Sunday, August 31


Important update to my post today on Steve Diamond's latest report.

"The storm of the century: this is the real deal, not a test" - Ray Nagin

"Jindal said the state planned to begin "contraflow" procedures, opening both sides of interstates to outgoing traffic only, at 4 a.m. Sunday."

Staring down the barrel of a cataclysmic event that has clearly been building since Friday, it is not clear to me when the official mandatory evacuation order was given for Louisiana.

Some articles seem to indicate that the mandatory evacuation order is scheduled to go into effect today at 8:00 AM, but again, that's unclear to me. There are quite a number of statements relating to evacuation orders in this CNN report.

It seems that Governor Jindal has still not ordered a statewide mandatory evacuation, although he's told all those in the path of the storm to evacuate. But again, I am just not clear on the evacuation orders, which also seem to vary from parish to parish.

This AP report indicates that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin showed belated sense and issued what seems to be mandatory evacuation order for Nola residents sometime on Saturday night.

But frankly I don't see how a complete evacuation of Nola can be carried out in the time left. There have already been several mix-ups and delays.

I have the bad feeling that the evacuation should have been high gear by Friday night, not Sunday morning.

We'll see. And hope and pray.

See Drudge's site for the latest breaking news, weather maps, satellite images, etc.

Barack Obama Sahib launches CYA on his relationship with William Ayers Sahib (UPDATED)

9:15 AM ET Update
The Real Barack Obama consistently does such great research and analysis on the complex web of Obama's "Chicago Way" associations that it's easy to take the blog for granted. But this morning they've batted one out of the park by digging into Linda Lenz's background in order to provide key background for Steve Diamond's post, below:
What Diamond did not mention is that not only is Lenz seemingly commencing damage control for the Obama campaign, but there are also a number of ties connecting Lenz with the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama, and Ayers. Lenz is a former Chicago media insider.[...]
Go to RBO to get the background before starting on Diamond's post.


On Saturday a headline in the Chicago Sun Times proclaimed: Annenberg Challenge a radical enclave? Gimme a break! There is nothing to condemn about Ayers’ leadership over the past 20 years.

Ah, but Steve Diamond spots the sleight of hand! He notes at his Global Labor blog: Obama Campaign Uses Sun Times to Begin Retreat on Ayers Issue:
Perhaps realizing that there is no hope on the Ayers issue, the Obama campaign began its strategic retreat [Saturday]. They trotted out a local ally in the Chicago school wars, Linda Lenz, to begin the effort. Her job: admit finally that, in fact, there was some kind of relationship between Ayers and Obama after all but "it ain't no big thang."

We'll see if this helps or only fans the flames.

I posted a reply on the Sun Times website:

"Perhaps the editors of the Sun Times should feel "a little silly" about inviting Ms. Lenz to pen an editorial defending a former terrorist without identifying her fully.

Ms. Lenz is associated with the Alliance for Excellent Education on whose board sits Obama education advisor Linda Darling-Hammond. And on Ms. Lenz' board of directors at the Community Renewal Society is Warren Chapman, one of the founders of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and a former staff member of the Joyce Foundation on whose board served Barack Obama.

While Ms. Lenz brushes over the self-proclaimed "radical" nature of school reform in Chicago she also ignores the fact that a central goal of the Annenberg Challenge led by Ayers and Obama was to bolster flagging Local School Councils, a new power center in the schools set up in the wake of a teachers strike to watchdog teachers and principals.

And although in a recent talk she gave she lauds the research conducted by the Consortium on Chicago School Research of the University of Chicago, she ignores their studied conclusion that the Annenberg Challenge was a failure. $160,000,000 down the drain and no improvement in student outcomes.

No wonder the Mayor pushed against Ayers and Obama to re-centralize power over the schools, although that was no comfort to the teachers union.

Oh, at least Ms. Lenz gets one thing right: Ayers was indeed not "just some guy in the neighborhood" as Senator Obama attempted to mislead the American people into thinking. Given the failure of the Annenberg Challenge and the authoritarian outlook that a former terrorist brought to the reform effort, no wonder he made the attempt."

Saturday, August 30

Hurricane Gustav and Dr Diamond intervene

The post I had planned for today is bumped until tomorrow. Today's posts are an utterly useless warning to Ray Nagin, Diamond's newest, and my stab at orienting readers who are completely new to Diamond's writings on the education issue.

Introduction to the importance of Steve Diamond's writings on the William Ayers-Barack Obama relationship and the authoritarian left

I'll begin by observing that it's misinformed to characterize Ayers as a "radical chic" educator. Ayers has found the radical chic crowd -- the well-meaning liberals Tom Wolfe sent up in Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers and the limousine leftists -- to be useful idiots.

In this, he is working from the Maoist playbook, where you "swim like fish" among the sea of the masses, until you're ready to destroy anyone who disagrees with your real agenda.

So I don't know who is more frightening: William Ayers or the Republican operatives chasing red herring in their attempt to frame Ayers in terms of his bomb-making past. It's his present that's most important to know. That is, if you don't like the idea of U.S. taxpayer money used to indoctrinate U.S. public school children to the idea that America is an evil place.

Understand that Diamond is an American leftist -- the old school, American labor-union left. When you see someone like that sounding the alarm about Ayers's influence in American public education, it's wise to take careful notice.

As to why you haven't heard the truth about Ayers's influence in education from others in the media, all you have to do is listen to Sean Hannity's verbal attacks on Ayers to understand that "liberal" media bias is the least of the problem.

Hannity and other conservative pundits in the media have hammered at Ayers's time as a member of the WeatherMan/Underground, but have not explained Ayers's education theories to the American public and how they're playing out in the public education field.

So where are these media mavens' researchers? Attending comic book conventions, I guess. An alternative explanation is that the Fox producers have done the research and said, 'We don't dare open this can of worms so close to the election.'

It's a big can. To embark on a national discussion on Ayers's activist education theories is to infuriate the voting bloc of teachers's unions and indeed the entire U.S. education field. They fear, and not without justification, that educators could be tarred with one brush.

Yet even many educators don't know what Ayers is all about, despite his growing influence in education. And it seems that many who do know prefer studious silence to speaking out. Why? 'Keep it in the family,' that's why.

Again, they're afraid that if American parents learn what's going on, the blowback will have serious consequences. And such a discussion could derail Obama's plans to greatly expand federal government funding for public education if he becomes President.

So it works out to this: The only knowledgeable American other than Diamond to go directly to the general public to raise the alarm is Sol Stern -- an ex-leftist. David Horowitz -- another ex-leftist -- gave Stern a platform at Front Page Magazine to explain the truth about Ayers's social justice teachings. Yet still the information has not broken through to the wider media.

Notice the pattern. It's the Americans who know the left inside-out who are sounding the alarm. They fully understand that Ayers and his crowd are not dreamy-eyed utopians. Ayers's theories long ago left the classroom and worked their way into politics, using scared white politicians and furious black activists as dupes.

Diamond has been shouting the truth from his Global Labor and Politics blog since April, and the only person in the major media who listened was John Batchelor -- until last week when Steve got a few minutes to speak on Milt Rosenberg's radio show in Chicago.

It's possible that the flap about Stanley Kurtz's difficulty, in his quest to get hold of Chicago Annenberg Challenge documents, will eventually bring Ayers's education theories into the mainstream media. But it's a little late in the day, isn't it?

Barack Obama's chief education advisor, Linda Darling-Hammond, is a disciple of Ayers's education ideas, even though she has tried to distance herself from Ayers's more explicit statements about what he wants for America's schoolchildren.

If you want to get the whole story, it's going to take plowing through several essays. Happily, Stern and Diamond are writing for the general public and they write clearly. So it's not as if you'd have to read academic papers. Yet I suggest that everyone who is new to the isssue start reading the essays.

If you want to get in the ballpark quickly, my May 20 tabloid headline effort to wake up the blogosphere, The William Ayers plan to turn America's schoolchildren into Maoists and how Barack Obama helped him, connects the dots between Stern's warnings and Diamond's.

(Scroll to the end of the post for links to Stern's published writings on the topic.)

The Real Barack Obama also provides a handy linked list of important source material. (Scroll down past the main article.)

