Apr 302010


Our investigation in Arizona discovered the real intent of the show-me-your-papers law.

Phoenix – Don’t be fooled. The way the media plays the story, it was a wave of racist, anti-immigrant hysteria that moved Arizona Republicans to pass a sick little law, signed last week, requiring every person in the state to carry papers proving they are US citizens.

I don’t buy it. Anti-Hispanic hysteria has always been as much a part of Arizona as the saguaro cactus and excessive air-conditioning.

What’s new here is not the politicians’ fear of a xenophobic “Teabag” uprising.

What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote – and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.

In 2008, working for “Rolling Stone” with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters . . . directed by one Jan Brewer.

Brewer, then secretary of state, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer’s command, no fewer than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanic, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.

That statistic caught my attention. Voting or registering to vote if you’re not a citizen is a felony, a big-time jail-time crime. And arresting such criminal voters is easy: After all, they give their names and addresses.

So I asked Brewer’s office, had she busted a single one of these thousands of allegedly illegal voters? Did she turn over even one name to the feds for prosecution?

No, not one.

Which raises the question: Were these disenfranchised voters the criminal, non-citizens that Brewer tagged them to be, or just not-quite-white voters given the Jose Crow treatment, entrapped in document-chase trickery?

The answer was provided by a federal prosecutor who was sent on a crazy hunt all over the Western mesas looking for these illegal voters. “We took over 100 complaints, we investigated for almost two years, I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case.”

This prosecutor, David Iglesias, is a prosecutor no more. When he refused to fabricate charges of illegal voting among immigrants, his firing was personally ordered by the president of the United States, George W. Bush, under orders from his boss, Karl Rove.

Iglesias’ jurisdiction was next door, in New Mexico, but he told me that Rove and the Republican chieftains were working nationwide to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria with public busts of illegal voters, even though there were none.

“They wanted some splashy pre-election indictments,” Iglesias told me. The former prosecutor, himself a Republican, paid the price when he stood up to this vicious attack on citizenship.

But Secretary of State Brewer followed the Rove plan to a T. The weapon she used to slice the Arizona voter rolls was a 2004 law, known as “Prop 200,” which required proof of citizenship to register. It is important to see the Republicans’ latest legislative horror show, sanctioning cops to stop residents and prove citizenship, as just one more step in the party’s desperate plan to impede Mexican-Americans from marching to the ballot box.

(By the way, no one elected Brewer. Weirdly, Barack Obama placed her in office last year when, for reasons known only to the Devil and Rahm Emanuel, the president appointed Arizona’s Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano to his cabinet, which automatically moved Republican Brewer into the Governor’s office.)

State Senator Russell Pearce, the Republican sponsor of the latest ID law, gave away his real intent, blocking the vote, when he said, “There is a massive effort under way to register illegal aliens in this country.”

How many? Pearce’s PR flak told me, five million. All Democrats, too. Again, I asked Pearce’s office to give me their names and addresses from their phony registration forms. I’d happily make a citizens arrest of each one, on camera. Pearce didn’t have five million names. He didn’t have five. He didn’t have one.

The horde of five million voters who swam the Rio Grande just to vote for Obama was calculated on a Republican website extrapolating from the number of Mexicans in a border town who refused jury service because they were not citizens. Not one, in fact, had registered to vote: they had registered to drive. They had obtained licenses as required by the law.

The illegal voters, “wetback” welfare moms, and alien job thieves are just GOP website wet dreams, but their mythic PR power helps the party’s electoral hacks chop away at voter rolls and civil rights with little more than a whimper from the Democrats.

Indeed, one reason, I discovered, that some Democrats are silent is that they are in on the game themselves. In New Mexico, Democratic Party bosses tossed away ballots of Pueblo Indians to cut native influence in party primaries.

But what’s wrong with requiring folks to prove they’re American if they want to vote and live in America? The answer: because the vast majority of perfectly legal voters and residents who lack ID sufficient for Ms. Brewer and Mr. Pearce are citizens of color, citizens of poverty.

According to a study by professor Matt Barreto, of Washington State University, minority citizens are half as likely as whites to have the government ID. The numbers are dreadfully worse when income is factored in.

Just outside Phoenix, without Brewer’s or Pearce’s help, I did locate one of these evil un-American voters, that is, someone who could not prove her citizenship: 100-year-old Shirley Preiss. Her US birth certificate was nowhere to be found, as it never existed.

