Monday, November 30, 2009

[SDCPJ] [PUSJ] FW: Rally in Support of UCSD Service Workers


Alicia Lepe

Alicia Lepe

California partnership/Center for Community Change

2533 W. 3rd Street, Suite 101

Los Angeles, CA 90057


(626) 224-8189 Cell

(866) 337-7909 Fax



Web page:

 "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."


Dear Alicia Lepe,

Stop UCSD Executive Greed
Yes to Student Services

Return All Laid Off Workers
Rescind 15 Percent Reduction in Time
Improve Student Services

Rally Outside the Chancellor's Office

Friday, December 4

3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

UCSD Campus - Administration and Chancellor's Complex
Parking available at Gilman Parking Structure
(Corner of Gilman Dr. and Villa La Jolla Dr.)

  • UCSD Executives prefer to keep giving themselves raises instead of providing students with essential services such as keeping students safe and healthy
  • UCSD has laid off 20 families on campus in a department that's been understaffed for more than three years
  • UCSD has implemented a 15 percent reduction in time for more than 200 workers. Making an already understaffed department worse off to provide quality services to students who the regents have recently voted to increase tuition by 32 percent
  • UCSD administrators claim the cuts were necessary, but have not provided the much needed proof or have sat down with the unions to discuss the reasons
  • The highest paid administrators in the whole UC have taken only a 10 percent furlough, while taxing the lowest paid workers 15 percent

Together We're Stronger!

For more information,
contact Matias Marin at:
(619) 296-0342

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[SDCPJ] An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Do you really want to be the new "war president"? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do -- destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they've always heard is true -- that all politicians are alike. I simply can't believe you're about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn't so.

It is not your job to do what the generals tell you to do. We are a civilian-run government. WE tell the Joint Chiefs what to do, not the other way around. That's the way General Washington insisted it must be. That's what President Truman told General MacArthur when MacArthur wanted to invade China. "You're fired!," said Truman, and that was that. And you should have fired Gen. McChrystal when he went to the press to preempt you, telling the press what YOU had to do. Let me be blunt: We love our kids in the armed services, but we f*#&in' hate these generals, from Westmoreland in Vietnam to, yes, even Colin Powell for lying to the UN with his made-up drawings of WMD (he has since sought redemption).

So now you feel backed into a corner. 30 years ago this past Thursday (Thanksgiving) the Soviet generals had a cool idea -- "Let's invade Afghanistan!" Well, that turned out to be the final nail in the USSR coffin.

There's a reason they don't call Afghanistan the "Garden State" (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan's nickname is the "Graveyard of Empires." If you don't believe it, give the British a call. I'd have you call Genghis Khan but I lost his number. I do have Gorbachev's number though. It's + 41 22 789 1662. I'm sure he could give you an earful about the historic blunder you're about to commit.

With our economic collapse still in full swing and our precious young men and women being sacrificed on the altar of arrogance and greed, the breakdown of this great civilization we call America will head, full throttle, into oblivion if you become the "war president." Empires never think the end is near, until the end is here. Empires think that more evil will force the heathens to toe the line -- and yet it never works. The heathens usually tear them to shreds.

Choose carefully, President Obama. You of all people know that it doesn't have to be this way. You still have a few hours to listen to your heart, and your own clear thinking. You know that nothing good can come from sending more troops halfway around the world to a place neither you nor they understand, to achieve an objective that neither you nor they understand, in a country that does not want us there. You can feel it in your bones.

I know you know that there are LESS than a hundred al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan! A hundred thousand troops trying to crush a hundred guys living in caves? Are you serious? Have you drunk Bush's Kool-Aid? I refuse to believe it.

Your potential decision to expand the war (while saying that you're doing it so you can "end the war") will do more to set your legacy in stone than any of the great things you've said and done in your first year. One more throwing a bone from you to the Republicans and the coalition of the hopeful and the hopeless may be gone -- and this nation will be back in the hands of the haters quicker than you can shout "tea bag!"

Choose carefully, Mr. President. Your corporate backers are going to abandon you as soon as it is clear you are a one-term president and that the nation will be safely back in the hands of the usual idiots who do their bidding. That could be Wednesday morning.

We the people still love you. We the people still have a sliver of hope. But we the people can't take it anymore. We can't take your caving in, over and over, when we elected you by a big, wide margin of millions to get in there and get the job done. What part of "landslide victory" don't you understand?

