Saturday, March 03, 2012




Free-Speech Argument in Appeal of Disbarred Lawyer's Sentence
February 29, 2012

Throughout her long career, the disbarred lawyer Lynne F. Stewart has rarely minced words or stood mute. But her propensity for speaking her mind is now at the crux of an appeal of her 10-year sentence in federal prison.

Ms. Stewart, known for defending unpopular clients and causes, was convicted in 2005 on five counts of providing material aid to terrorism and of lying to the government. A jury found that she had broken the rules to help her client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, communicate with his followers in the Islamic Group, an Egyptian organization with a history of terrorist violence.

Judge John G. Koeltl of Federal District Court in Manhattan originally sentenced Ms. Stewart to 28 months in prison. But federal prosecutors appealed and pushed for a new sentence, claiming that Ms. Stewart had made public statements indicating a lack of remorse; she was then resentenced to 10 years in prison.

"One of the most cherished policies of this nation is that everybody should be allowed to speak freely," a lawyer for Ms. Stewart, Herald Price Fahringer, told a three-judge panel in United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Wednesday morning. "This case puts that principle to a very great test."

Mr. Fahringer said it had been "highly hazardous" for Judge Koeltl to consider Ms. Stewart's statements outside of court in his sentencing decision.

But he was interrupted by Judge Robert D. Sack, who said, "I'm not sure that freedom of speech means absolute immunity from the consequences of what you say."

A few minutes later, another judge, John M. Walker Jr., asked, "How else do you get a window into the character of the defendant?"

The first of Ms. Stewart's comments that are at issue came shortly after she received the 28-month sentence in 2006. Appearing before a throng of supporters in front of a courthouse in Lower Manhattan, she called the sentence "fair and right," but then declared, "I can do that standing on my head."

A few days later, while appearing on the radio show "Democracy Now," Ms. Stewart was asked by a reporter, Amy Goodman, if she regretted her conduct, and she replied, "I might handle it a little differently, but I would do it again."

The appeals panel sent the case back to Judge Koeltl for resentencing, citing the comments as well as assertions by federal prosecutors that Ms. Stewart had committed perjury and abused her position as a lawyer.

In 2010, Judge Koeltl sentenced Ms. Stewart to 10 years in prison, ruling that she had lied and abused her position and writing that her statements indicated she viewed her 28-month sentence as trivial and that the sentence, therefore, did not "provide adequate deterrence."

Ms. Stewart's lawyers argued that her reference to standing on her head was simply an expression of relief. And, they added, when she used the phrase "I would do it again," she meant only that she would again represent Mr. Abdel Rahman, who was convicted in 1995 of plotting to blow up buildings and tunnels in New York City.

But prosecutors wrote in a brief that Judge Koeltl had interpreted Ms. Stewart's comments accurately, adding that he had "observed a defiant and energized Stewart lecturing the government about its purported overreaching and mocking the sentence imposed."

WBAI newscast (quotes Cliff Connor, Barbara Mutnick and Carole Seligman) it's the first item on the newscast:

Lynne Stewart Speaks from Carswell Medical Prison
February 29, 2012

Prevented from attending her own court appeal Lynne Stewart prepared this message for her friends, supporters and comrades in attendance:

My dear friends, supporters, comrades!

My purpose here is to rally all of us to the continuation of struggle, of resistance. I am committed to all the unfinished freedom business that still confronts us-much more difficult and contentious than supporting me. I'm easy-the righteousness of my situation, the extreme overreaching of the government and the obvious effects on the way in which lawyers and particularly movement lawyers carry out their obligations to their clients. Our issues-free speech from the courthouse steps, which, we assumed, was and is, included in the First Amendment. Our repugnancy at the changing of the ground rules after the game is afoot when the higher court directs the lower court Judge to increase the sentence and he complies five-times over.

We are demanding that the Court acknowledge the wrongfulness of my ten-year sentence as it is based on a foundation of sand. Of course, we also know that Courts are capable of creating rock out of sand just as they can create "persons" out of corporations! With that understanding, while hoping for the best, we need to commit ourselves to all the ongoing issues-Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks; the obscene vaudevillian charade of democracy that is the current presidential election; the cause of our political prisoners, Leonard. Mumia, Sundiata, Jaan, Brianna, Dr. Dhafir and all the prisoners on death row and those being tortured and killed worldwide and in solitary confinement; The right to choose for women steadily being eroded by elderly men interested in controlling younger women. You know the causes, we fight every day in every way and we are committed. We are not sunshine soldiers or summer patriots. The misery we fight against is caused by a super-terror, the USA one percent, intent on keeping people mentally subjugated by convincing them that they need to surrender in fear to the government.

I believe in fighting back-it's liberating, and you meet the finest people, who have also enlisted. A movement has to be a living, growing organism dedicated to change that "moves!" We will move and we will reclaim our beloved country from those who would blind and subjugate our people. Onward ever-Backward Never!

Lynne Stewart #53504-054
Unit 2N, Federal Medical Center, Carswell
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127
Write to Lynne Stewart Defense Committee at:
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
1070 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York 11216
For further information: 718-789-0558 or 917-853-9759


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




GI Resistance mailing / pizza party
Tuesday, March 6, 5pm-10pm
At 55 Santa Clara Ave, Oakland, California
(near 580 and Harrison / one mile from MacArthur BART)

I hope you'll come on down to help Courage to Resist send out our tri-annual newsletter on Tuesday evening, March 6th in Oakland. We'll be highlighting the campaign to free accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Army PFC Bradley Manning, and along with our fund appeal to supporters, which we'll be sending around the world.

It is a great way to help out and learn more about the campaign to free Bradley and/or our work in support of all GI war resisters.

Do you have any free time to help any day prior to March 6th? If so, we can put you to work in helping us get a much need head start of the mailing process.

Call 510-488-3559, or email courage [at], for more info--or just drop by next Tuesday.


Atomic Mom at the San Francisco Public Library
Thursday, March 8th @ 12pm at the Koret Auditorium at 100 Larkin Street
Media Contact:
M.T. Silvia

Atomic Mom, an award-winning feature length documentary from M.T. Silvia, will screen on Thursday, March 8th @ 12pm at the Koret Auditorium at 100 Larkin Street as part of the Thursdays at Noon film series in San Francisco, CA.

Atomic Mom weaves an intimate portrait of a complex mother-daughter relationship within an obscure - but important - moment in American history.

As the only female scientist present during atomic detonations in the Nevada desert, Pauline Silvia, the filmmaker's mother, undergoes a crisis of conscience. After a long silence and prompted by her daughter, she finally reveals grim secrets of working in the U.S. atomic testing program.

In our present moment of Wikileaks, Pauline is a similar whistle-blower having been cowed by the silencing machine of the US military for decades. In an attempt to reconcile with her own mother's past, her daughter, filmmaker M.T. Silvia, meets Emiko Okada, a Hiroshima survivor trying to reconcile her own history in Japan. The film follows these survivors, each on a different end of atomic warfare, as they "meet" through the filmmaking process, and as they, with startling honestly, attempt to understand the other.

With the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the footage of the devastation is hauntingly familiar to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As Japan experiences its second nuclear crisis, Atomic Mom illustrates how we are all downwind of this story.

Atomic Mom invites viewers to confront American nuclear history in a completely new way and will inspire dialogue about human rights, personal responsibility, and the possibility - and hope - of peace.

More info at

M.T. Silvia is an independent filmmaker. Her first documentary Picardy Drive (2002, Documentary, 57min) aired on KQED's ImageMaker series, FreeSpeechTV and airs yearly during the holidays on Oakland's KTOP. She has worked professionally in the film industry for over twenty years at both Skywalker Sound and Pixar Animation Studios. Among many mainstream film and CD credits, she has also worked on several independent films.


Happy Birthday Jamie Dimon: A National Call to Action.

Public Event for Occupy Atlanta ·

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

12:00am until 11:30pm

At a Chase Bank near you.

Invite everyone on your friends list. Lets give him a birthday party
he'll never forget.

We, Occupy Atlanta and the occupiers of Glen Iris, are asking everyone
locally and nationally to take action in Solidarity with us as we
fight Chase Bank. Since this bank is a behemoth, we cannot defeat it
only in Atlanta, we need to bring the fight everywhere. We are calling
a day of action against Chase on Tuesday, March 13, 2012, to demand a
moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. March 13th is the birthday
of Jamie Dimon, the CEO of Chase Bank.

JPMorgan Chase, doing business as Chase Bank, through a series of
recent mergers and acquisitions has become the largest banking
institution in the United States. This expansion has been fueled to a
great degree by its extensive investment in the two main subprime
mortgage originators, not to mention nearly $25 billion in bailout
funds that rewarded the bank for its criminal swindling of millions of
American families.

A spotlight has been shined on the nefarious deeds of Chase and other
big banks since the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The time
has come to take a step further in the struggle. The rich and their
mouthpieces roar with outrage at any criticism of those responsible
for the economic crisis. Throwing millions of working families out of
their homes - is this not class warfare against the 99%? We need to
strike back with a show of resistance nationwide.

Chase, the largest bank in America, is an ideal target to focus such a
campaign. The Pittman family here in Atlanta has boldly defied
intimidation and threats from Chase Bank, as well as the police, in
defending their home side by side with hundreds of Occupiers and
supporters. Through a unified display of action across the country, by
shutting down a Chase Bank branch in your neighborhood, we can
demonstrate the power of the people. Join in the national effort
against the biggest bank in America: we are taking back our homes and
building a future worth fighting for.

On March 13th, demand a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions!

The Occupiers of Glen Iris and Take Back the Block

Contact Us

Twitter: @OccupyGlenIris


Facebook: Occupy Glen Iris


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.


Attend the 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 one percent Against the 99 percent 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 one percent at home and abroad, impose austerity--often by the use of drones, armies, and the police--on the 99 percent 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 Castro 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.

• Lamis Deek is a Palestinian organizer and attorney who is the chair of Al Awda NY

• 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

• Colonel 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

For more information:
United National Antiwar Coalition
(518) 227-6947
P.O. Box 123, Delmar, NY 12054

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]



Channel 2 investigation highlights racial discrepancies in marijuana arrests


This is the keynote address by Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan, at "Let Freedom Ring! Michigan's P.A. 4 Emergency Manager Act Forum" in East Lansing on Saturday, February 18, 2012. The event was organized by the Edgewood United Church of Christ Justice and Peace Task Force and recorded by the Peace Education Center. Jim Anderson of Edgewood United Church introduces Rev. Pinkney.

From: Pinkney Freddie
To: rev pinkney
Sent: Monday, February 27, 2012 5:21 PM
Subject: Re: Michigan Emergency Manager act - speech by Pinkney

Subject: Michigan Emergency Manager act - speech by Pinkney

please forward widely

A seminar on PA4, the Emergency Manager act, was held last Saturday
in East Lansing. It was an afternoon panel discussion which began with
keynote speaker Rev. Edward Pinkney, resident of the first Michigan
town to feel the unconstitutional brunt of this new law - Benton Harbor.
This is his speech.
Rev. Edward Pinkney 269-925-0001

Occupy The PGA
May 23-27 (big day: Sat. May 26) - Benton Harbor, Michigan
Demonstrate in protest of land stolen by Whirlpool Corporation Twitter HashTag #OccupyThePGA Facebook Event Page


The Invisible American Workforce


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


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.


