swedish prosecutors' office. If that court declined to take the case, he would be returned to Sweden.

Mr. Assange has been living under house arrest at a friend's country mansion in eastern England as the case grinds along. In earlier hearings, his lawyers claimed that sending him to Sweden would be "unfair and unlawful." But three lower courts approved the extradition. The statement from the Supreme Court on Friday said a panel of three senior judges had "granted permission to appeal and a hearing has been scheduled for two days, beginning on February 1, 2012."

Seven judges would hear Mr. Assange's appeal, the statement said, "given the great public importance of the issue raised."

The appeal will revolve around whether the Swedish public prosecutor has the legal power to seek Mr. Assange's extradition. His lawyers maintain that public prosecutors are not judicial authorities and are therefore not entitled to sign arrest warrants.

The Supreme Court ruling was made public on the same day that Bradley Manning made his first appearance in a military courtroom at Fort Meade, Md. An Army private, he is accused of leaking the classified American documents that became the most famous of the WikiLeaks disclosures. Prosecutors have charged him with aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act by providing Mr. Assange's organization with hundreds of thousands of confidential diplomatic cables, military field reports and war videos.

Last year, WikiLeaks' release of the documents dominated the front pages of newspapers across the world, including The New York Times. Mr. Assange depicted those releases as a means of seeking publicity for documents he hoped would reshape the very nature of government.

But in August 2010, as he rode a wave of celebrity, he was accused of sexual molesting, unlawful coercion and rape by two WikiLeaks volunteers in Stockholm who said that consensual encounters with Mr. Assange became nonconsensual.

Mr. Assange appeared for an initial interview with the police there that month, but fled to London before further questioning could be completed, a court here was subsequently told.

Swedish prosecutors decided to issue an Interpol red notice and a European arrest warrant to compel him to return last December but Mr. Assange, who denies the charges, has fought the warrants at every turn.

He was briefly jailed a year ago, before being released on bail and placed under house arrest at the country mansion in eastern England.

Protesters and celebrity supporters - including the socialites Jemima Khan and Bianca Jagger and the journalist John Pilger - have often represented the case as a battle for free speech. Mr. Assange himself has suggested that government forces might be behind the accusations of sexual wrongdoing as a means of silencing him.

A spokesman for Mr. Assange did not immediately return a message seeking comment.


20) At Least 10 Die as Police Clash With Strikers in Kazakhstan
December 16, 2011

MOSCOW - What appeared to be an attempt by local authorities to oust striking oil workers from a square in the former Soviet state of Kazakhstan went horribly wrong on Friday, ending in at least 10 deaths in clashes with the police.

For six months, the normally repressive government had allowed the workers to occupy the square, in the western oil town of Zhanaozen, where they demanded better wages. That changed after the strikers shifted their focus to political demands this week, including the right to form independent parties.

In response, the authorities announced plans to hold a state-sponsored New Year's holiday party for children on the site, apparently in a ruse aimed at providing an excuse to clear out the workers. In an online video said to be shot at the scene, protesters are shown pushing past police lines to dismantle a stage for the party, then overturning a tree decorated for the holiday. It also showed police officers firing into the air.

The confrontation appears to be the most violent in the sprawling former Soviet republic since independence was declared 20 years ago. The country, strategically important to the United States for its enormous oil reserves, has been considered a stable, though repressive, state in the otherwise politically shaky region of Central Asia.

Although its longtime leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is autocratic and intolerant of dissent, he has not had to face open rebellion in a country that has grown wealthier on its oil riches.

The government acknowledged that 10 people had died, though reporters who spoke to people there before communications were cut said there were reports of scores of fatalities as the police shot into the crowd. The authorities did not provide an account of the clash.

By the afternoon, witnesses said, a government building and the headquarters of a state oil company were burning. Even the lower death toll of 10 reported by the government would be the highest loss of life in a protest in Central Asia, the five largely Muslim countries to Russia's south, since the Arab Spring revolts began.

Leaders throughout this region have been unnerved by events in the Middle East, but largely felt that the dynamics were so different that their countries would escape the unrest. This month, thousands of protesters gathered in a square in Moscow in the largest display of dissent in Russia in years. It is unclear if the violence on Friday in Kazakhstan presages more unrest, or will remain a local issue.

Mr. Nazarbayev, a former Soviet apparatchik who took over his country after declaring independence 20 years ago on Dec. 16, which is celebrated as Independence Day in Kazakhstan, had already responded to the toppling of Arab leaders by announcing a move to a multiparty Parliament. Elections are scheduled for January.

The striking oil workers in Zhanaozen had argued with workers erecting the stage, a holiday tree and large felt tents on Thursday. The practice of scheduling events for children, like fairs or circuses, in politically important public spaces has become a common tactic by authoritarian governments in the former Soviet Union to discourage protests.

Askhat Daulbayev, Kazakhstan's prosecutor general, said Friday in televised remarks that "having rudely violated the public order, the protesters attacked the policemen, toppled the New Year's tree, destroyed the yurts placed there because of the holiday, as well as the stage and set a police bus on fire." Mr. Daulbayev said protesters attacked the police "using firearms and cold steel."

Zhana A. Baitelova, a reporter at Respublika, an independent newspaper in Almaty, the commercial capital, said protesters speaking on cellphones described a scene of escalating chaos as the police tried to defend the stage and decorations for the holiday event. "Police used gas at first, then fired in the air, and then it was panic," she said.

"They are trying to make hooligans out of the protesters, saying they attack children," she added. But the town is small, and most residents work in the oil fields. "The children are the children of strikers. This is crazy."

The Echo of Moscow radio station reported that by Friday evening armored personnel carriers were patrolling the town.

Vesti, a Russian television channel, showed video of the smoldering remains of burned cars on the streets.

The oil workers walked off their jobs last spring in a dispute about pay for dangerous work; hundreds were subsequently fired. In July, many began camping in the city square in an indefinite protest, a rare challenge to the government.

The strikes disrupted the output from the company, Kazmunaigaz, but did not spread to Western operations, like Chevron's Tengiz oil field, not far away in the same arid, flat expanse on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea that is the source of Kazakhstan's oil wealth.

A previous version of this article mischaracterized the status of the city of Almaty. It is Kazakhstan's commercial capital, not its administrative capital.


21) Revolt Begins Like Others, but Its End Is Less Certain
December 16, 2011

WUKAN, China - Each day begins with a morning rally in the banner-bedecked square, where village leaders address a packed crowd about their seizure of the village and plans for its future. Friday's session was followed by a daylong mock funeral for a fallen comrade, whose body lies somewhere outside the village in government custody.

