Teachers and students from schools of all levels are fanning across the state today as part of a nationwide "day of action" that originated with discussions at UC Berkeley. Here's a running account of the day's events:
SANTA CRUZ — About 150 to 200 students left the base of UC Santa Cruz and were headed to the Town Clock at 6:30 p.m., according to emergency radio traffic. The group was trying to decide what the next steps would be. The options being debated were taking the protest downtown tonight, occupying a campus building or continuing the strike on Friday.
SAN FRANCISCO — Shortly before nightfall, hundreds of protestors of all agesfilled San Francisco Civic Center for a noisy upbeat rally. A group of six San Jose State Unified School District classified workers joined the protest to make sure the voices of support staff were heard.
The decline of bus drivers, cafeteria workers, classroom aides and secretaries have created real hardship for children in poorer districts, said Robin Hill, a San Jose office technician.
Kids waiting longer in lunch lines often end up skipping their only meal of the day, she said, and families who lack insurance can no longer rely on medical care at school.
"We can't support the kids in the way we would like to," Hill said. "Paper, pens and pencils they are all lacking." A mother- daughter pair of teachers
Wendy Smithers, a third-grade teacher, and Aura Smithers, her daughter, who teaches seventh grade, said the coffin represents the death of teaching jobs, counselors and small class sizes.
"It's the death of the future success of our children," Aura Smithers. "I know it's a real tough economic time, but cutting education is just going to be more detrimental to our communities to our society and to our state as a whole, enough is enough." Cristina Ruotolo, associate professor of humanities at San Francisco State University, said she is teaching 75 students in classes that once had 55. The increase means less participation in classroom discussions and fewer graded assignments.
"Sometimes there aren't even enough chairs in the room," Ruotolo said.
At state universities, students fees have grown almost 50 percent higher since 2007, while 5,300 fewer core sections are being offered, according to the California Faculty Association. But with record numbers of applicants, this year, Ruotolo said, coming together on Thursday felt gratifying. "A lot of us used furlough days to be here," Ruotolo said.
One protester had to be taken to the hospital after falling from a tree, although the extent of injuries was unknown.
PITTSBURG — Educators from Pittsburg and Antioch school districts stood around busy corners in their respective cities to make afternoon commuters aware of the painful effects of the state budget on students.
Dozens wielded signs at the Pittsburg intersection of Loveridge and Leland, encouraging drivers to honk in support of education. Gloria Samuels, a second grade techer at Pittsburg's Stoneman Elementary, said she has to go to parents to ask for pencils and Kleenex and there are rations on how much paper she uses for lesson plans.
"It doesn't allow me to do my job," she said.
Hundreds stood in front of the entrance to Antioch's Deer Valley High along Lone Tree Way -- many wearing pink -- to garner support.
"We need to have our say and tell Sacramento enough's enough," said Sylvia Birdsell, principal at Antioch's Mission Elementary. She lamented that imminent teacher layoffs in Antioch would mean a lot of young teachers who graduated from the Antioch district and sought to give back to their community would be fired.
OAKLEY — Hundreds of parents, students, and school staff lined both sides of the street outside of Laurel Elementary School for half an hour this afternoon, drawing a near-constant stream of honking.
Some people held signs to represent the 10 pink-slipped employees in the Oakley Union Elementary School District.
"We're doing all we can, but there's not much more we can do than come together to show our support and raise our awareness," said Michelle Borland, whose mother teaches at the school.
Many of those present had never been to a protest before.
"I was nervous about coming here because I've never been to something like this, but I think it's very important," said pink-slipped teacher Nicole Anderson, who brought along her newborn baby.
Mayor Pat Anderson told the crowd to save their signs as they might be needed again soon, and joked that one day the town would be able to have a sign-burning party.
DISCOVERY BAY— Teachers and students wore pink to Discovery Bay Elementary School today. Outside the school, PTA members lined up 31 empty folding chairs bearing the names of the 31 pink-slipped employees in Byron Union School District.
A rotating group of PTA members stood outside the school for the entire day encouraging passers-by to honk and fill out form letters to Sacramento.
The protesters hoped to bring home the reality of school budget cuts to their small community.
"People read about it happening in places like Danville, but we want people to know it's happening here too," said PTA President Tina Duncan, who estimated that she has so far gathered 500 signed form letters.
