Saturday, January 28, 2012


Kevin Cooper, the Death Penalty, and the Failure of U.S. Criminal Justice System
"The state of California may be about to execute an innocent man." -Justice William A. Fletcher, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Bay Area book tour with J. Patrick O'Connor, author of "SCAPEGOAT: The Chino Hills Murders and the Framing of Kevin Cooper” and "The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal"

Sunday, Feb. 5. - Oakland
6:00 p.m. - dinner/reception with O'Connor and friends at the home of Jeff Mackler, $15.00, call for reservations: 510-268-9429

Monday, Feb 6 - Oakland
10:30 a.m. - Laney College
900 Fallon, Bldg./Rm. G209, Oakland

Tuesday, Feb. 7 - South Bay
12 noon - 1:00 p.m. - Santa Clara Law School
500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053
(Enter on Palm Drive and tell them you are going to Law School for free parking pass and directions)

7:00 p.m. - Peninsula Peace and Justice
(Cable TV show/Public forum)
Community Media Center, 900 San Antonio Rd., Palo Alto. 650-326-8837

Wednesday, Feb. 8 - Oakland
5:30 pm -- KPFA Radio Flashpoints
Tune in at 94.1 FM for interview with Dennis Bernstein

7:00 pm -- Laney College public meeting
Student Center, Fourth Floor, 900 Fallon, Oakland

Thursday, Feb 9 - - Sacramento
10:00 AM -- Capital Public Radio's "Insight" tune in at 90.9 PM
McGeorge School of Law, Sacramento call 51 0-268-9429 for information

UC Davis Law School. Davis
Call 510-268-9429 for information

7:00 pm -- Public forum with Patrick O'Connor and Norman Hile, attorney for Kevin Cooper
Sponsored by WILPF & Sacramento Area Peace Council 909 12th Street, Sacramento

Friday, Feb 10 -- Berkeley
7:00 pm -- UC Berkeley public forum cal! 510- 268-9429 for information

Saturday, Feb. 11, Berkeley
7:30 PM -- Peace and Justice Committee of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists
1924 Cedar St. at Bonita

Sunday, Feb 12, San Jose
2:00 pm -- San Jose Peace and Justice Center 48 S. Seventh St., Suite 101, San Jose, 95112 408-297-2299

For further information contact: 510-268-9429

About the author and speaker:
J. Patrick O’Connor has been the editor and publisher of Crime Magazine ( since 1998. He was a reporter and bureau manager for United Press International, editor of Cincinnati Magazine, and an associate editor for TV Guide. He was editor and publisher of the Kansas City New Times, an alternative newspaper.


We working people--employed, unemployed, partially employed or retired--can't get any economic justice by voting for the One Percent! We need to occupy the elections with our own candidates of, by and for working people! --Bonnie Weinstein


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




[ Please forward *** Please excuse duplicate postings]


WHAT: Occupy San Francisco Action Council Meeting to Kick-Off Planning for San Francisco Participation in the March 1 day of Action followed by March 5th Mass Mobilization to Sacramento


WHEN: Sunday January 29th, 2:45 -- 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Unite Here Local 2, 209 Golden Gate
@ Leavenworth, Just North of 7th and Market (Near Civic Center Bart)



** A Broad-Based Call to Action for the 99%!
** No Cuts! No Concessions! Fully fund education and social services
** Tax the rich
** Support the Millionaires Tax
** Support the Oil Tax to Fund Education (Prop. 1522)
** Reject Jerry Brown's budget
** Defend Free Speech and the Right of Assembly
** End police attacks on Occupy
** Health care for the 99%
** Support workers' rights
** End immigrant scapegoating to cover-up economic injustice

AFT 2121; Alameda Central Labor Council; Berkeley Faculty Association; Berkeley Federation of Teachers; California Federation of Teachers; International Socialist Organization (Northern California); La Raza Centro Legal; Oakland Education Association; Occupy SF Action Council; Occupy Solidarity Network Community Labor and Faith Groups; Occupy Bernal; Occupy CAL; Occupy Education NorCal; Occupy UC Santa Cruz_; Peralta Association of Teacher_; San Lorenzo Education; San Francisco Labor Council Executive Committee; San Mateo Federation of Teachers'; SEIU 1021; UAW 2865; United Educators of San Francisco; UPTE.


Pacific Northwest tour:
The campaign to free Bradley Manning

artJan/Feb events presented by Jeff Paterson

* Corvallis, Oregon - Monday, January 30 at 7:00pm - Oddfellows Hall, 223 Southwest 2nd Street, Sponsored by Veterans for Peace-Corvallis
* Eugene, Oregon - Wednesday, February 1 at 7:30pm - First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St. - Sponsored by Community Alliance of Lane County
* Portland, Oregon - Thursday, February 2 at 7:00pm - First Unitarian Church, SW 12th and Salmon, Buchan Reception Room, Sponsored by the Alliance for Democracy. With musician David Rovics.
* Bellingham, Washington - Friday, February 3 at 7pm - Whatcom Peace & Justice Center, 1155 N. State Street, Ste. 300, Sponsored by Veterans for Peace-Bellingham
* Seattle, Washington - Saturday, February 4 at 3pm - Revolution Books, 89 S. Washington Street
* Seattle, Washington - Sunday, February 5 at 3pm - University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 NE 43rd Street, Sponsored by Veterans for Peace-Seattle
* Olympia, Washington - Monday, February 6 at 3:30pm - South Puget Sound Community College
* Lakewood, Washington - Monday, February 6 at 7pm - Coffee Strong Café, 15109 Union Avenue SW
* Olympia, Washington - Tuesday, February 7 at Noon - The Evergreen State College, Lecture Hall 3, Sponsored by SDS and the "Re-Interpreting Liberation" program

free manningCourage to Resist project director and Bradley Manning Support Network campaign organizer Jeff Paterson will provide a multi-media presentation to include:

* An overview of US v. Bradley Manning
* His report from the Fort Meade courtroom where Bradley had his first court hearing after 18 months of pre-trial confinement
* Updates on the international grassroots campaign
* An opportunity to make a tax-deductible donation to Bradley's defense fund, which in addition to supporting public education efforts is responsible for 100% of Bradley's legal expenses
* Introduction to the new Courage to Resist book, About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War-from Army Lt. Ehren Watada to PFC Bradley Manning, and two dozen other stories. Published by PM Press, September 2011.

Contact Courage to Resist for more information regarding specific events.

For daily updates on the campaign to save Bradley Manning, visit

Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave. #41, Oakland, CA 94610, 510-488-3559,


"Where Soldiers Come From" Film Screening & Discussion
START DATE: Wednesday February 01, 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM
AMC Van Ness
1000 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA, 94109
Event Type: Screening
Contact Name- Joshua Shepherd
Email Address info [at]
***TICKETS: Are $9 and must be purchased in advance online:***


San Francisco's chapter of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War are collaborating to bring you a powerful documentary about real Americans going to fight our war in Afghanistan, and will be followed with a discussion by some of our members.

"From a snowy small town in Northern Michigan to the mountains of Afghanistan and back, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM follows the four-year journey of childhood friends, forever changed by a faraway war.

A documentary about growing up, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM is an intimate look at the young men who fight our wars and the families and town they come from. Returning to her hometown, Director Heather Courtney gains extraordinary access following these young men as they grow and change from teenagers stuck in their town, to 23-year-old veterans facing the struggles of returning home."

Iraq Veterans Against the War has been spearheading a national campaign called "Operation Recovery", which is devoted to stopping the re-deployment of traumatized troops. Our servicemembers are seeing multiple deployments, even after experiencing severe traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress, and military sexual trauma which adds tremendous stress to the individual and their already daunting process of recovery.

IVAW SF is fundraising to send a delegation to the Operation Recovery convergence at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas in order to bring the campaign home to the bay.



San Francisco Bay Area:
NO war on Iran! NO sanctions! NO intervention! NO assassinations!

Rally and March
Meet at NOON: Powell and Market Sts. (Powell St. BART Plaza), SF

This is a united action being called and organized cooperatively by many local anti-war organizations and communities including World Can't Wait (see below). Everyone is welcome and everyone's presence is needed.

Friends, we're pleased to tell you that yesterday at a meeting initiated by World Can't Wait and the ANSWER Coalition, 40 people met and agreed to organize together for February 4. We all hope that the rally and march will bring out a very broad and diverse crowd to speak up NOW - the U.S. and Israeli sabre-rattling threatening Iran is so ominous, yet to today there has not been public protest raised inside this country demanding NO WAR ON IRAN. February 4 will change that situation.

Last week, a large national conference call of anti-war groups and activists produced the call for this nationwide day, and agreed on its single, simple slogan:

NO war on Iran! NO sanctions! NO intervention! NO assassinations!

In the Bay Area, a united action is being planned with a NOON RALLY at Powell and Market, and a march to follow. All organizations, communities, and people who agree with the above call for this day, and this slogan, are invited to join. Our local list of endorsers is in formation, beginning with World Can't Wait, ANSWER Coalition, Unitarian Universalists for Peace, the Al-Awda Palestine Right of Return Coalition, and Code Pink.

Your participation, endorsement and support are urgently needed.

Sign up at

Spread the word at


A symposium sponsored by the Oakland Citizens' Police Review Board
Oakland City Hall, City Council Chambers, 1 Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza

The forum will focus on issues of planning and strategy, OPD's
response to issues of misconduct, OPD's policies on mutual aid, and
changes in department practice going forward.

*The Oscar Grant Committee meets the 1st Tuesday of every month at the
Niebyl Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph (near Alcatraz) in Oakland at 7:00
p.m. Call us at 510-239-3570 and visit us at *



The campaign to save Army Private Bradley Manning, accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Friday, February 17, 2012 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm UC Berkeley's International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave, Berkeley, California

Bradley Manning, a 24-year-old Army intelligence analyst, faces life in prison for allegedly sharing the "Collateral Murder" video of a US helicopter attack that killed 11 civilians and wounded two children in Baghdad, Iraq with the WikiLeaks website. Bradley has also been charged with blowing the whistle on the "Iraq War Logs", the "Afghan Diaries", the "Gitmo Files", and embarrassing US State Department cables. All of the documents released have added significantly to public knowledge of war crimes, civilian casualties, government corruption, and the over-classification of information. No one has been harmed and the information has helped fuel pro-democratic protests globally. For this, Bradley faces life in prison at a military court martial this spring. Free Bradley Manning!

Daniel Ellsberg Pentagon Papers whistle-blower who helped end the Vietnam War

US Army Colonel Ann Wright (ret) Diplomat who resigned in protest of the Iraq War

Ray McGovern Former CIA analyst

Jeff Paterson Bradley Manning Support Network organizer

Suggested donation $10 (no one turned away). A fund pitch for the Bradley Manning Defense Fund will be made during the program by Reverend Billy Talen. For more information regarding this panel, contact Courage to Resist at 510-488-3559 or

Presented by the Bradley Manning Support Network, Courage to Resist, and the Fresh Juice Party. Endorsed by.

* * *

This panel will help kickoff the "Occupy the Truth: Whistleblower's" open-source conference at UC Berkeley's International House, February 17 -19, 2012. Participants are encouraged to return the following day to participate in the conference and/or become involved in the campaign to save Bradley Manning. For more information regarding the conference:

Other weekend conference participants include: filmmaker Mikko Allane, strategist Celia Alario, performance artist Larry Bogad, veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Conrad, performance Artist Savitri D, firebrand teen activist Erica Fernandez, attorney Stephen Kohn, activist and widow of the late great Abbie Hoffman Johanna Lawrenson, filmmaker Carol Leigh, medical marijuana activist Dr. Frank Lucido, actress / activist Alexandra Paul, communications specialist Zack Pesavento, social entrepreneur Peter Samuelson, WikiLeaks expert Micah L. Sifry, artist and media hoaxer Joey Skaggs, activist David Solnit, artist / filmmaker Annie Sprinkle PhD, activist Andy Stepanian, professor Elizabeth Stephens, Reverend Billy Talen, and attorney Ben Wizner.





#F29 - Occupy Portland National Call To Action To
Shut Down the Corporations FEBRUARY 29, 2012
by OccupyWallSt

via Occupy Portland & Portland Action Lab:

"Occupy Portland calls for a day of non-violent direct action to reclaim our voices and challenge our society's obsession with profit and greed by shutting down the corporations. We are rejecting a society that does not allow us control of our future. We will reclaim our ability to shape our world in a democratic, cooperative, just and sustainable direction.

We call on the Occupy Movement and everyone seeking freedom and justice to join us in this day of action.

There has been a theft by the 1% of our democratic ability to shape and form the society in which we live and our society is steered toward the destructive pursuit of consumption, profit and greed at the expense of all else.

We call on people to target corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council which is a prime example of the way corporations buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of corporations and not people. They used it to create the anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin and the racist bill SB 1070 in Arizona among so many others. They use ALEC to spread these corporate laws around the country.

In doing this we begin to recreate our democracy. In doing this we begin to create a society that is organized to meet human needs and sustain life.

On February 29th, we will reclaim our future from the 1%. We will shut down the corporations and recreate our democracy.

Join us! Leap into action! Reclaim our future! Shut down the corporations!

*This action received unanimous consensus from the Portland General Assembly on Sunday January 1st, 2012."


Occupy St.Patrick's Day!

Once again the San Francisco Bay Area comrades of the International Republican Socialist Network are reaching out to socialists, syndicalists, anarchists, and Irish, Scottish, and Welsh republicans to join them in marching in this year's San Francisco St. Patrick's Parade.

For the first time in the nearly three decades that local comrades have marched in the parade under the auspices of the H-Block/Armagh Committees, Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America, and the International Republican Socialist Network the parade will actually take place on St. Patrick's Day, Saturday, March 17th.

As usual, the parade will begin at Market and Second Streets and our assembly point will no doubt be somewhere on Second Street and the time will be approximately 10:30, though details are not yet known.

As has been the case for many years, the IRSN will have a decorated truck--this year dedicated to the proud history of Irish Republican Socialism--but that entry will be joined by the Anti-Imperialist Contingent, composed of revolutionaries from many different organizations, united by their opposition to both British and American imperialism and their support for an independent, 32-country Irish socialist republic.

Participants in the Anti-Imperialist Contingent are welcome to bring their own identifying banners, as well as to join in carrying IRSC-supplied banners, raising slogans in opposition to imperialism and in support of the struggle for socialism in Ireland. The IRSN appreciates it when comrades who will be joining in march with the Anti-Imperialist Contingent let us know of their intent to do so in advance, as it helps us to better plan the organization of the contingent; the earlier you are able to do so, the more we appreciate it. For additional information, or to notify us of you or your organization's participation, please e-mail:

As has long been our tradition, the IRSN will be welcoming all those who join us in marching in this year's parade to join in a post-parade party, featuring the very traditional combination of nachos and Margaritas (well, traditional for us anyway).

So mark your calendars and get your marching shoes ready, and come and join the International Republican Socialist Network in once again ensuring that St. Patrick's Day in the San Francisco Bay Area has a proudly visible representation of the Irish Republican Socialist tradition.

Only you can prevent the St. Patrick's Day Parade from becoming a green beer, ROTC, and Hooters-dominated event!

Come out to show your solidarity with the struggle for national liberation and socialism in Ireland and to help reclaim the revolutionary tradition of St. Patrick's Day in the US.



United National Antiwar Coalition

Say No! To the NATO / G8 Wars & Poverty Agenda

A Conference to Challenge the Wars of the 1% on the 99% at Home and Abroad

March 23-25, 2012 Stamford Hilton Hotel, CT (just one Metro North train stop from NYC)

On December 31, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This legislation:

1. Directs $662 billion dollars desperately needed by the 99% for housing, jobs, health care and schools towards war appropriations.
2. Slaps dangerous new sanctions on Iran.
3. Codifies indefinite detention without charges or trial on American soil.

The sanctions on Iran, which will cause severe economic hardship for the people of Iran and squeeze U.S. competitors like China who depend on Iranian oil, are just one more step toward a new U.S. war. The indefinite detention threat will be used to silence activists for social change and to ramp up Islamophobia and war fever here at home. Already, on January 1, a mosque in NYC and the homes of people of color were firebombed. Overall, the billions of dollars just appropriated are going to be used for provocative new military operations in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and the Pacific.

And this is just the beginning of 2012. On May 19, the U.S. will be hosting, simultaneously, the summits of the US led military coalition that has destroyed Afghanistan and Libya and threatens Syria and Iran-NATO-and the representative financial body of the rich nations-G8 - that are now imposing austerity and inequality on people everywhere.

Government leaders are preparing for expanded war and repression in 2012.

The 99% at home and around the globe will be watching to see if we are able to respond effectively.

Join us at a conference specifically designed to take up this challenge.


United National Antiwar Coalition

Say No! To the NATO / G8 Wars & Poverty Agenda

A Conference to Challenge the Wars of the 1% on the 99% at Home and Abroad

March 23-25, 2012 Stamford Hilton Hotel, CT (just one Metro North train stop from NYC)

The US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the G-8 world economic powers will meet in Chicago, May 15-22, 2012 to plan their economic and military strategies for the coming period. These military, financial, and political leaders, who serve the 1 % at home and abroad, impose austerity on the 99% to expand their profits, often by drones, armies, and police.

Just as there is a nationally-coordinated attempt to curb the organized dissent of the Occupy Wall St. movements, the federal and local authorities want to deny us our constitutional rights to peacefully and legally protest within sight and sound range of the NATO/G-8 Summits. We must challenge them and bring thousands to Chicago to stand in solidarity with all those fighting US-backed austerity and war around the globe.