Don't be deceived into thinking that sending a few more troops into Afghanistan will make a difference, or earn you the respect of the haters. They will not stop until this country is torn asunder and every last dollar is extracted from the poor and soon-to-be poor. You could send a million troops over there and the crazy Right still wouldn't be happy. You would still be the victim of their incessant venom on hate radio and television because no matter what you do, you can't change the one thing about yourself that sends them over the edge.

The haters were not the ones who elected you, and they can't be won over by abandoning the rest of us.

President Obama, it's time to come home. Ask your neighbors in Chicago and the parents of the young men and women doing the fighting and dying if they want more billions and more troops sent to Afghanistan. Do you think they will say, "No, we don't need health care, we don't need jobs, we don't need homes. You go on ahead, Mr. President, and send our wealth and our sons and daughters overseas, 'cause we don't need them, either."

What would Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would your grandmother do? Not send more poor people to kill other poor people who pose no threat to them, that's what they'd do. Not spend billions and trillions to wage war while American children are sleeping on the streets and standing in bread lines.

All of us that voted and prayed for you and cried the night of your victory have endured an Orwellian hell of eight years of crimes committed in our name: torture, rendition, suspension of the bill of rights, invading nations who had not attacked us, blowing up neighborhoods that Saddam "might" be in (but never was), slaughtering wedding parties in Afghanistan. We watched as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were slaughtered and tens of thousands of our brave young men and women were killed, maimed, or endured mental anguish -- the full terror of which we scarcely know.

When we elected you we didn't expect miracles. We didn't even expect much change. But we expected some. We thought you would stop the madness. Stop the killing. Stop the insane idea that men with guns can reorganize a nation that doesn't even function as a nation and never, ever has.

Stop, stop, stop! For the sake of the lives of young Americans and Afghan civilians, stop. For the sake of your presidency, hope, and the future of our nation, stop. For God's sake, stop.

Tonight we still have hope.

Tomorrow, we shall see. The ball is in your court. You DON'T have to do this. You can be a profile in courage. You can be your mother's son.

We're counting on you.

Michael Moore

P.S. There's still time to have your voice heard. Call the White House at 202-456-1111 or email the President. 

Join Mike's Mailing List | Join Mike's Facebook Group | Follow Mike on Twitter | Become Mike's MySpace Friend

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

[SDCPJ] Demonstration Day After Obama's announcement on Afghanistan

Please forward widely.

President Obama is likely to announce on Tuesday, December 1 an escalation in Afghanistan 

SDCPJ calls for a Demonstration The Day After his announcement ( Wed., 12/2; we will send out a verification of this after Obama's announcement)

35,000 new US occupation troops next year

$35 billion more to pay for the war and occupation

We don't yet know the details of the Afghanistan escalation, but these headlines are the best guess we have now, based on White House leaks.
We are in the deepest economic crisis in over 70 years, with the highest unemployment rates in living memory, and deep cuts in education and social services. We should not be forced to tighten our belts to pay for their imperial adventures.
Do you think things are headed in the wrong direction? We in the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice think so, and we know that many of you agree with us.
Join us on the day after Obama announces his war escalation plan. We will gather in front of Congressional Representative Susan Davis' office to demand that she oppose any funding for the wars and occupations.

The Day After
(probably Wednesday, December 2)
5-6 pm

in front of Susan Davis' office
University Avenue and Fairmount Avenue
City Heights, San Diego

End the Occupation of Afghanistan Now!
Healthcare, Jobs and Education – No to War and Occupation!

Tell you friends, coworkers, neighbors and fellow students! Bring your signs and banners! Spread the word! Bring candles and flashlights! Be there!

San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice –






Monday, November 23, 2009

[SDCPJ] Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan

Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan

By Jeremy Scahill

November 23, 2009

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

Read full article here


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Dumbing Down of America

Left Hook
By Walter Davis

The Dumbing Down of America

Richard struggles with the large blue recycling receptical in his effort to find plastic bottles or treasured aluminum cans to fetch money to help put his child through college. Employed, he is an honorable man; he is honest, caring, devoted – determined to provide the best for his family. He never imagined he would be going through his neighbors’ trash to support his child in school.

James and Mark are clean cut, in their athletic clothing and seem out of place as they go through the trash of their neighbors. Their degrees mean little in terms of getting a job in these hard economic times.

Have you seen the members of America’s disappearing middle class as they descend further and further into poverty?

