May 26, 2008

Monster Among Us: A Must See ACLU Video About the Erosion of Our Civil Liberties

Steve & Sekou - "Monster Among Us"

The reality is we are fast approaching a genuine surveillance society in the United States - a dark future where our every move, our every transaction, our every communication is recorded, compiled, and stored away, ready to be examined and used against us by the authorities whenever they want. The ACLU has created this Surveillance Clock to symbolize just how close we are to a "midnight" of a genuine surveillance society. But it's not too late - there is still time to save our privacy.

• Powerful new technologies
• Weakening privacy laws
• The "War on Terror"
• Courts that let privacy rights slip away
• A president who thinks he can ignore the law
• Big corporations becoming extensions of the surveillance state

From the artists:

For this piece we needed to look no further for the inspiration then one of the ACLU's own reports. The piece was about technology as a monster and the chains struggling to contain it. It was such an apt and rich metaphor that we ran with it and expanded the idea. It helped because our struggle to that point was writing a short piece that did the issue justice. There are so many sub issues that fall under this large topic and the Monster metaphor gave us a way to deal with all of them.

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"few things more critical for our well being as a country then a good education for all its' citizens and few issues more demanding of a good education then the issue of sex" more...
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"'show us the body [of evidence against us]' is an idea so critical it deserves to be at the foundation of any free society and we wanted to expand on that" more...
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"The [report] was about technology as a monster and the chains struggling to contain it. It was such an apt and rich metaphor that we ran with it and expanded the idea" more...
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"The challenge at times working with ACLU, is to take serious, intellectual concepts and transform them into something emotional and alive. At the root of all these concepts is something beautiful and sacred." more...
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"How can racial profiling be anything more than a tool for injustice and discrimination, if one race is writing the description of dangerous races with one hand, while their other hand is covered in blood?" more...
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"Take America Back"
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"Choose Now"

> Abstinence-Only
> Surveillance
> Free Speech
> Racial Profiling
> Habeas Corpus

Even Bigger, Even Weaker: The Emerging Surveillance Society: Where Are We Now?

File Attached - click here for more info

Description: An Update to the ACLU Report, Bigger Monster, Weaker Chains

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> News: ACLU Sets New "Surveillance Society Clock" At Six Minutes Before Midnight
> Report: The Surveillance-Industrial Complex
> Video: It's Not Just Pizza
> Privacy & Technology at the ACLU
> The Challenge to NSA Spying

Freedom Files: Season Two Preview

The Freedom Files television series draws on the power of true stories to highlight vital civil liberties issues of our time and inspire viewers to take action. These half-hour documentaries feature the firsthand accounts of real people who have taken on the powers that be, often at great risk to themselves, in order to preserve their precious constitutional rights.

The Freedom Files Season Two Teacher's Guide presents a wealth of ideas to help you and your students delve more deeply into the issues raised in the videos. In it, you'll find suggestions for pre-viewing activities, follow-up discussion questions, group projects and much more.

May 25, 2008

NPR: Why Education Isn't a Hot Topic in Election 2008

Listen Now add to playlist

Weekend Edition Sunday, May 25, 2008 · The "Ed in '08" campaign got $60 million to try to make education a prominent issue in the race for the White House. Former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, the chairman of the nonprofit in charge of the project, talks with Ari Shapiro about why the topic hasn't been high on the candidates' radar.

May 24, 2008

Immigration Theater

from the Wallstreet Journal, page A10
May 24, 2008

Federal immigration officials raided an Iowa meatpacking plant this month in what is being called the largest operation of its kind in U.S. history. Nearly 400 of the plant's 900 employees were arrested on immigration charges. Do you feel safer?

Ever since immigration reform died in Congress last year, the Bush Administration has made a show of stepping up enforcement. But do homeland security officials really have nothing better to do than raid businesses that hire willing workers – especially in states like Iowa, where the jobless rate is 3.5%? These immigrants are obviously responding to a labor shortage for certain jobs. Giving them a legal way to enter the country would free up homeland security money and manpower to focus on real threats.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, lawmakers continue to ignore this economic reality and pretend that illegal immigration is nothing more than a law enforcement issue. The good news is that their latest attempt to turn employers into immigration police appears to have stalled.

The Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act (SAVE) was introduced by Heath Shuler, a North Carolina Democrat. The bill does nothing to increase legal immigration, which is the only realistic way to decrease illegal immigration. Instead, it throws more money at a mandatory employment verification system (E-Verify) for the nation's six million employers.

The Democrats never intended to pass the measure, mind you. While collecting co-sponsors, Mr. Shuler assured Democrats there would be no action this year. The idea was to provide election-year cover for House Democrats from red states, letting them cite the Shuler bill as proof they are cracking down on illegal immigration.

However, Republicans saw an opportunity to embarrass Democrats by forcing a floor vote on the SAVE Act. Restrictionists Brian Bilbray and Tom Tancredo began a discharge petition drive in early March, eventually gathering 189 of the 218 signatures needed to force a House vote on the bill. Democrats are now backing off the legislation, lest it divide their caucus.

Rahm Emanuel, the Blue Dog patron in the House leadership, told reporters that a recent Congressional Budget Office report had given him pause. The CBO estimated SAVE would cost more that $30 billion in lost tax revenues and spending because it would increase the number of employers and workers who resort to the black market outside of the tax system. (At last, dynamic scoring at CBO!)

Mr. Emanuel is also getting an earful from others in his party, notably Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Members of the Hispanic Caucus have made it clear that in a presidential election year when John McCain is partial to comprehensive immigration reform, Latino lawmakers can make life difficult for Democrats.

This political theater notwithstanding, the SAVE Act deserves to die on the merits. E-Verify is pitched as a check on undocumented workers. But this law would require that every worker in the country run this new verification gauntlet to change jobs.

E-Verify is currently a voluntary pilot program for new workers. About 50,000 employers use it, and studies have revealed problems galore, partly because the Social Security Administration (SSA) database on which it relies contains an error rate of around 4%. With about 55 million new hires in the U.S. annually, a 4% error rate means erroneously flagging some two million people each year. They would then have to visit their local SSA office to prove in person that they have permission to work in their native land.

Keep in mind that the SSA isn't exactly a model of speed and efficiency. By its own admission 50% of calls to branch offices and 25% to the 1-800 number aren't even answered. And what of calls that do get through? It currently takes, on average, more than 500 days to get a decision on a disability appeal. Even if E-Verify were ready for prime time, there's little chance it would reduce illegal immigration. As the CBO analysis concluded, an employment verification mandate is more likely to drive illegal aliens – most of whom now work on the books – into the underground economy, not out of the country.

It's also easy to lose perspective. Restrictionists insist that we're in the middle of an illegal alien "crisis." Yet illegal immigrant workers in the U.S. number about seven million, which is less than 5% of an overall workforce of 145 million people. Is this problem really big enough to justify a centralized federal government file on every U.S. worker?

You'd think Republicans would dislike a law that creates more expense and headaches for employers who are already overregulated. Instead, GOP lawmakers keep fooling themselves that immigration is an electoral winner, while Democrats like Rahm Emanuel ponder which wing of the caucus to placate.

May 23, 2008

ACLU Rejects FISA “Compromise”

Washington, DC – Responding to a proposal from Senate Intelligence Ranking Member, Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO), the American Civil Liberties Union today criticized yet another attempt to gut the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and grant immunity to telecommunications companies. The proposal, which has the backing of the Bush administration, would allow for cases against the telecommunications companies to be held in a secret court and redundantly would restate the provision already in FISA making it the exclusive means to wiretap within the United States – after weakening FISA to allow the president’s warrantless wiretapping program to proceed virtually unfettered.

"Senator Bond’s proposal sounds like an unconstitutional wolf in sheep’s clothing," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The administration has been running roughshod over the Constitution since it took office and any so-called compromise that has its stamp of approval simply cannot be trusted. The proposed immunity fix would be no better than a kangaroo court given the attorney general’s ability to dismiss cases simply because the administration had issued a sham certification. It’s ludicrous that the telecoms would be able to dismiss legitimate cases brought by their customers because they have a note from the president. Court review should look at whether the telecoms broke the law – and not clear them just because the president asked for the illegal actions. This proposal is not about compromise – it’s about giving the White House the green light to conduct domestic spying."

