Saturday, February 04, 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.


From: ""
Sent: Fri, February 3, 2012 6:39:49 PM
Subject: !*Mumia Photo off Death Row/Mega Bus Update from Sis. Ramona Africa

from sis Marpessa

Thank you all, FREE MUMIA!!!!

From Sis. Ramona at - 2/3/2012 5:27:24 P.M. - Subj: Mega Bus

ONA MOVE! This is to inform folks that if there is not a chartered bus leaving from your area going to the "occupy for Mumia" action in DC. on April 24th, you should check out Mega Bus at .
They have very reasonable fares and the sooner you reserve a seat, the cheaper it is, so don't delay. The fares have gone up a bit just today. Hope to see you in DC on the 24th---Ramona (more info at

From: National Lawyers Guild

SCI Mahanoy, February 2, 2012. Mumia Abu-Jamal celebrates his move off of death row with Heidi Boghosian and Professor Johanna Fernandez. This was Mumia's second contact visit in 30 years. His transfer to general population comes after a federal court ruled that instructions to jurors during his trial influenced them to choose death. A broad people's movement secured this victory, and it can now refocus on the goal of freedom. Join us on April 24, Mumia's birthday, as we Occupy the Justice Department in Washington, DC!

DREAD TIMES - Dedicated to the free flow of information -

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: ""
Sent: Fri, February 3, 2012 6:54:13 PM
Subject: Our Contact Visit w Mumia

from sis Johanna Fernandez

Comrades, Brothers and Sisters:

Heidi Boghosian and I just returned from a very moving visit with Mumia. We visited yesterday, Thursday, February 2. This was Mumia's second contact visit in over 30 years, since his transfer to General Population last Friday, Jan 27. His first contact visit was with his wife, Wadiya, on Monday, January 30.

Unlike our previous visits to Death Row at SCI Greene and to solitary confinement at SCI Mahanoy, our visit yesterday took place in a large visitor's area, amidst numerous circles of families and spouses who were visiting other inmates. Compared to the intense and focused conversations we had had with Mumia in a small, isolated visiting cell on Death Row, behind sterile plexiglass, this exchange was more relaxed and informal and more unpredictably interactive with the people around was more human. There were so many scenes of affection around us, of children jumping on top of and pulling at their fathers, of entire families talking intimately around small tables, of couples sitting and quietly holding each other, and of girlfriends and wives stealing a forbidden kiss from the men they were there to visit (kisses are only allowed at the start and at the end of visits). These scenes were touching and beautiful, and markedly different from the images of prisoners presented to us by those in power. Our collective work could benefit greatly from these humane, intimate images.

When we entered, we immediately saw Mumia standing across the room. We walked toward each other and he hugged both of us simultaneously. We were both stunned that he would embrace us so warmly and share his personal space so generously after so many years in isolation.

He looked young, and we told him as much. He responded, "Black don't crack!" We laughed.

He talked to us about the newness of every step he has taken since his release to general population a week ago. So much of what we take for granted daily is new to him, from the microwave in the visiting room to the tremor he felt when, for the first time in 30 years, he kissed his wife. As he said in his own words, "the only thing more drastically different than what I'm experiencing now would be freedom." He also noted that everyone in the room was watching him.

The experience of breaking bread with our friend and comrade was emotional. It was wonderful to be able to talk and share grilled cheese sandwiches, apple danishes, cookies and hot chocolate from the visiting room vending machines.

One of the highlights of the visit came with the opportunity to take a photo. This was one of the first such opportunities for Mumia in decades, and we had a ball! Primping the hair, making sure that we didn't have food in our teeth, and nervously getting ready for the big photo moment was such a laugh! And Mumia was openly tickled by every second of it.

When the time came to leave, we all hugged and were promptly instructed to line up against the wall and walk out with the other visitors. As we were exiting the prison, one sister pulled us aside and told us that she couldn't stop singing Kelly Clarkson's line "some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this." She shared that she and her parents had followed Mumia's case since 1981 and that she was overjoyed that Mumia was alive and in general population despite Pennsylvania's bloodthirsty pursuit of his execution. We told her that on April 24 we were going to launch the fight that would win Mumia's release: that on that day we were going to Occupy the Justice Department in Washington DC. She told us that because she recently survived cancer she now believed in possibility, and that since Mumia was now in general population she could see how we could win. She sent us off with the line from Laverne and Shirley's theme song - "never heard the word impossible!"- gave us her number, and asked us to sign her up for the fight.

We're still taking it all in. The journey has been humbling and humanizing, and we are re-energized and re-inspired!!

In the words of City Lights editor, Greg Ruggiero:"

"Long Term Goal: End Mass Incarceration.

Short Term Goal: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!"

--Johanna Fernandez

Facebook Link to Photo


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:




Pacific Northwest tour:
The campaign to free Bradley Manning

Jan/Feb events presented by Jeff Paterson

* 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

Courage 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,


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 *





#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.


(please forward widely)

Register Now! Extremely Reasonable Air Fare & Hotel Rooms Now Available!

United National Antiwar Coalition National Conference

March 23-25, 2012 at the Stamford CT Hilton (one stop from Harlem/125th St. on Metro North commuter line)

Say No to the NATO/G8 Wars & Poverty Agenda

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

The U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the G-8 world economic powers will meet in Chicago, May 19-22, to plan their financial and military strategies for the coming period. These elites, who serve the 1% at home and abroad, impose austerity--often by the use of drones, armies, and the police--on the 99% to expand their profits.

Join activists from the antiwar, occupy, environmental, immigrant rights, labor, and other movements at a conference from March 23-25, 2012 to learn more, to plan a May 19 "No to NATO/G8" demonstration in Chicago, and to democratically develop a program of action for the months to follow.

Special guest speakers include:

-Xiomara de Zelaya is currently a presidential candidate in Honduras and the partner of Manuel de Zelaya, the former president displaced by a U.S.-backed coup in 2009.

-Bill McKibben is the founder of the grassroots global warming group and the architect of the successful campaign to defeat the XL pipeline.

-Glen Ford is the executive editor of Black Agenda Report, a ground breaking site that covers U.S. wars abroad and wars at home from the perspective of the African American community.

-Richard Wolff is the author Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It

-Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid is the founder of the Muslim Peace Coalition

-Vijay Prashad is the author of The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World

-Andrew Murray is a member of the UK Trades Union Congress General Council and head of UK Stop the War coalition from 2001-2011

-Col. Ann Wright was a central Gaza Boat organizer and the editor of Dissent: Voices of Conscience

-Medea Benjamin is the founder of Code Pink

--Jared Ball is the author of I Mix What I Like.

-Clarence Thomas is an Oakland ILWU activist with Longview WA Longshore fight

-Scott Olsen is an Iraq war veteran and Occupy victim of Oakland police violence

-David Swanson is author and editor of War is a

-Pat Hunt is a founding member of the Coalition Against NATO/G8 Wars & Poverty Agenda

--Fignole St. Cyr is a leader of the Haitian Autonomous Workers Confederation

How to Register?-Where to Stay?-Transportation?-Submitting Resolutions?

Visit and click on UNAC conference.

Email: Phone: 518- 227-6947.
Send donations to: or to 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 Oakland Call for Participation in a May 1, 2012
Global General Strike

Occupy Oakland decides to participate in the Global General Strike on May Day!!!

Posted January 30, by ragtag

Categories: Front Page, GA Resolutions, Notice

The Occupy Oakland General Assembly passed the proposal today!

Occupy Oakland Call for Participation in a May 1, 2012
Global General Strike

The general strike is back, retooled for an era of deep budget cuts, extreme anti-immigrant racism, and massive predatory financial speculation. In 2011, the number of unionized workers in the US stood at 11.8%, or approximately 14.8 million people.

What these figures leave out are the growing millions of people in this country who are unemployed and underemployed. The numbers leave out the undocumented, and domestic and manual workers drawn largely from immigrant communities. The numbers leave out workers whose workplace is the home and a whole invisible economy of unwaged reproductive labor. The numbers leave out students who have taken on nearly $1 trillion dollars in debt, and typically work multiple jobs, in order to afford skyrocketing college tuition. The numbers leave out the huge percentage of black Americans that are locked up in prisons or locked out of stable or secure employment because of our racist society.

In December of 2011,Oakland's official unemployment rate was a devastating 14.1%. As cities like Oakland are ground into the dust by austerity, every last public dollar will be fed to corrupt, militarized police departments in order to contain social unrest. On November 2 of last year, Occupy Oakland carried out the first general strike in the US since the 1946 Oakland general strike,shutting down the center of the city and blockading the Port of Oakland. We must re-imagine a general strike for an age where most workers do not belong to labor unions, and where most of us are fighting for the privilege to work rather than for marginal improvements in working conditions. We must take the struggle into the streets, schools, and offices of corrupt local city governments. A re-imagined general strike means finding immediate solutions for communities impacted by budget cuts and constant police harassment beyond changing government representatives. Occupy Oakland calls for and will participate in a new direction for the Occupy movement based on the recognition that we must not only find new ways to provide for our needs beyond thestate we must also attack the institutions that lock us into an increasingly miserable life of exploitation, debt, and deepening poverty everywhere.

May Day is an international holiday that commemorates the 1886 Haymarket Massacre, when Chicago police defending, as always, the interests of the 1% attacked and murdered workers participating in a general strike and demanding an 8-hour workday. In the 21st century, despite what politicians tell us, class war is alive and well against workers (rank-and-file and non-unionized), students, people of color, un- and underemployed, immigrants, homeless, women, queer/trans folks, prisoners. Instead of finding common ground with monsters, it's time we fight them. And it's time we make fighting back an everyday reality in the Bay Area and beyond.

On May Day 2012, Occupy Oakland will join with people from all walks of life in all parts of the world around the world in a global general strike to shut down the global circulation of capital that every day serves to enrich the ruling classes and impoverish the rest of us. There will be no victory but that which we make for ourselves, reclaiming the means of existence from which we have been and continue to be dispossessed every day.



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]


Officers Pulled Off Street After Tape of Beating Surfaces
February 1, 2012, 10:56 am


Save the Rich by Garfunkel and Oates

Riki "Garfunkel" Lindhome and Kate "Oates" Micucci sing about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Shot by Raul Fernandez.


Everyone knows these times are really tough
And we need to band together say we've had enough
All the jobless people need to learn to be content
Cause what we need to do is protect our one percent

Save the rich
Let them know you care
Don't leave to languish
In their penthouse of despair

Save the rich
Let their bonuses be swollen
And let them keep it all tax free
Even if it's stolen

Save the rich

Let's give our job creators
More than their fare share
So they can go to Asia
And create jobs over there

There's loopholes and exemptions
And children to exploit
So give them special tax breaks
Go fuck yourself Detroit

And those who don't create jobs
Really need help too
Cause without their 7th home
How will they make it through

It's not time for complaining
Not the time for class war
It's time sacrifice yourself
To give them more and more and more
And more and more and more

Save the rich
America's built on corporate greed
It's not Wall Street's fault
If you can't get what you need

Save the rich
Don't go crying to mommy
Cause if you don't agree
Than you're socialist commie

Save the rich

Blame yourself for your problems
Not the bad economy
So what if those who have the most
Are the ones who put it in jeopardy

Fuck your student loans
Fuck your kids and their health care
It'll only take 10,000 of your jobs
To put another private jet in the air

Save the rich
It's so easy to do
Just let yourself be ignorant
To what's been done to you

Save the rich
By doing nothing at all
Deny all sense and logic
And just think really small
You should think really small
Or just don't think at all
And save the rich


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 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.

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
Please donate today.

P.S. I'm asking that you consider a contribution of $50 or more, or possibly becoming a sustainer at $15 a month. Of course, now is also a perfect time to make a end of year tax-deductible donation. Thanks again for your support!

Please click here to forward this to a friend who might
also be interested in supporting GI resisters.


