Saturday, February 18, 2012



Free Bradley Manning! Call in to the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Call the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Sign the petition. Ask him to Free Bradley Manning!

Every week from now until the court martial the Bradley Manning Support Network will be asking supporters to write or call a person influential to the trial.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is the highest ranking civilian leader of the military, aside from President Obama in his role as Commander-In-Chief. As a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he worked for civil rights issues, and there is hope he will listen to our concerns about Bradley. He is also relatively new to the trial, and in a position of influence to allow United Nations requests for a special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, to have access to confidentially meet with Pfc. Bradley Manning. It is unconscionable that anyone would block a UN observer to investigate serious allegations of prisoner abuse. It is particularly unusual that a President would allow one of his own soldiers to be treated so indecently.

A visit by a UN observer could be a first step towards a fair trial for Bradley Manning. However, the administration has so far persisted in staging a show trial -- one where they'd already declared the defendant guilty before he'd been charged.

Call the Secretary of Defense. Let him know this court martial is a sham. Tell him to drop these ridiculous charges and pursue those who have abused Bradley Manning's rights. If Secretary Panetta is unable or unwilling to hold military officials accountable for the criminal and improper behavior that has been exposed, then we will hold him responsible too.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
(703) 692-7100

If the number stops answering, you can also pressure his institute for public policy, which should certainly be educating people on the importance of whistle-blowers and fair justice.

The Panetta Institute for Public Policy
100 Campus Center, Building 86E
California State University, Monterey Bay
Seaside, California 93955
Phone 831-582-4200
Fax 831-582-4082

Call the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta. Share your concerns about Bradley's brutal confinement and unjust prosecution.

Ask him to drop all the charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Allow the defense to present its case! Including, all of its evidence and witnesses.
Prosecute war criminals not whistle-blowers.

Stop denying the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture access to visit Bradley Manning.
Recognize that Bradley is an honorable person & give him a medal. Free Bradley Manning!
Once you call, sign this petition sponsored by Occupy and anti-war protester, and Veteran, Scott Olsen. It asks Leon Panetta to allow UN Special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, access to visit with Bradley Manning so that he can properly investigate and report on the abuse. The petition already has 17,800 of the 25,000 needed signatures. Please add your voice.


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Justice for Rahmarley Graham

* Target: New York Police Department
* Sponsored by: Susan V and Concerned Citizens

NYPD police followed 18-year-old Rahmarley Graham to his grandmother's Bronx apartment, broke down the door, entered, and shot him dead. Graham was unarmed.

The attorney for Graham's mother, Jeffrey Emdin, said the officers broke down the door illegally, entered the home illegally and used illegal force. They had no warrant.

The killing has sparked street protests and candlelight vigils in Graham's low-income, minority neighborhood, and the incident is being linked to a NYPD tactic called "stop-and-frisk," which targets such areas. With 85 percent of its search subjects from Latino and Black minorities last year, the program is a clear example of racial profiling.

Donna Lieberman of New York Civil Liberties Union told the Huff Post that this is more than "just collateral damage of policing in a big city." The public has every right to question if this shooting is a product of NYPD's "hyper-aggressive stop-and-frisk program..."

Demand Justice for Rahmarley Graham!



Monday, February 20th Actions

There are now February 20th actions planned in the Bay Area, CA (San Quentin); Columbus, OH; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA and Washington, DC! See the Actions page for details on each demonstration.

What's new

Support is growing for the National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners and Occupy San Quentin!

We've added flyers for Occupy San Quentin, and more endorsers for Feb 20 - see the links above.

Connect with us:

Facebook: Occupy4Prisoners (!/pages/Occupy4Prisoners/234095196660637)

Twitter: @Occupy4Prisoner

We need YOU! Are you planning an action? Let us know and we will list, promote and support! Email occupy4prisoners [at] gmail [dot] com!
Jan 09 2012
1 Comment
Proposal to Occupy Oakland General Assembly

This proposal that was passed at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly, on Monday, January 9th



We are calling for February 20th, 2012 to be a "National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners."

In the Bay Area we will "Occupy San Quentin," to stand in solidarity with the people confined within its walls and to demand the end of the incarceration as a means of containing those dispossessed by unjust social policies.


Prisons have become a central institution in American society, integral to our politics, economy and our culture.

Between 1976 and 2000, the United States built on average a new prison each week and the number of imprisoned Americans increased tenfold.

Prison has made the threat of torture part of everyday life for millions of individuals in the United States, especially the 7.3 million people-who are disproportionately people of color-currently incarcerated or under correctional supervision.

Imprisonment itself is a form of torture. The typical American prison, juvenile hall and detainment camp is designed to maximize degradation, brutalization, and dehumanization.

Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow. Between 1970 and 1995, the incarceration of African Americans increased 7 times. Currently African Americans make up 12 % of the population in the U.S. but 53% of the nation's prison population. There are more African Americans under correctional control today-in prison or jail, on probation or parole-than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

The prison system is the most visible example of policies of punitive containment of the most marginalized and oppressed in our society. Prior to incarceration, 2/3 of all prisoners lived in conditions of economic hardship. While the perpetrators of white-collar crime largely go free.

In addition, the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that in 2008 alone there was a loss in economic input associated with people released from prison equal to $57 billion to $65 billion.

We call on Occupies across the country to support:

1. Abolishing unjust sentences, such as the Death Penalty, Life Without the Possibility of Parole, Three Strikes, Juvenile Life Without Parole, and the practice of trying children as adults.

2. Standing in solidarity with movements initiated by prisoners and taking action to support prisoner demands, including the Georgia Prison Strike and the Pelican Bay/California Prisoners Hunger Strikes.

3. Freeing political prisoners, such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Lynne Stewart, Bradley Manning and Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald, a Black Panther Party member incarcerated since 1969.

4. Demanding an end to the repression of activists, specifically the targeting of African Americans and those with histories of incarceration, such as Khali in Occupy Oakland who could now face a life sentence, on trumped-up charges, and many others being falsely charged after only exercising their First Amendment rights.

5. Demanding an end to the brutality of the current system, including the torture of those who have lived for many years in Secured Housing Units (SHUs) or in solitary confinement.

6. Demanding that our tax money spent on isolating, harming and killing prisoners, instead be invested in improving the quality of life for all and be spent on education, housing, health care, mental health care and other human services which contribute to the public good.

Bay Area

On February 20th, 2012 we will organize in front of San Quentin, where male death-row prisoners are housed, where Stanley Tookie Williams was immorally executed by the State of California in 2005, and where Kevin Cooper, an innocent man on death row, is currently imprisoned.

At this demonstration, through prisoners' writings and other artistic and political expressions, we will express the voices of the people who have been inside the walls. The organizers of this action will reach out to the community for support and participation. We will contact social service organizations, faith institutions, labor organizations, schools, prisoners, former prisoners and their family members.

National and International Outreach

We will reach out to Occupies across the country to have similar demonstrations outside of prisons, jails, juvenile halls and detainment facilities or other actions as such groups deem appropriate. We will also reach out to Occupies outside of the United States and will seek to attract international attention and support.

We have chosen Monday, February 20, 2012 at San Quentin, because it is a non-weekend day. Presidents' Day avoids the weekend conflict with prisoners' visitation, which would likely be shut down if we held a demonstration over the weekend.





#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."


Join Us on March 1 Day of Action
To Demand that the California Government:

Fully fund public education, which is a public good and is the cornerstone of a democratic society, a vibrant economy, and the social and intellectual development of every individual.

Fully fund social services, which to a large part provide a crucial safety net for the most vulnerable members of society and therefore serve as a measure of society's moral standard.

Tax the rich, pass the Millionaires Tax, pass the Oil Tax to Fund Education, and reject regressive taxes.

In the state of California working people with the lowest income pay a higher rate (11%) of state and local taxes than the rich (8%). This tax inequity has contributed to an 81 percent growth in the income of the wealthiest 1 percent of Californians between 1978 and 2008, while during the same period the income of the poorest 20 percent dropped by 11.5 percent.

We refuse to pay for the crisis created by the 1 percent. If we make the rich and the corporations pay, we can fully fund public education and social services and reverse the budget cuts, tuition hikes, and attacks on jobs. Join us in this peaceful demonstration.

Endorse our rally and mobilize your members to attend.

Send endorsements to:

Location: San Francisco Civic Center
(Polk and Grove)
Time: 4:00 - 6:00 pm

Partial List of Endorsers of March 1-5 Statewide Actions: AFT Local 1078 (Berkeley Federation of Teachers); AFT Local 1481 (Jefferson Union High School); AFT Local 1493 (San Mateo Community College Teachers); AFT Local 61 (San Francisco Federation of Teachers); AFT Local 1603 (Peralta Federation of Teachers); AFT Local 2121 (City College of San Francisco); Alameda Labor Council Executive Board; Berkeley Faculty Association; California Faculty Association (Cal State East Bay); California Faculty Association (San Francisco State University); California Federation of Teachers; California Teachers Association; Chinese Progressive Association; CODEPINK Bay Area; Council of UC Faculty Associations; Davis Faculty Association; Faculty Association of CA Community Colleges (FACCC); International Socialist Organization; Jobs with Justice; Labor for Peace and Justice; La Raza Centro Legal; Oakland Education Association; NYC All City Student Assembly; Occupy Bernal; Occupy Cal; Occupy Chico State; Occupy City College; Occupy Education Northern California; Occupy the Hood Oakland; Occupy Humboldt State; Occupy Oakland; Occupy Palo Alto; Occupy Redwood City; Occupy SF; Occupy SFSU; Occupy Stanford; Occupy UC Davis; Old Lesbians Organizing for Change SF Bay Area Chapter; Riverside Faculty Association; Sacramento Democratic Socialists of America; Sacramento Progressive Alliance; San Francisco Labor Council Executive Committee; San Francisco Occupy Solidarity Network; San Lorenzo Education Association; San Mateo Community College Federation of Teachers; SEIU Local 1021; Socialist Organizer; Solidarity (East Bay chapter); Students for a Democratic Society; UAW Local 2865 (Graduate Student Employees of University of California); UC Santa Cruz General Assembly; University of California at San Diego Faculty Association; UPTE (University Professional and Technical Employees) CWA 9119; Workers Action.


Occupy St.Patrick's Day! Saturday, March 17

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]


Labor Beat: NATO vs The 1st Amendment

This video shows the early stages of the growing Chicago movement against the newly minted extraordinary police powers ordinance (dubbed the "sit down and shut up" laws). We go to one of the many actions around the city directed at Chicago aldermen who were about to vote on these new laws (designed by Democratic Party Mayor Emanuel to crush any dissent against the NATO/G8 summits he is hosting here in May). Richard de Vries, Union Representative for IBT 705, tells a story about when he and Danny Solis were students at University of Illinois-Chicago campus back in the early 70s and they both participated in a student protest/occupation of the campus. If the ordinance under consideration (which now Alderman Solis finally approved of) were in effect then, "we wouldn't even be on the street today." We also visit the press conference at City Hall given by an impressive coalition of neighborhood and labor organizations on the eve of City Council committee meetings and final vote. The draconian measures, only marginally tweaked, passed overwhelmingly by the all-Democratic Party Council. The video is also a useful primer on what NATO is and some of its criminal record, from the bombings of civilians in Yugoslavia in the late 90s to NATO's recent killings of civilians in Libya and Afghanistan. In January of this year the Arab Organisation for Human Rights together with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights announced that there is evidence that NATO has committed war crimes. "My estimate: it's Military Murder Inc.," states Rick Rozoff, manager of the Stop NATO web site, as he provides extensive background information. Includes interviews and comments from numerous labor and community leaders. Length 25:37. Produced by Labor Beat. Labor Beat is a CAN TV Community Partner. Labor Beat is a non-profit 501(c)(3) member of IBEW 1220. Views are those of the producer Labor Beat. For info:, 312-226-3330. For other Labor Beat videos, visit YouTube and search "Labor Beat". On Chicago CAN TV Channel 19, Thursdays 9:30 pm; Fridays 4:30 pm. Labor Beat has regular cable slots in Chicago, Evanston, Rockford, Urbana, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Princeton, NJ; and Rochester, NY. For more detailed information, send us a request at


Anti-War Demonstrators Storm Pentagon 1967/10/24


Liberal Hypocrisy on Obama Vs Bush - Poll


Greek trade unionists and black bloc October 2011!


The Battle of Oakland
by brandon jourdan plus

On January 28th, 2012, Occupy Oakland moved to take a vacant building to use as a social center and a new place to continue organizing. This is the story of what happened that day as told by those who were a part of it. it features rare footage and interviews with Boots Riley, David Graeber, Maria Lewis, and several other witnesses to key events.

The Battle of Oakland from brandon jourdan on Vimeo.


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

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



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 .
Copyright (c) 2011 Committee to Stop FBI Repression, All rights

Our mailing address is:
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
PO Box 14183
Minneapolis, MN 55415

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

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

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

Thank you for your generosity! Tom Burke


The Battle Is Still On To
The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610


Call for EMERGENCY RESPONSE Action if Assange Indicted,

Dear Friends:

We write in haste, trying to reach as many of you as possible although the holiday break has begun.......This plan for an urgent "The Day After" demonstration is one we hope you and many, many more organizations will take up as your own, and mobilize for. World Can't Wait asks you to do all you can to spread it through list serves, Facebook, twitter, holiday gatherings.

Our proposal is very very simple, and you can use the following announcement to mobilize - or write your own....


An emergency public demonstration THE DAY AFTER any U.S. criminal indictment is announced against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Spread the word and call people to come out, across the whole range of movements and groups: anti-war, human rights, freedom of information/freedom of the press, peace, anti-torture, environmental, students and youth, radicals and revolutionaries, religious, civil liberties, teachers and educators, journalists, anti-imperialists, anti-censorship, anti-police state......

At the Federal Building in San Francisco, we'll form ourselves into a human chain "surrounding" the government that meets the Wikileaked truth with repression and wants to imprison and silence leakers, whistleblowers and truthtellers - when, in fact, these people are heroes. We'll say:


New Federal Building, 7th and Mission, San Francisco (nearest BART: Civic Center)
4:00-6:00 PM on The Day FOLLOWING U.S. indictment of Assange

Bring all your friends - signs and banners - bullhorns.

Those who dare at great risk to themselves to put the truth in the hands of the people - and others who might at this moment be thinking about doing more of this themselves -- need to see how much they are supported, and that despite harsh repression from the government and total spin by the mainstream media, the people do want the truth told.

Brad Manning's Christmas Eve statement was just released by his lawyer: "Pvt. Bradley Manning, the lone soldier who stands accused of stealing millions of pages secret US government documents and handing them over to secrets outlet WikiLeaks, wants his supporters to know that they've meant a lot to him. 'I greatly appreciate everyone's support and well wishes during this time,' he said in a Christmas Eve statement released by his lawyer...." Read more here:

Demonstrations defending Wikileaks and Assange, and Brad Manning, have already been flowering around the world. Make it happen here too.
Especially here . . .

To join into this action plan, or with questions, contact World Can't Wait or whichever organization or listserve you received this message from.

World Can't Wait, SF Bay



Write to Lynne Stewart at:

Lynne Stewart #53504 - 054
Unit 2N
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TEXAS 76127

Visiting Lynne:

Visiting is very liberal but first she has to get people on her visiting list; wait til she or the lawyers let you know. The visits are FRI, SAT, SUN AND MON for 4 hours and on weekends 8 to 3. Bring clear plastic change purse with lots of change to buy from the machines. Brief Kiss upon arrival and departure, no touching or holding during visit (!!) On visiting forms it may be required that you knew me before I came to prison. Not a problem for most of you.

Commissary Money:

Commissary Money is always welcome It is how Lynne pay for the phone and for email. Also for a lot that prison doesn't supply in terms of food and "sundries" (pens!) (A very big list that includes Raisins, Salad Dressing, ankle sox, mozzarella (definitely not from Antonys--more like a white cheddar, Sanitas Corn Chips but no Salsa, etc. To add money, you do this by using Western Union and a credit card by phone or you can send a USPO money order or Business or Govt Check. The negotiable instruments (PAPER!) need to be sent to Federal Bureau of Prisons, 53504-054, Lynne Stewart, PO Box 474701, Des Moines Iowa 50947-001 (Payable to Lynne Stewart, 53504-054) They hold the mo or checks for 15 days. Western Union costs $10 but is within 2 hours. If you mail, your return address must be on the envelope. Unnecessarily complicated? Of course, it's the BOP !)