Despite the claims of court review of the pending telecom cases, nowhere in Senator Bond’s proposal does it say that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) can determine whether the surveillance was lawful. The attorney general would be the one to determine whether the certification was lawful with predictable consequences. Under this provision, if the government simply presented telecoms with a piece of paper, there’s a good chance the case against them will be dismissed.

The ACLU flagged the following problems with the draft as described by Sen. Bond:

  • Prior Court Review. The court review could be short-circuited for "exigent circumstances." This would include situations whenever information would be lost if time taken to apply for an order from the FISA court. Applying for a court order inevitably takes some time – but no matter how brief the time needed, this exception would cut off court review, making this exception so broad it could eviscerate the rule.
  • Probable Weak Standards for Exigent Orders. Currently under FISA, if the government issues an emergency order, and the court later finds it was improperly issued, the government must immediately stop surveillance and is prevented from using the information it collected. If this draft reiterates previous ones, these emergency collections can continue for months, and the government can keep and use everything it collected even if the court rules that there was no true exigent circumstance.
  • Sham Immunity "Compromise." Even as described by the Bond summary, the telecoms appear to be able to get out of pending lawsuits by just showing the secret FISA court the illegal orders it received from the president. The court reviews only whether the companies received orders, not whether the orders were legally sufficient.
  • Exclusivity Language. FISA already contains crystal clear exclusivity language, and reiterating it not a "compromise," but the status quo.

"Exclusivity cannot be a linchpin in this debate because it is already explicit within the statute," said Michelle Richardson, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "What’s the point of rewriting FISA to legitimize warrantless wiretapping then declaring it the exclusive means to do so? FISA was enacted to protect Americans from unwarranted and illegal government surveillance but, if Senator Bond gets his way, it will be rewritten as a blank check for domestic spying."

May 22, 2008

Memorial Day 2009

Apparently the Senate doesn't think there are enough fallen soldiers to honor this Memorial Day, so they have passed a funding bill to extend the Iraq war and occupation past Memorial Day 2009. And were they even thinking of the potentially thousands of Iraqis who will die? To add to the moral repugnance of the Senate's actions, they have tied important programs including GI and unemployment benefits to the Iraq funding bill. Vets can get college tuition, but they'll need to spend another year in Iraq first. See below for details on the Senate bill and to find out how your senators voted.

Are you as outraged as we are?

But we can't give up the fight just yet. The Senate bill will go back to the House of Representatives for a vote in the beginning of June. Before they vote though, members of Congress will be coming home for their week-long Memorial Day recess. That means they will be at parades, picnics, campaign events and in their offices. They must hear from you -- loud or silent, rude or polite, funny or solemn, in print, on the phone or in person. There are
many ways to convey one message: Stop funding the war, bring all our troops home now! Use as many of them as you can!

Please check the UFPJ calendar to see if there are any Memorial Day Peace events near you (and make sure your event is listed if you are organizing one).

Click here to find out who your representative is and the locations and phone numbers of their local offices.

Let us know how you contacted your representative -- phone, email, fax, in-person, etc. -- who you reached, what you said, and what the response was.

Additional Resources from UFPJ and UFPJ member groups:
Background Details
The Senate voted today, May 22, on three separate amendments:
The first vote produced a surprise outcome. It was an amendment approving billions in funding for a broad array of domestic programs, including increases in GI education funding, extension of unemployment benefits, levee construction in New Orleans, and a plethora of other good works. The amendment passed by a vote of 75-22.
The second vote was on Iraq war policies, including a withdrawal timeline, troop readiness requirements, no permanent bases and no toture. This amendment failed on a vote of 34-63.

The final vote was on $165.4 billion to fund the wars/occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan through next summer. This amendment passed on a vote of 70-26.