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

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

Initiated by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Contact the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Committee to Stop FBI Repression
to Fitzgerald, Holder and Obama

The Grand Jury is still on its witch hunt and the FBI is still
harassing activists. This must stop.
Please make these calls:
1. Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300 . Then dial 0
(zero) for operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk.
2. Call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder 202-353-1555
3. Call President Obama at 202-456-1111

FFI: Visit or email or call
612-379-3585 .
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PO Box 14183
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P.O. Box 14183
Minneapolis, MN 55414

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

Thank you for your generosity! Tom Burke


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) Officers Pulled Off Street After Tape of Beating Surfaces
February 1, 2012, 10:56 am

2) Occupiers' 'Think Tank' Soldiers On, Nonconfrontationally
February 1, 2012, 6:56 am

3) Chicago U.S. Attorney office confirms 'investigation is continuing' against anti-war, international solidarity activists
Holy Land Foundation prosecutor now working on case
By Mick Kelly |
January 31, 2012

4) Do-It-Yourself Deportation
February 1, 2012

5) Indiana Governor Signs a Law Creating a 'Right to Work' State
February 1, 2012

6) 'Gasland' Filmmaker Arrested at Capitol Hearing
February 1, 2012, 2:08 pm

7) Behind Charges of Police Bias, Dozens of Latinos Who Spoke Up
February 2, 2012

8) Eyewitness report on Oakland events by Chris Kinder
The Saga of Lies About Oakland Occupy's
Attempt to Take the (Unused) Kaiser Center
By Chris Kinder
February 3, 2012

9) Cancer Group Backs Down on Cutting Off Planned Parenthood
[I have to say, here, that cancer research should not have to depend upon any charity. It should be fully funded by the government. Stop the wars now! Reverse the bailouts of the wealthy. Tax the rich to pay for what we humans need! Free healthcare for all!]
February 3, 2012, 12:05 pm

10) Police Kill 4 Protesters as Egyptians Unleash Fury Over Soccer Riot Deaths
"Many protesters said they believed that the Interior Ministry meant to retaliate against the Cairo soccer fans because of their leading role in several violent battles with the police at protests over the past three months. At nationally televised games, the ultras have also picked up the habit of chanting for the ouster of the military rulers who took over from President Hosni Mubarak, piercing the walls set up by the generals, who jealously guard their public image. 'The military is taking revenge on us,' said Tarek Adel, 24."
February 3, 2012

11) Officer Fatally Shoots Teenager in Bronx
February 2, 2012

12) Ex-Detective Avoids Jail in Drug-Planting Case
February 2, 2012

13) In Fuel Oil Country, Cold That Cuts to the Heart
February 3, 2012

14) Bird Population in Collapse Near Fukushima
Study: Many species show "dramatically" elevated DNA mutation rates, developmental abnormalities and extinctions
Common Dreams staff
Published on Friday, February 3, 2012 by Common Dreams

15) Occupy Oakland at a Crossroads: Rebirth or Self-Destruction?
By Josh Healey
February 1, 2012

16) Who's Big Brother???
Sent: Fri, February 3, 2012 3:27:16 PM
Subject: [icffmaj] Keep those letters and phone calls going for Jalil. We must get him out of SHU!

17) For a Revolutionary Black History Month
By Mumia Abu Jamal
Posted by TheBlackList on February 3, 2012

18) In Texas, a Backlash Against Student Testing
February 4, 2012

19) Bradley Manning to face court martial
By Lynn Herrmann
Feb 4, 2012

20) Homeless Families, Cloaked in Normality
February 3, 2012

21) U.S. Plans Shift to Elite Units as It Winds Down in Afghanistan
February 4, 2012

22) Pennsylvania Schools’ Financing Fight Pits District Against ‘Charter on Steroids’
February 4, 2012


1) Officers Pulled Off Street After Tape of Beating Surfaces
February 1, 2012, 10:56 am

Four police officers in the Bronx have been stripped of their guns and badges and placed on modified duty after a video shot by a civilian surfaced of them pummeling a drug suspect, the authorities said.

The Bronx district attorney's office said that it and the Police Department were investigating the episode. All the officers are stationed in the 42nd Precinct.

The beating of the suspect, Jateik Reed, 19, occurred last Thursday afternoon on East 168th Street in University Heights after the police say they saw him throw a bag of crack on the ground.

In the video, after officers wrestle Mr. Reed to the sidewalk, four of them repeatedly strike him with their batons and kick him for about 20 seconds. One officer points a canister of pepper spray at the videographer and orders him to "move back."

Mr. Reed was charged with assaulting a police officer, drug possession, menacing and harassment.

According to court papers, one officer, Jason Vasquez, saw Mr. Reed throw a bag of crack on the ground and saw two bags of marijuana in his hand.

When another officer, Robert Jaquez, approached Mr. Reed, he flailed his arms, refusing to be handcuffed, punched Officer Jaquez in the nose, opening a wound that required stitches, and head-butted him in the cheek, court papers say.

About two hours later, three family members and friends of Mr. Reed's went to the 42nd Precinct station house and got into a scuffle with the police, court papers say. They were charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest, court papers show.

Mr. Reed's mother, Schuan Reed, told New York 1 that he "has staples in his head, he has staples in his arm, his eyes were black, his whole entire back is black, blue, purple."

The police have not released the names of the officers who have been disciplined in the case.


2) Occupiers' 'Think Tank' Soldiers On, Nonconfrontationally
February 1, 2012, 6:56 am

Correction Appended

Winter has not been easy for Occupy Wall Street.

Violent confrontations between protesters and police officers in Oakland, Calif., New York and elsewhere have threatened to dominate news coverage of the movement. On Jan. 12, the New York City group posted on its Web site that its offices would temporarily be shuttered due to an anonymous complaint to the Buildings Department that people were camping out there. A couple of days later, with donations drying up, the governing body decided to limits spending in order to regroup and think how best to rebound in the spring.

"We were arguing about money every day instead of thinking about action," said Haywood Carey, one of the group's accountants. "We don't want that."

But there is at least one facet of the New York contingent that is still going strong: the People's Think Tank, a sort of intellectual nucleus around which people have gathered since the beginning of the movement to discuss topics like health care, food, energy, banking and the influence of corporate money in politics. In the early days of Occupy Wall Street, in the northeast corner of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, people joined the Think Tank each day from noon to 6 p.m. to talk about the direction of the movement. Every conversation was diligently recorded.

Those daily forums continue today. After the police cleared Zuccotti Park by force on Nov. 15, a small group of facilitators continued to hold discussions in the barricaded park and elsewhere in New York. On Jan. 17, during an event called Occupy Congress that drew hundreds of participants from around the country to Washington (many of whom are still there), about 70 people gathered for a Think Tank discussion on the West Lawn of the Capitol.

In November, New York University began archiving the Think Tank's recordings in its Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive. Michael Nash, director of the library, said he expected the archived recordings to begin appearing online by next January.

"I think OWS is the most exciting thing that's happened in radical politics since maybe the 1960s," Mr. Nash said. "It's changed political discourse in ways you couldn't have imagined six months ago."

Back in November, The New York Times profiled Tim Weldon, 35, a founder and frequent facilitator of the People's Think Tank. On Jan. 17, The Times caught up with Mr. Weldon in Washington during Occupy Congress.

In this follow-up video, Weldon explains how he's tried to go mobile with the Think Tank and expand it in New York City beyond Manhattan.

"I support Oakland and people taking to the streets, but I'd take an intellectual gathering any day," he said. "I'm not here to shout at police."

Correction: February 1, 2012

An earlier version of this post misspelled the name of the library at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive.


3) Chicago U.S. Attorney office confirms 'investigation is continuing' against anti-war, international solidarity activists
Holy Land Foundation prosecutor now working on case
By Mick Kelly |
January 31, 2012

The Northern Illinois Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas stated that the "investigation is continuing" into the case of the anti-war and international solidarity activists hit with FBI raids and grand jury repression. Barry Jonas is known for his leading role in prosecuting the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation while he was trial attorney for the Department of Justice Counter-terrorism Section.

This confirms what the U.S. Attorney's office related some months ago - they are preparing multiple indictments of multiple activists. The FBI raided seven homes and the government subpoenaed 23 international solidarity activists to a Chicago grand jury over a year ago. The anti-war activists refused to appear at the secretive grand jury and launched a campaign against political repression. The U.S. government is threatening to imprison anti-war activists on the grounds of "material support for terrorism."

The confirmation of the ongoing investigation came during a January 24, 2012 phone call between Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas and attorney Bruch Nestor, who represents some of the political activists.

Nestor initially contacted Minneapolis Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter to view some of the sealed documents in the case. The grand jury proceedings against the anti-war activists are secret. The vast majority of documents relating to their case are under seal, meaning the targeted activists or their attorneys cannot view them. Assistant U.S. Attorney Winter helped to oversee the Sept. 24, 2010 raids and in recent months represented the government on the issue of returning property seized in the raids. Winter told Nestor to contact Chicago Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas.

Jonas told Nestor the documents would remain secret "pending completion of the investigation."

Barry Jonas is responsible for railroading the Holy Land leaders. Jonas views solidarity with Palestine as a crime deserving long-term imprisonment. He is willing to pull every dirty trick available to him to obtain convictions. The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was once the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. Its efforts were geared towards providing humanitarian aid to help the people of Palestine and other countries. In 2001 its offices were raided. Three years later, five people associated with the charity were indicted. The first trial ended with a hung jury. The second trial ended with convictions. The five defendants received sentences that range from 15 to 65 years in prison.

The Holy Land trial included secret witnesses - the defense never got to find out who the witnesses were - the use of hearsay evidence, and the introduction of evidence that had nothing to do with the defendants in the case, such as showing a video from Palestine of protesters burning an American flag, as a means to prejudice the jury.

As lead prosecutor, Barry Jonas played a key role in all this. He is now working under Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who runs the federal grand jury attacking anti-war and international solidarity activists.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression urges all supporters of peace with justice to sign the pledge to take action ( in the event that international solidarity activists are indicted.

In a closely related case, the FBI directed the LA Sheriff to raid the home of veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes. Carlos Montes is now facing trial and imprisonment on six felony charges relating back to a student protest that happened 42 years ago. See
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4) Do-It-Yourself Deportation
February 1, 2012

ONE of my happiest childhood memories is of my parents at my First Communion. But that's because most of my memories from that time are of their being absent. They weren't there for my elementary school graduation, or for parent-teacher conferences.

From the time I was just a baby in Mexico, I lived with my grandparents while my parents traveled to other Mexican states to find work. I was 6 in 2000 when they left for the United States. And it took five years before they had steady jobs and were able to send for me. We've been together in this country ever since, working to build a life. Now I am 17 and a senior in high school in New York City. But my parents have left again, this time to return to Mexico.

Last week, when asked in a debate what America should do about the 11 million undocumented immigrants living here, Mitt Romney said he favored "self-deportation." He presented the strategy as a kinder alternative to just arresting people. Instead, he said, immigrants will "decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here."

But really this goes along with a larger movement in states like Arizona and Alabama to pass very tough laws against immigrants in an attempt to make their lives so unbearable that they have no choice but to leave. People have called for denying work, education and even medical treatment to immigrants without documentation; many immigrants have grown afraid of even going to the store or to church.

The United States is supposed to be a great country that welcomes all kinds of people. Does Mr. Romney really think that this should be America's solution for immigration reform?

You could say that my parents have self-deported, and that it was partly a result of their working conditions. It's not that they couldn't find work, but that they couldn't find decent work. My dad collected scrap metal from all over the city, gathering copper and steel from construction sites, garbage dumps and old houses. He earned $90 a day, but there was only enough work for him to do it once or twice a week. My mom worked at a laundromat six days a week, from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., for $70 a day.

But the main reason they had to leave was personal. I have a brother, 16, a year younger than me, still living in Mexico. He was too little to cross the border with me when I came to the United States, and as the government has cracked down on immigration in the years since, the crossing has become more expensive and much more dangerous. And there was no hope of his getting a green card, as none of us have one either. So he stayed with my grandparents, but last year my grandmother died and two weeks ago my grandfather also died. My parents were confronted with a dilemma: Leave one child alone in New York City, or leave the other alone in Mexico. They decided they had to go back to Mexico.

Now once again I am missing my parents. I know it was very difficult for them to leave me here, worrying about how I will survive because I'm studying instead of earning money working. I'm living with my uncles, but it is hard for my mother to know that I'm coming home to a table with no dinner on it, where there had been dinner before. And it's hard for me not having my parents to talk to, not being able to ask for advice that as a teenager you need. Now that they are in Mexico, I wonder who will be at my graduation, my volleyball games or my birthday? With whom will I share my joy or my sad moments?

I know a girl named Guadalupe, whose parents have also decided to return to Mexico, because they can't find work here and rent in New York City is very expensive. She is very smart and wants to be the first in her family to attend college, and she wants to study psychology. But even though she has lived here for years and finished high school with a 90 percent average, she, like me, does not have immigration papers, and so does not qualify for financial aid and can't get a scholarship.

People like Guadalupe and me are staying in this country because we have faith that America will live up to its promise as a fair and just country. We hope that there will be comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to citizenship for people who have spent years living and working here. When reform happens, our families may be able to come back, and if not, at least we will be able to visit them without the risk of never being able to return to our lives here. We hope that the Dream Act - which would let undocumented immigrants who came here as children go to college and become citizens and which has stalled in Congress - will pass so that we can get an education and show that even though we are immigrants we can succeed in this country.

If, instead, the political climate gets more and more anti-immigrant, eventually some immigrants will give up hope for America and return to their home countries, like my parents did. But I don't think this is something that our presidential candidates should encourage or be proud of.

Immigrants have made this country great. We are not looking for a free ride, but instead we are willing to work as hard as we can to show that we deserve to be here and to be treated like first-class citizens. Deportation, and "self-deportation," will result only in dividing families and driving them into the shadows. In America, teenagers shouldn't have to go through what I'm going through.

Antonio Alarcón is a high school student and a member of Make the Road New York, an immigrant advocacy group. This essay was translated by Natalia Aristizabal-Betancur from the Spanish.


5) Indiana Governor Signs a Law Creating a 'Right to Work' State
February 1, 2012

Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, who had once said that he did not wish to add a "right to work" provision to the state's labor laws, signed a bill on Wednesday doing just that.

The legislation, which bars union contracts from requiring non-union members to pay fees for representation, makes Indiana the first state in more than a decade to enact right to work legislation and the only one in the Midwestern manufacturing belt to have such a law.