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


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




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




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




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!


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) Authorities in London Dismantle St. Paul's Occupy Camp
February 28, 2012

2) Japan Weighed Evacuating Tokyo in Nuclear Crisis
February 27, 2012

3) Kelly Defends Surveillance of Muslims
February 27, 2012

4) Police Monitoring and a Climate of Fear
February 27, 2012

5) The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor
By Mike Elk and Bob Sloan
August 1, 2011

6) As Bank Profits Plunge, Wall Street Bonuses Fall Modestly
February 29, 2012, 8:48 am

7) Israeli Troops Raid Palestinian TV Stations
February 29, 2012

8) Arrests and Protests With New Occupy Wall St. Push
February 29, 2012, 11:53 am

9) Outlawing dissent: Rahm Emanuel's new regime
By Bernard Harcourt, Thursday 19 January 2012 17.57 EST

10) 'Trespass Bill' Would Violate Peaceful Assembly Rights
New bill passed by Congress makes it a felony to protest or assemble nearby protected government officials
by John Glaser, February 28, 2012

11) Obama's 2013 Budget Slashes Aid for Working Families
"'The federal government is reduced to picking the pockets of the poorest of the poor. It is Scrooge-like,' Crowley said."
By Matthew Cardinale
February 29, 2012

12) Spain: Protesting Classes Without Heat
February 29, 2012

13) Unemployment and Inflation Rise in Euro Zone
March 1, 2012

14) U.S. Judge Strikes Down F.D.A. Cigarette Labels
February 29, 2012

15) U.S. Court Approves Warrantless Searches of Cell Phones
March 1, 2012

16) Poll Finds Wide Support for Birth Control Coverage
March 1, 2012

17) Channel 2 investigation highlights racial discrepancies in marijuana arrests
Posted: 3:03 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012

18) U.N. Faults NATO and Libyan Authorities in Report
March 2, 2012

19) Judge Clears Rule on Union Posters at Work
March 2, 2012

20) Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher
March 3, 2012


1) Authorities in London Dismantle St. Paul's Occupy Camp
February 28, 2012

LONDON - Moving after midnight as much of the city slumbered, bailiffs supported by police officers dismantled a tent encampment outside St. Paul's Cathedral here early on Tuesday, ending a four-month protest that divided the Church of England and resonated among Britons opposed to what was seen as runaway capitalist greed.

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest at Zuccotti Park in New York, the camp was started late last year amid a deep economic slowdown, with jobs being lost and social services being cut even as Britain's investment bankers sought large bonuses.

After months of protest, around 50 tents remained in the camp as the bailiffs and police moved across a plaza in front of St. Paul's.

A handful of protesters resisted, and police officials said 20 people were arrested after they clambered atop a rickety wooden structure for a final, noisy protest, lofting banners and rattling tambourines. But riot police surrounded the platform and bailiffs dismantled it, witnesses said.

Many left the camp voluntarily. "We haven't got any choice, and I'd rather protect the tent for another day without it being destroyed by the bailiffs," said Gary Sherborne, 50, speaking to The Press Association news agency.

Kai Wargalla, a 27-year-old student from Germany, said he had been part of the protest since it began in mid-October. "It's really sad what's happening today, but I think we can be proud of what we have achieved."

In a statement Tuesday, the cathedral authorities said the protest had forced a re-examination of "important issues about social and economic justice and the role the cathedral can play."

"We regret the camp had to be removed by bailiffs," the cathedral authorities said, promising to continue to promote the issues raised by the encampment.

Shortly after the protest began, church officials were divided sharply over their response to the its presence outside one of the British capital's best-known buildings where, among many notable moments, Charles and Diana embarked on their troubled and ultimately doomed marriage in 1981.

Some, like Canon Giles Fraser, a top cathedral official, resigned, arguing that the church's mission to seek social justice should make it the protesters' natural ally. "Riot police clearing the steps of St Paul's Cathedral was a terrible sight," Mr. Fraser said on Tuesday. "This is a sad day for the church."

But others said the overriding concern had to be clearing the camp so that St. Paul's, which draws thousands of worshipers every week, could continue to operate. The great domed cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the late 17th century to replace an earlier edifice that burned during the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was completed in its present form in the early 18th century.

In essence, the debate reflected a longstanding historical dilemma since the Church of England is the country's "established" church with the monarch as its titular head. Should it therefore emulate biblical actions, like those of Jesus in overturning the money lenders' tables in the temple, or should it conform with the prevailing social and political order?

In the end the dispute was resolved by lawyers rather than theologians. Protesters lost a legal battle for the right to stay in place last week and many began to take down their tents then. The land on which the protesters camped is owned by the City of London Corporation, which argued in court that the presence of the demonstrators interfered with passers-by and worshipers and violated zoning laws.

The protesters took their demand for a stay to the Court of Appeal, which rejected their case last week.

Many British banks reduced bonuses to their staff by about 40 percent this year amid a public outcry and after reporting a drop in income for last year.

The chief executives of Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, both partly owned by the British government after receiving bailouts, bowed to pressure and did not take bonuses for last year, while the chief executive of Barclays declined to comment on whether he would take a bonus. HSBC said Monday that it awarded its chief executive $6.6 million in pay and bonus deferred from previous years, up from $3.9 million he received for 2010, after profit at the bank rose 27 percent last year.

Julia Werdigier contributed reporting.


2) Japan Weighed Evacuating Tokyo in Nuclear Crisis
February 27, 2012

TOKYO - In the darkest moments of last year's nuclear accident, Japanese leaders did not know the actual extent of damage at the plant and secretly considered the possibility of evacuating Tokyo, even as they tried to play down the risks in public, an independent investigation into the accident disclosed on Monday.

The investigation by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, a new private policy organization, offers one of the most vivid accounts yet of how Japan teetered on the edge of an even larger nuclear crisis than the one that engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. A team of 30 university professors, lawyers and journalists spent more than six months on the inquiry into Japan's response to the triple meltdown at the plant, which followed a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that shut down the plant's cooling systems.

The team interviewed more than 300 people, including top nuclear regulators and government officials, as well as the prime minister during the crisis, Naoto Kan. They were granted extraordinary access, in part because of a strong public demand for greater accountability and because the organization's founder, Yoichi Funabashi, a former editor in chief of the daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, is one of Japan's most respected public intellectuals.

An advance copy of the report describes how Japan's response was hindered at times by a debilitating breakdown in trust between the major actors: Mr. Kan; the Tokyo headquarters of the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco; and the manager at the stricken plant. The conflicts produced confused flows of sometimes contradictory information in the early days of the crisis, the report said.

It describes frantic phone calls by the manager, Masao Yoshida, to top officials in the Kan government arguing that he could get the plant under control if he could keep his staff in place, while at the same time ignoring orders from Tepco's headquarters not to use sea water to cool the overheating reactors. By contrast, Mr. Funabashi said in an interview, Tepco's president, Masataka Shimizu, was making competing calls to the prime minister's office saying that the company should evacuate all of its staff, a step that could have been catastrophic.

The 400-page report, due to be released later this week, also describes a darkening mood at the prime minister's residence as a series of hydrogen explosions rocked the plant on March 14 and 15. It says Mr. Kan and other officials began discussing a worst-case outcome if workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant were evacuated. This would have allowed the plant to spiral out of control, releasing even larger amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere that would in turn force the evacuation of other nearby nuclear plants, causing further meltdowns.

The report quotes the chief cabinet secretary at the time, Yukio Edano, as having warned that such a "demonic chain reaction" of plant meltdowns could result in the evacuation of Tokyo, 150 miles to the south.

"We would lose Fukushima Daini, then we would lose Tokai," Mr. Edano is quoted as saying, naming two other nuclear plants. "If that happened, it was only logical to conclude that we would also lose Tokyo itself."

The report also describes the panic within the Kan administration at the prospect of large radiation releases from the more than 10,000 spent fuel rods that were stored in relatively unprotected pools near the damaged reactors. The report says it was not until five days after the earthquake that a Japanese military helicopter was finally able to confirm that the pool deemed at highest risk, near the No. 4 reactor, was still safely filled with water.

"We barely avoided the worst-case scenario, though the public didn't know it at the time," Mr. Funabashi, the foundation founder, said.

Mr. Funabashi blamed the Kan administration's fear of setting off a panic for its decision to understate the true dangers of the accident. He said the Japanese government hid its most alarming assessments not just from its own public but also from allies like the United States. Mr. Funabashi said the investigation revealed "how precarious the U.S.-Japan relationship was" in the early days of the crisis, until the two nations began daily informational meetings at the prime minister's residence on March 22.

The report seems to confirm the suspicions of nuclear experts in the United States - inside and outside the government - that the Japanese government was not being forthcoming about the full dangers posed by the stricken Fukushima plant. But it also shows that the United States government occasionally overreacted and inflated the risks, such as when American officials mistakenly warned that the spent fuel rods in the pool near unit No. 4 were exposed to the air and vulnerable to melting down and releasing huge amounts of radiation.

Still, Mr. Funabashi said, it was the Japanese government's failure to warn its people of the dangers and the widespread distrust it bred in the government that spurred him to undertake an independent investigation. Such outside investigations have been rare in Japan, where the public has tended to accept official versions of events.

He said his group's findings conflicted with those of the government's own investigation into the accident, which were released in an interim report in December. A big difference involved one of the most crucial moments of the nuclear crisis, when the prime minister, Mr. Kan, marched into Tepco's headquarters early on the morning of March 15 upon hearing that the company wanted to withdraw its employees from the wrecked nuclear plant.

The government's investigation sided with Tepco by saying that Mr. Kan, a former social activist who often clashed with Japan's establishment, had simply misunderstood the company, which wanted to withdraw only a portion of its staff. Mr. Funabashi said his foundation's investigators had interviewed most of the people involved - except executives at Tepco, which refused to cooperate - and found that the company had in fact said it wanted a total pullout.

He credited Mr. Kan with making the right decision in forcing Tepco not to abandon the plant.

"Prime Minister Kan had his minuses and he had his lapses," Mr. Funabashi said, "but his decision to storm into Tepco and demand that it not give up saved Japan."


3) Kelly Defends Surveillance of Muslims
February 27, 2012

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly defended the New York Police Department's counterterrorism program on Monday, saying "people have short memories as to what happened here in 2001."

Mr. Kelly's remarks, made during an appearance on WOR-AM (710), were in response to growing criticism of the department's surveillance methods, including monitoring of Muslim communities in New York City and beyond, and its reliance on stop-and-frisk interactions as a crime-fighting tool.

He defended the surveillance conducted by the Police Department, saying, "It would be folly for us to focus only on the five boroughs of New York City, and we have to use all of our resources to protect everyone."

Mr. Kelly suggested that criticism from political candidates amounted to "pandering" that ignored the department's core mission. "What we're trying to do is save lives, and the tactics and strategies that we've used on the streets of this city have indeed saved lives," he said.

Mr. Kelly's remarks on Monday were the latest in which he has mounted a strong defense of the Police Department, which has been criticized in the last several months over its handling of the Occupy Wall Street protests last year and the rising numbers of street stops in high-crime areas.