It has been nearly a week since the 13,000 residents of this seacoast village, a warren of cramped alleys and courtyard homes, became so angry that their deeply resented officials - and even the police - fled rather than face them. Now, there is a striking vacuum of authority, and the villagers are not entirely sure what to make of their fleeting freedom.

"We will defend our farmland to the death!" a handmade banner proclaims, referring to a possible land deal they fear will strip them of almost all their farmland. "Is it a crime," another muses, "to ask for the return of our land and for democracy and transparency?"

How long they will last is another matter. As the days pass, the cordons of police officers surrounding the village grow larger. Armored trucks and troop carriers have been reported nearby. On local television, a 24-hour channel denounces the villagers as "a handful of people" dedicated to sabotaging public order, with the names of protesters flashing on a blue screen, warning that they will be prosecuted. Many here fear this will all end badly. "The SWAT teams and the police here are acting like they're crime organizations, not police forces," said Chen Dequan, a 50-year-old farmer and fisherman. "The entire village is worried."

The dispute that emptied Wukan of its government officials is, on its face, like hundreds - if not thousands - of others that inspire protests here each year: villagers who believe their land was taken illegally take to the streets when their concerns are ignored.

But the suspicious death of a well-liked villager, who was selected to negotiate on the citizens' behalf, appears to have turned this long-simmering grievance into a last-straw standoff with the authorities.

The land deal inspiring the protests involved one of China's largest property developers, a Hong-Kong listed company called Country Garden that prides itself on fast-paced construction in mostly suburban areas. Yang Huiyuan, described by analysts as the company's chairwoman, is often listed as one of the richest women in China.

The company has faced controversy before. Xinhua, China's official news agency, said this year that it had bought Anhui Province land to build a golf course in a deal that smacked of "the typical collusion of real estate business and local government." The agency's signed commentary said more than 10 government officials had been punished after that transaction and other cases of illegal purchases and use of land there.

Here in Wukan, many residents believed that the national government had not yet intervened to resolve matters simply because it had been misled by nefarious local officials to believe that all was well.

So far, however, it seems from inside this locked-down village that government leaders at all levels are flummoxed at their blue-moon, if temporary, loss of control.

Lin Zuluan, 67, a retired businessman who is now the village's de facto leader, said that officials had approached him to negotiate an end to the protest, but that talks had gone nowhere, in part because the officials would not meet villagers' demands to return all their land.

"I do have concerns" over the lack of progress, he said. "But I do believe this country is ruled by law, so I do believe the central government will do whatever it has to do to help us."

In the meantime, life here goes on in an aura of unreality as much as uncertainty, a mixture of grief and optimism and somewhat willful ignorance of the hints of trouble at every police roadblock and on every news broadcast.

Inside the village, citizens hail foreign journalists as visiting saviors, bombarding them with endless cigarettes, bowls of rice-and-seafood porridge and free rides on the backs of scooters. The villagers bristle at the government's suggestion that they are being financed by unnamed foreigners, but are convinced that only reporting outside the state-run press will bring word of their plight to leaders in Beijing.

Corruption accusations against Country Garden, the developer, go back for years. In 2007, the Southern Weekly newspaper alleged irregularities in a hotel construction contract awarded to the company by a district government in Zhangjiajie, in Hunan Province. The paper suggested that the government heavily discounted the project's land cost because most of Country Garden's payment was secretly diverted to a company in which two Country Garden officials had invested.

In a faxed statement Friday, Country Garden said both the other projects in Anhui and Hunan were wholly aboveboard. The firm said the Anhui deal was free of corruption and the Zhangjiajie contract was awarded through open, transparent bidding. Officials have contended that the money supposedly diverted was in fact spent for legitimate public purposes related to the project.

In Wukan, two people familiar with the Country Garden proposal said the company planned to buy at least 134 acres of land for villa homes and shopping centers here. About half of that land is controlled by Fengtian Livestock, a pig-raising firm that holds a 50-year lease issued by the government; the rest is apparently in villagers' hands.

Chen Wenqing, the livestock firm's owner, said Country Garden was negotiating directly with the local authorities last spring when the deal fell through over a difference on price. Country Garden said it had intended to build a project but has signed no agreements.

But Mr. Lin, the retired businessman, said villagers became angry in September when they saw construction work at the pig-farm site. Officials of Lufeng city, a district that controls Wukan, ordered the building stopped, he said, and asked villagers to select a committee of locals to settle the controversy.

Negotiations to return the land to villagers produced little, however. On Dec. 9, unidentified men abducted one of the negotiators, a 42-year-old leather worker named Xue Jinbo, and four other men from a local restaurant.

The other four soon turned up in nearby jails, accused of inciting villagers to subvert the government. Mr. Xue was seen only on the night of Dec. 11, when local government officials summoned relatives to view his body at a mortuary.

They said that he had died of a heart attack in a hospital and that medical records of his care would be provided.

But family members say officials confiscated their mobile telephones before allowing them into the funeral home, apparently to prevent them from taking photographs. Mr. Xue's nose was caked with blood, his body was black with bruises and his left thumb was broken, apparently pulled backward to the breaking point, one of them, a nephew named Xue Ruiqiang, said on Friday in an interview.

Word of Mr. Xue's death brought the villagers into the streets and sent members of the village committee that was involved in the land negotiations fleeing.

Mr. Xue's 21-year-old daughter, Xue Jianwan, said before the service that her father "was a straightforward man who always stood up for people."

"Mom said that if he hadn't been such a straightforward person, he probably wouldn't have ended up like this," she added.

Shi Da contributed research from Wukan, and Mia Li from Beijing. Sharon LaFraniere and Jonathan Ansfield contributed reporting from Beijing.


22) As Permafrost Thaws, Scientists Study the Risks
December 16, 2011

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - A bubble rose through a hole in the surface of a frozen lake. It popped, followed by another, and another, as if a pot were somehow boiling in the icy depths.

Every bursting bubble sent up a puff of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas generated beneath the lake from the decay of plant debris. These plants last saw the light of day 30,000 years ago and have been locked in a deep freeze - until now.

"That's a hot spot," declared Katey M. Walter Anthony, a leading scientist in studying the escape of methane. A few minutes later, she leaned perilously over the edge of the ice, plunging a bottle into the water to grab a gas sample.

It was another small clue for scientists struggling to understand one of the biggest looming mysteries about the future of the earth.

Experts have long known that northern lands were a storehouse of frozen carbon, locked up in the form of leaves, roots and other organic matter trapped in icy soil - a mix that, when thawed, can produce methane and carbon dioxide, gases that trap heat and warm the planet. But they have been stunned in recent years to realize just how much organic debris is there.