Greg Palast overlooking Maricopa County Prison
Reporter Greg Palast in a guard tower looking out on Joe Arpaio’s jail in Maricopa County, Arizona. (Photo: Greg Palast)

In Phoenix, I stopped in at the Maricopa County prison where Sheriff Joe Arpaio houses the captives of his campaign to stop illegal immigration. Arpaio, who under the new Arizona law will be empowered to choose his targets for citizenship testing, is already facing federal indictment for his racially charged and legally suspect methods.

Greg Palast entering Maricopa County Prison

Ok, I admit, I was a little nervous, passing through the iron doors with a big sign, “NOTICE: ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE PROHIBITED FROM VISITING ANYONE IN THIS JAIL.” I mean, Grandma Palast snuck into the USA via Windsor, Canada. We Palasts are illegal as they come, but Arpaio’s sophisticated deportee-sniffer didn’t stop this white boy from entering his sanctum.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Not to stop non-citizens from entering Arizona – after all, who else would care for the country club lawn? – but to harass folks of the wrong color: Democratic blue.

Apr 292010

Dave Ewoldt

When asked, “What kind of policy changes would address the
root cause of the immigration problem?” Here’s the answer I posted on Facebook. This evolved from a conversation I’ve been having over the past week with a Phoenix Republican on Daniel Patterson’s (D-LD29) Facebook page.

It starts with a reframing of the issue. The fear-mongers like to say that the US is being invaded by illegals. But it sure seems to me like less of an invasion than the fact that they’re being driven. We can’t just simplistically explain away the ravages of corporate globalization by scapegoating. We’re confusing effect with cause. For example, we want to believe that it’s not wage depression due to NAFTA, or job loss due to off-shoring for higher profits, but that it’s unsecure borders that are allowing “illegals” to come steal our jobs and consume our social resources.

The reality is that people’s lands and livelihoods are being taken from them (all over the Global South) as a direct result of foreign and domestic policy that benefits a very narrow band of special interests. Understanding the cause is the first step in creating solutions. Scapegoating and only slapping band-aids on symptoms will make life worse for Arizonans, as well as everyone else. And, it can be objectively shown that these same US policies are responsible for a deteriorating quality of life for the majority as well as the quickly disappearing middle class.

We must also keep in mind that there’s not a single fix, no magic bullet, but a number of interrelated strategies. We have to at least be honest about how the system we’ve setup is operating, what its real-world consequences are as opposed to what the theory insists should occur, and see what areas of agreement both sides in the debate can find to both return America to its greatness on the world stage and improve people’s quality of life (which is too often confused with standard of living).

The actual policy response to immigration starts with strengthening local economies, both our own and Mexico’s. This means ending subsidies for BigAg, dumping NAFTA and the WTO, and moving beyond the myth that export economies actually help anyone–besides Central Banks, that is. We must end the practice of off-shoring jobs in the race to the bottom as we elevate profit above people and planet. Profit does have its place, but I have a hard time believing it is more important than life. Further, states must reclaim their sovereign right to revoke corporate charters when harms outweigh benefits to society. If corporations want to claim the rights of
personhood, then they must also accept the responsibilities. We must also start being honest about the need for family planning, pre-natal and childhood nutrition, equitable access to health care, and elderly care. This would go a long way toward lowering birthrates without draconian Chinese style mandates that many opponents like to insist would be necessary.

What it comes down to is that if people’s needs can be met in the homes with the families that they love, they won’t feel the need to go somewhere else.

For the Earth…
_dave_(this entire message is composed of recycled electrons)
Natural Systems Solutions
Sustainable lifestyles, organizations, and communities

Apr 292010

War In Context
by Paul Woodward on April 28, 2010

In a talk delivered to the Fifth Bilin International Conference for Palestinian Popular Resistance, held in the West Bank village of Bilin on April 21, Jonathan Cook described some of the aspects of Israeli apartheid — the systematic discrimination between Jews and non-Jews inside the state of Israel.

A few weeks ago I met Uzi Ornan, an 86-year-old professor from the Technion University in Haifa, who has one of the few ID cards in Israel stating a nationality of “Hebrew.” For most other Israelis, their cards and personal records state their nationality as “Jewish” or “Arab.” For immigrants whose Jewishness is accepted by the state but questioned by the rabbinical authorities, some 130 other classifications of nationality have been approved, mostly relating to a person’s religion or country of origin. The only nationality you will not find on the list is “Israeli.” That is precisely why Professor Ornan and two dozen others are fighting through the courts: they want to be registered as “Israelis.” It is a hugely important fight – and for that reason alone they are certain to lose. Why?