I also recommend that you study the warnings given by history professor KC Johnson, which Zenpundit Mark Safranski alerted me to. You can start with his piece for Inside Higher Education on dispositions that teachers must increasingly endure.

(If a disposition sounds like something the Grand Inquisitor might have dreamed up, you'd not be too far from the truth.)

Once you read Johnson's warning, you'll realize that Ayers's "social justice" program for schools is marching forward, no matter which political party is in power at the federal, state, and local levels.

But with all this information under your belt, you still can't grasp the full scope of the situation with regard to Obama's involvement, unless you go into the archives at Diamond's blog and start reading forward from April 22.

I wish there was an easier way to bring the public up to speed but there isn't. And that points to the biggest problem: the issues do not lend themselves to sound bites and sixty-second political attack ads.

Yet a bonus for plowing through all of Diamond's writings on Ayers is to fully understand why Obama has moved heaven and earth in the attempt to downplay his association with Ayers.

He knows that the biggest scandal is not Ayers's terrorist acts decades ago. It has to do with his current role in education and Obama's close association with it.

Obama also knows that simply throwing Linda Darling-Hammond under the bus isn't the fix, given his long association with Ayers and his cadre, which includes work for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

"The Authoritarian Radicals: Barack Obama, Bill Ayers and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge"

"... the CAC effort raises the question of the fundamental world view of Barack Obama. It would appear to have a lot more in common with the perspective of Bill Ayers, a perspective that dates back 40 years because of its roots in the New Left, but continues today as Ayers pushes for his racially divisive authoritarian agenda in American schools."
-- Steve Diamond

Hot off the presses, here's the latest from Steve Diamond. For readers who are new to the topic, see my Introduction to the importance of Steve Diamond's writings on the William Ayers-Barack Obama relationship and the authoritarian left.

The Authoritarian Radicals: Barack Obama, Bill Ayers and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge


As the records of the $160 million dollar six-year long Chicago Annenberg Challenge project are liberated and analyzed in coming weeks, it makes sense to ask just what was the Challenge, or CAC, all about.

(Prior to the release of the official records of the CAC I was able to analyze board minutes, financial records and annual reports of the CAC provided to me by Brown University. I have posted them here for others to review.)

After all, the CAC was the first chance for Barack Obama to take on a serious executive role in a controversial political environment. And the Challenge failed, badly.

Most of the criticism of the longstanding relationship between Bill Ayers, who founded the CAC, and Barack Obama is, unfortunately, coming from the conservative side of the political spectrum. That is natural enough – they want their candidate, John McCain, to win and they know that any association between Ayers and Obama is toxic because of Ayers background as a terrorist.

But silence on this issue from the left is rather puzzling – well, not exactly silence. Critics of the Ayers-Obama alliance whether on the right or, like me, on the left, are actually subject to loud and constant attack.

Of course, those on the attack whether high brows like E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, or Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic, or the mobs mobilized a la the Sandinistas or Hugo Chavez by the Obama campaign to attack a Chicago radio talk show host and guest, ignore the facts. So as far as advancing the debate is concerned they might as well be silent.

The left, however, should be particularly concerned about what it is that brought Obama and Ayers together in the same movement some 20 years ago, because there is very little about that movement that can be called progressive or democratic. In fact, it was a bureaucratic and potentially authoritarian movement to control the public school system in the city of Chicago against the Chicago Teachers’ Union, the Chicago School Board and the Mayor’s office, in particular, Mayor Daley, in the mid-1990s.


The starting point was a 1987 strike by the Chicago Teachers’ Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO. Teachers’ strikes are always very controversial as teachers perform a vital public service. In Chicago, unfortunately, there was a very frayed relationship at the time between the teachers and the city. There were deep fiscal problems as well as the city was transitioning away from a manufacturing center to a services dominated urban environment.

In the wake of that strike, a coalition of business, community and education reformers emerged to form a group called the Alliance for Better Chicago Schools, ABCs.

According to Columbia University education scholar Dorothy Shipps, the strike "enrag[ed] parents and provid[ed] the catalyst for a coalition between community groups and Chicago United [the business lobby] that was forged in the ensuing year."

Bill Ayers was a leading activist in ABCs and later became its head. His brother John was also active in the reform campaign as was the business group founded by Bill's prominent father Tom, Chicago United. (That's Tom next to Barack and Bill above.)

ABCs came up with a proposal that was then lobbied for in the state legislature to establish a new governance structure in the schools. Power over individual schools would be de-centralized and placed in the hands of new Local School Councils, or LSC's, which would be comprised of elected representatives of six parents, two community members, two teachers, the principal, and, in high schools, a student. They would be able to hire and fire, unilaterally, principals of their respective schools, who were now stripped of tenure and placed on four year contracts. The principals, in turn, could recruit teachers to particular schools, thus undermining union seniority protections.

The proposal struck a popular chord among some community groups, particularly the Hispanic United Neighborhood Organization, a strong force in certain city neighborhoods modeled on Saul Alinsky’s controversial and troubling, in my view, organizing principles.

But the idea was decidedly less welcome to black organization like Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH. Why? Because becoming a teacher in Chicago or a public school administrator or staff member was one of the few routes in 1970s and 1980s Chicago for a black person to establish a secure middle class existence.

The idea of imposing a new power center through the LSC’s on top of teachers and schools, and outside of the collective bargaining process, was viewed as a threat to the gains that black teachers had fought long and hard to achieve.

In fact, one of the few, if only, black community groups to support the LSC’s was the Developing Communities Project (DCP), whose Executive Director at the time was Barack Obama. The DCP was very vocal and up front about pushing for school reform, according to press reports.

So the LSC reform was pushed by Hispanic community activists angered by a recent strike, Barack Obama’s DCP, elite business groups looking to solve the school system’s fiscal crisis, and Bill Ayers who saw the LSC’s as the fulfillment of a dream for radical school restructuring.

The LSC’s were put into place in 1988 and conducted elections every two years thereafter. Hundreds of principals were duly fired or resigned but student achievement languished. Naturally, apathy began to set in. Moves were afoot to gut the LSC’s and re-centralize power in the hands of the Mayor’s office. The business sector support for the LSC’s was waning.


It should have been no surprise that the LSC’s were both controversial and problematic. They actually had been tried once before and the result was a disaster.

The setting that time was 1968 New York and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville school district in Brooklyn. There a similar local control effort ended up in a divisive clash with the teachers’ union headed up by Sandra Feldman and Albert Shanker. Then, sadly, there were few, if any, black teachers and the black power movement was on the ascendancy. As was the New Left, that would soon give birth to the authoritarians Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

A new school board fired teachers, in violation of due process rights according to the union, and a strike ensued. According to a thoughtful study by Peter B. Levy of the New Left and the labor movement, the conflict led to the New Left siding with the community control activists against the union:

Local black community activists and their new left supporters claimed that the union’s actions demonstrated its traditional autocracy. One black activists [sic] declared: “The current issue…with the union is clearly one of old time boss politics. Mr. Albert Shanker has handled himself in a manner reminiscent of the traditional UNION BOSS.” His were the callous actions of a power broker who would “do everything possible to prevent us from really ever controlling the education of our children.”

The UFT [the American Federation of Teachers NYC affiliate] countered that it was a young progressive union that had historically fought for the rights of all workers and that it too had only just won basic rights. [In fact, as the author points out elsewhere the UFT had supported and participate in the Mississippi Freedom Rides, the Congress on Racial Equality and the 1963 March on Washington]. Most important, the teacher’ union reiterated that due process, the essence of democracy, was their main concern. Or as Shanker proclaimed: “The issue is…will we have a school system in which justice, due process and dignity for teachers is possible, or will we have a system in which any group of vigilantes can enter a school and take it over with intimidation and threats of violence.”

Among the supporters of the UFT defense of due process rights were A. Philip Randolph and Negro Trade Union League. Randolph had been the organizer of the black Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters’ union and a close ally of Martin Luther King.


As Dorothy Shipps has pointed out local control efforts like that tried in New York and later Chicago profess to be democratic but are, in fact, something else altogether.

