Friday, May 05, 2006



[Please read, respond and forward]
Action Alert: Release Sameeh Hammoudeh!
For Immediate Release
May 9, 2006

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return
Coalition, calls on its members,
supporters and all people of conscience
to demand the immediate release of
Sameeh Hammoudeh who is being held
prisoner at the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) detention center in
Bradenton, Florida. On 6 December
2005, a jury found Sameeh, a co-
defendant in the Al-Arian case, not guilty
of all charges brought against him
by the US government. Yet, as of this
date, he is still being held prisoner by the ICE.

Sameeh has also accepted and wishes
to be deported to Ramallah, his hometown
in occupied Palestine. The ICE
maintains that his detention is due to
refusal to permit his return to
Ramallah, a claim which, according to the
St. Petersburg Times, has been
denied by the Israeli authorities.

Since there is no legal basis for
the continued detention of Sameeh
Hammoudeh, Al-Awda, The Palestine
Right to Return Coalition, is asking all
of its members, supporters and people
of conscience to write to Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales, Attorney
General of the State of Florida Charlie
Crist and Florida Governor Jeb Bush
demanding Sameeh Hammoudeh's immediate
release and his return home.

We also urge publicizing Sameeh's
imprisonment by writing op-eds and letters
to the media highlighting the injustice
he has been subjected to.

Talking Points:

* On 6 December 2005 a jury found
Sameeh Hammoudeh not guilty of all
charges brought against him.
Hence, there is no legal basis for
keeping him imprisoned by the
Immigration and Customs
Enforcement Service. He should
be released forthwith.

* Sameeh Hammoudeh wishes to
return to his home in Ramallah, Palestine. By
holding him prisoner, the ICE is
preventing him from exercising his
inalienable, natural and legal right
to return to his home.


* Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales
PHONE: 202-514-2001 and 202-353-1555
MAIL: U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

* Florida Governor Jeb Bush

* Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist
The Capitol PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050
Main office telephone numbers
Switchboard: 850-414-3300
Citizens Services: 850-414-3990
Florida Relay/TDD: 800-955-8771
Florida Toll Free: 1-866-966-7226
Fax: 850-410-1630

To obtain contact information for media outlets, go to:

Please cc your correspondence to

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013, USA
Tel: 760-685-3243
Fax: 360-933-3568

Memo to: All those who have the power
to free Sameeh Hammoudeh

From: Bonnie Weinstein
Bay Area United Against War
P.O. Box 318021
San Francisco, CA 94131-8021

The facts that demand the immediate release of Sameeh Hammoudeh:

-On 6 December 2005 a jury found Sameeh Hammoudeh not
guilty of all charges brought against him. Hence, there is no legal
basis for keeping him imprisoned by the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement Service. He should be released forthwith.

-Sameeh Hammoudeh wishes to return to his home in Ramallah,
Palestine. By holding him prisoner, the ICE is preventing him from
exercising his inalienable, natural and legal right to return to his home.

Dear all:

When someone is found "not guilty of all charges," that means
that the state no longer has the right to hold him or her.
The U.S. Constitution says that all are created equal.

If this is the case--that all people are created equal--then why
have you kept Sameeh Hammoudeh locked up? Is he not a person?
By holding Sameeh Hammoudeh, even after he has been found
"not guilty" you are flagrantly violating the U.S. Constitution!

Hi is innocent yet you hold him prisoner because he is not
a citizen--yet you refuse to let him return to his homeland?
What kind of justice is this?

The operative point is that Sameeh Hammoudeh is NOT GUILTY
of ANY crime! The whole world is watching what you do! You
are clearly guilty of violating the human law against unlawful
imprisonment. Release him immediately!


Bonnie Weinstein


Forwarded Message ----
From: R. T. Paul
Sent: Tuesday, May 9, 2006 10:19:50 AM
Subject: It happened in my kindergarten class

George Bush goes to a primary school to talk to the kids to get a
little PR. After his talk he offers question time. One little boy puts
up his hand and George asks him his name.

"Stanley," responds the little boy.

"And what is your question, Stanley?"

"I have 4 questions: First, why did the USA invade Iraq without the
support of the UN? Second, why are you President when Al Gore got more
votes? Third, whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden?" Fourth, why are we
so worried about gay-marriage when 1/2 of all Americans don't have
health insurance?

Just then, the bell rings for recess. George Bush informs the kiddies
that they will continue after recess.

When they resume George says, "OK, where were we? Oh, that's right:
question time. Who has a question?"

Another little boy puts up his hand. George points him out and asks him
his name.

"Steve," he responds.

"And what is your question, Steve?"

"Actually, I have 6 questions. First, why did the USA invade Iraq
without the support of the UN? Second, why are you President when Al
Gore got more votes? Third, whatever happened to Osama Bin Laden?
Fourth, why are we so worried about gay marriage when 1/2 of all
Americans don't have health insurance? Fifth, why did the recess bell go
off 20 minutes early? And sixth, what the hell happened to Stanley?"


(I didn't know who she was. Now I do...BW)


Exploitation, Betrayal & Triumph in the Workplace
by Helena Wojtczak




Jorge Martin, International Secretary of the Hands Off Venezuela
Campaign, to speak in San Francisco
7:00 PM, Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Center for Political Education,
522 Valencia, third floor,
close to 16th Street BART Station, San Francisco
(not wheelchair accessible).
Donation: $5/$3 students, seniors, unemployed

Jorge Martin is at the forefront of the international solidarity campaign
in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution. He has been actively involved
in the revolutionary process in Venezuela and is well known for his
analysis of the situation. Jorge has participated in many conferences
and meetings on workers control in Venezuela and has participated
directly in the movement of factory occupations.

He will speak on the current situation in Venezuela combined with
the advances made by the student and union movements. He has
recently returned from Venezuela and this will be his only
appearance on the West Coast. We strongly encourage everyone
interested in the positive developments in Venezuela to attend.
There will be plenty of time for questions and answers.

For more information please contact us by email or call 415-786-1680.


An Anti-War Benefit Evening of Theater,
Conscience, and Thought with Not in Our Name

Thursday, May 11, 2006
7:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Grand Lake Theater
3200 Grand Ave., Oakland
Tickets: $9 adv. / $10 door

Advance tickets, posters/graphics, and more:


Dedicated to the production of theatrical works exploring
the Middle Eastern culture and identity. Golden Thread
Productions will stage "Sniper" by Egyptian-born playwright
Yussef El Guindi.

Our evening's emcee Andrea Lewis is the co-host and
producer of KPFA's "Morning Show"

Dr. Wasfi spent her early childhood in Iraq during the
70's. Currently of Denver, Colorado, she recently returned
from Iraq in March following her most recent visit.

Beth Pyles of Fairmont, West Virginia recently returned
from her second assignment with Christian Peacemaker
Teams in Iraq on March 21, 2006.

San Diego-based sailor turned war resister Pablo Paredes
is a member of Iraq Vets Against the War. He recently led
the 241 mile "March for Peace" from Tijuana, Mexico that
reached San Francisco on March 27, 2006.

A benefit for Not in Our Name Bay Area - an Oakland-based
grassroots project dedicated to opposing endless war,
attacks on immigrants, and assaults on our civil liberties.

Special thanks to: Allen Michaan and the historic Grand Lake Theater *
International Solidarity Movement * American Muslim Voice * Bay Area
United Against War * Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors *
CODEPINK *Courage to Resist * Global Exchange * International Socialist
Organization *Middle East Children's Alliance * Radical Women and
the Freedom Socialist Party * World Can't Wait!

For more info, call 1-800-95-NOWAR x710, or


Life or Death for Mumia?

On Thursday May 11th there will be a
Public Forum sponsored by the
Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
at the Socialist Action Bookstore located
at 298 Valencia Street (Valencia
and 14th Sts.) at 7:30 PM

Speakers will include Pam Africa, Coordinator
of the International Concerned
Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Michael Schifferman, Founder of Germany's
Mumia Abu-Jamal solidarity
movement. Michael's Ph.D. thesis on
the case is one of the most exhaustive
studies yet undertaken, it is the basis
of his forthcoming book on the case.

Robert R. Bryan, lead counsel for Mumia's
Habeus Appeal, will give an
up-to-the-minute report reviewing
the State of Pennsylvania's recently filed
brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals

Also speaking will be Jeff Mackler and
Laura Herrera, Co-coordinators of the
Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal


For immediate release: May 5, 2006

California Independent Systems Operator and PG&E Confirm Dirty
and Outdated Plant is No Longer Operating!

Bayview Hunters Point Residents and Greenaction Celebrate Victory
in Long Struggle for Clean Air and Environmental Justice

Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco

San Francisco, CA – The long fight by Bayview Hunters Point residents,
Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice and allies to close
the dirty, outdated and unnecessary PG&E Hunters Point power
plant is over, as state and PG&E officials have confirmed the plant has
stopped generating electricity. Residents have also confirmed
that the stacks that emitted unacceptable levels of pollution
for decades are now quiet and are not in operation.

Julie Gill of the California Independent Systems Operator, the
state agency in charge of the power grid, and Robert Harris,
PG&E Vice President for Environmental Affairs, have both
confirmed to Greenaction that the plant is no longer generating
electricity. The plant will officially close when the “Reliability
Must Run” contract is terminated by the Cal ISO on May 15th.
As one of California’s dirtiest and oldest power plants, it had
polluted the community for over 77 years.

“This is a great victory for Bayview Hunters Point, for our children
and community,” said Tessie Ester, representative of the
Huntersview Mothers Committee and resident of Huntersview
public housing located across the street from the PG&E power
plant. “Our children have suffered for too long with asthma
and pollution, but today we celebrate cleaner air and our
victory for health and justice.”

The closure and victory come after years of protests, including
nonviolent direct actions at the plant.

“Although we will be celebrating this great victory for environmental
justice, we must now begin new fights against other polluting
industries in our community, and we must also encourage
industry and government to support clean, renewable energy,
not polluting fossil fuel power plants” said Marie Harrison,
community organizer for Greenaction. “We must also oppose
the so-called redevelopment plan that could result in evicting
the low-income people of color residents of our community
who have a right to remain here and enjoy clean air and
a healthy environment.”


Code Pink Mother's Day Vigil May 13-14, in Washington DC

Mother's Day is often seen as if through a soft-focus lens --
a sentimental day of cards and flowers and frills. It has a
surprisingly radical history, however. Just as International
Women’s Day, March 8, started as a day for women to rise
up for peace and justice, so did Mother’s Day in the US begin
with Julia Ward Howe’s inspirational 1870 Proclamation against
the carnage of the Civil War:

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!…
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity,
mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes
up with our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!

Julia goes on to exhort women to leave their homes and
gather for an “earnest day of counsel” to figure out how
“the great human family can live in peace.” It’s time to
take Julia’s words to heart and bring them to fruition
in the world. Bouquets of spring flowers may be lovely,
but lasting peace is the greatest way to honor all mothers
-- past, present and future. Read the rest of Julia's
Proclamation here.

Join us this Mother's Day weekend, May 13-14, in
Washington DC as we gather for a 24-hour vigil outside
the White House. Bring your mother, your children, your
grandmother, your friends, your loved ones. Come for
the whole vigil (4pm Saturday to 4pm Sunday) or for
a few hours! We’ll sing, dance, drum, bond, laugh,
cry and hug. We’ll write letters to Laura Bush to appeal
to her own mother-heart, and read them aloud. We’ll
discuss new ideas for ending the war and building peace.
In the final two hours, from 2-4pm on Sunday, we’ll be
joined by some amazing celebrity actresses, singers,
writers--and moms. For more information & a schedule
of events to help you plan your trip, check out the
Mothers' Day page on the CODEPINK website. If you
can’t join us, you can create or join a Mother's Day
activity in your own community. For ideas to help
you plan an action check out the resources section
of the Mother's Day page.

And whether you’re in the US or overseas, please
consider writing a letter to Laura Bush to ask her how
she, as a mother, can continue to support a war that
is leaving scores of American and Iraqi mothers bereft.
Send your letters to,
we’ll deliver them en masse; we'll also take the most
compelling letters and turn them into a book, “Letters to Laura.”
Let’s make this Mother’s Day, May 14, one where we
heed Julia Ward Howe’s original call to action. Let’s
come together to build the world we want for our
children -- and our mothers.
Alison, Dana, Farida, Gael, Jodie, Medea, Rae and Tiffany


MONDAY, MAY 29, 2006
(Exact location to be announced.)

Welcome to the Official Push for Peace Site!

The Push For Peace movement is geared to combine the efforts of
able-bodied activists to those with special needs or challenges,
so that all people can participate and be counted.