Teachers and parents joined the PTA members before and after the school day. One mother thanked a pink-slipped teacher for teaching her child to read.
While some parents were reluctant to dress their sons in pink, the color added to the carnival atmosphere of the event.
"Everybody wears black everyday," parent Grace Milne said. "This is more of a statement." The moment school let out, a group of second graders raced out to the protest to take advantage of a rare opportunity to shout at passers-by at the top of their lungs.
SANTA CRUZ — Students at UC Santa Cruz held a day-long strike Thursday, shutting off access to campus at multiple points and rallying at the foot of the hill.
Angry over fee increases totaling 41 percent in the past year and half, upset that popular programs, such as languages and community studies have reduced class offerings, and concerned over the rights of hourly workers that feed and clean up after them, they began blocking intersections at 5 a.m., refusing to let most cars pass. The protests were part of a nationwide day of action for education that originated last fall at UC Berkeley.
Early on, people showed their frustration at not being given access to campus. A woman who said she was a Student Health Center worker cried as she explained at the corner of Western and High streets that there would be students who needed health care that day. She was denied, but a few minutes later, another health care worker was allowed to drive through.
Student Mollie Kraemer, a sociology major from Davis, said she didn't agree with blocking access to health-care workers but said, "it's a tricky situation and we're doing the best we can. That's one of the benefits and faults. A majority decides."
There were no major incidents on campus during the day, but one driver at Western and High street had his windshield smashed when he tried to turn from High Street to Western and would not roll his window down to talk to the student line. Jeff Duncan, a facilities employee at Baskin School of Engineering, said he'd given up on going to work that day, and was heading to town to get some breakfast.
OAKLAND — As many as 150 people have been arrested for blocking the freeway, Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason told KTVU TV. Protesters are lined up on the side of the freeway, waiting for officers to arrive and remove them. Thomason said it could take as long as an hour before the road is opened again.
OAKLAND — Police are arresting protesters who climbed onto the 880 freeway at 980.
Drivers are cautioned to use alternative routes while traffic is backed up in both directions because of protesters who refuse to move from the roadway. Traffic is backed up on northbound I-880 to 66th Avenue.
CONCORD — Seemingly against the odds, more than 300 Mt. Diablo High School students and parents marched off campus and around Todos Santos Plaza without any disruptions arising.
Parent Michelle Turner, who organized the peaceful demonstration, warned students when they walked out of class at 1:10 p.m,. that they must follow her directions and represent the school well, or they would defeat their purpose.
Students walked in rows of five down sidewalks carrying signs, while police looked on.
"They did a good job," School Resource Office Todd Stroud said. "There were no problems."
Even Vice Principal Absylom Sims, who told students to go back to class when they first walked out, said the protest went well.
Students said they participated in the march because they worried that classes such as art and music may be cut. Funding for sports has already been eliminated.
They also wanted to show the community they are about their education, they said.
"We've worked so hard to get this far," said Elisha Horton, 17. "If they take what little we have away, people will feel like there's no reason to come to school."
Turner said she hopes the community will take notice.
"This is the end of the march," she said, after students quietly returned to class about 2:35 p.m. "But it's the beginning of our fight."
It remains to be seen whether students and staff who participated in the demonstration will be disciplined. Students were told absences would not be excused, even if they had parent permission.
Nearly all the students who walked out had writtten permission slips or their parents had called the school to try to excuse their absences from the last two class periods of the day. Some teachers said they stayed in class because they feared they could be fired if they walked out in solidarity with students.
After school, another rally in Todos Santos Plaza was planned.
SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds of boisterous marchers paraded down a blocked off Mission Street in San Francisco late Thursday afternoon as they headed to the Civic Center for a 5 p.m. rally. Many chanted, "no cuts, no fees, education should be free."
Dominated by young people of all ages, the marchers carried signs like "Education not incarceration" and challenging elected leaders to "bail out schools not banks."
A pair of 10th graders from City Arts and Tech High School, a San Francisco charter school, complained of no text books, mixed grade classes and the cancellation of their tutoring center
Andrea Munoz, 16, said the protest march would capture the attention of th mayor and governor.
"If they notice there's a lot of students, they'll want to make a change."