Far more is at stake than an ethnic or national label. Israel excludes a nationality of “Israeli” to ensure that, in fulfillment of its self-definition as a “Jewish state,” it is able to assign superior rights of citizenship to the collective “nation” of Jews around the globe than to the body of actual citizens in its territory, which includes many Palestinians. In practice it does this by creating two main classes of citizenship: a Jewish citizenship for “Jewish nationals” and an Arab citizenship for “Arab nationals.” Both nationalities were effectively invented by Israel and have no meaning outside Israel.

This differentiation in citizenship is recognized in Israeli law: the Law of Return, for Jews, makes immigration all but automatic for any Jew around the world who wishes it; and the Citizenship Law, for non-Jews, determines on any entirely separate basis the rights of the country’s Palestinian minority to citizenship. Even more importantly, the latter law abolishes the rights of the Palestinian citizens’ relatives, who were expelled by force in 1948, to return to their homes and land. There are, in other words, two legal systems of citizenship in Israel, differentiating between the rights of citizens based on whether they are Jews or Palestinians.

That, in itself, meets the definition of apartheid, as set out by the United Nations in 1973: “Any legislative measures or other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic, and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups.” The clause includes the following rights: “the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”

Such separation of citizenship is absolutely essential to the maintenance of Israel as a Jewish state. Were all citizens to be defined uniformly as Israelis, were there to be only one law regarding citizenship, then very dramatic consequences would follow. The most significant would be that the Law of Return would either cease to apply to Jews or apply equally to Palestinian citizens, allowing them to bring their exiled relatives to Israel – the much-feared Right of Return. In either a longer or shorter period, Israel’s Jewish majority would be eroded and Israel would become a binational state, probably with a Palestinian majority.

Apr 292010


Tokyo, Japan (CNN) — An ongoing feud with the United States over the future of an American military base in Okinawa may end up costing Japan’s prime minister his job, a weekend poll shows.

Two out of three Japanese say they disapprove of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, according to a Nikkei newspaper poll. It shows that 68 percent of voters disapprove of the prime minister’s performance and 59 percent say he should resign if he can’t resolve the fight over the future of the Futenma Air Base in Okinawa.

The poll comes on the heels of a massive rally in Okinawa, where nearly 100,000 residents gathered Sunday to demand the base move off the island.

In 2006, the United States and Japan agreed to move the base from a city center to a rural part of Okinawa.

But last year, as then-candidate Hatoyama campaigned for the country’s top job, he promised to move the base off of Okinawa altogether. The issue is an emotional one for Okinawans who currently give up 10 percent to 20 percent of the island to the U.S. military.

Okinawans say the U.S. military has been responsible for a number of blights in Okinawa, from serious crimes like rape and drunken driving, to environmental and noise pollution.

The residents, energized by an anti-U.S. campaign pledge in the last election, voted overwhelmingly for Hatoyama. But as prime minister, Hatoyama has found the promise difficult to keep, prompting residents to demand that he fulfill that pledge.

The U.S., Japan’s closest ally, says Japan should live up to the 2006 agreement. Hatoyama has pushed back, saying his government will look at other options. The two governments have established a working group to find an agreeable solution, but in the meantime, it has frayed the normally lockstep relationship between the allies.

In Japan, analysts say the lack of a quick solution to the base issue is dragging down Hatoyama’s poll numbers and entire agenda.

“When a politician picks up a populist issue, he has to put it down in a populist manner, to please all the Japanese people,” said Keith Henry, principal officer at Asia Strategy in Tokyo.

“Mr. Hatoyama has failed completely as a Japanese politician, as a leader of this country to take control of that issue,” Henry said. “What should have been a regional issue within Okinawa has become a national referendum on Hatoyama himself, and unfortunately, on the state of U.S.-Japan relations.”

Turning up the heat even more, Okinawans are taking their protest this week to the United States. The Japan-U.S. Citizens for Okinawa Network and the Network for Okinawa have paid for a full page ad to run in The Washington Post this week. The ad reads: “Would you want 30 military bases in your backyard?” and asks: “Tell the Obama Administration: We don’t need this base in Okinawa.”