The address of her Defense Committee is:

Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
1070 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York 11216
For further information:
718-789-0558 or 917-853-9759

Please make a generous contribution to her defense.



Reasonable doubts about executing Kevin Cooper
Chronicle Editorial
Monday, December 13, 2010

Death penalty -- Kevin Cooper is Innocent! Help save his life from San Quentin's death row!

- From Amnesty International USA
17 December 2010
Click here to take action online:

To learn about recent Urgent Action successes and updates, go to

For a print-friendly version of this Urgent Action (PDF):


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

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

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

Thank you for your generosity!


D. ARTICLES IN FULL (Unless otherwise noted)


1) For Sellers, High End Is Hot
February 10, 2012

2) Informer Misled NATO in Airstrike That Killed 8 Civilians, Afghans Say
February 10, 2012

3) A Confused Nuclear Cleanup
"A day laborer wiping down windows at an abandoned school nearby shrugged at the work crew's haphazard approach. 'We are all amateurs,' he said. 'Nobody really knows how to clean up radiation.'"
February 10, 2012

4) Across the Country, Looking for the Recovery
"Holly Kiluk, 47, has become used to the seasonal ebbs of her husband's job as an asphalt worker and feels her family is 'one of the few that are getting by,' in her town of Ashby, Mass., near the New Hampshire line northwest of Boston. She has made it work in part by bargain hunting. She buys men's sweatshirts that can perform double duty - she shares them with her grandson who lives with her. And when gas prices rose, she moved her five children to a school closer to home. Ms. Kiluk's daughter, Katie, said that few of her friends have found well-paying jobs, and many have joined the military instead. And few of those returning from Iraq have landed a job. For the most part, Ms. Kiluk blames President Obama for the economic stagnation. 'I don't think he's helped us. I think he picked up a mess and made it bigger,' she said, adding that she was particularly disappointed by the stimulus. 'It was all a gimmick, all a farce.' Still, she has little faith in the Republican Party, either. 'Every candidate wants to cut this, cut that,' she said. 'There isn't anything I agree with, with the people running now. I wish it were different.'"
February 11, 2012

5) As Europe Seeks More, Divisions Rise in Greece Over New Austerity Plan
February 10, 2012

6) Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It
Published: February 11, 2012

7) Race still matters, nonprofit leader says
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times
February 12, 2012

8) Admiral Seeks Freer Hand in Deployment of Elite Forces
"The Special Operations Command now numbers just under 66,000 people - including both military personnel and Defense Department civilians - a doubling since 2001. Its budget has reached $10.5 billion, up from $4.2 billion in 2001 (after adjusting for inflation). Over the past decade, Special Operations Command personnel have been deployed for combat operations, exercises, training and other liaison missions in more than 70 countries. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Special Operations Command sustained overseas deployments of more than 12,000 troops a day, with four-fifths committed to the broader Middle East."
February 12, 2012

9) Greek Parliament Passes Austerity Plan After Riots Rage
"The new austerity measures include, among others, a 22 percent cut in the benchmark minimum wage and 150,000 government layoffs by 2015 - a bitter prospect in a country ravaged by five years of recession and with unemployment at 21 percent and rising."
February 12, 2012

10) Strike Ends as Israel and Unions Reach Pact
February 12, 2012

11) With Tips From Whistle-Blowers, More Hands on Deck in Pollution Cases
"While no one knows exactly how much is dumped, estimates suggest that the total each year dwarfs many major spills that get far more attention. One analysis put the annual amount at eight times the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, which emptied an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound."
February 13, 2012

12) Afghan Report Blames NATO for Airstrike That Killed Children
"'When we went there we saw the children in pieces, some missing legs, some missing arms, only the heads and face could be recognized, nothing else.'"
February 13, 2012

13) Longshore workers name Occupy movement as crucial in EGT settlement
Coordinated action by West Coast Occupys proves effective as ILWU Local 21 ratifies contract
More information at
For Immediate Release: February 11, 2012
Anthony Leviege, ILWU Local 10 in Oakland, CA - (415) 290-9253
Paul Nipper, Occupy Longview - (503) 412-9211
Jess Kincaid, Portland - Occupy the EGT Working Group - (503) 567-8694

14) Police Evict Occupy Newark Protesters
February 15, 2012

15) Output Rises at U.S. Factories
February 15, 2012

16) 8 Young Afghans Killed in Strike, NATO Acknowledges
February 15, 2012

17) Working All Day for the I.R.S.
February 17, 2012

18) Palestinian's Trial Shines Light on Military Justice
February 18, 2012

19) For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage
February 17, 2012

20) Charges Are Dropped for 14 Demonstrators
February 17, 2012

21) Drones Set Sights on U.S. Skies
February 17, 2012

22) Lights, Camera, Drones!
February 18, 2012, 9:00 am


1) For Sellers, High End Is Hot
February 10, 2012

WHILE the economy remains stubbornly sluggish and home sales nationwide continue to sag, Manhattan's real estate market has largely stabilized, with apartments in some neighborhoods selling for prices not seen since the headiest days of the boom.

But on the road to recovery, one segment of the market has outpaced the rest: ultraluxury, which analysts roughly define as properties costing $7 million and up. At these lofty heights, there was only the slightest of hiccups after the crash, and in the ensuing years, values have soared, with some apartments doubling in price.

Normally, that news would mean rising prices in every other segment of the market, from the tiniest starter studios to family-size four-bedroom co-ops. But that is not happening, even with interest rates at record lows and prices considered reasonable by Manhattan standards.

"There is a greater disconnect between the very top of the market and everything else than I have ever seen in my 25 years in the business," said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

Part of the reason for this, brokers and analysts say, is that the wealthiest buyers are immune to practical matters like stricter lending standards and shrunken Wall Street bonuses.

In the last three years there has also been a dry spell in new construction, and for those with money to burn, the limited inventory has stoked demand. And with New York now seen as a refuge during uncertain times, international buyers are helping to drive the prices ever higher.

"Most people would say that the top end of the market is bulletproof," said Pamela Liebman, the president of the Corcoran Group, "and that buyers at this end don't have the same sensitivities as the rest of the market and their confidence does not wane. There is a reason that Hermès has a waiting list for belts and bags."

Defining ultraluxury is not an exact science.

"When I started," Mr. Miller said, " 'luxury' meant the building had a doorman. Now, because luxury has become generic, they have had to add the adjective ultra."

Generally, brokers agree that anything priced above $7 million fits the bill. Mr. Miller compared the sales at the top 5 percent of the market - apartments priced over $6 million - with those at the bottom 5 percent - apartments priced below $300,000 - over the last decade. After adjusting for inflation, he found that the value gap between the most and the least expensive properties has never been wider.

"It seems to be part of a wider global phenomenon, where there is an ever greater concentration of wealth at the upper echelons," he said.

Many moderately priced properties sold last year for roughly the same price that they brought from 2006 to 2008. Mr. Miller described a one-bedroom at 360 East 72nd Street as typical. The owners paid $770,000 for it in 2006 and sold it last year for $750,000, about a 2 percent loss. Meanwhile, a four-bedroom at 151 East 58th Street, bought in 2005 for $13 million, sold five years later for $17.75 million, a 36 percent profit.

The most expensive apartments constitute only a fraction of the market, but the impact of their rising value is greater than just the eye-popping sums they command. Along with the surge in demand for lavish prewar co-ops, the success of developments like Superior Ink in Greenwich Village, and 15 Central Park West and the Laureate on the Upper West Side, makes it all the more likely that future developers will choose luxury over affordability.

In the 1980s, it was rental high-rises like those dotting the Upper East Side that appealed to developers. While they often offered some good-sized apartments, they were designed to accommodate as many apartments as possible. Operating under a different mindset, developers of those buildings often put fitness centers on the top floor, whereas that space now would be reserved for a penthouse getting top dollar.

The condos that have opened in the last few years often have larger apartments and fewer units. They are aimed squarely at the rich, perhaps none more so than the new Extell development at 157th West 57th Street, called One57.

When it opens next year, it will be the city's tallest residential building, at 90 stories, and the most expensive, with the cheapest unit reportedly at $7 million. Fewer than 100 residences will be available.

New York has always had its share of trophy properties, but Ms. Liebman identified the $45 million sale in 2003 of an apartment in the Time Warner Center as the one that ushered prices into the stratosphere. Whereas eight-figure deals were a rarity as recently as five years ago, hardly a week went by last year without a sale over $10 million. The gilt-edged properties were spread across the city, including penthouses in TriBeCa and Union Square, co-ops on the East Side and new condos on the West Side.

When the banker Sanford I. Weill sold an apartment at 15 Central Park West late last year with an asking price of $88 million - more than $13,000 per square foot - real estate executives said the deal signaled another leap in the kinds of prices that are possible. Mr. Weill very likely doubled his 2007 investment of $43,687,751.

The impact was immediate. For instance the reported asking price for the penthouse at One57, first set at $90 million, soon neared $115 million. Still, at $7,000 per square foot, a certain kind of shopper might consider it a bargain.

"Even if you are spending $40 million, it is comforting to know that there are other people spending that kind of money as well," said Kelly Kennedy Mack, the president of the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, who has been a consultant to top-selling Manhattan developments including One57. "


2) Informer Misled NATO in Airstrike That Killed 8 Civilians, Afghans Say
February 10, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan government officials who traveled to the snowbound village where seven children and a young adult reportedly were killed in a NATO airstrike this week said that the bombing was based on incorrect information.

The officials said that after talking to local residents and seeing the area, they concluded that an informer had misled the French troops who control the area.

The airstrike took place on Wednesday in the village of Geyaba in the eastern Afghan province of Kapisa. Seven boys under 14 and an 18-year-old were killed in the attack, according to Abdul Mubin Safi, the administrative director of Kapisa Province. They were herding sheep less than half a mile from their homes when the bombing happened.

NATO representatives and Afghan officials traveled to the area by helicopter to investigate and returned Friday, said Maj. Jason Waggoner, a NATO spokesman. He said there was no word yet from NATO officials on the findings of the joint Afghan-NATO team.

One member of the team, Mohammad Hussain Khan Sanjani, the chairman of the provincial council who was reached by telephone in Kapisa, said that after talking with people in the village, it seemed that misinformation had been passed to NATO forces.

"These people are involved in animal husbandry, they own sheep and goats, and their children went out to feed the animals behind their village under some oak trees," Mr. Sanjani said.

"The French troops had a secret report from one of their agents who told them that in that area there were armed men preparing to attack the government and the French soldiers in Kapisa," he said. "We talked to locals and found that the intelligence was wrong and they targeted civilians."

The French soldiers, who are largely responsible for Kapisa Province, have faced stiff resistance from the insurgents there and in the Sarobi district of neighboring Kabul Province. Eighty-two French soldiers have been killed in combat since 2001, mostly in those two areas.

France's military high command did not respond to requests for comment on the airstrike in Kapisa.

The province is divided ethnically, with some areas heavily Tajik and others Pashtun. The Pashtun areas have had a strong insurgent presence that includes both Taliban fighters and fighters loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an insurgent leader.

The Najrab district, where the airstrike occurred, is mixed with Tajiks, Pashtuns and Pashai, and while local officials said it was not held by insurgents, their presence could not be ruled out since Najrab is adjacent to less stable districts.

"The area is not influenced by the Taliban, but there was some sort of illegal weapon smuggling," said Abdul Saboor Wafa, the Kapisa governor's chief of staff.

Civilian casualties have caused serious tensions between the United States-led military coalition and the Afghan government. Civilian deaths caused by NATO and Afghan forces dropped last year, although the number of civilians killed by airstrikes that were intended to hit insurgents rose, to 187, the United Nations has reported.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the loss of life in Kapisa and blamed a NATO airstrike in a statement on Thursday.

Scott Sayare contributed reporting from Paris.


3) A Confused Nuclear Cleanup
"A day laborer wiping down windows at an abandoned school nearby shrugged at the work crew's haphazard approach. 'We are all amateurs,' he said. 'Nobody really knows how to clean up radiation.'"
February 10, 2012

IITATE, Japan - As 500 workers in hazmat suits and respirator masks fanned out to decontaminate this village 20 miles from the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, their confusion was apparent.

"Dig five centimeters or 10 centimeters deep here?" a site supervisor asked his colleagues, pointing to a patch of radioactive topsoil to be removed. He then gestured across the village square toward the community center. "Isn't that going to be demolished? Shall we decontaminate it or not?"

A day laborer wiping down windows at an abandoned school nearby shrugged at the work crew's haphazard approach. "We are all amateurs," he said. "Nobody really knows how to clean up radiation."

Nobody may really know how. But that has not deterred the Japanese government from starting to hand out an initial $13 billion in contracts meant to rehabilitate the more than 8,000-square-mile region most exposed to radioactive fallout - an area nearly as big as New Jersey. The main goal is to enable the return of many of the 80,000 or more displaced people nearest the site of last March's nuclear disaster, including the 6,500 villagers of Iitate.

It is far from clear, though, that the unproved cleanup methods will be effective.

Even more disturbing to critics of the decontamination program is the fact that the government awarded the first contracts to three giant construction companies - corporations that have no more expertise in radiation cleanup than anyone else does, but that profited hugely from Japan's previous embrace of nuclear power.

It was these same three companies that helped build 45 of Japan's 54 nuclear plants - including the reactor buildings and other plants at Fukushima Daiichi that could not withstand the tsunami that caused a catastrophic failure - according to data from Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, a watchdog group.

One of them, the Taisei Corporation, leads the consortium that sent out the workers now tramping around Iitate in hazmat suits. Consortiums led by Taisei and the other two big companies - Obayashi and Kajima - among them received contracts for the government's first 12 pilot decontamination projects, totaling about $93 million.

"It's a scam," said Kiyoshi Sakurai, a critic of the nuclear industry and a former researcher at a forerunner to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which is overseeing this phase of decontamination. "Decontamination is becoming big business."

The cleanup contracts, Mr. Sakurai and other critics contend, are emblematic of the too-cozy ties they say have long existed between the nuclear industry and government.

"The Japanese nuclear industry is run so that the more you fail, the more money you receive," Mr. Sakurai said.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency said the construction giants would not necessarily receive the bulk of the future work, which will be contracted out by the Environment Ministry. Company officials, however, have indicated they expected to continue serving as primary contractors.

"We are building expertise as we work," said Fumiyasu Hirai, a Taisei spokesman. "It is a process of trial and error, but we are well-equipped for the job."

Kajima and Obayashi said they could not comment on the projects under way.

An Environment Ministry official, Katsumasa Seimaru, said that big construction companies were best equipped to gather the necessary manpower, oversee large-scale projects like decontaminating highways and mountains, and properly protect and monitor radiation exposure among the cleanup workers.

"Whether you promoted nuclear or not beforehand isn't as important as what you can do to help with the cleanup," Mr. Seimaru said.

Other construction companies are scrambling to get in on the action. In late January, the Maeda Corporation, another general contractor, won a cleanup contract, this one awarded by the Environment Ministry. Maeda bid to take the job for less than half the expected costs, an apparent loss-leader maneuver to get a foot in the door that has drawn complaints from other bidders, including Taisei.

Early this month, a city just outside the exclusion zone, Minamisoma, said that it would also allocate 40 billion yen ($525 million) worth of decontamination projects to groups led by national general contractors. Whatever the controversy, there is no question Japan is undertaking a crucial task. The endeavor is meant to go far beyond the partial cleanup that followed the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, which left a 19-mile radius around the plant that, even a quarter-century later, remains largely off limits.

But there is little consensus on what cleanup methods might prove effective in Japan. Radioactive particles are easily carried by wind and rain, and could recontaminate towns and cities even after a cleanup crew has passed through, experts say.