To plan these actions and further actions against the program of endless war of the global elite, we will meet in a large national conference March 23-25 in Stamford CT. This conference will bring together activists from the occupy movements, and the antiwar, social justice and environmental movements. We will demand that Washington Bring Our War Dollars Home Now! and use these trillions immediately for human needs.

Workshop topics include:

Occupy Wall St. & the Fight Against War; Global Economic Crisis; Climate Crisis and War; Women and War; War at Home on Black Community; War on the U.S.-Mexico Border; Islamophobia as a Tool of War; Labor; Defense of Iran and Syria; Afghanistan: Ten Years of Occupation; Is the U.S. Really Withdrawing from Iraq?; Updates on Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Yemen; What Next for the Arab Spring?; Occupation of Haiti; U.S. Intervention in Honduras, Colombia, and the rest of Latin America; No to Drone Warfare and Weapons in Space; Civil Liberties; Guantanamo, Torture and Rendition; U.S. Combat Troops Involved in New Scramble for Africa; Control of Media; Imperialism Nonviolence & Direct Action; Palestine: UN Statehood, Civil Resistance, BDS; Breaking the Siege of Gaza; Veterans Peace Team; Immigrant Rights and War; Human Rights in South Asia; Fight for Our Right to Protest; No War; No Warming; No Nukes; Philippines & the Pacific; Bring Our War $$ Home

Register now at

Donate to send an occupier or student to this conference!

Donate to help build the NATO/G8 permitted protest!

Send donations to: orto use a credit card, go here:


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


Occupy the PGA in Benton Harbor, MI May 23-27, 2012

A personal invitation from the President of the NAACP , Benton Harbor

It is our distinct honor and privilege to invite you on behalf of the
NAACP-BH , the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO)
and Stop The Take Over in Benton Harbor, Michigan to an event
scheduled for May 23-27, 2012 .

Occupy the PGA
Benton Harbor, Michigan
Senior PGA Golf Tournament

We are committed to escalating the Occupy Movement to support human
rights in housing in addition to the push back against bailouts for
fraudulent banks. They are stealing our homes and lives. Democracy is
non-existent here in Benton Harbor. Joseph Harris, the Emergency
Manager must go! With pride, he called himself a "dictator."

The PGA will be played on a $750 million dollar, 530-acre resort near
the lakeshore with $500,000 condominiums. We can not forget the three
golf holes inside Jean Klock Park that were taken from the Benton
Harbor residents.

If your schedule does not permit your attendance on May 26, 2012,
alternative action dates are May 23-25, 2012. Please let me know if
you can accept the invitation to participate in Occupy the PGA. We
eagerly await your response. If you have any questions or concerns,
feel free to contact me directly at (269-925-0001). Allow me to thank
you in advance.We the residents of Benton Harbor love you!

& Stop The Take Over
Benton Harbor
Rev. Edward Pinkney
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI


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


On Obama's SOTU:GM is a Terrible Model for US Manufacturing
Frank Hammer: GM was rebuilt by lowering wages and banning the right to strike

More at The Real News


Defending The People's Mic
by Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street
The North Star
January 20, 2012
Grand Central Terminal Arrests - MIRROR
Two protesters mic check about the loss of freedom brought about by the passage of the NDAA and both are promptly arrested and whisked out of public sight.


"Welcome to Chicago! You're under arrest!"

"Under the new ordinance: Every sign has to be described in particularity on the parade permit. ...If there are signs not on the parade permit, police can issue an ordinance violation. What does that ordinance violation allow? It allows for every sign, the organizer ... can face $1000.00 fine--that's for every un-permitted sign--plus up to ten days in jail...."

Chicago City Hall Press Conference Against NATO/G8 Ordinance


An impressive coalition of organizations -- unions, anti-war, human rights, churches and neighborhood groups -- held a press conference today (Jan. 17, 2012) at Chicago's City Hall. They were protesting the proposed new ordinances against demonstrations targeting the upcoming spring NATO/G8 meetings here, but now possibly to become permanent laws. The press conference took place right before two key City Council committees were to meet to consider whether to endorse the proposed new ordinances, prior to their going to a vote before the full City Council tomorrow. In this excerpt from the press conference, speakers include Eric Ruder, Coalition Against NATO/G8's War & Poverty Agenda; Erek Slater, ATU 241 member speaking for ATU International Vice Presidents; Talisa Hardin, National Nurses United; Wayne Lindwal, SEIU 73 Chicago Division Director; Jesse Sharkey, Vice President, Chicago Teachers Union.

For more info on fight against ordinance: (


This is excellent! Michelle Alexander pulls no punches!
Michelle Alexander, Author of The New Jim Crow, speaks about the political strategy behind the War on Drugs and its connection to the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people in the United States.

If you think Bill Clinton was "the first black President" you need to watch this video and see how much damage his administration caused for the black community as a result of his get tough attitude on crime that appealed to white swing voters.

This speech took place at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem on January 12, 2012.


NATO, G8 In Chicago: More Details Released, City Grants First Protest Permit
January 12, 2012


Release Bradley Manning
Almost Gone (The Ballad Of Bradley Manning)
Written by Graham Nash and James Raymond (son of David Crosby)

Locked up in a white room, underneath a glaring light
Every 5 minutes, they're asking me if I'm alright
Locked up in a white room naked as the day I was born
24 bright light, 24 all alone

What I did was show some truth to the working man
What I did was blow the whistle and the games began

Tell the truth and it will set you free
That's what they taught me as a child
But I can't be silent after all I've seen and done
24 bright light I'm almost gone, almost gone

Locked up in a white room, dying to communicate
Trying to hang in there underneath a crushing wait
Locked up in a white room I'm always facing time
24 bright light, 24 down the line

What I did was show some truth to the working man
What I did was blow the whistle and the games began

But I did my duty to my country first
That's what they taught me as a man
But I can't be silent after all I've seen and done
24 bright light I'm almost gone, almost gone
(Treat me like a human, Treat me like a man )

Read more on Nash's blog -


FREEDOM ROAD - A Tribute to Mumia sung by Renn Lee


(written by Samuel Légitimus- adapted in english, sung and arranged by Paris-Sydney)

They've taken all you had away
And what's left, still they can't bend
To find you guilty was their way
Yet here I am and you're my friend.

Your writing's proof enough for me, Mumia,
You place honor and law
Above all, till the end.

Thirty years gone by
On death row, we never knew
Anything of the weight
You had to carry while you grew.

But they won't get you, no, Mumia, no
We won't let them ever win
Won't let you bear such a heavy load
While walking down the Freedom Road.


Like Jimmy (1) and Bob (2) you've lived to see the light:
Believing that all men
Can stand up for their rights.

Accusing you of crime
From behind their scales they hide
It makes them scared deep down inside
To know that truth is on your side.

But they won't get you, no, Mumia, no,
We won't let them ever win
Won't let you bear such a heavy load
While walking down the Freedom Road.


Those thirty years gone by
On death row, we never knew
Anything of the weight
You had to carry while you grew.

We've named a street for you, Mumia
A lovely rue in Saint-Denis
By joining hands we're showing you
Proof of our strength and peace.

But they won't get you, no, Mumia, no,
We won't let them ever win
Won't let you bear such a heavy load
While walking down the Freedom Road.X2

But they won't get you, no, Mumia, no
We won't let them ever win
Won't let them block you from getting in,
Into your home on Freedom Road.

But they won't get you no Mumia,
We will win, we'll never bend
For thirty years you've shown us all
Just how to fight until the end.


School police increasingly arresting American students?

Uploaded by RTAmerica on Dec 29, 2011

A new study shows that by age 23, 41 percent of young Americans were arrested from the years 1997-2008. The survey questioned 7,000 people but didn't disclose the crimes committed. Many believe the arrests are related to the increase of police presence in schools across America. Amanda Petteruti from the Justice Policy Institute joins us to examine these numbers.


"The mine owners did not find the gold, they did not mine the gold, they did not mill the gold, but by some weird alchemy all the gold belonged to them!" -- Big Bill Haywood


1293. Big Coal Don't Like This Man At All (Original) - with Marco Acca on guitar

This song is a tribute to Charles Scott Howard, from Southeastern Kentucky, a tireless fighter for miners' rights, especially with regard to safety, and to his lawyer, Tony Oppegard, who sent me this newspaper article on which I based the song:

The melody is partly based on a tune used by Woody Guthrie, who wrote many songs in support of working men, including miners.

My thanks to Marco Acca for his great guitar accompaniment at very short notice (less than an hour).

To see the complete lyrics and chords please click here:

You can see a playlist of my mining songs here:

You can hear a playlist of my original songs (in alphabetical order) here:

For lyrics and chords of all my songs, please see my website:


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:

We working people--employed, unemployed, partially employed or retired--can't get any economic justice by voting for the One Percent! We need to occupy the elections with our own candidates of, by and for working people! --Bonnie Weinstein

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!


We Are The People Who Will Save Our Schools


This video begins with Professor of Education Pauline Lipman (University of Illinois-Chicago) briefly recapping the plans hatched a decade ago in Chicago to replace public schools with private charter schools. Then Chicago Public Schools head Arne Duncan implemented those plans (Renaissance 2010) so obediently that President Obama picked him to do the same thing to every school system in the country. So Chicago's growing uprising against these deepening attacks against public education has national importance. Here is a battalion of voices from the communities and the teachers union, all exposing the constantly changing, Kafkaesque rules for evaluating school turn-arounds and closings. The counter-attack from the working people in the city is energized and spreading, and is on a collision course with the 1% who want to take away their children's futures. Includes comments from Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, teachers and parents from targeted school communities. Length - 24:40


The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: Documentary Footage (1963)


In honor of the 75th Anniversary of the 44-Day Flint Michigan sit-down strike at GM that began December 30, 1936:

According to Michael Moore, (Although he has done some good things, this clip isn't one of them) in this clip from his film, "Capitalism a Love Story," it was Roosevelt who saved the day!):

"After a bloody battle one evening, the Governor of Michigan, with the support of the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, sent in the National Guard. But the guns and the soldiers weren't used on the workers; they were pointed at the police and the hired goons warning them to leave these workers alone. For Mr. Roosevelt believed that the men inside had a right to a redress of their grievances." -Michael Moore's 'Capitalism: A Love Story' - Flint Sit-Down Strike

But those cannons were not aimed at the goons and cops! They were aimed straight at the factory filled with strikers! Watch what REALLY happened and how the strike was really won!

'With babies & banners' -- 75 years since the 44-day Flint sit-down strike


Busby: Fukushima 'criminal event' calls for investigation
Uploaded by RussiaToday on Dec 27, 2011!

A newly released report on the Fukushima nuclear crisis says it was down to the plant's operators being ill-prepared and not responding properly to the earthquake and tsunami disaster. A major government inquiry said some engineers abandoned the plant as the trouble started and other staff delayed reporting significant radiation leaks. Professor Christopher Busby, scientific secretary to the European Committee on Radiation Risks, says health damage after contamination will be more serious than Japan announced.


HALLELUJAH CORPORATIONS (revised edition).mov




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




Mumia Still in Solitary Confinement - A Legal Update
From International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal:
Mumia is still in Administrative Custody (AC)-the hole-at SCI Mahanoy. The confinement conditions in all the Restricted Housing Units (RHU) are degrading and tortuous.
Sunday, January 08, 2012

Mumia is on a cellblock that houses AC as well as disciplinary custody inmates. He is in solitary confinement, with lights glaring 24/7, without adequate food, or the opportunity to buy food to supplement his diet. He is shackled and handcuffed whenever outside his solitary cell-including when he goes to shower. And he is isolated without regular phone calls, or access to his property, including legal materials, books and typewriter. His visiting hours are limited. In short, Mumia is being subjected to conditions in AC that are more onerous than those on death row.

There is no legal basis for Mumia to be confined in AC. At the point he was no longer under a death sentence, he should have been transferred into general population. This is not dependent on a court date for Mumia to be formally resentenced to life imprisonment.

On January 3 and January 6, 2012 I submitted demand letters on Mumia's behalf to John Wetzel, Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC), and to John Kerestes, Superintendent SCI Mahanoy, to immediately transfer and assign Mumia to general population with full visitation, phone and commissary privileges and access to all programs and services. The stated legal grounds are the following: The degrading, dehumanizing, tortuous conditions of Mumia Abu- Jamal's confinement in administrative custody at SCI Mahanoy are an abuse of authority, counter to DOC regulations, punitive, discriminatory, in violation of his protected liberty interests and his civil rights, including First Amendment rights.

The DOC regulations allow only two permanent categories of imprisonment, death row and general population. AC is by law only a temporary placement. It must be based on defined grounds, justified and implemented subject to procedural due process. None of the grounds listed in the DOC regulations for placement in AC apply to Mumia. In fact, on December 8, 2011 the DOC transferred Mumia from death row at SCI Greene and onto a cellblock that does not house capital inmates. On December 14, the DOC ordered Mumia moved to a medium security facility, SCI Mahanoy, which by regulation cannot hold death row prisoners.

The response by the DOC via telephone by Chief Counsel Suzanne Hueston was that Mumia is in AC pending resentencing and further evaluations. These are bogus explanations. The December 2001 federal court ruling that Mumia's death sentence is illegal has been upheld on appeal. The District Attorney has stated there will be no trial to obtain a new death sentence. Therefore Mumia should be in general population.

Nor is there a reason or basis for "further evaluation." Mumia has been confined in Pennsylvania prisons for some thirty years. The DOC unquestionably knows his history, conduct and behavior. There is nothing in Mumia's personal record to justify holding him in Administrative Custody.

The DOC's treatment of Mumia is punishment for depriving the FOP and Philadelphia District Attorney of his execution. This is the latest attempt by this frame-up system to silence Mumia, an innocent man, and to subject him to tortuous, punitive conditions in the hole.

Rachel Wolkenstein, Attorney
January 7, 2012

1) Write Call Phone and email the Secretary of Corrections

Tell them that Mumia must be immediately transferred to General Population.

John Wetzl, Secretary Department of Corrections
2520 Lisburn Road,
P.O. Box 598
Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598
717) 975-4928 Email:

2) Write, Call, Phone and Email the Secretary of Corrections

John Kerestes, Superintendent
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932
(570) 773-2158
fax 570-783-2008
3) Write Call Phone and email the Philadelphia DA

Seth Williams, DA Philadelphia
Three South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499
(215) 686-8000
and finally if you can send Mumia a note or a card.

Write to Mumia

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932



He signed it. We'll fight it.

President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. It contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision.

The dangerous new law can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield. He signed it. Now, we have to fight it wherever we can and for as long as it takes.

Sign the ACLU's pledge to fight worldwide indefinite detention for as long as it takes.

The Petition:

I'm outraged that the statute President Obama signed into law authorizes worldwide military detention without charge or trial. I pledge to stand with the ACLU in seeking the reversal of indefinite military detention authority for as long as it takes.

And I will support the ACLU as it actively opposes this new law in court, in Congress, and internationally.

[your name]


Urgent Appeal to Occupy and All Social Justice Movements: Mobilize to Defend the Egyptian Revolution
Endorse the statement here:

In recent days, protesters demanding civilian rule in Egypt have again been murdered, maimed and tortured by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Interior Security Forces (ISF).

The conspiracy, being brutally implemented in Egypt, is part of a global conspiracy to suffocate mass movements for socio-economic justice and is being done with direct assistance of the American government and the private interests which direct that government. We have word from friends in Egypt that SCAF, ISF and their hired thugs - armed by ongoing shipments of $1.3 billion in weapons from the U.S. government - plan to execute one by one all the leaders of the revolution, and as many activists as they can.

Accordingly, we need to ensure that people and organizers in the US and internationally are involved in closely monitoring the events unraveling in Egypt. By keeping track of the atrocities committed by SCAF and ISF, keeping track of those detained, tortured or targeted, and continuously contacting officials in Egypt and the US to demand accountability, cessation of the atrocities and justice, we can add pressure on SCAF, ISF and the forces they represent. In this way we may be able to play a role in helping save the lives of our Egyptian brothers and sisters.

Evidence of the conspiracy to execute the leaders and participants of Egyptian freedom movement, includes in very small part the following:

* Sheikh Emad of Al Azhar was killed by a bullet entering his right side from short range. This was seen at first hand by witnesses known to members of our coalition. Sheikh Emad was one of a small number of Azhar Imams issuing decrees in support of the revolution. His murder was no accident.
* Sally Tooma, Mona Seif, Ahdaf Soueif, and Sanaa Seif, all female friends and relatives of imprisoned blogger and activist Alaa abd El Fattah, and all known internationally for their political and/or literary work, were detained, and beaten in the Cabinet building.
* A woman protesting against General Tantawi, head of SCAF, was detained and then tortured by having the letter "T" in English carved into her scalp with knives.
* Detainees are being tortured while in courtroom holding pens. Two men (Mohammad Muhiy Hussein is one of them) were killed in those pens.These are only a small number of the horror stories we are hearing. And we continue to receive reports from Cairo about a massive army presence in Tahrir Square and the constant sound of gunshots.These are only a small number of the horror stories we are hearing. And we continue to receive reports from Cairo about a massive army presence in Tahrir Square and the constant sound of gunshots.

In every way, Egypt's fight is our fight. Just like us, Egyptians are the 99%, fighting for social, political and economic justice.

The same 1% that arms the Egyptian dictatorship commits systematic violence in this country against the Occupy movement; antiwar and solidarity activists; and Arabs, Muslims, and other communities of color.