Apr 272010

People’s Daily Online

Swedish climate expert Dr. Fred Goldberg has said that carbon dioxide is not the main cause of the global warming. The climate change is not affected by human action, but mainly by the solar activities and ocean currents such as PDO (Pacific Decadal oscillations). He even predicts that the earth is going to experience colder winters in the following years or even decades.

Goldberg stressed that man should separate the concept of climate change from environmental issues. He holds that climate change is natural and caused by the sun activity, but the urban heat island effect and environmental problems are mainly caused by human activities and behavior. In an exclusive interview with People’s Daily Online, Goldberg explained his ideas.

History of climate on earth

“We could have an ice age any time,” Dr. Goldberg says, “Over the past one million years, we have experienced eight ice ages. Eighty percent of the last million years was ice age. We are lucky to live in this short inter-glacial period.”

“If we go down to the last 4000 to 3500 years in the Bronze Age period, it was three degrees warmer than today on the northern hemisphere at least,” Goldberg explained.

“Two thousand years ago, during the Roman period or during China’s East Han Dynasty, the temperature was two degrees higher than now,” he said.
During the Viking era a thousand years ago it was one degree Celsius warmer.

Goldberg said there is a nearly 1000 year cycle in climate change but there is a downward trend indicating that we are going towards a new ice age within 4000 years.

During the Viking era or the medieval Warm Period it was warm enough to grow grapes and cereal in England, he said.

“We had a new peak in high temperature in 2002 after a solar activity maximum, now the temperature is going down again. So we are heading into a cooling period.”

“If you look at the last 150 years, we had a warming period from 1910 to 1940 and then a cooling period from 1941 to 1977. Then it was a warming period from 1977 to 2002,” Goldberg said. This shows a 60 year cycle correlating to the ocean current PDO in the Pacific Ocean.

During the depression period 1929-1933, the production of CO2 went down by 30 percent. But due to the increase of the global temperature, the CO2 increased in the atmosphere because of the heating of the oceans thereby emitting CO2.

In 1991, there was an eruption of the Pinatubo volcano, one saw the reduction of CO2 because the volcano ash blocked the sun causing a cooling of the oceans. Goldberg said this is an indication that it was the solar activity that decides the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Can we trust the measurement of the global temperature?

Dr. Goldberg said that there is an urban effect around heavily populated cities in our world, for example, the gap in temperature between the suburban Stockholm and the city center can often be at least 2 degrees Celsius. And the gap between Beijing city center and Great Wall area can be six degrees Celsius. The urban effect is caused by human’s construction, transportation and the density of the housing and population, but this is not a global effect.

“You cannot compensate for urban effects because you don’t know how much it is, it changes with cloudiness, time of day, sun position over the horizon, wind intensity and direction and winter or summer,” Goldberg said.

He questioned the accuracy of the measurement in Al Gore’s The Inconvenient Truth. He said that in the USA about 900 stations accounting to 78 percent of the total are incorrectly located such as in the parking place or airports near the airplanes or runways where he believes it is definitely hotter than other natural areas such as mountains or rivers.
About 90 percent of the places where they measured the temperature are not according to regulations and have an error of 1 to 5 degrees C, which he thinks is very big. The only accurate way to measure temperature is with satellite, Goldberg said.

Another thing that matters is that climate scientist must do what they say they do,” Goldberg argued.

Phil Jones in Hadley Centre said he wouldn’t give out the data about his 25 years of work to someone who only wants to find something wrong with it thereby violating the Freedom of Information Act, Goldberg held.

How much carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere?

How much CO2 is there in the air? Only 0.0387 %, it has neither odor, nor color and is not poisonous. If there isn’t CO2, there will not be plant life, therefore, we must have CO2, we need it, Goldberg argued.

He said that the average amount of water vapor is 30.000 ppm. So the consequence of that is that 95 percent or even up to 98 percent of the total greenhouse effect is water vapor while only one percent is CO2. The other greenhouse gases are ozone, methane and CFC, etc.

Goldberg said even if human beings emit 100 ppm CO2, 98 percent of it will go into the ocean because of the chemical balance between the oceans and the atmosphere. The remaining 2 ppm will be added to the atmosphere which is negligible because there isn’t enough oil and gas in the world to generate enough carbon dioxide to change the climate.