Shipps argues in her study of what was called at the time the Chicago “school wars” that the local control movement in Chicago, though backed by “radicals” like Ayers, gave "business the clearest voice in systemwide reform."

She argued that a district level democracy effort such as an "Education Assembly" is required rather than the parochial local control approach:

"A large districtwide elected group intended to serve as a legislative body, such an assembly would have both the staff and structure of one. This alternative vision of democracy rests on citizenship and stewardship even as it builds on the private interests and knowledge of concerned parents and neighbors. As an example of a different form of democratic governance, [the assembly idea] serves to remind ordinary Chicagoans that they now have no systemwide forum through which to debate broad issues of equity, standards, and accountability."

What Shipps is proposing, of course, is a vibrant representative democracy as opposed to the various notions of "participatory" democracy favored by the New Left and its progeny. The advantage of the former is that it serves as a constraint on the emergence of charismatic hero-leaders who can run roughshod over an atomized mass in the membership. Local councils cannot overcome that problem without electing representatives to a district wide body, a notion clearly absent in Chicago.

While I do not know of any incidents that rose to the level of vigilantism by LSC’s, as in New York in 1968, one can readily see why the now black dominated Chicago Teachers Union would be particularly concerned about the creation of this new watchdog group.

It is interesting to point out as well, as Levy notes, that when the NYC UFT went out on strike, white members of the New Left volunteered to teach, serving then as strike breakers against the union. This was another sad chapter in the inability of young white student radicals to comprehend the nature and significance of the labor movement.

Some in the New Left set out to set up new power centers in poor communities through community organizing precisely because they did not want to compete inside the labor movement with the already democratically elected leadership. That was a leadership and movement that they could not mold to their authoritarian models.

As a veteran labor and student activist of the period later wrote about the SDS and the trade union movement:

"The problem was that these middle class students thought of themselves as leaders. Without thinking about it - because they didn't think about it explicitly - they rejected the trade union movement because it was already organized, it already had a leadership. There was no room at the top for them there. At least not in any reasonably near future. The "poor," on the other hand, were not organized and had no leadership."

(One could easily see a young Barack Obama making the same calculation - how to get to the top in a city like Chicago which already had an established political leadership in the Democratic party and the Chicago Federation of Labor. Well, how about the community organizations, and who better to ally oneself with than Bill Ayers, a 20 year veteran of this milieu.)

Instead of supporting activists inside a democratic labor movement to consider new approaches to education that were genuinely responsive to community concerns, Levy notes the New Left adopted a “romantic view of Black Power”:

“…white radicals tended to believe the rhetoric of the Panthers and other black militants. They found in it proof that a revolution was imminent and thus a rationale for their own militancy.”

That “militancy” in 1968 would soon turn into sectarianism, violence, terrorism, authoritarianism and Maoism among a segment of the New Left. That segment would be the home of Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers and Ayers’ education reform ally Mike Klonsky (the fortunate recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the CAC for his Small Schools Workshop).

In fact, Ayers and Dohrn would take their initial interest in the Black Power movement to an extreme arguing then, as they do now, that "white supremacy" and "white skin privilege" are the central sins of American life. Thus, Ayers has endorsed a proposal made by Linda Darling-Hammond, an education advisor to Barack Obama, to repay something she calls "education debt" that has, she argues, accumulated over centuries to people of color.

The idea was initiated by a colleague of Darling-Hammond's and Ayers', Gloria Ladson-Billings, who roots her proposal in the argument among some in the black community, like the Trinity church that the Obama family belongs to, that whites owe blacks reparations for slavery.


So just as the Ayers/Obama community organizer dream of a new power center in Chicago schools was flailing, along came Walter Annenberg with his $500 million national grant to school reform in 1993. Bill Ayers saw an opportunity to rescue the failing dream.

According to Shipps:

"The Challenge sought to build on the momentum of the 1988 Chicago School Reform Act which had radically decentralized governance of the Chicago Public Schools.”

As Ayers himself would explain in his proposal to receive $49.2 million from Annenberg:

“Chicago is six years into the most radical systemwide urban school reform effort in the country. The Annenberg Challenge provides an unprecedented opportunity to concentrate the energy of this reform into an educational renaissance in the classroom.”


“We envision a process to unleash at the school site the initiative and courage of LSC’s….” Later, it states “[t]he Local Schools Councils…are important both for guiding educational improvement and as a means of strengthening America’s democratic traditions.”

With the initial grant secured Ayers formed the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, which he co-chaired, as the operational arm of the CAC. The Collaborative, in turn, recruited a new board of directors including Barack Obama who was selected its Chairman in the spring of 1995.

Over the next six years the CAC would match the initial grant with $110 million of matching grants for a total of $160 million to be invested to meet their goals. At the heart of the effort was a proposal to recruit and train new leaders for membership on the Local School Councils.

According to Ken Rolling, the executive director of the CAC, who had been recruited to the CAC from the Woods Fund where he had earlier funded efforts to create the LSC’s in the late 1980s, its aim was:

“…to make clear the connection between organizing a base of supporters for school reform with local schools, and a training program on educational issues to assist parents and community members participate in their schools”

That proposal from the Ayers-led Collaborative was questioned by board members and specifically by business sector board member Arnold Weber as a potential “political threat “to the power of school principals. It was Barack Obama who volunteered to help shepherd the proposal through the board after consultation with the Ayers-led Collaborative. More than $2 million was spent to shore up the failing Councils.

And all of this was done in direct confrontation with the Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley.

After seven years of the LSC reform the schools were not raising test scores and Daley pushed successfully to recentralize power in his hands over school governance at the end of 1995. The LSC’s were not eliminated only handcuffed, yet the CAC persisted. At one point according to a report to the Ford Foundation, Daley even attempted to wrest the Annenberg money away from Ayers and Obama.

According to Ken Rolling:

"There were two or three attempts from them [Chicago city officials] to just “get the money.” Even the mayor got into at one point. The mayor asked the ambassador [Annenberg] to come into Chicago and he wanted to tell him, “You are wasting your money. You should give it to me.” The ambassador never responded to him and never agreed to a meeting. But [new School system CEO Paul] Vallas tried it, his staff worked on how to wrest that money away from us."


What was the result of the battle led arm in arm by Barack Obama and Bill Ayers against Mayor Daley? Was this reincarnation of the New Left’s authoritarian dream of a radical upheaval of American education effective in helping actual students?

Obama partisans and veterans of the Chicago school wars natually take the side of the CAC yet ignore the reality. Thus, in the Chicago Sun Times Linda Lenz, affiliated with Obama education advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, and who edits a journal whose board of directors includes Warren Chapman, a co-founder of the CAC, writes that there is much to "applaud" and "admire" in the work of Ayers and Obama on the CAC. Hmm, little wonder. At least she corrects the disinformation campaign of the Obama camp about the Ayers/Obama alliance.

But what really happened with that $160 million? Did it really create an "educational renaissance" as promised by Ayers?

It turns out, thankfully, that the CAC also funded a third arm, the Consortium of Chicago School Research (CCSR), in parallel with the two operational arms, the Board and the Collaborative. This arm was to conduct research on the impact of the CAC’s funding.

In 2003 the final technical report of the CCSR on the CAC was published. The results were not pretty.

The “bottom line” according to the report was that the CAC did not achieve its goal of improvement in student academic achievement and nonacademic outcomes. While student test scores improved in the so-called Annenberg Schools that received some of the $150 million disbursed in the six years from 1995 to 2001,

“This was similar to improvement across the system….There were no statistically significant differences in student achievement between Annenberg schools and demographically similar non-Annenberg schools. This indicates that there was no Annenberg effect on achievement.”

The report identified the political conflict between the Local School Council promotion efforts of the CAC – such as the $2 million Leadership Development Initiative - as a possible factor hindering a positive impact on student achievement.

The Challenge allowed Barack Obama and Bill Ayers to work together, no doubt closely, in the heat of political battle to help disburse $160 million to allies, particularly in the LSC’s, in the Chicago School system.

Under the circumstances, it seems more than a bit disingenuous of Senator Obama to dismiss Bill Ayers as “some guy who lives in my neighborhood.”