As the US Palestinian Community Network recently observed, "the same US-made tear gas rains down on us in the streets of Oakland, Cairo and Bil`in."

Because of Egypt's key strategic location, the fate of its revolution echoes across the world. Its success will bring us all closer to achieving economic and social justice. But its defeat would be a major blow to social justice movements everywhere, including Occupy.

In short, Egypt is key to the continued success of the Arab Revolution, and movements she has inspired.

For all these reasons, we ask Occupy and all U.S. social justice activists to join us in mobilizing to defend our Egyptian brothers and sisters by immediately organizing mass convergences on Egyptian embassies, missions, consulates, and at U.S. government offices, to demand:

* Cancel all US aid and shipment of military and police materiel to Egypt!
* Stop the murders, tortures and detentions!
* Release all detainees and political prisoners!
* Immediate end to military rule in Egypt!

Please endorse and circulate this appeal widely. Please send statements with these demands to the bodies listed below. By endorsing, your organization commits to making these phone calls and following up continuously for the next week. and


Tarek Mehanna - another victim of the U.S. War to Terrorize Everyone. He was targeted because he would not spy on his Muslim community for the FBI. Under the new NDAA indefinite military detention provision, Tarek is someone who likely would never come to a trial, although an American citizen. His sentencing is on April 12. There will be an appeal. Another right we may kiss goodbye. We should not accept the verdict and continue to fight for his release, just as we do for hero Bradley Manning, and all the many others unjustly persecuted by our government until it is the war criminals on trial, prosecuted by the people, and not the other way around.

Marilyn Levin

Official defense website:

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Free Tarek
Date: Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 3:41 PM
Subject: [Tarek Mehanna Support] Today's verdict

All who have followed Tarek's trial with a belief in the possibility of justice through the court system will be shocked to learn that today the jury found him guilty on all seven counts of the indictment. In the six weeks that the prosecution used to present its case, it presented no evidence linking Tarek to an illegal action. Instead, it amassed a large and repetitive collection of videos, e-mails, translated documents, recorded telephone conversations and informant testimony aimed at demonstrating Tarek's political beliefs. The core belief under scrutiny was one that neither Tarek nor his defense team ever denied: Muslims have a right to defend their countries when invaded.

The prosecution relied upon coercion, prejudice, and ignorance to present their case; the defense relied upon truth, reason and responsibility. The government relied upon mounds of "evidence" showing that Tarek held political beliefs supporting the right to armed resistance against invading force; they mentioned Al-Qaeda and its leadership as often as possible while pointing at Tarek. It is clear they coerced Tarek's former friends and pressured them to lie, and many of them admitted to such. There is a long list of ways this trial proceeded unjustly, to which we will devote an entire post. The government's cynical calculation is that American juries, psychologically conditioned by a constant stream of propaganda in the "war on terrorism," will convict on the mere suggestion of terrorism, without regard for the law. Unfortunately, this strategy has proved successful in case after case.

Tarek's case will continue under appeal. We urge supporters to write to Tarek, stay informed, and continue supporting Tarek in his fight for justice. Sentencing will be April 12th, 2012. We will be sending out more information soon.

A beacon of hope and strength throughout this ordeal has been Tarek's strength and the amount of support he has received. Tarek has remained strong from day one, and even today he walked in with his head held high, stood unwavering as the verdict was read to him, and left the courtroom just as unbowed as ever. His body may be in prison now, but certainly this is a man whose spirit can never be caged. His strength must be an inspiration to us all, even in the face of grave circumstances. Before he left the courtroom, he turned to the crowd of supporters that was there for him, paused, and said, "Thank you, so much." We thank you too. Your support means the world to him.

You are here: Home » ACLU | "Mehanna verdict compromises First Amendment, undermines national security" by Christopher Ott

ACLU | "Mehanna verdict compromises First Amendment, undermines national security" by Christopher Ott

Mehanna verdict compromises First Amendment, undermines national security

Submitted by Online Coordinator on Tue, 12/20/2011 - 14:31 First Amendment National Security

Decision today threatens writers and journalists, academic researchers, translators, and even ordinary web surfers.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Christopher Ott, Communications Director, 617-482-3170 x322,

BOSTON - The following statement on the conviction today of Tarek Mehanna may be attributed to American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts executive director Carol Rose:

"The ACLU of Massachusetts is gravely concerned that today's verdict against Tarek Mehanna undermines the First Amendment and threatens national security.

"Under the government's theory of the case, ordinary people-including writers and journalists, academic researchers, translators, and even ordinary web surfers-could be prosecuted for researching or translating controversial and unpopular ideas. If the verdict is not overturned on appeal, the First Amendment will be seriously compromised.

"The government's prosecution does not make us safer. Speech about even the most unpopular ideas serves as a safety valve for the expression of dissent while government suppression of speech only drives ideas underground, where they cannot be openly debated or refuted.

"The ACLU believes that we can remain both safe and free, and, indeed, that our safety and our freedom go hand in hand."

The ACLU of Massachusetts has condemned the use of conspiracy and material support charges where the charges are based largely on First Amendment-protected expression.

In Mr. Mehanna's case, the charges against him have been based on allegations of such activity, such as watching videos about "jihad", discussing views about suicide bombings, translating texts available on the Internet, and looking for information about the 9/11 attackers. Historically, government prosecutors have used conspiracy charges as a vehicle for the suppression of unpopular ideas, contrary to the dictates of the First Amendment and fundamental American values.

After the ACLU of Massachusetts submitted a memorandum of law in support of Mehanna's motion to dismiss the parts of the indictment against him that were based on protected expression, U.S. District Court Judge George O'Toole denied permission for the memorandum to be filed with the court. A copy of the memorandum is available here.

For more information, go to:

via Mehanna verdict compromises First Amendment, undermines national security | ACLU of Massachusetts.


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.





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:




Hundreds march, rally at Fort Meade for Bradley

Courage to Resist, January 5, 2012

December 16-22, the world turned its eyes to a small courtroom on Fort Meade, MD, where accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Army PFC Bradley Manning made his first public appearance after 18 months in pre-trial confinement. The "Article 32" pre-trial hearing is normally a quick process shortly after one is arrested to determine whether and what kind of court martial is appropriate. Bradley's hearing was unusual, happening 18 months after his arrest and lasting seven days.

Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network organized two public rallies at Fort Meade to coincide with the beginning of the hearing, and there were about 50 solidarity rallies across the globe. We also sent representatives into the courtroom during all seven days of the hearing to provide minute-by-minute coverage via, Facebook, and Twitter.

"No harm in transparency: Wrap-up from the Bradley Manning pretrial hearing" includes our collection of courtroom notes
"Statement on closed hearing decisions" covers how even this hearing was far from "open"

Article and photos by John Grant
A message from Bradley and his family

"I want you to know how much Bradley and his family appreciate the continuing support of so many, especially during the recent Article 32 hearing. I visited Bradley the day after Christmas-he is doing well and his spirits are high."
-Bradley's Aunt Debra

Write to Bradley

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
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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!

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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

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

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

Thank you for your generosity! Tom Burke


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) The Washington-Wall Street Revolving Door Keeps Spinning
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
January 23, 2012

2) People demand of MN politicians, "Tax the rich!"
"Put a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions!"
By Staff |
January 24, 2012

3) President Obama's State of the Union Address
Following is the transcript of President Obama's State of the Union address on Jan. 24, 2012, as released by the White House:
January 24, 2012

4) Egyptians Gather on First Anniversary of Revolt
January 25, 2012

5) On Obama's State of the Union Speech
Paul Jay, Senior Editor of The Real News Network (TRNN) interviews Frank Hammer, former President, United Auto Workers (UAW) local 909
The Real News, January 25, 2012

6) In my opinion: The new Jim Crow alive and thriving
By Leonard Pitts Jr. The Miami Herald
January 15, 2012

7) Will the Young Rise Up and Fight Their Indentured Servitude to the Student Loan Industry?
By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet
Posted on January 24, 2012, Printed on January 26, 2012

8) In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad
January 25, 2012

9) Potent Sting Is Prepared in the Belly of a Warship
January 25, 2012

10) Possible Tokyo Evacuation Was Kept Secret in Nuclear Crisis
January 25, 2012

11) An Order in Oakland
"...'serious concerns' about the department's handling of the Occupy protest..."
January 25, 2012

12) Fed Signals That a Full Recovery Is Years Away
January 25, 2012

13) Family Health Insurance Costs Doubled in 7 Years, Study Finds
January 26, 2012, 10:48 am

14) Mumia Abu-Jamal Transferred Out of Solitary Confinement, Into General Population
Posted on January 27, 2012

15) An Iraqi Massacre, a Light Sentence and a Question of Military Justice
January 27, 2012

16) Occupy Protesters Are Told They Can't Camp in Parks
January 28, 2012

17) Kelly Says Anti-Muslim Film Shouldn't Have Been Screened
January 27, 2012

18) For Ford, Three Years of Profit in a Row
January 27, 2012

19) Union Membership Rate Fell Again in 2011
January 27, 2012


1) The Washington-Wall Street Revolving Door Keeps Spinning
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
January 23, 2012

We've already made our choice for the best headline of the year, so far: "Citigroup Replaces JPMorgan as White House Chief of Staff."

When we saw it on the website we had to smile - but the smile didn't last long. There's simply too much truth in that headline; it says a lot about how Wall Street and Washington have colluded to create the winner-take-all economy that rewards the very few at the expense of everyone else.

The story behind it is that Jack Lew is President Obama's new chief of staff - arguably the most powerful office in the White House that isn't shaped like an oval. He used to work for the giant banking conglomerate Citigroup. His predecessor as chief of staff is Bill Daley, who used to work at the giant banking conglomerate JPMorgan Chase, where he was maestro of the bank's global lobbying and chief liaison to the White House. Daley replaced Obama's first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who once worked as a rainmaker for the investment bank now known as Wasserstein & Company, where in less than three years he was paid a reported eighteen and a half million dollars.

The new guy, Jack Lew - said by those who know to be a skilled and principled public servant - ran hedge funds and private equity at Citigroup, which means he's a member of the Wall Street gang, too. His last job was as head of President Obama's Office of Management and Budget, where he replaced Peter Orzag, who now works as vice chairman for global banking at - hold on to your deposit slip - Citigroup.

Still with us? It's startling the number of high-ranking Obama officials who have spun through the revolving door between the White House and the sacred halls of investment banking. Sure, you can argue that it makes sense that the chief executive of the nation would look to other executives for the expertise you need to build back from the disastrous collapse of the banks in the final year of the Bush Administration. Remember - it was Bush and Cheney with their cronies in big business who helped walk us right into the blast furnace of financial meltdown, then rushed to save the banks with taxpayer money. That little fact seems to have been overlooked in the current primaries.

All this brings back memories of Hank Paulson, doesn't it? Hank Paulson, the $700 million man who became secretary of the treasury for President Bush. Paulson had been head of Goldman Sachs, the rich investment bank. As his successor at Goldman Sachs, Paulson chose Lloyd Blankfein. Several times, according to Bloomberg News, Rolling Stone, and Paulson's own memoir, the treasury secretary made sure Blankfein and Goldman got privileged inside information.

But Bush and Cheney aren't the only ones to have a soft spot for financiers. President Obama may call bankers "fat cats" and stir the rabble against them with populist rhetoric when it serves his interest, but after the fiscal fiasco, he allowed the culprits to escape virtually scot-free. When he's in New York he dines with them frequently and eagerly accepts their big contributions. Like his predecessors, his administration also has provided them with billions of taxpayer dollars - low-cost money that they used for high-yielding investments to make big profits. The largest banks are bigger than they were when he took office and earned more in the first two-and-a-half years of his term than they did during the entire eight years of the Bush administration. That's confirmed by industry data.

And get this. It turns out, according to The New York Times, that as President Obama's inner circle has been shrinking, his "rare new best friend" is Robert Wolf. They play basketball, golf, and talk economics when Wolf is not raising money for the president's campaign.

Robert Wolf runs the U.S. branch of the giant Swiss bank UBS, which participated in schemes to help rich Americans evade their taxes. During hearings in 2009, Michigan's Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the permanent subcommittee on investigations, described some of the tricks used by UBS: "Swiss bankers aided and abetted violations of U.S. tax law by traveling to this country with client code names, encrypted computers, counter- surveillance training, and all the rest of it, to enable U.S. residents to hide assets and money in Swiss accounts.

"The bankers then returned to Switzerland and treated their conduct as blameless since Swiss law says tax evasion is no crime. The Swiss bank before us deliberately entered United States, actively sought U.S. clients and secretly helped those U.S. clients defraud the United States of America."

And so it goes, the revolving door between government service and big money in the private sector spinning so fast it becomes an irresistible force hurling politics and high finance together so completely it's impossible to tell one from the other.


2) People demand of MN politicians, "Tax the rich!"
"Put a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions!"
By Staff |
January 24, 2012

St. Paul, MN - It took several minutes for the people gathered outside on the front steps of the Minnesota State Capitol to filter through the doors and into the echoing rotunda, chanting, "Hey politicians, here's the fix! Tax the rich! Tax the rich!" Nearly 200 protested here, Jan. 24, on the opening day of the Minnesota legislative session. Over two dozen Minnesota organizations endorsed the rally, under the slogans, "Make the rich pay for their crisis," "Put a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions," and "Stop the attacks on the 99%!"

The protest was organized the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout (MCPBO).

Deb Konechne spoke for the MCPBO, "This system that we live under, is a system where profit is the ultimate motive and a tiny percentage controls the wealth and power. It's a system that was built on greed, aggression and outright thievery since its very beginning - from the stealing of land and resources to the stealing of people's labor. Everything they have was made by us. Everything they own belongs to us all. We are in the biggest economic crisis since the great depression. We did not create it. Yet we are the ones who are being forced to pay for it!"

Darnella Wade, a member of the Welfare Rights Committee, a founding group of the MCPBO, said, "The Welfare Rights Committee is back here at the capitol, for the 20th year in a row. We will be fighting for the demands of the 99%. We are here to demand an end to the attacks on our families. We demand they pass legislation to stop foreclosures and to tax the rich!"

MCPBO is working on two bills this legislative session. One bill, SF1521/HF1886, puts a two-year moratorium on home foreclosures and on the eviction of tenants from foreclosed properties. The other bill, to be introduced Jan. 26, increases taxes on the richest in Minnesota.

Senator Scott Dibble and Representative Karen Clark, the authors of the bill to put a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, addressed the rally. Senator Jeff Hayden, an author (along with Rep. Frank Hornstein) of the bill to tax the rich, roused the crowd as well.

Ramon Silva Hernandez spoke about the battle against his home foreclosure, "I worked hard to go back to school, to educate myself and I wanted to be a part of America by purchasing a home. I was given a predatory loan by Aurora. I tried for two years to modify my mortgage through President Obama's program without any answer, and mailing the same package of requirements every month." Silva Hernandez concluded, "I am here with hope of finding a solution to this situation. I am calling on politicians to put a moratorium on foreclosures."

The "Occupy the Capitol Rally" ran well over its allotted time, as passionate representatives of many groups lined up to express outrage and determination to fight back against the wave of attacks on poor and working people.

After the speeches inside the rotunda, the crowd marched up the broad staircase to the second floor of the capitol and paraded outside the doors of the House and Senate chambers, chanting all the way.

Then, protesters surged into the hallway outside the Governor Mark Dayton's office and packed his lobby until capitol security forced them out and barred the doors. Chants ranged from "Money for human needs, not for stadiums," (Gov. Dayton advocates state funding for a Vikings football stadium) to "We are the 99%! We occupy, we represent!" After a standoff outside the doors of the governor's office, people moved outdoors and pressed against a window to look in at Governor Dayton as he held a meeting in his office until, after a scuffle, state troopers forced the defiant crowd to the nearby steps, where the rally ended with vows to return.
Besides the Minnesota Coalition for People's Bailout and the Welfare Rights Committee, which organized the opening day protest, the rally was endorsed by ADAPT MN, Advocating Change Together (ACT), AFSCME Council 5, AFSCME Local 3800, Anti-War Committee, Communities United Against Police Brutality, General Assembly of OccupyMpls, Marriage Equality Minnesota, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee, MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), MN Nurses Association (MNA), MN Tenants Union, MN Peace Action Coalition, Occupy Homes, Occupy the Hood, Occupy Saint Paul Tactical Working Group, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign, Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation, Students Association for the Advancement of Children as People (SAACP), Students for Democratic Society (SDS), TakeAction Minnesota, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, United Food And Commercial Worker Union Local 1189, Universal Health Care Action Network of MN and Women Against Military Madness (WAMM).

For more info, go to


3) President Obama's State of the Union Address
Following is the transcript of President Obama's State of the Union address on Jan. 24, 2012, as released by the White House:
January 24, 2012

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought - and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. (Applause.) For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. (Applause.) For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. (Applause.) Most of al Qaeda's top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America's Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They're not consumed with personal ambition. They don't obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. (Applause.) Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we're in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren't so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

We can do this. I know we can, because we've done it before. At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. (Applause.) My grandfather, a veteran of Patton's Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill. My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.

The two of them shared the optimism of a nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism. They understood they were part of something larger; that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share - the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.

The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. (Applause.) What's at stake aren't Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. And we have to reclaim them.

Let's remember how we got here. Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores. Technology made businesses more efficient, but also made some jobs obsolete. Folks at the top saw their incomes rise like never before, but most hardworking Americans struggled with costs that were growing, paychecks that weren't, and personal debt that kept piling up.

