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Illinois Grad Employees Strike for Education Security

While former Illinois Senator Barack Obama mulls flushing another $40 billion a year in our tax dollars down the toilet in Afghanistan - that's the estimated annual cost of sending 40,000 more troops for the next several years - graduate employees at the University of Illinois, a "land grant" public institution, are going on strike at 8 AM this morning Chicago time to protect their ability to complete their education, against threats from the University administration to withdraw tuition waivers from graduate employees.

For many teaching assistants and graduate assistants, the withdrawal of a tuition waiver would be an educational death sentence, a de facto financial expulsion from the University. But even though access to a tuition waiver is a basic condition of employment, since without also being students graduate employees would lose their jobs, the University of Illinois administration refuses to bargain the issue with the members of the Graduate Employees Organization, a local of the American Federation of Teachers, even though under Illinois labor law the GEO is the recognized bargaining agent for graduate employees.

The University administration claims that in a time of financial constraint, it needs "flexibility" to undermine a basic condition of graduate employment. It's true, of course, that the University is financially constrained, given the decline in government support for public higher education. But how the University responds to that environment is a choice. Trying to balance your budget by taking essentials away from the weakest people in the food chain is a choice - a choice often made, but still a choice.

JFP 11/13: Our Corrupt Occupation of Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
November 13, 2009


Our Corrupt Occupation of Afghanistan
There is something very Captain Renault in the complaints of Western leaders about corruption in Afghanistan. We're shocked, shocked that the Afghans have sullied our morally immaculate occupation of their country with their corruption. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that our occupation of the country is not so morally immaculate - indeed, that the most corrupt racket going in Afghanistan today is the American occupation.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/403

NoEscalation.org: Help Us Push and Track Congress on Afghanistan Escalation
No decision has been announced. Call Members of Congress, ask where they stand, and report the results.
http://NoEscalation.org

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Rep. Jan Schakowsky said during a visit to Honduras that "the (Honduran) congress needs to move forward quickly ... to reinstall Zelaya as president, and the democratic order needs to be restored," AP reports.

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Our Corrupt Occupation of Afghanistan

Is it just me, or is the pontification of Western leaders about corruption in Afghanistan growing rather tiresome?

There is something very Captain Renault about it. We're shocked, shocked that the Afghans have sullied our morally immaculate occupation of their country with their dirty corruption. How ungrateful can they be?

But perhaps we should consider the possibility that our occupation of the country is not so morally immaculate - indeed, that the most corrupt racket going in Afghanistan today is the American occupation.

US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon's logistics contracts in Afghanistan consists of protection payments to insurgents, Aram Roston reports in The Nation. In southern Afghanistan - where General McChrystal wants to send more troops - security firms can't physically protect convoys of American military supplies. There's no practical way to move the supplies without paying the Taliban. So, like Milo Minderbinder in Catch-22, we're supplying both sides of the war.

JFP 11/12: A Hundred Cities Against Escalation As the President Announces It

Just Foreign Policy News
November 12, 2009


A Hundred Cities Against Escalation As the President Announces It
Recent press speculation suggests at least even odds that sometime in November, President Obama will give a speech announcing that he intends to send tens of thousands of more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in 2010. If people in a hundred cities committed in advance to hold local demonstrations to get into the President's news cycle with the response that "escalation is not the answer" and publicized that commitment, would that affect the White House decision?
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/401

'Legitimacy' in Afghanistan?
For those who want to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, the question of legitimacy in Afghanistan that matters most is whether Afghans participating in and supporting insurgency can be persuaded that the Afghan government is legitimate. Political negotiations that result in an Afghan government more widely accepted by those now supporting insurgency is the development most likely to end the war and bring about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/6573

NoEscalation.org: Help Us Push and Track Congress on Afghanistan Escalation
No decision has been announced. Call Members of Congress, ask where they stand, and report the results.
http://NoEscalation.org

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A Hundred Cities Against Escalation As the President Announces It

Recent press speculation suggests at least even odds that sometime in November, President Obama will give a speech announcing that he intends to send tens of thousands of more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in 2010. Not a temporary "surge," but a permanent escalation. While certainly it's good news - at least temporarily - that AP is reporting that President Obama "won't accept any of the Afghanistan war options before him without changes," and that the Washington Post is reporting that U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry is lobbying strongly against sending more troops, note that AP goes on to say:

Obama is still expected to send in more troops to bolster a deteriorating war effort.

He remains close to announcing his revamped war strategy - troops are just one component - and probably will do so shortly after he returns from a trip to Asia that ends Nov. 19.

JFP 11/11: Omar's Taliban "Distanced" from Al Qaeda

Just Foreign Policy News
November 11, 2009


NoEscalation.org: Help Us Push and Track Congress on Afghanistan Escalation
No decision has been announced. Call Members of Congress, ask where they stand, and report the results.
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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Although Obama has said the US must remain in Afghanistan because a Taliban victory would mean a proliferation of al-Qaeda fighters, Mohammad Omar's Taliban faction seems to have distanced itself from al-Qaeda in recent months, the Washington Post reports. The shift appears to reflect Omar's growing confidence that his group can operate on its own, without al-Qaeda as its patron. The messages from the leadership of Omar's Taliban faction since the spring amount to something of a "revolution," said a political analyst who was a Foreign Ministry official under the Taliban government. "Al-Qaeda's path is now different from the Taliban's path, and they are growing more separated."