"No experts yet exist in decontamination, and there is no reason why the state should pay big money to big construction companies," said Yoichi Tao, a visiting professor in physics at Kogakuin University who is helping Iitate villagers test decontamination methods on their own. He is also monitoring the effectiveness of the energy agency's decontamination projects.

Though big companies have won the main contracts so far, the actual cleanup - essentially a simple but tedious task of scrubbing and digging - is being carried out by numerous subcontractors and sub-subcontractors, who in turn rely on untrained casual laborers to do the dirtiest decontamination work.

This tiered structure, in which fees are siphoned off and wages dwindle each step down the ladder, follows the familiar pattern of Japan's nuclear and construction industries.

On the Iitate project, most of the workers come from elsewhere. The self-described amateur wiping down the school windows, who would identify himself only as Shibata, said he was an autoworker by trade who resided about 160 miles away, just east of Tokyo in Chiba. He said he had jumped at news that there was "decent-paying work but not so dangerous" in Fukushima.

Mr. Shibata said he was working two four-hour shifts a day and was being put up in a local spa resort. Although he and other workers declined to discuss their wages, local news media have reported that the pay for decontamination work can reach about 25,000 yen, or around $325 a day.

He spoke as he wiped a window with a paper towel. "One swipe per towel, or the radioactive particles just get spread around," he said. "Not that you can see the radiation at all."

Indeed. A similar cleanup project at the Iitate community center last fall, undertaken by the local government, was unable to reduce the radiation to safe levels.

The pilot projects led by Taisei and the other contractors have already hit snags. The government, for example, failed to anticipate communities' reluctance to store tons of soil scraped from contaminated yards and fields.

Some critics, meanwhile, have argued that local companies and governments could perform the cleanup work for much less money, while creating local jobs.

Some Iitate villagers have enlisted the help of university experts to take matters into their own hands. Their experiments, they say, suggest that decontamination must start on the forested mountains that cover three-quarters of Iitate's land area.

"Even if they clean up our homes, the radiation will sweep down from the mountains again and recontaminate everything," said Muneo Kanno, a 60-year-old farmer. Like many other residents of Iitate, he stayed in the village for more than a month after the disaster, unaware that the radioactive plumes had reached Iitate.

Mr. Kanno fled the village in May but returns on weekends to try different decontamination methods. Recently he took Mr. Tao, the visiting physicist, to a nearby mountain to test the effectiveness of removing dead leaves from the ground to reduce radiation levels.

There is no public financing for their work, which is supported by donations and the volunteer efforts of the villagers themselves. On a recent morning, about a dozen volunteers, some as old as 70, scrambled up a snowy mountainside to rake leaves into cloth sacks, wearing only regular clothes and surgical masks.

"We know the land here far better than the construction companies do," Mr. Kanno said. "We are afraid that the money is just disappearing into thin air."

Yasuko Kamiizumi contributed research.


4) Across the Country, Looking for the Recovery
"Holly Kiluk, 47, has become used to the seasonal ebbs of her husband's job as an asphalt worker and feels her family is 'one of the few that are getting by,' in her town of Ashby, Mass., near the New Hampshire line northwest of Boston. She has made it work in part by bargain hunting. She buys men's sweatshirts that can perform double duty - she shares them with her grandson who lives with her. And when gas prices rose, she moved her five children to a school closer to home. Ms. Kiluk's daughter, Katie, said that few of her friends have found well-paying jobs, and many have joined the military instead. And few of those returning from Iraq have landed a job. For the most part, Ms. Kiluk blames President Obama for the economic stagnation. 'I don't think he's helped us. I think he picked up a mess and made it bigger,' she said, adding that she was particularly disappointed by the stimulus. 'It was all a gimmick, all a farce.' Still, she has little faith in the Republican Party, either. 'Every candidate wants to cut this, cut that,' she said. 'There isn't anything I agree with, with the people running now. I wish it were different.'"
February 11, 2012

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. - Tell people here that the economy is getting better and they look quizzical. Perhaps the numbers say so, but they can hardly see it in their own lives.

A decade ago, this was a place where the middle class came to nurture its dreams - buying a house, enrolling children in a decent public school and shopping at any one of the dozens of malls dotting the landscape. But the bust hit hard here. This city - and the towns that surround it in Riverside County - became an emblem of the housing foreclosure crisis with one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

The numbers are improving now, though. The foreclosures have subsided. Unemployment has fallen to 14.4 percent last month from 17 percent in 2010. But still, it is hard to detect a sense of optimism.

Instead, a feeling of frustrated hope could be heard in dozens of interviews here and in other towns like it across the country - in north-central Massachusetts, Belvidere, Ill., and Seattle. Each place has its own signs of an improving economy - a few new construction sites, even a batch of job openings. And heaven knows, people want to be optimistic. But most of them, for the most part, are not feeling it yet.

"I don't see anybody doing anything for our country or our situation that is making much of a difference," said Mark Bouldin, 36, who once made a decent living here in the suburban sprawl about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, working construction, renovating homes and doing small repairs. "I've looked for work every single day, and there's just nothing."

In 2009, with work drying up, he closed shop. Now, he is in school to become a minister at his church. The only thing that keeps him going, he said, is a belief in God. "Everybody is fighting for the little scraps of whatever they can get," he said.

Even in places where fresh jobs have sprouted, some stubborn gloom persists.

Take Belvidere, an old manufacturing town not far from the Wisconsin border, where unemployment had reached 17.4 percent, among the highest in Illinois. The Chrysler assembly plant in Belvidere announced this month that it would hire 1,800 workers by summer to support the production of a new model. One local newspaper said it was "the biggest and best news we've had in the Rock River Valley in years, perhaps ever."

Today the factory employs more than 2,700 people, up from just 200 when the company emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. People are flowing in from all over the region - the company said it had to stop accepting applications after more than 7,500 were submitted for the new positions.

Donald Hardt, 60, has been out of work since August, when he was laid off by a machine products supplier in Wisconsin because of downsizing. On Wednesday, Mr. Hardt was at the Chrysler plant to fill out an application.

But other than Chrysler's good news, there are not many signs of improvement in the area.

"I've been looking every day since August," Mr. Hardt said. "I've been seeing minimum-wage jobs, but you can't make a living on minimum wage."

In so many ways, the sluggish economy permanently changed people's lives and attitudes.

Holly Kiluk, 47, has become used to the seasonal ebbs of her husband's job as an asphalt worker and feels her family is "one of the few that are getting by," in her town of Ashby, Mass., near the New Hampshire line northwest of Boston. She has made it work in part by bargain hunting. She buys men's sweatshirts that can perform double duty - she shares them with her grandson who lives with her. And when gas prices rose, she moved her five children to a school closer to home.

Ms. Kiluk's daughter, Katie, said that few of her friends have found well-paying jobs, and many have joined the military instead. And few of those returning from Iraq have landed a job.

For the most part, Ms. Kiluk blames President Obama for the economic stagnation. "I don't think he's helped us. I think he picked up a mess and made it bigger," she said, adding that she was particularly disappointed by the stimulus. "It was all a gimmick, all a farce."

Still, she has little faith in the Republican Party, either.

"Every candidate wants to cut this, cut that," she said. "There isn't anything I agree with, with the people running now. I wish it were different."

For many of those interviewed, politics seemed almost beside the point. While some faulted the president, others felt he had not gotten enough credit for improving the sluggish economy, even if those improvements have yet to trickle down to their own lives. Even those who hope to elect a Republican to the White House this fall say they doubt much will change.

"I don't know who to blame and I don't know if it much matters," said Kim Barron, 48, of Moreno Valley.

Ms. Barron and her husband once made a living buying and fixing up used cars. But two years ago the work vanished and it got too expensive to gas up the cars. Lately, her only work has come with occasional odd jobs. "I pray and look for work every day, but I just don't see it coming to me or anyone I know."

She encourages her daughter to move to Colorado, where her sister has been able to keep a steady job in a medical office.

"Maybe things are better anywhere else outside of here," she said.

In Seattle, things have been a bit better for Kevin Long, who calls himself "fallout of the great recession." After working as an executive for Washington Mutual for years, he lost his job soon after Chase took over the bank.

Mr. Long was unemployed for a year, but with plenty of savings he viewed the time as "terrific," as he spent more time with his children.

Mr. Long was a self-proclaimed soccer dad when he found a job as the executive director of Seattle United, a nonprofit youth soccer club.

"I feel that things are starting to turn a corner," he said, but he had a difficult time pinpointing the evidence. "I don't know if it's tangible."

Jess Bidgood contributed reporting from Leominster, Mass.; Isolde Raftery from Seattle; and Steven Yaccino from Belvidere, Ill.


5) As Europe Seeks More, Divisions Rise in Greece Over New Austerity Plan
February 10, 2012

ATHENS - Greece's place in Europe once again hung in the balance on Friday, as the fragile interim coalition of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos was plunged into turmoil and European leaders expressed doubts about the country's commitment to remaking its economy and achieving solvency.

After a wave of defections from his cabinet, and as protests turned violent in Athens amid a general strike, Mr. Papademos told lawmakers that they must approve new austerity measures demanded by Greece's creditors - including a 22 percent cut in the benchmark minimum wage and public-sector layoffs - or the country would suffer a disorderly default with social dislocation and would eventually leave the euro zone.

After a five-hour meeting, the cabinet approved the package, sending it on to Parliament for final approval, perhaps as early as Sunday.

The prime minister's comments kicked off what is expected to be a long and chaotic weekend of brinkmanship, with Greek politicians fighting for their survival in the face of unpopular austerity measures and European leaders demanding more concessions in a climate of growing urgency - and mistrust - between Greece and its foreign lenders.

Greece's so-called troika of foreign lenders - the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - has demanded sweeping austerity measures in exchange for $170 billion in bailout money that Greece needs in order to avert default. The troika has also made passage of the measures a condition for sealing a deal in which private creditors will take voluntary losses of up to 70 percent of Greek debt.

But nearly two years after Greece's first bailout, Athens and its lenders are at a dangerous impasse. Europe has lost confidence that the Greek government has the will or capacity to follow through on its commitments to structural changes. Greeks, whose standard of living is dropping precipitously with no end in sight, have lost confidence that the bailout will actually save the country from default.

With so many variables and so little time, some experts said that almost any outcome was possible, from disorderly default and chaos to a new agreement and at least temporary calm. "Greece defaulting is probably just as likely to happen as a result of an accident as an act of will," said Platon Tinios, an economist at the University of Piraeus. "If you are skating at the edge of a precipice, the slightest push could push you over."

For now, both sides appear to lack a viable Plan B. Behind closed doors in Brussels at a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Thursday, the lack of trust was evident - and may have put the entire bailout at risk.

The ministers had been expected to approve with little fuss the austerity package negotiated among Greek politicians. Instead, the European ministers made it plain that they did not believe the figures provided by Greece. They jolted Athens by insisting that it find an additional $428 million in savings - to make up for a shortfall created by the refusal of political leaders to slash supplemental pensions - before their next meeting, expected on Wednesday.

In one of several tough exchanges, the Greek finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, was taken to task by the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, for having failed to begin the required negotiations with labor unions over the reduction in the minimum wage. At some point in the evening, an open television microphone recorded a markedly different exchange between Mr. Schäuble and the finance minister of Portugal, which faces an austerity-driven economic slump similar to Greece's.

If Portugal needed to ease its bailout terms, "we would be ready to do it," Mr. Schäuble said in a friendly conversation broadcast on a private Portuguese network, TVI. "That's much appreciated," replied his counterpart from Portugal, Vitor Gaspar.

There are also tensions within the troika. Because of Greece's failure to meet budget targets amid a recession aggravated by the troika-imposed austerity regimen, its lenders no longer believe the $170 billion bailout will be enough. But the I.M.F. does not want to provide extra financing, because its analysts do not believe Greece's debt load is sustainable.

European leaders have been reluctant to come up with more money, but are expected to do so in the end - but not before pushing Greece to the edge, people familiar with the talks said.

The measures are understandably unpopular in Greece, where politicians are positioning themselves for elections that could be held as soon as April, although two of the three parties in the coalition have said they want to delay them until 2013.

Adding to the anxiety surrounding the negotiations, on Friday the leader of the smallest of the three parties in the coalition said he would vote against the austerity package Greek leaders agreed to Thursday after marathon negotiations. "The creditors are asking for 40 years of submission," said Georgios Karatzaferis, who heads the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally. "Greece will not give itself up."

Mr. Karatzaferis's party, however, controls only 16 seats in Parliament, not enough to scuttle the deal if most of the other members of the coalition, legislators in the Socialist and New Democracy parties, support it. Several coalition legislators have indicated that they object to certain measures - chiefly wage cuts - and may vote against them but it would take a huge backbench rebellion for the vote to fail as the two largest parties have 236 seats in the 300-member house.

Mr. Karatzaferis called on Mr. Papademos to reshuffle his cabinet and replace Socialist ministers with technocrats. He also accused creditors of trying to "deprive Greece of the last trace of national sovereignty" and expressed frustration with German officials, who have taken a hard line in the negotiations.

"Greece cannot survive outside the E.U.," he said, "but it can do without a German jackboot."

On Friday, Mr. Papademos told his cabinet that a disorderly default would condemn the country to a "disastrous ordeal."

"It would create conditions of uncontrolled economic chaos and a social explosion," he said. "The state would be unable to pay wages and pensions and cover basic operational costs such as those of hospitals and schools."

Imports of basic goods like medicines and fuel would become problematic and businesses would close en masse. "The living standard of Greeks would collapse, and the country would be dragged into a spiral of recession, instability, unemployment and misery," he said.

"All these developments would lead, sooner or later, to Greece's exit from the euro zone," he said.

A tumultuous day inside Parliament was matched outside the building, where protesters throwing firebombs clashed with the police and Greek workers joined the second general strike this week in protest against new austerity measures.

Niki Kitsantonis reported from Athens, and Rachel Donadio from Rome. Stephen Castle contributed reporting from Brussels.


6) Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It
Published: February 11, 2012

LINDSTROM, Minn. - Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.

He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region's long-serving Democratic congressman.

Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

There is little poverty here in Chisago County, northeast of Minneapolis, where cheap housing for commuters is gradually replacing farmland. But Mr. Gulbranson and many other residents who describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and as opponents of government largess are drawing more deeply on that government with each passing year.

Dozens of benefits programs provided an average of $6,583 for each man, woman and child in the county in 2009, a 69 percent increase from 2000 after adjusting for inflation. In Chisago, and across the nation, the government now provides almost $1 in benefits for every $4 in other income.

Older people get most of the benefits, primarily through Social Security and Medicare, but aid for the rest of the population has increased about as quickly through programs for the disabled, the unemployed, veterans and children.

The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement. The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis published last year.

And as more middle-class families like the Gulbransons land in the safety net in Chisago and similar communities, anger at the government has increased alongside. Many people say they are angry because the government is wasting money and giving money to people who do not deserve it. But more than that, they say they want to reduce the role of government in their own lives. They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it. They say they want less help for themselves; less help in caring for relatives; less assistance when they reach old age.

The expansion of government benefits has become an issue in the presidential campaign. Rick Santorum, who won 57 percent of the vote in Chisago County in the Republican presidential caucuses last week, has warned of "the narcotic of government dependency." Newt Gingrich has compared the safety net to a spider web. Mitt Romney has said the nation must choose between an "entitlement society" and an "opportunity society." All the candidates, including Ron Paul, have promised to cut spending and further reduce taxes.

The problem by now is familiar to most. Politicians have expanded the safety net without a commensurate increase in revenues, a primary reason for the government's annual deficits and mushrooming debt. In 2000, federal and state governments spent about 37 cents on the safety net from every dollar they collected in revenue, according to a New York Times analysis. A decade later, after one Medicare expansion, two recessions and three rounds of tax cuts, spending on the safety net consumed nearly 66 cents of every dollar of revenue.

The recent recession increased dependence on government, and stronger economic growth would reduce demand for programs like unemployment benefits. But the long-term trend is clear. Over the next 25 years, as the population ages and medical costs climb, the budget office projects that benefits programs will grow faster than any other part of government, driving the federal debt to dangerous heights.