On a more serious level, of course, the CAC effort raises the question of the fundamental world view of Barack Obama. It would appear to have a lot more in common with the perspective of Bill Ayers, a perspective that dates back 40 years because of its roots in the New Left, but continues today as Ayers pushes for his racially divisive authoritarian agenda in American schools.

Issue the mandatory evacuation order now, Mayor Nagin. Don't wait for Governor Jindal.

Saturday, August 20, 3:30 PM EDT (Reuters): [New Orleans] City Mayor Ray Nagin said if Gustav -- now a dangerous Category 4 storm with 145 mph (230 kph) winds -- holds to its current course, a mandatory city evacuation could start early on Sunday.

August 30,(AP via ABC News: [...] By early Sunday, Nagin said officials would look at the potential for a mandatory evacuation. ... Critics said New Orleans was waiting too long.

Bob Wheelersburg, a former Army Reserve major and liaison officer for emergency preparedness, said National Guard units are suffering from equipment and manpower shortages.

"If I was the governor of Louisiana, I'd give the evacuation order as soon as possible," Wheelersburg said. "I think it's going to be a huge disaster."

But authorities have emphasized that New Orleans can't just up and leave — there is a phased order to evacuations, and coastal communities or those outside of levee protections get first crack and moving residents out.[...]
Yes. Exactly. And because the evacuations have to be phased, the mandatory order to evacuate New Orleans should have been issued on Friday afternoon at latest.

Just for the record, I'll start by reviewing two obvious points:

1. Anyone who can read a weather map, and who knows the temperature of the waters that Gustav is passing over, knows that there is nothing to prevent Gustav from morphing into a Category 5 hurricane.

2. New Orleans is a bowl set below sea level. That means if it's hit by a worst-case version of a Cat 5, everyone remaining in that bowl dies. No such thing as high ground in that situation. And forget the levees.

Mr Nagin, you've had three years to consider the worst case scenario. So issue that evacuation order now. No one with a conscience will curse you if turns out you were wrong.

I don't want to hear about Governor Jindal; clearly he has fallen down. So call him and say, "Mandatory evacuation now on in Nola," then hang up.

"Strongly urging" Nola residents to evacuate, as you've been doing, doesn't cut it. Here's what else doesn't cut it:
Those among New Orleans' estimated 310,000 to 340,000 residents who ignore orders to leave accept "all responsibility for themselves and their loved ones," the city's emergency preparedness director, Jerry Sneed, has warned.
If you start the mandatory evacuation now, and if your path is littered with miracles, there is a chance that you can get everyone out of Nola by the time of Gustav's landfall on the U.S. coast.

There must be ways to expedite the evacuation. There should not be any tourists left in the hotels. So maybe one strategy is for the National Guard to evacuate residents from their homes and transport them to the hotels, which can act as a staging area for the evacuation buses.

Whatever you do, don't stand around shifting blame and complaining that many people won't leave. I understand that you're basically a businessman, not a triage expert. But you should have thought of that before you signed on to be a mayor of below-sea level city in hurricane alley.

This said, if you take your advice from seasoned military commanders, not politicians, you'll do okay this time.

If you don't follow that route, and if the worst happens, the only upside is that you won't have to face the music. You'll be drowned.

More from the ABC/AP report:
Police with bullhorns plan to go street to street this weekend with a tough message about getting out ahead of Hurricane Gustav: This time there will be no shelter of last resort. The doors to the Superdome will be locked. Those who stay will be on their own. ...

In New Orleans, the locations of the evacuation buses were not made public because people who need a ride are supposed to go to designated pickup points, not to the staging area.

But that approach worried some residents. Elouise Williams, 68, said she called the city's 311 hot line Thursday until she was "blue in the face."

She was concerned about getting a ride to the pickup point and about what would happen to those who left. As of late Friday afternoon, she planned to remain in the Algiers neighborhood and look in on any other residents who stayed behind.
6:30 PM ET Update
From ABC website, 4:08 PM ET:
ABC News' Karen Travers reports: In an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace that will air Sunday morning, Sen. John McCain indicated that the GOP convention could be suspended because of Hurricane Gustav.

"It wouldn't be appropriate to have a festive occasion while a near tragedy or a terrible challenge is presented in the form of a natural disaster," McCain told Wallace.

McCain said that he has been in touch with the governors of the Gulf Coast states—where Gustav is expected to make landfall—and that his campaign would continue to monitor the now-Category 4 storm.

"I'm afraid, Chris, that we may have to look at that situation and we'll try and monitor it. I've been talking to Governors Jindal [La.], Barbour [Miss.], Riley [Ala.], Crist [Fla.], I've been talking to all of them," McCain told Wallace. "So we're monitoring it from day to day and I'm saying a few prayers too."

A Republican convention official tells ABC News, however, that at this point, there are no plans to cancel the convention but there are several contingency plans that are being looked at in terms of delegation travel and the program of speakers. Both Crist and Jindal are scheduled to speak at the convention this week, but no decisions have been made yet on their plans to come to Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

This official says the Republican National Convention Committee is "still moving forward with opening the convention on Monday" as planned and notes that there is official business that has to happen at the convention, like the actual nomination of John McCain and the platform ratification.

The RNCC has issued the following statement from 2008 Republican National Convention President and CEO Maria Cino:

"Like all Americans, our prayers are with those who will be affected by Hurricane Gustav. We continue to closely monitor the movement of the storm and are considering necessary contingencies. We are in communication with the Gulf state governors to make sure the convention is taking all the appropriate steps as the hurricane progresses. The safety of our affected delegations is our first priority and preparing for Gustav comes before anything else."

Friday, August 29

What part of "Stand down" don't you understand?

KR: Re your chortles about Putin's accusations: There is still lot of fog about the Russo-Georgia war. We don't know what kind of evidence the Russians have collected. But Putin might be working up to something.

This said, I'll grant that he got carried away with his theories. Whatever machinations were going on from the US side surely had nothing to do with helping McCain get into office.

Things seem to have revolved around ratcheting up the argument for Georgia's fast entry into NATO's Membership Action Plan before a new U.S. president was installed. I assume that would be on the theory that if Obama got into office there was no guarantee he'd push for the MAP for Georgia and Ukraine with the same vigor as Bush.

In any case there is enough evidence to suggest that neither side has clean hands in this matter. Saakashvili was the trigger man but the U.S. military and/or the CIA put the gun in his hand then said, 'Now be sure not to shoot while we turn our back on you for a few minutes.'

Yet they knew he was trigger happy, and they did everything to egg him into a confrontation with Russia.

Keep in mind that the Israelis spilled the beans.The Jerusalem Post reported on August 10th with an update on the 11thWe cut arms sales to Georgia months ago
[...] "Several months ago, we carried out an evaluation of the situation in Georgia and realized that Georgia and Russia were on a collision course. We have good relations with both, and don't want to back either in this conflict," the official said. "We therefore made a decision to drastically minimize sales of weapons to Georgia.

Frantic requests from Georgia to Israel for military hardware leading up to the current conflict with Russia set off alarm bells at the Ministry of Defense.

"We saw that there was a surge in requests for weapons, and we therefore decided to, in effect, minimize the entire issue. After our decision, we sold only defensive weapons in small quantities to Georgia," he said.[...]
The key point is that if Israel -- a close U.S. ally -- noticed big trouble brewing, there was no way a gathering storm of that size escaped the notice of the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of State, the White House and Congress.

Meanwhile, Georgia had been transformed into an arms depot, with French and U.S. leading the pack of arms merchants. During his August 14 conversation with CNN's Larry King, Mikhail Gorbachev observed (through a translator)
[...] Had Georgia not been armed to the teeth, it wouldn't have done what it has done. A small state has a $1 billion military budget. All kinds of countries participated, but particularly the United States armed Georgia with sophisticated weapons -- aircraft, land weapons. Mountains of weapons were supplied to Georgia. [...]
So why did the U.S. stage war games with Georgia's military in July, which Russia would surely interpret as a rehearsal for attacks on Georgia's autonomous regions?

Of course there's the other side of the story, which is that the Russian military was instigating in the same regions and doing everything they could to provoke Saakashvili, even though they also knew he was trigger happy.

