Saturday, June 27, 2009

White House Drafts Executive Order to Allow Indefinite Detention of Terror Suspects. Another Civil Liberties Shocker from the Obama White House.

White House Is Drafting Executive Order to Allow Indefinite Detention; Move Would Bypass Congress

by Dafna Linzer, ProPublica, and Peter Finn, Washington Post - June 26, 2009 4:25 pm EDT
Getty Images/AP Images/Lauren Victoria Burke/
Getty Images/AP Images/Lauren Victoria Burke/

The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close Guantanamo, is drafting an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate suspected terrorists indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.

Such an order would embrace claims by former President George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that bypassing Congress could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said.

After months of internal debate over how to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, White House officials are growing increasingly worried that reaching quick agreement with Congress on a new detention system may prove impossible. Several officials said there is concern in the White House that the administration may not be able to close the facility by the president's January 2010 deadline.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt did not directly respond to questions about an executive order but said the administration would address the cases of Guantanamo detainees in a manner "consistent with the national security interests of the United States and the interests of justice."

One administration official suggested the White House was already trying to build support for an executive order.

"Civil liberties groups have encouraged the administration, that if a prolonged detention system were to be sought, to do it through executive order," the official said. Such an order can be rescinded and would not block later efforts to write legislation, but civil liberties groups generally oppose long-term detention, arguing that detainees should either be prosecuted or released.

The Justice Department has declined comment on the prospects for a long-term detention system while internal reviews of Guantanamo detainees are underway. The reviews are expected to be completed by July 21.

In a May speech [1], President Obama broached the need for a system of long-term detention and suggested that it would include congressional and judicial oversight. "We must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can't be based simply on what I or the Executive Branch decide alone," the president said.

Some of Obama's top legal advisers, along with a handful of influential Republican and Democratic lawmakers, have pushed for the creation of a "national security court" to supervise the incarceration of detainees deemed too dangerous to release but who cannot be charged or tried.

But the three senior government officials said the White House has turned away from that option, at least for now, because legislation establishing a special court would be both difficult to pass and likely to fracture Obama's own party. These officials, as well as others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations.

In this pool photo, reviewed by the U.S. military, and shot through glass, a guard watches over Guantanamo detainees inside the exercise yard at Camp 5 detention facility at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, on May 31, 2009. (Brennan Linsley/AFP/Getty Images)
In this pool photo, reviewed by the U.S. military, and shot through glass, a guard watches over Guantanamo detainees inside the exercise yard at Camp 5 detention facility at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, on May 31, 2009. (Brennan Linsley/AFP/Getty Images)
On the day Obama took office, 242 men were imprisoned at Guantanamo. In his May speech, the president outlined five strategies the administration would use to deal with them: criminal trials, revamped military tribunals, transfers to other countries, releases and continued detention. (Read our sidebar: "Review of Gitmo Detainees Has Been Slow and Complex [2].")

Since the inauguration, 11 detainees have been released or transferred, one prisoner committed suicide and one was moved to New York to face terrorism charges in federal court.

Administration officials said the cases of about half of the remaining 229 detainees have been reviewed for prosecution or release. Two officials involved in a Justice Department review of possible prosecutions said the administration is strongly considering criminal charges in federal court for Khaled Sheik Mohammed and three other detainees accused of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The other half, the officials said, present the greatest difficulty because these detainees cannot be prosecuted either in federal court or military commissions. In many cases, the evidence against them is classified, has been provided by foreign intelligence services, or has been tainted by the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques.

Attorney General Eric Holder agreed with an assessment offered during congressional testimony this month that fewer than 25 percent of the detainees would be charged in criminal courts and that 50 others have been approved for transfer or release. One official said the administration is still hoping that as many as 70 Yemeni citizens will be moved, in stages, into a rehabilitation program in Saudi Arabia.

Three months into the Justice Department's reviews, several officials involved said they have found themselves agreeing with conclusions reached years earlier by the Bush administration: As many as 90 detainees can not be charged or released.

The White House has spent months meeting with key congressional leaders in the hopes of reaching agreement on long-term detention, even as public support for such a plan has wavered as lawmakers have sought to prevent detainees from being transferred to their home states.

Lawyers for the administration are now in negotiations with Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., over separate legislation that would revamp military commissions. A senior Republican staff member said that senators have yet to see "a comprehensive, detailed policy" on long-term detention from the administration.

"They can do it without congressional backing, but I think there would be very strong concerns," the staff member said, adding that "Congress could cut off funding" for any detention system established in the United States.

