Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Two important weeks to support the Iraq War whistleblower

Some dates you just don't forget.

Chelsea Manning

Three years ago, in October of 2010, WikiLeaks shocked the world when it published the “Iraq War Logs,” a comprehensive database which contained thousands of records detailing abuse and corruption during the war in Iraq. These documents were revealed by Chelsea Manning, who has been sentenced to 35 years at a Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, prison. The documents that Chelsea Manning revealed via WikiLeaks uncovered crimes that were committed by both the Iraqi government and the U.S. military with the knowledge of top Pentagon officials.

They describe how thousands of innocent Iraqis were targeted for their religious or political beliefs, then detained and tortured in prisons operated by the Iraqi government. These same documents reveal acts in which U.S. soldiers abused and killed Iraqi civilians, and have yet to be held accountable. The documents even revealed to the public how U.S. forces helped teach the Iraqi military interrogation methods that have been banned by the UN as torture.

For the sake of the millions of civilians and the thousands of soldiers who have suffered in this unnecessary war, we ask that you remember the date that the public gained access to this information and take action to support Chelsea and her goal of bringing transparency to government. You can do this by contributing a letter to the official application for clemency that is being sent to Convening Authority Major General Jeffrey S. Buchanan. He is one of two people with the power to free Private Manning now, along with President Obama. There is precedent for convening authorities to reduce or eliminate the sentences of soldiers in cases where they have been convinced that the court martial did not deliver justice.

Given the numerous injustices in Private Manning’s case, we believe that Major General Buchanan should demonstrate leniency: Manning was imprisoned for three years before trial (including one year of solitary confinement); motives of conscience were not considered as an important factor by the judge; shockingly, the prosecution was even allowed to change their charge sheet after presenting their case.

Please follow these guidelines to write a letter. If you have already done so, please encourage at least three of your friends to do the same.

For those looking to take further action, we encourage you to organize a letter-writing party, which you can register on the Events Section of our website. All letters should be scanned electronically and PDF versions should be sent to nathan@bradleymanning.org by November 1.

As we remember the tragedy of the Iraq War, in many ways made clearer by the release of the war logs themselves, we must seize this opportunity to show support for PVT Manning and her work to bring much-needed transparency to international relations. Only through working together with adequate information can people of the world prevent history from repeating.

Thank you for your support.

Help us continue to cover 100%
of Pvt. Manning's legal fees! Donate today.




Please sign the NEW petition for Lynne Stewart . Your signature will send a letter to Bureau of Prisons Director Samuels and to Attorney General Holder requesting that they expedite Lynne Stewart’s current application for compassionate release. The NEW petition is at https://www.change.org/petitions/new-petition-to-free-lynne-stewart-support-compassionate-release

Free Lynne Stewart: Support Compassionate Release

Free Lynne Stewart: Support Compassionate Release

By Ralph Poynter, Brooklyn, NY  
Renowned defense attorney Lynne Stewart, unjustly charged and convicted for the “crime” of providing her client with a fearless defense, is dying of cancer while imprisoned in the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, Texas.

Your action now can lead to her freedom so that she may live out her remaining days with the comfort and joy of her family and those closest to her, including her devoted husband Ralph Poynter, many children, grandchildren, a great grandchild and lifelong friends.

The conservative medical prognosis by the oncologist contracted by the prison is that Lynne Stewart has but 16-months to live. Breast cancer, in remission prior to her imprisonment, reached Stage Four more than a year ago, emerging in her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs.

Despite repeated courses of chemotherapy, cancer advances in her lungs, resistant to treatment. Compounding her dire condition, Lynne Stewart’s white blood cell count dropped so low that she has been isolated in a prison hospital room since April 2013 to reduce risk of generalized infection.

Under the 1984 Sentencing Act, upon a prisoner’s request, the Bureau of Prisons can file a motion with the Court to reduce sentences “for extraordinary and compelling reasons,” life threatening illness foremost among these.

Lynne Stewart’s recent re-application for compassionate release meets all the criteria specified in guidelines issued by the Bureau of Prisons in August 2013.

These “new guidelines” followed a searing report and testimony before Congress by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz. His findings corroborated a definitive report by Human Rights Watch. Inspector General Horowitz excoriated the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the restrictive crippling of the compassionate release program. In a 20-year period, the Bureau had released a scant 492 persons – an average of 24 a year out of a population that exceeds 220,000.

Over 30,000 people of conscience from all walks of life in the United States and internationally took action to free Lynne Stewart following her first application for compassionate release in April of this year.

Among those who raised their voices are former Attorney General Ramsey Clark – who was co-counsel in the case that led to Lynne Stewart’s imprisonment, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President of the United Nations General Assembly, Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Ed Asner, Daniel Berrigan, Liz McAllister Berrigan, Richard Falk, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Cornell West, Dick Gregory, Alice Walker and Bianca Jagger.

They along with thousands of individuals and organizations, such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild and Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, directed letters, phone calls and public declarations to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. and to Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Dick Gregory has refused all solid food since April 4 and his remarkable moral witness will not end until Lynne Stewart is released.

We call upon all to amplify this outpouring of support. We ask all within our reach to convey to Bureau of Prisons Director Samuels his obligation to approve Lynne Stewart’s application and instruct the federal attorney to file the requisite motion for Lynne Stewart’s compassionate release.

Please sign this new petition and reach out to others to sign. The letter below will be sent on your behalf via email to Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and to Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. Telephone calls also can be made to the Bureau of Prisons:
(202) 307-3250/3262.

Write to Lynne Stewart at:
Lynne Stewart #53504-054Unit 2N
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX  76127

or via:

What you can do:
Demand Compassionate Release for Lynne Now!

Write and call:

President Obama
The White House
Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1111

Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
(202) 353-1555

Charles E. Samuels, Jr.
Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534
(202) 307-3250/3262

Write to Lynne Stewart:
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


New PA State and Federal Legal Challenges Filed to Overturn the Conviction of Lorenzo Johnson—An Innocent Man!


Lorenzo “Cat” Johnson filed new legal challenges to his frame-up conviction in both the Pennsylvania state and federal courts. A new Post-Conviction Relief petition, filed August 5, 2013 and a Second Federal Habeas Corpus petition filed September 9, 2013 rips to shreds the falsified and coerced witness testimony that resulted in his 1997 conviction for a murder he did not commit. Lorenzo Johnson is serving a sentence of life without parole. In a recent statement to his supporters Johnson announced: “I’m proud to say today my Legal Team filed an “Actual Innocence” appeal on my behalf. In this appeal is all the Evidence/Witnesses that was withheld from my Legal Team and me for eighteen years that out-right clears me!”

The legal filings unambiguously assert, “Lorenzo Johnson now demonstrates not only that he is factually innocent of the murder of Tarajay Williams, but that he was prevented from proving this at trial because the trial prosecutor withheld material exculpatory evidence … This exculpatory information, when viewed in combination with the newly discovered evidence offered herein, and with the prior suppressed evidence, proves that Petitioner was not simply ‘not guilty.’ This evidence proves he is innocent of the crimes with which he was charged, and that the Commonwealth had reason to know he was innocent but prosecuted him for murder nonetheless. His conviction also resulted from constitutionally ineffective counsel at trial and during his initial PCRA proceedings.”

These legal challenges follow the outrageous action of the U.S. Supreme Court last year reversing a previous successful federal challenge to his conviction. Johnson unceasing fought his conviction on the grounds of his innocence. After sixteen and a half years of court battles, in October 2011 the Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Johnson’s conviction on grounds of insufficiency of evidence--in effect, a judicial acquittal. In January 2012 he left prison freed on bond granted by the federal district court judge after a hearing in which family, friends and four corrections officers testified to his good character. But the state would not stop its vendetta and appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Without allowing the standard legal briefing or oral argument, the Supreme Court issued a per curiam decision, in May 2012 and reversed the Third Circuit Appeals court that had overturned Johnson’s conviction. His conviction and life sentence were reinstated. Johnson voluntarily turned himself in and over the past year has been serving his life sentence at SCI Mahanoy, in Frackville, PA, while continuing his legal fight.

The new evidence submitted in state and federal court comes from affidavits from both lay witnesses and from a Harrisburg police detective assigned to investigate Tarajay Williams’ shooting. They make clear that the Commonwealth withheld from Mr. Johnson exculpatory evidence that would have demonstrated his innocence, corroborating his alibi (that he was out of the state when the shooting took place) and would have shattered the credibility of Carla Brown, the primary witness against him.

The linchpin to the prosecution’s case was always Carla Brown, a confirmed crack addict – who acknowledged she was very high on cocaine the night of this shooting. At trial, Brown gave testimony riddled with inconsistencies. Brown was the only person to testify that Lorenzo Johnson was at the bar before the shooting, while two witnesses from the bar who knew him said they had not seen him at the bar that night. Brown was the only person who claimed to have seen Mr. Johnson near the alley where the shooting took place.

The new evidence includes Brown’s admission, screamed out while telling counsel never to come looking for her again, that she was not in the Midnight Special bar the night of the shooting. The statement from the detective establishes that Brown was aggressively questioned by the Harrisburg police who “had to work on her over the course of a few months to get her to tell the truth.”

The witness the prosecution used to establish a motive for the shooting, Victoria Doubs, had been given a plea deal by the prosecution, but that deal was kept from Johnson during the trial. Two friends of the victim have provided affidavits confirming that the prosecution’s evidence against Lorenzo Johnson was false in all regards: (1) the motive for the shooting was a fabrication—the events never happened; (2) Brown was lying when she testified that Johnson was in the bar that night or in the bar doorway or alley at the time of the shooting.

Three people confirm that Johnson was not in Harrisburg, but on a trip to NYC on the night the shooting occurred.
Additionally, two witnesses point to the identities of the two men who participated in the shooting and affirm that Lorenzo Johnson was not one of them. Carla Brown is identified in new witness affidavits as being outside the bar with those men and the victim.  As the new affidavits show, numerous witnesses were threatened by police into remaining silent or falsifying their trial testimony. Some were threatened with being charged themselves with the shooting death of Tarajay Williams.

As Mumia Abu-Jamal said in his September 8, 2013 commentary, “CAT Back (In Court)”:

“In fact, Cat’s entire case is predicated on police intimidation and prosecutorial deals of witnesses –those who could’ve proved not only that he was innocent – but innocent beyond a shadow of a doubt.
That’s because on the night Tarajay Williams was killed, Cat wasn’t in Harrisburg.  He wasn’t even in Pennsylvania.

But cops and prosecutors have the tools of intimidation in their hands – prison. And using such tools, they can twist witnesses like pretzels. They can, literally, make them say anything. And they did.

But now, the case is fast unraveling, like wet toilet paper.

Cat is back in court –stronger than ever.”

To help Lorenzo “Cat” Johnson win this fight for his freedom please read more about his case and help by protesting his frame-up conviction and demand his release.  www.FreeLorenzoJohnson.org. Sign the Johnson’s petition to the prosecution, PA Attorney General. As the legal battle continues, Lorenzo and his family need to see each other as much as possible. Please made a financial contribution here to help defray the costs of travel to SCI Mahanoy as well as phone calls and other work the family is doing in the fight for his freedom.

Lorenzo “CAT” Johnson

Lorenzo’s new PCRA (Post-Conviction Relief Act) petition was filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Harrisburg, PA by his attorney Michael Wiseman of Philadelphia, representing him pro bono. The new federal filings, the Second Habeas Corpus Petition and Memorandum of Law and Motion to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, were filed by attorney Amy Gershenfeld Donnella, of the Federal Community Defenders Office and Michael Wiseman, both of Philadelphia, PA. The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation is co-counsel and assisted in the investigation, and in overall support to Lorenzo.



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

Table of Contents:













(Unless otherwise noted)













1) Patients Mired in Costly Credit From DoctorsBy
October 13, 2013

2) American Indian Group Puts the Racism of Some Sports Logos Into Context
October 9, 2013
By Ben Cornfield
October 11, 2013
October 11, 2013
October 11, 2013

6) It’s Not Only Mothers and Children
October 12, 2013

7) The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath
October 12, 2013

8) Fifth Grader Is Convicted in Murder Plot
October 12, 2013

9)'We Failed You, Marissa. Men Fail Women Like You Every Day.'
Men write about domestic violence experienced by women they know, in a weekly compilation of letters from the #31forMarissa project.










1) Patients Mired in Costly Credit From Doctors
October 13, 2013

The dentist set to work, tapping and probing, then put down his tools and delivered the news. His patient, Patricia Gannon, needed a partial denture. The cost: more than $5,700.

Ms. Gannon, 78, was staggered. She said she could not afford it. And her insurance would pay only a small portion. But she was barely out of the chair, her mouth still sore, when her dentist’s office held out a solution: a special line of credit to help cover her bill. Before she knew it, Ms. Gannon recalled, the office manager was taking down her financial details.

But what seemed like the perfect answer — seemed, in fact, like just what the doctor ordered — has turned into a quagmire. Her new loan ensured that the dentist, Dr. Dan A. Knellinger, would be paid in full upfront. But for Ms. Gannon, the price was steep: an annual interest rate of about 23 percent, with a 33 percent penalty rate kicking in if she missed a payment.

She said that Dr. Knellinger’s office subsequently suggested another form of financing, a medical credit card, to pay for more work. Now, her minimum monthly dental bill, roughly $214 all told, is eating up a third of her Social Security check. If she is late, she faces a penalty of about $50.

“I am worried that I will be paying for this until I die,” says Ms. Gannon, who lives in Dunedin, Fla. Dr. Knellinger, who works out of Palm Harbor, Fla., did not respond to requests for comment.

In dentists’ and doctors’ offices, hearing aid centers and pain clinics, American health care is forging a lucrative alliance with American finance. A growing number of health care professionals are urging patients to pay for treatment not covered by their insurance plans with credit cards and lines of credit that can be arranged quickly in the provider’s office. The cards and loans, which were first marketed about a decade ago for cosmetic surgery and other elective procedures, are now proliferating among older Americans, who often face large out-of-pocket expenses for basic care that is not covered by Medicare or private insurance.

The American Medical Association and the American Dental Association have no formal policy on the cards, but some practitioners refuse to use them, saying they threaten to exploit the traditional relationship between provider and patient. Doctors, dentists and others have a financial incentive to recommend the financing because it encourages patients to opt for procedures and products that they might otherwise forgo because they are not covered by insurance. It also ensures that providers are paid upfront — a fact that financial services companies promote in marketing material to providers.

One of the financing companies, iCare Financial of Atlanta, which offers financing plans through providers’ offices, asks providers on its Web site: “How much money are you losing everyday by not offering iCare to your patients?” Over the last three years, the company’s enrollment has grown 320 percent. Another company posted a video online that shows patients suddenly vanishing outside a medical office because they cannot afford treatment. The company offers a financing plan as a remedy, with the scene on the video shifting to a smiling doctor with dollar signs headed toward him.

A review by The New York Times of dozens of customer contracts for medical cards and lines of credit, as well as of hundreds of court filings in connection with civil lawsuits brought by state authorities and others, shows how perilous such financial arrangements can be for patients — and how advantageous they can be for health care providers.

Many of these cards initially charge no interest for a promotional period, typically six to 18 months, an attractive feature for people worried about whether they can afford care. But if the debt is not paid in full when that time is up, costly rates — usually 25 to 30 percent — kick in, the review by The Times found. If payments are late, patients face additional fees and, in most cases, their rates increase automatically. The higher rates are often retroactive, meaning that they are applied to patients’ original balances, rather than to the amount they still owe.

For patients, the financial consequences can be dire.

Ms. Gannon said she was happy with her dental care, despite the cost, and there was no suggestion that Dr. Knellinger had done anything wrong. But attorneys general in a several states have filed lawsuits claiming that other dentists and professionals have misled patients about the financial terms of the cards, employed high-pressure sales tactics, overcharged for treatments and billed for unauthorized work.

The New York attorney general’s office found that health care providers had pressured patients into getting credit cards from one company, CareCredit, a unit of General Electric, which gave some providers discounts based on the volume of transactions. Patients, the investigation found, were misled about the terms of the credit cards, and in some instances, duped into believing that they were agreeing to a payment plan with dental offices when, in fact, they were being pushed into high-cost credit.

In June, CareCredit reached a pact with Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, to improve protections for consumers, and a spokeswoman said the company “does not incentivize providers to have patients open accounts” or give referral fees to providers.

In Ohio, the attorney general has sued the operators of several hearing aid clinics, claiming that they misled customers about using medical credit cards to pay for batteries and warranties.