A recent estimate suggests that the perennially frozen ground known as permafrost, which underlies nearly a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere, contains twice as much carbon as the entire atmosphere.

Temperatures are warming across much of that region, primarily, scientists believe, because of the rapid human release of greenhouse gases. Permafrost is warming, too. Some has already thawed, and other signs are emerging that the frozen carbon may be becoming unstable.

"It's like broccoli in your freezer," said Kevin Schaefer, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. "As long as the broccoli stays in the freezer, it's going to be O.K. But once you take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge, it will thaw out and eventually decay."

If a substantial amount of the carbon should enter the atmosphere, it would intensify the planetary warming. An especially worrisome possibility is that a significant proportion will emerge not as carbon dioxide, the gas that usually forms when organic material breaks down, but as methane, produced when the breakdown occurs in lakes or wetlands. Methane is especially potent at trapping the sun's heat, and the potential for large new methane emissions in the Arctic is one of the biggest wild cards in climate science.

Scientists have declared that understanding the problem is a major priority. The United States Department of Energy and the European Union recently committed to new projects aimed at doing so, and NASA is considering a similar plan. But researchers say the money and people devoted to the issue are still minimal compared with the risk.

For now, scientists have many more questions than answers. Preliminary computer analyses, made only recently, suggest that the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions could eventually become an annual source of carbon equal to 15 percent or so of today's yearly emissions from human activities.

But those calculations were deliberately cautious. A recent survey drew on the expertise of 41 permafrost scientists to offer more informal projections. They estimated that if human fossil-fuel burning remained high and the planet warmed sharply, the gases from permafrost could eventually equal 35 percent of today's annual human emissions.

The experts also said that if humanity began getting its own emissions under control soon, the greenhouse gases emerging from permafrost could be kept to a much lower level, perhaps equivalent to 10 percent of today's human emissions.

Even at the low end, these numbers mean that the long-running international negotiations over greenhouse gases are likely to become more difficult, with less room for countries to continue burning large amounts of fossil fuels.

In the minds of most experts, the chief worry is not that the carbon in the permafrost will break down quickly - typical estimates say that will take more than a century, perhaps several - but that once the decomposition starts, it will be impossible to stop.

"Even if it's 5 or 10 percent of today's emissions, it's exceptionally worrying, and 30 percent is humongous," said Josep G. Canadell, a scientist in Australia who runs a global program to monitor greenhouse gases. "It will be a chronic source of emissions that will last hundreds of years."

A troubling trend has emerged recently: Wildfires are increasing across much of the north, and early research suggests that extensive burning could lead to a more rapid thaw of permafrost.

Rise and Fall of Permafrost

Standing on a bluff the other day, overlooking an immense river valley, A. David McGuire, a scientist from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, sketched out two million years of the region's history. It was the peculiar geology of western North America and eastern Siberia, he said, that caused so much plant debris to get locked in an ice box there.

These areas were not covered in glaciers during the last ice age, but the climate was frigid, with powerful winds. The winds and rivers carried immense volumes of silt and dust that settled in the lowlands of Alaska and Siberia.

A thin layer of this soil thawed on top during the summers and grasses grew, capturing carbon dioxide. In the bitter winters, grass roots, leaves and even animal parts froze before they could decompose. Layer after layer of permafrost built up.

At the peak of the ice age, 20,000 years ago, the frozen ground was more extensive than today, stretching deep into parts of the lower 48 states that were not covered by ice sheets. Climate-change contrarians like to point to that history, contending that any melting of permafrost and ice sheets today is simply the tail end of the ice age.

Citing permafrost temperatures for northern Alaska - which, though rising rapidly, remain well below freezing - an organization called the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change claimed that permafrost is in "no more danger of being wiped out any time soon than it was in the days of our great-grandparents."

But mainstream scientists, while hoping the breakdown of permafrost will indeed be slow, reject that argument. They say the climate was reasonably stable for the past 10,000 years or so, during the period when human civilization arose. Now, as people burn immense amounts of carbon in the form of fossil fuels, the planet's temperature is rising, and the Arctic is warming twice as fast. That, scientists say, puts the remaining permafrost deposits at risk.

For several decades, researchers have been monitoring permafrost temperatures in hundreds of boreholes across the north. The temperatures have occasionally decreased in some regions for periods as long as a decade, but the overall trend has been a relentless rise, with temperatures now increasing fastest in the most northerly areas.

Thawing has been most notable at the southern margins. Across huge areas, including much of central Alaska, permafrost is hovering just below the freezing point, and is expected to start thawing in earnest as soon as the 2020s. In northern Alaska and northern Siberia, where permafrost is at least 12 degrees Fahrenheit below freezing, experts say it should take longer.

"Even in a greenhouse-warmed world, it will still get cold and dark in the Arctic in the winter," said Mark Serreze, director of the snow and ice data center in Boulder.

Scientists need better inventories of the ancient carbon. The best estimate so far was published in 2009 by a Canadian scientist, Charles Tarnocai, and some colleagues. They calculated that there was about 1.7 trillion tons of carbon in soils of the northern regions, about 88 percent of it locked in permafrost. That is about two and a half times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Philippe Ciais, a leading French scientist, wrote at the time that he was "stunned" by the estimate, a large upward revision from previous calculations.

"If, in a warmer world, bacteria decompose organic soil matter faster, releasing carbon dioxide," Dr. Ciais wrote, "this will set up a positive feedback loop, speeding up global warming."

Plumes of Methane

Katey Walter Anthony had been told to hunt for methane, and she could not find it.

As a young researcher at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, she wanted to figure out how much of that gas was escaping from lakes in areas of permafrost thaw. She was doing field work in Siberia in 2000, scattering bubble traps around various lakes in the summer, but she got almost nothing.

Then, that October, the lakes froze over. Plumes of methane that had been hard to spot on a choppy lake surface in summer suddenly became more visible.

"I went out on the ice, this black ice, and it looked like the starry night sky," Dr. Walter Anthony said. "You could see these bubble clusters everywhere. I realized - 'aha!' - this is where all the methane is."

When organic material comes out of the deep freeze, it is consumed by bacteria. If the material is well-aerated, bacteria that breathe oxygen will perform the breakdown, and the carbon will enter the air as carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas. But in areas where oxygen is limited, like the bottom of a lake or wetland, a group of bacteria called methanogens will break down the organic material, and the carbon will emerge as methane.