With American manufacturing shipped overseas to China and our homes filled with Communist Chinese products, amazingly hypocrits state that we cannot open normal trade relations with Cuba because they are communist. Communist China continues to destroy our economy and build a threatening military force with our consumer dollars.

314 American troops died in Iraq in 2008; 509 Americans were murdered in Chicago (1) compared to 368 in Detroit (2), 14,180 nation wide (3), and 155 killed in Afghanistan during the same period (4). Americans are being told that we are going to stay in Afghanistan and Iraq until the streets are safe. The streets are not safe in this country. Mothers in Chicago know this all too well with a record level of teenaged murders underway; their kids are safer fighting in Iraq than being at home.

After receiving billions of American tax payer dollars in the “Bail Out”, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein apologized for his company’s part in contributing to America’s financial meltdown. "We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret. We apologize”(5). While offering a meager $500 million dollars for small business stimulus, Goldman Sachs is reported to be preparing to release $17 billion dollars in bonuses to its executives (6).

Corrupt financial institutions, the oil industry, arms manufacturers and the military industrial complex, benefit from extended wars. The failed “war on drugs” and “war against terrorism” are more manipulations of nationalistic fervor for obsene profits than actual security threats. The greater threats to our nation are the failure to invest in education and infrastructure. Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of perpetuating irrational fear and senseless war. Those of us who want the best for this country need to focus on solutions that invest resources here at home effectively. What do you think Richard, James and Mark are saying?

(1)Bob Mc Carty Writes. 20 Nov 2009. 20 Nov 2009.

(2) Wikipedia Crime in Detroit Michigan. 20 Nov 2009. 20 Nov 2009.,_Michigan

(3) Vancouverite: 14,180 Americans Murdered, 89,000 Raped in 2008. 20 Nov 2009. 20 Nov 2009.

(4) The Washington Post: Faces of the Fallen. 20 Nov 2009. 20 Nov 2009.

(5) Cowley, Stacy. CNNMoney: Goldman, Buffet Launch $500 Million Small Biz Initiative. 17 Nov 2009. 20 Nov 2009.

(6) Rooney, Ben. Bankers Bonuses: 40% Bigger This Year. 9 Nov 2009. 20 Nov 2009.

Medical Marijuana: Does San Diego Have a Sheriff Arpaio?

Left Hook
By Walter Davis

Medical Marijuana: Does
San Diego Have a Sheriff Arpaio?

Eugene Davidovich is a Navy veteran. His service connected health issues resulted in his doctor authorizing medical marijuana. Now, he faces four felony charges and the possibility of a long jail sentence.

According to Americans for Safe Access San Diego, the local District Attorney is aggressively pursuing users of Medical Marijuana in San Diego. Aggressive arrest tactics are reportedly in place despite state laws that make medical marijuana use legal and the recent federal guidelines that indicate federal authorities will not be pursuing charges against medical marijuana users in states where such use is legal.

Marijuana is effective for conditions including glaucoma, cancer, aids, migraine headaches, and people suffering pain from extensive burns. Victims of the recent fires in the county have been authorized by doctors to use medical marijuana.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance and, every 17 seconds someone is arrested on a drug violation and every 38 seconds someone is arrested for a cannabis violation in this country. Felony charges result in a life time of punishment for previously convicted people. They have challenges getting employment even after they stop using and are frequently left with no choice but to return to crime. They are punished over and over again and often cannot qualify for public assistance.

Insurance companies often do not cover addiction treatment; prevention programs are scarce. American tax payers get an annual bill for more than 52 billion dollars, for the war against drugs. With schools closing, Americans lacking health care and San Diego needing fire protection equipment, is this a logical use of resources? Further, the flow of drugs is not being stemmed. 15,000 people lose their lives each year in the current drug war. The number of lives being claimed in Chicago and New Orleans alone exceeds the number of lives lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan annually.

President Nixon classified marijuana a schedule 1 drug in the 1970’s. In 1986, President Reagan set the minimum sentencing guidelines. This revoked discretion among local judges forcing them to hand down long prison sentences to drug offenders. Prisoners get drugs in prison easily and treatment is not a viable option; this appears to be a barbaric method of managing this problem with no sign of abatement.

There has been an 80% increase in the prison population since 1986. The average sentence in prison is 56.8 months. The average sentence for violent crimes is 63 months. The average sentence for drug offenses is 76 months.