Cameron P. Kmet, a chiropractor in Anchorage, Alaska, said he had stopped offering medical cards. “One missed payment can really ruin a patient’s life,” he said. Mr. Kmet now runs a company that administers payment plans directly between providers and patients, with annual interest rates around 8 percent.

Regarding medical credit cards, Mr. Kmet said he had urged providers to ask themselves “whether this is something that you would recommend to a family member or friend.” The answer, he said, is usually no.

While medical credit cards resemble other credit cards, there is a critical difference: they are usually marketed by caregivers to patients, often at vulnerable times, such as when those patients are in pain or when their providers have recommended care they cannot readily afford. In addition to G.E., large banks like Wells Fargo and Citibank, as well as several specialized financial services companies, offer credit through practitioners’ offices.

The growth of this form of consumer credit is difficult to quantify because data on medical credit cards specifically, as opposed to credit cards generally, is unavailable. But credit cards of all types are playing a growing role in financing medical care. In 2010, people in the United States charged about $45 billion in health care costs on credit cards, according to the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

“When the economy got worse, our business got better,” said Katie Kessing, an iCare spokeswoman. In 2010, a little more than a thousand dentists offered the iCare finance plan — a program that requires patients to pay 30 percent down as well as a fee of 15 percent of the total procedure cost. The number of participating providers has since risen to 4,200. Russell A. Salton, the chief executive of Access One MedCard, a credit card company in Charlotte, N.C., said demand for specialized cards — the MedCard has an annual interest rate of 9.25 percent — is driven by providers interested in removing an “obstacle to providing valuable care.” The company says the number of hospitals offering its credit cards has grown about 25 percent a year in recent years.

While neither national medical or dental associations have formal policies, ADA Business Enterprises, a profit-making arm of the American Dental Association that connects dentists and businesses, endorses G.E.’s CareCredit, whose cards are used by more than seven million people nationwide.

“Cardholders tell us they like using CareCredit because it gives them the ability to plan, budget and pay for certain elective health care procedures over time,” said Cristy Williams, the spokeswoman for CareCredit. She said the company had improved consumer protections, going so far as to telephone “senior cardholders with significant first transactions to confirm their understanding of the program and terms.”

She said roughly 80 percent of patients who opted for the deferred interest paid off their debts before they were charged any interest. She and others in the industry said the credit cards and credit lines had helped patients afford otherwise prohibitively expensive care not paid for at all, or in its entirety, by insurance providers.

But state authorities and care advocates in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan and elsewhere say that older people — many of them grappling with dwindling savings and mounting debt — are running into trouble with medical credit cards and loans.

“The cards prey on seniors’ trust,” said Lisa Landau, who heads the health care unit at the New York attorney general’s office.

Minnesota’s attorney general, Lori Swanson, is investigating the use of medical credit cards, which she said could come with “hidden tripwires and other perils.”

Interviews with patients, along with the review of contracts and lawsuits, show just how significant those perils can be.

Carl Dorsey, 74, recalled his experience at Aspen Dental Management, a nationwide chain that has come under scrutiny for its practices. Mr. Dorsey said that after a dentist at Aspen’s office in Seekonk, Mass., told him that he needed dentures, at a cost of $2,634, he was urged to take out a medical credit card. He was charged the full cost upfront, financial statements reviewed by The Times show. Mr. Dorsey, who made about $800 a month working as a used-car salesman, in addition to receiving Social Security, has since fallen behind on his payments. The lapse set off a penalty interest rate of nearly 30 percent. Mr. Dorsey said he was being pursued by debt collectors.

“This whole ordeal has been devastating,” said Mr. Dorsey, who along with other patients is part of a civil lawsuit filed against Aspen in a federal court in upstate New York. He said he still needed dentures, noting that the ones he received from Aspen were unusable.

Diane Koi-Thompson said that her father, Harold Koi-Than, did not realize that he had signed up for a CareCredit card during a dental visit. She said Mr. Koi-Than, 82, was shocked when a company representative called his home near Niagara Falls, N.Y., saying he had missed a payment. “My dad had no idea he had a credit card, let alone that he was behind on it,” Ms. Koi-Thompson said. She said her father was upset because he is normally meticulous with his finances and thought his memory was failing. Mr. Koi-Than, through a family member, was able to cancel the credit card.

The industry’s growth is being driven by people seeking dental care and devices like hearing aids, which are not covered by Medicare.

Dental care is a large and expensive gulf, according to Tricia Neuman, the director of Medicare policy research at the Kaiser Family Foundation. The new federal health care law, she said, will not change that. “Lack of dental coverage remains a huge concern and expense,” Ms. Neuman said.

Working with care providers, financial services companies have rushed to fill the void. To make medical cards attractive, some companies offer them without checking patients’ credit histories. The cards can be arranged in minutes, with no upfront charges. Such features are attractive selling points.

“Your patient does not require good credit,” First Health Funding of Salt Lake City, Utah says on its Web site. On the site of another lender, the words “No Credit Check” flash in bright letters. First Health Funding did not respond to requests for comment.

Lawyers and others who assist patients say such features make it easy for people who are already on a weak financial footing to take on new debt.

“Ultimately, this credit facilitates a bad financial decision that will haunt a patient because it adds to indebtedness,” said Ellen Cheek, who runs a legal help line for older people through Bay Area Legal Services in Tampa, Fla.

Such critics also say that because there are no industrywide standards for pricing care — costs vary from practice to practice — the cards could encourage providers to charge more for treatment.

Brian Cohen, the lawyer representing Mr. Dorsey, said the cards enabled providers to “bill whatever they want for care, regardless of whether the cost is reasonable.”

State authorities say health care finance in general, and medical credit cards in particular, are a growing worry. In 2010, Aspen Dental, the chain where Mr. Dorsey signed up for a card, reached a settlement with Pennsylvania authorities over claims that, among other things, it had failed to tell patients that missing a payment would mean the rate would rocket from zero to nearly 30 percent. A review of court records and online forums shows hundreds of customer complaints against Aspen, which is based in Syracuse. A civil case brought on behalf of customers is pending in a federal court in upstate New York.

Kasey Pickett, a spokeswoman for Aspen, which is fighting the lawsuit, said the accusations were “entirely without merit.”

Aspen provides mandatory training for office employees who discuss financing with patients, according to Ms. Pickett. “We know that for many patients,” she said, “the availability of third-party financing may be the only way that they are able to afford the care they need.”


2) American Indian Group Puts the Racism of Some Sports Logos Into Context
October 9, 2013
By Ben Cornfield


The graphic you see here may look like something out of The Onion, but it is dead serious. The National Congress of American Indians has produced an image putting the racially-charged stereotypes of sports organizations into a pretty simple context.

No one would ever think to call a New York sports franchise “The Jews” and make its logo a giant smiling face of a man with dark hair and wearing a kippah. The same goes for a “Chinamen” team in San Francisco.

So why is it alright for the Major League baseball team in Cleveland to call itself the “Indians?”
Further, the red-skinned, big-toothed logo of an American Indian is not an imaginary, satirical illustration like the “Jew” and the “Chinaman.” Rather, it is actually the Indians’ team logo.
But it looks quite a bit like the first two, doesn’t it?



3)  Rolling the Dice on Food-Borne Illnesses
October 11, 2013

The government shutdown has caused staff reductions at two important federal health agencies, increasing the risk of serious harm to American consumers from food-borne illnesses. The two agencies — the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — have decided to focus their remaining resources on imminent threats. But they have shut down very important work that allows them to spot potentially serious problems in advance and take steps to head them off. The longer Congressional Republicans allow the shutdown to continue, the greater the danger of harm.

The F.D.A., which regulates most of the food Americans eat, has furloughed about 6,620 about of its 14,800 employees. The agency is no longer conducting routine inspections in this country or abroad of food manufacturers, warehouses, packers, distributors and other key links in the food production chain. It had planned to average 200 routine inspections a week.

In addition, it will not be able to conduct routine analyses of imported foods to look for potential problems or monitor imports that have been found to carry dangerous germs or contaminants in the past, such as seafood, infant formula, and fruits and vegetables. The agency is focusing on pathogens that cause immediate illness rather than longer-term threats like arsenic in rice, on which all assessment work has stopped.

Only skeleton crews are monitoring databases, including consumer complaint reports, that often provide evidence of emerging threats. Even if warning signals are detected, the agency does not have the staff to look deeply into the problem. Instead, it is limited to “for cause” inspections of food-borne illness episodes in which there is evidence of an imminent threat to health or life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which looks at disease outbreaks rather than at food products, has furloughed about 9,000 of its 13,000 employees, leaving only 4,000 on the job. Important programs have been stripped bare of expertise.

A floor that used to accommodate up to 100 people had only 1 person at work in midweek — the last member of a 23-person reference laboratory to identify gastrointestinal infections.

A small outbreak response team and a small unit monitoring drug resistance among microbes had nobody at work. Another huge floor that combines the results of many different C.D.C. laboratories was completely empty.

The agency is doing its best to respond to known crises. It is working along with the Agriculture Department on a salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 300 people in 20 states and Puerto Rico, and it has recalled 10 furloughed workers who were needed to investigate this and other outbreaks. But many of the C.D.C.’s monitoring programs have been scaled back or stopped, leaving worries that the agency could miss the next big crisis. The theory of a shutdown is that all but essential workers will be furloughed. But the vast majority of workers in these agencies do work that is necessary to protect the public from harm.


4) In Indonesia, Environmentalists See a Disaster in the Making
October 11, 2013

KALUL VILLAGE, Indonesia — Near a palm oil plantation here, bulldozers and chainsaws can be heard in what is officially “protected forest.” The hilly terrain is not ideal for large-scale agriculture, but with few areas left for expansion, the loggers are denuding the land anyway.

Aceh, the northern province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is a region made famous by separatist conflict and natural disasters, calamities that long held back economic development but helped preserve one of the world’s richest ecosystems. Now conservationists say the rapid clearing of virgin forest is paving the way for environmental catastrophe, turning critically endangered orangutans, tigers and elephants into refugees, and triggering landslides and flash floods.

Much of the current activity is illegal, they say, but if a land-use plan proposed by Aceh’s governor, Zaini Abdullah, is approved by the national government, currently protected forests could be rezoned as “production forests,” paving the way for logging, palm oil and mining concessions. The Aceh government argues that the change is needed to develop the local economy.

“They are very eager to build new roads and open up forests,” said Muhammad Zulfikar, of the Indonesian Forum for Environment, or Walhi, a nongovernmental organization opposed to the governor’s plan. “The government must see things not only from a political or investment point of view. What would be the point of investing if it only leads to natural disaster in the future?”

Mr. Zaini’s proposal is part of a startling shift by an Aceh government dominated by former separatist rebels who once billed themselves as protectors of the region’s natural environment against outside exploitation. It also illustrates a wider problem facing Indonesia, where the tightly centralized power structure of the late authoritarian leader Suharto has given way over the past 15 years to considerable local control. Nowhere is that more the case than in Aceh, where the 2005 peace accord between the Indonesian government and rebels of the Free Aceh Movement granted the region special autonomy.

“The regional autonomy law gives the power to mayors or regents to manage their affairs, to give concessions, to issue licenses related to economic activity,” said Mas Achmad Santosa, legal adviser to a presidential working group tasked with monitoring Indonesia’s forests.

A recent study by Greenomics, a Jakarta-based policy institute that researches forest management, determined that unauthorized permits for mining and palm oil plantations — meaning they were issued by local officials without approval at the national level — have affected more than 520,000 hectares, or 1.3 million acres, of protected forest in Aceh. Elfian Effendi, the executive director of Greenomics, called the proposed Aceh plan “an effort to legitimize illegal permit operations.” Protected forests currently account for about 1.84 million hectares of land in Aceh. There are about 32 million hectares of protected forest throughout Indonesia.

Indonesia has one of the world’s fastest rates of deforestation, much of it to make way for palm oil plantations. From 1990 to 2010, 20 percent of forest area was lost, according to a report by the United Nations.

In 2010, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono declared a freeze on new logging concessions as part of a deal with Norway, which agreed to pay Indonesia up to $1 billion for progress toward reducing deforestation. In May, Mr. Yudhoyono extended the ban to 2015.

But critics note that the moratorium applies only to new concessions, while weak governance and a complex structure of forest management leave nominally protected areas open to exploitation. For example, local governments can request that the National Development Planning Agency rezone protected areas they consider vital to economic growth.

Aceh is a case that stands out because its history of separatist uprisings eventually led to the special autonomy that has left Jakarta hesitant to intervene in how the local government manages natural resources.

“It’s quite a careful balancing act the national government has to do in accommodating Acehnese aspirations, but also imposing national law,” said John McCarthy, a senior lecturer on environment and development at Australian National University.

For decades, the separatist rebellion spared Aceh from some of the deforestation taking place elsewhere in Indonesia. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed an estimated 170,000 people and left half a million homeless in Aceh alone, further stymied development. But it also paved the way for the peace accord that ended the fighting and put the former rebels in charge of the devastated region.

Irwandi Yusuf, who served as governor from 2007 to 2012, was among them. Known to make surprise visits to logging concessions and comb forests in search of illegal chainsaws, Mr. Irwandi was the “green governor” who pledged to preserve Aceh’s rain forests.

He did so by embracing a United Nations-backedcarbon-trading plan that aimed to reduce deforestation and inject much-needed money into the economy. In 2007, he barred companies from clearing primary forest or peatland. Three years later, he proposed a land-use plan that would increase the amount of protected forest by 1 million hectares.

In 2011, however, he changed course, allowing the palm oil company PT Kallista Alam to develop a peat swamp inside the Tripa conservation zone, home to endangered Sumatran orangutans.

The move caused an uproar among conservationists, who alleged that the concession violated national law. Mr. Irwandi defended his decision, saying the money expected from projects aimed at reducing deforestation had not materialized, in part because of bureaucratic delays at the national level. One environmental group has taken the case to court. But it marked the beginning of a transition from a leadership focused on environmental protection to one that gave precedence to economic development.

“A lot of people in Aceh never accepted that such a large area of their homeland should be locked up by conservationists,” said Mr. McCarthy. Many had hoped to cash in by brokering deals for access to Aceh’s natural resources. He said Mr. Irwandi had supported conservation as a means of development, but when the carbon scheme failed to pay, he abandoned it.

His successor, Mr. Zaini, has proved no more environmentally friendly. Shortly after taking office in June 2012, he dissolved a management body tasked with ensuring conservation inside the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the last places where the Sumatran elephant, rhinoceros, tiger and orangutan live together. Conservationists say it is no longer possible to monitor what is happening in the forests.

“People are up to grab what they can while they can,” said Dr. Ian Singleton, the head of conservation at the environmental organization PanEco and director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program. The program’s orangutan rehabilitation center, built to accommodate about 25 animals, currently has double that number, largely because of the increase in forest clearing, Dr. Singleton said.

Mr. Zaini’s proposal to the national government would revise a land-use plan enacted in 2000. Officials who helped draft the proposal say the changes are needed to accommodate expanding human settlements and infrastructure development.

“The population has grown a lot since the previous spatial plan was drafted,” said Martunis Muhammad, the head of investment and development financing at Aceh’s development planning agency, Bappeda. “The changes need to account for changes in land-use patterns.”

Under the proposed plan, Mr. Martunis said, some protected forest will be reclassified as production forest, allowing communities to cultivate the land they live on. He concedes that the plan would reduce the protected forest area but says it would not violate a national law designating the Leuser Ecosystem as off limits to human activity. “The spatial plan is aimed at guiding the development of Aceh, while protecting the environment,” he said.

Even if the plan is not approved, Dr. Singleton said, without decisive action from the national government, plantations will continue to encroach on protected areas. “It’s now all open for business,” he said.




5) Missouri: Propofol Use in Execution Is Rejected
October 11, 2013

Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday halted what was to have been the first execution in the United States to use propofol, after threats from the European Union to limit exports of the drug if it was used to carry out the death penalty. Mr. Nixon ordered the Department of Corrections to come up with a different way to perform lethal injections without propofol, the leading anesthetic used in America’s hospitals and clinics. Most of the nation’s propofol comes from Europe. Drug makers have stopped selling potentially lethal drugs to prisons and corrections departments because they do not want them used in executions.