Scientists are worried about both gases. They believe that most of the carbon will emerge as carbon dioxide, with only a few percent of it being converted to methane. But because methane is such a potent greenhouse gas, the 41 experts in the recent survey predicted that it would trap about as much heat as the carbon dioxide would.

Dr. Walter Anthony's seminal discovery was that methane rose from lake bottoms not as diffuse leaks, as many scientists had long assumed, but in a handful of scattered, vigorous plumes, some of them capable of putting out many quarts of gas per day. In certain lakes they accounted for most of the emerging methane, but previous research had not taken them into consideration. That meant big upward revisions were probably needed in estimates of the amount of methane lakes might emit as permafrost thawed.

Most of the lakes Dr. Walter Anthony studies were formed by a peculiar mechanism. Permafrost that is frozen hard supports the ground surface, almost the way a concrete pillar supports a building. But when thaw begins, the ground sometimes turns to mush and the entire land surface collapses into a low-lying area, known as a thermokarst. A lake or wetland can form there, with the dark surface of the water capturing the sun's heat and causing still more permafrost to thaw nearby.

Near thermokarst locations, trees often lean crazily because their roots are disturbed by the rapid changes in the underlying landscape, creating "drunken forests." And the thawing, as it feeds on itself, frees up more and more ancient plant debris.

One recent day, in 11-degree weather, Dr. Walter Anthony and an assistant, Amy Strohm, dragged equipment onto two frozen thermokarst lakes near Fairbanks. The fall had been unusually warm and the ice was thin, emitting thunderous cracks - but it held. In spots, methane bubbled so vigorously it had prevented the water from freezing. Dr. Walter Anthony, six months pregnant, bent over one plume to retrieve samples.

"This is thinner ice than we like," she said. "Don't tell my mother-in-law! My own mother doesn't know."

Dr. Walter Anthony had already run chemical tests on the methane from one of the lakes, dating the carbon molecules within the gas to 30,000 years ago. She has found carbon that old emerging at numerous spots around Fairbanks, and carbon as old as 43,000 years emerging from lakes in Siberia.

"These grasses were food for mammoths during the end of the last ice age," Dr. Walter Anthony said. "It was in the freezer for 30,000 to 40,000 years, and now the freezer door is open."

Scientists are not sure yet whether thermokarst lakes will become more common throughout the Arctic in a warming climate, a development that could greatly accelerate permafrost thaw and methane production. But they have already started to see increases in some regions, including northernmost Alaska.

"We expect increased thermokarst activity could be a very strong effect, but we don't really know," said Guido Grosse, another scientist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He is working with Dr. Walter Anthony on precision mapping of thermokarst lakes and methane seeps, in the hope that the team can ultimately use satellites and aerial photography to detect trends.

With this kind of work still in the early stages, researchers are worried that the changes in the region may already be outrunning their ability to understand them, or to predict what will happen.

When the Tundra Burns

One day in 2007, on the plain in northern Alaska, a lightning strike set the tundra on fire.

Historically, tundra, a landscape of lichens, mosses and delicate plants, was too damp to burn. But the climate in the area is warming and drying, and fires in both the tundra and forest regions of Alaska are increasing.

The Anaktuvuk River fire burned about 400 square miles of tundra, and work on lake sediments showed that no fire of that scale had occurred in the region in at least 5,000 years.

Scientists have calculated that the fire and its aftermath sent a huge pulse of carbon into the air - as much as would be emitted in two years by a city the size of Miami. Scientists say the fire thawed the upper layer of permafrost and set off what they fear will be permanent shifts in the landscape.

Up to now, the Arctic has been absorbing carbon, on balance, and was once expected to keep doing so throughout this century. But recent analyses suggest that the permafrost thaw could turn the Arctic into a net source of carbon, possibly within a decade or two, and those studies did not account for fire.

"I maintain that the fastest way you're going to lose permafrost and release permafrost carbon to the atmosphere is increasing fire frequency," said Michelle C. Mack, a University of Florida scientist who is studying the Anaktuvuk fire. "It's a rapid and catastrophic way you could completely change everything."

The essential question scientists need to answer is whether the many factors they do not yet understand could speed the release of carbon from permafrost - or, possibly, slow it more than they expect.

For instance, nutrients released from thawing permafrost could spur denser plant growth in the Arctic, and the plants would take up some carbon dioxide. Conversely, should fires like the one at Anaktuvuk River race across warming northern landscapes, immense amounts of organic material in vegetation, soils, peat deposits and thawed permafrost could burn.

Edward A. G. Schuur, a University of Florida researcher who has done extensive field work in Alaska, is worried by the changes he already sees, including the discovery that carbon buried since before the dawn of civilization is now escaping.

"To me, it's a spine-tingling feeling, if it's really old carbon that hasn't been in the air for a long time, and now it's entering the air," Dr. Schuur said. "That's the fingerprint of a major disruption, and we aren't going to be able to turn it off someday."


23) California: Judge Rejects Lethal Injection Protocol
December 17, 2011

A judge tossed out California's newly adopted lethal injection protocol on Friday, throwing the state's execution system into further upheaval. Judge Faye D'Opal of Marin County Superior Court in San Rafael ruled that the state had failed to justify the decision to put in place a three-drug lethal injection method, which some experts had said carries a risk of "excruciating pain," instead of a one-drug method, which one of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's own experts had recommended. No executions have been conducted in California since 2006, when a federal judge effectively halted lethal injections, citing various deficiencies in the state's methods. Since then, the state has revamped its execution system, including the construction of a new death chamber specifically for lethal injections. The corrections department declined to comment on the ruling.


24) Occupy Group Faults Church, a Onetime Ally
December 16, 2011

For months, they were the best of neighbors: the slapdash champions of economic equality, putting down stakes in an outdoor plaza, and the venerable Episcopal parish next door, whose munificence helped sustain the growing protest.

But in the weeks since Occupy Wall Street was evicted from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, relations between the demonstrators and Trinity Wall Street, a church barely one block from the New York Stock Exchange, have reached a crossroads.

The displaced occupiers had asked the church, one of the city's largest landholders, to hand over a gravel lot, near Canal Street and Avenue of the Americas, for use as an alternate campsite and organizing hub. The church declined, calling the proposed encampment "wrong, unsafe, unhealthy and potentially injurious."

And now the Occupy movement, after weeks of targeting big banks and large corporations, has chosen Trinity, one of the nation's most prominent Episcopal parishes, as its latest antagonist.

"We need more; you have more," one protester, Amin Husain, 36, told a Trinity official on Thursday, during an impromptu sidewalk exchange between clergy members and demonstrators. "We are coming to you for sanctuary."