More recently, the latest in a series of articles by The Associated Press on the department's surveillance of Muslims examined how the police had mapped out Muslim neighborhoods in Newark, focusing on businesses and mosques, and how police reports had been based on information gleaned by monitoring Web sites of Muslim student organizations at universities across the Northeast. After the articles were published, a number of universities issued statements expressing concern over the Police Department's scrutiny of their student organizations, and some New Jersey officials expressed alarm at the Police Department's operations in their state.

Last week, in an article under Mr. Kelly's name in The Daily News, he described the Police Department's strategy for combating gun violence. Then on Monday, he was the subject of a front-page column in The Daily News by Mike Lupica, in which Mr. Kelly said he was not going to backtrack.

"So apologize for doing what I'm paid to do, for being realistic about the way we protect this city, and what we know about the way radical Islam works?" Mr. Kelly said in the column. "Not happening."

Speaking on WOR, during a segment hosted by Representative Peter T. King, Republican of Long Island, Mr. Kelly continued his defiant tone, saying that regardless of criticism, the Police Department was going to do "what we believe has to be done to protect our city." He criticized the news media as being shortsighted, saying that "they forget" that New York City has been the target of numerous terrorist plots - Mr. Kelly put the number at 14 - since the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.

Mr. King referred to an elected official who said that people in his district were more frightened by the Police Department than they were of drug dealers. "I find those remarks absolutely disgraceful," Mr. King said.

"Absolutely," Mr. Kelly replied. "Well, you know, pandering is going on, that's the season that we're entering now."


4) Police Monitoring and a Climate of Fear
February 27, 2012


The counterman at the Jordan Halal Restaurant, a greasy spoon of a greasy spoon on South Orange Avenue, tossed up his hands as I pulled out my press card. No, no, he doesn't want to speak, please no.

Behind him, his cook, a short block of a man in white apron, whipped up a "pastromi and eggs," as the menu would have it.

"I love here, so I leave this alone," the counterman tells me. "Say I love this place, please."

The counterman and his cook, as the New York Police Department's Intelligence Division describes them in a secret report on Newark, are "persons of Jordanian descent." There is another way to describe them: they are American citizens in the throes of a rather un-American fear of speaking.

"I talk, they keep coming," the counterman says, wagging his head, apologetic. Our conversation has finished.

"They" are undercover New York City officers. Last week, The Associated Press broke the news that the Intelligence Division of the New York police had extended its writ hundreds of square miles east and west, carefully detailing mosques, dollar stores and restaurants, from Konak's Turkish Cuisine in Farmingville, on Long Island, to this luncheonette on the western edge of Newark. They carefully recorded names, license plates and nationalities.

Another Associated Press report found that undercover city officers kept a close eye on Muslim students at Yale, Columbia, Syracuse, Rutgers, New York University, Brooklyn College and public state universities. One officer took a white-water rafting trip with students; he reported they prayed five times a day. College presidents are often more interested in high finance than political dudgeon, but several spoke out this time. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey also talked of his disquiet, and Senator Robert Menendez called for an investigation.

More than 10 years has passed since towers crashed, and dust and human biomass fell as snow across a city. Our wounds can appear healed, but the revelations of last week suggest we are more fractured, and perhaps more angry, than we realized.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly sounded aggressively uninterested in apology. "Everything the N.Y.P.D. has done is legal," the mayor said.

As for the complaints of Yale's president? "I don't know," Mr. Bloomberg said, "why keeping the country safe is antithetical to the values of Yale."

New York's politicians, with a few exceptions, galloped in behind. Senator Charles E. Schumer defended the police, as did Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The Daily News columnist Mike Lupica scored with Mr. Kelly, who gave the back of his hand to New Jersey's political class. "As far as I can tell, it was a knee-jerk response," the commissioner told him. "Maybe it was just political instincts at work."

MR. LUPICA, a tough-guy typist, offered a coda. Of Mr. Kelly, he opined, "not only should he not apologize for doing that, he should tell any politician who doesn't like it" to bug off, though he puts it more crudely.

The New York Post as ever went three yards beyond. It published an arsonist's bonfire of a cartoon. It showed three hook-nosed, bearded and turbaned terrorists, one of whom is calling The A.P. to complain of police spying.

It's necessary to repeat this: We have been attacked, and it could happen again. Mr. Kelly and Mr. Bloomberg live with an awareness of the terrible possibility that most of us long ago suppressed. Yet, this may not confer immunity against tough questions, not the least of which is what sort of "leads" justify monitoring hundreds of thousands of people.

On Friday, I stepped out of Masjid Mubarak, a small, whitewashed mosque on Camden Street that serves Newark's growing Nigerian community. Men and women smiled and bowed, and corralled their children.

My phone rang; it was Mayor Cory A. Booker. He is a most careful politician. He butters hedge funders, laughs with the bumptious Republican governor and considers Mr. Bloomberg "a dear and trusted friend."

He speaks eloquently of Mr. Bloomberg's conviction that an attack must not happen again. "I understand the space he lives in," Mr. Booker says.

And yet, he has heard from his Muslim constituents, who call in anger and pain. "I'm watching what this has done," he said. "It's created lines of suspicion that are destructive.

"I'm a prisoner of hope; maybe we can emerge with a greater exaltation of our rights," he says.

But right now? He pauses.

"Right now we're at a nadir."



5) The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor
By Mike Elk and Bob Sloan
August 1, 2011

This article is part of a Nation series exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council, in collaboration with the Center For Media and Democracy. John Nichols introduces [1] the series.

The breaded chicken patty your child bites into at school may have been made by a worker earning twenty cents an hour, not in a faraway country, but by a member of an invisible American workforce: prisoners. At the Union Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Florida, inmates from a nearby lower-security prison manufacture tons of processed beef, chicken and pork for Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises [2] (PRIDE), a privately held non-profit corporation that operates the state's forty-one work programs. In addition to processed food, PRIDE's website reveals an array of products for sale through contracts with private companies, from eyeglasses to office furniture, to be shipped from a distribution center in Florida to businesses across the US. PRIDE boasts that its work programs are "designed to provide vocational training, to improve prison security, to reduce the cost of state government, and to promote the rehabilitation of the state inmates."

Although a wide variety of goods have long been produced by state and federal prisoners for the US government-license plates are the classic example, with more recent contracts including everything from guided missile parts to the solar panels powering government buildings-prison labor for the private sector was legally barred for years, to avoid unfair competition with private companies. But this has changed thanks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), its Prison Industries Act, and a little-known federal program known as PIE (the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program [3]). While much has been written about prison labor in the past several years, these forces, which have driven its expansion, remain largely unknown.

Somewhat more familiar is ALEC's instrumental role in the explosion of the US prison population in the past few decades. ALEC helped pioneer some of the toughest sentencing laws on the books today, like mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders, "three strikes" laws, and "truth in sentencing" laws. In 1995 alone, ALEC's Truth in Sentencing Act [4] was signed into law in twenty-five states. (Then State Rep. Scott Walker was an ALEC member when he sponsored Wisconsin's truth-in-sentencing laws and, according to PR Watch, used its statistics to make the case for the law.) More recently, ALEC has proposed innovative "solutions" to the overcrowding it helped create, such as privatizing the parole process through "the proven success of the private bail bond industry," as it recommended in 2007. (The American Bail Coalition is an executive member of ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force.) ALEC has also worked to pass state laws to create private for-profit prisons, a boon to two of its major corporate sponsors: Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections), the largest private prison firms in the country. An In These Times investigation [5] last summer revealed that ALEC arranged secret meetings between Arizona's state legislators and CCA to draft what became SB 1070, Arizona's notorious immigration law, to keep CCA prisons flush with immigrant detainees. ALEC has proven expertly capable of devising endless ways to help private corporations benefit from the country's massive prison population.

That mass incarceration would create a huge captive workforce was anticipated long before the US prison population reached its peak-and at a time when the concept of "rehabilitation" was still considered part of the mission of prisons. First created by Congress in 1979, the PIE program was designed "to encourage states and units of local government to establish employment opportunities for prisoners that approximate private sector work opportunities," according to PRIDE's website. The benefits to big corporations were clear-a "readily available workforce" for the private sector and "a cost-effective way to occupy a portion of the ever-growing offender/inmate population" for prison officials-yet from its founding until the mid-1990s, few states participated in the program.

This started to change in 1993, when Texas State Representative and ALEC member Ray Allen crafted the Texas Prison Industries Act, which aimed to expand the PIE program. After it passed in Texas, Allen advocated that it be duplicated across the country. In 1995, ALEC's Prison Industries Act was born.

This Prison Industries Act as printed in ALEC's 1995 state legislation sourcebook, "provides for the employment of inmate labor in state correctional institutions and in the private manufacturing of certain products under specific conditions." These conditions, defined by the PIE program, are supposed to include requirements that "inmates must be paid at the prevailing wage rate" and that the "any room and board deductions...are reasonable and are used to defray the costs of inmate incarceration." (Some states charge prisoners for room and board, ostensibly to offset the cost of prisons for taxpayers. In Florida, for example, prisoners are paid minimum wage for PIE-certified labor, but 40 percent is taken out of their accounts for this purpose.)

The Prison Industries Act sought to change this, inventing the "private sector prison industry expansion account," to absorb such deductions, and stipulating that the money should be used to, among other things: "construct work facilities, recruit corporations to participate as private sector industries programs, and pay costs of the authority and department in implementing [these programs]." Thus, money that was taken from inmate wages to offset the costs of incarceration would increasingly go to expanding prison industries. In 2000, Florida passed a law that mirrored the Prison Industries Act and created the Prison Industries Trust Fund, its own version of the private sector prison industry expansion account, deliberately designed to help expand prison labor for private industries.

The Prison Industries Act was also written to exploit a critical PIE loophole that seemed to suggest that its rules did not apply to prisoner-made goods that were not shipped across state lines. It allowed a third-party company to set up a local address in a state that makes prison goods, buy goods from a prison factory, sell those products locally or surreptitiously ship them across state borders. It helped that by 1995 oversight of the PIE program had been effectively squashed, transferred from the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance [6] to the National Correctional Industries Association [7] (NCIA), a private trade organization that happened to be represented by Allen's lobbying firm, Service House, Inc. In 2003, Allen became the Texas House Chairman of the Corrections Committee and began peddling the Prison Industries Act and other legislation beneficial to CCA and Geo Group, like the Private Correctional Facilities Act [8]. Soon thereafter he became Chairman of ALEC's Criminal Justice (now Public Safety and Elections) Task Force. He resigned from the state legislature in 2006 while under investigation for his unethical lobbying practices. He was hired soon after as a lobbyist for Geo Group.

Today's chair of ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task force is state Representative Jerry Madden of Texas, where the Prison Industries Act originated eighteen years ago. According to a 2010 report from NCIA, as of last summer there were "thirty jurisdictions with active [PIE] operations." These included such states as Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and twelve more. Four more states are now looking to get involved as well; Kentucky, Michigan and Pennsylvania have introduced legislation and New Hampshire is in the process of applying for PIE certification. Today these state's legislation are based upon an updated version of the Prison Industries Act [9], which ALEC amended in 2004.