Mr. Daniels, a Republican who is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election this year, signed the measure only hours after it cleared the Republican-held State Senate - an unusually speedy journey through the Statehouse aimed, many said, at ending what had become a rancorous, partisan fight before the national spotlight of the Super Bowl arrives in Indianapolis on Sunday. The bill, which takes effect immediately, makes Indiana the 23rd state in the nation with such a law.

It remained uncertain whether final approval of the bill would prevent union protests at events related to the Super Bowl, and on Wednesday thousands of union members and supporters marched, chanting in protest, from the Statehouse to Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of the football game.

"Seven years of evidence and experience ultimately demonstrated that Indiana did need a right to work law to capture jobs for which, despite our highly rated business climate, we are not currently being considered," Mr. Daniels said in a statement that his office released after he signed the bill. For a month, the issue had loomed over Indianapolis, and hundreds of union members crowded, day after day, into the Statehouse halls. Democrats, who hold minorities in both legislative chambers, had refused at times to go to the House floor, hoping to block a vote on the matter, which they argued would weaken unions and lower pay and wages for workers at private-sector companies. Even on Wednesday, when it was clear that passage was certain, tensions were high. As senators spoke on both sides, protesters in the halls chanted loudly and a few people inside the chamber called out objections during the proceedings. In the end, senators voted 28 to 22 in favor of the measure, which was approved last week by the House.

Republican leaders defended the unusually swift passage of the measure, noting what they described as "overt threats" by union members and others about intentions to raise the right to work issue during the Super Bowl.

"We sized up early on that passage prior to the Super Bowl would be appropriate," Brian Bosma, the speaker of the House, said Wednesday, adding that the law enforcement authorities were prepared for any efforts to disrupt the city's first Super Bowl. "That would be extremely unfortunate," he said, "and, I think, tremendously unpopular."

For their part, union leaders said the Republicans had overblown the union's intentions on the football game.

"They're trying to make working men and women look like thugs, like we're going to ruin an event," said Jeff Harris, a spokesman for the Indiana A.F.L.-C.I.O., who added that their expectation for the Super Bowl was to have "a presence but an informational presence," handing out leaflets on the issue.


6) 'Gasland' Filmmaker Arrested at Capitol Hearing
February 1, 2012, 2:08 pm

Josh Fox, whose HBO documentary "Gasland" raised questions about the safety of the natural gas drilling technique known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was handcuffed and led away on Wednesday as he tried to film a House Science Committee hearing on the topic.

The Capitol Police said that Mr. Fox, whose film was nominated for an Academy Award last year, was charged with unlawful entry.

Mr. Fox brought a crew to film a hearing of the energy and environment subcommittee that was looking into an Environmental Protection Agency finding that fracking was probably responsible for groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyo.

Mr. Fox is preparing a sequel to "Gasland," which has contributed to widespread concern about fracking, a method of mining that uses large volumes of water and chemicals under high pressure to free gas deposits from underground shale.

The chairman of the subcommittee conducting the hearing, Representative Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican, objected to the presence of Mr. Fox and another crew. A committee chairman has the discretion to bar cameras from hearings, according to a committee aide.

The hearing was broadcast at the committee's Web site. Mr. Harris said the two crews did not have proper media credentials.

Representative Brad Miller, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, asked that the crews be allowed to stay and called for a vote. After a recess to round up more members, the Republicans prevailed and the cameras were barred.

"This is a public hearing!" Mr. Fox shouted as he was led away, according to several news reports. "I'm being denied my First Amendment rights."

2:51 p.m. | Updated

Mr. Fox was released by the Capitol police shortly after 1 p.m. with a misdemeanor citation for, in his words, "practicing journalism." He said in a telephone interview that he did not have to pay a fine or post bail. A court date is set for Feb. 15.

Mr. Fox said that Wednesday's hearing was scheduled on short notice and he tried to contact committee staff to get clearance to videotape it. He never got an answer, he said, so he and a videographer showed up at the hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building, where they were told they could watch the hearing but could not tape it.

"We have followed this case for three years, and it seemed as if this hearing was an attack on the E.P.A. and we wanted to be there," Mr. Fox said. "We wanted this to be transparent to the American people. This is emblematic of what is happening across the world."

He said that he did not buy the argument that the committee chairman had the right under House rules to bar cameras or uncredentialed reporters from hearings.

"No one on the Hill is exempt from the Constitution," Mr. Fox said. "Period."

An earlier version of this post misstated the month in which Mr. Fox has a court date related to the misdemeanor charge. It is February, not October. It also misstated the affiliation of a camera crew that was also present at the hearing: while a committee staff member said it was under contract to ABC, the network says that it did not send the crew to the hearing.


7) Behind Charges of Police Bias, Dozens of Latinos Who Spoke Up
February 2, 2012

EAST HAVEN, Conn. - It was the first Sunday Mass after the Rev. James Manship was arrested for trying to document harsh treatment of Hispanics by the police, and Angel Fernandez-Chavero had a request and a question.

The request to the congregation, as he looked out toward the 800 worshipers at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, was for anyone who had been the victim of harassment or violence by the East Haven police to provide a statement. The question to himself was whether anyone would.

But when about 100 Latino congregants, overcoming fears about their safety and in some cases their immigration status, came forward, it marked the turning point in what became a major case of racial profiling, in which four East Haven police officers were arrested last week on federal charges of conspiracy, false arrest, excessive force and obstruction of justice.

The arrests resulted from a two-year investigation by federal officials and dogged legal work on behalf of the Hispanic residents by the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. But it happened mostly because dozens of the area's most vulnerable residents decided to stand up.

"Those are the real heroes, people who risked physical injury, loss of liberty and harm to their families to tell their stories, who stood up and said, 'This has to stop,' " said Mr. Fernandez-Chavero, a leader on the pastoral council of St. Rose of Lima, an overwhelmingly Hispanic church just over the town line in New Haven. "It was a case of everyday people who decided if they stood together they might be able to accomplish something."

Strife between minorities and the police is hardly a new subject in East Haven, which as late as the 1990 census was 98 percent white and had a reputation as a place where minorities should tread carefully, if at all.

In 1997, the town police chased Malik Jones, a black motorist who was suspected of speeding, into New Haven and shot him four times at close range, killing him. He was unarmed. The image of the Police Department was not helped when officers on the department's softball team wore T-shirts a few weeks later reading "East Haven Police Boys on the Hood," showing officers pressing the heads of two grimacing gang members onto a car hood.

When it was time to name a new chief in 1998, Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. opted for Leonard Gallo, a longtime officer with a reputation as a hard-liner who had fallen out of favor in New Haven when the city's first black mayor, John Daniels, tried to repair relations with the black community. In his new East Haven job, Chief Gallo soon elevated the officer who shot Mr. Jones to be the department's spokesman. No criminal charges were filed after the officer said that he believed Mr. Jones's car was rolling backward, and that he feared for his life. Mr. Jones's mother filed a lawsuit alleging that her son's death was part of a pattern of discriminatory practices, and won a $900,000 jury award, which East Haven is still fighting.

But as the Hispanic community began to grow in East Haven, particularly on Main Street, Hispanic business owners and residents began reporting a significant increase in police harassment and surveillance. Father Manship's arrest in February 2009, after he tried to use a video camera to document police behavior at a bodega, My Country Store, finally made the issue public. The charges were soon dropped.

The arrest and the accumulated stories of Latinos led to a civil rights complaint filed by the Yale clinic in March 2009, with vivid tales of arbitrary police stops, beatings, stun-gun shots, racial slurs, illegal searches and seemingly capricious law enforcement. An analysis by the Yale students found that from June 1, 2008, to Feb. 28, 2009, of 376 tickets issued on two main streets in East Haven, 210 were issued to drivers with Hispanic names. It also found that the police frequently mischaracterized the race and ethnicity of the drivers ticketed, identifying many people of Hispanic background as simply white or black, understating the rate at which tickets were given to Hispanics.

The church and the Yale clinic guaranteed anonymity to Latinos who came forward. But church officials said they agonized over whether they could really protect people who offered statements. The fears were not just based on the experiences of Hispanics. April Capone Almon, East Haven's mayor between 2007 and 2011, tried to limit Chief Gallo's power and finally succeeded in putting him on administrative leave, pending the federal investigation. Before that, however, Ms. Almon and her secretary were arrested for allegedly interfering with the towing of cars at a town beach. The state eventually dropped the charges.

The New Haven Independent, an online newspaper, which first reported on Father Manship's arrest, said the mayor's arrest has become part of the federal investigation. Citing people familiar with the grand jury proceedings, it said her arrest report was repeatedly altered. Allegations of altered police reports also figure into the case against the police.

Chief Gallo announced his retirement this week, saying he did not want to become a distraction. But federal officials say there could be more indictments, and the chief's lawyer, Jonathan J. Einhorn, acknowledged that the chief was the officer cited in the indictment as "Co-conspirator 1." He has said local politics played a large part in the allegations lodged against the department.

But even after the arrests last week, business people said they still feared that there would ultimately be retaliation by the police.

Marcia Chacon, who owns My Country Store with her husband, Wilfredo Matute, said the police had camped out in front of her business, stopping customers, making arrests and eventually scaring away much of her clientele.

Monica Oleas, a clerk in the store, said customers would come in to buy a phone card "for $2 and get a ticket for $500, $600."

When Ms. Chacon spoke at a news conference after the filing of the original complaint, she said officers followed her and her husband as they left their business, stopping them to check their documents for no reason before eventually letting them go.

She said she felt that she was taking a risk by coming forward, but that she had no choice.

"If I didn't take that risk, I would have lost everything," Ms. Chacon said.

Father Manship faced his own risks. According to the indictment and other reports, Chief Gallo repeatedly contacted Father Manship's supervisors in an effort to have him moved from the parish, to the extent that leaders of the diocese feared for his safety.

Father Manship said this week that people were still anxious, still digesting what happened. But he said he was heartened that so many found the strength to address the issues.

"It's not just about accepting the world as it is," he said, "but in this case it's allowing us as a faith community to move closer to the world as it should be."

At last Sunday's service at the church, founded in 1907 for the Irish, then taken over by the Italians, and now home to Mexicans, Ecuadoreans, Peruvians and other Hispanics, Father Manship offered a prayer and added a topical reference asking for an end to racism and "a path toward justice and peace."

"For the arrested police officers," he told parishioners, in Spanish, "particularly their families who ache for them - may Jesus give them comfort."

And for those who continue to live with fear, he said, "may Jesus give them the strength, his friendship and his church."

Noah Rosenberg contributed reporting.


8) Eyewitness report on Oakland events by Chris Kinder
The Saga of Lies About Oakland Occupy's
Attempt to Take the (Unused) Kaiser Center
By Chris Kinder
February 3, 2012

For two days in a row, in the 29th and 30th January 2012 issues, the SF Chronicle reports that on the Oakland Occupy march to take over the city-owned, empty and unused Henry J Kaiser Convention Center, "Police ordered marchers to disperse after someone in the crowd threw what appeared to be a smoke bomb at the officers" ("Trading Blame in Occupy aftermath," SF Chronicle, 30 January 2012).

This is a big lie.

My companion Beth and I were on the Oakland Occupy march, and we were present on the South side of the convention center when the first attempt to bring down the cyclone fence took place. The fence separated the occupiers from the convention center, and as this could have been the only way into the target, a few individuals were trying to bring it down. A thin line of cops on the other side of the fence guarded the empty center. We were a few yards away, when Beth saw a cop detach something from his belt, and toss it right at us. Suddenly, the smoke bomb exploded right at our feet. We were both knocked over, I think by others who were also shocked by the explosion, and trying to get away. We picked ourselves up despite slight injuries, and moved on.

Police did order people to disperse in this incident, but it was [this is the correction] AFTER the smoke bomb that we saw. The smoke bomb, fired by police, was in direct response to the attempt to access the unused, city-owned center, and it was before any order to disperse. The repeated orders to disperse did manage to (gradually) get the march heading back toward Oscar Grant (Frank Ogawa-City Hall) Plaza. But the smoke bomb was from the cops, not the protestors.

Another Big Lie: Who Attacked Who

Next, a few minutes later, there was an explosion of tear gas and smoke bombs (flash bangs) just a block or so away from the Kaiser Center. The police attack was met by anarchist militants who had both plastic shields and large shield contraptions made of corrugated metal, with carry-handles bolted to the inside, requiring several people to carry. A bit cumbersome, I thought. We were a block away from this action, but we heard a cheer go up at one point. "What happened," I asked. "Someone threw a tear gas canister back at the cops," was the reply. My first thought was, I hope that person was wearing gloves, since these things are hot. I heard later that someone who threw a tear gas canister back at cops suffered severe burns.

This raises the question of attacks on the police. There may have been one or two instances in which things were thrown at the cops, I don't know. The cops managed to come up with three "injured" officers, one with a bruise, one with a scratch, etc. Who are the chief perpetrators of violence? The police injured many in this action, some in brutal vindictive beatings, in which they wailed away on protesters for no reason.