The Push for Peace logo shows a Navy veteran in a wheelchair
with a peace sign on the wheel, with people marching behind
him. It can be seen at:

Just in case we don't get to modify the map before the weekend,
I'll just name our proposed stops. We start, of course with Golden
Gate Park, from there we head south to Los Angeles. Turning
east we move to Phoenix, then on to Albuquerque. Now it's
north to Denver, and east to St Louis. North again to Chicago,
and east to Detroit. Continue east to Cleveland, and then NYC
if all goes well Central Park (Imagine), culminating at the gates
of the White House on July 4, 2006

Push For Peace is a collective of veterans, progressive activists,
and everyday citizens working together through education,
motivation, and truth to bring America's troops home from the
war in Iraq and to help bring healing and peace to our nation.
The Push For Peace movement is geared to combine the efforts
of able-bodied activists to those with special needs or challenges,
so that all people can participate and be counted. The Push
For Peace effort will include organized rallies and marches,
as well as appearances and performances by high-profile
speakers and entertainers, to rally the American people and
show them we stand united with our fellow citizen and soldier.
It is our goal to grow the base of participants each day resulting
in a cross-country Push culminating at the gates of the White
House on July 4, 2006. Events will be scheduled across the
country leading up to the big Push in July. So keep checking
the Push calendar for events near you. Mapping it all out...
[Website shows map of stops in US en route to DC on July 4,]

This is a tentative and unfinished P4P route and is only a work in progress.
The Push is set to leave Golden Gate Park on Memorial Day 2006 (currently
working on permits) and then we will Push our way across the country
to arrive in DC across from the White House gathering at Lafayette Park
(currently working on permits) on July 4th, 2006. Golden Gate Park,
San Francisco, California Las Vegas Nevada Phoenix, Arizona Denver,
Colorado Crawford, Texas New Orleans, Louisiana more states pending...
Pushing real Democracy!


Fourth Annual International Al-Awda Convention
San Francisco - July 14-16, 2006
To register:
To flyer, the writing is on the wall:
For all other info:




According to "Minimum Wage History" at "

"Calculated in real 2005 dollars, the 1968 minimum wage was the
highest at $9.12. "The 8 dollar per hour Whole Foods employees
are being paid $1.12 less than the 1968 minimum wage.

"A federal minimum wage was first set in 1938. The graph shows
both nominal (red) and real (blue) minimum wage values. Nominal
values range from 25 cents per hour in 1938 to the current $5.15/hr.
The greatest percentage jump in the minimum wage was in 1950,
when it nearly doubled. The graph adjusts these wages to 2005
dollars (blue line) to show the real value of the minimum wage.
Calculated in real 2005 dollars, the 1968 minimum wage was the
highest at $9.12. Note how the real dollar minimum wage rises and
falls. This is because it gets periodically adjusted by Congress.
The period 1997-2006, is the longest period during which the
minimum wage has not been adjusted. States have departed from
the federal minimum wage. Washington has the highest minimum
wage in the country at $7.63 as of January 1, 2006. Oregon is next
at $7.50. Cities, too, have set minimum wages. Santa Fe, New
Mexico has a minimum wage of $9.50, which is more than double
the state minimum wage at $4.35."



I can't imagine that you haven't seen this, but if you
haven't, please sign the petition to keep our access.
Everything we do online will be hurt if Congress
passes a radical law next week that gives giant
corporations more control over what we do and see on
the Internet.

Internet providers like AT&T are lobbying Congress
hard to gut Network Neutrality--the Internet's First
Amendment and the key to Internet freedom. Right now,
Net Neutrality prevents AT&T from choosing which
websites open most easily for you based on which site
pays AT&T more. doesn't have to
outbid Amazon for the right to work properly on your

If Net Neutrality is gutted, many sites--including
Google, eBay, and iTunes--must either pay protection
money to companies like AT&T or risk having their
websites process slowly. That why these high-tech
pioneers, plus diverse groups ranging from MoveOn to
Gun Owners of America, are opposing Congress' effort
to gut Internet freedom.

So please! sign this petition telling your member of
Congress to preserve Internet freedom? Click here:


Flash Film: Ides of March




Do you agree with Charlie Sheen that the U.S. government
covered up the real events of the 9/11 attacks?
[So far it's running 83 percent in agreement.]


Public Law print of PL 107-110, the No Child Left Behind
Act of 2001 [1.8 MB]
Also, the law is up before Congress again in 2007.
See this article from USA Today:
Bipartisan panel to study No Child Left Behind
By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY
February 13, 2006


Are you an immigrant?
Do you have a history of immigration?
Do you support immigration issues?
Are you against the hr4437 bill?
Speak out

A new website where students (and non-students)
can speak out on the hr4437 bill.
Please foward.
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!
New York: (212)330-8172
Los Angeles: (213)403-0131
Washington D.C.: (202)544-9355
Please consider making a donation to the important
work of National Immigrant Solidarity Network
Send check pay to:
1013 Mission St. #6
South Pasadena CA 91030
(All donations are tax deductible)
*to join the immigrant Solidarity Network daily
news litserv, send e-mail to:
or visit:
*a monthly ISN monthly Action Alert! listserv, go to webpage
Please join our following listservs:
Asian American Labor Activism Alert! Listserv, send-e-mail to:
or visit:
NYC Immigrant Alert!: New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
areas immigrant workers information and alerts, send e-mail to:
or visit:
US-Mexico Border Information: No Militarization of Borders!
Support Immigrant Rights! send e-mail to:
or visit:


Protests Planned Against Media War Coverage
By Danny Schechter


Please join the online campaign to
Send emails to President Bush, Vice President
Cheney, Secretary of State Rice, U.N. Secretary-
General Annan, Congressional leaders and
the media demanding NO WAR ON IRAN!


A film by Eugene Jarecki
[Check out the trailer about this new film.
This looks like a very powerful film.]


The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

Bill of Rights


1) After Immigration Protests, Goal Remains Elusive
May 3, 2006

2) Wounded Soldiers Fight Off Bill Collectors at Home
Congressman Calls It 'Financial Friendly Fire';
Military Blames Payroll Errors
His injuries forced him out of the military, and the Army demanded
he repay an enlistment bonus of $2,700 because he'd only
served two-thirds of his three-year tour.
When he couldn't pay, Johnson's account was turned over to bill
collectors. He ended up living out of his car when the Army
reported him to credit agencies as having bad debts, making
it impossible for him to rent an apartment.

3) Bolivia's Energy Takeover: Populism Rules in the Andes
May 3, 2006

4) A Sergeant's Death in Iraq Follows His Fiancée's
May 3, 2006

5) Are some human beings illegal?
By Bruce Dixon, Guest Columnist
Updated Apr 25, 2006, 01:00 pm

6) U.A.W. Seeks a Strike Vote From Workers at Delphi
May 4, 2006

[Col. Writ. 4/2/06]
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Regarding the 'Solidarity Center' - American Center for International
Labor Solidarity (ACILS) activities in Venezuela, Haiti, and Iraq.
We have a website at

9) Liberal Bad Faith in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina
by Adolph Reed and Stephen Steinberg
May 4, 2006 - Issue 182

10) Our Sick Society
May 5, 2006

11) Students, Activists Bike to Bechtel Int'l Headquarters,
Shut Down Building for 45 Minutes
By Lacy MacAuley

12) Statistics Aside, Many Feel Pinch of Daily Costs
May 6, 2006

13) Putting Hunger Out of Business
by Tommi Avicolli Mecca
originally published in

14) UAW at Delphi gives OK to call strike
Workers give their approval for the job action if the
two sides cannot reach a pact.
By Kristin McAllister
Staff Writer

15) Medieval siege of 1.4 million souls in Gaza

16) Palestinians losing link to U.S. care
Sanctions against Hamas threaten to harm program for kids,
entire medical system
Matthew Kalman, Chronicle Foreign Service
Sunday, May 7, 2006


1) After Immigration Protests, Goal Remains Elusive
May 3, 2006

WASHINGTON, May 2 — The nascent immigrant rights movement
showed on Monday that it could build an organization, mobilize
hundreds of thousands of people across the country and wield
economic power.

But the protesters do not appear to have achieved their primary
goal: changing votes in Congress. And some critics say the
demonstration may have generated a backlash, hardening
positions on Capitol Hill.

The protests, which began in March and resumed on Monday
with a boycott of work, school and shops, have clearly grabbed
the nation's attention when the issue of illegal immigration
is high on the agenda in Washington.

The heightened attention will make it difficult for Congress to
duck the question of what to do with the estimated 11 million
to 12 million people living illegally in the United States. Although
the outpouring has drawn comparisons to the civil rights
movement of the 1960's, questions remain about whether
the protesters can translate their passion into political results.

Some companies closed on Monday, yet it is too early to
assess the economic effects of the boycott. The effects were
diminished because many workers notified their employers
ahead of time that they planned to take the day off.

"This was a one-day deal," said Randel Johnson, vice president
of the United States Chamber of Congress, which supports
bills to legalize immigrants. "If immigrants decided to
abandon their jobs for two weeks, that would definitely
have an impact."

Some advocates who support "comprehensive immigration
reform," the idea that illegal workers should be put on
a path to citizenship, say the protests have given that
concept an important lift in the debate on Capitol Hill.

Even some immigrant rights backers say few if any minds
were changed and called the marches a Rorschach test in
which people simply saw their own view reflected in the
sea of mostly Latino marchers.

"I have no effective data on this, but it has probably
hardened positions and maybe done a little bit of wedging,"
said Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey, a Democrat and
former senator who said he supported the protesters'
cause. "I think that the people that were really fired up
about this still are, and the position that they had to start
with, they still carry."

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said:
"The protest, I don't think, changes votes on the floor of
the Senate. I think what changes votes is coming down,
sitting down, talking about it, as opposed to students'
staying out of school. I happen to think that students'
staying out of school is counterproductive."

The protesters have discovered that there is a thin and
potentially dangerous line between promoting national
pride and pushing opponents' buttons. They used tactics

— flying the Mexican flag, recording "The Star-Spangled
Banner" in Spanish — that have left even some supporters
feeling a bit queasy.

"I have a great respect for a lot of the people that did the
protesting, but I think their message is all confused," said
Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico,
whose sympathy dates from his childhood, when his
mother, an Italian immigrant, was nearly deported. "The
flag, the anthem, all that, it got everybody all mixed up.
'Take off work' — it sounded wrong to some people, right
to others."

The public is deeply divided on illegal immigration. A survey
in March by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research
group in Washington, found that 53 percent of respondents
said people who were in the United States illegally should
be required to go home and that 40 percent say the
immigrants should be granted some kind of legal status
that allows them to stay here.

"What buttons were pressed?" Roberto Suro, the director
of the center, asked, wondering aloud about what Americans
saw when they looked at the protesters. "Was it that there
are so many people here outside of government control
or was it the hard-working family types? I think that's
really imponderable."

That divide is reflected among Republicans on Capitol Hill.
The House opposes giving citizenship to illegal immigrants,
and it has passed a bill aimed only at controlling the borders,
while a more comprehensive Senate bill is backed by
Republicans like Mr. Domenici, as well as Senators Lindsay
Graham of South Carolina, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, John
McCain of Arizona, and Mel Martinez of Florida.

Some say the protests have given the Senate approach
a boost. "While you could never point to a specific vote,
they moved the tone and the thrust where now a balanced
bill has the upper hand, and it's in part because of the
protests," Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New
York, said.

The Senate bill collapsed last month amid partisan bickering
on procedure, but the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist
of Tennessee, says he wants to resume the debate this
month. On Tuesday, the minority leader, Senator Harry
Reid of Nevada, offered to limit the debate to 10 amendments
a side. Mr. Frist did not accept that, and they continued talks.
The Republican split is complicated because not just the
immigrants are weighing in. Among their biggest allies are
employers, large and small, who want assurances that they
will continue to have that labor pool. Business groups are
important for the Republican base, and many employers
gave immigrant employees the day off on Monday
in solidarity with the marchers.

With Republicans so divided, reaching consensus will
be difficult.

"Obviously, there's tremendous pressure on lawmakers
to fix the problem," said Frank Sharry, executive director
of the National Immigration Forum, an advocacy group.
"The marches in the street, the public opinion polls that
show immigration is one of the top two or three issues
in the country.

"But the crosscurrents of politics and policy are such
that it's going to take a tremendous push from President
Bush and from Democratic and Republican leaders
to get this done."

It is clear that the protests have raised some hackles.
After the March rally, Senator Trent Lott, Republican of
Mississippi, said he was deeply offended by marchers'
waving the Mexican flag.

"I want to be sensitive to human concerns, why they're
here and how they're here. But when they act out like that,
they lose me," Mr. Lott said.

He suggested a risk of deportation and said, "We had them
all in a bunch, you know what I mean?"

Julia Preston contributed reporting from New York for this
article, and Rachel L. Swarns from Washington.


2) Wounded Soldiers Fight Off Bill Collectors at Home
Congressman Calls It 'Financial Friendly Fire';
Military Blames Payroll Errors
His injuries forced him out of the military, and the Army demanded
he repay an enlistment bonus of $2,700 because he'd only
served two-thirds of his three-year tour.
When he couldn't pay, Johnson's account was turned over to bill
collectors. He ended up living out of his car when the Army
reported him to credit agencies as having bad debts, making
it impossible for him to rent an apartment.