Over the past 100 years, with an increase of 100 ppm CO2, the earth temperature only increased 0.7 degree. Thus it is not possible for the temperature to increase 2 degrees globally which our politicians want to prevent, Goldberg said.

Why? Goldberg explained that the ocean will absorb large amount of CO2. Once it is absorbed by the ocean, it will to some extent become calcium carbonate which is the same thing as limestone. Then the limestone will be building up at the bottom of the oceans. The whole island of Gotland which is the largest island in Sweden is formed of limestone.

“It was built up at the bottom of the ocean because the ocean absorbed the CO2 and when saturated it formed limestone sediments at the bottom of the ocean. The CO2 content in the atmosphere has been shrinking continuously. A billion years ago, there was 80 percent CO2 in the atmosphere, now it is 0.038 %. It ‘s been shrinking all the time, it is continuing because of the formations of limestone sediments in the oceans.” Goldberg explained.
He said that the transport of CO2 is controlled by ocean temperature. For example, one can send CO2 bubbles into a bottle of cold water which is about 5 degrees C, but if one opens the bottle and puts it on the table, the water temperature will increase, and the CO2 will leave the water soon.

The same theory, the lakes absorb a lot of CO2 in winter and it releases the CO2 in summer when the temperature reaches 23 to 25 degrees, you won’t have much CO2 in the water. Thus this is a natural process and with all the minerals in sea water, the sea water can absorbs 73 times more CO2 than fresh water.

“Mount Mauna Loa in Hawaii is the world’s largest live volcano which emits a lot of CO2. 87 percent of the data recorded there has to be edited. The data may therefore have been manipulated,” Goldberg said.
He said that in 1973 there was a big eruption and there were no measurements done for 3 months, but there is no data gap in the diagrams. Why? Asked Goldberg.

“Many climate scientists are bluffing in order to please the politicians who want to put a tax on CO2. These scientists live in symbiosis with the politicians. They both depend on each other,” Goldberg criticized this.

Solar activity decides whether the temperature is up or down

Goldberg said that solar activity has increased 3 times according to records from NASA earth observatory. This is something we can’t do anything about.

“The activity of the sun shows the highest activity ever recorded in 2002. Earlier history of solar activity can be seen from the distribution of isotopes in rocks and biomass which are depending on the solar activity,” Goldberg explained.

Sun activity heats the sea surface, and the sea releases CO2. Over the past 100 years, 100 ppm CO2 were emitted due to the warming of the sea surface.

In the atmosphere, there is 750 gigaton of carbon. In the ocean there is 38.100 gigatons of Carbondioxide. That is 50 times more according to the famous Henry’s Law. Henry’s law says that 98 percent of CO2 stays in the ocean while about 2 percent stays in the atmosphere.

It is estimated that humans today generate about 8 gigaton CO2. Thus we release approx. one percent of CO2 to the atmosphere. The biomass is absorbing 121 gigaton and the oceans 92 gigaton. That means 28 percent of the CO2 in the atmosphere is absorbed each year in a cycle. All the CO2 in the air will be absorbed in less than 5 years, which means if we emit one percent a year, that percent is also included in the absorption. So one can never find more than 4 percent of CO2 in the atmosphere coming from humans,” Goldberg explained.

Along the equator, the sun is heating the water. When the water is warmer, the water is releasing carbon dioxide (CO2). The colder the water is, the more CO2 it absorbs. And therefore the colder waters around the Arctic and Antarctica will absorb a lot of CO2. There is a huge cycle of CO2. If you take out the CO2 for plants, then the ocean will evaporate more to air. If you emit more, the ocean will take it up. Ocean controls the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The sun controls the ocean temperatures which in turn has a strong effect on the climate on earth.

“The people of Bangladesh breaths out 75 million tons CO2 per year, Sweden generates 60 million tons per year from all its industrial activities, transports and warming of houses etc. while the people in China breathes out 700-800 million tons per year. What does it mean? It means to reduce the amount of the CO2 will have no effect on our climate at all. You cannot do anything, I mean you cannot stop the sun from coming up tomorrow morning. If we cannot stop the sun from going up in the morning, can we change the CO2 system in the atmosphere? It is self regulated and sun-controlled,” Goldberg said.

Why comes El Nino?

