Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Orange County update: Béa Tiritilli for Congress

As announced below, Green Party member Béa Tiritilli has announced plans to run for the 48th Congressional District seat when the election is set (once current Rep. Christopher Cox is confirmed as head of the SEC). Her website, still under construction, is here.

Other candidates include conservative state Sen. John Campbell (R), former Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer (R), John Graham (D)*. Brewer says she will run as a moderate and reach out to Democrats. But anything can happen in a special election. A poll is already being reported here.

*Cropped 7/11/05

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Special election blues

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, like the President, was elected on campaign promises of changing the tone of government by ending partisanship, reaching across the aisle, etc. Unfortunately, this is something at which both men turned out to be especially bad. Now, as the President promises to continue borrowing from unborn tax-payers to pay for a traveling road show of social-security-privatization propaganda until the end of his lame duck term, Schwarzenegger is spending 55 million of his constituents' dollars to continue his policy of non-stop campaigning. The governor, who was elected in a special recall election, has done almost no governing since taking office, instead preferring to star in cheap made-for-tv fare, such as filling in fake potholes--special effects paid for alternatively by John Q. Taxpayer and Corporate H. Lobbyist.

On Monday the Specialelectionator took the next step by officially calling a special election for Nov. 8. Here are the highlights of the LA Times coverage:
Likely initiatives on the ballot

Spending cap
Would limit amount that government spending could increase each year. Would force automatic cuts if the state budget was not in place by the July 1 deadline. Would give the governor the power to cut programs midyear if the budget fell out of balance. Would remove some school spending obligations from state law. Supported by Schwarzenegger, California Chamber of Commerce, California Business Roundtable. Opposed by California Teachers Assn., California Labor Federation, California Nurses Assn.

Teacher tenure

Would increase to five years from the current two the period of service required before public school teachers could receive tenure. Would allow teachers to be fired after two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations. Supported by Schwarzenegger. Opposed by California Teachers Assn., other unions.

Would require a panel of retired judges to draw election districts for state legislative, Board of Equalization and congressional offices. Takes away power of state legislators to draw their own districts. Voters would approve or disapprove the judges' redistricting plan. Supported by Schwarzenegger. Opposed by various GOP and Democratic lawmakers.

Union dues

Each member of a California public employee union would have to consent every year for any portion of his or her dues to be used for political campaigns. Supported by anti-tax advocate Lewis Uhler. Opposed by numerous public employee unions.


Would ban abortions for minors (younger than 18) until 48 hours after a parent or guardian was informed that the abortion was going to be performed, except in a medical emergency or with a waiver from the parent or guardian. Would require doctors to keep statistics on abortions provided to minors. Supported by James Holman, publisher of the San Diego Reader. Opposed by Planned Parenthood of California, Feminist Majority Foundation.

Three more initiatives are expected to qualify for the ballot by the June 30 deadline:

Prescription drugs 1

Would allow Californians with low and medium-level incomes (up to $38,280 for individuals) to receive discounted drug prices negotiated with pharmaceutical companies by the state Department of Health Services. Prescriptions for drugs made by companies that declined to negotiate discounts would be discouraged in the state's Medi-Cal program. Supported by Health Access California. Opposed by drug companies.

Prescription drugs 2
Would allow Californians with low and medium-level incomes (up to $28,710 for individuals) to receive voluntary discounts negotiated with pharmacies and drug companies by the Department of Health Services. No penalties for companies that did not reduce prices. Supported by pharmaceutical industry. Opposed by Health Access California.

Electricity service regulation
Would partly move away from deregulation by restricting electricity customers' ability to switch from private utilities to other providers. Would also require all electricity sellers, not just private utilities, to purchase 20% of their energy from renewable sources by 2010. Would raise fees to expand regulatory oversight by the Public Utilities Commission. Proponents are Robert Finkelstein and Michael Peter Florio.


Governor Puts Agenda on the Ballot
By Jordan Rau, Times Staff Writer

...The election promises to be an expensive bare-knuckles fight between the two most powerful lobbies in Sacramento: the business interests and Republican activists that have been filling Schwarzenegger's campaign coffers all year, and the unions that are at risk of losing much of their political clout if the governor succeeds.