April 26, 2006 — - Hundreds of soldiers wounded in battle in Iraq
have found themselves fighting off bill collectors on the home front,
according to a report to be released tomorrow. The draft report
by the Government Accountability Office, which ABC News obtained,
said that hundreds of wounded soldiers had military debts incurred
through no fault of their own turned over to collection agencies.

"Financial friendly fire," said Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the
House Committee on Government Reform. "Because their financial
records are so bad, this is a friendly fire where we are hurting and
wounding our own."

Army specialist Tyson Johnson of Mobile, Ala., had just been
promoted in a field ceremony in Iraq when a mortar round
exploded outside his tent, almost killing him.

"It took my kidney, my left kidney, shrapnel came in through my
head, back of my head," he recounted.

His injuries forced him out of the military, and the Army demanded
he repay an enlistment bonus of $2,700 because he'd only
served two-thirds of his three-year tour.

When he couldn't pay, Johnson's account was turned over to bill
collectors. He ended up living out of his car when the Army
reported him to credit agencies as having bad debts, making
it impossible for him to rent an apartment.

"Oh, man, I felt betrayed," Johnson said. "I felt like, oh, my
heart dropped."

Payroll Errors, Says Military

And there are many more like Johnson. Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly
lost his leg in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq.

He didn't realize it, but the Army continued to mistakenly pay
him combat bonus pay, about $2,000, while he was in the
hospital rehabilitating, and then demanded that he pay it back.

He, too, was threatened by the Army with debt collectors
and a negative credit report.

"By law, he's not entitled to the money, so he must pay it back,"
said Col. Richard Shrank, the commander of the United States
Army Finance Command.

The Army said it moved wounded soldiers out of the battlefield
so quickly its accounting office could not keep up, resulting
in numerous payroll errors.

"This is no way to win a war, I can tell you that," said Davis.
"You'd think after four years after fighting a war in Iraq, the
government would have its act together."

But the Army said it is now trying to correct the problem. Since
ABC News first reported on the plight of soldiers, featuring Johnson
and Kelly in a "Primetime" investigation in October 2004, the Army
has forgiven most of their debts.

But Davis said there may be thousands more whose thanks for
putting their lives on the line has been a knock on the door from
a Pentagon debt collector.

ABC News' Maddy Sauer contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures


3) Bolivia's Energy Takeover: Populism Rules in the Andes
May 3, 2006

Bolivia's nationalization of its energy industry, announced Monday
by President Evo Morales, was a vivid illustration that the populist
policies, championed most prominently by Venezuela, were spreading.

The impact on international energy markets is expected to be minimal
because Bolivia produces mostly natural gas and exports it to just
two countries, Brazil and Argentina.

Symbolically, however, the dispatch of troops to refineries and oilfields
threatens to inject more nationalistic fervor into the policies of Bolivia
and other energy exporters, in Latin America and abroad.

"We're experiencing the supremacy of emotional politics at this time,"
Gonzalo Chávez, an economist at the Catholic University of La Paz
in Bolivia, said in a telephone interview. "The nationalization was
received with great enthusiasm, but we'll have to wait and see how
the economic impact of all this plays out."

Many countries have already taken steps to assert greater control
over their natural resources, spurred by nationalist politics and
lofty energy prices.

Major oil suppliers like Saudi Arabia and Iran nationalized their
oil interests decades ago. Russia recently reorganized its domestic
energy industries as well. But it is in the Andean region where
momentum is quickly building for a greater government role.

Venezuela, a top supplier of oil to the United States, is at the
forefront of this trend, recently forcing foreign energy companies
to accept state control of important ventures.

Ecuador imposed rules in April that increase the state's share
of windfall oil profits, while in Peru, Ollanta Humala, a presidential
candidate, has called for a more aggressive government role
in natural gas and mining operations.

On Tuesday, Bolivia's vice president, Álvaro García, said major
mining companies would also have to pay higher taxes. "There
are not going to be company expropriations, of course," he told
a local radio station, according to Reuters, "but we're going
to assume a greater level of state control."

The government said it expected the nationalization of its energy
sector, which includes the second-largest natural gas reserves
in Latin America, behind Venezuela's, to raise its annual revenues
by more than $300 million, to $780 million.

"I don't think the game is over," said Lawrence J. Goldstein,
president of the PIRA Energy Group, which is based in New York
and is supported by the petroleum industry. "It's going to move
from the Americas to the Africans. This is a very dangerous

Bolivia's step highlighted the region's changing political landscape,
pointing first to the weakening influence of the United States,
and to the rising profile of Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez,
who has been empowered by soaring oil revenues.

But it also threatened to open a schism among the region's new
wave of left-leaning leaders. Brazil's president, Luis Ignácio
da Silva, while nominally left-leaning, has drifted more toward
the center since his election in 2002. Now he will have to
negotiate a way out of the current crisis for his country, which
is one of the biggest investors in Bolivia's energy industry and
the main buyer of Bolivia's natural gas.

Brazil announced late Tuesday that Mr. da Silva would meet
Thursday in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, with Mr. Morales and
with Argentina's president, Néstor Kirchner, to press for
stability in energy supplies and prices. Mr. Chávez may
also attend.

The Brazilian state oil company, Petrobras, the nation's
largest company, is among the small number of foreign
energy companies that will feel the brunt of Bolivia's decision.

At a news conference on Tuesday, André Singer, a Brazilian
government spokesman, said Petrobras would maintain its
Bolivian operations for the time being, though it remained
wary of future investments.

Other energy companies affected include the BG Group
in Britain, Repsol-YPF S.A. of Spain and Total of France. The
only Bolivian investment of Exxon Mobil, the largest American
oil company, is a minority stake in a nonproducing gas field
controlled by Total.

The president of Repsol, Antonio Brufau, said the Bolivian
decree fell "outside the norms and logic of business that
should be the guides for relations between companies
and governments."

Companies said they were waiting for more details to emerge
and for negotiations or legal arbitration to begin with the
Bolivian government, which has given them six months
to agree to the new conditions or leave.

For the largest natural gas fields, the decree would give the
government 82 percent control, including royalties, taxes
and direct stakes, while that level would be lower for smaller

But specifics remain to be clarified, in particular whether
infrastructure or assets will be seized without compensation.
The decree described earlier policies giving foreign companies
a foothold as "treason."

Edward E. Miller, president of Gas TransBoliviano S.A.,
a company that operates part of the pipeline to Brazil, said
people in the energy industry were still trying to make sense
of the changes.

"We have military in front of our offices, but they're not doing
anything but making sure people don't take anything out
of the offices," Mr. Miller said in a telephone interview from
Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Bolivia. "They're not abrasive,
they just don't want anyone to leave with laptops or documents."

In taking such a bold step, Mr. Morales appeared to have taken
a cue from President Chávez, who has used his oil money to
buttress alliances. In Bolivia's case, Venezuela has agreed to
supply about 200,000 barrels a month of subsidized diesel,
donated about $30 million for social programs and sent
literacy volunteers into the Bolivian countryside.

Just a day before his nationalization speech, Mr. Morales
entered into a trade agreement with Venezuela and Cuba
called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas.

"Chávez is forcing Bolivia into a radical shift," said Roger Tissot,
director of markets and countries for PFC Energy, a consulting
firm in Washington. "That is the major headache for the U.S."

The Bush administration has quietly tried to engage the new
Bolivian government, though that overture and Brazil's efforts
to moderate Mr. Morales appear to have had little effect.

A perception that foreign oil and mining concerns have exploited
landlocked Bolivia has been a driving force in the country's politics
for decades. But it gained new currency after Bolivia and other
nations in the region reopened the energy industry in the 1990's.

Since then, there have been boisterous protests and a tide of
electoral revolts by voters who felt that the economic benefits
had not spread to the poor.

Bolivians have also chafed somewhat at their dependence on
Brazil. Petrobras controls 45 percent of Bolivia's natural gas fields,
and part of a pipeline that supplies 51 percent of Brazil's need
for natural gas.

At the same time, Brazilian companies, eager to expand into
neighboring countries, have been struggling to do so without
offending their hosts.

"Brazilian companies still do not have a nuanced approach,
a diplomatic culture, particularly in relation to smaller countries,"
Luís Nassif, one of Brazil's leading economic commentators,
recently wrote in the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. "They are
arrogant, like the British before World War II."

Yet while Brazil might feel tremors from Bolivia's decision,
it is Bolivia that may be risking its potential as a major
natural gas exporter.

Companies had been holding off on investments in Bolivia for
some time, unnerved by growing talk of precisely the kind
of step that Mr. Morales took this week. Foreign direct investment,
much of which goes to energy and mining, fell to $103 million
in 2005, from $1 billion in 1999.

What is more, unlike oil, natural gas is not easily exportable,
with costly liquefaction facilities, customized tankers or
pipelines needed to take the fuel to markets. Chile, a potential
market for Bolivian gas, may choose instead a project
to import the fuel from as far away as Africa.

Even Brazil, while now reliant on Bolivian gas, has recently
discovered large offshore gas reserves of its own. Thus the
window of opportunity for Bolivia to become a leading gas
exporter may be closing, even as it grows more courageous
in its dealings with foreigners.

"If Brazil decides to give the cold shoulder to Bolivia," said
Carlos Alberto López, an independent consultant for oil
companies in La Paz, "Bolivia will be left with its gas

Paulo Prada and Renwick McLean contributed reportingfor
this article.


4) A Sergeant's Death in Iraq Follows His Fiancée's
May 3, 2006

Jose Gomez knew the loss of war. In 2003, his fiancée, Analaura
Esparza-Gutierrez, an Army private, died in a roadside bombing
in Tikrit, Iraq. So when he was ordered to Iraq for a second tour
last July, this time as a reserve officer, he decided to spare his
mother by not telling her.

Instead, Sergeant Gomez, 23, invented a detailed ruse that he
was studying accounting and economics two days a week at
a college in Texas and working. He made regular Saturday
phone calls to his mother, Maria Gomez, of Corona, Queens,
and insisted on being the one to place the call. When
Mrs. Gomez dialed the number and found it disconnected,
he gently brushed her off, reminding her that he would call her.

Then a bank statement arrived at Mrs. Gomez's home, showing
Army paychecks deposited to Sergeant Gomez's account.

"You've been in the Army these eight months," Mrs. Gomez
told her son.

"No, no, I'm not," Sergeant Gomez insisted.

There was no call last Saturday. On Friday, two officers and
an English-Spanish translator came to tell her that her son
was killed that day in a roadside bombing in Baghdad.

"He never wanted me to be hurt," Mrs. Gomez, a petite woman
in jeans and a turquoise sweater, recalled yesterday, sitting on
a settee in her small living room on 104th Street, made smaller
by the presence of a pack of reporters pressing her for details
of her son.

Her eyes moistened when she spoke of him, but when she
spoke of his deception, she glowed with tenderness and said
that her son would go to any lengths for her.

"He was saving money to buy his mother a house; that was
his main goal," said Felix Jimenez, Sergeant Gomez's stepfather.

On a side chair sat Marie Canario, 21, wearing the diamond
engagement ring Sergeant Gomez gave her at Christmas.
He had waited until the last moment before leaving in August
to tell her he was going to Iraq. "I was upset, crying,"
Ms. Canario recalled.

"Don't worry," Sergeant Gomez told her before he left, she
said. "You act like I'm not coming back."

"I don't think he wanted to go back," she said yesterday.
"He said he didn't want to go."

It was Iraq that dealt Sergeant Gomez, described as a quiet,
affable young man who had a knack for numbers, the greatest
trials of his young life. He returned home in 2003 nervous
and shaken by his combat experiences, his mother said.
She took two weeks off from her job packaging automobile
air fresheners in a factory on Long Island to take him to
Santo Domingo, where he had been born and lived until
he was 3.

There, he swam, basked in the sun, visited his older brother,
Severino Peralta, 27, and seemed restored by the trip,
Mrs. Gomez said.

And he could focus on his engagement to Ms. Esparza-
Gutierrez, whom he had met at Fort Hood, Tex. He had
nervously proposed to her in the spring.

"Girl, I love him so much," Ms. Esparza-Gutierrez wrote in
a May 2003 letter from Iraq to her best friend back home
that was quoted in a story by The Associated Press. "I can't
imagine sharing life's most precious moment with anyone else."

But on Oct. 1, 2003, Ms. Esparza-Gutierrez, 21, was killed.
She was the second female soldier killed in combat in Iraq.

"He was destroyed," Mrs. Gomez said yesterday of her son,
recalling how different, once again, he seemed. "When you
have a pain like that, you notice it."

Then, the phone rang. It was Ms. Esparza-Gutierrez's mother,
Armandina Esparza, calling from Houston. Only once had she
met the woman who would have been her daughter's mother-
in-law — at her daughter's funeral.