So far no one can give a good explanation on why we have El Nino or other stormy weather. But Goldberg has his explanation.
“The sun is heating the ocean surface and water is evaporating off. When the water evaporates from the ocean, the salinity in the surface water increases. Then the water gets heavier. So the warm water get heavier and sinks, and then the less heavy water flows up to the surface. It exposes to the sun, and the same process continues. There is a salty warm water going down, and it drifts off with the current under the surface for some time. Then suddenly the current hits another current and pushes the water up, then comes up to the surface and releases the heat it collected. It happened on the east and west side of the Pacific Ocean depending on the pattern of the current,” Goldberg said.

Why does the arctic ice melt?

Goldberg explained that the reason we have the Gulf Stream is that the rotation of the earth creates a force to push the water north. To stop the Gulf stream, one has to stop the rotation of the earth.

It is the same theory with the ancient trade current or trade wind, when you travel from Europe to China, you have to wait for the winds to go in that direction and when you arrived in China, you have to wait another six months until the wind change direction so that you could sail back again.
Goldberg said in 1977, there was a great climate shift in the Pacific Ocean, the temperature in Alaska increased by 3 degree C in one year. In 2008, it decreased 3 degrees back to normal which means the warm water is not going to the Arctic Ocean any more.

“So when you hear the ice in Arctic Ocean is disappearing, it was because of this warm current flowing to the Arctic. Now it has stopped. So the ice is building up again. Very few seems to have understood this. They think it is the global warming that has melted the ice, but in fact, it is the warm current that melted the ice,” Goldberg said.

Then also strong currents carried the ice out into the Atlantic where it melts.
Goldberg said whether the current is warm or cold depends on if the PDO is positive or negative. If it is positive, there is warm current entering the Arctic Ocean and if it is negative, the warm water stays in the western Pacific Ocean.

Goldberg already predicted in the summer of 2009 that the 2010 winter will be a very cold one because the solar activity was zero according to data in NASA in the US and Kiruna in Northern Sweden.

“If we look at the history, we see almost three years without sun spot. Thus, I think it will be cold. Last time with a similar situation was between 1810 and 1812. That also coincided with the time when Napoleon invaded Moscow,” said Goldberg.

“I think China should prepare for future cold weather because as a consequence the food production will go down.” Goldberg concluded.
Goldberg focuses on climate issues for over a dozen years with well grounded science knowledge. He used to teach in Sweden’s Royal Technology University.

By Xuefei Chen, People’s Daily Online correspondent in Stockholm, chenxuefei7@hotmail.com

Apr 262010

Black Radio Network

Lawyers for a broad coalition of civil rights groups are preparing today to launch a massive federal court challenge to Arizona’s tough new illegal immigration law, expected to take effect in about 90 days.
Sources tell Black Radio Network that among those challenging Arizona will be the ACLU, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Action Network, the Hispanic Federation and the Puerto Rican Bar Association.
Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, vows he will take a page from the Montgomery bus boycott of the 60’s and bring Freedom Walkers to Arizona to risk arrest and go to jail to protest the new measure.
“We will go to Arizona when this bill goes into effect and walk the streets with people who refuse to give identification and force arrest. There is no place in America for this illegal racial profiling,” said Sharpton. He urged a boycott of Arizona, calling upon civil rights and religious groups to avoid holding conventions in the state.
Lillian Rodriquez Lopez, who heads the Hispanic Federation, said “this reminds me of Nazi Germany when people were stopped in the streets and ordered to show their papers.” She added this is “unconstitutional and a violation of our civil rights.”
An official of the Puerto Rican Bar Association accused Arizona of profiling an entire community and vowed to challenge the measure in court.
The legislation makes it a crime to be in the country illegally, requires local police in Arizona to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants, permits lawsuits against agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration law and makes it illegal to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.
Many civil rights activists say they will take to the streets nationally on May 1st to protest the Arizona measure.
President Obama has ordered the US Justice Department to see if the Arizona law violates Federal law and called it “misguided.”
Apr 262010

New York Times

Tucson could learn from Okinawans:

TOKYO — More than 90,000 Okinawans rallied Sunday to oppose the relocation of an American air base on their island, adding to the pressure on Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to resolve an issue that has divided Tokyo and Washington.

The Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, in the city of Ginowan, would be moved elsewhere on Okinawa under a 2006 deal.

The demonstrators, in one of the largest protests on Okinawa in years, demanded that Mr. Hatoyama scrap a 2006 agreement with the United States to move the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to a different site on the island. Many of the protesters wore yellow to signal they were giving Mr. Hatoyama a warning for appearing to waver on election promises to move the busy base off Okinawa altogether.