In anticipation, the California Teachers Assn. raised dues over the weekend to collect $50 million more from members. The state prison guards union has moved to raise its dues as well, hoping to gather $18 million extra. Schwarzenegger and his allies are preparing to spend more than $40 million.

The unions' opposition has been multiplied by an initiative that could crimp their ability to use members' dues for political purposes. The effort to defeat it is expected to draw union support from across the country.

...The California secretary of state's office projects that the election will cost taxpayers $45 million, plus $7 million to $10 million for voter pamphlets.

Democrats and others called the election needlessly costly and said Schwarzenegger could easily have waited until the next scheduled election, the June 2006 primary, to put his ideas on the ballot.

Though the governor cannot call off the special election, he and lawmakers have until the end of August to place any compromises they negotiate on the November ballot and urge voters to choose them over the initiatives. That is what they did last year when they hammered out a deal on aid to local government.

But Schwarzenegger's proposals this year ask far more of Democratic legislators and their allies. His proposed budget overhaul — which Schwarzenegger made clear was his top priority — would limit the amount by which lawmakers could increase state spending each year and give the governor new authority to slash outlays during the fiscal year if expected revenues didn't materialize.

"It would be a dramatic shift of power from the legislative branch to the governor," said Jean Ross, director of the California Budget Project, a Sacramento nonprofit organization...

It would be great to get a redistricting out of the hands of politicians, but the Schwarzenegger proposition is needlessly rushed and antagonistic. We could vote next June to have judges do the redistricting after the next census. I'm not sure how I'll vote on this.

Similarly, changing the rule for tenure for teachers doesn't seem like a bad idea to me. There are bad teachers, and if they can be weeded out before given tenure, that would be a relief to a lot of kids. But is this going to make a big difference? No. Is this worth having a special election for? No. As discussed below, Schwarzenegger's strategy, as described by his "media expert," is to demonize middle-class unionized professionals. I don't think it will work.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Green to run in Orange County special election

The word on the street (or GP email lists) is that Orange County Green Party member Bea Tiritilli is planning to run in the special election to replace Republican Congressman Christopher Cox whenever he is confirmed as the next SEC chair and a special election is called.*

*Post cropped 7/11/05.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The strike is over and other clippings from the LA Times

Union, Hotels Avert Strike, Lockout
In two late City Hall sessions, Villaraigosa acts as go-between to achieve a tentative pact. Both sides anticipate ratification this week.
By John O'Dell, Times Staff Writer

In a deal brokered by Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, hotel operators and union leaders tentatively agreed on a new contract Saturday, narrowly averting a lockout of union workers at seven major Los Angeles hotels.

The agreement to end a 14-month dispute between Unite Here Local 11 and the Los Angeles Hotel Employer's Council was signed at 4:55 a.m., five minutes before 2,500 union workers were to be locked out of their jobs in retaliation for a strike called Thursday against one of the council's hotels.

This is a victory for the hotel employees and their union and good for the hotels too, since they were facing a lot of lost business if the strike continued. It is also a big victory for Mayor-elect Villaraigosa, who gets credit for bringing the two sides together.

Debtor Nations Freed of Burdens

The G-8 agreement wipes out $40 billion owed by 18 African and Latin countries. It is a victory for Britain, which led the effort.
By John Daniszewski, Times Staff Writer

LONDON — Building on an accord between Britain and the United States, finance ministers of the world's wealthiest nations agreed Saturday to wipe out $40 billion in debt owed by 18 of the world's poorest countries as part of a major assault on global poverty.

The decision by the Group of 8, the world's leading industrial nations and Russia, fulfilled a decades-old dream of anti-poverty activists, who have argued that payments on old loans drain the limited resources of the world's poorest nations, most of which are in Africa, keeping millions of people mired in poverty.


The 18 countries deemed to have qualified for the debt forgiveness are: Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Nine other countries are expected to qualify within the next 18 months: Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe, and Sierra Leone.