Americans are divided about the way forward. Seventy percent of respondents to a recent New York Times poll said the government should raise taxes. Fifty-six percent supported cuts in Medicare and Social Security. Forty-four percent favored both.

Support for spending cuts runs strong in Chisago, where anger at the government helped fuel Mr. Cravaack's upset victory in 2010 over James L. Oberstar, the Democrat who had represented northeast Minnesota for 36 years.

"Spending like this is simply unsustainable, and it's time to cut up Washington, D.C.'s credit card," Mr. Cravaack said in a February speech to the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce. "It may hurt now, but it will be absolutely deadly for the next generation - that's our children and our grandchildren."

But the reality of life here is that Mr. Gulbranson and many of his neighbors continue to take as much help from the government as they can get. When pressed to choose between paying more and taking less, many people interviewed here hemmed and hawed and said they could not decide. Some were reduced to tears. It is much easier to promise future restraint than to deny present needs.

"How do you tell someone that you deserve to have heart surgery and you can't?" Mr. Gulbranson said.

He paused.

"You have to help and have compassion as a people, because otherwise you have no society, but financially you can't destroy yourself. And that is what we're doing."

He paused again, unable to resolve the dilemma.

"I feel bad for my children."

Middle-Class Blues

Mr. Gulbranson has tried several ways to make a living in the storefront he bought from his father in 1979. He ran a gift shop, then shifted to selling jewelry. Nine years ago, he moved the gold scales to the back and bought equipment for screen-printing clothing. Through it all, he has never made more than about $46,000 in a year.

Meanwhile, the cost of life - and of raising five children - has climbed inexorably.

"I used to go out and try to have a meal at Perkins, which is a restaurant here, and get out of the store with $5," Mr. Gulbranson said. "And now it's probably up to $10."

In recent years he has earned so little that he did not pay federal income taxes, although he still paid thousands of dollars toward Medicare and Social Security. The earned-income tax credit is intended to offset those payroll taxes, to encourage people with lower-paying jobs to remain in the work force.

Mr. Gulbranson said the money covered the fees for his children's sports leagues and the cost of keeping the older ones on the family's car insurance.

"If we didn't get these government things, then probably my kids could not participate in some of the sports they do," he said.

Almost half of all Americans lived in households that received government benefits in 2010, according to the Census Bureau. The share climbed from 37.7 percent in 1998 to 44.5 percent in 2006, before the recession, to 48.5 percent in 2010.

The trend reflects the expansion of the safety net. When the earned-income credit was introduced in 1975, eligibility was limited to households making the current equivalent of up to $26,997. In 2010, it was available to families making up to $49,317. The maximum payout, meanwhile, quadrupled on an inflation-adjusted basis.

It also reflects the deterioration of the middle class. Chisago boomed and prospered for decades as working families packed new subdivisions along Interstate 35, which runs up the western edge of the county like a flagpole with its base set firmly in Minneapolis. But recent years have been leaner. Per capita income in Chisago excluding government aid fell 6 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis between 2000 and 2007. Over the next two years, it fell an additional 7 percent. Nationally, per capita income excluding government benefits fell by 3 percent over the same 10 years.

Mr. Gulbranson's business struggled as other companies, particularly construction firms, stopped ordering logo-emblazoned shirts. In 2009, the family claimed the earned-income credit for the first time on the advice of their accountant, who was claiming it for herself. The share of local families claiming the credit climbed 33 percent between 2000 and 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.

To make extra money, Mr. Gulbranson refereed 40 soccer games on Tuesday and Thursday nights last fall. His wife sold clothes at equestrian events and air-brushed novelties at craft fairs, driving around the country with a one-ton trailer hitched to a 20-foot van.

Their difficulties, Mr. Gulbranson said, have made it hard to imagine asking anyone to pay higher taxes.

"I don't think most people could bear to pay more," he said.

Instead, he said he would rather give up the earned-income credit the family now receives and start paying for school lunches for his children.

"I don't demand that the government does this for me," he said. "I don't feel like I need the government."

How about Social Security? And Medicare? Can he imagine retiring without government help?

"I don't think so," he said. "No. I don't know. Not the way we expect to live as Americans."

A Starring Role

Bob Kopka and his wife often drive to the American Legion hall in North Branch on Thursday nights, joining the crowd gathered in the basement bar for the weekly meat raffle. Almost everyone present relies on the government to pay for their medical care.

Mr. Kopka, 74, has had three heart procedures in recent years. His wife recently had surgery to remove cataracts from both eyes.

Without Medicare, Mr. Kopka said, the couple could not have paid for the treatments.

"Hell, no," he said. "No. Never. She would have to go blind."

And him?

"I'd die."

Few federal programs are more popular than Medicare, which along with Social Security assures a minimum quality of life for older Americans.

None are more central to the nation's financial problems. The Congressional Budget Office projects that government spending on medical benefits, even taking into account the cost containment measures in the 2010 health care law, will rise 60 percent over the next decade. Then it will start rising even more quickly. The cost of caring for each beneficiary continues to increase, and the government projects that Medicare enrollment will grow by roughly one-third as baby boomers enter old age.

Spending on medical benefits will account for a larger share of the projected increase in the federal budget over the next decade than any other kind of spending except interest payments on the federal debt.

Medicare's starring role in the nation's financial problems is not well understood. Only 22 percent of respondents to the New York Times poll correctly identified Medicare as the fastest-growing benefits program. A greater number of respondents, 27 percent, chose programs for the poor. That category, which includes Medicaid, is slightly larger than Medicare today but is projected to add only half as much to federal spending over the next decade.

Medicare's financial problems are much worse than Social Security's. A worker earning average wages still pays enough in Social Security taxes to cover the benefits the worker is likely to receive in retirement, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute. Social Security is still running out of money because the program must also support spouses who do not work and workers who earn lower wages. But Medicare's situation is even more dire because a worker earning average wages still contributes only $1 in Medicare taxes for every $3 in benefits likely to be received in retirement.

A woman who was 45 in 2010, earning $43,500 a year, will pay taxes that will reach a value of $87,000 by the time she retires, assuming the money is invested at an annual interest rate 2 percentage points above inflation, according to the Urban Institute analysis. But on average, the government will then spend $275,000 on her medical care. The average is somewhat lower for men, because women live longer.

Medicare is often described as an insurance program, but its premiums are not nearly high enough. In simple terms, Americans are getting more than they pay for.

But many older residents in Chisago say this problem belongs to younger generations. They paid what they were told; they want to collect what they were promised.

Some, like the Kopkas, have savings they can tap. Mr. Kopka still owns the landscaping business he started after leaving the Navy in the early 1960s. He and his wife own a three-bedroom home on three acres, valued by the county at $153,700. The mortgage is paid. They hope to pass the house to their children.

Others have nothing else. Barbara Sullivan, 71, moved last year to the apartments above the Chisago County Senior Center in North Branch. Waiting on a recent Friday for the hot lunch, which costs $3.50, she watched roughly 20 people play bingo for prizes including canned soup and Chef Boyardee pasta.

"Most of the seniors around here are struggling to make it," she said.

She counts herself among them. She lives on $1,220 a month in Social Security benefits and relied on Medicare to pay for an operation in November.

She believes that she is taking more from the government than she paid in taxes. She worries about the consequences for her grandchildren. She said she would like politicians to propose solutions.

"We're reasonable people," she said. "We're not going to say, 'Give it to me and let my grandchildren suffer.' I think they underestimate seniors when they think that way."

But she cannot imagine asking people to pay higher taxes. And as she considered making do with less, she started to cry.

"Without it, I'm not sure how I would live," she said. "With the check I'm getting from Social Security, it's a constant struggle on making sure that I pay my rent and have enough left for groceries.

"I haven't bought a Christmas present, I haven't bought clothing in the last five years, simply because I can't afford it."

Keeping a Promise

Representative Cravaack often says he entered politics to lift the burden of debt from the shoulders of his two sons.

"I vision that I open up their backpacks and I put in a 50-pound rock and zip it back up again," Mr. Cravaack told the Minnesota Freedom Council in October 2010. "And I say, 'Sorry, son, you're going to have to hump this the rest of your life.' Because that's exactly what we're doing to our national debt right now to our children."

Mr. Cravaack, a 53-year-old Navy veteran and a retired pilot for Northwest Airlines, was grounded by sleep apnea in 2007. He and his wife, an executive at the drug company Novo Nordisk, decided he would stay home with their sons. He soon became the first man to serve as president of the Chisago Lakes Parent Teacher Organization.

In August 2009, while driving the children to North Branch, he heard a talk radio host urging people to protest President Obama's health care legislation. Mr. Cravaack and about two dozen others spent more than two hours the next day in Mr. Oberstar's North Branch office before a staff member told them the congressman would not meet them. The rejection convinced Mr. Cravaack that Mr. Oberstar should be replaced. One of the other protesters, a woman who had taken her six children to the office, became Mr. Cravaack's campaign scheduler.

Two weeks after speaking to the Freedom Council, he beat Mr. Oberstar by 1.6 percentage points, or 4,407 votes. Voters in Chisago, the southern tip of an expansive district, provided the margin of victory.

"We have to break away," Mr. Cravaack told supporters, "from relying on government to provide all the answers."

Mr. Cravaack has said he drew unemployment benefits during a furlough from Northwest in the early 1990s. He did not respond to several requests for an interview, nor to an e-mail with questions about his views and about whether his family has drawn on other benefits programs. This account is based on a review of his public statements.

Shortly after arriving in Congress, Mr. Cravaack voted with a vast majority of House Republicans for a plan to remake Medicare by providing money to its beneficiaries to buy private insurance. Senate Democrats have rejected that plan.

But Mr. Cravaack has also consistently said the government should not reduce its largest category of spending - benefits for the current generation of retirees. He also says he does not support cuts for people who will turn 65 over the next decade.

"If you're 55 years and older, you don't have to listen to this conversation because we have to keep those promises," Mr. Cravaack told The Daily Caller last April. "People like myself, 52, if you're 54 or younger, we're going to have a conversation."

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

The government helps Matt Falk and his wife care for their disabled 14-year-old daughter. It pays for extra assistance at school and for trained attendants to stay with her at home while they work. It pays much of the cost of her regular visits to the hospital.

Mr. Falk, 42, would like the government to do less.

"She doesn't need some of the stuff that we're doing for her," said Mr. Falk, who owns a heating and air-conditioning business in North Branch. "I don't think it's a bad thing if society can afford it, but given the situation that our society is facing, we just have to say that we can't offer as much resources at school or that we need to pay a higher premium" for her medical care.

Mr. Falk, who voted for Mr. Cravaack, said he did not want to pay higher taxes and did not want the government to impose higher taxes on anyone else. He said that his family appreciated the government's help and that living with less would be painful for them and many other families. But he said the government could not continue to operate on borrowed money.

"They're going to have to reduce benefits," he said. "We're going to have to accept it, and we're going to have to suffer."

One of the oldest criticisms of democracy is that the people will inevitably drain the treasury by demanding more spending than taxes. The theory is that citizens who get more than they pay for will vote for politicians who promise to increase spending.

But Dean P. Lacy, a professor of political science at Dartmouth College, has identified a twist on that theme in American politics over the last generation. Support for Republican candidates, who generally promise to cut government spending, has increased since 1980 in states where the federal government spends more than it collects. The greater the dependence, the greater the support for Republican candidates.

Conversely, states that pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits tend to support Democratic candidates. And Professor Lacy found that the pattern could not be explained by demographics or social issues.

Chisago has shifted over 30 years from dependably Democratic to reliably Republican. Support for the Republican presidential candidate has increased relative to the national vote in each election since 1984. Senator John McCain won 55 percent of the vote here in 2008.

Residents say social issues play a role, but in recent years concerns about spending and taxes have predominated.

Voters in the North Branch school district have rejected increased financing for local schools in each of the past three years. In 2010, the district switched to a four-day school week, striking Monday from the calendar to save money.

Some of the fiercest advocates for spending cuts have drawn public benefits. Many, like Mr. Falk, have family members who rely on the government. They often cite that personal experience as the reason they want to cut government spending.

Brian Qualley, 49, has a sister who survived a brain tumor but was disabled by its removal. The government pays for her care at an assisted-living facility. Their mother scrapes by on Social Security.

Mr. Qualley said that the government should provide for those who need help, but that too much money was being wasted. Mr. Qualley, who owns a tattoo parlor in Harris, north of North Branch, said some of his customers paid with money from government disability checks.

"They're getting $300 or $400 tattoos, and they're wearing nice new Nike shoes that I can't afford," he said, looking up from working a complicated design into the left leg of a middle-aged woman. "I guess I shouldn't say it because it's my business, but I think a tattoo is a little too extravagant."

But Mr. Qualley said he did not want to reduce benefits for the current generation of retirees. Rather, he said his own generation should get less, because they have time to prepare. This is a common position among the young and healthy in Chisago.

Mr. Qualley said he was saving some money for retirement, although, he added, "I don't have a 401(k) or anything like that."

"I also have a job that I don't necessarily ever want to - or have to - retire from," he said.

What if his hands start to shake as he gets older?

"Actually," he said, the electric needle falling silent in his hand, "it's my shoulders and neck that bother me most."

Safety in Numbers

Barbara Nelson has little patience for people who say they will not need government help. She considers herself lucky she has not, and obligated to provide for those who do.

"Catastrophes happen in life," she said, sitting in a coffee shop in Taylors Falls. "To be so arrogant that you think it won't happen to you, that somehow you're going to be one of the special ones, I disagree with that."

Ms. Nelson, 61, who describes herself as a centrist Democrat, also dismisses the claim that people cannot afford to pay more taxes.

"Anyone who can come into a coffee shop and buy coffee is capable of paying more," she said. "If someone's life can be granted, in terms of adequate health care, if that means I give up five cups of coffee a month, that is a small price to pay."

Gordy Peterson, 62, who has used a wheelchair for 30 years since a construction accident, has reluctantly reached a similar conclusion.

"I'm a conservative," he said by way of introducing himself. He built his own house before his injury and paid for it in cash. He still thinks the government should operate that way. He never intended to depend on federal aid and said he sometimes felt guilty about it.

But for the last three decades, he has received a regular check from the Social Security disability insurance program, and Medicare has helped to pay his medical bills.

"Here I'm getting money, and everybody is struggling," he said. "Even though it ain't no cakewalk for me."

Mr. Peterson used a workers' compensation settlement to buy a farm that he managed with his brother-in-law, who is mentally handicapped and also on government disability.

"He was my legs, and we worked it," Mr. Peterson said.

They grew corn, soybeans and rye, and even kept steers for a while. In good years they earned enough to live on. In bad years they lived on the government's checks. Life would have been very difficult without them, he said.

Mr. Peterson, an easygoing man who looks down when he thinks and smiles sheepishly when he offers an opinion, looked down after completing the story of his own dependence on the safety net.

"It's hard to beat up on the government when they've been so good to you," he finally said. "I've never really thought about it, I guess."

Lately, the government has been very good, indeed. The county, with federal financing, bought a corner of Mr. Peterson's farm to build a new interchange for Interstate 35. He used the money to open a gas station at the edge of the farm in 2008 to serve the traffic that rolls off the new ramp. The business is prospering, and he no longer worries that he will need to depend on Social Security.

"But you can't take that away," he said. "My own sister has only Social Security. That's all. That's all she's going to have. And if you take that away from her, Christ, she'd be a street person. I don't think we can cut them off on that."

How about higher taxes?

Maybe a little higher, he said. Maybe.

"I'm glad I'm not a politician," he said. "We're all going to complain no matter what they do. Nobody wants to put a noose around their own neck."


7) Race still matters, nonprofit leader says
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times
February 12, 2012

W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Vice President Dr. Gail Christopher, one of the most powerful women in the national nonprofit sector, who will make the keynote speech at the annual fundraiser of North Lawndale Employment Network at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

Race still colors everything, according to one of the most powerful women in the nation's nonprofits.