Prison labor has already started to undercut the business of corporations that don't use it. In Florida, PRIDE has become one of the largest printing corporations in the state, its cheap labor having a significant impact upon smaller local printers. This scenario is playing out in states across the country. In addition to Florida's forty-one prison industries, California alone has sixty. Another 100 or so are scattered throughout other states. What's more, several states are looking to replace public sector workers with prison labor. In Wisconsin Governor Walker's recent assault on collective bargaining opened the door to the use of prisoners in public sector jobs in Racine, where inmates are now doing landscaping, painting, and other maintenance work. According to the Capitol Times, "inmates are not paid for their work, but receive time off their sentences." The same is occurring in Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida and Georgia, all states with GOP Assembly majorities and Republican governors. Much of ALEC's proposed labor legislation, implemented state by state is allowing replacement of public workers with prisoners.

"It's bad enough that our companies have to compete with exploited and forced labor in China," says Scott Paul Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a coalition of business and unions. "They shouldn't have to compete against prison labor here at home. The goal should be for other nations to aspire to the quality of life that Americans enjoy, not to discard our efforts through a downward competitive spiral."

Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, says prison labor is part of a "confluence of similar interests" among politicians and corporations, long referred to as the "prison industrial complex." As decades of model legislation reveals, ALEC has been at the center of this confluence. "This has been ongoing for decades, with prison privatization contributing to the escalation of incarceration rates in the US," Friedmann says. Just as mass incarceration has burdened American taxpayers in major prison states, so is the use of inmate labor contributing to lost jobs, unemployment and decreased wages among workers-while corporate profits soar.
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6) As Bank Profits Plunge, Wall Street Bonuses Fall Modestly
February 29, 2012, 8:48 am

While Wall Street's profits were battered and beaten last year, workers' bonuses were merely bruised.

Total payouts to finance industry employees in New York are forecast to drop only 14 percent during this bonus season, according to a report issued on Wednesday by the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli. By comparison, profits plunged, falling 51 percent.

"The securities industry, which is a critical component of the economies of New York City and New York State, faces continued challenges as it works through the fallout from the financial crisis and adjusts to regulatory reforms," Mr. DiNapoli said in a statement

Stymied by regulatory requirements, the European debt crisis and a sluggish economic environment at home, the nation's largest banks suffered in 2011. Goldman Sachs reported that profit dropped 67 percent from 2010. Bank of America earnings fell more than 50 percent.

In all, securities firms in New York made an estimated $13.5 billion in 2011, down sharply from the $27.6 billion they made in 2010, according to the comptroller's estimates. It is the second consecutive year that Wall Street saw its profit chopped by more than half.

Despite the difficult environment, New York firms continued to pay roughly $20 billion in year-end cash compensation to their employees. The average bonus was $121,150, down just 13 percent from the previous year as the headcount shrunk. In 2006, the year before the financial crisis, the average investment bank employee took home a bonus of $191,360.

But the comptroller's estimates, which do not include noncash compensation, may not give the full picture of this year's bonus season.

Increasingly, banks are doling out a larger portion of their annual payouts in shares, as a way to link pay to long-term performance. At Morgan Stanley, for instance, cash bonuses were capped at $125,000 - a small fortune to many Americans, but a pittance for investment bankers and traders used to seven-figure payouts. Some top executives at the bank, including James P. Gorman, the chief executive, deferred the entire cash portion of their bonuses.

At the same time, overall compensation on Wall Street remains high relative to the rest of New York. In 2010, the average pay, including bonuses, in the securities industry in New York City hit $361,180. (Figures were not yet available for 2011.) At that level, Wall Street paychecks are 5.5 times higher than those in the rest of the private sector.

Compensation has posed a dilemma at Wall Street firms. The issue has proved a lightning rod for politicians and critics who contend that the industry's pay packages are too high.

But some banks defend their practices, arguing that compensation is critical to retaining and rewarding employees. Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said at an investor conference on Tuesday that even in tough times, he would not pay his employees less than the going rate.

"We are going to pay competitively," Mr. Dimon told a roomful of analysts and investors at the conference. "We need top talent. You cannot run these businesses with second-rate talent."

Even so, New York, which is heavily dependent on the securities industry, is likely to feel repercussions from Wall Street's somewhat muted compensation.

Before the financial crisis, Wall Street accounted for 20 percent of the state's tax revenue. Last year, that tally was 14 percent. For New York City, the share dropped to 7 percent of tax revenues from 13 percent over the same period.


7) Israeli Troops Raid Palestinian TV Stations
February 29, 2012

JERUSALEM - Israeli troops raided two Palestinian television stations in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank early on Wednesday, confiscating transmitters, computer hard drives and documents and eliciting angry condemnations from the Palestinian Authority.

Officials at the two stations, Al Watan and Al-Quds Educational Television, said that officials from Israel's communications ministry accompanied by soldiers spent several hours removing the equipment and documents.

The Israeli ministry said in a statement that it had repeatedly warned both stations that they were using frequencies that violated Israeli-Palestinian agreements and that interfered with communications and transmission systems in Israel. An Israeli military spokesman said the interference was affecting airplane communication at Ben-Gurion Airport.

The Palestinian Authority replied that it had received no such warnings and that the stations were guilty of no violations.

"We are an educational television station, which puts on 'Sesame Street,' antismoking programs and broadcasts to help integrate handicapped children into the community," said Lucy Nusseibeh, director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al-Quds University, which operates the station. "We have all our licenses through the Palestinian ministry of communications and are in constant touch with them. I never heard anything about Israeli complaints or warnings."

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority visited both stations after the raids on Wednesday and vowed to get them replacement transmitters. He condemned the raids and likened them to what went on a decade ago during the second Palestinian uprising.

"This piracy and raids on Palestinian media institutions are reminiscent of practices by the occupation forces in the beginning of the second intifada, when they stormed and vandalized many Palestinian media institutions, including Palestine TV, Palestine Radio as well as Watan TV," he said.

Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, said that the Palestinian communications ministry had determined that the stations had complied with legal requirements and the authority's agreements with Israel.

An Israeli military spokesman, asked why documents and hard drives were confiscated from Watan TV if the concern was about transmission frequencies, said that once the soldiers entered the premises, they noticed suspicious documents and extended what they took with them.

With peace negotiations on hold and the Palestinian Authority exploring reconciliation with the Islamist group Hamas, tensions have risen in the West Bank in recent weeks. Palestinian demonstrations and incidents of stone throwing have increased, as have Israeli raids and arrests. While Israeli forces generally stay out of Palestinian cities during the day, leaving the Palestinian security forces to keep order, Israeli troops often enter the cities at night to conduct raids.


8) Arrests and Protests With New Occupy Wall St. Push
February 29, 2012, 11:53 am

Updated, 12:35 p.m. | The police arrested two Occupy Wall Street protesters overnight and issued summonses to seven others as the New York wing of the movement geared up for its first day of heavy activity in weeks.

The agenda for a "Shut Down the Corporations" day on Wednesday included a morning protest outside the East 42nd Street headquarters of Pfizer, at which officers outnumbered the 60 or 70 protesters, according to The Associated Press.

The protesters moved west toward Bryant Park, where witnesses reported the arrest of a cyclist outside the New York Public Library.

1 arrest outside NYPL - possibly for riding bike on sidewalk. Nypd took protesters bike in wagon. #ows #F29

- johnknefel (@johnknefel) 29 Feb 12

The demonstrators then visited a Bank of America branch at Third Avenue and 42nd Street, where, an employee said, "We had to lock the doors to prevent any situations." As of 11:40 a.m., the branch was open again.

In the overnight protests, one person in Zuccotti Park was arrested and charged with obstructing governmental administration and seven others there received disorderly conduct summons around 12:30 a.m., the police said. Another protester was arrested shortly before 4 a.m. at Wall Street and Broadway on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, the police said. Journalists at the scene described officers arresting protesters without apparent cause.

What I witnessed at Zuccotti Park tonight was revolting. NYPD arresting citizens literally at random without provocation. #OWS

- John Del Signore (@johndelsignore) 29 Feb 12

Mario Tama/Getty ImagesProtesters outside Pfizer's headquarters on Wednesday morning


9) Outlawing dissent: Rahm Emanuel's new regime
By Bernard Harcourt, Thursday 19 January 2012 17.57 EST

On the pretext of policing upcoming G8 and Nato summits, Chicago's mayor has awarded himself draconian new powers It's almost as if Rahm Emanuel was lifting a page from Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine - as if he was reading her account of Milton Friedman's "Chicago Boys" as a cookbook recipe, rather than as the ominous episode that it was. In record time, Emanuel successfully exploited the fact that Chicago will host the upcoming G8 and Nato summit meetings to increase his police powers and extend police surveillance, to outsource city services and privatize financial gains, and to make permanent new limitations on political dissent. It all happened - very rapidly and without time for dissent - with the passage of rushed security and anti-protest measures adopted by the city council on 18 January 2012.

Sadly, we are all too familiar with the recipe by now: first, hype up and blow out of proportion a crisis (and if there isn't a real crisis, as in Chicago, then create one), call in the heavy artillery and rapidly seize the opportunity to expand executive power, to redistribute wealth for private gain and to suppress political dissent. As Friedman wrote in Capitalism and Freedom in 1982 - and as Klein so eloquently describes in her book:

"Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When the crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function ... until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

Today, it's more than mere ideas that are lying around; for several decades now, and especially since 9/11, there are blueprints scattered all around us.

Step 1: hype a crisis or create one if there isn't a real one available. Easily done:with images from London, Toronto, Genoa, and Seattle of the most violent anti-G8 protesters streaming on Fox News and repeated references to anarchists and rioters, the pump is primed.
Rather than discuss the peaceful Occupy Chicago protests over the past three months, city officials and the media focus on what Fraternal Order of Police President Michael Shields calls "people who travel around the world as professional anarchists and rioters" and a "bunch of wild, anti-globalist anarchists". The looming crisis headlines Rahm Emanuel's draft legislation, now passed: "Whereas, Both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ("Nato") and the Group of Eight ("G8") summits will be held in the spring of 2012 in the City of Chicago" and "whereas, the Nato and G8 Summits continue to evolve in terms of the size and scope, thereby creating unanticipated or extraordinary support and security needs ..." The crisis calls for immediate action.

Step 2: rapidly deploy excessive force. Again, easily done: Emanuel just gave himself the power to marshal and deputize - I kid you not, look at page 3 - the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and the entire United States Department of Justice (DOJ); as well as state police (the Illinois department of state police and the Illinois attorney general), county law enforcement (State's Attorney of Cook County), and any "other law enforcement agencies determined by the superintendent of police to be necessary for the fulfillment of law enforcement functions".

As one commentator suggests, the final catch-all allows Emanuel to hire "anyone he wants, be they rent-a-cops, Blackwater goons on domestic duty, or whatever. For a city that has great problems keeping its directly sworn officers in check, this looser authority is an even greater license for abuse." Thanks to the coming G8 meeting, the Chicago police department has just gotten a lot bigger! According to Fox News, "there will be hundreds, perhaps thousands of federal agents here."