Demonstrations such as this have many elements, and some protestors may hurl a thing or two at the defenders of property and the capitalist order. The vast majority of this march wanted to peacefully liberate unused property in order to provide social services... services which capitalism is cutting back on, and not providing. The protectors of capital and property are far and away the chief perpetrators of violence.

And Another Big Lie: the YMCA

In the second march, the one that happened mostly after dark, marchers were trapped in a "ketteling" (read corralling, or surrounding), right outside the YMCA at 24th and Broadway. According to witness reports, some 300 plus were arrested, after the cops charged in from two sides and pinned the marchers against the YMCA building. Media reports that the Occupy had tried to take over the Y were so much dreck. What happened was that the cops jammed people in against the building, but did not give an order to disperse. They simply said, "you're all under arrest."

According to eye witness reports, some marchers were asking to be ordered to disperse, but this was not to be. The cops proceeded to handcuff and throw hundreds into busses which were brought up for the task. About 100 protestors escaped the dragnet by entering the YMCA and running out the back door. At no point was there any attempt to take over the YMCA.

Yet Another Big Lie: the City Hall

The Mayor said they used a crowbar, but witnesses are united and clear that the doors to City Hall were open at 8:30 PM or so on the night of the 28th, when a handful of protestors entered City Hall and did some damage, such as tipping over a model of the City Hall building, spray painting, burning a US flag, and allegedly damaging a display of children's art. Furthermore, reports from frequent Occupy supporters indicate that the City often left the doors unlocked so that occupiers and homeless people could come in to use the facilities. And there was a press conference about to take place. So why did the city make up the lie that someone had used a crowbar to open the doors?

Occupy protestors were outraged when Mayor Jean Quan said, at a press conference that night at 9 PM, that the doors had been opened with a crow bar (where's the evidence?); and City Council member Ignacio de La Fuente charged the Occupy protestors with being "domestic terrorists." Just like the regime of Ron Dellums, another notorious liberal who came before her, both former leftist Jean Quan, and conservative former union bureaucrat de La Fuente, have shown that there is no difference between liberals and arch reactionaries when it comes to defense of private property and the state. (de La Fuente is also a former 'leftist'. - R.S.)

The Occupy movement has many challenges ahead. The attempt to take the Kaiser center was politically solid, but tactically virtually impossible. The cops had the advantage, and chased, pursued and arrested the demonstrators all day and night. A handful of people trashed some things, but the occupy movement as a whole suffered a defeat, and it showed on the faces of many that night. There are many decades of revolutionary experience, and class-struggle lessons to learn from. It's time to get started.


9) Cancer Group Backs Down on Cutting Off Planned Parenthood
[I have to say, here, that cancer research should not have to depend upon any charity. It should be fully funded by the government. Stop the wars now! Reverse the bailouts of the wealthy. Tax the rich to pay for what we humans need! Free healthcare for all!]
February 3, 2012, 12:05 pm

Susan G. Komen @komenforthecure
We want to apologize for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation reversed its decision to cut funds for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood affiliates and apologized, saying the move had cast doubt on its "commitment to our mission of saving women's lives."

The announcement came after an avalanche of criticism online from people voicing their dismay on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr about the move. The decision led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to Planned Parenthood this week, including a $250,000 donation that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Thursday.

In the statement issued this morning, the foundation's board of directors and Nancy G. Brinker, founder and chief executive, acknowledged the decision had been "deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends."

Although multiple sources have said the board's decision to eliminate funds to Planned Parenthood was driven by abortion opponents inside and outside of the organization, the Komen foundation, in its statement, insisted that its decision was not "done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood."

"Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation," the statement said. "We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair."

The statement asked everyone "who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics - anyone's politics."

It was the perception that the Komen foundation was inserting politics into providing health care services, especially to underserved women, that helped prompt a firestorm of debate online and offline.

At Planned Parenthood, Heather Holdridge, who is the director of digital advocacy strategy, said there have been multiple online organizing efforts in the past on the organization's behalf, but this one was different, in part, because people organized themselves online.

"I think this was a tipping point for us," Ms. Holdridge said. "I think something has happened, where people are upset that two great organizations that have this shared mission were now in this difficult position. And so, we have been seeing that response through our supporters, some of whom were not our supporters before Tuesday afternoon."

The Komen foundation said that it would be making calls to its key supporters and affiliates starting this afternoon. "We ask for the public's understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve," the group said.


10) Police Kill 4 Protesters as Egyptians Unleash Fury Over Soccer Riot Deaths
"Many protesters said they believed that the Interior Ministry meant to retaliate against the Cairo soccer fans because of their leading role in several violent battles with the police at protests over the past three months. At nationally televised games, the ultras have also picked up the habit of chanting for the ouster of the military rulers who took over from President Hosni Mubarak, piercing the walls set up by the generals, who jealously guard their public image. 'The military is taking revenge on us,' said Tarek Adel, 24."
February 3, 2012

CAIRO - The police in several Egyptian cities battled on Thursday night and Friday with thousands of die-hard soccer fans angry at the military-led government's failure to prevent dozens of deaths at a soccer riot in Port Said the previous night.

By Friday morning, there were reports that the police here in Cairo were firing birdshot at the crowd and The Associated Press reported that at least one demonstrator had been killed.

In Suez, two protesters were wounded by birdshot and two others by live ammunition, the Health Ministry said. Three had died by Friday, according to hospital officials. In Cairo, more than 600 demonstrators were injured by tear gas and stampeding crowds.

The fans, known as ultras, began their demonstration in the capital by directing their fury in part at the Port Said club's supporters, who attacked a visiting Cairo club, Al Ahly, on Wednesday night. But by the time their march reached the barbed-wire barriers protecting the Interior Ministry, the soccer rivalries were forgotten in a battle against their shared enemy, the police.

Rumors that the police had deliberately abetted the violence at the match on Wednesday circulated through the crowd but were impossible to confirm. Protesters charged that the police had neglected to search fans for weapons, or had opened gates for the Port Said fans while closing them on the Cairo contingent or had turned out the lights to give the home fans cover.

About 70 people were killed in the riot on Wednesday.

Many protesters said they believed that the Interior Ministry meant to retaliate against the Cairo soccer fans because of their leading role in several violent battles with the police at protests over the past three months. At nationally televised games, the ultras have also picked up the habit of chanting for the ouster of the military rulers who took over from President Hosni Mubarak, piercing the walls set up by the generals, who jealously guard their public image.

"The military is taking revenge on us," said Tarek Adel, 24.

Egypt's newly elected Parliament, called into an emergency session to address the crisis related to the riot, sent a fact-finding committee to Port Said to investigate the Interior Ministry's role in the violence, with orders to report back by next week.

Essam el-Erian, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood bloc that leads Parliament, presented the signatures of 120 lawmakers who demanded that charges be filed against the interior minister, and Parliament assigned a panel to question him.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the leader of the ruling military council and the de facto chief executive, called for three days of national mourning.

He also accepted the resignation of the governor of Port Said. The government suspended the district's director of security and the chief of its detective unit, and by the end of the night the state media reported that the men had been detained by the police.

The Interior Ministry said it had interrogated more than 50 people suspected of instigating the clashes, including a dozen minors.

The bodies of 52 people killed in Port Said were taken to a Cairo morgue before they were released for burial here, suggesting that most of the victims were on the side of the Cairo team.

News reports indicated that many of those killed in the fighting were teenagers or younger, and at least one victim in the Cairo morgue appeared to be younger than 10.

Groups of ultras organized around rival clubs began appearing in Egypt within the past decade. Although rival fans often clashed, all shared a common culture of obscene chants, special firecrackers and instruments, and a violent hatred of the police who usually try to control them. Some paint vulgar insults to the police on walls around Cairo.

In the year since the uprising against Mr. Mubarak, the ultras have increasingly found that political demonstrations are good for practicing their second favorite sport, fighting with police officers. They played an especially pivotal role in the defense of Tahrir Square against Mubarak supporters in the so-called Battle of the Camels a year ago Thursday. They also led an attack on the Israeli Embassy that grew out of a demonstration in September.

Increasingly politicized, they have recently expanded their repertoire to include chants demanding the end of military rule, calling for the death of Field Marshal Tantawi or making lewd insults about the mothers of the ruling generals.

In the aftermath of the deaths in Port Said, the rival groups of ultras around Cairo's two most popular teams, Al Ahly and Zamalek, marched together in a rare moment of solidarity, with each of their banners on the same pole as an Egyptian flag.

At first some of their chants denounced the Port Said fans. But as the march progressed they sang mostly about the ruling generals. "Ultras Al Ahly will execute Tantawi," they chanted, and "They killed the free ultras because they took the side of the revolutionaries."

And as they crossed Tahrir Square toward the Interior Ministry, their chants grew more aggressive: "We either avenge them or die like them."

By nightfall, thousands of ultras filled the downtown district around the ministry, drumming, chanting and eventually setting garbage and tires on fire. Some of those present said they were not soccer fans but activists who had come out in political solidarity against the ruling military council, which they also blamed for allowing the violence.

The soccer fans hurled obscenities at the row of riot police officers stationed behind a barbed-wire barrier in front of the Interior Ministry, and around dusk began dismantling the barrier. A row of demonstrators formed in front of the ultras to try to separate them from the riot police.

While some tried to calm the crowd, others egged each other on. "If you are scared, you can go home" was a common refrain. "They kill us, or we kill them," one person shouted.

Around 6:30 p.m., the ultras began dragging a large metal gate toward the front line. The police suddenly ran back in retreat.

The tear gas began just as the retreating officers reached the ministry, and at midnight the crowds were still surging forward and retreating back through narrow side streets. People with motorcycles carted away the injured, some of whom appeared too young to shave.

"They're very stupid," one demonstrator said of Egypt's military rulers. "They turned the biggest fan base in the country against them."

Mayy El Sheikh contributed reporting.


11) Officer Fatally Shoots Teenager in Bronx
February 2, 2012

A teenager was shot and killed by a police officer in the Bronx on Thursday afternoon after running into his home as officers pursued him, the authorities said.

Paul J. Browne, the New York Police Department's chief spokesman, said there was "no evidence that he was armed" when the officer, a member of a narcotics unit, shot him once in the upper left chest. It was unclear what had prompted the chase, Mr. Browne said.

The teenager, Ramarley Graham, 18, was pronounced dead at Montefiore Medical Center.

During the pursuit, Mr. Graham turned onto East 229th Street and entered his family's house, Mr. Browne said, adding that a team of officers followed him inside. The team was a plainclothes unit, though the group does wear raid jackets with police insignia on the front and back and shoulder patches on each arm. The officer had struggled with Mr. Graham near the entrance to a bathroom, Mr. Browne said, before shooting him. A small amount of marijuana was found in the toilet, Mr. Browne said.

It was unclear whether the gun, a 9-millimeter semiautomatic, was fired during the struggle or if the men had been separated when the shooting occurred, Mr. Browne said. Another officer and a sergeant at the scene were being interviewed by the police on Thursday night.

The name of the officer who fired was not released, but he had not been involved in any prior shootings, Mr. Browne said. He is 30 years old, and joined the force in July 2008, Mr. Browne said.

Shortly before 10 p.m., East 229th Street was still cordoned off near the shooting scene, as anguished nearby residents tried to reach their homes.

One neighbor, Eulalee Robinson, 60, said she had attended the baby shower for Mr. Graham's birth. "He was running, I heard, running into a bathroom," she said. "And they shot him. Why?"

Near a local deli on Thursday, Jessica Rodriguez, 34, said Mr. Graham had offered to pick up coffee for her every morning. "When I bring my kids to school, he's getting a peppermint tea," she said. "He played football in the backyard with my kids."

At the deli, a group of boys gathered, blasting a Jamaican song from a small set of speakers. The lyrics chronicled the death of a young man at the hands of the police, they said.

The shooting of Mr. Graham was the third time in a week that a member of the Police Department had killed a suspect. On Jan. 26, an off-duty police lieutenant shot a 22-year-old carjacking suspect in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. And on Sunday, an off-duty detective shot a 17-year-old in Bushwick, Brooklyn, during a mugging, the authorities said.

Stacey Stowe contributed reporting.


12) Ex-Detective Avoids Jail in Drug-Planting Case
February 2, 2012

A former New York City police detective who was convicted of planting drugs on two people has been sentenced to probation after asking a judge not to send him to jail.

The former detective, Jason Arbeeny, a 14-year police veteran, told Justice Gustin Reichbach of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn that he could not look at himself in the mirror anymore. He then said to the judge, "Please, sir, I'm begging you, don't send me to jail." He also apologized to the victims.

Justice Reichbach said he had come to court Thursday thinking the crime required a jail sentence. But he said that Mr. Arbeeny's pleas had gotten to him. He sentenced Mr. Arbeeny to five years' probation and 300 hours of community service.

Mr. Arbeeny planted drugs on a woman and her boyfriend in 2007.


13) In Fuel Oil Country, Cold That Cuts to the Heart
February 3, 2012

With the darkening approach of another ice-hard Saturday night in western Maine, the man on the telephone was pleading for help, again. His tank was nearly dry, and he and his disabled wife needed precious heating oil to keep warm. Could Ike help out? Again?