Since his party’s landmark election victory last summer, Mr. Hatoyama has promised to come up with an alternative plan that would reduce the heavy American presence on the southern Japanese island, home to nearly half of the 50,000 United States military personnel in Japan. He has given himself until the end of May to put together such a plan that would also be acceptable to Washington.

So far, his efforts to find a new location for the base have not appeased Washington; it initially demanded that Tokyo adhere to the original 2006 deal but has recently signaled greater flexibility. The 2006 deal calls for moving the base from its current location, in the center of the city of Ginowan, to Camp Schwab, an existing Marine base in less-populated northern Okinawa.

The perception that Mr. Hatoyama has mishandled the relationship with the United States, Japan’s longtime protector, has contributed to his falling approval ratings, which have dropped below 30 percent. Opposition leaders and media commentators have begun calling on him to resign if he fails to find a compromise by the end of May.

While Mr. Hatoyama has remained tight-lipped about what his plan may look like, officials from his government have made repeated visits to Okinawa to sound out local leaders. Okinawan politicians and the local news media have described the emerging plan as a modified version of the 2006 agreement.

They said the government was considering building a smaller airbase at Camp Schwab than under the 2006 agreement and moving at least part of Futenma’s functions — most likely some of its training operations, and perhaps some of its helicopters — to Tokunoshima, a smaller island about 120 miles north of Okinawa. Japanese news media have interpreted this proposal as a token gesture to appease Okinawans by moving at least some of the Marines off the island.

Okinawan leaders and local media reports have also said the government is considering constructing a new air base on an artificial island to be built off the Okinawan city of Uruma. Japanese media reports have said the island could take decades to build and would serve as a longer-term home for the Marines.

However, on Sunday, local leaders told the demonstrators that they rejected any plan that kept the air base on Okinawa. Toshio Shimabukuro, the mayor of Uruma, said he opposed the construction of the island, which he said would turn his city in “a major military site,” according to Japan’s Kyodo News.

The governor of Okinawa, Hirokazu Nakaima, who dropped his earlier support for the 2006 plan to join a rising movement against the base, called on the rest of Japan to share more of the burden of the American military presence. “This is not a problem that concerns only Okinawans,” he said, according to Kyodo.

Apr 252010

Center for Media and Democracy

A corporate front group with the populist-sounding name “Stop Too Big To Fail” (STBTF) is running a $1.6 million TV advertising campaign designed to appeal to liberal/progressives and get them to advocate against financial reform legislation currently under consideration in Congress. The ads target Senate Democrats in three states and ask viewers to tell their senators to “vote against this ‘phony financial reform’ ” and “support real reform, stop ‘too big to fail.’ ” STBTF has also put out a blitz of opinion columns on left-leaning Web sites. TPMMuckraker, which researched STBTF, says it has every indication of being an “astroturf operation funded by corporate interests to give the appearance of grassroots opposition to reform.” The group’s president is Robert K. Johnson, a serial astroturf group operator who also heads the corporate front Consumers for Competitive Choice (C4CC). C4CC was formerly known as “Consumers for Cable Choice,” a front group funded by big telecom companies like Verizon and SBC, which fought to deregulate the cable industry. STBTF also has links to the DCI Group, a well-known Washington, D.C. Republican lobbying and astroturfing business. STBTF sought the support a prominent former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Simon Johnson (no relation to Robert K. Johnson), who now advocates breaking up big banks. At first Simon Johnson agreed, and STBTF posted a picture of him on their Web site, but when Johnson realized the group was really pushing an anti-reform message, he demanded they stop using his name and likeness, and STBTF was forced to pull all references to S. Johnson from its Web site.

Apr 252010


WASHINGTON — While Goldman Sachs’ lawyers negotiated with the Securities and Exchange Commission over potentially explosive civil fraud charges, Goldman’s chief executive visited the White House at least four times.

White House logs show that Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein traveled to Washington for at least two events with President Barack Obama, whose 2008 presidential campaign received $994,795 in donations from Goldman’s employees and their relatives. He also met twice with Obama’s top economic adviser, Larry Summers.

No evidence has surfaced to suggest that Blankfein or any other Goldman executive raised the SEC case with the president or his aides. SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro said in a statement Wednesday that the SEC doesn’t coordinate enforcement actions with the White House or other political bodies.