But the refrain that Russia was staging provocations would be nowhere near the two major points for the U.S.

The first point is that when our government wants to use the military to yank another country's chain, the Congress has to inform the people they represent.

The second point is that the United States of America is a member of NATO and should act as such while on the continent.

If it had been NATO troops giving training to Georgia's military and staging military exercises, then any blowback would have been directed at NATO. Instead, and once again, the USA is left holding the bag. And once again the Europeans retain deniability.

Regarding your concerns about the petroruble, the SCO, and Russia weapons sales to Syria -- all right, tomorrow I'll go down the list and we'll see where we end up.

I will close by noting that Dr Stephen F. Cohen's Russia report on the 24th to John Batchelor is vitally important. Here is the link to the podcast. See the first hour.

Thursday, August 28

How Michelle Obama Sahiba undercut healthcare for the poorest in Chicago's black community

Law professor and political scientist Dr Steve Diamond writes on the sahiba's cynical strategy:

This in depth investigation by the Washington Post of what Michelle Obama does to earn more than $300,000 working for the non-profit University of Chicago medical center deserves close attention.

It suggests that the concern the Obama campaign professes for the problems that continue to plague many in the black community rings false. In short, a central achievement of Ms. Obama over the last few years has been to run interference for the world class medical facility at the University's Hyde Park campus against the hundreds of thousands of poor black Chicagoans who surround the University's white enclave.

That people who have supported Barack Obama in the past, like lifelong civil rights activist, anti-war activist and single payer health care advocate Dr. Quentin Young (alleged by some to have been a friend of Obama mentor and former Chicagoan, Frank Marshall Davis) openly attack Ms. Obama for her role in this effort adds a level of credibility and should sound an alarm among all progressives. Young was one of those who attended the famous "meet and greet" debut of state senate candidate Barack Obama at the home of fellow Hyde Park residents Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn in late 1995.

Young called the Michelle Obama-led initiative at UC "shameful" and said that the level of charitable spending by the medical center is "ludicrous."

"They are arguably, if not defrauding, then at least taking advantage of a public subsidy. We would like to see them give more than the minimum. The need is there."

That the campaign had the nerve to celebrate Ms. Obama's work on "community health" during the Denver DNC suggest how deeply cynicism runs inside the Obama camp.

Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that Ms. Obama hired David Axelrod, the campaign manager for Senator Obama, to help her re-brand the University's program to steer blacks away from emergency room services at their medical center.

What a team.

Obama Camp Has Many Ties to Wife's Employer -

Monday, August 25

The rather odd BTC pipeline, Saakashvili's rather odd reversal on Georgia's opium trafficking, and Karzai's rather understandable position on poppies

"Pundita, dear, are you hinting at a mystery with your mention of death warrants for Russia and Karzai?

I don't think I'm up to another mystery investigation. If I remember it was six weeks of tracking clues about sick pigs and Chinese villagers before your readers landed in Shenzhen exclaiming "Elementary!"
Boris in Jackson Heights"

Dear Boris:
You mean what was left of my readership. By the fourth week on the topic of mystery pig illness, readers were dropping like flies. Yes indeed; loyal Pundita readers are a hardy breed. But look on the bright side. Our efforts helped stamp out what was threatening to become a global panic and escalation of Sino-US tensions.

In the present case I don't know whether there is a mystery. I have questions that I've not been able to answer to my satisfaction. It all started one dark and stormy night -- just checking to see if you're paying attention, Boris.

It all started when I read the Wikipedia article on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC). That was on August 11 after John McCain said in a speech:
[...] We have other important strategic interests at stake in Georgia, especially the continued flow of oil through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline [...]
I thought that was an odd remark because from what I'd heard about the BTC, the oil it carried was primarily intended for Europe.

The pipeline is owned by a consortium of energy companies led by BP (formerly British Petroleum), the operator of the pipeline. Here's the list of shareholders:

BP (United Kingdom): 30.1%
State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) (Azerbaijan): 25.00%
Chevron (USA): 8.90%
StatoilHydro (Norway): 8.71%
Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklığı (TPAO) (Turkey): 6.53%
Eni/Agip (Italy): 5.00%
Total (France): 5.0%
Itochu (Japan): 3.4%
Inpex (Japan): 2.50%
ConocoPhillips (USA): 2.50%
Hess Corporation (USA) 2.36%

So what we see is that U.S. companies together hold less than a 14% share in the BTC consortium and that Britain's BP, which is the world's third largest global energy company, holds the lion's share.

However, I haven't heard of any British troops in Georgia. Have you?

For that matter, I haven't heard that Japanese, Norwegian, Turkish, French, Italian or Azerbaijani troops are in the country; just U.S. Marines, about 1,000 them. This is not counting the 1,500 CIA operatives hanging out in Georgia.

There's some question about whether those Marines were still in country when the fighting broke out. They were probably involved in the war games in Georgia that started in July.

Yet I couldn't recall any other country having troops in Georgia since the pipeline project began; just American troops, over the years.

The pipeline doesn't seem to carry enough oil, little more than 1% of the world's supply, to make it an effective hedge against Iran blocking oil shipments or Russia turning off the oil spigot.

Even so, that would be all the more reason for European countries to be involved in training Georgian troops and putting in a military presence there. Yet it was only the USA in Georgia -- despite the USA holding only a minority shareholder interest in the BTC.

An explanation could be that the USA is just using the pipeline as an excuse to hang out in Georgia and provoke Russia. That would be par for the course.

Yet I kept returning to the words I blurted when I first read the Wikipedia article: "This is an oil pipeline version of the East India Company."

I couldn't figure out what caused me to say that. There are elements of the pipeline project that one might argue are neocolonialist. But the East India Company was a straight-out colonialist enterprise. The British Raj was raised up on the foundation of the British East India Company.

So finally I went back to the Wiki article and closely re-read it, then I started plowing through the footnoted articles that were available in English.

The more I read about the project and recalled the era in which it arose, the more it didn't stack for me.

I'll continue this in the next post. But just so you don't lose sleep worrying about Karzai, he may have bought himself more time if this report by Ramtanu Maitra is correct. He claims that Karzai strongly supports the Afghan-based poppy field anti-eradication lobby.

Maitra also has much to say about the Senlis Council and George Soros' great interest in legalizing opium, which I knew nothing about.

The biggest surprise for me was Maitra's mention of a report from a Soros-funded foundation that Eduard Shevardnadze "initiated harsh legal measures and public campaigns against drug users in the 1970s" and that:
[...] there were promising changes under President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has "announced the possibility of shifting the focus of drug policy away from the predominantly law enforcement orientation." [...]
That would be quite a shift. In 2002, Saakashvili sounded like a law-and-order kinda guy about narcotics trafficking:
A Q&A with Mikhail [sic] Saakashvili: 1/7/02

Mikhail Saakashvili has emerged as a leading reformer in Georgia. In September 2001, Saakashvili resigned as justice minister in protest of the reluctance of President Eduard Shevardnadze's administration to implement anti-corruption measures. In October, he won a seat in the Georgian parliament in a special by-election, and since then has sought to strengthen his power base. Some observers now consider him a possible candidate to succeed Shevardnadze as Georgia's president. Saakashvili recently discussed Georgian politics with Jeffry K. Silverman, a Tbilisi-based journalist. Saakashvili expressed concern that narcotics trafficking in Georgia was developing into a serious problem. His comments follow:


Soon there will have to be some pressure applied from the West for Georgia to follow the correct path: the level of organized crime in the country is increasing with money laundering and a booming drug trade. There is a chance that the West might not react soon enough in addressing this problem. Something needs to be done before it gets out of hand.


Silverman: Can you comment on Georgia's role in drug trafficking?

Saakashvili: The source of the drugs starts out in Afghanistan, mostly in the region that the Northern Alliance controlled prior to the war with the Taliban. The US and their allies may not want to hear this, but we expect this business to increase in Georgia with the defeat of the Taliban forces. It was the Uzbeks and Tajiks that had the export business under control with their connections with transit points such as Tashkent [Uzbekistan], Osh [Kyrgyzstan] and other Central Asian routes. Also, many of those responsible for enforcing the laws and international agreements to combat the drug trade are directly involved in making substantial money from keeping things as they were.