Not just that, but Emanuel has also given himself the power to install additional surveillance, including video, audio and telecommunications equipment. And not just for the period of the G8 and Nato summits, but permanently. These new provisions of the substitute ordinance apply
"permanently": there is no sunset provision on either the police expansion or the surveillance. On this second, the new ordinance

"The superintendent is also authorized to enter into agreements with public or private entities concerning placement, installation, maintenance or use of video, audio, telecommunications or other similar equipment. The location of any camera or antenna permanently installed pursuant to any such agreement shall be determined pursuant to joint review and approval with the executive director of emergency management and communications." [my emphasis]

Thanks to the mobilization of the Occupy movement (including their funeral for the Bill of Rights) and other groups like the ACLU, some of Emanuel's other draconian provisions were scaled back. Emanuel dropped his proposals to increase seven-fold the minimum fine for resisting arrest (including for passive resistance) from $25 to $200, to double the maximum fine for resisting arrest from $500 to $1,000, and to double the maximum fine for violations of the parade ordinance from $1,000 to $2,000. But the rest of his proposals - including the three-fold increase in the minimum fine for a violation of the parade ordinance - passed the City Council Thursday.

Step 3: privatize the profits and socialize the costs. In Chicago, that translates into Emanuel outsourcing city services to private enterprises, but making sure the public will indemnify those private companies from future law suits. This is a two-part dance with which we have become all too familiar.

First, city services are outsourced, often to circumvent labor and other regulations, and the income side of the public expenditures are shifted over to private enterprise and employees. Under the ordinance (see page 4):

"The mayor or his designees are authorized to negotiate and execute agreements with public and private entities for good, work or services regarding planning, security, logistics, and other aspects of hosting the Nato and G8 summits in the city in the Spring of 2012 ... and to provide such assurances, execute such other documents and take such other actions, on behalf of the city, as may be necessary or desirable to host these summits."

Second, the agreements can be entered "on such terms and conditions as the mayor or such designees deem appropriate" and these terms include, importantly, "indemnification by the city". In other words, any lawsuits will fall on the city taxpayers. The public will be left holding the bag if there is, for instance, police abuse or other mismanagement by private employers.

Step 4: use the crisis to expand executive power permanently and repress political dissent. Most of the ordinance revisions, it turns out, do not sunset with the departure of the G8 or Nato delegates. To be sure, there's a sunset provision for those contracts that specifically involve "hosting the Nato and G8 summits." That provision expires on 31 July 2012; but not the expanded police powers, nor the increased video surveillance, nor the other changes to the protest permit requirements.

The new rules affecting permits for protests and marches include details that impose onerous demands on dissent. As noted earlier, the minimum fine for a violation of the parade ordinance will increase from $50 to $200. On the parade permit applications, the protest organizers now must provide a general description of any sound amplification equipment that is on wheels or too large for one person to carry and/or any signs or banners that are too large for one person to carry. These may sound like small details, but they are precisely the kinds of nitpicking regulations that empower and expand police discretion to arrest and fine, and that make it harder to express political opinions.

It's another glaring example of what I have called The Illusion of Free Markets and the paradox of "neoliberal penality": the purported liberalization of the economy (here, the privatization of city
services) goes hand-in-hand with massive policing. Scott Horton captured the idea well in Harper's, under the rubric "The Despotism of Natural Law". Notice the neoliberal paradox: the fact that the city claims to be incompetent or unable to performs its ordinary functions implies that we need to both outsource city services and augment city police powers.

It was accomplished so quickly and seamlessly - passed practically overnight - that few seem to have noticed or had time to think through the long-term implications. There's not a mention in the New York Times and only a small story in the Chicago Tribune. The crisis and fear of outside agitators, professional anarchists and rioters - splashed on the TV screens direct from London, Toronto, Genoa, Rome, or Seattle - is enough to create a permanent state of exception.

To make matters worse, this cookbook implementation of mini shock treatment follows on the heels of a severe crackdown on the Occupy Chicago movement that resulted in the arrest of over 300 Occupy protesters in Grant Park in October 2011. The prosecutions are still ongoing today and the effect on political dissent has been chilling.

In those 300 arrests, Rahm Emanuel and his police chief rigidly enforced a park curfew without finding reasonable ways to accommodate the political speech interests of the protesters, and beyond any semblance of a legitimate governmental interest. The massive arrests raise a clear first amendment problem - one that has been raised by the Occupy protesters and will be heard en masse at the Daley Center on 15 February. (Ironically, Emanuel and his police will effectively "Occupy the Daley Center".)

The first amendment argument is compelling, especially when you consider the disparate treatment that political expression receives in Chicago. Recall, for instance, how different things were in Grant Park on election night 2008. Huge tents were pitched, commercial sound systems pounded rhythms and political discourse, enormous TVs streamed political imagery. More than 150,000 people blocked the streets and "occupied" Grant Park - congregating, celebrating, debating and discussing politics. That evening, President-elect Barack Obama would address the crowds late into the night and the assembled masses swarmed the park to the early morning hours. It was a memorable moment, perhaps a high point in political expression in Chicago.

Well, that was then. The low point would come three years later, almost to the day. On the evening of 15 October 2011, thousands of Occupy protesters marched to Grant Park and assembled at the entrance to the park to engage, once again, in political expression. But this time, the assembled group found itself surrounded by an intimidating police force, as police wagons began lining up around the political assembly. The police presence grew continually as the clock approached midnight.

Within hours, at the direction, ironically, of President Obama's former chief-of-staff (was Rahm Emanuel at Grant Park after hours, a few years earlier?), the Chicago Police Department began to arrest the protesters for staying in Grant Park beyond the 11pm curfew in violation of a mere park ordinance.

Emanuel could have ordered his police officers to issue written citations and move the protesters to the sidewalk. In fact, that's precisely what the police would do a few weeks later at a more obstreperous protest by senior citizens at Occupy Chicago. On that occasion, 43 senior citizens who stopped traffic by standing or sitting in the middle of a downtown street were escorted by police officers off the street without being handcuffed, and were merely issued citations to appear in the department of administrative hearings. (Those arrests, however, took place under the watchful eye of Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Democratic Representatives Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky and Mike Quigley.)

But not on 15 October or the following Saturday night. Instead of issuing citations, the Chicago police arrested over 300 protesters, placed them in handcuffs, treating the municipal park infractions as quasi-criminal charges, booked them, fingerprinted them and detained them overnight in police holding cells, some for as many as 17 hours.
They are now aggressively prosecuting these cases in criminal court.

That's precisely the type of practice that chills political expression. The inconsistent treatment of political dissent in Grant Park or at the Chicago board of trade reflects the colossal amount of discretion that mayors and police chiefs have over political discourse today. Police discretion is wide, political expression is fragile.

Rahm Emanuel's message on the G8 and Nato meetings has been loud and clear - and chilling: the DEA, FBI, ATF, DOJ, state police and many other law enforcement agencies will be out in force; it will be harder to comply with the protest laws; and any deviations or errors will be costlier and punished. What's really troubling is that the G8 and Nato will come and go, but these reforms are with us in Chicago to stay.
Chicago's mayor seems to be following in the footsteps of other municipal officials (recall Rudy Giuliani's idea of staying on as mayor for an extra three months), who, with a touch of Potus-envy and perhaps a small Napoleonic complex, begin to act like minor tyrants.

It'll be interesting to follow the first amendment litigation brought by the Occupy protesters. Their cases have been joined - there are about 100 of them in the challenge now - and their free speech claims will be heard by the chief judge at the Daley Center on 15 February 2012.


10) 'Trespass Bill' Would Violate Peaceful Assembly Rights
New bill passed by Congress makes it a felony to protest or assemble nearby protected government officials
by John Glaser, February 28, 2012

The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests or civilian intrusions in any area where government officials are nearby, tearing away at the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble.
The new legislation would make it a federal offense for anyone to protest or assemble without permission on grounds where the Secret Service is protecting a government official or any building or grounds "restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance."

The language of the bill is incredibly broad and open to the interpretation of prosecutors. Starting with making it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, the grounds or buildings included as off-limits even cover those that the President - or whatever other official protected by the Secret Service - is residing temporarily. It would even include a peaceful protest outside a presidential candidate's concession speech, for example.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) was one of only three in the House to vote against the bill. On his official Facebook account on Tuesday, Rep. Amash wrote, "The bill expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it's illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect it's illegal."

"Some government officials may need extraordinary protection to ensure their safety. But criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activity - even if that activity is annoying to those government officials - violates our rights," he added.

The bill already passed the Senate on February 6 and has only to be signed by President Obama to become law. The government already has inordinate ability to crush free speech, silence protesters, and arrest civilians peacefully assembling, but this legislation would mark the beginning of the end of the First Amendment.


11) Obama's 2013 Budget Slashes Aid for Working Families
"'The federal government is reduced to picking the pockets of the poorest of the poor. It is Scrooge-like,' Crowley said."
By Matthew Cardinale
February 29, 2012

ATLANTA, Georgia, Feb 29, 2012 (IPS) - The federal budget for fiscal year 2013 proposed by President Barack Obama severely cuts aid for working families by targeting at least two programmes, the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA), that aid the nation's most vulnerable working families.

First, Obama has proposed a 50-percent cut to the CSBG programme that funds an array of services - which differ in each county - including emergency rental and utliity assistance, dental clinics, Head Start (pre-kindergarden education), home weatherisation, job training, GED (high school diploma equivalency) classes, and entrepreneurship training.

In 2012, Congress funded CSBG at 677 million dollars. For 2013, President Obama has proposed funding the programme at only 350 million dollars, a cut of nearly one half.

Obama has also proposed additional cuts to the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

"This is the second year that the administration has made these recommendations," David Bradley, executive director of the National Community Action Foundation, told IPS regarding CSBG.

"Congress in 2012 rejected them for a number of reasons. Number one, economic recovery, particularly in low-income communities, has not happened yet. Eleven hundred community action authorities in 98 percent of U.S. counties are still at record levels of people coming for services, and record levels for new individuals and families. People who have fallen into economic hardship, who previously may have been middle class, the demand is still there," Bradley said.

"Particularly in rural areas, there's no one else who can pick this up," Bradley said.

Bradley said the cuts would be devastating to millions of U.S. families.

If Congress enacts the cuts to CSBG as proposed by Obama, "Over five million individuals and families would not have access to these services. In a 3.7-trillion-dollar budget, this is an example of penny-wise and pound-foolish," Bradley said.

These cuts are tiny in proportion to the federal budget, and yet right-wing organisations and the Tea Party still blast Obama for failing to cut the federal budget to their satisfaction, meaning that there is little political benefit to the president - only harm to the people who have largely supported him electorally.

"Obama has some good words about restraining the budget and reducing the rate of deficit, but little of long-term substance in his 2013 budget proposal," Joe Cobb, policy advisor in economics at the right- wing Heartland Institute, said in a press release. Cobb said Obama's budget proposed is "dead on arrival".

"The vision of an America that enjoys economic growth is not going to come from the European welfare-state ideals of President Obama and his social Democrats in the Congress, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). They believe in that great fiction that everyone might live at the expense of everyone else, if we only transfer wealth from successful to unsuccessful people," Cobb said.

So what does Obama have to gain from these cuts if the right-wing Republicans are still unhappy?