6) It’s Not Only Mothers and Children
October 12, 2013

For impoverished Americans, the biggest obstacle to health insurance remains the refusal of 26 mostly Republican-led states to expand their Medicaid programs as called for under the health reform law. As a result, up to an estimated eight million people will get no help at all because they earn too little to buy subsidized coverage on the new insurance exchanges and too much to qualify for Medicaid in states that won’t expand their programs.

Many of the excluded are poor children and their parents. Most, however, are childless adults, generally defined as those age 19 to 64 without dependent children. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, at least four million childless adults living near or below the poverty line will be denied coverage in the holdout states. Of those, 60 percent are men. They are part of a population of 26 million impoverished adults in the United States, of whom 16 million are childless.

Traditionally, Medicaid, and other government anti-poverty programs, have largely ignored childless adults under the antiquated rationale that only children, their parents, older Americans and the disabled are deserving of help. The sheer number of childless adults in poverty defies that notion, as does compassion and economic necessity — an economy cannot thrive with a significant share of the working-age population stuck in poverty.

That is why one of health reform’s greatest goals is to extend Medicaid to all low-income childless adults with the federal government paying all of the costs for three years and at least 90 percent after that. The refusal of many states to go along undermines that important step forward.

The system fails to meet the needs of the poor and childless in other ways, including:

EARNED-INCOME TAX CREDITS This federal benefit is designed to boost the tax refunds of low-income workers to ensure that their incomes are above the poverty line. But low-income childless workers under age 25 are ineligible and those over age 25 face income cutoffs and other restrictions that result in puny or nonexistent credits. For example, a childless worker over age 25 with wages at the poverty line, projected at $11,905 in 2013, qualifies for a credit of only $186, despite having a federal tax bill of roughly $1,000 to $1,800, depending on how payroll taxes are counted. Bills introduced by Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate would make rule changes to strengthen the credit for childless workers; such reforms should be a central component of any budget agreement.

FOOD STAMPS A severe rule in the federal law for food stamps, introduced as part of the welfare reforms of 1996, limits benefits for unemployed childless adults age 18 to 50, to three months out of every three years. An exception lets unemployed childless workers receive food stamps if they are enrolled in a job-training program, but many people cannot get into job training because federal money for such programs is extremely limited.

Under the law, states can secure waivers from this rule for high-unemployment areas, but House Republicans have attempted to eliminate this waiver provision in their drive to cut tens of billions of dollars from the food stamp program. The rules that govern food stamps should be based on evidence of need, not on arbitrary judgments about who is needy based on family configuration.

Looming cutbacks to state and federal unemployment benefits will also harm many childless low-income adults because many who lose their jobs end up unemployed for a long time. At the same time, state general assistance programs, which provide a safety net for those who do not qualify for other public aid have been severely reduced by budget cuts enacted during the recession. In today’s high-unemployment, low-wage and deeply unequal economy, childless adults are not immune to severe hardship and should not be disqualified from help.



7) The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath
October 12, 2013

OAKLAND, Calif. — The kitchen counter in the home of the Hayes family is scattered with the inhalers, sprays and bottles of pills that have allowed Hannah, 13, and her sister, Abby, 10, to excel at dance and gymnastics despite a horrific pollen season that has set off asthma attacks, leaving the girls struggling to breathe.

Asthma — the most common chronic disease that affects Americans of all ages, about 40 million people — can usually be well controlled with drugs. But being able to afford prescription medications in the United States often requires top-notch insurance or plenty of disposable income, and time to hunt for deals and bargains.

The arsenal of medicines in the Hayeses’ kitchen helps explain why. Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented.

“The one that really blew my mind was the nasal spray,” said Robin Levi, Hannah and Abby’s mother, referring to her $80 co-payment for Rhinocort Aqua, a prescription drug that was selling for more than $250 a month in Oakland pharmacies last year but costs under $7 in Europe, where it is available over the counter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the annual cost of asthma in the United States at more than $56 billion, including millions of potentially avoidable hospital visits and more than 3,300 deaths, many involving patients who skimped on medicines or did without.

“The thing is that asthma is so fixable,” said Dr. Elaine Davenport, who works in Oakland’s Breathmobile, a mobile asthma clinic whose patients often cannot afford high prescription costs. “All people need is medicine and education.”

With its high prescription prices, the United States spends far more per capita on medicines than other developed countries. Drugs account for 10 percent of the country’s $2.7 trillion annual health bill, even though the average American takes fewer prescription medicines than people in France or Canada, said Gerard Anderson, who studies medical pricing at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Americans also use more generic medications than patients in any other developed country. The growth of generics has led to cheap pharmacy specials — under $7 a month — for some treatments for high cholesterol and high blood pressure, as well as the popular sleeping pill Ambien.

But many generics are still expensive, even if insurers are paying the bulk of the bill. Generic Augmentin, one of the most common antibiotics, retails for $80 to $120 for a 10-day prescription ($400 for the brand-name version). Generic Concerta, a mainstay of treating attention deficit disorder, retails for $75 to $150 per month, even with pharmacy discount coupons. For some conditions, including asthma, there are few generics available.

While the United States is famous for break-the-bank cancer drugs, the high price of many commonly used medications contributes heavily to health care costs and certainly causes more widespread anguish, since many insurance policies offer only partial coverage for medicines.

In 2012, generics increased in price an average of 5.3 percent, and brand-name medicines by more than 25 percent, according to a recent study by the Health Care Cost Institute, reflecting the sky-high prices of some newer drugs for cancer and immune diseases.

While prescription drug spending fell slightly last year, in part because of the recession, it is expected to rise sharply as the economy recovers and as millions of Americans become insured under the Affordable Care Act, said Murray Aitken, the executive director of IMS Health, a leading tracker of pharmaceutical trends.

Unlike other countries, where the government directly or indirectly sets an allowed national wholesale price for each drug, the United States leaves prices to market competition among pharmaceutical companies, including generic drug makers. But competition is often a mirage in today’s health care arena — a surprising number of lifesaving drugs are made by only one manufacturer — and businesses often successfully blunt market forces.

Asthma inhalers, for example, are protected by strings of patents — for pumps, delivery systems and production processes — that are hard to skirt to make generic alternatives, even when the medicines they contain are old, as they almost all are.

The repatenting of older drugs like some birth control pills, insulin and colchicine, the primary treatment for gout, has rendered medicines that once cost pennies many times more expensive.

“The increases are stunning, and it’s very injurious to patients,” said Dr. Robert Morrow, a family practitioner in the Bronx. “Colchicine is a drug you could find in Egyptian mummies.”

Pharmaceutical companies also buttress high prices by choosing to sell a medicine by prescription, rather than over the counter, so that insurers cover a price tag that would be unacceptable to consumers paying full freight. They even pay generic drug makers not to produce cut-rate competitors in a controversial scheme called pay for delay.

Thanks in part to the $250 million last year spent on lobbying for pharmaceutical and health products — more than even the defense industry — the government allows such practices. Lawmakers in Washington have forbidden Medicare, the largest government purchaser of health care, to negotiate drug prices. Unlike its counterparts in other countries, the United States Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which evaluates treatments for coverage by federal programs, is not allowed to consider cost comparisons or cost-effectiveness in its recommendations. And importation of prescription medicines from abroad is illegal, even personal purchases from mail-order pharmacies.

“Our regulatory and approval system seems constructed to achieve high-priced outcomes,” said Dr. Peter Bach, the director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “We don’t give any reason for drug makers to charge less.”

And taxpayers and patients bear the consequences.

California’s Medicaid program spent $61 million on asthma medicines last year, paying more than $200 — not far from full retail price — for many inhalers. At the Breathmobile clinic in Oakland, the parents of Bella Buyanurt, 7, fretted about how they would buy her medications since the family lost Medicaid coverage. Barbara Wolf, 73, a retired Oakland school administrator covered by Medicare, said she used her inhaler sparingly, adding, “I minimize puffs to minimize cost.”

‘A Frustrating Saga’

Hannah and Abby Hayes were admitted to the hospital on separate occasions in 2005 with severe shortness of breath. Oakland, a city subject to pollution from its freeways and a busy seaport, has four times the hospital admission rate for asthma as elsewhere in California.

The asthma rate nationwide among African-Americans and people of mixed racial backgrounds is about 20 percent higher than the average.

Robin Levi, a Stanford-trained lawyer who works for Students Rising Above, a group that helps low-income students attend college, is black. Her husband, John Hayes, an economist, is white. Their daughters have allergic asthma that is set off by animals, grass and weeds, but they also get wheezy when they have a cold.

“That first year, I had to take a lot of time from my job to deal with the asthma drugs, the prices, arguing with insurers — it was a frustrating saga,” Ms. Levi said.

For decades, the backbone of treatment for asthma has centered on inhaled medicines. The first step is a bronchodilator, which relaxes the muscles surrounding small airways to open them. For people who use this type of rescue inhaler frequently, doctors add an inhaled steroid as a maintenance drug to prevent inflammation and ward off attacks. The two medicines are often mixed in a single combination inhaler for adults, and these products are especially pricey. In addition, many patients, particularly children, take pills as well as nasal sprays that calm allergies that set off the condition.

While on medication, neither Hayes girl has been in the hospital since her initial diagnosis. Their mother tweaks dosing, adding extra medicine if they have a cold or plan to ride horses.

For most patients, asthma medicines are life-changing. In economic terms, that means demand for the medicines is inelastic. Unlike a treatment for acne that a patient might drop if the price became too high, asthma patients will go to great lengths to obtain their drugs.

For pharmaceutical companies, that has made these respiratory medicines blockbusters: the two best-selling combination inhalers, Advair and Symbicort, had global sales of $8 billion and $3 billion last year. Each inhaler, typically lasting a month, retails for $250 to $350 in the United States.

Asked to explain the high price of inhalers, the two major manufacturers say the calculus is complicated.

“Our pricing is competitive with other asthma treatments currently on the market,” Michele Meixell, the United States spokeswoman for AstraZeneca, which makes Symbicort and other asthma drugs, said in an e-mail. She added that low-income patients without insurance could apply for free drugs from the company.

Juan Carlos Molina, the director of external communication for GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Advair, said in an e-mail that the price of medicines was “closely linked to this country’s model for delivery of care,” which assumes that health insurance will pick up a significant part of the cost. An average co-payment for Advair for commercially insured patients is $30 to $45 a month, he added.

Even with good insurance, the Hayeses expect to spend nearly $1,000 this year on their daughters’ asthma medicines; their insurer spent much more than that. The total would have been more than $4,000 if the insurer had paid retail prices in Oakland, but the final tally is not clear because the insurer contracts with Medco, a prescription benefits company that negotiates with drug makers for undisclosed discounts.

Patent Plays

Dr. Dana Goldman, the director of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California, said: “Producing these drugs is cheap. And yet we are paying very high prices.” He added that because inhalers were so effective at keeping patients out of hospitals, most national health systems made sure they were free or inexpensive.

But in the United States, even people with insurance coverage struggle. Lisa Solod, 57, a freelance writer in Georgia, uses her inhaler once a day, instead of twice, as usually prescribed, since her insurance does not cover her asthma medicines. John Aravosis, 49, a political blogger in Washington, buys a few Advair inhalers at $45 each during vacations in Paris, since his insurance caps prescription coverage at $1,500 per year. Sharon Bondroff, 68, an antiques dealer in Maine on Medicare, scrounges samples of Advair from local doctors. Ms. Bondroff remembers a time, not so long ago, when inhalers “were really cheap.” The sticker shock for asthma patients began several years back when the federal government announced that it would require manufacturers of spray products to remove chlorofluorocarbon propellants because they harmed the environment. That meant new inhaler designs. And new patents. And skyrocketing prices.

“That decision bumped out the generics,” said Dr. Peter Norman, a pharmaceutical consultant based in Britain who specializes in respiratory drugs. “Suddenly sales of the branded products went right back up, and since then it has not been a very competitive market.”

The chlorofluorocarbon ban even eliminated Primatene Mist inhalers, a cheap over-the-counter spray of epinephrine that had many unpleasant side effects but was at least an effective remedy for those who could not afford prescription treatments.

As drugs age and lose patent protection, the costs of treatment can fall significantly because of generic competition — particularly if a pill has only one active ingredient and is simple to replicate. When Singulair, a pill the Hayes girls take daily to block allergic reactions in the lungs, lost its patent protection last year, generics rapidly entered the market. The price of the drug has already dropped from $180 per month to as low as $15 to $20 with pharmacy coupons.

But sprays, creams, patches, gels and combination medicines are more difficult to copy exactly to make a generic that meets Food and Drug Administration standards. Each time a molecule is put in a new inhaler or combined with another medicine, the amount delivered into the lungs or through the skin may change, even though that often has an imperceptible effect on patients.

“Drug companies can switch devices and use different combinations, and it becomes quite difficult to demonstrate equivalence,” Dr. Norman said, adding that inhaler makers have exploited such barriers to increase sales of medicines long after the scientific novelty has passed.

Obstacles for Generics

A result is that there are no generic asthma inhalers available in the United States. But they are available in Europe, where health regulators have been more flexible about mixing drugs and devices and where courts have been quicker to overturn drug patent protection.

“The high prices in the U.S. are because the F.D.A. has set the bar so high that there is no clear pathway for generics,” said Lisa Urquhart of EvaluatePharma, a consulting firm based in London that provides drug and biotech analysis. “I’m sure the brands are thrilled.”

The F.D.A. acknowledges that the lack of inhaled generic medicines, as well as topical creams, has been costly for patients, but it attributes that to “difficult, longstanding scientific challenges,” since measuring drug activity deep into the lung is complicated, said Sandy Walsh, a spokeswoman for the agency. Dr. Robert Lionberger, the agency’s acting deputy director in the office of generic drugs, said that research into the development of generic inhaled medicines was the agency’s highest priority but that the effort had been stalled because of budget cuts imposed by Congress.

Even so, experts say, a significant problem is that none of the agencies that determine whether medicines come to market in the United States are required to consider patient access, affordability or need.

The Food and Drug Administration has handed out patents to reward drug makers for conducting formal safety and efficacy studies on old drugs that had not been so scrutinized. That transformed cheap mainstays of treatment like colchicine for gout and intravenous hydroxyprogesterone for preterm labor into high-priced branded products, costing $5 a pill and $1,500 per dose.

For its part, the United States patent office grants new protections for tweaks to drugs without weighing the financial impact on patients.

For example, with the patent for the older oral contraceptive Loestrin 24Fe about to expire, the company Warner Chilcott stopped making the pill this year and introduced a chewable version — with a new patent and an expensive promotional campaign urging patients and doctors to switch. While many insurance plans covered the popular older drug with little or no co-payment, they often exclude the new pills, leaving patients covering the full monthly cost of about $100. Patients complained that the new pills tasted awful and were confused about whether they could just be swallowed.

“Drug patents are easy to get, and the patent office is deluged,” said Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a pharmaceutical policy expert at Harvard Medical School. “The F.D.A. approves based on safety and efficacy. It doesn’t see its role as policing this process.”

For asthma patients in the United States, the best the market has yielded are a few faux generics that are often only marginally cheaper than the brand-name versions. AstraZeneca, for example, has an agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals, a generic manufacturer, to make an approved generic version of its Pulmicort Respules, an asthma medicine for home inhalation treatments. Teva paid AstraZeneca more than $250 million last year in royalties to make a generic, which sells for about $200 for a typical monthly dose, compared with close to $300 for the branded product.

Research vs. Marketing

There are good reasons drug companies are feeling threatened. In the last several years, some best-selling medicines, like Lipitor for high cholesterol and Plavix for blood thinning, have been largely replaced by cheap generics in a very competitive market. In 2012, that led to $29 billion in savings for patients, said Mr. Aitken of IMS, or $29 billion in lost revenues for drug makers. Eighty-four percent of prescriptions dispensed last year were for generic medications.

While drug companies generally remain highly profitable, recent trends have meant tough times for some companies, including Merck, whose profits crashed 50 percent this year primarily because the patent expired on its best-selling asthma pill, Singulair.

So AstraZeneca has recently spent millions of dollars in court pursuing several small drug companies for patent infringement after they announced a plan to make a true cheap generic version of Pulmicort Respules. Though a New Jersey judge sided with the generic manufacturers this spring, legal appeals by AstraZeneca will keep the generics off the market for the near future.

As insurance policies require patients to contribute more out of pocket for medicines, public pressure to curb prices has grown. This year, more than 100 top cancer specialists protested the rising prices of cancer treatments.

Drug companies have long argued that pharmaceutical pricing reflects the cost of developing and testing innovative new drugs, many of which do not pan out or make it to market.