In the 1960’s Bull Conner ignored federal authorities who ordered him to cease targeting African Americans. Sheriff Arpaio is targeting Latinos in Arizona despite federal guidelines opposed to his actions. Voter’s wishes, civil and human rights are being violated in 2009 in San Diego for political gain. Should valuable tax dollars and police services be expended to go after medical marijuana users consuming legally?

[SDCPJ] Meeting, Monday, November 23, 7 pm.

San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice will meet Monday, November 23,
7 p.m. at the First Church of the Brethren, 3850 Westgate Place, SD
92105; all are welcome;

Agenda includes upcoming events, Afghanistan, and more.
Sdcpj mailing list

[SDCPJ] World March for Peace and Nonviolence video/inspiring!

Inspiring Video:

The World March will arrive in San Diego, Thursday, December 3, 1-2:30
p.m., Cesar Chavez-Larsen Field (San Ysidro, 1/2 mile West of I-5 on
Camino de la Plaza/last exit before border).

Info in San Diego: or 760-208-2597

Sdcpj mailing list

[SDCPJ] World March for Peace and Nonviolence video

Inspiring Video:

The World March will arrive in San Diego, Thursday, December 3, 1-2:30
p.m., Cesar Chavez-Larsen Field (San Ysidro, 1/2 mile West of I-5 on
Camino de la Plaza/last exit before border).

Info in San Diego: or 760-208-2597
Sdcpj mailing list

Friday, November 20, 2009

[SDCPJ] [Fwd: pix of Human Peace Symbol at UCSD for World March for Peace & Nonviolence]

[SDCPJ] The 800 Mile Wall: Film Screening & Discussion | March Against 15 Year of Operation Gatekeeper

The AFSC San Diego Office Invites you to a free* screening of THE 800 MILE WALL

Thursday December 3rd, 2009


Joe & Vi Jacobs Center (Celebration Hall)

404 Euclid Ave. | San Diego, CA 92114


The 800 Mile Wall highlights the construction of the new border walls along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as the effect on migrants trying to cross into the U.S. This powerful 90-minute film is an unflinching look at a failed U.S. border strategy that many believe has caused the death of thousands of migrants and violates fundamental human rights.

Since border walls have been built, well over 5,000 migrant bodies have been recovered in U.S. deserts, mountains and canals. Some unofficial reports put the death toll as high as 10,000 men, women and children. As a direct result of U.S. border policy, migrants are forced to cross treacherous deserts and mountains in search of low skill and low paying jobs in the United States. The New York Times writes, "Current border strategy is serving as a funnel through deadly terrain." The 800 Mile Wall documents, in great detail, the ineffective and deadly results of a failed border policy and offers some thoughts and on how the current human rights crisis may be resolved. Directed by John Carlos Frey and Produced by Jack Lorenz. Running Time: 90 min.

*A SUGGESTED DONATION OF A GALLON OF WATER IS WELCOMED FOR: Angeles del Desierto (Search and Rescue organization) & Water Station (Humanitarian Organization that places water in the Imperial Valley).



Sponsored by: Angeles del Desierto, American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego, American Friends Service Committee (US-Mexico Border Program), Water Stations, Raza Rights Coalition, and the Center for Social Advocacy


For more information please contact:



American Friends Service Committee

San Diego Area Office

P.O. Box 126147

San Diego, CA 92112

(619) 233-4114

fax (619) 233-6247



We also invite you to join Unión del Barrio to March Against the Border (Wall of Death) Policy of Operation Gatekeeper in its 15th year of implementation.


---------------------------From Unión del Barrio---------------------

With repression and attacks against our community reaching astounding new heights, now more than ever students, teachers, workers, housewives, and all freedom-loving people continue to organize themselves against those who stand in the way of the self-determination of our pueblos.


Unión del Barrio makes the call to those who continue to organize, and those who have now realized that we will only achieve true change and true democracy through organized collective processes, to come out and MARCH on Sat. Dec. 05.


With more than 5,000 deaths at the border, we will be wearing black, not to mourn, but to represent and resist for all of those who have lost their lives as a result of the vicious system that continues to divide a people.




If your organization would like to endorse this effort, or would like more information, please e-mail




Con represión y ataques en contra de nuestra comunidad llegando a nuevas alturas, ahora mas que nunca estudiantes, maestros, trabajadores, padres de familia, y todos los que buscan la libertad continúan a organizarse contra esas fuerzas que impiden la auto-determinación de nuestros pueblos.