"It's symbolically, (Obama is saying) we're not going to defend all poverty programmes, here's a programme we like, but were going to cut it, as he said in the (2011) State of the Union. If he's calling on Republicans in Congress to make sacrifices on tax extenders or tax breaks he's showing he's willing to make tough choices too, this is a choice he's willing to make. Find another one, Mr. President," Bradley said.

Meanwhile, Obama has also proposed a complete elimination of the PBRA programme in its current form, which means that hundreds of thousands of low-income renters in the U.S. - many of whom were displaced from demolished public housing projects with the promise of affordable housing opportunities elsewhere - will now lose their rental subsidies.

Currently, nearly 1.2 million households benefit from PBRA, where the amount of rent they pay is based on a portion of their income, while the rest is paid by the federal government, through local housing authorities, to property owners.

Unlike the voucher programme, where the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides monthly checks to property owners on behalf of tenants who select where they want to live, under PBRA, the low-income apartment building or complex itself is subsidised.

"HUD proposes renewing just a third of project-based Section 8 contracts for a full year, and turning the rest into short-term contracts," Amy Clark, spokesperson for the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), told IPS.

"We are very concerned that this would cause investors to question the stability of the programme, putting tenants' housing at risk," Clark said.

"HUD has tried this budget gimmick before," Sheila Crowley, president of the NLIHC, said in a press release. "And it wrecked havoc in the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people."

Obama also wants to raise the minimum rents paid by the very poorest HUD-assisted households. Raising the minimum rents from 25 or 50 dollars per month to at least 75 dollars per month would create a savings of 150 million dollars, or only .003 percent of the total HUD budget.

"The federal government is reduced to picking the pockets of the poorest of the poor. It is Scrooge-like," Crowley said.


12) Spain: Protesting Classes Without Heat
February 29, 2012

Tens of thousands of students demonstrated on the streets of Spanish cities on Wednesday in protest over government spending cuts, including some that have left many classrooms without heat. The protests were largely peaceful in Madrid and Valencia, but in Barcelona demonstrators set fire to garbage cans and broke windows outside the stock exchange. Deep austerity in Spain has the regional and national governments struggling to meet tough deficit-reduction targets. An aggressive police response to student protests in Valencia last week drew widespread anger in a country that has so far not had violent Greek-style demonstrations.


13) Unemployment and Inflation Rise in Euro Zone
March 1, 2012

PARIS - Unemployment in the euro zone has risen to its highest level since the introduction of the common currency even as inflation climbed, economic reports showed Thursday, underscoring the challenge facing European finance officials as they met in Brussels.

The jobless rate in the 17 euro nations rose in January to 10.7 percent from 10.6 percent in December reaching the highest level since the introduction of the euro in 1999, Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, reported from Luxembourg. Flagging economies like Italy and Greece were responsible for much of the increase.

For all 27 European Union countries, the jobless rate ticked up to 10.1 percent in January from 10.0 percent in December, Eurostat said, with a total of 24.3 million men and women out of work.

Eurostat also reported that euro zone inflation edged up in February to 2.7 percent, from 2.6 percent in January. The European Central Bank tries to hold increases in the general level of prices to just under 2 percent; it has not met that target for 15 consecutive months.

The data were released as European finance officials were meeting in Brussels to discuss measures aimed at putting the region's economy back on firm footing.

Eurostat did not provide a breakdown of the inflation data in the preliminary report, but Ben May, an economist with Capital Economics, attributed the increase to rising energy prices. Mr. May noted in a report that euro zone inflation "has recently slowed less sharply than that in the U.K. and U.S., perhaps suggesting that the economic slowdown is not having quite the downward influence that we anticipated."

The E.C.B. has lent banks about €1 trillion , or $1.3 trillion in three-year loans at a 1 percent interest rate over the last few months. That, along with money-printing by other major central banks, has renewed fears in some quarters that the money supply may be growing too rapidly, with a potential for higher inflation.

But the global monetary authorities have been largely in agreement that deflationary pressure from declining real estate prices and deleveraging by households and financial institutions is the greater danger.

The unemployment rate in Europe remains higher than that in the United States, where the rate was at 8.3 percent in January, and in Japan, where it was 4.6 percent in December.

European countries nonetheless diverge widely: Spain again topped the list with a 23.3 percent jobless rate, followed by Greece, at 19.9 percent in November. That compares with just 4.0 percent unemployment in Austria and 5.0 percent in the Netherlands.

And in Germany, where the seasonally adjusted jobless rate stood at 6.8 percent in February, the job market is the strongest it has been in years.

"The labor market data is interesting mainly for the divergence across regions," Ken Wattret, chief euro zone economist at BNP Paribas, said bv telephone from London. "It looks like unemployment is improving in the United States while Europe is getting worse."

"It's unlikely to be temporary," Mr. Wattret said.

He said there were grounds for optimism in a report on European manufacturing released Thursday. An index of euro zone purchasing managers compiled by Markit Economics, a financial data firm, rose to 49.0, a six-month, from 48.8 in January.

Mr. Wattret said that while a number below 50 suggests the sector was continuing to contract in February, "if you look at the underlying momentum, I think it will rise further."

"I think we're in one of those phases where manufacturing is improving globally," Mr. Wattret said, noting some signs of improvement in the United States. "But Europe typically lags."

"Don't get carried away," he added, noting that for 2012 the euro zone would show, "at best, a negligible growth rate, but compared with where we were in October-November" - amid fears of a euro collapse - "that would be a pretty good outcome."


14) U.S. Judge Strikes Down F.D.A. Cigarette Labels
February 29, 2012

A federal judge on Wednesday declared unconstitutional a Food and Drug Administration requirement that tobacco companies prominently display graphic warning labels on cigarette packages.

Judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court in Washington ruled that forcing the companies to use the labels, which show staged images like a man breathing smoke out of a tracheotomy hole in his neck and a mouth punctured with what appear to be cancerous lesions, violated their free speech rights under the First Amendment.

"The government's interest in advocating a message cannot and does not outweigh plaintiff's First Amendment right to not be the government's messenger," Judge Leon wrote.

His ruling largely echoed arguments he made in a preliminary injunction he issued in November. The significance of Wednesday's ruling is unclear, since the Obama administration has appealed the injunction.

"This decision adds nothing to the existing record," said Matthew L. Myers, a lawyer and president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy group. "It represents an inaccurate statement of the facts, is wrong on the science of the health impact of tobacco and uses the wrong legal standards. Other than that, he got it perfect."

Five tobacco companies - R. J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Commonwealth Brands, the Liggett Group and Santa Fe Natural - challenged the labels, arguing that the government was trying to use their packaging not to inform and educate consumers but to advocate a change in behavior.

That, they argued, went beyond the "compelled commercial speech" courts have ruled is permissible under the First Amendment to protect consumers from confusion and deception.

"We believe governments, public health officials, tobacco manufacturers and others share a responsibility to provide tobacco consumers with accurate information about the various health risks associated with smoking," Martin L. Holton III, executive vice president and general counsel for R. J. Reynolds, said in a statement. "However, the goal of informing the public about the risks of tobacco use can and should be accomplished consistent with the U.S. Constitution."

The companies have not objected to new warning labels per se. Rather, they have objected to what they contend are the "grotesque" images the government wants in their packaging.

The Food and Drug Administration does not comment on possible, pending or active litigation.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 gave the F.D.A. authority for the first time to regulate tobacco products. A provision directed the agency to require larger, graphic warning labels covering the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs by Sept. 22, 2012, as well as 20 percent of print advertising for cigarettes. The photos the F.D.A. selected for the labels are similar to some on cigarette packaging in Canada.

"This public health initiative will be an effective tool in our efforts to stop teenagers from starting in the first place and taking up this deadly habit," said a representative for the Department of Health and Human Services, of which the F.D.A. is a part. "We are confident that efforts to stop these important warnings from going forward will ultimately fail."

Antismoking activists said they were not surprised by the ruling, though they wondered why Judge Leon went ahead with it since the Justice Department appealed the preliminary injunction he issued last fall and oral arguments are set for April in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

"It's hard for us to understand his logic," said Paul G. Billings, vice president for national policy and advocacy at the American Lung Association. "This industry has been marketing its products to children for years in ways that have enticed them to use them - the Marlboro cowboy and Joe Camel - and what Congress said was fight back with all the same tools."

Judge Leon offered alternative ways to convey the health risks of smoking without violating the First Amendment, such as reducing the amount of space taken up by its warning labels and changing the images to convey "only purely factual and uncontroversial information rather than gruesome images designed to disgust the consumer."


15) U.S. Court Approves Warrantless Searches of Cell Phones
March 1, 2012

(Reuters) - U.S. police can search a cell phone for its number without having a warrant, according to a federal appeals court ruling.

Officers in Indiana found a number of cell phones at the scene of a drug bust, and searched each phone for its telephone number. Having the numbers allowed the government to subpoena the owners' call histories, linking them to the drug-selling scheme.

One of the suspects, Abel Flores-Lopez, who was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, argued on appeal that the police had no right to search the phone's contents without a warrant.

The U.S. Court of Appeal for the 7th Circuit rejected that argument on Wednesday, finding that the invasion of privacy was so slight that the police's actions did not violate the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches.

The case gave the court an occasion to examine just how far police can go when it comes to searching electronic gadgets.

"Lurking behind this issue is the question whether and when a laptop or desktop computer, tablet, or other type of computer (whether called a 'computer' or not) can be searched without a warrant," Judge Richard Posner wrote for the three-judge panel.

He raised the example of the iCam, which allows someone to use a phone to connect to a home-computer web camera, enabling someone to search a house interior remotely.

"At the touch of a button, a cell phone search becomes a house search," he wrote.

Posner compared the cell phone to a diary. Just as police are entitled to open a pocket diary to copy an owner's address, they should be able to turn on a cell phone to learn its number, he wrote. But just as they're forbidden from examining love letters tucked between the pages of an address book, so are they forbidden from exploring letters in the files of a phone.

Prosecutors argued that in an age when people can wipe their cell phones clean remotely, officers are under pressure to obtain data before it is destroyed.

The court acknowledged that the actual risk that one of the suspects would have been able to destroy the phone's contents was minimal in this case. But so was the invasion of privacy, limited to telephone numbers.

The court left the question of just how far police can go in searching a phone's contents for another day.

A lawyer for Flores-Lopez was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting By Terry Baynes)


16) Poll Finds Wide Support for Birth Control Coverage
March 1, 2012

The close divide in a Senate vote Thursday over whether employers can refuse insurance coverage for contraception mirrors a sharp partisan divide among the public, according to a national poll and interviews with women around the country.

Over all, 63 percent of Americans said they supported the new federal requirement that private health insurance plans cover the cost of birth control, according to the survey of 1,519 Americans, conducted from Feb. 13 to Feb. 19 for the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

While 8 in 10 Democrats said they supported requiring birth control coverage, only 4 in 10 Republicans did. Six in 10 people calling themselves independents voiced approval. Many Americans, in the survey and in independent interviews, expressed impatience with the focus on women's reproductive issues in an era of economic distress.

Jennifer Meyer, 27, of Sugar Creek, Mo., said in an interview that the current controversy over birth control coverage was "a way for employers to get out of footing the bill by saying they don't agree with it." She called herself an independent, but said she was leaning toward Democrats as the "lesser of two evils."