Trinity's rector, the Rev. James H. Cooper, defended the church's record of support for the protesters, including not only expressions of sympathy, but also meeting spaces, resting areas, pastoral services, electricity, bathrooms, even blankets and hot chocolate. But he said the church's lot - called Duarte Square - was not an appropriate site for the protesters, noting that "there are no basic elements to sustain an encampment."

"Trinity has probably done as much or more for the protesters than any other institution in the area," Mr. Cooper wrote on his parish Web site. "Calling this an issue of 'political sanctuary' is manipulative and blind to reality. Equating the desire to seize this property with uprisings against tyranny is misguided, at best. Hyperbolic distortion drives up petition signatures, but doesn't make it right."

The criticism of Trinity was coming not only from protesters, but even from some Episcopal priests and other Protestant clergy members.

"Trinity Church had a fantastic opportunity to be a Christlike presence by openings its doors to the protesters," said the Rev. Milind Sojwal, the rector of All Angels Church, an Episcopal parish on the Upper West Side. "And I believe Trinity blew it."

On Thursday, some church leaders and protesters brought a Nativity scene to Trinity's main entrance on Broadway, with a sign attached. "There was no room for them in the inn," it read in part. "Trinity has plenty of room."

Occupy Wall Street plans to hold a demonstration on Saturday at the lot. Some clergy members have said they planned to attend, and a handful said they may join protesters who have discussed taking down the fences around the lot, risking arrest.

"I'm willing to occupy space in an act of civil disobedience in order to shine a light on social and economic injustice," said the Rev. John Merz, of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Trinity is not the first Anglican church to grapple with how to respond to the Occupy movement. In London, protesters have camped outside St. Paul's Cathedral for weeks, and the city has sought to evict them.

So vexing is Trinity's dilemma that one of the world's most prominent Anglicans, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has issued two statements on the matter: one posted on the Occupy Wall Street Web site, imploring Trinity to "find a way to help" the protesters, and a second, posted on the Trinity Web site, in which Archbishop Tutu said his comments were "not to be used to justify breaking the law."

Bishop Mark S. Sisk, the Episcopal bishop of New York, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the top official of the denomination nationally, issued statements on Friday supporting Trinity's position.

"It is regrettable that Occupy members feel it necessary to provoke potential legal and police action by attempting to trespass on other parish property," Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said. "Seekers after justice have more often achieved success through nonviolent action, rather than acts of force or arms. I would urge all concerned to stand down and seek justice in ways that do not further alienate potential allies."

Older than the country in which it stands, Trinity has a long and storied history. Alexander Hamilton was once a pew holder. The church shook, amid a storm of debris, as the towers of the World Trade Center fell.

Less known, though, is the church's status as a real estate titan. Since 1705, when Queen Anne of England bequeathed more than 200 acres of what was then farmland to the church, Trinity Real Estate has come to control six million square feet of property, much of it office space around Hudson Square, financing an operation most parishes could never fathom.

"No matter how supportive they may appear to Occupy, no matter how much hospitality they show to Occupy, Trinity Wall Street owns a lot of Lower Manhattan," said Jim Naughton, a longtime observer of Episcopal Church issues who works as a partner at Canticle Communications, a public relations firm. "They're vulnerable in that regard."

On Nov. 15, hours after they were driven from Zuccotti Park, many Occupy Wall Street protesters reconvened at Duarte Square, which some knew to be Trinity's property. Even before the eviction, protesters had asked that Trinity allow them to use the space, said Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for the group.

A portion of Duarte Square, a small sidewalk with leafless trees, is public. But Trinity owns a larger area that is filled with wooden benches and shrubbery. The private area is currently vacant, enclosed by a locked chain-link fence, but the church says it has licensed the property through April 2013 to a nonprofit arts organization, which holds occasional art exhibitions there.

Critics argued that Trinity's resources and influence carried with them an added responsibility. The Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in West Harlem, noted that many churches hung signs from their chapels, welcoming passers-by.

And the Rev. Michael Ellick, of Judson Memorial Church, a Greenwich Village congregation affiliated with the American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ, said Trinity needed to do more.

"Charity is not enough," Mr. Ellick said. "Charity keeps things the same."

Some clergy, though, said Trinity had already exceeded its Christian obligations.

"Trinity has been more than accommodating to a marginal group of protesters," said the Rev. J. Douglas Ousley, of the Church of the Incarnation in Murray Hill, an Episcopal parish.

And Robert Bruce Mullin, a professor at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, said it was easy for other churches to criticize Trinity's use of its property.

"It's cheap grace," he said. "It's great to defend the rights of protesters in someone else's backyard."


25) Libya’s Civilian Toll, Denied by NATO
December 17, 2011

TRIPOLI, Libya — NATO’s seven-month air campaign in Libya, hailed by the alliance and many Libyans for blunting a lethal crackdown by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and helping to push him from power, came with an unrecognized toll: scores of civilian casualties the alliance has long refused to acknowledge or investigate.

By NATO’s telling during the war, and in statements since sorties ended on Oct. 31, the alliance-led operation was nearly flawless — a model air war that used high technology, meticulous planning and restraint to protect civilians from Colonel Qaddafi’s troops, which was the alliance’s mandate.

“We have carried out this operation very carefully, without confirmed civilian casualties,” the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said in November.

But an on-the-ground examination by The New York Times of airstrike sites across Libya — including interviews with survivors, doctors and witnesses, and the collection of munitions remnants, medical reports, death certificates and photographs — found credible accounts of dozens of civilians killed by NATO in many distinct attacks. The victims, including at least 29 women or children, often had been asleep in homes when the ordnance hit.

In all, at least 40 civilians, and perhaps more than 70, were killed by NATO at these sites, available evidence suggests. While that total is not high compared with other conflicts in which Western powers have relied heavily on air power, and less than the exaggerated accounts circulated by the Qaddafi government, it is also not a complete accounting. Survivors and doctors working for the anti-Qaddafi interim authorities point to dozens more civilians wounded in these and other strikes, and they referred reporters to other sites where civilian casualties were suspected.

Two weeks after being provided a 27-page memorandum from The Times containing extensive details of nine separate attacks in which evidence indicated that allied planes had killed or wounded unintended victims, NATO modified its stance.

“From what you have gathered on the ground, it appears that innocent civilians may have been killed or injured, despite all the care and precision,” said Oana Lungescu, a spokeswoman for NATO headquarters in Brussels. “We deeply regret any loss of life.”

She added that NATO was in regular contact with the new Libyan government and that “we stand ready to work with the Libyan authorities to do what they feel is right.”