From disproportionate numbers of minorities incarcerated, to their high rates of unemployment, infant mortality and chronic diseases, America's deep-rooted racism is to blame, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's vice president for program strategy, Dr. Gail Christopher, declared in a keynote address at the Ritz-Carlton Tuesday night.

"I know a lot of people don't like to talk about race. They begin to squirm. 'We're living in a post-racial America,' they say. Well, we're not," said the outspoken Christopher, with a reputation for blunt views on race.

"This country has embodied a fallacy, a belief in racial hierarchy for longer than it has been a country. The majority of children being born today are children of color, most of those children growing up in impoverished conditions. If we're going to actualize the promise of Democracy, we have to stand up for our children.

"And it's clear to me that if we are going to help the children of America, we have to talk about race."

Christopher, as decision-maker over grants at Kellogg - among the world's 10 largest foundations with over $7 billion in assets - sits in rarified air among the few African-Americans in officerships at America's largest foundations. A nationally recognized leader in health policy, she is architect of Kellogg's five-year, $75 million, America Healing program launched in 2010 and believed the most significant private grant effort ever to address the impact of racial inequities and promote racial healing.

"The ridiculous idea that physical characteristics can embody the worth of a human being is the legacy of centuries of this belief that has been imbued into our unconscious," she said. "It is not the blatant racism that hurts our children - though it's there. Rather, it's the stereotypes. It's the ocean we swim in this country. Our economic divides are expanding everyday, and the subtext of the political debates are all racial."

Christopher, who began her career in Chicago, was recruited by Kellogg in 2007. Author of three books, she spoke before some 250 attending the annual fund-raiser of the North Lawndale Employment Network, one of seven Illinois groups among 119 funded by America Healing nationally. NLEN provides job training to the formerly incarcerated.

"Our foundation has been going through what we call a reset," Christopher said of Kellogg, founded in 1930 by cereal king Will Keith Kellogg. "We are determined to have a movement in this country that says, 'America, we're not finished yet.' We have only begun to chip away at the hate. The story of America is not just one of victimization. The fact that there's a family of color in the White House is a story of success. But we have to tell all the stories. The unresolved, unconscious bias allowed to run rampant in our country is dangerous."


8) Admiral Seeks Freer Hand in Deployment of Elite Forces
"The Special Operations Command now numbers just under 66,000 people - including both military personnel and Defense Department civilians - a doubling since 2001. Its budget has reached $10.5 billion, up from $4.2 billion in 2001 (after adjusting for inflation). Over the past decade, Special Operations Command personnel have been deployed for combat operations, exercises, training and other liaison missions in more than 70 countries. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Special Operations Command sustained overseas deployments of more than 12,000 troops a day, with four-fifths committed to the broader Middle East."
February 12, 2012

WASHINGTON - As the United States turns increasingly to Special Operations forces to confront developing threats scattered around the world, the nation's top Special Operations officer, a member of the Navy Seals who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, is seeking new authority to move his forces faster and outside of normal Pentagon deployment channels.

The officer, Adm. William H. McRaven, who leads the Special Operations Command, is pushing for a larger role for his elite units who have traditionally operated in the dark corners of American foreign policy. The plan would give him more autonomy to position his forces and their war-fighting equipment where intelligence and global events indicate they are most needed.

It would also allow the Special Operations forces to expand their presence in regions where they have not operated in large numbers for the past decade, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

While President Obama and his Pentagon's leadership have increasingly made Special Operations forces their military tool of choice, similar plans in the past have foundered because of opposition from regional commanders and the State Department. The military's regional combatant commanders have feared a decrease of their authority, and some ambassadors in crisis zones have voiced concerns that commandos may carry out missions that are perceived to tread on a host country's sovereignty, like the rift in ties with Pakistan after the Bin Laden raid.

Administration, military and Congressional officials say that the Special Operations Command has embarked on a quiet lobbying campaign to push through the initiative. Pentagon and administration officials note that while the Special Operations Command is certain to see a growth in its budget and personnel when the new Defense Department spending plan is released Monday - in contrast to many other parts of the military that are being cut - no decisions have been made on whether to expand Admiral McRaven's authorities.

The White House and State Department declined to comment on the proposal on Sunday.

The proposals are put forward as a new model for warfare in an age of diminishing Pentagon budgets, shrinking numbers of troops and declining public appetite for large wars of occupation, according to Pentagon officials, military officers and civilian contractors briefed on the plan. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made.

Under the new concepts, a significant number of Special Operations forces - projected at 12,000 - would remain deployed around the world. While commando teams would be on call for striking terrorist targets and rescuing hostages, just as significant would be the increased number of these personnel deployed on training and liaison assignments and to gather information to help the command better predict approaching national security risks.

Officials stressed that in almost all cases, Special Operations forces would still only be ordered on specific missions by the regional four-star commander.

"It's not really about Socom running the global war on terrorism," Admiral McRaven said in a brief interview last week, referring to the Special Operations Command. "I don't think we're ready to do that. What it's about is how do I better support" the regional combatant commanders.

For the past decade, more than 80 percent of the United States' Special Operations forces have been deployed to the Middle East. With the military's conventional forces coming home after the full withdrawal from Iraq, Admiral McRaven wants the authority to spread his commando teams into regions where they had been thinned out to provide forces for wars after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Even more, Admiral McRaven wants the authority to quickly move his units to potential hot spots without going through the standard Pentagon process governing overseas deployments. Historically, the deployment of American forces overseas began with a request from a global combatant commander that was processed through the military's Joint Staff and placed before the defense secretary for approval, in a cautious and deliberate process.

Shifting national security threats may argue for Admiral McRaven's plans. With Special Operations forces concentrated in the Middle East and Southwest Asia over the last decade, commanders in other regions are seeking more of these units in their areas.

State Department officials say they have not yet been briefed on the proposals. In the past, some ambassadors in crisis zones have opposed increased deployments of Special Operations teams, and they have demanded assurances that diplomatic chiefs of missions will be fully involved in their plans and missions.

Senior Special Operations commanders pledged that their efforts would be coordinated with the senior diplomatic representative in each country. These officers also describe how the new authorities would stress working with local security forces whenever possible. The exception would be when a local government was unable or unwilling to cooperate with an authorized American mission, or if there was no responsible government in power with whom to work.

Admiral McRaven's plans have raised concerns even within the Special Operations community. Two Pentagon consultants said they have spoken with senior Special Operations officers who worry about their troops being stretched too thin. They are also concerned that Special Operations forces - still less than 2 percent of the entire military - will become so much the "go to" force of choice that they are asked to carry out missions beyond their capacity.

"Sure, we're worried about that," said one senior Special Operations officer with several command tours overseas. "But we also think we can manage that."

The Special Operations Command now numbers just under 66,000 people - including both military personnel and Defense Department civilians - a doubling since 2001. Its budget has reached $10.5 billion, up from $4.2 billion in 2001 (after adjusting for inflation).

Over the past decade, Special Operations Command personnel have been deployed for combat operations, exercises, training and other liaison missions in more than 70 countries. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Special Operations Command sustained overseas deployments of more than 12,000 troops a day, with four-fifths committed to the broader Middle East.

Even as the Pentagon trims its conventional force, with a refocus on the Asia-Pacific region and reductions in Europe, the Special Operations Command says it needs to permanently sustain that overseas force of 12,000 deployed around the world - with troops that came out of Iraq being distributed across regions that had not had many over the past decade.

Under Admiral McRaven's evolving plans - what he calls the Global SOF Alliance - Special Operations forces would be moved around the globe at his direction, to bolster the forces available to the top Special Operations officer assigned to each theater of operation. Thickening the Special Operations deployments in these other regions would allow the United States to be ready to respond more rapidly to a broader range of threats.

Current guidelines allow the Special Operations Command to carry out missions on its own for very specific types of operations, although that has rarely been done and officials involved in the current debate say that would remain a rare event.

"He's trying to provide global agility," said one former military official who has been briefed on the planning. "If your network is not elastic, it's not as agile as the enemy."


9) Greek Parliament Passes Austerity Plan After Riots Rage
"The new austerity measures include, among others, a 22 percent cut in the benchmark minimum wage and 150,000 government layoffs by 2015 - a bitter prospect in a country ravaged by five years of recession and with unemployment at 21 percent and rising."
February 12, 2012

ATHENS - After violent protests left dozens of buildings aflame in Athens, the Greek Parliament voted early on Monday to approve a package of harsh austerity measures demanded by the country's foreign lenders in exchange for new loans to keep Greece from defaulting on its debt.

Though it came after days of intense debate and the resignation of several ministers in protest, in the end the vote on the austerity measures was not close: 199 in favor and 74 opposed, with 27 abstentions or blank ballots. The Parliament also gave the government the authority to sign a new loan agreement with the foreign lenders and approve a broader arrangement to reduce the amount Greece must repay to its bondholders.

The new austerity measures include, among others, a 22 percent cut in the benchmark minimum wage and 150,000 government layoffs by 2015 - a bitter prospect in a country ravaged by five years of recession and with unemployment at 21 percent and rising.

But the chaos on the streets of Athens, where more than 80,000 people turned out to protest on Sunday, and in other cities across Greece reflected a growing dread - certainly among Greeks, but also among economists and perhaps even European officials - that the sharp belt-tightening and the bailout money it brings will still not be enough to keep the country from going over a precipice.

Angry protesters in the capital threw rocks at the police, who fired back with tear gas. After nightfall, demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, setting fire to more than 40 buildings, including a historic theater in downtown Athens, the worst damage in the city since May 2010, when three people were killed when protesters firebombed a bank. There were clashes in Salonika in the north, Patra in the west, Volos in central Greece, and on the islands of Crete and Corfu.

Greece and its foreign lenders are locked in a dangerous brinkmanship over the future of the nation and the euro. Until recently, a Greek default and exit from the euro zone was seen as unthinkable. Now, though experts say that the European Union is not prepared for a default and does not want one, the dynamic has shifted from trying to save Greece to trying to contain the damage if it turns out to be unsalvageable.

"They're trying to lay the ground for it, trying to limit the contagion from it," said Simon Tilford, the chief economist at the Center for European Reform, a research institute in London. Still, he added, letting Greece go would set a dangerous precedent, and it would be "fanciful" to think otherwise.

Greece's limping economy yields large trade and budget deficits, and none but the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund - known collectively as the troika - are willing to lend the nation the money it needs to stay afloat. The troika is demanding more concessions to placate Germany and other northern European countries, where the bailout of Greece is a hard sell to voters. For its part, Greece is trying to preserve social and political cohesion in the face of growing unrest, political extremism and a devastated economy that is expected to worsen with more austerity. And the feeling is growing here and abroad that the troika's strategy for Greece is failing.

The leaders of two of the three major political parties in Prime Minister Lucas Papademos's interim coalition government - the Socialists and the center-right New Democracy party - agreed on the new round of austerity after days of tense debate, maneuvering and threats. The leader of the third, the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally, refused to endorse the measures and later withdrew from the coalition.

In the debate on Sunday night before the vote, Mr. Papademos appealed to lawmakers to do their "patriotic duty" and pass the measures, saying they would be saving Greece from bankruptcy in March, when a bond issue comes due that Greece cannot repay without foreign help.

In a sign of how the crisis has frayed the political order in Greece, the three leading political parties all moved swiftly to expel lawmakers who had broken ranks with leaders in the voting.

Mr. Papademos is a former vice president of the European Central Bank who took office in November with a mandate to negotiate the new loan agreement before new elections are held, perhaps as soon as April. He acknowledged on Sunday that the program "calls for sacrifices from a broad range of citizens who have already made sacrifices." But the alternative, he said, "a disastrous default," would be worse.

European Union finance ministers, who were expected to approve the agreements with Greece at a meeting in Brussels last Thursday, instead sent a vote of no confidence, asking Greece for another $400 million in spending cuts.

When they meet again on Wednesday, they are expected to sign off on the measures and raise the stakes. A major topic of discussion is expected to be establishing an escrow account that would hold new money lent to Greece, and using it first to pay creditors, before the Greek government can tap it for any other purpose. The idea, backed by Germany and the Netherlands, may make further loans to Greece more palatable to German voters, but many Greeks see it as a fundamental loss of sovereignty and feel that they are being pushed into poverty to appease banks.

"Greece will become a protectorate," said Natalia Stefanou, 45, a shoe store employee at a protest outside the Parliament on Sunday. She said she had not been paid since September and may soon lose her job entirely. "It's not me I'm worried about, though," she said. "I've got two children, aged 14 and 15. What kind of country are we going to leave them?"

Anti-German sentiment is also on the rise in Greece, where memories of the Nazi occupation during World War II are still vivid. "This is worse than the '40s," said Stella Papafagou, 82, who wore a surgical mask at the demonstration to fend off the tear gas. "This time the government is following the Germans' orders. I would prefer to die with dignity than with my head bent down."

European leaders, fearful that Greece's crisis will undermine efforts to help other euro nations like Portugal and Spain, have been trying directly or indirectly in recent days to paint Greece as a special case, whose leaders have failed to transform its troubled and corrupt state fast enough. In an interview last week, the Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, said that in the highly unlikely event of a Greek default, "there would be extremely strong political policy and political responses to prevent any such phenomenon to go beyond Greece."

Similarly, Fabrizio Saccomanni, the director general of the Bank of Italy, told reporters last week, referring to the risk of "contagion," that "market indications seem to suggest that this problem is seen as minor."

But others say that is wishful thinking. "If one country in the monetary union can default, so can another - that is one simple inference that bank managers and hedge fund mangers can infer, no matter what Mrs. Merkel or Mr. Sarkozy may say," said Costas Lapavitsas, an economist at the University of London, referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

"Portugal and Ireland have unsustainable debt," he said. "Put two and two together, and it makes four."

Mr. Lapavitsas, who has been calling for Greece to go ahead and default on its own terms, added that it was "absolutely unacceptable that this huge amount of Greek debt that ties the country hand and foot should be dealt with by some unnamed and obscure technocrats and unelected people."

If Greece dug itself into a hole by borrowing beyond its means, as many argue, there is also a growing sense that the troika's austerity regimen of spending cuts and tax increases is burying Greece alive in that hole. "The reason Greece is in this position is because of the strategy the troika imposed upon it," said Mr. Tilford, of the Center for European Reform.

"The I.M.F. has never approached a country like this," he said. "With this much austerity, it would always have a huge devaluation, too."

Financial analysts said they expected investors to welcome news of the vote in Parliament.

"It's a pause, it's a relief," said Milton Ezrati, the senior economist and market strategist at Lord Abbett & Company. "But it's short-lived and everyone knows that. We're buying a few more months before the next round of trouble."

Jerry A. Webman, the senior investment officer and chief economist for Oppenheimer Funds, also struck a cautious note.

"It doesn't solve the problem," Mr. Webman said, "but it gives everybody the political cover to look for ways to solve the real Greek problem, which is how to get the country and its economy back on more stable footing."

With more wage cuts and tax increases expected, Greeks are growing increasingly angry at their own lawmakers as well as the troika of lenders.

"They've all sold out in there, they should be punished," said Makis Barbarossos, 37, an insurance salesman, as he waved a cigarette toward Parliament on Sunday. "We should put them in small, unheated apartments with 300-euro pensions and see, can they live like that? Can they live how they're asking us to live?"

Niki Kitsantonis reported from Athens, and Rachel Donadio from Rome. Julie Creswell contributed reporting from New York, and Elisabetta Povoledo from Rome.


10) Strike Ends as Israel and Unions Reach Pact
February 12, 2012

JERUSALEM - Israel's first general strike in five years ended Sunday with an agreement that improves conditions for nonunionized contract workers used by government agencies.

The walkout, which began Wednesday, shut government offices, banks and the stock exchange, paralyzed postal services and affected public transportation as well as some hospital services. Israel's main airport closed on the first morning of the strike, but it reopened hours later under a court order. Garbage had been piling up, and A.T.M.'s had started running out of cash.