Worst mother ever?
Mother Says She Put Son in Basement Before Mauling
From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — The mother of the boy fatally mauled in his Sunset District home said Saturday that she shut her son in the basement to protect him from the family's pit bulls before the attack.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Maureen Faibish said she ordered her 12-year-old son, Nicholas, to stay in the basement while she did errands June 3, the day he was attacked by one or both of the dogs.

"I put him down there, with a shovel on the door," said Faibish, according to the newspaper. "He had a bunch of food. And I told him, 'Stay down there until I come back.' Typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me."

Faibish said she was concerned that the male dog, Rex, was acting possessive because the female, Ella, was in heat.

Home alone, Nicholas Faibish apparently found a way to open the basement door. That's when his mom believes that he walked in on the dogs while they were mating and was attacked by Rex.

"It was Rex. I know it in my heart," Faibish said. "My younger dog [Ella] was in heat and anyone who came near her, Rex saw as a threat. He may have been trying to mate. It was a freak accident. It was just the heat of the moment."

Despite her concerns about Rex that day, Faibish told the newspaper: "My kids got along great with" the dogs. "We were never seeing any kind of violent tendencies."

Faibish returned midafternoon to discover her son's body.

She said she still loved Rex but said she would never want him back in her house.

"I told them I wanted him put down," she said. "I think of Rex as someone who molested my child, murdered my child."

So locking her kid in the basement is her defense? You shouldn't own killer dogs in the first place, but if you do, shouldn't you be locking the dogs--not your kids--in the basement? "Typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me." How often was she locking this kid up? Now she doesn't want the dog back in her house? She shouldn't be allowed back in her house until she spends some time in prison thinking about her screwed up priorities.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Workers go on strike at Hyatt West Hollywood

Hyatt Workers Go on Strike
Union members picket the West Hollywood hotel after contract talks end in a standoff.
Union employees at the Hyatt West Hollywood, a legendary rock 'n' roll hotel on the Sunset Strip, went on strike Thursday as contract negotiations between workers and owners at seven prominent Los Angeles County hotels faltered.

Most of the 120 union members at the Hyatt hotel and restaurant, including bellhops, front desk clerks, housekeepers and telephone operators, are honoring the picket line, said Tom Walsh, secretary-treasurer of Unite Here Local 11. He expects the strike to last two weeks.

"The hotel is open and operating normally," said Fred Muir, spokesman for the Los Angeles Hotel Employer's Council, which represents the owners of the large hotels in union contract negotiations. The Hyatt will be fully staffed by Saturday, using nonunion replacement workers if necessary, he said.

Hotel owners voted Thursday to lock out union employees at the six other hotels at an unspecified date in response to the strike.

Those hotels may also be subject to strikes, Walsh said.

The hotels involved in the contract talks are Hyatt West Hollywood, Westin Century Plaza, Sheraton Universal, Wilshire Grand, Millennium Biltmore, Regent Beverly Wilshire and Westin Bonaventure.

"The two chains controlling these negotiations are Starwood and Hyatt, so we decided to choose Hyatt first," he said. Starwood owns Westin and Sheraton, among others.

The two sides have been negotiating since April 2004 but have not agreed on several points, including some funds that were deducted from workers' paychecks from July to February to help pay for health insurance. The union also wants the new contract to expire in 2006.

Muir said the hotel owners would return the money deducted for health insurance — about $300 per employee — if the union accepted their offer, which is on the table until Saturday. The hotels offered workers a $2.50 hourly raise, about 22%, over four years and a $1,000 signing bonus to full-time workers who don't collect tips, he said.

Walsh said the insurance deductions were improper. "It was another way of trying to force us to accept their contract," he said.

The union wants contracts in major cities across the country to expire at the same time to gain bargaining clout with national hotel chains. Contracts in New York, Boston and Chicago are set to expire next year, and San Francisco hotels are in a standoff similar to the one in Los Angeles.
I came by with a few other Greens to walk the picket line for a while between 5 and 6. There were enough people there that they had two lines going at once, and sherriffs had closed one lane of traffic in front of the hotel. Maria Elena Durazo, the head of HERE Local 11, and State Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez spoke briefly to the crowd. Núñez is so charismatic that when he switched to Spanish I could still understand him.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

What happened to governating?