Concerns are growing among Obama's advisers that Congress may try to assert too much control over the process. Earlier this week, Obama signed an appropriations bill that forces the administration to report to Congress before moving any detainee out of Guantanamo and prevents the White House from using available funds to move detainees onto U.S. soil.

"Legislation could kill Obama's plans," said one government official involved. The official said an executive order could be the best option for the president at this juncture.

Under one White House draft that was being discussed earlier this month, according to administration officials, detainees would be imprisoned at a military facility on U.S. soil, but their ongoing detention would be subject to annual presidential review. U.S. citizens would not be held in the system. (Last month, ProPublica explored the key issues around preventive detention [3].)

Such detainees -- those at Guantanamo and those who may be captured in the future -- would also have the right to legal representation during confinement and access to some of the information that is being used to keep them behind bars. Anyone detained under this order would have a right to challenge his detention before a judge.

Officials argue that the plan would give detainees more rights and allow them a better chance to one day end their indefinite incarceration than they have now at Guantanamo.

But some senior Democrats see long-term detention as tantamount to reestablishing the Guantanamo system on U.S. soil. "I think this could be a very big mistake, because of how such a system could be perceived throughout the world," Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., told Holder.

One administration official said future transfers to the United States for long-term detention would be rare. Al-Qaida operatives captured on the battlefield, which the official defined as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and possibly the Horn of Africa, would be held in battlefield facilities. Suspects captured elsewhere in the world could be transferred to the United States for federal prosecution, turned over to local authorities, or returned to their home country.

"Going forward, unless it's an extraordinary case, you will not see new transfers to the U.S. for indefinite detention," the official said.

Instituting long-term detention through an executive order would leave Obama vulnerable to charges that he is willing to forsake the legislative branch of government, as his predecessor often did. Bush's detention policies suffered successive defeats in the courts in part because they lacked congressional approval and tried to exclude judicial oversight.

"There is no statute prohibiting the president from doing this through executive order and so far courts have not ruled in ways that would bar him from doing so," said Matthew Waxman, who worked on detainee issues at the Defense Department during Bush's first term. But Waxman, who waged an internal battle inside the Bush administration for more congressional cooperation, said the "courts are more likely to defer to the president and legislative branch when they speak with one voice on these issues."

Walid bin Attash (AP Images/Getty Images)
Walid bin Attash (AP Images/Getty Images)
Walid bin Attash, who is accused [4] of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 and who was held at a secret CIA prison, could be among those subject to long-term detention, according to one senior official.

Little information on bin Attash's case has been made public, but officials who have reviewed his file said the Justice Department has concluded that none of the three witnesses against him can be brought to testify in court. One witness, who was jailed in Yemen, escaped several years ago. A second witness remains incarcerated, but the government of Yemen will not allow him to testify.

Administration officials believe that testimony from the only witness in U.S. custody, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, may be inadmissible because he was subjected to harsh interrogation while in CIA custody.

"These issues haven't morphed simply because the administration changed," said Juan Zarate, who served as Bush's deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"The challenge for the new administration is how to solve these legal question of preventive detention in a way that is consistent with the Constitution, legitimate in the eyes of the world and doesn't create security loopholes that causes Congress to worry," Zarate said.

Washington Post staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

House Narrowly Passes Major Energy-Climate Bill

FOCUS | House Narrowly Passes Major Energy-Climate Bill

Steve Weissman, Truthout: "Peter Ackerman and Ramin Ahmadi called the revolution on January 4, 2006, in an article in the International Herald Tribune with the prophetic title 'Iran's Future? Watch the Streets.' Where would the Iranians find this vision and leadership?"

Friday, June 26, 2009



The CFA Board of Directors voted Tuesday to initiate a vote of the CFA membership only when details of the proposed furlough program are known.

“We cannot in good conscience ask our members to decide on this critical issue without answers to their questions about the impact of furloughs on faculty workload and faculty jobs, among other issues” said CFA President Lillian Taiz.

Taiz continued, ”We have taken steps to ready ourselves for a vote, but the CSU Administration must first provide CFA with the details necessary for the faculty to make an informed decision.”

Despite multiple inquiries from CFA, the Chancellor’s Labor Relations department has refused to say whether acceptance of the proposal would prevent the loss of even one class or one faculty job. In addition, they have yet to agree that a furlough for faculty should be accompanied by a reduction in workload.

Both issues—workload and faculty jobs--have been raised repeatedly in faculty communications to CFA.