The death of Sergeant Gomez confounded Ms. Esparza. "It's
going to be the same as before," she told Mrs. Gomez. She
said she was heading off to church to pray for their dead children.

Ms. Canario sat quietly in the corner. Mrs. Gomez looked at
her and smiled. Mrs. Gomez said that after her son met
Ms. Canario at the Queens Center Mall about a year ago,
it was nice to see him happy again.

Mr. Jimenez, unshaven and wearing a white undershirt with
khaki pants, stood in a doorway, his arms folded across his
chest. For days, he had been urging his wife, who could not
sleep or eat, to remain strong.

When asked what the family thought of the war, Mr. Jimenez,
a truck driver, wearily leaned his head against the jamb and
answered, "Who am I to decide?"


5) Are some human beings illegal?
By Bruce Dixon, Guest Columnist
Updated Apr 25, 2006, 01:00 pm

In one of our recent cover stories, we singled a particularly
contemptible maneuver by Kasim Reed, a Black Georgia state
legislator from Atlanta, who tried to outdo Republican viciousness
when it came to proposing punitive measures against immigrants.
He authored a bill that would imprison anyone convicted of using
a false ID to get a job for five years. Predictably, his proposal was
embraced by leading White Georgia Democrats. This is how Georgia’s
New Democrats hope to win White votes on the immigration issue.

Mr. Reed, who intends to run for mayor of Atlanta in 2009, is certainly
not stupid enough to imagine that he is protecting Black jobs. All the
measures to strip foreigners of civil and human rights, to marginalize
them and make them fear jail or deportation at a moment’s notice
only make them more desirable employees. When given a choice,
employers always prefer a fearful, compliant workforce with few or
no rights to an aware one with enforceable rights. Just having them
around, even if an employer chooses not to hire them, effectively
lowers everyone’s wages.

As Black people, we ought to understand better than anybody how
White supremacy works and how language, which frames the way
we all think, is a potent tool of oppression or liberation. To start with,
we need to purge the phrase “illegal aliens” from our vocabulary.
Anybody who uses it within earshot ought to be challenged promptly
and publicly, just like you would in a case of the unauthorized use
of the n-word.

Aliens are from Jupiter. White America defines people as “aliens”
in order to justify treatment unfit for a member of the human family,
just as our ancestors were once labeled “property,” allowing “owners”
to buy and sell us like cattle. For those so unable to free their minds
from the box of White racist legalism that they cannot part with the
adjective “illegal,” we should insist that they follow it with the correct
noun that says what these folks really are. Illegal persons. Illegal
people. Illegal humans.

And if “illegal human” sounds ridiculous and evil, as it ought to in
any civilized ear, it’s only because White America’s law on this score
is evil and ridiculous.

The idea that Black unemployment in the U.S. is “historically unequaled”
and the notion that immigrants choose to come here and cause labor
market problems for Blacks betray a breathtaking ignorance of human
motivation and of the way the global economy works. In recent decades,
we have seen the U.S. government openly aid and encourage
manufacturing and service industry to shut down facilities and factories
here and move them first to Mexico, then to the lowest wage overseas
hellhole available. At the same time, billions of our tax dollars are paid
in agricultural subsidies to agribusiness companies that dump their
goods into Haiti, Mexico, Central America, Africa and Asia, killing the
market for locally grown stuff and driving farmers off the land and into
the cities where there are no jobs, health care or futures. Unemployment
rates in Kingston, Jamaica or Dakar, Senegal are much higher than any
experienced in Black America. A few of their daughters find work
in the sweatshops. The rest stand around, hustle or starve, or emigrate.

Tens of thousands walk half the length of Africa every month trying
to get to Europe. Can you imagine crossing the Sahara on foot? Chinese
pay a couple years’ wages in advance to be packed into shipping crates
that might or might not arrive here. Others walk from Guatemala and
Chiapas, from Oaxaca and Michoacan.

Blacks have been on the bottom as long as there has been an America.
Now, the globalized labor market is forcing us to share that bottom with
other unfortunate folks. Should we rail against the Mexicans? Should we
gripe about the Jamaicans, organize against the Filipinos and Arabs?
Employers would like that and Republicans, too, even some Democrats.
But we cannot escape the bottom by making common cause with the
folks who put us down here.

(Bruce Dixon is the editor of the Black Commentator. He may reached
via email at Visit the website at

© Copyright 2006 FCN Publishing,


6) U.A.W. Seeks a Strike Vote From Workers at Delphi
May 4, 2006

DETROIT, May 3 — Under normal circumstances, a request by
union leaders to authorize a strike is routine. But the situation
between the United Automobile Workers and the Delphi
Corporation is anything but normal.

The U.A.W. said Wednesday that it had asked its 24,000 workers
at Delphi, the auto parts supplier that is operating under
bankruptcy protection, to vote by May 14 whether to give union
leaders permission to call a strike. If union leaders were to order
a walkout, not only would Delphi be severely affected, but so would
General Motors, which could itself be forced to file for bankruptcy
protection as a result, analysts say.

G.M., which lost $10.6 billion last year, spun off Delphi in 1999
and remains its biggest customer. The request by Delphi's
largest union came six days before a bankruptcy court hearing,
scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday, on the company's
request for permission to set aside its labor contracts
and impose sharply lower wage and benefit rates.

A ruling could come within about 30 days, but judges often
delay a decision to encourage the two sides to reach a settlement.

A strike vote is a procedural tool meant to give union officials
clout in negotiations, although a U.A.W. spokesman said Wednesday
that the two sides had been more focused on preparing for
the coming court hearing than on negotiating in recent weeks.

"It's the equivalent of putting a bullet in a chamber of a gun,"
said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark
University in Worcester, Mass.

Delphi has been pushing for sharply lower wages and benefits
since it sought bankruptcy protection, but has put off filing
a court motion several times while it continued talks with the
U.A.W. On March 31, it proposed cutting U.A.W. members' wages
by about $5 an hour, to $22.50, followed by a second cut to
$16.50 an hour next year.

That assumes that G.M., which is liable for its former workers'
pensions and retirement medical benefits, would provide $50,000
per worker to offset the cuts. If workers do not agree, or G.M. does
not come up with the money, wages would fall to $12.50 an hour
next year, Delphi said.

At the same time, Delphi said it planned to close 21 of its
29 factories in the United States and eliminate 20,000 of its
34,000 hourly jobs nationwide.

The U.A.W. expressed outrage, but union leaders held off seeking
strike authorization, even though workers at the second-largest
Delphi union, the International Union of Electrical Workers, have
authorized their leaders to call a strike.

The request for a strike authorization was made Wednesday by
Richard Shoemaker, the U.A.W. vice president in charge of talks
at Delphi, at a meeting with local union leaders in Detroit.

"Dick Shoemaker has said all along that he'd ask for a strike
authorization vote when he thought the timing is right, and now
he thinks the timing is right," said Paul Krell, a U.A.W. spokesman.

Before it filed its court motion, Delphi reached agreement with
the U.A.W. and G.M. on a plan offering buyouts from $35,000
to $140,000 to all 113,000 hourly workers at G.M. and 13,000
Delphi workers, if they will leave their jobs.

Workers originally had 45 days from when their plant first
received the buyout offer to decide on it. That meant most
workers would have had to decide sometime by mid- to late
May. But this week G.M. extended the deadline for all workers
to June 23. They then have an additional seven days to change
their minds.

On Wednesday, the U.A.W.'s president, Ron Gettelfinger, told
Delphi union leaders that 12,400 workers at G.M. and 3,620 workers
at Delphi had asked to take the buyouts, or 11 percent and
27.8 percent respectively, said Rob Betts, president of a U.A.W.
local in Coopersville, Mich.

Mr. Gettelfinger did not say whether that was above or below
expectations, he said.

"I don't think anybody thought we'd be able to judge how this
program is being received until we get near the deadline,"
Mr. Betts said. He added: "Most people are going to wait.
The people who already made a decision were going to retire

Professor Chaison said Delphi might argue that it needed to
cut workers' wages and benefits to make up the revenue it was
losing from G.M. "Everything is going to fast-forward in this,
and it's getting very, very dangerous," he said.


[Col. Writ. 4/2/06]
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Now, as polls show growing disenchantment with both political
parties, the issue of immigration is raised once again, as politicians
seek to stir the pot of social resentment.

Voices are raised, tempers are frayed, proposals are launched,
and the destinies of millions are apparently held in limbo.

But, in numbers not seen for generations, mostly Mexican-born
(or related) families pound the pavements in protest, demanding
amnesty for the millions who live and work, in the most thankless
jobs, here in the U.S.

The immigration "discussion" masks deeper currents in American
life, of those who dread the approaching dawn when those who
number the nation's majority are brown, instead of white.

As the government and the servile corporate media hawked fear
to trap the nation into the Iraq War, so now fear is once again
merchandised for political gain. The perpetual fear of the foreign
Other, the fear of Spanish-speaking people, who are called
'criminal' for daring to cross the Rio Grande, to inhabit the
lands stolen from their ancestors!

The truth of the matter is that it is highly unlikely that over
11 million men, women, and children will be returned to Mexican
territory. That's because businesses, especially those engaged
in agriculture, would virtually go out of business, if their
immigrant-based work-force up and disappeared.

But, like most people, many Latino immigrants are involved in
other businesses and industries in U.S. life. Guess who's doing
the lion's share of the work to actually re-build New Orleans?
(In case you've not guessed, let me just say it - It ain't FEMA!).

With the exception of Native Americans (as in so-called 'Indians'),
and African-Americans, every person in the U.S. today is
a descendant of a willing immigrant (OK, strict historians will
object that many poor whites, especially in the Southern states,
were sent to George and Maryland as indentured servants,
as part of a penal sentence).

But, the point is clear. Immigration was consciously used to
craft the U.S. as a white nation. For centuries, certain racial
groups, like Chinese, for example, were specifically excluded
by law from citizenship (like their Mexican counterparts, many
Asians were needed in the building of this country as cheap labor).

As law professor Ian F. Haney-Lopez has shown in his book,
*White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race* (N.Y.:NYU Press,
1996), American courts and legislatures have consistently defined
'citizens' as 'whites', and over the course of centuries, millions
of people were denied entry to the US, or even if allowed in denied
citizenship, because they were not 'white.' In 1882, Haney-Lopez
explains, the U.S. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which
barred Chinese workers for a decade. In 1884, the Act was expanded
to bar all Chinese people, and shortly thereafter an indefinite ban
was implemented. State and federal court decisions banned
Syrians, Asian-Indians, Palestinians, mixed-race people,
and multitudes of others on the basis of insufficient whiteness!

That ugly history may be reborn in this latest 'battle' over Mexican
immigration. Political storms have a way of giving way to political
hurricanes, that even those who planned them cannot control.

Several years ago, a right-wing politician in California tried to ride
the anti-immigrant train to the White House. This man was
Pete Wilson, and his playing with fire left him politically burnt.
Angry Hispanics in Cali sent him, and some of his colleagues
in the Republican Party, into retirement.

But, this era of politicians, trying to create an issue that protects
them from the falling numbers of the incumbent Bush Administration,
look at Wilson's fate as ancient history.

Perhaps the recent demonstrations, massive in their size,
vociferous in their spirit, have given them pause.

Time will tell.

The political entity that truly befriends this growing segment
of the US population will have tapped into a powerful social force.

Don't expect it to be either the Republicans or the Democrats.

Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal


Regarding the 'Solidarity Center' - American Center for International
Labor Solidarity (ACILS) activities in Venezuela, Haiti, and Iraq.
We have a website at

As workers, we know that the only way for us to protect our interests
in this age of corporate globalization and US Empire is to stand
together in solidarity, across national boundaries.

It troubles us greatly to know that the AFL-CIO, the largest
organization representing US workers, has been associated with
anti-worker and anti-democratic activities abroad. This has included
a history of partnerships with the CIA and State Department in
attacking labor groups, and collaborating with dictatorships or
supporting the overthrow of elected governments. Two of the best
known of these labor/US government interventions led to the
overthrow of the Salvador Allende government in Chile in 1973, a
nd the unsuccessful Venezuela coup in 2002.

Today, the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center is one of four core institutes
of the National Endowment for Democracy, partnering with the
International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute,
and the Center for International Private Enterprise (Chambers of
Commerce). The Solidarity Center is more than 90 per cent funded
by the federal government. Most of its funding is from the State
Department (via the NED and USAID) and the Department of Labor.

Whatever genuine solidarity work the Solidarity Center has done--
and it has done some--it does not give it license to advance corporate
interests as an arm of US foreign policy by sponsoring politically aligned
labor organizations against progressive trade unionists and popular

In Venezuela, the Solidarity Center worked with and funded what
it called the "flagship organizations" behind illegal, company-initiated
lockouts of oil workers and the failed coup against the democratically
elected government of Hugo Chavez.