The Los Angeles Times has an exclusive this morning about a conference call strategy session between Governor Schwarzenegger's "media expert" Don Sipple and several of the governor's anti-union corporate backers:

In the latest such call, a few days ago, Schwarzenegger's media expert, Don Sipple, outlined a strategy "based on a lot of polling" to create a "phenomenon of anger" among voters toward public employee unions. Firefighters, police officers, teachers and other state-paid workers have become the governor's harshest critics this year.

The unions aren't going to back down, of course. Above is a picture from the "Action Day for a Better California" (May 25) that I meant to put up earlier (I'll add a couple more later today). The union sponsored rallies in Los Angeles and Sacramento (this photo is from LA) drew tens of thousands of the ordinary middle class professionals that Schwarzenegger is targeting with his ugly media campaign.

"The process is like peeling an onion," Sipple said, describing a multi-step plan for persuading voters that public-worker unions are "motivated by economic self-interest" instead of "doing the best job for the state."

The superficiality of the Schwarzenegger administration is being noticed. He is raising and spending millions of dollars--$8 million on TV ads so far, some of which advertise products made by his corporate backers--on a media campaign to sway public opinion, while traveling the state doing stunts like filling in fake potholes.

And in a sign Arnold may be feeling the heat, last week he announced goals to significantly cut the state's greenhouse gas emissions, which of course is a great thing.


Street-legal hydrogen-fueled car

Honda FCX: What a Gas! A Week in Suburbia With a Hydrogen Honda
Published: June 5, 2005

FOR a decade or longer, the fuel-cell car has resembled the mirage that recedes as you draw closer to it. Hydrogen-powered vehicles always seemed at least 20 years away, the subject of news conferences in Washington and static displays at auto shows. Even when test-drive opportunities came up, they were strictly controlled rides around a track, with nervous company representatives making excuses from the passenger seat.

All that changed last month when Honda handed me the keys to a 2005 edition of its FCX (for Fuel Cell Experimental), the first zero-emission, hydrogen-driven vehicle to be certified by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California for everyday commercial use. This is a street-ready hydrogen car with license plates and no rough edges, a test bed for green technology worth well over $1 million.

Only 20 similar cars exist in the United States and Japan, and I was one of the first journalists to drive it for an extended, unsupervised period - a week in the mixed company of Northeastern traffic.

Given my experience with fuel-cell prototypes that were noisy, balky and incapable of going very far between refuelings, the FCX was something of a surprise. Featuring the latest generation of Honda's own fuel cells (hundreds of them are arrayed in two multiple sets, called stacks) and a body and electric motor derived from the company's unsuccessful EV Plus battery vehicle, the FCX felt like a real car, not a high-strung test mule.

A small two-door hatchback with seating for four, it came with traction control, a CD player and even an automatic climate-control system. There may be fewer than two dozen of these cars in the world, but Honda went to the trouble of giving this one classy floor mats embroidered with the FCX logo.

With new noise-suppression technology, the FCX is one of the quietest cars on the road...

Just one question: how many cup holders does this thing have?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Downing Street Memo

I belately read the Downing Street Memo tonight. I had heard a lot about its effect on the elections in Britain, and that it wasn't making much of an impact over here, but I hadn't heard much about what was actually in it, which is pretty damning as it turns out. If you're reading this and you haven't read the memo yet, go read it. It is only about a page long.

And I have an idea about why U.S. newspapers aren't covering it. I think it might be because newspaper editors--who are generally very well-informed people, already were convinced that President Bush had decided to go to war well in advance of any debate in this country, and that WMD were a pretense all along. That is, I think, the impression any well informed person would make--even someone who supported the war on humanitarian or democratic-domino-theory grounds. So these editors read the memo or heard about the memo and said, what's the big deal?

Well, it is a big deal, since of course Bush still denies he mislead us about WMD and the reason for going to war just as he denies making any mistakes, or even that the war is going badly.

As the saying goes, "Bush lied, people died."