“When there’s a really innovative product, you might be able to justify the price,” Dr. Kesselheim said. “But this is not generally the case.”

Critics counter that drug companies spend far more on marketing and sales than the 15 percent and 20 percent of their revenues that they devote to research and development.

In the United States, one of the few Western countries that allows advertising of prescription drugs to consumers, GlaxoSmithKline spent $99 million in advertising for Advair in 2012. Despite its financial woes, Merck spent $46.3 million to advertise its steroid spray, Nasonex, according to fiercepharma.com, a Web site that tracks the industry’s advertising.

Also, the focus of much pharmaceutical research in recent years has shifted from simple drugs for common diseases that would have widespread use to complicated molecules that would most likely benefit fewer patients but carry far higher price tags, in the realm of tens of thousands of dollars.

The newest offering for asthma is Novartis’s Xolair, which is given by injection in a doctor’s office every two weeks at a cost of up to $1,500, depending on the dose. Because the drug is so expensive and was deemed to have little or no benefit over inhalers for a vast majority of patients, the British government last year announced that it would not make it available through the National Health Service. It relented this year, agreeing to stock it for limited use, after the manufacturer offered a confidential discount.

In all other developed countries, governments similarly use a variety of tools to make sure that drug manufacturers sell their products at affordable prices. In Germany, regulators set drug wholesale and retail prices. Across Europe, national health authorities refuse to pay more than their neighbors for any drug. In Japan, the price of a drug must go down every two years.

Drug prices in the United States are instead set in hundreds of negotiations by hospitals, insurers and pharmacies with drug manufacturers, with deals often brokered by powerful middlemen called group purchasing organizations and pharmacy benefit managers, who leverage their huge size to demand discounts. The process can get nasty; if mediators offer too little for a given product, manufacturers may decide not to produce it or permanently drop out of the market, reducing competition.

With such jockeying determining supply, products can simply disappear and prices for vital medicines can fluctuate far more than they do for a carton of milk. After the price of Abby Hayes’s Rhinocort Aqua nasal spray rose abruptly, it was unavailable for many months. That sent her family scrambling to find other prescription sprays, each with a price tag over $150.

This year the price of Advair dropped 10 percent in France, but in pharmacies in the Bronx, it has doubled in the last two years.

In Georgia, Ms. Solod, the freelance writer, found the same thing. “Every time I get Advair, the price is different,” she said. “And the price always goes up. It never comes down.”

Twenty years ago, drugs that could safely be sold directly to patients typically moved off the prescription model as their patent life ended. That brought valuable medicines like nondrowsy antihistamines and acid reducers to drugstore shelves. But with profitable prescription products now selling for $100 per tiny bottle, there is little incentive to make the switch, since over-the-counter drugs rarely succeed if they cost more than $20.

As a result, a number of products that are sold directly to patients in other countries remain available only by prescription in the United States. That includes a version of the popular but expensive steroid nasal spray used by Abby Hayes, which is available over the counter in London for under $15 at the Boots pharmacy chain.

“Not only is the cost cheaper, but it doesn’t require a doctor’s visit to get it,” said Dr. Jan Lotvall, a professor of allergy and immunology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, where steroid nasal sprays are also available over the counter.

During this high pollen season, Abby had to cut short a gymnastics practice, and her sister, Hannah, missed one day of school because of breathing problems, the first time in many years. But with parents who can afford to get the medicine they require, both are now doing fine.

That is not true of two other sisters from Oakland whom their mother mentors. With treatment hard to access and drug prices high, Kemonni and Donzahnya Pitre, 19 and 17, simply suffer and struggle to breathe. As Donzahnya, a high school senior, looked through the Fiske Guide to Colleges at the Hayeses’ kitchen table one day, she had an unusual selection criterion: “I worry about going to a college that’s surrounded by a lot of grass.”



8) Fifth Grader Is Convicted in Murder Plot
October 12, 2013

COLVILLE, Wash. — An 11-year-old boy was convicted on Friday of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in a fifth-grade plot against a female classmate.

Judge Allen Nielsen of Stevens County Superior Court said on Friday that “simple anger” had fueled the plot, which the boy devised this year with a 10-year-old classmate at Fort Colville Elementary School in northeast Washington.

Staff members seized a handgun and a knife that the boys took to school on Feb. 7.

The judge, who called the trial “the most serious of my career,” rejected defense efforts to portray the boy as unable to separate fact from fiction.

After the verdict, the 11-year-old defendant was led from the courtroom in tears. He is due back in court on Nov. 8 for a sentencing hearing.

A defense lawyer said an appeal was planned.

“There is no joy in a conviction,” said the Stevens County prosecutor, Tim Rasmussen.

A school counselor, Debbie Rogers, testified on Friday about her interview with the boy on the day the weapons were discovered. The boy said that he was planning to stab the girl to death because she was “really annoying” and that the second boy was to point the gun at anyone who tried to intervene, Ms. Rogers said.

She said she saw no evidence that the 11-year-old boy was experiencing delusions that day.

The younger boy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and other charges. He was sentenced to three to five years in juvenile detention. The authorities discovered the plan when a fourth grader saw one of the boys playing with a knife aboard a school bus and told a school employee. A search of the 10-year-old’s backpack yielded a knife, a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol and a full ammunition magazine, court records showed.



9)'We Failed You, Marissa. Men Fail Women Like You Every Day.'
Men write about domestic violence experienced by women they know, in a weekly compilation of letters from the #31forMarissa project.

Editor's Note: A nationwide, month-long letter-writing campaign called #31forMarissa has just finished its second week. The campaign encourages men to write about domestic violence, sharing stories that deal with the action, reaction and inaction of men in their family or community, and the legacy of that behavior. The letters will be sent to Marissa Alexander, a Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years in jail after firing a warning shot at a wall near her abusive husband. Below is a compilation of excerpts from this past week’s letters. AlterNet will publish a weekly compilation of the letters each Friday. Click here [3] for more information on the campaign and to read the first full letter.

Dear Marissa from Kai M Green:

“…She let him in. He was different this time. Unapologetic. He came in like this was his house. But this was my house. No, this was my mom’s house and I would protect her. She was silent. I wanted her to fight. She was silent. They were both in bed. He turned off the light. Mom didn’t like the lights off. This was her house. He took the remote control and changed the channel. Cowboy. Action. Mom liked game shows and sitcoms. She looked blue. He looked red. Silent. I watched. This is my house. This is my mom’s house.

Triggers. I went downstairs and I grabbed a knife. Mom couldn’t do it. I thought I could take this man’s life. Power. I would take it by force. I stood in the doorway. Television glared through the darkness. I held the knife up so he could see. I HATE YOU! I declared.

Mom. Mom. I am here—don’t be scared.

Triggers. He got out the bed. Took my knife. Made me feel weak. You little B—, just like your mother! He left. I cried. Alone. Mom lay in the dark room, still. I recovered the knife and put it under my pillow…”

Read the full letter here [4].


Dear Marissa from Kiese:

“…12 minutes. That’s how long it takes me to prepare a pot of grits. 12 minutes. That’s three songs off of this shiny Drake album I’ve been trying to make myself appreciate. 12 minutes. That’s how long it took me to write the first three sentences of this letter. 12 fucking minutes. That’s how long it took a jury to convict you of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, though no one was harmed. 12 minutes. That’s how long it took a jury to convince themselves that you had no right to fear. ... What are the odds that a white American woman who shot at and missed a black American partner she claimed was threatening her would ever be convicted in these United States regardless the jury, prosecution, or defense … in 12 minutes? ...”

Read the full letter here [5].


Dear Marissa from James Wolf:

“…This man got into it with his wife, yet again. He cursed at her like he usually does right into their home. The woman yelled at him to leave her alone inside the trailer. They soon walked out, with him looking for and getting his baseball bat.

I decided to step in, unarmed. I got in his face and tried to calm him down once again, but he seemed too far gone in his rage as he cursed me out still holding the bat as if he’s prepared to swing. I didn’t care. I was also prepared for whatever happens. I was not leaving until this man chilled out or at least left the area. I should’ve tried to take the bat away from him in hindsight, but after a minute or so, he dropped the bat and left to go who knows where….”

Read the full letter here [6].


Dear Marissa from Jason:

“…I think about the neighbors who hear, the men who hear, the one next door to me, who heard. What about them? Dear Neighbor, I write this letter with hopes of a better tomorrow, but my reality tells me different. I decided to write you because as far as a man goes, you were the closest to me in my time of pain and need. You only lived two doors down from my doorway of hell. The look you would so often give me, instead of a simple hello or nod, let me know you knew we couldn’t defend ourselves. Oh how I wished to have your age and size, maybe I could fight back or long enough so my mom could get away for the night. I often felt like a fool thinking tears would stop him or his blows to my mother's face. She was knocked to the floor more times than I care to remember. How often did you hear our cries? Was it hard listening to our struggles? Did you feel less of a man for never helping? ...”

Read the full letter here [7].


Dear Marissa from Mychal:

"As strongly as I feel about guns, and as much I want to live in a world where they don’t exist, I know the way our world is currently constructed guns are the only thing bringing some folks peace of mind. There are women with a gun under the pillow or in the closet or the dresser drawer right now because that’s the only way they can sleep at night. They’ve experienced the same violence you were trying to protect yourself against. The threat is all too real and they are in charge of their protection. I thank God they have their guns. ...”

Read the full letter here [8].

All the letters from the #31forMarissa campaign can be read on theSWAGspot [9], a space created by Esther Armah's Emotional Justice Unplugged [10], for men by men to challenge issues around masculinity, rage, violence, fear, anger, forgiveness, emotionality and love.

To join the campaign or write a letter, email it to: theswagspot7@gmail.com [11].

#31forMarissa will host Google Hangouts on the topics of domestic violence, masculinity and men’s engagement in the movement. The first event took place Oct. 10, led by activist and author Jeff Johnson, with letter writers Darnell Moore and Kai Green.

Watch it here:



10) False Equality in Michigan
October 13, 2013

Can a state’s citizens amend the state constitution to ban affirmative action programs in public universities, even if the Supreme Court has approved those programs? That is the question the court is facing this week in the case of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.

The court last considered an affirmative action case out of Michigan in 2003, when it upheld the race-conscious admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School. In response to that ruling, opponents of affirmative action put on the ballot an amendment to the State Constitution banning any consideration of race or sex in public education. Michigan voters approved the amendment in 2006, and since then black undergraduate enrollment at the University of Michigan is down 33 percent.

Advocates of affirmative action sued the state on grounds that the amendment violates the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. They argued that it impermissibly altered the political process that determines admissions policies in a way that places special burdens on racial minorities.

For instance, an applicant who wants alumni connections to be considered in admissions could ask the admissions committee to adopt that policy, or she could lobby the university administration or its popularly elected governing board. But an applicant who wants the university to consider race as a factor has only one path available: to work to pass a new amendment that repeals the anti-affirmative-action amendment — which a federal appeals court called “a lengthy, expensive and arduous process.”

Michigan argues that the amendment does not violate equal protection since it treats all races the same. Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected that claim, striking down the amendment because it especially harms racial minorities — the primary beneficiaries of affirmative-action programs — by prohibiting them from asking a public university to consider their race. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in contrast, upheld a nearly identical 1996 amendment to the California Constitution; this conflict in the courts is one reason the justices are reviewing the issue.

This case is another reminder of the threat to minority rights posed by ballot initiatives, which can be prone to abuse. That was surely true in Michigan, where the process of gathering signatures to put the amendment on the ballot “was rife with fraud and deception,” according to the federal appeals court. In some cases, voters were tricked into believing that the measure actually supported affirmative action. The methods used by the amendment’s backers, the appeals court found, “undermine the integrity and fairness of our democratic processes.”

But even if the initiative process had been pure, the amendment would still be intolerable. The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that race-conscious admissions policies may further a compelling governmental interest in educational diversity. While the court does closely analyze how such policies are designed, it recognizes that universities have “experience and expertise” in judging the need for a diverse student body. This is exactly what the court did when it upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s policy in 2003. The court should uphold the Sixth Circuit’s decision striking down the amendment, and send a message to other states that they may not rig the game at the expense of minorities, even if they cloak it in the language of equality.



11) Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance
October 13, 2013

OAKLAND, Calif. — Federal grants of $7 million awarded to this city were meant largely to help thwart terror attacks at its bustling port. But instead, the money is going to a police initiative that will collect and analyze reams of surveillance data from around town — from gunshot-detection sensors in the barrios of East Oakland to license plate readers mounted on police cars patrolling the city’s upscale hills.

The new system, scheduled to begin next summer, is the latest example of how cities are compiling and processing large amounts of information, known as big data, for routine law enforcement. And the system underscores how technology has enabled the tracking of people in many aspects of life.

The police can monitor a fire hose of social media posts to look for evidence of criminal activities; transportation agencies can track commuters’ toll payments when drivers use an electronic pass; and the National Security Agency, as news reports this summer revealed, scooped up telephone records of millions of cellphone customers in the United States.

Like the Oakland effort, other pushes to use new surveillance tools in law enforcement are supported with federal dollars. The New York Police Department, aided by federal financing, has a big data system that links 3,000 surveillance cameras with license plate readers, radiation sensors, criminal databases and terror suspect lists. Police in Massachusetts have used federal money to buy automated license plate scanners. And police in Texas have bought a drone with homeland security money, something that Alameda County, which Oakland is part of, also tried but shelved after public protest.

Proponents of the Oakland initiative, formally known as the Domain Awareness Center, say it will help the police reduce the city’s notoriously high crime rates. But critics say the program, which will create a central repository of surveillance information, will also gather data about the everyday movements and habits of law-abiding residents, raising legal and ethical questions about tracking people so closely.

Libby Schaaf, an Oakland City Council member, said that because of the city’s high crime rate, “it’s our responsibility to take advantage of new tools that become available.” She added, though, that the center would be able to “paint a pretty detailed picture of someone’s personal life, someone who may be innocent.”

For example, if two men were caught on camera at the port stealing goods and driving off in a black Honda sedan, Oakland authorities could look up where in the city the car had been in the last several weeks. That could include stoplights it drove past each morning and whether it regularly went to see Oakland A’s baseball games.

For law enforcement, data mining is a big step toward more complete intelligence gathering. The police have traditionally made arrests based on small bits of data — witness testimony, logs of license plate readers, footage from a surveillance camera perched above a bank machine. The new capacity to collect and sift through all that information gives the authorities a much broader view of the people they are investigating.

For the companies that make big data tools, projects like Oakland’s are a big business opportunity. Microsoft built the technology for the New York City program. I.B.M. has sold data-mining tools for Las Vegas and Memphis.

Oakland has a contract with the Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, to build its system. That company has earned the bulk of its $12 billion in annual revenue from military contracts. As the federal military budget has fallen, though, SAIC has diversified to other government agency projects, though not without problems.

The company’s contract to help modernize the New York City payroll system, using new technology like biometric readers, resulted in reports of kickbacks. Last year, the company paid the city $500 million to avoid a federal prosecution. The amount was believed to be the largest ever paid to settle accusations of government contract fraud. SAIC declined to comment.

Even before the initiative, Oakland spent millions of dollars on traffic cameras, license plate readers and a network of sound sensors to pick up gunshots. Still, the city has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. And an internal audit in August 2012 found that the police had spent $1.87 million on technology tools that did not work properly or remained unused because their vendors had gone out of business.

The new center will be far more ambitious. From a central location, it will electronically gather data around the clock from a variety of sensors and databases, analyze that data and display some of the information on a bank of giant monitors.

The city plans to staff the center around the clock. If there is an incident, workers can analyze the many sources of data to give leads to the police, fire department or Coast Guard. In the absence of an incident, how the data would be used and how long it would be kept remain largely unclear.

The center will collect feeds from cameras at the port, traffic cameras, license plate readers and gunshot sensors. The center will also be integrated next summer with a database that allows police to tap into reports of 911 calls. Renee Domingo, the city’s emergency services coordinator, said school surveillance cameras, as well as video data from the regional commuter rail system and state highways, may be added later.

Far less advanced surveillance programs have elicited resistance at the local and state level. Iowa City, for example, recently imposed a moratorium on some surveillance devices, including license plate readers. The Seattle City Council forced its police department to return a federally financed drone to the manufacturer.