CFA leaders met again with the Chancellor’s Office Labor Relations team Thursday to convey concerns on the Chancellor’s ambiguous furlough proposal. At the meeting they relayed many of the ideas for dealing with the crisis that faculty members have provided to CFA in the past weeks.

The Chancellor’s Office representatives again provided no concrete assurances on any of CFA’s concerns but did make a commitment to respond within a few days.

When more information is available, it will be relayed in CFA Headlines.


As CFA continues to receive questions from faculty members on the possibility of furloughs, CFA will update the FAQ document on the subject.

Like the hundreds of CSU faculty members who have communicated with CFA over the past few weeks, the CFA Board of Directors and Chapter leaders are deeply frustrated with the Chancellor’s handling of the CSU budget crisis and the furlough issue, in particular.

Where the FAQ is thin in detail, it is a reflection of the scant amount of information CFA has received from the Chancellor’s Office.

To view the updated FAQ, go to:

If after reading the Q&A you still have questions, you may send an email to:



With California’s political leaders locked in their annual budgetary dance, the state could be just days away from having to pay its bills with IOUs.

On Wednesday, State controller John Chiang warned that if a budget deal is not finalized by July 1, the state would be forced to start paying its bills with IOUs.

It should be noted that Chancellor’s Office staff have confirmed that the state Controller’s statement does not, at this time, apply to payment of CSU faculty and staff salaries.

With the threat of IOUs looming, Republicans and Democrats in the state Assembly agreed on a package of three bills Thursday that would have cut education spending and delayed other payments to achieve nearly $5 billion in savings.

The proposal would not have solved the state's $24.3 billion deficit, but it would have been enough to delay the state from running out of cash in July.

Among the bills passed by lawmakers Thursday was Senate Bill 64 which would implement $3.1 billion in cuts to K-12 schools, community colleges, California State University and the University of California in the current fiscal year.

This stop-gap solution was later struck down by Republicans in the state Senate who sided with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who earlier in the day announced he would veto the proposal because it did not address the entire deficit.

Both the Assembly and the Senate will hold floor sessions Friday – and perhaps throughout the weekend – to continue to work towards a final budget.


On Wednesday, CFA and its allies in the fight for a “Common Sense Budget” launched a statewide TV ad campaign calling on the Governor to stop protecting big oil and tobacco interests after slashing critical services for seniors, kids, and college students in the name of “shared sacrifice.”

The ad points out the contradiction between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s assertion that everyone must share the burden of balancing the budget and his actions to slash services for children, seniors and families while giving big business a pass.

California big business actually received a tax decrease of up to $2.5 billion in the budget agreement reached in February.

The ad will be broadcast on cable television in every major media market in the state. A Spanish-language version of the ad also will run in various markets across the State

The ad can be viewed at

The City that Ended Hunger

The City that Ended Hunger
by Frances Moore Lappé

A city in Brazil recruited local farmers to help do something U.S. cities have yet to do: end hunger.

“To search for solutions to hunger means to act within the principle that the status of a citizen surpasses that of a mere consumer.”

More than 10 years ago, Brazil’s fourth-largest city, Belo Horizonte, declared that food was a right of citizenship and started working to make good food available to all. One of its programs puts local farm produce into school meals. This and other projects cost the city less than 2 percent of its budget. Photo shows fresh passion fruit juice and salad as part of a school lunch. Photo by Leah Rimkus
More than 10 years ago, Brazil’s fourth-largest city, Belo Horizonte, declared that food was a right of citizenship and started working to make good food available to all. One of its programs puts local farm produce into school meals. This and other projects cost the city less than 2 percent of its budget. Above, fresh passion fruit juice and salad as part of a school lunch.
Photo by Leah Rimkus
In writing Diet for a Small Planet, I learned one simple truth: Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy. But that realization was only the beginning, for then I had to ask: What does a democracy look like that enables citizens to have a real voice in securing life’s essentials? Does it exist anywhere? Is it possible or a pipe dream? With hunger on the rise here in the United States—one in 10 of us is now turning to food stamps—these questions take on new urgency.

To begin to conceive of the possibility of a culture of empowered citizens making democracy work for them, real-life stories help—not models to adopt wholesale, but examples that capture key lessons. For me, the story of Brazil’s fourth largest city, Belo Horizonte, is a rich trove of such lessons. Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship. The officials said, in effect: If you are too poor to buy food in the market—you are no less a citizen. I am still accountable to you.