2) President Obama and his war council plan are reviewing four options for Afghanistan that could increase the number of U.S. troops there by as many as 40,000 or fewer than 10,000, the Los Angeles Times reports. The White House insisted Tuesday that Obama has not decided how many additional troops to send.

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JFP 11/10: Inouye Balks at Fast Track Escalation Funding

Just Foreign Policy News
November 10, 2009


NoEscalation.org: Help Us Push and Track Congress on Afghanistan Escalation
No decision has been announced. Call Members of Congress, ask where they stand, and report the results.
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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye spoke against speculation that new funding for additional troops in Afghanistan could be quickly inserted into year-end spending bills pending in Congress, the Politico reports. Such a strategy would avoid a divisive fight in the spring over supplemental war spending. "I would be against doing it right now," Inouye said. "If we're going to do something this important, then it should be done according to regular procedure - unless we're going be a rubber stamp."

2) President Obama is nearing a decision to add tens of thousands more forces to Afghanistan, AP reports. National Security Adviser James Jones denied the press reports that a decision had been made.

3) What we confront in Afghanistan is not an insurgency but a civil war - one whose resolution can only be found in a new decentralized Afghan politics based on the realities of power there, and not through another decade of Western military intervention, argues former UN official Nader Mousavizadeh in Foreign Policy.

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JFP 11/9: Mr. Netanyahu, Tear Down This Wall

Just Foreign Policy News
November 9, 2009


Mr. Netanyahu, Tear Down This Wall
On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Western leaders are full of self-congratulation. But their paeans to universal freedom ring hollow, when they bear large responsibility for another wall constricting human freedom: the apartheid wall dividing the Palestinian West Bank. Today, to mark the anniversary, Palestinians tore down a chunk of the wall near Ramallah.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/397

Video of the Palestinian action today:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaBpvauMFLU

NoEscalation.org: Help Us Push and Track Congress on Afghanistan Escalation
No decision has been announced. Call Members of Congress, ask where they stand, and report the results.
http://NoEscalation.org

Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Afghans are voicing serious doubts about an increase in U.S. troops, the New York Times reports. They are increasingly skeptical that the Taliban can be defeated; nearly everyone agrees that the Afghan government must negotiate with the insurgents.

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Mr. Netanyahu, Tear Down This Wall

On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Western leaders are full of self-congratulation. But their paeans to universal freedom ring hollow, when they bear large responsibility for another wall constricting human freedom: the apartheid wall dividing the Palestinian West Bank.

Israeli authorities refer to it as a "separation barrier," but that's misleading. The wall doesn't separate pre-1967 Israel from the West Bank. If that's all it did, it would be an entirely different political object. Instead, the wall cuts deep into the Palestinian West Bank, separating Palestinians from each other and from their land, and signaling to the Palestinians that Israel intends to annex territory that Palestinians want for an independent Palestinian state. The fact that Western countries that support the Israeli government - above all the United States - say nothing about the West Bank wall signals to Palestinians that Western support for Palestinian statehood is merely rhetorical.

Today, AFP reports, Palestinians tore down a chunk of the wall near Ramallah.

AFP notes that 85 percent of the planned wall is inside the West Bank, and it would leave 9.5 percent of the West Bank and 35,000 West Bank Palestinians between the barrier and the Green Line that marks the 1967 border with Israel.

The World Court issued a resolution in 2004 calling for those parts of the barrier that are inside the West Bank to be torn down and for further construction in the territory to cease. Israel and Western countries have ignored the World Court resolution.

Two years ago Israel's own High Court ruled against the route of the wall near the Palestinian village of Bilin, but the Israeli government ignored the ruling of its own highest court.

JFP News 11/6: Deal Collapses in Honduras

Just Foreign Policy News
November 6, 2009


Rep. Eric Massa calls for a conclusion to the war in Afghanistan
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJqnWIQ3o1c

NoEscalation.org: Help Us Push and Track Congress on Afghanistan Escalation

No decision has been announced. Call Members of Congress, ask where they stand, and report the results.
http://NoEscalation.org

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) An agreement to end a four-month political crisis in Honduras collapsed early on Friday, Reuters reports. President Zelaya declared the pact dead just a week after it was signed and called on Hondurans to boycott presidential elections this month because, in a surprise move, de facto leader Micheletti moved to form a new government without him.

2) Fort Hood, the base stricken in Thursday's shooting rampage, has a large share of the military's overall instances of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide, the Wall Street Journal reports. Since the start of the Afghan war in 2001, the base has lost hundreds of soldiers in combat. The base has also lost at least 75 of its soldiers to suicide, one of the heaviest such tolls in the U.S. military. Through October, 10 Fort Hood soldiers had taken their lives in 2009, the second-highest tally in the Army behind Kentucky's Fort Campbell, which had 16 suicides.

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