In 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn't afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people's money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn't have the authority to stop the bad behavior.

It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hardworking Americans holding the bag. In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly 4 million jobs. And we lost another 4 million before our policies were in full effect.

Those are the facts. But so are these: In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs. (Applause.)

Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we've agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we've put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like this never happens again. (Applause.)

The state of our Union is getting stronger. And we've come too far to turn back now. As long as I'm President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place. (Applause.)

No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last -- an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.

Now, this blueprint begins with American manufacturing.

On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world's number-one automaker. (Applause.) Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.

We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back. (Applause.)

What's happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh. We can't bring every job back that's left our shore. But right now, it's getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive. A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. (Applause.) Today, for the first time in 15 years, Master Lock's unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity. (Applause.)

So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed. (Applause.)

We should start with our tax code. Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it. So let's change it.

First, if you're a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn't get a tax deduction for doing it. (Applause.) That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home. (Applause.)

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. (Applause.) From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here in America. (Applause.)

Third, if you're an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you're a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making your products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers. (Applause.)

So my message is simple. It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I will sign them right away. (Applause.)

We're also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. With the bipartisan trade agreements we signed into law, we're on track to meet that goal ahead of schedule. (Applause.) And soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago. (Applause.)

I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don't play by the rules. We've brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration -- and it's made a difference. (Applause.) Over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires. But we need to do more. It's not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated. It's not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they're heavily subsidized.

Tonight, I'm announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China. (Applause.) There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders. And this Congress should make sure that no foreign company has an advantage over American manufacturing when it comes to accessing financing or new markets like Russia. Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you -- America will always win. (Applause.)

I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can't find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that -- openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work. It's inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.

Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie's tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant.

I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did. Join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. (Applause.) My administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, and Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers -- places that teach people skills that businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.

And I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people like Jackie have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need. It is time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work. (Applause.)

These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today. But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.

For less than 1 percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we've convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning - the first time that's happened in a generation.

But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.

At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced states to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies - just to make a difference.

Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let's offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. (Applause.) And in return, grant schools flexibility: to teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren't helping kids learn. That's a bargain worth making. (Applause.)

We also know that when students don't walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better. So tonight, I am proposing that every state - every state - requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. (Applause.)

When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. (Applause.)

Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves millions of middle-class families thousands of dollars, and give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years. (Applause.)

Of course, it's not enough for us to increase student aid. We can't just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we'll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down.

Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who've done just that. Some schools redesign courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it's possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. (Applause.) Higher education can't be a luxury -- it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.

Let's also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: the fact that they aren't yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.

That doesn't make sense.

I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That's why my administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That's why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office. The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. (Applause.)

But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let's at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away. (Applause.)

You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. (Applause.) It means we should support everyone who's willing to work, and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.

After all, innovation is what America has always been about. Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let's pass an agenda that helps them succeed. Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. (Applause.) Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year. (Applause.)

Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet. Don't gut these investments in our budget. Don't let other countries win the race for the future. Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet; to new American jobs and new American industries.

And nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we've opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I'm directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. (Applause.) Right now - right now - American oil production is the highest that it's been in eight years. That's right - eight years. Not only that - last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years. (Applause.)

But with only 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, oil isn't enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy. (Applause.) A strategy that's cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years. (Applause.) And my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I'm requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. (Applause.) Because America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.

The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don't have to choose between our environment and our economy. (Applause.) And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock -- reminding us that government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground. (Applause.)

Now, what's true for natural gas is just as true for clean energy. In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world's leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it's hiring workers like Bryan, who said, "I'm proud to be working in the industry of the future."

Our experience with shale gas, our experience with natural gas, shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don't always come right away. Some technologies don't pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like Bryan. (Applause.) I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.

We've subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. (Applause.) It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits. Create these jobs. (Applause.)

We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there's no reason why Congress shouldn't at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven't acted. Well, tonight, I will. I'm directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes. And I'm proud to announce that the Department of Defense, working with us, the world's largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history -- with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year. (Applause.)

Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here's a proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs. (Applause.)

Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America's infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We've got crumbling roads and bridges; a power grid that wastes too much energy; an incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.

During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. After World War II, we connected our states with a system of highways. Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.

In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But you need to fund these projects. Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home. (Applause.)

There's never been a better time to build, especially since the construction industry was one of the hardest hit when the housing bubble burst. Of course, construction workers weren't the only ones who were hurt. So were millions of innocent Americans who've seen their home values decline. And while government can't fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn't have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief.

And that's why I'm sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low rates. (Applause.) No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won't add to the deficit and will give those banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust. (Applause.)

Let's never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same. It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom. No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.

We've all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn't afford them, and buyers who knew they couldn't afford them. That's why we need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior. (Applause.) Rules to prevent financial fraud or toxic dumping or faulty medical devices - these don't destroy the free market. They make the free market work better.

There's no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly. In fact, I've approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his. (Applause.) I've ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don't make sense. We've already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years. We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill - because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk. (Laughter and applause.)

Now, I'm confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder. (Applause.) Absolutely. But I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago. (Applause.) I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean. I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny your coverage, or charge women differently than men. (Applause.)

And I will not go back to the days when Wall Street was allowed to play by its own set of rules. The new rules we passed restore what should be any financial system's core purpose: Getting funding to entrepreneurs with the best ideas, and getting loans to responsible families who want to buy a home, or start a business, or send their kids to college.

So if you are a big bank or financial institution, you're no longer allowed to make risky bets with your customers' deposits. You're required to write out a "living will" that details exactly how you'll pay the bills if you fail -- because the rest of us are not bailing you out ever again. (Applause.) And if you're a mortgage lender or a payday lender or a credit card company, the days of signing people up for products they can't afford with confusing forms and deceptive practices - those days are over. Today, American consumers finally have a watchdog in Richard Cordray with one job: To look out for them. (Applause.)

We'll also establish a Financial Crimes Unit of highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people's investments. Some financial firms violate major anti-fraud laws because there's no real penalty for being a repeat offender. That's bad for consumers, and it's bad for the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals who do the right thing. So pass legislation that makes the penalties for fraud count.

And tonight, I'm asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorney general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. (Applause.) This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.

Now, a return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help protect our people and our economy. But it should also guide us as we look to pay down our debt and invest in our future.

Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile. (Applause.) People cannot afford losing $40 out of each paycheck this year. There are plenty of ways to get this done. So let's agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay. Let's get it done. (Applause.)

When it comes to the deficit, we've already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings. But we need to do more, and that means making choices. Right now, we're poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else -- like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans? Because if we're serious about paying down our debt, we can't do both.

The American people know what the right choice is. So do I. As I told the Speaker this summer, I'm prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long-term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.

But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes. (Applause.)

Tax reform should follow the Buffett Rule. If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you're earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn't get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn't go up. (Applause.) You're the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You're the ones who need relief.

Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.

We don't begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it's not because they envy the rich. It's because they understand that when I get a tax break I don't need and the country can't afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference - like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet. That's not right. Americans know that's not right. They know that this generation's success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to the future of their country, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That's how we'll reduce our deficit. That's an America built to last. (Applause.)

Now, I recognize that people watching tonight have differing views about taxes and debt, energy and health care. But no matter what party they belong to, I bet most Americans are thinking the same thing right about now: Nothing will get done in Washington this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that, because Washington is broken.

Can you blame them for feeling a little cynical?

The greatest blow to our confidence in our economy last year didn't come from events beyond our control. It came from a debate in Washington over whether the United States would pay its bills or not. Who benefited from that fiasco?

I've talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad - and it seems to get worse every year.

Some of this has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics. So together, let's take some steps to fix that. Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress; I will sign it tomorrow. (Applause.) Let's limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let's make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can't lobby Congress, and vice versa - an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.

Some of what's broken has to do with the way Congress does its business these days. A simple majority is no longer enough to get anything -- even routine business -- passed through the Senate. (Applause.) Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both parties should put an end to it. (Applause.) For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a simple rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days. (Applause.)

The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it's inefficient, outdated and remote. (Applause.) That's why I've asked this Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy, so that our government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people. (Applause.)

Finally, none of this can happen unless we also lower the temperature in this town. We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common-sense ideas.

I'm a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more. (Applause.) That's why my education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and states. That's why we're getting rid of regulations that don't work. That's why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.

On the other hand, even my Republican friends who complain the most about government spending have supported federally financed roads, and clean energy projects, and federal offices for the folks back home.

The point is, we should all want a smarter, more effective government. And while we may not be able to bridge our biggest philosophical differences this year, we can make real progress. With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow. But I can do a whole lot more with your help. Because when we act together, there's nothing the United States of America can't achieve. (Applause.) That's the lesson we've learned from our actions abroad over the last few years.

Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies. From Pakistan to Yemen, the al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can't escape the reach of the United States of America. (Applause.)

From this position of strength, we've begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Ten thousand of our troops have come home. Twenty-three thousand more will leave by the end of this summer. This transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America. (Applause.)

As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana'a to Tripoli. A year ago, Qaddafi was one of the world's longest-serving dictators -- a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone. And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed, and that human dignity cannot be denied. (Applause.)

How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain. But we have a huge stake in the outcome. And while it's ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings -- men and women; Christians, Muslims and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.

And we will safeguard America's own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran's nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent.

Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. (Applause.)

But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.

The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our ironclad commitment - and I mean ironclad - to Israel's security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history. (Applause.)

We've made it clear that America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope. From the coalitions we've built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we've led against hunger and disease; from the blows we've dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.

Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn't know what they're talking about. (Applause.)

That's not the message we get from leaders around the world who are eager to work with us. That's not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin, from Cape Town to Rio, where opinions of America are higher than they've been in years. Yes, the world is changing. No, we can't control every event. But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs -- and as long as I'm President, I intend to keep it that way. (Applause.)

That's why, working with our military leaders, I've proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget. To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I've already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing dangers of cyber-threats. (Applause.)

Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. (Applause.) As they come home, we must serve them as well as they've served us. That includes giving them the care and the benefits they have earned -- which is why we've increased annual VA spending every year I've been President. (Applause.) And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.

With the bipartisan support of this Congress, we're providing new tax credits to companies that hire vets. Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with American businesses to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families. And tonight, I'm proposing a Veterans Jobs Corps that will help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her. (Applause.)

Which brings me back to where I began. Those of us who've been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn't matter if you're black or white; Asian, Latino, Native American; conservative, liberal; rich, poor; gay, straight. When you're marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you're in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one nation, leaving no one behind.

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn't matter. Just like it didn't matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates - a man who was George Bush's defense secretary - and Hillary Clinton - a woman who ran against me for president.

All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn't deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job - the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other - because you can't charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there's somebody behind you, watching your back.

So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I'm reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other's backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)


4) Egyptians Gather on First Anniversary of Revolt
January 25, 2012

CAIRO - Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square, the crucible of their revolution, on Wednesday in a mixture of celebration and agitation to mark the first anniversary of the protests that forced out Hosni Mubarak, the former president.

By midmorning, tens of thousands of people had packed the square here, smiling, cheering and waving Egyptian flags, but it was already evident that the spirit that unified last year's uprising had been replaced by new tensions between Egyptian political factions over their view of the military rulers who took power when Mr. Mubarak was ousted.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that won nearly half the seats in the newly elected Parliament, sent many of its followers to the square.

The Brotherhood's leaders have endorsed the military's timetable for a handover to an elected president by the end of June, and they sent thousands of their members out to ensure that a spirit of celebration prevailed, erecting soundstages and setting up security checks at each entrance to the square. An abundance of Brotherhood flags, buttons and disposable plastic hats filled the crowd.

There were reports that Brotherhood followers had drowned out chants attacking the ruling military council with their own tributes to the revolution.

Groups of ultraconservative Islamists known as Salafis, political rivals to the Brotherhood who won about a quarter of the seats in the new Parliament, said they would also turn out to help secure the square and keep the day peaceful, and there were plenty of men with the Salafis' trademark long beards mingling in the crowd.

The crowd in the square on Wednesday morning was overwhelmingly male, with very few women in sight.

Youth groups and other activists - including many of the leaders of the original uprising - were determined to make the day a huge demonstration calling for an immediate end to military rule, urging Egyptians to gather at mosques, churches and other strategic locations around the city for marches to the square that would arrive by midafternoon.

The plan resembled the convergence of marches that set off the Tahrir Square protests last January, but this time each was named for a "martyr" killed over the last year by the security forces of the military-led government trying to suppress challenges to its power. More than 80 people have been killed in clashes with security forces since October.

The military rulers have endorsed the calls for an anniversary celebration and have made the day a national holiday. Some activists accuse them of trying to co-opt the occasion.

There was no visible presence of soldiers or the police. But most Egyptians seemed to expect that Brotherhood members, known for their discipline and organization, would keep the peace.

After a year of protests and crackdowns, many note a pattern: the conflicts with security forces never begin on the days when crowds fill the streets but only days later when the authorities move in to clear out the stragglers.

One year after the tumultuous events that marked a watershed in the so-called Arab Spring, Egypt is still under martial law, with the ruling military council acting as the highest authority.

Mr. Mubarak's ouster came on Feb. 11, after an 18-day-old revolt led largely by young people prevailed over an authoritarian crackdown. On that day, shouts of "God is great" erupted from Tahrir Square at twilight as Mr. Mubarak's vice president and longtime intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, announced that Mr. Mubarak had passed all authority to a council of military leaders.

On the eve of Wednesday's celebrations, the army officer acting as Egypt's de facto head of state said Tuesday that the military government would limit its use of extrajudicial arrests and detentions to cases of what he called "thuggery."

The officer, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, made the pledge to curb use of Egypt's so-called "emergency law" in an apparent effort to mollify those who are discontent with the heavy-handed police tactics of the military-led government.

Rights lawyers, however, noted that the military had applied the term "thuggery" very broadly, covering street protesters and potentially anyone else it chooses. Just a few years ago, Mr. Mubarak himself issued a similar partial repeal of the "emergency law," saying he would limit its application to cases of drug crimes or terrorism. But his declaration had no discernible effect, and it is unclear who or what might restrain the current military leadership from continuing or renewing the use of extralegal detentions.

The military also has not renounced its practice of sending civilians to swift military trials when it chooses.

Mr. Mubarak initiated the "emergency law" at the start of his presidency more than 30 years ago, and it became one of the most despised elements of his rule. The former president has been on trial since August, facing charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters.

Last week, lawyers acting for him began laying out their defense. Mr. Mubarak's chief lawyer, Farid el-Deeb, citing previous testimony by Mr. Suleiman, the former intelligence chief, that Mr. Mubarak had instructed the police to use only nonlethal weapons like tear gas, water cannons and nightsticks in battling the protests last year that ultimately ended his rule.

Alan Cowell contributed reporting from Paris.


5) On Obama's State of the Union Speech
Paul Jay, Senior Editor of The Real News Network (TRNN) interviews Frank Hammer, former President, United Auto Workers (UAW) local 909
The Real News, January 25, 2012

Paul Jay: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay.

Now joining us to talk about President Obama's State of the Union speech is Frank Hammer. Frank worked at GM in Detroit for 32 years. He's the former president of the UAW local 909. And he joins us from his home in Detroit. Thanks for joining us.

Frank Hammer: Thank you, Paul, for having me.

Paul Jay: So probably the centerpiece of President Obama's speech was to restore American manufacturing, and the model for that is the success story of his administration's intervention by saving General Motors and the auto industry. What do you make of that?

Frank Hammer: I think that that's a real, real bad model. I think that if anybody has any sense of what actually went down, we were thrust into a bankruptcy by the financial crisis, and, you know, Wall Street pretty much dictated the terms of what it would take to get out of the bankruptcy. And as a result, autoworkers have been severely sort of downsized and severely reduced. And going forward, the only way they did it was to tie our hands and put handcuffs on us. And it was all a myth. It wasn't the autoworkers who were causing the problem; it was the financial crisis.

Paul Jay: So, I mean, when you're saying tied your hands and all of that, what are a couple of examples of what you're talking about?

Frank Hammer: Well, President Obama made mention that the government got autoworkers and the companies to resolve their differences. Well, surely we did, because, number one, they prevented any strike from happening-they took away the right to strike. And secondly, they stipulated that whatever autoworkers would get here in Detroit cannot be any higher than the nonunion plants in the South. So it was a mandate to lower our standard of living and our expectations of quality of life to southern nonunion plants. So that was already mandated by the government. That was mandated by Wall Street.

And if that's the model going forward, then what he's really saying is that we're going to reduce the standard of living of workers in this country to match those of Third World countries, so that the U.S.-you know, he cited the example of Master Lock. Well, he said, yeah, the Chinese workers are getting an increase in their minimum wage, and therefore it's almost become more sense for Master Lock to come back here, where autoworkers and workers represented by the UAW are making less and less. So all he's saying is that we're turning the U.S. into a Third World country as far as workers' wages are concerned, and that's what's going to make us more competitive, and that's how we're going to get jobs, if we're willing to work for Third World wages.
Paul Jay: Right. Now, he put a lot of emphasis on developing clean energy and such. What did you make of that part of his speech?