The new mayor, Patrus Ananias—now leader of the federal anti-hunger effort—began by creating a city agency, which included assembling a 20-member council of citizen, labor, business, and church representatives to advise in the design and implementation of a new food system. The city already involved regular citizens directly in allocating municipal resources—the “participatory budgeting” that started in the 1970s and has since spread across Brazil. During the first six years of Belo’s food-as-a-right policy, perhaps in response to the new emphasis on food security, the number of citizens engaging in the city’s participatory budgeting process doubled to more than 31,000.

The city of Belo Horizonte puts
The city of Belo Horizonte puts “Direct From the Country” farmer produce stands throughout busy downtown areas.
Photo by Leah Rimkus
The city agency developed dozens of innovations to assure everyone the right to food, especially by weaving together the interests of farmers and consumers. It offered local family farmers dozens of choice spots of public space on which to sell to urban consumers, essentially redistributing retailer mark-ups on produce—which often reached 100 percent—to consumers and the farmers. Farmers’ profits grew, since there was no wholesaler taking a cut. And poor people got access to fresh, healthy food.

When my daughter Anna and I visited Belo Horizonte to write Hope’s Edge we approached one of these stands. A farmer in a cheerful green smock, emblazoned with “Direct from the Countryside,” grinned as she told us, “I am able to support three children from my five acres now. Since I got this contract with the city, I’ve even been able to buy a truck.”

The improved prospects of these Belo farmers were remarkable considering that, as these programs were getting underway, farmers in the country as a whole saw their incomes drop by almost half.

In addition to the farmer-run stands, the city makes good food available by offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to bid on the right to use well-trafficked plots of city land for “ABC” markets, from the Portuguese acronym for “food at low prices.” Today there are 34 such markets where the city determines a set price—about two-thirds of the market price—of about twenty healthy items, mostly from in-state farmers and chosen by store-owners. Everything else they can sell at the market price.

ABC bulk produce markets stock the items that the city determines will be sold at a fixed price, about 13 cents per pound. Photo by Leah Rimkus
ABC bulk produce markets stock the items that the city determines will be sold at a fixed price, about 13 cents per pound.
Photo by Leah Rimkus
“For ABC sellers with the best spots, there’s another obligation attached to being able to use the city land,” a former manager within this city agency, Adriana Aranha, explained. “Every weekend they have to drive produce-laden trucks to the poor neighborhoods outside of the city center, so everyone can get good produce.”

Another product of food-as-a-right thinking is three large, airy “People’s Restaurants” (Restaurante Popular), plus a few smaller venues, that daily serve 12,000 or more people using mostly locally grown food for the equivalent of less than 50 cents a meal. When Anna and I ate in one, we saw hundreds of diners—grandparents and newborns, young couples, clusters of men, mothers with toddlers. Some were in well-worn street clothes, others in uniform, still others in business suits.

“I’ve been coming here every day for five years and have gained six kilos,” beamed one elderly, energetic man in faded khakis.

“It’s silly to pay more somewhere else for lower quality food,” an athletic-looking young man in a military police uniform told us. “I’ve been eating here every day for two years. It’s a good way to save money to buy a house so I can get married,” he said with a smile.

The line for one of three “People’s Restaurants” a half hour before opening time. Meals cost about 50 cents; diners come from all socio-economic groups. Photo by Leah Rimkus
The line for one of three “People’s Restaurants” a half hour before opening time. Meals cost about 50 cents; diners come from all socio-economic groups.
Photo by Leah Rimkus
No one has to prove they’re poor to eat in a People’s Restaurant, although about 85 percent of the diners are. The mixed clientele erases stigma and allows “food with dignity,” say those involved.

Belo’s food security initiatives also include extensive community and school gardens as well as nutrition classes. Plus, money the federal government contributes toward school lunches, once spent on processed, corporate food, now buys whole food mostly from local growers.

“We’re fighting the concept that the state is a terrible, incompetent administrator,” Adriana explained. “We’re showing that the state doesn’t have to provide everything, it can facilitate. It can create channels for people to find solutions themselves.”

For instance, the city, in partnership with a local university, is working to “keep the market honest in part simply by providing information,” Adriana told us. They survey the price of 45 basic foods and household items at dozens of supermarkets, then post the results at bus stops, online, on television and radio, and in newspapers so people know where the cheapest prices are.

The shift in frame to food as a right also led the Belo hunger-fighters to look for novel solutions. In one successful experiment, egg shells, manioc leaves, and other material normally thrown away were ground and mixed into flour for school kids’ daily bread. This enriched food also goes to nursery school children, who receive three meals a day courtesy of the city.

“I knew we had so much hunger in the world. But what is so upsetting, what I didn’t know when I started this, is it’s so easy. It’s so easy to end it.”