Ike Libby, the co-owner of a small oil company called Hometown Energy, ached for his customer, Robert Hartford. He knew what winter in Maine meant, especially for a retired couple living in a wood-frame house built in the 19th century. But he also knew that the Hartfords already owed him more than $700 for two earlier deliveries.

The oil man said he was very sorry. The customer said he understood. And each was left to grapple with a matter so mundane in Maine, and so vital: the need for heat. For the rest of the weekend, Mr. Libby agonized over his decision, while Mr. Hartford warmed his house with the heat from his electric stove's four burners.

"You get off the phone thinking, 'Are these people going to be found frozen?' " Mr. Libby said. No wonder, he said, that he is prescribed medication for stress and "happy pills" for equilibrium.

Two days later, Mr. Libby told his two office workers about his decision. Diane Carlton works the front desk while her daughter-in-law, Janis, handles accounts. But they share the job of worrying about Ike, whose heart, they say, is too big for his bantam size and, maybe, this business.

The Hartford case "ate him," Janice Carlton recalled. "It just ate him."

Mr. Libby drove off to make deliveries in his oil truck, a rolling receptacle of crumpled coffee cups and cigarette packs. Diane Carlton, the office's mother hen, went home early. This meant that Janis Carlton was alone when their customer, Mr. Hartford, stepped in from the cold. He had something in his hand: the title to his 16-year-old Lincoln Town Car.

Would Hometown Energy take the title as collateral for some heating oil? Please?

Maine is in the midst of its Republican presidential caucus, the state's wintry moment in the battle for the country's future. But at this time of year, almost nothing matters here as much as basic heat.

While federal officials try to wean the country from messy and expensive heating oil, Maine remains addicted. The housing stock is old, most communities are rural, and many residents cannot afford to switch to a cleaner heat source. So the tankers pull into, say, the Portland port, the trucks load up, and the likes of Ike Libby sidle up to house after house to fill oil tanks.

This winter has been especially austere. As part of the drive to cut spending, the Obama administration and Congress have trimmed the energy-assistance program that helps the poor - 65,000 households in Maine alone - to pay their heating bills. Eligibility is harder now, and the average amount given here is $483, down from $804 last year, all at a time when the price of oil has risen more than 40 cents in a year, to $3.71 a gallon.

As a result, Community Concepts, a community-action program serving western Maine, receives dozens of calls a day from people seeking warmth. But Dana Stevens, its director of energy and housing, says that he has distributed so much of the money reserved for emergencies that he fears running out. This means that sometimes the agency's hot line purposely goes unanswered.

So Mainers try to make do. They warm up in idling cars, then dash inside and dive under the covers. They pour a few gallons of kerosene into their oil tank and hope it lasts. And they count on others. Maybe their pastor. Maybe the delivery man. Maybe, even, a total stranger.

Hometown Energy has five trucks and seven employees, and is run out of an old house next to the Ellis variety store and diner. Oil perfumes the place, thanks to the petroleum-stained truckers and mechanics clomping through. Janis Carlton, 35, tracks accounts in the back, while Diane Carlton, 64, works in the front, where, every now and then, she finds herself comforting walk-ins who fear the cold so much that they cry.

Their boss, Mr. Libby, 53, has rough hands and oil-stained dungarees. He has been delivering oil for most of his adult life - throwing the heavy hose over his shoulder, shoving the silver nozzle into the tank and listening for the whistle that blows when oil replaces air.

Eight years ago, he and another Dixfield local, Gene Ellis, who owns that variety store next door, created Hometown Energy, a company whose logo features a painting of a church-and-hillside scene from just down the road. They thought that with Ike's oil sense and Gene's business sense, they'd make money. But Mr. Libby says now that he'd sell the company in a heartbeat.

"You know what my dream is?" Mr. Libby asked. "To be a greeter at Walmart."

This is because he sells heat - not lumber, or paper, or pastries - and around here, more than a few come too close to not having enough. Sure, some abuse the heating-assistance program, he says, but many others live in dire need, including people he has known all his life.

So Mr. Libby does what he can. Unlike many oil companies, he makes small deliveries and waves off most service fees. He sets up elaborate payment plans, hoping that obligations don't melt away with the spring thaw. He accepts postdated checks. And he takes his medication.

When the customer named Robert Hartford called on the after-hours line that Saturday afternoon, asking for another delivery, Mr. Libby struggled to do what was right. He cannot bear the thought of people wanting for warmth, but his tendency to cut people a break is one reason Hometown Energy isn't making much money, as his understanding partner keeps gently pointing out.

"I do have a heart," Mr. Libby said. But he was already "on the hook" for the two earlier deliveries he had made to the couple's home. What's more, he didn't know even know the Hartfords.

Robert and Wilma Hartford settled into the porous old house, just outside of Dixfield, a few months ago, in what was the latest of many moves in their 37-year marriage. Mr. Hartford was once a stonemason who traveled from the Pacific Northwest to New England, plying his trade.

Those wandering days are gone. Mr. Hartford, 68, has a bad shoulder, Mrs. Hartford, 71, needs a wheelchair, and the two survive on $1,200 a month ("Poverty," Mrs. Hartford says). So far this year they have received $360 in heating assistance, he said, about a quarter of last year's allocation.

Mr. Hartford said he used what extra money they had to repair broken pipes, install a cellar door, and seal various cracks with Styrofoam spray that he bought at Walmart. That wasn't enough to block the cold, of course, and the two oil deliveries carried them only into early January.

There was no oil to burn, so the cold took up residence, beside the dog and the four cats, under the velvet painting of Jesus. The couple had no choice but to run up their electric bill. They turned on the Whirlpool stove's burners and circulated the heat with a small fan. They ran the dryer's hose back into the basement to keep pipes from freezing, even when there were no clothes to dry.

And, just about every day, Mr. Hartford drove to a gas station and filled up a five-gallon plastic container with $20 of kerosene. "It was the only way we had," he said. Finally, seeing no other option, Mr. Hartford made the hard telephone call to Hometown Energy. Panic lurked behind his every word, and every word wounded the oil man on the other end.

"I had a hard time saying no," Mr. Libby said. "But I had to say no."

When Mr. Hartford heard that no, he also heard regret. "You could tell in his voice," he said.

Two days later, Mr. Hartford drove up to Hometown Energy's small office in his weathered gray Lincoln, walked inside, and made his desperate offer: The title to his car for some oil.

His offer stunned Janis Carlton, the only employee present. But she remembered that someone had offered, quietly, to donate 50 gallons of heating oil if an emergency case walked through the door. She called that person and explained the situation.

Her mother-in-law and office mate, Diane Carlton, answered without hesitation. Deliver the oil and I'll pay for it, she said, which is one of the ways that Mainers make do in winter.


14) Bird Population in Collapse Near Fukushima
Study: Many species show "dramatically" elevated DNA mutation rates, developmental abnormalities and extinctions
Common Dreams staff
Published on Friday, February 3, 2012 by Common Dreams

An upcoming study shows the future for birds and insect life around Fukushima has been badly damaged, an ominous sign of things to come.

The study, set to be published next week in Environmental Pollution, looked at 14 species of birds common to Fukushima and Chernobyl. David McNeill writes in the Irish Times:

Researchers working in the irradiated zone around the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant say bird populations there have begun to dwindle, in what may be a chilling harbinger of the impact of radioactive fallout on local life.

In the first major study on the impact of the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, the researchers from Japan, the US and Denmark say that analysis of 14 species of birds common to Fukushima and Chernobyl shows the effect on numbers is worse in the Japanese disaster zone. [..]

Timothy Mousseau and Anders Pape Moller say their research there uncovered major negative effects among the local bird population, including reductions in longevity, male fertility and birds with smaller brains.

Many species show "dramatically" elevated DNA mutation rates, developmental abnormalities and extinctions, they add, while insect life has been significantly reduced.

* * *

Japanese researchers began studying flora and fauna around Fukushima in November, with an initial report on the findings expected in March.


15) Occupy Oakland at a Crossroads: Rebirth or Self-Destruction?
By Josh Healey
February 1, 2012

Over the last few months, I have been an active, critical, yet ultimately proud member of Occupy Oakland. Despite the sometimes-questionable tactics and lack of much diversity in this working-class, multi-racial city, I believed that Occupy Oakland was still a young movement and would mature into a more solid political force. Sadly, it seems, we still have a long way to go.

On January 28, Occupy Oakland's attempt to take over an unused public building turned into yet another painful, predictable street battle with the Oakland Police Department (OPD), with over 400 people arrested by night's end. The police's actions were more brutal than ever, from the tear gas and sound grenades to the unlawful mass arrest that has left many of my comrades still in jail as I write this. I stand unequivocally against the severe repression and the increasing police state that we find ourselves in. To my fellow Occupiers, though, it is time that we critically examine our own tactics. If we don't, Occupy Oakland is going to fizzle out quicker than Rick Perry's presidential campaign.

The events in Oakland on January 28 indeed occupied national headlines and local jail cells, but they almost certainly lost more supporters to the movement than they gained. Needlessly picking fights with the cops, vandalizing City Hall, and putting our own people in harm's way is not the path to social and economic justice. It is a losing, incoherent strategy, one that will continue to damage the public's support for Occupy until our claim that "We are the 99%" becomes a bad joke. Forget whether folks can survive endless police confrontations and court dates. The question now is: Can Occupy Oakland survive itself?

January 28: Great Politics, Terrible Strategy

On paper, the plan sounded simple. Occupy Oakland was going to "occupy a large, vacant building and convert it into a social center." This center would then be used for both political organizing as well as providing the free food, medical care, and other services that the movement did so admirably in its encampment days. As a matter of political principle, occupying an unused building makes sense: while over 3.5 million Americans were homeless at some point last year, over 18.5 million vacant/foreclosed homes sat empty.

The problem on January 28 was not the general principles, but the very real issues of goals, strategy, and tactics. Given OPD's aggressive history, I was skeptical of our ability to take and hold any building for any serious length of time. I was angry at the pre-action press conference where the event spokesperson made empty, impossible threats to "shut down the airport" if the city did not give in to our demands. And I was worried that most people in Oakland would see this as yet another Occupy action whose message was nothing more than "Fuck the Police." Despite these fears, I made my way to the protest, hoping against hope to be proven wrong.

I joined the crowd of over 1,000 people around noon at Occupy Oakland's regular meeting place, Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of city hall. We soon began marching, and thus began the first problem of the day -- 99% of the people in the crowd (yes, our 99%) had no idea where we marching to. The organizers for the action had kept the exact building they planned to take over a secret in hopes of outsmarting the cops. What that meant, of course, was that the cops knew exactly where we were heading. (Undercover agents are a cop's best friend.) So when we finally arrived at the intended target, the massive Kaiser Auditorium, it was surrounded on all sides by cops in riot gear. As many of us expected, it was clear that we had no hope of taking the actual building. What happened next, however, turned a small setback into a major, self-inflicted blow to the movement.

Battling the Cops: Really? This is How We're Going to Change America?

I do not know who threw the first projectile - whether it was a policeman's sound grenade or a protester's glass bottle - but honestly it does not matter. I mean, it matters in a legal setting, and the cops' actions were brutally violent and entirely unconstitutional. But we already know that, folks! This is the Oakland Police Department we're talking about. Even CNN knows that they are vicious and corrupt. So why are we provoking them? Why are people leading our march with "battle shields" and charging at their fortified lines that we have no possibility of breaking through?

After the initial standoff outside the auditorium, activists retreated back to Oscar Grant Plaza. Action leaders announced their intentions to march on a second, again undisclosed, building. By this time it was getting dark out, and anyone who has been around Oakland protests in the last few years knows that things get ugly when the sun goes down. And so they did. The remaining protesters marched through downtown, until the police surrounded them on all sides near the local YMCA. In true Orwellian fashion, the cops refused to allow people to leave the area and then arrested over 300 of them for "failure to disperse." Meanwhile, another small group of protesters somehow got into City Hall, where they proceeded to vandalize offices, break windows, and of course burn an American flag in front of all the waiting cameras.

Four days later, Occupy Oakland is in turmoil. Denounced this time not only by the city but many allies and Occupy participants themselves, the January 28 action has only further divided the already-tenuous movement in the Bay Area and around the country. Wall Street and the 1% don't need to worry about shutting us down -- we're doing it to ourselves. Or more accurately, a small group of fringe Occupy activists is doing it to the rest of us.

Calling out the So-Called Radicals

Occupy Oakland likes to think of itself as the radical wing of the Occupy movement. Indeed, the Oakland general strike of 40,000 people on November 2, as well as the Oakland-initiated West Coast port shutdown of December 12, were bold, courageous actions that inspired people across the country and the world. On a smaller scale, there is powerful, grassroots work being down every day: shout-out to Occupy the Hood, the Labor Solidarity committee, Occupy Research, and others. But there is a small, vocal element in the movement that is more interested in playing (and losing) cat-and-mouse games with the OPD -- and this element is destroying our popular base before we have even really built it.