Marathon negotiations between the Finance Ministry and the Histadrut Labor Federation, the umbrella union for hundreds of thousands of public-sector workers, failed to produce a compromise before the weekend.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Ofer Eini, the chairman of the Histadrut, held a joint news conference about 10 a.m. on Sunday, soon after the start of the workweek here, at which they announced that they had reached a deal. The dispute involved government agencies' growing use of contract workers, especially cleaners and security guards, hired through employment agencies, who earned substantially less than unionized employees.

The Histadrut supported last summer's popular social justice movement that brought 400,000 Israelis out into the streets at its peak. Those protests were mostly driven by issues like the lack of affordable housing and the rising cost of living, but speakers at the rallies also highlighted the plight of contract workers, particularly in the education system.

On Sunday, Mr. Eini thanked the workers' committees and unionized workers who took on the cause of nonunionized workers, and he thanked the public for its patience. Adopting the language of last summer's protests, he said that the workers had "helped us make a more honest and just society," and that the public "understood that it was a just struggle."

Mr. Steinitz, for his part, said he thought that Israel was making "an historic correction that strengthens weaker workers," one that was both just and would encourage people to go to work.

Under the deal, the minimum wage for contract workers is to be raised, and they will receive improved benefits, including employer participation in savings plans, larger employer participation in pension funds and subsidized meals. The agreement also calls for a small number of contract workers to be transferred to direct employment and for more inspectors to ensure that the rights of contract workers are being upheld.

In return, the Histadrut agreed to hold off industrial action for three years on issues pertaining to the economic conditions of contract workers employed as cleaners and security guards.


11) With Tips From Whistle-Blowers, More Hands on Deck in Pollution Cases
"While no one knows exactly how much is dumped, estimates suggest that the total each year dwarfs many major spills that get far more attention. One analysis put the annual amount at eight times the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, which emptied an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound."
February 13, 2012

BALTIMORE - Nothing seemed amiss aboard the Maltese cargo ship Aquarosa when Chief Warrant Officer William D. Dodson and his Coast Guard inspection team climbed the gangway. It was a crisp Sunday morning, the day after the new vessel had berthed to load scrap metal in its first visit to the United States.

That sense of normalcy evaporated after the chief engineer led the way below for tests of the rudder and fire pump. There, a crew member named Salvador Lopez nervously tugged a note from his pocket and thrust it toward Mr. Dodson. He had something to share, the note read. A secret.

Mr. Lopez's secret was that the ship had been illegally dumping oily water and sludge overboard, and he had proof: hundreds of photographs stored on his phone. Partly because of Mr. Lopez's evidence, two companies that owned and operated the ship pleaded guilty last month to obstruction of justice and other charges and agreed to pay $1.2 million each in penalties and fines.

And for his sleuthing, Mr. Lopez stands to collect as much as $925,000.

Seafaring whistle-blowers, frequently seeking a financial bounty, have become one of prosecutors' most potent weapons against maritime polluters, providing the backbone for a growing number of cases the federal government has pursued in Baltimore and other port cities across the country.

"If the third engineer had not come to me with the note and said this was going on, we wouldn't have expanded the inspection, and most likely the boat would have left the port of Baltimore without our knowledge of what was going on," Mr. Dodson said in an interview.

As such cases increase, so have objections from maritime companies. In the Aquarosa case, a lawyer for the ship's management company, Efploia Shipping, said the seaman had undermined compliance with maritime environmental laws and should have reported the violation sooner.

"They can snap their pictures, take their notes and wait until they get to a port like Baltimore and get a payday," the lawyer, Gregory F. Linsin, said in court.

The judge in the case has not yet ruled on whether to reward Mr. Lopez, but the argument holds little water with environmentalists. Jacqueline Savitz, senior scientist at the conservation group Oceana, said that without whistle-blowers, it would be nearly impossible to prosecute scofflaws.

"The kinds of conditions that these seamen are operating in don't allow them to just tattletale on their bosses without some kind of safety net," she said.

While no one knows exactly how much is dumped, estimates suggest that the total each year dwarfs many major spills that get far more attention. One analysis put the annual amount at eight times the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, which emptied an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound.

Most of the cases involve illegal dumping of sludge and oily bilge water, the residue from the engines. International conventions that the United States adopted in 1980 require ships to separate out oil, then incinerate it or store it until reaching port. The law also forbids dumping plastics.

To skirt that requirement and save money, unscrupulous crews hook up hoses, known as "magic pipes," that bypass the separation equipment, then pump the oil overboard. The crews then fudge the logs, and the prosecutions often result from the falsified record-keeping rather than the dumping. One estimate is that 10 percent to 15 percent of the roughly 50,000 oceangoing commercial ships worldwide illegally dump oil and sludge.

Richard A. Udell, who frequently prosecutes magic pipe cases for the Department of Justice, said in court that ocean dumping was "virtually an epidemic," and that in many cases, the government could not go after polluters without people like Mr. Lopez.

In 1987, a whistle-blower provision was added to United States law, allowing seamen who report these crimes to collect up to half of the criminal fines imposed. Those bounties can reach as much as a million dollars.

As word spreads though educational campaigns, word of mouth and sensational stories of sudden riches, seafarers are coming forward to report the dumping and perhaps collect a bounty. There have been roughly 30 such cases since the early 1990s, all but four of them since 2002, according to a government filing in the Aquarosa case. The earlier cases tended to involve cruise ship lines.

Clay Maitland, founding chairman of the industry-financed North American Marine Environment Protection Association, said he was torn about the whistle-blower awards.

"The good part about having a whistle-blower is that you've got a witness," he said. "The bad part is that it isn't always possible to determine if that whistle-blower is telling the truth."

The path to a reward is neither quick nor guaranteed. The whistle-blowers often wait for months, isolated and bored, in motel rooms near their detained ships, a source of criticism from seafarers' advocates. Other witnesses and defendants similarly wait in limbo, which is the subject of a recent federal lawsuit from ship owners.

Mr. Lopez, who returned to the Philippines in December, said in an Internet interview that he had known a bounty was possible, but that his main concern had been preventing dumping, which he had also witnessed on other ships. He could not have reported the crimes anywhere but in the United States, he said, and certainly not when he was at sea.

"If others saw me, maybe I would be injured," he said. "Or they would kill me or send me home. It's dangerous."

It is not always a government official who intercepts the whistle-blower. In May 2010, that person was the Rev. Mary H. T. Davisson, executive director of the Baltimore International Seafarers' Center, a port ministry that assists and counsels docked ship crews.

A crew member on the Capitola, which had docked to pick up coal, handed her a computer flash drive containing a video of a magic pipe. Ms. Davisson gave the drive to the Coast Guard. In early 2011, the Liberian company that owned the ship agreed to pay $2.4 million in fines, although in that case, the whistle-blower did not receive an award.

Ms. Davisson, 59, has been asked to do many things in her years as a chaplain. A Russian seafarer once asked her where to buy violin strings.

But she had never had to handle evidence in a whistle-blower case. "I don't think I was expecting that," she said.


12) Afghan Report Blames NATO for Airstrike That Killed Children
"'When we went there we saw the children in pieces, some missing legs, some missing arms, only the heads and face could be recognized, nothing else.'"
February 13, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan - Seven children and a young adult were killed in a NATO airstrike last week as they grazed their sheep and goats in a snowy area of eastern Afghanistan, according to Afghan government officials who announced the findings of their investigation into the strike on Monday.

The strike occurred after a dawn clearing operation by NATO troops in a nearby village on Feb. 8, said Mohammed Tahir Safi, an adviser to President Hamid Karzai, who led the committee that investigated the civilian casualties.

"I call on human rights community and the world community: Who will speak up for the rights of these children?" he said. "Will you take the rights of these children?"

Mr. Safi held up photographs of what he said were the victims. Most looked like boys between the ages of 11 and 15. Their faces were bloodied and in at least one case the eye and side of the face was partially gone from the blast. The boys all appeared to be lying on white sheets. He said that one of the victims was between 18 and 20 years old, but that the rest were much younger.

The investigating committee, which traveled with NATO officers to the site of the attack in a remote, snowbound area, included representatives of the Afghan security forces as well as local elders and politicians.

NATO is investigating the deaths but has not yet determined whether it was responsible or who was killed, and how the strike came about, said Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings, a NATO spokesman.

"We were engaging a group of armed men that we observed engaging in unusual behavior," said Colonel Cummings.

The attack was "in accordance with our tactical directives," he added, referring to the rules of engagement used by NATO troops.

"Afterwards additional casualties were discovered," he said. "We have a thorough assessment going to discover how those casualties came about."

Unlike many civilian casualties that are caused by NATO troops and occur at night, this one appears to have happened during daylight hours, according to local villagers. It is unclear whether there were Taliban in the area or other insurgents. Local government officials have said that there are gun runners in the district, but not Taliban.

One of the villagers, who works as a police chief in a nearby district, lost his 12-year-old son, Ajmal, and two nephews, ages 9 and 11. The police officer, Abdul Zahid, described the area as deeply poor with almost no services of any kind.

"We don't have paved roads, school or a clinic in Gayawa," he said. "There's almost one meter snow here in our village and we send our children to take care of the goats and sheep and feed them and collect firewood from the trees nearby and bring it home so we can heat our homes."

On Feb. 8 when the bombing happened, the children had gone as usual to the grazing area outside the village. They had just finished letting the animals graze and had made a small fire to keep warm when they were bombed, he said.

"Suddenly some airplanes came and dropped bombs on the children and killed my son, my two nephews and some other children from our village," said Mr. Zahid. "When we went there we saw the children in pieces, some missing legs, some missing arms, only the heads and face could be recognized, nothing else."

Both Mr. Safi and Mr. Zahid said that British, French and Americans had come to the village and apologized for the deaths. NATO officials did not comment on whether its officers had apologized. The area is under the control of French troops.

Mr. Zahid said that he was comforted when he received a phone call from President Hamid Karzai after his son's death. "I could not even imagine that the president would call and talk to a poor person from a rural village," he said. "But when I heard his voice it gave me more hopes that our government is strong and they will avoid such incidents in the future and will bring the murderers to justice."


13) Longshore workers name Occupy movement as crucial in EGT settlement
Coordinated action by West Coast Occupys proves effective as ILWU Local 21 ratifies contract
More information at
For Immediate Release: February 11, 2012
Anthony Leviege, ILWU Local 10 in Oakland, CA - (415) 290-9253
Paul Nipper, Occupy Longview - (503) 412-9211
Jess Kincaid, Portland - Occupy the EGT Working Group - (503) 567-8694

Longview, WA, Feb. 11, 2012 - Members of the ILWU and the labor community named the Occupy Movement as key to the settlement reached Thursday between ILWU Local 21 and the Export Grain Terminal (EGT). The contract finally provides for the use of ILWU labor in the grain terminal at the Port of Longview. After staging the December 12 port shutdowns in solidarity with Local 21, the West Coast Occupy Movement planned coordinated action together with labor allies for a land and water blockade of the EGT ship in Longview, should it attempt to use scab labor to load. Occupys in states where EGT's parent company Bunge has its growth and operations were also planning actions against the company on the day of the arrival of the ship.

"This is a victory for Occupy in their involvement in forcing negotiations. Make no mistake - the solidarity and organization between the Occupy Movement and the Longshoremen won this contract," said Jack Mulcahy, ILWU officer with Local 8 in Portland, Oregon. "The mobilization of the Occupy Movement across the country, particularly in Oakland, Portland, Seattle, and Longview were a critical element in bringing EGT to the bargaining table and forcing a settlement with ILWU local 21."

"West Coast Occupys had already demonstrated their ability to stage such a blockade by shutting down ports along the West Coast on December 12th, as well as the Port of Oakland on November 2nd," said Anthony Leviege, ILWU Local 10 in Oakland. The Occupy Movement shut down ports in order to express solidarity with port truckers and Local 21, as well as responding to a nationally-coordinated eviction campaign against Occupy.

Negotiations progressed to the point where Longshore workers began loading the merchant vessel Full Sources on Tuesday. "When any company ruptures jurisdiction it is a threat to the entire union. The union jobs wouldn't be back in Longview if it weren't for Occupy. It's a win for the entire class of workers in the Occupy Movement in demonstrating their organizational skills," said Leviege.

"It is clear that the port shutdowns on November 2nd and December 12th, and the impending mobilization in Longview, is what made EGT come to the table," said Clarence Thomas, ILWU Local 10 Coastwide Caucus delegate. "When Governor Gregoire intervened a year ago nothing was settled - non-ILWU workers were still working in the port. It wasn't until rank and file and Occupy planned a mass convergence to blockade the ship that EGT suddenly had the impetus to negotiate.

"Labor can no longer win victories against the employers without the community," Thomas continued. "It must include a broad-based Movement. The strategy and tactics employed by the Occupy Movement in conjunction with rank and file ILWU members confirm that the past militant traditions of the ILWU are still effective against the employers today."

EGT itself made evident the company's concern about Occupy's role in the conflict in the January 27 settlement agreement: "The ILWU Entities shall issue a written notice to The Daily News and the general public, including the Occupy Movement, informing them of this settlement and urging them to cease and desist from any actions..."

"The Occupy Movement and rank-and-file unionists both within and outside of our ranks have forced the company to settle, but this is not over," said Jess Kincaid of Occupy Portland. "Occupy doesn't sign contracts. We have not entered into any agreements with EGT, nor do we intend to do so. EGT and its parent company Bunge bribe the government for military escorts, use slave labor in Brazil and systematically avoid contributing anything to our social safety net in the US or abroad. There is no ethic here beyond putting money back in the pocket of the 1% at the cost of working people and the sustainability of the earth."

"It was the brave action of members of Local 21 blocking the train tracks this past summer that inspired the solidarity of the Occupy Movement up and down the West Coast and around the country," said Paul Nipper of Occupy Longview. "It was not until Occupy joined together with Local 21 and its labor allies that the company returned to the table. Governor Gregoire did nothing but let EGT raid Longshore Jurisdiction until Occupy responded to the call for support."


14) Police Evict Occupy Newark Protesters
February 15, 2012

NEWARK - Authorities swept in shortly after midnight Wednesday and ended what appeared to be a relatively harmonious co-existence between the city of Newark and its occupiers.

At Military Park, the site of Occupy Newark, about two dozen police officers and fire fighters disassembled what was left of the movement's encampment and loaded much of into the back of a city truck: more than a dozen tents, a canopy, a sofa, pallets, blankets and other items.

Deputy Chief Tracy Glover of the Newark Police Department told protesters that if they did not have a permit that allowed them to be in the park after a 9 p.m. curfew, they had to leave immediately. By 1:30 a.m., most of the site had been removed. No arrests were made, although about a dozen protesters in the park taunted the officers as they worked.

"Carjackings are up 62 percent, but the tents are down," said Teacher Iovino, 43. At its height, Occupy Newark was a cluster of tents that included a kitchen and an information area. About 30 people stayed overnight at the encampment, most of which was set up in November, and 50 to 60 people would be there during the day, said Anthony Batalla, 20, who has been there since November.

The eviction marked a shift in the city's approach to the protesters. In November, the city's police chief agreed to waive a permit required to assemble in Military Park. Mayor Cory A. Booker brought them doughnuts and coffee. A municipal councilman stayed there overnight, said one protester, Ibraheem Awadallah, 27.

Last Tuesday, the city sent a letter to the encampment, said Cass Zang, 42, who has been coming there since November.

"It said that they've decided not to continue lifting the ban" on the curfew, Ms. Zang said, paraphrasing the note. "It said, 'Respectfully, we appreciate working together, but this is over.'"


15) Output Rises at U.S. Factories
February 15, 2012

Factories in the United States boosted output last month, and December ended up being their best month for growth in five years, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.

Manufacturing production increased 0.7 percent in January, and output soared 1.5 percent in December, according to an upward revision by the Fed. That was the biggest gain since December 2006.

Overall industrial production, which includes output by mines and utilities as well as factories, was unchanged in January. Industrial production was revised up in December to 1 percent, the biggest gain in a year.

Utility output fell 2.5 percent last month, the second straight sharp decline due to an unseasonably warm winter. That has allowed many Americans to cut back on heating their homes. Mining production also declined.

Factory output has risen 16.7 percent from its low point during the recession, in June 2009. It is still 7.1 percent below its December 2007 peak.