Mollyann Brodie, director of survey research at the Kaiser foundation, said that since the vast majority of Americans approved of birth control, the divisions over the mandate might be more related to views on federal regulation. "In the end, the answers say more about people's views on the role of government than on the issue of contraception," she said.

By a vote of 51 to 48, the Democratic-controlled Senate on Thursday voted down a proposal to overturn the contraception requirement brought by Republicans who call Mr. Obama's plan an assault on religious liberty.

In January, when the Obama administration announced that religiously affiliated institutions like colleges and hospitals would not be exempted from a requirement that all health plans cover birth control, Roman Catholic bishops said the policy would force them to violate their faith. Evangelical groups and Republican leaders took up the cause and have injected it into the presidential campaign.

Mr. Obama, Democratic leaders and many women's health advocates say the issue is a matter of basic health care and describe the opposition as part of a broader Republican war on women.

In the poll, the division was largely along partisan lines: 43 percent of Republican women said it was mainly a debate about religious freedom, while only 10 percent of Democratic women did.

Mary McNabb, 61, of Lenoir City, Tenn., said she was a Southern Baptist and was glad to see new attention focused on contraception and the Obama health care plan. She said the mandate was a violation of religious freedom.

"If a Catholic woman wants to take birth control, to go behind her priest's back, that's between her and God," she said. "But I don't think other Catholics should have to pay for it."

But she added: "I don't think they should beat this horse to death. There are other important issues."

The Kaiser survey found little evidence of a gap between men's and women's views of the contraceptive mandate. But it did suggest a significant age gap, especially within the Republican Party. Just over half of all Republicans ages 18 to 49 supported requiring contraceptive coverage, while only 33 percent of Republicans ages 50 and higher did so.

Despite the campaigns against the mandate by Republicans and conservative religious leaders, fewer than one percent of the people surveyed mentioned women's health or birth control when asked what issues they most wanted to hear candidates discuss.

Half said they believed the debate over contraception coverage "is mostly being driven by election-year politics," and interviews with women around the country suggested that many, whatever their politics, think leaders should focus on other matters.

Salonika Evans, 21, a dental hygienist student in Columbus, Ga., called the debate a diversion from the real issue of jobs.

"I am sitting at home eating ramen noodles and everyone in the government is eating filet mignon and talking about birth control, and they are all men," said Ms. Evans, who calls herself an independent.

Marita Gallaway, 57, a social worker in Marion, Ind., who is against abortion and thinks the federal government is "out of control," listed the war in Afghanistan, benefits for veterans, the aging population, education and the economy as things that are more important "than who's going to pay for whose birth control."

"Those are personal choices and personal issues," she said. "War is not."

Still, one in four people in the survey said women's reproductive health could be an important factor in their choice of political leaders.

Leila Borders, 26, a medical student at Mercer University in Savannah, Ga. who calls herself a conservative Democrat, said, "I feel strongly that the attack that is being made on women's health through politics is something that our nation will look back on as a dark blemish."

"In this political climate where those issues are up for legislation," she said, "a candidate's stance would certainly determine my vote."

Reporting was contributed by Robbie Brown and Kim Severson in Atlanta, Steven Yaccino in Chicago, Malia Wollan in San Francisco, Ian Lovett in Los Angeles and Dan Frosch in Denver.


17) Channel 2 investigation highlights racial discrepancies in marijuana arrests
Posted: 3:03 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012


A Channel 2 Action News investigation revealed that across the state, African-Americans are arrested on marijuana possession charges significantly more often than whites.

"That is just a bad practice of applying the law unequally, that is, you are singling out a segment of the population," said state Sen. Ed Harbison. "That's just wrong. I don't care how you cover it up, how you try to color it."

Channel 2 looked at the total number of arrests for possession charges and compared the racial breakdowns to census data. For metro Atlanta agencies that made over 100 arrests, Channel 2 isolated nine agencies that had the highest discrepancies between the African-American population and the number of arrests they made.

The agency with the highest number was the Atlanta Police Department. Last year, 93 percent of all marijuana possession arrests in the city of Atlanta were African-Americans, and 7 percent were white. The city's population is 54 percent African-American and 38 percent white.

"This is a difficult issue that is far more complex than numbers can illustrate. I can assure you however, that the Atlanta Police Department is in no way, shape, form or fashion racially profiling," Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos told Channel 2.

Reverend C.L. White, president of the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP, called it atrocious to have an arrest rate so high compared to the population.

"That is profiling at its worst. You don't have to have done anything, if they just suspect you might have done it as you look like someone who might do, than you are apt to be pulled over," said White.

Channel 2 spoke to a man who asked to be identified only as Greg, felt that was exactly what happened to him.

Greg told Channel 2 he felt he was racially profiled in Douglas County, where 66 percent of all those arrested for possession of marijuana are African-American.

"I really felt like he saw me and just felt like, 'Oh, here's a criminal. Let me go get him,'" said Greg.

Greg said he borrowed a friend's car to run an errand when Douglas County deputies pulled him over for a broken taillight when the officer asked to search his car.

"I got out of the car in order to let him search me to see if I had anything on me, which I didn't," said Greg.

The officer wouldn't let him go and called for a police dog. The dog indicated something was in the car and officers found what Greg's lawyer, Andy Cohen, described as a "speck of marijuana" and arrested him.

The charges against Greg were later dropped.

"It doesn't take many, 10 in 100 cops. If they're overzealous they can give the whole department a bad name," said White.

Channel 2 asked Atlanta Police Department why their numbers are so high.

"The public rightfully demands that we patrol high-crime neighborhoods. They also happen to be majority minority neighborhoods and that is where a lot of our encounters happen," said Campos.

"It seems like it's a crime to be poor and living in a high-crime district," said White.

The state of Georgia spends hundreds of millions of dollars enforcing marijuana laws. But with the state facing tight budgetary concerns, some critics argue that it is not worth the cost.

Georgia has some of the toughest marijuana laws in the country and a recent study conducted for the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation showed that the state spends $310 million to police, prosecute and jail marijuana offenders.

One metro lawyer is urging the state to decriminalize possession of marijuana to save the state some of that money.

A Channel 2 Action News investigation revealed that across the state, African-Americans are arrested on marijuana possession charges significantly more often than whites.

"That is just a bad practice of applying the law unequally, that is, you are singling out a segment of the population," said state Sen. Ed Harbison. "That's just wrong. I don't care how you cover it up, how you try to color it."

Channel 2 looked at the total number of arrests for possession charges and compared the racial breakdowns to census data. For metro Atlanta agencies that made over 100 arrests, Channel 2 isolated nine agencies that had the highest discrepancies between the African-American population and the number of arrests they made.

The agency with the highest number was the Atlanta Police Department. Last year, 93 percent of all marijuana possession arrests in the city of Atlanta were African-Americans, and 7 percent were white. The city's population is 54 percent African-American and 38 percent white.

"This is a difficult issue that is far more complex than numbers can illustrate. I can assure you however, that the Atlanta Police Department is in no way, shape, form or fashion racially profiling," Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos told Channel 2.

Reverend C.L. White, president of the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP, called it atrocious to have an arrest rate so high compared to the population.

"That is profiling at its worst. You don't have to have done anything, if they just suspect you might have done it as you look like someone who might do, than you are apt to be pulled over," said White.

Channel 2 spoke to a man who asked to be identified only as Greg, felt that was exactly what happened to him.

Greg told Channel 2 he felt he was racially profiled in Douglas County, where 66 percent of all those arrested for possession of marijuana are African-American.

"I really felt like he saw me and just felt like, 'Oh, here's a criminal. Let me go get him,'" said Greg.

PDF: Georgia marijuana arrest statistics

PDF: Marijuana decriminalization bill

Greg said he borrowed a friend's car to run an errand when Douglas County deputies pulled him over for a broken taillight when the officer asked to search his car.

"I got out of the car in order to let him search me to see if I had anything on me, which I didn't," said Greg.

The officer wouldn't let him go and called for a police dog. The dog indicated something was in the car and officers found what Greg's lawyer, Andy Cohen, described as a "speck of marijuana" and arrested him.

The charges against Greg were later dropped.

"It doesn't take many, 10 in 100 cops. If they're overzealous they can give the whole department a bad name," said White.

Channel 2 asked Atlanta Police Department why their numbers are so high.

"The public rightfully demands that we patrol high-crime neighborhoods. They also happen to be majority minority neighborhoods and that is where a lot of our encounters happen," said Campos.

"It seems like it's a crime to be poor and living in a high-crime district," said White.

The state of Georgia spends hundreds of millions of dollars enforcing marijuana laws. But with the state facing tight budgetary concerns, some critics argue that it is not worth the cost.

Georgia has some of the toughest marijuana laws in the country and a recent study conducted for the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation showed that the state spends $310 million to police, prosecute and jail marijuana offenders.

One metro lawyer is urging the state to decriminalize possession of marijuana to save the state some of that money.

"You have to pay the police man. You have to pay the jailer, the probation officer, the judge, the district attorney, the assistants, the clerks, the court reporter. All of that is paid for by the state," said David Clark of Georgia's Chapter of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws.

He is one of several metro area attorneys that have drafted a bill to decriminalize marijuana in the state of Georgia, a bill he says could save the state a lot of money.

"Some of the other states that decriminalize marijuana have saved on the many expenses that come with our criminal justice system," said Clark.

Georgia spends over $1 billion annually on our corrections system. Drug and property offenders represent 60 percent of all prison admissions and 3,200 of those are service sentences for drug possession, posing a heavy cost to the state.

"The costs go beyond just the law enforcement costs. You're taking a working person who happens to like to smoke pot when they go home, and you're taking them out of the workforce. They are no longer productive," said Clark.

"Eventually it all comes down to dollars and cents," said Rep. Tommy Benton.

Benton said saving money does not mean it's worth decriminalizing marijuana.

"I don't think we need to relax our standards to say, 'Well, you got caught with a couple of joints, and we're going to let you down.' People know the law. There needs to be some repercussions," said Benton.

The bill Clark wants the legislature to consider would create a civil penalty for marijuana possession in public. Violators would be punished with a fine they could pay online as opposed to going through the criminal courts.

"We can regulate marijuana. The state can make money. Families won't have to be dragged through the criminal justice system when their kid experiments with marijuana," said Clark.

"I would have to say the devil is in the details, and I would have to read the legislation, but right now, I am opposed to that," said Benton.

Channel 2 showed the proposed bill to Harbison.

"I would be reluctant to say yes, simply because there is a strong feeling about it and against marijuana use and any drug use," said Harbison.

But considering the current economic status of the state, Harbison said, "I would be willing to consider it. A large portion of our society is going to jail for basically minor crimes. You know, one marijuana cigarette. I think we should take a look at that."

Gov. Nathan Deal has done just that, releasing a study on the state of Georgia's prison systems. The study called for a new way to handle drug offenders, including investing $10 million in drug courts.

Benton said that is a move he can support.

"The drug courts would actually save the state money. They give the individual a chance to really get his life straightened out," said Benton.

"Drug court is more bureaucracy. The real step, that would help the state and the people the most is decriminalization of marijuana," said Clark.