In Haiti, the Solidarity Center has only supported a labor organization
that agitated for the ousting of the democratically elected government
of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, while failing to act against or condemn the
massive persecution of pro-Lavalas, pro-Aristide, public sector trade
unionists since the 2004 coup. Furthermore, the Solidarity Center's
partner in the NED, in line with the Bush Agenda, is the International
Republican Institute, which funded, prepared and trained the
perpetrators of the coup.

In Iraq, where 50 per cent of NED funding is now directed, the
Solidarity Center plays an active role backing a US occupation despised
by Iraqi workers. It recognizes only one of several union centers.
That federation is the only center participating in the government
empowered by the Bush Administration, and the only one to state
support for the occupation. Choosing to support one union over
others violates the AFL-CIO's own primary principle recognizing
the rights of workers to choose who will represent them. That
principle is called "Freedom of Association."

These activities are carried out in the name of AFL-CIO rank and file,
and are paid for with tax dollars. Whether we are in the AFL-CIO
or not, as workers we feel that the AFL-CIO, is OUR organization.
It is outrageous that the AFL-CIO accepts funding and backing for
its so-called "Solidarity Center" from the Bush Administration or
from any administration whose agenda sells out the interests
of workers for the sake of corporate interests and political power.
We all know that the Bush Administration does not give one dime
to any group that does not advance its anti-worker agenda
at home and abroad.

The AFL-CIO should never use our credibility as workers to
undermine the struggles of workers abroad--to serve as
a government weapon for Corporate America. The struggles of
workers abroad to improve their conditions are part of our own
struggle in the US for a better future. It is totally unacceptable that
Solidarity Center activities are done behind the backs of US workers,
without any honest reporting and with closed books. It is unaccountable
to AFL-CIO unions and certainly to the rank and file. It does not report
finances in the manner demanded, by law, of every local union.

We are affronted by the anti-democratic measures that were used
by top-level AFL-CIO leaders to prevent a full and honest floor
discussion at the 2005 AFL-CIO National Convention in Chicago
of the "Build Unity and Trust With Workers Worldwide" resolution.
That resolution to account for and end foreign activities tied to
government agencies was submitted with unanimous approval by
the 2004 Convention of the California State AFL-CIO, representing
2.4 million workers. We cannot accept this distortion of trade union
democracy that enables top-level AFL-CIO officials to make deals
with the Bush Administration (or any other) to intervene against
the will of workers abroad and the sovereignty of nations.

Therefore, in accord with the unanimous vote in the California
Labor Federation, we join the call for:

1) The Solidarity Center to immediately terminate its collaboration
with the Bush Administration and the NED, withdraw as one of the
four core institutes of the NED, refuse to re-enter such relationships
in the future and stop all collaboration with the agents of
US government foreign policy and corporate globalization;

2) The AFL-CI O to open its books about all projects, past, present,
and future, undertaken by the Solidarity Center and predecessor
groups that carried out AFL-CIO foreign operations. These would
include, but not be limited to, operations that preceded the coup
against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, the attempted coup
against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002, operations in Haiti
leading up to and following the coup, and current activities in
and/or related to Iraq. We want detailed reports on a country-by-
country basis wherever the Solidarity Center is active--and an
immediate termination of any operations that are not specifically
intended to help workers in that country.


9) Liberal Bad Faith in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina
by Adolph Reed and Stephen Steinberg
May 4, 2006 - Issue 182

The "redevelopment" of the communities of the unemploymed,
displaced, homeless, undocumented workers, and other marginalized
sectors of society is being sponsored by all of the politicians of the
ruling class, even their "liberals." The local, state and federal
displacement of the Black and poor communities goes hand and
hand with the resegragation of the public schools by these same
politician. From San Francisco to New York, from New Orleans to
Chicago, this is one part of the political and economic agenda of
capitalism. Some of the other parts are the rape and plunder of
our pensions and healthcare, as US Imperialism's four horsemen
of the apocolypse come home to roost upon the people of the
United States. The politicians are echoing the famous
slogan from the Thomas Nast Tween political cartoon: Boss
Tweed : "Let us Prey."


Liberal Bad Faith in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina
by Adolph Reed and Stephen Steinberg

So, Barbara Bush was right after all when she said, "So many
of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged
anyway, so this, this is working very well for them." And Rep.
Richard Baker, a 10-term Republican from Baton Rouge, was
right when he was overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned
up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God
did." The publication of both statements elicited public
condemnation and was followed by a flurry of hairsplitting
denials. But it is now clear that their only transgression was
to say in unvarnished language what many pundits, politicians,
and policy wonks were thinking. Since then, there has been
a stream of proposals in more circumspect language, first by
conservatives and then by a liberal policy circle at Harvard,
that also envision the resettlement of New Orleans' poverty
population far from the Vieux Carré, Garden District and
other coveted neighborhoods of the "new" New Orleans.

David Brooks weighed in first, in a September 8 column in the
New York Times under the title, "Katrina's Silver Lining." How
can such a colossal natural disaster that devastated an entire
city and displaced most of its population have "a silver lining"?
Because, according to Brooks, it provided an opportunity to
"break up zones of concentrated poverty," and thus "to break
the cycle of poverty."Â The key, though, is to relocate the
poor elsewhere, and to replace them with middle class
families who will rebuild the city. "If we just put up new
buildings and allow the same people to move back into
their old neighborhoods," Brooks warned, "then urban New
Orleans will become just as rundown and dysfunctional
as before."

OK, this is what we expect from the neocons. Enter William
Julius Wilson, whose message in The Declining Significance
of Race catapulted him to national prominence. In an
appearance on The News Hour, Wilson began by diplomatically
complimenting Bush for acknowledging the problems of racial
inequality and persistent poverty, and then made a pitch for
funneling both private and public sector jobs to low-income
people. So far so good. But then Wilson shifted to some
ominous language:

"Another thing, it would have been good if he had talked
about the need to ensure that the placement of families
in New Orleans does not reproduce the levels of concentrated
poverty that existed before. So I would just like to underline
what Bruce Katz was saying and that is that we do have
evidence that moving families to lower poverty neighborhoods
and school districts can have significant positive effects."
Wilson was referring to his fellow panelist on The News Hour,
Bruce Katz, who was chief of staff for the Department of
Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration.
According to Katz, to build " a competitive healthy and viable city,"
we need "to break up the concentrations of poverty, to break up
those federal enclaves of poverty which existed in the city and
to really give these low income residents more choice and
opportunity." Finally, it becomes clear what Katz is driving at:

"I think the city will be smaller and I'm not sure if that's the
worst thing in the world. I think we have an opportunity here
to have a win-win. I think we have an opportunity to build
a very different kind of city, a city with a much greater mix
of incomes. And, at the same time, we have the opportunity,
if we have the right principles and we have the right tools to
give many of those low income families the ability to live in
neighborhoods, whether in the city, whether in the suburbs,
whether in other parts of the state or in other parts of the
country, live in neighborhoods where they have access to
good schools, safe streets and quality jobs." (Italics ours.)

Stripped of its varnish, what Wilson and Katz are proposing
is a resettlement program that will result in a "smaller" New
Orleans that is depleted of its poverty population.

This is not all. Together with Xavier Briggs, a sociologist and
urban planner at MIT, Wilson posted a petition on the listserve
of the Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological
Association, under the title "Moving to Opportunity in the
Wake of Hurricane Katrina." After some hand wringing about
the terrible impact of Katrina, we're presented with the silver

"… our goal for these low-income displaced persons, most
of whom are racial minorities, should be to create a 'move
to opportunity.'" Of course, this is followed by the necessary
caveat: "we do not seek to depopulate the city of its historically
black communities," et cetera, et cetera. But the main thrust
of the petition touts "a growing body of research" that
demonstrates the "significant positive effects" of "mobility
programs" that break up "concentrated poverty." By happy
coincidence, Briggs has just published an edited volume,
The Geography of Opportunity, with a foreword by William
Julius Wilson, which promotes such mobility programs.

The dangerous, reactionary implications of a government-sponsored
resettlement program were apparently not evident to the 200-plus
signatories, which include some of the most prominent names in
American social science: First on the list was William Julius Wilson,
followed by Christopher Jencks, Lawrence Katz, David Ellwood,
Herbert Gans, Todd Gitlin, Alejandro Portes, Katherine Newman,
Jennifer Hochschild, Sheldon Danziger, Mary Jo Bane, to mention
some of the names on just the first of ten pages of signatories.
With these luminaries at the head of the petition, given their
unimpeachable liberal credentials, scores of urban specialists
flocked to add their names. But how is the position laid out in
the measured language of the petition different from the one
expressed by Barbara Bush, Rep. Richard Baker, and David Brooks?
This is a relocation scheme, pure and simple. Of course, the
petition was careful to stipulate that this was a voluntary program,
leaving people with a "choice" to return to New Orleans or to
relocate elsewhere. However, as these anointed policy experts
surely know, the ultimate outcome hinges on what policies
are enacted. If public housing and affordable housing in New
Orleans are not rebuilt, if rent subsidies are withheld, then
what "choice" do people have but to relocate elsewhere?
certain result will be "a smaller and stronger New Orleans,"
depleted of its poverty population.

Already public officials are crowing about the "new" New
Orleans. According to a recent article in the New York Times,
"the bullets and drugs and the fear are gone now, swept away
by Hurricane Katrina, along with the dealers and gangs and
most of the people." Step forward another credentialed expert,
Peter Scharf, executive director of the Center for Society,
Law and Justice at the University of New Orleans. Hurricane
Katrina, Scharf exults, "was one of the greatest crime-control
tools ever deployed against a high-crime city," sweeping away,
by his estimate, as many as 20,000 participants in the drug
culture before the storm.

Here we see the first problem of the "moving to opportunity"
discourse. It is a throwback to the crude environmental
determinism of the Jacob Riis era, which equated urban
pathology with the urban environment, and assumed that
a more salubrious environment – more commodious housing,
playgrounds, and clean streets – would provide a panacea
for the "ills of the city." One Progressive Era book began with
the instructive story about a lamppost that had been the site
of a rash of suicides. Alas, the authorities removed the lamppost,
and poof, the suicides ceased! Does anyone doubt that New
Orleans' drug trade will not reestablish itself elsewhere?

On closer examination, the campaign against "concentrated
poverty" is a scheme for making poverty invisible. The policy is
based on an anti-urban bias that is as frivolous as it is deep-
seated, as though the romanticized small towns across the
nation are not plagued with the litany of "urban" problems.
Wherever there is chronic joblessness and poverty, and no
matter its color, there are high rates of crime, alcoholism, drugs,
school dropouts, domestic violence, and mental health issues,
especially among the poor youth who pass up the option
to rescue themselves by joining the army and fighting America's
imperial wars. To echo C. Wright Mills, when poverty is spread
thin, then these behaviors can be dismissed as individual
aberrations stemming from moral blemishes, rather than
a problem of society demanding political action.

Besides, what kind of policy simply moves the poor into
somebody else's back yard, without addressing the root
causes of poverty itself, and in the process disrupts the
personal networks and community bonds of these indigent
people? Contrary to the claim of the petition, the "careful
studies" that have evaluated the "moving to opportunity"
programs report very mixed results, and why should one
think otherwise? Unless the uprooted families are provided
with jobs and opportunities that are the sine qua non
of stable families and communities, "move to opportunity"
is only a spurious theory and an empty slogan.

This brings attention to two other fatal flaws in the logic
of "moving to opportunity" policy. It is based on a demonized
image of the reprobate poor, who make trouble for themselves
and others. Yes, the drug dealers are swept out of the 9th
ward, but so are countless others, often single mothers
with children, with an extended kin network of siblings,
aunts, uncles, cousins, and that heroic grandmother, who
indeed have deep roots in the communities from which they
are being evicted. How is it that this Gang of 200, from their
ivory towers and gilded offices, presume to speak for the poor?
Tossing in a caveat to the effect that "we do not seek to depopulate
the city or its historically black communities" must be read literally.
They want only to depopulate the city of concentrated poverty,
and they will leave intact middle-class black communities that
will insulate them from charges of racism.

The great fallacy of the "moving to opportunity" programs is that,
by definition, they reach only a small percentage of the poverty
population (and typically those who are both motivated and
qualified to participate in the program). Left behind are masses
to fend for themselves, particularly since the "moving to opportunity"
programs are themselves used as an excuse to disinvest in these
poor black communities that are written off as beyond redemption.
Moving to opportunity becomes a perverse euphemism for policy
abdication of the poor people left behind who are in desperate
need of programs, services, and jobs.

Here, finally, is what is most sinister and myopic about the
"moving to opportunity" concept. It is not part of a comprehensive
policy to attack poverty and racism: to rid the United States
of impoverished ghettos that pockmark the national landscape.
Rather the policy is enacted in places where poor blacks occupy
valuable real estate, as was the case for Cabrini Green in Chicago.
After Cabrini Green was imploded, and its displaced residents
sent off with Section 8s, median sales prices of single-unit
homes in the vicinity soared from $138,000 to $700,000 during
the 1980s, and the area lost 7,000 African Americans and gained
4,000 whites. It is only a matter of time before we read upbeat
news accounts about the gentrifying neighborhoods surrounding
the Vieux Carré.