Unión del Barrio hace el llamado a toda persona que continua a organizarse, y a esas personas que ahora reconocen que solamente podemos lograr cambios y la democracia verdadera tras procesos colectivos organizados, a MARCHAR el Sab. 05 dic.


Con mas de 5,000 muertes en la frontera, nos vestiremos de negro, no de luto, pero para representar y resistir para todos los que han perdido sus vidas como resultado del sistema horrendo que continua dividiendo a un pueblo.




Si su organización quiere apoyar este esfuerzo, o gusta mas información, favor de comunicarse a


MARCH - Against 15 Years of Operation Gatekeeper:

¡Our Struggle in Defense of our People Continues!

December 5, 2009 | 11am

San Ysidro Park (52 E. Hall Ave. San Diego, CA 92173)

For more information please contact: 619-398-6648 or e-mail:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

[SDCPJ] Using award ceremonies to recruit for the military

Earlier this school year, Mission Bay High School students reported that they were required to attend an assembly sponsored by the Army. It was part of the Army's "All-American Bowl" program that uses an outstanding football player award ceremony as a recruiting pretext. Read this Army Web site description:
The Selection Tour for the tenth anniversary of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl kicks off on September 29. This year's Selection Tour will recognize 187 high school football and marching band All-Americans from across the United States. The All-Americans will be honored by a local Army representative at a special ceremony in front of classmates, family, and media. The Selection Tour annually reaches over one million people, and has grown every year since its inception. For more information regarding locations and dates please contact Liz Meltzer at ...
Before the assembly at MBHS, the principal told one teacher that it would not be a recruiting event, but other than spending a short five minutes honoring one of the school's star football players (the stated reason for the assembly), the overall event was an Army promotion.
While at the assembly, students encountered Army representatives asking them to fill out the form embedded below (or attached to this), allegedly to enter a drawing for an i-pod. Notice that the form requests all sorts of confidential, profiling information, including the student's citizenship status. In a footnote, the form says it's optional to provide some pieces of  information which will be used for recruiting purposes, but the form does not promise that the rest of the info will not be used for recruiting. One student reported that she told the Army representative she didn't need the i-pod, but the soldier kept aggressively arguing that she should fill it out anyway.
A video clip of the assembly can be seen here:
The sound doesn't seem to work (so much for Army technical skills), but you can see how the assembly was staged to promote Army enlistment (e.g., is plastered everywhere).
If anyone is aware of similar military events held at other schools, including elementary and middle, please let us know. Documentation of these will help the Education Not Arms Coalition pursue a policy requiring balanced military, college and employment recruiting.
Rick Jahnkow
Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

[SDCPJ] Join the Human Peace Sign at UCSD November 19

Join the Human Peace Sign @ UCSD! And make UCSD the biggest UC peace sign!

Sun God Lawn, Thursday, November 19, 12-1 p.m.

Be part of the historic, first-ever World March for Peace & Nonviolence
going through 90+ countries in 90 days and coming through San Diego on
Dec. 3. Endorsed by Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai
lama, Maxine Waters, Martin Sheen, Jane Fonda, thousands more!

Facebook: UC for Peace and Nonviolence
Web: www.the
San Diego:

Sdcpj mailing list

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

[SDCPJ] The military is in our elementary schools

Lowering the Bar: Kindergarten Recruitment

by: Jon Letman, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

(Image: Jon Letman)

How old is old enough for students to be approached by military recruiters?

High school? Junior high? Fourth grade? How about ten weeks into kindergarten?

Read full article here

Monday, November 16, 2009

[SDCPJ] Anti-militarist Web site recently updated

  This is to let you know that NEW articles and updated content have recently been posted at, the Web site of the San Diego-based Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD).
Included in the current update are three articles from the latest issue of COMD's printed newsletter, Draft NOtices:

- "Keeping the Peace: Resistance and Teachers in Japan," by Arlene Inouye, describes the struggle being waged by teachers who are refusing to cooperate with the reimposition of militaristic patriotic ceremony in Japanese schools.