The Senate version of the bill (including the war funding and the domestic funding) will go back to the House for a vote after the Memorial Day recess. Last week, the House voted on three amendments similar to the amendments in the Senate. It defeated the war funding amendment and passed only the war policies and domestic programs.

How did your representative vote?

May 21, 2008

Sudan: Darfur crisis reached the capital

Amnesty International is gravely concerned by the Sudanese security forces' crackdown following the incursion into Khartoum, by an armed group. The crackdown has been characterized by serious human rights violations including hundreds of arbitrary arrests, cases of ill-treatment, as well as extra-judicial executions. These violations have mostly been targeted at Darfuris.

On Saturday 10 May 2008, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a Darfur based armed opposition group launched a military attack on the outskirts of Khartoum. The attack marked the beginning of a new phase of the conflict in Darfur, with an armed opposition group reaching the edges of the capital for the first time since the conflict's inception in 2003. Many members of the JEM were reportedly killed during the attack and scores were arrested.

The government's response to this military attack has since included hundreds of arbitrary arrests and some cases of extra-judicial executions. These have been carried out by the Sudanese police and National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and targeted at Darfuris, particularly from the Zaghawa ethnic tribe. Since the Sudanese forces repelled the attack a curfew was installed in Omdurman and check points were set up throughout the streets of the capital, allowing the arrest and detention of people travelling in buses and cars, while the NISS and the police have been raiding houses of Darfuris and their families.

"Civilians, mainly youths, have been brutally arrested in the streets, in their homes, and taken to yet unknown places of detention. The arrests in public places have been mostly based on their appearance, age, accent, and the colour of their skin." With these words, a prominent Sudanese lawyer expressed his concerns to Amnesty International over the arbitrary nature of arrests -- with individuals arrested on the basis of their ethnicity and age -, the associated ill-treatment and the lack of information about the places of detention. He told Amnesty International that young men, including minors, were more at risk because the JEM is known by the government to partially rely on young recruits. Eyewitnesses reported that those under threat of arrest were asked to pronounce certain words, to judge whether they were Darfuris or not.

The arrests include Darfuri men and women as well as entire families. Amnesty International further received reports of lawyers, journalists and at least one human rights activist having been arrested over the past week.

As of 21 May 2008, five members of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), a political opposition party, remain in detention after its leader Hassan Al Turabi and other members of the PCP were released.

Amnesty International condemns the arbitrary arrest of hundreds of people and urges the Sudanese Government to immediately and unconditionally release all those that were solely detained on the basis of their ethnicity or for the peaceful expression of their opinion.

Amnesty International asks the Sudanese Government to charge all other detainees with a recognizable criminal offence, or else release them immediately.

Eye witnesses spoke to Amnesty of the ill-treatment experienced by some of those arrested by the police and NISS during the arrest. One lawyer, who was released two days after he was detained, described how he and members of his family were dragged from their home and how he was beaten with rifles on his head and legs, leaving him with several serious injuries. Other witnesses spoke of extra-judicial executions of men and at least one woman in public in Omdurman. According to various reports, the woman was shot on 11 May by the NISS in the streets of Umbada in Omdurman, after she had protested against the arrest of her younger brother.

According to reports from his family, a 31 year old man from the White Nile was arrested by the NISS on either 16 or 17 May and taken to a NISS detention centre. He had already been arrested and released one day before, after he was accused of giving shelter to members of the JEM in one of his houses. On 19 May, when a relative went to inquire about his place of detention, he was informed by the NISS that the person in question had died of kidney failure whilst in detention. The NISS informed the relative that the condition had occurred on his first day of detention and that they had sent him to a NISS hospital, where he died after which he was transferred to a morgue. On 19 May, his family requested the morgue's doctor to perform a forensic examination before taking delivery of his body. The examinations revealed that he died from a heavy internal bleeding as a result of several severe injuries and bruising on different parts of his body.

Amnesty International calls on the government of Sudan to condemn and investigate all allegations of ill-treatment, torture and all extra-judicial executions that have taken place in the aftermath of the JEM attack.