Frank Hammer: Well, I thought that he did mention the word climate change once, and all he said about it was that the Congress is maybe too divided to address that question. I thought that was a heck of a concession, considering that the scientists are saying that we must act expeditiously to address it. And he's still doing this smorgasbord of, well, nuclear energy, fracking, biofuels, and so on, and also oil and so on, so he doesn't really have a clear idea that the essential defining issue of our time is going to renewable energy, not biofuels, not nuclear, but clean energy. And instead, he said that the defining question of our time is whether we're going to be able to maintain our middle-class way of life. And we're not going to be able to maintain a middle-class way of life if we're going to address-if we're not going to address climate change.

Paul Jay: I mean, one of the things we've talked about in our previous interviews is that the saving of the auto industry could have been a jumping off point for a different kind of economy. So this goes back to is what happened in Detroit the model.
Frank Hammer: Well, he did mention at some point that he thought that companies ought to get incentives for building new facilities in plants that have been in areas that have been hardest hit. And that harkens back to comments that he made back in 2009 that he would address areas like Detroit in a way that the Bush administration should have addressed a city like New Orleans when Katrina hit. So I thought that that was a positive suggestion in the right direction, so that one thing that was lacking, by the way, which he stated in previous State of the Union addresses, was the idea of rapid public transportation, you know, rapid rail, light rail. And we've been advocating here that some of these plants that are closed be reopened to fabricate railcars, you know, for light rail, for high-speed rail, and he made no mention of that. Hopefully we would still see some moves in the direction of solar energy and wind power using the current facilities that are closed, and using the incentives that Obama had mentioned in the speech.

Paul Jay: What was your kind of overall impression of the speech? Does it give you the fact-some of the people I've been interviewing about this tonight are at least happy that he's talking about such income inequality and such. I mean, does there anything in this speech that makes you think that there's going to be any different Obama here?
Frank Hammer: Well, I tell you, I have a lot of disagreement with some of my dear friends, African-American friends, because they believe that Obama's second term will be a different president, and I believe that reelected, I think that pretty much we've seen the Obama that we're going to get. If there was any time that he would've given a speech that would have roused his base, it would have been at this State of the Union message. And I know that he's not doing that very well, because my daughter, for example, you know, back in 2008 was a very avid campaigner for Obama, and I talked to her earlier this evening and also her husband, and neither one of them were very excited by his speech at all. This is his base. These are the young people that came out for him in the millions. And I don't think that he really touched them with his speech. I think that it's too much of an appeasement of the Republican hymn book. I don't know how many times he talked about how bad regulations were. And I think that it was sort of a further appeasement, a further shift to what they call the center, which continuously gets redefined as being more right-wing and more right-wing with each passing year. So I think that it needed to ignite his base to, you know, this is an election year, and I feel that it's taking the base for granted. He didn't even mention Occupy Wall Street once, even though this is a movement that's taken the U.S. by storm. And, in fact, at one point he-he didn't make mention to the 99 percent, but he did mention 98 percent who are seeing stagnating wages. You know?

Paul Jay: Right. Well, maybe he's redefined who his base is. Maybe he was playing to his base. It's just it isn't the base that-who thinks it's the base.

Frank Hammer: Yeah, I suppose. But that's where the energy and enthusiasm came for his campaign four years ago. So if he's redefined who his base is, he's doing it in great peril.

Paul Jay: Thanks for joining us, Frank.

Frank Hammer: Well, I thank you very much, Paul.

Paul Jay: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

Frank Hammer is a retired General Motors employee and former President and Chairman of Local 909 in Warren, MIchigan. He now organizes with the Auto Worker Caravan, an association of active and retired auto workers who advocate for workers demands in Washington.


6) In my opinion: The new Jim Crow alive and thriving
By Leonard Pitts Jr. The Miami Herald
January 15, 2012

I have something for you.

In June of 2010, I wrote in this space about a book, The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, which I called a "troubling and profoundly necessary" work. Alexander promulgated an explosive argument. Namely, that the so-called "War on Drugs" amounts to a war on African-American men and, more to the point, to a racial caste system nearly as restrictive, oppressive and omnipresent as Jim Crow itself.

This because, although white Americans are far and away the nation's biggest dealers and users of illegal drugs, African Americans are far and away the ones most likely to be jailed for drug crimes. And when they are set "free" after doing their time, black men enter a legal purgatory where the right to vote, work, go to school or rent an apartment can be legally denied. It's as if George Wallace were still standing in the schoolhouse door.

The New Jim Crow won several awards, enjoyed significant media attention, and was an apparent catalyst in the NAACP's decision last year to call for an end to the drug war. The book was a sensation, but we need it to be more. We need it to be a movement.

As it happens and not exactly by coincidence, Alexander's book is being reissued in paperback this week as we mark the birthday of the man who led America's greatest mass movement for social justice. In his battle against the original Jim Crow, Martin Luther King, in a sense, did what Alexander seeks to do: pour sunlight on an onerous condition that exists just beyond the periphery of most Americans' sight.

I want to help her do that. So here's the deal. I'll give you a copy of the book - autographed by the author, no less - free of charge. You don't even have to pay for shipping. All you have to do is tell me you want it and promise me you'll read it.

In fact, make that the subject line of the email you send to request your copy: "I want it. I'll read it." Send it to Make sure to include your contact information and mailing address. At month's end, I'll draw 50 names from a bucket and send out 50 books. If you work for the company that syndicates my column, or a newspaper that runs it, you can't participate. The same goes if you're my kin or my friend.

On March 15, Alexander has agreed to appear with me at Books & Books in Coral Gables, where I will moderate a discussion with an audience. You'll also be able to submit questions via Twitter @MiamiHeraldLive and Facebook. Video from the event will be posted on The Miami Herald's website (

And here, let me make one thing clear. This giveaway is underwritten neither by my employer nor by Alexander's publisher. Me, myself and I will pay for both books and shipping. I chose to do it that way in order to impress upon you how vital I personally feel it is that you read this book.

No, I have no financial interest in its success. I do, however, have tremendous emotional interest. Half a century ago, Martin Luther King and a cadre of courageous idealists made a sustained appeal to this nation's misplaced sense of justice, forced Americans to see an outrage that was right in front of them yet, somehow, beyond their line of sight.

There could be no better homage to his memory than to do that again.


7) Will the Young Rise Up and Fight Their Indentured Servitude to the Student Loan Industry?
By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet
Posted on January 24, 2012, Printed on January 26, 2012

In October 2011, the White House announced, "Currently, more than 36 million Americans have federal student loan debt." By the end of 2011, student loan debt had exceeded $1 trillion. Two-thirds of college seniors graduate with student loans, including over 62 percent of public university graduates. According to the Project on Student Loan Debt, they carried an average of $25,250 in debt in 2010, but many have far greater debt than that average. And nowadays, with high unemployment, even higher underemployment, the inability to pay bills, and accumulating interest and penalties, the lives of student loan debtors can quickly turn into financial nightmares.

Indentured Servitude? I'll be paying for my student loans for the rest of my life....A large portion of my earnings goes to the Wall Street elites that have commoditized and securitized my loans....I knew at the time I signed the student loans (again and again) that I would be responsible...what I didn't figure was the cost to my children -Jeff Vincent, AlterNet

How outlandish is it to say that the spirit of indentured servitude has been revived in the United States? What can young people and their parents do to prevent student loan debt servitude, and what can all of us do to help liberate student loan debtors who are currently doomed to decades of financial misery?

Colonial Indentured Servants and Modern Student Loan Debtors

In colonial America, historians estimate that between one-half and two-thirds of white immigrants arrived as indentured servants. Indentured servants in England were in servitude typically for one year, while indenture in America was typically four to seven years. Today in the United States, student debt is an even longer debt commitment than colonial indentured servitude. The standard Stafford federal loan is, for example, 15 years, and with waivers and refinancing, it is not uncommon for Americans to be paying off student loans well into middle age.

In "Student Debt and the Spirit of Indenture," Carnegie Mellon University professor Jeffrey Williams concludes, "College student loan debt has revived the spirit of indenture for a sizable proportion of contemporary Americans." Williams points out that college loan debt, like indentured servitude, "looms over the lives of those so contracted, binding individuals for a significant part of their future work lives."

Similar to students signing their college loan papers, indentured servants also "freely chose" their servitude. In colonial times, while the elite saw indentured servitude as a freely chosen and fair economic deal, the servants themselves routinely saw it as an exploitative system of labor, a form of time-limited slavery. Like colonial indentured servants who "freely chose" to sign papers agreeing that they would pay off their debt directly in labor, modern student loan debtors "freely choose" to sign papers agreeing to pay off their debt. However, this is a choice that the financial elite do not have to make.

Like colonial indentured servitude, the student loan contract is virtually unbreakable. Student loans are enforced by garnishing wages, and unlike most other forms of debt, student loan debt is almost never forgiven even in personal bankruptcy.

Similar to some indentured servants, some student loan debtors-most famously, Michelle and Barack Obama-do go on to prosper. However, half of those who attend college don't graduate, and many college graduates do not get high-paying jobs and struggle to make debt payments for much of their adult lives.

The Chronicle of Higher Education (October 20, 2010) reported, "Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants....The growing disconnect between labor market realities and the propaganda of higher-education apologists is causing more and more people to graduate and take menial jobs or no job at all."

Conversations with Young People about Class and College

Several years ago, I was speaking to a group of high school seniors, and I mentioned that my experience is that the adult world tries to scare young people about so much crap, that the net effect is for young people not to take anything we say seriously. I told them that most mistakes are useful learning experiences, but that there are two things that should concern them because they are very difficult to overcome, and I then moved on to another topic. A sea of hands went up, and several students shouted out demanding that I tell them what the two things were. So I told them: One, it's difficult to overcome driving drunk and killing somebody; and two, it also tends to drag your life down if you have a kid with someone you can't stand.

These days, however, I've had to modify what I say to high school kids. My recent experience is that, for more people, even more depressing than having a kid with someone you can't stand is running up a gigantic student loan debt. So, now I talk with young people in groups, individually, and their parents about student loan debt hell.

Many young people among the 99 percent, in my experience, have been socialized not to have "class consciousness." So, we discuss how kids from 1 percent families can go to expensive colleges without any career plans, party, flunk out, go to another expensive college, and have no student loan debt-and can fall back on either the family business, a trust fund, or a career in politics. While the 1 percent can afford-without loans-to shell out whatever money is necessary for college, many of the 99 percent will have a "debt sword" that hangs over their heads for a significant part of their lives.

The 1 percent and the corporate media have succeeded in making the terms "class consciousness" and "class war" taboo, which is part of the reason why they are winning the class war and enslaving the 99 percent.

College Decision-Making for the 99 Percent

Today, high school students hear repeatedly that they are losers if they don't go to college, and their parents are made to feel like failures if their kids don't go to college. For the 99 percent, the truth is that it may make sense to go college, or it may not. College may make sense if you want to earn a living at something that requires a college-level certification. But college may not make sense, especially if you are not motivated for it, or your career desires don't require a degree and certifications.

Exiting from the modern world-religion view that not attending college is sinful and shameful, let's look at it soberly. Colleges offer 1) learning; 2) certifications and accreditation; and 3) partying and potential for meeting people.

While learning does take place in college, it is just as easy to gain knowledge outside of college. Most college learning is book learning, and one need not go to college to read books. Moreover, most of us have learned much of what we use to make a living and survive through experience, not through coursework.

It is true, however, that without a college degree and specific certifications, one simply will not be hired for certain jobs. While much of what I learned in my formal schooling was worthless or worse than worthless, I needed degrees for credentialing and licensing. The same is true for teachers and other professionals. But there's little reason not to get that degree as inexpensively as possible.

High school students are intimidated by media, peers and even some guidance counselors to worry about the so-called prestige of an institution, and parents are guilt-tripped to pay for prestigious institutions. I tell young people and their parents that in more than 25 years of private practice, no client has asked me what university I went to before they made an appointment. Furthermore, no publisher or editor has ever asked me where I received my education before they published my books or articles. So if you need to get some certification, shop around for the most inexpensive financial deal.

Besides learning and credentialing, colleges do offer a certain kind of socializing and partying that one does not get via independent study. However, is the typical college partying worth the price tag? How expansive is the typical socializing that goes on at colleges compared with many other ways of mixing it up with the world that are far less expensive?

I have worked with many extremely intelligent young people who simply don't like school. They can be shamed into going to college, or they can be exposed to a math that, from my experience, will very much interest them. Specifically, help them add up the money that will be spent on college. Add that to four years' lost income from not working. What's the total? $150,000? $200,000? More? Then consider financial resources-specifically, how much debt will likely accrue? How much money per month will that debt will cost? How long will that debt persist? If their parents were going to contribute some money toward their schooling, what could their children do with it instead of going to college? Use it to start up a business? Buy a home that is free and clear?

For the $100,000 price tag of four years of tuition plus room and board for the University of Cincinnati or Ohio State University (both public universities), one can buy two homes free and clear in a safe neighborhood where I live in Cincinnati, then live in one, rent out the other, and sit on them until the real estate market improves. I know intelligent, industrious and hardworking young non-academics who passed on college and student loan debt, and are now in their 30s and own their own homes, have money in savings, have successful businesses and are enjoying life, and whose major pain is sorrow for some of their student debtor friends.

Working with teenagers, young adults and their parents, I have discovered that the corporate media has given many of them a distorted sense of life with regard to risk. Specifically, many of them have been socialized to believe that the least risky path is the most prestigious college that one is admitted to. While young people have been socialized to be terrified of not having a college education or not receiving a degree from a prestigious institution, they have not been told about the risk of carrying huge debt.

The Political Battle: Liberation for Debt Slaves

Class consciousness is the starting point in both the prevention of and the liberation from debt slavery.

The 36 million Americans carrying federal student loan debt, the millions of others with private student loan debt, their parents who have co-signed on this debt, and other families who have been in this sinking boat or will soon be in that boat are an extremely large class. This group is actually a larger one than many other groups in American history that have won civil and economic justice for themselves through political struggle.

Some in desperation have urged for voluntary default on student loans. However, Occupy Student Debt views this campaign as ill-conceived, "We strongly advise anyone with student loan debt NOT to participate in this form of protest, especially given that the law, as currently written, allows lenders and collectors to profit from defaults."

What have other victimized groups-from African Americans to Latin Americans to gay Americans-in U.S. history done that has worked to gain social and economic justice? For one thing, they have made it clear to politicians that they will not vote for any politician who does not take actions to correct their victimization. So to begin with, members of this large group of student loan debtors and their families should show up at all candidate forums-including Obama's-and assault politicians with questions:

Do you think it is fair that gambling debt can be discharged in bankruptcy, but not the student loan debt of a working class person who tried to get a college education and couldn't find a decent-paying job?

Why is it that public universities are not free or low-cost in the United States when they are in many nations in the world?

Why is it that politicians don't worry about the "moral hazard" of bailing out large banks and insurance companies, but are concerned about debt forgiveness for student loan debtors when such forgiveness would be a "stimulus package" for the U.S. economy?

Beyond confronting the politician clowns in the circus, pressure needs to be applied directly to the circus owners who have orchestrated current bankruptcy laws and who have a stake in higher tuition in public universities. In "Meet 5 Big Lenders Profiting from the $1 Trillion Student Debt Bubble," AlterNet's Sarah Jaffe documents how Sallie Mae, along with Wells Fargo, Discover, NelNet, and JPMorgan Chase have ripped off students and their families. These giant corporations care only about their stock prices; and student loan debtors and their families can threaten stock prices by creating nasty publicity, by bringing pressure on institutional investors to divest, and utilize other ways that compel concessions.

Over the last 20 years, the financial-industrial complex's lackey politicians have altered bankruptcy laws so as to make it almost impossible for student loan debtors to declare bankruptcy, but these laws can be changed again to make student loan debt as easy to discharge in bankruptcy as is gambling debt. Also, if giant banks today can "buy money" from the Federal Reserve for almost nothing, then student loan interest rates should also approach 0 percent. Moreover, U.S. public universities were once free or extremely low cost, and that can be the case again, especially if the U.S. government stops spending trillions of dollars on wars that the majority of Americans oppose.

Part of class consciousness means recognizing the size of one's class and thus its political power. Class consciousness also means becoming angry by victimization and using that anger to energize organizing. In much of the world today, the 99 percent can get a B.A. and even an advanced degree without accruing any debt, as tuition and fees in public universities in many nations are either free or extremely low. That can be true again in United States if the 1 percent had reason to recalculate that they better once again throw the 99 percent a bone or two to keep us from demanding real power. Today, the 1 percent is emboldened and unafraid to completely piss on the 99 percent.

The solution to class exploitation and abuse is always the same. Get conscious, get angry, get energized, and get organized. Then strategically threaten the wealth and control of the 1 percent so they are forced to make concession. Expect a counterattack from the 1 percent, and counter it with even greater pressure for more economic justice.

Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist and author of Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite (Chelsea Green, 2011). His Web site is


8) In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad
January 25, 2012

The explosion ripped through Building A5 on a Friday evening last May, an eruption of fire and noise that twisted metal pipes as if they were discarded straws.

When workers in the cafeteria ran outside, they saw black smoke pouring from shattered windows. It came from the area where employees polished thousands of iPad cases a day.

Two people were killed immediately, and over a dozen others hurt. As the injured were rushed into ambulances, one in particular stood out. His features had been smeared by the blast, scrubbed by heat and violence until a mat of red and black had replaced his mouth and nose.

"Are you Lai Xiaodong's father?" a caller asked when the phone rang at Mr. Lai's childhood home. Six months earlier, the 22-year-old had moved to Chengdu, in southwest China, to become one of the millions of human cogs powering the largest, fastest and most sophisticated manufacturing system on earth. That system has made it possible for Apple and hundreds of other companies to build devices almost as quickly as they can be dreamed up.