OAKLAND — The crowd at Frank Ogawa Plaza is dispersing, with many protesters heading to another rally at the nearby State Buildings. Others are headed to a larger rally at San Francisco's Civic Center.
FREMONT — Some teachers leafleted parents before school and gathered after school at Fremont Boulevard and Mowry Avenue.
Schools in New Haven held disaster drills in the morning. After school, teachers headed to the San Francisco rally, where New Haven employee Tony Hampton was scheduled to perform with several Hayward teachers in the band "Angry Tired Teachers."
Newark teachers also rallied Wednesday at Cedar Boulevard and Mowry Avenue. Earlier this week, the Newark school board approved layoff notices for 61 teachers.
OAKLAND — Nearly 1,000 protesters who marched from UC Berkeley have arrived at Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland, converging with hundreds of demonstrators already gathered there.
Downtown traffic has been snarled by the influx. Police have blocked several blocks between 14th and 16th streets, as well as several BART entrances. The crowd has been peaceful.
DAVIS — Protesters from UC Davis are clashing with police, who have fired bean bags and tear gas in attempt to subdue a restless crowd, according to The California Aggie, the campus newspaper.
A crowd as large as 350 people met with a California Highway Patrol and UC police blockade at an Interstate 80 onramp. When the protesters locked arms and tried to push through the police line, officers fired pellets at the ground as a warning but resorted to using tear gas which dissipated the group, the newspaper reported. A few more protesters have continued to advance on the officers.
SAN FRANCISCO — Dozens of people gathered on the steps of San Francisco City Hall early this afternoon, including students form schools throughout the Bay Area, many of whom received class credit for participating.
The students said the governor needs to reorder his Priorities. Many complained of long waiting lists for classes, part-time faculuty who are inaccessible and every diminishing course offerings.
"It's going to make my five-year degree turn into 10," said Heather Knudson, an 18-year-old freshman at Cal State East Bay, attending her first protest with two other classmates. "Students should be the future."
Andrea Stariha, a 33-year-old nursing student at Canada College, drove up from Half Moon Bay with her mother and two daughters to protest the cuts to higher education. Stariha said her graduating plans are increasingly difficult, given that Friday classes have been cancelled and there are few full-time processors.
The severity of the situation for many students offered plenty of satircal materials for the Raging Grannies, a Peninsula-based guerrilla theater group who frequent public protests.
Dressed as "billionaires for fee hikes" in feather boas and pillbox hats, the troupe members chewed cigars, shouting out advice to students struggling with fee increases to "sell a kidney" or "go pump gas." They chanted "poor people get a clue, universities not for you."
A stage is being set up for a larger protest planned to start at 5 p.m.
OAKLAND — Hundreds of demonstrators have taken over Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland to rally against cuts to education budgets at every level, as they await the arrival of a crowd of several hundred more protesters marching from UC Berkeley.
Students from schools including Laney College, as well as Fremont High School in Oakland and Alameda High, are among those gathering at the plaza, which is now booming with amplified sound. Patrol cars flashing their lights and 16 motor officers were dispatched to keep the peace while news helicopters circled overhead.
Laney students kept the crowd warmed up, taking turns speaking and rapping about cuts that have mired school budgets statewide. Demonstrators at Laney staged a walkout around 11 a.m. but later cut short their own campus rally to join the activities downtown.
A Laney student took the microphone and encouraged the high schoolers taking part in the rally.
"When we saw you marching out across that lake, I was like, 'Damn. this is what a movement looks like," he said.
One of those in the crowd, Castlemont High School senior Alisha Logan, said the rally signified the kind of backing that students need during these tight fiscal times.
"I feel we all need financial aid because, besides the support of our family, we also need the support of our community," said Logan, 17.
Along the march path on Telegraph Avenue, about 20 elementary school students and a handful of parents stood at 42nd Street and basked in the car horns honking in response to their signs pleading that the state "Save our schools, let us be the future." At West MacArthur Boulevard, 150 elementary school students were closing in on the rally point at Frank Ogawa Plaza.
The marching crowd seems to be growing more colorful by the minute, evidenced by the bicycles interspersed through the crowd and eclectically painted motor home with a woman leaning out of a window playing the tambourine as chants of "Si se puede" begin to fill the air.