Although a number of detainees, according to reports, might be held in Kober prison in Khartoum, the whereabouts of most of those arrested remain unknown. In the case of many, namely those who were arrested in the streets, their detaining authority is also unknown. Families of those arrested consider them as missing. Amnesty International is concerned that many may have been subject to enforced disappearance.

The numbers and circumstances in which people are being arrested, the uncertainty surrounding their whereabouts and the ill-treatment associated with the arrests all lead to serious concerns over the fate of those detained. Amnesty International is gravely concerned over those held in incommunicado detention, possibly in non-recognised detention centres, with no access to lawyers or relatives, putting them at increased risk of torture and extra-judicial killings.

Amnesty International is further concerned over the fate of persons without identification living in the capital. The arrests are widespread and taking place throughout the city and on public transport, putting those who are unable to provide a proof of their identity more at risk.

Amnesty International received unconfirmed reports of mass graves following the attack by JEM on 10 May, one of them allegedly in Western Omdurman. Amnesty International demands that these possible sites are identified and secured so that independent investigators, with the requisite expertise, can examine them.

Amnesty International further urges the authorities to repeal Article 31 of the National Security Forces Act, which allows detainees to be held for up to nine months without access to judicial review.

Amnesty International reminds the Government of Sudan of its past commitment to grant Human Rights Officers from the United Nations Mission in Sudan access to places of detention and urges the Sudanese Government to immediately account for the whereabouts of all those in custody and to grant total access to Human Rights Officers, family, lawyers and doctors to places of detention.

May 19, 2008

As Memorial Day nears, James Winn lauds these works of war poetry

Five Best

As Memorial Day nears, James Winn lauds these works of war poetry
May 24, 2008; Page W8

1. The Iliad
Translated by Robert Fagles
Viking, 1990

For sheer, unblinking realism, no war poem can surpass Homer's "Iliad." When a man is "skewered . . . straight through the mouth," Homer unsparingly describes "teeth shattered out . . . both nostrils spurting, / mouth gaping, blowing convulsive sprays of blood." Homer's brutal honesty about warfare is apparent not only in these physical details but also in his treatment of the elaborate code of conduct that ancient Greek culture built upon the power of shame. "The Iliad" reveals the rules of that system and exposes its limitations. As Homer shows, the fear of being ridiculed or dishonored lurks beneath our clichés about glory and honor. Princeton classics professor Robert Fagles, who died on March 26, gave us an "Iliad" that comes close to capturing the speed, intensity and stark horror of the Greek original.

2. The Complete Barrack-Room Ballads
By Rudyard Kipling

Methuen, 1973

Rudyard Kipling's poems on warfare, once widely memorized, are easy to dismiss as imperialist but remain valuable for capturing the actual experience of the enlisted man. His soldier-narrators, despite their racist vocabulary, often express respect and affection for their foes. In "Fuzzy-Wuzzy," for example, the narrator calls his Sudanese opponent a "big black boundin' beggar" but salutes him as "a first-class fightin' man." In "Gunga Din," the similar narrator admits that a native water-carrier is "a better man than I am." The ballads, first published in 1892 and 1896, appear in this edition with a selection of Kipling's chastened, bitter "Epitaphs" on World War I, in which he lost his only son.

3. John Brown's Body
By Steven Vincent Benét
Doubleday, Doran, 1928

Although sprawling and uneven, this 15,000-line narrative poem on the Civil War has moments of lyric beauty and effective irony. In my favorite passage, a teenage sentry remembers ancient poems while guarding the tent of Robert E. Lee: "The aide-de-camp knew certain lines of Greek / And other such unnecessary things / As birds and music, that are good for peace / But are not deemed so serviceable for war." Through the ironic use of the word "deemed," the speaker labels the belief that poetry is unnecessary for war as received opinion, not his own. With his "inquisitive mind" and his "falling for romance," the sentry is a fantasy version of the short-sighted poet, who repeatedly tried to enlist during World War I and once almost succeeded by memorizing the eye chart. It took just three days for the Army to detect his handicap and send him home.