- "San Diego Schools Temporarily Suspend Military Access to Student Lists," is a brief report by Rick Jahnkow on action taken in response to protests by parents and students over the way San Diego schools are handling releases of student information to the military.
- "Involving Military Veterans in Counter-Recruitment Efforts at Schools," a commentary by the past-president of Veterans for Peace San Diego.
To order the complete printed version of Draft NOtices, visit the Web site's Draft NOtices page. In addition to the above three articles, the current printed version includes:
- more archival photos and article excerpts commemorating the 30th year of Draft NOtices' publication; and
- a commentary by Ernie McCray on the hypocrisy and twisted priorities of those who protest against health care reform while children are at risk of becoming canon fodder.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

[SDCPJ] CELEBRATE Susan West Friedman: A Life of Love, Passion & Activism, Sat, Nov 21st, 3 -5pm

Friends and associates,  We'd be honored by your participation to

Susan West Friedman
A Life of Love, Passion & Activism

Saturday, November 21st

3:00 pm -5:00 pm Outdoor Tribute

5:00 pm - Midnight 
(or when the Revolution comes, whichever comes first) 

Potluck and Socializing

3442 47th Street (Martin & Susan's home
1 blk west of Euclid & Myrtle)  619-871-9354

    "I was born into the universe, not just one country… So much to explore, experience, touching, feeling life.  Life does not only belong to me. We all belong to each other.  Just that one thought could take a lifetime to practice."  Susan West ~ January 20th, 1972

Susan's Photo Album

Susan was relatively new to San Diego.  She made an indelible mark in just 4 years and developed a multitude of friends in short order. She joined the Board of Directors of Activist San Diego and served as one of its officers. Susan reveled in the idea of building a network for social justice, that would engage new people and anticipated the pending launch of ASD's  FM Community Radio Project.  Susan was an enthusiastic member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, believing that it was essential to have an internationalist, long-term, post-capitalist, vision to complement grassroots activism. The Iraq/Afghan wars were so abhorrent to her that she seldom missed a SD Coalition for Peace and Justice meeting, worked with Code Pink and was passionate about the Stop Blackwater campaign. After attending the US Social Forum in Atlanta she contributed her organizing skills to create a similar project locally.  We could go on…

Susan thrived in the wonders of the nature.  Love and respect for the environment ran through her blood. 

Susan was a wonderful mother and incomprable partner.  She was fabulous cook, loved good wine and feeding thoughtful company.  She gravitated to those who sought deeper human bonds. From her teenage participation in the African-American Civil Rights movement to her recent defense of marriage equality, she always cherished the quest for fuller equality. Martin and Susan met 37 years ago, lived intensely and traveled for 6 months in the back roads of South America at a time, not unlike today, when the continent is alive with social change and the people were yearning and organizing for freedom.  The experience transformed both of us at our core and led us on a life-long quest the cause of justice
For this reason Susan and others helped initiate the:

Susan West Friedman Fund for Civil and Human Rights

She wanted this to be part of her legacy.  We welcome your participation and will cherish your donations. See

When Susan got diagnosed, she was the recipient of all the good karma that she had spread over the years.  A  community of friends she'd recently made in San Diego, enveloped us with love and met our every need.  But in a matter of just 12 weeks Susan succumbed to the invading brain tumors, that stole her vital functions.   Like a good freedom fighter, her spirit relinquished the territory of a dying body and now travels freely among the people.  Her loving, fighting spirit lives on with us wherever the cause of justice is at play.

We miss her deeply, but she'd want us to renew our commitment to each other and all that will sustain our natural and human environments.  In loving humanity and one another we show our lasting love for Susan and all she lived for

Don't Mourn, Organize... and party! 

Susan West Friedman Presente!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  Susan's Last Letter ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hello dearest friends and family;

I want to thank you all
for being such great pillars of support
for me over these past few days.
It has been crazy to go through this and
knowing how much
you all care
has meant so much to me.

I am beyond lucky to have Martin here with me,
as a great source of
inspiration and love,
it is simply impossible to describe.

Your offers of flowers,
kind wishes,
or just being around
for me is
such a great motivation
and keep those positive thoughts coming!!

with Love,
Fri, 21 Aug 2009

(By the way - if you think I've missed anyone, please forward to
someone you think I may have forgotten.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Left Hook is Now in East County Magazine

My syndicated column Left Hook is now in East County Magazine.

Community Issues: A Tapestry of Concerns - Featuring Black Storytellers of San Diego

[Blackwater] Blackwater Said to Pursue Bribes to Iraq After 17 Died

You know you're in serious trouble when the likes of (CIA) Cofer Black is jumping ship.  The spectacle of this many top echelon Blackwater agents willing to reveal the underbelly of this disreputable company signals the demise  of this group of overzealous wackos .  Let's hope!  Tom C.  