"He's in trouble," the caller told Mr. Lai's father. "Get to the hospital as soon as possible."

In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers - as well as dozens of other American industries - have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.

However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious - sometimes deadly - safety problems.

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple's products, and the company's suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.

More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers' disregard for workers' health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.

"If Apple was warned, and didn't act, that's reprehensible," said Nicholas Ashford, a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, a group that advises the United States Labor Department. "But what's morally repugnant in one country is accepted business practices in another, and companies take advantage of that."

Apple is not the only electronics company doing business within a troubling supply system. Bleak working conditions have been documented at factories manufacturing products for Dell, Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and others.

Current and former Apple executives, moreover, say the company has made significant strides in improving factories in recent years. Apple has a supplier code of conduct that details standards on labor issues, safety protections and other topics. The company has mounted a vigorous auditing campaign, and when abuses are discovered, Apple says, corrections are demanded.

And Apple's annual supplier responsibility reports, in many cases, are the first to report abuses. This month, for the first time, the company released a list identifying many of its suppliers.

But significant problems remain. More than half of the suppliers audited by Apple have violated at least one aspect of the code of conduct every year since 2007, according to Apple's reports, and in some instances have violated the law. While many violations involve working conditions, rather than safety hazards, troubling patterns persist.

"Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost," said Li Mingqi, who until April worked in management at Foxconn Technology, one of Apple's most important manufacturing partners. Mr. Li, who is suing Foxconn over his dismissal, helped manage the Chengdu factory where the explosion occurred.

"Workers' welfare has nothing to do with their interests," he said.

Some former Apple executives say there is an unresolved tension within the company: executives want to improve conditions within factories, but that dedication falters when it conflicts with crucial supplier relationships or the fast delivery of new products. Tuesday, Apple reported one of the most lucrative quarters of any corporation in history, with $13.06 billion in profits on $46.3 billion in sales. Its sales would have been even higher, executives said, if overseas factories had been able to produce more.

Executives at other corporations report similar internal pressures. This system may not be pretty, they argue, but a radical overhaul would slow innovation. Customers want amazing new electronics delivered every year.

"We've known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they're still going on," said one former Apple executive who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. "Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn't have another choice."

"If half of iPhones were malfunctioning, do you think Apple would let it go on for four years?" the executive asked.

Apple, in its published reports, has said it requires every discovered labor violation to be remedied, and suppliers that refuse are terminated. Privately, however, some former executives concede that finding new suppliers is time-consuming and costly. Foxconn is one of the few manufacturers in the world with the scale to build sufficient numbers of iPhones and iPads. So Apple is "not going to leave Foxconn and they're not going to leave China," said Heather White, a research fellow at Harvard and a former member of the Monitoring International Labor Standards committee at the National Academy of Sciences. "There's a lot of rationalization."

Apple was provided with extensive summaries of this article, but the company declined to comment. The reporting is based on interviews with more than three dozen current or former employees and contractors, including a half-dozen current or former executives with firsthand knowledge of Apple's supplier responsibility group, as well as others within the technology industry.

In 2010, Steven P. Jobs discussed the company's relationships with suppliers at an industry conference.

"I actually think Apple does one of the best jobs of any companies in our industry, and maybe in any industry, of understanding the working conditions in our supply chain," said Mr. Jobs, who was Apple's chief executive at the time and who died last October.

"I mean, you go to this place, and, it's a factory, but, my gosh, I mean, they've got restaurants and movie theaters and hospitals and swimming pools, and I mean, for a factory, it's a pretty nice factory."

Others, including workers inside such plants, acknowledge the cafeterias and medical facilities, but insist conditions are punishing.

"We're trying really hard to make things better," said one former Apple executive. "But most people would still be really disturbed if they saw where their iPhone comes from."

The Road to Chengdu

In the fall of 2010, about six months before the explosion in the iPad factory, Lai Xiaodong carefully wrapped his clothes around his college diploma, so it wouldn't crease in his suitcase. He told friends he would no longer be around for their weekly poker games, and said goodbye to his teachers. He was leaving for Chengdu, a city of 12 million that was rapidly becoming one of the world's most important manufacturing hubs.

Though painfully shy, Mr. Lai had surprised everyone by persuading a beautiful nursing student to become his girlfriend. She wanted to marry, she said, and so his goal was to earn enough money to buy an apartment.

Factories in Chengdu manufacture products for hundreds of companies. But Mr. Lai was focused on Foxconn Technology, China's largest exporter and one of the nation's biggest employers, with 1.2 million workers. The company has plants throughout China, and assembles an estimated 40 percent of the world's consumer electronics, including for customers like Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Nintendo, Nokia and Samsung.

Foxconn's factory in Chengdu, Mr. Lai knew, was special. Inside, workers were building Apple's latest, potentially greatest product: the iPad.

When Mr. Lai finally landed a job repairing machines at the plant, one of the first things he noticed were the almost blinding lights. Shifts ran 24 hours a day, and the factory was always bright. At any moment, there were thousands of workers standing on assembly lines or sitting in backless chairs, crouching next to large machinery, or jogging between loading bays. Some workers' legs swelled so much they waddled. "It's hard to stand all day," said Zhao Sheng, a plant worker.

Banners on the walls warned the 120,000 employees: "Work hard on the job today or work hard to find a job tomorrow." Apple's supplier code of conduct dictates that, except in unusual circumstances, employees are not supposed to work more than 60 hours a week. But at Foxconn, some worked more, according to interviews, workers' pay stubs and surveys by outside groups. Mr. Lai was soon spending 12 hours a day, six days a week inside the factory, according to his paychecks. Employees who arrived late were sometimes required to write confession letters and copy quotations. There were "continuous shifts," when workers were told to work two stretches in a row, according to interviews.

Mr. Lai's college degree enabled him to earn a salary of around $22 a day, including overtime - more than many others. When his days ended, he would retreat to a small bedroom just big enough for a mattress, wardrobe and a desk where he obsessively played an online game called Fight the Landlord, said his girlfriend, Luo Xiaohong.

Those accommodations were better than many of the company's dorms, where 70,000 Foxconn workers lived, at times stuffed 20 people to a three-room apartment, employees said. Last year, a dispute over paychecks set off a riot in one of the dormitories, and workers started throwing bottles, trash cans and flaming paper from their windows, according to witnesses. Two hundred police officers wrestled with workers, arresting eight. Afterward, trash cans were removed, and piles of rubbish - and rodents - became a problem. Mr. Lai felt lucky to have a place of his own.

Foxconn, in a statement, disputed workers' accounts of continuous shifts, extended overtime, crowded living accommodations and the causes of the riot. The company said that its operations adhered to customers' codes of conduct, industry standards and national laws. "Conditions at Foxconn are anything but harsh," the company wrote. Foxconn also said that it had never been cited by a customer or government for under-age or overworked employees or toxic exposures.

"All assembly line employees are given regular breaks, including one-hour lunch breaks," the company wrote, and only 5 percent of assembly line workers are required to stand to carry out their tasks. Work stations have been designed to ergonomic standards, and employees have opportunities for job rotation and promotion, the statement said.

"Foxconn has a very good safety record," the company wrote. "Foxconn has come a long way in our efforts to lead our industry in China in areas such as workplace conditions and the care and treatment of our employees."

Apple's Code of Conduct

In 2005, some of Apple's top executives gathered inside their Cupertino, Calif., headquarters for a special meeting. Other companies had created codes of conduct to police their suppliers. It was time, Apple decided, to follow suit. The code Apple published that year demands "that working conditions in Apple's supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with respect and dignity, and that manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible."

But the next year, a British newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, secretly visited a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China, where iPods were manufactured, and reported on workers' long hours, push-ups meted out as punishment and crowded dorms. Executives in Cupertino were shocked. "Apple is filled with really good people who had no idea this was going on," a former employee said. "We wanted it changed, immediately."

Apple audited that factory, the company's first such inspection, and ordered improvements. Executives also undertook a series of initiatives that included an annual audit report, first published in 2007. By last year, Apple had inspected 396 facilities - including the company's direct suppliers, as well as many of those suppliers' suppliers - one of the largest such programs within the electronics industry.

Those audits have found consistent violations of Apple's code of conduct, according to summaries published by the company. In 2007, for instance, Apple conducted over three dozen audits, two-thirds of which indicated that employees regularly worked more than 60 hours a week. In addition, there were six "core violations," the most serious kind, including hiring 15-year-olds as well as falsifying records.

Over the next three years, Apple conducted 312 audits, and every year, about half or more showed evidence of large numbers of employees laboring more than six days a week as well as working extended overtime. Some workers received less than minimum wage or had pay withheld as punishment. Apple found 70 core violations over that period, including cases of involuntary labor, under-age workers, record falsifications, improper disposal of hazardous waste and over a hundred workers injured by toxic chemical exposures.

Last year, the company conducted 229 audits. There were slight improvements in some categories and the detected rate of core violations declined. However, within 93 facilities, at least half of workers exceeded the 60-hours-a-week work limit. At a similar number, employees worked more than six days a week. There were incidents of discrimination, improper safety precautions, failure to pay required overtime rates and other violations. That year, four employees were killed and 77 injured in workplace explosions.

"If you see the same pattern of problems, year after year, that means the company's ignoring the issue rather than solving it," said one former Apple executive with firsthand knowledge of the supplier responsibility group. "Noncompliance is tolerated, as long as the suppliers promise to try harder next time. If we meant business, core violations would disappear."

Apple says that when an audit reveals a violation, the company requires suppliers to address the problem within 90 days and make changes to prevent a recurrence. "If a supplier is unwilling to change, we terminate our relationship," the company says on its Web site.

The seriousness of that threat, however, is unclear. Apple has found violations in hundreds of audits, but fewer than 15 suppliers have been terminated for transgressions since 2007, according to former Apple executives.

"Once the deal is set and Foxconn becomes an authorized Apple supplier, Apple will no longer give any attention to worker conditions or anything that is irrelevant to its products," said Mr. Li, the former Foxconn manager. Mr. Li spent seven years with Foxconn in Shenzhen and Chengdu and was forced out in April after he objected to a relocation to Chengdu, he said. Foxconn disputed his comments, and said "both Foxconn and Apple take the welfare of our employees very seriously."

Apple's efforts have spurred some changes. Facilities that were reaudited "showed continued performance improvements and better working conditions," the company wrote in its 2011 supplier responsibility progress report. In addition, the number of audited facilities has grown every year, and some executives say those expanding efforts obscure year-to-year improvements.

Apple also has trained over a million workers about their rights and methods for injury and disease prevention. A few years ago, after auditors insisted on interviewing low-level factory employees, they discovered that some had been forced to pay onerous "recruitment fees" - which Apple classifies as involuntary labor. As of last year, the company had forced suppliers to reimburse more than $6.7 million in such charges.

"Apple is a leader in preventing under-age labor," said Dionne Harrison of Impactt, a firm paid by Apple to help prevent and respond to child labor among its suppliers. "They're doing as much as they possibly can."

Other consultants disagree.

"We've spent years telling Apple there are serious problems and recommending changes," said a consultant at BSR - also known as Business for Social Responsibility - which has been twice retained by Apple to provide advice on labor issues. "They don't want to pre-empt problems, they just want to avoid embarrassments."

'We Could Have Saved Lives'

In 2006, BSR, along with a division of the World Bank and other groups, initiated a project to improve working conditions in factories building cellphones and other devices in China and elsewhere. The groups and companies pledged to test various ideas. Foxconn agreed to participate.

For four months, BSR and another group negotiated with Foxconn regarding a pilot program to create worker "hotlines," so that employees could report abusive conditions, seek mental counseling and discuss workplace problems. Apple was not a participant in the project, but was briefed on it, according to the BSR consultant, who had detailed knowledge.

As negotiations proceeded, Foxconn's requirements for participation kept changing. First Foxconn asked to shift from installing new hotlines to evaluating existing hotlines. Then Foxconn insisted that mental health counseling be excluded. Foxconn asked participants to sign agreements saying they would not disclose what they observed, and then rewrote those agreements multiple times. Finally, an agreement was struck, and the project was scheduled to begin in January 2008. A day before the start, Foxconn demanded more changes, until it was clear the project would not proceed, according to the consultant and a 2008 summary by BSR that did not name Foxconn.

The next year, a Foxconn employee fell or jumped from an apartment building after losing an iPhone prototype. Over the next two years, at least 18 other Foxconn workers attempted suicide or fell from buildings in manners that suggested suicide attempts. In 2010, two years after the pilot program fell apart and after multiple suicide attempts, Foxconn created a dedicated mental health hotline and began offering free psychological counseling.

"We could have saved lives, and we asked Apple to pressure Foxconn, but they wouldn't do it," said the BSR consultant, who asked not to be identified because of confidentiality agreements. "Companies like H.P. and Intel and Nike push their suppliers. But Apple wants to keep an arm's length, and Foxconn is their most important manufacturer, so they refuse to push."

BSR, in a written statement, said the views of that consultant were not those of the company.

"My BSR colleagues and I view Apple as a company that is making a highly serious effort to ensure that labor conditions in its supply chain meet the expectations of applicable laws, the company's standards and the expectations of consumers," wrote Aron Cramer, BSR's president. Mr. Cramer added that asking Apple to pressure Foxconn would have been inconsistent with the purpose of the pilot program, and there were multiple reasons the pilot program did not proceed.

Foxconn, in a statement, said it acted quickly and comprehensively to address suicides, and "the record has shown that those measures have been successful."

A Demanding Client

Every month, officials at companies from around the world trek to Cupertino or invite Apple executives to visit their foreign factories, all in pursuit of a goal: becoming a supplier.

When news arrives that Apple is interested in a particular product or service, small celebrations often erupt. Whiskey is drunk. Karaoke is sung.

Then, Apple's requests start.

Apple typically asks suppliers to specify how much every part costs, how many workers are needed and the size of their salaries. Executives want to know every financial detail. Afterward, Apple calculates how much it will pay for a part. Most suppliers are allowed only the slimmest of profits.

So suppliers often try to cut corners, replace expensive chemicals with less costly alternatives, or push their employees to work faster and longer, according to people at those companies.

"The only way you make money working for Apple is figuring out how to do things more efficiently or cheaper," said an executive at one company that helped bring the iPad to market. "And then they'll come back the next year, and force a 10 percent price cut."

In January 2010, workers at a Chinese factory owned by Wintek, an Apple manufacturing partner, went on strike over a variety of issues, including widespread rumors that workers were being exposed to toxins. Investigations by news organizations revealed that over a hundred employees had been injured by n-hexane, a toxic chemical that can cause nerve damage and paralysis.

Employees said they had been ordered to use n-hexane to clean iPhone screens because it evaporated almost three times as fast as rubbing alcohol. Faster evaporation meant workers could clean more screens each minute.

Apple commented on the Wintek injuries a year later. In its supplier responsibility report, Apple said it had "required Wintek to stop using n-hexane" and that "Apple has verified that all affected workers have been treated successfully, and we continue to monitor their medical reports until full recuperation." Apple also said it required Wintek to fix the ventilation system.

That same month, a New York Times reporter interviewed a dozen injured Wintek workers who said they had never been contacted by Apple or its intermediaries, and that Wintek had pressured them to resign and take cash settlements that would absolve the company of liability. After those interviews, Wintek pledged to provide more compensation to the injured workers and Apple sent a representative to speak with some of them.

Six months later, trade publications reported that Apple significantly cut prices paid to Wintek.

"You can set all the rules you want, but they're meaningless if you don't give suppliers enough profit to treat workers well," said one former Apple executive with firsthand knowledge of the supplier responsibility group. "If you squeeze margins, you're forcing them to cut safety."

Wintek is still one of Apple's most important suppliers. Wintek, in a statement, declined to comment except to say that after the episode, the company took "ample measures" to address the situation and "is committed to ensuring employee welfare and creating a safe and healthy work environment."

Many major technology companies have worked with factories where conditions are troubling. However, independent monitors and suppliers say some act differently. Executives at multiple suppliers, in interviews, said that Hewlett-Packard and others allowed them slightly more profits and other allowances if they were used to improve worker conditions.

"Our suppliers are very open with us," said Zoe McMahon, an executive in Hewlett-Packard's supply chain social and environmental responsibility program. "They let us know when they are struggling to meet our expectations, and that influences our decisions."

The Explosion

On the afternoon of the blast at the iPad plant, Lai Xiaodong telephoned his girlfriend, as he did every day. They had hoped to see each other that evening, but Mr. Lai's manager said he had to work overtime, he told her.

He had been promoted quickly at Foxconn, and after just a few months was in charge of a team that maintained the machines that polished iPad cases. The sanding area was loud and hazy with aluminum dust. Workers wore masks and earplugs, but no matter how many times they showered, they were recognizable by the slight aluminum sparkle in their hair and at the corners of their eyes.

Just two weeks before the explosion, an advocacy group in Hong Kong published a report warning of unsafe conditions at the Chengdu plant, including problems with aluminum dust. The group, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, or Sacom, had videotaped workers covered with tiny aluminum particles. "Occupational health and safety issues in Chengdu are alarming," the report read. "Workers also highlight the problem of poor ventilation and inadequate personal protective equipment."

A copy of that report was sent to Apple. "There was no response," said Debby Chan Sze Wan of the group. "A few months later I went to Cupertino, and went into the Apple lobby, but no one would meet with me. I've never heard from anyone from Apple at all."