The word "radical" means getting to the roots of the problem. I'm talking about the runaway capitalism, institutionalized racism, and imperialist war that dehumanize the 99% of people inside and especially outside our borders. Yes, the police are the private army of the 1%, but we will never defeat them at their game. Black bloc anarchists "playing revolution" in the streets cannot replace the hard but necessary day-to-day organizing that makes real change possible.

Contrast the January 28 debacle in Oakland with the powerful, movement-building Occupy San Francisco action across the bay just one week earlier. On January 20, Occupy San Francisco nonviolently shut down major banks and corporate headquarters. This is what "Occupy Wall Street" is all about, right? Protesters chained themselves to the Wells Fargo headquarters, turned one bank branch into a "People's Food Bank of America," and made a coherent message of people over profits. The San Francisco protest was definitely a militant direct action, but it was totally nonviolent. Perhaps most significant, over 50 community organizations (including labor unions, student groups, and immigrant associations) formally participated in the San Francisco action, coordinating with each other in one of the most strategic Occupy events I've seen.

Occupy Oakland had that type of broad-based unity back during the November 2 general strike. This past Saturday, however, I did not see a single union sign or student banner. We are losing our legitimacy, our numbers, and our energy. I know of two actions being planned this month around crucial community issues, school closures and city worker layoffs where activists had forged a coalition with Occupy to fight together. Both these coalitions are now in doubt, as many community members want nothing to do with the name Occupy. When it comes to fake revolutionaries versus actual community leaders, which side are we on?

What Next? A Call for Honesty and Tough Love

One of my main struggles with the Occupy movement is our failure to engage in real self-reflection. Part of this is understandable -- we are under so much heat from the police and the media, we want to maintain a united front. That front here in Oakland, though, is disuniting very quickly. Now is the time where we need to be brutally honest with ourselves. Who is Occupy Oakland -- and who is it not (yet)? What can we really achieve -- and what can we not (yet)? And yes, what the hell are our damn goals? These are tough questions that go beyond any one action's tactics, but go to the core of race and class, power and protest, integrity and strength.

This is hard work, and it will take time. It might mean that we won't be able to have actions every week, but that can be a good thing. Let us be humble about our youth, and reach out to those in our community who have been in the struggle for a long time. One downfall so far has been that many established organizers - the very people this movement needs for guidance and support - have been turned away by the arrogant rhetoric and juvenile tactics of Occupy's vocal minority.

Movement education, of course, is a two-way street, and Occupy has shown it has much to teach long-time activists as well. Right now, though, we have a lot to learn. Here in Oakland, we're fortunate to have great folks who could help us out: the Movement Strategy Center, Ruckus Society, Center for Third World Organizing, amongst others. Are we willing to humble ourselves and say, "Hey guys...a little help?"

At the end of the day, if Occupy Oakland and the broader OWS movement are really in this for the long haul, we need to practice some tough love. If we can stand with each other in the struggle, then we must also be open for self-reflection and honest critique. Occupy has opened the door for all sorts of progressive possibilities, but here in Oakland, we are letting a few foolish agitators hold us back in the doorway. If we don't change that up soon, the only thing Occupy Oakland will be occupying is its own coffin.


16) Who's Big Brother???
Sent: Fri, February 3, 2012 3:27:16 PM
Subject: [icffmaj] Keep those letters and phone calls going for Jalil. We must get him out of SHU!

Who's Big Brother?
By Jalil A. Muntaqim

This is Jalil's latest entry for his blog, written on the same day he was sentenced to the SHU. It will be up on his blogspot shortly. Here is the link:

I am the absent big brother in my family. Having been in prison 40 years, my younger siblings have suffered the anguish of my absence, not being there for them at crucial times in their lives. For the most part, they understand my absence, understand the political nature of my incarceration. So, since I am the big brother in my family, I certainly don't need a Big Brother, nor does my family.

Unfortunately, President Obama does not believe that, and like former President Bill Clinton and George Bush, he has signed into law a bill that will severely undermine and erode democratic civil liberties. When Clinton was in office, in "...1985 Clinton administration Crime Bill effectively caused the criminalization of poverty, ensuring the poor, unemployed, and homeless were likely to suffer the penalties of incarceration, essentially feeding the prison industrial complex." (quote from Pg.291, We Are Our Own Liberators). However, President Obama took this dynamic a huge step forward, more on that in a minute.

"On May 9, 2007, President Bush issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 titled, "National Continuity Policy." In it, he instructs the Secretary of Homeland Security to coordinate with private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to provide for the delivery of essential services during an emergency. This policy (Presidential decree) federalized an FBI program of deputizing corporate business representatives, under the auspices of InfraGuard, as citizen-spies for the FBI and Homeland Security in preparation for the implementation of martial law." (Pg. 296, Liberators). Correspondingly, it should be noted, on 12/30/11, the New York Times reported in "Court Upholds Law That Protects Companies Aiding U.S. Surveillance," that the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, "... upheld the constitutionality of a federal law that grants immunity to telecommunications companies that assist the federal government in conducting surveillance of American citizens." In essence, AT&T, Sprint, Nextel and Verizon Communications are using their mobile phone services to maintain federal surveillance of U.S. citizens for the federal government, with immunity.

Most recently, it was reported that Mayor Bloomberg of NYC is permitting infra-red cameras to be posted on street corners to effectively "x-ray" pedestrians to determine if any are carrying weapons from their body heat. Not unlike what is at airports, these high-tech surveillance cameras are being placed on city streets.

Now, when President Obama recently signed into law the "2012 National Defense Authorization Act," he virtually ensured the most brutal and repressive segment of the prison industrial complex grows. Under this new law, the U.S. government allows the military to detain any American citizen "suspected" of being a "terrorist" without trial; for U.S. citizens difficult to apprehend to target them for summary execution, i.e., assassination; to arrest U.S. citizens video recording police actions; allow the police to use GPS devices to track the movement of thousands of people suspected of criminal activity; and permit police/military use of aerial surveillance drones to covertly monitor U.S. citizens.

When all of these corporate/government legal maneuvers are considered in their collective operations, the only conclusion we can make is the police state is here, and the prison industrial complex is the last rung in state repression. It is obvious that Big Brother has plans for the family of U.S. citizens that ultimately put everyone in jeopardy of losing their freedom. As a Cointelpro/Newkill victim, this is something I know from first hand experience!

So, Family, let's get organized to challenge telecommunication corporations, city governments, and Presidential decrees that severely deny civil liberties and support the advent of fascism.

in fierce struggle,
Jalil A. Muntaqim

Jalil has been in SHU (Special Housing Unit) since Monday, January 23, 2012, with only the clothes on his back. He has not been given any personal property, and was told he probably won't receive any of it for weeks. He has no phone privileges, no commissary, no packages, and will eventually be allowed 5 books and limited legal materials. He will have only one visit weekly for the duration, and these are no-contact visits which take place in Attica's SHU.

He is asking that people contact NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Commissioner Brian Fischer, Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry and the New York State Commission on Corrections to demand that the charges be dropped, that he be released from SHU immediately, and that this campaign of harassment come to AN IMMEDIATE END! These charges are entirely fabricated and show premeditation on behalf of the prison administration to lock Jalil away until his next parole hearing in June and to negatively affect the outcome of that hearing.

NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:
Office of the Attorney General
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224-0341
(518) 474-5481

Commissioner Brian Fischer
NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Building 2
1220 Washington Ave
Albany, New York 12226-2050
(518) 457-8126
Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry
LOB 526
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-4561

Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry
98-09 Northern Blvd.
Corona, NY 11368
(718) 457-3615

Thomas A. Beilein, Chairman
Phyllis Harrison-Ross M.D., Commissioner
New York State Commission on Corrections
80 Wolf Road, 4th Floor
Albany, New York 12205
Phone: (518) 485-2346
Fax: (518) 485-2467

When you call and/or write, be sure to use Jalil's DIN number (#77A4283) and refer to him as Anthony Bottom, currently at Attica. We would like to know what responses people receive. Please send an email to or to let us know. Also, please take the time to write to Jalil: Anthony Bottom #77A4283, Attica Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 149, Attica, NY 14011-0149

It is very important that he receive lots of correspondence at this time so he knows he is not forgotten and has our support. Send him a copy of the letters you have written or a short report of your phone calls.


17) For a Revolutionary Black History Month
By Mumia Abu Jamal
Posted by TheBlackList on February 3, 2012

As we once again approach February, the papers and TV stations will feature programming that shows more Black faces than usual. Some will show movies, some documentaries and some will feature history in celebration of Black History Month.

Undoubtedly, Martin Luther King Jr's epic "March on Washington" speech will be samples, its grainy, black and white videotape the very symbol of a bygone era, and it's key catchphrase....Thank God Almighty, we're free at last!" ~ a haunting and ironic mockery of the real state of most of Black America.

One tape that invariably will not be shown is one of the final press conferences of the nation's first (and perhaps only) Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, aged and ill, yet with the presence of mind to announce, "I'm still not free."

For millions of Black Americans, this Black History Month, while perhaps rich in symbol, comes amidst the greatest loss of collective assets in our history, crippling joblessness, haunting home foreclosures, public schools that perform more mis-education than education, rabid police terrorism and perhaps the highest Black incarceration rates in U.S. history, and all that entails.

That we have Black History Month at all is due to the Black Freedom Movements of the '60's, and the dogged persistence of Black Historian, Carter G. Woodson, who began his efforts with Negro History Week, back in the 1920's! Yet, it begins, as do all struggles for progress, with the Movement.

If Black mothers and grandmothers, and later Black schoolchildren, didn't follow King, we wouldn't know his name, except perhaps as an Historical footnote. For, without followers, there is no movement - and thus no progress.

The late, great Marxist Revolutionary historian, C.L.R. James, in his finest work, Black Jacobins, a History of the Haitian Revolution, illustrates how the leadership - including Gen. Toussaint L'Ouverture - tried repeatedly to betray the Revolution, on to face two immovable forces -the racist recalcitrance of the French government of Napoleon (who wanted to restore slavery), and the militancy of the Black soldiers, who pushed onward to Revolution.

The point? People make history, by mass movements, often ones which go faster and further than the leaders want. And masses make and sustain revolutions - often against 'leaders' whose every instinct is to betray them.

In a forward to one of the many editions of Black Jacobins, James reminds us, "...that it was the slaves who had made the Revolution. Many of the slave leaders to the end were unable to read or write" (James, xvi)

But they sure knew how to fight.

Africans, by the tens of thousands, broke their chains, and though penniless, hungry, and scarred by the ravages of bondage, found weapons and the will to fight for freedom against the defenders of slavery: France, Britain, and Spain. They beat them all, because their hunger for freedom was greater than anything.

And by so doing they changed world history.

They shattered French dreams of an American Empire; and enabled the U.S. to double in size after it's purchase of Louisiana from Napoleon.
They also did what no 'slave' army had ever done in modern or ancient history. They defeated an empire.

That is Revolutionary Black History ---and it deserves to be remembered during Black History Month.

(c) '12 maj

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM 8335
301 Morea Rd.
Frackville, PA. 17932



18) In Texas, a Backlash Against Student Testing
February 4, 2012

When Christopher Chamness entered the third grade last year, he began to get stomach aches before school. His mother, Edy, said the fire had gone out of a child who she said had previously gone joyfully to his classes.

One day, when he was bored in class, Christopher broke a pencil eraser off in his ear canal. It was the tipping point for Ms. Chamness, a former teacher, and she asked to observe his Austin elementary school classroom. What she saw was a "work sheet distribution center" aimed at preparing students for the yearly assessments that they begin in third grade and that school districts depend upon for their accountability ratings.

Now, with Christopher in fourth grade, Ms. Chamness will take a more drastic step: She intends to pull him out of standardized testing altogether this spring, in protest of the system that she said had sapped her son's love of learning.

Ms. Chamness's approach is more radical than what most parents are willing to do - and district officials are quick to point out that school policy does not permit students to miss test days for any reason. But it is part of a budding backlash against standardized testing in the state that spawned No Child Left Behind and its assessment-driven accountability requirements.

It is a precarious time for Texas school districts. Faced with roughly $5.4 billion less in state financing, districts this year will administer new, more rigorous state exams called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or Staar. And for the first time in high school, the assessments are linked to graduation requirements and final grades.

There is anxiety among school leaders, educators and parents about meeting the increased standards with fewer resources. In the Panhandle, the Hereford Independent School District superintendent may withhold her district's test scores from the state. An Austin parent is considering a lawsuit to stop the rollout of the tests. Some legislators are mulling how to postpone some of the tests' consequences for students.

In a high-level turnaround, Robert Scott, the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, said Tuesday that student testing in the state had become a "perversion of its original intent" and that he looked forward to "reeling it back" in the future. Earning a standing ovation from an annual gathering of 4,000 educators that has given him chillier receptions in the past, Mr. Scott called for an accountability process that measured "every other day of a school's life besides testing day."

Many viewed the speech as a reversal for Mr. Scott, who has rarely spoken publicly against the role of standardized testing in public schools. He declined to talk about his remarks for this article.

"I think he sees that we are at a cusp of philosophical changes in the Legislature and across the state over what we've been doing the past few years with accountability and whether there's been any worthwhile gain from all the testing we've done," said Joe Smith, a former superintendent and an education community fixture who runs the Web site, a clearinghouse of school-related news.