The result of these and other related innovations?

In just a decade Belo Horizonte cut its infant death rate—widely used as evidence of hunger—by more than half, and today these initiatives benefit almost 40 percent of the city’s 2.5 million population. One six-month period in 1999 saw infant malnutrition in a sample group reduced by 50 percent. And between 1993 and 2002 Belo Horizonte was the only locality in which consumption of fruits and vegetables went up.

The cost of these efforts?

Around $10 million annually, or less than 2 percent of the city budget. That’s about a penny a day per Belo resident.

Behind this dramatic, life-saving change is what Adriana calls a “new social mentality”—the realization that “everyone in our city benefits if all of us have access to good food, so—like health care or education—quality food for all is a public good.”

The Belo experience shows that a right to food does not necessarily mean more public handouts (although in emergencies, of course, it does.) It can mean redefining the “free” in “free market” as the freedom of all to participate. It can mean, as in Belo, building citizen-government partnerships driven by values of inclusion and mutual respect.

And when imagining food as a right of citizenship, please note: No change in human nature is required! Through most of human evolution—except for the last few thousand of roughly 200,000 years—Homo sapiens lived in societies where pervasive sharing of food was the norm. As food sharers, “especially among unrelated individuals,” humans are unique, writes Michael Gurven, an authority on hunter-gatherer food transfers. Except in times of extreme privation, when some eat, all eat.

Before leaving Belo, Anna and I had time to reflect a bit with Adriana. We wondered whether she realized that her city may be one of the few in the world taking this approach—food as a right of membership in the human family. So I asked, “When you began, did you realize how important what you are doing was? How much difference it might make? How rare it is in the entire world?”

Listening to her long response in Portuguese without understanding, I tried to be patient. But when her eyes moistened, I nudged our interpreter. I wanted to know what had touched her emotions.

“I knew we had so much hunger in the world,” Adriana said. “But what is so upsetting, what I didn’t know when I started this, is it’s so easy. It’s so easy to end it.”

Adriana’s words have stayed with me. They will forever. They hold perhaps Belo’s greatest lesson: that it is easy to end hunger if we are willing to break free of limiting frames and to see with new eyes—if we trust our hard-wired fellow feeling and act, no longer as mere voters or protesters, for or against government, but as problem-solving partners with government accountable to us.

Frances Moore Lappé wrote this article as part of Food for Everyone, the Spring 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Frances is the author of many books including Diet for a Small Planet and Get a Grip, co-founder of Food First and the Small Planet Institute, and a YES! contributing editor.

A well meaning relative sent me this, which got me to thinking...

A simple analogy

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before but had once failed an entire class.

That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.

The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

It could not be any simpler than that.


My thoughts;

The gentleman pictured, is a good representative of much of the media in this country.

He has confused socialism with communism...I submit that there is a huge difference. Canada, Brasil, the Netherlands, and Israel are socialist, and this incident would probably not happen there, at least with the colleagues I know and the schools and universities I observed (mostly as the students are 100 times brighter than ours). The dude needs to travel.

Incidentally, the socialist countries I mentioned above recognize my marriage, communist countries and the USA won't.

Communism like China, N. Korea, Cuba or USSR IS scary, when I hear "socialism" I think of the Netherlands or Denmark or Israel or Brazil or Chile... where no one is hungry, where everyone has access to good health care and education.

Having lived 2 years in a USA supported dictatorship (Guatemala), traveled in Latin America, Nepal, Canada, the Netherlands, Israel and lived in Brasil... I have been able to see the Amazing contrasts and difference between countries I have come to see the advantages to having good health care for all, access to good schools, universities, museums, and good and inexpensive public transportation...

It saddens me that most Americans are far too ignorant, self centered and selfish to think that the quality of our communities is less important than 1.5 cent increase on a sales tax...

tho I like his chuzpah... I think he's talking about Communism

American Jerk Be Civil, or I’ll Beat You to a Pulp

It was the most civil of times, it was the least civil of times, it was the age of politeness, it was the age of boorishness, it was the epoch of concern, it was the epoch of who cares, it was the season of hybrid, it was the season of Hummer, it was the spring of Obama, it was the winter of hate speech . . .


Some roadwork and a cactus bloom on trhe Ponderosa

The Universal House of Justice addresses a message to the Baha’is of Iran

The Universal House of Justice has addressed the following message dated 23 June 2009 to the Baha’is of Iran in light of recent events in that country.