The morning of the explosion, Mr. Lai rode his bicycle to work. The iPad had gone on sale just weeks earlier, and workers were told thousands of cases needed to be polished each day. The factory was frantic, employees said. Rows of machines buffed cases as masked employees pushed buttons. Large air ducts hovered over each station, but they could not keep up with the three lines of machines polishing nonstop. Aluminum dust was everywhere.

Dust is a known safety hazard. In 2003, an aluminum dust explosion in Indiana destroyed a wheel factory and killed a worker. In 2008, agricultural dust inside a sugar factory in Georgia caused an explosion that killed 14.

Two hours into Mr. Lai's second shift, the building started to shake, as if an earthquake was under way. There was a series of blasts, plant workers said.

Then the screams began.

When Mr. Lai's colleagues ran outside, dark smoke was mixing with a light rain, according to cellphone videos. The toll would eventually count four dead, 18 injured.

At the hospital, Mr. Lai's girlfriend saw that his skin was almost completely burned away. "I recognized him from his legs, otherwise I wouldn't know who that person was," she said.

Eventually, his family arrived. Over 90 percent of his body had been seared. "My mom ran away from the room at the first sight of him. I cried. Nobody could stand it," his brother said. When his mother eventually returned, she tried to avoid touching her son, for fear that it would cause pain.

"If I had known," she said, "I would have grabbed his arm, I would have touched him."

"He was very tough," she said. "He held on for two days."

After Mr. Lai died, Foxconn workers drove to Mr. Lai's hometown and delivered a box of ashes. The company later wired a check for about $150,000.

Foxconn, in a statement, said that at the time of the explosion the Chengdu plant was in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations, and "after ensuring that the families of the deceased employees were given the support they required, we ensured that all of the injured employees were given the highest quality medical care." After the explosion, the company added, Foxconn immediately halted work in all polishing workshops, and later improved ventilation and dust disposal, and adopted technologies to enhance worker safety.

In its most recent supplier responsibility report, Apple wrote that after the explosion, the company contacted "the foremost experts in process safety" and assembled a team to investigate and make recommendations to prevent future accidents.

In December, however, seven months after the blast that killed Mr. Lai, another iPad factory exploded, this one in Shanghai. Once again, aluminum dust was the cause, according to interviews and Apple's most recent supplier responsibility report. That blast injured 59 workers, with 23 hospitalized.

"It is gross negligence, after an explosion occurs, not to realize that every factory should be inspected," said Nicholas Ashford, the occupational safety expert, who is now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "If it were terribly difficult to deal with aluminum dust, I would understand. But do you know how easy dust is to control? It's called ventilation. We solved this problem over a century ago."

In its most recent supplier responsibility report, Apple wrote that while the explosions both involved combustible aluminum dust, the causes were different. The company declined, however, to provide details. The report added that Apple had now audited all suppliers polishing aluminum products and had put stronger precautions in place. All suppliers have initiated required countermeasures, except one, which remains shut down, the report said.

For Mr. Lai's family, questions remain. "We're really not sure why he died," said Mr. Lai's mother, standing beside a shrine she built near their home. "We don't understand what happened."

Hitting the Apple Lottery

Every year, as rumors about Apple's forthcoming products start to emerge, trade publications and Web sites begin speculating about which suppliers are likely to win the Apple lottery. Getting a contract from Apple can lift a company's value by millions because of the implied endorsement of manufacturing quality. But few companies openly brag about the work: Apple generally requires suppliers to sign contracts promising they will not divulge anything, including the partnership.

That lack of transparency gives Apple an edge at keeping its plans secret. But it also has been a barrier to improving working conditions, according to advocates and former Apple executives.

This month, after numerous requests by advocacy and news organizations, including The New York Times, Apple released the names of 156 of its suppliers. In the report accompanying that list, Apple said they "account for more than 97 percent of what we pay to suppliers to manufacture our products."

However, the company has not revealed the names of hundreds of other companies that do not directly contract with Apple, but supply the suppliers. The company's supplier list does not disclose where factories are, and many are hard to find. And independent monitoring organizations say when they have tried to inspect Apple's suppliers, they have been barred from entry - on Apple's orders, they have been told.

"We've had this conversation hundreds of times," said a former executive in Apple's supplier responsibility group. "There is a genuine, companywide commitment to the code of conduct. But taking it to the next level and creating real change conflicts with secrecy and business goals, and so there's only so far we can go." Former Apple employees say they were generally prohibited from engaging with most outside groups.

"There's a real culture of secrecy here that influences everything," the former executive said.

Some other technology companies operate differently.

"We talk to a lot of outsiders," said Gary Niekerk, director of corporate citizenship at Intel. "The world's complex, and unless we're dialoguing with outside groups, we miss a lot."

Given Apple's prominence and leadership in global manufacturing, if the company were to radically change its ways, it could overhaul how business is done. "Every company wants to be Apple," said Sasha Lezhnev at the Enough Project, a group focused on corporate accountability. "If they committed to building a conflict-free iPhone, it would transform technology."

But ultimately, say former Apple executives, there are few real outside pressures for change. Apple is one of the most admired brands. In a national survey conducted by The New York Times in November, 56 percent of respondents said they couldn't think of anything negative about Apple. Fourteen percent said the worst thing about the company was that its products were too expensive. Just 2 percent mentioned overseas labor practices.

People like Ms. White of Harvard say that until consumers demand better conditions in overseas factories - as they did for companies like Nike and Gap, which today have overhauled conditions among suppliers - or regulators act, there is little impetus for radical change. Some Apple insiders agree.

"You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories, or you can reinvent the product every year, and make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards," said a current Apple executive.

"And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China."

Gu Huini contributed research.


9) Potent Sting Is Prepared in the Belly of a Warship
January 25, 2012

ABOARD THE U.S.S. JOHN C. STENNIS, in the North Arabian Sea - Depending on who describes it, a nuclear aircraft carrier can be any number of things: an instrument of national will, a nemesis to be threatened and watched, a fast-moving and wide-ranging city at sea.

When you are aboard one, though, a carrier is an immense warren of spaces and passageways between bulkheads, each with a purpose. There are galleys and offices, stores and workshops, clinics and weight rooms, a barber shop, a recycling center, machine rooms, nuclear reactors and more.

And here was the room that gives the ship its sting: the primary bomb-assembly magazine.

On this night, 17 sailors had climbed through a small circular scuttle on the mess deck and then descended, handhold by foothold, deep below the water line to a space that few sailors see. Nine levels below the flight deck, behind a heavy locked door, in a large, brightly lighted room arrayed with firefighting sprinklers, a dozen BLU-111 bomb bodies rested on metal pallets on the nonskid floor.

It was late, and much of the ship's crew was asleep. The carrier vibrated as its four screws cut through the dark sea off Pakistan's southwestern coast.

Several sailors in red shirts took positions near a metal rack topped with rollers. Others carried large metal fins. Still more pried open boxes holding switches and fuzes. Three sailors lifted the first bomb body with an electric hoist, moving it toward what would soon become an assembly line.

A bomb-building session had begun.

American Navy officers have a line they repeat passionately and often: A nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is an imposing and versatile manifestation of the United States' power. A ship like the Stennis, they say, which was sending aircraft on missions over Iraq one day and over Afghanistan 36 hours later, allows Washington to project influence, unrestricted by borders or basing rights.

To that, Chief Petty Officer Jaime L. Evock, 33, added her own line.

She was watching over the sailors in the red shirts, the uniform that signifies ordnance handlers. They were putting together the parts that allow a carrier and its aircraft to reach inside another country and kill.

Whatever anyone thinks of air power, without munitions and the people who know them, she said, "this ship would just be a floating airport."

There was something to this. At the end of the long chain of events that puts a carrier near a coastline and Navy strike fighters within range of a ground target, beyond the release point where the aircraft lets go of its ordnance, the final act lies with each missile or bomb descending through the air - which depends on the sailors who assembled it here.

On this night, the red shirts were handling a familiar staple. Each BLU-111 in the stack was a central part of a basic weapon of Western air-to-ground warfare - the general-purpose 500-pound bomb. Each contained 180 pounds of PBXN high explosive within an aerodynamic steel shell.

By itself, though, a bomb body is all but useless. That is where Chief Evock and her team came in: Their task was to carefully attach the components that made them live weapons. Think of a late-night game of Mr. Potato Head on the high seas.

Depending on the particular fins, fuzes and guidance packages that are attached, a BLU-111 can turn into a smart bomb guided by laser or GPS, or any of several kinds of "dumb" bombs, or an undersea mine. The weapon can be configured to penetrate a bunker, or to burrow into the dirt before bursting, thereby reducing the amount of lethal shrapnel and the intensity of the blast wave, to reduce the risk to noncombatants or unwanted damage to property. On this night Chief Evock's team was filling orders from the carrier's F/A-18 squadrons for a dozen unguided high-explosive bombs. Between flights to Afghanistan, air crews use these for training runs to maintain their qualifications.

The necessary parts had been carried here from a network of feeder magazines spread through the ship. Petty Officer Second Class Shawn M. Scheffler, 26, walked along the rack of parts as sailors called out lot numbers, compiling what is called a build sheet for each bomb.

For those expecting jangled nerves and beads of sweat as sailors handle explosives, this was the wrong place. Until assembled, released and armed, these bombs are stable. The red shirts worked methodically, with practiced precision and without the dramatic flair seen in "The Hurt Locker," which covered the handling of explosives of a different sort.

Once the rear fuzes were inserted and set and the fins attached and tightened down, each bomb was ready to be rolled by cart to an elevator that would carry it up to the flight deck. Up there the bombs would be guarded in an area called the bomb farm, waiting to be fitted to aircraft.

The first of the bombs this night were ready in perhaps 10 minutes. Petty Officer First Class Joshua J. Austring, 28, roamed the line, ensuring that the components were tightened to the correct torque.

"Numerous things can go wrong," he said. "We want to make sure that when the pilots are out there for the Marines, and the Marines ask for something to be dropped, that it is going to work."

Throughout the process, the petty officers kept records, documenting each step in the assembly; the record sheets will follow each bomb to an aircraft, and through its eventual use.

If a weapon does not function properly, they said, the information on the sheets can be shared with explosive ordnance disposal teams on the ground to help make an unexploded bomb safe. They can also be used to identify mistakes by the red shirts. "If there is a dud, it comes back to me," Petty Officer Scheffler said.

The sheets are also used when a bomb is flown on a sortie but not dropped; it is returned to this space to be disassembled and all the components accounted for.

Behind Petty Officer Scheffler was the handiwork of previous shifts: bombs to be guided by laser, bombs with GPS antennas in their tails, bombs to explode on impact or in midair.

The Stennis was wrapping up its tour in the Middle East and the Arabian Sea. Soon it would hand off responsibility for providing air support in Afghanistan to another carrier steaming its way.

The red shirts this night did not yet know it, but none of the bombs they assembled would be dropped in Afghanistan, where the use of air-to-ground force has declined as the conditions and tactics on the ground have changed. They would soon be broken back down and the parts checked and stored, and the Stennis's bow pointed east, toward home.


10) Possible Tokyo Evacuation Was Kept Secret in Nuclear Crisis
January 25, 2012

TOKYO (AP) - The Japanese government's worst-case scenario at the height of the nuclear crisis last year warned that tens of millions of people, including residents of Tokyo, might be forced to leave their homes, according to a report. Fearing widespread panic, officials kept the report secret.

The emergence of the 15-page internal document might add to complaints that the government withheld too much information about the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the world's worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

It also casts doubt about whether the government was sufficiently prepared to handle what could have been an evacuation on an extraordinary scale.

The report was submitted to Naoto Kan, the prime minister at the time, and his top advisers on March 25, two weeks after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing three reactors to melt down and generating hydrogen explosions that blew away protective structures.

Workers ultimately were able to bring the reactors under control, but at the time it was unclear whether those emergency measures would succeed. Mr. Kan commissioned the report, compiled by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, to examine what options the government had if those efforts failed.

The authorities evacuated 59,000 residents within 12 miles of the Fukushima plant, and thousands more were evacuated from other towns later. The report said, however, there was a chance that far larger evacuations might be necessary.

The report looked at several ways the crisis could escalate - explosions inside the reactors, complete meltdowns, and the structural failure of cooling pools used for spent nuclear fuel.

Using matter-of-fact language, diagrams and charts, the report said that if meltdowns spiraled out of control, radiation levels could soar.

In that case, it said, evacuation orders should be issued for residents within and possibly beyond a 105-mile radius of the plant and "voluntary" evacuations should be available to everyone living within 155 miles and beyond.

That would have included the Tokyo area, with a population of 35 million people, and other major cities like Sendai, with 1 million people.

The report further warned that contaminated areas might not be safe for "several decades."

"We cannot rule out further developments that may lead to an unpredictable situation at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where there has been an accident, and this report outlines a summary of that unpredictable situation," said the document, which was written by Shunsuke Kondo, the leader of the atomic energy commission.

After Mr. Kan received the report he and other Japanese officials publicly insisted that there was no need to prepare for more widespread evacuations.

Rumors of the report emerged this month after a panel was created to investigate possible cover-ups. The Kyodo News agency first reported on the contents of the document on Saturday.

Nevertheless, the government continues to refuse to make the document public. Goshi Hosono, the cabinet minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, implicitly acknowledged the document's existence this month, but said the government had felt no need to make it public.

"Even in the event of such a development, we were told that residents would have enough time to evacuate," Mr. Hosono said.


11) An Order in Oakland
January 25, 2012

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Oakland Police Department to consult with a court-appointed monitor before all major decisions, bringing the department one step closer to a federal takeover.

The order comes less than a week after the court-appointed monitor released a report that cited "serious concerns" about the department's handling of the Occupy protest and its capacity to "adopt and hold true to the best practices in American policing" on its own.

The department has been under court monitor since 2003. The monitor was supposed to help carry out necessary reforms within five years.

Nine years later, Judge Thelton E. Henderson said sufficient changes still had not been made.


12) Fed Signals That a Full Recovery Is Years Away
January 25, 2012

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve, declaring that the economy would need help for years to come, said Wednesday it would extend by 18 months the period that it plans to hold down interest rates in an effort to spur growth.

The Fed said that it now planned to keep short-term interest rates near zero until late 2014, continuing the transformation of a policy that began as shock therapy in the winter of 2008 into a six-year campaign to increase spending by rewarding borrowers and punishing savers.

The economy expanded "moderately" in recent weeks, the Fed said in a statement released after a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee, but jobs were still scarce, the housing sector remained deeply depressed and Europe's flirtation with crisis could undermine the nascent domestic recovery.

The Fed forecast growth of up to 2.7 percent this year, up to 3.2 percent next year and up to 4 percent in 2014, but at the end of that period, the central bank projected that the recovery would still be incomplete. Workers would still be looking for jobs, and businesses would still be looking for customers.

"What did we learn today? Things are bad, and they're not improving at the rate that they want them to improve," said Kevin Logan, chief United States economist at HSBC. "That's what they concluded - 'We've eased policy a lot, but we haven't eased it enough.' "

The economic impact of the low-interest rate extension, however, is likely to be modest. Many businesses and consumers can't qualify for loans, a problem the Fed's efforts do not address. Moreover, long-term rates already are at record low levels and, like pushing on a spring, the going gets harder as it nears the floor. Finally, the Fed already was widely expected by investors to hold rates near zero well into 2014, limiting the benefits of a formal announcement.

"I wouldn't overstate the Fed's ability to massively change expectations through its statements," the Fed's chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said at a press conference Wednesday after the announcement. "It's important for us to say what we think and it's important for us to provide the right amount of stimulus to help the economy recover from its currently underutilized condition."

The Fed's plans for interest rates were unveiled amid a barrage of statements the central bank released Wednesday as part of its campaign to improve its transparency. And while it pleased some investors in the markets, it left others befuddled. The Dow Jones industrial average, which had been down in the morning, began rising steadily after the Fed released its statement at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Dow finished the day up 81.21 points at 12,756.96.

First came the Fed's traditional statement, released after each meeting of its policy-making committee, which said that the central bank intended to hold short-term rates near zero "at least through late 2014."

Ninety minutes later, the Fed published for the first time the predictions of the committee's members on when they would raise interest rates. It showed that 11 of the 17 members expected the Fed to raise rates by the end of 2014. Taken together, the documents suggested that the Fed expected to keep rates near zero until late 2014, but probably not any longer than that.

Since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2007, the Fed has alternated bursts of activity with periods of rest, concluding several times that it had done enough only to find the economy still struggling to recover. The Fed announced last summer that the central bank intended to keep interest rates near zero through at least the middle of 2013, and that it would seek to reduce long-term interest rates through changes in the kinds of investment securities it holds. Since then, two meetings had passed without the introduction of any new programs.

The Fed's latest action came after a run of better-than-expected economic data, suggesting to some analysts that the pace of growth might begin to rise without any further help. The Fed also is under relentless assault from Republican presidential candidates who have said that its policies are doing little good and will eventually spur inflation.

And there is growing criticism that the Fed's policies are unfairly taking money from savers, including many seniors who planned their retirements around the interest rates that low-risk assets like bank deposits used to pay.

Mr. Bernanke said Wednesday that the Fed was aware of this, but it was acting again because it still did not believe that it has done enough. At the same time, he suggested that the Fed was not on the verge of more drastic measures, like further expanding its portfolio of mortgage-backed securities.

Such purchases remain under consideration, Mr. Bernanke said, but only "if we see that the recovery is faltering or if we see that inflation is not moving towards target."