In Virginia, the state police purged a database of millions of license plates collected by cameras, including some at political rallies, after the state’s attorney general said the method of collecting and saving the data violated state law. But for a cash-starved city like Oakland, the expectation of more federal financing makes the project particularly attractive. The City Council approved the program in late July, but public outcry later compelled the council to add restrictions. The council instructed public officials to write a policy detailing what kind of data could be collected and protected, and how it could be used. The council expects the privacy policy to be ready before the center can start operations.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California described the program as “warrantless surveillance” and said “the city would be able to collect and stockpile comprehensive information about Oakland residents who have engaged in no wrongdoing.”

The port’s chief security officer, Michael O’Brien, sought to allay fears, saying the center was meant to hasten law-enforcement response time to crimes and emergencies. “It’s not to spy on people,” he said.

Steve Spiker, research and technology director at the Urban Strategies Council, an Oakland nonprofit organization that has examined the effectiveness of police technology tools, said he was uncomfortable with city officials knowing so much about his movements. But, he said, there is already so much public data that it makes sense to enable government officials to collect and analyze it for the public good. Still, he would like to know how all that data would be kept and shared. “What happens,” he wondered, “when someone doesn’t like me and has access to all that information?”



12) To Ousted Boss, Arms Watchdog Was Seen as an Obstacle in Iraq
October 13, 2013

PARIS — More than a decade before the international agency that monitors chemical weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize, John R. Bolton marched into the office of its boss to inform him that he would be fired.

“He told me I had 24 hours to resign,” said José Bustani, who was director general of the agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. “And if I didn’t I would have to face the consequences.”

Mr. Bolton, then an under secretary of state and later the American ambassador to the United Nations, told Mr. Bustani that the Bush administration was unhappy with his management style.

But Mr. Bustani, 68, who had been re-elected unanimously just 11 months earlier, refused, and weeks later, on April 22, 2002, he was ousted in a special session of the 145-nation chemical weapons watchdog.

The story behind his ouster has been the subject of interpretation and speculation for years, and Mr. Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat, has kept a low profile since then. But with the agency thrust into the spotlight with news of the Nobel Prize last week, Mr. Bustani agreed to discuss what he said was the real reason: the Bush administration’s fear that chemical weapons inspections in Iraq would conflict with Washington’s rationale for invading it. Several officials involved in the events, some speaking publicly about them for the first time, confirmed his account.

Mr. Bolton insists that Mr. Bustani was ousted for incompetence. In a telephone interview on Friday, he confirmed that he had confronted Mr. Bustani. “I told him if he left voluntarily we would give him a gracious and dignified exit,” he said.

As Mr. Bustani tells the story, the campaign against him began in late 2001, after Iraq and Libya had indicated that they wanted to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, the international treaty that the watchdog agency oversees. To join, countries have to provide a list of stockpiles and agree to the inspection and destruction of weapons, as Syria did last month after applying. Inspectors from the agency were making plans to visit Iraq in late January 2002, he said.

“We had a lot of discussions because we knew it would be difficult,” Mr. Bustani, who is now Brazil’s ambassador to France, said Friday in his embassy office in Paris. The plans, which he had conveyed to a number of countries, “caused an uproar in Washington,” he said. Soon, he was receiving warnings from American and other diplomats.

“By the end of December 2001, it became evident that the Americans were serious about getting rid of me,” he said. “People were telling me, ‘They want your head.’ ”

Mr. Bolton called on Mr. Bustani a second time. “I tried to persuade him not to put the organization through the vote,” Mr. Bolton said.

But still Mr. Bustani refused, and his fate was sealed. The United States had marshaled its allies, and at an extraordinary session, Mr. Bustani was ousted by a vote of 48 to 7, with 43 abstentions. He was reportedly the first head of an international organization to be pushed out of office this way, and some diplomats said the pressure campaign had made them uneasy.

Mr. Bolton’s office had also circulated a document that accused Mr. Bustani of abrasive conduct and taking “ill-considered initiatives” without consulting with the United States and other member nations, diplomats said.

But Mr. Bustani and some senior officials, both in Brazil and the United States, say Washington acted because it believed that the organization under Mr. Bustani threatened to become an obstacle to the administration’s plans to invade Iraq. As justification, Washington was claiming that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, possessed chemical weapons, but Mr. Bustani said his own experts had told him that those weapons were destroyed in the 1990s, after the Persian Gulf war.

“Everybody knew there weren’t any,” he said. “An inspection would make it obvious there were no weapons to destroy. This would completely nullify the decision to invade.”

Mr. Bolton disputed that account. “He made that argument after we invaded,” he said. Twice during the interview, Mr. Bolton said, “The kind of person who believes that argument is the kind who puts tin foil on his ears to ward off cosmic waves.”

But diplomats in The Hague said officials in Washington had circulated a document saying that the chemical weapons watchdog under Mr. Bustani was seeking an “inappropriate role in Iraq,” which was really a matter for the United Nations Security Council.

Avis Bohlen, a career diplomat who served as Mr. Bolton’s deputy before her retirement, said in a telephone interview from Washington on Saturday that others besides Mr. Bolton believed that Mr. Bustani had “stepped over some lines” in connection with Iraq and other matters. “The episode was very unpleasant for all concerned,” she said.

Speaking from São Paulo, Brazil, on Saturday, Celso Lafer, the former Brazilian foreign minister, said that in early 2002, he was asked to meet privately with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who a year earlier had praised Mr. Bustani’s leadership in a letter.

Mr. Lafer said Mr. Powell told him, “ ‘I have people in the administration who don’t want Bustani to stay, and my role is to inform you of this.’ ”

“It was a complicated process,” Mr. Lafer recalled, “with the United States and particularly John Bolton and Donald Rumsfeld wanting the head of Bustani.”

“My view,” he continued, “is that the neocons wanted the freedom to act without multilateral constraints and, with Bustani wanting to act with more independence, this would limit their freedom of action.”

Getting Mr. Bustani fired took some doing. Washington failed to obtain a no-confidence motion from the chemical weapons watchdog’s executive council. Then the United States, which was responsible for 22 percent of the agency’s budget at the time, threatened to cut off its financing and warned that several other countries, including Japan, would follow suit, diplomats have said.

Mr. Bustani recalled that the ambassador from Britain, one of the agency’s most committed member nations, told him that London had sent instructions to vote with Washington. With the United States and Japan covering almost half the budget, the organization ran the risk of collapsing, Mr. Bustani said.

On Friday, while fielding a flow of messages in his office, Mr. Bustani said he felt gratified about the Nobel Prize news and did not regret his days at the agency. “I had to start it from the beginning, create a code of conduct, a program of technical assistance,” he said. “We almost doubled the membership.”

He reflected on the contrast between Iraq and Syria. Inspectors from the agency are there now, cataloging the government’s stockpiles of chemical weapons as a step forward in Syria’s civil war, now in its third year. “In 2002, the U.S. was determined to oppose Iraq joining the convention against the weapons, which it did not even have,” he said. “This time, joining the convention and having the inspectors present is part of the Syrian peace plan. It is such a fundamental shift.”



13) Pulling Aid Away, Shutdown Deepens Indians’ Distress
October 13, 2013

CROW AGENCY, Mont. — Worlds away from Washington, Audrey Costa wondered aloud about keeping her family warm. A mother of three, she relies on lease payments from the Bureau of Indian Affairs on land owned by her family, which can run up to a few hundred dollars a year, to pay for food and electricity. But since the partial shutdown of the federal government began on Oct. 1, Ms. Costa, 41, has not received a check.

“We’re having such a hard time,” she said outside her tattered clapboard home in this poor prairie town deep in the heart of the Crow reservation. “I don’t know what I’ll do. Just tough it out, I guess.”

Like other largely impoverished Indian tribes that lean heavily on federal dollars, the Crow have been battered by the shutdown.

Some 364 Crow members, more than a third of the tribe’s work force, have been furloughed. A bus service, the only way some Crow are able to travel across their 2.3-million-acre reservation, has been shuttered. A home health care program for sick tribal members has been suspended.

Though the tribe has enough money to keep a skeleton government operating for now, it is running out.

“They don’t have a clue what’s going on out here,” the tribal chairman, Darrin Old Coyote, said of politicians in Washington from his office in Crow Agency, which sits in the shadows of the Little Bighorn battlefield, itself closed because of the shutdown. “It is hurting a lot of people.”

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which provides a vast sweep of services for more than 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, has kept essential programs, like federal police and firefighting services, running. But it has stopped financing tribal governments and the patchwork of programs and grants that form the thin blanket of support for reservations racked by poverty and other ills.

“You’re already looking at a good number of tribes who are considered the poorest of our nation’s people,” said Jacqueline Pata, the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians. “When you are dealing with cutting off food supply programs and even nominal payments to tribal members, it creates a dangerous impact immediately.”

The Yurok tribe in Northern California, for example, relies almost solely on federal financing to operate. Its reservation, which spans parts of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, already has an 80 percent unemployment rate, said Susan Masten, the tribal vice chairwoman. With money suddenly unavailable, the tribe has furloughed 60 of its 310 employees, closed its child-care center and halted emergency financial assistance for low-income and older members.

Financing for an environmental program that ensures clean drinking water on the reservation is running low. A second round of furloughs could affect tribal police officers, Ms. Masten said.

“The saddest thing about this is that the federal government has an obligation to the tribes,” she said. “In times like this, where it’s already extremely difficult, any further damage to our budget would be devastating.”

On the reservation of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in northern Minnesota, all nonemergency medical procedures have been placed on hold, said Dave Conner, a tribal official who helps manage the Red Lake’s government services.

The Red Lake were supposed to have received about $1 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs this month to help operate their government, but the money was not released before the shutdown, Mr. Conner said.

The tribe has budgeted enough money to keep the most critical services running until the end of the month.

“This is a poor, rural, isolated reservation,” Mr. Conner said. “A lot of people rely on our services, so there’s a lot of fear right now.”

For some tribes, the pain of the shutdown has been sharpened by federal budget restrictions this year, known as sequestration, that imposed 5 percent cuts to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

Aaron Payment, the chairman of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan, said his tribe had already shut down its H.I.V. prevention program and furloughed employees for its Head Start program for a month because of sequestration.

Now, with nearly $1 million in federal money lost since the shutdown, the tribe is scrambling to shift casino revenue from other programs to keep its government afloat.

“We’re in turmoil right now,” Mr. Payment said. “The impact here is going to be felt by the people who need the services the most.”

Kevin Washburn, assistant secretary for Indian affairs, said the shutdown could have long-term effects on tribes and tribal members. Financial deals and economic programs have been suspended. Environmental reviews of tribal projects will be delayed. And the impact on the thousands of Bureau of Indian Affairs employees who have been furloughed is compounded because many support poor relatives, he said.

“The cushion that tribes might have had to help them get through tough times is gone because of sequestration,” Mr. Washburn said.

In Hardin, Mont., a gritty reservation border town, Presina Grant has been caring for her sister, who broke both of her wrists in a fall. Until recently, Ms. Grant, who is Crow, had been reimbursed $8 an hour as part of the tribe’s health care program.

But after the program was suspended because of the shutdown, Ms. Grant, 43, found herself in a long line of other tribal members applying for food stamps. Her daughter is a high school cross-country runner and craves nutrition. But with money tight, she often must feed her three children frozen food. “Everyone was just sad — you could just feel it,” Ms. Grant said, recalling the day this month when she collected her final paycheck from the tribe. “People are worried. We’re praying every day.”



14) Group Presses for Safeguards on the Personal Data of Schoolchildren
October 13, 2013

A leading children’s advocacy group is challenging the educational technology software industry, an estimated $8 billion market, to develop national safeguards for the personal data collected about students from kindergarten through high school.

In a letter sent last week to 16 educational technology vendors — including Google Apps for Education, Samsung School, Scholastic and Pearson Schoolnet — Common Sense Media, an advocacy group in San Francisco that rates children’s videos and apps for age appropriateness, urged the industry to use student data only for educational purposes, and not for marketing products to children or their families.

“We believe in the power of education technology, used wisely, to transform learning,” said James P. Steyer, the chief executive of the group. “But students should not have to surrender their privacy at the schoolhouse door.”

Tim Drinan, a Google spokesman, said that advertising was turned off by default in Google Apps for Education products like document-sharing and that the system did not scan students’ e-mails for advertising purposes. He declined to comment specifically on the group’s letter.

School districts across the country are increasingly adopting digital technologies that collect details about students’ achievements, activities, absences, disabilities and learning styles in an effort to tailor instruction to the individual child. The hope is that personalized, data-driven education will ultimately improve students’ graduation rates and career prospects.

Many school districts, however, are using student assessment software and other services without placing sufficient restrictions on the use of children’s personal details by companies, experts in education privacy law say. Parents may not be aware of the security and privacy risks to their children, these experts say, because schools are not required to notify parents or obtain their consent before sharing student’s details with vendors who perform institutional functions.

New research on how school districts handle the transfer of student data to companies, for instance, has found that administrators have signed contracts without clauses to protect personal details like children’s contact information, age ranges or where they wait for school buses every morning. Researchers at Fordham University School of Law in New York are reporting, for example, that certain school districts’ contracts for cafeteria service payment features on student ID cards would allow companies to collect, store, share and sell information on everything a student buys and eats at school. That could have implications for students’ families.

“Companies could sell that information to advertisers or insurance companies,” said Joel R. Reidenberg, a law professor at Fordham and the lead researcher on the report, whose findings his team plans to publish next month. “Because a kid drinks a lot of soda, a family might have to pay higher insurance premiums or have trouble getting dental insurance.”

Schools are sharing student data with more educational technology providers and with other companies, he said, partly to keep up with mounting student testing and reporting requirements and partly to keep down internal technology costs. That outsourcing has been made easier because of changes to federal regulation under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

That law requires schools to obtain a parent’s permission before sharing information in their children’s records. But the Education Department updated its rules in 2008, allowing schools to disclose student information to contractors and other outside parties to whom they outsource school functions — without notifying parents.

Common Sense Media hopes to prompt educational technology executives and education officials to institute national standards for the sharing and use of student data. Mr. Steyer said he was particularly concerned about sensitive details like students’ health, disabilities, disciplinary records, demographics, financial status and family situations.

“We are challenging the industry and educators to get this right upfront now, in contrast to consumer data where industry made all of the rules and shaped them in the best interests of the industry,” Mr. Steyer said. “We don’t think it should work that way with student data.”

Some states are pursuing student data transparency and privacy legislation.

This year, Oklahoma enacted a law that requires the state Board of Education to publicly post a list of the kinds of data it collects about individual students and to develop detailed student data privacy policies and security measures. The New York State Assembly recently passed a bill that prohibits schools from sharing personally identifiable data about students without parental consent.

“This protects families about certain issues that may not be appropriate for the world to know for the rest of your life,” said Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell, a Democrat representing the Upper West Side of Manhattan, who sponsored the bill.

But Senator Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who has been a staunch advocate of children’s privacy, said federal standards were needed to ensure that parents have access to and control over information in their children’s educational records. “It’s clear to me that parents, not schools, have the right to control their children’s information, even if it’s in the hands of private companies,” Mr. Markey said in a phone interview on Friday. “I am going to ask the Department of Education to lay out specific guidelines to protect students from having their records compromised.”



15) The Heartache of an Immigrant Family
October 14, 2013

LOS ANGELES — WHEN we talk about immigration to America, we tell a hopeful story about courage and sacrifice. But that story obscures the fact that, especially for the poor, immigration is often a traumatizing event, one that tears families apart.

Consider the experience of one family, originally from Honduras. In 1989, Lourdes Pineda was the single mother of a 5-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl. She sold tortillas, plantains and used clothes door to door, but barely earned enough to feed her children, and feared not being able to send them to school past the sixth grade. So she made the painful decision to leave them behind in Honduras, and found work in the United States as a nanny, taking care of other people’s children.

Her daughter went to live with her maternal grandmother, her son — Luis Enrique Motiño Pineda — with his paternal grandmother. Enrique, whose story I followed for a book, was devastated. He was passed from relative to relative, left wondering, didn’t his mother love him enough to be with him? In 2000, when he was 16, he set off to find her. It took him eight attempts to cross through Mexico and into the United States — a journey of 122 days and 12,000 miles.

Enrique had left behind someone of his own: a girlfriend, María Isabel Carias Durón, whom he later learned was pregnant. She followed Enrique north a few years later, leaving their daughter, Katerin Jasmín, behind. Enrique was determined that his daughter not endure the long separation he had faced, so when Jasmín was 4, he sent for her to come to Jacksonville, Fla., where the family had established a home.