After the crowd crossed from Berkeley into Oakland, Berkeley police spokesman Officer Andrew Frankel announced that the nearly 1,000 mobile protesters left the city without prompting any arrests or causing any property damage.
SAN BRUNO — At Skyline College, about 200 students walked out of classes this morning and rallied in the quad.
They proceeded to march around campus and through school buildings, trying to galvanize other students to the cause.
"I feel all the answers — even to our economic crisis — will be resolved because of education," said student Tupou Taumoepeau, 35, who carried a sign saying "Stop Cuts, Cuts Suck."
Many students wore green armbands or buttons to show their support for school funding.
The color "symbolizes the money we need," said student Floyd Pitts, 19.
BERKELEY — Several hundred protesters at UC Berkeley have started a five-mile march to downtown Oakland, while hundreds more have already gathered and await their arrival.
The crowd of several hundred is boisterous but not rowdy and the protest has been peaceful so far as it treks through the city of Berkeley. Telegraph Avenue has been blocked to traffic, and police are stationed along the route, as well as on nearby streets.
Berkeley police spokesman Officer Andrew Frankel said jokingly that the Cal jazz band has been louder than the marchers.
"It's been the peaceful protest we have been hoping for," Frankel said.
Third-year UC Berkeley student Tyler Eckert, watching the protest, said he supports the students' cause, but was upset protesters disrupted his classes today. The disruptions are a bad strategy, he said.
The amble crowd is marching to Frank Ogawa Plaza, which houses Oakland City Hall. They will meet several hundred protesters who have descended on the plaza. Students from schools including Laney College, as well as Fremont High School in Oakland and Alameda High, are among those gathering at the plaza.
UC President Mark Yudof, whose office is in Oakland, released the following statement about the demonstrations being held today:
"My heart and my support are with everybody and anybody who wants to stand up for public education. I salute those who are making themselves heard today in a peaceful manner on behalf of a great cause.
Our public institutions, from kindergarten to the doctoral level, have shaped our nation's course and are an essential piece of the American fabric. Here at UC, through the Master Plan for Higher Education, we have created a model emulated throughout the world. It's time that model started receiving the support it deserves in the place of its birth.
As my predecessor Clark Kerr often said, higher education should never be regarded as a cost, but rather as an investment. The university is an investment, not only in an individual's well being, but also in the public good. Public education drives a society's ability to progress and to prosper. This state's great public universities hold the key to our economic and social growth and are deserving of support by all Californians."
CONCORD — Many students at Mt. Diablo High School have said they planned to walk out of class at 1:05 p.m. today after a lunchtime rally. But Superintendent Steven Lawrence said he instructed principals not to allow students to leave campuses.
The teachers' union also informed district educators they should tell students not to leave class, he said.
"If they walk out, it will be considered defiance and the administrators will deal with that," Lawrence said. "This is supposed to be a regular school day."
Lawrence said students and parents are encouraged to participate in rallies after school.
CONCORD — All schools in the Mt. Diablo district conducted disaster drills at 8:30 a.m. to show the disastrous effects budget cuts are having on students.
Parents and teachers at Walnut Acres Elementary in Walnut Creek wrapped caution tape around the school and posted signs that said: "Caution, our education is in danger," said Faye Mettler, president of the school's parent faculty club. Many of them also plan to congregate at the intersection of Ygnacio Valley and Oak Grove roads after school to draw attention to the plight of schools, she said.
Increasing class sizes from 20 to 31 students in first through third grades has hurt children's ability to learn, Mettler said.
"It's a huge impact," she said, "because now you're dealing with 11 more bodies and it's almost like you've gone from teaching a class to crowd control in some ways."
At El Dorado Middle School in Concord, students filed outside onto the field during the drill. Special education teacher Denise Hood said she was laid-off last spring, then rehired in August when another teacher left. Now, she may face another layoff, as the school board considers major cuts that could include the elimination of 37 special education teachers.
Para-educator Barbara Clary and parent Steve Older held signs outside the middle school, drawing attention to budget cuts. Clary, who is an instructional assistant in the school's algebra classes, said she may also face a layoff, although she has worked in the district 10 years.
"What's really sad is they're taking away staff and increasing class sizes," she said. "It's unsafe. No Child Left Behind is silly to me. It seems they've left them all behind."