NATO, however, deferred the responsibility of initiating any inquiry to Libya’s interim authorities, whose survival and climb to power were made possible largely by the airstrike campaign. So far, Libyan leaders have expressed no interest in examining NATO’s mistakes.

The failure to thoroughly assess the civilian toll reduces the chances that allied forces, which are relying ever more heavily on air power rather than risking ground troops in overseas conflicts, will examine their Libyan experience to minimize collateral deaths elsewhere. Allied commanders have been ordered to submit a lessons-learned report to NATO headquarters in February. NATO’s incuriosity about the many lethal accidents raises questions about how thorough that review will be.

NATO’s experience in Libya also reveals an attitude that initially prevailed in Afghanistan. There, NATO forces, led by the United States, tightened the rules of engagement for airstrikes and insisted on better targeting to reduce civilian deaths only after repeatedly ignoring or disputing accounts of airstrikes that left many civilians dead.

In Libya, NATO’s inattention to its unintended victims has also left many wounded civilians with little aid in the aftermath of the country’s still-chaotic change in leadership.

These victims include a boy blasted by debris in his face and right eye, a woman whose left leg was amputated, another whose foot and leg wounds left her disabled, a North Korean doctor whose left foot was crushed and his wife, who suffered a fractured skull.

The Times’s investigation included visits to more than 25 sites, including in Tripoli, Surman, Mizdah, Zlitan, Ga’a, Majer, Ajdabiya, Misurata, Surt, Brega and Sabratha and near Benghazi. More than 150 targets — bunkers, buildings or vehicles — were hit at these places.

NATO warplanes flew thousands of sorties that dropped 7,700 bombs or missiles; because The Times did not examine sites in several cities and towns where the air campaign was active, the casualty estimate could be low.

There are indications that the alliance took many steps to avoid harming civilians, and often did not damage civilian infrastructure useful to Colonel Qaddafi’s military. Elements of two American-led air campaigns in Iraq, in 1991 and 2003, appear to have been avoided, including attacks on electrical grids.

Such steps spared civilians certain hardships and risks that accompanied previous Western air-to-ground operations. NATO also said that allied forces did not use cluster munitions or ordnance containing depleted uranium, both of which pose health and environmental risks, in Libya at any time.

The alliance’s fixed-wing aircraft dropped only laser- or satellite-guided weapons, said Col. Gregory Julian, a NATO spokesman; no so-called dumb bombs were used.

While the overwhelming preponderance of strikes seemed to have hit their targets without killing noncombatants, many factors contributed to a run of fatal mistakes. These included a technically faulty bomb, poor or dated intelligence and the near absence of experienced military personnel on the ground who could help direct airstrikes.

The alliance’s apparent presumption that residences thought to harbor pro-Qaddafi forces were not occupied by civilians repeatedly proved mistaken, the evidence suggests, posing a reminder to advocates of air power that no war is cost- or error-free.

The investigation also found significant damage to civilian infrastructure from certain attacks for which a rationale was not evident or risks to civilians were clear. These included strikes on warehouses that current anti-Qaddafi guards said contained only food, or near businesses or homes that were destroyed, including an attack on a munitions bunker beside a neighborhood that caused a large secondary explosion, scattering warheads and toxic rocket fuel.

NATO has also not yet provided data to Libyans on the locations or types of unexploded ordnance from its strikes. At least two large weapons were present at sites visited by The Times. “This information is urgently needed,” said Dr. Ali Yahwya, chief surgeon at the Zlitan hospital.

Moreover, the scouring of one strike site found remnants of NATO munitions in a ruined building that an alliance spokesman explicitly said NATO did not attack.

That mistake — a pair of strikes — killed 12 anti-Qaddafi fighters and nearly killed a civilian ambulance crew aiding wounded men. It underscored NATO’s sometimes tenuous grasp of battle lines and raised questions about the forthrightness and accuracy of the alliance’s public-relations campaign.

The second strike pointed to a tactic that survivors at several sites recounted: warplanes restriking targets minutes after a first attack, a practice that imperiled, and sometimes killed, civilians rushing to the wounded.

Pressed about the dangers posed to noncombatants by such attacks, NATO said it would reconsider the tactic’s rationale in its internal campaign review. “That’s a valid point to take into consideration in future operations,” Colonel Julian said.

That statement is a shift in the alliance’s stance. NATO’s response to allegations of mistaken attacks had long been carefully worded denials and insistence that its operations were devised and supervised with exceptional care. Faced with credible allegations that it killed civilians, the alliance said it had neither the capacity for nor intention of investigating and often repeated that disputed strikes were sound.

The alliance maintained this position even after two independent Western organizations — Human Rights Watch and the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, or Civic — met privately with NATO officials and shared field research about mistakes, including, in some cases, victims’ names and the dates and locations where they died.

Organizations researching civilian deaths in Libya said that the alliance’s resistance to making itself accountable and acknowledging mistakes amounted to poor public policy. “It’s crystal clear that civilians died in NATO strikes,” said Fred Abrahams, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. “But this whole campaign is shrouded by an atmosphere of impunity” and by NATO’s and the Libyan authorities’ mutually congratulatory statements.

Mr. Abrahams added that the matter went beyond the need to assist civilians harmed by airstrikes, though he said that was important. At issue, he said, was “who is going to lose their lives in the next campaign because these errors and mistakes went unexamined, and no one learned from them?”

Human Rights Watch and Civic also noted that the alliance’s stance on civilian casualties it caused in Libya was at odds with its practices for so-called collateral damage in Afghanistan. There, public anger and political tension over fatal mistakes led NATO to adopt policies for investigating actions that caused civilian harm, including guidelines for expressing condolences and making small payments to victims or their families.

“You would think, and I did think, that all of the lessons learned from Afghanistan would have been transferred to Libya,” said Sarah Holewinski, the executive director of Civic, which helped NATO devise its practices for Afghanistan. “But many of them didn’t.”

Choosing Targets

When foreign militaries began attacking Libya’s loyalists on March 19, the United States military, more experienced than NATO at directing large operations, coordinated the campaign. On March 31, the Americans transferred command to NATO.

Seven months later, the alliance had destroyed more than 5,900 military targets by means of roughly 9,700 strike sorties, according to its data, helping to dismantle the pro-Qaddafi military and militias. Warplanes from France, Britain, the United States, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Canada dropped ordnance. Two non-NATO nations, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, participated on a small scale.

France carried out about a third of all strike sorties, Britain 21 percent and the United States 19 percent, according to data from each nation.

The attacks fell under two broad categories. So-called deliberate strikes were directed against fixed targets, like buildings or air-defense systems. These targets were selected and assigned to pilots before aircraft took off.