Kelli Moulton, the superintendent of Hereford I.S.D., is considering an outright rebellion. She said that she was still exploring the repercussions of refusing to send her students' test scores to the agency but that she was encouraged by Mr. Scott's remarks.

"We talk a lot, but nobody's stepped off to do anything really bold," she said. "Clearly now as a state, at least with a leader who is willing to say testing has gone too far, when do we put a stick in a wheel and say, that's enough, stop? Because we are going to spend the next 10 years trying to slow that wheel down, and we've got 10 years of kids that are suffering."

It also may be a sign of shifting political tides. State Senator Florence Shapiro, the powerful chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee and a primary architect of the legislation that enacted the new assessment system, announced in September that she would not seek re-election. Ms. Shapiro, Republican of Plano, has been a staunch opponent of any retreat from the standards established by the 2009 bill. But her House colleagues, particularly Rob Eissler, the chairman of the Public Education Committee, have been more receptive to changing course.

During the last legislative session, Mr. Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands, attempted to ease some of the more stringent requirements of the new assessments, including how many exams high school students had to pass in order to graduate and how the tests had to count for 15 percent of their final grades. Mr. Eissler recently held a hearing on how school districts were fulfilling the requirements, and many parents and educators in attendance asked for a delay in the effects on students.

"I am very concerned about performance on the test. My expectation is for most students this would have the effect of lowering their grade," said Dineen Majcher, a high school parent who has called on lawmakers and the education agency to find a way to waive the 15 percent rule for the first year of testing.

School districts have been given a one-year reprieve from having the test scores factor into their accountability ratings, and Ms. Majcher said it was "completely unreasonable and inappropriate" that the same was not happening for students and their grades. Ms. Majcher, an Austin lawyer, said she and other parents were considering a lawsuit, but she declined to elaborate on its grounds because she still hoped for a resolution outside the courtroom.

That may not come in time. Mr. Scott's Tuesday speech, while popular with the state's superintendents, inspired a flurry of reaction from members of the education community who favor moving forward with the new assessment system. Bill Hammond, the president of the Texas Association of Business and an accountability advocate, said he was disappointed in the commissioner's remarks.

"It's not going to be the end-of-the-world scenario," he said. "The kids and educators in Texas are up for it. Every time we've gone through this, the standard has been met, and it's resulted in a better-educated work force."

Ms. Shapiro said that once the transition to the new exams occurred, students would be left with a much better assessment system, one that eliminated the need for educators to teach to the test because it was based on courses, not subjects. It was never lawmakers' impression that they would have to change anything about the rollout of the exams, she said, because the planning had been in the works for the past five years.

She also questioned what Mr. Scott meant by calling the testing system a "perversion."

"That's a direction I've never heard him take," she said. "He's been the one that's been talking about school accountability over the years. We've all been a part of this. School accountability is something we started many, many years ago, and we believe in it."

Meanwhile, Ms. Chamness, who praised Mr. Scott's remarks, said she has reached out to other parents at her elementary school about opting their children out of standardized testing - to mixed results.

"They are waiting to see what happens to us," she said. "Nobody wants to get on the outside of the administration. I'm not excited about being out there alone, but that's not going to dissuade me from doing what I know is right."


19) Bradley Manning to face court martial
By Lynn Herrmann
Feb 4, 2012

Washington - Private Bradley Manning, accused of leaking sensitive and embarrassing documents related to United States government activities, will face a full military court martial, it was announced late Friday.

U.S. military officials have formally referred all charges against Manning, 24, to a full court martial, announced by Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington, the General Court-Martial Convening Authority.

Manning will face trial in the U.S. at a date which will be set by a judge yet to be appointed.

The Bradley Manning Support Network issued a statement after the military announcement, calling on the Obama administration to display honesty over the controversy surrounding the Manning case.

"This administration owes all Americans an honest explanation for their extraordinary retaliation against Bradley Manning," said Jeff Paterson, a lead organizer of the Bradley Manning Support Network, in the statement. "President Obama and Secretary Clinton need to produce sworn depositions under conditions where they are required to tell the truth about Bradley Manning."

Among the material Manning allegedly leaked is a video, Collateral Murder, showing innocent civilians and journalists in Iraq being gunned down from a U.S Apache gunship. The video sparked an international outrage, setting the stage for Friday's announcement by the U.S. government.

In January, Col. Carl Coffman Jr denied an evidence request by Manning's legal team to conduct oral depositions of nine key witnesses, among them President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Manning's lawyer, David E. Coombs, responded to the denial at the time, stating, "This determination is difficult to comprehend given the nature of the charges against PFC Manning. Today's decision is yet another example of the government improperly impeding the defense's access to essential witnesses.


20) Homeless Families, Cloaked in Normality
February 3, 2012

ON the sixth day she was homeless, Tonya Lewis overslept. She woke in the dark, in Room 6E at the 93rd Avenue Family Residence, a privately run shelter in Jamaica, Queens. It was 4:45 a.m. She was already running late.

Rousting her children — Unique, 15, and Jacaery, 2 — from their beds, Ms. Lewis got them dressed and started shoving DVDs and diapers into two bulging tote bags. When the boys were ready — sleepy, sullen, hoodied, backpacked, in hats and winter jackets — she pushed them out the door (“Come on, we gotta go!”) to begin their daily routine.

It went like this:

They took the Q54 bus five stops to the J train. They took the J train 14 stops to Broadway Junction station. Unique hopped off and transferred to the C train, then the S train, then walked a distance to his classes at the High School for Global Citizenship in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Ms. Lewis, with Jacaery (pronounced Juh-CARE-ee) still in tow, transferred from the J to the L train. She took the L to the B6 bus in Brooklyn, which she rode to East New York, where she worked for an hour, and then reversed course — the B6 to the L to the J — to get Jacaery to his day care center in Bedford-Stuyvesant by 9.

All told, the odyssey required four hours, six trips on the subway and three trips on the bus, and suggests the changing nature of homelessness in New York. Unlike in the 1980s, when the crisis was defined by AIDS patients or men who slept on church steps, these days it has become more likely that a seemingly ordinary family, rushing about on public transportation with Elmo bags and video games, could be without a home.

Of New York’s more than 40,000 homeless people in shelters — enough to fill the stands at Citi Field — about three-quarters now belong to families like the Lewises and are cloaked in a deceptive, superficial normalcy. They do not sleep outside or on cots on armory floors. By and large, their shoes are good; some have smartphones. Many get up each morning and leave the shelter to go to work or to school. Their hardships — poverty, unemployment, a marathon commute — exist out of sight.

Underlying this transition is a cascade of events, both economic and political. For the past three years, city officials say, 30 percent of New Yorkers seeking shelter have done so because of evictions, many connected to the financial crisis. (Domestic violence and overcrowding were other chief reasons.) At the same time, a disagreement over money between city and state officials last spring led to the cessation of a rent-subsidy program designed to shift the homeless from shelters into apartments. For the first time in 30 years, there is no city policy in place to help move the homeless into permanent homes.

MS. LEWIS, a health care aide, was evicted last month from her home in Far Rockaway, Queens. She was working full time for Able Health Care Services of New York, making about $500 a week tending to an autistic man. In August, because of cuts in Medicaid, her hours were reduced by half. Six weeks ago, she separated from her husband, Gregory Pitters, a maintenance man, who, before he lost his own job, earned $600 a week. On top of this, the $1,000 rent subsidy Ms. Lewis was receiving from the city, through the now-defunct program Advantage, ran out. Her apartment, a small two-bedroom, rented for $1,200 a month. She now makes $210 a week. She owes her landlord $4,280. The problem was mathematical, she said: “I can’t afford the rent.”

She was in Brooklyn, on Halsey Street and Broadway, where Jacaery was in tears, when she said this. He often throws a tantrum when his mother leaves him at day care. At the center, a cheerful place with cubby holes and construction-paper cutouts, an attendant flung Jacaery over her shoulder. He wept and wailed and kicked his legs as his mother walked away.

At 38, Ms. Lewis has three sons with three men. She rarely sees the father of her oldest child, Tarrick, who is 19 and lives in Brooklyn with her mother, Delores Lewis, and one of her younger brothers. Unique’s father died years ago and, as a rule, is not discussed. Ms. Lewis said she hoped to work things out with Mr. Pitters, Jacaery’s father, who is living with his mother in the Bronx. “We’re in this situation partly because of him,” she said. “He apologized. But like I said, ‘Apologies are not acceptable right now.’ ”

She was back on Broadway, headed for her agency’s office, when her cellphone rang. It was a former boyfriend, Gary Wade, who was recently released from the Dutchess County jail. Mr. Wade wanted to meet Ms. Lewis at the Halsey Street J stop; at the station, he demanded her assistance in tracking down a lawyer who had represented him before he went to jail. The lawyer had his watch, he said, and his “very expensive Cartier glasses.”

Ms. Lewis bought Mr. Wade a MetroCard, hoping he might go away. Instead, he tagged along as she ran errands: dropping off her timecard in Downtown Brooklyn and riding the A train to the end of Queens, where she visited a welfare office to pick up documents she needed for a new apartment.

On the train, she briefly fell ill, sweating, breathless. Mr. Wade ignored her.

He refused to leave until someone bought him lunch. It was 12:30 p.m. Ms. Lewis could not get rid of him.

THERE was a time when the shelter system in New York was unquestionably Dickensian. Families slept overnight on benches at the Emergency Assistance Unit, a notorious intake office in the Bronx. Many were placed in rat-infested welfare hotels. A vicious legal battle between the city and advocates left even picayune details of shelter operation — the availability of milk-bottle warmers, for example — up to the courts.

These days, families seeking shelter appear at the Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing Office, a gleaming modern building, also in the Bronx, with artwork on the walls and an airport-like “departure lounge.” Advocates say that policies put in place by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg have made it harder to gain entrance to the system, but for those who do get in, the intake process generally lasts 6 to 10 hours, and most families find a place the day they apply. One-third end up in city-run shelters, including some hotels, another third are placed in privately run facilities, like the one the Lewises entered in Queens, which has 54 units, each about 700 square feet, each with its own kitchen and bathroom.

A family stays in a shelter an average of nine months, but there is no restriction on the length of stay. Rules encourage people to move on: families are not allowed to bring in their own furniture or decorate the walls. The city tries to place families near parents’ jobs and children’s schools, but it does not always succeed. On the ground floor of the shelter that housed the Lewises is an office where caseworkers help residents manage welfare benefits and improve their résumés in hopes of finding better work.

The problem is: How do families get out of a shelter once they get there?

In 2004, Mr. Bloomberg announced an ambitious plan to reduce homelessness by two-thirds over five years by building housing units, by putting more restrictions on those trying to enter the system and, most controversially, by no longer giving homeless families priority in receiving public housing or what is known as Section 8 assistance, which gives people federal vouchers under which they pay no more than 30 percent of their income for privately rented apartments.

At the time, officials said that other New Yorkers at risk of being homeless — the disabled, for example, or former foster children — should have first claim on available public housing. (Each year, 5,000 to 6,000 public-housing units turn over and are sought by more than 100,000 people on a seven-year waiting list.) They also said that because Section 8 vouchers were in short supply, families were entering shelters as a shortcut to obtaining them. Once the practice ended, the argument went, the number of homeless people entering the system would decrease.

That didn’t happen. At 40,000 people, New York’s shelter population is higher than it has ever been. (In 2001, when it hit 25,000, the city’s commissioner of homeless services was quoted in The New York Times as calling it “a temporary crisis.”) On any given night, 6,000 homeless men and 2,000 homeless women bed down in facilities for single people, and an additional 15,000 parents and 17,000 children sleep in family shelters. Then there are the individuals living on the streets whom the city counted last week in its annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate. (The numbers will be available in March.)

In place of Section 8 priority, Mr. Bloomberg established the Housing Stability Plus program, which provided five years of rent subsidies that declined in value 20 percent each year. In 2007, he introduced Advantage, which Ms. Lewis was using. The $140 million-a-year program offered two-year subsidies of about $1,000 a month, but only if recipients received job training or worked. The state and federal governments supplied two-thirds of the financing for Advantage, while the city administered it.

“I don’t believe for a second that every family in shelter needs a permanent housing subsidy,” said Robert V. Hess, who served as the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services from 2006 to 2010. “What many people need is an opportunity to get back on their feet and develop their own income. Over time, they can build savings and move into their own homes.”

In June, however, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, citing budget problems, cut the state’s financing for Advantage, and because the city would not pick up its portion, the program was discontinued. Among those arguing for the end of Advantage was the Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group that has long supported homeless people. While it might seem counterintuitive, the coalition lobbied against Advantage in hopes of pushing the city into again offering the homeless priority for public housing and Section 8 vouchers, of which about 4,000 become available each year.

The situation has led to litigation. The Legal Aid Society sued the city in 2011 to prevent it from ending benefits for the last 8,000 families still enrolled in Advantage. On Friday, a judge lifted an injunction that had forced the city to keep paying benefits. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for this week.

Recriminations have come from both sides. The coalition has attacked Mr. Bloomberg for his “punitive mind-set.” The city has, in turn, accused the coalition of being blinded by a kind of advocate’s myopia — for missing the forest of New York’s budget woes and its numerous needy groups for the trees of homelessness.