In the decade after Enrique came to the United States, more migrants arrived than at any time in the nation’s history, fueling a backlash. From 2005 to 2010, nearly a thousand laws were passed by State Legislatures addressing illegal immigration. In 2008, the federal government told all police departments to turn over any unlawful migrants they arrested to federal immigration authorities, a program called Secure Communities. A result: deportations nearly doubled between fiscal 2006 and 2012 to more than 409,000 a year.

And so immigrant families are being separated again, this time in reverse. Parents are being deported to Mexico and Central America, away from United-States-born children.

About 200,000 parents of children who are American citizens were deported between 2010 and 2012, and 5,000 parentless children are now in foster care because their mother or father was detained or deported. An analysis by the Applied Research Center estimates that more than 15,000 children would join them by 2016 if record numbers of deportations continued.

On Dec. 26, 2011, Enrique was partying with friends at a motel when police officers arrived. He had an outstanding arrest warrant for not paying a ticket for driving without a license. (All but 11 states prohibit unlawful immigrants from obtaining a driver’s license.) Enrique was arrested and handed over to federal immigration authorities to be deported. María Isabel was three months pregnant with their second child.

On a Sunday afternoon nearly a year later, Enrique’s mother, Lourdes, arrived at the jail with her grandchildren: Jasmín, then 11 years old, and the 3-month-old baby, Daniel Enrique. I sat with them before video screen No. 9 in a cinder-block visitation stall. The image of Enrique in an orange jumpsuit appeared on the screen.

Jasmín scooted her chair closer, and picked up the receiver to talk. Lourdes lifted Daniel Enrique, with chubby cheeks and tufts of black hair, up to the screen. “Say ‘Hello, Papi,’ ” Jasmín said to her brother. Enrique smiled at his son. “I am your father,” he said. “How is my boy?” Enrique had never been allowed to cradle his son. Later, Enrique told me that when he thought about him, he could feel his arms ache. If he were deported, he agonized, would both his children grow up without their father?

There are huge benefits to migration: mothers who go north are able to send money home so their children can eat and go to school. But there are consequences, too: many of these children deeply resent their mothers for leaving. They feel abandoned, and disproportionately join gangs or get pregnant, searching for the love they feel they missed.

The United States is spending billions on walls that don’t really keep migrants out (a University of California, San Diego, study showed that 97 percent of migrants who want to cross the border eventually get through), and on locking up and deporting people, many of whom return. Border enforcement, guest worker programs and pathways to citizenship haven’t addressed the problem. Instead they have sealed in many migrants who would have preferred to circle back home, attracted temporary workers who never left, and legalized migrants who then brought relatives illegally, causing the number of unlawful migrants to grow.

We can prevent this pain, and slow the flow of migrants permanently, only by addressing the “push” factors that propel migrants, especially women, to leave in the first place — and by helping families like Enrique’s avoid the heartache that his mother’s exodus began a quarter-century ago.

We can start by creating opportunities for women in just four countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, which send three-quarters of all undocumented migrants here. The United States could increase aid to those countries to improve education for girls, which would lower birthrates. It could finance or promote microloans to help women start job-generating businesses. It could gear trade policies to give clear preferences to goods from these four countries. And it could work with hometown associations — groups of immigrants in the United States who want to help the towns they came from — to coordinate a percentage of the tens of billions of dollars that immigrants send home to Latin America each year toward investing in job-creating enterprises. (One Mexican hometown association helped build a factory in Oaxaca, which has employed many would-be immigrants.)

This targeted economic development would cost much less than the billions — $18 billion each year — we currently dole out for immigration enforcement.

For too long, American immigration policy has ensured access to cheap, compliant workers. This has helped spur our economy, but has come at a great cost to taxpayers, as well to the immigrants themselves. We must demand a different approach, one in line with the goal of keeping families intact.

In August, after a total of 14 months in jail, Enrique received a miracle: a visa to stay in the United States legally, thanks to two lawyers, Sui Chung and Michael Vastine, who agreed to represent him pro bono and tirelessly fought his case. Jasmín and María Isabel obtained similar visas two months earlier. Enrique will not be torn from his family.

But imagine the suffering they would have been spared, if Lourdes had never had to come here in the first place.

Sonia Nazario is the author of “Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with his Mother,” recently published in a young adult version.



16) Moose Die-Off Alarms Scientists
October 14, 2013

CHOTEAU, Mont. — Across North America — in places as far-flung as Montana and British Columbia, New Hampshire and Minnesota — moose populations are in steep decline. And no one is sure why.

Twenty years ago, Minnesota had two geographically separate moose populations. One of them has virtually disappeared since the 1990s, declining to fewer than 100 from 4,000.

The other population, in northeastern Minnesota, is dropping 25 percent a year and is now fewer than 3,000, down from 8,000. (The moose mortality rate used to be 8 percent to 12 percent a year.) As a result, wildlife officials have suspended all moose hunting.

Here in Montana, moose hunting permits fell to 362 last year, from 769 in 1995.

“Something’s changed,” said Nicholas DeCesare, a biologist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks who is counting moose in this part of the state — one of numerous efforts across the continent to measure and explain the decline. “There’s fewer moose out there, and hunters are working harder to find them.”

What exactly has changed remains a mystery. Several factors are clearly at work. But a common thread in most hypotheses is climate change.

Winters have grown substantially shorter across much of the moose’s range. In New Hampshire, a longer fall with less snow has greatly increased the number of winter ticks, a devastating parasite. “You can get 100,000 ticks on a moose,” said Kristine Rines, a biologist with the state’s Fish and Game Department.

In Minnesota, the leading culprits are brain worms and liver flukes. Both spend part of their life cycles in snails, which thrive in moist environments.

Another theory is heat stress. Moose are made for cold weather, and when the temperature rises above 23 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, as has happened more often in recent years, they expend extra energy to stay cool. That can lead to exhaustion and death.

In the Cariboo Mountains of British Columbia, a recent study pinned the decline of moose on the widespread killing of forest by an epidemic of pine bark beetles, which seem to thrive in warmer weather. The loss of trees left the moose exposed to human and animal predators. In Smithers, British Columbia, in April, a moose — starving and severely infested with ticks — wandered into the flower section of a Safeway market. It was euthanized.

Unregulated hunting may also play a role in moose mortality. So may wolves in Minnesota and the West.

Scientists and officials say other factors could still emerge. Because most moose die in the fall, the next few months may provide insight.

“It’s complicated because there’s so many pieces of this puzzle that could be impacted by climate change,” said Erika Butler, until recently the wildlife veterinarian at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The stakes go beyond the moose themselves. The animals are ecosystem engineers; when they browse shrubs, for example, they create habitat for some nesting birds.

And moose contribute to the economy. In New Hampshire, for instance, moose-watching tourism is a $115-million-a-year business, according to Ms. Rines. Hunting permits also generate revenue.

Moose deaths are hard to study, scientists say. The moose is a member of the deer family, but unlike deer it is a solitary animal that does not run in herds, so it can be hard to track. Moreover, moose have such high levels of body fat that they decompose rapidly; after 24 hours, a necropsy has little value.

In January, Minnesota started an unusual $1.2 million study using advanced monitoring technology to find moose as soon as they die. Live animals are captured and fitted with collars that give their location every 15 minutes, and they are given feed containing a tiny transmitter that remains in the body and monitors heart rate and temperature. Then the moose are released back into the wild.

“If the heart stops beating, it sends a text message to our phone that says, ‘I’m dead at x and y coordinates,’ ” said Dr. Butler, who leads the study. The messages are monitored around the clock; when a moose dies, a team on call rushes to the scene by car or helicopter.

The winter tick problem in New Hampshire is particularly vexing. The animals lose so much blood they can become anemic. Worse, the ticks drive the moose crazy; they constantly scratch, tearing off large patches of hair.

Some moose lose so much hair they look pale, even spectral; some people call them “ghost moose.” When it rains in the spring, the moose, deprived of their warm coats, then become hypothermic.

Winter ticks hatch in the fall and begin to climb aboard their host. They are dormant until January or February, when they start to feed, molt into adults and then drop off.

Moose spend a lot of time feeding in lakes, but wading in water doesn’t drown the ticks, which form an air bubble that allows them to survive immersion in water.

New Hampshire’s winter tick problem is a relatively recent phenomenon. But then, so are moose. The animals were hunted out of existence during Colonial times; they returned to the state only in the 1970s.

While deer have evolved to an ecological balance with ticks, moose have not.

Deer are grooming animals, so they are able to keep tick numbers fairly low. By contrast, said Ms. Rines, the biologist, “moose didn’t evolve with ticks, and they don’t groom them off.” That has led to swarms of ticks.

The solution to the tick problem might be, paradoxically, more moose hunting. “It’s up to the public,” she said. “We could kill more if we want healthy moose.”






























Two campaigns that need funds – Please donate!

Cartoon by Anthonty Mata for CCSF Guardsman

We are working to ensure that the ACCJC’s authority is not renewed by the Department of Education this December when they are up for their 5-year renewal. Our campaign made it possible for over 50 Third Party Comments to be sent to the DOE re: the ACCJC. Our next step in this campaign is to send a delegation from CCSF to Washington, D.C. to give oral comments at the hearing on December 12th. We expect to have an array of forces aligned on the other side who have much more money and resources than we do.
So please support this effort to get ACCJC authority revoked!

Save CCSF members have been meeting with Attorney Dan Siegel since last May to explore legal avenues to fight the ACCJC. After much consideration, and consultation with AFT 2121’s attorney as well as the SF City Attorney’s office, Dan has come up with a legal strategy that is complimentary to what is already being pursued. In fact, AFT 2121’s attorney is encouraging us to go forward.
The total costs of pursuing this (depositions, etc.) will be substantially more than $15,000. However, Dan is willing to do it for a fixed fee of $15,000. He will not expect a retainer, i.e. payment in advance, but we should start payments ASAP. If we win the ACCJC will have to pay our costs.

Checks can be made out to Save CCSF Coalition with “legal” in the memo line and sent to:
Save CCSF Coalition
2132 Prince St.
Berkeley, CA 94705
Or you may donate online:  http://www.gofundme.com/4841ns




Sign the Petition to Pardon Pvt. Chelsea Manning

Join us in urging President Obama to Pardon Pvt. Manning

Because the public deserves the truth and whistle-blowers deserve protection.
We are military veterans, journalists, educators, homemakers, lawyers, students, and citizens.
We ask you to consider the facts and free US Army Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.
As an Intelligence Analyst stationed in Iraq, Pvt. Manning had access to some of America’s dirtiest secrets--crimes such as torture, illegal surveillance, and corruption—often committed in our name. Manning acted on conscience alone, with selfless courage and conviction, and gave these secrets to us, the public.
“I believed that if the general public had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy,” Manning explained to the military court. “I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan were targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare.”
Journalists used these documents to uncover many startling truths. We learned:
  • Donald Rumsfeld and General Petraeus helped support torture in Iraq.
  • Deliberate civilian killings by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan went unpunished.
  • Thousands of civilian casualties were never acknowledged publicly.
  • Most Guantanamo detainees were innocent.
For service on behalf of an informed democracy, Manning was sentenced by military judge Colonel Denise Lind to a devastating 35 years in prison. Government secrecy has grown exponentially during the past decade, but more secrecy does not make us safer when it fosters unaccountability.
Pvt. Manning was convicted of Espionage Act charges for providing WikiLeaks with this information, but the prosecutors noted that they would have done the same had the information been given to The New York Times. Prosecutors did not show that enemies used this information against the U.S., or that the releases resulted in any casualties.
Pvt. Manning has already been punished, even in violation of military law. She has been:
  • Held in confinement since May 29, 2010.
  • Subjected to illegal punishment amounting to torture for nearly nine months at Quantico Marine Base, Virginia, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Article 13—facts confirmed by both the United Nation’s lead investigator on torture and military judge Col. Lind.
  • Denied a speedy trial in violation of UCMJ, Article 10, having been imprisoned for over three years before trial.
  • Denied anything resembling a fair trial when prosecutors were allowed to change the charge sheet to match evidence presented, and enter new evidence, after closing arguments.
Pvt. Manning believed you, Mr. President, when you came into office promising the most transparent administration in history, and that you would protect whistle-blowers. We urge you to start upholding those promises, beginning with this American prisoner of conscience.
We urge you to grant Pvt. Manning’s petition for a Presidential Pardon.

Sign the petition.


    Help us continue to cover 100%
    of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today:



484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610
For more info about Bradley Manning:http://bradleymanning.org

Write to Pvt. Manning:

PVT Bradley E Manning
1300 N Warehouse Rd
Ft Leavenworth KS 66027-2304




'Facing Urban Shield' is a network of (currently) 62 community
activists and 40 Bay Area organizations (now including the Labor
Committee for Peace and Justice) protesting the militarization of
police and fire services.

'Urban Shield' is a trade show and training exercise for SWAT teams
and police agencies, to be held Oct 24-28 at the Marriott Hotel in
Oakland, CA, which will bring domestic and international law
enforcement agencies including those with known human rights abuses
such as Israel, Bahrain, and Qatar - together with "defense industry
contractors" to "train," and introduce new weapons to police and
security companies.

The Alameda County Sheriff, Gregory Ahern, and his office is
coordinating the 2013 Urban Shield exercise.  The sheriff's office
is being paid $75,000,000 with federal grant money to coordinate
the whole show, according to Alameda County records.

Urban Shield exploits an economic opportunity for weapons manufacturers
as overseas military adventures have lessened some by designating
our population as the new enemy.  Urban Shield is hosted by the Bay
Area Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).  Nearly all of its
funding comes from the federal Department of Homeland Security which
began pouring millions into the training effort in 2011.  A fact
sheet about Urban Shield is attached.

Upcoming protests and educational events:

October 1st - Oakland City Council Meeting. Protestors will educate the Council members about Urban Shield.

October 3rd - Facing Urban Shield presentation at La Pena, in Berkeley.  7-8:30 PM

October 14-18 - Flyering at BART. Contact beitconvivencia@gmail.com to choose a station and time to pass out flyers to BART passengers.

October 25th - A Walking-Witness picket line and 5 PM rally in front of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Oakland.

A opportune time and place to confront the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is also being researched.



Please forward widely...

Malalai Joya
A Woman Among Warlords
Prospects for Afghan Women and Non-Intervention In My Country

Bay Area Tour schedule, October 17-18

October 17

12 Noon – 2 pm
UC Berkeley
315 Wheeler Hall, Maude Fife Room
Co-sponsors: Asian American & Diaspora Studies of the Ethnic Studies
Department and Department of English

October 17

Berkeley City College
Door open at 6:30 pm
2050 Center Street (between Shattuck and Milvia)
Sponsor: Global Studies Program

October 18

Stanford University  12 Noon
Tressider Union
Co-sponsor: Students Against War

October 18

7:30 pm
Palo Alto Friends Meeting House, 957 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto
Sponsor: Peninsula Peace and Justice Center

National Tour Co-sponsors
United National Antiwar Coalition  UNACpeace@gmail.com UNACpeace.org and
Afghan Women’s Mission AfghanWomensMission.org info@afghanwomensmission.org

Bay Area contact/information: Jeff Mackler, Malalai Joya National Tour
510-268-9429  jmackler@lmi.net






Saturday, October 19, 3 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
The New Parkway Theater
474 24th Street in Oakland

The National Lawyers Guild and Prison Radio present two films on repression and resistance:

THE BATTLE FOR OSCAR GRANT PLAZA is a short documentary by Jacob Crawford about how the City of Oakland and its Police tried to shut down the budding "Occupy Wall Street" movement, turning downtown Oakland into a teargas filled war zone and injuring numerous people. Police video obtained in discovery in the National Lawyers Guild's successful lawsuit and interviews with activists and journalists about their experiences, tell the real story of the disastrous Fall, 2011, police actions that pushed the troubled OPD to the brink of federal receivership. Co-produced by Dave Id, Indybay.org.

MANUFACTURING GUILT is a short film that appears as a Bonus Feature on our dvd MUMIA: LONG DISTANCE REVOLUTIONARY (www.firstrunfeatures.com/mumiadvd.html). The short takes on the colossus of Abu-Jamal's contentious case, distilling a mountain of evidence and years of oft-repeated falsehoods to the most fundamental elements of police and prosecutorial misconduct that illustrate a clear and conscious effort to frame Mumia Abu-Jamal for the murder of patrolman Daniel Faulkner.