Two strong months of manufacturing growth are among the encouraging signs that show the economy could grow at a steady pace this year. The pickup in manufacturing coincides with five straight months of solid job growth, which has lowered the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent.

Several factors could weigh on growth this year. Gas prices are rising again. Europe's financial turmoil could weaken demand for U.S. exports. And another year of weak pay increases could force consumers to cut back on spending.

Still, many manufacturing companies are hiring. The government said factories added a net 50,000 workers in January, the most in a year. And manufacturers added a net 235,000 jobs in 2011, the biggest annual rise since 1997.

Another positive sign: The average workweek for manufacturing employees increased last month.

A key source of manufacturing strength has come from the auto industry, which is boosting output to meet growing demand. Car sales rose by the most in more than two years in January, after posting healthy sales gains in November and December.


16) 8 Young Afghans Killed in Strike, NATO Acknowledges
February 15, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan - NATO acknowledged on Wednesday that it killed eight young Afghans in an airstrike in eastern Afghanistan last week and vowed to try to help the isolated home village of those who were killed.

The airstrike on Feb. 8 involved a remote, mountainous area of Najrab district in Kapisa Province. Investigations by the Afghan government and NATO led to somewhat different conclusions about what had led to the bombings.

The Afghan government described those killed as civilians and children. NATO officers insisted that while those who had been killed were young men, perhaps even boys, they were armed and that based on the observations of soldiers on the ground and aircraft camera footage, they appeared to pose a threat to forces operating in the area. The divergent accounts leave open the question of whether this was a case of civilian casualties, but make clear that teenagers died.

Nonetheless, in announcing the results of its investigation into the deaths, NATO officers described it as a "very sad event" and expressed their "sincere condolences."

"We accept that eight young Afghans died that day," said Air Commodore Mike Wigston, who led the investigation team and is director of air operations for the NATO joint command here.

"The decision to bomb this group was made because they were seen as adult-sized and moving in a tactical fashion, and the commander was worried they were in a good position to attack" nearby NATO forces, Commodore Wigston said.

Local Afghans and NATO officers agreed that in the hours before the attack, NATO and Afghan forces were searching for weapons caches in the area, but then the versions diverge.

Afghan relatives of those who died and Mohammed Tahir Safi, an adviser to President Hamid Karzai and the leader of the Afghan investigation team, said that those killed were young boys who had taken their sheep and goats to graze outside the village. They were cold and gathered under a rock and lighted a small fire to warm themselves. That was the place where they were struck by bombs. Photographs of the dead shown by Mr. Safi at a news conference this week included some of badly bloodied young boys and a couple of young men who might have been older. The father of one of the boys who was killed said that his son was 12 and that two nephews who were killed were younger.

Brig. Gen. Lewis Boone, the NATO spokesman here, said that the site of the bombing was a boulder, but that NATO troops "observed with binoculars and other optical equipment" several groups of "adult sized" men leaving the village.

They "appeared to be carrying weapons and heading for nearby mountains," General Boone said. "They were moving in open terrain in a tactical fashion and clearly keeping a distance from each other."

"We saw no other people, livestock or buildings in the vicinity," he added.

"Their purposeful movements and the weapons they appeared to be carrying led the ground commander to believe they were an imminent threat to the persons in the valley."

An airstrike was called in and two bombs were dropped, the general said.

Several questions remain unanswered. It is unclear whether NATO pilots were able to see clearly the size of the people they were bombing in the camera footage, and it is also unclear what happened to the weapons the boys were believed to be carrying.

Commodore Wigston said NATO had sent the camera footage to a forensics lab.

"We have had conflicting statements on the ages," he said. "Our view is that initial assessment suggests they that they are closer to 15 to 16 with one older."

The bodies were buried almost immediately in keeping with Muslim tradition, so it was not possible to examine them, he said.

As for the weapons they were thought to be carrying, by the time the NATO assessment team arrived, there was little left after the bombing other than "some fragments" that might be consistent with weapons the youths would have had, Commodore Wigston said.

Nonetheless, both NATO officers said that Gen. John R. Allen, the NATO commander here, took the episode seriously and had visited the governor of Kapisa Province. General Boone and Commodore Wigston said that NATO was committed to helping improve the lives of the people in Gayawa, the youths' village, which has no school or clinic or even a road.

"I spoke to the elders and I saw for myself the conditions the people live in," Commodore Wigston said. "That is why we made our offer to make life better. A road to the outside world would be a very important part of that."


17) Working All Day for the I.R.S.
February 17, 2012

Mitt Romney is not alone. I thought Mr. Romney's 13.9 percent federal tax rate would be hard to beat. But among the 400 Americans with the highest adjusted gross incomes in 2008, 30 of them paid less than 10 percent and another 101 paid less than 15 percent. And these people earned, on average, more than 10 times Mr. Romney's $21.7 million - an average of $270.5 million each.

After I disclosed a few weeks ago that I pay 37 percent of my adjusted gross income and 74 percent of my taxable income in combined federal, state and local income and payroll taxes, I asked the Internal Revenue Service how that compares with other taxpayers. I never got a simple answer (and an I.R.S. spokesman said the agency could not discuss individual returns). But this week, the I.R.S. sent me reams of data, including analyses of returns from taxpayers reporting adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 and returns from the top 400 taxpayers. Some data were from 2009, but most went back to 2008. (The agency offered no explanation as to why it takes so many years to compile.) But the data help explain why many people are so angry about the tax code.

Relatively few taxpayers pay an enormous percentage of the total federal income tax, and most of them are people who work for a living and have adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 to $500,000, which is the sweet spot for tax revenue. They account for 20.2 percent of total returns but pay a whopping 44.9 percent of total tax. The average tax rate for this group ranges from 11.9 percent for those with less than $200,000 in adjusted gross income to 19.6 percent for those with $200,000 to $500,000. Above those income levels, the rate rises to close to 25 percent and then declines to 22.6 percent for taxpayers earning more than $10 million.

The I.R.S. doesn't break down the data for incomes above $10 million, but the results for the top 400 returns suggest that the rate continues to decline as incomes rise. The top 400 paid an average of $49 million, or 18.1 percent of their adjusted gross income, in federal tax - lower than taxpayers in the $200,000 to $500,000 bracket. They reported an average $14.1 million in state and local taxes, bringing their total income tax level to about 23 percent of adjusted gross income, far below my rate. And not one of them paid more than 35 percent of their adjusted gross income in federal tax.

I spoke this week to the investigative reporters Don Bartlett and Jim Steele, who are working on a sequel to their best-selling book "America: What Went Wrong," first published in 1992. They said that tax inequities have gotten worse since 1994, when they published "America: Who Really Pays the Taxes," and described the tax system as "out of control." Now, "The tax code has been so skewed against most people, with remarkable tax cuts for folks at the top, that the whole concept of fairness has gone out the window," Mr. Steele said. "There's enormous horizontal inequity, enormous," Mr. Bartlett added, pointing to disparate rates even among people in the same income brackets.

The budget that President Obama unveiled this week included some hot-button tax measures aimed at some of these inequities: capping deductions and raising taxes on people earning more than $1 million (the so-called Buffett Rule), scrapping the alternative minimum tax and raising the tax on dividend income and carried interest. The liberal Economic Policy Institute noted, "No budget is perfect," but applauded the president's stab at tax reform. "The need for the Buffett Rule," it said, "is largely driven by the preferential tax treatment of investment income over work income."

The I.R.S. data makes clear that the differing treatment of earned and unearned income accounts for most of the disparity between tax rates for the ultrawealthy and those who make much less. Salaries and wages accounted for only 8.8 percent of adjusted gross income for the top 400 taxpayers. Interest and dividends made up 16 percent and net capital gains accounted for nearly 57 percent. So on average, 73 percent of their income was unearned and taxed at favorable rates.

For people with incomes of more than $200,000, salaries and wages make up nearly 50 percent of their adjusted gross income. Interest income accounted for 4 percent and dividends were just under 5 percent. Capital gains were 17.3 percent. "The people who pay all the taxes are the same people who are working," Mr. Bartlett said. "If you're paying a huge amount of tax, then you're working."

While proponents of lower rates for capital gains have argued that they stimulate capital investment, thereby generating jobs and economic growth (while others dispute these claims), many people wrote me to complain that by the same logic, higher rates on earned income discourage people from working.

Teresa Allen-Piccolo told me that she and her husband run a small business in California that manufactures electronic monitoring systems for the environment. "We represent what almost every politician purports to love - self made, no loans, no government assistance, just hard work," she wrote. "After decades of hard, virtually unpaid work, in 2009 and 2010 the business finally picked up. Our total taxes went from $17,000 to $106,000 in 2010 - about half of our taxable income! What can one say? Were it not that we are committed to environmental protection and giving employment, we would be much better off shutting down the business and just doing some consulting work on the side."

Jeff Hoopes noted that as a low-paid Ph.D. candidate in accounting at the University of Michigan, his average tax rate is low, but his marginal rate reaches 35 percent because his earned income credit is reduced when he makes extra money from "house-sitting, selling books and tutoring." He went on: "For providing incentives to work, the marginal rate is what counts. So while my average rate suggests that I am lightly taxed (perhaps unfair to others who pay more), my marginal rate suggests I have lesser incentives to work, as I take home less than 65 percent of what I earn. It is the worst of both worlds."

Mr. Obama's proposal to raise taxes on dividends attacks just one aspect of the disparity between the ultrarich and others, but it is significant. The top 400 taxpayers reported average dividend income of $25 million in 2008, which accounted for 4.55 percent of total dividend income. That such a tiny sliver of the population would account for nearly one-twentieth of total dividend income "drives me crazy," Mr. Steele said. "Although roughly 50 percent of Americans own stocks or mutual funds, dividends go overwhelmingly to the top 2 percent of the taxpayers. Those are the people who rake in the dividends. Why should that money be taxed at a lower rate?"

Like many defenders of the lower rate, Curtis Dubay, senior policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, argues that "the dividends tax is a double tax, since the corporate income that dividends come from are already taxed 35 percent at the business level." The effective rate on dividends, Mr. Dubay maintained, "would stand at more than 63 percent if President Obama's misguided policy became law. This would significantly curtail investment and slow economic growth."

"What difference does that make?" Mr. Steele countered. "It's still income to the recipient. What matters is what's in your pocket in the end, after you've paid your taxes."

The returns of the top 400 also show the failure of the alternative minimum tax to perform its original function, which was to make sure that those at the top pay a fair share of taxes. The A.M.T. captured an average of $3.2 million in added tax for the top 400 taxpayers, just over 6 percent of their total average tax. (By comparison, the A.M.T. bolstered my tax liability by 40 percent.) Their total A.M.T. payments amounted to just 1.77 percent of the $25.6 billion in A.M.T. payments collected in 2008. Taxpayers reporting adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 paid $23.2 billion, or over 90 percent of the total.

Predictably, the president's proposals drew hostile reactions this week from many conservatives. The Heritage Foundation, which advocates a flat tax and insists that any tax reform be revenue-neutral, put on a full-court press. "The president's much-touted Buffett tax is not a fleshed-out policy in the budget but is paid lip service in a half-hearted outline for tax reform," Mr. Dubay said. "The still-frail economy cannot withstand the barrage of tax hikes the president calls for."

I've never minded paying my taxes. I've always been proud of it. But when people making hundreds of millions a year are paying a substantially lower rate than I and the many people who wrote me do, something has gone haywire.


18) Palestinian's Trial Shines Light on Military Justice
February 18, 2012

NABI SALEH, West Bank - A year ago, Islam Dar Ayyoub was a sociable ninth grader and a good student, according to his father, Saleh, a Palestinian laborer in this small village near Ramallah.

Then, one night in January 2011, about 20 Israeli soldiers surrounded the dilapidated Dar Ayyoub home and pounded vigorously on the door. Islam, who was 14 at the time, said he thought they had come for his older brother. Instead, they had come for him. He was blindfolded, handcuffed and whisked away in a jeep.

From that moment, Islam's childhood was over. Catapulted into the Israeli military justice system, an arm of Israel's 44-year-old occupation of the West Bank, Islam became embroiled in a legal process as challenging and perplexing as the world in which he has grown up. The young man was interrogated and pressed to inform on his relatives, neighbors and friends.

The military justice system that overwhelmed Islam has come under increasing scrutiny for its often harsh, unforgiving methods. One Palestinian prisoner has been hospitalized because of a hunger strike in protest against being detained for months without trial. Human rights organizations have recently focused their criticism on the treatment of Palestinian minors, like Islam.

Now, as a grass-roots leader from Nabi Saleh stands trial, having been incriminated by Islam, troubling questions are being raised about these methods of the occupation.

It is the intimate nature of Islam's predicament that makes this trial especially wrenching for the young man, his family and his community. Most of Nabi Saleh's 500 residents belong to the same extended family. The leader on trial, Bassem Tamimi, 44, was Islam's next-door neighbor. Islam was close friends with Mr. Tamimi's son, Waed, a classmate. And Mr. Tamimi's wife is a cousin of Islam's mother.

"This case is legally flawed and morally tainted," said Gaby Lasky, Islam's Israeli lawyer. Islam is traumatized, she said, "not only because of what happened to him, but also what happened to others."

After he was pulled from his home at night, Islam was taken to a nearby army base where, his lawyer said, he was left out in the cold for hours. In the morning, he was taken to the Israeli police for interrogation. Accused of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers inside the village, he was encouraged to identify other youths and the adult organizers of weekly protests here.

In a police videotape of Islam's five-hour interrogation, the teenager is at times visibly exhausted. Alone and denied access to a lawyer for most of the period, he was partially cautioned three times about his rights but was never told directly that he had the right to remain silent.

Instead, the chief interrogator instructed him, "We want only the truth. You must tell everything that happened."

The young man, who seemed eager to please his interrogators, described how village youths were organized into nine "brigades," each assigned tasks like throwing stones, blocking roads and hurling unexploded tear-gas canisters back at the soldiers.

Soon, the arrests followed.

Mr. Tamimi was taken last March and is being held at the Ofer military prison. The charges against him include organizing unauthorized processions, solicitation to stone throwing and incitement to violence. Mr. Tamimi has proudly acknowledged that he organized what he called peaceful protests but denied ever having told anyone to throw stones.

Mr. Tamimi's wife, Nariman, attended a recent court hearing with Waed.

Asked about Islam, her voice softened. "He is our neighbor," she said. "The interrogation was very difficult. He was afraid. He is just a child."

Another organizer that Islam identified for the authorities, Naji Tamimi, 49, spent a year in jail and is about to be released.

Islam also informed on Mu'tasim Khalil Tamimi, who was then 15, identifying him as a youth ringleader. Mu'tasim subsequently spent six months in jail; he, too, identified organizers of the protests.

Bassem Tamimi's lawyer, Labib Habib, said that the testimony of the two minors formed "the essence of the case" against his client. The defense lawyers contend that the terms of the minors' arrests and interrogations violated their rights, and that their testimony should be dismissed.

But an official in the office of Israel's Military Advocate General, who was authorized to speak on the condition of anonymity, said the Nabi Saleh case was "a classic one of orchestrated riots that exploit children."

The official denied that the case against Mr. Tamimi rested largely on Islam's testimony, saying there were other witnesses.

Under the Israeli youth law, Islam's treatment would be deemed illegal. Minors are generally allowed to have a parent or other relative present during interrogation, and there are strict rules about nighttime interrogations and other protections.

Most of these protections do not exist in the military system, though military appellate court judges have stated that the spirit of the youth law should apply whenever possible to Palestinians.

After Israel conquered the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war, it established military courts independent of the army command. They draw on Jordanian law, on the laws from the period of British rule and on a plethora of military orders issued over the past four decades.

The Israeli official said that the military was striving to close gaps between the two systems, but that the Israeli youth law could not be put into full effect in the West Bank because of the difficult conditions. Israel recently raised the age of majority for Palestinians to 18 from 16, and it established the juvenile military court in 2009. But nighttime military operations were the only way to arrest Palestinian suspects, the official said, because summonses were routinely ignored and daytime arrests could set off confrontations.