23 June 2009

To the Bahá’ís of Iran

Dearly loved Friends,

With hearts grieved by events unfolding in Iran, we address this letter to you, the steadfast followers of Bahá’u’lláh in that land. To the concern for your safety that has long weighed on us is now added mounting fear for the safety of millions of Iranian men and women, so many of them at the pinnacle of their youth, their vast potentialities yearning to be realized. How rapidly have veils been rent asunder! Cruelty meted out in calculated measures to you and others over the years has been unleashed in the streets of Iran for all humanity to see. No matter what the turn of events, we are confident you will adhere firmly to the fundamental principle of our Faith that strictly prohibits any involvement in partisan political activity by individual Bahá’ís or by Bahá’í institutions. Yet you cannot remain aloof and insensitive to the suffering of your people. Decades of hardship have prepared each of you to stand as a beacon of strength in the circle of your family and friends, your neighbours and acquaintances, radiating hope and compassion to all those in need. Keep alive in your hearts the feeling of confidence that the future of Iran holds bright promise, the certitude that the light of knowledge will inevitably dispel the clouds of ignorance, the conviction that concern for justice will protect the nation from falling prey to calumny, and the belief that love will ultimately conquer hatred and enmity. You have demonstrated in the example of your lives that the proper response to oppression is neither to succumb in resignation nor to take on the characteristics of the oppressor. The victim of oppression can transcend it through an inner strength that shields the soul from bitterness and hatred and which sustains consistent, principled action. May the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá resound: “Iran shall become a focal centre of divine splendours. Her darksome soil will become luminous and her land will shine resplendent.” You and your compatriots are in our continued prayers.

[signed: The Universal House of Justice]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Important Chapter Meeting Noon 7/1 about budget cuts and furloughs

Dear CSUS faculty,
As you have no doubt heard, the CSU system's share of the latest round of budget cuts is $585M. The Chancellor's Office has proposed faculty and staff furloughs for two days per month as a way to offset about 50% of this budget cut. The proposal is only in the vaguest of terms: two Fridays per month, which translates to a 10.75% temporary reduction in pay for the typical 9-month faculty member. The alternative, according to the Chancellor's Office, are massive layoffs, perhaps as much as 9,000 faculty across the system. The Chancellor's Office cannot implement a furlough program without the CFA member's approval, but they can initiate the layoff procedure in accordance with the guidelines laid out in our Contract.
The Chancellor's Office has asked the various CSU labor unions, including the CFA, to approve this cost-saving measure, and some of the staff unions voted to approve it this week. The CFA has put off a member-wide vote until more details are disclosed about how such a furlough program would be implemented. There are literally hundreds of questions, from workload issues (will 10% less scholarship be required for promotion?), to class scheduling issues (what happens to labs that meet on Friday?), to questions about FERP and part-time faculty that raise real concerns about benefits, and of course where will the other 50% of the budget cuts ($300M) will come from. Without some clear answers to some of these questions, a system wide vote by faculty on the question of furloughs will be difficult, to say the least. CSUS CFA leadership met with President Gonzalez last week to ask that these questions be addressed as quickly as possible. Some answers may be forthcoming from the Chancellor's Office, so please watch your email for the CFA "Headlines" news email bulletin. There is also a very helpful Frequently Asked Questions on furloughs on the CFA website, (
We are calling a chapter wide meeting to discuss this important issue. Though we will not arrive at any decisions collectively, we will present all of the latest information and engage in a discussion about this process and the likelihood of an upcoming statewide vote on the issue. Please join us Wednesday July 1 from Noon until 2pm in Mendocino 1003. CFA statewide President Lillian Taiz will join us. We will have some light refreshments. Please RSVP to Any questions can be addressed to
Best Regards,
Lila Jacobs, President
Kevin Wehr, Vice-President
CFA CSUS Capitol Chapter

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Neda: An Angel of Freedom

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Neda: An Angel of Freedom

By Amil Imani

I am so restless, I cannot cease thinking! It seems like the world we live in reveals to us incessantly, at certain moments or in certain circumstances, just how little we are and how vast the universe is. This world of ours is a very complex world. The world we live in is a world of many brutal voices. It is a world of heavy blows and delirious trances, but it is the only world that we know.

Like millions of people around the world, the tragic death of Neda has affected me tremendously. I felt a temptation to scream and run to the end of the world and say my prayers with unusual earnestness and a heavy heart. I felt like screaming for the overflowing flood of human blood. I felt like screaming for the weary eyes and innocent moans of the victims of Iranian revolution. I felt apprehensive, anxious, and fearful. And now, as I take up my pen, my hand trembles and my head swims with horror and disbelief at the magnitude of the human devastation.