What is perhaps saddest and most reprehensible about the
petition of the Gang of 200 is the solipsistic arrogance on which
it rests. This initiative comes at a time when ACORN and other
advocacy groups and grassroots activists in New Orleans have
championed "the right of return" for even its poorest citizens
displaced by Katrina. According to the National Low Income
Housing Coalition, over 140,000 units of housing were
destroyed, the majority of them affordable for low-income
families. But the Housing Authority of New Orleans has shut
down its public-housing operations, and informed landlords
of people assisted by federal rent vouchers that government
rent subsidies for impacted units have been suspended
indefinitely. According to Mike Howells, an organizer with
a local human rights group, "sensing an opportunity to
enhance the fortunes of real estate interests and to dump
a form of public assistance that mainly benefits poor working
class locals, Washington and local authorities are using
Hurricane Katrina as a pretext for effectively gutting
government subsidized housing in New Orleans."

Sure enough, the key player on Mayor Nagin's "Bring New
Orleans Back Commission" is Joe Canizaro, a billionaire
local developer and one of President Bush's "pioneers," i.e.,
individuals who raised at least $100,000 for the Bush
presidential campaign. The commission initially retained
the Urban Land Institute--a real estate development
industry organization on whose board Canizaro sits--
to propose a framework for pursuing reconstruction.
Unsurprisingly, that proposal called for a form of market-
based triage. It recommended that reconstruction efforts
should be focused in proportion to areas' market value and
further suggested that rebuilding of New Orleans East and
the Lower Ninth Ward be deferred indefinitely. What else
could we have expected? Asking such an outfit how to
rebuild a devastated city is like asking a fox how to
organize a chicken coop.

As we write, the fate of displaced poor New Orleanians
is more precarious than ever. FEMA has terminated rent
payments for thousands. Only 20 of the 117 public schools
that existed before the hurricane are operating, and 17 of
those 20 have opened as charter schools. The school board
laid off all the teachers and staff months ago – so much
for concerns about poverty. Most of the city remains empty,
eerily quiet and covered with a gray, filmy residue that shows
how high floodwaters were in each neighborhood. And the
eerie quiet underscores the colossal failure of government
at all levels to propose a plan for the hundreds of thousands
of people who have been dislocated for six months and counting.

Tellingly, the outrage that Canizaro and the Urban Land Institute's
proposal sparked among working-class homeowners only
reinforced poor people's marginalization. The relevant unit
of protest against the ULI plan, its moral center, became
home ownership. But what of the tens of thousands who weren't
homeowners before Katrina? Who is factoring their interests into
the equation? Did Barbara Bush speak for history, ratified by the
policy circle at Harvard, when she said, "So many of the people
in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so
this, this is working very well for them."

The Gang of 200's petition reproduces and reinforces this
disregard for the idea that poor people may have, or deserve
to have, emotional attachments to a place they consider home.
This is one way in which the stereotype of the "urban underclass"
--which Wilson in particular has done so much to legitimize-
-is insidious: it defines poor people's lives as only objects for
"our" administration (and just who makes up the circle of "we"
anyway?). It effectively divests the poor of civic voice, thus
reprising 19th century republican treatment of those without
property as ineligible for full citizenship.

We are braced for the counterattack from the Gang of 200. First,
they will howl about the obvious differences between Indian removal
and the Negro removal that they advocate. We are more struck
by the similarities. Naivete and hubris can go hand-in-hand.
Wilson et. al. rushed to tout their silly pet idea without a whit's
thought of the social, political, and economic dynamics and
tensions that might be at play in the debate over how to
reconstruct New Orleans. Their sole proviso is the lame
reassurance that the city's distinctive diversity should be
preserved. They gave no thought that Republicans might link
the city's repopulation to their desire to gut Democratic power
in New Orleans and move Louisiana into the column of reliably
Republican states. They apparently also failed to consider the
potential that their idée fixe would play into the hands of real
estate development interests and others who relish any opportunity
to dissipate New Orleans's black electoral majority. Such talk
began well before the floodwaters began to recede.

Recently, a politically connected white lawyer in the city
remarked that Katrina provided an opportunity to rebuild
a smaller, quainter New Orleans, more like Charleston.
(Charleston, of course, has an ample poor black servant class
for its tourist economy, but a white electoral majority.) And
speaking of Charleston, a low-income housing project near
downtown was condemned and razed after Hurricane Hugo
in 1989 because the flood and storm surge supposedly had
rendered the land on which it stood too toxic to afford human
habitation. The site subsequently became home to the aquarium,
a key node in the Charleston's tourist redevelopment. Rumors
abound that luxury condos may also now be in the works
for the site.

Next, the Gang of 200 will accuse us of defending segregated
housing and opposing their proposal to integrate blacks into
mixed income and mixed race neighborhoods. This does
not withstand even a moment's scrutiny. Without doubt,
many poor black people aspire to move to a "better
neighborhood," and they should have the option to do so.
If the Gang of 200 were serious about helping them, first
on their policy agenda would be a proposal for massive
enforcement of existing laws against housing discrimination,
in order to drive a wedge through the wall of white segregation.
The problem here is that relocation is being enacted through
a state-sponsored resettlement policy, and notwithstanding
promises for "traditional support services," these poor families
(and not all of them are poor!), will be relocated in poor,
segregated neighborhoods. The only certain outcome is
that New Orleans will be depleted of its poor black population
in neighborhoods that are ripe for development.

It is astounding that the Gang of 200 do not see the expropriation
of poor neighborhoods and the violation of human rights. And
they remain strangely oblivious of their potential for playing into
the hands of the retrograde political forces that would use their
call to justify displacement. Well-intentioned, respectable scholars
as they are, they live no less than anyone else within a political
culture shaped largely by class experience and perception. And
the poverty research industry, of which Wilson is an avatar and
leading light, has been predicated for decades on the premise
that poor people are defective, incapable of knowing their own
best interests, that they are solely objects of social policy, never
its subjects. Worst of all, they provide liberal cover for those
who have already put a resettlement policy into motion that is
reactionary and racist at its core.

Adolph Reed is a noted author and professor of political science
at the University of Pennsylvania. He was Co-Chair of the Chicago
Jobs With Justice Education Committee. He serves on the board
of Public Citizen, Inc. and is a member of the Interim National
Council of the Labor Party, and national co-chair of the Labor
Party's campaign for Free Higher Education. Prof. Reed can be
contacted at

Stephen Steinberg teaches in the Urban Studies Department
at Queens College. His most recent book Turning Back: The
Retreat from Racial Justice in American Thought and Policy
received the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished
Anti-Racist Scholarship. In addition to his scholarly publications,
he is a frequent contributor New Politics.
Email at

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10) Our Sick Society
May 5, 2006

Is being an American bad for your health? That's the apparent
implication of a study just published in The Journal of the
American Medical Association.

It's not news that something is very wrong with the state of America's
health. International comparisons show that the United States has
achieved a sort of inverse miracle: we spend much more per person
on health care than any other nation, yet we have lower life
expectancy and higher infant mortality than Canada, Japan
and most of Europe.

But it isn't clear exactly what causes this stunningly poor performance.
How much of America's poor health is the result of our failure,
unique among wealthy nations, to guarantee health insurance
to all? How much is the result of racial and class divisions? How
much is the result of other aspects of the American way of life?

The new study, "Disease and Disadvantage in the United States
and in England," doesn't resolve all of these questions. Yet it
offers strong evidence that there's something about American
society that makes us sicker than we should be.

The authors of the study compared the prevalence of such
diseases as diabetes and hypertension in Americans 55 to 64
years old with the prevalence of the same diseases in a
comparable group in England. Comparing us with the English
isn't a choice designed to highlight American problems: Britain
spends only about 40 percent as much per person on health
care as the United States, and its health care system is generally
considered inferior to those of neighboring countries, especially
France. Moreover, England isn't noted either for healthy eating
or for a healthy lifestyle.

Nonetheless, the study concludes that "Americans are much
sicker than the English." For example, middle-age Americans
are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes as their English
counterparts. That's a striking finding in itself.

What's even more striking is that being American seems to
damage your health regardless of your race and social class.

That's not to say that class is irrelevant. (The researchers
excluded racial effects by restricting the study to non-Hispanic
whites.) In fact, there's a strong correlation within each country
between wealth and health. But Americans are so much sicker
that the richest third of Americans is in worse health than
the poorest third of the English.

So what's going on? Lack of health insurance is surely a factor
in the poor health of lower-income Americans, who are often
uninsured, while everyone in England receives health care from
the government. But almost all upper-income Americans have

What about bad habits, which the study calls "behavioral risk
factors"? The stereotypes are true: the English are much more
likely to be heavy drinkers, and Americans much more likely
to be obese. But a statistical analysis suggests that bad habits
are only a fraction of the story.

In the end, the study's authors seem baffled by the poor health
of even relatively well-off Americans. But let me suggest
a couple of possible explanations.

One is that having health insurance doesn't ensure good health
care. For example, a New York Times report on diabetes pointed
out that insurance companies are generally unwilling to pay for
care that might head off the disease, even though they are willing
to pay for the extreme measures, like amputations, that become
necessary when prevention fails. It's possible that Britain's National
Health Service, in spite of its limited budget, actually provides
better all-around medical care than our system because it takes
a broader, longer-term view than private insurance companies.

The other possibility is that Americans work too hard and
experience too much stress. Full-time American workers work,
on average, about 46 weeks per year; full-time British, French
and German workers work only 41 weeks a year. I've pointed out
in the past that our workaholic economy is actually more destructive
of the "family values" we claim to honor than the European economies
in which regulations and union power have led to shorter working hours.

Maybe overwork, together with the stress of living in an economy
with a minimal social safety net, damages our health as well as our
families. These are just suggestions. What we know for sure is that
although the American way of life may be, as Ari Fleischer famously
proclaimed back in 2001, "a blessed one," there's something about
that way of life that is seriously bad for our health.


11) Students, Activists Bike to Bechtel Int'l Headquarters,
Shut Down Building for 45 Minutes
By Lacy MacAuley

Students and activists biked to Bechtel Corp's international
headquarters today [May 4, 2006] to say, "No more oil wars,
and no more wars for corporate greed!" Following a rally
to expose Bechtel's corrupt and immoral behavior, a noisy
bike ride and march circled the building. Organizers of the
event then attempted to enter the building to make an
appointment to speak with CEO Riley Bechtel, resulting
in a 45-minute lockdown of the building, with no Bechtel
employees being let in or out.

A group of students, activists, and concerned citizens
converged on Bechtel today by bicycle and on foot to say,
"No more oil wars, and no more wars for corporate greed!"
Following a rally then a bike ride and march to circle Bechtel,
eight individuals then peacefully and politely caused
a 45-minute lockdown of Bechtel's main offices at
50 Beale St, beginning at approximately 2:15 PM and
ending past 3:00 PM.

Speakers at the rally addressed Bechtel's exploitation
of the Third World, involvement in nuclear test sites, and
dubious insider connections to the Bush Administration.
These ties include Bechtel CEO Riley Bechtel's position
on the President's Export Council, Bechtel board member
and senior consultant George Schultz's position as Chairman
of the influential Committee for the Liberation of Iraq,
and Bechtel Senior VP Jack Sheehan's Pentagon-appointed
position on the Defense Policy Board. Through connections
such as these, Bechtel executives helped to orchestrate
the invasion of Iraq and Bechtel is profiting from the war
and occupation.

Speakers also highlighted Bechtel's role in water privatization,
such as its attempt to privatize water in Cochabamba, Bolivia,
which resulted in massive protests which drove Bechtel out
of Bolivia. (Bechtel later sued.) They also pointed out that
Iraqis want to rebuild their own cities and their own
infrastructure, and that we should let them do it.

Cyclists and marchers then circled the building, making
noise and raising their voices against Bechtel, corporate greed,
and wars fought for corporate profit. Colorful flags and signs
demanded, "Bechtel out of Iraq!"

Speakers at the rally included Chelsea Cologne, Livermore
Labs organizer; Will Parish, organizer of the August 6 and 9
international days of action against Bechtel; Michael Hoffman,
Students Against War SFSU; and Julia Waters, United Students
for Global Justice at City College; and Lacy MacAuley, Students
Against War SFSU and Campus Antiwar Network.

Students from City College and San Francisco State University
began their bike ride at 12 noon, cycling from SFSU, through
the City College campus, through the Mission District and on
to Bechtel. They arrived at Bechtel's International Headquarters
at 50 Beale Street, next to the Embarcadero BART station,
at about 1:30 PM.


Following the bike ride and march, Lacy MacAuley, one organizer
of the event, which was called "Biking to Bechtel," announced that
she intended to go inside the building to seek an appointment
to speak with CEO Riley Bechtel, inviting any attendees of the
event to join her if they wished. Many attendees went home
at that point, and several stayed in front of the building.