As part of its transparency campaign, the Fed also published Wednesday a statement of its long-term goals, formalizing its longstanding commitment to maintain inflation at about 2 percent a year. The Fed also said that it was equally committed to minimizing unemployment, but that its exact goal would vary based on economic circumstances. It said the goal now was to reduce unemployment below 6 percent.

The new forecast showed that the Fed expects to hit its inflation target over the next three years, but to fall well short of its goals for unemployment. The Fed projected that unemployment would drop no lower than 8.2 percent this year, just slightly below the current rate of 8.5 percent, and no lower than 7.4 percent by the end of next year. By the end of 2014, the Fed still expects that at least 6.7 percent of people actively interested in working would not be able to find jobs.

In light of those projections, it was unclear why so many members of the policy-making committee expected to raise interest rates by the end of 2014.

Asked why the committee would seek to raise rates in such a situation, Mr. Bernanke said that he did not imagine it would.

"We're certainly willing to look for different ways to provide further support for the economy if in fact we have this unsatisfactory situation," he said.

As for the forecasts, he said, "there is no mechanical relationship between these projections" and the committee's decisions.

Some analysts cautioned that the Fed's statements and predictions were being given too much weight.

"Here's what all Fed promises are worth: nothing, if the data tell them to do something different," said Ian Shepherdson, chief United States economist at High Frequency Economics.

Furthermore, Mr. Bernanke's Fed is now making projections about decisions that could be made under the leadership of someone else. Mr. Bernanke's current term ends in early 2014.

"I wouldn't feel bound by anything the previous chairman had done," Mr. Shepherdson said. "And three years is a very, very long time."


13) Family Health Insurance Costs Doubled in 7 Years, Study Finds
January 26, 2012, 10:48 am

If you've seen your health insurance premiums increase along with your deductible, you're not alone. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund shows just how much more consumers are paying for employer-provided health insurance.

Total premiums - the amount paid by both employers and workers combined - for family coverage rose 50 percent from 2003 to 2010, to nearly $14,000 a year, the study found. (The fund is a private foundation that researches health policy issues. The report includes an interactive map showing premium increases by state).

Workers, meanwhile, are shouldering more of that burden. Their share of annual premiums increased by 63 percent over the same period. In 2010, employee premiums for family-plan coverage averaged about $3,700, up from roughly $2,300 back in 2003.

As a result, "many working families have seen little or no growth in wages as they have, in effect, traded off wage increases just to hold onto their health benefits," the report found.

What's more, employees are paying more for less, because of higher deductibles - the amount workers pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in. The average family deductible nearly doubled over the seven years studied, to almost $2,000 in 2010.

The study used annual employer data from the federal government to examine insurance cost trends in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Whether the rate of cost growth can be slowed, the report said, depends on the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in March 2010 and intended to go into effect over several years. The act has, for instance, rules to limit what insurance companies can spend on administrative costs and can be "a platform for further action," the report said.

In November, however, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the healthcare overhaul law, throwing some of its provisions into question.

"With rising costs and eroding coverage, much is at stake for the insured and uninsured alike as the nation looks forward," the report concluded.

If you have employer-based health insurance, how are you handling increases in your premiums and deductibles?


14) Mumia Abu-Jamal Transferred Out of Solitary Confinement, Into General Population
Posted on January 27, 2012

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections tells Democracy Now! it has transferred Mumia Abu-Jamal out of solitary confinement and into general population. The move comes seven weeks after Philadelphia prosecutor Seth Williams announced he would not pursue the death penalty against the imprisoned journalist. Abu-Jamal's legal team confirmed the move in an email from attorney, Judy Ritter. "This is a very important moment for him, his family and all of his supporters," Ritter wrote.

Supporters of Abu-Jamal note prison officials just received more than 5,000 petitions calling for his transfer and release. Superintendent John Kerestes has previously said Abu-Jamal would have to cut short his dreadlocks, and meet several other conditions, before a transfer would be allowed.

While on death row at SCI Green, Abu-Jamal made regular phone calls to Prison Radio in order to record his columns and essays, but prison officials revoked his phone privileges after he was moved to SCI Mahanoy, the Frackville, PA prison in which he's currently being held. Prison Radio has since announced it will continue to record and distribute Abu-Jamal's essays as read by his well-known supporters.


15) An Iraqi Massacre, a Light Sentence and a Question of Military Justice
January 27, 2012

WASHINGTON - The collapse this week of the prosecution of a Marine for a civilian massacre in Haditha, Iraq - a striking outcome, even in a military justice system with a mixed record of charging soldiers for war crimes - has not only outraged Iraqis but also stunned some American military law specialists.

"It's a travesty," said Eric S. Montalvo, a former prosecutor and defense counsel in the Marine Corps who is now in private practice specializing in military law. "I don't believe that justice was served."

The 2005 massacre, which came after a roadside bombing of a Marine convoy, killed 24 Iraqis, including women, children and a man in a wheelchair.

People who followed the case say it collapsed largely because of prosecutors' errors - including giving immunity to squad mates whose credibility as witnesses came into question, and tactical decisions that led to a lengthy delay before the trial got under way.

By the time of the trial last week, charges against six Marines had been dropped, and a seventh Marine had been acquitted in a civilian court. After several days of spotty testimony about the last remaining defendant, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 31, who admitted telling his men to "shoot first and ask questions later" after the bombing, the military agreed to a plea deal allowing him to avoid prison time.

"It was a series of missteps, errors built upon mistakes, until the case was just untriable," said Lt. Col. Gary D. Solis, a retired Marine Corps judge who now teaches military law at Georgetown University.

The Marine Corps rejected any claim of incompetence in the prosecution of the Haditha case.

"The case was handled in strict accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice," said Lt. Col. Joseph Kloppel, a spokesman.

Some of the challenges that the prosecution faced dovetailed with the difficulties often encountered in efforts to prosecute troops for unlawful killings in combat zones. Collecting physical evidence and finding witnesses can be difficult because the killings often occur in unstable and dangerous areas, and the cases often come to light only after time has passed.

The Haditha case also fits another pattern: Many cases involving civilian deaths arise during the chaos of combat or shortly afterward, when fighters' emotions are running high; they can later argue that they feared they were still under attack and shot in self-defense.

In those so-called fog-of-war cases, the military and its justice system have repeatedly shown an unwillingness to second-guess the decisions made by fighters who said they believed they were in danger, specialists say.

"There is a surprising pattern of acquittals," said Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School. "I think there is an unwillingness in some cases of military personnel to convict their fellow soldiers in the battle space."

The limited data available suggests that even when the military has tried to prosecute troops for murder or manslaughter in a combat zone, the acquittal rate has been significantly higher than it is in the civilian context.

Over the last 10 years, the Army has court-martialed 43 people on murder or manslaughter charges in cases that occurred in Iraq or Afghanistan and that included both civilian victims and detainees. Twenty-eight were convicted and 15 acquitted.

That acquittal rate is more than twice as high as it is in civilian criminal cases, said Stephen A. Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University. But, he said, the gap is not surprising, given the chaos of combat.

"Those considerations mean there's more likely to be a reasonable doubt, when you're trying to figure out what happened," he said.

The Marine Corps did not offer a detailed breakdown of its court-martial numbers, and even the numbers provided by the Army offer only a limited window into unlawful killings in the war zones. For example, they do not cover cases involving a lesser charge like negligent homicide, or those punished with administrative reprimands.

Some cases that have received prominent attention have never led to charges.

For example, in 2008 the military did not bring charges against two Marines who commanded a unit accused of firing indiscriminately at cars and bystanders along a 10-mile stretch in Afghanistan, killing 19 people and wounding 50. The shootings began after a suicide bomber attacked the unit, and the Marines said they were being shot at and had fired to defend themselves as their convoy fled.

By contrast, the justice system has been more likely to hand down convictions and lengthy sentences for killings detached from the chaos of combat.

One soldier was sentenced to life in prison - and another who testified against him received 24 years - in the "kill team" case in Afghanistan in 2010. In that case, the defendants were part of a drug-addicted platoon and were accused of deliberately going out with the goal of killing civilians at random - and collecting body parts as trophies.

Similarly, in 2006 an Army unit from a checkpoint in Mahmudiya, Iraq, gang-raped a 14-year-old girl who lived nearby and killed her and her family, with a plan to blame the deaths on insurgents - another premeditated crime that was not connected to combat. One soldier who had left the service by the time the case came to light was prosecuted in civilian court and sentenced to life, while three other soldiers received sentences of 90 to 110 years in a court-martial.

Colonel Solis also said that in the early years of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the military appeared to be particularly unwilling to hand out convictions to troops who killed civilians. But notwithstanding the Haditha case, he said, that generally changed over time, with more convictions and lengthier sentences in later years, including several involving the shooting of Iraqi prisoners.

Sarah Holewinksi, executive director of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, said it was impossible to know how many civilian deaths had occurred. She described bodies piling up in morgues with gunshot and shrapnel wounds or burns, but little way to find out who they were, who had killed them or whether they had been targets or caught in cross-fire.

"The fact that there was very little accountability for what happened in Haditha, that's really frustrating," she said. "We actually knew who these people were in Haditha. We knew their names. Usually we don't even know who the civilian casualties were."


16) Occupy Protesters Are Told They Can't Camp in Parks
January 28, 2012

The United States Park Police is warning Occupy DC protesters that they must stop camping at two parks by noon on Monday or risk arrest. The National Park Service distributed warning fliers to protesters on Friday at McPherson Square on K Street and at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue. The move comes after a hearing on Tuesday of the House oversight subcommittee whose portfolio includes the District of Columbia, at which Republican lawmakers questioned why camping has been allowed at the parks since October. The park service said it has a history of accommodating 24-hour vigils and protests. The flier distributed Friday defines camping as using land for "living accommodation purposes such as sleeping" and says camping materials must be removed and temporary structures left open for inspection.


17) Kelly Says Anti-Muslim Film Shouldn't Have Been Screened
January 27, 2012

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Friday that "The Third Jihad," a film depicting many American Muslim leaders as extremists, "should not have been shown" to New York City officers.

The film was played on a loop for officers during 2010 in a waiting area outside a counterterrorism training course, Mr. Kelly said. He placed responsibility for the decision to show the film on a sergeant, whom Mr. Kelly did not identify. "A sergeant, I think well meaning, took this film and put it in a loop in a room that was outside of the training area," Mr. Kelly told reporters at Police Headquarters.

The disclosure that the Police Department showed the film to many officers has strained relations between it and the city's Muslim communities.

The film claims that "much of Muslim leadership here in America" aims to "infiltrate and dominate" the United States. On Friday, Mr. Kelly characterized the film "as "inflammatory" and "a little much."

The film included an interview with Mr. Kelly; in his brief appearance, he speaks about the general threat of a nuclear or biological terror attack on the city but does not criticize Muslims.

In remarks on Friday, Mr. Kelly played down his involvement in the film, saying he often sits for interviews.

"In this job, you do a lot of interviews," he said.

Mr. Kelly suggested that the decision to screen the film did not go through ordinary channels. He said that ordinarily the department's counterterrorism division approved the material that was used as part of its training. But in this instance, he said, the film "was never approved" by the division. The sergeant who screened the film was not part of the counterterrorism division, he said.

Mr. Kelly said that he first saw the film on Tuesday, the day after an article in The New York Times disclosed that at least 1,489 police officers had seen it.


18) For Ford, Three Years of Profit in a Row
January 27, 2012

DEARBORN, Mich. - The Ford Motor Company reported its third consecutive full-year profit on Friday and its largest in 13 years, ensuring its hourly workers one of the biggest profit-sharing bonuses in the company's history.

Ford said strong sales in North America overshadowed higher commodity costs and losses in other parts of the world. The North American results mean 41,600 hourly workers in the United States will receive $6,200 in profit-sharing bonuses for 2011, up from $5,000 the year before.

Ford made an unusual accounting adjustment in the fourth quarter worth $12.4 billion that increased its 2011 earnings to $20.2 billion, the second-highest total ever for the carmaker. But excluding that one-time gain, Ford's fourth-quarter operating profit declined.

The accounting change eliminated most of a tax allowance created when the company was bleeding billions of dollars in 2006 and saw little likelihood of making a profit in the coming years. By making the adjustment, Ford is now signaling that it expects to continue earning substantial profits.

"It's a very positive signal," said the company's chief financial officer, Lewis W. K. Booth. "In our judgment, we're going to be profitable enough in the foreseeable future to use up the deferred assets."

The hourly workers received a $3,750 advance on the 2011 bonus after signing a new four-year labor agreement last fall and will receive the remaining $2,450 in March. The largest profit-sharing bonus at Ford came for the year 1999, when workers received an average of $8,000.

The accounting gain means that, on paper, Ford has recovered nearly all of the $30.1 billion it lost from 2006 through 2008. In the three years since, the company's profit totaled $29.5 billion.

Ford created the tax allowance in 2006, when Alan R. Mulally, the chief executive, joined the company as its performance was in a downward spiral and it mortgaged most assets to raise money. The losses meant Ford could no longer keep many deferred tax assets on its books, but after posting 11 consecutive profitable quarters, it was able to release nearly all of that allowance.

Doing so lets Ford offset taxes on about $35 billion of future profits, said James Hines, a law and economics professor at the University of Michigan.

"You would only do that if you were expecting a lot of pretax profits," Professor Hines said. "It's not a shock, given how well they've been doing."

By region, the company earned a pretax operating profit in North America in 2011 of $6.2 billion but lost a total of $119 million in its Europe and Asia-Pacific-Africa regions. Its fourth-quarter loss in Europe nearly quadrupled to $190 million, from $51 million in 2010, and Mr. Booth conceded that Europe "may stay challenging for some time."

In contrast, North America, the epicenter of Ford's past troubles, has become "the engine for supporting our growth worldwide," Mr. Mulally said.

The net profit was equal to $4.94 a share, up from $1.66 a share a year earlier, when Ford earned $6.6 billion.

Excluding the accounting change and other special items, Ford earned an operating profit of $8.8 billion for the year, or $1.51 a share, 6 percent more than its 2010 operating profit of $8.3 billion, or $1.91 a share.

Revenue increased 13 percent to $136.3 billion, but profit margins declined to 5.4 percent, from 6.1 percent in 2010.

In the fourth quarter, Ford reported an operating profit of $1.1 billion, or 20 cents a share, down from $1.3 billion, or 30 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts were expecting earnings of 25 cents a share, and consequently, Ford shares fell 4 percent on Friday to close at $12.21.

Including the accounting gain, Ford had net income of $13.6 billion. Revenue for the quarter rose 6 percent to $34.6 billion.

Ford ended 2011 with $13.1 billion in automotive debt, $400 million more than at the end of the third quarter but $6 billion less than it had a year earlier.

It had $22.9 billion in automotive cash, up $2.4 billion for the year.

Mr. Booth said the challenging economy in Europe and flooding in Thailand hurt fourth-quarter earnings. Commodity costs also ended up being higher than expected, he said.

With the auto market in the United States improving, Ford said it expected operating profit to increase in 2012 and for profit margins to be equal to or better than in 2011. The company said it planned to contribute $3.5 billion to its underfunded pension plans, including $2 billion in the United States.

The projections are "encouraging to us given all the industry headwinds," Adam Jonas, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note to clients Friday. He added, "2012 may be shaping up to be a very good year for Ford."

Ford sold 17 percent more cars and trucks at American dealerships in 2011, with big gains for its redesigned Explorer sport utility vehicle and year-old Fiesta subcompact car. This year, it is bringing out revamped versions of the Fusion midsize sedan and Escape crossover vehicle, along with several plug-in vehicles and hybrids.

Mr. Booth said Ford would be able to improve its performance in the years ahead by increasing sales and by operating more efficiently, which is a central focus of its turnaround plan, known as One Ford.

"We're really only at the beginning of getting the benefits of One Ford," Mr. Booth said.


19) Union Membership Rate Fell Again in 2011
January 27, 2012

The nation's union membership rate continued a decades-long slide last year, falling to 11.8 percent of the American work force in 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced in a report on Friday.

That was down from 11.9 percent the previous year even though total union membership edged up, rising by 49,000 last year to 14.76 million. The overall membership rate declined because the increases in organized labor's ranks did not keep pace with overall growth in employment.

The bureau announced these numbers as the nation's labor unions have been coming under heavy political attack. Republican governors and Republican-controlled legislatures in Wisconsin and in several other states have pushed to curb the power of public employees to bargain collectively. Moreover, Indiana is poised to become the first state in more than a decade to enact a "right to work" law, which bans employers and unions from agreeing to contracts that require workers to pay fees for union representation.

According to the bureau, 16.3 million workers are represented by unions, some 1.5 million more than the total membership, indicating that many workers opt out of joining the unions that represent them at their workplaces.

The percentage of public sector workers in unions was 37 percent last year, more than five times the 6.9 percent membership rate for private sector workers. In the 1950s, more than 35 percent of private sector workers were in unions.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the number of private sector workers in unions increased by 110,000 to 7.2 million, buoyed by a rebound in manufacturing and construction employment. But with many states, cities and school districts laying off employees, the number of public sector workers in unions dropped 61,000, to 7.56 million.

The bureau found that New York State had the highest unionization rate, 24.1 percent, followed by Alaska (22.1 percent) and Hawaii (21.5 percent). North Carolina had the lowest rate, 2.9 percent, with South Carolina second-lowest (3.4 percent). The data was collected in the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of 60,000 households.