What’s in a name? Sometimes a name seems void of any meaning and sometimes a name embodies profound meaning, mysterious and even prophetic. Your name, our beloved Neda, the martyr daughter of Iran, literally means Divine Call, or Divine Summons, in Persian.

Dear Neda, when on the blessed day of your birth your parents hugged you joyously and named you Neda, they could hardly envision that you would be slaughtered in the prime of your life by a bullet of savage Islamists as you peacefully marched along with throngs of other Iranians seeking nothing more than what is your God-given right—the right to liberty and dignity.

Dear Neda, on the dreadful day that the bullet of a henchman of tyranny pierced your young heart, you collapsed on the pavement, gasped for air as your crimson blood painted the black asphalt. Your father tried desperately to revive you. He kept frantically telling you not to be afraid, not to be afraid. He was witnessing the death of his little girl and all he could do was to breathe encouragement in a vain hope of keeping you alive.

Our great Zoroaster, the luminous ancient prophet of Persia, spoke of the ongoing battle between the forces of good under Ahuramazda—God, and the forces of evil directed by Ahriman— Satan. Zoroaster warned us not to fall for the enticements or be disheartened by the atrocities of the forces of Ahriman. He further informed us that evil can be recognized by the deeds of its people; people who would oppose the precepts of Ahuramazda. The turbaned murderers cloaked in the robe of religion are wolves in sheep’s attire. They are indeed the agents of death (Ahriman).

But you, dear Neda, are a champion of the work of Ahuramazda. You have been destined for a great mission that required you to wing away from the loving bosom of your family into the eternal embrace of Mother Iran.

Dear Neda—O, Divine Call—O, Divine Summons—we mourn your death, yet we honor your call and summons:

A call and summons to follow in your footsteps with iron resolve.

A call and summons for the complete emancipation of millions of women, as well as men, who are suffering under the yoke of Islamic savagery.

Dear Neda, the meaning and mystery of your name was revealed to us on the dreadful day of your slaughter. You are to shine forever as a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration to all who struggle for justice, equality, and liberty.

Dear Neda, your departure broke our hearts. Yet, by your untimely tragic death, you steeled our resolve to carry on with your mission.

Dear Neda, this is our covenant with you. We will never give up. We will pay any price and make any sacrifice to achieve the mission you have entrusted into our hands.

Dear Neda, as you have joined the rarefied ranks of the immortals, I am moved to share with you a poem composed in the honor of another young Iranian heroine by the name of Mona.

Oh, you earthly angels!
You immigrating birds,
Whose only adornment
Is a bed of white feathers!
The innocent children of Iran,
Are wearing your white glowing robe,
And have left the memories of life,
To others!

I see the poor black swallows,
Flying over the ruins of our city!
I see overflowing pain,
With the hearts of every human being on earth!

My heart stops palpitating!
My breath starts to dry up!
My faith simply fades away,
And my bed falls silent.

Fly, little angel! Fly!
The wake of your wings brings new breath to our people!

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And of course there is good news!

US Stuns No. 1 Spain, Advances to Confederations Cup Final

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Wednesday night in chilly Bloemfontein, South Africa, the U.S. national team lodged one of its greatest victories in its history, beating FIFA No. 1 Spain 2-0 in the Confederations Cup semifinals. The win snapped Spain's 35-match unbeaten run, denying them a chance to set a new record at 36.

This win almost made me pull out the thesaurus for the proper word to describe it. Stunning? Yes. Unbelievable? Pretty close. Deserved? You bet.

However you want to term it, this was a rare, great night when everything turned up roses for the U.S. -- well, until a harsh red card on Michael Bradley in the 85th minute.

Is it the best win in the history of U.S. soccer? Hard to say. It certainly rates very near the top, with the only mitigating factor being that it was only in the Confederations Cup. It's right there with the famous 3-2 upset of Portugal at the 2002 World Cup and 1-0 win over Brazil at the 1998 Gold Cup semifinals. (The famous 1-0 win over England at the 1950 World Cup probably should be classified on its own since so much has changed since that match sepia-toned in Brazil.)

From the opening whistle, the U.S. showed absolutely no signs of the team that coughed up a 1-0 halftime lead to lose to Italy 3-1 or the team that was run off the field 3-0 by Brazil.

The U.S. stuck with two forwards -- Jozy Altidore and Charlies Davies -- and came out playing soccer. They weren't afraid of Spain, or it's 15-game winning streak. The U.S., and especially Landon Donovan, took it right to Spain in the first 10 minutes.