Older, whose daughter plays clarinet in the school band, said he's disappointed the district is eliminating elementary music instruction next year. For his daughter, he said "having music has just been a real blessing."
Across the street at Concord High School, students waving signs lined Concord Boulevard, as passing cars honked their support. Students returned to class after the drill evacuation because Principal Gary McAdam did not want them to miss their regular school time.
Like all secondary principals in the district, McAdam has been asked to help trim $1 million from next year's budget. Not wanting to completely decimate programs, he has decided to slice one section from several electives including drama, auto shop, photography, ceramics and bowling. German and zoology will be completely eliminated.
McAdam and many students and teachers wore black to symbolize the death of education, he said, describing the situation as "bleak." The cuts will affect about a dozen teachers at the school, resulting in decreased salaries, he said.
"When you make cuts, you either destroy a program," he said. "Or you cut 'em off at the knees or the ankles."
Several seniors said they are upset by the district's decision to eliminate funding for after-school sports and to get rid of electives. Holding out signs for motorists to see gave them a voice in decisions that are affecting them, they said.
"We stood up for ourselves and let people know that we don't agree with the budget cuts," said Gordon Ruiz, who plays on the school's football team. "And it was important that it was all the schools in Calfornia. We were making a stand."
When McAdam learned that California did not succeed in winning federal Race to the Top funds, he said he was not surprised.
"I've been in this business 35 years and I've never seen it like this," he said. "And there is no indication that things are going to get better."
PLEASANT HILL — Strandwood Elementary students walked from the campus toward City Hall along Gregory Lane this morning to attract the attention of passing motorists.
"It was pretty powerful to look at all the kids going down the street and of course, to hear all the beeping of horns," said parent May Hanecak. "The kids were counting how many people beeped. There were 262 beeps. So, it was pretty cool for them to be a part of it."
Because the school did not want to take time away from the curriculum, they counted the walk towards PE time, Hanecak said. They were motivated to go on the walk to raise awareness about education and how much it is being cut.
"It was also showing all the children that this is a civic privilege that they have," Hanacek said.
She and other parents are concerned about increased class sizes, which are forcing teachers to revamp their curriculum.
"Fortunately, for us, we have a lot of parent volunteers," she said. "But not all schools have that kind of community support. And even with the support, we're feeling it."
BERKELEY — A group of 40 protesters, armed with a bullhorn and banners, interrupted a physics class taught by Richard Muller after they got word he discouraged his students from taking part in demonstrations.
They got into a brief argument with the professor, a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship — known better as the Genius Award — and left. Before that, though, Muller gave the course crashers some parting shots.
"I encourage you to use this day to get an education," Muller said. "I object to violence and this is violence. Now it's time for you to leave. You've made your point, now please leave."
BERKELEY — An on-campus demonstration has swelled to more than 100 and has led to some minor skirmishes between protesters and students trying to get to class.
The demonstrators have blocked Sather Gate, a main access point, and have been encouraging their passing peers to join their efforts, calling for a student strike.
"Don't go to class. Join our protest," one demonstrator was heard saying.
Students trying to walk through the picket have been met with physical resistance, which has resulted in some tussles.
UC SANTA CRUZ — Provost David Kliger issued a statement after protesters staged violent demonstrations. UCSC officials, via their Web site, had earlier warned everyone, including employees, not to come to campus because of potential safety concerns.
"Earlier this morning, protest activity at both campus entrances rendered our main campus inaccessible to vehicle traffic. Reports of protesters carrying clubs and knives, smashing a car windshield with a metal pipe, denying a resident of faculty/student housing the right to exit the campus, and keeping a campus health care worker from getting to work, escalated this morning's protest into behavior that is disruptive, intimidating and destructive.
Behavior that degrades into violence, personal intimidation, and disrespect for the rights of others is reprehensible, and does nothing to aid efforts to restore funding to the university.
These actions should cease. University police, Student Affairs staff, and others are doing their best to manage this situation. In the meantime, we commend members of our community for their patience.
Please continue to check the campus Web site, http://www.ucsc.edu/news_events/protest/03-10/ for updates."
OAKLAND — Hundreds of students from Allendale Elementary School in East Oakland are marching along 35th Avenue and have pooled together at the Interstate 580 overpass.
The students made the half-mile trek to the overpass, where they are garnering the attention of passersby and freeway motorists.