Islam's arrest came as part of a crackdown in Nabi Saleh. A few nights earlier, soldiers had raided the Dar Ayyoub home and other houses, photographing and taking details of all the men and boys. Days after Islam was taken, his younger brother, Karim, then 11, was seized by soldiers and held for hours at a police station on suspicion of throwing stones. Last month, during pretrial proceedings in the case against Islam, a juvenile military court judge acknowledged serious flaws in the interrogation but ruled his testimony admissible.

Sarit Michaeli of B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, said that the youth judge could have taken a stand but had "failed this particular minor, and all the others."

Islam spent two and a half months in prison before he was released to house arrest. Since September, he has been allowed out to go to school, which he now loathes. His father says he stays awake all night watching television, fearing that the soldiers will return.

In an interview at his home this month, Islam said he knew his rights, having once attended a workshop on interrogations in the village. But he said that he was told by an officer beforehand that rights would not help him. "I thought that if I spoke, they would release me," he said.

Most of the villagers have shown understanding. Sometimes friends stop by for an hour or two. Waed is not among them.


19) For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage
February 17, 2012

LORAIN, Ohio - It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.

Among mothers of all ages, a majority - 59 percent in 2009 - are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women - nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 - is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.

One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

"Marriage has become a luxury good," said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

The shift is affecting children's lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.

The forces rearranging the family are as diverse as globalization and the pill. Liberal analysts argue that shrinking paychecks have thinned the ranks of marriageable men, while conservatives often say that the sexual revolution reduced the incentive to wed and that safety net programs discourage marriage.

Here in Lorain, a blue-collar town west of Cleveland where the decline of the married two-parent family has been especially steep, dozens of interviews with young parents suggest that both sides have a point.

Over the past generation, Lorain lost most of two steel mills, a shipyard and a Ford factory, diminishing the supply of jobs that let blue-collar workers raise middle-class families. More women went to work, making marriage less of a financial necessity for them. Living together became routine, and single motherhood lost the stigma that once sent couples rushing to the altar. Women here often describe marriage as a sign of having arrived rather than a way to get there.

Meanwhile, children happen.

Amber Strader, 27, was in an on-and-off relationship with a clerk at Sears a few years ago when she found herself pregnant. A former nursing student who now tends bar, Ms. Strader said her boyfriend was so dependent that she had to buy his cigarettes. Marrying him never entered her mind. "It was like living with another kid," she said.

When a second child, with a new boyfriend, followed three years later - her birth control failed, she said - her boyfriend, a part-time house painter, was reluctant to wed.

Ms. Strader likes the idea of marriage; she keeps her parents' wedding photo on her kitchen wall and says her boyfriend is a good father. But for now marriage is beyond her reach.

"I'd like to do it, but I just don't see it happening right now," she said. "Most of my friends say it's just a piece of paper, and it doesn't work out anyway."

The recent rise in single motherhood has set off few alarms, unlike in past eras. When Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a top Labor Department official and later a United States senator from New York, reported in 1965 that a quarter of black children were born outside marriage - and warned of a "tangle of pathology" - he set off a bitter debate.

By the mid-1990s, such figures looked quaint: a third of Americans were born outside marriage. Congress, largely blaming welfare, imposed tough restrictions. Now the figure is 41 percent - and 53 percent for children born to women under 30, according to Child Trends, which analyzed 2009 data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Still, the issue received little attention until the publication last month of "Coming Apart," a book by Charles Murray, a longtime critic of non-marital births.

Large racial differences remain: 73 percent of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites. And educational differences are growing. About 92 percent of college-educated women are married when they give birth, compared with 62 percent of women with some post-secondary schooling and 43 percent of women with a high school diploma or less, according to Child Trends.

Almost all of the rise in nonmarital births has occurred among couples living together. While in some countries such relationships endure at rates that resemble marriages, in the United States they are more than twice as likely to dissolve than marriages. In a summary of research, Pamela Smock and Fiona Rose Greenland, both of the University of Michigan, reported that two-thirds of couples living together split up by the time their child turned 10.

In Lorain as elsewhere, explanations for marital decline start with home economics: men are worth less than they used to be. Among men with some college but no degrees, earnings have fallen 8 percent in the past 30 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the earnings of their female counterparts have risen by 8 percent.

"Women used to rely on men, but we don't need to anymore," said Teresa Fragoso, 25, a single mother in Lorain. "We support ourselves. We support our kids."

Fifty years ago, researchers have found, as many as a third of American marriages were precipitated by a pregnancy, with couples marrying to maintain respectability. Ms. Strader's mother was among them.

Today, neither of Ms. Strader's pregnancies left her thinking she should marry to avoid stigma. Like other women interviewed here, she described her children as largely unplanned, a byproduct of uncommitted relationships.

Some unwed mothers cite the failures of their parents' marriages as reasons to wait. Brittany Kidd was 13 when her father ran off with one of her mother's friends, plunging her mother into depression and leaving the family financially unstable.

"Our family life was pretty perfect: a nice house, two cars, a dog and a cat," she said. "That stability just got knocked out like a window; it shattered."

Ms. Kidd, 21, said she could not imagine marrying her son's father, even though she loves him. "I don't want to wind up like my mom," she said.

Others noted that if they married, their official household income would rise, which could cost them government benefits like food stamps and child care. W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, said other government policies, like no-fault divorce, signaled that "marriage is not as fundamental to society" as it once was.

Even as many Americans withdraw from marriage, researchers say, they expect more from it: emotional fulfillment as opposed merely to practical support. "Family life is no longer about playing the social role of father or husband or wife, it's more about individual satisfaction and self-development," said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

Money helps explain why well-educated Americans still marry at high rates: they can offer each other more financial support, and hire others to do chores that prompt conflict. But some researchers argue that educated men have also been quicker than their blue-collar peers to give women equal authority. "They are more willing to play the partner role," said Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist.

Reviewing the academic literature, Susan L. Brown of Bowling Green State University recently found that children born to married couples, on average, "experience better education, social, cognitive and behavioral outcomes."

Lisa Mercado, an unmarried mother in Lorain, would not be surprised by that. Between nursing classes and an all-night job at a gas station, she rarely sees her 6-year-old daughter, who is left with a rotating cast of relatives. The girl's father has other children and rarely lends a hand.

"I want to do things with her, but I end up falling asleep," Ms. Mercado said.


20) Charges Are Dropped for 14 Demonstrators
February 17, 2012

Judge Neil Ross's courtroom had just come to order on Friday morning, and the first defendant of the day stood at a wooden table facing the bench.

A prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney's office told the judge that the man, Casey Diebold, had been among about 700 people who walked onto the Brooklyn Bridge roadway on Oct. 1 as part of an Occupy Wall Street protest.

Then the prosecutor, Michele Bayer, told Judge Ross that the district attorney's office wanted to dismiss the summons issued to Mr. Diebold.

"We cannot prove this defendant's specific conduct or location on the bridge beyond a reasonable doubt," Ms. Bayer said. "Therefore, the people are moving to dismiss this case."

Mr. Diebold shook the hand of his lawyer, Paul Keefe, and left the building a free man.

This routine was repeated throughout the day, as Ms. Bayer asked the judge to dismiss cases against 13 other defendants as well. The judge acceded to all requests, ordering that arrest records for those defendants be sealed.

The march onto the Brooklyn Bridge and the resulting arrests marked one of the high-profile moments of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which had begun two weeks earlier. While many in the crowd that took to the roadway said later they felt as if officers had escorted them there, police officials vehemently disagreed and said the marchers had been warned not to proceed.

As the bridge cases have moved through the legal system, some defendants have pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and many have accepted an agreement whereby their charges will be dismissed if they are not arrested in the next six months.

But the district attorney's office has also asked for outright dismissals. So far, 174 of the 686 cases in which charges were brought have resulted in dismissals. The percentage of dismissals is higher among people who were issued summonses, in a process akin to receiving a traffic ticket, compared with those who were issued desk appearance tickets, which defense lawyers said typically involved fingerprinting and photographing the recipient.

In the instances in which summonses were issued, there have been 155 dismissals out of 438 cases. Of the remaining cases, 250 defendants agreed to conditional dismissals and 33 cases have not yet been resolved.

Officials at the district attorney's office said that prosecutors had individually investigated the case of every person arrested on the bridge and moved to dismiss those that were not supported by the available evidence. In some cases, officials said, police officers who did not have an arrest photograph of a defendant to refresh their recollections were unable to recognize those they had arrested. Officials said that at times, officers had reviewed police videotapes to help them recognize defendants.


21) Drones Set Sights on U.S. Skies
February 17, 2012

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. - Daniel Gárate's career came crashing to earth a few weeks ago. That's when the Los Angeles Police Department warned local real estate agents not to hire photographers like Mr. Gárate, who was helping sell luxury property by using a drone to shoot sumptuous aerial movies. Flying drones for commercial purposes, the police said, violated federal aviation rules.

"I was paying the bills with this," said Mr. Gárate, who recently gave an unpaid demonstration of his drone in this Southern California suburb.

His career will soon get back on track. A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors - from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films. Local police and emergency services will also be freer to send up their own drones.

But while businesses, and drone manufacturers especially, are celebrating the opening of the skies to these unmanned aerial vehicles, the law raises new worries about how much detail the drones will capture about lives down below - and what will be done with that information. Safety concerns like midair collisions and property damage on the ground are also an issue.

American courts have generally permitted surveillance of private property from public airspace. But scholars of privacy law expect that the likely proliferation of drones will force Americans to re-examine how much surveillance they are comfortable with.

"As privacy law stands today, you don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy while out in public, nor almost anywhere visible from a public vantage," said Ryan Calo, director of privacy and robotics at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University. "I don't think this doctrine makes sense, and I think the widespread availability of drones will drive home why to lawmakers, courts and the public."

Some questions likely to come up: Can a drone flying over a house pick up heat from a lamp used to grow marijuana inside, or take pictures from outside someone's third-floor fire escape? Can images taken from a drone be sold to a third party, and how long can they be kept?

Drone proponents say the privacy concerns are overblown. Randy McDaniel, chief deputy of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department in Conroe, Tex., near Houston, whose agency bought a drone to use for various law enforcement operations, dismissed worries about surveillance, saying everyone everywhere can be photographed with cellphone cameras anyway. "We don't spy on people," he said. "We worry about criminal elements."

Still, the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups are calling for new protections against what the A.C.L.U. has said could be "routine aerial surveillance of American life."

Under the new law, within 90 days, the F.A.A. must allow police and first responders to fly drones under 4.4 pounds, as long as they keep them under an altitude of 400 feet and meet other requirements. The agency must also allow for "the safe integration" of all kinds of drones into American airspace, including those for commercial uses, by Sept. 30, 2015. And it must come up with a plan for certifying operators and handling airspace safety issues, among other rules.

The new law, part of a broader financing bill for the F.A.A., came after intense lobbying by drone makers and potential customers.

The agency probably will not be making privacy rules for drones. Although federal law until now had prohibited drones except for recreational use or for some waiver-specific law enforcement purposes, the agency has issued only warnings, never penalties, for unauthorized uses, a spokeswoman said. The agency was reviewing the law's language, the spokeswoman said.

For drone makers, the change in the law comes at a particularly good time. With the winding-down of the war in Afghanistan, where drones have been used to gather intelligence and fire missiles, these manufacturers have been awaiting lucrative new opportunities at home. The market for drones is valued at $5.9 billion and is expected to double in the next decade, according to industry figures. Drones can cost millions of dollars for the most sophisticated varieties to as little as $300 for one that can be piloted from an iPhone.

"We see a huge potential market," said Ben Gielow of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a drone maker trade group.

For Patrick Egan, who represents small businesses and others in his work for the Remote Control Aerial Photography Association in Sacramento, the new law also can't come fast enough. Until 2007, when the federal agency began warning against nonrecreational use of drones, he made up to $2,000 an hour using a drone to photograph crops for farmers, helping them spot irrigation leaks. "I've got organic farmers screaming for me to come out," he said.

The Montgomery County Sheriff's Department in Texas bought its 50-pound drone in October from Vanguard Defense Industries, a company founded by Michael Buscher, who built drones for the army, and then sold them to an oil company whose ships were threatened by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The company custom-built the drone, which takes pictures by day and senses heat sources at night. It cost $300,000, a fraction of the cost of a helicopter.

Mr. McDaniel said his SWAT team could use it for reconnaissance, or to manage road traffic after a big accident. He said he regretted that he didn't have it a few months ago, to search for a missing person in a densely wooded area.

Mr. Buscher, meanwhile, said he was negotiating with several police agencies. "There is tremendous potential," he said. "We see agencies dipping their toes."

The possibilities for drones appear limitless. Last year, Cy Brown of Bunkie, La., began hunting feral pigs at night by outfitting a model airplane with a heat-sensing camera that soared around his brother's rice farm, feeding live aerial images of the pigs to Mr. Brown on the ground. Mr. Brown relayed the pigs' locations by radio to a friend with a shotgun.

He calls his plane the Dehogaflier, and says it saves him time wandering in the muck looking for skittish pigs. "Now you can know in 15 minutes if it's worth going out," said Mr. Brown, an electrical engineer.

Earlier this month, in Woodland Hills, Mr. Gárate, the photographer, demonstrated his drone by flicking a hand-held joystick and sending the $5,000 machine hovering high above a tennis court. A camera beneath the drone recorded lush, high-definition video of the surrounding property.

Bill Kerbox, a real estate agent in Malibu who hired Mr. Gárate for several shoots before the L.A.P.D. crackdown, said that aerial video had helped him stand out from his competitors, and that the loss of it had been painful.

Mr. Gárate, for now, plans to work mainly in his native Peru, where he has used his drone to shoot commercials for banks. He said he was approached by paparazzi last year about filming the reality television star Kim Kardashian's wedding using a drone, but turned down the offer. "Maybe the F.A.A. should give a driver's license for this, with a flight test," he said. "Do a background check to make sure I'm not a terrorist."


22) Lights, Camera, Drones!
February 18, 2012, 9:00 am

No group is likely to be more thrilled by the opening of the skies to commercial uses of drones than cinematographers.

As Somini Sengupta and I wrote in an article in Saturday's Times, the new funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration contained language that requires the agency to develop a plan for allowing a wide variety of drones - also known as unmanned aerial vehicles - in United States airspace by September 2015. Since 2007, the F.A.A. has prohibited the commercial use of drones, frustrating a broad array of companies and entrepreneurs - from photographers of high-end real estate to law-enforcement agencies. Some people, nonetheless, disobeyed that rule or said they had never heard of it.

Cinematographers were among the people most disappointed by the old F.A.A. rule. They said drones could help them get a lot of different shots that would normally require more expensive or complicated pieces of equipment, including dollies for tracking shots, Steadicams, cranes and traditional piloted helicopters. A skilled drone pilot could begin filming indoors, then send the bird out a window and soaring into the sky for an aerial view, providing a continuous shot that would be very difficult to get other ways.

Russell Freeman, an aerial cinematographer with Mi6 Films in Southern California, was using remote-controlled helicopters to shoot music videos, scenes for reality television shows and surf competitions. But then he said he was contacted by the F.A.A. last year and told to stop flying his drone. He's still using unmanned helicopters to shoot commercials and television shows outside the United States, but he says many of his competitors are ignoring the ban.

"Unfortunately there are hundreds of other companies still flying every day, and we're not," he said. "They went underground."

Some movie industry organizations also started discouraging filmmakers from using drones last year because of the F.A.A. rule. Last May, the California Film Commission warned moviemakers that it would no longer issue permits to use drones for shooting films on beaches, state parks and other state properties. Last year, Film L.A., an organization that handles film permitting in Los Angeles, issued a similar warning to productions in that city.

Tabb Firchau, a drone cinematographer for Free Fly Cinema in Seattle, said he stopped working for hire in the United States because of the F.A.A. restrictions. Since then, he has been shooting commercials and films in Dubai, New Zealand and other countries.

"There's an entire industry sitting on the fringes, just waiting," Mr. Firchau said.