Crunch time in Sacramento

Yesterday I saw Guess Who's Coming to Dinner for the first time. It is, now, a somewhat hokey movie about interracial marriage. The setup is incredible--the couple, a white 23-year-old woman and a 37-year-old black man have just met ten days previously on a trip in Hawaii, and have decided to get married in the next two weeks, but first go to meet her parents--wealthy San Francisco liberals--to ask for their blessing that evening over dinner. The liberal parents are surprised by their shock and concern about the marriage, but eventually decide that how much a couple loves each other matters most, that true love concurs all, etc.

Well, the exact same arguments support allowing gay marriages. Unfortunately, the Calif. Assembly just voted against sending Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)'s gay marriage bill to the Senate. The vote was one of hundreds at the deadline to move bills between the Assembly and the Senate.

From the LA Times:
California lawmakers Thursday voted to require weapons manufacturers to ensure that all bullets and cartridges are branded with distinctive serial numbers.


Lawmakers also approved bills that would allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses, restrict inexperienced teenage drivers from carrying passengers, increase the minimum wage, and make cigarettes more "fire-safe." The cigarette bill passed narrowly, in spite of an effort by the tobacco industry to kill it.

The measures were among hundreds that passed — or died — as lawmakers rushed to meet a deadline today for each legislative chamber to move its bills to the other for review. They have until the end of August to decide whether to send the proposals to the governor.

An Assembly measure to legalize same-sex unions, which lacked enough support to pass Wednesday night after an intense debate, came up again Thursday but failed. Lawmakers cast 37 votes in favor but needed 41 for passage. There were 36 no votes and seven abstentions.


One of the proposals, from state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer and approved in the Senate, 21-14, would require manufacturers, starting in 2007, to stamp bullets sold in California with a identification number that police could trace to the store where the ammunition was sold.

"We can put individualized serial numbers on cartons of yogurt, on almost everything in society, with very little additional cost," said Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana), who sponsored the measure, SB 357.

The second measure, which was approved by the Assembly, 41-37, would mandate that all new semiautomatic handguns, starting in 2007, include technology that would stamp a distinguishing serial number onto a cartridge when it is fired. Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), the sponsor of AB 352, said the markings "won't always lead to the criminal, but it will create leads" for police.

Though Koretz said no law enforcement groups opposed his bill, Republican lawmakers criticized it strongly. Assemblyman Todd Spitzer (R-Orange) argued that criminals could plant spent shell casings to mislead investigators.


Weapons weren't the only subject of clashes on the issue of special markings Thursday. The Senate approved, 22 to 16, the latest incarnation of legislation to allow some illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

The proposed licenses would be specially designated so they could not be used as a broader form of identification. Democrats last year rejected the idea of a second tier of licenses, but the governor vetoed the proposal they passed, which would have allowed undocumented residents to have regular driver's licenses.

This year, Congress gave states the option of issuing the distinctive licenses, and Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), who sponsored the previous measures, reluctantly adopted the approach in SB 60. The Schwarzenegger administration has said that it will not support any legislation until the federal Department of Homeland Security finalizes rules for the alternative licenses.

Another bill that lawmakers passed would require that cigarettes sold in California starting next year be fire-safe by extinguishing in a few minutes if a smoker doesn't draw on it. Such a law took effect in New York in 2004, and Canada is expected to implement a similar law in October.


The marriage bill would "provide that marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between 2 persons" rather than "between a man and a woman" as written in Prop. 22. 5 Democrats voted against it, and 6 abstained; abstentions equal no votes because the bill needed 41 votes to pass, not just more yays than nays.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The news from Kabbum

Witness to Darfur: (pt. 2)
I try to disappear, sliding my hot and sticky body down the back seat of the SUV as it bounces along an unmarked dirt road. I realize for the first time since arriving in Sudan that I am actually terrified. Our cell phones have quit working, and now the VHF radio signal is gone. My companions, part of the relief group, the International Medical Corps (IMC), don’t have to tell me that these could be signs of an impending Janjaweed attack...

Everyone knows what is going on in Darfur. But almost nothing is being done to stop these attacks, which are coordinated by the militias and the Sudanese government in Khartoum, using helicopters, communications jamming, etc. I heard a report on the radio from someone traveling with the African Union Army who was shown a list of towns the Janjaweed planned to attack. They still couldn't stop the slaughter, except in one of the towns. Khartoum is still trying to cover up the problem:

Dutch aid workers arrested in Darfur over rape report - 31 May 2005

AMSTERDAM — Two high-profile members of the Dutch division of Doctors without Borders have been arrested in Sudan, just weeks after the volunteer aid group released a report about the widespread rape of women in the crisis region Darfur.