Deliberate strikes were planned to minimize risks to civilians, NATO said. In Naples, Italy, intelligence analysts and targeting specialists vetted proposed targets and compiled lists, which were sent to an operations center near Bologna, where targets were matched to specific aircraft and weapons.

For some targets, like command bunkers, NATO said, it conducted long periods of surveillance first. Drones or other aircraft chronicled the daily routines at the sites, known as “patterns of life,” until commanders felt confident that each target was valid.

Other considerations then came into play. Targeting specialists chose, for example, the angle of attack and time of day thought to pose the least risk to civilians. They would also consider questions of ordnance. These included the size and type of bomb, and its fuze.

Some fuzes briefly delay detonation of a bomb’s high-explosive charge. This can allow ordnance to penetrate concrete and explode in an underground tunnel or bunker, or, alternately, to burrow into sand before exploding — reducing the blast wave, shrapnel and risk to people and property nearby.

(NATO could also choose inert bombs, made of concrete, that can collapse buildings or shatter tanks with kinetic energy rather than an explosion. NATO said such weapons were used fewer than 10 times in the war.)

Many early strikes were planned missions. But about two-thirds of all strikes, and most of the attacks late in the war, were another sort: dynamic strikes.

Dynamic strikes were against targets of opportunity. Crews on aerial patrols would spot or be told of a potential target, like suspected military vehicles. Then, if cleared by controllers in Awacs aircraft, they would attack.

NATO said dynamic missions, too, were guided by practices meant to limit risks. On Oct. 24, Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard of Canada, the operation’s commander, described a philosophy beyond careful target vetting or using only guided weapons: restraint. “Only when we had a clear shot would we take it,” he said.

Colonel Julian, the spokesman, said there were hundreds of instances when pilots could have released ordnance but because of concerns for civilians they held fire. Col. Alain Pelletier, commander of seven Canadian CF-18 fighters that flew 946 strike sorties, said Canada installed a special computer software modification in its planes that allowed pilots to assess the likely blast radius around an intended target and to call off strikes if the technology warned they posed too great a risk to civilians.

Colonel Julian also said that NATO broadcast radio messages and that it dropped millions of leaflets to warn Libyans to stay away from likely military targets, a practice Libyan citizens across much of the country confirmed.

A Blow to the Rebels

Civilians were killed by NATO within days of the alliance’s intervention, the available evidence shows, beginning with one of the uglier mistakes of the air war: the pummeling of a secret rebel armored convoy that was advancing through the desert toward the Qaddafi forces’ eastern front lines.

Having survived the first wave of air-to-ground attacks, the loyalists were taking steps to avoid attracting NATO bombs. They moved in smaller formations and sometimes set aside armored vehicles in favor of pickup trucks resembling those that rebels drove. Pilots suddenly had fewer targets.

On April 7, as the rebel armor lined up on a hill about 20 miles from Brega, NATO aircraft struck. In a series of attacks, laser-guided bombs stopped the formation, destroyed the rebels’ armor and scattered the anti-Qaddafi fighters, killing several of them, survivors said.

The attack continued as civilians, including ambulance crews, tried to converge on the craters and flames to aid the wounded. Three shepherds were among them.

As the shepherds approached over the sand, a bomb slammed in again, said one of them, Abdul Rahman Ali Suleiman Sudani. The blast knocked them over, he said. His two cousins were hit.

One, he said, was cut in half; the other had a gaping chest wound. Both died. Mr. Sudani and other relatives returned to the wreckage later and retrieved the remains for burial in Kufra. The men had died, he said, trying to help.

“We called their families in Sudan and told them, ‘Your sons, they have passed away,’ ” he said.

Colonel Julian declined to discuss this episode but said that each time NATO aircraft returned to strike again was a distinct event and a distinct decision, and that it was not a general practice for NATO to “double tap” its targets.

This practice was reported several times by survivors at separate attacks and cited to explain why some civilians opted not to help at strike sites or bolted in fear soon after they did.

Colonel Julian said the tactic was likely to be included in NATO’s internal review of the air campaign.

An Errant Strike

NATO’s planning or restraint did not protect the family of Ali Mukhar al-Gharari when his home was shattered in June by a phenomenon as old as air-to-ground war: errant ordnance.

A retiree in Tripoli, Mr. Gharari owned a three-story house he shared with his adult children and their families. Late on June 19 a bomb struck it squarely, collapsing the front side. The rubble buried a courtyard apartment, the family said, where Karima, Mr. Gharari’s adult daughter, lived with her husband and two children, Jomana, 2, and Khaled, 7 months.

All four were killed, as was another of Mr. Gharari’s adult children, Faruj, who was blasted from his second-floor bed to the rubble below, two of his brothers said. Eight other family members were wounded, one seriously.

The Qaddafi government, given to exaggeration, claimed that nine civilians died in the airstrike, including a rescue worker electrocuted while clearing rubble. These deaths have not been independently corroborated. There has been no dispute about the Gharari deaths.

Initially, NATO almost acknowledged its mistake. “A military missile site was the intended target,” an alliance statement said soon after. “There may have been a weapons system failure which may have caused a number of civilian casualties.”

Then it backtracked. Kristele Younes, director of field operations for Civic, the victims’ group, examined the site and delivered her findings to NATO. She met a cold response. “They said, ‘We have no confirmed reports of civilian casualties,’ ” Ms. Younes said.

The reason, she said, was that the alliance had created its own definition for “confirmed”: only a death that NATO itself investigated and corroborated could be called confirmed. But because the alliance declined to investigate allegations, its casualty tally by definition could not budge — from zero.

“The position was absurd,” Ms. Younes said. “But they made it very clear: there was no appetite within NATO to look at these incidents.”

The position left the Gharari family disoriented, and in social jeopardy. Another of Mr. Gharari’s sons, Mohammed, said the family supported the revolution. But since NATO’s attack, other Libyans have labeled the family pro-Qaddafi. If NATO attacked the Ghararis’ home, the street logic went, the alliance must have had a reason.

Mohammed al-Gharari said he would accept an apology from NATO. He said he could even accept the mistake. “If this was an error from their control room, I will not say anything harsh, because that was our destiny,” he said.

But he asked that NATO lift the dishonor from the family and set the record straight. “NATO should tell the truth,” he said. “They should tell what happened, so everyone knows our family is innocent.”

A ‘Horrible Mistake’

In the hours before his wife and two of their sons were killed, on Aug. 4, Mustafa Naji al-Morabit thought he had taken adequate precautions.