The current political and economic situation in Georgia is perfect for the drug business to develop without barriers. We have created an ideal situation for drug dealing in terms of territories that are out of control, and our strategically important location. We have immediate access to seaports and thus the shortest routes to the West. Right now the West is more involved with larger issues and drugs appears to be secondary. This is a mistake.

Silverman: Where do you get information about drug dealing? What are your sources? Can you back up your claims with sources?

Saakashvili: I have many sources but I can't name any of them directly. Human life means almost nothing in Georgia and especially in the Pankisi Gorge. If I would name a concrete person, then this person would be immediately be killed or, even worse, members of his family [would also be targeted]. [...]

Getting a little crowded in the Black Sea

NATO sends more ships into Black Sea
INSTANBUL/MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) - NATO has sent a Polish frigate and a U.S. destroyer through the Bosporus to boost its presence in the Black Sea, where it is delivering humanitarian cargoes to Georgia, a source in the Turkish navy said.

"Two more NATO ships passed through the strait and entered the Black Sea on Friday evening," the source told RIA Novosti.

The deputy head of Russia's General Staff said the Navy was aware that NATO was strengthening its presence in the sea.

"The situation in the Black Sea is escalating. NATO is continuing to build up its naval presence in the area," Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn told reporters Saturday.

A Navy officer said Friday that Russia would continue its operations to ensure the security of shipping to and from Georgia's separatist republic of Abkhazia.

"The Black Sea fleet continues to carry out its task of maritime traffic security patrols off the coast of Abkhazia," Captain Igor Dygalo said.

The ORP General Pulaski and the USS McFaul joined two ships from Germany and Spain that entered the sea earlier Friday.

The Turkish navy source expected the NATO presence in the Black Sea to grow to about seven vessels.

Nogovitsyn on Friday expressed doubts that NATO vessels needed to be in the Black Sea, and he promised that Russia would respond swiftly to any provocations against its Black Sea Fleet.

Tensions between NATO and Russia are high following the recent conflict over Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Sunday, August 24

Catching up with Marc Lemire

Marc sent word last night that the dates have been set for closing arguments in his constitutional challenge to Section 13:

September 15-17, starting at 9:30 AM.

At this point (one never knows with the Canadian Human Rights Commission) the hearing will be open to the public.

So if you'd like to attend to give Marc moral support and be a witness to important history in the never-ending battle for freedom of speech -- or if you would just love to see the CHRC "exposed as spies, thought police, hate posters and political censors," as Marc puts it with relish, here's the address for the hearing room:

Quality Hotel & Executive Suites
Northampton Room 754
Bronte Road
Oakville, Ontario

More information about the case will be released closer to the hearing. Watch Marc's FreedomSite for details.

Also, on August 10, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada ruled in Marc Lemire’s favor with regard to a Privacy Act complaint and chastised the Canadian Human Rights Commission for improperly withholding information. See here for the juicy details.

Steve Diamond reports on the Obama-Ayers Annenberg Mystery Tour

Reminder: Steve Diamond will be on John Batchelor's Sunday radio show again on the KFI-640 AM portion at 10:20 PM Eastern time. The KFI portion can be heard online at this link. KFI and John's website also have podcasts of the show.
Law professor and political scientist Steve Diamond on the latest twists and turns in the saga. He also has some pointed questions:

Obama/Ayers Update: Annenberg Mystery Tour Continues

As I blogged Friday, a small victory for full public disclosure of key information about our presidential candidates has been achieved by the pressure of the blogosphere with a small hand from the MSM.

After oddly blocking access to a fully processed and publicly listed archive of records of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), a $160 million school reform effort led by, among others, Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, from 1995 until the end of 2001, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has now agreed to once again allow public access to the records of the CAC.

But a careful review of the press release issued by UIC announcing the reversal of the shutdown leaves several important questions unanswered:

1) Were any of the materials tampered with or changed in any way after the University was contacted by Dr. Stanley Kurtz, a writer for the National Review, who was the individual whose request to review the CAC documents triggered the UIC shutdown?

The press release issued by UIC says the CAC records were in a "secure location" pending resolution of the questions surrounding the University's rights to possess the documents. But the University only concludes that its rights to the material have been established, it does not say that there have been no alterations to the document collection.

Earlier there were public statements that the University did not have valid ownership of the documents and thus was in touch with the donor of the materials. Since that would lead to a renegotiation of the gift it would conceivably allow the donor to revise the contents of the collection. I do not believe that the University should have contacted the donor at all as I explain below.

2) Who "called into question" the right of the University to "grant public access" to the records?

The CAC records were processed and available for review at the UIC Special Collections Library, as Dr. Kurtz notes in his review of the CAC shutdown on NRO.

The Library even provided him with a "finding aid," a type of outline of the documents that helps researchers identify which documents they need to review. Given that there are 70 linear feet of CAC material at UIC this is clearly essential.

However, finding aids are NOT prepared for material for which the University (actually this is true for almost all Universities) feels it may not have ownership rights.

An earlier statement by a UIC spokesperson stated that UIC contacted the donor of the CAC records and that it was then discovered that an "ownership agreement" had not been prepared for the CAC records. This is most likely not accurate. No such agreement is likely in this situation. A gift of corporate records, such as those of the CAC, is valid without a written instrument.

Universities, including the University of Illinois do typically negotiate a "deed of gift" to accompany a gift so that the University is protected against future claims to the gifted material.

A "deed of gift" is not the same as a valid gift of documents to a University. It is an additional agreement by the donor of the documents to grant the University certain rights to use the material.

Universities want deeds of gift in order to protect their intellectual property rights to the archive. In other words, the University would have very likely validly possessed the documents even without a deed of gift and should not have denied Dr. Kurtz access to them.

But if there was no deed of gift it is unheard of for a university to:

1. invest the time and effort to process an archive and

2. prepare a finding aid and then place the documents in one of their libraries and then

3. place a description of the archive online and then

4. tell a researcher who inquires that the archive is ready for review!

But more fundamentally there would be no reason for anyone in the Special Collections Library to even question the validity of the gift of the CAC documents!

And a donor would never be allowed to know who or when someone is asking to review a validly granted gift of documents. That violates the confidentiality of library users. It reminds me of the concerns that civil libertarians have properly raised about the Patriot Act.

That leaves only one possible conclusion: Someone inside the UIC Library clearly was concerned that a critic of Barack Obama might be attempting to examine these public records. That led to an unprecedented and, in my view, highly inappropriate notice to the donor of the CAC documents that a potential political critic of Obama was interested in the documents.

Thus, the University should explain clearly who "called into question" its ownership of the CAC records.

3) The possible involvement of Bill Ayers remains unclear.

Bill Ayers, the former terrorist leader of the Weather Underground, is now a prominent member of the UIC faculty in their College of Education. He was the founder of the CAC and helped pick Barack Obama as the CAC Board Chair in 1995.

Bill Ayers co-chaired the key operational arm of the CAC, the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, which he had helped organize in 1994 when preparing the original application for the $49.2 mn Annenberg Challenge grant. The CAC's offices were actually originally set up, rent free, in the same building as the College of Education of the UIC, where Ayers has long taught.

Legally, the CAC records were the possession of the CAC until it dissolved in January 2002. The press release of UIC says the records came to UIC then. That means it is most likely the case that the CAC itself was the donor. While earlier reports indicated that UIC had contacted the donor, that would appear to be impossible since the CAC no longer exists! And the latest press release makes no mention of a donor.

That obviously raises the question - who has the UIC Library been talking to about the gift outside of the UIC Library?

If someone inside UIC raised an alarm about an Obama critic on its turf, who did they alert?

It is at least reasonable to fear they spoke to Bill Ayers, a prominent and likely powerful member of the UIC faculty. It is reasonable to assume, for example, that the decision to house the CAC documents at UIC in the first place was made upon the recommendation of Ayers.

After all, the CAC also had a research arm that contracted with the University of Chicago to examine the impact of the CAC on student achievement. It is conceivable that the records could have been housed at the University of Chicago's internationally respected libraries. (Perhaps the fact that the assessment of the CAC revealed the CAC to have been a failure had something to do with that decision.)