BERKELEY — About 80 students are blocking Sather Gate on campus, holding signs bearing slogans including "Instruction not Construction," "Spanish students for public education," and "Reclaim our university."
A Japanese student brought to the rally six Japanese students who traveled from Japan representing the All-Japan Federation of Student Self Government Associations.
CONCORD — Dozens of parents, teachers and students showed up outside Monte Gardens Elementary in Concord this morning to hear a representative of the California Teachers' Association, local legislators and other officials speak about the importance of education in California. Cuts leave California schools with $2,000 less per student than those in other states, they said.
State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and Senator Mark DeSaulnier both said they have voted against cuts to education. Emergency legislation being pushed forward today in Sacramento could threaten another $800 million in funding for K-12 education, DeSaulnier said.
"Public education is the priority," he said. "We have horrible choices. But in these tough times, you've got to protect the kids, because if we're ever going to get out of this, we've got to have a well-educated workforce."
Steven Lawrence, Superintendent of the Mt. Diablo school district, said schools will conduct emergency drills at 8:30 a.m. to demonstrate the disastrous effects budget cuts are having on education. He said principals informed parents through automated phone messages last night that students were encouraged to participate in before- and after-school activities, but were expected to stay in class during the day. The teachers' union has also stressed to educators that students are not supposed to leave school. Some students had said they planned to walk out after lunch.
Estelle Portugal, the mother of a 7-year-old second-grader at Monte Gardens, said she showed up at the early morning rally because she has seen how much harder it is for her child to receive individualized attention in a class that has swollen from 20 to 33 students.
"We need more teachers so the kids can get a better education," she said.
SANTA CRUZ — Students have blocked both entrances to the UC Santa Cruz campus and began marching near the base of campus as the March 4 Day of Action began.
Western Drive is blocked as dozens of students have lined the road stopping traffic. At Western and High drivers and students interact as drivers make their plea to gain access through their neighborhood and onto campus. Those wishing access and onto campus are mostly denied including a sobbing health care worker, though those who say they live in Bonny Doon are allowed through. A contractor at the UCSC arboretum was denied access, which resulted in a strong exchange of words. He vowed to never hire any of the students again. He parked his vehicle and walked onto campus.
When asked why they didn't let the health care worker through Mollie Kraemer, a student from Davis, said "well it's tricky situation and we're doing the best we can. One of the benefits and the faults is the majority decides."
At 7:40 a.m. a Volvo sedan driver on High Street got into an altercation with students. A student jumped on the hood of the car while another smashed the rear window of the sedan as two UCSC police officers stood nearby. No one was detained though the driver pulled over and was talking to the officer. He was attempting to drive through the line to go downhill from High Street onto Western.
Jeff Duncan of Felton, who works for the facilities department at the Baskins School of Engineering, said he had given up on getting into campus and was trying to get out of the area. The students surrounded his car and when he wouldn't roll down his window, they started battering his car and broke his back window.
"It's kind of ridiculous. I totally sympathize with their cause and I wasn't trying to get onto campus," Duncan said.
UCSC police declined to comment on the incident, but said there have been few skirmishes.
DUBLIN — About 75 parents, students, teachers and administrations gathered outside Dublin High School. Cars honked in support of protesters, who carried signs with messages such as "Cuts hurt" and "More work, less pay."
"We are beyond bare bones right now. This is unconscionable," said Dublin Superintendent Steve Hanke, referring to the more than $10 million in cuts the district has had to make during the past two years.
Dublin Unified faces another $7 million in cuts over the next two years.
CONCORD — Numerous schools have pushed up their regular spring fire and disaster drills and will instead stage them today in what demonstrators hope will signify the "disastrous" cuts facing public education in the state. Schools in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District are staging a district-wide drill about 8:30 a.m.
Staff writers Linh Tat, Matt Krupnick, Hannah Dreier, Katy Murphy, Kristin Bender, Doug Oakley, Megha Satyanarayana, Theresa Harrington, Chris Metinko, Jeanine Benca, Paul Burgarino, Neil Gonzales, Megha Satyanarayana, Lisa Fernandez, Lisa Krieger, Karen de Sa, Shaun Bishop, Alia Wilson, Jeanine Benca, Roman Gokhman and Robert Salonga contributed to this report.