Eight individuals, consisting of five female students, two female
seniors, and a young man in a business suit, left all signs, flags,
and bicycles at the rally site and walked to the south entrance at
45 Fremont St, the second of two buildings that stand "back to
back" and house Bechtel's offices. They entered the building,
and asked the front desk if they could make an appointment
with CEO Riley Bechtel. They were then asked to wait, and
eventually told by security that they could not be in the building
if they did not have an appointment. The head security woman
told the group that they must go to the offices at 50 Beale St
to make an appointment.

The group then walked to the south entrance of 50 Beale St
and attempted to enter, finding the doors locked. Security
personnel were just inside the glass doors and did not make
eye contact when the group politely spoke through the glass
and asked to enter. The lobby of 50 Beale St contained a front
desk and turnstiles. Employees gained access to elevator
corridors and therefore the upper floors of the building
through electronically-coded name badges.

The group then calmly walked to the north entrance, seeing
that that entrance was still open. When they arrived they found
the doors locked, but noticed that the south entrance was
now open. One student and one senior then walked to the
south entrance. When they arrived they found these doors
had again been locked. So individuals in the group casually
waited at both entrances.

Security personnel responded with a complete lockdown of
the building. According to one of the outdoor security persons,
this response is apparently a standard one when "protestors"
are present. They did not allow employees, delivery personnel,
or individuals with other business inside the building to enter
or exit. Many employees of the building began accumulating
in the elevator corridors visible just inside. Many walked up
to the building and, finding it locked, decided to take a walk
and do some errands. Others became aggravated that they
could not enter the building, making gestures at the security

At least one employee in the building had also participated
in the rally and bike ride around the building. He was forced
to wait outside the building with everyone else.

The group of eight on both sides of the building explained
to employees that they wished only to make an appointment
with CEO Riley Bechtel, and that the response was an
overreaction of security since we meant only to conduct
valid business within the building.

Finally, after the building had been on complete lockdown
for 45 minutes, security personnel gave in to the demands
of building employees and opened one small door on the
north side and began letting through individuals who had
name badges. Students on the north side asked to enter
so that they could make an appointment, but were denied entry.

The group then reconvened with others who had been waiting
in support at the rally site. Many cyclists then rode away down
Mission Street, chanting, "Si se puede! We shut down Bechtel today!"


12) Statistics Aside, Many Feel Pinch of Daily Costs
May 6, 2006

BRANDON, Fla., May 2 — As a rule, when Americans feel financially
pinched, the causes are clear: high unemployment, soaring interest
rates, depressed home values and a wilting stock market.

But many Americans now say they are feeling squeezed in the
absence of these factors. Their concerns are instead centered on
a combination of high gasoline prices, creeping insurance costs
and the pressure of a large number of adjustable-rate mortgages,
now jumping to market rates, that helped to fuel one of the largest
housing booms in American history.

Though they may not fear for their jobs or worry about long-range
financial health — national polls show a general satisfaction with
the economy — their kitchen-counter economy is an increasing
source of everyday anxiety.

In Brandon and other suburbs of Tampa, where gas prices are
among the highest in the nation and home insurance rates have
risen since last summer's hurricanes, residents say they have had
all they can take.

"We're really worried about a lot of things," said Nancy Tuttle,
co-owner of a vending machine business in the suburbs here.
"The cost of gas, the cost of house insurance, the cost of medical
insurance, it's just everything."

The increase in prices, particularly of gasoline, is taking a political
toll on President Bush, even in a Republican area like these suburbs.
A recent nationwide CBS News poll found that only 33 percent
of those surveyed approved of Mr. Bush's job performance and
that 74 percent disapproved of his handling of the gasoline issue.

"We went from totally believing in Bush to really having our doubts,"
said Wayne Toomey, who owns a house with Ms. Tuttle in the nearby
suburb of Parrish. "It comes down to his lack of care about gas prices."

Ms. Tuttle, 51, and Mr. Toomey, 58, have each gotten smaller cars
and have cut some household costs. "It's a total struggle," said
Mr. Toomey, who owns the vending machine business with Ms. Tuttle.
"You would have to have your head in the sand to think things are
going well in the United States."

Further, millions of Americans who have financed their homes with
adjustable-rate short-term mortgages — some of which require
interest-only payments — are starting to see their monthly payments
rise as low introductory rates expire and market rates kick in.

"I just cringe every time I get that bill," said Mindi Davis, 35, who
took out an adjustable-rate second mortgage two years ago for the
home she shares with her husband and two children here. The bill,
which was $100 a month in May 2004, is now $219 a month and
climbing. "I anticipated an increase," Mrs. Davis said, "just not this
much that quickly."

Brian Wrage, who lives in Tampa, said he had begun to unload his
investment properties in part because of the adjustable-rate
mortgages attached to them. "My second mortgage on one
property started at 5.7, and by the time we sold it three years
later it was 9.9," Mr. Wrage said. "It was eye-opening:
adjustable rate means up."

The rising costs have contributed to a 38 percent increase
nationally in home foreclosures in the first quarter of this year
over the same period in 2005. Florida had the second-largest
number of foreclosures in the nation during that period —
29,636 — behind Texas, which had 40,236. Of the Florida
foreclosures, 195 were in Brandon.

"Normally, nothing is a better predictor of foreclosures than
high unemployment and credit card delinquencies," said Rick
Sharga, a vice president of RealtyTrac Inc., an online foreclosure
marketplace, which tracked the foreclosure data. "But what
most people are talking about isn't any of that now. We think
adjustable-rate increases coupled with a slowdown in the price
appreciation and the demand of houses is why we are starting
to see a fairly significant increase in the foreclosure rates
generally now."

Foreclosure rates have been at historic lows since 2002 because
of low interest rates and high housing demand. But soaring
home prices and flat wages are now causing trouble for many
families, especially those who took out below-market introductory
mortgages a few years ago and are now paying the piper.

This is true even in a place like Hillsborough County, which
includes Tampa and most of its suburbs, where the unemployment
rate trails the national average, job growth remains strong and
business costs are among the lowest in the nation.

Further, following a requirement three years ago by the federal
comptroller of the currency to raise minimum monthly payments
on credit cards, some banks have recently gone as far as
to double those payments.

"People who are living beyond their means are going to have
a harder time making ends meet than ever in history,"
Mr. Sharga said.

[Economic data released Friday showed that hourly wages had
risen slightly faster than inflation over the last year, though they
have basically matched the inflation rate since 2002. Although the
consumer confidence index compiled by the Conference Board
reached a four-year high last week, other polls, including one
released by Ipsos on Friday, showed confidence sinking.]

And then there is the story of gasoline, which in Florida now
averages $3 to $3.45 a gallon.

"I don't even like my job, but I can't face lowering my pay" because
of rising gas costs, said Nia Baker, 37, who sells home health
products. "I used to fill my car up once a week for $25, and
now I fill up twice a week for $40. I feel like the economy
is pretty bad, the way these gas prices are going up. "

Denise Meicher, 50, gets by on her pension from a former
career and her job as a customer service specialist. But high
gasoline prices have caused her to curtail her activities and
close her pocketbook a bit more.

"It is 60 miles round trip to visit my family," Ms. Meicher said.
"It costs me a half a tank of gas and maybe $15 when it used
to be $8. I give it a second thought now when the family says,
'Let's do this or that.' We are real close, but now I feel like I am
saying 'yes' maybe two out of every three times these days."

Gasoline prices also have a ripple effect. Debi Martinez said
her husband's homebuilding business had been hurt as contractors
passed on costs.

"The guy who does his septic tank wants $500 more because of
gas prices," said Ms. Martinez, 49. "There was a $75 increase
on the man who does the wallboard. We are no longer
a seller's market."

In Florida, insurance companies have increased rates as much
as 40 percent in coastal areas, after a bruising hurricane season
in 2005 left many insurers liable for billions of dollars in claims.
Residents in other states have also been affected; in New York,
Allstate recently said it would drop 28,000 policyholders in eight
counties, citing risk.

"Our homeowner's insurance went up $400 a year within the last
year due to the hurricanes," Ms. Baker said.

Not everyone, however, sees the same shadow over their personal
economy. Steve Adams was a rare bird in the strip mall here,
a person who thinks people should stop complaining about gasoline
prices, which have been high in other countries for years, and about
mortgages that are attached to homes that have soared in value.

"The key thing about this area is there is a lot of opportunity," said
Mr. Adams, who is a project manager in an accounting firm and lives
with his wife and two small children. "The job market here is great,
the costs are relatively low, and my property value has gone up
$100,000. Compared to the European economy, where gas prices
have also been sky high, well, welcome to the whole world."


13) Putting Hunger Out of Business
by Tommi Avicolli Mecca
originally published in

When I was a kid in catholic school in South Philly,
the nuns occasionally instructed us to bring in an
item or two of nonperishable food for the poor. The
various cans and boxes would be packed up and shipped
off to who knows where, probably India or Africa.
That’s where the poorest and hungriest people lived.
There were no hungry people in our neighborhood. After
all, the church had a gold tabernacle and marble
altars, not to mention huge stained-glass windows. The
priests and nuns lived well. Then why did my family
have so little? Papa and my Uncle Jack ran their own
business, a small Sunoco gas station two blocks from
where we lived. It didn’t bring in much. Mama made due
with what Papa gave her.

For years I wore my brothers’ hand-me-downs. I hated
those old out-of-style jackets and pants that were too
large for my smaller frame. No matter how much Mama
adjusted them with her old sewing machine, they always
looked too baggy. When they tore, they were patched up
some more. I felt like a hobo. But as long as I
brought my nonperishable or two into class, everything
would be fine with the world. Hunger was on its way
out. Year after year I faithfully carried those cans
to school. I asked a priest in high school how many
food drives we had to do before hunger finally
disappeared, but he didn’t answer. We’re still doing
food drives. Saturday, May 13 is the latest one. It’s
sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service and the National
Association of Letter Carriers. On that day, Americans
are being asked to leave a bag of nonperishables by
their mailboxes. Last year, we left 7 million pounds
of food for the hungry.

It didn’t end hunger. Hunger can’t be ended by food
drives. It is a product of the unequal distribution of
money and resources. Here in America, it is people
having to choose between the mortgage payment and a
meal. It’s a sudden healthcare emergency that wipes
out a family’s savings and plunges them into debt.
It’s a minimum wage job that barely pays for the rent.
It’s children going to school without lunch money.
It’s seniors on fixed incomes skipping a few meals to
pay the monthly heating bill or buy lifesaving
medications. It’s a million other circumstances that
all boil down to the same thing: Some people have a
lot and most of us don’t. Some people get to own the
means of production and enslave the rest of us in
low-paying jobs. Without national healthcare and with
a scarcity of affordable housing, America is a country
of working people who are one pay check away from
homelessness. According to “Hunger in America 2006,” a
study conducted for America’s Second Harvest, the
national network of food banks, only 12% of the hungry
are homeless while 36.4% are children under 18. Ten
percent are seniors. Not surprisingly 68% of the
hungry have incomes below the federal poverty level.
Racially, “non-Hispanic whites” and “non-Hispanic
blacks” are equally represented among the hungry, with
40% and 38% respectively. Hunger is an equal
opportunity employer. It’s time to put hunger out of
business. While food drives and free meals programs
help to relieve hunger on a daily basis, they do not
end it.

Ending hunger means ending poverty. And that means no
more business as usual. Permanently affordable
housing, such as community land trusts and limited
equity co-ops, would have to be the national standard.
All jobs would have to pay a living wage (at present
that means at least $12/hr.). And of course healthcare
would have to be free. If those three basic human
rights--affordable housing, free healthcare and living
wage jobs--were available to all, far fewer Americans
would go hungry.

To end hunger in America we must address the social
inequities and injustices that make people hungry in
the first place.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a radical working-class
southern Italian fag performer, writer and activist


14) UAW at Delphi gives OK to call strike
Workers give their approval for the job action if the
two sides cannot reach a pact.
By Kristin McAllister
Staff Writer

DAYTON — Nearly 400 members of the United Auto Workers
Local 696 voted Sunday to authorize their national union to call
a strike if it cannot reach a contract with Delphi Corp.

"The membership fully realizes that a strike would be devastating
to all concerned, but it has resigned itself that that probably will
happen," said Joe Buckley, president of Local 696, which represents
Delphi's Needmore Road brake plant's hourly workers.

The national UAW directed all local union offices to take a strike
authorization vote by May 14. The vote does not mean a strike
will take place. It simply gives union leaders the authority
to call a strike.

A federal bankruptcy judge in New York will hear Delphi's request
to cancel its union contracts unless the unions agree to lower-
cost contracts the auto parts company says it needs to get out
of bankruptcy reorganization.

Buckley said 98 percent of those voting supported strike

The vote came within 48 hours of Buckley's arrest on a trespassing
charge and the union's shop chairman's indefinite suspension
at the brake plant.