Of course, Ayers is a close political ally of Barack Obama and it would have been highly inappropriate of the UIC Library to warn him of the entry of an Obama critic onto UIC turf only to allow him and the Library to invent an excuse - the allegedly missing but legally unnecessary "deed of gift" - to prevent access to the validly possessed CAC records.

Without a full explanation of the role of Ayers in this series of events, it is unlikely that the public will feel reassured that the CAC documents have not been tampered with.

4) The role of the Chicago Public Education Fund led by Susan Crown and Penny Pritzker, among others, should be explained.

A final possible explanation of the mystery donor is that the legal successor to the CAC, the Chicago Public Education Fund, was contacted, again inappropriately, as the donor. If that was the case then it raises a concern about the potential role of Penny Pritzker, who serves on the board of the CPEF. Pritzker is the Finance Chair of the Obama campaign.

In sum, the CAC records at UIC were more than likely in the valid possession of UIC when Dr. Kurtz asked to review them. No alarm bell should have been set off and he should have been allowed to review them freely and without hindrance. The University has now increased public uncertainty by refusing to disclose all of the relevant facts that surround this controversy. Until they do so, doubts will remain over whether the CAC collection is complete.

Dr. Kurtz has now announced that he will be in Chicago on Tuesday when he has an appointment to begin a review of the CAC records. It will certainly be interesting to hear what he finds. My earlier review and analysis of CAC records provided me by Brown University, including board minutes, annual reports and financial records indicate several important conclusions:

1) Bill Ayers and Barack Obama played key leadership roles in the CAC. This calls into question the contention by Obama that Ayers was "just a guy who lives in [my] neighborhood."

2) The CAC handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Small Schools Workshop founded by Bill Ayers and then run by Mike Klonsky, former SDS comrade of Bill Ayers who founded a Maoist sect in the 1970s.

3) The CAC gave the Developing Communities Project (DCP), once headed by Barack Obama grants to pursue its educational reform agenda.

4) The CAC invested millions of dollars in supporting a controversial and troubled "community control" school governance system known as Local School Councils set up in 1988 in Chicago when both Ayers and Obama's DCP were part of a coalition that backed the reform.

A recent research report to the Ford Foundation on the CAC notes that the CAC was often in conflict with Mayor Daley as he tried to both wrest control of the CAC grant and as he attempted, successfully, to recentralize power in the schools away from the Local School Councils backed by Obama and Ayers. Today, Mayor Daley praises Ayers but in the heat of battle I am sure he had other views of the former Weather Underground leader who once brought havoc to the city's streets.

UIC News Release

Saturday, August 23

Hamid Karzai signs his death warrant

July 2008
[...] There is yet another "meeting of minds" between MI6 and the ISI in recent days: their mutual hatred of Afghan President Karzai. The ISI rejected Karzai out of hand because the Afghan President is close to India, and even Russia—but cool toward Pakistan. So, the ISI feels it necessary to replace Karzai with someone who will be pro-Pakistan and anti-India.

Nor does MI6 like Karzai, and has joined with the ISI to remove him, because he is controlled from Washington, and has become openly anti-British: Last December, when Karzai learned that two British MI6 agents were working under cover of the United Nations and the European Union, and behind his back, to finance and negotiate with the Taliban, he expelled them from Afghanistan. One of them, a Briton, Michael Semple, was working as the acting head of the EU mission in Afghanistan, and is widely known as a close confidant of Britain's ambassador, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles. The second, an Irishman, Mervin Patterson, is the third-ranking UN official in Afghanistan.

These MI6 agents were entrusted by London with the task of using Britain's 7,700 troops in the opium-infested, Pushtun-dominated southern Afghanistan province of Helmand to train 2,000 Afghan militants, ostensibly to "infiltrate" the enemy and "seek intelligence" about the lethal arms of the real Taliban. Karzai rightly saw it as Britain's efforts to develop a lethal group within Afghanistan.

In addition, around the same time, Karzai was under pressure from Britain, the U.S., and the UN, to appoint Lord Paddy Ashdown, a British Liberal Democrat, as the UN Special Envoy to Afghanistan. Ashdown had left his "viceregal" mark while serving as the High Representative of the United Nations for Bosnia a few years ago.

Anticipating that Ashdown, true to his reputation in the Balkans, would function like a colonial viceroy under orders from London, Karzai summarily called off the appointment. This decision raised quite a few hackles in London, and elsewhere. [...]
--from The British Plan to Recolonize the [Indian] Subcontinent is Gaining Ground by Ramtanu Maitra

A word of advice or readers who roll their eyes when they note the publication venue for the above-mentioned article. Maitra has written for a number of publications in addition to EIR, including Asia Times and Indian Defence Review.

Russia signs its death warrant

"Indicating its heightened concern over the [Afghanistan] drug trade, Moscow dedicated one of its reconnaissance satellites to the issue."

February 26, 2008
Eurasia Daily Monitor

By John C. K. Daly

Alarmed by the rise of opium cultivation in Afghanistan, Russia’s Federal Drug Enforcement Service has opened a permanent office in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Federal Drug Enforcement Service Director Alexei Milovanov said of the move, “Russia advances cooperation and interaction with Afghanistan in the war on drug production and proliferation…As for the office in Kabul, our representative there will be in charge of efficient interaction between Russian and Afghani structures dealing with trafficking. With an emphasis, needless to say, on what channels lead to Russia. All of that will be carried out in close cooperation with our Central Asian colleagues.”

Milovanov also suggested that Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan establish border checkpoints and customs offices and make a joint effort to draw up an international agreement to track and confiscate drug trafficking profits (, February 20).

Russia’s interest in eradicating Afghanistan’s thriving drug trade is hardly academic. Not only did the Soviet Union suffer more than 20,000 fatalities and thousands more wounded while occupying Afghanistan in the 1980s, returning soldiers brought home a new problem from the war zone – drug addiction. The Afghan occupation and the ensuing years have left Russia with an estimated 4-6 million drug addicts. According to official figures, some 10,000 Russians die every year from drug overdoses and another 70,000 from drug-related health conditions (RFE/RL, January 9).

Concurrently with the Soviet occupation, Afghan opium production rose from 250 tons in 1982 to 2,000 tons in 1991. Production has now more than quadrupled, with no end in sight.

During a February 6 press conference in Kabul, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa discussed his office’s latest Afghanistan Opium Winter Survey. According to Costa, Afghanistan is now the biggest supplier of opium in the world. In 2007 it had more land growing drugs than Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru combined, producing 8,200 tons of opium, a 34% increase from 2006 (Agence France Presse, February 6). Even more unsettling, Costa noted that a 10% “tax” paid by most farmers in the Taliban-dominated south would generate close to $100 million for the insurgency.

There is no question that the drug trade has now become an integral element of the Afghan economy, with the estimated incomes of Afghan drug barons calculated at more than $3 billion, which, according to many estimates, comprises approximately 40% of Afghanistan’s official GDP (Kommersant, February 1).

Moscow began to notice a significant rise in drug seizures from Central Asia after Russian border guards ceded control of the Afghan–Tajik border to their Tajik counterparts in December 2004.

Indicating its heightened concern over the drug trade, Moscow dedicated one of its reconnaissance satellites to the issue. On April 20, 2006, Anatoly Safonov, presidential envoy for international anti-terrorist cooperation, told a press conference in Moscow that Russia would monitor poppy-growing areas in Afghanistan from space and share the data with the Afghan government under bilateral agreements, telling reporters, “Space control over Afghan areas under drug cultivation is one of the projects” (Interfax, April 20, 2006).

Russia also reached out for foreign assistance. Two years ago Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer concluded an agreement with NATO to undertake a joint project to train Afghan and other Central Asian anti-narcotics officers to counter the booming regional drug trade (Agence France Presse, April 28, 2006).

Russia’s involvement in attempting to stanch the drug trade has interested Kabul for several years; in May 2006 Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed to Russia to help convert opium fields to other crops (RBC, August 28, 2007).