Coach Bob Bradley went with essentially the same lineup that defeated Egypt 3-0 on Sunday, except moving captain Carlos Bocanegra back into the team at left back and benching Jonathon Bornstein. He also reinserted Tim Howard for Brad Guzan in net.

In the 27th minute, the U.S. broke through when Altidore collected a pass from Clint Dempsey, turned around Spain defender Joan Capdevila and ripped a shot that hit off keeper Iker Casillas's hands and off the left post and into the net. A week ago, that shot would have went out for a corner, but Wednesday everything went the right way for the U.S.

Up a goal, the Americans braced for a Spanish onslaught, which came fast and furious for the rest of the match.

However, no matter what Spain tried, either a slew of players in white shirts were there to throw themselves at the shot, and if that didn't work Howard was there to make the save. More than once Howard went out at full stretch to deny Spain's top-class striker David Villa. He also made a great save with his foot to deny a pretty one-two to himself played by Fernando Torres.

Even with the mounting Spanish pressure it was not going to be La Roja's day.

That was evident in the 74th minute when Donovan appeared to have made a mistake by laying off a ball inside the Spain box instead of taking a shot. It rolled past the goal mouth and by Sergio Ramos, who whiffed on a clearance, right to Clint Dempsey at the back post, who poked it into the net for perhaps the most unlikely goal in recent U.S. international history.

The U.S. dug in for the final 15 minutes and weathered the storm without, as hard as it to believe, too many nervy moments. Spain simply had no answer for the eight or nine U.S. players packed inside the box. No matter what Spain threw forward, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit or the rest of the U.S. defense were there to get a head, a foot or anything on the ball and clear it away.

The only sour moment for the U.S. came when Bradley was sent off for a two-foot slide tackle in the final minutes. He will miss the final on Sunday against the winner of Thursday's Brazil-South Africa match.

Scanning around the Inter-webs quickly after the match, there seems to be another word bandied about regarding the U.S. win -- miracle. I'd tend to agree with them, except it wasn't a lucky bounce or anything of that nature.

Instead, the U.S. came out and played and completely deserved what they accomplished. The result, yes, might seem like a miracle in light of the first two games of the Confederations Cup. But watching how committed the U.S. played, calling it a miracle would diminish the Herculean effort all 11 men put forth to reach their first FIFA tournament final.

Grand Ayatollah Declares 3 Days of National Mourning

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri Declares Three Days of National Mourning

By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 21 June 2009

[TEHRAN BUREAU] Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the most important living cleric in Iran, and one of the most outspoken foes of the conservatives and hard-liners, has issued a statement about the attacks of the security forces on the demonstrators and the resulting casualties.

read entire article here

Iran's Religious Minority Speaks Out On Elections

Tell Me More, June 18, 2009 · Members of the Baha'i faith, Iran's largest religious minority, have long been discriminated against and persecuted by the Islamic Republic of Iran government. Farhad Sabetan, an official within the Baha'i faith community, offers a reaction to the recent elections.

Bill Moyers Journal | A Conversation With Poet W.S. Merwin

Bill Moyers Journal: "On the heels of winning this year's Pulitzer Prize for poetry, W.S. Merwin joins Bill Moyers for a wide-ranging conversation about language, his writing process, the natural world, and the insights gleaned from a much-lauded career that's spanned more than 50 years."

Bush Lied, Soldiers Keep Dying.

Bush Lied, Soldiers Keep Dying.
4,315 U.S. Military Fatalities in Iraq
712 U.S. Military Fatalities in Afghanistan
31,357 U.S. Military Maimed in Iraq (source: DoD Update as of June 16, 2009)
100,868 Iraqis Reported Killed (source: Iraq Body Count)
1,331,578 Iraqis Reported Killed (source:

courtesy of BuzzFlash

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I thought this piece made an interesting point. Perhaps you will think so also.

It's the Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After three minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

Four minutes later:

the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk.

Six minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A three-year-old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.

45 minutes:

The musician played. Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed.

No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew that the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception,taste and people's priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environmentat an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ....

How many other things are we missing?

Iran in Turmoil

Iran in Turmoil

Right now, the best source of up-to-the-minute reports on the evolving Iranian situation is from people in Iran sharing via social networking. We think twitter looks like perhaps the best source. We're going to be picking up selected tweets that appear to provide the best insight into what is happening. *Remember,* this is social networking, but it can also be used for social engineering. Verifiability is always an issue. Read with a cautious eye. -ma/TO
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