British national and the Artsen zonder Grenzen (AzG) chief in Sudan, Paul Foreman, was arrested on Monday and released on bail that night. He is reportedly "outraged".

A second AzG worker, Vincent Hoedt, was arrested on Tuesday morning and is being taken to the Sudanese capital Khartoum. He is responsible for the aid group's activities in Darfur. AzG had expected his arrest.

A Sudanese public prosecutor said the government was angered by an
AzG report in March alleging hundreds of rapes in the Darfur region.

But an AzG spokeswoman in Amsterdam was "very shocked and outraged" by the incident. "It is our mandate to speak out about human rights violations. This is too crazy for words," she said.

The spokeswoman said Foreman is accused of undermining Sudanese society by publishing an incorrect report.


The arrests are the first such action taken against an aid organisation since reports of violence and a refugee crisis started to emerge from Darfur in 2003.

Sudan said AzG had to consult with the government prior to publishing the report, claiming it asked the group on multiple occasions to provide evidence.

On that basis, justice officials believe the claims are false — a penalty that carries a maximum three-year jail term.

AzG chief Foreman said he is refusing to hand over medical documents because they are protected under the medical profession's privacy code...

Thanks to Google News, I know that reliable sources such as the China Daily and The Washington Times are reporting that the situation is improving. President Bush hasn't mentioned Darfur in months [update: just after I posted this, I read that Bush, meeting with South Africa President Mbeki (another person who holds responsibility for letting this genocide continue) discussed Darfur. Mbeki reiterated his desire not to accept U.S. military help, claiming the genocide is something the AU can solve.], and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan believes a political solution is possible, but:

Improvement is in the Eye of the Beholder
Jan Pronk, U.N. envoy to Sudan, recently said that Secretary-General Kofi Annan was greatly impressed by improvement of the situation in Darfur. In Pronk's words
"Mr. Annan was really impressed by the improved situation in Darfur, which he visited on Saturday," Pronk told a press conference in Khartoum.


"Foreign press reports, especially in the American press, which speak of no progress in Darfur are completely untrue," he added.
At the time Annan was in Darfur, The Scotsman was reporting that
Confidential African Union (AU) reports have provided damning new evidence of the involvement of Sudanese government forces and their Janjaweed militia allies in the murder and rape of civilians in the Darfur region.
At the same time, two aid workers from Doctors Without Borders were arrested because of a recent report documenting hundreds of cases of rape in the region.

On top of that, the World Food Program reported that the number of people requiring food aid in Sudan is now more than six million, while the UNHCR reported that Janjaweed and government attacks have all but destroyed village life and forced some 2 million people into makeshift slums. With the majority of villages destroyed and insecurity rampant, it is not surprising that the displaced have become entirely dependent on foreign aid and are increasingly unwilling to return home.

As Eric Reeves explained in his most recent update
Sometime in the summer of 2004 (we will never know precisely when), genocidal destruction in Darfur became more a matter of engineered disease and malnutrition than violent killing. In other words, disease and malnutrition proceeding directly from the consequences of violent attacks on villages, deliberate displacement, and systematic destruction of the means of agricultural production among the targeted non-Arab or African tribal groups became the major killers.
According to a recent International Crisis Group estimate, "a minimum presence of 12,000-15,000 [military] personnel is needed now to undertake the tasks of protecting villages against further attack or destruction." But as it stands now, the African Union hasn't even been able to deploy the 3,000 or so troops required under its current mandate and will most likely be able to field the 7,000-12,000 troops called for in its expanded mission.

Thus, it is rather difficult to comprehend just what sorts of "improvement" Annan and Pronk claim to have witnessed in Darfur.

The international community continues to fail to seriously addresses this crisis and so we ask you to join the Coalition for Darfur as we attempt to raise awareness of this genocide and collect contributions for worthy organizations providing life-saving assistance to the forgotten people of Darfur.

Well said.