Based on the actual record of investigations and court filings from 1995 to 2003 - evidence denied by the courts and ignored in the press - MANUFACTURING GUILT cuts through the years of absurdities and overt racism to produce a clear picture of how Abu-Jamal's guilt was manufactured and his innocence suppressed beginning only moments after he and Faulkner were found shot in the early morning hours of December 9th, 1981. This historic and courageous film is the perfect companion to Long Distance Revolutionary - a film that is unequivocal in its force regarding Abu-Jamal's innocence.

"A chilling and vital inside view."--Jamal Hart (Mumia's eldest son)

"Terrific! Focuses on the actual crime, with lots of specific information, going point by point over everything that is known, including a journalist's photos of the crime scene (those are amazing, by the way)... all of the questions I had (about the case) are answered in the short. So be sure to watch."--Pop Culture Beast


TICKETS $10 at the door or at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/475501. Film showing benefits the National Lawyers Guild, S.F. Bay Area Chapter, and Prison Radio.

THE NEW PARKWAY THEATER is a community-centered cinema and pub located in Oakland's Uptown district. Sit back and relax in our cozy couches while watching our new releases, cult classics, and fabulous special programming. Plus, enjoy yummy food and local beer and wine in our café or even delivered right to your theater seat all at affordable prices!



"We Deserve Better" – Workers Assembly
2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Md. 21218
Phone: 410-218-4835  www.PeoplesPowerAssemblies.org

An appeal from the “$15 an hour is power team,

Dear fellow worker (whether you are presently working, unemployed, or underemployed), student or community member,

Please join us on Oct 24th -- the 75th anniversary of the enactment of the first minimum wage -- in making this “Raise Workers’ Wages Day” and demanding a $15.00 minimum wage.

You can mark Thursday, October 24th, with protests, picket lines, mic checks, flash mobs, banner drops or anything that works for where you live or work.  Even setting up a table at a busy street corner and getting signatures on the petition below is helpful.

Actions are being set around the country as we send out this email. List yours. http://peoplespowerassemblies.org/oct-24-mobilization/list-your-october-24-workers-demand-a-raise-day-activity/ sign up on face book https://www.facebook.com/events/154877361387778/?notif_t=plan_user_joined

In Baltimore, we will gather 4 p.m. at Howard & Lexington Streets where we will March to McKeldin Square, Light & Pratt Streets -- past many low wage work places -- where we will end with a press conference and rally.

In the Big Apple, New York City, community, union, and occupy activists will stage a major protest at Herald Square, 34th and 6th, 5 p.m. where many underpaid workers labor.

Actions are being planned across the country from San Diego, Los Angeles to Detroit and Durham, North Carolina, Boston and many places in between.

What will you do on Oct 24? Please list your event or idea. http://peoplespowerassemblies.org/oct-24-mobilization/list-your-october-24-workers-demand-a-raise-day-activity/

Oct 24th is not the end of our fight; it is only the beginning.

We have been inspired by the heroic fast food workers and Walmart workers who have risked firings and on the job harassment to stand up for their rights.

It’s  now  time for the rest of us to step up to the plate and make the fight to raise workers’ wages, to demand a $15 an hour minimum wage a major political issue.  By doing this we give those workers who are fighting on the job the important support they need and we spread this beyond the doors of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King, beyond Walmart and the big box stores, to all workers who need this a raise more than ever.

If we stand together, nothing can stop us.

From the “$15 an hour is power” Team,
Crystal Richardson, part time worker; Danielle Longchamps, food service worker; Steven Ceci, bartender; Renee Washington, state worker; Nicole Tynes, unemployed EMS worker; Kermit Leibensperger, electrician and union member; Barbara Davidson, unemployed mom; Lee Patterson, disabled federal worker; Colleen Davidson, student; Sharon Black, nurse
Sign up on facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/154877361387778/?notif_t=plan_user_joined
Sign Our Petition http://peoplespowerassemblies.org/oct-24-mobilization/min-wage-to-15-petition
Endorse http://peoplespowerassemblies.org/oct-24-mobilization/endorse-oct-24-workers-demand-a-raise-day/
List Your Action http://peoplespowerassemblies.org/oct-24-mobilization/list-your-october-24-workers-demand-a-raise-day-activity/
Donate http://peoplespowerassemblies.org/oct-24-mobilization/donate/

PETITION (SIGN AND SHARE) http://peoplespowerassemblies.org/oct-24-mobilization/min-wage-to-15-petition
To the United States Congress, President Barack Obama and Thomas E. Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor

Make October 24th - 75th anniversary of the enactment of the minimum wage – “Raise Workers’ Wages Day”
Make Dr. King’s Dream come true – End Poverty and Injustice
All Workers Deserve Better! – Raise the Minimum Wage $15!

We as low paid workers, who find ourselves literally at a dead end, after putting in hours of hard work, who cannot support ourselves, our children or our families, who live pay check to pay check, in most cases without benefits;

We as jobless youth in our cities and towns, who need decent paying jobs, not jails and mass incarceration;

We as parents and grandparents of young workers, who know the struggles that our young people go through, trying to make it while saddled with student debt, who are at times forced to rely on us for meals and a place to stay because they aren’t paid enough;

We as better paid workers and small business people, who are disgusted at seeing billion dollar corporations, like Walmart and McDonald’s getting tax breaks and what amounts to welfare for the rich, while their poorly paid workers are forced to rely on food stamps and other meager programs, because they are paid so poorly;

And finally those of us who have been inspired by the heroism of fast food workers and Walmart workers, who have conducted strikes and protests in the face of retaliation and firing, who are demanding fair wages;

Whereas, October 24, 2013, marks the 75th anniversary of the enactment of the minimum wage and since the minimum wage of $7.25 amounts to poverty wages;

We say make Dr. King’s dream a reality, end poverty and injustice, raise the minimum wage to $15.00:

Please sign by clicking this link and send to friends, co-workers and neighbors.

We say make Dr. King’s dream a reality, end poverty and injustice, raise the minimum wage to $15.00!
"It’s time to step up to the plate and make the fight to raise workers’ wages, to demand a $15 an hour minimum wage a major political issue.  By doing this we give those workers who are fighting on the job the important support they need and we spread this beyond the doors of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King, beyond Walmart and the big box stores, to all workers who need this a raise more than ever." 
Facebook Twitter More...  PLEASE POST WIDELY! | follow on Twitter | friend on Facebook | forward to a friend 
Our mailing address is:
Workers Assembly,
2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218
Phone: 410-218-4835















We need to save City College of San Francisco. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
(ACCJC) should be disbanded.
Sign the petition:

That's why we started a petition to the Department of Education, which says:

Reverse the ACCJC's unjust decision to cancel City College of San Francisco's accreditation. The Department of Education must immediately rescind its recognition of the ACCJC. The ACCJC has violated state and federal laws as well as their own policies. Their agenda to downsize and privatize public education has tremendously harmed the diverse communities of the San Francisco Bay Area.

We call on the Department of Education to save CCSF by revoking its recognition of the ACCJC and replacing it with a transparent and publicly-accountable accreditation body.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

–Save City College of SF Coalition

This petition was created on MoveOn's online petition site, where anyone can start their own online petitions. Save City College of SF Coalition didn't pay us to send this email—we never rent or sell the MoveOn.org list.

Want to support our work? MoveOn Civic Action is entirely funded by our 8 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way.


16 Years in Solitary Confinement Is Like a "Living Tomb"
American Civil Liberties Union petition to end long-term solitary confinement:
California Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard: We stand with the prisoners on hunger strike. We urge you to comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement.
Sign the petition:
In California, hundreds of prisoners have been held in solitary for more than a decade – some for infractions as trivial as reading Machiavelli's "The Prince."

Gabriel Reyes describes the pain of being isolated for at least 22 hours a day for the last 16 years:

“Unless you have lived it, you cannot imagine what it feels like to be by yourself, between four cold walls, with little concept of time…. It is a living tomb …’ I have not been allowed physical contact with any of my loved ones since 1995…I feel helpless and hopeless. In short, I am being psychologically tortured.”

That’s why over 30,000 prisoners in California began a hunger strike – the biggest the state has ever seen. They’re refusing food to protest prisoners being held for decades in solitary and to push for other changes to improve their basic conditions.

California Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard has tried to dismiss the strikers and refuses to negotiate, but the media pressure is building through the strike. If tens of thousands of us take action, we can help keep this issue in the spotlight so that Secretary Beard can’t ignore the inhumane treatment of prisoners.

Sign the petition urging Corrections Secretary Beard to end the use of long-term solitary confinement.

Solitary is such an extreme form of punishment that a United Nations torture rapporteur called for an international ban on the practice except in rare occasions. Here’s why:

The majority of the 80,000 people held in solitary in this country are severely mentally ill or because of a minor infraction (it’s a myth that it’s only for violent prisoners)
Even for people with stable mental health, solitary causes severe psychological reactions, often leading people to attempt suicide
It jeopardizes public safety because prisoners held in solitary have a harder time reintegrating into society.

And to add insult to injury, the hunger strikers are now facing retaliation – their lawyers are being restricted from visiting and the strikers are being punished. But the media continues to write about the hunger strike and we can help keep the pressure on Secretary Beard by signing this petition.

Sign the petition urging Corrections Secretary Beard to end the use of long-term solitary confinement.

Our criminal justice system should keep communities safe and treat people fairly. The use of solitary confinement undermines both of these goals – but little by little, we can help put a stop to such cruelty.

Thank you,
Anthony for the ACLU Action team
P.S. The hunger strikers have developed five core demands to address their basic conditions, the main one being an end to long-term solitary confinement. They are:

-End group punishment – prisoners say that officials often punish groups to address individual rule violations

-Abolish the debriefing policy, which is often demanded in return for better food or release from solitary

-End long-term solitary confinement

-Provide adequate and nutritious food

-Expand or provide constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates

“Solitary - and anger - in California's prisons.” Los Angeles Times July 13, 2013
“Pelican Bay Prison Hunger-Strikers' Stories: Gabriel Reyes.” TruthOut July 9, 2013
“Solitary confinement should be banned in most cases, UN expert says.” UN News October 18, 2011
"Stop Solitary - Two Pager" ACLU.org

What you Didn't know about NYPD's Stop & Frisk program !


Egypt: The Next President -- a little Egyptian boy speaks his remarkable mind!


Wealth Inequality in America

[This is a must see to believe video...bw]




Read the transcription of hero Bradley Manning's 35-page statement explaining why he leaked "state secrets" to WikiLeaks.

March 1, 2013


The statement was read by Pfc. Bradley Manning at a providence inquiry for his formal plea of guilty to one specification as charged and nine specifications for lesser included offenses. He pled not guilty to 12 other specifications. This rush transcript was taken by journalist Alexa O'Brien at Thursday's pretrial hearing and first appeared on Salon.com.




Call for a Compassionate Release for Lynne Stewart:
Attorney General Eric Holder: 202-514-2001
White House President Obama: 202-456-1414
Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels: 202-307-3198 ext 3

Urgent: Please sign the petition for compassionate release for Lynne Stewart

For more information, go to http://www.lynnestewart.org

Write to Lynne Stewart at:

Lynne Stewart #53504-054
??Federal Medical Center, Carswell
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127



You Have the Right to Remain Silent: NLG Guide to Law Enforcement Encounters

Posted 1 day ago on July 27, 2012, 10:28 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Occupy Wall Street is a nonviolent movement for social and economic justice, but in recent days disturbing reports have emerged of Occupy-affiliated activists being targeted by US law enforcement, including agents from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. To help ensure Occupiers and allied activists know their rights when encountering law enforcement, we are publishing in full the National Lawyers Guild's booklet: You Have the Right to Remain Silent. The NLG provides invaluable support to the Occupy movement and other activists – please click here to support the NLG.

We strongly encourage all Occupiers to read and share the information provided below. We also recommend you enter the NLG's national hotline number (888-654-3265) into your cellphone (if you have one) and keep a copy handy. This information is not a substitute for legal advice. You should contact the NLG or a criminal defense attorney immediately if you have been visited by the FBI or other law enforcement officials. You should also alert your relatives, friends, co-workers and others so that they will be prepared if they are contacted as well.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Law Enforcement Encounters

What Rights Do I Have?

Whether or not you're a citizen, you have rights under the United States Constitution. The Fifth Amendment gives every person the right to remain silent: not to answer questions asked by a police officer or government agent. The Fourth Amendment restricts the government's power to enter and search your home or workplace, although there are many exceptions and new laws have expanded the government's power to conduct surveillance. The First Amendment protects your right to speak freely and to advocate for social change. However, if you are a non-citizen, the Department of Homeland Security may target you based on your political activities.

Standing Up For Free Speech

The government's crusade against politically-active individuals is intended to disrupt and suppress the exercise of time-honored free speech activities, such as boycotts, protests, grassroots organizing and solidarity work. Remember that you have the right to stand up to the intimidation tactics of FBI agents and other law enforcement officials who, with political motives, are targeting organizing and free speech activities. Informed resistance to these tactics and steadfast defense of your and others' rights can bring positive results. Each person who takes a courageous stand makes future resistance to government oppression easier for all. The National Lawyers Guild has a long tradition of standing up to government repression. The organization itself was labeled a "subversive" group during the McCarthy Era and was subject to FBI surveillance and infiltration for many years. Guild attorneys have defended FBI-targeted members of the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, and the Puerto Rican independence movement. The NLG exposed FBI surveillance, infiltration and disruption tactics that were detailed during the 1975-76 COINTELPRO hearings. In 1989 the NLG prevailed in a lawsuit on behalf of several activist organizations, including the Guild, that forced the FBI to expose the extent to which it had been spying on activist movements. Under the settlement, the FBI turned over roughly 400,000 pages of its files on the Guild, which are now available at the Tamiment Library at New York University.

What if FBI Agents or Police Contact Me?

What if an agent or police officer comes to the door?

Do not invite the agents or police into your home. Do not answer any questions. Tell the agent that you do not wish to talk with him or her. You can state that your lawyer will contact them on your behalf. You can do this by stepping outside and pulling the door behind you so that the interior of your home or office is not visible, getting their contact information or business cards and then returning inside. They should cease questioning after this. If the agent or officer gives a reason for contacting you, take notes and give the information to your attorney. Anything you say, no matter how seemingly harmless or insignificant, may be used against you or others in the future. Lying to or misleading a federal agent is a crime. The more you speak, the more opportunity for federal law enforcement to find something you said (even if not intentionally) false and assert that you lied to a federal officer.

Do I have to answer questions?

You have the constitutional right to remain silent. It is not a crime to refuse to answer questions. You do not have to talk to anyone, even if you have been arrested or are in jail. You should affirmatively and unambiguously state that you wish to remain silent and that you wish to consult an attorney. Once you make the request to speak to a lawyer, do not say anything else. The Supreme Court recently ruled that answering law enforcement questions may be taken as a waiver of your right to remain silent, so it is important that you assert your rights and maintain them. Only a judge can order you to answer questions. There is one exception: some states have "stop and identify" statutes which require you to provide identity information or your name if you have been detained on reasonable suspicion that you may have committed a crime. A lawyer in your state can advise you of the status of these requirements where you reside.

Do I have to give my name?

As above, in some states you can be detained or arrested for merely refusing to give your name. And in any state, police do not always follow the law, and refusing to give your name may make them suspicious or more hostile and lead to your arrest, even without just cause, so use your judgment. Giving a false name could in some circumstances be a crime.

Do I need a lawyer?

You have the right to talk to a lawyer before you decide whether to answer questions from law enforcement. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer if you are considering answering any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer present during any interview. The lawyer's job is to protect your rights. Once you tell the agent that you want to talk to a lawyer, he or she should stop trying to question you and should make any further contact through your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, you can still tell the officer you want to speak to one before answering questions. Remember to get the name, agency and telephone number of any investigator who visits you, and give that information to your lawyer. The government does not have to provide you with a free lawyer unless you are charged with a crime, but the NLG or another organization may be able to help you find a lawyer for free or at a reduced rate.

If I refuse to answer questions or say I want a lawyer, won't it seem like I have something to hide?

Anything you say to law enforcement can be used against you and others. You can never tell how a seemingly harmless bit of information might be used or manipulated to hurt you or someone else. That is why the right not to talk is a fundamental right under the Constitution. Keep in mind that although law enforcement agents are allowed to lie to you, lying to a government agent is a crime. Remaining silent is not. The safest things to say are "I am going to remain silent," "I want to speak to my lawyer," and "I do not consent to a search." It is a common practice for law enforcement agents to try to get you to waive your rights by telling you that if you have nothing to hide you would talk or that talking would "just clear things up." The fact is, if they are questioning you, they are looking to incriminate you or someone you may know, or they are engaged in political intelligence gathering. You should feel comfortable standing firm in protection and defense of your rights and refusing to answer questions.