The way forward will inevitably pass through a narrow gap of politics. Seth Diamond, the city’s current homeless services commissioner, said the answer lay in raising wages and perhaps in loosening building codes in order to house more people in apartment buildings. He described his philosophy as one of “professional compassion” married to “a reciprocal obligation to participate in your own success.”

“When you come into shelter,” he said, “there should be a period of time to get stabilized, but pretty quickly after that, you should be working aggressively on getting back to the community.”

Ms. Lewis said something similar on her third day in the shelter: “It’s a nice little place, you know. Some people could get comfortable here. Not me. I’m not staying long. That’s not my plan.”

IT was 4 p.m. Mr. Wade was finally gone. Ms. Lewis took the A train to the J train and fetched Jacaery from day care. She went to her mother’s house to find Unique. He wasn’t there, but Mr. Pitters was.

Unique had gone to his godmother’s house after school and had told Ms. Lewis he would meet her at her mother’s. Ms. Lewis waited. One hour. Two. Nothing. She left. “He’ll find his way back eventually,” she said.

Earlier, she had talked about the boys and the effect on them of a condition she does not describe with its common-noun name. (She employs vague phrases: “the situation” or “what’s going on right now.”) Jacaery, she said, was not aware of what was happening: “He just gets along. He’s mellow.” As for Unique, he brushed it off with manufactured toughness.

He is a 15-year-old man: brooding looks, tired smiles, terse responses.

How was school? “Fine.”

How is taking care of your little brother? “Fine.”

How are you handling “the situation”? A frown, a shrug. “What am I supposed to do?”

7:15 p.m.: the J train to the Q54 bus. Ms. Lewis and Jacaery walked down 170th Street in Queens in the dark. Mr. Pitters accompanied them from Delores Lewis’s house. He did not say much. (Later, he would say: “We’re trying to work it out.”) At 8 p.m., the family, as it were, split up on the shelter’s steps. Mr. Pitters was not allowed inside.

The lighted lobby, the sign-in book, an elevator to the sixth floor. In Room 6E, the impression of transition: bare walls, three beds, empty space. A loaf of bread, a box of crackers, a jar of peanut butter in the kitchen. A suitcase in the closet. The tote bags were unloaded. Out came Apple Jacks and Frosted Flakes, bought for the morning. Out came Jacaery’s security blanket — his mother’s old silk dress. He watched a DVD, “Daddy Day Care.”

Ms. Lewis read a letter from the city telling her she might be moved to a Brooklyn shelter. It was closer to everything, her job, the day care center, Unique’s school. She didn’t want to go. She liked it here. It was clean, familiar.

“It’s not as bad as it seems,” she said. “It’s O.K.”


21) U.S. Plans Shift to Elite Units as It Winds Down in Afghanistan
February 4, 2012

WASHINGTON — The United States’ plan to wind down its combat role in Afghanistan a year earlier than expected relies on shifting responsibility to Special Operations forces that hunt insurgent leaders and train local troops, according to senior Pentagon officials and military officers. These forces could remain in the country well after the NATO mission ends in late 2014.

The plan, if approved by President Obama, would amount to the most significant evolution in the military campaign since Mr. Obama sent in 32,000 more troops to wage an intensive and costly counterinsurgency effort.

Under the emerging plan, American conventional forces, focused on policing large parts of Afghanistan, will be the first to leave, while thousands of American Special Operations forces remain, making up an increasing percentage of the troops on the ground; their number may even grow.

The evolving strategy is far different from the withdrawal plan for Iraq, where almost all American forces, conventional or otherwise, have left. Iraq has devolved into sectarian violence ever since the withdrawal in December, which threatens to undo the political and security gains there.

Pentagon officials and military planners say the new plan for Afghanistan is not a direct response to the deteriorating conditions in Iraq. Even so, the shift could give Mr. Obama a political shield against attacks from his Republican rivals in the presidential race who have already begun criticizing him for moving too swiftly to extract troops from Afghanistan.

Unlike in Iraq, where domestic political pressure gave Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki reason to resist a continued American military presence into 2012, in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai and his senior aides have expressed an initial willingness to continue a partnership with the United States that includes counterterrorism missions and training.

Senior American officials have also expressed a desire to keep some training and counterterrorism troops in Afghanistan past 2014. The transition plan for the next three years in Afghanistan could be a model for such a continued military relationship.

The new focus builds on a desire to use the nation’s most elite troops to counter any residual terrorist threat over the coming months as well as to devote the military’s best trainers to the difficult task of preparing Afghan security forces to take over responsibilities in their country.

The plan would put a particularly heavy focus on Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets. They would be in charge of training a variety of Afghan security forces. At the same time, the elite commando teams within Special Operations forces would continue their raids to hunt down, capture or kill insurgent commanders and terrorist leaders and keep pressure on cells of fighters to prevent them from mounting attacks.

Created by President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, the Green Berets have as one of their core missions what is called “foreign internal defense” — using combat, mentoring, language and cross-cultural skills to train local forces in rugged environments, as they are today in missions conducted quietly in dozens of nations around the world.

Just as significant would be what the American military’s conventional forces stop doing.

Americans would no longer be carrying out large numbers of patrols to clear vast areas of Afghanistan of insurgents, or holding villages and towns vulnerable to militant attacks while local forces and government agencies rebuilt the local economy and empowered local governments.

Those tasks would fall to Afghan forces, with Special Forces soldiers remaining in the field to guide them. This shift has already begun to take place.

The defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta, surprised NATO allies last week when he announced that American forces would step back from a leading role in combat missions by mid-2013, turning over security responsibilities to Afghan forces a year earlier than expected. The description of the shift to a Special Operations mission in Afghanistan by senior officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the final plans have not been approved, go a long way toward explaining what Mr. Panetta sketched out for the allies.

White House officials confirmed in broad terms the shift to a Special Operations mission, and said a formal announcement on the future of the mission was expected at the May summit meeting of NATO leaders in Chicago.

“The president said in June that when the drawdown of surge forces is complete in September, U.S. troops will continue coming home at a steady pace and our mission will shift from combat to support as the Afghans take the lead,” said Tommy Vietor, the National Security Council spokesman.

The United States has about 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 22,000 of them expected to leave by this fall. No schedule has been set for the pace of withdrawal for the 68,000 American troops who will remain, although some administration officials are advocating for Mr. Obama to order another reduction by the summer of 2013.

The planning for a transition of the Afghanistan mission is a central effort among the Pentagon’s civilian planners and the military’s Joint Staff, as well as among officers at the United States Central and Special Operations Commands.

Senior Pentagon officials involved in the planning acknowledge that a military effort with a smaller force and a more focused mission could be easier to explain to Americans who have tired of the large counterinsurgency campaigns of Iraq and, previously, Afghanistan.

To be sure, some American conventional units would be called on to handle logistics and other support services — transportation, medical care, security — to enable the Special Operations missions to continue.

But that would require a far smaller American presence to help the Afghans protect recent security gains while minimizing American expenses and casualties.

The plan first calls for creating a two-star command position overseeing the entire Special Operations effort in Afghanistan. Next, the three-star corps headquarters that currently commands the day-to-day operations of the war — and is held by an Army officer from the conventional force — would be handed over to a Special Operations officer.

Officials said that no final decisions had been made on the timing of the transition, although it is likely to begin late this year as the rest of the surge forces are withdrawn. There has also been no decision on the number of troops to be committed to the mission as it evolves in 2013 and into 2014, officials said.

Officials noted the progress in creating new “Afghan Strike Force” units to carry out commando-type raids, and they said that the effort to create an Afghan National Army — which had been focused on building as large a force as possible — would shift to emphasize quality and capability.

Officials conceded that the Afghan National Police program remained a huge disappointment, but said that a great value in American investment had been organizing local Afghan police units, drawn from the villages they are assigned to protect.


22) Pennsylvania Schools’ Financing Fight Pits District Against ‘Charter on Steroids’
February 4, 2012

CHESTER, Pa. — The Chester Upland School District is more than $20 million in debt, its bank account is almost empty and it cannot afford to pay teachers past the end of this month.

To make matters worse, the local charter school, with which the district must divide its financing, is suing the district over unpaid bills.

The district’s fiscal woes are the product of a toxic brew of budget cuts, mismanagement and the area’s poverty. Its problems are compounded by the Chester Community Charter School, a nonprofit institution that is managed by a for-profit company and that now educates nearly half of the district’s students.

The district sees the charter as a vampire, sucking up more than its fair share of scarce resources. The state, it says, is giving the charter priority over the district.

“It’s not competition, it’s just draining resources from the district,” said Catherine Smith, a principal at Columbus Elementary, a district school. “It’s a charter school on steroids.”

The charter says that it is also part of the public school system and that the district, its primary source of financing, has not paid it anything since last spring. The state has taken over payments, but even those are late, it says.

Chester may be a harbinger of fiscal decline. At least six other Pennsylvania school districts are bordering on insolvency, according to State Representative Joseph F. Markosek, the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Chester’s troubles also show just how deeply budget cuts bite in poor districts. With a median household income of $26,000, just half of the state median, Chester has one of the state’s most meager tax bases. State financing makes up about 70 percent of its budget. For comparison, nearby Radnor Township, with a median household income of $85,000, draws just 10 percent of its school budget from state money, according to a town spokesman. The largest share is real estate taxes, at 83 percent.

“Poor schools in this state are underfunded,” said Thomas Persing, acting deputy superintendent for the Chester Upland district. “Poor kids aren’t going to get the same shot as wealthy kids. That’s the society we are in now.”

But the district has been troubled for years. The state took over its finances in 1994 but has since handed control back to the community. Five state administrations, including the current one of Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, have been unable to fix the district. Budget cuts may be painful, the state argues, but they are not the root of the district’s problems.

In December, Mr. Corbett refused to advance the district emergency money, saying it had mismanaged its budget. The district says that the state was in charge as receiver for years and that it left the district with a large debt when it handed back control in 2010.

Whatever the case, the math was stark: the district could not afford to pay salaries.

The district’s teachers tried to ease the pressure by voting to work without pay as long as they were able, a gesture that drew considerable attention. One of the district’s teachers, Sara Ferguson, was invited by Michelle Obama to attend the State of the Union address last month, and she appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Thursday.

Ultimately, a federal judge intervened in a separate lawsuit by the district, ordering the state to pay $3.2 million, enough to cover the salaries. In the end, pay was only two days late. Still, the district has money to cover only the next two pay periods. Money to pay vendors, like insurance companies and power suppliers, runs out in the middle of the month.

“There have been money problems, but we’ve never been threatened like now,” said Ms. Ferguson, whose school, Columbus Elementary, was decorated with a poster by students congratulating her on being invited to the State of the Union address.

On a recent Monday, students ran and shouted on the Columbus playground. In the latest round of budget cuts, the school lost its art teacher, its music teacher, its technology teacher, its staff person for the library and even the money for its fledgling band. “The children have gym, gym and gym,” Ms. Ferguson said.

When Ms. Ferguson began teaching here in 1991, she was one of 11 fifth-grade teachers, she said. Now there are only two.

The charter school initially had less than 100 students in 1998, but it has grown to more than 2,600 on two campuses. At its West Campus, a gate with lions on the front and the school’s initials, CCCS, on the painted black iron bars give the impression of a private school. Its wooden lockers are open shelves, and its offices have security cameras that watch every classroom. Each student in third to eighth grades was given an XO laptop, a computer designed to be used by students in developing countries.

“It’s just an entirely different culture that we’ve created — very structured, very respectful,” said Vahan Gureghian, a lawyer and entrepreneur who founded the charter. When the school first opened, “we had zero parent involvement,” he said.

He continued: “Now on any given back-to-school night, it’s packed. Parents are looking at us and saying, ‘I didn’t get an education, but there’s hope for my kid.’ ”

The district argues that the charter is receiving millions of dollars in extra special education funds. And money to the charter also goes toward fees to the private management company of $5,000 per student. The charter says the district has not paid its bills since last April, leaving it no other choice than to go to court. The state was also named in the lawsuit because it has also fallen behind by millions of dollars in payments, the charter said.

While budget cuts forced the district to slash its staff by about 30 percent and cut art, music and language classes, the charter has made no such reductions, Judge James Gardner Colins of Commonwealth Court wrote in a decision on Tuesday that ruled against immediately satisfying the charter’s claims.

Judge Colins wrote that there was no evidence that the charter had been obliged to make any cuts or had tried to renegotiate its contract with the for-profit management company “to reduce its unusually large management fee.”

There is no legal mechanism for a school district to declare bankruptcy in Pennsylvania. It is not clear whether the state would dissolve the district, which has contracts with unions that represent teachers and other support staff. There is a designation of distressed school district, but the state has said Chester Upland has not met the requirements, which include the staff’s working for 90 days without pay.

Mr. Corbett pledged last month that students “will be able to finish the school year at Chester Upland.”

But how that will be paid for and what happens after the school year ends are both open questions. “This is right on our doorstep now,” Ms. Ferguson said. “There’s a question about whether we will even exist.”