One of Russia’s southern neighbors is reporting success in battling the drug trade. Turkey’s Security Directorate reported that in 2007 security forces carried out 10,128 drug operations throughout the country. Operations along the country’s eastern frontier, often as part of military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), forced smugglers to develop alternative routes traversing the Black Sea. The news was not good for Russia, however, as former Intelligence Office Chief Bulent Orakoglu pointed out that smugglers merely switched to using the Russia-Ukraine- Poland and Iran-Azerbaijan-Armenia-Georgia-Russia-Europe routes (Zaman, February 15).

Further complicating the international picture, the Afghan drug trade issue has now become fused with the Kremlin’s unhappiness over the West’s promotion of Kosova’s independence. On February 10 Russia’s state-controlled Channel 1 television aired an explosive report that claimed that Kosova “is a major link for drug trafficking” from Afghanistan to Europe, adding that there are “close links between the Kosova Albanians and the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

Further fanning the flames, the report quoted Geydar Dzhemal, chair of the Islamic Committee of Russia, who averred, “Without the control and connivance on the part of the special services none of these things are possible. For example in Afghanistan, the CIA and the special services are quite brazen. Under the protection of the American army they meet the necessary people. They collect the stuff, go to the Bagram airbase and they hand in a large consignment of narcotics, which is then taken away” (“Voskresnoe Vremya,” Channel 1 News, February 10).

While the issue undeniably deserves international attention, it is combating the drug trade. For the moment however, the common program remains vulnerable to divergent political agendas, which in the end only benefit the traffickers.

Well, there goes the Indian American and African American votes

[Joseph Biden] has a long history of making statements that get him in trouble. He was forced to apologize to Mr. Obama almost the moment he entered the race for president after he was quoted as describing Mr. Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” a remark that drew criticism for being racially insensitive.

While campaigning in New Hampshire, Mr. Biden said that “you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.”
Trust a New York Times reporter to drape gauze over any fact that suggests Barack Obama is an idiot. "Racially insensitive?" Uh, no, it's called "flagrantly displaying bigotry."

Why didn't Mr Obama just go the whole hog and pick Don Imus as his running mate? Or is he saving Imus for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations?

Strike up the band! MSM discovers the true Obama-Ayers relationship; university backs down and releases $160 million Annenberg Challenge records

Reminder: Steve Diamond will be on John Batchelor's Sunday radio show again on the KFI-640 AM portion at 10:20 PM Eastern time. The KFI portion can be heard online at this link. KFI and John's website also have podcasts of the show.
Law professor and political scientist Steve Diamond deserves many thanks for all the research and writing he's done on the William Ayers-Barack Obama issue and the CAC. Here are details of the good news, republished here from Steve's latest post at his Global Labor and Politics blog.

I note that he manages to work in a plug for Ralph Nader's run for President. Bless his heart; Steve's done such a great service to his fellow Americans by sounding the alarm about the true Obama-Ayers relationship, and Ayers's education theories, that I'd let him plug Donald Duck for President on this site if he wanted.

MSM Notices Obama-Ayers Issue and Ayers' University Frees $160 Million Annenberg Records

The MSM finally seems willing to shine a bright light onto the political alliance between Bill Ayers and Barack Obama that, for obvious reasons, the Obama campaign has been trying to keep in a dark closet.

Mentions of Global Labor and our work on the Ayers/Obama alliance this week in:

The New York Times (albeit only their oddly titled blog, The Opinionator).

And in Michael Barone's column in US News and World Report.

I think Barone makes the right point:

"...most American politicians would not have chosen to associate with a man with Ayers's past or of Ayers's beliefs. It's something voters might reasonably want to take into account."

My concern all along about this evolving story is that the relationship with Ayers tells us something important about Obama - he obviously saw Ayers as someone who could help him politically. Yet, Ayers' authoritarian politics are irrelevant to the problems Obama would face as President.

What can Ayers' celebration of the authoritarian government of Hugo Chavez tell Obama about how to respond to global poverty, inequality, or terrorism?

Indeed, that may explain why Obama is now jettisoning many of his mildly progressive concerns about U.S. foreign policy for a viewpoint remarkably close to the views of John McCain, who apparently thinks that a new Cold War with Russia is on the cards. His long association with a certain strand of "left" authoritarianism represented by people like Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn, another ex-Weather Underground terrorist, and Ayers' buddy the maoist Mike Klonsky leaves him completely unprepared to develop a genuinely progressive and independent path for U.S. foreign policy.

Of course, nature abhors a vacuum - politics, too. So as Obama attempts to (ever so politely) disentangle himself from his past authoritarian left associations he is grabbing on to mainstream Democratic Party policies that, particularly in foreign affairs, are hard to differentiate from the positions of John McCain.

Ralph Nader, at least, offers a starting point for a new progressive direction for America. Nothing in his past but heroic service to American consumers and workers for fifty years.

Voters should have the chance to sort this out for themselves. All the more reason, then, for Obama to explain his long time alliance with Ayers. Full disclosure of the material facts is at the heart of what I teach my business law students - it is the starting point for socially responsible corporations.

Should we demand any less of our politicians?

UPDATE: University of Illinois at Chicago appears to have done the right thing and liberated its holdings of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge's records. They will be available to the public and presumably will now be reviewed closely by the MSM. It's about time. In the meantime, go here and here to see the CAC records I was able to obtain several months ago and here for my analysis of those documents and what they say about the long standing relationship between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers.

Friday, August 22

Steve Diamond: The Obama Ayers Alliance: Inside the $160 Million Chicago Annenberg Challenge

Here is part five of law professor and political scientist Steve Diamond's investigative reports on documents associated with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Visit Steve's blog Global Labor and Politics for the earlier installments or scroll down this page to find them.

The Obama Ayers Alliance: Inside the $160 Million Chicago Annenberg Challenge

Here is a second group of records of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge ("CAC"), the education reform project founded by Bill Ayers and which he led with Barack Obama from 1995 until 2001. The Challenge spent some $160 million in the Chicago Public School system during that time period with the explicit goal of improving educational outcomes for students. The Challenge failed in that attempt.

These documents were provided to me by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University. They include the original grant application submitted by Bill Ayers and Anne Hallett to Brown which hosted the national Annenberg Challenge.

In addition these documents include the program reports and annual and semi-annual reports prepared on a regular basis by the Executive Director of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge Ken Rolling. Rolling had been recruited to head the CAC from a position at the Woods Fund where he had been active in support for the controversial 1988 reform of Chicago schools. Obama's Developing Communities Project received more than $27,000 from the Woods Fund during that period.

I have posted the documents in the precise form that they were provided to me. There are some missing pages. Within the annual reports are included financial statements and minutes of the Board of Directors, which was chaired by Obama.

My analysis of the history of the CAC can be found here. The key to understanding the CAC is its political context. The CAC was established to shore up support for the Local School Councils established in 1988. The LSCs were a new power center set up to watchdog teachers, principals and school administrators. While Ayers celebrates it as a form of battling "bureaucracies" and as a democratic reform, in fact it has disturbing authoritarian overtones and was the source of resistance by union teachers and professional administrators and was not actively supported by major black organizations like Operation Push.

One example of the political firestorm that the CAC helped fuel was its effort to spend millions of dollars through a Leadership Development Initiative to recruit and train candidates for the LSCs. This proposal from the CAC Collaborative, co-chaired by Bill Ayers, was sent to the Board of Directors, chaired by Barack Obama, where it ran into objections from Arnold Weber, former President of Northwestern University and a representative from the business community.

At about this same time, Mayor Daley was leading the charge to gut the entire LSC structure that Ayers, Obama, Mike Klonsky* and others had fought to create and build. The CAC was seen by Ayers as a way to protect and sustain the LSCs against the attempt to re-centralize power over the troubled schools in the hands of the Mayor.

Obama led the effort on behalf of the CAC board to reach an accomodation with the Ayers-led CAC Collaborative to shape the Leadership Development Initiative. After Obama's intervention, Weber's objections ceased (as far as I can tell from the records I have been provided) and the proposal went forward.

*Mike Klonsky was a former SDS comrade of Ayers and later helped found a maoist party in the United States, travelling to meet with Chinese leaders in 1977 for their endorsement of his effort here. Klonsky's Small Schools Workshop received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the CAC headed by Obama and Ayers.

The Documents