Meanwhile, however, Goldman is retaining former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig as a member of its legal team. In addition, when he worked as an investment banker in Chicago a decade ago, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel advised one client who also retained Goldman as an adviser on the same $8.2 billion deal.

Goldman’s connections to the White House and the Obama administration are raising eyebrows at a time when Washington and Wall Street are dueling over how to overhaul regulation of the financial world.

Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist, said that “almost everything that the White House has done has been haunted by the personnel and the money of Goldman . . . as well as the suspicion that the White House, particularly early on, was pulling its punches out of deference to Goldman and its war chest.

“There’s now kind of a magnifying glass on the administration for any sign of interference or conversations with the regulators and the judiciary,” Jacobs said.

The SEC investigation of Goldman’s dealings lasted 18 months and culminated with the SEC filing civil fraud charges against the investment bank last week.

According to White House visitor logs, Blankfein was among the business leaders who attended an Obama speech on Feb. 13, 2009, and he also joined more than a dozen bank CEOs in a meeting with Obama on March 27, 2009.

Blankfein also was supposed be among the CEOs who met with Obama in December, but he and two others phoned in from New York, blaming inclement weather.

He and his wife, Laura, were listed on the logs among 438 presidential guests at the Kennedy Center Honors the previous week.

The logs also indicate that Blankfein met twice in 2009, on Feb. 4 and Sept. 30, with Summers, who was undersecretary of the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration when it was headed by Robert Rubin, a former Goldman CEO.

Asked whether Goldman executives had talked to administration officials about the SEC inquiry, Goldman spokesman Michael DuVally said that the firm doesn’t discuss “what conversations we may or may not have had with government officials.”

Schapiro’s statement said that she’s “disappointed” by Republican rhetoric suggesting that the SEC case against Goldman might have been timed to boost legislative prospects for a financial regulation overhaul bill, which Obama plans to pitch in a speech in New York Thursday.

“We do not coordinate our enforcement actions with the White House, Congress or political committees,” Schapiro said. “We do not time our cases around political events or the legislative calendar . . . We will neither bring cases, nor refrain from bringing them, because of the political consequences.”

Obama dismissed any such suggestion as “completely false” Wednesday, saying in a CNBC television interview that the SEC “never discussed with us anything with respect to the charges that would be brought.”

While describing Craig, his former counsel, as “one of the top lawyers in the country,” Obama also said that he’d imposed “the toughest ethics rules that any president’s ever had.”

“One thing he (Craig) knows is that he cannot talk to the White House,” Obama said. “He cannot lobby the White House. He cannot in any way use his former position to have any influence on us.”

Goldman’s chief spokesman, Lucas van Praag, said the firm “wanted Craig . . . for his wisdom and insight.”

Craig, now an attorney with the Washington law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagre & Flom, said: “I am a lawyer, not a lobbyist. Goldman Sachs has hired me to provide legal advice and to assist in its legal representation.”

Goldman’s nearly $1 million in campaign contributions to Obama’s presidential campaign were the most from any single employer except the University of California. Still, they represented only a fraction of the more than $700 million that the campaign raised.

“The vast majority of the money I got was from small donors all across the country,” Obama told CNBC. “Moreover, anybody who gave me money during the course of my campaign knew that I was on record in 2007 and 2008 pushing very strongly that we needed to reform how Wall Street did business.”

One White House insider who knows something about how Wall Street does business is chief of staff Emanuel, who earned millions of dollars in investment banking after he left the Clinton White House. His work for the Chicago-based financial services firm Wasserstein Perella & Co. intersected with Goldman in at least one deal.

In 1999, Emanuel was a key player representing Unicom Corp., the parent of Commonwealth Edison, in forging its merger with Peco Energy Co. to create utility giant Exelon Corp. Goldman was also advising Unicom.

The White House declined immediate comment on that connection.

Several former Goldman executives hold senior positions in the Obama administration, including Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Mark Patterson, a former Goldman lobbyist who is chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; and Robert Hormats, the undersecretary of state for economic, energy and agricultural affairs.

Jacobs of the University of Minnesota said that the administration now risks “kind of a feeding frenzy.”

“The administration has to be very careful,” he said, “because . . . they’re seen as the ones who bailed out Wall Street. If there are indications that the administration was talking to regulators or to Justice Department people about when and how Goldman or other firms would be investigated, I think that’s going to create almost a mob scene.”