When Colonel Qaddafi’s officers began meeting at a home next door in Zlitan, he moved his family. That was in July. The adjacent property, Mr. Morabit and his neighbors said, was owned by a loyalist doctor who hosted commanders who organized the local front.

About a month later, as rebels pressed near, the officers fled, Mr. Morabit said. He and his family returned home on Aug. 2, assuming that the danger had passed.

Calamity struck two days later. A bomb roared down in the early morning quiet and slammed into their concrete home, causing its front to buckle.

Mr. Morabit’s wife, Eptisam Ali al-Barbar, died of a crushed skull. Two of their three sons — Mohammed, 6, and Moataz, 3 — were killed, too. Three toes on the left foot of Fatima Umar Mansour, Mr. Morabit’s mother, were severed. Her lower left leg was snapped.

“We were just in our homes at night,” she said, showing the swollen leg.

The destruction of their home showed that even with careful standards for target selection, mistakes occurred. Not only did NATO hit the wrong building, survivors and neighbors said, but it also hit it more than two days late.

Mr. Morabit added a sorrowful detail. He suspected that the bomb was made of concrete; there seemed to be no fire or explosion when it struck, he said. NATO may have tried to minimize damage, he added, but the would-be benefits of its caution were lost. “I want to know why,” he said. “NATO said they are so organized, that they are specialists. So why? Why this horrible mistake?”

It is not clear whether the mistake was made by the pilot or those who selected the target. NATO declined to answer questions about the strike.

On Aug. 8, four days after destroying the Morabit home, NATO hit buildings occupied by civilians again, this time in Majer, according to survivors, doctors and independent investigators. The strikes were NATO’s bloodiest known accidents in the war.

The attack began with a series of 500-pound laser-guided bombs, called GBU-12s, ordnance remnants suggest. The first house, owned by Ali Hamid Gafez, 61, was crowded with Mr. Gafez’s relatives, who had been dislocated by the war, he and his neighbors said.

The bomb destroyed the second floor and much of the first. Five women and seven children were killed; several more people were wounded, including Mr. Gafez’s wife, whose her lower left leg had to be amputated, the doctor who performed the procedure said.

Minutes later, NATO aircraft attacked two buildings in a second compound, owned by brothers in the Jarud family. Four men were killed, the family said.

Several minutes after the first strikes, as neighbors rushed to dig for victims, another bomb struck. The blast killed 18 civilians, both families said.

The death toll has been a source of confusion. The Qaddafi government said 85 civilians died. That claim does not seem to be credible. With the Qaddafi propaganda machine now gone, an official list of dead, issued by the new government, includes 35 victims, among them the late-term fetus of a fatally wounded woman the Gafez family said went into labor as she died.

The Zlitan hospital confirmed 34 deaths. Five doctors there also told of treating dozens of wounded people, including many women and children.

All 16 beds in the intensive-care unit were filled with severely wounded civilians, doctors said. Dr. Ahmad Thoboot, the hospital’s co-director, said none of the victims, alive or dead, were in uniform. “There is no doubt,” he said. “This is not fabricated. Civilians were killed.”

Descriptions of the wounds underscored the difference between mistakes with typical ground-to-ground arms and the unforgiving nature of mistakes with 500-pound bombs, which create blast waves of an entirely different order.

Dr. Mustafa Ekhial, a surgeon, said the wounds caused by NATO’s bombs were far worse than those the staff had treated for months. “We have to tell the truth,” he said. “What we saw that night was completely different.”

In previous statements, NATO said it watched the homes carefully before attacking and saw “military staging areas.” It also said that it reviewed the strikes and that claims of civilian casualties were not corroborated by “available factual information.” When asked what this information was, the alliance did not provide it.

Mr. Gafez issued a challenge. An independent review of all prestrike surveillance video, he said, would prove NATO wrong. Only civilians were there, he said, and he demanded that the alliance release the video.

Ms. Younes said the dispute missed an essential point. Under NATO’s targeting guidelines and in keeping with practices the alliance has repeatedly insisted that it followed, she said, if civilians were present, aircraft should not have attacked.

The initial findings on the Majer strikes, part of the United Nations’ investigation into actions by all sides in Libya that harmed civilians, have raised questions about the legality of the attack under international humanitarian law, according to an official familiar with the investigation.

Homes as Targets

NATO’s strikes in Majer, one of five known attacks on apparently occupied residences, suggested a pattern. When residential targets were presumed to be used by loyalist forces, civilians were sometimes present — suggesting holes in NATO’s “pattern of life” reviews and other forms of vetting.

Airstrikes on June 20 in Surman leveled homes owned by Maj. Gen. El-Khweldi el-Hamedi, a longtime confidant of Colonel Qaddafi and a member of his Revolutionary Council. NATO has said the family compound was used as command center.

The family’s account, partly confirmed by rebels, claimed that the strikes killed 13 civilians and wounded six more. Local anti-Qaddafi fighters corroborated the deaths of four of those killed — one of the general’s daughters-in-law and three of her children.

General Hamedi was wounded and has taken refuge in Morocco, said his son Khaled. Khaled has filed a lawsuit against NATO, claiming that the attack was a crime. He said that he and his family were victims of rebel “fabrications,” which attracted NATO bombs.

On Sept. 25, a smaller but similar attack destroyed the residence of Brig. Gen. Musbah Diyab in Surt, neighbors and his family members said.

General Diyab, a distant cousin of Colonel Qaddafi, was killed. So were seven women and children who crowded into his home as rebels besieged the defenses of some of the Qaddafi loyalists’ last holdouts, witnesses said.

By this time, tables in Libya had turned. The remaining loyalists held almost no territory. They were a dwindling, disorganized lot. It was the anti-Qaddafi forces who endangered civilians they suspected of having sympathies for the dying government, residents of Surt said.

On a recent afternoon, Mahmoud Zarog Massoud, his hand swollen with an infection from a wound, wandered the broken shell of a seven-story apartment building in Surt, which was struck in mid-September. His apartment furniture had been blown about by the blast.

He approached the kitchen, where, he said, he and his wife had just broken their Ramadan fast when ordnance hit. “We were not thinking NATO would attack our home,” he said.

Judging by the damage and munitions’ remains, a bomb with a delayed fuze struck another wing of the building, burrowed into another apartment and exploded, blasting walls outward. Debris flew across the courtyard and through his kitchen’s balcony door.

His wife, Aisha Abdujodil, was killed, both her arms severed, he said. Bloodstains still marked the floor and walls.

Provided written questions, NATO declined to comment on the three strikes on homes in Surman and Surt.

C. J. Chivers reported from Libya, and Eric Schmitt from Washington, Brussels and Naples, Italy.