18) U.N. Faults NATO and Libyan Authorities in Report
March 2, 2012

BEIRUT, Lebanon - NATO has not sufficiently investigated the air raids it conducted on Libya that killed at least 60 civilians and wounded 55 more during the conflict there, according to a new United Nations report released Friday.

Nor has Libya's interim government done enough to halt the disturbing violence perpetrated by revolutionary militias seeking to exact revenge on loyalists, real or perceived, to the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the report concluded.

Published without publicity on the Web site of the United Nations Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, the report details the results of an investigation by a three-member commission of distinguished jurists. It paints a generally gloomy picture of the level of respect for human rights and international law in Libya, while acknowledging that the problem is a legacy of the long years of violent repression under Colonel Qaddafi.

NATO air raids that killed civilians in Libya have been criticized by rights groups, and the alliance's refusal to acknowledge or investigate some of the deaths has been the subject of earlier news reports, including an extensive account in The New York Times last December. The new report represents the first time that NATO's actions in Libya have been criticized under the auspices of the United Nations, where the bombing campaign in the name of protecting civilians from Colonel Qaddafi's forces was authorized by the Security Council.

The report concluded that Colonel Qaddafi's forces had perpetuated war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, torture and attacks on civilians using excessive force and rape.

But the armed anti-Qaddafi militia forces in Libya also "committed serious violations," including war crimes and breaches of international rights law that continue today, the 220-page report said.

Through this past January, militia members continued with the mass arrests of former soldiers, police officers, suspected mercenaries and others perceived to be Qaddafi loyalists, the report said. Certain revenge attacks have continued unabated, particularly the campaign by the militiamen of Misurata to wipe a neighboring town, Tawergha, off the map; the fighters accuse its residents of collaborating with a government siege.

Such attacks have been documented before, but the report stressed that despite previous criticism, the militiamen were continuing to hunt down the residents of the neighboring town no matter where they had fled across Libya. As recently as Feb. 6, militiamen from Misurata attacked a camp in Tripoli where residents of Tawergha had fled, killing an elderly man, a woman and three children, the report said.

The commission remains "deeply concerned" that no independent investigations or prosecutions appear to have been instigated into killings by such militias, the report said.

"Libyan authorities can break with the Qaddafi legacy by enforcing the law equally, investigating all abuses - irrespective of the perpetrator," the report said.

The commission members tried to ascertain how Colonel Qaddafi had died, but said the Libyan authorities did not give them access to the autopsy report, so further investigation was needed. Graphic videos of his last day alive on Oct. 20 suggest that the revolutionaries who captured him near his tribal hometown, Surt, beat him and executed him with gunfire.

There was no immediate reaction from the Libyan government to the United Nations report. Adel Shaltut, the deputy chief of the Libyan Mission in Geneva, said his government was studying the report.

The report gives some sense of the obstacles the Libyan government faces in trying to meet the lengthy list of recommendations that entail rebuilding the criminal justice system from the ground up. Government officials meeting with the commission emphasized the precariousness of the security situation, the weakness of the national police and the inability of the central authorities to enforce the rule of law, the report said.

It said the government was likely to face difficulty processing an estimated 8,000 detainees, with "many detainees" under the control of individual brigades and outside any legal framework. The report did note that the interim government had taken steps to set up institutions to address legal and human rights issues, including the National Fact-Finding and Reconciliation Commission.

The newest parts of the report were the questions raised about NATO attacks that killed and wounded civilians.

The commission of inquiry concluded in its report that NATO had sought to avoid civilian casualties in "a highly precise campaign" involving thousands of attack sorties.

But it also noted that in a few cases it had "confirmed civilian casualties and found targets that showed no evidence" of any military function. The commission investigated 20 NATO airstrikes, and it found that in five of them, a total of 60 civilians died and 55 were wounded. The most serious airstrike, on the town of Majer on Aug. 8, killed 34 civilians and wounded 38.

NATO identified four of the five targets as command-and-control points or troop staging areas, but the commission said that it found no physical evidence of this when it visited the sites and that witnesses denied that the five places had any military use.

The commission did not receive enough information from NATO to determine whether it had followed its own guidelines for avoiding civilian casualties when it processed the intelligence related to those sites before bombing them, the report said. It recommended that the organization carry out its own investigation.

Oana Lungescu, the spokeswoman for NATO, said the organization had reviewed its target selection and data collected during the airstrikes.

"This review process has confirmed that the specific targets struck by NATO were legitimate military targets selected consistently with the U.N. mandate, and that great care was taken in each case to minimize risk to civilians," she said in a statement.

Hundreds of targets were rejected, and some strikes were aborted to avoid civilian casualties, she said, while noting that the Qaddafi government had often used civilian facilities to conduct military activities.

"The fact that observers were unable to detect evidence of military purpose or activity several months after the conflict cannot necessarily be taken to reflect the reality at the time of the strike," Ms. Lungescu said.


19) Judge Clears Rule on Union Posters at Work
March 2, 2012

A federal judge ruled Friday that the National Labor Relations Board can require most private businesses to put up posters telling workers they have a legal right to form a union. But the judge, Amy Berman Jackson of United State District Court, limited how the board can enforce the requirement. She said simply failing to display the new N.L.R.B. poster is not automatically a legal violation. The ruling pleased labor groups but disappointed business groups, which argued that the new poster is too one-sided and seems to encourage workers to join unions. The posters are to be displayed effective April 30.


20) Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher
March 3, 2012

I AM a special education teacher. My students have learning disabilities ranging from autism and attention-deficit disorder to cerebral palsy and emotional disturbances. I love these kids, but they can be a handful. Almost without exception, they struggle on standardized tests, frustrate their teachers and find it hard to connect with their peers. What’s more, these are high school students, so their disabilities are compounded by raging hormones and social pressure.

As you might imagine, my job can be extremely difficult. Beyond the challenges posed by my students, budget cuts and changes to special-education policy have increased my workload drastically even over just the past 18 months. While my class sizes have grown, support staff members have been laid off. Students with increasingly severe disabilities are being pushed into more mainstream classrooms like mine, where they receive less individual attention and struggle to adapt to a curriculum driven by state-designed high-stakes tests.

On top of all that, I’m a bad teacher. That’s not my opinion; it’s how I’m labeled by the city’s Education Department. Last June, my principal at the time rated my teaching “unsatisfactory,” checking off a few boxes on an evaluation sheet that placed my career in limbo. That same year, my school received an “A” rating. I was a bad teacher at a good school. It was pretty humiliating.

Like most teachers, I’m good some days, bad others. The same goes for my students. Last May, my assistant principal at the time observed me teaching in our school’s “self-contained” classroom. A self-contained room is a separate classroom for students with extremely severe learning disabilities. In that room, I taught a writing class for students ages 14 to 17, whose reading levels ranged from third through seventh grades.

When the assistant principal walked in, one of these students, a freshman girl classified with an emotional disturbance, began cursing. When the assistant principal ignored her, she started cursing at me. Then she began lobbing pencils across the room. Was this because I was a bad teacher? I don’t know.

I know that after she began throwing things, I sent her to the dean’s office. I know that a few days later, I received notice that my lesson had been rated unsatisfactory because, among other things, I had sent this student to the dean instead of following our school’s “guided discipline” procedure.

I was confused. Earlier last year, this same assistant principal observed me and instructed me to prioritize improving my “assertive voice” in the classroom. But about a month later, my principal observed me and told me to focus entirely on lesson planning, since she had no concerns about my classroom management. A few weeks earlier, she had written on my behalf for a citywide award for “classroom excellence.” Was I really a bad teacher?

In my three years with the city schools, I’ve seen a teacher with 10 years of experience become convinced, after just a few observations, that he was a terrible teacher. A few months later, he quit teaching altogether. I collaborated with another teacher who sought psychiatric care for insomnia after a particularly intense round of observations. I myself transferred to a new school after being rated “unsatisfactory.”

Behind all of this is the reality that teachers care a great deal about our work. At the school where I work today, my “bad” teaching has mostly been very successful. Even so, I leave work most days replaying lessons in my mind, wishing I’d done something differently. This isn’t because my lessons are bad, but because I want to get better at my job.

In fact, I don’t just want to get better; like most teachers I know, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I have to be. Dozens and dozens of teenagers scrutinize my language, clothing and posture all day long, all week long. If I’m off my game, the students tell me. They comment on my taste in neckties, my facial hair, the quality of my lessons. All of us teachers are evaluated all day long, already. It’s one of the most exhausting aspects of our job.

Teaching was a high-pressure job long before No Child Left Behind and the current debates about teacher evaluation. These debates seem to rest on the assumption that, left to our own devices, we teachers would be happy to coast through the school year, let our skills atrophy and collect our pensions.

The truth is, teachers don’t need elected officials to motivate us. If our students are not learning, they let us know. They put their heads down or they pass notes. They raise their hands and ask for clarification. Sometimes, they just stare at us like zombies. Few things are more excruciating for a teacher than leading a class that’s not learning. Good administrators use the evaluation processes to support teachers and help them avoid those painful classroom moments — not to weed out the teachers who don’t produce good test scores or adhere to their pedagogical beliefs.

Worst of all, the more intense the pressure gets, the worse we teach. When I had administrators breathing down my neck, the students became a secondary concern. I simply did whatever my assistant principal asked me to do, even when I thought his ideas were crazy. In all honesty, my teaching probably became close to incoherent. One week, my assistant principal wanted me to focus on arranging the students’ desks to fit with class activities, so I moved the desks around every day, just to show that I was a good soldier. I was scared of losing my job, and my students suffered for it.

That said, given all the support in the world, even the best teacher can’t force his students to learn. Students aren’t simply passive vessels, waiting to absorb information from their teachers and regurgitate it through high-stakes assessments. They make choices about what they will and won’t learn. I know I did. When I was a teenager, I often stayed up way too late, talking with friends, listening to music or playing video games. Did this affect my performance on tests? Undoubtedly. Were my teachers responsible for these choices? No.

My best teachers, the ones I still think about today, exposed me to new and exciting ideas. They created classroom environments that welcomed discussion and intellectual risk-taking. Sometimes, these teachers’ lessons didn’t sink in until years after I’d left their classrooms. I’m thinking about Ms. Leonard, the English teacher who repeatedly instructed me to “write what you know,” a lesson I’ve only recently begun to understand. She wasn’t just teaching me about writing, by the way, but about being attentive to the details of my daily existence.

It wasn’t Ms. Leonard’s fault that 15-year-old me couldn’t process this lesson completely. She was planting seeds that wouldn’t bear fruit in the short term. That’s an important part of what we teachers do, and it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t show up on high-stakes tests.

How, then, should we measure students and teachers? In ninth grade, my students learn about the scientific method. They learn that in order to collect good data, scientists control for specific variables and test their impact on otherwise identical environments. If you give some students green fields, glossy textbooks and lots of attention, you can’t measure them against another group of students who lack all of these things. It’s bad science.

Until we provide equal educational resources to all students and teachers, no matter where they come from, we can’t say — with any scientific accuracy — how well or poorly they’re performing. Perhaps if we start the conversation there, things will start making a bit more sense.

William Johnson is a teacher at a public high school in Brooklyn who writes on education for the Web site Gotham Schools.