On Nov 10, 2009, at 11:08 PM, Karen Pomer wrote:

Middle East

Blackwater Said to Pursue Bribes to Iraq After 17 Died

From left, Gerry Broome/AP; Mark Wilson/Getty; Brendan Smialowski for NYT

Gary Jackson, left, then the company president, approved bribes for Iraqi officials, former executives say. When Cofer Black, then the vice chairman, center, learned of the scheme, he reportedly confronted the chairman, Erik Prince, right.

Published: November 10, 2009

WASHINGTON — Top executives at Blackwater Worldwide authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support after a September 2007 episode in which Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to former company officials.

Times Topics: Blackwater Worldwide | Iraq

Khalid Mohammed/Associated Press

An Iraqi police officer inspected a car destroyed in Baghdad's Nisour Square in 2007 in a shooting involving Blackwater security guards.

Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company's employees. American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater's ouster from the country, and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Four former executives said in interviews that Gary Jackson, who was then Blackwater's president, had approved the bribes and that the money was sent from Amman, Jordan, where the company maintains an operations hub, to a top manager in Iraq. The executives, though, said they did not know whether the cash was delivered to Iraqi officials or the identities of the potential recipients.

Blackwater's strategy of buying off the government officials, which would have been illegal under American law, created a deep rift inside the company, according to the former executives. They said that Cofer Black, who was then the company's vice chairman and a former top C.I.A. and State Department official, learned of the plan from another Blackwater manager while he was in Baghdad discussing compensation for families of the shooting victims with United States Embassy officials.

Alarmed about the secret payments, Mr. Black cut short his talks and left Iraq. Soon after returning to the United States, he confronted Erik Prince, the company's chairman and founder, who did not dispute that there was a bribery plan, according to a former Blackwater executive familiar with the meeting. Mr. Black resigned the following year.

Stacy DeLuke, a spokeswoman for the company, now called Xe Services, dismissed the allegations as "baseless" and said the company would not comment about former employees. Mr. Black did not respond to telephone calls and e-mail messages seeking comment.

Reached by phone, Mr. Jackson, who resigned as president early this year, criticized The New York Times and said, "I don't care what you write."

The four former Blackwater executives, who had held high-ranking posts at the company, would speak only on condition of anonymity. Two of them said they took part in talks about the payments; the two others said they had been told by several Blackwater officials about the discussions. In agreeing to describe those conversations, the four officials said that they were troubled by a pattern of questionable conduct by Blackwater, which had led them to leave the company.

A senior State Department official said that American diplomats were not aware of any payoffs to Iraqi officials.

Blackwater continued operating as the prime contractor providing security for the United States Embassy in Baghdad until spring, when the Iraqi government said it would deny the company an operating license. The State Department replaced Blackwater with a rival in May, but the company still does some work for the department in Iraq on a temporary basis.

Five Blackwater guards involved in the shooting are facing federal manslaughter charges, and their trial is scheduled to start in February in Washington. A sixth guard pleaded guilty in December. The company has never faced criminal charges in the case, although the Iraqi victims brought a civil lawsuit in federal court against Blackwater and Mr. Prince.

Separately, a federal grand jury in North Carolina, where the company has its headquarters, has been conducting a lengthy investigation into it. One of the former executives said that he had told federal prosecutors there about the plan to pay Iraqi officials to drop their inquiries into the Nisour Square case. If Blackwater followed through, the company or its officials could face charges of obstruction of justice and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bans bribes to foreign officials.

Officials at the United States Attorney's Office in Raleigh declined to comment on their investigation, and it is not clear whether the payment scheme is a focus of the grand jury.

Federal prosecutors in North Carolina have interviewed a number of former Blackwater employees about a variety of issues, including allegations of weapons smuggling, according to several former employees who say they have testified before the grand jury or been interviewed by prosecutors, as well as lawyers familiar with the matter. Two former employees have pleaded guilty to weapons charges and are believed to be cooperating with prosecutors.

Since 2001, Blackwater has undergone explosive growth, not only from security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also from classified work for the Central Intelligence Agency that included taking part in a now defunct program to assassinate leaders of Al Qaeda and to load missiles on Predator drones.

The Nisour Square shooting was the bloodiest and most controversial episode involving Blackwater in the Iraq war. At midday on Sept. 16, 2007, a Blackwater convoy opened fire on Iraqi civilians in the crowded intersection, spraying automatic weapons fire in ways that investigators later claimed was indiscriminate, and even launching grenades into a nearby school. Seventeen Iraqis were killed and dozens more were wounded.