4. The Complete Poems and Fragments
By Wilfred Owen
Edited by Jon Stallworthy
Norton, 1984

As he captures the unprecedented scale of the slaughter during World War I, the loss of countless thousands "who die as cattle," Wilfred Owen never forgets that the dead are also individuals, with "bugles calling for them from sad shires." His poetry celebrates the intense feelings shared by soldiers drawn close by combat, who are "wound with war's hard wire whose stakes are strong; / Bound with the bandage of the arm that drips; / Knit in the webbing of the rifle-thong." Read chronologically as the war unfolds, Owen's poetry shows rapid development and gathering power. His pointless death -- he was killed in action just days before the armistice -- deprived the 20th century of a major poet.

5. The Columbia Book of Civil War Poetry
Edited by Richard Marius
Columbia, 1994

In addition to reprinting wartime poems by Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville and many others, "The Columbia Book of Civil War Poetry" includes later poems that allude to the conflict. William Vaughan Moody's "An Ode in Time of Hesitation" (1898) denounces the grasping American invasion of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War as an insult to the nobility of the Civil War dead: "Those baffled and dislaureled ghosts / Will curse us from the lamentable coasts." Robert Lowell, in "For the Union Dead" (1963), wryly notices how a "commercial photograph" of Hiroshima has replaced the statues that once commemorated heroes. Beautifully selected, printed and edited, this collection demonstrates the continuing presence, in the American imagination, of our bloodiest war.

Mr. Winn, an English professor at Boston University, is the author of "The Poetry of War" (Cambridge, 2008).

May 17, 2008

Comparing the Presidential Candidates

EDUCATORS WANT TO KNOW: Will our next president support teacher pay based on students’ performance on standardized tests?

We hope not, but Senator John McCain recently said of teachers: "We should reward the best of them with merit pay."

NEA knows that pay for student test scores (also known as "merit pay") is the wrong way to compensate educators because it does nothing to improve the practice of teaching in the classroom.

There is a better way.

NEA is advocating for a $40,000 starting salary for all pre-K-12 teachers and incentives for teachers who decide to learn new skills or take on additional duties like mentoring. NEA is committed to teacher quality, and we support alternative pay systems that are bargained and agreed to at the local level.

In the May issue of NEA Today, we have a comprehensive 2008 Presidential Candidate Comparison with a range of issues that affect you as an educator. We invite you to review the facts to see where the candidates really stand. NEA encourages all members to take part in helping to elect a pro-public education president. Visit to see how you can get involved.

Teachers and school employees work hard every day to help students learn and succeed. And teachers and support professionals deserve respect and the very best from our political leaders.

May 15, 2008

Uzbekistani Human Rights Defender in prison wins 2008 Martin Ennals Award

(Geneva) Today the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders announces as 2008 Laureate:

Mutabar Tadzhibaeva from Uzbekistan was arrested after having criticized the government’s handling of the mass killing in Andizhan, three years ago in May 2005. On 7 March 2006 she was sentenced to eight years imprisonment on 17 different charges, including “slander” and “membership of an illegal organization”. In 2006, she was transferred for a short period of time to a psychiatric detention centre and forced to undergo medical treatment. Her health condition is deteriorating due to detention conditions. She has frequently been placed in a punishment cell for protesting against prison conditions. She is only having limited access to her lawyer and relatives.

The tragedy of Andizhan, where hundreds of people were killed, should not be forgotten. The Government of Uzbekistan should release Mutabar Tadzhibaeva unconditionally.

The Chairman of the Jury of the MEA, Hans Thoolen, describes the laureate as “an exceptionally brave woman in a country where standing up for human rights is a dangerous activity which can lead to imprisonment and death; where human rights defenders often have to choose between prison or exile.” He draws attention to the laureate’s principled stand to monitor abuses committed by governmental authorities. The 10 organizations on the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award demand the immediate release of Mutabar Tadzhibaeva and the guarantee that she will be safe. The MEA calls on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to use its good offices for this purpose.

From letters written by Mrs Tadzhibaeva in prison between August and November 2007 one can see the anguish and suffering: “….I do not want to be forgotten.”; “… They are afraid of my truth, so they torture me this way.”; “… I am holding out as much as I can.”