Buckley said union shop Chairman Tony Keen halted work where
the floor had become dirty and slippery around brake cylinder
machining equipment. The floor had not been cleaned because
janitors who normally worked there had not been replaced
by Delphi after they retired May 1. Buckley said he backed
Keen to Delphi managers and was then ordered off the premises.
When he refused to leave, Buckley said management called
Dayton police and had him arrested, handcuffed and removed
on a criminal trespassing charge. Buckley was jailed, posted
$124 bond and was ordered to appear Tuesday in Dayton
Municipal Court.

"We've always been able to work through things in the past with
respect, but anymore, it doesn't seem that way," Buckley said.

He said Delphi also placed three union bargaining representatives
on notice for being present and not turning on equipment when
Keen stopped work.

Delphi representatives could not be reached for comment.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-9338 or


15) Medieval siege of 1.4 million souls in Gaza

It might not be generally known that a humanitarian crisis is building
rapidly in Gaza. Because taxes that are due to the Palestinian
government are being withheld by Israel and financial support by the
EU has ceased, there is no money to pay public servants, including
health workers. Most have not been paid for two months, and this in a
place where over fifty percent of people live below the poverty line.
Drugs are running out. Without anaesthetic agents, for instance, it is
proposed the main public hospital in Gaza City, the Shafa, be closed.

Little or no material is being allowed through the commercial
checkpoint of Karnai at the northern border with Israel.

A medieval element has been superimposed on this economic and physical
siege. Artillery pieces have been firing shells into 'open ground' for
the last two months, and this into one of the most densely populated
areas in the world. The ostensible purpose is to quell the firing of
the primitive Qassam rockets, which have killed eleven Israeli
subjects in the last two years. On the morning of the 24th of April,
the first author heard the explosions of about sixty shells whilst he
discussed the formation of an educational medical centre with the
senior physician at the El-Wafa hospital. It is reported that over six
thousand have been fired. Life and limbs have been lost. The children
are terrified and precious homes are being damaged or destroyed.

None of these actions are justified in international law. Indeed the
opposite obtains. The EU and other nations are complicit by their
involvement, or at least by their silence.

We ask for humanity, reason and the law to prevail - immediately.

David Halpin FRCS

Eyad El-Sarraj MD

Derek Summerfield MRCPsych

Please visit our site:
Gaza Community Mental Health Programme


16) Palestinians losing link to U.S. care
Sanctions against Hamas threaten to harm program for kids,
entire medical system
Matthew Kalman, Chronicle Foreign Service
Sunday, May 7, 2006

Jerusalem -- Four-year-old Sundras Badran sat still while Dr. Mahmoud
Nashashibi, a Palestinian pediatric cardiologist, checked her heart on
an echocardiogram at the El-Mokassed Hospital in East Jerusalem.

Sundras, a Palestinian girl from the West Bank village of Anata, was
attending a clinic funded by the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, an
Ohio-based charity that treats about 2,000 critically ill children in
the Palestinian territories each year.

But even if Sundras needs cardiac surgery, the future of the
children's charity program has been thrown into doubt by U.S.
sanctions against the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority banning all
contact with Palestinian hospitals and Ministry of Health employees.

Under new guidelines issued April 12 by the Treasury Department's
Office of Foreign Asset Control, U.S. citizens and organizations must
cease all transactions with the Palestinian government, its ministries
and institutions operating under their control.

The Treasury directive noted that Hamas is classified as a terrorist
entity, and it ordered U.S. citizens to conclude all contacts with the
Palestinian Authority by Friday, unless specifically permitted to

"U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with the
Palestinian Authority unless authorized, and may not transfer, pay,
withdraw, export or otherwise deal in any assets in which the
Palestinian Authority has an interest unless authorized," the document

The order does not apply to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of
the Fatah party, or non-Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative

Steve Sosebee, founder and director of the children's charity, said
the U.S. sanctions are so stringent that he is being forced to cancel
life-saving missions by U.S. doctors.

"We bring volunteer surgeons from the U.S. to provide services in
Palestinian public hospitals, including highly sophisticated
operations like cardiac, plastic and reconstructive surgery not
available locally due to the lack of specialists," said Sosebee, an
Ohio native who first visited the West Bank as a student on a trip
organized by the Arab American Anti-Discrimination League. Although he
has no Palestinian background, he decided to form the charity to help
people in the region.

The charity ( has an active Bay Area chapter, whose
members help care for children brought here for treatment, finding
doctors, helping with translations and raising money. Sosebee hopes to
bring a young girl from Gaza to be treated by Raymond Rendon, a San
Jose specialist in eye prosthetics, later this month. She lost an eye
during an Israeli missile strike, when the car in which she was riding
happened to be alongside one carrying Islamic Jihad militants.

Usually the charity sends doctors to Gaza and the West Bank, rather
than flying patients elsewhere for treatment. Last month, for example,
it brought Dr. Ziad Saba, a pediatric cardiologist from Oakland, to
Beirut for a week to treat children living in Palestinian refugee
camps in Lebanon.

Saba said he had already been to Jerusalem and Ramallah six times, but
this was his first visit to Lebanon.

"I've gotten donations of equipment and gone to Jerusalem to do cases
there for Palestinians who would not have access to that kind of
care," he said. "We also train the local physicians there to do it by
themselves. In the Palestinian territories, those patients are
languishing. The majority would not have care. It's not an
exaggeration to say that Steve and his organization are
single-handedly providing cardiac care for most Palestinian children.

"It's great for me because they are really good people. I come from a
Palestinian background, and I've always wanted to do something to help
that's really black and white, with no politics involved," Saba said.

Sosebee said of the fund's approach, "It's better for the children not
to leave their families, and taking family members along makes it very
expensive. We get more bang for the buck bringing the doctors here,
and we get the added benefit of local physicians working alongside
them and learning from them."

The $500,000 or so that the charity raises annually pays for plane
flights, accommodations and hospital services. Doctors donate their
services, and some pay their own travel expenses. Some, including
Saba, bring donated equipment with them. As a result, Sosebee said,
the relief fund is able to provide medical services for far less than
the $40 million to $50 million doctors and hospitals would normally
charge for such services.

But for Sosebee's charity and patients like 4-year-old Sundras, the
sanctions could be a deathblow.

Nashashibi, an East Jerusalem physician whose clinic helps identify
candidates for treatment by visiting surgeons, said not just his own
patients would be affected by the U.S.-led sanctions.

"If this goes on more than a couple of weeks, the health care system
will collapse in Palestine," he said. "The health care issue should be
viewed differently from the political question of Hamas."

At the government hospital in Ramallah, the work of the children's
charity is well-known and deeply appreciated.

"For the last five years, Steve has sent two or three teams every year
to carry out pediatric surgery," said Dr. Husni Atari, the hospital
director. "They come and deal with 25 to 30 cases in a week. We only
have one cardiac surgeon here, so we do not have enough time to
perform pediatric surgery."

"Steve should be exempt from these sanctions," he said. "The American
government should not stop doctors coming from the U.S. to perform
surgery on critically ill patients. This has nothing to do with

Atari said the sanctions not only would end the Palestine Children's
Relief Fund program here, but also threaten to shut down the entire
Palestinian health system.

He said Ramallah Hospital -- the main referral hospital for all of the
West Bank -- is running out of medicines, sterile dressings and other
disposable items. Western donors had helped pay for salaries, medicine
and equipment, but now those funds have stopped. None of the 346
doctors, nurses and ancillary staff has received salaries since

They are not alone. The Palestinian Authority government is bankrupt
and has been unable to pay March or April salaries to its 167,000
civil servants, affecting about one-quarter of the 4 million

Palestinian Finance Minister Omar Abdel Razek told parliament last
month that the new government was saddled with debts of $1.3 billion
from the previous Fatah administration, had no cash reserves and was
rapidly running out of credit with the banks. He said the financial
crisis has been caused by massive overspending by the previous
government and the decision of Israel, the European Union and other
donor states to cut off tax transfers and financial support as long as
Hamas is in control.

Israel suspended about $950 million in payments of customs and taxes,
which it is supposed to transfer each year to the Palestinian
Authority for goods and services conducted through Israel. The EU
suspended about $600 million in annual direct budgetary assistance.

For hospital director Husni Atari, that means disaster is just around
the corner: "So far, the sanctions have had no effect. The doctors and
other staff are still coming to work, even though they have not been
paid. Soon they will have no money to get to the hospital. When I look
at my storage cupboards, I see things are in danger of collapse. If
this goes on, we will have to close."

Atari said he has worked at the hospital since 1974. His salary at
that time was paid by the Israeli occupation forces. In 1994, the
hospital was transferred to Palestinian control, and he was paid by
the Palestinian Authority. Now, Hamas is in charge. He said it makes
no difference.

"I worked under the Israeli occupation, under Fatah and now under
Hamas," Atari said. "I am a physician. I don't care who is the
government paying my salary or the running costs of the hospital. We
don't discriminate between patients. We treat anyone, regardless of
their religion or nationality. I don't feel it is right that our
patients are being discriminated against because of the political view
of the government. We have become the victims of politics."

At the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the outlook is bleak. Dr. Anan
Masri, a pediatric cardiologist who has been deputy minister of health
for the past 18 months under both Fatah and Hamas governments, said
supplies were running so low, he had immediate fears for the lives of
800 dialysis patients.

"We are in a life-threatening situation. We are trying to make those
patients survive," said Masri. "Dialysis requires special solutions to
clean the blood, and we need 3,000 units per month. We are almost at
zero point. If a patient misses two sessions, they will die. Unless we
get new supplies within one week, we are definitely going to start
losing patients."

He said the Ministry of Health was allocated 7 percent of the budget
by the last government, and needed $4.5 million every month just to
cover operating costs, plus salaries for 12,500 civil servants,
including the medical staff. He said new appointments had been frozen
and retirees were not being replaced.

"The Americans say they are not cutting humanitarian aid, but the
Ministry of Health provides health care for more than 80 percent of
the population," Masri said. "I am sure the American people are not
well aware about the Palestinian situation. We have an emergency here.
It is like a war -- but even worse, because the people do not
understand why the situation is so bad when it seems to them like an
ordinary day."


Indocumentados y sus jefes caen en redada
NACIONALES - 05/10/2006

Clash Foreseen Between C.I.A. and Pentagon
WASHINGTON, May 9 — President Bush's selection of Gen. Michael
V. Hayden to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency
sets the stage for new wrangling with the Pentagon, which is rapidly
expanding its own global spying and terrorist-tracking operations,
both long considered C.I.A. roles.
May 10, 2006

FOCUS | Dahr Jamail: All of Us Participate in a New Iraq
"It is only when more people in the US begin to fathom the totality of
the destruction in Iraq," writes Dahr Jamail, "that one may expect to
hear the public outcry and uprising necessary to end the occupation and
bring to justice the war criminals responsible for these conditions.
Until that happens, make no mistake: all of us participate in a new Iraq,
our hands dyed in the blood of innocents."

Trapped between the Wall and Israeli Military Checkpoints,
Thaher Al Abed village In a Hell
JENIN, Palestine, May 8,2005 (IPC+ Agencies) - -More than 500
populations in the ghetto of tiny village Thaher Al Bed are facing
devastating reality of permanent loss of their lands by the Apartheid
Wall. Cut of from the rest of the West Bank and their fields, they
were being trapped between the Apartheid wall and the Israeli
military checkpoints.
May 8, 2006

Defend Joe Buckley, president of Local 696! Defend Delphi workers
right to a safe work place!
"The crisis at Delphi will not be settled in the courts, it will be
settled in the streets"
May 9
Send GM/Delphi a Strong Message We are Ready to Strike!
Joe Buckley, president of Local 696 which represents the brake
plant's hourly workers, said Delphi placed union shop chairman
Tony Keen on indefinite suspension Friday and could later fire Keen.
Delphi has not replaced janitors who retired May 1, and union
members complained the floor had become dirty and slippery
around brake cylinder machining equipment, Buckley said Saturday.
After Keen asked management on Thursday to have the floor
cleaned and received what he thought was an inadequate
response, Keen directed union workers to stop work in that
area, Buckley said.  Working on a dirty, slippery floor,  around
dangerous machinery,  creates very unsafe working conditions.
Buckley, who maintains an office inside the plant, said Delphi's
management told him on Friday to leave the premises. Buckley
said that after he refused, management called Dayton police
and had him arrested, handcuffed and removed on a criminal
trespassing charge. Buckley said he was taken to jail, then
posted a $124 bond and directed to appear Tuesday
in Dayton Municipal Court-Dayton Daily News
"The crisis at Delphi will not be settled in the courts,
it will be settled in the streets"

BP Refinery in Texas Called Biggest Polluter

3-day March Protests Death Penalty

Unseen America: Low-Wage Workers Document Their Lives on Film in New Book

Brazil follows Iran's nuclear path, but without the fuss
Posted 4/20/2006 3:16 PM ET