Can agents search my home or office?

You do not have to let police or agents into your home or office unless they have and produce a valid search warrant. A search warrant is a written court order that allows the police to conduct a specified search. Interfering with a warrantless search probably will not stop it and you might get arrested. But you should say "I do not consent to a search," and call a criminal defense lawyer or the NLG. You should be aware that a roommate or guest can legally consent to a search of your house if the police believe that person has the authority to give consent, and your employer can consent to a search of your workspace without your permission.

What if agents have a search warrant?

If you are present when agents come for the search, you can ask to see the warrant. The warrant must specify in detail the places to be searched and the people or things to be taken away. Tell the agents you do not consent to the search so that they cannot go beyond what the warrant authorizes. Ask if you are allowed to watch the search; if you are allowed to, you should. Take notes, including names, badge numbers, what agency each officer is from, where they searched and what they took. If others are present, have them act as witnesses to watch carefully what is happening. If the agents ask you to give them documents, your computer, or anything else, look to see if the item is listed in the warrant. If it is not, do not consent to them taking it without talking to a lawyer. You do not have to answer questions. Talk to a lawyer first. (Note: If agents present an arrest warrant, they may only perform a cursory visual search of the premises to see if the person named in the arrest warrant is present.)

Do I have to answer questions if I have been arrested?

No. If you are arrested, you do not have to answer any questions. You should affirmatively and unambiguously state that you wish to assert your right to remain silent. Ask for a lawyer right away. Do not say anything else. Repeat to every officer who tries to talk to or question you that you wish to remain silent and that you wish to speak to a lawyer. You should always talk to a lawyer before you decide to answer any questions.

What if I speak to government agents anyway?

Even if you have already answered some questions, you can refuse to answer other questions until you have a lawyer. If you find yourself talking, stop. Assert that you wish to remain silent and that you wish to speak to a lawyer.

What if the police stop me on the street?

Ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, consider just walking away. If the police say you are not under arrest, but are not free to go, then you are being detained. The police can pat down the outside of your clothing if they have reason to suspect you might be armed and dangerous. If they search any more than this, say clearly, "I do not consent to a search." They may keep searching anyway. If this happens, do not resist because you can be charged with assault or resisting arrest. You do not have to answer any questions. You do not have to open bags or any closed container. Tell the officers you do not consent to a search of your bags or other property.

What if police or agents stop me in my car?

Keep your hands where the police can see them. If you are driving a vehicle, you must show your license, registration and, in some states, proof of insurance. You do not have to consent to a search. But the police may have legal grounds to search your car anyway. Clearly state that you do not consent. Officers may separate passengers and drivers from each other to question them, but no one has to answer any questions.

What if I am treated badly by the police or the FBI?

Write down the officer's badge number, name or other identifying information. You have a right to ask the officer for this information. Try to find witnesses and their names and phone numbers. If you are injured, seek medical attention and take pictures of the injuries as soon as you can. Call a lawyer as soon as possible.

What if the police or FBI threaten me with a grand jury subpoena if I don't answer their questions?

A grand jury subpoena is a written order for you to go to court and testify about information you may have. It is common for the FBI to threaten you with a subpoena to get you to talk to them. If they are going to subpoena you, they will do so anyway. You should not volunteer to speak just because you are threatened with a subpoena. You should consult a lawyer.

What if I receive a grand jury subpoena?

Grand jury proceedings are not the same as testifying at an open court trial. You are not allowed to have a lawyer present (although one may wait in the hallway and you may ask to consult with him or her after each question) and you may be asked to answer questions about your activities and associations. Because of the witness's limited rights in this situation, the government has frequently used grand jury subpoenas to gather information about activists and political organizations. It is common for the FBI to threaten activists with a subpoena in order to elicit information about their political views and activities and those of their associates. There are legal grounds for stopping ("quashing") subpoenas, and receiving one does not necessarily mean that you are suspected of a crime. If you do receive a subpoena, call the NLG National Hotline at 888-NLG-ECOL (888-654-3265) or call a criminal defense attorney immediately.

The government regularly uses grand jury subpoena power to investigate and seek evidence related to politically-active individuals and social movements. This practice is aimed at prosecuting activists and, through intimidation and disruption, discouraging continued activism.

Federal grand jury subpoenas are served in person. If you receive one, it is critically important that you retain the services of an attorney, preferably one who understands your goals and, if applicable, understands the nature of your political work, and has experience with these issues. Most lawyers are trained to provide the best legal defense for their client, often at the expense of others. Beware lawyers who summarily advise you to cooperate with grand juries, testify against friends, or cut off contact with your friends and political activists. Cooperation usually leads to others being subpoenaed and investigated. You also run the risk of being charged with perjury, a felony, should you omit any pertinent information or should there be inconsistencies in your testimony.

Frequently prosecutors will offer "use immunity," meaning that the prosecutor is prohibited from using your testimony or any leads from it to bring charges against you. If a subsequent prosecution is brought, the prosecutor bears the burden of proving that all of its evidence was obtained independent of the immunized testimony. You should be aware, however, that they will use anything you say to manipulate associates into sharing more information about you by suggesting that you have betrayed confidences.

In front of a grand jury you can "take the Fifth" (exercise your right to remain silent). However, the prosecutor may impose immunity on you, which strips you of Fifth Amendment protection and subjects you to the possibility of being cited for contempt and jailed if you refuse to answer further. In front of a grand jury you have no Sixth Amendment right to counsel, although you can consult with a lawyer outside the grand jury room after each question.

What if I don't cooperate with the grand jury?

If you receive a grand jury subpoena and elect to not cooperate, you may be held in civil contempt. There is a chance that you may be jailed or imprisoned for the length of the grand jury in an effort to coerce you to cooperate. Regular grand juries sit for a basic term of 18 months, which can be extended up to a total of 24 months. It is lawful to hold you in order to coerce your cooperation, but unlawful to hold you as a means of punishment. In rare instances you may face criminal contempt charges.

What If I Am Not a Citizen and the DHS Contacts Me?

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has been renamed and reorganized into: 1. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS); 2. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and 3. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). All three bureaus will be referred to as DHS for the purposes of this pamphlet.

? Assert your rights. If you do not demand your rights or if you sign papers waiving your rights, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may deport you before you see a lawyer or an immigration judge. Never sign anything without reading, understanding and knowing the consequences of signing it.

? Talk to a lawyer. If possible, carry with you the name and telephone number of an immigration lawyer who will take your calls. The immigration laws are hard to understand and there have been many recent changes. DHS will not explain your options to you. As soon as you encounter a DHS agent, call your attorney. If you can't do it right away, keep trying. Always talk to an immigration lawyer before leaving the U.S. Even some legal permanent residents can be barred from returning.

Based on today's laws, regulations and DHS guidelines, non-citizens usually have the following rights, no matter what their immigration status. This information may change, so it is important to contact a lawyer. The following rights apply to non-citizens who are inside the U.S. Non-citizens at the border who are trying to enter the U.S. do not have all the same rights.

Do I have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any DHS questions or signing any DHS papers?

Yes. You have the right to call a lawyer or your family if you are detained, and you have the right to be visited by a lawyer in detention. You have the right to have your attorney with you at any hearing before an immigration judge. You do not have the right to a government-appointed attorney for immigration proceedings, but if you have been arrested, immigration officials must show you a list of free or low cost legal service providers.

Should I carry my green card or other immigration papers with me?

If you have documents authorizing you to stay in the U.S., you must carry them with you. Presenting false or expired papers to DHS may lead to deportation or criminal prosecution. An unexpired green card, I-94, Employment Authorization Card, Border Crossing Card or other papers that prove you are in legal status will satisfy this requirement. If you do not carry these papers with you, you could be charged with a crime. Always keep a copy of your immigration papers with a trusted family member or friend who can fax them to you, if need be. Check with your immigration lawyer about your specific case.

Am I required to talk to government officers about my immigration history?

If you are undocumented, out of status, a legal permanent resident (green card holder), or a citizen, you do not have to answer any questions about your immigration history. (You may want to consider giving your name; see above for more information about this.) If you are not in any of these categories, and you are being questioned by a DHS or FBI agent, then you may create problems with your immigration status if you refuse to provide information requested by the agent. If you have a lawyer, you can tell the agent that your lawyer will answer questions on your behalf. If answering questions could lead the agent to information that connects you with criminal activity, you should consider refusing to talk to the agent at all.

If I am arrested for immigration violations, do I have the right to a hearing before an immigration judge to defend myself against deportation charges?

Yes. In most cases only an immigration judge can order you deported. But if you waive your rights or take "voluntary departure," agreeing to leave the country, you could be deported without a hearing. If you have criminal convictions, were arrested at the border, came to the U.S. through the visa waiver program or have been ordered deported in the past, you could be deported without a hearing. Contact a lawyer immediately to see if there is any relief for you.

Can I call my consulate if I am arrested?

Yes. Non-citizens arrested in the U.S. have the right to call their consulate or to have the police tell the consulate of your arrest. The police must let your consulate visit or speak with you if consular officials decide to do so. Your consulate might help you find a lawyer or offer other help. You also have the right to refuse help from your consulate.

What happens if I give up my right to a hearing or leave the U.S. before the hearing is over?

You could lose your eligibility for certain immigration benefits, and you could be barred from returning to the U.S. for a number of years. You should always talk to an immigration lawyer before you decide to give up your right to a hearing.

What should I do if I want to contact DHS?

Always talk to a lawyer before contacting DHS, even on the phone. Many DHS officers view "enforcement" as their primary job and will not explain all of your options to you.

What Are My Rights at Airports?

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is illegal for law enforcement to perform any stops, searches, detentions or removals based solely on your race, national origin, religion, sex or ethnicity.

If I am entering the U.S. with valid travel papers can a U.S. customs agent stop and search me?

Yes. Customs agents have the right to stop, detain and search every person and item.

Can my bags or I be searched after going through metal detectors with no problem or after security sees that my bags do not contain a weapon?

Yes. Even if the initial screen of your bags reveals nothing suspicious, the screeners have the authority to conduct a further search of you or your bags.

If I am on an airplane, can an airline employee interrogate me or ask me to get off the plane?

The pilot of an airplane has the right to refuse to fly a passenger if he or she believes the passenger is a threat to the safety of the flight. The pilot's decision must be reasonable and based on observations of you, not stereotypes.

What If I Am Under 18?

Do I have to answer questions?

No. Minors too have the right to remain silent. You cannot be arrested for refusing to talk to the police, probation officers, or school officials, except in some states you may have to give your name if you have been detained.

What if I am detained?

If you are detained at a community detention facility or Juvenile Hall, you normally must be released to a parent or guardian. If charges are filed against you, in most states you are entitled to counsel (just like an adult) at no cost.

Do I have the right to express political views at school?

Public school students generally have a First Amendment right to politically organize at school by passing out leaflets, holding meetings, etc., as long as those activities are not disruptive and do not violate legitimate school rules. You may not be singled out based on your politics, ethnicity or religion.

Can my backpack or locker be searched?

School officials can search students' backpacks and lockers without a warrant if they reasonably suspect that you are involved in criminal activity or carrying drugs or weapons. Do not consent to the police or school officials searching your property, but do not physically resist or you may face criminal charges.


This booklet is not a substitute for legal advice. You should contact an attorney if you have been visited by the FBI or other law enforcement officials. You should also alert your relatives, friends, co-workers and others so that they will be prepared if they are contacted as well.

NLG National Hotline for Activists Contacted by the FBI





Free Mumia NOW!


Write to Mumia:

Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335

SCI Mahanoy

301 Morea Road

Frackville, PA 17932

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Rachel Wolkenstein

August 21, 2011 (917) 689-4009








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

Censorship" book




Justice for Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace: Decades of isolation in Louisiana

state prisons must end

Take Action -- Sign Petition Here:









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



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.




The Battle Is Still On To


The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

PO Box 16222 • Oakland CA 94610





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.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTiAkbB5uC0&eurl

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!











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

http://bauaw.blogspot.com/ or bauaw.org ...bw]








Exceptional art from the streets of Oakland:

Oakland Street Dancing





On Gun Control, Martin Luther King, the Deacons of Defense and the history of Black Liberation



Fukushima Never Again


"Fukushima, Never Again" tells the story of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns in north east Japan in March of 2011 and exposes the cover-up by Tepco and the Japanese government.

This is the first film that interviews the Mothers Of Fukushima, nuclear power experts and trade unionists who are fighting for justice and the protection of the children and the people of Japan and the world. The residents and citizens were forced to buy their own geiger counters and radiation dosimeters in order to test their communities to find out if they were in danger.

The government said contaminated soil in children's school grounds was safe and then

when the people found out it was contaminated and removed the top soil, the government and TEPCO refused to remove it from the school grounds.

It also relays how the nuclear energy program for "peaceful atoms" was brought to Japan under the auspices of the US military occupation and also the criminal cover-up of the safety dangers of the plant by TEPCO and GE management which built the plant in Fukushima. It also interviews Kei Sugaoka, the GE nulcear plant inspector from the bay area who exposed cover-ups in the safety at the Fukushima plant and was retaliated against by GE. This documentary allows the voices of the people and workers to speak out about the reality of the disaster and what this means not only for the people of Japan but the people of the world as the US government and nuclear industry continue to push for more new plants and government subsidies. This film breaks

the information blockade story line of the corporate media in Japan, the US and around the world that Fukushima is over.

Production Of Labor Video Project

P.O. Box 720027

San Francisco, CA 94172



For information on obtaining the video go to:




1000 year of war through the world



Anatomy of a Massacre - Afganistan


Afghans accuse multiple soldiers of pre-meditated murder

To see more go to http://www.youtube.com/user/journeymanpictures

Follow us on Facebook (http://goo.gl/YRw42) or Twitter


The recent massacre of 17 civilians by a rogue US soldier has been shrouded in

mystery. But through unprecedented access to those involved, this report

confronts the accusations that Bales didn't act alone.

"They came into my room and they killed my family". Stories like this are common

amongst the survivors in Aklozai and Najiban. As are the shocking accusations

that Sergeant Bales was not acting alone. Even President Karzai has announced

"one man can not do that". Chief investigator, General Karimi, is suspicious

that despite being fully armed, Bales freely left his base without raising

alarm. "How come he leaves at night and nobody is aware? Every time we have

weapon accountability and personal accountability." These are just a few of the

questions the American army and government are yet to answer. One thing however

is very clear, the massacre has unleashed a wave of grief and outrage which

means relations in Kandahar will be tense for years to come: "If I could lay my

hands on those infidels, I would rip them apart with my bare hands."

A Film By SBS

Distributed By Journeyman Pictures

April 2012


Photo of George Zimmerman, in 2005 photo, left, and in a more recent photo.



SPD Security Cams.wmv



Kids being put on buses and transported from school to "alternate locations" in

Terror Drills



Private prisons,

a recession resistant investment opportunity



Attack Dogs used on a High School Walkout in MD, Four Students Charged With

"Thought Crimes"



Common forms of misconduct by Law Enforcement Officials and Prosecutors



Organizing and Instigating: OCCUPY - Ronnie Goodman



Rep News 12: Yes We Kony



The New Black by The Mavrix - Official Music Video



Japan One Year Later



The CIA's Heart Attack Gun




The Invisible American Workforce



Labor Beat: NATO vs The 1st Amendment


For more detailed information, send us a request at mail@laborbeat.org.


The Battle of Oakland

by brandon jourdan plus



Officers Pulled Off Street After Tape of Beating Surfaces


February 1, 2012, 10:56 am




This is excellent! Michelle Alexander pulls no punches!

Michelle Alexander, Author of The New Jim Crow, speaks about the political


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


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





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 WhiteHouse.gov.

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...

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



"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



Release Bradley Manning

Almost Gone (The Ballad Of Bradley Manning)

Written by Graham Nash and James Raymond (son of David Crosby)



Julian Assange: Why the world needs WikiLeaks



School police increasingly arresting American students?




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?






We Are The People Who Will Save Our Schools




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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8x1_q9wg58

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




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 www.laborvideo.org


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






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



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



Live arrest at brooklyn bridge #occupywallstreet by We are Change







One World One Revolution -- MUST SEE VIDEO -- Powerful and beautiful...bw


"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



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



Coal Ash: One Valley's Tale