The Ceremony of the Martin Ennals Award will take place in Geneva on 20 November 2008.

MEA: the main award of the human rights movement. The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among 10 of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide.

The Jury is composed of the following NGOs: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line, International Commission of Jurists, German Diakonie, International Service for Human Rights and HURIDOCS.

Previous laureates: Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, Burundi and Rajan Hoole-Kopalasingham Sritharan, Sri Lanka (2007); Akbar Ganji, Iran and Arnold Tsunga, Zimbabwe; Aktham Naisse, Syria; Lida Yusupova, Russia; Alirio Uribe Muñoz, Colombia; Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad; Peace Brigades International; Immaculée Birhaheka, DR Congo; Natasha Kandic, Yugoslavia; Eyad El Sarraj, Palestine; Samuel Ruiz, Mexico; Clement Nwankwo, Nigeria; Asma Jahangir, Pakistan; Harry Wu, China.

Patrons of the Martin Ennals Award: Asma Jahangir, Barbara Hendricks, Jose Ramos-Horta, Adama Dieng, Leandro Despouy, Robert Fulghum, Theo van Boven and Werner Lottje†.

May 14, 2008

Mr. President, the war isn’t about you — or golf

Olbermann: Bush's claim he gave up game to honor dead GIs is ludicrous

By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'
updated 9:00 p.m. CT, Wed., May. 14, 2008

President Bush has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration and public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations. And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and John McCain lurk.

Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could "eventually lead to another attack on the United States." This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came during a May 13 interview with and online users of Yahoo.

May 13, 2008

PDA - Healthcare Not Warfare

Thursday: Iraq Veterans Against the War Testify Before Congress

This Thursday, May 15th, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) will testify about the realities of the illegal occupation in Iraq in a hearing convened by the Congressional Progressive Caucus from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm EST.

Members of Congress will have the opportunity to hear the testimony first offered publicly this past March at Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan, when over 45 members of IVAW shared eyewitness accounts of the occupations before their peers, their families and the public.

Many UFPJ member groups across the country organized events to watch those hearings as a part of the activities to mark the 5th anniversary of the war. The Winter Solidier hearings are available in broadcast-quality video on the IVAW website.

By bringing Winter Soldier inside the Capitol, IVAW hopes to further encourage veterans to tell their stories to Congress and the public at l
arge. Our representatives have heard from their fellow politicians, from the pundits and the generals, but not until now have they heard from the average "boots-on-the-ground" soldier!

Click here for more information, including the biographies of the veterans testifying, press releases and other information.

The May 1
5th hearing highlighting the voices of the veterans of this immoral war is taking place while Congress is debating additional funding for the occupation of Iraq.

IVAW is asking that Progressive Caucus members be called and urged to listen carefully on Thursday and show their support for the troops by bringing them home now. Check to see if your representative is a member of the Progressive Caucus. If so, call yours today.

Please also take this opportunity while IVAW is on Capitol Hill to call your representative at 202-224-3121 and tell him or her to vote NO on the bill funding the war into 2009! And, urge that they too attend the IVAW hearing! (If you don't know who your representative is, click here.)

Congressional staff has told us that they are getting a lot of phone calls urging a NO vote on the funding. UFPJ, along with other antiwar coalitions such as Win Without War and the Iraq Campaign 2008, is organizing ongoing call-ins to Congress for a NO vote.

Remember, this will likely be the last binding vote on Iraq until after the January 2009 inauguration of the next president -- now is the time to pull out all the

If you've already made a call to your representative, please urge your friends and family to call!

If your representative signed the letter promising not to vote for more funds unless it is for the safe withdrawal of the troops, call and remind them of that pledge (find the letter and a list of signers here).

Attending the Hearing:
If you are in the Washington, DC, area, you may attend the hearing on Thursday, May 15, at 2261 Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Please arrive early, since seating is limited and a large crowd is expected.

Viewing the Hearing Live:
IVAW is still in negotiations with CSPAN to cover the hearing live. Check for the schedule. IVAW will also post the video of the hearing shortly after its conclusion.