The matter set off an international outcry and intense debates in Iraq and the United States over the role of private contractors in war zones. Many Iraqis condemned Blackwater, which they had long seen as an arrogant rogue operation, and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki declared that the Blackwater shooting was a challenge to his nation's sovereignty. His government opened investigations into the episode and previous fatal shootings by Blackwater guards, and threatened to bar the company from operating in the country.

Those responses deeply worried Blackwater officials. Before the Nisour Square shootings, the company had operated in Iraq without a license largely because the Iraqi government had never enforced the rules. Being blocked from the country would have been costly — the State Department deal was Blackwater's single biggest contract. From 2004 through today, the company has collected more than $1.5 billion for its work protecting American diplomats and providing air transportation for them inside Iraq.

"It would hurt us," Mr. Prince, the chairman, said in an interview in January about losing the diplomatic security contract. "It would not be a mortal blow, but it would hurt us."

The former Blackwater executives said it was not clear who proposed paying off Iraqi officials. But after Mr. Jackson, the former company president, approved the plan, the cash for the payoffs was taken from Amman and given to Rich Garner, then a top manager in Iraq, the former executives said. One of those executives said that officials in Iraq's Interior Ministry, which is responsible for operating licenses, were the intended recipients.

Mr. Garner, who still works for the company, could not be reached for comment. The former executives said they did not know whether Mr. Garner was involved in decisions about the bribery scheme.

At that time, Mr. Black was in a series of discussions with Patricia A. Butenis, the deputy chief of mission at the American Embassy in Baghdad, about compensation payments to the Nisour Square victims. According to former Blackwater officials, Mr. Black was furious when he learned that the payoff money was being funneled into Iraq, and he swiftly broke off the talks with Ms. Butenis.

"We are out of here," Mr. Black told a colleague, one former executive said. After returning to the United States, Mr. Black and Robert Richer, who had also joined Blackwater after a C.I.A. career, separately confronted Mr. Prince with their concerns about the plan, one former Blackwater executive said.

Mr. Richer left Blackwater in February 2008, followed by Mr. Black several months later, amid a battle inside Blackwater between former C.I.A. officers working at the company's office outside Washington and executives at Blackwater's headquarters in North Carolina.

The former officials said that Mr. Black, Mr. Richer and others believed that Blackwater had cultivated a cowboy culture that was contemptuous of government rules and regulations, and that some of the company's leaders — former members of the Navy Seals including Mr. Prince and Mr. Jackson — had pushed the boundaries of legality. Contacted by telephone, Mr. Richer would not discuss specifics of why he left the company.

Ms. Butenis, now the United States ambassador to Sri Lanka, declined to comment for this article. But other State Department officials confirmed that embassy officials had met with Blackwater executives to encourage them to compensate the victims of Nisour Square.

The United States military had a well-established program for paying families of civilian victims of American military operations, but at the time of the Nisour Square shooting, the State Department did not have a similar program, officials said.

In interviews, three Iraqis wounded in Nisour Square said that Blackwater had made payments of several thousand dollars to them and other victims. Still, some of them joined the civil lawsuit against Blackwater. Settlement talks collapsed Tuesday, according to Susan Burke, a lawyer for the victims.

Even after the furor that was set off by the shootings, State Department officials made it clear that they did not believe they could operate in Baghdad without Blackwater, and Iraqi officials eventually dropped their public demands for the company's immediate ouster.

Raed Jarrar, the Iraq consultant to the American Friends Service Committee, said in a recent interview that the Maliki government had gone too easy on Blackwater. "They had two different messages," he said. "The Iraqi public, and even the Iraqi Parliament, was told that all private contractors would be pulled out of the country, while the contractors and the State Department were told the opposite."

In late 2008, the Bush administration and the Iraqi government hammered out an agreement governing the role of security contractors in Iraq. Under the new rules, security contractors lost their immunity from Iraqi laws, which had been granted in 2004 by L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran the country after the start of the American-led war. The Iraqi government also made it mandatory for security contractors to obtain licenses to operate in the country.

In March 2009, the Iraqis said that the company would not be awarded a license. Two months later, the State Department replaced it with a competing security contractor, Triple Canopy.

Barclay Walsh contributed research from Washington, and Mohammed Hussein from Baghdad.


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